Proyect demolishes Trotskyism?

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sat Sep 28 15:49:11 MDT 1996


Louis P does his bit on the Transitional Programme:

>Look, the problem with the Transitional Program is manifold.

Deep.


>Of all of
>Trotsky's contributions to Marxism, I would rank it next to the lowest,
>the lowest of course being the concept of a Fourth International.

Who cares?


>The TP was written in the context of a mass workers radicalization in the
>1930s and the political crisis of Social Democracy and the Communist
>Parties.

It was written in 1938 at the height of the Stalinist betrayal of the
Spanish Revolution, and after the dual treachery of the Second and Third
Internationals had handed over power in Germany to the Nazis. After a
five-year period of preparatory work, the Fourth International was finally
holding its founding congress and the TP was the basic document.


>It was attempt to resolve the crisis brought on by the minimalism
>of the Social Democracy and the maximalism of third-period Stalinism. It
>was a program geared very much to the issues of the class-struggle of the
>period.

Not period, epoch. The epoch of wars and revolutions and the transition to
socialism. The subheading of the TP expresses this well -- The Death Agony
of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International. The Death Agony of
Capitalism refers to the whole process up to the end of capitalism in
either barbarism or socialism, and is not referring to a period but an
epoch. Likewise, the Tasks of the Fourth International are conceived of
over the whole spectrum of varying challenges and varying degrees of
proletarian consciousness and organization throughout the world -- this is
not a programme for a period but an epoch. The minimalism and maximalism
were not the *causes* of a crisis. That is pure idealism. They were
symptoms of political impotence. What the TP aimed to do was substitute a
method of programmatic analysis which made it possible to raise slogans
that would both meet the local level of consciousness and preparedness of
the working class, and transcend this by selecting demands for whose real
satisfaction more was required than reformist or revisionist policies.

>What followers of Trotsky have trouble understanding is that much of what
>he wrote was within some kind of context.

The Master speaks...

>Permanent Revolution was written
>within the context of whether a revolution in Russia would be bourgeois or
>socialist.

No. It was written (Results and Prospects, 1906) on the issue of which
class would lead the revolution in Russia, regardless of the fact that any
coming revolution in Russia would have as its immediate task the solution
of bourgeois-democratic tasks such as overthrowing the Tsarist absolutist
regime and resolving the agrarian question. The book The Permanent
Revolution was written as a polemic against Radek in 1929, when Radek
jumped on to the anti-Trotskyist bandwagon that had started rolling in
1923-24 when Stalin launched his anti-Marxist, counter-revolutionary theory
of Socialism in One Country. Its context was setting the record straight on
the question of differences and similarities between Lenin's and Trotsky's
views on the main class forces and the principal tasks involved in the
Russian revolution in the framework of the world class struggle.


>When you take something like the TP or Permananent Revolution and turn it
>into a "theory", it is very easy for it  to become dogma.

The TP is a programme not a theory. It's also a handbook of revolutionary
mobilization.

The Permanent Revolution on the other hand is a theory, and always has
been. It's concerned with the theory of the relation between national form
(with say nationalist aspirations against a foreign oppressor and a massive
non-proletarian (ie peasant) population) and international substance in the
proletarian revolution. Its roots are in Marx and Engels, and as Trotsky's
book makes abundantly clear, there is no real difference between his view
of these relationships and Lenin's.

*Anything* can become a dogma. Big deal. Louis P's anti-party, anti-Trotsky
liberalism is a dogma.


>Witness the
>behavior of Trotskyist sects that used to come to meetings of the antiwar
>movement and make speeches for 40 hours pay for 30 hours work.

Damn good demand. A full week's pay for reduced hours of work would wipe
out unemployment. You say it's impractical and utopian under capitalism?
Profits would suffer? Well, what are we tolerating capitalism for, then?

>These are
>the same people who would denounce the antiwar movement as a "popular
>front" because someone like Ted Kennedy might speak at a rally.

Sounds like class collaboration to me. I remember vomiting at the sight of
Ted Kennedy embracing Winnie Mandela (or was it the other way round) in
South Africa. The question is who's in control of the meetings and the
demands being raised. The presence of bourgeois politicians in a united
front manifestation needn't be bad. Capitulating to bourgeois restrictions
on agitation and propaganda is political suicide, however, and a sure
characteristic of popular front policies. They put themselves in our boat
-- good. We put ourselves in their boat -- bad.


>The lunacy
>of this approach has nothing to do with the personalities of individuals
>like Jim Robertson and Tim Wolforth. The problem is in the method.

This is uncharacteristically generous of Louis. To judge from his writings
on m1, personal lunacy and criminality has a lot to do with approaches he
finds distasteful.

>Slogans are rooted in the class-struggle. In order to put forward
>meaningful slogans that advance the class-struggle, you have to be
>immersed in the social and political reality of a given country.

So?

>This has
>been nearly impossible for Trotskyism since it is fixated on 1917.

Louis's ignorance of Trotskyism is exceeded only by his ignorance of
Marxism and his total disregard for all principles of solidarity and
socialist debate.

>That is
>why other political forces have a much easier time of it, like Castro or
>the Sandinistas. They are not burdened by such a legacy.

It's true that neither Castrism or even less Sandinism gives a damn about
October and what it implies for the emancipation of the world working
class.

Let's see. Castrism. 1970. Ten million tons of sugar. Immersed in the
social and political reality of a given country... 1996. All power to
British and French casino operators. No food. No medicine. No money.
"Meaningful slogans that advance the class struggle".

Nicaragua. Anti-imperialist struggle -- failing to carry out an agrarian
reform. Handing over power to the bourgeoisie in elections.

The Sandinistas aren't burdened by being in a position to do anything about
Nicaragua any longer. Perhaps Louis could tell us their latest
revolutionary slogans based on their immersion in the social and political
realities of capitulation to the imperialists?

We thank Mr Proyect for his enlightened and enlightening presentation.

Now, Mr McCleod? Too tired? Well, Mr Plant, then ...

Cheers,

Hugh




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