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Fourth International, July-August 1950


Gerard Bloch

The Test of Yugoslavia


From Fourth International, Vol.11 No.4, July-August 1950, pp.116-121.
First published in Quatrième Internationale, March-April 1950.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The article which appears below has been translated from the March-April issue of Quatrième Internationale. Owing to pressure of space we had to omit a section dealing with the attitude of the POUM toward the Yugoslav evolution. – Ed.

* * *

For the future historian the greatest merit of the Fourth International may well be in this, that it was the only one among all the tendencies of world public opinion to understand the profound meaning – the class content – of the open break between Tito and the Cominform; and was more than a year in advance of any other tendency in the labor movement to firmly declare its unconditional support of the Federated People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and of the Yugoslav Communist Party against the Cominform.

The adoption of this position, whose correctness is being confirmed more and more by events, was not due to chance or to some particular political sixth sense of the Trotskyists. If we saw clearly it was because our powerful ideological armament enabled us to orient ourselves quickly and correctly in the face of this new situation. The evolution of Yugoslavia provides the most striking verification of the theory elaborated by Leon Trotsky concerning the nature of the USSR and of Stalinism and, at the same time, it signalizes the irretrievable bankruptcy of all the revisionist theories.

As opposed to the Trotskyist theory of the Soviet, Union as a degenerated workers’ state, all the revisionist theories have, as is well known, their common denominator in the definition of the Soviet regime – and by extension, in the buffer countries – as a new system of class society baptized differently by the various authors as bureaucratic collectivism, or state capitalism, or according to the latest gospel preached by Saint Chaulieu, bureaucratic capitalism. The Stalinist bureaucracy thus becomes a class, in the Marxist sense of the term, and is elevated in the USSR and in the buffer zone to the status of a ruling and exploiting class that bases itself upon stateized property.

Incidentally, in this latest version Chaulieu speaks of the bureaucracy as a “parasitic class, strictly speaking outside of production”(!) (Socialisme et Barbarie, No.4, p.61). He apparently is unaware that this amounts to a denial that the bureaucracy plays the role of a class in the Marxist sense, for Marxist theory defines classes by their role in the process of production, by the position they occupy in the mode of social division of labor.

Put for historical materialism, the “guiding thread, which permits the discovery of existing laws ... in the apparent mage and chaos (of history) ... is the theory of the class struggle.” (Lenin, Karl Marx and His Doctrine. In other words, Marxism views the contradictions between classes and their conflicting class interests as the mainspring of history. The contradictions between the various sections of any one class, notably between sections belonging to different countries, no matter how important they may be, always remain subordinated to the main class conflicts. That is why all of feudal Europe made a bloc against the French Revolution; that is why Bismarck supported Thiers against the Paris Commune; that is why the victorious Allies in World War I supplied the Weimar Republic with the necessary means to combat the German proletariat; that is why the world bourgeoisie threw a a “cordon sanitaire” around the October Revolution, and so on.

What then are the problems which are posed for the revisionists by the Stalin-Tito conflict which, according to them, is a conflict between one bureaucracy which is the ruling class of the USSR and another bureaucracy which is the ruling class of Yugoslavia, on the basis of the selfsame social relations? Stalin at first tried to force Yugoslavia, by mtans of an economic blockade, to grand such consessions to Wall Street as would make inevitable the reestablish-ment of “free enterprise” in Yugoslavia. These plans failed and the Yugoslavs, in the face of mounting US pressure, have categorically affirmed their intention to make no concessions whatever affecting the structure of their regime. Now Stalin is trying, as he has before, to strike a bargain with Truman against Yugoslavia, even at the cost of important concessions. In a word, Stalin is behaving as though he considers. Tito as the main enemy. Is the bureaucracy which is the ruling class in the USSR thus prepared to make a deal with the American bourgeoisie against the bureaucracy which is the ruling class of Yugoslavia, even at the cost of destroying the existing property relations in Yugoslavia which are identical to those upon which the Russian bureaucracy bases its exploitation of the proletariat?

