TROTSKY founded his
Fourth International on two great falsehoods; the first was that
Stalin was the original author of the theory of ‘socialism in one
country’, and the second was that a ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy took
over in the Soviet Union.
A summary of the
Trotskyist interpretation of history would go something like this:
after the death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin revised Leninism by putting
forward the theory of socialism in one country, which gave
expression to the national narrow minded interest of a conservative
Soviet bureaucracy in the process of degeneration. Trotsky and his
followers fought this bureaucracy but having failed, concluded that
this ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy could only be overthrown by means of a
political revolution. Subsequently, Trotsky established the Fourth
International to oppose socialism in one country and the ‘Stalinist’
bureaucracy, in the interest of extending the world revolution.
Below, I will
explain that this exegesis, which succeeds in turning reality on its
head, is the complete antithesis to Leninism. All those who seek to
build new working class parties which can put an end to capitalist
exploitation, will have no recourse but to return to
Marxism-Leninism, the view point of the revolutionary elements in
the working class movement.
struggle between Stalin and Trotsky in the Soviet Communist Party
concerning the nature of the world revolutionary process raises the
issue: for or against dialectics. The problem of how to defeat
bureaucracy in a society undergoing socialist transformation raises
the issue: for Leninism or an anarchistic left-communist approach to
view Marxism as an expression of dialectics; this precludes them
from taking the position that Trotsky represented the continuation
of Leninism, as the following will briefly make clear. In our
opinion, the view that Trotsky represented continuity with Lenin is
the result of a petty-bourgeois leftist ideology, based on the
negation of dialectics, combined with an element of dishonesty.
However, we will
not make such an assertion, so broad and encompassing, without
substantiating it with irrefutable evidence, which can be checked by
any person who cares to make the effort. Indeed, no impartial court
of law, if presented with all the relevant documentary evidence,
would support Trotsky’s claim to being the legatee of the life work
One reason for the
advanced workers to oppose the claim that Trotskyism is the
‘Leninism of today’, stems from our determination to uphold
dialectical logic. Anyone who upholds dialectical reasoning and
practice cannot simultaneously argue that Trotskyism represents
Leninism, or take Trotsky’s side in the theoretical disputes, which
divided the communist movement after the death of Lenin. This letter
will briefly outline the general features of the two important
issues of the immediate post-Lenin period. At the heart of the
post-Lenin disputes in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
was the question of whether or not to pursue a dialectical or
non-dialectical approach regarding the nature of the world
Trotsky’s theory of the world revolutionary process was of a
pseudo-leftist character, having certain similarities with Lenin’s
position, although a different theory. The simple procedure of
applying dialectic logic to the world revolutionary process compels
Marxist-Leninists to reject the either world revolution or socialism
in one country thesis of Trotsky and his followers.
Trotsky said of his
theory of the world revolutionary process, in a way that is
splendidly concise and clear: ‘Either permanent revolution or
socialism in one country’. (Leon Trotsky: The Permanent
Revolution-1928; New Park Publication; 1962; p. 11).
This was not a mere
passing remark; in the same work, Trotsky repeated the idea, which
runs, like a thread, through the whole history of Trotskyism from
1924 onwards. Trotsky explained that his aim was to
full significance of the struggle over principles which was
carried on in recent years, and is being carried on right now in
the shape of two contrasting theories: socialism in one country
versus the permanent revolution. (Trotsky: op. cit. p. 33).
In fact, the
Stalin/Trotsky disputes in the post-Lenin years are here
misrepresented by Trotsky, because these struggles were basically
over matters of strategy and tactics, and rarely, if ever, over
questions of principles.
Whatever one may
think of Trotsky’s version of the theory of permanent revolution, it
is clear that Trotsky’s either/or methodology is a repudiation of
dialectics in that it applies an anti-dialectical method to a
Regardless of the
views that some people may have of Stalin, he led the grouping that
maintained a Leninist dialectical approach to the world
revolutionary process, in which the part, socialism in one country,
was never separated from the whole, i.e., international revolution.
