Category Archives: Trotskyism 101

Why Socialism? Didn’t the Collapse of the USSR “Prove” that Socialism Can’t Work?

Why socialism? Didn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union prove that “socialism doesn’t work”?

Lots of people ask us “why socialism”? Haven’t the idea and the ideals of socialism been so corrupted by the crimes of Stalin and Mao and by the sterility and oppression of workers lives under the Stalinist or Maoist or the Juche-inspired North Korean regime as to be utterly discredited and useless as a practical and desirable political programme for any future society?

We’ve discussed this in bits and pieces on Twitter with a handful of individuals and groups of people but have never written anything that explains why we are for socialism and why we are so opposed to capitalism. This essay will attempt to explain where we’re coming from in a more comprehensive way.

We do not want to re-create the horrors of Stalinist Russia or Mao’s China!

First of all we want to make it completely clear that we do not worship or seek to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist or Maoist or Kim Il-Sung-ist versions of “socialism” at all. This is not only because history shows that those regimes have been led by extremely repressive bureaucratic dictatorships but also because they have proven to lead not to the development of socialism but to a return to capitalism and the brutal capitalist exploitation of the working class. Stalinism and Maoism brutalize the working class into submission to the will of the bureaucracy and betray the workers by ultimately leading them inexorably backwards to the status of capitalist wage-slaves, which is the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

There is also no way that we can deny that – to say the least – the development of post-revolution socialist societies have not “gone according to plan” in the classical Marxist sense. However: it is clear to us that there are pretty obvious and compelling reasons why the Stalinist and Maoist-led revolutionary governments developed in the way that they did; reasons that we trace back to the incredibly oppressive regimes that they emerged from and from the fact that they had no ready-made template of how a socialist society must be built. The Stalinist and Maoist workers states were the first socialist governments that came into being, and they came into being under very difficult circumstances, emerging as they did from the horrible political and economic societies that preceded them. This does not absolve them of their crimes against the working class but it does place their development back into the historical context which pro-capitalist historians like to censor completely from their analysis of the development of the socialist movement. The reason why the pro-capitalist historians do this is obvious: their intention is not to simply tell the truth about how and why these regimes developed in the way that they did; their intention is to convince workers that socialism is a bad idea and that anyone who proposes a socialist alternative to the capitalist system must want to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist gulags or the Maoist disaster of the Cultural Revolution. The capitalists want their historians to teach you that you live in “the best of all possible worlds” and that if workers try to overthrow the capitalist system you will wind up inevitably worse off than you are now. Basically they want you to believe that the human race has reached the highest possible stage of development possible and that the horrors of human misery we see all over the capitalist world are regrettable but, sadly, unavoidable. This is true: the horrors you see human beings suffering are unavoidable – so long as we stick with the capitalist system. This is the best they can do. We know – and the history of even the bureaucratically deformed workers states created by Mao and Stalin prove to us that socialism does work and it can be made to work way better once it is freed from the straitjacket of repressive and stifling Stalinist/Maoist leadership through a socialist workers political revolution.

Why did the revolutions in Russia and China turn out the way they did?

None of the revolutionary Marxists prior to 1917 expected that a revolutionary socialist workers state would emerge first in the most backward countries; they all believed that they would emerge first in the most advanced capitalist states like Great Britain, Germany or the USA. Instead, the chain of oppressive capitalist regimes broke at its weakest links – Russia and China. This now surprises no one in retrospect, but in 1917 it was quite a shock that the first successful workers revolution occurred not in a modern proletarian capitalist state with long traditions of relatively democratic rule but in Russia, of all places: a hideously backward country with absolutely no history of democratic rule, where the economy was about 80% peasant-based agriculture that functioned at the technical level of the 18th century. If it was possible for the revolutionary Marxists of the time to have been able to select a nation in which to attempt to create the first revolutionary socialist workers state, no one – and we mean absolutely no one! – would have selected Tsarist Russia as their first choice or even as one of their top ten choices. But that is what happened; and if we are to be honest in our analysis of any revolution we must analyze its development as it actually happened and not as we wish it had happened. This requires a lot of specialized study of original historical documents and periodicals that were produced by the leading revolutionaries and their political parties rather than the typically superficial survey of anti-communist “histories” written by pro-capitalist historians which you get if you study these revolutionary movements in pro-capitalist universities. Written history is not politically neutral at all; every historian of the socialist movement (including ourselves) has their own political bias for or against the ideals of the revolutionary socialist movement and the revolutions that were led by revolutionary socialist leaders and their parties. As workers you must decide if you think that it is better for 5% of the world’s population to own all the wealth and run the planet or if it would be better for the future of the world to be determined democratically by the vast majority of the world’s population: you, the workers. There is no tenable position to take in some imaginary middle ground between these two options.

We do not believe that there is any divine metaphysical force directing human destiny; but it is difficult not to get the feeling when studying the history of the Russian Revolution that in 1917 fate dealt the revolutionary socialist movement an extremely tough hand to play when it arranged that the most optimal conditions for the first socialist workers revolution in history would occur, of all places, in the ruins of Tsarist Russia. In our opinion it is proof of the incredible bravery and daring of what stands to this day as the greatest revolutionary socialist party that has yet existed – the Bolshevik Party, led by one of the most honest and brilliant men in human history, Lenin – that they dared to make the attempt to build socialism under what almost all historians agree were the most adverse conditions imaginable. That the Bolsheviks managed to succeed in so many ways despite having made some very serious and costly mistakes – especially in terms of human lives lost – is an enduring testimony to their determination to succeed in building socialism at any cost and to prove that firm foundations for a socialist society could be laid down even under the most adverse conditions. Lenin’s Bolsheviks achieved great successes at the cost of tremendous self-sacrifice among the Bolsheviks and their supporters: thousands of young and idealistic communist workers were slaughtered by the counterrevolutionary Tsarist armies that attempted to restore the monarchy after the revolution. On top of that, the birth pangs of this life-or-death struggle between the remnants of the overthrown Tsarist regime and the peasants and workers government led by the Bolsheviks led to the deaths of several million people. Just as in the American and French revolutions, millions of revolutionary workers and peasants were killed in the fighting to bring a new type of government into existence. And as in the American and French revolutions, the new Bolshevik revolutionary government made some serious errors that added to the human cost; there is no denying this fact. So if in spite of this we still honor and defend the Russian Revolution to this day it is not out of ignorance or because we deny that millions of human beings suffered and died perhaps needlessly due to the inevitable difficulties and struggles that always occur in every revolution – whether it is a bourgeois capitalist revolution like the American and French revolutions or a communist-led one like the Bolshevik revolution – what we must do – and what we as Trotskyists have been doing since the founding of our movement in the late 1920s – is to make a cold, hard, pro-working-class analysis of the reality of what was and was not achieved and what was and was not avoidable during this heroic attempt of the Bolsheviks to create a completely new, modern, democratic socialist workers government under extremely difficult conditions. We study the history of the development of the USSR in all its many-sided aspects both good and bad and draw our honest conclusions from there, regardless of whether or not it “makes the Bolsheviks look bad”. Only through hard work and truthful analysis made always with the historical interests of the working class in mind can we create an intelligent revolutionary socialist programme to create a much better development of human civilization than is possible under the present capitalist system. That is our one and only goal.

Trotskyists defended and still defend the gains of the Russian, Chinese and all the other socialist revolutions; we did not and do not defend everything done by Stalin, Mao, their ideological heirs or their respective repressive regimes.

In spite of the oppressive nature and pro-capitalist betrayals of the Maoist “capitalist roaders” in the so-called “Communist Party” of China, these numbers prove that planned socialist economies can work quite well compared to capitalist economies.

So what are our conclusions? First of all as Trotskyists we know as well as any of Stalin’s many victims what life was like under Stalinism. Members of Trotsky’s Left Opposition were among the first to stand up and vehemently oppose and then to be brutally crushed by the Stalinist bureaucratic apparatus; we have no illusions in respect to the true, monstrous nature of the Stalin regime. The development of Stalinist ideology has at its very foundations the abandonment of the fundamental revolutionary Marxist principle of adherence to revolutionary internationalism. The Stalinists, after having proven conclusively that they were incapable of leading the revolutionary Communist International (“Comintern”) which they inherited, to any successes (due to their undemocratic, bureaucratic schematism which they attempted with massive failure to apply in Germany, China and Spain) concluded, erroneously, that since the workers in other countries were incapable of overthrowing their respective capitalist states, they should abandon the Marxist/Leninist programme of revolutionary internationalism entirely. Instead, the Stalinists decided that the task ahead for the USSR was not to fight for workers revolutions worldwide but to retreat inside the borders of the USSR and to build “socialism in one country” – Russia. They set about to degrade the role of the Comintern from being a powerful engine of world-wide workers revolution to that of forcibly subordinating the communist parties all over the world to defend the right of the USSR to exist in its own limited political and economic sphere independent of the capitalist world. This thoroughly counterrevolutionary about-face led to a series of moves being taken by the Stalinists which ultimately led to the complete dismantling of the Comintern as a “peace offering” to the capitalist world. The Stalinists abandoned that prospect in favor of feathering their own nests and making “peace” with the capitalist world. They sought peace with the Nazis, and when that, too failed, the Stalinists sought to make peace with the “democratic West”: Communist parties around the world subordinated themselves to the “democratic” or “progressive” bourgeoisies of their respective capitalist nation-states and sought to become a nationalistic, reformist political parties just a shade to the left of the parties of the Second International. The Stalinists, in a manner very similar to that of the Second Internationalist political parties who abandoned Marxism to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in WWI, ordered the communist parties of the world to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in the global war to re-divide the world amongst the competing capitalist nation-states in WWII. After the war ended this series of betrayals of the Stalinists led ultimately to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude of the late-Stalinist regimes under Gorbachev (a parallel development can be seen in China under Mao with his disgusting rapprochement with the Nixon regime even as US bombs were raining down on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The Maoists, who were nothing more than a Chinese version of the Stalinists have followed a similar path, with Mao first drinking toasts to the health of Richard Nixon and US imperialism to his cretinous follower Deng Xiaoping’s declaration that “to be rich is glorious”, which is the motto of today’s thoroughly reactionary and increasingly pro-capitalist Chinese Communist Party. The “Juche Ideal”, promoted by the Stalinists of the DPRK, is just a North Korean version of “building socialism in one country”, only made even more utopian and unattainable due to the tiny size and political and economic isolation of the DPRK from the rest of the world.

What “failed” in the USSR was not the revolutionary socialism of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky but its degenerated, bureaucratized and ultimately counterrevolutionary antipode: Stalinism.

Our analysis of the development and degeneration of the Russian Revolution – from its promising revolutionary Marxist beginnings under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky to its slow and brutal destruction first under Stalin and then under his ideological heirs all the way to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR without so much as a shot being fired by the working class in its defense – is that what we saw with the collapse of the USSR was the complete and total failure – not of socialism – but of Stalinism, which revealed itself to be utterly counterrevolutionary in the final analysis – precisely as Trotsky had analyzed it way back in the 1930s.

The very last thing we intend to do is to follow the paths laid out by Stalin, Mao or any of their epigones: we seek to learn all of the hard-fought and won lessons of all of these revolutions and to incorporate all of the best elements of them into our political program to bring modern socialist workers democracies into being throughout the world that are far more democratic than any bourgeois democracy could ever be. We repudiate and condemn the disgusting show trials conducted by the Stalinists in which innocent people were forced to “confess” to monstrous crimes and were then either executed or sent to a Siberian exile just as brutal as that suffered by the revolutionary workers under the Tsar’s regime. We completely oppose and denounce any attempt to reproduce today the hideous and anti-Marxist Stalinist and Maoist police-state bureaucracies as they existed in the USSR and in China under Mao, for example. We have seen absolute proof of the fundamentally reactionary nature of Stalinist and Maoist political ideology: the Stalinist and Maoist political roads lead, ultimately, back to capitalism.

What about Cuba, Vietnam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea)?

All of the regimes leading most of the “communist” states in the world: Castroist Cuba, Maoist China, Stalinist Vietnam and (to a lesser extent so far) the Kim Il Sung-ist DPRK– are essentially Stalinist regimes in which the leading “Communist Parties” are thoroughly nationalist and reactionary and are moving the country away from the ideals of socialism and towards the restoration of capitalism. This is a monstrous betrayal of the workers of those countries and a betrayal of the workers of the entire world. Still, we defend the gains of these workers socialist revolutions; and in any war between the capitalist, imperialist powers and these bureaucratically deformed workers states we will defend the workers states and intransigently oppose the imperialist capitalist powers – including the greatest enemy of the US working class, the US capitalist class and their imperialist government. We call on the workers of Cuba, China, Vietnam and the DPRK to begin organizing revolutionary Trotskyist parties so that they can prepare to lead a political revolution that overthrows the Stalinist/Maoist betrayers and places the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat in power. We call on them to simultaneously defend what is left of the socialist economic foundations of those countries and to honor the heroic, revolutionary socialist roots of their respective revolutions. If Stalinism is not overthrown and replaced by a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat then capitalism will be eventually restored in every one of these countries by the counterrevolutionary and corrupt Stalinist/Maoist communist party bureaucrats; it is just a matter of time before they consummate their betrayals of the workers.

North Korea presents a somewhat different case: it alone in the world continues to fight to defend the socialist property forms created as a result of the Korean workers socialist revolution and has also refused to allow any major incursion of capitalism into the DPRK (though even there the leadership has allowed the capitalists of South Korea to make their first tentative inroads towards capitalist development). Only the murderous belligerence of the US Government, which seeks to place the DPRK on the capitalist road a la China and Vietnam, keeps the North Korean Stalinists from consummating a Gorbachevite betrayal of the workers of the DPRK. By abandoning revolutionary Marxist/Leninist internationalism in favor of the nationalist “Juche Ideals” of Kim Il Sung, the bureaucrats of the DPRK are clearly, if only semi-consciously, laying the groundwork for eventual capitalist restoration in the DPRK.

The capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and has become the primary obstacle to the future progress of the human race.

We believe that the capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and can now only lead the world through an endless series of boom-and-bust cycles punctuated by small and large wars, culminating most likely in another global conflagration: a nuclear world war. Preventing the capitalist system’s wanton destruction of hundreds of millions of workers’ lives and the global environment is impossible under a capitalist system that is based on competing capitalist nation-states. So long as the capitalist system exists there will continue to be racism, environmental destruction, poverty, starvation, unemployment, religious bigotry, the oppression of women, discrimination against national minorities and war. Only the organization of the entire world into co-operative socialist workers states can begin to unite the workers of the entire world in the global efforts that are absolutely necessary if we are to stop the destruction of the lives of our working-class brothers and sisters all over the world and the continued destruction of the planet’s environmental treasures. Only under a rationally planned global socialist economic system can we undertake the enormously expensive necessary steps to reverse the ravages our planet has suffered under the destructive anarchy of capitalist exploitation of the world’s natural resources.

The capitalists care about one thing and one thing only: money. Human beings are worth nothing to them; in their money-mad minds the natural resources of our planet exist simply to enable them to get even more money. They pursue the acquisition of wealth with a vicious, pathological persistence that places their own selfish personal interests above that of the entire population of the world and even above what is necessary to maintain the continued existence of human beings on this planet. We are not exaggerating one bit when we say: “Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live”.

Fortunately we do not have to invent an entirely new political philosophy to find our way forward in this critically important juncture of the development of human civilization; the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky will serve us well as the basis of our own modern revolutionary socialist programme. We base our party on our firm belief that all workers all over the world are our sisters and brothers; we want to unite all workers to work together internationally to make life easier for human beings to live and thrive while we simultaneously protect our shared planet, its environment and all our fellow creatures who live on it. All the capitalists are promising us today is that our lives are going to get harder and harder; there is literally no future worth living for the working class under the capitalist system.

The main problem with capitalism is that it is fundamentally anarchic and purely profit-driven: there is no way under capitalism to develop a rational plan for the protection and restoration of the global environment, for example, because it is more profitable for the capitalists to invest in projects that exploit natural resources by destroying the environment than it is to develop them while simultaneously protecting the environment. Only after the insane supremacy of the profit motive is overthrown once and for all can we even begin to undertake scientific studies to determine how bad the damage has been which the capitalists have done to our planet: their pathological love for money over all else drives them to poison the scientific wells with bogus scientific studies that make science-based inquiry practically impossible. We have seen this with their creation of the global-warming-denialist movement. The human race can not move forward an inch until we rid ourselves of these noxious, murderous capitalist pests who subordinate the interests of the entire planet to their own personal lust for more and more money!

How would life under socialism be better for the workers?

A socialist world would make possible for the first time the ability of the human race to seize control of human destiny by overthrowing the lust for profits and replacing it with a rationally planned economic system in which all production is subordinated to the needs of the entire human race as well as the environment which sustains us. Under socialism we would be able to do something the capitalist world has never been able to do and which it is impossible to do under capitalism: to not just merely reduce but to eliminate the scourges of starvation, homelessness and disease that are crippling the creative potential of the entire human race. In socialist countries they have always been able to begin to end homelessness on the very first day after the overthrow of capitalism simply by making it illegal to deny people the right to housing. They did this by immediately placing homeless people in unoccupied apartments, houses and hotel rooms! That is impossible under capitalism, where housing is not a right but a privilege granted (or denied) to workers at the whim of the capitalist landlords and bankers. In the “democratic” USA, we have the “right to the pursuit of happiness” – but we do not have the right to actually achieve it by guaranteeing to everyone access to all the things that enable a person to be happy, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexuality or ability to pay… “little things” like jobs, food, clothing, shelter and health care! Under socialism all those things that are necessary to create human happiness will be guaranteed to all.

