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Archive of Communist Workers Group of Aoteaora/New Zealand up to 2006

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National Front smears Trotskyists as ‘Red Fascists’

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This is the title of a pamphlet handed out by the National Front outside a recent Alliance Party conference in Wellington. The purpose of the Leaflet is to label the Alliance and all those of the broad left as a front for ‘Trotskyites’ and then to smear Trotskyites as ‘Red Fascists. Both are lies. This is a provocation by the neo-fascists against communists. The soft left are not Trotskyists. They will never defend the workers against fascism. Nor are Trotskyists fascists. One thing that the NF forgot to quote was Trotsky’s promise to real fascists to “acquaint their faces with the pavement”.

NF: finds Trots everywhere

Trots are accused of ‘entering’ the ‘respectable” Alliance. What’s the evidence? Matt McCarten goes every year to Sydney as guest speaker at events put on the ‘Trot’ Democratic Socialist Party. But the DSP is not Trot, so there goes that argument. The DSP see article on Venezuela are Castroites if theyre anything and Castro is no Trot.

Leading light in the Alliance, Len Richards and Mike Treen (ex-Alliance) are both undercover Trots. Richards was invited to CWG public meeting in early 2004 to talk about the Alliance. If he was at all influenced by the real Trot CWG he didn’t show it in rejecting the violent seizure of power. Mike Treen, was a member of the Communist League, who are ex-Trots, and now Castroites. No Trots here then.

The ‘comrades’ are cooking up something

Then there’s the open policy of the Socialist Workers to work with the Alliance, in the same way it has fused with the Scottish Socialist Party because workers have to be won from parliament. But the SWO are not Trots either, so their open entry is not going to lead to revolution. In fact the broad left only exist to stop revolution. (See article on Venezuela).

Maybe the NF should stop attributing its own bad faith to the left. After all fascism has had a bad press for half a century, and maybe workers need to be won to fascism by the NF dressing itself up as ‘respectable’ patriots opposed to ‘Red Fascism’.

Trotsky no ‘Red Fascist’

The NF then repeats lots of lies from Stalinist and Anarchist sources portraying Trotsky as a ‘Red Fascist’. Trotsky was actually the leader of the October Insurrection, the almost bloodless revolution that took power from the Tsar and his western imperialist cronies. He then led the Red Army in the Civil War to defeat the many armed invasions by Western and reactionary Russian forces.

In other words Trotsky led the Dictatorship of the Proletariat against the Dictatorship of the Capitalists and won. In the process he imposed the same discipline on the Red Army that the capitalists impose on workers who fight their wars. The difference was Trotsky was defending a workers’ state and not the rule of private property. Those who betrayed the revolution to the bosses’ forces were shot. But if you count up the deaths in the First World War and the Civil War it is the capitalists who are the mass killers, not Trotsky of the Bolshevik Party.

The Red Terror

That’s why the term the term ‘Red Terror’ is term used by the bosses to smear the Bolsheviks. The only people terrorised by the Russian Revolution were the bosses who lost their profits, and all their petty bourgeois hangers-on who lost their privileges. The class enemies of the working class were always given the opportunity to change sides and avoid punishment. The Red Army was staffed with Tsarist officers who came over the workers’ side. So were the sailors of Kronstadt given the chance to surrender; only when the workers cause was openly betrayed did those involved meet with death, and always after public trials.

Real Fascism

Far from ‘Red Fascism’, Trotsky represented the best elements of the Russian Revolution. His downfall at the hands of Stalin was the effect of the Russian Revolution being strangled by encirclement and isolation. Trotsky carried the flag of Communism in Germany in 1933 when the German Communist Party betrayed the world revolution by failing to stop Hitler.

That is the real reason the NF hates Trotskyists. They know like the Stalinists and the Anarchists, that only Trotsky was correct in confronting fascism in Germany and in Spain. Here the combined rotten politics of the Stalinists and the Anarchists sold out the workers and allowed Hitler and Franco to come to power. Trotsky’s and our policy towards the neo-fascists is to organise a workers’ unite front to smash them before they smash us!

From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005

Written by raved

January 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm

AN IRAQI TROTSKYIST ANSWERS FAQs ON THE WAR

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From Class Struggle 51 July-August 2003

We opposed the war, but we failed to stop it.
What can we learn from this experience?

We opposed the war against Iraq.We tried to stop it. We built a movement that spanned the globe. From Madrid to Auckland, from California to Seoul, we organized in our millions to demonstrate our opposition, our fears, our rage and our disgust.
Yet in our millions, we were unable to win. In our millions, we were unable to stop the wheels of the American war machine. We were reduced to watching the onslaught if not in silence, then in impotent rage, in melancholy.

Has the Antiwar movement suffered a colossal defeat?

Practically, yes. Morally? Morally we have been proven correct. On the question of the validity of the case for war we have been proven correct. But the war is now a historical fact. That Bush and Blair lied and continue to lie is clear, but that they are successful liars is just as clear. The question is not whether the war was just; we always knew it was not. But knowing or proving that it was unjust will never be enough to stop a war.

Why did we fail?Isn’t opposition to war a natural and noble human instinct?

The world does not run in the interests of humanity. The world is run by imperialist superpowers in their own interests. Yankee imperialism has a number of strategic objectives that called for the war on Iraq. The only force capable of countering the imperialist machine is the working class. And yet it was precisely the working class that was not mobilized to oppose the war.

While workers certainly joined the movement, they did so primarily as individuals, atomized cells of a shattered and fragmented labor movement. In the absence of workers internationalism, it was natural they did not see themselves as part of the international working class, but as mums and dads. While mums and dads have every reason to oppose wars that their children are sent to kill and die in, they do not have the means to stop them.

Even at the height of the movement, apart from the odd euphoric moment in Hyde Park or in Rome, we knew that we were not going to win. We knew that the war would happen.

Why couldn’t the international working class stop this war with a general strike?

There were many good instances of this kind of action. The firefighters in Britain spring to mind as a union that was staunch in its opposition. In Greece(and elsewhere) transport workers refused to move military goods and supplies. These moves needed to be emulated and widened to the point of paralyzing the bosses’ economies. There are of course very good reasons why such a strike did not occur. The workers of the world are reeling from decades of counter-revolutionary advance. From New Zealand to Moscow the workers organizations have been repressed and beaten back. In this international situation the warmongers knew that they would not be defeated.

OK we opposed the war, but we failed to stop it. Who can resist the occupation as a historical fact?

In Iraq, the forces of the labor movement had suffered heavy defeats. Since 1968 the Baathist government has been very active in smashing all resistance. The catastrophic Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 was followed by even more catastrophic military adventures in Kuwait. 13 years of sanctions added their toll. By 2003, the Iraqi working class was disorganized, leaderless and exhausted.

The organizations of the Iraqi working class existed only outside Iraq, ironically in the very imperialist countries that had demanded their obliteration. Traditionally Holland, the UK, and the USA have been the main centers for the exiled Iraqi left. Since 1991 they have been operating in Northern Iraq. From exile the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) and numerous other independent Iraqi leftists opposed the war.

If the communists are weak can the Baathists muster support?

When war was declared, the Iraqi people took some measure of revenge on the Baath Party by leaving it to its fate, refusing to defend it. The Baath nationalist dictatorship was unable to stand up to the assault. Aware that it was not able to win any head-on military confrontations with the American forces, the Baath Party preferred to melt away. The dictatorship had given orders to its followers, to its Republican Guard and other elements close to the regime, to embark on a campaign of looting and murder. The world watched as the museums and the banks were stripped.

But the Baathists are still resisting the occupation

In the weeks since the fall of Baghdad, Baathist forces have been engaged in a campaign of provocation and sabotage that has reinforced their anti-worker credentials. They have routinely sent armed men into unarmed demonstrations and shot US soldiers, inviting return fire. They have attacked Iraqi electricity workers trying to restore power to parts of the city of Baghdad. They have given the occupying forces a ready excuse to do what they will. Under their leadership, Baghdad fell and was occupied by the Yankee invader. This fact alone is enough to condemn the dictatorship to ignominy.

If neither the communists nor Baathists can defeat the occupation, how do we take our fate into our own hands?

The occupation is a historical fact. We must learn from it that we must never trust a nationalist dictatorship to defend the workers anywhere, at any time.

We are unable to undo history. We must not tire no matter how bitter the pill it forces down our throat. The occupation of Iraq by the Yankee invaders is a painful state of affairs.

Rather than desperation, what is required now of the Iraqi revolution is firmness. We must strive to turn this reversal into its opposite, into a defeat for imperialism. A number of important steps have been taken already. Generally, we must turn the Imperialist occupation into a workers’ revolution.

How do we go from occupation to revolution?

It is clear that occupation will not end without a victorious armed struggle. Having said that, for the Iraqi left to start armed struggle against the Yankee occupier at this stage is suicidal. It would in fact not be very different from the tactics of the Islamic groups in Palestine. Small forces of armed men taking pot shots at passing US convoys may meet the mechanical demands of anti-imperialists in the West, but it offers no solution to the Iraqi working class.

What is your perspective?

Iraqi left forces must form a united front of labor and begin organizing a liberation movement. The people of Iraq already march through the streets protesting the occupation. Their anger and their energy must be harnessed. We need boycott the puppet Governing Council, which is made up of handpicked US stooges and demand and urgently build a constituent assembly. That way we can build the mass workers movement as the only possible way we can liberate Iraq.

How can we do this practically?

There are signs of this process beginning. The Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) is playing a lead role in organizing the movement. It has already initiated “The Preparatory Committee for Forming Workers’ Councils and Trade Unions in Iraq”. This is an excellent development. The councils in particular have the potential to become the basic organizations for workers’ democracy.
The WCPI have formed a union for the unemployed. As of June 17th, they had signed up around 20,000 members to the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI). The basic demands of the union can be summarized as “either jobs, or Unemployment insurance”. They have already scored astonishing successes, such as the occupation of the old Iraqi trade union building. The soldiers of Iraq’s Army have been successful in their demand for payment of their wages.
The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) was founded on the 22nd of June. Already they have established the first women’s shelter in the Middle East. They are organizing against the Islamist elements that are trying to impose the reactionary veil and other aspects of their reactionary politics on the secular women of Iraq, and they are organizing against the occupation.

