The Transitional Program Now, Nahuel Moreno 1980
These theses don't repeat the analyses and the tasks formulated in the Transition Program, the foundation document of the Fourth International. The question is not that we consider that document to be obsolete or superseded y history, but exactly the opposite. Two fundamental facts characterise the stage we are living in: the definite crisis of imperialism and of the Stalinist bureaucracy of the workers' states, and the return of the proletariat of the most industrialised countries to the historical scenery, as a fundamental protagonist of the process. In these circumstances the Transition Program and its central axis are actual more than ever; that axis is the construction of the Fourth International in all countries of the world, to defeat the counterrevolutionary bureaucratic apparatuses, to overcome the crisis of revolutionary leadership and to perform the world socialist revolution.
Nevertheless, to overcome the crisis of leadership, it is necessary to answer the new problems introduced by the colossal revolutionary upswing of the post-war years, which the Transition Program did neither foresee nor explain.
The most important of these new problems of the post-war years is the existence of the new workers' states, that emerged from the fact that mass mobilisations forced the counterrevolutionary bureaucratic and petty bourgeois leaderships to break with the bourgeoisie, expropriate it and seize power. In other words, the variant which Trotsky qualifies as highly improbable is the only one that has happened till now.
But when pointing out this new phenomenon, we must add that our program is more valid than ever. In fact, if this variant should become general to all countries over the world, then the necessity would be at order with indispensable character to accomplish the political revolution against those petty bourgeois and bureaucratic leaderships and hence to build Trotskyist parties and the Trotskyist International. If these bureaucratic leaderships go on to be in power, the only alternative for mankind will be the revolution or the nuclear holocaust.
We state this as a theoretic hypothesis to have a demonstration by the absurd, since we believe not at all that the bureaucratic leaderships, completely at the service of the imperialist counterrevolution, will expropriate the bourgeoisie in the whole world.
Apart from that, Trotsky himself pointed out two gaps in the Transitional Program, two problems that consciously he didn't deal with: the economic situation and the problems and tasks that would rise after the seize of power. In these theses we try to fill up both gaps.
As for the first, we indicate that the world economy is a whole, dominated by imperialism; that the economy of the workers' states is subject to it and that there don't exist two economies. We also demonstrate how one of the essential postulates of the program - the productive forces of mankind have stopped growing - is confirmed and enhanced, since the boom of the imperialist economy develops the destructive forces and submits the majority of mankind to misery and growing super exploitation.
As for the second, we assert that in the stage of transition from capitalism to socialism - which starts with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie - the necessities of the mass mobilisation give rise to several new slogans, as well as to the extension of older ones that acquire a heavier weight. For instance, the war between workers' states or the invasion from one to another one, that blot of the Stalinist bureaucracy, claims for a fundamental slogan that only we can raise: The federation of the existing workers' states. At the same time is at order the defence of a workers' state invaded by another one, specially when it's a small one that is victim of the great Russian or Chinese chauvinist eagerness.
Other problems that we enter upon are: the new weight the democratic slogans have acquired and the struggle for the Constituent Assembly; the guerrilla war; the character of the post-war revolutions; how February revolutions in this stage did become generalised and even did come to expropriate the bourgeoisie, and how the internal logic of this phenomenon confirms the permanent revolution.
That means, our theses pretend to confirm the Transition Program and its method, enriched by the new phenomena that happened after its wording. We want to demonstrate how its analysis and fundamental postulates have been ratified in this end of the twentieth century, in which we live the most great revolutionary upswing ever known by mankind.
Our International was founded in 1938 on the basis of a series of analyses and general principles that supported it. Those fundamental bases on which the Fourth International was build have been completely corroborated by the experience of more than hundred years of workers' struggle, and concretely by the struggle of the proletariat and the colonial peoples in the last forty years. Schematically, these principles were the following:
First: the productive forces of mankind have stopped growing under imperialism and, as a consequence of that, all technical development did not improve the standard of living of the masses; on the contrary, it provoked a growing misery and new wars. On the other hand, the productive forces have entered into contradiction, not only with the private capitalist imperialist property but also with the existence of national states.
