The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The liberal media and the left try to paint President Trump as something fundamentally new and different in U.S. politics.

....In comments in India last month, Hillary Clinton picked up on her 2016 campaign remarks that workers who voted for Trump were “deplorable.” She told a meeting there that the president won votes from people in areas of the country that shouldn’t really count. She stressed that she, on the other hand, “won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.” She and those like her deeply believe that votes in wealthier areas of the country should count for more than those in areas where she derisively said workers were “looking backwards.”

The working class is the true target of liberals’ fury



In a virtually unprecedented move, FBI agents raided the office, home and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen April 9. They were directed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at the recommendation of former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel seeking to get the president impeached.

The move is further proof that Mueller’s probe, supposedly into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is in fact a frame-up operation using methods that are dangerous for the working class.

After almost a year of digging around and seeking to stick charges against people around the president to see if he can get one to turn on him, Mueller has produced nothing. The liberals and petty-bourgeois left have hailed the former top U.S. government spy, hoping he can oust Trump from office.

“Are we really in a situation where Bob Mueller is no longer investigating crimes, he’s just investigating people?” asked Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida. But Mueller’s probe, like all prosecutors and grand juries, works by targeting an individual and then searching for a crime to pin on them.

The FBI seized Cohen’s electronic devices, financial records and communications with the president. The raid was given the green light by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to investigate Trump.

“Attorney-client privilege is dead!” the president tweeted after the raid, adding afterwards, “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”

This constitutionally protected privilege flows from the Sixth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which protects one’s right to trial and “to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

David Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union — among the groups for which driving Trump out of the White House comes before everything else — defended the latest steps in the witch hunt and blow to our rights. He blessed the break-in and seizure of private documents as “pursuant to the rule of law.”

Washington’s political police 
Raids like this are part of the methods cops have used for decades to frame up workers in the frontlines of class battles. The FBI’s role is to safeguard the interests of the capitalist rulers. It has organized frame-ups of fighters in the labor movement and for Black rights, opponents of Washington’s wars and communists, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Many of the top officials of the FBI today have been exposed as part of the anti-Trump gang.

The special counsel has a broad reach, immense powers and unlimited time. Mueller isn’t accountable to anyone but himself. His “investigation” undercuts rights and protections won in the Bill of Rights. These will be increasingly important for workers as sharpening class battles deepen in years ahead and the propertied rulers seek to break working-class struggles, bust up unions and frame up those who lead them.

The raid on Cohen was justified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of a previously undercover investigation of his “personal business dealings.” But the entire debate in the bourgeois media focuses on his relation to the president.

Despite almost a year of freewheeling operation, Mueller is no closer to finding evidence that could be used to impeach Trump for collusion with Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election. But the probe just keeps going, with no end in sight.

A fever-pitch hysteria has taken hold of the liberals and the left, as they try and make an amalgam of alleged Moscow connections, tidbits from another former FBI Director, James Comey. They use the slanders and allegations in his new book about being fired by Trump, and lurid innuendoes about the president’s alleged infidelities. In fact, polls show there is growing support for Trump as employment improves and he has made some popular moves in foreign policy, like his effort to reach a deal with North Korea.

The liberal media and the left try to paint President Trump as something fundamentally new and different in U.S. politics. Writing in the New York TimesApril 6, Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state under Bill Clinton and author of the just published book Fascism: A Warning, claims Trump is opening the door to what she says is a worldwide resurgence of fascism.

In reality, the Trump administration, like all those before it, defends the interests at home and abroad of the propertied capitalist rulers.

The dangerous class 
It’s true there is a political crisis in the U.S. today ripping through the rulers’ two political parties — the Democrats and Republicans. Its roots lie in the concerns and fear of the meritocrats and liberals about the working class. That is what they saw as “different” about the Donald Trump campaign — and now, to their horror, his presidency. For them the only explanation is that the working class is becoming more racist, more anti-immigrant, more opposed to women’s rights, and has to be controlled and “taught.”

This political crisis has no equivalent anywhere else in the capitalist world.

In comments in India last month, Hillary Clinton picked up on her 2016 campaign remarks that workers who voted for Trump were “deplorable.” She told a meeting there that the president won votes from people in areas of the country that shouldn’t really count. She stressed that she, on the other hand, “won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.” She and those like her deeply believe that votes in wealthier areas of the country should count for more than those in areas where she derisively said workers were “looking backwards.”

It’s these “deplorable” workers who are involved in labor battles today in states where Trump won the most votes in 2016 — like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. They are providing a powerful example that is being watched closely by millions of workers across the country today. Through their tenacity, organization and discipline, striking teachers and school workers are demonstrating that it is possible to wage a united and effective struggle against the bosses and governments at all levels that are trying to make working people pay for the economic, political and moral crisis of capitalism.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

On the “children’s crusade for gun control”

....A steady stream of articles lauding the “children’s crusade for gun control” has filled the pages of the liberal media and the papers of the left since March 24, when hundreds of thousands joined demonstrations across the country. They were demanding a new range of tests and restrictions on gun ownership, following the brutal killing of students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Many of these commentators praise the young age of those at the actions. “Students Lead Nationwide Crusade for Gun Control,” wrote the online People’s World, which reflects the views of the Communist Party. That young people would want to take to the streets in the midst of teachers’ protests across the country and protests against the cop killings of Stephon Clark and Saheed Vassell should be of no surprise.

