Ernest Germain

Anibal Escalante, Mike Banda and
Whitewash for the Kremlin

(April 1968)

Source: From World Outlook, Paris and New York City, 12 April, 1968, Vol. 6, No. 14.
Translated: by World Outlook.
Transcrition & Marked-up: by David Walters for the Marxists’ Internet Archive 2009.
Public Domain: Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The trial of Anibal Escalante and his “microfaction” in Cuba has been seized on by The Newsletter, the organ of an isolated ultraleft group in Britain that split from the Fourth International, to renew the attack it has been conducting for some years against the Cuban revolution and the world Trotskyist movement. After some initial sniping on the subject, Gerry Healy, the leader of the group, ordered up the heavy artillery; and in the March 16 issue of the weekly, editor Mike Banda turned loose with two entire pages, featuring his contribution under a ten-column headline.

The most revealing passage deals with the Moscow trials. Mike Banda says: “The trial is analogous with the Moscow Trials where people were executed for their alleged intentions and plans – and not for what they did or did not do.”

It is hard to believe that any “Trotskyist,” even a self-proclaimed one, could write these lines. It is absolutely untrue that people were executed in the Moscow trials for alleged ‘intentions and plans.” They were executed for alleged acts of treason.

The monstrous character of these trials did not lie in a perversion of the legal distinction between “intentions” and “acts,” but in the completely slanderous, lying, invented nature of these “acts.” Honest revolutionists were executed under the false accusation of having conspired with Hitler, the Mikado and world reaction in order to overthrow the socialized property relations in the USSR, restore capitalism, and carve up the homeland by agreeing to let the imperialists annex wide areas. They were executed on false charges of having wrecked factories and mines, of having poisoned workers, of having murdered government figures, and of having committed a series of other heinous crimes.

To say that the victims of the Moscow trials were found guilty of only “intentions and plans” is to whitewash Stalin’s falsifications and to minimize the monstrousness of his crimes. But whitewashing the Moscow trials is a necessary part of The Newsletter’s attempt to establish an “analogy” between the Escalante trial and the Moscow trials. Stalin utilized the Moscow trials in exterminating the entire generation of leading Russian Bolsheviks after submitting them to inhuman torture, whereas in Cuba not a single partisan of the Kremlin has been tortured or executed. But aside from this, the central fact remains that all the accusations leveled against the victims of the Moscow trials were completely untrue, fabricated and slanderous. Escalante was not accused of a single thing he did not actually do.

Would Mike Banda venture to maintain that the political views attributed to Escalante were not really his views, the same views to be found in the polemics of the Latin-American Communist parties against Fidel Castro? Would Mike Banda venture to deny that Escalante sought to have the Soviet bureaucracy bring economic pressure to bear on revolutionary Cuba? Does he conclude from his analogy that Zinoviev, Radek and Bukharin actually “intended and planned” to overthrow Stalin with the help of Hitler? It is sufficient to state the case to see that Mike Banda is guilty of a despicable slander against the Cuban revolution, and, by implication, against the victims of the Moscow trials as well.

Freedom of Tendencies and the Struggle Against Bureaucratism

The attitude of the Trotskyist movement toward workers democracy in any country in the world, including Cuba, is crystal clear. It has been stated over and over again. We are in favor of freedom of expression for tendencies that proclaim adherence to the working class, defense of the socialist program and respect for the broad framework of socialized economy in all the workers states, whether they be bureaucratically degenerated, deformed or simon-pure. We are for freedom of the press, for the right to demonstrate and to organize, for all working-class groups. On the other hand, we are for the dictatorship of the proletariat; i.e., under the rules of normal proletarian justice, we are for the punishment of all acts committed against the interests of the workers state.

In our opinion, Escalante should have been tried in such a way that it became clear that sentence was passed on him because of acts committed by him and not because of ideas he held. The way the case was conducted by the authorities was unfortunate, since his ideas and his acts were mixed together. But the verdict itself made it clear that he was condemned because of his acts and not because of his ideas. As Livio Maitan pointed out, Escalante himself made the same distinction. [1]

On the level of principle, the distinction between proletarian democracy and defense of the dictatorship of the proletariat is completely clear. What has made it less clear in practice is the appearance of malignant bureaucratic social layers within the working-class movement.