Second: due to these contradictions, an historical epoch of wars, crises and revolutions will open up. By 'historical epoch' we understand a century approximately.
Third: the character of the class struggle and the revolution becomes global. That means concretely that we enter the most revolutionary epoch of history, in which all phenomena have to be judged from the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary point of view and not from the point of view of the states or of any other structural or superstructural phenomenon.
Fourth: the crisis of mankind is a consequence of the crisis of leadership of the proletariat. In other words, while the proletariat doesn't overcome the crisis of leadership, mankind will go from crisis into crisis, each of which will be more acute than the one before.
Fifth: the crisis of leadership of the world proletariat is not an abstract phenomenon but the consequence of the fact that the recognised leaderships of the workers' and mass movement, among them the Social Democracy and principally Stalinism, went over to the imperialist bourgeois order. Historically any bureaucratic or petty bourgeois leadership - nationalist, leftist, Social Democrat or Stalinist - is directly or indirectly at the service of the imperialist counterrevolution.
Sixth: the treason of the leaderships is due to social causes: the bureaucratisation of the workers' organisations - among them the SU - and the formation of a workers' aristocracy. The workers' bureaucracy and the ruling petty bourgeoisie and its parties, being a privileged sector, cannot be recovered for the revolution. That's why Stalinism is the hegemonic sector of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, since it monopolises the control over the principal workers' state, an unlimited source of privileges.
Seventh: the ideology or theory of all those petty bourgeois and bureaucratic currents - principally Stalinism - is one of socialism in only one country and of pacific coexistence with imperialism. They are the most ominous theory, ideology and program for the world proletariat.
Eighth: the only theory and program that consequently face the Stalinist and Social Democrat theory of socialism in only one country and of pacific coexistence or collaboration with imperialism, are the theory of the permanent revolution in its second formulation: the theory of the international socialist revolution and of the permanent mobilisation of the working class and its allies to seize power and to set up a revolutionary dictatorship that should defeat imperialism in the world, destroy the national states in a revolutionary way and establish the federation of the world socialist soviet republics to start building socialism.
Ninth: the expropriation of the national bourgeoisie and landowners is a tactic question for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. Its great strategic aim is to develop the socialist revolution in the region and in the world and to liquidate the national frontiers, so as to establish socialism all over the planet.
Tenth: the principal task in order to overcome the leadership crisis of the proletariat goes through building Trotskyist mass parties and the world party of the socialist revolution, the Fourth International, in all countries of the world. These Trotskyist mass parties can only be built if they carry on an implacable struggle against the bureaucratic and petty bourgeois leaderships inside the mass movement, independently from the fact that those leaderships may occasionally conduct some progressive or revolutionary struggle, forced as they are under the pressure of the mass movement, and even if they come to break up with the bourgeoisie and set up a workers' and peasants' government.
Eleventh: nothing demonstrates better the counterrevolutionary character of Stalinism than its role as a bonapartist government in the SU itself. This government unavoidably pushes the SU to a growing crisis of an economic, social, political and cultural character. The bureaucracy with its regime undermines day after day the first workers' state in history, progressively degenerating it. Only a political revolution against the bureaucracy, leaded by a Trotskyist party, can overcome that historic crisis of the workers' state, which suffers an acute degenerative process. The aim of that political revolution is to impose again a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat according to the model of Lenin and Trotsky.
Twelfth: the political revolution that has to be made in the SU against the ruling bureaucratic caste is part of the world-wide struggle to sweep out of the leadership of the mass movement all the Stalinist, Social Democrat and petty bourgeois parties that rule it.
