The Transitional Program Now, Nahuel Moreno 1980
After the Russian October Revolution, no more October revolutions happened, neither victorious nor defeated; that was against all our forecasts. The actual after-war, despite being the most revolutionary stage of history, only gave rise to February revolutions. Some were victorious, some have been defeated and some frozen, but all of them were only February revolutions.
Before going on with that idea, let's stress the difference between an October revolution and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, since the only revolution that expropriated the bourgeoisie before the war has been the October Revolution of 1917, and that fact may lead us to a false analogy, to the affirmation that both terms are synonyms. The after-war experience has shown that they are not.
The October revolution - as any revolution - is essentially a socio-political process with economic consequences. It has two characteristics that differentiate it definitely from any other revolution.
The first is the emergence of revolutionary organisations of workers' and mass power, like the soviets. The second is closely related to the former and is decisive: the existence of a revolutionary Marxist party that conducts the insurrection and the armed struggle, and seizes power only as a mean to develop the mobilisation of the masses and the international socialist revolution. “Without these two conditions, there is no October revolution.”
The February revolution is different from the October revolution, but the former is intimately connected to the latter. It has to be the necessary prologue to the October revolution in order to be able to advance.
February is a workers' and popular revolution that faces the exploiters of imperialism, the bourgeoisie and the land lords linked to the bourgeoisie, and destroys the bourgeois state apparatus and provokes its crisis. By the class dynamics and by the enemy they face, both revolutions are socialist. The difference between them is in the different level of consciousness of the mass movement and, principally, in the relation between the revolutionary Marxist party on one hand and the mass movement and the running revolutionary process on the other hand. Resuming: the February revolution is unconsciously socialist while the October revolution is consciously socialist. We could say - a bit like Hegel and Marx - that the former is a socialist revolution “an sich” while the latter is a socialist revolution “fr sich”.
The February revolutions have a logic that reflects the workers' and mass movement in this stage of revolutionary upswing. Nearly all revolutions come up when the profound objective necessities of the mass movement come to an insupportable situation. But its level of consciousness and that of its leaders continues to be backward, compared with that objective situation that conducts to the revolution. Despite this backwardness, revolutions happen. That has to do with the fact that the proletariat - unlike the bourgeoisie under feudalism - has no conditions for its consciousness to mature under the conditions of capitalism. We have a revolutionary process, not an evolutionary one. The proletariat gains consciousness as dominated class, while it is fighting against another class for power.
That combination - a low consciousness together with a revolutionary mobilisation, so widespread that it manages to make a revolution - makes up a February revolution. The low consciousness of that workers' movement, even during the revolution, makes it possible for the counterrevolutionary apparatuses and the petty bourgeois currents (reformist by program and concepts) to match with the revolution and to conduct it during a stage.
The February revolution is completely different from the October revolution, as for the level of consciousness and the leadership. The latter is characterised by being headed by a revolutionary Marxist leadership; the former is conducted by the bureaucratic and petty bourgeois apparatuses of the mass movement. The consciously counterrevolutionary sector understands the meaning of the February revolution. It intervenes precisely in order to maintain the revolution at that low level of consciousness and in a bourgeois democratic stage, limited to the national frame, preventing it from developing into a socialist revolution. That means, it intervenes to bridle its mortal enemy, the permanent mobilisation of the masses.
This is possible because, in general, the tasks faced by the February revolution are democratic. As a consequence of the backwardness of the mass movement, and the objective situation of the class struggle, these revolutions always have been made against despotic dictatorships, against totalitarianism and Bonapartism which are characteristic of capitalism in its stage of agony. Hence, the opportunist leadership may advocate to stop the revolution at the level of those democratic or nationalist aims, in order to bridle the mobilisation.
Trotsky made an excellent analysis of the February revolution and its relation with the October revolution. He stressed its character of a socialist revolution that hands over power to the national bourgeoisie, through the opportunist leaderships. His writings, as well as those of Lenin in 1917, show how any February revolution may - as a most improbable variant - force the opportunist parties to go beyond their programs and aims. They do so, urged by the mass movement but precisely in order to get control over it, and they may arrive at the point of breaking with the bourgeoisie, as a step towards the expropriation of capitalism and the setting up of a workers' state. But that political and theoretic issue is, as we said, extremely improbable. The classical analysis of Trotsky and of our International has been that the February revolution would be the predecessor of the October revolution and that, without the latter, there can be no rupture with the bourgeoisie, neither expropriation of it, not even the fulfilling of the bourgeois democratic tasks that remain.
