MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | TONY CLARK

THE FOUNDATIONS OF TROTSKYISM AND THE CONTINUING RELEVANCE OF THE STRUGGLE AGAINST IT.

Notes for a talk given to the Stalin Society on November 28th 2004 by Tony Clark.

 THE RELEVANCE OF THE STRUGGLE AGAINST TROTSKYISM.

 Why is the struggle against Trotskyism still relevant today, certainly in Britain, where this ideological outlook still commands substantial support in many left circles? The answer to this question is quite simply that if Marxist-Leninists do not win over the working class vanguard, then this potential vanguard will come under the increasing influence of Trotskyism. Hundreds of thousands of people, even millions, will turn to revolutionary politics in the near future. Many of them can be won over to Trotskyism in the absence of a Marxist-Leninist vanguard which can expose the pretensions of Trotskyism.

 Does it really make any difference who wins over the vanguard as long as capitalism is overthrown and exploitation done away with? I think the answer to this question is that it does make a difference.

 Any examination of Trotskyism should begin with Trotsky’s logical method. The ideological foundations of Trotskyism are a clear expression of the type of logical method which Trotsky uses to relate to the world and its processes. The best way to study a person’s logical method is through their ideas and views and to see how this relates to non-ideological phenomena.

 When Trotsky argued that it was ‘either socialism in one country or world revolution’ he was expressing his logical method which was anti-dialectical to the core. Not every issue is either/or.

        DIALECTICAL LOGIC.

 Every ideology or political line contains the method which gave rise to it. The method of Marxism-Leninism is dialectical logic. We could properly say that dialectics is the foundation of Marxism-Leninism. The struggle against Trotskyism is therefore a struggle for dialectics. The struggle for dialectics is, at the same time, a struggle against Trotskyism.

 This was, essentially, the view Lenin arrived at in 1921 during the Soviet trade union dispute, which caused the party crisis in the RCP (B)

 Dialectics requires that we avoid one-sidedness when examining a particular object or subject. We view the matter from all its sides in its integral unity and change through contradiction. Dialectical thinking means that we seek to disclose the contradiction in every object or process. It is a way of thinking which strives towards concreteness.

 Lenin on Trotsky’s logical method.

 In volume 32 Lenin pointed out the one-sided, abstract, methodological weakness of Trotskyism. This criticism by Lenin is still of importance because it lies at the root of all Trotsky’s main theoretical pronouncements. Trotskyism fails to absorb the richness of the concrete.

 It was Lenin who remarked, when reviewing Trotsky’s logical method in the trade union debate, that

 

‘All his theses are based on “general principle”, an approach which is in itself fundamentally wrong’. (Lenin: vol. 32; p.22).

 

What Lenin is saying is that thinking must not remain at the level of the general but must strive for particular concrete truth.

 

Lenin described Trotsky’s trade union theses as ‘high-brow’, ‘empty’ and ‘theoretically incorrect general theses’. (Lenin: VOL.32; p.85)

 

When we criticise an ideology or political line we are simultaneously criticising the method that led to it. The basic choices we face in this respect are either dialectics or eclectics. (Eclecticism is the method of combining different ideas together which have no logical relation in an attempt to form a complete picture.) This was how Lenin presented the issue. The problem for Trotsky was the inability to make a concrete analysis of a concrete situation or process on the basis of dialectics.

 

MAVRAKIS identifies this same methodological weakness in Trotsky. Kostas Mavrakis puts it in the following way: ‘The incapacity for concrete analysis which afflicted Trotsky throughout his militant life resulted from his failure to comprehend the materialist dialectic, an incomprehension even worse than Bukharin’s, although less flagrant, for prudently, he ventured only rarely into the higher spheres of Marxist philosophy’. (Kostas Mavrakis: On Trotskyism: Problems of theory and History.)             

 

For instance, when Trotsky or anyone else talks about ‘the bureaucracy’, this is the beginning of an analysis, although the concept ‘bureaucracy’ remains at this stage one-sided, and therefore abstract. For the concept to begin to live, i.e., to become concrete, one would need to know about the contradictions within the bureaucracy, the different stratums and groups within it, their interaction, etc. This is thinking becoming concrete and therefore dialectical.

 

It is this incapacityfor concrete analysis which defines Trotsky’s logical method; or more fully we can refer to an incapacity for concrete, dialectical analysis. Trotsky only seems to have taken up dialectics in his last work ‘In Defence of Marxism’, where he sets out to defend his theory of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers’ State against his opponents in the American Trotskyite movement.

 

So, either Marxism-Leninism, i.e. dialectics, wins over the revolutionary vanguard or eclectics, i.e., Trotskyism. This has political consequences. In the trade union dispute, for instance, Lenin warned that Trotsky’s position leads ‘…to the downfall of Soviet Power’. (Lenin: Vol.32; p.57)

 Lenin accused Trotsky of taking up the position of ‘the lunatic fringe’. (ibid.)

 In short, a person’s logical method leads to a political line or view, and this translates into a consequence for the class struggle. There is a clear relationship between Trotsky’s logical method and his ideological world-view and political positions which, needless to say, informs Trotskyite practice.

 

This is why the struggle against Trotskyism is still relevant. Those who say that that this struggle is not relevant, are essentially politically superficial, or ignorant people who do not know what they are talking about. Because revisionism from the right is the main danger at this time, this does mean we should ignore the struggle against Trotskyism. The role of the right-wing revisionists is to act as firemen for the bourgeoisie, to put out the flames of revolution. While the pseudo-leftists, on the other hand, run ahead of the spontaneous movement, sabotaging the movement from the ‘left’, so to speak.

 

CONTRASTING TROTSKYISM WITH MARXISM-LENINISM.

 

We can contrast Trotskyism with Marxism-Leninism on a range of issues, of either primary or secondary importance. This is what I will attempt to do on a number of issues which I consider to be of importance in understanding the differences between Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism.

 

PSEUDO-LEFT SECTARIANISM: THE MAIN FORM OF TROTSKYISM.

 

Sectarianism has been described as putting the interest of the group before the working class. This is the essence of sectarianism. The form is the refusal to work with other people when there is agreement. The above definition of Trotskyism sums up the idea that in fighting an ideological trend it is necessary to understand what it actually represents politically. In essence Trotskyism represents an opportunist form of sectarianism in regard to the class struggle. This is the basic political contradiction between Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism. Trotskyism is a form of sectarianism. Trotskyism is a pseudo-left, sectarian rival of Marxism-Leninism, which grows in influence wherever right-wing revisionism dominates the communist movement.

 

The class base of Trotskyism is the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia in the imperialist countries. It is important to point this out because the role of the petty-bourgeoisie in the working class movement is to introduce revisionism, right and left, into the communist movement for the sole purpose of undermining Marxism-Leninism. The undermining of Marxism-Leninism is the most important ideological goal of the bourgeoisie.