Thirteenth: all the previous points have been concretised in the wording as well as in the method of the Transition Program. It's the program to mobilise the proletariat for the seizure of power and for the establishment of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat; it's the program to develop the permanent mobilisation of all workers in the world for the building, along with that mobilisation, of the only revolutionary leadership that this process can have, the Trotskyist parties and the Fourth International.
Before the eighties of the former century, the proletariat only appeared sporadically on the historical scenery, in crucial moments as in the revolution of 1848 and in the organisation of the First International, that culminated in the Commune of Paris. It is only during the last three decades of the nineteenth century that the proletariat with its allies, the oppressed peoples and sectors, are going to occupy the role of the principal protagonist of the historical process. Its struggles acquire a continue and systematic character only from then on. During the present century it didn't refrain even a minute from struggling against the exploiters, specifically against capitalism and imperialism. Thanks to its struggles, the proletariat and the workers have obtained fundamental minimum conquests, such as the great trade unions, the workers' parties, the social rights and, since the October Revolution and specially after the Second World War, revolutionary conquests as the expropriation of the bourgeoisie in many countries transformed into workers' states.
At the same time, also the proletariat's allies - the backward peoples, the oppressed nationalities, the peasants, the oppressed races and sectors - obtained great conquests. For example, nearly all the colonies of the old empires have acquired their political independence; the peasants of many backward countries obtained a bigger participation in the ownership of land; the Vietnam people made the American imperialism suffer its first military defeat; women obtained the right to vote, to abort and to divorce; in many countries and in those in which the bourgeoisie has been expropriated, also the landowners were completely expropriated; the black people in the United States made great advances in their struggle against discrimination, etc.
This struggle of the world working class against imperialism during more than a century is divided in two epochs, clearly delimited by the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Until the First World War the proletariat obtained victory after victory, but inside the capitalist and imperialist regime, without questioning it and without planning the revolutionary seizing of power. This is the reformist epoch. Since 1914 and the Russian Revolution opens the epoch we are living in, an epoch of crisis and constant decadence of imperialism and capitalism, and of world-wide confrontation of revolution and counterrevolution. This is the epoch of the international socialist revolution.
In spite of these great conquests of the workers' and popular movement, mankind and the workers all over the world see their misery, the wars and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust growing in those hundred years, even in the countries that claim to be socialist, that means, in the bureaucratised workers' states. That's the consequence of the fact that imperialism - in spite of the century of struggle against it - goes on dominating the world economy; and this domination is a source of growing misery, repression, wars and unheard-of sufferings for the workers. The existence of the workers' states, the great trade union organisations and the big workers' parties didn't mean any solution for this terrible lash. It rather meant its sharpening, its aggravating, as several contemporary facts are demonstrating: the plans of exploitation and misery that imperialism and the governments of the workers' states develop are supported by the leaderships of the big workers' parties and of the trade unions; mankind has suffered two world wars and plenty of local wars; we live under the actual menace of a new nuclear war that would liquidate all expression of life on the planet; the invasions to Hungary and Czechoslovakia, as well as the actual ones to Afghanistan by the SU, to Cambodia by Vietnam and to Vietnam by China, demonstrate that the existence of the actual workers' states is no warrant against war, but rather increases its danger.
This highly contradictory phenomenon - that the gain of great conquests due to the heroism and force of the struggle of the workers and oppressed, did worsen the crisis of mankind - has only one explanation: the leadership crisis of the proletariat, which provoked that up to now it was unable to defeat imperialism, in spite of having had the opportunity to do so since decades. That crisis is the consequence of the fact that today all the recognised workers' movement organisations - trade unions, parties and states - are controlled without exception by bureaucrats and other counterrevolutionary leaderships that directly or indirectly serve imperialism, principally the Stalinist bureaucrats of the SU.
The leadership crisis of the world proletariat or, to say it in another way, the treason of the recognised bureaucratic leadership of the workers' and mass movement, is the decisive factor for the historic defeats that happen, for the fact that any victory or conquest is iced, bridled and that imperialism has not been defeated.
