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Archive of Communist Workers Group of Aoteaora/New Zealand up to 2006

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Venezuela and the Cuban road to ‘socialism’

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At this year’s World Social Forum the cry was raised “Lula No! Chavez Si”! This chant captured the politics of the young and old radicals alike who look to Chavez as the best yet hope for socialism. CWG attended a session of the Asia-Pacific International Solidarity Conference in Sydney over Easter on the Venezuelan revolution. When we and others argued that Chavez was not capable of leading the Venezuelan workers to socialism, we were met with claims by the Democratic Socialist Party members that Chavez was a “Marxist” and was following the Cuban road to ‘socialism’. What’s up with Chavez?

Chavez in his closing speech before a full stadium in Porto Alegre, sported a Che T-shirt and was given a rapturous reception. Once more he talked about the need for socialism to achieve the goals of the Bolivarian revolution. On the face of it this sounded like Chavez was prepared to break with US imperialism and nationalise the property of the imperialists and local capitalists. Those whose hopes had been attached to Lula and his Worker’s Party Government in Brazil two years ago, and were now disillusioned by his attacks on workers and his sacking of left wing parliamentarians, now saw Chavez as picking up the mantle of the socialist cause of Castro and Che Guevara.

The Democratic Socialist Party of Australia is an example of a former Trotskyist group that has become an open cheerleader for Castro. In the recent APISC conference in Sydney, CWG members were told by a DSP militant that their ‘co-thinkers’ in Latin America were the Cuban Communist Party. When we said the Castro was restoring capitalism in Cuba and was a betrayer of the Latin American revolution, this comrade said that Castro was now fighting restoration and that the articles of Celia Hart showed that it was possible for Castroites and Trotskyites to be allies in the class struggle.

Celia Hart is the daughter of a two leading revolutionaries in Cuba. She has recently written about the need to adopt Trotsky’s view of permanent revolution in Cuba and Latin America. What she means by this is what Che Guevara meant when he said “either socialist revolution or a caricature of revolution”, that the Stalinist view of two revolutionary stages, first national, then socialist, must be abandoned. Chavez has also realised that Venezuela cannot be independent short of socialism. But what does socialism mean?

The fact is that Celia Hart’s ‘rediscovery’ of Trotsky is like the post-modernists ‘rediscovery’ of Marx. This ‘Trotsky’ is a museum exhibit like the mausoleum of Lenin. Celia Hart says that Trotsky’s ideas should be discussed like those of Gramsci and Mariategui! This is a dead Trotsky, whose politics have been transformed into their opposite. Instead of an uncompromising fight for working class independence, this ‘Trotsky’ calls a bourgeois president a ‘Marxist’ or even ‘Trotskyist’. Even serious ‘Trotskyists’ like the el Militante tendency of Alan Woods gives critical support to Chavez. This only confuses workers by presenting Chavez as capable of defending the revolution instead of warning workers that only they can defend their class against a counter-revolution. For example, Celia Hart recognises that a US attack on Venezuela will come, but instead of calling for soviets and workers militias now, she talks of an ‘international brigade’ like in Spain to come to the rescue of Venezuela!

Objectively Chavez is the President of a bourgeois state that defends private property. There is a huge gap between his ‘socialist’ rhetoric and his actions protecting Venezuelan capitalism. Towards the end of his speech at the WSF, Chavez defended Lula’s Government for facing up to the difficult task of defending the masses against imperialism. This was an indirect admission by Chavez that he too has to negotiate and make concessions to imperialism and sometimes attack workers directly, as he did at Sidor, on the ‘road to socialism’!

Those on the left who defend Chavez as a ‘Marxist’ or even a ‘Trotskyist’, are in effect liquidating the independent role of the revolutionary party in transforming a national revolution against imperialism into a socialist revolution. Instead they are substituting as the workers’ ‘vanguard’ a fraction of the national bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, or Castroite bureaucracy, who all try to use the state and mass support to negotiate better terms with imperialism. Chavez has come to understand that he will sooner or later face a US blockade and end up going further than he formally intended. And rather than follow Allende, his model is clearly closer to Cuba where Castro was forced by the US blockade to go further than he intended and proclaim ‘socialism’.

But Cuba under Castro has never been socialist. It’s revolution was not based on a mass movement but upon a petty bourgeois national democratic independence movement. The class character of the Cuban revolution remains petty bourgeois and bureaucratic caught between the Latin American proletariat and imperialism. Its role is not to encourage revolution but to moderate the class struggle and negotiate a class compromise like Stalin did. Castro acted like Stalin in every Latin American revolution from the 1960s onward. In Chile he backed Allende’s refusal to arm the workers for fear it would provoke imperialism. Disastrous betrayal! In Nicaragua he backed the Sandinista’s attempts to negotiate with the US rather than mobilise mass resistance. Disastrous betrayal! Today, his advice to Latin American leaders is to follow Cuba’s current path in negotiating a deal between the market and ‘socialism’ –something called ‘market socialism’ – betrayal again!

However, despite its counter-revolutionary role in Latin America, Cuba did expropriate the imperialists and national capitalists. Therefore it must be supported and defended from imperialism and capitalist restoration. But the only way to prevent capitalist restoration is to remove the Castroite bureaucracy and install a workers’ and small farmers’ government in its place. We say the same with Chavez and the Bolivarian movement. We support his regime unconditionally against imperialism. But we cannot give him the slightest political support. Why? Because Chavez is the President of a bourgeois state balanced between the Venezuelan masses and US imperialism. Like Castro, who is gradually accommodating imperialism by allowing it to buy up state assets in Cuba, Chavez is reluctant to directly confront imperialism by nationalising imperialist assets.

This fact is clear from the one and only nationalisation of a factory that has taken place so far. Venepal, a paper-making plant owned by a US corporation, was recently nationalised and put under joint government/worker co-management. The workers occupied the plant over a year ago calling on Chavez to nationalise it, but Chavez did so only when he satisfied that the owners were closing it down and it could be nationalised under the Constitution as ‘unproductive’. What results is a state-owned corporation in which the workers compete with capitalist firms in a capitalist economy. The program the workers need is not piecemeal nationalisations but wholesale expropriation not only of bankrupt factories, but of all major profitable factories, farms and banks without compensation to the bosses and under workers control as part of a planned economy!

The Cuba model is wrong for another life and death reason. Unlike Cuba, there are no Soviet missiles to ‘protect’ Venezuela. Castro’s bureaucratised worker state survived because of the Cold War standoff between imperialism and the degenerated workers states. Venezuela would not survive an imperialist counter-revolution and invasion without armed workers and farmers militia. Chavez may declare his loyalty to the interests of the masses, but his actions expose the masses to a terrible historic defeat. Any illusions that Chavez can defend workers in the event of a US sponsored civil war (e.g. invasion from Colombia) can only disarm the workers and lead to their defeat.

What is needed is not pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric about the ‘Marxist’ Chavez leading the way on the road to socialism, but the organisation of the Venezuelan workers, peasants and soldiers into armed Soviets capable of mobilising a ‘Red Army’ to defend the national revolution from the counter-revolution and to go on to seize the power in the name of a workers’ and peasant’s government.

For a national congress of the CNT and workers and peasant organisations in struggle!
For the expropriation of land, industry and the banks without compensation and under peasant and worker control!
For soviets and workers and peasants militias and soldiers committees!
For a Workers’ and working Farmers’ government! 

From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005


Written by raved

January 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Leaflet for the 2nd Congress of CONLUTAS in Porto Allegre, January 2005

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For a CONLUTAS with Soviets everywhere!

The electoral victory of the popular front in Brazil and the participation of the CUT in the government of Lula, proved conclusively the bankruptcy of the bureaucracy which began in the 80s and crystallized in the last twenty years. The CUT, PT bureaucracy never called for the overthrow of the bourgeois state. Its record of struggle was limited to fighting for improvements for workers within capitalism
The conformism and adaptation of the CUT bureaucracy was accompanied by a form of undemocratic union organization separated from its membership base that gradually consolidated into the extreme that we see today: the statization of the CUT, the vertical structure, and the defense of the privatizations and neo-liberal reforms. While the CUT defends sectorial representation and ‘organic unionism’ it is already completely bureaucratized with only 1 delegate for by each 1500 members; the high wages paid to the officials creates a privileged and corrupt gangster layer whose interests are totally opposed to those of the membership; a caste that uses the union apparatus of the central command to serve Lula. For this reason the CUT could not give birth to an anti-capitalist program.

The CONLUTAS is a progressive initiative of a sector of the vanguard militants who have broken with the CUT and are opposed to the government of the Popular Front of Lula PT/PC neo-liberal health reforms, and in response to the CUT entering the FNT (National Labor Forum) definitively abandoning its roots in the working class. The formation of the CONLUTAS is the vanguard’s answer to the complete servility of the CUT to the government of the PT and the bourgeois State. It is also a demonstration that the will to struggle of the proletariat in Brazil did not die with the betrayal of the CUT with the subservience of the PT to the reforms of the bourgeois State.


The CONLUTAS is made up of several political organizations including the PSTU that today is leading the process of construction and strengthening of the new union, reorganizing the vanguard, the union and the popular movement for the defense of social and labor rights. We must support and participate in that process.

