After the liquidation of the East German state, its economic structure could not simply be merged and integrated into that of West Germany. Two and a half million people were trapped in Leningrad. In the late 1920s the KPD surrendered to a blind Stalinism which rejected (until it was too late) a common front against Hitlerism with the ‘Social Fascists’ – Moscow’s prescribed description of the SPD. Only months after receiving from the bourgeoisie one of its most prestigious accolades, the Nobel peace laureate is angrily shaking a mailed fist at the rebellious populace and threatening to restore “law and order.” The sudden collapse of the democratic pretensions of glasnost vindicates yet another prediction made by Trotsky: that capitalism cannot be restored peacefully and democratically in the Soviet Union, and, conversely, that the restoration of genuine, i.e., soviet democracy in the USSR is possible only on the basis of an antibureaucratic political revolution. The upheavals of 1905 convinced the Russian bourgeoisie that it faced in the form of the socialist proletariat a far more dangerous enemy than the tsarist autocracy. Such is the social diagnosis. BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. I think to some degree Napoleon betrayed the Revolution, by crowning himself Emperor, and through the opulent lifestyle he gave to himself, his family and his cronies. Stalin retained control through the continuous flow of information, his monopoly of secret intelligence and his immense authority - in these years his cult of the personality reached its apogee. The Left Opposition did not object in principle to diplomatic agreements between the Soviet Union and capitalist states. Our program retains, consequently, all its validity” (Trotsky, In Defence of Marxism, pp. Russia had recently gone through a series of wars: with Japan in 1905, a failed revolution in 1905, and World War I in 1914. The Cheka is sometimes referred to as the Bolshevik ‘secret police’, though most Russians were well aware of its existence and activities. On the contrary, it would throw her far back. From the standpoint of Marxism, a class is essentially distinguished by its independent roots in the economic structure of society. With the aid of the GPU, the bourgeois-liberal government suppressed the May 1937 uprising of the Catalonian working class and thereby guaranteed the ultimate victory of Franco. After long interrogations and brief secret trials, they were shot in October 1950. The characters, settings, and the plots are the same. The significance of the political divisions within the socialist tendencies existing in Russia and internationally in 1917 would not have been so clearly defined had it not been for Lenin’s previous labors. For four months these ministers, dripping with democratic hypocrisy, gripped me in a stranglehold to prevent me from protesting the greatest crime history may ever know” (Leon Trotsky, Writings of Leon Trotsky [1936-37] [New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970], p. 36). Those deprived of privileges are not inclined to create and defend them. Trotsky’s call for the Fourth International was not intended as punishment for the latest and most terrible crime of the bureaucracy and the Comintern; it was, rather, the necessary political response to the fact that the Stalinist regime and the prostituted Comintern were beyond reform. New York, Libertarian Book Club [1954] written 1936 first published 1937 Translated by Max Eastman Transcribed for … 'THE REUOLUTlon BETRAYED' -[.J. From Prinkipo Trotsky addressed fiery appeals to the ranks of the German Communist Party, calling upon them to prevent a catastrophe by reversing the policies of their leaders and implementing a united front of the entire workers’ movement against the Nazis. They might convert themselves into stock companies, or they might find some other transitional form of property—one, for example, in which the workers should participate in the profits. “The USSR thus embodies terrific contradictions. We might add that the events in Eastern Europe have been a no less crushing refutation of the sundry “new class” and “state capitalist” theories. The principles of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International, so brilliantly expounded in this volume, are destined to profoundly influence the future course of world history. And yet he insisted that the history of the Russian Revolution had demonstrated that such a leadership could be created. THE REVOLUTION BETRAYED Zoom study group on Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed, Thursday 8pm to 9:30pm from 10 September through to 26 November. More than 70 years after its initial publication, its analysis of the structure and dynamics of Soviet society and of the Soviet Union remains unsurpassed. What has been said above does not at all imply that a war—even a victorious war—would be in the interests of the Soviet Union. Burnham’s political evolution vindicated the warning which he received from Trotsky during the polemic of 1939-40: “Anyone acquainted with the history of the struggles of tendencies within workers’ parties knows that desertions to the camp of opportunism and even to the camp of bourgeois reaction began not infrequently with rejection of the dialectic.”