Workers Vanguard No. 917
4 July 2008
ICLs Trotskyism vs. Socialist Action Reformism
The following WV article, slightly adapted, was produced on June 25 and distributed at the June 28-29 “National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation” in Cleveland, and at the Los Angeles Social Forum the same weekend.
The Socialist Action (SA) groups in Canada and the U.S. and their Mexican cothinkers, the Liga de Unidad Socialista (LUS), held a public conference in Toronto on May 22-25 under the title, “A World in Revolt—Prospects for Socialism in the 21st Century.” Comrades from the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Communist League intervened throughout the conference, which drew upwards of 125 people, counterposing the ICL’s authentically Trotskyist program to the class-collaborationist, anti-Communist reformism peddled by SA.
Also in attendance were the Freedom Socialist Party, the Internationalist Group (IG) and (briefly) the Bolshevik Tendency (BT). Their representatives were treated politely as “comrades”; the IG was even dubbed as “very sincere revolutionaries” by one SA speaker. Socialist Action reserved its venom for us, reflecting the fact that we are the only genuine communist opponents to its social-democratic politics.
The two meetings that attracted the greatest interest were those on perspectives for Latin America and on Cuba, a deformed workers state where capitalist rule has been overthrown. SA and its cothinkers internationally in the fake-Trotskyist United Secretariat (USec) have a long history of giving left cover to bourgeois nationalists, with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez being only the most recent example. In sharp contrast, while we defend the Chávez regime against U.S.-sponsored moves to overthrow him (as in the attempted coup in 2002), the ICL gives no political support to this longtime military strongman, who since winning office in 1998 has ruled over a capitalist state that exists to protect the rule and profit of the bourgeoisie (see “Venezuela: Break with Bourgeois Populism! For Workers Revolution!” WV No. 907, 1 February).
Chávez has used some of the enormous profits from Venezuela’s oil industry to finance social reforms, and his alliance with Castro’s Cuba has won him the enmity of the U.S. rulers. Nonetheless, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie is alive and kicking. Chávez’s populist measures serve not to effect but to deflect a social revolution, binding the working masses more firmly to the Venezuelan capitalist state. While Marxists defend Chávez’s nationalizations against imperialist sanctions, these measures in no way challenge capitalist class rule. A socialist revolution requires the shattering of the capitalist state and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, and must have as its starting point the complete political independence of the working class from the bourgeoisie.
While prettifying the Chávez regime, pseudo-Trotskyists like SA cheered on the forces of capitalist counterrevolution that in 1989-92 destroyed the Soviet Union and the deformed workers states of East and Central Europe—states where capitalist rule had been overturned. Today they take a similar stance toward China, championing imperialist-backed forces like the “free Tibet” crowd. The destruction of the USSR—the world’s first workers state, the product of the 1917 October Revolution led by the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky—was a world-historic defeat for working people everywhere, ushering in a reactionary political period dominated by imperialist triumphalism over the “death of communism.”
The ICL stood for the unconditional military defense of the USSR and the deformed workers states against imperialism and counterrevolution. On the basis of such defense, we fought for workers political revolutions to oust the nationalist Stalinist bureaucracies whose rule paved the way for counterrevolution. We take the same stance today toward the remaining bureaucratically deformed workers states—China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. In this we stand with Trotsky, who even as he was vilified and hounded into exile by Stalin, affirmed the necessity to “remain on the last barricade” in defense of the USSR (“The Class Nature of the Soviet State,” October 1933).
Permanent Revolution vs. Populism in Latin America
The first major session at the Toronto conference was on “Prospects for Socialist Revolution in Venezuela and Latin America,” with presentations by a member of the LUS and, as a featured guest speaker, Celia Hart from Cuba, a professed supporter of both Trotskyism and Cuba’s Castro regime. A comrade from the ICL’s Canadian section, the Trotskyist League/Ligue Trotskyste, spoke early in the discussion. Attacking SA and the LUS for “giving left cover and political support to non-proletarian populist movements and even governments in Latin America,” he continued:
“Forces like Chávez are not a partial solution or a possible road to open up to socialism, but representatives of the enemy class. Trotsky’s program of permanent revolution centers on proletarian class independence from all wings of the capitalists. In his 1930 book, The Permanent Revolution, he wrote: ‘The alliance of these two classes [the proletariat and the peasantry] can be realized in no other way than through an irreconcilable struggle against the influence of the national-liberal bourgeoisie.’ In other words, forces precisely like Chávez, as well as the right-wing neoliberals. History has repeatedly shown that such bourgeois forces are too weak, too tied to imperialism to achieve even the most basic democratic tasks. That requires proletarian revolution.”
