(CV #35, March, 2005, CV #36, Sept. 2005, and CV #37, Feb. 2006)
. On October 4, 2004, the League for the Revolutionary Party (Swedish initials -- FRP) of Sweden dissolved. The comrades involved are not discouraged, nor have they abandoned the revolution. But they are determined to build up communist organization on a new basis, and they decided to dissolve the FRP to show the need for a thorough break with its original Trotskyist foundations.
. Below are their statement on the dissolution of the FRP, and their longer "evaluation document" on the history of the FRP. These are not documents complaining about this or that minor problem or personality. Instead they discuss the major issues of communist work, as they appeared in Sweden, from several years before the formation of the FRP to the present. These issues affect anti-revisionist communists all over the world. The evaluation document in particular is long and detailed, and refers to many events in Sweden and the world communist movement which few new activists in the US are now aware of. But the reader who takes the time to work his way through the history and analysis that it presents, will find that this document repays serious study many times over.
-- Joseph Green, for the Communist Voice Organization
List of contents:
Rightist turn -- and crossroads
To carry the anti-revisionist struggle through to the end -- or stop half-way and slide backwards
The Communist League of Norrkoping: possibilities and limitations
Derailing: Trotskyism, liquidationism and pipe-dreams
The Workers' List
The IS Tendency
"THE RUSSIAN QUESTION"
Cliff's theory of Russian state capitalism
Further wandering about the wilderness: Daum and "statified capitalism"
To try repairing what cannot be repaired
Joseph Green's critique
THE MOST ORTHODOX IN THE FAMILY
The SJD affair
To extend the concept "worker": Mandel, Cliff and Daum
To narrow the concept too much -- and getting out of step with reality
OPPORTUNISM AND SECTARIANISM
THE PROGRAM QUESTION
The Transitional Program
FRP vacillates back and forth
DISTINCT LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
What did Lenin actually say?
The IS Tendency and LRP
REFORMISM AND ELECTIONS
The FRP line at the general elections
"MILITARY BUT NOT POLITICAL SUPPORT"
Anti-imperialist united front
Cliff and Daum
CLASS STRUGGLE AND FORCES OF PRODUCTION
"SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY"
The consequences of Trotsky's point of view
The Leninist view of transition from capitalism to socialism
THE HISTORICAL HERITAGE
The early Trotsky
Down with forgeries of history!
The Soviet Union changes color
The Trotskyist movement
Stalinist domination -- and the beginning of break-up from it
OUR LONG WAY BACK
The COFI split
A cautious re-orientation
The capitalist crisis and its ideological effects
Unite theory and practice!
SUPPLEMENTS TO THE FRP EVALUATION DOCUMENT
* A letter of May 3, 1990 to the Marxist-Leninist League of Sweden
* Excerpt from a letter to MLF, December 6, 1989
. COFI was the organized expression, at the international level, of the Trotskyist trend formed around the League for the Revolutionary Party-USA (LRP). It has demarcated itself from other Trotskyist trends in a first and foremost negative sense, i.e. out of what it does not want to stand for: the various forms of accommodation to, and capitulation before, Stalinism, reformism, petty-bourgeois nationalism, etc. , which have been, and still are, legion in the Trotskyist milieu. Concretely, this means rejection of e.g. the claim that others than the working class can create "workers' states" and that Stalin's counter-revolution in the 1930's limited itself to be purely political, not social, i.e. that the Soviet Union remained a "workers' state". Likewise, it means rejection of e.g. strategical entryism and the constant vote for social-democratic or "left" parties in elections, as well as of the idea that some kind of general "labor party" should be advocated rather than the revolutionary party. These demarcations are, in themselves, a good beginning, but the traditional Trotskyist point of departure has turned out to result in opportunist accommodations nevertheless. Thus, for instance, LRP calls for "military but not political" support for reactionary regimes which are in conflict with the U.S. or any other imperialist power; most recently it was Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Another example is how the proud talk that only the working class can make socialist revolution, turns out hollow as LRP has re-defined the concept of the working class to include the very "middle-class intelligentsia" whose influence they warn of.
. Positions taken in a positive sense, i.e. alternatives to other Trotskyists, are scarce, except for the theory of "statified capitalism" which has been put forward in Walter Daum's book The Life & Death of Stalinism. As this theory has turned out to contain a number of contradictions pointing in widely differing directions, making possible widely differing interpretations of its strategical implications, there were mechanisms of split built-in from the very beginning -- and as soon as this trend was spread outside the U.S. , various parallel and mutually gainsaying orientations came forth, each of which being able, with a certain logical right, to claim being a reasonable deduction of Daum's theory. As long as there was no challenge to the control of COFI exercised by the LRP leadership, it was prepared to close its eyes to Menshevism (in Australia) and to our right opportunism. For a while, the LRP leadership was even ready to try to recruit a petty-bourgeois organization in Kurdistan which hailed religion and Bundist organizing on ethnic lines. In a short time, the tensions within COFI became so severe that it blew apart in 1994-95 when the LRP leadership attempted to re-gain control by means of bureaucratic big-stick methods. FRP was purged after a fumbling effort to express a partially correct criticism, and has since then had nothing to do with them. For a couple of years, FRP declared itself an "external section of COFI", in hope of a change in LRP from within, but began subsequently a cautious re-orientation. In 1998 the publication of the paper Rod Gryning (Red Dawn) ceased, and its newsletter, too. Indeed, most of FRP's intervening activities came to a halt, the focus turning to theoretical studies instead.
. It is now clear that LRP's claim to represent the real essence of Trotskyism is without foundation: other Trotskyists, who regarded countries with statified economies as "workers' states", were probably making the most adequate interpretation of Trotsky's views. Nor can the above-mentioned negative demarcations, taken by LRP/COFI as its point of departure, at a closer look be derived from orthodox Trotskyism. Also in this respect are other Trotskyists in a number of ways more representative. This has, in turn, forced us to think matters over again, point by point. We had, from the beginning, seen how Stalinism leads to class-collaboration and thought that the theory of permanent revolution is the solution: to deny stages in the struggle (albeit not denying it in the sterile manner typical of ultra-"leftists", but rather by seeing it all as a continuous process just rolling on). We had not understood the difference between Marx's discussion in 1850 of "the revolution in permanence" and Trotsky's theory. Nor had we understood the difference between the early Comintern's use of transitional slogans and that of Trotskyism, but thought that the latter provides the key to how everything can be connected. We had not understood the difference between condemning the Moscow trials and accepting the Trotskyist claims to be the sole real alternative to Stalinism. We had not understood that the old debate on "socialism in one country" constituted a blind alley -- and, actually, a proof as to how the differences between Stalin and Trotsky were of a quantitative, not qualitative, nature. And so on.
. The resolution on the classics of Marxism-Leninism, adopted by FRP last year, which criticized some of Trotsky's ideas and stated that he can not be regarded as a classic alongside Marx, Engels and Lenin, was simply a sign of the extent to which our re-consideration had reached at that moment. Now we declare that Trotskyism, taken on the whole, is a branch of modern revisionism. Trotsky himself was a continuously vacillating centrist, who in fact never broke with the tradition of the Second International before 1914 -- a tradition which, in various forms, was brought into Comintern and the Russian Bolshevik Party as well, and managed to survive Leninism.
. On the occasion of the dissolution of FRP, an evaluation document has been adopted, entering in more detail about how we view the political errors of FRP and COFI, and our view of the Marxist-Leninist tradition. We also formulate a more precise critique of Trotskyism than there is space for in a statement like this. That document can be ordered by e-mail to
rodgryning@hotmail. com or by letter to
Box 190 15,
161 19 Bromma, Sweden.
. We retain that communism has nothing to do with the fallen East Bloc -- or, for that matter, with any of those regimes which continue to call themselves "socialist": China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. By communism, we mean the merger of revolutionary Marxism with the working-class movement, and also the classless society which is the final goal for its struggle. This struggle is more current and more life-important than ever! The capitalist system -- regardless of form -- has got no future to offer mankind; it can proceed only downwards. Precisely for that reason is it so much more crucial that the scientific re-construction advances and that all deviations and distortions are dug out with their roots. This is the first, indispensable step. Of course, it has to be done in organized forms, and not isolated, book-worm style, but as part and parcel of cadre-building aimed at the creation of an authentic Communist Party in Sweden.
Stockholm, October 4, 2004
. Last year, we adopted a resolution on the classics of Marxism-Leninism, which marked a rejection of our Trotskyist identity and an initial departure from Trotsky himself. Shortly thereafter, we made contact with the American Marxist-Leninists in Communist Voice; the subsequent correspondence has clarified a lot to us. As compared to the resolution, we have gained qualitatively new insights on the roots of modern revisionism and the similarities between Trotskyism and Stalinism. A number of clues are now visible before us. Therefore we have now arrived at putting an end to FRP's existence -- not in order to give up the struggle for Communism, but in order to carry it forward, uproot all that is wrong, bolshevize our own practice and create adequate forms for it. The aim of this document is to clear the table properly of political deviations from Marxism-Leninism and to account for the lessons drawn.
. Of course, we and our political trajectory should be understood as a product of our time. The victory of modern revisionism already in the 1930's was a tremendous setback for the international workers' movement; it did, to be sure, never succeed in stamping out or breaking the revolutionary tradition entirely, but it did distort it and mix it up with alien ways of thought. To lay bare the historical roots of modern revisionism and reconstruct scientific socialism and the collective memory of the proletariat, is a difficult and still not completed task. We are probably not the last ones to go astray into the political wilderness of Trotskyism. By elucidating how that happened and why we now turn back, we might, hopefully, contribute somewhat to lighten the path.
. In the course of the writing process, this document has been considerably extended. From
having at first been intended just as an evaluation of the FRP experience itself and with
digressions just in by-passing, to specify certain problems raised as the account goes on, like the
theories on "the Russian question", it has turned out to be necessary to dwell somewhat more on
such matters for the discussion to be comprehensible at all, and not a fragmentary, incoherent
enumeration of assertions. Yet, since limitations, after all, have to be made, we have been
compelled to be very short on some points and limit ourselves to tell where we stand.
. Here in Sweden, one could see how the solidarity movements followed suit, turning away from previous anti-imperialist stands and activism oriented towards the broad masses, in favor of more of lobbyism and dismantling of grass-root work. (At a completely different level, one could, at the same time, witness how social-democracy quietly buried all talk of "the third step" to "economic democracy", and how almost the entire corps of economists made a sudden turn away from their advocacy of Keynesian solutions and their cautious critique of monetarism, replacing it all with the eager adoption of the gospel of "the market" and "de-regulation".)
. In brief: forces which, in one way or another, had been or tried to be or claimed to be revolutionary, now began to show a more and more overtly reformist face, while the reformists, in turn, began to show a more and more overtly bourgeois face. These displacements in the political landscape put Marxist-Leninists before a number of new questions -- and this meant, amongst other things, to bring up matters which had been taken for granted and have another look at them. How were things, actually, with the Stalin period, with the history of the Comintern (and with the tradition from the subsequent Cominform)? Was it really sufficient to condemn the theses of the 20th CPSU Congress in 1956 -- that "the peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism" was now possible; that social-democracy was a progressive force; that imperialism was no longer war-mongering by its nature; that the armed struggles of the oppressed nations had become superfluous and dangerous; that Titoism should be seen as just another brand of communist policy; and so on and so forth? Hadn't similar views and stands (except the one on Titoism) been promoted for a long time already, both from Moscow and by numerous communist parties all over the world? This had to be examined, in order to make sure standing on a solid ground and not getting pulled away by the avalanche rightwards.
. Such was the road-fork appearing before a small number of young Swedish communist workers a little more than twenty years ago. Maybe the above description *looks like* something exclusively theoretical, but in fact it wasn't. Behind it all was, of course, the crisis of capitalism and its repercussions on the political level in the form of changing conditions for the various class forces' relation to one another -- and how that affected the international Marxist-Leninist movement.
. We were neither alone nor first in reacting the way we did. When the Marxist-Leninist Party,
USA had been founded (in 1980), it had explicitly been done without and against
social-chauvinists -- something which arose the wrath of some others as an impermissible
ideological struggle. In spite of this, the MLP,USA continued to demarcate itself from
opportunism in the Marxist-Leninist movement and advocated open discussion as the only
reasonable way to resolve the vexed questions arising. Their 2nd party Congress in 1983 had
highlighted a vast number of principled stands on the various fields of class struggle and called
for a return to the classics of Marxism-Leninism. In the next few years, this was followed by an
extensive publication of materials reviewing the history of the communist movement.
Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, its Marxist-Leninist Party made an important practical contribution
through its staunch upholding of the independent struggle of workers and peasants in opposition
to the Sandinista government instead of acting in the spirit of the popular front; that provided a
living illustration of how the differences stood. In Iran, the Communist Party, founded in 1983
(and its organization in Kurdistan, Komala) went straight against the current by refusing to either
collaborate with the Islamic regime or getting bogged down in populist strategies. In Portugal in
the mid-1980's, a communist organization was founded, which started publication of the journal
Politica Operaria. Somewhat later, a proletarian revolutionary organization arose in the
Philippines. Still other examples could be added. So, models and guiding lights were not lacking.
For a time, we oriented ourselves in a good direction, before we got off the track and ended up in
. What, then, about the Swedish KPS? It was the last, in a relative sense the most advanced, of the party-building attempts of the Marxist-Leninist movement in our country. The critique of Maoism, which had begun to appear about 1973, had grown and led to a number of groups and individuals after 1977-78 characterizing Maoism as one more brand of modern revisionism. This corresponded to international developments and was, undoubtedly, a big step forward. But although the Maoist influence was now gone, the Stalinist influence remained! Despite a certain hesitation in parts of the KPS -- there was an informal discussion on the obvious similarities between the Maoist "three worlds" theory and CI's popular-front line -- the KPS was unable to do as the MLP or the Nicaraguan MAP-ML, but stopped half-way. Therefore, the final judgment on the KPS must be that although it -- along with the previous process of demarcation and formation -- constituted a part of the experience in the struggle for the re-creation of a Marxist-Leninist party in our country, we can regard it as no more than an attempt only.
. At the time of its founding in 1982, the KPS had, as has subsequently turned out, an
over-optimistic perspective of development with too high speed. A rapid deepening of the crisis
was expected, with a repetition of the great depression of the 1930's -- and a corresponding,
quickly upcoming mass radicalization before which reformism would step by step expose itself,
revisionists of all hues prove themselves unable to maneuver to catch up with the situation, etc.
The too-short time-perspective caused the party-building to be strongly forced ahead, which
amongst not a few comrades resulted in getting burned out and disillusioned as the expectations
did not materialize. At the same time, the cadre education was poor.
. Against this background, it is an open question whether it really was right to leave the KPS as early. Could the would-be leading CLN/MLLS comrade possibly have acted differently, thus evading his expulsion in 1983? Weren't there, in the background, a certain political weariness (already then!) and gaps in the political judgment? Would comrades have been in a better shape if remaining in the party -- or would that have led to an even faster demoralization? Had the situation been better if we could have acted as a third, authentically Marxist-Leninist alternative in the strife which took place within KPS in 1988-89?
. Judging on the basis of the report by the Central Committee minority to the 3rd Congress of the
KPS in 1989 -- the only document published in which the differences are presented -- and taking
a stand on each question separately, the minority was right on class consciousness, on the
capitalist crisis, on Swedish arms export and on immigrant's right to vote in general elections,
while the majority was right on the aim and direction of the central organ, and may have been at
least a bit less wrong on Nicaragua. However, to sort things in such a way becomes meaningless,
considering the brazen liquidationism of the minority and the hardened, sterile Stalinism of the
majority. Could we, had we been present, have won over the party on our side and isolated both
these wings by showing that there is a different and more consistent way of waging the struggle
against liquidationism than the Stalinists were able to do -- or was it already too late? These are
questions which we have to ask ourselves honestly and seriously. To the picture belongs also the
fact that the majority constellation just some four years later itself turned liquidationist; this time
the agenda was merger with the former SKA to form a newspaper-association so as to keep up
the SKA paper, now with the name Nya Arbetartidningen [New Workers' Paper]. As far as we
know, demoralization was by then so wide-spread, that there was no resistance against the party
. However, as long as we thought the theory of the revisionist countries being "workers' states" was an unavoidable derivation of the logic of Trotskyism, that constituted an insurmountable barrier, because it was impossible to swallow such an idea. This barrier helped the CLN to see the connection between, on the one hand, that legal-formalist reduction of relations of production to property relations, and, on the other hand, those aspects of Trotskyist politics and strategy, e.g. the Transitional Program, which we couldn't accept. Then, when the barrier fell as Tony Cliff's theory of Russian state capitalism became known in the CLN in Summer, 1988 -- i.e. it turned out that one doesn't have to subscribe to the "workers' state" view to be a Trotskyist -- the rejection of other aspects of Trotskyism was soon undermined (regardless of the fact that Cliffites don't utilize transitional demands). This led to "the Russian question" occupying a much more central place in CLN's ideological set-up than before: it was, as it were, to serve as the very dividing line between Marxism and revisionism. Another way of expressing this is that it was used as a kind of political quality guarantee: if one just was right on that question, one could adopt any kind of Trotskyist policy without becoming a revisionist!
. The reorganization of CLN into the Marxist-Leninist League (MLF, its English initials MLLS) in 1989 changed little: first, it was done, in all but the name, on an ideological basis strongly influenced by the IS Tendency; second, this attempt to organisational straightening-up was misleading in the sense that it rather tended to inject a false optimism and slur over how badly the activity actually was performed.
. Already about the time of the reorganization into the MLLS, the organisation affiliated to the by-the-Morenoite-IG [a "left" split from the SF]-controlled "intermediate cogwheel" United Socialists. To participate in a front organisation isn't necessarily wrong in itself, and it had a certain base among a section of militant mineworkers. However, instead of leaving when the IG, following the conference, in actual fact turned the United Socialists into a propaganda organization of theirs, MLLS stayed, limiting itself to making some reservations, and then cooperated in the paper Nybyggaren, believing it might be used to reach out better. In reality, though, the effect was that the MLLS acted -- and appeared -- as a tail of these Morenoites.
. Trotskyism appeared to be the logical conclusion of anti-revisionism precisely because it could show "shortcuts", provide simple answers to complicated questions and -- then, in the situation that came up with the founding of the Workers' List -- give what seemed to be an entirely new, dynamic perspective for unity with the working-class movement. This was to play the decisive role in the process that led to the dissolution of the MLLS in July, 1990. (The Cliffites, on the other hand, did not encourage the MLLS to work either in the FS [Forenade Socialister, i.e. the United Socialists, the front organization set up by a split to the left from SF in 1988] or in the Workers' List. But influence from that quarter could provide no counter-weight, because their alternative was to stand on the sidelines and orient to university campuses and go for what there is seen as politically correct.)
