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International Socialist Review, Winter 1963


Luis Vitale

Fidelismo and Marxism


From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.1, Winter 1963, pp.23-24, 32.
Transcribed by Daniel Gaido.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A forward step of the Cuban Revolution pushes the realignment of political forces in Latin America into “movements of a new type.”

The present article is from a book published in Chile by the Partido Obrero Revolucionario. The book, Cuba Denounces Bureaucracy and Sectarianism, with speeches by Fidel Castro on March 1 and March 26, and selections from further speeches on this subject by Castro and Guevara, contains also an analysis by the author, part of which is published here. Luis Vitale is secretary of the Movement of Revolutionary Forces of which Clotario Blest is president. At this writing, Blest is in jail and Vitale is being hunted by the Chilean police as a result of their participation in street demonstrations in Santiago in defense of the Cuban Revolution against Kennedy’s blockade.

The best guarantee for making secure the Cuban Revolution – and for preventing the resurgence of new Escalantes, Pomapas and Garruchos – is an outbreak of the revolution in every one of the countries of the continent. [Aníbal Escalante, old-line Communist Party leader in Cuba, followed a Stalinist bureaucratic policy and was denounced by Castro in his March 26, 1962 speech. – Ed.] The truly revolutionary nuclei of Latin America have been fortified by the campaign against sectarianism and bureaucracy, and the Cuban Revolution – as Fidel says in his speech – has once more gained in prestige among the Latin American masses.

The New Forces Liberated by the Revolution

Every social revolution has a decisive impact on the masses and its leadership, not only in the country where it is taking place but also on all the anti-imperialist and workers superstructures of the world. The example of a revolution – whether it triumphs or not – produces crises in the different parties, crises which take on different characteristics depending on the relative revolutionary growth of the masses of each country. The important thing is that every revolution liberates new forces; that it speeds the contradictions between the rank and file and the bureaucratic leadership; that it gives rise to processes of differentiation, centripetal and centrifugal tendencies, violent ruptures, the birth of new organizations.

The European revolutions of 1848, especially the French Revolution, produced a crisis of the bourgeois “democratic” parties and speeded the breaking away of the proletarian wing, making possible the creation of the first mass workers parties. In 1871, the heroic Paris Commune demonstrated conclusively that the conditions were ripe for revolution in the developed countries, as well as the road and the forms which the revolution would take.

The lessons which the revolutionists drew from the Paris Commune brought about a process of differentiation within the Social Democratic parties. The Russian Revolution of 1905 not only demonstrated that conditions were ripe for social revolution in the highly industrialized countries, but that this was also the case in the under-industrialized ones. As a result the Bolshevik revolutionary wing widened its separation from the reformist Mensheviks. This differentiation within the Russian Social Democratic movement was transferred to all the Social Democratic parties of the world. But, the revolution which liberated the most forces was the Russian Revolution of 1917. It gave rise to a polarization of all the tendencies of the worker movement. That is how the communist parties arose, principally from the break of the new revolutionary forces with the corrupt reformism of the Second International.

The Chinese Revolution (1926) and the Spanish Revolution (1936) – and its later defeat – as the result of the betrayal of that great organizer of defeats (Stalin, leader of the degenerated Third International) made clear the urgent necessity for building a new Marxist-Leninist leadership; and thus the Fourth International was born (in 1938), with the help of militants who had broken with Stalinism and reformism. The revolutionary process in the post-second world war period caused crises in all the traditional parties. It even extended to the area of Eastern Europe; the uprisings of East Germany (1953) and Poznan, prepared the ground for the violent clash between the masses and the bureaucracy, freeing new forces which culminated in the first great political revolution which history has produced – the Hungarian Revolution (1956). The crisis of Stalinism reached worldwide proportions; an appreciable number of communists broke with their party and others stayed within it creating a series of tendencies.

Fidel’s victory is the most vivid example of a revolution’s impact. The Cuban Revolution, in this sense, is for the Latin American masses what the Chinese Revolution is for the people of Asia and what the Algerian is for the Arabs and the Africans. The Cuban Revolution has posed in a striking manner the question of the struggle for power, national and social liberation in a short period of time, in each of the Latin American countries.

The contradictions have become sharper between those sections of the rank and file who want to proceed rapidly along the revolutionary road and those leaders who want to bridle them. This is the reason for the schisms in the Latin American parties. All the superstructures of the anti-imperialist and workers movements begin to break down and new revolutionary forces begin to gain ground. This has taken place from north to south. In the small countries of Central America new movements have arisen which engage in guerrilla struggles to overthrow the pro-imperialist and oligarchic governments, in the Dominican Republic, the Movimiento Popular Dominicano, whose leader, Lopez Medina, struggles to make his country “the second Socialist Republic of Latin America.” In Jamaica, coincident with the struggle for the independence of their country (1962), several revolutionary groups were organized, among them a Trotskyist one. In Mexico, new revolutionary alignments are beginning to be formed. In British Guiana, Cheddi Jagan has triumphed. In the very heart of the anti-imperialist movement an anti-capitalist wing fortified itself.