 

Many of those who have ideologically rejected Trotskyism still retain a sectarian practice. A good example of this latter category is the grouping around the EPSR, or the Economic, Philosophic Science Review. In 1979 this grouping broke from the old Healyite WRP, a party which supports Trotskyism. The EPSR claims to be anti-revisionist but still remains Trotskyite in its logical method and interpretation of communist history. For instance, their sectarian method leads them to condemn Stalin for supporting the peace movement of the early 1950s, although Stalin in his last work, ‘Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR’, clearly recognised the limitations of this peace movement, its reformist and pacifist nature. They ignore the simple fact that Marxist-Leninists can have a united-front with such elements. They criticise Stalin for not putting forward the line of revolutionary defeatism, although there was no general inter-imperialist war at the time.

 

Stalin had to conduct a struggle against both the left and right opportunists, against the Trotskyites and the right revisionists in the CPSU (b). who had commanded an influential following in the party. This struggle against the open and hidden revisionists in the communist movement is an on-going struggle.

 

Stalin cannot be properly understood without taking into consideration the struggle of the Marxist-Leninists, led by Stalin after Lenin’s death, against the Soviet revisionists in the party, State, and trade union apparatus.

 

Now we can look at some of the main points which historically reveal the differences between Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism on the political level. I have already highlighted the differences at the basic level of logical method. But before we begin we should ask: where does the nomenclature, Trotskyism, come from?

 

THE TERM “TROTSKYISM”:

 

Trotsky argued in his “Lessons of October” that the term “Trotskyism” was invented in the campaign against him in the battle for the succession. Is this True? This is absolutely untrue. The term “Trotskyite” and “Trotskyism” was used by none other than Lenin before the 1917 revolution, as the following passages show.

 

In the struggle against the Russian opportunists Lenin wrote, on September 11, 1911, that ‘…it is clear that Trotsky and the “Trotskyites and conciliators” like him are more pernicious than any liquidator…’ (V.I. Lenin: Vol.17; p.242- 44. [Liquidators were those who wanted to liquidate the underground party in favour of a legal organisation, Ed.)

 

On the question of Trotsky’s role in the revolutionary movement, Lenin remarked on this role as one of shielding the opportunists, ‘…there you have the essence of Trotskyism.’ (Lenin: Vol.17; p.242-44)

 

It is clear that Trotsky’s argument that the term “Trotskyism” was invented for factional reasons in the post-Lenin period by his opponents is a completely fraudulent argument.

 

THE PARTY QUESTION.

 

Trotsky began by opposing Lenin on the question of a disciplined, democratic centralist party. Lenin’s theory of the party is based on the conception that there are different levels of political consciousness in the working class, ranging from the politically advanced workers, to the average workers, and finally, the lower strata. Lenin’s struggle against opportunism is related to his theory of the party. In relation to this view he argued that the revolutionary newspaper should be aimed at the level of the advanced workers. Later Trotsky admitted he was wrong to oppose Lenin, but he went on to put forward a doctrine of party infallibility, claiming that one cannot be right against the party.

 

UNITY WITH MENSHEVIKS.

 

Trotsky’s failure to grasp the meaning of Lenin’s struggle for the party led him to advocate unity with the Mensheviks, and in 1912 he formed the August bloc to promote unity with these opportunists. Marxism-Leninism teaches that it is not possible to make a revolution and overthrow the bourgeoisie with opportunists in our ranks. This is something which those unfamiliar with Lenin’s struggle against opportunism have never learnt. The Trotskyites constantly seek to unite with the opportunists. They think the party can make the revolution with opportunists in its ranks. The notion that we can make the revolution with opportunists in the ranks of the party, not to mention those in influential positions, is a result of petty-bourgeois thinking. Lenin argued that all opportunists must be removed from important positions in the party before the socialist revolution of the working class. The Trotskyites are not alone in their desire to unite with the opportunists. Today the various shades of revisionism in Britain also seek to tie the working class to the pro-imperialist swamp of the reformist Labour Party, even to affiliate with this organisation long after it has established its pro-imperialist credentials. It is very important to stress that in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie Marxist-Leninists cannot unite in the same party with revisionists and reformists, left or right.

 

PERMANENT REVOLUTION.

 

Theoretically Trotsky began by putting forward his ultra-radical theory of permanent revolution following the 1905 revolution. Based on an abstract generalisation, it under estimates the role of the peasantry in the Russian revolution.

 

Later the Trotskyites failed to understand that the transition from the bourgeois democratic revolution to the socialist revolution so speedily was a direct result of the peculiar situation created by the First Imperialist World war.

 

THE TROTSKYITE UNDERESTIMATION OF THE PEASANTRY.

 

    1. Trotsky’s position on the peasantry in relation to socialism. ‘The nature of our socio-historical relations, which lays the whole burden of the bourgeois revolution upon the shoulders of the proletariat, will not only create tremendous difficulties for the workers’ government but, in the first period of its existence at any rate, will also give invaluable advantages. This will affect the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry’(L. Trotsky: Results and Prospects, 1906, in: The Permanent Revolution; New Park Publications July, 1962; 203) The Trotskyite view that the whole burden of the bourgeois revolution rested on the shoulders of the proletariat is, of course, completely opposed to Marxism-Leninism.

 

    1. ‘The attempts of the Russia of 3rd June to solve the internal revolutionary problems by the path of imperialism has resulted in an obvious fiasco. This does not mean that the responsible or semi-responsible parties of the third June regime will take the path of revolution, but it does mean that the revolutionary problem laid bare by the military catastrophe, will drive the ruling class still further along the path of imperialism, doubles the importance of the only revolutionary class in the country’. (L. Trotsky: op. cit. p.252) The underlined phrase above is completely removed from Marxism-Leninism. It suggests clearly that for Trotsky, the proletariat was the only revolutionary class in the Russian revolution.

 

 

    1. ‘In order to understand the subsequent conflict between Stalinism and Trotskyism, it is necessary to emphasise that, in consonance with all the Marxist tradition, Lenin never regarded the peasants as a socialist ally of the proletariat; on the contrary, it was the overwhelming preponderance of the peasantry which led Lenin to conclude that the socialist revolution was impossible in Russia’. (L. Trotsky: What Is The Permanent Revolution, three concepts of the Russian Revolution; Published by Spartacist, 1970; pages unnumbered) Again, above, we see Trotsky’s clear remove from Marxism-Leninism in the suggestion that Lenin never regarded the peasantry as a socialist ally of the proletariat. Here Trotsky’s incapacity for concrete analysis reveals itself clearly. He presents the question of the peasantry in a purely abstract way, failing to differentiate between the different strata of the peasantry. For Lenin, the peasantry as a whole was an ally of the proletariat in the bourgeois stage of the revolution, whereas, the lower strata of the peasantry were the allies of the proletariat when the revolution reached its socialist stage, and this could include even a section of the middle peasants.

