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Jack Weber

March of Events

(4 May 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 20, 4 May 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Road to Power ...

In the current issue of the New Leader appears an article by the Menshevik, Abramowitsch, on Socialism on the Road to Power. Here reformist socialism once more lifts its head and tries to create the impression that it may revive and come to life. Two currents in the rapidly moving world scene create the illusion among those like Abramowitsch, cast on the rubbish heap of history, that it is yet possible for them to come into their own. The first is the assumption of office in the so-called “democratic” countries by labor parties. Thus “labor” governments have come into power in the three Scandinavian countries; the labor party enters the national concentration government in Belgium; and finally in England events foreshadow a new Labor Party government. True, says Abramowitsch, the governments do not have a majority in parliament and hence “do not place before themselves the task of immediate realization of Socialism.” Their immediate task is to supply “correctives” for capitalism. Such reforms can no longer be carried out by capitalism itself. The job of salvaging capitalism must be performed by the proletariat “through the instrumentalities of its own parties” and it is in this sense that these parties must take “power”; that is, take over responsibility for the bourgeois government and the bourgeois, not the Socialist, system of society!

* * *

The Betrayals ...

Abramowitsch knows quite well the specific weight of the Scandinavian countries as against Germany. He recognizes in passing the “severe blow” dealt to international Socialism by the victory of Hitler. But he dare not stop to analyze the lessons of that blow, nor to apportion the responsibility for the frightful defeat of the German workers organized in the strongest Social Democratic party in the world. He is consoled by the misery to which the masses have been driven by the crisis. “The crisis now shaking the edifice of capitalism to its very foundation, emphasizing more clearly than ever the bankruptcy of capitalism, has compensated to a considerable degree the defeat suffered by Socialism in Central Europe.” The reformist and parliamentary cretins, misleading the workers and preventing their taking power, thereby forcing them to undergo the wretchedness and suffering of a decaying capitalist system, feel compensated [by] this very misery! And when the Abramowitsches see signs of a recrudescence of the class struggle, they propose to play the game once more as in Germany, as though Hitler did not exist, as though the working class had learned nothing from its experience. “This process of recovery is taking place in countries where democracy is firmly in power, and on a platform of reformism and coalition with democratic-bourgeois parties.” In short, he approves of the very process which creates illusions among the workers, which lulls them into passivity and disarms them at the very moment when fascism is making its bid for power (and not with votes!) in every country in Europe. The approaching imperialist war threatens the workers and all their democratic rights, gained through years of struggle and at untold sacrifice. Abramowitsch gives lip service to the fact that only the forces of Socialism can prevent war. And then this social chauvinist adds, in preparation for the actuality: “And only the working class, as the basic power upon which modern industry rests, can help win a war should it be impossible to avert it. Thus do the reformists guarantee their next betrayal in advance, guarantee national defense to uphold the capitalist system.

* * *

Abramovitsch ...

The second current that gives courage to the Mensheviks is the trend of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. The complete swing to the right, the concessions made to the peasants, the blow dealt to the real Marxists have gained the applause of the Mensheviks. Abramowitsch encourages this trend and wants to see it go even further. After stating that the problem of power in Russia has not been solved, despite appearances, he asks for more concessions and greater steps to the right. “The democratization of the Soviet regime, conciliation (through compromise based upon abandonment of Utopianism) with the basic forces of the peasantry (read kulaks) and the proletariat (read the upper strata) is the immediate task in the problem of the ‘road to power’ in Russia.” A reconciliation with the Mensheviks is guardedly proposed. This would strengthen “the revolutionary government” as well as the Socialist proletariat of Europe. The whole tenor of the remarks on the Soviet Union is to soften the struggle against Stalin, to ask further moves to the right from the bureaucracy, and on this basis to promise to “defend the Soviet Union.” Such defense of the Soviet Union as would be made by the Mensheviks would mean the end of the Soviets. The founders of the Soviets, Lenin and Trotsky, were convinced that the October Revolution would not survive without the support of a proletarian revolution in the West. Stalinism is the living proof of the degeneration of the October Revolution, its downsliding, without that support. The failure to give that support, the defeat of the proletarian revolution in the West, can be laid at the door of the reformist socialists. By continuing their historic role, they propose to end the last vestiges of October. It still remains true that only a revolution in one of the advanced countries can save the October Soviet Revolution. But that is the task, not of the Second or the Third, but of the Fourth International.

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