Orignal Publication: First printed in the Socialist Workers Party Internal Bulletin, August 1953.
Source: ETOL version from the Revolutonary Regroupment web site. Used here with their permission.
Transcription: Republished in and scanned from the LRP publication “Bolivia: The Revolution the Fourth International Betrayed.” Reformatted for the ETOL in 2009 by D. Walters.
“Without revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary practice.”
1. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT BOLIVIA?
It is now sixteen months since the Bolivian revolution began. It is sixteen months since this little nation, of three and one-half million people, presented the Fourth International the opportunity of proving that Marxism—Trotskyism—can conquer the masses and thereby lead them to victory.
Considering the fact that a Trotskyist mass party, the POR, is involved in a revolutionary situation, we should expect by this time to have a mass of information from Bolivia, such information as would immeasurably enrich, deepen and concretize our Marxist theory.
How has the POR gone about the task of winning the massesfrom the NNW from the labor-fakers of the Lechin stripe?
How has the POR dealt with the various concrete questions which arise with the various stages of the struggle?
Who controls the COB? What is the strength of Lechin? of the POR? of the Stalinists? How has their strength varied in the course of the past sixteen months?
What about the curve of strike struggles? How has the strength of the POR varied with it? Have political strikes been increasing in intensity? If not, why? What has been the role of the POR? of Lechin?
Have any disputes arisen within the POR? Or has the POR, in a revolutionary situation, been completely monolithic?
These are just a few of the many questions on which we should by this time have a rich treasury of information.
Actually we have been given practically no information on the situation in Bolivia—the one revolution in which the Trotskyists play an important role.
It is not true, however, that we know nothing at all about what is going on in Bolivia. For the past month detailed reports have been circulating about the activities of the POR. According to these reports received from non-Trotskyist sources, the POR is accepting posts in the governmental machinery; Guillermo Lora, former Secretary of the party, has been appointed [to] the Stabilization Office; Comrade Moller, present Secretary of the POR, is director of the Workers Savings Bank, which is controlled by Juan Lechin, a member of the Cabinet; Allayo Mercado, another POR leader, is a member of the Agrarian Commission. In the face of these reports the silence of the PC of the SWP and of the International Secretariat should cause deep concern to all comrades.
Silence is acquiescence. And those who remain silent before a policy which politically disarms the workers and peasants before their class enemy must share the responsibility for the inevitable results.
The reports of coalitionism and class-collaboration by the POR do not come as a bolt from the blue. This is the direction the political line of the POR has taken, with the encouragement of the leading comrades of the International, since the April 9th, 1952 revolution.
In May, 1952 the paper carried an interview with Comrade Lora. I wrote a letter to the PC, which was printed in the June 1952 Internal Bulletin, expressing sharp disagreement with Lora’s political line. I stated then that I thought it was a conciliationist and class-collaborationist line, rather than the line of revolutionary Marxism; and I asked whether this was the line of the POR. The PC replied that this was “obviously a difference of opinion between you and Comrade Lora,” and it, the PC, was in no position to participate in the discussion.
Now we have the official position of the POR, in the form of an unsigned article in the magazine ( “One Year of the Bolivian Revolution” [Fourth International, Jan.-Feb. 1953]). This article, continuing Lora’s line, unmistakably lays the basis not for leading the proletarian revolution but for propping up the bourgeois state. Immediately on reading the article, I prepared a criticism, intended for the Internal Bulletin. On hearing of the actual steps the POR has taken toward getting into the government, I refrained from sending in my article, waiting for a denial, or an explanation, or a criticism, by the PC or the IS. However, no comment has up to now been forthcoming; and this fact is in itself a harsh indictment not only of the policy of the POR, but also of the line of the IS and of the PC.
