Tag Archives: Leon Trotsky

100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution: Trotsky on the Doomed Tsar and Tsarina

We present here the background to the great Russian Revolution of 1917 on its hundredth anniversary – as told by one of its chief organizers: Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” is not only a great read: it is also an almost unique first-person account of a great revolution as told by one of its chief organizers.  It is almost unique among the histories of any revolution.  Most revolutionary leaders never lived to write their own history of the revolutions they led.  So from that standpoint alone, Trotsky’s “History” is of inestimable value – especially to workers who want to know the truth about the Bolshevik Revolution.

As part of our series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the very first successful communist-led workers revolution we present to our readers this excerpt from “The History of the Russian Revolution” by Leon Trotsky.  In it we will get a glimpse of the wonderful regime that was brutally destroyed by the extremists of the Bolshevik Party, led by Lenin and Trotsky.  This chapter that describes the repulsive chaRracters of the Tsar and Tsarina are among our favorite written works in any genre of literature.  This version of the book comes from the Marxists.org website at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch04.htm   In the US we are taught to have sympathy for the executed Tsar and his family.  The hideousness of the regime is fully explored in this essay; workers who study the history of the disgusting Romanov dynasty will come to understand after reading this essay that this Tsarist regime deserves absolutely no sympathy at all.  Enjoy!

—IWPCHI

Leon Trotsky

The History of the Russian Revolution

Volume One: The Overthrow of Tzarism


Chapter 4
The Tzar and the Tzarina

 

This book will concern itself least of all with those unrelated psychological researches which are now so often substituted for social and historical analysis. Foremost in our field of vision will stand the great, moving forces of history, which are super-personal in character. Monarchy is one of them. But all these forces operate through people. And monarchy is by its very principle bound up with the personal. This in itself justifies an interest in the personality of that monarch whom the process of social development brought face to face with a revolution. Moreover, we hope to show in what follows, partially at least, just where in a personality the strictly personal ends – often much sooner than we think – and how frequently the “distinguishing traits” of a person are merely individual scratches made by a higher law of development.

Nicholas II inherited from his ancestors not only a giant empire, but also a revolution. And they did not bequeath him one quality which would have made him capable of governing an empire or even a province or a county. To that historic flood which was rolling its billows each one closer to the gates of his palace, the last Romanov opposed only a dumb indifference. It seemed as though between his consciousness and his epoch there stood some transparent but absolutely impenetrable medium.

People surrounding the tzar often recalled after the revolution that in the most tragic moments of his reign – at the time of the surrender of Port Arthur and the sinking of the fleet at Tsushima, and ten years later at the time of the retreat of the Russian troops from Galicia, and then two years later during the days preceding his abdication when all those around him were depressed, alarmed, shaken – Nicholas alone preserved his tranquillity. He would inquire as usual how many versts he had covered in his journeys about Russia, would recall episodes of hunting expeditions in the past, anecdotes of official meetings, would interest himself generally in the little rubbish of the day’s doings, while thunders roared over him and lightnings flashed. “What is this?” asked one of his attendant generals, “a gigantic, almost unbelievable self-restraint, the product of breeding, of a belief in the divine predetermination of events? Or is it inadequate consciousness?” The answer is more than half included in the question. The so-called “breeding” of the tzar, his ability to control himself in the most extraordinary circumstances, cannot be explained by a mere external training; its essence was an inner indifference, a poverty of spiritual forces, a weakness of the impulses of the will. That mask of indifference which was called breeding in certain circles, was a natural part of Nicholas at birth.

The tzar’s diary is the best of all testimony. From day to day and from year to year drags along upon its pages the depressing record of spiritual emptiness. “Walked long and killed two crows. Drank tea by daylight.” Promenades on foot, rides in a boat. And then again crows, and again tea. All on the borderline of physiology. Recollections of church ceremonies are jotted down in the same tome as a drinking party.

In the days preceding the opening of the State Duma, when the whole country was shaking with convulsions, Nicholas wrote: “April 14. Took a walk in a thin shirt and took up paddling again. Had tea in a balcony. Stana dined and took a ride with us. Read.” Not a word as to the subject of his reading. Some sentimental English romance? Or a report from the Police Department? “April 15: Accepted Witte’s resignation. Marie and Dmitri to dinner. Drove them home to the palace.”

On the day of the decision to dissolve the Duma, when the court as well as the liberal circles were going through a paroxysm of fright, the tzar wrote in his diary: “July 7. Friday. Very busy morning. Half hour late to breakfast with the officers … A storm came up and it was very muggy. We walked together. Received Goremykin. Signed a decree dissolving the Duma! Dined with Olga and Petia. Read all evening.” An exclamation point after the coming dissolution of the Duma is the highest expression of his emotions. The deputies of the dispersed Duma summoned the people to refuse to pay taxes. A series of military uprisings followed: in Sveaborg, Kronstadt, on ships, in army units. The revolutionary terror against high officials was renewed on an unheard-of scale. The tzar writes: “July 9. Sunday. It has happened! The Duma was closed today. At breakfast after Mass long faces were noticeable among many … The weather was fine. On our walk we met Uncle Misha who came over yesterday from Gatchina. Was quietly busy until dinner and all evening. Went padding in a canoe.” It was in a canoe he went paddling – that is told. But with what he was busy all evening is not indicated. So it was always.

And further in those same fatal days: “July 14. Got dressed and rode a bicycle to the bathing beach and bathed enjoyably in the sea.” “July 15. Bathed twice. It was very hot. Only us two at dinner. A storm passed over.” “July 19. Bathed in the morning. Received at the farm. Uncle Vladimir and Chagin lunched with us.” An insurrection and explosions of dynamite are barely touched upon with a single phrase, “Pretty doings!” – astonishing in its imperturbable indifference, which never rose to conscious cynicism.

“At 9:30 in the morning we rode out to the Caspian regiment … walked for a long time. The weather was wonderful. Bathed in the sea. After tea received Lvov and Guchkov.” Not a word of the fact that this unexpected reception of the two liberals was brought about by the attempt of Stolypin to include opposition leaders in his ministry. Prince Lvov, the future head of the Provisional Government, said of that reception at the time: “I expected to see the sovereign stricken with grief, but instead of that there came out to meet me a jolly sprightly fellow in a raspberry-coloured shirt.” The tzar’s outlook was not broader than that of a minor police official – with this difference, that the latter would have a better knowledge of reality and be less burdened with superstitions. The sole paper which Nicholas read for years, and from which he derived his ideas, was a weekly published on state revenue by Prince Meshchersky, a vile, bribed journalist of the reactionary bureaucratic clique, despised even in his own circle. The tzar kept his outlook unchanged through two wars and two revolutions. Between his consciousness and events stood always that impenetrable medium – indifference. Nicholas was called, not without foundation, a fatalist. It is only necessary to add that his fatalism was the exact opposite of an active belief in his “star.” Nicholas indeed considered himself unlucky. His fatalism was only a form of passive self-defence against historic evolution, and went hand in hand with an arbitrariness, trivial in psychological motivation, but monstrous in its consequences.

“I wish it and therefore it must be —,” writes Count Witte. “That motto appeared in all the activities of this weak ruler, who only through weakness did all the things which characterised his reign – a wholesale shedding of more or less innocent blood, for the most part without aim.”

Nicholas is sometimes compared with his half-crazy great-great-grandfather Paul, who was strangled by a camarilla acting in agreement with his own son, Alexander “the Blessed.” These two Romanovs were actually alike in their distrust of everybody due to a distrust of themselves, their touchiness as of omnipotent nobodies, their feeling of abnegation, their consciousness, as you might say, of being crowned pariahs. But Paul was incomparably more colourful; there was an element of fancy in his rantings, however irresponsible. In his descendant everything was dim; there was not one sharp trait.

Nicholas was not only unstable, but treacherous. Flatterers called him a charmer, bewitcher, because of his gentle way with the courtiers. But the tzar reserved his special caresses for just those officials whom he had decided to dismiss. Charmed beyond measure at a reception, the minister would go home and find a letter requesting his resignation. That was a kind of revenge on the tzar’s part for his own nonentity.

Nicholas recoiled in hostility before everything gifted and significant. He felt at ease only among completely mediocre and brainless people, saintly fakers, holy men, to whom he did not have to look up. He had his amour propre, indeed it was rather keen. But it was not active, not possessed of a grain of initiative, enviously defensive. He selected his ministers on a principle of continual deterioration. Men of brain and character he summoned only in extreme situations when there was no other way out, just as we call in a surgeon to save our lives. It was so with Witte, and afterwards with Stolypin. The tzar treated both with ill-concealed hostility. As soon as the crisis had passed, he hastened to part with these counsellors who were too tall for him. This selection operated so systematically that the president of the last Duma, Rodzianko, on the 7th of January 1917, with the revolution already knocking at the doors, ventured to say to the tzar: “Your Majesty, there is not one reliable or honest man left around you; all the best men have been removed or have retired. There remain only those of ill repute.”

All the efforts of the liberal bourgeoisie to find a common language with the court came to nothing. The tireless and noisy Rodzianko tried to shake up the tzar with his reports, but in vain. The latter gave no answer either to argument or to impudence, but quietly made ready to dissolve the Duma. Grand Duke Dmitri, a former favourite of the tzar, and future accomplice in the murder of Rasputin, complained to his colleague, Prince Yussupov, that the tzar at headquarters was becoming every day more indifferent to everything around him. In Dmitri’s opinion the tzar was being fed some kind of dope which had a benumbing action upon his spiritual faculties. “Rumours went round,” writes the liberal historian Miliukov, “that this condition of mental and moral apathy was sustained in the tzar by an increased use of alcohol.” This was all fancy or exaggeration. The tzar had no need of narcotics: the fatal “dope” was in his blood. Its symptoms merely seemed especially striking on the background of those great events of war and domestic crisis which led up to the revolution. Rasputin, who was a psychologist, said briefly of the tzar that he “lacked insides.”

This dim, equable and “well-bred” man was cruel – not with the active cruelty of Ivan the Terrible or of Peter, in the pursuit of historic aims – What had Nicholas the Second in common with them? – but with the cowardly cruelty of the late born, frightened at his own doom. At the very dawn of his reign Nicholas praised the Phanagoritsy regiment as “fine fellows” for shooting down workers. He always “read with satisfaction” how they flogged with whips the bob-haired girl-students, or cracked the heads of defenceless people during Jewish pogroms. This crowned black sheep gravitated with all his soul to the very dregs of society, the Black Hundred hooligans. He not only paid them generously from the state treasury, but loved to chat with them about their exploits, and would pardon them when they accidentally got mixed up in the murder of an opposition deputy. Witte, who stood at the head of the government during the putting down of the first revolution, has written in his memoirs: “When news of the useless cruel antics of the chiefs of those detachments reached the sovereign, they met with his approval, or in any case his defence.” In answer to the demand of the governor-general of the Baltic States that he stop a certain lieutenant-captain, Richter, who was “executing on his own authority and without trial non-resistant persons,” the tzar wrote on the report: “Ah, what a fine fellow!” Such encouragements are innumerable. This “charmer,” without will, without aim, without imagination, was more awful than all the tyrants of ancient and modern history.