 

    1. ‘On the occasions when Lenin accused me of “underestimating” the peasantry, he did not have in mind my failure to recognise the socialist tendencies of the peasantry but rather my failure to realise sufficiently, from Lenin’s point of view, the bourgeois democratic independence of the peasantry, its capacity to create its own power and through it impede the establishment of the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat’. (L. Trotsky: ibid) What is clear from above is that it was Lenin who first ‘accused’ Trotsky of underestimating the peasantry, and this comes from Trotsky’s pen. The other point is, as far as we know, Lenin never wrote about the ability of the peasantry to create its own power and impede the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat.

 

 

    1. Lenin’s position on the peasantry in relation to socialism: ‘there is no doubt that in a country where the overwhelming majority of the population consists of small agricultural producers, a socialist revolution can be carried out only through the implementation of a whole series of transitional measures which would be superfluous in a highly developed capitalist country where wage-workers in industry make up the vast majority’. (Lenin:Vol.32; p.214).

 

    1. On the question of the transition from the democratic to the socialist revolution. Anyone who reads Lenin’s April theses will see that in Lenin’s view this early transition was made possible by the peculiar conditions caused by the first world imperialist war.

 

THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT.

 

According to leading British Trotskyites, Alan Wood and Ted Grant, the Provisional Government was the negative expression of Lenin’s Democratic Dictatorship.(Alan Woods and Ted Grant, in: Lenin and Trotsky, what they really stood for: p. 75) BUT THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT WAS NOT LENIN’S DEMOCRACTIC DICTATORSHIOP OF THE PROLETARTIAT AND THE PEASANTRY, NEGATIVE OR OTHERWISE. The Provisional Government was the alliance between the proletariat and bourgeoisie which the Mensheviks had argued for. In 1917 Lenin fought to break up this alliance. For Lenin, the Democratic Dictatorship was the alliance between the workers and peasants in the Soviets

 

TROTSKY AND THE DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT AND PEASANTRY.

 

For Trotsky, a revolutionary, democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry was an impossibility. Writing in 1928, eleven years after the Russian revolution of 1917, on his theory of ‘permanent revolution’, Trotsky announced ‘…never in history has there been a regime of the “democratic dictatorship” of the proletariat and peasantry’. (L. Trotsky: The Permanent Revolution; New Park Publications; London, 1962; p.4)

 

Trotsky was wrong on this question as well. We need only to turn to Lenin’s ‘April Thesis’ to  see this.

 

LENIN AND THE DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT AND PEASANTRY.

 

Writing in his ‘April Thesis’ against those who could not see that the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry had come into being, Lenin pointed out that ‘ “The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies” – there you have the “revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” already accomplished in reality’. (V.I. Lenin: CW. Vol.24; pp.45-54)

 

So we see that even on this question regarding the possibility and even the existence of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism say opposite things. This is a question of different logical methods. On the one hand we see Trotsky’s logical method at work, one which restricts itself to making abstract generalisations without making any attempt to examine the concrete.

 

On the other hand, we see Lenin’s logical method at work, relating itself to the concrete facts. For Lenin, the Soviets, the workers and peasants power, was the concrete expression of the democratic dictatorship ‘already accomplished in reality’.

 

Trotsky was blinded to all this because the essential nature of his thinking means that he was unable to relate to the concrete. The democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry did not exist in Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, so he was unable to see it in reality, when it did come into existence.

 

THE ANTI-LENIN CONSPIRACY.

 

After the semi-insurrection of the July days in 1917, Lenin had to go into hiding and Trotsky took part in the anti-Lenin conspiracy, aimed at removing Lenin from the leadership of the Bolshevik party. Zinoviev and Kamenev opposed the seizure of power. Their motives were clear; both had opposed the Bolshevik party taking power alone and had the position that any transition to socialism would be premature. Trotsky joined those who argued that Lenin should present himself to the counterrevolutionary bourgeois courts. Trotsky’s motives were not determined by politico-strategic considerations, but rather by his long-standing rivalry with Lenin, whom Trotsky regarded as an obstacle to his own leadership of the revolution. The party became split between those who wanted Lenin to appear in court and those who were against his appearing. Lenin by going into hiding escaped the fate of Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht, who were murdered by the counterrevolution because they failed to go into hiding. Stalin led the camp of those against Lenin appearing in court. Later the Khrushchevite revisionists attempted to mislead people over this issue, claiming that Stalin was for handing Lenin over to the bourgeois courts.

 

BREST LITOVSK:

 

Trotsky’s position on refusing to signing peace at Brest-Litovsk expressed in the slogan ‘neither war nor peace’, helped the counterrevolution. (See Tony Clark: What is Trotskyism; p. 11) without a doubt the advance of the Kaiser’s army into the Ukraine strengthened the position of the Russian counterrevolution. Trotsky was told that at first he should use delaying tactics in his diplomacy with the German general staff until the latter made an ultimatum, upon which the Bolsheviks would accept. When those representing the German general staff eventually presented their ultimatum Trotsky went against the decisions of the Central Committee and refused to sign the peace.

 

LENIN ON BREST LITOVSK:

 

‘Trotsky’s tactics were correct as long as they were aimed at delaying matters; they became incorrect when it was announced that the state of war had been terminated but peace had not been concluded. I propose quite definitely that peace be concluded. We could not have got anything better than the Brest peace’. (V.I. Lenin: Reply to the debate on the political report of the C.C., March 8, 1918, in: Vol. 27. pp.110-17)

 

TROTSKY AND DEMOCRATIC-CENTRALISM.

 

Trotsky’s contempt for the elected leadership of the party is well known. We can illustrate this by referring to two episodes. The first is a story told by Stalin who was an eye-witness. At a Central Committee meeting of the party in 1923, Trotsky unceremoniously stormed out of the meeting, without looking back, when reminded by another C.C. member, named Komorov that all C.C. members are obliged to carry out C.C. decisions. According to Stalin, ‘Trotsky jumped up and left the meeting’. ( J.V. Stalin: Works 6; p.39)

 

A delegation was dispatched to ask Trotsky to return to the said Central Committee meeting, but they were petulantly rebuffed and sent packing. Stalin related the incident and drew his own appropriate conclusions. ‘Trotsky refused to comply with the request of the plenum, thereby demonstrating that he had not the slightest respect for his Central Committee’. (ibid)

 

MILITARISATION OF LABOUR.

 

The Soviet Trade Union dispute broke out in the post civil war period and was the first concerted attempt of the Trotskyite faction to gain control of the Bolshevik Party. In this dispute Trotsky had represented the bureaucratic tendencies in the party, State and trade unions. Stalin referred to Trotsky as the patriarch of bureaucrats. This was the image Trotsky had in the party. The party saw Trotsky as someone who favoured the bureaucrats.After the civil war when there began a period of peaceful construction, the Trotskyites sought to militarise the trade unions, calling for a shake-up of unions. Lenin argued that this policy led to the collapse of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Trotsky gave primary importance to a policy of coercion rather than persuasion. Commenting on Trotsky’s ‘shake-up’ policy for the unions, Lenin remarked that this policy ‘...looks more like a “reactionary movement” than “trade unionism”. ( V.I. Lenin: Vol.32; p.31)

 

LENIN’S VIEW ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF THE WORLD AND SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY.

