Posted to www.marxmail.org on July 19, 2006
Sam Farber is a Cuban-American professor at
Farber doesn't always get a free pass in this neighborhood. John Rees, a British SWP theoretician, wrote a fine little book titled "In Defense of October," which answers Farber's "Before Stalinism: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Democracy," alongside Sovietologists like Robert Conquest, Adam Ulam et al. Rees points out that Farber's arguments and data echo those of the anti-Communists. Since the state capitalists feel defensive when it comes to attacks on the Soviet leadership before the counter-revolution (their term, not mine), Farber's assault on the Soviet "golden age" has to be answered. No such quarter is given to the Cuban socialist revolution obviously, which in their eyes never occurred.
Farber has an article in the latest ISR, the magazine of the
ISO, titled "
In 2003, Farber was interviewed by New Politics. (http://www.wpunj.edu/icip/newpol/issue35/farber35.htm)
He spoke about the Varela Project and Oswaldo Payà (who just received an honorary degree from my
employer) but did not once mention that the
At the risk of coming across like a hard-line Stalinist,
from what I have seen Cano does seem a bit *off*. Cano
was a guitar-playing religious zealot who hooked up with the
A few blocks from where the cameras wait and the people chant, Milagros Cruz Cano, a blind 32-year-old exile, has been living in a tent on the street, existing on Gatorade and water.
Until the moment she
was finally banished from
"When I told my daughter that they allowed me to take my two dogs, but not her," Milagros explained through a translator, my daughter, she say, "Mama, put me in the cage and dress me as a dog, so I can be with you. Please, Mama, do not leave me."
One wonders if Sam Farber ever felt the need to set up a Free Milagros Cruz Cano Committee to defend her right to play Christian hymns on the guitar and dress up her daughter like a dog. Probably not. More to the point, you will simply find *no* allegations of Cuba putting dissidents into mental hospitals from outfits like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Trust me, if there were such abuses, these groups would be all over them like white on rice.
Farber also doesn't care for Che Guevara very much. In a New Politics article from the summer of 1998, he describes Che in terms usually reserved for somebody like Enver Hoxha:
By the time he left
Oddly enough, despite his extreme Stalinophobia, Farber is more charitable to the Cuban Communist Party before the Cuban revolution than he is to the July 26th movement, which the Popular Socialist Party (as the Cuban CP named itself) held at arm's length. In Farber's eyes, the PSP was "more anticapitalist" than the Fidelistas in 1956-1958. ("The Cuban Communists in the Early Stages of the Cuban Revolution: Revolutionaries or Reformists?", Latin American Research Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1983). Since so much of state capitalist and left social democratic politics is consumed with ideology, it is not surprising that Farber deems the PSP "more anticapitalist". However, we should heed the words of Karl Marx, who advised Bracke that "Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes."
I can certainly understand why the grizzled old social
democrats around New Politics would gravitate to Farber. Why young radicals in
the ISO or the British SWP would not have an allergic reaction such prose does
puzzle me, however. I guess that's the result of remaining steeped in ignorance
Turning now to Farber's piece in the ISR, one should not be
surprised that he relies on Carmelo Mesa-Lago and
Horst Fabian's possible scenario for a post-Castro
I myself would be hesitant to rely on Mesa-Lago in light of his 1998 projection that "the
probability of a strong, steady recovery in
But who am I to advise Sam Farber. He is a tenured professor, after all.
Most of the ISR article is filled with empty speculation
about the Cuban army spearheading a
The Cuban leadership may be aware of the impossibility of maintaining the current status quo and may also be wary of the kind of chaos often associated with transitions (and described below). In that case, and in combination with some "healthy" self-interest, the so- called Chinese model may appear quite attractive.
Finally, Farber advises his readers that in the chaos
following the death of Fidel Castro, it is necessary for genuine socialists as
opposed to the Stalinist fakers in
"In addition to having to confront the Right, the new democratic revolutionary Left will also face major obstacles and intense competition from the neo-Fidelista forces described above. The two will clash in terms of two entirely different conceptions of the Left and socialism, in theory and in social organizational practice. For many years, the Left has been associated with a critique of and opposition to capitalism. However, this conception retains a sometimes fatal ambiguity. Anticapitalism does not necessarily mean pro-socialism if we define socialism as a movement 'from below' attempting to establish the democratic rule of the workers and the majority of the population."
Such ambitions strike me as being vain in every sense of the word. It is a form of vanity to compare oneself favorably to men and women who have shaken the world to its foundations. It is also vain in the sense of being an exercise in futility.
The comrades in the state capitalist tradition have a major
challenge in front of them. Capitalism is being challenged to one degree or
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Bolivian President Pays Tribute to Guevara
LA PAZ, Bolivia -- President Evo Morales celebrated the birthday of Che Guevara Wednesday, the first time a top Bolivian leader has paid tribute to the revolutionary who was executed in the Andean nation four decades ago.
Surrounded by Cuban
and Venezuelan officials, Morales observed the 78th anniversary of Guevara's
birth, using the occasion to praise his close allies President Fidel Castro of
Guevara, an Argentine,
launched an armed revolt in 1966 to bring communism to
He waged a guerrilla
insurgency for 13 months in
Morales flew in a
helicopter loaned by
Local children and nearby residents blew out a birthday cake with 78 candles representing how old Guevara would be if were alive.
He said in a speech
that a decade ago he had a dream that there would be other
wrong," he said. "Now we do have another commander, colleague
Chavez." He also praised Castro's
Since taking office in
January, Morales has forged close alliances with
The coca leaf has
traditional and legal uses in