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International Socialist Review, Spring 1963


Luis Vitale

Phases of the Cuban Revolution


From International Socialist Review, Vol. 24 No.2, Spring 1963, pp.41-45.
Transcribed by Daniel Gaido.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Author’s Introductory Comments

These comments are inspired by the extraordinary enthusiasm with which we revolutionists have received the fresh breeze coming – once again – from Martí’s marvelous island. Fidel Castro’s speech against sectarianism and bureaucratism has awakened new hope in the revolutionists of Latin America who aspire to forge a society like Cuba’s. Powerful energies have been freed by the life-giving experience of a country which is constructing socialism, following the pristine tradition of the theoreticians and strategists of the modern concept of the world: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Trotsky.

Cuba is a country which is building a new socialism – the socialism dreamt of by millions of human beings for more than a century – in its social-economic foundations as well as on the level of proletarian democracy; in the very complicated sphere of customs and political-cultural traditions. The struggle against sectarianism and bureaucratism goes beyond the confining limits of economics to concern itself with the basic problem of humanity: the end to the alienation of man, the final liberation of the human species, ultimate goal of dialectical materialism.

Once again we find ourselves beside the true leaders of the Cuban people. The political organization to which I belong, the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Workers Revolutionary Party), which is attached to the Movimiento de Fuerzas Revolucionarias (Movement of Revolutionary Forces), supported the Cuban revolution and its worker-campesino government from the beginning, not with words only and through its newspaper Frente Obrero, but rather it did so principally in the field of action. We were in the front ranks together wtih Clotario Blest, Julio Benítez and other labor leaders holding high Fidel’s picture in our hands and enthusiastically distributing leaflets in support of Cuba, at the very moment when Eisenhower and his retinue of colonizers passed by the old offices of the CUT (Confederación Unica de Trabajadores – United Confederation of Workers), an activity for which we were brought to trial.

Not only have we participated in meetings in support of Cuba but also in those organized by the “imperialist worms,” where we engaged in hand-to-hand fights with the mercenaries in the Italia and Victoria theatres and also in that famous open air “mass” held in 1961. I was the author of the motion approved at the Third National Conference of the CUT in December of 1960, by which the Chilean workers bound themselves to declare a general strike in case of an imperialist attack on Cuba, a measure which was put into effect in April of 1962 when Clotario Blest was president of the CUT.

At the last congress of the CUT, held in August of 1962, we proposed concrete measures to reaffirm that agreement and to develop massive rank-and-file Committees in Defense of the Cuban Revolution. We have belonged, since its organization, to the Instituto Chileno-Cubano de Cultura and to the Movimiento de Solidaridad y Defensa de la Revolución Cubana (Movement of Solidarity and Defense of the Cuban Revolution), which until recently was presided over by that fighting leader of the Chilean workers, Clotario Blest.

We have known how to preserve the unity of both organizations together with other revolutionary tendencies, in spite of the sectarian attitudes of those who would assume the role of “Escalantes.” We have known how to preserve that unity especially in those cases in which certain organizations have been denied the right to speak and in spite of the attitudes assumed by the “Chilean Escalantes” who imposed the bureaucratic removal from office of those holding the most important posts in the above mentioned organizations.

As do the other Trotskyist fighters and comrades on the continent – in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic – we carry out these actions convinced that the most effective way of defending the Cuban revolution is by making the revolution in each one of the countries which form part of this “backyard of Yankee imperialism.”

Now, we are publishing Fidel’s historic speech of March 26 and that delivered before the Provincial Committee of Matanzas – speeches which are unknown to the Chilean workers because of the systematic suppression which our native Pompas and Garruchos have practiced against these documents – because it is our belief that their contents reflect added prestige on the Marxist-Leninist leadership of Cuba and that they serve as political models for all the workers’ parties of Chile. At the same time, we take the liberty of making some comments, inspired always by the noble aim of disseminating and helping – with deeds – the Cuban and Latin American revolutions.

Castro Attack on Bureaucratism Opens New Phase

Fidel Castro’s speech against sectarianism and bureaucratism opened a new phase in the ever ascendant curve of the heroic Cuban Revolution.

