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Louis Fisher Slays “Trotskyism” Again

(12 May 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 19, 12 May 1934, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a recent issue of the Nation, Mr. Louis Fischer, in a much heralded article, invokes the death of “Trotskyism” for the hundredth time. It seems however that “Trotskyism” always pops up again, much to the dismay of its opponents. The reactionary capitalist Governments of Europe however, don’t care much for ‘’counter-revolutionary Trotskyism”, dead or alive.

Mr. Fischer, like most Stalinist scribes, does not feel impelled to substantiate his “arguments” against Trotsky by any facts, but resurrects the old fiction manufactured by Manuilsky & Co.

Mr. Fischer’s chapter in the international campaign of calumny and falsification starts off with the thesis that Rakovsky’s recantation spells the death of “Trotskyism”. His whole argument revolves around this axis. As if the capitulation of an individual impugns the fundamental principles of that movement. History can not be written so simply. The socialist and communist movement has been pock-marked with desertions, yet the principles of communism remain as unshaken as ever.

Causes of Rakovsky’s Capitulation

If Mr. Fischer wants to find out the real meaning and cause of Rakovsky’s capitulation, he himself has given us the clue.

“At a recent party conference in Eastern Siberia,” writes Mr. Fischer, “Emilian Yaraslovsky, a member of the inner Bolshevik circle, spoke of the counter-revolutionaries hired by the bourgeoisie, and the delegates remarked that Trotsky too was in the pay of the capitalists. Yaraslovsky did not have the courage to deny this infamous accusation. His failure to do so was beneath contempt, as Stalin’s effort to rewrite Soviet history so that Trotsky’s role either disappears or becomes besmirched is beneath contempt.”

Yes, and this is but putting it mildly. It is to be wondered that not more of the thousands of exiled and persecuted Bolshevik-Leninists, isolated from any contact with world historic forces, systematically misinformed and deceived, not only as to the activities of Trotsky, but also about the tremendous world-shaking events of the last decade, have not also lost their bearings. In view of these factors, Rakovsky’s capitulation is but a hollow victory by which no clear sighted revolutionist will be misled

Let us now examine some of Mr Fischer’s “arguments”. “Trotsky” says Mr. Fischer, “... believed the New Economic Policy would bring back capitalism”. Where he ever got this information is not indicated, but you may be sure it did not come from Trotsky. Search as you may, in Trotsky’s writings you will not be able to find such a statement. Following this, Mr. Fischer contradicts his own statement by saying that Trotsky was ‘’one of the first to suggest the New Economic Policy”. Yes, Mr. Fischer and you can even go further. Trotsky was the first one to suggest it fully a year before its adoption.

“Socialism in One Country”

“Trotsky advocated industrialization on a vast scale”, continues Fischer, “but he did not suppose that socialism could thus be obtained”. Quite so! And in so thinking, he was in full agreement not only with Lenin who conceived of socialism as “the creation of a united world-wide economy, regulated according to a general plan by the proletariat of all nations ...”, but also of every Bolshevik-Internationalist prior to the epoch of Stalinism.

I would seriously recommend to Mr. Fischer, and to the American Stalinists whose history begins with the year 1924, that they devote a little time to the study of the A.B.C. of Communism from Bukharin’s and Preobrozhensky’s text-book which was formerly the official handbook of the Workers School. ‘’The Communist revolution”, says the book, “can be victorious only as a world revolution ...” Since 1924, however, the history of the party has been turned into a palimpsest.

In a book edited and with an introduction by Lenin, Stepanov-Skvortzov wrote:

“The proletariat of Russia never thought of creating an isolated socialist state. A self-sufficient ‘socialist’ State is a petty-bourgeois ideal. A certain approach to this is thinkable with an economic and political preponderance of the petty-bourgeoisie; in isolation from the outside world it seeks a means of consolidating its economic forms, which are converted by the new technique and the new economy into very unstable forms.”

