Weiss Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Murry Weiss

Trotskyism Today

(Fall 1960)

From International Socialist Review, Vol.21 No.4, Fall 1960, pp.106-110..
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Some of Trotsky’s admirers say his ideas have no current relevance. A look at the competing tendencies in today’s international labor movement tells a much different story

TWENTY years after the murder of Leon Trotsky by a Kremlin agent in Mexico, August 21, 1940, there is more reason than before his death to believe that the ideas and movement he represented will play a decisive role in the epoch in which we live, the epoch of the revolutionary transformation of society from capitalism to socialism.

The opponents of Trotskyism will, of course, vigorously object to this proposition. While many, including some who admire Trotsky as an individual, are willing to grant that he possessed a rare and magnificent genius and accomplished great works in his time, they insist that the ideas of Trotsky and the movement that survived him have little, if any, bearing on the world today.

Isaac Deutscher, for example, who has done truly brilliant and tireless work in excavating the truth about Trotsky from under a mountain of Stalinist lies, regards Trotsky’s efforts to build the Fourth International, in contrast to his previous achievements, as a piece of inexplicable folly doomed in advance to failure.

Trotsky himself had a different view of the place his struggle for the Fourth International had in the totality of his life’s work.

While exiled in Norway and France in 1935, the monstrous spectacle of the Moscow Trials unfolded before Trotsky’s eyes. An entire generation of Russian revolutionary leaders, constituting the great majority of the Leninist cadre that led the Bolshevik revolution, was being destroyed. Trotsky understood the meaning of this better than anyone. The Stalinist bureaucracy aimed not simply at the physical extermination of the Leninist vanguard but above all at the annihilation of Leninist ideas. For the Stalinist usurpers, the ideas of Leninism, which after Lenin’s death they called “Trotskyism,” were a threat to their power that had to be buried along with its living representatives.

Under these conditions Trotsky regarded the work of building the Fourth International as pre-eminent. It meant nothing less than the struggle for the continuity of Marxism. In his 1935 Diary, March 25, he wrote:

“The work in which I am engaged now, despite Its extremely insufficient and fragmentary nature, is the most important work of my life – more important than 1917, more important than the period of the Civil War or any other ... The collapse of the two internationals has posed a problem which none of the leaders of these internationals is at all equipped to solve. The vicissitudes of my personal fate have confronted me with this problem and armed me with important experience in dealing with it. There is now no one except me to carry out the mission of arming a new generation with the revolutionary method over the heads of the leaders of the Second and Third Internationals.”

Philistines will rub their eyes in astonishment at such a statement. How Trotsky could compare his work in small propaganda circles; the painful rebuilding of contact and correspondence with tiny, isolated and hounded groups of oppositionists; the drafting of theses and resolutions for conferences attended by a handful of people; with his celebrated role in the October insurrection and the Civil War is beyond their comprehension. Trotsky, however, knew the indispensable role of ideological preparation and the building of revolutionary cadres in preparing for socialist victories.

TREMENDOUS events have taken place since 1935: the Spanish Civil War; the general strike in France in 1936; World War II, the defeat of the Hitlerite invasion of the Soviet Union; the victory of the Chinese Revolution; the vast sweep of the anti-imperialist, colonial revolution in Asia, Africa and Latin America; the enormous growth of Soviet economy; the default of the post-war revolutionary attempts of the working class in Western Europe; the recreation of conservative bourgeois regimes in West Germany and France; the return of the Tories in England; the social transformation of Eastern Europe into the Soviet orbit effected by bureaucratic and military means; the independent revolutionary working class struggles for socialist democracy in East Germany, Poland and Hungary; the cold war and the nuclear arms race; the prolonged prosperity in the United States accompanied by an unprecedented witch hunt and the relative quiescence of the labor movement; the new upsurge of the Negro struggle marked by the Southern sit-in movement; the wave of revolutionary events signalized by the June movement of workers and students in Japan, the most highly industrialized country of Asia.

