Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 8 No. 1



Dear Editor

For the record, I am the author of the letter concerning the Cuban Trotskyists of the POR(T) published under the title of The International Secretariat and the Cuban Trotskyists in Revolutionary History, Volume 7 no. 3. The letter, written in February 1963, was originally addressed to Joseph Hansen of the US Socialist Workers Party and apparently, as your introductory note indicates, was forwarded for informational purposes to the International Secretariat of the Fourth International by the SWP as a fraternal gesture in the months leading up to the reunification of the main forces of the international Trotskyist movement.

The letter speaks for itself, and I have nothing to add to it, save to mention that the ‘Comrade Molina’ whom I cited at length was evidently Adolfo Gilly. This became clear to me in 1964 when Monthly Review published a special issue entitled Inside the Cuban Revolution by Gilly; his lengthy article read to a large degree as a virtual transcript of what ‘Molina’ had told me.

When I visited Cuba in early 1963, on the first of many visits since then, I was barely 20 years old. Like many young North Americans at that time, I was thrilled and inspired by the first Socialist revolution in the Western Hemisphere. To this day I continue to be most favourably impressed by the revolutionary commitment, integrity, intelligence and intransigence of the Cuban leadership. Revolutionists around the world have much to learn from the Cuban experience.

For that reason, I was extremely disappointed with Gary Tennant’s presentation in your special issue on Trotskyism in Cuba. While the articles do contain some interesting information, they are tainted throughout with Tennant’s hopelessly sectarian interpretation of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution as applied to Cuba. Forty years after the victory of the Socialist revolution in Cuba, Tennant is unable even to accept that Cuba is a workers’ state, referring to it as a (Stalinist) ‘People’s Democracy’. Your short editorial indicates that your review stands on the same sectarian ground.

It is revealing that, on page 33, Tennant cites Samuel Farber, a Shachtmanite, and Tim Wohlforth, who for many years was Gerry Healy’s leading US disciple, as his inspiration for what he terms the ‘convincing’ argument that Fidel Castro opted for a ‘broadly Stalinist solution to the social questions which were beginning to arise’ in the early months and years of the revolution. Neither of these authorities was able to recognise an authentic Socialist revolution under his nose.

For another perspective, by someone with a much greater knowledge of the Cuban revolution, I strongly urge your readers to consult a critique of Tennant’s defence of the POR(T) by José Pérez, a Cuban-American who was a central leader of the US SWP for some years. Pérez’s critique was published on the Marxism mailing list (www.marxmail. org) in October 2000, and can be accessed through the list’s archives.

Richard Fidler

Updated by ETOL: 6.10.2011