. This resulted in an actual split in the MLLS, as a minority crystallized itself, consisting, in the main, of ourselves. To be sure, our world-view was also shaken considerably by the appearance of the Workers' List, as it --plus the massive protests against the attempt by the social-democratic government to issue a ban on strikes, protests which forced the notorious finance minister Kjell-Olof Feldt and his advisor Klas Eklund to resign, while an opinion poll according to which 23% of the electorate expressed its readiness to vote for the Workers' List -- for a moment made things look as if the upsurge in mass struggles, which shortly before had taken place in East Europe, would spread here, too, and under different banners: the rank-and-file of the labor movement in rebellion against class collaboration. We got disoriented! At the same time, we could see how, if not the Cliffites, then at least the IG, made an utterly professional impression with an active, intervening attitude, related to workers' struggles.
. It seemed as if our hitherto held concepts of party-building had been turned obsolete by the very objective train of developments, while, on the contrary, that of the IG confirmed -- and that we were running a serious risk of getting hopelessly left behind it all. There we sat, with a more and more passive and demoralized group, a political line which had mainly been directed towards peripheral movements in the middle strata, a journal which looked most of all like an internal bulletin, etc. -- and we could see how a broad rallying-point against austerity-politics were growing forth out of the deep ranks of the working class, and with a seeming possibility for us to intervene and affect the course of events. This was, of course, nothing but a big mirage; in reality it was a "solution" from the diametrically wrong angle to the above-mentioned contradiction between anti-revisionist ambitions and amateuristic regression. The outcome was that the minority in the MLLS did not defend the organisation against dissolution, but concurred with it.
. And yet, the Marxist-Leninist alternative was there, put forward in the document "Tasks of
Workers' Communism During the Collapse of Revisionism -- A Platform of Struggle for the
Consideration of Fighters Against Revisionism, Revolutionary Activists and Class-Conscious
Workers Around the World", published as editorial in the January 1, 1990 issue of the organ of
MLP,USA, The Workers' Advocate. It addressed a number of focal issues for building an
international Marxist-Leninist movement in the new situation. To be sure, it was reprinted in
Swedish translation in Rod Gryning a short while later, but with a rather dismissing comment by
the staff, and there was no discussion in the MLLS about it. In hindsight, it must be stated that
the platform was correct in the main and that the objections which could be raised about it are a
matter of details.
. Of course, in a contradiction one must take hold of the side which, from our point of view, is the positive one: in this case, the relative independence of the labor bureaucracy. But exactly what do we want and how should it be achieved? Here we allowed possibilistic reflexes replace a carefully elaborated and well-balanced analysis. With a very formal way of reasoning, one may hold that if economic struggles become politicized, that is a step forward *in itself. * This is a very common view among Trotskyists and might be given a "left" tinge in polemics by pretending that the alternative is "economism", as if an economist approach could not be at a political level, in the shape of reformism. Then there is the argument that "the very essence of reformism is class collaboration" and therefore a political party which strongly opposes the bosses can by definition not be reformist! But this is sheer sophistry: unless overall class struggle is at a very advanced level and the polarization in society very sharp, it seems likely that transforming economic struggles into political projects in broad scale doesn't mean that they begin to pose the crucial questions of power, etc. , but rather that they loose their open-ended character, becoming locked up in run-of-the-mill politicking and thus even become unable to reach more advanced stages.
. The well-considered criticisms extended to MLLS in the letter from a comrade in the Central Committee of the MLP,USA, which has been attached to this evaluation as a supplement, was not only not heeded by the chairman of MLLS, but not by us others, either. We listened just as little as we had listened to earlier criticism from the American comrades concerning the orientation towards the IS Tendency, or to the above-mentioned platform on the tasks of workers' communism.
. MLLS's notion was *not* that some kind of "inherent dynamic" could make such a party revolutionary, but rather that the revolutionary party can be built as an entryist cadre organisation inside the Workers' List since "the program is the essence of a party". And that "program" consisted, in turn, of a number of transitional demands which, moreover, were "mediated forth" to social-democratic consciousness in such a way that they looked like reformist slogans of a "more radical" kind. At the 1st Congress of the Workers' List, MLLS comrades took part in the opposition which the just dissolved United Socialists waged against the reformist majority line. Yet, a short time after the dissolution of MLLS, the IG smashed the "opinion for socialist renewal of the Workers' List" by a factional coup. We then remained in the Workers' List as a separate entryist group for another year. At the 2nd Congress, in early 1991, we backed the Wiklundites [a trend of rank-and-file workers who had emanated from the social-democratic party and been activists in the previous Dala movement], considering them "honest workers" to be defended against the rightist wing of the party. Once again we failed to challenge social-democratic consciousness; this time there wasn't even any particular opposition platform, and we acted mainly as critics of the authoritarian, bureaucratic regime which had established itself in the national leadership and in the Stockholm branch. In the typical Trotskyist manner, we saw electoralist tactics as the panacea to challenge and expose prevalent illusions. The basis for this lies in the imagination that everything elevated onto a political level must, by definition, be more advanced -- and so, the question is never asked of whether this, in the given conditions, really is what is needed to draw class-conscious workers into the kind of active struggle that can provide educating and conscious-raising experience.
. When we brought our work inside the Workers' List to an end in 1991, we established that while the formation of a new workers' party in one situation may reflect a break-up or, at least, an embryonic break-up, in another situation it may simply be a matter of a regroupment of certain lower-level bureaucrats, "left" forces etc. to create their own electoralist platform, making a diverting maneuver in anticipation of possible outbursts of discontent from below, etc. However, we didn't go further than this; to the extent that our summary was self-critical, that self-criticism was limited to that we ought to have resigned at an earlier stage and have kept a more pronounced distance to the Wiklundites. How matters really had stood at the time of the birth of the Workers' List -- that vexed question was swept under the rug. In practice, this meant that we had drawn no essential lessons -- although we, to be sure, from then on were to appear more critical before the working class on the limitation of various mobilizations (like in connection with the miners' protests in early 1993).
. The MLLS should never have issued calls for building the Workers' List -- certainly not as a "new socialist party of social-democratic workers", but not as a "revolutionary" party either. The only correct position would have been to state straight-forwardly that a party of the Workers' List type can not be the solution to the problems of class struggle. It's possible that we, until the 1st Congress (May, 1990) -- i.e. while double affiliation still was allowed -- should have entered, but then with the main aim at pursuing concrete agitation on all questions under discussion.
. It's indeed a big irony that we -- who had joined the critique against Albania several years
before, who never had anything to do with the East bloc and who had by no means shared the
opportunist adaptation towards social-democracy which was so common in vast parts of the
"left" -- finally walked away from Marxism-Leninism in 1990, at a time when the Stalinist
regimes in the East collapsed and the traditional type of reformist class-collaboration approached
a dead end. It is not strange that much of the "left", in spite of its rhetoric, had been acting under
the umbrella provided by a stable regime of class collaboration, a "wage cake" to cut up and
distribute, a strong public sector, etc. , and thus reacts to the brutal crisis of capitalism with
bewilderment, regressive spine-reflexes and a narrowing of their perspectives. Why, their
world-view and much of their political raison d'etre was severely shaken. But *we* ought to have
emerged strengthened and tempered with the new situation. The fact that we didn't, is an utterly
serious -- and embarrassing -- circumstance. It reveals that we had never properly understood
Marxism-Leninism and not been rooted solidly enough in the proletarian class stand.
. This -- plus the strange conception which the IS calls "permanent arms economy" in the Western countries after 1945 ("imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism but one") -- these things could we, who had no liquidationist intentions, not really swallow. Moreover, it turned out that Cliff's theory of state capitalism actually is a "third system" theory, since, according to it, the economy in countries of Stalinist type works in a capitalist manner due to an *external* factor -- the arms race. This is a very crude revisionism indeed, since what it says is essentially that use-value can be equal to, and even substitute for, exchange-value. That has consequences for class analysis, too: the view of what is surplus value is relativized and the middle strata are conceived of as a part of the proletariat. That can also lead to Keynesian illusions that it's possible to cure the crises of capitalism by increasing consumption and spend more on "socially useful" things.
. As the connections between the revisionism in Cliff's theory on Stalinism and the other revisionism and opportunism of the IS Tendency became clear to us, it appeared as a confirmation that "the Russian question" is the key. (In the case of Daum's theory, to which we turned instead, the connection between it and the general faults of the LRP was less visible. That was, of course, due to the fact that his theory of "statified capitalism" lacked the relative coherence of Cliff's theory, instead pointing in several different directions simultaneously -- but we didn't realize that until later. Our center of gravity thus remained at "the Russian question".)
. The way in which the IS Tendency related to CLN/MLLS was characterized by an ambivalent
mixture of rather brusque recruiting attempts ("drop your old ideological ballast now and come
join us") and suspicion. They were suspicious since they couldn't grasp how leftist critique
against Hoxhaism could develop in an anti-Stalinist, and later on Trotskyist, direction. As they
had this process outlined -- how at the beginning similarities between the "three worlds" theory
and CI's popular-front line had been observed and the victory of Soviet revisionism had been
looked for backwards from 1956 on, until it had led to critique of the concept of "socialism in
one country", etc. -- they listened skeptically; it obviously didn't fit into their mind-map of the
political landscape. It was much easier for them to imagine that critique of Stalin, Mao and
Hoxha for not pursuing revolutionary politics, should lead to some kind of "ultra-Stalinism",
which, in turn, should be akin to the "third period" driven to the extreme -- and if, contrary to all
expectations, this path leads to a break with Stalinism, it should rather usher in Bordigism or
something similar. This is interesting, as it shows that the Cliffites actually, when things boil
down to concrete estimations, don't conceive of themselves as standing to the left of Stalinism --
regardless of their views that Stalin betrayed the revolution, re-established capitalism, etc. This
attitude is, as far as we have seen, not uncommon at all in the Trotskyist milieu. There is usually
more identification as critics of Stalinism as something extreme, from a liberal, anti-dogmatic,
anti-sectarian, etc. angle, than as uncompromisingly revolutionary anti-revisionists.
. The CLN had, on the other hand, almost nothing to say at all on "the Russian question" -- before Cliff's theory a short time later was abruptly adopted. As has already been mentioned, that was not the *reason* behind the Trotskyist turn, but simply the decisive factor for that turn to be possible.
. A non-Trotskyist attempt to formulate a new theory of state capitalism in the Soviet Union was
made in the 1980's in the Communist Party of Iran. A special bulletin was, for several years,
issued as supplement to the theoretical organ of the party, containing discussions which, to some
extent, were published in English translation in Bolshevik Message, organ of the Committee
Abroad of the CPI. The approach differed in a number of essential respects from that of the
American and Portuguese Marxist-Leninists, first and foremost by the emphasis on wage labor
and on the industrialization campaign from 1928 onwards being the expression of the
replacement of the socialist perspective by that of the Russian bourgeoisie. Lenin was held to
have lacked a clear understanding of how the social transformation should be carried over into
the economic field, and it was considered erroneous to hold that there is a more or less prolonged
transitional period between the revolutionary takeover and socialism. Except for a comrade who
long before, on his own, had reached the conclusion that commodity production must be
abolished as soon as possible after the working class has seized power, to be replaced by a
money-less system of distribution with equal provision for all, no-one in CLN/MLLS was
attracted to the ideas of the Iranian comrades.
. In other writings, Cliff et. al. have brought up problems in the early years after 1917, but then referring to the disorganization of the working class by the Civil War and the need for the party to "substitute" for it, and to the failure of the revolution to spread to the Western countries: in short, pure explanations of cause, and very superficial ones at that. The content is that had things been different, then the problems wouldn't have arisen and there would have been no fertile ground for Stalinism; now that things unfortunately were as they were, the outcome was as it was. With such a determinist view, there is little wonder that Cliff held the counterrevolution to have been carried through as early as with the launching of the First Five-Year Plan, i.e. in 1928. With his conception of reality, there is simply no place for anything else -- that the process might have been more stretched-out and with variations in relations-of-strength, maybe temporary setbacks, etc. The explanation is instead very simple: the bureaucracy takes possession of all essential means of production and thereby becomes a ruling class. So, Cliff's theory is far from that "sophisticated" as it seems to be, but is actually utter primitive, and has, basically, rather the character of a strongly emotional indictment against Stalinism.
. After CLN's adoption of Cliff's theory, The Workers' Advocate, published several articles criticizing it, which was replied to with pseudo-dialectical, but in fact square-headedly formalist arguments: that MLP's detailed studies were empiricist, did not see the forest but only the trees, had too "sliding" a view of the turn from initiated socialist construction to state capitalism, and that Cliff's theory is correct since it points out a clear qualitative leap from workers' state to state capitalism. As the industrialization and collectivization campaign of the First Five-Year Plan dealt with the base of society while changes later on took place in the superstructure, the date of the counterrevolution set by Cliff must be right, it was stated, given the fact that transitions from one social system to another is a matter of relations of production, i.e. the base, not the superstructure. This is a very poor "Marxism" indeed -- not a scientific discussion. It reveals that CLN/MLLS hadn't really understood the highly complicated questions.
. Actually, the counterrevolution *couldn't* be *but* "sliding", as the proletarian conquest of
power and the seizure of bourgeois property by the workers' state merely is the starting point in
creating a transitional economy. There may be more or less far-reaching efforts to establish such
an economy -- efforts which come to nothing unless there is knowledge of how to do it or due to
unclarity about the goal (see the discussion of class consciousness further ahead in this
document!) or because other factors turn out to be too powerful. Moreover, this means that the
subjective level -- phenomena in the superstructure -- may be decisive. Crucial here is that the
Party and the masses are guided by a correct Marxist-Leninist line and not by a revisionist,
opportunist line which leads to the restoration of pre-revolutionary conditions in new forms.
. Within the Trotskyist tradition, theories of state capitalism and of "third system" have, for the most part, attracted the same kind of people: those with marked inclinations towards viewing Stalinism as essentially a matter of lacking democracy. If, within the camp of "workers' state-ists", Mandelism represents a step in such a direction as compared to the currents originating in the International Committee of 1953 (just compare the polemics of the late 1970's between Nahuel Moreno and Ernest Mandel!), currents like Shachtmanism and Cliffism are situated still further away in the same direction. To the extent that they seek to constitute some kind of alternative to "orthodox Trotskyist" schematism, they represent a critique of it from the right. It's no accident that the IS Tendency often feels itself standing closer to the United Secretariat than to the various offsprings of the IC tradition. Walter Daum's theory of "statified capitalism" represents an attempt to reach beyond that "democratic" point of view. Daum is certainly standing a good distance to the left of Cliff and doesn't take the very absence of democracy under Stalinism as his point of departure, but the relations of production *as he conceives of them,* whereby he focuses on the law of value.
. The very first indications that Daum's theory is revisionist were noted by us in mid-1990's (in
part after Bo Almunger had polemically called our attention to them). While state capitalism in
Cliff's theory is based on use value, Daum's "statified capitalism" is based on fictitious capital. At
a first glance, this may seem more "classical Marxist", but in fact he, just like Cliff, disconnects
value and use value, albeit from the opposite direction: while Cliff has use value substitute for
exchange value, replacing it, with Daum exchange value floats freely in the air instead of
standing on the use-value ground. In his book The Life & Death of Stalinism, Daum revises the
law of the falling tendency of the profit rate: he connects it to fictitious capital -- despite his own
acknowledgment that Marx described this law as dependent exclusively on the actual, material
value of capital. Then Daum goes one step further by claiming that the rate of profit is sacrificed
to save fictitious value! But since use values after all cannot be dispensed with, he explains that
Soviet imperialism was a matter of conquering use values -- that is, not of exploitation. Here he
has got back to Cliff (albeit without the arms race as motive force). In one sense, though, this is
not inconsistent at all: why, he speaks with a muddled voice about exploitation elsewhere, too, as
the question arises where all that fictitious capital actually comes from! In sum, what shines
through is Daum's basic idealism. We recognized it from other spheres, in which we had fought
with the LRP (we'll return to this in sections ahead).
. The understanding of "statified capitalism" as an utterly weak link in the capitalist world system, a "deformed" kind of capitalism which cannot remain intact in the long run but has to evolve towards more "usual" forms, in which there is more space for competition, social gains can be more easily dismantled, etc. -- that we retained (and still think is the strongest point in Daum's theory).
. We asked ourselves: how would Trotsky, considering his methodological points of departure, have reasoned, if he had formulated a state-capitalism theory? As to how the counterrevolution took place, we thought it makes sense to proceed from Trotsky's strong (and, as we have subsequently understood, reductionist) emphasis on "the crisis of revolutionary leadership": the character of the leadership determines the character of the whole. In his writings on the history of the Russian revolution, Trotsky had described the soviets in the July days of 1917 as counterrevolutionary, since their leadership had jumped on the provisional government's bandwagon to hunt down Bolsheviks. Could it then be possible that what Trotsky in 1933 in retrospect referred to as the consolidation of the bureaucratic regime about the mid-1920's, was not merely a political, but the social, counterrevolution?
. But such an "analysis" would be utterly poor -- and, moreover, conspicuously reminiscent of the most sterile Maoist descriptions from the 1960's of how "socialism" in the Soviet Union had been "overthrown" by a "coup". At this point, we turned to Amadeo Bordiga. Proceeding from his critique of democracy, he had mainly the same view of the leadership question as Trotsky, but differed from him by saying that the workers' conquest of power doesn't abolish capitalism, but merely is the precondition for the abolishment of capitalism; what happens by the conquest of power is the establishment of "state capitalism under the dictatorship of the proletariat". However, before long we gave the whole project up, since the construction was so obviously senseless. One cannot in such a way detect the motive forces of Soviet capitalism -- it just reveals even more clearly how sweeping, mechanical and formal-logical Trotskyism is.
. In getting acquainted with Bordigism, we could see that it shared the methodological errors of Trotskyism. Moreover, Bordiga's own state-capitalism theory is, if possible, still more defeatist than Trotsky's opposition to "socialism in one country", because Bordiga held that things could hardly have happened differently from what was the case -- that Stalinist state capitalism was the most progressive one could possibly achieve in that situation.
. Here it should be added that the conception of the transitional period between capitalism and
socialism as *only* consisting in the former's replacement with the latter, is too simple. However
much we might tend towards such a view in reacting against Trotsky's claim that capitalism is
abolished with the nationalization of the economy, it should be clear that such a thorough
transformation of society requires mechanisms of its own to succeed. Otherwise, i.e. if it starts
with a general "state capitalism under the dictatorship of the proletariat" and then has it replaced,
by degree, by socialist relations of production, the entire transition is easily reduced into
something purely administrative -- not much different from the commonplace revisionist version,
with the planned sector extending, overwhelming small production, foreign concessions, etc.
Instead, the precondition of authentic planned economy -- of socialism -- is that the toiling
masses are drawn into managing the economy at all levels and exercise control over it. We can
only establish that in questions of the transitional period, much remains for us to learn.
. 1. Daum is inconsistent in his view of the significance of competition; he provides a number of examples of competition, of anarchy in Soviet production, but at the same time he promotes a concept of "national capital", in which the emphasis is on the unified interests of the ruling class; this concept is related to Cliff's idea of "the economy as one single enterprise". Sy Landy even goes as far as to portray the Gorbachevite market reforms as a program of centralization!