But it is necessary to say clearly that the PSTU, for a long time, was also in the leadership of the CUT. In fact, it played the role of left cover for the right policy the majority. Now, as a calculated political and electoral move, the PSTU decides to break with the CUT and to create CONLUTAS. Sadly, the PSTU does not have revolutionary politics. It will try to transform the CONLUTAS into a pressure group on government, into a sort of “CUT No 2”. Thus, in the unions it leads, it does not organize the membership base; the mobilizations it leads are token marches to pressure the bourgeois parliament in Brasilia. The political program of the PSTU does not go beyond the limits of capitalism either: that is, not beyond opposition to the union, labor and university reforms, the FTAA and the “neo-liberal model” in general.

The PSOL – the Party of the Socialism and Freedom, organized by the sector of the PT left that broke with the PT – is, in fact, “a new” version of the PT. It does not participate actively in the construction of the CONLUTAS due to its electioneering focus; it has a foot in both camps. While the PSOL has broken with the CUT, only some of their tendencies (e.g. Cliffites) defend CONLUTAS. PSOL does not call for its members to break with the CUT. On the contrary, it reinforces the illusion that the membership should stay in the CUT and fight to take over the leadership.

Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists and CONLUTAS

What worries us is that the Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyists who are active in the day to day building of CONLUTAS – and we call on all the activists and fighters who are engaged in this process to listen to our concerns – is that the CONLUTAS must bury all the bad habits of the bureaucratic unionism of the CUT, or risk recreating a new union bureaucracy which will again deceive the vanguard that is fighting for a democratic CONLUTAS.

We use this occasion to denounce the PSTU’s use of the same policy as the CUT bureaucracy to finance Cesar Benjamim and James Petras to come to the 2nd Congress of CONLUTAS. We are against this because it uses the funds of the workers struggle without demanding that the money be repaid. On the contrary, anybody who has the interests of proletariat in its struggle against capitalism at heart will pay out of their own pocket for that fight. While we workers rely on our poor wages to be at the congress, these gentlemen are privileged to have their hotel, food and transport costs guaranteed. These gentlemen, who live much better than workers, should have to donate to the movement, not to be paid by it. The PSTU hypocritically condemns this practice, used for years by the CT bureaucracy as a means of corrupting militants and activists, before the membership, but defends it to the intellectuals.

No to the CORRUPTION of the MILITANTS (“We must live for the movement and not on the movement “, Leon Trotsky – Transitional Program).

There must be maximum workers’ democracy in the daily operation and decision making of CONLUTAS. Transparency, respect and equality in relation to minority sectors, discussion and decision making by the rank and file membership, are essential conditions to guarantee workers’ democracy inside the union. CONLUTAS, taking the example of the Soviets, must be open to a broadest membership, from the union organizations, student movement, popular movements and revolutionary political organizations, to prevent the formation of a bureaucratic apparatus.

This form of organization must be combined with a workers and farmers political platform:

· Down with the Lula/PT/PC government of Brazil and its neo-liberal reforms!
· Down with the regime of the social pact headed by Cardoso yesterday and Lula-Alencar today, supported by its agents in the CUT, accomplices in the murder of the poor farmers and the domination of Brazil by imperialism!
· Expel from the unions the CT bureaucracy sold out to the regime!
· For a CONLUTAS with a proletarian and Soviet program, and down the reformist program of the PSTU for the CONLUTAS!

CONLUTAS cannot avoid being a minority and the fact that most of the proletariat is still controlled by the CUT bureaucracy. It is not enough to offer the workers a place to go. It is necessary to go and look for them where they are and to show them the way. For this, it is necessary to raise the fight against the statization of the unions, for workers’ democracy and a revolutionary leadership of the unions; to create organs of workers’ democracy of the masses that overcome the barriers that the bureaucratic caste has imposed on the unions.

· No interference of the state in the working organizations!
· No union law with which the patterns and their state regulate the working organizations!
· Neither the current law, nor the new one that they want to impose!
· Down the compulsory conciliation, the boss’s state’s hands off the worker’s organizations!
· Independence of workers organizations!
· Down with the union bureaucracy!
· Pay union leaders the workers’ average wage, with mandates recallable at any time by decision of the assembly and bodies of delegates, and a return to the workplace without right of re-election!
· End the compulsory discount of the union quotas!
· For leaders and delegates to meet monthly in the factories and workplaces!

It is necessary that CONLUTAS boldly promotes the formation of strike and factory committees and pickets, which are the only means to organize the exploited layers of the proletariat alongside the committees of unemployed and landless farmers, united around the central demands for a sliding scale of wages and working hours, against the wage agreements and labor concessions signed by the bureaucratic officials, against the notorious social pact of exploitation and slavery, and for land for the farmers. This is the way to advance and realize a national Congress of workers’ and farmers delegates with self-defense committees – embryos of the workers’ militia with the perspective to defeat the regime of the social pact and its government, and to advance towards the creation of a workers’ and farmers’ government based on the armed, revolutionary masses in struggle.


But the real danger to the revolutionary perspective of the CONLUTAS is its subordination to the World Social Forum that the PSTU is trying to impose. Because while the organizers of the WSF have not finally accepted that the 2nd national Congress of CONLUTAS is an official event of the Forum, it is clear that this is the policy of the PSTU: to make sure that CONLUTAS is born and develops inside the cave of bandits of the WSF –traitors of the world revolution, enemy of the Iraqi resistance, loyal servants of the apartheid forced on the heroic Palestinian people, stranglers of the Argentine and Bolivian revolutions, betrayers of the Central American revolution, lackeys of Bush with the AFL-CIO and of French-German imperialism along with the bureaucracies and workers’ aristocracies of Europe.

Thus, the PSTU, while on one hand it calls for a break with the CUT and to integrate itself into CONLUTAS, on the other hand it takes the combative vanguard that looks for a way to defeat the bureaucracy, the employer’s association and the government, and puts it on its knees before the WSF, that is to say, before the bureaucracy, the government of Lula, and the Castro bureaucracy that is preparing capitalist restoration in Cuba, etc.

For that reason, the Marxists, Leninists, and Trotskyists, who signed this declaration, put forward a motion to the assembled workers and youth vanguard in CONLUTAS: we propose that its Congress resolves explicitly to fight for “Down with the World Social Forum of Lula, Chávez and Fidel Castro, of the AFL-CIO, those accomplices and servants of imperialism, traitors of the Latin American and world revolution! No subordination of CONLUTAS to World Social Forum!

We propose that alongside this struggle and as the first internationalist task of the Brazilian working class, that the 2nd Congress of CONLUTAS denounces the counter-revolutionary continental policy of the government of Lula that, with the support and the support of the bureaucracy of the CUT, Fidel Castro, Chávez, and the reformist World Social Forum, which is at the point of the imperialist’s spear to contain and to strangle the revolutionary struggle of the Argentine, Bolivian, and Peruvian working class and of all Latin America.

· Down the continental counter-revolutionary policy of Lula, of the Castro bureaucracy that is preparing the completion of capitalist restoration in Cuba, and of Chávez who sells petroleum to the Yankee imperialists to kill the Iraqi people!

· It is necessary to declare war against that holy alliance that, at the hands of the mercenaries Lula, Kirchner and Lagos, sends troops in the service of imperialism to massacre the Haitian people!

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005

Written by raved

January 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Leaflet for the 5th World Social Forum, Porto Allegre, January 2005

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The 5th meeting of the WSF prepares new sellouts of the Castroite restoration bureaucracy and US imperialists.

The World Social Forum (WSF) – meeting in Porto Allegre in January 2005 for the fifth time, has an ominous significance for the organizations and the struggle of the workers of Brazil, Latin America and of the world. It mystifies and confuses with its reactionary strategy of class conciliation, suppressing the direct action and revolutionary politics of the masses. The WSF unites the worlds reformists (social democracy, stalinism, and pseudo-Trotskyism), such as the PT [Workers Party of Brazil], the petty bourgeoisie, the NGOs, the church, the CUT [pro-Chavez bureaucratized union movement of Brazil] and leadership of the MST [movement of landless workers]. “Another World is possible”, in the after life in the sky; here and now the WSF adapts to the declining capitalist State and its barbarism.

The 5th WSF takes place at a time of intense class struggle with the US offensive against the Iraqi people. The re-election of President Bush and the election of Abu Mazen in Palestine demonstrate that imperialism will ruthlessly pursue its objective to exploit, dominate and oppress the Iraqi and Palestinian people, in a wild drive to sack and plunder the natural wealth of the Middle East. Oil, vital to the survival of North American industry, is what made it go to war to loot and plunder Iraq which has the 3rd largest reserve. As well as oil, the US war industry also profits from the war.

The United States must exercise its world domination by the use of the force, occupying Iraqi territory, and trampling on every principle of national sovereignty, supported hypocritically by the international organisms of the bourgeoisie, like the UN, and the class collaborationist line of the World Social Forum. Yet the occupation of Iraq has fallen far short of what the Pentagon wanted because despite the huge and escalating cost of suppressing the Iraqi resistance it has not yet forced the Iraqi people to accept the occupation. Already, the US has had more than 1,500 casualties (according to the bourgeois media). Another test of the hypocrisy of the US is its insistence on holding elections in Iraq, a farce which is designed to legitimize it domination military behind a screen of bourgeois democracy.
All this proves that the use of ‘revolutionary terror’ by the Iraqi masses against the US occupation is totally legitimate, and that the calls for peace and condemnations of the use of violence by Iraqis is a demagogic conspiracy by the bourgeoisies, the petty bourgeoisie and their agents designed to suppress the peoples’ instinct to defend their country. All the gangsters are united internationally in the defense of the ideals and security of the capitalist society and their state regimes, that have as their ‘mission’ the exploitation and the domination of the semi-colonial nations by imperialism and “the legitimate” defense of imperialistic super-exploitation and oppression.