But whether an action advances working-class interests has nothing to do with the age of the participants. That depends on whether it strengthens the unity and self-confidence of working people and points a road forward for independent political action. Protests demanding more restrictions and regulations on our hard-won rights head in the opposite direction.

Liberals have made such calls for years and it is the political outlook of these capitalist politicians that shaped the March 24 protests.

They increasingly see workers as “deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton said in the 2016 campaign. She doubled-down on this last month in India, where she said President Donald Trump won support from workers in smaller towns in the middle of the country who were “looking backwards.” She claimed working women turned against her under pressure from their husbands and bosses.

In 2008 former President Barack Obama connected gun ownership with his broader scorn for working people. He described workers who had lost their jobs in small towns in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, saying, “It’s not surprising … they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment.”

After the killings in Florida, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, saying it’s outdated.

He took aim at a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling written by Justice Antonin Scalia that confirmed that the Second Amendment says people have the right to bear arms to defend themselves. At the same time, he also said states have the power to establish some restrictions on weapons in places like schools.

What’s important for workers today is not that individuals can get guns to fight the cops and company agents. That would be an adventure and lead to nothing but defeats for the working class.

Lessons from past working-class battles

In the 1930s the explosive growth of the labor movement led to sizable and sharp clashes with the employers and their government — in Germany, elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S. Fearing their rule was threatened, the capitalist rulers turned to rightist thugs and fascist gangs to try to attack working-class struggles and bust up the unions. This isn’t happening today.

“The sharpening of the proletariat’s struggle means the sharpening of the methods of counterattack on the part of capital,” Leon Trotsky, a leader of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, wrote in 1938. “The bourgeoisie is nowhere satisfied with the official police and army.” As the capitalist rulers turned to armed thugs to attack the workers, Trotsky said, “only armed workers’ detachments, who feel the support of tens of millions of toilers behind them, can successfully prevail against the fascist bands.”

The course outlined by Trotsky is contained in the “Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution,” which was adopted by the Socialist Workers Party.

The leadership of the Teamsters union in Minneapolis responded decisively in 1938 to an organizing drive in the city by the fascist outfit called the Silver Shirts. The goons’ leader, Roy Zachary, called for an armed raid on the union’s headquarters. The union organized a workers defense guard.

“Members of the guard were not armed by the union, since in the given circumstances that would have made them vulnerable to police frame-ups,” explained Farrell Dobbs, a leader of the union and the Socialist Workers Party, in his book Teamster Politics. “But many of them had guns of their own at home, which were used to hunt game; and those could quickly have been picked up if needed to fight off an armed attack by Silver Shirt thugs.”

The emergency mobilization of several hundred determined and disciplined members of the guard convinced the Silver Shirts to back off and leave town.

The workers defense guard grew out of intensified union and social struggles. Union leaders sought to draw into its ranks the widest layer of workers. It relied on battle-tested, disciplined cadre and leaders capable of avoiding provocation.

Today the rulers prepare for bigger struggles to come by seeking to restrict our rights to organize and defend ourselves, including limiting workers access to guns. That’s why workers today need to oppose government measures that restrict workers’ rights, like their right to bear arms. 


Saturday, March 17, 2018

With careful preparation, discipline, unity, through the unions, reaching out for support 

Get in a car, take a plane, join workers in struggle!

Teachers and other school workers are locked in bitter battles today with state governments in Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona and elsewhere. The Militant urges workers, youth and the labor movement across the country to get in a car or a plane and join these fights! Build solidarity with them everywhere! This is the road to organize and strengthen the labor movement, cut across the divisions the bosses and their government try to impose on us and open up space for workers to make gains.

Workers across the country looked at West Virginia. Teachers, bus drivers, cooks and other school workers there went on a nine-day strike — a strike the state government said was illegal — and won. They built a broad social movement of working people and our allies. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Inspired by the victory and the way it was won — with careful preparation, discipline, unity, through the unions, reaching out for support — teachers and other workers elsewhere are stepping up their own fights for better wages, health care, pensions and dignity.

How did the workers in West Virginia win? Standing on the shoulders of the tradition of class struggle waged by union coal miners, they organized to win broad support from parents, students, farmers and other workers. At the initiative of the teachers, food distribution and day care for students were organized. They relied on their own strength, not on promises from capitalist politicians.

From coast to coast and around the globe, the bosses and their governments have been making working people pay for the capitalist economic crisis. They lock us out, break our unions, get their Democratic and Republican brethren to pass laws that smother us in red tape. Too often, union officials tell us we shouldn’t fight, we can’t win, and to rely on the politicians. Our unions get smaller and weaker — a little over 6 percent of workers in private industry are organized today.

Small towns have been devastated by factory closings. Drug addiction is ravaging sections of the working class from rural areas to big cities. Seeking to divide us and keep wages down, the rulers in Washington arrest and deport workers without “proper” papers.

Millions of workers are looking for answers in the face of the social and moral crisis of capitalism. They are beginning to learn through our own experience that there are two opposing classes — the capitalist rulers and the working people, who have nothing but their hands and their millions-strong numbers.

Look to the lessons of past class battles. We strongly recommend you read, study and emulate the example of the revolutionary-minded Teamsters union in the Midwest in the 1930s recorded in the four-volume Teamsters series by Farrell Dobbs, one of the central leaders of these battles and of the Socialist Workers Party. Get them from party branches listed on page 8, or

Build on the victory in West Virginia! Organize the unorganized! Solidarity with the school workers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi and Arizona! An injury to one is an injury to all. And a victory for one is a victory for all. 


