Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin

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No 1502 8th December 2016

Dismay grows daily as Great capitalist Catastrophe pushes ruling class deeper towards degenerate fascistic populism and deliberately inflamed chauvinism and scapegoating – building the mood for the world war conflicts that are its only “way out” of epochal breakdown and collapse. But while the need to take on and end the depravity, incompetence and unfairness of capitalism grows glaringly more clear, the great blockage of anti-communism remains in place. Urgent and growing debate and discussion needed about workers states and their huge success, as well as dismal revisionist retreats, are avoided and blocked. Nothing sums up the failure and opportunism of the “left” better than their attitudes to the giant achievements of Fidel Castro and the brilliant revolutionary workers state built in Cuba; either sneering and damning it, (openly or by implication) or simply tailending everything it did. But Havana’s revisionist theoretical mistakes need challenging despite unconditional support for the workers state. Leninism must be built

The fake-“left” and the “liberal” intelligentsia grows daily more disturbed by the irrational and vicious tribalism and hatred being whipped up by the ruling class to cover-up its incompetence and epochal historic failure.

But their sterile and hidebound politics continues to avoid the central question raised by the Great Catastrophe of capitalist political and economic breakdown – building of a revolutionary movement to end capitalism for good.

The need has never been greater and nor has the opportunity.

The ruling class is utterly paralysed as its production for private profit system becomes entangled in the contradictions of the greatest crisis collapse in history.

Contempt for existing politics has never been greater, illusions in “democracy” more threadbare.

The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, with all decisions taken for and on behalf of big capital and exploitation, is becoming more and more openly exposed, and ever more repressive.

The attempt to rescue things with fascist-style plebiscites and irrational hate campaigns only reflects (Brexit, Italy, Austria) a total vacuum in leadership and capability, as “democratic election” rule is increasingly exposed for the giant lying racket it is and has always been – as for example in the “triumph” of Trumpism, a hopeless disaster built on a minority vote from a tiny turnout.

The working class has rightly turned away from all of it – including turning away from the great swamp of fake-“left”ism, its diversionary “identity” politics and PCism.

But it cannot get spontaneously to the necessary conscious understanding of the historic breakdown now being seen and particularly of the need for a gigantic revolutionary transformation of all society.

And it remains vulnerable to the manipulation of capitalist media and demagoguery.

A party of deliberate open polemical struggle for revolutionary theory and leadership must be built, Leninism in short.

Without such a conscious leadership for communist revolution the rejectionist and pessimistic void will continue to be filled by backwardness and chauvinism, the last resort of the ruling class as it heads deeper into its warmongering “solution” to the crisis.

The pressure and contradictions can only intensify.

Crisis collapse continues to unravel, and the temporary respite from QE money printing and endless credit-creation after the 2008 meltdown, cannot last.

Even before the hollow nonsense of Quantitative Easing finally gives way, the crisis is imposing ever worsening conditions on workers and proletarians everywhere – and more and more dragging down the middle class too.

Wages stagnate at best, unemployment rises, and inequality reaches ever more grotesque levels of penury, homelessness and despair confronted with ever more obscene luxury and waste, even in the “richest” of countries.

Bankruptcy is hitting many of the weaker powers like Brazil, Argentina, Greece, Portugal, east Europe, South Africa, and even oil rich nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

In the already ruthlessly exploited Third World, warmongering destructiveness, death squads, torture, repression and drone terrorising grow more gruesome and horrific daily, taking out country after country, and driving millions into refugee camps, with war non-stop essentially for two decades.

Hate campaigns are whipped up against “enemies” like Russia, with aggressive NATO troop buildups in eastern Europe, or the brewing nastiness of Washington’s anti-Chinese “pivot to Asia” militarisation.

Agonised documentaries and books appear from left and liberal journalists like Michael Moore, John Pilger. William Blum and Ian Cobain, pointing to the ever more exposed depravities of capitalist colonialism, covered up for decades.

Others look at the internal militarisation of the police in the US, overt political brainwashing (Prevent etc), repressive police state surveillance culture everywhere - and the rise of irrational chauvinist “blame the foreigner” stridency from Donald Trump and Brexit to the rightwing viciousness on the rise everywhere in Europe.

But all the hand-wringing by academics and celebrities never gets anywhere near a complete picture, an overall perspective of the universal breakdown and epochal failure taking place.

Neither does the great class collaborating tradition of “Labour Movement” reformism, responsible for half the warmongering anyway and colluding with imperialism across the board.

Just the opposite, even as the shape of worldwide collapse grows sharper, they all veer more and more away from drawing the obvious conclusion – that this is a total Catastrophic failure exactly along the lines first analysed in depth by Karl Marx in Capitaland developed by Lenin (Imperialism - the highest stage of capitalism eg).

Noone wants to confront the real question being posed, that of the disintegration of the existing class order into (revolutionary) chaos, and the need that poses to end capitalism for good so that the world can finally be rebuilt on a rational planned socialist basis as laid out initially in the Communist Manifesto.

Take this from the physicist Stephen Hawking drawing some attention currently:

As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.

I am no exception to this rule. I warned before the Brexit vote that it would damage scientific research in Britain, that a vote to leave would be a step backward, and the electorate – or at least a sufficiently significant proportion of it – took no more notice of me than any of the other political leaders, trade unionists, artists, scientists, businessmen and celebrities who all gave the same unheeded advice to the rest of the country.

What matters now, far more than the choices made by these two electorates, is how the elites react. Should we, in turn, reject these votes as outpourings of crude populism that fail to take account of the facts, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent? I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.

The concerns underlying these votes about the economic consequences of globalisation and accelerating technological change are absolutely understandable. The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.

This in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world. The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.

We need to put this alongside the financial crash, which brought home to people that a very few individuals working in the financial sector can accrue huge rewards and that the rest of us underwrite that success and pick up the bill when their greed leads us astray. So taken together we are living in a world of widening, not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their standard of living, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing. It is no wonder then that they are searching for a new deal, which Trump and Brexit might have appeared to represent.

It is also the case that another unintended consequence of the global spread of the internet and social media is that the stark nature of these inequalities is far more apparent than it has been in the past. For me, the ability to use technology to communicate has been a liberating and positive experience. Without it, I would not have been able to continue working these many years past.

