Rules of the road

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January 14, 2007

Comments

Christopher Day

Venezuela's dependence on oil revenues makes it what is known as a rentier state which undoubtedly drags all sorts of problems in its wake, vulnerability to fluctuation in the world market being only one. That said, it seems that the only thing that can be done to escape that problem is to invest those oil revenues in building up production capacity in other sectors. There is nothing inherently socialist, however, about building up, say an automobile industry. It seems to me that Chavez is doing two very important things, however. The first is to increase the value of Venezuelan labor power through genuine universal education. The second is promoting self-sufficiency in food. These are important foundations for a more diversified economy. Both have the advantage of protecting against shocks from both international market fluctuations and from U.S. interventions.

Malaise Limits Movement

Food sovereignty is not discussed nearly enough. If Chavez is inspired by Castro, he has done well to learn that you can't eat oil anymore than sugarcane.

Chuck Morse

Chavez’s limitations reflect a key problem for Marxist-Leninism in the twenty-first century. Unless you want to build a totally inward country (like North Korea, perhaps), it is no longer possible to transformation a society through one state alone, because the globalization of the economy (and culture) has reduced the power of an individual state so greatly. Many of a country’s economic realities are determined by groups and institutions beyond its borders. It no longer makes sense to talk of seizing the Winter Palace.

(It’s ironic that this issue receives such scant attention here--resumably political economy would be your thing--but many of you are more Blanquist than Marxist.)

leftclick

Wrong. In the era of nation-states, ask people trying to cross borders if the state's power has been significantly reduced, it is ONLY possible to have revolutions in individual states.

For capital, national boundaries are certainly more flexible, but for everyone else, they have become further calcified. Stop drinking the globalization kool-aid and look at reality.

Here's some decent reading on it: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1132/is_n5_v48/ai_18768641/pg_4

r. john

some thoughts....

First when bourgeois press accounts emerge making claims about revolutionary forces, our first reaction should not be to accept it as true. And we need to train others, broadly, to approach it all with scepticism. This is independent of whether the bourgeois press is claiming "victories" for the revolution, or "shocking abuses" by revolutoinaries, or "statements" by revolutionaries. All of it.

This is a fairly important and basic question of orientation.

We should not "accept it as true until proven otherwise." We should not "act like it is true" while we spin out either speculation, denunciations or apologia around whatever is charged.

We should, quite simply, take a scientific approach -- investigate, view things critically, "consider the source" and dig for the actual truth.

We should not romanticize or prettify revolutionary forces. We should not act on the basis of "denial" when real problems are clearly emerging.

But we also need to think through the role of bourgeois media and disinformation in the very real struggles for power -- and we need to train ourselves and the masses broadly to understand that claims about revolutionaries from the mainstream press are often and repeatedly PART OF THE CLASS STRUGGLE.

The reactionaries have a long list of claims (killing of teachers, chopping of hands of opponents of Maoists, brainwashing and kidnapping of children for the liberation forces, extortion of tourists, beating of opponents and repeatedly stories about the mistreatment of homosexuals1.)

Are such things simply lies, or half truths, or perhaps descriptions of something that actually happened? Are such things the policy of revolutionaries? Or the actiuons of a few (within a larger flood of struggle)? Or the actions of reactionaries claiming to be the revolution? Or perhaps simply a figment of police imagination?

So look back over the posts here... cuz some people are applying exactly the wrong approach.

And when you study the approach of the RCP to the developments in Peru (the emergence of the Right Opportunist Line, the complex claims that it was either line promoted by Gonzalo or a CIA hoax....) then you can get a sense of a scientific approach that (a) doesn't "rush to judgement" half-baked, (b) doesn't invent "political truths" based on wishful thinking or hype, (c) is patient when scientific methods demand patience.

Similarly, it stands out that the RCP has not written something yet on Chavez -- a fact that must be as frustrating to others as it is for me. But, at the same time, to "write something" you actually need to "know something" (scientifically).