This is not a new problem. Lenin had to deal with it in Left-Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder. Under normal conditions of working-class democracy, a certain minimum number of rules should be observed inside the labor movement by the members of all tendencies. But bureaucratized trade unions and mass organizations do not abide by the normal rules of working-class democracy. Their bureaucracies have divided loyalties, to say the least. They do not hesitate to collaborate with the bourgeois state apparatus, even with the police and the secret services of imperialist powers, in order to fight against revolutionary “agitators.” Under such conditions, it would be suicidal were revolutionists to prove so naive as to abide by rules which the bureaucrats do not respect in relation to them.

If this holds true between workingclass tendencies and the bureaucracies of the labor movement in the capitalist countries, it applies a thousand times more to working-class tendencies internationally (including those that have conquered power) in relation to the most hardened and privileged of all the labor bureaucracies wielding state power, the Soviet bureaucracy.

Normally, a certain number of selfevident rules should govern relations between workers states. Elementary solidarity and collaboration in face of the class enemy should be observed. A minimum amount of mutual economic and military help should be extended. Ideological differences should be thrashed out by purely ideological means; i.e., through open political discussion. This implies free circulation of the documents of any tendency in any party among the members of any other party; and, within certain limits, even among all the workers of all countries. As long as imperialism endures, this rule would apply only to party documents; and, of course, would not mean that confidential state documents could be freely circulated.

But anybody today who demands that workers states that have escaped the control of agents of the Kremlin should immediately apply such rules must be taken as either a fool or an agent of the Soviet bureaucracy. For it is obvious under the given conditions, in which, in place of workers democracy governing all the workers states, the Soviet bureaucracy exercises a dictatorship over many countries, these rules would turn against workers democracy and become weapons in the struggle of the Soviet bureaucracy to crush its opponents, both at home and abroad.

In the first place, it would mean that they would be applied unilaterally by the anti-Stalinists alone. The Cuban, North Vietnamese, Yugoslav, and Chinese leaders would be asked to divulge all their state secrets to agents of the Kremlin, which, of course, would never hand any of its secrets over to these states. As a result, the Stalinist leaders could maneuver with much greater ease in their efforts to maintain control of the parties they still dominate and to develop factions subservient to them in all the parties where they have lost control.

In the second place, the Soviet bureaucracy does not limit itself to purely ideological means of struggle. It defends its power and privileges by any means, including subversion, economic pressure, and military repression. Information obtained through the naiveté of those who insisted on granting workers democracy to agents of the Kremlin, too, would be utilized exclusively to bring them into line or else to overthrow them. Between Stalin’s attempt to overthrow Tito through a military conspiracy backed by concentrations of troops on the borders of Yugoslavia; Khrushchev’s crushing of the Hungarian revolution through direct military intervention; and Kosygin’s and Brezhnev’s economic blockade of China, there are only quantitative, not qualitative differences.

Anyone who claims that merely “intending” to bring economic pressure to bear against Cuba was a normal thing which the Cuban workers state has no right to punish should also state clearly that any Hungarian Stalinist who merely “intended” to bring on Russian military intervention against his country’s revolution at the beginning of November 1956 was, after all, only representing an “ideological faction” inside the Communist movement and the correct attitude was to let him alone.

The Cuban Revolution and the Soviet Bureaucrac

In the field of Marxist theory, Mike Banda handles himself with all the ease and grace of the proverbial bull in a china shop. “The Escalante trial is another demonstration of the proof that Cuba is a bureaucratic and capitalist dictatorship,” he boldly proclaims. Further on he draws the infamous analogy between the trial of Escalante and the Moscow trials. Are we to assume, then, that the Moscow trials proved that the USSR is a bureaucratic and capitalist dictatorship, too? But for our unlucky “theoretician,” busily whitewashing Stalin, the Moscow trials were not as serious as the trial of Escalante… perhaps they were a lesser evil. (We shall return to this “lesser evil.”)