For that reason the servile lackeys of imperialism and defenders of capitalist exploitation daily condemn the use of the revolutionary violence of the Iraqi people, since this is the one true, real threat to the power of the imperialistic bourgeoisie and its accomplices. If the opposition to violence was grounded in the interest of the working class, why do these pacifists not condemn the reactionary violence of the US that almost daily drops their bombs on thousands of innocent civilians, young and old; that daily destroys public buildings, historical and cultural treasures, houses, hospitals and schools, causing indiscriminate and immeasurable genocide? Why do they shut up before the tortures inflicted on the Iraqi militia in the prison of Abu Graib and the prisoners of Guantánamo? Or perhaps these do not constitute forms of violence? The only violence condemned by the lackeys of imperialism, is that directed against bourgeois hegemony.

Bourgeois and petty bourgeois pacifism condemns the violence of the exploited against the exploiters, organizing themselves globally to legitimize the violence of capitalism including of state fascism, as is the case of the politics of the World Social Forum. Thus it disarms the proletariat of its militant ideas and reinforces the oppression and domination of imperialism and capitalism in decline.

The WSF is an initiative of the global reformists (social democracy, Stalinism, and the pseudo Trotskyism), of the Workers Party (PT), the petty bourgeoisie, the NGOs, the church, the CUT (Workers Union Central of Brazil) and direction of the MST (union of landless workers of Brazil) all are financed by the governments and international organisms of imperialism, to put pressure on the imperialistic bourgeoisies (that meet at the World Economic Forum at Davis) to give more breadcrumbs to the poor countries. The main organizers are ABONG (Brazilian Association of non-Governmental Organizations), ATTAC (Action by the Taxation of Financial Transactions to the Citizens), CBJP (Brazilian Commission of Justice and Peace of CNBB), in addition to CUT, MST, UJS, UNITES, CMP and others, all related to national and international governmental organs. Indeed because the FSM arose to make a counter-pressure to the Economic Forum of Davis, their meetings always precede it. (Leaders of the WSF like Lula, also go to the WEF).

The WSF announces that “Another World is possible”, without violence, shared by all, with justice, without social exclusion, and of equality between all peoples. It recycles as its principles and justification, old clichés long used to suppress the independent struggle of the working class from the time of the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels that first said that “the liberation of the workers will be work of the workers”, that is, that liberation will only come from the victory of the proletarian revolution, nationally and internationally. Thus, the World Social Forum orates at the funeral of the workers who are made to wait for a better world after their death.

Another method used to mystify the unions and workers struggle: the NGOs penetrate these movements with their humanitarian, pacifist and ecological ideologies, trying to replace the method of direct fight against capitalist exploitation, in all its forms, with the method of the pacific appeals and voluntary aid (alms, something typical of the religious mentality). They say, that the proletarian method of direct action, armed or not, is ineffective in the transformation of the capitalist society into a world of social equality. They say that the proletariat organized as a class to fight Capitalism, does not bring about any improvement in the lives of the workers and the people. For that reason they try to sell to the governments their assistance projects (especially in the poor countries) which they claim can provide solutions to the social evils of prostitution, unemployment, violence, illiteracy etc.

Therefore, the WSF is promoted and justified by the strategy and world-view of the petty bourgeoisie desperate to survive as a class that lives on the dregs and the breadcrumbs of the bourgeoisie. It is most damaging because it infects the movement of workers of Brazil, Latin America and of the world, with a conformist, stingy and anti-proletarian ideology. More importantly, the WSF is supported by the treacherous leaders of the masses, whose objective is to strangle the proletarian struggle on a global level and, in the case of Latin America, the revolutionary struggle of the workers and the exploited masses, like yesterday in Central America, today in Bolivia and Venezuela, and soon in Ecuador and Argentina, to subjugate them at the feet of the bourgeoisies.

In this fifth World Social Forum the NGOs and the churches are a key element, where they play the role “of mediators” sprinkling holy water on the revolutionary struggles of the masses, to bless those that were the key figures at previous WSF meetings, including its predecessor, the Forum of San Pablo, that are all today participating in bourgeois regimes and governments, or openly supporting them.

There is colonel Gutiérrez, leading the government of Ecuador, who presented himself in the previous meetings of “the patriotic” WSF as an “anti-imperialist”, but selling out to the plans of the IMF, and preparing to sign a free trade agreement with the Yankees, and starving and repressing the workers and the farmers.

There are the old Sandinista commanders of Nicaragua and those of the FMLN of El Salvador, founders of the old Forum of San Pablo next to Chacho Alvarez of Argentina, the bourgeois red Cardinal of the PRD of Mexico, Aristide of Haiti, friend of Fidel Castro and killer of his people -, administering declining semi-colonial Capitalism in those nations and as mayors and parliamentarians, ‘dolarizing’ El Salvador, applying the plans of the IMF and making deals for imperialist re-colonization.

There we see the supposedly “anti-imperialist” Chávez who continues selling petroleum to Bush and the Yankees, who use it to fuel the military machine to massacre the Iraqi people.

There, in that Forum, are the communist parties of Latin America which hold their “World Seminar” every year to agree on their counter-revolutionary politics before traveling to the meeting of the WSF. They are the stalinists and Castroists in all its variants, that all openly support the US lackey Kirchner in Argentina, as demanded by Fidel Castro when he visited that country in 2003; that like the Peruvian CGTP supports the hated government of Toledo; that in Bolivia, along with Solares and Quispe, support Mesa with their truce; that in the case of Castroite bureaucracy is prepared to complete the capitalist restoration in Cuba.

There, also in that Forum, are the communist parties and the union bureaucracies that in Europe have led the working class, as in Spain, Germany, Britain, into the governments of the social-imperialist parties who create the illusions of French-German-Spanish ‘democratic imperialism’. There also is the union bureaucracy of the US AFL-CIO that yesterday supported Bush and marines in Afghanistan and Iraq, and today wants the US working class prostrate at the feet of the imperialistic killers in the Democratic Party.

Against this den of liquidators of the proletarian revolution and expropriators of the workers struggles, the members of the Committee of Connection counter pose the struggle for an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary international workers organizations, fighting to regroup the healthy forces of Trotskyism to recreate a World Party of the Socialist Revolution. For that reason, we commit ourselves to confront and to fight against that treacherous Forum, and to mobilize all our forces and energies, to defeat social democracy, stalinism, the labor aristocracies and bureaucracies of all types, and the liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism, who are dragging in the mud the name, the program and the flag of the 4th International.

The revolutionaries who have signed this declaration, follow the Transitional Program of the 4th International, and repudiate and fight uncompromisingly against popular fronts and all political groups who hang onto the aprons strings of the bourgeoisie; our task is the abolition of the capitalist domination; our objective, socialism, our method, the proletarian revolution.

We must make this fight with all our forces, because the international proletariat needs to raise a spotless flag, a program based on the international experience of the proletariats fight for the freedom of all oppressed peoples of the world; that is the flag of the Trotskyism.

For that reason, we are not part of World Social Forum, nor do we support it in any way. On the contrary, we are here to denounce the farce called for WSF before the worldwide activist vanguard who are gathered here, the mass union movements, students’ movements, and unemployed people etc., who believe in the goal of socialism. The World Social Forum is an anti-proletarian den. For that reason, we denounce it before the poor people of the world; we say that its politics does not serve the interests of workers; we denounce its organizers as parasites that live off the taxes paid by the exploited labor power of the people.

The greatest violence that humanity imposes on the oppressed is capitalism itself (private ownership of the means of production) and the crises of overproduction that are inherent in that system, (the minimum wage does not correspond to 10% of working families’ necessities). According to bourgeois sources: the number of poor people in the world has risen to around 307 million. The Report of the Conference of the UN Committee for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published recently, shows that in the last 30 years the number of people who live on less than one US dollar a day has doubled. It predicts that by 2015, the poor countries will have 420 million people living below the poverty line. In some regions, mainly in Africa, part of the population already live on less than US 57 cents, while a Swiss citizen spends US$ 61.9 per day. In the 1970s around 56% of the African population lived on less than a dollar a day. Today, this proportion is 65%. Poverty is increasing, not diminishing. The workers and youth in general are at the mercy of this absolute violence, of hunger, misery, unemployment, prostitution, drugs etc..

The remedy for the violence of the capitalism that social science reveals, is the international socialist revolution, the expropriation of the expropriator, the socialization of the means of production.

· Out with the imperialistic troops of Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Haiti!
· For the military defeat of all imperialistic troops occupying Iraq!
· For the victory of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses!
· For the triumph of the Latin American working class and the world socialist revolution!
· Long Live the struggle on the workers and exploited people of Bolivia who lead the way!
· Imperialism out of Bolivia! Down with the government of Mesa, break the truce made by Evo Morales, Solares of the COB, and Quispe of the CSUTCB!
· For a national Congress of delegates of rank and file of the COB and the farmers unions, for a political general strike, with barricades, pickets, workers militias and committees of soldiers, that can overthrow Mesa and the regime of the mine-owners, imposing a revolutionary provisional government of the COB and the farmers unions, supported by the armed, independent organizations of the masses!