Herein lies a contradiction which is fatal for those theories which convert the bureaucracy into a class. And most curious of all is the fact that the holders of these theories do not seem to be aware af it. The evolution of Yugoslavia, and more generally of the crisis of Stalinism, will oblige them to abandon their theories or to give up the fundamental concepts of Marxist sociology.

We propose to devote this article by and large to a study of the positions taken on the Tito-Stalin conflict by the Shachtman group in the US. The growing estrangement of these comrades not only from Marxist methodology but also from reality itself is manifested here in a most glaring manner.

The First Shachtmanite Position

On July 9, 1948, ten days after the Cominform issued its blast against Yugoslavia, Shachtman, while noting that the “Yugoslav bureaucracy” was resisting Stalin “fundamentally the same way that the rising bourgeoisie of the colonial countries seek to increase their independence from the big capitalist nations that rule them,” nevertheless lumps Stalin and Tito together in the following terms:

To both sides of rival tyrants we say: Go to it, bandits! Deepen the rift between you! The people will surge through the opening which you create because you have to create it. And when they do, your knell will have sounded – the knell of all of you – and the hour of the people will begin to strike its challenging, liberating note!” (New International, Aug. 1948.)

And in the September issue of the same magazine, Hal Draper launches an attack – against the Fourth International. Under the alluring title Comrade Tito and the Fourth International, we are treated to a veritable Indian war dance around the topic of “the galloping political degeneration of the leadership of the Fourth International.” Aside from displaying the breadth of his literary culture – like the chapters in Sir Walter Scott’s novels, every subdivision of Draper’s article bears an appropriate poetic epigraph – the author offers us a demonstration of the superiority of his method of logic over “the simplistic dialectic of Engels” to which these “left Stalinists hit by senility” are attached. “I have trapped you!” Draper cries out triumphantly. Didn’t you characterize Yugoslavia as a capitalist state and the USSR as a workers’ state? And here, you wretches, you are lining up with a capitalist state against a workers’ state! Isn’t the “strictest” revolutionary defeatism and even “military defeatism” required in such a case?

Leaving aside for the moment the question of the class character of Yugoslavia, which is at present under discussion in the International, let us remind Draper that at least for “simplistic dialecticians” there is no criterion, established once and for all, not even the criterion of the class nature of the states involved, that can provide automatically a position in any given conflict, without an examination of the concrete situation created by such a conflict. Thus in the case of Ethiopia, a feudal state largely based on slavery, we defended it against an advanced capitalist state; in the Spanish civil war, we defended one bourgeois state against another bourgeois state; and the Shachtmanites themselves, after their last turn, are defending a “bureaucratic collectivist” state.

Our epoch, which is that of transition between capitalism and socialism, is rich and will doubtless prove even richer in the future in complex phenomena in which the most contradictory aspects will be inextricably combined rnd which can never be elucidated by criteria forged once and for all time. It is precisely for the study of such problems that the poor old dialectic has been invented

The remainder of Draper’s article is full of heavy irony over the grotesque idea that there is the slightest chance of seeing the Yugoslav Communist Party as a whole return to the path of Leninism. In the policy of the International Secretariat which addresses itself to the “Congress, the Central Committee and the members of the CPY” he sees nothing but a crude maneuver of people who consider themselves very cunning, but who are bound to get entangled in their own snares.

In the October 1948 New International Shachtman amiably advises the International Secretariat to assume forthwith the title of Comradely Advisers to Stalinist Police Dictators on How to Transform Totalitarianism Into Democracy, Capitalism Into Socialism, Counter-revolutionary Parties Into Revolutionary Parties, Oppressors of the People Into Progressive Leaders of the People, Rulers Into Ruled and Ruled Into Rulers, in the Best Interests of the Dictators, Oppressors and Counter-revolutionists Themselves (what an amazingly loquacious individual!); and Draper, for his part, affirms that “the conflict between the Yugo and the Commissar is over who is to benefit from the exploitation of the masses.”