The great workers' parties, the trade unions and the workers' states kept stuck in the straight waistcoat of bureaucrats: all of them are bureaucratic, none is revolutionary. All the known leaderships serve the counterrevolution.
A difference is to be observed concerning the counterrevolutionary apparatuses: the apparatus formed by the official Social Democrat leadership goes on with its counterrevolutionary role, and in the first post-war it played a decisive role; but Stalinism has no paragon as for bridling and giving up revolutions. It's a product of the revolutionary epoch, the most gigantic bureaucratic and counterrevolutionary apparatus ever known in history. We are talking about counterrevolutionary usefulness and not of aptitudes. Nobody is more agent of the bourgeoisie than a Social Democrat leadership, but at a planetary scale its usefulness for that bourgeoisie facing a revolutionary upswing is much less than the usefulness of Stalinism.
Due to the Social Democrat leaderships, the conquests of the proletariat during the reformist epoch ended up in an historic defeat: the imperialist war and the crisis of the Second International. Thanks to the Social Democrats, the socialist revolution remained limited to the SU and has been defeated in Italy, in Hungary and - the most important - in Germany. Afterwards, Stalinism occupies the front line as counterrevolutionary agent in the workers' ranks, and to it are due the later defeats.
Hence, the revolutionary epoch is to be divided into three clearly delimited stages:
The first stage runs from 1917 to 1923; in it, the October revolution triumphs because of the existence of a revolutionary Marxist party, the Third International is founded and the European revolution bursts out.
The second stage runs from 1923 to 1943 approximately; it opens with the defeat of the European revolution; it inaugurates twenty years of uninterrupted defeats; inside the SU and the Third International, it leads to the rise and victory of Stalinism, which policy contributed to the fascist victories of Chiang Kai-shek, Hitler and Franco, and to the second imperialist world war.
The third stage is the actual post-war period where we are in presence of the greatest revolutionary upswing ever known: it is able to expropriate the bourgeoisie in China and in a third part of mankind. But now, because Stalinism keeps on being the dominant leadership, relatively fortified by the military defeat of nazism, the workers' states that come up are bureaucratised workers' states and capitalism is able to recover in Europe.
Briefly, the two determinant elements of all contemporary phenomena, the last and first cause, which determine with different combinations of them all phenomena, are on one hand the revolutionary upswing of the struggle of the working class and the backward peoples, and on the other hand the crisis of revolutionary leadership. That point on its own confirms the validity of the Fourth International.
From the first imperialist war on, when starts the epoch of the definite crisis of imperialism and capitalism, the epoch of the socialist revolution, the causal relations between the historical events change. Concerning the great historical epoch and the normal development of societies, Marxism has sustained that the red string that explains all phenomena is the economic processes. But in an epoch of revolution and crisis, this general law has a particular refraction that inverts the causal relationships, transforming the most subjective of the factors – the revolutionary leadership - into the fundamental cause of the other phenomena, including the economic ones. Until the First World War the economic processes had a prevailing character while the subjective factors did not have great importance. The struggle itself of the working class was reformist, because it didn't attempt against the capitalist accumulation or against the capitalist economic development, nor against its laws; at most it meant a slight variation of the process. That is why it was a reformist epoch. But, from the First World War on, matters have changed. The economic processes are no longer the determinant ones and the subjective factor - the leadership - converts itself into the fundamental one. It should be reminded that this is so because the whole epoch is determined by the revolutionary struggles of the masses.
The existence of Marx and Engels in the nineteenth century was not an objective factor in the outcome of any historical process. Their existence could neither guarantee the victory nor avoid the defeat of the proletarian revolution in 1848, nor of the Commune of Paris. On the other hand the existence of Lenin and Trotsky and of the Bolshevik Party could guarantee the victory of the October Revolution, while in Germany the lack of a Bolshevik party and of a Lenin and a Trotsky provoked the impossibility to guarantee the victory of the socialist revolution. In the same way, the existence of bureaucratic counterrevolutionary leaderships in front of the great socialist parties allowed the burst out of the First World War.
