The importance of Trotsky

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Mon Sep 2 15:37:50 MDT 1996


>On Mon, 2 Sep 1996, Gary MacLennan wrote:
>
>> I don't know if that all qualifies me for the title of Trot or ex-Trot in
>> your eyes.  But I do continue to read Trotsky and I do regard him as an
>> abolutely first class analyst.  I was very struck  for instance when I was
>> taking part in the Fascist seminar and I was reading Trotsky in Spain and
>> how  he so clearly understood the role of the officer class and the context
>> in which they would stage a coup.  Pity Allende had not read the same
>> passage..


Louis P replied:

>This is key. At the risk of being yelled at by the pro-Stalin
>comrades, I believe that Trotsky kept the Marxist tradition alive in the
>1920s and 1930s. He was basically right on all of his major theoretical
>undertakings. His one big mistake of course was attempting to start a
>Fourth International. I strongly urge everybody to read as much Trotsky as
>they can, just avoid the literature of Trotskyist groups.

This is the super-individualist view of Great Men of History.

Plekhanovism when at its best. Counter-revolutionary at worst in that it
makes it impossible to organize and is always ready to blame the rank and
file working class and/or party militants for the failures of leadership.

Louis sees socialism as a parlour game in which the important thing is to
be in the in-crowd with the good guys. This is decided on an abstract
right-or-wrong basis, judged academically in retrospect and not on the
basis of the concrete intervention of class movements in history under the
leaderships of the time formulating policy for this intervention in
competition with other leaderships, principles and proposals for action. By
removing the mediating role of the leadership (mediating between the masses
and the clash of class wills), Louis removes the driving force of history
as it is made in real struggle between opposing lines of policy.

He also disembowels Trotsky when he does this, in spite of his hypocritical
words of praise.

The very first words of the Transitional Programme, perhaps the most
important programmatic document for which Trotsky bore major
responsibility, were:

        The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by
        a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat.

In the same way as Marx and Engels, and deliberately building on
Lenin'sinsistence on the supremacy of party method for achieving the
historical goals of the proletariat, Trotsky gave his historical and
political vision concrete party form. Most importantly in the Fourth
International.

To praise Trotsky and slam Trotskyists as Louis P does is to bob like a
cork on the tides of history.

It would be different if Louis ever took the time or trouble to demonstrate
the distance of latter-day Trotskyists from the analysis and principles of
Trotsky. This is legitimate, and as we know from the relationship between
Marxists and Marx, absolutely necessary. But of course he doesn't, he won't
and he can't.

The Stalinist usurpation of the leadership of the international working
class has paralysed Louis P's critical faculties. He sees revolutionary
movements when they are so insistent not even the bourgeois press can
ignore them. He fails to see the forces of class struggle that drive them,
and he fails to see the significance of the struggle for leadership. In
common with the Stalinist tradition, he sees leadership as a fatalistic
given factor. Not a factor that is built in the struggle to build a mass
revolutionary party.

Not surprisingly, the result is often a tailing of the only social groups
beside mass revolutionary parties which have any chance of attaining power,
that is to say military revolutionary movements. In Louis's case most
notably Castro's Cuban army and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua. Needless
to say, this uncritical attitude towards non-party, non-Marxist and
non-internationalist military leadership of the proletarian movement is
lightyears from Trotsky's principles and perspectives. And Lenin's. And
Marx's.

Cheers,

Hugh




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