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Chiang Kai-shek, Robert M. La Follette, and József Pogány: Two-class parties and the Stalinist falsification of Bolshevism

The Third International after Lenin by Leon Trotsky (1928) can be purchased here.

The below excerpt is from the section "7. On the Reactionary Idea of "Two-Class Workers' and Peasants' Parties" for the Orient."

….The Opposition, as is known, insisted on the withdrawal of the party from the Kuomintang:

"The question arises," says Bukharin, "why? Is it because the leaders of the Kuomintang are vacillating? And what about the Kuomintang masses, are they mere 'cattle'? Since when is the attitude to a mass organization determined by what takes place at the 'high' summit!" [12]

The very possibility of such an argument seems impossible in a Revolutionary party. Bukharin asks, "And what about the Kuomintang masses, are they mere cattle?" Of course they are cattle. The masses of any bourgeois party are always cattle, although in different degrees. But for us, the masses are not cattle, are they? No, that is precisely why we are forbidden to drive them into the arms of the bourgeoisie, camouflaging the latter under the label of a workers' and peasants' party. That is precisely why we are forbidden to subordinate the proletarian party to a bourgeois party, but on the contrary, must at every step, oppose the former to the latter. The "high" summit of the Kuomintang of whom Bukharin speaks so ironically, as of something secondary, accidental, and temporary is in reality the soul of the Kuomintang, its social essence. Of course, the bourgeoisie constitutes only the "summit" in the party as well as in society. But this summit is powerful in its capital, knowledge, and connections: it can always fall back on the imperialists for support, and what is most important, it can always resort to the actual political and military power which is intimately fused with the leadership in the Kuomintang itself. It is precisely this summit that wrote laws against strikes, throttled the uprisings of the peasants, shoved the communists into a dark corner, and, at best, allowed them to be only one-third of the party, exacted an oath from them that petty-bourgeois Sun Yat-senism takes precedence over Marxism. The rank and file were picked and harnessed by this summit, serving it, like Moscow, as a "Left" support, just as the generals, compradores, and imperialists served it as a Right support. To consider the Kuomintang not as a bourgeois party, but as a neutral arena of struggle for the masses, to play with words about nine-tenths of the Left rank and file in order to mask the question as to who is the real master, meant to add to the strength and power of the summit, to assist the latter to convert ever broader masses into "cattle," and, under conditions most favorable to it to prepare the Shanghai coup d'etat. Basing themselves on the reactionary idea of the two-class party, Stalin and Bukharin imagined that the communists, together with the "Lefts," would secure a majority in the Kuomintang and thereby power in the country, for, in China, power is in the hands of the Kuomintang. In other words, they imagined that by means of ordinary elections at Kuomintang Congresses power would pass from the hands of the bourgeoisie to the proletariat. Can one conceive of a more touching and idealistic idolization of "party democracy" ... in a bourgeois part? For indeed, the army, the bureaucracy, the press, the capital are all in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Precisely because of this and this alone it stands at the helm of the ruling party. The bourgeois "summit" tolerates or tolerated "nine-tenths" of the Lefts (and Lefts of this sort), only in so far as they did not venture against the army, the bureaucracy, the press, and against capital. By these powerful means the bourgeois summit kept in subjection not only the so-called nine-tenths of the "Left" party members, but also the masses as a whole. In this the theory of the bloc of classes, the theory that the Kuomintang is a workers' and peasants' party, provides the best possible assistance for the bourgeoisie. When the bourgeoisie later comes into hostile conflict with the masses and shoots them down, in this clash between the two real forces, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, not even the bleating of the celebrated nine-tenths is heard. The pitiful democratic fiction evaporates without a trace in face of the bloody reality of the class struggle.

Such is the genuine and only possible political mechanism of the "two-class workers' and peasants' parties for the Orient." There is no other and there will be none.


Although the idea of the two-class parties is motivated on national oppression, which allegedly abrogates Marx's class doctrine, we have already heard about "workers' and peasants' " mongrels in Japan, where there is no national oppression at all. But that isn't all, the matter is not limited merely to the Orient. The "two-class" idea seeks to attain universality. In this domain, the most grotesque features were assumed by the above-mentioned Communist Party of America in its effort to support the presidential candidacy of the bourgeois, "anti-trust" Senator LaFollette, so as to yoke the American farmers by this means to the chariot of the social revolution. Pepper [József Pogány], the theoretician of this maneuver, one of those who ruined the Hungarian revolution because he overlooked the Hungarian peasantry, made a great effort (by way of compensation, no doubt) to ruin the Communist Party of America by dissolving it among the farmers. Pepper's theory was that the super-profit of American capitalism converts the American proletariat into a world labor aristocracy, while the agrarian crisis ruins the farmers and drives them onto the path of social revolution. According to Pepper's conception, a party of a few thousand members, consisting chiefly of immigrants, had to fuse with the farmers through the medium of a bourgeois party and by thus founding a "two-class" party, insure the socialist revolution in the face of the passivity or neutrality of the proletariat corrupted by super-profits. This insane idea found supporters and half-supporters among the upper leadership of the Comintern. For several weeks the issue swayed in the balance until finally a concession was made to the ABC of Marxism (the comment behind the scenes was: Trotskyist prejudices). It was necessary to lasso the American Communist Party in order to tear it away from the LaFollette party which died even before its founder.

