Ted Grant

The Character of the European Revolution

A Reply to Some Comrades of the IKD

Written: October 1945

Source: Workers International News, Vol.6 No.1, October 1945.

Reprinted in Fourth International, vol.7 No.3, March 1946, pp.72-76.

Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL). Reworked by Maarten Vanheuverswyn

We are publishing Comrade E. Grant’s article as a contribution to the discussion on the national question in Europe which was opened in our magazine in 1942. We reprint this article from the October 1945 issue of Workers International News, theoretical organ of the Revolutionary Communist Party of England. Among the discussion articles on this question that have previously appeared are the following: Three Theses on the European Situation and The Political Tasks (December 1942); The National Question in Europe by Marc Loris (September 1942); Revolutionary Tasks under the Nazi Boot by Marc Loris (November 1942); Our Differences with the Three Theses by Felix Morrow (December 1942); The Central Slogan for Occupied Europe by M. Morrison (January 1943).

The official position of the Socialist Workers Party on this question, adopted unanimously at the Tenth Convention in October 1942, appeared in our November 1942 issue under the heading The National Question in Europe. (See also European Revolution and the Tasks of the Revolutionary Party, Resolution of Eleventh Convention, November 1944, which was published in our December 1944 issue).


THE CONTRIBUTION of our German comrades (Problems of the European Revolution published in July-August Workers International News) is an indication of “retrogression” from the fundamental doctrines of Marxism. Abandoning the Leninist criterion, the class criterion, of all processes taking place in society, they have adopted a pre-Leninist, even pre-Menshevik theory of “democratic” revolution in Europe. A “national democratic” revolution which, after the collapse of Hitler, will now be directed throughout Europe, against the Allies!

It would seem incredible that, after the tremendous struggle that Trotsky waged for the conception of the permanent revolution against the revisionists of Stalinism, a petty bourgeois democratic, revisionist tendency would develop within the ranks of the Fourth International. It is explained, of course, by the uninterrupted series of defeats which have been suffered by the proletariat and the isolation to which the comrades have been doomed by the emigration. They have succumbed to the pressure of the petty bourgeois reaction.

These comrades pride themselves on their understanding of dialectics, but fail even to attempt to examine the problem they are facing from a genuine historical point of view. From what to what is society today evolving? The coming to power of Hitler, the war and its aftermath are a reflection of the blind alley of capitalism, its disintegration and decay, its incapacity to solve a single one of the problems confronting it. It is a result of the failure of the proletariat through the treachery of its leadership (Stalinist and Reformist) to overthrow capitalism and institute the rule of the working class. To these elementary propositions, not even the confused comrades of the IKD would dare to object, but, not stating the problem clearly, they draw the most fantastic conclusions from the gangrenous and rotting collapse of capitalism. They draw the conclusion that the bourgeoisie through a “democratic” revolution, can still play a progressive role! It is true that they put this forward under the guise of a “peoples” movement, the class character of which they do not define. But never in modern times has the “people” or the “nation” as such played an independent role. The petty bourgeois masses, in all their layers, can support either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. There cannot be, in modern society, any other state but that of the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. Lenin clearly developed this idea when he wrote:

... all political economy – if one has learned anything at all from it – the whole history of the revolution, the whole history of political development during the nineteenth century, teaches us that the peasant goes either with the worker or with the bourgeois. If you do not know this, I should like to say to such citizens, just reflect upon the development of any one of the great revolutions of the eighteenth or the nineteenth centuries, upon the political history of any country in the nineteenth century. It will tell you why. The economy of capitalist society is such that the ruling power can only be either capital or the proletariat which overthrows it. Other forces there are none in the economics of society. (Vol.XVI, page 217).

The IKD’s intentionally vague talk of the struggle of the “whole people against the national and political oppressor” is intended to cover up their capitulation to the petty bourgeois conception of the revolution. Confronted with the above quotation, they would undoubtedly be compelled to accept it, if only in words. But what follows from it? What is the class character of this “peoples” movement? Is it proletarian, is it bourgeois or is it petty bourgeois? In attempting to skip over the class character (always a characteristic of petty bourgeois thought) of this movement, the IKD reveal the genesis of their ideas, petty bourgeois capitulation to bourgeois democracy and imperialism.