. 2. Daum hasn't properly understood the fundamental contradiction in capitalism, i.e. between the social character of the process of production and the private appropriation of the result of production. Had there in the Soviet Union under Stalinism really been a social control of production, as the "national capital" view suggests, then it wouldn't be capitalism -- and that would make Marxism obsolete, since it would essentially mean that exploitation and oppression remain anyway. In fact, the "decentralization" and "devolution" to which Daum points are no mere forms-of-appearance which might be highlighted to illustrate that there is capitalism -- no, these are unavoidable, elementary traits of the capitalist mode of production. As well, Daum regards state ownership as a "proletarian form of property" in itself, which he has got from Trotsky (who had no state-capitalism theory).
. 3. Daum relates in an ambivalent manner to the question of the laws-of-motion of capital under the workers' state: on the one hand, these are to be counteracted and superseded; while, on the other hand, he says that one of the tasks of the workers' state is to accumulate capital. Similarly, Daum vacillates on the question of whether market mechanisms are to be utilized or not. He puts forward centralization in itself as a decisive criterion for the transition from capitalism to socialism, but since the chief trait of a transitional economy is the contradiction between the political rule of the working class and its inability to run the economy, it is workers' control that constitutes the central criterion of the transition to socialism. The last-mentioned was not Trotsky's view either, so what Daum tries to do is to stick to Trotsky in spite of the fact that it erases the distinctions between transitional society and state capitalism.
. 4. Daum applies fixed categories taken over from quite different contexts without making concrete investigations -- e.g. "capital" or "the falling rate of profit" are applied to Soviet conditions without any study of how these work there. Daum makes his assumptions first, a priori, and then goes on to interpret things on that basis. The same kind of methodological problem appears also in the more overall analyses, like when the character of the First Five-Year Plan is judged according to what conclusion is needed to fit into the view of our epoch.
. 5. Not even Daum's attempt to base himself on Trotsky holds. Trotsky's own methodology actually is incompatible with any form of state-capitalism theory. Those who hold that the Soviet Union still after the 1930's remained a "workers' state" of some kind are obviously right if regarded from the angle of Trotsky himself.
. It should be pointed out here that Green's critique still, to our knowledge, has been met with no response on the part of the LRP. To us, on the other hand, Green's critique was decisive in proving to us once and for all that Daum's theory doesn't work.
. Daum's theory is, however, not the only one which contains the kind of methodological
absurdities which are related in #4 above. Almunger has taken a similar stand in order to
motivate why, according to him, it's absolutely necessary to define any country with a Stalinist
regime and a state-dominated economy as a "workers' state": not doing that, he said, is akin to
assert that the international proletariat has suffered crushing defeats and that the bourgeois world
order has been strengthened. So, when facts forced Almunger to back down from the usual type
of Trotskyist workers'-state theory and recognize that Stalinism carried out a restoration of
bourgeois society and led to "revenue-seeking", he still continues to maintain that this was within
the framework of -- "workers' states".
. Most likely, this has to do with LRP's general orientation to "the Trotskyist milieu" -- which even a sketchy look through the material in Proletarian Revolution shows. It is a very marked orientation at regroupment -- not in the sense that they aim to tack together diplomatic blocs with already existing trends as these are, but more in the sense of e.g. the Spartacists: regroupment with off-splits or with trends which have been shaken to their foundations due to internal crisis. Here the offensive on the British WRP might serve as example -- probably also the fact that what was to become the FRP was accepted as co-founders of COFI in 1992 despite that the LRP was well aware of the very differences which just a couple of years later were to make them declare that there was no common political ground.
. In our article in Proletarian Revolution in Fall, 1991 there were a good many opportunist deviations towards social-democracy, but the article was accepted without even the slightest remark from the staff, and the only changes which the staff proposed (and made) in the article was to insert a polemical formulation directed against Morenism! In connection with the founding conference of COFI in New York in February, 1992, one of us wrote a declaration which was directly handed over to the LRP leadership and which explicitly stated our intention to orient towards social-democratic workers; that we counted on the re-appearance of phenomena like the Workers' List and the necessity of intervention in them; that we intended to constantly use transitional demands; even to raise transitional demands for a united Europe under the slogan "For a revolutionary labor alternative to the EEC" since "European integration is unlikely under capitalism" while "many central issues in society are impossible to solve in Sweden alone". In addition, the declaration reiterated our already expressed differences on class analysis. The declaration was right opportunist, but since it, at the same time, expressed support for the LRP in all other matters, it was allowed to pass without any criticism, i.e. it was handled with diplomatic silence and we were welcome as co-founders of COFI.
. LRP's courting of the Kurdish KCM was an exception, because although this group declared "sympathy" towards Trotskyism, this was very vague; what obviously counted in their case was their expression of interest in Daum's theory of "statified capitalism". This made Sy Landy write a tasks & perspectives document in which he wrote that there may well be revolutionary currents on this planet which are not Trotskyist and that agreement may be reached through a number of programmatic points in common. When the Australian COFI section a little afterwards flirted with a group of exiles from the Turkish Dev Yol -- something which, like the approach to the KCM, in a short while came to nothing -- the LRP expressed strong disagreement. To sum up: LRP's "international party-building project" aims at getting a niche for themselves at a future thorough change in "the family of Trotskyism", and their theories are to a great extent tailor-cut for that purpose.
. Therefore, the LRP pays little attention to what's happening outside the "family". One case in
point was when the LRP leadership, in the eve of the MLP's dissolution in 1993, asked us to
write an "open letter" for publication in Proletarian Revolution. We then wrote a summary of
how the MLP positions had developed from the 2nd congress in 1983 onwards, with the
materials on the 7th congress period of the CI and on socialism -- and explained the party crisis
as the outcome of having "failed to draw the logical consequence" and approach Trotskyism. A
wrong analysis, as it has turned out! -- but that was the way we saw things back then. Yet, despite
that this was in accordance with the official LRP view, its leadership reacted very ambivalently
to the assertion that it is possible to reach Trotskyism propelled by inner contradictions between
theory and practice in the M-L movement: they held on to the text for one year before finally
putting it aside, writing an article themselves. It carried the headline "Middle-Class
'Marxist-Leninists' Call It Quits", and was entirely different in tone: besides its many factual
errors, it was nonchalantly mocking and in a sweeping way dismissing, *not even* from an
LRP/COFI point of view managing to catch what MLP actually was. The description boiled
down to a trite story of "Stalinists" getting stuck in more and more trouble until getting lost
completely -- coupled with complacent self-congratulation. In referring to the FRP, the article
more or less reduced the process to us having, at a certain point, read Daum's book The Life &
Death of Stalinism and thereby had some revelation of how matters actually stand.
. We erred, at the start of the convergence, in agreeing to set up jointly with SJD/Fotfolket a
special "committee for the renewal of the workers' movement" as the form in which discussions
were to be pursued. We ought to have drawn some lessons from how they had been maneuvering
with us in connection with the attempt in 1990 to organize a joint tendency within the Workers'
List. Likewise, we ought to have drawn some lessons from their maneuvers towards us in 1991,
when they dangled a joint publication in Swedish of Daum's book as a carrot before us. We
thought their rejection of Morenoism would change the preconditions in a decisive manner, but
as things turned out, that was not the case. Moreover, in all likeliness a COFI affiliation on their
part would only have led to their maneuverism getting promoted onto an international level.
SJD/Fotfolket were, it seems, in dire need of an "umbrella" to work under, as was shown a
couple of years later, when they made some overtures towards Lutte Ouvriere in France.
. Since all class societies rest upon exploitation for a surplus product, which under capitalism
consists of surplus value, that's thus the *kernel* of the analysis. Surplus value, in turn, must be
strictly defined, without mixing in general usefulness to society or functions which indirectly
contribute to surplus value or, for that matter, the numerous other existing kinds of utilization
and economically unequal conditions. Those who directly create surplus value -- i.e. new such,
not merely profit through re-distribution of already created surplus value -- are working in
industry and agriculture as well as with storage and transportation. As the surplus value thus has
been demarcated, the picture can be completed with other categories. In his famous article A
Great Beginning, Lenin enumerated several criteria of class: position in the historically
determined system of social production, relation to the means of production (for the most part
established in law), role in the social organization of labor, way of receiving one's share of social
wealth, and the size of that share.
. Mandel motivated his view of wage labor not only with the "workers' state" theory, but also with the theory of "late capitalism": that socialization of the process of production in modern, highly advanced capitalist society, had evolved to such an extent that the public sector must be included in it as an absolutely necessary component for continuous creation of surplus value. (He seems, however, to have recognized that much of its activity isn't productive in itself). But the Cliffites, too, seize upon the extended definition of the working class as identical with wage-earners in general. In their case, too, the connection to "the Russian question" is decisive in the last instance -- albeit, of course, in an entirely different sense, since they don't put equalization marks between state-owned economy and "workers' state". As has been mentioned, Cliff viewed the U.S.-Soviet arms race as comparable to marketplace competition, thus making the Soviet economy function in a capitalist manner. That means he proceeded from the assumption that production of use value can replace production of exchange value -- which leads to more or less all labor can be regarded as in a certain sense productive. This is to go *still further* than the Mandelite theory of "late capitalism", because the consequence must -- although the Cliffites avoid to recognize it -- be a revision of Marxian labor theory of value. It cannot be altered at such an important point and with the rest of it still remaining intact; the end result is that the while theory of exploitation, the kernel of Marxist political economy, is rendered meaningless.
. In the LRP, Harry Braverman's book Labor and Monopoly Capital was seized upon to prove the
existence of "the new working class" -- but while Braverman moved at a mere sociological level
in his discussion of how formerly more established "middle-class professions" had been degraded
and turned out more like any kind of jobs, LRP's ideas of "the new working class" rested on an
idealist foundation: they proceeded from examples of militancy amongst salaried employees in
the middle strata and counterposed that to an alleged growth of the labor aristocracy with its
corrupting influence on industrial workers. Sy Landy even stated that the increased social
mobility of the prolonged post-war boom had enabled so many intellectual workers to raise
above their background, that there weren't many left in factories, plants and mines who are
receptive to socialist propaganda! Then the LRP take History and Class-Consciousness by
Lukacs to de-connect the very basis of class struggle from its relation to the creation of surplus
value -- and connect Lukacs to Luxemburg's ideas on the inherent dynamics in class struggle.
The category of class "in itself" vanishes and only class "for itself" remains; the conclusion is
that class consciousness is like a spirit of anger and militancy -- a spirit floating freely and which
can take possession of anyone who earn his/her living from wage or salary and doesn't own any
means of production. The masses in broad scale are then to be drawn in by means of a general
strike. The working class in the common sense is more or less written off as a motive force. The
whole thing becomes even worse with the bribery theories which are at bottom in the view of the
industrial proletariat. At the Conference in 1995 when COFI was split, especially one of the more
articulate in the LRP, Matthew Richardson, declared openly that "the Swedish working class is
the most aristocratic in the whole world" and that "when Saab workers demand higher pay, the
capitalists can grant it to them because they exploit workers in Colombia". In the article on the
Conference in Proletarian Revolution, this shone through in the comment that if one reduces the
working class to the industrial proletariat, it means "making the labor aristocracy a substantial
. In fact, we had tried to solve the problem of the reserves of the working class by putting forward a theory of "the permanent break-up", which views workers of especially oppressed categories (women, immigrants in Sweden, Blacks in the U.S., etc.) as having a key position, linking together the proletariat in strict sense with the rest of the masses. We had -- in an admittedly unclear and insufficiently thought-over manner -- attempted to use the law of uneven and combined development to draw up the possibility that the break-up may well begin outside the ranks of industrial workers, at various focal points, then through these links be carried into the huge, concentrated industrial collectives. Of course, the author of the Proletarian Revolution article preferred to forget about this, since it would complicate the picture of us too much.
. As far as Daum himself was concerned, both before and at the 1995 COFI Conference he utilized a range of arguments from widely different angles. For a brief moment, he even found out a third category of labor besides productive and unproductive labor: reproductive labor! Instead of first investigating things and then see what the conclusions are, Daum proceeded the other way round: he started with deciding which the conclusions were to be, and then selected the arguments to get there. Daum himself admitted using such a method, as he stated that "if you define the working class as not a majority of the population, then the socialist revolution would be a minority business"! So, instead of taking a serious discussion of how to handle strategical problems which may come up after a class analysis of society has been made, one could as well, according to Daum, by-pass these problems by defining them away with a neat pen-stroke: just stretch concepts a little, "making" the working class bigger, and the matter is solved. So thinks a pure idealist. That there is a firm, material reality out there, outside the conference room, which is not the least affected by what words Daum puts on it -- that didn't cross his mind.
. Compare with how Daum handles the First Five-Year Plan, in the section on "the Russian
question"! Moreover, this kind of method is by no means unique to Daum. The Cliffites as well
take as point of departure what is desirable: in his book The Changing Working Class, Alex
Callinicos argues that the extensive definition of the working class makes it remain big as the
industrial proletariat shrinks.
. To say "only those who produce surplus value" is, to be sure, to get down to the level of essence, but then not to carry the abstraction process through to the end, making the journey back to the concrete again. Lenin, to the contrary, did in the quoted article precisely that, as his summary, that one class appropriates the fruit of the others' labor due to different positions in a determined socio-economic formation, is proceeded by the enumeration of several criteria.
. It's not uncommon that Lenin's criteria are dismissed as a mere empirical, incomplete, multi-factor determination -- but a *real* multi-factor determination is what one rather would find with those who weigh together wage labor, unpaid homework, discrimination and other oppressive structures to describe some vague "underclass" encompassing anything from the Florence Nightingale syndrome of teachers and nurses to the lumpenized elements' lack of "social and cultural capital". This view is common mainly in and around the "autonomous" milieu, and has to do with its un-materialist, sociologist and democratic conception of class struggle: not conceiving of it as resulting from exploitation in Marx's economical sense, but rather a kind of general utilization of people, a general powerlessness, and they view it most of all as a matter of extending democracy as far as possible to the point where it is no longer a mere formality (irrespective of whether they use the word "democracy" or not -- that varies) which in the end leads to a kind of radical "left" version of the strategy "the people vs. monopoly capital".
. Lenin's criteria are based on the insight that the essence of a phenomenon doesn't manifest itself in its absolutely clear-cut form even when we have penetrated through the form-of-appearance layers. If workers were only those who create surplus value, then correspondingly, the bourgeoisie would consist only of those who accumulate capital, i.e. the capitalists themselves (and their counterparts in state form). To try to solve this the way we did -- saying that the bourgeoisie is a class "for itself" since it is the ruling class -- isn't correct, as class analysis, as has already been pointed out, is only at the class "in itself" level. Most likely, a concrete analysis based on Lenin's criteria results in service workers being counted as a part of the working class proper, instead of a mere "periphery"; if so, we get a definition roughly corresponding to the affiliation to the main Swedish trade-union center. This was the definition used by KPS, and CLN/MLLS as well, but which we abandoned in 1991, about the same time that we approached the LRP. To a certain extent, we were affected by Almunger's polemical arguments, but in the first place it was a counter-reaction on our part against the Cliffite definition, a counter-reaction which went overboard.
. The big problem with too narrow a definition of the working class is *not* that it automatically lumps all others together into "one single reactionary mass", because that's not so. The problem is rather at two other levels. First, in most imperialist countries there is a certain ongoing "de-industrialization", as production in vast scale is frequently moved away to semi-colonial countries, or at least to countries where exploitation can be pursued more unrestrictedly. At the same time, storage-keeping is cut back, workforces are cut back by changing series of production, etc. To "conjure away" this reality by saying that even though the industrial workers now may be fewer, they have been concentrated in bigger units -- that's not really addressing the question, because often enough it's the other way round: when as much work as possible is outsourced on sub-contractors, the total workforce involved is being split up. Moreover, it's not uncommon for workers to be hired for just a limited period of time. Yet, socialization has indeed been carried further ahead in the sense all technical preconditions for production, yes, for anything to function at all, have become more centralized than ever. Supply of electricity is probably the most obvious example of this. This is the kind of things to which the bourgeois use to refer worriedly in terms of "the vulnerable society" and so on. The point here is that the decreasing number of industrial workers is countered by the increasing strategical weight of a number of service-worker categories. To be satisfied with talking of these as a "periphery" to the proletariat is, thus, becoming all the more untenable.
. Second, too narrow a definition of the working class may -- if it, which then is close at hand,
leads to the conclusion that the middle strata are held to be very extensive and constantly
expanding -- provide a grotesquely distorted picture of where developments in society are
heading. In the light of the above-mentioned "de-industrialization", it may make it seem like
nonsensical ideas of "the post-industrial society" or "knowledge society" are true and that the
carriers of social progress are to be found in the middle strata. So, the kind of accommodation
which easily can, and does, come about under the cloak of a far-extended definition of the
working class, is possible this way, too.
. In FRP's case, the consequence of this was a certain kind of centrism -- a perpetual pendulum-motion between abstract sectarianism and opportunist accommodations, especially towards "left" social-democracy. Combining sectarianism and opportunism is by no means uncommon amongst revisionists, although the peculiar way in which it is done may differ. A typical example is organizational sectarianism in combination with political opportunism. This variant is, however, mainly motivated by the aim of preserving an in some sense "conservative" apparatus, and is therefore somewhat outside the framework of our discussion here. Since revisionists usually are cynical and lack faith in the revolutionary capacity of the working class, they often tail some non-proletarian force, which thus is given the role as a substitute for the working class; or else, they bend knee before spontaneity, in the form of crude workerism.
. With the FRP, fortunately, abstract sectarianism expressed neither an aim to preserve an apparatus, nor petty-bourgeois demagogy. It was an expression of a basically sound, albeit misled, counter-reaction against the common tailism in the "left" and its refusal to say what is. However, since we were stuck in the typical Trotskyist formalism and schematism, we made up stereotypes all the time, which, of course, only could lead to continuous collapses into opportunism; to centrist vacillation; to accommodationism.
. FRP placed itself to the left of the "left" in general, and criticized, correctly, other trends to bend down in the cold winds of the 1990's and retreat -- or rather flee -- into more and more narrow perspectives, characterized not only by welfare-state nostalgia, economism, conspiracy theories (like those of Grassman) that the capitalist crisis was a myth, a myopic focus on the Palme murder, and so on and so forth, but also of feminism, one-issue movements and diverse sub-cultures. We could see how post-modernist thought, which its deconstruction of totality into small pieces began to gain ground in the form of distinctive-character ideas, ethno-centrism, somewhat later with "queer theory" and what have you -- in brief, all kinds of things which from various angles and in differing directions represent the diametrical opposite of the societal universalism without which the proletarian class stand is impossible. We could even show how the vegan movement, which for a while affected numerous youths, by its character represented a radicalism which to an extreme degree had retreated into a "hiding place".
