HOW QUICKLY things change. From touting the U.S.'s victory in Iraq as an example of a new era in warfare, the pundits seem to have noticed that America's victory is beginning to unravel. After weeks of growing chaos in Iraq--from the car-bomb destruction of the United Nations headquarters to the daily ambushes of U.S. troops--the highest reaches of the U.S. establishment are becoming alarmed. "So what's Plan B?" asks the September 1 issue of Newsweek.
"Plan B" is in fact being put into motion As the ISR went to press, the Bush administration was preparing to push for a United Nations resolution to sanction the deployment of international forces to bolster the U.S. occupation. The decision to go to the UN represented a climbdown for an administration that had declared the UN "irrelevant" when it stormed into Iraq in March. And if a story of how the Bush administration decided to seek UN approval is accurate, Bush himself seems to have been the last to have found out.
In what is the biggest leak of the wrangling in the Bush administration to date, Washington Post reporters Thomas Ricks and Vernon Loeb disclosed that a coalition including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell maneuvered around the opposition of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his hawkish advisers to present Bush with a "fait accompli" of the decision to seek a UN mandate. Bush then signed off on the plan.
The backroom knifing of Rumsfeld couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. But it was becoming clearer even to sections of the ruling class that Rumsfeld's plan to occupy Iraq with little international backing and 150,000 U.S. troops had failed. Leading foreign policy spokespeople formed a growing chorus of criticism of the Bush administration. As Salon's Gary K amiya quipped, "Would you like some freedom fries with your crow, Mr. President?"
On the right, neoconservative ideologue Robert Kagan called for a stepped-up U.S. troop deployment to Iraq. From the liberal side of the spectrum, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Democratic Secretary of State wannabe Richard Holbrooke damned the administration's refusal to seek UN approval for deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Iraq.
So the administration caved in and turned to the UN to bail it out of a jam. While we can all enjoy seeing these arrogant twits wiping egg off their faces, we should be clear about what they are after. The "liberal" New York Times put it best in a September 4 editorial:
The passage of a new Security Council resolution, even if it does no more than place military operations under UN auspices, should permit nations like India, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey to contribute troops. A more broadly based force with a substantial Muslim component could help transform what looks uncomfortably like an imperial army of occupation into a true international peacekeeping force.
In other words, they're looking for thousands of Gurkhas, preferably many from Islamic countries, to do the U.S.'s dirty work of occupying Iraq for them. And let's also be clear about something else: When the New York Times or other liberals describe U.S. aims this way, there is no irony or criticism implied in their words. In fact, this is one Bush administration decision they support wholeheartedly.
It's too early to tell how easily the U.S. will win UN approval for its plans. In its initial canvassing for support of the proposed UN resolution, the U.S. got a thumbs down from Germany and France. After all, UN Security Council members France, Russia and China and European Union powerhouse Germany all opposed the U.S. war. In considering the the U.S. proposal, "The opponents of U.S. in Iraq face an unenviable choice. If they agree to a UN role, and take part in a postwar clean-up, they will in the end have done America's bidding," wrote Financial Times columnist Gerard Baker.
So whether the "Old European" allies--two of whom State Department spokesman Richard Boucher recently disparaged as "chocolate makers"--nix the U.S. plan, or whether they merely hold out for a better deal from the U.S., help won't soon be on the way to Iraq. And every day the U.S. occupation continues, the cost in terms of the lives of ordinary Iraqis, U.S. soldiers and of billions of dollars, escalates.
Behind their bluff and bluster, the Bush administration knows that the occupation is becoming a central political question that could undo it. Like the Johnson administration that won a historic landslide in 1964 only to collapse by 1968 in the face of the Vietnam quagmire, this administration knows its fantasy of a remade Iraq and the Middle East may lose it the White House in 2004.
If Bush and Co. cracks, the Democrats--given up for dead only a few months ago--could find themselves handed an opportunity to boot Bush out. And millions who opposed the war are looking to the Democratic candidates, from former Vermont Governor Howard Dean to Senator John Kerry, to undo the mess the Bush administration has caused. No doubt many war opponents will welcome the opportunity to run Bush out of the White House, but they need to be clear about what the Democrats have in store.