Taking as their point of departure, the failure of the proletariat to overthrow capitalism, the IKD comrades argue that society has been thrown so far back that the bourgeois-democratic revolution solved by the French Revolution of 1789 is posed anew for solution! What a conclusion. From the failure of the proletariat (due to its leadership) they turn to the petty bourgeoisie, the people, for salvation. But precisely the impotence of the petty bourgeoisie to find a new road, and its frenzy opened the way for the Fascist gangs to come to power. From the petty bourgeoisie, there can come no leadership. In modern society, they must find leadership in one or the other basic classes, bourgeoisie or proletariat. Having rejected the proletarian revolution as a solution, quite naturally the IKD find themselves in tow to the bourgeoisie. But these conceptions represent an entire break with the Marxist conception of the epoch which is, in the words of Lenin, one of wars and revolutions, proletarian revolutions. Thus the bourgeoisie is plunged into its wars and bestial repressions not because there is any solution for it thereby, but because they are driven to these extremities by the insoluble contradictions of the system. Wars and repressions cannot provide a solution, but only aggravate the problem.

The victory of the German imperialists led to the collaboration of the conquered bourgeoisie of France and other countries in Europe with the victors as junior partners in the exploitation of the masses. This could not but lead to an intensification of the class hatred of the workers, not alone against the foreign oppressor but against his agents at home. The petty bourgeoisie as well as the workers could not but conceive hatred for the trusts and combines who placed their profits above the fiction of the “nation.” Consequently, the basis for an alliance of proletariat and petty bourgeoisie against the foreign and home oppressors, against capitalism, arose.

In the backward countries, the national bourgeoisie prefers in the last analysis to combine with the landlords and foreign imperialist oppressors against their own workers and peasants because of the incapacity to solve the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, according to Lenin and Trotsky. (Especially the latter developed this idea with the theory of permanent revolution.) Because of the impossibility of the petty bourgeoisie playing an independent role, only the proletariat as a class could lead the struggle against the foreign oppressor and carry through the bourgeois democratic revolution and the struggle for national liberation. But such a struggle, by its very nature, could only lead, either to the victory of the imperialist bourgeois counter revolution or to the conquest of power by the proletariat. Under such conditions, the task of the proletariat and its vanguard is to maintain its independence from the bourgeoisie and to fight to win the plebian masses to its side.

The ideas of the IKD thus revise the conception developed by Trotsky for the Chinese and Indian revolutions and apply this revised conception to the advanced countries of Europe!

The confusion in the minds of these comrades is shown by their insistence on the necessity of a transitional revolution before the proletarian revolution, a so-called “democratic” revolution. In this they repeat all the mistakes of Stalin-Bukharin in 1925-27, in the Chinese revolution. With the difference that the Stalinist clique could manufacture the semblance of a case as the national democratic revolution had not been accomplished in the East. But even here, as the experience of the Russian revolution had already shown, such conceptions could only lead to disaster. But to apply an even more crass formulation than that which the Stalinists applied in China, to Europe, is to reach the limit of revisionism of the doctrines of Trotskyism. At least Stalin tried to cover his confusion with the outworn Bolshevik formula of the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.” That was the only class formula he could find to describe the “democratic” revolution which he foresaw in Asia. Not having sufficiently thought out the problem, our German comrades leave these questions unanswered. What will this democratic revolution look like? Which class will play the leading role in its realization? Which class will rule in the government? What difference is there between the regime of bourgeois democracy and the regime of this “democratic” revolution?

Posing the problem correctly is already half-way to answering it. Not using the Marxist method, our comrades have lost themselves in a fog of petty bourgeois phrasemongering.

It seems fantastic that there should be any argument on questions that any raw student of Trotskyism should understand. Especially so with people with great “theoretical” pretensions. It underlines the necessity for a regular re-statement of the basic theories of the movement, not alone for the benefit of new recruits but for people to whom such propositions ought to be elementary.

In dealing with the problem of the permanent revolution in China, Trotsky, answering in advance our comrades of the emigration, explained “... in China, the question of national liberation occupies a Large place. This demonstrates that the formula of the democratic dictatorship (to replace that of struggle for proletarian dictatorship) presents a much more dangerous reactionary snare ...” And again “in a bourgeois society with already developed class antagonisms there can only be either an open or disguised dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or of the proletariat. There cannot be any talk of a transitional regime.”

Our comrades have been unable to think their ideas through to the end and thus they end up with a policy which is a ludicrous caricature of that of Stalinism. They argue:

“The retrogressive development of capitalism led to the destruction of national independence and democratic liberties of the most important European nations. Nowhere did the movement go beyond the limits of bourgeois demands, the first attempt of the suppressed masses of Europe to realize the democratic revolution and to re-conquer national independence, was doomed to failure ... the second wave of democratic revolution will find many obstacles removed which impeded the first ...”