It would be easy to write a throw-away piece on Chavez that simply dismissed him apriori (our principles are A, B, and C, he doesn't uphold them that way, so...) in a dogmatic way, or to uphold him in a cheerleading fashion that doesn't look beyond the superficial and momentary (and that doesn't approach the politics of today with a "living link" to a real, viable communist future.)

Want to dig toward an understanding of Chavez? Start with Avakian's "Three Alternative Worlds" for a conceptual framework:

http://rwor.org/a/071/ba-threeworlds-en.html

But, of course, there is a big leap from "conceptual framework" to "actual analysis of the particularity."

Like everyone else, I am eagerly looking forward to reading the work the RCP is developing on this question and these events.

* * * * * *
"You say that it's not the RCP's position anymore. As far as I understand, their new programme is still formally in draft status and not officialy adopted. Either way, do you think a recent, relatively quiet change to their position can just wipe away the cumulative effect of decades of a pernicious line?"

I will just say that every detail here is mistaken. Especially the idea that when communists rupture with incorrect ideas we must assume that they still embrace and represent those incorrect ideas (how long? to the third generation? til absolved by god?)

The assumptions here have no connection to reality. And are, at root, an insistance that speculation and subjective assertion are higher that fact and reality.

In that same discussion:

"True, RCP has not yet produced an 'official' new program with a new line, but between the draft document and the 2+ year discussion process, I think we have a pretty good indication that the old line is on its way out. In my direct experience, no party supporter advocates the old line anymore either.

"Even if Avakian is prevented from advocating a new official position to CPNM and the rest of the RIM what's to prevent him from critiquing the old one?"

Some things on homosexuality and the RCP's line:

The RCP's line has gone through a deep process of rupture and development -- as everyone should know.

I can't even imagine the degree of mechanical (and bourgeous legalist) thinking that would lead anyone to assume that "the new draft wasn't officially adopted, so the old line must still be in command."

Uh, no.

While the final programme is being developed, it is clear that the current "draft" programme is seen as the highest expression of the party's line on the questions it deals with -- and so is treated as the basis of unity by the Party (as far as I can tell).

In other words, they HAVE a new line on homosexuality.

The quote I cut and pasted above is correct in indicating that BA himself is bound by democratic centralism -- and his public writings and statements happen within the framework of the party's overall line.

But anyone who has read the chapter on homosexuality and line -- in the "Conversations" book he wrote with Bill Martin -- can get a living sense of what their line currently is, and how they got there, and what they have ruptured with.

The idea that they are running around promoting a previous, incorrect view of this social question... is just wrong.

And frankly, their new line is rather important -- nor merely or even mainly in regard to the questions directly tied to human sexuality, but because of the METHOD applied in developing this approach. The process of rupture involved in struggling through a correct understanding of homosexuality has been part of a larger process of making ideological and political leaps -- including Avakian's intense fight for a communism that is truly scientific, creative, materialist, non-religious and energetically self-interrogating.

FT

Thank you, for all of that R. John. Really.

Any preliminary thoughts on comrade Hugo?

I would love to be a fly on the wall for Avakian and Chavez downing mojitos.

ShineThePath

"Food sovereignty is not discussed nearly enough. If Chavez is inspired by Castro, he has done well to learn that you can't eat oil anymore than sugarcane."

Why does RCP always push these hackneyed response to real questions. The sugarcane affair is funny for me and I think any other Marxist who knows a little bit about Cuba beyond its reluctance in the 60s' to throw away a profitable cash crop like Sugar Canes. Cuba has sustainable agriculture these days, and has not had a food crisis that many other socialist countries have faced such as China and the USSR.

If engaging in the world market is a crime against Socialism than convict the USSR and China (yes under Mao). FURTHER convict them both for allowing foriegn capital and allowing some what uneven development through the nations. RCP acts that every socialist state should be immaculate when it comes to these affairs and should hold strict autarky and self-reliance in economic growth. But that wasn't realistic for the Soviet Union or China, how is it realistic for an isolated island on the carribbean coast. Let it trade with Cananda if it wants, that doesn't make them revisionists.

RCP tries to fit a stale analysis about the USSR on Cuba, and it doesn't fit.