Then in the November 1948 issue of this same periodical, expanding on his theme, Draper assures that the “Cominform accusations of ‘adventurism’ directed against Tito have more than a kernel of truth” so far as the objectives of the Yugoslav Five-Year Plan are concerned, which Draper considers as over-ambitious. As for Albania and the Yugoslav efforts to establish a Balkan Federation, here Draper denounces “Yugoslav sub-imperialism.” (As early as July 12, 1948, the Shachtmanite weekly Labor Action was referring to Stalin’s uneasiness over “Tito’s imperialist ambitions.”)

As everybody knows, the term imperialism has been employed by Marxists ever since Lenin in a very precise sense. It does not characterize the policy of the leaders of any given country nor their “desire for power” but rather a modification of the capitalist economic structure in these countries. To be able to talk at ease of “Russian imperialism” the Shachtmanites are obliged to employ this term in the popular – and vague – sense of domination, which empties it of any precise historical content and renders it devoid of any political implications. Why not then follow the bourgeoisie and talk of “Ho Chi Minh’s imperialism,” for example? And if Mao Tse-tung’s troops should cross the Viet Nam border, shall we hear Shachtman denounce “Chinese imperialism”?

The Second Shachtmanite Position

Nevertheless, at their convention in April 1949 – after the Yugoslavs had shown their capacity of resistance and a Russian attack appeared likely – the Shachtmanites sensed for the first time the need to change their position. In the event of armed attack by Russia against Yugoslavia, declares their international resolution,

“the position of the anti-Stalinist workers should be to wish for the victory of Yugoslavia in its war against the invader ... While, however, the conflict between the two totalitarian regimes remains propagandistic and diplomatic and on the bureaucratic level, the Marxists give no support whatsoever to the Tito-Stalinist (sic) regime in Yugoslavia but expose its reactionary character and identity with the Moscow regime and seek to mobilize all popular support against it.” (New International, April 1949.)

In other words, let us do everything we can to hamper Tito’s economic, political and military preparations for resistance to Stalinist aggression, as well as to Tito’s efforts to find support among the world labor movement – but if this aggression actually takes place, then we shall support him.

There you have the politics of people who, as everybody knows, are fortunate enough not to be entangled like the Fourth International in any prefabricated schemas, and thereby enabled to adapt their policies to dynamic reality! To complete the picture, the same resolution approves the support given by the Workers Party to Mikolajchik, the reactionary leader tied up with British imperialism, against the Stalinist government of Poland ...

And a New Turn

But in the latter part of 1949, the international crisis of Stalinism deepened and various fellow-travelers of the Communist parties along with some political organizations and tendencies came out in favor of Yugoslavia. (For example, in La Révolution Proletarienne, October 1949, R. Hagnauer, who can hardly be suspected of being a Stalinophile, wrote: “We shall lose the right to oppose the vile war against Indo-China if ... we do not tell Stalin – Hands Off Yugoslavia!”) The position adopted by the Shachtmanite “Independent Socialist League” became untenable and a turn became necessary.

On Nov. 21, 1949 Labor Action carried a “discussion article” signed by Rudzienski who declared:

Without identifying ourselves with Tito as the Fourth International has done, we must defend the Yugoslavian people, and all the other peoples, subjugated by the Kremlin, against Russian aggression as well as against capitalist intervention.

(Let me take this occasion to point out to Comrade Rudzienski that we do not “identify” ourselves with Tito and the CPY any more than we identify ourselves with the Bolivian miners and their unions, but we are unconditionally on their side in their respective struggles.)

Thereupon, Labor Action began on Dec. 5, 1949 a series of articles entitled Titoism and Independent Socialism, in which Hal Draper deemed it necessary to review the entire question.

The method which Draper employs in these articles cannot fail to make the reader ponder over the irony history displays in little things as well as the big ones. This method actually is the dogmatic, metaphysical method which Daper and his friends ascribe to the Fourth International!