We can free the working people from the debasing need to endlessly pursue money for basic survival and to guarantee all the necessities of life to each and every human being on this planet, so that every human being on Earth can enjoy their lives to the fullest, not just the wealthiest 10%. Under capitalism, workers are forced to endlessly chase after dollar bills, like a horde of desperate idiots. The constant struggle for basic human needs which workers are faced to suffer through is an enormous waste of human creative potential. Instead of “pursuing happiness” we must pursue the money for food, clothing, shelter and medical care, competing like animals against all the other workers for jobs while the capitalist class sits there in luxury, laughing at us all the way to the bank. Under socialism we can put an end to the struggle for survival for the first time for the entire human race through a rationally planned economy.

What would rational planning be? For example: a socialist workers government would guarantee all able-bodied workers a job so they could contribute to the building of a prosperous society for everyone. If, for some reason you were laid off, you would receive 100% of the pay you received while you were working, so your standard of living would not suffer. Since housing and health care would be guaranteed as a fundamental right, the loss of your job would not mean the loss of health care for you and your family; nor would it mean that you would be facing eviction from your home! This is impossible to do under the capitalist system! These goals are not utopian, they are eminently reasonable and realizable with the technology and the productive capacity we have at hand today.

Capitalism IS the problem!

The only thing stopping us from achieving these goals is the capitalist system that will not and can not end the scourges of unemployment, homelessness, starvation and disease because – it is not “profitable” for the capitalists to do so! Every day we continue to allow the numerically tiny, greed-maddened capitalist class to dominate our lives is another day in which thousands of workers will be thrown out of their jobs for no fault of their own; it is another day in which thousands of children will suffer hunger and chronic illness and die of starvation and preventable disease; it is another day where tens of thousands of our sisters and brothers will die for lack of basic medical services; it is another day in which millions of our children will not have the opportunity to attend a school, see a doctor, or get anything to eat at all. As workers of the world we have it in our power right now to put an end to all this needless suffering endemic to the capitalist system!

What can we as workers do to put an end to the misery we suffer under capitalism and start fighting for socialism?

We can put an end to it only by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties dedicated to the overthrowing of the capitalist system and to replacing it with egalitarian democratic socialist workers governments. Every day we wait brings us one day closer to environmental catastrophe and very likely it brings us one day closer to the next global world war. We must snap ourselves out of the dull-minded, passive stupor we’ve had drilled into our minds by the capitalist entertainment and infotainment propaganda that has convinced too many of us that the capitalist world is “the best of all possible worlds”! If we want our children to live better, more fulfilling lives we must fight for that future, because it will not be given to us by a capitalist class that seeks only to figure out how they can put more of our hard-earned money into their bank accounts! The working class makes up the vast majority of the world’s population and has the right to determine how and by whom this planet will be governed. Why do we allow the top 5% of the world’s population to run the planet and to seize more than half of the world’s wealth? Workers of the world, it is time to wake up and unite to fight for your rights and to shatter the chains that bind us to a system that robs us blind, destroys the planet we live on and promises our children a future of wars over water, land and natural resources! The revolution will not happen on the Internet; it must be brought into existence by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties to fight to bring a much better future into existence. It is time to shake off your passivity and join in this work before it is too late, for the sake of your own and your children’s and grand-children’s futures! We can’t do it for you or without you!

Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live!”

IWPCHI

Advertisements

Workers: Stop Wasting Your Time Trying to Convince Rich People that Socialism is a Good Idea

We are always running across anti-communist diatribes on Twitter and throughout the bourgeois press in their “comments” sections. It seems as if there are thousands of people who spend a large part of their lives constantly denigrating the very idea of socialism and trying to make the fundamental assertion that “socialism has been tried; it didn’t work; it never has and never can work” etc., etc. ad nauseam. Some of these “people” are paid by the capitalists to denigrate socialist ideals wherever and whenever workers say something positive about socialism; they may even be working for the US or some other capitalist government. They could also be a Twitter-bot – a computer program that spams its Twitter “followers” with anti-socialist memes. They do exist and there are more than a few of them, apparently. But a lot of them don’t fit into that “paid anti-communist advertisement” category.

This presents a simple question: who are these people and why do they hate socialism so much? And as usual, by using the analytical tools of dialectical materialist philosophy, we can cut straight to the heart of this question without much difficulty.

When we run across one of these actual human anti-communist folks in the course of the day (usually on Twitter), we try to engage them in conversation. One of the first questions we ask them is: “are you a worker or are you a capitalist (or person of wealth)?” We do that because once you determine the class background of the typical “hater of Marxism/Leninism/Trotskyism” you will almost always find out that they are in fact rich folks – or the son or daughter of rich folks – who stand to lose a lot in the event that a socialist revolution should take place in their respective countries. And we enjoy “baiting” them with this simple and straightforward question and then watching them squirm when they are faced with the choice of either lying or telling the truth about where they are coming from.

Not surprisingly, many of these people flat-out refuse to answer the question of “what is your class background” when we put it to them. They pretend that they refuse to answer the question on privacy grounds, or some other curious excuse. That is because by openly stating the fact that they are wealthy and therefore are naturally opposed to a philosophy dedicated to the radical redistribution of wealth – their wealth! – they would expose themselves to be the terminally self-interested cretins that they usually are. And it is true: all of their working-class Twitter followers would see their conservatism in a brand new light once they understood that it was a rich capitalist – or the trust fund baby of a capitalist – who is always out there on Twitter/Facebook/newspaper comments sections crapping on socialism. Of course the rich hate socialism! They have every right to hate socialism, and we don’t blame them at all for hating it.

The fact of the matter is that the socialist movement has little to offer the capitalists and their sons, daughters and their myriads of paid and/or bribed boot-licking apologists. If a workers revolution was to take place anywhere in the capitalist world, all of the capitalist private property of the big capitalists in that country – that is, their manufacturing, distribution, mining, refining and banking operations for example – would be immediately placed in the possession of the working class and gradually incorporated into a rationally-planned socialist economic system. The capitalists would not be reimbursed for their losses at all. They would lose everything and they know it (although since under socialism housing would be a right we would not take all of their mansions and vacation homes from them so long as they behaved themselves – they could keep one of each – the others – like Mar-A-Lago or Trump Tower for instance – would be used to house the homeless or elderly). They don’t give a damn that by nationalizing all that capitalist private property the standard of living for a third or more of the population would rise significantly, saving the lives of tens of thousands of workers and poor who die every year due to the poverty that is forced upon them by the capitalist system. The rich don’t give a rat’s ass about how the poor workers live – or if we live at all: “that’s not our problem” they tell us endlessly. Yes, we accept that the poverty endemic to the capitalist system is indeed “our” (that is, the workers’) “problem” and that it is the responsibility of the organized revolutionary socialist working class to solve “our problems” ourselves – no one else can or will do it for us – and we fully understand that “our problems” – the vast majority of which are endemic to the capitalist mode of production – can only be “solved” once and for all by expropriating the capitalist private property of the top 10% of the population, so that the “bottom 90%” can enjoy their lives to the fullest.

So the next time you see or hear someone heaping abuse on the ideas of socialism, like “socialized medicine”, “welfare payments to the poor”, anti-fascism, higher minimum wages, immigrant and refugee rights, unemployment insurance, the “ridiculously high cost of union labor” or socialism in general as a viable alternative to capitalism, ask yourself: “is this a worker speaking, or is it a capitalist?” If it’s a capitalist, you can put their yammering in the box marked “pro-capitalist bullshit” and stop wasting your time trying to convince them they are wrong.

— IWPCHI

“Speaking Truth To Power”: Why It Sucks as a Political Program

In this essay we will attempt to explain why the working class needs to have its own, independent, revolutionary socialist workers party, by comparing what we would have if we had our own workers party as opposed to what we have if we just “speak truth to power”.

We don’t like to “talk down” to people.  We ourselves are not so “high up” that we could “talk down” to people even if we wanted to!  But we have to face the reality that the US working class is by far the most backward working class in the industrialized world, politically.  The US is the only major industrialized nation that does not have a mass “socialist” or “communist” party.  This means that the US working class has never risen to the level of complete working-class-consciousness; it has been stuck at the “trade-union-consciousness” stage of development since the early 1900s.  The main reason for this is that the workers of the USA have been brainwashed by the capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Democratic Party and in the trade unions to believe that “socialism is bad” and “capitalism is good” – and that the class interests of workers and capitalists are one and the same!  This widely-held belief among US workers  in the identity of interests of capitalists and workers would make workers in every other industrialized country – and many so-called “third world” countries – shake their heads in disbelief.   This decades-long brainwashing of the working class has made it impossible for even intelligent people like Edward Snowden to simply  tell the difference between a communist and a fascist!

Brilliant whistleblower Edward Snowden displays the typical crippled political consciousness of the working class in the USA.

If Edward Snowden can’t tell the difference between Mao – a lifelong member of the Communist Party – and Hitler – who was never a member of any socialist organization ever and who incinerated tens of thousands of communists and socialists in his death camps (and Snowden’s a relatively educated US worker) you get a good basic idea of just how ignorant US workers are when it comes to politics.  This state of political ignorance among the US working class bore its most malignant fruit ever when the workers of the USA voted for a worker-hating billionaire for President – thinking that, somehow, a disgusting greedhead racist pig like Donald Trump would fight for the rights of workers! But that is getting off the track of our basic lesson plan on PoliSci101 as taught by a revolutionary worker!  Our subject today is not Donald Trump but one of the big political swindles going on in the so-called workers movement of the US, namely the “need” to “speak truth to power”.  What in hell does this political phrase “Speak Truth To Power” really mean?  And if it seems to you like we are “talking down” to you maybe it only seems that way because you, worker of the USA, have a vastly exaggerated sense of your own political wisdom, which, in fact, you do not possess AT ALL!  This is why you keep on voting this year for the Democrats and next year for the Republicans and still can’t understand why your lives aren’t getting better.    So please read on and see if you learn something.

“Speaking Truth to Power!” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe it should be like this: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Even better, right? It’s like a demand now. Or how about: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”. Now THAT is a revolutionary slogan! But let’s go all out and say we are “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Take THAT, “powers that be”!

No matter how you write it; no matter how you say it, it means just one thing: “we accept the status quo; we know that there is a power up there somewhere and it is often against us; but if we just let those rightful “powers that be” hear our demands, they will become afraid of us and will do what we demand of them.”

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we study political speech scientifically. Everyone knows that all words have specific meanings; and that political words have special political meanings. But what most workers are only dimly aware of is that when political words are combined into political phrases by the enemies of the working class, those meanings are distorted, falsified and turned into lies. A clever phrase like “speak truth to power” is made to sound militant and revolutionary when in fact it is servile and cowardly – anything but revolutionary. Yet so-called “revolutionaries” seem to *love* the phrase “speak truth to power”. This is just one of the signs that they are fake-revolutionaries.

When political words are combined into phrases their meanings become (usually) more complex. It is our job as Trotskyist political scientists to deconstruct these slippery phrases used by fake-revolutionaries and other defenders of the capitalist system and to clearly show to the working class how these clever phrases are used to rip the working class off. And today’s lesson will show that the seemingly radical and revolutionary phrase “speak truth to power” contains a complete reformist political program that completely disarms the working class politically and hands it over to its mortal enemy, the capitalist class, bound and gagged!

So let’s analyze this political formula: “speak” “truth” “to” “power”. Break it down into its component parts. “Speak”: means of course to address something to someone else. We speak to communicate ideas. That part is straightforward.

The next word describes what we should say: “truth”. The working class is basically honest; when it addresses individuals or groups of individuals we as workers like to have the truth on our side and we also like our leaders to speak the truth to us and to whomever we ask them to address on our behalf. “Speak truth”. Very nice, nothing to oppose there. So far this phrase seems to be OK. And so is “Speak truth to”. Obviously if we are going to speak truth we must speak it to… someone.

“Speak truth” to whom? To whom will we address our speech? To “power”. What is “power”? Obviously, if we are going to “speak truth to” power, then “power must be a thing, some kind of material entity. You do not “speak truth to” the dog or to the birds in the trees, or to the sky; you speak truth to a person or persons. So this word “power” must be a noun, correct? Who constitutes this “power” we wish to address?

The Merriam-Webster English dictionary defines the word “power” in this way:

1 power

noun, often attributive pow·er \ˈpau̇(-ə)r\

1. a : (1) ability to act or produce an effect (2) : ability to get extra-base hits (3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect
b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others b : one having such power; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men; e: chiefly dialectal; a large number or quantity
3. a : physical might b : mental or moral efficacy c : political control or influence
4. powers plural : an order of angels — see celestial hierarchy
5. a : the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product 5 to the third power is 125; also : the product itself 8 is a power of 2 b : cardinal number 2
6. a : a source or means of supplying energy; especially : electricity b : motive power c : the time rate at which work is done or energy emitted or transferred
7 : magnification
8. scope
9 : the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/power

Looking at this list of the many definitions of the word “power”, we see that we can immediately eliminate several of these: 1a; 2a and e; 3; and the mathematical and parametrical references of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. That leaves us with these:

1. b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. b : one having such power [over others – refers to definition 2a – IWPCHI]; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men
Now in the case of “speaking truth to power” as it relates to the “archaic” definition of “a force of armed men”; it is interesting that in the dictionaries of the capitalist period this is considered to be no longer valid. But of course the “forces of armed men” are not the “power” we are addressing when we use the phrase “speaking truth to power”. Everyone knows that the police are the armed fist of “power” but not “power” itself. The police are merely the pawns of those “in power” and are ordered to do their dirty work by “power”.
That leaves us with “legal or official authority”; “one having such power over others”; a “controlling group or establishment”. This must be the “power” we are “speaking truth to”.
The first thing that strikes a revolutionary Trotskyist when analyzing this term “power” as it applies to the “establishment” that runs the city, state or nation is that it is a very vague term that does not correctly describe the true nature of this “power”. As revolutionary Marxists, we understand that the real “power” in any capitalist country like the United States is held in the hands of the “capitalist class”. So why, we ask, did the people who came up with the phrase “speak truth to power” deliberately choose the vague term “power” instead of the more scientifically precise and correct term “capitalist class”?
The reason is simple: they do not want to use the more precise and scientific term because if they did then they would be revealed to be revolutionary Marxists and not the simple reformists that they actually are. If you use the precise, scientific Marxist language, you will be labeled by the “powerful” capitalist class as a “commie”; and the reformists who created this wonderfully vague demand to “speak truth to power” DON’T WANT THEIR CAPITALIST MASTERS TO MISIDENTIFY THEM AS MARXIST REVOLUTIONARIES! At the same time these reformists wish to trick YOU the workers into believing that they are “radical” and adventurous by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”
Let’s look a bit closer at this tricky bit of verbal posturing encompassed by the seemingly innocuous phrase “speak truth to power”, designed to make the reformist mice look like LIONS to the uninitiated (though at the same time providing a wink and a nod to the “powerful” that says “don’t worry, we’re not going to go beyond merely “speaking truth to power!”).
Every revolutionary Trotskyist “speaks truth” to every worker she or he talks to; it is our tradition, it is our job, it is our promise to you and it has always been the #1 rule of revolutionary Marxism: to never lie to the working class. But to “power”? Well, there are certainly times when it is NOT wise to “speak truth to power”; like when you are organizing a union in a non-union shop; or when a capitalist asks you how you like working for his company.
Only cowering slaves take the position that they must always “speak truth to power”. They rat out their fellow workers in order to ingratiate themselves with the capitalists. They always tend to lie to their fellow workers and to tell the truth as they understand it to their masters.
So why do the reformists try to inculcate in the minds of the working class that they must always “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER”? Whose side are they on: the side of the workers or the side of the capitalists?
But isn’t it OK in a demonstration, say, in Washington, D.C. to come right out and make our demands, to honestly and openly address our grievances to “the powers that be”? Of course it is. BUT FOR REVOLUTIONARY TROTSKYISTS, “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER” IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF! We don’t just “speak truth to power” and then go home, grinning like idiots because “we really told them off this time, didn’t we”? IF ALL WE DO IS “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER” WE HAVEN’T DONE A DAMNED THING AT ALL! We are still “power”-less workers who have merely addressed our pitiful grievances to “the powers that be” (who, in the case of the vast majority of mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C. make certain to leave town well in advance of the Big Demo)! If all we do is “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” … and then the “power” tells us to go fuck ourselves…? What do we do when this “power” answers our honest appeal with rubber bullets, tear gas and even live ammunition? Do we keep on crawling and begging the “legitimate powers that be” to accept our humble petitions like the peasants did in Tsarist Russia, crawling on their knees to the Tsar’s palaces to present their petitions, hats-in-hands – only to be shot down like dogs by the Tsarist military? Are we workers today more or less cowardly than our peasant ancestors?
As for the reformists like Cornel West and Bernie Sanders who love to look tough in front of the workers by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – that is all they intend to do! They “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” morning, noon and night – and “power” ignores them and even laughs in their faces! Why can “power” do this? Because so long as the working class idiotically contents itself with merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” and does not go on to organize a revolutionary workers party that will lead the fight to actually “TAKE POWER OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS AND PLACE IT IN THE HANDS OF THE WORKING CLASS THROUGH WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION”, the “power” will keep right on enjoying its rights and privileges and its massive wealth – stolen from us! – and will never lose even one night’s sleep! So long as the working class keep following the reformist cowards and political idiots who will NEVER go beyond “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – nothing… absolutely NOTHING will change unless the “power”-ful capitalist class “feels” like it’s a good idea.
We just had a great example of this with the “Fight For $15” campaign in Illinois. These reformists – completely tied to the apron strings of the Democratic Party – adopted a slogan that is so lame that it is amazing and it proves that they are 100% in favor of the capitalist system. For the better part of two decades now, every scientific study of the minimum wage in Illinois has stated that in order for the workers in Chicago to live like human beings, they must make at least $25/hour. This has been studied for EVER! So why do these reformist cowards who organized the “Fight For $15” (there is a misuse of the word “fight” if we ever saw one!) crawl on their knees begging the “powers that be” for a mere $15 – ten dollars an hour LESS than what is necessary for workers to live decently in this Democratic Party-run death trap for the working class?
The answer is simple: these people who are running the “Fight for $15” are more interested in trying to look “reasonable” to the “powers that be” among the Illinois capitalist class than they are in honestly and courageously demanding that the working class of Illinois get PAID ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE ON! These reformist cowards who run the misnamed “Fight For $15” (which should be called “Get Down On Your Knees And Beg For $15”) are trying to show how loyal and responsible they are as defenders of the capitalist system by not making the – to the capitalist class – unreasonable demand (!) that Illinois workers get paid enough money to actually barely keep their heads above water! By making their demand so low, they tried to “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” – but not so as to alarm anyone in the filthy rich capitalist class! The leaders of “Fight For $15” hope that if they behave themselves and can prove to the capitalist class that they can keep the “demands” of the workers well under what the capitalist class deems to be “reasonable” then they might some day be rewarded with a state senator’s job or a well-paid spot in the House of Representatives or Senate! They are interested in furthering their POLITICAL CAREERS AS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – not in fighting for actual living wages for workers!
So they crawled through Chicago and crawled to Springfield and crawled back through Chicago again and even went to Washington D.C. and crawled there as well – always “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” but never backing that up by ORGANIZING A REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY!
So what did the “powers that be” do with the all-too-“reasonable” “demand” of the “Fight For $15”?
Billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner used their petition for toilet paper and he vetoed the legislation “demanding” the starvation minimum wage of $15/hour!
So NOW what will the apostles of “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” do? They “SPOKE TRUTH TO POWER!” – and “power” told them to go get fucked! Will the “Fight for $15” people now raise their demand to “Fight for $16” or to “Fight for $25” (which is the MINIMUM of what the minimum wage MUST BE in Illinois if we want workers to live like human beings and not from paycheck-to-paycheck)? Will they continue to hide under the skirts of the Democrats, who, when they ran the State House in Springfield worked overtime to keep their piddling minimum wage always well below the rate of inflation? Or will the reformist cowards who run “Fight For $15” finally stop their phony charade and just go work for the Democrats or go get real jobs?
Who cares what they do? A reformist is as a reformist does; and these dyed-in-the-wool reformist Democrats will never amount to anything! All they can do is lead workers into the dead-end of voting for the Democrats – that is their role in this life.
Lastly we ask you, young (or old) worker: when will YOU finally realize that merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” has never and will never change anything and start to organize a revolutionary socialist party that seeks to get rid of a capitalist “power” that doesn’t care if you live or die and to replace that “power” with a revolutionary socialist workers government?
The working class does not need pro-capitalist intermediaries in the Democratic or Republican parties to represent us – FALSELY! – in the local, state and national governmental bodies! We need OUR OWN party 100% financed by, organized by and led by WORKERS that represents the political and economic interests of the WORKING CLASS only! Once we have such a party, we will be able to stop merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER”; we will be on our way to WORKERS POWER IN A WORKERS GOVERNMENT where we the workers – who make up the vast majority of the population in EVERY country – will decide how the wealth WE CREATE gets distributed! We will no longer have to endlessly beg our wealthy capitalist masters for a few crumbs!

