Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page


Sixteen Years of the Russian Revolution!

The Creation of a Fourth International Is the Best Defense of the Soviet Union

The Rebirth of Revolutionary Internationalism Alone
Can Save the First Workers’ Fatherland

(4 November 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 50, 4 November 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Sixteen years after that glorious October which witnessed the rise of the Soviet Union, the workers’ republic stands in graver danger of attack and aggression than ever before.

Soviet Russia arose as the workers’ fatherland through a revolution which aroused the working class of the whole world, which rallied to its banner an international proletariat that knew how to aid in its defense by effective solidarity action throughout the years of the civil war and the innumerable foreign invasions.

International Defense of Soviet Russia

The revolt of the French fleet in the Black Sea, the fraternization at the front of German soldiers, the Shop Stewards’ defense movement of England, the strike of the Seattle transport workers against the shipment of munitions to Kolchak – the stirring first years of the Russian revolution are replete with flaming examples of international solidarity and heroism like these.

The international social democracy, the treacherous Second International, acting in the best interests of the bosses of all countries, showed itself worthy of the those years. Taking the helm of government for their national ruling classes, in Germany, in Finland and elsewhere, they succeeded at that time in preventing the glowing international solidarity which came to the fore in the defense of the first labor state from transforming itself into a further, sweeping extension of the Russian revolution, from achieving new victories on the road to the world Soviet.

The Russian Revolution and the Comintern

It was in the struggle for the extension of the Russian revolution, in the fire of struggle against capitalist intervention and social reformist treachery that the Communist International was founded in 1919. From the first, the great Marxists taught the Russian workers that their ultimate fate was bound up with that of the international proletariat, that the very existence of the government which they had established with their blood and their lives depended in the first place upon its active support by their fellow workers in Western Europe, in America, in Asia. Soviet diplomacy was used by the authentic Bolsheviks as a weapon of revolutionary internationalism.

The years following the death of Lenin and the temporary relapse of the Western European revolution brought forth a spirit of pessimism in regard to the international perspectives and a utopian optimism in regard to the possibility of building an isolated Socialist society in Russia. This national-socialist disease infiltrated even into the ranks of the world vanguard – the Communist International – alien to its principles and purpose. The carriers of this disease were the Stalinist bureaucracy which grew up and nurtured itself like a parasite on the body of the Russian revolution and the Soviet republic.

The Soviet bureaucracy, the parasites of the revolution interested in the maintenance of their own existence and position at all costs – with the least possible disturbances – was a bulwark of support for Stalin’s revisionist theory of “building up socialism in one country.”

The New Revisionism

It was with this revisionist idea, born out of the bureaucracy’s lack of faith in international solidarity that Stalinism replaced ithe fighting internationalism of Lenin in the vanguard of the world working class. Stalinism thus began a long process of undermining the Russian revolution and the Soviet state.

With the purpose in view of withdrawing into its own shell and of preventing all possible shocks from without, the Stalinized Communist International subordinated the vanguard of the Chinese working class, its Communist party to Chiang Kai-Shek’s bourgeois Kuo Min Tang. Lacking conviction in the power of the Chinese workers to lead and to enforce the struggle of the exploited colonial masses in the earth-shaking rebellion against imperialism, they placed their hopes in the Chinese bourgeoisie. The latter accepted this Stalinist gift and then proceeded promptly not only to wipe out the organizations of the Chinese proletarian, but to conspire with the imperialist states against the Soviet Union itself. The Sino-Russian crisis of August 1929 was Chiang Kai-Shek’s payment for Stalin’s policy.

Opportunism on the International Field

With the same national-socialist purpose in view, the Stalinist leadership united with the British trade union fakers – Purcell, Hicks and Co. – in the Anglo-Russian Committee. In return for a worthless promise to help forestall British military intervention against the Soviet Union, Stalinism subordinated to the English trade union bureaucracy a budding, militant Minority Movement led by the Communist party. Purcell, Hicks and Co. utilized the Comintern support and authority to sell out the General Strike of 1926 – the greatest revolutionary action in the history of the British working class. The labor lieutenants of English capitalism paid for this by absolute passivity at the time of Austin Chamberliu’s raid on ARCOS – the Soviet trade representation – which threatened to be a prelude to a war against the Soviet Union.