Everything invented by modern revisionism for the Orient is carried over later to the West. If Pepper on one side of the Atlantic Ocean tried to spur history by means of a two-class party then the latest dispatches in the press inform us that the Kuomintang experience finds its imitators in Italy where, apparently, an attempt is being made to foist on our party the monstrous slogan of a "republican assembly on the basis [?!] of workers' and peasants' committees." In this slogan the spirit of Chiang Kai-shek embraces the spirit of Hilferding. Will we really come to that?


In conclusion there remains for us only to recall that the idea of a workers' and peasants' party sweeps from the history of Bolshevism the entire struggle against the Populists (Narodniks), without which there would have been no Bolshevik party. What was the significance of this historical struggle? In 1909, Lenin wrote the following about the Social-Revolutionists:

"The fundamental idea of their program was not at all that 'an alliance of the forces' of the proletariat and the peasantry is necessary, but that there is no class abyss between the former and the latter and that there is no need to draw a line of class demarcation beween them, and that the social democratic idea of the petty bourgeois nature of the peasantry that distinguishes it from the proletariat is fundamentally false." [13]

In other words, the two-class workers' and peasants' party is the central idea of the Russian Narodniks. Only in the struggle against this idea could the party of the proletarian vanguard in peasant Russia develop.

Lenin persistently and untiringly repeated in the epoch of the 1905 revolution that

"Our attitude towards the peasantry must be distrustful, we must organize separately from it, be ready for a struggle against it, to the extent that the peasantry comes forward as a reactionary or anti-proletarian force." [14]

In 1906 Lenin wrote:

"Our last advice: proletarians and semi-proletarians of city and country, organize yourselves separately! Place no trust in any small proprietors, even the petty ones, even those who 'toil' … We support the peasant movement to the end, but we must remember that it is a movement of another class, not the one that can or will accomplish the socialist revolution." [15]

This idea reappears in hundreds of Lenin's major and minor works. In 1908, he explained:

"The alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry must in no case be interpreted to mean a fusion of the different classes or parties of the proletariat and the peasantry. Not only fusion, but even any sort of lasting concord would be fatal for the socialist party of the working class and weaken the revolutionary democratic struggle." [16]

Could one condemn the very idea of a workers' and peasants' party more harshly, more ruthlessly, and more devastatingly?

Stalin, on the other hand, teaches that

"The revolutionary anti-imperialist bloc … must, though not always [!] necessarily [!], assume the form of a single workers' and peasants' party, bound formally [?] by a single platform." [17]

Lenin taught us that an alliance between workers and peasants must in no case and never lead to merger of the parties. But Stalin makes only one concession to Lenin: although, according to Stalin, the bloc of classes must assume "the form of a single party," a workers' and peasants' party like the Kuomintang – is not always obligatory. We should thank him for at least this concession.

Lenin put this question in the same irreconcilable spirit during the epoch of the October Revolution. In generalizing the experience of the three Russian revolutions, Lenin, beginning with 1918, did not miss a single opportunity to repeat that there are two decisive forces in a society where capitalist relations predominate'the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

"If the peasant does not follow the workers, he marches behind the bourgeoisie. There is and there can be no middle course." [18]

Yet a "workers" and peasants' party" is precisely an attempt to create a middle course.

Had the vanguard of the Russian proletariat failed to oppose itself to the peasantry, had it failed to wage a ruthless struggle against the all-devouring petty-bourgeois amorphousness of the latter, it would inevitably have dissolved itself among the petty-bourgeois elements through the medium of the Social Revolutionary Party or some other "two-class party" which, in turn, would inevitably have subjected the vanguard to bourgeois leadership. In order to arrive at a revolutionary alliance with the peasantry – this does not come gratuitously – it is first of all necessary to separate the proletarian vanguard, and thereby the working class as a whole, from the petty bourgeois masses. This can be achieved only by training the proletarian party in the spirit of unshakable class irreconcilability.

The younger the proletariat, the fresher and more direct its "blood-ties" with the peasantry, the greater the proportion of the peasantry to the population as a whole, the greater becomes the importance of the struggle against any form of "two-class" political alchemy. In the West the idea of a workers' and peasants' party is simply ridiculous. In the East it is fatal. In China, India, and Japan this idea is mortally hostile not only to the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution but also to the most elementary independence of the proletarian vanguard. The workers' and peasants' party can only serve as a base, a screen, and a springboard for the bourgeoisie.

It is fatal that in this question, fundamental for the entire East, modern revisionism only repeats the errors of old social democratic opportunism of pre-revolutionary days. Most of the leaders of European social democracy considered the struggle of our party against SRs to be mistaken and insistently advocated the fusion of the two parties, holding that for the Russian "East" a two-class workers' and peasants' party was exactly in order. Had we heeded their counsel, we should never have achieved either the alliance of the workers and the peasants or the dictatorship of the proletariat. The "two-class" workers' and peasants' party of the SRs became, and could not help becoming in our country, the agency of the imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e., it tried unsuccessfully to fulfill the same historic role which was successfully played in China by the Kuomintang in a different and "peculiar" Chinese way, thanks to the revisionists of Bolshevism. Without a relentless condemnation of the very idea of workers' and peasants' parties for the East, there is not and there cannot be a program of the Comintern.

Soviet Thermidor and the French Revolution

[Links are my own. JR]

Excerpts from The Stalin School of Falsification (1937) section Two Speeches at the Session of
the Central Control Commission. (1926).

The book can be purchased here.

