RIP Fidel Castro – defend gains of Cuban revolution, resist capitalist restoration & fight for workers’ democracy!

RIP Fidel Castro – defend gains of Cuban revolution, resist capitalist restoration & fight for workers’ democracy!


As millions of ordinary working class people across the world wake up to the  sad news of Fidel Castro’s passing we post here two selected articles from the archives and a series of links to articles the Socialist Party and the international organisation we are part of – the Committee For Workers International. We will be posting a full obituary over the next day or so.


Castro and Che Guevara

The first is a review of ‘My Life – Fidel Castro’ by Tony Saunois from 2008.

The Second – ‘Cuba at a crossroads’ is an article from September 2015, written in reponse to the opening up of bilateral agreements and relations between the Cuban Regime and the USA state.

For more in depth reading we would urge anyone interested in the situation to read Peter Taffe’s book: Cuba – Socialism and Democracy


We would highlight the following paragraphs to summarise where Cuba stands today after Castro’s death and under the threat of further capitalist restoration…

Under the conditions of new international capitalist crisis, moves towards capitalist restoration can be checked. A mixed or hybrid situation could continue for some time. Initially such gains from the revolution such as the health care and the education system may be maintained although even these have suffered greatly from lack of investment in the recent period. Many obstacles remain to be overcome and some resistance is likely as the reality of capitalist restoration becomes apparent. Sections of the population are already fearful of loosing the gains of the revolution and of Cuba being turned into another Puerto Rico.

The need to build resistance to the developing pace of capitalist restoration and struggle for a genuine workers’ democracy and nationalised planned economy in Cuba is more urgent that ever. Such a movement could link together with the working class and youth throughout Latin America which is increasingly moving into struggle to defend its interests and begin to offer a real socialist alternative to capitalism which has fully learnt the lessons of the Cuban revolution.

These are the urgent steps needed to prevent the tendency towards capitalist restoration, defend the gains of the revolution and begin to build a genuine democratic socialist society based on workers’ democracy and democratic control.

Cuba: Obama’s visit
16/04/2016, Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interest
Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno, socialist corespondent in Havana, Cuba

Cuba: At a crossroads
12/09/2015, Gains of the revolution of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro under threat
Tony Saunois, CWI

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates
Tony Saunois, CWI

Cuba: Threat of capitalist restoration
02/11/2010, New pro-capitalist measures introduced by Raul Castro
Tony Saunois, CWI

‘Che Guevara – symbol of struggle’
16/04/2010, New foreword to Chinese edition to be published in June 2010 | China, Maoism, Nepal and India.
Tony Saunois, CWI

Cuba: 50 years since the Revolution

21/01/2009, End the sanctions! For workers’ democracy to defend and extend social gains!
Marcus Kollbrunner, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI Brazil)

Cuba: ‘My life– Fidel Castro’

02/04/2008, Book review
Tony Saunois, CWI

Cuba: Castro’s resignation opens up new chapter

21/02/2008, What are the prospects for the revolution?
Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales)

Cuba: What will happen after Castro?

25/09/2006, US imperialism certainly expects ‘regime change’, not just in the government of Cuba but also in its social system.
Peter Taaffe

Cuba: Can the revolution survive?

31/01/2005, What are the prospects for Cuba today?
Peter Taaffe, cwi

Cuba: How to defend the Cuban revolution26/04/2003,
Celso Calfullan, Socialismo Revolucionario, Chile

Cuba: Socialism and Democracy
31/05/2000, Peter Taaffe, International Secretariat of the CWI and general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)

‘My life– Fidel Castro’


Book review

Tony Saunois, CWI

pdf version

The publication of ‘My life – Fidel Castro’, (in English in 2007) was extremely timely, as Castro was to resign as president only a few months later. Based on over 100 hours of interviews, the answers given by Castro to the French writer and editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, and founder of ATTAC, Ignacio Ramonet, are very revealing and illuminating about the Cuban revolution and world events since 1959. They also reveal much about the political outlook and method of Fidel Castro.

Castro justifiably argues the impressive social gains conquered in medicine, health and education as a result of the revolution in 1959/60. “The life expectancy of Cuban citizens is now almost eighteen years longer than in 1959, when the Revolution came to power. “Cuba has an infant mortality rate under 6 per 1,000 live births in their first year of life, behind Canada by a slight margin. It will take us half the time it took Sweden and Japan to raise life expectancy from seventy to eighty years of age – today we are at 77.5”.

At the time of the revolution, Castro points out, life expectancy was 60! This was after 50% of doctors fled abroad following the revolution. For every doctor who remained at the time today there are 15!

Free education is open to all who are not employed in a job and over 90,000 students are currently studying medicine, nursing or other aspects of health related studies. All this, despite an economic embargo imposed by US imperialism since 1960 and a severe economic decline which followed the collapse of the former Soviet Union, in 1992, and consequential loss of economic subsidies.

These and other impressive achievements mentioned by Castro give a small glimpse of what would be possible with a socialist planned economy that was democratically controlled and managed by the working class. Another indication of this was reflected in some aspects of Cuba’s foreign policy. Apart from mobilizing over 30,000 doctors to work in over 40 countries one of the most impressive achievements was the sending of tens of thousands of “internationalist volunteers”, from 1975 onwards, to Angola and Namibia. In Angola, the 36,000 troops were able to do combat with the South African apartheid army and, for the first time, inflict a military defeat on it. Cuban forces were crucial in freeing Namibia from South African rule. Over 15 years, more than “300,000 internationalist combatants fulfilled their mission in Angola”. These struggles were to play an important role in the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. Cuba was, as Castro argues, “The only non-African country that fought and spilled its blood for Africa and against the odious apartheid regime”.

Hostility of US imperialism

From the very beginning, the Cuban revolution aroused the wrath of US imperialism which has sought to overthrow it on numerous occasions. Today, following Castro’s resignation, US imperialism and its representatives are eagerly hoping for the demise of the Cuban regime and collapse of the planned economy, which they will attempt to use to try and discredit ‘socialism’.

The ‘Bay of Pigs’ fiasco in 1962 is the most well known intervention by US imperialism against the revolution which followed Castro’s decreeing the ‘revolution’s socialist’ characteristic.

Castro lists a series of other attacks attempted by US backed exiles, the US security services and other reactionary counter revolutionaries. “In 1971, under Nixon, swine fever was introduced into Cuba in a container, according to a CIA source”. In 1981, type II dengue virus was unleashed and resulting in 158 deaths, 101 of them children. According to Castro, “In 1984 a leader of Omega 7 terrorist organization, based in Florida, admitted they had introduced that deadly virus into Cuba with the intention of causing the greatest number of victims possible”. Then there have been more than 600 plans to assassinate Castro’s.

The social gains of the revolution and brutal hostility by US imperialism revealed in this book, illustrate why Cuba is viewed with such sympathy by many workers and young people internationally, especially in Latin America. The same is true as regards Venezuela, although possibly to a lesser extent because of the failure of the revolution to advance and overthrow capitalism. Both Cuba and Venezuela are perceived as the only regimes prepared to resist the onslaught of neo-liberal capitalism during the 1990/2000s. Cuba won widespread sympathy as the only regime on the left that is prepared to stand up to the colossus of what Castro (and Hugo Chavez) justifiably refers to as the “empire” – US imperialism.