In its rush to tail hostile class forces, SA thoroughly perverts Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution. This is captured in a report on the Toronto conference by Canadian SA leader Barry Weisleder in the June issue of Socialist Action. Noting the “challenges” now facing the “revolutionary process” in Venezuela, Weisleder writes:
“According to Permanent Revolution, only by radical independent political action of the working class and its allies can genuine sovereignty, agricultural and industrial transformation, and popular democracy be achieved by the nations oppressed by imperialism.”
This claptrap about “radical independent political action” guts Trotsky’s theory of what distinguishes it from populism or Stalinist “two-stage revolution”: the need for workers revolution to smash the bourgeois state! A revolutionary workers state would expropriate the bourgeoisie and the holdings of its imperialist masters, establish a collectivized economy and fight to extend the revolutionary gains to the imperialist heartland as the only road to advance toward socialism.
Speaking from the floor during the session, Weisleder saluted the “Venezuelan revolution” and Chávez’s bourgeois-nationalist political vehicle, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Later on the round, in an implicit polemic with their Canadian comrade, American SA leaders Jeff Mackler and Gerry Foley tried to distance themselves from Chávez, claiming not to support the government or the PSUV.
But whatever criticisms of Chávez (some) SAers may put forward, they do give his regime political support. This was shown in their support to Chávez’s referendum late last year, which, as even Socialist Action (December 2007) admitted, would have “strengthened the repressive powers of the state.” (Both the BT and IG also refused to call for a “no” vote in this referendum.) Indeed, one of the speakers invited by SA to address the conference was an official representative of the Venezuelan government. Extending a “warm Bolivarian greeting to you all,” Consul General Mirna Quero de Peña thanked “the coordinator of this wonderful event Mr. Barry Weisleder, Federal Secretary of the Socialist Action of Canada, for organizing events of this nature that strongly support our Revolutionary Process.”
For her part, Celia Hart’s stance toward Chávez and his regime is contradictory. On the one hand, she has associated herself with the “Bolivarian Revolution” and has described Venezuela as “advancing slowly toward socialism.” On the other hand, she criticized Chávez for “asking for permission to make the revolution,” for example through last December’s referendum on constitutional reforms. “I’ve been a bit traumatized by all these referendums,” she said at the SA conference. “Every time I hear the word ‘referendum’ I want to draw my revolver.”
Our comrade from TL/LT noted that Celia Hart was correct that you can’t “petition to make a revolution”; the answer, however, was “not to look to pressure bourgeois forces to the left.” What is necessary is the forging of an independent revolutionary workers party that fights for the overthrow of the bourgeois order. In response to our comrade, Hart elaborated on her attitude to Chávez, saying that she supports him in the same way Trotsky supported Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1930s. An ICL comrade took this up, pointing out that this analogy speaks against political support to the Chávez regime. Trotsky defended Lázaro Cárdenas’ nationalization of the Mexican oil industry against imperialist retaliation while calling for proletarian opposition to his regime. Our comrade addressed this further in the question-and-answer session with Hart the next day, pointing out that Lázaro Cárdenas’ “role was really to build the party that ruled the country for 70 years, the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party], and to subordinate the workers, their unions, to the state. That is why I was comparing Chávez to Lázaro Cárdenas, and how Trotsky at the time he lived in Mexico did not politically support Lázaro Cárdenas, but the action, the nationalizations.”
Proletarian vs. Bourgeois Democracy
Our predecessors in the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) of the American Socialist Workers Party (SWP) were unique in maintaining that Cuba had become a bureaucratically deformed workers state in the summer-fall of 1960. The RT were militant defenders of Cuba against imperialism; at the same time they pointed to the qualitative distinction between the Castro regime and a healthy workers state, such as the Soviet workers state in its early years under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky.