 

In the retreat of the world revolution Trotsky opposed the policy of building socialism in one country as part of the world revolutionary process. Trotsky took the position that the choice was between world revolution and socialism in one country. ( This position meant completely going against dialectical logic)The opportunists in the Second International had betrayed the working class at the time of the of 1914-1918 war. In the individual countries they refused to lead the struggle against their own ruling class. Their excuse was that socialism was not possible in one country. This view later found an echo in Trotskyism. In several passages Lenin deals with the issue. The following is a good example: ‘ a United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the union and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism until the complete victory of communism brings about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic state. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of the United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others’. (V.I. Lenin. CW. Vol.21) It is quite clear from the above citation that Lenin saw the slogan for a United State of the World, at that time, as premature, first because this slogan merges with socialism, and secondly because, in Lenin’s own words… ‘it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others’.

 

TROTSKYITE OPPOSITION TO THE POLICY OF BUILDING SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY LEADS TO DEFEATISM. Marxist-Leninists argue: once it was accepted that in the conditions of the Soviet Union socialism could not be built and the world revolution had been delayed, then the logical development would be the restoration of capitalism. The Trotskyite position, although appearing left, actually, objectively speaking, served the interest of the bourgeois counterrevolution. The Mensheviks even praised Trotsky’s struggle against Stalin, viewing it as a means to bring down the Soviet regime. This was the view of the bourgeois counterrevolution in general in regard to the Trotskyite opposition.

 

LENIN ON COOPERATION, CULTURAL REVOLUTION AND INDUSTRIALISATION.

 

In his article ‘On Co-operation’, Lenin had viewed the system of co-operative enterprises as a form of transition to socialism. However, the masses had to be drawn into this movement by raising their cultural level. Lenin had attached great importance to this ‘cultural revolution’, remarking that ‘This cultural revolution would now suffice to make our country a completely socialist country’. (V.I. Lenin; January 6, 1923; CW. Vol. 33; p.475)

 

This of course was in complete opposition to what Trotsky and his followers were to claim in 1924, that socialism in one country was impossible. In the period of the NEP the left-opposition wanted industrialisation and collectivisation to begin when the party’s strength in the countryside was still tenuous. Stalin did not oppose the policy of industrialisation as such but rather the timing put forward by Trotsky’s faction. Here again we see how Trotskyism reveals its incapacity (as Mavrakis puts it) to make a concrete, dialectical analysis of the real world. In other words we see how the Trotskyite faction failed to take concrete conditions into account. The view that Stalin stole the policy of the Trotskyite ‘Left-opposition’ and then distorted it in the process of its application is nonsense. After all, why was the revolution made? As for the question of the distortion of the party line, it would be absurd to individually place the blame on Stalin for this.

    

THE 1926 GENERAL STRIKE AND THE ANGLO-RUSSIAN COMMITTEE.

 

In 1926 Trotsky denounced the alliance between the Soviet and British trades unions in the Anglo-Russian Committee, on the grounds that the TUC had betrayed the General Strike, although the committee was basically formed to prevent imperialist aggression against the Soviet Union. The Trotskyite faction ignored Lenin’s advice that communists must be prepared to form temporary alliances with vacillating unreliable allies. What the Trotskyites want to do here is to blame Stalin for the defeat of the General Strike, or to prove that he contributed to its defeat. This absurd position can only be maintained by people who ignore concrete factors. For instance, the small size of the communist party and its relative inexperience. We can include the arrest of the party leaders, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of the middle strata in the Britain of 1926 remained on the side of the bourgeoisie.

 

MARXISM-LENINISM AND REVOLUTION IN COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES.

 

Marxist-Leninists believe that in colonial type countries the revolution goes through two distinct but related stages. The first stage is that the working class should form an alliance with the national bourgeois to drive the imperialists out of the country. This is the stage of the national revolution. The second stage is transforming the anti-imperialist, national revolution into the socialist revolution, at the most opportune time.

 

TROTSKYISM AND REVOLUTION IN COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES.

 

Basing themselves on Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ theory, and rejecting the Leninist theory as a ‘two-stage’ theory, Trotskyites fight for imposing the socialist revolution at the beginning of every national revolutionary process in colonial-type countries. This leads to isolating the working class and strengthening the counterrevolution in such countries and improving the positions of imperialism.

 

THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST NATURE OF THE FIRST STAGE OF THE CHINESE REVOLUTION.

 

Trotsky’s criticism of the Comintern’s role in the Chinese revolution was of a pseudo-left character. In essence, Trotskyism’s advice to the weak Chinese working class was that it should take on the various imperialist powers, the feudal lords, and the bourgeoisie all at the same time. The Trotskyite position was based on the theory of permanent revolution. The essence of this theory is that it remains at the level of the general. It fails to take account of the possibilities of the intervention of concrete factors, which can serve to transform any theory. Trotskyites run around trying to impose Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution on any set of conditions which they face. Lenin was fond of quoting Goethe: theory is grey my friend, but green is the eternal tree of life.

 

THE THEORY OF SOCIAL FASCISM.  

 

The Marxist-Leninists, led by Stalin, were in a minority in the Executive Committee of the Comintern. The struggle against the pseudo-leftists and the right-opportunists took place behind the scenes, and this was led by Stalin. However, the principle of Democratic Centralism meant that the Stalin minority could not openly oppose the sectarian line. Of course, the split in the working class was not caused by the theory of social fascism. As every Marxist-Leninist knows, or even someone with a superficial knowledge of Lenin’s writings, the split in the working class is the result of imperialism creating a labour aristocracy, which was relatively privileged in relation to the mass of workers. However, it must be said that the theory of social fascism and particularly its application, impeded the struggle for the united-front against fascism. Trotskyites like to criticise Stalin for putting forward the view that Social-Democracy and fascism are twins. Who can deny that when it comes to opposing revolution both reformism and fascism are twins? Not identical twins because they oppose the revolution in different ways. The determination of the social-democracy to prevent a workers revolution for socialism can lead it becoming ‘objectively’ the moderate wing of fascism. The Lion’s share for the defeat of the German working class must be placed on German Social-Democracy. (Stalin’s statement should not be confused with the theory of social-fascism. Nor do Marxist-Leninists exclude the possibility of a section of Social-Democracy degenerating into social fascism, Ed.) We have not come across anything in Stalin’s writings to suggest that he supported the theory that social democracy was social fascism. This reinforces the view that the Marxist-Leninists led by Stalin remained in a minority in the Comintern leadership.

 

TROTSKYISM’S RELATIONSHIP WITH REFORMISM.

