Some comments on Alan Woods’ “International Marxist Tendency” and Jeff Mackler’s “Socialist Action”
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 15 July 2021, www.thecommunists.net
The mass protests against the latest austerity program of Cuba’s misnamed “Communist” government are an event of international significance. This is the case for several reasons. First, these are the largest protests in this country since 1994. Second, they take place in a country which is in the focus of long-standing sanctions by the U.S. and, more generally, of inter-imperialist Great Power rivalry. Furthermore, the issue of Cuba has played an important role in the international workers and popular movement – particularly in Latin America – since more than six decades.
In this article we will not repeat our assessment of the popular protests which have taken place in recent days. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and our Argentinean comrades in Convergencia Socialista have explained in a number of documents that we stand in full solidarity with the popular protests, that we oppose the Stalinist-capitalist dictatorship as well as the sanctions by U.S. imperialism and that we view the program of socialist revolution as the only way forward. 
At this point, we will rather discuss some examples of shameful solidarity of “left-wing” organizations … not with the popular protests but rather with the Stalinist-capitalist regime.
Before we begin with this article, it is necessary to draw attention to yesterday’s televised speech of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in which he offered, for the first time, “some self-criticism while saying that government shortcomings in handling shortages and other problems played a role in this week’s protests”.  Of course, the regime is doing so in order to pacify the protests and to buy time. Nevertheless, it is a powerful confirmation of the position defended by the Marxists that the mass demonstrations in Cuba were legitimate protests and not – as the regime and its Stalinist parrots around the world have claimed – “a conspiracy of U.S. imperialism and the gusanos”! If the protests would have been only reactionary provocations of a small and isolated minority, the regime could have easily smashed it and would not have any reason to make concessions! 
From the Revolution to Castro-Stalinism to Capitalism
In the early 1960s, Cuba was the first (and until now only) country in Latin America which experienced a social revolution, abolishing capitalist property relations. Yet, this was a revolution which has been bureaucratically controlled from the very beginning, i.e. political power was never exercised by the workers and poor peasants, organized in popular councils (soviets) but rather by a dictatorially ruling bureaucratic caste led by Fidel Castro. 
As a result, the masses were oppressed and while the Castro regime resisted the efforts of U.S. imperialism to bring back the gusanos, it refused to expand the revolution to other countries. Such efforts were left to Che Guevara – an important leader of the revolution in 1959. In fact, the Castro regime exploited Guevara’s idealistic internationalism in order to get rid of him. The regime had no intention to spread the revolution but rather to consolidate its power and privileges by becoming a close ally of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR. Hence, Castro supported Moscow’s counter-revolutionary activities, including sending tanks to Czechoslovakia in 1968 in order to suppress the popular uprising or the military coup in Poland in December 1981 against the anti-Stalinist workers protests.
For these reasons, authentic Marxists always defended Cuba and the social gains of the revolution against all attempts of U.S. imperialism to bring back its lackeys. At the same time, we also defended the gains of the revolution and the rights of the working class against the Castro-Stalinist regime.
This became even more urgent as the bureaucracy – after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 – turned increasingly towards the restoration of capitalism. In the end, the Castro regime entered the same road as did the Stalinist bureaucracy in China, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea: it restored capitalist property relations and transformed itself into a new bourgeoise.  Hence, Cuba became a capitalist semi-colony and close ally Chinese  and Russian imperialism. 
Large sectors of the labor bureaucracy and the so-called left all over the world have traditionally been aligned with the Stalinist states. Hence, while they correctly defended these degenerated workers states against the imperialist powers (albeit with reformist methods), they took a counterrevolutionary position against the popular masses which faced draconic oppression by the bureaucratic dictatorships. 
However, with the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in 1989-91 the character of the policy of the Stalinist and semi-Stalinist left changed. Russia was no longer a workers state. China, Cuba and other countries kept the political dictatorship but replaced the planned property relations with the mechanism of capitalist exploitation. Nevertheless, the Stalinist left continued their loyal support for Beijing and Moscow. Hence, the character of their policy transformed from reformist support for Stalinist states (against imperialist aggression as well as against the working class) to counterrevolutionary support for emerging imperialist Great Powers of the East.
For these reasons, the support of the Stalinist, Castro-Chavista and pseudo-Trotskyist left for the Cuban regime is no longer a distorted version of “socialist” and “anti-imperialist” solidarity. It is solidarity with a Stalinist-capitalist regime and with an ally of Chinese and Russian imperialism.