Since these comrades argue that Europe has been thrown back centuries and that the task is to carry out the bourgeois revolution (for that is the class nature of the “democratic revolution”) how is this to be accomplished? In the past it was carried through by the plebian masses who could not go beyond the limits of the bourgeois forms of property. If this so-called bourgeois revolution is to be carried through by the proletariat, then the whole scheme does not make sense. For if the proletariat is to play the leading role, then the revolution can only be the proletarian revolution, leading to the dictatorship of the proletariat. In lashing the Stalinists, Trotsky remarked on the attempt to separate “democracy” from its social content. “The hopelessness of the epigones is most crassly expressed in the fact that even now they still attempt to contrast the democratic dictatorship with the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, as well as to the dictatorship of the proletariat. But this means that the democratic dictatorship must have a transitional character, that is, a petty bourgeois content.” If the comrades argue that they stand for a bourgeois democracy then the leading role of the bourgeoisie is reinforced and their criticism of the Stalinist line in France is absurd. The Stalinists and reformists who had developed a “line” in France and the other occupied countries very similar to that of the IKD consistently fought for the “national war of liberation” in which all classes were involved in the fight for “democracy” without explaining its social content. Consequently the feeble criticism of the IKD of their role in the “national liberation” movement is completely unreal. If the position of the IKD were correct, instead of criticizing, they should have agreed entirely with the course pursued by the old workers’ organizations in Europe.

The trouble with the IKD is that, having been thrown off course by the reactionary wave, they mistake history’s posterior for its face. Searching for an impossible “democratic” revolution, they cannot see the visage of the early stages of the proletarian revolution and equate bourgeois “democratic” counterrevolution of the period of the decline of the bourgeoisie with the democratic revolution of its rise! They do this because they confuse the democratic demands of the proletariat with the nature of the revolution which the proletariat is called on to face. Democratic demands, the right to strike and organization, the right of free speech, press, elections, Constituent Assembly, etc., etc., are part of the transitional demands of the proletariat in its struggle for the Socialist revolution. These demands must be inscribed on the banner of the Revolutionary Party in its efforts to mobilize the masses in the struggle to educate them in the need for the conquest of power. In every revolution of the proletariat in modern times, one or the other democratic demand has played its part in the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. But in and of itself, this did not determine the nature of the struggle upon which the proletariat was embarked.

Both the opportunists of the IKD and various sectarians were answered in advance by the tactics pursued by the Bolsheviks in the Russian revolution. Here, while steering a course towards the October insurrection, on the basis of the understanding of the social nature of the tasks facing the proletariat, the Bolsheviks combined this strategical objective with flexible tactics. They fought for democratic demands, but this struggle was indissolubly linked with the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our epoch, even in the backward countries which have not accomplished the democratic revolution, remains the epoch of proletarian revolution and bourgeois counter-revolution (whatever its specific form), not at all the epoch of democratic revolution. The victory of fascism in no way alters the social character of the regime, the economy of capitalism or the role of the different classes in society. The victory in war, the plunder and national oppression of one capitalist nation of other imperialist powers, in itself marks no decisive change within bourgeois society. The epoch of the democratic revolution is long since past, consequently, the policies that base themselves on non-existent phantoms of “democratic revolution” can only play into the hands of the bourgeoisie. Not at all accidental is the fact that the Stalinists-reformists in Spain during the civil war, and under the German occupation in Europe, carried out their counter-revolutionary work under the guise of a “struggle for democracy.”

Such a conception of the tasks facing the proletariat can be no less than a “democratic noose” to strangle the movement of the proletariat. It represents an idealization of the role of the petty bourgeois masses and because it involves capitulation to their conceptions inevitably hands the proletariat bound hand and foot to the “national” bourgeoisie.

Precisely because of this, what the Three Theses comrades imagine to be the “clever” utilization by the Stalinists of the so-called “national” movement constituted the greatest betrayal. Our comrades announce “unconditional support” of the “Resistance Movement.” But which section of the Resistance Movement, they do not explain. They reject, apparently, the leadership of de Gaulle and the other imperialists. But unconditional support to the Resistance Movement, in its very essence, must mean support for the imperialists who were in control of it. Perhaps they mean unconditional support of the Stalinist wing of the Resistance Movement? We can imagine the shudders such a suggestion would bring to the comrades of the IKD.

