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Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Trotsky identified as an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik–Leninist. He supported founding a vanguard party of the proletariat, proletarian internationalism and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working class self-emancipation and mass democracy. Trotskyists are critical of Stalinism as they oppose Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism in one country in favor of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotskyists also criticize the bureaucracy that developed in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Marxism is a theory and method of working-class self-emancipation. As a theory, it relies on a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.79 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.
A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.
Vladimir Lenin and Trotsky were close both ideologically and personally during the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, and some call Trotsky its "co-leader".Trotsky was the paramount leader of the Red Army in the direct aftermath of the Revolutionary period. Trotsky initially opposed some aspects of Leninism, but he concluded that unity between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks was impossible and joined the Bolsheviks. Trotsky played a leading role with Lenin in the revolution. Assessing Trotsky, Lenin wrote: "Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik."
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1922 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism; his ideas were posthumously codified as Marxism–Leninism.
The Russian Revolution was a period of political and social revolution across the territory of the Russian Empire which started with the abolishment of monarchy and concluded with the establishment of the Soviet Union by the bolsheviks and the end of the civil war.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.
Under Stalin's orders,Trotsky was removed from power (October 1927), expelled from the Communist Party (November 1927), exiled first to Alma-Ata (January 1928), and then from the Soviet Union (February 1929). As the head of the Fourth International, Trotsky continued from exile to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. On 20 August 1940, Trotsky was attacked by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born NKVD agent, and died the next day in a hospital. His murder is considered a political assassination. Almost all of the Trotskyists within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were executed in the Great Purges of 1937–1938, effectively removing all of Trotsky's internal influence in the Soviet Union.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the founding and ruling political party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU was the sole governing party of the Soviet Union until 1990, when the Congress of People's Deputies modified Article 6 of the most recent 1977 Soviet constitution, which had granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system.
Almaty, formerly known as Alma-Ata and Verniy, is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 2,039,376 people, about 11% of the country's total population and more than 2,7 million in its built-up area that encompasses Talgar, Boraldai, Otegen Batyr and many other suburbs. It served as capital of the Kazakh state in its various forms from 1929 to 1997, under the influence of the then Soviet Union and its appointees. In 1997, the government relocated the capital to Astana in the north of the country and about 12 hours away by train.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
Trotsky's Fourth International was established in France in 1938, when Trotskyists argued that the Comintern or Third International had become irretrievably "lost to Stalinism" and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power.In contemporary English language usage, an advocate of Trotsky's ideas is often called a "Trotskyist". A Trotskyist can be called a "Trotskyite" or "Trot", especially by a critic of Trotskyism.
The French Third Republic was the system of government adopted in France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War, until 10 July 1940 after France's defeat by Nazi Germany in World War II led to the formation of the Vichy government in France.
The Communist International (Comintern), known also as the Third International (1919–1943), was an international organization that advocated world communism. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to "struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state". The Comintern had been preceded by the 1916 dissolution of the Second International.
According to Trotsky, his program could be distinguished from other Marxist theories by five key elements:
Permanent revolution is a term within Marxist theory coined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels by at least 1850, but which has since become most closely associated with Leon Trotsky. Furthermore, the uses of the term by different theorists are not identical. For instance, Marx used it to describe the strategy of a revolutionary class to continue to pursue its class interests independently and without compromise despite overtures for political alliances and the political dominance of opposing sections of society. Trotsky extrapolated this to his conception of permanent revolution as an explanation of how socialist revolutions could occur in societies that had not achieved advanced capitalism. Trotsky's theory also argues: (1) that the bourgeoisie in late-developing capitalist countries are incapable of developing the productive forces in such a manner as to achieve the sort of advanced capitalism which will fully develop an industrial proletariat; and (2) that the proletariat can and must therefore seize social, economic and political power, leading an alliance with the peasantry.
The two-stage theory, or stagism, is a Marxist–Leninist political theory which argues that underdeveloped countries such as Tsarist Russia must first pass through a stage of capitalism before moving to a socialist stage.
A political revolution, in the Trotskyist theory, is an upheaval in which the government is replaced, or the form of government altered, but in which property relations are predominantly left intact. The revolutions in France in 1830 and 1848 are often cited as political revolutions.
On the political spectrum of Marxism, Trotskyists are usually considered to be towards the left. In the 1920s they called themselves the Left Opposition, although today's left communism is distinct and usually non-Bolshevik. The terminological disagreement can be confusing because different versions of a left-right political spectrum are used. Anti-revisionists consider themselves the ultimate leftists on a spectrum from communism on the left to imperialist capitalism on the right, but given that Stalinism is often labeled rightist within the communist spectrum and left communism leftist, anti-revisionists' idea of left is very different from that of left communism. Despite being Bolshevik-Leninist comrades during the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, Trotsky and Stalin became enemies in the 1920s and thereafter opposed the legitimacy of each other's forms of Leninism. Trotsky was extremely critical of the Stalinist USSR for suppressing democracy and lack of adequate economic planning.
