Written: 1 January, 1955
Source: The Struggle to Reunify the Fourth International Volume I: The First Parity Commission and Peng Shuzi’s “Pabloism Reviewed”. Published as part of the Education for Socialists series of bulletins by the (US) Socialist Workers Party
Transcription/Proofing: David Walters and Andy Pollack
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Public Domain: Peng Shuzi Internet Archive 2005. This work is completely free to copy and distribute. Please cite the Marxists Internet’s Peng Shuzi Internet Archive if the contents herein are reproduced
[Transcriber's note: This letter is a part of a series of correspondence between Peng Shuzi and other leaders of the Fourth International. The letters deal with the political crisis in the Fourth International that started with the expulsion of the majority of the French Section of the Fourth International by the leader of the then-unified Fourth International, Michel Pablo. The series of letters dealing with this and other issues affecting the internal situation inside the Fourth International are part of the document cited in the pubishing information above.]
Pablo’s revisionism and liquidationism have not only caused irreconcilable political oppositions within the Fourth International, but have provoked splits on a wide scale organizationally. This is an unprecedented disaster in the history of our movement. Therefore, before we start with the reunification of our movement at the present time, it is necessary to have a complete and thorough review and clarification on this question, in order to reunify our International on a solid ideological basis of orthodox Trotskyism.
Prior to our review of Pablo’s revisionism, we have to state the two following points:
(i) There have already been numerous documents published criticizing Pabloism, such as the Letter of the S.W.P. to the World Trotskyists, the reply to the “Rise and Decline of Stalinism” submitted by the L.S.S.P., a series of articles in the Fourth International, in the Militant and La Verité and a number of documents published in the internal bulletins of the I.C., the French P.C.I., etc. All these documents have made detailed exposures and criticisms of Pablo’s revisionism on the political plane, and his bureaucratism in organizational practices. Hence it is not the intention of this document to repeat the criticism formulated in the past; it is simply an attempt to make a synthesis of these documents and articles, and to recount systematically a selection of the fundamental conceptions of Pabloism and their serious consequences, and to help all comrades for a further discussion.
(ii) The manner in which Pablo’s ideas infiltrated into our movement is different from that of all previous revisionists (like Burnham, Shachtman, etc.); instead of being open, frank and systematic, it is camouflaged, piecemeal and ambiguous or paradoxical. Especially when he is confronted with reproaches or denunciation, he often tries to defend himself, or simply deny what he said, by sophism or sometimes even by borrowing certain phrases from Trotsky, to deceive comrades. Within the limits of the available space, this article cannot expose and criticize all Pablo’s sophistry, evasions and self-contradictions one by one, but will review the logical development of his main ideas, and particularly those more thoroughly elaborated by his supporters and their expression in action.
CENTURIES OF DEFORMED WORKERS’ STATES
In 1949 for the first time, Pablo introduced into the open his notion of “centuries of deformed workers’ states.” (See, “On the Class Nature of Yugoslavia,” p. 3, published in the October, 1949 issue of the International Information Bulletin.) He came back to this idea once again in the beginning of 1951 (see “Whither Are We Going?” published in the Feb.-April issue of Quatrieme Internationale, pp. 46-47). As he encountered criticisms and attacks from some comrades (such as “Whither Pablo?” by Bleibtreu) he devoted another article to defending this conception (see “On the Duration and Nature of the Transition from Capitalism to Socialism” in the June 1951 issue of the International Information Bulletin). This sufficiently shows that this notion is not only the point of departure of his deviation from Trotskyism towards revisionism and liquidationism, but the “theoretical foundation” of his whole revisionism. All the revisionist and liquidationist conceptions which he and his followers later elaborated, and their actions, are derived logically from this fundamental conception or theory. Therefore, it deserves our particular examination.
In reality, these “deformed workers’ states” were the product of an exceptional historical condition, that is: the first workers’ state created as the result of the October Revolution was isolated, on account of the economic backwardness of Russia itself and the lack of prompt support from victorious proletarian revolutions in the western capitalist countries; hence the formation of a parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy which usurped the political power of the working class and transformed the proletarian dictatorship into a Bonapartist dictatorship, while preserving the nationalized property relations created by the October Revolution. Therefore, Trotsky called it a “degenerated workers’ state.” Since the Second World War, the revolutionary march of the proletariat in the western capitalist countries being frustrated (e.g. in France and Italy) thanks also to Stalinist betrayals, the so-called “People’s Democracies” were constituted in Eastern Europe by the Kremlin bureaucracy mainly through military and bureaucratic methods, depriving the workingclass of political power right from the beginning in these countries and then excluding the bourgeoisie from power step by step and expropriating their properties to the State. These states, in the traditional Trotskyist analysis, are characterized as “deformed workers’ states.”
But neither the degenerated state nor the deformed workers’ states can prolong their existence for several centuries, since they are merely “temporary and transitional phenomena” (in the words of Trotsky) in the first phase of the transition from capitalism to socialism, owing to certain exceptional conditions. Once these exceptional conditions, as the backwardness of the Soviet economy and its isolation, for example, disappear, in other words, once the economic level of development in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries attains a level comparable to that in the advanced countries, especially in the event of the triumph of the proletarian revolution in the advanced Western countries the working class in the Soviet Union and the Eastern countries will inevitably rise in insurrections to overthrow the bureaucratic dictatorship of Stalinism and to restore or reconstruct workers’ democracy on a higher level.
To judge, as Pablo does, that the “deformed workers’ states” will survive for centuries is to admit that the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy over the Soviet Union and the buffer countries will be prolonged over a period of several centuries. It is also to admit that it will take centuries for the economic development in the Soviet Union and the buffer countries to attain the level of that in the Western capitalist countries. Even in the advanced capitalist countries, the economic development did not require several centuries. For instance, it took only about two centuries, or rather a century and a half, in the most technically advanced United States of America. And that the proletarian revolution in these advanced countries will naturally also be a matter of several centuries. This conception is a further deviation than “bureaucratic collectivism.” If this assumption were really true, our whole program of Transitional Demands would become unrealistic nonsense. What an absurd and extremely pessimistic view, entirely contrary to Trotskyist conceptions!
Now let us see how Pablo defends and justifies his pessimistic view. Referring to Marx’s assertion that communism cannot be immediately developed after the conquest of power by the proletariat, and that it will require considerable time for the “birthmarks carrying over from the womb of the old society to disappear” and citing Lenin’s words; “It is hardly to be expected that our next generation, which will be more highly developed, will effect a complete transition to socialism;” further, referring to Trotsky’s words, “the tendencies of bureaucratism, which strangles the workers’ movement in capitalist countries, would everywhere show themselves even after a proletarian revolution,” he concludes: “It therefore conforms to Trotsky’s spirit (if not to the very letter of his writings) (that the transformation of capitalism into socialism will actually take an entire historical epoch, filled with bureaucratically deformed transitional regimes, and that these inevitable bureaucratic deformations (which have basically economic causes) will disappear only to the degree that the Revolution conquers in the advanced countries and the level of the productive force reaches and surpasses that of the most advanced capitalism.” (See International Information Bulletin, July 1951, p. 11-12, emphasis in original). Then he proudly declared, “I believe that what I wrote in my two articles on the probably duration and the characteristics of the transitional period completely conforms with the real views of Trotsky on these questions” (same document, p. 12, emphasis in original; the two articles are, “On the Class Nature of Yugoslavia” and “Where Are We Going?”). That is to say, Pablo “believes” that his ideas of “centuries” of deformed workers’ states and of those “bureaucratically deformed transitional regimes” which will occupy “an entire historical epoch” “completely conform with the real views of Trotsky on these questions!”
