Alan Woods and Ted Grant

Lenin and Trotsky—What They Really Stood For

Chapter 9


It is easier to write distortions than to answer them. In the present work, we have only managed to deal with the most blatant falsehoods and misrepresentations. But, in fact, the entire method of Monty Johnstone's Cogito article is alien to Marxism. It is not designed to make clear the position of Trotsky, in order to answer it. It falsifies Trotsky's ideas, in order to subject them to surreptitious ridicule. Such an approach has nothing to do with the method of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, who always gave a clear and honest characterisation of the ideas of their opponents, in order to answer them.

But the final bankruptcy of Monty Johnstone's position is revealed by a phrase which slips, almost unnoticed, from his pen:

"A fundamental Marxist criticism of Stalinism," he writes on page 33, "which still remains to be made, will not proceed from Trotsky's premises…"

So there we have it! "The Mountain hath laboured and borne…a mouse!" Sixteen years after the death of Stalin, thirteen years after the Twentieth Congress, and Monty Johnstone's "fundamental criticism of Stalinism" has yet to be made!

Such is the incredible conclusion which Young Communist Leaguers and Communist Party members are expected to take from the "theoreticians" of their movement. Trotsky's "model" is "fundamentally false", but as for our model - well, we are still waiting for that to materialise!

For our part, we invite members of the Communist Party and Young Communist League to draw their own conclusions from the lame excuses of the Monty Johnstones. Put the question to the leadership: Why can't you provide us with an analysis and explanation of Stalinism? Why don't the Soviet leaders produce an analysis? Alas! No reply will be forthcoming. At this very moment, the Soviet "comrades" are busily resurrecting Stalin, and taking back even those meagre concessions that were wrested from their grasp in the fifties. Of course, tomorrow, Brezhnev will be ousted and some "progressive" bureaucrat will again grant concessions, to prevent the workers from moving into struggle. In fact, the bureaucracy will do anything for the workers, anything, except get of their backs!

It is clear that the present discussion was not welcomed by the Communist Party leadership. They tried to put it off as long as possible. But with their new, "independent", "democratic", "respectable" image at stake, they dared not continue to veto it. The events which have rocked World Stalinism in recent years have opened up broad discussions in the ranks of the Communist Parties. Any attempt on the part of the bureaucracy to clamp down on, say, the discussion on Czechoslovakia, would have led to a debacle on the lines of 1956. Their hand has been forced by events.

The sell-out of the movement of the French workers by the Stalinist leadership gave rise to widespread protest and opposition among the Communist Party rank and file, who, unlike the leaders, have not lost their class-consciousness and their desire to change society. Likewise in Britain, the events in France and Czechoslovakia have set the most conscious members of the Young Communist League and Communist Party thinking about the fundamental questions which face the movement. Similar developments are undoubtedly taking place in the Italian and other Communist Parties.

Yesterday, Stalinism was shaken by Hungary and Czechoslovakia, by France and the Sino-Soviet split. What will come tomorrow? The coming period opens up the prospect of new and terrible class battles on an international scale. Under the cover of the post-war boom, new, fresh forces have been prepared which are untainted by the despair and cynicism of the older generation. The magnificent struggles of the Italian and French working class provide an auger of things to come. The question now is only which will come first - the socialist revolution in the West, or the political revolution in the East?

In the white-heat of great events, the new forces of the revolution will be formed and tested. A large part of these forces, especially in France and Italy, but also in Britain, will come from the Communist Parties and the Young Communist Leagues. It is the duty of all comrades in these organisations to prepare themselves theoretically for the great tasks which face us. Theory is not something which the Party "intellectuals" hand down on a plate. All real Marxists must struggle to train and educate themselves in the basic ideas, methods, and traditions of Marxism. The writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky are not dry, academic, and irrelevant, but contain the living lessons of the experience of the working class movement of all countries over a century and a half. If members of the Communist Party and Young Communist League desire to play a role in building the movement which will change society on socialist lines, they must take this task seriously.

On the basis of events, and the creation of Marxist, of Bolshevik cadres, to participate in the inevitable movements of the working class in Britain and internationally, victory is, in the last analysis, assured in the struggle for a united, harmonious Socialist World Federation. The nightmare of Stalinism and capitalism will become bad memories of the past, and the blossoming of the productive forces of the planet, integrated under a system of democratic control and planning, will enable art, culture and science to rise to unheard of levels. For the first time, Man will be able to draw himself up to his true stature in a world freed from wars, poverty and oppression.

August/October 1969