The collapse of the USSR

Castro’s response to a series of questions, especially regarding the 1990’s and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, reveal a very well-read individual, who attentively followed the world situation. It shows Castro, following the disastrous experiences of capitalist restoration in the former Soviet Union, is opposed to the same path being followed in Cuba. The fact that Cuba was able to survive without completely breaking up the planned economy and restoring capitalism is a measure of the social roots the revolution had established. It has more recently been assisted in this by the aid it has received from Venezuelan oil. The Cuba regime was also able to maintain more support when faced with the aggressive policy adopted towards it by US imperialism.

Revealingly, Castro exposes the role played by Felipe González, (the former leader of the Spanish Socialist Party – PSOE) in persuading former Soviet leader Gorbachev to support a policy of capitalist restoration. This was carried through when the ruling bureaucracy, as a whole, went over to capitalism. González, along with others, like Manual Fraga (a former Minister in Franco’s fascist regime and President of Galicia) attempted to persuade Castro to adopt the same road in the 1990’s. “Fraga is one of those people, along with González and others …who were part of the group that was so insistent about giving me economic advice when the USSR collapsed. He took me to a very elegant restaurant one night – and he tried to give me formulas too. ‘The formula for Cuba is the formula in Nicaragua’ , he said – that’s verbatim…”

Castro rejected this advice. He said the proposed formula “..has led Nicaragua into a bottomless abyss of corruption, theft, negligence…terrible…..they wanted me to follow the Russian formula, the one that Felipe and his elite advisers urged Gorbachev to follow…and there’s nothing left. All those men whose advice was to follow the tenets of neo-liberalism to the death – privatization, strict compliance to the IMF rules – have driven many countries and their inhabitants into the abyss”.

Yet, why did Castro not oppose similar advice to Tomás Borge and other Sandinista leaders in Nicaragua in the 1980’s prior to their defeat?

Collapse of ‘globalisation’ and the role of the working class

Isolated, and facing a tidal wave of neo-liberal policies internationally in the 1990’s, Castro reveals his approach in that period. In essence, Castro adopted a policy of buying time. This was linked with a perspective of waiting for ‘globalisation to collapse’. This, Castro anticipated, “would lead to a situation more critical than 1929.” Modern capitalism, he argues, has become so monopolized that, “There is no capitalism today, there is no competition. Today, what we have is monopolies in all the great sectors”.

A mere 500 global corporations control 80% of the world’s economy. Looking at the crisis unfolding in recent years, Castro concludes: “It’s no longer just a crisis in south East Asia , as it was in 1977, it’s a worldwide crisis, plus the war in Iraq, plus the consequences of huge debt, plus the growing waste and consequent cost of energy…plus the deficit on the part if the main economic and military power on the planet.” A system which Castro concludes is resulting in, “The world is being driven into a dead-end street”.

Yet, what is the social class that is capable of fighting this system and building a genuine democratic socialist alternative? In this book, Castro also reveals his lack of understanding of how and what class will be able to defeat capitalism and build a democratic socialist alternative. This leads him to adopting contradictory ideas and methods. Throughout the entire book there is no reference at all to the working class and its central role in the socialist revolution. Even when referring to the great general strike of ten million workers in France in 1968, Castro only mentions, in passing, that De Gaulle had gone to Germany to get the support of troops stationed there “to put down any attempt at popular rebellion.”

The absence of any reference to the working class is revealing about Castro’s attitude towards the Cuban revolution and, in general, to the character of the socialist revolution. For Castro, the working class does not play the central role. As Castro states, referring to the Cuban revolution, “But, for us, guerrilla warfare was the detonator of another process whose objective was the revolutionary taking over of power. And with a culminating point: a revolutionary general strike and general uprising of the populace”.

In other words, a guerrilla struggle which was then supported by the mass of the population where the working class played an auxilary role rather than the leading role. As the CWI explained in other articles and documents, because of a series of historical and subjective factors, the guerrilla struggle successfully unfolded in Cuba and only as the guerrilla army entered the cities did the urban masses come onto the streets.

In Castro’s My Life, there is some discrepancy between how Castro and the July 23 Movement viewed the revolution, as it began. Castro gives the impression that he had a clearly formulated ‘socialist’ objective from the beginning. However, as explained in other articles and documents of the Militant/CWI, at the time, and subsequently, we did not believe this was not the case. The leaders of the movement, in reality, had the objective of overthrowing Batista and the establishing a “modern democratic Cuba.” Che Guevara adopted a different attitude to the other leaders of the movement. As a consequence of the embargo of US imperialism and the pressure from the masses, the leaders were rapidly pushed in a more radical direction, which eventually snuffed out capitalism.

While the processes in Cuban revolution did not prevent the smashing of the old Batista regime, it did shape the nature of the state which replaced it. Although the working class supported the revolution, they were not consciously leading it, as the working class did in the Russian Revolution in 1917.

The Cuban regime

In Cuba, capitalism was overthrown following a series of tit-for-tat reprisals between the new Cuban government and US imperialism. While this represented a big step forward, it did not result in the establishment of a genuine workers’ and peasants’ democracy, such as was seen in Russia, in 1917, but brought about a bureaucratic regime, (with some elements of workers’ control at the beginning which have now largely been eroded), which managed a nationalized planned economy.

The real character of the state is perhaps inadvertently revealed by Ignacio Ramonet in his introduction to My Life, when he notes: “While he [Fidel Castro] is there [he] is but one voice. He makes all the decisions, big and small. Although he consults the political authorities in charge of the Party and the government very respectfully, very ‘professionaly’ during the decision making process, it is Fidel who finally decides”.

Castro also reveals how aspects of the state function during critical periods. He reveals that when faced with a decision to execute the army chief, Arnoldo Ochoa, for alleged drug trafficking, it was “a unanimous decision by the council of State, which has 31 members. Over time, the Council of State has become a judge and the most important thing is that you have to struggle to ensure that every decision is made with a concensus of members”.

The fact that this decision was taken without dissent says a lot about the character of this body and the influence of Castro, given the extremely controversial nature of the Arnoldo Ochoa case.

Castro also defends the idea of a one party state: “How could our country have stood firm if it had been split up into ten pieces?”

He also then proceeds to confuse this question by attacking the corruption and manipulation of the media in the capitalist west as being not real democracy. Yet this is an entirely different question to the right of workers, youth and intellectuals to form their own political parties, including Trotskyists parties, and to contest elections in a workers and peasants’ democracy.

A genuine regime of workers’ democracy would ensure the democratic election of all officials subject to recall, that state and party officials received no more than the average wage of skilled worker, and full freedom of expression of views and criticism. Such a regime, especially after nearly fifty years in power, should have nothing to fear from workers’, youth and intellectuals establishing their own political parties and organizations that defend the planned economy or agree not to take up arms or resort to violence in opposition to it.

This does not mean to say that Castro’s Cuba has taken on the same grotesque features of Stalin’s Russia, with mass purge trials, an unchecked cult of the personality around Stalin etc. There are still no portraits and streets named after Castro. There is no evidence of torture being used by the state. However, this does not mean that bureaucracy and that an element of corruption and priveleges do not exist. This has recently been shown in the admission of Cuban government that 15% of the population own 90% of the pesos held in bank accounts.

Cuba in isolation

The problem that has faced Castro during the 1990’s, following the collapse of the former USSR, has been one of isolation, combined with the limitations imposed by the existence of a bureaucracy and the absence of a real workers’ democracy. Measures, such as a partial opening up of the economy and partial dollarisation, were introduced by the regime to try and buy time. These bought their own increased contradictions, especially the partial dollarisation, which vastly increased differentials between those with access to the US dollar and those without, and created a growth of the black market and corruption.