Workers of the World Unite! Dump the Republicrats and Build A Revolutionary Trotskyist Workers Party and Fight For A Workers’ Government!

–IWPCHI

 

 

 

Leon Trotsky: “For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism” (1931)

The events of this past week in Charlottesville, VA have led us to call for the immediate formation of multiracial, union-based workers militias to smash the fascist threat now feeling the wind under its wings thanks to the support of the US’ new racist, immigrant-hating real-estate swindler president Donald “Andrew Johnson” Trump.

If the US Government is going to allow armed white supremacist scum to parade in the streets of US cities threatening to murder antifascist protestors then the working class must be organized to defend itself with the very same weaponry that is being brandished by the fascists.  We call for the immediate formation of  union-based workers defense guards.   Led by military vets who are union members these powerful workers battalions can harness the creative energy of the entire multiracial US working class to provide a reliable, trustworthy and  disciplined defense against the rise of the fascist scum, and can easily overwhelm any fascist mobilization that dares to make the mistake of attempting to march in the multiracial bastions of US trade unionism: our major US cities.

We are presenting the best revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist writings of the great revolutionary leaders of our movement who organized the global fight to smash fascism in the 1930s and 1940s.  It was not the belated Normandy invasion (undertaken only after it was clear that the Nazis would not defeat the USSR as the western imperialists had hoped) but the might of the USSR’s Red Army that crushed the Nazi hordes who tried and failed to overthrow the bureaucratically deformed Stalinist workers state in World War II.  The collapse of the Nazi Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in 1944 proved the inherent superiority of the socialist system – even one so poorly led as the Stalinist USSR was – on the battlefields of Eastern Europe, where the mightiest military force ever deployed by the capitalist world found itself overwhelmed by the superior organizational and economic power of socialism, backed by superior morale and internationalist ideals of global collective struggle to defend the gains of the Bolshevik Revolution.

In this selection, Lenin’s right-hand man during the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the organizer and leader of the Red Army and leader of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition in the Communist Party Leon Trotsky warns German communist workers in 1931 of the impending fascist coup that was bound to occur if the working class did not form an antifascist united front against Hitler and his Nazis.

Writing for the Bulletin of the Opposition in December of 1931, here is Trotsky’s analysis of the situation in Germany.  He accurately predicts that Hitler would provoke a civil war in and then come to power not through bourgeois-democratic means but through a coup.  He talks about the disastrous concept of voting for the “lesser evil” which is so sadly prevalent in the United States today; there is much here that will be food for thought for those who are serious about fighting fascism in 2017.  We hope you find this historical gem from the archives of Trotskyism to be helpful in answering your questions as to what must be done to smash fascism in the here and now.

— IWPCHI

*****************************

For a Workers’ United Front
Against Fascism

Germany is now passing through one of those great historic hours upon which the fate of the German people, the fate of Europe, and in significant measure the fate of all humanity, will depend for decades. If you place a ball on top of a pyramid, the slightest impact can cause it to roll down either to the left or to the right. That is the situation approaching with every hour in Germany today. There are forces which would like the ball to roll down towards the right and break the back of the working class. There are forces which would like the ball to remain at the top. That is a utopia. The ball cannot remain at the top of the pyramid. The Communists want the ball to roll down toward the left and break the back of capitalism. But it is not enough to want; one must know how. Let us calmly reflect once more: is the policy carried on at present by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany correct or incorrect?

What Does Hitler Want?

The fascists are growing very rapidly. The Communists are also growing but much more slowly. The growth at the extreme poles shows that the ball cannot maintain itself at the top of the pyramid. The rapid growth of the fascists signifies the danger that the ball may roll down toward the right. Therein lies an enormous danger.

Hitler emphasizes that he is against a coup d’état. In order to strangle democracy once and for all, he wants to come to power by no other route than the democratic road. Can we seriously believe this?

Of course, if the fascists could figure on obtaining an absolute majority of the votes at the next elections in a peaceful way, then they would perhaps even prefer this road. In reality, however, this road is unthinkable for them. It is stupid to believe that the Nazis would grow uninterruptedly, as they do now, for an unlimited period of time. Sooner or later they will drain their social reservoir. Fascism has introduced into its own ranks such terrific contradictions, that the moment must come in which the flow ceases to replace the ebb. This moment can arrive long before the fascists have united about them even half of the votes. They will not be able to halt for they will have nothing more to look for here. They will be forced to resort to an overturn.

But even apart from all this, the fascists are cut off from the democratic road. The immense growth of the political contradictions in the country, the stark brigands’ agitation of the fascists, will inevitably lead to a situation in which the closer the fascists approach a majority, the more heated the atmosphere will become and the more extensive the unfolding of the conflicts and struggles will be. With this perspective, civil war is absolutely inevitable. Consequently, the question of the seizure of power by the fascists will not be decided by vote, but by civil war, which the fascists are preparing and provoking.

Can we assume even for one minute that Hitler and his counselors do not realize and foresee this? That would mean to consider them blockheads. There is no greater crime in politics than that of hoping for stupidities on the part of a strong enemy. But if Hitler is not unaware that the road to power leads through the most gruesome civil war, then it means that his speeches about the peaceful democratic road are only a cloak, that is, a stratagem. In that case, it is all the more necessary to keep one’s eyes open.

What Is Concealed Behind Hitler’s Stratagem?

His calculations are quite simple and obvious: he wants to lull his antagonists with the long-run perspective of the parliamentary growth of the Nazis in order to catch them napping and to deal them a deathblow at the right moment It is quite possible that Hitler’s courtesies to democratic parliamentarism may, moreover, help to set up some sort of coalition in the immediate future in which the fascists will obtain the most important posts and employ them in turn for their coup d’état. For it is entirely clear that the coalition, let us assume, between the Center and the fascists will not be a stage in the democratic solution of the question, but a step closer to the coup d’etat under conditions most favorable to the fascists.

We Must Plan According to the Shorter Perspective

All this means that even independently of the desires of the fascist general staff, the solution can intervene in the course Of the next few months, if not weeks. This circumstance is of tremendous importance in elaborating a correct policy. If we allow the fascists to seize power in two or three months, then the struggle against them next year will be much harder than in this. All revolutionary plans laid out for two, three, or five years in advance will prove to be only wretched and disgraceful twaddle, if the working class allows the fascists to gain power in the course of the next two, three, or five months. In the polity of revolutionary crises, the calculation of time is of just as decisive importance as it is in war operations.

Let us take another, more remote example for the clarification of our idea. Hugo Urbahns, who considers himself a “Left Communist” declares the German party bankrupt , politically done for, and proposes to create a new party. If Urbahns were right, it would mean that the victory of the fascists is certain. For, in order to create a new party, years are required (and there has been nothing to prove that the party of Urbahns would in any sense be better than Thälmann’s party: when Urbahns was at the head of the party, there were by no means fewer mistakes).

Yes, should the fascists really conquer power, that would mean not only the physical destruction of the Communist Party, but veritable political bankruptcy for it. An ignominious defeat in a struggle against bands of human rubbish – would never be forgiven the Communist International and its German section by the many-millioned German proletariat. The seizure of power by the fascists would therefore most probably signify the necessity of creating a new revolutionary party, and in all likelihood also a new International. That would be a frightful historical catastrophe. But to assume today that all this is unavoidable can be done only by genuine liquidators, those who under the mantle of hollow phrases are really hastening to capitulate like cravens in the face of the struggle and without a struggle. With this conception we Bolshevik-Leninists, who are called “Trotskyists” by the Stalinists, have nothing in common.

We are unshakably convinced that the victory over the fascists is possible – not after their coming to power, not after five, ten, or twenty years of their rule, but now, under the given conditions, in the coming months and weeks.

Thälmann Considers the Victory of Fascism Inevitable

A correct policy is necessary in order to achieve victory. That is, we need a policy appropriate to the present situation, to the present relationship of forces, and not to the situation that may develop in one, two, or three years, when the question of power will already have been decided for a long time.

The whole misfortune lies in the fact that the policy of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party, in part consciously and in part unconsciously, proceeds from the recognition of the inevitability of a fascist victory. In fact, in the appeal for the “Red United Front” published on November 29, 1931, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany proceeds from the idea that it is impossible to defeat fascism without first defeating the Social Democracy. The same idea is repeated in all possible shades in Thälmann’s article. Is this idea correct? On the historical scale it is unconditionally correct. But that does not at all mean that with its aid, that is, by simple repetition, one can solve the questions of the day. An idea, correct from the point of view of revolutionary strategy as a whole, is converted into a lie and at that into a reactionary lie, if it is not translated into the language of tactics. Is it correct that in order to destroy unemployment and misery it is first necessary to destroy capitalism? It is correct. But only the biggest blockhead can conclude from all this, that we do not have to fight this very day, with all of our forces, against the measures with whose aid capitalism is increasing the misery of the workers.

Can we expect that in the course of the next few months the Communist Party will defeat both the Social Democracy and fascism? No normal-thinking person who can read and calculate would risk such a contention. Politically, the question stands like this: Can we successfully repel fascism now, in the course of the next few months, that is, with the existence of a greatly weakened, but still (unfortunately) very strong Social Democracy? The Central Committee replies in the negative. In other words, Thälmann considers the victory of fascism inevitable.

Once Again: The Russian Experience

In order to express my thought as clearly and as concretely as possible I will come back once more to the experience with the Kornilov uprising. On August 26 (old style), 1917, General Kornilov led his Cossack corps and one irregular division against Petrograd. At the helm of power stood Kerensky, lackey of the bourgeoisie and three-quarters a confederate of Kornilov. Lenin was still in hiding because of the accusation that he was in the service of the Hohenzollerns. For the same accusation, I was at that time incarcerated in solitary confinement in Kresty Prison. How did the Bolsheviks proceed in this question? They also had a right to say: “In order to defeat the Korniloviad – we must first defeat the Kerenskiad.” They said this more than once, for it was correct and necessary for all the subsequent propaganda. But that was entirely inadequate for offering resistance to Kornilov on August 26, and on the days that followed, and for preventing him from butchering the Petrograd proletariat. That is why the Bolsheviks did not content themselves with a general appeal to the workers and soldiers to break with the conciliators and to support the red united front of the Bolsheviks. No, the Bolsheviks proposed the united front struggle to the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries and created together with them joint organizations of struggle. Was this correct or incorrect? Let Thälmann answer that. In order to show even more vividly how matters stood with the united front, I will cite the following incident: immediately upon my release after the trade unions had put up bail for me, I went directly to the Committee for National Defense, where I discussed and adopted decisions regarding the struggle against Kornilov with the Menshevik Dan and the Social Revolutionary Gotz [2], allies of Kerensky who had kept me in prison. Was this right or wrong? Let Remmele answer that.

Is Brüning the “Lesser Evil”?

The Social Democracy supports Brüning, votes for him, assumes responsibility for him before the masses-on the grounds that the Brüning government is the “lesser evil.” Die Rote Fahne attempts to ascribe the same view to me – on the grounds that I expressed myself against the stupid and shameful participation of the Communists in the Hitler referendum. But have the German Left Opposition and myself in particular demanded that the Communists vote for and support Brüning? We Marxists regard Brüning and Hitler, Braun included, as component parts of one and the same system. The question as to which one of them is the “lesser evil” has no sense, for the system we are fighting against needs all these elements. But these elements are momentarily involved in conflicts with one another and the party of the proletariat must take advantage of these conflicts in the interest of the revolution.

There are seven keys in the musical scale. The question as to which of these keys is “better” – do, re, or sol – is a nonsensical question. But the musician must know when to strike and what keys to strike. The abstract question of who is the lesser evil – Brüning or Hitler – is just as nonsensical. It is necessary to know which of these keys to strike. Is that clear? For the feeble-minded let us cite another example. When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a “lesser evil” in comparison with the revolver.

The misfortune consists precisely of the fact that the leaders of the German Communist Party have placed themselves on the same ground as the Social Democracy, only with inverted prefixes: the Social Democracy votes for Brüning, recognizing in him the lesser evil. The Communists, on the other hand, who refuse to trust either Braun or Brüning in any way (and that is absolutely the right way to act), go into the streets to support Hitler’s referendum, that is, the attempt of the fascists to overthrow Brüning. But by this they themselves have recognized in Hitler the lesser evil, for the victory of the referendum would not have brought the proletariat into power, but Hitler. To be sure, it is painful to have to argue over such ABC questions. It is sad, very sad indeed, when musicians like Remmele, instead of distinguishing between the keys, stamp with their boots on the keyboard.

It is Not a Question of the Workers Who Have Already Left the Social Democracy,
But of Those Who Still Remain With It

The thousands upon thousands of Noskes, Welses, and Hilferdings prefer, in the last analysis, fascism to Communism. [3] But for that they must once and for all tear themselves loose from the workers. Today this is not yet the case. Today the Social Democracy as a whole, with all its internal antagonisms, is forced into sharp conflict with the fascists. It is our task to take advantage of this conflict and not to unite the antagonists against us.

The front must now be directed against fascism. And this common front of direct struggle against fascism, embracing the entire proletariat, must be utilized in the struggle against the Social Democracy, directed as a flank attack, but no less effective for all that.

