Break with the Democrats! Forge a Class-Struggle Workers Party!

California: Vote Yes to Recall Davis! No Vote to Capitalist Parties!

Critical Support to the SWP for Governor

Correction Appended, Letter Appended

Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 810, 26 September 2003.

OAKLAND, September 23—California’s widely hated Democratic governor Gray Davis has achieved the distinction of becoming the first in the state’s history to face a recall election, originally scheduled for October 7, then postponed by a federal court ruling and today rescheduled for October 7. With a personality to match his name, a penchant for bureaucratic viciousness and an obsession for venal campaign fund-raising, Davis has become the focus for discontent arising from the prolonged economic crisis rocking the state. As the witty scribe Alexander Cockburn put it, “Gray Davis! There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate. Was there ever a man who brought the always gray phrase ‘lesser of two evils’ into greater disrepute?” (CounterPunch, 9 August).

The California recall has assumed greater national importance as the two capitalist parties continue their petty bickering over chads, sex and fund-raising—while they unite to stomp all over the world. The Republicans appear to be aiming for a California power-grab as a stepping stone to the 2004 presidential elections. And the Democrats have been hoping to win the recall through the courts, believing that any delay in the election will favor Davis, who is now hurrying a spate of new legislation aimed at rounding up more votes. Angling for the substantial Latino vote, he has signed legislation to issue California driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants—which may be the only good thing to come out of these elections.

The Spartacist League advocates a “yes” vote on the recall as a vote of no confidence in Democrat Davis, and a vote for Joel Britton, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) candidate, for Davis’ replacement as governor, as a vote against capitalism and war. Normally, we would not consider giving even very critical support to the SWP, whose quirky reformist program and nominal existence do not make them a particularly appetizing prospect. We originally decided to abstain on the recall because we want neither to support a capitalist politician, in this case the Democratic governor, nor to implicitly support a capitalist (likely Republican) replacement. The SWP’s election platform, which presents, in however crude a way, a working-class line, allows us to make concrete and clear-cut our opposition to Davis while at the same time expressing our opposition to the Republicans’ attempted electoral coup.

What the working class needs is to forge, through political combat, a multiracial, class-struggle workers party to fight for a workers government. Such a revolutionary party would mobilize the workers in defense of their own class interests and in defense of the rights of the oppressed. It could unite the working masses as a whole behind a fight for free, quality education and health care, for free mass transit, for full employment for all, for an end to racial oppression and anti-immigrant discrimination, as part of the struggle for a socialist revolution.

The SWP platform, as printed in the official state ballot, calls for opposition to U.S. imperialist military intervention; for the abolition of the death penalty; and for jobs for all at no cut in pay. Britton, a longtime trade unionist, says, “I’m for a workers’ and farmers’ government, which will abolish capitalism in the U.S. and join in the worldwide struggle for socialism.” Fine words (except “farmers”? In the U.S., that means agribusiness!). But the SWP is not a step to the kind of revolutionary party the working class needs to fight for a workers government. In program and practice, the SWP is virtually uncritical of the trade-union bureaucracy, whose reliance on the “pro-labor” Democrats and the ballot box is the biggest obstacle to the working class exercising its power. Thus, while it calls for “a fighting working-class alternative to the twin parties of imperialist war and occupation,” the SWP dodges the necessary political fight for working-class independence that will make that possible.

California Scheming

Beset by the nationwide depression sharpened by the bust, California faced a $38 billion deficit this year. Republicans and Democrats united to close most of the gap by slashing social programs and the wages and jobs of government workers, raising fees and taxes that disproportionately target poor and working people and borrowing heavily at high interest rates. The country’s most populous state now has the lowest credit rating of any state government, approaching junk-bond status. The one growth industry that is guaranteed financing by the near-bankrupt state government is the mammoth prison system, where predominantly black and Latino inmates endure a living death in ever greater numbers.

The yearly state budget crisis in Sacramento is now as regular as the seasons. As Workers Vanguard No. 579 (2 July 1993) commented in “California Killer Cutbacks”:

“In part, the current budget represents the delayed impact of the 1978 Proposition 13 ballot initiative, which put a cap on property tax increases. Prop 13 was a de facto racist referendum aimed against social programs which particularly benefited blacks and other minorities—a convenient scam designed to pit petty-bourgeois homeowners against unions and government workers. The real beneficiaries were large commercial property owners, who in San Francisco alone reaped an annual windfall of some $600 million as a result of Prop 13.”