FRSO, WWP, PSL: Loyal Servants of the Cuban Regime
As we have shown in our latest Joint Statement on Cuba, Stalinist parties all over the world rally to the support of the Cuban regime.  As mentioned above, such solidarity is not particularly surprising. The Stalinists are loyal servants of Chinese and Russian imperialism and their allies. 
However, there are also several self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations resp. groups which came from such a tradition and which still claim to adhere to the ideas of Marx and Lenin.
An example for such “Marxist” solidarity with the Cuban regime is the “United National Antiwar Coalition” in the U.S. This is an alliance politically
dominated by left-liberal and Stalinist forces. Among them are the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the Workers World Party. The latter organization is a split from the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in 1959 and evolved into a semi-Stalinist force.
Hence, it not surprising to see a statement coming from UNAC which kisses the feet of the regime. It is sufficient to quote the first sentences of its statement. “The United National Antiwar Coalition stands firmly with the Cuban people and their revolutionary government against any US intervention in Cuba’s affairs. (…) The recent disruptions inside Cuba have all the hallmarks of a coordinated campaign to lay groundwork for US intervention, following the [regime change] playbook used by the United States in nearby Venezuela and Nicaragua, as well as in countries like Libya and Syria to disastrous effect.” 
The very fact that this “revolutionary government” has introduced various capitalist market reforms since a number of years – this is a fruit belonging to the tree of knowledge which these “Marxists” have never tasted!
Likewise, it is quiet consistent with their approach that these friends of Chinese and Russian imperialism slander the popular uprisings in Libya  and Syria  as “U.S. conspiracies” or that they rally in defense of the Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua. 
“Trotskyism” as Stalinism light
However, the UNAC coalition also includes the pseudo-Trotskyist group “Socialist Action”, led by Jeff Mackler, which constitutes the dominant force of the so-called “Left Opposition” in the “Fourth International” (in the tradition of Pablo and Mandel).
Again, this is also not so surprising since Mackler’s SA has a long tradition of “critical” – let us better say not so critical! – solidarity with the Cuban regime. Only two years ago, this organization claimed that “Cuba’s proud revolutionary achievements remain largely intact and a shining example to oppressed people everywhere.”  Well, these “proud revolutionary achievements” do not only fail to shine for the oppressed people in the world – they are not particularly visible even for Cuba’s own population as the current mass protests demonstrate!
Mackler’s cheerleader group is not alone in praising the Stalinist-capitalist regime. The “International Marxist Tendency” (IMT), led by Alan Woods, is another sad example for such a perversion of “Trotskyism” as Stalinism light. Its actual statement on the mass protests in Cuba leaves no doubt that the IMT joins the camp of the dictatorship and not of the popular masses. The IMT calls those who support the regime “revolutionaries” and claims that the protests – which might have a genuine cause (even the IMT does not dare to deny this) – objectively serve the “counter-revolution”.
When “Defend the Revolution” actually means “Defend the Regime”
It is characteristic for the IMT approach that its article describes a clash during one of the demonstrations in the following terms: “…finally there was also an exchange of stones between local revolutionaries and those protesting. (…) President Díaz-Canel appeared in San Antonio de los Baños, from where he made statements and later addressed the country in a televised address, in which he called on the revolutionaries to take to the streets to defend the revolution.” 
The IMT article draws the following conclusions: “Faced with this situation, what position should we as revolutionaries take? In the first place, it must be clearly explained that the protests called by the Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and other related elements are openly counter-revolutionary, although they try to capitalise on a sense of malaise that emanates from the very difficult objective conditions. The problems and hardships are real and genuine. But the protests, under the slogan “Homeland and Life” and “Down with the dictatorship”, are counter-revolutionary. There are confused elements participating, to be sure. But in the midst of the confusion, it is inevitable that those who dominate these protests are, from a political point of view, counter-revolutionary. They are organised, motivated and have clear objectives. It is therefore necessary to oppose them and to defend the revolution.”
The Russian comrades of the IMT are even more explicit and call the popular protests in Cuba a “color revolution”. However, the IMT is confident about the future because, thanks God, the Cuban people still believe in their historic leadership as they “are still loyal to the cause of Fidel Castro”.
“Without a doubt, people have the right to express dissatisfaction and distrust of their government, but in this case it is nothing more than another attempt at a color revolution, a right-wing anti-communist coup, fueled by a severe economic crisis and supporting the United States. (…) The only good news is that in Cuba, the overwhelming majority of residents are still loyal to the cause of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement.” 
Obviously, the basic teachings of Trotskyism are a book of seven seals for the IMT comrades! They seem to be unaware of the fact that the Cuban July 26 Movement in general and Castro in particular began as a petty-bourgeois nationalist movement and later became a Stalinist force. But at no time were they a genuinely revolutionary force in the Marxist sense of the word!