Following the death
of Lenin in 1924, Trotsky sought to polarise, or split communists on
an anti-dialectical basis. This is to say that the arguments he used
were not based on Leninism or dialectics.
communists to take sides, or choose between what he considered two
diametrically opposed lines. For Trotsky, this was ‘either’ you
support socialism in one country, or you support world revolution
(i.e., Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory). Trotsky saw socialism
in one country as opposed to world revolution. On this issue,
dialectics never came into his thinking at all.
Later, the whole
international Trotskyist movement based itself on a fundamental
repudiation of dialectical logic, failing to see that it was never a
question of socialism in one country versus world revolution.
To many of the
participants in the post-Lenin disputes between Stalin and Trotsky,
over socialism in one country and its relation to world revolution,
the debate may have assumed an aspect of novelty. But Lenin had
originally taken up this debate after 1914 when the opportunists,
i.e. international social democracy, that is to say Menshevism, had
betrayed the working class in their individual countries by using
similar arguments, which Trotsky was later to deploy against Stalin
after Lenin died. Trotsky himself had taken part in this debate,
making contributions from a leftist viewpoint.
What was one of the
arguments of the opportunists in the Second International after they
supported their own bourgeoisie in the First Imperialist World War?
argued that they had not betrayed socialism because socialism was
only possible internationally. Lenin was forced to defend the idea
that socialism in one country was possible as part of the world
revolutionary process. Lenin based this argument on his study of
The debate about
socialism in one country and its relation to international
revolution did not begin with Stalin and Trotsky; it began with
Lenin and the opportunists, in which Trotsky intervened, and later
this debate reappeared as a debate, or dispute, between Stalin and
The argument that
this debate first appeared in the Bolshevik Party after the death of
Lenin in 1924 belongs to the realm of Trotskyist mythology, not
socialism in one country, ‘or’ international revolution presented an
open repudiation of Leninism pure and simple. In regard to the
question of socialism in one country and international revolution,
Lenin had rejected the ‘either/or’ approach of Trotsky in his
polemics with the opportunists in the Second International.
socialism in one country ‘or’ world revolution position was clearly
to apply an anti-dialectical approach to a living dialectical
process. If matter moves dialectically, how can one apply
non-dialectical concepts to it and hope to capture the real
movement. It is the dialectical movement itself that should, and
does, suggest a dialectical approach.
I believe that
dialectical logic, the dialectical approach, is the foundation of
both Marxism and Leninism, and it is clear from his writings that
Trotsky only began to study dialectics at a very late date in his
political evolution. (See Trotsky’s: In Defence of Marxism).
is the foundation of Marxism and Leninism, this does not preclude
communists making mistakes, but we should all be guided by
dialectics. This is why it is necessary to oppose Trotsky and those
who have been blinded by him to viewing the dialectical world
revolutionary process in a non-dialectical way, as socialism in one
country or world revolution. Simply put, socialism in one, or
several countries and the world revolution are different sides of
the same coin. The Trotskyists toss this coin and call out head or
tail, but in reality, both sides are inseparably linked.
It was wrong and
counterrevolutionary to needlessly split, or try to split, the
international communist movement on an argument based on a
repudiation of dialectics. The heads or tails approach cannot be
applied to the dialectical process of world revolution.
dialectician it can never be a question of ‘socialism in one country
or the international revolution’. Thus, only people not versed in
elementary Marxist-Leninist dialectics could countenance Trotsky’s
revolutionary process unfolds through the particular transforming
itself into the universal. Hence arises the possibility of socialism
in one country, resulting from uneven development, leading on to the
international, or world revolution.
Without a doubt,
Marxism-Leninism has been vindicated as regarding the dialectical
nature of the world revolutionary process.
Only those who
reject dialectical logic, or perhaps are unconscious of it, would
oppose Lenin, who dialectically viewed socialism in one country as
an integral part of the world revolutionary process. The slogan of
the CPGB (Weekly Worker) or the SWP, that socialism is ‘either’
international ‘or’ is nothing stems from a profound rejection of
dialectics. Such slogans have nothing to do with Leninism or
Without a doubt,
Trotsky is one of the major inspirer of these slogans.