In Colombia, seven revolutionary groups joined in 1962 to form the Frente Unico de Acción Revolucionaria (United Front of Revolutionary Action), and new guerrilla fronts have been established. In Venezuela, Accion Democrática was split and from its core the powerful Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (Movement of the Revolutionary Left) was formed – its most militant wing carried out the uprisings at Carupano and Maracaibo in the early months of 1962. In Brazil, a new movement was born – the Peasant Leagues. While to the west of Brasilia the guerrilla war phase has been initiated. The Brazilian Communist Party is undergoing one of the most serious crises in its history; a strong nucleus has broken with the Party while others continue the struggle within as a pro-China and pro-Cuba wing. The (Brazilian) Socialist Party has also suffered the loss of several militants who have formed a new class organization. Inside of the Partido Trabalhista (Workers Party) an intense process of differentiation has taken place since Janio Quadro’s fall. In Ecuador the Aranjista left wing has been fortified and a hard-driving organization, the Movimiento de la Juventud Revolucionaria Ecuatoriana (Movement of the Revolutionary Ecuadorian Youth), was formed which has already begun guerrilla warfare. In Peru, APRA broke up and from its ranks sprang APRA Rebelde. From the break-off of a Communist Party nucleus, a Marxist-Leninist group has been formed. The Peruvian Trotskyist movement (POR) is developing on a mass scale and its leader, Hugo Blanco, in 1962 began guerrilla warfare at the head of 72,000 campesinos from the valley of Convención in the department of Cuzco. In Bolivia, the MNR (National Revolutionary Movement) is in a state of permanent crisis; workers and miners of COB (Bolivian Central Labor Council), together with POR, struggle to find a revolutionary solution. In Chile, the Socialist Party has been shaken by an intense process of differentiation and its rank and file demand the application of the line of the Workers’ Front. An anti-imperialist faction broke away from the Partido Radical and founded the Movimiento Social Progresista in 1961. Valuable revolutionary militants continue to break away from the Communist Party. From the labor movement leaders like Clotario Blest, sprang forth, who adopted a revolutionary line, and who together with other groups VRM, POR, PRT, anarchists), have formed the Movimiento de Fuerzas Revolucionarias (Movement of Revolutionary Forces). In Argentina, the Socialist Party has been shattered; the Peronista movement entered a period of complete crisis and within it there have developed tendencies which are not only anti-imperialist but anti-capitalist as well. The Radical Intransigence Party has been smashed into a thousand pieces. Trotskyist groups have developed at the same time that other groups like Praxis y Mira have been formed. In Uruguay, the internal crisis of the Socialist Party became more severe; the Paysandú group was formed; the POR established itself and a great movement in support of Cuba developed. In Paraguay the nucleus which directs the guerrilla warfare continued in operation.

What are the Characteristics of the New Forces?

The new forces liberated by the Cuban Revolution are essentially different from those which were promoted by the nationalist movements of the post-war period. Peronismo, Varguismo, Velazco-lbarrismo, Ibanismo, etc., were movements which, basing themselves on the proletariat, hoped to offer some resistance to imperialism in order to be able to negotiate with it under better conditions, but within the concept of bourgeois-nationalism. On the other hand, the movement led by the petty bourgeoisie, like APRA, MNR, Arbenz in Guatemala, Acción Democrática, etc., quickly capitulated to the bourgeoisies, thereby giving rise to pro-capitalist governments which did not differ in any way from previous ones.

The new forces liberated by the Cuban Revolution back a program which clearly sets them apart: support of Socialist Cuba. This involves the majority in the carrying out of a program, not only of national liberation and Agrarian Reform, but also of social liberation. But what is more important, many of the militants of the new movements have reached the conclusion that without a social revolution there is no effective way of achieving national liberation and agrarian reform. The new forces’ methods of struggle are openly revolutionary: the majority rejects the road of the ballot box; it poses the need for and carries out guerrilla warfare and direct action in the cities through struggles in the streets and general strikes, and in the countryside, the occupation of the land. In addition, those parts of the new forces who are of a petty bourgeois origin, have a different attitude from that assumed by the petty bourgeoisie after the second world war. In accordance with the present radicalization of the middle class, activities are carried out with revolutionary methods. They take as a model the socialist road taken by the Cuban Revolution and, as a consequence, they not only come under the influence of the anti-imperialist program but of the anti-capitalist one as well.

It is for these reasons that we dare to characterize the new forces liberated by the Cuban Revolution as being intuitively class conscious and revolutionary as well, and, consequently, decidedly more anti-imperialist.