Draper begins by shedding a tear over the poor unfortunates (everybody outside the ISL) who obviously understand nothing at all about Titoism because they are unblessed by the Shachtmanite revelation on the nature of Stalinism. Stalinism, he reminds, is an “exploitive social system ... in which the state bureaucracy rules over an economy which is the property of the state, which is in turn the collective property of the bureaucracy.” Having thus lit up his lantern, Draper goes on, with a magnificent ignorance of the facts, to delineate the international crisis of Stalinism as well as the situation in Yugoslavia.

Titoism, he explains, is national Stalinism. It can be defined “in six words, which also constitute the title of a book recently published by Professor George S. Counts. It is a translation of a Russian textbook for the education of children ... and its title is I Want to Be Like Stalin. That is all that Tito wants in the last analysis: ‘I Want to Be Like Stalin.’” (Labor Action, Dec. 19, 1949.)

The very same explanation of the crisis of Stalinism is valid outside of the “Russian empire,” Draper announces the following week: “... the end goal (of the Stalinists) is ... the achievement of Stalinist power in their own country. They too Want to Be Like Stalin.” This so-called “theory” permits Draper to characterize the “neo-Stalinist tendency” as follows:

In France, such well-known fellow-travelling intellectuals as Jean Cassou, Claude Aveline, and Martin-Chauffier have declared for Belgrade as against Moscow. None of these people have changed their views one whit by so doing. What is characteristic of the neo-Stalinist type is that he has been drawn into the Stalinist orbit ... not by socialist ideals, even mistaken ones ... but (because) he looks toward planning as the key to the difficulties of the social system, and Russia appears to him as the archetype of a planned society ... For them, Titoism ... is Stalinism, their Stalinism ...” (Our emphasis.)

Apparently content with the profundity of his own theoretical views, Hal Draper did not deem it necessary to check them against, say, writings like Forty Eight by Jean Cassou or the article, Revolution and Truth in which Cassou breaks with Stalinism. (Esprit, Dec. 1949; see also Quatrième Internationale, vol.8, no.1, pp.53-55.) Had Draper done so he might have found it rather difficult to deny this writer the slightest shred of “socialist ideals.” (For our part, we are more inclined to reproach Cassou for his opinion that it is necessary to “round-out” Marxism with a few grains of the “spirit of 1848.”) Suffice it to quote here only from the most recent of these “neo-Stalinists” Agnes Humbert, ex-President of the “Partisans of Peace” in the 13th arrondissement in Paris:

Let us recall Lenin’s slogan: Don’t lie to the people! Nowadays, they do nothing except lie. Our revolution of ‘89 took place under the banner of truth, so did the October revolution. (Combat, Feb. 21, 1950.)

As can be seen, the desire “to be like Stalin” assumes rather unexpected forms.

But in his fifth article Draper seems to take up what has been happening in Yugoslavia since the break with the Cominform. This is done, naturally, in order to assure us that there is not the slighest sign, not “even one visible under a microscope “ of any democratization of the regime. Why? Because this is demanded by the theory of bureaucratic collectivism.

This bureaucratic ruling class bases itself on the possession of the state power, and through the state power, on its exploitation of a completely statified economy ... democratization means its abdication as a ruling class ... this abdication will not be seen. Yugoslavia will be democratized through the overthrow of the dictatorship, not by its softening. (Labor Action, Jan. 2, 1950. Emphasis in original.)

While citing the declarations of Djilas against the creation of a new International, Draper naturally passes by in silence such documents as Kardelj’s pamphlet, People’s Democracy, or M. Popovich’s Economic Relations Between Socialist States, or Kardelj’s speech on the freedom of scientific research. All this does not interest him, because his mind is already made up. Presently he will describe as “purely technical” the decentralization measures of Yugoslav economy (Labor Action, Feb. 20, 1950). He will even foresee the possibility that Tito may allow an “opposition” in the Yugoslav March 25 elections and warns his readers against such a maneuver. Unfortunately, Tito has since flatly rejected such a project and this will doubtless provide Draper with another opportunity to denounce totalitarianism at work.