As for the tasks, we were wrong, since a third part of mankind - apart from the SU - has arrived at the expropriation of the bourgeoisie without an October revolution, and has realised important democratic tasks such as to overthrow dictatorships, expropriate land lords, distribute land among peasants, etc. But from an historical point of view, from the point of view of the development of the socialist revolution, Trotsky was right: if there is no October revolution after the February revolution, that means, if there is no seizure of power by a revolutionary Marxist party supported by the revolutionary organisation of the mass movement, then there is no possibility for the revolution to accelerate and to get a permanent character.
The fact that we did confound the February revolutions with the bourgeois democratic ones has led us to give them only minor importance. In fact, February has a fundamental and decisive importance, the same importance as that of the conquest of the great trade unions in the reformist epoch. Our century has shown that we are dealing with different categories, although they are combined with each other in the Russian Revolution. February is a socialist revolution, definitely socialist, that destroys the capitalist state apparatus by means of a revolutionary armed struggle of the workers. That the essential axes of the program of that revolution are or aren't the democratic tasks, is a problem that belongs to the “Transition Program”. The transitional process that leads towards the February revolution gives an enormous weight to the democratic tasks. But that doesn't mean it is a bourgeois democratic revolution. In our century, there are no more bourgeois democratic revolutions - with only some exceptions like the Russian Revolution. There are only socialist revolutions, although it may be with or without the maturation of the subjective factor.
In Russia we had a combination of the socialist revolution with the bourgeois democratic one in the February revolution. But that was due to the existence of tsarism and of the land lords that supported it. Anyhow, the bourgeois democratic element, that means, the struggle against feudal remainders, was not the decisive one, since Tsarism was part of the world imperialist regime and was tightly bound to Russian capitalism.
Apart from a few exceptions, that situation no longer exists in the world. There are neither tsars nor ruling feudal land lords left over. Everywhere rules imperialism, capitalism, capitalist land lords or the bureaucracy. All the actual revolutions are socialist by the enemy they face, the bourgeoisie and its state apparatus, and by the class character of those who make them, the workers. The proletariat has been forced to carry through a February revolution as a prologue to the necessary October revolution. This is due, on one hand, to the agony of capitalism, its putrefaction, and the general drawback it imposes on mankind, and on the other hand to the preconceived ideas and the poor political level of the proletariat as well as the existence of bureaucratic and petty bourgeois leaderships that reinforce them. That means, the proletariat pays with a double sacrifice and historic effort, that backwardness in its consciousness and the decadence of capitalism.
We should enrich the analysis of the Russian Revolution, giving an enormous importance to the revolution of 1905 and to that of February 1917. We should study the relation of the latter with October. Because, against all our beliefs, what has happened are 1905 and February revolutions, not October ones. All the outlooks and hypothesis opened by the February revolution, and that remained on the way because of the October victory, came to reality in the actual after-war. We may state that the actual after-war is the stage of the unconscious socialist revolution, of a generalised February all over the planet. If we look at it with a broad historical theoretic view, February has a profound logic and importance. If we accepted that there would be only a revolution when the industrial proletariat, conducted by a Marxist party, makes it, then the revolutionary process of the masses would be paralysed; there would be no possible revolution until the proletariat would have matured its consciousness and that of its party; the class struggle would stop and the workers wouldn't be able to make advances in any conquest at all. But so it isn't. The revolutionary struggles of the masses go on obtaining great historic conquests and making victorious revolutions despite their lack of maturity.
So we come to the question, what possibilities there are for new October revolutions to happen. The whole attack of revisionism - using expressions taken from the bourgeois sociology - is finally oriented against what they call “the model of the October revolution”. Just as Pablo, they point out that the model didn't happen again in the actual after-war, and they draw the revisionist conclusion that this kind of revolutions belongs to the past and will not happen any more. They claim that a new theory of the revolution is coming up, but as any revisionist current, they qualify as new theories, old ones of the pre-Marxist epoch, when the popular democratic revolutions against absolutism were at order. They claim to be new, a very old model, that of all the democratic revolutions previous to October.
We believe exactly the opposite. There is absolutely no reason for new October revolutions not to happen. The Februarys mature in the consciousness of the proletariat and that maturation, by the way, will be in support of the strengthening of our parties. Both processes will lead unavoidably to the October revolution, just as the 1905 and the February revolutions led to the Bolshevik October revolution. It is an unavoidable sequence of the revolutionary upswing. Surely, it should be recognised that the October victory is much more difficult than the February victory, and that the February revolutions happen and make advances, to a greater extend than our forecasts, due to objective circumstances. But that's no reason for drawing back the Marxist thought and for theorising that the February revolutions are the only ones possible to happen in the actual revolutionary stage, the October revolution being an exception that cannot happen again.
