This abrupt and gross revision of perspective reflected the growing social weight of the bureaucracy and its awakening consciousness in regards to its own specific social interests, which it saw as bound up with the steady development of the national economy. Combined, these theories constituted a perspective for the liquidation of the cadre historically assembled on the basis of the revolutionary perspective elaborated and fought for by Leon Trotsky in founding the Fourth International. Trotsky explained that, if it was indeed the case that socialism could be achieved in Russia regardless of what happened to the socialist revolution elsewhere in the world, the Soviet Union would turn from a revolutionary internationalist policy to a purely defensist one. For some reason or other Zinoviev, however, does not do this. The proposition advanced by Bukharin and Stalin in 1924 that socialism could be achieved in the Soviet Union based upon its own national reserves and regardless of the fate of the socialist revolution internationally represented a fundamental revision of the perspective that had guided the Soviet leadership and the Communist International under Lenin. Trotsky fought for a faster tempo of industrial growth in order to counter this pressure, while at the same time he rejected the conception of an economic autarky. According to the permanent revolution perspective, the path to socialism was necessarily international, whereas in the framework of socialism in one country, the top priority became defense in the form of national security. Those like Stalin who denounced Trotsky in 1924 for failing to believe that Russia could build “socialism in one country” had between 1905 and 1917 condemned him as a utopian for asserting that the Russian proletariat could come to power before the workers of Western Europe. In 1929, Trotsky wrote The Permanent Revolution, in which he explicitly counterposes Stalin's theory of "socialism in one country" with his internationalist perspective of … Eight decades later, the implications of the struggle between the theory of permanent revolution and socialism in one country are plain to see. It opposed the thesis advanced by the Pabloites that Stalinism was capable of self-reform and even of playing a revolutionary role, as well as their related conception that bourgeois nationalism in the colonial countries was capable of leading the struggle against imperialism. The number of homeless children is greater today than in the worst days of the Civil War or the aftermath of World War II. For this the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are necessary. Permanent revolution was a theory that began from an international revolutionary perspective; socialism in one country was a utopian and reformist prescription for a … Without such a possibility, the building of Socialism is building without prospects, building without being sure that Socialism will be built. Does not this smack of national narrow-mindedness? “The importance of this dogma which played a predominant role in the bitter controversy with Leon Trotsky...cannot be exaggerated. This basic fact alone invests the idea of a world communist party with a supreme reality.”. Can this task be accomplished, can the final victory of socialism in one country be attained, without the joint efforts of the proletariat of several advanced countries? It is hardly necessary to prove that Lenin’s clear and definite statement needs no further comment. “In our epoch,” he wrote, “which is the epoch of imperialism, i.e., of world economy and world politics under the hegemony of finance capital, not a single communist party can establish its program by proceeding solely or mainly from conditions and tendencies of developments in its own country. In the regional elections, despite ruthless weeding out of Opposition supporters by Stalin’s appointed secretaries, 36 percent of the vote still went to the Opposition. Behind the Marxist verbiage, the bureaucracy had long seen socialism not as a program for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, but rather as a means of developing a national economy that was the base of their own privileges. The conception of “building socialism in a single country” originated not in Russia, but in Germany, where it was propagated by the right-wing Bavarian social democrat Georg von Vollmar. In a bald attempt to cover up the catastrophic consequences of the opportunism of the Comintern in Shanghai and Wuhan, Stalin insisted that the Chinese revolution was still in its ascendancy and sanctioned an adventurist uprising in Canton that ended in yet another massacre. But the considerations brought out above are sufficient, let me hope, to reveal the full significance of the struggle over principles that was carried on in recent years, and is being carried on right now in the shape of two contrasting theories: socialism in one country vs. the permanent revolution. While time does not allow a detailed examination of the implications of the policy of “socialism in one country” for the sections of the Communist International, I think it is necessary to refer, even if only in a summary fashion, to the betrayal of the Chinese revolution of 1925-1927. The imperialist war (of 1914-1918) was one of the expressions of this fact. In respect of the technique of production, socialist society must represent a stage higher than capitalism. Sometimes they contain mistakes. However, from 1917 to 1923 Lenin's standpoint on this matter underwent a complete reversal. The result was the massacre of some 20,000 communists and workers by this army in Shanghai on April 12, 1927. Permanent revolution is the strategy of a revolutionary class pursuing its own interests independently and without compromise or alliance with opposing sections of society. Through a series of purges, expulsions and political coups, the Moscow bureaucracy obtained a staff that was trained to see the defense of the Soviet state, rather than the world socialist revolution, as its strategic axis. The permanent character of this revolution lay in the fact that the working class, having taken power, could not limit itself to democratic tasks, but would be compelled to carry out measures of a socialist character. 