No 1550 6th February 2019
Trumpism’s fascist Venezuela coup stunt around snivelling Quisling Juan Guaidó exposes not just the heap of steaming dung promulgated by Western media and the political mainstream and their lying fraud of “democracy”, but the dire failings of the fake-“left” all shades. From revisionism’s peaceful parliamentary progress delusions to eulogies for Chávez’ and his anti-theory Trot sponsored “21st century socialism”, across the board they have held back crucial revolutionary understanding of the need for proletarian dictatorship as the core question for ending capitalism and establishing the vital planned socialist future. Without it the Bolivarian “revolution” is nothing but reformism, open to endless CIA skulduggery, sabotage and violence as events are tragically demonstrating. Let Caracas fight but let it fight by a turn to firm Leninist theory to avoid becoming another sadly necessary historical lesson in clearing away the bureaucratic dead wood complacency of Stalin-engendered revisionism, as was liquidation of the USSR. Rebuild Leninism
Venezuela’s warning to Washington of a “new Vietnam” if troops are sent to bolster the fascist “constitutional” coup attempt, is a good sign that lessons have been learned from past imperialist atrocities and counter-revolution in Latin America but falls far short of the revolutionary understanding needed by the masses, there and everywhere else.
Nicolás Maduro’s left reformist government may hold together against outside intervention to back the CIA’s Quisling wretch Juan Guaidó, and any defeat inflicted on the increasingly crude warmongering and aggression of the ever more openly Nazi US bourgeois domination of the planet will be a useful gain for revolutionary development throughout the world.
Let the murdering barbarians in Washington deal with a flow of body-bags from Venezuela, to shatter their morale, just as their onslaughts in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and other brutal interventions were bogged down in military quagmire and anti-occupation resistance (shamefully “condemned” by fake-“left” capitulations as “unacceptable terrorism” or “headbanging jihadism” – helping capitalist propaganda and warmaking) and as the legacy of the deep historic defeat from the Vietnam war permanently and rightly still undermines their “might is right” butchering arrogance.
Or let bitter, armed resistance, defeat and shatter the brittle counter-revolutionary Nazi stoogery fragilely re-installed in Brazil, and maintained in Colombia if those are mobilised instead for use in an invasion.
None of those have any resilience whatsoever, all equally undermined by the world crisis.
But far beyond Caracas’s arming of two million workers with guns and militia training, as reported, the crucial weapon needed by the masses in Venezuela is revolutionary Leninist theory.
It was this that was the missing ingredient in the infamous bloodsoaked overthrow of the revisionist Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, in the slaughter of nearly 3 million communists and supporters in Indonesia in 1965, and in dozens of interventions, coups and counter-revolutions since, from the CIA organised Maidan “colour revolution” in Ukraine to the overturn of the Arab Spring’s newly “granted” democratic presidency by a street slaughtering military coup in Egypt in 2013 (funded shortly thereafter by the US).
And it is this confusion which has let US imperialism get away with a cascade of “legal” or “constitutional” coups across Latin America, toppling the revisionist misnamed “Bolivarian Revolution” in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, bribing reaction back into the presidential palace in Ecuador and even seeing backing for the outright illegal and violent Honduras coup in 2009 from the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton White House, leaving a restored hellhole of poverty, death-squads and drug cartel gang warfare.
Where it has not yet succeeded there has been disruption and provocateur bloody violence, as in Nicaragua and Venezuela itself.
Latin American “left” progress in the past two decades has never been a revolution in the full Marxist sense, of class war takeover of capitalist property under working class control to allow the building of planned socialism.
None of the “advances” ever went beyond reformist measures, leaving the bourgeoisie intact, still in charge of its property and able to constantly plot and subvert all attempts to make any progress for the working class and the poor, the same problem now facing Venezuela.
All were therefore vulnerable to non-stop skulduggery, corruption, and counter-revolution.
Anti-Yanquee left nationalism in Caracas may well be starting point yet for the masses’ resistance but the still persisting confused or opportunist emphasis on “democracy” is a major flaw, particularly in a bourgeois world where chicanery, bribery, and outright media lie campaigns will always bend and twist results to head off any such “legal victory” favouring the working class.
Playing the bourgeois “democracy” game (except as a platform to argue revolution) simply helps the Goebbels propaganda racket by accepting that the rules mean something, will be “fairly observed” or have any kind of validity at all, allowing the imperialists to pretend some “legality” for their bullying suppression as the anti-Madura campaign is doing currently.
So they get away with twisting public opinion despite one of the crudest imperialist interventions yet, on a par with the stoogery set up by the Nazis in World War Two Germany wherever they invaded.
The name of Vitkun Quisling was forever branded on such fascist trickery when Norway was taken over in World War Two and now so too will be the name of the snivelling little rat Guaidó, string-pulled for years by Langley’s CIA and particularly during pre-Christmas trips to Washington for coaching and coordination of the self-declaration as “president” stunt.
His instant backing (within minutes) by “international recognition” and further economic strangulation for Maduro just confirms the hollowness of this bullying conspiracy as a US coordinated coterie was lined up of the most disgusting reactionary thug regimes on the planet – from the Nazi Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil and similar deathsquad villains like Iván Duque in Colombia heading a clutch of Latin American US stooges, to the increasingly reactionary major powers like Britain, France and Germany, all heading for jingoism and chauvinist nationalism themselves as world crisis bites deeper.
For as long as such “left nationalism” as Venezuela’s remains tied to the disastrous illusion that the world can be changed and socialism be achieved through the ballot box, while capitalism continues to control and command the main part of the economy, it will mislead the working class and leave it vulnerable to the skulduggery, sabotage plotting and disruption of imperialism.
The best answer would be to arrest this Guaidó provocation for the treasonous counter-revolution it is.