On the other hand, any February revolution that doesn't transform itself into an October revolution must necessarily degenerate. No February revolution is able to maintain a permanent rhythm, because the role of the petty bourgeois and bureaucratic leaderships that head it is always the same: to freeze the process of permanent revolution, to bridle, to confine, to defeat the mass movement. Therefore, any February revolution, with or without expropriation of the bourgeoisie, is at the origin of recurrent February revolutions. That means, the February revolution is not a definite solution of the revolutionary process. It always urges to make new Februarys or great mass mobilisations to put a stop to the unavoidable retrogression provoked by the treasonable leaderships. A splendid example of that phenomenon is the fact that the treason of the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries forced the masses to carry out the great mobilisation against Kornilov. Another example is the Portuguese revolution of 1974. It was a great February revolution that didn't transform itself into an October revolution and that finally put the right wing government of Eanes into power.
The February revolution generates recurrent Februarys since it doesn't resolve anything, even when it obtains great victories. Not only does the February revolution happen in many countries in the actual revolutionary stage, but it also repeats itself several times in the same country, as long as it doesn't advance towards October. We therefore should more precisely characterise that stage as revolutionary. It is the stage of objective revolutions, with or without the subjective factor. The revolutionary upswing is so great that revolutions happen, even with immature subjective factors.
The February revolutions are characteristic for the actual stage, and possibly they will go on being so for a long time, while the conditions for October revolutions are maturing. But they are the prologue towards October, even if the process is taking a lot of time and in many occasions is thwarted and doesn't come to October, as happened in all cases of the actual after-war.
The process also gave rise to a new method of making a revolution, which we didn't take into account, or at least not in all its dimensions: the guerrilla warfare.
The most dynamic, the most important, the richest revolutions of the actual after-war - the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Cuban - developed through guerrilla warfare. The whole process of guerrilla warfare in the colonial and semi-colonial world obtained at least the national independence of many colonies, even if it didn't achieve the expropriation of the bourgeoisie (Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, etc.). Our outlooks didn't foresee the extent and the importance the guerrilla warfare of the after-war acquired.
This is another consequence of our false analogy with the former after-war. The civil war in the Russian Revolution happened after October, and the armed struggle in 1905 and in February and in October 1917, had an urban insurrection character. Also, guerrilla warfare occurred in no other revolution (Germany, Spain, etc.). So, we arrived at the false conclusion that history would repeat in the second after-war: there would be no guerrilla but only February-like and October-like urban insurrections.
As we said, the Russian civil war happened after October. The conduction of the Bolshevik Party gave it the character of a conscious socialist civil war, the prolongation of the October Revolution. But in the actual after-war, civil war has been previous to the February revolutions, and the armed struggle made the victory of those revolutions possible. That's because in this stage of crisis without issue of imperialism, the general methods of struggle with which the exploiters face the mass movement have changed.
Whenever possible, imperialism and its agents attack the mass movement with methods of the most merciless civil war. They not only use their “official” armed forces, but also the parallel police forces and fascist gangs. Facing the methods used by the counterrevolution - and its triumphs - a guerrilla warfare comes up as an expression of the necessity of the mass movement to defend itself, using the same violent methods.
The guerrilla assumes socialist characteristics because it always faces pro imperialist, brutally dictatorial governments, it is part of the revolutionary mass movement and it acquires a multitudinous, workers' and popular character. It faces the bourgeois state apparatus with the armed revolutionary mobilisation of the workers and the people. This is a result of its class dynamics since, by aims and program, the guerrilla leaderships always have favoured a popular front. No guerrilla leadership has ever aimed consciously at making a socialist revolution, just as the bureaucratic petty bourgeois leaderships don't. But when the mass movement assumes the method of guerrilla mobilisation, the latter transforms itself into a socialist, workers' and popular civil war that destroys the basic support of the bourgeois state apparatus, the armed forces.
This kind of civil war happens when the mass movement has suffered serious defeats, has a poor level of consciousness and, at the same time, is forced to answer the brutal attacks of the counterrevolution. Therefore, the opportunist petty bourgeois leaderships had the possibility to confine - and effectively confined - those civil wars into programs that are popular, democratic and nationalist, not socialist, not of development of the permanent revolution. Neither the opportunist leaderships nor the mass movement was conscious that they were originating a much deeper February revolution than the Russian one, since they went immediately towards the destruction of the armed forces of the bourgeois state, using civil war methods. Just as the February revolution was an unconscious socialist revolution, so was the guerrilla an unconscious socialist civil war, due to the low level of consciousness of the masses and due to the opportunist policy of its leadership.
