Trotsky and Trotskyism- How Trotskyism was integrated into the left of capital

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Trotsky and Trotskyism- How Trotskyism was integrated into the left of capital
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                    A new book has been published!

                   Trotsky and Trotskyism

                   How Trotskyism was integrated into the left of capital

                                      Internationalist Voice

                   Homepage: www.internationalistvoice.org

                   Email: [email protected] 

The fundamental question that has arisen is how, from one of the main creators of the glorious October Revolution, from the famous orator of the Communist Revolution and from one of the heroes of the Civil War, a counter-revolutionary and anti-communist ideology called Trotskyism was formed. The bitter truth is that Trotsky himself was the original architect of Trotskyism, and integration of Trotskyism into the left of capital began during Trotsky’s lifetime and was completed irreversibly during World War II. It should be noted, however, that Trotsky died as a revolutionary, despite all the mistakes and confusion at the time of his death.

 Therefore, Trotsky and Trotskyism belong in two different camps. If Trotsky had not been assassinated, he might have distanced himself from Trotskyism. We have seen that Natalia Trotsky distanced herself from the Trotskyists and did not want to be known for the counter-revolutionary actions of the Trotskyists.

Trotsky, as chairman of the Petrograd Workers’ Councils, played a key role in councils in both 1905 and 1917. It is safe to say that after Lenin, Trotsky was the most important figure in the glorious October Revolution. Nevertheless, although Stalinism was the gravedigger of the October proletarian revolution, Trotsky was instrumental in implementation of the most brutal anti-labour policies, such as the militarization of labour, crushing of the Petrograd strike movement, the Kronstadt uprising, and so on, until he emerged as the opposition in 1923. For a long time, Trotsky was silent in the face of the counter-revolutionary rise, appeasement with power and Stalinism.

Referring to his successes in the Civil War, Trotsky stressed that these experiences could be used on the labour front as well, and that “militarization of labour” for the entire working class could be developed and applied to the reconstruction of Russia. Following the inefficiency of war communism, of which Trotsky was one of the main founders, Trotsky became a staunch supporter of the new economic policy (NEP). He played a major role in approving the ban on factionalism and was a key figure in approving the “United Front” tactic.

Trotsky could not understand the changes in capitalism and consequently could not understand the decline of capitalism. He failed to understand that the form of organization of the working class is determined not by the working class but by growth and development of capitalism. In the growing age of capitalism, trade unions were workers’ organizations, but as capitalism entered its age of decline, trade unions merged into the capitalist state.

Some of Trotsky’s supporters, including Mandel, have argued that Trotsky had a correct Marxist understanding of the transition period (dictatorship of the proletariat), socialism and communism. By referring to Trotsky himself, we have shown that the Trotskyists’ claim is not true and that Trotsky has been confused in this regard.

The Trotskyists claim that Trotsky was a serious critic of the anti-Marxist thesis of “socialism in one country” and fought against it throughout his life. But this is not true, and Trotsky not only has ambiguities in this regard but also occasionally loses his Marxist horizon and appears in the role of defender of “socialism in one country”.

We have shown that Trotsky abandoned the idea of ​​workers’ councils as a proletarian power, in favour of party dictatorship, and he strongly advocated substitutionism, that is, party dictatorship instead of working-class dictatorship. The fact is that party dictatorship is an unconscious privilege of parliamentarism.

During Lenin’s struggle against the dangers of the revolution, Trotsky did not stand by Lenin, and he remained silent and practically appeased the ruling power and Stalin. Trotsky not only obeyed Stalin but also promoted a culture of obedience and appeasement.

For Trotsky, nationalization was tantamount to socialization, so for him, the main task of socialism was not abolition of wage labour but expropriation of the bourgeoisie. It was in this context that, for Trotsky, private property in the hands of private capitalists was characteristic of capitalism, and state ownership was characteristic of socialism. Trotsky was unable to recognize that the bureaucracy he was talking about was a new ruling class with the means of production and, collectively, appropriation of the surplus value of exploitation of the working class. The resulting surplus value was to be divided among the members of the ruling class, the bureaucracy. The whole process was done collectively.

Trotsky saw the basis of Stalinism as the workers’ state. Trotsky considered the gravedigger of the October proletarian revolution, Stalinism, proletarian. The counter-revolutionary, who celebrated his victory over the ruins of the glorious October Revolution, became a stronghold of the counter-revolution and the greatest obstacle to advancement of proletarian positions.