The issue of Cuba’s isolation is linked to the defeat of the revolutionary movements which swept Latin America in the 1970/80’s. Castro draws no rounded-out conclusions regarding the reasons for these defeats. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua failed to defeat the Contras, he argues, because of compulsory military service. Castro says: “Nicaragua won its victory twelve years after Che’s death in Bolivia. That means the objective conditions in many countries in the rest of Latin America were better than those in Cuba”. But the central question is why then did the Sandinista’s then lose again to the counter revolution? On this issue Castro offers no real explanation. He does not comment upon the failure of the Sandinistas to overthrow capitalism. They held back from taking decisive measure to overthrown the system, especially in 1984, largely because of the pressure of the Stalinist bureaucracy in Moscow, which opposed this being done. Cuba, and Castro, backed up Moscow’s pressure and, at one stage, embargoed Russian MIG fighter planes in Havana which were destined for Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.

Commenting on the defeat of Allende, in 1973, the former president of Chile, Castro correctly denounces the role of US imperialism, but he draws no conclusion about the mistakes of the leaders of the Socialist and Communist Parties in Chile, which acted as a break on the revolution. Yet these defeats, and others, were crucial in Latin America during this period, and re-enforced Cuba’s isolation and dependency on the Soviet bureaucracy, at the time. Moreover, in a sense, Castro went on to repeat many of the mistakes made by the leaders of these movements in the advice he has recently given to Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Castro recounts that at the time of the thwarted right wing coup in Venezuela, in 2002, he urged Chávez not to resign. He urged Chávez to “get in touch with some officer with some real authority among the ranks of the coup members, assure them of his willingness to leave the country but not resign.”

Former president Allende, Castro argues, had no choice but to lay down his life during the rightwing coup in 1973 in Chile, claiming that Allende did not have the “support of a single soldier”. This was not true. Large sections of the army and navy in Chile supported the revolutionary process. It is estimated that Allende had the support of up to 30% of the military, at the time of the coup. The tragedy was that Allende failed to arm and mobilize the working class.

In My Life, Castro states that he advised Chavez, during the 2002 right wing coup attempt in Venezuela, that “trying to meet with the people in order to trigger national resistance…had virtually no possibility of success under those circumstances.”! Yet ‘national resistance’ erupted spontaneously from below and Chávez was returned to power by the masses. This advice is yet another example of Castro not seeing the masses and the working class as the leading force of a revolution but as an auxillary to either guerrilla organizations or sections of the military.

While coming into collision with the Stalinist Soviet bureaucracy, which Castro criticises, on occasions sharply, he did not provide an alternative to it. This again flows from Castro’s lack of understanding of and confidence in the working class. As a result, Castro’s criticisms ultimately led to acquiescence to the Stalinists. Castro also remained silent, on occasions, during major struggles between the state and workers and youth several countries.

Concerning Czechoslovakia’s ‘Prague Spring’, in 1968, while initially supporting some of the demands for greater democracy, freedom of expression, Castro concluded: “But from fair slogans there had been a move towards an openly reactionary policy. And we – bitterly, sadly – had to approve that military intervention”. Yet, in 1968, support for capitalist restoration was not the dominant idea in the former Czechoslovakia. The consciousness of the masses, in the main, at that time, was for “democratization of socialism” not capitalism.

Undoubtedly motivated by diplomatic and trading interests, the Cuban regime was silent when hundreds of students were massacred by the Mexican government in 1968. Castro says nothing of these events in his book.

By raising the specter of capitalist restoration in Czechoslovakia, at that time, Castro is confusing processes which emerged during the 1990’s and not the 1960’s and echoes the justification for the intervention given by the Russian Stalinists in 1968. Castro is clearly against a capitalist restoration in Cuba, especially having seen the consequences of it in the former USSR and Eastern Europe. He probably correctly concludes that former Soviet leader Gorbachev, whom Castro describes, at one point, as a “true revolutionary socialist”, ended up as a central figure in the process of capitalist restoration, although this was not Gorbahev’s original intention. As Castro puts it: “But he [Gorbahev] couldn’t manage to find solutions to the big problems his country had.”

Boris Yeltsin, who was also central to the process of capitalist restoration, is described by Castro as an “outstanding Party Secretary in Moscow, with lots of good ideas”.

Castro identifies some of the crucial problems facing the former Soviet Union; waste, corruption, mismanagement and its failure to develop and to apply the use of modern computers. Yet, he also fails to offer a clear solution to the bureaucratic rule and waste, which lay in the need to remove the Stalinist bureaucracy and to establish a genuine system of workers’ democracy. Without this, none of the huge problems he indentifies could be resolved.

However, many of these features exist in Cuba, as well. In My Life, Castro also reveals some of the conflicts that took place between the Soviet bureaucracy and the Cuban regime. When asked if the Cubans were consulted about the final withdrawal of Soviet troops, from Cuba, in September 1991, Castro responds: “Consult. They never consult. By that time they were falling apart. Everything they took without consultation.”

Castro also reveals, in letters published in English, for the first time, the erratic attitude that his regime sometimes adopted. This is especially shown in the book’s chapter dealing with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. As the crisis intensified, Castro shows that he urged the USSR not to leave itself open to a “first strike” nuclear attack and should launch a nuclear attack first in the event of direct offensive action against Cuba by the USA.

“It is my position that once the aggression has occurred, the aggressors must not be given the privilege to decide when nuclear arms will be used…from the moment imperialism unleashed an attack against Cuba, and in Cuba, and therefore against the forces of the USSR stationed here…a response be given the aggressors against Cuba and the USSR in the form of an annihilating attack.”

Krushchev and the Soviet bureaucracy did not accept this proposal.

Today, Castro contradicts his earlier stance and comments, when he is asked if Cuba wants to manufacture a nuclear bomb: “You’ll ruin yourself – a nuclear weapon is a good way to commit suicide at a certain point.”

Stalin and Trotsky

Significantly, Castro is openly critical of Stalin and concludes, “The more intellectual of the two was, without a doubt, Trotsky.” However, this is not to say that Castro supported the ideas and methods explained in Trotsky’s writings. Castro quite wrongly dismisses any suggestion that Che Guevara was beginning to look for an alternative and had begun to read Trotsky’s works or was in any way affected by his ideas. In doing so, Castro brushes aside the evidence to the contrary, as featured by Celia Hart, Jon Lee Anderson and the Mexican writer, Paco Ignacio Taibo.

A striking feature of My Life is Castro’s attitude to world leaders and the pro-capitalist leaders of the former mass workers’ parties. For Marxists, opposing the system these leaders defend is not a personal question. Yet Castro goes out of his way to heap praise on some of these leaders, despite peppering it with critical references to what these leaders did. Former US President Jimmy Carter is described as a “man of integrity”. Charles De Gaulle is accredited with saving France “its traditions, its national pride, the French defiance.” A Minister in Franco’s fascist government in Spain, is, in Castro’s opinion, “an intelligent, shrewd Galician”. President Lula, in Brazil, is praised as “a tenacious and fraternal fighter for the rights of labour and the Left, and a friend of our people.” And Castro views “the reforms that Lula is implementing very positively”. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of Lula’s “reforms” have been neo-liberal attacks on the rights of the working class.

Concerning the future of Cuba, Castro is adamant that the revolution will be maintained, with no threat of capitalist restoration. However, despite the strong legacy that remains and support for the gains of the revolution, the threat of restoration is growing. Since the publication of My Life, Castro has resigned as leader. Raul, his brother, and other powerful sections of the Cuban bureaucracy, are intent on moving towards opening up the market economy in Cuba. If Castro sees this threat, he evidently was not prepared to play the role of Gorbachev or Yeltsin in assisting this process.

