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 对当代托洛茨基主义的批判:英文论集

图片:
Carl Davidson
Left in Form,
Right in Essence
A Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism
(1973)


This pamphlet was originally published as a series of 12 articles in early 1973 in the Guardian newsweekly.
Second printing Spring 1974.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).



What is the role of Trotskyism in the people’s struggles today? What are its historical origins and what new forms has it taken in recent times? These are the questions addressed in this pamphlet, which first appeared as a 12-pan series in the Guardian in the Spring of 1973.



Trotskyism: A new debate over old issues

Two lines on “permanent revolution”

Socialism in one country

The two-stage revolution

The national liberation struggle

Trotskyism and China today

United front against fascism

Origins of U.S. Trotskyism

National and class struggle

The woman question

Reform or revolution?

The vanguard party




Carl Davidson
Left in Form,
Right in Essence

Trotskyism: A new debate over old issues

The U.S. left in the last months of 1972 saw the revival in a sharp form of a debate that has been an undercurrent throughout its history.

The issue was Trotskyism and the focus was its ideological and practical role within the revolutionary movement. The immediate occasion of the debate was the political, military and diplomatic offensive of the Vietnamese people. The struggle culminated in their pressing of the nine-point peace treaty on the Nixon administration, demanding the signing of the agreement, the cessation of bombing and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.

The Vietnamese liberation fighters issued a call to all progressive forces in the world to bring to the forefront and rally behind the demand that Nixon “Sign the Treaty Now!” After initially indicating agreement, the U.S. balked, stalled for several weeks and then unleashed the terroristic Christmas bombing of North Vietnam.

Nixon’s genocidal deeds failed to intimidate the Vietnamese. What is more the worldwide fury provoked by bombings and given direction by the political strategy of the Vietnamese leadership utterly isolated the Nixon administration and its Saigon henchmen before world opinion.

The demand to sign the treaty was the cutting edge of the struggle. On one side stood the Vietnamese people, the Indochinese united front, the national liberation movements, the socialist countries, the revisionist countries, the working class and democratic movements in the capitalist countries, a number of capitalist governments “allied” with the U.S. and even a section of the U.S. bourgeoisie itself.

On the other side stood the Nixon administration and the Saigon puppets.

But Nixon had one additional ally to set against this dramatic example of the international united front against U.S. imperialism – almost the entire Trotskyist movement.

The Trotskyists, too, were opposed to demanding that Nixon sign the treaty, urged that the agreement be scrapped and claimed that it would violate the “right of self-determination” of South Vietnam. They organized opposition to the demand within the U.S. antiwar movement, carried article after article in their press indicating that the treaty was a “sellout” and “betrayal” of Vietnam’s national rights and threatened to organize separate protests if the demand was made the principal slogan of the planned mass mobilizations in January.

The Trotskyists believe that their position flows from a “revolutionary” analysis of the world situation and proceed to embellish their conclusions with “left” phraseology. What they actually demonstrate in practice, however, is the validity of the traditional Marxist-Leninist appraisal of the Trotskyist movement: that they are “left” only in form, but are thoroughly rightist in actuality.

Opposing the “sign the treaty” demand and counterposing it to the demand for immediate withdrawal is not simply an aberration of otherwise legitimate Trotskyist views on revolutionary questions. On the contrary, this disruptive line flows inevitably from the fundamental views of Trotskyist theory, their strategic approach to revolution and the characteristic features of their movement.

What has only begun to become clearer to the emerging revolutionary forces in the U.S. is exactly what the views of the Trotskyists are, what their role in history has been, and what role they play in current revolutionary practice.

The most recent position taken by the Trotskyists in relation to Vietnam, in this sense, has one positive aspect: it has served to open the eyes of many activists to the dangers of this particular brand of “left” opportunism and the necessity to struggle against its influence in the mass movement.

Trotskyism: then and now

The purpose of this pamphlet, then, will be to contribute to that struggle. It will try to assess the historical role of Trotsky and Trotskyism. the main outlines of its theory and its interrelation with practice and the key features of the contemporary Trotskyist movement, including the unity and differences among the various groupings within its ranks.

The history of the Trotskyist movement is bound up with the political career of Leon Trotsky himself. Trotsky’s public role as a spokesman for the October Revolution in Russia and his position as the first head of the Red army during the period of the Civil War has been and still is a source of prestige for his followers.

What is less well known is the erratic movement of Trotsky and his supporters throughout the course of the Russian revolution, his origins as a Menshevik, his initial hostility to Lenin and the Bolshevik party, and his struggles with Lenin after the seizure of power.

The development of the Trotskyist movement, however, both during Trotsky’s lifetime and after his death, has been shaped by events often beyond and in opposition to the subjective intentions of its founders.

Trotskyism originated, for instance, as a tendency within the working-class movement, alternately reflecting in its ranks the outlook of the radical petty bourgeoisie and the labor aristocracy. Today, whatever base it once had in the working class has evaporated and it is primarily a movement of the middle class youth in the advanced capitalist countries.

While the general trend of Trotskyism s development has been one of decline, the course has not been even. Periodically, in conjunction with both objective and subjective developments in the class struggle, it experiences a revival, as it has today in many of the advanced capitalist countries.

Aspects of the revival

The contemporary revival of the Trotskyist movement has two key aspects. The objective factor is related to the moribund character of imperialism, which sets itself against not only the class interests of the proletariat, but also increasingly drives into the democratic struggles the masses of the petty bourgeoisie and other radicalized middle strata.

This radicalization of the petty bourgeoisie in opposition to the policies of monopoly capital and in response to the struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed nationalities was one of the key features of the emergence of the ‘new left’ in the 1960s.

It has had a fundamentally progressive, anti-imperialist character while, at the same time, these forces have demonstrated a vacillation typical of their class base and an inability to go on their own, beyond the limits of reformism. Agim Popa, writing in the September-October, 1972 issue of Albania Today, drew the connection between Trotskyism’s revival and the middle class radicalization:

  Precisely these vacillations, this petty bourgeois instability, inclinations to go from one extreme to another, from anarchism and unbridled adventurism to extreme right opportunism and defeatism, constitute the favorable ground on which Trotskyism flourishes and speculates for its own counterrevolutionary aims.

There is also a subjective factor contributing to Trotskyism’s periodic revivals. Because of its self-constructed character as a “permanent opposition” within the revolutionary movement, its fortunes are often tied to the relative strength of right opportunism or even to opportunist errors or policies temporarily pursued by revolutionary forces.

The primary and most recent example of this was the 20th Congress of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. Under the smokescreen of attacking “Stalin’s crimes,” party chairman Nikita Khrushchev abandoned the Leninist theory of the proletarian dictatorship and projected the “three peacefuls” as the essence of revolutionary strategy: peaceful competition, peaceful coexistence and peaceful transition.

These events of the late 1950s signaled a qualitative change both in the Soviet Union and in the ongoing struggle within the international proletarian movement between Marxism- Leninism and revisionism. For the first time in history, revisionists held state power and the fact that “de-Stalinization” had been the mechanism through which it had achieved its aim gave the Trotskyist movement an entirely new lease on life. As Popa put it:

  After the 20th and especially after the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, where the renegade launched the savage campaign of anti-Stalinism, Trotskyism, which had been dealt heavy blows and had lost all influence on the masses, raised its head, resumed its undermining activity on a broad scale, and extended its poisonous roots to many areas and countries of the world. Like mushrooms after a shower, Trotskyist groups and organizations started to crop up in large numbers in Europe, America and in other areas.

These events sharply affected the initial character of the U.S. new left, which saw itself in opposition to the “old left” of the 1930s and, as a result, was isolated from the lessons of the proletarian socialist movement. While it was subjectively opposed to the reformist policies of the revisionists, it also found itself hamstrung in combating the influence of Trotskyism within its ranks.

Despite this temporary revival of Trotskyism, however, Trotskyism’s internal contradictions soon began to rise to the fore and are now again leading to a crisis within its own movement. These internal contradictions are part and parcel of Trotskyist theory itself and will inevitably contribute to its defeat in the course of the class struggle.




Two lines on “permanent revolution”

The cornerstone of the Trotskyist political line is its particular version of the theory of the “permanent revolution.”

What are its essential features? What separates it from the ideas of the permanent revolution put forward by Marx and Lenin and, in the final analysis, what turns it into a counterrevolutionary theory and practice?

The origin of the Marxist theory of the permanent revolution stems from the following question: How do proletarian revolutionaries conceive their strategic tasks in the countries where the bourgeois democratic revolution against feudalism has yet to be carried through to the end?

The same question was posed by the anarchists in a different way: Why should the workers become involved in the battles of the bourgeoisie, i.e., against the old, feudal order? In his work, Two Tactics, Lenin answered as follows: “The working class is, therefore, most certainly interested in the broadest, freest and most rapid development of capitalism. The removal of all remnants of the old order ... is of absolute advantage to the working class ...”

  The more complete, determined and consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more assured will the proletariat’s struggle be against the bourgeoisie and for socialism ... In a certain sense a bourgeois revolution is more advantageous to the proletariat than to the bourgeoisie ... It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to rely on certain remnants of the past, as against the proletariat, for instance, on the monarchy, the standing army, etc.

  Social-Democrats (communists) often express this idea somewhat differently by stating that the bourgeoisie betrays its own self, that the bourgeoisie betrays the cause of liberty, that the bourgeoisie is incapable of being consistently democratic.

The problem posed, then, is how does the proletariat carry through the democratic revolution in such a way that it grows over into a socialist revolution.

  While the democratic bourgeoisie wish to terminate the revolution as quickly as possible, said Marx in his Address to the Communist League, “our interests and our tasks consist in making the revolution permanent until all the more or less property-owning classes have been removed from power, until the proletariat has conquered state power, until the union of proletarians not only in one country, but in all the leading countries of the world, has developed to such an extent that competition between proletarians of those countries has ceased and at least the decisive productive forces are concentrated in the hands of proletarians. What we are concerned with is not a change in private property, not softening class contradictions, but abolishing classes, not improving existing society, but founding a new society.”

Thus the revolution is “permanent” in two ways. First, in looking toward the future, its course is one of uninterrupted class struggle until classes themselves are abolished. Second, looking back historically once classes are abolished, the revolution is permanent in the sense that there is no longer class struggle and the seizure of power and domination of one class by another.

This is a general statement of the theory of the permanent revolution that is upheld by Marxist-Leninists. Where the dividing line between proletarian revolutionaries and Trotskyists emerges, however, is in the particularity of the question, when it is applied in practice in the actual course of revolutionary struggle.

One divides into two

How did the forces represented by both Lenin and Trotsky see the course of the “uninterrupted” revolution in the concrete conditions in Russia? How were they able to ally temporarily and what respective lessons were drawn that led to “one dividing into two,” through the emergence of two lines on the strategy for revolution throughout the world?

Three positions were debated among Russian revolutionaries on how the struggle would develop. All started from the premise that the first task was the bourgeois revolution but then broke down into Menshevik, Trotskyist and Bolshevik camps.

The Menshevik view was rightist. They believed that since it was a bourgeois revolution, it would be led by the liberal bourgeoisie and supported by the working class. Its aim would be the creation of a democratic republic headed by the capitalists as its first stage, which would last for as long as 200 years before being surpassed by its second stage, or proletarian socialist revolution.

This view was reactionary on two counts. First, it proposed a subordinate alliance with a class bound to betray even its own democratic aims. Second, it favored this alliance with the liberals as opposed to an alliance with the peasantry, which the Mensheviks tended to view as a conservative force and the base of reaction.

Trotsky’s view, which Lenin designated “absurdly left,” was summed up by its formulator in his essay, The Three Conceptions of the Russian Revolution, in the following way:

  The complete victory of the democratic revolution in Russia is inconceivable otherwise than in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat basing itself on the peasantry. The dictatorship of the proletariat, which will inescapably place on the order of the day not only democratic but also socialist tasks, will at the same time provide a mighty impulse to the international socialist revolution. Only the victory of the proletariat in the West will shield Russia from bourgeois restoration and secure for her the possibility of bringing the socialist construction to its conclusion.

Lenin’s view was opposed to both of these. Against the Mensheviks he stated the following:

  The proletariat must carry through, to the very end, the democratic revolution by attaching to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyze the instability of the bourgeoisie.

In order to thus “paralyze” and keep the bourgeoisie from fully consolidating its power, Lenin said, the revolutionary masses would have to establish a “revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.”

“But of course,” he added, “this will be, not a socialist but a democratic dictatorship. It will not be able to touch upon the foundations of capitalism (without a whole series of stages of revolutionary development).”

In opposition to Trotsky, then, Lenin insisted that the revolution would develop in stages, of which this was the first. At the same time this was only to be a transitional state of affairs, which would immediately and uninterruptedly grow over to the second stage, the dictatorship of the proletariat, wherein:

  The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution by attaching to itself the mass of the semiproletarian elements of the population (the poor peasants) in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyze the instability of the petty bourgeoisie.

The relationship between the two stages, Lenin said, was that “the first grows into the second. The second, in passing, solves the problems of the first. The second consolidates the work of the first. Struggle, and nothing but struggle, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first.” In another work he added, “to attempt to raise an artificial Chinese wall between the first and second revolutions, to separate them by anything else than the degree of preparedness of the proletariat and the degree of unity with the poor peasants, is to seriously distort Marxism. to vulgarize it, to substitute liberalism in its stead.”

Trotsky opposed the concept of the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” and considered it “unrealizable” in practice. “In this polemic,” Trotsky writes in his work The Permanent Revolution, “I accused Lenin of overestimating the independent role of the peasantry. Lenin accused me of underestimating the revolutionary role of the peasantry.”

Trotsky claims to uphold the alliance between the workers and peasants, at least insofar as democratic tasks are being carried out. When socialist tasks are on the agenda, however, his position shifts drastically:

  ... Precisely in order to secure its victory, the proletarian vanguard would be forced in the very early stages of its rule to make deep inroads not only into feudal property but into capitalist property as well. In this the proletariat will come into hostile collision, not only with the bourgeois groupings which supported the proletariat in the first stages of revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of peasants who were instrumental in bringing it to power.’

Elsewhere, Trotsky is even more blunt: “Left to its own forces, the working class of Russia will inevitably be crushed by the counter-revolution the moment the peasantry will turn away from it.”

Special form of alliance

Lenin’s view is directly opposite: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a special form of class alliance between the proletariat, the vanguard of the toilers, and the numerous nonproletarian strata of the toilers (the petty bourgeoisie, the small craftsman, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, etc.) or the majority of these.”

Thus Trotsky’s talk about the “independent role” of the peasantry is a smokescreen and Lenin was absolutely correct in arguing that Trotsky underestimated its revolutionary role. At the same time, the other side of the coin of this “underestimation” is the denial of the ability of the workers to lead the masses of the peasants in socialist construction, since they are bound to come into “hostile collision” with them.

Trotsky’s views on the course of the Rqssian revolution, like those of the Mensheviks, were refuted by history. The revolution was both uninterrupted and developed in stages. The revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants came into being during the first stage, during the period of the dual power and in the special form of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. These Soviets, of course, as their “degree of preparedness” of the workers and “degree of unity” with the poor peasants increased, grew over into the proletarian dictatorship through the October Revolution. What this meant for Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” becomes clear when it is considered with the concept of “socialism in one country.”



Socialism in one country

It is an historical fact that Trotsky stood together with Lenin and the, Bolshevik party during the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

But it is also true that in February 1917 Lenin termed Trotsky a “swine” and “scoundrel” and in March of 1918 declared his views on the most crucial issue to the survival of the revolution – the signing of the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty – to be “absolutely wrong.”

Why were Trotsky and the Leninists able to find a temporary unity during the October period? Why did that unity succumb to a series of “tactical differences” which eventually developed into two opposing lines on the question of building “socialism in one country?”

The answer lies in the internal contradiction in Trotsky’s views and his failure to take into account the changing national and international objective conditions determining the course of the revolutionary struggle.

On one hand, Trotsky stood in opposition to the bourgeoisie and called for the immediate transition to the proletarian dictatorship. In spite of the fact that this was an ultra-leftist position prior to the first stage of the revolution in February, Trotsky’s opposition to the Provisional Government and his call for the assumption of all power to the Soviets during the transition to the second stage placed him objectively in the same position as the Bolsheviks.

On the other hand, Trotsky stood in opposition to the Bolsheviks in claiming that the proletariat was bound to come into “hostile collision” with the broad masses of peasants during socialist construction and that “without direct state support from the European proletariat, the working class of Russia cannot maintain itself in power and transform its temporary rule into a durable socialist dictatorship. This we cannot doubt for an instant.”

These differences between Trotsky and the Leninists did not immediately become paramount for two reasons, both related to objective conditions. First, internally, Trotsky’s views on the peasantry did not immediately come to the foreground because the Soviet power’s first tasks in the countryside were not socialist construction but the completion of the democratic revolution against the big landlords.

With this much Trotsky agreed. But he did not believe it could go much further without socialism in power in Western Europe. After victory in the Civil War and the successful conclusion of the temporary retreat during the period of the New Economic Program (NEP), the objective conditions changed. Trotsky’s underlying views on the peasant masses did not change, however, which led him to vacillate on agrarian policy and finally to term the actual rural collectivization an “economic adventure.”

Second, on external questions concerning the “direct state support” of the European workers, Trotsky’s disagreements were seen as “tactical” because the immediate postwar period was viewed as one of acute crisis for the capitalists and direct revolutionary offensive by the revolutionary proletariat. Despite the emergence of Soviets in Hungary and Germany, however, the offensive failed to bring about another proletarian state power. After its peak in 1921, the offensive slacked off and by 1923 had turned into a proletarian defensive and a new period of temporary stabilization and offensive by capital.

Why were the proletarian forces unable to go further and take power in Europe? “It could have taken place,” said Lenin, “but for the fact that the split within the proletariat of Western Europe was deeper, and the treachery of the former socialist leaders greater, than had been imagined.” Trotsky, on the other hand, laid the main blame not on the social-democratic opportunists, but on “the weaknesses, unpreparedness and irresolution of the communist parties and the vicious errors of their leadership ...”

But what did this turn of events mean for the new Soviet power?

Although Lenin had proclaimed in March 1918 “that without a revolution in Germany, we shall perish,” he also made the point even earlier, in 1915, that “uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country taken separately.”

“It has turned out,” said Lenin later, after the Civil War, “that while our forecasts did not materialize simply, rapidly and directly, they were fulfilled insofar as we achieved the main thing. The possibility has been maintained of the existence of proletarian rule and the Soviet Republic even in the event of the world socialist revolution being delayed.”

“But is the existence of a socialist republic in a capitalist environment at all conceivable?” Lenin asked again. “From the political and military aspects it seemed inconceivable. That it is possible, both politically and militarily, has now been proved. It is a fact.”

By ignoring the changed objective conditions, Trotsky arrived at the opposite conclusion: “The organic interdependence of the several countries, developing toward an international division of labor, excludes the possibility of building socialism in one country. This means that the Marxist doctrine, which posits that the socialist revolution can begin only on a national basis, while the building of socialism in one country is impossible, has been rendered doubly and trebly true, all the more so now, in the modern epoch ...”

Final victory is worldwide

Marxist-Leninists, of course, have never held that the final victory of socialism – the classless society – is possible in one country. “According to the Leninist viewpoint,” states Mao Tsetung, “the final victory of a socialist country not only requires the efforts of the proletariat and the broad masses of the people at home, but also involves the victory of the world revolution and the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man over the whole globe, upon which all mankind will be emancipated.”

The Trotskyists consider this distinction between the final aims and the present tasks of socialist construction to be so much sand thrown in the face of the masses. “The lowest stage of communism,” said Trotsky, referring to Marx’s term describing the initial period of socialist construction, “begins at that level to which the most advanced capitalism has drawn near.”

Most socialist construction that has taken place in the world has been in relatively backward countries. But to call it “socialism,” in Trotsky s view, would only “hopelessly discredit the idea of socialist society in the eyes of the toiling masses.” (If this position were not patently ridiculous, one would be led to the conclusion that the deepest and broadest hatred of socialism in the world today would be permeated among the masses of the Chinese people.)

Idealism versus materialism

How can Trotsky arrive at such a conclusion? By adopting an idealist rather than a materialist world outlook: “The Soviet proletariat has achieved grandiose successes,” writes Trotsky in 1928, “if we take into consideration the conditions under which they have been attained and the low cultural level inherited from the past. But these achievements constitute an extremely small magnitude on the scales of the socialist ideal.”

What is Trotsky’s “socialist ideal?” Writing in 1936, after the successful conclusion of the first five-year plan and the collectivization of agriculture, Trotsky still says “there is not yet, in this fundamental sense, a hint of socialism in the Soviet Union.” Why? Because “socialism, if it is worthy of the name, means human relations without greed, friendship without envy and intrigue, love without base calculation.”

Proletarian revolutionaries, of course, must never forget the final aims of their movement and always fight to implement them in the fullest way possible in the present day struggle. But Trotsky’s use of these standards to measure the advances of socialism under conditions of class domination and class struggle reduces the role of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard to that of a Sunday-school parson prattling moralistic aphorisms.

This utopianism, however, is only the veneer on the Trotskyist attack on socialist construction “in one country.” Its essence is what has led many revolutionaries to attack Trotskyists for “supporting socialism everywhere in the world except where it exists,” that is, anti-communism.

“The Soviet government,” writes Trotsky in 1936, “had become totalitarian in character several years before this word arrived from Germany”. What are the roots of fascism? “Japanese militarism” and the “triumph of Hitler,” says Trotsky, “are alike the fruits of the policy of the Communist International.” To make sure the point gets across, he adds, “Stalinism and fascism, in spite of a deep difference in social foundations, are symmetrical phenomena. In many of their features they show a deadly similarity.”

That Trotsky’s position would lead him into this camp of the social-democratic renegades became clear to the leadership of the Bolshevik party by 1924. At that time Trotsky’s initial unity with the Leninists had been transformed into its

opposite. There were now two lines-the proletarian and the urban petty bourgeois-on almost every question. The ensuing struggle between them and their practical ramifications manifested itself in a debate conducted within the party over three years and led finally to the expulsion of Trotsky and his “left” opposition in 1927.

What were the strategic questions involved? In a 1925 speech Stalin focused the question again on the role of the peasantry and asked why it assumed exceptional importance in the Soviet Union at that time:

  The ... reason why the peasant question has assumed exceptional importance for us at the present moment is that, of the allies of the Soviet power, of all the proletariat’s principal allies – of whom there are four, in my opinion – the peasantry is the only ally that can be of direct assistance to our revolution at this very moment.

The four allies were: the proletariat in the developed countries, the oppressed people in the underdeveloped countries, the conflicts and contradictions between the capitalist countries and, lastly, the peasantry.

The proletariat in the West, Stalin believed, was the principal ally. But due to its defensive position in the temporary stabilization it was “unable to render us direct and decisive assistance at the present moment.” The oppressed peoples, he said, were “coming directly to our help, but it is evident that they will not arrive quickly.” The contradictions among the capitalists had several aspects and could not be relied upon.

“There remains the fourth ally-the peasantry,” he said. “It is by our side, we are living together, together we are building the new life ... The peasantry is not as reliable an ally as the proletariat in the developed countries. But, for all that, it is an ally, and of all our existing allies it is the only one that can render us, and is rendering us, direct assistance at this very moment, receiving our assistance in exchange.”

Two lines on allies

Stalin then pointed to the two lines within the party: “Has this question – the question of the peasantry – any connection with the question of Trotskyism, which you have discussed here? Undoubtedly it has.”

  ... Can the bond, the alliance between the workers and peasants, be established if the theory which involves disbelief in that alliance. i.e., the theory of Trotskyism, is not smashed? No, it cannot. The conclusion is obvious: whoever wants to emerge from NEP as the victor must bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend.

Thus Trotsky’s position on the impossibility of “socialism in one country” led him and his followers into a blind alley. The path there was paved by a dogmatic and subjective world view that denied the law of uneven development in the imperialist epoch. Its fruit had two aspects: an infantile “leftism” that led to a line of “skipping stages” and the “export” of revolution and a right opportunist “theory of productive forces” similar to those held in the 1960s by Khrushchev and Liu Shao-chi. This became most apparent in the Trotskyist view of the Chinese revolution and the national liberation movements in general.

The two-stage revolution

Trotsky’s last stand in his battle against the Comintern, while he was still within its ranks, was on the question of the Chinese revolution.

Today his contemporary followers stand in opposition to China’s path of socialist developrnent and its contribution to the strategy of world revolution.

What is the connection between the two?

The heart of the Trotskyist position on the Chinese revolution lies in its failure to grasp the essence of the revolution’s first stage as a bourgeois-democratic revolution combining the agrarian struggle against feudalism with the national liberation struggle against foreign imperialism.

China in the 1920s was a vast semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. Its population was overwhelmingly comprised of rural peasants under the yoke of a large feudal landholding class. The nation was disunited, torn apart by warlord rivalries throughout the country, and through competing imperialist powers dominating and looting its various coastal cities.

The Chinese industrial proletariat was small hut militant, concentrated in a few urban centers. The bourgeoisie was weak and divided. Its most powerful sector was a class of compradors or “bureaucrat capitalists” integrated with colonial interests and linked to feudal forces. In between there was a more numerous national or “middle” bourgeoisie, itself hemmed in by the feudal warlords and foreign capital, but exploiters of the workers and peasants nonetheless. At the other end was also a large urban petty bourgeoisie, comprised of many diverse strata.

