Tiempo, Argentina, November 7, 2015*

Dear members of the FIT (Left and Workers Front):

I would like to present a few observation to yourselves as militants who are presumably motivated ideologically by the writings of Leon Trotsky.

I came to the conclusion many years ago that capitalism is an unfair system destined to be eventually replaced by a higher form of social organization, i.e., socialism, that will open the door, in each country according to its idiosyncrasies, for the emergence of the “new man” for which Ché and many others gave their lives.

The fact that socialism needs to adapt to the specific features of a particular country and that, in addition, it was established first in nations under the sway of imperialism, led it to being dubbed “National Socialism”. In Argentina this was the view held by by Manuel Ugarte, the Workers Front group of 45, Abelardo Ramos (before his defection to the government of Carlos Menem[i], Cooke, Hernández Arregui, Spilimbergo and Tosco, amongst others. Bearing this in mind, I would like to remind you that history is a result of the class struggle, and that the upcoming elections are – although this is not seen clearly by some – part of that struggle.

A socialist is not, therefore, someone who formulates the most daring and advanced programs. A socialist is rather someone who struggles to give the workers more power and a presence in the political life of the country that will allow them to dispute power and, as a result, be able to build the egalitarian society we want. The implication is that when a socialist option is unavailable it will be necessary to choose between what is available, and to vote against those whose origin, history – and whose economists – express the position of the elite and its imperialist ally, something that cannot be said of the FPV (Kirchenerist) candidate Scioli, even though he does not represent a step towards socialism.

To this end I want to remind you of some of the political positions taken by Trotsky that are not particularly well known. For example, when Lazaro Cardenas[ii] nationalized oil in Mexico, the media ran a story that he had been advised by Trotsky, then in exile in the country. Trotsky replied that that it was not true, but that it would have been an honor for him if the nationalization carried out by the Cárdenas (capitalist) government had been a result of his advice. When some of his disciples (who considered themselves Trotskyist but were not well read) protested, Trotsky explained that he supported the measure because it weakened imperialism and encouraged the struggle of Mexican workers. But he also asked them to keep in mind that when Lincoln won the US Civil War against the Southern slave states, Marx had sent him a congratulatory telegram, because although the victory represented a major boost to capitalism, it was historically progressive because the slave owners – who were allies of the British Empire – had been defeated. Between the industrial capitalists and the feudal slave owners, Marx did not hesitate to support the former, but would later fight them as a way to realize our goals. He went along with the most advanced sectors of the US society while nurturing the favorable conditions necessary for fighting them.

Trotsky once advised the Chinese Communists to ally themselves with Chiang Kai Shek (a bourgeois, liberal capitalist leader) as part of the war against Japan. Scandalized, his followers asked him if he knew who he was supporting. He responded: “Of course I know, but the need now is not to become be slaves of Japanese. Tomorrow it is possible or rather it is certain he will betray us, and then we will fight him. But the struggle is here and now, and we cannot…. confuse socialist strategy aimed at the future with the tactics that we must assume in the struggles of today.”

In Argentina, the part of the left that confuses tactics with strategy has been fighting for socialism in various ways for a hundred and fifty years, and celebrated enthusiastically when it recently polled 3% of the vote. In 1945, only the Frente Obrero (Workers Front) clearly stated their support for Peron,  but without becoming Peronist as a consequence. So, applying the experiences of Trotsky, and of Lenin when he said that we should not be confused about who the main enemy is, in an election that divides the country more or less into two, one candidate must be the principal enemy and the other a circumstantial ally who tomorrow we may possibly have to fight if the conditions, ( which almost certainly will), require us to. Lenin summed it up saying : “Hitting together, marching separately.”

Some people, added Trotsky, believe that everything is black or white and that gray areas do not exist, but politics is not like that, because of the risk of playing into the hands of a friend of the extreme right winger Donald Trump, who was also once a partner of Macri’s father in a the “Lincoln West” project in Manhattan[iii].

The small percentage of votes won by the FIT, which represented a lot of hard work on the part of its members – could be well spent by helping defeat the large national corporations and imperialism represented by Mauricio Macri. A blank vote[iv], on the other hand, is tantamount to avoiding the fight. Workers will be able to justly criticize those who choose to vote blank if the change of government brings us – as it well could – dependence, “carnal intercourse”, garbage contracts, 18% and not the 45% of national income that workers now receive … and we will then continue in the same vein as we have since 1875, using fine words and fighting valiantly but losing ourselves in the real hand to hand battles, because of not voting decisively against an internal and external enemy. Trotsky himself often had a hard time sustaining appropriate positions, but he always fought against capitalism, and against the Stalinist bureaucracy when it distorted the revolution. He even went on to warn that if the Russian people did not get rid of the bureaucracy it would eventually turn into a bourgeois clique, which in the end did take place. He always knew what needed to be done today, while holding your nose, in order to consolidate a socialist strategy for the future.

Original Article:

*  Translation lalineadefuego


[i] President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999.

[ii] President of Mexico between 1934 and 1940.

[iii] En-Trump-ado Mariano Yakimavicius, 20 Sept 2015

[iv] Voting blank is the FIT’s oficial position