Trotskyism (Concepts in Social Thought)


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From bourgeois to permanent revolution

Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Trotskyism by Alex Callinicos. Trotskyism by Alex Callinicos. In the wake of the popular revolutions which have overthrown Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, Alex Callinicos reconsiders the socialist tradition founded in opposition to Stalinism by Trotsky.

Trotsky argued that Stalinism represented a betrayal of the principles of the October Revolution and sought to create a movement capable of rescuing the Marxist tradition. This book traces the various strands of Trotskyist theory and takes a different look at its analysis of the Eastern Bloc which rejects both the market and bureaucratic command economies.

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Trotsky with Hitchens and Service

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Sort order. Aug 09, John Levi rated it did not like it. The terseness exudes an impression that this is meant to be a pamphlet; yet, many ideas, sudden refutations, apologies and jargonizing were crammed into place.

Trotskyism, Class, and Feminism

Many arguments are not that convincing, especially the ones that require deft and precise polemics. The language used is not much difficult, but it seems to me that this book was created for Trotskyists rather than for casual pedestrians and their bedfellows. Despite the fact that many, like Stalin, saw Trotsky's role in the October Russian revolution as central, Trotsky says that without Lenin and the Bolshevik party the October revolution of would not have taken place. As a result, since , Trotskyism as a political theory is fully committed to a Leninist style of democratic centralist party organisation, which Trotskyists argue must not be confused with the party organisation as it later developed under Stalin.

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Trotsky had previously suggested that Lenin's method of organisation would lead to a dictatorship, but it is important to emphasise that after orthodox Trotskyists argue that the loss of democracy in the Soviet Union was caused by the failure of the revolution to successfully spread internationally and the consequent wars, isolation and imperialist intervention, not the Bolshevik style of organisation. Lenin's outlook had always been that the Russian revolution would need to stimulate a Socialist revolution in western Europe in order that this European socialist society would then come to the aid of the Russian revolution and enable Russia to advance towards socialism.

Lenin stated:. We have stressed in a good many written works, in all our public utterances, and in all our statements in the press that First, if it is given timely support by a socialist revolution in one or several advanced countries. This outlook matched precisely Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution.

From deflected permanent revolution to the law of uneven and combined development

Trotsky's Permanent Revolution had foreseen that the working class would not stop at the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution, but proceed towards a workers' state, as happened in The Polish Trotskyist Isaac Deutscher maintains that in , Lenin changed his attitude to Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution and after the October revolution it was adopted by the Bolsheviks. Trotskyism meant the idea that the Russian proletariat might win the power in advance of the Western proletariat, and that in that case it could not confine itself within the limits of a democratic dictatorship but would be compelled to undertake the initial socialist measures.

It is not surprising, then, that the April theses of Lenin were condemned as Trotskyist. In The Stalin School of Falsification , Trotsky argues that what he calls the "legend of Trotskyism" was formulated by Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev in collaboration with Stalin in , in response to the criticisms Trotsky raised of Politburo policy.

During —24, Lenin suffered a series of strokes and became increasingly incapacitated. Before his death in , Lenin, while describing Trotsky as "distinguished not only by his exceptional abilities — personally he is, to be sure, the most able man in the present Central Committee", and also maintaining that "his non-Bolshevik past should not be held against him", criticized him for "showing excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work", and also requested that Stalin be removed from his position of General Secretary, but his notes remained suppressed until In , Stalin allied with Nikolai Bukharin who then led the campaign against "Trotskyism".

In this pamphlet, Bukharin explains and embraces Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, writing: "The Russian proletariat is confronted more sharply than ever before with the problem of the international revolution The grand total of relationships which have arisen in Europe leads to this inevitable conclusion.

Thus, the permanent revolution in Russia is passing into the European proletarian revolution. Trotsky wrote that the Left Opposition grew in influence throughout the s, attempting to reform the Communist Party. But in Stalin declared "civil war" against them:.

Defeat of the European working class led to further isolation in Russia, and further suppression of the Opposition.