Friends and enemies

This is a brief summary of a more detailed picture of China drawn by Mao Tsetung in his 1926 essay, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. Mao wrote the work in order to answer the question he posed as of “the first importance for the revolution: Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” He answered in the following way:

  Our enemies are all those in league with imperialism-the warlords, the bureaucrats, the comprador class, the big landlord class and the reactionary section of the intelligentsia attached to them. The leading force in our revolution is the industrial proletariat. Our closest friends are the entire semi-proletariat (the peasant masses) and petty bourgeoisie. As for the vacillating middle bourgeoisie, their right wing may become our enemy and their left wing may become our friend – but we must be constantly on our guard and not let them create confusion within our ranks.

Trotsky completely opposed this position, which was essentially the same as that of the Comintern’s call during the 1920s for a revolutionary “bloc of four classes” in China. The “bloc” was seen as a national united front of the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie. The spearhead of the struggle was to be aimed at foreign imperialism. Its leading force was to be the proletariat and its motive force was to be the agrarian revolution of the peasant masses against the feudal landlords.

Politically, the bloc took the form of an alliance between the Communist party and the Kuomintang (KMT), which was at that time waging a massive armed struggle against feudal and imperialist forces. The CP joined its ranks, following the guidance of the 1923 Third Congress of the Comintern, led by Lenin, to “push the Kuomintang leftward.” While members of the KMT and its armies, however, the CP was to maintain its political and organizational independence in order to bring into effect the leading role of the working class within the united front. While the KMT was comprised of all classes, it represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. initially under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen and later of Chiang Kai-shek.

Trotsky considered the “bloc of four classes” counter-revolutionary and a manifestation of “Menshevism” imposed in China by Stalin. In his view the struggle had to be spearheaded against the bourgeoisie as a whole. At the same time, he played down or dismissed entirely the feudal and imperialist targets of the revolution.

“No landlords”

“There is almost no estate of landlords in China,” Trotsky wrote in a ludicrous passage in his 1929 work, The Permanent Revolution. “The landowners are much more intimately bound up with the capitalists than in Tsarist Russia, and the specific weight of the agrarian question is therefore much lighter than in Tsarist Russia.”

Stalin, in a reply to Trotsky at a 1927 meeting of the Comintern, noted the vast and elemental upsurge of the peasants against the feudal landlords and asked:

  Where does the agrarian revolution in China, with its demand for the confiscation of the landlords’ land, come from? ... Surely, the agrarian revolution cannot have dropped from the skies?

Trotsky practically liquidated the agrarian content of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and limited its scope mainly to the interests of the national bourgeoisie. “The Chinese revolution,” he states in The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin, “has a national bourgeois character principally because the development of the productive forces of Chinese capitalism collideE with its governmental customs dependence upon the countries of imperialism.”

“The revolution in China,” Stalin answered Trotsky ironically, “is primarily, so to speak, an anti-customs revolution ...”

“Permit me to observe,” he continued, “that this is the viewpoint of a state counselor of His Highness’ Chang Tso-lin (China’s self- proclaimed emperor.)”

  If Trotsky’s viewpoint is correct, then it must be admitted that Chang Tso-lin and Chiang Kaishek are right in not desiring either an agrarian or a workers’ revolution and in striving only for the abolition of the unequal treaties and the establishment of customs autonomy for China.
 

Rightist in essence

Thus through its “left” form of opposition to the national united front during the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist stage of the revolution, Trotsky’s viewpoint is revealed to be rightist in its essence.

How were these questions reflected in the actual practice of the Chinese revolution? The Trotskyists have claimed that Chiang Kai-shek’s betrayal of the united front and massacre of Communists in 1927 conclusively demonstrated the “counter-revolutionary” character of the Comintern line at the time as well as Mao’s line as it is still being developed and applied today.

The Chinese Communist party believes that its line was correct during “the early and middle stages of the 1924-27 period and was summed up by Mao in his Analysis of Classes ... Toward the end, however, as Chiang Kai-shek shifted increasingly to the right and the national bourgeoisie, in the main, deserted the revolution, the party’s line came to be dominated by the right opportunist policies of Chen Tu-hsiu, the CPC’s general secretary.

In the face of the KMT’s efforts to subordinate the CPC, spurred on by the growing fear of the worker and peasant upsurge within the KMT leadership, Chen Tu-hsiu pursued a policy of “all alliance and no struggle” within the united front, thus liquidating the proletariat’s leading role. ( hen also feared the peasant risings, believing they had “gone too far” and that they were a “conservative” force “unlikely to join the revolution.” In practice this meant capitulation to the betrayal of Chiang Kai-shek.

“Left” opposition to peasants

At the same time a second deviation arose in the CPC, the “left” opportunist line of Chang Kuo-tao, aimed at “all struggle and no alliance.” While Chen Tu-hsiu only curried favor with the KMT and discounted the peasants. Chang Kuotao urged reliance “only on the labor movement” and likewise discounted the peasants.

Opposed to what was identical in both the right and “left” opportunist lines was Mao Tsetung, who organized and supported the agrarian revolts, stating that “without the poor peasants there would be no revolution.” Mao’s policy on the united front throughout the Chinese revolution was one of both “unite with and struggle against,” always maintaining the independence of the CPC, its leading role among the masses and its armed power.

Mao’s position did not win hegemony at the time. “In 1927 Chen Tu-hsiu’s capitulationism,” Mao wrote later in 1937, “led to the failure of the revolution. No member of our party should ever forget this historical lesson written in blood.”

Which tendency was most represented by the general line of the Comintern? “I know that there are Kuomintangists and even Chinese Communists,” Stalin stated in 1926, “who do not consider it possible to unleash revolution in the countryside, since they fear that if the peasantry were drawn into the revolution it would disrupt the united anti-imperialist front. That is a profound error, comrades. The more quickly and thoroughly the Chinese peasantry is drawn into the revolution, the stronger and more powerful the anti-imperialist front in China will be.”

For as much as a year prior to Chiang Kaishek’s 1927 coup, the Comintern had urged and warned the Chinese CP to work for the “resignation or expulsion of Rights from the Kuomintang.” Six weeks prior to the coup, it stated, “It is necessary to adopt the course of arming the workers and peasants and èonverting the peasant committees in the localities into actual organs of governmental authority equipped with armed self-defense ... The Communist party must not come forward as a brake on the mass movement; the Communist i arty should not cover up the treacherous and reactionary policy of the Kuomintang Rights, and should mobilize the masses around the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist party on the basis of exposing the Rights.”

In the main, the Comintern advocated a policy put into practice independently by Mao and ignored or opposed by both Chen Tu-hsiu and Chang Kuo-tao. There were also a number of mistakes, some of which were corrected and others which had more serious consequences. Most significant was the role of Borodin, a key Comintern advisor in China at the time who vacillated on carrying out the Corn intern line and took a number of positions close to Chen Tu-hsiu.

If Trotsky’s line can be said to have had anything in common with Chinese reality, however, it was closest to the “left” opportunism of Chang Kuo-tao. Trotsky later saw in Chiang Kai-shek’s coup the “completion” of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the onset of new period of “stabilization” in China. What actually transpired was a prolonged period of renewed crisis, civil war and “dual power” in the form of liberated bases in the countryside. Trotsky’s line here, which called for a “constituent assembly” and legal struggle for democratic rights, was thoroughly rightist and devoid of any connection with the actual course of class struggle.

The national liberation struggle

“The strength of Marxism,” writes Leon Trotsky in The Third International After Lenin, “lies in its ability to foretell.”

Trotsky made the remark in a 1928 commentary on the Chinese revolution. In the same work he also made a number of predictions which, if he is measured by his own standard, place him considerably outside and opposed to the camp of those who deserve to be called Marxists.

Everyone knows, for instance, of the magnificent and heroic role of the Chinese peasant masses as the main force of the revolution, as the backbone of the Red Army and, under the proletarian leadership of the Chinese Communist party, as a vital component part of socialist construction in China today.

What did Trotsky “foretell?”

“Numerically the Chinese peasantry constitutes an even more overwhelming mass than the Russian peasantry,” he writes in the same work. “But ... the Chinese peasantry is even less capable of playing a leading role than the Russian At present this is no longer a matter of theoretical forecast, but a fact verified completely in all its aspects.”

It is also a matter of fact that the Chinese revolution was characterized by a protracted period of dual power for nearly two decades. “Red political power,” sustained by the Red Army and organized by the CPC, was established in a number of liberated zones stretching over vast areas and incorporating scores of millions of people. The governments of the base areas rallied the masses and step-by-step carried out the democratic tasks of the revolution, including land reform and the struggle against the Japanese imperialists.

New Democracy

Mao Tsetung termed the character of the state power and economy in these areas as “new democracy,” or a proletarian-led “dictatorship of all revolutionary classes over the counterrevolutionaries and traitors.” Their existence was seen as the first stage of the Chinese revolution, which would be completed in the main when they were extended over the entire country. At that time the revolution would immediately and uninterruptedly pass over to its second stage of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Such a development was possible, Mao said, because of the moribund character of imperialism and the fact that the October revolution in 1917 had placed the bourgeois-democratic revolutions in the colonial countries on the side of the proletarian socialist world revolution. “It is no longer a revolution of the old type,” Mao stated in 1940, “led by the bourgeoisie with the aim of establishing a capitalist society and a state under bourgeois dictatorship. It belongs to the new type of revolution led by the proletariat ...” What Mao had done, in effect, was to creatively apply and further develop Lenin’s theory of the “revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” to the concrete conditions in China.

Again, what did Trotsky “foretell?”

  The formula of the democratic dictatorship has hopelessly outlived its usefulness ... the third Chinese revolution, despite the great backwardness of China, or more correctly, because of this great backwardness as compared with Russia, will not have a “democratic” period, not even such a six-month period as the October Revolution had (November 1917 to July 1918) but it will be compelled from the very outset to effect the most decisive shake-up and abolition of bourgeois property in city and village.

Lashing out at “some metaphysics-mongers plus a few Trotskyites who, brandishing their pens like lances, are tilting in all directions and creating bedlam,” Mao said in a 1940 summary:

  It is a utopian view rejected by true revolutionaries to say that the democratic revolution does not have a specific task and period of its own but can be merged and accomplished simultaneously with another task, i.e., the socialist task (which can only be carried out in another period), and this is what they call “accomplishing both at one stroke.”

History has proved Mao correct. But rather than face the bankruptcy of their mentor, the present-day Trotskyists are reduced to slandering the Chinese revolution and rewriting history in a manner worthy of the Kuomintang. The U.S. Socialist Workers party’s 1955 resolution on the Chinese revolution, for instance, sums up the new democratic period that mobilized the Chinese masses to resist Japan and to future victories against Chiang Kai-shek in the following manner:

  After the defeat of the second Chinese revolution, they withdrew from the cities and established an armed peasant base. For a span of over 20 years, they used this armed power to rule over the backward and scattered peasant masses. In this manner the uncontrolled, cynical, self-willed bureaucracy consolidated. They applied to the revolution the methods of deceit and ultimatism, in order, at every stage, to safeguard their interests, their power, their privileges. Each success rendered them more contemptuous and fearful of the masses, more convinced they could cheat the class struggle with impunity.

Contrary to the SWP, however, this was the most daring and dramatic period in Chinese history. Hundreds of millions of Chinese, inspired by the leadership of Mao Tsetung and the CPC, “stood up” and turned over centuries of feudal domination. Tens of thousands flocked from the Kuomintang areas to the liberated zones, where the CPC had established, for the first time, an uncorrupted and democratic system of rule that, by all accounts, won the hearts and minds of the Chinese people. By all accounts, that is, except three: those of the Chiang Kai-shek reactionaries, the Japanese fascists and the Trotskyists.

Given its evaluation of the CPC, how does the SWP think the proletarian dictatorship ever managed to come to be in China? Apart from being counter-revolutionary, the reasoning is nothing short of bizarre. By their logic, it could only have been done spontaneously by the peasants. without the leading role of the proletariat, in opposition to the CPC every step of the way and, most decisively, because of Soviet prestige and the U.S. invasion of Korea!

SWP hits “Mao & Co.”

“Throughout the revolution,” states the SWP resolution, “Mao & Co. continued to impose arbitrary restrictions and limits upon its course. The agrarian reform was carried out ‘in stages’ and was completed only when the assault of American imperialism stimulated the opposition of the landlords during and after Korea. The Chinese Stalinists were able to ride into power because the Chinese working class had been demoralized by the continuous defeats it suffered during and after the second Chinese revolution, and. by the deliberate policy of the CPC, which subordinated the cities, above all, the proletariat, to the military struggle in the countryside and thereby blocked the emergence of the workers as an independent political force. The CPC thus appeared in the eyes of the masses as the only organization with political cadres and knowledge, backed, moreover, by military force.”

The SWP has another interesting facet. It characterizes the periods of 1925-27 and 1936-47 as years of “Maoist crimes.” What happened between 1928 and 1935? Why does this period get off the hook? One reason could be that this was the time when Mao still did not have hegemony within the CPC, when its central committee was dominated by the “three ‘left’ lines,” most disastrously by the ultra-leftism of the Li Li-san line.

Li Li-san’s attack

Li Li-san attacked Mao for “right opportunism” because he made distinctions between his enemies, because he didn’t oppose the entire bourgeoisie all at once, because he built rural base areas rather than launching frontal attacks on the cities all at once, and because Mao refused to expropriate the millions of “rich” peasants and petit bourgeoisie and “force” them into the revolution. Trotsky would have agreed. “The drive on the rich peasants,” he stated in 1923, “will be the first and not the second step of the Chinese October.” The SWP would have sympathized with Li Li-san, too. “The armies and regime of Chiang,” states their resolution, “could have been knocked down like rotten pieces of wood had the CPC at any time summoned the masses in the cities to rise.”

What was the cumulative result of the “three ‘left’ lines” in China? Disaster. All except one of more than a dozen base areas were lost. The Red Army, which Mao’s influence had carefully built up. was reduced to a fragment of its former size and power. The situation was only reversed by Mao’s assumption of leadership and his political direction of the unprecedented epic of the Long March.

how could Trotsky be so mistaken that his views led both him and his followers into the camp of counter-reVolution? The essence of the matter is found in Trotsky’s liquidation of the national question.

“What is the most important, the fundamental idea of our theses?” Lenin asked at the Comintern’s Second Congress. “The distinction between oppressed nations and oppressing nations. We emphasize this distinction – in contrast to the Second International and bourgeois democracy.

The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonies and backward countries,” he also noted, “but must not merge with it, and must unfailingly preserve the independence of the proletarian movement ...”

Trotsky’s view

Trotsky made the same distinction, all right, hut arrived at the opposite conclusion: “The Russian bourgeoisie was the bourgeoisie of an imperialist oppressor state; the Chinese bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie of an oppressed colonial country. The overthrow of feudal Tsarism was a progressive task in old Russia. The overthrow of the imperialist yoke is a progressive historical task in China. However. The conduct of the Chinese bourgeoisie in relation to imperialism, the proletariat and the peasantry, was not more revolutionary than the attitude of the Russian bourgeoisie towards Tsarism and the revolutionary classes in Russia, but, if anything, viler and more reactionary. That is the only way to pose the question.”

Didn’t the Chinese national bourgeoisie at times conduct armed struggle against the imperialists? Yes, Trotsky notes, but then countered this by stating that the Russian capitalists, too, fought foreign imperialists. Trotsky forgets one “minor” point. The Russian capitalists fought in an inter-imperialist war to subjugate backward nations; the Chinese fought a war of national liberation.

Rejects alliance

Despite the experience of the Chinese revolution, the present-day Trotskyists continue to uphold their reactionary views. “Any perspective of collaborating with the ‘national’ bourgeoisie or certain of its so-called progressive sectors must be rejected,” states the resolutions of the 1968 World Congress of the so-called Fourth International. “Parallel to this, all equivocal conceptions or formulas on the nature of the revolution such as ‘national democracy,’ ‘people’s democracy,’ ‘anti-imperialist revolution,’ or ‘bloc of four classes,’ which have been irretrievably refuted ... must be rejected.”

This is the real reason why the SWP refused to support the political program of the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam and stood with Washington in their refusal to support the demand, “Sign the Treaty Now!”

As succinctly stated in Forward Along the Path Charted By Karl Marx, written by the Vietnamese revolutionary Truong Chinh, the Vietnamese revolution is precisely a two-stage revolution, passing through a “new-type bourgeois-democratic revolution,” comprising at that stage an alliance of “four revolutionary forces,” including the “national bourgeoisie.” It has conducted the “national democratic” revolution in the liberated zones, conducted a people’s war based on the principle of self- reliance and on its completion, will uninterruptedly pass over to the socialist revolution.

Hiding behind “leftism”

The SWP opposes all this as so much “counterrevolution,” but has tried to hide its real views on Vietnam from the masses of anti-imperialist activists behind “left” phrases. For the SWP to come out in the open with its views on the line summed up by Truongthinh would only lead to a greater self-exposure of~the renegade character of the Trotskyist line.

“The Trotskyite theory of permanent revolution,” states the Albanian commentator Agim Popa, “is also the theory of the negation of the national movement in the development of the revolutionary, movement, the theory of the overestimation of the external factor and the negation of the internal factor as decisive in the revolution and, in the last analysis, a theory of the ‘export’ of revolution.” These concepts also apply to the Trotskyist line on China’s view of the united front and the cultural revolution.

Trotskyism and China today

“The ‘Russian question’ has been the main axis in world politics for nearly four decades,” states the Socialist Workers party’s 1955 resolution on the Chinese revolution.

“It now has found its extension and deepening,” the SWP continues, “in the ‘Chinese question.’ ”

The Trotskyists pose the question fairly enough. Their conclusions, however, just as in the past, lead them to the other side of the barricades.

What made the “Russian question” a touchstone for revolutionaries, demarcating Marxist-Leninists from right and “left” revisionists, was the existence of the proletarian dictatorship and its undertaking of the task of socialist construction “in one country.” The Trotskyists opposed the former in practice by denying the latter in theory.

Today China represents the main example in the world of the proletarian dictatorship and is likewise a touchstone for revolutionaries. But the Chinese revolution has also “deepened and extended” the question on two fronts: in the international arena through its call for a united front of all the world’s peoples against the “two superpowers” of U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism and in the domestic arena through its example of continuing the class struggle by the means of the “great proletarian cultural revolution” in socialist society.

Liu and Lin

In these two arenas the SWP has opposed the gains of the Chinese revolution. In general, it has attacked the policies of the Chinese Communist party under the leadership of Mao Tsetung as “ultraleftist” domestically and “rightist” internationally. In reality, however, it is the Trotskyists who vacillate between right and “left” opportunism and to the extent that their views have been reflected in China, it has been in the lines pursued by Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao.

How is this manifested? In China’s socialist construction the theoretical link between Trotsky and Liu Shao-chi can be seen in the “theory of productive forces” put forth by both figures.

The Sept. 19, 1969 issue of Peking Review sums up the “theory” as claiming that “the socialist road cannot be taken in any country where capitalism is not highly developed and the productive forces have not reached a high level ... After the seizure of power (Liu Shao-chi) raised it to oppose socialist transformation in a futile effort to lead China on the road to capitalism.”

Liu Shao-chi’s line came into sharp conflict with Mao’s over the collectivization of agriculture through the development of the cooperative system. “Some people have expressed the opinion,” Liu is quoted as saying in The Struggle Between the Two Roads in China’s Countryside, “that steps should be taken gradually to shake the foundations of private ownership, weaken it until it is nullified and raise the mutual aid organizations for agricultural production to the level of agricultural producers cooperatives as a new factor for ‘overcoming the peasants’ spontaneous tendency.’ This is an erroneous, dangerous and utopian conception of agricultural socialism.”

Liu held the view that farming had to develop for some time on an individual basis and that “mechanization” had to occur before “cooperation.” His struggle with Mao on the issue, together with severe natural calamities, hindered the development of China’s people’s communes and was not decisively defeated until the cultural revolution.

What are the Trotskyist views on this struggle? “China’s productive forces,” states the SWP in 1955, “are far from adequate to give the statized property a socialist character.” This is rooted in Trotsky’s own position where, in 1936, he summed up the essence of the “productive forces” line.

Vulgar evolutionism

“Marxism,” writes Trotsky, “sets out from the development of technique as the fundamental spring of progress.” Marxism, of course, does no such thing. It posits the class struggle as the motive force of historical development, including the development of the productive forces. Trotsky simply replaces revolutionary dialectics with vulgar evolutionism.

The SWP also sympathized with Liu’s line on the communes. “Abolition of private property on the land,” states Daniel Roberts in the May 1959 SWP Discussion Bulletin, is an “irrational and utopian” objective, “as long as China’s technological development and industrial equipment remain low. Communist social relations can evolve only on the basis of a technology that stands higher in its development and universal application than the heights reached under capitalism in the advanced industrial countries.”

“Does setting up the communes violate the peasants’ petty bourgeois aspirations to be individual farmers?” Roberts asks. He believes that it does and that, at most, the peasants might defer this individualism, for a brief time. After this period some peasants will have become bureaucrats or workers “and then we can also expect that tens of millions of peasants will want at last to engage in individual farming plus some form of voluntary cooperation.”

“The peasantry,” as Lenin put it, “has two souls,” one aspiring toward petty capitalism and the other casting its lot with the proletariat. What the Chinese experience has demonstrated is that “technique in command” leads them along the former path while “politics in command” leads to the latter. Given correct leadership the peasant masses, states Mao, “have a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism.”

“The ‘theory of productive forces’ hawked by Liu Shao-chi,” states Peking Review, “onesidedly describes the progress of society as the natural outcome of the development of the productive forces, chiefly the instruments of production. It completely denies that, Under certain conditions, the superstructure and the relations of production play the principle and decisive role in relation to the economic base and the productive forces; it also denies the proletariat’s consciously making revolution under the guidance of revolutionary theory, seizing political power and changing the relations of production that play the decisive role in greatly developing the productive forces and pushing social development ahead.”

China’s cultural revolution represented the massive class struggle between these two lines in every sphere of life. Its results have represented a tremendous advance for proletarian revolutionary forces, not only in China but throughout the world.

Side with revisionists

The Trotskyists, however, have tended to side with the modern Soviet revisionists in their evaluation of its results. They view it as an anti-intellectual, anti-cultural purge of one group of bureaucrats by another and if any “progressive tendencies” were involved at all, they would be found in the camp opposed to Mao Tsetung’s line.

For instance, SWP activist Les Evans, writing in the January 1973 International Socialist Review, interprets the cultural revolution in China’s educational system in the same fashion as the revisionists:

“The new standards,” he writes, commenting on university admissions policies, “are supposed to favor the children of workers and peasants, but clearly when the total enrollment is so sharply restricted this can have little application for the Chinese masses.”

Loyalty “downgrades”

  The new standards downgrade educational performance and replace it with the criterion of unwavering loyalty to the regime ...

  While the universities have been restricted to party members (a false claim – CD), the regime has stepped up its campaign to deport masses of city youth to remote areas of the countryside.

What the CPC has done, of course, is to apply Mao’s line of “serving the people” to its academic standards, rather than relying solely on the grading system in evaluating students. It also requires that students be selected directly from production in factories and communes, rather than entering the universities directly from the lower schools. Its “deportation of youth” consists of the policy of tempering the masses of urban youth in continuing the revolution, going among the masses of rural workers and peasants – the basic social reality of China – to learn from them, assist the revolution in the countryside and remold their class outlook in the process.

Evans also attacks the principle of criticism and self-criticism, the leading role in the revolutionary committees of the CPC and the May 7 cadre schools, where cadres manifesting bureaucratic attitudes toward the masses are re-educated in the spirit of serving the people.

Al] this, according to the Trotskyists, amounts to so many violations of what they term “worker’s democracy” but in reality represents the practice of the CPC slogan, “Fight self, repudiate revisionism.”

To the SWP this is unbearable and only confirms their 1955 assertion that “the Mao bureaucracy succeeded in the very course of the third Chinese revolution in imposing a totalitarian state power” which the SWP claims must be overthrown “by iron necessity.”

In evaluating China’s role in international affairs, the Trotskyists switch over and put on their ultra-“leftist” hat. Here the 1955 SWP statement attacks Mao for working to “confine the revolution to China’s borders.”

What does this mean? One indication is the Trotskyist attack on China for “betraying” the Vietnamese revolution. The “evidence” is that China has not given the Vietnamese “adequate” aid. Since the Vietnamese state that China has given them whatever they needed and the Chinese have given whatever the Vietnamese have asked, what do the Trotskyists consider “adequate?”

In his pamphlet, China and the U.S., SWPer Dick Roberts gives a hint. The imperialists were stopped in Korea when China sent in its troops, he points out. “But the Chinese did not send troops to aid the Vietminh,” he adds.

Thus “adequate” aid boils down to China’s giving the People’s Liberation Army their marching orders. This is the theory of the “export” of revolution, which is opposed by both the Chinese and Vietnamese leaderships, as contrary to the basic principle that the revolution in each country must be based mainly on self-reliance, on the masses of people in each country themselves. Only then can international aid have its greatest effect.

“We have always believed,” a Chinese official stated in a 1972 interview with the Guardian, “that revolution cannot be exported ... Look at the countries of Eastern Europe which depended primarily on the Soviet Union to make revolution. They have very limited independence. Albania achieved victory by relying on its own efforts – and it is staunch and independent today. A revolution cannot succeed if the revolutionary forces do not rely on their own efforts and do not mobilize the great masses of people but place hope on aid from abroad.” (From Unite the Many, Defeat the Few, a Guardian pamphlet on China’s foreign policy.)

In addition to their opposition to the principle of self-reliance as “autarchic,” Trotskyism also attacks the Chinese call for an international united front of the world’s peoples against the “two superpowers” of U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism as a class collaborationist betrayal of the national movements in the small and medium-sized countries in the colonial world.

Support for struggles

“In our objective,” the Chinese official told the Guardian, “national struggles must not be subordinated. China has friendly and diplomatic relations with a number of countries. This should not have any effect on the revolutionary forces in those countries ... China is not against peoples’ struggles in reactionary countries or in countries where a progressive government is in power. Countries want independence, nations want liberation, people want revolution. We support this.”