Venezuela is something interesting to. Development there has been remarkable and the political-social consciousness from what I have heard and seen is great. So what is the problem...well it is the Nepalese Maoists that some Maoists where head over heels moving to declare all perjoritve terms in the book. A turn to Social-Democracy? I don't think so...what is occuring in Nepal and Venezuela is no the same as Allende collabortionism or Kautsky peaceful transition..etc. etc. I think these two dare I say REVOLUTIONS have made a step toward the future in the world of Neo-liberalism and an over-extended Super-power. The situation has changed since 1973 in terms of international consciousness, and the Bush administration has indeed run its gamble with Iraq.

So build a "Welfare State" by selling Oil and Sugarcanes, I think I enjoy living in a state where there is a revolutionary consciousness like no other and that revenue has gone into the hands of the few, but into the structural development of the nation.

What horrid crimes against Marx!

ShineThePath

hasn't not has

the burningman

R. John says: "Want to dig toward an understanding of Chavez? Start with Avakian's "Three Alternative Worlds" for a conceptual framework:

http://rwor.org/a/071/ba-threeworlds-en.html

---------

Of those three, I think there are reasons for hope that Chavez is doing more than a welfare state floating on oil with good public relations and just the right enemy.

Talk about sending letters to the CPN-M...

I'd like to read letters from Avakian to Chavez (and Marcos).

And some investigation that doesn't aim to "define socialism down" in doctrinal terms or one-wayism. Some give and take, some sharing of what a solid core can be in the revolutionary sense that may, in fact, be new to them. And some elasticity in terms of the progressive role these poles are playing.

VENCEREMOS.

the burningman

"RCP tries to fit a stale analysis about the USSR on Cuba, and it doesn't fit."

I don't believe this is true. The 1986 analysis Burn Down the Cane Fields! is woefully outdated, and even then was frankly narrow, subordinating Cuba almost totally to the issue of their relations with the Soviet Union. It was, in many ways, "proof-texting" a whole revolution.

I think the obituary that is run for Castro is a sort of "forced" ideological statement on Cuba.

Castro should be sent of with respect, and an engaged, well-rounded discussion that doesn't shy away from the profound compromises, mistakes and outright errors that were made.

We should speak in solidarity with the Cuban people, and not be afraid to speak to them as comrades in this world about the choices they have to make.

Maz

I've never seen the RCP promote autarky for any socialist economy. Neither have I seen this from non-RCP Maoism. In the now-well known article on Cuba in A World To Wins #14 and # 15 the point is explicitly made that autarky is neither possible nor desireable. The point, I think, is not whether a socialist country trades with the imperialists, but rather whether or not this trade (and its corresponding elements of the socialist economy geared toward trade) serves to subordinate the economy overall to the domination of the imperialist market or not. That is to say, will the economy be ruled by the law of value or will it restrict it to the greatest degree possible? And, will the nature of trade undermine efforts to put politics in command to have the socialist economy serve the world revolution?

As for Venezuela, I think the attitude of waiting and seeing isn't such a bad one. Myself, I am skeptical. Chavez is, if anything, a caricature of opportunism. One day he's a trot, the next a christian, the next a maoist, etc. Even if he were sincere (and it seems that in some aspects he is, at least) how much can he acheive as the head of a capitalist state, ie, one without a people's army to defend people's power?

But overall, this is very complex, which by the way I think saying so has become redundant on this board. Chavez cannot be understood without also understanding the whole motion in the world right now, especially America's new crusade, and their difficulties and 'bogging down' and setbacks they've encountered. And of course, not without considering oil. This certainly has given Chavez space, but will it be enough? And what is the long-term outlook for Venezuela if he does have a freer hand. Once again I'm skeptical.

I think what is so important about Avakian and the new thinking in the ICM is the better understanding of the wrenching and contradictory nature of socialism. The question now is not so much do we need power and how to get it (tho that is far from settled!) but rather what the fuck are we going to do with power once we get it. Because, if we simply have a Cavez-esque 'it's all good' approach to left theory, then the road is headed very swiftly right back to capitalism, no matter what the will of a man, his supporters, their oil wealth or the adulation of left-social democrats can provide.

