Published in El Socialista N° 458
In quarantine we carried out a virtual chat with our colleague Mercedes Petit, a historical leader of our current, eader of Socialist Left and member of IWU-FI. We know that the word “socialism” has multiple uses and that it has been stained by bureaucratic experiences, the crimes of Stalinism and, more recently, by Venezuelan Chavism. That is why we want to share some fragments of Petit’s speech to clarify our socialist and revolutionary position.
An Outlet in the Background
Since we are doing a virtual chat in the middle of a tremendous health crisis gives us a sign, the virus has been transformed into a planetary calamity and reveals the responsibility of the capitalist-imperialist system. An unjust and unequal system that functions to produce in the service of the profits of the exploiters, the private owners, who live and profit by exploiting the working masses all over the world.
We propose a socialist way out. We say no more to the capitalist system, we must destroy it before it destroys humanity. How do we make that happen? When from the Socialist Left we talk about the fundamental changes, with a government of the workers, we refer centrally to three aspects.
First, expropriating the bourgeoisie, the big multinationals, the big businessmen. What does that mean? Taking away their ownership of the means of production, industry, agricultural production. Second, to plan this new economy reorganised by a State of the workers. With what priority? Never again the priority of profit for the bosses, now everything to provide health, housing and education for the workers and the masses. Those would be the great objectives of the economic plan that we always say is necessary. Third, to extend and coordinate these revolutionary changes with the workers and the masses in the neighbouring countries.
Let’s think about this, Argentina and Latin America, what we know. If they were united, coordinating with workers’ and socialist governments, plunder, production for profit and national borders could be cut off.
I give a few names. We expropriated the Odebrecht family in Brazil, which is so rich that it corrupted several Latin American governments, and not just Latin ones. To Mr Slim, one of the ten richest in the world, who has Televisa, everything that is telecommunications, here are the Claro cell phones. To Paolo Rocca, from Techint. To Bulgheroni, an oil entrepreneur. And to the foreign companies, the automobile companies, the Agro-industries, the banks. Thus, almost immediately, a reorganised food production could be put in place in Latin America that would quickly eradicate hunger. Argentina and Brazil, big food producers. Peru, to change the diet, would bring us all kinds of fish. Colombia and Costa Rica, coffee. We would get rid of the colossal profits of the current exporters, and what we would like to export we would do with a national entity at the service of a central plan. We could stop the plundering of the seas, which devastate the sea of Peru and Argentina. In terms of energy, it would not be immediate, but we could move forward with everything in the search for renewable energy and, in the meantime, we would have abundant and cheap oil from Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador for everyone. Without doing crazy things like Vaca Muerta (a fracking site) and without giving it away to the multinationals as is happening in these countries. We would have surplus minerals from Chile and Bolivia. Clothing with the wool and cotton of Central America and Uruguay. We could start building and rebuilding the railway which is the cheapest and cleanest transport. We could take urgent measures to protect the Amazon, stop deforestation, not devastate more forests. Curb the ravages of climate change.
Has it ever been applied?
Yes, it was applied, and it worked. It was the first years of the socialist revolution in Russia in 1917, the first six years, when the Soviet Union emerged. They overcame a tremendous backwardness of a vast peasant country; they won a bloody civil war, and they made a devastated country recovered. And they did this with Lenin and Trotsky’s consistent revolutionary internationalist leadership. They were the Bolsheviks who soon afterward took the name of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. They operated workers’, democratic, peasant organisations, known as soviets.
That progress, those first steps were frustrated, because they did not advance to the third one, they did not extend with new triumphs of the socialist revolution in Europe, the advanced countries, which was where Marx said the revolution had to start. And the bureaucracy, Stalinism, took over the USSR. Despite the inefficient bureaucracy that sought its privileges and was repressive, the USSR became the second world power.
That is why we insisted, where the bourgeoisie was expropriated and planned, even with repressive and inept bureaucrats, progress began. Just as they lived it in China since the 1950s, in Cuba since the 1960s. Now we also say that these processes stopped and returned to capitalism again. How do we explain this? The return to capitalism in the former USSR, Eastern Europe, China and Cuba shows that socialism has to be worldwide, the revolution has to be extended, and it has to be built without reformist and repressive bureaucracies, with freedom, with the initiative of the workers and not with the sinister one-party dictatorships that defend national borders, which is what socialism has to abolish to develop.
How can we achieve this?
Through dialogue with activists and workers who accompany the FIT Unity and the Socialist Left, who tell us “it would be nice, but there is no way to destroy capitalism, you can’t”.
What do we answer? It is difficult, but it can be done, it is not a utopia. With imperialist capitalism the workers and the masses live worse and worse. The impossible and the utopian is to achieve progress and have a future with capitalism. We must destroy capitalism with socialist revolution.
How to advance now, from the present, towards the changes that will give rise to the revolutionary government that will implement the beginning of socialist measures? What to do now?
There are two tracks. The first, there are struggles, we must develop the struggles, here and in the world. Capitalism is global, and the solution has to be global. The workers are fighting, the student and precarious youth, the women are moving the world with their mobilisation, there is a movement in defence of the environment. We say that we have to promote them; we have to unite them; we have to be in solidarity with all the struggles against governments, against the bosses, for freedoms, for living conditions, that many of these are against or overflowing with the union bureaucrats who hold back and betray.
The second track: we must build a new alternative leadership, the revolutionary party, here and in all countries. A party that fights and defends political independence against all bosses and all bourgeois governments, which responds to the electoral task as we do with the FIT Unity, but without creating false expectations in the Parliament, in the style of bourgeois politicians and social democracy. That it summons the unity of the revolutionaries with a programme for socialism and support to all the struggles and just causes.
It is on this path we call on the fighters to join this effort in the construction of the Socialist Left (IS, a section of the IWU-FI, Argentina)