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

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From Class Struggle 48 December 2002/January 2003

One year after the momentous Argentinazo of December 19 and 20, workers and poor people flooded once more to the Plaza de Mayo in the centre of Buenos Aires. Unlike last year where the state forces killed 33 mainly young people and the level of protest forced the resignation of the De la Rua government, this year there was no confrontation and Duhalde’s government did not fall. A temporary stalemate exists. The bosses are relying on the union bureaucrats and so-called socialist parties to divide and rule the workers struggles. However, the forces on the militant left wing of the movement are regrouping around the occupied factories to defend the most important conquest of the revolution and to unite workers on a revolutionary action program. A member of CWG just back from Argentina reports on the prospects of the continuing revolution.

Argentina December 20 2002

The mass rally on December 20 this year (100,000 in Buenos Aires and 100,000 in the rest of Argentina) shows that a temporary stalemate exists between the two main classes in Argentina. On the one side Duhalde’s government was not challenged. It was able to pay the IMF $20 billion, make another 500,000 workers unemployed, and still rely on the union bureaucracy to buy off the majority of unemployed with US $40 a month. On the other side, an increasing number of the ranks of unemployed, employed and students are becoming angry at the treachery of the bureaucracy and the ‘left’ parties, and are openly looking for ways to break from their control and find an independent working class solution to the bosses’ crisis.

While the bosses were able to prevent the workers from using December 20 to make another Argentinazo, what was significant about this years rally, was the emergence of a class struggle left wing of the mass movement that marched separately and that broke openly with the control of the official union bureaucracy of the CTA/CCC and the unofficial ‘left bureaucracy’ that has emerged in the last year to administer the unemployment schemes.[1] Instead of of falling into the trap of trying to bring down Duhalde with street fighting, these as yet small forces rallied behind demands for strike action, for defence of the factory occupations, and for general strike leading to national workers congress in the new year.

On balance it seems that the stalemate continues but that the current situation opens the way for a deepening and widening of the revolution, to overcome the splits in the mass movement, and to break from the bureaucracy by mounting mass defence pickets of the factory occupations by all the sectors in struggle.

Brukman and Zanon leading the fight

The most visible sign of this healthy development was that of the Brukman and Zanon occupied factories leading their own column, closely associated with two other colums, that of the FTC and that of the combined forces of the RSL, SC and DO.[2] All of these columns marched behind the banners of strike and take the fight to the streets on D 19/20 (instead of a stagemanaged ‘commemoration’ organised by the bureaucracy); to fight the union bureaucracy; for a general strike to bring down Duhalde and “get them all out”; for all factories to be nationalised without compensation and under workers control; and for a 3rd national workers congress of mandated delegates for every 100 employed, unemployed workers and popular assembly members.

It was important that Brukman led the way. Brukman is the factory that represents the most politically advanced workers who are calling openly for the nationalisation of their factory without compensation and under workers control.[3] For this reason the bosses are determined to re-take this factory to destroy it as an example of how socialism can work.[4]

Zanon is another leading example. Zanon is a large ceramics factory in Neuquen in the far west of Argentina whose workers are running it at 80% capacity and providing jobs for unemployed. Zanon was recently visited by Hebe de Bonafini a leader of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Dissappeared) who immediately saw that workers were in control and were capable of producing without bosses. She reported that Zanon was proof that workers could run society not only in Argentina but the whole world.[5]

ISACO joins the occupations

In an important symbolic act, on December 20 itself, another factory occupation took place. This was ISACO a factory that made car parts, at one time employing over 200 workers, and which shut down in December 2000. It was finally declared bankrupt on 24 November this year. When the sacked workers heard this they decided to camp outside to prevent the factory being stripped of machines. They reoccupied the factory at 7 am on the 20th with plans to restart production under workers’ control. They took this decision conscious of the many other occupations that have already taken place.[6]

Defence committees

Almost all attempts by the bossses to get the police, the justice and the union scabs to retake these factories have so far failed. The recent retaking of the Halac medical clinic at Cordoba on the 17 December succeeded only because the numbers defending the clinc were too small to stop the police. The lesson being drawn is that all of the sectors in struggle have to unite to form mass defence committees against the bosses’ attempts to retake the occupied workplaces. Hence the common columns marching on the 20th put up the demand for unity to defend the occupations, clearly against the bureaucrats’ measures to divide the movement.