  Regarding countries with which we have diplomatic relations, we support the government insofar as it is engaging in struggle against the two superpowers, not in its suppression of local struggles. We believe that in giving firm backing to governments against the domination of one or two superpowers we are helping the forces of national liberation and revolution.
 

United front

Just as in their views on the national united front in the colonial countries, the Trotskyist line on the world scale makes no distinctions in the enemy camp, between enemies in general and particular or principal enemies at various times and stages. As a result, the revolutionary forces are left more isolated from both strategic and tactical allies, however temporary and wavering they may be.

Finally, the Trotskyists blur the distinction between the revisionist countries and the socialist countries and on most questions side with the former. For instance, in 1963 the SWP denounced Albania as one of the most despicable Stalinized regimes in Europe and added that “the internal regime of communist Yugoslavia is much freer.”

United front against fascism

The Trotskyists believe they are the only authentic practitioners of the policy of the united front.

Yet in practice. they have opposed full implementation, either from rightist or “leftist” positions.

The most apparent example of this role was the Trotskyist attitude toward World War 2, in which they took a “defeatist” position towards the capitalist governments fighting the fascists, called for the “revolutionary” overthrow of the Soviet government and opposed the united front with the national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries invaded by the fascists.

The fact that the Trotskyist line led them inevitably to these positions substantiated the charge that they objectively served the interests of the fascists.

Trotsky and his followers tried to justify their line with a “left” cover, stating that they called for a revolution in Germany, the “unconditional defense” of the Soviet Union (but not its leadership) and the defeat of the capitalists everywhere through socialist revolution. They then tried to back it all up by drawing a doctrinaire analogy with World War 1, where the Leninists called for the proletariat in all capitalist countries to work for the defeat of their own bourgeoisie by “turning the imperialist war into a civil war.”

“It is really ridiculous,” wrote Georgi Dirnitrov in 1936, “when ‘left’ phrasemongers of various kinds oppose these tactics (of the united front), adopting the pose of irreconcilable revolutionaries. If we are to believe them, all governments are aggressors. They even quote Lenin, who, during the imperialist war of 1914- 1918. correctly rejected the argument of the social-chauvinists that’ we were attacked and we are defending.’ But the world at that time was divided into two military-imperialist coalitions which were equally striving to establish their world hegemony and which had equally prepared and provoked the imperialist war. At that time there were neither countries where the proletariat was in power nor countries with a fascist dictatorship.”

  But now the situation is different. Now we have: (1) a proletarian state which is the greatest bulwark of peace; (2) definite fascist aggressors; (3) a number of countries which are in direct danger of attack by fascist aggressors and in danger of losing their state and national independence; (4) other capitalist governments which are interested at the present moment in the preservation of peace. It is, therefore. completely wrong now to depict all countries as aggressors. Only people who are trying to conceal the real aggressors can distort the facts in such a manner.

A number of main contradictions came to the fore during World War 2: between bourgeois democracy and bourgeois fascism between and within the imperialist powers; between the imperialists and the colonies; among the imperialist powers; between the working class and the bourgeoisie in all capitalist countries; between the first socialist state and all the capitalist countries, and between the first socialist state and the fascist powers.

Of all these, which was the principal contradiction whose development determined or influenced the development of the rest? In the period of World War 2, it was the contradiction between the Soviet Union and the fascist powers. The principal, immediate enemy – as opposed to the enemy in general – of all the world’s peoples was the fascist powers of Germany, Italy and .Japan and their lackeys.

Strategic meaning

What did this mean for proletarian strategy? First, that Marxists-Leninists everywhere called for a united front of all working class organizations against fascism, on the basis of which would be built an even broader popular front which was in contradiction to the fascists, including even the temporary and wavering allies to be found in the camp of the bourgeois-democratic capitalist governments.

The Trotskyists opposed this line under the guise of upholding the proletarian united front while rejecting its broader extension in the popular front. They believed that the capitalist camp could not be split and that efforts to do so on the part of proletarian revolutionaries in each country and the Soviet Union internationally amounted to so much “class collaboration.”

It was true that the capitalist countries initially wavered or opposed the Soviet Union’s call for a united defense against the fascists. Many elements of the bourgeoisie wanted the fascists to attack the Soviet Union first, while they stood on the sidelines watching the two powers exhaust each other so they could pick up the pieces later.

Trotsky, himself, believed that this was the inevitable course. In 1932 he wrote, “It would be sheer political stupidity to believe that once they came to power, the German National Socialists would begin with a war against France or even against Poland.”

Hitler-Stalin Pact

The Soviet leadership completely understood that sooner or later, they would have to fight the German fascists. But precisely this question – sooner or later? – made all the difference in the world. Since the bourgeois democracies continued to stall on the question of the united front and the German fascists were in the process of making up their minds of who to attack first, the Soviet leadership waited until the last possible moment and then decided to force the issue.

The method chosen was the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, more popularly known as the Hitler-Stalin pact. Its signing sent the Trotskyists into a frenzied howl but in actuality it constituted one of the most brilliant diplomatic moves of the period.

It meant that the capitalist governments were attacked first, that the Germans would have to fight eventually on two fronts at once, that the Soviet Union would not have to fight alone and that the international popular front isolating the principal fascist enemies would become a reality. In short, it meant the defeat of fascism.

The Trotskyists, of course, saw it as only one more “betrayal” of the working class. In their view, it was the Communists who were primarily responsible for fascism’s coming to power in Germany in the first place.

In this way the Trotskyists cover up for the political force that actually paved the way to power for the fascists – the German Social-Democrats.

Refused united front

The German Social-Democrats refused at every point in the struggle to form a united front with the German Communists against the rising power of the fascists. Instead, they shared governmental power with the bourgeoisie, collaborated with them in suppressing the struggles of the working class and pursued the line of the peaceful, constitutional path to “socialism.” In both theory and practice, however, they were tools of the capitalists for maintaining the stability of bourgeois rule.

In Austria, for example, even after Hitler had conic to power in Germany, the Social-Democrats begged for an agreement with the fascists. even going so far as to volunteer cooperation with a two-year suspension of the constitution and the parliament so long as it was done “constitutionally.”

For these reasons, the Communists correctly attacked the leadership of the Social-Democratic parties as “social-fascists,” that is, “socialists in words, fascist in deeds.” (Lenin had attacked the same parties during World War I as “social-imperialists” for defending their own capitalists.) In this way, the Communists sought to expose to the masses the actual implications of following the line of the Social-Democrats.

For Trotsky, this amounted only to so much name-calling. He pointed out the obvious fact that the Social-Democrats stood to be smashed with the victory of fascism and that this constituted an objective basis for a united front.

Decisive factor

The problem. however, was that it was not obvious to the Social-Democrats who feared proletarian revolution more than the victory of Hitler. This factor proved decisive.

This is not to say that the German Communist party made no mistakes or that their errors were insignificant. One of their main weaknesses was a social-democratic or right error. This was seen in the building of their party primarily on the basis of electoral districts, rather than on factory cells. They also made a number of ultra-“left” errors, including a one-sided emphasis on the “united front from below,” rather than a more persistent effort at unity with the Social-Democratic leaders as well, even if this was turned down. They also at one point perpetrated the illusion that the Hitler government would be short-lived and that the proletarian power would quickly replace it.

The Trotskyists believe that the Communists’ errors were the decisive factor in preventing the united front from being embraced by the Social- Democratic leaders. But this is utopian. The Communists would have been able to strengthen their influence among the masses of the Social-Democrats but the leadership had objective ties to the bourgeoisie. To think otherwise is to deny the character of the labor aristocracy as the agent of the capitalists within the workers movement.

This is reflected in this country in the Socialist Workers party’s one-sided emphasis on the union leadership in the united front against the Vietnam war. While Trotskyists went all-out to get endorsements from trade union leaders for antiwar demonstrations, they (lid no organizational work among the rank-and-file for the struggle against imperialism. Despite their running debate with the revisionists on the single-issue, multi-issue question, this is where they share with the Communist party a thoroughly rightist approach to the question of the united front.

The Trotskyist movement in the 1930s went on to merge with the Social-Democrats and the Trotskyists in this country joined the Socialist party of Norman Thomas. This and other aspects of the Trotskyists’ history in the U.S. show what left phrases mean in practice.

Origins of U.S. Trotskyism

The Trotskyists have been known – both historically and in the present period – as “wreckers and splitters” of the people’s organizations and movements.

While they vociferously deny the charge, an examination of their history demonstrates that they have earned it. The Trotskyists themselves even celebrate their wrecking and splitting tactics as high points in their theoretical development.

This conclusion becomes particularly obvious in view of certain aspects of the history of the Trotskyists in the U.S.: their initial break with the Communist party and their “entry” into the Socialist party.

The Trotskyists were first organized in this country as a secret faction within the CP. They were led by James P. Cannon, active in the party’s defense work and a member of its central committee.

What was unique about this faction – and undoubtedly required its secrecy – was that it was formed after Trotskyism has been repudiated by the Communist International as a petty bourgeois trend, a variety of Menshevism. The question was discussed within the CPUSA as well. Cannon and his followers, however, never presented their views, but worked surreptitiously toward a split in violation of the basic democratic centralist norms of party organization. In his History of American Trotskyism, written in 1942, Cannon tries to justify this by pleading ignorance at the time.

“Someone may ask,” he writes, “‘why didn’t you make speeches in favor of Trotsky?’ I couldn’t do that either because I didn’t understand the program.”

This was in 1928, after he had voted in favor of resolutions against Trotskyism. Yet in the same book, Cannon states that in 1926 he had read Trotskyist documents attacking Soviet relations with British trade unions and agreed with them.

“It had a profound influence on me,” he said. “I felt that at least on this question ... the Oppositionists had the right line. At any rate. I was convinced that they were not the counter- revolutionists they were pictured to be.”

Why didn’t Cannon speak out on this point he was sure about? The answer he gives is instructive. It reveals the Trotskyist view of inner-party life, their contempt for criticism and self-criticism as a “self-denigrating” practice borrowed from the Catholic Church. It also shows why there are so many Trotskyist splinter groups today.

“A serious and responsible revolutionist,” says Cannon, “cannot disturb a party merely because he becomes dissatisfied with this, that or the other thing. He must wait until he is prepared to propose concretely a different program, or another party ... Of course, if one had no responsibility to the party, if he were a mere commentator or observer, he would merely speak his doubts and have it over with. You can’t do that in a serious political party. If you don’t know what to say, you don’t have to say anything. The best thing is to remain silent.”

But Cannon didn’t maintain his false naivete for long. As a delegate to the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928, he claims to have come across a basic document of Trotsky’s, to which he was instantly converted. Still, he kept his mouth shut.

“We didn’t begin the fight in Moscow,” writes Cannon, “although we were already thoroughly convinced ... We couldn’t have best served our political ends by doing so.”

What were those ends? “The task was to recruit a new faction in secret before the inevitable explosion came, with the certain prospect that this faction, no matter how big or small it might be, would suffer expulsion ...”

By the time of his return to the U.S., Cannon’s activities had raised suspicions within the party. When a resolution against Trotskyism was raised within a party caucus in order to determine where his group stood, Cannon brags about his group’s deceitful methods in skirting the issue:

  We objected on the ground...that the question of Trotskyism’ had been decided long ago, and that there was absolutely no point in raising this issue again. We said we refused to be a party to any of this folderol ...

  They nourished the hope – oh how they hoped! – that a smart fellow like Cannon would eventually come to his senses and not just go and start a futile fight for Trotsky at this late day. Without saying so directly, we gave them a little ground to think that this might be so ...
 

Cannon’s ruse exposed

Cannon’s ruse didn’t last long. Within a few weeks he was exposed, brought to trial under the party’s rules and expelled.

Thus began American Trotskyism. At first there were only three: Cannon, Martin Abern and Max Shachtman. Within the next months, they only gathered a few dozen people around them. Through political propaganda and organizational measures, the CP had effectively isolated them as renegades.

“A wall of ostracism separated us from the party members,” says Cannon, “We were cut off from our old associations without having new ones to go to. There was no organization we might join, where new friends and co-workers might be found ... We lived in those first days under a form of pressure which is in many respects the most terrific that can be brought to bear against a human – social ostracism from people of one’s own kind.”

Cannon’s description of his movement’s “dog days” are a back-handed tribute to the CP’s political work and hegemony within’ the movement at the time. But his account also reveals the mistakes that were made – primarily the use of violence to disrupt the tiny Trotskyist meetings – and how these turned around to help the Trotskyists build their organization.

“We came back stronger after every fight,” Cannon writes, “and this attracted sympathy and support. Many of the radical people in New York, sympathizers of the Communist party, and even some members, would come to our meetings to help protect them in the interest of free speech. They were attracted by our fight, our courage, and revolted by the methods of the Stalinists. They would then start reading our material and studying our program ... We built these little groups in various cities, and soon we had the skeleton of a national organization.”

Nonetheless the Trotskyists remained a tiny sect. At this point they called themselves the “Communist League of America (Opposition).” In their view, they were not a party and engaged in no mass work, but an unofficial faction of the Communist party. All their propaganda work – which was all they did – was aimed at the CP rank and file and aimed at dividing them from their leadership.

They had little success. The progress of socialist construction in the Soviet Union, in the midst of capitalist crisis and proletarian upsurge throughout the world, attracted millions of people to the parties of the Communist International. The struggle against right opportunism within the movement also took its toll of the “opposition.”

“By this maneuver,” states Cannon, “they dealt us a devastating blow. Those disgruntled elements in the party, who had been inclined toward us and who opposed the opportunism of the Lovestone group, became reconciled to the party. They used to say to us: You see, you were wrong. Stalin is correcting everything. He is taking a radical position all along the line in Russia, America and everywhere else.”

Then Cannon adds: “We were utterly isolated, forced in upon ourselves. Our recruitment dropped to almost nothing ... Then, as is always the case with new political movements, we began to recruit from forces none too healthy ... Freaks always looking for the most extreme expression of radicalism, misfits, windbags, chronic oppositionists who had been thrown out of half a dozen organizations-such people began to come to us in our isolation, shouting, ‘Hello Comrades.’ I was always against admitting such people,. but the tide was too strong.”

Recruit from the right

Rebuked in their efforts to recruit from the left, the Trotskyists had only one place to go – recruit from the right. The victory of fascism in Germany had exposed the treachery of the leadership of the social-democratic parties of the Second International. Splits were developing. discontent was growing among social- democratic workers and many groupings among them were looking more and more to the leadership of the Communists. This was especially true following the Seventh Congress of the Comintern. which corrected a number of “left” errors in its call for the united and popular front against fascism.

The main historical responsibility for the victory of fascism in Germany had been placed squarely on the Social-Democrats. The main trend was toward unity with the Communists. What did the Trotskyists do? Exactly the opposite. They declared the Communists responsible for fascism, denounced the Comintern as hopelessly counter-revolutionary and moved to join the parties of the Second International.

In the United States this was accomplished in two steps, through the Trotskyist tactics of “fusion” and “entryism.” The first step consisted of joining with a group of reformist trade unionists led by A.J. Muste and forming the “Workers party.” After a short time it was decided that this group was too “sectarian” in its opposition to the Socialist party, which was even further to the right.

Actually the Trotskyists were intent on dissolving the Workers party into the Socialist party and destroying both organizations in the process, hoping they would raid enough recruits to form their own party after the dust had settled.

As in their break with the CP, the Trotskyists were completely dishonest in their approach. “We had join individually,” states Cannon, “because they wanted to humiliate us, to make it appear that we were simply dissolving our party. humbly breaking with our past and starting anew as pupils of the ‘Militants,’ caucus of the SP. It was rather irritating, but we were not deflected from our course by personal feelings. We had been too long in the Lenin school for that. We were out to serve political ends.”

What ends? Cannon mentions two. One was to recruit a liberal, petty-bourgeois base to defend Trotsky in the international arena from a platform of “respectability.” The other was to oppose developments toward a united front between the CP and the SP.

“We had stirred up the rank and file of the Socialist party,” Cannon says, “against the idea of unity with the Stalinists. This blocked their games and they took it out in increased resentment against us.”

But even serving these political ends was not necessary to justify the Trotskyist tactics. Cannon comments on Trotsky’s evaluation of the action “when we were talking with him about the total result of our entry into the Socialist party and the pitiful state of its organization afterward. He said that alone would have justified the entry into the organization even if we hadn’t gained a single new member.”

The Trotskyists did gain a number of recruits, however, and doubled their size. This still did not break their isolation from the working class. Their attitude toward the trade union struggle and the Afro-American people guaranteed that, despite their ensuing formation of the Socialist Workers party.

National and class struggle

The Trotskyist movement in the U.S. today finds itself organizationally isolated from the rising trend of workers’ struggles.

At the same time it is in the position of tailing after – alternately – the trade union bureaucracy and the petty bourgeois nationalist trends in the struggles of the oppressed nationalities.

As a result, the Trotskyists can only respond negatively to What must be the strategy for proletarian revolution in the U.S. – the united front against imperialism, the fundamental alliance of which is between the multi-national working class and the oppressed nationalities.

The ideological reasons for this were present from the beginnings of the American Trotskyist movement and its rejection of Marxism-Leninism, particularly on the national question and the attitude to the trade unions.

The Trotskyists’ last major involvement in a labor struggle was also their first: the five-week union recognition struggle of the Minneapolis Teamsters in 1934. A number of members of the Communist League of America (Opposition), the predecessor to the Socialist Workers party, were also members of the Teamsters Local 574. While they did not hold any official positions of leadership in the union, the Trotskyists were heavily represented in the strike’s organizing committee and generally played the role of activist trade union militants in the day-to-day leadership of the struggle.

The problem is that they did not go beyond the role of trade unionists and in fact at one point answered red-baiting charges by denying that their militants were communists. James P. Cannon describes the outlook of his organization in Minneapolis in his History of American Trotskyism with an almost classic portrayal of tailism and bowing to the spontaneity of the masses:

“Adapt to their trend”

“Following the general trend of the workers,” he writes, “we also realized that if we were to make the best of our opportunities, we should not put unnecessary difficulties in our path. We should not waste time and energy trying to sell the workers a new scheme of organization they did not want. It was far better to adapt ourselves to their trend and also to exploit the possibilities of getting assistance from the existing official labor movement.”

It would be a mistake, however, to view the trade union work of the Trotskyists as apolitical. One of its main ingredients was anti-communism in the guise, of course, of “anti-Stalinism.” In a 1940 discussion with Trotsky on whether or not to “critically support” Communist party candidates in the elections, Cannon claims “such a line would disrupt our work” in the “broad anti-Stalinist movement.”

  We built our strength on opposition to Stalinist control of the union ... The Stalinists are the main obstacle. A policy of maneuver would be disastrous. What we gained from the Stalinists we would lose otherwise.

This policy was soon to bear its fruit. Tim Wohlforth, head of the Trotskyist Workers League, describes the period of the late 1940s in his own “left” history of the SWP, The Struggle for Marxism in the United States:

  This was the period when the “progressive” caucuses, which had fought the Stalinists during the latter part of the war essentially on sound trade union lines, were now settling down to their bureaucratic control of the unions and establishing their relations with the capitalist government and its cold war drive. Faced with this situation the SWP trade unionists were in a very difficult situation. They could not support their allies of the previous period, they were wary of seeking any relationship with the Stalinist workers who were being witch-hunted in the unions and they did not have the strength to throw up independent third trade union caucuses ...

Wohlforth points out that the SWP now began losing many of the workers it had managed to recruit, especially black workers. He apologetically describes the SWP’s inability to deal with white supremacy:

  This failure is understandable considering the short duration of the party’s direct experience in Negro work and considering that the overwhelming majority of the party came from a more privileged layer of the working class who in their daily lives had little contact with Negroes.

That the SWP “had little contact” with Afro-Americans was not surprising, since the U.S. “left opposition” ignored their existence for the first 10 years of its existence. Even Trotsky was moved to remark, in 1939: “It is very disquieting to find that until now the party has done almost nothing in this field. It has not published a book, a pamphlet, leaflets, nor even any articles in the New International.” Wohlforth even points out that in 1933 an SWP leader was unable to answer a question of Trotsky’s as to whether or not Black people in the South spoke a different language.

This can be contrasted with the work of the Communist party, which, together with the Comintern, had developed a revolutionary analysis of the Afro-American question from the perspective of viewing it as a national question. The Afro-American people in the “Black Belt” region of the South, they said, constituted an oppressed nation. Communists were duty-bound to support its struggle for national liberation. including the right to secede.

At the same time the CP saw the struggle for full democratic rights for black people throughout the country as part and parcel of the class struggle and a key component of the struggle against opportunism. As a result the CP made great gains in this area of work, as well as many worthy contributions to the struggle against national oppression in the U.S.

The Trotskyists have attacked this line as “imposed by orders from Moscow” and distorted it by claiming that the CP demanded a separate Black state (rather than the right of self- determination) without regard to the aspirations of the Black masses.

The Trotskyists were not helped out of their quandary by Trotsky. He responded to the SWP’s white blindspot by interpreting the Afro- American national question on a completely subjective basis. “We do, of course, not obligate the Negroes to become a nation,” said Trotsky in 1939, “if they are, then that is a question of their consciousness, that is, what they desire and what they strive for.”

This repudiates any scientific approach to the national question which takes into account such factors as common history, territory, economic life and culture. The Trotskyists are thus unable to distinguish an oppressed nation from an oppressed national minority, or between the progressive democratic content of nationalist struggles and the narrow reactionary views of “cultural-national autonomy.”

This has led to considerable vacillation among the various Trotskyist groups. The Worker’s League, for instance, holds the view that “all nationalism is reactionary,” while the SWP falls into the “all nationalism is revolutionary” swamp. What unites the two is tailism. The first tails after the chauvinism of the labor aristocracy while the latter tails after the nationalism of the petty bourgeoisie. Both oppose proletarian internationalism in practice. The SWP is most explicit on its tailist line on the demand for the right of self-determination. “It is not,” writes Tony Thomas in the October 1970 International Socialist Review, “up to the revolutionary party to raise that demand, but only to support it once raised by Blacks.”

The SWP is aware, of course, that there are moderate, conservative and reactionary trends among Black nationalists. In their view, however, these are not “real” or “consistent” nationalists, since “consistent” nationalism is proletarian internationalism.

“Neutral” consciousness

This is idealism and it is manifested continuously in the SWP’s outlook. On the question of trade unionism, for instance, Ernest Mandel states in the December 1970 ISR that “trade union consciousness is in and by itself socially neutral. It is neither reactionary nor revolutionary.” Mandel’s “in and by itself” stand takes him outside and “above” classes and class struggle and into the realm of pure thought. In the process he throws out the whole burden of Lenin’s What is to be Done, a work that Insisted that trade union consciousness was bourgeois and had to be struggled against, whether it played a progressive or backward role in certain circumstances.

This method extends to the SWP’s overall view of Marxism-Leninism. “Marxism,” says SWP leader Joseph Hansen, amounts to “empiricism systematically carried out.” Here Hansen views dialectical materialism as simply a quantitative and evolutionary development of pragmatism, the world outlook of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

What it actually means, however, is. that the Trotskyists have never broken with bourgeois ideology themselves, but jump back and forth between bourgeois rationalism and bourgeois empiricism. Both are forms of idealism and reflect their present-day petty bourgeois class character. One area in which this becomes most apparent is the SWP’s approach to the woman question.

The woman question

The Trotskyist stand on the woman question, like their approach to politics in general, is “left” in form and right in essence.

The views on the women’s struggle of the two major Trotskyist groupings in the U.S. – the Socialist Workers party (SWP) and the Workers League – also express the vacillating character of their movement in tailing after the spontaneity of the masses.

The two organizations appear to be fundamentally opposed on the issue. The SWP, for instance, considers itself to be “revolutionary feminist.” “If you love revolution,” goes one of their slogans, “then you’ll love feminism.”

The Workers League heads in another direction. “The feminist movement,” says one of their polemics against the SWP, “plays a reactionary role, splitting the working class and sowing the illusion that the problems of working class women could be solved apart from the fight for socialism. The movement is directed against the working class and the revolutionary party.”

In essence the two positions are the same. Both abandon the struggle for proletarian leadership of the mass democratic struggle for the emancipation of women.

The SWP bows to the spontaneity of the just struggle waged by the women of the middle classes. The Workers League, for its part, liquidates even the pretense of a Marxist-Leninist approach to the woman question and tails after the spontaneous economic struggles of the workers at the point of production.

Both are similar in another respect. Both identify the entire women’s movement with the feminist trend. The Workers League does this in the guise of dismissing the movement as “middle class reformism.” The SWP view takes this form:

“Feminism,” writes Linda Jenness in the April 27, 1973 Militant, “is where women are out fighting for things that are in their interest. Feminism is wherever women are challenging the traditional roles assigned to them.”

The Workers League, of course, has no influence in the women’s movement, except as a negative example that strengthens conservative and anti-communist trends.

The SWP, however, plays a more pernicious role. It considers itself an uncompromising champion of women’s rights and by adapting itself to feminism, has gained a following for its ideas among a section of the middle class youth.

Main blow on the family

The SWP gives a “left” cover to its views by concentrating its attack on the family as the principal institution perpetuating the oppression of women. “The feminist movement today,” states the SWP’s 1971 convention resolution entitled Towards a Mass Feminist Movement, “started out by questioning the basic structure and institutions of this society, especially the family.” Caroline Lund, writing in the October 1970 International Socialist Review adds, “The oppression of women by other institutions has been directly related to their role in the family.”

In this, she follows the lead of Trotsky. While he gave the appearance of championing the cause of Soviet women and criticised some mistaken positions of the CPSU – e.g. banning abortions at one time – he too panicked over the tasks of socialist construction, and launched a utopian attack on the family.