Signed by FTI-CI (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia), CWG (NZ), FT-PV (Brazil) and CLA (Australia)

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005

Written by raved

January 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Terror in Apure: Workers must lead the Defence of Venezuela!

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Coming just weeks after Chavez’ victory in the recall referendum with 58% of the vote a new massacre of soldiers and oil workers by anti-Chavez forces has occurred in Apure. Despite the apparent stability of Venezuela after the referendum it is clear that the anti-Chavez forces will use whatever means to destablise the country. We argue that Chavez cannot defend the workers and peasants of Venezuela, only the formation of workers, peasants and soldiers militias that are independent of Chavez can do that.

On September 17th five Venezuelan soldiers and one oil worker were killed near the town of Guasdualito, in a remote corner of Venezuela’s Apure province. The soldiers and workers had been searching for oil under the jungles and swamps of Apure. Two days later, the bodies of three oil workers were discovered near the scene of the first attack. The workers’ hands had been tied behind their backs. Three more bodies have since been discovered, strewn on a road near Guasdualito. They are thought to belong to the force that carried out the September 17th attack

The same Western media which lavishes attention on the execution of hostages in Iraq has almost completely ignored the Guasdualito killings. The politicians who shed crocodile tears over the fate of Western oil workers in Iraq have studiously ignored the murder of Venezuelan oil workers. Yet the Guasdualito killings are only the latest in a series of terror attacks against the people of Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flew to Guasdualito and told locals that the killings were part of ‘Washington’s war agenda’ to divide his country and Colombia and ‘sell lots of arms’.

The Colombian government has denied any involvement in the killings, claiming that they could have been carried out by a ‘pro-Chavez armed group’ called the ‘Bolivarian Liberation Front’. But the ‘Bolivarian Liberation Front’ exists only in the propaganda of the Colombian government, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, and the Bush administration. The spectre of the Front has been invoked again and again to justify the creation of opposition paramilitaries inside Venezuela, and to excuse aggressive Colombian ‘border policing’.

It is no surprise that Colombia has been a launching pad for renewed attacks on Venezuela. Alvaro Uribe, the most pro-US leader in South America, is fighting his own war against two left-wing Colombian guerrilla groups. US ‘military advisers’ fight alongside Uribe’s army and US aircraft criss-cross Colombian skies. Uribe has accused Chavez of aiding Colombia’s leftists; Bush’s government has gone one step further and claimed that Al Qaeda terrorists are using Venezuela’s Margarita Island as well as its border with Colombia as training grounds.

In reality, of course, it has been Colombian terrorists who have been crossing the border into Venezuela, where they try to destabilise the Chavez government with actions like the Guasdualito massacre. Most of the terrorists seem to belong to right-wing paramilitary groups aligned with the Uribe government and Venezuela’s opposition, but the possibility of the direct involvement of Colombian and US soldiers cannot be discounted. Colombian paramilitaries have not only appeared in isolated rural regions: in May of this year one hundred and thirty of them were discovered on the outskirts of Caracas, where they had apparently gathered to prepare an attack on Chavez.

Background to the current situation

One or two commentators have suggested that the Guasdualito attacks represent the beginning of a Contra-style terror campaign against the Chavez government and its supporters. In reality, terrorist attacks by the Venezuelan opposition and Colombian paramilitaries have been occurring for years in the Venezuelan countryside. Dozens members of pro-Chavez peasants’ associations have already been assassinated.

But the ongoing terror campaign Venezuela’s countryside has been overshadowed by the coup attempts of 2002 and the employers’ lockout of 2002-2003 which posed much greater threats to Chavez regime.

Chavez was rescued from the coup attempt and the lockout by the mobilisation of workers who took to the streets and the oil fields on their own initiative. After each attempt to remove Chavez failed, the opposition were quick to arrive at a deal with him to prevent the workers from taking power while they regrouped their forces. Chavez ‘pardoned’ the opposition, guaranteed the US oil supply and told the workers to go home. After the lockout failed, the US backed the agreement between Chavez and its representative, Jimmy Carter, the Venezuela opposition, and members of the Organisation of American States.

In the aftermath of its heavy defeat in the recent Presidential recall referendum, Venezuela’s opposition and its Colombian allies may choose to intensify the campaign of terror. A faction of the opposition denounced the referendum result as fraudulent, and used Venezuela’s private media to appeal unsuccessfully for a military coup and a popular uprising. They shot nine anti-Chavez protesters on the outskirts of Caracas, in an apparent attempt to repeat the faked ‘Chavez massacre’ used to justify the April 2002 coup.

The US ruling class quickly recognised the reality of the opposition’s latest election defeat. Re-assured by Chavez’ call for ‘national unity’ and the uninterrupted supply of Venezuela oil, at a time when the US is bogged down in Iraq, Jimmy Carter and the New York Times urged respect for the referendum result, criticised opposition calls for violence, and demanded a US dialogue with Chavez’s government, while Wall St responded with a healthy movement in stock values.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration has continued to keep the pressure on Chavez. At the beginning of September it used trumped-up human trafficking charges to slap 250 million dollars’ worth of sanctions on Venezuela. Fifteen US black hawk helicopters recently flew from Colombia deep into Venezuela, in a show of naked aggression. Chavez was forced to abandon plans to address the UN’s recent annual leaders’ meeting, after the US government refused to provide him with security or guarantee his safety.

Chavez army ‘reforms’

Chavez has responded to the Guasdualito massacre by announcing a major reform of his armed forces. The new ‘National Defence Plan’ will be ‘humanitarian-based’, and will aim to increase the morale of soldiers by educating them politically and giving them greater contact with the civilian population. Quoting Mao Zedong, Chavez told the people of Guasdualito that ‘In the end it will not be the side with the most arms that wins the war, but the side with the most morale’.

It is likely that Chavez is intending to purge the army of pro-opposition elements by sacking or demoting them and replacing them with loyal members of left-wing and workers’ organisations. Chavez may attempt to set up some sort of popular militia, under the control of the army, as part of the effort to dilute the power of hostile officers. After the discovery of the paramilitary force in May he announced that he wanted to find ways for the civilian population to ‘massively participate in the defence of the nation’. The army will probably also be forced to work more closely with the ‘Missions’ already set up to bypass the old opposition-controlled state bureaucracy and implement Chavez’s social policies.

Chavez has faced major opposition within the armed forces since 2000, when two hundred military men resigned en masse from his Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement. Soldiers who had fought beside Chavez during his 1992 coup were unable to tolerate the leftward trajectory of his administration. Since the April 2002 coup that briefly overthrew him Chavez has sought to purge the armed forces of these opponents, and to promote younger, loyal officers.

Chavez’s ‘National Defence Plan’ symbolises the general political programme of his government. Chavez talks of anti-imperialist war and a people’s army, but proposes no fundamental reform of the armed forces. His radical rhetoric hides a determination to work within the limits of capitalism and the capitalist state.

Chavez ‘Bonapartist’ role

Chavez was thrust into power by the mass mobilisations of workers and peasants against the neo-liberal economic attacks of the 1980s and 1990s. He came to power determined to be a ‘Bonapartist’ strongman balancing the interests of workers and capitalists against US imperialism and its local lackeys. Chavez wanted to develop a ‘national capitalism’ in opposition to US imperialism and globalisation. But the hostility of the vast majority of the Venezuelan capitalist class, who are little more than the lackeys of US business, forced Chavez to rely more and more heavily on his loyal army officers, and his mass support, among the poor workers of the barrios and the peasantry.

Chavez has enacted a number of progressive reforms, and replaced enemies in the state apparatus with representatives of workers’, peasants’ and indigenous organisations. But he has resisted calls to change Venezuelan society fundamentally by nationalising the economy under workers’ and peasants’ control.

As the self-styled successor to Simon Bolivar who fought for Venezuela’s independence from Spain, Chavez has illusions in finishing the revolution started by Boliva and creating an independent capitalist Venezuela in which workers, peasants, capitalists and state officials can all participate and share equitably in the national wealth.

But what Chavez doesn’t see is that national independence cannot succeed in a semi-colony dominated by imperialism unless it is won by the revolutionary workers leading the peasants in the overthrow of the state itself. As the defender of ‘state capitalism’ Chavez finds himself inevitably the defender of the private property of US imperialism against the threat of a socialist revolution.

Breaking the Sidor strike

The class character of Chavez’s ‘Bolivarian revolution’ was shown up very clearly during the bitter strike that took place at the Sidor steelworks in Bolivar state in April and May of this year. The biggest steel mill in South America, Sidor was privatised in 1997, and since then the steady casualisation of the workforce has caused a stream of industrial accidents.

When Sidor’s 11,000 workers went on strike demanding renationalisation Chavez’s response was to side with their bosses and send in the National Guard, which opened fire on picketers on April the 29th. After 19 days the strike was broken, though none of the Sidor workers crossed the picket line.
The conflict at Sidor offers lessons for the Venezuelans menaced by cross-border raids and opposition assassination squads. An army which fires even rubber bullets and gas pellets on workers on behalf of a multinational company is not capable of protecting workers and peasants from imperialism.

Chavez cannot free the peasantry

Chavez’s own response to the Guasdualito massacre shows the gap between his Bolivarian politics and the interests of the Latin American people threatened by terrorism.