Some bourgeois pundits are now looking to Prop 13 as a scapegoat on which to hang the crisis and are mooting a partial rollback of Prop 13 with respect to commercial property. However, the same forces that fueled Prop 13 are the motor behind the recall petition, led by the conservative, anti-immigrant, anti-affirmative action, millionaire Republican Congressman Darrell Issa (who now vows to call for a “no” vote on the recall if the Republican vote remains split among two or more candidates, threatening a Democratic victory). In gathering the two million or so signatures to get the recall on the ballot, organizers targeted rural and suburban areas using buzz words like “overspending taxpayers’ money” to appeal to layers hostile to social welfare programs minimally benefiting poor, immigrant, black and Latino residents. At the same time, the recall has tapped into the broader discontent over the fiscal crisis and crippled economy, raising everything from “poor schools” to the energy crisis on which the Enron execs and the other energy companies got rich.

The recall campaign thus contains truly volatile elements of a populist revolt. Davis cried right from the start that the recall was part of a “right-wing conservative agenda” trying to overturn the results of last November’s “legitimate” election. While some on the left imply to the contrary that the recall is a left-wing revolt, such inchoate populist anger can go either way, with the dividing line often being racism or anti-immigrant chauvinism. Right-wingers are whipping up hysteria over the candidacy of Democrat Cruz Bustamante (who is supported by many Latinos), citing his college membership in the Chicano student group MEChA and the fact that he’s backed by money from Native American casinos. But black people know him best as the racist who prompted a walkout when he used the “N” word at a February 2001 meeting of black trade unionists. Meanwhile, Austrian-born actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a member of the advisory board of U.S. English, a national “English-only” group appealing to anti-immigrant racism. (His best known “English-only” remark is “hasta la vista, baby.”) Nor is this recall going exactly as the right wing planned—Schwarzenegger may be running as a Republican but he’s pro-abortion and pro-gay adoptions.

Communist Tactics in Elections

In any capitalist government election, the Spartacist League begins from the standpoint of the Marxist understanding of the state. The government is not a neutral arbiter but the executive committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. At the core of the capitalist state are institutions of organized force and violence—police, courts, prisons, army—dedicated to defending the property of the capitalist rulers. In The State and Revolution (1917), Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin characterized capitalist elections this way:

“To decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and oppress the people through parliament—this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics.”

We have no illusions that the road to bettering the lives of working and oppressed people can be through the ballot box. Since Karl Marx first expounded the lessons of the heroic Paris Commune of 1871, a basic tenet of revolutionary socialism has been that “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.” The working class must seize power and establish its own government to expropriate the capitalist system.

Many capitalist politicians and newspapers nationally have called for curtailing the existing recall provision in the California state constitution as an excess that undermines “legitimate” election results. This provision, which dates from the 1911 reforms of Progressive Party governor Hiram Johnson to break the hold of the Southern Pacific Railroad, is a perfectly good democratic device that we defend, although its current application has some grossly undemocratic aspects. The recall ballot is divided into two parts: the first is a “yes” or “no” vote to recall Davis; the second is a vote for a candidate to replace him if he is recalled. Davis is not allowed to run on the second part, so he could conceivably lose the recall with 49 percent of the vote and be replaced by a candidate who wins by a mere plurality.

The 135-candidate recall “circus” so ridiculed by the capitalist media underscores the effective disenfranchisement of the population under the U.S. two-party system that creates huge obstacles to getting on the ballot, restricting the offerings to Democrats and Republicans and the occasional (today) Green or (historically) Progressive. (SWPer Britton himself is on the ballot as an independent.) As soon as a loophole allowed for easier entry into the race ($3,500 and 65 signatures), a much broader spectrum of candidates emerged. All the same, news articles on the recall focus as much on the candidates’ fund-raising as on the “issues” themselves—indeed, the “election” among the capitalist candidates resembles nothing so much as an auction to the highest bidder!

As Lenin wrote, universal suffrage such as exists in the United States is:

“Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich—that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the mechanism of capitalist democracy, everywhere...on all sides we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor, seem slight...but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics and from an active share in democracy.”