A fundamental historical consequence of that inversión in the causal line of historical events will manifest itself in the dialectics of victories and defeats of the world proletariat.
The Social Democrat left was confident in the linear and evolutionary process; because of the lack of maturity of the proletariat, and of the treason of its leaderships, recessions and defeats had to be recognised; so it formulated a Marxist dialectic law in a beautiful phrase: the proletariat's way is paved with defeats that lead to victory. So, they pointed out the dialectics of defeats and victories, the transformation of the former into the latter. But the First World War has crudely put in evidence the new determining factor of the historical processes: the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the world proletariat. So it established an inverted dialectic of the relationship between victories and defeats, valid for the whole epoch that opens with the First World War and more actual that ever. This law may be formulated as follows: the proletariat will not be able to defeat world imperialism as long as it doesn't overcome its crisis of revolutionary leadership; and because of this, all its struggles will be full of victories that unavoidably will take us to catastrophic defeats. Nothing better to show it as the post-war economic boom: its real cause is the treason of Stalinism, which invited the western toilers to work more than ever for imperialism.
As long as the apparatuses go on controlling the mass movement, every revolutionary victory will unavoidably transform into a defeat. This is due to the relationship between the bureaucratic apparatuses and the permanent mobilisation of the workers. Any bureaucratic leadership takes its power from the direct or indirect support it has from the exploiters to bridle the workers' permanent mobilisation. On the other hand, this mobilisation is a mortal menace for the bureaucracy itself. For this reason, any conquest the bureaucracy is forced to head is administrated by it to bridle the revolutionary mobilisation, to stop the process at the point of that conquest. But in this revolutionary epoch, any advance that is not followed by another advance means a move backwards. For this reason the bureaucracy with its policy of bridle on one side, and the defence of its privileges in front of the masses, on the other, is forced to struggle against the permanent mobilisation of the workers, to transform their victories in a defeat of the permanent revolution.
Till the First World War, before entering into its definitive crisis, imperialism deployed the maximum of possibilities of capitalist development all over the world, principally in the most advanced countries. There was a huge economic boom, just as in this post-war. Thanks to the capitalist colonisation of the backward countries throughout the world, the different advanced capitalist nations transformed themselves into imperialist powers, growing quickly without crashes among each other. We had approximately fifty years of impulsive capitalist development (from 1870 to 1914), with short interruptions, cyclical crises that were quickly overcome. (To be exact, we should say that this development started near the end of the last century, because before there had been a stage of capitalist depression.) All this explains that there has been no big upheaval in the international policy, with the exception of the colonial wars, the Japanese-Russian war and the violent colonisation processes of the backward countries. While the spoils of war from the backward countries lasted, there were no problems among the imperialist powers.
Workers didn't stop for even a day the frontal battle against capitalism and imperialism. Thanks to those heroic struggles, the working class of the advanced countries obtained great democratic minimum conquests - the eight hour journey, the vote, among others - as well as the emerging of powerful trade union and political organisations.
It is true, too, that those conquests were seized from imperialism while it was enriching itself thanks to the exploitation of the backward countries; imperialism was able to make concessions without putting in danger its own existence. That's why, excepting some cases, this first stage in the world proletarian struggle against imperialism acquires a reformist, non revolutionary character; it is a stage of quantitative accumulation of victories and conquests inside capitalism itself; the proletariat does not question capitalism nor has it in mind to seize power from it. That doesn't mean that the bourgeoisie has made grants on its own. On the contrary, each advance of the proletariat was the result of a merciless struggle against that bourgeoisie.