How does the program of Trotskyism stand up in the light of these events? Or more precisely, how does the program of Trotskyism, in comparison with the programs of other tendencies in the working class, stand up in relation to the world situation today?

An objective balance sheet of these events will show that on the whole the socialist revolution has scored major advances and that imperialism has been seriously weakened. But it has by no means been an even or unbroken process. Not a few defeats have been suffered by the working class, as the recent victory of De Gaulle in France demonstrates. Capitalism has recouped some of its losses. It is sufficient to note that as a result of the betrayal of the working class by the reformist Labor party leaders in England the golden opportunity offered by the Labor victory in 1945 for a combined movement against imperialism in the colonial countries and in an advanced capitalist country was lost. Instead of such a favorable development, the treachery of the Labor leaders, allowed the Tories to regain power and thereby give new power and thrust to the Western imperialist drive towards World War III.

Moreover, the default of the Labor party in England reinforced the blockade of the Chinese revolution, compelling China to develop its socialist revolution while cut off from the main centers of industrial power in the world. It is only with the new developments in Japan as well as the symptoms of a left wing rebirth in England that the shifting of the center of gravity of the socialist revolution to the most advanced industrial countries is again on the order of the day, and with this comes the prospect of freeing the revolutions in the economically underdeveloped areas from the terrible bureaucratic deformations and distortions imposed upon them by inherited poverty and backwardness.

In our view, the basic premise on which the Fourth International was formed, the need to solve the crisis of proletarian leadership, remains fully operative today. To bring about the definitive victory of the socialist revolution and thereby avert the catastrophe capitalism threatens to inflict on humanity, the working class requires a revolutionary program and leadership. The program of Trotskyism, which is essentially the fundamental ideas of Marxism as continued by Lenin and enriched by the Russian Revolution, represents the revolutionary tendency within the working class. Trotskyism has, in our opinion, continued, applied and further developed this body of principle and experience. The Trotskyist program has been confirmed by all the successes of the socialist revolution, and the need for this program has been underscored by the failures of the revolution.

TROTSKYISM, therefore, stands in opposition to the reformist and class collaborationist tendencies in the working class which rest upon labor bureaucracies of diverse types. Since 1923, the reformist tendencies have divided into two fundamental groups – Stalinism, based on the Soviet bureaucracy, and Social Democracy, based on the bureaucracy of the labor movement in capitalist countries. We can examine the program and function of Trotskyism only in relation to the other two tendencies – Stalinism and Social Democracy.

There are two interrelated historical tasks confronting the peoples of the world:

  1. The abolition of capitalism in its chief industrial centers as well as in the former colonial possessions of imperialism;
  2. The democratization of economic, social and political life in the countries that have overthrown capitalism, a process which will simultaneously realize the program of socialist democracy and give enormous impetus to the economic development of these countries.

These two tremendous tasks go hand in hand. Every victory against capitalism relieves the pressure of hostile imperialist encirclement of the workers states. This pressure, and the inherited economic backwardness are the chief causes for the growth of bureaucracy and the stifling of workers democracy. And every victory of the Soviet orbit workers against the bureaucracy and for socialist democracy helps to clear the way for the revolutionary regroupment of the working class in capitalist countries and thereby promotes the socialist revolution.

If the existing tendencies predominating in the working class were carrying through these tasks or have shown capabilities for this, then there would be no historical necessity for a separate Trotskyist program, movement and leadership. However, since Trotsky’s death, neither the Social Democracy nor Stalinism has so changed their characteristics as to eliminate the necessity for a genuine Marxist leadership. In the advanced industrial countries the Social Democracy, seconded by the Stalinists, do not mobilize the workers in the struggle against capitalism. On the contrary, they are in league against the working class in their search for alliances with “peaceful and progressive” capitalists.

In the Soviet bloc countries, despite all the progressive changes and reforms since Stalin’s death, the Stalinist bureaucracy remains the principal obstacle to the introduction of socialist democracy into Soviet life. And the Social Democracy, which is completely subservient to the cold-war Western imperialist alliance, serves to promote the continued power of the Soviet bureaucratic caste by helping to prolong the pressure of capitalist encirclement on the workers states.