What about the crushing of the Hungarian proletariat, then? Wasn’t that, to follow Banda’s logic, ample proof of the capitalist character of the Soviet Union? Bringing grist to the mill of all the state capitalist revisionists, Bands. forgets the ABC’s; i.e., that the social nature of the state is not determined by the degree it applies the norms of workers democracy. To proceed otherwise would make it impossible to find a single workers state on this unhappy planet.

The American imperialists, of course, have a better appreciation of the theory of permanent revolution than a clown like Nike Banda. From the moment the Cuban revolution began to actually solve bourgeois-democratic tasks; i.e., began to carry out a radical agrarian reform, the imperialists understood that a mortal conflict had opened between all the propertied classes (including themselves) on the one hand and the revolutionary government on the other. They understood, in other words, that a workers state was being established.

This was officially acknowledged a few years later by the Castro leadership itself. Since then, US imperialism has maintained a tight economic blockade on the Cuban revolution, trying to bring down the Cuban workers state through crippling material shortages and hunger. Up to now, it has not had much success.

Castro not only led a victorious socialist revolution. Ever since the Second Declaration of Havana he has advanced a second fundamental thesis of the theory of permanent revolution which should be of special interest to anyone claiming to be a Trotakyist. Castro is the first leader of a workers state since Lenin and Trotsky to make international extension of the socialist revolution a matter of government policy.

It can be argued whether Castro has done this out of genuine theoretical understanding, out of moral solidarity with the oppressed and exploited in Latin America, or simply out of a pragmatic realization that the Cuban workers state cannot survive, isolated at the doorstep of the imperialist fortress, if the revolution is not extended into the continent of Latin America. Probably all three motives are involved. But the result is of the utmost importance. It vindicates forty years of struggle by the Left Opposition and the world Trotskyist movement. It makes possible a convergence of the revolutionary Marxist movement in Latin America with the tendencies inspired by the Cuban revolution in pursuing the common goal of extending the socialist revolution into several Latin-American countries where prerevolutionary situations obtain today.

The Kremlin has not failed to grasp the historical significance of this position taken by the Cuban leadership. Everywhere, its agents are actively condemning Castro and his followers as “Trotskyists.’ Ernesto Che Guevara, who remains one of their main targets, has been especially singled out as a “Trotskyist adventurer.” This was likewise the line taken by Escalante and his “microfaction” in Cuba itself. All this is another “demonstration of the proof” that Castro and Guevara should be labeled “capitalist dictators,” of course…

When the imperialist blockade was first imposed on Cuba, Castro turned to the Soviet Union for help, and rightly so. So far as we are aware, Mike Banda did not offer at the time to send large quantities of coal, oil and wheat to Cuba. As for revolutionary propaganda, vital as it is, it is not sufficient, unfortunately, to help fill stomachs or to produce electric power, even with the help of Mao’s and Healy’s thought.

There was nothing wrong in Cuba’s turning to the Soviet Union. Banda, who sneers irresponsibly about the $350 million in aid received by Cuba each year from the Soviet Union, remains strangely silent about the $1 billion in aid received from the same source each year by Ho Chi Ninh, whom he admires so much. The revolutionary struggles carried on by the peoples of these two lands in the face of violent aggression from US imperialism have created so much sympathy and such a strong current of solidarity among the workers of the world, including the workers of the Soviet Union [2], that the bureaucracy does not dare refuse a minimum amount of aid to these revolutions. The analogy, however, holds still further. The Kremlin remains faithful to its strategy of “peaceful coexistence” and maintenance of the status quo. It helps the Vietnamese – but only enough to strengthen their resistance, not enough to inflict a crushing defeat on the imperialists. It helps Cuba – but only enough to permit bare survival under the imperialist blockade, not enough to permit the blossoming of genuine socialist economic construction.

In both cases, furthermore, granting of military and economic aid is combined with increasing pressure to modify the revolutionary orientation. In Vietnam this pressure is exerted to bring Hanoi to the conference table with the imperialists, even without the Front for National Liberation, if necessary, and in any case without concern for the revolutionary gains scored by the South Vietnamese masses through countless sacrifices. In Cuba this pressure is aimed at compelling Castro to liquidate the revolutionary strategy projected for Latin America and to give up extending political and material support to revolutionary groups engaged in action to the left of the Moscowled Communist parties.