A political spectrum is a system to characterize and classify different political positions in relation to one another upon one or more geometric axes that represent independent political dimensions. The expressions political compass and political map are used to refer to the politcal spectrum as well, especially to popular two-dimensional models of it.
The Left Opposition was a faction within the Bolshevik Party from 1923 to 1927 headed de facto by Leon Trotsky. The Left Opposition formed as part of the power struggle within the party leadership that began with the Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin's illness and intensified with his death in January 1924. Originally, the battle lines were drawn between Trotsky and his supporters who signed The Declaration of 46 in October 1923 on the one hand and a triumvirate of Comintern chairman Grigory Zinoviev, Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Politburo chairman Lev Kamenev on the other hand.
Left communism, or the communist left, is a position held by the left-wing of communism which criticises the political ideas and practices espoused by Marxist–Leninists and social democrats. Left communists assert positions which they regard as more authentically Marxist than the views of Marxism–Leninism espoused by the Communist International after its Bolshevization by Joseph Stalin and during its second congress.
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In 1905, Trotsky formulated his theory of permanent revolution that later became a defining characteristic of Trotskyism. Until 1905, some revolutionariesclaimed that Marx's theory of history posited that only a revolution in a European capitalist society would lead to a socialist one. According to this position, it was impossible for a socialist revolution to occur in a backward, feudal country such as early 20th century Russia when it had such a small and almost powerless capitalist class.
The theory of permanent revolution addressed the question of how such feudal regimes were to be overthrown and how socialism could be established given the lack of economic prerequisites. Trotsky argued that in Russia only the working class could overthrow feudalism and win the support of the peasantry. Furthermore, he argued that the Russian working class would not stop there. They would win their own revolution against the weak capitalist class, establish a workers' state in Russia and appeal to the working class in the advanced capitalist countries around the world. As a result, the global working class would come to Russia's aid and socialism could develop worldwide.
Revolutions in Britain in the 17th century and in France in 1789 abolished feudalism and established the basic requisites for the development of capitalism. Trotsky argued that these revolutions would not be repeated in Russia.
In Results and Prospects, written in 1906, Trotsky outlines his theory in detail, arguing: "History does not repeat itself. However much one may compare the Russian Revolution with the Great French Revolution, the former can never be transformed into a repetition of the latter."In the French Revolution of 1789, France experienced what Marxists called a "bourgeois-democratic revolution"—a regime was established wherein the bourgeoisie overthrew the existing French feudalistic system. The bourgeoisie then moved towards establishing a regime of democratic parliamentary institutions. However, while democratic rights were extended to the bourgeoisie, they were not generally extended to a universal franchise. The freedom for workers to organize unions or to strike was not achieved without considerable struggle.
Trotsky argues that countries like Russia had no "enlightened, active" revolutionary bourgeoisie which could play the same role and the working class constituted a very small minority. By the time of the European revolutions of 1848, "the bourgeoisie was already unable to play a comparable role. It did not want and was not able to undertake the revolutionary liquidation of the social system that stood in its path to power."
The theory of permanent revolution considers that in many countries that are thought under Trotskyism to have not yet completed a bourgeois-democratic revolution, the capitalist class opposes the creation of any revolutionary situation. They fear stirring the working class into fighting for its own revolutionary aspirations against their exploitation by capitalism. In Russia, the working class, although a small minority in a predominantly peasant based society, were organised in vast factories owned by the capitalist class and into large working class districts. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, the capitalist class found it necessary to ally with reactionary elements such as the essentially feudal landlords and ultimately the existing Czarist Russian state forces. This was to protect their ownership of their property—factories, banks, etc.—from expropriation by the revolutionary working class.
Therefore, according to the theory of permanent revolution the capitalist classes of economically backward countries are weak and incapable of carrying through revolutionary change. As a result, they are linked to and rely on the feudal landowners in many ways. Thus Trotsky argues that because a majority of the branches of industry in Russia were originated under the direct influence of government measures—sometimes with the help of government subsidies—the capitalist class was again tied to the ruling elite. The capitalist class were subservient to European capital.
The theory of permanent revolution further considers that the peasantry as a whole cannot take on the task of carrying through the revolution, because it is dispersed in small holdings throughout the country and forms a heterogeneous grouping, including the rich peasants who employ rural workers and aspire to landlordism as well as the poor peasants who aspire to own more land. Trotsky argues: "All historical experience [...] shows that the peasantry are absolutely incapable of taking up an independent political role".