In Cuba the working class is deprived of political power, which instead rests in the hands of a parasitic bureaucracy that is hostile to proletarian democracy. Like all Stalinist bureaucracies, the regimes of Fidel and now Raúl Castro have been wedded to the nationalist dogma of “building socialism in one country.” Further progress toward socialism would require an additional revolution, a proletarian political revolution to sweep away the Castro bureaucracy, establishing organs of workers democracy and installing a revolutionary internationalist regime. The RT vigorously combated the false viewpoint that Che Guevara and Castro were “unconscious Trotskyists,” peddled by the likes of the SWP leaders, who sought to obviate the need for a Trotskyist party to provide revolutionary leadership. (See “Trotskyism vs. Castroism—Defend the Cuban Revolution!” WV No. 915, 23 May.)
At the session on Cuba, two of the panelists, Celia Hart and Socialist Action international editor Gerry Foley, essentially sought to reconcile Trotskyism with political sympathy with Guevara. Hart was largely uncritical of the Cuban regime while Foley offered a few criticisms from a social-democratic vantage point. (The third speaker, Esteban Volkov, mainly recalled the terror meted out by the Stalinists in Mexico against his grandfather, Leon Trotsky.)
Hart sought to repel Foley’s criticisms of Cuba for denying “freedom of the press” by citing Trotsky’s work Terrorism and Communism (1920). In this work and Lenin’s The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918)—written while Soviet Russia was besieged by external and internal enemies—the leaders of the October Revolution exposed the anti-Communist machinations of the German Social Democrat Karl Kautsky who, like SA today, made common cause with imperialism in the name of “democracy.” As Trotsky argued, the Bolshevik regime had quite justifiably repressed the bourgeois liberals as well as the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries as they became open agents of the White Guards and imperialists who sought to drown the revolution in blood during the Civil War of 1918-20.
As Trotskyists, we understand that defense of the Cuban deformed workers state and its collectivized property relations requires repressing the bourgeois class enemy, which aspires to reconquer power. We support measures taken in defense of the Cuban Revolution, including the imprisonment of those “dissidents” who are actively collaborating with U.S. imperialism. But we give no credence to the Cuban bureaucracy’s ability to clean up the counterrevolutionaries. We recognize that the Castro regime’s measures of state repression, including its press laws, are directed against the workers and the left as well as bourgeois opponents (as was evident when the regime smashed the printing plates of Trotsky’s The Permanent Revolution in 1961).
We are for workers democracy—the working class must exercise its rule through workers councils, elected from among parties that defend the gains of the Cuban Revolution. As a norm, all groupings which do not actively work to overthrow the workers state should have freedom of expression. How to deal with counterrevolutionary groupings must be determined by such particular factors as their nature and following as well as the international situation.
A classic example of anti-working-class repression by the Castro regime was the persecution of the Cuban Trotskyists, the Revolutionary Workers Party (POR, affiliated with the international tendency led by Juan Posadas), in the early 1960s. Guevara was in the forefront of the anti-Trotskyist baiting. As underscored by the ICL speaker, a comrade from the Grupo Espartaquista de México (see box), our organization vigorously defended the POR at the time, including denouncing their jailing to Guevara himself. Celia Hart wrongly sought to play down this crime, stating that “Revolutionaries make mistakes. I don’t think it was a really grave error.” Hart asserted that it was Che who got the Trotskyists out of jail. But the POR comrades were only released in exchange for a pledge on their part to disband their organization.
The persecution of Cuban Trotskyists was not an “error”; they were consciously targeted by the Stalinist Castro/Guevara bureaucracy because they were defenders of the Cuban Revolution who fought for workers democracy. As a POR member explained to a Spartacist comrade at the time: “We fight in order that state power may pass totally to the masses; in order that communes and soviets—which are the masses’ political organs of expression—may be organized and function; in order that the masses may intervene and directly participate in all the administrative processes of economic production and distribution, thus preventing bureaucratization. We struggle for self-administration of the masses and not mere obedience of orders imposed from above” (“Freedom for Cuban Trotskyists!” Spartacist No. 3, January-February 1965).