No Comment?

The RCP hasn't analyzed the Venezuela situation, huh?

http://revcom.us/a/033/latin-america-behind-turmoil.htm

A relevant passage:

Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with the European Union and China. This is especially the case for raw materials exporters like Brazil and Chile. Venezuela has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the U.S. government. Bolivia's President Evo Morales has said he would carry out a "reasonable" nationalization of key industries, while saying he would like international corporations to stay, but on better terms.

However, none of this will or can decisively break with the structural dependency that characterizes the relationship of oppressed countries in the world imperialist economy. The subordination of oppressed nations is a structural feature of the world imperialist system. This encompasses economic mechanisms leading to and reinforcing such dependency, as well as unequal relations of power and imperial structures of political control.

The better terms on imperialist investments that Evo Morales received from France and Spain, or the investment that Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina will get from outside investors for the pipeline, will still be a chain around the neck of the oppressed--because the same lopsidedness of global capitalism, with its laws, structures, governments and ideas that regulate commerce and all other aspect of life are still in place. So even though Brazil and Argentina have paid their debt to the IMF, they are still entangled and subjected in a million other ways to international finance capital and the institutions and mechanisms of imperialism.

Sepehr

No matter what Mr Chavez is doing in Venezuela, his foreign policy, as far as we Iranians are concerned, is shameful. While Iranian working class, students, women have faced more severe pressures under Ahmadinezhad administration, while indpendnet trade unions are still banned, while censorship, execution, imprisonment and torture of political dissidens continue Mr Chavez shamelessly calls the Iranian presidnet his brother! Shame on you! Iranian workers, studens, women and left activist will never forget this mockery!

Christopher Day

With all due respect to Sepehr, I suspect the attitude of "Iranians" is more hetergeneous than s/he claims. The realities of living in a world of nation states, imperialism and the uneven development of revolutionary forces is that progressive states are going to have to make alliances of convenience with more reactionary ones as part of any serious strategy for survival. As major oil producing countries at odds with the U.S., Venezuela and Iran are natural allies. By acting in concert they can deal blows to the U.S. and attract around them smaller forces that are not as able to stand up to the U.S. alone (like say Bolivia). If the U.S. or Israel were to attack Iran tomorrow, it would be a good thing if Venezuela were to lead a charge for an oil embargo. In addition to raising the costs for the imperialists this would put enormous pressure on the Saudis and other Gulf states that are quietly rooting for an attack on Iran. But if Venezuela is to play this sort of role it needs to make this alliance a living thing for the Venezuelan people and that is what Chavez's nice words for Ahmadinjad are about. Ahmadinejad represents forces that have their boots on the necks of the Iranian people. This is true. But it is also true that those same people would suffer enormously in an Israeli/US war on Iran. And its not just the Iranian people who have something at stake in all this.

I'm not suggesting that we follow WWP and whitewash the human rights records of the theocratic regime in Iran and as far as I know Chavez hasn't done this either. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't strenuously oppose the efforts of the U.S. to demonize and isolate the Iranian government as part of its war plans.

Chavez's embrace of Ahmadinejad is not what stands in the way of progressive forces in Iran and suggesting otherwise is puerile.

Christopher Day

Chuck made a comment above, that "it is no longer possible to transformation a society through one state alone, because the globalization of the economy (and culture) has reduced the power of an individual state so greatly. Many of a country’s economic realities are determined by groups and institutions beyond its borders."

This is a widely held view that demands a response. Indeed it is probably a hegemonic view in much of the global justice movement. But before addressing whether its actually true, its worth considering its roots and implications.

The real roots of this view lies in the ideological justifications of neo-liberalism. One of the arguments used most consistently to justify the imposition of this or that neo-liberal policy is that, in Margaret Thatchers words, TINA "There Is No Aletrnative." Globalization is simply a force of nature beyond anybody's control and the only choices are getting on board or getting run over. Indeed the more we speak vaguely of globalization rather than speaking of particular corporate practices and neo-liberal policies the more we disarm ourselves.