Trotskyists differ on the extent to which this is true today, but even the most orthodox tend to recognise in the late twentieth century a new development in the revolts of the rural poor, the self-organising struggles of the landless; and many other struggles which in some ways reflect the militant united organised struggles of the working class; and which to various degrees do not bear the marks of class divisions typical of the heroic peasant struggles of previous epochs. However, orthodox Trotskyists today still argue that the town and city based working class struggle is central to the task of a successful socialist revolution, linked to these struggles of the rural poor. They argue that the working class learns of necessity to conduct a collective struggle, for instance in trade unions, arising from its social conditions in the factories and workplaces; and that the collective consciousness it achieves as a result is an essential ingredient of the socialist reconstruction of society.
Trotsky himself argued that only the proletariat or working class were capable of achieving the tasks of that bourgeois revolution. In 1905, the working class in Russia, a generation brought together in vast factories from the relative isolation of peasant life, saw the result of its labour as a vast collective effort and the only means of struggling against its oppression in terms of a collective effort and forming workers councils (soviets) in the course of the revolution of that year. In 1906, Trotsky argued:
The factory system brings the proletariat to the foreground [...] The proletariat immediately found itself concentrated in tremendous masses, while between these masses and the autocracy there stood a capitalist bourgeoisie, very small in numbers, isolated from the "people", half-foreign, without historical traditions, and inspired only by the greed for gain.
For instance, the Putilov Factory numbered 12,000 workers in 1900 and according to Trotsky 36,000 in July 1917.
Although only a small minority in Russian society, the proletariat would lead a revolution to emancipate the peasantry and thus "secure the support of the peasantry" as part of that revolution, on whose support it will rely.However, in order to improve their own conditions the working class will find it necessary to create a revolution of their own, which would accomplish both the bourgeois revolution and then establish a workers' state.
According to classical Marxism, revolution in peasant-based countries such as Russia prepares the ground ultimately only for a development of capitalism since the liberated peasants become small owners, producers and traders which leads to the growth of commodity markets, from which a new capitalist class emerges. Only fully developed capitalist conditions prepare the basis for socialism.
Trotsky agreed that a new socialist state and economy in a country like Russia would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world as well as the internal pressures of its backward economy. The revolution, Trotsky argued, must quickly spread to capitalist countries, bringing about a socialist revolution which must spread worldwide. In this way the revolution is "permanent", moving out of necessity first, from the bourgeois revolution to the workers’ revolution and from there uninterruptedly to European and worldwide revolutions.
An internationalist outlook of permanent revolution is found in the works of Karl Marx. The term "permanent revolution" is taken from a remark of Marx from his March 1850 Address: "it is our task", Marx said:
[...] to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far—not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world—that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers.
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According to Trotsky, the term "Trotskyism" was coined by Pavel Milyukov (sometimes transliterated as Paul Miliukoff), the ideological leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets) in Russia. Milyukov waged a bitter war against Trotskyism "as early as 1905".
Trotsky was elected chairman of the St. Petersburg Soviet during the Russian Revolution of 1905. He pursued a policy of proletarian revolution at a time when other socialist trends advocated a transition to a "bourgeois" (capitalist) regime to replace the essentially feudal Romanov state. It was during this year that Trotsky developed the theory of permanent revolution, as it later became known (see below). In 1905, Trotsky quotes from a postscript to a book by Milyukov, The Elections to the Second State Duma, published no later than May 1907:
Those who reproach the Kadets with failure to protest at that time, by organising meetings, against the "revolutionary illusions" of Trotskyism and the relapse into Blanquism, simply do not understand [...] the mood of the democratic public at meetings during that period.
Milyukov suggests that the mood of the "democratic public" was in support of Trotsky's policy of the overthrow of the Romanov regime alongside a workers' revolution to overthrow the capitalist owners of industry, support for strike action and the establishment of democratically elected workers' councils or "soviets".
During his leadership of the Russian revolution of 1905, Trotsky argued that once it became clear that the Tsar's army would not come out in support of the workers, it was necessary to retreat before the armed might of the state in as good an order as possible.In 1917, Trotsky was again elected chairman of the Petrograd soviet, but this time soon came to lead the Military Revolutionary Committee which had the allegiance of the Petrograd garrison and carried through the October 1917 insurrection. Stalin wrote:
All practical work in connection with the organisation of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.— Joseph Stalin, Pravda , November 6, 1918
As a result of his role in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the theory of permanent revolution was embraced by the young Soviet state until 1924.
The Russian revolution of 1917 was marked by two revolutions: the relatively spontaneous February 1917 revolution, and the 25 October 1917 seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, who had gained the leadership of the Petrograd soviet.
Before the February 1917 Russian revolution, Lenin had formulated a slogan calling for the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry", but after the February revolution through his April Theses, Lenin instead called for "all power to the Soviets". Lenin nevertheless continued to emphasise (as did Trotsky also) the classical Marxist position that the peasantry formed a basis for the development of capitalism, not socialism.
