To Kamran & Michael and whomever cares:

A party in power undertaking 
policies that enhance the power of 
its working classes (i include 
independent producers in the less 
capitalistically developed nations) 
and their democratic participation 
in governing as it also encourages 
cooperative enterprises and over 
time restricts its capitalists 
deserves the attention and support 
by socialists everywhere.  By 
support i mean support in those 
endeavors described above, i do not 
mean to deeply inhale every fart of 
its singular leaders.  Under Chavez 
there has been a considerable 
emancipation of the impoverished 
masses of Venezuela and a change in 
consciousness of its working 
classes.  At the same time, Chavez' 
apparent conception that he must 
must remain in leadership 
indefinitely, his abusive style in 
his open dealing with his 
administrative leaders, his 
embracing of some of the most 
repressive regimes does not deserve 
uncritical support.  To condemn the 
Bolivarian revolution because Chavez 
has a bad side to him that, in my 
insignificant opinion, the 
Bolivarians would be wise to 
restrain, is not appropriate.  In my 
opinion socialist revolutionaries 
who submit uncritically to a 
charismatic leader most likely will, 
as history seems to have 
demonstrated, end up as victims and 
lose the cause itself.

On the other side, that is the 
imperialist powers, there are also 
lessons from history, in particular, 
the concept that there can be 
"temporary alliance with capitalist 
countries like the US, France, etc, 
in hopes that once the dictators are 
gone the people of these countries 
will be able to create their own 
democratic societies, which are 
independent of outside forces. It 
doesn't always work out this way,"  
should be altered, to be true to 
history, to state that "it never 
turns out this way."  On the other 
hand socialists have to consider 
what their attitude should be to 
bourgeois democratic revolutions in 
feudal or semi-feudal societies, 
which are essentially what the "Arab 
Spring" constitutes.  Lenin and 
others operated on a confluence of 
contradictions theory that saw these 
as openings for socialists to bypass 
the capitalist revolution.  Some, 
more common among followers of Leon 
Trotsky, had a general conception 
that by taking power the working 
class could guide society through a 
psuedo-capitalist phase to raise the 
material basis for the socialist 
transformation.  (It may be that 
this what the Chinese CP leaders 
believe they are doing, although i 
doubt it; they seem rather to be 
simply nationalists who are doing 
what they believe will most rapidly 
develop China irrespective of what 
impact it is having on the working 
class it is supposed to 
represent.).  There is another 
view.  That is that in respect to 
the global preparation for a truly 
international workers revolution one 
of the preconditions is for 
capitalism to develop the productive 
forces and create a modern working 
class.  Bourgeois democracy is the 
best form for the development of 
capitalism, although i must admit 
that in its corporate stage 
capitalism seems to begin to 
encroach on the democracy that 
enabled it to get there.  The Arab 
Spring left to its own resources 
will emancipate native capitalist 
forces from the restraints of Feudal 
suppression; aided by international 
imperialism the result will most 
likely be chattel states with local 
comprador capitalists entirely 
beholden to the imperialists.

Of course we wouldn't be true 
socialists if we didn't have hearts, 
if we didn't feel pain at any 
destruction of the human spirit and 
the lives of ordinary persons, and 
that makes it very difficult to 
standby as semi-feudal governments 
slaughter their own.  That is to say 
the world is full of contradictions 
and anyone who is guided by the 
Marxist tradition knows that there 
is no way of having a world without 
contradictions.  Nevertheless we 
have to struggle to understand them 
and what our role should be in 
resolving them.  Michael's 
characterization of the general 
position on this list serve is not 
accurate.  Those who believe they 
have unambiguous answers to these 
questions are few and recognizable.  
Interestingly what is necessary for 
the non-dogmatic socialist and the 
good scientist is the same: A 
tolerance for ambiguity.


On 5/27/2011 10:37 AM, Kamran Nayeri 
> Michael:
> I am as the Libyan tragedy shows, 
> NATO intervention has not stopped 
> the bloodshed there. In a recent 
> article in the New York Times I 
> read NATO conducted 6000 bombing 
> missions in on day. From purely 
> humanitarian point of view, there 
> should be no difference of who is 
> getting killed by who--photos of 
> young Libyan soldiers killed by 
> British, French, or American 
> forces should not be any less 
> painful than photos of those 
> killed by Qaddafi.
> The idea of an individual or a 
> small socialist group going into 
> "alliance" with imperialism is 
> hugely problematic. First, it is 
> an illusion and bad use of the 
> word "alliance."  Those in 
> Washington, Paris or London do not 
> know if you and I exist or any 
> little socialist propaganda group, 
> let alone thinking of us as their 
> "allies."  History has taught us 
> that even when very large 
> socialist parties supported 
> imperialist wars and were in 
> policy making decision positions, 
> they were merely supporting and 
> conducting wars to advance 
> imperialist interests. Consider 
> World War I when reformist 
> socialists of each imperialist 
> warring party supported "their 
> own" government.  That was clearly 
> wrong and a betrayal of working 
> class and socialist ideals.
