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Trotskyism

From Academic Kids

Template:NPOV Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. The term is sometimes used more loosely to denote various political currents claiming a tradition of Marxist opposition to both Stalinism and capitalism.

Trotsky advocated proletarian revolution as set out in his theory of "permanent revolution", and he argued that in countries where the bourgeois-democratic revolution had not triumphed already (in other words, in places that had not yet implemented a capitalist democracy, such as Russia before 1917), it was necessary that the proletariat make it permanent by carrying out the tasks of the social revolution (the "socialist" or "communist" revolution) at the same time, in an uninterrupted process. Trotsky believed that a new socialist state would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world unless socialist revolutions quickly took hold in other countries as well. This theory was accepted by Lenin and the Bolshevik party and guided their conception of the Russian Revolution as part of the world revolution. The Stalinist faction within the Bolshevik Party invented the theory "socialism in one country" in 1924 in order to justify making deals with imperialist countries and in order to advance their own position and conception of Marxism by attacking the theories of the current group of leaders, above all Trotsky.

On the political spectrum of Marxism, Trotskyists are considered to be on the left. They supported democratic rights in the USSR, opposed political deals with the imperialist powers, and advocated a spreading of the revolution throughout Europe and the East. The Left Opposition, led by Trotsky, grew in influence throughout the 20s, until Stalin used force against them in 1928, sending Trotsky into internal exile and jailing his supporters. The Left Opposition continued to work in secret within the Soviet Union, Trotsky was eventually exiled to Turkey, then Norway, and finally to Mexico.

In 1937, Stalin unleashed a political terror against all the remaining 'Old Bolsheviks' who had played key roles in the October Revolution in 1917. He also killed many of the Soviet Union's leading generals including Tukachevsky in a purge because they had served under Trotsky when he was the commander of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. Still not satisfied, he tried Trotsky in absentia, and killed almost all his relatives, finally assassinating Trotsky in Mexico in 1940.

Before his death, however, in 1938 Trotsky established the Fourth International. He said that only the Fourth International could lead the world revolution, and that it would need to be built in opposition to both the capitalists and the Stalinists.

The Fourth International went through a large split in 1953. The International Committee of the Fourth International was led by James P. Cannon, the American who was Trotsky's closest collaborator in building the international Left Opposition and later founding the Fourth International. The International Sectariat of the Fourth International was led by Michel Pablo, who argued that Trotskyists didn't need to fight for power as Trotsky had argued, but had to make deals with Stalinists and nationalists, whom Pablo's followers considered the 'real movement'.

After 1928, Stalin used his power in the USSR to gain bureaucratic control over the various Communist Parties through out the world, and expelled Trotskyists from their ranks. At this point, inner party democracy, which was at the foundation of Bolshevism, was destroyed within the various Communist Parties. Anyone who disagreed with the party line was a Trotskyist and a fascist. The Communist Parties then began to support capitalist governments, such as the CPUSA which to this day advocates a vote for the Democratic Party. Stalin did this to show that he was not a threat to capitalist rule and so hoped to avoid an invasion of the imperialist powers, as happened after the 1917 revolution.

Trotsky later developed the theory that the Russian workers' state had become a "bureaucratically degenerated workers' state". Capitalism had not been restored, and rational planning of the economy, instituted under Lenin, was still in effect, but it was no longer democratically controlled and so could not be called socialism. Trotskyists defended the Soviet Union against attack from imperialist powers, but called for a political revolution within the USSR to restore socialist democracy. He argued that if the working class did not take power away from the Stalinist bureaucracy, the bureaucracy would restore capitalism in order to enrich itself. According to the ICFI, this is exactly what happened in the form of Glasnost and Perestroika.

The similar Eastern European communist governments which came into being after World War II without a revolution were later referred to as "deformed workers' states" by some Trotskyists. The ISFI argued that their creation showed the potential of the Stalinist bureaucracy to be progressive. Pablo argued that humanity was entering into a period of centuries of deformed workers states.

The ICFI disagreed, arguing that the Soviet Union took over these countries because of the military results of World War II, and instituted nationalized property relations only to further their own interests and protect the countries from incursion by the West. According to the ICFI, the ISFI's prognosis meant that there was no point in building Trotskyist parties if they were going to be resigned to centuries of Stalin-style deformed workers states anyway. The ICFI proved correct when in the 1980s, the Soviet Union began to collapse and the Eastern European regimes restored capitalism. Even earlier, they pointed to the uprisings of the working class in Eastern European countries as evidence that these regimes were not progressive and could potentially be overthrown by the working class.

Many of Trotsky's criticisms of Stalinism were described in his book, The Revolution Betrayed (http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1936-rev/index.htm).

Expressed in derogatory language, they are described by their ideological opponents as "left deviationists" ("levye uklonisty", in Russian). Some Marxists who oppose Trotskyism regard it as being in the service of the right because, in their view, it is not an effective route to socialism. Trotskyists are mostly ignored by historians and politicians except when they faced police repression and slander. It is unusual for them to get a fair hearing of their views.