Excerpt from first session:

….Without an international revolution, socialism cannot be built. Without correct policies, calculated on the international revolution and not on supporting Purcell, you will not only fail to build socialism, but you will doom the Soviet power itself. It is urgent that the proletariat understand this. The fault of the Opposition, our crime, lies in the fact that we refuse to lull ourselves, and "optimistically" to shut our eyes to the dangers confronting our revolution.

The real danger is from the Right, not from the Right wing of our party – the Right wing of our party serves only as a transmitting mechanism – the real, basic danger comes from the side of the bourgeois classes who are raising their heads, whose ideologist is Ustrialov, that wise and far-seeing bourgeois to whom Lenin used to listen and against whom he warned. You all know that Ustrialov is not supporting us; he supports Stalin. In the autumn of 1926, Ustrialov wrote: "What we need now is a new maneuver, a new impulse, to put it figuratively, a Neo-Nep. From this standpoint, it must be recognized that a number of actual concessions recently made by the party to the Opposition cannot fail to inspire serious apprehension." Further: "All hail to the Political Bureau if the declaration of repentance on the part of the leaders of the Opposition is the result of their one-sided and unconditional capitulation. But woe to it, if it is the fruit of a compromise with them. If the latter is the case, the struggle must inevitably flare up again ... The victorious Central Executive Committee must acquire an inner immunity against the decomposing poison of the Opposition. It must draw all the necessary conclusions from the defeat of the Opposition ... Otherwise, it will be a calamity for our country ... It is thus [continues Ustrialov] that the cause must be approached by the Russian intelligentsia within the country, by the business elements and the specialist circles, the ideologists of evolution and not of revolution."Ustrialov draws the conclusion: "That is why we are now ... definitely in favor of Stalin." And what is your reply to that? You seek to remove the Opposition from the Central Committee for the time being only from the CC Ustrialov is a bourgeois who is acquainted with the history of the great French bourgeoisie, indeed, very well acquainted with it. And this spokesman for the moods of the new bourgeoisie understands that only the backsliding of the Bolsheviks themselves can prepare the power for the new bourgeoisie least painfully. Supporting the Stalinist CC, Ustrialov writes that it is necessary to safeguard (what?) against the decomposing poison of the Opposition. In consequence he also is in agreement with you that the Opposition is – a decomposing poison; that it is necessary to destroy this poison, otherwise "it will be a calamity for our country." That is what Ustrialov says. That is why he is not only against me, but also why he supports Stalin. Reflect on this. You are dealing here not with ignorant people, the unconscious or the duped who think that the Opposition carries on its activity with English money – no, Ustrialov is a very class-conscious man, he knows what he is saying and whither he is going. Why then does he support you? What is he defending together with you?

I was recently informed that comrade Soltz, in the course of a conversation with one of the comrades who had signed the declaration of the Opposition, drew an analogy with the French Revolution. Now I am of the opinion that this method is a correct one – I believe that a factual exposition and a Marxian interpretation of the Great French Revolution, especially of its last period, should be now reprinted for the benefit of the party. Comrade Soltz is present here, he knows better than I do what he said, and if I quote him erroneously, he will correct me. "What does the Declaration of 83 mean?" said Soltz. "What does it lead to? You know the history of the French Revolution, and to what this led: to arrests and to the guillotine." Comrade Vorobiev, with whom comrade Soltz was talking, asked him, "So then, is it your intention to guillotine us?" To which Soltz replied by going into a lengthy explanation,

"In your opinion, wasn't Robespierre sorry for Danton when sending him to the guillotine? And then Robespierre had to go himself.

"Do you think he was not sorry? Sure he was, but he had to do it ..."

That was the substance of the conversation. I repeat that we must at this time at all costs refresh our knowledge of the Great French Revolution – it is absolutely indispensable. We might begin even with Kropotkin, who was not a Marxist but who understood better than Jaures the national and class subsoil of the Revolution.

During the Great French Revolution, many were guillotined. We, too, had many people brought before the firing squad. But in the Great French Revolution there were two great chapters, of which one went like this [points upward] and the other like that [points downward]. We must understand this. When the chapter headed like this – upwards – the French Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of that time, guillotined the Royalists and the Girondists. We, too, have had a similar great chapter when we, the Oppositionists, together with you, shot the White Guards and exiled the Girondists. And then there began another chapter in France, when the French Ustrialovs and semi-Ustrialovs – the Thermidorians and the Bonapartists from among the Right wing Jacobins – began exiling and shooting the Left Jacobins – the Bolsheviks of that time. I should like comrade Soltz to think his analogy through to the end and, first of all, to give himself an answer to the following question: In accordance with which chapter is Soltz preparing to have us shot? [Commotion in the hall.] This is no jesting matter; revolution is a serious business. None of us is scared by firing squads. We are all old revolutionists. But the thing is to know whom to shoot, and in accordance with which chapter. When we did the shooting we were firm in our knowledge as to the chapter. But, comrade Soltz, do you clearly understand in accordance with which chapter you are now preparing to shoot? I fear, comrade Soltz, that you are about to shoot us in accordance with the Ustrialov, i.e., Thermidorian chapter. [54]

When the term "Thermidorian" is used among us, it is taken for a term of abuse. It is thought that the Thermidorians were arrant counter-revolutionists, conscious supporters of the monarchic rule, and so on. Nothing of the kind! The Thermidorians were Jacobins, with this difference, that they had moved to the Right. The Jacobin organization – the then Bolsheviks – under the pressure of class contradictions, shortly arrived at the conviction that it was necessary to destroy the Robespierre group. Do you think that on the very next day after the 9th of Thermidor they said to themselves: We have now transferred power into the hands of the bourgeoisie? Nothing of the kind! Refer to all the newspapers of that time. They said: We have destroyed a handful of people who disrupted peace in the party, but now, after their destruction, the revolution will triumph completely. If comrade Soltz has any doubts about it.