2. A “CLASSICAL” REVOLUTION—AN UNCLASSICAL POLICY
Since the Second World War, the International has been in the habit of finding “exceptional” situations in which, “exceptionally,” the “classical’ laws and traditions of Leninism do not hold. In Eastern Europe the denial of the revolution-war character of the Soviet-German war led the International to see the establishment of workers’ states without proletarian revolution. In China the International sees a transitional state, neither bourgeois nor proletarian, baptized dual power and “workers and peasants government.” Furthermore, the International sees the Chinese Stalinist party reformed into a party that it expects will lead “the demonstration of proletarian power’; the role of Trotskyism is reduced from the struggle for power to that of “pushing” the CP and the masses. For these “exceptional” situations the International has adopted the concepts and methods of reformism. But a reformist course once embarked upon, cannot be confined; it is not at all difficult to see every situation as “exceptional”.
But the article ("One Year of the Bolivian Revolution") notes that we have here no exceptional situation. It sees the close resemblance of the course of the Bolivian revolution to that of the Russian revolution. One would think that much could be learned by studying the strategy and tactics—above all, the conceptions—of the Bolsheviks in the February-October period.
The political line of the POR, however, is not that of Lenin but that of his class-collaborationist opponents, Kamenev and Zinoviev. The latter, in fact, did not go as far as the POR; they did not accept posts in the bourgeois government.
“If that policy (of Kamenev and Zinoviev) had prevailed,” says Trotsky, ‘die development of the revolution would have passed over the head of our party and, in the end, the insurrection of the worker and peasant masses would have taken place without party leadership; in other words, we would have had the repetition of the July days on a colossal scale, i.e., this time not as an episode but as a catastrophe. It is perfectly obvious that the immediate consequence of such a catastrophe would have been the physical destruction of our party. This provides us with a measuring rod of how deep our differences of opinion were.”
The same measuring rod should indicate to us the very serious penalty our movement will incur as the result of a wrong policy. Let me cite the three central paragraphs of the magazine article:
“The POR began by justifiably granting critical support to the MNR government. That is, it desisted from issuing the slogan down with the government’; it gave the government critical support ll against attacks of imperialism and reaction, and it supported all progressive measures. But at the same time it avoided any expression whatever of confidence in the government. On the contrary, it propelled the revolutionary activity and independent organization of the masses as much as it could.
“The POR limits its support and sharpens its criticism insofar as the government proves itself incapable of fulfilling the national-democratic program of the revolution, insofar as it hesitates, capitulates, indirectly plays the game of imperialism and reaction, prepares to betray and for this reason tries to harry and deride the revolutionists.
“The POR has been applying this flexible attitude which requires a carefully considered emphasis at each moment, one that is not confused but neither is it sectarian, and in applying this attitude the POR is demonstrating a remarkable political maturity. The POR has adopted an attitude of constructive criticism toward the proletarian and plebeian base of the MNR with the aim of facilitating a progressive differentiation within it.
“Every sentence in these three paragraphs contains at least one assault on the theory and practice of revolutionary Marxism; the policy outlined is the direct opposite of the one carried out by Lenin. It has become the fashion here in Los Angeles to point out that Lenin is dead; but we can easily judge with what choice and pithy characterizations ations he would have answered anyone who called any kind of support of a bourgeois government’ justifiable.”
“Why didn’t you arrest Rodzianko and Co.’ (the Provisional Government)? he bitterly flung at the Bolshevik leaders on his arrival in Petrograd. The next day he wrote: ‘No support whatever to the Provisional Government.’ In the mass demonstrationtion toward the end of April the Bolsheviks raised the slogan: ‘Down With the Government’.”
Lenin withdrew the slogan “Down with the government.” But this had nothing in common, as Trotsky points out in “Lessons of October,” with the position of Kamenev that the slogan itself was an adventuristic blunder.