It is necessary to show by deeds a complete readiness to make a bloc with the Social Democrats against the fascists in all cases in which they will accept a bloc. To say to the Social Democratic workers: “Cast your leaders aside and join our “nonparty” united front” means to add just one more hollow phrase to a thousand others. We must understand how to tear the workers away from their leaders in reality. But reality today is-the struggle against fascism. There are and doubtless will be Social Democratic workers who are prepared to fight hand in hand with the Communist workers against the fascists, regardless of the desires or even against the desires of the Social Democratic organizations. With such progressive elements it is obviously necessary to establish the closest possible contact. At the present time, however, they are not great in number. The German worker has been raised in the spirit of organization and of discipline. This has its strong as well as its weak sides. The overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic workers will fight against the fascists, but – for the present at least – only together with their organizations. This stage cannot be skipped. We must help the Social Democratic workers in action – in this new and extraordinary situation – to test the value of their organizations and leaders at this time, when it is a matter of life and death for the working class.

We Must Force the Social Democracy into a Bloc Against the Fascists

The trouble is that in the Central Committee of the Communist Party there are many frightened opportunists. They have heard that opportunism consists of a love for blocs, and that is why they are against blocs. They do not understand the difference between, let us say, a parliamentary agreement and an ever-so-modest agreement for struggle in a strike or in defense of workers’ printshops against fascist bands.

Election agreements, parliamentary compromises concluded between the revolutionary party and the Social Democracy serve, as a rule, to the advantage of the Social Democracy. Practical agreements for mass action, for purposes of struggle, are always useful to the revolutionary party. The Anglo-Russian Committee was an impermissible type of bloc of two leaderships on one common political platform, vague, deceptive, binding no one to any action at all. The maintenance of this bloc at the time of the British General Strike, when the General Council assumed the role of strikebreaker, signified, on the part of the Stalinists, a policy of betrayal. [4]

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. [5] On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.

It is necessary, without any delay, finally to elaborate a practical system of measures – not with the aim of merely “exposing” the Social Democracy (before the Communists), but with the aim of actual struggle against fascism. The question of factory defense organizations, of unhampered activity on the part of the factory councils, the inviolability of the workers’ organizations and institutions, the question of arsenals that may be seized by the fascists, the question of measures in the case of an emergency, that is, of the coordination of the actions of the Communist and the Social Democratic divisions in the struggle, etc., etc., must be dealt with in this program.

In the struggle against fascism, the factory councils occupy a tremendously important position. Here a particularly precise program of action is necessary. Every factory must become an anti-fascist bulwark, with its own commandants and its own battalions. It is necessary to have a map of the fascist barracks and all other fascist strongholds, in every city and in every district The fascists are attempting to encircle the revolutionary strongholds. The encirclers must be encircled. On this basis, an agreement with the Social Democratic and trade-union organizations is not only permissible, but a duty. To reject this for reasons of “principle” (in reality because of bureaucratic stupidity, or what is still worse, because of cowardice) is to give direct and immediate aid to fascism.

A practical program of agreements with the Social Democratic workers was proposed by us as far back as September 1930 (The Turn in the Comintern and the German Situation), that is, a year and a quarter ago. What has the leadership undertaken in this direction? Next to nothing. The Central Committee of the Communist Party has taken up everything except that which constitutes its direct task. How much valuable, irretrievable time has been lost! As a matter of fact, not much time is left. The program of action must be strictly practical, strictly objective, to the point, without any of those artificial “claims,” without any reservations, so that every average Social Democratic worker can say to himself. what the Communists propose is completely indispensable for the struggle against fascism. On this basis, we must pull the Social Democratic workers along with us by our example, and criticize their leaders who will inevitably serve as a check and a brake. Only in this way is victory possible.

A Good Quotation From Lenin

The present-day epigones, that is, the thoroughly bad disciples of Lenin, like to cover up their shortcomings on every occasion that offers itself with quotations – often entirely irrelevant. For Marxists, the question is not decided by a quotation, but by means of the correct method. If one is guided by correct methods, it is not hard also to find suitable quotations. After I had drawn the above analogy with the Kornilov insurrection, I said to myself: We can probably find a theoretical elucidation of our bloc with the conciliators in the struggle against Kornilov, in Lenin. And here is what I actually found in the second part of Volume XIV of the Russian edition, in a letter from Lenin to the Central Committee, written at the beginning of September 1917:

“Even at the present time, we are not duty-bound to support the Kerensky government That would be unprincipled. It is asked: then we are not to fight against Kornilov? Of course we are. But that is not one and the same thing. There is a limit to this; it is being transgressed by many Bolsheviks who fail into ‘conciliationism’ and allow themselves to be driven by the current of events.

“We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, but we do not support Kerensky; we are uncovering his weaknesses. The distinction is rather delicate, but highly important and must not be forgotten.

“What does the change of our tactics consist of after the Kornilov insurrection?

“In this, that we are varying the forms of struggle against Kerensky. Without diminishing our hostility to him even by one single note, without taking back one word from what we have said against him, without giving up the task of overthrowing Kerensky, we say: we must calculate the moment. We will not overthrow Kerensky at present. We approach the question of the struggle against him differently: by explaining the weaknesses and vacillations of Kerensky to the people (who are fighting against Kornilov).”

We are proposing nothing different. Complete independence of the Communist organization and press, complete freedom of Communist criticism, the same for the Social Democracy and the trade unions. Only contemptible opportunists can allow the freedom of the Communist Party to be limited (for example, as in the entrance into the Kuomintang). We are not of their number.

No retraction of our criticism of the Social Democracy. No forgetting of all that has been. The whole historical reckoning, including the reckoning for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg [6], will be presented at the proper time, just as the Russian Bolsheviks finally presented a general reckoning to the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries for the baiting, calumny, imprisonment and murder of workers, soldiers, and peasants.

But we presented our general reckoning to them two months after we had utilized the partial reckoning between Kerensky and Kornilov, between the “democrats” and the fascists – in order to drive back the fascists all the more certainly. Only thanks to this circumstance were we victorious.

When the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany adopts the position expressed in the quotation from Lenin cited above, the entire approach to the Social Democratic masses and the trade-union organizations will change at once: instead of the articles and speeches which are convincing only to those people who are already convinced without them, the agitators will find a common language with new hundreds of thousands and millions of workers. The differentiation within the Social Democracy will proceed at an increased pace. The fascists will soon feel that their task does not at all consist merely of defeating Brüning, Braun, and Wels, but of taking up the open struggle against the whole working class. On this plane, a profound differentiation win inevitably be produced within fascism. Only by this road is victory possible.

But it is necessary to desire this victory. In the meantime, there are among the Communist officials not a few cowardly careerists and fakers whose little posts, whose incomes, and more than that, whose hides, are dear to them. These creatures are very much inclined to spout ultraradical phrases beneath which is concealed a wretched and contemptible fatalism. “Without a victory over the Social Democracy, we cannot battle against fascism!” say such terrible revolutionists, and for this reason … they get their passports ready.

Worker-Communists, you are hundreds of thousands, millions; you cannot leave for anyplace; there are not enough passports for you. Should fascism come to power, it will ride over your skulls and spines like a terrific tank. Your salvation lies in merciless struggle. And only a fighting unity with the Social Democratic workers can bring victory. Make haste, worker-Communists, you have very little time left!

[Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1931/311208.htm


Postscript by IWPCHI:

Liberals and fake-socialists denigrate the revolutionary Trotskyists’ adherence to dialectical materialism, the scientific method of analyzing the class basis for every political movement which, if properly utilized in a Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist manner, enables us to predict – not perfectly, but with a high degree of accuracy – the roles which will be played by every political actor presently on the historical stage.  The apologists for bourgeois democracy, lovers of “common sense” laugh at us – but what bourgeois politician, Stalinist blowhard or social democrat in Germany or anywhere else in the world saw as clearly what the future would bring as did Trotsky?  He urged the Communist Party of Germany to abandon their idiotic Stalinist programme that equated the Social Democrats and the Nazis as one and the same; he urged the Communists to form a united front with the Social Democrats against the Nazis.  By the time the CP tried at the last minute to steer the ship of workers revolution away from the fascist shoals lying dead ahead it was too late.  The Stalinized Communist Party of Germany bears a large degree of the blame for the rise of Hitler;  the Stalinized Comintern’s zigzagging political programs of the 1920s and ’30s that had disoriented their party to such a degree had simultaneously created a breach in the working class forces which Hitler was able to bludgeon his way through, enabling his long rise to power.  If we are to successfully stop the rise of fascism in the US today, we must learn the hard lessons of the failure of the revolutionary workers parties to do so in Germany in the 1930s.  We, too can not count on the rise of fascism in the US to be a long, gradual ascent; fascism is far more prone to sudden leaps forward as we saw this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA.  The fascists have leaped far ahead of the level of development of the antifascist forces.  Unless we immediately begin to organize and build revolutionary socialist parties and workers defense brigades to smash the rising fascist threat, we might very well face the same dire penalty our revolutionary worker-ancestors faced in Germany in the 1930s.  Small, disorganized groups of even the bravest anti-fascist workers are no match for heavily-armed fascist killers backed by the cops, courts and government.  We need to organize the power of the entire multiracial US working class to stop the rise of fascism and to fight ultimately to overthrow the capitalist system which gives rise to the fascist gangs.  Once the working class is in power the fascists will be denied the ability to ever raise their heads again, just as the monarchists were never able to show their faces after the American Revolution.

Fascism: What it Is and How to Fight It

Fascist scum surround small group of antifascist protestors at Univ. of VA, Charlottesville on 11 Aug 2017.

In the aftermath of the monstrous fascist mobilization in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend, we are searching the archives of Marxism for the most important writings on the subject of how to effectively fight the fascist menace.  The New York Times reports that the fascists, emboldened by their “victory” in Charlottesville are now planning to run for political offices across the nation, primarily under the banner of the Republican party.

We have sought from the inception of our organization to impart to the workers of the US the vital importance of organizing a revolutionary vanguard party of the working class as the indispensable weapon of self-defense of the workers against the capitalist system and against its fascist attack dogs.  Without a political party of our own, the working class is left to stand by, impotently begging the paid agents of the capitalist class in both the Republican and Democratic parties to “do the right thing” for the workers.  This cowardly posture of “speaking truth to power” effectively eliminates the working class – the vast majority of the population in any capitalist country – to sitting on the political sidelines as the “rightful rulers” of the capitalist class rob us blind and pave the road for a fascist regime in which the workers organizations will be completely destroyed.  Under fascism, there will be no future for the trade unions or for any working class revolutionary organization of any kind.  Unless we build a revolutionary workers party that has as its ultimate goal the overthrow of the capitalist class and its decrepit, dying capitalist economic system which is the growth medium in which fascism thrives, the working class is doomed to destruction.  The experiences of workers in Italy and Germany under their fascist regimes provide ample evidence of this reality.

All that being said, we must make clear that the Trump administration, though it has fascists in its top positions is NOT A FASCIST GOVERNMENT!  If the Trump government was fascist, we would not be able to write and publish this article, and anti-fascists would not be able to march against the fascist hordes as they did in Charlottesville this past weekend.  We would all be in concentration camps – or dead!   It is imperative that workers understand the qualitative difference between a conservative, worker-hating capitalist political party and its state and a fascist party and its state.  The Trump administration is a neo-fascist bourgeois government, not a FASCIST government.  We can see even now the tremendous splits that have taken place within the Trump administration over the events in Charlottesville.  Even the hideous Confederacy-apologist Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has come out publicly denouncing the fascist mobilization in Charlottesville: this would not happen in a fascist government.

But the fascists are inside the Republican party and are preparing to take it over.  They are supported financially by the most right-wing elements of the US capitalist class who are tired of having their hands tied by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights when they would like to just go out and smash every union and socialist/communist/anarchist political organization in the land!  It is this powerful but still minority fascist fringe of the US capitalist class that is pushing the nation towards fascism.  They have a large portion of the ruling class, the cops and courts and military on their side.  BUT THEY HAVE NOT TAKEN POWER YET.  If we confuse the semi-fascist Trump with the REAL fascist threat we will be directing our defensive attacks at the puppet rather than at the master.  We saw who the fascists are this weekend.  They are the usual scum: the Klan, the Nazis organized by David Duke and all of that syphilitic gutter scum attached to them like lampreys on a shark.  THESE ARE THE FASCISTS WE MUST CONFRONT AND DEFEAT.  They are organizing their ignorant hordes of lumpen and petty-bourgeois thugs to rampage across the campuses and cities and towns across the USA this fall.  We can and we must organize now to overwhelm them numerically whenever and wherever they appear, and we must ignore the appeals from their allies in the Democratic and Republican parties and among the clergy of all denominations who tell us to “turn the other cheek” against those who seek to kill us!  The working class must be organized through the trade unions into massive, highly disciplined battalions trained and led by union members who are military veterans to defend ourselves effectively in a military fashion against the nazi gangs.  If we do this – and ONLY if we do this can we send these fascist scum scurrying back to the holes they emerged from! The next time these filth try to organize a torchlight parade they must be crushed by the full weight of the integrated working class!  The next time they try to launch a provocation in broad daylight as they did in Charlottesville they must be met with the full weight of the entire integrated working class, led by strong, determined trade union contingents and they must be crushed!  They must have their heads acquainted with the pavement and be sent crawling home to lick their wounds.  This is the only “debate” the fascists understand!

Workers must come to understand the scientific, revolutionary Trotskyist definition of what fascism is and what it isn’t and what must be done to stop it.  If we do not understand fully what we are up against, where it comes from and who supports it we are powerless to stop it.  So in the interest of furthering your education on the subject of fascism, we offer these insights from the revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.  If you have questions or comments on this material you can post your comments here and we will be happy to respond; otherwise contact us directly at iwpchi@gmx.com.

Workers of the World – Unite to Smash Fascism!

-IWPCHI

********************

Excerpts from Leon Trotsky’s writings on fascism and how to fight it.  We have lightly edited Trotsky’s polemics in order to bring them up-to-date for the present situation in the US without (we hope) dulling in the slightest way their surgically sharp edge. Our edits are in brackets [ ].  — IWPCHI

“The [people of the United States] for a long time thought that Fascism had nothing whatever to do with them. They had a republic in which all questions were dealt with by the sovereign people through the exercise of universal suffrage. But on [August 11th and 12th, 2017], several thousand Fascists […]  armed with [shields, clubs and firearms descended on Charlottesville, Virginia]. What does tomorrow hold?

Of course in [the United States], as in certain other European countries (England, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries), there still exist parliaments, elections, democratic liberties, or their remnants. But in all these countries the class struggle is sharpening, just as it did [in the 1920s and 1930s] in Italy and Germany. Whoever consoles himself with the phrase, “[The United States] is not Germany”, is hopeless. In all countries the same historic laws operate, the laws of capitalist decline. If the means of production remain in the hands of a small number of capitalists, there is no way out for society. It is condemned to go from crisis to crisis, from need to misery, from bad to worse. In the various countries the decrepitude and disintegration of capitalism are expressed in diverse forms and at unequal rhythms. But the basic features of the process are the same everywhere. The bourgeoisie is leading its society to complete bankruptcy. It is capable of assuring the people neither bread nor peace. This is precisely why it cannot any longer tolerate the democratic order. It is forced to smash the workers by the use of physical violence. The discontent of the workers and peasants, however, cannot be brought to an end by the police alone. Moreover, it is often impossible to make the army march against the people. It begins by disintegrating and ends with the passage of a large section of the soldiers over to the people’s side. That is why finance capital is obliged to create special armed bands, trained to fight the workers just as certain breeds of dog are trained to hunt game. The historic function of Fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.

“The Fascists find their human material mainly in the petty bourgeoisie [small businesspeople]. The [small business owner] has been entirely ruined by big capital. There is no way out for it in the present social order, but it knows of no other. Its dissatisfaction, indignation and despair are diverted by the Fascists away from big capital and against the workers. It may be said that Fascism is the act of placing the petty bourgeoisie at the disposal of its most bitter enemies. In this way big capital ruins the middle classes and then with the help of hired Fascist demagogues incites the despairing petty bourgeois against the worker. The bourgeois régime can be preserved only by such murderous means as these. For how long? Until it is overthrown by proletarian revolution.
[Source: Leon Trotsky, “Whither France?”, November, 1934]

” The capitalists arrive at Fascism not at their own whim, but through necessity: they cannot any longer preserve the private ownership of the means of production save by directing an offensive against the workers, save by strengthening the oppression, by sowing misery and despair around them. At the same time, fearing the inevitable resistance on the part of the workers, the capitalists, through the medium of their agents, arouse the petty bourgeoisie against the proletariat and, while accusing the latter of prolonging and aggravating the crisis, they finance Fascist gangs to annihilate the workers. Should the resistance of the workers to the offensive of capital increase on the morrow, should the strikes become more frequent and important, Fascism […] will not evaporate but instead grow with redoubled force. The growth of the strike movement will impel the mobilization of strikebreakers. All the ‘patriotic’ thugs will participate in the movement. Daily attacks against the workers will be put on the order of the day. To close our eyes to this is to walk toward certain defeat.

“‘Do you mean to say […] that there must be no resistance?” No. It is necessary to resist.

“We are [not] adherents of that school which thinks that the best means of safety lies in silence, retreat and capitulation. ‘Don’t provoke the enemy!’ ‘Do not defend yourselves!’ ‘Don’t arm yourselves!’ ‘Roll over on your backs and play dead!’  Theoreticians from among this school of strategy should be sought not among ourselves but among the editors of [the bourgeois and fake-socialist press].  It is necessary for the workers to resist if they do not wish to be annihilated. But in that case no reformist and pacifist illusion is permissible. The struggle will be ferocious. It is necessary to foresee beforehand the inevitable consequences of resistance and to prepare for them.