Sophistically, Pablo has not only confused the “birthmarks” as Marx defined them and Lenin’s idea expressed in the phrase “it is hardly to be expected that our next generation . . . will effect a complete transformation to socialism” with the “deformed workers’ states.” He moreover deliberately placed on the same level and identifies the general “bureaucratic tendencies” indicated by Trotsky with the deformed workers’ states created under exceptional conditions. Yet in the same work cited by Pablo, Trotsky clearly defines the proletarian dictatorship as “a bridge between the bourgeois and the socialist society. In its very essence, therefore, it bears a temporary character, an incidental, but very essential task of the state which realizes the dictatorship consists in preparing for its dissolution” (Revolution Betrayed, p. 52). Since the proletarian dictatorship “in its very essence, bears a temporary character,” how can it be possible that in the first stage of the proletarian dictatorship, the deformed workers’ states created under exceptional conditions, owing to the backwardness of economy and isolation, could have an existence prolonged for centuries?
In his work “In Defense of Marxism” (p. 7) Trotsky writes even more precisely, “In the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet State it is not the general laws of modern society from capitalism to socialism which find expression, but a special, exceptional and temporary refraction of these laws under the conditions of a backward revolutionary country in a capitalist environment . . . Both the conditions for the omnipotence of the bureaucracy the backwardness of the country and the imperialist environment bear, however, a temporary and transitional character and must disappear with the victory of the world revolution” (emphasis added by the author of this article). In asserting that the deformed workers’ states will survive for several centuries, he is admitting nothing less than that the “bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet state” conforms to the “general laws of modern society from capitalism to socialism.” Hence, the condition that “the revolution conquers in the advanced countries and the level of productivity reaches and surpasses that of the most advanced capitalism,” as Pablo envisages himself, will necessarily take several centuries to realize.
After announcing his newly invented ultra pessimistic theory of “centuries of deformed workers’ states,” Pablo finally exhorts us in all seriousness, “And what is the practical importance of insisting so much on the probable duration and the character of the transitional period? It appears considerable to us. It is first of all a question of arming the communist cadres of our movement with a historical perspective and with clear notions of the aims to be attained so that they can master whatever is conjunctural and avoid any activist impatience or impressionism. It is also a question of rendering them capable of grasping the development of the Revolution in our epoch in its real and concrete manifestations unhampered by any formalistic thinking” (same document as quoted above, p. 12, emphasis in original). Here it is clearly demonstrated that as far back as the end of 1949, or at least in the summer of 1951, when he wrote the above quoted document, Pablo had already resolved “to arm the communist cadres of our movement with a historical perspective and with clear notions of the aims to be attained,” which were the perspective and notions of “centuries of deformed workers’ states.” We have to insist particularly on this point as we examine Pablo’s revisionism today. We shall come later to what has happened to his “communist cadres,” armed with this “historical perspective.” Now let us examine further his “real and concrete manifestation” of “the development of the Revolution in our epoch.”
The “new reality” which Pablo and his supporters stressed repeatedly later on is simply a translation or abridged form of the formula contained in the words, “development of the revolution in our epoch in its real and concrete manifestations.” For several years they have assumed that it is they who have grasped this “reality.” They have incessantly attacked others, on the ground that they have not been able to grasp it and “still live in the past” (e.g. the attacks of the Cochranites on the leadership of the SWP), on the ground of being imprisoned in “sectarianism,” etc. Therefore, we may say, if the “centuries of deformed workers’ states” is the “algebraical formula” of Pablo’s revisionism, then the “new reality” is its arithmetic content. All “realistic politics” or “new political lines” initiated by Pablo and his supporters are directly originated from this premise.
What then is this “new reality” or the “development of the revolution in our epoch in its real and concrete manifestation?” Over a long period, Pablo made merely some abstract and ambiguous descriptions of this, and did not point out concretely what he meant, and thus puzzled and confused people. Finally, under pressure of events, especially under the pressure of the situation after Stalin’s death, he displays before our eyes for the first time in the draft resolution “The Rise and Decline of Stalinism” the image of the “new reality” which he and his supporters had so long been propagating.
This draft resolution starts with: “The evolution of the Soviet Union and the world working class movement since 1917, is fundamentally determined by the dynamic of the relation of class forces on the world scale. This movement has passed through three major phases: the rise of the revolution in 1917-1923, the ebb of the world revolution in 1923-1943, and the new revolutionary rise since 1943.” According to this mechanical division into three phases, the draft resolution, having described comparatively the second phase (the rise of Stalinism amidst the ebb of the revolution) and the third phase (the new revolutionary rise), comes to the conclusion: “The fundamental conditions under which the Soviet bureaucracy and its tight grip over the Communist parties developed, namely the ebb of the revolution, the isolation of the Soviet Union and the backward condition of its economy&8212;these conditions have disappeared.” (“Rise and Decline of Stalinism,” p. 3). But this conclusion is far removed from the real state of affairs or “reality,” and the SWP has made a quite detailed criticism of it, based on indisputable objective facts. (See F.I., Sept./Oct., 1953, pp. 99 101). Here we have merely to insist on three points, as follows:
(i) The draft resolution stresses a “new revolutionary upsurge” which is limited to colonial and semicolonial countries only (e.g. Yugoslavia, China, etc.) while it completely ignores the fact that a real revolutionary upsurge is absent in the advanced capitalist countries. From the traditional Trotskyist viewpoint, only a revolutionary upsurge and victory in these advanced capitalist countries constitutes essentially the “fundamental condition” of the disintegration of Stalinism. On the other hand, the revolutionary upsurge up to its victory in the backward countries has to be understood dialectically. That is to say, while the victory of the revolution and its development in these countries (especially in China) have undoubtedly dealt a serious blow to imperialism, they have nevertheless had rather contradictory effects on the Stalinist Soviet bureaucracy. On the one hand, the tight control which the Kremlin used to have over the revolutionary movement and the Communist parties in these countries has been more or less loosened; on the other hand, the prestige and influence of Stalinism among the masses of the Soviet Union and the whole world has also been increased to a certain degree, and thus has temporarily slowed up the process of disintegration of Stalinism.
