Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History
The subject matter of this edition is dominated by two issues, both of them of some immediacy and importance. The events of the last few months have shown that nationalism is far from on the wane among the republics that make up the Soviet Union, and particularly in the second largest of them, the Ukraine. The question of what attitude to take towards this phenomenon has been raised more than once in the past, and few informed revolutionaries will be ignorant of Trotsky’s articles on the subject written in 1939. Yet Trotsky’s writings have perforce tended to be studied in isolation, despite the recognition that they form part of a polemic, and additional meaning can only be derived from them from being placed within that setting. As few have ever read the contrary view, that of Hugo Oehler, we feel that the time is appropriate to reproduce it here.
Our second major theme, Vietnam, needs no justification. Those who lay claim to the heritage of Trotskyism cannot avoid a careful scrutiny of those organisations from this milieu that have been able to attain the status of mass movements among the working class, and we take up the case of Vietnam here, intending in the future to be able to deal with Sri Lanka and Bolivia as well. In this instance the theme flows on naturally from oulz previous number devoted to the Chinese revolution, where the Stalinists also based themselves upon the peasantry, and were also led to resort to the repression of authentic Marxists who linked their fate with that of the working class, as Trotsky himself foretold.
Indeed, this issue took on a new relevance as the Vietnam war brought a fresh generation into the revolutionary movement, and debates broke out about the character of, and the strategy for, the Vietnamese revolution.
As is our custom whenever it is necessary, we have tried to represent the views of those who believed that it was correct in principle to have given critical support to the Vietminh, as well as of those who opposed this policy, leaving the final verdict to the reader. To those who sneer that our magazine smacks of antiquarianism, we can only reply, along with Trotsky, that ignorance is not a revolutionary instrument, and the problem of how Marxists relate to peasant and nationalist movements in the underdeveloped world dominated by Stalinism may well be a life and death question to those concerned.
Updated by ETOL: 15.7.2003