But it also means that the lives of the richest people in the most prosperous parts of the world are agonisingly visible to anyone, however poor, who has access to a phone. And since there are now more people with a telephone than access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, this will shortly mean nearly everyone on our increasingly crowded planet will not be able to escape the inequality.

The consequences of this are plain to see: the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fuelling political populism.

For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.

With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so. If communities and economies cannot cope with current levels of migration, we must do more to encourage global development, as that is the only way that the migratory millions will be persuaded to seek their future at home.

We can do this, I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humility.

For all his “giant brain” capacity and leading role in the capitalist media-created “high priesthood” of “clever scientists”, with supposedly a special insight into the universe, Hawking still cannot shake free from the narrow limitations and hidebound assumptions of “democracy” and prejudice against workers states, and the proletarian dictatorship needed to build them.

Nor does he see the giant revolt already underway, exploding crudely and inchoately as “terrorism” and “jihadism” but fuelled by desperation and hatred against the imperialist system.

His damp squib conclusions differs not a whit from 2000 years of pieties from Christians and other do-gooders.

Humility is good but recognition that there is a science of crisis and revolution, Marxist Leninist dialectical materialism, would be better.

Perhaps a “privileged academic” can get no further, the limitations of class position causing even supposed genius abilities to fall pathetically short.

Decades of brainwashing with anti-communism, delusions about “democracy” and fear of the discipline that is required to build socialism, – plus the corrupting influence of comfortable lives lived on the super-profit fruits of worldwide slave-level exploitation - blocks off most capacity to understand or at least to take a lead in developing the required grasp and sticking to it firmly.

At the heart of that is the need for the working class to take and hold power, establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, to take over the resources and wealth of society and direct it for the first time into the planned and coherent development of society for all, in harmony and balance with nature.

Better elements of the petty bourgeois (maybe including Hawking), and petty bourgeois influenced workers (which is many layers deep in the rich imperialist countries, corrupted by more than two centuries of colonialist plundering and super-profit bribery) will come round to support for the working class struggle for communism eventually – and especially as it develops a leadership that can begin to explain the necessity for the struggle.

The great elephant in the room it has to tackle and that all are avoiding, is the question of communism, and the need for building of workers states standing firmly against capitalism, as already begun in history.

Until the working class can work through, and come to an agreement about, the giant experiences already made in the twentieth century from the Soviet Union onwards, examining in detail the flaws and philosophical failings of these titanically brilliant first historical attempts to take the world forwards beyond the era of exploitative and primitive class rule societies (slavery, feudalism and capitalism all), while developing a deep understanding of where they fell short philosophically, mankind cannot make a step forwards.

The great brainwashing lies that “communism didn’t work” or that it “collapsed” or that life was just “one long nightmare” - all complete garbage – are the greatest obstacle of all facing workers, holding them back from struggle.

But the great swamp of the fake-“left”, loudly declaiming their “revolutionary” credentials, is not going to take anybody anywhere on all this.

Just the opposite, they help keep in place all this capitalist ideological distortion and psychological conditioning.

Whether it is Revisionism, worshipping the Stalinist past but refusing even to admit to past mistakes (and the crimes that they led to) let alone analyse and correct them, or bilious Trotskyist anti-communists rejecting all the gigantic achievements of the Soviet Union (and other workers state postwar) under the pretence of “anti-Stalinism” (but in reality hostile to everything about the workers states), fake-“leftism” does nothing to develop the only possible way out of the crisis there can be for the working class, the building of a leadership and understanding that takes on and considers all the past difficulties, and moves understanding to an even higher level than already achieved.

Their posturing self-proclaimed identity as “Marxist” and “revolutionary” actually involves the complete opposite; a hostility to revolutionary theory constantly buried in the various academic discussions and “explanations” that they all retreated into decades ago as a result of the misleadership and mistakes which Moscow slid into analysing the world struggle more and more wrongly while it slid into a bureaucratic complacency that eventually saw the pointless liquidation of the gigantic 70 years of achievement of the Soviet Union.

The EPSR alone has long tackled the complex and difficult analysis of Moscow’s flaws and mistakes and the damage that was done to revolutionary struggle everywhere (see for example Perspectives 2001 book or Books Vol 21 on Unanswered Polemics against the revisionists).

All this is underlined by the miserable responses of the “left” to the death of revolutionary giant, Fidel Castro and their assessments of the huge achievements of the defiant Cuban workers state.Fidel Castro in the mountains leadng the armed struggle to overturn Battista

It has remained for 60 years one of the great examples and inspirations for anti-imperialist and socialist struggles everywhere in the world.

It has also directly aided and assisted many of those struggles directly, at great cost to itself, notably in Angola’s military struggle against South African fascist apartheid, and provided further aid and assistance in education and medicine to multiple Third World nations during emergencies, such as Haiti after the earthquake, and similarly Pakistan, East Timor, and much of Latin America, (Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela among others) and to West Africa during the Ebola crisis.

But like a thermometer reading of the real nature of these groups, the commentaries range from the outright poisonous condemnation from Trotskyist groups, or the high-handed dismissals-with-faint-praise of the more circumspect (aware that Cuba’s achievements are too popular to condemn outright), to the uncritical eulogies of the Stalinists larded with “hailings” and “pledges to honour” etc, but as always uncritically tailending great achievements without any objective assessment of revisionist limitations and flaws, which hampered Castro and the Cuban leadership and still do.

But without understanding the revisionist failings of Havana, trained in and trapped by the same Third International philosophy which finally liquidated the USSR and handed over the giant accumulated resources and achievements of the Soviet working class to the carpet-bagging gangsterism of a few violent thugs and mafia bosses, there can be no way to draw the full lessons from its heroic and continuing revolutionary progress.

The first lesson unmentioned by the revisionists, now claiming Fidel as their own, is that his greatest and most powerful characteristic was his revolutionary determination, which initially challenged the deadening and cautious influence of Cuba’s Moscow influenced Communist Party in the mid-1950s.

His audacious, brilliant and determined armed uprising against the mafia stoogery running Cuba for the most degenerate aspects of American imperialism went ahead and succeeded against the deadening Third International advice to hold back on “adventurism”, and play a “steady game” as advised by the local CP.

That CPism was saturated with illusions in the “peaceful and constitutional road” and of not “rocking the boat” and “provoking” imperialism, a path set by Stalin’s 1952 Economic Problems perspective of a world imperialism deemed hamstrung by the Second World War and hemmed in by ever expanding socialist states which would, according to this scenario, eventually hugely outpace capitalism production, squeezing its markets ever tighter (see Unanswered Polemics as above).