It may happen, but then the full strength of the working class will have to be mobilised, motivated by the struggle to complete the socialist revolution, seizing all the resources and means of production that have been left in the hands of the bourgeoisie, firmly and clearly establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat and suppressing the bourgeois resistance.
And if it is argued that this would be a “provocation” to imperialism at a very dangerous moment - well could it get much more dangerous anyway???
Declaring – and proving – that the “best democratic mechanisms prevail in the country” has not held back Washington from a pattern of siege, strangulation, and bullying threat.
Just the opposite, it has helped it get away with the lying pretence of “upholding the rights of an oppressed people” and the other ultra-lies poured out by the demented media campaigns in country after country, to back an outright coup attempt by the reactionary middle class minority and the bourgeois remnants in the country.
Every lesson from the past of the US coup violence is that it will use the most brutal and murderous terrorising methods of torture and massacre to both impose its will and wreak gruesome vengeance if it gets half a chance or not even that.
Bloodcurdling warnings have already been given with the appointment, by Trumpite reactionary Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of Elliot Abrams as a so-called “special envoy for Venezuela”, a figure up to his neck in the butchery and slaughter of hundreds of thousands imposed by the US in the late twentieth century on Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and Nicaragua, and other brutally suppressed countries, via the stream of fascist thugs it trained at Fort Benning in the then School of the Americas “counterinsurgency anti-communism” facility, infamous for its deliberate terrorising torture and atrocity killing depravity.
Building a perspective of the relentlessly deepening world capitalist crisis, seeing and grasping the weakness and division it is causing in the great powers, as the great trade war conflicts head for all out war, can better unite the working class and poorer peasantry and give it the best shot at resisting and potentially defeating this latest nazi Quisling stunt.
More than ever the working class needs to be clarified about the unstoppable brutal war destruction which capitalism needs and is heading for to escape its world wide crisis economic failure.
In other words a return to Leninism is crucial.
Only an understanding of the world shattering and irreversible economic collapse of capitalism can help the more wavering elements in the masses grasp the difficulties facing an economy like Venezuela, over-reliant on oil revenues and therefore hammered by the collapse of the world oil price which universal capitalist “overproduction crisis” has led to, and which imperialism has relentlessly compounded by its deliberate further manipulation of the oil price (leaning on reactionary Saudi Arabia to swamp the remaining market with an excess), by its vicious “sanctions” including withholding and delaying oil payments and numerous other “confiscations” and trade blockages of medicines etc, and now the outright theft by the Bank of England of $1.3bn worth of gold reserves which it is refusing to hand over (grovelling to US imperialist diktat).
It is capitalism which has “mismanaged” the entire world economy into the great meltdown of 2008’s global banking failure and the oncoming Mother of all Crash implosions, caused by the very nature of the profit system and its intractable contradictions (as Marx analysed over thirty years in Capital – see economics box and the Communist Manifesto).
For the moment the US’ superior finance power and brute force intimidation has succeeded in forcing the worst effects onto its rivals, especially China and Russia, and particularly directing the impact onto “rogue” and “upstart” states which resist its diktat such as Venezuela and Iran.
But the whole system is ready to lurch back into Slump Catastrophe at any moment when its post-2008 temporary QE credit patch-up finally gives way, as it must, potentially with the complete collapse of the international trading dollar.
The bullying repression of the likes of Venezuela will be no solution to this historic Catastrophe.
The deepening “austerity” already imposed everywhere – including in the richest of countries – will be utterly outstripped by the chaos to come, as the nightmare of 2008’s just-averted world “financial nuclear winter” (as Alistair Darling called it) returns, and this time without any of the interest reductions, money printing and other technical tricks available to stave off the worst of the disaster (which has only been done for the rich anyway and that for a very short time).
So, as the fake-“lefts” love to posture, the Venezuela fight is everyone’s fight – but not out of “solidarity” work carried out in a high-handed manner by fake-“left”s in the imperialist countries, still complacently believing they live in a different world and one-sidedly handing out some kind of do-gooding political charity, but because the gigantic crisis collapse driving this latest aggression is worldwide.
Not just Venezuela but the entire planet is threatened once more with vicious slump poverty and gobsmacking inequality, alongside disasters like global warming and ecological failure, species extinction and choking pollution, all culminating in World War Three.
Half a dozen countries in the Middle East have already been blitzed and butchered into the ground over two decades, directly by imperialist invasion or indirectly through Western provoked civil war and inflamed sectarian conflict, all fed by a non-stop diet of Big Lies and intelligence-agency coordinated media distortion and “anti-terrorist” campaigns that make Joseph Goebbels’ WW2 Nazi propaganda machine look as primitive as the radios and media hardware then in use.
The vicious farce of the Washington-run “constitutional” coup against Venezuela’s left reformist government is part of a pattern of sabotage and counter-revolution underway across the world from east Europe to Indonesia, which will continue and degenerate ever further into all out war until the fascist degeneracy of the capitalist order is finally brought to an end.
Presaging the even greater conflicts to come are the grotesque lies and “legal” aggression against China via its Huawei corporation arrests and vicious trade sanctions; constant diversionary demonising of Russia as supposedly “manipulating the world” (as if the West was some squeaky clean innocent barely able to switch on a computer instead of the heart of NSA/GCHQ/Facebook/Analytica world surveillance and Internet machination); constant tradewar threats against Europe and others; and even the British “Brexit” attempts to bully Ireland into reversing the Good Friday Agreement, all signalling the slide towards belligerent jingoism and war that is capitalism’s only “answer” to its crisis.
The only possible answer to that profit system degeneration, as all-out cutthroat trade war slides inexorably into outright world war (for which Washington is now preparing renewed threats of nuclear devastation as all pretences of “missile treaties” and “mutual restraint” are torn up) is class war revolt to end this system completely.