How does this kind of organizing help in the struggle for freedom from occupation?

Firstly it takes the initiative back from the Islamists. After the collapse of the dictatorship, the Islamic currents gained a brief advantage. They were the only organization in Iraq that had a ready audience and an existing infrastructure. They sent their armed men into hospitals and food banks and set themselves up as repositories of medicine and general help.

It did not take long for the true nature of this movement to show itself. Liquor stores were bombed, women were forced to adopt Islamic customs.

Secondly, this kind of movement is a mass movement that is oriented directly to the blue-collar workers and the unemployed who number in the millions. It is imperative that the movement must encompass oil and transport and other workers, decommissioned soldiers, students etc. This movement must evolve to include all the working classes and other exploited classes in Iraq.

Is there really no alternative but a workers’ revolution?

There will be no Marshal plan for Iraq. While George Bush may be able to pledge 15 billion dollars to help fight AIDS in Africa (Bush’s re-election is coming up) he is unable to find the money to rebuild Iraq. The US economy is not the powerhouse it was in post World War II period.

Let there be no mistake, it is the imperialists of the world, and the USA in the first instance, that are responsible for all the tragedies of modern Iraq, including Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Far from being liberators, the Yankees are seen correctly as the cause of Iraq’s suffering. As Saddam himself said, the Baathists were brought to power “aboard an American train”. Far from greeting them as liberators, we should present them with a bill for the last 35 years of Iraq’s suffering.

The demands for jobs and for unemployment insurance will not be met. The capitalists of Iraq are not able to offer anything to the workers. Neither are the capitalists of the USA.

But there are factories in Iraq. There are fields in Iraq. There are minerals in Iraq. And there are millions of workers, scientists, technicians, peasants and students, soldiers and mothers in Iraq.

It is time to take these resources, from the fields of Babylon to the oilfields of Kirkuk, and to put them to work for the good of the toilers of Iraq.

How do workers and peasants take control?

It is necessary for the movement that has already started fighting to begin occupying the factories and the oil fields.

We have shown that we can organize the defense of our streets and neighborhoods; now let us run and organize the defense of our workplaces.

If we do not start taking what is ours, the American occupier will. Their plans to privatize public industry into the hands of their own capitalists are well known.

This ancient civilization that gave the world the first alphabet, can once again lead the world by showing the way to a truly human, socialist society. We can do this by convincing Iraqi workers that they can win a new society in which workers and producers are able to transcend the tyranny of imperialism and capitalism.



Workers Aid to Free Iraq!
The red-hot question facing workers internationally is this: can Bush get away with his invasion and occupation of Iraq?The US stepped up its role of world policeman by unilaterally invading Iraq to make ‘regime change’. The ‘blank cheque’ that the US issued after S11 was filled out. The invasion of Iraq marked a decisive shift from the previous Gulf War which stopped short of invasion, and the wars in Serbia, Kosovo and Afghanistan that were waged jointly by all the imperialist powers.By going it alone, the US was signaling a breakdown of the UN and the ‘collective security’ of the imperialist bloc.The open rivalry of the US, EU, and less visibly, Japan, the major imperialist powers, was now ‘all go’ again. The US invaded and occupied Iraq.
This defeat had serious international repercussions most notably the stepping up of attacks against Palestine, against the revolutionary workers in Latin America, further repression of migrants and trade union rights in the US, and the warnings to Iran and North Korea that the US would not tolerate the development of nuclear weapons. The cost of this invasion to the US is that the Emperor now has no clothes.All the flimsy pretexts for war have been exposed as lies. The end of Saddam has brought a US military dictatorship up against the Iraqi people and their desire for democracy. So now US imperialism faces the prospect of escalating resistance in Iraq. If this opposition becomes organised and spreads internationally this can reverse some of the setbacks flowing from Iraq’s defeat.
Already opposition in the imperialist countries is spreading among those who supported the war as the reasons for the invasion are being seriously challenged even inside the ruling class. However, while we call on workers in these countries (and in their lackey client states like NZ) to mobilise and defeat their own ruling classes to prevent them from going to war and to get the US/UK out of Iraq, it is the ongoing armed confrontation between US military and the Iraqi people that is the critical point for the world revolution.
Faced with this reality, we urgently need a specific plan of action to support this resistance.If it was correct to defend Iraq during its war with the imperialist invaders it is still correct to call for military aid to go to the resistance to defeat the imperialist occupiers including those of the armed forces of our‘own countries’.If it was correct to bloc militarily with the Baathists and Islamics against the imperialists, it is still correct today to bloc with all those fighting the imperialists.However, these two political currents have their class base in the national state bureaucracy and the petty bourgeoisie. Their real interests are in doing a deal with imperialism to get the franchise to run Iraq. Therefore we defend them only if they are fighting the imperialists and not the workers.
That is why we say that the working class and the poor peasants alone have an interest in liberating Iraq from imperialism.Working class organisations have to be rebuilt. We support all the efforts of revolutionaries to organise and arm workers. We support the organisation of the unemployed for jobs, workers’ occupations of factories, and the formation of workers’ self-defence committees and militias.

That is why we call for the anti-war workers in the labour movement to take action to Free Iraq.We say that workers’ material aid should go only to those workers and peasants who organise independently of the capitalist, petty capitalist and reformist parties whose class interests are to collaborate with imperialism. We also make clear that, to organise and mobilise successfully against imperialism and its national collaborators, a revolutionary party capable of leading the insurgent workers and poor peasants must be built as part of a new international revolutionary working class party.

You can get involved by taking the campaign for NZ workers’ aid to Iraqi workers into your unions and get resolutions in support of the following organisations:

“Union of the Unemployed in Iraq” Union_u_iraq@yahoo.com

Read their official letter to all labor unions and organisations around the world
“Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq”nadia64uk@yahoo.com
announcement of formation on June 22 in Baghdad

http://www.wpiraq.org/english/baghdad010703.htm

Also read about the formation of a “Preparatory Committee for Forming Workers’ Councils and Trade Unions in Iraq” at:

http://wpiraq.org/english/moayed10703.htm

Written by raved

January 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

THE ZIMMERWALD ‘LEFT’ AND THE LESSONS FOR TODAY

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Zimmerwald Part 3:

How and when did the split which formed the Zimmerwald Left in 1915 take place? Why was this the important step to building a new international? What are the lessons to be learned today as US imperialism steps up its war drive? With the end of the Soviet Bloc most of the Western left has reverted to a Menshevik position of putting faith in the completion of the bourgeois revolution. They have given up on any belief that the working class is the revolutionary class and substituted the petty bourgeois intelligentsia. Those who adapt to democratic imperialism, Stalinists, centrists, and social democrats avoid fighting their own ruling class! They turn their backs on revolutionary Marxism, Leninism, and Bolshevism. As the contradictions of imperialism intensify these Menshevik currents form a counter-revolutionary barrier to the leftward movement of workers and poor peasants. That is why we need a New Zimmerwald, a new Bolshevik left, and a new Communist International.

Zimmerwald at Last

During the first year of the war the pressure from the left for an international conference to unite those prepared to break with the social chauvinists and pacifists was sabotaged by the right and centre. The preliminary conference in Bern on July 11 1915 was dominated by the right and centre and rejected Zinoviev’s motions for revolutionary mass actions against the war. When the Zimmerwarld Conference was finally held, September 5-8, 8 delegates including the Polish, Russian delegates met beforehand and formed the ‘Zimmerwald left’. They were Lenin and Zinoviev (Bolsheviks), Berzin (Latvian social democrats), Radek (Polish-Lithuanian opposition), Borchardt (for Lichenstrahlen in Germany), Hoglund and Nerman (Swedish and Norwegian left), Platten (Switzerland). Trotsky was among several others who attended this meeting but did not endorse the left’s position.

Liebknecht writing from prison greets the delegates and calls for a “settling of accounts with the deserters and turncoats of the International”. He urges the delegates to fight an international class war and to break with false appeals to national and party unity. He concludes:

“The new international will arise on the ruins of the old. It can only arise on these ruins, on new and firmer foundations. Friends – socialists from all countries – you must lay the foundation stone today for the future structure. Pass irreconcilable judgement upon the false socialists…Long live the future peace among peoples! Long live internationalist, people-liberating,

The formation of the ‘Zimmerwald left’ was the decisive step in the break with the old international. Lenin and Radek had drafted resolutions to put to the conference. Radek’s was adopted but Lenin’s references to support for colonial wars and calling for ‘defeat of one’s own country’ were omitted. Yet Radek’s draft was still strong. The war is characterised as an imperialist war. The causes of war can only be overcome by socialist revolution in the leading countries. The majority of the socialist international has gone over to the social patriotism of their national bourgeoisies. The ‘centre’ current of pacifists such as Kautsky is more dangerous than the open patriots because it misleads and confuses the more advanced workers. The left must struggle against social patriotism with every method at its disposal – rejection of war credits, propaganda against the war, demonstrations, fraternatisation in the trenches, strikes etc. Quoting Liebknecht’s letter, Radek concludes: “Civil war, not ‘civil peace’ is out slogan” (LSRI, 299).

The debates centred around the question of ‘civil peace’ versus ‘civil war’. Most delegates were for ‘peace’ because they said workers were demoralised, confused and needed further preparation before they could turn the war into a ‘civil war’. Those against ‘civil peace’ also included Trotsky who opposed to pacifism ‘class struggle and ‘social revolution’. Chernov the Russian socialist revolutionary said that the “struggle for peace exclusively” must be extended to the “struggle for social revolution”. Radek’s resolution that put the case for ‘civil war’ was voted down 19 to 12 and did not become part of the final manifesto. Trotsky and Roland-Holst, Chernov and Natanson voted with the Zimmerward 8.

