MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | TONY CLARK

THE DIALECTICAL WORLD REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS

Communist Party Alliance: An Open Letter To Trotskyists

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.

The post-Lenin 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 fighting bureaucracy.

Marxist- Leninists 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 of Lenin.

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 revolutionary process.

Unlike Lenin, 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

‘…reveal the 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 dialectical process.

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.

Trotsky wanted 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?

The opportunists 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 imperialism.

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 Trotsky.

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 historical reality.

Trotsky’s ‘either’ 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.

The ‘either’ 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).

Although dialectics 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.

For the 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 approach.

The world 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 dialectics.

Without a doubt, Trotsky is one of the major inspirer of these slogans.

Because for 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

‘Dialectics is 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; p.392).

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 ‘national’ socialism.

Trotskyists still 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 revolutionary process.

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.

‘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 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; p.325).

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.

However, 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 absolutely clear.

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.

All Trotskyists have, verbatim, repeated this lie since Trotsky first promulgated it. Perhaps, with justification we can call this the Trotsky school of falsification.

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 non-Marxist-Leninist left.

The anti-Stalin writer, Fernando Cludin, in his book ‘The Communist Movement’, has a section under the heading: Stalin as Revisionist: Complete Socialism in a single Country.

Stalin, who 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.

All the petty-bourgeois distorters 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 process.

In other words, Stalin is labelled, quite nonchalantly, as a revisionist for defending Lenin.

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 dishonesty?

Marxist-Leninists 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.

Before the 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.

What later 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:

"The 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 trap.

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 Lenin’s theory.

Trotsky’s attempt 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 unconsciously?

Stalin defended 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 Soviet Union.

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 dialectics!

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 pro-Stalin.

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.

Soviet bureaucrats 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:

"the Soviet 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.

The Trotskyist 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 of Trotskyists.

Marxist-Leninists 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.

Rather than 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.

Trotskyist talk 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 Trotskyist ideologues.

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 itself.

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.

Trotsky’s rejection 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 revolutionary process.

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.

By rejecting 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 bureaucracy.

Stalin attacked 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.

Those who argue that Stalin used the bureaucracy as a base for his support reveal an amazing ignorance not only about bureaucracy, but even more so about Stalin. What we can say for certain is that Trotsky’s view that the Soviet bureaucracy was pro-Stalin is a fictional account; the theory of the Stalinist bureaucracy exists in the imagination of Trotskyists. The evidence available to us suggests that the Soviet bureaucracy was more anti-Stalin than pro-Stalin.

These matters, related above, concern all those who seek to educate the working class, in particular in the first place, its vanguard, and who desire to bring about workers unity in the struggle against capitalism.

Tony Clark, March 23, 2004