For one thing, no Democratic candidate favors withdrawing from Iraq. In fact, almost all of them want to send in more troops. Dean gained traction in the winter and fall when by opposing the war in Iraq. But neither he, nor any other candidate or Democratic foreign policy bigwig like Albright, are antiwar. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, Albright blasted Bush for his failure to build international support for the war, rather than for the war itself--which, she confesses, she supported. So electing a Democrat in 2004 won't end the nightmare in Iraq.
Nevertheless, the scramble to come up with a Plan B exposes the architects of this war as the criminal and incompetent gang they are. The Iraqi resistance that has challenged the occupation has punched a hole in the Bush Doctrine. A few months ago, Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and the rest were threatening to take their "war on terrorism" road show to Iraq and Syria. Now, it's clear that they can barely control Baghdad. American imperialism may be the biggest bully on the block, but it isn't invincible.
We in the antiwar movement need to build on this. We need to build solidarity with the thousands of military families who are demanding that Bush bring the troops home. We also need to show solidarity with ordinary people in Iraq, who have no interest in living under a U.S. or UN occupation of their country.
On this final point, an important debate is taking place inside the antiwar movement about the question of whether the movement should call for the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq. Two connected arguments, presented in articles and on antiwar internet listservs, are made. One, that any pullout will lead to "chaos" and civil war, and two, that a U.S. withdrawal will leave Iraq in the hands of Islamists. As an alternative, those who put this latter case forward are calling for some kind of phased withdrawal and the introduction of some kind of UN-mandated occupation of Iraq.
We will state our position clearly at the start: The U.S. must withdraw and complete sovereignty should be restored to the Iraqi people immediately. Any position short of that constitutes support for the occupation, and, by extension, for the invasion and conquest of Iraq itself. We must reject this pro-imperialist line if we are to build an effective opposition to the occupation.
From a factual standpoint, it can be clearly demonstrated that the U.S. invasion and occupation has contributed generously to the chaos, dislocation and violence erupting in Iraq. In that sense, there is no doubt that the havoc wreaked in Iraq will continue long after the U.S. is forced to depart. Are we then to argue that the imperialist conquerors should remain longer? Why? To commit more atrocities? To establish a more secure puppet dictatorship that will answer to American needs even after American troops depart? The argument that the troops should not leave immediately is an argument that the Iraqi people do not have sovereignty, do not have the right to self-determination; that in fact, the U.S.--even activists in the U.S.--should decide when and how the U.S. departs.
To argue this isn't the reality is to accept some kind of utopian idea that the killers of Iraqis can somehow, if they stay, deliver something else--democracy perhaps? This is a serious breach of elementary political logic. No country can impose democracy on another from without and by force of arms--it is a contradiction in terms. The antiwar movement should not be peddling the lies of the Bush administration about America's "international mission" as a spreader of democracy. "Democracy" has long been a cover for imposing puppet regimes under American sway.
If it's rebuilding Iraqis need, they don't need the kind of privatized, American corporate rebuilding on offer (at some distant future date, to be sure). What they need is war reparations. The U.S., in our calculation, owes Iraq billions and billions in reparations for inflicting 13 years of war and blockade on the country.
More fundamentally, this argument accepts the idea, at the outset, that "we" Americans have the right to determine Iraq's future. It differs little from the old colonial "White Man's Burden" argument, that the Iraqi people are not "ready" to run their own country.
Activists who are making this argument are placing conditions on their support for withdrawal of the conquerors. We support pullout, they say, but only on conditions that the Iraqis will create a regime that is acceptable. This means supporting the occupation, at the very least on a negative basis that it might prevent a "wrong" regime from coming to power.
Our position must be that any regime in Iraq imposed by the U.S. is a wrong regime, and that the sooner the U.S. pulls out, the sooner ordinary Iraqis themselves can build their own society. The U.S. can only play the role of executioner of democracy in Iraq. Who, after all, is rehabilitating and rehiring ex-Iraqi secret police in order to root out the resistance movement? Who initially backed the Saddam dictatorship as an ally in Iraq, and refused to support a genuine rising against his rule in 1991? One need not be a supporter of Islamic fundamentalism to be in favor of the future of Iraq being determined by the Iraqi people themselves.