However, they land themselves in the camp of Stalinist theory, simply because they have not understood, or have forgotten, the social content of the “democratic” revolution: the creation of the national state; the overthrow of feudalism and the introduction of bourgeois relations; the separation of Church from State; the agrarian revolution.

What they imagine is the basic content of “democracy”: freedom of organization, speech, etc., is in reality a by-product of the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. It is the building up of the bulwarks of proletarian democracy within capitalism, points of support for the new system within the framework of the old. Precisely here is the real “retrogressive” mark of fascism: the razing to the ground of all the independent organizations of the proletariat. It is not without importance that this work is accomplished using the petty bourgeoisie as a lever against the working class. True, the petty bourgeoisie can play a different role under certain conditions. But only if the proletariat in an independent struggle fights to win the middle classes to its side and does not dissolve itself into the petty bourgeois swamp.

Certainly the plebian masses carried through the bourgeois revolution in 1789. But they are incapable of ever again playing a leading role, an independent role, in the development of society. They will always be an adjunct to one of the two basic classes, the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Where they do not follow the proletariat, as all history shows, they inevitably land in the camp of reaction. Thus in the struggle for the socialist revolution, under the Nazis as well as under the regime of the “liberated” countries and the Allies, the proletariat fights for the winning over of the petty bourgeoisie to the socialist revolution by economic as well as democratic transitional demands. There may be many ebbs and flows in the struggle. At one stage or another the revolutionary communists may demand a fight for elections, local and national, Constituent Assembly, etc. But whether successfully realized or not the struggle for these demands can be but episodes on the road to the proletarian revolution and the programme of socialist revolution with which they must be linked.

The hopeless muddle and eclectic outlook of the comrades is indicated when they say in one passage, which contradicts everything else they write, that the “democratic revolution” they visualize can only be carried out by the proletariat. As a matter of fact, in the sense in which they visualize “democratic revolution,” it is not at all excluded for a longer or shorter period that parliamentary democracy will exist in Western Europe. Indeed, this process is taking place before their eyes in France, Italy and other countries. They are too blinded and biassed by the so-called “national question” to see this process taking place and to understand what it means. No, comrades, this is not the democratic revolution, but the means utilized by the bourgeoisie (democratic counter-revolution) in its struggle against the proletarian revolution.

But transitional demands, if allowed to become ends in themselves and separated from the strategic policy to be pursued by the Marxists, must inevitably become a trap for the proletariat. Thus, under the Nazis, the struggle for national liberation had to be linked to the struggle for the Socialist United States of Europe. The collapse of the national states objectively posed the problem of the unification of the proletariat of Europe against all the oppressors.

The movement of the resistance in the various countries was a class movement of the proletariat and the lower strata of the petty bourgeoisie. Directed against German imperialism under correct guidance and leadership, it should have been directed against the quisling bourgeoisie as well. Events have shown that it was the mass organizations which constituted the core of the resistance movement. The class antagonism, despite the Stalinists’ attempt to reconcile the proletariat to the “national” bourgeoisie (which could only be done by capitulating to it), could not damp down the class struggle which burst forth in Yugoslavia, Greece, Poland in civil war even before the ousting of the Germans. Was this also the result of the attempted carrying through of the democratic revolution?

In reality, the so-called “democratic” struggle, the uniting of the whole “people” was in itself an example of the worst caricature of Popular Frontism and class collaboration, under the pretext of unity with the middle class. It was unity in a national struggle together with the agents of the bourgeoisie while the decisive sections of the bourgeoisie were in the camp of the foreign oppressor.

Against the foreign oppressor, as the comrades in Europe correctly understood, the struggle could only be waged as a class struggle appealing to the solidarity of the German workers and peasant soldiers. The chauvinist methods of Stalinism and reformism were grist to the mill of Hitler. A “democratic” phase in Europe will result not from the objective need for the phase of democratic revolution but because of the sell-out of the old workers’ organizations. Had Stalinism and Social Democracy stood on the program of Marxism, there would have been the possibility of a transition immediately to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The one thing lacking was precisely the revolutionary party which could imbue the masses with a consciousness of their Socialist task. Only the weakness of the revolutionary party and the counter-revolutionary role of Stalinism has given capitalism a breathing space. Seeing that it is virtually impossible to rule by the method of fascist or military dictatorship, the bourgeoisie has prepared to switch, for the time being, to the bourgeois democratic manipulation of their Stalino-reformist agents. This does not constitute a democratic revolution, but, on the contrary, a preventative democratic counter-revolution against the proletariat. Under modern conditions, there can be no other kind of democratic revolution or regimes. In Germany in 1918, precisely the Social Democracy carried out their hangman’s work under the slogan of “democracy.” But this was no democratic revolution wherein different classes replaced those already in power. It was a proletarian revolution which was strangled by the agents of the bourgeoisie.

