Monday, December 5, 2016

The rise and political degeneration of the FSLN

....The FSLN was named after Augusto César Sandino, a peasant and mine worker who led a seven-year war that forced U.S. marines out of Nicaragua in 1934.

The Sandinista National Liberation Front came to power on the heels of a popular revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in July 1979. During the initial years of the Nicaraguan revolution, the FSLN leadership, despite errors and political hesitations, pursued a course that promoted the organization and mobilization of the workers and peasants of Nicaragua. The new government increasingly used its power to advance the toilers' class interests against the exploiters at home and abroad.

The actions by the workers and peasants regime gave a boost to struggles against the U.S.-backed landlord-capitalist tyrannies in El Salvador and Guatemala, linked up with the revolution in Grenada, and gave a powerful new impetus to political steps forward by the workers in Cuba.

The Sandinista leadership's initial course was in continuity with nearly two decades of revolutionary work by the FSLN, codified in the Historic Program of the organization drafted by Carlos Fonseca and first published in 1969.

This program pledged to destroy the dictatorship's "military and bureaucratic apparatus" and "establish a revolutionary government based on an alliance of workers and peasants and a convergence of all patriotic forces opposed to imperialism and the oligarchy." The new regime would establish broad democratic rights and initiate social, political, and economic measures to "create a Nicaragua that is free of exploitation, oppression, and backwardness."

The program pledged to "expropriate the landed estates, factories, companies... and other enterprises fraudulently acquired by the Somoza family [and] their accomplices"; to "nationalize the holdings of all foreign companies that exploit mineral, forest, maritime, and other natural resources"; to "establish workers control over the management of factories"; and to "plan the national economy, putting an end to the anarchy characteristic of the capitalist system of production."

The Historic Program called for "a massive campaign to immediately wipe out illiteracy" and measures to uproot discrimination suffered by women and by Blacks and Indians living on the Atlantic Coast and elsewhere in Nicaragua.

On international perspectives, the program declared that a workers and peasants government would "actively support the struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America against both traditional and modern forms of colonialism, and against the common enemy: U.S. imperialism." The entire text of this document appears in New International no. 9 (see ad below).

The revolutionary government's steps to organize workers and farmers to carry out this program were electrifying to workers, peasants, and youth throughout the region and even around the world. Washington, having stood behind Somoza to the last ditch and failing to economically pressure the new government to change its course, began by late 1981 training and financing a counterrevolutionary army headed by former members of Somoza's officer corps.

Over the next six years the U.S.-organized contras mounted a murderous war to destroy the revolution.

Despite the toll on the country's economy, the 30,000 lives lost during the fighting, and the tens of thousands of maimed and wounded, the workers, peasants and youth in the Sandinista army defeated the contras by late 1987. But during that period the leadership of the FSLN abandoned the organization's historic program, transforming the FSLN from a revolutionary organization to a radical bourgeois electoral party by the end of the 1980s. Land reform and other revolutionary measures came to a halt and the government forged a "social pact" with landlords and capitalists, demoralizing workers and peasants.

Thus the workers and farmers government was defeated before the February 1990 elections, when the FSLN lost the vote to the National Opposition Union (UNO) -an amalgam of liberal bourgeois forces that had been part of the anti-Somoza fight in the 1970s, conservative politicians and businessmen, contra leaders, and two Stalinist organizations that had opposed the FSLN. The group was backed and financed by Washington.

Full 1996 article here:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stalin embraces Hitler over bones of Europe's working class: August 1938

From front page page of this issue:

Ukraine from Lenin to Stalin

Trotsky, writing in April 1939:

The Bolshevik Conception of Soviet Ukraine

In the conception of the old Bolshevik party Soviet Ukraine was destined to become a powerful axis around which the other sections of the Ukrainian people would unite. It is indisputable that in the first period of its existence Soviet Ukraine exerted a mighty attractive force, in national respects as well, and aroused to struggle the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intelligentsia of Western Ukraine enslaved by Poland. But during the years of Thermidorian reaction, the position of Soviet Ukraine and together with it the posing of the Ukrainian question as a whole changed sharply. The more profound the hopes aroused, the keener was the disillusionment. The bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too. But in the Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and independence. To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the U.S.S.R. To be sure, the Stalin bureaucracy erects statues to Shevchenko but only in order more thoroughly to crush the Ukrainian people under their weight and to force it to chant paeans in the language of Kobzar to the rapist clique in the Kremlin.

