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Proletarian Revolution

Hugo Oehler

On the Proletarian Revolution in the United States

(September 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 38 (Whole No. 134), 17 September 1932, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(Continued from last issue)

The needs of the Negro, Mulatto, Asiatic, Mexican and foreign born workers cannot be solved by first taking steps toward democratic demands, as in Russia, and then proceeding to the socialist demands. Only by direct steps to socialist demands, to socialist reorganization can we solve the problems of the American workers. If the proletarian revolution does not move with speed towards socialist demands we will be lost.

The exclusion of a bourgeois stage, no mutter how short, as the first stage of the Proletarian Revolution is made necessary by the dialectics of history. This excludes and condemns the road Stalinism is following in the United States. The party under Centrist leadership advances the following slogans for the United States: “Workers and Farmers Government.”, “Agrarian revolution in the South”, “National liberation of the Negroes in the South,” “Self-determination for the Negroes in the South”, etc. These Stalinist slogans are driving in the direction, not of a proletarian revolution, they are driving in the direction of a bourgeois first stage of the proletarian revolution. National liberation and self-determination for the colonies, etc., is another question entirely.

In backward countries. Stalinism skips over democratic demands and economic needs and sees no need for such preparation in the class struggle toward revolution. But when Stalinism arrives face to face with the revolution in backward countries it does not intend to establish a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, but instead intends to establish a “Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry.’’

In advanced capitalist countries Stalinism swings to the other wrong extreme. It skips back to what economic conditions have already surpassed and presents slogans that can only be classed under bourgeois democratic demands and not socialist demands.

We are discussing programmatic slogans, not tactical slogans. In this case, what must, our slogans drive at? Our tactical slogans must coordinate the special grievances of the class and of sections of the class with our programmatic slogans, our goal. The special forms of exploitation and suppression of the Negro, Asiatic, Mexican and foreign-born workers can only be solved by socialist measures in the first stage of the coming revolution – the Proletarian Revolution. The slogans Stalinism presents are not special tactical slogans but programmatic slogans. They lead in the wrong direction.

Once we brush aside the wrong programmatic slogans of Stalinism for the coming American revolution we will be able to proceed to the pressing tactical slogans to coordinate the problems of the Negro race, the other subjected races, as well as other classes who will be our allies.

The Left Opposition must lead the way in formulating the correct tactical and strategical problems for the coming revolution. The first in order is: to correct the wrong programmatic slogans and then follow up with proper tactical slogans leading up to the revolution.

The proletarian revolution in America will establish a dictatorship. What will be the form of the Soviets? It will not be a “Workers and Farmers Government.” It will not be the result of a “People’s Revolution.” In America, the form of the Soviets will right at the beginning be at a higher level than the form of the Soviets established in Russia in 1917. In Russia the overwhelming majority of the people are peasants and in America the overwhelming majority are workers. This reflects the different stages of the two countries in economic development. This lays the basis for different forms of Soviets. The existence of the Soviet Union is another powerful factor favoring the coming revolution in America. Workers’ Councils will be established on a higher plane in America and will usher in a higher type of proletarian democracy at the start. Our Soviets will lay a much stronger foundation for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in America, much stronger than we had in the first stage of the Soviets in Russia after October. The strength of the class dictatorship lays the basis for the higher class democracy. Class democracy and “democracy” under a classless society are two different things, just as capitalist “democracy” and workers’ democracy are the different expressions of different systems. In order to win the American workers to Communism it is necessary to explain the differences in the two forms of Soviets. Only in this manner can we really clear up the question of content and give a proper answer to the question of our Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

On the continent it may be possible for one of the lesser countries to overthrow its exploiters before we do. Unless we give them support unequalled in the past the new Soviets will not be able to hold out against the American imperialists. This does not mean that the reactionary, non-revolutionary theory must be advanced – that we must not strike for power in these countries – because we cannot hold out. With proper support from the world proletariat and the Soviet Union they can hold out and extend the revolution. The struggle for power always means the struggle against world capitalism at this stage of the class war.

On the other hand, a successful revolution in the United States will carry with it. the continent, extending far down into Latin America. This opens a broad perspective and confirms the theory of the permanent revolution. The revolution in the United States will flow over the continent in revolutionary storms which will wipe out the capitalists and their flunkies. The slogan for the United States – For a “Proletarian Revolution” – leads directly to extension of civil war on the continent and to the slogan of the “All-American Soviet Republic.”

If the Soviet Union can withstand the coming storms, and the Left Opposition must see to it that our fatherland does in spite of the stranglehold Stalinism has on the world revolutionary movement, we can say the world proletariat has before it not only the realization of the Soviet United States of Europe, not only of the All-American Soviet Republic, but also of the World Soviet.

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