“Lenin, after the experience of the reconnoiter,” says Trotsky, withdrew the slogan of the immediate overthrow of the provisional government. But he did not withdraw it for any set period of time—for so many weeks or months—but strictly in dependence upon how quickly the revolt of the masses against the conciliationists would grow The oppositionists, on the contrary, considered the slogan itself a blunder. (They favored critical support of the provisional government-S.R.) In the temporary retreat of Lenin there was not even a hint of change in the political line. He did not proceed from the fact that the democratic revolution was not completed. He based himself exclusively on the idea that the masses were not at the moment capable of overthrowing the Provisional Government and that, therefore, everything possible had to be done to enable the working class to overthrow the Provisional Government on the morrow. ‘
Lenin’s “flexibility” in tactics has nothing in common with the flexible attitude” of the POR toward the MNR government. Lenin was not at all flexible but very rigid in his attitude toward the Provisional Government. All of Lenin’s flexible tactics were part of one unchanging line: overthrow of the Provisional Government.
Lenin reposed no confidence at all in the Provisional Government, nor in the parties that composed it; his confidence was entirely, reserved to the Bolshevik party. This statement is a truism, almost a tautology. The magazine, however, feels constrained to protest that the POR “avoided (!!) any expression of confidence in this government.” What is this but the purely formal language of diplomacy? And like all diplomatic language, this passage is more useful in hiding than in clarifying the thought behind it.
What does this sentence mean? That the POR never said: “We have confidence in the government"? But there are many way to express the essence of confidence, above a in action, while “avoiding” the form. First of all, in the April 9,1952 revolution the POR, rather than striving for power for itself, for the working class, proposed that the MNR take power; that is, the POR proposed to maintain the bourgeoisie in power.
If confidence is not placed in the working class and its party, that they can take and exercise power, it is thereby given, like it or not, to the bourgeois government. Lenin understood this. When, in answer to his demand that the bourgeois government be overthrown, the Mensheviks asked the, to them, rhetorical question—Who among us will form a government and rule the nation?—Lenin shouted out—“We will!” And he was answered by derisive laughter, for the Bolsheviks were but a small minority in the Soviet and in the country.
The magazine article itself exposes the glaring contrast between the attitude of the POR and that of Lenin.
“The The direction of the Bolivian revolution up to now confirms step by step the general line of this type of classic development of the proletarian revolution in our epoch. It bears more resemblance to the course of the Russian revolution, although in miniature, than it does to the Chinese revolution, for example. It began by lifting the radical party of the petty bourgeoisie to power (as was the case with the Russian revolution in a particular stage before October) with the support of the revolutionary masses ... and of the still revolutionary party of the proletariat, the POR.”
This is not “avoiding any expression of confidence in the MNR government"! Furthermore, it is arrantly false to imply that the Bolsheviks gave any support to any"radical party of the petty bourgeoisie” which ruled Russia ‘in a particular stage before October.”
3. WHITEWASHING THE LABOR LIEUTENANTS
Could the working class have taken power in April, 1952? The above-quoted paragraph implied that a proletarian revolution was not possible. But this is a hopelessly formalistic view of the matter. The working class was armed and had defeated the army and the police. Nothing prevented it from taking power except its own illusions and its own capitulationist leadership. Exactly as in Russia! the power of the working class is shown by the fact that it was able to force the MNR to admit two of its leaders into the government.
Nothing at all is said about this in the magazine article. The author speaks of a future differentiation with the MNR, of a future revolutionary wing emerging from the MNR, but he says nothing at all of the fact that this differentiation is already over a year old; that what the masses supported in April, 1952, was not the MNR but its proletarian (class-collaborationist) left wing. What were, and are, the relations between the POR and this already-existing left wing? This question is not even discussed. The article “avoids” mentioning the “expression of confidence” which the POR extended to the class-collaborationist labor leaders (and to the government) when it supported ttheir entry into the government. And to this day the POR has not raised the demand that the labor leaders break with the bourgeois government and take power.
The decisive question of the revolution is not even mentioned! The struggle of the POR for power is concretely embodied in its struggle with the MNR left wing for leadership of the workers and peasants. Before the Marxists can take power they must defeat the Compromisers ideologically and politically. This is an integral and unavoidable part of the class struggle; the Compromisers embody the influence of the enemy class within the working class.