And while a thousand questions have to be sorted out and understood about the philosophical leadership difficulties which led to the unnecessary liquidation of the gigantic 73 year long socialist achievement of the Soviet Union, the need for the working class to establish workers states, along communist lines, meaning the dictatorship authority of the working class, is already the central issue.
But Venezuela makes clear that the fight for Leninist understanding will not be carried through by the “50 shades of red” in the fake-“left” whether they are “left” Labourite, anarchist, Trotskyist or revisionists and museum-Stalinists.
Plenty of these groups can point to the dirty dealings of imperialism, and produce detailed accounts of the vicious preparations underway, decrying the astonishing black-is-white media deluge.
Plenty can advocate a “fairer world” and the need for socialism.
But their “Hands off”, “Stop Trump” and “No blood for oil” slogan chanting, outraged moralising about a “trampling of democracy” and calls for “solidarity” are not only totally ineffectual as a means of getting there but part of the problem.
The pretence that social-pacifist calls to “stop intervening” can remotely begin to do something to deliver help and aid to the benighted Venezuelan masses threatened with invasion and certain barbarically vengeful bloodletting and torture is a sick joke.
And to supplement it with calls to “elect a Corbyn government” as the reactionary trade unions, Momentum-ites and most of the entryist Trot groups do, (supposedly as the means to oppose the imperialist actions) is even sicker, continuing to hoodwink and mislead the working class everywhere by pretending there is a solution to the slump problems through parliament and “left”-reformism.
Labour has only ever run imperialism for the bourgeoisie, its “left” Attlee government even helping set up the imperialist anti-communist NATO military alliance which has recently coopted Colombia into its ranks (despite it being thousands of miles from the “North Atlantic”).
What an utter fraud are all these class-collaborating opportunists, perpetuating illusions in reformism, democratic paths and step-by-step “left” pressure just when reality is proving the exact opposite – that imperialism will always trample all over such pretences when it has to, and with utmost violence if it can get away with it.
In every country which the ruling class deems to be acting against capitalist interests, or even not sufficiently kowtowing, it is now routine now for a deluge of accusations to be poured out by the great Western media machine in the run up to elections, setting a tone for the local stooge reaction to then “challenge” the results and declare them “fixed” (as sure as night follows day) and if possible to provoke violence and turmoil, like that set going in Libya and Syria to head off the Arab Spring, with local embedded stooges to hold up a few “freedom” placards and the aid of undercover snipers and provocateurs to create civil war mayhem.
So it is in Zimbabwe currently against the revolutionary nationalist ZANU, hated by British imperialism for its dogged anti-colonialism and white farm takeovers, and so it is in the mineral rich Congo against the new pro-Kabila president Felix Tshisekedi, elected last month, where the Western press simply ignored the outcome and declared it “invalid” because “Catholic Church observers said so” ludicrously declaring that their candidate Martin Fayulu “won by a landslide” (i.e would have been willing to let Western mining corporations return to their past uncontrolled plundering).
That would be the Catholic Church which backed Hitler, the Croatian Ustashe (in WW2 and again in the run-up to the NATO blitzing of Serbia), and financed with hundreds of millions of illicit dollars, Poland’s bogus “trade union” Solidarnosc counter-revolution (beloved of the Trotskyists) which reinstalled overt reactionary capitalism in Warsaw, now in the forefront of eastern Europe’s fascist jingoism.
The same suspicions prevail over the turmoil against the Islamic regime in Sudan, forced like many others to impose austerity by the world crisis and sanctions. However “genuine” the upheavals, their willingness to call for “democracy” and the help of the “international community”, and the absence of any left or revolutionary calls places them alongside the obvious petty bourgeois reactionary stunts of the “Movement for Democratic Change” in Zimbabwe, and the Congo stoogery.
If all this chicanery and manipulation fails to topple anti-imperialist movements, monopoly capitalism will always tear up all such democracy pretences anyway (where it can), however clean and transparent it is possible to prove the voting outcome and however verified by “international observers” - as was the case in Venezuela.
As Lenin’s Bolsheviks long ago explained (see quotes at the end), such “democratic sovereignty” is the greatest fraud ever, covering over the dictatorship of the bourgeois whose big money class interests make all the important decisions, through a thousand behind the scenes networks, financial links, clubs and establishment connections.
The sham pretence of “progress through parliament” has been sustained since by a century of anti-communist reformism (bourgeois Labour/TUC class collaboration in Britain) and revisionist brain rot, but it has increasingly become a worked out seam as rightful working class distrust and contempt for bourgeois parliament has grown and the crisis tears up all the reformist “gains” anyway.
As the crisis deepens the desperate ruling class is willing to tear up even the remaining parliamentary pretence anywhere if it interferes with imposing its “might is right” bullying. Coups will threaten everywhere including Britain.
A Marxist revolutionary perspective would see that this reveals even more starkly the crisis weakness of imperialism, abandoning its most useful trick, the sophisticated pretences that have kept the “democracy racket” going .
This latest conspiracy is more obvious than ever and will also expose the bourgeois media lies more sharply, however much temporary success it has twisting public opinion.
It does not take more than two brain cells to compare and contrast the pretence of “concern for the hard pressed people of Venezuela facing hunger and starvation” because of alleged “repression and corruption” to the “international community’s” (meaning world imperialism) non-response to the three year Yemen war, where not simply starvation but gruesome famine is killing hundreds of children every week and imminently threatening over 12 million civilians - on top of tens of thousands already killed, maimed, and made homeless by years of non-stop high tech blitzkrieg (to suppress their wish for democracy effectively).
And it does not take an instant to see the grotesque support and backing given to the perpetrators, the Saudi Arabian regime of astoundingly primitive tribal/feudal backwardness which has not only never seen a smidgeon of “democracy” or “human rights”, but is one of the most corrupt and hypocritically degenerate ruling regimes on the planet, its royal princes up to their necks in bribes, drugs, drink and degeneracy while pretending to uphold the “sacred guardianship of Islam’s holy centres”, and now revealed to be no better than outright mafia gangsterism with the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, dismembered while still alive, like some scene from a Hollywood horror – but real.