> It remains a sad fact of the world 
> political situation that until and 
> unless working people build and 
> exercise their own independent 
> power they will be oppressed, 
> exploited and at time subject to 
> brutal attacks as we see in the 
> Middle East and North Africa 
> today.  At least for those on this 
> list, it should require no proof 
> that imperialism treatment differs 
> widely with respect to who is 
> doing the killing. Compare 
> Bahrain, Yemen, and now Syria, 
> with Libya; and also consider 
> Israeli ongoing killing of 
> Palestinians.  Imperialists have 
> no morality or rather, they have 
> the morality of money. That is the 
> bottom line. Thinking that 
> socialist can find alliances with 
> them is entirely a bad mistake and 
> if it becomes a policy (Socialist 
> International parties), it is a 
> sure sign that they are no longer 
> socialist in any real sense of the 
> world (consider the British Labor 
> Party and the Israeli Labor parties).
> Kamran
> On Fri, May 27, 2011 at 5:30 AM, 
> Michael Balter 
> <[log in to unmask] 
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> 
> wrote:
>     Kamran,
>     What you say below is
>     interesting, helpful, and I
>     have no quarrel with any of
>     it. I think it is also
>     important for socialists, when
>     they hear criticisms of
>     leaders like Chavez and the
>     Castros coming from someone
>     who is clearly a leftist and
>     anti-imperialist like myself,
>     to not automatically assume
>     that the critic is supportive
>     of US foreign policy or
>     imperialist interventions in
>     the countries involved. I am
>     personally opposed to any
>     attempts by the US to
>     overthrow Chavez and his
>     government, to try to bring
>     capitalism back to Cuba
>     (although some say it is
>     already state capitalist), etc.
>     I do make some exceptions to
>     this, however, when a leader
>     is slaughtering his own people
>     (as in Libya, Syria, Bosnia,
>     Kosovo, etc) and I have no
>     weapons of my own to bring to
>     bear on the situation. Qaddafi
>     is not a socialist, and
>     neither is Assad. So then, in
>     the interests of saving lives
>     of working people and
>     peasants, I find it necessary
>     to make a temporary alliance
>     with capitalist countries like
>     the US, France, etc, in hopes
>     that once the dictators are
>     gone the people of these
>     countries will be able to
>     create their own democratic
>     societies, which are
>     independent of outside forces.
>     It doesn't always work out
>     this way, but issuing
>     manifestos against imperialism
>     and letting dictators stay in
>     power--or even actively
>     supporting them, as Chavez is
>     now outrageously doing--is not
>     the way to go either.
>     Fortunately, the views above
>     are shared by many on the
>     left, even if they seem highly
>     unpopular on this particular
>     list serve.
>     MB
>     On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 10:47
>     PM, Kamran Nayeri
>     <[log in to unmask]
>     <mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
>     wrote:
>         Michael:
>         I share with you the
>         outrage about Chavez's
>         political statements on
>         the ongoing revolt in the
>         ME and North Africa.
>         However, I would also like
>         to point out that his
>         position is a typical
>         Third Worldist position
>         that some socialist
>         currents have historically
>         taken--it make the
>         imperialist reality
>         absolute and disregard
>         class struggle in the
>         world capitalist
>         periphery.  For example,
>         the Workers World Party
>         founded by Sam Marcy has
>         been one such organization
>         in the United States.
>          Then, there have been
>         others socialist
>         currents--such as
>         pro-Moscow or pro-Beijing
>         currents--that have
>         historically taken similar
>         positions not so much
>         because of Third Worldist
>         worldview but because of
>         opportunism of the ruling
>         parties in Moscow or
>         Beijing. For example, up
>         to almost the last month
>         of his rule, Moscow and
>         Beijing maintained
>         friendly relations with
>         the Shah of Iran even
>         though Iranian political
>         parties that looked to
>         them were part of the mass
>         upsurge that eventually
>         overthrow that regime in
>         February 1979. Thus,
>         Chavez's position is by no
>         means new or unique--it
>         has nothing to do with a
>         suppose "socialism of the
>         21st century." It is very
>         much represents some of
>         the uglier aspects of the
>         "socialism" of the 20th
>         century.
>         Second, history has many
>         examples of leaders of
>         mass movement that held
>         worldviews or political
>         positions contrary to the
>         interests of working
>         people at home or abroad.
>          I view Chavez as a
>         populist leader.  He does
>         not hold any consistent
>         socialist ideology, he
>         presides over a capitalist
>         state and economy, but he
>         also take positions that
>         support some of the demand
>         of the working people of
>         Venezuela.