 

In his criticism of the Draft Programme of the Communist International of 1928, Trotsky made the astonishing statement that ‘the possibility of betrayal is always contained in reformism’. (L. Trotsky: The Third International after Lenin; New Park Publication Edition, p.98) This gives us some clue to the attitude of Trotskyism to reformism. Marxist-Leninists do not say that reformism will possibly betray. Reformism is organised betrayal of the working class. Only those who have not ideologically broken from reformism in a complete sense could view reformist betrayal as a possibility. All the main Trotskyite groups today in Britain came out of the Labour Party where Trotsky had directed them before the war. The former Militant Tendency became the most well known. For decades they remained in the Labour Party, putting forward a Left-reformist parliamentary road to socialism line, (in some respects similar to the right revisionists in the old communist party of great Britain and its continuation in the CPB)until they were thrown out of the Labour Party by the right-wing leadership under Neil Kinnock. Under the leadership of Ted Grant and co. Militant became the right-revisionists of the Trotskyite movement.

 

TROTSKYITES OPPOSED THE PEOPLE’S FRONT AGAINST FASCISM IN CLASSIC SECTARIAN FASHION.

 

What this means is that the Trotskyites make no distinction between the defensive and the offensive stages of the class struggle for socialism, and the nature of the dialectical relationship between these two. Trotskyite criticism of the opportunist mistakes of those who implemented the Peoples Front policy is from a sectarian standpoint. The struggle against fascism requires that we unite the widest sections of the people against fascism. The important thing is that the working class must lead the people’s alliance against fascism and monopoly capitalism, which is firstly, a defensive struggle, uniting the working class with a section of the middle strata to oppose any monopoly capitalist fascist threat.

 

THE TROTSKYITES TRIED TO IMPOSE PERMANENT REVOLUTION ON THE FIRST STAGE OF THE SPANISH REVOLUTION.

 

In the Spanish revolution Trotsky advocated socialist revolution as the immediate goal. For communists the immediate goal was to build the widest anti-fascist unity possible against Franco, in the defence of Spanish democracy, that is to win the Civil War. The Spanish Communists placed the emphasis on wining the civil war. Any other policy would have been doomed to disaster from the start. The Trotskyites do not see this of course. Again, the explanation is their congenital incapacity when it comes to making a concrete, dialectical analysis.

 

TROTSKYISM AND THE ‘STALINIST BUREAURACY’.

 

Was the Soviet bureaucracy ‘Stalinist’? Trotskyism developed the view that the Stalinists (supporters of Stalin) represented the Soviet bureaucracy. Trotsky went against the Marxist-Leninist line on the question of fighting Soviet bureaucracy. Trotsky put forward the abstract theory of a ‘counterrevolutionary Soviet bureaucracy’, and the need to overthrow it by means of a political revolution. This theory failed to take account of the heterogeneous nature of the bureaucracy. Marxist-Leninists recognise the contradictory nature of the bureaucracy, and develop a correct policy on the basis of this recognition. Communists must use the bureaucracy and fight against it at the same time. This is based on the Leninist view that the struggle against bureaucracy is a long term affair, and also Lenin’s correct position that under socialism bureaucracy cannot be overthrown, but withers away. Trotsky’s abstract theory of a counterrevolution Soviet or Stalinist bureaucracy is what Trotskyism is recognised for today. However, the purges against the Soviet bureaucracy in the Stalin period, leads Marxist-Leninists to the conclusion that the Soviet bureaucracy was more anti-Stalinist than pro-Stalin.

 

THE ANTI-STALINIST SOVIET BUREAUCRACY.

 

We arrive at a view opposite to Trotskyism, that of an essentially anti-Stalinist Soviet bureaucracy, which Stalin waged a long struggle against, especially at the higher levels. Trotsky’s call for political revolution objectively served the interest of bourgeois counterrevolution. On the question of the Soviet bureaucracy Marxist-Leninist rejected the Trotskyite slogan calling for the overthrow of a supposedly counterrevolutionary bureaucracy, and defended the struggle to purge the counterrevolutionary elements from the bureaucracy. No one can deny that this is the correct Marxist-Leninist line.However, Trotskyites have maintained the fiction of the ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’, oblivious to concrete analysis and experience. We need to remember Lenin’s admonition ‘The fight against bureaucracy is a long and arduous one’. (Lenin: Vol.32;p. 52)

 

REVOLUTION BETRAYED.

 

In 1936 Trotsky published his book called ‘Revolution Betrayed’. The aim of this book was to undermine support for Stalin by showing that he had betrayed the revolution. What the book really demonstrates is Trotsky’s anti-Marxist approach. He praised the advances made by the Soviet Union, but claims that this had nothing to do with Stalin. If we follow Trotsky’s logic then all the advances of the Soviet Union was attributable to a counterrevolutionary leadership. No reasonable person would underestimate the difficulties associated with the transition from capitalism to socialism in a relatively backward country surrounded by imperialism and preparing for war. Marxists could not hope to rid such a society of social differentiation overnight. Trotsky himself argued, in his Revolution Betrayed, that the distribution of goods was more equal than in the most advanced capitalist countries at the time.

 

TROTSKYITE INTERPRETATION OF REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY.

 

The basic explanation Trotsky gives is the following: After the death of Lenin in 1924, the Stalin faction defeated the Trotskyite Left opposition followed by the defeat of the Bukharin right-oppositionists and Stalin eventually became the supreme leader. According to Trotsky’s story, Stalin represented, or was the personification of a conservative, and counterrevolutionary Soviet bureaucracy in the process of restoring capitalism in the Soviet Union. The Trotskyites came to refer to this as the ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’. The Trotskyites argued that in order to preserve itself and its privileges this bureaucracy sabotaged revolutions around the world.

 

PRIVILEGED BUREAUCRATS.

 

Trotsky’s critique of the Soviet bureaucracy involved the castigation of the existence of a privileged layer within the Soviet bureaucracy. It should be pointed out here that Trotsky spoke of a privileged Soviet bureaucracy rather than the existence of a privileged stratum within the bureaucracy. But we know that Trotsky was one of the first to offer privileges to the commanding stratum of the Red Army, when he was in charge of it. This he did to keep the army on the side of the revolution. This system was extended to the bureaucrats, and even existed in Lenin’s time. Only after losing power did Trotsky begin to criticise something which he himself had started. Yet we all know about Stalin’s struggle against the Soviet bureaucracy. This is recorded most graphically by several bourgeois historians, although usually from an anti-communist standpoint. Getty points out that Stalin’s struggle against the Soviet bureaucracy was such that it almost undermined the apparatus. However, Marxist-Leninists would argue that these purges and other anti-bureaucratic measures served to strengthen the apparatus of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the longer term.

 

The Trotskyites argued that under Stalin the Soviet bureaucracy had succeeded in usurping political power. Is this argument valid? The reality is that, far from usurping power, the Soviet bureaucracy in the period of Stalin was the most politically repressed bureaucracy in modern times.