Zimmerwald Manifesto

The Zimmerwald Manifesto addresses the Proletarians of Europe: “one thing is certain: the war that has produced this chaos is the product of imperialism…economically backward or politically weak nations are thereby subjecated by the great powers, who, in this war, are seeking to remake the world map with blood and ironin accord with their exploiting interests…In the course of the war, its driving forces are revealed in all their vileness…The capitalists of all countries who are coining the gold of war profits out of the blood shed by the people, assert that the war is for defence of the fatherland, for democracy and the liberation of oppressed nations…thus the war reveals the naked figure of modern capitalism which has become irreconcilable not only with the interests of the masses of workers, not only with the requirements of historical development, but also with the elementary conditions of human existence…this situation that faces us, threatening the entire future of Europe and humanity, cannot and must not be tolerated any longer without action…

So far so good, but what action? The Manifesto concludes: “Proletarians! Since the outbreak of the war you have placed your energy, yiour courage, your endurance at the service of the ruling classes. Now you must stand up for your own cause, for the sacred aims of socialism, for the emancipation of the oppressed nations as well as of the enslaved classes, by means of irreconcilable class struggle”.

“Class struggle”? What does this mean? Socialists in the countries at war are told to take up “this task”. What is this? “peace among the people”. Compared with real task of turning the imperialist war into civil war this is a pious platitude. (320)

Lenin, Zinoviev, Radek, Nerman, Hoglund and Winter of the Zimmerwald left produced a statement protesting the ommision of any “characterisation of opportunism” as the main cause of the capitulation to war, and any clear presentation of “methods of struggle against the war”. But they said that they would still vote for the Manifesto as a “call to struggle, and because we want to march forward in this struggle arm in arm with the other sections of the International”.

Zimmerwald leads to inevitable split

The Zimmerwald left was aware of the need to use the left position to break with the right and centre to form a new international. Lenin and the others (excluding Trotsky) saw that a split was necesssary. Radek calls the betrayal of the opportunist a de facto split. The failure to prepare for a new international quickly was to set the scene for later defeats. This is most obvious in Lenin’s critique of the Spartacists for not taking a firm independent line against the centrists in Germany.

The main lesson from tZimmerwald was that the left needed to strike out on an independent course (collaborating where possible at Zimmerwald etc) to win over the most advanced workers, with both a critique of opportunism and the revolutionary mobilisation against the ruling class.

Radek put this forcefully in his report on the conference: “It may be a long-time before the masses, bled white by the war recover and renew the struggle. We can shorten this time, however by explaining to the most conscious workers why the International collapsed, how they have to struggle, for what goals they must appeal to other workers, and how they must organise the struggle under conditions of military rule. The more difficult the situation the clearer must be the politics of socialism. It is never too early to tell the workers their true situation” (339).

Lenin’s critique of Luxemburg

Lenin critiqued Luxemburg and the German Spartacists for following the Zimmerwald Manifesto in toning down their critique of opportunism and failing to break from the centrists and create an independent party. He was responding to Luxemburg’s famous ‘Junius Pamphlet’.

“The chief defect in Junius pamphet…is its silence about the connection between social chauvinism …and opportunism..This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it is impossible to account for the ‘betrayal’ [of the 2nd international without linking it up witih opportunism as a trend with a long history behind it, the history of the whole Scond International. ..It is also a mistake from the practical political standpoint, for it is impossible either to understand the ‘crisis of social democracy’ or overcome it, without claifying the meaning and the role of two trends, the openly opportunist trend…and the tacitly opportunist trend…A very great defect in revolutionary Marxisn in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organisation that would systematically pursue its own line and educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an organisation would have to take a definite stand on opportunism and Kautskyism (436).

Lenin also criticises Luxemburg for not understanding that a civil war against the bourgeoisie was necessary. “In saying that the class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion, Junius applies Marxist dialectics only half way…Marxist dialectics call for a concrete analysis of each specific historical situaiton…Class struggle…is too general and therefore inadequate in the present specific case. Cvil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe…from invasion” (443)

Lenin explains these defects in Luxemberg’s position materially as due to the ‘environment’ of German social democracy and the fear of the leftists to follow “their revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusions”. As a result Luxemburg pulls back to “something like a Menshevik ‘theory of stages’ of first defending a republic and then to the next stage – socialist revolution”

“But this shortcoming is not Junius’ personal failing, but the result of the weakness of all the German leftists, who have become engangled in the vile net of Kautskyite hypocrisy, pedantry and “friendliness” for the opportunists.”

Trotsky the semi-menshevik

Trotsky’s role in all this was confusionist. He had illusions in winning of the ‘centre’. He talked of Kautsky moving left. He confused the necessary subjective task of winning the most advanced workers (Radek’s point) with the objective backward consciousness of workers. This misled him into trying to influence the party leaders of the centre like Kautsky who had “authority” with the masses. Hence his mechanical schematic view that workers had to stop fighting themselves before they would fight their own bourgeoisies. This was true but undialectical.

Trotsky was proved wrong. When the German soldiers and sailors mutinied in 1918 they fulfilled the first part of Trotsky’s schema. But instead of turning their guns against the bourgeoisie, they were talked into exchanging their guns for votes in a German Republic. In Russia, the first revolution in February against the Tzar did not succumb to the bourgeoisie. The armed workers retained their guns, defeated the counter-revolution and went on to make a socialist revolution.

What was the lesson from Zimmerwald? Lenin expressed it very well. Imperialist wars can be won by workers only by means of a socialist revolution. Wars open up revolutionary crises and the revolutionary leadership must clearly take the lead from the right and centre of the party. The right goes further to the right and drags the centre with it. Failure to break from the centre was the fate of the German Spartacists. The lack of as Bolshevik party in Germany was the vital factor that allowed the counter-revolution to succeed. The defeat of the German revolution was ultimately to bring the defeat of the Russian revolution in 1991.

Lenin’s “Socialism and War” pamphlet from 1915 is available online at;
http://www.marxists.de/war/lenin-war/index.htm

We need a new Bolshevik International

Menshevism allows the possibility of a ‘peaceful’ evolutionary transition to socialism and so sees bourgeois democracy as a shell for workers democracy. But In times of war capitalism doesn’t want workers votes it want their blood. Revolutionaries have to counter that by building independent workers organs that do not rely on bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy is the dictatorshp of the bourgeoisie counterposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat. That’s why we were against bourgeois democracy in the former DWS’s. As Trosky said bourgeois democracy could only be counter-revolutionary in a DWS.

Today the remains of the 2nd International are even more openly social imperialist. Socialism has virtually dissappeared inside imperialism. The new imperialism promotes western values of democracy and human rights as the means of ‘civilising’ the colonial and semi-colonial world. The remains of the 3rd international have become 2nd internationalists in the imperialist world, In the ‘3rd world’ they are for the patriotic popular front to complete the bourgeois revolution in the former workers states and in the semicolonies. This means counterposing the international civil society of Porto Alegre to the rogue institutions of globalisation such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO etc. Both of these currents endorse the right of imperialism to intervene in oppressed states to remove local dictators and facilitate ‘democratic’ regimes. They are against the armed struggle of colonial and semi-colonial peoples to do it themselves.

The degenerate Trotskyists are joining forces with these betrayers to revise the permanent revolution and promote the democratic stage as a necessary preparation for the socialist stage. But this is a grotesque deformation of the theory of permanent revolution that says that the democratic stage can be completed only by socialism. That is, the struggle right now is for socialism during which the incomplete democratic tasks will be completed.

Zimmerwald teaches us the importance of the fundamental distinction between the methods of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks explained by Lenin in What is to be Done, and then proven decisively i the massive betrayal in imperialist war. The Mensheviks wanted peace first, that is an end to military imperialism by peaceful imperialism. This was so because it was the institutions of bourgeois democracy, parliament, pressured by the masses that would enact peace. The Bosheviks, dominating the Zimmerwald Left, saw the need to activate the working masses directly to stop the war by turning the imperialist war into a ‘civil war’.

Thus the Bolsheviks called for the struggle for socialism as the only way to stop the imperialist war. They knew that this struggle would transform workers from a backward, defensive consciousness, in awe of the bosses’ parliament, into a revolutionary force capable of socialist revolution.

Today, under conditions of growing crisis and drive to imperialist war on the part of US imperialism, revolutionaries have this same task. We need a New Zimmerwald. We have to reject the Menshevik program of counterposing bourgeois democracy to US imperialism in the Porto Alegre, anti-globalising, sense. We have to break from the politics of the popular front and internationally from the Menshevik international. We have to rebuild a new Bolshevik International now!

All page references are to Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International. Documents: 1907-1916. The Preparatory Years. Edited by John Riddell. Monad Press, New York, 1984.


Written by raved

June 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm

SHOULD WORKERS VOTE IN CAPITALIST SOCIETY?

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Communists view elections to parliament as a democratic right that workers have won over more than a century. They won the right to form unions and to vote as part of their struggle for inclusion into bourgeois society as equal citizens. They believed that the state was ‘neutral’ and that the majority ruled. These were important victories because they created better conditions for the building of workers organisations as a step towards socialism. However, elections in themselves cannot revolutionise capitalism because the state is really the bosses’ state enforcing and protecting their private property. As Lenin might have said, elections allow workers to stop work only long enough to vote for their oppressors.So why should workers bother voting?

The reason is that workers can only come to the realisation that the state is not neutral but serves the bosses through experience of oppression. The capitalist nature of the state is not immediately obvious. The state passes itself off as class-neutral, managing capitalism for the benefit of all. In doing so it reinforces the ideology that rather than exploit workers as a class, capitalism treats all individuals as equals in the market. (1)

It was the experience that some individuals were more equal than others in the market, that led workers to first form unions. They found that striking led to their defeat at the hands of the cops, armies and scabs. So they created Labour parties in the belief that a workers’ government could reform capitalism or even create socialism. We call such Labour parties ‘bourgeois-workers’ parties because, while they have a bourgeois program to manage capitalism, they are based on the collective consciousness of trade unions or organised labour.

These Labour parties were a progressive step because they created platforms on which organised labour could raise demands that could not be met. The state’s ability to meets workers‘ needs came into contradiction with its actual role in guaranteeing profits. This is particularly true in periods of depression and war when ‘workers’ parties openly attack their trade union supporters.

Therefore to free workers from the illusion that it is possible to reform capitalism in their interests, it is necessary to vote ‘their’ parties into office until their attacks on workers destroy any remaining illusions that capitalism can be reformed through parliament. This would prove in practice that the parliamentary road was a dead end..

Critical Support

We call the united-front to vote bourgeois-workers’ parties to power in order to expose them, critical support. This means that we support their election only to destroy them in office. We never abandon our independent communist program to suggest that these parties are capable of reforming capitalism. This tactic was first developed by Lenin during the period immediately after the First World War to destroy the illusions in mass Labour parties in office and to win workers to communism. It is based on two pre-conditions.