In his speech to the people of Guasdualito, Chavez claimed that Colombia’s right-wing paramilitaries were not normally ‘enemies of our country, but if they are in our territory, from that moment on they become our enemies, because they violate the sovereignty of Venezuela’.

Yet right-wing paramilitaries and the government that backs them together kill thousands of Colombians every year. Colombia has the worst safety record for trade unionists in the world, with scores dying every year from bullets and bombs. How can Colombia’s paramilitaries cease to be the deadly enemies of workers and peasants, just because they cross an invisible border?

If Chavez were a real revolutionary, he would denounce the Colombian paramilitaries wherever they operate, and give assistance to the Colombians who fight the paramilitaries and the Uribe government. But Chavez’s fear of offending the Colombian and US governments trumps any commitment he might feel to the Colombian opponents of imperialism and terrorism.

Most of the victims of violence in the countryside have been peasants struggling for the redistribution of land held by Venezuela’s capitalist class and by foreign landlords. In November 2001 the Chavez government responded to peasant pressure by passing the Land Reform Law, which provided for the nationalisation of seventy-five million acres of idle land. Opposition governors and National Assembly members reacted furiously, and managed to tie the land reform process up in red tape. Militant peasants responded by seizing land promised to them by Chavez. In some places they divided the land into individual titles; in other places they have established huge collective farms. Between the end of 2001 and the end of last year over five million acres of land was redistributed.

Not surprisingly, leaders of peasant co-operative associations continue to be prime targets for Venezuela’s terrorists. Chavez has repeatedly urged peasants not to defend themselves with arms. He wants them to rely on the protection of the army that opened fire on the workers of Sidor.

For Workers and peasants councils and militias!

In the cities of Venezuela, the workers of the barrios are also threatened by terrorism. Urban paramilitary groups set up barricades to ‘defend’ wealthy neighbourhoods, and snipe at left-wing demonstrators from rooftops. During the National Lockout of 2002-2003, right-wing forces firebombed buses carrying workers to oil installations, and assassinated pro-government union leaders. Chavez allied himself with workers during the lockout when it was his own survival that was at stake, but at Sidor he showed that he will use Venezuela’s ‘official’ army on behalf of the class that funds Venezuela’s terrorists.

The workplace-based National Organisation of Workers (UNT) and the barrio-based Bolivarian Circles have been amongst the biggest supporters of Chavez. The UNT formed only in August 2003 is organisationally independent of Chavez’s state and his party, the Fifth Republic Movement. Chavez refused to attend the founding conference of the UNT, in protest at its call for the nationalisation of the economy under workers’ control and the establishment of a workers’ government.

In the aftermath of the Sidor strike, sections of the UNT are reconsidering their political support for Chavez. Ramon Machuca, a leader of the Sidor strike, is running for the governorship of Bolivar state independently of the Fifth Republic Movement. Machuca is positioning himself as the champion of workers dissatisfied with the limitations of Chavez’s political programme, but political independence counts for little if it does not become armed independence. A Machuca governorship will not protect the workers of Sidor. Workers’ militia need to be established to defend the factories and barrios of Venezuela’s cities. The UNT and the Bolivarian Circles must arm their members. They must go to the barracks and win over the rank and file of Chavez army and split them from the officer corps.

Workers’ and peasants’ militia will give teeth to a movement to turn the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ from being a trap to contain and defeat the workers, into a program for socialist revolution.

· Only the nationalisation without compensation under workers control of the media under workers’ and peasants’ control can stop the stream of lies and provocations which the Venezuelan opposition uses to foment a coup or a US invasion.

· Only the nationalisation without compensation under workers control of private businesses, banks and of cultivated as well as idle land can kill the power of the Venezuelan capitalists who send death squads after peasants.

· Only the nationalisation without compensation under workers control of the property of multinational companies can break US power in Venezuela and make a proletarian internationalist foreign policy possible.

· Only the splitting of the army of the bourgeois state replacement of the old army with workers’ and peasants’ militia can prevent a repeat of the tragedy of Sidor.

For a Revolutionary Party

The international socialist and workers’ movement must oppose all attempts by US imperialism and its auxiliaries to terrorise and destabilise Venezuela, without sowing any illusions in the Chavez government. Many leftists have opposed US interference in Venezuela, protesting the coup of 2002 and the lockout of 2002-2003, but very few have even noticed Chavez’s repression of the workers of Sidor.

Many of the socialist currents influenced by the Stalinist or Castroist views that the national bourgeoisie are ‘progressive’ support Chavez politically, and sow illusions in the masses that the Bolivarian ‘Revolution’ can defeat imperialism. For example, the ‘Hands Off Venezuela’ campaign initiated by the International Marxist Committee has attracted support from political parties and trade unions around the world, and helped to raise awareness of US aggression in Venezuela, but it has been marred by the very uncritical attitude its leading figures show to Chavez’s government.

The current campaign of its tendency in Venezuela, the Revolutionary Marxist Current, to occupy the giant paper mill VENEPAL in Moron, Carabodo state, under threat of closure by its US owner Smurfit, makes the basic mistake of calling on Chavez as a bourgeois President to arm the workers and occupy the plant, instead of calling on them to arm themselves, occupy the plant and break from Chavez.

To the left of reformist groups like the RMC, a number of self-proclaimed Trotskyist groups understand that Chavez cannot help but turn his guns on the workers. They are prepared to defend Chavez against the US, but say they will never support him politically.

Yet when it came to the test, they gave a critical vote of confidence to Chavez against the opposition in the recall referendum. CWG too called for a critical vote for Chavez as a military bloc against the opposition. A minority in CWG still holds this position. But a majority of CWG now accepts that the effect of critical support was a vote of confidence in Chavez helping him to contain the masses from organising and arming independently.

This thrust all of the currents that voted confidence in Chavez into the role of left-wing cheerleaders of the World Social Forum (WSF). The WSF supports the governments of Chavez, Lula, Kirchner and Castro as being capable of making a two-stage transition from capitalism to ‘market socialism’ without the masses playing an independent and leading role.

In Aotearoa, the Alliance Party is in the same camp. It advertised a recent reception for the Venezuelan ambassador to Australia under the headline ‘The Bolivarian Revolution Comes to Wellington’. The equation of the revolutionary potential of Venezuela’s workers and peasants with Chavez and his state is both wrong and dangerous.

In Aotearoa and across the world, socialists and the workers’ movement should turn opposition to US aggression in Venezuelan into support for the armed independence of the workers and peasants who can alone defeat imperialism.

In practice this requires the urgent creation of a revolutionary party able to lead the worker and peasant masses to socialism. The CWG is for the creation of a revolutionary Trotskyist party in the ranks of the UNT, the Bolivarian circles and the peasant organisations.

That party must have as its program the central demand that these organisations call for a national congress that raises the call to break with Chavez’ ‘national unity’, with the Bolivarian state machine, and to form organs of workers’ power as the basis for a workers’ revolution and a socialist republic of Venezuela as part of a United Socialist States of Latin America!

For a Socialist Republic of Venezuela! 

From Class Struggle 58 October-November 2004

Imperialism: policy option or death drive?

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When anti-war activists blame US imperialism or ‘globalisation’ as the cause of wars they usually mean the ‘power elite’ – the ‘neo-cons’ etc who are backed by the oil and arms industry. Imperialism and its wars are ‘bad’ policy options on the part of the US as a ‘world power’ which can be countered by world public opinion – the ‘second world power’’, or the ‘movement of movements’ as the World Social Forum has been called. For Marxists this conception of imperialism as ‘bad policy’ open to reform by an electoral alliance of workers, peasants and ‘good’ capitalists is a reactionary utopia. It is a utopia because imperialism needs wars to survive. It’s on a death drive and cannot be pacified. It is reactionary because it disarms the masses in the face of inevitable destruction and dooms the struggle for socialism. Real anti-imperialism for us does not mean making ‘good’ ‘bad policy’, but terminating the terminator.

There are a number of theories that have arisen in recent years claiming that the Marxist/Leninist concept of imperialism as the highest and final stage of capitalism is wrong.

They argue that the main forces that Lenin saw as driving imperialism to inevitable wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions, do not exist. The rise of finance capital, capital export, the growth of monopolies etc that doomed capitalism to destruction, have been surpassed by new developments such as the new economy that have rescued capitalism and made unlimited growth and the sharing of wealth possible. If this were true, then Marxism would cease to be relevant. Lenin’s theory that class politics is the extension of class economics would be empty phrases. Social classes would not longer exist and socialism as a post-capitalist dream would be made redundant by a just and benign capitalism.

These theorists say that globalisation has replaced imperialist contest between rival capitalist powers. Multilateral agreements between imperialist powers subordinate national interests to the global market and make national conflicts a thing of the past. It was easier to argue this during the 1980’s when the major powers were all allied to the US led ‘cold-war’, and the 1990’s when the UN and NATO officially fronted the wars against Iraq and Serbia. Whatever word is used to describe this ‘consensus’, national differences are now all accommodated under a US global hegemony where all states, including the US as the world’s biggest debtor, are dependent upon one another. Indeed some radicals, like Hardt and Negri in their book Empire published in 2000, say that the US is now so economically weak that it is no longer ‘hegemonic’.[1]

But what if the underlying strength of the US economy is in terminal decline?