This was rather the classic anti-Marxist idea which was emphatically advocated by Pablo, Mandel, Hansen and others in the early 1960. At that time, these leaders of the “Fourth International” claimed that Castro and his party were “objectively revolutionary”. Hence, they unconditionally supported them, refused the slogan of “political revolution” against the new dictatorship and renounced any attempts to build a revolutionary party in Cuba. Let us note in passing that this was not the first time that leaders of the “Fourth International” raised such ideas. They did already apply a similar approach to the Yugoslavian Stalinists led by Tito when they broke with Moscow in the last 1940s. 
Of course, such a position of uncritical support for Castro-Stalinism was wrong in the early 1960s. But, at least, once could say that this was the time of revolution and the U.S. intervention in the Bay of Pigs. But today – 60 years later with decades of Stalinist dictatorship and years of capitalist restoration behind us – it is the height of political stupidity to repeat such reactionary nonsense! No, the IMT is no mole of history but rather blind as a bat!
There was a time – it is long ago – when Alan Woods and Ted Grant made jokes about the Mandelist idea of Castro as a “objectively revolutionary”. But times changed. Chavez is dead so Woods needs another President who advocates his books in a TV show. So, Woods needs Díaz-Canel – but does Díaz-Canel need Woods?! We have our doubts!
Let us finish by pointing out that the IMT as well as the Stalinists and Castro-Chavistas cover their statements against the current mass protests with the slogan “Defend the Cuban Revolution”. By this, they cynically exploit the sympathy many people still feel for the Cuban Revolution and its achievements. However, one must carefully note who raises such slogans. When the ruling party in Havana and their international supporters say “Defend the Cuban Revolution”, they mean in reality “Defend the Cuban Regime”.
In contrast to them, authentic Marxists understand that defending the gains of the Cuban Revolution can be carried out only against the Stalinist-Capitalist regime as well as against all imperialist powers and that the only guarantee for such a defense would be the creation of an authentic workers and poor peasants government based on popular councils and militias!.
Clearly, this boggles the mind of the IMT, SA and other Havana heroes! Things should be called by their name: these “Trotskyists” act as auxiliaries of the Stalinist-capitalist regime!
* * * * *
(*) An original version of the article indicated that the Freedom Road Socialist Organization would also be a split
from the SWP. In fact, the FRSO came out from the Maoist-inspired "New Communist Movement" in the 1970s. We had confused the FRSO with the Freedom Socialist Party which
originated from a split from the SWP in 1966.
 The statements and articles of the RCIT and CS are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/cuba-solidarity-with-mass-protests-against-the-stalinist-capitalist-regime/
 Cuba’s leader lays some blame for protests on his government, 15.7.2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-health-cuba-coronavirus-pandemic-af57e3dd73cb54fa6507e256ba9e658e
 See also Ernesto Buenaventura: Díaz Canel tuvo que reconocer el carácter genuino de las protestas. Cortes de luz, falta de agua y salarios miserables, son moneda corriente en la Cuba capitalista, el julio 15, 2021, https://convergenciadecombate.blogspot.com/2021/07/diaz-canel-tuvo-que-reconocer-el.html
 On the history of the Cuban revolution see e.g. Chapter I of our book by Michael Pröbsting: Cuba‘s Revolution Sold Out? The Road from Revolution to the Restoration of Capitalism, August 2013, RCIT Books, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cuba-s-revolution-sold-out/
 See on this Chapter III in the above-mentioned book Cuba‘s Revolution Sold Out?; see also: Damián Quevedo: Cuba y el izquierdismo que sostiene a sus burócratas ¿nostalgia o interés? julio 15, 2021, https://convergenciadecombate.blogspot.com/2021/07/cuba-y-el-izquierdismo-que-sostiene-sus.html; by the same author: Cuba: Burocracia, restauración y capitalismo semicolonial, julio 13, 2021, https://convergenciadecombate.blogspot.com/2021/07/cuba-burocracia-restauracion-y.html
  The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in China and its transformation into a Great Power. See on this e.g. our book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/. See also by the same author an essay published in the second edition of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (edited by Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope), Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020, https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-91206-6_179-1; China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power (2012), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4; How is it possible that some Marxists still Doubt that China has Become Capitalist? (A Critique of the PTS/FT), An analysis of the capitalist character of China’s State-Owned Enterprises and its political consequences, 18 September 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism-2/; Unable to See the Wood for the Trees (PTS/FT and China). Eclectic empiricism and the failure of the PTS/FT to recognize the imperialist character of China, 13 August 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism/. See many more RCIT documents at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.