Responding to Hart and implicitly also to our intervention, SA leader Foley claimed that Terrorism and Communism was merely an “early book” of Trotsky’s, after which he “reconsidered some things” and made a “self-criticism.” According to Foley, one such “self-criticism” concerned the banning of factions in the Communist Party in early 1921 which, according to Foley, was one of the “mistakes” that “fostered the development of the bureaucracy.” The view that “bureaucratic excesses” in Lenin’s Russia led to Stalinism is a favorite hobbyhorse of social democrats, who thereby seek to discredit communism itself. In fact, the ban on factions—implemented at the time of the counterrevolutionary uprising at the Kronstadt naval base near Petrograd—was an emergency measure taken by the young beleaguered workers state that was always understood by Lenin, Trotsky and other Bolshevik leaders to be temporary.
More to the point, SA’s interest is not a debate over a particular tactic to defend the dictatorship of the proletariat. Rather, Socialist Action and its allies are themselves Kautskyan opponents of working-class rule who support the forces of counterrevolution in the name of “democracy.” The USec’s flagship French section, the LCR, has called for “free elections” in Cuba, code words for “democratic” counterrevolution, for the “electoral” rise to power of capitalist-restorationist forces financed by U.S. imperialism, intent on destroying the workers state and wreaking massive repression, if not a bloodbath, against workers and Communists.
Similarly, in an article titled “What the Upheaval in the Soviet Union Means,” the September 1991 Socialist Action declared: “Many stood ready on the barricades, prepared to battle troops and tanks in the cause of democracy and a better life.” Whose barricades? Those of Boris Yeltsin, whose U.S.-backed countercoup that August opened the floodgates for the destruction of the USSR. While the ICL called on Soviet workers to “Defeat Yeltsin-Bush counterrevolution!” SA unambiguously backed Yeltsin in the name of “democracy.” Not only did SA support Polish Solidarność, the anti-Communist spearhead for counterrevolution in East Europe, it went so far as to adapt the Solidarność logo for the masthead of its newspaper!
SA on East Germany: “Self-Determination” and Counterrevolution
SA’s assault on Bolshevism in the name of “democracy” took full flower on the last day of the conference in a session featuring Bryan Palmer, author of James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890-1928, a new biography of the historic leader of American Trotskyism. (See “A Biography of James P. Cannon,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 60, Autumn 2007). During the discussion, a TL/LT speaker cited Cannon’s “political legacy of unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union,” noting that this “has been trampled on by virtually every self-styled Trotskyist group.” She then cited SA’s support for the counterrevolutionary annexation of the DDR (East German) deformed workers state by West German imperialism, quoting excerpts from an article in the February 1990 Socialist Action. The article states:
“It is therefore essential for revolutionary Marxists to take a position, without any ambiguity, for the right to self-determination and for the reunification of the German nation. No conditions. No preconditions. This is a fundamental democratic right....
“East Germany is certainly an oppressed country. It is oppressed by the Soviet Union, which denies it the right to self-determination.”
Denouncing SA’s overt anti-Communism, our comrade added: “You got what you wanted, and the masses got capitalist misery. I want to contrast what the ICL did. We fought tooth and nail in East Germany and in the former Soviet Union against the counterrevolution, to the last barricade. Our fight for proletarian political revolution was predicated on defense of these workers states against capitalist restoration.”
SA’s Gerry Foley responded: “When the East German people had the right to choose they chose to join Germany, because the split had been imposed by the occupation powers, and their idea was: we’re one nation, we should join. Nobody could stop them from doing that. We couldn’t have stopped them from doing that; we respect their right to do it.” According to SA, the Soviet army that liberated Germany from the Nazi scourge was an “occupation power” just like U.S. imperialism, while the DDR, which received substantial material aid from the USSR, was “oppressed by the Soviet Union”!