33. The Stalin leadership then insisted that the massacre had only confirmed its line and that Chiang only represented the bourgeoisie, not the “nine-tenths” of the Guomindang made up of workers and peasants, whose legitimate leader was proclaimed Wang Ching-wei, who headed the “left” Guomindang government in Wuhan, to which the CP was again ordered to subordinate itself. Here is what it says about the victory of Socialism in one country: The existence of two diametrically opposed social systems gives rise to the constant menace of capitalist blockade, of other forms of economic pressure, of armed intervention, of restoration. In the course of the split in 1985, it was Cliff Slaughter who championed the national autonomy of the British section, rejecting the necessity of subordinating the factional struggle within the WRP to the clarification and building of the world party. This policy marked the completion of Stalinism’s betrayal of the October Revolution. Zinoviev, of course, had the opportunity of speaking against this document at the Congress. This fundamental shift in the strategic axis of the party’s program was accompanied by a wholesale replacement of the old leaderships within both the Comintern and the national sections. We also believe that the view held by Kamenev and Zinoviev expresses lack of faith in the intrinsic forces of our working class and of the peasant masses who follow its lead. Yet, Stalinism and its nationalist outlook were unquestionably related to a wider international political tendency, and its ideology was rooted in previous forms of revisionism. What does Lenin mean by the phrase “having … organized its own Socialist production,” which I have emphasized? ‘In considering the question of socialism in one country vs. permanent revolution we are dealing with theoretical foundations of the Trotskyist movement.’ ‘Slavery intensifies and thus deforms relationships of social inequality, whereas permanent revolution disfigures equality of social conditions.’ The response of the WRP leadership, which at the time still enjoyed immense authority within the IFCI by dint of its previous struggles for Trotskyism, was not a political defense of its policies, but a threat of an immediate organizational split. The debacle suffered in Germany as a result of the German Communist Party’s capitulation during the revolutionary crisis of 1923 had further dashed hopes for early relief from the world revolution and left Soviet workers susceptible to the promise of a national solution. Can it remain the mighty center of attraction for the workers of all countries that it undoubtedly is now, if it is incapable of achieving victory over the capitalist elements in its economy, the victory of Socialist construction? He pointed out that the development of a world capitalist economy not only posed the conquest of power by the working class in the backward countries, it also made the construction of socialism within national boundaries unrealizable in the advanced capitalist countries. Real Alternative to Socialžsm in One Country? You see that Zinoviev is in no better position in regard to his “internationalism” than in regard to his “hundred -per-cent Leninism” on the question of building Socialism in one country. Zinoviev and Kamenev “replied” to this accusation by silence, because they had no “card to beat it.”. Source: I. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishers, 1934), pp. He prefers to choose another path, that of attacking the resolution of the Fourteenth Party Conference from the rear, while keeping silent about this resolution and refraining from any open criticism of the resolution. Socialism in one country began from the standpoint of socialism as a means of national development. Capitulation to the capitalist elements in our economy-that is where the inherent logic of Zinoviev’s line of argument leads us. In November 1982, in the summation of his “Critique of Gerry Healy’s ‘Studies in Dialectical Materialism,’” Comrade David North reviewed the political relations established by the WRP leadership in the Middle East over the previous period, writing, “Marxist defense of national liberation movements and the struggle against imperialism has been interpreted in an opportunist fashion of uncritical support of various bourgeois nationalist regimes.”, “For all intents and purposes,” he continued, “the theory of permanent revolution has been treated as inapplicable to present circumstances.”. We, however, with the majority of the members of the Central Committee, think that we can build Socialism, are building it, and will complete it, notwithstanding our technical backwardness and in spite of it. Writing in 1930, Trotsky described this “second” Chinese revolution as the “greatest event of modern history after the 1917 revolution in Russia.” The rising tide of revolutionary struggle by the Chinese working class and peasantry and the rapid growth and political authority of the Chinese Communist Party after its founding in 1920 provided the Soviet Union with the most favorable opportunity for breaking its isolation and encirclement. It pleases Zinoviev to treat this skepticism as internationalism. Was this accidental? by Eva Dragostrs ... would eventually lead second, a socialist, revolution. Another aspect of Stalinist theory that Grant and Woods pick apart in this text is that of ‘Socialism in One Country’. Here is what he said about the victory of Socialism in one country even before the October Revolution in August 1915: “Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. The underlying perspective that guided the WRP leadership was that of anti-internationalism. Against this conception, Trotsky established that the struggle against imperialism, which enjoyed myriad ties to the native bourgeoisie, only intensified the class struggle. The USSR under Stalin had chosen a different route. That is, the colonial countries lack the economic/industrial base, while in the advanced capitalist country, the capitalist economy has already grown beyond the confines of the national boundaries. It shared much in common, however, with the official labor movements of the capitalist countries, viewing the national state and the expansion of its economy and industry—not the international revolutionary movement of the working class—as the source of progress and reform. Lenin was in a double mind about permanent revolution. Second, even though he accepted the likelihood of socialist revolution in a single country, Lenin supposedly never intended to suggest that a socialist society could be constructed in a single country. We are living [says Lenin] not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist states for a long time is unthinkable. What is the root of this mistake? He means that the proletariat of the victorious country, having seized power, can and must organize Socialist production. Zinoviev evidently thinks that this will be the best way of achieving his purpose. The essential political principles that flowed from this perspective—proletarian internationalism and