The role of conscious revolutionaries is to know how to differentiate these new forces from those of bourgeois or petty bourgeois tendencies which claim to support Cuba, which give lip service to the Cuban Revolution with the end of blackmailing imperialism and the oligarchies, in order to be in a better position to make deals with them and to channel the drive of the masses. Other bourgeois tendencies, like del Castillo, Alejandro Gómez and other bourgeois elements of Argentina demagogically support the Cuban Revolution to help them win elections. The Communist parties and Socialist parties pursue similar ends, although their rank and file militants feel support for the Cuban Revolution in a different way from that of the leadership. Today all these political superstructures have felt the impact of the Cuban Revolution, but none of them can be reformed. They can only be used to form very well defined Anti-Imperialist United Fronts, and for the very precise purpose of mobilizing the masses. For these reasons, it is very dangerous for the new revolutionary forces to form indiscriminate fronts with the traditional parties and much less to propose the formation of new parties and movements with them merely because at the present time they give “lip service” to the Cuban Revolution.

Tendency toward Realignment of the New Forces and the Revolutionary Movements of the New Type

The forces liberated by the Cuban Revolution show a very marked tendency toward realignment. As they are still very fragmented they have a tendency to unite. They understand the need to struggle together with other revolutionary groups to accelerate the downfall of capitalism which they see approaching closer every day. They see the need to break through the cobwebs of prejudice against the older revolutionary groups, like that against the Trotskyists. They press the old cadres to be done with sectarianism and to work out the differences between Marxist groups.

The revolutionary realignment – which has already begun in several Latin American countries – takes on different forms. In some cases it is formed by the union of Marxist forces alone. In others, it is formed by the union of Marxist with non-Marxist yet class-conscious groups who favor the road of revolution.

These new forces tend to regroup on the basis of a program of immediate action which will speed the revolutionary process. The majority are allergic to twaddle, to never-ending verbalism of the traditional labor parties. They want action, but at times they do not know how to carry it out. That is why in the heart of these forces “infantile-extremist” tendencies develop which mechanically prepare guerrilla warfare everywhere or any other ill-conceived type of direct action which brings disaster to the workers. This deviation is more common in those groups where there is a greater number of the desperate petty bourgeoisie.

In some countries the realignment has been confined to the formation of a new type of revolutionary movement. We say that they are of a new type because they are not formed in the mold of the traditional labor parties of Latin America. As a general rule, they reject the road of the ballot box. They carry out direct actions with the ever present prospect of taking over power. They have a certain amount of contempt for theory. Their program is revolutionary even though in some cases they do not want to stamp it as Marxist. Not only are they anti-imperialist movements but anti-capitalist as well because their program is the program of the Cuban Revolution. They are very suspicious of those political figures and tendencies which for years have been talking about “national liberation” but have done nothing to achieve it.

These movements – wherein they have gathered – have not yet taken on a mass character, but they are the beginnings, the pole around which the best of the revolutionary vanguard begins to be polarized. The young workers and students have no faith in the traditional parties and they look with sympathy on the formation of new movements. The communist and socialist militants who break with their parties now have a new pole around which to direct their activities.

A Unified Revolutionary Movement for All of Latin America?

The pro-Cuba, Fidelista, pro-Castro current has become generalized among the vanguard of the Continent. But it has not yet assumed a concrete or organized form. The revolutionary forces in each country are trying to establish contacts with similar forces in other countries. That is why we deem it important to propose the propaganda slogan – for the present – of forming a Latin American revolutionary movement which will gather within one broad organization all revolutionary tendencies. It would be an error to pose this as the immediate formation of a United Centralized Party. Preliminary steps must be taken; differences between revolutionary groups have to be worked out in life. It is because of this that we would dare to propose for purposes of agitation the slogan of a Latin American Conference of Movements, Groups and Revolutionary Workers Parties.

The Strategy of the United Revolutionary Front

The characteristics being acquired by the new type revolutionary movements are propitious for the application of the strategy of the United Revolutionary Front. Considering the form which the crisis of the political superstructures is taking it is indispensable to preserve and develop the revolutionary embryos which the new movements represent. They constitute the pole made up of the young workers and students, of the militants who break with the Socialist and Communist parties and nationalist movements. It will be decisive to prevent these groups from becoming demoralized and fragmented, for they are the basic contingent for any revolutionary activity which today in Latin America is an ever present possibility. From this it follows that the great task is to regroup the new forces which the Cuban Revolution has liberated and to act decisively within the existing revolutionary movements.

These new-type revolutionary movements form the props of an effective defense of the Cuban Revolution. They make possible the carrying out of combative actions and general strikes in case of an imperialist attack on Cuba. They provide the motive power which once and for all will make possible the creation of the Latin American Labor Union. Finally, they are the ones who will unleash the revolution in each country, and who will establish the Socialist Workers Republics of Latin America, the only real guarantee of support for the Cuban Revolution.

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