A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE
IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MARXISM-LENINISM AND TROTSKYISM.
EVER since Lenin died in
1924, Trotskyism has challenged Marxism-Leninism for the ideological
leadership of the international communist movement. J.V. Stalin, 1879-1953,
was able to meet and saw off this challenge, to the extent that Trotskyism
became a marginal, exterior tendency in relation to the communist movement.
However, the attacks on Stalin by the Khrushchevite leadership in the Soviet
Union, and the consequent rise of revisionism in some of the most
influential parties of the communist movement, served to breathe new life
into the project inspired by Trotsky.
This creed, Trotskyism,
gained a substantial intellectual following in all the main imperialist
countries due to its attacks on what they and the bourgeoisie call
‘Stalinism’. In attacking Stalin, and in fact, every country of socialist
orientation, and regarding themselves as representing authentic Marxism, the
activities of these pseudo-left sectarians promoted the propaganda interest
of the imperialist bourgeoisie. However, the claims of Trotskyism rest not
only on attacking Stalin and the countries of socialist orientation. These
claims rest also on convincing certain intellectuals that Trotskyism is the
continuation of Leninism. This is why it may be considered useful for us to
present a synoptic exposition of the main ideological differences between
Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism as a guide for those who seek to examine
this matter more deeply.
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.
Trotskyites argue that
the October, Russian revolution of 1917 was the realisation of Trotsky’s
theory of Permanent Revolution. The Marxist-Leninist position is that the
revolution was made possible by the peculiar circumstances created by the
1914-1918 war and that without these conditions the transition to the
socialist revolution would not have been possible.
Following the revolution
and civil war, Trotskyites argued for the militarisation of the trade
unions, that is a policy of coercion towards the unions. Marxist-Leninists
around Lenin, including Stalin, opposed the Trotskyite militarisation
policy, arguing instead that emphasis must be placed on persuasion rather
than coercion. This led to a serious factional dispute in the communist
party between the Marxist-Leninists and the Trotskyites between 1920-1921.
Lenin himself regarded Trotsky’s policy on the trade unions as representing
a ‘reactionary movement’.(See: Lenin: Collected Works, Vol.32)
REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN REGARD TO SOCIALISM.
socialism in one or several countries is a stage in the world revolution.
Trotskyites argued that the policy of building socialism in one country was
opposed to Marxism. The Marxist-Leninists argued building socialism in one
country was an integral part of world revolution and, in fact would serve
this process, in aiding the development of the latter. Since Trotsky did not
raise the issue with Lenin, Marxist-Leninists can only assume that Trotsky’s
real motives were of a factional nature. Or, with Lenin out of the way,
following his death in 1924, Trotsky sought to impose his Permanent
Revolution theory on the party.
The Trotskyites sought to
impose an industrialisation and collectivisation policy on the communist
party at a time when the party and the dictatorship of the proletariat were
in a weak position. Marxist-Leninists around Stalin wanted to wait until the
party and the state had gathered enough strength to oversee such a policy.
This meant defending the mixed economy of the NEP period until the party had
strengthened itself in the working class and in the countryside.
THE QUESTION OF FIGHTING BUREAUCRACY
Trotskyites argue that
after the death of Lenin a “Stalinist bureaucracy” emerged in the Soviet
Union. This bureaucracy would undermine the revolution and to forestall this
a political revolution would be necessary to remove the bureaucracy from
power. Marxist-Leninists argue that the Soviet bureaucracy was more
anti-Stalinist than ‘Stalinist’, a fact underlined by the frequent purges
directed against it. In addition, Marxist-Leninists rejected the Trotskyite
theory of a counterrevolutionary bureaucracy as completely one-sided, and
argued that what was needed was not a political revolution to overthrow a
supposedly counterrevolutionary bureaucracy, but rather there was a need to
expose and purge the counterrevolutionary elements from the bureaucracy.
The Trotskyite talk about a 'political' revolution to overthrow bureauracy
represented a break from Marxism to Anarchism.
THE POLICY OF PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE.
Soon after coming to power
the Bolshevik communists, led by Lenin pursued a policy of peaceful
coexistence with the capitalist states. The thinking behind this was to
force the capitalist States, particularly the imperialists States, to live
in peace with socialism, as far as foreign relations were concerned. This
was not only based on the recognition that combined the imperialists States
were by far stronger than the Socialist State, it was also because
socialism, unlike capitalism, is not a warlike system. It is capitalism
which needs war to increase profits for the monopolists, not socialism.
While it is true that, on the one hand, the Khrushchevite revisionists
distorted the communist policy of peaceful coexistence, it is also true, on
the other hand, that the Trotskyites, and other pseudo-leftists rejected
Lenin’s policy, wanting the socialist countries to act like capitalists and
embroil the world into war.
THE COUNTERREVOLUTION IN THE SOVIET UNION.
Trotskyites claim that the
counterrevolution in the Soviet Union was the work of a supposedly
“Stalinist bureaucracy”. Such a claim made no sense because not only was
there no entity which could be called the “Stalinist bureaucracy”, but the
Stalinists, i.e., supporters of Stalin, had been purged by the
Khrushchevites in the 1950s. Marxist-Leninists maintain that the Soviet
counterrevolution was led by the revisionists who had come to power after
Stalin’s death. This counterrevolution was begun by Khrushchev and completed
Trotskyites blame the
defeat of revolutions in China, Germany, France and Spain on Stalin’s
leadership of the Communist International. Marxist-Leninists have long
argued that Stalin was in a minority in the Comintern. Therefore, the
defeats experienced by the communist movement cannot simply be dumped at
Stalin’s door. Only a concrete analysis, based on Marxism-Leninism, can
throw light on how individual defeats came about.
One of the slanders aimed
at Stalin by the open and concealed Trotskyites is that he led the
international communist movement into the camp of revisionism. However,
neither now or in the past, have they been able to provide any documentary
evidence to support these claims based on Marxism-Leninism. The truth is,
that any study of the writings of Stalin shows, without any shadow of doubt
that he remained a committed Marxist-Leninist all his life.
EVALUATION OF STALIN.
Trotskyites argue that
Stalin betrayed the 1917 socialist revolution. However, in 1936, stunned by
the gains that the Soviet Union had made under Stalin’s leadership, Trotsky
had to pretend that this had nothing to do with Stalin. Marxist-Leninists
argue that Stalin was a defender of the socialist revolution in the most
inauspicious of circumstances. Furthermore, in his time Stalin successfully
defended the socialist orientation of the Soviet Union against revisionists
and other two-faced elements posing as communists in the party and State.
When these concealed enemies of socialism were found out they were
unfailingly purged by Stalin.
Trotsky and his followers
joined the bourgeoisie and their henchmen, the Mensheviks, in a campaign to
convince the workers, peasants and communists that socialism was impossible
in the Soviet Union. They tried to undermine the confidence of the working
people using an argument opposed to Lenin’s standpoint. The only conclusion
is that Trotskyism played a counterrevolutionary role, hiding behind
pseudo-left rhetoric. Promoting defeatism was the essential role of
Trotskyism in regard to the Soviet Union.