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Trotskyism or LeninismBy Harpal Brar
Trotsky's regular predictions of doom
Proceeding from the unscientific and pessimistic, not to say anti-Leninist, theory of 'permanent revolution', which was refuted by the experience of the three Russian revolutions and by all further social development in the USSR and elsewhere, Trotsky could, and did, predict nothing but doom. The underlying theme and purpose of all his statements between 1923 and 1940 was to deny all possibility of building socialism in the USSR and thus to undermine the confidence of the Soviet proletariat in building a new society by its own efforts if the world revolution failed to come to its rescue. This was accompanied by vicious attacks on the only guarantee for the successes of the USSR during this epoch-making period of particular difficulty and particular achievement, namely the Leninist leadership of the Party and state of the proletarian dictatorship. Of course these attacks were always hidden under a guise of attacking the 'bureaucratic state apparatus', or 'Stalinist bureaucracy, with the alleged desire to improve matters. And when the oft-predicted disaster did not happen, this only provided Trotsky with an occasion to report on invented widespread disaster, disillusionment and demoralisation as a means of bringing about the fulfilment of his jeremiads.
Trotsky's 'New Course' predicts degeneration of the Party
In 1923, at the time of the New Economic Policy (NEP), Trotsky predicted immediate doom for the proletarian dictatorship through the "degeneration of the state apparatus in a bourgeois direction." In his New Course, written in 1923, he claimed that "Bureaucratism has reached an excessive and truly alarming development." This is how he predicted the restoration of capitalism through the NEP, claiming that quantity would at a certain stage be transformed into quality:
"...The rapid development of private capital... would show that private capital is interposing itself more and more between the workers' state and the peasantry, is acquiring an economic and therefore a political influence... [S]uch a rupture between Soviet industry and agriculture, between the proletariat and the peasantry, would constitute a grave danger for the proletarian revolution, a symptom of the possibility of the triumph of the counter-revolution.
"What are the political paths by which the victory of the counter-revolution might come if the economic hypothesis just set forth were to be realised?... [T]he political process would assume in the main the character of the degeneration of the state apparatus in a bourgeois direction... If private capital in creased rapidly and succeeded in fusing with the peasantry, the active counter-revolutionary tendencies directed against the Communist Party would then probably prevail...
"The counter-revolutionary tendencies can find a support among the kulaks, the middlemen, the retailers, the concessionaires, in a word, among elements much more capable of surrounding the state apparatus than the Party itself...
…[T]he negative social phenomena we have just enumerated and which now nurture bureaucratisation could place the revolution in peril should they continue to develop... bureaucratism in the state and party apparatus is the expression of the most vexatious tendencies inherent in our situation, of the defects and deviations in our work which... might sap the basis of the revolution... Quantity will at a certain stage be transformed into quality." (Chapter 4).
In all this, Trotsky forgets completely the role of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Of course, the introduction of the NEP did unleash capitalist elements, in the countryside in particular; of course it was a partial return to capitalism. All that was known to the author of the NEP, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. But there was no other way of transition from war communism to socialism except through the NEP even though the latter, by unleashing capitalist elements in the countryside, carried the danger of capitalist restoration. This danger, however, this possibility of capitalist restoration, could never be realised as long as the proletarian dictatorship exercised its iron rule over hostile capitalist classes – kulaks and traders. That is why Lenin called for the maximum strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This, in turn, could only be done through unity of will and iron discipline in the ruling Bolshevik Party. That is why he caused the Tenth Party Congress to pass the resolution, written by himself, calling for existing factions within the Party to be disbanded forthwith, for the formation of new factions in the future to be banned, and declaring that non-compliance with this resolution by anyone would result in their immediate expulsion from the Party. Trotsky for his part consistently undermined the proletarian dictatorship by his vicious attacks on the leadership of the Party, his denigration of the Party and state apparatus in the USSR, and by flouting all norms and discipline of the Bolshevik Party.
Failure of Trotsky's predictions
Notwithstanding Trotskyist sabotage, Trotsky's predictions did not come true, thanks to the Leninist leadership of the Party and the state during this very difficult period. Instead NEP Russia was actually transformed into a mighty socialist USSR that then went on to achieve the crowning glory of defeating the mighty Nazi war machine almost single-handedly. As the "degeneration", "initiative-killing bureaucratism", "ossification", "estrangement" and "morbid uneasiness" predicted by Trotsky failed to materialise and the USSR began to be transformed through the collectivisation and industrialisation drive of the Five-Year Plans, Trotsky intensified his attacks on the USSR and the leadership of the Bolshevik Party – revealing in the process his true hideous features as a market socialist, i.e., as a bourgeois socialist of the social-democratic variety.