How did the Bolsheviks defeat the Russian Compromisers? The Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries also had the support of a majority of the workers and peasants. They also entered the bourgeois government. The Bolsheviks mercilessly attacked the Compromisers for their class treachery. They intransigently opposed the collaboration of the Mensheviks and SRs in the bourgeois government. When the Bolsheviks were in a small minority they insistently demanded that the Mensheviks and SRs break with the bourgeois politicians and take power, and not some time in the future, but now, immediately. Even if the Mensheviks and SRs had taken power in the spring of 1917, that would not have won them the confidence of the Bolsheviks, nor a governmental coalition with them; the Bolsheviks promised only to overthrow them peacefully, insofar as that should be possible.
How is the POR going to expose and defeat the Bolivian compromisers? Far from attacking their class treachery, the POR demanded their inclusion in the MNR government. Far from calling on them to break with the MNR and take power (establish a “workers’ and peasants’ government") ) the POR relegates the workers’ and peasants government to “the final aim of the struggle.” The POR speaks of the “collaboration of a revolutionary wing emerging from the MNR in a future workers’ and peasants’ government. It has thus solved the problem—verbally. If the future left wing is revolutionary, all we have to do is merge with it and form a bigger revolutionary party. But to grapple with the present reformist left wing? This the POR fails to do.
The assumption that a POR government was inevitable is an attempt to whitewash the false and treacherous leaders of the working class by blaming their class treachery on the “backwardness” of the masses.
4. CRITICAL SUPPORT AND CLASS COLLABORATION
The question of critical support has become a difficult thing to discuss in our party; its meaning has become obscured since the International decided to give critical support to the Mao government in China and to the MNR government in Bolivia. Is critical support political support? Is critical support material defense against armed counter-revolution? Is critical support of a government merely support of its progressive measures? All these definitions are included in one brief and very confused passage in the magazine article.
In the Spanish civil war the Trotskyists were quite clear about the distinction between material aid and critical support. We gave material aid to the bourgeois Loyalist government; but we gave it no hint of critical support. Shachtman was sharply rebuked by Trotsky for proposing it. Our attitude toward the working class parties, including the POUM, the most left of them all, was the same; we refused to give them critical support.
Lenin likewise drew a sharp line between defense and support. At the time of Kornilov’s attempt to overthrow Kerensky he wrote:
“We ought not even now support the Kerensky government. This is unprincipled. You may ask ‘Ought we not to fight against Koraov?’ Yes, of course, But these are two entirely different things. A boundary line divides them which some Bolsheviks transgress and fall into conciliationism, allowing themselves to be carried away by the flood-tide of events.”
Lenin’s defense of Kerensky was an integral part of his struggle to overthrow Kerensky.
In the conception of the POR, as exemplified by the magazine article under discussion, the word “defense” as applied to the bourgeois government is nowhere to be seen. The word “support” is applied indiscriminately to mean both political support and material defense. Besides being an impoverishment of our theoretical heritage, this confusion gives aid and comfort to all the compromisers.
“The POR limits its support and sharpens its criticism insofar as the government proves itself incapable of fulfilling the national-democratic program of the revolution, insofar as it hesitates, capitulates, indirectly plays the game of imperialism and reaction, prepares to betray and for this reason tries to harry and deride the revolutionists.
What is this but political support—that is, support of the policy of the MNR government, insofar as it does carry out the national- democratic. program of the revolution? How reminiscent of the “insofar” as of Stalin and Kamenev, who, before Lenin’s arrival in Petrograd, proclaimed their readiness to support the Provisional Government “insofar as it fortifies the conquestsrevolution. `insofar as “ it fortifies the conquests of the revolution.”
What is wrong with both examples of “insofar as"? Just this—to correlate “support” and “criticism” means that our support is political; how can you correlate physical defense with political criticism?
If, however the POR means that we “limit” our material defense of the treacherous ally depending on their political policy or there attitude toward us, then this could only result in sectarian isolation and passivity at the very moment when material defense is necessary. This is another instance of the well-known fact that opportunism and sectarianism are carried in the same theoretical shell. Let us remember that Kornilov’s attempt on Kerensky came in August, precisely during Kerensky’s repression of the Bolsheviks; Trotsky was in prison, Lenin in hiding. Kerensky had certainly “proved proved himself incapable of fulfilling the national-democratic program of the revolution"’; he was certainly “harrying and deriding the revolutionists.” Furthermore, Kerensky was actually plotting with Kornilov to destroy the Soviets. Wasn’t this the ideal time for Lenin to “limit his support"? Yet if he had taken such “revenge” on Kerensky the revolution would have suffered a smashing defeat.