In passing, Draper naturally accuses the Yugoslavs of “not differing by an iota” in their judicial procedure from the Stalinists. We lack space here to refute this contention in connection with the Sarajevo trial of the White Russians. But the trial of four monarchist students was recently held at Belgrade. The Paris daily, Le Monde, which vigorously takes the side of the accused, is nevertheless obliged to recognize, Feb. 11, that this trial “in no way resembles the usual trials behind the Iron Country. The defendants pleaded not guilty and defended themselves stubbornly.”

As for the “Yugoslav bureaucracy,” Draper appears content to rest on his theoretical description. An examination of how the existence of this bureaucracy manifests itself objectively, for example, in the distribution of the national income, doesn’t seem to interest him at all. Whether the wage differential is 1 to 4, or 1 to 5; whether miners and skilled workers, as Adamic reports in Trends and Tides (vol.6, no.1), make more than ministers – all this doesn’t concern Draper at all. After all, aren’t bureaucrats people who “want to be like Stalin”? What difference does it make what their actual social position is?

(All the revisionists, by the way, are obliged in one way or another to substitute a voluntarist conception for the materialist conception of history. Thus, Comrade Galienne, a partisan of the theory of state capitalism, writes in Ecole Emancipée, Feb. 9, “And when Tito’s victory was assured, he slowly but surely built up a state where the bureaucracy has replaced the national bourgeoisie as the ruling class but where the exploitation of the masses has not ceased to be the rule.”)

Is a very important part of the capital investments under the Five-Year Plan earmarked for production of consumer goods? That does not matter, either! Yugoslavia’s recent evolution, as we have said, is of no concern to Draper. All this is only so much sand in the eyes or “technical measures.” Elsewhere in the March-April issue of Quatrième Internationale we carry a summary of the main facts – declarations of leaders, political and administrative measures – that have taken place in Yugoslavia in the last three months. This summary incontestably shows that the Yugoslav leaders give themselves a much clearer accounting of the social causes of the Cominform policy as an expression of the “bureaucratic degeneration of socialist construction” (Kardelj) and that the struggle against bureaucratism in Yugoslavia itself is one of their main preoccupations. It is impossible to confuse their declarations with the prevalent Stalinist practice of denouncing the “bureaucratic methods” of some second-rate functionary who serves as a scapegoat. Kidrich, for example, is careful to state precisely that “it is a question of bureaucratism as a social phenomenon.”

It would take us too far afield to demonstrate here that the Yugoslav leaders still have a long way to go on this road; that they still have to understand that the struggle against bureaucracy cannot definitively be won without the support of the international proletariat and it cannot be won finally without an extension of the revolution on a world scale. Nor is this the place to undertake a detailed criticism of the measures they have taken, a criticism which would show that after taking two steps forward they often take a step or half a step backward. But the important fact is that there can be no doubt about the general direction of this whole evolution.

Draper’s readers are naturally left in ignorance about the recent declarations of Djilas, Kidrich, Kardelj. How could he explain them? As mere sand in the eyes? But whom do they intend to deceive? The Yugoslav workers to whom they address themselves? But how can they deceive them for any length of time about conditions under their own eyes, their very own living conditions? And what a strange ruling class it is, indeed, that furnishes such excellent ideological weapons to the masses it exploits for them to combat it! On the contrary, it would be so easy to insist on the need of strengthening the state power, and so en, by arguing how difficult Yugoslavia’s situation is, and how encircled it is by hostile forces!

Are these declarations then meant to deceive the bourgeoisie? But why should the bourgeoisie be interested in “deepening socialist democracy”?

Or is it to deceive Comrade Draper? He is much too clever for that, such an attempt would be doomed to failure in advance. Then, what is it for? Why, of course, it is to deceive the Fourth International and some of the other “neo-Stalinists” of the same stripe!