Trotskyism to Anachronism: The Neoconservative Revolution

Trotsky argued that the "so-called struggle against 'Trotskyism' grew out of the bureaucratic reaction against the October Revolution [of ]". He further accused Stalin of derailing the Chinese revolution, and causing the massacre of the Chinese workers:.


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Trotsky was sent into internal exile and his supporters were jailed. Victor Serge, for instance, first "spent six weeks in a cell" after a visit at midnight, then 85 days in an inner GPU cell, most of it in solitary confinement. He details the jailings of the Left Opposition. He moved from there to France, Norway, and finally to Mexico. After , the various Communist Parties throughout the world expelled Trotskyists from their ranks. Most Trotskyists defend the economic achievements of the planned economy in the Soviet Union during the s and s, despite the "misleadership" of the soviet bureaucracy, and what they claim to be the loss of democracy.

Anyone who disagreed with the party line was labeled a Trotskyist and even a fascist. In , Stalin again unleashed what Trotskyists say was a political terror against their Left Opposition and many of the remaining ' Old Bolsheviks ' those who had played key roles in the October Revolution in , in the face of increased opposition, particularly in the army.

Trotsky founded the International Left Opposition in It was meant to be an opposition group within the Comintern , but anyone who joined, or was suspected of joining, the ILO, was immediately expelled from the Comintern.

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The ILO therefore concluded that opposing Stalinism from within the Communist organizations controlled by Stalin's supporters had become impossible, so new organizations had to be formed. Trotsky said that only the Fourth International, basing itself on Lenin's theory of the vanguard party, could lead the world revolution, and that it would need to be built in opposition to both the capitalists and the Stalinists.

Trotsky argued that the defeat of the German working class and the coming to power of Hitler in was due in part to the mistakes of the Third Period policy of the Communist International and that the subsequent failure of the Communist Parties to draw the correct lessons from those defeats showed that they were no longer capable of reform, and a new international organisation of the working class must be organised.

The Transitional demand tactic had to be a key element. At the time of the founding of the Fourth International in Trotskyism was a mass political current in Vietnam , Sri Lanka and slightly later Bolivia. There was also a substantial Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the Chinese Communist movement, Chen Duxiu , amongst its number.

Wherever Stalinists gained power, they made it a priority to hunt down Trotskyists and treated them as the worst of enemies. Isolated from each other, and faced with political developments quite unlike those anticipated by Trotsky, some Trotskyist organizations decided that the Soviet Union no longer could be called a degenerated workers state and withdrew from the Fourth International.

Social or political revolution?

After Trotskyism was smashed as a mass movement in Vietnam and marginalised in a number of other countries. The International Secretariat of the Fourth International ISFI organised an international conference in , and then World Congresses in and to assess the expropriation of the capitalists in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, the threat of a Third World War, and the tasks for revolutionaries.

The Eastern European Communist-led governments which came into being after World War II without a social revolution were described by a resolution of the congress as presiding over capitalist economies. By , the Congress had concluded that they had become " deformed workers' states. Pablo's followers considered that the Communist Parties, insofar as they were placed under pressure by the real workers' movement, could escape Stalin's manipulations and follow a revolutionary orientation.

The Congress argued that Trotskyists should start to conduct systematic work inside those Communist Parties which were followed by the majority of the working class. The Congress argued that the Soviet Union took over these countries because of the military and political results of World War II, and instituted nationalized property relations only after its attempts at placating capitalism failed to protect those countries from the threat of incursion by the West.

Pablo began expelling large numbers of people who did not agree with his thesis and who did not want to dissolve their organizations within the Communist Parties. For instance, he expelled the majority of the French section and replaced its leadership. As a result, the opposition to Pablo eventually rose to the surface, with an open letter to Trotskyists of the world, by Socialist Workers Party leader James P.

The Fourth International split in into two public factions.

Trotskyism (Concepts in Social Thought) Trotskyism (Concepts in Social Thought)
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