Before the recent plenum of our National Committee, the Los Angeles Local held a discussion in which the question of critical support of the Mao Tse-Tung government figured prominently. “Critical support,” said Myra Tanner, “is not political support”. “Critical support", said Murray Weiss, also a supporter of the IEC position, “is political support.” And he castigated the Vern tendency as hopeless sectarians because they oppose giving critical support to a working class party which has led a revolution. Together with Comrade Vern I have written a reply to this position, which has been submitted but not as yet published in the Internal Bulletin ("Open Letter to the National Committee ). [This Open Letter was published in the same issue of the SWP Internal Bulletin as the current document.]
But the argument of Murray Weiss does not apply to Bolivia; and this was pointed out several times in the course of the discussion. When we asked “What about Bolivia?” our only answer was an embarrassed silence. And this silence has been maintained by Murray Weiss and all the comrades supporting the position of the IEC all through the discussion and to this very day!
The question whether critical support is political support could only arise because the traditional Trotskyist position on critical support has been overthrown. The question could not arise in the past because Trotskyists have never before given critical support to a party or a government. We have never hesitated, however, to give critical support to all progressive actions of any party, any government. Giving critical support to President Truman’s suggestion for an increase in the minimum wage, for example, did not imply critical support to the Democratic party, and did not raise the question whether or not we were giving political support to the government.
5. DOES THE THIRD CAMP RULE BOLIVIA?
Is the Bolivian government a bourgeois government? Does it serve one of the two major contending classes of modern society? On this question too the POR has abandoned the traditional and principled position of Marxism. And in making this “exception” it finds support in the other “exceptions” found by the International in the “intermediate status” of Eastern Europe in 1945-48 and in the “workers’ and peasants’ government” the IEC sees in China.
“The MNR, says the POR, “is a mass party, the majority of its leadership petty-bourgeois but fringed with a few conscious representatives of the nascent industrial bourgeoisie, one of whom, for example, is very probably Paz Estenssoro himself” And the government is, naturally, characterized as a “petty-bourgeois” government “fringed with conscious agents of the native feudal-capitalists and of imperialism.” The agents of imperialism and of the capitalist class are on the fringes of the party and of the government. Such a ludicrous assertion is possible only in an atmosphere poisoned with neo-reformism. The bourgeois politicians are on the fringes of the MNR in exactly the same sense in which Henry Ford is on the fringe of the Ford Motor Co.
How do the leaders of the POR account for the fact that these agents of the bourgeoisie and of imperialism control the government, including in their ranks that prominent inhabitant of the “fringe,” the president of Bolivia? Every successful and unsuccessful revolution since 1917 teaches us that the petty-bourgeoisie (and this applies doubly to the urban petty bourgeoisie) cannot have a party of its own; cannot establish its own government. This is the cornerstone of the Permanent Revolution.
Contrast the superficial approach of the POR with that of Trotsky:
“The revolution,” he says in “Lessons of October,” “caused political shifts to take place in two directions; the reactionaries became Cadets and the Cadets became Republicans against their own wishes—a purely formal shift to the left; the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks became the ruling bourgeois party—a shift to the right. These are the means whereby bourgeois society seeks to create for itself a new backbone of state power, stability and order.”
We should not forget that the counterpart of the Mensheviks and SRs is not the MNR, but its labor left wing. Trotsky does not fail to characterize those Bolsheviks who favored critical support to the government:
“But at the same time, while the Mensheviks were passing from a formal socialist position to a vulgar democratic one, the right wing of the Bolsheviks was shifting to a formal socialist position, i.e., the Menshevik position of yesterday.