To complete the picture, it should be added that at this very moment US imperialism is so anxious to block revolutionary developments in Latin America that Vice-President Humphrey is even speaking of accepting “peaceful coexistence” and lifting the blockade, if the Cubans will only stop their revolutionary propaganda and stop helping the LatinAmerican revolution. The parallel action of the State Department and the Kremlin (with the Pentagon skulking in the background) is obvious here.

And it is in such a situation that Banda, instead of denouncing the Kremlin’s conspiracy against the revolution in Latin America and Cuba, instead of leveling his fire and scorn against the way the campaigns of Johnson, Kosygin, and Escalante coincide, rushes to the defense of Escalante and sneers at Fidel, because, you see, the Cuban revolutionist does not dare publicly denounce the Kremlin, being condemned because of the imperialist blockade to polemicize with the Soviet bureaucracy in an indirect way. How low can you sink, Banda? By the same token, why don’t you denounce Ho Chi Mmli’s “silence” about the Kremlin’s counterrevolutionary strategy in Vietnam?

The Class Nature of the Political Conflict

The political degeneration of the Socialist Labour League, of which Mike Banda is a leader, is rooted in its need to justify its existence as a sect separated from the world Trotskyist movement. Because of this need it is unable to remain objective in political analysis; everything is bent to serve the aim of “fighting revisionism.” We warned the SLL leaders repeatedly that by permitting themselves to drift in this way, they could become unconscious instruments of alien social forces. This prediction has now been fully confirmed. The SLL leaders set out by denying that Cuba is a workers state. We have repeatedly shown how this theoretical mistake has led these sectarians into inextricable contradictions and continual revision of the theory of permanent revolution. [3] Revolutionary cadres able to maintain minimum self-discipline and capacity to use the tools of analysis in an objective way would have realized after a few years that they had made a mistake and would have tried sooner or later to correct this mistake.

Occasions for this have not been lacking. The Cubans themselves announced their adherence to Marxism-Leninism. They themselves called their revolution a socialist revolution. They themselves proclaimed the leading role of the proletariat in their revolution. They became established as a working-class tendency far to the left of both the pro-Moscow and pro-Peking Communist parties by rejecting any bloc with the “national bourgeoisie” in struggling for the Latin-American revolution and by clearly stating that this revolution could triumph only as a socialist revolution under a workers and peasants alliance led by the working class. Surely, never in history have we seen any “bourgeois” or “capitalist” party come out for the victory of the socialist revolution and for extending it internationally!

In Cuba itself, the socialization of the means of production and exchange has proceeded much further than in the Soviet Union ten years after the October revolution. In agriculture and trade, it is even further advanced than in the Soviet Union and China today. To picture Cuba, under these conditions, as a “bourgeois state” is, of course, to make a travesty of the elementary principles of Marxism.

But caught in the trap of petty factionalism, and lacking the moral courage to admit a mistake, the SLL leaders have performed one somersault after another until today they have lined up objectively with the Stalinist bureaucracy of the Kremlin against the revolution in Cuba and internationally.

The conflict between the leaders of the Cuban revolution and the Escalante group is, of course, a political conflict; yet it must have a social explanation.

Mike Banda admits that politically Escalante stands for reformist policies in Latin America. Banda admits that the Soviet leaders “are trying desperately to freeze the status quo in Latin America.” So far so good. But what does Castro stand for? Here Banda engages in sleight of hand typical of the school of Stalinism: “Castro, on the other hand, would like to see sympathetic [?], or even less hostile regimes on the mainland in place of military juntas who govern at present. This implies [?] armed struggle against dictatorship, but armed struggle devoid of a working-class basis and under pettybourgeois leadership.”

What nonsense! In Banda’s analysis, social classes are dissolved into vague moralistic notions! You lie, Banda, when you suggest that all Castro wants is to have “military juntas” replaced by “less hostile regimes.” One of the main arguments of both the Social Democrats and the Stalinists against Castro is that he fights against the “constitutional” regimes in Chile and Peru as strongly as against the “military juntas” in Brazil or Paraguay. You keep the truth from your readers when you remain silent about the fact that Castro stands against collaboration with the “national bourgeoisie” and for socialist revolution in Latin America. You revise Trotskyism in the most vulgar way by presenting things as if it were possible for a government that has broken with imperialism and the native propertied classes, that has expropriated the capitalists, to remain “petty bourgeois” and to be based on anything but a workers state. In the theoretical field, the logic of your factionalism has led you to support Nenshevik rushchevism against Trotskyism.