The Trotskyist movement, on the other hand, exerts all its efforts to promote the independent action of the working class against the rule of the monopolists in capitalist countries and above all in its central strongholds. And it supports by all its efforts the working class, the youth and the intellectuals in their fight to gain democratic control over the economy and political institutions of the Soviet orbit.

Despite the indubitable disparity in their official influence, the existence of the three main tendencies in the working class movement, in which Trotskyism stands opposed to the other two, is generally recognized. This is confirmed by the fact that our opponents are compelled, at least tacitly, to accept this framework, since in their opposition to Trotskyism they invariably take up positions ranging themselves behind Stalinism or Social Democracy. Conversely, those who break with Stalinism are constrained to move towards Trotskyism, or, in the opposite direction – towards Social Democracy. The same holds true for currents breaking away from Social Democracy – they move either towards Stalinism or Trotskyism.

The point is that each of the three tendencies represent classes and social strata deeply rooted in the social relations of our times and are not arbitrarily designated on the basis of some superficial and secondary distinguishing characteristics.

IN THE tradition of Marxism, the central idea of the Trotskyist program is that the working class can gain its emancipation and free humanity from the degradation of class society only through its own revolutionary action and organization. This simple though profound principle means that the working class must at all times fight for its political independence from the parties of the capitalists and middle class. At the summits of the workers movement, however, the enormous economic, social and cultural pressure of capitalism operates daily to produce and reproduce a privileged crust of bureaucrats which systematically separates itself from the class interests, ideology and political needs of the working class it is supposed to represent. The fact is that capitalism continues to rule in the greater part of the world today only by virtue of the fact that it maintains its domination over the working class, directly and indirectly, through these bureaucratic formations.

The forward march of the socialist revolution, therefore, depends on the capacity of the working class to throw off the bureaucracy, free itself from the bureaucratic ideology of subservience to capitalism and forge its own authentic instruments of struggle.

The argument against Trotskyism turns chiefly on this question: Must the working class create its own party and its own program in order to win the struggle for socialism? Or can it be done at a cheaper price as the ideologists of Stalinism and Social Democracy assure us, namely, through reliance on one or another section of the labor bureaucracy?

Those in the orbit of Social Democracy, in the US for example, will say: Look at the power of the labor movement with its seventeen million members and all the gains it has won under its present leadership of Meany and Reuther. Who are you Trotskyists to say that further social progress cannot be made, including bringing about socialism, through this type of leadership? Those in the orbit of the Stalinists argue: Look at the power of the Soviet Union, its industrial and technological progress. All this was accomplished under the leadership of Stalin and his successors. Who are you Trotskyists to say the full victory of socialism throughout the world cannot be achieved under this leadership?

There are a number of flaws in this type of argument. It operates on the assumption that the officials “in charge” of a union or a workers state are obviously responsible for all progressive achievements of the working class. Plausible as this formal view may be to middle class mentality, it is far from being a fact. Very often the given officialdom had little to do with the basic struggles of the working class that achieved progressive results. Often the officials of today were the most zealous opponents of the struggles that led to progress. After the opposition of these officials had been broken by the mass action of the workers and after the wave of militant struggle has receded, the officials, old and new, swarm into the places of power, organize the privilege-seeking apparatus men and, taking advantage of a period of lull and passivity “take charge” by ousting the militant leadership that stood at the head of the struggle. This cycle is familiar to everyone who has experienced the ebbs and flows of the mass movement – whether on the scale of strikes and unions or revolutions and workers states.

Furthermore, history is replete with examples of how the most powerful organizations of the working class were utterly destroyed and all past achievements wiped out because of the false policies of the allegedly all-wise and all-powerful officials. The example of how fascism destroyed the German working class organizations while its leadership floundered helplessly should forever be a reminder to shun the dogma that those currently at the head of the movement must know best.

