Conference on American Trotskyism: some reflections

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Wed Oct 4 00:17:56 MDT 2000

David Altman:

  But tell me: In 1938 what revolutionary alternative WAS there to the
Stalinists and Social Democrats?  There were no Sandinistas, Fidelistas or
even Titoists then.  The Trotskyists were IT!
I think that "Trotskyism" will cease to exist, not because it has become
discredited, but precisely because of its success!  As Social Democracy and
the various strands of Stalinism have collapsed, Trotskyist ideas (that it,
authentic Leninism, updated and advanced) have become part of the mainstream
of Marxist thought.  Think about it:  How can you understand the colonial
revolution, fascism or the rise and fall of Stalinism in the twentieth
century without taking Trotsky's contributions into account?  Who cares if
he misjudged this or that point or got something wrong!  That's a problem
only if you think of him as some kind of prophet and as not the
second-greatest revolutionary of the twentieth century!  He was Trotsky, not

Without jumping into the fray as to whether or not Trotskyism is/was
"authentic Leninism", I will endorse much of what you say, while reserving
one point: I believe too many people continue on this lineage of equating
Trotskyism and Trotsky. Likewise, people do the same of Mao and "Maoism". I
have little use (if any) for either of these "isms", but tremendous respect
for both, as state leaders and as theorists. The same goes for Castro.
Castroism, thank goodness this isn't  "sectable" (yet). The point of
debunking these "isms" is to leave us with the only rational approach: the
one where we can study all of these immensely important Marxists and leaders
and try to come up with a synthesis of what will work in our attempts to
overthrow this bloody system, not in the name of this or that outdated mode
of thought, but in the name of the Working Class, the name of humanity.
Everything that follows a tradition ahead of following our own twists and
turns is sectarianism. Holding the supremacy of a thought above that of
revolution is not worthy of the traditions of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao,
Castro and the best minds from these lists. It really isn't wrong to put
ourselves on that plane, either. We only need to lead a revolution. That is
*the* point, correct?


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