Also before February 1917, Trotsky had not accepted the importance of a Bolshevik style organisation. Once the February 1917 Russian revolution had broken out, Trotsky admitted the importance of a Bolshevik organisation and joined the Bolsheviks in July 1917. Despite the fact that many like Stalin saw Trotsky's role in the October 1917 Russian revolution as central, Trotsky wrote that without Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, the October revolution of 1917 would not have taken place.
As a result, since 1917 Trotskyism as a political theory is fully committed to a Leninist style of democratic centralist party organisation, which Trotskyists argue must not be confused with the party organisation as it later developed under Stalin. Trotsky had previously suggested that Lenin's method of organisation would lead to a dictatorship, but it is important to emphasise that after 1917 orthodox Trotskyists argue that the loss of democracy in the Soviet Union was caused by the failure of the revolution to spread internationally and the consequent wars, isolation, and imperialist intervention, not the Bolshevik style of organisation.
Lenin's outlook had always been that the Russian revolution would need to stimulate a Socialist revolution in Western Europe in order that this European socialist society would then come to the aid of the Russian revolution and enable Russia to advance towards socialism. Lenin stated:
We have stressed in a good many written works, in all our public utterances, and in all our statements in the press that [...] the socialist revolution can triumph only on two conditions. First, if it is given timely support by a socialist revolution in one or several advanced countries.
This outlook matched precisely Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotsky's permanent revolution had foreseen that the working class would not stop at the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution, but proceed towards a workers' state as happened in 1917. The Polish Trotskyist Isaac Deutscher maintains that in 1917 Lenin changed his attitude to Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution and after the October revolution it was adopted by the Bolsheviks.
Lenin was met with initial disbelief in April 1917. Trotsky argues that:
[...] up to the outbreak of the February revolution and for a time after Trotskyism did not mean the idea that it was impossible to build a socialist society within the national boundaries of Russia (which "possibility" was never expressed by anybody up to 1924 and hardly came into anybody’s head). Trotskyism meant the idea that the Russian proletariat might win the power in advance of the Western proletariat, and that in that case it could not confine itself within the limits of a democratic dictatorship but would be compelled to undertake the initial socialist measures. It is not surprising, then, that the April theses of Lenin were condemned as Trotskyist.
In The Stalin School of Falsification, Trotsky argues that what he calls the "legend of Trotskyism" was formulated by Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev in collaboration with Stalin in 1924 in response to the criticisms Trotsky raised of Politburo policy.Orlando Figes argues: "The urge to silence Trotsky, and all criticism of the Politburo, was in itself a crucial factor in Stalin's rise to power".
During 1922–1924, Lenin suffered a series of strokes and became increasingly incapacitated. Before his death in 1924, while describing Trotsky as "distinguished not only by his exceptional abilities—personally he is, to be sure, the most able man in the present Central Committee" and also maintaining that "his non-Bolshevik past should not be held against him", Lenin criticized him for "showing excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work" and also requested that Stalin be removed from his position of General Secretary, but his notes remained suppressed until 1956.Zinoviev and Kamenev broke with Stalin in 1925 and joined Trotsky in 1926 in what was known as the United Opposition.
In 1926, Stalin allied with Nikolai Bukharin who then led the campaign against "Trotskyism". In The Stalin School of Falsification, Trotsky quotes Bukharin's 1918 pamphlet, From the Collapse of Czarism to the Fall of the Bourgeoisie, which was re-printed in 1923 by the party publishing house, Proletari. In this pamphlet, Bukharin explains and embraces Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, writing: "The Russian proletariat is confronted more sharply than ever before with the problem of the international revolution ... The grand total of relationships which have arisen in Europe leads to this inevitable conclusion. Thus, the permanent revolution in Russia is passing into the European proletarian revolution". Yet it is common knowledge, Trotsky argues, that three years later in 1926 "Bukharin was the chief and indeed the sole theoretician of the entire campaign against 'Trotskyism', summed up in the struggle against the theory of the permanent revolution."
Trotsky wrote that the Left Opposition grew in influence throughout the 1920s, attempting to reform the Communist Party, but in 1927 Stalin declared "civil war" against them:
During the first ten years of its struggle, the Left Opposition did not abandon the program of ideological conquest of the party for that of conquest of power against the party. Its slogan was: reform, not revolution. The bureaucracy, however, even in those times, was ready for any revolution in order to defend itself against a democratic reform.