Marxist-Leninists, the world revolutionary process is a dialectical
process, whereby the particular, socialism in one country, is
transformed into the universal, i.e., world revolution, this
dialectical world revolutionary process requires dialectical
thinking. Lenin, correctly, had earlier warned against those who
neglected dialectics in his remark that
the theory of knowledge of (Hegel and) Marxism. This is the
"aspect" of the matter (it is not "an aspect" but the essence of
the matter) to which Plekhanov, not to speak of other Marxists,
paid no attention. (V. I. Lenin: cw.vol.38; p.362).
As already pointed
out, Trotsky rejected the dialectical nature of the world
revolutionary process; demanding communists make a choice between
world revolution and socialism in one country. Had the Soviet
leadership made such a choice it would have constituted a crass
repudiation of both Leninism and dialectical logic and practice.
It should be clear
to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of dialectics to see
that Trotskyism is founded on a rejection of dialectics as regard
the world revolutionary process. This is why Trotsky posing the
issue as one of either socialism in one country or international
revolution has to be rejected in favour of a dialectical approach to
this issue. The essence of the Trotskyist position was that
socialism could not be built in one country.
However, we find
Lenin arguing the very opposite to Trotsky in several revealing
passages, but I consider the most concrete expression of Lenin’s
view on this issue is in relation to Russia, as a particular case.
‘As a matter of
fact, the political power of the Soviet over all large-scale
means of production, the power in the state in the hands of the
proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many
millions of small and very small peasants, the assured
leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc, …is not
this all that is necessary in order from the co-operatives -
from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as
huckstering, and which, from a certain aspect, we have the right
to treat as such now, under the new economic policy - is not
this all that is necessary in order to build a complete
socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist
society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this
building’. (See Lenin’s article on co-operation, Vol. 27;
For Lenin, Soviet
power over all large scale means of production, state power in the
hands of the proletariat, in addition to an alliance with the small
and very small peasantry, with the leadership of the peasant masses
by the proletariat, on the basis of the co-operatives, was the basis
to build ‘a complete socialist society’ in the Soviet Union.
This was not a
pronouncement by Stalin, but by Lenin, the political and theoretical
leader of the Russian socialist revolution.
Lenin’s article on
co-operation should be recommended reading for all communists. Lenin
identifies, in Russian conditions, ‘all that is necessary in order
to build a complete socialist society’.
This did not make
Lenin an advocate of ‘national’ socialism, but when Stalin defended
this self-same position, Trotsky denounced him as advocating
denounce Stalin in similar terms today, many unaware that they are
thereby denouncing Lenin. The above passage from Lenin is a
remarkable statement, which stands as an irremovable monument, in
the refutation of Trotskyism regarding the question of whether
socialism could be built in the specific conditions of the Soviet
Union. Remarkable, certainly, but not surprising.
The citation from
Lenin’s article, ‘On Co-operation’, gives a concrete expression, in
a particular situation, of one side of Lenin’s theory of the world
What was Lenin’s
theory of the world revolutionary process in regard to socialism?
This is an important question because most Trotskyists seem to be
unaware that Lenin had a theory of the world revolutionary process,
although they are aware of Trotsky’s theory of this process in the
form of his permanent revolution. I consider that the following sums
up Lenin’s position more than adequately.
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 singly’. (V. I.
Lenin: Selected Works, Eng. Ed. Vol. 5; August 1915; p.141).
This was no passing
remark by Lenin, or a slip of the pen. In the autumn of 1916, at the
height of the First Imperialist war, he repeated the same argument;
Lenin’s theory of the world revolutionary process had become
explicit, beyond any possibility of misrepresentation:
‘The development of
capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in the various countries. It
cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From
this, it follows irrefutably that Socialism cannot achieve victory
simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in
one or several countries, while the others will remain bourgeois or
pre-bourgeois for some time’. (V. I. Lenin: C. W. Russ. Ed. Vol. 19;
Although there is
no reason to go into it here, we can briefly point out that Lenin
advocated that, the foreign policy of the socialist state with the
non-socialist states should be based on peaceful co-existence. In
fact, the slogan ‘peace’ formed one of the catalysts, which
propelled the Bolsheviks to power in 1917. Later, Soviet
Khrushchevite revisionism distorted and turned Lenin’s policy into a
revisionist policy that preached that oppressed classes should live
in peace with oppressor classes, and oppressed nations should live
in peace with oppressor nations, a view, which needless to say, is
the ideological essence of social-democracy, whose representatives
serve the interest of big business.