Guerrilla wars with civil war character are extremely progressive, and there will be more of them, given the character of the epoch, because they are one more expression of the convulsive and revolutionary character of this epoch. They are an expression of the putrefaction of the monopolist imperialist regime and of the methods of civil war with which that regime faces the masses. They are an expression also of the low level of consciousness of the toilers and of the strength of the bureaucratic petty bourgeois leaderships.
The program of the guerrilla warfare always is oriented against the highest expression of the counterrevolution: the fascist and semi-fascist dictatorships. That's why they have a democratic nationalist program, but that doesn't make them to be democratic bourgeois revolutions. By their dynamics, they face the capitalist property and the capitalist state, not feudal states.
The decadence of imperialism and the methods of civil war it uses to face the toilers, concern the “people” as a whole. That bourgeois imperialist counterrevolution provokes a revolt, not only of the peasants, the students and the working class, but also of sectors of the petty bourgeoisie and, sometimes, sectors of the bourgeoisie itself. All these sectors are urged to adopt methods of guerrilla warfare to defend themselves against the imperialist and capitalist counterrevolution that concerns them. Even the bureaucracy of the workers' parties, principally the Stalinist, is forced to use these methods in some circumstances, when it faces the advance of the counterrevolution which urges it to defend itself, arms in hand, or to disappear. All these petty bourgeois and bureaucratic sectors, and even sectors of the lower bourgeoisie, which are forced to use those methods unwillingly, will be the social and political base of the leadership of that guerrilla war, because revolutionary Marxist mass parties that could conduct it don't exist. It's one more expression of the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the world proletariat.
Those sectors are urged not only to take part in the guerrilla warfare, but even to head it, because of the vacuum of leadership, but that doesn't mean they abandon their concepts against the permanent mobilisation of the masses and against its democratic revolutionary organisation. On the contrary, they intervene for reasons of self-defence in front of the counterrevolution, but at the same time in order to bridle, to channel and to smash the revolutionary permanent mobilisation of the mass movement, which is the greatest potential danger they face as privileged sectors.
Those sectors have started to develop new revisionist theories and policies. So came up the Maoist theory of the prolonged popular war or that of the Guevaraist guerrilla focus. Both have a common denominator which is an over-dimensioned and absolute appreciation of the guerrilla warfare, its technical and military aspects, and to minimise the influence of the permanent mobilisation of the mass movement and of its democratic organisation. At the same time, that's why these petty bourgeois and bureaucratic sectors, conducting the guerrilla movement and the civil war, try to get a ferrous control over the mass movement through the exclusive military organisation. They confine it into the strait waistcoat of the military discipline, to prevent any initiative, any permanently revolutionary process and any democracy. At the same time, they try to get rid of the class character, of the socialist character the civil war has, by means of the military organisation. They develop the theory that it is a popular war which develops a new man, where the class differences disappear, where all classes unite. Everybody should be transformed into a guerrilla fighter, and the class character, the socialist character of the guerrilla should be eliminated. The whole policy of these leaderships points to a rigid, bureaucratic, military control of the mass movement. On the other hand, the military hierarchy, indispensable for a military struggle, is transferred to the political scenery, imposing a rigid, bureaucratic political structure upon the mass movement that intervenes in the guerrilla warfare.
That's why the petty bourgeois currents love the guerrilla warfare as they conceive it, since it allows them to have the tightest control over the revolutionary mass movement.
So, the masses are prevented from raising their consciousness and, by the way, they are maintained inside the theoretic frame of the realisation of a limited bourgeois- democratic or national-socialist revolution, impeding them to advance further, once the dictatorial government is overthrown. That's why unity with the bourgeoisie is claimed, splitting it up into progressive and regressive sectors. So an intent is made to transform the guerrilla front into its opposite, into a front that doesn't fight against the nodal point of the bourgeoisie, its state apparatus, but only against some bourgeois sectors, being united with other bourgeois sectors. In this way, the socialist civil war is oriented towards a popular front of the worst kind, combined with a guerrilla warfare.