First, the illusions that workers have in ‘their’ parties are ones that reflect a level of class-consciousness found in an organised trade union movement. It is not sufficient that individual workers have ‘illusions’ in a party. For example, some workers vote for rightwing, even fascist parties, but that is not a reflection of their class interests, rather it’s an attack on their own class. Second, we must withdraw critical support as soon as a bourgeois-workers’ party is elected and intensify workers’ attacks on the government to activate the contradiction between the bourgeois program and the workers suport to explode it.

Therefore, critical support is only justified when a party has ‘organic roots’ in the organised labour movement and is not openly attacking that movement. Critical support is never more than a tactic to destroy bourgeois workers parties and to advance the level of working class consciousness for the overthrow of the capitalist state. Much of the left has applied this tactic as if it was a strategy, entered Labour Parties and built long term uncritical support for reformist parities. This is a reversal of the tactic of critical support because it suppresses the class contradiction by adapting workers demands to what bourgeois-worker parties can deliver.

NZ Labour’s betrayals

The NZ Labour Party began as a bourgeois-workers party in NZ in 1916. It was formed by the unions after a period of bloody defeats by the state forces. Even in its early radical days, Labour’s program was one of class collaboration between workers and the industrial capitalists. Yet is was able to build a strong following in the unions on the basis of heavy state intervention in a protected economy even though this required the repression of strikes during the war and up to its defeat in 1949. It held office only briefly in 1957-60 and 1972-75 before it was returned as the Fourth Labour Government in 1984.

Despite its open attacks on workers during the period 1984-90 which drove many workers to abstain or vote for other parties, Labour retained its core support in the trades unions. There was no emergence of a left party aligned to the trades unions. The left split into the New Labour Party in 1989 did not gain much trade union support and rapidly turned into a mini popular front by aligning with bourgeois currents in the Liberals, Democrats and Greens.

The Labour movement was severely defeated by the economic and social reforms of the 4th Labour government, but Labour did this without smashing the unions. In fact Labour’s reactionary reforms were possible only because of its ‘partnership’ with the union bureaucracy.

It was National’s attack on the unions in 1991 that was designed to smash the unions by de-recognising the labour bureauracy. Workers recognised when they mobilised in their tens of thousands against the Employment Contracts Bill and in their thousands against the implementation of the ECA between May 1991 and the election in 1993. Whatever illusions that had been severely strained by ‘Rogernomics’ were quickly restored when they again voted Labour to get rid of National and its dreaded ECA in 1993. Thus the critical support tactic to return Labour to office remained the correct tactic in 1993.

In 1993 we (then Workers Power) took an ultraleft stand and refused critical support to Labour and the Alliance. We argued that Labour had abandoned workers and that the Alliance was a popular front because it included the bourgeois Liberals and Greens. Today we attribute our ultraleft posture during this period to our active participation in the high level of worker struggle which we incorrectly concluded proved that the working class was mobilising outside parliament. We were very wrong.

After 1993 we had corrected our position when it was obvious that workers were going nowhere but back to Labour. The Alliance still had bourgeois fragments in it but we thought they were weak compared with the NewLabour fraction. So in the 1996 election we called for a vote for Labour in constituencies and a list vote for the Alliance to avoid splitting the vote. We strongly opposed a vote for NZ First which went on to form a Coalition with National.

At the last election in 1999 we challenged Labour and the Alliance to govern together to live up to their promises to workers to shift away from 15 years of neo-liberalism and 9 years of open bourgeois rule.

However, we also recognised that the damage done to the organised labour movement by 15 years of neo-liberal reforms had decimated the unions so that many workers as individuals. We said that both parties would betray workers further and would move right towards Blairism.(2) The biggest test would be the Labour/Alliance commitment to rebuilding the labour movement.

In government, Labour turned into a left-centre Blairite party that openly oriented towards business (balanced budget etc) doing little for workers. It raised the top income tax from 33% to a mere 39% for those over $60,000. It abandoned its ‘closing of the gaps’ under pressure from business. Its social welfare reforms were based on the Blairite concept of individual social responsibility.Its renationalisation of ACC was opposed by the bosses but is partly paid for by charges like car registration that hit low paid workers hardest.

Most importantly, the Employment Relations Act (ERA) fell far short of reviving the conditions for a strong labour movement. Its underlying philosophy was to revive and empower the labour bureaucracy as a means of managing and regulating workers as individuals and containing union democracy and solidarity.

Margaret Wilson, its architect, is an admirer of the original Industrial, Conciliation and Arbitration (IC&A) Act of 1894 which was designed by the Fabian Socialist William Pember Reeves to use the state to prevent workers from engaging in struggle over industrial matters and damaging the ‘national interest’.At the time Harry Holland called the IC&A Act ‘labour’s leg iron’. So for Wilson, the ERA was a return to the Liberal ‘classless’ philosophy of the 1890’s and a sure sign that Labour had become a Blairite Party.

The Alliance despite its attempts at ‘social’ reforms got dragged to the right in the Labour/Alliance Coalition. Anderton and his faction was clearly bent on integrating the Alliance back into Labour. This showed up in the failure of Harre’s faction to get the employers to pay for extended Parental Leave, and the tiny amount of money put into Anderton’s regional development.

The Alliance amendments to the ERA failed to shift Labour’s liberal philosophy of class reconciliation back towards a active labour movement orientation. This was demonstrated when Harre allowed Anderton to publicly admonish her attempts to meet striking NZ Herald workers in 2001.

Therefore the point of our critical support in 1999 had been made; to vote into office and fight both parties in Government would help to expose their real bourgeois program. Both parties shifted to the right and their policies clearly showed that the needs of workers were subordinated to making profits. But does this mean that Labour or the Alliance have ceased to be a bourgeois-workers parties? Have they severed their historic organic links to the organised labour movement?

Degenerated Parties

Labour has done in office what what Labour governments have done since 1935. Labour governments have always attempted to manage capitalism in the interests of the dominant fraction of capital. This fraction is no longer the domestic manufacturers but international capital which now dominates production in forestry, energy, transport and communications. Today the revival of the unions as ‘social partners’ serves international capital by managing the provision of skilled and ‘knowledge’ labour which is in short supply.But to do this the Labour/Alliance government had to reconstitute the unions as a fully-fledged ‘‘stakeholder” or “partner” with capital. This was necessary to discipline labour and extract higher productivity and therefore higher profits.

Thus the ERA is a ‘charter’ for the labour bureaucracy. It is a legal framework that recognises the rights of unions to organise and rebuild after the massive defeats imposed on unions under the ECA. This ‘rebalancing’ of industrial relations gives union officials more powers to regulate labour but also gives the rank and file more freedom to mobilise. These includes the rights of information, of access, of joining collectives and of building multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs).

Since it is the unions alone that constitute the base organisations of the labour movement, and are the potential for ‘revolutionising’ that movement (and all oppressed peoples), we have to defend the gains that the ERA represents over the ECA and use them to build a fighting, democratic union movement. We have to turn Blairite Labour’s ‘leg-iron’ into a ‘crutch’ for reviving the labour movement.

For that reason, in drawing up a balance sheet of Labour’s record for workers, the ERA represents a clear gain in keeping alive the organic link between organised labour and the Labour party. But because this link is mediated by a labour bureaucracy (which has to organise unions so as to control them in the interests of employers) the contradiction between the working class and the bosses becomes expressed directly as a contradiction between the rank and file and union bureaucrats. (3)

So the ERA has restored the union bureaucracy (National will abolish again if it gets into power). But this is at the expense of recreating conditions in which the rank and file can rise to challenge the bureaucracy. We see this in the increase in strikes in the last two years, and most recently in the case of the PPTA where the rank and file teachers engaged in wildcat strikes against their national leadership.

This is why we argue that Labour is still a party that expresses (even if weakly) the class contradiction between workers and bosses, and that the Union leaders are the direct agents of the bosses. This means that to expose Labour’s attempts to regulate workers via the labour bureaucracy, the rank and file have to take advantage of the ERA and build a fighting, democratic union movement that can create the conditions for workers control and ultimately workers’ power.

In the process the Blairite Labour government’s attempts to regulate and contain the labour movement in a ‘partnership’ with capital will be exploded first by the renewal from below of the leadership of the labour movement, and second,by the building of a real workers party that stands on a socialist platform.

For this reason we would say that Labour as a degenerated bourgeois workers party should be returned to office until the labour movement class has the power to replace it with its own party and its own government. On that basis we urge workers to vote for Labour candidates on July 27, 2002 and prepare now to renew the fight with Labour in its second term of Government.

Alliance Mark 2

What of the Alliance after Anderton? This is a split to the left. It is the result of the rightward shift that we predicted in 1999 that created tensions between Anderton and the old NLP faction and came to a head over the war in Afghanistan.Getting rid of Anderton and the Democrats leaves the NLP and Mana Motuhake elements in control of the Alliance.

However, the fact that Harre has stuck with the Coalition Agreement and kept her job in Cabinet shows that Alliance Mk 11 still puts more stock in pressuring Labour to the left than to standing on an independent program on a union base. Harre’s Alliance shares Labour’s degeneration as a bourgeois workers’ party.

For the Alliance to become a re-generated bourgeois-workers party it has to find its own base in the trades unions. Nevertheless, as in 1999, we think that the Alliance is still a bourgeois-workers party, and call for a list or party vote for the Alliance in 2002.

Sooner or later as Labour continues to degenerate, workers will demand a new workers party to represent their class interests in parliament. They will demand that it stands on a workers platform (i.e. to express the workers needs side of the contradiction), that it stands against Labour, and does not join a coalition government with bourgeois parties, and that its MPs are recallable by the party base.The Alliance may split to become that new workers party,or a new party may be formed oout of worker-candidates that are selected directly by their unions. Either way we will fight to win such a party to a communist program to prevent that party from becoming yet another recycled bourgeois-workers party.

Workers Manifesto

For communists an election program is only a very small part of implementing a revolutionary manifesto for organising workers in their unions and workplaces to fight for jobs, living wages and adequate health, education, housing and social services and to make the rich pay for them.