"Trotskyist" has been used by Stalinists to mean a traitor; in the Spanish Civil War, being called a "Trot", "Trotskyist" or "Trotskyite" by the USSR-supported elements implied that the person was some sort of fascist spy or agent provocateur. George Orwell, a prominent socialist novelist, wrote about this practice in his book Homage to Catalonia and in his essay Spilling the Spanish Beans. He showed that instead of helping to fight against the fascist forces, the Stalinists did them a great favor by rooting out all the Trotskyists in Spain and then pulling out their forces, allowing Franco to win. In his book Animal Farm, an allegory for the Russian Revolution, he represented Trotsky with the character "Snowball" and Stalin with the character "Napoleon."

Stalin pulled out of Spain in order to make a rapproachment with England and France. He later signed a deal with Hitler. This proved to many people that Stalin was selling out the revolution in order to defend an elite stratum within the Soviet Union, as Trotsky had been saying.

At the time of the founding the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism was a mass political current in Vietnam, Ceylon and slightly later Bolivia. There was also a substantial Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the Chinese Communist movement, Chen Duxiu, amongst its number. Wherever Stalinists gained power, they made it a priority to hunt down Trotskyists and treated them as the worst of enemies. Thus these movements had to deal with official repression as well as the violent attacks and treachery of the Stalinists.

After 1945 Trotskyism was smashed as a mass movement in Vietnam and marginalised in a number of other countries. However, in Ceylon and Bolivia Trotskyist parties became the mass workers parties prior to experiencing defeats and setbacks at a later stage. In both countries, however, there remains a large scale presence of competing Trotskyist groups. In recent years Trotskyism has also developed large scale support in a number of lesser developed countries in Latin America where it can count on some tens of thousands of supporters in both Argentina and Brazil. Elsewhere in the Third World support for Trotskyist ideas is more diffuse and generally confined to intellectuals but can be found in a diluted form among some sections of various progressive movements as in South Africa.

No governing Communist party or successful Communist revolution has to this date professed Trotskyism, although Trotskyism's influence in some recent major social upheavals is very evident.

Many developed countries have several different organisations which claim allegiance to Trotskyism and most are linked to one or another of the various international Trotskyist tendencies. Perhaps the largest such tendency is the United Secretariat of the Fourth international, which derives from the ISFI. It is led by the Ligue communiste revolutionnaire of France. Many Trotskyists criticize this group as opportunist. This is because they make alliances with pro-capitalist parties, such as Lula's PT in Brazil, and the LSSP in Sri Lanka.

Also in France, it is rivalled by Lutte Ouvrire and the Courant Communiste Internationaliste of Pierre Lambert. Though not as large, the Socialist Equality Party of the International Committee of the Fourth International also has a membership in France. In France's 2002 election, candidates calling themselves Trotskyist gained a total of 10% of the vote. In the run-off election, the LCR called for a vote for Chirac, the conservative politician. The Socialist Equality Party called for a working-class abstention from the vote, since it only provided voters with a choice between the right-wing Chirac and the extreme right Le Pen.

Each of the latter groups also maintain their own international tendencies as does the Socialist Workers Party, the largest Trotskyist group in Britain, which leads the International Socialist tendency from which the International Socialist Organization in the United States, the largest such group in that country, split some years ago. The International Socialist Organization supported Ralph Nader, an anti-socialist candidate in both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Britain's SWP supported George Galloway, an establishment Labor politician, in his campaign under the Respect Coalition, which included Islamist groups. Like Nader's campaign was meant to influence the Democrats, the Respect Coalition means to push the discredited Labor Party to the left rather than replace it with a party truly representing the working class. Both Nader and Galloway accept money from right-wing groups to help their campaign, Nader from Republicans and Galloway from Arab nationalist governments.

The International Committee of the Fourth International led by the Socialist Equality Parties publish the World Socialist Website. [1] (http://www.wsws.org) The chair of their editorial board is David North. Theirs is the most widely read Trotskyist news publication on the internet. They insist on running independendly of pro-capitalist politicians, running their own candidates in the United States, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Germany in recent elections.

Also of importance is the Committee for a Workers' International led by the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) and the Committee to Refound the Fourth International led by Partido Obrero in Argentina. Another large, primarily Latin American based, tendency is the International Workers League led by the Unified Socialist Workers Party of Brazil.

Another grouping is the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), formerly known as International Spartacist Tendency), led by James Robertson. Also noteworthy, if only because it calls for a Fifth rather than a Fourth International, is the League for the Fifth International led by the British Workers Power) group.


See also

External links

de:Trotzkismus eo:Trockismo fr:Trotskisme nl:Trotskisme ja:トロツキズム pl:Trockizm fi:Trotskilaisuus sv:Trotskism zh:托洛斯基派

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