THE basic reason for the defeat in Germany was the people’s front policy of the Social Democracy which led the majority of the working class. According to this policy, called the “Iron Front,” the German workers were told to rely on the bourgeois liberals to stop fascism. The Stalinists on the other hand led the revolutionary workers into the blind alley of its then ultra-left sectarian policies of “social fascism” (which declared the Social Democracy and not fascism to be the main danger) and the “united front from below” (which ultimatistically demanded in effect that the Social Democratic workers leave their party if they wanted united action with the Communist workers).

The Stalinist policy proved incapable of winning the German workers from the disastrous course of the people’s front. The liberals buckled in the face of Hitler’s drive to power. The Social Democratic leaders, to the very end refused to turn from its reliance on parliamentary deals with the liberal capitalists; they refused to heed Trotsky’s insistent warnings and his urgent proposal that the Communist and Social Democratic parties form a working class united front of action from top to bottom in order to stop the Hitlerites. The Stalinists likewise turned a deaf ear to the Trotskyist united front proposal and dubbed it “left social fascism.” Thus the German working class was paralyzed by its leadership and Hitlerism triumphed.

Few today will dispute the correctness of the Trotskyist program for Germany. Few will deny the fact that the false policies of both the Stalinists and Social Democrats led to the greatest catastrophe in history. The point is, however, that the very policy that led to the downfall of the German labor movement is today still promulgated not only by the Social Democracy but also by the Stalinists.

In every capitalist country in the world the Stalinists assist the Social Democracy in saddling the working class with the treacherous policy of relying on the liberal bourgeoisie in the struggle against the threat of war, reaction and fascism. Even the cold war has not broken this common front. Where the Social Democrats refuse to admit the Stalinists into the sacred precincts of its coalition with the liberals, the Stalinists base their whole policy on the hope of persuading the Social Democrats to relax their adherence to the cold war sufficiently to allow them to become partners in the reformist class collaboration game.

Meanwhile the Communist parties led by the Stalinists are educated in the spirit of parliamentary reformism and are utterly incapable of revolutionary action. The rise to power of De Gaulle in France, without any effective opposition from the working class is an ominous warning signal.

IF WE shift our attention from the current political to the theoretical plane, matters are, if possible, even worse. Both the Social Democrats and Stalinists have, each in their own way, completely abandoned even a pretense of adhering to the revolutionary Marxist doctrines. The Social Democrats of Germany have gone so far as to explicitly renounce the goal of socialism and include private capitalist ownership of the means of production in their new program. The right wing British Laborites are maneuvering to attain the same end.

Stalinist “theory” has fared no better. Beginning with the invention of the theory of “socialism in one country” by Stalin himself in 1924, the barrier to a formal renunciation of the revolutionary class struggle program of Marxism was removed. The latest theoretical expression of this process took place at the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist party where Khrushchev’s proposals to scuttle Lenin’s concept of imperialism and the revolutionary road to power were adopted.

The theoretical bankruptcy of Stalinism and Social Democracy is strikingly manifested in the fact that neither of them even professes to offer any theory of the nature and function of labor bureaucracies. The Stalinist theoreticians don’t even recognize the fact that a labor bureaucracy exists in capitalist countries. There are only “progressive” and “conservative” labor officials and unhealthy bureaucratic practices are occasionally mentioned. But the Leninist concept of the Social Democratic bureaucracy as a privileged social caste resting on the relatively satisfied and corrupted labor aristocracy, directly and indirectly bribed by some of the super profits of imperialism, has long ago been abandoned in the interests of partnership with the labor bureaucracy.


At the same time the Stalinists are, of course, incapable of countenancing a theory of the Soviet bureaucracy. In his secret speech to the Twentieth Congress, Khrushchev admitted a whole number of monstrous crimes of the Stalinist regime. But he attributed these crimes to Stalin’s falling victim to the “cult of personality.” He didn’t dare answer the question: what kind of a regime would support such unspeakable crimes? To tackle such a question Khrushchev would first of all have to admit the existence of a bureaucratic caste in the Soviet Union. This would lead to uncovering the fact that Lenin himself was a “Trotskyist”; that before his death he was preparing an open struggle in his own name against the bureaucracy in the Soviet State and Communist party; that he insistently urged Trotsky to open the fight when illness prevented him from carrying out his plan; and that Trotsky continued the struggle after Lenin’s death.