Trotsky’s Position

What are Trotsky’s views on this question?

“Socialism,” says T, “is the organization of a planned and harmonious social production for the satisfaction of human wants. Collective ownership of the means of production is not yet socialism, but only its legal premise. The problem of a socialist society cannot be abstracted from the problem of the productive forces, which at the present state of human development are world-wide in their very essence. The separate state, having become too narrow for capitalism, is so much the less capable of becoming the arena of a finished socialist society. The backwardness of a revolutionary country, moreover, increases for it the danger of being thrown back to capitalism. In rejecting the perspective of an isolated socialist development, the Bolsheviks had in view, not a mechanically isolated problem of intervention, but the whole complex of questions bound up with the international economic basis of socialism ... Starting from the world-wide division of labor, the task of socialism is to carry the international exchange of goods and services to its highest development.”

I have attempted here to give the party view on the question of building socialism in one country from the mouths of the official spokesman of the Comintern – up to the Stalinist epoch. Similar views by Zlnoviev, Kamenev, Radek, etc., are all included in the history of the party – up to 1924. It will only be necessary for me to close this phase of the discussion with a quotation from Stalin’s Problems of Leninism (unexpurgated):

What Stalin Once Wrote

“To overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie and establish the power of the proletariat in one country, does not mean to guarantee the complete victory of socialism. The chief task of socialism, the organization of socialist production – lies still ahead. Can this task be accomplished? Is it possible to attain the final victory of socialism in one country, without the combined efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries? No, it is not. The efforts of one country are enough for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie – this is what the history of our revolution tells us. For the final victory of socialism, for the organization of socialist production, the efforts of one country, especially a peasant country like Russia, are not enough – for this we must have the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries ... Such in general are the chacteristic features of the Leninist theory of the proletarian revolution.”

* * * *


We will come back to this point shortly. For the moment let us proceed to Mr. Fischer’s next point. Accepting wholeheartedly the canards of the Stalin school he goes on to say that “... collectivization never present itself to him (Trotsky) as a major solution (?)”.

One might suppose that after making a categorical statement like this he would at least mention when or where this was true. But no, the readers of the Nation are left high and dry, for there is no accompanying explanation. What are Trotsky’s views on this question?

“The proletariat,” writes T, “cannot create a new society without bringing the peasantry to socialism through a series of transitional stages, the peasantry being a considerable – in a number of countries a predominant – part of the population, and a known majority on the earth as a whole. (Does this sound like underestimating the peasantry?) The solution of this most difficult of all problems depends in the last analysis upon the quantitative and qualitative correlations between industry and agriculture. The peasantry will the more voluntarily and successfully take the road of collectivization, the more generously the town is able to fertilize their economy and their culture.”

Who Killed the Comintern?

Mr. Fischer conveniently limits his remarks to the Soviet Union. It is indeed very disquieting to think of the events which have led to the catastrophic defeats of the working class throughout the world. As Mr. Fischer puts it:

“Europe never looked so dark and beyond hope as at the present tune. Yet Communism makes no headway. The Comintern is a dismal failure.”

Has Mr. Fischer given some thought and study to the problem Why hasn’t he devoted a little space to the position of the “Trotskyists” on these world-shaking events? It is a painful piece of work explaining why Europe looks ‘’so dark and beyond hope”. Mr. Fischer knows full well that the responsibility for this state of affairs rests largely on the nationalistic policy of the Stalinist bureaucracy. That is why the “Comintern is a dismal failure”.

The position of the International Communist League (Left Opposition) has been strikingly confirmed in the most critical events of the past decade. And no Stalinist apologist can white-wash the treacherous nationalistic role of the Comintern to make it appear as revolutionary internationalism. History has stripped the Stalinist International of its last claim to the confidence of the working class. It stands exposed today as a brake on the revolutionary movement.