The tzar was mightily under the influence of the tzarina, an influence which increased with the years and the difficulties. Together they constituted a kind of unit – and that combination shows already to what an extent the personal, under pressure of circumstances, is supplemented by the group. But first we must speak of the tzarina herself.

Maurice Paléologue, the French ambassador at Petrograd during the war, a refined psychologist for French academicians and janitresses, offers a meticulously licked portrait of the last tzarina: “Moral restlessness, a chronic sadness, infinite longing, intermittent ups and downs of strength, anguishing thoughts of the invisible other world, superstitions – are not all these traits, so clearly apparent in the personality of the empress, the characteristic traits of the Russian people?” Strange as it may seem, there is in this saccharine lie just a grain of truth. The Russian satirist Saltykov, with some justification, called the ministers and governors from among the Baltic barons “Germans with a Russian soul.” It is indubitable that aliens, in no way connected with the people, developed the most pure culture of the “genuine Russian” administrator.

But why did the people repay with such open hatred a tzarina who, in the words of Paléologue, had so completely assimilated their soul? The answer is simple. In order to justify her new situation, this German woman adopted with a kind of cold fury all the traditions and nuances of Russian mediaevalism, the most meagre and crude of all mediaevalisms, in that very period when the people were making mighty efforts to free themselves from it. This Hessian princess was literally possessed by the demon of autocracy. Having risen from her rural corner to the heights of Byzantine despotism, she would not for anything take a step down. In the orthodox religion she found a mysticism and a magic adapted to her new lot. She believed the more inflexibly in her vocation, the more naked became the foulness of the old régime. With a strong character and a gift for dry and hard exaltations, the tzarina supplemented the weak-willed tzar, ruling over him.

On March 17, 1916, a year before the revolution, when the tortured country was already writhing in the grip of defeat and ruin, the tzarina wrote to her husband at military headquarters: “You must not give indulgences, a responsible ministry, etc. … or anything that they want. This must be your war and your peace, and the honour yours and our fatherland’s, and not by any means the Duma’s. They have not the right to say a single word in these matters.” This was at any rate a thoroughgoing programme. And it was in just this way that she always had the whip hand over the continually vacillating tzar.

After Nicholas’ departure to the army in the capacity of fictitious commander-in-chief, the tzarina began openly to take charge of internal affairs. The ministers came to her with reports as to a regent. She entered into a conspiracy with a small camarilla against the Duma, against the ministers, against the staff-generals, against the whole world – to some extent indeed against the tzar. On December 6, 1916, the tzarina wrote to the tzar: “… Once you have said that you want to keep Protopopov, how does he (Premier Trepov) go against you? Bring down your fist on the table. Don’t yield. Be the boss. Obey your firm little wife and our Friend. Believe in us.” Again three days late: “You know you are right. Carry your head high. Command Trepov to work with him … Strike your fist on the table.” Those phrases sound as though they were made up, but they are taken from authentic letters. Besides, you cannot make up things like that.

On December 13 the tzarina suggest to the tzar: “Anything but this responsible ministry about which everybody has gone crazy. Everything is getting quiet and better, but people want to feel your hand. How long they have been saying to me, for whole years, the same thing: ’Russia loves to feel the whip.’ That is their nature!” This orthodox Hessian, with a Windsor upbringing and a Byzantine crown on her head, not only “incarnates” the Russian soul, but also organically despises it. Their nature demands the whip – writes the Russian tzarina to the Russian tzar about the Russian people, just two months and a half before the monarchy tips over into the abyss.

In contrast to her force of character, the intellectual force of the tzarina is not higher, but rather lower than her husband’s. Even more than he, she craves the society of simpletons. The close and long-lasting friendship of the tzar and tzarina with their lady-in-waiting Vyrubova gives a measure of the spiritual stature of this autocratic pair. Vyrubova has described herself as a fool, and this is not modesty. Witte, to whom one cannot deny an accurate eye, characterised her as “a most commonplace, stupid, Petersburg young lady, homely as a bubble in the biscuit dough.” In the society of this person, with whom elderly officials, ambassadors and financiers obsequiously flirted, and who had just enough brains not to forget about her own pockets, the tzar and tzarina would pass many hours, consulting her about affairs, corresponding with her and about her. She was more influential than the State Duma, and even that the ministry.

But Vyrubova herself was only an instrument of “The Friend,” whose authority superseded all three. “… This is my private opinion,” writes the tzarina to the tzar, “I will find out what our Friend thinks.” The opinion of the “Friend” is not private, it decides. “… I am firm,” insists the tzarina a few weeks later, “but listen to me, i.e. this means our Friend, and trust in everything … I suffer for you as for a gentle soft-hearted child – who needs guidance, but listens to bad counsellors, while a man sent by God is telling him what he should do.”

The Friend sent by God was Gregory Rasputin.

“… The prayers and the help of our Friend – then all will be well.”

“If we did not have Him, all would have been over long ago. I am absolutely convinced of that.”

Throughout the whole reign of Nicholas and Alexandra soothsayers and hysterics were imported for the court not only from all over Russia, but from other countries. Special official purveyors arose, who would gather around the momentary oracle, forming a powerful Upper Chamber attached to the monarch. There was no lack of bigoted old women with the title of countess, nor of functionaries weary of doing nothing, nor of financiers who had entire ministries in their hire. With a jealous eye on the unchartered competition of mesmerists and sorcerers, the high priesthood of the Orthodox Church would hasten to pry their way into the holy of holies of the intrigue. Witte called this ruling circle, against which he himself twice stubbed his toe, “the leprous court camarilla.”

The more isolated the dynasty became, and the more unsheltered the autocrat felt, the more he needed some help from the other world. Certain savages, in order to bring good weather, wave in the air a shingle on a string. The tzar and tzarina used shingles for the greatest variety of purposes. In the tzar’s train there was a whole chapel full of large and small images, and all sorts of fetiches, which were brought to bear, first against the Japanese, then against the German artillery.

The level of the court circle really had not changed much from generation to generation. Under Alexander II, called the “Liberator,” the grand dukes had sincerely believed in house spirits and witches. Under Alexander III it was no better, only quieter. The “leprous camarilla” had existed always, changed only its personnel and its method. Nicholas II did not create, but inherited from his ancestors, this court atmosphere of savage mediaevalism. But the country during these same decades had been changing, its problems growing more complex, its culture rising to a higher level. The court circle was thus left far behind.

Although the monarchy did under compulsion make concessions to the new forces, nevertheless inwardly it completely failed to become modernised. On the contrary it withdrew into itself. Its spirit of mediaevalism thickened under the pressure of hostility and fear, until it acquired the character of a disgusting nightmare overhanging the country.

Towards November 1905 – that is, at the most critical moment of the first revolution – the tzar writes in his diary: “We got acquainted with a man of God, Gregory, from the Tobolsk province.” That was Rasputin – a Siberian peasant with a bald scar on his head, the result of a beating for horse-stealing. Put forward at an appropriate moment, this “Man of God” soon found official helpers – or rather they found him – and thus was formed a new ruling class which got a firm hold of the tzarina, and through her of the tzar.

From the winter of 1913-14 it was openly said in Petersburg society that all high appointments, posts and contracts depended upon the Rasputin clique. The “Elder” himself gradually turned into a state institution. He was carefully guarded, and no less carefully sought after by the competing ministers. Spies of the Police Department kept a diary of his life by hours, and did not fail to report how on a visit to his home village of Pokrovsky he got into a drunken and bloody fight with his own father on the street. On the same day that this happened – September 9, 1915 – Rasputin sent two friendly telegrams, one to Tzarskoe Selo, to the tzarina, the other to headquarters to the tzar. In epic language the police spies registered from day to day the revels of the Friend. “He returned today 5 o’clock in the morning completely drunk.” “On the night of the 25-26th the actress V. spent the night with Rasputin.” “He arrived with Princess D. (the wife of a gentleman of the bedchamber of the Tzar’s court) at the Hotel Astoria.”…And right beside this: “Came home from Tzarskoe Selo about 11 o’clock in the evening.” “Rasputin came home with Princess Sh- very drunk and together they went out immediately.” In the morning or evening of the following day a trip to Tzarskoe Selo. To a sympathetic question from the spy as to why the Elder was thoughtful, the answer came: “Can’t decide whether to convoke the Duma or not.” And then again: “He came home at 5 in the morning pretty drunk.” Thus for months and years the melody was played on three keys: “Pretty drunk,” “Very drunk,” and “Completely drunk.” These communications of state importance were brought together and countersigned by the general of gendarmes, Gorbachev.

The bloom of Raputin’s influence lasted six years, the last years of the monarchy. “His life in Petrograd,” says Prince Yussupov, who participated to some extent in that life, and afterward killed Rasputin, “became a continual revel, the durnken debauch of a galley slave who had come into an unexpected fortune.” “I had at my disposition,” wrote the president of the Duma, Rodzianko, “a whole mass of letters from mothers whose daughters had been dishonoured by this insolent rake.” Nevertheless the Petrograd metropolitan, Pitirim, owed his position to Rasputin, as also the almost illiterate Archbishop Varnava. The Procuror of the Holy Synod, Sabler, was long sustained by Rasputin; and Premier Kokovtsev was removed at his wish, having refused to receive the “Elder.” Rasputin appointed Stürmer President of the Council of Ministers, Protopopov Minister of the Interior, the new Procuror of the Synod, Raev, and many others. The ambassador of the French republic, Paléologue, sought an interview with Rasputin, embraced him and cried, “Voilà, un véritable illuminé!” hoping in this way to win the heart of the tzarina to the cause of France. The Jew Simanovich, financial agent of the “Elder,” himself under the eye of the Secret Police as a nightclub gambler and usurer – introduced into the Ministry of Justice through Rasputin the completely dishonest creature Dobrovolsky.

“Keep by you the little list,” writes the tzarina to the tzar, in regard to new appointments. “Our friend has asked that you talk all this over with Protopopov.” Two days later: “Our friend says that Stürmer may remain a few days longer as President of the Council of Ministers.” And again: “Protopopov venerates our friend and will be blessed.”

On one of those days when the police spies were counting up the number of bottles and women, the tzarina grieved in a letter to the tzar: “They accuse Rasputin of kissing women, etc. Read the apostles; they kissed everybody as a form of greeting.” This reference to the apostles would hardly convince the police spies. In another letter the tzarina goes still farther. “During vespers I thought so much about our friend,” she writes, “how the Scribes and Pharisees are persecuting Christ pretending that they are so perfect … yes, in truth no man is a prophet in his own country.”

The comparison of Rasputin and Christ was customary in that circle, and by no means accidental. The alarm of the royal couple before the menacing forces of history was too sharp to be satisfied with an impersonal God and the futile shadow of a Biblical Christ. They needed a second coming of “the Son of Man.” In Rasputin the rejected and agonising monarchy found a Christ in its own image.

“If there had been no Rasputin,” said Senator Tagantsev, a man of the old régime, “it would have been necessary to invent one.” There is a good deal more in these words than their author imagined. If by the word hooliganism we understand the extreme expression of those anti-social parasite elements at the bottom of society, we may define Rasputinism as a crowned hooliganism at its very top.