Build for a general strike

The second lesson is that as well as these defence committees, the rest of the sectors in struggle (unemployed, employed, and members of PAs) have to unite behind a general strike to bring Duhalde down. They take seriously the demand raised spontaneously last December 20: “out with them all, not one must remain”. But instead of organising another Argentinazo to bring Duhalde down, the union bureaucrats are conducting negotiations with Duhalde and the IMF to do a deal to rescue the Argentinean economy and avoid a popular revolution. They are jockeying to contest the April elections, or they are taking a fake left line and calling for elections for Constituent Assemblies as if these would solve Argentina’s crisis.[7] That is why the class stuggle tendency in the movement united behind Brukman and Zanon puts the demand on the bureacuracy for a general strike to bring down the government now, and a National Congress of employed, unemployed and Popular Assemblies.

‘Workers to Power’

The third lesson is that is all very well to bring down a government, but who will rule in its place? Again the experience of the unemployed movement that has called for “workers to power” for more than a year, combining with the lessons of the factory occupations, that the bosses’ property must be nationalised without compensation under workers control, all points to one solution – a workers’ revolution. That is why these class struggle currrents have united around the demand for ‘workers to power’ and for a 3rd national congress of workers early in 2003 that can become the basis of a workers’ government.

All the “left traitors” line up to serve the boss

Today the revolutionary situation in Argentina that was opened over a year ago by workers looking for their own solution to the crisis has been met by opposition from all the political currents across the spectrum of Argentina’s class structure top to bottom. Most workers have lost faith in any of the Bourgeois parties including the left Peronists like Duhalde (or De la Rua who is waiting in the wings with the retired General Rico as a running mate).

Nor are they enthusiastic to vote for left reformists like De Ellia and Zamora who promise ‘popular governments’ modelled on the popular front of the World Social Forum or on Lula’s government in Brazil. Hopes are being placed in Lula’s ability to help solve the Argentine crisis. As the pesos devaluation has restored the competitiveness of Argentina’s exports, the reformist left is looking to a revival of trade with Brazil to rescue the economy. But there is no way out of the crisis for workers via the bourgeois state. The most that can happen is that Argentina’s crisis will become joined with Brazil’s own ongoing crisis. This demonstrates clearly that the WSF is a reformist or ‘menshevik’ international that has to be confronted internationally by revolutionaries.[8]

Fake Trotskyists

The most treacherous of all are the self-proclaimed ‘workers’ parties and the left bureaucracy that put forward the solution of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is a bourgeois parliament that represents all classes. As we argued in Class Struggle No 43, the call for a Constituent Assembly when revolution is building is to reject the theory of Permanent Revolution. This theory makes it clear that in colonies and semi-colonies fighting imperialism, there can be no break with imperialism unless the working class leads a socialist revolution. The national bourgeoisie are completely dependent upon imperialism and workers alone have the class interest and class power to lead a revolution to expropriate the imperialists.

While the appeal of the elections to a popular front and the various Constituent Assemblies are being pushed non-stop, as yet none of these attempts to divert the revolution has won the support of the class struggle wing of the movement where the instinct is for ‘workers to power’. The situation is ripe for a revolutionary leadership to thrust itself to the fore and to take the lead in building organs of workers power against the union bureaucracy and against the bourgeois state.

Where to from here?

The current situation in Argentina is poised to break the stalemate and to develop in one of two directions. The bosses may succeed in dampening down the revolutionary situation with a new round of elections as a trap for the majority of workers, and the systemmatic repression of the factory occupations and militant wing of the mass movement. This would allow them to impose a solution to the crisis on the backs of the masses and avoid the threat of revolutionary upheaval.

But for this to succeed the workers revolution has to be strangled. The revolutionary situation that has opened up in the last year has demonstrated the necessity for the unity and coordination of all the sectors in struggle around the factory occupations to break with the union bureaucrats and launch a general strike to bring down the government and put a workers government in its place. The class struggle wing is now drawing these lessons and embarking on that road and building united fronts across the country. But that will not be sufficient. There needs to be a revolutionary party and program to lead the way forward.