Khrushchev preferred to repeat the Stalinist lies about Trotskyism.

“We must affirm that the party fought a serious fight against the Trotskyists ...” he said, “and that it disarmed ideologically all enemies of Leninism. The ideological fight was carried on successfully ... Here Stalin played a positive role.”

IT ISN’T true that Trotskyism was defeated ideologically in the Soviet Union. It was crushed by force. How else explain the fact that the struggle against Trotskyism employed the almost unlimited resources of the Soviet state under Stalinism to organize a massive slander campaign, falsify history, imprison and exile thousands of oppositionists, expel tens of thousands of Trotskyist supporters from the factories, the schools and the party, and then organize assassinations of Trotsky, his secretaries arid members of his family? If Trotskyism was defeated ideologically why was it necessary to organize the infamous Moscow Trial frame-ups?

To answer these questions Khrushchev would be opening the dykes to a torrent of critical reexamination of the whole history of Stalinism, its social roots and its theoretical premises. Better keep silent even if it leads to such ludicrous consequences as are evident in the latest revised edition of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union where the old lies about Trotskyism are partly retained up to the point when the Moscow Trials took place. The Khrushchev historians then introduce a quaint innovation. They simply don’t mention the Moscow Trials! Such a glaring omission eloquently discloses how the specter of Trotskyism haunts the consciousness of the Soviet bureaucracy today. And for good reason. Trotskyism represents the inevitable program and banner of the gigantic struggles for socialist democracy that lie ahead. We have only seen the faint anticipation of such struggles in East Germany, Poland and Hungary. When the industrial workers of the Soviet Union, who are imbued with a socialist consciousness, begin to raise their demands for equality and democracy, they will find in Trotskyism the explanation of the bureaucratic regime and the guide to a revolutionary socialist struggle against it.

Naturally, the Social Democracy is likewise incapable of offering a theory of labor bureaucracy since such a theory would only explain the social and economic basis for its own birth, growth and imminent death. It has no more need for such a theory than capitalism has for the Marxist theory. Nor can the Social Democrats accept the Trotskyist theory of the Soviet bureaucracy. If the Social Democrats viewed the Stalinist power in the Soviet Union as based on a bureaucracy, they would have to answer a bureaucracy of what? This would lead to the “danger” of understanding that Stalinism is a bureaucratic growth on a workers state and that despite Stalinism this workers state must be defended against imperialism. The Social Democratic theorists resolve the problem by designating the Soviet bureaucracy as a “class” possessing features more reactionary than capitalism. They thereby justify their allegiance to Western imperialism in the cold-war “crusade for freedom.”

Thus neither in political program nor in theory do the Social Democrats and Stalinists offer the working class an explanation of the world today or the way to achieve socialism.

Chinese Revolution

HERE we must deal with a recurrent challenge to Trotskyism by critics who demand to know: Don’t the revolutionary transformations in Eastern Europe and the leadership of successful revolutions by the Yugoslav and Chinese Communist parties disprove the Trotskyist thesis that Stalinism is incapable of leading the socialist revolution? Walter Kendall, a writer for the British Independent Labor party paper, Socialist Leader, offers a typical statement of this challenge October 31 in an article, The Crisis of Trotskyism:

“In the China of the late twenties and early thirties Stalin’s policy, the Comintern thesis (of supporting Chiang Kai-shek) went down to utter ruin. Trotsky’s conclusion that the Chinese Revolution could triumph only under the leadership of the proletariat with the Communist party at its head seemed proven beyond all doubt. [In] 1948-49 the Chinese Community party IN DEFIANCE OF STALIN’S EDICTS [emphasis W.K.] carried the long drawn out civil war to a triumphant conclusion. A largely peasant army occupied China’s proletarian centers and established a revolutionary government in which a sta-tized economy controlled by the Communist party replaced the old regime ... The Trotskyists whose critique of Stalinism had previously seemed watertight now found themselves in a dilemma. The Chinese Communist party had achieved the impossible ... under Stalinist rule it had conquered power. The economy was statized. How then characterize Chinese society? China, replied the Trotskyists, is a workers state ... Yet if a workers’ revolution can be carried out by peasants without the workers lifting a finger to help themselves, not just Stalinism but also orthodox Trotskyism collapses. China poses a problem which Trotskyism has so far been unable to solve.”