“Trotsky’s World Revolution”

In September, 1932, Mr. Fischer wrote an article in Current History on Trotsky’s World Revolution”. There he endeavored to compare Trotsky’s views on the world situation with those of Stalin. Here is what he says:

“In Germany Trotsky urges a bloc between Communists and Social Democrats to fight fascism. Moscow declares, however, that this is menshevism (sic!), an old Trotskyist malady (!), and that since the Social Democrats had supported the former Bruening, Government, alliance with them would bolster up the German bourgeoisie.”

This however did not prevent the Comintern from supporting the plebiscite in 1931 in which the German Communists voted with the Hitlerites. That united front was all right.

“Trotsky’s most poisonous shafts are aimed against Stalin for his role in the Chinese revolution of 1924–1927 and in the present German crisis. Trotsky maintains that Stalin’s policy in China was not an accident and not a mere mistake, but an inevitable result of his rejection of the doctrine of Permanent Revolution. The acceptance of that theory, Trotsky insists, would have prevented Stalin from supposing that a successful socialist revolution could have issued from a union between the petty-bourgeois Kuomintang and the workers and peasants, in which the Kuomintang was the dominating influence. Trotsky above all, criticizes the Comintern for restraining the German Communist party from decisive revolutionary action.”

Propaganda of the Hirelings

I have quoted Mr. Fischer at length so that there will not be any question of misstatement and misinterpretation. And since he so well bears out the claims of the Bolshevik-Leninists as to the revisionist policies of the Comintern, I will, at the risk of being tedious, conclude with a few choice excerpts from his article in Current History. There is no better way to refute the insidious nationalistic propaganda of the Stalinist hirelings than with the words from their own months.

“Since 1927 Stalin has defended the thesis of capitalist-Communist co-existence. The Soviet Government officially proposed a resolution at the International Economic Conference in Geneva in May 1927, which enunciated the idea that the two opposing forms of society could live together in peace and cooperation. On all recent occasions Soviet spokesmen have emphasized the same proposition.”

That this is not just “front” for the benefit of the capitalists but an integral part of the new philosophy of the Soviet bureaucracy is indicated in a speech made by Litvinoff, before the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union (not a chamber of Commerce):

“... my conversations with President Roosevelt convinced us both of the absolute possibility of the closest relations and cooperation for peace by our two countries. One cannot but admire President Roosevelt’s perspicacity in realizing not only the uselessness of continued struggle with us in the name of capitalism but the value of relations with us not only for the sake of America’s national interests but for the cause of peace.”

It is only because Lenin is pinned under a mausoleum and Trotsky exiled that they dare mouth such vicious, reactionary views. And to think that these statements are broadcast throughout the world to delude the workers into believing that the capitalist nations are really interested in peace!

Close-up of Stalinism

Mr. Fischer continues:

“At the end of the second Five-Year Plan in 1937, according to sanguine Bolshevist (?) claims socialism will hare been established in Russia (!), despite the persistence of capitalism everywhere else. The Russian Communists therefore, are devoting themselves to the tasks at home. They are more introverted than ever before. Foreign politics interests them largely as a means of neutralizing outside hostility and of obtaining credits. Anything that may interfere seriously with domestic improvement is avoided. The Bolsheviki would say that capitalists will do more than the communists to undermine capitalism. Today, despite the universal depression, they view the world scene soberly (!) and, while discerning a gradual shift to the left, are skeptical about a red uprising, even in Germany, not to speak of other countries. ... But how would the Communists in the Soviet Union behave if revolution were imminent in some important country? What if Germany or France or Japan were on the very threshold of a national social upheaval? The historical precedent is Germany to 1923. The Reich had been impoverished by inflation. Bread riots had occurred in numerous cities. The German Communists were planning an uprising. With one hand the Comintern helped them. But Stalin said: ‘In my opinion we must restrain the Germans and not encourage them’.”

Is it any wonder then that Hitlerism and not Communism triumphed in Germany?

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