the political independence of the working class—were rejected by the Pabloites in their adaptation to Stalinism and bourgeois nationalism. The Stalinist leadership’s struggle to impose the ideology of “socialism in one country” inevitably took the form of a vicious struggle against “Trotskyism” and in particular the theory of permanent revolution. Let us refer to this resolution. The Permanent Revolution, as elaborated by Leon Trotsky, is the idea that expounds how a Socialist Revolution can occur in a backward country (with the Proletariat assuming the duties that would have been performed had the Bourgeoisie seized control much earlier). This lecture was delivered by Bill Van Auken at the Socialist Equality Party/WSWS summer school held August 14 to August 20, 2005 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Trotsky’s defense of permanent revolution and the fundamental conception that world economy and world politics constitute the only objective foundation for a revolutionary strategy represents the theoretical cornerstone of the internationalist perspective of the International Committee of the Fourth International today. Please try again later. This also holds entirely for the party that wields the state power within the boundaries of the USSR. Perhaps Zinoviev thinks that this resolution is erroneous. To build Socialism without the possibility of completing it; to build knowing that it cannot be completed-such are the absurdities in which Zinoviev has involved himself. They're not one size fits all. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1923 except Russia, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. The struggle waged by Trotsky against the theory of socialism in one country provided a profound analysis of the causes of the reaction against October and its significance for the international working class, in the process elaborating a comprehensive program for the building of the world party of socialist revolution. Does it not follow from this that such a victory is impossible? The starkest manifestation is a population implosion—in the last 10 years the population of Russia alone has dropped by 9.5 million, despite the many thousands of Russians returning from former Soviet republics. First he came to the conclusion that socialism could be built in an isolated Russia, although it would remain ‘incomplete’ in the absence of the world revolution. And as these tasks cannot be solved in one country alone, especially not in a backward country, this would be the beginning of the world revolution. The essential theoretical issues that arose in the struggle over these two opposed perspectives were not only fought out by Trotsky against the Stalinist bureaucracy in the latter half of the 1920s, but have reemerged as the subject of repeated struggles within the Fourth International itself. In the first edition of the book Osnovy Leninizma (Foundations of Leninism, 1924), Stalin was still a follower of Lenin's idea that revolution in one country is insufficient. Counterposed to Trotsky’s ideas of permanent revolution was “Socialism in one country,” an attitude of national self-sufficiency and self-centredness that became Stalin’s watchword in 1924. “As a matter of fact,” [says Lenin] the power of state over all large-scale means of production, the power of state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc. Consequently, the only guarantee of the final victory of Socialism, i.e., the guarantee against restoration, is a victorious Socialist revolution in a number of countries … Leninism teaches that the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relationships, is possible only on an international scale … But it does not follow from this that it is impossible to build a complete Socialist society in a backward country like Russia, without the “state aid” (Trotsky) of countries more developed technically and economically. It was Stalin’s position that China was not yet ripe for a socialist revolution, that it lacked the “sufficient minimum” of development for socialist construction. “The struggle against imperialism, precisely because of its economic and military power, demands a powerful exertion of forces from the very depth of the Chinese people,” he wrote. In his autobiography, My Life, Trotsky explained the political psychology of what he described as “the out-and-out philistine, ignorant, and simply stupid baiting of the theory of permanent revolution”: “Gossiping over a bottle of wine or returning from the ballet,” he wrote, “one smug official would say to another: ‘He can think of nothing but permanent revolution.’ The accusations of unsociability, of individualism, of aristocratism, were closely connected with this particular mood. One or the other must triumph in the end. Permanent Revolution vs. Socialism in One Country Trotsky believed in ‘Permanent Revolution’ and continuing the NEP. But since when have we come to treat departure from Leninism on a cardinal problem of Leninism as internationalism? Let us turn to his pamphlet On Cooperation, written in 1923. Thus, the New York Times published a special report by its ineffable Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty in June 1931, stating, “The essential feature of ‘Stalinism,’ which sharply defines its advance and difference from Leninism...is that it frankly aims at the successful establishment of socialism in one country without waiting for world revolution. In his 1930 introduction to the German edition of The Permanent Revolution, Trotsky wrote as follows: “Marxism takes its point of departure from world economy, not as a sum of national parts but as a mighty and independent reality which has been created by the international division of labor and the world market, and which in our epoch imperiously dominates the national markets. Having repudiated the permanent revolution and resurrected the Menshevik theory of the “two-stage” revolution in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the Stalin leadership insisted that the Chinese working class had to subordinate its struggle to the bourgeois nationalist Guomindang led by Chiang Kai-shek. The inevitable logic of this shift was the transformation of the sections of the Communist International into border guards—instruments of a Soviet foreign policy aimed at securing the USSR by diplomatic means that would avoid imperialist attack while preserving the global status quo. Does it require the existence of the Fourth International? Stalin only started to dip his toes in the practicalities of Socialism in One Country after Lenin’s retirement and death. 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