The Revolutionary Party

The single crucial factor that will make the difference in which direction Argentina goes is the existence a revolutionary party. The instinctive struggle for ‘workers to power’ cannot happen spontaneously. It has to be built, defended and extended by creating organs of dual power. The occupations are the starting point because only they seriously challenge capitalist property rights. The intervention of the revolutionary left in the occupations is the test of their leadership. Here we see the vanguard of the workers testing out the revolutionary ideas of the more healthy parties. Some like the PO or PTS, who try to contain the struggle for sectarian or oppportunist reasons, are being exposed.[9] Those parties like the DO, the CS and RSL, and other militant workers that fight for the vanguard to adopt a revolutionary action program and for organs of workers power, will become the core of the Argentinean revolutionary party, and part of a new world party of revolution.

[1] Some instances of class struggle forces at least partially breaking with the bureacracy were; in Neuquen, Workers Democracy broke with the left bureaucracy demand to bring down the state governor and for a provincial Constituent Assembly, and called for a break with the ‘multisectoral’ popular front and for a Congress of workers that could lead to a Workers’ Government. At the Plaza de Mayo, the MTD Anibal Veron (named after the first piquetero martyr in Salta) marched to the Plaza but left rather than particpate in the union bureaucrats ‘commemoration’ of 2001; the joint column of the CS, RSL and DO, after marching to the square along with the FTC and Brukman/Zanon contingents, left to go to the Obelisk at Republic square to honour the fallen comrades.

[2] The Frente Trabajadores Combativos (FTC) is a class struggle formation of unemployed, employed and left groups and individuals who have broken from the bureaucracy. Socialist Convergence (SC) is a fraction of the Morenoist LIT (Workers’ International League) in Argentina with members in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and the Carribean. The Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) is another ex-Morenoite group taking a non-sectarian approach to party building in Argentina. Democracia Obrera (DO) is a 1998 split from the PTS (Socialist Workers Party) committed to building reforging the 4th International and playing a leading role in building class struggle united fronts in Argentina.

[3] On December 21 the night after D20, Brukman hosted an adaptation of the Brecht play “The Mothers”, a homage to the women in the 1905 revolution in Russia. It also showed a documentary film on the life of Argentininan revolutionary film -maker Raymondo Gleyzer who ‘dissappeared’ during the dictatorship in 1976. The working class audience fully participated in this cultural act joining in the production and celebrating the links between these outstanding examples of revolutionary art and the living revolution in Argentina.

[4] On November 24 the police raided Brukman and arrested the workers at gunpoint. They were charged with breaking machines in the factory. They were released on a technicality and returned to find the factory in the ands of the boss and scab workers and guarded by police. With the support of hundreds of other workers who rallied in their defence they broke through the police lines and re-occupied the factory. Late in December they were issued with another court order demanding they vacate the factory. They are rallying support for another attempt by the state and the boss to remove them in January.

[6] At a recent meeting the ‘interbarrial’ of San Martin (North Buenos Aires) as well as student and teachers’ unions decided to join in a festival on the 11th in the factory to build support for a return to production but under workers and not the bosses’ control.

[7] Contesting the April Presidential elections is conceding now that Duhalde cannot be brought down by other means. Demanding a Constitutent Assembly, a new bourgeois parliament elected by all adult citizens, now, as the PO (Workers’ Party) does, concedes that dual power organs like workers councils or soviets cannot be built now. However, if Duhalde is not brought down and dual power organs are not created before April 2003, then both contesting the elections and calling for a Constitutent Assembly may be tactical options that can be used to advance the workers’ struggle.

[8] ‘Menshevik’ refers to the majority of the Russian Communist Party after 1902 that held that history occurs in a series of stages. The WSF and the Brazilian PT follow this ideology and this traps them into forming governments with ‘progressive’ capitalists to defend bourgeois democracy on the Lula model rather than fight outright for a socialist revolution.

