[Marxism] Trotskyism

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Mon Jan 9 09:40:05 MST 2006

Is the below a fair and accurate encyclopedic report of what Trotskyism is ?

Specifically regarding the current debate on Bolivia, it is noted that
Bolivia is one of the countries with a  mass Trotskyist political current at
the founding of the Fourth International.

(At the time of the founding the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism was
a mass political current in Vietnam <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam> ,
Sri Lanka <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka>  and slightly later
Bolivia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivia> .)



>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 (At the time of the founding the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism
was a mass political current in Vietnam
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam> , Sri Lanka
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka>  and slightly later Bolivia
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivia> .)

Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism  as advocated by Leon Trotsky
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Trotsky> . Trotsky considered himself a
Bolshevik-Leninist , arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party . He
considered himself an advocate of orthodox Marxism. His politics differed
greatly from those of Stalin <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalinism>  or
Mao <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maoism> , most importantly in declaring
the need for an international "permanent revolution
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_revolution> ". Numerous groups
around the world continue to describe themselves as Trotskyist and see
themselves as standing in this tradition, although they have diverse
interpretations of the conclusions to be drawn from this.

Trotskyism is sometimes also used critically by those from a Stalinist or
social democratic <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democratic>
background to denote any of various political currents claiming a tradition
of Marxist opposition to both Stalinism and capitalism .

"Trotskyism is not a new movement, a new doctrine, but the restoration, the
revival of genuine Marxism as it was expounded and practiced in the Russian
revolution and in the early days of the Communist International." - James P.
Cannon <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_P._Cannon>  in History of
American Trotskyism.


*	1 Trotsky, the Russian Revolution and Stalin
*	2 Founding of the Fourth International
*	3 Trotskyism Today
*	4 See also <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trotskyism#See_also>  
*	5 External links


Trotsky, the Russian Revolution and Stalin

Trotsky advocated proletarian revolution   as set out in his theory of
"permanent revolution <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_revolution> ",
and he argued that in countries where the bourgeois -democratic  revolution
had not triumphed already (in other words, in places that had not yet
implemented a capitalist democracy, such as Russia before 1917), it was
necessary that the proletariat make it permanent by carrying out the tasks
of the social revolution (the "socialist" or "communist" revolution) at the
same time, in an uninterrupted process. Trotsky believed that a new
socialist state would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a
hostile capitalist world unless socialist revolutions quickly took hold in
other countries as well. This theory was accepted by Lenin and the Bolshevik
party and guided their conception of the Russian Revolution as part of the
world revolution. The Stalinist faction within the Bolshevik Party adopted
the theory "socialism in one country
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_in_one_country> " in 1924 in order
to justify making deals with imperialist countries and in order to advance
their own position and conception of Marxism by attacking the theories of
the current group of leaders (e.g., Trotsky).

On the political spectrum   of Marxism, Trotskyists are considered to be on
the left <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Opposition> . They supported
democratic rights in the USSR, opposed political deals with the imperialist
powers, and advocated a spreading of the revolution throughout Europe and
the East. The Left Opposition , led by Trotsky, grew in influence throughout
the 20s, until Stalin used force against them in 1928, sending Trotsky into
internal exile and jailing his supporters. The Left Opposition , however,
continued to work in secret within the Soviet Union. Trotsky was eventually
exiled to Turkey, then Norway, and finally to Mexico.

After 1928, Stalin used his power in the USSR to gain bureaucratic control
over the various Communist Parties throughout the world, and expelled
Trotskyists from their ranks. At this point, inner party democracy, which
was at the foundation of Bolshevism, was destroyed within the various
Communist Parties. Anyone who disagreed with the party line was labeled a
Trotskyist and a fascist. The Communist Parties then began to support
capitalist governments, such as the CPUSA. Stalin did this to show that he
was not a threat to capitalist rule and so hoped to avoid an invasion of the
imperialist powers, as happened after the 1917 revolution.

Trotsky later developed the theory that the Russian workers' state had
become a "bureaucratically degenerated workers' state
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerated_workers%27_state> ". Capitalist
rule had not been restored, and nationalized industry and economic planning,
instituted under Lenin, were still in effect. However the state was
controlled by a bureaucratic caste with interests hostile to those of the
working class. Trotsky defended the Soviet Union against attack from
imperialist powers and against internal counter-revolution
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-revolution> , but called for a
political revolution <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_revolution>
within the USSR to restore socialist democracy. He argued that if the
working class did not take power away from the Stalinist bureaucracy, the
bureaucracy would restore capitalism in order to enrich itself. Much later,
in the view of the ICFI <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICFI> , this is
exactly what happened in the form of Glasnost
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasnost>  and Perestroika
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perestroika> . Many of Trotsky's criticisms of
Stalinism <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalinism>  were described in his
book, The Revolution Betrayed
<http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1936-rev/index.htm> .