That concept of guerrilla warfare to impose a popular front, that opportunist and reactionary policy of bringing the mass movement under military and political discipline, turns out to be much more dangerous when it is taken up and theorised by petty bourgeois, elitist groups, by degenerate sectors, by students and even vanguard groups of the workers themselves that feel themselves impotent in front of the treason of the traditional leaderships of the mass movement, and orient themselves towards desperate actions at their own risk. The urban terrorism that is developing in Europe and in other regions of the world is part of these vanguard guerrilla currents. The theorists and politicians of the rural guerrilla focus belong to the same social and political sectors as those of the urban guerrilla. That orientation of guerrilla or terrorism by small vanguard groups is fatal for the mass movement, and it has to be fought against as such, by all our sections. It is fatal, as much as the counterrevolutionary orientation of the opportunist leaderships of the mass guerrilla. We are completely against any adventurous action of groups of valiant people separated from the mass movement. The guerrilla war that we propose is one supported by the mass movement. That's the one we support, although its leaderships are opportunist, denouncing these leaders for their counterrevolutionary role, for their policy of bridling the mass movement and bringing it under discipline in order to prevent it to go on with the permanent mobilisation. We are completely against starting mini-wars of small vanguard groups, completely separated from the mass movement. This petty bourgeois, elitist attitude of the guerrilla and terrorist currents is the other aspect of the bureaucratic and petty bourgeois leadership of the true, socialist, mass guerrilla warfare. It is equally fatal, even when these vanguard guerrilla currents propose their policy as a rejection of the opportunist leaderships of the mass movement.
They have in common with the counterrevolutionary opportunist leaderships of the mass guerrilla warfare that both don't trust in the permanent mobilisation of the workers' movement. They are against it. Both have a paternalist concept of the mass movement. They try to convince it that it is impotent with its independent mobilisation and organisation. It should arrive at the conclusion that the solution for all its problems comes from the actions of a small terrorist group, completely separated from the mass movement, or from the actions completely under control of the military apparatus in the hands of the bureaucracy or the petty bourgeoisie, that means, of the opportunist leaderships of the mass movement. In that sense, the opportunist guerrilla leaderships as well as the vanguard that faces them are counterrevolutionary, independently from the intentions of that vanguard itself.
The process that conducted to the formation of the bureaucratised workers' states in the actual post war period developed through a category that Trotsky had begun analysing: the workers' and peasants' government. We should give full attention to this category, in order to defend it as well as to broaden it, since it acquired an extreme importance in the last years.
Behind that formula are hidden three different questions: a formulation that should popularise the class relations in the dictatorship of the proletariat, a political tactic against the reformist parties in order to force them to break up with the bourgeoisie and to unmask them in front of the mass movement, and a theoretic problem. Let's look at these three questions in the given order.
The formula of workers' and peasants' government has been used by the Bolsheviks as a popularisation of the dictatorship. The aim was to stress that it was a government of the two exploited classes, united in the government against the exploiters. It has been useful in the countries with peasants' majority in order to mark the political alliance between the peasants and the proletariat in the dictatorship, under the hegemony of the latter. In the countries with urban majority, which don't have an important peasantry but a powerful middle class, we should extend this popularisation and this slogan towards “”workers' and popular government”“, in order to stress the alliance that should allow the proletariat to seize power together with the urban and rural people.
The slogan of workers' and peasants' government becomes fundamental because of the importance the February revolutions acquired. As a tactical slogan, it is a call towards the petty bourgeois parties with mass influence that they should break up with the bourgeoisie and seize power in order to apply a revolutionary program against that bourgeoisie. It comes out to be our most important government policy, because of the character of the revolution they lead (a February revolution), and in order to fight their policy of class collaboration. This tactic aims at paving the way to obtain that the masses break up with the opportunist party and follow the revolutionary one, which is the only way to maintain the permanent mobilisation. To break up politically with the bourgeoisie, and even to expropriate it, doesn't change the petty bourgeois or bureaucratic character of the opportunist party, and our merciless struggle against it has to go on, as Lenin and Trotsky pointed out in 1917 when they analysed that possibility.
Let's see now what happens with that formula as an historical category. During the Russian revolution, after February, the Bolsheviks insist in requiring from the Mensheviks and from the Social Revolutionaries to break up with the bourgeoisie and to seize power, as a transitional stage towards the dictatorship of the proletariat. They call for the constitution of a workers' and peasants' government. The Bolshevik leaders engage themselves only to defend that government against any attack of the bourgeoisie. At the same time, they refuse to give it even the minor political support, since they planned to go on with a merciless struggle against those leaders in order to wipe them out of power and to seize power themselves, as the only warrant of a continuous development of the revolutionary process. The Russian opportunists refused to break with the bourgeoisie. Therefore, the possibility analysed by the Bolsheviks didn't come to reality.
In the “Transition Program”, Trotsky resumes that Bolshevik policy as a variant of very low probability. In really constraining objective circumstances (war, defeat, financial crash, revolutionary offensive of the masses, etc.), petty bourgeois parties - even Stalinist ones - could be forced to break up with the bourgeoisie and seize power, starting a new kind of government in which, after breaking up with the bourgeoisie, they still don't expropriate it, a short interregnum towards the dictatorship of the proletariat.