“By its present offensive the bourgeoisie invests with a new and incommensurably more acute character the relation between the economic conditions and the social situation of capitalism in decay. Just so, the workers must invest their defence with a new character which corresponds to the methods of the class enemy. In defending ourselves against the economic blows of capital, we must know how to defend at the same time our organizations against the mercenary gangs of capital. It is impossible to do this save by means of the workers’ militia.

“In particular we must say to the trade unions: comrades, your branches and your publications will be pillaged, your organizations reduced to dust, if you do not immediately proceed to the formation of trade-union defence squads (“trade-union militia”), if you do not demonstrate by actions that you will not surrender a single inch of Fascism without a struggle.”

[Source:  Leon Trotsky, “Once Again, Whither France? Part I” March, 1935

“The armed organization of the proletariat [scientific term for ‘working class’], which at the present moment coincides almost entirely with the defence against Fascism, is a new branch of the class struggle. The first steps here too will be inexperienced and maladroit. We must expect mistakes. It is even impossible to escape completely from provocation. The selection of the cadres will be achieved little by little and this all the more surely, all the more solidly, as the militia is closer to the factories where the workers know one another well. But the initiative must necessarily come from above. The party can and must provide the initial cadres. The trade unions must also take to this same road – and they will inevitably take it. The cadres will become fused and strengthened all the more rapidly as they meet with an increasing sympathy and increasing support within the workers’ organizations, and afterwards within the masses of the toilers.

“What are we to say about those gentlemen who, in the guise of sympathy and support, vilify and poke fun at or, worse yet, depict to the class enemy the detachments of working-class self-defence as detachments of ‘insurrection’ and of ‘putsch’? […] It is impossible to give these gentlemen any other name save that of direct enemies of the proletarian revolution.”

[[Source: Leon Trotsky, “Once Again, Whither France? Part II” March, 1935

— IWPCHI

In the Wake of Charlottesville: US Working Class Must Organize Now to Smash the Fascist Threat

We mourn the murder of our brave working-class sister Heather Heyer, run down by a fascist coward as she participated in the massive antifascist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017.

We salute all the heroic workers who confronted one of the largest manifestations of fascist scum to dare to walk the streets of the USA in decades.  The workers of Charlottesville gave a pretty good account of themselves in standing up to the fascist provocation of this past weekend.  But we must do better next time; we have allowed the fascist scum to take the life of one of our bravest sisters – Heather Heyer.  As we join with her family and friends in mourning the murder of this courageous woman at the hands of a deranged fascist, we vow that her murder will not go unavenged.  That she should have lost her life to a fascist coward is a tragedy and a disgrace to the workers movement of the USA!  Dozens of other antifascist workers were left with more or less serious injuries as well.  This did not have to and should not have happened!  We need to organize, organize, organize!

If this weekend’s major battle in the ongoing class war between capital and labor  that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia proves anything at all it proves that the fascist threat here in the USA is not fictional or the product of paranoid elements of the far-left but is a very real and present danger to the forces of the integrated working class of the US.

How the hell did this happen? WHERE were the unions? Fascist scum march virtually unopposed in classic Nazi torchlight parade through campus of University of Virginia, Charlottesville, on night of 11 August 2017.  Photo: Shurtleff, Charlottesville ‘Daily Progress’.

That the fascists were able to successfully carry out a classic, Nazi-style racist torchhlight parade on the campus of the University of Virginia virtually unopposed on Friday, August 11, 2017 is a disgrace to the working class of Charlottesville, all of Virginia and the entire USA – ourselves included.  Where were the battalions of union workers when this deadly provocation occurred?  Where were the students?  Where were the communists, socialists and antifa?  It was because this racist provocation was carried out with virtually no opposition on Friday night that the fascist scum were emboldened to launch an even larger provocation on Saturday, which culminated in one of their vermin using his car to run down dozens of workers prematurely celebrating their “victory” over the fascist scum, killing one of our brave sisters.  If the torchlight parade had been confronted by thousands of trade unionists from Washington, D.C. and throughout the region – and stomped into the ground – the murder of our brave sister, paralegal worker Heather Heyer – would probably never have occurred.  The full responsibility for her death, and for the large number of antifascist protestors who were injured falls on all of us, and on the lack of a properly organized and led antifascist response to the Klan/Nazi provocation, particularly on Friday night but also on Saturday.  If the working class forces had been well-led and deployed in an organized fashion, the only blood that would have been spilled would have been that of the Klan/Nazi vermin themselves.

Small group of brave antifascist protestors allow themselves to be completely surrounded by fascist mob on campus of University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 11 August 2017 – like a scene from Germany in 1933!  HOW did this happen? Photo: Alejandro Alvarez

On Saturday, the antifascist forces, atomized and poorly led, took on the much better organized and better armed fascist forces, who generally maintained a level of military discipline that the antifascist forces did not display.  Individual antifascists attacked groups of fascists and got beaten down.

In a well-organized and led antifascist demonstration, individual activists would not be left isolated so fascists can attack them with impunity. This man is lucky he wasn’t murdered by the fascist scum.  Photo: @zdroberts

This should not happen in a well-organized anti-fascist rally.  The Klan and Nazis are rabid, psychotic killers who are known for their tactics of ganging up on isolated individuals.  They must be confronted by well-organized battalions of union workers who are capable of both self-defense and powerful offensive assaults on the fascist gangs.  The fascists can not be defeated by loosely-knit groups of worker-militants confronting the fascists individually.  The liberals and anarchists who try to substitute themselves for disciplined battalions of union workers will get their asses beat by the fascists whose military posture and superior weaponry allowed to them by their allies in the police forces.  And every time the antifascist forces get beaten down by the fascists it emboldens the fascists to attack again and again.  To successfully smash the fascists, the working class must be organized into large battalions of union workers whose integrated membership, when it stomps the fascists, will send a powerful message to the white supremacist scum that their “good old days” are long gone – and they aren’t coming back.  The fascists’ “heads must be acquainted with the pavement” in Trotsky’s memorable phrase.  Anything less than a complete rout of the fascist forces must be looked upon as a lost opportunity to send these racist scum scurrying back into the holes they crawled out of.

It has been reported that the antifascist demonstrators were prematurely “celebrating” their “victory” over the fascist gangs when the psychotic nazi drove his car right into a contingent of socialist workers – from behind, of course.  The demonstrators should have been on high alert, not “celebrating”;  what were their parade marshals doing?  Did they even have any?  So long as live fascists remained in the area the parade marshals should have been on the lookout for random attacks from the fascists – and the cops.  That a crazed nazi was able to drive his car right into the midst of the demonstration is proof that whoever were in charge of the demonstration at the point where the attack occurred were asleep at their posts!  Your lack of preparation and watchfulness cost that young woman her life, comrades!  Do not ever forget this!  And how the fuck is it that this fascist pig who ran down dozens of antifascist protestors lived to go to jail where he was photographed with not a scratch on his face?

How the fuck did this fascist pig – James Alex Fields, Jr. – walk away from the scene of the murder of Heather Heyer unscathed?  Photo: Charlottesville Police Dept.

The revolutionary socialist movement of which we are a part has been calling on the working class to organize revolutionary socialist workers parties in order to build up the revolutionary leadership that can smash fascism in the egg and that can lead the powerful integrated US working class to the ultimate victory of overthrowing the capitalist class and their system which is the growth medium for these fascist scum.  The capitalist system needs the fascists as their front-line extra-legal attack dogs carrying out the wholesale physical assaults on the working class that the cops would love to do but can not do without giving the whole game of the capitalist class away.  The fascists are sponsored by the most rabid anti-communist elements of the capitalist class and are being trained to launch deadly assaults on the most self-sacrificing elements of the workers movement.  Today, they drive a car into a contingent of socialists; tomorrow they intend to attack union meetings and, once they have terrorized the unions into submission to rampage through the major cities of the USA.  If we don’t crush these scum now when they are relatively small it is just a matter of time before we have thousands of fascists marching down the streets of New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles – to name but a few.

After the Civil War, the Democratic Party was led by American racists in order to smash the enfranchisement of black workers after the destruction of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  To expect the Democrats to be the leaders of an anti-fascist struggle is as idiotic as expecting angels to come down from heaven to save us from the fascist scum.  The Democratic Party has never once organized an effective antifascist rally anywhere in the USA; it has always been the revolutionary socialists who have done so.  The Democrats and Republicans are the bought-and-paid-for servants of the US capitalist class which is organizing the fascists as we write this.  The Democrats run the racist police departments of the USA which have been shooting black workers like dogs; Democratic Party States Attorneys have refused to indict their Killer Kops of Kapital and when they have been forced to bring charges they always seem to find a way to lose the case!  It is up to the working class to immediately organize its own political parties, 100% independent of any kind of support from or for the capitalist class as the necessary precursor to waging effective class warfare to crush the fascist scum in the egg.  If we do not successfully do this, we will see the fascist gangs growing larger and becoming bolder and bolder until the probability of a fascist takeover of the US Government becomes a certainty.  Anyone who vacillates in the face of this mortal threat to every decent working class man, woman and child in this country is a traitor to the working class!  The unions must be mobilized to bring their power in full force to smash this growing menace. If the pro-Democratic Party misleadership of the unions refuses to do so, it must be kicked out and replaced by intelligent, militant workers who understand the existential threat represented by the rise of fascism in the USA.  The next time we confront these fascist scum we must drive them so far into the ground that they dare not show their faces again.

If you agree with us, join us!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

 

 

 

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: February 1917 – The Collapse of Czarism

We had originally intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great October Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 by publishing articles month-by-month describing that month’s events as captured by one of the great Bolshevik leaders of 1917 Leon Trotsky in his incomparable “History of the Russian Revolution”.  For a number of reasons both technical and personal we have been unable to do this; however we hope to catch up with events in the next few days so we can get back on track with this series.

This installment goes back to February of 1917 and shows that the support for the Tsarist regime had completely collapsed long before Lenin, Trotsky and the other leading exiles had even returned to Russia.  The army, demoralized by the complete inability of the regime to supply it with even the most basic necessities at the front, had largely ceased to obey the orders of the generals.  The urban intelligentsia too sought nothing less than a constitutional monarchy with some kind of parliamentary system.  The working class and peasantry, bled white by the war, had become completely insurrectionary.  There was not a square foot of soil of Russia on which the Tsar and his regime could find firm footing or a place of safe refuge, as we shall see.

Contrary to the lying propaganda which we have always been subjected to by the anti-communist US Govt and its hireling historians, the Russian Revolution was not some kind of secret coup plot hatched by the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s tutelage.  The Russian Revolution occurred because it was simply no longer possible for the people of Russia to go on living in the old ways under the old regime for one day longer.  No small workers party – as the Bolshevik Party was in February 1917 – can magically stage a successful overthrow of any government without the support of at least a large section of the working class and the military – and in the case of Russia, the peasantry as well.  It was precisely the fact that the Bolsheviks alone among all the many contending political parties in Russia possessed the well-thought out revolutionary Marxist programme for the overthrow of Tsarism and the establishment of an egalitarian socialist workers republic that was necessary to obtain the support of the long-suffering Russian workers, soldiers and peasants.   Without a revolutionary Leninist vanguard party possessed of a truly revolutionary Marxist/Leninist programme it would have been impossible for the Bolshevik Revolution to occur; and it is as true today as it was in 1917 that until the workers of the United States organize themselves into a revolutionary socialist Leninist/Trotskyist vanguard party and successfully overthrows the rule of the US capitalist class – the most bloodthirsty regime on the planet today – we will remain trapped in the human slaughterhouse of imperialist capitalism until the next World War brings the entire human race to the brink of destruction.  The creation of a revolutionary socialist vanguard party of the working class right here in the USA is the most important task of our lifetimes.

This chapter of Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” describes how power was steadily stripped out of the hands of the Tsar and his ruling clique in February-March of 1917 by the insurgent workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia, with the Bolshevik Party playing just a small but very important and influential role among only a thin layer of the most politically advanced workers and soldiers.  The entire book can be read online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/index.htm  Our text is taken from this online version.  Enjoy!

— IWPCHI

***********************************

Chapter 6
The Death Agony
of the Monarchy

 

The dynasty fell by shaking, like rotten fruit, before the revolution even had time to approach its first problems. Our portrayal of the old ruling class would remain incomplete if we did not try to show how the monarchy met the hour of its fall.

The czar was at headquarters at Moghilev, having gone there not because he was needed, but in flight from the Petrograd disorders. The court chronicler, General Dubensky, with the czar at headquarters, noted in his diary: “A quiet life begins here. Everything will remain as before. Nothing will come of his (the czar’s) presence. Only accidental external causes will change anything …” On February 24, the czarina wrote Nicholas at headquarters, in English as always: “I hope that Duma man Kedrinsky (she means Kerensky) will be hung for his horrible speeches-it is necessary (war-time law) and it will be an example. All are thirsting and beseeching that you show your firmness.” On February 25, a telegram came from the Minister of War that strikes were occurring in the capital, disorders beginning among the workers, but measures had been taken and there was nothing serious. In a word: “It isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last!”

The czarina, who had always taught the czar not to yield, here too tried to remain firm. On the 26th, with an obvious desire to hold up the shaky courage of Nicholas, she telegraphs him: “It is calm in the city.” But in her evening telegram she has to confess: “Things are not going at all well in the city.” In a letter she says: “You must say to the workers that they must not declare strikes, if they do, they will be sent to the front as a punishment. There is no need at all of shooting. Only order is needed, and not to let them cross the bridges.” Yes, only a little thing is needed, only order! But the chief thing is not to admit the workers into the city-let them choke in the raging impotence of their suburbs.

On the morning of the 27th, General Ivanov moves from the front with the Battalion of St. George, entrusted with dictatorial powers – which he is to make public, however, only upon occupying Tsarskoe Selo. “It would be hard to imagine a more unsuitable person.” General Denikin will recall later, himself having taken a turn at military dictatorship, “a flabby old man, meagrely grasping the political situation, possessing neither strength, nor energy, nor will, nor austerity.” The choice fell upon Ivanov through memories of the first revolution. Eleven years before that he had subdued Kronstadt. But those years had left their traces; the subduers had grown flabby, the subdued, strong. The northern and western fronts were ordered to get ready troops for the march on Petrograd; evidently everybody thought there was plenty of time ahead. Ivanov himself assumed that the affair would be ended soon and successfully; he even remembered to send out an adjutant to buy provisions in Moghilev for his friends in Petrograd.

On the morning of February 27, Rodzianko sent the czar a new telegram, which ended with the words: “The last hour has come when the fate of the fatherland and the dynasty is being decided.” The czar said to his Minister of the Court, Frederiks: “Again that fat-bellied Rodzianko has written me a lot of nonsense, which I won’t even bother to answer.” But no. It was not nonsense. He will have to answer.

About noon of the 27th, headquarters received a report from Khabalov of the mutiny of the Pavlovsky, Volynsky, Litovsky and Preobrazhensky regiments, and the necessity of sending reliable troops from the front. An hour later from the War Ministry came a most reassuring telegram: “The disorders which began this morning in certain military units are being firmly and energetically put down by companies and battalions loyal to their duty … I am firmly convinced of an early restoration of tranquility.” However, a little after seven in the evening, the same minister, Belyaev, is reporting that “We are not succeeding in putting down the military rebellion with the few detachments that remain loyal to their duty,” and requesting a speedy dispatch of really reliable troops-and that too in sufficient numbers “for simultaneous activity in different parts of the city.”

The Council of Ministers deemed this a suitable day to remove from their midst the presumed cause of all misfortunes – the half-crazy Minister of the Interior Protopopov. At the same time General Khabalov issued an edict – prepared in secrecy from the government – declaring Petrograd, on His Majesty’s orders, under martial law. So here too was an attempt to mix hot with cold – hardly intentional, however, and anyway of no use. They did not even succeed in pasting up the declaration of martial law through the city: the burgomaster, Balka, could find neither paste nor brushes. Nothing would stick together for those functionaries any longer; they already belonged to the kingdom of shades.

The principal shade of the last czarist ministry was the seventy-year old Prince Golytsin, who had formerly conducted some sort of eleemosynary institutions of the czarina, and had been advanced by her to the post of head of the government in a period of war and revolution. When friends asked this “good-natured Russian squire, this old weakling” – as the liberal Baron Nolde described him – why he accepted such a troublesome position, Golytsin answered: “So as to have one more pleasant recollection.” This aim, at any rate, he did not achieve. How the last czarist government felt in those hours is attested by Rodzianko in the following tale: With the first news of the movement of a crowd toward the Mariinsky Palace, where the Ministry was in session, all the lights in the building were immediately put out. (The government wanted only one thing – that the revolution should not notice it.) The rumour, however, proved false; the attack did not take place; and when the lights were turned on, one of the members of the czarist government was found “to his own surprise” under the table. What kind of recollections he was accumulating there has not been established.

But Rodzianko’s own feelings apparently were not at their highest point. After a long but vain hunt for the government by telephone, the President of the Duma tries again to ring up Prince Golytsin. The latter answers him: “I beg you not to come to me with anything further, I have resigned.” Hearing this news, Rodzianko, according to his loyal secretary, sank heavily in an armchair and covered his face with both hands.

My “God, how horrible! … Without a government … Anarchy … Blood …” and softly wept. At the expiring of the senile ghost of the czarist power Rodzianko felt unhappy, desolate, orphaned. How far he was at that moment from the thought that tomorrow he would have to “ head” a revolution!