In 1937, Stalin unleashed a political terror against all the remaining 'Old
Bolsheviks' who had played key roles in the October Revolution
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Revolution>  in 1917. He also killed
many of the Soviet Union's leading generals including Mikhail Tukhachevsky
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Tukhachevsky>  in a purge because they
had served under Trotsky when he was the commander of the Red Army
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Army>  during the Russian Civil War
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Civil_War> .

"Trotskyist" has been used by Stalinists to mean a traitor  ; in the Spanish
Civil War <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Civil_War> , being called a
"Trot", "Trotskyist" or "Trotskyite" by the USSR-supported elements implied
that the person was some sort of fascist spy or agent provocateur
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_provocateur> . George Orwell
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell> , a prominent socialist
novelist, wrote about this practice in his book Homage to Catalonia
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homage_to_Catalonia>  and in his essay
Spilling the Spanish Beans
=edit> . He showed that instead of helping to fight against the fascist
forces, the Stalinists did them a great favor by rooting out all the
Trotskyists in Spain and then pulling out their forces, allowing Franco to
win. In his book Animal Farm <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm> , an
allegory for the Russian Revolution, he represented Trotsky with the
character "Snowball
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_%28Animal_Farm%29> " and Stalin with
the character "Napoleon
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_%28Animal_Farm%29> ."

Stalin pulled out of Spain in order to make a rapprochement with the United
Kingdom and France. He later signed a deal with Hitler. This proved to many
people that Stalin was selling out the revolution in order to defend an
elite stratum within the Soviet Union, as Trotsky had been saying.

Still not satisfied, he tried Trotsky in absentia, and killed almost all his
relatives. An agent, Ramon Mercader
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Mercader> , of the Russian government
finally assassinated Trotsky in Mexico in 1940
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1940> .

Founding of the Fourth International

Main articles: Fourth International
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_International> , and [[{{{2}}}]], and
[[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]]

Before his assassination, however, in 1938
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1938> , Trotsky and the organisations that
supported his outlook established the Fourth International
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_International> . He said that only the
Fourth International, basing itself on Lenin's theory of the vanguard party,
could lead the world revolution, and that it would need to be built in
opposition to both the capitalists and the Stalinists. At the time of the
founding the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism was a mass political
current in Vietnam <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam> , Sri Lanka
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka>  and slightly later Bolivia
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivia> . There was also a substantial
Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the
Chinese Communist movement, Chen Duxiu
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Duxiu> , amongst its number. Wherever
Stalinists gained power, they made it a priority to hunt down Trotskyists
and treated them as the worst of enemies. Thus these movements had to deal
with official repression as well as the violent attacks and treachery of the

The Fourth International suffered repression and disruption through the
Second World War. Isolated from each other, and faced with political
developments quite unlike those anticipated by Trotsky, some Trotskyist
organizations decided that the USSR no longer could be called a degenerated
workers state <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerated_workers_state>  and
withdrew from the Fourth International. After 1945 Trotskyism was smashed as
a mass movement in Vietnam and marginalised in a number of other countries.

The International Secretariat of the Fourth International
ational>  organised an international conference in 1946, and then World
Congresses in 1948 and 1951 to assess the expropriation of the capitalists
in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, the threat of a Third World War, and the
tasks for revolutionaries. The Eastern European Communist-led governments
which came into being after World War II
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II>  without a social revolution
were described by a resolution
948-congress02.htm>  of the 1948 congress as presiding over capitalist
economies. By 1951, the Congress had concluded that they had become
"deformed workers' states
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deformed_workers%27_state> ". As the Cold War
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War>  intensified, the FI's 1951 World
Congress adopted theses by Michel Pablo
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Pablo>  which anticipated an
international civil war. Pablo's followers considered that the Communist
Parties, in so far as they were placed under pressure by the real workers'
movement, could escape Stalin's manipulations and follow a revolutionary
orientation: Yugoslavia was their test case. The 1951 Congress argued that
Trotskyists should start to conduct systematic work inside those Communist
Parties which were followed by the majority of the working class. However,
the ISFI <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISFI> 's view that the Soviet
leadership was counter-revolutionary remained unchanged. The 1951 Congress
argued that the Soviet Union took over these countries because of the
military and political results of World War II, and instituted nationalized
property relations only after its attempts at placating capitalism failed to
protect those countries from the threat of incursion by the West.

