The Reorganised Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Trotskista) and the 1959 Revolution
To the Cuban Workers and Peasants
Manifesto of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of Cuba
The following manifesto was drawn up by the Central Committee of the Partido Bolchevique Leninista (PBL) on 25 September 1933, 11 days after the party had been formally constituted. It shows how the Cuban Trotskyists formally adopted the perspectives of the theory of Permanent Revolution, insisting on the necessary international character of the revolution and its proletarian anti-imperialist features in Cuba. It also demonstrates that while the exact nature of the Grau San Martín government may be a matter of discussion — was it a petit-bourgeois or a Bonapartist bourgeois nationalist formation? — the Cuban Trotskyists considered that it was an inherently unstable and temporary formation which would inevitably give way, either to workers’ power or to a counter-revolution backed by imperialism. Events broadly bore out their analysis with the collapse of the ‘100-day’ government of Grau San Martín in mid-January 1934.
An original copy of the document entitled ‘A Todos los Obreros y Campesinos. Al Pueblo de Cuba’ can be found in the Archivo Nacional de Cuba in Havana (Fondo Especial, Caja 1, no 136). The version reproduced below is based on this, though it draws heavily on the translation which appeared under the title ‘To The Cuban Workers And Peasants: Manifesto of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of Cuba’ in The Militant (New York), 18 November 1933, pp3-4.
A further version of this PBL programmatic statement was found by Reiner Tosstorff in the Civil War Section of the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Salamanca, Spain. It appeared under the title ‘Declaración del Partido Bolchevique-Leninista de Cuba’ in the Chilean Trotskyist journal Boletín Político de la Izquierda Comunista (Santiago de Chile), Year 1, nos 8-9, October-November 1933, pp11-14. From a comparison of the texts, it is clear that this Chilean version of the manifesto is a translation back into Spanish from the English language translation published in The Militant.
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THE delegates of the Sections and cells of the Communist Opposition of Cuba, assembled on 14 September 1933, after an extensive and thorough-going study of recent events decided to constitute nationally the Bolshevik-Leninist Party and to publish and circulate this manifesto, which contains an initial statement of clear and definite principles.
The Importance of the Party
In the political struggles of the Cuban proletariat, no event has ever occurred as important as the step which we have just taken. In the midst of the present turbulent political situation characterised by the most frightful confusion and chaos, the minority formed by the Communist Left Opposition has made a resolute decision, and has worked out through the iron will of hundreds of workers the form and essence of a new workers’ revolutionary party.
This party, which rises after a long and difficult struggle of over a year, does not hesitate to declare openly before all the workers that it emerges from the very womb of the Communist Party of Cuba, and that it is historically the negation of the latter.
It has increasingly become evident in the complicated economic and political situation of Cuba that the lack of a real revolutionary party has frustrated the development of the revolution many times. The great tragedy of the oppressed Cuban masses consists in their not yet having found a vehicle capable of carrying them on the road towards their final emancipation. On the high road to victory, the masses have always felt the lack of the subjective factor which is necessary for them to achieve their liberation.
The existence of deep ferment and decomposition in the whole capitalist regime means nothing if, at the same time, there does not exist the organised force of a proletarian revolutionary party able to direct realistically the protest and rebellion of the masses during a political upheaval.
Irrespective of our wishes, a revolutionary workers’ vanguard can only be organised at certain historical conjunctures. In periods of great revolutionary struggles, the ebb and flow of the mass movement automatically produces the necessary means for successfully creating a new party.
The Cuban Situation and the Bolshevik Party
In the present period of rapid developments and sharp crises, the Cuban working class both requires and can produce a revolutionary vanguard from its own ranks. This step does not need justification before history because it is an integral and fundamental part of the historical process itself.