It seems to us that up to the present the Cuban Revolution exhibits five fundamental phases:

The first was the phase of armed insurrection which, at the same time, was made up of several stages. In these are included the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953; the landing from the Granma in 1956; the guerrilla warfare in the Sierra Maestra led by the 26th of July movement; the participation of the campesino and rural proletarian masses in the guerrilla war – a decisive class factor which influenced the course of the revolution; the activities of the Revolutionary Directorate, which carried out the attack on the Presidential Palace in 1957, and which conducted sabotage in the cities; the opening of new fronts in the Escambray Mountains; the war of positions and, of major importance, the liquidation of the bourgeois army, until it culminated in the conquest of Havana and the incorporation of the urban proletariat in the active struggle with the general revolutionary strikes of January 1, 1959.

The second was the dual power phase which evolved from the fall of Batista to the removal of Urrutia, which was characterized essentially by the duality of powers which arose between Urrutia’s bourgeois-democratic government and the masses which supported the true revolutionary leadership made up of Fidel, Raúl, Che and Camilo. Peoples’ Tribunals which applied the direct justice of the workers to the counter-revolutionaries, workers’ and campesinos’ militias, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, together with the Rebel Army, constituted the real power. They were the organs of proletarian power which quickly displaced the formal power, exercised by the pro-capitalist government of Urrutia. During the course of this phase the Cuban Revolution took great steps forward.

The third phase runs from the installation of the worker-campesino government, directed by Fidel, to the nationalizations of October, 1960. A series of basic laws changed the capitalist structure of semi-colonial Cuba. Agrarian reform was planned and consolidated. Urban reform, a bold measure, won the fervent support of social segments which had been cool to the revolution. The army barracks were converted into schools. The campaign of expropriations without compensation of the large foreign monopolies, which culminated in the historic Nationalization Decree of October, 1960, began.

From this moment forward, Cuba became a workers state. Definite signs characterize it as such: more than 80 per cent of the means of production and of the basic processes came under the control of the new state which, in a very real way, represented the historical interests of the workers; the democratic-bourgeois tasks were accomplished (the expulsion of imperialism, agrarian reform, and the liquidation of the semi-feudal remnants); at the same time, the accomplishment of socialist tasks got into full swing (the collective operation of part of the agricultural lands, the socialization of the factories, the control of foreign and domestic commerce); the planning of the economy along socialist norms began; the bourgeois apparatus was completely destroyed; the army and police of a capitalist stripe ceased to exist; the bourgeois law courts were replaced by peoples’ tribunals; the bourgeois congress was buried forever in the cemetery of its corruption.

This process took place in accordance with the laws of the Permanent Revolution, a theory elaborated by Marx, developed by Trotsky in 1905 and applied by him and Lenin in the Russia of 1917. Nowadays some call it the Uninterrupted or Dynamic Revolution.

The phenomenon of action and reaction manifested to the full its many facets in the Cuban Revolution. Each reaction – generally violent – of Yankee imperialism, was answered with bold retaliatory blows by the Revolutionary Government and the octopus, wounded in its vital parts, was forced to retreat behind its black protective cloud.

The fourth phase developed from the appearance of the workers’ state up to March 26, 1962. It was a very contradictory phase. On the one hand, notable advances took place, such as the almost complete expropriation of the national bourgeoisie and the creation of the Consolidados, wherein all industries in the same type of activity were concentrated; the economy was planned; an unprecedented literacy campaign was carried out; the mercenary invaders – the “worms” – were crushed at Playa Girón.

This attack had an importance comparable to the United States invasion of Korea because of the results which that invasion had on the Chinese Revolution. During this phase the revolutionary cadres were strengthened, the militias were supplied with modern weapons, and socialist tasks were deepened. Of fundamental importance was the proclamation of a Socialist Cuba and of Fidel and his government as Marxist-Leninist.