Simply by “containing” imperialism’s aggressive nature with “peace struggles”, growing socialism could afford to wait while capitalism weakened and declined relative to the socialist world, eventually capitulating as the popular appeal of the workers states tipped the balance.

But it was a disastrous perspective that missed out the huge expansionist capacity of imperialism built on ruthless exploitation of Third World near- and actual slave labour (which the very rationale of socialism ruled out for the USSR) and the non-stop aggressive subversion it mounted against the workers states and working class.

Castro’s defiance and challenge to imperialism for his entire life, saw defeat after defeat of imperialism’s foulest and bloodiest efforts, notably in the infamous 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle and in the “Cuban missile crisis” in which the US was forced to back down on its placement of deadly nuclear missiles against the Soviet Union in Turkey and to commit (for what its worth) to never attacking Cuba again.

Dozens of other incidents and (mostly US) subversions have been resisted and pushed back largely because Cuba quickly established the dictatorship of the proletariat, a firm workers state authority which took all the major capitalist corporations and landholdings into common ownership, and maintained a clear unshakeable class control while steadily building a people’s democracy (committees for the Defence of the Revolution etc) informed and inspired by the party leadership (including course Fidel Castro’s long speeches to the population at giant May Day rallies and revolution commemorations) sustaining undeniable mass popularity and support, even in the toughest of times.

It is this class firmness more than anything which is hated by the bourgeoisies of the world, with endless tirades poured onto his alleged “brutal dictatorship”, not least by the poisonous anti-communism of the supposed “liberals” like the Trot-saturated Guardian, which as always jumped in immediately to declare that all the great gains and benefits of the revolution counted for nothing because it was not a “democracy”.

So much for universal education right through to college level, a brilliant medical system which is not only the best in Latin America but among the best and most innovative in the world, and an end to the hunger and desperation, sweatshops, homelessness, crime and childChild poverty and stgartvation desperation is rampant throughout the Thrid World - but not in Cuba labour, which plague the whole of imperialist exploited Latin America, most of the exploited Third World and even the heartlands of imperialism.

Firm control has been crucial in holding back non-stop counter-revolution from the CIA and exiled bourgeoisie in Florida, that is not remotely interested in the “democracy” it pretends to be for, but would have slaughtered half the country to re-establish its mafia gambling and prostitution exploitation, drowning it in even more vengeful bloodletting than has been seen in country after country from Argentina, Mexico and Brazil to El Salvador and Guatemala, whenever the masses have even contemplated revolt (not to mention the Indonesian slaughter of a million, Vietnam, Korea, Greece, Malaysia, etc etc etc).

Not tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands or even millions would have been massacred to make the point (and still would be).

Tackling this subversion is no joke and the firm suppression of such counter-revolution is crucial for all struggles to build socialism.

It has also been critical in maintaining a discipline on the economy during all the years of savage American blockade, (against the universal unanimous opposition of the entire United Nations), virtually the longest running and most draconian “sanctions” siege ever, which exceeded even the killer economic savagery against Iraq or Iran, and which like those on North Korea have attempted to starve the population out (and such “siege” methods are war-crimes as the West keeps hypocritically declaring against the demonised Assad regime in the bitter Syrian civil war).

Guardian bile was also poured on the “failure” of the economy because the consumer delights available to tourists were apparently not up to those you might find on the Costa del Sol in the 1990s (in a period of particularly intense siege conditions when the liquidation of the Soviet Union removed one of the major markets for the country’s critical sugar harvest exports and much trade support).

This petty bourgeois smugness is contemptible on multiple levels, beginning with the arrogance of those who live on the backs of world exploitation and fancifully believe their “high standard of living” is their own “achievement”.

Then it is the wrong comparison anyway pitching a small third world economy against a large and still continuing imperialist Europe; look instead at next door Haiti, a similar-sized Caribbean island with the same geography and hurricane ridden tropical climate, and similar slave-exploited history, but with one of the world’s lowest standards of living causing desperate poverty and disease, as well as a history of vicious repression including the double dictatorships of “Papa” and “Baby” Doc Duvalier. Or maybe Puerta Rico, held down as a poverty stricken and exploited semi-colony by the US.

It also ignores the devastating impact of the blockade, despite which industry has been developed, and social conditions have been achieved which are the envy of Latin America and even many in the First World, such as the millions of poor US Americans who live crippled and unhealthy, and sometimes die in agony from minor medical ailments, because they cannot afford even basic dentistry, or eye tests or standard medicines.

It ignores too the endless sabotage against Cuba such as spreading of crop disease and even human disease like dengue - and famously 600 assassination attempts (illegally, against the missile crisis settlement conditions).

Finally it is wrong, because the economy works, and even produces world level innovations in medicine and engineering, as well as providing massive medical aid and military support for struggles in the Third World; and it works even though full success of communist organisation in the world, will only be able to flower when the impact of world imperialism and its deeply distorting dominance of all world trade, and resource plundering, is removed, and therefore planning on an international scale is possible.

Such is the huge success of Cuba that this bourgeois sourness drew at least some response:

• If the people of St Vincent want to honour the memory of Fidel Castro, surely it is appropriate for the representative of their monarchy to respect their wishes without interference from the British (‘Awkward moment’ for Prince Harry in minute’s silence for Fidel Castro, theguardian.com, 27 November). The attitude of many in Britain has more than a whiff of colonialism.

Alison Curtis Gooderham, Canada

• Zoe Williams’ usually excellent judgment has let her down when she says of Fidel Castro that “What matters is that he was a dictator”, because she forgets the context of a Latin America in the 1950s dominated by rightwing despots, with every effort to replace them with progressive governments being ended by military force. This would continue well into the 1980s, and even in the last decade we have seen two elected, progressive leaders fall to rightwing coups.

How does she think a peaceful transformation from revolution to democracy should be secured? Here in Nicaragua, the 1979 revolution was followed by an election in 1984 which was not recognised by the US because it gave the “wrong” result. It was not until 1990, when the electorate correctly chose capitalism, that the US accepted the ballot as valid. It then took 16 years to restore a left-of-centre government, which is now again under threat of US sanctions.