6. THE MNR IS OUR DEADLY ENEMY!
Why is it so important to understand that the MNR government is a bourgeois (and not a petty-bourgeois) government? Because the Trotskyists must be absolutely clear that the government is their deadly enemy. And the Trotskyists must be the deadly enemy of the MNR and its government. This is not the conception of the POR.
“In a more advanced stage of the revolution, says the magazine article, “it (the Paz Estenssoro government) will fall under the drive of the right seekingking to impose a military dictatorship, , or of the left to establish the genuine workers’ and peasants’ government, the dictatorship of the proletariat allied to the peasant poor and the urban petty-bourgeoisie.”
What will the MNR do? Will it wait to be overthrown?
No. The MNR will tie the hands of the working class, entangle it in bourgeois legalism and red tape, using its labor lieutenants for this purpose. It will persecute the revolutionary militants, disarm the workers politically (again, using its labor lieutenants), then physically.
And the forces of “the right, seeking to impose a military dictatorship,” who are they? With what will they impose this military dictatorship? Aren’t they the officers, the general staff, of precisely this “petty-bourgeois” government? Don’t the petty-bourgeois democrats always, like Kerensky, like Azana, like Paz Estenssoro, build up and conspire with their own generals? Kornilov was Kerensky s chief of staff. Franco was Azana s mllilitary ruler of North Africa. And let us not forget that most left of democrats, the darling of the Stalinized Comintern, Chiang Kai-shek, who was his own Kornilov, That the future would-be military dictator of Bolivia is at present preparing himself and his forces under the protection of Paz Estenssoro is indicated by the recent attempt at a coup d’etat by army and police officers.
The MNR government is the deadly enemy of the working class. Its overthrow is an urgent necessity.
7. CONSCIOUS PLANNING OR FATALISTIC OPTIMISM?
One of the most striking features of the POR line is its fatalistic optimism. One example:
“The urban petty bourgeoisie,” says the magazine article, “is divided between a very poor majority, highly radicalized because of its unstable conditions and always available (my emphasis-S.R.) as an ally of the revolutionary proletariat...”
But the impoverished petty bourgeoisie is not always available as an ally of the revolutionary proletariat. One of the major lessons of the Russian October, and of the aborted German revolution of 1923, and of the rise of Hitler, is exactly this: The radicalized petty bourgeoisie, and the working class for that matter, cannot be regarded as so much bullion, always available to the Party once they have been convinced of the necessity for a revolutionary change. They have turned first to the social reformists. Disappointed in Marxists critically, suspiciously. If the Marxists prove timorous, hesitate in carrying out their allotted task of overthrowing the bourgeois government, the support of the masses will quickly melt away. The radicalized petty bourgeoisie then become easy prey for a fascist demagogue; the petty bourgeoisie is then “available” not for revolution but for counter-revolution.
That is why the insurrection is so very necessary a part of the revolution. That is why the moment of insurrection is the decisive moment in the life of the revolutionary party. That is why Lenin was so insistent that the Bolshevik Central Committee treat insurrection as an art.
“The persistent, tireless, and incessant pressure which Lenin exerted on the Central Committee throughout September and ctober arose from his constant fear lest we allow the propitious moment to slip away.” This is Trotsky speaking, in “Lessons of October.” “What does it mean to lose the propitious moment? ...the relation of forces undergoes change depending on the mood of the proletarian masses, depending upon the extent to which their illusions are shattered and their political experience has grown; the extent to which the confidence of intermediate classes and groups in the state power is shattered; and finally, the extent to which the latter loses confidence in itself During revolution all these processes take place with lightning speed. The whole tactical art consists in this: that we seize the moment when the combination of circumstances is most favorable to us... Neither the elemental disintegration of the state power, nor the elemental influx of the impatient and exacting confidence of the masses in the Bolsheviks could endure for a protracted period of time. The crisis had to be resolved one way or another. It is now or never! Lenin said.”