Chucks' position (and he is far from alone) is essentially a left-wing variation on this. It is a view that globalization is such a powerful force that it can't really be checked by any single state. Superficially this can be spun as a call for a more internationalist approach, but since there obviously isn't a viable force that can carry out a worldwide revolution in one fell swoop it becomes in practice a rationalization for retreat into "winnable" reformist struggles, building up little counter-institutions, etc... basically anything EXCEPT really trying to overthrow actual capitalist regimes. What is represented as a cutting-edge critique of capitalism ends out being a de facto ideological surrender to it.

It has been a great ideological triumph of neo-liberalism that this sort of inevitablism around its objectives has crept into the thinking of its sworn opponents. And its important to understand the ways that the common anti-statist language of both neo-liberalism and anarchism have made the latter a vehicle for this process.

I highly recommend that people who are interested in this read David Harvey's "A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism" in which he lays out very concretely how the freedom of capital flows that neo-liberals would have us treat as a force of nature are instead the product of a conscious elite political project.

It is absolutely true that no country is an island and that every country is embedded (even North Korea) in the world capitalist market. But this is not nearly as new a situation as suggested. The late 19th and early 20th centuries experienced a very similar phenomena of massive international investment and commodity flows. Contrary to what many people might think, these were even greater as a percentage of investments than they are today. But the international regime of free-trade under the hegemony of the UK collapsed producing two world wars, and a depression that fueled a worldwide wave of socialist revolutions and anti-colonial movements and led all the capitalist countries to tightly regulate capital flows in and out of their territories.

The proposition that globalization has generally made states weaker is a profound oversimplification. The truth is that neo-liberalism has produced a reconfiguration of state functions and a reordering of the relative sovereignty of different states within the international state system. The idea that supranational institutions (like the UN, IMF, WB, WTO, etc...) are displacing the powers once held by states ignores the ways in which these institutions are expressions of the policies of particiular states (particularly the US) and exercise their powers atthe pleasure of the US.

It is fine to talk about the "limitations" on what Chavez has been able to accomplish in Venezuela because of the operations of globalization. But who really faces greater limitations, the Chavistas in Venezuela or the Zapatistas in Mexico? The idea that because the powers of the state in particular countries are hedged in by the world market that therefore control of the state is of no use in carrying out radical social transformations is absurd. It is precisely because of these limitations that it is so critical to lay hold of the very real powers that states still have.

This is not to suggest that there isn't anything new under the sun or that globalization is unimportant or even that it doesn't pose real challenges to any attempt to make particular advances towards socialism in one country. It is certainly the case that there are major tasks that can not be carried out without successful revolutions engulfing much, if not all, of the globe. But there is no path to that day that does not pass first through revolutionary victories confined initially to one or several countries. And the history of attempts to build socialism in the 20th century teaches us, among many other things, that there are all sorts of things that can be accomplished in a single country even when it is beseiged not only by the demands of the world market, but even by imperialist armies.

Finally, I think its important to see how the economic determinism of this view of globalization enables the whole anarchist and semi-anarchist wing of the global justice movement to rationalize not even engaging the complexities of the 20th century experiences in making revolutions and trying to build socialism. Basically the argument is that all of that stuff occurred under conditions that were so radically different from those we face today that there really isn't anything we can learn from closely studying those experiences, though the shallowest famiillarity with them is accepted as sufficient grounds for dismissing them all as unqualified failures.

Some comment

Honestly I'm a lot more interested in the MLM response to Venezuela than anarcho-carping. Good of Chris to deal with the neo-liberal/anarchist take on the state... but.

That excerpt above is not an analysis of the politics of Chavez, or the change in the self-conception of this political project from "Bolivarian" to "socialist." It doesn't deal with the call for a united socialist party, or the distinction between the politics of Chavez, Lula and Evo. And so on.

The recent Revolution reporting from Oaxaca had its heart in the right place, but did little to illuminate the range of forces operating, the struture/orientation of what was called APPO, the EZ since "La Sexta" and the Other Campaign – or meaty, "concrete analysis of concrete conditions."

We are the Americas, and Mexico is not some distant local. Venezuela is closer to Florida than I am right now.