What if to survive the US needs to turn its back on international agreements and attack its former allies? What if the US economy is in such a deep crisis that it is forced to revert to naked imperialist aggression on any state that threatens its ‘national interests’. A reversion to unilateral aggression is exactly what has happened since 9-11 under the Bush regime when the ‘world changed’. So the question must be asked: is this reversion an aberration? An aggressive militarist policy option driven by the narrow interests of one section of the US ruling class, the oil barons and arms industries? Or is this return to military occupations and recolonisations driven by a more deep-seated desperation on the part of US capital to survive at all costs? The answer to this question is critical because the solutions offered to this post 9-11 crisis depends on the perceived causes.

The globalisation theorists explain post-9-11 as an aberration. Already they say, the world has passed on. The new knowledge economy has created more wealth across national borders that can be redistributed in rising living standards in the developing world. The new capitalism in the US, Japan and EU does not need wars to make profits, but rather new technology and increasing labour productivity. The dynamic growth areas of the world economy are driven by multinational firms that invest, produce and sell in an integrated world market.

This ‘aberration’ must therefore be caused by a rogue element of the US ruling class that has taken power and used the military to grab scarce resources such as oil and natural gas to make big profits. For example, Chalmers Johnson’s recent book the Sorrows of Empire argues that the military have taken over the US state for this purpose. Chomsky’s analysis of US power is similar; the power elite uses its control of the media to manipulate public opinion to accept an aggressive foreign policy. If these arguments about the US as a ‘rogue state’ are correct, then mass mobilisations that reclaim control of the media and democratic institutions can theoretically regain control of the state for the people. But what if these arguments are not correct and imperialism is not a policy option but a death drive.

The reality is that imperialism is in a life or death crisis.

In the 1970s the world economy experienced a classic crisis of overproduction due to falling profits. Profits fell not because they were squeezed by rising wages but because the corporates could not increase the rate of exploitation fast enough to return a profit on the massive investments that went into plant, machinery and raw materials.[2] To restore profits it was necessary to drastically cut the price of wages (variable capital) and raw materials and machines (constant capital) by whatever means. In the 1890s and 1930s the world economy revived only because depressions and wars drastically cut the costs of plant and machinery and of labour.[3]

In the years since the 1970s ‘crash’, the US economy has failed to revive its economy to outcompete its rivals. The new economy has seen some increases in output and profits, but not sufficient to outperform Japan in cars and China in consumer goods. The recent ‘jobless’ upturn is less to do with new technology replacing jobs than with fewer workers working harder and longer (i.e. increased hours and intensity of work). There has been no massive reduction in the costs of wages or raw materials and the economy has been kept afloat by state borrowing and spending. The money borrowed from its rivals, particularly Japan, means that the US is now heavily in debt. Therefore the US economy is experiencing a deepening crisis of insufficient profits from which it can only survive by embarking on open imperialist wars to recolonise other nations, plundering their raw materials and attacking workers wages and rights at home and abroad to reduce labour costs. As Marxists say, the bosses’ crisis is being solved on the backs of the world’s workers.

It is not the policy of a militarist fraction of the US ruling class that causes war, but that of the whole US ruling class. Imperialism is not an aberration but a necessary result of capitalist crisis today.

So how does the whole ruling class benefit from war? Some corporates benefit directly, while others benefit from the flow-on effects. Of course the military and war industries do gain directly from imperialist wars, but production of arms and munitions is consumed unproductively (apart from R&D spin-offs in other sectors e.g. satellites, jeeps etc) and cannot revive the US economy as a whole. The Bush family and prominent members of the cabinet like Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice profit as shareholders of corporations that supply the military, and the workers in the arms industry earn wages that enter into the GDP – a sort of ‘military Keynesianism’.[4] But military expenditure does not otherwise add value to the economy. A good analogy would be to say that war benefits some bosses like the production of luxury items such as fast cars and jewelry. Theories such as the Permanent Arms Economy promoted by the Cliffites to account for the post-war long boom are fundamentally flawed in failing to recognise this fact.[5]

However unlike luxury cars, planes and tanks can be used to invade and occupy other countries and expropriate their resources and labour supply. The US has seized Iraq’s oil wealth and created hundreds of military bases in the Middle East and central Asia to oversee the plunder of natural resources. In its own poodle-like fashion, the UK has rechristened Gaddafi the former ‘terrorist fiend’ as the west’s ‘loyal friend’ in order to get access to Libya’s oil and gas fields.[6] While the military and oil magnates get the biggest share of this colonial bounty, the flow on effect of the war to the whole US and UK economies will be a vital supply of oil and gas at cheap prices that will lower the price of constant capital (fuel for industry) as well as variable capital (gas for workers cars) not available to their EU and Japanese rivals.[7] At the same time the US can create client states like Bolivia, or protectorates like Bosnia, Kosovo[8] and Iraq, impose the US dollar as the main currency, and threaten to bomb any state that wants to switch from the dollar to the Euro or yen as a rival to the ‘petrodollar’.[9]

We see that the imperialist states’ militarist policies are dictated by the interests of all capitalists.

The big banks and corporations all benefit from imperialist wars and plunder. What Lenin identified as finance capital was the big banks fusing their interests with the big corporations, and becoming monopolies, that is, combines or cartels that dominated whole industries. The monopolies were vertical (like Rockefellers Standard Oil or Carnegie’s Steel Corporation in the US) or horizontal (like the big German cartels) conglomerates that bought up their rivals and set the prices of production in that industry. Because they were national monopolies they had to compete with their rivals in other nations backed by their states. It was this rivalry that led to the export of capital to colonies to gain cheap raw materials and labour and the inevitable wars to divide and rule the whole world market. In what sense do today’s multinational corporations remain monopolies dominated by finance capital which look to their nation states to go to war in their interests as the ‘national interest’?

Monopoly finance capital is now centralised mainly in the hegemonic imperialist power, the USA.

First to the question of finance capital, then that of monopoly, then the question of national interest to show that state monopoly capitalism is alive, but not well.

At the heart of monopoly is finance capital. After Lenin’s death 20th imperialism created state capitalism to survive. Private banks became regulated by the central banks which took over the management of money capital to rescue the corporate sector. Without massive state intervention and ‘military Keynesianism’ after WW1, the big US corporations would have collapsed. The ‘new deal’ like the Keynesian welfare state’ was mainly about benefits to business.[10] Therefore we can say that far from being outdated, finance capital is even more concentrated and centralised today than it was in Lenin’s day.

Today the giant US Federal Bank along with World Bank and International Monetary Fund monopolises global finance capital through the bond market and international credit. The ‘Fed’ creates dollars which are pumped into US business which it then borrows from its rival EU and Japanese money markets in the form of US bonds. But the cost of its debt is offset by the advantages of the dollar as the main international currency. Private monopoly banks, such as Morgan/Chase, BOA and Citibank, are the biggest shareholders in the World Bank and IMF and dominate the loans made to the ‘‘third world’. But such is the crisis of overproduction, most ‘capital’ today is not invested in production but in speculation as ‘fictitious capital. Not only is finance capital concentrated into giant monopolies in the form of central banks and a few giant corporate banks they are all centralised in heart of the US imperialist state. Therefore what became known as ‘state monopoly capitalism’ in Lenin’s day is still the dominant reality in the global economy.

The crisis of overproduction manifests itself as the ‘risks’ associated with anarchic capitalism destroying the forces of production. Capitalism’s quest to plunder the third world is now in its final phase of world domination –exhausting the resources of the former soviet bloc. The end of the Soviet Union has opened up central Asia. There and elsewhere, the race for scarce resources is hotting up the competition between the imperialist powers.

Today capitalist production is highly dependent on non-renewable resources, notably oil, whose supply is rapidly running out. The big corporations are oil pushers, enforcers, or oil junkies.[11] Those who control these scarce resources benefit from ‘rent’ i.e. that is the premium that can be extracted from those who do not own this resource. Capitalism today is an asset-stripping death machine. The risks associated with this drive to survive explains the behavior of all the players.

The US finances its military machine and arms industry to win control in the rent-seeking war game. This is the case in Iraq, Central Asia and Latin America. These are all military fronts in the war for oil, gas or other vital resources. But even such looting of vital resources and the massive military subsidies of the imperialist states, does not make them cheap enough to restore rising rates of surplus value and return acceptable profits on the vast capital stockpile awaiting investment in production. As capitalism drives down its path of destruction it cannot save itself.

There are inherent limits to the gains from capitalist production which is simultaneously destroying the forces of production.

The recent controversy about the US ‘jobless recovery’ illustrates this point. While thousands of migrants flood into the US to fill menial service jobs, productive industry shifts over to ‘lean production’ by exporting jobs to cheap labour countries. In Mexico or China, wage goods (clothes, white goods, electronic goods, cars etc) are produced more cheaply because of low wage costs combined with global lean production methods (cast-off production lines e.g. Korean or Indian cars). This is the same export of capital recognised by Lenin. But now it is up against more fundamental limits set by rock bottom wages as well as productivity caps.

The crisis of the period from 1914 to 1945 was hugely destructive in terms of the devaluation of variable and constant capital. Only out of such a destructive firestorm could the post-war boom emerge. But that boom was limited to the imperialist world and did not extend to the third world and the gap between ‘north and south’ widened dramatically. The accumulation of capital at the centre is now so huge that only a massive destruction of capital on a world scale will restore a return to profitable production. Windfalls like the collapse of the Soviet world extended the capitalist market to its full global reach. But while it created huge chunks of ‘new capital’ to add the world supply, it did not create sufficient means of making sufficient profits on that capital.