And then there is this (still mild compared to the beheadings, sometime fatal thousand stroke floggings and even crucifixions, imposed routinely in Saudi prisons):
Saudi Arabia is detaining female activists in cruel and inhumane conditions that meet the threshold of torture under both international and Saudi law, a cross-party panel of three British MPs has found.
The conclusions indicate growing unease among western allies over alleged rights abuses under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, who is already facing opprobrium over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.
The ad hoc panel had sought access to eight jailed women to assess their welfare, but received no response from the Saudi ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz.
The panel includes Crispin Blunt, the former Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee and one of the staunchest defenders of the Gulf monarchies. It was thought his background might lead to cooperation from the kingdom, which protects its justice system from scrutiny.
The panel’s report concludes that the detainees – female activists arrested last spring – had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, including sleep deprivation, assault, threats to life and solitary confinement. Their treatment is likely to amount to torture and if they are not provided with urgent access to medical assistance they are at risk of developing long-term health conditions, the report says.
Culpability rests not only with direct perpetrators but also those who are responsible for or acquiesce to it, it says. “The Saudi authorities at the highest levels could, in principle, be responsible for the crime of torture.”
The “concerned and righteously outraged” West is not going to prepare troops to invade and overturn the Riyadh regime and install a “legitimate democracy”.
No, they are going to send more military “advisers” (on top of those already there) to help it keep on butchering the Yemeni masses, on top of the imperialist destruction imposed by 17 years of the “war on terror” pretences, destroying half the Middle East.
And they are going to send the weapons and arms to do it (for a nice profit too).
Another two brain cells (for the more intelligent petty bourgeois elements) can draw similar obvious conclusions from the non-stop genocidal butchery and repression of the Palestinians, gunned down currently week after week with deliberately maiming or killing bullets, for protesting the inhuman siege conditions they are kept in, in the Gaza strip, essentially a concentration camp for two million of these indigenous people whose land was stolen from them by gangster terrorising butchery and war 70 years ago.
Where is their “democracy”??
Is their constant deprivation, siege suppression, slave exploitation and endless repeated horrifying genocidal massacring by the Zionists on a routine basis, to be the subject of non-stop articles and picture spreads in the bourgeois press, and breathless “secret” reports on television backing up endless denunciations by the Western politicians and ruthless browbeating interviews of Zionist generals, politicians and the Western Jewish “lobby” (freemasonry) which supports them, by the “intrepid” journalists of Channel 4 News, Radio 4’s Today programme and the “liberal” Guardian, ????
Is it hell.
Is the total contempt exhibited by the Nazi-Zionist landtheft occupation of another people’s country for decades of UN resolutions declaring the illegality of its occupations to be the basis for US-led world “action”???
No, the most reactionary attack dog regime in the world is to continue receiving the massive imperialist funds and subventions that alone have kept its “miracle economy” afloat for the last seventy years, endless support from the Western political establishment and the vicious nonsense of the CIA/Zionist campaign to label any criticism at all of this monstrosity, squatting in the centre of the Middle East to keep it suppressed and permanently cowed for imperialism, as “anti-semitism”.
Or ask how come the Thai military is still running that country for the reactionary monarchy in Bangkok, six years after a bloody coup shot down dozens of civilian redshirt “democracy” demonstrators, during which time and since barely a murmur has been heard from the West and its “concerned” democratic politicians, TV and press??????
How come of course being answered by the class reality of capitalist rule which only uses democracy as a tool for its continued world domination and ruthless exploitation.
But still left opportunism and the dull-brained illusions of Third International tainted revisionism in “peaceful roads” and “democratic paths” (still unfortunately pumped out by the otherwise heroically determined Havana leadership) leaves the masses vulnerable, even as the biggest lesson of all has to be made. To quote from the EPSR 15 years ago (No1167 14-01-03):
But where do the SLP and the fake-‘lefts’ direct workers’ attention...To the bourgeois electoral process, to repeat Lula’s 20-year compromise journey of dropping all his racier fake-‘“left’ demagoguery in order finally to claim the presidential suit.
Lula may indeed become a thorn in imperialism’s side, as Chávez is proving in Venezuela, and as Allende proved earlier in Chile.
But what will all the relentless COUNTER-revolutionary pressure on such elected ‘lefts’ eventually solely prove???? Any half-wit already knows the answer: That to get anywhere with all these ‘left’ electoral promises, eventually a real REVOLUTION will have to be carried out as the only way to stop the bourgeois counter-revolution from endlessly preventing the work of government, making it impossible, and preparing a fascist COUP at the first opportunity, - as is happening right now non-stop in Venezuela, and as will soon be the everyday norm if Lula does try to introduce even a tiny fraction of his ‘left’ promises.
And without that total proletarian dictatorship REVOLUTION, all such ‘left’ electoral successes, everywhere, - will always only end up like the Allende government did, - butchered in a CIA-run coup, and tens of thousands of deluded workers as well, alongside the ‘left’ “democratic” government they so believed in.
The time to explain all this to the working class, and to warn about the struggles to come, is NOW, - “before it starts”, to coin a phrase.
In other words it was clear right at the beginning that the “Bolivarian revolution” would face exactly the turmoil and fascist counter-revolution now being witnessed.
But the fake-“left” has not only avoided the argument throughout that period, at huge cost to the working class in failed opportunities and vital clarity for the build up of defensive capacity, but has suppressed the discussion, shutting down and hostilely blocking the EPSR in solidarity meetings for example, while getting on with the same old posturing pretences, gushing “support” and reformist misleadership.
