A Spectre is Haunting U.S. Politics: Bill DeBlasio, Marxism and the Sandinistas

Erin Durkin Writing in the New York Daily News blog “Daily Politics” describes an interchange between New York Republican Mayoral hopeful Joseph Lhota and his Democratic Party rival Bill De Blasio.

Republican Joe Lhota doubled down on his attack on rival Bill de Blasio’s leftist past Tuesday, charging the Democrat’s strategy is drawn “directly out of the Marxist playbook.”

The absurd claim is based upon Mr. De Blasio’s youthful involvement in the Nicaragua and Central America Solidarity and Anti-War movement which grew up in the 1980’s following the successful capture of political power by the FSLN (El Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or in English, the Sandinista National Liberation Front), in a revolution against abusive police state dictator and crony capitalist Anastasio Somoza Debayle who’s family ruled Nicaragua with United States backing from 1936 until their 1979 overthrow in a revolution which mobilized the vast majority of the small Central American country’s working people and peasant farmers and which was in inspirational force world wide at the time.

That Mr. DeBlasio, who is a liberal tending toward the ‘left’ wing of the Democratic Party, was in some way involved in the “Solidarity” movement at that time is to his credit, but it is politically insignificant. In the United States as in many countries of the world the Nicaraguan revolution was a pole of attraction. Over 100,000 North American volunteers visited Nicaragua between 1980 and 1990. They studied Spanish in intensive schools, picked coffee alongside agriculture workers on peasant cooperative farms, built health clinics, assisted in small infrastructure development projects and became, if in some cases only briefly, part of a living revolutionary movement of the toiling classes.

Additionally many hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life participated in meetings, demonstrations, teach ins and other activities aimed at demanding that the US government stop its relentless military and political harassment of the Nicaraguan people’s revolution. Central America Solidarity activists were involved in high schools and colleges, in trade unions, churches, civic groups and localities big and small throughout the US, Canada and the rest of the world. Municipalities voted to become “sister cities” with Nicaraguan towns and villages. Tours and volunteer work groups visiting Nicaragua were organized by people on the full spectrum of social class and political or religious affiliation.

The association of the politics of contemporary political ‘leftism’ of the Social Democratic  or left liberal variety with Marxism or communism is a demonstration of political ignorance on the part of Mr. Lhota, who also seems to confuse historical Stalinism with revolutionary working class socialism which is its opposite. The Sandinistas were  from their inception independent of global Stalinism and they did not enforce a repressive regime. They maintained full freedom of the press and rights of political association throughout the revolutionary period. It is in fact difficult to understand to what Mr. Lhota is referring in his reference to Central America below.  Tyranny as it existed in Central America during the Cold War period had no relation to Marxism not even a Marxism as distorted by Stalinist political organizations. In fact throughout the 20th century brutally repressive dictatorships were supported by the US government in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras as in Nicaragua up to the time of the revolution. In 1954 the administration of Dwight Eisenhower employed the CIA in the overthrow of the Liberal Social Democratic government of  Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán by means of a military coup.  In the resulting civil war of the 1960s well over 100,000 Guatemalan citizens were killed.

“Bill de Blasio needs to explain himself — and explain himself now — to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who escaped Marxist tyranny in Asia, Central America, and from behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe,” Lhota said, amping up his criticism a day after he hit de Blasio for reportedly describing himself as a backer of “democratic socialism” in 1990.

The current day FSLN led by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega follows a left Social Democratic political agenda.  However a view of the Historic Program of the FSLN penned under the revolutionary Leadership of Carlos Fonseca Amador the founding leader of the FSLN in the early 1960’s helps the reader to grasp the uncompromising character of the original Sandinistas as one of the most significant and influential revolutionary movements of the late 20th century.