Lund goes on to attack the idea of struggling for equality within the family: “Women have had enough of being so-called partners! We want to be whole individuals, with our own lives and aspirations. There should be no ‘head of the family,’ neither a man nor a woman, no domination of human beings over other human beings – including children.” As for the youth, they too should abandon the struggle in that arena. “Young people,” she says, “cannot as a rule work out their own lives satisfactorily until they break from their families.”

The Marxist-Leninist movement should have no illusions about the character of the family nor romanticize its traditional role, which Engels described as one of the pillars of class society. It is not the role of the proletarian movement, however, to center its attack on the family nor to call for its abolition. The imperialists themselves are causing its erosion, as the fact that one out of three marriages now ends in divorce shows at a glance.

The point is that there is no mass alternative to the nuclear family in capitalist society or even in the first stages of socialist construction. Without the family unit, working women with children would have to abandon even the minimal protections that it affords.

This is why the workers’ movement, in the course of the struggle for socialism, aims to win jobs for women, emphasizes the daycare struggle and raises the fight for equality within the family, for husbands to share equally in the responsibilities of the home.

As to what form the family will take under fully developed communism, Engels said there could only be speculation and that it was a task for future generations to decide. In the first stages of socialism, however, he said that the working-class family would probably take a purely monogamous form for the first time, since in capitalist society monogamy was, in practice, primarily for the woman.

Perhaps an analogy can be drawn with the state. In his polemics with the anarchists, Lenin agreed that the classless society would have no state. History and class struggle, however, have determined the need for a transitional proletarian state that would only wither away with the dying out of classes and class struggle. Thus it would be incorrect to call for the abolition of any type of state or the abolition of the workers’ state just after the seizure of power.

But to the Trotskyists the fact that the monogamous nuclear family continues to exist in socialist countries like China and to develop along lines of greater equality for women is not seen as a progressive step forward. Instead it is slandered as “a reformist policy continuing the subjugation of women and reinforcing a bureaucratic caste.”

Tile Trotskyists also capitulate to the feminist trend by raising the idea of “sisterhood” and placing it above the class struggle in practice.

“The truth is,” states the SWP’s 1971 document, “that women are at the same time united by sexual oppression and divided by class society.”

It is true that there are two aspects to the oppression of women by male supremacy. The principal aspect. is a class question, the antagonistic contradiction between the masses of women and the imperialists. The secondary aspect is a non-antagonistic contradiction among the people, the contradiction between men and women.

Broad unity possible

Thus even the women of the exploiting classes – to a certain extent and in a limited way – share in the general oppression of women and as a consequence can make a contribution to the united front. But this potential unity among primarily working-class and middle-class women can develop in a progressive way only through the struggle for leadership by the proletarian women and their class outlook within the united front against imperialism, one of the spearheads of which is the mass democratic women’s movement. If left to spontaneity, the class contradiction between the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie becomes primary and the movement remains fragmented.

This is exactly what the SWP does. In place of the leading role of the proletariat, it substitutes the idealist notion of “inherent logic.” In answering the question of which will become primary, the unity or division in the women’s movement, the SWP states: “Sisterhood is powerful because of this universal female oppression, and this is the basis for the existence of an independent, nonexclusive, mass feminist movement with an anti-capitalist logic.”

Thus “sisterhood” prevails over class struggle and the role of the working women is reduced to the obvious comment that they have “the most to gain” from democratic reforms.

The SWP likes to claim that it is building the women’s movement among the masses. In addition to the fact that it is raising a petty bourgeois line; this claim is not even true by their own admission. At a time when the rising trend in the women’s movement is developing among the working women, particularly in the daycare battles being led by third world working women, the SWP focuses its attention on the women students. “Building campus women’s liberation groups,” says the SWP, “is a key task, since the campus groups are the largest and fastest growing sector of the movement.”

Reflects SWP’s base

The particular concerns of this section of women, while part of the woman question in general, are reflected in the emphasis the SWP puts forward in its line and tactics. Most women students do not have children, family responsibilities or jobs. Many are still under the thumb of parental authority or in the process of rebelling against it, and this is manifested in the SWP’s concentrated fire on the family.

But the main reflection is in the Trotskyist’s approach hi the struggle to repeal anti-abortion laws. Here the SWP has focused on the abortion question as the most important issue of the women’s movement, raised it in isolation and refused to raise other demands such as childcare and job equality together with it in united front coalitions. The result has been obvious. Now that the reform has been won, the “single-issue” coalitions have disintegrated and the Trotskyists are floundering in a quandary over what to do next.

But the SWP has had some success. Its single-issue approach made its contribution to increasing the divisions in the women’s movement. The refusal to unite the abortion struggle with the movement for daycare, for instance, has the consequence of failing to combat the prejudice among some sections of the masses that the women’s struggle is against children and aimed at destroying the family.

Reich’s idealism

At the same time that the SWP conducts a semi-anarchist attack on the family, emphasizing the neo-Freudian idealism of Wilhelm Reich, they draw back one step from the logical conclusion of demanding its abolition. Instead, in classic form, they switch over to reformism.

“The heart of the struggle for liberation,” states the SWP’s 1971 statement, “is not toward counter-institutionism, but fighting to wrest the vast resources ... away from the ruling classes.”

The difference between “wresting away resources” and expropriating the expropriators through the proletarian dictatorship is the difference between reform.and revolution, between revisionism and Marxism-Leninism.

“The inseparable connection between the social and human position of the woman, and private property in the means of production must be strongly brought out,” Lenin told Clara Zetkin in 1920. “That will draw a clear and ineradicable line of distinction between our policy and feminism. And it will also supply the basis for regarding the woman question as a part of the social question, of the workers’ problem, and so bind it firmly to the proletarian class struggle and the revolution.”

The SWP’s failure in this regard is followed by its general extension into the modern revisionist theory of “structural reform.”

Reform or revolution?

The Trotskyists in this country are relatively well known for their ultra-left opposition to the strategy of revolution by stages in the colonial countries.

To the anti-imperialist united front, aimed at forming a transitional new democratic state and led by the proletariat, they counterpose the line of immediate transition to the proletarian dictatorship.

What is less apparent, however, is that the Socialist Workers party, the largest Trotskyist group in the U.S. and representing the main trend in Trotskyism internationally, puts forward just the opposite strategy for revolution in the advanced capitalist countries.

In fact, despite their fulminations against the revisionist Communist party, they go a long way toward advocating a two-stage “anti-monopoly coalition” strategy, flirt with the idea of “peaceful transition” and scrap the theory of the proletarian dictatorship.

But there is actually a unity between the SWP’s “two lines.” In both cases they set the democratic movement and the class struggle against each other by denying the leading role of the proletariat in the united front against imperialism.

The Trotskyist position raises the question: What is the fundamental contradiction in the U.S.? “The irrepressible antagonism,” writes SWP theoretician George Novack in his book, Democracy and Revolution, “between the dominant monopolists and the strivings for equality, social justice and even for life itself among the masses of the American population holds out two opposing lines of long-range development for American politics.”

Thus it is not the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie but the contradiction between the “masses” and the “dominant monopolists” that is the determining factor in the development of the proletarian revolution.

There is no’ doubt among Marxist-Leninists that the development of the democratic struggles of the masses can serve to advance the class struggle and even in certain periods play a leading role in raising mass anti-imperialist consciousness. This is the meaning, for instance, of Mao Tsetung’s statement that the Afro-American people’s struggle has served as a “clarion call” to all the oppressed and exploited to rise up against the imperialists.

But when all is said and done, it is also the “ABC” of Marxism-Leninism that it is the development and resolution of the class struggle that determines the development and resolution of She ~r democratic struggles, including the struggle against national oppression. This is the meaning of Mao’s statement that, in the final analysis, national struggle is a matter of class struggle and the reason why Marxist-Leninists place in the forefront the struggle for leadership by the proletariat in the national liberation movements and all other democratic anti-imperialist struggles.

The position of the SWP is completely opposed to this view. Their approach is to tail opportunistically each spontaneous development in the mass democratic movements. Each constituency, in succession, is then dubbed the “vanguard” leading the proletariat to socialism, with the added provision that the “vanguard of the vanguard” in each sector is presently made up of the student youth.

Another SWP theoretician, George Breitman, makes this subordination of class struggle to democratic struggle clear in his pamphlet, How a Minority Can Change Society. “The Negro people,” he writes, “although a minority, can, with consistent leadership, lead the American working class in the revolution that will abolish capitalism.”

Breitrnan then sums up the Marxist position that oppressed nationalities cannot win full democratic rights under capitalism, thus making their struggle a revolutionary question. Then he adds: “But that is not what I am discussing here. What I am talking about now is something else – the capacity of the Negro people to lead the working-class revolution to replace capitalism.”

Breitman’s shell game

This is backed up with a sleight of hand maneuver. Breitman first says Black people are a “racial minority” that is “overwhelmingly proletarian” in composition. Next he states, “Negroes are an important section of the working class as well as a racial minority.” Then he concludes that “unless we are blind” we can see that Black people are “the most radicalized section of the working class.”

But Breitman is the one who is blind. He has distorted the elementary truth that Black workers stand at the center and play a leading role in both the national and class struggles into the false claim that all Blacks are workers, thus liquidating the national question, the class divisions among the Black people and then demagogically topping it all off with an absurd analogy with the Russian revolution, where he casts the Black people in the role of the proletariat and the masses of the white workers as the peasantry.

That the SWP does not see this line as any special attribute of the national question is evident in their course since Breitman’s statement was first put forward in January 1964. Since then they have applied the same line of reasoning to the youth movement, the women’s movement, the Chicano movement and finally to the gay liberation movement.

How does the SWP propose to lead each of these “independent forces” to power? Again, the initial line is stated by Breitman in his attitude toward forming an all-Black political party with a “transitional” reformist program. “Without Negro votes, the present two-party system will pass from the scene and be replaced by something different, out of which Negroes may be able to acquire new and more reliable allies than up to now. And all of this can be accomplished by the simple device of forming a Negro party and running independent Negro candidates.”

“Something different”?

What is the “something different” that will so miraculously replace the two-party system? The next step would be the formation of a reformist parliamentary labor party, which the SWP would try to join as dual members. The labor party and the Black party would then form an alliance with a Chicano party and possibly, although this has only been raised in SWP internal bulletins, a women’s party.

All these together, of course, would make a bid for a parliamentary majority. The SWP’s role would be to make them “consistent” in their fight for reforms by pursuing the path of “anti-capitalist structural reform” put forward by the revisionist Italian Communist party. “The fundamental goal of these reforms,” writes Ernest Mandel in his Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory, “would be to take away the levels of command in the economy from the financial groups, trusts and monopolies and place them in the hands of the nation, to create a public sector of decisive weight in credit, industry and transportation and to base all of this on workers’ control.”

Mandel calls this “stage” where the “nation” has “taken command” of the monopolies through its governmental “public sector”, a period preceding the development of “dual power” which “could” precede socialist construction.

Even his slogan of “workers control” – to which the SWP would add their version of “community control” – is a reformist fraud, paralleling on the factory floor his approach on the floor of parliament.

Workers’ control, says Mandel, “is a refusal to enter discussions with the management or the government as a whole on the division of national income, so long as the workers have not acquired the ability to reveal the way the capitalists cook the books when they talk of prices and profits. In other words, it is the opening of the books and the calculation of the real production costs and the real profit margins by the workers.”

Why the importance of the calculations? So the workers can accurately determine their productivity and thus achieve a “socially just distribution” in wages.

Despite the obvious clash with Marx’s famous statement, “Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ let us emblazon our banners with the revolutionary watchword, abolition of the wage system,’ ” Mandel goes all the way and suggests to the capitalists that his proposals would help them run their system more rationally “... From the standpoint of anti-cyclical policy, it is more intelligent to reduce profits and increase wages. This would permit the demand from wage workers and consumers to come to the relief of investment in the interest of maintaining the conjuncture at the high level.”

Marxist-Leninists have long maintained that the dividing line between revolutionaries and reformists in the proletarian movement is on the question of the proletarian dictatorship, on the necessity to smash the bourgeois state apparatus and to create a new proletarian state in its place; a state that would insure democracy for the workers and their allies and dictatorship against he exploiters for the entire period of transition between capitalism and the classless society of communism.

Not only do Mandel and his SWP co-thinkers put forward in essence a reformist anti-monopoly coalition line for the first “stage” of their revolution in the capitalist countries, they also join with the modern revisionists in liquidating the proletarian dictatorship in the second stage.

George Novack managed to write an entire book on the subject of democracy and the various forms of state in slave, feudal, bourgeois and socialist society without even once using the term or explaining its essence in other words. Novack, in fact, claims the “dividing line” between reformists and revolutionaries is on the question of democracy, “the one viewing democracy as a means of disposing of capitalism, the other as an excuse for maintaining it indefinitely.”

Novack also joins the CP in putting forward the necessity of armed struggle as a hypothetical statement. “In order to protect all such – democratic institutions, Marxists are ready to fight, arms in hand if need be, against ultra-reactionary movements.”

Finally, Novack admits that during the Civil War following the October revolution, “dictatorial enactments were directed exclusively against the class enemies of the revolution” and that these were necessary at the time. But then he adds, “It was not to be considered the permanent and normal state of affairs throughout the period of the transition to a classless society, as Stalinism and Maoism later preached.”

Here Novack joins hands with the Khrushchev revisionists in asserting that while the proletarian dictatorship might have been necessary earlier, what is now required is a “state of the whole people.

What Novack is combating, of course, is not only Stalin and Mao, but also Lenin, thus joining the revisionists and social democrats in a common counter-revolutionary swamp. It is followed through in the Trotskyist view of the party.

The vanguard party

Trotsky began his career as a disrupter of the revolutionary movement during a struggle with Lenin over the character of the proletarian vanguard party.

Today his followers have – in one form or another – continued this role of attacking Leninist parties wherever they actually exist by attempting to substitute petty bourgeois ideas on organization in their place.

In his struggle with the Mensheviks, Lenin put forward the position that the proletarian revolutionary party, in addition to being guided by the most advanced scientific theory, had to be an organization of professional revolutionaries, full-time and trained activists comprised of the best elements of the working class and the revolutionary intellectuals.

This “party of a new type” is seen as the proletariat’s “general staff” in the class struggle with the bourgeoisie. It is not a debating society but an instrument to prepare the masses for smashing the existing state power, establishing and leading the proletarian dictatorship and continuing to wage the class struggle throughout the entire transition period of socialist construction to the classless society of communism.

As a weapon of class struggle, the party requires an iron discipline, subordinating the individual to the collective, and the combination of secret and open work. Decisions and policies are developed and changed through democratic discussion, debate and the process of criticism and self-criticism. Once a majority in the party has agreed, however, any minority must set aside its opinions and act in carrying out the views of the entire party with a monolithic unity in the face of the class enemy.

The party represents the vanguard of the proletariat but not by self-proclamation. It must be thoroughly integrated with the masses, learn from them and win the role of leader, not only of the workers, but of the broad masses of various classes through its revolutionary practice in the actual course of struggle.

Trotsky’s opposition

Trotsky stood in open and hostile opposition to this view of the party almost to the eve of the October revolution in 1917. He took a centrist position, demanding that the Bolsheviks unite in the same party with the Mensheviks. The only way this could happen, of course, would be for Lenin to dissolve the type of organization he had constructed. Hence the term “liquidationist,” which Lenin applied to Trotsky with a vengeance, defining it as opportunism gone to the extreme of dissolving the proletariat’s key weapon – its organization.

Trotsky agreed with the Menshevik position on organization. He wanted a party without a strict discipline, with contending groups and factions that could be “broad” enough to contain those who proclaimed themselves members by simply stating agreement with general principles. He attacked Lenin viciously:

“Not an accident but a deep ‘omen,’ ” Trotsky wrote in 1904, “is the fact that the leader of the reactionary wing of our party, Comrade Lenin, who is defending the tactical methods of caricature Jacobinism. was psychologically forced to give such a definition of Social- Democracy which represents nothing but a theoretical attempt at destroying the class character of our party.”

This is Trotsky’s classic anti-communist summary of Lenin’s policy: “The barracks regime cannot be the regime of our party, just as the factory cannot be its example. These methods bring about a situation that the party organization will replace the party, the central committee will replace the party organization, and finally the ‘dictator’ will replace the central committee ... The committees will do all the ‘directing’ while ‘the people remain silent.’ ”

Despite the fact that Trotsky joined the Bolsheviks just before October, he never gave up the essence of these views. Although he formally stated he was wrong on the party, his view that it was his particular strategic line of “permanent revolution” that won out over Lenin’s has the clear implication that the issue was not all that important. As Michael Miller points out in the recently published pamphlet, From Trotskyism to Social-Imperialism:

  From Trotsky’s paint of view a miracle happened at this propitious moment in history. The revolution joined Trotsky. Trotsky didn’t really join the Bolsheviks. They joined him! 40,000 Bolshevik workers joined Trotsky since he had foreseen everything! ... The problem with Trotsky’s theory is that it requires no party at all ... Trotsky’s theory of October is that the Bolsheviks, having finally come around to the “correct idea,” were able to lead the revolution despite having an incorrect line for 14 years prior to the event.

After Lenin’s death Trotsky reasserted his old ideas on the party in a new form. He now paid lip service to democratic centralism, but demanded “freedom of criticism” within the party in the form of the freedom to organize factional groupings, each with its own leadership structures, platforms, programs and press. As the history of Trotsky’s “left opposition” also demonstrated, in practice he wanted factions with their own internal discipline that could be exercised against the party’s, even to the extent of carrying out actions among the masses expressly forbidden by the party and in opposition to its line.

In 1904 Trotsky had attacked Lenin for “destroying the class character of our party.” In a sense, this was true, although it was not what Trotsky had in mind. Lenin clearly aimed at defeating the petty bourgeois character of the party and it is precisely the petty bourgeois view of both the party and state as an ideal form of radical democratic parliament that Trotsky was never able to abandon.

Trotsky’s perspective comes out mast clearly in his 1935 articles, If America Should Go Communist. Despite the fact that the U.S. bourgeoisie is far more sophisticated in the practice of counter-revolution than their Russian counterparts, Trotsky thinks the revolution will be much easier here. Since the monopoly capitalists are in a minority and “everybody below this group is already economically prepared for communism,” Trotsky claims “there is no reason why these (non-monopoly) groups should oppose determined resistance.” As for the monopolists, “they will cease struggling as soon as they fail to find people to fight for them.”

The non-monopoly capitalists and petty bourgeoisie, inspired by the productivity of a planned economy after “a good long time to think things over,” could be “kept solvent until they were gradually and without compulsion sucked into the socialized business system. Without compulsion! The American soviets would not need to resort to the drastic measures which circumstances have often imposed on the Russians.”

Which drastic measures? While Trotsky admits the monopolists would find no place in U.S. soviets, he adds that “with us the soviets have been bureaucratized as a result of the political monopoly of a single party, which itself has become a bureaucracy.” In contrast, “The American soviets will be full-blooded and vigorous, without need or opportunity for such measures ... A wide struggle between interests, groups and ideas is not only conceivable – it is inevitable ... All of these will arouse controversy, vigorous electoral struggle, and passionate debate in the newspapers and at public meetings.”

In addition to asserting the need for a multiparty electoral system, another “drastic measure” to be thrown out is the proletarian control of the press. Instead, “it might be done on the basis of proportional representation for the votes in each soviet election. Thus the right of each group of citizens to use the power of the press will depend on their numerical strength.”

It is a basic principle of Marxism that different parties represent the interests of different classes and sections of classes. Commenting on this same article by Trotsky, M.J. Olgin wrote in his 1935 book, Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise:

Soviet parliaments

  If the Communist party represents the workers, then obviously the other parties must represent the rich farmers, the poor farmers, the middle bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, perhaps the intellectuals. How will these parties function? Naturally by struggle ... A soviet very much resembling a bourgeois parliament. Several parties represented in it with equal rights. Each party fighting the others. Several parties making a coalition to defeat the dangerous common rival. Why not a coalition of all the other parties against the party of the workers? This latter party, in Trotsky’s conception, should be split into a number of legalized groups and factions with their own separate platforms. The population will have its choice of parties, groups, programs. No special discipline is needed for any party; no monolithic unity for the communist party.

Olgin sums up: “How unity can be achieved under these conditions remains a secret of Trotsky’s. But then he does not worry much about unity because his slogan is, ‘Without compulsion!’ ”

In stark contrast stands Lenin’s view. “The dictatorship of the proletariat is the most stubborn, the most acute, the most merciless struggle of the pew class against the more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance has grown tenfold after it has been overthrown. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn struggle, bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, pedagogical and administrative, against the powers and traditions of the old society.”

The Trotskyist parties today continue to repudiate this line and follow the bankrupt views of their mentor. One consequence, of course, is that they themselves are riddled with factions and comprise a galaxy of competing organizations, all claiming the label, “Trotskyist.”

The direction of some, like the Socialist Workers party, has been in the direction of the modern revisionists, liquidating the leading role of the party into a “revolutionary nucleus” that aims to become a mass party playing simply a “catalytic” role in forming an anti-monopoly coalition.

Rationalist deviation

Others, like the Workers League, emphasize Trotsky’s idealist rationalism and remain ensconsed firmly in “left” sectarianism. As their leader, Tim Wohlforth, put it, “At heart what the party is is its program. It is nothing else. The apparatus, the forces, the people, the equipment, the paper, are all expressions of what? A program ... and a program is an idea. So at its heart you could say that the party is an idea.”

In essence, however, they can all justly claim to be Trotskyists. They are united in their opposition to Marxism-Leninism.

Trotsky’s opposition, his sabotage of the proletarian movement and his wrecking activities in the period of the united front against fascism, eventually cost him his life.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that the danger of Trotskyism could be eliminated in such a manner. Trotskyism is an ideological trend within the petty bourgeoisie and as such a social basis for it exists and will continue to exist as long as there are middle classes.

The struggle against Trotskyism is also bound up with the struggle against modern revisionism, the existence and development of which has added new fuel and created new conditions for a revival of Trotskyism.

The decisive condition for a successful struggle against Trotskyism – and all forms of opportunism – is to be found in the growth of the Marxist-Leninist movement itself, in the development of the proletarian vanguard party and its winning of the masses in their millions to the banner of revolution.

http://www.leftspot.com/blog/?q=trotskyism
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Trotskyism: Second Guessing Revolution

Zoltan Zigedy
August 14, 2005

The old ideological battles of the left seem insignificant today after the fall of the Soviet Union. Understandably, the nature, direction, and role of the Soviet Union played a key role in defining and animating various positions on the left from the Bolshevik revolution until the Soviet Union's demise. Bitter struggles were waged between those who saw Leon Trotsky as the principal ideologue of revolution and those who followed the thinking of V. I. Lenin. But with the urgent task of rebuilding a militant, revolutionary movement for socialism, revisiting these differences seems of little priority.

Unfortunately, the flaws of Trotskyism continue to intrude into this process, diverting many — especially those new to revolutionary struggle — away from a proper understanding of Marxist-Leninism.

A striking example of the flaws in Trotskyist thinking was presented by a recent article posted on the World Socialist Web Site by Keith Lee and Paul Mitchell entitled "Obituary: Alvaro Cunhal — leading betrayer of Portugal's 1974 revolution."[*] Even those ignorant of the Portuguese people's long struggle against the Caetano and Salazar fascist dictatorships would be surprised at the vitriol in the title's charge against Cunhal, a man who, in death, drew the homage of hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants.

Alvaro Cunhal, long a leader of the Portuguese Communist Party, led the underground movement against fascism for decades, including 11 years in prison and 12 years in exile. At the time of liberation, the other members of the PCP Central Committee counted a total of 240 years in prison and 700 years in the underground. Betrayers? The words seem embarrassing from the mouths of writers who have not known one minute of underground activity or a day under fascist rule.

And this remains a feature of Trotskyism: its leadership calculatedly occupies a position to the left of existing left and worker's movement, preferring the purity of revolutionary rhetoric to an engagement with the consciousness of actual workers and peasants. For this reason, Trotskyism has never taken root in the working class movement; there have never been Trotskyist parties or movements of more than marginal influence.

Another constant of Trotskyist thought is a voluntarism that emerges from neglecting to assess the balance of forces in political struggle. A revolution occurs, not solely because of revolutionary zeal, exceptional courage, or fidelity (the opposite of "betrayal"), but because the balance swings decisively in favor of carrying a revolution forward. One does not organize for decades, risking life and limb for a cause, to see that cause defeated in a blaze of romantic, quixotic glory. Not only is it foolishness, but it also dishonors the tens of thousands of others who have sacrificed their lives for the cause.

Portugal on April 25, 1974 was not a country on the verge of giving birth to a socialist revolution, as Lee and Mitchell would suggest. Certainly the defeats of the Portuguese military in the colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau had weakened the dictatorship. Turmoil in the military proved to be an important element that, coupled with domestic struggles, changed the balance of forces dramatically, forcing the Portuguese ruling class to jettison the naked, fascist dictatorship for a bourgeois democracy.

At the same time it would be a wild flight of fancy to believe that the PCP and other revolutionary forces had deeply planted the idea of socialism in the working masses. While such an achievement would be highly flattering to the PCP, it would also be nearly impossible given a membership of well under 10,000 operating under the watchful eyes of the Portuguese Gestapo, the PIDE.

In fact, under the leadership of the PCP and the left forces in the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), 245 firms had been nationalized, the state established over 50% ownership of another 200 firms, and another 261 firms were reshaped by state intervention by July 30, 1976. According to Paul Fauvet, author of probably the most thorough account of this period ("Four Years On: The Portuguese Revolution," Marxism Today, April 1978), 787 working-class cooperatives had been established by May of 1976 and 1,100,000 hectares of agricultural land had been seized and grouped into 450 cooperatives and Collective Production Movements. Fauvet concludes: "Portuguese monopoly capitalism had been destroyed (though by and large foreign capital had by and large been untouched)."