(ii) From the same traditional Trotskyist point of view, the “isolation” of the Soviet Union can be broken down only when the working class of one or several advanced countries attain a victorious revolution over capitalism. After the last world war, the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union and the victory and progress of the revolutionary movement in the backward countries have certainly eased the encirclement of the Soviet Union by the imperialists. But on the other hand, this same situation has driven all the imperialist countries to unite under the leadership of American imperialism and to establish a new encirclement round the Soviet Union and its satellites. They are, moreover, preparing an atomic war to destroy them. We cannot conceive that this encirclement and the threat of atomic war will be thoroughly removed and overcome otherwise than by the revolutionary upsurge and victory of the proletariat in the advanced countries.
(iii) Thanks to the state owned property system created by the October Revolution, the Soviet economy, having gone through several five year plans of construction, has been gradually approaching the level of the advanced capitalist countries. It has more or less modified its backward character and to a certain extent improved the standard of living of the masses and raised their cultural level. This is undoubtedly a very important element in the coming destruction of Stalinism. But on account of the distortion of the planned economy by the Stalinist bureaucracy, not only does rural economy lag far behind industry, but also light industry producing the consumer goods necessary for the masses of the people is far behind heavy industry. All these factors, plus the extravagance and waste of the privileged bureaucracy, mean that the worker and peasant masses still live in poverty and want, especially by comparison with the standard of living of the bureaucracy. Hence as Trotsky characterized it, “The scarcity of consumer goods and the universal struggle to obtain them generate a policeman who arrogates to himself the function of distribution.” (“In Defense of Marxism”, p. 7). This fundamental characteristic has been changed, not in its essence, but only quantitatively.
“Thus a sober analysis of the world situation and its development during the past decade discloses that the three objective major factors responsible for the rise of the Soviet bureaucracy have not been changed in the fundamental sense but only to a certain extent. The Kremlin bureaucracy has to operate today under new but not decisively different circumstances. Its further life span will depend on the struggle of the living forces in the world arena and in the Soviet Union over the next period and the emergence in the struggle of a Trotskyist party capable of leading the Soviet masses in insurrection against the ruling class.” (Same issue of F.I. as quoted above, p. 101). This is the only correct conclusion which corresponds to the objective “reality” of the development of the situation of the post war period.
Besides, we must point out that the extremely optimistic conclusion which Pablo derives from his analysis of the “new reality” of the post war period is apparently incompatible with his extremely pessimistic theory of “centuries of deformed workers’ states.” In fact, the former is precisely the logical development and concretization of the latter. When Pablo assures us that the “three fundamental conditions for the rise of Stalinism have disappeared,” he does not mean that the conditions for the political revolution of the working class in the Soviet Union to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorship and the revolutionary struggle for power of the working class of the world, especially in the advanced countries, have matured to the point when victory can be counted upon. On the contrary, he wants to prove that the Stalinist bureaucracy has to “cede” little by little on account of the modification of the “fundamental conditions” and under the “pressure of the masses,” to “liberalize” or “correct” itself, in order to adapt itself to the necessity of the revolution. This view obviously means an extremely pessimistic idea of the historical role of Trotskyism.
Now let us examine the “new political conclusions” concerning the strategy of our movement, which Pablo derives from his vision of the “new reality.”
“SELF REFORM” OF THE BUREAUCRACY INSTEAD OF A MASS “POLITICAL REVOLUTION”
The draft resolution on “The Rise and Decline of Stalinism” says, “Historically the Malenkov era thus signalizes the beginning of the decline of the Bonapartist dictatorship. That regime can now maintain itself only by suppressing . . . .” This is today, the Malenkov regime has to maintain itself by “concessions” or “reforms.” Therefore, in Pablo’s article, “The Post Stalin New Course,” after enumerating the various measures of concessions effected by Malenkov, he declared under the heading “Dynamic of New Turn,” “The dynamic of their concessions is in reality liquidatory of the entire Stalinist heritage in the U.S.S.R. itself, as well as in its relations with the satellite countries, with China and the communist parties. It will be no longer easy to turn back . . . . once the concessions are broadened, the march towards a real liquidation of the Stalinist regime threatens to become irresistible.” (See F.I. March-April 1953, emphasis added by the writer of this article).
Since the “march toward a real liquidation of the Stalinist regime threatens to become irresistible,” the problem remains only to be what “form” it will take. Therefore, Pablo poses the following questions in the same article, “Will it be that of an acute crisis and of violent interbureaucratic struggle between the elements who will fight for the status quo, if not for turning back, and the more and more numerous elements drawn by the powerful pressure of the masses” (same reference).
Though Pablo has not made the reply, the intention of posing the question is in itself quite evident. The L.S.S.P. has correctly appraised it as follows: “The above passage, proceeding from an over optimistic appraisal of the concessions made by the Soviet bureaucracy to the masses, raises a perspective of the real liquidation of the Stalinist regime taking place by an inter bureaucratic struggle as distinct from our traditional concept of struggle between the masses and the bureaucracy . . . . The role of the masses is that of a powerful pressure agency upon the bureaucracy. This perspective leads to an abandonment of the Trotskyist concept of the political revolution, namely the overthrow of the bureaucracy by the masses in struggle for the restoration of socialist democracy.” (Internal Bulletin of the L.S.S.P., April 1954, p. 6).
The same question has been posed by Clarke, Pablo’s close ideological collaborator, in the following manner: “Will the process take the form of an upheaval against bureaucratic rule in the U.S.S.R.? Or will concessions to the masses and the sharing of power as was the course in the English bourgeois revolution over a long period in the political struggle between the rising bourgeoisie and declining nobility gradually undermine the base of the bureaucracy? Or will the evolution be a combination of both forms? That we cannot now foresee.” (F.I. Jan.-Feb. 1953).
Like Pablo, Clarke has only posed the question and refrained from giving the answer, yet in his manner of posing the question, it is equally evident that he envisages the perspective of “the sharing of power between the bureaucracy and the masses which gradually undermines the foundations of the bureaucracy.” But “the idea advanced by Clarke that the Kremlin bureaucracy is capable of ’sharing power’ with the Soviet people challenges both the programme of the political revolution for the Soviet Union as well as the Trotskyist concept of the nature and role of this parasitic caste.” (See F.I. Sept.-Oct. 1953, p. 111, and also F.I. March-April 1953, p. 57).
In making the analogy between the “political relationship between the rising bourgeoisie and the declining nobility in the long course of the English bourgeois revolution” and “the sharing of power between the Soviet bureaucracy and the masses which undermines gradually the foundations of the bureaucracy,” Clarke is applying in concrete terms the perspective of “centuries of deformed workers’ states.”
In short, whether by expecting the self correction of the bureaucrats (through interbureaucratic struggles) to eliminate Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorship, as Pablo envisages, or by trusting it to the bureaucrats to make concessions and share power with the masses, as Clarke tries to suggest, the conclusion will be the same: the self-reform of the Soviet bureaucracy in place of a political revolution of the masses.