That variant, with very low probability according to Trotsky, is the only one that happened in the last 35 years. From the after-war on, all victorious workers' revolutions happened through that kind of workers' and peasants' government. The Stalinist petty bourgeois and bureaucratic parties like that of Mao, Tito, Enver Hoxha and Ho Chi Minh, or the nationalist democrat parties like that of Fidel Castro and “Che” Guevara have been those which broke up politically with the bourgeoisie and imperialism, seizing power and even arriving at expropriating the bourgeoisie, inaugurating a bureaucratic dictatorship of the proletariat.
We can make a generalisation about the possibility of the existence of a transitional stage, that would only be a !“short” episode on the way to the true dictatorship of the proletariat (Trotsky, “Transition Program”), an episode of rupture with the bourgeoisie but before the expropriation, valid for the case of the party that conducts the seizure of power being a reformist party as well as for the case of it being a revolutionary, Trotskyist party.
In the October Revolution we had a first period in which there was a government that did break politically with the bourgeoisie (that of the Bolsheviks in alliance with the Left Revolutionary Socialists), but without having expropriated the bourgeoisie. Trotsky points out that there was a workers' and peasants' government and that only from the fall of 1918 on, after the expropriation of the production means, we can speak of a proletarian dictatorship in Russia.
This is a government which is different from the dictatorship of the proletariat (where the bourgeoisie has been expropriated), the government of that short stage of the class struggle, a short and very contradictory period that goes from the political rupture with the bourgeoisie until its expropriation or until its regression towards a bourgeois government. That period is characterised by having an anti capitalist workers' and peasants' government, on the base of a capitalist economy. It's exactly the opposite of a degenerated workers' state, which has a government apparatus similar to that of the bourgeoisie, with a workers' economic base, transitional, based on the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.
The capitulation of the USec to the GRN (Government of National Reconstruction, of Nicaragua) urges us to think carefully about that slogan of workers' and peasants' government and about the policy we ought to have towards it.
A workers' and peasants' government may be conducted by an opportunist party or by a revolutionary Trotskyist party. So, there are bureaucratic as well as revolutionary workers' and peasants' governments. That clear distinction between two kinds of government leads towards two policies, diametrically opposite, for Trotskyism. If we have a workers' and peasants' government conducted by a reformist party - that went much beyond its aims, being urged to break up with the bourgeoisie because of objective circumstances, not as part of its program - Trotskyism will go on with its merciless criticism against that government and the reformist party that leads it. It will avoid any kind of confusion, not accepting any political responsibility for it, even when it was calling for that government to break up with the bourgeoisie and even being stubbornly decided to defend it against any attack of the bourgeoisie. Trotskyism will go on to be a mortal enemy of that party and that government, independently from the fact that it actuates in unique front with it when facing the attack of a common enemy.
The phenomenon of the bureaucratised workers' states is, among the new phenomena, one that should be emphasised, because it means the emergence of a new theoretic category provoked by reality.
Just as the former after-war provoked a phenomenon not foreseen by Marxism - the degeneration of the first workers' state, the SU, which urged Trotsky to formulate a new Marxist theory to describe its characteristics of degenerate bureaucratised workers' state - so in the actual after-war we have to explain and define new bureaucratised workers' states and the process that originated them.
The theoretic difficulty is rooted in the fact that these new states emerge in the epoch of greatest revolutionary upswing, while the first one is a product of counterrevolutionary victories. Two distinct stages, one counterrevolutionary and the other revolutionary, originate identical workers' states, bureaucratised ones.
We must remember that February revolutions that arrive at the expropriation of the bourgeoisie are a new category, just as in its time the category of degenerate workers' state was. In its time, the category of degenerate workers' state was surprising because we believed, the advance of the world counterrevolution would lead to the destruction of the workers' state. Nevertheless, the combination of the counterrevolution with the existence of the workers' state didn't lead to the destruction of the latter but rather to an extremely contradictory combination. The counterrevolutionary ruling over the government apparatus is united with the survival of the workers' state. In other words, the counterrevolution didn't become social but only political, it didn't arrive at the destruction of the workers' state but only at its degeneration. It was an extremely unstable combination of counterrevolution and workers' state. This has been a consequence of the strength of the latter.
Today we have a combination of revolutionary upswing, with counterrevolutionary apparatuses that proved to be much stronger than we believed. We believed that, in its first phase, the revolutionary upswing would have blown up the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, and we believed that there would be no expropriation of the bourgeoisie, no workers' state, if not by means of the overcoming of the crisis of leadership of the proletariat. In other words, the revolutionary upswing would destroy these apparatuses and bring into power revolutionary parties that would expropriate the bourgeoisie. But things happened differently. In the former after-war we had an advance of the counterrevolution against the workers' state. But that advance, despite everything, was not able to change the character of the worker's state. Now we have an advance of the revolution against the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, but that advance is not able to blow them up. The nature of these apparatuses is strange to the workers' base, and hence the upswing was not able to change them.