The publication of My Life provides an illuminating insight into Fidel Castro; his role and methods. Above all, it is necessary to learn from the experiences Castro recounts. It shows the vital necessity to develop genuine workers’ democracy and socialism.


Cuba At a crossroads


Gains of the revolution of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro under threat

Tony Saunois, CWI

The Financial Times boasted: “There is a new entry among Cuba’s roll of importantn dates. Alongside Fidel Castro’s 26th July movement and the January 1st 1959 ’triumph of the revolution’, there is now December 17th 2014.” (Financial Times June 15 2015).

The Financial Times is confusing revolution with counter revolution. December 17th 2014 was when US President Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro announced a series of historic agreements to normalise bilateral elations. These restored diplomatic relations between the two countries, a relaxation easing on travel restrictions and the first tentative steps signalling the easing of the trade embargo which had been imposed since the revolution in 1959/60. Since then the US has re-opened it’s embassy in Havana.

These developments represent a decisive shift in the policy of US imperialism towards Cuba. It also, in this context, signifies a further qualitative step by the Cuban regime towards capitalist restoration. The latter has been unfolding for a number of years.

Obama made these announcements as he put it recognising that “You cannot keep doing the same thing (for more than 50 years) and expect a different result”. The European ruling classes, the Canadian and much of Latin American capitalism adopted a different approach – one which Obama has now embraced.

Raul Castro made the announcement and urged that Obama be awarded the Nobel Peace prize! A “peace prize” for a US president that has carried out more drone attacks than George Bush!

Since the Cuban revolution in 1959/60 US imperialism has enacted a strict embargo and undertaken various attempts – including armed intervention in 1961 – to overthrow the Cuban regime and restore capitalism. Despite the crippling consequences of the embargo – estimated to have cost the Cuban economy US$1 trillion since it’s enforcement – this policy has failed. This was mainly due to the deep social roots of the revolution and support for it which has lasted for decades. The trade embargo was a policy which was also geared to winning the political support of the Miami Cuban exiles who had fled from the revolution.

US imperialism is now adopting a new policy of beginning to move towards lifting the embargo. The threat of capitalist restoration to an isolated workers’ state can come not only from the threat of military intervention. As Trotsky warned in relation to the former USSR, it can come in the form of “cheap goods in the baggage train of imperialism”. The objective of US imperialism is the same but now they hope to reach it by a different route. Now they hope to flood the Cuban economy with goods and investment with the aim of fully restoring capitalism and exploiting Cuba’s resources for themselves. If this is achieved it will end Cuba being identified in Latin America and internationally as being a reference point of an alternative to capitalism.

This change of policy by US imperialism has been facilitated by a generational change and outlook within the exiled Cuban community. While previously wedded to support for the embargo and a struggle to overthrow the regime now, according some opinion polls, 52% of Cubans living in the USA now support ending the embargo. Sections of the capitalist class like the sugar magnate Alfy Fanjul, have pronounced in favour of the lifting of the embargo no doubt with an eye to the prospects of new markets and commodities to exploit within a new capitalist Cuba.

Cuba faces a devastating economic situation. Many Cubans are dependent on remittances they receive from families in the USA. An estimated 62% of Cuban households now receive support from abroad. According to some economic estimates they sustain an incredible 90% of the retail market.

The dire economic situation in Cuba has meant a disastrous situation for the masses. The massive social gains conquered as a result of the revolution and overthrow of capitalism are being eroded. The collapse of the former USSR and loss of subsidies devasted the Cuban economy. Yetb support for the revolution and hostility to capitalism and US imperialism meant that the Cuban regime incredibly was able to maintain the planned economy and bureaucratic regime throughout the 1990s (the ’Special Period’) and into the early part of the 21st century. This was despite the fact that the value of wages in Cuba today is estimated to be worth only 28% of what is was prior to the collapse of the former USSR!

The regime and planned economy hung on through this period despite the tidal wave of free market capitalism which dominated the world economy in this period. The regime regime was also able to sustain itself politically using the US embargo which fuelled hostility to US imperialism. The arrival of Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela also brought it a breathing space through its supply of cheap petrol and oil. Subsidies from Venezuela are estimated to stand at US1.5billion per annum in an economy estimated at US$80 billion.

The lack of genuine workers control and democracy and consequential bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption further dogged and aggravated the economic and social crisis caused by the embargo and isolation.

The revolutionary convulsions which swept Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador at the beginning of the century offered the prospect for Cuba to break out of its isolation. A genuine workers’ democracy would have seized this opportunity and taken the steps necessary to try and form a socialist federation of these countries. This could have allowed economic co-operation and planning between these countries and could have begun to appeal to the working class of the whole of Latin America to offer an alternative to capitalism.

Unfortunately neither the Cuban bureaucratic regime nor the reformist leaderships of Morales, Chavez or Carrera were prepared to take this step. The latter have remained trapped within capitalism despite initially introducing reforms and taking some measures to encroach on the interests of the ruling class and imperialism. The Cuban regime on the other hand has introduced a series of incremental steps beginning the process of capitalist restoration. These latest developments threaten a further advance in the threat of counter revolution.

Although the easing on travel restrictions will be welcomed other steps represent a threat to the remaining gains conquered by the revolution which. These were already being eroded and dismantled. Any that remain are now under serious threat. The new labour code represents a serious attack on workers’ rights. The age of retirement was raised by 5 years in 2008. The introduction of the “dual currency” exchange whereby some workers are now paid in dollars vastly exacerbated inequality between those paid in dollars and those in pesos. The regime created the ’convertible peso’ or CUC which is pegged 1:1 with the dollar which is used in the tourist sector and imported products. Local products use the local peso CUP which is equal to about 1:25 of the CUC. The government announced its intention to scrap this dual currency but this has not so far been implemented.

This has inevitably boosted the black market. The government established a target of removing over 1 million workers from the state sector and allowing the establishment of thousands of small and medium sized businesses – 500,000 licenses have already been issued – “cuentapropistas”. However, these have centred on small businesses like restaurants – mainly operating from peoples houses.

The number of workers employed in the private sector has increased from approximately 140,000 to 400,000 since 2007. While this is significant it still represents a minority of the total work force of over 5 million.

A bridgehead for capitalist restoration has been developed in the tourist sector which has been the centre thus far of foreign investment from Europe, Canada, Brazil and more recently Chinese enterprises. Prostitution, banished from society following the revolution is now back on the streets of Havana, especially in the tourist areas.

Special Development Zones have been opened like the building of a new port facility in Mariel Bay – financed by investment from Brazilian and Singapore capitalism. This is viewed with a future eye for the ending of the US trade embargo and to capitalise on the expansion of the Panama canal and the new canal being planned in Nicaragua. Here investors will be given 50 years contracts compared with the current 25 year one. Investors can have 100% ownership. They will be charged no labour or local taxes and granted a 10 year reprieve from paying a 12% tax on profits.

However, despite these developments foreign investors are compelled to negotiate with the government or state run companies. While the Cuban regime still uses some socialist rhetoric, in part reflecting the support which still exists for the revolution, especially amongst the older generation, it increasingly reverts to Jose Marti, the leader of the independence movement against the Spanish colonisers.

The younger generation, desperate to enjoy new freedoms – use of the internet and travel amongst others – have experienced not the gains but the regression of the revolution and economic and social crisis and the stifling dead hand of the bureaucracy

Initially the attraction of the arrival of “cheap goods in the baggage train of imperialism” may hold an initial attraction until the reality of life in capitalist society becomes apparent.