SOLTZ: You are practically repeating my own words.

TROTSKY: So much the better. If we are agreed on this, comrade Soltz, then it will help us considerably to decide the question as to what chapter you are preparing to open by the physical annihilation of the Opposition. One thing must be firmly understood: Unless we undertake to rectify the class line of the party, as it should be done, the line indicated by Ustrialov will have to be pursued inevitably in side the party, i.e., the line of a ruthless struggle against the Opposition.

I shall read you what was said by Brival, who was a Right Jacobin, one of the Thermidorians, when he reported about the session of the Convention during which Robespierre and the other Jacobins were handed over to the Revolutionary Tribunal: "Intriguers and counter-revolutionists covering themselves with the toga of patriotism sought the destruction of liberty; the Convention decreed to place them under arrest. These representatives were: Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, Lebas and Robespierre the Younger. The chairman asked what my opinion was. I replied: Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain both in the Legislative Assembly as well as in the Convention, those voted for the arrest. I did even more than that, for I am one of those who proposed this measure. Moreover, as secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention." That is how the report was made by a Soltz or a Janson of that time. Robespierre and his associates – those were the counter-revolutionists. "Those who had always voted in accordance with the spirit of the principles of the Mountain" signified in the language of that time, "those who had always been Bolsheviks." Brival considered himself an old Bolshevik. "As secretary, I made haste to sign and to transmit this decree of the Convention." Today, too, there are secretaries who make haste "to sign and to transmit." Today, too, there are such secretaries.

Listen further to the Manifesto of the Convention to France, to the country and to the people, after the annihilation of Robespierre, Saint-Just and the others:

"Citizens, amid the brilliant victories over the foreign enemies, the Republic is threatened by a new danger ... The work of the Convention will prove barren, and the courage of our armies will lose all meaning, if the French citizens vacillate in their choice between the Fatherland and a few isolated individuals ... Obey the call of the Fatherland, do not join the ranks of the evil-minded aristocrats and the enemies of the people and you will once again save the Fatherland."

They reckoned that in the path of the triumph of the revolution stood the interests of "a few isolated individuals." They did not understand that these "isolated individuals" reflected the nethermost revolutionary elemental forces of that time. These "few individuals" reflected the elemental forces that were against the "Neo-Nep" and against Bonapartism. The Thermidorians thought that the issue involved a change of individuals and not a class shift. "Obey the call of the Fatherland, do not join the ranks of the evil-minded aristocrats." The friends of Robespierre – these were the aristocrats. – And did we not hear today the very same cry "Aristocrat!" from the lips of Janson addressed to me.

I could quote you any number of articles wherein the revolutionary Jacobins are referred to as the agents of the Chamberlain of that time, who was Pitt. The analogy is truly startling! In Chamberlain you have the modern pocket edition of Pitt. Take Aulard's history [of the French Revolution]. "The enemies were not content with killing Robespierre and his friends; they calumniated them, picturing them in the eyes of France as Royalists and as men who had sold themselves to foreigners." That is the literal wording of the passage. And today, does not Pravda's article entitled The Path of the Opposition swerve into a similar path? Whoever is familiar with the last leading article of Pravda cannot possibly miss the odor. The odor of the "second chapter" assails one's nostrils. The odor of this second chapter is Ustrialovism, which is already penetrating through the official institutions of our party, and which is disarming the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat at a time when the party regime stifles everyone who struggles against Thermidor. In the party the mass worker has been stifled. The rank and file worker is silent.

You desire a new "purge" in the name of silence. Such is the party regime. Recall the history of the Jacobin clubs. They had two chapters of purges there. When the wave went like this [upwards], the moderates were ejected. When the line began to curve downwards, the revolutionary Jacobins began to be ejected. What did this do to the Jacobin clubs? An anonymous regime of terror was instituted, for silence was made compulsory, 100% votes and abstention from all criticism were demanded, thinking in accordance with orders from above was made obligatory, and men were compelled to unlearn to think that the party is a living, independent organism and not a self-sufficing machine of power. The then Central Control Commission – there were likewise institutions at that time which fulfilled your functions – together with the revolution as a whole, went through two chapters. In the second chapter it disaccustomed the members of the party from thinking, and compelled them to accept blindly everything from above. The Jacobin clubs, the crucibles of revolution, became the nurseries of future functionaries of Napoleon. We should learn from the French Revolution. But is it really necessary to repeat it? [Shouts.]

Excerpt from second session:

….Wherein does our revolution differ from the French?

In the first place, with respect to the economic and class foundation of the respective epochs. In France, the leading role was played by the lower sections of the urban petty bourgeoisie. In our country – by the proletariat. It was owing to this alone that the bourgeois revolution could grow over into a socialist revolution in our country, and develop as such – with great obstacles and dangers remaining as yet. This is the first point of difference.

The second point of difference: France was surrounded by feudal countries – more backward in the economic and cultural sense than France herself. We, on the other hand, are surrounded by capitalist countries more advanced than we are with respect to technology and industry, and with a more powerful and cultured proletariat. We may expect revolutions in these countries in a comparatively near future. In consequence, the international position of our revolution, despite the fact that imperialism is mortally hostile to us, is in a wide historical sense far more favorable to us than was the case in France toward the end of the 18th century.