Our first priority is to take this manifesto to the workplaces and into the unions to revive them as fighting democratic organisations. We know that the employers cannot deliver on these demands, so we advocate that workers push for their own control of industry and for a workers’ government and workers’ state.

Communists use elections to tell the truth. We point out that workers needs can only be met by workers taking power and forming a workers’ and working farmers’ government.

This government must defend itself from all attempts to overthrow it, and set about planning the economy to meet the needs of all workers and not just the profits of a few bosses.

A Workers’ Manifesto
1Jobs for all!For a 30 hour week for 40 hours pay.For a programme of public works to build new public housing, schooling, roads and other infrastructure.No work-for-the-dole.

2A living wage! Minimum wage of $15 per hour for all ages. No youth rates.Restore penal rates.

Smash anti-strike laws.Wages and benefits adjusted to inflation by workers committees.

3Free health and education under workers control! Free 24hr Childcare. Affordable public housing,

No user-paysfor social services.Free contraception and abortion on demand.

4Tax the rich!For a steeply graduated income tax. For a capital gains tax on companies and speculators, and confiscation of property of corporate tax evaders. Abolish the GST and all user pays taxes.

Occupy under workers control companies that close down or sack workers.

5Take back Assets!Renationalise all privatised and corporatised state assets without compensation andunder the workers control including Telecom, railways, Air NZ, oil, gas, water,forestryelectricity, TVNZ, education, health, producer boards etc.Open books to workers’ inspection under workers’ control.

6Return stolen Maori land! State financial incentives to iwi corporations that are collectively owned and operated.Nationalise capitalist land (not residential property) with leaseback rights to small farmers and financial incentives for cooperatives.Nationalise Fonterra under worker/farmer and worker control.

7Defend democratic rights!Equal rights for women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered.

Defend the rights of youth and children.Freedom from sexual and other abuse.Freedom of speech, association and assembly.Stop the Terrorism Suppression Bill.Independent Inquiry for Steven Wallace.

8Citizenship rights for Pacific Island and Asian migrant workers.Smash bosses immigration laws.

Open doors to asylum seekers.Open the borders under workers control.

Fight in the unions to build workers’ defence committees against racist attacks.

9Out of all military alliances! Take strike action to get NZ out of ANZUS. Break all military ties with Australia, the US, NATOand UK. Smash Echelon. NZ out of the UN and UN peacekeeping forces. NZ troops out of East Timor, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. No nuclear ships.

10For the independent workers’ organisations.For fighting, democratic trades unions!

For workers councils and organs of self-defence. For a Workers’ Government that can socialise the banks and big business and plan the economy to meet the needs of workers rather than the profits of the bosses.

For a Socialist Republic of Aotearoa in a Federation ofSocialist Republics of the Pacific!

Notes

(1) The state appears to be everyone’s state because it sets the framework in which all are equal in buying and selling commodities at their true value. Equal market exchange. But in reality the state presides over class society and attempts to suppress the contradiction between social production and private ownership. This contradiction then gets reproduced in the state. But the state must first create capitalist social relations of production and the market before production and exchange can happen. In the process it creates not only the market but civil society and bourgeois citizens.

(2) The New Labour Party of Tony Blair has deliberately distanced itself from the unions and positions itself as a liberal party of the ‘Third Way’ between neo-liberalism and socialism. While the majority of unions still officiallysupport New Labour, this is not to advance the particular interests of the labour movement,but to endorse the shift towards a ‘new unionism’. This is the view that labour, capital and state are all stakeholders in society so that unions have no special interests. The ‘new’ unionism is a return to the ‘old’ liberalism of turning unions into citizens’ mutual aid societies. Third Way governments therefore, are ideologically committed to class neutrality, civil society, or the community. When this is the case to call for a vote for a Third-Way government is to uncritically endorse the class neutral ideology of the capitalist state.

(3) This is analogous to the role played by the bureaucracy in the former Soviet Union. Trotsky argued that the best way to understand the role of the bureaucracy in a degenerated workers’ state was to regard it as similar to the union bureaucracy in the trades unions in capitalist countries. Like the Stalinist bureaucracy, the union bureaucracy is parasitic on the working class but remains part of that class. The union bureaucracy has its own particular interests in acting as the agents ofthe bosses in the unions, but in order to do so it has to defend the unions against the bosses attempts to destroy them.

From Class Struggle 45 June/July 2002

Written by raved

June 27, 2008 at 10:29 pm

THE REUNION OF THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM AT PORTO ALEGRE

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We reprint here an important article from Workers Democracy N8 January 22 on the role of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre held in the first week of February. We do not necessarily agree with all of the analysis, for example Workers Democracy’s decision to boycott the alternative forums held by the LBI and PO. We do agree with the call an international conference to found a new Zimmerwald. A front to prevent the advance of the Latin American and world-wide revolution, in the service of the imperialistic powers and their lackeys, the Latin American bosses´ regimes.

Yankee imperialism has begun, with the support of the European imperialistic powers and its gendarme the state of Israel, a counter-revolutionary war to try to smash the great revolution of the working class and the Palestinian people. The Israeli genocidal army has entered with blood and fire the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, occupying it, and totally unmasking the farce of a “Palestinian state” co-existing next to Israeli state.

While it threatens to intervene militarily in Colombia, and after bomb-blasting Afghanistan, Bush has jailed in Guantanamo -with the support of Fidel Castro- the heroic internationalist militias that went to fight in Afghanistan.

With these counterrevolutionary blows and offensives, the imperialistic butchers try to give a lesson to the workers and the oppressed peoples of the world, and thus, also to discipline still more their own working classes. It is the counterrevolutionary answer to the great Palestinian Revolution, and to the revolution that has begun in Argentina and whose example and expansive waves represent a threat with the reopening of working class and farmers’ struggles in the whole of Latin America.

If some time ago Yankee imperialism needed to extract from the exploitation and plundering of the semi colonial countries US$ 1000 million daily to maintain its cycle of growth, now under thee blows of the world-wide economic and financial crisis that has hit the US economy, it needs to go bombing and smashing his way like in Afghanistan, attacking its own working class with millions of layoffs, and take on a re-colonizing offensive against the oppressed peoples of the world, so as to maintain its dominant power against the competition of the European powers and Japan.

It needs to eliminate the old borders of the post Second War period, imposing new protectorates like in Kosovo or Afghanistan, with massacres like in East Timor (Indonesia) and sending whole countries into bankruptcy to make them again into colonies, with their economies under the direct control of a board of the big bankers and the imperialistic organizations such as IMF, WB, WTO, etc., as it intends to do in Argentina.

But its counter-revolutionary policy is incomplete if simultaneously the imperialist butchers do not use counterrevolutionaries of all colors in their paid service, so that they strangle from inside the revolutions in their course and restrain the fight of the workers and the exploited. For that reason, (at the same time that the imperialistic strategists reunite in NY for another stage of the Davos round. ) these paid agents and their aides reunite again in February, in the forum of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to form the counterrevolutionary “international”.

There, under the auspices of the governments of the European imperialistic regimes, meet the representatives of Fidel Castro and the Cuban restorationist bureaucracy, who support Bush in its “war against terrorism” and are co-responsible for the imprisonment of the internationalist militia fighters for Afghanistan, in the Yankee Military Headquarters in Guantanamo Bay; thus Fidel and his restorationist clique are completing their tasks to buy their right to recycle themselves as bourgeoisie and accomplish the total restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Going also re the representatives of the FARC and Latin American Stalinism in all its variants, and even the French imperialistic multimedia Le Monde, and also the Church, which while it speaks of “peace”, blesses the bombs and the weapons of the imperialistic butchers and the defeats of the oppressed peoples, like in Malvinas (so-called Falklands by its long robbers, the British imperialists. NT).

There also will be the European Social Democracy that, with Tony Blair, Jospin, Schroeder, administer the imperialistic European businesses, and the social Democratic and Stalinist union bureaucracy of France, Spain, Italy, etc., who bind the working class of those countries in social pacts to subordinate them each one to their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisie, preventing these workers from supporting the workers and the oppressed peoples, like in the wars in the Balkans and also in Afghanistan.

There also will be the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his war against Afghanistan and his reactionary National Front (that is, the use of great power chauvinism to poison workers’ consciousness and subordinate them to their bosses’ counterrevolutionary and imperialistic plans.), allowing the ferocious attack on its own North American working class, with millions of layoffs, wage cuts and “flexibilization”.

Next to these will be the union bureaucracies of all the American Continent: the CGT and the CTA of Argentina, the CUT of Brazil, the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, the Chilean CUT, etc., elbow to elbow with the employer’s association of the PyMes (Little and Medium-sized Enterprises.) of Argentina, and bosses’ representatives of other countries in all the continent. There will be the leaders of the farmers’ movement of Ecuador, of Bolivia, of the MST (Landless farmers) of Brazil, alongside, for example, the “unions” of the Brazilian police, the same ones the constitute the “death squads” who have assassinated the leader of the Brazilian PT, Celso Daniel, or who protect and arm the white guards of the landowners who have just shot in the back the leader of the MST, Jose Rainha.

Not love, but fear holds them together

What is it that explains the meeting of such like-minded counterrevolutionary leaderships, originating from all points of the planet? How do we understand the uniting in the same Forum of the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO, agent of Bush and the Yankee monopolies, with the European Social Democracy and union bureaucracies, agents each one of the imperialistic monopolies of France, Germany, Italy, etc? How is it explained that they all meet together, when their respective heads, Yankee imperialism and the European powers are joined in a ferocious commercial war for markets, raw materials and zones of influence, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, in the ex-workers states in liquidation like China and Russia?

The explanation is that there is no longer, like before, the great world-wide counter revolutionary apparatus directed and centralized by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR whose role was to contain the world-wide revolution. That Stalinist bureaucracy was recycled as a bourgeoisie, and gave the old worker states of Russia, China and the Eastern European countries over to capitalist restoration. For that reason, there must be a Sacred Union of the Social Democracy in the imperialist countries and the recycled Stalinists who are now the agents for each one of their own bourgeoisies, along with all the treacherous union bureaucracies, as well as the Church, so that they facilitate their role of containment of the world wide revolution.