. While Trotsky, as we see, did not at all underestimate the dangers confronting the USSR, he vehemently rejected the notion that the restoration of capitalism had already been accomplished or that it could be achieved peacefully and democratically. Women as the Spark for the Russian Revolution. The events of 1917 quickly exposed the political paralysis of the bourgeoisie. It is also clear that the rule of the bureaucracy was not rooted in forms of property that represented its own independent historical mission as a new ruling class. Arthur ***** In spite of Trotsky's tremendous role in the victory of the Russian Revolution, his name will be forever associated primarily with the struggle against its decline, with his patient exposures of Stalin's falsifications of the programme, and the history, of the revolution. As we have already pointed out, the “ridiculous theory” that the policies of the Soviet bureaucracy lead inexorably toward the restoration of capitalism was formulated by Leon Trotsky. And only a fighting unity with the Social-Democratic workers can bring victory. This tipped the balance in the Kremlin power struggle. Decades before the Soviet press discovered the evils of the “administrative-command economy,” Trotsky wrote: “Administrative planning has sufficiently revealed its power—but therewith also the limits of its power. The implications of their friendship would have catastrophic consequences for the Romanov dynasty. Trotsky was among the greatest exponents of the materialist dialectic which was, and remains, the imperishable contribution of Marxism to the development of human thought. Stalin and Leningrad Stalin was always suspicious of Russia's former capital. For example, when the leadership of the French section refused to carry out IS instructions to liquidate the organization into the French Communist Party, Pablo and Mandel peremptorily expelled the section’s majority from the Fourth International. For the regulation and application of plans, two levers are needed: a political lever, in the form of real participation in leadership of the interested masses themselves; and a financial lever, in the form of a real verification of a priori calculations with the help of a universal equivalent, which is unthinkable without a stable money system” (pp. On 22 June 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, aimed at destroying Bolshevism and annexing vast areas of the USSR to the Third Reich. Standing in the Ministry of Justice before Trygve Lie (the future United Nations Secretary-General) and his associates, Trotsky confronted the frightened Social Democratic officials who were using the testimony of fascist hoodlums as a legal pretext for his deportation from Norway. The signals emitted from the economic base, however powerful their source, are received at the outer layers of the political superstructure and recorded in the form of program and policy only after they have been mediated by the contradictory influences of historical tradition, culture, ideology and even individual psychology. Books have their destiny and that of The Revolution Betrayed has been bound up with the fate of the principles and ideals it espoused. The book has been awarded with , and many others. The East German events prefigure the developments within the Soviet Union in this respect.”, Historical events have vindicated the political and theoretical struggle waged by the International Committee against the revisions of Trotskyism by the Pablo-Mandel tendency. Trotsky rejected these morbid conclusions, which sought to deduce from the betrayals of the labor bureaucracies, Stalinist and Social Democratic, the nonrevolutionary character of the working class. He became an important friend and spiritual advisor to the Romanov family, particularly Tsarina Alexandra. Hopes Betrayed: The Russian Revolution and the Jews by Ben Cohen / The behavior of the Norwegian government was made all the more scandalous by the way it proceeded to organize the deportation of Trotsky from the country. Therefore, they demanded that the Fourth International renounce its unconditional defense of the Soviet Union in a war with a capitalist state. Both theories rejected the independent and creative historical role attributed by Marxism to the working class. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. But these essential changes, directed by the democratic organs of workers’ power, would take place on the basis of the existing nationalized property. Share . One of Marxism's most important texts, The Revolution Betrayed explores the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death. Thus, the only “realistic” course of action open to those who remained devoted to the cause of world socialism was to build a new, Fourth, International.  © If that were the case, it was necessary to acknowledge that the decay of capitalism led not to socialism, but to an unforeseen “bureaucratic collectivism” or, as Burnham put it, “managerial society,” based on the exploitation of proletarianized slaves by a technocratic elite. Whether or not socialism finally emerged out of those foundations, and within what span of time, depended upon a complex interaction of national and international factors. Leon Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed What is the Soviet Union and where is it going? Fortunately for the Soviet people fate intervened. Seeking alliances with the “democratic” imperialists—a designation which turned a blind eye to the plight of the colonial slaves of Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, etc.—the Soviet bureaucracy did everything it could to demonstrate that it was committed to the defense of the imperialist status quo. The Bolshevik victory was, indeed, the beginning of a massive international upsurge of the working class. From the writing of the Communist Manifesto in 1847 to the victory of the October Revolution 70 years later, the guiding principle of the Marxist movement had been its unshakeable conviction that the achievement of socialism depended upon the unified international efforts of the workers of all countries and their victory over world capitalism. Stalin and Leningrad Stalin was always suspicious of Russia's former capital. The Ukrainian, White Russian, Georgian, or Tiurk newspapers and books are only translations of the bureaucratic imperatives into the language of the corresponding nationality” (p. 150). This was followed within a few months by the arrest of the leaders of the Opposition and their exile to the distant reaches of the USSR. The Stalinist faction did not all at once renounce the goal of world revolution; rather, it indignantly protested the accusations of the Left Opposition. The October Revolution, he insisted, did no more than lay down the initial political foundations for the transformation of backward Russia into a socialist society. In the aftermath of Hitler’s victory, the Stalinist regime and the Communist International lunged to the right. He saw the suffocation of inner-party democracy as a symptom of the increasingly independent authority of the bureaucracy over all spheres of Soviet life. With low reserves of food and fuel, only a trickle of supplies, and rations at starvation level, without heating or lighting, running water or drainage, and exposed to one of the bitterest winters on record as well as to continual bombing and shelling, they died in appalling numbers. Therefore, in defining the Soviet Union Trotsky deliberately eschewed the use of finished and static categories, such as capitalism and socialism. The collapse of the Leningrad front would make Moscow, whose outer defences the Wehrmacht was rapidly penetrating, still more vulnerable; and its loss would deprive the Red Army of vital weapons and munitions. Hopes Betrayed: The Russian Revolution and the Jews by Ben Cohen / A large-scale air-lift of food into the city could have saved many lives, though it would have diverted planes from the military campaign. Whereas for bourgeois scholars and journalists the definition of the Soviet Union as a “socialist state” has generally been the assumed and unquestioned premise of their works, Trotsky rejected the facile use of the term “socialist” to describe the Soviet reality. For a time Burnham attempted to reconcile his political sympathy for the views of Trotsky with his increasingly hostile attitude toward the philosophical validity of dialectical materialism. Trotsky then outlined the transitional demands with which a Soviet section of the Fourth International would seek to mobilize the working class for the revolutionary overthrow of the Stalinist regime: freedom for the trade unions and factory committees, the regeneration of Soviet democracy, the legalization of Soviet parties, the ouster of the bureaucracy from the soviets and the abolition of its privileges, the revision of the planned economy in the interests of workers and consumers, the reorganization of the collective farms in accordance with the will of the workers, and the replacement of the bureaucracy’s collaboration with world imperialism with the Marxist program of proletarian internationalism. But we are doing all in our power to drive the French proletariat onto this road. Should Fascism come to power, it will ride over your skulls and spines like a terrific tank. Stalin seized the opportunity presented by Kirov's death to purge Leningrad of former oppositionists. After they were apprehended, the burglars claimed that they had discovered material proving that Trotsky had violated the terms of his Norwegian exile. Page 1 of 