The Fourth International split in 1953 into two public factions. The
International Committee of the Fourth International
ional>  was established by several sections of the International as an
alternative centre to the International Secretariat, in which they felt a
revisionist faction led by Michel Pablo had taken power. From 1960, a number
of ICFI sections started to reunify with the IS. After the 1963
'reunification congress' which established the United Secretariat of the
Fourth International
> , only the French and British sections of the ICFI decided against

Expressed in derogatory language, they are described by their ideological
opponents as "left deviationists
<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Left_deviationists&action=edit> "
("levye uklonisty", in Russian). Some Marxists who oppose Trotskyism regard
it as being in the service of the right
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_wing>  because, in their view, it is not
an effective route to socialism.

However, the Sri Lankan Trotskyist party
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanka_Sama_Samaja_Party>  and the Bolivian
Trotskyist party
became the mass workers parties in those countries, prior to experiencing
defeats and setbacks at a later stage. In both countries, however, there
remains a large scale presence of competing Trotskyist groups. In recent
years Trotskyism has also developed large scale support in a number of
lesser developed countries in Latin America where it can count on some tens
of thousands of supporters in both Argentina and Brazil. Elsewhere in the
Third World support for Trotskyist ideas is more diffuse and generally
confined to intellectuals but can be found in a diluted form among some
sections of various progressive movements as in South Africa.

No governing Communist party <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_state>
or successful Communist revolution has to this date professed Trotskyism,
although Trotskyism's influence in some recent major social upheavals is
very evident.


Trotskyism Today

There are a wide range of Trotskyist organisations around the world, with
particular concentrations in Europe <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe>
and North America <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_America> . Most are
linked to one or another of the various international Trotskyist tendencies.

Probably the largest such tendency is the United Secretariat of the Fourth
> . It derives from the 1963 "reunification" of the majorities of the two
public factions into which the FI split in 1953
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953> : the ISFI
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISFI>  and the ICFI
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICFI> . Its best known section is the Ligue
Communiste Revolutionnaire
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligue_Communiste_Revolutionnaire>  of France.

In France, the LCR is rivalled by Lutte Ouvrière
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutte_Ouvri%C3%A8re>  and the Courant
Communiste Internationaliste
ste&action=edit>  of Pierre Lambert. Each of the these groups maintains
their own international tendency, as does the Socialist Workers Party
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Workers_Party_%28UK%29> , the
largest Trotskyist group in Britain
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom> , which leads the
International Socialist tendency from which the International Socialist
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Socialist_Organization>  in the
United States <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States> , the largest
such group in that country, was expelled in 2001. Britain's SWP's support of
George Galloway <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway> , a former
Labour Party <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Party_%28UK%29>  MP, and
the Respect Unity Coalition
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respect_Unity_Coalition> , which included
Islamicist groups, has proved controversial within Trotskyism due to
Galloway's admiration of Joseph Stalin during the Cold War and current
support for the Iraqi insurgency. Similarly, the support of both the ISO and
Solidarity <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_%28US%29>  (a U.S. group
containing Trotskyists and other revolutionary socialists) for Ralph Nader
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader> , who openly opposes socialism,
has been a source of controversy.

Also of importance is the Committee for a Workers' International
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_for_a_Workers%27_International>  led
by the Socialist Party (of England and Wales
(formerly Militant <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militant_Tendency> ) and
the Committee to Refound the Fourth International
nternational&action=edit>  led by Partido Obrero
<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Partido_Obrero&action=edit>  in
Argentina <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentina> . Another large,
primarily Latin American based, tendency is the International Workers League
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers_League>  led by the
Unified Socialist Workers Party
ction=edit>  of Brazil <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil> .

The International Committee of the Fourth International
ional>  of the Socialist Equality Parties
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Equality_Party>  publish the World
Socialist Website <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Socialist_Website> ,
the most widely read Trotskyist publication on the internet.

There are also a wide variety of smaller groupings (although few disclose
their membership, it is certain that those listed above are the largest
internationals). Among the better known are the International Communist
League (Fourth Internationalist)
nationalist%29> , formerly known as International Spartacist Tendency
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Spartacist_Tendency> , the
League for the Fifth International
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_for_the_Fifth_International>  led by
the British Workers Power <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_Power>
group, who call for a Fifth International
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_International>  and the Workers Liberty
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_Liberty>  groups, who are the largest
third camp <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_camp>  Trotskyist tendency.

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