. But -- we did *not* understand that even our counter-reaction against all this constituted another kind of retreat, whatever our subjective intentions. We simply explained the above-mentioned phenomena as expressions of "middle-class radicalism", referring to their social base -- and our receipt, our cure, was the theory of "the centripetal break-up", according to which the masses would get centralized and politicized by pulling inwards to the traditional labor-movement and popular organizations (which then would blow up from below/from within by the pressure). In this way, the proletarian class stand was supposed to be realized. In reality, this meant nothing but tailing the average workers' level of consciousness *as it is. * This was displayed as a sometimes to the absurd driven "mediation" to a presumptive audience of social-democratic workers; a sheer minimalism in our work in mass organizations, etc. The extension of this logic was that our opposition to trade-unionism, to de-centralized, parochial perspectives, was reduced to demanding centralization and politization of trade-union work -- through amalgamations into bigger units (the respective national unions of metalworkers and miners) and through slogans like "workers' government", quasi-electoralist manifestoes like "A workers' declaration of government" etc. Thus, it might be said that we squat under the umbrella of the labor bureaucracy! That we, simultaneously, could counter other Trotskyist organizations with more "orthodox" positions on the dictatorship of the proletariat, class analysis, revolutionary traditions etc. , is hardly an excuse.
. To emphasize centralization and big-scale organizational forms in trade-unions, is implicit also with the LRP. In criticizing trade-unionism, they generally prefer to speak of "rank-and-filism", since they view parochialism as something of a main danger. Thus they had difficulties in criticizing our trade-union line, despite that they had a lot to say about our other deviations.
. Another aspect of the same set of problems concerns the very concept of "the masses"; it is
frequently being used -- like by us, when we spoke of "centripetality" -- as meaning some kind of
general average, "the vast multitude", and so on. This leads unavoidably to opportunism in one
form or another -- which is then blamed on common people. But in contrast to class analysis,
which deals with given, clear-cut categories, "masses" is a relative concept, the scope of which is
conditioned by the situation in the class struggle. Under circumstances when the struggle is
limited in scale and intensity, then even a rather limited number of people, perhaps a few
hundreds in a demonstration, provide a "mass character" if these are people who don't belong to
those involved since already before -- while "the masses" in another context refers to a majority
of all the exploited and oppressed. So, here we again see how important it is to make concrete
analyses of concrete conditions, judge *qualitatively* which forces are in motion, which real
effects one measure or another would have. After all, the very point in pursuing what is usually
referred to as *the mass line,* is not a senseless gathering of huge numbers as if it were an end
in itself, but, to the contrary, to have trust in the progressive potential of the masses and link up
with them, however contradictory or limited, to guide them through the kind of experience which
can help raise their confidence in their collective strength, and through that, their level of
. In fact, historically there has been much variation in how various revolutionary organisations
have handled the question of program. In Russia the Bolsheviks at first used the RSDLP
program, but they didn't alter it immediately after the adoption of the April Theses; to be sure, a
party Congress was held in the Summer of 1917, but it adopted no new program (and didn't even
change the name of the party). The new program was adopted in 1919, while the change of party
name was made in 1918 -- both things, thus, after the conquest of power! Obviously, formulating
the actual lines of action was given highest priority in the continuously changing situation of
1917 -- not the formal codification thereof. Comintern had no program at its founding in 1919,
nor, for that matter, even in 1920-21, when the conditions for sections' membership were
sharpened. Nor did the MLP,USA have any program in the formal sense of the word -- only a
statement at its founding in 1980 and, by its 2nd Congress, a number of very detailed resolutions
which all-sidedly covered all its spheres of activity. On the other hand, there are numerous
examples of organisations with a formally correct program but a wrong practice -- like
self-isolation from the class struggle which, of course, could result only in a kind of capitulation
before treacherous leaderships in a back-hand way, by refusing to intervene, thereby allowing
them free space of action.
. When we affiliated to Trotskyism and were to take a position on Trotsky's transitional program,
we couldn't accept the commonly held view that it replaced both the minimal and maximal
programs. Trotsky's statement that the transitional program replaces the division into minimal
and maximal programs was understood by us as precisely a question of that division, neither
more nor less: since the maximal program is about the goal, it can't be replaced, so the meaning
must be to "mediate the maximal program forth to the level of day-to-day struggle". If so, only
the minimal program is being replaced. At the same time, this spelled a problem for us, as it's a
Trotskyist axiom that there can be only *one* program. We "solved" that by claiming that the
transitional program is just a mediation, is not a program for itself, but merely in form.
. That, in turn, was abandoned in late 1994, as we, in connection with the fight within COFI, reached the conclusion that the "progressive minimal demands" indeed *were* transitional demands in themselves and that it had been formalist and mechanical to believe that the transitional character derives from connection to the workers' government slogan. Still another effect of the COFI split was that we put less emphasis on the until then very frequently used slogan of general strike, as likewise too mechanical. The negative result of this was that we came to attach the same central importance to constantly using transitional demands as many of the more "orthodox" Trotskyist trends do.
. The discussion of writing a strategical action program was begun in June, 1995, i.e. after the COFI split. We laid down the structure which we thought it should have. Despite that we, in principle, took the maximal program to be the point of departure and transitional demands to be "its mediation forth to the level of day-to-day struggles", we in fact never got to discuss socialism and communism, but went straight to discuss the workers' state and how to connect transitional demands to it. During 1996 a number of internal texts were written on subjects like general welfare policy, school policy, energy policy, the banking system, workers' militia, soviets, etc. Before the May 1st of that year, we had adopted three main slogans for the day-to-day struggle -- based on transitional demands of our own construction -- to be used in our immediate agitation and propaganda: "Against unemployment and de-population -- for full employment: enforced investment of speculating billions in socially useful activities!"; "Against lumpenization and dependency on dole: for a general citizen's insurance through the trade-unions!"; and "Against corruption with the means of society -- write off the state debt!". These slogans were then followed up with discussions about strategy in various areas of activity in the immediate perspective -- e.g. in relation to tenant struggles and the anti-racist struggle, plant closures, NATO, etc. , but without leading to any decision since these discussions tended to blend into the discussion of program. In the end, the programmatic discussions evaporated entirely, as we came to realize that we'd better begin at the other end, taking a new look at the Trotskyist method as such.
. The actual reason behind our prolonged veering back and forth was that reality itself
continuously imposed itself upon us: we must have something concrete to tell the working class
to which we, after all, were oriented with paper sales, leaflets, etc. outside plants and mines -- it
doesn't suffice to come with abstract sloganeering over and over again and without precisions.
. This understanding does, however, in turn pose the question of how to use transitional demands at all except in situations of revolutionary crisis. Is it possible to retain that they are to replace minimal demands -- i.e. to "save" that stand from the earlier context? We don't think it would be correct. As materialism teaches us, objective reality exists regardless of how we experience or describe or define it; the difference between struggle for immediate demands and the struggle for socialism is real and cannot be conjured away by formulating programs this way or that. What does elevate the level of struggle for immediate demands is, in the first place, how it develops in terms of fighting spirit, class organization and consciousness. One demand or another isn't *in itself* the factor that raises the level of struggle and which thus can be utilized as measuring-stock; gaining wide support for a transitional demand when there's no corresponding "transitional situation", i.e. no revolutionary situation at which the question of power is prepared, would merely signify that this demand is being understood -- and used! -- *as* a minimal demand. It is then usually assigned a reformist meaning and thus doesn't function in a way that emancipates the workers' ability to act, but will play a diverting role instead.
. Then to limit ourselves to promote the maximal program is not correct, either. Why, Trotskyism plays, as a rule, the role of catching, by means of very radical rhetoric, those who no longer believe in the run-of-the-mill type of "left" reformism -- and to lead them back into the fold of class collaboration through use of the transitional program, calls for a social-democratic vote, "military but not political support" for reactionary regimes in semi-colonial countries, and so on and so forth. What Trotskyists do, doesn't necessarily differ that much from what Stalinists and others do -- what differs is the way in which it's being done. Even describing the situation as more revolutionary than it actually is ("the epoch of general and immediately forthcoming revolution", etc. ) serves that function, as it provides anything with a flamingly red color. *Thus, Trotskyism is, in the final analysis, the absolute "left wing" of reformism.* To condemn only the practice of Trotskyism (and its theoretical construction) but retaining its motivation, would just lead to turning over from right opportunism to a completely meaningless and sterile propagandism.
. Rather, communists should relate to the step-by-step advancement of the class struggle: tasks
can be resolved only as consciousness reaches the level required, and then, in turn, new
experience is being gained upon which Marxist-Leninists can base themselves to work for a
further rise in consciousness. Here, transitional demands, too, have their proper place: as the
most advanced type of immediate demands, designed for the situation when the day-to-day
struggle has reached the point at which it can be turned into a struggle for power. They aim at
directly attacking and dissolving the state power of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie's control
of the means of production.
. Another reason has to do with the problems of the transitional period, i.e. after the revolutionary
conquest of power. Since the working class has the contradictory position of being, at one and the
same time, both a capitalist class and a universal class, its existence is tied to the capitalist mode
of production, while at the same time it carries in its bosom the liberation of all mankind. The
emancipation of the working class is the work of the working class itself, but it is carried through
to the end only with the working class transcending itself as a class. A proletarian class stand
which doesn't see that far, but has the perspective of perpetuating the existence of the working
class, could therefore at a certain point play a reactionary role. The motive force of such a kind of
workerism, is a kind of striving for the direct, immediate and thus de-centralized, sectoral control
of the means of production as opposed to the coordinated mobilizations required to really make
socialist construction the common cause of all workers and toilers and, by the time, transcend
private appropriation instead of merely turning it into a group-wise appropriation.
. The correction which Lenin made on the basis of the 1905 revolutionary experience simply
means that successes achieved in party-building, and the roots it had struck deep in the workers'
ranks, had directly or indirectly led to the rise of a so-to-say self-generating class consciousness.
The difference compared to What Is To Be Done? is that there he had only discussed the
relationship between socialist consciousness and "spontaneity", since these then were the only
alternatives. There are plainly no evidence whatsoever that Lenin withdraw what he had written
there and that he saw the class consciousness observed in 1905 as identical with the socialist
consciousness he had spoken of -- this is all as big a myth as the claim that in 1917 he had
adopted the theory of permanent revolution.
. The difference between the LRP and Paul White -- who emerged straightly out of the Shachtmanite current led by the Socialist Organizer group in Britain -- consisted in they being on the same line, but White going more far than the LRP was ready to do. True, White used transitional demands to a wider extent than the LRP would, but that was of little practical importance since he actually handled these as a kind of more radical minimal demands (or put them forward in an abstract, propagandistic way). With "algebraic" and, by extension, liquidationist slogans like "new fighting leadership", he said things which the LRP merely implied. White showed in practice that the uttermost consequence of the LRP strategy is a kind of trade-unionism anyway: the general-strike concept is in no way a vaccination against that! Why, even syndicalists allow for the general strike a central strategical significance! In White's case, this all led to a party concept which differed little from the Cliffite one (Geoff Boucher called it, correctly, Menshevik): that the party does not elevate class struggle onto a qualitatively higher level, but merely generalizes *existing* militancy and recruits on such a basis.
. Boucher realized that this was wrong (and, willy-nilly, the LRP said they agreed with him). The party recruits militants which are drawn to communism by the intervention of the party in the class struggle. The task of communists is not to act as a "silent motor", hiding behind the united front, but to imbue the working-class movement with party spirit. Reasonably, the consequence of this insight ought to be to distinguish between class consciousness and communist consciousness, but not even Boucher did so. Then, the logic instead became that the crude workerism of White and the LRP was turned inside out, i.e. Luxemburg was replaced by Lukacs as source of inspiration: the radicalism of the "left" and the intelligentsia was re-defined as proletarian class consciousness. Thereby, the class orientation and composition of the revolutionary organisation becomes more or less irrelevant, while the program is emphasized as the absolutely crucial thing. Boucher's focus on the program did, in turn, lead him to find his way to the Workers' Power trend, since it, unlike the COFI, stresses this very much.
. But if class consciousness and communist consciousness aren't one and the same thing -- weren't we wrong then, when we in 1994-95 criticized the LRP for not actually seeing communist consciousness as something whose material basis is the proletariat? No; we were certainly influenced by them not to make any difference between class and communist consciousness, but the problem with the LRP is that their class analysis (identical with that of the Cliffites) and their one-sided orientation to the "left" milieu lead to their eradication of the very same demarcation-line against middle-class radicalism which they themselves always stressed. In our case, the absence of distinction between class and communist consciousness led to a marked tendency to -- as a counter-reaction against the LRP -- getting into opportunism towards social-democracy since it in Sweden has traditionally had and still has a strong base amongst the proletarian core in big industry. Thereby we, too, developed traits of spontaneism, albeit a mirror-image of that of the LRP: the slogans of "workers' government", the idea of "forward-striving minimal demands" -- and the repeated calls for general strike. But precisely our univocal orientation to the working class (without re-definitions!) made us all the time have to wrestle with the questions, to try to get clear about them, finding out what's what, and this led, by the time, to our return to making difference between class and communist consciousness.
. It seems as if the LRP cuts off the connection between vanguard and mass in their thought: they
do not see the vanguard as an organic part of the mass, as its most advanced segment, but rather
as something separate, hanging suspended in the air. Since their class analysis makes a very wide
definition of the working class, "advanced workers" might mean almost anything. The flip side of
that idealist coin is an inability to explain the material basis of what they themselves call
"middle-class Marxism"! Their explanation of what happened to the Fourth International is a
case in point: on the one hand, they say it was isolated from the working class and mainly had to
turn to the intelligentsia; yet on the other hand, they regard this stratum as "white-collar
workers". So, what they put forward they simultaneously take back.
. Our point is entirely different: there is no reformist stage which workers have to pass through in order to get further ahead, and there is no self-evidence that a bourgeois workers' party possesses the same power of attraction as a trade-union or even draws support for the same reason. Trade-unions -- however reactionary -- are, after all, elementary organisations of defence against the employers; things are not that simple with a reformist party. Sometimes the idea of "union-political concurrence" may express something progressive, a rudimentary insight that trade-unionism does not suffice -- but often enough it can be just a run-of-the-mill class-collaborationist spine-reflex without any dynamics whatsoever. Therefore, one must not think schematically, as Trotskyists usually do: that a certain thing has one given meaning regardless of context. We can see how, in many instances, the base-level organisations of the labor movement are becoming "de-populated" and that those running for office no longer are the best even among the reformist workers; the best elements are often keeping in the background, sceptically. To dismiss that as signs of a lowered degree of consciousness would be the same thing as to stand aside, on organisational-formalist grounds, from the under-currents in our class to which we have to orient -- in worst case it would mean to act as little helpers to the bureaucracy, or at least to get stuck in a right-sectarian position.
. Thus, our class credibility does not stand or fall with whether we call for voting for the
social-democratic party in one election after the other. Indeed, it might harm it! One must never
allow dogmas and unfounded judgments deduced from a priori assumptions substitute for a
living, conscientious and proper analysis, even if this means more of painstaking labor. Even the
1994 general elections, when social-democracy re-gained office after three years of overtly
bourgeois government, displayed several contradictory tendencies. On the one hand there was a
strong determination to put an end to the Bildt government by voting for the social-democrats in
spite of their overt advocacy of austerity politics; this diminished the space left for split-lists and
alternative candidates. On the other hand, there were in fact three successful local examples of
just that: the "Offensiv" Trotskyists in Umee, KPML(r) in Karlshamn, and the Kiruna Party
which even became the biggest party in Kiruna! As well, the Left Party made a considerable
advance in gaining more seats in the parliament, getting a bigger portion of working-class votes
than they had since long ago. Since 1994, this trend has, in general, persisted. To dismiss it as
deviations from the ordinary class vote, would be nonsensical. The Kiruna Party grew forth out
of the rebellion in the mineworkers' union in 1993, while the advances of the Offensiv was the
result of their ability to establish themselves as a serious political force in Umee, doing lots of
clearly visible and professional campaign-work against cutbacks and austerity measures -- plus a
good deal of left social-democratic camouflage. In the case of KPML(r), there was a small but
real working-class base which they managed to widen. If we then proceed to look at the
plebiscite soon afterwards on affiliation to the European Union, the worker discontent with the
social-democratic government made itself still more obvious: despite the intense
social-democratic campaign for a yes-vote, no-votes were cast by 62% of the members of the
working-class trade-unions and by about 50% of those who had voted for the social-democrats in
. In the campaign for the 1998 general elections, we took basically the same stand, but then with
leaflets only, since issuing the paper and newsletter had ceased. In the campaign for the 2002
general elections, we didn't appear in public at all, as the re-considerations then were already
. Within both the LRP and FRP, bizarre discussions have been pursued as to which social-democratic parties in Europe are bourgeois workers' parties and which are not -- the tendency being to take for granted that new such parties cannot arise in our epoch, and that a decisive criterion of a bourgeois workers' party must be that it has ties to the unions in about the same way as the Swedish collective affiliation or the bloc vote in the British Labour Party. If so, the French Socialist Party and the Greek PASOK were mere ordinary bourgeois parties, while the Spanish PSOE were on its way to be transformed to that. True, there has been a general tendency among the social-democratic parties to leave the classical reformist layout behind, make some kind of "division of marital property" with the unions and trying to secure their independence from them. The so-called New Labour in Britain is a clear example, and not even here in Sweden is the relationship between the social-democratic party SAP and the trade-union center LO like what it had once been. However, there is no simply demarcated process to this effect, and it's not even sure that it is irrevocable. Moreover, there have also been openly bourgeois parties with affiliated labor unions, like e.g. the Christian Democrats in Italy or the Peronists in Argentine.
. It ought to be kept in mind here that Lenin coined the concept "bourgeois workers' parties" at a time when the social-democratic parties had recently crossed the class line in connection with the outbreak of World War I and still retained a solid base in the workers' ranks. It was this contradictory situation which he captured with his term. As we can see, since then the picture has dissolved into a number of different variants: parties which have never claimed to be socialist even in the reformist sense but which, despite that, enjoy a base in the working class; parties with a reformist aim and direction and a broad electoral support, but weak or no ties to unions; parties which have had strong such ties but seek to cut them off; and so on. The reason why Trotskyists can pursue such pedantic discussions of how Lenin's concept is to be applied today, is not to be found in some penchant for scientific exactness, since that is hardly what is being achieved that way. No, the reason is to pragmatically select which parties one (at least sometimes) to vote for in elections.
. Another trend which has decided that social-democracy has become "bourgeoisified" is the
Committee for a Workers' International, to which, among others, the Offensiv group in Sweden
belongs. [In the U.S. it's the Labor's Militant Voice.] With them it's obvious how thin the analysis
is of how that supposed change has come about and when it took place -- and the very point of
departure, that one should always vote for a bourgeois workers' party, is retained. In the U.S. they
go still further, calling for a vote for Nader in the presidential election.
. In discussions with the Cliffite IS in Denmark in late 1988, comrades from CLN criticized the line of "military but not political support" for Iran (the question had come up because a short time before the end of the Iran-Iraq war, incidents had occurred which had increased the risk of a U.S. imperialist intervention on the Iraqi side). There were some IS-ers, too, who questioned this line -- but they were able to do so only by leaning on a theory of "sub-imperialism": that certain countries like e.g. Iran (and India, Argentine, Brazil, etc. ) somehow are semi-imperialist by having some domestic, independent monopoly formations, some local export of capital, etc. So, without this kind of construction, not even those "critics" could raise any objections -- and, quite logically, when Panama one year later was invaded, there were nothing to discuss since no-one could apply the "sub-imperialism" model on this small country.