Instead of warning the working class of the greatest disaster in history bearing down like a runaway locomotive, the fake-“left” continues to flounder and prevaricate, endlessly tying workers back to hopeless parliamentary notions and reviving the notions of changing the world by “left pressure”, “democracy” and social-pacifist demands for “No more war”.
King Cnut lived in vain.
Not only has the vital polemic and debate needed to rebuild revolutionary understanding been left unanswered or deliberately blocked but the lessons are still not being made now.
Just the opposite, in the latest emergency rallies and pickets and other posing by the opportunists, speakers and leaders of all the fake-“left” groups on this new urgent threat are still covering up their role in not only failing to develop revolutionary theory but in pumping out all the petty bourgeois confusions of Stalinist revisionism and the bilious anti-communism of the Trotskyists.
So it is that they continue to eulogise Hugo Chávez, instead of taking up the valid criticism of the “Bolivarian revolution” that needed to be made from the start, (and which was underlined by the 2002 coup attempt) and particularly in challenging the philistine rejection of Marxism-Leninism made a mantra by Chávez in his talk of “21st century socialism” with its implication that the old “20th century” socialism was no longer valid, or was “out of date” – and that a “new way” was possible, having at its core the insistence on pursuing the “democratic route” and rejecting the talk of “dictatorship of the proletariat”.
“We have no right to tell the Venezuelan people what to do” the opportunist “left” declare as one, to justify their evasions and censorship, a moralising pomposity which is not only unscientific, but completely hypocritical, since they constantly do just that, in criticism and condemnation of “anarchist violence” for example, or of the 9/11 World Trade Centre guerrilla war attacks, or of the jihadism and terrorism which has erupted non-stop in the Third World as the masses in many countries try to find a way to fight against the tyranny and oppression of imperialism, including bringing their hatred into the heart of the rich exploiting nations.
Marxism does not necessarily advocate or support any of the methods or actions of Islamist and other anarchic and confused upheavals, and especially does not adopt or go along with backward or religious ideologies, but it is very clear in saying that all those drawn into this great ferment of anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist struggle have every right to take up the fight as they see fit – the question always is what class forces are in movement, and how are different upheavals to be identified as what class forces – the middle class demonstrations in Caracas for example being clearly reactionary and counterrevolutionary.
It is a further hypocrisy anyway around Venezuela itself, where all the fake-“left” groups have constantly opined on how they think the struggle should go, and leading figures like the mountebank Trotskyist Tariq Ali, or Labourite Ken Livingstone, constantly boast about their “close links” with Chávez when he was alive (for “left” guru credibility), and of “personal conversations” in which they pumped him full of their poisonous anti-Marxist views.
In the other direction, the Venezuelan “solidarity-ites” (and many similar single-issue groups like the Cuban Solidarity, or the Palestinian Solidarity) have constantly given the British labour movement great dollops of “advice” about the way to struggle, declaring that the working class should be paying attention to the “great progress” being made by the Bolivarians and “learning lessons” from their “strides forwards”.
What a calamitous confusion that has caused!
A parallel argument is that “now is not the time to have these arguments and we must just support the hard pressed Venezuelans/Brazilians/strikers etc etc”.
But it is precisely now that the greatest clarity is required and the greatest open discussion and polemic is needed to sort out – as far as can be done – the grasp and understanding of rapidly unfolding world crisis developments.
Far from “undermining” solidarity it is only by hugely increasing the fight for theory everywhere by open but disciplined polemical discussion, and overcoming the long decades of confusion and revisionist retreat, that workers anywhere are finally going to be able build the revolutionary leadership and understanding that can win the class war against this degenerate and out-of-time capitalist order.
Philosophically speaking Marxism is a science of the international class struggle, and not only has the “right” to analyse the balance of class forces in the world, and the right to battle for the clearest scientific view with all of the masses everywhere for understanding, but the complete duty to do so, setting out a complete international picture as best can be understood.
Read 50 volumes of Lenin and see if the Bolsheviks ever held back from commentary on the entire world - or look at the original Third International conditions for communist parties to see if they “told other people what to do”.
The greatest battle of all is precisely constantly developing the world perspective, possible only in endless dialectical interchange with the working class, through its most advanced elements. Again past EPSR understanding (No1007 27-07-99 and other issues):
But sorting out exactly where Stalinist Revisionism went wrong, on one side, and where Trotskyite opportunist idealism went just as sadly wrong on the other side, is exactly what the whole of the fake-‘left’ WILL NOT DO but is exactly what must be exhaustively thrashed out in the coming period of great debate.
It is plain insanity for any ‘lefts’ to be throwing themselves excitedly into this or that ‘great socialist development’ (supposedly) when workers, still living in a world of total brain-washing anti-communist propaganda, are left clueless as to what they are supposed to make of the workers states that already have existed in the 20th century.
With non-stop anti-Soviet lies still pouring out 24 hours a day, some middle-class ‘socialist’ philosophy has so capitulated to this counter-revolutionary brainwashing tyranny that it advocates party-building on a deliberately ‘multanimous’ basis, — i.e. do without any agreed working-class view of the workers states at all.
This hopeless cowardly despair is, of course a typical petty bourgeois retreat from the difficulty of ferocious anti-communism and, equally obviously, leaves the field clear for the most reactionary bourgeois prejudices to prevail against the epoch-making achievements in the USSR, China, Cuba, etc.
The SLP nearly paralysed itself by pretending to simply ignore such ‘dead theory’ and paid the price in party-splitting conflict between incompatible Trot and Revisionist attitudes which brought some development to a standstill in some regions, in the women’s section, and even at NEC level, and which helped keep the party newspaper uselessly devoid of any serious leadership on difficult political questions by either ducking the issue, or a bit of facing-both-ways, or a complete down on all polemics.
