I didn't comment earlier on the relationship between Morales, Chavez and
Castro because I assumed that the logical fallacy in what Stuart was
suggesting would be obvious to many here and didn't need to be addressed by

Morales has few allies in the region, and so there are various ways of
interpreting what Stuart calls his "admiration" for Chavez and Castro. As I
said earlier, no one is perfect. But I judge Morales by his own actions and
attitudes, and there I find positive things. Chavez and Castro must be
judged by their own actions, not by the admiration that others might have
for them. All very simple, really.

The purpose of this list is for members to express their opinions and share
information they think is useful. I am doing that just as anyone else would,
including Stuart. The workers and peasants of the world may not care what I
think, but they probably don't care what Stuart thinks either, nor Chavez
and Castro and even Morales. The workers and peasants appear to be
demonstrating that they want democracy first and foremost, as in the
revolutions sweeping the Arab world. They want to be able to say what they
think without being put in jail, unlike people in Cuba. They also want a
better standard of living, and don't want to live in poverty like the people
of Cuba.


On Mon, May 16, 2011 at 2:05 AM, Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> In the 1960s, when many of us came of age as leftists, there was a
> movement in the U.S. against the Vietnam war that had interenational
> notability, and perhaps some role in ending the war (though I think that
> the magnitude of that role is often inflated). Then, the opinions and
> policies of U.S. oppositional groups carried some interest.
> Even then, much of the left's activities was consumed by factional
> debates about who was Stalinist (e.g., the National Liberation Front), who
> was revisionist (e.g., the Soviet Union) (as if the Vietnamese opposition
> to U.S. imperialism would have gotten very far without both of these),
> and how no one was socialist except for (take your pick) the CP, IS, SWP,
> PL, SDS, RYM-I, RYM-II, the Sparticists, etc., etc.
> Now we learn that Michael Balter rejects Chavez and the Castros, but likes
> Evo Morales, and that David Westman thinks they are all running dogs.
> That Morales admires and allies himself with Chavez and the Castros, and
> the fact that this is not worth commenting on by M. Balter when pointed
> out, indicates how solipsistic this whole purity-certifying enterprise is.
> Those on this list may eventually learn, whether they want to or not,
> what role Marc Cooper assigns to Evo Morales in the progress of
> humankind toward, or away, from socialism, or whether he and Michael
> Balter will judge that Hugo Chavez is the next worthy target for NATO's
> civilian-protecting bombs when they are finished with Qaddafi. But I doubt
> that the workers and peasants of the world are paying much attention.
> On Sun, 15 May 2011 16:19:15 +0200, Michael Balter
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >I will leave it to other list members to enter this discussion if they
> like,
> >but want to follow up on just one point David raises: Whether non-
> socialist
> >parties should be allowed. The problem here is that someone has to
> decide
> >whether such parties are indeed non-socialist or not. Did not Stalin
> brand
> >all Trotskyist parties and individuals as counter-revolutionary, and have
> >not most Communist parties in the world followed suit even after Stalin's
> >death?
> >
> >This is what bothers me and many other people. Even if one could justify
> >suppressing a party that is openly capitalist, can one ever justify
> banning
> >a party that claims to be socialist, whether or not the majority agree
> that
> >it is? It's just so easy for Communists to call people they don't agree
> with
> >counter-revolutionary, to put them in jail, and to kill them. I doubt that
> >many people in the world will ever again be persuaded to give them that
> >power.
> >
> >MB
> >
> >On Sun, May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM, David Westman
> <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> >
> >>  Mr. Balter asks me whether multiple socialist parties should be
> allowed in
> >> true anti-revisionist socialist societies, but he does not ask whether
> >> non-socialist parties should be allowed.    I detect in this the
> realization
> >> that he understands the possibility of counter-revolution and
> recognizes the
> >> need to guard against it.     I think that this issue has not yet been
> >> worked out and I cannot give a definite answer.    I think that the
> working
> >> class would be stronger if the vast majority is united behind one single
> >> party, but if it becomes fragmented into several parties, that would be
> a
> >> weakness that must be overcome by non-coercive, democratic means.
> >> Democracy is a way of reaching a decision, and a decision means that
> >> consensus is recognized at some point and a collective path forward is
> >> agreed on.   If a society remains stuck at a crisis point, where a
> decision
> >> cannot be reached and unity is impossible, then this could prevent
> some
> >> necessary actions and the conditions which brought about the crisis
> would
> >> only get worse.    So whether formal parties or factions of a single
> party
> >> or other means to recognize these disagreements are provided for, is
> not the
> >> real issue.   Coercion, administrative measures, or bureacratic
> restrictions
> >> should not be allowed unless the society is faced with a grave threat of
> >> destruction.   If this is the case, then we should answer the question -
> >> which is more important, the survival of the collective or the principle
> of
> >> multiple parties?   I don't know the answer to this question, and it
> >> troubles me as well.
> >>
> >> When it comes to oppositional parties, one can classify them in three
> >> categories:  loyal, subversive, and ineffectual.   Loyal oppositions
> really
> >> present little danger, because there is an agreement that the same
> societal
> >> framework should be maintained and it is merely details of policy and
> >> implementation that are at issue.    Subversive oppositional parties are
> >> organizations of the class enemy, and every sort of society has
> means to
> >> prevent those from forming and becoming organized; this is true of
> the USA
> >> and any other country that has existed or will exist.   An ineffectual
> >> oppositional party can be tolerated even if it is potentially
> subversive,
> >> only so long as it is ineffectual or marginal.   Here in the US there
> are
> >> many ineffectual parties of this sort, and as long as they do not have
> a
> >> mass following, the government is content to spy on them and
> harass them,
> >> but it does not seek to wipe them out completely (maybe at some
> point they
> >> will, that is conceivable).    But if one of these parties begins to
> grow
> >> and develop a mass base, then I would expect things to change, even
> in the
> >> most "democratic" of societies.   So I am really throwing this open for
> more
> >> discussion, because I do not have complete answers here.
> >>
> >> David Westman

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]

“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