socialism in one country

Adam Rose adam at
Wed Feb 14 08:59:47 MST 1996

> Uncle Lou (P),
> I'll bite on the socialism in one country debate. Not ever having been very
> exposed to trotskyites or to ex trotskyites (sheltered life on the shop
> floor and I've never been able to wade thru Trotsky in his own write - too
> convoluted and abstract for me) I've never really gotten into this
> discussion and frankly haven't even begun to understand what people are
> exercised about. But to ask:
> 1) Doesn't this debate really go back to Lenin's position on the Brest
> treaty where he took on Trotsky and others on making the peace and saving
> the fledgling socialism in Russia. And didn't he roundly reject trotsky's
> position of continuing to press Germany in the name of permanent revolution
> and the 'expected' uprising of the German workers?

Absolutely not.

All sides in the debate ( Zinoviev argued for continuing the war, Lenin for
peace, Trotsky neither war nor peace - and I have no idea what Stalin
argued, since he was still at this point a "grey blur" ) took as their
starting point that there could not be socialism in one country, that the
only hope for Russia was a revolution in "one or two other European countries"
ie Germany.

The debate was a tactical one about how best to bring this about. And besides,
Trotsky was the Soviet delegate to the peace talks. Lenin was quite happy with
this, for the obvious reason that the position "neither war nor peace" with
the Russian army disintegrating came down to the concrete position of "peace".

> 2) What should Russia's position have been? Or more to the point what is the
> opposite of 'socialism in one country' when that's all you have so far?
> Should those in the one country simply hand it back over to the capitalists
> and in effect say, 'sorry, the world proletariat isn't ready yet so we'll
> give it up until a better time?'

No, not at all. The concrete choice wasn't between workers power and bourgeois
democracy but bwetween workers power and fascism. To abdicate at any point
would have led to the drowning of the revolution in blood. As Trosky said,
"fascism would have been a Russian word".

> I'm not trying to be funny, I really don't
> see the point. It seems to me that it is highly unlikely that revolution
> will simultaneously happen in every, or even most, countries at one time.

A remarkable statement !

I think the opposite is the case. Revolutions are  unlikely to occur in
isolation. A revolution in one country arises from a crisis which usually
takes very similar forms in nearby countries. A successful one in particular
stamps its political authority on developing movements elsewhere ( eg 1948
( all of Europe ) , 1917-23 ( all of central + eastern Europe ) , 1936
( France, Spain ) , 1945 ( Italy, Greece ) , 1968 ( most places ) ,
1979 ( Iran and the middle east; Nicaragua + El Salvador ).

In the particular case of Russia, workers councils were the only effective
power from the Balkans to the Baltic. Workers revolution was hardly abstract !

The reason the German revolution failed in 1923 was firstly that the KPD
was formed to late to win the confidence of the best militants before
the revolution. So when Rosa Luxembourg realised that the militants
were planning a premature uprising, she was unable to prevent it. She
paid for this lack of influence with her life. In contrast, the Bolsheviks
were able to stop a similar uprising in June 1917, survive the July
repression intact, and lead the October revolution.

This meant that come 1923 in Germany, the KPD did not have the experienced
and trusted leadership that the Bolsheviks had in 1917, and we had Stalinism
in Russia and Fascism, ultimately, in Germany.


Adam Rose


     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list