Bizarrely, only the EPSR’s voice was silenced inside the SLP for supposedly stoking ‘internecine strife’ when it was precisely advocating the only way forward from unresolved contradictions, holding up party development, by the only means possible, — — namely via a much more detailed further elaboration of SLP philosophy to begin developing a firm attitude to fundamental historical questions, — on the imperialist crisis; on the role of theory; on how to build a party around purposeful discussion and conflict and how to train a mass leadership in that way; on the practical achievements of all 20th century workers-states experience, and their Revisionist weakening; etc, etc, etc.
One of the most unfortunate Stalinist legacies from the Third International in this matter is the line, variously expressed, that “now is not the time for discussion; now is the time to be out there doing something”; or “the ruling-class will be laughing at seeing our party and the left torn by debate”; or “just keep your head down for now, and discuss all this later when there is an opportunity”; etc, etc, — — all the more insidious for being so plausibly well-meaning.
But it is the absolute essence of the WHOLE REVISIONIST DISASTER which eventually befell the Soviet workers state; and it is not ‘well-meaning’ at all, of course, in the sense that it is so subjectively WRONG that it amounts to party-disruption by ignorance from purely cosy conservative motives utterly at odds with the really revolutionary spirit of Marxism which grasps unity AND conflict in all things as the only basis for all progress.
That “revisionist disaster” continues to be a critical issue around Venezuela too, via the Third International trained influence of Havana, which for all its own heroic record, demonstrating how to build a workers state (firm proletarian dictatorship) in practice against even greater hostility and strangulating economic blockade than Venezuela has faced, has given the wrong advice and understanding to the entire Bolivarian movement.
Huge material aid has been poured into Venezuela and particularly brilliant medical and educational help for the masses, at great cost for a small nation with its own enormous economic difficulties, demonstrating astoundingly selfless international solidarity in practice, and how a workers state can develop the capacity to make such contributions via its planned economy under the harshest of conditions.
But this only makes the philosophical impact of its advice the more damaging, coming from a trusted and in many ways rightly revered authority.
And that advice has failed to insist on the development of Leninist grasp of the state, and the need for a complete overturn of bourgeois rule, as the only possible way to safeguard and develop working class struggle.
And like all revisionist practice, it has not taken up or encouraged the polemic, which as described above, is the great mechanism by which errors and difficulties can be hammered out, and clarity be established on agreed basics.
A particularly devastating effect of Havana’s advice has been the pressure it has put on the Colombian FARC revolutionary movement to abandon the armed struggle, criticising it on “moral” grounds for using the “wrong methods of struggle” and insisting that there is a path forwards to socialism achievable by peaceful means.
It is the same mistaken perspective that led the Chilean working class up the garden path onto the military coup guns of General Augusto Pinochet and which continues to revere Salvador Allende as a hero instead of criticising his disastrous peaceful parliamentary road which disarmed the working class and led to thousands of deaths.
While there may be all kinds of discussions to be had with the FARC about its understanding, this same strategy in Colombia has seen a stream of assassinations and deathsquad killings since the group agreed to lay down its guns.
That in turn has freed reactionary state forces to be sent close to the Venezuelan border, part of the imperialist bullying and pressure now being imposed.
A further problem from Havana’s advice lies in its general moralising condemnation of all “terrorism”, usually aimed at imperialist terrorising and especially attacks on Cuba, but embracing a denunciation of all “terror” methods as “to be condemned”.
Sadly this lines up Havana’s revisionism with the capitulations of the fake-“left” on the terrorism issue, playing into imperialism’s hands in mobilising public opinion behind the “war on terror” as a cover and justification for its slump blitzkrieging, which is driven by and is solely the responsibility of capitalist crisis.
But it also reveals further confusion.
The wave of “terrorism” and anti-occupation struggles in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Somalia, is a large part of the turmoil which kept Washington pinned down for over a decade since the turn of the century.
That in turn gave a breathing space to the “left” movement in Latin America, reinforcing the illusion that it was making headway and further disarming revolutionary understanding.
“Condemning” terrorism instead of understanding it as the early inchoate expression of a huge wave of anti-imperialist struggle (for all its confusions and the dirty dealing Western manipulation of some elements – though by no means all – into sectarian conflicts and against imperialist targets like the Syrian regime) indirectly has aided imperialism, which in turn has given it more resources to concentrate on South America.
Taking up weaknesses in Havana’s advice has nothing to do with attacking Cuba.
Just the opposite, Marxists first of all declare unconditional solidarity with all the workers states (China, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea).
But precisely the need to get the world understanding correct means that the best support possible is in polemicising on questions where there are mistakes and flaws.
The same applies in all workers' struggles.
The EPSR has battled as best it can for revolutionary perspectives, which are vital for the masses in Venezuela, and even more so for Cuba itself.
It is the gigantic achievements of communism in Cuba which are the ultimate target for the counter-revolution now being mounted - the clearer the masses are in both countries, throughout Latin America and throughout the world, the better the real solidarity against imperialist fascist onslaught can be built.
That can only be done by building the revolutionary party and reestablishing Leninist understanding.
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(apologies - remaining part of the discussion on the April Theses is held over until next issue)
What has lately happened, in Germany, the brutal and treacherous murder of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, is not merely the most dramatic and tragic event in the revolution beginning in Germany. It is something more. It sheds an extraordinarily vivid light on the way the problems of the present-day struggle are presented by the various trends of political thought and in the various theoretical systems of today. It was from Germany that we heard most talk, for example, on the celebrated subject of democracy, on the slogan of democracy in general, and on the slogan that the working class must be independent of government. These slogans may at first glance seem to be unconnected, but they are actually very closely connected. They are closely connected because they show how strong petty-bourgeois prejudices are to this day, despite the proletariat’s immense experience of the class struggle; how to this day often lip service is paid to the class struggle which is not recognised by the minds or hearts of those who talk about it. Indeed, if we recall even the rudiments of political economy as we learnt it from Marx’s Capital, that theory of the class struggle by which we all firmly stand, how can there be any talk of democracy in general or independence when the struggle has grown as acute and far-flung as it is today, when it is clear that the socialist revolution is facing the whole world, and when this has been palpably demonstrated in the most democratic countries? Whoever thinks there can shows that, as far as the theory of political economy is concerned, he has not understood a single page of Marx’s Capital, by which all socialists without exception now swear.