Yet, in spite of these advances, there began a concealed process of sectarianism and bureaucratism. The old Communist Party (since 1944 it was called the Partido Socialista Popular) – the great slacker of the fighting in the Sierra Maestra – began to climb onto the backs of the guerrilla fighters. Beginning in 1960, they occupied key posts in the political and administrative apparatus of the state, which they consolidated in March and April of 1960, as part of a larger plan: to control the apparatus of the ORI (Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas – Integrated Revolutionary Organizations), which is to form nothing less than the foundation of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution.

The true revolutionists, with Fidel at their head, dedicated to the great tasks of transforming Cuban society, and without any free time at their disposal to be concerned with the progress of the ORI, were forced to leave that task in the hands of Aníbal Escalante, Secretary in Charge of Organization of the Partido Socialist Popular. Escalante and company, conscious of the fact that the decisive instrument which could lead him and his faction to power had fallen into his hands, prepared the conditions for Thermidor.

The fifth phase has just begun. Not only is it important because during this phase the first manifestations of bureaucratism were liquidated, but that perhaps in it will be initiated the greatest period of proletarian democracy which history has ever known.

What Were the Causes Which Gave Rise to Escalante and Company’s Bureaucratism?

Without a doubt Escalante, Garrucho, Pompa and company constituted a group which proposed to control the government of Cuba. Their motives were unbridled ambition and the thirst for power. Nevertheless, it is logical to ask, were they moved solely by these subjective factory, or by an anti-Marxist policy and methods, resulting from deep social-economic causes? Lenin said mat every faction which arises in a party reflects, in the last instance, pressures from a class sector or sectors. Escalante’s case is not that of one person but of many – of 500 little Escanlates and Aníbales, as the Cuban leaders have so correctly pointed out. It is important, therefore, to determine what social-economic basis permitted the appearance of Escalante and company.

Among the essential causes we can point out the following: the backwardness of the country; the contradictions between the countryside and the city, between the collectivism and the individualist tendencies and the under-development of industry; the shortages; the differences between those who do manual work and the intellectuals.

Before proceeding it should be clearly understood that the Escalante group had not yet come to form an extreme bureaucratic caste, but that rather it was merely an outbreak, a germ, an embryo of bureaucratism. At the same time, it will be useful to state once more the distinction made by Fidel between sectarianism and bureaucratism. These political categories do not always manifest themselves together. Sectarianism may exist without bureaucratism, as may be seen in the case of the “sectarianism of the lowlands” which Fidel criticized in his speech, although generally bureaucratism is accompanied by sectarianism.

The Backwardness of the Country

In order that we may be able to understand the process of bureaucratization in its germinal state, it is necessary to begin with the characterization of what Cuba was and what it is. Before the revolution of 1959, Cuba was a semi-colonial country with a backward capitalist economy subject to the laws of unequal and combined development. After the revolution triumphed and, most especially, after the establishment of the workers’ state in October of 1960, it ceased being a semi-colonial country. But it had inherited a backward economy, a limited industrial development which was the product of imperialist colonization.

Contradictions Between Country and City

The workers’ states which are established in the backward nations – the transitional state between capitalism and socialism (We shall return to this theme later) – face very grave problems, problems which are derived from the enormous social-economic contradictions which exist. In the first place there are the abysmal differences between the city and the countryside, differences which become immense during the stage of the workers’ state.

In those countries, where the majority of the population is made up of peasants, one of the basic tasks – aside from the liquidation of imperialism – is the implementing of agrarian reform, a bourgeois-democratic task which the national oligarchies have not discharged. Every revolutionary leadership is faced with problem of how to carry this task forward. Should there be immediate collectivization of all the land or should the land be given to the peasants so that they may farm the individual plots? A not too well informed revolutionist would choose the first course. The Cuban leaders, aware of the experiences of other workers’ states, saw that the first course could not be applied in a country where the backwardness of industrial development does not permit supplying the needs of a socialized agriculture.

The Cuban government realized that the best temporary measure was to distribute the nationalized lands to the campesinos, combining this democratic task with the establishment of peoples’ farms and co-operatives. In this way, more than 70 per cent of the agricultural lands were kept under private ownership. This was the only way to assure a satisfactory level of agricultural production. Forced collectivization would have resulted in disaster, as it did in Russia in the 1930’s.

