Trotskyism or Leninism?

IF capitalism makes its own gravediggers; if the workers are gunpowder, knowledge and education the spark that will destroy this rotten system; then social democracy, the Labour Party and their Trotskyite friends are the last line in the imperialist’s defence against the rising tide of dissatisfied and militant workers.

The latest CPGB-ML leaflet on Trotskyism is a valuable resource to explain why:

Yesterday, the Guardian asked whether Marxism was ‘on the rise’ in Britain – and then went on to give a nice fat advert to the fake left’s annual diversionary jamboree, not-so-affectionately known round our way as ‘Trotfest’ (sorry, “Marxism 2012′).

A cursory look around the world at any point in the last 100 years would tell you that Marxism never went away. Marxists have led or been involved in every serious anti-capitalist struggle since Marxism came into existence, and, despite temporary reverses, Marxists still lead vast swathes of the world’s poorest people in the life-and-death battle to rid the world of imperialist domination.

Today, with poverty, unemployment and debt spiralling out of control, and economic crisis set to get worse while wars get bigger and dirtier, it’s certainly true that more and more people even in relatively cushioned imperialist heartlands like Britain are starting to join the class struggle.

They are finally waking up to the reality that this parasitic system has outlived its usefulness and has a future only in the past. Capitalism and imperialism have nothing to offer the vast masses of the world’s people except more poverty, more debt slavery, more war and more human and environmental waste and destruction.

So it’s not surprising that the corporate media and politicians are desperate to persuade us that the pro-imperialists of the SWP etc are the people to join if you want to express opposition to capitalism in Britain. They will be getting plenty more free advertising in the capitalist press from now on, precisely because they will be as much use to workers in making a revolution as chocolate is in making a pot to hold tea.


7 thoughts on “Trotskyism or Leninism?

  1. Hi Mike, glad you liked the leaflet and also glad you found something of interest on the Counterfire website. To answer your question, it was not only Trotsky but probably every single socialist who hoped for socialist revolution across the world. Which of us doesn’t want world socialist revolution? That is nothing peculiar to Trotsky. Lenin and Stalin were also hoping for world revolution – and were desperate to see the German working class seize and hold onto power as World War One came to its bloody conclusion.

    I think you might be thinking of Trotsky’s ‘theory’ of permanent revolution which is bandied around by many who claim to be Trotskyists but never really studied by very many of them. It also a convenient tool used by the bourgeois state to simplify the varying competing tendencies which emerged in Russia and struggled for control over the labour movement there. Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution was well formulated by 1906 when he declared in Our Revolution (he was speaking after the 10905 Russian Revolution)

    “In the absence of direct state support on the part of the european proletariat, the Russian working class will not be able to keep itself in power and transform its temporary rule into a stable socialist dictatorship. There is no doubt about it”

    Trotsky never departed from this position which was reached as a result of heated debate against Lenin 1905-06 on the role of the peasantry in the Russian revolution. Trotky basically believed the russian peasantry could play no part – and since they wouldn’t support the proletariat the Russian workers would need the help of foreign revolution. As far as he was concerned the Russian revolution didn’t stand a chance without outside input. However well written this hypothesis may have been – what was one to do if the european working class failed to make socialist revolution at the same time as the Russians? As history proved – the revolutionary upheaval ebbed away, revolutions were drowned in blood and when the smoke cleared only the Russian proletariat remained.

    If one took the position, as Trotysky did, that the Russian Revolution could not survive without the outside support of the european revolution, one could only reach two conclusions after seizing power:

    1. that by some kind of adventurism, some miraculous march west (irrespective of actually existing conditions) the revolution could be ‘exported’ to other countries
    2. complete surrender to international monopoly capitalism.

    Trotsky reached both these conclusions and advocated either one from time to time. This adventurism and capitulation sprang from his lack of faith in the ability of the Russian proletariat to lead the broad masses of the russian labouring people (peasantry included!).