Let us quote from still another “neo-Stalinist,” the Belgrade correspondent of the conservative London financial periodical, the Economist:

The greatest transformation of the past year, particularly in recent months, has been in the Communists themselves. In turning- their backs on the rigid orthodoxy of the Kremlin, the Yugoslav Communists have found intellectual release. At the year’s end the Yugoslav CP began what its leading- theoretician, Moshe Pyade, described privately as “the most important ideological development in Yugoslavia” since the Cominform resolution – the reorganization of the educational system. The party’s Central Committee declared that, in the social sciences, textbooks prepared by Yugoslav professors will supplant Soviet ones and that in the physical sciences the accomplishments of all scientists will be treated on their merits, without regard to their nationality. In liberalizing educational methods the Yugoslav concept of Marxism as opposed to the dogmatic Soviet approach will be emphasized in an effort to give greater intellectual freedom to the young.

Equally important is the decision to decentralize industry ... In the Soviet Union the accent has been on greater and greater central or federal control. In Yugoslavia today the government has boldly reversed the direction. More and more factories are being turned over by Belgrade to the six Republics, and the Republics in turn are handing over greater responsibility to the oblasti (counties) into which the nation was divided last summer. This program of distributing responsibility and stimulating initiative is designed to prevent the appearance of a massive top-heavy pyramid of Soviet bureaucracy ...

There have been other tendencies in the same direction, as the party throws aside what some members call its “Stalinist mantle.” In contrasting the direction now being taken by Yugoslavia to that of the Soviet Union, they list a flock of changes: production of consumer goods and housing are being emphasized as a result of the political situation; the inclination to create a Soviet-like gap between the top of the pyramid and the bottom has been reversed, and the party leadership is striving to follow Tito’s instructions “to get closer to the masses”, nepotism and favoritism, are being curbed; the role of the mass political organizations – and not merely the Communists – is being increased ... (Economist, Feb. 4, pp.271-2. Our emphasis.)

Frankenstein, Tito, Gapon, Chiang Kai-shek and Hal Draper

At the end of the sixth day, Jehovah saw everything he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And on the seventh day he rested. Less fortunate is Comrade Draper. After developing in his sixth article the brilliant idea that the only interesting thing about Titoism is that, despite the absolutely Stalinist character of its ideology, it forces the masses to do some thinking about Stalinism, and like Frankenstein, Father Gapon and other similar characters, Titoism unchains forces it cannot control – after all this, Draper still has left the difficult task of undertaking to propose in his seventh article “the defense of Yugoslavia” to the reader who has followed him thus far.

”What is there to defend in such a country?” the unfortunate reader must ask himself. “The poor people of Yugoslavia ought, above all, to be defended against Tito.”

But, lectures the “Marxist” Draper, “... the elementary Marxist idea has to kept clear that our (political) attitude toward a given government or regime does not automatically determine our attitude toward a given war in which this regime is involved” (Labor Action, Jan. 23, 1950).

”Marxists,” continues Draper, “support all legitimate struggles of peoples for national independence ... including those ... ruled by native tyrants and dictators.” And he compares this policy with the support of Chiang Kai-shek against Japan when, he affirms “there was no social difference” (between the regimes of China and Japan).

But is is precisely the social difference, the difference in structure between non-imperialist capitalist China and imperialist Japanese capitalism which constituted the basic reason why Marxists supported China against Japan. And undoubtedly it was disregard for this fact, among other reasons, that led the Shachtmanites to abandon the defense of China in World War II. (”To combat your classic enemy, imperialism, it is necessary to remove the principal obstacle on that road, Chiang Kai-shek.” Shachtman to the Chinese workers, New International, June 1942.)

Draper completely neglects to offer any explanation why his organization took 18 months, and changed positions twice, before remembering that “Marxists support all legitimate struggles of peoples for national independence.” But, of course, he reaffirms his determination to carry on in any case a struggle on two fronts for the “democratic socialist revolution which will mean the end of both Tito and Stalin.”