The argument can be worked backwards in a dangerous way. If we are debating what kind of regime Iraq should have, and arguing that the U.S. shouldn't pull out for fear of what type of regime might emerge, then why didn't we support the invasion to topple the Hussein regime? His regime was as vicious and brutal as any in the world. Instead, we took a position that the U.S. has no right to intervene; that it wasn't really concerned with liberation, but with control of the region and its oil resources; that all it really wanted was a strong Saddam-like state, only without Saddam. On that basis, we argued that the Iraqi people should decide how to deal with Saddam Hussein, not his former collaborators, the U.S.
Calling for the Blue Helmets to replace the green ones is hardly an alterative to imperialism. Denis Halliday, a former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq who resigned to protest the genocidal sanctions the UN enforced for 13 years, explains in this issue why someone could bomb the UN headquarters in Baghdad: "the United Nations killed more Iraqis through UN sanctions--probably one million people, particularly children--in those 13 years than Mr. Bush the First, Mr. Clinton and then Mr. Bush the Second."
It took the Vietnamese more than a decade to kick the U.S. out of their country, at the cost of millions of Vietnamese lives and tens of thousands of American soldiers' lives. Had the U.S. left sooner, it would have done less damage. Today, U.S. soldiers are murdering and imprisoning Iraqis daily who resist the occupation. Hundreds of working-class U.S. soldiers are being killed and wounded for an occupation they have no stake in maintaining. Many want to get out. Millions of Iraqis want them out. It would be a travesty under these circumstances for we in the antiwar movement to intervene and say to the Iraqi who wants the U.S. out and the soldier who wants to leave: "No! The U.S. cannot leave! There will be chaos!"
The U.S. was eventually defeated, and the result was the Vietnam Syndrome. For years the U.S. became reluctant to engage in military interventions abroad. The years since then have seen the U.S. attempting, each time with more energy, to claw back its ability to intervene at will anywhere in the world. What we in the U.S., and the world now need, is an "Iraq Syndrome." The sooner the U.S. military is forced to leave Iraq in humiliation, the sooner it fails in Iraq, the sooner we can bury the Bush Doctrine, we will immeasurably strengthen the struggle for economic and social justice around the world.
We must demand that the U.S. get out of Iraq now. It is important that this demand be backed up with action--from teach-ins to protests. And, of course, by mobilizing the largest numbers possible for the demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco on October 25.
The pitfalls of the "anybody but Bush" strategy
LEADING RADICAL critics of the bipartisan consensus in U.S. politics are now openly talking about supporting the 2004 Democratic nominee against President Bush. Z Magazine editor Michael Albert and radical writers Noam Chomsky and Norman Solomon all seem to be endorsing an "anybody but Bush" strategy for the left in 2004.
In a recent commentary, Albert doesn't come right out and endorse a Democrat, but he comes pretty close: "One post-election result we want is Bush retired. However bad his replacement may turn out, replacing Bush will improve the subsequent mood of the world and its prospects of survival." Solomon writes that he backed Ralph Nader's presidential runs in 1996 and 2000, but "I won't in 2004. The reasons aren't about the past, but about the future."
Even Chomsky, the self-proclaimed anarchist, isn't ruling out support for the Democratic candidate in 2004. Following a recent speech at a United for Peace and Justice meeting in Massachusetts, Chomsky delivered an attack on both major parties. When an audience member asked if there was any point in replacing Bush with a Democrat, Chomsky replied: "The people running Washington happen to be a particularly dangerous crowd in a narrow spectrum." That's why antiwar activists should try to defeat Bush at the polls, he intimated. "These guys have so much power that small differences can have large consequences. This administration is recycled from the more reactionary elements of the Reagan and first Bush administrations," according to the Financial Times.
Many will argue that the Bush regime is uniquely evil and dangerous, that its defeat demands of us a concession to political reality to support a Democrat on election day. No one at the ISR will deny just how corrupt and right wing the Bush administration is. But liberals' warnings of impending fascism in the event of a Republican victory are as old as the New Deal. In 1985, following Ronald Reagan's landslide victory over Walter Mondale, Black progressive Manning Marable wrote:
In the last five years, a new element has been added--a popular ideology of extreme national chauvinism, described by the media as the "new patriotism." The 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas was eerily reminiscent of the Nazi Party Convention in Munich in 1935. The Republicans called themselves the "America's Party," implying that Democrats were somehow less than patriotic.
