Did Stalinism end in the 1950s?

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Fri Dec 6 18:03:35 MST 2002

Bob Gould writes:

>>Louis Proyect's idea that the CPs stopped being Stalinist in the early
1950s is a fantasy.<<

I think comrade Bob Gould misses the point *entirely.*  The question as I
see it isn't whether the pro-Moscow Communist Parties ceased being
"Stalinist". It is that the Stalin/Trotsky framework became obsolete, life
and political events moved *beyond* it. An approach based on fighting the
1930's category of "Stalinism" could only lead to increasing errors and

This is what the Cuban revolution showed, not that the ideological conflict
symbolized by Trotsky and Stalin had been resolved in theory, but could be
and had been bypassed --in that 1930's form-- in practice.

Bob Gould, in archetypically Trotskyist fashion "elevates" the Cuban
experience from a practical one into a "model" (counterposed, of course, to
the Russian model):

"It's equally problematic to paint a picture of a world in which Fidel
pushed aside the old differences between Trotskyism and Stalinism, made a
revolution and thereby produced a political model for socialist revolution,
and by implication socialist construction, that socialists can follow, if
only they put aside sectarian dogmas like Trotskyism and Stalinism and model
their activities on those of Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas."

Gould then goes on to an exhaustive *recounting* of numerous incidents of
purely *ideological* clashes between Trots and Stalinists, showing that a
lot of these people (CPers) still adhered to these bad ideas (Stalinism).

But that isn't the point. In the *real* world the most advanced fighters on
a global scale had moved beyond the weapon of criticism against the
Stalinist variant of reformism to --quite literally-- the criticism of
weapons. Revolutionary currents began to emerge OUTSIDE the framework of the
Trotsky/Stalin dichotomy. Life, politics, the class struggle moved BEYOND
the forms in which all sorts of questions presented themselves in the 1920s
and 1930s.

And the proof of the pudding, I believe, is that the Trotskyist movement(s)
became disoriented in terms of how to wage the battle against Stalinism
itself, which was their reason for being.

Thus for the American SWP it became important to point out the imagined
fallacies and deficiencies of the Vietnamese comrades around the Paris peace
accords, but a decade later, we were unable to see and accurately report in
our press how the failure of the socialist block to provide adequate
economic and military aid to Nicaragua was a betrayal of historic
proportions. Through an ideological construct about "three sectors of world
revolution" we managed to split off the fight for a revolutionary
revitalization of the bureaucratic socialist countries, from the fight
against world imperialism. The *axis* of activity of revolutionary
internationalists within the soviet bloc in the 1980's should have been the
same as of those elsewhere: defense of the Nicaraguan revolution. The
Trotskyists to an increasing extent abandoned *in practice* Trotsky's
approach of viewing the "workers' states" as essentially analagous to labor
unions, and the Soviet bureaucracy and its class collaborationist politics
as the transmission belt for capitalist pressure and influence. They came to
a position that treated the bureaucracy, in practice, as an independent
enemy. The counterrevolution of 1989-1991, I believe, showed just how
mistaken this approach had been.


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