In 1927, when the struggle reached an especially bitter stage, Stalin declared at a session of the Central Committee, addressing himself to the Opposition: "Those cadres can be removed only by civil war!" What was a threat in Stalin’s words became, thanks to a series of defeats of the European proletariat, a historic fact. The road of reform was turned into a road of revolution.— Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going?, p. 279, Pathfinder
Defeat of the European working class led to further isolation in Russia and further suppression of the Opposition. Trotsky argued that the "so-called struggle against 'Trotskyism' grew out of the bureaucratic reaction against the October Revolution [of 1917]".He responded to the one sided civil war with his Letter to the Bureau of Party History (1927), contrasting what he claimed to be the falsification of history with the official history of just a few years before. He further accused Stalin of derailing the Chinese revolution and causing the massacre of the Chinese workers:
In the year 1918, Stalin, at the very outset of his campaign against me, found it necessary, as we have already learned, to write the following words:"All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the direct leadership of the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, comrade Trotsky..." (Stalin, Pravda, 6 November 1918)
With full responsibility for my words, I am now compelled to say that the cruel massacre of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese Revolution at its three most important turning points, the strengthening of the position of the trade union agents of British imperialism after the General Strike of 1926, and, finally, the general weakening of the position of the Communist International and the Soviet Union, the party owes principally and above all to Stalin.— Leon Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification, p. 87, Pathfinder (1971).
Trotsky was sent into internal exile and his supporters were jailed. For instance, Victor Serge first "spent six weeks in a cell" after a visit at midnight, then 85 days in an inner GPU cell, most of it in solitary confinement. He details the jailings of the Left Opposition.However, the Left Opposition continued to work in secret within the Soviet Union. Trotsky was eventually exiled to Turkey and moved from there to France, Norway and finally to Mexico.
After 1928, the various Communist Parties throughout the world expelled Trotskyists from their ranks. Most Trotskyists defend the economic achievements of the planned economy in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, despite the "misleadership" of the soviet bureaucracy and what they claim to be the loss of democracy.Trotskyists claim that in 1928 inner party democracy and indeed soviet democracy, which was at the foundation of Bolshevism, had been destroyed within the various Communist Parties. Anyone who disagreed with the party line was labeled a Trotskyist and even a fascist.
In 1937, Stalin again unleashed what Trotskyists say was a political terror against their Left Opposition and many of the remaining Old Bolsheviks (those who had played key roles in the October Revolution in 1917) in the face of increased opposition, particularly in the army.
Trotsky founded the International Left Opposition in 1930. It was meant to be an opposition group within the Comintern, but anyone who joined or was suspected of joining the ILO was immediately expelled from the Comintern. The ILO therefore concluded that opposing Stalinism from within the communist organizations controlled by Stalin's supporters had become impossible, so new organizations had to be formed. In 1933, the ILO was renamed the International Communist League (ICL), which formed the basis of the Fourth International, founded in Paris in 1938.
Trotsky 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.
Trotsky argued that the defeat of the German working class and the coming to power of Hitler in 1933 was due in part to the mistakes of the Third Period policy of the Communist International and that the subsequent failure of the Communist Parties to draw the correct lessons from those defeats showed that they were no longer capable of reform and a new international organisation of the working class must be organised. The transitional demand tactic had to be a key element.
At the time of the founding of the Fourth International in 1938, Trotskyism was a mass political current in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and slightly later Bolivia. There was also a substantial Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the Chinese communist movement, 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. [ citation needed ]
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 Soviet Union no longer could be called a 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 (ISFI) 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 without a social revolution were described by a resolution of the 1948 congress as presiding over capitalist economies.By 1951, the Congress had concluded that they had become "deformed workers' states". As the Cold War intensified, the ISFI's 1951 World Congress adopted theses by Michel Pablo that anticipated an international civil war. Pablo's followers considered that the Communist Parties, insofar as they were placed under pressure by the real workers' movement, could escape Stalin's manipulations and follow a revolutionary orientation.
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'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.
Pablo began expelling large numbers of people who did not agree with his thesis and who did not want to dissolve their organizations within the Communist Parties. For instance, he expelled the majority of the French section and replaced its leadership. As a result, the opposition to Pablo eventually rose to the surface, with the Open Letter to Trotskyists of the World, by Socialist Workers Party leader James P. Cannon.
The Fourth International split in 1953 into two public factions. The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) 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 and recommitted themselves to the Lenin-Trotsky Theory of the Party and Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution.From 1960, led by the U.S Socialist Workers Party, a number of ICFI sections began the reunification process with the IS, but factions split off and continued their commitment to the ICFI. Today, national parties committed to the ICFI call themselves the Socialist Equality Party.
Trotskyism has had some influence in some recent major social upheavals, particularly in Latin America.
The Bolivian Trotskyist party (Partido Obrero Revolucionario, POR) became a mass party in the period of the late 1940s and early 1950s and together with other groups played a central role during and immediately after the period termed the Bolivian National Revolution.