From the beginning, the U.S. Constitution was crafted for this very purpose by, for example, staggering elections and placing the selection of the president in the hands of an electoral college. The Constitution was based on the existence of slavery in half the country, while the electoral clout of the slaveowners was increased by granting them the representation of three-fifths of the slave population. The Civil War threw that provision into the dustbin of history, but the Constitution remains a very difficult document to amend—and black people still have a hard time voting (as in the state of Florida). Today intricate and expensive requirements that vary by state and city virtually forbid any but the Republicans and Democrats from running for state or federal office.

Vote for SWP’s Joel Britton!

Marxists run in elections, as the Spartacist League has in the past, in order to take advantage of the heightened political interest during election time to gain a hearing for our program. But we are opposed in principle to participating in administering the bourgeois state apparatus. We run on a program for socialist revolution as the only solution to the exploitation and racial oppression inherent in capitalist society. Marxists on principle will not vote for a capitalist candidate—we stand for the complete independence of the working class from the bourgeoisie. Under certain circumstances, a small communist organization might call for a vote to a mass reformist workers party, like the Labour Party in Britain, in order to show the workers with illusions in that party that once in power, it would defend the interests of the capitalists and not the workers. Lenin called this “ the same way as a rope supports a hanged man.” In the U.S. where there is no such party, if we are unable to run our own candidates, we have sometimes advocated critical support to a candidate whose electoral program in some key way represents a break with capitalist rule. In this spirit we support Britton’s candidacy.

We support Britton’s statement, “Our campaign demands the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Africa, and elsewhere.” To its credit, the SWP called to defend Iraq against the bloody American invasion. However, Britton also demands, “Bring the GIs home now!” This slogan is an accommodation to the social-patriotic “save our troops” wing of the antiwar movement that preached belief in the reformability of U.S. imperialism, begging the capitalists to “stop the war.” But the struggle against war means a struggle against the capitalist system as a whole. The Spartacist League organized Revolutionary Internationalist Contingents to intervene in the antiwar movement to demand, “For class struggle against the U.S. capitalist rulers! Defend Iraq against U.S. imperialist attack! Down with the UN starvation blockade!”

Furthermore, the U.S. troops are the imperialist armed forces, the instrument of American conquest and enforcers of the capitalist system of exploitation. And “at home” they are no less the enemy of the exploited and oppressed: witness the racist crackdown in Detroit in 1967 carried out by the 82nd Airborne. What would the troops do today “at home”? Last year Bush threatened to militarize the West Coast docks to break the power of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union when it was locked out by the Pacific Maritime Association.

In the 1960s during the Vietnam antiwar movement, the SWP was despised among leftist militants for building a single-issue campaign of class collaboration with the liberal antiwar bourgeoisie. While today it stands to the left in the antiwar movement, the slogan “Bring the GIs home now” leaves open the question of pursuing a similar bloc with a defeatist wing of the bourgeoisie (which so far does not exist). This is particularly true as the SWP has never repudiated its line in the Vietnam antiwar movement, which served to channel leftist students back into the pro-Democratic mainstream.

Furthermore, in the 1960s the SWP advanced the slogan, “Withdraw the troops from Viet Nam and send them to Mississippi,” calling on the federal government to “protect” civil rights activists from racist attack. As we wrote at the time, “So the bourgeois imperialist army, currently engaged in massacring peasants and workers in South Viet-nam, in burning their villages and defoliating their land, and imprisoning the people in ‘strategic hamlets’—this army, says the SWP, should be transferred to the American South! To advocate sending the U.S. Special Forces into Mississippi is treachery to the Negro struggle” (Spartacist election supplement, October 1964). The Spartacist League stood for armed black self-defense against racist terror.

Another cornerstone of Britton’s campaign is “Stop Washington’s economic war against Cuba! Normalize relations now!” The SWP fails to characterize what kind of society Cuba is, leaving the impression that it supports Cuba from the standpoint of Third World national liberation. But Cuba is a country in which the capitalists were overthrown, a huge advance for the workers and peasants, even though it has been ruled from its inception as a deformed workers state by Castro’s bureaucracy rather than the workers themselves. The Spartacist League extends unconditional military defense against all imperialist attacks to Cuba, as we do the other deformed workers states—China, Vietnam and North Korea—while calling for political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy. The SWP is, on the other hand, utterly uncritical of Fidel Castro, whose accommodation to U.S. imperialism has led him to stab in the back countless struggles of workers and peasants throughout Latin America.