Below is an abridged list of demands and objectives from the Historic Program of the FSLN

  • It will nationalize the wealth of all the foreign companies that exploit the mineral, forest, maritime, and other kinds of resources.
  • It will establish workers’ control over the administrative management of the factories and other wealth that are expropriated and nationalized.
  • It will centralize the mass transit service.
  • It will nationalize the banking system, which will be placed at the exclusive service of the country’s economic development.
  • It will establish an independent currency.
  • It will refuse to honor the loans imposed on the country by the Yankee monopolies or those of any other power.
  • It will plan the national economy, putting an end to the anarchy characteristic of the capitalist system of production. An important part of this planning will focus on the industrialization and electrification of the country.
  • It will expropriate and eliminate the capitalist and feudal estates.
  • It will turn over the land to the peasants, free of charge, in accordance with the principle that the land should belong to those who work it.
  • The Sandinista people’s revolution will abolish the odious discrimination that women have been subjected to compared to men; it will establish economic, political, and cultural equality between woman and man.
  • The Sandinista people’s revolution will eliminate the foreign policy of submission to Yankee imperialism, and will establish a patriotic foreign policy of absolute national independence and one that is for authentic universal peace’.

As is plain to see the FSLN program was radical and directly aimed at the social needs of working people and peasant farmers. Furthermore the orientation of the Sandinistas during the revolutionary period was the direct organization of the toiling classes in the construction of their society.

On the other hand the FSLN fell short of what might be considered a communist political program. Following the Nicaraguan Revolution the Sandinistas retained a ‘mixed economy’ and left in tact much of the basic market operations of capitalism. They retained alliances with many large landholders and wealthy capitalist families. Capitalist social relations prevail in Nicaragua to the present day.

The Mayoral campaign of Bill De Blasio has nothing at all to do with Marxism in any form nor does it seek to advance the political interests of the working class as opposed to those of the capitalist class. De Blasio as with the rest of the Democratic Party speak of the interests of the “middle class” and seek to address “income inequality” without raising the issue of social power in capitalist society. Neither De Blasio nor any democratic politician put forward proposals aimed at increasing the self organization of the working class to fight for its own interests. The would be mayor’s campaign literature is rife with “job” proposals which are reducible to providing tax breaks and business incentives to capitalists as a solution to the low wages and exorbitant costs of living faced by working people in New York City.

For an appreciation of the cavernous separation between Democrat De Blasio’s pro-capitalist “middle class” political program and one which seeks to elevate the political power of the working, class consider the following ‘big-brother’ proposal from the candidate’s website.

Expand Camera Use in All Five Boroughs

Cameras are essential tools in fighting crime, but they are heavily concentrated in Manhattan. Bill de Blasio will reduce the borough deficit in camera coverage by increasing the number of Argus cameras — particularly in high-crime areas in the outer boroughs. These cameras are technologically advanced and have analytic capabilities that are proven force multipliers — helping to deter criminal activity and aid in crime-solving efforts.

In addition, Bill de Blasio will bring together businesses, city agencies, and law enforcement to break down technical barriers and better integrate camera networks. De Blasio will push for the Safe Streets Security Camera Act to create a private security camera registry, which will aid law enforcement officials in solving crime.

The 19 Most Revealing Documents From Bill De Blasio’s Socialist Past This from Buzzfeed an absurd hack job showing old Central America Solidarity Leaflets which may or may not have anything to do with De Blasio.

In another recent article The Financial Times turns the tables in the name and label game making the unlikely association of the Tea Party faction in the Republican Party with ‘Bolshevism” and the supposed political strategy of the Russian Revolutionary Leader Leon Trotsky. Making the ill considered claim that “Takeover of congressional representatives is textbook Trotsky” Author Richard McGregor is banking on the hope that his readers have read and understood even less of Trotsky than he has.

See: Tea Party Bolsheviks revolutionise Republicans

September 24, 2013 12:05 PM

Joe Lhota Says Bill de Blasio Is Reading “Directly Out Of The Marxist Playbook”

BY Erin Durkin


About rawlinsview

News and political commentary from the point of view of the social interests of the international working class.
This entry was posted in Nicaragua, political mobilizations, Revolutionary Tactics and Strategy, The Right of Nations to Self Determination, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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