In response to New MAS and LTS /PTS
By Miguel Sorans, IS (Socialist Left) and IWU-FI leader.
There are sectors of the left, including comrades who sympathise with Chavismo although they are critical of Maduro, and organisations that claim to be Trotskyists, who criticise the policies of our organisation, IWU-FI, for Venezuela. Among them New MAS of Argentina and LTS, Venezuelan group linked to the PTS of Argentina. They question that, together with the repudiation to any threat of imperialist invasion or coup attempt we also raise the slogan “Out with Maduro, for a workers’ government!” For them, the slogan: “Out with Maduro” plays into the hands of imperialism. We disagree with these positions that capitulate to the famishing and repressive government of Maduro.
These misguided criticisms have been developed by New MAS in Socialismo o Barbarie No 503 (14 February 2019), in an article by Victor
Artavia, accusing IWU-FI of placing itself “in the shadow of the coups”.
Similar criticism has been developed by League of Socialist Workers (LTS) in
the article “With the politics of PSL (Socialism and Liberty Party), we fight
neither imperialism nor the right”, published in their website La Izquierda Diario, on 13 March 2019.
Maduro and Chavismo’s politics
For several years, as the almost disappeared “squalid” right
recovered, we have been denouncing those responsible for this has been Hugo
Chavez government first and then his heir, Nicolas Maduro. They have fed
confusion and rejection to develop in the working people, thus making it
possible for the pro-American right to resurrect and favour Trump and
It is a double standard to speak about “the fight against imperialism”
and the building of socialism while the people’s living standards are worsened
because of the civic-military government. In fact, Chavismo has ruled almost 20
years associated to oil multinationals, it has paid the foreign debt, has
attacked the living standard of the people and repressed their protests. This
has been accumulating the people’s hatred and rejection towards the government,
of which Guaido and Trump take advantage. These politics have played into the
hands of imperialism.
From a perspective of rejection to any attempted coup or imperialist
invasion, we have to establish Maduro is a famishing government and an
independent mobilisation of the workers and the people has to take place to put
an end to it. This is the crux of the situation of Venezuela today.
It is very important to clarify a distortion in the analysis by the New
MAS comrades. According to the article mentioned above, “the IWU-FI calls to
join the demonstrations (called by the putschists)”. That is a lie. Neither
IWU-FI nor our section, Partido
Socialismo y Libertad (PSL), call to join the meetings and demonstrations
organised by Guaido. It is a slander they should withdraw.
LTS/PTS join in the distortions
Regrettably, the LTS and the PTS comrades join in to the
misrepresentations against PSL in Venezuela to join the sectors that
shamelessly support Maduro. They published the LTS article in their “website La Izquierda
Diario” [www.laizquierdadiario.com]. They claim PSL is calling to
join the Guaido demonstrations. That is a lie. As they cannot support this lie,
they try to mislead making up fake quotations by PSL, where our party would be
calling for “all against Maduro”, “we can all be together”, “without stating
the character of class”.
It is totally false to say the PSL has launched the slogan “we can all
be together” against Maduro and that our axis is not calling the workers to a
mobilisation independent from Guaido and Maduro. And they top it up with
another falsification, accusing PSL of not doing a “frenzied attack against the
putschist spearhead”. From the very beginning PSL has been denouncing the
imperialist interference and coup attempt and has denounced Guaido. According
to LTS/PTS “the return of the neoliberal and pro-imperialist right to
power in this context does not seem to be a major problem for the PSL”. It
is deplorable that revolutionary sectors use this kind of slanderous language.
For our part, we will continue to refute the misrepresentations and
falsifications but we will focus on giving a political response and help the
fighters to unravel what is a true revolutionary policy that should neither
give in to the right nor to the traitors of the workers’ movement like Maduro
We follow the teachings of Lenin
This is an important and needed debate among the revolutionaries and the
entire left. In the current situation of Venezuela in the context of the coup
attempt and imperialist meddling, we categorically say that not raising the
dismissal of Maduro with the independent workers’ and popular mobilisation is
to play into the hands of Maduro and his civic-military government, it is to
surrender to Chavismo.
This is the famous Chavist argument to hold to power in a dictatorial
way, accusing those from the left who do not support them, of “pro-American”.
The great problem in Venezuela is millions of workers and young people hate
Maduro and his austerity measures and they are prone to support Guaido. New MAS
and LTS/PTS stance, giving in to Maduro, do not present a revolutionary option
to fight the pro-American right.