But Trotsky has firmly reminded us, “There is no peaceful outcome for this crisis. No devil ever voluntarily yet cut off his own claws. The Soviet bureaucracy will not give up its positions without a fight. The development leads obviously to the road of revolution” (Revolution Betrayed). To trust the Soviet bureaucracy to right itself and eliminate Stalinism is nothing else than to dream of the devil voluntarily cutting off his own claws, or Satan transforming himself into Christ!
FROM BETRAYING THE WORLD REVOLUTION TO BECOMING ITS ALLY
Pablo and his followers have thus assured us that the Soviet bureaucracy, in its domestic policy, tends more and more to make concessions to the masses, and to gradually reform itself, and even “to share power with the masses,” gradually undermining the foundations of the bureaucracy. Then, as “the foreign policy is the extension of the domestic policy,” as Pablo declares in the “Draft Resolution on the Rise and Decline of Stalinism,” “the new situation restricts more and more the capacity of counterrevolutionary maneuvers by the bureaucracy.” And “The practical effect of these attempts (to utilize the interimperialist contradictions, to gain the support of certain bourgeoisies in colonial and semicolonial countries, to arrive at a temporary and partial agreement with imperialism) become more and more limited and ephemeral” (p. 10).
Since the “practical effect of these attempts (at seeking compromise with imperialism) has become more and more limited and ephemeral,” logically the bureaucracy is obliged to ally itself with the world revolution. Hence the same draft resolution asserts, “Caught between the imperialist threat and the colonial revolution, the Soviet bureaucracy found itself obliged to ally itself with the world revolution against the former .... Every general attempt to use the colonial revolution as small change in the transactions with imperialism had to be abandoned.” That is to say, “the bureaucracy has ‘abandoned’ its former policy of trading the world revolution to imperialism at least as far as the colonial revolution is concerned.” (Internal Bulletin of the L.S.S.P., April 1954, p. 6).
According to Pablo’s views, the abandonment of the reactionary policy against the world revolution by the bureaucracy is not limited to the colonial countries. As early as the report to the 12th Plenum of the I.E.C. in November 1952, he declared, “Objective conditions are essentially different now, and despite what other desires the bureaucracy might have, in practice they bring a different line.” “The leadership of the Communist Parties seems to consider that the principal directive which concerns them is not their alignment with their respective bourgeoisie against the United States, but on the contrary the ideas contained in Stalin’s closing speech (at the 19th Congress of the Russian Communist Party), that the bourgeoisie has become definitely and totally ‘reactionary’ and ‘anti-national’; that they should consider themselves as the ’new shock brigades’ having as their task and perspective the seizure of power in their respective countries following the example of the Russian C.P.”
The conclusion which flows logically from the above assertion will naturally be: “The Soviet bureaucracy aligning itself with the revolution in the imperialist countries.” The perspective opened up in this way is one of the Soviet bureaucracy being compelled in practice to give up the treacherous policy of seeking to maintain international equilibrium between itself and imperialism, and that, caught between the imperialist threat and the World Revolution, the Soviet bureaucracy aligns itself with the World Revolution.” (Internal Bulletin of L.S.S.P., April 1954, p. 7).
ON THE THESIS THAT C.P.’S IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WILL, UNDER MASS PRESSURE, BE TRANSFORMED AND LEAD THE REVOLUTION TO VICTORY
Since the Soviet bureaucracy is capable, under the pressure of the masses, of righting itself, replacing a mass political revolution, then, according to the same “theory” the C.P.’s in the different countries are capable too, under the pressure of the masses, of self reform and of leading the revolution on the road to the seizure of power.
Therefore, the draft resolution “Rise and Decline of Stalinism” tells us, “the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries consequently find themselves placed in conditions absolutely different from those of pre-war days.” Here the so to speak “conditions absolutely different from those of pre-war days” are interpreted as follows: “The very power of the mass movement in their own countries, developing in the direction of the revolutionary struggle, asserts itself increasingly. Relations with Moscow loosened, hence, “In countries where the C.P.’s constitute the majority of the working class, they can under the pressure of the masses be led to project a revolutionary orientation counter to the Kremlin’s directives, without abandoning the political and theoretical baggage inherited from Stalinism. They will do this all the more because the masses, which are still seeking, as they will continue to seek for a whole period to come, to make use of those parties to satisfy their aspirations, have acquired a more critical attitude towards their leadership than in the past and are no longer prepared to follow any turn of these parties, regardless of what it may involve. This perspective, the understanding that what is involved is not an organizational disintegration of the mass communist parties, but rather a disintegration, molecular in its nature for an entire period, of the Stalinist ideas inside those parties, as well as of the bureaucratic relations which extend from the Kremlin down to the ranks of these parties.... (“Rise and Decline” p. 34-35).
This passage clearly expresses the idea that the mass communist parties, under the pressure of the masses, will gradually turn leftward and abandon Stalinist conceptions, and adopt a revolutionary position conforming to the aspirations of the masses. This idea becomes even more precise when joined to the declarations Pablo made in his report to the 12th Plenum of the I.E.C. as quoted above. Hence the L.S.S.P. has deduced from the above assertions their logical conclusion: “If this statement were correct, it would mean that the class collaboration perspective of the C.P.’s of seeking an alliance with the national bourgeoisie against American imperialism had changed to a basically revolutionary perspective of seizure of power against the bourgeoisie.” (See the same Internal Bulletin of the L.S.S.P., p. 8).
The self reform of the Soviet bureaucracy in place of a mass political revolution; the idea that its foreign policy can pass from one of betrayal over to the world revolution: the assumption that the C.P.’s in different countries can, under the pressure of the masses, lead the revolution to the conquest of power: these important revisions which Pablo has made of the three strategic problems of Trotskyism have been analyzed, their absurdity exposed in detail in the theoretical domain and their distortion and accommodation of facts, by the documents of the S.W.P., with traditional Trotskyist methods and objective data. We do not, therefore, have to repeat them, and ask the reader to refer to the Fourth International, Sept.-Oct. 1953, pp. 101-107. We choose only to sum up by quoting the general criticism of the L.S.S.P. on these three fundamental points.
”The three points discussed above have a logical interconnection. When they are taken together, there emerges the single governing concept that, in this period of the flow of the world revolution, in which a durable compromise with imperialism is ruled out for the Soviet bureaucracy, and with it, for the Stalinist leadership of the mass Communist Parties, this bureaucracy gets pushed on to the revolutionary road under the pressure of the masses. This concept not only leads to a fundamental revision of the positions of Trotskyism in regard to Stalinism but also denies to the Trotskyist movement all justification for its continued independent existence.” (Internal Bulletin of the L.S.S.P., April 1954, p. 7, emphasis added by the writer of this document).
PABLOISM APPLIED TO REALITY
We have described Pablo’s revisionist and liquidationist politics in theoretical terms. Now let us examine how they are applied in practice. We shall enumerate the following as the most typical examples.