That combination has also given rise to an extremely unstable phenomenon, due to the combination of two poles clearly antagonistic but united by an exceptional, provisional circumstance, in a bureaucratised workers' state. Different combinations gave rise to identical phenomena: bureaucratised workers' states. The Stalinist SU is an ultimate product of the counterrevolution, the after-war workers' states, of the revolutionary upswing.
That's the genesis of all the new bureaucratised workers' states. Even when three different kinds of processes happened, as for conjuncture and leadership, they all are essentially the same. One process was that of the East European countries, except Yugoslavia. In it, the leadership was in the hands of the Kremlin, with military occupation of these countries. Another case is that of Yugoslavia, China, Korea and Vietnam. The leadership was Stalinist, tightly linked to the Kremlin, but without occupation by the Red Army and without direct Kremlin leadership. Finally, in Cuba we had a petty bourgeois opportunist leadership. All these leaderships have been petty bourgeois and the differences among them have only been specific, since all had the same policy of impeding an October revolution and of remaining in the framework of a national democratic revolution, even when they have been forced to expropriate the bourgeoisie.
From another point of view, historically the February revolution is the prologue, the antechamber of the October revolution. That's the way we always have seen it. That's why in Trotsky's analysis of the October Revolution, the revolutions of 1905 and of February 1917 are taken as the prologue to that of October. The February revolution is defined by that of October. Regarding the SU and the counterrevolution, the Bolsheviks stated: either the revolutionary workers' state develops, or the bourgeois counterrevolution is victorious. We have stated something similar, regarding the February revolution and the upswing that is at its origin: if the February revolution doesn't transform itself into an October revolution, the bourgeois counterrevolution is unavoidable. But the complexity of the transition from capitalism to socialism has produced hybrids that are neither one pole nor the other.
In the SU there was no bourgeois counterrevolution but, up to now, a bureaucratic counterrevolution.
The same happened concerning the February revolutions:
they didn't transform themselves into October revolutions in whatsoever country, but in a lot of them neither has the bourgeois counterrevolution been victorious. On the contrary, the bourgeoisie has been expropriated. The result was the same as in the SU, a bureaucratised workers' state, but from start. The processes are different, even when the result is the same. In the case of the SU, it's a revolutionary workers' state that is degenerated by the counterrevolution. In the case of the bureaucratised workers' states that came up in the actual after-war, the phenomenon is a February revolution, degenerated by the counterrevolutionary leaderships, or an October revolution aborted by them. As in any abortion, the foetus has some characteristic of the creature to be born, in this case, of the October revolution - for instance the expropriation of the bourgeoisie - without having its full features and without being born. Nothing shows better that our definition is correct as the fact that, while the national commemoration day of the SU goes on to be that of the October Revolution, all the new bureaucratic workers' states have as their commemoration day that of their birth, of their liberation, of their February revolution. For China it's the fall of Chiang Kai-shek, for Yugoslavia the victory over Nazism, for the East European countries the same, as well as for Vietnam, Korea and even Cuba. Nobody remembers in its commemoration day the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.
We shouldn't be surprised by these distinct processes that originate equal phenomena. The same happens in any organisation of the workers' movement, for instance, in setting up a mass workers' party or a trade union. These mass organisations always are the direct or indirect issue of a great mobilisation of the workers' movement, although all of them, by divergent processes, are bureaucratic now. They may have arrived at being so after having been revolutionary, as, for instance, the communist parties or the Third International. Or they may have been bureaucratic without ever having been revolutionary, as a product of the combination of a great upswing, of a great struggle of the workers' movement that obtained great conquests, but under a bureaucratic leadership. In that case the trade union never ceased to be bureaucratic, despite the great conquests, despite the great triumphs of the mass movement. That's so because the mass movement obtained these triumphs while it was inside the strait waistcoat of the bureaucratised apparatuses, without becoming independent from them.
The bureaucratised workers' states that emerged in countries, peripheral to the great imperialist centres, have been the result of an exceptional national combination of four world phenomena: the acute crisis of imperialism, a colossal revolutionary upswing, the tremendous power of the petty bourgeois bureaucratic apparatuses and the weakness of our International.