The upsurge of the East German masses against bureaucratic rule that began in late 1989 posed pointblank the need for a Leninist-egalitarian party to lead the fight for workers and soldiers councils and proletarian political revolution. This was the program the ICL fought for, and its power was particularly evident in the 250,000-strong demonstration on 3 January 1990 against the fascist desecration of a monument honoring the Soviet soldiers in East Berlin’s Treptow Park and in defense of the USSR and DDR. We initiated the call for this mobilization, which was taken up by the ruling Stalinist SED-PDS party because it feared how much our program resonated among East Berlin workers and felt compelled to mobilize its base. The ICL’s fight for workers political revolution in the DDR combined with socialist revolution in West Germany—the revolutionary reunification of Germany—was a direct challenge to the sellout of the DDR to West German imperialism that was in the end carried through by the Moscow and East Berlin Stalinists. SA stood on the other side, the side of capitalist counterrevolution.
In elevating the self-determination of nations above defense of the workers state, Foley brazenly falsified the Bolshevik record. “They want to attack us for capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe,” he said of the ICL. “If you want to attack us on that, why not attack Lenin and Trotsky? They respected the self-determination of the Finns. They allowed Finland to break off from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union although it was a bourgeois state.”
What are the facts? The course of the October Revolution was directly linked to the Bolsheviks’ fortunes in the ensuing Civil War. In a 1922 pamphlet defending the Soviet regime against charges by pro-imperialist social democrats that it had violated the right of national self-determination (in this case in Georgia), Trotsky pointed out that “the ‘democracies’ of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and even of Poland, owe their existence to the fact that, at the critical moment of their creation, foreign military forces were supporting the bourgeoisie and oppressing the proletariat” (“Social Democracy and the Wars of Intervention in Russia: 1918-1921”). If the revolution did not spread to these countries, it was also due to the weakness of the Red Army, which could not be on all fronts at the same time and was often obliged to withdraw from a secured position in order to concentrate its forces elsewhere. As Trotsky wrote:
“We do not only recognize, but we also give full support to the principle of self-determination, wherever it is directed against feudal, capitalist and imperialist states. But wherever the fiction of self-determination, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, becomes a weapon directed against the proletarian revolution, we have no occasion to treat this fiction differently from the other ‘principles’ of democracy perverted by capitalism.”
SA, in contrast, wields the “principles” of bourgeois democracy against the proletarian revolution.
For Authentic Trotskyism—Reforge the Fourth International!
Our comrades also took out SA’s work on the “home front,” showing how their anti-Communism abroad flows from fealty to their “own” capitalist rulers. In Canada, this is refracted through support to the social-democratic New Democratic Party; in the U.S. through campaigns for “unity” with a wing of the capitalist Democratic Party. SA National Secretary Jeff Mackler’s presentation in the session titled “U.S. Imperialism in Crisis” focused on promoting a “National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation” in Cleveland in late June. The publicity for this gathering, of which SA is a key animator, calls for a “united mobilization of the antiwar majority” in the U.S. Mackler proudly recounted that among its endorsers are the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), a group of self-described “grassroots activists” in the Democratic Party, the other party of the American ruling class. The PDA as well as a local chapter of the capitalist Green Party are both on the “coordinating committee” of the Cleveland assembly. An ICL comrade skewered SA’s overtly class-collaborationist perspective:
“The coalitions Socialist Action helped build in the U.S. are single-issue, cross-class coalitions calling for everyone to unite under the slogan ‘Troops out now.’ That’s a call to unite the working class and oppressed with their own oppressors, members of the capitalist class who for their own reasons oppose the war. You can either look to the working class and oppressed to fight independently of the capitalist class, or you can tailor your demands to be acceptable to ‘antiwar’ capitalist politicians to help build the ‘biggest possible movement’.”
Neither Mackler’s presentation nor the official call for the Assembly included opposition to the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan. At a later session, one of our comrades noted that this is hardly an accident: the wing of the Democrats that SA is courting wants to get out of Iraq precisely in order to strengthen the U.S. military presence elsewhere, including Afghanistan and also East Asia, where their central target is China.
At the antiwar session, Mackler launched a broadside against us, listing a series of political charges ICL comrades had made against SA while trying to mock us for calling for critical support to his electoral campaign for the U.S. Senate in California in 2006: “If you really believe I did all those horrible things, how could you ever endorse such a monster?” Our support to Mackler’s campaign was premised on the fact that, standing as an avowed socialist against the capitalist Democratic and Green parties, it drew a crude class line. “At the same time,” we noted, “clearly, the reformist, ‘Anybody but Bush’ content of SA’s program is an obstacle to revolution” (WV No. 876, 15 September 2006). Indeed, our principled campaign of critical support to Mackler gives the lie to SA’s assertion that we are “sectarian.”