But, as a matter of fact, although they swear by this work, now that they are on the verge of that cardinal struggle to which Marx’s Capital led, they retreat from this class struggle and imagine there can be an extra-class or above-class democracy. They imagine that in modern society, while the capitalists still retain their property, there can be a democracy other than bourgeois democracy, that is, other than a bourgeois dictatorship masked by false and hypocritical democratic labels. It was from this very Germany that we recently heard voices saying that over there the dictatorship of the proletariat, possibly, in fact most probably, would not transcend the bounds of democracy, that there democracy would remain. It was there that people who claim to be teachers of Marxism, people who from 1889 to 1914 were the ideologists of the entire Second International, people like Kautsky, unfurled the banner of democracy and failed to understand that as long as property remains in the hands of the capitalists, democracy is nothing but a thoroughly hypocritical cover for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. They failed to understand that there cannot be any serious question of the emancipation of labour from capital as long as this hypocritical cover is not torn away. Not as long as we do not put the question as Marx always taught us to put it, and as we have been taught to put it by the proletariat’s day-to-day struggle, by every strike and by every acute turn in the trade union struggle— namely, that while property remains in the hands of the capitalists, all democracy will be nothing but a hypocritical cover for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. All talk about universal suffrage, about the popular will and about equality at the polls will be a sheer fraud, for there can be no equality between the exploiter and the exploited, between the owner of capital and property and the modern wage-slave.
Of course, compared with tsarism, absolutism, monarchy and all feudal survivals, bourgeois democracy historically denotes immense progress. Of course, we shall have to utilise it. And until the time comes for the struggle of the working class for full power, it is incumbent on us to make use of the forms of bourgeois democracy. But the fact is that we have now arrived at this decisive moment of the struggle internationally. For the issue now is whether the capitalists can maintain their power over the means of production and, above all, their ownership of the implements of production. And this means they are preparing for new wars. The imperialist war has quite clearly demonstrated how capitalist property is connected with that slaughter of the nations, how it led up to it irresistibly and inexorably. But that being so, all talk of democracy expressing the popular will is obviously sheer deception, nothing but the privilege of the capitalists and the rich to dupe the more backward sections of the working people both through their press, which remains in the hands of the property-owners, and by all other means of political influence.
There is and can be only one alternative: either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, disguised by constituent assemblies, all kinds of voting systems, democracy and similar bourgeois frauds that are used to blind fools, and that only people who have become utter renegades from Marxism and socialism all along the line can make play of today—or the dictatorship of the proletariat for suppressing with an iron hand the bourgeoisie, who are inciting the most backward elements against the finest leaders of the world proletariat. This dictatorship means the victory of the proletariat for the purpose of suppressing the bourgeoisie, who are now putting up a most desperate resistance, which gets all the more furious the more clearly the bourgeoisie perceive that it is the people that have raised this issue. And knowing this, what is the sense of all the references to democracy and all talk about “independence” and suchlike, which are constantly tending towards some classless position? We know that in capitalist society it is the bourgeoisie that rule, that capitalist society in fact arises from the bourgeoisie’s political and economic power. Either the power of the proletariat or dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, there is no middle course on issues of any seriousness for any length of time. And anyone who talks about independence, about democracy in general, consciously or unconsciously presupposes something intermediate, something standing between classes or above classes. In every case that is self-deception or deception of others. It serves to conceal the fact that as long as capitalist power remains, as long as the capitalists retain the ownership of the means of production, democracy may be broad or narrow, more or less civilised, and so on and so forth, but it actually remains dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and all the more obviously and palpably does civil war spurt from every big contradiction.
The nearer the French political forms are to democracy, the more easily something like the Dreyfus case causes civil war. The broader democracy is in America, with its proletariat, its internationalists, and even pure pacifists, the more easily cases of lynching and outbreaks of civil war arise. The meaning of this is even clearer now, when the first week of bourgeois freedom, of democracy, in Germany has led to a most frenzied outbreak of civil war, far more acute and far more desperate than in our country. And whoever judges these outbreaks from the point of view of whether proceedings were brought by parties, whoever judges them simply from the point of view of the murder of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, reveals blindness and intellectual cowardice, refusing to understand that these are outbreaks of an irresistible civil war, a war that springs irresistibly from all the contradictions of capitalism. There is not and cannot be any middle course. All talk of independence or democracy in general, no matter what sauce it may be served up with, is a sheer fraud and a downright betrayal of socialism. And if the theoretical propaganda of the Bolsheviks, who are now the virtual founders of the International, if the theoretical teaching of the Bolsheviks on civil war did not reach very far and was all too often halted by obstacles of censorship and the military barrages of the imperialist states, today it is no longer the teaching, no longer the theory, but the facts of civil war that are becoming all the more violent the older the democracy of the West-European states and the longer it has lasted. These facts will pierce even the hardest and most obtuse skulls. The people who talk about democracy in general, about independence, may now be called fossils.
And here the trade unions must take up an entirely new question in their state organisation work—the question of “governmentalising” the trade unions, as it is termed in the Communist group’s resolution. In this connection the trade unions must give very serious thought to the profound and famous words of the founders of modern communism to the effect that “the broader and deeper the revolution going on in society, the larger should be the number of people who make the revolution, who are its makers in the true sense of the word”.