The guerrilla warfare, carried out by the opportunist petty bourgeois leaderships, originated first the triumph of the February revolution and then a workers' and peasants' government that managed to expropriate the bourgeoisie and to transform the country in a bureaucratised workers' state. In the opportunist guerrilla army, we have all the conditions of the coming bureaucratised workers' state. The mass movement is under the military discipline of the bureaucracy. The expropriation of the bourgeoisie will transform that bureaucratic movement in a workers' state, but without changing its character. On the contrary, it is the bureaucratic guerrilla movement that marks the new workers' state with its characteristics. Because of the petty bourgeois leaderships, the revolutions happened without the masses setting up their own democratic revolutionary organisations that would have allowed for the development of the mobilisation.
Cuba has been no exception. It has been the product of an army, bureaucratic to the marrow, the !“Movimiento 26 de Julio”, just like all the new workers' states. That Fidel Castro was not Stalinist, doesn't change its character of an army having the mass movement under military and political control, without leaving any margin for the independent democratic organisation of the mass movement or for any revolutionary initiative. That character of the army provoked that Cuba was a bureaucratic workers' state from start, just like the workers' states under control of the Stalinist parties.
That doesn't mean there were no provisional and specific differences among them. The differences are in the fact that the Castroist movement was petty bourgeois, nationalist, anti-imperialist and democratic from the beginnings. That's why it had a tendency of supporting the Latin American nationalist and democratic movement, though with petty bourgeois methods, with a focus guerrilla void of mass movement support. From the very beginnings, Cuba has been a workers' state conducted by a petty bourgeois current that ruled bureaucratically over the workers by means of its army.
The Guevaraist voluntarism concerning the Cuban economy may be compared with that of Mao and with the Stalinist of the Third Period: a typical petty bourgeois voluntarism. Its concept of “the new man” was a typical petty bourgeois humanist statement that didn't believe in the working class, in its struggle and initiatives.
The fact that it did conduct a victorious workers' revolution and that it was not Stalinist, doesn't change the petty bourgeois class character of the Castroist party. It's that character of the Cuban leadership that explains why it could transform itself later into a Stalinist party without any outburst or qualitative jump: it was already united to world Stalinism by its class character.
Those who sustain that the Cuban leadership is revolutionary, as well as those who say that it is a bureaucratic leadership today but that it has been once a revolutionary one and that we should find out when the transformation happened, both infringe our method and our analysis of reality. The Cuban leadership permanently has been a petty bourgeois leadership, that transformed itself from nationalist revolutionary into bureaucratic straight forward, always with the same petty bourgeois character and without great outbursts, as happens with all petty bourgeois currents that conduct the mass movement.
The economic development, oriented towards the national development by the bureaucracy and the workers' aristocracy, leads to a continuous crisis of the economy in the deformed workers' states and puts them at the mercy of the bourgeois counterrevolution. The national economic development doesn't mean independence. On the contrary, they are more and more linked to world imperialism. In other words, while at a planetary economic scale imperialism continues to be dominant, the workers' states will be subordinated to it and will be a part - a contradictory part but a part of that economy and that capitalist world.
Today it's very clear to us that the economic situation of the deformed or bureaucratised workers' states is tightly linked to the development of the world capitalist economy. If we look at the different stages of the workers' states, we see that the SU has an autarkic development exactly when the different imperialist countries enter into a stage of autarchy. Later, when the world capitalist and imperialist economy builds up again, we have a parallel reconstruction of the economy in the workers' states. With the advance of the process of an overwhelming capitalist development, of a fantastic capitalist accumulation in the advanced countries, tighter and tighter links develop between the economy of the workers' states and the world capitalist economy. And from 1974 on, when a growing crisis comes up in the most advanced capitalist countries, that phenomenon is reflected in the economy of the workers' states which also enter into an increasing economic crisis, leaving behind the stage of recovery of their economy and of their taking part in the overwhelming development of world capitalism.
As for the workers' states, we may point out that the bureaucratic policy as well as the revolutionary one have generated, and go on generating, two economic orientations that are diametrically opposed. The bureaucratic one is an economy that is day after day more subject to imperialism. Each stage of development provokes crises and contradictions in its economy that are increasingly acute, and it drives that economy into a situation of continuous crisis and of increasing misery for the toilers. So we come to a ferrous dilemma for that economy to go on working: it should incorporate itself into the world capitalist market and production, or the political revolution advances so that the workers' movement may adapt democratically its plans to the development of the world revolution.
Hence the policy of the bureaucracy, to build socialism in only one country, leads to a continuous crisis of the economy of the workers' states, to acute contradictions, and to the question of the possibility of the bourgeois counterrevolution. The opposite is the revolutionary policy of Lenin and Trotsky, to extend the world socialist revolution as the only warrant for having an expanding socialist economy. Only the policy of developing the revolution may resolve the problems of the economies of the workers' states, may obtain an equilibrium in its development, which should be subordinated to the triumphs of the world socialist revolution.