While today they all attend this forum out of their common interests, that will not prevent them tomorrow to take sides with their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies in the defense of the latter’s separate interests to strengthen each one its master in the coming inter-imperialistic disputes. Moreover, in this same meeting, each imperialistic power is already instructing its own agents to defend its particular interests and businesses.

This “counter-revolutionary International” exists for the sake of strangling the fight of the masses with Popular Front policies of class collaboration.

All these counter revolutionary agents meet in Porto Alegre to discuss how to strangle and to restrain the revolutions and the struggles of the workers and the exploited. Speaking of “humanized Capitalism”, “peace”, “participatory democracy”, “anti-neoliberalism”, they prepare sleep-inducing popular front policies, of class collaboration, to deceive the masses with sweet talk, to thus give time to the imperialistic powers, and to the bourgeois regimes and governments, so that they can prepare their schemes, counter revolutionary attacks and blood baths.

They speak of “peace” to disarm the working class and the exploited farmers wherever they have begun to arm themselves or where they have joined militia, Like in Palestine, and also in order to prevent workers and poor farmers from arming where they are just beginning to think of doing so or even where there is the slightest shadow of a possibility of workers and people arming themselves.

They are definite foes of the self-organization and direct democracy of the masses, they hate the idea of the exploited and oppressed taking into their own hands the resolution of their problems. For that purpose they make social pacts, they divide the working class from the farmers and the ruined middle-class, make them subservient to the different fractions of the bourgeoisie, destroy at each stage what the masses win in the fight. They force them to fight country by country, separate the working class of the semi-colonial countries from their class allies in the imperialistic powers they support, and subordinate these working classes to the interests of their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisies.

Arafat and the national bourgeoisie of Palestine speak of “peace”, say that they want a “Palestinian State” next to the Israeli Zionist state, while they request the UN to intervene with “peace keeping troops”, try to disarm the working class and the people, and keep them separated from their brothers and sisters, the exploited in the whole Middle East. They have given imperialism and the State of Israel and its genocidal army a precious time allowing them to commence the counterrevolutionary war that attempts to smash the Great, Heroic Palestine Revolution.

In Ecuador the Stalinist leadership of the peasants movement and the working class, aborted the revolution. Along with the bourgeoisie, they set a trap for the exploited ones emboldened after throwing out two presidents in less than three years, the peasant masses –separated from the working class, which the Stalinist leaders of the unions had tied up hands-to-feet- were left to carry put revolutionary actions in mid 2000. They had been misguided by their leaders to think the task would be very easy, and sincerely believed their leadership was equally committed to overturn president Noboa as they were. But the bourgeoisie was prepared: it used the army to remove the peasants from the streets and defeated the masses, negotiated with the peasants’ leaders and passed the dollarization of Ecuadorian economy.

In Colombia, the Stalinist leadership of the FARC governs in the territories it occupies with a popular front in collaboration with the national bourgeoisie that controls the cocaine business. It also blocs with the landowners, whose private property is respected in exchange for a “revolutionary tax”, and keeps the peasants separated from the working class in the cities. While, the Stalinist leadership of the unions controls the working class movement, so preventing it from uniting its struggles with the peasants’ and leaves both workers and peasants at the mercy of Pastrana’s government and the paramilitary gangs that assassinate at close range their political leaders and union activists.

In Brazil, Lula and the PT, and the leaders of the CUT –hosts to the Forum of Porto Alegre- speak of “peace” and “participative democracy”, while they tie the hands of the working class with social pacts, divide it from the landless peasants, support the repressive government of Cardoso, while the white guards massacre in the fields and the police death squads reappear to attack the workers’ organizations and the left.

In Chile, the Communist Party that controls the unions and the student federations, supports the “conciliationist” government of Lagos and the cosmetic reforms made to the Constitution of the 80’s, so that the Pinochetist regime can remain unchanged under the mask of an allegedly “democratic” one. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the FLMN and the Sandinists, respectively, after having bargained the revolution to its enemies in those countries in the 80’s with the Fidelista counterrevolutionary pacts in Esquipulas and Contadora, have transformed themselves into political parties that, in the municipalities and national governments alike, are the administrators of the plans of the IMF.

All together they prepare now to also strangle the Argentine revolution: they are getting ready a popular front of class collaboration with bourgeois politicians like Elisa Carrio and the priest Farinello, with union bureaucrats, Stalinism in its different variants, a deceitful front with which, despite the weakness of the government of Duhalde they will try to induce sleep in the masses to give time to imperialism and the national bourgeoisie to enlist a caste of (military) officials and the paramilitary gangs and killers so that a blood bath is being prepared.

The “International” to fight against the proletarian internationalism.

Against all the affirmations of the secretary of the Yankee Treasury O’Neill, who said that Argentina’s crisis is “isolated”, the tidal wave of the Argentine revolutions has begun to strike in Latin America and the world.

In the first place, in Spain; the imperialistic monopolies of that country lost US$ 2000 million in a day in the Madrid stock-market, the collapse of the shares of Telefonica, Repsol, and the Spanish banks is self-demonstrative. It is clear now that the supposed “Spanish miracle” was nothing but a “false midwinter summer” of “sweet money” based on the enormous windfall profits made by these bloodsuckers at the expense of the super exploitation of the workers and people of Argentina and all Latin America, where they are left with most of the privatized companies!

The imperialistic butchers fear that the tidal wave of the Argentine revolution will revive the worker and popular uprising that began in Latin America in the heat of the Ecuadorian revolution, and that that struggle which was strangled by the action of the union bureaucracies and the Stalinists, now resurrects and regains momentum and in much better conditions, because the worldwide economic and financial crisis already goes to the heart of the United States.

And that wick has begun to ignite: the Bolivian workers and farmers have risen up again in Cochabamba, entering a true civil war with the army and the police, arming themselves and responding to the murder of their companion farmers with the execution of the military that fall into their hands. The university and high school students of Ecuador won the streets confronting the police assassins sent by president Noboa against them, as harbingers of the return to combat of the heroic workers and farmers. The workers and people of Peru persist with a great working class and popular offensive. Yesterday they threw out Fujimori and today they resist the weak government of Toledo.

The imperialists shake their knees in fear to think that, like in the decade of the 70’s, the working class of the Southern Cone, retains the enormous combat efficiency and revolutionary fist that terrorized the bourgeoisie and imperialism in that decade!

The Argentina workers and people need to unite to fight across the borders with our class brothers and sisters in the whole of Latin America, in concerted combat to defeat imperialism and the lackey governments and regimes. We must unite our most powerful class battalions, our brothers and sisters of the North American and European working class, in the first place –with its most exploited sectors, Latino, Blacks, Arabs, Africans, etc.- who are treated as pariahs in those countries, because they can strike at the same heart of these butchers and bloodsuckers.

It is a matter of life or death for the workers and the people that initiated the revolution in Argentina, because there, in the forum of Porto Alegre, are those who are preparing to strangle it. What is more, if we advance and we manage to make our revolution triumph, the imperialistic powers will no doubt try to smash us dropping their bombs, as they did in Afghanistan, and in the Falklands. Can we hope that the AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his re-colonization war against Afghanistan and in the attacks against its own working class, will call upon that class to rise in our support? Can we hope that Fidel Castro, who supports the imprisonment of the internationalist militias in Guantanamo, will call upon the whole continent to rise against imperialism?

Can we hope that the reformist union bureaucracies of the European countries will call on the working class to stop the imperialistic military machine, with a boycott, a general strike and confronting its own bourgeoisie and the imperialistic regimes, when they have allowed them to bomb and massacre in Iraq, in the Balkans, and in Afghanistan?

In order to win the unity of the working class and the exploited people of Latin America, it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracies and Stalinism. We cannot be united with our class brothers and sisters in the United States, France, or Spain, without the defeat of the labor aristocracy and the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and the European unions.

Down with the “counter revolutionary International” of the Porto Alegre Forum!

It is necessary to rebuild the IV International, the one revolutionary International, today usurped and besmirched by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites! The usurpers of Trotskyism kneel down before this “counter revolutionary International of the Porto Alegre Forum”! Long live the IV International! For an International Conference of principled Trotskyism to rebuild the IV International regenerated and re-founded!

The Porto Alegre forum is the International to that we could call “Fifth and a Quarter”: because it is not only the Second International –the Social Democracy-, the remains of the third International –the Stalinists-, but also has “a quarter” in it, contributed by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites that usurp the banners of Trotskyism and the Fourth International.

The French LCR will be there, and its leader Alain Krivine, deputy to the den of thieves that is the European “Parliament” –already a defender of the interests of their own imperialistic bourgeoisie; alongside will be the fraternal parties, Bandiera Rossa of Italy, the Spanish LCR that is in the United Left with the Stalinists, and the Democratic Socialists of Brazil, that are in government in Porto Alegre with the PT of Lula.

There will also be Self-determination and Freedom, party of the renegade “Trotskyist” deputy Luis Zamora –today a left-democrat-, the “The Militant” current, the British SWP, the UIT-CI which is supporting the MST of Argentina (long ago a partner of Stalinism in Izquierda Unida, United Left, NTO, the LIT-CI with its PST-U of Brazil and the FOS of Argentina. Also the Workers Party (Partido Obrero) of Argentina, that repeats its shameful tradition as a founder of the Forum of San Pablo, that predecessor of the treacherous Forum of Porto Alegre.

Other currents of self-proclaimed Trotskyists will participate in the “alternative forums” meeting in the outskirts of the official Forum, that are no more that the “left” cover of the counter-revolutionary “international”, that were held at last year’s Forum by the PTS of Argentina and the LBI of Brazil.

The centrists, opportunists and Pabloites run to put themselves on the feet of the Forum of Porto Alegre, showing that their international policy is but the expression of their national policy. Each one of them, in its own country, has adapted to the bourgeois regimes, the union bureaucracy and the Stalinists. The Porto Alegre Forum, that International ” Fifth and a quarter”, is “their” International!

In 1989, the centrist and opportunist currents of the Trotskyist movement -who bowed before Stalinism while the soviet bureaucracy was going into the restorationist camp –exploded in a thousand pieces. Under the weight of great world-historic defeats suffered by the working class with the loss of the workers states at the hands of the capitalist restoration, those currents made a brutal right turn to revisionism and bureaucratic centrism.