The telephone answer of Golytsin is explained by the fact that on the evening of the 27th the Council of Ministers had definitely acknowledged itself incapable of handling the situation, and proposed to the czar to place at the head of the government a man enjoying general confidence. The czar answered Golytsin: “In regard to changes in the personal staff in the present circumstances, I consider that inadmissible. Nicholas.” Just what circumstances was he waiting for? At the same time the czar demanded that they adopt “the most decisive measures” for putting down the rebellion. That was easier said than done.

On the next day, the 28th, even the untamable czarina at last loses heart. “Concessions are necessary,” she telegraphs Nicholas. “The strikes continue; many troops have gone over to the side of the revolution. Alex.”

It required an insurrection of the whole guard, the entire garrison, to compel this Hessian zealot of autocracy to agree that “concessions are necessary.” Now the czar also begins to suspect that the “fat-bellied Rodzianko” had not telegraphed nonsense. Nicholas decides to join his family. It is possible that he is a little gently pushed from behind by the generals of the staff, too, who are not feeling quite comfortable.

The czar’s train travelled at first without mishap. Local chiefs and governors came out as usual to meet him. Far from the revolutionary whirlpool, in his accustomed royal car, surrounded by the usual suite, the czar apparently again lost a sense of the close coming crisis. At three o’clock on the 28th, when the events had already settled his fate, he sent a telegram to the czarina from Vyazma: “Wonderful weather. Hope you are well and calm. Many troops sent from the front. With tender love. Niki.” Instead of the concessions, upon which even the czarina is insisting, the tenderly loving czar is sending troops from the front. But in spite of that “wonderful weather,” in just a few hours the czar will stand face to face with the revolutionary storm. His train went as far as the Visher station. The railroad workers would not let it go farther: “The bridge is damaged.” Most likely this pretext was invented by the courtiers themselves in order to soften the situation. Nicholas tried to make his way, or they tried to get him through, by way of Bologoe on the Nikolaevsk railroad; but here, too, the workers would not let the train pass. This was far more palpable than all the Petrograd telegrams. The Czar had broken away from headquarters, and could not make his way to the capital. With its simple railroad “pawns” the revolution had cried “check” to the king!

The court historian Dubensky, who accompanied the Czar in his train, writes in his diary: “ Everybody realises that this midnight turn at Visher is a historical night … To me it is perfectly clear that the question of a constitution is settled; it will surely be introduced … Everybody is saying that it is only necessary to strike a bargain with them, with the members of the Provisional Government.” Facing a lowered semaphore, behind which mortal danger is thickening, Count Frederiks, Prince Dolgoruky, Count Leuchtenberg, all of them, all those high lords, are now for a constitution. They no longer think of struggling. It is only necessary to strike a bargain, that is, try to fool them again as in 1905.

While the train was wandering and finding no road, the Czarina was sending the Czar telegram after telegram, appealing to him to return as soon as possible. But her telegrams came back to her from the office with the inscription in blue pencil: “Whereabouts of the addressee unknown.” The telegraph clerks were unable to locate the Russian czar.

The regiments marched with music and banners to the Tauride Palace. A company of the Guards marched under the command of Cyril Vladimirovich, who had quite suddenly, according to Countess Kleinmichel, developed a revolutionary streak. The sentries disappeared. The intimates were abandoning the palace. “Everybody was saving himself who could,” relates Vyrubova. Bands of revolutionary soldiers wandered about the palace and with eager curiosity looked over everything. Before they had decided up above what should be done, the lower ranks were converting the palace of the Czar into a museum.

The Czar – his location unknown – turns back to Pskov, to the headquarters of the northern front, commanded by the old General Ruszky. In the czar’s suite one suggestion follows another. The Czar procrastinates. He is still reckoning in days and weeks, while the revolution is keeping its count in minutes.

The poet Blok characterised the Czar during the last months of the monarchy as follows: “Stubborn, but without will; nervous, but insensitive to everything; distrustful of people, taut and cautious in speech, he was no longer master of himself. He had ceased to understand the situation, and did not take one clearly conscious step, but gave himself over completely into the hands of those whom he himself had placed in power.” And how much these traits of tautness and lack of will, cautiousness and distrust, were to increase during the last days of February and first days of March!

Nicholas finally decided to send – and nevertheless evidently did not send – a telegram to the hated Rodzianko stating that for the salvation of the fatherland he appointed him to form a new ministry, reserving, however, the ministries of foreign affairs, war and marine for himself. The Czar still hoped to bargain with “them”: the “many troops,” after all, were on their way to Petrograd.

General Ivanov actually arrived without hindrance at Tsarskoe Selo: evidently the railroad workers did not care to come in conflict with the Battalion of St. George. The general confessed later that he had three or four times found it necessary on the march to use fatherly influence with the lower ranks, who were impudent to him: he made them get down on their knees. Immediately upon the arrival of the “dictator” in Tsarskoe Selo, the local authorities informed him that an encounter between the Battalion of St. George and the troops would mean danger to the czar’s family. They were simply afraid for themselves, and advised the dictator to go back without detraining.

General Ivanov telegraphed to the other “dictator,” Khabalov, in Petrograd ten questions, to which he received succinct answers: We will quote them in full, for they deserve it:

Ivanov’s questions: Khabalov’s replies:
1. How many troops are in order and how many are misbehaving? 1. I have at my disposal in the Admiralty building four companies of the Guard, five squadrons of cavalry and Cossacks, and two batteries the rest of the troops have gone over to the revolutionists, or by agreement with them are remaining neutral. Soldiers are wandering through the towns singly or in bands disarming officers.
2. Which railroad stations are guarded? 2. All the stations are in the hands of the revolutionists and strictly guarded by them.
3. In what parts of the city is order preserved? 3. The whole city is in the hands of the revolutionists. The telephone is not working, there is no communication between different parts of the city.
4. What authorities are governing the different parts of the city? 4. I cannot answer this question.
5. Are all the ministries functioning properly? 5. The ministers have been arrested by the revolutionists.
6. What police forces are at your disposal at the present moment? 6. None whatever .
7. What technical and supply institutions of the War Department are now in your control? 7. I have none.
8. What quantity of provisions at is at your disposal? 8. There are no provisions my disposal. In the city on February 5 there were 5,600,000 pounds of flour in store.
9. Have many weapons, artillery and military stores fallen into the hands of the mutineers? 9. All the artillery establishments are in the hands of the revolutionists.
10. What military forces and the staffs are in your control? 10. The chief of the Staff of District is in my personal control. With the other district administrations I have no connections.

Having received this unequivocal illumination as to the situation, General Ivanov “agreed” to turn back his echelon without detraining to the station “Dno.” [1] “Thus,” concludes one of the chief personages of the staff, General Lukomsky, “nothing came of the expedition of General Ivanov with dictatorial powers but a public disgrace.”

That disgrace, incidentally, was a very quiet one, sinking unnoticed in the billowing events. The dictator, we may suppose, delivered the provisions to his friends in Petrograd, and had a long chat with the Czarina. She referred to her self-sacrificing work in the hospitals, and complained of the ingratitude of the army and the people.

During this time news was arriving at Pskov by way of Moghilev, blacker and blacker. His Majesty’s own bodyguard, in which every soldier was known by name and coddled by the royal family, turned up at the State Duma asking permission to arrest those officers who had refused to take part in the insurrection. Vice-Admiral Kurovsky reported that he found it impossible to take any measures to put down the insurrection at Kronstadt, since he could not vouch for the loyalty of a single detachment. Admiral Nepenin telegraphed that the Baltic Fleet had recognised the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. The Moscow commander-in-chief, Mrozovsky, telegraphed: “A majority of the troops have gone over with artillery to the revolutionists. The whole town is therefore in their hands. The burgomaster and his aide have left the city hall.” Have left means that they fled.

All this was communicated to the Czar on the evening of March 1. Deep into the night they coaxed and argued about a responsible ministry. Finally, at two o’clock in the morning the Czar gave his consent, and those around him drew a sigh of relief. Since they took it for granted that this would settle the problem of the revolution, an order was issued at the same time that the troops which had been sent to Petrograd to put down the insurrection should return to the front. Ruszky hurried at dawn to convey the good news to Rodzianko. But the czar’s clock was way behind. Rodzianko in the Tauride Palace, already buried under a pile of democrats, socialists, soldiers, workers’ deputies, replied to Ruszky: “Your proposal is not enough; it is now a question of the dynasty itself. . . . Everywhere the troops are taking the side of the Duma, and the people are demanding an abdication in favour of the Heir with Mikhail Alexandrovich as regent.” Of course. the troops never thought of demanding either the Heir or Mikhail Alexandrovich. Rodzianko merely attributed to the troops and the people that slogan upon which the Duma was still hoping to stop the revolution. But in either case the Czar’s concession had come too late: “The anarchy has reached such proportions that I (Rodzianko) was this night compelled to appoint a Provisional Government. Unfortunately, the edict has come too late …” These majestic words bear witness that the President of the Duma had succeeded in drying the tears shed over Golytsin. The czar read the conversation between Rodzianko and Ruszky, and hesitated, read it over again, and decided to wait. But now the military chiefs had begun to sound the alarm: the matter concerned them too a little!

General Alexeiev carried out during the hours of that night a sort of plebiscite among the commanders-in-chief at the fronts. It is a good thing present-day revolutions are accomplished with the help of the telegraph, so that the very first impulses and reactions of those in power are preserved to history on the tape. The conversations of the czarist field-marshals on the night of March 1-2 are an incomparable human document. Should the czar abdicate or not? The commander-in-chief of the western front, General Evert, consented to give his opinion only after Generals Ruszky and Brussilov had expressed themselves. The commander-in-chief of the Roumanian front, General Sakharov, demanded that before he express himself the conclusions of all the other commanders-in-chief should be communicated to him. After long delays this valiant chieftain announced that his warm love for the monarch would not permit his soul to reconcile itself with an acceptance of the “base suggestion”; nevertheless, “with sobs” he advised the Czar to abdicate in order to avoid “still viler pretensions.” Adjutant-General Evert quite reasonably explained the necessity for capitulation: “I am taking all measures to prevent information as to the present situation in the capital from penetrating the army, in order to protect it against indubitable disturbances. No means exist for putting down the revolution in the capitals.” Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolajevich on the Caucasian front beseeched the Czar on bended knee to adopt the “supermeasure” and renounce the throne. A similar prayer came from Generals Alexeiev and Brussilov and Admiral Nepenin. Ruszky spoke orally to the same effect. The generals respectfully presented seven revolver barrels to the temple of the adored monarch. Fearing to let slip the moment for reconciliation with the new power, and no less fearing their own troops, these military chieftains, accustomed as they were to surrendering positions, gave the czar and the High Commander-in-Chief a quite unanimous counsel: retire without fighting. This was no longer distant Petrograd against which, as it seemed, one might send troops; this was the front from which the troops had to be borrowed.

Having listened to this suggestively circumstanced report, the Czar decided to abdicate the throne which he no longer possessed. A telegram to Rodzianko suitable to the occasion was drawn up: “There is no sacrifice that I would not make in the name of the real welfare and salvation of my native mother Russia. Thus I am ready to abdicate the throne in favor of my son, and in order that he may remain with me until he is of age, under the regency of my brother, Mikhail Alexandrovich. Nicholas.” This telegram too, however, was not dispatched, for news came from the capital of the departure for Pskov of the deputies Guchkov and Shulgin. This offered a new pretext to postpone the decision. The Czar ordered the telegram returned to him. He obviously dreaded to sell too cheap, and still hoped for comforting news – or more accurately, hoped for a miracle. Nicholas received the two deputies at twelve o’clock midnight March 2-8. The miracle did not come, and it was impossible to evade longer. The czar unexpectedly announced that he could not part with his son – what vague hopes were then wandering in his head? – and signed an abdication in favor of his brother. At the same time edicts to the Senate were signed, naming Prince Lvov President of the Council of Ministers, and Nikolai Nikolaievich Supreme Commander-in-Chief. The family suspicions of the czarina seemed to have been justified: the hated “Nikolasha” came back to power along with the conspirators. Guchkov apparently seriously believed that the revolution would accept the Most August War Chief. The latter also accepted his appointment in good faith. He even tried for a few days to give some kind of orders and make appeals for the fulfillment of patriotic duty. However the revolution painlessly removed him.

In order to preserve the appearance of a free act, the abdication was dated three o’clock in the afternoon, on the pretense that the original decision of the Czar to abdicate had taken place at that hour. But as a matter of fact that afternoon’s “decision,” which gave the sceptre to his son and not to his brother, had been taken back in anticipation of a more favorable turn of the wheel. Of that, however, nobody spoke out loud. The Czar made a last effort to save his face before the hated deputies, who upon their part permitted this falsification of a historic act – this deceiving of the people. The monarchy retired from the scene preserving its usual style; and its successors also remained true to themselves. They probably even regarded their connivance as the magnanimity of a conqueror to the conquered.

Departing a little from the phlegmatic style of his diary, Nicholas writes on March 2: “This morning Ruszky came and read me a long conversation over the wire with Rodzianko. According to his words the situation in Petrograd is such that a ministry of the members of the State Duma will be powerless to do anything, for it is being opposed by the social-democratic party in the person of a workers’ committee. My abdication is necessary. Ruszky transmitted this conversation to Alexeiev at headquarters and to all the commanders-in-chief. Answers arrived at 12.30. To save Russia and keep the army at the front, I decided upon this step. I agreed, and they sent from headquarters the text of an abdication. In the evening came Guchkov and Shulgin from Petrograd, with whom I talked it over and gave them the document amended and signed. At 1 o’clock in the morning I left Pskov with heavy feelings; around me treason, cowardice, deceit.”

The bitterness of Nicholas was, we must confess, not without foundation. It was only as short a time ago as February 28, that General Alexeiev had telegraphed to all the commanders-in-chief at the front: “ Upon us all lies a sacred duty before the sovereign and the fatherland to preserve loyalty to oath and duty in the troops of the active army.” Two days later Alexeiev appealed to these same commanders-in-chief to violate their “loyalty to oath and duty.” In all the commanding staff there was not found one man to take action in behalf of his Czar. They all hastened to transfer to the ship of the revolution, firmly expecting to find comfortable cabins there. Generals and admirals one and all removed the czarist braid and put on the red ribbon. There was news subsequently of one single righteous soul, some commander of a corps, who died of heart failure taking the new oath. But it is not established that his heart failed through injured monarchist feelings, and not through other causes. The civil officials naturally were not obliged to show more courage than the military – each one was saving himself as he could.

But the clock of the monarchy decidedly did not coincide with the revolutionary clocks. At dawn of March 8, Ruszky was again summoned to the direct wire from the capital: Rodzianko and Prince Lvov were demanding that he hold up the czar’s abdication, which had again proved too late. The installation of Alexei – said the new authorities evasively – might perhaps be accepted – by whom? – but the installation of Mikhail was absolutely unacceptable. Ruszky with some venom expressed his regret that the deputies of the Duma who had arrived the night before had not been sufficiently informed as to the aims and purposes of their journey. But here too the deputies had their justification. “Unexpectedly to us all there broke out such a soldiers’ rebellion as I never saw the like of,” explained the Lord Chamberlain to Ruszky, as though he had done nothing all his life but watch soldiers’ rebellions. “To proclaim Mikhail emperor would pour oil on the fire and there would begin a ruthless extermination of everything that can be exterminated.” How it whirls and shakes and bends and contorts them all!

The generals silently swallowed this new “vile pretension” of the revolution. Alexeiev alone slightly relieved his spirit in a telegraphic bulletin to the commanders-in-chief: “The left parties and the workers’ deputies are exercising a powerful pressure upon the President of the Duma, and there is no frankness or sincerity in the communications of Rodzianko.” The only thing lacking to the generals in those hours was sincerity.

But at this point the Czar again changed his mind. Arriving in Moghilev from Pskov, he handed to his former chief-of-staff, Alexeiev, for transmission to Petrograd, a sheet of paper with his consent to the handing over of the sceptre to his son. Evidently he found this combination in the long run more promising. Alexeiev, according to Denikin’s story, went away with the telegram and … did not send it. He thought that those two manifestos which had already been published to the army and the country were enough. The discord arose from the fact that not only the Czar and his counsellors, but also the Duma liberals, were thinking more slowly than the revolution.

Before his final departure from Moghilev on March 8, the Czar, already under formal arrest, wrote an appeal to the troops ending with these words: “Whoever thinks now of peace, whoever desires it, that man is a traitor to the fatherland, its betrayer.” This was in the nature of a prompted attempt to snatch out of the hands of liberalism the accusation of Germanophilism. The attempt had no result: they did not even dare publish the appeal.

Thus ended a reign which had been a continuous chain of ill luck, failure, misfortune, and evil-doing, from the Khodynka catastrophe during the coronation, through the shooting of strikers and revolting peasants, the Russo-Japanese war, the frightful putting-down of the revolution of 1905, the innumerable executions, punitive expeditions and national pogroms and ending with the insane and contemptible participation of Russia in the insane and contemptible world war.

Upon arriving at Tsarskoe Selo, where he and his family were confined in the palace, the czar, according to Vyrubova, softly said: “There is no justice among men.” But those very words irrefutably testify that historic justice, though it comes late, does exist.


The similarity of the Romanov couple to the French royal pair of the epoch of the Great Revolution is very obvious. It has already been remarked in literature, but only in passing and without drawing inferences. Nevertheless it is not at all accidental, as appears at the first glance, but offers valuable material for an inference.