Gerry Foley asserted that “Formally, we would agree on all the same principles as the Spartacist League: permanent revolution, class independence, the need to build a revolutionary party.” He continued, noting that in fact, “We have nothing in common with them, despite the apparent concordance of the principles. With Che Guevara, we have 90 percent in common with him, although there are certain essential aspects of the Trotskyism which we profess that he didn’t understand.”
Foley is right that SA and the ICL have little in common, despite SA’s occasional lip service to Trotskyism. But his statement that SA has 90 percent in common with Che is false. The ICL has many criticisms of Guevara, but he fought to the end of his life against U.S. imperialism, whereas Mackler, Foley & Co. are rank social democrats who have been sucking up to the U.S. imperialists for decades.
Socialist Action looks back nostalgically on the reformist SWP under Joseph Hansen. According to Foley, “In the 1960s and 1970s, the SWP was tested and it was proven by the test,” and it remained a healthy revolutionary party until 1979 when supposedly everything changed under the Jack Barnes clique. In fact, the 1963 expulsion of our predecessors in the Revolutionary Tendency was an organizational handmaiden to the political degeneration that the SWP was already undergoing. Following the November 1963 Kennedy assassination, SWP leader Farrell Dobbs sent a sniveling telegram of condolence to the widow of the imperialist chief who ordered the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba! By the mid-1960s the rapidly rightward-moving SWP had become reformist, definitively burying the last remnants of a class-struggle program in order to achieve a political alliance with bourgeois elements opposing the Vietnam War. Some years later, this popular-frontist alliance was sealed in blood as the SWP unleashed goons to expel members of the Spartacist League and Progressive Labor Party protesting the presence of Democratic senator Vance Hartke at the July 1971 conference of the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC—the model for SA’s “antiwar movement” today).
The ICL has sought to maintain the thread of Marxist continuity based on the heritage of Cannon and the revolutionary SWP, as we fight to reforge a Fourth International that Trotsky would recognize as his own. We urge youth and workers seeking a revolutionary alternative to examine our record, and join us in our struggles.
In the article “ICL’s Trotskyism vs. Socialist Action Reformism” (Workers Vanguard No. 917, 4 July), we implied that Celia Hart opposed Hugo Chávez’s December 2007 referendum. We wrote:
“For her part, Celia Hart’s stance toward Chávez and his regime is contradictory. On the one hand, she has associated herself with the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ and has described Venezuela as ‘advancing slowly toward socialism.’ On the other hand, she criticized Chávez for ‘asking for permission to make the revolution,’ for example through last December’s referendum on constitutional reforms. ‘I’ve been a bit traumatized by all these referendums,’ she said at the SA [Socialist Action] conference. ‘Every time I hear the word “referendum” I want to draw my revolver’.”
In fact, Hart was a strong supporter of a “yes” vote and sought to give it a “Trotskyist” coloration. She wrote in her article “Leon Trotsky Says ‘Yes’ to Constitutional Reform—Last-Minute Trotsky Announcement Before the Dec. 2 Referendum in Venezuela”: “The purpose of this hurried note is to declare that the Trotskyists of the world, those who deserve to be taken into account, are FOR the ‘Yes’ vote” (Labor Standard online; translated from www.aporrea.org, 1 December 2007).
Hart expressed skepticism about making a revolution through a bourgeois electoral process and made criticisms of Chávez. But her bottom line was to take Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” as good coin—her point was that Chávez should have gone ahead with his “reforms” without any referendum.
Our article “Venezuela: Break with Bourgeois Populism! For Workers Revolution!” (WV No. 907, 1 February) noted that while promising some social reforms, the December referendum was centrally aimed at strengthening the repressive powers of the Venezuelan capitalist state. As Trotskyists, i.e., genuine Marxists who fight for socialist revolution to smash the bourgeois state, we were for a “no” vote on Chávez’s referendum. (From WV No. 919, 29 August 2008.)