In its campaign literature, the SWP makes no distinction between Cuba and North Korea on the one hand and capitalist states that are the victims of imperialist aggression, Iraq and Iran, on the other. In 1979 it actually hailed Ayatollah Khomeini’s assumption of power in Iran as an anti-imperialist victory! Increasingly the SWP has drifted toward enthusiasm for Third World nationalists like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and statements by Islamic reactionary Osama bin Laden have been published in the Militant (see Militant online, 29 October 2001, for an example). Its main public existence is through the Pathfinder book business. While it still publishes Leon Trotsky and James P. Cannon (the only remnants of its once honorable revolutionary past), its press churns out a myriad of books adulating Castro and Che Guevara as well as works by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the late Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso.

In his campaign statement, Britton says, “Stop INS raids and deportations—end ‘no match’ firings!” and in interviews has called for “supporting the fight for equal treatment of immigrants.” The SWP’s idea of such a fight is uncritical support to the AFL-CIO’s Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, which is the union bureaucracy’s vehicle for roping in the Latino vote for the Democrats. In contrast, we call for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and fight within the unions for the mobilization of its members, independent of the capitalist class, in defense of immigrants.

134 “Lesser Evils”?

The remainder of our reformist opponents base their positions in the recall election not on the class interests of the working people but on the inherently subjective index of what’s popular. Accepting the framework of capitalism means that they perforce must tail some existing political entity as an “answer,” seeking to pressure the capitalist state into reforming itself. Depending on which sector of society it is interested in appeasing, each reformist group alters its position on the recall accordingly. For example, when the AFL-CIO tops circled the wagons and committed millions of dollars to defend “friend of labor” Davis to the end, the Communist Party’s People’s Weekly World (30 August) blared, “California Labor Thunders ‘No Recall!’” and approvingly quoted California AFL-CIO head Art Pulaski calling Davis the “best governor for working people we’ve had in 100 years.” A truly pitiful statement of political bankruptcy!

The AFL-CIO tops have no intention of actually mobilizing organized labor’s social power to struggle for what workers really need. Instead they function as the best lackeys for the false “friend of labor” Democrats, who will throw some crumbs to the exploited while they make off with the feast (the Republicans don’t bother to leave crumbs). Gray Davis did overturn some of former Republican governor Pete Wilson’s most anti-labor moves (for example, the recalculation of overtime regulations favoring the bosses), while with the other hand he instituted mass layoffs, pay cuts and slashing of social programs. And when Bush threatened to militarize the docks during last year’s lockout of longshore workers, the Davis administration jumped into the “war on terror” by setting up the California Anti-Terrorist Information Center (CATIC) that conspired with Oakland mayor Jerry Brown in the brutal April 7 police attack against antiwar protesters and longshoremen at the Port of Oakland.

Pleading with the government to cease such attacks builds dangerous illusions that the government can be made to serve the workers’ interests. The Workers World Party correctly points out that “organizing for a no vote on the recall gives legitimacy to the Gray Davis administration” (Workers World online, 4 September). But in the past, the WWP has not balked at voting for capitalist politicians—witness its support for Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Today in California, it advocates a vote for candidate C.T. Weber of the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), a petty-bourgeois formation. Weber campaigns to keep Gray Davis in office, saying, “Vote ‘NO’ on this flawed and dangerous recall” (undated Peace and Freedom Party campaign pamphlet). The PFP might stand for some good-sounding things, like “Free education through the university level.” But Weber’s stand for a “California run by and for working people” is just empty words—the PFP does not stand for a break with the capitalist parties and a fight for a workers government. The PFP is really just a sandbox for homeless leftists who have long since made their peace with bourgeois society. Insofar as they ever acquire influence, the role of such capitalist “third parties” has historically been to get the working class back on the road to electoralism—that is, they act as a shill for the Democrats.

The 1934 gubernatorial candidacy of the author Upton Sinclair provides a useful reminder. Once described as “the Kerensky of the Progressive movement,” Sinclair won the Democratic primary on his program of “End Poverty in California.” At that point, establishment interests launched a major attack: conservatives threw their weight behind the Republicans while the liberals backed the candidate of the Progressive Party. Sinclair narrowly lost the election, but his campaign was a clear example of a bourgeois candidate attempting to pull in leftists who do not have a central commitment to the working class.