Towards the sections of the Ukraine now outside its frontiers, the Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it is towards all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international combinations with imperialist governments. At the recent 18th Congress of the “Communist Party,” Manuilsky, one of the most revolting renegades of Ukrainian communism, quite openly explained that not only the U.S.S.R. but also the Comintern (the “gyp-joint,” according to Stalin’s formulation) refused to demand the emancipation of oppressed peoples whenever their oppressors are not the enemies of the ruling Moscow clique. India is nowadays being defended by Stalin, Dimitroff and Manuilsky against – Japan, but not against England. Western Ukraine they are ready to cede forever to Poland in exchange for a diplomatic agreement which appears profitable at the present time to the bureaucrats of the Kremlin. It is a far cry from the days when they went no further than episodic combinations in their politics.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Page 15 of issue
MAY 2, 1986 The Militant

The re-pivot from Asia

....As part of the “pivot” to counter China, the Obama administration had planned to shift the weight of the U.S. armed forces to the Pacific, opening new bases, increasing military exercises in the region and positioning 60 percent of its naval warships there by 2020.

But this was premised on the winding down of U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, these conflicts have intensified, as has Washington’s military involvement there and in Syria, Somalia and elsewhere. Although maintaining the overwhelming supremacy it has held for decades, Washington’s military and naval power in the Pacific has continued to diminish, even as Beijing expands its military buildup in the South China Sea....

Read the full article here:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"The showdown battle for world socialism is going to be fought right here in the United States of America"

‘Fate of humanity rests on
socialist revolution in US’ 
(Books of the Month column)

Below is an excerpt from Teamster Rebellion, one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for December. The book by Farrell Dobbs is the first in a four-volume participant’s account of the strikes and organizing drives that transformed the Teamsters union in the 1930s into a fighting social movement. Dobbs was one of the central leaders of those battles and, until his death in 1983, of the Socialist Workers Party. The selection is from an August 1966 talk by Dobbs to an audience substantially composed of members of the Young Socialist Alliance in California. Copyright © 1972 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.


We must be constantly aware of the key role of the United States in the world. United States imperialism is today the powerhouse of world reaction, as the war in Vietnam is abundantly demonstrating.

It is an iron fact that until capitalism is overturned here in the United States of America, the gang of imperialist mad dogs that rule this country are going to remain a mortal threat to all humanity. We must never forget that.

That means the showdown battle for world socialism is going to be fought right here in the United States of America. And when the revolutionary victory is won, outlived, decadent capitalism is going to disappear literally overnight from the face of our planet. Humanity is going to march forward to the building of an enlightened socialist society where people for the first time can really live together on this planet in peace and in security and with freedom. Humanity will finally realize the type of rewarding life that human intelligence is so abundantly capable of making, even at the present level of technological development. Once humanity learns how to conduct itself politically, organizationally, and socially, it can take advantage of these wonders.

That’s what we dedicate our lives to. We of the party, we revolutionaries in the United States — acting as best we can in solidarity with revolutionary fighters across the world — must always keep in mind that in the last analysis the fate of humanity rests on the socialist revolution in the United States. Our task is to build a party capable of leading that revolution, going up against the most heinous of the reactionary, monstrous ruling class regimes that exist on the face of this planet: the imperialist ruling class of the United States.

The road ahead in that struggle is going to be strewn with obstacles, and there are going to be many pitfalls. There’s no roadmap, no way you can find some kind of a detailed handbook that’s going to tell you what to do at each juncture. Our task is to chart a revolutionary course, based on a fundamental understanding of our program — a basic feel of our revolutionary strategy — and to hammer out the tactics in that direction as we go along.

There’s no timetable. Nobody can say how long it’s going to take or when it’s going to happen. I personally feel that those of you sitting in this room today, who have got all your youth going for you, have got at least Damon Runyon’s six-to-five chance of seeing that explosion.

But in saying so I want to add immediately: don’t make that a condition. Don’t adopt the criterion that the revolutionary change must happen in your time. Don’t take as a guide to your active life that narrow, provincial, self-centered notion that if it doesn’t happen during the time of your own subjective existence on this planet, it’s not important.

