ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

February 2011



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Castro sides with Gaddafi

I have just read Fidel Castro’s analysis of the situation in Libya. In a ‘Reflections of Fidel’ piece in Monthly Review called The Plan is to occupy Libya Castro nowhere condemns Gaddafi for killing thousands of his citizens. He does not offer his support to the Libyan revolution.

Instead he warns, with little plausibility at the moment, that NATO is preparing to invade. So he condemns plans that might come into existence but not the massacres actually occurring daily in Libya.

While the freedom fighters are challenging imperialism and Gaddafi, the dictator’s recent friend, Castro, is using anti-imperialism as a fig leaf to defend the murderous regime. Let me quote two examples. In the article Castro says:

One can agree with Gaddafi or not. The world has been invaded with all kinds of news, especially using the mass media. One has to wait the necessary length of time in order to learn precisely what is the truth and what are lies, or a mixture of events of every kind that, in the midst of chaos, were produced in Libya.

These are weasel words worthy of Obama or Clinton. Castro is on Gaddafi’s side. Certainly he is not opposed to him. Castro’s silence on the murderous response of the Gaddafi regime to the mass uprising  of the Libyan people will echo loudly down the halls of history.

Unlike Castro I support those risking their lives and dying in this magnificent revolution against the Libyan tyrant. Today for example I will be attending a demonstration against the dictator at the Libyan Embassy in Canberra, Australia.

Castro finishes off with this apologia for the dictator and the murder of thousands of freedom fighters.

An honest person shall always be against any injustice being committed against any people in the world, and the worst of all, at this moment, would be to remain silent in the face of the crime that NATO is getting ready to commit against the Libyan people.

What a disgrace. He condemns the possible but not the massacres actually happening now.  Why?

Castro’s regime is a capitalist one. It is the state as concentrated monopoly capital exploiting its working class.

The imperialist blockade of Cuba for daring to buck US control in 1959 has seen the Cuban ruling elite seek out support among various anti-American regimes. This explains the  embrace of ‘socialism’ 2 years after the revolution.

This search for friends became especially important after the collapse of the state capitalist Stalinist regime in Russia in 1989 which ended the flow of  economic support for the state capitalist dictatorship in Cuba.

The world Castro inhabits is either pro or anti-US imperialism.

A popular democratic uprising of the masses which threatens imperialism and at the same time one of his erstwhile make believe anti-imperialist allies and friends makes Castro equivocate. 

He fears the masses more than he fears US imperialism. Hence he cannot condemn Gaddafi but must instead couch the battle in the narrow terms of anti-imperialism.

There is another link. Both are top down rulers; they believe in change from above. Their revolutions had a similarity – a change of personnel at the top with the fundamentals of capitalism in place, no matter who high blown the rhetoric and phraseology. The working class played no role in either revolution as workers.

Castro and Gaddafi  recognise in each other kindred top down spirits.

Castro’s state capitalist regime uses the blockade and anti-imperialism at home to help retain its grip on power. It uses the same logic abroad to support dictatorships which are opposed to the US.

The best antidote to US imperialism in the region is the Arab revolutions and the conquest of power by the masses. 

In Libya that means no to Gaddafi, yes to the people and, if the revolution matures, victory to the Libyan working class. 

Victory to the masses. Victory to the Arab working class across the region.

Update: Venezuela has not condemned the killings. Ortega in Nicaragua rang Gaddafi to express his support. They too are equivocating. Cuba’s Foreign Minister has parroted the Castro line.



Comment from Walter
Time February 26, 2011 at 10:05 am

Well said John, very disappointing indeed. Castro is/was a great leader and this is more than pathetic.

Comment from Auntie Rhoberta
Time February 26, 2011 at 10:46 am

I have never had any especial liking for Gaddafi or Castro, but isn’t there also the question of the royalists in Benghazi (where a lot of the oil is found)?

Comment from Magpie
Time February 26, 2011 at 11:30 am


I agree with you 100%. And I’m relieved you mentioned Chávez and Ortega.

The truth of the matter is that anti-Americanism (which is what those three characters represent) is not synonymous with anti-imperialism.

And even anti-imperialism is not yet synonymous with socialism, either.

I, as Auntie Rhoberta, also have some reservations about all these revolutions, in the sense that they are not necessarily socialist revolutions.

For instance, the ousting of Mubarak does not necessarily mean that Egypt will go through a socialist revolution.

However, even if not socialists, these uprisings are steps forward.

Castro, Chávez and Ortega, in a sense, are also steps forward. Regardless of their innumerable failings, they have also improved the lot of their peoples. Cuba, for all its problems, has no illiteracy and its life expectancy is higher not only that in any other Latin American country, but higher than in the US.

In that sense, I believe my duty is to support those uprisings, as once I supported Chávez and Ortega (not Castro, as I was yet to be born!).

But they are just steps in a journey, not the final destination.

Comment from John
Time February 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Yes, but Benghazi is being run by people’s committees. The revolution is being driven by the urban poor, the working class, the young, not the monarchists.

Pingback from En Passant » No to intervention – yes to revolution
Time February 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

[…] might also like to look at Castro sides with Gaddafi and The revolutions […]

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time February 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm

The Cuban revolution’s great strength lies in that it never embraced the repression and bureaucratism and national parochialism of the Stalinist states. On the other hand, it’s greatest weakness comes from never quite coming to grips with some of the crude political analyses that were common in the Stalinist economic camp. So for example both the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions have supported the Sri Lankan government against the Tamils, a terrible disappointment for their many supporters.