Not only in the theoretical field, unfortunately. For once you become prisoner of the nonsense that the state in Cuba is bourgeois in character, then it is only logical to conclude that it is necessary to “defend” a reformist Kremlin agent like Escalante against the Cuban government. Banda took this position long ago. We predicted what this could lead to, but things have become even clearer than we could have expected at the time. Banda has now reached the conclusion that Castro ‘ s struggle against the Kremlin and its agents, his struggle against the line of peaceful coexistence in Latin America, is a struggle… against the working class!

This may sound incredible. But here it is, spelled out as clearly as one could wish:

“Thus every struggle against imperialism [by Castro] is accompanied or followed by a corresponding repression of the working class. The Escalante faction, by virtue of its historical connections and its social composition, and despite its reformist line stands closer to the Cuban working class than the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leadership of Castro, which continually oscillates between imperialism and the USSR.

“In this sense – and in a very qualified way – the repression of Escalante represents a blow aimed against a section of the working class which has tried to organise itself independently of the Castro-ite apparatus.” (Emphasis in the original.)

There are three criteria which are applicable in judging the social nature of a tendency: program, objective role in society, and social composition. From the viewpoint of program, there is no doubt that the conflict between Escalante and Castro represents the conflict between the reformist, peaceful coexistence line in Latin America and the revolutionary tactics and strategy adopted at the conference of the Organization of Latin American Solidarity. From the viewpoint of objective role in society, Escalante is a direct agent of the Soviet bureaucracy and Castro is the leader of a genuine revolutionary movement, even if it is one whose program does not coincide in all questions with the program of the Fourth International. From the viewpoint of social composition, Banda has concocted out of nothing the “working class” historical connections and “composition” of the Escalante group. In reality, Escalante recruited his followers exclusively from the top layers of the state apparatus. He tried to build a privileged bureaucracy composed of factory managers, their secretaries and families. He lost his job as secretary of the Cuban Communist party because by following this course he alienated the mass of Cuban workers and risked alienating them from the party and the revolution, too.

As for the Cuban Communist party, while its leadership has not yet been democratically elected at a congress, its members have been elected in the shops, factories and farms. It is the only Communist party in the world which has used this type of selection in order to strengthen its ties with the urban and rural working class. And when the first elections of representative bodies took place in Cuba – the elections to municipal committees, or “local power bodies” as they are called officially – the outcome was an absolute majority of workers, 12,565 out of 21,838 members, according to the October 8, 1967, weekly edition of Gramna. Let Banda compare the “social composition” of these bodies with that of the state bodies in the USSR, not to speak of China, and draw the appropriate conclusions.

So, no matter which approach we take in trying to solve the problem of the political and social nature of thecontending groups in Cuba, we reach the same conclusion – the conflict is between leaders of a socialist revolution seeking to extend that revolution internationally and representatives of the Soviet bureaucracy seeking to block that extension. But in this conflict, Banda and The Newsletter support the agents of the Soviet bureaucracy against the genuine Cuban revolutionists [4] and consider them a lesser evil. This shows how much the SLL leaders have degenerated.

If there is a single key question in world politics today permitting a revolutionist to separate friends from foes it is the Vietnamese revolution. Where does Castro stand on this question in comparison to the Kremlin and its agents like Escalante? The Kremlin is unhappy about the splendid development of the Vietnamese revolution – it upsets the apple cart of “peaceful coexistence.” The Kremlin seeks to convince the international working class that it is all right to let the Vietnamese fight alone against the concentrated power of the strongest imperialist country in the world, provided some “material aid” is given (in insufficient quantity). A more revolutionary policy is denounced as “provocative” and “adventuristic,” if not “Trotskyist.