15. However, when Stalin, as Trotsky had predicted, suddenly signed his “nonaggression” pact with Hitler and later invaded Finland, liberal sentiment turned sharply against the Soviet Union. The shift in public opinion produced a political echo inside the American section of the Fourth International, which was then known as the Socialist Workers Party. As Trotsky explained: “It would be naive to imagine that Stalin, previously unknown to the masses, suddenly issued from the wings fully armed with a complete strategical plan. Substantial resources were allocated to the huge task of restoring the shattered infrastructure of the city and its surroundings. But in no other country did there exist a leadership whose political qualities approached those of the Bolshevik Party. [5] The Stalinists asserted that the USSR could arrive at socialism if only it was not thrown back by the intervention of imperialist armies. These criticisms were generally based on the apparent “realities” of the political situation: Trotsky was too isolated to build an International, his call would go unnoticed, the prestige of the Comintern was still too great within the international workers’ movement, a new International could only be built on the basis of a victorious revolution, etc. Without retracting or modifying its irreconcilable hostility to the Stalinist bureaucracy, it called upon the working class to unconditionally defend the USSR against the fascist spearhead of world imperialism. Stalin had hoped that the expulsion of Trotsky would deprive him of the possibility of developing the activity of the Opposition in the Soviet Union. Regardless of the initial forms of its development, a social counterrevolution of such magnitude could be realized only through the bloodiest and most brutal methods. 304-5). What does revolution mean? From 1918 to 1926, moreover, it was the power base of Grigorii Zinoviev, one of Stalin's main rivals to succeed Lenin. By the time spring came, half a million people were dead. The Revolution Betrayed also provided, many years before the word nomenklatura entered into the international vocabulary of sociology and politics, a concise summation of the social layers of which the bureaucratic elite was composed. A regime which had been established on the basis of the most advanced social program had at its disposal only the most meager economic resources. It argued that Trotsky had been too categorical in his denunciation of Stalin’s regime and had failed to appreciate its residual revolutionary potential. According to this logic, the historical mission of the workers’ state is the struggle for imperialist democracy. This theoretical and political apologia for Stalinism was first advanced in a 1949 biography of Stalin written by Isaac Deutscher, an emigrant from Poland who had once been active in the International Left Opposition, but had broken with Trotsky over his decision to found the Fourth International. The Revolution Betrayed is one of the most important Marxist texts of all time. If these as yet wholly new relations should solidify, become the norm and be legalized, whether with or without resistance from the workers, they would, in the long run, lead to a complete liquidation of the social conquests of the proletarian revolution” (p. 211). And this shameful interdiction was not violated or overthrown. The Soviet regime expressed the tension between these two antagonistic functions of the workers’ state: defending social property in the means of production while at the same time supervising bourgeois methods of distribution and therefore defending the privileges of a minority. Opinion. Leon Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein to David Leontyevich Bronstein (1847-1922) and Anna Lvovna (née Zhivotovskaya, 1850-1910) on 7 November 1879, the fifth child of a Ukrainian-Jewish family of wealthy farmers in Yanovka or Yanivka, in the Kherson governorate of the Russian Empire (now Bereslavka, in Ukraine), a small village 24 kilometres (15 mi) from the nearest post office. Transcribed for the Internet: by Zodiac between August 1993 and March 1996. Lenin’s differentiation between Marxism and all forms of petty-bourgeois opportunism made possible the fruitful political struggle waged by the Bolsheviks in 1917 against the reformist (Menshevik) allies of the bourgeois Provisional Government. With the encouragement of Stalin, the German Communist Party asserted with criminal light-mindedness that there existed no essential difference between Social Democracy and the Nazi Party, and that the former were, in fact, “social fascists.” Therefore, the Stalinists claimed, it was impermissible for the Communist Party to enter into a “united front” with the Social Democracy in order to conduct a common defense of the workers’ movement against the fascist hordes. There have been countless attempts to counterpose Luxemburg to the Bolsheviks, tearing her critical observations out of their proper