Left Unity should model itself on the pre-WWI SPD:

  • Tom
  • May 19, 2013 at 3:14 am
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  • As a supporter of Lenin and Trotsky I want to take issue with this. I concede that it is well written. Kudos on that. Having said that, style is no substitute for substance. Psychological analyses of individuals are not unimportant. However, the analysis here is very shallow when it comes to Russian events.
  • From day one, Trotsky and Lenin pinned their hopes in the Russian Revolution’s success on material forces that did patently not exist within the borders of the Russian empire. Both knew that the seizure of power by the Russian working class was likely to spark a socialist revolution in Germany and the rest of the advanced capitalist world. That was highly likely due to the fact that three years of imperialist war had hollowed out these reactionary capitalist states.
  • Successful socialist revolutions abroad would enable the relatively numerically small Russian working class to bypass an extended period of brutal class rule which had been the Marxist orthodoxy. These new revolutionary perspectives were ones Trotsky had held for over a decade, and ones Lenin adopted after February 1917.
  • Unfortunately, the revolutionary working class never received that material assistance. That did not happen because, although there were attempts at working class liberation throughout Europe and beyond, these revolutions were consciously sabotaged by the leaders of the reformist and centrist parties. Rosa Luxemburg and Antonio Gramsci were as clear on that as Trotsky and Lenin.
  • Stalin placed himself at the service of a rising state bureaucracy. The rise of this counterrevolutionary force was the tragic price the Russian workers and peasants paid for the betrayals of Karl Kautsky and co.
  • Lenin’s wife said during the show trials that if Lenin had not already died, he would be in one of Stalin’s slave labour camps, tortured, then executed.
  • Trotsky saw this process before Lenin did, but he was isolated by the rest of the Communist leadership because Lenin was too ill to see what was going on. Stalin managed to keep Lenin in the dark.
  • Only in his last months of life did Lenin try to do a deal with Trotsky so the pair of them could try to fight this bureaucracy, starting with removing Stalin as general secretary. But he died too soon, and they would both still have depended on successful socialist revolutions in Germany and beyond.
  • This is not an academic debate. Left Unity needs to be built on the basis of uniting the real left. And by ‘real’ left, I am talking about the anti-capitalist left. I am not in favour of keeping centrists out of Left Unity. A pure Leninist party is not on the cards today. However, we can and must build the kind of party that Marx and Engels wanted to build. That party will include a Rosa Luxemburg wing, like the pre-WWI SPD. It will contain a Lenin wing, like the pre-1912 RSDLP. But it should contain those who disagree with this politics.
  • Left Unity comrades must be able to unite on what we agree with, and agree to differ where we do not. Such a party will not form a majority government any time soon. But it can pile up a hell of lot of votes. And that will mean that the xenophobic ultra-Thatcherites of Nigel Farage don’t mop up the none-of-the-above protest vote that is dragging official politics far to the right of what most trade unionists and the oppressed want it to be.
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