[Marxism] Nicaraguan Contradictions
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 5 09:31:43 MDT 2018
On 9/5/18 11:23 AM, John Reimann via Marxism wrote:
> How has the colonial revolution degenerated so much? Isn't what we're
> seeing visible proof of the theory of permanent revolution? After all, the
> leadership of none of these revolutions linked the colonial revolution with
> the overthrow of capitalism itself.
Permanent revolution? Nicaragua?
Trotsky's theory is a product of his study of the Russian
class-struggle. He did not develop it as a general methodology for
accomplishing bourgeois-democratic tasks in a semi-colonial or dependent
country. He was instead seeking to address the needs of the
class-struggle in Russia. In this respect, he was identical to Lenin.
They were both revolutionaries who sought to establish socialism in
Russia as rapidly as possible. Their difference centered on how closely
connected socialist and bourgeois- democratic tasks would be at the
outset. Lenin tended to approach things more from Plekhanov's "stagist"
perspective, while Trotsky had a concept more similar to the one
outlined by Marx and Engels in their comments on the German revolution.
Trotsky sharpened his insights as a participant and leader of the
uprising of 1905, which in many ways was a dress-rehearsal for the 1917
revolution. He wrote "Results and Prospects" to draw the lessons of
1905. Virtually alone among leading Russian socialists, he rejected the
idea that workers holding state power would protect private property:
"The political domination of the proletariat is incompatible with its
economic enslavement. No matter under what political flag the
proletariat has come to power, it is obliged to take the path of
socialist policy. It would be the greatest utopianism to think that the
proletariat, having been raised to political domination by the internal
mechanism of a bourgeois revolution, can, even if it so desires, limit
its mission to the creation of republican-democratic conditions for the
social domination of the bourgeoisie."
Does not this accurately describe the events following the Bolshevik
revolution in October, 1917? The workers took the socialist path almost
immediately. If this alone defined the shape of revolutions to come,
then Trotsky would appear as a prophet of the first magnitude.
Before leaping to this conclusion, we should consider Trotsky's entire
argument. Not only would the workers adopt socialist policies once in
power, their ability to maintain these policies depended on the
class-struggle outside of Russia, not within it. He is emphatic:
"But how far can the socialist policy of the working class be applied in
the economic conditions of Russia? We can say one thing with
certainty--that it will come up against obstacles much sooner than it
will stumble over the technical backwardness of the country. Without the
direct State support of the European proletariat the working class of
Russia cannot remain in power and convert its temporary domination into
a lasting socialistic dictatorship."
While there is disagreement between Lenin and Trotsky on the exact
character of the Russian revolution, there is none over the grim
prospects for socialism in an isolated Russia. We must keep this
uppermost in our mind when we consider the case of Nicaragua.
Well-meaning Trotskyist comrades who castigate the Sandinistas for not
carrying out permanent revolution should remind themselves of the full
dimensions of Trotsky's theory. According to this theory, Russia was a
beachhead for future socialist advances. If these advances did not
occur, Russia would perish. Was Nicaragua a beachhead also? If socialism
could not survive in a vast nation as Russia endowed with immense
resources, what were Nicaragua's prospects, a nation smaller than
Brooklyn, New York?
Our Trotskyist comrades are very picky and choosy. If a revolution is
not up to their exacting standards, they will give it thumbs down. While
they are unanimously in support of the Russian revolution, there is
divided opinion over the Cuban revolution. Cuba tends to get some thumbs
up and some thumbs down.
Let us consider Russia first within the paradigm of permanent
revolution. In a very real sense, the collapse of the Soviet Union and
its allied Eastern European states is a very real negative confirmation
of the theory of permanent revolution. Let us leave aside the question
of whether or not an alternative course was possible. Trotsky's best, if
often misguided, efforts, failed to lead to revolutionary victories in
China, Spain, France, Germany or elsewhere. The isolation of the Soviet
Union led to horrible economic and social distortions that eventually
led to the regime's collapse.
More information about the Marxism