political and historical context. Parties and states were no longer evaluated on the basis of the class interests and property forms they defended; instead, the scientific terminology of Marxism was replaced with deceptive and empty adjectives like “peace-loving” and “antifascist.” The local Communist parties assumed on behalf of the Kremlin responsibility for suppressing the struggle of the working class against governments which were so designated. Following the Balfour Declaration’s milestone, it’s now time to look back on the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, where a communist insurrection in St. Petersburg, then known as Petrograd, gave birth to a state that caused untold misery to millions for almost the remainder of the 20th century. What we call Russian revolution, from a long-term view, is a revolution in three episodes. Thus, we must first and foremost establish that the extension of the territory dominated by bureaucratic autocracy and parasitism, cloaked by ‘socialist’ measures, can augment the prestige of the Kremlin, engender illusions concerning the possibility of replacing the proletarian revolution by bureaucratic maneuvers, and so on. A brilliant and profound evaluation of Stalinism, it prophesies the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union. He identified the real social basis of the Stalinist regime: the bloated general staffs of the state administration, trade unions, and cooperatives; the tens of thousands of chairmen and executive committee members of innumerable town, district and regional soviets; the upper echelons of the army, navy and the secret police; etc. It has a great power of resistance, coinciding with the established property relations, with t… The revival of international Marxism could not be achieved through the reform of the Comintern, but only in a ruthless struggle against it. However, for someone looking for the opposite, a reasonable place to begin may be some of Trotsky’s writings—for example, My Life, The History of the Russian Revolution, and The Revolution Betrayed. Did this not mean that the Soviet bureaucracy could still play a historically progressive and even revolutionary role? The closest advisers of Mikhail Gorbachev openly acknowledge their admiration for the theories of Milton Friedman and the policies of Margaret Thatcher. We think we know the story of the Russian revolution - in October 1917, the Bolsheviks rose up, swept the tsar from power and communism was born. However, and here he was answering the numerous intellectual sycophants of the Kremlin, the policies of the Stalinist regime, despite the short-term successes, were intensifying the contradictions of the Soviet state and leading toward its destruction. Russia would have been picked apart by the imperialist powers upon the conclusion of the world war and reduced to a state of semicolonial dependency. The struggle was initiated by James P. Cannon, the founder of the Trotskyist movement in the United States. But we have built our entire policy upon this slogan. The Siege of Leningrad by Harrison Salisbury (Pan, 2000), Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy by Dmitrii Volkogonov, translated by Harold Shukman (Grove, 1991), Stalin: The Man and His Era by Adam Ulam (1989), Stalin by Edvard Radzinskii, translated by HT Willets (Sceptre, 1997). The development leads obviously to the road of revolution” (p. 245). That was because they only restated a political appraisal, which had already been made, of the general condition of the USSR. The demands, he insisted, could be secured only through “the victorious revolutionary uprising of the oppressed masses,” and the task “of leading the Soviet masses to insurrection” fell to the Fourth International. The distribution of goods, under the supervision of the state, continued to be carried out with a capitalist measure of value and therefore unequally. If anything has been made manifestly clear by the collapse of the Stalinist regimes, it is that they represented neither a specific form of state-directed capitalism nor a new form of exploitative society based on historically unique forms of property worked out by the bureaucracy. But, responding to pressure exerted by the Kremlin in the aftermath of the trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev, the Norwegian government decided to make opportune use of the lies of the fascist burglars. © Opinion. It is not a matter of this or that secondary question of tactics, but of the capacity for action of the proletariat, the strength to act, the will to power of socialism as such. The new theory of “national socialism” soon began to affect the strategy and tactics of the Communist International. Facts must be taken as they are: not only is war not excluded but it is also almost inevitable. To do so author employed success which fell upon him was a heavy price to be seen as alliance... 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