The Swing to Adventurism

The period of 1925 to 1929 was full of such policies and practices of the Stalinist bureaucracy. When in 1929, the course of opportunist agreements with colonial bourgeois politicians and metropolitan labor fakers had suffered shipwreck, Stalinism reversed its tactic, but not its aim. After the ultra-Left reaction of 1928–1928 [sic!], the Stalinist bureaucracy, having helped to wreck the international revolutionary movement, having helped to sell it out to the fakers and betrayers, lost all interest in it. They filled the leading posts of the Communist International with notorious incompetents who unleashed a reign of irresponsible adventurism in the ranks of the revolutionary vanguard. For the practical purposes of preserving their national-socialist utopia they began to set their hopes of Soviet defense directly on agreements with the diplomats of the foreign bourgeoisies.

On the other hand – the policy of the combination at the top with the social deformists was replaced by an ultra-Left refusal to get together with them on the most minimal questions of common action. The allies of yesterday had suddenly become “social Fascists”, social reformism the “twin” of Fascism. “United Front from below only”, ultimatist demands of “United Front only under the leadership of the Communist party” – these were the slogans put forward by irresponsible Stalinist adventurers to split the working class in times when unity was most urgent. This was the line of policy that was combined by a national-communism – “People’s revolution”, “national and social liberation” – which grew directly out of the Stalinism national-socialism in Soviet Russia and which was to serve the German Communist party as an item of competition with Hitler’s Fascists.

“Non-Aggression Pacts”

On the other hand, “non-aggression pacts” with various bourgeois powers, raising false hopes in the workers of peace by “scraps of paper” and supplemented by “anti-war congresses” – comedies with all kinds of individual stars: novelists, artists, free lancers who represented no one but themselves. That has been the course of Stalinism from 1929 up to the present.

The balance sheet of Comintern must be drawn today, Stalinist opportunism destroyed the great defense of the Soviet Union latent in the Chinese revolution and in Stalinist adventurism aided the German social democracy to maintain its positions of influence in the labor movement and split the working class hopelessly on the eve of Hitler’s coming into power. With the Fascist destruction of the German working class vanguard, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics loses its strongest pillar of defense in the capitalist world. The Fascist butchers now directly threaten Workers’ Russia!

The Downfall of the Comintern

The defense of the Soviet Union is the most urgent task of the moment for the revolutionary workers. The Communist International, created by Lenin and Trotsky for its defense by the one realistic policy of the extension of the October revolution, has been strangled by Stalinism. For over five years no congresses of the Communist International have been held. While the policies of the Soviet bureaucracy have helped to raise Hitler into power, to bring about the annihilation of the organized German working class and to isolate the Soviet Union, workers’ democracy within the Communist International has been completely stifled. The greatest of crimes are committed with impunity. The internationalist fighters – Trotsky, Rakovsky and their comrades – are expelled from the ranks of the parties. The bona fide leaders of the Russian revolution, the founders of, the Communist International fill the Stalinist deportation camps and the places of exile.

Who will prevent the oncoming attack of the world bourgeoisie, with German Fascism in the West and Japanese militarism in the East? Who will lead in the defense of the Soviet Union ever more isolated by a ring of [counter-]revolutionary governments?

The Communist International of Stalin cannot and will not do the job. National-Communism has reduced the Comintern to a hollow shell of its former self. An organization which has been poisoned by a discrediting bureaucracy, which has left a trail of frightful defeats in its wake – in China, in Germany, in Great Britain, in every country – an organization which even at this late date when danger threatens immediately, shows no signs of organizational life, whose representatives no longer gather in congresses to consider the serious questions – such an organization is hope[less]ly lost.

The Communist International was killed by the disease of Stalinist national socialism. The national-socialist bureaucracy of the Soviet Union is leading the Soviet Union to catastrophe. While it has replaced revolutionary internationalism with “non-aggression pacts”, the “non-aggressor” French bourgeoisie is making loans to Japanese militarism and selling arms to German Fascism. The Communist International is lost, the German Communist party is lost. But the Soviet Union must not be lost!

Reconstitute the International Vanguard!

There is only one power in the world that can save it. That is a reconstituted vanguard of Internationalist Communism. That is a new, a Fourth International, grouping around it all those revolutionary workers who have learned the lesson of the past ten years, who genuinely want to defend the Soviet Union and who know that the only way to do it is by the extension of the October revolution.

Those who were foremost in the battle lines of the Russian Revolution are today foremost in the struggle for its revolutionary defense against the impending attack. With a firm conviction, the Bolshevik-Leninists, on this day of the commemoration of the sixteenth anniversary of October revolution, proceed to the order of the day – the foundation of the new International and the new Communist parties.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 January 2016