On the other hand, Castro and Guevara, like the Fourth International, have condemned this policy of the international Stalinist movement as dangerously insufficient. They have called for international extension of the revolution as the most effective way to help the heroic Vietnamese masses. They have criticized the Communist parties that limit their action to “peaceful demonstrations” in support of the Vietnam revolution, viewing the struggle the way the Roman spectators viewed the battles of gladiators. On this key question, boo, the Cubans stand far to the left of the Kremlin and the Stalinist parties.

The Vietnamese Communist party leaders, whom Healy-Banda & Co. admire so much, consider Castro and the party he leads to be their closest ally. Again and again they have proclaimed solidarity with the Cuban line. They sent an official delegation to the OLAS conference, which Healy-Banda despise, and they approved the resolutions issued by that conference. By what ludicrous twist of the mind can one then characterize the closest ally of the most outstanding revolutionary fighters in the world today as “bourgeois”?

For the Defense of the Cuban Revolution – Against the Newsletter Fakers Too

Banda makes fun of Livio Maitan’s contention that Escalante and his group “went so far as to wish that the USSR would undertake economic measures which… would lead Castro to correct his attitude!” [5] “He actually dared to WISH [sic] dangerous things,” exclaims Banda. What nonsense! And what counterrevolutionary nonsense, too!

Escalante happens to be a Cuban, not a Russian. In the same way, Ferencz Munich and Janos Kadar were Hungarians, and not Soviet citizens. Both could only “wish” and “ask” for the Soviet bureaucracy to bring down the axe to destroy a living revolution. The real decisions remained in the hands of the Kremlin. But “wishes” that become translated into acts, into attempts to sway people, into theft and transmission of documents, into gathering information, are no will-o’-the-wisp. They have a very concrete reality, a very tragic reality, as the Hungarian and Chinese workers learned to their misfortune. We can only hope that the Cuban working class does not have to learn the same lesson in a similar way.

Escalante knew that the overwhelming majority of the cadres and the masses of Cuban revolutionists favor the Castro line for Latin America. He also knew that the Kremlin and the Latin-American Communist parties oppose this line. So he went to the Russians and told them in effect: “Please apply some pressure. Reduce deliveries of oil and other necessities. Cut the wheat ration. Let them go hungry. Then it will be easier to convince them. We’ll do the rest to reeducate them.”

Can anyone conceive of anything baser than such actions against a revolutionary party and a revolutionary people? Is it possible to find a clearer admission of political bankruptcy, of one’s inability to convince his own party, than the need to stoop to such methods, to try to starve the workers of your own country into submitting to realignment with the Kremlin’s foreign policies.

But Banda has nothing to say by way of condemning the rotten bureaucrats who resort to such methods. He reserves all his scorn for those who denounce such people for what they are – despicable tools of the Kremlin against their own working class. And he goes to the length of lauding as “a section of the working class” that must be defended (!), these very people who are being used by the Kremlin against their own party and against their own state in blackmailing the working class by threatening it with hunger.

If Banda-Healy & Co. were staunch upholders of proletarian democracy at all times and places, no matter what the concrete situation might be, beginning, naturally with their own small movement, one could at least say that they are honest, if dangerously naive, defenders of abstract principles, who inadvertently stumbled into a complex situation where they lost their way.

However, their whole political evolution is such as to preclude such a limited verdict.

First of all, Healy is not a novice in politics. He was already around at the time of the Tito-Stalin conflict. Against Stalin’s attempts to subvert the Yugoslavs, the Tito regime used much stronger methods than those applied by Castro. Many Communist party leaders lost their lives. Many others were imprisoned for long tens. Not once did Healy raise his voice in protest against the reprisals taken by Tito against Stalin’s agents in Yugoslavia.

Furthermore Healy-Banda & Co., who are such staunch defenders of proletarian democracy in the case of others, resorted to physical violence and bourgeois justice to prevent supporters of the Fourth International from distributing a pamphlet to members of their own party telling the truth about a fake “international conference” which their “International Committee” had organized. [6] Presumably it is perfectly proper to distribute Stalinist propaganda in Cuba, but strictly forbidden to distribute Trotskyist literature to members of the SLL!

