Lenin 'On Co-operation' : notes of a liquidator.

Jj Plant jplant at cix.compulink.co.uk
Mon Sep 30 01:44:00 MDT 1996

In-Reply-To: <199609291347.OAA17834 at easynet.co.uk>

Adolfo wrote :

>Alright Plant, that is an honest position.

A worrying development. Last time anybody called me honest it was
followed up within 24 hours by Malecki's first HGFY.

>You along with Trotsky disagree with Lenin, Stalin, Mao and
ourselves on the question of whether or not it is POSSIBLE to build a

I'm pretty sure I disagree with you and Stalin about that. I do not
accept that Lenin's position was as you describe it. I will try to
examine the text, as I previously wrote, and reply to you. It may be
a little time, (I already wrote that I don't have the book to hand)
but feel free to remind me if you find it is taking too long. It is
hard to believe that you place so much of your strategic conception
of the revolution on a short section of single text of Lenin and
disregard many passages that indicate a contrary view. (For example,
during Lenin's lifetime, did any major programmatic statement of the
Russian CP or the Comintern describe building complete socialism in a
single country as their objective ?) But even supposing, for the sake
only of this posting and no further, that you were correctly
describing Lenin's view, that would not at all lead to conclusions
about the suppression of workers' democracy in that 'one completely
socialist country', or to the suppression of workers' movements in
other East European countries, or the failure to support
revolutionary movements when and where they have occurred (as in
Greece during the post war 'settlement'). As to what Mao may have
said on complete socialism in one country - I really don't know about
that. I had always understood Mao's line to have been concerned with
'socialism in several countries', but if you wish to suggest
references to check, I have the Lawrence & Wishart 4 volume 'works'

In your para where you refer to your hope of repeating the building
of complete socialism in one country, I assume your are referring to
Peru. It seems to me that you are right to say that the different
historical experience of the revolutionary masses is a major factor.
And also the higher level of productivity available to a beleaguered
revolutionary state. Revolutions in the 1990s start from a very
different base from those in the first quarter of the century. In my
estimation however, the probability of building complete socialism in
one country is today much less than it was in the late 1920s.

This would not exclude the possibility of a revolution succeeding
first in one country. (In fact the prospect of simultaneous world
revolution is so remote as to be excluded.) And revolutionary
optimism is a factor of great significance - I agree.

Your next para is most interesting. Firstly, let me extend a word of
thanks for your politeness in describing trotskyism as a 'school of
revolutionary thought'. This is quite different from the
'trotsky-fascist' description, the charges of sabotage and revanchism
that more traditionally flow from the stalinist/maoist camp. (Just in
case it needs repeating on this list again, I cannot be considered a
trotskyist, as I am not a member of any organisation, and the
trotskyists put a very high value on their conception of leninism,
such that membership of an organisation is pretty much de rigeur. I
gained a great deal of my political thinking from my time in a
trotskyist organisation, but that ended more than 10 years ago.) I
predict with confidence that my acknowledgement of your politeness
will gain me (and probably you) further abuse from Scandinavia.

You go on to make some criticisms of the trotskyists for their
failure to assist in revolutionary movements. I think the historical
record speaks against you. Trotskyists fought in the Spanish
revolution (and you know very well the warm welcome they got there
>from the stalinists). Trotskyist prisoners in the SU demanded
(without success)  the right to join (or rejoin) the Red Army to
fight against the Nazis. Trotskyist organised work brigades
contributed in Yugoslavia, Cuba and Nicaragua. I think your summary
of the trotskyist line on support for and defence of the revolutions
of the 20th century is not supported by the facts. And I don't
believe that the 4th International, or any of its fragments ever
issued the policy you ascribe to it - 'IT CAN NOT BE DONE, IT IS A
WASTE OF TIME, etc etc'. The trotskyists have, I think, always argued
that 'complete socialism' (I assume you mean by that the 'higher
phase' described by Marx and Engels) can only be built as a
consequence of the world defeat of capitalism, but that is very
different from opposing revolutions in individual countries.

>Trotskysm appears to those engaged in the ACTUAL, REAL REVOLUTIONS,
and the PROLETARIAT class struggle in general, as OBNOXIOUS BACKSEAT
DRIVING of the most negative sort.

Although it is true that some trotskyists are their own worst enemies
when they have the opportunity to speak to the masses, I can recall
contributions by maoists of incomparable gaucheness to struggles in
East London. Speakers from RCPB(ML) often spoke at rallies and
meetings, and were usually politely listened to, but occasionally
openly laughed at. Cornelius Cardew, the composer, was in fact the
only one I could ever take at all seriously. But more is at stake
than questions of presentation. Revolutionaries need to be open about
their programme (if they have one) whenever they can.

On 'back seat driving', much stronger words have been used about
PCP-imposed 'armed strikes' brought at gunpoint into factories in

On Trotsky and Lenin : there is nothing wrong with saying clearly
which ideas were Lenin's and which Trotsky's. It is not always a
straightforward task to disentangle them. 'Permanent revolution' is
certainly not an idea that Lenin originated. Parvus probably
originated it, but Trotsky developed it into a coherent strategic
approach. 'Socialism in one country' seems to have come in the first
place from Vollmar, and certainly did not originate with Lenin. But
whatever division is made among all the key ideas of the Russian
Revolution, the idea that Stalin had to be removed from the General
Secretaryship was Lenin's.

jplant at cix.compulink.co.uk

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