The present situation and the difficulty of our position is no secret to the Bolshevik-Leninist Party. Armed by Marxism, the most efficient instrument for analysing historical processes, and understanding the extent and consequences of historical developments, we are able to comprehend that never before in Cuba has there taken place such an outstanding political event as the rising of the rank and file of the army in the early morning of 4 September. The revolt of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army opens a new stage in the revolutionary process in Cuba. This rebellion completely confirms our correct political line wherein we affirmed, ever since March 1933, that the fall of Machado would provoke clashes between the reactionary bourgeois wing of the Opposition, and the various elements of the petit-bourgeoisie. The theory held by the leaders of the Communist Party several months ago (30 May), that a ‘broad radicalisation of the masses’ existed, which ‘obliged the forces of the counter-revolution to unite’, has fallen to the ground, smashed by the reality of the situation. Can it be said that there exists a broad radicalisation of the masses at the very time when an uprising of the rank and file of the army takes place, and this uprising brings the petit-bourgeois elements of the Directorio Estudiantil Universitario to power?
The coming to political power of the petit-bourgeoisie has already placed before the masses in a practical form the question of bourgeois democracy and the instability of this outlived state form. In the face of the violent break of the petit-bourgeoisie with the reactionary ‘mediation’ forces, a regrouping of the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois forces in struggle for the holding of power is taking place. Yankee imperialism, represented in Cuban politics by Sumner Welles, openly supports the formation of the counter-revolutionary front led by the ABC and Menocal.
In this situation, the Bolshevik-Leninist Party clearly understands that only a truly independent class position can save the proletariat from defeat. Confronted by the forces of the counter-revolution, the Bolshevik Party takes a determined stand in the belief that in the present historical conjuncture the worker and peasant masses are in a position to marshal their forces and to prepare themselves for the revolution. The national liberation of Cuba, as a colonial country, must be posed in a concrete form. Under the pressure of imperialism the Grau San Martín government successively wavers, gesticulates, threatens and yields, but does not firmly conduct the direct and fundamental attack against Yankee intervention. Only the working class in alliance with the poor peasants can liberate Cuba from the iniquities and oppression of imperialism.
The International Situation
The formation of a new revolutionary workers’ vanguard must necessarily deal not only with national questions, but also with international problems. The present historical period characterised by the decline of finance capital has transferred the solution of complicated national problems on to the international arena.
Bolshevism was the inspiration of the glorious launching of the Third Communist International. Those of us who are today active in its ranks must honestly declare that a new stage has begun in the history of the world’s workers’ movement. The catastrophe which took place in Germany with the shipwreck of the German Communist Party and the triumph of Fascism have forever destroyed the possibilities of a regeneration of the Communist International. The cadres throughout the world who have broken away from the control of the Stalinist bureaucracy now resolutely pose the question of a new International, which will turn its back on the bureaucratic centrism of Stalin and Manuilsky,1 and face towards a real Marxist-Leninist conception of class struggle.
At this juncture, we declare, as in the Bolshevik-Leninist statement of the left groups,2 that even in its present state the USSR is a workers’ state, and that we are prepared to defend it. However, this defence cannot be expected to come from the degenerate Soviet bureaucracy, but rather from the proletarian masses themselves guided by the new political orientation of international Leninism.
The Bolshevik Party and the Revolution in Cuba
Cuba, a semi-colonial country, which is rapidly becoming — if it is not already so — a Yankee colony, presents to the proletarian vanguard the clearest possible idea of the character and the realisation of the agrarian revolution.