The insurrection of June 1953 in East Germany was the first attempt ever since Stalin’s usurpation of the Soviet power, by the proletariat to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy and its agents by means of an insurrection. Hence it is of the greatest political significance to the working class of the world and particularly to Trotskyists. It demonstrates for the first time in vivid reality that “a political revolution taking the form of an insurrection of the oppressed masses to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy” is absolutely in conformity with the necessity of real life, and is, therefore, inevitable. Our responsibility is precisely to raise the confidence and courage of the working class of the world, and especially the proletariat in the Soviet Union and its satellites. Instead of following this line, Pablo says, on the contrary, “ . . . the soviet leaders and those of the various People’s Democracies and the C.P.’s could no longer falsify or ignore the profound meaning of these events. They have been obliged to continue along the road of still more ample and genuine concessions to avoid risking alienating themselves forever from the support of the masses and from provoking still greater explosions. From now on they will not be able to stop halfway. They will be obliged to dole out concessions to avoid more serious explosions in the immediate future and if possible to effect a transition ‘in a cold fashion’ from the present situation to a situation more tolerable for the masses” (Declaration of the I.S. on the June insurrection in East Germany, published in F.I. Sept.-Oct., 1953, p. 110-111). This proves that from his revisionist point of view Pablo sees in the June insurrection in Eastern Germany only more and more concessions which the Stalinist bureaucracy is to be obliged to make to the masses, and that the bureaucracy would tend more and more to correct itself to avoid a political revolution.
The August General Strike in France in 1953 opened up a most favorable situation for the French working class in its struggle for power. It constituted a turning point in the social crisis of post war France. While the official leaderships of the working class, the Social Democrats and the C.P. of France betrayed the movement all the way through, it was then the moment for us Trotskyists to expose completely the ignominious betrayal of the leadership of the Socialist Party, and particularly that of the Stalinist Party in order to awaken the revolutionary elements still under the control of the latter and the working class as a whole, to prepare them for the combat in the next stage. But while condemning the S.P. for its betrayal of the working class, the Pabloites reproached the Stalinist Party only for the “absence of a policy,” excusing its conduct in genuinely betraying the movement and trying to maintain the status quo under the capitalist regime in the interests of the diplomacy of the Kremlin. The most flagrant incident was when the Trotskyist militants (the comrades of the majority of the P.C.I., the French Trotskyist Party) fought against the Stalinist policy of betrayal among the workers of the Renault factories on a correct position, the Pabloites even distributed a leaflet openly denouncing them before the worker-masses and slandering them on the ground that they had violated the discipline of the Fourth International and of being elements excluded from the Trotskyist movement. Thus they helped the Stalinists to cover up their betrayal (see S.W.P. Open Letter to World Trotskyists).
The nationalist war of liberation in Indo China has gained considerable progress in recent years. It seemed to have every chance of chasing the French imperialists out of the country and attaining complete independence, especially after the conquest of Dien Bien Phu. But in view of its own diplomatic interests, the Kremlin preferred to settle with imperialism. It agreed at the Geneva Conference on a “Cease Fire and Free Elections in the whole country,” as a lever to reach a compromise with French imperialism. This is one obvious betrayal which the Soviet bureaucracy has committed against the colonial revolution. Instead of explicitly proposing and clearly expressing the line of “exacting the evacuation of the imperialist army and encouraging a free development of the revolution,” the Pabloites openly opproved the agreement made at the Geneva Conference, and, hence, the betrayal of the Soviet bureaucracy. (See the I.S. circular dated 9th April, 1954).
The “United Nations,” as well as its prototype the “League of Nations,” is an organization under the control of the American imperialists, where the imperialist divide their spoils. It is an instrument for suppressing the revolution. According to the tradition of Trotskyism, we should exploit every opportunity to expose its character as an instrument of imperialist robbery and counterrevolution. Yet the Pabloites openly advocate that the People’s Republic of China should participate in this organization (see the resolution on the Third Chinese Revolution). This serves to sow illusions and propagate them among the masses of workers and oppressed peoples in the world about this counter revolutionary organization, and to conceal its imperialist, predatory character.
Prohibition of atomic weapons, like the general slogan of “disarmament,” usually are acclaimed by the petty-bourgeois pacifists. These slogans have the main purpose of deceiving the working class and paralysing it in the revolutionary struggle against imperialist war. Without revolutionary struggle and victory of the world working-class, prohibition of atomic weapons remains inconceivable and utopian. Instead of exposing the deceptive and criminal role of this pacifist propaganda, and insisting on the only possible solution, which is the proletarian revolution, to annihilate thoroughly the basic causes of war, the Pabloites, following at the heels of the Stalinists, play on the same tune, the pacifists’ rhapsody of “prohibition of atomic weapons.”
From the apologies for and the echoes of the Stalinist bureaucracy which come from the Pabloites with regard to the Stalinist bureaucracy on these important events and problems, it is fully evident that they have completely alienated themselves from the traditional positions of Trotskyism and become a left wing defence of Stalinism.
PUBLIC DISAVOWAL OF THE TRANSITIONAL PROGRAM
The revisionist theses, as we have pointed out above, such as “centuries of deformed workers’ states;” “self-reform of the Soviet bureaucracy in place of a political revolution;” the alleged evolution of the Stalinist bureaucracy from betraying the world revolution to becoming the ally of the latter; the perspective that the mass communist parties in the capitalist countries will gradually transform themselves into leaderships of revolution for the conquest of power, etc.; the opportunist attitude adopted on the practical problems such as the “United Nations” and “Peace,” have clearly demonstrated that Pablo has virtually disavowed the Transitional Program of our movement.
However, for a considerable time while Pablo advanced his revisionism and liquidationism, he avoided mentioning the Transitional Program and was not yet prepared publicly to repudiate it. In December 1951, following a discussion in a plenary session of the Central Committee of the French P.C.I. on the tactic to be adopted towards Stalinism, Pablo was obliged to make the following declaration, in reply to the question posed by the majority whether he proposed to abandon the Transitional Program: “The Stalinist movement today, under the cold war and the perspective of a clash with imperialism leading to a decisive battle, and placed objectively in new conditions, is obliged to act, and this action has already begun. Nobody can argue about what the Stalinists are doing at present. Between 1934 and 1947 they had the illusion of a period of co-existence. We will discuss with our comrades who have this understanding, and who will leave aside the Transitional Program which was written in an entirely different period. What has happened during and since the war is colossal. New things have appeared. Marxist thinking that tries to take refuge behind the phrases of the Transitional Program is unacceptable to the Trotskyist.” This is the verbatim shorthand note of the declaration made by Pablo on the session of the C.C. [central committee] of the P.C.I. at the beginning of 1952, published in Bulletin No. 1 of the preparation for a special congress, 25th January, 1952 by La Verité.