But today the revolution in Palestine, Argentine, and the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution that has become the center of the world stage, under the conditions of stock market crash, economic depression and wars, these currents unmask themselves quickly, and will further explode, have ruptures, crisis and divisions. It is as if they are gasping like fish out of water: nothing of what they write, say and do, has to do with the aspirations, the necessities nor with the combat of the workers and the exploited people. They are exposed by the force of reality: It is not possible to speak in the name of the IVth international, and at the same time to run to put oneself at the feet of the counterrevolutionary International of Porto Alegre!

Today, like yesterday, the principled Trotskyists of the COTP-CI say: Long Live the explosion!, because we know that out of those ruptures and crisis, the lively struggle of tendencies and fractions inside the Trotskyist movement, will come the healthy forces to rebuild the Fourth International. From the Organizing Committee of Principled Trotskyism (Fourth International) and from Workers Democracy, we make an urgent call to oppose this “Fifth and a quarter International” of the treason an to come to gather in an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists. It is necessary to rebuild the Fourth International!

A New Zimmerwald

An International Conference on the lessons and the strategy opposed to the colonial war in Afghanistan, an international campaign for the immediate liberation of the internationalist, anti-imperialist militias imprisoned in Guantanamo, on the lessons and the revolutionary program for the Palestine Revolution, and the revolution that has begun in Argentina. A Conference that raises the fight so that the working class of the United States, the European imperialistic powers and Japan can defeat the AFL-CIO and the reformist union bureaucracies and confront their own imperialistic bourgeoisies, and in this way, unite with the ranks of workers and the oppressed people of the semi-colonies and colonies that today are at the vanguard of the anti-imperialist fight and the world-wide revolution.

In 1914-15, the Second International –Social Democracy- voted for war credits, making the German, French, English and Russian workers kill each other in that slaughter, subordinating them to the interests of their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies. In those black hours for the world-wide working class, a small group of internationalist revolutionaries –Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht, among other, met in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, confronting the treason of Social Democracy and calling on the workers of the nations at war to turn their guns against their own bourgeoisie and to transform the war into the beginning of the revolution.

It was that handful of internationalists that then applied to the Russian revolution of 1917 the internationalist program of Kienthal and Zimmerwald: to turn the guns against one’s own imperialistic bourgeoisie and to transform the war into socialist revolution, meant in Russia the fight for “All the power to soviets”, the insurrection and the seizure of power by the Bolshevik party supported by the armed soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

There, in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, was formed the basis of the revolutionary 3rd International that was to soon bring about the triumph of October!

Today, the time has come for the working class of the world to directly oppose revolution to counterrevolution. From COTP-CI and Workers Democracy, we call urgently to make this International Conference the new Kienthal-Zimmerwald where the principled Trotskyists can recognize themselves and regroup, and put up together an international centralized leadership that unifies the combat against the usurpers of Trotskyism, as the way to regenerate and re-found the Fourth International on a principled basis.

A Kienthal and Zimmerwald which makes the Soviet strategy to fight by, so that the working class and the exploited peoples create their organs of direct democracy and dual power, and that in the heat of that fight can form in the different countries, and in Argentina, revolutionary and internationalist workers parties that are able to prepare the insurrection as an art and to take the working class on to victory. Only with such a fight, only with an international leadership of principled Trotskyists, can we advance on that road!

Written by raved

February 3, 2008 at 10:20 pm

A PRE-REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION IN RUSSIA?

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The ongoing debate between Zaschita and Stachkom over how to mobilise wokers in Russia today highlights the need for clarity of theory and practice united in a revolutionary program. What is needed is a Transitional Program for Russia based on the theory and method of Lenin and Trotsky. We outline here what we think are the essential elements of such a program.

First, in order to decide this question we need clarity on the character of Russia in relation to the global imperialist economy. Lenin regarded Russia as imperialist before the October revolution. It plundered its colonies no less than the Western powers. Today those who take the view that the SU succumbed to either state capitalism or semi-feudalism in the first decades after the revolution are inclined to see Russia as imperialist today.

Trotskyists however viewed the SU as a degenerate workers’ state until its downfall at the hands of the bourgeoisie after 1991. The restoration of capitalism was not driven by a national bourgeoisie, but by Western imperialism. So Russia today is a semi-colony of Western imperialism. Its weak national bourgeoisie dreams of a reborn Greater Russian imperialism but the re-emergence of capitalism in Russia is too late and too backward to compete with the US, the EU or Japan other than by building a fascist empire like the Nazis.

Russia’s character says a lot about its current situation. Russia is super- exploited by imperialism and this is the ultimate cause of its economic collapse, the smashing of industry and the loss of jobs and wages. Russia is therefore oppressed by Western imperialism 100 times more than it oppresses the Chechens or other nationalities. Of course a big oppression does not excuse a small oppression. But this imperialist oppression is a material reality that makes the appeals of Great Russian chauvinism influential within the working class.

The second point is that Russia’s relation to the imperialist economy is compounded by a global structural crisis of capital. Therefore the economic ‘shock therapy’ after 1991 was not an optional extra imposed by the IMF (US imperialism) but a necessary application of the law of value (structural adjustment) to restructure Russia’s economy as a source of imperialist super profits to boost flagging profits. The crisis in Russia became intensified as a result and can only be resolved in imperialism’s favour at the expense of further severe attacks on workers’ jobs and living standards.

Since the Russian masses are superexploited and oppressed by imperialism at a time of global structural crisis, can it be said that Russia faces a pre-revolutionary situation? Of course, such a situation does not follow mechanically from even the most severe economic collapse or hardship. It requires also a working class mobilised as a threat to the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Without that threat to the bosses class rule, the bosses can go on ruling in the ‘old way’ and can hide behind the ‘fig leaf’ of parliament without openly declaring a naked struggle of force. In Russia today, the workers are not yet mobilised as a force capable of beginning to pose that threat.

In this situation it is normal that the class struggle should take the form of a struggle against national oppression, and that external and internal enemies of the ‘people’ become the target of ‘red-brown’ politics. This means that Russia’s semi-colonial economic crisis is being resolved in a reactionary way on the basis of the patriotic front which unites all Russian ‘people’ against ‘foreign’ and ‘alien’ influences. If workers do not break out of the patriotic front then no pre-revolutionary threat is posed and Putin’s regime need not resort to open class violence. If they do begin to break out then events can quickly create a revolutionary situation.

If we learn the lessons of the interwar years in Europe about the causes of the rise of Fascism it is clear that a mass workers movement organised by Communists and by social democrats posed a challenge to the weak ruling class. It made it necessary for the ruling class to embark on a fascist front to smash the working class. We had a revolutionary situation in which the power bases of both classes were balanced on a fulcrum. It was only necessary for the Communists to bloc with the social democrats against Hitler to tip the balance of power in the workers’ favour.

Had the Stalinists taken Trotsky’s advice a revolutionary outcome would have been possible (see Class Struggles in Germany). Instead the Stalinists divided the workers and Hitler captured the vacillating petty bourgeois and the more backward sections of the workers. A revolutionary situation ended in counter-revolution.

What of Russia today? While the economic crisis propels workers into struggle, this struggle is largely coopted by the patriotic front. Before a pre-revolutionary crisis can emerge fully it is necessary to break the best workers from the patriotic front into a workers united front lead by revolutionary communists. As the threat posed by the united front forces the bourgeois regime towards fascism it will be necessary for revolutionaries to counter this mortal danger by manoevering to bloc with all anti-fascist forces, at the same time building an independent revolutionary workers movement.

In Russia today the workers forces are divided between first, those who neutralised and remain part of the patriotic front; second, those like Zaschita that are struggling to form an independent union movement and who bloc defensively with democratic forces; and third, those like Stachkom that call today for an offensive movement based on workers’ occupations.

Only a revolutionary party with a Transitional Program based on the theory and method of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky can unite these tendencies around demands that combine immediate and democratic demands with organisational methods that break workers from the patriotic front into the united front, and which direct this movement towards workers control of industry and ultimately the seizure of power.

Down with Putin’s Labor Code!
Down with Great Russian Chauvinism!
For an All-Russian Democratic Fighting Union!
Defend Jobs and Wages by Occupations!
Build Workers’ Factory and Self-Defence Committees!
For a new Leninist-Trotskyist Party!
For a Workers’ and small Farmers’ Government!