The Bolshevik Party cannot predict the exact date of the agrarian revolution. Likewise, it does not pretend to be able to build Socialism overnight in a country of poor and middle peasants, with a proletariat that is still politically too weak to rally the peasants around itself and come to power. Like every other colony, Cuba lacks independent economic unity, and on the whole its economy is still in a pre-capitalist stage. Favourable objective conditions coincide with the marked liquidation of the subjective factor. However, the possibilities of developing the movement have not been lost, but only delayed. The differences between the petit-bourgeois elements and ourselves, the Bolshevik-Leninists, essentially lies in the form of government capable of guaranteeing the independence of the island, in the means of obtaining it, and in its aims. The most recent essays of the ‘anti-imperialist’ intellectuals of Latin America, led by the ‘Apristas’, are oriented towards finding the ‘Latin American liberation formula’. This formula has a common denominator in all countries, namely, the necessity of the capitalist development of the economy among these peoples. The fact that the industrial proletariat is not entirely developed in the colonies, and that the national bourgeoisie is an emaciated and spineless class incapable of struggle against imperialism in defence of its own class interests, leads them to the conclusion that the proletarian revolution cannot be realised in America, and that the struggle must be limited to driving imperialism out of these lands in order afterwards to develop their ‘own independent economy’. This conception looks for support in quotations from Marx and Lenin, arbitrarily snatched from the texts and rearranged to support their contentions. These so-called ‘Marxists’ state that it is impossible to jump over the stage of the bourgeois revolution in America, and consequently that only a slow and gradual development of the historical process, and ‘orderliness’ of the ‘insurmountable’ historical stages, is possible without falling into utopian Socialism. This is false, absolutely false. Marxism as an economic doctrine does not believe in gradual, slow changes, in insurmountable barriers, but rather a highly revolutionary theory which recognises the possibility of jumping two stages at a time, two steps at a time.
In the present world situation, the interlocking character of the whole world economy prevents a consideration of events in any single country from a one-sided point of view. From this springs the fact that in isolating Latin America from the rest of the world, and from the ripening of world economy for its revolutionary transformation, these petit-bourgeois Apristas arrive at the conclusion that in Latin America the necessary capitalist conditions for realising the Socialist revolution are not sufficiently mature. This new petit-bourgeois formula must be discarded in its entirety. We cannot consider the struggle in an isolated sense, but only as part of the world proletarian struggle. Our internationalism is not based on bold theoretical statements, but on the economic structure of world capitalism. If we separate the colonies from the other capitalist countries, they have no independent economic unity, and are in reality incapable of developing by themselves. But the task with which we are faced today is not that of initiating an opening for capitalist development in America, but instead of realising the agrarian revolution, carrying out the Socialist revolution, and setting up the dictatorship of the proletariat.
‘It is a question of knowing whether or not we can admit that the development of capitalism is inevitable in those backward countries that now emancipate themselves and in which a certain progress has taken place since the war. We have reached the conclusion that the development of capitalism in these countries is not inevitable, especially in cases where the victorious proletariat has conducted systematic propaganda in them. With the assistance of the proletariat in the advanced countries, the backward countries can reach the Soviet organisational form, and passing through a series of phases reach Communism, escaping a capitalist period.’3
This opinion of Lenin’s is our conception. History cannot be turned backwards just because 10 or 15 countries are retarded in their development. Likewise, the revolutionary movement cannot stop to wait for them.
For this reason, the Bolshevik Party declares the following in respect of both the agrarian and national question, and the content and aims of the agrarian revolution:
The national liberation of Cuba as a semi-colonial country can only be won through the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat which, applying the Bolshevik formula, ‘draws the peasantry behind it’.
The peasant question cannot be underestimated by the proletarian vanguard and still less in these semi-colonial and agrarian countries. The victory of the agrarian revolution depends upon which class the peasantry follows, the proletariat or the bourgeoisie.
The formula issued by the leaders of the Communist Party concerning the development of the agrarian revolution, its slogans of struggle, the confusion on the question of the mechanics of state power — in whose hands it should reside — all this must be discarded. In its stead should be placed the slogan of the agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution under the leadership of the proletariat in alliance with the peasantry.
The ultimate victory of the proletarian revolution can only be won by the development and triumph of the world proletarian revolution. The Bolshevik Party therefore recognises the necessity of effectively joining our movement with the worker and peasant masses of the entire world, and specifically of the United States and Latin America.
It is necessary to take advantage of all the conjunctures in order to unite the proletariat with the peasantry, and to develop the agrarian revolution to its conclusion. If the proletariat does not secure the support of the peasant masses in advance, if it does not manage to ‘draw them behind’ itself, it is then utopian even to think of the victory of the revolution in Cuba.
The native bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie, rural as well as urban, are incapable, organically and ideologically, of leading the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed people to its ultimate end. All conciliation with these elements with respect to the specific purposes of the revolution is nothing other than treason to the workers and peasants. To hand over these forces to a petit-bourgeois leadership is to repeat consciously the betrayals in China and Mexico.
