Against the Current No 7, January-February 1987

Against the Current No 7, January-February 1987

Letter from the Editors on Nicaragua

— The Editors

CALL IT IRANGATE or Contragate, lranscam or Contraskim, the Reagan administration's winning streak in foreign policy has come to an end. The arms-for-Khomeini/profits-for-contras and other spinoff revelations have stripped the Teflon-coated Reagan presidency, wrecked its credibility and turned the Great Communicator's own genial know-nothing mannerisms from a political asset to a liability.

What remains unclear is whether all this is permanent. For now, the contra aid dracula is dead and in the coffin. For now, the U.S. global "anti-terrorism" crusade is a shambles. For now, American capital may be seriously wondering whether the management of worrisome budget and trade deficits can be entrusted to a mortally wounded political regime. Some major political reorganization may be in the offing, even if Reagan himself remains on stage to read the lines. Whether this reversal of the administration's fortunes is permanent or at least partially reversible will be a matter of intense political struggle in coming months. For the left, it is important to understand what this struggle will be about, an understanding that begins with some of the basic realities of Contragate....

When Farmworkers Walk Out

— David Finkel interviews John Joslin

JOHN JOSLIN, a 36-year-old electrician from Detroit and a Central America solidarity activist, was in Nicaragua from February 26 to March 10, 1986. He participated in a harvest brigade organized by Nicaragua Exchange, which has been organizing construction and harvest brigades since 1983. David Finkel interviewed Joslin for Against the Current.

Against the Current: Why did you go to Nicaragua?

John Joslin: For two reasons. ...

Some Perspectives on the FSLN

— Alan Wald

A Bit of Background

CONSIDERABLE CONFUSION exists among many socialist and anti-intervention activists about the political character of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the majority party in the Nicaraguan National Assembly and the hegemonic political force in Nicaragua. Such confusion is understandable in the light of the disinformation campaign of the Reagan administration, which falsely charges the FSLN with acts of brutality and "totalitarian" repression-and characterizes the FSLN as "Marxist-Leninist" and "Communist."...(l)

Nicaragua in Economic Perspective

IN SPITE OF all the U.S. efforts to destroy the Nicaraguan economy, Nicaragua-while suffering a war and having to devote half of its budget to defense-has had a certain success in keeping its economy going. This is due above all to the economic solidarity Nicaragua has received from abroad and to the capacity of its people to keep repairing the economy and adjusting it to the exigencies of the war....

The Revolution at Age Seven

— Gary Ruchwarger

p>NICARAGUANS CALL their revolution the "Popular Sandinista Revolution." The anti-imperialist struggle of General Augusto Cesar Sandino and his army of peasants, workers, and artisans in the 1920s and 1930s has served as an important source of identity and historical experience for the contemporary revolutionary process.(1)

Nevertheless, the Sandinista revolution can be compared with the major social revolutions of modern history....

The New Salary Policy

— Gary Ruchwarger

WAGES IN Nicaragua offer a case study in the contradictions of the revolution and the dynamics of its policies.

Under Somoza Nicaragua suffered from an anarchic salary system that was part of the dictator's deliberate tactics to divide workers....

State, Party, Masses: Who Rules?

— Dan La Botz

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN the state, the ruling political party, and the labor unions is extremely important in any society; it may even be the crucial and determining relationship. In examining the unfolding social and political revolution in Nicaragua it should certainly be one of the issues at the center of our attention. By focusing on that relationship, we can examine issues of workers' democracy and workers' power.

The question we're asking here is: what kind of relationship exists and is likely to exist in the future, between the state, the party and the unions in Nicaragua, understanding that the relationship is powerfully affected by the U.S. war against the Nicaraguan people?...

Their Socialism and Ours

— Ralph Schoenman

DOES SOCIALISM EXIST anywhere in the world today? Is there any "socialist" State which we can support? What does it mean to .be in transition to socialism? What is the relationship between socialism and democracy?

In a period of upsurge, such as we find today, the need for clarity and rigor among revolutionary socialists is more important than at other times. Yet there persists among many of us a fundamental confusion about our program and our values. This is surprising, given the painful history of revolutions aborted, revolutions lost and revolutions betrayed....

Privilege's Paradise Lost

— Dianne Feeley

Revolution in the Family
by Shirley Christian.
New York: Random House, 1985, 337 pages, $19.95.

“… it was not the masses, but the economic and political elites who made it possible for the Sandinistas to march triumphantly into Managua in July 1979.” (248)

ACCORDING TO Shirley Christian's account of the Nicaraguan revolution, the real facts are that 1) Somoza wasn't such a bad guy, 2) the moderate opposition could have taken over except for the fact that the Carter administration was indecisive and the Sandinistas were tricky, 3) the Sandinistas are just a bunch of totalitarian commies, and 4) the devastation the country has suffered is,...

Random Shots: Irangate Proves God Is Great

— R.F. Kampfer

RICK AND ANDREW GREEN have written a brilliant lexicon on terms used to discuss the arms race. Some of their definitions, printed in the July 31 Toronto Globe and Mail, are listed below. [Don't let this lead you to believe that just anyone can get space on my page.]

SALT Talks: Talks designed to save the world from the people at the talks. From the phrase, "pouring salt on open wounds."

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Small nuclear bombs that will not lead to total war....

"War Sandinism," 1979-1986

— Carlos M. Vilas

OVER THE PAST seven years, the Sandinista government has shown its capacity to pursue its global strategy of national unity and mixed economy within the framework of a democratic, popular, and anti-imperialist process. This strategy has called for maintaining an alliance with private capital, especially the agroexport bourgeoisie, while coordinating an economy which continues to be composed, to a large extent, of small-scale enterprises in both town and country....

Slow Motion Toward a Survival Economy

— The envio Staff

"TODAY, AFTER SEVEN years of revolution, Nicaragua's economic order is passing through its most critical period," concluded the August 27 communique of the Fifth Ordinary Meeting of the Sandinista Assembly, the highest consulting body of the FSLN National Directorate.

A recent public opinion survey in Nicaragua showed that more than three-quarters of those interviewed see the war of attrition as the main cause of the economic crisis....