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“Anarchists”, “Antifa” Liberals Unable to Distinguish Between Fascists and Right-wing Blowhard Yiannopoulos

Is Milo Yiannopoulos a “fascist”? What about Steve Bannon? Or Donald Trump?

How one defines “fascist” is critically important. When you define every right-wing person who hates immigrants a “fascist” then your ability to identify actual fascists disappears. You also single out these mere disgusting conservatives for extreme punishment of the sort communists and anarchists traditionally reserve for the actual fascists of the Ku Klux Klan or Nazis. This is wrong and it destroys the credibility of the revolutionary socialist and anarchist left in the eyes of the workers whose support we seek. It also plays right into the hands of the capitalist class and their fascist attack dogs by helping to camouflage the real fascists. The working class needs to be able to clearly distinguish between its pro-capitalist conservative political opponents and the fascist threat which is like a knife held to the throat of the working class.

Trotskyists seek scientific precision when making political characterizations of their opponents

Revolutionary Marxists employ scientific terminology to describe political phenomena just as natural scientists employ their own precisely-defined terminology to describe the elements of the natural world from sub-atomic particles to black holes. Revolutionary Marxism/Leninism/Trotskyism utilizes a more precise scientific method than the bourgeois scientists do: the scientific method of dialectical materialism. By carefully analyzing political movements and their leaders not, as with bourgeois political science, as discrete and fully-formed entities but as evolving phenomena, revolutionary Trotskyists seek to precisely characterize the class origins and trajectory of political movements. Our method is derided by vulgar bourgeois political scientists as being “too dogmatic”. In fact, bourgeois political scientists despise the dialectical materialist method of the revolutionary Marxists because it enables us to tear off the masks from the political movements arrayed against the working class that pretend to be on the side of the workers of the political movements – which pro-capitalist bourgeois political scientists have carefully created and maintained in the service of their capitalist masters. Scientific terminology is as indispensable to revolutionary Trotskyists as it is to mathematicians, physicists or surgeons because without that agreed-upon scientific terminology scientific inquiry and experimental work is impossible. It is as desirable to be precise when discussing politics before we act just as it is when surgeons utilize the precise scientific terminology of modern medicine, biology and anatomy before they operate. Utilizing precise scientific language when operating in the political world is far more important than using precise scientific terminology when preparing a surgical procedure on a single human being because in politics, not single lives but billions of lives are at stake. No one ridicules the surgeon for being “too dogmatic” when he’s preparing to perform open-heart surgery on a friend or relative. Political science requires the same kind of precision and for the same reasons. The wrong terminology, mistaken identification of the illness and inadequate description of the operation to be performed and the methods to be used often results in the loss of the patient. In political science, terminological imprecision results in massive human suffering and in deaths of millions of people. Words matter. Outside of the revolutionary Trotskyist movement, political terminology is bandied about in the same way that a 3-year-old handles a loaded gun: we are unfortunately witnessing that today in the case of our wayward anarchist and “antifa” friends who are going around calling mere repulsive conservatives “fascists”.

What is dialectical materialism and why is it important?

Marxism is even more reality-based than bourgeois science. Dialectical materialism is the scientific philosophy that the entire superstructure of revolutionary Marxism is based upon; it seeks to comprehend the material reality of the universe in toto, encompassing every aspect of a phenomenon and recognizing that nothing is permanent – everything is in a state of development and transition, from atoms to the universe itself. Bourgeois science tends to study things as discrete phenomena and struggles to conceive of the material world as something that is not permanent and unchanging (this is more true for some scientific disciplines than for others). This is a most serious problem for bourgeois political scientists and economists who, on top of the fact that they do not utilize the dialectical method of analysis of phenomena, which itself leads them into making enormous errors in their work, they are charged with the responsibility of covering up the truth about the fundamental nature of capitalist society. A major part of their job is to convince the workers of the world that the capitalist economic system and its corresponding political system is the highest form of human society possible; that it is “the best of all possible worlds”.

Marxists do not see the world in stark “black-and-white” terms as bourgeois political scientists do. We understand that the collective state of mind of the working class and the capitalist class and all of human society the world over are in a constant state of flux. We also recognize that there exist intermediate forms of matter that fluctuate from one state to another and back again – solid to liquid to gas to liquid to solid – and that this happens in the political world as well. During the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Cossacks – who had long been the Czar’s brutal anti-Semitic pogromists periodically unleashed to attack Jews and communists – became during the revolution some of the most heroic elements of the vanguard of the first successful workers revolution in world history – led by the communists of the Bolshevik Party, many of whose top leaders were Jews. Many of the Czar’s own top military officials also went over to the side of the Bolsheviks and helped create the Red Army. The Marxist worldview recognizes that there is only one constant in the material world: change. In political science we see the long historical view of the evolution of human society and understand that there are long periods of relative political stability that are broken up by periodic upheavals and revolutions after which the new social landscape is hardly recognizable in comparison with the social structure that existed before. We also recognize the capabilities of human beings to change their political beliefs over time. And this doesn’t just happen on the right-wing side of the political spectrum: Mussolini, who was the originator of fascism in Italy, began his political career as a revolutionary Marxist.

Bourgeois political scientists use vague, non-class-based terminology to hide the true nature of capitalist system

Imprecision in political science as well as all of the sciences in the capitalist world is part of the narrow worldview of the capitalist class which permeates all of human society under the capitalist mode of production. Bourgeois political scientists speak in very imprecise, non-class-based terms when they describe the political world around them. When Marxists speak of “fascism” and “fascists” our use of the term is precisely defined to describe a specific type of political philosophy and political fauna that arise out of the capitalist system in times of acute political and economic crisis. The bourgeois political world, mocking the precise scientific terminology of Marxism as being “hopelessly dogmatic” – has adopted terms that assist the pro-capitalist ideologists hide the true nature of the capitalist system from the eyes of the working class. For example: “The people” is used by bourgeois ideologists – and their fake-left “tails” – instead of the Marxists’ far more precise “working class” and “capitalist class” to describe “the masses”. “The people, united, will never be defeated” is a popular political slogan of the pro-capitalist bourgeois ideologues and the fake left. Why is it a pro-capitalist slogan? Because “the people, united” means “all classes united”: the rich and the poor, capitalist and worker, peasant and landlord. And when the exploited working class or peasantry “unites” politically and militarily with their exploiters – the capitalists and landlords – the workers and peasants will ALWAYS be defeated!

Simply by substituting the phrase “the people” for “the workers”, the bourgeois apologists for the capitalist system prepare the working class and peasantry psychologically to fall under the yoke of “reasonable” pro-capitalist political leadership: the working class and peasantry are politically disarmed by this simple, very popular and very deadly political formula! The Democrats love to chant “the people, united will never be defeated”. But change the words to “the workers, united, will never be defeated” and watch their big smiles turn to worried frowns! They know the difference between these two slogans – and so do their capitalist masters. There is a world of difference in terms of the political content of the two opposed slogans. One – “the people, united” – supports class-collaboration with the political representatives of the capitalist class and defends the capitalist system; the other – “the workers united” is a call for working class solidarity against the capitalist system. You can tell if you are a bourgeois liberal or not just by whether you can or can not discern the deep political difference between the two slogans. Bourgeois liberals insist revolutionary Trotskyists are just “being dogmatic” when we denounce the use of the term “the people”. They do that because they know we are unmasking them by revealing the true class nature of their favorite political slogan, which is in fact nothing more than a stratagem for leading the workers to walk blindly into the mousetrap of pro-capitalist politics!

Bourgeois ideologists speak of a vague, broad “middle class” that to the much more precise terminology of a Marxist is actually composed of three separate classes, the majority of which is merely the slightly more well-to-do section of the working class who make enough money to be able to afford to purchase their own homes. The vague, unscientific, vulgar terminology of the bourgeois political scientist obscures rather than clarifies the real class relationships that compose human society in the capitalist era. This is done – consciously or unconsciously – to confuse and divide the working class into antagonistic, imaginary sub-classes. In bourgeois political discourse we see that the term “working class” is barely even used; “middle class” is the term used to describe working class people who “rise” mysteriously into this “middle class”… the moment they become indentured servants for life to the banksters by draping themselves in the heavy chains of a home loan! In “third world” countries, hundreds of millions of dirt-poor peasants live in houses they built for themselves but no one describes the “homeowners” in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro as “middle class” – not even the epigones of vulgar bourgeois political science. Only the revolutionary Marxists (who today are known by the name of “Trotskyists”) consistently employ a truly scientific terminology in their political science. We do it because it is literally a matter of life or death.

Terminological precision is necessary in order to win the working class to a revolutionary socialist program dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist system

The primary reason why scientifically precise political terminology is important in the eyes of revolutionary Trotskyist political scientists is because only the revolutionary Trotskyists actually seek – not to “peacefully coexist” with a capitalist system that became thoroughly reactionary more than a century and a half ago – but to overthrow it. The Trotskyists seek not to prolong the life of capitalism one more day but to overthrow the world’s capitalist system and replace it with a global alliance of egalitarian socialist workers states. The Trotskyists understand that if you want to change something you must first understand precisely what it is that you wish to change and determine what social forces can be enlisted on the side of the working class and what social forces can be expected to form up the ranks of the enemy capitalist class and its allies. Goals, in order to be achieved, must first be formulated with extreme precision and a program devised that is equally precise so that we can get to there from here. If we try to travel from Chicago to Paris but we neglect to purchase either a plane ticket or passage on an ocean-going vessel we will have a very difficult journey ahead of us.

Precise definition of the obstacles that lay ahead of us is necessary before we head out on this or any major endeavor. A revolutionary working class leader who can not detect the sometimes subtle shades of difference between “ally”, “neutral” and “mortal enemy” can only lead the working class into defeat; so precision is necessary when we analyze the class forces as they appear on the battle field: are they friends or enemies of the working class – or are they representatives of the undecided middle or petit-bourgeois class who will join either the side of the workers or the side of capitalist reaction depending on which side seems most likely to prevail in the event of a social revolution? Are the largely working-class ranks of these political movements or even military formations in a state of transition? How will they react to an appeal to join the ranks of the revolutionary workers party?

Before we analyze any political movement or leader we must determine their class origins and their political trajectory. Petit-bourgeois origins of fascism.

We live in a class society based on the capitalist mode of production. What determines, to a Marxist ones class identity depends not on whether or not you own a house but upon your relationship to the capitalist means of production: are you an owner of factories or a worker in a factory? Capitalist class society is fundamentally divided into two primary classes: the capitalist, exploiting class known by its precise Marxist name of “bourgeoisie”; and the exploited working class. In between these two classes lies not an amorphous and ambiguously-defined multi-class “middle class” but an intermediate class revolutionary Marxists call the “petit-bourgeoisie”. “Petit-bourgeoisie” is a term that was coined by the revolutionary French political scientists of the 1700s; it is a combination of the terms “petit” meaning “little or small” and the term “bourgeoisie” meaning wealthy capitalist or businessman. In modern times “petit-bourgeoisie” is equivalent to “small businessperson” who owns a business that exploits a number of workers who are not of his or her own family. This may all seem way off-topic but it is not, because in the Marxist analysis of capitalist society and of the phenomenon of the rise of fascism it is the petit-bourgeoisie that is the critical source of recruits to the fascist movement.