Nowhere in Latin America has suffered the baleful influence of US intervention more than Cuba, for reasons of history and geography. The Batista regime was one of the most barbarous in the continent, with its corruption accentuated by the mafia’s control of Havana’s main businesses, yet it was unflinchingly supported by successive US governments. Castro had to defend the revolution’s achievements against the threats both of the US government itself and of the Miami-based terrorist groups who bombed Cuban planes and hotels with impunity, well into the 1990s. Nor has any other country so dependent on US commerce seen its economy strangled by a 50-year embargo, which applies not to just to US firms but to any firm that trades with the US.

What was Castro supposed to do, meekly hold elections on terms acceptable to the US, in which millions of dollars would have poured into the country to ensure the “right” result? And then see Cuba return to the oligarchs who still control countries like Honduras and Guatemala? He was well aware that even the mildest leftwing government wouldn’t have been acceptable to the US in a country only 100 miles from its borders. By not acknowledging that, Zoe, you ignore 60 years of US intervention in Central America and the Caribbean.

John Perry Masaya, Nicaragua

• Reference is rightly made to the fine role Cuba played in supporting opposition to apartheid and also in support of liberation struggles in Angola and Mozambique. I’ve not seen comment on Cuba’s support for Mengistu Haile Mariam when Ethiopia was invaded by the Somali forces of Siad Barre. What is the judgment? Mengistu eventually ousted (to sanctuary in Zimbabwe), Siad forced out and dead; Somalia in a very sorry state and Ethiopia again in some turmoil after a period of relative contentment.

Robin Le Mare Allithwaite, Cumbria

• Like Zoe Williams, I too was in Cuba in the 90s. In 1993 I returned for the first time since 1960 when, during the euphoric early days of the revolution, I spent two months with an international work brigade on the construction of a rural residential school. By contrast, 1993 was a truly terrible year for Cuba. Most supposedly informed observers confidently predicted the imminent collapse of the economy and thought that Cuba would follow the USSR and the eastern European states into oblivion.

It is inexcusable to deplore the conditions of extreme hardship endured by the Cuban people without referring to their causes. On top of the US economic blockade of Cuba – which was accurately described by Noam Chomsky as the harshest in the world (harsher than the sanctions imposed on Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion), and which in 1993 had already been in place for 33 years – in 1992 Cuba also had to contend with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the overnight loss of 75% of its foreign trade. No other country has had to endure an economic calamity of such proportions. To not only have survived but to have provided its people with a free education and public health system renowned throughout the world for their excellence is an achievement without parallel.

There is nothing comparable to the 57-year-old relentless, punitive hostility with which the greatest superpower has treated a small, poor third-world country.

Mike Faulkner London

• I didn’t recognise Zoe Williams’ caricature of Cuba under Fidel Castro. Yes, Havana may look a little dowdy – but what a relief not to be bombarded with advertising, and the painstaking, carefully planned restoration of the old city (hardly likely under capitalism) has earned it Unesco world heritage site status.

If Zoe Williams had ventured a little away from the modestly stocked shops – unsurprising given the devastating US economic boycott, which has also depleted the “elegantly appointed” pharmacies she mocks – she would have found a vibrant musical and cultural life savoured by the Cuban people.

It’s true that prostitution – virtually eliminated prior to the fall of Soviet communism – made a comeback with the need to promote international tourism. But given a choice between a country that values every one of its citizens and nurtures their abilities, and one where food banks and beggars on street corners are in danger of becoming the norm, is there really any contest?

Peter Godfrey Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

• We have just returned from Cuba, which we have visited regularly over the last 20 years, and we don’t recognise the country described by Zoe Williams and by the media generally. Cuba is a third-world country because it has been hammered by over 50 years of the illegal US blockade. Nor do we recognise the label of dictator. Cuba has a democracy. Members of its government do not need to be wealthy. They are farmers and shopkeepers; doctors and taxi drivers. In other words, they are citizens selected and elected by their peers. They choose their ministers, who then choose their leader. This is a very different model of democracy to ours. There are no political parties and no political campaigns. Compare that with the US, where $2.6bn was spent, resulting in the election of Donald Trump!

Castro walked the streets of Havana safely despite over 500 attempts on his life by the CIA. He is revered by his people – even the BBC in a report on Sunday acknowledged that the young people in Cuba think favourably of him. Perhaps Cuba’s achievements in the fields of free education and healthcare have some bearing on this. This so-called dictator lived in a relatively humble home on the outskirts of Havana and sought no financial gain for himself, only a better life for his fellow citizens.

Castro challenged the western world, and that is why it despised him and why the western media portrayed him in the way that they did. The pity is that so many people believe that Cuba has been, and is being, oppressed by its leaders. Our visit this month confirmed our belief that in Cuba, despite the hardships that the people have to endure, the majority of the population are cheerful, friendly and content with the egalitarian system that Castro introduced.

Pam and Rog Wortley Sunderland

And stunningly, even the usually ultra-reactionary Katie Hopkins on the Daily Mail has something better to say:

Two days later, standing amongst over a million people in Revolution Square, deafened by the noise of a million whispering voices, I saw another side.

A million-plus people, all in order, bussed to a nearby location, walking the final hour to stand in vigil through the night to remember their leader.

A million-strong crowd, ordered, disciplined. Without fuss or a fast-pass to the front. Neither carrying anything nor asking for anything. Making no demands. Just standing facing forward. Watching the stage.

On the stage are leaders from the nations who had been supported by Castro, allies in a fight against America or apartheid. To an outsider, a front row filled with despots. To these people, friends, co-resistors.

Raúl Castro took to the stage, acknowledging that, with his brother’s death, the baton of power has finally been passed for the next leg of this little island’s marathon journey on the world stage.

A baton of power which somehow, even in decrepitude, Castro had held firm — until now.

At dawn the throngs choreographed into a new formation of grief as Castro’s ashes, accompanied by the silence of a million voices made mute, began their journey back to Santiago where it all began, retracing in reverse the victory tour Castro and his bearded rebels took after overthrowing the forces of strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

I was holding my breath.

I think the city is holding its breath, too, wondering: what comes next? What will become of Cuba?

I bumped into an American tourist who had made it here via Mexico, rushing to get here in time, before Cuba changes beyond all recognition. And that is the feeling of the city right now.

The buildings in decay, the people enjoying the only things they have — each other — the men playing drafts by the light coming from a building, everyone sitting out just watching or talking. It is all somehow magical. And all about to change. But no one knows exactly how.