Certainly echoes of 1985 will be heard coming from the Republican camp over the next year. And already the left is responding in kind. Solomon remarks that the Bush administration "has neared some elements of fascism in its day-to-day operations.... We don't want to find out how fascistic" a second Bush term could be. Before we fall for appeals like this, let's catch our breath and remember: The U.S. didn't slide into fascism in the 1980s and it won't over the next year either.
Many genuinely fear what the Bush administration will do if given another four years to wreak havoc on the world. But people like Solomon should know better than to sow fears of impending fascism. The fascism charge serves to make the liberal lesser-evilists' job of selling any old Democrat much easier. The liberals don't have to actually convince people of positive reasons to vote forŠthe Democrat. They just have to convince a plurality of voters that the Democrat won't be as bad as the Republican‹not a difficult task if the Republican can be painted as a pale imitation of Hitler.
Many activists realize all of this and still intend to work for a Democratic victory. "Call me a sellout or whatever. I know a lot of anti-authoritarians will," anarchist antiwar activist Chantel Azadeh told the Nation's Liza Featherstone. "But it's crucial to elect someone who will lessen the madness." Considering which presidential candidate she'll back, she said "I like Howard Dean a lot. I think he would be a great president." This was quite an admission from Azadeh, an antiwar activist from the University of California, Irvine, who often accused socialists in the California antiwar movement of "authoritarian" behavior because they urged that democratic majority-rule voting be used to decide movement questions.
In a widely read article on the CommonDreams Web site, student activist Nico Pitney, who supported the Greens in 2000 and 2002, announces his intention to work for former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's election in 2004. Pitney endorses Dean, knowing full well that Dean stands far the right of him on issues like ending the occupation of Iraq, working for justice for Palestinians, refusing to cut the military budget, supporting the death penalty, etc. But Pitney urges progressives to "incorporate these realities into their electoral strategy, however disappointing they may be." It comes as no surprise that much of Pitney's "Progressive case for Dean" is hedged with phrases explaining Dean's various right-wing positions as "nuanced" or having to be "taken in context." Antiwar activists drawn to Dean should ask themselves why they want to work for the election of a candidate that wants to send more (admittedly foreign) troops to Iraq and who backs Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's war against the Palestinians. Dean says that he was against the Iraq war, yet he is for the occupation. "We cannot allow ourselves," he said recently, "to lose the peace in Iraq." On these positions, Dean doesn't differ much from Bush.
This kind of apologetic stance vis-a-vis Democrats does no good for the cause of building an independent alternative to the twin parties of capital. As the experience of eight years of Clintonism showed, liberals who defended Clinton through one betrayal after another found their constituencies worse off in 2001 than they were in 1993. And because they thought they had a "friend in the White House," they didn't build the kind of grassroots pressure that is their only genuine source of influence. Women's organizations mobilized millions to defend abortion rights during the Bush I regime. But with Clinton in the White House, they failed to mobilize against continuing attacks. Now, with an avowedly antiabortion administration stripping away even more protections for abortion, pro-choice groups find themselves both worse off and more atrophied.
This process--voting for the Democrat, who then panders to the right while the left sits passively waiting--is what has moved politics to the right. Then, when a new election rolls around, we are told once again that the right is so bad we must hold our noses and vote for the Democrat, and the whole cycle begins again. If activists make the kinds of concessions that Pitney is willing to make now--more than a year before the election--they will be hard-pressed to remember what "progressive agenda" led them to work for a Democrat in the first place.
For those who profess to want to build an alternative to the corrupt two-party system, there is never a "good" time to work for that alternative. In the way the U.S. political system works, successfully building a left-wing political alternative always presents the possibility that the Republicans will win instead. So like atheists on their deathbed who call for a priest to perform last rights, many activists are intimidated into swallowing hard and voting for the Democrat.
As Democratic Socialists of America founder Michael Harrington put it (in rhetoric we're hearing increasingly today), in a debate held on the eve of the 1976 election: "There is a difference tomorrow. We need every vote we can get in this country. Therefore, I say to you, tomorrow vote for Carter, not with illusions that he is going to change American society radically. He will not. But with the clear understanding that he is the superior alternative on issues of life and death for ordinary people, the majority of the people of the United States."