From Class Struggle No 36 December 2000-January 2001

LRP ON STATE CAPITALISM

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The Brazilian Trotskyist group the LBI (International Bolshevik League) and its fraternal partner the POR (Revolutionary Workers Party) of Argentina recently published an English language collection of articles towards revolutionary regroupment. Among them was an article contributed by the LRP [League for a Revolutionary Party], a tendency that holds that the Soviet Union became State Capitalist in 1939. We find it strange that tendencies that claimed to defend the former SU as a degenerated workers state until the restoration of capitalism in 1991, should be debating a tendency that rejected Trotsky’s position of unconditional defence of the SU after 1939. Here we summarise our arguments against the LRP position.
The recent publication of Tribune of Debates by the LBI and POR contains some very important documents. In particularly there are those which set out the basis for rebuilding the Fourth International on a correct basis, and the Trotskyist orientation to the counter-revolution of restored capitalism in the former workers states. In one of the articles “Ten years since the fall of the Berlin Wall” we find a strong condemnation of the PSTU which:
“follows Stalinophobic lines of the Trotskyist revisionists as Burnham, Schactman (who left the American SWP because they opposed to defend the USSR after the agreement between Stalin and Hitler), and Tony Cliff (recently dead leader of the English SWP, who was excluded from the Fourth International in 1950, when he opposed openly to defend China and North Korea against the Yankee imperialism). However, the deserters of Trotskyism have not added anything new to the anti-Marxist thesis of the old adversaries of the Trotskyism, as Hugo Urbahns, Lucien Laurat, and Majaiski who developed as theories about the bureaucratic class expropriation, the state capitalism, and the existence of neither proletarian nor capitalist states (criticized by Trotsky in “The Class Nature of the Soviet State” and in In Defence of Marxism).
Given this correct criticism of state capitalist theorists as “deserters of Trotskyism” we find it very strange that the LBI/POR includes the LRP tendency in its discussions and publishes its defence of state capitalism, “Stalinist Expansion, the Fourth International and the Working Class”. What do these comrades add that is “new” any more than the “old adversaries of Trotskyism”? Surely the LBI/POR are not thinking that the LRP version of state capitalism is any less destructive of Trotsky’s method and practice today than were the old adversaries that Trotsky confronted in In Defence of Marxism?
For according to the logic of the LBI/POR article “Ten years since the fall of the Berlin Wall” all those stalinophobes who refused to unconditionally defend the USSR right from the start must have contributed to the counter-revolution in 1991. The LRP has not changed its position, nor taken any responsibility for the counter-revolution, so why is it considered to be a worthy debating partner of the LBI/POR? Let us look at why the LRP state capitalist position must be condemned today no less than before the counter-revolution.
The LRP like Tony Cliff before them, try to turn the tables on Trotskyism by claiming that it was Trotskyism that lost the plot by abandoning Marx, Lenin and Trotsky after 1944. For the LRP any attempt to claim that the buffer states, and the USSR itself after 1939, were workers states revised a number of “Marxist fundamentals”.
Workers must make revolution
First, the LRP claim that the notion of ‘deformed workers state’ breaks with the fundamental principle that:
“Only the working class can make a socialist revolution, i.e. establish a proletarian dictatorship.”
This would be true if we were talking about the creation of the USSR rather than its expansion into Eastern Europe. Not only the LRP but the whole Fourth International forgot Trotsky’s analysis of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 where the national rights of the Poles and the property of the bourgeoisie were subordinated to the defence of the SU, despite the fact that it was the Red Army that invaded Poland and expropriated the bourgeoisie. Therefore Trotsky did not put the failure of Polish workers to expropriate their bosses before the unconditional defence of the SU and the world revolution.
The situation was no different when the Red Army reinvaded Poland in 1944. The polish working class did not expropriate the Polish bourgeoisie, the Red Army did. The fact that the Red Army stood back and allowed the Nazi’s to smash a proletarian uprising is no different from the Stalinist suppression of opposition in the SU. This is what made the Stalinist bureaucracy counter-revolutionary. What made the bureaucracy an ally of workers was its defence of state property.
Similarly the rest of the buffer states became ‘deformed’ or degenerate workers states because they were an extension of the SU under the rule of the Red Army. Of course, as Trotsky made clear in his analysis of Poland in 1939, while it was necessary for the working class to bloc with the Stalinists to defend workers property, workers had to resist being smashed by the bureaucracy and prepare for a political revolution when they could overthrow the Stalinists and take power directly.
In Trotsky’s analysis, these several aspects were not isolated but taken together in order to weigh them up and determine the class line. Thus while national workers movements were directly suppressed, internationally the working class continued to make revolutions in Eastern Europe by extension of the SU as a degenerated workers’ state. So that far from breaking with Marx view that ‘only workers can make a revolution’, under these complex concrete conditions, defence of the SU, and therefore defence of the buffer states, was the way in which “workers made the revolution”. Later we will argue that the failure to take this line is in fact counter-revolutionary.
The revolutionary vanguard
Second, the LRP says that:
“the socialist revolution can only occur when the proletariat is led by its most conscious advanced sector, organized into a Bolshevik-Leninist vanguard.”
Again this is correct and can be shown to hold in Eastern Europe because of the seizure of power by the Red Army that continued to defend workers property in the SU. Why? Because this property form resulted from the October revolution led by the Bolshevik party. Though the Bolshevik party degenerated in the SU and along with it the revolutionary Comintern, the Left Opposition and later the Fourth International kept alive the Bolshevik heritage. Therefore, once more our guide on this question must be the position of the healthy Fourth International under Trotsky until his death in 1940.
Trotsky’s method and program directed at Eastern Europe is precisely the “organized Bolshevik-Leninist vanguard” in action. Its fundamental principle is that of unconditional defence of the SU against capitalist restoration. So what would the LRP have put forward as its program in these complex concrete conditions? According to the LRP the SU ceased to be a workers state and underwent a bourgeois counter-revolution by 1939. The Stalinists had become a class of state capitalists. Therefore in the SU and in the buffer states the working class would fight for a social revolution against the Stalinists just as they would against the bourgeoisie in any other capitalist state. The fundamental principle of unconditional defence of workers property is abandoned and with it the LRP lines up on the side of the counter-revolution. Had they been a large influential organization, they would have hastened the counter-revolution of 1991.
Stalinism as counter-revolutionary
The LRP claims that:
“Stalinism constituted an alien and counter-revolutionary force within the working-class movement. By 1940, the Stalinist bureaucracy had become, in Trotsky’s words, an ‘absolute obstacle in the path of the country’s development’ and an imperialist tool. Its murderous struggle against Trotskyism was designed to prevent socialist revolutions, not to lead them.”
In fact this was Trotsky’s position on the bureaucracy in 1933 when it betrayed the revolution in Germany. But as well as being a counter-revolutionary force inside the working class that had to be overthrown, it was also a necessary ally in the defence of workers property against imperialism while the working class was too weak to win a political revolution.
What the LRP does is to take Trotsky’s political assessment of the bureaucracy as counter-revolutionary and ignore its economic position as a parasitic on workers property. So long as the bureaucracy defended workers property in its own caste interests, it was not counter-revolutionary through and through. It was not as bad as the bourgeoisie – an antagonistic class.
Of course, this aspect of the bureaucracy becomes redundant for the LRP who argue that the bureaucracy overturned workers property in 1939 and constituted themselves as a bourgeoisie. So we come back to the question of “when is a workers state not a workers state” already dealt with by Trotsky in In Defence of Marxism.
Popular Fronts
The LRP states that:
“popular fronts are class collaborationist blocs created to prevent socialist revolution, not aid and abet it.”
Applied to the buffer states this was true only in the sense that the Stalinists did not want a political revolution, or a bourgeois counter-revolution. They in fact wanted to use the “Peoples’ Democracies” to gain access to the capitalist market via the national bourgeoisies to boost the SU economy without causing a civil war or imperialist invasion.
Revolutionary overthrow
The LRP claims that:
“the bourgeois state apparatus must be destroyed by an actual revolution (a civil war by the working class against the capitalist class) rather than reformed or manipulated at the top – if a workers’ state is to be created.”
It should be clear by now, that if you define the bureaucracy as a bourgeoisie and workers property as state capitalism, then the Red Army cannot be the agency of a workers revolution. However, if the bureaucracy is a totalitarian caste inside the working class that defends and extends state property by means of the Red Army then that constitutes the overthrow of the bourgeois state.
Ironically, the LRP has to show when a social counter-revolution occurred in the SU in the 1930’s to prove their position. Trotsky at the time of his death had not abandoned the view that the bureaucracy had yet to overturn workers property in the SU. To be consistent with their own reading of Trotsky and yet claim that a counter-revolution occurred in the SU in 1939, the LRP must show that the workers state apparatus was “destroyed by actual revolution” i.e. a “civil war” rather than be “reformed (or deformed) at the top”.
1939 vs 1989
According to the LRP, the last “Marxist fundamental” revised by those who defend the buffer states as ‘deformed workers states’ is the misuse of: “Marxist theory and analysis to broadly predict developments in the class struggle and thereby guide “the line of march” for our class, the proletariat. Its aim is not to serve as a retrospective rationalisation for tailism; especially with an analysis which lacks any predictive capability.”
Lets put this to the test.
The essence of the LRP position is that there was a bourgeois counter-revolution in 1939 and not 1989. If indeed this was the case then Marxism is put to good use in abandoning unconditional defence retrospectively in 1939 and in advance of 1989. If it is wrong, then Trotskyism has not only failed to explain events, it has tailed them retrospectively and in advance thereby betraying, retrospectively and in advance, the revolution to the counter-revolution.
If we compare the events of 1939 with 1989 we find that in 1939 nothing important changed. The bureaucracy remained in power. There was a form of civil war but no overturning of state power. Trotsky did not think that the ‘civil war’ of the Stalinist purges was sufficient to smash workers property.
What makes the LRP’s theory more powerful than Trotsky’s? It is not necessary to turn the bureaucracy into a class in order to explain the post-war survival of the SU, nor its attempts to bolster the failing plan by market experiments. More importantly, it was the survival of workers’ property even under a bungled plan, and not the imposition of bourgeois work norms, that allowed the SU to survive for so long.
Therefore, not only is the LRP state capitalist theory superfluous, it is reactionary because it failed to understand the ‘gain’ represented by workers’ property and to defend it against the counter-revolution. The only advantage of the LRP theory is in its retrospective and prospective “tailism”.
By contrast what happened between 1989 and 1991 in Eastern Bloc? As the LBI/POR document “10 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall” recognises, there were a series of overturns of the state in which the bureaucracy as the ruling caste was replaced by the bourgeoisie as the ruling class. And this took the form that Trotsky had also predicted as one possibility – a social counterrevolution without a bloody civil war.
If the LRP thinks that its “Marxism” has explanatory and predictive power in the case of these events, how does it account for the massive destruction caused by the unleashing of market forces in the Eastern Bloc since 1989? Is this merely an instance of what it says is a “political transformation”? Tell that to the workers!
The Fourth International
Ironically the very explanation that the LRP adopts to account for the collapse of the Fourth International can be applied more forcefully to its own positions. In our view the whole of the Fourth International succumbed to Imperiocentrism as its leadership failed to adjust to the post-war conditions. It split into two tendencies depending on the view taken of Stalinism in the Cold War.
On the one side the majority took a stalinophile line and liquidated the vanguard behind numerous petty bourgeois ‘vanguards’ including the Stalinists.
On the other, the stalinophobes rejected Stalinism as ‘authoritarian’ and junked defence of workers’ property.
While both views were one-sided and led to opportunism or sectarianism or both, the stalinphobes did the most damage because they sold-out the gains of October in order to gain popularity with the Western labour aristocracy. It was they who prepared the way for the counter-revolution of 1989.
We count the LRP in the latter category.
As we began by saying, there is nothing in the LRP’s position today that excuses it from an active role in preparing the counter-revolution of 1989. Events since 1989 have done nothing to validate its role in history and this role must not be allowed to get in the road of the urgent task of rebuilding a new revolutionary international today.
From Class Struggle No 35, October-November 2000

Written by raved

August 27, 2007 at 9:22 pm