This “petit-bourgeoisie” is defined by Marxists as an intermediate and highly politically unstable class whose members have either risen from the ranks of the working class or are “de-classed” elements who have fallen out of the ranks of the bourgeoisie. The stereotypical petit-bourgeois generally admires and aspires to being wealthy someday and to eventually rise into (or back into) the ranks of the “big-bourgeoisie”, and simultaneously loathes the big bourgeoisie which rips off the small businesspeople at every opportunity and often threatens to wipe out the small businesspeople entirely. A good example of the “petit-bourgeoisie” is the owner of a small family-run grocery store that has been in a community for a hundred years and is now facing the destruction of its long-popular local business by the arrival in the community of a massive big bourgeoisie operation like WalMart. This is just one example: the petit-bourgeoisie includes not just small businesspeople but all manner of “self-employed” workers and artisans as well, from handymen to artists, actors and musicians. The petit-bourgeois is trapped between her admiration of the ruthless “self-made” billionaires like Donald Trump (or the multi-millionaire hip-hop or movie star with “her own” ridiculous jewelry, clothing and fragrance lines) and the hopeless struggle to survive in competition against rivals whose enormous purchasing power enable them to achieve economies of scale and to survive the inevitable periodic economic crises of the capitalist system.

The struggle of the petit-bourgeoisie to survive independently in an era of brutal competition from the big bourgeoisie creates anger and resentment in the petit-bourgeois. As his sales decline he “has to” cut wages to his workers or make unwanted cutbacks in his own standard of living. The small businessman is caught between the two fires of the working class and the big bourgeoisie, both of whose good will the small business person needs in order to survive.

He seeks political assistance from the local representatives of the major political parties: is there some way he can ban these big capitalist enterprises from coming into his town and ruining the small local businesses? But the major political parties are owned and operated by the big bourgeoisie and are discovered to be in the pay of the capitalist class! What can the petit-bourgeois do?

It is in this environment that the petit-bourgeois is driven to take sides in the great struggle between the capitalist and working classes. The petit-bourgeois has sympathy for the working class from which he and his family likely originated; yet he also admires the big bourgeoisie and wants to become a big success like, for example, the billionaire Walton family of WalMart fame. He might like to pay his workers higher wages but believes he can not afford to do so and still be able to live at the standard of living he feels he deserves – rightly or not. The formation of a union in his store would only, in his eyes, hasten the day of his company’s collapse. (Whether or not this is true means nothing under capitalism; capitalists big and small are “free” to do whatever they want with “their” money – stolen as it is from the working class. The capitalists deny that they bear any responsibility for unemployment, homelessness or any of the other social ills endemic to their system).

Vacillating petit-bourgeoisie must ultimately choose between giving support to working class or to the fascists

The revolutionary Marxists and the fascists offer the petit bourgeois two diametrically opposed ways out of this blind alley: the revolutionary socialists offer workers socialist revolution where the endless struggle for economic survival for the petit-bourgeois will itself cease and she will perhaps be given the money necessary to continue operating their small businesses from the new socialist government; the fascists “offer” a militarized capitalism where the rights of the citizenry are sharply curtailed, dissidents are imprisoned, trade unions are outlawed and revolutionaries and other “social undesirables” are put to death. For the more greed-inspired petit-bourgeois, this choice is not as easy as it would appear to be to you, a decent and honest worker.

As the class struggle heats up as a result of the declining standard of living forced upon the working and petit-bourgeois classes by the big bourgeoisie, the working class begins to organize itself in opposition to the big bourgeoisie and its predatory capitalist system. Those workers and petit-bourgeois who are anti-racist and pro-union gravitate towards the champions of workers rights and internationalism – the revolutionary Marxists-Trotskyists; those workers and petit-bourgeois who are racist and who hate unions and “reds” gravitate towards the ranks of the fascists.

The rise of Donald Trump indicates the start of a period of sharpened class struggle and increasing polarization of society between extremes of revolutionary socialism and fascism.

This is where the capitalist world stands in 2017. The political landscape in the US and Western Europe especially is becoming increasingly polarized between the pro-working class and anti-working class parties whose extremes are represented by the revolutionary internationalist Trotskyists and anarchists on the left and the union-hating ultra-nationalists financed more and more by the big bourgeoisie (Klan and Nazis) on the right. In between these two polar opposite camps in this transitional period are now appearing all kinds of intermediate characters whose semi-formed political ideologies borrow freely from both the fascist and the communist ideologies, depending on which way the political winds are blowing at any given time.

One of the most definitive qualities of the petit-bourgeoisie – this “middle class” caught between the two fires of the capitalists and the working class – is precisely this “flag in the wind” character of their politics. When the unions, led by the revolutionary Trotskyists are growing stronger, the petit-bourgeoisie presents a friendly face toward the workers and begins to place its hopes in a workers revolution to save the petit-bourgeois from economic ruin. If the revolutionary upsurge becomes powerful more and more of the petit-bourgeois join the ranks of the revolutionary workers parties. But when the unions are in decline – as they are now across the United States and Europe – and it looks like there is no pro-working-class revolutionary socialist solution to the problems of the petit-bourgeoisie on the horizon then the small businessman or woman looks to the racist, nationalist and even fascist parties for a “way out” of the economic and political impasse of collapsing capitalist society.

Capitalist class and their politicians scapegoat immigrants, refugees, religious and ethnic minorities in order to maintain their class rule by dividing and conquering the working class. Fascists are the capitalists’ weapons of last resort in this struggle.

In the United States in 2017 the long-running decline of the workers unions and the revolutionary political parties of the working class has led the petit-bourgeoisie – and the big bourgeoisie – into despair. The phenomenal emergence of the planned socialist economy of Maoist China as the world’s next economic superpower (which will blow past the United States within the next 10 years or maybe less) the capitalist world is thrown into political chaos. The greed-based capitalist economies can only increase their profits by driving down the wages of the workers of the “first world” to the level of those workers in the brutally exploited “third world”. In every capitalist country we see attack after attack on social programs and on the high wages won over centuries of struggle by the trade unions. The capitalist class and its media try to pretend that it is not the capitalist system that is responsible for driving down the workers’ standard of living. To make their getaway complete the capitalists use the old ruse from the famous story of the thief who escapes capture by pointing to another person and shouting “Stop, thief!” The capitalists look for scapegoats they can point the workers towards in order that they, the capitalists can get away with their stolen booty. “Stop, thief!” the capitalist screams, and points to… the immigrant workers. “Stop, thief!” the capitalist hollers again, and points to… the refugees. “Stop, thief!” the capitalist yells again and this time points to… the Chinese. “Look! They are all stealing your jobs!” shouts the capitalist – and as soon as the workers, led by the fascists, are off attacking their innocent immigrant, refugee Muslim or Jewish brothers and sisters… the capitalist gathers up all the workers’ money and heads to his bank, chuckling all the way.

In this way the capitalists whip up racist anti-immigrant and anti-refugee campaigns to cover up the fact that it is indeed the capitalist system itself that is to blame for the endlessly declining standard of living of the working class. With even the capitalists’ own economic institutes producing scientific study after scientific study PROVING that it is the capitalist system itself that is at the root of all economic problems, the capitalist class begins to spread outright lies through its media outlets to confuse the working class and keep the workers fighting each other instead of uniting to overthrow the capitalist class that is systematically robbing all the workers blind.

Yiannopoulos, Bannon and their kind are merely right-wing conservative demagogues, transitional figures between bourgeois democracy and fascism – they are not “fascists”

The fascists feed on the capitalists lies that immigrants are at the root of the economic decline of the working class. They are only too willing to help the big bourgeoisie smash the communists and trade unionists whose demands for higher wages and increased social spending can only come out of the pockets of the bourgeoisie – big and “petit”. With the union movement in decline, the petit-bourgeois licks his finger and holds it up into the air and determines that the wind is indeed blowing strongest from the direction of the fascist parties; and so she begins to overcome her disgust for the more vulgar political ideas of the fascists and moves closer, step by step, to the fascist camp.

To facilitate this transition of the petit-bourgeoisie towards the fascist camp all kinds of transitional figures emerge as if on cue. Sensing that they can profit from the indecision and confusion that reigns among the middle-class and large sections even of the working class, these people freely borrow elements of the political program of the communist left and the fascist right and duct-tape together a ramshackle political “program” that is a more palatable version of a supposedly “neutral” middle ground between the two extremes. This is the milieu of the “alt-right” swamp inhabited by such shady characters as Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and a whole slew of half-bright right-wing ideologues. Their “fascism-lite” program is a bridge between what had once been the “traditional” conservatism of, say, a George Bush pere and the more extreme and even fascist right wing. These transitional figures may express elements of the fascist program from time to time – but that alone does not make them “fascists”. We must recognize them as what they are and calibrate our responses to them accordingly. Should a sleazy right-wing provocateur like Milo Yiannopoulos or Steve Bannon get the same treatment from anti-fascist worker-militants as an outright Klansman like David Duke? This is the question.

Fascists represent not merely a political but a mortal threat to the physical existence of workers movement.

Fascism represents a mortal threat to the lives of the workers all over the world. Fascist political parties and leaders find ready financing from the ranks of the capitalist class and, in Europe, from the monarchist remnants of the old aristocratic ruling families as well. These people fear the power of the working class and would rather drown the working class of their own countries in blood rather than allow the workers to seize power. The capitalist class and the aristocrats know all too well that they have committed massive crimes against the workers of the entire world, and they live in mortal terror of what will happen to them if the revolutionary workers ever erase that “thin blue line” of police that protects them.

Fascists are hired by the capitalists and the aristocrats precisely to draw a line in workers blood when an upsurge of worker militancy threatens the continued existence of the capitalist system. When the typical methods of police brutality no longer suffice to keep the working class in check, the capitalists finance, arm and unleash their fascist wolf packs. The fascist stormtroopers are not politicians looking to discuss politics: they are psychologically deranged xenophobes who seek not merely to discriminate against workers of color, immigrants, gays, religious minorities and militant workers of all political persuasions, but to physically exterminate us! Fascist ideology represents a qualitative leap beyond “mere” intolerance into organized mass pogroms against every racial and religious group they despise. The Nazis do not seek to merely “deport” immigrants and Muslims: they want to impose a “final solution” – the complete physical extermination – of people they identify as being social undesirables”. There is a world of difference between a right-wing bourgeois politician who espouses a disgusting program to deport immigrants and a fascist who wants to hunt down Mexican workers as they cross the border and shoot them dead the moment they cross the line!

Yiannopoulos, Bannon and Trump are not “fascists” – they should not be treated as such.