Maybe for the better.

But then I think about leaving this place where I have walked alone in back alleys and along tiny tracks and never questioned whether I was safe. The opposite in fact — I felt protected by the obvious good in people here, always offering to help when they thought I was lost and I was pretending I wasn’t.

I think about arriving back in London. To an airport patrolled by police with semi-automatic rifles. Amongst nervous families playing spot-the-terrorist. To an underground where you take your chances, consoling yourself that ‘if your time’s up, it’s up’.

I will treasure my time here sitting with crowds of school children, beautiful and laughing in sharp white blouses and clean white socks pulled up perfectly — in a place with no washing machines or easy water — all curious about England, keen to try talking my language and teach me a little of theirs.

I’m returning to the school run, where kids with kilts rolled up to their knickers and dirty shirts thunder down the pavement like they own it and rock up late for school, face-down in their phones. Where teachers can be stabbed to death by an angry pupil.

And I admire these stoic people in Cuba, standing through the night without fuss or complaint to pay silent respect to their leader. A ten-hour bus journey, a one-hour walk, twelve hours of standing — accepting the obligation, but doing it happily anyway. Without asking for a thing.

Here, these people know the rules. And live under them peacefully.

At home, we know the law. And we live in violence and fear. In cities where there are places we cannot walk. On transport where we take our chances against terror. In hospitals where nurses need police at their side to work in safety.

We point at the ‘monster’ Castro, with his record of restricted press, political prisoners and democratic failings. All the while listening to our state press which changes the name of a terrorist to make him sound less Muslim, ignores a Marine sergeant imprisoned for serving his country, and fails to reflect the will of 17.4million people who voted Leave.

Now Castro sleeps. I leave Cuba hoping that all that is good here will resist the pressures of change.

And I wonder exactly what the West thinks it has to be so smug about.

Hopkins is not about to start advocating communism of course and her patronising tone about the Cuban masses turns into a tool for further middle-class moralising against the “feckless poor” in Britain, while the slight undertone of defeatism – that it “cannot last” – reflects the usual middle-class smugness.

But even this is better than the sour poison poured out by the Trotskyist groups, all competing to outdo the Guardian in talking down Cuba’s giant world impact and rubbishing it as “nothing but Stalinist dictatorship” and far from any example for the world’s downtrodden masses.

Every bit of “Politically Correct” single-issue distraction and subjective idealist self-centredness is used to attack the giant achievements, with some fine points about how homosexual “rights” are (actually were) treated, elevated to first place to undermine all trust and to help build up their longstanding call for “political revolution” – the same disastrous fantasy that proved to be nothing but counter-revolution against the Soviet Union and could never have been anything else, helping the continuous undermining, hostile propaganda and subversion mounted by the West playing into the hands of petty bourgeois disruption and opportunism.

The “anti-Stalinist” “political revolution” was a complete anti-Marxist nonsense built on an academic “theory” of a “new caste” which was supposedly running a “new kind of bureaucratic capitalism” – a third, (an utterly impossible) kind of property relation invented by these armchair “revolutionaries” purely to justify their actual hatred of the workers states and to undermine working class support.

Its deliberate confusion mongering played right into the pressures which led to dire Moscow revisionism capitulating to the West and the “free market”, the Gorbachevite liquidation, leading to disaster for the former Soviet Union and the loss of many lives and many more livelihoods in the oligarch mafia plunder that followed.

Not so much is made any more by the Trots of that gross misleadership and the devastation it has caused and they would equally run a mile from the massacring mess they would cause if their poisonous fantasies were to come about in Cuba.

But some of the Trots still insist on calling Cuba “deformed” or “degenerated”, meaning in fact only fit to be overturned.

Others like the once revisionist and now essentially Trotskyist Weekly Worker CPGB, aware of the fully justified world popularity Castro, try some snide faint praise to pretend even-handedness and cover up a relentless damnation of Havana’s heroic history, setting out the history of the initial national-liberation struggle after Castro’s landing in the yacht "Granma" and the insurgency in the mountains, which was somehow “converted” into communism because

in this era Soviet foreign policy turned decisively towards supporting anti-colonial and anti-imperialist revolt and there thus developed a strong attraction for the soviet model and non-capitalist roads to development.’

Typically for the “left” their efforts to rubbish such developments tie them up in knots and contradictions – trying to suggest Castro was somehow “seduced by Stalinism” they are obliged to tell the world the Soviet Union aided many struggles against imperialism; but how could that be if the USSR was already “back in the capitalist camp” as the laughable “theories” about Stalinist “counter-revolution”, already allegedly in charge since the early 1920s, were true??? (An equally damning point for the museum Stalinist and Maoist types to answer too in fact - since Kruschev was allegedly a “counter-revolutionary” who decisively set the USSR on a capitalist path after Stalin, why on earth would Moscow have poured resources into liberation and communist struggle as it did – Kruschev’s revisionist flaws notwithstanding, the USSR was still a workers state and in many ways defying imperialism, is the only answer - as it was until actual liquidation/counter-revolution in 1989-91.)

But the Weekly Worker Trot nastiness gets much fouler, all covered over by grudging admissions that actually it might have been the right thing all along:

Thus the next few decades of Castro’s life consisted of evading one US-sponsored assassination attempt after another, and his regime was battered by both the notorious blockade and endless CIA destabilisation operations. The Castros’ response was Soviet-style dictatorship - all power lay with the Communist Party, large swathes (even by Stalinist standards) of the economy were nationalised, and the whole thing was subsidised by the USSR, which bought up Cuban sugar. Dissidents were bullied, imprisoned and exiled.

Yet the repression was not on the same scale as in the German Democratic Republic, never mind Maoist China or the USSR in its Stalin-era prime. As an indicator, some 217 people were formally executed by the Castro regime up to 1987, compared to 20,000 in the Batista era; extra-judicial killings are, of course, not included, but neither are Batista’s.

Are we to conclude that the better angels of Castro’s nature prevented the sort of horrifying bloodletting seen elsewhere? Hardly - the truth is that the Cuban regime enjoyed broad popularity from its inception. The Batista regime, by the time of its downfall, was widely hated and propped up by the Mafia. The country was reduced to the status of an offshore brothel for rich Americans. Whatever the privations and political restrictions of Stalinism, that particular problem went away overnight. Castro’s Stalinism, in short, was successful in competing for hegemony over Cuban nationalist sentiment; and, just as the USA was terribly concerned to see a Soviet satellite pop up just off the coast of Florida, so Cubans worry about how their small nation can resist the imperial behemoth just to the north. Fidel, whatever his faults, was the man with the cojones to stand up to Uncle Sam, for five decades.