But reluctance to organize a socialist economy — as Lee and Mitchell bray — was not the cause of the demise of the revolution as the above figures demonstrate. Instead, the revolution was subverted by three forces: foreign intervention and influence on the process, social-democratic anti-Communism fostered by the Socialist Party (PS), and ultra-leftism in the military.

Social Democracy had no history in Portugal — the PS was founded in 1973 with a membership of 130 at the moment of the overthrow of Caetano in 1974. This "couple of streets of Lisbon lawyers" grew to a membership of 93,000 by December of 1976, thanks to foreign monies and resources including huge subsidies from the German SPD. The PS served as a magnet for forces who felt compelled to exhibit the "left" rhetoric of the revolution while practicing virulent anti-Communism. The paper, Republica, for example, appeared uncensored for 48 years during the Fascist dictatorship, yet threw its support to the PS after the overthrow of Caetano. The PS leader, Mario Soares, posed as an opponent of the dictatorship when he, in fact, openly supported a "liberalized" Caetano in 1968. The PS picked up some credibility when it absorbed the Popular Socialist Movement led by a genuine anti-fascist, though he left in disgust. The PS worked hard and long to undermine the influence of the PCP, the left in the trade union movement and the unity of the MFA.

The other factor, the military, was complicated by its origins in the middle and lower officer class. The PCP worked to expand the movement to the lower ranks and democratize the MFA. Nonetheless, the military remained a tenuous and delicate balance of right and left. The 'moderates" under Melo Antunes and the Amadora Commandos — led by the butcher of Mozambique — bolstered the right along with the paramilitary National Republican Guard. Even with this balance, the process of consolidating the revolution continued only to be disrupted by the bizarre ultra-leftism of General Otelo de Carvalho and others in the officer corps. As Fauvet explains it:

Ultra-leftism was widespread among COPCON (Continental Operations Command) officers. Indeed, this seemed to be part of a more general phenomenon whereby a radicalized stratum of lower and middle ranking officers are prone to leftist positions, often displaying intense impatience at the alleged "backwardness" of the masses, and the trying to impose their own pace on the revolutionary process? The ultra-left, quite logically given their analysis, tried to drive the split [in the military] to a definitive conclusion. In succeeding in this they paved the way for the eventual destruction of the military left and of the MFA itself.

These developments in the military are either unknown or unacknowledged by Lee and Mitchell. They blithely dismiss the MFA as "the armed might of the capitalist state" despite the fact that the military rising paved the way for the very possibility of revolutionary change. One wonders if they hold the same low opinion of the military in today's revolutionary Venezuela.

Lee and Mitchell share with us the pompous, high-sounding directive of the high court of Trotskyist theory, the International Committee of the Fourth International, which demanded that "the PCP and the PSP break with the bourgeois parties, the state machinery and MFA, and fight for the dissolution of the army and the creation of workers, peasants and soldiers soviets."

It was the "back to the barracks position" — the dissolution of the MFA — advocated by the right and Soares that marked the beginning of the end for the revolutionary process. When the military was decisively split and the left's formidable support in the Lisbon Military Region destroyed, the movement had lost the initiative.

Prior to the MFA split and the coup in the Lisbon Military Region on November 25, 1975, the government, led by the PCP, had nationalized the "banks, insurance companies, the steel industry, the main brewing concerns, the major transport companies, the giant CUF monopoly, the Setenave shipyards, and many other enterprises," and passed "the Agrarian Reform Law of July 29, 1975" (Fauvet), a time when Lee and Mitchell charge that the PCP was betraying the revolution.

Like the Paris Communards, the failed Bavarian and Hungarian Soviets, many anti-colonial rebellions, and the Chilean experiment with Popular Unity, the revolution in Portugal failed. Perhaps it was an impossible task for a small revolutionary party and a defeated, inexperienced and ideologically immature military movement to wrest power for the people in a poor country while facing a powerful Catholic Church (unmentioned by Lee and Mitchell) and the intervention of great capitalist powers (a story largely untold), but they tried. Alvaro Cunhal's place in this epic will be forever honored in spite of the contempt of his Eurocommunist "friends" and the scorn of the far-removed ultra-left.

We remind our Trotskyist friends — Lee and Mitchell — that Marx critically analyzed the tactics of the Paris Commune; he knew that there was much to learn from a failed, even flawed, attempt. But he never demeaned the participants. He insisted upon honoring their effort one and all.

We remind Lee and Mitchell that Lenin (and Trotsky) never meant for the Bolshevik Revolution to be a blueprint for the working class to be followed scrupulously and rigidly, but an inspiration to workers everywhere.

Lastly, we remind the authors that Lenin had body guards (though perhaps too few) and a chauffeur, too. To pillory Cunhal for having them, as they do in their article, is just plain silly.

_________________
* In general, I find many articles posted daily to be informed and useful, though the constant theological blaming of every setback, every failed tactic, every disappointment upon "Stalinism" to be immature and painfully annoying.
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2007-12-18 00:42 | 1 楼
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An Historical Outline by Tim Logan (CPGB-ML) to the Stalin Society (UK)

November 2005

In the modern world a hard and keen struggle has been waged between different political trends and theories, many of which in one way or another reflect the fact that since capitalism first established itself the political consciousness of the masses has changed. Trotskyism has a special place among the political phenomena of social life today. The Trotskyites seek to divert from a correct path those members of non-proletarian sections, in particular students and intellectuals, who become increasingly involved in the political struggle and who could and should join hands with the working class, unite with scientific socialism, and follow the example set forth by the great teachers Lenin-Stalin, and the USSR. Trotskyism as an ideological and political trend was resolutely rejected by the communist and working-class movement in the late 1920s and early 1930s thanks to the efforts of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and fraternal Marxist-Leninist parties which exposed the pseudo-revolutionary and defeatist essence of Trotskyism. As a result, Trotskyist organisations disintegrated and degenerated into sectarian groupings interminably wrangling among themselves.

Recent years have witnessed a revival of Trotskyism, this revival has occurred in tandem with the collapse of revisionism in the USSR and has been aided by the capitalists in the imperialist countries, and in particular by the growth in these nations of a labour aristocracy funded by imperialist super-profits. The Trotskyist organisations have become active in a number of imperialist countries in Europe, and the United States, and the flow of Trotskyist publications has increased. The Trotskyists have begun the loud and strident propagation of their views. Now that contradictions and cataclysms in capitalist society have become extremely acute the monopoly capitalists are seeking to prevent the growth of the working people’s political activity and to channel their revolutionary energy in the wrong direction. Various pseudo-revolutionary ideas, including Trotskyism, are being eagerly used for these purposes. It is no accident that the numerous writings of Trotsky and present-day Trotskyists are widely circulated by bourgeois and liberal newspapers, magazines and publishers. The Trotskyists, reflecting to some extent the views of certain groups of students, intellectuals and lower paid employees, try to foist distorted political concepts on them and to incite them to acts of political adventurism. They harp incessantly on about “untapped possibilities” which could allegedly speed the revolution. They put forward strident “revolutionary” slogans that often contradict one another! They do not care whether the conditions for revolution exist or not. This is ‘Leftist’ opportunism, which has always been one of the most dangerous enemies of the revolutionary movement. ‘Leftist’ opportunism is a typical offshoot of petty-bourgeois revolutionarism. ‘Leftist’ and Rightist opportunism are two sides of the same coin. Right-wing opportunists weaken the revolutionary movement because they renounce struggle against the imperialist bourgeoisie for the sake of coming to terms with it. The ‘Left-wingers’ loudly denounce collaboration with the bourgeoisie but in fact weaken the militant movement by involving some of its groups in ruinous adventures. Right wing and ‘Leftist’ opportunism have the same ideological basis - lack of trust in the revolutionary strength of the working class and its political vanguard, in particular the truly Marxist-Leninist Parties which are today re-forging themselves. In their propaganda today’s Trotskyist’s every now and then resort to political demagoguery. Like Trotsky, they seek to replace Leninism by Trotskyism while using phrases about “Loyalty to Lenin” as a cover. They describe Trotsky as Lenin’s comrade-in-arms and a loyal and even the only continuer of his cause.

What does this gross deception count on? - Evidently, on the fact that many participants in the working-class and national liberation movement, especially young people, know little about the origin of Trotskyism, the historical experience of the ideological and political struggle against it and the basic political and theoretical arguments which were put forward by Lenin and the Communist Party in the course of this struggle.

This presentation will include some of Lenin’s articles, letters and speeches which reconstruct the irreconcilable struggle against Trotskyism and expose the essence of Trotsky’s anti-Marxist concepts.

The initial period in Lenin’s struggle against Trotsky’s ideological position began at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democrat Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1903. There were two points of view that clashed during the discussion of its programme and rules: the revolutionary one and the opportunist one. Trotsky found himself among the opportunists. He opposed Lenin’s revolutionary line on the questions of the programme and organisational questions. The Draft Programme of the Party contained an important Marxist proposition on the dictatorship of the proletariat, the political power of the working class. Trotsky did not object to this proposition in words but in fact opposed it. He expressed a view that coincided with the views of West European and Russian opportunists. In his opinion, the dictatorship of the proletariat was only possible if the proletariat constituted the majority of the nation. In Russia this meant that the solution of the problem would be put off indefinitely. It is well known that the victory of the 1917 October Revolution fully refuted this thesis. The USSR managed to not only survive in isolation, to build up a mighty Socialist economy, to overthrow Fascism, but it also held out and grew powerful enough to help spread the revolution and bring into being after the Second World War, a Socialist Camp that constituted a third of the worlds population! What a dismal failure the dictatorship of the proletariat was! What a dismal failure socialism in one country turned out to be! Trotsky’s opportunistic position was manifested clearly at the Second Congress on the question of the organisational structure of the Party. Lenin believed that a party member must belong to a Party organisation, work under its guidance, obey its decisions and observe party discipline. Only in such a case would the party as a whole become the organised detachment of the working class and its political leader. Unlike Lenin, Martov and Trotsky who backed Martov’s wording of the first paragraph of the rules believed that any striker who was not a member of a party organisation and who, consequently, did not obey party discipline could be a party member. At the Second Congress the Party split into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.

In January 1905, a revolution broke out in Russia. The Mensheviks and Trotsky evaluated the revolution and its motive forces differently. The Mensheviks believed that the revolution in Russia, like the previous bourgeois revolutions in Western Europe, had to be led by the bourgeoisie that had to take political power in the event of victory; the proletariat should not oppose its class goals in this revolution to those of the bourgeoisie and its only task was to fully support the bourgeoisie. In this period Trotsky went to the other extreme and came out with an absurd ‘leftist’ theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’, which he had borrowed from Parvus. This theory completely ignored the objective conditions of the revolution-taking place in Russia. Trotsky believed that the working class could take power alone without allies. He put forward the slogan: “A workers’ government without the tsar”. That slogan meant the isolation of the proletariat from the many millions of peasants who were a powerful revolutionary force because they were vitally interested in eliminating the remnants of old pre-capitalist relations in the countryside. Thus Trotsky rejected the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. In fact Trotsky opposed the theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’ to Lenin’s analysis of the character and motive forces of the 1905-1907 revolution.

This revolution was defeated. Years of brutal reaction began. Tsarism struck its main blow at the party of the working class. The conditions under which it had to work radically changed. It was necessary skilfully to combine both illegal and legal forms of party work to promote the strengthening of the party’s ties with the masses.

The Bolsheviks were accomplishing these tasks while fighting against Right wing and ‘Left-wing’ opportunists. The Menshevik liquidators, frightened by reactionary forces, demanded the dissolution of the revolutionary proletarian party and its replacement by a legal reformist party. The ‘Left-wing’ of opportunists - the Otzovists - sought to recall the representatives of the working class from the Duma and other legal organisations. What was Trotsky’s position in this critical situation? Trotsky, who then supported the Centrists, claimed that he was “above factions”. This was not so, however. Trotsky insisted that there was no difference in principle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and that the struggle between them was one between two groups of the intelligentsia for influence over “the politically immature proletariat”. Lenin wrote in his “Announcement of the publication of Rabochaya Gazette”,

“A worker who does not want to be spoken to in childish tones cannot fail to understand that liquidationism and otzovism are just as much non-accidental, deep-rooted trends as Bolshevism and Menshevism. Only inventors of fairy-tales "for workers" explain the difference between these two last factions as due to disputes between "intellectuals". In reality these two trends, which have left their mark on the whole history of the Russian revolution, on all the first years (in many respects the most important years) of the mass workers' movement in Russia, were produced by the very process of the economic and political reconstruction of Russia from a feudal into a bourgeois country, were produced by the influences exerted on the proletariat by various bourgeois classes, or more correctly, were produced by the situation of various strata of the bourgeoisie within which the proletariat acted. It follows that Social-Democratic unity in Russia is not possible through the destruction of one of the two trends which took shape in the period of the most open, most extensive, mass, free and historically important actions of the working class during the revolution. But it follows also that the foundations for a real rapprochement between the two factions are not to be found in well-meaning phrases about unity, about the abolition of factions, etc., but only in the internal development of the factions.”

This is in brief how the argument unfolded. Trotsky took his group and then actively set about to split the Party in two. Lenin charts this development with references to Trotsky’s manoeuvres with a letter to the ‘Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the RSDLP’. The following is a very brief excerpt and exposition by Lenin on Trotsky’s actions and the possibility of a split.

“On the 26th November 1910, Trotsky carried through a resolution in the so-called Vienna Party Club (a circle of Trotskyists, exiles who were pawns in the hands of Trotsky) that he published as a separate leaflet. I append this leaflet. Open war is declared on Rabochaya Gazeta…the arguments are not new. The statement that there are not now no “essential grounds” for a struggle against the Golos and Vperod groups is the height of absurdity and hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Golos and Vperod People had no intention of dispersing their factions and that the former in reality support the liquidators, Potresov and Co., that the Vperod group organised the factional school abroad. Where they teach Machism, where they teach that otzovism is a ‘legal shade of opinion’ etc. Trotsky’s call for ‘friendly’ collaboration by the Party with the Golo’s and Vperod groups is disgusting hypocrisy and phrase-mongering. Everybody knows that for the whole year since the plenary meeting the Golos and Vperod groups have worked in a ‘friendly’ manner against the Party (and were secretly supported by Trotsky). Actually, it is only the Bolsheviks and Plekanov’s group who have for a whole year carried out friendly party work in the central organ, Rabochaya Gazeta, and at Copenhagen, as well as in the Russian legal press. Trotsky’s attacks on the Bolsheviks and Plekanov’s group are not new; what is new is their outcome of the resolution: the Vienna Club has organised a general Party fund for the purpose of “preparing and convening a conference of the RSDLP”. This indeed is new. It is a direct step towards a split. It is a clear violation of party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief. Trotsky’s action, his ‘fund’, is supported only by the Golo’s and Vperod groups. There can be no question of participation by the Bolsheviks and Plekanovs group.

It is clear that this undertaking violates party legality, since not a word is said about the central committee, which alone can call the conference. In addition, Trotsky, having ousted the central committee representative on Pravda in August 1910, himself lost all trace of legality, converting Pravda from an organ supported by the central committee into a purely factional organ. The liquidators in Russia sabotaged the work of the Russian Central Committee. The liquidators abroad wanted to prevent a plenary meeting abroad-in other words, sabotage anything like a central committee. Taking advantage of this breach in Party legality, Trotsky seeks an organisational split, creating ‘his own’ fund for ‘his own’ conference. You will understand why I call Trotsky’s move an adventure; it is an adventure in every respect.

Trotsky unites all to whom an ideological decay is dear, all who are not concerned with a defence of Marxism; all Philistines who do not understand the reasons for the struggle and who do not wish to learn, think, and discover the ideological roots of the divergence of views. At this time of confusion, disintegration, and wavering it is easy for Trotsky to become the ‘hero of the hour’ and gather all the shabby elements around himself. The open this attempt is made the more spectacular will be his defeat. A conference held with Trotsky’s funds is a split; let the initiative remain with Trotsky. Let his be the responsibility. Three slogans bring out the essence of the present situation within the Party,

1. Strengthen and support the unification and rallying of Plekanovs supporters and the Bolsheviks for the defence of Marxism, for a rebuff to ideological confusion, and for the battle against liquidationism and otzovism.

2. Struggle for a plenary meeting-for a legal solution to the party crisis.

3. Struggle against the splitting tactics and the unprincipled adventurism of Trotsky”

The above statement demonstrates quite clearly the Bolsheviks led by Lenin resolutely rejected unification with the opportunists and that Trotsky was seeking to unite his opportunists in a new organisation with his factional and splitting activities. Trotsky was on a course of self-destruction and at a plenary meeting of the CC he declared his loyalty to the Party and how resolutely he had fought against liquidationism! Lenin had had enough when he wrote his piece entitled “Judas Trotsky’s blush of shame”, I reproduce it now.

“At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism and otzovism. He vowed and swore that he was true to the Party. He was given a subsidy.

After the Meeting the Central Committee grew weaker, the Vperyod (Trotsky’s gang) group grew stronger and acquired funds. The liquidators strengthened their position and in Nasha Zarya [26] spat in the face of the illegal Party, before Stolypin's very eyes.

Judas expelled the representative of the Central Committee from Pravda and began to write liquidationist articles in Vorwärts.[27] In defiance of the direct decision of the School Commission[28] appointed by the Plenary Meeting to the effect that no Party lecturer may go to the Vperyod factional school, Judas Trotsky did go and discussed a plan for a conference with the Vperyod group. This plan has now been published by the Vperyod group in a leaflet.

And it is this Judas who beats his breast and loudly professes his loyalty to the Party, claiming that he did not grovel before the Vperyod group and the liquidators.

Such is Judas Trotsky's blush of shame.”

It is not important in this meeting for us to chart the meagre rise and dismal failure of Trotsky’s attempt at forming a new organisation. The ‘August Bloc’ which he created for this very job crumbled unceremoniously and Lenin in a number of his articles (‘The Historical Meaning of the Inner Party Struggle in Russia, ‘Trotsky’s Diplomacy and a Certain Party Platform’, The Break-up of the August Bloc’) lays bare the class essence of the inner-party struggle and the failures of Trotsky’s group. Now to move on to a new period, with new treachery and wrecking by the Trotskyists, even in their finest hour.

The Period of the First Imperialist World War.

During the First Imperialist World War (1914-1918) the Russian Bolsheviks and the consistent revolutionary internationalists in European countries faced a new opportunist trend in the international working-class movement - social chauvinism - which formed a bloc with the Left-Wing’ sectarians and the centrists. In those years, not going beyond Menshevism, Trotsky advocated Centrism and Kautskyism. It was at the height of the World War that Lenin wrote his fundamental work ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’ in which he analysed the economic and political foundations of the system that caused unjust predatory wars and gave a scientific explanation of the laws of the world revolutionary process. The main conclusion of the book was that at the beginning of the 20th century capitalism had reached a stage when features of the period of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had emerged. It was during the War that Lenin sharply criticised Trotsky’s view of the prospects of the forthcoming socialist revolution in Russia and its motive forces. He showed that under the guises of “revolutionary phraseology” Trotsky had actually espoused Kautsky’s theory of “ultra-imperialism” which denied the fundamental contradictions of imperialism and essentially confirmed the inviolability of that system. This ‘theory’ concluded that the imperialist countries would eventually sit around a table and over a cup of tea peacefully share out amongst themselves whatever little was left of the world and then plan economic development in monopolist unity!

By 1917, by the very logic of the course of mounting revolutionary events in Russia, Trotsky and his followers found themselves politically isolated. Lenin noted that they did not have and do not have any basis in the working class.

The October Revolution and building Socialism.

Immediately after the February bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917, Trotsky came to Petrograd and joined the ‘Inter-District organisation of the United Social Democrats’. In August 1917, the Mezhraiontsy declared that they had no differences with the Bolsheviks and joined the RSDLP (Bolsheviks). This merger took place at the 6th Congress of the Bolsheviks, convened in secrecy and directed by Stalin in Lenin’s absence. But, as later events showed, for Trotsky joining the Bolshevik Party was yet another act of political hypocrisy. Pseudo-revolutionaries usually hide the un-tenability of their ideology behind ‘Leftist’ and ‘ultra-revolutionary’ phrases. This was typical of Trotsky’s position too.

At the crucial moment of the October Revolution, i.e., when preparations for an armed uprising were under way, Trotsky proposed that it should not begin before the convocation of the Second Congress of Soviets. Trotsky in later years talked about the ‘legality’ of the Congress of Soviets that took place on October 25th. When he does this he does it not to strengthen the legality of the Soviets, but to undermine Leninism, to undermine the dictatorship of the proletariat, not to uphold any universal principles of legality and working class power. To “wait for the Congress of Soviets would be utter idiocy”, Lenin wrote in his article ‘The Crisis has Matured’, for it would mean losing weeks, at a time when even days decided everything. On precisely this issue Stalin summed up Trotsky’s position and that of Lenin.

“Trotsky is absolutely wrong in asserting that Lenin underrated Soviet legality, that Lenin failed to appreciate the great importance of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets taking power on October 25, and that this was the reason why he insisted that power be taken before October 25. That is not true. Lenin proposed that power be taken before October 25 for two reasons. Firstly, because the counter-revolutionaries might have surrendered Petrograd at any moment, which would have drained the blood of the developing uprising, and so every day was precious. Secondly, because the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the day of the uprising (October 25) could not be rectified in any other way than by actually launching the uprising before the legal date set for it. The fact of the matter is that Lenin regarded insurrection as an art, and he could not help knowing that the enemy, informed about the date of the uprising (owing to the carelessness of the Petrograd Soviet) would certainly try to prepare for that day. Consequently, it was necessary to forestall the enemy, i.e., without fail to launch the uprising before the legal date. This is the chief explanation for the passion with which Lenin in his letters scourged those who made a fetish of the date -- October 25. Events showed that Lenin was absolutely right. It is well known that the uprising was launched prior to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet. That is why Trotsky's lengthy arguments about the importance of Soviet legality are quite beside the point.”

Even after the victory of the October Revolution and the consolidation of the power of the workers and peasants, Trotsky found it necessary to create myths and reinvent history. Stalin dealt with these lies in his work Trotskyism or Leninism and it is worth quoting the following section by Stalin where he deals with new Trotskyism, i.e. the development of so-called Trotskyist thought in the early 1920’s. This development is a basic charting of the contortionist Trotsky and the theoretical convulsions Trotskyism suffered as it found itself ideologically bankrupt in the face of the proletarian victory.

“What are the characteristic features of the new Trotskyism?

1) On the question of "permanent" revolution. The new Trotskyism does not deem it necessary openly to uphold the theory of "permanent" revolution. It "simply" asserts that the October Revolution fully confirmed the idea of "permanent" revolution. From this it draws the following conclusion: the important and acceptable part of Leninism is the part that came after the war, in the period of the October Revolution; on the other hand, the part of Leninism that existed before the war, before the October Revolution, is wrong and unacceptable. Hence, the Trotskyites' theory of the division of Leninism into two parts: pre-war Leninism, the "old," "useless" Leninism with its idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and the new, post-war, October Leninism, which they count on adapting to the requirements of Trotskyism. Trotskyism needs this theory of the division of Leninism as a first, more or less "acceptable" step that is necessary to facilitate further steps in its struggle against Leninism.

But Leninism is not an eclectic theory stuck together out of diverse elements and capable of being cut into parts. Leninism is an integral theory, which arose in 1903, has passed the test of three revolutions, and is now being carried forward as the battle-flag of the world proletariat.

"Bolshevism," Lenin said, "as a trend of political thought and as a political party, has existed since 1903. Only the history of Bolshevism during the whole period of its existence can satisfactorily explain why it was able to build up and to maintain under most difficult conditions the iron discipline needed for the victory of the proletariat" (see Vol. XXV, p. 174).[1]

Bolshevism and Leninism are one. They are two names for one and the same thing. Hence, the theory of the division of Leninism into two parts is a theory intended to destroy Leninism, to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism.

Needless to say, the Party cannot reconcile itself to this grotesque theory.

2) On the question of the Party principle. The old Trotskyism tried to undermine the Bolshevik Party principle by means of the theory (and practice) of unity with the Mensheviks. But that theory has suffered such disgrace that nobody now even wants to mention it. To undermine the Party principle, present-day Trotskyism has invented the new, less odious and almost "democratic" theory of contrasting the old cadres to the younger Party members. According to Trotskyism, our Party has not a single and integral history. Trotskyism divides the history of our Party into two parts of unequal importance: pre-October and post-October. The pre-October part of the history of our Party is, properly speaking, not history, but "pre-history," the unimportant or, at all events, not very important preparatory period of our Party. The post-October part of the history of our Party, however, is real, genuine history. In the former, there are the "old," "pre- historic," unimportant cadres of our Party. In the latter there is the new, real, "historic" Party. It scarcely needs proof that this singular scheme of the history of the Party is a scheme to disrupt the unity between the old and the new cadres of our Party, a scheme to destroy the Bolshevik Party principle.

Needless to say, the Party cannot reconcile itself to this grotesque scheme.

3) On the question of the leaders of Bolshevism. The old Trotskyism tried to discredit Lenin more or less openly, with out fearing the consequences. The new Trotskyism is more cautious. It tries to achieve the purpose of the old Trotskyism by pretending to praise, to exalt Lenin. I think it is worthwhile quoting a few examples.