Nevertheless, this way out – which is the best – is a difficult one. It makes possible the interplay of the contradictions between the individualistic tendencies of the countryside and the collectivistic tendencies. The campesino, like every small property owner, is a conservative. Once a revolution is unleashed, the campesinos may be drawn in and they may even initiate the insurrectionary process if the revolutionary leadership has known how to interpret their aspirations, as did the guerrillas of the Sierra Maestra. But, after the revolution has triumphed, the following problem always presents itself: How can the campesinos be prevented from openly opposing the interests of the proletariat? How can the reactionary sectors be prevented from obtaining the support of the campesinos? The campesino class – we are not referring to the rural proletariat – is not a revolutionary class in and of itself. It does not have its own view of history. It is a petty-bourgeois class inherited from the capitalist system.

The small and middle land owners who live on the Cuban countryside aspire – as they do everywhere else – to individual ownership. They do not sow nor do they carry their products to market unless they are completely convinced that they will receive an immediate profit. They will even kill and butcher animals if the products derived from them (milk, cheese, butter, etc.) do not bring good prices. In order to prevent the killing of animals the Cuban government was forced in 1961 to impose five year jail sentences.

These tendencies are aggravated by the backwardness of industry. The ideal solution will be found in giving the campesinos agricultural machinery and manufactured products at low prices. But the backwardness of Cuban industry, inherited from the past, does not permit this at the present time. Since they cannot buy at low prices nor get enough goods, owing to the low level of industrial production, the campesinos tend to supply their own needs alone; they tend to sow, to reap and to sell what suits them alone.

When industry is not well developed, one temporary solution is to import manufactured products and to sell them at low prices to the campesinos. But this too cannot be done in Cuba because of the imperialist economic blockade and the lack of foreign exchange. The help which the workers’ states give is effective but in comparison to their rocket and heavy industries, their light industry is backward. This is why they are not in a position to export great quantities of manufactured goods at competitive prices.

Role of Cuban Communist Party

What role did the Cuban Partido Socialist Popular play in this problem which is so basic? Since the revolution triumphed they emphasized democratic-bourgeois tasks exclusively, the subdivision of the land and the formation of co-operatives. This was the first error which was pointed out by the true leaders of the revolution and which was recognized, a posteriori, by the PSP, when the failure of the sugar cane co-operatives was demonstrated. This is certified by the latest decree of the Cuban government, that of August, 1962, which converts the 622 sugar cane co-operatives into state collective farms. “With this step,” said Fidel, “the agricultural proletariat grows once more; it becomes the largest sector of workers in our country.”

The unilateral policy favored by the PSP, of the subdivision of the land and the creation of co-operatives, without collectivization, was conducive to the strengthening of the individualistic tendencies of the campesino class. Who was behind that policy? Escalante and company? Was he seeking for a base of support among the small and middle property owners? Is it not suggestive that this same policy was the one put into practice by the Stalinist bureaucracy upon the death of Lenin in 1924, with the slogan: “Kulaks, enrich yourselves!”?

In addition, the Cuban PSP did not favor the general nationalization of business enterprises. From the first days of the revolution its policy consisted solely in the awarding of credits to industry and in the increasing of salaries. This was the second error. On the very day that the plenum of the PSP was discussing moderate reforms for capitalist industry, Fidel was proclaiming the expropriation without indemnification, of national and foreign industries.

It has been fully demonstrated that the national bourgeoisie are incapable of achieving a decisive industrial development. There is only one road: the expropriation and the administration of the factories by the workers’ state. In this way a sensible industrial progress is’ guaranteed, following socialist norms, to mitigate the differences between the countryside and the city.