Lenin advanced this
theory of the world revolutionary process in August 1915, in his
article ‘On the slogan for a United States of Europe’; He repeated
this theory again in the autumn of 1916, in his article ‘War
Programme of the Proletarian Revolution’. Many critics of Stalin,
including of course Trotsky, have interpreted this passage to mean
Lenin was here referring only to the revolutionary seizure of power
and not the building of socialism in one country. However, Lenin’s
later article ‘On Co-operation’ far from lends any credence to this
line of argument; in fact, it undermines it completely.
When the Bolsheviks
had taken power, democratically, in the Soviets, they had expected
the revolution to spread and come to power in a number of other
countries as well. At the time, all hopes were centred on Germany.
imperialism was able to beat back the revolution and regain control.
It is at this point that Lenin’s theory of the world revolutionary
process in regard to socialism became a contentious issue almost
seven years after 1917.
All the evidence
suggests that had Lenin lived, he would have continued to defend his
own theory of building socialism in one country as part of the world
revolutionary process, as his article On Co-operation makes
Lenin’s theory of
the world revolutionary process has been contested consistently by
Trotskyists, who argue that when Stalin defended Lenin’s theory,
this made him a revisionist. In fact, Trotsky was prepared to go
further and openly try to falsify the theoretical history of the
Bolshevik party with the claim that the theory of socialism in one
country was invented by Stalin in 1924.
have, verbatim, repeated this lie since Trotsky first promulgated
it. Perhaps, with justification we can call this the Trotsky school
Many generations of
workers and Left-wing intellectuals have been indoctrinated into
this fable. It remains a puzzle why Trotsky decided to attribute
Lenin’s theory to Stalin in such an openly dishonest manner.
Trotsky’s falsification went on to influence everyone on the
writer, Fernando Cludin, in his book ‘The Communist Movement’, has a
section under the heading: Stalin as Revisionist: Complete Socialism
in a single Country.
defended Lenin’s theory of the world revolutionary process, is
denounced as a revisionist, while those who have blatantly revised
Leninism on the same issue call themselves Leninists. This is a good
example of how Trotskyist left-opportunism wears the mask of
Leninism for its own purposes.
and corrupters of Marxism-Leninism, from the British Socialist
Workers Party, to the American based left-communist Spartacist
Tendency; in fact, all Leftist groups, parties and individuals who
have come under Trotsky’s intellectual influence, attack Stalin for
defending Lenin’s dialectical theory of the world revolutionary
In other words,
Stalin is labelled, quite nonchalantly, as a revisionist for
What are we to make
of this? For instance, how was an individual like Trotsky able to
make the baseless claim that he was the continuator of Leninism,
while completely opposing Lenin’s theory of the revolutionary
process in regard to socialism? Perhaps a more important, or at
least not less relevant, question is: to what extent is this
mythology believed in sections of the proletarian vanguard? This
however, would be to raise another issue, which is unnecessary here.
Can anyone blame
the Marxist-Leninists for having a dim view of Trotskyist
intellectual and theoretical ability, not to mention opportunist
cannot criticise Trotsky’s right to oppose Lenin’s theory of the
world revolutionary process if he disagreed with it. What cannot be
accepted is the spurious and opportunist manoeuvre of Trotsky,
expressed in the claim that Stalin was revising Lenin on this
question. One need not be a rocket scientist to see that it was
Trotsky, and those who follow him, who are the real revisionists.