These developments clearly represent an important retrogressive steps in the re-introduction of capitalism. This process is clearly under way in some sectors. However, it is far from completed. Steps towards the “free market” are allowed under continued state supervision, agreement and control. The state still maintains a powerful control and could choke off these steps at any time. Foreign investors still need to negotiate directly with the government or state controlled companies. The decisive sectors of the economy have still not been privatised or sold to foreign capitalists.

As Rafael Hernandez, the Cuban editor of “Temas” (A cultural state published magazine) pointed

out; “All of Raul’s economic reforms involved decentralisation, which is good, as cuba needs that. The problem is this …it has not happened”. (Financial Times 15 june 2015).

Even US capitalists, eager to take back what they lost in the revolution, are treading cautiously. As one investor was quoted as saying, “It makes sense. Start small, learn how the system works and then see how it goes”.

For socialists and the working class the steps towards capitalist restoration represent a backward step. They will signify the erosion of the gains of the Cuban revolution for the masses. They will also be utilised by the ruling class, especially in Latin America, to try and again discredit the idea of socialism as an alternative to capitalism.

However, this will not have the same effects as the ideological offensive against the idea of socialism which the ruling class unleashed following the collapse of the former Stalinist regimes in the ex-USSR and Eastern Europe. A new phase of capitalist crisis and workers’ struggles has opened up internationally. The working class and the masses has passed through twenty five years of the “supremacy of the free market” and is beginning to struggle against it. In Brazil, Argentina, Chile and other countries a new cycle of workers’ struggle has begun.

The lifting of the embargo would represent a defeat for the past policy of US imperialism and its’ attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime. It will give Cuba more opportunity to trade on the world market. However, without the existence of a genuine workers’ democracy this includes the danger that can threaten the acceleration of capitalist restoration. A state monopoly of foreign trade, controlled democratically by a genuine regime of workers’ democracy is essential to help prevent this increasing threat. Socialists welcome the increased freedom to travel.

The transition to a full capitalist restoration in Cuba however will not be a straightforward uninterrupted process. Sections of the regime do not seem to want to go in this direction. Significantly Maiela Castro, daughter of Raul firmly stated as this deal was announced that: The people of Cuba don’t want to return to capitalism”.

There are many obstacles still to be overcome for the lifting of the trade embargo. Not least opposition to such steps by the far right wing of the Republicans in the US congress. The question of US$7 billion claims for compensation from former owners of companies nationalised at the time of the revolution. On theother hand Fidel Castro on his 89th birthday raised the question of “numerous millions of dollars” being paid in damages to Cuba by the USA to cover the costs of the embargo.

Under the conditions of new international capitalist crisis moves towards capitalist restoration can be checked. A mixed or hybrid situation could continue for some time. Initially such gains from the revolution such as the health care and the education system may be maintained although even these have suffered greatly from lack of investment in the recent period. Many obstacles remain to be overcome and some resistance is likely as the reality of capitalist restoration becomes apparent. Sections of the population are already fearful of loosing the gains of the revolution and of Cuba being turned into another Puerto Rico.

The need to build resistance to the developing pace of capitalist restoration and struggle for a genuine workers’ democracy and nationalised planned economy in Cuba is more urgent that ever. Such a movement could link together with the working class and youth throughout Latin America which is increasingly moving into struggle to defend its interests and begin to offer a real socialist alternative to capitalism which has fully learnt the lessons of the Cuban revolution..


Coventry City Council announces plans for devastating cuts

Coventry City Council announces plans for devastating cuts

Coventry City Council plans more cuts

Coventry City Council has announced plans for further crushing cuts that will affect people all across our city.

Working class people across the board will be hit – there are plans to increase Council Tax whilst weekly bin collections are stopped meaning the public paying more but getting less, reductions in Council Tax Support that will damage low paid workers, the threat of another 200 jobs being slashed (on top of the 2,100 that have been lost since 2010), and the possibility of the terms and conditions of the remaining staff being attacked and much more.

The Council are already ‘consulting’ on plans to close and cut public libraries, nursery provision and youth clubs, looking to replace staff in libraries with volunteers who will work for free. All this at the time Coventry is bidding for City of Culture!

In addition to the council cuts, of £19 million in the next financial year rising to £36 million a year by 2020, Coventry is also due to lose by 2020 a further £30 million across all schools in the city. That’s a 14% funding cut and, if those cuts are not challenged, they could be hundreds less teachers in the city in four years’ time.

Tory austerity is hitting cities like Coventry hard. The Coventry Telegraph estimates that the city has lost around £95 million in funding since 2010.

Is there an alternative to hundreds of job losses, “redesign” of bin collections, rising charges for burials and cremation, for car parks and in the council tax – whilst the vulnerable and the working poor face cuts in Council Tax Support?

Yes. And it has to start with Labour standing up to the Tories, not just, however unwillingly, doing their work.

Unfortunately rather than put up any resistance the Council have proceeded to implement all cuts that have been asked for by central government.

The Labour Council should be honest with the people of Coventry: cuts are already hurting – and the further cuts coming in educational services such as speech therapy and the Performing Arts service make hollow the aspiration to be UK City of Culture 2021.

Total council reserves, which rose from £41 million to £84 million over the last five years, have risen again, to £95 million! Surely, within that sum, there is scope for not proceeding with the £19 million cuts proposed for 2017/18 and instead temporarily funding those services from reserves whilst leading a serious campaign against the Tories for the restoration of essential local funding.

Cllr John Mutton and others have said that this is not a solution and you can only use reserves once. However what the Socialist Party have consistently argued is that the reserves should be used as a short term measure to plug the gap and keep key services going whilst at the same time building a massive campaign to demand more funds from central government.

We have explained before how this approach worked in cities like Liverpool where the equivalent of £60 million was won for the city from the claws of Margaret Thatcher. Would this be easy? No, absolutely not. The choice though is to fight, or to implement cuts that are going to hit the people of Coventry. Labour have a duty to stand up for the people of Coventry, not carry out this savage austerity.

A campaign should include:

  • public meetings in every ward explaining the consequences of Tory cuts;
  • a march and rally through the city, with national labour and trade union speakers, to unite the thousands who could be involved if a serious lead was given;
  • a conference held in Coventry of Labour local authority representatives and trade unions from across the country, to broaden support and work out a common agenda of resistance;
  • a national demonstration organised by Labour and the TUC early in the New Year to demand an end to cuts and restoration of the billions of pounds stolen from local towns and cities.
  • The council trade unions should gear up to oppose these cuts and defend jobs and services, if necessary by taking industrial action

The Socialist Party will be campaigning against these attacks, and for a fighting programme to defend our jobs and vital services. If you agree and want to get involved, fill in the form below

We urge readers to join the campaign event organised by unions outside the Central Library on Saturday 3rd December at 12pm

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics 

Dave Nellist fighting his expulsion from the Labour Party (pic: BBC Sunday Politics)

Dave Nellist was on the Sunday Politics today discussing the application from 75 expelled Labour Party members, including himself, to rejoin the party and support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Dave was a Labour MP and was expelled in the early 90s for his support for backing the campaign to build non-payment of Thatcher’s Poll Tax. The Sunday Politics said he was “synonymous with the most radical side of Labour.”

During the feature a clip was shown from one of the many meetings held by Militant members fighting the witch-hunt within the party. Two of the speakers on the platform were Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn himself!

Some people in the Labour Party are apparently “terrified” of the prospect of our members being allowed to rejoin. Why is that? Why are our ideas so terrifying to the right-wing “moderates”? Apparently they are to John Spellar MP, who referred to us as “dedicated Trotskyists” with our own organisation.