Green Party candidate Peter Camejo plays the same role today. The “progressive” stockbroker stands for a “fair tax plan” and “fiscal responsibility”—that is, he hawks himself as a better administrator and fund-raiser for the capitalist government. The International Socialist Organization (ISO) calls Camejo a “genuine progressive” and supported his gubernatorial bid in 2002. But it appears to be split on the question of advocating a vote for him. In a letters column in Socialist Worker (1 August), Bay Area ISO honcho Todd Chretien came out with a crass pro-Democratic Party line, calling to “reject the Republican power grab for what it is and vote ‘no’ on the recall,” then “build a real left-wing alternative” by supporting Camejo. In International Socialist Review (September-October 2003), a document from the ISO Steering Committee advocates abstaining on the recall and, referring to Camejo’s candidacy, says, “If he gives an indication of running a serious campaign, we should have no hesitation about endorsing him again. But at this point, we should reserve judgment.” When ISO members are asked why they don’t support Camejo since their organization went all out for Green Party candidate Nader in his 2000 presidential bid, they reply that Camejo doesn’t have a movement behind him.

It’s clear that the ISO has no class criteria but fixes its political stands based on which way the wind is blowing. With an ostensible socialist, Britton, running on a platform of opposition to the war and occupation and to the capitalist parties, the ISO instead toys with support for the candidate of the “progressive” capitalist Green Party.

In an article opposing support for Democratic “lesser evils,” the ISO argues that “liberals like Kucinich have an important role to play for the Democratic Party. Rather than pulling the party to the left, they pull the left into the party” (Socialist Worker, 22 August). The ISO plays exactly this role outside the Democratic Party. The ISO was the most fervent exponent in the antiwar movement of ever-broader coalitions that delivered outrage over the imperialist rape of Iraq to...the Democratic Party. And to what does the ISO look for an alternative? Another capitalist party, the Greens, which it paints as a progressive third-party alternative to the two parties of “Corporate America.”

A socialist program has to begin by telling the truth about this class society, the necessity for revolution and the task of building a workers party politically independent of the bosses’ parties. As we state in our Programmatic Statement, “For Socialist Revolution in the Bastion of World Imperialism!”:

“The shell game through which the Democratic Party—the historic party of the Confederate slavocracy—is portrayed as the ‘friend’ of blacks and labor has been essential to preserving the rule of racist American capitalism. Our principal task in the U.S. is to break the power of the pro-capitalist trade-union bureaucracy over the labor movement. It is this bureaucracy—itself a component of the Democratic Party—which politically chains the proletariat to the bourgeoisie and is the major obstacle to revolutionary class consciousness, to the forging of a revolutionary workers party.”

No vote to capitalist candidates! For a class-struggle workers party to fight for a workers government! For international socialist revolution to open a new period of human development!


In "California: Vote Yes to Recall Davis!" (WV No. 810, 26 September) we incorrectly implied that Gray Davis set up the California Anti-Terrorist Information Center (CATIC) during the lockout of longshore workers last fall. However, it was set up before that. As we wrote at the time that the sinister role of CATIC came to light, "CATIC was set up and is run not by the Bush administration, but by the governor, Gray Davis, and state attorney general Bill Lockyer, both Democrats, who made it a centerpiece of their re-election campaigns last year" ("'War on Terror'=War on Workers," WV No. 805, 6 June). (Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 812, 24 October 2003.)

Letter: On Cuba and the SWP

Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 816, 26 December 2003

New York
5 November 2003

Dear Workers Vanguard,

Referring to the California gubernatorial campaign of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), to which we gave critical support during the recent recall vote, we wrote: "The SWP fails to characterize what kind of society Cuba is, leaving the impression that it supports Cuba from the standpoint of Third World national liberation" (WV No. 810, 26 September). The SWP platform, as printed in the official state handbook, indeed did not make the point that Cuba is a deformed workers state. But during the campaign, the SWP also described Cuba as follows in an editorial titled, "Campaign for Britton in California" (Militant, 15 September):

"The Cuban Revolution today is a living example that working people have the capacity to transform the world. The road charted in Cuba is necessary and possible in the United States and around the world, too. It is the road of working people developing the kind of leadership that can transform our unions into fighting organizations and lead working people to take political power."