As revolutionary Trotskyists we uphold the free speech rights of right-wing blowhards like Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon and yes even Donald Trump; we might protest their appearance wherever they wish to speak; we would debate them in public if the opportunity arose – in order to expose their political bankruptcy and (in Trump’s case) murderous criminality. But we do not physically attack them or try to deny them their free speech rights – because they are not actually “fascists”. Milo Yiannopoulos, for example, is a gay, white man who brags at his public appearances about having sex with black men – which alone would make him a target of the fascists, not one of their leaders. He has repeatedly sued various newspapers and magazines that have called him a “white supremacist” and has won retractions from several of them. This is not the kind of thing an actual fascist or white supremacist would do. Many of his political statements skewering the “political correctness” campaigns of the campus liberals are quite accurate. His criticisms of the Democratic Party as well often hit their mark – and that is why the bourgeois liberals hate him. He calls Donald Trump his “Daddy” – he’s quite pathetic, really. Many of his opinions are objectionable and amount to bigotry, like his hatred of Muslims. But none of this right-wing bloviating amounts to a fascist program of the physical extermination of his political opponents. Having read several of his speeches he’s given in the past year on various US college campuses, we must conclude that Milo Yiannopoulos is simply not a fascist. It is not easy for an openly gay man to join the ranks of the Klan or Nazis (although there were many gay men in Hitler’s retinue in the early days of National Socialism). But they didn’t remain in the fascist ranks for long because Hitler had most of his gay followers either executed or put in concentration camps. “Good luck” to Milo if he wants someday to “transition” into becoming a fascist!

The “antifa” who think Yiannopoulos is a fascist are simply wrong. They’ve been led astray by their leaders’ lack of a coherent revolutionary Marxist political program and their vague understanding of what fascism is and what it isn’t.  They go crazy and mobilize their members to rampage across the Berkeley campus to stop a pathetic self-hating gay conservative while completely ignoring the fact that imperialist pig  John Yoo – “the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice” who “discovered” the “legal justification” for US imperialism’s use of torture against suspected terrorists – trains young lawyers as a professor of law on the very same campus!  Yoo deserves to be driven off campus, not Milo.  Yiannopoulos needs to be debated – or ignored.

For the record, Donald Trump is also not a fascist – even though he has expressed concepts that are borrowed – probably, like most of his “philosophy”, semi-consciously – from the fascist program, like his calling illegal Mexican immigrants “rapists and murderers”. Trump is a disgusting, right-wing capitalist (and now as President, US imperialist) pig – but he is not a fascist! Not yet anyway. If Donald Trump was a fascist, we would not be able to write articles advocating the overthrow of the US capitalist class: we’d either be dead or we’d be in a prison or a concentration camp! If Donald Trump was a fascist, anarchists, communists,illegal immigrants and Muslims (Anti-Islamism being the 2017 version, in the USA, of Hitlerite anti-Semitism) would be getting rounded up and thrown into concentration camps to die – or just be summarily executed – and that would be that! Fascism is orders of magnitude worse than mere “right-wing conservatism” or even the majority of the people who self-identify as “alt-right”. The “alt-right” are in a transitional phase of development; these “alt-righters” must be kept under close observation so when they actually move into the fascist camp they can be treated accordingly. In the meantime they must be combatted politically, not physically! An intelligent, rational revolutionary socialist workers party programme can win these “middle of the road” and even many right-wing workers over to the side of the revolutionary working class. To simply write off whole sections of the working class as eternally compromised because they voted for Trump is absolutely asinine. We need to present the working class with a programme that truly represents their interests and which presents a realistic prospect for a prosperous future for all the working class in a post-capitalist world. The fascists can only promise workers a future of global war, hate, bloodshed and misery under capitalism! If revolutionary Trotskyists do our jobs properly we will win the vacillating “petit-bourgeoisie” and undecided workers to our side – and the fascists and their “alt-right” movement will evaporate like piss on hot asphalt.

For the actual fascists – whose “debating methods” are guns, knives and the lynch rope – we deny that they have any “right” to speak at all!

We seek to physically drive the fascists out of human society permanently! We understand that fascists do not want to be part of the great human race and that fascists represent a MORTAL, DEADLY THREAT to human civilization itself! Fascist meetings and rallies and public speaking tours should be disrupted if they can’t be prevented from happening in the first place and the fascists themselves, personally, as the great Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky advised, “should have their heads acquainted with the pavement”! The mass murder of workers by Mussolini and Hitler’s fascists – and by the Japanese fascists in the 1930s and ’40s must never be allowed to happen again!

As revolutionary Trotskyists we seek to lead the working class to the Marxist/Leninist understanding that the working class will never enjoy the right to the basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, health care and education) nor will basic human rights (womens’ and LGBTQ rights, an end to all racial, sexual and religious discrimination and bigotry) ever be made secure under the capitalist system – which is fundamentally based on the exploitation of the working class and which employs racism, religious bigotry and sexuality to divide and conquer the working class. We want to provide the clear-sighted and principled revolutionary Trotskyist political leadership that is necessary in order for the working class to successfully overthrow capitalism and to replace it with a worldwide alliance of racially integrated, egalitarian socialist workers republics. To achieve that goal we must have a clear understanding of who our mortal enemies are; we can not go off running around calling every right-wing jerk who blurts out a stream of bigoted invective a “fascist” and go and lead workers to launch physical attacks against them! This kind of political gangsterism and adventurism confuses the working class: when everyone is labeled “fascist” then no one is a fascist! The ability of workers to distinguish between run-of-the-mill right-wing assholes and the far more deadly fascist foe is entirely lost, and the politically miseducated working class becomes an even easier target for the fascist gangs.

Lack of coherent, revolutionary Marxist programme leads “Anarchistsand “Antifa” astray

In the recent protests against Milo Yiannopoulos we see the political confusion of the anarchists of the “antifa” movement leading them into launching physical attacks on Yiannopoulos as if he was an actual fascist. Yiannopoulos is a transitional figure of the “alt-right” who lies somewhere between right-wing conservatism and fascism. He does not advocate the extermination of immigrants or other “undesirable” elements of the working class. Yiannopoulos is not a fascist: he is an “opening act” for the fascists! Yiannopoulos and his ilk are preparing the road for the rise of fascism; they are creating “safe spaces” inside universities and major cities in which the fascists may operate. But they are NOT “fascists”!

One of the tremendous weaknesses of the “anarchist” movement is the total absence of any political party structure that includes a collectively agreed-upon revolutionary Marxist political programme. This political nebulosity and confusion allows all kinds of heterogeneous political characters to pass themselves off as “anarchists”. Unlike the revolutionary Trotskyists who have a well-thought-out and openly proclaimed political programme which every member of a Trotskyist political party must agree to uphold before they can become even a prospective party member, in the anarchist “movement” it’s “everybody into the pool!” There are pro-capitalist anarchists, anti-abortion anarchists, anti-communist anarchists; you name it, the anarchist movement’s got it. Because the anarchists deny the obvious necessity of the formation of a cohesive political party around a revolutionary party programme, they allow all kinds of cretins into their ranks who simply like to pretend to be revolutionaries. If you ask one hundred anarchists what their political programme is you’ll get one hundred different answers. The only thing all anarchists agree on is their puerile opposition to any kind of “state” – especially a revolutionary socialist “worker’s state”! This fundamental political bankruptcy of the anarchist movement is the primary reason why whenever anarchists are placed in a position of political power they always wind up supporting the capitalist state as “the lesser evil” in comparison to a workers’ state (we’ve just seen this phenomenon once again with “anarchist” leaders in Iceland’s Pirate Party). History has shown the absolute necessity for the working class to establish a workers’ state in order to create the basis for the initial establishment of socialism and for the suppression of the overthrown capitalist class which will not simply concede defeat and walk away the minute they are deposed. Because the anarchists refuse on principle to build a workers state to defend and consolidate the gains of the successful workers revolution they will NEVER be able to lead a successful workers revolution, period! This is why real worker-revolutionaries should reject the lame “politics” of the anarchists.

The anarchist and “antifa” leaders that are going all out to stop the conservative bigot Yiannopoulos and his supporters as if they were all fascists are simply exposing their political bankruptcy for all the workers of the world to see – and are falling into a political trap laid by the right-wing bigots behind Breitbart “News”.  They are leading their members blindly into this set-up; and they and their naive members will suffer arrest, jailings, fines and the probable destruction of their organizations – all because they can’t tell the difference between a Nazi and a dollar-store right-wing blowhard! And these crazy youth who fantasize about just going around “punching a fascist in the face”? Look: if you can’t tell the difference between a real fascist and a bozo like Yiannopoulos do the revolutionary workers movement a favor and just take up MMA instead. You’re just going to give anarchism and the “antifa” movement a reputation as being “those idiots who go around punching people in the face”. That is not righteous revolutionary activism, it’s thugishness and a profound embarassment to the workers movement!

We must warn the working class of the mortal danger that fascism represents and we must put the “alt-right” on notice that the working class is keeping them under strict observation – and the moment they cross over the line to fascism they will become recognized as such and will become the mortal enemies of the organized working class and will be treated the same way we treat the fascists: they will “have their heads acquainted with the pavement”!

We defend those antifa activists who bravely defend the working class from actual fascists; but we will not defend those politically confused pseudo-anarchists who “call themselves” “antifa” but who physically attack people who are NOT fascists! We will be happy to patiently explain to any honest “antifa” or anarchist activist how to tell the difference between a fascist and a right-wing blowhard “opening actfor the fascists like Yiannopoulos.

Workers have the right to physically confront the fascists wherever they raise their heads. The police in a capitalist state have always and will always “protect and serve” their capitalist masters and their fascist gangs.

Pro-capitalist liberals of the Democratic Party and the fake-left groups howl when they see workers and students out in the streets defending themselves and society from fascist and neo-fascist mobilizations. The liberals want workers to rely not on their own organized strength – which the Democrats and their capitalist patrons fear above all else! – but on the police forces of the capitalist state to stop the fascists “if they get out of hand”; they also defend the “free speech rights” of the fascist scum.

As revolutionary Trotskyists we know that the police can never be depended upon to stop the fascists as the role of the police in a capitalist state is to protect and serve the capitalist class and their investments. And the capitalist class own and operate the fascist parties so that they may use them to smash the most powerful opponents of unrestrained exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class: the trade unions and the revolutionary socialist and anarchist parties. Time and time again we have seen, in capitalist countries all over the world, police agencies chock full of fascists and proto-fascists. In Chicago, many of the police are so racist they can’t even restrain themselves from using vile racist slurs on the police radio system when they KNOW they are being monitored by their superiors!

The FBI did a study in 2006 (17oct2006_fbi_doc-26-white-supremacist-infiltration) that exposed the degree to which fascists and white supremacists had “infiltrated” the police agencies of the United States. Dozens of police departments north and south were discovered to harbor gangs of fascist white supremacists (a fact which every black and Hispanic worker or cop in the US has known for ages).  The Southern Poverty Law Center, also in 2006, published proof that the US military is also packed with white supremacist Nazi elements – and has done almost nothing about it. The US military harbors and trains thousands of white supremacist lunatics and provides them with practice opportunities against “real world” targets all over the globe.   Once they are done slaughtering people for the US capitalist class overseas and their tours of duty are over, many of these lunatics return home and get jobs working for local and state police agencies.  Is is any wonder, then, that time and again we have seen these fascist-ridden police departments deployed to protect the Klan and Nazis, and once the Klan and Nazis’ provocation is over… THE COPS ATTACK THE ANTI-KLAN/NAZI PROTESTORS!  The fascist-ridden police departments of the US are world-infamous for their brutal murders of unarmed black and Hispanic citizens. These are the kind of “neutral” arbiters of “public order” we have prowling the streets of US cities with badge and guns – not the “Officer Friendly” fantasy the liberals and fake-leftists want workers to rely on for “protection” from the Klan and Nazis!  These are the Nazi-ridden police departments run – in almost every major US city – and defended by the “lesser eveil Democratic Party!