. An almost over-obvious illustration as to how absurdly formalist the line of "military but not political support against imperialism" might be, was provided by the LRP when the U.S. towards the end of the Bosnian war began to bomb Serbian nationalist positions. From, at first, having declared support for Bosnia, the line was quite mechanically switched to support the Serbian nationalists. At the same time, they declared that later on, Bosnia would be supported again against both Serbian and Croatian nationalists -- i.e. as soon as the American bombing raids cease, the war changes its character anew! Thus, the content of this would be that the Bosnian working class should alternately support now one side, now the other, depending on whom the Western powers for the moment choose to put most pressure upon.
. A short time after the founding of the FRP, a comrade formulated some "heretical theses",
which were later adopted. These concentrated on the question of which practical effects there
would be in a semi-colonial country if revolutionaries there, who have a certain influence,
support the war efforts of the regime. The conclusion was that since the regime fears "its own"
masses more than it fears imperialism, the regime will not really fight imperialism and will turn
out to be most prone to turn its guns in the opposite direction. Therefore, revolutionaries must
work for independent arming of the working class and connect that to political demands. At
most, one might talk of a "temporary tactical alliance" with the forces of the regime. Such was
our line for Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, and we didn't alter it when the imperialists towards
the end carried out some bombing raids on Serbian nationalist positions. In the 1999 war, we
held that revolutionary defeatism would have been the only correct stand in Serbia, bearing in
mind the oppression of the Albanian people in Kosova.
. By "permanent revolution", Marx and Engels did *not* deny the existence of distinct stages in
the revolution, with different forces as main actors. What they meant was simply that in the
bourgeois-democratic revolution, one must not restrain the workers' movement and subordinate it
to the bourgeoisie, but, to the contrary, actively prepare the transition to the next stage, the
proletarian-socialist revolution, through upholding the independence of the working-class
movement in relation to the bourgeoisie by fighting from the very beginning for its own class
interests and defending itself, arms in hand, whenever necessary. As soon as the first stage of the
revolution has been carried through to the end by changing the power relations in society, the
next stage begins, when the main contradiction is between workers and bourgeois. In discussing
this, Marx and Engels carefully specified the transition between the stages of the revolution to
take place in three phases: at first, while prevailing conditions still remain and the suppression of
petty-bourgeois democrats continues; then, in the course of the subsequent revolutionary battles,
when they capture the dominant position; and finally afterwards, when the petty-bourgeois
leadership rules over the overthrown forces and over the working class. In each separate phase,
the constellations -- and thus also the concrete tasks -- differ, as has been sketched above. This
was the outline Lenin made in the beginning of the last century, and which was attacked by
Trotsky. Against his attacks, Lenin replied that the Bolsheviks certainly were in favor of the
revolution as an uninterrupted process. This was also shown by Lenin's hard demarcation against
the line of the Mensheviks, which really exploited the division in stages to promote tail-ending
the liberal bourgeoisie, i.e. the same thing as the Stalinist popular-front policy of later times
. When Trotsky brought up his theory of permanent revolution anew (he had kept a low profile on it for many years after he joined the Bolsheviks in 1917), it didn't take long before he described it as universal. Given his old criticism, in the name of permanent revolution, against the Bolshevik slogan of the democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants, the question is what stand he now took towards the anti-imperialist united front. We haven't found anything in those of his writings which we have seen, and it appears, overall, rather to be a matter of deriving interpretations, since many Trotskyists differ among themselves on this point. For instance, the Lambertists and LRCI/LFI (Workers' Power) hold that the anti-imperialist united front has remained valid -- and at least the Lambertists have, in certain African countries, established contacts with various forces which they regard as anti-imperialists. Most other trends claim, to the contrary, that the anti-imperialist united front is superseded, that it leads to popular-frontism, and that especially the Chinese experience of 1927 testifies that it is the permanent revolution alone that counts -- not distinctions between separate stages. The LRP takes this stand, and it has been shared by the FRP.
. A part of this matter is that all Trotskyists -- including those who advocate anti-imperialist united fronts -- condemn the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants. They refer to how Stalin and Bukharin in the 1920's used that slogan in China and other places, which is supposed to "prove once again" that it was wrong already from the beginning, in let's say 1905. This is to turn things upside down. First, in Russia in 1905, it wasn't the Bolsheviks, but the Mensheviks, who called for support for the liberal bourgeoisie. That's precisely why they were opposed to the Bolshevik slogan! Applied to colonial and semi-colonial countries, it means that the democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants is an elementary formula for the conquest of power. (One may discuss whether it would have to be updated, as the peasantry in many countries are no longer as numerous as they once were, and that the constellations among the masses thus look different -- but that's another question.) The anti-imperialist united front relates to it in the same way as the proletarian united front relates to the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is, as tactics to apply in the phase of the struggle when the forces, which later on are going to take power, need to unite, to advance and to overcome illusions (in reformism and in petty-bourgeois nationalism respectively).
. What Stalin and Bukharin did in the mid-1920's, as a part of the early formation of modern
revisionism, was to mix the cards by, so to speak, "Menshevizing" the slogan of the democratic
dictatorship of workers and peasants. Actually, they gave priority to that distortion before the
term of anti-imperialist united front, since they wanted to present the Kuomintang and others as
more than purely tactical allies. Our error, which in its esoteric scantiness glimpses forth in the
text of the resolution, was that we had only understood the Stalin-Bukharin trick but, at the same
time, stuck to our old rejection of the anti-imperialist united front despite that we no longer had
the reason to do so: Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.
. Cliff's theory blamed this on the masses and assigned to the intelligentsia in general and the state bureaucracy in particular the role of motor of social development in colonial and semi-colonial countries. Since, according to Cliff, these forces replaced the working class in its historical role, the result was state capitalism: the permanent revolution was thus carried out, albeit in a "deflected", distorted manner. Daum's view differs, first, in his explanation not with structural reasons but with Trotsky's concept of "the crisis of leadership" as the decisive factor; second, in thus regarding the permanent revolution as confirmed mainly in the *negative* respect. So, Daum sees Stalinism and "third world" nationalism as more reactionary than what Cliff did, whose view of state capitalism at the purely descriptive level has a good deal in common with the "workers' state" theories (that there was a planned economy, etc.).
. However, this does *not* mean that Daum's analysis of the huge class battles of the 20th century in the colonial and semi-colonial world is to the left of Cliff's when it boils down to the concrete, because the flip side of his more "principled" attitude and his insisting on the role and tasks of the working class tends to be an even more aloof and denigrating view than the Cliffite one concerning what actually was achieved in those countries. According to Daum, wide-scale nationalizations could be undertaken only after decisive defeats had been inflicted upon the working class by the Stalinist/petty-bourgeois nationalist leaderships! Daum has, no more than Cliff, been able to satisfactorily explain such phenomena as e.g. the Cultural Revolution in China or the events in Kampuchea in 1975-76 prior to the Pol Pot regime's consolidation of its hold on power.
. For our part, we think that the expropriations of the bourgeoisie which took place in a number
of countries during about a 30-year period after the end of World War II, must be understood as
proofs of the enormous development of force among the masses. These were democratic
revolutions, in the first place directed against imperialism, against feudal and semi-feudal
conditions, against fascist and otherwise reactionary, tyrannical regimes, etc. , but which in
several cases hit the bourgeoisie at the same time. The absence of an independent movement of
the working class with its Marxist-Leninist party at the head resulted in no socialist revolution
being carried out anywhere, as in Russia in 1917 -- but still, a capitalism whose central element,
the capitalists themselves, are knocked out or at least severely pressed to back down, a capitalism
in which the state administration has to intervene and take over to keep it going, is not a strong
capitalism, not a capitalism marching forward, but a capitalism which has got to maneuver in
order to gain time and survive. State capitalism is in itself not the slightest more progressive than
ordinary capitalism, there is no gain in the statist property form *as such,* but if nationalizations
are being carried out because the masses actually have kicked the capitalists out, then these are a
reflection of their strength. This is, we believe, a difference in comparison with, first and
foremost, the counterrevolutionary consolidation which took place in the Soviet Union in the
1930's (and its later extension to the Baltic states, Poland, East Germany, Rumania, etc. ).
. The main contradiction in capitalist society, i.e. between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, is an expression of the fundamental contradiction between labor and capital, i.e. between the social character of the process of production and the private appropriation of the result of production. This, however, is the very same thing as the contradiction between productive forces and relations of productions. So, our error consists in having reduced the productive forces to means of production, instead of seeing Man as the absolutely most important productive force! The class struggle belongs to the base of society, but by disconnecting it from the productive forces it is, by consequence, relegated to the superstructure of society -- whereupon the superstructure "interacts" *dualistically* with the base.
. Precisely this error -- not explicitly, of course, but methodologically -- is inherent in Trotskyism, just like in Menshevism, Kautskyism, etc. , and underlies their technological determinism, as when the Mensheviks claimed that the bourgeois-democratic character of the Russian revolution presupposes bourgeois leadership, or when Trotsky blamed Stalin's victory on the backwardness of Russia. When Trotsky's various successors claimed that the historical tasks of the proletariat can be carried out by Stalinist bureaucrats or even by military coups which lead to the establishment of "deformed workers' states" unless the working class acts on its own, then this was the "left" version of Kautskyan-Menshevik determinism. The same can be said about Cliff's afore-mentioned alternative variant: the theory of "deflected permanent revolution", since despite that he denies that workers' states can be created by non-proletarian forces, he yet insists that it is the workers' historical tasks that are carried out, in however distorted a way. Such absurd theorizing would have been impossible unless the productive forces are viewed in separation from the class struggle. But not only that: here there is also a connection to the reduction of relations of production to property relations: since property relations in a certain sense is a "technical" matter, it can be connected directly to the question of development of the means of production by focusing on anarchy in production, the need to create more rational, "social" forms -- above the head of the class struggle if need be. In orthodox Trotskyism, this connection is obvious, but it is there in Cliffism as well, at the nation-state level, since it, in state capitalism, is supposed to function as one single enterprise.
. But why, this is what we have tried to avoid? Yes, but what we did was to disconnect class struggle and productive forces *from the opposite angle,* so to say, by tending to handle the class struggle as an independent category. This is based on LRP's view of history: that the motor behind the development of productive forces is the need for every exploiting class to keep as high a labor productivity as possible and to overcome the exploited classes' resistance to this, i.e. waging class struggle. To this end, technology must be developed so as to tie the exploited more firmly to the means of production -- or to make production as independent of labor power as possible, like when capitalists replace living labor with machinery. When a certain mode of production is no longer able to raise or keep up labor productivity, it becomes increasingly difficult for the ruling class to retain its hold; when one mode of production has replaced another throughout history, it has been because the new one has proven to be more efficient in exploitation, i.e. in achieving a high labor productivity. Since capitalism, being the last exploitative mode of production, cannot be out-competed by some more efficient class of exploiters, it enters its imperialist stage of decay, the essence of which is a *retreat* from confronting the more and more mighty proletariat head-on. Before the late part of the 19th Century, the crises worked as an important means of class struggle: those capitalists who hadn't been strong enough to withstand pressures from "their" workers to raise wages, etc. were wiped out since their capital thereby had become less profitable, and unemployment in vast scale pressed the workers down to accept any conditions. As everything developed, production became more interconnected and the working class more numerous, more disciplined, etc. , it became too dangerous to allow the crises to do their class-struggle work: they might invite a revolution. So, formation of trusts and monopolies, thus limiting competition and regulating things more, became the solution -- but that also meant that the self-regulating way of disciplining capitalists into standing firm against the workers was now much more limited, and that's why capitalism began to decay.
. Thus, Marx's theory of crisis and breakdown is relegated into the background. This view of the
LRP appears not quite clearly in Daum's book. It leads to their arbitrary, idealist analyses of class
forces mentioned earlier in this document. While we have been able to see through it in some
matters, the de-connection of class struggle and productive forces has been with us almost to the
. Before entering the subject, it should be kept in mind that one has to make distinction between the slogan of "socialism in one country" as it actually was, and the idea as such. It *may* be conceived of in other contexts than that of Stalinism. It could, then, just as well express, say, voluntarist deviations, ultra-"left" stands, attempts to skip the transitional period and immediately get rid even of the bureaucracy which simply cannot be avoided. For sure, we don't know of any such application, but the point is that Trotskyism simplifies the matter too much by automatically and unconditionally putting an equal sign between the aim of making one's own country socialist and the self-legitimizing ideology of a counterrevolutionary bureaucratic apparatus.
. The debate around the question of "socialism in one country" was, in the main, a reflection of merely *quantitative* differences. Trotsky had already at an early stage pronounced himself as an outspoken promoter of bureaucratic methods. In his pamphlet Communism and Terrorism, he had in a rather unrestrained manner hailed forced labor, and in the debate on the trade-unions he had denigrated their role with the formalist reference that Soviet Russia was a workers' state, and had even gone so far as to aim at "militarizing" them and regulating the post-civil war reconstruction by use of "armies of labor". In his "testament", Lenin had criticized him for paying attention in the first place to the administrative side of things. Thus, it was logical that Trotsky towards the mid-1920's was to lean heavily on Preobrazhensky's stand that state ownership in the Soviet Union was socialist by its very nature, just because of being the ownership of a workers' state: traits of capitalism in the form of commercial norms etc. were held to be mere forms of appearance, and only the interaction with small production, and foreign trade, could possibly affect the state sector in a capitalist way. The conclusion, then, is that if this sector were extended to encompass the entire economy, then a socialist economy has been achieved. Trotsky's polemics against Stalin and Bukharin was in the main about *their lack of intention to carry that out. *
. Most of the bureaucracy, which had been inherited from Czarism and which had come to
dominate more and more even within the Bolshevik Party itself, was opting for a kind of
conservative stability in collaboration with the growing market forces: NEP-men and kulaks.
When Stalin and Bukharin formulated and promoted the slogan of "socialism in one country", it
served as a code-word for such politics, and was for that reason attacked by Trotsky. Such is the
background of the debate. The international aspect was initially most of all about the need,
according to Trotsky, of pursuing a more active foreign trade, and that the orientation towards
rich peasants and petty capitalists represented a narrow-minded belief in national autarchy; step
by step, however, the stress was to be laid on *how big-scale* conditions were needed to achieve
a socialist society.
. The explanation of Trotsky's action lies, most likely, in the logics of factional fighting itself. As
often is the case at defeats, disintegration threatens -- and that went faster and deeper when Stalin
in 1928 broke with Bukharin and took over the opposition's program for the economy.
Preobrazhensky, and many others, too, went over on Stalin's side: to them, it must have looked
like Stalin at last being ready for substantial action instead of making fog. At the international
level as well, the course was turned leftwards at this time: from having been directed to "the
stabilization of capitalism" and corresponding right-opportunist maneuvering, with the
"Anglo-Russian Committee" and accommodation to the Chinese Kuomintang as the most
well-known examples, now the Stalinists in the leadership of Comintern predicted the great
depression and a drastic sharpening of the class struggle all over the world. To keep his
supporters' ranks intact and make new inroads, Trotsky had to hit back and stress the dividing
lines. But while he now put Preobrazhensky's line-of-action aside, he had actually no alternative
since he still shared its fundamentals. So, it was in his interest to raise the whole thing onto as
abstract a level as possible, to be about international productive forces -- i.e. how big scale the
realization of socialism needs -- rather than what concretely had to be done in the Soviet Union.
(His statements concerning the latter were, in the next few years, scarce, vague and limited to
warning that the country was on the brink of economic disaster, and to call for what in fact would
have amounted to a partial re-establishment of NEP.)
. So, here we can see the straight line from Trotsky's point of departure in the debate on
"socialism in one country" to the theory of "the degenerated workers' state" -- as well as to his
successors' characterization of other regimes of corresponding type as "deformed workers'
states". It is connected to the fact his view of what socialism is, doesn't really differ that much
from Stalin's as it might appear on the surface. His concrete criticism and proposals are of a
mainly *democratic* nature: "soviet parties" must be allowed, authoritarian dictates in literature
and the arts must cease, excess privilege must be fought against, etc. Trotsky's insistence -- after
he a few years into the 1930's had reached the conclusion that the regime could not be reformed
peacefully anymore -- that there could be talk of a mere political revolution only, not a social
one, derives precisely from that. If it's possible to, for a moment, look specifically at how such a
rebellion would be done and what it would achieve, it might be said to resemble, most of all, the
July Revolution in France in 1830, which replaced the restorationist monarchy with a bourgeois
king. Trotsky even spoke of the desired purge of the Stalin group as a "police" matter!
. What can be derived from Lenin's works is precisely the aim and direction of getting the broad masses to manage the affairs of society and assume responsibility for controling and organizing the economy. Depending on time and context, he worked with different concepts as to how to achieve this. In the very first time after the October Revolution, he appears to have tried to avoid that soviet power would take over more of the economy than it would be able to handle. The main task here was to struggle against disintegration tendencies and arbitrariness, and to learn to master such things as book-keeping and administration. Later, he stresses that communism begins in voluntary labor and care for the interests of society as a whole. When NEP was launched, he hoped to create preconditions for social control of production by letting soviet power taking the capitalist forces under its control and, at the same time, educate more workers and toilers, draw them into the exercise of power, wage struggle against bureaucracy, etc. In direct opposition to Trotsky, Lenin regarded trade-unions as important even for the working class to defend itself against the bureaucratic deformations of the soviet state and against the commercial basis on which the state enterprises were now running. Lenin spoke of a relatively prolonged period of class struggle on a number of different arenas, as well as struggle to raise the general educational and cultural level in a number of respects, pointing this out as the path towards socialism.
. Moreover, socialism is not the final goal, but merely the lower phase of communism. It is
characterized by the fact that -- despite appropriation has become socialized and commodity
production, and thus wage labor, has been abolished -- the division of labor has not yet been
overcome, and the main principle of distribution is "to each according to his work", not yet "to
each according to his needs". There is still no general abundance. Can such a society be achieved
within the framework of one country? In our opinion, this is the wrong question to put; the
decisive orientation must be to everywhere, where the proletariat has conquered power, try to get
as far as possible towards socialism. So, the discussion ought to focus rather on concrete
strategical and tactical dispositions -- i.e. what to get to and how to do it.
. For communists and class-conscious workers abroad, the perspective of soon seeing socialism
become reality in the Soviet Union must have been exciting and encouraged them in their
struggle against their own exploiters and oppressors -- just as there must be every reason to
suppose that the "socialism in one country" message carried a mighty appeal to the laboring
masses in the Soviet Union itself, those very masses who had fought out the Revolution and the
civil war and now were anxious to see their sacrifices turn into palpable improvements.