[9] The PTS argued against the DO’s proposed demands for December 20 at two recent meetings in Brukman and were defeated. This did not stop the PTS bringing 20 workes from Zanon to try to reverse this vote. They failed and had to march behind banners that called for a break with the bureaucracy. The PO recently lost 300 of its supporters in La Matanza (a working class suburb of Greater Buenos Aires) because it is administering the work plans and taking money from the state.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm


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Mass protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Quebec in April continued the upsurge of the anti-globalisation coalition around the world. The target this time was the re-colonisation or ‘dollarisation’ of Latin America. We assess the prospects for turning this rising populist protest into a revolutionary movement.

Seattle, Washington, Davos, Prague, Melbourne, Nice, Quebecand the list goes on to Barcelona, Genoa and beyond. These are the locations of past or future anti-capitalist protests of meetings of the world’s rich organisations and clubs such as the WTO, IMF, and World Economic Forum. At every protest a coalition of left groups, greens, anarchists, populists, and NGO’s have joined forces with some elements of the unions to physically confront and attempt to prevent these meetings of the rich going ahead.

Quebec was the most recent. So what happened in Quebec that made a difference? The authorities put up a wire fence and succeeded in keeping the protesters away from the venue. But the media focused upon the protesters and not the agenda of the rich club. We learned that the purpose of the meeting of all the Finance Ministers of North and South America (except Cuba which does not meet the US definition of ‘democracy’) was to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA.

The FTAA is modeled on NAFTA which was set up in 1992 to link Mexico, Canada and the US in one common market. Since 1992 the effects of NAFTA are clear. Mexico and Canada have been re-colonised by the US. NAFTA allows US firms to take Mexican and Canadian Governments to court if they pass legislation that limits profits. For example Metalclad Corporation got US$16 million from the Mexican Government because it was not allowed to dispose of waste and cause a public health hazard! FTAA will be the same only more. Today the US has a 75% share of the economy of the Americas. Under the FTAA it will gain an even larger share. The whole of the America’s will now become “Amerika”.

This means that as the US turns of the screws by re-colonising the America’s the class struggle will also become united across “Amerika”. Workers in the North and South will now fight alongside one another in one big class, rather than be divided by nationalist politics which weakens and destroys all progessive movements.

Already there are numerous examples of the formation of anti-free trade union and NGO alliances in the Americas. The first Summit of the Peoples of the Americas was held in Santiago Chile in April 1998. Since then many networks and coalitions have been built. Recently a top level coalition the Hemispheric Social Alliance was formed. However, these forces are still mainly international alliances of national organisations.

This is the legacy of the nationalist reformist politics of the post-war period. On the Left the legacy has been to tail bourgeois nationalism. That is why the deadly patriotic front tradition of Stalinism, Maoism, and Guerillaism that accompanied the nationalist politics of the post-war period must now be countered by an increasingly internationalist struggle that has always at the centre of the Trotskyist movement. For not only is the FTAA an instrument for re-colonising the America, under the WTO, World Bank and other agreements, globalisation brings the same free trade regimes to Asia and Africa. The potential for a global anti-capitalist movement to fight to unite workers in many countries is now a real prospect.

This is a big happening. Most of the left has become caught up in the enthusiasm of this struggle. The SWP thinks it’s the biggest thing to hit the class struggle since the Vietnam War. The SWP has split from its sister organisation the ISO in the US because it claims the ISO does not recognise the importance of the anti-capitalist phenomenon.

The SWP thinks that this “new, new left” opens up the opportunity for a rapid regroupment of the left. To prove this is possible the SWP is having talks with the LCR in France, part of the International Secretariat, the main ‘Trotskyist tendency’. Both are prepared to ‘sideline’ their differences over the defence of the former SU and focus on the main tasks of today.

However, neither of these tendencies has a record of struggle that gives us confidence in their leadership of a new regroupment of the revolutionary left. They both have a history of jumping onto bandwagons and calling them new ‘vanguards’ to replace the traditional labour movement. The current bandwagon of the anti-capitalist movement is a ‘youth bandwagon’, which has come around several times before in the post-war period. Each time youth were backed as more revolutionary than workers. The most famous was the ‘new left’ of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The ‘new left’ was more liberal than Marxist. Arising out of the post 1956 de-Stalinization it was a pacifist, humanist socialism, based mainly in the educated youth of the US and Europe. It protested the Vietnam War and rampant consumer capitalism, but it never joined forces with the conservative, established labour movement. Neither survived the austerity of the 1970’s nor the neo-liberal attacks of the 1980’s and 1990’s as a force for change. Some of the more colourful leaders of the new left became establishment figures but most dropped out of left politics.