 The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Russia and China: Neither Capitalist nor Great Powers? A Reply to the PO/CRFI and their Revisionist Whitewashing of Chinese and Russian imperialism, 28 November 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/russia-and-china-neither-capitalist-nor-great-powers-reply-to-po-crfi/; see also several pamphlets by the same author: The Catastrophic Failure of the Theory of “Catastrophism”. On the Marxist Theory of Capitalist Breakdown and its Misinterpretation by the Partido Obrero (Argentina) and its “Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International”, 27 May 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-catastrophic-failure-of-the-theory-of-catastrophism/; Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/
 For our analysis of Stalinism see e.g. the book published by our predecessor organization League for the Revolutionary Communist International: The Degenerated Revolution: The Origin and Nature of the Stalinist States, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/stalinism-and-the-degeneration-of-the-revolution/; see also Chapter II in the above-mentioned book by Michael Pröbsting: Cuba’s Revolution Sold Out?
 See the Joint Statement of RCIT and CS: Is Cuba Socialist? Are the Current Popular Protests Legitimate? Questions and Answers from a Marxist point of view, 13 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/questions-and-answers-is-cuba-socialist/
 For an actual critique of the support for Chinese and Russian imperialism by Stalinist parties see our pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/; see also by the same author One-sided and Naïve … at Best! A joint call by the friends of Chinese imperialism and the daydreamers of well-meaning global capitalism, 31 March 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/joint-call-by-friends-of-chinese-imperialism-and-the-daydreamers/; by the same author: Stalinist and “Trotskyist” Supporters of Chinese Imperialism under the Fig-Leaf of “Anti-Imperialism”. A commentary on the statement “No to U.S. war threats against China!” by the “United National Antiwar Coalition” in the U.S., 4 April 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/stalinist-and-trotskyist-supporters-of-chinese-imperialism-under-the-fig-leaf-of-anti-imperialism/; for a more extensive documentation see e.g. the chapters in Part 2 and Part 4 in the above-mentioned book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry.
 See on the Libyan Revolution in 2011 our following documents: RKOB: After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime: Where now for the Libyan Revolution? 24.8.2011, https://rcitarchive.wordpress.com/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/libya-collapse-of-gaddafi-regime/; Advance the Libyan Revolution: A Program for the Permanent Revolution, 5.9.2011, https://rcitarchive.wordpress.com/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/libya-advanced-revolution/; Michael Pröbsting: The intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya, the struggle of the masses against Gaddafi’s dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, September 2011, https://rcitarchive.wordpress.com/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/libya-revolutionary-tactics/; by the same author: Liberation Struggles and Imperialist Interference. The failure of sectarian “anti-imperialism” in the West: Some general considerations from the Marxist point of view and the example of the democratic revolution in Libya in 2011”, in: RCIT: Revolutionary Communism, No. 5; http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/liberation-struggle-and-imperialism
 The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements, and articles on the Syrian Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. In particular we refer readers to the RCIT call Save the Syrian Revolution!. https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/call-save-the-syrian-revolution/; see also two pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/; Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syria-great-power-rivalry-and-the-failure-of-the-left/. See also by the same author: A Revealing Statistic about Who is Responsible for Killing Civilians in Syria. The latest findings of the Syrian Network for Human Rights for the period from March 2011 to June 2021, 2 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/revealing-statistic-about-who-is-responsible-for-killing-civilians-in-syria/
 See on this e.g. our joint statement: Nicaragua: International Solidarity with the Popular Uprising against the Ortega-Murillo Regime! 10 August 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/joint-statement-international-solidarity-with-the-popular-uprising-in-nicaragua/
 U.S.-backed revolt fails in Venezuela, Socialist Action, 2019-05-30, https://socialistaction.org/2019/05/30/u-s-backed-revolt-fails-in-venezuela/
 Jorge Martín: Protests in Cuba: defend the revolution! 12 July 2021 https://www.marxist.com/protests-in-cuba-defend-the-revolution.htm
 Куба: контрреволюция наступает, 13.7.2021, https://vk.com/@-27333192-kuba-kontrrevoluciya-nastupaet
 On the history of the Fourth International and its degeneration see e.g. the book by our predecessor organization: The Death Agony of the Fourth International, London 1983. See also Michael Pröbsting: Healy’s Pupils Fail to Break with their Master. The revolutionary tradition of the Fourth International and the centrist tradition of its Epigones Gerry Healy and the ”International Committee” – A Reply from the RCIT to ”Socialist Fight”, October 2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 16, November 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/healy-and-fourth-international/