At least in 1976, lesser-evilists like Harrington held out hope that a Democratic victory would provide opportunities for workers and the oppressed to organize for their interests. The reality is that the Carter administration dashed most of the those hopes. Carter began the military buildup and domestic policy cutbacks that later came to be known as "Reaganism." But today's lesser-evilists don't even have Harrington's optimism in the possibility that things could better under a Democratic administration. They simply propose the necessity of electing the Democratic candidate to prevent the country's (and world's) slide further backwards.
Unfortunately this misunderstands the real dynamic of how social change happens in the U.S. The only possibility of a change for the better will come when a militant labor movement and other social movements organize and demand change from whatever regime is in power in Washington. Millions are committed to building such a movement--and committed to electing a Democrat at the same time--without seeing any contradiction between the two. But there is a contradiction. It is not as apparent now with Democratic hopefuls leaning slightly leftward to boost their core support, but as we move closer to the election, we will be faced with a choice between two parties equally committed to American capitalism and American imperialism. Business Week wrote of Dean, "Those who know him best believe Dean is moving left to boost his chances of winning the nomination." If the ruling class isn't fooled by Dean's opportunism, we shouldn't be either.
These will be real questions in our movement over the next year. They aren't questions that only a few have the "luxury" to discuss. Anyone who wants to rebuild a left in this country will have to confront them. There is no shortcut to building the kind of a movement we need. It will be a long and hard process, but it can't be put off until after the November 2004 election.
Chile: The other September 11
SEPTEMBER 11 marks another lesser-known tragedy. Thirty years ago, General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Popular Unity (UP) government in Chile. The Chile Declassification Project--against strong CIA resistance--has released new documents about the role of the U.S. in supporting and funding Pinochet's bloody coup and his 17-year repressive rule over Chile. The documents finally reveal the names of Chilean torturers and their U.S. sponsors, although Pinochet will remain free as the Chilean Supreme Court (once again) upheld his right to immunity last month.
The recently declassified papers reveal the atrocities committed in order to overthrow a democratically-elected government, revealing clearly Washington's willingness to jettison bourgeois democracy as soon as it threatens its interests. Bush's backing of last year's attempted coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Ch·vez shows us that little has changed.
President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide as Pinochet's soldiers broke down the door to his presidential office, was among the 30,000 Chileans who died as a result of the coup and ensuing dictatorship. Allende had been elected by a mass movement in 1970 on a social-democratic platform of nationalization, moderate land reforms and promises to gradually attain goals of economic equality and democracy. Chilean workers and peasants took Allende at his word, and during his term they increased their level of struggle, including factory and land seizures, against the bosses.
Allende's program, and the mass movement of workers, hardly made him popular with the Chilean ruling class or U.S. corporations. But while the Nixon administration and the Chilean ruling class sought the revolution's defeat, Chilean socialism was not an inevitable victim of reaction and imperialism. The reasons for the defeat remain a source of intense debate today, with many leftists--both in Latin America and the U.S.--concluding that Chilean workers "went too far" in their actions to bring about a better world. The truth, however, is that Allende and the leaderships of the other UP parties did not go far enough.
Reform or revolution
Many on the left use Chile as a cautionary tale to discourage radical movements from alienating "civil society" and from pushing the middle classes to embrace right-wing solutions. "Allende's legacy today...entails an important element of political pragmatism for the left as it seeks to honor the most productive aspects of Allende's legacy, while avoiding some of its pitfalls," writes Philip Oxhorn in NACLA's 2003 issue dedicated to the 30-year anniversary of Pinochet's coup. This legacy, according to Oxhorn, includes Allende's democratic convictions ("property owners had important democratic rights"), his principled pragmatism and his commitment to building strong political organizations for an equal and just society. Oxhorn praises current leaders such as Lula in Brazil and Ricardo Lagos in Chile, who have learned these lessons from Allende, and who have thus committed themselves to "responsible" fiscal policies and political pragmatism.
The reformist interpretation of Chile's tragedy has prevailed since its first formulation by the Communist Party of Chile (CPC), one of the organizations inside the UP, in the wake of the coup. Chilean workers went too far, the CPC argued, because they refused to wait for Allende to win over the middle and ruling classes to the idea of a gradual path to socialism. Workers sought control over society too quickly, and thus they alienated the middle classes, whom the CPC considered an important part of the UP alliance.
