[Marxism] Socialist Action on Libya and Syria -- Reply to David Walters
jgreen at communistvoice.org
Sat Oct 22 06:22:03 MDT 2016
David Walters wrote:
> All Permanent Revolution says/advocates/predicts is that
> in order to actually *achieve* those democratic *tasks* it will take the
> complete overthrow of the existing capitalist regime and the installation by
> the working class of Workers Government. That's it.
The prediction is completely wrong. For example, many countries have become
independent, and most of the colonial system has collapsed. And yet there
wasn't workers' government.
National independence hasn't brought the prosperity that people expected. It
has also left countries subject to political and economic domination. It has
not fulfilled the program of radical parties, nor the promises that were made
to the masses.
But this doesn't mean that national independence doesn't exist. It means that
national independence, like all democratic changes, doesn't end exploitation;
doesn't eliminate capitalism, but generally vastly expands it; doesn't usher
us into the petty-bourgeois idea of the democratic utopia; doesn't guarantee
that the working masses will obtain a lot of democratic rights; and so on.
Socialism, not mere democratic changes, is necessary for working-class
But national independence changes the class alignments in a country, as
various other democratic changes too. The situation in the former colonies is
vastly different than what it was before; the struggles in these countries
occur in a different social and economic context than before. And democratic
changes can also open the way for an expanded class struggle. These changes
are of the utmost importance for the working class. To say that national
independence or other democratic changes "will take the complete overthrow of
the existing capitalist regime and the installation by the working class of
Workers Government" means replacing a serious assessment of the social,
economic, and political situation with empty Trotskyist dogma.
The idea that these changes can't take place until socialism is generally
defended by replacing the idea of democratic changes as they occur in the
world, with a glorified idea of democracy. It might be said that the
democratic struggle cannot be "completed" until the socialist revolution. By
this means judging the completion of the democratic movement by whether so
many democratic changes have occurred, rather than by the changes in the
class alignments and social conditions. If a very backward and abortive
change nevertheless results in breaking up the impetus for democratic change,
then the overall movement will have to grow up on a new basis. Even though
various of the old democratic demands are still set forward, the overall
character of the movement will have changed.
Marxism showed from the start that democratic changes alone do not end
exploitation; the working masses have to continue the struggle to socialism.
But any truth can be exaggerated until it's nonsense. From the truth that
democratic changes are limited and are not the end of exploitation, one can
pass on to the claim that democratic changes can't even take place until
> There are none, ZERO,
> preconditions about who or whom to support in achieving this except that to
> go "all the way", again to achieve the reason people were rebelling in the
> first place, means to break with the capitalists *politically* who may be
> part of the initial phases of the revolution and keep the working class
And yet one Trotskyist group after another denounced various struggles in
the Arab Spring. If nothing can be achieved unless one goes "all the way" and
achieve workers' government, then this does affect what to organize and which
struggles to support.
However, I think the statement about zero preconditions does reflect one
aspect of "permanent revolution". It reflects the idea that I have seen
expressed elsewhere that everything is tactical, except that the revolution
must continue to workers' government. I think this view has had bad
consequences. But that for another time.
-- Joseph Green
More information about the Marxism