 

TROTSKY’S DEGENERATED WORKERS STATE THEORY

 

Trotsky put forward his ‘degenerated workers State’ theory to describe the Soviet State. However, this notion presupposes that the Soviet State existed in some previous condition of excellence from which it degenerated.

But, the Soviet State had not existed in some previous ideal state from which it subsequently degenerated. One could speak of a degenerated workers State or society had socialism previously been completely achieved and later degenerated.

 

For Lenin, on the other hand, the Soviet State was a workers state with bureaucratic distortions from the beginning. Lenin arrived at the conclusion that the struggle against this bureaucratic distortion was a long term process, and that under socialism bureaucracy is not overthrown but withers away and, furthermore, communists must use the bureaucracy and fight against it at the same time.

 

For the Trotskyites, what they called the counterrevolutionary policy of the Comintern was inevitable because the Soviet bureaucracy stood on the ground of socialism in one country, a doctrine which the Trotskyites argue was responsible for all the defeats experienced by the communist movement after Lenin. This anti-Leninist argument is at the centre of Trotskyism.

 

The truth is that the Soviet Union under Stalin was a society in a process of socialist transformation and preparation for defending itself from imperialist attack. Such a society is a contradictory one which can progress towards socialism or move back to capitalism, depending on objective and subjective factors. ‘The Revolution Betrayed’, probably the most un-Marxist of Trotsky’s writings, is regarded not only as a classic of Trotskyism but as the foundation of that movement. This work is also remarkable because in it Trotsky manages to confuse the lower, socialist stage with later communist society. The basic norm in socialist society is that people receive according to work performed, while under communism people receive according to need. Trotsky criticised the insertion of this clause in the 1936 Soviet Constitution.

 

THE COMINTERN.

 

The Comintern identified three periods. The first period was the rise of the revolutionary wave that led to the Russian revolution. This was followed by a second period of the decline of this wave and the restoration of relative capitalist stabilisation. After this came the Third Period. This was seen as the return of the revolutionary wave of intensified class struggles, the ‘final’ stage which would see the downfall of capitalism. (Note The 1929 Wall Street crash ushering in the Great Depression) The first stage of the Comintern was characterised by promotion of the united-front between communists and social democracy. This was replaced by the class-against-class line inaugurated from about 1928 to 1934. This was the period when the doctrine of ‘social-fascism’ gained the ascendancy in the comintern. After this came the Peoples Front policy of the widest possible alliance against monopoly capitalism, war and fascism. What we need to point out is that the Marxist-Leninists around Stalin had been marginalised in the Comintern leadership. Only after the defeat of the German working class did the position of the Marxist-Leninists in the Comintern get stronger, and this only relatively.

 

THE GENERAL LINE.

 

When examining the Comintern we must begin from the question of the general line. We do not begin from a particular concrete application of it. The general line can be correct but mistakes can be made in its tactical application. And this is what we find with the Comintern’s general line in the period of Stalin. When mistakes were made to the right or the left this was usually a result of its incorrect tactical application.

 

THE SIXTH CONGRESS OF THE COMINTERN.

 

Central to Trotsky’s criticism of the Draft Programme of the Sixth Congress was that the coming imperialist conflict would be between Britain and the United States. The Comintern leaders were chided from not recognising this. Trotsky’s prediction of a clash between Britain and US imperialism was proved absolutely wrong. Even non-Marxists did not make such a colossal error of judgement.

It must be said here that Stalin himself had differences with the Comintern leadership at the time. This leadership, under Bukharin’s auspices, had succeeded in sidelining Stalin.

 

STALIN IN A MINORITY IN THE COMINTERN LEADERSHIP.

 

Marxist-Leninists have long argued that Stalin was in a minority in the leadership of the comintern. One bourgeois and anti-communist writer, Michael Reiman, confirmed this view. ‘In July 1928, at the sixth congress of the comintern in Moscow, which had been delayed for two years, Stalin, who had been relegated to the background by the moderates – the comintern was Bukharin’s domain and the moderates skilfully made use of this – nevertheless conducted refined intrigues’. ( Michael Reiman, in: The Birth of Stalinism: the USSR on the eve of the second revolution; p.91)

 

 

FOURTH INTERNATIONAL.

 

In 1938 Trotsky launched his 4TH International. Trotsky announced that the aim of the Trotskyite International was to defeat Stalinism in the workers movement, oppose the theory of socialism in one country and thus promote the world revolution. Trotsky indicated that Hitler and Mussolini would be overthrown by his International. Trotsky claimed that after the war the world revolution would proceed under the banner of the 4th International. This prediction was completely off the mark as was all his previous predictions.

 

THE TRANSITIONAL PROGRAMME.

 

Trotsky’s International was based on his famous Transitional Programme. One of the sources, probably the main source of Trotskyite sectarianism after the Second World War, may be attributed to this programme. This programme is based on the concept of Transitional Demands.

 

What are transitional demands? It seems neither fish or fowl. Trotskyism is the replacement of the idea of minimum and maximum demands with the idea of transitional demands. Trotsky came to the conclusion that since we were living in a transitional period from capitalism to socialism what was needed was a system of transitional demands. In his view minimum demands were outdated. Minimum demands are those which can be achieved from within the framework of capitalism.

 

Maximum demands can only be attained by overthrowing capitalism. Trotsky claimed that transitional demands are neither minimum nor maximum demands. We are back to 1918 when in the Bolshevik struggle for peace Trotsky argued the line: neither war nor peace. This brings to mind Mavrakis’ reference to Trotsky’s incapacity when it comes to concrete thinking. Neither war nor peace, neither minimum nor maximum demands, either socialism in one country or world revolution; we are dealing with the same anti-dialectical logical method. In truth when we look at the transitional demands in this programme, most of them are basically maximum demands dressed up as ‘transitional’ demands. They are demands which can only be attained in a revolutionary situation.

 

This means that most Trotskyite groups have spent from 1938 onwards fighting for revolutionary demands in a non-revolutionary situation, at least in the advanced capitalist countries. This explains one of the reasons why orthodox Trotskyism is sectarianism and is unable to connect itself to the masses. Between minimum demands and maximum demands there is a revolutionary leap from one to the other, not a system of transitional demands. The concept of the revolutionary leap is absent from the Transitional Programme, as it is from the programme of the revisionist circles. In the programme of the revisionist circles there is no such thing as a dialectical leap, a revolutionary situation.

 

TROTSKY AND THE CRISIS OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP.

 

Trotsky asserted in his Transitional Programme that ‘The present crisis in human culture is the crisis in the proletarian leadership. The advanced workers, united in the Fourth International show their class the way out of the crisis’. What did Trotsky mean by the crisis of revolutionary leadership? This crisis could not refer to the absence of communist parties. Trotsky must have been referring to the policies being pursued by these parties, which he disagreed with. But the Trotskyite critique of the Comintern is pseudo-left in nature. Regardless of the weaknesses of the Comintern, these parties did not desert the working in the period of Stalin. Their loyalty to the Soviet Union was an expression of their loyalty to the working class and the revolution.