The police in a capitalist state are NOT “neutral arbiters” between the workers and the fascists but are one of the “special bodies of armed men and women” who exist to defend the class privileges and stolen wealth of the capitalist class and to keep the working class “in their place”. That means that when the capitalist class decides to unleash their fascist attack dogs to smash the workers movement the police can ALWAYS be expected to “protect and defend” the interests of the capitalists by “protecting and defending” the fascists!

Not small groups of activists but millions of workers organized in workers’ defense guard battalions based on the trade unions must be created to effectively smash the fascist threat in the egg!

The working class must create workers defense guards to defend the working class from the mortal danger that the fascist threat represents – whenever and wherever it appears. It is not a job for small groups of anarchists or socialists to “substitute themselves” for the integrated working class in defending human society from the fascists. Anarchists and socialists must go out and organize workers of all races, creeds and colors wherever they are: at work, at union meetings, at their places of worship, and urge them to join with us in confronting the fascist threat because it is particularly the minority workers who will be the first targets of the fascists if they become emboldened enough to operate openly in our cities. Only the effective mobilization of millions of workers into integrated workers defense guard battalions can effectively counter and crush the fascist movement in the egg. These battalions must be based on the organized power of the trade unions who are also among the top targets of the fascists. This has been done before quite effectively here in the US and around the world and it can and must be done again. Fascism? NEVER AGAIN!

It is tragic that honest political activists are led by political charlatans into physically attacking right-wing creeps who pose no serious threat to anyone – exposing those activists to brutal police attacks, arrests, jailing, and perhaps even death at the hands of racist (and often fascist) cops and prison guards! We must carefully choose our enemies so as not to squander our limited, precious and noble real antifascist activists on attacks against conservative windmills! We must organize and prepare ourselves to defend our working class sisters and brothers against our deadliest enemies: the real fascists whenever and wherever they appear. We must also not seek to substitute handfuls of heroic and self-sacrificing antifa and revolutionary socialist activists for the huge numbers of union workers of all races, creeds, colors – and political persuasions – who must be organized and brought into the streets to confront and crush the actual fascists whenever and wherever they raise their heads! We need to organize MILLIONS of worker-activists, especially in the potential bastions of working class power – the trade unions – into disciplined battalions of worker-militants in order to crush the fascist movement in the egg. Only the revolutionary Trotskyists have a class-struggle programme time-tested and successful that can not merely combat all the many forms of fascism from the Black Hundreds of Bolshevik Russia to the Ku Klux Klan but which can put an end once and for all to the capitalist system that creates, nurtures, organizes, finances and unleashes the fascist hordes to smash the workers movement. Every successful workers revolution in world history has had at its head a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries with a revolutionary program for the overthrow of the old regime and for the creation of a workers government. We need to build a Trotskyist vanguard party now to lead the next wave of workers revolutions – in the US and around the world – so all future generations can live in a world where xenophobic fascism no longer exists! JOIN US!

To smash fascism once and for all time we say: capitalism must die so that the working class may live!

IWPCHI

For Trotskyist Political Revolution to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution! A Response to Ross Wolfe

We republish our response to Ross Wolfe’s

Fidel Castro on the Frankfurt School

— a disgusting anti-communist rant slandering late Stalinist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro which he published on his sometimes interesting but ultimately reactionary blog “The Charnel-House”.

Pretending to be a form of Trotskyism, “State-capitalists” are those who, like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the USA, espouse the belief that the USSR, China and all the Stalinist/Maoist workers states (which Trotsky accurately described as “deformed workers states” that should be defended at all costs as historic gains of the workers’ movement) are in fact a new form of capitalist state that should be completely overthrown.  When the USSR collapsed it was one of the greatest defeats the working classes of the world ever suffered; the “State-capitalists” – along with the capitalist classes and the fascists of the world – celebrated its self-immolation.  We warn the workers of the world: those who call themselves “state-capitalists” are among the greatest enemies of the working class and have always proven in the end to be among the staunchest defenders of capitalism as the “lesser evil” in comparison to Stalinism.  They pretend to be Trotskyists but are unalterably opposed to Trotsky’s concept that the USSR was a bloc of bureaucratized, deformed workers states that had overthrown capitalism and therefore should be defended by the Trotskyists worldwide; he called for only a POLITICAL revolution to oust the bureaucracy in favor of a more democratic socialist workers republic.

Ever since the historic workers and peasants revolution led by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in 1917 whether or not they defended the USSR  has been a litmus test for all so-called “Marxist” workers parties.  “Those who can not defend old conquests will never make new ones” is a quote attributed to Trotsky in relation to this controversy.  When the USSR collapsed all the phony “workers parties” in the world celebrated this historic defeat for the workers of the world.  They pretend today that the “Defense of the USSR” is a moot point; in fact, as even such a relatively minor event as the death of Fidel Castro shows, any party’s response to “The Russian Question” (as it was known until the collapse of the USSR) enables us to make a very accurate characterization of the extent of their revolutionary Leninist/Trotskyist principles (or, more often, the lack thereof).

Unfortunately we do not have time to go into this in more detail.  We recommend that you read Trotsky’s  “In Defense of Marxism” (IDOM) which is a series of articles and letters Trotsky wrote attacking the Burnham/Schactman faction in the then-revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the US.  Trotsky succinctly describes the reasons why the USSR had to be defended by revolutionary Marxist/Leninists in  “Again and Once More Again on the Nature of the USSR”

which is included in IDOM.

— IWPCHI

Thank you Ross Wolfe, et al, for once again confirming Trotsky’s warning to workers not to follow the “state-capitalist” road. It leads to outright political disorientation and to counterrevolutionary collaboration with the capitalist class.

Castro was a Stalinist, yes. Like most people on the planet he was not a “red diaper baby”. He was forced to embrace Stalinism when the United States made it clear that there would be no acceptance of the Cuban revolution by the US capitalist class and their allies. Yet Castro must be considered to have been one of the great – if massively contradictory – revolutionary leaders of the 20th century. The Cuban Revolution transformed Cuba from being the “whorehouse of the Caribbean” to being one of the most egalitarian and civilized nation states in the entire Western Hemisphere – indeed, in the world! Even the most cursory comparison between Cuba and Haiti or the Dominican Republic – or even Puerto Rico or vast swathes of the USA – proves the superiority of even a backward Stalinist bureaucratic regime to the typical brutal satrapies of the capitalist nation-states of the region – or even that capitalist monstrosity of monstrosities the United States itself! Anyone who cannot see the tremendous gains the Cuban workers and peasants made under the – (perhaps it would be more precise to call it “Khruschevized”) – Castro regime as compared to what they suffered under the Batista regime is absolutely blind!

Attempting an analysis of the deeply contradictory nature of a phenomenon such as a Stalinized workers state is where the dialectical materialist method proves its indispensability. An analysis of the contradictory nature of a Stalinist workers state cries out for the nuanced and very comprehensive analysis only made possible through use of the dialectical materialist method as taught by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. The death of Castro provides a litmus test of every “Trotskyist”‘s ability to utilize this method of analysis in the same way that a successful solo crossing of the Atlantic by sailboat using only the most essential manual tools for navigation proves the skill of a sailor. You, Ross Wolfe and Ashmeet Teemsha – and all your “State-Capitalist” co-thinkers – have once again failed the test comprehensively. By now you should have learned that your “state-capitalist” analysis of the USSR and its progeny is rotten through-and-through. That you have not done so demonstrates your profound inadequacy as proletarian leadership material. Your chosen vessel – let’s call it “Burnham’s Folly” (with its obviously rotten, worm-eaten hull) – has never made , will never make – it CAN NOT MAKE its pretended destination!

Like all Stalinists, Castro was a man of many contradictions. Pursuing revolutionary socialist reconstruction of the Cuban economy one year and then breaking bread with the Pope the next. Praising Allende one year and standing side-by-side with his murderer and the butcher of the Chilean working class Pinochet later. This is where the anti-Marxist and nationalistic ideology of Stalinism leads: to make unprincipled blocs with the class enemy in all its forms over and over again.

But to claim that Stalinism is entirely counterrevolutionary – as Trotsky patiently explained – is absurd even on the face of things. Capitalism was indeed overthrown in Cuba and a Stalinist bureaucracy erected to defend then gains of that revolution which was, unlike the USSR’s, deformed at birth. The Castroists pursued the typical course of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union which the Cuban Stalinist bureaucracy was modeled after: a zig-zag course full of unprincipled compromises and the occasional outburst of honorable internationalist impulses, as demonstrated in the heroic Cuban effort in Angola. To call Castro and his regime “counterrevolutionary” through and through and to refuse to recognise and defend the very real gains of the Stalinized Cuban Workers and Peasants’ revolution is to make a mockery of Marxist analysis. It is to place oneself FAR OUTSIDE the revolutionary Trotskyist movement and on a trajectory identical to that of arch-counterrevolutionary James Burnham.

In what way are your anti-Castro and anti-Stalinist statements to be distinguished from those of the most virulently anticommunist capitalists, or even the fascists? “Fidel Castro, Sta­lin­ist butcher and en­emy of the work­ers, is dead. [Good fucking riddance.”] The work­ing class won’t be happy un­til the last bur­eau­crat is hung with the in­test­ines of the last cap­it­al­ist.” This is not Trotskyism. It is pure, rabid, emotional anticommunism. Anti-Stalinism taken to an absurd length; where the well-engineered and time-tested tools that enable one to make a rational, carefully considered dialectical materialist analysis are tossed aside and replaced with cheaper, poorly crafted non-dialectical tools that can only create outrageously hysterical emotional outbursts. Using those cheap tools to craft your “analysis” of the Cuban revolution and one of its principal leaders, you find yourselves standing on a creaky platform of your own construction among your co-thinkers in the anti-communist Cuban gusano exile community in places like Miami, Florida; your words and theirs almost identical. You try to win these rotten elements over to your side politically by utilizing their entirely subjective and pro-capitalist analysis of Cuba in place of a scientific, Trotskyist dialectical materialist analysis. And you poison the minds of the workers by pretending to be Marxist revolutionaries – Trotskyists even! – while howling along with the anticommunist mobs chanting slogans indistinguishable from those of even the fascists.