Trotsky was a
member of the Bolshevik Party when Lenin wrote his article clearly
outlining what was necessary to build a complete socialist society
within the context of the Soviet Union. We would expect then to find
Trotsky taking issue with Lenin on this very question. But all we
hear is resounding silence. If Trotsky failed to make it an issue
with Lenin, why, we can rightly ask, did he make it an issue with
Stalin? In our view the answer is simple: the issue was a mask for
Trotsky’s struggle for power, on the one hand, and on the other, an
opportunity to replace Lenin’s theory of the revolutionary process
with is own.
revolution, Trotsky had openly opposed Lenin’s theory of the world
revolutionary process. But the victory of Leninism in the workers
movement in Russia, its obvious prestige amongst communists, meant
Trotsky’s opposition had to be concealed, or at least put on the
back burner, so to speak.
transpired is that, as soon as Lenin was removed from the
leadership, Trotsky’s latent opposition to Leninism exploded. He was
no longer prepared to restrain his opposition. However, Trotsky was
shrewd enough to present his rejection of Lenin’s theory of the
world revolutionary process as opposition to Stalin. On an
intellectual theoretical level, this opportunist manoeuvre formed
the basis for his undoing. As Stalin explained, Trotsky had opposed
the Leninist theory of the world revolutionary process even before
the revolution of 1917:
opposition’s mistake is that it tried imperceptibly to liquidate
Lenin’s teaching on the possibility of the victory of socialism
in one country…It is now no secret to anyone that as far back as
1915, two years before the October revolution, Lenin proclaimed
the thesis, on the basis of the law of uneven economic and
political development in the conditions of imperialism, "the
victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one
capitalist country taken singly…It is now no secret to anyone
that it was none other than Trotsky who, in that same year of
1915, opposed Lenin’s thesis in the press and declared that to
admit the possibility of the victory of socialism in separate
countries "is to fall prey to that very national
narrow-mindedness which constitutes the essence of
social-patriotism". (J. V. Stalin: Works, Vol. 10; p. 81).
In other words, one
of the reasons for Trotsky’s theoretical defeat in the Soviet
Communist Party was because he attempted to replace Lenin’s theory
with his own under false pretences, that is to say he was caught
lying at the highest political level of the working class, i.e. the
communist vanguard. Stalin knew that Trotsky had fallen into his own
Lenin’s theory of
the world revolutionary process is a dialectical theory, which
avoids the ‘either’ socialism in one country ‘or’ international
revolution schemata of Trotskyism. Stalin’s later upholding of this
theory in the face of the post-Lenin Trotskyist onslaught, saved the
Soviet Union from collapse in the most inauspicious circumstances.
The actual process of world revolutionary is a vindication of
to take the Bolshevik fortress from within was shattered on the
foundation of Leninist dialectics. Just imagine what would have
happened if a grouping opposing Lenin’s view, that on the basis of
the co-operatives, state control over large scale means of
production, together with an alliance with the peasantry, socialism
could be built in Russia, had taken over the leadership of the
communist party, or who had even influenced it intellectually on
this question. A leadership preaching to the communists that
socialism was impossible in one country, on this basis, would have
been a leadership which had capitulated to Menshevism (for the
Mensheviks were attacking Leninism on essentially the same lines).
Such a leadership would have demoralised the Soviet communists and
working class. Trotskyist and Menshevik defeatism would have
embolden the bourgeois counterrevolution; for once it was accepted,
against Lenin’s advice, that socialism was impossible in the Soviet
Union (and no one knew when the revolution would spread), then the
only logical outcome would be bourgeois counterrevolution.
For Stalin, the
defeat of Trotskyism was imperative; in fact, Stalin saw it as a
life or death question. Why?
This was because
the logic of Trotsky’s position leads to defeatism. Every setback
for the Russian or world revolution would strengthen and encourage
defeatism on the question of building socialism in the Soviet Union.
That Trotskyism was
the embodiment of defeatism in relation to building socialism in the
Soviet Union should be clear to anyone who seriously ponders the
issue from all sides.
The whole essence
of Stalin’s struggle against Trotskyism in the Soviet Union can be
summed up as the struggle to silence Trotskyist/Menshevik defeatism
about the possibility of building socialism in the Soviet Union.