Thus early 21st century imperialism is unable to generate enough super-profits to keep pace with its rising capital stock. All the ‘t-shirts in China’ cannot sustain sufficient profits in the US let alone rising living standards of labour in the US. With the decline in new surplus-value from production, potential money capital becomes merely footloose money that devalues unless new sources of ‘value’ can be found. Increasingly finance capital ceases to be the productive investment that drives the development of industry and instead becomes ‘fictitious’ capital which is valueless because it cannot exchanged for commodities and must be gambled away on the prices of commodities. Take the derivatives market of ‘casino capitalism’.
Morgan/Chase the biggest international bank now has 84 times its real capital assets (stockholders funds) gambled on ‘derivatives’.

‘Derivatives’ are bets on future prices. Derivatives are a form of insurance to cover risks of production in a high-risk, unstable, crisis-prone anarchic market. That’s why 80% of such bets are on future interest rates (the price of money). For example futures brokers ‘borrow’ company shares for a fee, sell them to create cash and agree to sell the shares back at a given price. They use the money to speculate on currencies etc, and hope that the shares will be worth less when they buy them back so they can make a profit. This creates huge amounts of debt with no share asset backing. The instability in the market is itself greatly increased by the billions of hot money gambled on future prices every day.

Moreover it is workers that stand to lose most in the casino economy. For every George Soros who may lose billions of fictitious capital there are millions who lose their life savings. The finance mafia bets the savings of the ‘new middle class’ held in pension funds and bank shares. Marx talked about joint stock companies borrowing from small savers as a form of ‘socialising the costs’ of capital. Small savers would always be wiped out in any credit crash. Soros lost millions in 1998 when Russia defaulted on its debt. Morgan/Chase was similarly exposed to the Argentina collapse in 2001 even though the government froze the accounts of small savers (ahoristas) while at the same time allowed the big banks to take their money out of the country.

Such financial crashes destroy the jobs and savings of those workers who have savings. 19th and 20th century imperialist powers justified their smash and grab expansionism by selling it to their working class as a defence of the national interest. Britain had its ‘civilising mission’ and the US had its defence of the ‘free world’. All used ‘international relations’ to pacify and buy off the rising working class challenge to the power of capital. Marx, Engels and Lenin recognised the importance of colonial super-profits, which when trickled down to the ‘new middle class’ bribed it to support imperialism and to turn organised labour into cheerleaders for imperialist wars. Now 21st century imperialism cannot afford to buy off its workers and runs the ultimate risk of eliminating its support base in the ‘labour aristocracy’.

21st century imperialism cannot afford political buyouts so funds patriotic panics.

While it can’t afford to buy patriotism anymore imperialist states appeal to ‘national values’. Foreigners are blamed for taking jobs and cutting wages so that the labour movement becomes geared up to support wars against enemy aliens at home and abroad. As imperialist rivalry hots up trade protection becomes national protectionism in which workers are enlisted to fight the ‘enemy’. But as the costs of imperialist crises and wars become thrust onto the backs of workers (workers welfare axed while corporate welfare – especially oil and war industries – climbs, jobs and wages lost, workers in uniform lose their lives in the war for oil etc) the political class consensus that drove the post-war boom and which has been kept intact from the victory of capitalism over ‘communism, now becomes fractured at home and abroad. Workers and peasants see themselves as pawns in a US corporate war game for world domination. The level of anti-US sentiment outside the US is rising to massive proportions. And the class conflicts in the outside world are now being reproduced inside the US and the other imperialist powers.

This means that resistance in many forms is beginning to emerge. The WSF is a sort of ‘good cop’ imperialism that promotes the illusion that imperialism as a bad policy option that can be globally challenged and reformed. Hardt and Negri’s concept of Empire provides a popular version of this ideological position. There is a reformist labour international around Castro, including Chavez and Lula that promotes social democratic regimes coming together as an international counter-weight to US rogue imperialism. But the severity of the crisis imposed on the masses is rapidly surpassing the capacity of the reformists and their leftwing cheerleaders in the WSF to strangle the exploding resistance movements. Castro, Lula and Chavez attempts to negotiate with imperialism can only be at the expense of their worker and peasant supporters. Once we can see that 21st century imperialism is on the road to destruction, then we understand that only a world working class mobilisation for a global socialist society can offer an alternative. The cost of anarchic date-expired capitalism in the 21st century will be more wars and destruction unless it is replaced by socialism! 

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm

World Social Forum vs Principled Trotskyism

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 From Class Struggle 51 July-August 2003

The urgent task facing revolutionaries today is to confront and destroy all those forces that try to convince workers that they cannot overcome capitalism and imperialism, but rather must adapt or accommodate to it. We say that most of these forces are gathered today in the World Social Forum (WSF). Against the WSF we seek to build a new revolutionary international. Here we explain why the WSF seeks to adapt workers to capitalism. We make a ‘call’ to all the healthy forces of Trotskyism and revolutionary workers organisations to unite to build that new revolutionary international that can destroy the WSF, and with it, capitalism.

In NZ today an Oceania Social Forum is being organised and will meet in Wellington in October this year.The Oceania SF is a spin-off from the WSF that has met three years in a row at Porto Alegre in Brazil.On the face of it this ‘movement of movements’ seems harmless enough. After all a wide range of political views are presented at each meeting, it has no clearly defined program, and its organisation is ostensibly very open and democratic.
But is it harmless? As we pointed out in earlier Class Struggles, [Class Struggle # 43, 48, 49.] the WSF is run by a narrow group of trustees based in the Brazilian Workers’ Party of President Lula, the French ATTAC (itself a front for the so-called Usec 4th International soon to be joined by the Cliffite International Socialist Tendency) and some reformist intellectuals associated with Le Monde Diplomatique and Z Mag. It promotes the trendy left humanist ideas of Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Walden Bello and others.

The WSF is dangerous for workers.It is a very sinister movement because it is linked politically to actual governments such as those of Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. This means that these countries are promoted as examples of how popular governments can resist imperialism and improve the lot of the workers and peasants. Much is being made of Lula being able to balance the interests of his working class supporters and the World Bank! 

[Many workers internationally look to Lula as a turning point in working class history. For example, the IRSL (Iranian Revolutionary Socialist League says, “…the left-wing movement in Iran…prescribe this as a model for Iran. They purposely disregard the truth and the reality of the anti-revolutionary and anti-working class nature of such a movement and describe such an amalgamation as a ‘modern’ version of the working class struggle against global capitalism.”See article at:]

Second, some of the left democratic politicians (and right wing ex-Trotskyists like the Usec who have Euro MPs and MPs in Lula’s government) associated with the anti-globalisation movements claim to be part of the WSF giving them left credentials while they embark on openly anti-worker policies.
Third, the WSF is linked politically with the remnants of the Stalinist parties that in some countries have a long history and still carry some credibility. Despite its role in helping Allende disarm the workers before Pinochet’s coup in 1973, the Chilean Communist Party today leads Latin American Stalinists in alliance with the WSF. In Iraq today the Communist Party despite serious oppression still survives, has a representative in the US’s puppet government, and is playing a role in organising workers behind a peaceful transition to a new bourgeois regime. (See our article on Iran for evidence of the same in that country).

Fourth, widely supported by the Stalinists, the authority of Fidel Castro in the WSF is strong, particularly in Latin America, because, despite its deficiencies and the sell outs of Stalinist bureaucrats like Castro, the Cuban revolution has survived all attempts so far to destroy it. Castro’s Cuba lends its authority to the reformist model of ‘market socialism’ that goes down the same road as ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ to the World Trade Organisation, and in Brazil today with President Lula goes all the way to the Free Trade Area of the Americas!

[Our position on Cuba is that it is a degenerate workers’ state which must be unconditionally defended against capitalism, but which needs a political revolution to replace the bureaucracy with a democratic workers government before Castro allows capitalism to be restored.The model of ‘market socialism’ is the view that socialism can coexist with the capitalist market put forward by those who seek to restore or adapt to capitalism under the cover of ‘modern’ socialism.]

Fifth, all of these currents join together in supporting the United Nations as an organisation that acts for so-called ‘democratic’ imperialism. Like Castro, they called for the UN to complete its inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, opposing the US unilateral invasion in the name of multilateralism. Like Castro they backed the UN in its propping up of Israel, its sanctions against Iraq, and its ‘peacekeeping’ in Bosnia and East Timor. Today they back the UN going into Iraq to cover for the US invasion by taking responsibility for ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘rebuilding’.

Finally, and most important, the WSF now includes in its ranks so-called Trotskyists who are to the left of Stalinism and Castro and whose ‘street cred’ is significant in drawing into the WSF new layers of workers in struggle so they can be contained in this reformist international.For example, recently in Argentina, pseudo-Trotskyists united with Lula, Chavez and Castro to welcome the election of the populist Peronist Kirchner as an ‘anti-imperialist fighter’!

When we sum up all of these influences we can see that combined together as a world wide tendency, the WSF is a counter-revolutionary international that unless challenged and destroyed will lead workers and peasants everywhere to defeat and disaster. It is precisely to build a revolutionary opposition to the WSF that the ‘group of five’ have produced the following document calling all the healthy forces of Trotskyism and revolutionary workers’ organisations to a conference of Principled Trotskyists.