Finally, the third point of difference. We live in the epoch of imperialism, in the epoch of the greatest international and internal upheavals – and this creates the great rising revolutionary curve upon which our policies are based. But it is impermissible to think that this "curve" will carry us through under any and all conditions. This is false! He understands nothing who believes that we can build socialism even in the event capitalism is able to crush the proletariat for several decades to come. This is not optimism but the stupidity of national-reformism. We can be victorious only as an integral section of the world revolution. We must hold on until the world revolution, even if the latter is deferred for a number of years. In this respect, the trend of our policy is of decisive importance. By means of a correct revolutionary course, we shall intrench ourselves for a number of years, we shall intrench the Communist International, move ahead along the socialist path and achieve our being taken in tow by the great historical tugboat of the international revolution.

Our present party course is the main danger. It stifles the revolutionary power of resistance. What does your course consist of? You put your stake on the strong peasant and not on the agricultural laborer and the poor peasant. You steer toward the bureaucrat and the functionary and not the masses. You place far too much faith in the apparatus. In the apparatus you have tremendous internal support for each other, and mutual insurance for yourselves – that is why Ordjonikidze is unable to succeed even in reducing the staffs. Independence from the masses creates the system of mutual concealment and shielding. And all this is considered as the main prop of power. In the party, reliance is now placed on the secretary and not on the rank and file member. You rely now on Purcell and not on the rank and file proletarian. You rely not on the revolutionary miner but on Purcell who has betrayed the miners. In China, you steer a course toward Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei and not toward the Shanghai proletarian, not the coolie who drags cannon on his shoulder, and not the insurgent peasant.

You have placed on the order of the day the question of expelling us from the Central Committee. Assuredly, each one of us will carry out his work regardless of his position, as a rank and file party member. But this will not solve the question; you will have to draw further conclusions. Life itself will compel you to make these conclusions. You had better pause instead and change your course.

Left Jew-hatred of Wilda Rodríguez

....scapegoating of Jews poisons the fight for independence and is a deadly danger to the working class. The problem with Washington is not the anti-Semitic charge that it's run by a secret Jewish conspiracy, but capitalist rule and colonial domination. This is what's behind the outrageous neglect and negligence by the colonial rulers in the wake of Hurricane Maria....

San Juan paper under fire for promoting
anti-Semitic article


The owners and editors of El Nuevo Día — the largest circulation daily in Puerto Rico — came under fire for printing an anti-Semitic article by columnist Wilda Rodríguez Jan. 8 titled, "What Does the 'Jew' Want with the Colony?"

Rodríguez claims there is a "secret structure that rules the United States" and "a parallel government organized by the forces of wealth and violence (the war machine) from Wall Street."

"Congress in the end will do whatever 'the Jew' wants, as the prototype of the real power is crudely called," she says.

Jews "don't see life like we do," Rodríguez wrote. And their main concern is not collecting Puerto Rico's $70 billion debt to bondholders, but to make sure that "the world of debtors understands that Wall Street can't be manipulated" — as if the bondholders and Wall Street were all Jewish.

The editors responded to the criticism by running a "disclaimer" of sorts next to the article, which "asks for forgiveness from the Jewish community in Puerto Rico and the rest of our readers who feel offended." Despite the clear anti-Semitic content of the article, they claimed that they don't promote content "that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic."

They also posted a comment from Rodríguez, saying that "the mere use of the word Jew" was not "intended to cause offense" but was "a contribution to the public discussion." Public discussion of what, she doesn't say.

Rodríguez is well-known as a supporter of independence for Puerto Rico.

But her scapegoating of Jews poisons the fight for independence and is a deadly danger to the working class. The problem with Washington is not the anti-Semitic charge that it's run by a secret Jewish conspiracy, but capitalist rule and colonial domination. This is what's behind the outrageous neglect and negligence by the colonial rulers in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

On Jan. 12 El Nuevo Día printed several letters denouncing the column. "It's pure anti-Semitism," wrote Diana Berezdivin. "Using the Jews as scapegoats once again, this time for the problems of Puerto Rico."

The column "is an insult to all our people, including Puerto Ricans," wrote Lina Goldberg.

El Nuevo Día also ran a guest column by Monica Bauer from the Anti-Defamation League in California that takes up the editor's supposed "disclaimer." What the editors published "leave a lot to be desired," Bauer writes, "since publishing an article that accuses the Jewish people of controlling governments in detriment of the future of Puerto Rico is practically the definition of anti-Semitism."

"This isn't the first time that in the face of an economic crisis Jews are accused of controlling the power and money," she adds.

It's no accident that Rodríguez repackages Jew-hatred in the midst of the deepest economic and social crisis there since U.S. imperialism wrested control of Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 and made it a U.S. colony.

The rulers push Jew-hatred when the crisis of their capitalist system deepens and working people begin to look for ways to fight for their own interests, opening the door to a revolutionary course of action to take power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers.

More and more working people in Puerto Rico today are coming to the conclusion that Puerto Rico is a colony of Washington and that U.S. corporations and bondholders are bleeding the island dry. There is widespread discussion and debate on what to do about it.

Jew-hatred attempts to divert workers into believing that the problem is a conspiracy of evil Jews who control the banks, media and government, to take workers' eyes off the real enemy — the system of capitalist exploitation and imperialism. The capitalist rulers are a social class, not a religious cabal.