Certainly, Stalin derived a great deal of Kudos from the fact that
Lenin had indicated that it could be done. Who can doubt that all
those siren voices protesting against the possibility of building
socialism in the Soviet Union were in fact serving the interest of
the bourgeois counterrevolution, even if some of them did so
Leninism, not Trotskyism, and this included the question of the
dialectical nature of the world revolutionary process. Stalin was
perfectly correct, from the standpoint of dialectics, to oppose
Trotsky’s either/or methodology. To side with Stalin on this issue
was therefore to side with dialectics.
The working class
and the progressive movement have Stalin to thank for defeating the
Trotskyist view about the impossibility of socialism in one country.
This was about uprooting Trotskyist defeatism in relation to the
It is hard to see
how the Soviet Union could have survived the long years of isolation
on the basis of Trotsky replacing Lenin’s theory of the world
revolutionary process with his own anti-dialectical theory, summed
up as ‘either’ socialism in one country ‘or’ world revolution, or as
we have noted, the left-communist Weekly Worker would say, socialism
is international or it is ‘nothing’. One would have to search long
and hard to find a more incredibly ignorant repudiation of
Take the question
of Cuba as a test case. Would Fidel Castro be right to fight
against, and even expel from the Cuban Communist Party
‘left-communist’ who went around demoralising the Cuban people with
a Trotsky type argument that socialism in Cuba was impossible? Who
could blame a revolutionary leadership for locking up such
individuals to protect the revolutionary class from this
pro-imperialist defeatist poison?
This is not to say
that under certain conditions, socialism would not be impossible,
but such a conclusion should not be presented a priori, but rather
be a result of concrete analysis.
All those siren
voices on the left protesting against the possibility of building
socialism in the Soviet Union, in fact were objectively servants of
the bourgeois counterrevolution. To protect the working class from
this defeatist preaching, in other words from counterrevolution,
such preachers were expelled from the party, and if they persisted,
were locked up. These were dangerous times to be sure, and no risk
could be taken as far as the Soviet leadership was concerned.
Instead of viewing
socialism as a process ‘left-communists’ of every stripe, attack
attempts in any country to break from the spiders-web of capitalist
exploitation. The bourgeoisie call working class political power
Stalinist dictatorship. In a similar vein, the petty-bourgeois left
refers to the Stalinist bureaucracy.
That the Soviet
bureaucracy was ‘Stalinist’ or pro-Stalin is one of the great
mythologies of modern political history invented by Trotsky and
repeated by the petty bourgeois left. If the Soviet bureaucracy was
really pro-Stalin, as the Trotskyists claim, Stalin must have been
the only one who was unaware of this state of affairs. That the
Soviet bureaucracy was not pro-Stalin is underlined by the fact that
Stalin, and this is entirely on record, devoted a great deal of his
time in fighting and purging it of dubious elements, including of
course, using the mass purge. One academic writer even claims that
Stalin came perilously close to undermining the administrative
apparatus through such purges.
When such claims
are made they certainly belie Trotsky’s factionally motivated theory
about the existence of a Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.
In fact, such claims give support to the argument in favour of the
existence of a Soviet bureaucracy that was more anti-Stalin than
Maybe the purges
were Stalin’s attempt to make the Soviet bureaucracy more
‘Stalinist’. In any case, it is ludicrous in the extreme to assume
that someone like Stalin would have based himself on the shifting
sands of bureaucracy for his support. Stalin knew exactly what the
bureaucracy was, and took no chances in relation to it.
and other specialists had been given certain privileges after the
revolution, a system first introduced by Trotsky in regard to
officer caste of the Red Army. Lenin had regarded these concessions
as unavoidable, a retreat of the revolution, imposed by
backwardness. This is part of the explanation of the constant purges
under Stalin to keep the bureaucracy in check. If these bureaucrats
were pro-Stalin, then the purges become inexplicable.