Immediately after Castro died, we warned the working class to keep an eye out for those who are seeking to utilize the death of Fidel Castro as an opportunity for slandering him and the Cuban deformed Stalinist workers state, as these people thereby expose themselves as the mortal enemies of the working class they truly are. You have taken up your rightful position as such enemies of the working class and this lesson must never be – will never be – forgotten by young proletarians who are seeking to lead the workers of the world to the long-delayed (principally by fake-Marxist “leaders” like you!) final victory over the capitalist class. In the last analysis, today’s State Capitalist “Marxists” will prove to be as counterrevolutionary as were all the “state-caps” that came before them. You are headed down the road of the repulsive anticommunist James Burnham, not the road of Lenin and Leon Trotsky. You are well on your way to a rapprochement with “the lesser evil” capitalist class and their bribed lackeys. Some of you made that deal long, long ago and are deliberately trying to destroy the workers movement by spreading your anti-Trotskyist poison. The working class has no use for “leaders” like you! Be on your way! And “good fucking riddance”!

Workers: Defend the Cuban Revolution! For Trotskyist political revolution in Cuba to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution Throughout the Americas!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

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Leon Trotsky Gives the Best Explanation Ever of Dialectical Materialism

We present to our readers what is probably the best, most concise and easy to follow explanation of what exactly is the essence of Marxist dialectics – the philosophy of dialectical materialism.  Suffice it to say that any worker who tries to comprehend political science without the benefit of the materialist Marxist dialectic will find herself in a world of confusion – like the bourgeois philosophers, economists and political scientists themselves.

What is the use of studying Marxism and Marxist dialectics?  It is quite simply a matter of life and death for the working class.  For example:  revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyists understand that capitalist society is a class society and is divided primarily into two classed: the capitalist class of exploiters and the working class of the exploited.  The class interests of these two classes are irreconcilably counterposed to each other.  There can be no “peace” between these two classes since the capitalists must ruthlessly exploit the workers in order to maintain their massive wealth, and the capitalist class state maintains an enormous repressive apparatus of cops, courts, jails and the military to crush the workers every time the workers try to fight for their rights.

When a political party rejects the Marxist dialectical method of reasoning, it loses its compass and can no longer find its way in the world; it can no longer serve as a revolutionary leadership for the working class.  A tragic example of this can be found in the Colombian Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo (FARC–EP),  (FARC for short).  This formerly formally “Marxist” political party has just concluded a “peace” agreement with the murderous Colombian capitalist class.  They have told their members that “peace” between the exploiters and exploited is possible under capitalism and they have declared to the world that they have achieved a “peace” agreement with the same politicians and government that has murdered tens of thousands of workers and peasants in the past century.  In fact the ex-Marxist renegades of FARC who, up until a few years ago, felt it was absolutely necessary to organize a revolutionary army in order to defend themselves from the Colombian capitalist class death squads and military forces has now become so disoriented since they have abandoned the Marxist dialectical method of reasoning that they are ordering their members to SURRENDER THEIR WEAPONS TO THE U.N. as part of this “peace” swindle!  Needless to say, the Colombian capitalist class has absolutely no intention of giving up THEIR weapons – or the weapons in the possession of their death squads either!   The last time FARC tried to obtain a “peace” agreement with the Colombian capitalist class and run candidates in “free and democratic elections, dozens of their leaders and at least 4 to 6 THOUSAND of their sympathisers and party members were murdered by the Colombian military and death squads organized and financed by the capitalists and big landlords! FARC has learned nothing from this tragic failure of their party leadership, and in 2016, having abandoned revolutionary Marxism (and by extension the Marxist dialectical method of reasoning that would have prevented them from making the same hideous mistake twice in just thirty years), they have betrayed the Colombian workers and peasants once again.  THAT is what happens to fake “Marxists” – and, more tragically, to the workers who follow them – when they abandon the Marxist method of dialectical materialism! (We have repeatedly tried to warn FARC away from concluding a “peace” agreement with the capitalists and away from agreeing to disarm, to no avail.)

There is really no need for an introduction or explanation of this material except to say that it is part of the series of Trotsky’s letters and essays that make up the book “In Defense of Marxism” which was published (and continues to be published) by Pathfinder Press;  our version comes from the Marxist Internet Archive and was proofread and checked with our edition of “In Defense of Marxism” (3d edition), Pathfinder Press, 1981.  We have edited it slightly; where excisions have been made we place the following: […].

— IWPCHI

Leon Trotsky: The ABC of Materialist Dialectics

[…]

The dialectic is neither fiction nor mysticism, but a science of the forms of our thinking insofar as it is not limited to the daily problems of life but attempts to arrive at an understanding of more complicated and drawn-out processes. The dialectic and formal logic bear a relationship similar to that between higher and lower mathematics.

I will here attempt to sketch the substance of the problem in a very concise form. The Aristotelian logic of the simple syllogism starts from the proposition that “A” is equal to “A.” This postulate is accepted as an axiom for a multitude of practical human actions and elementary generalizations. But in reality “A” is not equal to “A.” This is easy to prove if we observe these two letters under a lens – they are quite different from each other. But, one can object, the question is not of the size or the form of the letters, since they are only symbols for equal quantities, for instance, a pound of sugar. The objection is beside the point; in reality a pound of sugar is never equal to a pound of sugar – a more delicate scale always discloses a difference. Again one can object: but a pound of sugar is equal to itself. Neither is this true – all bodies change uninterruptedly in size, weight, color, etc. They are never equal to themselves. A sophist will respond that a pound of sugar is equal to itself “at any given moment.” Aside from the extremely dubious practical value of this “axiom,” it does not withstand theoretical criticism either. How should we really conceive the word “moment”? If it is an infinitesimal interval of time, then a pound of sugar is subjected during the course of that “moment” to inevitable changes. Or is the “moment” a purely mathematical abstraction, that is, a zero of time? But everything exists in time; and existence itself is an uninterrupted process of transformation; time is consequently a fundamental element of existence. Thus the axiom “A” is equal to “A” signifies that a thing is equal to itself if it does not change, that is, if it does not exist.

At first glance it could seem that these “subtleties” are useless. In reality they are of decisive significance. The axiom “A” is equal to “A” appears on one hand to be the point of departure for all our knowledge, on the other hand the point of departure for all the errors in our knowledge. To make use of the axiom “A” is equal to “A” with impunity is possible only within certain limits. When quantitative changes in “A” are negligible for the task at hand then we can presume that “A” is equal to “A.” This is, for example, the manner in which a buyer and a seller consider a pound of sugar. We consider the temperature of the sun likewise. Until recently we considered the buying power of the dollar in the same way. But quantitative changes beyond certain limits become converted into qualitative. A pound of sugar subjected to the action of water or kerosene ceases to be a pound of sugar. A dollar in the embrace of a president ceases to be a dollar. To determine at the right moment the critical point where quantity changes into quality is one of the most important and difficult tasks in all the spheres of knowledge including sociology.

Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects. In the elaboration of bearing-brass into cone bearings, a certain deviation is allowed for the cones which should not, however, go beyond certain limits (this is called tolerance). By observing the norms of tolerance, the cones are considered as being equal. (“A” is equal to “A.”) When the tolerance is exceeded the quantity goes over into quality; in other words, the cone bearings become inferior or completely worthless.

Our scientific thinking is only a part of our general practice including techniques. For concepts there also exists “tolerance” which is established not by formal logic issuing from the axiom “A” is equal to “A,” but by dialectical logic issuing from the axiom that everything is always changing. “Common sense” is characterized by the fact that it systematically exceeds dialectical “tolerance.”

Vulgar thought operates with such concepts as capitalism, morals, freedom, workers’ state, etc. as fixed abstractions, presuming that capitalism is equal to capitalism, morals are equal to morals, etc. Dialectical thinking analyzes all things and phenomena in their continuous change, while determining in the material conditions of those changes that critical limit beyond which “A” ceases to be “A”, a workers’ state ceases to be a workers’ state.

The fundamental flaw of vulgar thought lies in the fact that it wishes to content itself with motionless imprints of a reality which consists of eternal motion. Dialectical thinking gives to concepts, by means of closer approximations, corrections, concretizations, a richness of content and flexibility; I would even say a succulence which to a certain extent brings them close to living phenomena. Not capitalism in general, but a given capitalism at a given stage of development. Not a workers’ state in general, but a given workers’ state in a backward country in an imperialist encirclement, etc.

Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar thinking in the same way that a motion picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion. Dialectics does not deny the syllogism, but teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding closer to the eternally changing reality. Hegel in his Logic established a series of laws: change of quantity into quality, development through contradictions, conflict of content and form, interruption of continuity, change of possibility into inevitability, etc., which are just as important for theoretical thought as is the simple syllogism for more elementary tasks.

Hegel wrote before Darwin and before Marx. Thanks to the powerful impulse given to thought by the French Revolution, Hegel anticipated the general movement of science. But because it was only an anticipation, although by a genius, it received from Hegel an idealistic character. Hegel operated with ideological shadows as the ultimate reality. Marx demonstrated that the movement of these ideological shadows reflected nothing but the movement of material bodies.

We call our dialectic, materialist, since its roots are neither in heaven nor in the depths of our “free will,” but in objective reality, in nature. Consciousness grew out of the unconscious, psychology out of physiology, the organic world out of the inorganic, the solar system out of nebulae. On all the rungs of this ladder of development, the quantitative changes were transformed into qualitative. Our thought, including dialectical thought, is only one of the forms of the expression of changing matter. There is place within this system for neither God, nor Devil, nor immortal soul, nor eternal norms of laws and morals. The dialectic of thinking, having grown out of the dialectic of nature, possesses consequently a thoroughly materialist character.

Darwinism, which explained the evolution of species through quantitative transformations passing into qualitative, was the highest triumph of the dialectic in the whole field of organic matter. Another great triumph was the discovery of the table of atomic weights of chemical elements and further the transformation of one element into another.

With these transformations (species, elements, etc.) is closely linked the question of classification, equally important in the natural as in the social sciences. Linmeus’ system (18th century), utilizing as its starting point the immutability of species, was limited to the description and classification of plants according to their external characteristics. The infantile period of botany is analogous to the infantile period of logic, since the forms of our thought develop like everything that lives. Only decisive repudiation of the idea of fixed species, only the study of the history of the evolution of plants and their anatomy prepared the basis for a really scientific classification.

Marx, who in distinction from Darwin was a conscious dialectician, discovered a basis for the scientific classification of human societies in the development of their productive forces and the structure of the relations of ownership which constitute the anatomy of society. Marxism substituted for the vulgar descriptive classification of societies and states, which even up to now still flourishes in the universities, a materialistic dialectical classification. Only through using the method of Marx is it possible correctly to determine both the concept of a workers’ state and the moment of its downfall.

All this, as we see, contains nothing “metaphysical” or “scholastic,” as conceited ignorance affirms. Dialectic logic expresses the laws of motion in contemporary scientific thought. The struggle against materialist dialectics on the contrary expresses a distant past, conservatism of the petty bourgeoisie, the self-conceit of university routinists and … a spark of hope for an after-life.

=== FINITO===

 

 

The Origins of Exposing Government Secrets: The Russian Revolution Leads to Publication of Secret Treaties of “Democratic Europe”

As you can imagine, we love the Russian Revolution of 1917, which was one of the most successful and bold of all time and which initially attempted, heroically and against daunting odds, to bring the concept of a workers revolutionary government from the realm of theory into practice.