Let us see. The Chinese Communist party did not act according to Stalinist theory and practice when it led the revolution to power. Why then should this create an insoluble dilemma for Trotskyism? If, by following the Stalinist program the Chinese Communist party had overthrown imperialism, landlordism and capitalism, then indeed it would be necessary to reexamine the Trotskyist theory of Stalinism. But what are the facts? Kendall himself indicates them. The Chinese CP “in defiance of Stalin’s edicts” took the power. According to the recently “leaked” records of the July 1945 Potsdam Conference, published in the Minneapolis Tribune August 22, 1960, Stalin, in his meeting with Churchill and Truman, referred to Chiang Kai-shek as “the best of the lot.” Stalin said, he “saw no other possible leader and that, for example, he did not believe that the Chinese Communist leaders were as good or would be able to bring about the unification of China.” Clearly the Kremlin wanted the Chinese CP to continue its ruinous policy of working for a coalition with the Chiang regime. It was only when the situation became so rotten ripe for the overthrow of the inwardly decomposing and demoralized Nationalist government, and when the elemental movement of the agrarian revolution swept the Chinese CP leaders along with it that they could no longer abide by Stalin’s directives. This is the simple fact about how and why the Chinese CP took power.


A similar process obtained in the Yugoslav revolution. The Yugoslav CP conquered power despite the Kremlin’s repeated efforts to change its course away from the formation of Proletarian Brigades, away from the struggle against the Michaelovitch forces supported by British imperialism, and away from all social revolutionary measures where the Communist partisans held power. As a matter of fact in Yugoslavia the Kremlin gave military aid to the bourgeois forces that were shooting at the partisans. Thus the world headquarters of Stalinism was on the opposite side of the class barricades of a Stalinist party leading a revolution.

The unique combination of contradictory processes in these revolutions has upset – not Trotskyism – but the schematic concept our critics impute to Trotskyism. They argue, for example, that the working class didn’t stand at the head of the Chinese revolution as it did in the Russian. And doesn’t this upset all of Marxism? No. The basic norms of the Marxist theory are never realized in ideal form. The Russian Revolution also appeared to violate Marxist norms when the socialist revolution took place first in the most backward country of Europe instead of the most advanced. Lenin rejected the Menshevik injunction that the October Revolution was an impermissible adventure because it violated this schema. He explained how the norm is realized through an extended process and above all by revolutionary struggle. We shall see how the Chinese revolution while masking and distorting the role of the working class, gave expression to it in the distorted form of its Stalinized party.

The Trotskyist movement never envisaged that the breakup of the world Stalinist monolith would follow some preconceived blueprint. The fact that the Yugoslav and Chinese Communist parties had to tear loose from their Stalinist moorings in order to lead socialist revolutions did more than prove that Stalinism is incompatible with revolutionary leadership. These events served to profoundly deepen the crisis of world Stalinism, a crisis that has been developing in direct proportion to the progress of the world socialist revolution.

To be sure, neither the Yugoslav nor the Chinese Communist parties ceased to be Stalinist. But they did contribute profoundly to the eventual negation of Stalinism. Trotskyists have never claimed a franchise on revolutionary theory and practice. On the contrary, all of our work is directed toward convincing the working class and its parties to take the revolutionary road. It is to be noted, however, that in order to take such a road, a Communist party is compelled to defy the Kremlin, the basic policy of Stalinism, and its own entire ideology and tradition. This is one important aspect of the contradictory nature of the process whereby Stalinism will be removed as a barrier to the socialist revolution.