The development of capitalism, apparently pacific and progressive under the first epoch of imperialism, unveils its real character when the First World War bursts out. Unveiled are the sharp contradictions, between the development of the productive forces inside the strait waistcoat of the private capitalist and imperialist property on one side, and the national boundaries on the other. In fact, all the capitalist contradictions (fierce competition between monopolies, anarchy in the production) become unveiled with the war, from which they are rather the cause. It seems that all these contradictions had been mitigated, due to the emerging of the monopolies and the colonisation of the backward countries by the financial capitals; but the very outburst of the war showed that it was not so; on the contrary, these contradictions had developed and worsened. As soon as there were no more backward countries to be given out, the imperialist bandits confronted among each other in the First World War to settle who would dominate the colonial and capitalist world. This terrifying conflagration was the new expression of the capitalist crisis, which up to then did only manifest itself as a cyclic crisis. The capitalist competition no longer expressed itself as the bankruptcy of some enterprises; it expressed itself through the destruction of whole countries. The proletariat has paid the crisis of the world capitalist order with its own holocaust. The fifty years of victories, of accumulation of conquests, transformed themselves from night to morning in the first serious historical defeat of the working class. Because the First World War was really that: a terrible historical defeat of the world working class.
That defeat was because the Second International, with its national parties, had gone over completely to the bourgeois order. The leaderships of the socialist parties managed to persuade the working class of their countries to run into the trenches and to be killed in favour of their own national exploiters. The quantitative accumulation of conquests had transformed step by step the trade union and political leaderships of the working class into powerful institutions tolerated by the imperialist regime, a fact that transformed these leaderships in reformist and bureaucratic, in agents of national capitalism inside the workers' ranks. At the same time the existence of imperialism with its over-abundance had allowed the stratification of the working class and had created privileged sectors, the workers' aristocracy, which supported the leaderships of the workers' movement and, through them, their own national bourgeoisie. Because of that, the Second International never was really an international, but rather a federation of parties. That federal character of the Second International was directly opposed to the imperialist character of the epoch. The Second International was never a world party and less a mortal enemy of imperialism. The lack of a consequent revolutionary anti imperialist and anti capitalist international, and of national revolutionary parties, is what allowed capitalism to conduct toilers and mankind to the first bloody bath.
But the fifty years of upswing, struggles and victories of the workers not only did have those catastrophic results for the workers' movement; they also generated the opposite. Fighting against the reformism of the official leaderships of the socialist parties and trade unions, fighting against the reformist bureaucracy, an anti reformist, anti bureaucratic, Marxist, trade unionist and anarchist revolutionary left has been developing on an international scale. This revolutionary left acquired regional or national characteristics, but it never arrived at being an internationally organised tendency, nor had it conditions to be so. Anyhow, it was a fundamental part, the other aspect of the sustained upswing of the proletariat.
The highest expression of this revolutionary left current of the workers' movement was the Russian Bolshevik Party. It was the national result of that international, anti bureaucratic, revolutionary and anti reformist left, but at the same time it was qualitatively different. It was the only revolutionary Marxist party with mass influence that emerged in those fifty years of uninterrupted struggle of the workers' movement, and on the other hand, it was a new kind of Marxist party, the only one organised to conduct the revolution.
In opposition to Bolshevism, the revolutionary Marxist left of the Second International - and in general also the revolutionary non-Marxist left - acquired a propagandistic, trade unionist or dispersed intellectual character. It didn't succeed in building highly centralised revolutionary parties, clearly delimited from the reformist bureaucratic wing. It didn't even aim so. On the other hand, that current was in general spontaneist. It thought that the masses would resolve on their own the problem of their revolutionary leadership, with their revolutionary actions.