To swallow the Jew-hatred poison would be death for the fight for independent working-class political action and independence in Puerto Rico.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bosses give Trump plaudits as communists knock on doors in working-class neighborhoods in big cities and small towns

US rulers give high marks to Trump
administration policies


The economic uptick in the U.S. and Washington's moves to defend U.S. imperialist interests around the world are consolidating support among the propertied rulers for the course of the Donald Trump White House. This has not stopped liberals and others in the middle-class left, who never reconciled themselves to Trump's victory, from intensifying their demands that he be driven from office.

The boss press is running articles of praise. "For Businesses, Donald Trump's First Year Is a Net Success," the Wall Street Journal said Jan. 16.

"What the critics don't acknowledge is that Trump and his national security team have actually scored some real foreign policy wins," CNN said Dec. 27.

The bosses give Trump plaudits for cutting taxes on the propertied owners. Factory orders are increasing as bosses predict further capitalist growth off the backs of working people. He has slashed the number of federal regulations and red tape on businesses and banks, and says he will cut the size of the Washington bureaucracy.

His administration is working to secure a bipartisan agreement on measures that will assist the bosses in exploitation of immigrant labor, and, at the same time, scapegoat foreign-born workers.

The economic carnage and deepening competition the working class has confronted for several years continues to bear down. The number of workers who've given up looking for work and the number employed part time who can't find full-time work stands in the millions. Current capitalist expansion has only begun to affect this. And more workers are looking for a way to respond to what has been done to them.

Trump pushes rulers' foreign policy

The administration is advancing the capitalist rulers' interests in the Middle East, bolstering Washington's military and political weight against its competitors — Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Ankara.
It has carried through the war against Islamic State begun by former President Barack Obama, but gave U.S. commanders greater freedom in carrying out operations and expanded weapons supplies to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which drove Islamic State from its capital, Raqqa, in October.

Washington announced Jan. 14 it would set up a 30,000-strong Border Security Force based on the cadres of SDF. They will be deployed along the border with Turkey and along the Euphrates River, the line dividing U.S.-backed SDF forces from Syrian government and Hezbollah troops, backed by Moscow and Tehran.

Washington also announced the deployment of 1,000 more combat "advisers" to join the 14,000 troops it has stationed in Afghanistan, while maintaining over 5,000 troops in Syria and Iraq, according to Pentagon figures. Both of these decisions aim to stem the rising influence of Tehran in the region. And unlike Obama, Trump imposed no timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The consequences of these ongoing conflicts continue to devastate working people. Over half the Syrian population has been forced to flee their homes since 2011, many in recent months. The Syrian regime's bloody war against rebel forces and civilians in Idlib province and around Damascus continues.

The administration has advanced Washington's imperialist interests in pushing through the U.N. Security Council's ever-stiffer sanctions against North Korea, which hit working people the hardest. At the same time, as the governments of North and South Korea have begun discussing common participation in upcoming winter Olympic games, Washington keeps open prospects for negotiations with Pyongyang to press it to end its nuclear and intercontinental missile programs.

Washington remains far and away the most powerful imperialist power in the world, but its strength has declined relative to Beijing and Moscow. Trump combines pressure on these regimes with efforts to build relations that can open doors to advance the political and economic interests of the U.S. rulers.

The Trump administration has pressed European NATO members to take more financial and military responsibility. Washington announced Dec. 22 it would supply weapons to the Ukrainian government in its fight with Moscow-backed forces operating in the east of the country.

Liberals continue cry to oust president

Liberals, middle-class radicals and some Republicans seeking to build support for efforts to drive Trump from office seized Democrats' allegations that Trump used language they claim was racist and derogatory to African nations in a private meeting at the White House Jan. 11.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow said the problem was the millions of workers that voted for him are "part of his racism."

In reality, because of victories won by the proletarian mass movement that overthrew Jim Crow and workers' decades of common experience working and living with immigrant workers, there is less racism and anti-immigrant chauvinism among working people than ever before. This is a source of strength as workers seek ways to stand up to the bosses' attacks on jobs, wages, conditions and to cop assaults.

Michael Wolff's recently published book on the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, an instant best-seller, includes the author's acknowledgement that he couldn't verify anything he alleges in the book and that he provides only what he calls "notional truth."

While the self-righteous calls of these middle-class layers to get rid of Trump grow shriller, their actual prospects of driving him from office are diminishing.

At the center of their witch hunt is the open-ended special counsel investigation, headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. It has failed so far to come up with evidence of collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Moscow that could be used to impeach the president. In December Mueller revealed he had fired FBI agent Peter Strzok from the investigation after finding out Strzok had called for the FBI to get an "insurance policy" against Trump winning the election.

What Next?

How long the economic uptick will last, and how far it will grow, have yet to be seen. Also unknown is when the balloons in the propertied rulers' financial speculations from Wall Street stocks to Bitcoin futures will burst.

The capitalist rulers have no solutions to the long-term crisis of production and trade, rooted in declining profit rates, other than continuing to make workers pay. And today's depression conditions are driving more workers to look for ways to stand up to assaults by employers and their government.

The uptick gives us more confidence. Recognizing this, Walmart bosses announced they were raising workers' minimum wage.

Socialist Workers Party members — whose party-building efforts are built on knocking on doors in working-class neighborhoods in big cities and small towns — find interest in discussing how workers can organize to defend ourselves and build a party that can lead the fight to overturn capitalist rule.

A look at the upsurge in working-class discontent and protest in Iran indicates this is true elsewhere in the world.