Castro is living in yesterday here, I think, whereas Qaddafi was actually in conflict with imperialism. Rumours abound that Qaddafi is about to seek refuge in Venezuela, which makes me cringe. He ought to be held to account for selling out his nation to imperialism and his autocratic crimes.

But your drawing of direct comparisons between Castro and Qaddafi is silly. When did the Cuban government unleash terror against their own working class? And the State-Capitalist theory that Cuba never had a working class revolution is tendentious. There has been plenty written to question that assertion which you are well aware of.

What we should conclude from this is that leftists who support the notion that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” have lost or misread their political compass. That goes for Castro as much as anyone else on the left.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time February 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

“whereas” should read “when” – sorry!

Comment from John
Time February 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Ben, I think the issue is a deeper one. Supporting the repression of the Prague spring, supporting the Sri Lankan government against the Tamils, supporting Qaddafi. There is a pattern, driven by the logic of state capitlaism in Cuba.

There has been plenty written by apologists for Castro about the ‘working class as working class’ in the Cuban revolution. It is bullshit.

As for repression, the Cuban regime does not allow independent trade unions. It persecuted gays.

The comparison with Gaddafi is apt. Both have a top down view of change. Both fear revolution from below.

Comment from Shane H
Time February 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Which is really what this article is all about – a debate between sects about whose really revolutionary.

Comment from mhab
Time February 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm

What we need is a genuine anti-capitalist agenda. Probably most young capitalists nowadays are unaware of the existence of a credible alternative to capitalism. What can we offer them? If the powers that be had their way, the only alternative to capitalism would be one with a name that is easy to link with totalitarian horrors on a huge scale. And an alternative that talks about things like class and revolution, which will always be a total anathema to 95% of the population. Imagine how threatened they’d be if an anti-capitalist agenda was argued that steered clear of all the old, obnoxious connections with reverse snobbery and violence. Imagine the power of an anti-capitalist agenda that sounded relevant, kind, democratic, and realistic.

Comment from John
Time February 27, 2011 at 8:10 am

Evidently commenting on the failure of Castro to support the freedom fighters in Libya is somehow sectarian, the usual repetitive and ridiculous spin from Shane. Shane has nothing to learn from actions round the world, especially of his favourite state capitalist leaders. One can but hope that others on the Left might be questioning their support for the dictator. One at least so far in Australia appears to be, although that might be part of a double game.

There is a serious issue here. It is about what socialism is. If you don’t have theory based on working class liberation then you don’t have practice based on working class liberation.

Attempting to build a working class revolutionary organisation will attract criticism. Shane is just part of that.

In Australia let’s help build the solidarity movement with the struggles going on in the Middle East and North America. How’s that coming along in Rockhampton Shane?

Comment from Magpie
Time February 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Regarding debates about Fidel, Shane says:

“A debate between sects about who’s really revolutionary.”

However, Fidel Castro himself said:

“One can agree with Gaddafi or not”.

It would seem that, regarding Fidel, the same thing applied: one can agree with him or not.

However, if one disagrees one is being sectarian.

So one’s free to enthusiastically pick the only option one’s left and say: I agree with Castro!

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time February 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm

“There has been plenty written by apologists for Castro about the ‘working class as working class’ in the Cuban revolution. It is bullshit.”

Sadly, this constitutes the most cogent answer I have come across from Socialist Alternative to the actual history of the workers’ struggle in the Cuban revolution as written for e.g. by Chris Slee in a modest pamphlet a year or two ago.

One other point: Castro formally endorsed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, yet if you read his comments, that endorsement was so politically qualified that it amounted to damning with faint praise.

As to the Cubans’ wrong-sidedness which goes back to Eritrea (but not Angola!), they certainly aren’t perfect. This “Castroite” never claimed they were.

Comment from John
Time February 27, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Ben, the IS tendency has written a lot about the nature of the Cuban revolution. It is slightly more intellectually and historically accurate than Chris’s piece. My question is, if there was a workers’ revolution in Cuba and the Cuban state is some form of workers’ state, why was it or is it in the interests of Cuban workers to support the suppression of workers in Czechoslovakia, the genocide against Tamils and the massacres in Libya? The answer to me seems obvious. It’s because workers don’t control the Cuban state that the ruling class there makes decisions in its perceived interests, not those of Cuban workers.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time February 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm

The funny thing is that the headline on your article is false. Castro is sadly circumspect about criticising his old ally. On the other hand, the Cuban government in the UN is quite clear: let the Libyan people sort out their own government, condemn the violence, and keep imperialist intervention out. As far as international diplomacy goes, that’s an interesting position. Not exactly lockstep with the imperialists. See

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time February 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Missed half a sentence (I’m getting sloppy these days!): “Castro doesn’t express support for Gaddafi in this article, although he is sadly circumspect about criticising his old ally. “

Comment from John
Time February 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Not condemnig his ally is siding with him.

Comment from Dr_Tad
Time March 1, 2011 at 6:39 am

A considered analysis of why Castro, Chavez & Ortega are backing Gaddafi’s and his state rather than the mass movement:

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time March 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

Something more useful IMHO than Mike Gonzalez’ tired old line:

Comment from John
Time March 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm

You mean something like this in the Guardian by Mike? How can Latin America’s ‘revolutionary’ leaders support Gaddafi?

Write a comment