. Trotsky's anti-Stalinism is not much to lean on, as it has become clear how many similarities with Stalinism he actually had. As far as we can see, Trotsky's pen did not create any works comparable with those of Plekhanov. As for Luxemburg, there were, to be sure, lots of similarities with Trotsky before 1917 in the criticism of Lenin's theory of the party, but the crucial difference is that Trotsky was a centrist and a liquidationist, he attempted to conciliate Bolshevism and Menshevism and thus stood in the way of building the party on the basis of the independent class stand, while Luxemburg, after all, searched for a revolutionary policy and was driven into a sharper and sharper antagonism to Kautsky & Co. until there was a break. Here actual practice was thus able, time after another, to overcome her vacillation, and must therefore be viewed as the essence of her life and work. That's why Lenin posthumously could hail Luxemburg as "an eagle" and, at the same time, point out that Paul Levi played in the hands of the class enemy by making himself an advocate of deviations which, in the main, were the same as Luxemburg's. What she would have done had she not been murdered, how she would have acted in the various battles of political lines in the 1920's and 30's, can, of course, only be a matter of speculation -- and that's not meaningful at all.
. Here someone might retort that "why, Trotsky changed his mind in 1917 and joined the Bolsheviks". Sure he did, and well done, but the point is that this did by no means constitute the logical conclusion of a previous development; there is no sign whatsoever that he had step by step approached Bolshevik positions, but rather it was a 180 degree turn. As late as the year before, he had in his usual fashion taken a centrist stand on the question of how the Russian working-class movement should act in relation to the ongoing war: true, he had disagreed with social-chauvinism (the line of "defending the fatherland"), but he had opportunistically tried to reconcile it with the revolutionary defeatism of the Bolsheviks (the line that the "own" state's defeat is the lesser evil) into a compromise line. Thus, it wasn't the war, either, that brought Trotsky closer to Lenin; there were, for that matter, other Russian trends, too, which refused to rally under the Czar's war-banners, like, for instance, the so-called Menshevik-Internationalists with Martov at the head -- and in contrast we can see how Luxemburg and Liebknecht, despite some weaknesses, demarcated themselves very sharply against social-chauvinism and boldly declared that the main enemy is at home.
. When Trotsky a few months before the October Revolution, without previous re-considerations or self-criticism, gave up his struggle against the Bolsheviks, the reason must have been that he by then had been convinced in practice that they were right and that their line was the only one which could lead to victory for the workers and peasants. Here, one must not forget that 1917 was a year of tremendous influx of new members, so Trotsky and his comrades in the so-called Mezhraiontsy group were far from alone! Why, there is hardly anything that shake people up so thoroughly as a revolutionary situation. It seems that the Party, on the other hand, took a very tactful stand to those who came to join: the most important was not how they had stood earlier, to the extent that they had been participants in struggles between the different trends in the working-class movement, but how they stood now, and that they in practice were fighting like Bolsheviks. Moreover, Trotsky had, after all, a certain influence and had played an important role at the head of the St. Petersburg soviet in 1905. He possessed extraordinary talents as an agitator and propagandist. The Party most likely knew what it did when it almost immediately elected him a member of its Central Committee -- and, as things were to turn out, both the concrete carrying out of the October Revolution and the survival of soviet power in the first difficult years owe a lot to Trotsky.
. He did, however, never make a clean break with his pre-1917 stands, but tried for the rest of his
life to gloss over and extenuate the very deep-going differences that had existed between him and
the Bolsheviks, present it all as some almost "episodic" quarrels, and so on and so forth. His
notorious inclination to try tacking together opposite stands and act as conciliator on crucial
issues, was displayed once again before the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty ("neither
war nor peace") or in his refusal to heed Lenin's urge to take up the struggle against Stalin in the
Winter of 1922-23. From during the next few years after 1917 having said that the theory of
permanent revolution was of a mere historical interest, to taking it up again shortly after the death
of Lenin. He did, however, never return to his old spontaneist party concept -- but there remained
certain elements of it, while his "Bolshevist-Leninism" rather tended to be taken to the extreme
of authoritarian command from the top, from the "militarize the unions" stand in 1920 to his
actions in the 1930's in the Trotskyist movement, and his talk that "the crisis of humanity is
reduced to the crisis of revolutionary leadership". (Nor did Stalin, for that matter, nominally
condemn the Leninist concept of the party, but just distorted it beyond recognition.)
. He refutes, in a trustworthy way, a number of lies by references to documents of various kinds,
to telegrams, minutes and other sources -- but truth does, as is well known, not necessarily mean
the *whole* truth. After all, it is not clear whether there are also other telegrams, minutes, etc.,
which from his point of view complicate the picture too much and therefore are not presented.
The way in which he handled what he had done before 1917 doesn't call forth much trust, and the
way in which he described Stalin, e.g. in his autobiography, contains so much of personal insults
and obvious under-estimation (one is involuntary reminded of Khrushchev's bizarre utterances to
the effect that Stalin was such a butcher that he didn't even know how to read a map, but had to
use a globe to direct the armed forces during the war. . . ) that it just doesn't make sense. So, to
put it briefly, one has to be on one's guard also against Trotskyist forgery of history.
. We don't think the First Five-Year Plan can be held to have been expression of real economic planning -- at most, an effort. Daum is, no more than other Trotskyists, able to provide any substantial evidence to the contrary! Magnificent achievements were indeed made, like, for instance, the construction of the Magnitogorsk steel combine, the Dnjeprostroi dam and hydro-power station, the Turkestan-Siberia railway -- great achievements which, under prevailing conditions, would have been quite impossible without centralizing mobilizations, without unleashing mass enthusiasm, steadfastness, determination and willingness to sacrifice -- but that doesn't mean that one can prove the existence of a genuine planning of the Soviet economy, not even a planning with bureaucratic deformations.
. Concerning the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union, it would hardly have been possible if it really were so unpopular as it is sometimes alleged: not even a completely ruthless regime using armed force would be able to enter into a frontal confrontation with the countryside in a country with a such large peasant majority as Russia then was. It is also naive to ignore stratification in the villages in poor peasants, middle peasants and rich peasants, kulaks, and believe that it didn't matter. Furthermore, one must not forget the old traditions of cooperation in Russian countryside, in the first place through the *mir,* the peculiar community structure which already Marx had noted with interest. The Bukharinist-Rykovite program returned somewhat later, albeit in another form (and independent of its initiators); here, we think, Bordiga's analysis of the kolkhozes deserves to be studied. Bordiga held that the kolkhoz system, after its consolidation, was to serve as a kind of conservative, stabilizing weight in society in a way similar to the French peasantry under Napoleon III.
. The years 1934-36 (from the "Congress of victors" to the "Stalin Constitution") marked the
qualitative consolidation of the counterrevolution. The massive terror that followed, was thus its
result rather than its cause, just like the bloodbath of communards after the defeat of the Paris
. Modern revisionism is by its origin a continuation, in ostensibly "communist" or "revolutionary socialist" garb, of the old revisionism in the Second International: the revisionism of Bernstein and Kautsky. While Lenin stood for the most far-going and resolute break with the Second International, other leading Bolsheviks appear not to have made it to the same extent. Just as there must have been a big gap between Marx and Engels on the one hand and their contemporary followers, even the most prominent ones, on the other, there turned out to be a big gap between Lenin and the rest of the Bolshevik leadership. As we have seen, Trotsky, too, was a carrier of the Second-International heritage. Trotskyism was, beside Stalinism, the second main branch of modern revisionism.
. The International Left Opposition had, from the outset, been fairly broad; after 1927 it had fell apart in several trends beside the one that was to take form as Trotskyism. There were, for instance, the Zinovievites in Germany (who were to form the Leninbund) and in Belgium; there were also Bordigists, and they may actually have been the most numerous, since they had been in the leadership of the very big Italian CP. Likewise, it remains to be checked up what the groups rallying to Trotsky's banner actually were: a first-hand look indicates that it was an utterly heterogeneous collection with some dubious elements in it, and in certain cases people who can hardly be regarded as anything but Bukharinists, like e.g. Chen Tu-hsiu in China. Relatively speaking, James P. Cannon's American Trotskyists seem to have been the best ones in terms of seriousness, ties with the workers, and stands taken in class battles (Minneapolis, 1934). Still, it remains to look into how far they represented an attempt to merge Marxism with the working-class movement or whether it was merely a matter of a more advanced version of American pragmatism. (Critique of Cannon of the latter kind has been made from within the Trotskyist ranks as well, e.g. by Tim Wohlforth.)
. The disintegration of Trotskyism began already in its founder's own lifetime. It's interesting to note how both sides in the well-known split in the American SWP in 1939-40 by the time were to develop in a parallel direction. For instance, both Trotsky and Cannon accused the Shachtman-led minority trend of being petty-bourgeois -- which was very much true indeed! -- and pushed very hard for recruitment of more workers. Later on, though, the SWP was itself orienting mainly to the middle strata. On the other hand, the Shachtmanite Workers' Party accused, at the time of the outbreak of the war, the SWP of social-patriotism with its so-called "proletarian military policy", the point of which was to reform the U.S. army through the establishment of officers' schools under the auspices of the trade unions, the right of soldiers to elect their commanders, etc., and still a couple of years later, when a series of strikes broke out in the U.S. industry, the WP attacked the SWP for turning its back on them. Later on, it turned out that the Shachtmanites outdid the SWP by far as to who was most social-patriotic and generally non-militant: with the onset of the Cold War, namely, they turned cold-warriors since they viewed the Soviet Union as the worst enemy, and they ended up as outright liquidationists and union bureaucrats. That did not, however, restrain the SWP from joining to hail dubious Baltic and Ukrainian nationalists who, in the post-war years, carried "armed struggle" in the forests, after having had a not-too-clean record in relation to the German-fascist occupiers during the war -- or to accommodate to respectable all-American patriotism, like when they sent their condolences to President Kennedy's widow after his assassination, or when they called for the National Guard to be sent to Alabama as the way to protect the population there against racist thugs.
. If we now proceed to look at the main split in the Fourth International in 1953, we can see the same mechanism: after each of the two main contrahents had made a part of the Trotskyist heritage its own hallmark, they had a parallel development. The International Committee, headed by the American SWP and with offsprings like Healyites, Lambertists, Morenoites and others, seized on the Stalinophobia and orientation towards social-democracy, while the Pabloites seized on the pro-Stalinist implications. Both sides shared a strong cynicism on the revolutionary perspectives, but by upholding Trotsky's thesis from 1933 on the all-out counterrevolutionary character of Stalinism, the IC could combine an overt right opportunism with a formally more "orthodox" position in the abstract -- something reminding a bit of the way Moscow-loyal Stalinists many years later were able to make some formal points when criticizing the Euro-"communists". When the IC condemned other Trotskyist trends' stake on guerrilla struggles in Latin America, they did so with reference to the role and tasks of the working class, while in practice it rather meant accommodation to corrupt trade-union hacks, or at least a generally passive stance. In their view of the development of events in Portugal in 1974-75, the American SWP and its allies issued warnings for concessions to Stalinism -- and instead backed the social-democratic party of Mario Soares (not too different from how the popular-frontist right-wing Maoists there acted). The Pabloites, on their part, were rather more undisguised in their cynicism when pointing to other forces than the working class to carry out its "historical tasks": they frequently acted in an openly liquidationist manner. Since some of those trends coming from the IC wing went from "ordinary" entryism to so-called deep entryism, i.e. made themselves invisible inside the social-democratic parties, it wasn't very difficult, though, for the Pabloites to return in kind all accusations of liquidationism from those quarters.
. The Cliffites came forth as a separate trend towards the late 1940's, with their state-capitalism theory as their central profile. They have, in a certain sense, had a parallel development with Shachtmanism and have been active in the same milieux. The British group which constituted the kernel of Cliffism -- which would much later become the SWP -- pursued for many years on end entryism within the Labour Party and seem to have had fraternal relations with Shachtman's group in the U.S., and, later, with those Shachtmanites there who didn't wish to follow their master into open liquidationism. As has already been mentioned in connection with "the Russian question", there is a basic similarity between Cliff's theory and Shachtman's, as that of Cliff essentially is a "third system" theory. Likewise, Cliff was in the 1950's more outspoken than later on in his support for Luxemburg's and the early Trotsky's criticism against Lenin's theory of the party. He even made an attempt to revise the Leninist theory of labor aristocracy by claiming that it's impossible to single out a separate stratum, but that it rather is the working class as a whole in the imperialist countries that constitutes the social basis of reformism. (Empirically, Cliff's reasoning was close to that of Maoist bribery-theories, but with diametrically reverse conclusion: while these Maoists regard the labor aristocracy as extended to encompass the entire class, Cliff regarded reformism as a kind of utterly rudimentary and embryonic class sentiment. Workers' Power's view of reformism -- see the beginning of the section on reformism and elections! -- is a development of the Cliffite view, which is understandable in view of the fact that they originate as a split from Cliffism.)
. In conclusion it might be said -- although only with a good deal of caution -- that Cliffism constitutes *a modified version of Shachtmanism,* that it accompanied it for a part of the road but needed separate positions to motivate a more "balanced" stand. By saying that the Soviet Union just resembles a "third system" but yet is state capitalist, the Cliffites didn't need to say that the "West" is better; it was possible to maneuver with something more resembling a superpower concept ("Neither Washington nor Moscow") which facilitated their adaptation to the radicalization and upsurges of the 1960's, supporting Vietnam in the war despite having taken a neutral position in the Korean War in 1950-53, etc. Cliff's "elasticity" in making a more "Leninist" appearance when it became fashionable in late 1960's, was also connected with this.
. In contrast to the ostensibly more "orthodox" but intellectually more barren American SWP, the
Shachtmanite milieu also gave rise, in late 1940's and into the 50's, to sub-currents in which there
were lots of experimentation as to how to develop and re-interpret the Trotskyist legacy --
including (rather unsuccessful) attempts to work out some more real (as compared to that of
Cliff) state-capitalism analysis. The foremost names here were Raya Dunayevskaya and C. L. R.
James. It is somewhere there one can trace the origins of much of Daum's thought -- not least
their quasi-spontaneist and "young Hegelian" idealist views. This remains, however, to be closer
investigated. Likewise, a subject for investigation should be whether there is a connection
between Cliff's above-mentioned similarity to bribery-theories, and the aforementioned views of
the industrial proletariat which came up at the COFI conference in 1995. That the LRP can take
Cliffite methodology and reverse it, or, so to speak, turn it inside out, has also been shown in this
document in the context of "the Russian question": Cliff's and Daum's de-connection of
exchange-value and use-value from opposite respective angles.
. So, there was still a long time until the ability of Stalinism to manipulate and derail worker militancy had been emptied -- and yet, many great battles were fought all over the world, with millions of people engaged to improve their conditions and create for themselves a new life, a life without bosses, without landlords and usurers, without war-lords, fascists, colonialists and imperialists. Many real and impressive successes were indeed achieved, from China to Cuba, from Albania to Vietnam; to dismiss these just because capitalism wasn't abolished, only nationalized, would be as arrogant as un-historical.
. When the M-L movement sprang forth in the 1960's in protest against official Soviet
revisionism, this signified a renaissance of the continuity of Bolshevism, the continuity on which
Trotskyism had proven unable to build and which Stalinism had suppressed. There were certainly
strong influences emanating from Peking and Tirana -- but it would be undialectical and idealist
to leave it at that. The so-called. "de-Stalinization" in the Soviet Union had itself contributed
much to reinforce and harden old illusions about Stalin among those who now turned against
Soviet revisionism with critique from the left. The Swedish communist Set Persson's stand in his
pamphlet of 1956, Whither Does Khrushchev Want To Lead the Communists?, with its almost
spine-reflex like defense of Stalin combined with a principled and very clear-sighted attack on
everything that overtly legitimized reformism and class collaboration, must be viewed as a
typical example. As well, one cannot bypass the fact that the great polemic by CCP and PLA
played a very important role in the initial stage by showing how far the works of the classics had
been distorted by Soviet revisionism, and by calling attention to the historical experience of the
. Likewise, the LRP was right on two other points, too -- something which we have come to realize only afterwards: how to relate to social-democracy (as has been dealt with elsewhere in this text) and towards the semi-colonial countries. Despite that one cannot accept the mechanical attitude of the LRP on "military support", etc., it is nevertheless quite obvious that we have been guilty of a certain under-estimation of the weight of the "third world" for the world revolution. Of course, these errors were not caused by some "accommodation to the labor aristocracy", as the LRP tried to claim, but by a combination of crudely workerist inclinations and lack of knowledge of the strong growth of the proletariat in these countries.
. LRP had, on the other hand, not displayed any ability, either, to develop strategy and make direct and apt estimations of phenomena. No proper analysis had been made of the world situation after 1989-91 -- only mere episodic judgments. Which effects the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East bloc had on the workers' movement in world scale; how the relations between imperialist powers are; the relation of imperialism to the semi-colonial countries; which features will most likely characterize the development in the advanced countries; etc. -- such questions remained, on the whole, unanswered. On the world economic situation, assessments made were made in such a "myopic" way that the general direction-of-motion was confused with temporary conjunctures, and tendencies taken as established facts.
. Frequently, phrase-mongering and cliches in common Trotskyist style were put in instead of concrete analyses. In the mid-1930's, Trotsky had stated that the two alternatives at hand in France were proletarian revolution or fascism. It was neither, since the class-collaborationist popular-front regime came in between (to be sure, fascism was introduced a few years later by the so-called Vichy government, but, as is well-known, only after the Hitlerite German invasion in 1940, i.e. not as the result of pre-war domestic relations of strength). In 1993-94, the LRP had repeated Trotsky's prognosis on the immediate agenda in South Africa: either the working class rises very soon or it is going to be crushed by a fascist counterrevolution. (This analysis was taken over by us, too.) But if the bourgeoisie is weakened -- how then can fascism be on its immediate agenda? Shortly thereafter, both the LRP and the FRP, each for itself, abandoned this analysis, but in the LRP case it was done without any explanation. For us, it at least was food for serious thought.
. The expulsion from COFI, the day after the end of the Conference, took place in a very strange manner. The Australian section had, in fact, ceased to exist after Boucher's resignation a few months earlier; only one single member was left, and he participated at the conference as an observer. In all substantial matters, he was in agreement with the views and stands of the LRP. Now, when the expulsion of the FRP was to be decided upon, the Australian section was revived, all of a sudden, with him as its representative! Due to this, the expulsion could be passed by 2 votes against 1. After that, this "section" was never more heard of in any sense. . . In the version formulated for public consumption, in Proletarian Revolution, it was just said that the relations between the LRP and FRP were dissolved -- not a single word about expulsion.
. After the Conference, we established that the LRP leadership had no reasonable arguments for
breaking with the FRP. Since we, at the beginning, had been co-founders of COFI together with
the LRP and the WRG, and still adhered to the basic principles of this trend, we had every right
to claim being a legitimate part of COFI, i.e. of having as much right to its name and to affiliate
to it as the LRP can claim to have. We reiterated our view of the LRP as a revolutionary
organization, whose leadership was guilty of "deviations in a centrist direction, but without
quantity having yet been transcended into quality", and that the struggle, thus, in spite of its "in
fact irreconcilable nature", was not factional, but aimed at "convincing and thereby strengthening
the leading American comrades". We characterized ourselves as an "external section" of COFI,
but stressed that this was, first and foremost, a declaration of principle, since COFI hardly could
be said to remain in existence with only one single section. (Here it might be added that LRP
since then, in order to protect the name of COFI, has continued to use it as a synonymous name
of the LRP itself, after they had to confess that no other section really does exist.)