In Brazil, as an officially recognised platform or faction of the PT until 1992, the Trotskyist Movimento Convergência Socialista (CS), which founded the United Socialist Workers' Party (PSTU) in 1994, saw a number of its members elected to national, state and local legislative bodies during the 1980s.The Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) presidential candidate in the 2006 general elections Heloísa Helena is termed a Trotskyist who was a member of the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), a legislative deputy in Alagoas and in 1999 was elected to the Federal Senate. Expelled from the PT in December 2003, she helped found PSOL in which various Trotskyist groups play a prominent role.
In Argentina, the Workers' Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores, PRT) lay in the merger of two leftist organizations in 1965, the Revolutionary and Popular Amerindian Front (Frente Revolucionario Indoamericano Popular, FRIP) and Worker's Word (Palabra Obrera, PO). In 1968, the PRT adhered to the Fourth International, based in Paris. That same year a related organisation was founded in Argentina, the ERP (People's Revolutionary Army) that became the strongest rural guerrilla movement in South America during the 1970s. The PRT left the Fourth International in 1973.Both the PRT and the ERP were suppressed by the Argentine military regime during the Dirty War. ERP commander Roberto Santucho was killed in July 1976. Owing to the ruthless repression PRT showed no signs of activity after 1977. During the 1980s in Argentina, the Trotskyist party founded in 1982 by Nahuel Moreno, MAS, (Movimiento al Socialismo, Movement Toward Socialism), claimed to be the "largest Trotskyist party" in the world before it broke into a number of different fragments in the late 1980s, including the present-day MST, PTS, Nuevo MAS, IS, PRS, FOS, etc. In 1989 in an electoral front with the Communist Party and Christian nationalists groups, called Izquierda Unida ("United Left"), obtained 3.49% of the vote, representing 580,944 voters. Today, the Workers' Party in Argentina has an electoral base in Salta Province in the far north, particularly in the city of Salta itself; and has become the third political force in the provinces of Tucumán, also in the north; and Santa Cruz, in the south.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez declared himself to be a Trotskyist during his swearing in of his cabinet, two days before his own inauguration on 10 January 2007.Venezuelan Trotskyist organizations do not regard Chávez as a Trotskyist, with some describing him as a bourgeois nationalist and other considering him an honest revolutionary leader who has made major mistakes because he lacks a Marxist analysis.
In Indochina during the 1930s, Vietnamese Trotskyism led by Tạ Thu Thâu was a significant current, particularly in Saigon.
In Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) expelled its pro-Moscow wing in 1940, becoming a Trotskyist-led party. It was led by South Asia's pioneer Trotskyist, Philip Gunawardena and his colleague N. M. Perera. In 1942, following the escape of the leaders of the LSSP from a British prison, a unified Bolshevik–Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma (BLPI) was established in India, bringing together the many Trotskyist groups in the subcontinent. The BLPI was active in the Quit India Movement as well as the labour movement, capturing the second oldest union in India. Its high point was when it led the strikes which followed the Bombay Mutiny. After the war, the Sri Lanka section split into the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party (BSP). The Indian section of the BLPI later fused with the Congress Socialist Party. In the general election of 1947, the LSSP became the main opposition party, winning 10 seats, the BSP winning a further 5. It joined the Trotskyist Fourth International after fusion with the BSP in 1950 and led a general strike (Hartal) in 1953.
In 1964, a section of the LSSP split to form the LSSP (Revolutionary) and joined the Fourth International after the LSSP proper was expelled. The LSSP (Revolutionary) later split into factions led by Bala Tampoe and Edmund Samarakkody. The LSSP joined the "coalition" government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, where three of its members, NM Perera, Cholmondely Goonewardena and Anil Moonesinghe were brought into the new cabinet.
In 1974, a secret faction of the LSSP, allied to the Militant group in the United Kingdom emerged. In 1977, this faction was expelled and formed the Nava Sama Samaja Party, led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara.
The ICFI/WSWS Supporters Groupis working to build the Socialist Equality Party in India.
In France, 10% of the electorate voted in 2002 for parties calling themselves Trotskyist.
In Britain during the 1980s, the entryist Militant group operated within the Labour Party with three Members of Parliament and effective control of Liverpool City Council. Described by journalist Michael Crick as "Britain's fifth most important political party" in 1986,it played a prominent role in the 1989–1991 anti-poll tax movement which was widely thought to have led to the downfall of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Several far-left parties in Britain are Trotskyist in orientation, including the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party (not to be confused with the Socialist Party of Great Britain), and the Scottish Socialist Party.