I guess there are two issues, taking the Chavez meet with Ahmadinejad on one hand (state-to-state relations in opposition to US imperialism) and then the degree that Chavez MAY be angling to develop a DoP in Venezuela.

On the latter, my thinking is that he will be a Castro, warts and all, with a sea of oil instead of a Soviet patronage.

Can the ICM play a role here besides cheerleading or back-seat driving?

Can this moment be engaged in some deeper way, that helps strengthen the advanced, win over the intermediate and isolate the backward?

Some comment

"Single states" against imperialism?

On one level, this is correct. No state can create an island against international capital flow, or withstand the politico-military pressures of imperialism without becoming something we don't want.

In Nepal, through the CCOMPOSA, there has been talk of creating a "Soviet Union of South Asia," and a "World Soviet Federation."

This kind of "talk" is a recognition of this on a more advanced level.

We don't need a bunch of nationalized mini-economies that are ultimately the sum of their parts. We need to politically transform the map.

Socialist countries are base areas of the world revolution, or they will find their peace (are re-subordination) sooner than they think.

Some comment

With respect to Iran, and any country suffering under the yoke of capitalist theocracy ("Saudi" Arabia, etc.) – we have a responsibility to support liberation forces where they exist, encourage them where they do not – and refuse to accept Jihad vs. McWorld.

If state-to-state relations create strange bedfellows for a time, as we KNOW they will, that must never (never) be confused with our program – including inside those countries.

Iran has historically had an influential left, democratic and even Maoist. There is a party IN Iran, and there is turmoil beyond pro-Western/comprador students.

Iran is one of the places that real surprises can develop.

Support every countries right to self-determaination. Support every movement for liberation against imperialism and social reaction.

Break that sick cipher!

Christopher Day

Okay then lets talk about Venezuela. I guess my question is whether people here think it is possible for the Venezuelan Army to be transformed into a peoples army, which seems to underpin assessments of whether or not a country is really on the socialist road, and whether they think something like that is presently happening.

It seems to me that the struggle over the character of the army has been pretty central to developments in Venezuela. Chavez and his movement got their start as a clandestine movement within the armed forces that was sympathetic with the anti-IMF riots the army was called on to suppress. When Chavez was elected he moved to consolidate his support within the armed forces, a process that was accelerated after the coup. The use of the armed forces in civic projects seems to me to have as its object breaking down the insular culture of the armed forces as much as it does with making the army popular with the Venezuelan people. Finally, the training of militaias and the reorientaion of the army's strategic doctrine to waging a guerrilla war against imperialist invaders marks another important shift.

So, what makes an army a genuine peoples army?

the burningman

I would throw out that there are two criteria:

1) The general line commanding the army.

This issue is fraught with difficulty as words are just that. But we do know that when revisionists captured control of the Chinese Communist Party, the PLA became an instrument of represssion, not liberation. Whether a bourgeois nationalist army can be "reverse engineered" is not something I think we've seen.

Chavez has made comments, besides flirting with ecclectic Marxist leaders and intellectuals, that he has "always been a Nasserite."

Nasser here also seems worth discussion.

2) The actual functioning of the army.

Is it parasitic, or does it contribute beyond repressive functions?

What is the class ranking inside the military? Does it serve to reproduce or break down class distinctions in society?

What is the political character of the militias being built? What are the political education programs that give spine to this force?

To what degree has officer training been transformed to develop "servants of the people," not simply "guardians" or even just a traditional "neutral" military.

Is the state "neutral" or does it now claim to be a proletarian dictatorship?

These are essential issues.

Without a revolutionary party to lead, the army will not play that role. Nasser was wrong there in all the ways we can see.

-------

I don't know the answers to all these questions... nor how to answer them with satisfaction. I guess that's why I'm really curious about what other people have to say, and what investigations are ongoing.

leftclick

What exactly is Chavez's understanding of socialism? I'm only asking because he seems to throw out an eclectic list of influences, some of whom are difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile.

In the 50's and 60's, the idea of socialism as a development strategy was very popular in the third world. This kind of economism usually meant little attention paid to the need to transform ALL social relations with the final goal being the elimination of class society.