Contemptible and cowardly capitulator
In 1933, Trotsky published his pamphlet Soviet Economy in Danger, in which he came out in opposition to this second assault on capitalism, i.e., the assault mounted through socialist industrialisation and collectivisation – both measures of world revolutionary historic significance. He declared that the "correct and economically sound collectivisation, at a given stage, SHOULD NOT LEAD TO THE ELIMINATION OF THE NEP but to the GRADUAL REORGANISATION OF ITS METHODS." (p. 32).
In other words, no attempt should be made to eliminate capitalism in general, and capitalism in the countryside in particular.
Gorbachev style, pretending to stand for some sort of control of the market, Trotsky's method of controlling the market is to leave it to the market to control itself!
"The regulation of the market," he says, "itself must depend upon the tendencies that are brought about through its medium." (p. 30).
Every revolutionary giant stride forward of the Soviet economy at that time, because outside the market, is portrayed by this high priest of market socialism as disorder and "economic chaos." He says:
"By eliminating the market and installing instead Asiatic bazaars the bureaucracy has created... the conditions for the most barbaric gyrations of prices and consequently has placed a mine under commercial calculations. As a result economic chaos has been redoubled." (p. 34).
Trotsky, who in December 1925, at the 14th Party Congress of the CPSU, had tried to force on the Party the policy of immediate collectivisation of the peasantry, when the conditions necessary for such collectivisation were totally lacking, this same Trotsky in 1933, when collectivisation was well on the way to completion, comes out in opposition to the policy of liquidating the kulaks as a class, demanding instead the establishment of "a policy of severely restricting the exploiting tendencies of the kulaks." (p. 47).
In other words, capitalism must not be eliminated in the countryside.
Praying for miracles Trotsky declares: "Commodities must be adapted to human needs..." Trotsky's position amounts to this: 'Economic accounting is unthinkable without market relations.' In view of this, it is hardly surprising that Trotsky came to the conclusion that: "It is necessary to put off the Second Five-Year Plan. Away with shrieking enthusiasm!" (p. 41).
No wonder then that Stalin, in his Report to the 17th Party Congress (26 January 1934) made the following observation on the Trotskyist programme:
"We have always said that the 'Lefts' are in fact Rights who mask their Rightness by Left phrases. Now the 'Lefts' themselves confirm the correctness of our statement. Take last year's issues of the Trotskyist 'Bulletin. What do Messieurs the Trotskyists demand, what do they write about in what does their 'Left' programme find expression? They demand: THE DISSOLUTION OF THE STATE FARMS, on the grounds that they do not pay, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MAJORITY OF THE COLLECTIVE FARMS, on the grounds that they are fictitious, the ABANDONMENT OF THE POLICY OF ELIMINATING THE KULAKS, REVERSION TO THE POLICY OF CONCESSIONS, AND THE LEASING TO CONCESSIONAIRES OF A NUMBER OF OUR INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES, on the grounds that they do not pay.
"There you have the programme of these contemptible cowards and capitulators – their counter-revolutionary programme for restoring capitalism in the USSR!
"What difference is there between this programme and that of the extreme Rights? Clearly, there is none. It follows that the Lefts' have openly associated themselves with the counter-revolutionary programme of the Rights in order to enter into a bloc with them and to wage a joint struggle against the Party." (Stalin, Collected Works, Vol. 13, pp. 370-371.
Trotsky's anti-Soviet diatribes are grist to the imperialist mill
Although bourgeois economics learnt nothing from Trotsky's Soviet Economy in Danger, seeing as he had but repeated, in a clumsy way, what had been said a decade earlier by bourgeois economists such as Von Mises and Brutzkus, it was nevertheless extensively quoted in the imperialist press by the bourgeois critics of socialist construction, for it enabled them to stress that their 'objective' and 'impartial' critiques of socialism, and their dogma that it was impossible for society to free itself of the market, were fully accepted by this 'old Bolshevik'. (For a fuller treatment of this subject, the reader is referred to chapter 11 of my book Perestroika – the Complete Collapse of Revisionism).
Trotsky's diatribes against the Soviet regime were grasped with alacrity by the German and Italian fascists: "See, my friends, " said Goebbels to the German socialists and communists, "what Trotsky is saying about the Soviet state. It is no longer a Socialist State but a state dominated by a parasitic bureaucracy, living on the Russian people." (see Appendix 2) These and similar arguments, broadcast by the fascists as well as other imperialist states, were designed to weaken both the faith the masses might have in the USSR as well as their faith in themselves, in their capacity to build a new life for themselves. These Trotskyist arguments were, and continue to be, seized upon by the opponents of communism in the Labour movement as well as by the radical petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. Trotskyism thus performed, and continues to perform, the function of confusing and disarming the working-class movement politically and ideologically.