Why was it then that the PSP was so reticent about nationalizations? Why did it demand that the Trotskyist, who attended the First Congress of Latin American Youth held in Havana in 1960, be expelled for having proposed the expropriation, without indemnification of national and foreign firms, a line proposed at the same Congress by Fidel? Was that policy perhaps inspired by Escalante? Is it not strange that the same line of the underestimation of industrial development was applied by Stalin during the period of 1924 to 1929, the period during which bureaucratism and sectarianism surged forward in Russia? From this the essential question is derived: Which social sectors benefited from such an orientation? Did not the errors of the PSP or of Escalante and company regarding agrarian and industrial problems lead, perhaps, as part of the Thermidorian plan of the bureaucracy in embryo, to a weakening of the proletarian wing headed by Fidel?

Shortages Spur Bureaucratic Tendency

The backwardness of the country, the imperialist blockade, the lack of raw materials and of replacement parts for machinery, problems which still have not been overcome in spite of the efforts of the planned economy and of the help of the non-capitalist countries, resulted in a marked shortage of products, especially of consumer products. In the light of this, the growth of a limited black market and the strengthening of a tendency towards speculation, was inevitable. The Cuban government found itself forced to ration certain articles, guided always by the worthy purpose of achieving an equitable and just distribution. Nevertheless, the new conditions brought about by the distribution created a new situation which certain groups, acting in the shadows, would use to their own advantage. These were those groups which were in a position to dispense favors in the distribution of the scarce goods.

Did Escalante and company try to take advantage of the shortages and of rationing? Did he make use of the ORI apparatus, that apparatus which meddled in everything, in order to favor certain sectors with a larger quota of more and better things in exchange for unconditional support? Why was it that hundreds of store owners and small property owners went knocking at the doors of the PSP?

Differences between Workers and Intellectuals

In backward countries there are great differences between those who do manual labor and those who are engaged in intellectual pursuits. The majority of the workers and campesinos are illiterate; their very low technical and cultural level is the cause for a shortage of specialized workers, a phenomenon which does not occur in the highly industrialized countries. Once the social revolution takes place, the technicians and scientists, who because of their social position are attached to the bourgeois ideology, leave the country in large numbers. The result of this is that there remains a very small group of people with a satisfactory cultural level. In the first phases of the workers’ state there are many difficulties because the workers, lacking specialized training and experience in the conduct of businesses, produce at a very low level. At the same time, the working class encounters grave problems in the running of the basic units of the workers’ state – the ministries, factories and collective farms.

The stratum of the intelligentsia which has stayed in the country, is not always willing to contribute unstintingly to the revolution. Fidel’s, Che’s, Raúl’s and Chomon’s cases are exceptional ones. There is added, therefore, a series of privileges for those educated persons who carry out intellectual tasks in administration. These people generally come from the petty bourgeoisie. In Cuba in 1961, in order to be able to occupy one of these posts, it was necessary to receive the prior approval of the ORI, which was controlled by Escalante. It is in order to ask: Did Escalante try to find a basis of support in this stratum of managers, technicians and secretaries? Why was it that the larger part of the sectarian nuclei of the ORI, created by Escalante, was made up by this type of person? Why had Escalante included so few workers in the apparatus of the ORI?

A Bureaucratic Formation in Embryo

These social-economic factors conditioned the birth of a bureaucracy in embryo; of an embryo – we insist – not of a privileged and settled caste, let alone of a new social class.

The high watermark of bureaucratism and sectarianism – 1961 – was reached during the period of greatest difficulties for the Cuban Revolution. It took place during the time of the greatest shortages, when there was the most acute shortage of raw materials, when there was a tight imperialist blockade, when difficulties were being experienced with the co-operatives and with the small and middle landowners.

The means employed by Escalante to remove from power the men of the 26th of July Movement and the Revolutionary Directorate, was the ORI, the creature of an apparatus in which there was to be no worker participation. He was conscious of the fact that a mass Marxist-Leninist party, one that was alive, dynamic, made up of the best workers, was going to demand a clear accounting, was going to make democratic decisions and to eliminate the potential bureaucrats. That is why the primary objective of Escalantismo was to forge “a yoke, a strait jacket.”

