In his otherwise well-argued article “The Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat Peasantry: Permanent Revolution Vietnam” in Activist Vol. 14, No. 4, Comrade Mike Karadjis wrote: According to Siegelbaum (Soviet State and Society Between Revolutions, Cambridge Uni Press, 1992, pp. 43-44), the ‘poor peasant committees’ had been a failure; there had been no second stage of the revolution in the countryside. I think this is probably correct, judging both by what happened next and what has happened elsewhere in the world...
Trotskyism & Permanent Revolution
There were a considerable number of misrepresentations of our party’s positions in David Glanz’s article in the IST discussion bulletin. In this response we will take up only the most politically important of these.
The Communist Party of Australia has recently published a pamphlet by David Matters entitled Putting Lenin’s Clothes on Trotskyism which claims that the DSP’s rejection of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution is really a cover for its support for Trotskyism. However, the real purpose of the pamphlet is to criticise the DSP’s position on the 1998 waterfront dispute.
During the first imperialist world war, a trend began to emerge among the Russian revolutionary Marxists that argued that since national oppression could not be abolished without an economic revolution against imperialism and capitalism, Marxists did not need to concern themselves with the problems of a political revolution to achieve democracy. Instead, the “nascent trend of imperialist Economism” (as Lenin characterised it) argued that all that was needed to abolish national oppression was the anti-capitalist economic revolution, i.e., the socialist revolution.
“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and precisely in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop half way… we shall bend every effort to help the entire peasantry achieve the democratic revolution, in order thereby to make it easier for us, the party of the proletariat, to pass on as quickly as possible to the new and higher task – the socialist revolution.” (V.I. Lenin, Social-Democracy’s Attitude to the Peasant Movement, September 1905)
Phil Hearse’s polemic against my pamphlet (Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution: A Leninist critique, Resistance Books, Sydney, 1998) proceeds from a fundamentally false assumption, i.e., that my pamphlet “attempts [to give] a general strategic view” of revolution in “the semi-colonial and dependent semi-industrialised countries”. He alleges that my pamphlet presents Lenin’s policy of carrying out the proletarian revolution in semi-feudal Russia in two-stages (a bourgeois-democratic and then a socialist stage) “as a general schema for the ‘Third World’ today”. Nowhere in my pamphlet, however, do I make such a claim.
Leon Trotsky was one of the outstanding Marxist revolutionaries of the 20th century. A leading figure in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from the time of its second congress in 1903, after joining the Bolsheviks in July 1917, Trotsky rapidly became one of its central leaders. When the Bolsheviks won a majority in the Petrograd soviet (council) of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, Trotsky was elected its president and in that capacity headed the organisation of the insurrection of November 7 (October 25 in the tsarist calendar).
Comrade Chris Slee’s answer to the question of whose policy was confirmed by the October Revolution – Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory or the Bolsheviks’ policy of a “two-stage revolution” – seems to be that both were partially proved right and both were partially proved wrong.
Nick Origlass, a central figure in the history of the Trotskyist movement in Australia, died on May 17 at the age of 88 with more than 60 years of political activity on the side of the working class behind him.
The following two letters – to Melbourne branch member Chris Slee and to Green Left Weekly contributor Phil Shannon, respectively – were written in response to comments made by them in letters published in Green Left Weekly last year.