The Party knows that Lenin was a relentless revolutionary; but it knows also that he was cautious, that he disliked reckless people and often, with a firm hand, restrained those who were infatuated with terrorism, including Trotsky himself. Trotsky touches on this subject in his book On Lenin, but from his portrayal of Lenin one might think that all Lenin did was "at every opportunity to din into people's minds the idea that terrorism was inevitable." The impression is created that Lenin was the most bloodthirsty of all the bloodthirsty Bolsheviks.

For what purpose did Trotsky need this uncalled-for and totally unjustified exaggeration?

The Party knows that Lenin was an exemplary Party man, who did not like to settle questions alone, without the leading collective body, on the spur of the moment, without careful investigation and verification. Trotsky touches upon this aspect, too, in his book. But the portrait he paints is not that of Lenin, but of a sort of Chinese mandarin, who settles important questions in the quiet of his study, by intuition…. The Party knows that Lenin was the greatest Marxist of our times, a profound theoretician and a most experienced revolutionary, to whom any trace of Blanquism was alien. Trotsky touches upon this aspect, too, in his book. But the portrait he paints is not that of the giant Lenin, but of a dwarf like Blanquist who, in the October days, advises the Party "to take power by its own hand, independently of and behind the back of the Soviet." I have already said, however, that there is not a scrap of truth in this description. Why did Trotsky need this flagrant . . . inaccuracy? Is this not an attempt to discredit Lenin "just a little"?

Such are the characteristic features of the new Trotskyism.

What is the danger of this new Trotskyism? It is that Trotskyism, owing to its entire inner content, stands every chance of becoming the centre and rallying point of the non-proletarian elements who are striving to weaken, to disintegrate the proletarian dictatorship.

You will ask: what is to be done now? What are the Party's immediate tasks in connection with Trotsky's new literary pronouncements?

Trotskyism is taking action now in order to discredit Bolshevism and to undermine its foundations. It is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend.

There is talk about repressive measures against the opposition and about the possibility of a split. That is nonsense, comrades. Our Party is strong and mighty. It will not allow any splits. As regards repressive measures, I am emphatically opposed to them. What we need now is not repressive measures, but an extensive ideological struggle against renascent Trotskyism.”

This struggle was fought and won by Stalin and the Bolsheviks and Russia embarked upon the building of the world’s first socialist state whose ultimate goal was the complete transformation of the political and economic life of the country on entirely new principles. Throughout the early phase of proletarian dictatorship Trotsky was tolerated despite the fact that he continued on his own selfish course in the face of the wishes of the masses. He claimed that the future of the Soviet Republic was wholly dependent on the victory of revolution in Europe. Categorically denying that socialism could be victorious in one country, he said: “It is only a European revolution that can save us in the full sense of the word”. Such was Trotsky’s faith in the Revolution, faith in the Russian workers and peasants, faith in the possibilities opened up by the abolition of exploitation of one man by another.

He conducted Peace Talks with Germany in Brest-Litovsk this is well documented. Soviet Russia was going through a difficult time. The World War was still continuing and a very urgent task was to stop it. The newly born state of workers and peasants vitally needed a respite from the war. In view of the situation the Soviet Republic found itself in, Lenin favoured the signing of a Peace Treaty. Lenin’s strategy and tactics on this question encountered fierce resistance from Trotsky. Trotsky, heading the Soviet delegation at the Peace Talks, ignored Lenin’s specific instructions and in reply to the German ultimatum of 27 January 1918 (9 February - new style), declared “neither war nor peace”, which meant: We are not going to sign the Peace Treaty; we are no longer waging war and we are going to demobilised the army. At the same time he sent a telegram to the Commander-in-Chief demanding that he order demobilisation of the army.

When Lenin learned about this he gave instructions to cancel Trotsky’s unauthorised directions. Stressing the direct relationship between the anti-imperialist struggle of the proletariat in other countries and the revolutionary transformations in Russia, in direct contrast to Trotsky’s prognostications, Lenin set the working people of Russia as their main task that of preserving the Soviet Republic as the bulwark of the world liberation movement. He considered that the downfall of Soviet Power would be a mortal blow to the cause of socialism in the whole world.

During the Brest-Litovsk Peace Talks, the party also had to resist fierce pressure from ‘Left communists’ whom Lenin dubbed “heroes of the Leftist phrase”. They called for the immediate launching of a revolutionary war against German and world imperialism. The ‘Left’ phrasemongers accused the Party of opportunism and of betraying the interest of the Russian and world proletariat. Trotsky justified the activity of the ‘Left communists’ and sided with them. He claimed that the rejection of peace with Germany would make it possible “to exert a revolutionising influence on the German proletariat”. The Trotskyists tried to strengthen their position by referring to the rising tide of revolution in Western Europe. They even predicted the exact dates when imperialism would collapse and revolution would begin in other countries. All these statements were based on the anti-Marxist idea of the possibility of “giving a push” to world revolution by war and hastening the downfall of the imperialist system. Lenin resolutely opposed the adventuristic slogan of a revolutionary war and proved its un-tenability in the specific situation of 1918… It was yet another manifestation of the Trotskyist and other ‘Left’ phrasemongers ignoring reality. The Brest Treaty was signed in March 1918.

Despite resistance from the Trotskyists there came a breathing space of peace that made it possible to strengthen Soviet rule and start forming its own armed forces - the Red Army, capable of defending the gains of the revolution. But this respite was ended by the start of foreign military intervention and the Civil War (1918 -1920).

It was only in the early 1920s that the country was finally able to start peaceful construction. However more problems arose and Trotsky was largely to blame for the sharpening of the inner-party struggle. At that time he put forward the idea of putting the trade unions under state control, proposing that they be merged with economic management bodies. Trotsky insisted on introducing emergency, in fact military, methods of administration. Lenin took account of the sum of the problems facing the party and the state. He showed that for the party the question of the trade union was a part of the general question of the role of the working masses in socialist construction. In giving leadership to the masses the party used methods of persuasion and education and these methods should be applied also in the work of the trade unions. Lenin explained that the trade unions educated and organised the working class, they were a school for the masses where they acquired the necessary experience in management and administration. Through the trade unions, workers were drawn into active socialist construction and exercised control over the activities of the managers of economic bodies. The Trade Unions were a mass-organisation of the proletariat and had an instrumental role in the practical carrying-out of the dictatorship, this was their special role and they couldn’t possibly be merged! After the overwhelming majority of the party members had rejected the erroneous line of Trotsky and other oppositionists, the Tenth Party Congress upheld and endorsed Lenin’s course. In his speech at the Congress Lenin warned of the danger of factionalism in the Party. He submitted a draft resolution he had written - on Party Unity - which was approved by the Congress.

In 1929, Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union. He was expelled because he had consistently ignored the calls for Party unity, he had undermined the decisions of the workers and peasants organisations and consistently presented anti-Bolshevik and anti-Leninist propositions. Later it emerged that he was involved in all manner of wrecking and sabotage. The struggle waged by Lenin and the Leninist Party against Trotskyism teaches all genuine revolutionaries how to discern what lies behind loud pseudo-revolutionary phrases. This struggle shows that only creative Marxism-Leninism can serve as a guide to action for the revolutionary forces. Any attempt openly or secretly to revise Marxism-Leninism or to distort it in a dogmatic way, any reluctance to reckon with objective reality, which calls for adjustments to revolutionary theory, inevitably lead to a departure form the revolution and betrayal of the revolutionary cause.
  
  
  

 
 
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Proletarian issue 14 (October 2006)
Cuban socialism standing firm

The masses of the world send greetings to Fidel, even as the US is hatching overoptimistic plans finally to topple socialist Cuba.

Fidel’s health

On 31 July, Fidel Castro – First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, President of Cuba and respected leader of the Cuban revolution for half a century – temporarily distributed his many state responsibilities among several leading Cuban comrades, including his brother and long-time comrade Raúl. This followed his withdrawal from public life due to an acute intestinal crisis requiring urgent medical attention.

Since that time, in spite of the most earnest prayers of the likes of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Fidel’s health appears to have improved considerably. On 14 August, he was seen on television sitting up and joking with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and on 6 September, he released a statement saying that the worst was over, although a prolonged recovery period was expected (“don't expect me to be walking around in my fatigues any time soon”).

We wish Comrade Fidel a speedy recovery – he is unquestionably a great asset to the worldwide struggle for socialism.

Washington hawks cannot contain their excitement

Within a few days of Castro’s announcement that he was temporarily handing over his responsibilities, the relentlessly idiotic US president, George W Bush, was kind enough to “[pledge] Washington's support for Cubans who sought to ‘build a transitional government in Cuba committed to democracy’". (Cited in ‘Bush calls for democracy in Cuba’, BBC News Online, 4 August 2006)

Poor old George has still not caught on to the unfortunate irony of a notorious vote-rigging, gerrymandering election thief such as himself lecturing others on ‘democracy’. However, as is so often the case with the leaders of imperialist countries, substitute the word ‘capital’ for the word ‘democracy’ and you gain a much clearer insight into his (and his big business bosses’) thinking.

Condoleezza Rice, in a radio broadcast transmitted to Cuba, addressed Cubans in the following terms: "The United States respects your aspirations as sovereign citizens and we will stand with you to secure your rights – to speak as you choose, to think as you please, to worship as you wish, and to choose your leaders freely and fairly in democratic elections." (Cited in ‘Rice broadcast dismissed by Cuba’, BBC News Online, 5 August 2006)

Speaking on NBC, Rice elaborated as follows: “This is a transition period for the Cuban people. We are going to stand with them for the proposition that there should not simply be the end of one dictatorship and the imposition of another dictatorship … What the United States has been giving is a message to the Cuban people that change is clearly underway.”

Indeed, over the past two years, the US government – presumably with an eye to Fidel’s long wished-for departure from this earth – has been concocting plans for ‘hastening the transition to democratic rule’.

The criminal and immoral trade embargo has been stepped up, and a new body, the Commission for Assistance to Free Cuba, has been given the responsibility of devising a detailed plan for “securing the rights of the Cuban people”, ie, securing their right to be mercilessly ground down and exploited by US multinationals; securing their right to be violently repressed by some or other modern-day Batista; securing their freedom from literacy and culture, and from top-notch education and healthcare systems. Such are the rights and freedoms that are dear to the imperialist ruling class.

The report prepared by the commission specifically recommends the establishment of free trade agreements with the US, agrarian reform, urban reform and a complete reorganisation of the economy and the health and education systems. Essentially: goodbye socialism, hello neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism.

In July, an $80m spend was approved for the purpose of building opposition forces in Cuba and preparing aid for any ‘transitional government’. (See ‘Pushing for a Cuba beyond communism’, BBC News Online, 4 August 2006)

Cubans will not give up socialism

It is clear that the US is extremely keen to see ‘regime change’ in Cuba. However, it is equally clear that the US is caught in a quagmire in the Middle East into which it is throwing endless money and resources in a desperate attempt to get its grubby mitts on Iraq’s oil and establish a ‘lasting peace’, or, more accurately, a set of state powers entirely sympathetic to the needs of Uncle Sam. That being the case, the US is ill-equipped to launch the type of offensive against Cuba that it would like.

Still, Cubans know better than to be complacent. Raúl has confirmed that Cuban security has been stepped up in the light of the threat of US intervention. "Every step has been taken to prevent any attempt at aggression," he said in the interview published on 30 August in Granma, the Cuban state daily newspaper. "We could not rule out the danger that someone in the US government would become crazy, or even crazier … I decided to substantially raise our combative capacity and readiness via the implementation of the projected measures, including the mobilisation of several tens of thousands of reservists and militia members.”

There is no doubt that Raúl is in a strong position to lead his country against any possible intervention. As Richard Gott remarked: “As minister of defence, Raúl created and looked after the interests of the Cuban armed forces for 50 years. He is known by every conscripted Cuban who has served in the armed forces, and that means most of the nation.

“The Cuban army is the linchpin of the country, the most solid state institution and the one that enjoys the greatest popularity. It is also a powerful economic enterprise, operating many of the country's largest industries, commercial undertakings and banks. So Raúl is no stranger to the intricacies of government and state.” (‘Following Fidel’, Guardian Blogs)

Outside of armed intervention, the only option for the US is to find a viable counterrevolutionary movement within Cuba, but there is no such movement. The vast majority of the Cuban people stand behind the gains of the revolution, for which they fought so hard. Despite the collapse of the USSR and the eastern European people’s democracies, despite the illegal US embargo, despite the lack of natural resources, Cuba boasts the best standard of living for the average citizen of any country in Latin America and the Caribbean. The people have jobs, homes and (organic) food. They have some of the best health care in the world and have an average life expectancy of 76 years. They are literate and well-educated and enjoy a high level of culture. They enjoy far more profound participation in government of the country than is experienced by British workers. There are no shanty towns. And all this is built on the labours of the Cuban people alone, without the superprofits – extracted from the blood and sweat of the masses of the oppressed countries – that pay for lives of the ruling and middle classes in the imperialist heartlands.

The Cuban population does not have to look very far to see what kind of fate befalls a third-world country that submits to the diktat of the IMF and the World Bank, and it’s a vision that is hardly likely to appeal.

If it’s international solidarity you want, don’t ask the Trots

Anyone in the least acquainted with the theory and practice of Trotskyism will not be surprised that the pages of Socialist Worker, Weekly Worker, Workers’ Liberty and other such rags have not contained messages of support for Fidel and solidarity with the Cuban revolution over the last few weeks.

The near-universal Trotskyist position on Cuba is that it is a ‘Stalinist dictatorship’, where the working class is oppressed by a ruling clique around Fidel Castro. They dare not say it in public, but, as far as the Trotskyite fraternity is concerned, the only hope for Cuba is a counterrevolution – back to square one – followed by the development of a ‘pure’ working-class movement (with no links to those pesky peasants) based on the principles of multi-party parliamentary (ie, bourgeois) democracy and ‘permanent revolution’.

The Socialist Worker of 25 May 2002 states that: “In Castro's Cuba, even though there are welfare services and literacy programmes, there are still no free elections or freedom of expression … None of these regimes are genuinely socialist. Indeed their rulers have tried to eliminate those who stood for genuine workers' control and democracy … That's why Socialist Worker has always sided with workers and the oppressed when they rose up and challenged the state capitalist regimes.” In July this year, the Communist Party of Cuba was accused by the Socialist Worker of having “tragically betrayed revolutionary prospects for workers’ power”.

The current article is not the place for a lengthy exposé of the stupidity of Trotskyism in relation to the theory and tactics of revolution (for that, we would recommend Harpal Brar’s book, Trotskyism or Leninism); however, we would ask the reader to consider when Trotskyists have ever supported a socialist state. They have not, and they cannot, for to do so would be to accept the redundancy of the hopelessly discredited theory of ‘permanent revolution’. So instead they content themselves with doing the dirty work of the bourgeoisie, spreading despondency in the working-class movement.

The reader must not be deceived by the Trotskyist counterrevolutionary characterisation of Cuba, which gains credibility by echoing (albeit in more ‘revolutionary’-sounding phrases) sentiments expressed in the capitalist press. Denouncing the victories of the working class, be it in Cuba, the USSR, China, Vietnam, Korea, eastern Europe – in fact, anywhere that socialism has successfully been established – is one of the central themes and preoccupations of Trotskyism, from 1917 until the present day.

If one is looking for a concise, pithy, but accurate characterisation of modern-day Cuba, it is hard to do better than that given recently by Mumia Abu-Jamal, revolutionary black activist on death row in the US: “Cuba represents the power of resistance and survival against tremendous odds. It also represents the power of the small over the mighty. It is, in the words of Assata Shakur, a palenque (in slavery days in Brazil) – a place of freedom amidst capitalist tyranny.” (Interview with Rafael Rodriguez-Cruz, 26 May 2006, cited in Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, issue 192)

Once again, we send our warm fraternal greetings to Fidel Castro, and hope that he regains his full health in the very near future. Further, we would like to express our complete solidarity with the Cuban people as they defend the gains of the revolution from the imperialist vultures who dream of taking them away.

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‹ 2005/11: Trotskyism or Leninism: A Historical Outline - by Tim Logan (CPGB-ML)up2006/10 - CPGB(ML) - Spain: dismembering history: How Trotskyism 'remembers' the Spanish Civil War ›
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Trotskyism and the Spanish Civil War
Submitted by uncle joe (not verified) on Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:51pm.

Proletarian issue 14 (October 2006)

Spain: dismembering history (web only)

How Trotskyism ‘remembers’ the Spanish Civil War

This year sees the 70th anniversary of the fascist rebellion that triggered a three-year people’s war in defence of the Spanish Republic against General Franco’s fascist rebels, who were lavishly assisted by German and Italian fascism, and were further strengthened by the embargo on supplies to the beleaguered republic imposed by Britain, France and the USA on the false pretext of ‘non-intervention’.

The Soviet Union, by embracing the liberation struggle of the Spanish people as her own, by supplying food, medicine, armaments and military advisors to the republic, and by organising the despatch of some 35,000 fighting men through the International Brigades, stood proudly at the shoulder of the Spanish people. At this testing time, the Soviet Union, out of all the states in the world, carried out its duty under international law and gave unstinting assistance to the Spanish people.

The world knows that the people’s war was lost in 1939. Yet in the course of three years of the most bitter armed struggle, the Spanish toilers and their class allies demonstrated to the world just what could be achieved against fascism when it was challenged by the heroism of a people risen in arms and welded into a united fighting force under the influence of communist leadership.

Again and again in the course of those three long years, the republican forces went onto the attack against the numerically and technically hugely superior fascist forces. And even after the fall of Catalonia, it was the treachery of non-communist members of the Popular Front that sealed the fate of the republic, not the disposition of the forces on the ground.

The Spanish Communist Party certainly did not accept that the situation, though very difficult, warranted a policy of surrender to the fascist hordes. Some 700,000 republican troops still remained in the liberated areas, and international contradictions within the crisis-stricken imperialist camp might yet tip the balance in the republic’s favour.

In fact, when the social-democratic wing of the Popular Front adopted the craven policy of surrender, the Socialist Party leader Casado could only carry this policy through by sacking all the communists from their military posts and throwing 12,000 communists into jail. It was only by snatching from the hands of the people their own communist leaders that social-democratic defeatism was able to open the door to Franco.

This is how all of progressive humanity remembers the brave struggle of the Spanish Republic, and the staunch support that struggle received from the communist-organised International Brigades and from the Soviet Union. Nor is it forgotten how the same Soviet Union then went on to make history by her destruction of the Hitlerite war machine and her crucial role in the liberation of Europe from fascist tyranny.

Trotskyite lies about the Spanish Civil War

However, this is not how the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) wishes to ‘remember’ the Spanish Civil War.

In a recent leaflet put out in Bristol inviting the public to a meeting entitled Remembering the Spanish Civil War, the SWP offer a very different version of history; a version in which the communists and the Soviet Union feature, not as the most steadfast allies of the republic, but as obstacles to the revolutionary advance of the Spanish toilers!

In order to make this lie stick, they have to call white black, and black white. The unique and unstinting material support rendered by the Soviet Union, at a time when the western ‘democracies’ were assisting the fascist aggressors by imposing an embargo on the Republic, is by this alchemy transformed into some fiendish plot by the ‘Stalinists’ to crush the revolution.

According to this gibberish, “the newly arising ruling class in Russia around Stalin used the monopoly of control of the supplies to the government to prevent the development of the revolution”.

What does this rigmarole boil down to? Just this: since they cannot deny that no state other than the Soviet Union was prepared to offer supplies and assistance to republican Spain, these frauds resort to the calumny that this unsought “monopoly of control of the supplies” was itself just a trick to hold back the revolution.

Perhaps the SWP would like to tell us the location of that great long queue of capitalist states which Moscow must presumably have shouldered aside to secure this “monopoly” ?!

The question of who assisted and who retarded the survival of the republic and the development of the revolution is best settled by reference to historical fact, not the tortured semantics of those caught out in a historical lie and hiding behind wordplay. So we should ask: what did Trotskyism do in the Spanish war?

The Trotskyite ‘contribution’ to the Spanish struggle

In circumstances where the Spanish working class faced the task of attempting to secure proletarian hegemony over the republican movement, the efforts of the communists to draw all anti-fascist forces behind a united Popular Front were crucial to both the survival of the republic and the progress of the revolution.

Yet the misleadingly titled Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity (POUM being its Spanish initials), a Trotskyite outfit whose most illustrious adherent was the ‘democratic socialist’ and police spy, George Orwell, did their damnedest to hamper the unification of progressive forces.

For example, mindful that the sporadic excesses that can accompany revolutionary upheaval are certain to be seized upon as a fascist propaganda weapon to drive religious-minded peasants away from the Popular Front, the communists reminded their fellow revolutionaries that such actions as burning down churches and monasteries bring support to the counterrevolution. But Trotskyite demagogy had nothing but contempt for such efforts to guide and discipline the development of the revolution, offensive as all such firm proletarian leadership necessarily appears to the precious individualism of the petty bourgeoisie.

The same demagogy wanted to howl down the communists when they took the lead in setting up the celebrated Fifth Regiment. In July 1936, it had been the workers themselves, without effective organisation, with hardly any ammunition and relying on their own courage and initiative alone, who had rallied to confront the fascist forces homing in on Madrid. This outburst of revolutionary energy successfully drove back the fascist threat, and revealed the huge untapped revolutionary creativity of the toiling masses.

However, the people of Madrid also recognised how much more effective their efforts would be when properly organised and disciplined. Understanding that it was the communists who were prepared and ready to organise militarily, in a professional manner, the cream of Madrid’s workers rallied to join the Fifth Regiment.

As in the Red Army, every unit had its own political commissar, tasked to perform a new kind of discipline, one that was conscious and voluntary rather than imposed, and therefore all the more effective.

So successful did this model prove that it came to be adopted throughout the People’s Army, so bringing to an end the criminal waste of life hitherto occasioned by the division of the troops into rival political factions, whose squabbles had resulted in some needless military disasters.

This development, which strengthened the anti-fascist war effort (and thereby created the best possible conditions for the development of the revolution), was not to the taste of Trotskyism, however. In a fit of crass ultra-left pique, POUM denounced as reactionary the very idea of a People’s Army, clinging instead to their own insistence on a purely ‘Workers’ Army’.

In the same vein, they wanted to take control of the army away from the Popular Front and hand it to a military council elected from the workers’ organisations. Yet no surer way of disrupting the common front against the most urgent threat to the Spanish toilers, destroying the alliance between worker and peasant, and thereby setting back the struggle to defend the republic and to maintain proletarian hegemony over the republican movement, could have been devised than this light-minded playing at revolution.

Nor did these petty-bourgeois masters of the revolutionary phrase shrink even from denouncing the soldiers of the People’s Army as no different from the “headless automatons who so efficiently click their heels and do or die for Hitler and Mussolini”.

POUM likewise denounced the communist proposal for a unified police force under Popular Front control, alleging that such proposals amounted to an attempt to “crush the creative revolutionary instinct of the proletariat” (or as the airy SWP phrase has it, hinder “these possibilities for socialism from below” ).

But the facts tell a different story. The workers’ patrols, which had dealt with the fascists during the July rebellion, had since then gone off the rails. This is best illustrated by the events at La Faterellas. The peasants of this village, in the course of resistance to an ill-judged forced collectivisation, shot two anarchists. The tragedy was compounded when a maverick workers’ patrol arrived from Barcelona and wiped out half the men of the village in reprisal.

Yet the Communists’ sensible proposal to bring the patrols back under Popular Front discipline had POUM foaming that “This offensive of the Stalinists cannot succeed and will not succeed.”

The SWP raises the question of collectivisation of agriculture in the liberated areas in order to lend colour to its allegations that “socialism from below” was stifled by communists. But before a judgement can be made in any instance about the advisability of this or that tactic, consideration needs to be given to the concrete circumstances.

For example, in September 1936, the republicans, having secured the whole of Catalonia as a liberated area, pressed on into Aragon, and seemed set fair to recapture this province too. But this advance stuttered to a halt, dogged by problems in the rearguard. In the view of Spanish historian R Tamames:

“In Barcelona, while Madrid was short of food, people were living as though there were not a war on. Production was declining because of anarchist collectivisation. The CNT-FAI [the anarchists], instead of facilitating the advance on the Aragonese territory, to which they had made an extremely important contribution, dedicated itself to making a revolution, and to undermining republican power by creating entities such as the Consejo de Aragon. The lesson to be learnt from the collapse of the advance in Aragon was clear: to win the war and to carry out a libertarian revolution at the same time was simply impossible.”

It was not the anarchists alone who made this mistake, but also the ‘Marxists’ of POUM, who likewise advocated a policy of forced collectivisation, thereby risking the alienation of the peasantry and the starvation of the workers.

The Communist position on this question was clear. “Collective farms must not be established by force,” Stalin insisted, adding, “That would be foolish and reactionary.” Comrades needed to recognise that “the proclamation of a slogan is not enough to cause the peasantry to turn en masse towards socialism”. Instead, “the masses of the peasantry themselves should be convinced that the slogan proclaimed is a correct one and that they should accept it as their own”.

Trotskyism, always happy to assist imperialism in slandering the collectivisation achievements of the Soviet Union, had no problem in urging collectivisation itself – just so long it was at the wrong time, in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

The long overdue exclusion of Trotskyism from the Popular Front government (which POUM had spent every waking hour undermining) marked the beginning of the adoption of a united policy in republican Spain, in place of the sham unity that had only impeded resolute action by the government in defence of the republic against fascism.

In Trotskyism’s final ‘contribution’ to the fight against fascism, POUM called for an insurrection against the Popular Front government. The ignominious defeat of this provocation, in May 1937, revealed both POUM’s treachery to the republic and the utter bankruptcy of its claims to speak for the Spanish proletariat.

The last Trotskyite word on how to encourage ‘socialism from below’ should go to Leon Trotsky himself. Writing in November 1937, at a critical time for the future of the republic, he wrote an article that was splashed all over the pro-Franco imperialist press, entitled, ‘It is time to pass to an international offensive against Stalinism’.