There is nothing of this sense of urgency in the line of the POR, as expressed in the magazine article. “The final aim of the struggle strygle” is expressed as:I
“the formation of a genuine workers’ and peasant’s government. This government will not arisemechanically but dialectically, basing itself on the organisms of dual power created by the mass movement itself..” “The workers’ and peasants’ government will appear tomorrow as the natural emanation of all these organisms on which it will base itself.”
All the expressions used—“formation,” “arise dialectically,” “appear”—can describe an evolutionary process. The decisive question, however, is not how the workers state will appear, arise, or be formed, but how it will take power, become the ruler of the nation. What is missing is the consummation of the revolution, the consciously organized insurrection.
One possible reply to my criticism (if it is answered at all) may be that I am too critical of the POR; that the leaders of the POR know what has to be done in a revolution; that they simply do not want to tell all their plans.
Unfortunately, such reasoning, alluring as it may appear, demands an exercise of faith rivaling that of the believer in the Immaculate Conception. For it is not the subjective intentions of the leaders of the POR which are at issue (I admit they are only the best), but the objective results of their neoreformist conceptions.
It is a very difficult thing to shift a party’s line from peace to war, from critical support to revolutionary overthrow. Even if the POR had the line of irreconcilable opposition to the government from the very beginning, the change from preparation to actual overthrow would bring with it a crisis of leadership, such as plagued the Bolsheviks in October, when a section of the Central Committee, led by Kamenev and Zinoviev, came out in public opposition to insurrection.
“Each party,” says Trotsky, "even the most revolutionary party, must inevitably produce its own organizational conservatism; for otherwise it would be lacking in the necessary stability... We have already quoted the words of Lenin to the effect that even the most revolutionary parties, at a time when an abrupt change occurs in a situation and when new tasks arise as a consequence, frequently pursue the political line of yesterday, and thereby become, or threaten to become, a brake upon revolutionary development. Both conservatism and revolutionary initiative find their most concentrated expression in the leading organs of the party.”
In overcoming the opposition of Zinoviev and Kamenev, Lenin had this advantage: the publicly-stated party line was on his side. Six months before, in April, Lenin had rearmed the party; he had decisively defeated those who wanted to give critical support to the Provisional Government. Since then the party had openly agitated for the prepared the overthrow of that government.
8. THE SEED AND THE FRUIT
Who will have the advantage in the POR—the partisans of conservatism, or the partisans of revolutionary initiative? The question is already answered. the POR is to the right of the right-wing Bolsheviks who, as Trotsky says, adopted a formal socialist position.
The POR occupies, on all major questions, the positions occupied by Menshevism in the Russian revolution, and by Stalinism in the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925-27.
The POR, in its reformist conceptions, its conciliationist attitude, and its class-collaborationist methods, bases and supports itself upon the neo-reformist position adopted by the International since the Second World War. Such is the theory adopted by the International in explaining the transformations in Eastern Europe. This theory, which since its adoption has received no defense in our press, either public or internal, holds in effect that reformism worked in Eastern Europe; that the class nature of the state was changed without proletarian revolution, by manipulations in the top circles; that the state for three years was in an intermediate status. This revision of Marxism had its roots, like all revisionism since 1917, in the Russian Question; and inability or unwillingness to see the Soviet-German war as a class war—that is, as revolution and counterrevolution.
The political line of the International in China brings its neoreformism down from the realm of theory (or terminology ), to that of political activity. The idea of a transitional state, a state that is neither a bourgeois nor a workers’ state, is made more explicit; through “critical support” of the Mao government the leading role of Stalinism is affirmed, while the crucial necessity of Marxist consciousness, embodied in the Trotskyist party, is thrown overboard. Revolutionary consciousness is to be replaced by the “pressure of the masses.”
The POR has introduced nothing new. It is applying in Bolivia the revisionist line of the International—moreover, with the support and encouragement of the International.
I have no doubt that a majority of the comrades are uneasy over the course being pursued in Bolivia; that they do not agree with the line of the POR. But an embarrassed silence is not enough. Those who remain silent for the sake of a false harmony cannot escape responsibility for the consequences of a wrong political line.
Last Updated: 25 May 2009