The Socialist Party in Ireland was formed in 1990 by members who had been expelled by the Irish Labour Party's leader Dick Spring. It has had support in the Fingal electoral district as well as in the city of Limerick. In 2018, it had three elected officials in Dáil Éireann. Paul Murphy, representing Dublin West (Dáil constituency), Mick Barry representing Cork North-Central (Dáil constituency) and Ruth Coppinger representing Dublin West (Dáil constituency).
In Portugal's October 2015 parliamentary election, the Left Bloc won 550,945 votes, which translated into 10.19% of the expressed votes and the election of 19 (out of 230) deputados (members of parliament).Although founded by several leftist tendencies, it still expresses much of the Trotskyist thought upheld and developed by its former leader, Francisco Louçã.
In Turkey, there are some Trotksyist organizations, including the International Socialist Tendency's section (Revolutionary Workers' Socialist Party), Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International's section (Revolutionary Workers' Party), Permanent Revolution Movement (SDH), Socialism Magazine (sympathizers of the International Committee of the Fourth International), and several small groups.
The Fourth International derives from the 1963 reunification of the two public factions into which the Fourth International split in 1953: the International Secretariat of the Fourth International (ISFI) and some sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). It is often referred to as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, the name of its leading committee before 2003. The USFI retains sections and sympathizing organizations in over 50 countries, including the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (LCR) of France, as well as sections in Portugal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
The International Committee of the Fourth International maintains its independent organization and publishes the World Socialist Web Site.
The Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) was founded in 1974 and now has sections in over 35 countries. Before 1997, most organisations affiliated to the CWI sought to build an entrist Marxist wing within the large social democratic parties. The CWI has adopted a range of tactics, including working with trade unions, but in some cases working within or supporting other parties, endorsing Bernie Sanders for the 2016 U.S. Democratic Party nomination and encouraging him to run independently.
In France, the LCR is rivalled by Lutte Ouvrière , the French section of the Internationalist Communist Union (UCI), with small sections in a handful of other countries. It focuses its activities, whether propaganda or intervention, within the industrial proletariat.
The founders of the Committee for a Marxist International (CMI) claim they were expelled from the CWI when the CWI abandoned entryism. The CWI claims they left and no expulsions were carried out. Since 2006, it has been known as the International Marxist Tendency (IMT). CMI/IMT groups continue the policy of entering mainstream social democratic, communist or radical parties.
Currently, International Marxist Tendency (IMT) is headed by Alan Woods. The list of Trotskyist internationals shows that there are a large number of other multinational tendencies that stand in the tradition of Leon Trotsky.
Trotskyism has been criticised from various directions. In 1935, Marxist–Leninist Moissaye J. Olgin argued that Trotskyism was "the enemy of the working class" and "should be shunned by anybody who has sympathy for the revolutionary movement of the exploited and oppressed the world over."The African American Marxist–Leninist Harry Haywood, who spent much time in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, stated that although he had been somewhat interested in Trotsky’s ideas when he was young, he came to see it as "a disruptive force on the fringes of the international revolutionary movement" which eventually developed into "a counter-revolutionary conspiracy against the Party and the Soviet state". He continued to put forward his following belief:
Other figures associated with Marxism-Leninism criticized Trotskyist political theory, including Régis Debray.and Earl Browder
Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski wrote: "Both Trotsky and Bukharin were emphatic in their assurances that forced labour was an organic part of the new society."
The way Trotskyists organise to promote their beliefs has been criticised often by ex members of their organisations. Dennis Tourish, a former member of the CWI, asserts that these organisations typically value doctrinal orthodoxy over critical reflection, have illusions in the absolute correctness of their own party's analysis, a fear of dissent, the demonising of dissenters and critical opinion, overworking of members, a sectarian attitude to the rest of the left and the concentration of power among a small group of leaders.
Some Left Communists such as Paul Mattick claim that the October Revolution was totalitarian from the start and therefore Trotskyism has no real differences from Stalinism either in practice or theory.
In the United States, Dwight Macdonald broke with Trotsky and left the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party by raising the question of the Kronstadt rebellion, which Trotsky as leader of the Soviet Red Army and the other Bolsheviks had brutally repressed. He then moved towards democratic socialismand anarchism. A similar critique on Trotsky's role on the events around the Kronstadt rebellion was raised by the American anarchist Emma Goldman. In her essay "Trotsky Protests Too Much", she says: "I admit, the dictatorship under Stalin's rule has become monstrous. That does not, however, lessen the guilt of Leon Trotsky as one of the actors in the revolutionary drama of which Kronstadt was one of the bloodiest scenes". Trotsky defended the actions of the Red Army in his essay "Hue and Cry over Kronstadt".
The Bolsheviks, also known in English as the Bolshevists, were a faction founded by Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov that split from the Menshevik faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), a revolutionary socialist political party formed in 1898, at its Second Party Congress in 1903.
Lev Davidovich Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky, was a Russian revolutionary, Marxist theorist, and Soviet politician whose particular strain of Marxist thought is known as Trotskyism.