I have referred to
Trotsky’s opposition to Lenin’s theory of the world revolutionary
process, which opposes Lenin’s view that socialism in one country is
part of this world process, to Trotsky’s view that presents a choice
between world revolution or socialism in one country. However,
Trotsky went further in his opposition to Leninism. Having labelled
the Soviet bureaucracy ‘Stalinist’, Trotsky descended into
left-communist anarchism, embodied in the slogan calling for a
political revolution to overthrow the Soviet or ‘Stalinist’
bureaucracy. Lenin opposed the left-communist view that bureaucracy
could be ‘overthrown’. The State and its bureaucracy is something
that ‘withers’ away, with the help of communists.
Although Lenin did
not live long enough to begin an in-depth theorisation on the
question of bureaucracy, he did lay a basis for an orientation when
he made the observation that there was a class struggle going on in
the Soviet State apparatus. He also admonished that
‘It will take
decades to overcome the evils of bureaucracy. It is a very difficult
struggle, and anyone who says we can rid ourselves of bureaucratic
practice overnight by adopting anti-bureaucratic platforms is
nothing but a quack with a bent for fine words’. (V. I. Lenin: CW.
Vol. 32; pp. 56-57).
The class struggle
going on in Soviet and party offices, in essence was what led Stalin
to unleash the purges, the struggle against concealed revisionist
capitalist roaders and those leftist who had formed alliances with
them. Many years later, Mao followed Stalin’s example. The former
had come up against the same problem as Stalin. The revisionists
were running the State apparatus of socialism. This does not mean
that the bureaucracy had political power as such. Lenin had noted
the rise of this stratum in the Soviet State apparatus, which he
referred to as pampered or as bureaucratic grandees:
bureaucrats, the pampered 'grandees' of the Soviet Republic."
(V. I. Lenin: CW. Vol. 32; p.132).
If you are a
petty-bourgeois revolutionary, and you do not like a bureaucracy,
you can call it ‘Stalinist’. But this does not change the fact that
Lenin poked fun at those who sought to abolish bureaucracy
overnight. Smashing the bourgeois-tsarist bureaucracy was one thing,
but it had to be replaced by another, socialist bureaucracy, which
would wither away. Trotskyists may well argue that, they do not want
to abolish all bureaucracy immediately; it is just the ‘Stalinist’
bureaucracy, which they want to overthrow.
theory that the Stalin group in the CPSU represented the Soviet
bureaucracy would be as false as would be the argument that Lenin’s
group had represented it before Stalin.
Such an argument is
still seriously flawed, because they would have to prove there was a
specifically ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy. I have argued that there was
no such thing. On an ideological level, I would argue that all
bureaucracies are heterogeneous. I see no reason to make the Soviet
bureaucracy an exception to this general rule. Consequently I
profess the view that there was and is no such thing as a
‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy, except in the lurid or leftist imagination
reject the Trotskyist view about overthrowing a bureaucracy in the
period of socialist transformation. The fact that the Trotskyists
label a bureaucracy ‘Stalinist’ does not make any difference to the
essence of the question.
espousing the anarchist line of overthrowing a bureaucracy, by means
of a political revolution, Marxist-Leninists refer instead to
overthrowing the counterrevolutionary elements within the
bureaucracy by means of the purge. On this question also, Stalin
followed in Lenin’s footsteps.
about overthrowing the ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy is to treat
bureaucracy, de facto, as a class, regardless of all protestations
to the contrary. The concept ‘bureaucracy’ and the concept ‘class’
are different concepts. To talk about bureaucracy and to talk about
class or caste are to talk about two different things. That
Trotskyists related to the Soviet bureaucracy as a specific class,
disguised by the term ‘caste’ is exposed by the call for a political
revolution to overthrow it.
In view of the
extensive purges within the Soviet bureaucracy, described by one
anti-communist writer as the permanent purge, it would be truer to
reality, and therefore make far more sense, if we spoke of the
existence within the Soviet Union of an anti-Stalinist bureaucracy.
The purges were merely one expression of this fact.