THE reaction of the Kremlin itself to the Yugoslav and Chinese revolutions is the best proof of the basically anti-Stalinist character of these events. World Stalinism cannot embrace new revolutions and independent workers states. In Eastern Europe, where the capitalists were expropriated by bureaucratic and military means under the direction of the Kremlin while the independent workers revolution was brutally suppressed, the Kremlin can tolerate only regimes completely subservient to its command. As for Yugoslavia, Moscow was compelled to open a savage campaign against Titoism when the Yugoslav CP, having led a revolution to victory, refused to act like the pliant creatures of the Moscow-appointed regimes in Eastern Europe.

The intolerable contradiction introduced within Stalinism by the victory of the Chinese revolution is likewise quite evident – only on a larger scale and with higher stakes. It occurs, moreover, in a world setting favorable to deepening the revolutionary factors that are upsetting the equilibrium of the Stalinist monolith. For the last few years Peking has increasingly manifested an open break with the Kremlin on at least three basic questions of Marxist theory:

  1. It has defended important aspect of Lenin’s analysis of imperialism and the struggle against imperialist war as against Moscow’s theory of peaceful coexistence;
  2. It has likewise invoked Lenin’s teachings on the revolutionary road to power in capitalist countries as against Moscow’s open abandonment of the revolutionary class-struggle theory;
  3. It has taken issue with Moscow’s directive to Communist parties to enter coalition governments with the bourgeoisie of the former colonial countries.

These sharp differences with the Kremlin have developed despite the fact that the Mao regime is beset by bureaucratic deformations of its own and is saddled with the Stalinist theory of socialism in one country. These points in common are apparently insufficient to offset the obvious fear Peking has that the Kremlin will sacrifice the interests of the Chinese revolution in order to make a deal with Western imperialism. Such a fear is based on reality. The Chinese CP leaders knew they came to power despite the Kremlin’s readiness to sacrifice the Chinese Communist party in a deal with the US and Great Britain. Whatever their motives, the struggle the Chinese leaders are waging against Khrushchev’s policy is bound to have far-reaching effects in helping to bring about a revolutionary rearmament of the advanced workers in all countries.

In Japan, where the mass action of workers and students last June against the imperialist pact was possible because the leaders of the movement had broken with the Stalinist line of “peaceful coexistence,” the debate being waged by the Chinese CP against Moscow can only encourage the young revolutionists and reinforce the arguments they have up to now learned only from the Trotskyists.

In Cuba, the position of Peking can play a crucial role in preventing Stalinism from interposing its influence in order to halt the deepening of the socialist character of the revolution.

In England and the United States, the Trotskyists have made significant gains in the last few years in struggle with both Stalinism and Social Democracy as a result of the shattering crisis of Stalinism following Khrushchev’s revelations. The opposition of Peking to Moscow’s Stalinist line will likewise help to encourage a revolutionary reorientation of Communist workers and youth. Such a reorientation can only lead them to a fusion with Trotskyism.

PERHAPS the best test of the viability of each of the three tendencies in the working class movement has occurred right here in the United States. An examination of the reciprocal relations among the three, under the blows of the cold war witch hunt, the prolonged prosperity and political reaction, and the crisis of the American Communist party, discloses the fact that both Stalinism and Social Democracy have withered and suffered a sharp decline in influence. (See Case History of an Experiment, by Murry Weiss in the Spring 1960 issue of ISR.)

The Trotskyist movement, on the other hand, has stood the acid test of this long period of adversity, gained in forces particularly among the youth, and is today the only one of the three tendencies with the capacity and will to offer a socialist challenge to the two capitalist parties in the 1960 elections. The Social Democrats and Stalinists have responded to the difficulties of these last years by a process of increasingly dissolving themselves into the labor bureaucracy and its fringes and into the swamp of the Democratic party. They have thereby alienated the best of the new generation of radicals that has begun to appear on the American scene. If the struggle between Trotskyism, Social Democracy and Stalinism is by its very logic a struggle for the next generation of radicals in the US, Trotskyism can enter the battle with confidence of victory.

Weiss Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 29.1.2006