Here is a flavour of what Trotskyism really has in mind when it gets misty-eyed about ‘remembering Spain’.

“The events of recent months in Spain have demonstrated what crimes the Moscow bureaucracy, now completely degenerate, linked with its international mercenaries, are capable of. In Spain, where the so-called Republican Government serves as a screen for the criminal bands of Stalinism, the GPU has found the most favourable arena for carrying out the directives of the Plenum.”

An international offensive of the dupes of Trotskyism against the Spanish Republic, to coincide with the offensive of Franco – such was the contribution of Trotskyism in the most critical period of the struggle of the Spanish people against local and international fascism.

Proletarian internationalism versus Trot sectarianism

The SWP leaflet suggests that the 70th anniversary of the start of the war provides “a great opportunity to discuss the continuing relevance of the key political questions posed by Spain in the 30s” . Let this discussion take as its starting point the continued refusal of ‘the left’ in general, and Trotskyism in particular, to offer consistent and unconditional support for the national resistance movement being raised by the Iraqi people against the aggression of ‘our own’ Anglo-American imperialism.

What is the relevance to Spain? Listen to the telegram that Joseph Stalin sent to Jose Diaz on 15 October 1936:

“The toilers of the Soviet Union only fulfil their duty when they give aid to the Spanish revolutionary masses. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the persecution of fascist reactionaries is not a private cause of Spaniards, but a universal cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind.”

Nor is the liberation of Iraq from the present-day fascist occupation a private cause of Iraqis, but a “universal cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind” . Those who have best learned the lessons of the Spanish Civil War are those who today support the united front of the Iraqi resistance movement without caveats or conditions, and urge upon the anti-war movement the unambiguous watchword, Victory to the Iraqi Resistance!

Study of the treacherous role played by Trotskyism in the 1930s makes it easier to see how those remaining under its baleful influence find this candid slogan so hard to stomach.

Long live the memory of the struggle of the Spanish people against fascism!

Long live the memory of the International Brigades!

Victory to those fighting imperialist aggression today in Colombia, Nepal, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine!

Victory to the Iraqi resistance!

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Trotskyism or Leninism: a historical outline
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/04/2007 - 5:37am.

An Historical Outline by Tim Logan (CPGB-ML) to the Stalin Society (UK)

November 2005.

In the modern world a hard and keen struggle has been waged between different political trends and theories, many of which in one way or another reflect the fact that since capitalism first established itself the political consciousness of the masses has changed. Trotskyism has a special place among the political phenomena of social life today. The Trotskyites seek to divert from a correct path those members of non-proletarian sections, in particular students and intellectuals, who become increasingly involved in the political struggle and who could and should join hands with the working class, unite with scientific socialism, and follow the example set forth by the great teachers Lenin-Stalin, and the USSR. Trotskyism as an ideological and political trend was resolutely rejected by the communist and working-class movement in the late 1920s and early 1930s thanks to the efforts of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and fraternal Marxist-Leninist parties which exposed the pseudo-revolutionary and defeatist essence of Trotskyism. As a result, Trotskyist organisations disintegrated and degenerated into sectarian groupings interminably wrangling among themselves.

Recent years have witnessed a revival of Trotskyism, this revival has occurred in tandem with the collapse of revisionism in the USSR and has been aided by the capitalists in the imperialist countries, and in particular by the growth in these nations of a labour aristocracy funded by imperialist super-profits. The Trotskyist organisations have become active in a number of imperialist countries in Europe, and the United States, and the flow of Trotskyist publications has increased. The Trotskyists have begun the loud and strident propagation of their views. Now that contradictions and cataclysms in capitalist society have become extremely acute the monopoly capitalists are seeking to prevent the growth of the working people’s political activity and to channel their revolutionary energy in the wrong direction. Various pseudo-revolutionary ideas, including Trotskyism, are being eagerly used for these purposes. It is no accident that the numerous writings of Trotsky and present-day Trotskyists are widely circulated by bourgeois and liberal newspapers, magazines and publishers. The Trotskyists, reflecting to some extent the views of certain groups of students, intellectuals and lower paid employees, try to foist distorted political concepts on them and to incite them to acts of political adventurism. They harp incessantly on about “untapped possibilities” which could allegedly speed the revolution. They put forward strident “revolutionary” slogans that often contradict one another! They do not care whether the conditions for revolution exist or not. This is ‘Leftist’ opportunism, which has always been one of the most dangerous enemies of the revolutionary movement. ‘Leftist’ opportunism is a typical offshoot of petty-bourgeois revolutionarism. ‘Leftist’ and Rightist opportunism are two sides of the same coin. Right-wing opportunists weaken the revolutionary movement because they renounce struggle against the imperialist bourgeoisie for the sake of coming to terms with it. The ‘Left-wingers’ loudly denounce collaboration with the bourgeoisie but in fact weaken the militant movement by involving some of its groups in ruinous adventures. Right wing and ‘Leftist’ opportunism have the same ideological basis - lack of trust in the revolutionary strength of the working class and its political vanguard, in particular the truly Marxist-Leninist Parties which are today re-forging themselves. In their propaganda today’s Trotskyist’s every now and then resort to political demagoguery. Like Trotsky, they seek to replace Leninism by Trotskyism while using phrases about “Loyalty to Lenin” as a cover. They describe Trotsky as Lenin’s comrade-in-arms and a loyal and even the only continuer of his cause.

What does this gross deception count on? - Evidently, on the fact that many participants in the working-class and national liberation movement, especially young people, know little about the origin of Trotskyism, the historical experience of the ideological and political struggle against it and the basic political and theoretical arguments which were put forward by Lenin and the Communist Party in the course of this struggle.

This presentation will include some of Lenin’s articles, letters and speeches which reconstruct the irreconcilable struggle against Trotskyism and expose the essence of Trotsky’s anti-Marxist concepts.

The initial period in Lenin’s struggle against Trotsky’s ideological position began at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democrat Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1903. There were two points of view that clashed during the discussion of its programme and rules: the revolutionary one and the opportunist one. Trotsky found himself among the opportunists. He opposed Lenin’s revolutionary line on the questions of the programme and organisational questions. The Draft Programme of the Party contained an important Marxist proposition on the dictatorship of the proletariat, the political power of the working class. Trotsky did not object to this proposition in words but in fact opposed it. He expressed a view that coincided with the views of West European and Russian opportunists. In his opinion, the dictatorship of the proletariat was only possible if the proletariat constituted the majority of the nation. In Russia this meant that the solution of the problem would be put off indefinitely. It is well known that the victory of the 1917 October Revolution fully refuted this thesis. The USSR managed to not only survive in isolation, to build up a mighty Socialist economy, to overthrow Fascism, but it also held out and grew powerful enough to help spread the revolution and bring into being after the Second World War, a Socialist Camp that constituted a third of the worlds population! What a dismal failure the dictatorship of the proletariat was! What a dismal failure socialism in one country turned out to be! Trotsky’s opportunistic position was manifested clearly at the Second Congress on the question of the organisational structure of the Party. Lenin believed that a party member must belong to a Party organisation, work under its guidance, obey its decisions and observe party discipline. Only in such a case would the party as a whole become the organised detachment of the working class and its political leader. Unlike Lenin, Martov and Trotsky who backed Martov’s wording of the first paragraph of the rules believed that any striker who was not a member of a party organisation and who, consequently, did not obey party discipline could be a party member. At the Second Congress the Party split into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.

In January 1905, a revolution broke out in Russia. The Mensheviks and Trotsky evaluated the revolution and its motive forces differently. The Mensheviks believed that the revolution in Russia, like the previous bourgeois revolutions in Western Europe, had to be led by the bourgeoisie that had to take political power in the event of victory; the proletariat should not oppose its class goals in this revolution to those of the bourgeoisie and its only task was to fully support the bourgeoisie. In this period Trotsky went to the other extreme and came out with an absurd ‘leftist’ theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’, which he had borrowed from Parvus. This theory completely ignored the objective conditions of the revolution-taking place in Russia. Trotsky believed that the working class could take power alone without allies. He put forward the slogan: “A workers’ government without the tsar”. That slogan meant the isolation of the proletariat from the many millions of peasants who were a powerful revolutionary force because they were vitally interested in eliminating the remnants of old pre-capitalist relations in the countryside. Thus Trotsky rejected the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. In fact Trotsky opposed the theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’ to Lenin’s analysis of the character and motive forces of the 1905-1907 revolution.

This revolution was defeated. Years of brutal reaction began. Tsarism struck its main blow at the party of the working class. The conditions under which it had to work radically changed. It was necessary skilfully to combine both illegal and legal forms of party work to promote the strengthening of the party’s ties with the masses.

The Bolsheviks were accomplishing these tasks while fighting against Right wing and ‘Left-wing’ opportunists. The Menshevik liquidators, frightened by reactionary forces, demanded the dissolution of the revolutionary proletarian party and its replacement by a legal reformist party. The ‘Left-wing’ of opportunists - the Otzovists - sought to recall the representatives of the working class from the Duma and other legal organisations. What was Trotsky’s position in this critical situation? Trotsky, who then supported the Centrists, claimed that he was “above factions”. This was not so, however. Trotsky insisted that there was no difference in principle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and that the struggle between them was one between two groups of the intelligentsia for influence over “the politically immature proletariat”. Lenin wrote in his “Announcement of the publication of Rabochaya Gazette”,

“A worker who does not want to be spoken to in childish tones cannot fail to understand that liquidationism and otzovism are just as much non-accidental, deep-rooted trends as Bolshevism and Menshevism. Only inventors of fairy-tales "for workers" explain the difference between these two last factions as due to disputes between "intellectuals". In reality these two trends, which have left their mark on the whole history of the Russian revolution, on all the first years (in many respects the most important years) of the mass workers' movement in Russia, were produced by the very process of the economic and political reconstruction of Russia from a feudal into a bourgeois country, were produced by the influences exerted on the proletariat by various bourgeois classes, or more correctly, were produced by the situation of various strata of the bourgeoisie within which the proletariat acted. It follows that Social-Democratic unity in Russia is not possible through the destruction of one of the two trends which took shape in the period of the most open, most extensive, mass, free and historically important actions of the working class during the revolution. But it follows also that the foundations for a real rapprochement between the two factions are not to be found in well-meaning phrases about unity, about the abolition of factions, etc., but only in the internal development of the factions.”

This is in brief how the argument unfolded. Trotsky took his group and then actively set about to split the Party in two. Lenin charts this development with references to Trotsky’s manoeuvres with a letter to the ‘Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the RSDLP’. The following is a very brief excerpt and exposition by Lenin on Trotsky’s actions and the possibility of a split.

“On the 26th November 1910, Trotsky carried through a resolution in the so-called Vienna Party Club (a circle of Trotskyists, exiles who were pawns in the hands of Trotsky) that he published as a separate leaflet. I append this leaflet. Open war is declared on Rabochaya Gazeta…the arguments are not new. The statement that there are not now no “essential grounds” for a struggle against the Golos and Vperod groups is the height of absurdity and hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Golos and Vperod People had no intention of dispersing their factions and that the former in reality support the liquidators, Potresov and Co., that the Vperod group organised the factional school abroad. Where they teach Machism, where they teach that otzovism is a ‘legal shade of opinion’ etc. Trotsky’s call for ‘friendly’ collaboration by the Party with the Golo’s and Vperod groups is disgusting hypocrisy and phrase-mongering. Everybody knows that for the whole year since the plenary meeting the Golos and Vperod groups have worked in a ‘friendly’ manner against the Party (and were secretly supported by Trotsky). Actually, it is only the Bolsheviks and Plekanov’s group who have for a whole year carried out friendly party work in the central organ, Rabochaya Gazeta, and at Copenhagen, as well as in the Russian legal press. Trotsky’s attacks on the Bolsheviks and Plekanov’s group are not new; what is new is their outcome of the resolution: the Vienna Club has organised a general Party fund for the purpose of “preparing and convening a conference of the RSDLP”. This indeed is new. It is a direct step towards a split. It is a clear violation of party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief. Trotsky’s action, his ‘fund’, is supported only by the Golo’s and Vperod groups. There can be no question of participation by the Bolsheviks and Plekanovs group.

It is clear that this undertaking violates party legality, since not a word is said about the central committee, which alone can call the conference. In addition, Trotsky, having ousted the central committee representative on Pravda in August 1910, himself lost all trace of legality, converting Pravda from an organ supported by the central committee into a purely factional organ. The liquidators in Russia sabotaged the work of the Russian Central Committee. The liquidators abroad wanted to prevent a plenary meeting abroad-in other words, sabotage anything like a central committee. Taking advantage of this breach in Party legality, Trotsky seeks an organisational split, creating ‘his own’ fund for ‘his own’ conference. You will understand why I call Trotsky’s move an adventure; it is an adventure in every respect.

Trotsky unites all to whom an ideological decay is dear, all who are not concerned with a defence of Marxism; all Philistines who do not understand the reasons for the struggle and who do not wish to learn, think, and discover the ideological roots of the divergence of views. At this time of confusion, disintegration, and wavering it is easy for Trotsky to become the ‘hero of the hour’ and gather all the shabby elements around himself. The open this attempt is made the more spectacular will be his defeat. A conference held with Trotsky’s funds is a split; let the initiative remain with Trotsky. Let his be the responsibility. Three slogans bring out the essence of the present situation within the Party,

1. Strengthen and support the unification and rallying of Plekanovs supporters and the Bolsheviks for the defence of Marxism, for a rebuff to ideological confusion, and for the battle against liquidationism and otzovism.

2. Struggle for a plenary meeting-for a legal solution to the party crisis.

3. Struggle against the splitting tactics and the unprincipled adventurism of Trotsky”

The above statement demonstrates quite clearly the Bolsheviks led by Lenin resolutely rejected unification with the opportunists and that Trotsky was seeking to unite his opportunists in a new organisation with his factional and splitting activities. Trotsky was on a course of self-destruction and at a plenary meeting of the CC he declared his loyalty to the Party and how resolutely he had fought against liquidationism! Lenin had had enough when he wrote his piece entitled “Judas Trotsky’s blush of shame”, I reproduce it now.

“At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism and otzovism. He vowed and swore that he was true to the Party. He was given a subsidy.

After the Meeting the Central Committee grew weaker, the Vperyod (Trotsky’s gang) group grew stronger and acquired funds. The liquidators strengthened their position and in Nasha Zarya [26] spat in the face of the illegal Party, before Stolypin's very eyes.

Judas expelled the representative of the Central Committee from Pravda and began to write liquidationist articles in Vorwärts.[27] In defiance of the direct decision of the School Commission[28] appointed by the Plenary Meeting to the effect that no Party lecturer may go to the Vperyod factional school, Judas Trotsky did go and discussed a plan for a conference with the Vperyod group. This plan has now been published by the Vperyod group in a leaflet.

And it is this Judas who beats his breast and loudly professes his loyalty to the Party, claiming that he did not grovel before the Vperyod group and the liquidators.

Such is Judas Trotsky's blush of shame.”

It is not important in this meeting for us to chart the meagre rise and dismal failure of Trotsky’s attempt at forming a new organisation. The ‘August Bloc’ which he created for this very job crumbled unceremoniously and Lenin in a number of his articles (‘The Historical Meaning of the Inner Party Struggle in Russia, ‘Trotsky’s Diplomacy and a Certain Party Platform’, The Break-up of the August Bloc’) lays bare the class essence of the inner-party struggle and the failures of Trotsky’s group. Now to move on to a new period, with new treachery and wrecking by the Trotskyists, even in their finest hour.

The Period of the First Imperialist World War.

During the First Imperialist World War (1914-1918) the Russian Bolsheviks and the consistent revolutionary internationalists in European countries faced a new opportunist trend in the international working-class movement - social chauvinism - which formed a bloc with the Left-Wing’ sectarians and the centrists. In those years, not going beyond Menshevism, Trotsky advocated Centrism and Kautskyism. It was at the height of the World War that Lenin wrote his fundamental work ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’ in which he analysed the economic and political foundations of the system that caused unjust predatory wars and gave a scientific explanation of the laws of the world revolutionary process. The main conclusion of the book was that at the beginning of the 20th century capitalism had reached a stage when features of the period of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had emerged. It was during the War that Lenin sharply criticised Trotsky’s view of the prospects of the forthcoming socialist revolution in Russia and its motive forces. He showed that under the guises of “revolutionary phraseology” Trotsky had actually espoused Kautsky’s theory of “ultra-imperialism” which denied the fundamental contradictions of imperialism and essentially confirmed the inviolability of that system. This ‘theory’ concluded that the imperialist countries would eventually sit around a table and over a cup of tea peacefully share out amongst themselves whatever little was left of the world and then plan economic development in monopolist unity!

By 1917, by the very logic of the course of mounting revolutionary events in Russia, Trotsky and his followers found themselves politically isolated. Lenin noted that they did not have and do not have any basis in the working class.

The October Revolution and building Socialism.

Immediately after the February bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917, Trotsky came to Petrograd and joined the ‘Inter-District organisation of the United Social Democrats’. In August 1917, the Mezhraiontsy declared that they had no differences with the Bolsheviks and joined the RSDLP (Bolsheviks). This merger took place at the 6th Congress of the Bolsheviks, convened in secrecy and directed by Stalin in Lenin’s absence. But, as later events showed, for Trotsky joining the Bolshevik Party was yet another act of political hypocrisy. Pseudo-revolutionaries usually hide the un-tenability of their ideology behind ‘Leftist’ and ‘ultra-revolutionary’ phrases. This was typical of Trotsky’s position too.

At the crucial moment of the October Revolution, i.e., when preparations for an armed uprising were under way, Trotsky proposed that it should not begin before the convocation of the Second Congress of Soviets. Trotsky in later years talked about the ‘legality’ of the Congress of Soviets that took place on October 25th. When he does this he does it not to strengthen the legality of the Soviets, but to undermine Leninism, to undermine the dictatorship of the proletariat, not to uphold any universal principles of legality and working class power. To “wait for the Congress of Soviets would be utter idiocy”, Lenin wrote in his article ‘The Crisis has Matured’, for it would mean losing weeks, at a time when even days decided everything. On precisely this issue Stalin summed up Trotsky’s position and that of Lenin.

“Trotsky is absolutely wrong in asserting that Lenin underrated Soviet legality, that Lenin failed to appreciate the great importance of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets taking power on October 25, and that this was the reason why he insisted that power be taken before October 25. That is not true. Lenin proposed that power be taken before October 25 for two reasons. Firstly, because the counter-revolutionaries might have surrendered Petrograd at any moment, which would have drained the blood of the developing uprising, and so every day was precious. Secondly, because the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the day of the uprising (October 25) could not be rectified in any other way than by actually launching the uprising before the legal date set for it. The fact of the matter is that Lenin regarded insurrection as an art, and he could not help knowing that the enemy, informed about the date of the uprising (owing to the carelessness of the Petrograd Soviet) would certainly try to prepare for that day. Consequently, it was necessary to forestall the enemy, i.e., without fail to launch the uprising before the legal date. This is the chief explanation for the passion with which Lenin in his letters scourged those who made a fetish of the date -- October 25. Events showed that Lenin was absolutely right. It is well known that the uprising was launched prior to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet. That is why Trotsky's lengthy arguments about the importance of Soviet legality are quite beside the point.”

Even after the victory of the October Revolution and the consolidation of the power of the workers and peasants, Trotsky found it necessary to create myths and reinvent history. Stalin dealt with these lies in his work Trotskyism or Leninism and it is worth quoting the following section by Stalin where he deals with new Trotskyism, i.e. the development of so-called Trotskyist thought in the early 1920’s. This development is a basic charting of the contortionist Trotsky and the theoretical convulsions Trotskyism suffered as it found itself ideologically bankrupt in the face of the proletarian victory.

“What are the characteristic features of the new Trotskyism?

1) On the question of "permanent" revolution. The new Trotskyism does not deem it necessary openly to uphold the theory of "permanent" revolution. It "simply" asserts that the October Revolution fully confirmed the idea of "permanent" revolution. From this it draws the following conclusion: the important and acceptable part of Leninism is the part that came after the war, in the period of the October Revolution; on the other hand, the part of Leninism that existed before the war, before the October Revolution, is wrong and unacceptable. Hence, the Trotskyites' theory of the division of Leninism into two parts: pre-war Leninism, the "old," "useless" Leninism with its idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and the new, post-war, October Leninism, which they count on adapting to the requirements of Trotskyism. Trotskyism needs this theory of the division of Leninism as a first, more or less "acceptable" step that is necessary to facilitate further steps in its struggle against Leninism.

But Leninism is not an eclectic theory stuck together out of diverse elements and capable of being cut into parts. Leninism is an integral theory, which arose in 1903, has passed the test of three revolutions, and is now being carried forward as the battle-flag of the world proletariat.

"Bolshevism," Lenin said, "as a trend of political thought and as a political party, has existed since 1903. Only the history of Bolshevism during the whole period of its existence can satisfactorily explain why it was able to build up and to maintain under most difficult conditions the iron discipline needed for the victory of the proletariat" (see Vol. XXV, p. 174).[1]

Bolshevism and Leninism are one. They are two names for one and the same thing. Hence, the theory of the division of Leninism into two parts is a theory intended to destroy Leninism, to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism.

Needless to say, the Party cannot reconcile itself to this grotesque theory.

2) On the question of the Party principle. The old Trotskyism tried to undermine the Bolshevik Party principle by means of the theory (and practice) of unity with the Mensheviks. But that theory has suffered such disgrace that nobody now even wants to mention it. To undermine the Party principle, present-day Trotskyism has invented the new, less odious and almost "democratic" theory of contrasting the old cadres to the younger Party members. According to Trotskyism, our Party has not a single and integral history. Trotskyism divides the history of our Party into two parts of unequal importance: pre-October and post-October. The pre-October part of the history of our Party is, properly speaking, not history, but "pre-history," the unimportant or, at all events, not very important preparatory period of our Party. The post-October part of the history of our Party, however, is real, genuine history. In the former, there are the "old," "pre- historic," unimportant cadres of our Party. In the latter there is the new, real, "historic" Party. It scarcely needs proof that this singular scheme of the history of the Party is a scheme to disrupt the unity between the old and the new cadres of our Party, a scheme to destroy the Bolshevik Party principle.

Needless to say, the Party cannot reconcile itself to this grotesque scheme.

3) On the question of the leaders of Bolshevism. The old Trotskyism tried to discredit Lenin more or less openly, with out fearing the consequences. The new Trotskyism is more cautious. It tries to achieve the purpose of the old Trotskyism by pretending to praise, to exalt Lenin. I think it is worthwhile quoting a few examples.

The Party knows that Lenin was a relentless revolutionary; but it knows also that he was cautious, that he disliked reckless people and often, with a firm hand, restrained those who were infatuated with terrorism, including Trotsky himself. Trotsky touches on this subject in his book On Lenin, but from his portrayal of Lenin one might think that all Lenin did was "at every opportunity to din into people's minds the idea that terrorism was inevitable." The impression is created that Lenin was the most bloodthirsty of all the bloodthirsty Bolsheviks.

For what purpose did Trotsky need this uncalled-for and totally unjustified exaggeration?

The Party knows that Lenin was an exemplary Party man, who did not like to settle questions alone, without the leading collective body, on the spur of the moment, without careful investigation and verification. Trotsky touches upon this aspect, too, in his book. But the portrait he paints is not that of Lenin, but of a sort of Chinese mandarin, who settles important questions in the quiet of his study, by intuition…. The Party knows that Lenin was the greatest Marxist of our times, a profound theoretician and a most experienced revolutionary, to whom any trace of Blanquism was alien. Trotsky touches upon this aspect, too, in his book. But the portrait he paints is not that of the giant Lenin, but of a dwarf like Blanquist who, in the October days, advises the Party "to take power by its own hand, independently of and behind the back of the Soviet." I have already said, however, that there is not a scrap of truth in this description. Why did Trotsky need this flagrant . . . inaccuracy? Is this not an attempt to discredit Lenin "just a little"?

Such are the characteristic features of the new Trotskyism.

What is the danger of this new Trotskyism? It is that Trotskyism, owing to its entire inner content, stands every chance of becoming the centre and rallying point of the non-proletarian elements who are striving to weaken, to disintegrate the proletarian dictatorship.

You will ask: what is to be done now? What are the Party's immediate tasks in connection with Trotsky's new literary pronouncements?

Trotskyism is taking action now in order to discredit Bolshevism and to undermine its foundations. It is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend.

There is talk about repressive measures against the opposition and about the possibility of a split. That is nonsense, comrades. Our Party is strong and mighty. It will not allow any splits. As regards repressive measures, I am emphatically opposed to them. What we need now is not repressive measures, but an extensive ideological struggle against renascent Trotskyism.”

This struggle was fought and won by Stalin and the Bolsheviks and Russia embarked upon the building of the world’s first socialist state whose ultimate goal was the complete transformation of the political and economic life of the country on entirely new principles. Throughout the early phase of proletarian dictatorship Trotsky was tolerated despite the fact that he continued on his own selfish course in the face of the wishes of the masses. He claimed that the future of the Soviet Republic was wholly dependent on the victory of revolution in Europe. Categorically denying that socialism could be victorious in one country, he said: “It is only a European revolution that can save us in the full sense of the word”. Such was Trotsky’s faith in the Revolution, faith in the Russian workers and peasants, faith in the possibilities opened up by the abolition of exploitation of one man by another.