Pablo declared that when discussing our policy towards Stalinists, we have to “leave aside the Transitional Program, written in an entirely different epoch,” that is to say, our Transitional Program has become out of date, and can no longer be applied to the “new conditions?”
Pablo’s disavowal of the Transitional Program was even more explicit under the assault of the Open Letter of the S.W.P. on his revisionism, as expressed as follows: “They (referring to Cannon and his comrades) still remain on the schema and the genuine ‘orthodox’ faith in the politics of 1938 . . . They preserve the same attitude towards the Stalinist organizations and movement, and the Soviet Union, as in 1938. . . This whole assemblage of forecasts and correct politics is now turned upside-down by an entirely different course of history.” (“La Verité des Travailleurs,” Dec. 1953; organ of the Minority of the French P.C.I.).
The “schema of 1938” referred to here by Pablo is undoubtedly the Transitional Program adopted by the Founding Congress of the Fourth International. According to his judgment, the position contained in this Program, the “attitude towards the Stalinist organizations and movement and the Soviet Union,” which signifies our theoretical analysis of Stalinism and the U.S.S.R. and our fundamental policy, are turned upside-down by an “entirely different course taken by history”! This is the first public disavowal proclaimed by Pablo and for himself: the development of his revisionism and liquidationism was then reaching its height.
PABLO’S BUREAUCRATIC PRACTICES
Pablo understood very well that to exercise his revisionist and pro-Stalinist politics within the Fourth International, he would necessarily encounter the resistance of cadres who have been long educated in the school of Trotskyism. For this reason, while employing constantly ambiguous, paradoxical expressions and double talk to camouflage his real intentions, he has, moreover, adopted in organizational matters bureaucratic practices as the final weapons to attain his goal.
At the end of 1950 and the beginning of 1951, when comrades Frank and Germain were opposing Pablo’s revisionist tendency on a number of questions, the latter threatened them with exclusion from the I.S. and in fact even asked for this measure to be endorsed by the New Zealand party [SWP]. Although this absurd measure was not put into practice owing to the resolute opposition of the New Zealanders, Frank and Germain eventually abandoned their opposition under Pablo’s constant threat of discipline.
In June 1951 when the majority tendency in the French P.C.I. was violently opposed to the revisionist thought contained in Pablo’s “Where Are We Going?” and criticized the resolution adopted by the 9th Plenum of the I.E.C., Pablo addressed a letter in the name of the I.S. to the C.C. of the French party, instructing it to give up the oppositional document of the Majority tendency, and forbidding any discussion in the party on the resolution adopted by the 9th Plenum of the I.E.C. It was precisely then the period prior to the 3rd World Congress, during which a general discussion should be permitted on all resolutions without particular restrictions. Yet in order to defend his own revisionist positions, Pablo openly ordered that democratic discussions in the French party be forbidden.
At the Third World Congress, the amendments proposed by the New Zealand section were not only kept secret by Pablo but were burned by Livingstone [Clarke] on his personal approval. All the critical documents on the 9th Plenum of the I.E.C. and amendments presented by the majority of the French party were equally concealed from the delegates, while rumors were spread among them with the intention of suppressing the criticisms made by the majority tendency in the French Party of his revisionism.
In January, 1951, in the meeting of the C.C. of the French Party, Pablo suspended 16 members of the C.C. belonging to the majority, in the name of the I.S. Then, arbitrarily, a parity committee between the majority and the minority was constituted to assume leadership, with Germain as the arbitrator, to represent the I.S. In employing such bureaucratic tricks, Pablo deprived the majority of its right to the leadership of the party. Finally, by means of the same method of intrigue, the majority was excluded from the International.
When Comrade Peng pronounced his objection to the illegal measure of suspending the 16 C.C. members of the majority, instantly Pablo framed up all sorts of charges, slandering him for “injuring the prestige of the International and violating its discipline,” in the attempt to exclude him from the I.S. When he encountered Peng’s resistance, Pablo informally deprived Peng of his legal right to participate in all meetings of the I.S., and even secretly held up his document criticizing the draft resolution on the Third Chinese Revolution, instead of publishing it. Almost at the same time, by a different kind of intrigue, Pablo succeeded in depriving the New Zealand representative, Comrade Manuel [Novack], of following closely the work and regular meetings of the I.S. Thus among the five members of the I.S. which emerged from the I.E.C. elected by the 3rd Congress, there were already two illegally excluded by Pablo.
From the end of 1952 to the beginning of 1953, Mao’s government arrested several hundred Trotskyists. Five among them who were lucky enough to escape from Shanghai wrote an open appeal for emergency aid to the working class and revolutionary organizations throughout the world. This letter was transmitted to Pablo by Comrade Peng to be published in the different organs of the sections of our movement. Though apparently Pablo consented to this request, in practice he put this appeal away into his office drawer. The only reason was that he was afraid that once this appeal was published his propaganda of idealizing the Mao regime would be frustrated and his lies accusing the Chinese Trotskyists of “refusing to go among the masses and being sectarian” would also be exposed.
During a discussion on the draft resolution on the world situation after Stalin’s death, at the I.E.C. Plenum held in May, 1953, Comrade Burns [Healy] criticized the document for being too optimistic, and warned against excessive illusions about the Stalinist parties. Instantly, threateningly, Pablo reproached Burns that as a responsible international leader, he should refrain from expressing any different opinion from the official line of the International. Later, knowing that Burns showed sympathy and support for the position of the New Zealand majority, Pablo openly instructed him to “defend the line of the majority of the I.S. at the 4th World Congress” (which meant the revisionist line of Pablo himself) otherwise he would suffer reprisals. In other words, no criticism was allowed of any document drafted by the I.S., and support for any opinion different from Pablo’s revisionism would encounter “reprisals.”
Since the Third World Congress, besides doing his utmost to exclude the majority leadership of the French party and to eliminate his opponents from the I.S., he tried to organize his own faction in the New Zealand party in opposition to the official majority leadership, and finally to seize the leadership in the same manner as he dealt with the majority leadership in the French party. When this conspiracy was exposed and defeated at the national conference of this party held in May, 1953, Pablo instigated his followers to practice sabotage in the party. On the other hand, with a similar procedure, he inspired Collins [Lawrence] to organize his faction in the British section, and split the Trotskyist movement there. At last, in the same manner, the Iceland [Canadian] section was also disrupted.
In order to monopolize the leading organ of the International, Pablo established in secret a “bureau” within the I.S. (which is completely in violation of the statutes of the International). Through this “bureau” he succeeded in controlling the I.S., and through the I.S., the I.E.C.
From his private establishment of a “bureau” in the International leading organs to facilitate his manipulations; excluding at his will his opponents; creating factions in different sections; plotting to seize the respective leaderships and split the organizations, retaining important documents from being published as was due; from these to the suppression of internal democratic discussions. . . all these amply showed that he had adopted Stalinist bureaucratic centralism and all possible intrigues, in the place of a genuine democratic centralism, which the 4th International has inherited from Bolshevism.