Similarly, what Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin (who understood the problem much better apparently, than the comrades of the IKD) were afraid of in Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Belgium, was not the “democratic” revolution, but the proletarian revolution, as Churchill clearly explained.

After the recent experiences in Europe, only those who have abandoned the idea of the class struggle, could in any way doubt this. Our comrades must have a peculiar sense of humor to say, with a straight face, “The situation today is, therefore, in its fundamental traits, the same as that of 1941 and the Three Theses have not only been confirmed, but their practical proposals retain full validity.” To back this up, they tell us

“The national oppression has remained, only the uniforms of the oppressors have changed. For the French, ‘national independence’ by grace of the USA, is a farce and an ever-growing part of the French people realize this ... American imperialism has not the slightest interest in restoring to health an old imperialist competitor. In consequence, it does not lift a finger to put on its feet again, the absolutely broken down French industry and, with it, French national independence.”

To compare the domination of America over France and “liberated” Europe which is maintained by means of economic pressure, with the direct visible jackboot of the Nazis is ridiculous. In the consciousness of the masses, while there may be a dislike of Uncle Sam, it is against the French bourgeoisie, the trusts and combines that the hatred of the masses is directed. This talk of merely the uniform being changed is an indication of how far from reality the comrades have strayed. The workers’ parties and organizations are legal in France and the totalitarian heel has been lifted. It would have been quite impossible for the Anglo-American imperialists to rule France and the other liberated countries with the methods of the Gestapo and SS, if only because of the resistance of their own soldiers to the playing of such a role.

Thus the attempt to justify a false position only leads to further errors. In reality, the position in Europe arising out of the collapse of capitalism and the aftermath of war is that the most favorable objective conditions are created for the victory of the proletarian revolution. All the conditions laid down by Lenin are present: loss of confidence and uncertainty of the ruling class, vacillation and discontent of the petty bourgeoisie, readiness of the discontented working class to make the most heroic sacrifices in order to overthrow the capitalists. All that is lacking is the subjective condition – the revolutionary party.

The mass, not alone of the working class, but of large strata of the petty bourgeoisie, are looking towards Communism as a way out of the social impasse. Yet the revisionists and fainthearts put forward a policy far more backward and reactionary than even the reformists in Europe have dared to do, for the period which now unfolds. The “crisis” in Europe consists only in the fact that the Stalinists and reformists are carrying out a policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie in the construction of “democracy.” With this, the comrades of the Three Theses should really have no quarrel. It is impossible with an orientation towards a “democratic” revolution to carry out any other policy.

If the comrades of the Three Theses condemn the Stalinist course, that can only be from force of habit and because they have not thought out their own policy to its necessary conclusions.

The shift away from the ideas of the proletarian revolution and the petty bourgeois capitulation to nationalism can best be seen in the references to Germany. Here, the comrades appeal to the tradition of the national liberation war of 1813-1815, the students’ movement (Burschenschaft) and 1848. This is an entirely reactionary and retrogressive movement on the part of the comrades: the great tradition of the proletarian revolution of 1918, the tradition of Liebknecht and Luxemburg: this is not even thought worthy of mention!

It is true that, as a consequence of her defeat, Germany will suffer national oppression and dismemberment. But after the last war, Germany was also reduced to the status of a State oppressed by her imperialist rivals. Nevertheless, the emphasis was laid on the class issues in Germany by the Leninist Comintern, while opposition to the Versailles Treaty was maintained. Similarly, today the German workers can struggle against the foreign oppressor, only through the struggle against the national bourgeoisie, which collaborates with the victors. The struggle against national oppression can only be waged as a struggle for the proletarian revolution.

The comrades have written a lot of nonsense about the change from the regime of the Nazis to that of the Allies in Europe merely being a change of uniform (as usual with opportunists, they find themselves in warm support of the ideas of the ultra-lefts). Even in Germany itself, that is not so. The Allies rapidly, even if reluctantly, were convinced of the impossibility of merely continuing the Nazi regime with the Allies in the place of the Hitler gangsters. They had neither the internal points of support within the population, the backing among the masses at home, nor the willingness of the British and American troops to play the role of SS. Thus, in order to gain some sort of basis, they have had to allow organizations and rights to the proletariat, however limited these may be.