Leninism is the political theory for the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by and named for the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories, developed from Marxism and Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theories, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the Russian Empire of the early 20th century.
In political science, Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union (USSR), of the parties of the Communist International, after Bolshevisation; and is the ideology of Stalinist political parties. The purpose of Marxism–Leninism is the revolutionary transformation of a capitalist state into a socialist state, by way of two-stage revolution, which is led by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries, drawn from the proletariat. To realise the two-stage transformation of the state, the vanguard party establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat, which determines policy through democratic centralism.
The ten years 1917-1927 saw a radical transformation of Imperial Russia into a communist state, the USSR. Soviet Russia covers 1917-1922 and Soviet Union covers 1922 to 1991. After a civil war the Bolsheviks (Communists) took dictatorial control. They were dedicated to a version of Marxism developed by Vladimir Lenin. It promised the workers would rise, destroy capitalism and create a socialist utopia under the leadership of the Communist Party. The awkward problem was the small proletariat in an overwhelmingly peasant society with limited industry and a very small middle class. Following the February Revolution in 1917 that removed the tsar, a short-lived provisional government gave way to Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (RCP).
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism, an ideology of a centralised, planned economy and a vanguardist one-party state, which was the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Soviet Union's ideological commitment to achieving communism included the development socialism in one country and peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries while engaging in anti-imperialism to defend the international proletariat, combat capitalism and promote the goals of communism. The state ideology of the Soviet Union—and thus Marxism–Leninism—derived and developed from the theories, policies and political praxis of Lenin and Stalin.
The third camp, also known as third camp socialism or third camp Trotskyism, is a branch of socialism that aims to oppose both capitalism and Stalinism by supporting the organised working class as a "third camp".
Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.
In Trotskyist political theory, a degenerated workers' state is a dictatorship of the proletariat in which the working class's democratic control over the state has given way to control by a bureaucratic clique. The term was developed by Leon Trotsky in The Revolution Betrayed and in other works.
In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the working class hold political power. Proletarian dictatorship is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the government nationalises ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. The socialist revolutionary Joseph Weydemeyer coined the term "dictatorship of the proletariat", which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels adopted to their philosophy and economics. The Paris Commune (1871), which controlled the capital city for two months, before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Marxist philosophy, the term "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is the antonym to "dictatorship of the proletariat".
In the context of the theory of Leninist revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby the most class-conscious and politically advanced sections of the proletariat or working class, described as the revolutionary vanguard, form organisations in order to draw larger sections of the working class towards revolutionary politics and serve as manifestations of proletarian political power against its class enemies.
Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation of Leninism that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist due largely to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States. The term Stalinism is also used to describe these positions, but it is often not used by its supporters who opine that Stalin simply synthesized and practiced Leninism. Because different political trends trace the historical roots of revisionism to different eras and leaders, there is significant disagreement today as to what constitutes anti-revisionism. As a result, modern groups which describe themselves as anti-revisionist fall into several categories. Some uphold the works of Stalin and Mao Zedong and some the works of Stalin while rejecting Mao and universally tend to oppose Trotskyism. Others reject both Stalin and Mao, tracing their ideological roots back to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. In addition, other groups uphold various less-well-known historical leaders such as Enver Hoxha.
Socialism in one country was a theory put forth by Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Bukharin in 1924 which was eventually adopted by the Soviet Union as state policy. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1923 except Russia, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. This turn toward national communism was a shift from the previously held position by classical Marxism that socialism must be established globally. However, proponents of the theory argue that it contradicts neither world revolution nor world communism. The theory was in opposition to Leon Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.
A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist, or Titoist in case of Yugoslavia political parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism–Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.
A united front is an alliance of groups against their common enemies, figuratively evoking unification of previously separate geographic fronts and/or unification of previously separate armies into a front—the name often refers to a political and/or military struggle carried out by revolutionaries, especially in revolutionary socialism, communism or anarchism. The basic theory of the united front tactic among socialists was first developed by the Comintern, an international communist organization created by communists in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. According to the thesis of the 1922 4th World Congress of the Comintern:
The united front tactic is simply an initiative whereby the Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.
Proletarian internationalism, sometimes referred to as international socialism, is the perception of all communist revolutions as being part of a single global class struggle rather than separate localized events. It is based on the theory that capitalism is a world-system and therefore the working classes of all nations must act in concert if they are to replace it with communism. Proponents of proletarian internationalism often argued that the objectives of a given revolution should be global rather than local in scope—for example, triggering or perpetuating revolutions elsewhere.
Foundations of Leninism is a 1924 collection by Joseph Stalin of nine lectures he delivered at Sverdlov University that year. It was published by the Soviet newspaper, Pravda.
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