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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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.
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
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.
‘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.
‘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
‘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
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).
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
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.
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
LENIN ON COOPERATION, CULTURAL REVOLUTION
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
TROTSKYITE INTERPRETATION OF REVOLUTIONARY
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.
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 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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
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
SECTARIAN OPPORTUNISM THE POLITICAL ESSENCE
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Trotsky’s Transitional Programme leads to sectarianism by encouraging the
struggle for maximum demands (dressed up as transitional demands) in
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
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