He also claimed that we “caused trouble” in Coventry. What trouble would that be John? Having a Labour MP elected in 1983 and 1987 on an increased majority? Was it ‘causing trouble’ that Dave only took a workers wage, unlike the majority of politicians who take the massive salaries and claim huge expenses on top?

We are not ashamed of  our ideas or methods.
Are we Trotskyists? Guilty.
Are we organised? Guilty.
Do we support Jeremy Corbyn against the so called moderates? Guilty.
Are we Socialists? Guilty.
Are we committed to replacing capitalism with a new type of society that puts the needs of working people and the planet before private profit? Guilty – and proud of it!

We will continue to help organise campaigns against the capitalist austerity cuts that are damaging so many lives. All Labour MPs and Councillors should be doing the same!

Capitalism has long proven that it can not provide even the basics for the majority of the population here in the UK and around the world. We need socialist change more than ever and that explains why Jeremy Corbyn has gained so much support amongst people.

Agree with our ideas? Want to support the “organised Trotskyists” trying to change the world?  Get in touch by filling in the form below!

“I had to spend £350 to visit my dying husband” – Socialist Party campaigns against NHS cuts in Radford

“I had to spend £350 to visit my dying husband”

Socialist Party campaigns against NHS cuts in Radford


Signing the petition against the PFI parking charges at Walsgrave

Members of the Socialist Party were out in Jubilee Crescent, Radford on Saturday morning for our regular campaigning activity highlighting the scandal of cuts in the NHS particularly focusing on the outrageous car parking charges at Walsgrave Hospital.

We had many people sign our petitions, with leaflets taken away highlighting the way forward in the battle to save the NHS.

Several of the people who supported our petition told us about the all to familiar experiences of the car parking rip off at the hospital.

One woman told us over an 11 week period she had to spend over £350 to visit her husband who sadly passed away. Another told us of how his wife had been hurt in a car accident and he had already spent £110 to visit her.

As the result of years of the Socialist Party campaigning on this issue, many are already aware that the car parking charges are the symptom not the disease – that it is all linked to the Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) involved in the NHS.

Our leaflet stated

‘Kick out NHS profiteers! We need to kick the fat cats out of the NHS. The NHS is being privatised bit by bit. Services have gone to private firms across the country and the consequences are already being seen. Services have worsened and are costing more as companies cream off a profit.

The Socialist Party calls for a comprehensive, high-quality NHS, under democratic control with free care at the point of use’

That is why we are supporting the national demonstration on Saturday 4th March, 2017 to defend our NHS (more details to come)

We also had many conversations about the cuts to council services – where unfortunately the Labour Council, rather than providing resistance to Tory austerity is actually closing our libraries, children’s centres and youth clubs.

Thank you to all who signed our petitions, took leaflets away, bought our newspaper The Socialist or donated to help keep our anti-austerity campaigns going.

Buckingham Palace repairs and the 99%

Buckingham Palace repairs and the 99%


Buckingham Palace

The recent news that the taxpayer will have to pay £370 million for the repairs at Buckingham Palace has been greeted with anger from many quarters. Little wonder when many working class people are working longer for less pay, or have to go through the humiliating experience of benefit sanctions as seen in the Ken Loach film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’.

We publish the following comments from Socialist Party member Dave Griffiths, who makes some pertinent points regarding the widening gap between the rich and the rest of us.

“It’s hardly a big surprise that our public taxes will pay for the repairs to Buckingham Palace.

Rightly many will think that just a tad unfair and will complain. While we do that however, there’s a stunning fact we should all consider.

In terms of living standards, the peasant under feudalism was closer to the monarch than the 99% of us are to the elite 1% today.

So if we want to do something about the outrageous gaps between the lives of ‘ordinary’ folk and the ever more powerful elite who rule us, really, our focus should be on dumping capitalism.”

Angry and want to do something about it? Click here

#PriceOfFootball- Coventry City ticket prices rise

#PriceOfFootball- Coventry City ticket prices rise 

Image result for cov city

Coventry City fans haven’t had much to celebrate in recent seasons, and today’s BBC Price of Football survey shows that despite that they’ve been paying more money to line the pockets of the club’s hedge fund owners, SISU.

The cheapest match day ticket to watch Cov is 9% above the league average, and the cheapest season ticket is 5% above it. Getting a programme, a pie and a cup of tea will cost you more at the Ricoh than the league average. A child’s shirt will set you back £36, 12% above the league average, and an adult shirt is £45 – the highest in the league!

The mega-rich owners of clubs like CCFC don’t care about football fans, they just want to make money out of our game. Ticket prices in the German Bundesliga are cheaper than tickets to watch Cov – because clubs in Germany are largely owned by fans, who care about the game. Reclaim the game – kick out hedge funds and big businesses!

If you want to read more about the socialist programme for winning back football for the fans – click here to read our Reclaim the Game pamphlet!

Lively protest against youth club closures

Lively protest against youth club closures


‘Keep Cov’s youth clubs!’ On the march through the city centre

Last Saturday saw a lively demonstration take place through Coventry city centre organised by young people opposed to the Council’s plans to close youth clubs in the city.

Despite miserable weather the march won both the attention and support of shoppers as it made it’s way twice through the city of Coventry. The well made and bright placards explained the situation with slogans such as ‘Don’t give up on young people’, ‘More youth clubs, not less!’and ‘We make new friends at youth club’.

If the Council get away with closing these youth clubs it would be yet another hammer blow for ordinary people in the city with libraries and nursery provision also threatened with being cut under the banner of the ‘Connecting Communities’ cuts programme (it would be more accurate to call it ‘Dis-Connecting Communities’). And all of this takes place as the Council makes a bid for Coventry to become the City of Culture!

A petition has been started and we would encourage all readers of this site to sign it by clicking here

Photos of the protest can be viewed here

All Coventry people need to get behind the young people and their supporters campaigning to save their services. The youth are leading the way in fighting back and we need everyone to do the same.

The Socialist Party in Coventry are proud to support this campaign like we have done others in the city against the cuts.

Please see the article below which is the text of a leaflet we have produced against Connecting Communities and how we think the Labour Council should be fighting the government cuts, not implementing them.

‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from the City Council

Councillors should fight austerity – not implement it

Coventry City Council is ‘consulting’ on proposals that will have a devastating impact on Coventry people, and change the nature of vital public services including public libraries, youth work and nursery provision, children’s and youth centres.

The Council wants to get rid of paid staff in the libraries and replace them with volunteers who will work for free. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the ‘Big Society’ of David Cameron and the Tories. Unfortunately it is being introduced by a Labour council here in Coventry.

Last year the council ‘consulted’ over plans to cut £1.2m from libraries and play centres. Despite dozens of meetings the Council largely ignored the opposition and went ahead with closing play centres on Eagle Street and Edgewick, cutting spending on library books and DVDs, and reducing library staff and opening hours. Now they’re coming back for more! 

Right-wing Labour want 3x as much in cuts to libraries, nurseries, youth clubs and community centres next year – £3.8m!

And to rub salt into the wound, whilst the council is again organising meetings to ‘listen to people’s views’, at the very same time it had set up a fund, over £1/2m, to give grants to those who want to take over services under threat.

Jeremy Corbyn has just been re-elected as Labour leader on an anti-austerity platform. However Labour councils like here in Coventry, or in Durham and Derby where they are attacking low paid education workers, are undermining his anti-austerity message.