 

THE ASSASSINATION OF TROTSKY.

 

Trotsky was murdered in 1940. This is still shrouded in mystery. This was of course, blamed on Stalin. But this explanation is too convenient. Trotsky was killed when he was calling for a united-front with the Soviet Union. When the Trotskyite WRP revealed that one of the leaders of Trotskyism, Joseph Hansen, was involved he was denounced by other Trotskyites. Who was Hansen working for? The Healyite answer was the GPU. But why should Stalin order Trotsky’s murder when the latter was calling for a united-front with Stalin against fascism. I think it is reasonable to argue that Trotsky was killed by those who wanted to disrupt any united-front with Stalin. The manipulation and use of the  agent Mercader to Murder Trotsky, certainly does not prove that Stalin ordered the assassination.

 

THE SECOND WORLD WAR:

 

The Trotskyites stood for revolutionary defeatism in regard to the Soviet Union’s allies. This position failed to take into consideration that the Soviet Union’s entry into the war had changed its character from being a purely imperialist war to one with a dual character. Stalin is denounced for sponsoring the Molotov-Ribbentrop pack. Stalin only turned to this pack after failing to win over the bourgeois democratic powers to an anti-war alliance. Why do these writers denounce Stalin when they know very well that the western imperialists wanted the Soviet Union to face Hitler alone? The bourgeois writers and the Trotskyites blame the pact on Stalin instead of on the machination of the imperialists. On the other hand, by calling for the defeat of the Soviet Union’s allies during the war it can be said that Trotskyism served the interest of fascism in the Second World War. The dual contradictory nature of the Second-World War was that it was both a reactionary imperialist war which had a progressive side after the intervention of the Soviet Union. For the Trotskyites, the essence of the Second World War was that it was an imperialist war, which took the form of anti-fascism. However, this anti-fascist form was only possible because of the contradictory essence of the war following the entry of the Soviet Union. There is some evidence to show that Stalin came to the view that the Second World War had a progressive side from the beginning to the extent that it was directed against the genocidal fascism of Hitlerism. But we need not go into this here.

 

After the war, the Trotskyite line of argument was that Stalin had betrayed the post-war revolutionary upheavals. In fact more countries were joined to the socialist camp, even though in the immediate aftermath of the conflict up until about 1949 the imperialist had a monopoly of nuclear weapons which having used on Japan, they could use to intimidate Stalin and the Soviet Union  

 

THE RISE OF MODERN REVISIONISM.

 

The argument of the open Trotskyites, which is repeated verbatim by the hidden Trotskyites, is that it was Stalin who was responsible for leading world communism into the camp of revisionism. The facts show that post-war Trotskyism sided with the Titoites and the Soviet revisionists in the anti-Stalin campaign. The Yugoslav communists had began by opposing the kind of revision of Marxism-Leninism as represented in its most complete expression by the American communist leader, Earl Browder, who was probably one of the first modern-revisionist. The Titoites later went over to this revisionism. Stalin fought the rise of modern revisionism in the world communist movement. The fact that Stalin supported the removal of the revisionist, Earl Browder, from the leadership of the American Communist Party in 1945 clearly underlines Stalin’s opposition to the rise of modern revisionism. To this we can add the famous Soviet-Yugoslav dispute, leading to the Stalin-Tito split.

 

After the death of Stalin the revisionists began their campaign to discredit him. While attacking Stalin they simultaneously sought to use his authority, posthumously, to promote their revisionists views by claiming that Stalin agreed with the parliamentary road to socialism strategy. Milovan Djilas, who went over to anti-communism, also spread these ideas. These rumours were soon picked up by the Trotskyites and used against Stalin. However, we have found nothing in the writings and speeches of Stalin to give credence to these ideas.

 

TROTSKYISM AND PEACEFUL-COEXISTENCE.

 

Trotskyites one-sidedly associate peaceful-coexistence with revisionism. They confuse revisionist peaceful co-existence with Leninist peaceful co-existence. Unlike the latter, revisionist peaceful co-existence preaches peace between oppressed and oppressor classes, and oppressed and oppressor nations, while promoting the reformist parliamentary transition to socialism. (Leninist peaceful coexistence was the struggle to prevent the imperialists unleashing a new world war against socialism, Ed.) The struggle for peace is the struggle to overthrow the war-mongering system of imperialism.

 

THE TROTSKYITE EXPLANATION OF WHY THE SOVIET UNION COLLAPSED.

 

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Trotskyites claimed that this was the work of a ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’, the inevitable outcome of its theory of socialism in one country. So for Trotskyism a bureaucracy, supposedly Stalinist, led to counterrevolution, not a revisionist leadership. Gerry Healy, the former leader of one Trotskyite group, the WRP, even claimed that the anti-communist Gorbachev was leading a political revolution to defend socialism in the USSR. Trotskyites sometimes use the term ‘Stalinists’ to  describe the revisionists. But we all know that Stalin was a Marxist-Leninists, and revisionists have broken from Marxism-Leninism.

 

BUILDING ALLIANCES.

 

Orthodox Trotskyism is sectarianism; sectarianism does not recognise the need to build the widest unity against imperialism and fascism. Those less orthodox Trotskyite groups when they do recognise this need fall into opportunism, as the present leaders of SWP clearly show.

 

SECTARIAN OPPORTUNISM THE POLITICAL ESSENCE OF TROTSKYISM.

 

Trotskyism began its life as a form of sectarianism, and orthodox Trotskyism still remains highly sectarian. It basically assumes that the working class should overthrow capitalism alone without seeking to form alliances with non-proletarian strata. This is the basic political meaning of Trotskyism. Trotsky wrote that the proletariat was the only revolutionary class in the Russian revolution. Also in the struggle for the party the role of Trotskyism – as Lenin saw it – was one of shielding the opportunists.

 

POSTWAR TROTSKYISM.

 

Trotsky had predicted that the Second World would lead to the collapse of the Soviet regime under the leadership of Stalin. When this prediction failed to materialise, and the Soviet Union emerged from the war as a great power under Stalin’s leadership, the Trotskyite movement began to disintegrate. The pre-war splits in the Trotskyite movement were followed by its post-war fragmentation. This took the form of a split between the orthodox wing of Trotskyism and a new faction in the international Trotskyite movement, led by the then secretary of the Trotskyite Fourth International, Michel Pablo. The Pabloites, responding to the new post-war reality, in particular to the fact that Trotsky’s prophecy about the collapse of the Soviet Union under Stalinist leadership had not come to pass, decided to revise Trotskyism, bringing it up to date, so to speak. The Pabloites claimed that the coming revolutionary crisis would push the communist parties to the left, they would project a revolutionary orientation, and therefore the small Trotskyite groups should carry out a policy of entryism in regard to these parties. Pablo also put forward the ridiculous, dismal view that there would be centuries of deformed workers’ states. Trotskyism remained essentially a sectarian movement.