The socialist revolution does not imply a change in the form of state, not the replacement of a monarchy by a republic, nor new elections in which people are assumed to be absolutely “equal” but which are actually nothing but an artificial obfuscation, a screen for the fact that some own property and others do not. From the point of view of bourgeois society, once there is “democracy”, and once capitalist and proletarian alike take part in the voting, this is the “popular will”, this is “equality” and an expression of the people’s will. We know what an abominable fraud this talk is, which only serves as a cover for butchers and murderers like Ebert and Scheidemann. In bourgeois society, the mass of the working people are governed by the bourgeoisie with the help of more or less democratic forms. They are governed by a minority, the property-owners, those who have a share in capitalist property and who have turned education and science, that supreme bulwark and flower of capitalist civilisation, into an instrument of exploitation, into a monopoly, in order to keep the overwhelming majority of the people in slavery. The revolution we have begun and have been making for two years, and which we are firmly determined to carry through to the end (applause), is possible and feasible only provided we manage to transfer power to the new class, provided the bourgeoisie, the capitalist slaveowners, the bourgeois intellectuals, the representatives of all the owners and property-holders are replaced by the new class in all spheres of government, in all state affairs, in the entire business of running the new life, from top to bottom. (Applause.)
That is the task before us now. The socialist revolution can only be lasting when this new class learns, not from books, not from meetings or lectures, but from the practical work of government. Only when it enlists the vast mass of working people for this work, when it elaborates forms which will enable all working people to adapt themselves easily to the work of governing the state and establishing law and order. Only on this condition is the socialist revolution bound to be lasting. Given this condition, it will constitute a force which will brush away capitalism and all its survivals as easily as straw or dust.
From the class standpoint, generally speaking, that is the task before us as a condition for the victory of the socialist revolution. It is a task closely and directly associated with the tasks of those organisations which even under capitalist society worked for the broadest possible mass struggle to destroy that society. And of the organisations that then existed, the trade unions were the broadest. And now, while formally remaining independent organisations, they can and should, as one of the passages in the resolution before you states, take an active part in the work of the Soviet government by directly working in all government bodies, by organising mass control over their activities, etc., and by setting up new bodies for the registration, control and regulation of all production and distribution, relying on the organised initiative of the broad mass of the interested working people themselves.
The trade unions have never embraced more than one-fifth of the wage-workers in capitalist society, even under the most favourable circumstances, even in the most advanced countries, after decades and sometimes even centuries of development of bourgeois-democratic civilisation and culture. Only a small upper section were members, and of them only a very few were lured over and bribed by the capitalists to take their place in capitalist society as workers’ leaders. The American socialists called these people “labour lieutenants of the capitalist class”. In that country of the freest bourgeois culture, in that most democratic of bourgeois republics, they saw most clearly the role played by this tiny upper section of the proletariat who had virtually entered the service of the bourgeoisie as its deputies, who were bribed and bought by it, and who came to form those groups of social-patriots and defence advocates of which Ebert and Scheidemann will always remain the perfect heroes.
In our country things are now different. The trade unions are in a position to start the economic development of the state on new lines, making use of everything created by capitalist culture and capitalist production. They can build socialism on that material basis, on that large-scale industry, whose burden used to weigh on us, which was created against our interests, was made for the endless oppression of the working people, but which united and welded them, and thus created the vanguard of the new society. And since the October Revolution, since the transfer of power to the proletariat, this vanguard has begun to perform its real task—to educate the working and exploited people, to enlist them in the work of governing the state and administering industry without officials, without the bourgeoisie and without capitalists. That is why the resolution we submit to you rejects all bourgeois plans and all that treacherous talk. That is why it declares the governmentalisation of the trade unions to be unavoidable.
We are raising these questions on the basis of a year’s experience of the trade unions, which, in their role as organisers of production, have created such organisations as the Supreme Economic Council. In this incredibly difficult business, the trade unions have committed innumerable blunders, and constantly still are committing them, but they are not deterred by the malicious sneers of the bourgeoisie, who say the proletarians decided to do things themselves and are making a mess of it. The bourgeoisie imagine they made no blunders when they took over from the tsar and the nobles. They imagine the 1861 Reform, which attempted to repair the edifice of serfdom, and left power and abundant sources of revenue in the hands of the serfowners, went off quite smoothly and that it was not followed by chaos in Russia for several decades. There is no country in the world in which the nobility did not scoff at the upstart bourgeoisie and commoners when they set out to govern the state.
It goes without saying that the entire flower, or, rather, sterile blossom, of the bourgeois intellectuals is now also scoffing at every mistake the new government is making, especially since the new class, the alliance of all working people, has had to make its revolution at a furious rate because of the frantic resistance of the exploiters and the campaign of the world alliance of exploiters against Russia—one of the weakest and least prepared of countries. We had to act under conditions in which we had to think not so much of making the course of revolution smooth, as of holding on as best we could until the West-European proletariat came to life. We have accomplished this task. In this respect, we can already say we have done far better than the men who made the French Revolution, which was defeated by an alliance of monarchical and backward countries. The French Revolution, in the form of the power of the lower ranks of the bourgeoisie of that time, held on for a year only, and did not at once evoke a similar movement in other countries. Nevertheless, it did so much for the bourgeoisie, for the bourgeois democracy, that the entire development of civilised humanity throughout the nineteenth century sprang from the great French Revolution, and was indebted to it for everything.
We have done much better. What was done in a year for the development of the bourgeois democracy at that time, we have done on a far larger scale for the new proletarian regime in about the same time. And we have done it so successfully that already now the movement in Russia, whose beginning was due to a special set of circumstances rather than any merit of ours, to special conditions that put Russia between two imperialist giants of the modern civilised world—that the effect of this movement and the victory of the Soviet system during the past year has been to make the movement international. The Communist International has been founded, the slogans and ideals of the old bourgeois democracy have been shattered.
Jan 1919 Second All-Russia trade union congress
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