>         It would be a mistake to
>         turn one's back to these
>         mass movements, in
>         particular workers,
>         peasants, and the urban
>         poor, who also support
>         Chavez because there is no
>         better viable alternative
>         is present.  It is
>         important to realize that
>         like Allende--who was a
>         reformist
>         socialist--imperialism is
>         very much interested to
>         overthrow Chavez by a
>         rightist/fascist coup.  It
>         is of utmost importance to
>         place criticism of Chavez
>         within the context of an
>         unconditional opposition
>         to right-wing and
>         imperialist attacks on his
>         government.
>         Kamran
>         On Thu, May 26, 2011 at
>         11:19 AM, Michael Balter
>         <[log in to unmask]
>         <mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
>         wrote:
>             This pretty much seals
>             the case against
>             Chavez, in my view,
>             that he is either
>             demented or that he
>             puts Venezuelan
>             national interests (or
>             his vision of them)
>             above those of the
>             international
>             proletariat. Either
>             way he cannot be
>             considered a
>             legitimate socialist
>             leader. Can anyone
>             accept this support
>             for the slaughtering
>             of the Syrian people
>             by the al-Assad
>             government? Unbelievable.
>             MB
>             Bolivarian Leader
>             Stands in Solidarity
>             with Syrian People
>             against Imperial Onslaught
>             by the Venezuelan
>             Foreign Ministry
>             The President of the
>             Bolivarian Republic of
>             Venezuela communicated
>             by telephone with his
>             brother, the President
>             of the Syrian Arab
>             Republic, Bashar
>             al-Assad, in order to
>             convey to him a
>             personal greeting full
>             of affection and hope
>             at a moment when the
>             imperialist forces are
>             unleashing violence
>             against the Syrian people.
>             President Hugo Chávez
>             received from
>             President Bashar
>             al-Assad a complete
>             picture of the real
>             situation in this
>             brother Arab nation,
>             where a fascist
>             conspiracy is seeking
>             to sow chaos and
>             disorder, with the
>             goal of subjecting the
>             nation to the dictates
>             of the Western
>             powers.  President
>             Bashar explained to
>             his Venezuelan
>             counterpart that these
>             outbreaks of
>             minoritarian violence
>             had been repudiated by
>             the vast majority of
>             Syrians and that the
>             situation had begun to
>             get back to normal
>             thanks to the action
>             of the institutions
>             and government of Syria.
>             President Hugo Chávez
>             was able to hear
>             firsthand the
>             important process of
>             reforms that President
>             Bashar has pushed
>             forward for the
>             purposes of responding
>             to the legitimate
>             needs and demands of
>             those who have
>             exercised their right
>             to demonstrate
>             peacefully and who
>             have nothing to do
>             with the extremist
>             groups armed and
>             financed from abroad. 
>             Especially, the Syrian
>             president highlighted
>             the new social
>             policies implemented
>             by his government to
>             support the poorest
>             strata of the population.
>             President Hugo Chávez
>             passed on to his
>             Syrian counterpart the
>             expressions of
>             solidarity from
>             numerous Latin
>             American and Caribbean
>             leaders and took this
>             occasion to express
>             his most firm
>             political and personal
>             support, conveying his
>             absolute conviction
>             that the dignity of
>             the Syrian people and
>             government will make
>             peace prevail,
>             defeating the imperial
>             aggressions.
>             Caracas, 20 May 2011
>             ------------------------------------
>             The original
>             communiqué "Líder
>             Bolivariano se
>             solidariza con pueblo
>             sirio ante arremetida
>             imperial"
>             <> was
>             published on the Web
>             site of the Venezuelan
>             Foreign Ministry. 
>             Translation by Yoshie
>             Furuhashi
>             <>.
>             -- 
>             ******************************************
>             Michael Balter
>             Contributing
>             Correspondent, Science
>             Adjunct Professor of
>             Journalism,
>             New York University
>             Email:
>             [log in to unmask]
>             <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>             Web:
>             <>
>             NYU:
>             <>
>             ******************************************
>             “Faced with the choice
>             between changing one’s
>             mind and proving that
>             there is no need to do
>             so, almost everyone
>             gets busy on the proof."
>                   --John Kenneth
>             Galbraith
>     -- 
>     ******************************************
>     Michael Balter
>     Contributing Correspondent,
>     Science
>     Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>     New York University
>     Email:
>     [log in to unmask]
>     <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>     Web:
>     <>
>     NYU:
>     <>
>     ******************************************
>     “Faced with the choice between
>     changing one’s mind and
>     proving that there is no need
>     to do so, almost everyone gets
>     busy on the proof."
>                         --John
>     Kenneth Galbraith