The Escalantista faction was able to control key posts in the administration of the government and to acquire an ever-growing autonomy and to play an incipient Bonapartist role. Its interference in all matters of state was leading to the exercise of a concealed duality of powers; it was still very hidden. At the same time, the Escalantistas began an insidious campaign against the true leaders of the revolution. They began to broach the problem of the “cult of personality”; to say that Fidel’s History Will Absolve Me was not a Marxist-Leninist document; that the attack on the Moncada Barracks and the Granma landing were the product of petty bourgeois attitudes which were removed from the masses, etc., etc.

Escalantismo began to grow in strength in some mass organizations, like in the Confederación de Trabajadores Cubanos (Cuban Confederation of Workers) and the Asociación de Jóvenes Rebeldes (Association of Rebel Youth), from which E. Figueroa of the 26th of July and M. Payan of the Revolutionary Directorate, organizers of the Congress of Latin American Youth held in Havana in 1960, were removed. But there was one decisive sector in which it could not make headway, in which it was not able to establish the sectarian nuclei of the ORI. And that was: the Rebel Army, the Militias and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. We can say that the Thermidorian Plan shattered against this bulwark.

Escalante and company tried to carry out their own policy; it was erroneous, but at any rate it was a political line. They attempted to carry out their line in the countryside, in industry, in government administration and in foreign policy. For example, it is probable that Escalante and his team may have attempted to isolate the Cuban Revolution from the Latin American masses. It is significant that the delegates sent from Cuba by the Cuban Confederation of Labor during 1961, spoke a much more moderate language than that used by the young revolutionists who visited us in 1960. It was significant that in workers’ meetings – we recall one held by the CUT in 1961 on the occasion of a preparatory meeting of the Latin American Trade Union Conference – that they should suggest that Cuba’s experience was unique, that it was dangerous to copy the line of armed revolution because in Cuba there existed special conditions which were not present in the majority of the countries of the continent.

Fortunately, this policy has changed in 1962, and not by coincidence, either, since the removal of Escalante and company. The last delegates to come to Chile – those who participated in the National Congress of the CUT in August of 1962 and one railroad worker with whom we had the privilege of exchanging ideas, at the National Leaders Council of the CUT, held in July of 1962 – were complete revolutionists who, like those of 1960, constantly appealed to the masses and to the Latin American Revolution as the only effective way of defending the Cuban people.

To what extent was the moderate line of the delegates who visited us in 1961 influenced by Escalante and company? What relation was there between this policy and the theory of the “peaceful road” which the Communist parties of Latin America pursue? Was the incipient tendency to isolate the Cuban Revolution from the Latin American masses the result of an embryonic policy of “Socialism in one country?”

It is most likely that the Escalante faction not only reflected petty bourgeois sectors, but that its policy was the product of old sins committed by the Partido Socialista Popular many years before the revolution.

Not the First Case in History

The germination of a bureaucracy in embryo in Cuba is not the first case in history. The history of revolutions demonstrates that this problem has presented itself in every backward country, owing to their peculiar social-economic conditions. Although the phenomenon is not inevitable, it should be taken very much into account.

In Russia, for example, a similar situation presented itself three years after the revolution had been unleashed. Lenin became aware of the problem and in 1921 he decided to begin a campaign against bureaucratism, Trotsky, writing of this concern on Lenin’s part, said the following:

At the Eleventh Congress of the Party, in March 1922, Lenin gave warning of the danger of a degeneration of the ruling stratum. It has occurred more than once in his-story, he said, that the conqueror took over the culture of the conquered, when the latter stood on a higher level. The culture of the Russian bourgeoisie and the old ruling bureaucracy was, to be sure, miserable, but alas the new ruling stratum must often take off its hat to that culture. “Four thousand seven hundred responsible communists” in Moscow administer the state machine. “Who is leading whom? I doubt very much whether you can say that the communists are in the lead ... (Trotsky, La Revolución Traicionada, Buenos Aires: Claridad, 1938. English-language edition: The Revolution Betrayed, New York; Pioneer Publishers, pp.100-101)

Trotsky relates that:

Early in 1923 it became apparent to the principal leaders who were aware of the political situation, that Stalin was packing the forthcoming Twelfth Congress, the highest Party authority, with delegates who were unconditionally loyal to him. Lenin became so alarmed at the gravity of the situation that he summoned me h his rooms in the Kremlin, spoke of the shocking increase in bureaucratism in our Soviet apparatus and of the need to find a solution to the problem. He suggested the advisability of naming a special commission of the Central Committee and he asked me to intervene actively in the matter.