The Bolshevik Party is a unique case and its existence and development obeyed to an exceptional combination of circumstances. The first one had to do with the very situation of Russia: under the regime of the tsar, there was no room for a reformist policy, since the autocratic regime didn't allow for it. It was a revolutionary, not a reformist stage, because to carry out the revolution against the tsar was definitely at order. This decisive necessity fell in the hands of a young industrial proletariat, highly concentrated, politically and ideologically part of the European proletariat. On the other hand, the political leadership of that proletariat was also part of the currents that existed inside the European proletariat. So, there were anarchists and Marxist tendencies; and among the latter, first came up revisionist and Marxist tendencies and later opportunist and revolutionary ones (the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks). The combination of all those factors took the Bolsheviks to the building of a party, independent from the reformist Mensheviks and with unique characteristics in the revolutionary and Marxist spectre: highly centralised, with professional revolutionaries, the only way of giving an answer to the urgent historical necessity of conducting the workers' revolution against the tsar. Russia was the country in Europe where the problem of power was stated with an urgent and immediate character: to turn over the existing government and to impose another one, that means, to carry out a democratic revolution. This combination of circumstances is what makes that a new kind of Marxist party appears, one built to carry on with the revolution and to seize power.
Sixty-three years after the victory the October Revolution, we must recognise that it has been an exception in this century, that there hasn't been another with its characteristics. There has been no similar revolutionary process, neither among the victorious revolutions, nor among those who have been defeated. Till now, the October revolution is an exception, as is also its result: the Third International. In order to determine with precision the reasons for that development, we must study not only the exceptional character of the October Revolution, but also that of the February Revolution in intimate relation to the former, as well as the hypothesis of the workers' and peasants' government, an hypothesis raised by the Bolsheviks between February and October and that didn't turn up in that moment but it did in many occasions in this post-war.
The exceptional character of the October Revolution is given, till now, by the existence of a party as the Bolshevik one. Without the existence of this party and of the revolutionary left of the world proletariat, there would have been neither a victory of the October Revolution, nor its most important gain, the foundation of the Third International. It should be emphasised that, on one hand, the Russian Revolution opens a new epoch of mankind, the epoch of the world socialist revolution; but on the other hand, it also closes another epoch. It's the combination of the end of an epoch and the beginning of another. The determinant factor of the October Revolution, the Leninist party, is the result of the previous epoch of fifty years of upswing and victories of the world proletariat. Without that epoch it is not possible to understand the emerging of the Bolshevik Party. Concretely, the world proletariat and the Russian party took fifty years in structuring the Bolshevik Party, which finished being solidly structured only in 1917, and which appears only as a clearly differentiated party since 1902.
But without an October Revolution and without a Bolshevik Party it wouldn't have been possible to found the Third International, nor to impel the development of the European and international socialist revolution 'as the most essential and important task of the revolution', the Bolsheviks said. Thanks to the struggle of the revolutionary left before and during the first imperialist war, the Third International, conducted by Lenin and Trotsky, started to overcome the leadership crisis of the proletariat. This is the first trial, since imperialism exists, to found a centralised and revolutionary International, that means, a world party to conduct the international socialist revolution.
Neither the foundation of the Third International nor the enormous upswing of the European proletariat has been able to create automatically really national Bolshevik parties; they only could set the basis for it. The historical experience has shown once more that the construction of a Bolshevik party never can be an automatic product of objective circumstances, even the most favourable ones. The old revolutionary left had a propagandistic, intellectual or trade union past; and the revolutionary Marxist currents inside the II International didn't have a strong and independent organisation, since they existed as an opposition to the bureaucratic leadership inside the reformism. That's what acted as a decisive subjective impeachment for the rapid development of those national Bolshevik parties. So, the lack of national Bolshevik parties and the impossibility to set them up just then, together with the treason of the Social Democracy, made it possible for the bourgeoisie to overcome the first wave of the after war socialist revolution in Germany, Italy, Hungary and the whole Europe. The failure of the first post war revolutionary wave, together with the tiredness of the Russian proletariat and the defeat of the German proletariat by the Social Democracy, gave rise to the start of the bureaucratisation of the Soviet Union and of the III International. And that bureaucratisation of the Soviet Union and of the III International will turn out to be the decisive political factor for the next twenty years that follow the defeat of the post war revolutionary upswing.