PSL and IWU-FI reject the present coup attempt. We analyse there is
still not a similar situation to the one developed in 2002-2003 with the oil
boycott and the pro-American coup against Chavez, when our Venezuelan comrades,
with the support of the whole IWU-FI, were at the forefront with the workers’
and popular mobilisation to defeat the coup. If that situation reappears, we
will do the same as in 2002-2003.
We follow the teachings of Lenin and Trotsky. To New MAS and LTS/PTS
comrades, as to other sectors vindicating themselves as anti-imperialists and
from the left, which question both our permanent repudiation to Maduro’s
government, its fake “socialist” rhetoric and its repressive practices and our
recognition of a workers’ government, we want to remind them of the teachings
of Lenin in 1917. General Kornilov headed a counter-revolutionary coup against
the bourgeois and class conciliation government of the fake “socialist”
Kerensky and the Mensheviks. Since his arrival in Petrograd in April 1917,
Lenin got the Bolsheviks to adopt his policy of not supporting to the
provisional bourgeois government that resulted from the February revolution,
and of propelling the Soviets into seizing power and creating a workers and
peasants’ government without the bourgeoisie. In August-September, Lenin was
categorical: neither in the preparation nor once in power the Bolsheviks should
abandon their opposition to Kerensky’s government.
In mid-August there were rumours around Russia of a
counter-revolutionary uprising headed by Kornilov. To those Bolsheviks leaders
that doubted whether to form a block to “defend” Kerensky, Lenin said: “[…] any
Bolshevik who came to terms with the defencists for the purpose of ‘giving
access’, or indirectly expressing confidence in the Provisional Government
(which is allegedly being defended against the Cossacks), would, of course, be
immediately and deservedly expelled from the Party.” (“Rumours of a
conspiracy”, 18-19 August 1917, Lenin
Collected Works, Vol 25, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974, p. 251.) Lenin
was more than categorical: expulsion because “indirectly expressing confidence”
in Kerensky’s government. That is to say, a government of “socialist” double
In the articles cited, New MAS and LTS/PTS accuse IWU-FI of using the
same slogan (Out with Maduro) as Guaido and Trump as part of the coup attempt.
Lenin and Trotsky also adopted the slogan “Down with Kerensky”, the same slogan
used by Kornilov’s associates and the Russian counter-revolutionary right. The
revolutionary socialists use it from an opposed perspective, standing up for
the working-class’ interests. Kornilov/Guaido and Trump use it at the service
of the imperialist counter-revolution.
When the coup attempt took place in September 1917, Lenin and Trotsky
called a mobilisation to stop and defeat it but in those days they suspended
the slogan of Down with Kerensky and All the power to the soviets, using it
again immediately after Kornilov failed.
Thus, our current is coherent with the traditions and teachings of our
revolutionary masters: to stand up for a policy of class independence and
permanent condemnation of the bourgeois governments that, posing as
centre-left, pseudo-revolutionaries or fake “socialism”, attack the workers’
If an imperialist military invasion
takes place, we will follow Trotsky’s advice
LTS/PTS say we would go against Trotsky who, talking to the Argentinian
Trotskyist union leader Mateo Fossa about the struggle of the oppressed nations
against imperialism, provided the hypothetical example on how to answer to a
hypothetical invasion of the “democratic” England against the semi-fascist
Getulio Vargas’ government of Brazil. He said: “Let’s imagine that one day
England starts a military conflict with Brazil. “I ask you on whose side
of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself
personally-in this case I will be on the side of ‘fascist’ Brazil against
‘democratic’ Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will
not be a question of democracy or fascism.” (“Anti-imperialist struggle is key
to Liberation”, 23 September 1938, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1938–1939,
Pathfinder Press, New York, 1974, p. 35.)
We agree with Leon Trotsky’s advice. But this is not the case now in
Venezuela. There is neither a military invasion nor a right-wing coup. There are
attempts, but it is not the present situation. We have said now and again that,
with an American military invasion with the support of other countries, as
Trotsky said, we would eventually be on the military camp —only military— of
Maduro’s repressive dictatorship; giving it no political support. The same if
there is a pro-American military coup. We have no doubts or ambiguities here.
There is not any similar situation as in 2003 when the Americans invaded Irak
against Saddam Hussein. Or during the 1982 Malvinas war against Great Britain
under Galtieri’s genocidal dictatorship. In both cases, the revolutionaries
were on the oppressed nation’s side against imperialism.
IWU-FI and PSL have that clear, consistent and revolutionary stand. We
repudiate any coup attempt or the military invasion threats from Guaido and
Trump. We call the workers and the people to mobilise against Trump and Guaido
and overthrow Maduro to impose a popular and workers’ plan to overcome the
crisis in Venezuela.