THE LAST DEVELOPMENT OF PABLOISM THROUGH COCHRAN, CLARKE AND MESTRE
As Pablo’s revisionism and liquidationism encountered open attack from the S.W.P. in its Open Letter to the World Trotskyists, he himself has since adopted temporarily an attitude of defensiveness and retreat. But precisely because they were pushed by the open attack of the S.W.P., Pablo’s close ideological collaborators and supporters were becoming even more resolute, and precipitately they developed Pabloism to its final logical conclusion.
The Cochranites in their document “Our Orientation” wrote: “Let us simply sum up one of the conclusions of the present reality: we see a world where our perspective of Stalinism being destroyed in the course of World War II has been proven wrong. We see a world where Stalinism is dominant over the Eastern half of Europe, where the Communist parties are the leadership of the colonial revolutions in Asia, where they constitute the strongest organizations of the working class in Italy and France. In the rest of the western world, Social Democracy has been resuscitated and, in the United States, where labor has not yet advanced to an independent political existence, the reformist labor bureaucracy remains dominant. The Trotskyist movement in their twenty-five years of existence have been unable to grow into mass organizations. ” (Draft resolution adopted by the National Board, 27th April, 1954. Reprinted from the Educator, Information and Education Bulletin of the Socialist Union of America, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1954, p. 2). This “conclusion of present reality” is more “concrete” than Pablo’s “conclusion of the new reality.” And precisely so, this declaration deprives the latter of its mask of excessive optimism and reveals the real physiognomy of extreme pessimist Pabloism.
Following this “conclusion of the present reality,” the Cochranites resumed: “Now it is a fact that our whole tradition . . is of no interest to the existing labor movement. Because the tradition has been created largely outside of the labor movement, it is foreign to them. They do not see or believe that any of it is pertinent to the solution of their problems. We therefore have to face up to this aspect of the reality just as we did to other parts of it, and have to draw the necessary lessons.” (Ibid., p.15). Here it is very clearly expressed that “our whole tradition,” i.e. the whole Trotskyist tradition, including the Transitional Program, is no longer “pertinent to the solution of the problems of the labor movement!” The “necessary lessons” deduced from this could only be: “The very formulations of the International Revolution must lead us to the conclusion that the revolutionary parties of tomorrow will not be Trotskyist in the sense of accepting the tradition of our movement (same source: “Our Orientation”).
Since “the revolutionary parties of tomorrow will not be Trotskyist,” then what are the Trotskyists going to do? The Cochranites finally advise them to abandon the whole tradition of Trotskyism, not to mention “the name and works of Trotsky and the name and existence of the Fourth International” and characterizes this as “narrow group thinking and organizational fetishism;” it is to be corrected only “by integrating ourselves within the existing movement” (ibid., p. 6). The only thing that remains unsaid is: dissolve and liquidate all Trotskyist independent parties, organizations, and the Fourth International.
On the line of the Cochranites as stated above, Livingstone [Clarke],the delegate of the minority faction in the New Zealand section, made a concrete and elaborated proposal at the conference of the Pabloites held in June last year, as follows: Since all mass parties and organizations, from the Stalinist parties, Social Democracy to other petty bourgeois parties will, under the pressure of the masses, all tend towards the revolutionary road of the conquest of power, consequently, we Trotskyists must integrate ourselves entirely within these mass parties, and will have no need of independent parties or organizations. Further, it is no more necessary to have a centralized organization as the Fourth International, but merely the existence of a theoretical organ (the general sense of Livingstone’s speech is reported by a participant in the conference of June). This naked liquidationism expressed by Livingstone not only completely represents the opinion of the Cochranites, but was unanimously supported by Collins in England, Mestre in France and a leading Iceland Pabloite. All of them formed a stubborn united front at the Pabloite June conference, tending to the liquidation of the Fourth International. These are the “communist cadres of our movement” armed by Pablo “with a historical perspective and with clear notions of the aims to be attained” ever since 1951!
But in the view of Mestre, Livingstone is not thorough enough, for the latter still retains for the Fourth International, a “theoretical organ.” She declared in her article (”The Communist,” No. 3) that Trotsky was not only wrong in establishing the Fourth International in 1938 but was equally wrong in organizing the Left Opposition in 1923. In other words, the Transitional Program, written by Trotsky and other principal documents of the Founding Congress of the Fourth International are naturally condemned, but even the struggle which he led against Stalinism was totally unjustified. This is the final conclusion to which the logical development of Pabloism arrives. This could be considered as a “recantation” in order to be admitted and surrender unconditionally to the Stalinist parties to help their “self reform!”
People might then remark that in the June Conference Pablo did oppose Livingstone’s position, and lately has even written articles criticizing the wrong ideas of the Cochranites, Collins and Mestre (for instance, as in the review Quatrieme Internationale in 1954). All these prove that Pablo has greatly modified his attitude.
Yet such positions on Pablo’s part are not sufficient to prove that he has modified or abandoned his revisionist and liquidationist positions. His retreat and prudence today are simply due to the fact that he sees how impatient, indiscreet, excessively naked and precipitate are the “communist cadres” which he himself has armed, with the result that they have damaged the revisionist and liquidationist projects which he himself has so carefully and slowly advanced. Moreover he has also noticed that the most explicit liquidationist ideas and activities audaciously elaborated by these “cadres” have provoked strong opposition from the participants in the “June Conference” and other Trotskyists, and greatly shaken his position as General Secretary. Therefore, he is obliged to take up a position of criticizing them. In other words, it is in order to appease the opposition expressed by the Trotskyists who participated in the June Conference, and to safeguard his position as General Secretary, that Pablo criticizes his own “cadres,” in order to carry through later his original project of revisionism and liquidationism.
Here we have only to remind readers of the following facts: on the “14th Plenary session of the I.E.C.,” held in December,1953, the resolution “unanimously” adopted “warmly salutes” the minority faction of New Zealand and Collins’ faction in England as being “loyal to the International”; while fanatical charges and condemnation were laid upon the “sectarian” Cannonites “who are under the pressure of Yankee imperialism”—all this is quite enough to throw light on Pablo’s insincerity today.
THE ORIGIN OF PABLOISM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
The objective cause for the emergence of Pabloism has more or less been reflected in the so called “new reality” or “present reality” consistently stressed by himself and his supporters.