Flying in the face of all reality, ignoring the developments in socialist construction in the USSR, Trotsky continued to predict disaster and to advocate the overthrow of the 'Stalinist bureaucracy' – a euphemism for the Leninist leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state – in other words, the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat. in an article written in October 1933, Trotsky predicted the restoration of capitalism if 'Stalinist bureaucracy' continued to hold sway:
"The further unhindered development of bureaucratism must lead inevitably to the cessation of economic and cultural growth, to a terrible social crisis and to the downward plunge of the entire society. But this would imply not only the collapse of the proletarian dictatorship but also the end of bureaucratic domination. In place of the workers' state would come not 'social bureaucratic' but capitalist relations." (The Class Nature of the Soviet State).
In February 1935 Trotsky predicted the "inevitable collapse of the Stalinist political regime" and its replacement by fascist-capitalist counterrevolution", unless the removal of the Soviet regime came "as a conscious act of the proletarian vanguard," to wit, the same Trotskyist counter-revolutionaries who denied the very possibility of building socialism in the first place, who tried to put every obstacle (albeit unsuccessfully) in the way of socialist construction, who hand in hand with the imperialist bourgeoisie slandered the Soviet state and Bolshevik Party leadership, who belittled and denigrated every single achievement of socialist industry, agriculture, science, technology and the arts and who ended up by being allies and tools of German and Japanese fascism!! These very contemptible cowards and counter-revolutionaries, these ardent advocates of the programme of capitalist restoration, in the topsy-turvy world of Trotskyist make-believe and intrigue, convince themselves that they are the 'proletarian vanguard'! At the same time we are told by Trotsky that the Bolshevik Party which, following the Leninist line, not only believes in the possibility of building socialism in the USSR but is actually accomplishing it successfully in the face of internal and external difficulties and foes, is a regime of 'Bonapartism' which is bound to make way for 'counter-revolution' unless its removal comes about at the hands of the counter-revolutionary Trotskyists who have awarded themselves the title of "proletarian vanguard"!
"The inevitable collapse of the Stalinist political regime will lead to the establishment of Soviet democracy only in the event that the removal of Bonapartism comes as the conscious act of the proletarian vanguard In all other cases, in place of Stalinism there could only come the fascist-capitalist counterrevolution". (Trotsky, The Workers' State, Thermidor and Bonapartism).
Trotsky acknowledges socialist achievements as a means of gaining credibility
By the end of the Second Five-Year plan, however, even the blind could not fail to see the gigantic, truly heroic and world- historic achievements of socialist construction. Even intelligent representatives of imperialism began to make admissions of the achievements of socialism in all walks of life of the USSR – the only country to have achieved full employment while the capitalist world was reeling under the hammer blows of recession. Trotsky was in danger of being discredited because of the crying discrepancy between Soviet reality and Trotsky's description of it. So Trotsky, that most anti-Soviet of all anti-Soviets, in order to gain some credibility, was compelled to write almost effusively of the gains of socialism in the USSR, again, of course, merely as a prelude to a further scurrilous campaign of lies and slander against the Soviet regime. In his Revolution Betrayed (1933), he writes:
"Gigantic achievements in industry, enormously promising beginnings in agriculture, an extraordinary growth of the old industrial cities and a building of new ones, a rapid increase of the number of workers, a rise in cultural level and cultural demands – such are the indubitable results of the October revolution...
"Socialism has demonstrated its fight to victory, not in the pages of 'Das Kapital' but in an industrial arena comprising a sixth part of the earth's surface – not in the language of dialectics, but in the language of steel cement; and electricity ... a backward country has achieved in less than ten years successes unexampled in history.
"This also ends the quarrel with the reformists in the workers' movement. Can we compare for one moment their mouse-like fussing with the titanic work accomplished by this people aroused to a new life by revolution?..." (p. 16).
Thus quite mysteriously, and without any explanation let alone a correction or an apology from Trotsky, we find that the "smug, negative, disdainful cliquish, bureaucratic apparatus," characterised on the one hand by "inertia" and on the other by "antagonistic violence towards criticism," staffed with only "careerists and political hangers-on" who are so divorced from reality as to be in danger of losing support of the masses and forfeiting state dominance to the "counter-revolutionary tendencies" among "retailers, middlemen... and kulaks – this bureaucratic apparatus", i.e., the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state, has somehow risen to the occasion and organised "ten years of successes unexampled in history."!