. Beside the above-mentioned questions of class consciousness and democracy, a vast number of other theoretical discussions were pursued, which also were not directly connected to programmatical work. In Summer, 1995, World War II was discussed and a position adopted which proceeded from the periodization of the present imperialist epoch, and took the objective relations-of-strength world-wide as point-of-departure. The conclusion we reached was that neither a simple repetition of Lenin's line in World War I nor Trotsky's attempt to an alternative in the form of "proletarian military policy" would have been correct. Trotskyists usually limit themselves to accepting either this or that of these two stands, but we developed a third one. In Fall, the same year, we took a stand on the various "resistance movements" which in the years following the end of the war fought Stalinist rule in the Baltic states, in the Ukraine, etc. , and which, in certain Trotskyist circles, are said to have represented a popular and progressive policy. We concluded that this was not the case.
. In order to get a firmer grasp of the original emergence of the workers' movement and of various social phenomena, we adopted, in early 1996, a number of positions. Simultaneously, discussions on imperialism started. These discussions provided certain indications of problems with the very frames-of-reference and analytical method of Trotskyism, but we did still not draw any general conclusions. We dropped our claim of being an "external section of COFI", but the question of whether we would cease to claim the banner of this trend, and regard it as a gain at all, was not to be finally solved before the adoption of the resolution in 2003 on the classics of Marxism-Leninism
. The discussion which one of the comrades pursued with members of Arbetarmakt [Workers' Power's fraternal group in Sweden] in 1999-2000 has also contributed to improve our insights in how Trotskyism works. The discussion ended up in a written document by the comrade, which, however, was never replied to by them, since it highlighted a number of problems related to, amongst other things, class analysis, view of science (they in fact don't use dialectics, but tend towards positivism), the economy of transition from capitalism to socialism (they think that the law of value vanishes with the nationalization of the economy and the elimination of the open market), and the view of pornography and prostitution (they are not against pornography, and they prettify prostitution by calling the prostitutes "sex workers", even though they don't go as far as Workers' Power in Britain, which advocates state brothels).
. At a further stage of our alienation from Trotskyism, there was a short-lived convergence (in 2001-2002) with the group Socialistisk Apell (and its side-organization Spartakistungdom). This trend had its background in the Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency, the central motive force of which was the Workers' International League (later known as Workers' Action) in Britain, which had originated from the Healyite WRP after the "explosion" of that party in 1985. One might describe the LTT as belonging to the mainstream of the IC tradition, but as they, by the time, became more and more demoralized, their Swedish adherents, which were youths, began to view Trotskyism with a critical eye and gravitate in our direction. Together with them, we published a joint newsletter, Revolt, at the International Women's Day (March 8) and May First, 2002. However, we failed to win them over; when we put forward more detailed proposals, they withdrew and cut off all contact. They had developed a kind of rather sociological or "organic" working-class identity, the point of which being to become its most radical and militant trend, but without too specific an ideological standpoint. When they had begun to criticize Trotskyism, they soon oriented towards the British group Red Action, which holds that the big problem is cadre organization, leadership based on theory and excercized by intellectuals, etc. , and that class-conscious workers must beware of such things. Red Action calls party-building trends of various kinds "the religious left" and view themselves rather as the men of practical life.
. When, for instance, we criticized the notorious preference in British Trotskyism of playing at
crude workerism with tabloid-like papers for the workers, with bawling "world-war headlines" at
the front-page of every issue (while, at the same time, publishing more sophisticated material for
other categories of readers!), mass recruitment, party meetings at pubs, calls in every election to
vote Labour, etc. etc., the Socialistisk Apell held that precisely these things were among the more
sound traits in those organizations, and that they should be emancipated from the Trotskyist
straitjacket. So, what they opposed in Trotskyism was rather its pseudo-Leninist aspects. A few
months after breaking with us, Socialistisk Apell openly condemned Leninism, and to our
knowledge this group has since then turned entirely passive.
. Lenin characterized the stage of imperialism as, amongst other things, "moribund capitalism" -- which means that its historical time is up. Capitalism developed the productive forces to such a level of socialization of the process of production, that socialism became possible, but as long as capitalism lives on, it can regain force only by destruction of productive forces so that the wheels can begin to turn around full-speed once more. What made the prolonged post-war boom possible, was, in the first place, the massive destruction of productive forces which had taken place in the war. It's precisely because war is the only real remedy against capitalist depression -- and not out of some petrified dogmatism -- that Marxist-Leninists say that imperialism is bellicose by its very nature.
. But the cold-war balance of Armageddon-size nuclear arsenals made a World War III problematic to unleash, since, after all, profit and suicide are two rather incompatible quantities. Meanwhile, the crisis returned -- deeper and deeper with each downward move. What happened about 1980 was that it got full effect in the superstructure of society: the initial reactions, which had been to try to counteract the crisis through increased regulation and tendencies towards state capitalism (in Sweden, the wage-earner funds, that corporativist structure which was to gather and deliver risk capital, was an expression of this), were abruptly abandoned in favor of the new agenda of de-regulation so as to get revenue by attacking "draining" social-security systems, job-security laws, collective bargaining, and other things.
. Capitalism continues to break productive forces down, which can be seen in the growing armies of eliminated people, especially in the semi-colonial countries: enormous human resources which the capitalist system just doesn't need and therefore wastes away. This signifies a retrogression of socialization. This self-destructiveness on the part of the system is, slowly but surely, wearing its way inwards, from the periphery towards the metropoles, the advanced, imperialist countries. But this is not "the further march of history", but, to the contrary, the "wheel of history" having got stuck and needs help to come loose so that it doesn't get rusty. It is still socialism that belongs to progress!
. So, instead of a spirit of resignation, the diametrical opposite is required, since time is beginning to run out: that the working class gets done its organizing under the banner of Marxism-Leninism and overthrows capitalism before the possibility of doing so has become entirely corroded. In the latter case, the death agony of capitalism may end in general disintegration and hurl civilization into chaos or, at best, perhaps several hundred years of recovery from a much lower level.
. In short: the bombastic propaganda of the right is actually hollow to the utmost. What propels it ahead and can make it appear credible, is nothing but *the absence of visible alternatives. * One aspect of this is that revisionism, in most cases, has identified historical progress in a technological-determinist way -- and now there is bewilderment and confusion. From their viewpoint, it seems as if capitalism really *has* history on its side! That the technological innovations made in the midst of all decay, like e.g. IT, in fact represents a *strengthening* of the material prerequisites of socialism, is often left out of the counting. The most important aspect is, however, rather another one: that reformism and the various hues of modern revisionism have been tied to the Keynesian models, to one or another model of class collaboration. While the reformists go on pursuing reformist *realpolitik* under the new conditions (which means that they, like, amongst others, Swedish social-democracy, administer the political agenda of neo-liberalism, albeit in a somewhat modified form), most of the modern revisionist trends, from Stalinism to Trotskyism, aim at resurrecting the old and through the crisis outdated conditions of class collaboration. That's what manifests itself as e.g. Swedish-model nostalgia. Grassmanite conspiracy-theories [that the capitalist crisis doesn't really exist, but is just propaganda from the bosses to stop reformism] and the talk of a lurking, invisible coup d'etat after the Palme assassination, are just the more lunatic expressions of this trend.
. One might, by the way, say that the present controversies in the Left Party reflect the tensions between these two aims and directions: while the so-called "left choice" faction is more realistic from the viewpoint of the conditions of bourgeois society of today, the so-called "communists" represent the orientation to catch up discontent among youth and the poor and to channel it into pressure for the re-establishment of the former conditions. It is Euro-"communism" they want to re-create, which in its heady days worked for a "historical compromise" with capital and the Swedish VPK could act as the "friendly push" on social-democracy. SP and KPML(r) walk in the footsteps, of course, each in its own way, and even the mantra of Offensiv and the like about "nationalizations" fit into the pattern.
. However defiant-sounding the verbiage of revisionists may be sometimes, the very point with
their orientation is that it is backward-looking and expresses itself in purely defensive terms. Not
even all the numerous debate-books which have been published in recent years, and which --
often in a meritorious way -- demolish neo-liberal myths, lay bare the actual course of events, etc.
, have anything more than defensive prescriptions to offer. Under such circumstances, it's not
quite easy for the revisionists to keep a stiff upper lip and go on saying that they stand for
historical progress; "at best" it boils down to sad reminiscences of the optimism of the Erlander
[social-democratic leader and Swedish prime minister 1946-69] era or something like that. More
common, though, is that various forms of post-modernist relativism penetrates everywhere.
. This cannot be done as a pure "study-task", like when various so-called cadre theoreticians retire into their rooms and leave the field out there to the very forces which they claim to oppose. Such a stand can't be excused by saying that "theoretical work, polemics, etc. is a form of activity and struggle, too, and thus part and parcel of revolutionary practice". Why, what rather is meant by *that* is the need for theory to be united with, and provide guidance for, the working-class movement. A considerable weakness in our work has been the marked tendency in the last years to pursue theoretical reconstruction-work in isolation, to the detriment of building the organisation in practical action, formulating concrete guiding-lines, etc. There is a danger of idealism here: perceptions that one can reconstruct theory first, on our own, and then intervene. If one thinks in such a pedantic and mechanical way, then one hasn't understood dialectics, however much one may talk about it. When communism in the first years after 1917 gained a vast-ranging influence in a number of countries, that was not just because the working class was big, concentrated, etc. there (if so, Sweden would have become a stronghold) or because revolutionary ideas were spread energetically -- no, not even a simple combination of these two things was enough. The decisive thing was that broad sections of the workers, due to certain objective and subjective reasons, viewed the path of the October Revolution as a *solution* -- the most realistic solution! -- not only to the big questions of the future, but to their more short-term problems as well, while the path of class collaboration, the path of reformism, was felt to be the really utopian, the really untenable. *This* is the point when we speak of "unifying the struggle for immediate demands with the struggle for socialism". And even at the level at which we are today, many people approach Marxism-Leninism precisely through their direct engagement in struggle.
. We must, just like the working class itself, expose ourselves to the live class struggle so as to
test out whether our ideas hold. This is how our communist consciousness will be developed!
Otherwise, contradictions within the revolutionary organisation might be magnified in relation to
the contradiction which we intend to fight out -- the contradiction to bourgeois society -- since
that society continuously creates an environment of passivization and de-politization all around
us. On the one side we'd then get a tendency to "substitute" for the group, to act on one's own,
above its head, in order to uphold continuity and keep up some kind of cadre-like level for
oneself, while on the other side we'd get a retreat into private priorities (or, "at best", to a
scepticist wait-and-see attitude at some trade-unionist level). In such a situation it is tempting to
try saving what might be saved by lowering the level of ambition to "the least common
denominator", but that can not stop disintegration, just slow it down a bit, since that measure
works as a force of gravity.
. In the first place, each and every new attempt to push back the gains of workers and toilers must be stopped by means of as vast and broad mobilizations as possible. The content of the new strategy of the right-wing must be clarified. Second, the role of social-democracy as the clearance squad of "the Market" must be highlighted. If things continue as now, the political fulcrum is mercilessly, and at a very fast speed, going to shift rightwards, like in 1991-92. Third, it's important to work with a range of different forms of organization and struggle simultaneously: the split and the political void amongst the masses can be remedied only by setting out from the many different existing angles, so as to direct them all into one single torrent. To put all energy on e.g. work inside the unions would, thus, be too one-sided, as would putting the stakes on continuous campaigns at high gear, as the Offensiv group does. (The last-mentioned thing does, moreover, run the risk of spending the forces of many militant people to no avail, getting them "burned out").
. The summons in the last few years, from Seattle in 1999 and onwards, provide good examples of the possibility to build rallying-points -- but they need to be built not just at a mere organizational level or with watered-down slogans statically expressing "the least common denominator", but around well-elaborated and solidly based lines-of-action. Otherwise, these summons will tick over and then evaporate -- something which there are already signs of.
. All this is of a defensive nature, but in a somewhat longer term it should, if things go well, lead to such a gathering of strength, that the independent movement of the working class can get going. That, in turn, is the prerequisite for the struggle against bourgeois society to turn on the offensive and draw in the working people at large. In preparation, we must already from the very beginning concentrate at putting forward the various questions of struggle in a class way, to make the proletarian class stand central, instead of, like much of the "left", rest contented with being, in a general sense, against everything bad.
. Are there possibilities to do these things? Yes, there are. The more and more severe crisis of the capitalist system does, to be sure, increase the pressures upon the masses, and so it might be more difficult to organize resistance as industrial closures etc. destroy and atomize the basis for the working-class movement -- but, at the same time, as has been mentioned in the section on class analysis, socialization of production has proceeded very far. It is also quite easy to get myopic -- to forget the obvious fact that "re-industrialization" here must be matched by extensive localizations of industry elsewhere, with all side-effects of advanced infrastructure, etc. In the so-called "third world", the industrial proletariat has grown considerably. In many of these countries, this has been reflected in unionization and periodically very hard battles with the exploiters. The flip side of the same coin is that the capitalist destructiveness, hitting at broader and broader sections of society, means that capital spends its social reserves. In the wake of the great upsurge in France in 1968, de Gaulle was able to mobilize a "silent majority" of the population on his side; today, that's not so easily done. The fact that the ideas of Marxism-Leninism nowadays are upheld only by a tiny few, does not mean that reaction can automatically step in and fill the void. Rather, a political void has been widened in *both* directions. As long as that is the case, class-conscious workers and progressive activists are constantly and everywhere going to grapple with questions of how to find a solution. They will look for these very answers, which only Marxism-Leninism can provide.
. And when its scientific ideas are integrated with the revolutionary practice of the world
proletariat, the entire old world will be torn down, and forth will thrive a new world, a world
without exploitation and oppression, without poverty and want, without wars, without insecurity
before what the morrow might bring. The future is bright! <>
. Thank you for the materials which you have sent us recently. We are sorry to taken so long to reply, but the last period has been quite hectic for us. As you can see, we even skipped the April issue of the Supplement.
. You asked if you could print our letter of last December on Cliff's pamphlet on permanent revolution, with your comments on it. This is fine with us. As well, if you wish to do so, you may also use in the same way our letter of November on the IS trend in the U.S. (We also look forward to seeing your comments on our views on the resolution on imperialism and the oppressed countries from your founding resolutions. )
. You also expressed interest in our views on your answer to us on the study of the Soviet Union. We thank you for sending us your article in English. Now that we have received it, we shall give our views on it. Our reply will probably be in the May issue of the Supplement, which should be published in a few weeks.
. We are quite concerned that your reply indicates that you are through with the study of Soviet history. It indicates that you have already adopted your conclusions, and that you regard everything else as mere matters of detail. And your conclusions are basically the old answers of Cliff, from decades ago.
. We believe that the previous views in the movement, including those of Cliff, are inadequate and flawed at best. It is the task of revolutionary Marxist-Leninists to develop a deeper analysis, based on a deeper study of Soviet reality and a deeper view of Marxist-Leninist theory. It seems to us that you have taken up a series of general phrases that appear to answer everything because they really answer nothing.
. It is easy to talk about the world market. And it is easy to cast aside all the difficult questions of revolutionary tactics with the hope that everything will be so much simpler in the more developed countries. It is easy, but it means casting aside the serious questions of revolutionary theory and tactics.
. (And it is hard for me to understand what type of advice you are giving to the less developed countries in the world. On one hand, you advocate that they should have socialist revolution immediately, independent of their particular conditions, because it is the era of imperialism. But then, when you deal with Lenin's transition measures, you say that, after all, the more developed countries may be able to avoid them. )
. But we will be setting out our views on this in detail soon.
* * *
. I was excited to see the material on recent events in Sweden. The crisis in Sweden is of great interest to the rest of the world, because of Sweden's position as the alleged model of capitalistic socialism. It comes just in time to be an ironic comment on the pro-capitalist forces in Eastern Europe, some of whom say they want to follow the Swedish model. We are always interested in receiving news and comments on the development of politics in Sweden, the split in the social-democratic ranks, the developing ferment among the Swedish workers, and the way you are dealing with this.
. But your tactics with respect to the "Workers' List" concern us. So far we have mainly seen the English translation you sent us of the leading article in Red Dawn #2/90 "For the renewal of the workers' movement -- for a party of the rank-and-file", your comments in your letter, and the copy of Nybyggaren, which however we can't really read because it is in Swedish. Perhaps you have other leaflets. But we fear that your tactics may be mistaken and a degeneration from your handling of the Dala uprising a few years ago. Here I express my own concerns, as this letter is written before we have had a chance to ponder this in the Central Committee.
. You write, correctly, that it would be wrong to simply stand aside from the current developments, and that it would mean letting the bureaucrats betray the movement as they please. We agree. We thought you were correct to deal with the Dala Uprising earlier, and that you are correct to deal with the Workers' List today. The question, however, is how to deal with such events.
. With respect to the Dala Uprising, we thought that you were correct to be enthusiastic about the signs of cracks in the social-democratic hegemony over the workers' movement. And, it seems to me, you are correct today to be enthusiastic about the deepening crisis in social-democracy.
. But at the same time, one must tell the workers the truth about what is happening, and not simply paint the present events in dark, deep, wonderful red colors.
. It seems that you tried to present this truth in your articles on the Dala Uprising. In 1988, for example, we reprinted in the April 1988 Supplement the lead article from Red Dawn, #2/1988 "Wake the Dala Uprising Up". Along with its enthusiasm, it openly talked of the limitations of the Dala Uprising as well. This criticism was in your article itself, and not just in the explanatory material which you sent us in a letter. We don't know how effectively you were able to deal with various of the concrete issues needed in criticizing the trade union leaders. We have no way of judging what particular issues came up among the workers in the Dala Uprising. And it seemed that your criticism of the limitations of the Dala leadership was rather general. But we found your approach interesting. And it seemed to establish a framework in which you could gradually make your criticism of left social-democracy more particular and more concrete.
. This time you write to us in your letter about left social-democracy, the nature of the illusions held by workers even as they break with the official social-democrats, etc. Your views on these matters were interesting. But this type of view should also have been in your article in Red Dawn, and not just in your letter. Instead your article, on the whole, paints a wonderful picture that this the Workers' List may be the party of the rank-and-file, ready-made!
. It is true that you say in your article that "This. . . does not mean that it is just to swim with the current, and. . . everything will be just fine. " And you say that "the Workers' List. . . has two sides:. . . the other is the ability of reformism to turn away such a thing by leading it off into a blind alley. "
. But what is this reformism which your article refers to? What does it have to do with the leaders of the Workers' List? What does it have to do with the views of the workers inside the Workers' List? Your article leaves things vague.
. And why couldn't the article discuss directly that many workers are reproaching the social-democrats from a social-democratic standpoint? Why couldn't the article point out the positive aspects (disillusionment with official social-democracy) and the negative aspects of this level of consciousness? Shouldn't this article, and other articles as well, take up the particular issues which inflame the workers against the social-democrats, and agitate on them? And the articles could not only attack the official social-democrats, but also contrast the left social-democratic stands on these issues versus the stand of class struggle and Marxism-Leninism.