If the new left failed to unite with workers and build a revolutionary party at a time when labour was relatively strong, what will the new new left achieve at a time when labour is weak, and the power of the US hegemonic apparatus is on the rise? The weakness of the old new left will be compounded by the absence of any strong labour movement and left politics to graft onto the new generation of youth who have no history of class struggle. As Trotsky said of the late 1930’s the crisis of capitalism is the crisis of revolutionary leadership. Today the crisis of capitalist globalisation is even more acutely the crisis of revolutionary leadership.

The class basis of resistance has to be re-created from the base up. The anti-capitalist bandwagon cannot side step rebuilding the labour unions by taking a cyberspace detour. Without the unions there is no ‘school for revolution’ (Trotsky). This is because only by fighting capital in the space of production is it possible to bring workers’ power to bear on capital.

Taking on the state machine on the streets and barricades can only win when workers control the military and state forces. This will not happen until workers build militia to defend their workplaces from strike breaking and state repression. Hyperreal fictions that reality is anywhere but production are scenarios for disaster.

So today as never before, the anti-capitalist movement needs revolutionary Marxist theory and practice. The new generations need to learn the lessons of successful revolutions and failed revolutions. That is why we have no confidence in the SWP or LCR as a new leadership. Both tendencies never learnt the lessons of the Bolsheviks and liquidated themselves as vanguard parties in the post-war period. The SWP rejected the defence of the SU the supreme test of Bolshevism. The IS rejected the working class vanguard for a number of non-worker vanguards. Neither can claim to even recognise the roots of their problems. So they cannot learn from their mistakes.

The basic lessons are:

class agency; class independence; and the democratic centralist party. Lets briefly define each of these.

  • Class Agency: only the working class can lead an anti-capitalist revolution. This is because the working class produces surplus-value and can use its power to stop production. Thus workers must build workplace organisations and united unions across international borders to control production.
  • Class Independence: the working class must lead all other oppressed classes (e.g. peasants) and groups (poor, unemployed, gay etc) in the struggle for socialism without making any concessions to the bourgeoisie or other hostile classes. The united front is counter-posed to the popular front.
  • Democratic centralist Party: the working class becomes an agency for revolution only when it is led by a revolutionary vanguard party organised on a democratic centralist basis. Democratic centralism in Lenin’s view allows the party to unite theory and practice in the struggle and constantly test its program for revolution.
  • Each of these lessons/principles of Bolshevism can be applied to the anti-capitalist movement today in the following way:

  • Class Agency: Many in the anti-capitalist movement do not see capitalism as about classes. They see it as a coalition of social movements that cut across classes. (e.g. the famous reference to the Zapatistas being viewed as gay, feminist, union, indigenous, black etc depending upon which aspect is identified with by any given social movement.) This pluralist concept of oppression/social movements has be critiqued by class analysis and a coalition built based upon working class leadership.
  • Class Independence: Working class independence becomes the basis for building the movement. Instead of confronting MNC capital at conventions and on the streets, workers should unite internationally to fight capitalism on the job. The target of free trade can then be replaced by the target of the MNC’s plants in a number of countries. Instead of entering popular or patriotic fronts (eg Mexico) to fight ‘free trade’ (which is only a symptom of the weakness of workers to reject low wages and conditions) international united fronts to win concessions from MNC’s in every country can be formed.
  • Democratic Centralist Party: Within the united fronts in which workers organisations take the lead, there has to be a no holds barred fight among revolutionary tendencies to create a revolutionary party on the model of the Bolshevik party. Patriotic frontists, reformists, nationalists, opportunists, ultralefts etc. have to be confronted and defeated in the struggles in the same way the Bolsheviks defeated the Mensheviks and ultralefts.
  • Turn the anti-capitalist movement into a
    Revolutionary Communist International!
    From Class Struggle, No 39 June-July 2001


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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