It’s true the Tories have slashed the amount of money provided to our city. Their only concern is to protest the bankers and the 1%. However Labour locally could be opposing these cuts. For example:

  • Use the reserves to hold off the cuts. The Council has increased its reserves from £40m in 2010 to £84m today. Use some of this money to buy time to build a massive campaign of unions, local communities and service users to demand more money from central government.
  • Councillors should look to link up with other local authorities including calling a conference of councillors and unions from local government to build a massive national campaign to restore funding to our councils.

Unfortunately our Council has done neither of these. Not one Labour Councillor has voted against any of the proposed cuts packages. We need councillors that will fight these cuts and stand up for our communities. At the same time we need build a movement that can challenge capitalist austerity and lead a fight for a socialist system which can guarantee our public services and put the interests of working class people before private profit.

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump’s policies, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of socialism

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump’s policies, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of socialism


Darletta v Fox News

We are pleased to publish this press release from the Socialist Party in Birmingham regarding a public meeting taking place on Tuesday night (15th Nov). This is an excellent opportunity to hear first hand about the growing movement in the US following Trump’s election – if you would like more information please in touch by calling 07530429441

Press release

14.11.16 – for immediate use

US Socialist to speak in Birmingham on resistance to Trump and Black Lives matter

Darletta Scruggs was an organiser of the Movement for Bernie in Chicago where she is also an activist with Black Lives Matter and the 15Now campaign for a $15/hr minimum wage. She is a member of Socialist Alternative, co-thinkers of the Socialist Party in the USA,  who have been the key organisers of the anti-Trump protests in cities across the US. Read more here

Darletta says: “Donald Trump was the most hated Presidential candidate in the history of this country, according to the polls. Yet Hillary Clinton, the Wall Street, Wal-Mart, warmonger, couldn’t defeat him. Now, tens of millions of people are both afraid and angry.

“We marched for Bernie and we fight for free education and $15. We will take to the streets in protest to fight against Trump’s racist, sexist and billionaire agenda.”

Here you can see a clip of Darletta when she was on Fox News defending free education: 

Darletta says: “Me and millions like me marched and campaigned for Bernie Sanders but the Democratic nomination was rigged against us. He should have stood. Sanders would have likely defeated Trump, and Bernie could have cut across Trump’s bluster if he’d run as an independent like Socialist Alternative urged.”

Watch this clip to see Darletta doing a speech on the March for Bernie in Chicago earlier this year:

Socialist Alternative is organising protests across the country against Trump’s agenda. Trump is bound to disappoint many of those who backed him in the mistaken hope that he would act in favour of working people.

Three years ago Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant was elected as the first socialist representative in Seattle in 100 years. Since then Kshama has led the successful movement which introduced a $15 wage in the city.

Darletta will be speaking at a public meeting, to which all are welcome  in Birmingham on Tuesday 15 November on the subject of the battle against Trump’s agenda and the rise of socialism and Black Lives Matter in the USA at 7.30pm at the Victoria Pub, John bright Street, Birmingham City Centre, B1 1BN

Click here to access the Facebook event

We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%


Socialist Alternative have initiated mass protests across the United States

We are proud to publish the latest analysis from Socialist Alternative, our co-thinkers in the United States.

Last night (9 November), Socialist Alternative organised mass marches and rallies across the US as a first response to Trump’s election. Tens of thousands of people attended, at only hour’s notice.

We urge people to help share this article amongst family and friends, and if you agree to join the fight for a new type of society. The choice before us is clear. Get active in the movement for Socialism here in the UK and across the world. Click here or fill in the form at the end of the article.

We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

By Tom Crean and Philip Locker

People in the US and around the world awoke today to one of the most shocking political upsets in living memory with the election of Donald Trump as president. It was the culmination of an election cycle when ordinary Americans rose up against the political establishment and against the destructive effects of globalization and neo-liberalism. This was expressed both on the left, with the campaign of Bernie Sanders which galvanized millions for a “political revolution against the billionaire class,” and, in a distorted way, on the right with Trump’s campaign.

But Trump did not just run as the alleged defender of the “forgotten men and women” in working class communities. He also ran the most overtly bigoted and chauvinist campaign of a major party candidate in modern times. He created a space for white nationalists and open white supremacists to come out of their holes and try to reach disaffected white workers and youth. This is a very dangerous development.

However, we completely reject the notion – relentlessly pushed by liberal commentators, trying to deflect from the staggering failure of the Democratic Party – that the outcome demonstrates that the bulk of the white working class shares Trump’s racism and xenophobia. Clinton actually won the popular vote by a narrow margin. Trump only got 47.5% overall, with tens of millions of the poorest and most downtrodden Americans not voting.

Trump’s vote was first and foremost a vote against Clinton and the establishment; it was a vote for a “change agent” against a consummate representative of the corporate status quo. Many responded to his attacks on the “rigged system” and corporations who move jobs overseas.What was tragically missing was a clear choice on the left that could offer an alternative to the seduction of right populism.

Socialist Alternative stands with the millions of women who are disgusted by the election of an open misogynist and correctly see it as a step backward; with Latinos who fear that mass deportations of undocumented workers are about to ramp up to unprecedented levels; with Muslims and African Americans who fear that Trump’s hate speech will incite more violence and the growth of a far right force.

We immediately called protests in cities around the country to make it clear that working people and the oppressed must stand together and prepare to resist the attacks of the right. In the past 24 hours we have been inundated with requests for more information about our organization. We must start today to build a genuine political alternative for the 99% against both corporate dominated parties and the right so that in 2020 we will not go through this disaster again.

A Shock to the Ruling Class

It needs to be underlined that the outcome of this election was not just a shock to tens of millions of progressive workers, women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people but also – for quite different reasons – to the ruling elite of the United States.

The majority of the ruling class see Trump as temperamentally “unfit to govern.” It is certainly true that Trump’s bully boy approach of publicly humiliating opponents and reacting to every perceived slight with nasty twitter posts has more in common with “strongmen” dictators in “failed states.” Even George Bush was not as proudly ignorant of international affairs as Trump. The ruling class see a Trump presidency as potentially deeply damaging to the interests of US imperialism at a time when its global power is waning, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, challenged by Russia and especially by an increasingly assertive Chinese imperialism.

They strongly object to Trump’s vociferous rejection of free trade deals and the dominant capitalist economic doctrines of the past forty years. But the truth is that globalization is stalled. Its engine of trade has gone into partial reverse. The Trump vote has some parallels with the Brexit vote in Britain to leave the European Union earlier this year which also reflected a massive rejection of globalization and neo-liberalism by the British working class.

The ruling class also fear that Trump’s crude racism, xenophobia, and misogyny will provoke social upheaval in the US. In this they will certainly be proved right.

At a deeper level, perhaps the most shocking aspect of this outcome for the ruling elite – including the corporate executives and the political establishment and corporate media outlets who serve them – is that the way they have dominated politics in this country through the two party system is broken. In election cycle after election cycle, the primaries have been used to weed out candidates who are not acceptable to corporate interests. Then the electorate would be left with the choice of two “vetted” nominees. The corporate elite might strongly prefer one or the other but they could live with either. Ordinary people were then left with the choice of picking a “lesser evil” or voting for a third party candidate with no chance of winning.

All that changed in 2016. First Bernie Sanders raised $220 million dollars without taking a dime from corporate America and came very close to defeating Hillary in the rigged Democratic primary. Trump was also largely shunned by the Republican “donor class” and the last two Republican presidents and the most recent Republican nominee were very public in rejecting him.