Last but not least, there is another Communist party in the world today racked by internal strife and differences compared to which the handling of Escalante appears like a model of drawing-room manners. We are referring to the conflict inside the Communist party of China. There a broad section of the party cadres have been accused of the worst crimes in the exact pattern of the Moscow trials. Liu Shao-chi, one of the main leaders of the CCP for forty years, has been accused of “plotting the restoration of capitalism since 1949.” At least a dozen persons have been executed for alleged crimes, which no one can verify. Hundreds of party cadres have been imprisoned, dragged through the streets, humiliated and tortured, without being able to defend their ideas or even to state them. Large workingclass demonstrations have been broken up, sometimes even by means of direct intervention of the army.

But of these events one can hardly find an echo in the pages of The Newsletter, still less the slightest condemnation. A person capable of devoting ten columns to defending the Moscow agent Escalante, claiming that he was tried for “ideas” and not “acts” committed, is incapable of writing a single line to defend Liu Shao-chi against slanderous charges of “crimes” which he never did commit, charges fabricated in the style which the GPU made famous in the Moscow trials. How can anyone have the slightest respect for fakers who simulate indignation about Cuba but who hold their tongues about what goes on in China because they happen to be courting a few pro-Peking trade unionists in Britain?

Our position remains a principled one. We stand for workers democracy everywhere in the world. We stand for workers democracy in our own organizations. We don’t ask for rights which we are not ready to recognize as belonging to other proletarian tendencies.

If Escalante had been put on trial and condemned only because of his views, we would consider his trial a political mistake and a disservice to the Cuban revolution. But notwithstanding confused and sometimes mistaken formulations in his trial, we believe that he was condemned for treacherous acts against the vital interests of the Cuban masses and the revolution in Cuba and Latin America; i.e, for attempting to aid and abet the Kremlin in the use of economic blackmail to bring the Cuban revolution “into line.”

Anyone who challenges the Escalante trial must answer two questions: Was Escalante guilty of such acts? If he was guilty, was it right to condemn him for them? To raise a hue and cry about the Escalante trial without answering these questions is moral fakery.Our duty is to defend the Cuban revolution whatever the shortcomings in workers democracy may be in that country. Precisely because of the worsening economic situation faced by the Cuban revolution, we have the double duty of defending it against the open blockade maintained by US imperialism and the more “subtle,’ more hypocritical, but no less damaging, slow economic strangulation imposed by the Kremlin.

And when fakers of the Newsletter type whitewash the Soviet bureaucracy’s counterrevolutionary pressure against Cuba, when these fakers whitewash and defend the Kremlin’s agents and tools, then we have the revolutionary duty to defend the Cuban revolution against them, too!


1. See Livio Maitan: The Condemnation of Anibal Escalante, in World Outlook, February 23, 1968, p. 155

2. The demonstrations that occurred in the Soviet Union during Castro’s visit there, were the largest and most spontaneous since the end of World War II. Many observers, in fact, were of the opinion that Khrushchev organized a tour for Castro of several Soviet towns in order to gain something for himself out of Castro’s popularity.

3. See Ernest Germain: Marxism vs. Ultra leftism – Key Issues in Healy’s Challenge to the Fourth International [Available from Merit Publishers, 873 Broadway, New York, or from Pioneer Book Service, 8 Toynbee St., London, E.1, England.]

4. We should stress here that even if the Cuban revolution were not yet a victorious socialist revolution and were still in the process of developing in that direction, it would be our duty to defend it against the right-wing Kremlin agents. No Trotskyist in his right mind would have “defended” the leadership of the Indian Communist party against the July 1942 revolutionary upsurge in India under the pretext that the leadership of the upsurge was bourgeois – as it really was! In India, in 1942, the Kremlin served the interests of imperialism as it does in Latin America today.

5. The complete sentence is as follows: “The reference [to the economic blackmail applied by the Kremlin to China] is not at all to an abstract analogy – everyone knows what pressures are constantly exerted on the Cuban leaders; and, according to Raúl Castro’s report, Escalante and his friends went so far as to wish that the USSR would undertake economic measures which, by having very grievous repercussions for the country, could lead Castro to correct his attitude!”

6. The pamphlet was Healy Reconstructs the Fourth International. It is available from Merit Publishers and Pioneer Book Service.

Last updated on 29.12.2011