These principles can be the first step in uniting those forces that can go on to build a new revolutionary international communist party capable of not only destroying the WSF, but of leading workers everywhere in the struggle for socialist revolution.

Written by raved

January 6, 2009 at 8:49 pm

30 years after the murder of Che Guevara: Make One, Two, Many Workers’ States!

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Declaration of Bolshevik Current for the Fourth International (BCFI) translated from Luta Operaria, journal of Liga Bolchevique Internacionalista_ #22, october of 1997)

Introduction by LCMRCI.

The 30th aniversary of the death of Ernesto “Che” Guevara is a very important issue for revolutionaries world-wide. In many countries he is associated with anti-imperialist rebellion. However, Trotskyists are very critical of him. On the one hand we defend his heroism against the bourgeoisie, but on the other hand we need to counterpose the strategy of permanent revolution against his left-wing variant of Stalinism.

We are reproducing an article from Lutta Operaria, paper of the International Bolshevik League. This is a Brazilian group of the Bolshevik Current for the Fourth International, a current which includes the Bolshevik Party of Argentina. Comrades of the Latin American sections of the LCMRCI (CEMICOR) had been in discussion with both groups for many years. In 1991 one of our comrades was the first foreign militant to visit the Argentinian Bolsheviks. Comrades from the LCMRCI have been in Brazil and Argentina discussion with them and also attended the founding conference of their international current.

The first article from another group published in Lutta Operaria was the declaration of our split from the LRCI. Some months ago a leader of the Brazilian group visited us and later one of our comrades was with them participating in their intervention in a union congress and in the preparation of land seizures.

We have many agreements especially with the Brazilian Bolsheviks on the question of the defence of every workers state and oppressed nation against imperialism and of the Polish workers and other anti-Stalinist non-bourgeois movements in the east against bureaucratic repression. Nevertheless, we have important differences on the attitude towards the Moscow Coup in 1991 and on the characterisation of an ‘anti-capitalist’ wing of the bureaucracy. Yet,we have a relationship which includes practical collaborations and mutual respect. We reprint the article below in that spirit.

However, it is important to mention that there are two points where it would appear that we are not in agreement. One is how we characterise the Cuban Revolution and the other is about the left-Stalinist character of Che.

Character of the Cuban Revolution.

In the ‘Fourth Internationalist movement’ there was a discussion in the early 1960’s about the nature of the Cuban revolution. The International Committee (IC) refused to believe that Castro had expropriated the bourgeoisie and created a Degenerated Workers’ State. The United Secretariat (USec), created in 1963, believed that Castro was pushed by the masses to create a workers’ state which has some deformations. If the IC advocated a social revolution against the Castroite capitalist state, the USec thought that no political revolution was on the agenda because Che and Castro were revolutionaries who only needed some Trotskyist advice to correct their orientation.

We think that both are wrong. We think that post-revolutionary Cuba was a Degenerated Workers’ State which needed straight away a new political revolution to pave the way for socialism. Castro and Che didn’t lead a revolution based on workers’ councils and militias. In 1959 they replaced Batista with a new bourgeois popular front regime. Under the pressure of the masses, the threats of Washington, and under the auspices of the Soviet Union (interested in creating a base close to the US), Castro and Che moved against the bourgeoisie and expropriated it.

However, the new state was quite different to the one that Lenin and Trotsky built in 1917. It was not based on workers’ councils, on a workers’ party or the attempt to promote workers’ parties and revolutions outside the small island. Cuba joined the COMECON and copied the bureaucratic totalitarian rule of the Soviet Bloc. The planned economy was distorted by a new oligarchy interested in maintaining its national privileges against any workers’ revolution. The only way to regenerate the state was through a new political revolution that would put all the power in the hands of workers’ councils led by an internationalist revolutionary party.

Therefore, we don’t use the term deformed workers’ state in relation to Cuba because it could be confused with the Pablo-Mandelite conception that it was a revolutionary state with some deformations that only needed some reforms to make healthy.

Che as a Left-Stalinist.

We also think that Che never broke with Stalinism. He was always against building working class councils and militias, and even any form of workers’ political party. He died in Bolivia, the country which had the most militant proletariat in all Latin America, without having any participation in the workers’ movement. The Bolivian toilers have a very strong tradition of combative and prolonged general strikes, factory and mine armed occupations, armed battles with the army and very strong and massive organisations. The only working class in the West that was able to destroy by itself “their” national bourgeois army was the Bolivian one in 1952. Yet Guavara didn’t participate at all in any of the actions or organisations of the miners, factory workers and even the peasant organisations.

Guavara’s strategy was opposed to the one advocated by Trotsky in his book The Permanent Revolution. Che talked about a socialist revolution (which was more progressive than the traditional Stalinist Stageist theory). However, he never called for a PROLETARIAN revolution. His idea of a ‘socialist’ revolution was a multi-class upheaval controlled by an elite guerrilla army. He thought that a volutarist armed elite based in the rural and urban petite bourgeoisie could undermine the official army and could press other sections of the reformist and nationalist forces to create a new popular front with them.

Before he was in Bolivia he tried to organise a guerrila war with Kabila in the Congo. Like in the Andes he never thought it necessary to participate in the organisation and mobilisation of workers and peasants. He always tried to build a small heroic army in the mountains to harrass the army of the national bourgeoisie and create the conditions for a broader popular front.

Despite his friction with Moscow and with Castro, Guevara never broke with Stalinism. He was one of the main leaders in the creation of a new bureaucratised workers’ state in Cuba and he endorsed (albeit with some criticism) the Stalinist models in the USSR and China. He participated in the repression of the small Fourth-Internationalist Workers’ Revolutionary Party in Cuba. In 1959 he was in favour of a bourgeois candidate as Cuban President and later he supported different bourgeois regimes in Latin America. Guevara was quite friendly with the Brazilian governments before the military coup in 1964. Like Castro in Chile during the early 1970’s, Guevara at no time called on the Brazilian workers to organise independently and against Goulart, Quadros, Brizola or other Brazilian bourgeois nationalists.

Cuba promoted guerrilla movements in Latin America as a way of undermining the regimes which supported the US blockade of the island. In the countries which were not hostile towards La Habana, Castro and Guevara were not keen to support guerrilla movements. When the Latin American regimes started to have good relations with Cuba, Castro helped them by asking the armed groups to moderate their policies or to reintegrate into the bourgeois armies.

LRCI centrist confusion.

In the last Trotskyist International, Keith Harvey published a long article on Guevara. In that article he revised the previous position of the LRCI formulated by Dave Hughes. He put the position that Guevara was a progressive centrist who was breaking with Stalinism. This position is a concession to Mandel and Moreno. Guevara had some differences with Moscow and he had some sypathies with Mao, who at that time was promoting a more hostile attitude towards US imperialism and “peaceful coexistence”, and organising the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”.

According to The Degenerated Revolution – the original programmatic document of the LRCI now being rejected by Harvey – Mao, Tito and any other Stalinists who entered into conflict with Moscow and attacked their own bourgeoisie, were not any kind of centrists. They were described as “disobedient Stalinists” who adopted an autonomous policy towards the Kremlin in making new politically counter-revolutionary Degenerated Workers’ States.

Despite the claim of some of his associates, like the Peruvian Morenoite Ricardo Napuri, that Guevara was reading some of Trotsky’s books, Che never adopted any kind of strategy towards the workers’ movement. A centrist is someone who oscillates between Stalinism and the workers’ revolution. Guevara never flirted, even in a deformed way, with any idea of a revolution organised or based in the industrial proletariat.

The central question.

This methodological question is important for revolutionaries in Latin America and other oppressed nations. The Sandinistas or the FMLN in the 1980’s, or the Colombian Coordinadora Simon Bolivar, or the Peruvian Shining Path, were never centrists. They were always a mixture of Stalinism and petite bourgeois nationalism. Like all guerrilla movements based in the rural or uban petite bourgeoisie they rejected the need for working class independence, councils, militias and revolution.

The proletariat has to defnd such petite bourgeois movements against imperialism, but also has to defend its own interests and aims against such movements. These guerrilla movement can and do attack workers’ organisations. Because its violence doesn’t come from or express the class interests of wage-workers it can be used against them. It is not possible to create a workers semi-state by means of a guerrilla strategy. If these armed groups are not destroyed, they can negotiate their future integration into the system. If they take power, they can maintain capitalism, or in the most radical and actually improbable circumstances, they can create new non-capitalist bureaucratic collectivised regimes.

Our sections in Latin America are fighting to build WORKERS parties for an internationalist revolution based upon workers’ and peasants’ councils and militias. Our strategy is in direct opposition to the one advocated by Guevarist, Maoist or other left variants of Stalinism They are in favour of petite bourgeois armed elites that will undermine the workers’ organisations and that sooner or later are condemned to create new popular fronts.

So we don’t think that Guevarism or Maoism are capable of fighting for the creation of “one, two, three or more workerss’ states”. Guevara could talk about developing new Vietnams (anti-Imperialist war scenarios). However, his strategy was incapable of building healthy workers’ states and was not even a guarantee for the overthrowing of a military junta. In fact, 3 years after his death, the Bolivian workers made a massive general strike which smashed a right wing military coup and opened the way towards the creation of a semi-soviet Popular Assembly.

Full text:

Written by raved

August 26, 2007 at 10:03 pm