But these weasel-mouthed damning-with-faint-praise “admissions” are only the prelude to a deluge of the heavy defeatism and pessimism that these snidey CPGBers specialise in, as in their long since abandoned late 1990s notion that the American imperialists were “sorting out” all the “hotspots” in the world and bringing them under control (oh yes?? Would that include Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Libya, the Yemen, Pakistan, and even lately such potential new Saddams as Duterte in the Philippines or Indonesia etc etc???? Or most of Latin America? Morocco even? Still seething Egypt? Ukraine?? And would it include Ireland where the Sinn Féin national-liberation struggle continues to grow massively across the whole of Ireland heading for eventual full reunification, now that it has pushed back the British occupation, ended the old dictatorship RUC policing force, and long established the right to fight through peaceful means - all completely contradicting the WW bleak view of a desperate capitulation by the IRA/Sinn Féin???):

That leaves the Cuban revolution not as a model, but as a striking exception in an overall litany of failure. Yet, on closer examination, that should hardly be surprising; for 1950s Cuba was already thoroughly proletarianised, in the city and the country, and had (as already mentioned) a militant workers’ movement.

Castro and his comrades arrived in Santiago to find the workers on a general strike, led by the PSP; the fusion of the July 26 Movement with the latter to form he Communist Party of Cuba put Fidel in the president’s office, but only worked because the PSP was already a mass workers’ party. Che’s attempts to repeat the trick --

[in Bolivia where he was killed]

-- failed because he misunderstood the reasons for his own success - the USSR’s caginess about provoking the USA, as détente gained traction in cold war diplomacy, hardly helped matters.

Yet did it work even in Cuba? ‘Revolutionary’ Cuba has, in recent years, been steadily on its way in from the cold.

It is reversing many of its nationalisation programmes, and making up for the gap in revenues left by the collapse of the Soviet Union by aggressively building up its tourist industry once again. The Government has essentially created a parallel capitalist economy, with its own currency, to serve as an island resort, while natives must make do with their national pesos and rations; large infrastructure projects have gone to foreign capital.

The last decade or two have seen Cuba edge down the Chinese road, albeit without the massive industrialisation.

Thus, in the end, it is yet another example to add to the pile: socialism in one country is an illusion. It leads on a path, more or less bloody, more or less honourable, back to capitalism.

Apologists for the Cuban regime will cite, unfailingly, the US embargo and associated skulduggery as a proximate cause for its deformities, and not without justice; it would be fatuous to doubt the revolutionary fervour of the young Castros and Guevara and their comrades.

Yet that is surely the point: what else do you expect the global hegemon to do with a ‘socialist’ republic just off the coast?

We should remember that the old adversary, the United States, has had a political shock of its own recently; and if Hillary Clinton had won the election the case would be straightforward: the thaw would continue. Castroism would die, not long after Castro - and not with a bang, but a whimper. Donald Trump could slam things violently into reverse, perhaps giving the regime a reason to exist for a little while longer - a perfectly counter-intuitive possibility for our chaotic times.

Phew!!! What a perspective of total gloom!!! Utter defeatism is typical of these miserable petty bourgeois academics, further up their own (Islington) ivory towers than even Hawking admits to. All built on the twisted “theory” in these dilettantes’ heads that there can be “no struggle for socialism in one country”.

But that is not what Lenin said as the EPSR has often reported (EPSR 886 14-01-97 and 901 24-04-97) :

The ‘new’ CPGB dirge is locked in the same old defeatist misery as before, seeing nothing but catastrophe from the 1921 Tenth Congress of the Bolshevik Party onwards, and falsely marooning Lenin in the pit of despair at the ‘deepening bureaucratic chaos all around him’, and at increasing unlikelihood of the European revolution ‘coming to the rescue of the Soviet revolution’.

Just the opposite. Lenin saw building socialism in the USSR as the bright way forward towards the further defeat of imperialism, and saw the spread eventually of revolution via the Asiatic east as the sure hope for mankind’s socialist future.

This CPGB anti-communist drivel,- viciously maligning the Soviet workers state’s magnificent achievements over 70 years plus the further triumphs of overthrowing the capitalist ruling class and imperialist domination temporarily in more than 20 other countries or so,- simply ties this petty-bourgeois defeatist class mentality into unending factional biliousness, of absolutely no use to mankind whatever.

....The Soviet workers state of planned socialism that the world got for 70 years of the mid 20th century, achieving an astonishing unprecedented impact on civilisation, was about the best the world could anticipate given the prevailing conditions and difficulties. The tragic relapse back into revisionism by the acknowledged leadership of the international revolutionary movement was not the first time this had happened to Marxism-Leninism; and when first Bernstein, and then Kautsky, led the International into exactly these revisionist disasters, there were far less unnerving circumstances facing them than that which afflicted the Third International leadership after Lenin.

The challenge to the validity of trying to build socialism at all in Soviet Russia isolated from world revolution, is best answered by Lenin himself in his articles Our foreign and domestic position and party tasks (1920); Speech at plenary session of Moscow Soviet (Nov 1922); On co-operation (Jan 1923); Better fewer, but better (March 1923).

Far too much criticism of the USSR has been based on its supposed failures as the vehicle for progressing the completion of the world socialist revolution, which was a hazy concept at best, and was not in the forefront of Lenin’s mature mind, as the above quotes indicate. Far too little estimation has been given to the Soviet Union as the world’s first workers state, an actual historical place and event of real complex living millions, all coming from a most difficult background, but achieving miracles.


Trotskyite petty-bourgeois individualist philosophy, on the other hand, may make the occasional opportunist gesture of one cheer for Cuba (because all the best of the working class is cheering Cuba on) but is really only concerned to sneer at Cuba for supposedly ‘getting things wrong’.

Trot derision ranges from “It is doomed to give socialism a bad name, because socialism cannot be built in one country, Cuba or anywhere else” to “Castro is a Stalinist dictator” or “Such a homophobic regime does not deserve to survive”. etc. In all of this ivory-tower ‘socialism’ from the comfort of armchairs in the affluent West, all this counter-revolutionary disinformation is the product of single-issue idealism, the philosophy of petty-bourgeois individualism hostile to Marxism-Leninism.