Although separated from each other by five quarter centuries, the Czar and the King were at certain moments like two actors playing the same rôle. A passive, patient, but vindictive treachery was the distinctive trait of both – with this difference, that in Louis it was disguised with a dubious kindliness, in Nicholas with affability. They both make the impression of people who are overburdened by their job, but at the same time unwilling to give up even a part of those rights of which they are unable to make any use. The diaries of both, similar in style or lack of style, reveal the same depressing spiritual emptiness.

The Austrian woman and the Hessian German form also a striking symmetry. Both Queens stand above their Kings, not only in physical but also in moral growth. Marie Antoinette was less pious than Alexandra Feodorovna, and unlike the latter was passionately fond of pleasures. But both alike scorned the people, could not endure the thought of concessions, alike mistrusted the courage of their husbands, looking down upon them – Antoinette with a shade of contempt, Alexandra with pity.

When the authors of memoirs, approaching the Petersburg court of their day, assure us that Nicholas II, had he been a private individual, would have left a good memory behind him, they merely reproduce the long-ago stereotyped remarks about Louis XVI, not enriching in the least our knowledge either of history or of human nature.

We have already seen how Prince Lvov became indignant when, at the height of the tragic events of the first revolution, instead of a depressed Czar, he found before him a “jolly, sprightly little man in a raspberry-coloured shirt.” Without knowing it, the prince merely repeated the comment of Gouvernor Morris writing in Washington in 1790 about Louis: “What will you have from a creature who, situated as he is, eats and drinks and sleeps well, and laughs and is as merry a grig as lives?”

When Alexandra Feodorovna, three months before the fall of the monarchy, prophesies: “All is coming out for the best, the dreams of our Friend mean so much!” she merely repeats Marie Antoinette, who one month before the overthrow of the royal power wrote: “ I feel a liveliness of spirit, and something tells me that we shall soon be happy and safe.” They both see rainbow dreams as they drown.

Certain elements of similarity of course are accidental, and have the interest only of historic anecdotes. Infinitely more important are those traits of character which have been grafted, or more directly imposed, on a person by the mighty force of conditions, and which throw a sharp light on the interrelation of personality and the objective factors of history.

“He did not know how to wish: that was his chief trait of character,” says a reactionary French historian of Louis. Those words might have been written of Nicholas: neither of them knew how to wish, but both knew how to not wish. But what really could be “wished” by the last representatives of a hopelessly lost historic cause? “Usually he listened, smiled, and rarely decided upon anything. His first word was usually No.” Of whom is that written? Again of Capet. But if this is so, the manners of Nicholas were an absolute plagiarism. They both go toward the abyss “with the crown pushed down over their eyes.” But would it after all be easier to go to an abyss, which you cannot escape anyway, with your eyes open? What difference would it have made, as a matter of fact, if they had pushed the crown way back on their heads?

Some professional psychologist ought to draw up an anthology of the parallel expressions of Nicholas and Louis, Alexandra and Antoinette, and their courtiers. There would be no lack of material, and the result would be a highly instructive historic testimony in favor of the materialist psychology. Similar (of course, far from identical) irritations in similar conditions call out similar reflexes; the more powerful the irritation, the sooner it overcomes personal peculiarities. To a tickle, people react differently, but to a red-hot iron, alike. As a steam-hammer converts a sphere and a cube alike into sheet metal, so under the blow of too great and inexorable events resistances are smashed and the boundaries of “individuality” lost.

Louis and Nicholas were the last-born of a dynasty that had lived tumultuously. The well-known equability of them both, their tranquillity and “gaiety ” in difficult moments, were the well-bred expression of a meagreness of inner powers, a weakness of the nervous discharge, poverty of spiritual resources. Moral castrates, they were absolutely deprived of imagination and creative force. They had just enough brains to feel their own triviality, and they cherished an envious hostility toward everything gifted and significant. It fell to them both to rule a country in conditions of deep inner crisis and popular revolutionary awakening. Both of them fought off the intrusion of new ideas, and the tide of hostile forces. Indecisiveness, hypocrisy, and lying were in both cases the expression, not so much of personal weakness, as of the complete impossibility of holding fast to their hereditary positions.

And how was it with their wives? Alexandra, even more than Antoinette, was lifted to the very heights of the dreams of a princess, especially such a rural one as this Hessian, by her marriage with the unlimited despot of a powerful country. Both of them were filled to the brim with the consciousness of their high mission: Antoinette more frivolously, Alexandra in a spirit of Protestant bigotry translated into the Slavonic language of the Russian Church. An unlucky reign and a growing discontent of the people ruthlessly destroyed the fantastic world which these two enterprising but nevertheless chicken-like heads had built for themselves. Hence the growing bitterness, the gnawing hostility to an alien people that would not bow before them; the hatred toward ministers who wanted to give even a little consideration to that hostile world, to the country; hence their alienation even from their own court, and their continued irritation against a husband who had not fulfilled the expectations aroused by him as a bridegroom.

Historians and biographers of the psychological tendency not infrequently seek and find something purely personal and accidental where great historical forces are refracted through a personality. This is the same fault of vision as that of the courtiers who considered the last Russian Czar born “unlucky.” He himself believed that he was born under an unlucky star. In reality his ill-luck flowed from the contradictions between those old aims which he inherited from his ancestors and the new historic conditions in which he was placed. When the ancients said that Jupiter first makes mad those who whom he wishes to destroy, they summed up in superstitious form a profound historic observation. In the saying of Goethe about reason becoming nonsense – “Vernunft wird Unsinn” – this same thought is expressed about the impersonal Jupiter of the historical dialectic, which withdraws “reason” from historic institutions that have outlived themselves and condemns their defenders to failure. The scripts for the rôles of Romanov and Capet were prescribed by the general development of the historic drama; only the nuances of interpretation fell to the lot of the actors. The ill-luck of Nicholas, as of Louis, had its roots not in his personal horoscope, but in the historical horoscope of the bureaucratic-caste monarchy. They were both, chiefly and above all, the last-born offspring of absolutism. Their moral insignificance, deriving from their dynastic epigonism, gave the latter an especially malignant character.

You might object: if Alexander III had drunk less he might have lived a good deal longer, the revolution would have run into a very different make of czar, and no parallel with Louis XVI would have been possible. Such an objection, however, does not refute in the least what has been said above. We do not at all pretend to deny the significance of the personal in the mechanics of the historic process, nor the significance in the personal of the accidental. We only demand that a historic personality, with all its peculiarities, should not be taken as a bare list of psychological traits, but as a living reality grown out of definite social conditions and reacting upon them. As a rose does not lose its fragrance because the natural scientist points out upon what ingredients of soil and atmosphere it is nourished, so an exposure of the social roots of a personality does not remove from it either its aroma or its foul smell.

The consideration advanced above about a possible long life of Alexander III is capable of illuming this very problem from another side. Let us assume that this Alexander III had not become mixed up in 1904 in a war with Japan. This would have delayed the first revolution. For how long? It is possible that the “revolution of 1905” – that is, the first test of strength the first breach in the system of absolutism – would have been a mere introduction to the second, republican, and the third, proletarian revolution. Upon this question more or less interesting guesses are possible, but it is indubitable in any case that the revolution did not result from the character of Nicholas II, and that Alexander III would not have solved its problem. It is enough to remember that nowhere and never was the transition from the feudal to the bourgeois régime made without violent disturbances. We saw this only yesterday in China; today we observe it again in India. The most we can say is that this or that policy of the monarchy, this or that personality of the monarch, might have hastened or postponed the revolution and placed a certain imprint on its external course.

With what angry and impotent stubbornness charisma tried to defend itself in those last months, weeks and days, when its game was hopelessly lost! If Nicholas himself lacked the will the lack was made up by the Czarina. Rasputin was an instrument of the action of a clique which rabidly fought for self-preservation. Even on this narrow scale the personality of the Czar merges in a group which represents the coagulum of the past and its last convulsion. The “policy” of the upper circles a Tsarskoe Selo, face to face with the revolution, were but the reflexes of a poisoned and weak beast of prey. If you chase a wolf over the steppe in an automobile, the beast gives out at last and lies down impotent. But attempt to put a collar on him and he will try to tear you to pieces, or at least wound you.  And indeed what else can he do in the circumstances?

The liberals imagined there was something else he might do. Instead of coming to an agreement with the enfranchised bourgeoisie in good season and thus preventing the revolution — such is liberalism’s act of accusation against the last czar – Nicholas stubbornly shrank from concessions, and even in the last days when already under the knife of destiny, when every minute was to be counted, still kept on procrastinating, bargaining with fate, and letting slip the last possibilities. This all sounds convincing. But how unfortunate that liberalism, knowing so accurately how to save the monarchy, did not know how to save itself!

It would be absurd to maintain that czarism never and in no circumstances made concessions. It made them when they were demanded by the necessity of self-preservation. After the Crimean defeat, Alexander II carried out the semi-liberation of the peasants and a series of liberal reforms in the sphere of land administration, courts, press, educational institutions, etc. The czar himself expressed the guiding thought of this reformation: to free the peasants from above lest they free themselves from below. Under the drive of the first revolution Nicholas II granted a semi-constitution. Stolypin scrapped the peasant communes in order to broaden the arena of the capitalist forces. For czarism, however, all these reforms had a meaning only in so far as the partial concession preserved the whole – that is, the foundations of a caste society and the monarchy itself. When the consequences of the reform began to splash over those boundaries the monarchy inevitably beat a retreat. Alexander II in the second half of his reign stole back the reforms of the first half. Alexander III went still farther on the road of counter-reform. Nicholas II in October 1905 retreated before the revolution, and then afterward dissolved the Dumas created by it, and as soon as the revolution grew weak, made his coup d’état. Throughout three-quarters of a century – if we begin with the reform of Alexander II – there developed a struggle of historic forces, now underground, now in the open, far transcending the personal qualities of the separate Czars, and accomplishing the overthrow of the monarchy. Only within the historic framework of this process can you find a place for individual Czars, their characters, their “biographies.”

Even the most despotic of autocrats is but little similar to a “free” individuality laying its arbitrary imprint upon events. He is always the crowned agent of the privileged classes which are forming society in their own image. When these classes have not yet fulfilled their mission, then the monarchy is strong and self-confident. Then it has in its hands a reliable apparatus power and an unlimited choice of executives –because the more gifted people have not yet gone over into the hostile camp. Then the monarch, either personally, or through the mediation of a powerful favorite, may become the agent of a great and progressive historic task. It is quite otherwise when the sun of the old society is finally declining to the west. The privileged classes are now changed from organisers of the national life into a parasitic growth; having lost their guiding function, they lose the consciousness of their mission and all confidence in their powers. Their dissatisfaction with themselves becomes a dissatisfaction with the monarchy; the dynasty becomes isolated; the circle of people loyal to the death narrows down; their level sinks lower; meanwhile the dangers grow; new force are pushing up; the monarchy loses its capacity for any kin of creative initiative; it defends itself, it strikes back, it retreats; its activities acquire the automatism of mere reflexes. The semi Asiatic despotism of the Romanovs did not escape this fate.

If you take the czarism in its agony, in a vertical section, so to speak, Nicholas is the axis of a clique which has its roots the hopelessly condemned past. In a horizontal section of the historic monarchy, Nicholas is the last link in a dynastic chain. His nearest ancestors, who also in their day were merged in family, caste and bureaucratic collectivity – only a broader one – tried out various measures and methods of government order to protect the old social régime against the fate advancing upon it. But nevertheless they passed it on to Nicholas a chaotic empire already carrying the matured revolution in its womb. If he had any choice left, it was only between different roads to ruin.

Liberalism was dreaming of a monarchy on the British plan. But was parliamentarism born on the Thames by a peaceful evolution? Was it the fruit of the “free” foresight of a single monarch? No, it was deposited as the result of a struggle that lasted for ages, and in which one of the kings left his head at the crossroads.

The historic-psychological contrast mentioned above between the Romanovs and the Capets can, by the way, be aptly extended to the British royal pair of the epoch of the first revolution. Charles I revealed fundamentally the same combination of traits with which memoirists and historians have endowed Louis XVI and Nicholas II. “Charles, therefore, remained passive,” writes Montague, “yielded where he could not resist, betrayed how unwillingly he did so, and reaped no popularity, no confidence.” “He was not a stupid man,” says another historian of Charles Stuart, “but he lacked firmness of character … His evil fate was his wife, Henrietta, a Frenchwoman, sister of Louis XIII, saturated even more than Charles with the idea of absolutism.” We will not detail the characteristics of this third – chronologically first – royal pair to be crushed by a national revolution. We will merely observe that in England the hatred was concentrated above all on the queen, as a Frenchwoman and a papist, whom they accused of plotting with Rome, secret connections with the Irish rebels, and intrigues at the French court.

But England had, at any rate, ages at her disposal. She was the pioneer of bourgeois civilisation; she was not under the yoke of other nations, but on the contrary held them more and more under her yoke. She exploited the whole world. This softened the inner contradictions, accumulated conservatism, promoted an abundance and stability of fatty deposits in the form of a parasitic caste, in the form of a squirearchy, a monarchy, House of Lords, and the state church. Thanks to this exclusive historic privilege of development possessed by bourgeois England, conservatism combined with elasticity passed over from her institutions into her moral fibre. Various continental Philistines, like the Russian professor Miliukov, or the Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer, have not to this day ceased going into ecstasies over this fact. But exactly at the present moment, when England, hard pressed throughout the world, is squandering the last resources of her former privileged position, her conservatism is losing its elasticity, and even in the person of the Labourites is turning into stark reactionism. In the face of the Indian revolution the “socialist” MacDonald will find no other methods but those with which Nicholas II opposed the Russian revolution. Only a blind man could fail to see that Great Britain is headed for gigantic revolutionary earthquake shocks, in which the last fragments of her conservatism, her world domination, her present state machine, will go down without a trace. MacDonald is preparing these shocks no less successfully than did Nicholas II in time, and no less blindly. So here too, as we see, is no poor illustration of the problem of the rôle of the “free” personality in history.

But how could Russia with her belated development, coming along at the tail end of the European nations, with her meagre economic foundation underfoot, how could she develop an “elastic conservatism” of social forms-and develop it for the special benefit of professorial liberalism and its leftward shadow, reformist socialism? Russia was too far behind. And when world imperialism once took her in its grip, she had to pass through her political history in too brief a course. If Nicholas had gone to meet liberalism and replaced one with Miliukov, the development of events would have differed a little in form, not in substance. Indeed it was just in this way that Louis behaved in the second stage of the revolution, summoning the Gironde to power: this did not save Louis himself from guillotine, nor after him the Gironde. The accumulating social contradictions were bound to break through to the surface, breaking through to carry out their work of purgation. Before the pressure of the popular masses, who had at last brought into the open arena their misfortunes, their pains, intentions, passions, hopes, illusions and aims, the high-up combination of the monarchy with liberalism had only an episodic significance. They could exert, to be sure, an influence on the order of events maybe upon the number of actions, but not at all upon development of the drama nor its momentous climax.


Notes

1. The name of this station is also the Russian word meaning “bottom.” [Trans.]

NY Times Slanders Bolsheviks as “German Agents”: Bolshevik Party Was Funded By Russian Workers

The New York Times – the “newspaper of record” for the US’ east coast capitalist class – has always hated the workers movement.  As part of the US capitalist class’ bought-and-paid-for press, the editors of the Times have consistently excoriated the US workers movement from the time of its inception in the early 19th century to the present day.  They hate the working class and all it stands for and they go so far as to never credit the communist workers movement with any of its many achievements in the USA, from its creation of the modern civil rights movement to its leadership of the CIO during the major class battles of the 1930s that made the trade union movement a force that the US capitalist class had to reckon with.  The New York Times never mentions “communism” or “communists” in anything other than a bad light; even their obituaries of people whose fame was largely due to their prominent role as communsit writers, actors or artists is completely obscured by the editors of the Times.  As a “newspaper of record” it is actually busily falsifying the historical record to expunge any positive contributions attributable to communist activists.  Hey, we don’t call it “the bourgeois press” for nothing.

The New York Times even pretends that he working class – the largest class of human beings in any capitalist society – does not even exist in the USA!  And whenever a major news story occurs in which union workers are involved, the Times never interviews any trade union leader to get her or his version of what happened – even though the union’s perspective on the event is critically important insider information necessary to have in order to understand what exactly happened.

The US’ “newspaper of record” – the New York Times – hates the workers movement so much that they assert that in the USA, the working class doesn’t even exist. Source: NY Times

2017 being the 100th anniversary of the heroic Russian Revolution led by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, the capitalist press is attempting to once again slander the revolution in order to (hopefully) dissuade the 2017 US working class from taking the time to go back and revisit the background of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.  In the US especially, the working class have been taught from the cradle that “communism is bad” and “capitalism is good”.  The fact is that the Russian Revolution of 1917 for the very first time ever created a workers state where the working class was the ruling class, and the capitalist exploiting class was abolished.  It is for this reason only that the bourgeois press of 2017 seeks to bury the memory of the great 1917 Bolshevik workers socialist revolution under a mountain of lies and slander.

This is why the New York Times has decided – as part of a new feature they dub “The Red Century” – to drag the old rotten chestnut of the myth of the passage of Lenin and a party of Bolshevik leaders across wartime Europe from Switzerland to Russia in a “sealed train” to carry out order paid for with “German gold” – out of the dustbin of history and regurgitated it in order to slander the Bolsheviks once again.

