File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-29.113, message 8

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 12:31:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Stalinophobia

Ali Esbati:

>So, finally Louis Proyect thinks I was "trying to take" the discussion
>somewhere just to "blow this list sky-high". He also thinks that this
>sort of discussion would lead to pro-This and pro-That debates, ending
>up in Moscow Trials. This is not the reason I raised the subject. I'm
>not very interested in discussing the Moscow Trials. I'm interested in
>an understanding of what went wrong, based on something else than
>ideological clashes were people are unwilling to see realities if they
>disturb their circles. I'm engaged in an every-day struggle againt
>capitalism and for Socialism. I don't want this struggle to end up in
>something completely different than what I'm fighting for dreaming of.

Louis: I have no idea of what your intention is, but that is not really what
interests me. I am dealing with another question and that is how to maintain
a civil atmosphere on the list.

You are introducing questions that we have learned from bitter experience
open up flame wars despite people's best intentions. We have a number of
comrades on the list from a Maoist or a CP tradition who regard Stalin's
role as positive.

There are also a much larger number of people who are not pro-Stalin, but
who don't want to stigmatize people who are. I think in the context of left
politics in 1997, being "for" Stalin means being for proletarian revolution
and drawing a class sharp line. We are not running the risk that we will
create a police state in the future because we accept pro-Stalin socialists
in the broad movement we are trying to create. 

In the struggle to overthrow Batista in Cuba, Fidel Castro did not demand
that people joining the July 26th Movement pass a litmus test on Stalin. He
actually fused with the Cuban pro-Moscow party at a turning point in the
Cuban revoluion. This fusion actually helped the revolution succeed because
the CP had critical working-class support and was also able to cement ties
with the Soviet Union, necessary for Cuba's survival as a socialist society.
Was Castro soft on Stalinism? The proof that this is not so is that Cuba has
been the freest socialist nation in the 20th century. Despite all of the
terror and blockade directed against it, Cuba has been a more open
society--to use Karl Popper's term--than anybody could reasonably expect.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as "Stalinism" any more. This was a
historical phenomenon. People who are absorbed with this are looking at a
wrong set of problems. We should be devoting our energy to understanding the
ruling class rather than a political movement that was linked inextricably
to the USSR of the 1930s through 1950s.

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