“Vladimir Ilyich, I am convinced that in the present fight against bureaucratism in the Soviet apparatus we should not lose sight of what is happening: a very special selection of functionaries is being made, of members and non-members, on the basis of loyalty to certain domi¬nant personalities and of leading groups of the Party within the very Central Committee. Every time that a lower functionary is attacked, one runs up against a prominent leader of the Party ... I cannot take charge of the work under the present circumstances.”

Lenin was thoughtful for a moment, and – I am quoting him literally – said: “In other words, what I am proposing is a campaign against the bureaucratism in the Soviet apparatus and what You are proposing is to expand the fight directing it against the bureaucratism of the Orgburo of the Party? Isn’t that so?”

I laughed at the unexpected nature of his answer, for at that time such an exact and complete formulation of the idea had not occurred to me. And I answered: “I suppose that’s it.”

“Very well then,” answered Lenin. “I propose we form a bloc.” (Trotsky, Stalin, Barcelona: Janés, 1947, p.379 English-language edition: New York, Harper and Bros. 1941, p.365.)

Lenin’s incurable disease, did not permit him to continue the open fight against the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, in his Testament (written between December 25, 1922 and January 4, 1923), he inscribed his verdict:

Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated an enormous power in his hands; and I am not sure that he will always know how to use that power with sufficient caution ... Postscript: ... I propose to the comrades to find a way to remove Stalin from that position and appoint to it another man who in all respects differs from Stalin only in superiority – namely, more patient, more loyal, and more polite and more attentive to comrades, less capricious ... (Trotsky, The Suppressed Testament of Lenin, New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1946, pp.6-7 Translator)

Before his death, Lenin had broken with Stalin because of a disrespectful and bureaucratic attitude on Stalin’s part towards Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya.

Trotsky has written some pages about this period of the rise of the bureaucracy in Russia which are so accurate that what has happened in Cuba with Escalante and company seems to be a carbon copy of what he recorded then. Trotsky wrote:

It was then [1923] that Stalin began to emerge with increasing prominence as the organizer, dispenser of credentials, tasks and jobs, the trainer and overlord of the bureaucracy. (Trotsky, Stalin, Barcelona: Janés, 1947, p.400 – English language edition: op. cit., p.385).

The great majority of the older generation of the present bureaucracy, were on the other side of the barricades during the October Revolution. Take, for example, the case of the Soviet diplomats ... Or at best, they were far removed from the struggle. The bureaucrats of today, who during the October days were on the side of the Bolsheviks, in the majority of cases played no significant roles. As for the young bureaucrats, they have been trained by their elders and frequently selected from among their own offspring. These men would not have been capable of making the October Revolution, but they have been the best suited to exploit it ... (Trotsky, La revolución traicionada, Buenos Aires: Claridad, 1938, p.85 – English language edition: The Revolution Betrayed, New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1945, p.93).

Under the guise of a struggle against the Opposition, the revolutionists were replaced with government functionaries. (Trotsky, op. cit., p.88 – English edition: op. cit., p.98).

The Thermidor conspiracy of the end of the eighteenth century, prepared for by the preceding course of the revolution, broke out with a single blow and assumed the shape of a sanguinary finale. Our Thermidor was long drawn out. The guillotine found its substitute – at least for a while – in intrigue. The falsifying of the past ... (Trotsky, Mi vida, México, 1946, Vol.2, p.326. English-language edition, New York: Scribner, 1930, p.505)

Is there not a certain amount of agreement between what Fidel said about Escalante and company and the writings and attitudes of the great leaders of the Russian Revolution, Lenin and Trotsky, in their fight against Stalin’s bureaucratism?

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