The ancient lie that Lenin’s Bolsheviks were “German agents” was never believed by anyone – including the agents of the bourgeois press – back at the time of the revolution.  The political exile Lenin accepted the Germans’  offer of safe passage of himself and his comrades from Switzerland to Russia in the midst of the carnage of WWI so that he and his comrades could take their rightful places as leaders of their parties’ factions in the new government that emerged upon the collapse of the hideous Tsarist regime had nothing at all to do with accepting a role as an agent of the Kaiser’s Germany: the Kaiser, desperate to extricate his regime from a war in which, with the impending entry of the USA into the conflict, could only end in his regime’s defeat, was grasping at straws by the spring of 1917.  Lenin’s Bolsheviks had righteously opposed WWI from its very beginning, and had called for the defeat of the Tsarist war machine and for workers revolution throughout Europe to end the war and overthrow capitalism which had created the conditions that led to the war.  The Kaiser in his vast ignorance and desperation only comprehended that the Bolsheviks had pledged that if they became the ruling power in Russia that they would immediately take steps to pull Russia out of the war; that was all that he cared about.  He saw the possibility of a Russian pullout from participation in WWI as an opportunity for his regime to reallocate his  military forces from the Eastern Front to the Western.  He eagerly lunged for what he believed was a slim chance of victory offered to him by the stupid Bolshevik party and their utopian dream of a socialist revolution in Tsarist Russia.  Never in his wildest dreams did the Kaiser believe that the Bolsheviks would actually follow through on the political program of socialist revolution which the Bolsheviks had expounded since the collapse of the Second International in August, 1914.  Wilhelm granted the Bolsheviks safe passage to Russia in the desperate hope that the Bolsheviks would take Russia out of the war; he calculated that if that happened, he could reallocate his military forces to the west where once he crushed the French and English he would have ample time to crush the Bolsheviks as well.  Lenin knew this from day one and he did not hesitate to take up the Germans’ offer.  “The capitalists will sell the rope that will be used to hang them” was one of Lenin’s basic beliefs; and the Germans’ shortsighted  offer to send Marxist revolutionaries to Russia to overthrow the Tsar in order to obtain a military benefit from a Russian socialist revolution was and is one of the most asinine moves ever made by a ruling monarch.  When Lenin arrived in Russia in April of 1917 he immediately organized his party to not only overthrow the Tsarist regime, but to take power in the name of the Russian working class and peasantry.  This was far more than the Kaiser had bargained for; and the victorious Russian Revolution of 1917 not only knocked the crowns off the heads of the Russian autocrats: it very quickly led to the collapse of the German monarchy as well.  No serious historian would state in 2017 that the Bolsheviks were nothing but “agents of the Kaiser”.  If that was true, what did the Bolsheviks do to defend their “benefactor” when he was facing his own deposition?  In fact, the Bolsheviks did all they could to hasten the collapse of Kaiserdom, organizing a revolutionary Bolshevik party in Germany with express orders to overthrow the capitalist system in Germany as soon as possible.  The Kaiser’s fate was sealed the moment he gave Lenin and his Bolshevik comrades safe passage to Russia in the vain hope that the collapse of Tsarism would lead to the building of a bulwark of support for Kaiserdom!  What a stupid ass he was!  Within a year after October 1917 the Kaiser was forced to abdicate his throne by the revolutionary workers of Germany. inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution!

The whole idea that the Bolshevik Party was funded by “German Gold” is refuted in the following article of 1914, in which Lenin lays out precisely where the financial support of the Bolshevik Party was coming from at that time.  The Bolshevik Party – like all Marxist parties around the world in 1917 – received the vast majority of its’ funding from party membership dues and from sales of the party newspaper.  In this article, Lenin breaks down the revenue his party was receiving in 1914 from the sales of the Bolshevik press and also breaks down what sections of Russian society were actively supporting the Bolshevik Party.  “German gold” was NEVER an important source of Bolshevik finances, ever in the history of the Bolsheviks.  Their money came primarily from the industrial workers of the major industrial centers of Tsarist Russia: from the trade unionists working in the big factories in Russia’s major cities.  The following article was filched from marxists.org.

We must alert our working class readers to the fact that we have been studying the works of Lenin for 30 years and that we have NEVER found even a trace of duplicity or shady deaking in the writings of this heroic leader of the workers of the world.  Lenin’s writings can be taken at face value: he dedicated his entire life to fighting for the emancipation of the workers of the world from the misery of wage-slavery.  You will search in vain for another person who dedicated his or her life more selflessly to the service of he workers of the world.  In Lenin, the workers of he world of the 21st century will find an honest and stalwart advocate.

— IWPCHI

V.I. Lenin –  “The Working Class and Its Press”


Published: Trudovaya Pravda Nos. 14 and 15, June 13 and 14, 1914.
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works.


There is nothing more important to class-conscious workers than to have an understanding of the significance of their movement and a thorough knowledge of it. The only source of strength of the working-class movement—and an invincible one at that—is the class-consciousness of the workers and the broad scope of their struggle, that is, the participation in it of the masses of the wage-workers.

The St. Petersburg Marxist press, which has been in existence for years, publishes exclusive, excellent, indispensable and easily verifiable material on the scope of the working-class movement and the various trends predominating in it. Only those who wish to conceal the truth can ignore this material, as the liberals and liquidators do.

Complete figures concerning the collections made for the Pravdist (Marxist) and liquidationist newspapers in St. Petersburg for the period between January 1 and May 13, 1914, have been compiled by Comrade V.A.T.[3] We publish his table below in full, and shall quote round figures in the body of this article as occasion arises, so as not to burden the reader with statistics.

The following is Comrade V.A.T.’s table. (See pp. 364–65.) First of all we shall deal with the figures showing the number of workers’ groups. These figures cover the whole period of existence of the Pravdist and liquidationist newspapers. Number of workers’ groups:

 
Supporting
the Pravdist
newspapers
Supporting
the liquida-
tionist
newspapers
For 1912 . . . . . . . . . . 620 89
For 1913 . . . . . . . . . . 2,181 661
1914, from Jan. 1 to May 13 . 2,873 671
  Total 5,674 1,421

 

Collections for Marxist (Pravdist) and liquidationist newspapers in St. Petersburg from January 1 to May 13, 1914
Collections
made by
St. Petersburg Moscow Provinces Total
Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist
No.[1] rubles[2] No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles
Workers’
groups . .
2,024 13,943.24 308 2,231.98 130 865.00 25 263.52 719 4,125.86 338 2,800.62 2,873 18,934.10 671 5,296.12
Total from
non-workersincluding:
325 1,256.92 165 1,799.40 46 260.51 24 1,137.30 332 1,082.79 230 2,113.90 713 2,650.01 453 6,759.77
Student and
youth groups
26 369.49 19 292.13 8 119.30 3 21.00 20 162.13 23 317.09 54 650.92 45 630.22
Groups of
“adherents”,
“friends”,
etc.
8 164.00 14 429.25 6 42.10 5 892.00 28 252.72 35 1,129.35 42 458.82 54 2,450.60
Other groups 2 8.00 6 72.60 1 2.00 30 115.29 24 113.52 33 125.29 30 186.12
Individuals 281 650.96 120 966.72 29 63.61 14 197.30 221 332.05 132 443.80 531 1,046.62 266 1,608.32
Unspecified 8 64.47 6 38.70 2 33.50 2 26.50 33 220.60 16 110.14 43 318.57 24 175.34
From abroad 10 49.79 34 1,709.17
Total . . 2,349 15,200.16 473 4,103.38 176 1,125.51 49 1,400.82 1,051 5,208.65 568 4,914.52 3,586 21,584.11 1,124 12,055.89
1 /

 

The total number of groups is 7,095. Of course, there are groups which made several collections, but separate data for these are not available.

We see that only one-fifth of the total number of workers’ groups are in sympathy with the liquidators. In two-and-a-half years, Pravdism, Pravdist decisions and Pravdist tactics have united four-fifths of Russia’s class-conscious workers. This fact of workers’ unity can well bear comparison with the phrases about “unity” uttered by the various grouplets of intellectuals, the Vperyodists, Plekhanovites, Trotskyists, etc., etc.

Let us compare the figures for 1913 and 1914 (those for 1912 are not comparable, because Pravda appeared in April, and Luch five months later). We shall find that the number of Pravdist groups has grown by 692, i. e., 31.7 per cent, whereas the liquidationist groups have gone up by 10, i. e., 1.5 per cent. Hence, the workers’ readiness to support the Pravdist newspapers has grown 20 times as last as their readiness to support the liquidationist newspapers.

Let us see how the workers in various parts of Russia are divided according to trend:

 
per cent of total workers’ groups
{
Pravdist Liquidationist
St. Petersburg . . . . . 86 14
Moscow . . . . . . . . 83 17
Provinces . . . . . . . 68 32

The inference is clear: the more politically developed the masses of the workers are, and the higher their level of class-consciousness and political activity, the higher is the number of Pravdists among them. In St. Petersburg the liquidators have been almost completely dislodged (fourteen out of a hundred); they still have a precarious hold in the provinces (32 out of 100), where the masses are politically less educated.

It is highly instructive to note that figures from an entirely different source, namely, those giving the number of workers’ delegates elected during the Insurance Board elections, tally to a remarkable degree with those of the workers’ groups. During the election of the Metropolitan Insurance Board, 37 Pravdist and 7 liquidationist delegates were   elected, i. e., 84 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Of the total number of delegates elected, the Pravdists constituted 70 per cent (37 out of 53), and at the election of the All-Russia Insurance Board they obtained 47 out of 57, i. e., 82 per cent. The liquidators, non-party people and Narodniks form a small minority of workers, who still remain under bourgeois influence.

To proceed. The following are interesting figures on the average amounts collected by workers groups:

 
Average amounts collected by work
ers’ groups
Pravdist (rubles) Liquidationist
(rubles)
St. Petersburg . . . . . 6.88 7.24
Moscow . . . . . . . . 6.65 10.54
Provinces . . . . . . . 5.74 8.28
Whole of Russia . . . . 6.58 7.89

The Pravdist groups show a natural, understandable and, so to speak, normal tendency: the average contribution from the average workers’ group rises with the increase in the average earnings of the working masses.

In the case of the liquidators, we see, apart from the spurt in the Moscow groups (of which there are only 25 in all!), that the average contributions from the provincial groups are higher than those from the St. Petersburg groups! How are we to explain this odd phenomenon?

Only a more detailed analysis of the figures could provide a satisfactory reply to this question, but that would be a laborious task. Our conjecture is that the liquidators unite the minority of the higher-paid workers in certain sections of industry. It has been observed all over the world that such workers cling to liberal and opportunist ideas. In St. Petersburg, the longest to put up with the liquidators were the printing workers, and it was only during the last elections in their Union, on April 27, 1914, that the Pravdists won half the seats on the Executive and a majority of the seats for alternate members. In all countries the printers are most inclined towards opportunism, and some grades among them are highly paid workers.

If our conclusion about the minority of the workers, the labour aristocracy, being in sympathy with the liquidators   is merely conjectural, there can be no doubt whatever where individuals are concerned. Of the contributions made by non-workers, more than half came from individuals (531 out of 713 in our case, 266 out of 453 in the case of the liquidators). The average contribution from this source in our case is R.1.97 whereas among the liquidators it is R.6.05!

In the first case, the contributions obviously came from lower-paid office workers, civil servants, etc., and from the petty-bourgeois elements of a semi-proletarian character. In the case of the liquidators, however, we see that they have rich friends among the bourgeoisie.

These rich friends from among the bourgeoisie take still more definite shape as “groups of adherents, friends, etc.” These groups collected R.458.82 for us, i. e., two per cent of the total sum collected, the average donation per group being R.10.92, which is only half as much again as the average donation of workers’ groups. For the liquidators, however, these groups collected R.2,450.60, i. e., over 20 per cent of the total sum collected, the average donation per group being R.45.39, i. e., six times the average collected by workers’ groups!

To this we add the collections made abroad, where bourgeois students are the main contributors. We received R.49.79 from this source, i. e., less than one-fourth of one per cent; the liquidators received R.1,709.17, i. e., 14 per cent.

If we add up individuals, “adherents and friends”, and collections made abroad, the total amount collected from these sources will be as follows:

Pravdists—R.1,555.23, i. e., 7 per cent of the total collections.

Liquidators—R.5,768.09, i. e., 48 per cent of the total collections.

From this source we received less than one-tenth of what we received from the workers’ groups (R.18,934). This source gave the liquidators more than they received from the workers’ groups (R.5,296)!

The inference is clear: the liquidationist newspaper is not a workers’ but a bourgeois newspaper. It is run mainly on funds contributed by rich friends from among the bourgeoisie.

As a matter of fact, the liquidators are far more dependent upon the bourgeoisie than our figures show. The Pravdist newspapers have frequently published their financial re ports for public information. These reports have shown that our newspaper, by adding collections to its income, is paying its way. With a circulation of 40,000 (the average for May 1914), this is understandable, in spite of confiscations and a dearth of advertisements. The liquidators, however, published their report only once (Luch No. 101), showing a deficit of 4,000 rubles. After this, they adopted the usual bourgeois custom of not publishing reports. With a circulation of 15,000, their newspaper cannot avoid a deficit, and evidently this is covered again and again by their rich friends from among the bourgeoisie.

Liberal-labour politicians like to drop hints about an “open workers’ party”, but they do not like to reveal to genuine workers their actual dependence upon the bourgeoisie! It is left for us, “underground” workers, to teach the liquidator-liberals the benefit of open reports…

The overall ratio of worker and non-worker collections is as follows:

 
Collected by Out of every ruble collected for
Pravdist
newspapers
Liquidationist
newspapers
Workers . . . . . 87 kopeks 44 kopeks
Non-workers . . . 13 ” 56 ”
  Total 1.00 ruble 1.00 ruble

The Pravdists get one-seventh of their aid collections from the bourgeoisie and, as we have seen, from its most democratic and least wealthy sections. The liquidationist undertaking is largely a bourgeois undertaking, which is supported only by a minority of the workers.

The figures concerning the sources of funds also reveal to us the class status of the readers and buyers of the newspapers.

Voluntary contributions are made only by regular readers, who most intelligently sympathise with the trend of the given newspaper. In its turn, the trend of the given news paper willy-nilly “adapts itself” to the more “influential” section of its reading public.

The deductions that follow from our figures are, first, theoretical, i. e., such as will help the working class to understand the conditions of its movement, and secondly, practical deductions, which will give us direct guidance in our activities.

It is sometimes said that there is not one working-class press in Russia, but two. Even Plekhanov repeated this statement not long ago. But that is not true. Those who say this betray sheer ignorance, if not a secret desire to help the liquidators spread bourgeois influence among the workers. Long ago and repeatedly (for example, in 1908 and 1910), the Party decisions clearly, definitely, and directly pointed to the bourgeois nature of liquidationism. Articles in the Marxist press have explained this truth hundreds of times.

The experience of a daily newspaper, which openly appeals to the masses, was bound to disclose the real class character of the liquidationist trend. And that is what it did. The liquidationist newspaper has indeed proved to be a bourgeois undertaking, which is supported by a minority of the workers.

Moreover, let us not forget that almost up to the spring of 1914 the liquidationist newspaper was the mouthpiece of the August bloc. It was only lately that the Letts with drew from it, and Trotsky, Em-El, An, Buryanov and Yegorov have left, or are leaving, the liquidators. The break-up of the bloc is continuing. The near future is bound to reveal still more clearly the bourgeois character of the liquidationist trend and the sterility of the intellectualist grouplets, such as the Vperyodists, Plekhanovites, Trotskyists, etc.

The practical deductions may be summed up in the following points:

1) 5,674 workers’ groups united by the Pravdists in less than two-and-a-half years is a fairly large number, considering the harsh conditions obtaining in Russia. But this is only a beginning. We need, not thousands, but tens of thousands of workers’ groups. We must intensify our activities tenfold. Ten rubles collected in kopeks from hundreds of workers are more important and valuable, both from the ideological and organisational point of view, than a hundred rubles from rich friends among the bourgeoisie.   Even from the financial aspect, experience goes to prove that it is possible to run a well-established workers’ newspaper with the aid of workers’ kopeks, but impossible to do so with the aid of bourgeois rubles. The liquidationist under taking is a bubble, which is bound to burst.

2) We lag behind in the provinces, where 32 per cent of the workers’ groups support the liquidators! Every class-conscious worker must exert every effort to put an end to this lamentable and disgraceful state of affairs. We must bring all our weight to bear in the provinces.

3) The rural workers are apparently still almost untouched by the movement. Difficult as work in this field may be, we must press forward with it in the most vigorous manner.

4) Like a mother who carefully tends a sick child and gives it better nourishment,, the class-conscious workers must take more care of the districts and factories where the workers are sick with liquidationism. This malady, which emanates from the bourgeoisie, is inevitable in a young working-class movement, but with proper care and persistent treatment, it will pass without any serious after effects. To provide the sick workers with more plentiful nourishment in the shape of Marxist literature, to explain more carefully and in more popular form the history and tactics of the Party and the meaning of the Party decisions on the bourgeois nature of liquidationism, to explain at greater length the urgent necessity of proletarian unity, i. e., the submission of the minority of the workers to the majority, the submission of the one-fifth to the four-fifths of the class-conscious workers of Russia—such are some of the most important tasks confronting us.

Notes:

[1] Number of collections. —Lenin

[2] Sums collected (rubles) —Lenin

[3] V. A. T.—initials of V. A. Tikhomirnov, a member of the Pravda staff.

 Source: Marxists Internet Archive at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/jun/14.htm