He conducted Peace Talks with Germany in Brest-Litovsk this is well documented. Soviet Russia was going through a difficult time. The World War was still continuing and a very urgent task was to stop it. The newly born state of workers and peasants vitally needed a respite from the war. In view of the situation the Soviet Republic found itself in, Lenin favoured the signing of a Peace Treaty. Lenin’s strategy and tactics on this question encountered fierce resistance from Trotsky. Trotsky, heading the Soviet delegation at the Peace Talks, ignored Lenin’s specific instructions and in reply to the German ultimatum of 27 January 1918 (9 February - new style), declared “neither war nor peace”, which meant: We are not going to sign the Peace Treaty; we are no longer waging war and we are going to demobilised the army. At the same time he sent a telegram to the Commander-in-Chief demanding that he order demobilisation of the army.

When Lenin learned about this he gave instructions to cancel Trotsky’s unauthorised directions. Stressing the direct relationship between the anti-imperialist struggle of the proletariat in other countries and the revolutionary transformations in Russia, in direct contrast to Trotsky’s prognostications, Lenin set the working people of Russia as their main task that of preserving the Soviet Republic as the bulwark of the world liberation movement. He considered that the downfall of Soviet Power would be a mortal blow to the cause of socialism in the whole world.

During the Brest-Litovsk Peace Talks, the party also had to resist fierce pressure from ‘Left communists’ whom Lenin dubbed “heroes of the Leftist phrase”. They called for the immediate launching of a revolutionary war against German and world imperialism. The ‘Left’ phrasemongers accused the Party of opportunism and of betraying the interest of the Russian and world proletariat. Trotsky justified the activity of the ‘Left communists’ and sided with them. He claimed that the rejection of peace with Germany would make it possible “to exert a revolutionising influence on the German proletariat”. The Trotskyists tried to strengthen their position by referring to the rising tide of revolution in Western Europe. They even predicted the exact dates when imperialism would collapse and revolution would begin in other countries. All these statements were based on the anti-Marxist idea of the possibility of “giving a push” to world revolution by war and hastening the downfall of the imperialist system. Lenin resolutely opposed the adventuristic slogan of a revolutionary war and proved its un-tenability in the specific situation of 1918… It was yet another manifestation of the Trotskyist and other ‘Left’ phrasemongers ignoring reality. The Brest Treaty was signed in March 1918.

Despite resistance from the Trotskyists there came a breathing space of peace that made it possible to strengthen Soviet rule and start forming its own armed forces - the Red Army, capable of defending the gains of the revolution. But this respite was ended by the start of foreign military intervention and the Civil War (1918 -1920).

It was only in the early 1920s that the country was finally able to start peaceful construction. However more problems arose and Trotsky was largely to blame for the sharpening of the inner-party struggle. At that time he put forward the idea of putting the trade unions under state control, proposing that they be merged with economic management bodies. Trotsky insisted on introducing emergency, in fact military, methods of administration. Lenin took account of the sum of the problems facing the party and the state. He showed that for the party the question of the trade union was a part of the general question of the role of the working masses in socialist construction. In giving leadership to the masses the party used methods of persuasion and education and these methods should be applied also in the work of the trade unions. Lenin explained that the trade unions educated and organised the working class, they were a school for the masses where they acquired the necessary experience in management and administration. Through the trade unions, workers were drawn into active socialist construction and exercised control over the activities of the managers of economic bodies. The Trade Unions were a mass-organisation of the proletariat and had an instrumental role in the practical carrying-out of the dictatorship, this was their special role and they couldn’t possibly be merged! After the overwhelming majority of the party members had rejected the erroneous line of Trotsky and other oppositionists, the Tenth Party Congress upheld and endorsed Lenin’s course. In his speech at the Congress Lenin warned of the danger of factionalism in the Party. He submitted a draft resolution he had written - on Party Unity - which was approved by the Congress.

In 1929, Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union. He was expelled because he had consistently ignored the calls for Party unity, he had undermined the decisions of the workers and peasants organisations and consistently presented anti-Bolshevik and anti-Leninist propositions. Later it emerged that he was involved in all manner of wrecking and sabotage. The struggle waged by Lenin and the Leninist Party against Trotskyism teaches all genuine revolutionaries how to discern what lies behind loud pseudo-revolutionary phrases. This struggle shows that only creative Marxism-Leninism can serve as a guide to action for the revolutionary forces. Any attempt openly or secretly to revise Marxism-Leninism or to distort it in a dogmatic way, any reluctance to reckon with objective reality, which calls for adjustments to revolutionary theory, inevitably lead to a departure form the revolution and betrayal of the revolutionary cause.
  
  
  

 
 
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2006/10 - CPGB(ML) - Spain: dismembering history: How Trotskyism 'remembers' the Spanish Civil War

Submitted by LS on Sat, 09/30/2006 - 11:00pm.

  * CPGB (ML)
  * Spanish Civil War
  * Trotskyism

Reprinted from Proletarian issue 14 (October 2006)

Spain: dismembering history

How Trotskyism ‘remembers’ the Spanish Civil War

This year sees the 70th anniversary of the fascist rebellion that triggered a three-year people’s war in defence of the Spanish Republic against General Franco’s fascist rebels, who were lavishly assisted by German and Italian fascism, and were further strengthened by the embargo on supplies to the beleaguered republic imposed by Britain, France and the USA on the false pretext of ‘non-intervention’.

The Soviet Union, by embracing the liberation struggle of the Spanish people as her own, by supplying food, medicine, armaments and military advisors to the republic, and by organising the despatch of some 35,000 fighting men through the International Brigades, stood proudly at the shoulder of the Spanish people. At this testing time, the Soviet Union, out of all the states in the world, carried out its duty under international law and gave unstinting assistance to the Spanish people.

The world knows that the people’s war was lost in 1939. Yet in the course of three years of the most bitter armed struggle, the Spanish toilers and their class allies demonstrated to the world just what could be achieved against fascism when it was challenged by the heroism of a people risen in arms and welded into a united fighting force under the influence of communist leadership.

Again and again in the course of those three long years, the republican forces went onto the attack against the numerically and technically hugely superior fascist forces. And even after the fall of Catalonia, it was the treachery of non-communist members of the Popular Front that sealed the fate of the republic, not the disposition of the forces on the ground.

The Spanish Communist Party certainly did not accept that the situation, though very difficult, warranted a policy of surrender to the fascist hordes. Some 700,000 republican troops still remained in the liberated areas, and international contradictions within the crisis-stricken imperialist camp might yet tip the balance in the republic’s favour.

In fact, when the social-democratic wing of the Popular Front adopted the craven policy of surrender, the Socialist Party leader Casado could only carry this policy through by sacking all the communists from their military posts and throwing 12,000 communists into jail. It was only by snatching from the hands of the people their own communist leaders that social-democratic defeatism was able to open the door to Franco.

This is how all of progressive humanity remembers the brave struggle of the Spanish Republic, and the staunch support that struggle received from the communist-organised International Brigades and from the Soviet Union. Nor is it forgotten how the same Soviet Union then went on to make history by her destruction of the Hitlerite war machine and her crucial role in the liberation of Europe from fascist tyranny.

Trotskyite lies about the Spanish Civil War

However, this is not how the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) wishes to ‘remember’ the Spanish Civil War.

In a recent leaflet put out in Bristol inviting the public to a meeting entitled Remembering the Spanish Civil War, the SWP offer a very different version of history; a version in which the communists and the Soviet Union feature, not as the most steadfast allies of the republic, but as obstacles to the revolutionary advance of the Spanish toilers!

In order to make this lie stick, they have to call white black, and black white. The unique and unstinting material support rendered by the Soviet Union, at a time when the western ‘democracies’ were assisting the fascist aggressors by imposing an embargo on the Republic, is by this alchemy transformed into some fiendish plot by the ‘Stalinists’ to crush the revolution.

According to this gibberish, “the newly arising ruling class in Russia around Stalin used the monopoly of control of the supplies to the government to prevent the development of the revolution”.

What does this rigmarole boil down to? Just this: since they cannot deny that no state other than the Soviet Union was prepared to offer supplies and assistance to republican Spain, these frauds resort to the calumny that this unsought “monopoly of control of the supplies” was itself just a trick to hold back the revolution.

Perhaps the SWP would like to tell us the location of that great long queue of capitalist states which Moscow must presumably have shouldered aside to secure this “monopoly” ?!

The question of who assisted and who retarded the survival of the republic and the development of the revolution is best settled by reference to historical fact, not the tortured semantics of those caught out in a historical lie and hiding behind wordplay. So we should ask: what did Trotskyism do in the Spanish war?

The Trotskyite ‘contribution’ to the Spanish struggle

In circumstances where the Spanish working class faced the task of attempting to secure proletarian hegemony over the republican movement, the efforts of the communists to draw all anti-fascist forces behind a united Popular Front were crucial to both the survival of the republic and the progress of the revolution.

Yet the misleadingly titled Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity (POUM being its Spanish initials), a Trotskyite outfit whose most illustrious adherent was the ‘democratic socialist’ and police spy, George Orwell, did their damnedest to hamper the unification of progressive forces.

For example, mindful that the sporadic excesses that can accompany revolutionary upheaval are certain to be seized upon as a fascist propaganda weapon to drive religious-minded peasants away from the Popular Front, the communists reminded their fellow revolutionaries that such actions as burning down churches and monasteries bring support to the counterrevolution. But Trotskyite demagogy had nothing but contempt for such efforts to guide and discipline the development of the revolution, offensive as all such firm proletarian leadership necessarily appears to the precious individualism of the petty bourgeoisie.

The same demagogy wanted to howl down the communists when they took the lead in setting up the celebrated Fifth Regiment. In July 1936, it had been the workers themselves, without effective organisation, with hardly any ammunition and relying on their own courage and initiative alone, who had rallied to confront the fascist forces homing in on Madrid. This outburst of revolutionary energy successfully drove back the fascist threat, and revealed the huge untapped revolutionary creativity of the toiling masses.

However, the people of Madrid also recognised how much more effective their efforts would be when properly organised and disciplined. Understanding that it was the communists who were prepared and ready to organise militarily, in a professional manner, the cream of Madrid’s workers rallied to join the Fifth Regiment.

As in the Red Army, every unit had its own political commissar, tasked to perform a new kind of discipline, one that was conscious and voluntary rather than imposed, and therefore all the more effective.

So successful did this model prove that it came to be adopted throughout the People’s Army, so bringing to an end the criminal waste of life hitherto occasioned by the division of the troops into rival political factions, whose squabbles had resulted in some needless military disasters.

This development, which strengthened the anti-fascist war effort (and thereby created the best possible conditions for the development of the revolution), was not to the taste of Trotskyism, however. In a fit of crass ultra-left pique, POUM denounced as reactionary the very idea of a People’s Army, clinging instead to their own insistence on a purely ‘Workers’ Army’.

In the same vein, they wanted to take control of the army away from the Popular Front and hand it to a military council elected from the workers’ organisations. Yet no surer way of disrupting the common front against the most urgent threat to the Spanish toilers, destroying the alliance between worker and peasant, and thereby setting back the struggle to defend the republic and to maintain proletarian hegemony over the republican movement, could have been devised than this light-minded playing at revolution.

Nor did these petty-bourgeois masters of the revolutionary phrase shrink even from denouncing the soldiers of the People’s Army as no different from the “headless automatons who so efficiently click their heels and do or die for Hitler and Mussolini”.

POUM likewise denounced the communist proposal for a unified police force under Popular Front control, alleging that such proposals amounted to an attempt to “crush the creative revolutionary instinct of the proletariat” (or as the airy SWP phrase has it, hinder “these possibilities for socialism from below” ).

But the facts tell a different story. The workers’ patrols, which had dealt with the fascists during the July rebellion, had since then gone off the rails. This is best illustrated by the events at La Faterellas. The peasants of this village, in the course of resistance to an ill-judged forced collectivisation, shot two anarchists. The tragedy was compounded when a maverick workers’ patrol arrived from Barcelona and wiped out half the men of the village in reprisal.

Yet the Communists’ sensible proposal to bring the patrols back under Popular Front discipline had POUM foaming that “This offensive of the Stalinists cannot succeed and will not succeed.”

The SWP raises the question of collectivisation of agriculture in the liberated areas in order to lend colour to its allegations that “socialism from below” was stifled by communists. But before a judgement can be made in any instance about the advisability of this or that tactic, consideration needs to be given to the concrete circumstances.

For example, in September 1936, the republicans, having secured the whole of Catalonia as a liberated area, pressed on into Aragon, and seemed set fair to recapture this province too. But this advance stuttered to a halt, dogged by problems in the rearguard. In the view of Spanish historian R Tamames:

“In Barcelona, while Madrid was short of food, people were living as though there were not a war on. Production was declining because of anarchist collectivisation. The CNT-FAI [the anarchists], instead of facilitating the advance on the Aragonese territory, to which they had made an extremely important contribution, dedicated itself to making a revolution, and to undermining republican power by creating entities such as the Consejo de Aragon. The lesson to be learnt from the collapse of the advance in Aragon was clear: to win the war and to carry out a libertarian revolution at the same time was simply impossible.”

It was not the anarchists alone who made this mistake, but also the ‘Marxists’ of POUM, who likewise advocated a policy of forced collectivisation, thereby risking the alienation of the peasantry and the starvation of the workers.

The Communist position on this question was clear. “Collective farms must not be established by force,” Stalin insisted, adding, “That would be foolish and reactionary.” Comrades needed to recognise that “the proclamation of a slogan is not enough to cause the peasantry to turn en masse towards socialism”. Instead, “the masses of the peasantry themselves should be convinced that the slogan proclaimed is a correct one and that they should accept it as their own”.

Trotskyism, always happy to assist imperialism in slandering the collectivisation achievements of the Soviet Union, had no problem in urging collectivisation itself – just so long it was at the wrong time, in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

The long overdue exclusion of Trotskyism from the Popular Front government (which POUM had spent every waking hour undermining) marked the beginning of the adoption of a united policy in republican Spain, in place of the sham unity that had only impeded resolute action by the government in defence of the republic against fascism.

In Trotskyism’s final ‘contribution’ to the fight against fascism, POUM called for an insurrection against the Popular Front government. The ignominious defeat of this provocation, in May 1937, revealed both POUM’s treachery to the republic and the utter bankruptcy of its claims to speak for the Spanish proletariat.

The last Trotskyite word on how to encourage ‘socialism from below’ should go to Leon Trotsky himself. Writing in November 1937, at a critical time for the future of the republic, he wrote an article that was splashed all over the pro-Franco imperialist press, entitled, ‘It is time to pass to an international offensive against Stalinism’.

Here is a flavour of what Trotskyism really has in mind when it gets misty-eyed about ‘remembering Spain’.

“The events of recent months in Spain have demonstrated what crimes the Moscow bureaucracy, now completely degenerate, linked with its international mercenaries, are capable of. In Spain, where the so-called Republican Government serves as a screen for the criminal bands of Stalinism, the GPU has found the most favourable arena for carrying out the directives of the Plenum.”

An international offensive of the dupes of Trotskyism against the Spanish Republic, to coincide with the offensive of Franco – such was the contribution of Trotskyism in the most critical period of the struggle of the Spanish people against local and international fascism.

Proletarian internationalism versus Trot sectarianism

The SWP leaflet suggests that the 70th anniversary of the start of the war provides “a great opportunity to discuss the continuing relevance of the key political questions posed by Spain in the 30s” . Let this discussion take as its starting point the continued refusal of ‘the left’ in general, and Trotskyism in particular, to offer consistent and unconditional support for the national resistance movement being raised by the Iraqi people against the aggression of ‘our own’ Anglo-American imperialism.

What is the relevance to Spain? Listen to the telegram that Joseph Stalin sent to Jose Diaz on 15 October 1936:

“The toilers of the Soviet Union only fulfil their duty when they give aid to the Spanish revolutionary masses. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the persecution of fascist reactionaries is not a private cause of Spaniards, but a universal cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind.”

Nor is the liberation of Iraq from the present-day fascist occupation a private cause of Iraqis, but a “universal cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind” . Those who have best learned the lessons of the Spanish Civil War are those who today support the united front of the Iraqi resistance movement without caveats or conditions, and urge upon the anti-war movement the unambiguous watchword, Victory to the Iraqi Resistance!

Study of the treacherous role played by Trotskyism in the 1930s makes it easier to see how those remaining under its baleful influence find this candid slogan so hard to stomach.

Long live the memory of the struggle of the Spanish people against fascism!

Long live the memory of the International Brigades!

Victory to those fighting imperialist aggression today in Colombia, Nepal, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine!

Victory to the Iraqi resistance!
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2007-12-18 00:45 | 4 楼
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Critique of Sam Farber's article "Cuba's likely transition and its politics"
Submitted by LS on Tue, 10/31/2006 - 3:08pm.

The following is a critique of Samuel Farber's article Cuba's likely transition and its politics, which appeared in International Socialist Review Issue 48, July–August 2006. ISR is a theoretical magazine affiliated with the International Socialist Organization (ISO), U.S. Trotskyist organization.

Critique of Samuel Farber's "Cuba's Likely Transition and its politics"

by Joe Iosbaker

Here is a link to an anti-communist article, supporting the overthrow of the Communist Party of Cuba, written by Samuel Farber. It appeared in the ISO's international magazine. It is somewhat sophisticated, but at bottom it shows the hostility that Trotskyites have to socialism.

Farber stands for the overthrow of the revolution in Cuba. His article again and again condemns the government. He writes of “political repression,” “the hold of the one-party state and the severe restriction of opposition activities.” He looks forward to Fidel’s death as an opportunity to advance the Trotskyite agenda of “socialism from below.”

He is pessimistic about the prospects, however, of his vision, despite his view that he thinks that “… the regime has lost popular support…” He anticipates Cuba following the Chinese model of market socialism, with the Cuban army playing the leading role in holding together the post-Fidel society and leadership. According to him the Cuban’s acceptance of capitalist elements will lead to a rapprochement with the US imperialists, as China has made. It is from this predicted development that he sees the diminished prospects of a “New Left” to overthrow the Communist Party.

The opposition to socialism is bad enough. Marxists are working toward socialism, and when it is won by bloody sacrifices – when imperialism has been defeated in a country - revolutionaries have a duty to support the gains made through the sacrifices of our comrades there. If you work to overturn a victorious revolution, you are a counter-revolutionary. Farber qualifies as one.

But Farber also fails on the first duty of internationalism – opposing ones own rulers, especially when you are from the U.S. Farber is an academic, and so much of his tone is dispassionate. But when that passive voice drones on about the prospects of US intervention, and doesn’t oppose that, it leads to what we have seen from Trotskyites again and again – actual complicity with imperialism, as in their support for the overthrow of socialism in Eastern Europe. Farber qualifies as a tool of imperialism.

Farber suggests that Cuba is no longer seen as a threat that US imperialism worries about. This is part of his rationalization of support for imperialism’s objectives. Compare his longing for a post-Fidel order in Cuba to this revolutionary statement of solidarity passed by over 100 Marxist Leninist parties and organizations at the International Communist Seminar in Brussels in 2005.

http://www.wpb.be/icm/2005/Contributions_to_the_Seminar/Sci05_Resolution%20Cuba_EN.doc

I'll just quote the 1st lines: "The Cuban Revolution remains besieged by the Empire. The United States does not resign to the fact that a small socialist country, subjected to a genocidal blockade, terrorist acts and pressures of all types, continues to show that a better world is possible."
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2007-12-18 00:46 | 5 楼
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Wanted: A Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism
Submitted by LS on Tue, 10/31/2006 - 9:32am.

  * Leon Trotsky
  * Trotskyism

Trotsky's grave in MexicoIn 1973, the now-defunct but then-important left newspaper the Guardian published an expose on modern Trotskyism in a series of articles by Carl Davidson (who was at that time a Marxist-Leninist). The series, Left in Form, Right in Essence: A Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism, was printed as a pamphlet, and is now available online on the Marxist Internet Archive (which is ironic since the MIA is run by Trotskyists).

The pamphlet uses as its starting point the key issue of that time - the US war in Vietnam. It starts out by looking at the approach some Trotskyists were taking toward the Vietnamese national liberation struggle in the early 1970s. At a critical moment in the Vietnamese revolutionary process, after having fought against the French and then the US occupiers heroically for decades, and with the revolutionaries on the verge of victory, Trotskyists started to attack the Vietnamese revolutionaries.

Davidson's pamphlet points this out, and starts by criticizing the lines of the main Trotskyist groups at the time regarding the liberation forces in Vietnam. It then proceeds to investigate Trotskyism on a historical and theoretical level, on a host of issues: "permanent revolution", socialism in one country (apparently Trotskyists prefer socialism in no countries to socialism in one country...), the two-stage revolution, the national liberation struggle, Trotskyism and China, united front against fascism, the origins of U.S. Trotskyism, national and class struggle, the woman question, reform or revolution?, and the vanguard party.

While the general theoretical questions are still good from Davidson's pamphlet, it was written over 30 years ago, and a lot has changed since then in terms of the current touchstone issues and the approach Trotskyist groups take toward them. I think it's time for a critique of contemporary Trotskyism for the current period. There are some rightist and anarchist critiques of Trotskyism around (see for example the anarchist critiques at infoshop.org's smear page against the International Socialist Organization). Most of that stuff is warmed over anti-communism of one sort or another. That's not what I'm talking about. I think what is needed is a Marxist-Leninist perspective on what is wrong with the politics of today's main Trotskyist groups in the U.S., and then putting that in historical context, connecting it with Trotskyism's history. For example it would be good to really draw out the current Trotskyist groups' errors on things like class reductionism, opposition to national liberation movements, and opposition to socialism where it actually exists (different Trot groups have different assessments of this stuff; some partially support socialist countries and national liberation movements, but most don't).

One good example of a contemporary critique of Trotskyism is an article on the Marxism-Leninism Today website, Trotskyism: Second Guessing Revolution by Zoltan Zigedy. This article, written in 2005, is a critique of an article that appeared on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), one of the more well-known socialist news sites on the internet, which is run by a small Trotskyist organization, the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). Zigedy's article takes on the WSWS 'obituary' (actually a sharp polemic against him on the occasion of his death) for Alvaro Cunhal, a key Portuguese Communist Party leader who died in 2005. Zigedy's article states:

  A striking example of the flaws in Trotskyist thinking was presented by a recent article posted on the World Socialist Web Site by Keith Lee and Paul Mitchell entitled "Obituary: Alvaro Cunhal — leading betrayer of Portugal's 1974 revolution."[*] Even those ignorant of the Portuguese people's long struggle against the Caetano and Salazar fascist dictatorships would be surprised at the vitriol in the title's charge against Cunhal, a man who, in death, drew the homage of hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants.

Zigedy's article on Marxism-Leninism Today is a solid criticism of exactly what is wrong with the Trotskyist analysis of what happened in Portugal in 1974. Without getting into a discussion of what was correct and incorrect in the Portuguese Communist Party's line, it is clear that the WSWS Trotskyist critique is a haranguing from the sidelines and is not really grappling with the difficult issues facing revolutionaries in real-world situations. For that reason Zigedy's article is valuable. It shows the need for this kind of analysis of what's wrong with some of the main Trotskyist groups' analysis of current events - from Iraq to Palestine to Lebanon to Cuba to Venezuela to the immigrant rights movement and other oppressed nationality movements in the U.S., etcetera.

The Trotskyist group that was predominant when Carl Davidson wrote his Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism, the Socialist Workers Party, now is only a pale shadow of its former self, and they officially dropped Trotsky in the mid-1980s (though they are still generally Trotskyist in their orientation, and their political practice is still characterized by many of the characteristics often associated with Trotskyist groups). Since the early 1970s a multitude of Trotskyist groups and grouplets have proliferated. One of the largest (if not the largest) groups on the U.S. left is the Trotskyist group International Socialist Organization (ISO), which had its roots in the 1960s upsurge. Another 'soft Trot' or Trot regroupment group that is influential in the labor movement and generally has a better practice than other Trotskyist groups is Solidarity. Other Trot groups that have grown in the 1990s and 2000s are Socialist Action and Socialist Alternative, though both of those are much smaller than the ISO. And there are many others.

The point being that much has changed since 1973...and it is overdue for a new 'critique of contemporary Trotskyism' along the lines that Davidson wrote in the early 1970s. Relative to real Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism has flourished in the U.S. in the period of the 1980s to the early 2000s. I think a big reason for this is the relative weakness of oppressed nationality movements within the U.S. and the national liberation movements and socialist countries in the rest of the world. While the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary oppressed nationality groups were strong, Trotskyism was largely relegated to the edges of where the real mass motion was happening. While the Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, etc were fighting real liberation wars against U.S. imperialism and in some cases starting to build socialism, most revolutionaries in the U.S. could see that it made sense to support those forces, which left the Trotskyist groups that thrive on critiquing real mass liberation movements, on the sidelines. But as the oppressed nationality movements have been weak since the 1980s, there hasn't been a strong enough voice showing the problems with Trotskyist politics, and some Trot groups have been able to spread and grow without ever seriously having their line on national oppression and national liberation challenged.

But in the mid-2000s, it seems some changes may be in the cards. The explosive growth of the immigrant rights movement and the strengthening of other oppressed nationality movements within the U.S., combined with resurgent national liberation movements and socialist advances in various parts of the world, are making it hard for Trotskyism's First-World chauvanism to continue to go unchallenged. As real revolutionary movements grow in Latin America and Asia, the contradictions in Trotskyist analyses become clearer and easier to point out. That's because in the face of real revolutionary movements, most Trotskyists at some point break into their seemingly proud habit of denouncing the real movement from the sidelines.

Left Spot will try to contribute to this process, and will be happy to print good, M-L critiques of contemporary Trotskyism. As I find politically solid critiques, I will gather them together and add them to a new section in the Left Spot Special Collections.

Disclaimer: This is not to deny that there are some Trotskyist groups that do some good work in mass movements and make real contributions to the struggle. The point is to look at the overall ideology of Trotskyism and why it leads to some pretty consistent political errors among its adherents.

http://www.leftspot.com/blog/?q=node/123
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2007-12-18 00:48 | 6 楼
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