The extremes to which Stalinophobia may lead can be illustrated by recalling that not so long ago a certain Jack Brad called for the support “with complete loyalty” of the reactionary government of the Indonesian republic. This was said in Labor Action at the very time when this government was preparing the assassination of Tan Malakka.

For Marxists, national independence in our epoch is not a progressive end in itself, independent of all historical conditions under which it is defended. And it is even more absurd to base a policy of defense of Yugoslavia (of Yugoslav “sub-imperialism” as Draper called it) exclusively on the slogan of national independence. For the Yugoslav Federated Peoples’ Republic is a multinational state federating six major nationalities arid several minorities. And to mention only the most important features, prior to the present regime, Serbs, Croats and Slovenes used to be “hereditary enemies” pretty much like the Germans and the French.

It is well known that the degeneration of the USSR has brought about the oppression of the non-Russian Soviet peoples by Stalin’s Great-Russian bureaucracy. Draper keeps silent about the multinational character of the Yugoslav state. Because otherwise he would have to support the curious theory, today abandoned even by the Stalinists, to the effect that the Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Macedonians and others who live within the frontiers of the YFPR are being oppressed by a “Pan-Serb bureaucracy” (or – and why not? – by “Serbian sub-imperialism”). Or else, because Draper would have to recognize along with observers of all shades of opinion that the Tito regime has achieved a harmonious solution of the national question within the YFPR and then he would have to explain just how reactionary “bureaucratic collectivism” could possibly resolve the national question in a progressive manner.

The Touchstone of Yugoslavia

In the August 1949 issue one could read under the signature of Henry Judd the following lines:

We must say, in retrospect, that the period of the Second World War marks a definite transition between two epochs – the Trotsky epoch, as analyzed by the last of the classic Marxist theoreticians and revolutionists, and the new retrogressive-collectivist epoch whose nature we attempt to understand ... and which presents socialist revolutionists with a new set of problems to be mastered. It is doubtful, at least to this writer, that the concepts of classic Trotskyism can be of much assistance ... [1]

Less convinced than Judd that Trotsky’s ideas are obsolete, Joseph Stalin tried to wipe them out ten years ago by assassinating their principal protagonist.

Nonetheless it appears that the Trotskyist doctrine – the living doctrine of Marxism – has sunk far deeper roots in our epoch than either Stalin or Judd thought possible.

“Stalin,” said Le Monde editorially on Dec. 20, 1949, “upon reaching old age, sees anti-Stalinist Communist factions arising all over the lot. The hydra of deviation which he thought he had slain before the war is again raising its head. Thus Stalin’s glorious birthday jubilee is not without its darker side. It is a sort of posthumous revenge for Trotsky.”

It is indeed the theory elaborated by Trotsky – and buried by Judd on the heels of a thousand other such undertakers – which enables us to recognize the existence in the very heart of the Stalinist universe, beneath the heavy layers of bureaucratic crust, the boiling lava of the October Revolution which has not yet grown cold.

We can rightfully discern in the Yugoslav revolution the distant echo, muffled and deformed by the decades of the Stalinist counter-revolution, of the Bolshevik October of Lenin and Trotsky. The attitude toward Yugoslavia can become just as decisive a touchstone for judging revolutionary organizations as was the attitude toward the October Revolution thirty years ago, The Yugoslav events are bringing about a profound refreshment of the atmosphere around the proletarian vanguard. They are bound to make certain splits irreparable, but they can also serve as the starting point for fruitful regroupments.

The Russian Revolution was the springboard from which the Third International received its historic impulse. The Yugoslav revolution can very well become the springboard from which the Fourth International will launch out to win over the masses.


1. Judd’s article, to be sure, appeared as a “discussion article”; but apparently the ideas expressed in it are quite widespread among the members of the ISL. No other contribution to this “discussion” appeared in the NI up to the Jan.-Feb. 1950 issue, which we received after this article was written. In that issue, Gates, another ISL leader, disputes Judd’s ideas. In the “Independent Socialist League” the leaders, at least, are very independent of one another.

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