Empty or downright misleading slogans such as ‘permanent revolution’ or ‘no socialism in one country’ are Trotskyism’s hallmark in which some supposedly ‘logical’ idea or other is pursued to its absolute extreme, transformed by mere windy verbiage into a ‘historical necessity’, and then used as just a stupid sectarian cudgel with which to bash away at the serious collective revolutionary struggle. Deep down, the real aim is one only, - to give each individual sectarian his philosophical motivation, convincing himself he is right, and convincing himself he is correct to court martyrdom in pursuit of this ‘supreme issue’, etc.

But only idealist ‘history’ is made in this way, not real history. And Marxism is the science of real historical necessity.

The Cuban revolution goes on alone because it has no choice. Only in idealist fantasy can the Cuban socialist revolution break out of its total US-imperialist blockade-isolation by marching or sending emissaries into Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, etc, to stir up successful revolutions there in order to totally undermine and defeat US imperialism all in one go, - which is the fantasy world which the Trotskyite “no socialism in one country” armchair socialists live in.

It always remains the great mystery, of course (not really), as to why these self-proclaimed ‘mighty’ Trotskyite sects, all 57 varieties, never club together to go and start what they claim Cuba should go and start, - exporting revolutionary war to further undermine US imperialism, whose blitzkrieg reaction would then, theoretically, be halted by the inflamed response of still more revolutionary proletarian millions even further round the American empire, - which is supposed to be how Cuba would escape annihilation for invading Haiti, or Puerto Rico, for example.

As it happens, the Cuban socialist revolution has in fact carried out some of the most heroic and self-sacrificing acts of generous international revolutionary assistance in the whole history of progressive civilisation, sending important troop contingents and ill-affordable economic and military resources to Namibia and Angola to wage successful war against reactionary South African apartheid-intervention against the national-liberation revolutions in those countries, and risking major imperialist intervention against Cuba itself in retaliation.

As it also happens, the Cuban workers state did in fact indulge in some revolutionary fantasy by sending its most outstanding revolutionary emissary, Che Guevara, to first Zaire and then Bolivia to try to spark off anti-imperialist revolutions in those countries, both ending in failure and eventually in the death of Guevara.

The Cuban revolution is weakest where it should be strongest, - in the mastery and further development of Marxist-Leninist theory, the one really crucial export for all revolutionaries worldwide.

Fake ‘communists’ deride the Cuban workers state for its ‘human rights’ crimes, for its ‘Stalinist dictatorship’, for its ‘collectivisation of poverty through its counter-revolutionary policy of socialism-in-one-country, instead of the collectivisation of wealth through permanent international revolution’, etc.

Real communists, on the other hand, would back Cuba with unconditional support in all of its conflicts with bourgeois ideological derision, whether from rightwing ‘free world’ imperialist disinformation or from fake-’left’ petty-bourgeois individualist subjectivism, (which is the other side of the same counter-revolutionary ‘democracy’ coin.)

But real communists would also like to polemicise with the Cuban revolutionary party on disputed questions of Marxist-Leninist science which could mislead the international working class and harm the Cuban workers state itself (see countless past EPS Reviews on such polemics), -(incidentally giving the lie to the unserious and irresponsible Trot parroting of “totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship and cover-up” and “the denial of the freedom of criticism”, etc.)

And here is what Castro himself said in 1996 for example at the height of the difficulties caused by the liquidation of the USSR:

You are aware that the whole question of whether socialism in one country is possible or not has been amply discussed, or if it is possible once the revolution has broken out in the most industrialized countries; in relation to Germany, England, or in the European nations. This was discussed over many, many years, but Marxism didn’t stop with Marx, and the doctrines of socialism moved on from Marx and Engels. Other great figures came along, great personalities in political and revolutionary thinking, there was Lenin, and it has to be said that Lenin and those who made the October Revolution all believed that the European revolution was a prerequisite for creating socialism. When the European revolution didn’t take place, there came the moment when they took the decision that had to be made: ‘Well, we can’t surrender, we have to create socialism in one country.’

Construction of socialism was begun in the midst of a blockade, the enormous historic feat of building socialism in one country. But Lenin was already thinking of the revolution in China, and revolution in the colonized countries. Marxist thought gave him a tremendous impetus and enrichment. And indeed, a force was created which fulfilled an extraordinary role in the world, and served as a balance.

The capitalist world, terrified by socialist ideas, began to be concerned about social problems, about the situation of the workers, etc., concerns that never troubled them before. The services lent to the world by the existence of the socialist camp, and particularly the Soviet Union, are not known.

But the fact is, as I told you, that we have lost a market, we lost our trade, we lost everything and, in all events, we had to find a solution.

I was speaking of this when I asked how Marx would have responded, and now I’m asking how Lenin would have responded, and I’m sure that Lenin would have said to us: “Do what you’re doing, continue doing what you are doing.” This is why I said on July 26 that a true Marxist-Leninist will do what we are doing.

They had to do it, they had to move towards a new economic policy, the famous NEP (New Economic Plan), during one historic period. But there is something more, at certain points Lenin also planted the idea of building capitalism under proletarian leadership. For your peace of mind, of course, I can tell you that we aren’t thinking doing anything of the kind, (APPLAUSE) and it’s not because we are in disagreement with Lenin, but because circumstances are different, since our process, which was able to rely on assistance from the socialist camp and from the USSR, has made great advances, it has very strong forces and does not have to raise the question in those terms.

Even so, as the EPSR quote above says “The Cuban revolution is weakest where it should be strongest”, and its theoretical shortcomings have been many.

... Cuba would be ten times stronger as a workers state if it could respond to supportive polemics over the mistakes it makes.

A current Granma article illustrates the point, glowingly reporting on a newly-created Central Commission on Cadres where all of the emphasis is to be on moral exhortations and a Code of Ethics, - efficiency, self-sacrifice, serving others, modest, austere, upright, justice not material riches, etc.

All wholly admirable, but all entirely missing the point that only correct scientific understanding of the world, - and correct Cuban workers-state decisions, - can provide reliable future cadre leadership for Cuban socialist development.

Marxism had very little to do with morality. All freedom (to act ‘morally’ or fulfil anything) is ultimately dependent on recognising what is necessary in all historical development.