Stalin would have
seen no need, and, indeed, there would have been little need to
purge a bureaucracy, so extensively, and repeatedly, had it been
pro-Stalinist. This simple fact escapes the purview of the
Stalin may have
been interested in creating a ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’, but there is
nothing to suggest that such a hazardous undertaking was achieved,
or could have been, given the intrinsic nature of bureaucracy
There is an
anecdotal joke about the Soviet bureaucracy along the following
lines: Trotsky becoming impatient with the course of the factional
struggle against Stalin, eventually turns to a detachment of the Red
Army to march on the Kremlin and arrest Stalin and the Soviet
leadership. The bureaucrats having got wind of this immediately give
orders that pictures of Stalin be removed from their office walls
and be replaced by pictures of Trotsky.
This is not a
purely anecdotal story. The ultra-left, rabidly anti-Stalin writer,
Ruth Fischer, who was at the same time a Comintern insider, and a
one time leader of the ultra-left faction in the German communist
party in the 1920s, confides in one of her works, that the Soviet
Left-opposition had viewed with interest Pilsudski’s military coup
against the Polish Government in 1926, and wondered if they could
not carry out a similar feat against Stalin.
The above anecdote
says more about the nature of bureaucracy, than Trotsky’s theory
about a ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. Trotsky needed
the existence of a specifically Stalinist bureaucracy to justify his
call for political revolution.
From all that has
been said above it should be clear to any unbiased mind, that it is
not enough to describe Trotskyism as a petty bourgeois distortion of
Leninism, it is certainly this, but in essence, theoretically it is
recognisably a different theory.
of the Leninist theory, i.e., the dialectical world revolutionary
process, and his attempted substitution of it with his ‘either/or’
dichotomy of socialism in one country or world revolution, has
served one purpose: this is to create division and undermine the
unity of the proletarian vanguard, those who want an end to
bourgeois exploitation of the masses.
As explained above,
and supported with irrefutable textual evidence, Lenin theorised a
world revolutionary process in relation to socialism, which would
unfold in stages. Socialism would begin in one or several countries.
Other countries would remain non-socialist for a period. However,
there is nothing in the doctrine of Leninism, which regards this
process as irreversible. On the contrary, the bourgeois exploiters
would make repeated attempts to reverse progress towards socialism.
This would be done either through external intervention, or through
internal counterrevolution, acting through the revisionists, or
taking advantage of ultra-left disruption. The issue that needs to
be addressed now concerns the present stage of the world
The debate about
whether socialism could be built in one or several countries, as
part of the world revolution, as indeed, Lenin argued it could, is
essentially now an academic debate, relating more to the past than
to the new phase of revolution which we are now entering in terms of
perspectives, which ought not to be confused with theory. Although
everyone can see that uneven development remains, i.e., rich and
poor countries are the dominant feature of imperialism, capitalism
has so integrated the world economy and communication, that the
outbreak of revolution in any one country today will not be faced
with decades of isolation. Revolution today will move rapidly from
one country to the next. Socialism, which began in one country, will
now find it completion through a rapid unfolding of world
revolution. The historic stage is now set for the complete
collapse of imperialism.
Lenin’s theory of the world revolutionary process, the recognition
that this process was indeed dialectical matter in motion, Trotsky,
in practice, rejected dialectic logic itself. His defeatist campaign
that socialism was impossible in the Soviet Union, a view
unsupported by Lenin, served the interest of the bourgeois-Menshevik
counterrevolution. This is an unfortunate conclusion for the
subjectively genuine revolutionary elements on the left that defend
Trotsky, but it is a conclusion, which cannot be avoided.
On the other hand,
failure to grasp the nature of bureaucracy in general and the Soviet
bureaucracy in particular, especially the fact that it was far more
anti-Stalin than Trotskyist propaganda misleadingly suggest, a view
supported by the purges directed at it by the Stalin leadership, led
Trotsky to advance the false theory of a Stalinist bureaucracy. This
view found support in many superficial minds. However, without a
doubt, one of the principal factors leading to this one-sided, or
abstract, morphological conclusion was the cult of the personality
generated around Stalin’s person. This personality cult helped
create the ideological basis for Trotsky’s myth of the Stalinist
this personality cult but could do little to restrain it. Although
not deceived by those elements who started the cult, Stalin may have
also viewed the cult not entirely negatively; it functioned as a
cement for the dictatorship of the proletariat, in a predominantly
backward, peasant country in the process of industrialisation