The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

It is still staggering that the outcome of the primaries left people with a choice between the two  most unpopular major party candidates of the modern era. Exit polling showed 61% of voters had an unfavorable view of Trump and 54% said the same about Clinton.

In the primaries, the Democratic National Committee did everything it could to stack the deck for the establishment’s chosen candidate, Hillary Clinton, against Sanders whom polls showed consistently doing much better against Trump. This speaks directly to the fact that a significant element of Trump’s eventual electorate was open to a genuine working class argument opposing the power of Wall Street and their free trade agenda while calling for a $15 minimum wage, free college, single payer healthcare and massive investment in green infrastructure. But the truth is that the Democratic leadership would rather lose than to be tied to a program that really spoke to the interests of working people and the poor.

Disgracefully most union leaders threw their support and millions of dollars behind Clinton in the primaries while an important section of trade unionists and several national unions backed Sanders. In this way, the labor leadership helped to prop up Wall Street’s candidate against a pro-working class challenge.

Clinton limped into the general election as a deeply damaged corporate candidate. What received the most attention in the media was the State Department email scandal. But the continuing Wikileaks revelations also confirmed in detail and underlined the picture that Sanders had painted in the primary: that Clinton was a servant of Wall Street who said one thing in private speeches to bankers who handed her millions and another in public.

Liberal apologists will seek to blame the white working class, Bernie supporters or even Jill Stein’s voters for the outcome. But as we have repeatedly pointed out the Democratic Party long ago abandoned even the pretense of defending working class interests. For decades they implemented or supported one neo-liberal measure after another: from “ending welfare as we know it,” expanding mass incarceration, pushing through NAFTA and repealing Glass Steagall under Bill Clinton to bailing out the banks while millions lost their homes under Obama.

After the 2008 and 2009 economic crash, the left gave Obama a pass. The Democrats controlled Congress and did little to help the working class in the worst crisis since the 1930s. This opened the door to the Tea Party to mobilize opposition to the bailout of Wall Street and anger at the politicians.

Under pressure from the 45% who supported Sanders in the primary, the Democrats adopted the most left platform at their convention in 40 years. But Clinton ran her campaign solidly focused on the message that Trump was an existential danger to the Republic and that “America was already great.” Hillary’s donors did not want her stressing issues like the minimum wage or ending college debt for fear of raising expectations among fired up working people. It could be argued that Hillary had no credibility as a progressive so what could she do? Well what she did was make Tim Kaine who supported TPP and bank deregulation her vice presidential candidate instead of someone like Elizabeth Warren. She refused to promise not to appoint a bunch of Goldman Sachs personnel to her administration. All of this was completely uninspiring to the millions of people hungry for real change.

It is therefore no surprise that Clinton was unable to enthuse greater voter turnout. Neither Trump nor Clinton got 50% of the vote. And while Clinton got a very slightly larger share of the popular vote than Trump, she got six million fewer votes than Obama in 2012 and fully ten million fewer than Obama in 2008. Meanwhile, Trump’s vote was actually a million votes lower than Romney’s!

As Jacobin pointed out: “Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama’s 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along America’s southern border, a candidate who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists. Clinton won 34 percent of white women without college degrees. And she won just 54 percent of women overall, compared to Obama’s 55 percent in 2012. Clinton, of course, was running against a candidate who has gloated on film about grabbing women ‘by the pussy.’” Clinton also did not excite younger black voters, many of whom sat the election out. And she lost in white working class communities where Barack Obama won handily in both previous elections.

The Democratic establishment played a dangerous game in this election – and they lost. And it will be working people, communities of color, and women who bear the brunt of their failure.

Sanders Should Have Been on the Ballot

In the past few years we have seen a profound political polarization in the US with the growth of support among young people for socialism and Black Lives Matter while there is a growth of open xenophobia and racism among a minority of the population. But the overall trend in American society has been to the left, expressed in support for marriage equality, a higher minimum wage and taxing the rich. This election does not change that underlying reality but it clearly puts the right in the driver seat with control of the presidency, both houses of Congress and the bulk of state legislatures.

A large section of the white working class and middle class did indeed use this election to underline their utter rejection of the Democratic Party and also the establishment of the Republicans. In a distorted way, tens of millions were looking for a way to oppose the corporate elite. We cannot close our eyes to the growth in support among a minority for far right ideas but it is revealing, for example, that exit polls showed that 70% said undocumented immigrants “should be offered legal status” against 25% who said they should be deported.

This is why it is absolutely tragic that Bernie Sanders was not on the ballot yesterday. We urged him to run as an independent as early as September 2014 when he first raised the idea of a presidential campaign. When he decided to run within the Democratic Party primary we disagreed with accepting this framework but continued to engage with his supporters in a discussion about how to achieve his program and the need for a new party.

Our warnings about the consequences of supporting Hillary have been tragically borne out. If Sanders had continued to run all the way to November, as we and many others urged, his presence would have radically changed the character of the race. He would have almost certainly forced his way into the presidential debates and we would right now be discussing the immediate question of forming a new party of the 99% based on the many millions of votes he would have received. This is a massive opportunity missed.

Socialist Alternative supported Jill Stein of the Green Party who received just over one million votes because she also put forward a platform that substantively spoke to the interests of working people. Stein’s campaign had many limitations but, despite them, her vote in a small way indicates the massive potential that exists for the development of a mass left alternative.

A Presidency of Chaos and Struggle

The election of Donald Trump is a disaster which will have many negative consequences. But it is also a phase in the ongoing process of political and social upheaval in the US. Capitalism and its institutions are discredited as perhaps never before, a process that continued right through the end of the general election with the FBI interjecting itself into the political process and Trump relentless talking about the “rigged” political system.

There will inevitably be widespread despair in sections of the left and a feeling that all attempts to move society forward are useless. It is absolutely essential to push back against this mood. Real change as Bernie Sanders correctly pointed out comes from the bottom up, from mass movements in the workplaces and the streets.

Trump’s victory represents the “whip of counter-revolution.” There will be chaos and provocations which will impel millions into defensive action. This is why those who have been radicalized in the past period must redouble their efforts to build a real mass movement for change, independent of corporate control. The social movements of recent years and especially BLM show the potential.

But it also essential to see that Trump will inevitably disappoint his supporters. “Building a wall” will not create millions of good jobs to replace those lost to automation and trade deals. And though he talks about investing in 21st century infrastructure, he is also committed to even further massive tax breaks for billionaires like himself. A mass movement against Trump will need to appeal directly to the white working class and explain how we can create a future where all young people can have a decent future rather than trying to recreate the “American dream” by deepening racial division. Such a future can only be achieved with socialist policies.

Get involved, join the struggle for Socialism! Fill in the form below and we will be in touch

Video: Dave Nellist talk and Q&A at Warwick Politics Society

Video: Dave Nellist talk and Q&A at Warwick Politics Society

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, a Coventry Socialist Party member and national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, recently spoke as a guest at a Warwick University Politics Society Q&A event about the current Corbyn movment and battles inside the Labour Party and his experiences as a ‘Militant’ supporting Labour MP.

Dave was elected for Coventry South East in 1983 and took only half an MP’s wage, basing his income on the average skilled workers’ rate in Coventry factories. He was expelled from the Labour Party in 1992 for his refusal to pay the Poll Tax. He was elected as a Socialist Party city councillor in Coventry from 1998 to 2012. Mr Nellist is currently national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which in the last two years has been the sixth largest party in terms of the number of candidates stood at elections.

We would like to thank Warwick Politics Society again for inviting Dave and Warwick Socialist Students for coming along in their numbers to support Dave.