. It is true that you end the article with an alternative facing the Workers' List. "Should it deal with things like wage and tax policy, energy policy, the EEC question, etc. first and foremost, or should it rather put forward a number of moderately radical `small issues', like drugs, crime, culture, environment etc. in its focus?"
. This seems like a weak way of criticizing the left social-democrats. Presumably the real contrast is between reformist posturing on these issues and a real struggle. And this contrast should be sharp on the "big issues" as well as the "little issues". But you make the contrast which issues are raised. Perhaps there is an issue of reformism diverting everything to "small issues", but I don't think the article handles this well. An ordinary reader might well think that the main difference with the left social-democrats is supposed to be that they care about, say, the environment and you don't. Yet Red Dawn has in the past dealt with the environment. Environmental issues are one of the issues raised in the East European events, and elsewhere around the world. True, Sweden may be cleaner than either the U.S. or Eastern Europe, but aren't the environment and workplace poisoning still an issue? Crime may well be much less of an issue in Sweden than here. But in the U.S., there is a huge growth of repression in the name of fighting drugs and crime. And this is a valid, and indeed necessary, subject of political agitation.
. As well, in your letter you say that radical workers are turning towards political solutions out of a certain disillusion with the prospects of militant industrial struggle. This seems like a complex phenomenon. On one hand, some workers may come to see that it isn't enough to simply wage the struggle the old way, but a bit more militantly. But on the other hand, what is political struggle if it isn't based on putting forward the spirit of the militant class action of the workers? Your letter talks, in this connection, of the opportunity of "raising the level of the struggle", although it also talks of the danger of electoralist schemes. I am interested to know more concretely what your analysis of this is. It seems to me that this type of issue could also be discussed openly in Red Dawn.
. Overall, I worry that you are having difficulty in dealing with the concrete exposure of the left social-democrats. At the same time, you write us that you expect that the Congress of this group will take up wrong views, and that you will then leave the Workers' List. This looks like replacing open discussion before the masses of the political situation, with maneuvering. Is it really necessary, when being enthusiastic about the new developments, to write as if the Workers' List may directly vote wonderful positions, and that one could simply rally behind it? Or is the idea that if the Workers' List doesn't vote such positions, then one shouldn't deal with it? Is one dealing with the Workers' List out of the hope that it may be the ready-made new rank-and-file party? Or is one dealing with it because a section of left-ward moving masses are in the Workers' List?
. You write of the Workers' List as if it might indeed be the rank-and-file party of the workers, and meanwhile you are planning to walk out of it. No wonder you don't discuss these tactics in Red Dawn. Isn't this the type plan that one can't admit openly before the masses?
. Furthermore, when you talk of winning people over from the "Workers' List", the main thing you mention is winning them to the "united socialists". This does not seem to be a rank-and-file motion among workers just stirring to life. Instead you describe it as a coalition among left groups, which is just what the program you sent us indicates. (Thank you for sending the English translation of the program, and the issue of their paper. We appreciate such materials, and they are helpful to us. ) The program doesn't indicate what movements the organization deals with or how it approaches various key Swedish issues, but instead is a general left compromise manifesto. It almost looks like you regard the United Socialists as basically the party on behalf of which you are working in the Workers' List.
. In any case, there is little doubt that the Morenoite trotskyists regard it that way. In several countries, the Morenoite trotskyist trend has tried to found parties in precisely this way. They call for the united efforts of several organizations on such particular issue. At first, they present this simply as a joint effort on a particular issue, whether an election campaign or a general campaign on some issue. Then they try to convert the resulting organization into a party. And the program of the "United Socialists" appears like it is more interested in forging a platform for such an attempt than to rally the workers on particular issues against social-democracy.
* * *
. I also wonder how your current tactics may relate to your theoretical description of tactics in your documents of the founding congress of the MLL of Sweden. In the resolution on communist mass work you write that:
"Usually, this cannot be done mainly by directly frontal assaults, since such a thing tends to result in isolation even from the most militant forces of the class. It is always the class enemy that is the main enemy; it is against it that the pungency is to be directed, in line with the demands of the workers, while treacherous forces are exposed and condemned in relation to that. This, in its turn, is possible only insofar as communists put forward such slogans and methods, which in practice differ fundamentally from those of the reformists, by emphasizing and working for the class independence and organization from below of the struggle. " (emphasis as in the original)
. It is very true that one should expose how the reformists betray the struggle against the enemies of the working class. It is very true that the communists must put forward such slogans and methods which differ fundamentally from the class collaborationism of the reformists and revisionists.
. But did your resolution also mean that one should usually refrain from openly naming the reformists? Did it mean that one should usually not "assault" them directly in articles for circulation among the mass of workers, for fear of being isolated? Did it mean that it is sufficient to put forward various slogans and methods, such as organization from below, without pointing out (or without doing much to point out) that these methods are opposed by reformism and revisionism and that the workers must develop a trend opposed to the reformist trends? Did it mean that practical demands could be regarded as replacing the struggle against opportunism, if these demands could be said to be different from these put forward by reformism and opportunism? And what would this mean in Sweden, where the reformists and social-democrats are one of the main factions of the bourgeoisie?
. In fact, there are those who do argue that it is not necessary to directly confront the reformist trends. For example, the RWL (Revolutionary Workers' League) trotskyists in the U.S. sometimes argue that way. This is the way they put a red cover on their practice of trying to merge with the apologists of the bourgeois-led organizations in the women's movement. We have written about this issue with regard to the recent Detroit conference on health clinic defense work.
. In general, trotskyists here in the U.S. are willing to criticize this or that betrayal of the union bureaucrats, but they still stake everything on the larger reformist-led organizations, including the reformist-led unions. Anyone who doesn't follow them in this is committing the crime of "third period" politics. Ironically, these trotskyists use methods similar to those championed by the Seventh Congress of the CI in 1935, while at the same time they say they are against "popular frontism" and the 7th CI Congress. Indeed, the pro-Soviet revisionists call opposition to Seventh Congress-style politics as "trotskyism", while the trotskyists call our opposition to 7th CI-style politics . . ."Stalinist" politics of the "third period".
. We have written on these issues repeatedly in the Supplement. We had a polemical exchange with the trotskyist "Bolshevik Tendency" (BT) where BT raised the same accusations against us as your letter says the IS trend does. (If you wish, we can send you both additional copies of the Supplement on BT, and xeroxes of BT's articles themselves. )
. Indeed, this talk of an "incomplete break with Stalinism" because of adherence to "third period" politics sounds like it was taken word-for-word from BT, and yet it is from the IS tendency. It seems it isn't so easy to find the difference between "dogmatic trotskyism" (like the BT) and the IS tendency as you think.
. (This convergence of views between "dogmatic trotskyism" and the IS tendency also holds, incidentically, for the slogan "military, not political support". We had written denouncing BT on this issue long before we wrote about your use of this term. We showed, among other things, how BT made use of the slogan "military, not political support" for supporting blood-stained crimes by the Soviet revisionists. But, on the other hand, the "dogmatic trotskyists" of the BT probably wouldn't speculate on supporting the Iranian hangmen. It is the "non-dogmatic" IS tendency which applied the slogan of "military, not political support" to the bloody Khomeini regime. )
. In your letter, you write that an ISO cadre says that we have not broken with Stalinism completely as we are "diehard adherents of the third period". You don't write how you view this statement. After all, you too hold that we have not broken with Stalinism completely. Do you also think we are "diehard adherents of the third period"?
. Actually, we have written in the Supplement our views both of the "third period" and of present-day tactics. We have an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the CI between the Sixth Congress and the turn in line of the mid-1930's. The standard trotskyist denunciation in the U.S. (shared by "dogmatic trotskyists" and the "nondogmatic" IS tendency) of the "third period" and of us as being "diehard adherents of the third period" actually reflects their shallow understanding of the errors of the Seventh Congress and their wrong view of united-front tactics.
* * *
. You write that we shouldn't judge the IS tendency by a single branch of it. But your letter itself seems to confirm many of our criticisms of the IS tendency, and it indicates that various of the negative features of the American section of the IS tendency are shared by the tendency generally.
. And it seems that various of the bad stands of the IS tendency are general ones. When the IS tendency speculated on the Khomeini regime as a bastion of anti-imperialism, this wasn't just some American aberration. This was the British SWP.
. When the IS tendency today speculates on the bourgeois forces in Eastern Europe, this isn't just some American aberration. It is the British SWP.
. You raised the question of party-building in your letter. You say that the IS tendency is free of "the typical trotskyite project-making in order to avoid Leninist party-building by means of all kinds of short-cuts". This is an interesting sentence, but I don't know what you are referring to. It would be helpful if you could describe in more detail what contrast you are drawing here between the IS tendency and the "dogmatic trotskyists".
. We note, for one thing, that you are involved with the Morenoite trotskyists in the "United Socialists". As I mentioned above, it is most likely that the Morenoites are interested in the "United Socialists" as a scheme for founding a new party.
. Meanwhile the British SWP has published various works on party building that denigrate the Leninist theory of the party. In your comments about us, you denounce the raving anti-communist historian Schapiro for tracing back the degeneration of the CPSU to the split between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and to Lenin's What is to be done? Are you aware that Tony Cliff also does this? See his article "Trotsky on substitutionism", which appeared in the journal International Socialism in Autumn 1960 and was reprinted in his book Neither Washington nor Moscow/Essays on revolutionary socialism in 1982. Cliff, in his article, endorsed Trotsky's denounciation of Leninist views on party organization of 1903-4. He wrote that "Quite early in his political activity, when only 24 years old [i.e. in 1903 or 4], Trotsky prophesied that Lenin's conception of party organization must lead to a situation in which the party would `substitute itself for the working classes',. . . "
. Cliff admitted that "To Lenin's type of centralized party made up of professional revolutionaries, Trotsky counterposed a `broadly based party' on the model of the Western European Social Democratic parties. "
. Nevertheless Cliff added that "In Trotsky's words about the danger of `substitutionism' inherent in Lenin's conception of party organization, and his plea against uniformity, one can see his prophetic genius, his capacity to look ahead, to bring into a unified system every facet of life. "
. True, Cliff's blunt formulations against Leninism as the source of substitutionism are toned down in other writings. The IS tendency and Cliff himself often write more diplomatically elsewhere, while continuing to oppose Lenin's views on party-building. They want to keep up the pretense of support for Leninism, while opposing the Leninist views.
. For example, another British IS tendency writer on party-building is John Molyneux, who wrote Marxism and the Party. (It was first published in 1978, and Molyneux gives "special thanks. . . to Tony Cliff for his many valuable criticisms and suggestions and for his work as editor. . . ") Molyneux criticizes What is to be done?, and opposes various of its key theses. He empties the book of its content and then claims to regard it as an important advance against "fatalism". However, even to keep up the pretense of support for Leninism, Molyneux is forced to backtrack on Trotsky's views. He hides Trotsky's attachment to the organizational methods of the Western social-democratic parties, and instead implies that Trotsky was one of the few who really saw through them.
. So with respect to party-building too, it is not a matter of some local deviation by the American branch of the IS tendency. It is a matter of the theoretical framework by the most authoritative representatives of the IS tendency, like Cliff and the British SWP. This framework denounces the Leninist views on party-building.
* * *
. On a different subject. We thank you for the high assessment you expressed of us in the article on the tenth anniversary of the founding of our Party. As well, we have read your article on our "Tasks of Workers' Communism During the Collapse of Revisionism".
. You say that you agree with everything but our denunciation of trotskyism. But how can this be, when you are wondering if our tactics are flawed as "third period" politics? What happened to the disagreement between us over whether there can be stages in the revolution? Or the various other disagreements we now have on tactics and strategy? Or the disagreements on transitional steps in the construction of socialism?
. The one objection you raise to the "Tasks of Workers' Communism During the Collapse of Revisionism" concerns its denunciation of trotskyism and Cliff. It is surprising to me that you condemn our denunciation of Cliff as allegedly sectarian and opposed to debate. We have repeatedly denounced Trotskyism over the years, including the IS tendency. And as we developed our criticism of the Seventh Congress of the CI and other historical work, we deepened our criticism of trotskyism. How has it now become sectarian to repeat this denunciation?
. How can it be sectarian for us to denounce Cliff, in a manifesto to be considered by other revolutionary Marxist-Leninists? If that is sectarian, then isn't it sectarian for you to praise Cliff and to put a picture of Trotsky on the cover of your paper, when you present this as the stand of revolutionary Marxism-Leninism?
. You say that we only wrote briefly on Cliff in our manifesto. That's true. It is a short manifesto of general views. If it is brief, that its virtue. But brief as what we wrote on this in the manifesto, you don't deal with the content of it. And you haven't dealt with the various other criticisms of Cliff and trotskyism.
. As far as we know, you have not dealt in Red Dawn with embarrassing facts about the IS trend and Cliff. You seem to intend to go into some of these things in the future, which will be a good thing. I assume this is why you ask if you can reprint our letter on Cliff's pamphlet. But up to now, when you are already considering calling yourself part of the IS tendency, you haven't done so.
. For example, you wrote us previously about your contradiction with IS over the question of the possibility of "military but not political support" for the hangman Islamic regime in Iran. But you didn't write in Red Dawn about this. Instead you simply adopted the phrase "military but not political support" without any open consideration of the relation of this phrase to IS's error on Iran. Instead of discussing why the IS tendency fell into the mud on Iran, you wrote in Red Dawn that IS was so much better with respect to the oppressed countries than what others had achieved.
. The IS trend internationally is flirting with bourgeois trends in the Eastern European movement that you denounce in Red Dawn. But Red Dawn doesn't mention this or explain why this takes place.
. And take the question of Cliff as a theoretician. Cliff is by no means a follower of Leninism. He is opposed to Leninist views on the party, on the stages of revolution, on the democratic revolution, on the peasantry, on the transition to socialism,. . . And he is a shameless distorter about what Lenin said when it suits his purpose. But Red Dawn hasn't dealt with this.
. Your letter to us is full of interesting and valuable material. But what are we to make of the difference between what it says and what Red Dawn says? You say that the Danish part of the IS tendency is the really good part, but Red Dawn promotes the whole IS tendency. It does not say that the Danish ones are the best, while the other ones have various difficulties.
. To me, this raises the issue of whether there is a tendency to convert Red Dawn into an advertising sheet for Cliff and trotskyism. Each step in this conversion seems to trample on your own best features, and put another roadblock on the path to progress.
. One article in Red Dawn discusses whether to join the IS tendency. I don't know what's in it. Does it deal with the difficulties with the IS trend openly? Does it set forward a plan for judging what the IS trend stands for? Or does it simply assure the reader that the IS trend has accomplished more than anyone [else]? Does it simply present IS in glorified fashion, while saying that everyone else from the 60's and 70's were allegedly simple occupants of the "Maoist-Stalinist" hell who can't even be called anti-revisionists?
. Unless the issues are studied, progress cannot be made. You have to grapple with the actual features of the IS tendency, and with the actual views on trotskyism we and others have put forward in detail elsewhere. Progress requires hard work. Without that work, one can't get beyond general phrases.
. You say that our manifesto is unconvincing on Cliff. It seems to me, that it actually did accomplish something on Cliff. It seems you didn't take seriously our opposition to trotskyism, and our outrage at what trotskyism has done. It is as if you didn't care about the fights between the revolutionary stand and trotskyism that have been going on. I don't know on what basis you cast them aside. Perhaps if they didn't concern the IS trend directly, but perhaps the BT or other groups, you cast such controversies aside because IS is the "nondogmatic trotskyists". And if they concerned the American branch of IS, well, that is only one branch. And so on. But you seem to take this denunciation more seriously now that it is in the "Tasks of Workers' Communism During the Collapse of Revisionism". That is a start. I hope it leads into a deeper examination of the issues at stake.
. If you continue with the trotskyists, whether IS or Morenoite, it will be a tremendous political blunder. It will undermine your work, and block your progress. It has helped stop your interest in the study of Soviet history and in Lenin's views on socialism, and it will undermine other fields of your work. I don't think that all the difficulties in your work stem from Cliff and IS -- there are other features from traditional Swedish leftism that you have been trying to overcome. But it seems to me that Cliff has reinforced a tendency to answer questions with easy but useless phrases. Cliff and the IS tendency have provided you with the illusion of food, rather than real food. And sooner or later, this illusion will lead to starvation.
. I hope to hear more from you. And I hope to hear that your work surmounts all obstacles and moves forward. Please keep us informed of the situation in Sweden in general, and your work and views in particular.
[. . . ]
A member of the CC
Marxist-Leninist Party, USA
. The immediate group of activists that took the decision to found the American Communist Workers' Movement (M-L) (the predecessor of our Party) first looked around at the different trends that existed. They had personal experience with some trends, including various trotskyists groups, and had seen the injurious and undermining efforts of trotskyism on the movement. With respect to some organizations with which they had no experience, they wrote and asked for their views.
. It was because of the inadequacies and opportunism of the other trends that these comrades decided that a new trend, a new organization had to be founded. Many of the things we said or did may seem outlandish from our present viewpoint, and indeed they were. But we stood for developing the revolutionary organization of the mass movement and of the proletariat as best we could.
. I raise this so that you can understand why we don't see the IS trend as some wonderful new recruits to the world left. I don't see their views as some new revelation but as the old trash we have fought from long ago. This doesn't come from prejudices and lies inherited from decades ago, but from our own struggle, from our own theoretical work as well as from our study of the Leninist principles. Both in their styles of work in the practical movement, and in their theoretical considerations, the IS and other Trotskyist trends represent not our comrades, but opponents, just as the revisionists and social-democrats are. (Naturally, this has to be dealt with as a struggle of political trends, not as sectarian warfare. )
. There has of course been a lot of nonsense said about trotskyism by various trends. The revisionists have called everything to the left of them "trotskyist", and they have a stock denunciation. But when the revolutionary communists replace the revisionist trash about trotskyism with consideration of what their actual experience with the trotskyists is, and with their own consideration of trotskyist theory, I think that the case against trotskyism will be pretty damning. Whether the revolutionary communists come originally out of various traditional organizations, or originated outside such direct links (such as we did), they both face the task of this struggle against trotskyism.
. For our part, we are going to fight the anti-party and anti-Leninist social-democratic trash from Cliff and others to the end. In our view, the fight against Trotskyism is one of the essential tasks of the world communist left today. And I worry that your fascination with the IS trend detracts you from the serious work of making a real study of Marxist theory and a real analysis of the current vexed problems in the world. As well, I worry that your definition of yourself as coming from the Maoist and Stalinist background, besides being an implied denigration of the mass struggles of the 60s and 70s, means denigrating your own capacity to develop revolutionary views and practices. The Cliff trend doesn't represent a break-away from the established trotskyist trends, but it is an old, established trend, whose history shows its corruption many times over.
. So much for now, I look forward to seeing the CLN further develop its views on the vexed questions of the world movement.
[. . . ]
Member of the Central Committee
Last modified: March 9, 2006.