Normally Trotskyism paints a picture of the Soviet people being ordered about and herded around by the 'Stalinist bureaucracy', meekly and sullenly accepting their fate. – Yet in some pages of this book, which are characteristically contradicted by some other pages in the same book, Trotsky describes the enthusiasm with which the Soviet youth plunged into economic, cultural and artistic activity, in the following glowing terms:
"To be sure, the youth are very active in the sphere of economics. In the Soviet Union there are now 1.2 million Communist Youth in the collective farms. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Youth have been mobilised during recent years for construction work timber work coal mining. gold production; for work in the Arctic, Sakhalin, or in Amur where the new town of Komsomolsk is in process of construction. The new generation is putting out shock brigades, champion workers, Stakhanovites, foremen; under administrators. The youth are studying and a considerable part of them are studying assiduously. They are as active, if not more so, in the sphere of athletics in its most daring or war-like forms such as parachute jumping and marksmanship. The enterprising and audacious are going on all kinds of dangerous expeditions.
"'The better part of our youth,' said recently the well-known polar explorer, Schmidt, 'are eager to work where difficulties await them.' This is undoubtedly true...
"... [I]t would be a crude slander against the youth to portray them as controlled exclusively, or even predominantly, by personal interests. No, in the general mass they are magnanimous, responsive, enterprising... In their depths are various unformulated tendencies grounded in heroism and still only awaiting application. It is upon these moods in particular that the newest kind of Soviet patriotism is nurturing itself. It is undoubtedly very deep, sincere and dynamic..." (Chapter 7).
More scurrilous attacks on socialism
All this, however, is only a prelude to a vicious denunciation of the Soviet regime, a negation of Soviet achievements and everything socialist, and a distortion – nay a downright falsification – of Soviet history. Having been forced to pay lip service to socialism having "demonstrated its tight to victory, " to the Soviet state having achieved "ten years successes unexampled in history," Trotsky devotes the rest of his book to a vitriolic attack on the USSR and its leadership. We are told, despite all the admissions about "successes unexampled in history", that "the Soviet State in all its relations is far closer to a backward capitalism than to communism" (p. 22); that, far from achieving the lower stage of communism, what the Soviet Union had achieved was a "preparatory regime transitional from capitalism to socialism." (p. 52); that this regime was engendering increasing inequalities: "wage differences in the Soviet Union," he asserted, "are not less but greater than in the capitalist countries" (p. 228); and that industry was dominated by a "corps of slave drivers" (p. 229). Before this transitional regime could develop in the direction of socialism, it was absolutely necessary for there to be "a second supplementary revolution against bureaucratic absolutism" (p. 272) because "the bureaucracy can be removed only by a revolutionary force. And, as always there will be fewer victims the more bold and decisive is the attack" (p.271). Since the Soviet leadership had the overwhelming support of the working class and the collectivised peasantry, Trotsky's references to revolutionary force" could either mean acts of terrorism against the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, or a military conspiracy, or foreign intervention for the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime – or a combination of all these means.
That this is precisely what Trotsky had in mind is made clear in the course of the pages of this book.
Re-assertion of the discredited theory of 'permanent revolution'
There is also the inevitable statement that the advance towards socialism depends to some extent on the prior victory of the revolution in the rest of Europe (p. 274) – a rehash and latest version of Trotsky's permanent hopelessness that masquerades as the theory of 'permanent revolution. That being the case, one may be forgiven for asking- what will the "supplementary revolution against bureaucratic absolutism" achieve if the revolution is destined to vegetate and degenerate into hopelessness in the absence of "victory of the revolution in the rest of Europe"?
In addition, the book contains virulent denunciations of all attempts at raising the productivity of labour, unattainable under the conditions of capitalism Trotsky attacks all wage differentials, piece-work payments, socialist emulation drives – all of which are simply denounced as "a source of injustice, oppression; and compulsions for the majority, privileges and a 'happy life' for the few" (pp. 244-245). Apart from the demagogy of it all, what comes through is the sheer ignorance, not to mention dishonesty: it would appear that its author has failed totally to grasp the essence of The Critique of the Gotha Programme, in winch Marx deals, inter alia, with the norms of distribution under the lower and higher stages of communism In the lower stage, distribution can only be according to the formula From each according to his ability, to each according to his work, a formula which does not "remove the defects of distribution and inequality of 'bourgeois right'" (Lenin, State and Revolution).
Equating socialism and fascism and spreading defeatist demoralisation
Driven by his intense and insensate hatred of the Soviet state, mindless subjectivism and limitless vindictiveness against the Bolshevik regime for the reason that the latter had decided to expel him for his incorrigible factionalism, Trotsky goes to the despicable length of saying in Chapter 11 of his book Revolution Betrayed that "Stalinism and fascism ... are symmetrical phenomena In many of their features they show a deadly similarity."
In the appendix to his book, Trotsky says:
"...with the working class and its sincere champions among the intelligentsia... our work will actually cause doubts and evoke distrust – not of the revolution but of its usurpers. But that is the very goal we have set ourselves."
Trotsky predicts and calls for the defeat of the USSR in war