[Marxism] Re: From Marxmail home (Clancy Sigal and Frida)

Carlos A. Rivera cerejota at optonline.net
Wed May 4 06:43:57 MDT 2005

First, let me say this is much better quality exploration of the questions 
than RRs stutter...

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Johannes Schneider" <Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net>

> Stress is here on "forced". It is certainly true that the LO advocated an
> intensified class struggle on the country side, but never the methods 
> Stalin
> applied after 1928.

Actually Trotsky's critique was not about method until the late 30s, when 
the methods of the collectivization were applied to the LO/FI. Then, Trotsky 
switched arguments, adding to his decade long critique on "speed" and on the 
need to "slow down" (things I believe were correct, yet literary) the moral 
argument on the deaths of peasants.

(Trotsky's presentation to the Dewey commision in 1937-?- is the pinnacle of 

Notice how for someone painted in God-like features, the moral argument came 
more than a decade after the scientific argument, and then only when the 
morally apprehensible aspects of the science came upon his people in the SU. 
A more literary Stalin indeed.

Which, I must say, takes nothing away from the guy. Just makes him more 
human, something people who object the provocative characterization of 
Trotsky as a "literate Stalin" could use in looking at the guy.

(Since this is supposed to be about that, and I haven't commented on the 
movie, lets say that the I see Trotsky's portrayal as uni-dimensional; this 
might be why the defense mechanisms have been so kneejerk)

(I didn't like the comparison with Che Guevara made by Bob Gould, because 
Che was not even half as read and smart as Trotsky, yet had twice as much 
audacity - the math I use is impressionistic, but you get the point)

> Likewise here you have to distort Trotksy's position to come to such a
> conclusion. I do not think Trotsky wrote much about Ethiopia beside in the
> context of the Italian attack.

And the Popular Front was a response in the abstract? Or was it a strategy 
to counter fascist attack and defend the Soviet Union?

I mean, lets not get teleological here, PF might have degenerated, but they 
didn't happen in the abstract, nor were they bureaucratic exercises. As a 
matter of fact they were theorized and carried out by people who a few years 
ago had purged others for advocating exactlly the same thing in the 

Trotsky in Ethiopia shows a dialectical flexibility comparable to Stalin's, 
that both stalinists and trotskyites should learn from.

I think Trotsky was mistaken in seeing the PF as a strategy directed towards 
social peace, and he saw it in this light because at the time the strategy 
of the Comintern and the strategy of the LO/FI were different. One was 
preoccupied with salvaging the SU from fascist attack, the other with 
expanding its influence. It was plain sectarianism, as defined by Marx, on 
both parts.

> In the case of an attack by a imperialist power on a dependant country
> Trotsky was in favour of _military_ support for the attacked country, no
> matter how backward the social structure or reactionary it government was.

Finland? Oh, wait, he didn't define the SU as imperialist... my bad.

> This does not mean to give _political_ support to a feudal or bourgeois
> regime e.g. by joining a government.

Come on! Not explicitly advocated, but how can you give military support 
without joining the government???

The same quandry was faced by the those who opposed the popular front in 
Spain, and they all, except for a grouplet here and there, and including the 
CNT-FAI, joined the Government. This has a material basis: armies are tools 
of state, and the only way to join them (ie give material military support 
to a cause) is to join the government. SOmething trotskyites who see trotsky 
in the abstract forget is that he was not (and this is another similarity to 
Stalin) one to beat around the bush with talk.

When he said military support, he didn't mean abstract, verbal support, he 
meant "go and join the army".

In the SU, 1000s of LO/FI people joined the Red Army and the government, 
some straight out of the gulag, because of this and resulted in post-WWII 

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