Cuban theory of successful anti-imperialist struggle was weak over Allende, Grenada, and Gorbachev, for example, which in turn gravely weakens the whole Cuban workers state. It was, after all, the crass ignorance of Gorbachevite revisionist opportunism (following on from similar theoretical backwardness earlier, and creating mass apathy and paralysis) which exclusively destroyed the Soviet workers state.

Failing to draw these out, or in fact covering up numerous past mistakes, is as useless and dangerous for the working class as Trotskyist sneers (which tap precisely into the dangers that some of this revisionism could lead to, in the current “thawing” if it continues, though Cuba has repeatedly stated it is aware itself of the dangers). Again this has long been put to the Stalinists as usual with no polemical reply (EPSR 1044 16-05-00):

The “tactical explanation” excuse for Lalkar fudges is the nastiest opportunism of all.

Castro’s weakness in Marxist-Leninist science is always being excused in similar ways as ‘wise tactics under the threat of instant US imperialist obliteration if he says too much’, etc. This meant going along with the catastrophic defence of Gorbachevism by Castro, the ANC/SACP, and others, as it unfolded from 1984 to 1991. It meant going along with Havana’s zero-useful advice to the Sandinista Revolution, helping its downfall to a CIA electoral sucker-punch because of an absence of any understanding historically about imperialist boom and crisis, Soviet revisionist retreat, and the neglect of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It meant the criminal destruction of the Grenada Revolution without a fight because of Castro’s friendship with the anti-Leninist populist Maurice Bishop. It meant watching Cuba lending tragic support to the anti-Leninist delusions of Allende in Chile, culminating in predictable counter-revolutionary disaster.

Castro’s heroic Cuba remains the greatest practical revolutionary example to mankind that could be imagined, worth a thousand communist programmes. But the rest of the international working class desperately needs programmed communist perspectives as well. It is still getting no such leadership.

Cuba’s weaknesses in theory and particularly the “moral” approach have been even more exposed in the last decade, particularly around the great left reformist movement inspired largely by the Hugo Chávez “left”-reformist anti-imperialism in Venezuela, but also in Bolivia with Evo Morales, the tamed down left reformist “parliamentary” version of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, in Brazil, and to some extent Ecuador, and Argentina, all going under the umbrella term of the “Bolivarian revolution”.

While this has been a major thorn in the side for imperialism, for a decade, and saw some significant poverty alleviation and opportunity for the working class in those countries, and while the mutual support and interaction between Cuba and particularly Chávez, and his successor Maduro in Venezuela, has helped strengthen both in their anti-imperialism, it has also been clear that the entire movement in Latin America has been lacking precisely in the question of the theory.

Not only have these countries failed to take on fully the need to develop a Marxist -Leninist perspective but often effectively dismissed it in favour of supposed new “21st Century Socialism” as advocated by Chávez, implying that there was no need to battle with that “old hat” Marxism.

None of the movements, including Chávez’ in Venezuela, has put the need for the working class to take power, and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat at the top of the agenda, and in fact have continued to foster illusions in the “democratic” path, leaving much of the bourgeoisie intact; at one point Chávez explicitly declared he would step down if he “lost the vote” in the presidential re-election, a nonsensical promise to relinquish power in the teeth of the CIA and bourgeois coordinated sabotage, provoked violence, coup attempts and heavily manipulated, and a media twisted “democratic process” which uses massive funds, covert operations and manipulation and sophisticated advertising and other techniques to swamp the “popular” will.

And while all kinds of arguments can be made about how strong the movements in any of the countries were in being able to take power as such, it is a major weakness for the working class struggle not to raise and develop understanding in such questions, in other words to promote the development of revolutionary theory.

Worse still this non-revolutionary “Bolivarian Revolution” was heavily promoted by every revisionist influenced fake-“left” throughout the world as supposedly offering a new path forwards and an optimistic “example for all”, precisely because it lifted from them the need to argue for Leninist grasp and the uncomfortable (for the petty bourgeoisie) realities of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It has set back the struggle for theory and revolution for nearly two decades in that sense.

Nor did any of the Bolivarian movement develop any kind of deep grasp in the working class of the oncoming monopoly capitalist crisis, - a particular tragedy as imperialism uses its credit and finance system to force the crisis outwards, (via swamping the world with valueless QE Mickey Mouse dollars etc) creating economic devastation in the weaker countries, with all Latin America especially facing major difficulties.

Imperialism has immediately used the turmoil and discontent to stir up as much mayhem and manipulated populist “revolt” as possible, combined with a string of suspiciously similar “judicial coups” and hyped-up allegations of “corruption” to topple or challenge “left” reformism, impeaching or outvoting incumbent ”left” orientated regimes from Argentina to Brazil and Bolivia.

These setbacks to the reforms for the working class, cuts and austerity would be much better coped with by a working class in all these countries if it was prepared for the crisis, with a leadership that had made these issues the centre of understanding and educated the working class in the struggle against imperialism and local bourgeois.

The “failure” of these countries is another black mark against revisionism and the fake-“left” everywhere; the need for Leninist politics underlined yet further. Havana is entangled with all this.

Havana’s revisionist influence has also had a telling effect on the FARC which has pursued a determined and heroic armed struggle in Colombia for 50 years, a continuing problem for US imperialism.

Against the lessons of his own history, which proved the need for the overthrow of the capitalist regime, Fidel Castro and Havana have declaimed against FARC’s armed struggle, partly on “moral grounds” in the way that it has fought, condemning it for using kidnapping for example, and now declaring that “the peaceful path is a better way to struggle”.

There might be all kinds of reasons for a pause or breathing space in the struggle using a truce with the bourgeois government. But leading the FARC into accepting a “peace agreement” with the bourgeois government regime, - still running a society in which paramilitary death squads continue to operate and intimidate trade unions and brutally vicious exploitation continues, - under the perspective that it can pursue its struggle for the proletariat solely by peaceful “democratic” means is hopeless - abandoning the very basics of Leninist understanding.

Equally problematical are the moral “condemnations” by Havana against “all kinds of terrorism” - does this include the struggle of the Palestinians? The anti-Cairo dictatorship movement in the Sinai, the Somali Al-Shabaab fighting Kenyan and other Western stoogery???

Does it include Fidel’s own 1950s armed movement which would also be “terrorism” by modern definitions?

Brains need clearing out - there is a major need for clear science in the world.

Build Leninism.

Steven Tudy


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