The agrarian anti-imperialist revolution will not only fulfil the tasks of the bourgeois revolution (liquidation of the feudal forms of production, national liberation, agrarian revolution, etc), but must, by the very fact that the bourgeoisie is not the motor force in it and that it is carried out without the support of the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie, lay the foundations from which the step can be taken to the Socialist revolution and the proletarian dictatorship.
Given the character and future development of the agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution, only the proletarian vanguard organised in a Bolshevik party can achieve the revolutionary alliance of the proletariat and peasantry, and by this accomplish the final triumph of the revolution. The so-called Anti-Imperialist Leagues are organically and politically incapable of fulfilling these tasks, and are nothing but coarse caricatures of the revolutionary ‘united front’. In their place, only the leadership of the proletariat, organised in its class party, will be capable of filling this rôle.
Finally, it is very clear to us that the victory of the agrarian anti-imperialist revolution can only be guaranteed by the proletarian dictatorship, and that this proletarian dictatorship will not appear after the revolution, but on the foundation of the revolution itself, as the only force capable of achieving the agrarian and anti-imperialist objectives.
It is necessary to leave no room for doubt in this respect. An enormous theoretical poverty exists on this question, which, nevertheless, the Bolshevik party does not hesitate to tackle. Sectarian groups have never been able to answer these essential questions, simply because they have not realised their responsibility with respect to them. In a petit-bourgeois manner, they mask their ideological confusion by tacking together half a dozen anti-imperialist slogans from the international store-room of catchwords and slogans. In practice, they have not advanced one inch further in the agrarian and national questions than the petit-bourgeoisie of the ABC. However, they furiously attack this latter group, perhaps because of a special desire to contradict themselves.
Possibilities of a Resurgence of the Official Communist Party
Before deciding to make the turn towards the formation of a new party, we have given all due consideration to the possibilities of a general political resurgence, not only of the Communist International, but also of its Cuban section. The development of recent political events has returned the most valuable and honest elements, who had been in exile abroad, to the ranks of the Communist Party of Cuba. These new forces, which the bureaucracy is very careful to keep on the periphery of the party, clash objectively with the old routine, and the sectarian tactics of the leadership. But the intensity of the clash is toned down because the sectarian leadership manoeuvres skilfully, extending to these new elements the strings which will definitely tie it to the worn-out and rotten party apparatus.
These comrades still believe that it is possible to restore the Communist Party to ‘political normality’, and that this restoration must take place from within. However, in spite of their heroic efforts and sincere purpose it will be proved useless. The degeneration of the party is complete.
We have fought hard ever since 1931 to create a renovating current capable of saving the Communist Party from its own corruption. These efforts have been in vain.
Those comrades who still struggle for the regeneration of the party do not yet feel the pressure of the ruling bureaucracy, because the latter finds the menace of our group enough for the present. As soon as the Stalinist wing of the party is definitely entrenched in its position, it will turn disloyally against these new elements in an attempt to suppress them. Then, the friction between these two forces will push the most capable and revolutionary sections of the party towards the Bolshevik-Leninists.
To those militants who still retain their ideological honesty, the Bolshevik-Leninist Party will never close its doors.
The future of the world belongs to Bolshevism!
Long live the Bolshevik-Leninist Party!
Central Committee of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party
Havana, 25 September 1933
1. Dmitri Manuilsky (1883-1952) was, like Trotsky, a member of the Inter-District group which fused with the Bolshevik Party in 1917. In the 1920s, he supported the Stalin faction, and was the secretary of the Comintern from 1931 until its dissolution in 1943.
2. This is a reference to the declaration of the Bolshevik-Leninist delegation at the Paris Conference of Left Socialist and Communist organisations in August 1933. See Writings of Leon Trotsky (1933-34), New York, 1975, pp37-44.
3. For the full text, see VI Lenin, ‘Report on the Commission on the National and the Colonial Questions’, Collected Works, Volume 31, Moscow, 1977, p244.