Yet Allende undertook constant efforts to win over sectors of the national bourgeoisie to the UP government--at the expense of the working class. In order to become president, Allende had signed a "Statute of Guarantees" declaring the inviolability of bourgeois institutions (the courts, the police). In other words, the "Chilean road to socialism" committed itself to preserving the bourgeois state machine--including its institutions of repression, which were in the end to turn on Allende's government.
In the midst of the revolutionary process, Allende's allegiance to "democratic institutions" even led him to call for workers to return occupied factories and land to their "rightful property owners" until the courts could decide their fate. He ordered police to attack, arrest and disarm workers who defended the UP against the bosses' strikes that aimed to starve the poorest Chileans. Eventually, it was Allende himself who invited General Pinochet into the UP government to head the military, describing him as a military man who "respected the constitution."
While the president demanded that workers respect the constitution, the Chilean ruling class and their U.S. supporters felt in no way compelled to respect democratic institutions. Fascist thugs violently attacked workers and peasants with impunity. Private television networks fomented right-wing violence against the government. And the September 11, 1973 coup killed off all semblance of democracy in Chile for years to come.
The UP's call for broad unity with the middle class meant in practice, therefore, the curtailing of workers' self-organization, i.e. the very forces capable of defeating the right and pushing through to a new society. The result was that as the ruling class prepared for a military coup--a situation crying out for workers to organized armed self-defense--Allende was busy finding ways to demobilize and disarm the working class in order to prove his commitment to bourgeois democracy.
In many analyses of the Allende government there is no mention of Chilean workers' role in the UP years of 1970ń1973. Both the Pinochet government and U.S. administrations have tried to blot out this history of workers' struggles. Allende was not the only martyr on the Chilean road to socialism. Thousands more remained nameless but died fighting in the streets, in the factories or on lands seized for communal production. These workers and peasants called for more radical changes in Chile, and they formulated more viable alternatives than those proposed by the UP government.
These were not "pie in the sky" aspirations for Chile's workers and the poor. Since the 1960s, they had become radicalized while struggling to implement land reforms and the nationalization of major industries. Allende won the 1970 election on the basis of this radical activism--not on the basis of his popularity with the middle classes.
When the right wing attacked the Allende government by trying to shut down transportation in 1972, workers and peasants defended themselves by forming cordones--workers' forms of democratic control over factories, food distribution, transport and community work and defense. Representatives to the cordones were elected to make decisions and they were recallable at any time by the workers who elected them. Thus, in the course of struggle, Chilean workers and peasants created a highly democratic form of self-governance that represented an embryonic form of workers' councils--a political body that could decide the course of society based on the needs and wishes of the majority.
Reformists in the UP coalition--led by Allende--denounced the cordones as counter-revolutionary. Although the cordones successfully defeated the bosses' strike in 1972, the UP government called for all supporters to organize to win the March 1973 elections. The UP never called for the strengthening of the cordones as key revolutionary organizations of the working class.
When the UP government won the parliamentary elections in March 1973, the right wing and Nixon's government discarded all pretense of democracy in a barbaric effort to recover control of Chile. Heavily funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Chilean military overthrew Allende on September 11. Carrying lists of "subversives" provided by the CIA, Pinochet's forces murdered, tortured and imprisoned thousands of leftists. Pinochet went on to establish one of the most repressive military regimes in all of Latin America, and, again with the help of U.S. spy agencies, to hunt down exiled Chilean leftists all over the world.
The cordones were the best and most inspirational examples of what the Chilean road to socialism could offer workers, the landless and the unemployed today. The history of workers' power in Chile between 1970 and 1973 is rarely mentioned, but it provides the most vital lesson for the class struggles occurring today. Whether in the recent and ongoing mass struggles in Bolivia and Ecuador, or in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay, the class character of the actions and demands made by Chilean workers in the course of their fight for socialism are the real lessons to learn from the Allende period in order to advance today's struggles.
The question of reform or revolution is not just for history's sake, but for workers' struggles in the present. To claim that the lesson of Chile shows why the left must find "pragmatic" alternatives that do not "go too far" is to tell workers to restrain their own struggles. Yet as Trotsky noted, "Liberalism has always said to the workers that by their class struggle they ëprovoke' the reaction.... These accusations reduce themselves, in the final analysis, to the profound thought that if the oppressed do not balk, the oppressors will not be obliged to beat them." But if the oppressed do not balk, the oppressors don't stop oppressing them.