File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 122

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 1997 15:39:00 -0400
Subject: M-I: Reply to Sid Chatterjee

Sid Chatterjee:
This is a very good question, the relation between social democracy
and fascism (and Rakesh, welcome back) which Louis P and others
are refusing to see and analyze. Louis P implies that this leads to
sectarianism. It is true that sectarianism is a danger at one pole but
on the other pole there lurks opportunism. How to navigate a path
between these two precipices?

Louis Proyect:
The relation between fascism and social democracy is the same that exists
between the bourgeoisie and working class in general: class antagonism
despite the pro-capitalist sentiments of the official leadership. In
Germany, during the rise of Hitler, the class antagonism was raised to the
highest level and no mercy was shown to the opportunist leaders. When the
Nazis took power, they tortured, jailed and murdered social democrats,
ranks and leaders alike. There is a class explanation for this. The Social
Democracy was the party of the Germany trade union movement. The
bourgeoisie in Germany (Krupp, Thyssen, et al) sought to destroy the trade
union movement and the left parties so as to maximize the surplus product
created through labor. They wanted to reduce wages, so as to increase
profits. The Socialists and Communists represented the class interests of
the proletariat in an imperfect manner. The bourgeoisie turned to the Nazis
when the traditional parties could not rule effectively any more. This was
the way economic crisis was resolved.

Sid Chatterjee:
In Nicaragua, the ex-social democrats like Daniel Ortega have said that
given a chance once again, they would not carry out the land-reform
program or weaken it considerably. Tomas Borges (a critic of "Stalinism"
although labeled one by the free press) has become a millionaire. In
El Salvador, Joaquim Villalobos has become an anti-worker right wing
reactionary. Villalobos may have been involved in the murder of the
poet Roque Dalton. 

Louis Proyect:
This is a muddled version of Central American politics past and present.
Let me try to sort things out for Sid. Daniel Ortega was a Sandinista. The
political program of the Sandinista movement was drafted by its founder
Carlos Fonseca in the 1960s under the impact of the Cuban revolution. The
document reflects the desire to create a Cuba-like society in Nicaragua,
with considerations to its concrete features of Nicaraguan society. Ortega,
during the time he supported the historical document of Fonseca was not a
social democrat. He was a revolutionary socialist, as the CIA clearly
understood. What is a Central American social democrat? Look to the south
of Nicaragua and you will get your answer: Costa Rica. Costa Rica was
dubbed the "Sweden of Central America" and social democrats in the United
States lambasted Ortega for not following the Costa Rican road.

With respect to Borge's "anti-Stalinism", I don't have a clue what Sid is
talking about. Borge's faction of the FSLN styled itself as a practitioner
of "people's war" and identified with the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Finally, what evidence does Sid have that Villalobos is a "right wing
reactionary"? While this is entirely possible, I tend to doubt it.
Villalobos, who was the leader of the Salvadoran Communist Party, now
supports bourgeois democracy. The real right wing reactionaries in El
Salvador have ties to the oligarchy that owns ninety percent of the land.
Has Villalobos switched party affiliations and joined the party of
D'Aubisson, the still-dead murdering fascist? This would be news to me.
Finally-finally, on the murder of Roque Dalton. This took place around 20
years when the forces who would become the FMLN were steeped in the sort of
sectarian madness that typifies Maoist circles in places like Turkey today.
There are numerous Maoist groups that accuse each other of being creations
of the secret police. What evidence do they give? The evidence is based
exclusively on how near or close the group in question is to
MARXISM-LENINISM-MAOISM purity. This is the political culture of Adolfo
Olaechea. It is an obstacle to the creation of genuine revolutionary unity,
just as it was in Germany in the late 1920s.

Sid Chatterjee:
many states have significant ownership or even monoploy (e.g., the Gulf
countries) over sectors of the economy, does it mean that such states are
socialist? What about the character of the regime that run such states?

Louis Proyect:
Cuba had a revolution. The guerrilla armies were composed of the rural
poor, including sharecroppers and plantation hands. The central leadership
included Che Guevara, who was a Marxist. His writings and speeches are
steeped in Marxist concepts. Cuba had a revolution that seized the
plantations and ranches of the rich and turned them into state property. It
instituted a monopoly on foreign trade, and a planned economy next. The
model was the USSR. Che Guevara's writings from the early 60s when he
served as minister of planning reflect an attempt to try to understand how
to build a socialist economy that does not rely on a simple transformation
of the labor theory of value into a price and wage mechanism. His emphasis
on "socialist morality" prompted some to label him a quasi-Maoist. It is
important to understand that the Chinese government itself regarded Cuba as
a sister revolutionary state in 1961 and published the collected speeches
of Fidel Castro.

Now what does this have to do with the Gulf states? The answer is nothing.
There was no Marxist leadership in places like Iraq. The Baathists are
bourgeois nationalists. There is capitalism in Iraq, as there is in Iran.
No revolutions took place. What did happen was that modernizing sectors of
the officer corps seized power in the name of "the people" and adopted many
progressive economic and social measures. Marxists defend these gains
against imperialist assault. We defended Nasser's nationalization of the
Suez Canal, for example. But to confuse Nasser with Fidel Castro would be
an egregious mistake. (But no greater, I suppose, than the sorts we are
seeing here all the time from people infatuated with Adolfo's Maoist
corruption of Marxism.)

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