The Russian Revolution triumphed because Tsarism had completely discredited itself among the people of Russia.  The nation was exhausted by its participation in WWI, which, by late 1917, saw Russian peasants and workers being conscripted and sent to the front without weapons, or even shoes.  Alone among the opposition to the Tsarist government, the Bolsheviks promised the country that if they took power, the first act of the revolutionary socialist government would be to declare an end to the bloodbath the capitalists of the world had plunged the workers into since 1914.  And the Bolsheviks kept their word – to the horror and shock of the capitalist world, who were making quite massive profits from the bloodbath in Europe.

Another promise the Bolsheviks of Lenin and Trotsky made – and kept – was their promise upon seizing power to publish the full text of all the secret treaties that had been worked out between the “democratic” Allied powers for the redivision of the nations of the “third world” depending on which side “won” the war.  Of course, the “Great Democracies” denied that such treaties existed, but the Bolsheviks blew those lies to smithereens when they placed before the eyes of the entire world these priceless gems of bourgeois “diplomacy”, revealing its greedy, bloodthirsty and racist nature.  The damage done to human civilization by this post-WWI carve-up of the defeated countries reverberates to this day, especially in the Middle East.  The fact that the capitalist world has continued to lie to the workers for 100 additional years about its vicious secret “diplomacy” when we have known for more than a century just what a savage gang of scumbags they are is a sad commentary on the working class willingness to be led around like dogs on a leash by our capitalist “masters”.

We are pleased to present to our readers this early example of “whistleblowing” writ large, by the leaders of one of the great revolutionary movements of all time: the Bolsheviks.

The great Russian Communist leader Leon Trotsky wrote this preface to the publication of the secret treaties:

“Secret diplomacy is a necessary weapon in the hands of a propertied minority, which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to make the latter obey its interests. Imperialism, with its world-wide plans of annexation, and its rapacious alliances and arrangements, has developed to the highest extent the system of secret diplomacy. The struggle against Imperialism, which has ruined and drained of their blood the peoples of Europe, means at the same time the struggle against capitalist diplomacy, which has good reason to fear the light of day. The Russian people, as well as the peoples of Europe and of the whole world, must know the documentary truth about those plots which were hatched in secret by financiers and industrialists, together with their Parliamentary and diplomatic agents. The peoples of Europe have earned the right to know the truth about these things, owing to their innumerable sacrifices and the universal economic ruin.

“To abolish secret diplomacy is the first condition of an honourable, popular, and really democratic foreign policy. The Soviet Government makes the introduction of such a policy its object. For this reason, while openly offering to all the belligerent peoples and their Governments an immediate armistice, we publish simultaneously those treaties and agreements which have lost all their obligatory force for the Russian workmen, soldiers, and peasants, who have taken the Government into their hands….

“Bourgeois politicians and journalists of Germany and Austria-Hungary may endeavour to profit by the published documents in order to represent in a favourable light the diplomacy of the Central Empires. But every effort in this direction would be doomed to failure for two reasons. In the first place we intend shortly to put before the public secret documents which will show up clearly the diplomacy of the Central Empires. In the second place-and this is the chief point-the methods of secret diplomacy are just as international as Imperialist rapacity. When the German proletariat by revolutionary means gets access to the secrets of its Government chancelleries, it will produce from them documents of just the same nature as those which we are now publishing. It is to be hoped that this will happen as soon as possible.

“The Government of workmen and peasants abolishes secret diplomacy, with its intrigues, figures, and lies. We have nothing to conceal. Our programme formulates the passionate wishes of millions of workmen, soldiers, and peasants. We desire a speedy peace, so that the peoples may honourably live and work together. We desire a speedy deposition of the supremacy of capital. In revealing before the whole world the work of the governing classes as it is expressed in the secret documents of diplomacy, we turn to the workers with that appeal which will always form the basis of our foreign policy: ‘Proletariats of all countries, unite!’

“L. TROTSKI, People’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs.”*

Enjoy!

IWPCHI

The Secret Treaties and Understandings

This text is courtesy of and copyrighted by the Great War Primary Document Archive at http://www.gwpda.org/

Leon Trotsky: “Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism”

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Boston, we wish to make clear that the revolutionary socialist workers movement – of which we are a part – is now and has always been opposed to the philosophy of terrorism as a means of revolutionary change.  This early essay by the great Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky is an excellent outline of the revolutionary Marxist attitude towards terrorism.

IWPCHI

**************************************
Leon Trotsky
Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism
(November 1911)

Originally published in German in Der Kampf, November 1911.
Originally transcribed for the Philisophy/History Archive, which is now the Philosophy Section of the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Proofread by Einde O’Callaghan, November 2006.

Our class enemies are in the habit of complaining about our terrorism. What they mean by this is rather unclear. They would like to label all the activities of the proletariat directed against the class enemy’s interests as terrorism. The strike, in their eyes, is the principal method of terrorism. The threat of a strike, the organisation of strike pickets, an economic boycott of a slave-driving boss, a moral boycott of a traitor from our own ranks—all this and much more they call terrorism. If terrorism is understood in this way as any action inspiring fear in, or doing harm to, the enemy, then of course the entire class struggle is nothing but terrorism. And the only question remaining is whether the bourgeois politicians have the right to pour out their flood of moral indignation about proletarian terrorism when their entire state apparatus with its laws, police and army is nothing but an apparatus for capitalist terror!

However, it must be said that when they reproach us with terrorism, they are trying—although not always consciously—to give the word a narrower, less indirect meaning. The damaging of machines by workers, for example, is terrorism in this strict sense of the word. The killing of an employer, a threat to set fire to a factory or a death threat to its owner, an assassination attempt, with revolver in hand, against a government minister—all these are terrorist acts in the full and authentic sense. However, anyone who has an idea of the true nature of international Social Democracy ought to know that it has always opposed this kind of terrorism and does so in the most irreconcilable way.

Why?

‘Terrorising’ with the threat of a strike, or actually conducting a strike is something only industrial workers can do. The social significance of a strike depends directly upon first, the size of the enterprise or the branch of industry that it affects, and second, the degree to which the workers taking part in it are organised, disciplined, and ready for action. This is just as true of a political strike as it is for an economic one. It continues to be the method of struggle that flows directly from the productive role of the proletariat in modern society.

Belittles the role of the masses

In order to develop, the capitalist system needs a parliamentary superstructure. But because it cannot confine the modern proletariat to a political ghetto, it must sooner or later allow the workers to participate in parliament. In elections, the mass character of the proletariat and its level of political development—quantities which, again, are determined by its social role, i.e. above all, its productive role—find their expression.

As in a strike, so in elections the method, aim, and result of the struggle always depend on the social role and strength of the proletariat as a class. Only the workers can conduct a strike. Artisans ruined by the factory, peasants whose water the factory is poisoning, or lumpen proletarians in search of plunder can smash machines, set fire to a factory, or murder its owner.

Only the conscious and organised working class can send a strong representation into the halls of parliament to look out for proletarian interests. However, in order to murder a prominent official you need not have the organised masses behind you. The recipe for explosives is accessible to all, and a Browning can be obtained anywhere. In the first case, there is a social struggle, whose methods and means flow necessarily from the nature of the prevailing social order; and in the second, a purely mechanical reaction identical anywhere—in China as in France—very striking in its outward form (murder, explosions and so forth) but absolutely harmless as far as the social system goes.

A strike, even of modest size, has social consequences: strengthening of the workers’ self-confidence, growth of the trade union, and not infrequently even an improvement in productive technology. The murder of a factory owner produces effects of a police nature only, or a change of proprietors devoid of any social significance. Whether a terrorist attempt, even a ‘successful’ one throws the ruling class into confusion depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case the confusion can only be shortlived; the capitalist state does not base itself on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with them. The classes it serves will always find new people; the mechanism remains intact and continues to function.

But the disarray introduced into the ranks of the working masses themselves by a terrorist attempt is much deeper. If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one’s goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organisation? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for the party? Why meetings, mass agitation and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?

In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.

The efforts of reaction to put an end to strikes and to the mass workers’ movement in general have always, everywhere, ended in failure. Capitalist society needs an active, mobile and intelligent proletariat; it cannot, therefore, bind the proletariat hand and foot for very long. On the other hand, the anarchist ‘propaganda of the deed’ has shown every time that the state is much richer in the means of physical destruction and mechanical repression than are the terrorist groups.

If that is so, where does it leave the revolution? Is it rendered impossible by this state of affairs? Not at all. For the revolution is not a simple aggregate of mechanical means. The revolution can arise only out of the sharpening of the class struggle, and it can find a guarantee of victory only in the social functions of the proletariat. The mass political strike, the armed insurrection, the conquest of state power—all this is determined by the degree to which production has been developed, the alignment of class forces, the proletariat’s social weight, and finally, by the social composition of the army, since the armed forces are the factor that in time of revolution determines the fate of state power.

Social Democracy is realistic enough not to try to avoid the revolution that is developing out of the existing historical conditions; on the contrary, it is moving to meet the revolution with eyes wide open. But—contrary to the anarchists and in direct struggle against them—Social Democracy rejects all methods and means that have as their goal to artificially force the development of society and to substitute chemical preparations for the insufficient revolutionary strength of the proletariat.

Before it is elevated to the level of a method of political struggle, terrorism makes its appearance in the form of individual acts of revenge. So it was in Russia, the classic land of terrorism. The flogging of political prisoners impelled Vera Zasulich to give expression to the general feeling of indignation by an assassination attempt on General Trepov. Her example was imitated in the circles of the revolutionary intelligentsia, who lacked any mass support. What began as an act of unthinking revenge was developed into an entire system in 1879-81. The outbreaks of anarchist assassination in Western Europe and North America always come after some atrocity committed by the government—the shooting of strikers or executions of political opponents. The most important psychological source of terrorism is always the feeling of revenge in search of an outlet.

There is no need to belabour the point that Social Democracy has nothing in common with those bought-and-paid-for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declarations about the ‘absolute value’ of human life. These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values—for example, the nation’s honour or the monarch’s prestige—are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war. Today their national hero is the minister who gives the sacred right of private property; and tomorrow, when the desperate hand of the unemployed workers is clenched into a fist or picks upon a weapon, they will start in with all sorts of nonsense about the inadmissibility of violence in any form.

Whatever the eunuchs and pharisees of morality may say, the feeling of revenge has its rights. It does the working class the greatest moral credit that it does not look with vacant indifference upon what is going on in this best of all possible worlds. Not to extinguish the proletariat’s unfulfilled feeling of revenge, but on the contrary to stir it up again and again, to deepen it, and to direct it against the real causes of all injustice and human baseness—that is the task of the Social Democracy.

If we oppose terrorist acts, it is only because individual revenge does not satisfy us. The account we have to settle with the capitalist system is too great to be presented to some functionary called a minister. To learn to see all the crimes against humanity, all the indignities to which the human body and spirit are subjected, as the twisted outgrowths and expressions of the existing social system, in order to direct all our energies into a collective struggle against this system—that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral satisfaction.

[Source: Marxists Internet Archive]