My Unanswered Response to Sven (from Marxist-Activist)

Owen Jones owen.jones at
Sat Aug 28 17:11:18 MDT 1999

With the marvels of Macintosh PowerBooks, and the expense of international
phone calls, it seems that, for a few days, I can communicate on this list.
(However, these debates should, out of respect, be moved off from this list
- though Mr. Buttler would never accept me back on his M-L list for this,
perhaps a new egroup could be set up - for example 'marxist-history' to
cater for this, or, alternatively, if Mr. Buttler wants to turn this into a
private debate, he just has to say so).

>Perhaps our comrades here can enlighten us just how many
>successful revolutions were actually lead by the Trots?
>If their theory is as brilliant as they claim I wonder why it has
>never been successful when facing the test of practice.

 Mr. Buttler, perhaps a good example would be the Bolshevik Revolution,
which was led by Trotsky and Lenin. In the words of your mentor, Stalin, in
November 1917:

 "All the work of practical organisation of the insurrection was conducted
under the direct leadership of the president of the Petrograd Soviet,
Comrade Trotsky."

 Not only this, Trotsky then led the Red Army to lead the Bolsheviks to
victory against the reactionary Whites, crushing the Old Order - without
him, and his excellent tactics, it is entirely conceivable that the working
class would be overthrown.

Indeed, then there was the Stalinist counter-revolution of 1923 (a period
when revolutions were defeated on the international front, when Russia had
passed through severe crises - a devastating peace, civil war, foreign
invasion, economic collapse, international isolation - which allowed for the
rise of the bureaucracy, which found its principle representative in Josef
Stalin). After the counter-revolution, the old Bolshevik-Leninist principles
of debate, criticism, and mass participation were replaced by loyalty to the
leader and suppression of all dissent. The biggest threat to the bureaucracy
at this point happened to be the Bolsheviks in the Party, led by Trotsky,
who were then purged, exiled and even killed. In the 1930s, people accused
of being Trotskyists were murdered. The people you call "the Trots" were
actually Bolsheviks, and all Bolsheviks in the USSR were brutally

 After that Bolsheviks participated in the Spanish Revolution. They were all
brutally suppressed by the Stalinists, so apologies for our failure to lead
that one, because you lot managed to hand Spain over to the Fascists. But
with the Stalinist grip on the state apparatus of the USSR, if it suited the
bureaucracy, "revolution" (quotes being emphasised) was imposed abroad. For
example, after the Second World War, the bureaucracy felt threatened by
being surrounded by its opponents as happened in the 30s, and so IMPOSED the
Stalinist system on Eastern  Europe. This lost the support of the working
classes there, as was demonstrated by the brutally crushed uprisings of 1953
in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, and 1968 in Czechoslovakia, and then by
the collapse of the deformed worker's states from 1989-91.

 When was Bolshevik theory put to the test? From around 1917-23. If Lenin
had been alive in 1925, as his wife Krupskaya pointed out at a Left
Opposition meeting, he would be in jail. Perhaps things would have been
different if members of the Party had carried out one of Lenin's last wishes
- that Stalin immediately be removed from the post of General Secretary of
the Communist Party.

 What revolutions have Stalinists led? There were imposed Stalinist
dictatorships in Eastern Europe after WWII; annexed Baltic States in the
same period; the Chinese nationalist revolution in 1947 led by Mao which
used the same bureaucratic police-state dictatorship template as Stalinism;
the Cuban petty-bourgeois nationalist revolution which was rejected by
American imperialism and so was flung into the arms of Moscow (though
admittedly Castro has denounced Stalin, though he and his system remain
Stalinist); there were various military coups - like Afghanistan and
Ethiopia - which used Stalinist ideology; various African revolts which soon
reverted to neo-liberalism; Stalinist dictatorship imposed on North Korea, a
place of such suffering I can feel only acute solidarity with North Korean
workers; a nationalist revolution in Vietnam that followed the Stalinist
model in order to get much needed support; a repugnant take-over in Cambodia
by one of the most disgusting regimes of the 20th Century; and an attempted
coup in Moscow in 1991 which failed miserably. I'm sure you would like to
add to this list. Feel free.

 What do you want for the future revolutions of this world, Mr. Buttler?
Children crying out "We Love Our Great Leader" at gunpoint, bureaucratic
dictatorships which refuse participation from the working class, mass terror
against Communists and workers, the absence of all democracy, everything
being carried out with the use of the gun, "Socialism" being dictated from
above through administrative commands, the strengthening of the State
apparatus, and so on?

 At the end of this present period of decay and reaction, I see a new
prospect for workers' revolution, for the overthrow of capitalism and the
bourgeoisie, and for the triumph of the Bolshevism as developed by Lenin and
Trotsky on the foundations of Marxism.

>"...Knowledge begins with practice, and theoretical knowledge
>is acquired through practice and must then return to practice.
>The active function of knowledge manifests itself not only in
>the active leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but --
>and this is more important -- it must manifest itself in the leap
>from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice. The
>knowledge which grasps the laws of the world, must be
>redirected to the practice of changing the world, must be
>applied anew in the practice of production, in the practice
>of revolutionary class struggle and revolutionary national
>struggle and in the practice of scientific experiment. This
>is the process of testing and developing theory, the
>continuation of the whole process of cognition. The problem
>of whether theory corresponds to objective reality is not, and
>cannot be, completely solved in the movement of knowledge
>from the perceptual to the rational, mentioned above. ***The
>only way to solve this problem completely is to redirect rational
>knowledge to social practice, apply theory to practice and see
>whether it can achieve the objectives one has in mind....***"
>(Mao Zedong "On practice" taken from the Marx2Mao website
> / my emph.)

 The great prophet and Holy Wiseman Chairman Mao has spoken. Sven, who will
you quote next - Mohammed? Or perhaps you will give us a selection of Bible
quotes. If you feel it necessary to quote tyrants, why not quote Genghis
Khan, or Mussolini for a bit of variety. Oh, I'd appreciate knowing the name
of this proverb, and does it have an accompanying tune to make it a proper

 My advice to you, Sven: read Trotsky's 'Revolution Betrayed', Lenin's
'State and Revolution', and also Lenin's Last Testament and then tell me
about how the Stalinist USSR abided by the teachings of Marx, Engels and

 Owen Jones

"One human death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic."
                                             Josef Stalin

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