Owing to various complex factors, the Soviet Union, emerging from the last world war, had become the second among the world powers, had occupied the countries of Eastern Europe and assimilated them to its own pattern and structure. On the other hand, the influence of the French and Italian Communist Parties had grown greatly. In several colonial countries, the Stalinist parties have won the leadership of the national liberation movement. In particular, Mao Tse-tung’s party has destroyed the Chiang Kai-shek regime, occupied the entire Chinese mainland and established a People’s Democracy. All these show clearly to what an unprecedented and impressive extent the influence of Stalinism has expanded, and how even more impressive it is when compared with the isolation of Stalinism in the pre-war period. This expansion of Stalinist influence has greatly attracted a section of the masses, especially petty bourgeois elements, depressed and without hope under capitalism. In this expansion of Stalinist influence they confusedly see the vision of their dreams; hence the renaissance of their “hope” in Stalinism. This renewed “hope,” reflected in the heads of the petty bourgeois thinkers, passing through a “rationalization” or “theoretical formulation,” forms the basis of the whole system of the conception of the “self reform” of Stalinism. Isaac Deutscher, the Polish ex-communist, once a fellow traveller at the periphery of the Trotskyist movement, is the real precursor of the theory of the self-reform of Stalinism, while Pablo is only an elucidator of Deutscherism within the Fourth International.
We have only to refer to the following fact: when Deutscher identifies the expansion of Stalinism with the world revolution in his “Life of Stalin” published in 1949, a little bit later Pablo formulated his theory of “centuries of deformed workers’ states.” After Stalin’s death, in “Russia What Next?” Deutscher asserts a “gradual evolution of the regime towards a socialist democracy” and declares, “an analysis of these conditions leads to the general conclusion that the balance of domestic factors favors a democratic regeneration of the regime.” (For a systematic criticism, please refer to Cannon’s “Trotsky or Deutscher,” published in the F.I., winter 1954). Then Pablo also published his article, “Malenkov’s New Course,” in which the conclusion is drawn that henceforth the Stalinist bureaucracy would “right itself” through gradual “concessions.” Further and more significant is Pablo’s statement to Burns that “Deutscher has done more than anyone to popularize our ideas before a broad audience.” (See the quotation in Cannon, “Trotsky or Deutscher”). It is therefore clear to us that Pabloism is merely Deutscherism transplanted into our International, plus elaboration and systematization.
Hence we say that Pabloism is a pro-Stalinist tendency, taking its birth and growth from the pressure of the unprecedented expansion of Stalinist influence. This is even more obvious if it is compared to the Stalinophobe tendency of 1939 represented by Burnham and Shachtman, which originated precisely from the extreme isolation of Stalinism at that time. Though standing on two extremities, these two tendencies reflect similar social or class consciousness, i.e., petty bourgeois impressionism.
To look back over the history of the Marxist international movement, if Bernstein saw in the prosperity of capitalism at the end of the 19th century (the highest development of capitalism, imperialism) “a peaceful evolution of capitalism towards socialism” and thus revised orthodox Marxism insisting on a “proletarian revolution”; if Stalin saw in the defeat of the 1923 German Revolution the hopelessness of an international revolution and revised Leninism, based firmly on the “international revolution,” with his “Socialism in a Single Country”; then, finally, in the footsteps of Deutscher, Pablo saw in the expansion of Stalinism in the post war period the perspective of its “self reform.” He thus revised the principal conception of Trotskyism, which inherits from Marx and Lenin the task of accomplishing the world revolution; “an insurrection of worker masses to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy.”
If Bernstein’s revisionism has been proved completely bankrupt in the light of the first World War, if Stalin’s revisionism was exposed by its betrayal of the 1933 German Revolution, then Pablo’s revisionism revealed its real face in the light of the East German insurrection of June 1953 and the French General Strike of August 1953.
The consequences of Pabloism (the ideas elaborated by Pablo himself and his supporters, Cochran, Clarke and Mestre, and their actions which followed) are now clearly presented before our eyes. They are a complete revision of Trotskyism and a betrayal of all the Trotskyist traditions and programs, which is consummated by pro-Stalinist liquidation in the end. Moreover, since Pablo has controlled the international leading organ, through the review, “Quatrieme Internationale,” and other organs of different sections under his control, his revisionism and liquidationism were diffused among the masses and have created very bad influences and confused the orientation of the worker masses. Thus has been smirched the banner of Trotskyism and the development of pro-Stalinist tendencies has been encouraged. On the other hand, the “cadres armed” by Pablo himself have not only provoked splits in the Trotskyist organizations of several important countries, such as New Zealand, England, France and Iceland, but have now completely turned their back on the Fourth International and openly advocate Stalinism while slandering Trotskyism. Meanwhile, in the different sections under the influence of the I.S., great ideological confusion is provoked and many comrades are bewildered and even discouraged. This has to be considered as the most serious blow on a large scale ever since the foundation of the Fourth International.
Had there been no courageous intervention by the S.W.P. with its open appeal to the world Trotskyists, and the formation of the International Committee to rally all orthodox Trotskyists to resist and systematically defend their position and the severe criticisms made by the Trotskyists in Ceylon and elsewhere, Pabloism would have been permitted to follow its natural development. The whole international would have already been in a state of disintegration! But precisely because of the intervention of the S.W.P., the International Committee and the Ceylonese Trotskyists, it is once more proved that the Trotskyists’ tradition and ideas are a most solid force and capable of resisting the test of any events.
The meaning and consequences of Pablo’s revisionism and liquidationism having been exposed as above, the problem which is now posed before every comrade who is loyal to Trotskyism and its historical mission is how to utilize this struggle against Pabloism to raise individual consciousness and to consolidate and reinforce our whole movement. We should use this opportunity to reaffirm the fundamental principles contained in the Transitional Program and all the fundamental conceptions of Trotskyism, especially in relation to the nature and role of Stalinism. On this basis we shall be able to analyze anew the post war international situation and the perspectives (in this connection we are proposing another document for discussion) as to prepare the Fourth International for the future events of greater magnitude (war and revolution) and to orient and lead the world revolution towards victory.
In order to engage the Trotskyists of different countries effectively in a general discussion of Pabloism, a democratic procedure completely in the Bolshevik manner must be adopted. Only a democratic general discussion will be able to break through Pablo’s bureaucratic control and manipulation. We believe that the real physiognomy of Pablo’s revisionism and liquidationism will become more and more obvious in the course of discussion, and the correctness of Trotskyism, in developing and assimilating Marxism Leninism, will also become more clear. Moreover, the development of events in recent years, such as the Stalinist parties in the backward countries (India, Ceylon, Indonesia, etc.) seeking alliances with the national bourgeoisie of these countries to form an “Anti-Yankee Front.” In the advanced countries (Japan, U.S., France, etc.) they support the so-called “democratic or progressive bourgeoisie.” These reactionary illusions revealed the feverish attempts of the Kremlin bureaucracy in seeking compromise with Western imperialism to prevent the new World War and to attain “pacifist co-existence.” These fresh facts add to a further exposing of the complete bankruptcy of Pabloism and at the same time proving more clearly the incomparable correctness of Trotskyist appraisal of the nature and role of Stalinism.
A system of revolutionary thought, especially Marxist thought, is often more profound and rich if it has gone through a struggle. Hence we believe that Trotskyism, having gone through this struggle against Pablo’s revisionism and liquidationism will certainly be further enriched, and then all the genuine Trotskyists will be reunited on a higher ideological level.