 

THE DEEPENING WORLD POLITICAL CRISIS:

 

The present political crisis developing in the world today will intensify to the point of bringing about political turmoil, the magnitude of which has never been experienced before. This raises the issue of defeating the right-wing leadership of the working class, the collapse of Social Democracy and the question of power. The revolutionary vanguard which will emerge from this crisis must be won over to Marxism-Leninism. This can only be achieved if a struggle is waged against right-wing revisionism in the communist movement and also against the pseudo-left pretensions of Trotskyism. We can expect that both the revisionists and the Trotskyites will play their usual role of sabotaging revolution from the right and pseudo-left, respectively

 

CONCLUSION.

 

By examining a number of issues related to communist history I have shown that Trotskyism, from the standpoint of logical method and ideology, is hostile to Marxism-Leninism. Making a concrete, dialectical analysis was not one of Trotsky’s strong points. He was criticised by Lenin for this very weakness. We see this repeatedly in the positions Trotsky and his followers have adopted over the years. This question of Trotsky’s logical method is central to any critique of Trotskyism. Those who have attempted some criticism of Trotskyism, from a non-Marxist-Leninist standpoint without raising the question of Trotsky’s logical method, have only arrived at half truths, while still continuing with Trotskyite type mistakes under a different label. This is a case of Trotskyism without Trotsky.

 

We have seen that Trotskyism arrived on the historical scene by first opposing Lenin’s struggle to separate the opportunists from the Marxists in the Russian revolutionary movement.

 

Following the 1905 revolution, Trotsky developed the theory of permanent revolution, which underestimated the role of the peasantry and proposed an abstract theory regarding the transition from the bourgeois democratic to the socialist revolution.

 

Trotskyism began by opposing Lenin’s view of the party and preached unity with the opportunists. This was the purpose of the Trotskyite August bloc in 1912.

 

In the anti-Lenin conspiracy Trotsky sided with those who wanted Lenin removed from the revolutionary leadership by handing him over to the counterrevolutionary bourgeois courts.

 

Trotsky promoted the advance of the counterrevolution by refusing to sign the peace deal with the Germany at Brest Litovsk. Trotsky’s position on this question clearly reveals his methodological weakness.)

 

Trotsky went against the advice of the Soviet Government to sign a peace treaty when the German presented an ultimatum, thus seriously endangering the revolution. 

 

In the trade union debate Trotsky wanted the militarization of Labour and favoured coercion over persuasion. Lenin remarked that Trotsky’s position on the trade union looked more like ‘a reactionary movement’.

We have seen that Trotsky walked out of a Central Committee meeting when reminded by Komorov that CC members must abide by the committee’s decisions. This revealed his contempt for the leadership and hostility to democratic centralism.

 

With regard to the world revolution Trotsky opposed the policy of building socialism in one country as part of the world revolutionary process. Trotsky failed to see how one was related to the other and wanted communists to choose between the two. Trotsky threw dialectics out of the window.

 

At the same time he wanted the party to take on the strain of industrialisation and collectivisation before it had strengthened itself in the working class and in particular in the countryside.

 

We have seen how Trotsky called for a political revolution to overthrow what he called a counterrevolutionary Soviet or ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’. The Marxist-Leninist line is one of calling for purging the counterrevolutionary elements from within the Soviet bureaucracy. Trotsky went against the Marxist-Leninist view that bureaucracy should not be overthrown under socialism but withers away, and he ignored Lenin’s important injunction that the struggle against bureaucracy was a long term affair. Trotskyites fail to realise that communists are compelled to use the bureaucracy while fighting it at the same time

 

Marxist-Leninists also maintain, unlike the Trotskyites, that the Soviet bureaucracy was more anti-Stalin than pro-Stalin. Trotskyites fail to realise that Stalin’s frequent purges of the Soviet bureaucracy was precisely because this bureaucracy was more anti-Stalin than pro-Stalin.

 

Programme. Trotsky’s Transitional Programme leads to sectarianism by encouraging the struggle for maximum demands (dressed up as transitional demands) in non-revolutionary situations.

 

We have also seen that Trotsky’s critique of the Comintern was from a pseudo-leftist standpoint in regard to the 1926 General Strike, the Chinese revolution and the Spanish revolution. In regard to the defeat of the German working class by fascism Trotsky wants us to believe that Stalin was mainly responsible, although the Marxist-Leninists led by Stalin were in a minority.

 

That the Marxist-Leninists led by Stalin were in a minority during most of the period of the Comintern’s existence may come as a surprise to those not versed in Lenin’s theory of party and the existence of different levels of political consciousness in the working class, where the advanced workers formed a minority.

 

And we have touched upon the mystery surrounded the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico. Trotsky was murdered when he was calling for a united-front with Stalin and the Soviet Union, suggesting that those opposed to a united front were behind the assassination.

 

However, during the Second World War the Trotskyite policy was ‘revolutionary’ defeatism, calling for the defeat of the Soviet Union’s allies in the war, a position which served the interest of fascism. After the war, the survival of Stalin and the Soviet Union led to a split in the Trotskyite movement, and the movement continued to fragment. In the post-war period, the Trotskyites failed to distinguish between Leninist and revisionist peaceful coexistence.

 

Following the end of the war in 1945, the Trotskyites now argued that Stalin betrayed the post-war revolutionary upheavals. The truth is, of course, that even with the imperialist possessing a nuclear monopoly up until 1949 and the Soviet Union existing under the threat of nuclear obliteration, Stalin was able to bring more countries over into the socialist camp.

The Trotskyites sided up with the Titoite revisionists and supported the Khrushchevites against the Marxist-Leninists. They blamed the collapse of the Soviet Union on the Soviet bureaucracy instead of on the Soviet Titoite-Khrushchevite revisionists, a completely abstract position to have, devoid of concrete analysis.

 

From everything which I have said, it is possible to arrive at the conclusion that Trotskyism is a form of pseudo-left-sectarianism, not of the Bordigist type. (Bordiga, the Italian pseudo-leftist, opposed the comintern’s orientation, including the united-front. Ed.) On the contrary, Trotskyism’s association with Leninism in the Bolshevik party has enabled it to some extent to pretend to be the continuation of Leninism in the eyes of those unschooled in Marxism-Leninism, especially those entering revolutionary politics for the first time. This is why the ideological struggle against Trotskyism is still of relevance today.

 

The Trotskyites, no doubt, can derive some pleasure from the present disunity which reigns in the ranks of those who claim loyalty to Marxism-Leninism. We, for our part view this disunity in a dialectical way. In part, it is an expression of the contradiction between Marxism-Leninism and revisionist opportunism. We cannot, and do not, seek to unite with the revisionists and the opportunists in a single party. To do so would mean betraying the working class, the revolution and the struggle for communism

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