Always remember that history is magnificently indifferent to the problems of the individual. History doesn’t care whether you die at six or live to be seven hundred, if that were possible, or what happens during your particular lifetime. As the German poet Goethe once said, “History marches like a drunken beggar on horseback.”

A lot can happen during your limited lifespan, or you can live a dull existence. Some people have had the good fortune to live more in a year than others at a different historical juncture could live in their whole lifetime. Or, as Plekhanov once put it, “If it hadn’t been for the French Revolution, Napoleon would probably have ended up as a corporal in the French artillery.”

Don’t make it a condition that the socialist revolution must come in your lifetime. Be not only a citizen of the planet; be a citizen of time. Recognize that what’s fundamental is to be in rapport with the human race from the dawn of history, on to heights we can only vaguely begin to dream of.

And what’s the alternative? The alternative is to make a compromise with this rotten capitalist system. Do you know what people who do that are like? You remember the movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster? Jabez Stone, you know, sold his soul to Scratch, the devil. He did so on the promise that his personal ambitions would thus be served. Later he regretted the action and asked to have his soul returned. Scratch, who was played by Walter Huston, that magnificent actor, finally said all right, he’d give it back.

So Scratch took a small matchbox from his pocket. He opened the box and began poking around in it with his stubby finger trying, and trying, to find the mean little soul of Jabez Stone so he could give it back.

That’s symbolic of what you do to your own soul if you make a compromise with this rotten system.

Our job is to build a movement of men and women who emulate the seasoned fighters of the Continental line in the first American Revolution. Learn to be professional revolutionary fighters. Don’t be summer soldiers. Don’t dabble; don’t vacillate. Put nothing above the considerations of the movement. Maintain your place in the front ranks of the revolutionary fighters, and stand in that place for the duration.

There is no other way in which you can find so rich, so rewarding, so fruitful, and so purposeful a life.

Jack Barnes letter to Raul Castro

Message by Jack Barnes, Socialist Workers Party National Secretary, to Raúl Castro. November 27, 2016

Compañero Raúl Castro Ruz
First Secretary
Communist Party of Cuba
Havana, Cuba

Dear Compañero Raúl,

There were two great socialist revolutions in the twentieth century, one in Russia, the other in Cuba. Neither was the product of a single individual. Both were the result of the operations of capitalism itself. But without the presence and political leadership of Vladimir Lenin and of Fidel Castro Ruz at decisive moments in those historic battles by working people, there is no reason to believe either revolution would have been victorious.

Apart from Lenin and Fidel, the history of the twentieth century — and the twenty-first — is unthinkable. Both of them, Marxist students of science and history, gave their lives to uprooting the dog-eat-dog exploitation, oppression, and compulsion on which the capitalist world order depends and replacing it with a workers state, with new social and economic relations based on the liberating capacities of working people and the youth they inspire.

Fidel belongs to Cuba first and foremost, to the men and women of José Martí and Antonio Maceo. His highest achievement was forging in struggle a revolutionary cadre, a communist cadre, capable of leading the workers and farmers of Cuba to establish the first free territory of the Americas and successfully defend it for more than five and a half decades against the determination to destroy it by the mightiest and most brutal empire the world has known.

But Fidel belongs to the working people of the world as well. From Latin America and the Caribbean, to Africa and Asia, to North America and Europe, he showed us in action what proletarian internationalism means. During Cuba's historic sixteen-year mission aiding the people of Angola and Namibia against apartheid South Africa and its promoters in Washington, Fidel demonstrated his unmatched political leadership on a world scale. He also proved, as the Rebel Army combatants of the Sierra knew well, that he was one of the toilers' greatest military commanders ever.
All this is why Fidel became the most loved as well as the most hated, the most slandered man of our lifetimes.

As Fidel said in his farewell words to the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in April, "We all reach our turn." He cannot be replaced, but his life work, Cuba's socialist revolution — its example, and above all its ongoing march — stand as his monument. He needs no other.

For our part, members of the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists will continue to do everything in our power to publish and spread the truth about the Cuban Revolution and Fidel's leadership, to make it known to working people in the United States and throughout the world. With unshakable confidence in the working class and its allies, we will continue to organize and act on the course Fidel uncompromisingly presented to the world in 1961, a month before the victorious battle of Playa Girón: "There will be a victorious revolution in the United States before a victorious counterrevolution in Cuba."

Jack Barnes
National Secretary
Socialist Workers Party