Lenin called the former stage of capitalism one of imperialist reaction, of generalised reaction, evolutionary and reformist; but that stage transforms itself into one of counterrevolution, with the emerging of a revolutionary epoch. Imperialism changes the reactionary methods of the former stage into methods of civil war, into straight forward counterrevolutionary methods.
The victory of the Stalinist bureaucratic leadership inside the Soviet Union and the Russian Communist Party, is merely an expression of the counterrevolutionary advances inside the first workers' state and the III International. On the other hand, Stalinism will also be a decisive factor for the continuity of those counterrevolutionary victories, and for opening the twenty most tragic years, in this century of struggle of the proletariat and the workers all over the world. Twenty years of only defeats for the workers and of victories for the counterrevolution.
The twenty years of counterrevolutionary victories and of defeats of the world proletariat, start with the victories of Mussolini in Italy and of Stalinism in the Soviet Union from 1923 on, shortly before Lenin's death. The decisive one of those two counterrevolutionary victories, that one that will have definitely an historical importance will be that of the Stalinist bureaucracy over the Soviet Union proletariat. It is that victory that will allow for other counterrevolutionary victories. The power of the Russian proletariat and of the October Revolution was so gigantic that several stages were necessary to consolidate the counterrevolutionary victory of Stalinism. It started with a reactionary process, and culminated with a counterrevolutionary policy like the Moscow Trials. As a consequence, a parasite and privileged caste takes over the government. That government acquires a clear counterrevolutionary bonapartist character; it uses civil war methods just as any counterrevolution; it exterminates all currents of the workers' vanguard and of the Soviet Communist Party, as well as the independent revolutionary Marxists. This counterrevolutionary bonapartist government of Stalin makes its most cruel attacks against Trotskyism, the only consequent heir of the revolutionary traditions of Bolshevism.
This bureaucratisation process happened not only in the Soviet Union, in the worker's state, but also in the whole III International and in all communist parties of the world. It was due to this victory of Stalinism inside the worker's class that the defeat of that class by Chiang Kai-shek and later by Hitler and by Franco could happen. Each one of those defeats made the other counterrevolutionary victories easier, because they strengthened the Stalinist apparatus inside the Soviet Union and inside the III International, and so the crisis of leadership of the world proletariat became worse and worse. Due to that crisis, the proletariat was not able to fight with success the economical crisis of 1929, and so it arrived at the deepest level of misery, yet known by the toilers. As another consequence of the crisis of leadership, the misery of the toilers was growing also in the Soviet Union.
The whole chain of historical defeats had its climax with two immense defeats of the world proletariat, combined in one process: the second world war. In this war, an inter imperialist war is combined with the first counterrevolutionary war of the century, conducted by the Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. We deal with two wars having completely opposite social characteristics: one is the inter imperialist war of the Axis against the Allied; the other is the war of Nazism against the Soviet Union. When the October Revolution starts, a civil war is combined with the intervention of the Allied powers; but it was not a full war conducted by imperialism against the new-born Soviet Union, because of the crisis of that imperialism. The Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union meant a full counterrevolutionary war.
During that whole stage of defeats, the most desperate class struggle didn't stop at any moment. It is the epoch of fascism, but also of the fight against it. The civil war against Chiang Kai-shek and against Franco, as well as that of Trotskyism against Stalinism, are the most clear expressions, in different sectors of the class struggle, of the fact that this struggle is heavier than ever, and that, despite the counterrevolutionary victories, the epoch is all the time that of the socialist revolution and of the international counterrevolution.
During that whole stage, the greatest battles of the world proletariat are defensive. Of those defensive battles, the two most important are that given by the working people of the Soviet Union against the Nazi invasion and, at a superstructural level, that of the Trotskyists to save the revolutionary Marxist legacy.