In Germany, obviously it will be the duty of the Trotskyists to fight for an extension of democratic rights against the dismemberment and reparations, against the occupation of Germany. But, no more than the struggle against Versailles, can such a struggle be regarded as a “detour through the democratic revolution.”

The struggle for the national liberation of Germany, by its very essence can only be a struggle directed against the German bourgeoisie. The German ruling class will be only too willing to play the same lackey role to the Allies as the French bourgeoisie played to Nazi imperialism. The German capitalists called Hitler to power, they bear the responsibility for the catastrophe Germany has suffered. That should be the axis around which the propaganda of the German Marxists will revolve. Far from being separated, the struggle for German freedom can only be won as a struggle for the proletarian revolution. The British and American troops will only respond to class propaganda, to the idea of a Socialist Germany and a Socialist Europe, as an answer to the nightmare of war and economic misery.

The ideas of the Three Theses, especially for Germany, are false through and through. In appealing to the moth-eaten and now reactionary tradition of 1813, etc., they are playing the traditional role of the German petty bourgeois intellectuals, whom Marx so scathingly castigated. If these ideas played any role at all, they could only be the basis for a new petty bourgeois reaction. Having been utterly discredited in its Nazi guise,

the Nationalist reaction is quite likely to hark back to these old traditions. The Stalino-Social Democracy, acting as agents of the conquerors, will discredit themselves in the eyes of the masses. If the Trotskyists do not put forward a clear internationalist revolutionary alternative, the way will be cleared for the petty bourgeoisie to rally round such a platform and become a helpless tool once again in the hands of the bourgeoisie. How “imminent” or not the proletarian revolution in Germany may be, it is the goal to which .all the “democratic” and economic demands from the transitional bridge and not the bridge to the “democratic” revolution. In Germany, as in Europe, there can be no “democratic” revolution separate and apart from the proletarian revolution.

In Europe today, we stand, not on the threshold of the struggle for “democracy” and “great national wars of liberation” but on the struggle for the proletarian revolution and revolutionary wars against all attempts at capitalist intervention.

To end this article, we can do no better than quote extensively from Trotsky on the problems of the revolution against Fascism in Italy. Foreseeing, in advance, the reactionary arguments of the type of those of the IKD, though he could not have expected that such would emanate from within the ranks of the Fourth International, Trotsky wrote:

... what social character will the anti-fascist revolution acquire? You deny the possibility of a bourgeois revolution in Italy. You are perfectly right. History cannot turn backward a big number of pages, each of which is equivalent to half a decade. The Central Committee of the Italian Communist Party already tried once to duck the question by proclaiming that the revolution would be neither bourgeois nor proletarian but popular, (i.e. “democratic” – E.G.). It is a simple repetition of what the Russian Populists said at the beginning of this century when they were asked what character the revolution against Czarism would acquire. And it is still the same answer that the Communist International gives today about China and India. It is quite simply a so-called revolutionary variant of the social democratic theory of Otto Bauer and others, according to which the state can raise itself above the classes, that is, be neither bourgeois nor proletarian: This theory is as pernicious for the proletariat as for the revolution. In China it transformed the proletariat into cannon fodder for the bourgeois counter-revolution.

Every great revolution proves to be “popular” in the sense that it draws into its tracks the entire people. Both the Great French Revolution and the October Revolution were absolutely popular. Nevertheless, the first was bourgeois because it instituted individual property, whereas the second was proletarian because it abolished this same individual property. Only a few petty bourgeois revolutionists, hopelessly backward, can still dream of a revolution that would be neither bourgeois nor proletarian, but “popular” (that is, petty bourgeois) ...

However, while holding to this or that democratic slogan, we must take good care to fight relentlessly against all forms of democratic charlatanism. The “democratic Republic of the workers,” watchword of the Italian Social Democracy, is a sample of this low-grade charlatanism. A republic of the workers can only be a proletarian class state. The democratic republic is only a masked form of the bourgeois state.

It is precisely the type of “democratic charlatanism” propagated by the supporters of the Three Theses that Trotsky warned the cadres of the Fourth International against. Continuation on the road mapped out by the comrades of the IKD must, in the long run, lead to a break with the Fourth International, with the program of the proletarian revolution.