Taaffe on Cuba

Alan Bradley abradley1 at bigpond.com
Tue Sep 4 23:31:13 MDT 2001


> From: Xxxx Xxxxxx
> Allan Bradley wrote:
> > The stagist "theory" endorsed by the DSP has nothing to do with
> > Stalinism,
>
> Except that Stalin promoted it in theory and in practice with disastrous
> results for the world revolutionary movement that the DSP and SWP seem to
> have learned nothing from. Simply stating that stagism has nothing to do
> with Stalinism doesn't make it so, Allan.

This is actually one of those fairly pointless debates that should generally
be avoided, but just for once...

First:  Marx's approach to revolution from the Manifesto:
---------------------------------------------------------
We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working
class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the
battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all
capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in
the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling
class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of
despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of
bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear
economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the
movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old
social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the
mode of production.

These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
----------------------------------------------------------

Loosely summarising:
Take state power.
"wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie"

Note the "by degree": this is a process that takes time, and proceeds in -
stages!

You can also read this as a "permanentist" argument - Jose Perez does - and
we wouldn't really have a disagreement on this basis.

But.

The problem is the question of Trotskyism.  You see, when the Fourth
International was formed, there was this idea floating around that the
Trotskyists were the only revolutionaries in the whole world.  It appears in
stuff by Trotsky and Cannon, and it might even be directly stated in the
Transitional Programme.  In this situation, Permanent Revolution takes on a
particular meaning.  It becomes a synonym for socialist revolution.  The
Trotskyists are the only revolutionaries, therefore, they are the only ones
fighting for socialist revolution, therefore Permanent Revolution means
socialist revolution, and anyone who disagrees with it is not a
revolutionary.

Sectarian logic, you would agree?  But it was actually manifested in the
Trotskyist movement to various degrees at various times.

So in this sense, Permanent Revolution is a sectarian obstacle to
recognising that there are other actual revolutionaries out there.

On Stalinist stagism:  well, unfortunately Stalinism covers a lot of ground,
but in the sense you mean it, their stagism boils down to a lack of a theory
of revolution, as Jose pointed out.  That is, it is a theory of bourgeois
revolution now, socialist revolution when hell freezes over.  This is really
a Social Democratic theory rehashed, of course.  There were, indeed, various
manifestations of it in Latin America - I'll let the Latin American comrades
provide the examples if they feel like it.  Another fine and relatively
recent example is South Africa.

Now if the DSP meant that kind of thing when they talked about stages, your
criticisms would have a point.  But they don't.

First of all, they don't regard their analysis of the Russian Revolution as
a general model applicable to all cases.  This is directly counterposed to
Permanent Revolution which is indeed a generalised schema.

Secondly, their "stages" begin AFTER the seizure of state power (ie after
"October"), not BEFORE.  That is, they refer to the measures taken once the
working class and its various allies seize state power, and begin the
laborious process of economically expropriating the bourgeoisie - the
"wrest[ing] by degrees" and "despotic inroads on the rights of property" of
the Manifesto.  "Stages" of this kind did, in one form or other, exist in
every socialist revolution of the 20th Century - including the Russian
Revolution.

If you really want a general DSP theory of revolution, take a look at the
Manifesto.

Alan Bradley
abradley1 at bigpond.com







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