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Fourth International, July-August 1952


Leon Trotsky – His Ideas Live On


From Fourth International, Vol.13 No.4, July-August 1952, p.98.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Twelve years have passed since the fatal day of August 20, 1940, when the assassin’s ax struck down one of the truly great thinkers and doers of our time. They have been stirring, eventful years, terrible in their devastating wars but yielding the most sweeping social changes since the French Revolution. Trotsky’s ideas were put to the test in this vast human laboratory – and have been brilliantly, incontrovertibly confirmed. Trotsky was first of all an incurable revolutionary optimist. In the blackest days, he insisted that the forces of socialist emancipation were more powerful than those of imperialism and fascism, and in the would triumph over them. Who can challenge this faith today when capitalism has been uprooted in one-third of the world in an unceasing revolutionary momentum?

Trotsky was pitiless in his criticism of the reactionary and utopian Stalinist theory of “socialism in one country.” The presence of representatives of the Chinese Revolution in Moscow speaking to the Kremlin on equal terms, the need to integrate Eastern Europe in a common economic plan settles forever this historic controversy. By the same token, it removes the rationalization of the Soviet bureaucracy’s reason for existence.

Trotsky outlined the road to liberation for the backward and colonial countries in his famous theory of the “Permanent Revolution.” He conceived their victory as possible only by the overthrow of the native ruling classes, treacherously allied to imperialism. He excluded a long capitalist development for the backward nations and said they would have to proceed directly to the construction of a socialist society. In essence, this is precisely what has happened in China, and to a lesser extent in Yugoslavia and some of the countries of Eastern Europe. And in Egypt and Iran the process of the “permanent revolution” is already in its first stages.

Trotsky characterized the Soviet bureaucracy as a parasitic caste, antipathetic to the nationalized and planned economy. He proved it beyond challenge in his economic studies of the USSR. Now we see his analysis reaffirmed in the irrepressible opposition of the Eastern European countries – and sometimes even encompassing their native bureaucratic rulers – to the plunder, the incompetence, the wastefulness of the arrogant Kremlin overlords. The recent concessions made by the Kremlin in Czechoslovakia and to a lesser extent in Rumania show how strong is this tendency of opposition.

Trotsky saw the downfall of the Kremlin gang when the revolution spread beyond Russia’s borders ringing them with red instead of black. A by-product of world reaction, the Soviet bureaucracy would be fatally undermined by a great new resurgence of the masses. The addition of the word “Titoism” to the world’s languages – regardless of the Marshal’s recent evolution – shows how unerringly right was Trotsky’s prognosis. The rise of Revolutionary China, a power in its own right, is the most dramatic vindication of the great Marxist’s forecast – and no one knows this better than the men in the Kremlin. The bureaucracy is supremely conscious that the movements of the masses – and that is what they call “Trotskyism” – are ever more uncontrollable and ever more dangerous to its own existence.

Trotsky was as keen in his insight and analysis of the United States as he was of Europe and Asia. He envisioned what he called “the eruption of America’s productive forces on the world market.” He foresaw what he called the doling out of ‘rations’ to once powerful European capitalism, and which we can now see before our eyes in. the shape of the Marshall Plan, etc. He predicted that insular US imperialism could survive only by an attempt to “organize the world.” But that attempt would mine the power of American capitalism with powder kegs throughout the world. Their detonation in revolutionary struggles would bring on the social crisis at home and finally spell the doom of the financial oligarchy.

Are we not living in the midst of that epoch now?

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Last updated on: 26 March 2009