Are we witnessing a resurgence of this idea in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America?

So far, all the support for Chavez on this thread has been pragmatic. What happened to line?

leftclick

Sorry, I just remembered BM's characterization of him as a progressive nationalist. Sounds right.

Avakian raised a point that I'd like to revisit. He pointed out that although the GPCR was the most advanced expression of socialism in history, and was certainly better than anything going on right now, we should aim to do better. Can we apply this to Chavez?

Nasser has already been raised here. I don't know much about him but perhaps someone could clarify. What were the salient features of Nasserism? How did they contribute to the success/defeat of his project? What can we learn from this and how does it apply to Chavez?

Sepehr

Let's object your argument. I think you are mixing humanitarian and revolutionary duties with diplomacy in its bourgeois sense and sacrifice the former for the latter. If Chavez is justified for his alliance with Iran and close eyes on facts of Iranian society I accordingly argue that Iranian dissidents should be justified for their inclination to the West and the US for their common interests in this specific period. If so, what will happen to internationalism? Don’t tell me these are Iranians that must ignore their rights for a better life and respectfully bow to Chavez and the likes in Latin America. To be realistic, please clean your mind from the propaganda and rhetoric by Iranian regime. Iranian society is drowning in the sea of poverty and corruption. So, a large number of exploited people ever dream days under the former regime, when they at least had job and a little hope for improving their conditions. You may be surprised, many Iranians jubilated at the US invasion of Iraq and waited Iran's turn because the endless suppression has lost their hope and self-confidence. You may know according to a opinion poll institute about 80% of Iranians favour normalization of relations with the US, and Iran is the only country in the Middle East whose people don’t have anti-American sentiments, contrary to the fashionable trend in the other countries of this region. Sometimes, I justify them and question myself we may be living I conditions similar to that of Germans, Italians and the Japanese in 1940-45, when these peoples could not overcome fascism by themselves. I don’t want to refer to figures and statistics but like to retell my personal experience. While only 500 activists of all political parties were executed or killed in armed conflicts under the former regime just at least 5,000 (this is a controversial figure, some rise it to even 30,000) were executed in a few days in summer 1988, a large number of them leftists. In present-day Iran simple independent trade unions are not tolerated, let alone leftist political organizations and parties. Censorship that had been relieved under Khatami's administration is now practised in an unprecedented extent. I don’t want to refer to Middle Age punishments, stoning men and women for extramarital sex, flogging young boys and girls for liking to have simple relations with each other and so on and so forth. I don’t ask you to forget your principles but sometimes please set aside your clichés, such as view the people-imperialism as the main contradiction in all societies. Another request, I have found your website only two days ago. It seems it belongs to the Revolutionary Communist Party of the US. I have only heard the name of Bob Avykian when I was in prison in 1980s. So, since I am not much familiar with your literature, please let me know the meaning of acronyms and abbreviation you use. This may allow me to involve in your debates, of course if you care opinions of Iranian friends.

style council

Paragraphs are your friend.

Christopher Day

I was not suggesting that Iranians "bow to Chavez" and abandon their just struggles against the theocratic regime they live under. I don't think Chavez has said anything to that effect either. My point was rather that Chavez's embrace of Ahmadinejad should not be interppreted as an endorsement of the latter's political or social policies beyond his willingness to stand up to the U.S..

If Russia or China were socialist countries today maybe Chavez wouldn't feel compelled to get so cozy with Ahmadinejad. But thats not the current situation.

I don't doubt anything you say about Iranian public opinion, nor that sincere progressives in Iran might contemplate seeing the U.S. as an ally in their struggle. My only suggestion is that they consider the outcome of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that you say some cheered, for the aspirations of progressive Iraqis.

If your vision of a liberated Iran is a job as a collaborator in an American controlled Green Zone in Tehran while the rest of your country is made a free-fire zone for U.S. marines and Islamist car-bombers, well, the path forward is clear. Hopefully even if most progressive Iranians can't see the sense in Chavez's actions they can see the folly in getting cozy with the U.S..

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