    For more info – this book is pretty hefty

  2. Dug out another couple of quotes for you Mike to put some clear blue water between the Leninist line and opportunism:

    “Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future, or an abstract picture, or an icon. We still retain our old bad opinion of icons. We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way. This is the task of our day, the task of our epoch. Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all – not in one day, but in the course of several years – all of us together fulfil it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia.”
    (Lenin ‘On the slogan for a United States of Europe’)

    and this famous one

    “Uneven economic and political development is an unconditional law of capitalism. Hence it follows that the triumph of socialism is, to begin with, possible in a few, or even in a single capitalist country. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and having organized socialist production at home, would be up in arms against the rest of the capitalist world, attracting oppressed classes of other countries to its side, causing insurrections in those countries against the capitalists, and acting, in case of need, even with military power against the exploiting classes and their governments.”

  3. It doesn’t supprot the contention that Lenin agreed with Trotsky and the following exposes the manipulation of the Counterfire people; in typical Trotskyist fashion they utterly distort what Lenin is saying;

    “…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth. The ‘final’ victory of socialism in a single country is of course impossible.”
    – Lenin, Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets, 1918.

    Can’t be any clearer than that?

    Of course, on a world scale – socialism cannot be victorious until the revolution has been accomplished in the majority of nations. This is precisely what the CPSU(b) and Stalin understood so well – the Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese and Korean’s as well as countless other national liberation struggles owe their survival and success to the fact that Stalin and the Bolsheviks pursued a correct Leninist line and didn’t allow the fledgling USSR to be smashed to pieces by adventurists and opportunists like Trotsky et al.

    As for the left being divided – the left is not so divided. Those muppets who throw their weight behind every adventure of imperialism, whether it be in Libya or Syria – like these Counterfire dupes do, cannot be regarded as anything ‘left’. Slowly but surely a revolutionary workers movement will be rebuilt in the UK and these scoundrels will be kicked into the long grass once and for all.

  4. Nice post, which describes the difference betwwen the real, practical communists and the so-called bookish ones. That said, should we be impatient and so rude (scoundrels?!) to someone who is at least on left of politics? I, who migrated from India, was initially attracted to communism NOT by its theory and nor by historical revolutions of USSR, Cuba, China or Vietnam. The simple reasons were local politics, local politicians, their attitudes and stands on local and national issues – during my younger college years. A bit of theory and historical knowledge came much later; though they added strength to my understandings, these were only second to the ……

  5. … above reply went before completion… Hence my question is – Is this the right time for Communists to divide themselves as Socialists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Leninists, Naxalites & Stalinists and engage is fierce verbal / written battles?…

  6. ..I hate this android tablet! a good tool to read at late in night, but so unstable for writing 😦 To continue from above………Agree that leaders of variants of Communist ideologies had different ways and techniques; their thought-processes could’ve been opposite to each other. Agree that few mistakes and incorrect decisions have been made by all. But all those leaders were unite in one key aspect – ultimate goal of proletarian supremacy. As Marx said, Communism too is subjected to constant change; variations of Communism were necessities of those times. Stalin, being world-war era leader of a nascent communist country, could not have been able to digest open-thinking, more theoretical/self-questioning queries of Trotsky. For Stalin, these could be discussed only in intra-party discussions – and for outside world, party should present itself as if it is of one voice during those tough years. While for Trotsky, his ideas towards constant improvement of Communism could have made him impatient and more vocal. [Please note these are only my assumptions, just for argument’s sake, please! Who knows what the real reasons for the dis-agreements were?]

    But that is history. Is there any point in constant, continuous debates to find out who had the best approach? Is it not time to understand the differences between the variants and move forward?

    1. Hi comrade, the point is – to move forward you need to know where your going. An understanding of society (theory) and a way of uniting to change it (organisation) are the two things that we need to make a socialist revolution. Trotskyism offers a totally different conception of how to do this from Leninism. Trying to cover over the differences and move on is much more harmful than arguing them out, exposing scoundrels for what they are, and achieving proper unity on the basis of a revolutionary programme. The only ideology which can achieve this is Leninism, its the only one tested in practice which has brought about socialist revolution.

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