The SWP certainly recognizes that a class transformation took place in Cuba. But the SWP does not fight for socialist revolution in the U.S. and for proletarian political revolution in Cuba itself to oust the Stalinist Castro bureaucracy—i.e., it does not fight for genuine defense of the Cuban Revolution.

Leon Trotsky was a leader of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the first and to date only successful workers revolution. He explained that in the Soviet Union it took a political counterrevolution for the Stalinist bureaucracy to achieve its domination. In the deformed workers states of Cuba, North Korea, China and Vietnam this usurpation of power existed from birth. In Cuba, for example, a petty-bourgeois movement under highly exceptional circumstances—the absence of the working class as a contender for social power in its own right, the flight of the national bourgeoisie and hostile imperialist encirclement, and a lifeline thrown by the Soviet Union—was able to overthrow the old Batista dictatorship and eventually smash capitalist property relations. But the bonapartist regime the Castro clique threw up became a roadblock to extending and deepening the revolution. There is no workers democracy in Cuba—i.e., the working class does not have political power. In the absence of the direct rule of the working class, someone else fills that vacuum, and that someone is Castro and his cohorts.

The overthrow of capitalism in Cuba in 1960-61 has served as an acid test for revolutionaries from the beginning. The Spartacist League originated as the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) in the SWP in 1961-63. The RT reaffirmed that a petty-bourgeois, peasant-based guerrilla movement could not replace the Leninist party of the working class as a revolutionary vanguard. The model Marxist party is the Bolshevik Party that led the Russian Revolution. The SWP emerged from the Cold War in the early 1960s having lost confidence in the prospect of working-class revolution. They eagerly leaped onto the massively popular Fidelista bandwagon, and they have never gotten off. In the WV article on the recall elections, we rightly noted: "The SWP is...utterly uncritical of Fidel Castro, whose accommodation to U.S. imperialism has led him to stab in the back countless struggles of workers and peasants throughout Latin America."

When the SWP gave uncritical support to the petty-bourgeois Castro government, they abandoned a revolutionary proletarian perspective and the vanguard party necessary to bring communist class consciousness to the proletariat, not only in Cuba but elsewhere—witness their talk of the Cuban Revolution being a model for the U.S. working class. Their labeling of the Cuban regime as a "Workers and Farmers Government" was a cover for a bureaucratic caste exercising a monopoly of political power over the working class.

At an October 15 event of the Los Angeles Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba which the SWP helped organize, a Spartacist League comrade spoke from the floor:

"Fidel Castro's policy, which is supported by the Socialist Workers Party and Workers World Party, has been to conciliate the imperialists—like Democratic Party politician Jimmy Carter, who went to Cuba to promote the State Department-funded counterrevolutionary Varela Project. Castro welcomed Carter and gave him a platform just as he did the reactionary Pope.... In contrast to reformist groups like the SWP, we give no political support to the Castro bureaucracy. There needs to be a proletarian political revolution in Cuba to put political power into the hands of the working class organized into soviets. Defense of the gains of the Cuban Revolution means, most importantly, struggling for workers revolution in this country, the imperialist belly of the beast, contrary to Castro's Stalinist ideology of 'socialism in one country' that is supported by the SWP."

With the Boris Yeltsin-led counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in 1991-92, the gains of the Cuban Revolution have been thrown into the gravest danger. The SWP supported Yeltsin in the name of "democratic rights," a position they cover for now by ludicrously claiming that Russia is still some kind of workers state!

The fact of the matter is that the SWP not only glorifies the Castro bureaucracy but also bourgeois third-world nationalists and social movements far more retrograde. In our recall article, we wrote of the SWP: "In 1979 it actually hailed Ayatollah Khomeini's assumption of power in Iran as an anti-imperialist victory! Increasingly, the SWP has drifted toward enthusiasm for Third World nationalists like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and statements by Islamic reactionary Osama bin Laden have been printed in the Militant (see Militant online, 29 October 2001, for an example)."

In 1982 Jack Barnes, then and still today leader of the SWP, formally renounced Trotskyism and permanent revolution. But programmatically and organizationally the SWP abandoned Trotskyism in deed two decades earlier with their embrace of the Castro regime and expulsion of the Revolutionary Tendency, the predecessor of the Spartacist League.

Karen Cole

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