For years, the main focus of the Trotskyist struggle was reform of the international communist, in other words, the struggle and attempts to resurrect the stinking corpse. But the aim of the Communist Left was not to revive the stinking corpse; rather, to form a faction, defend the proletarian and communist positions and fight against the Comintern, which had now become the centre of the counter-revolution.

Until 1934, there was some connection between Trotsky and Trotskyism with the Communist Left, but in that year, the rift and break were finalized. The Communist Left had come to the conclusion that following the merger of the Comintern with the capital camp in 1928, along with the temporary defeat of the proletariat and being defensive of the class struggle, a new party could not be formed on the basis of the proletariat agenda. Because party formation is not voluntary but the product of certain conditions of class struggle, in which existing organizations and groups are unable to meet the need for class struggle, the formation of a world party is going to be on the agenda. The Communist Left stated that what was needed was formation of communist factions, to defend proletarian positions and programmes so that they could form a new party when the conditions for a global class struggle demanded it.

If we look beyond some of the radical rhetoric from the Transitional Programme, the Fourth International Programme (the same minimum programme of the Social Democrats or the Stalinists) can be seen to emerge – the proposal of the National Assembly, the Constituent Assembly, national freedom, land reform, and so on. The transition programme states that workers must be equipped with a democratic programme as the first step. Why did the Bolsheviks, led by Trotsky himself, oppose the Constituent Assembly in Russia in 1917 and believe that all power should be in the hands of the Soviets? Trotsky’s transition programme reflects Trotsky’s departure from Marxism and his return to social democracy.

Trotsky called on the international proletariat to be cannon fodder in defence of the Soviet Union. For five years, the Trotskyists called on workers in all countries to massacre one another in the imperialist war, in World War II and in defence of the Soviet Union. The Trotskyists became good soldiers for bourgeois democracy and Stalinist counter-revolution and turned workers into cannon fodder in imperialist slaughter. As the Trotskyists became soldiers of the bourgeoisie during World War II, the Trotskyists were irreversibly integrated into the bourgeois camp.

The Trotskyists declared that the post-World War II era had changed the prospects of the labour movement; in other words, that the working class was no longer the material force of the social revolution. In the new age, colonial revolutions that would take the form of permanent revolutions would be part of the world revolution. In other words, the material force of the world revolution would not be the working class but the partisans of the colonial revolution.

In the age of imperialist decline, in the age of imperialism, all wars are reactionary; all wars are imperialist, and only social revolution is progressive. The fundamental question that arises is what was the position and orientation of the Trotskyists in the face of the imperialist wars? The Trotskyists, without exception, under the banners of “defending the revolution”, “defending democracy”, “fighting fascism”, “national liberation”, “liberation war” and “the right to self-determination”, etc., in all imperialist wars, have slaughtered workers, treated workers as cannon fodder and dragged the workers to imperialist slaughter.

Treating workers as cannon fodder in imperialist conflicts lies in the genetics of the Trotskyists, in their very DNA. There has never been an imperialist war in which the Trotskyists have not led the workers into imperialist slaughter. Workers’ blood drips from the hands of the Trotskyists.

Today, Trotskyism, after hundreds of splits, has collapsed into sects with conflicting beliefs and positions. These groups are the political apparatus of the left of capital. They are working, not for the emancipation of the working class, but for state capitalism.

Natalia Trotsky, Trotsky’s widow, was one of the Trotskyists who refused to join in with the reactionary and bourgeois actions of the Trotskyists and to be known or considered a Trotskyist in the continuation of Trotskyist counter-revolutionary policies. However, she failed to critique Trotskyism itself, the root cause of the Trotskyist counter-revolutionary positions.

The process of this study showed that the true heirs of communism – the Communist Left (although in absolute isolation and in the most difficult conditions and despite weaknesses and ambiguities in all social events) – were loyal to proletarian positions, presented proletarian horizons, tried to enrich Marxism and have become an important part of the historical memory of the proletariat. Therefore, the Communist Left will be the only possible alternative in the future world revolution.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Trotsky and the Revolution of 1905
  • Trotsky in Zimmerwald
  • Trotsky and His Role in the October Revolution
  • Trotsky and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  • Trotsky and the Treaty of Rapallo
  • Trotsky and the Civil War
  • Trotsky and War Communism
  • Trotsky and the New Economic Policy
  • Trotsky and the World Revolution
  • Trotsky and the Transition Period
  • Trotsky and the Thesis of Socialism in One Country
  • Trotsky and Substitutionism
  • Trotsky and the Decline of Capitalism
  • Lenin’s struggle Against Bureaucracy
  • Trotsky and Appeasement with Power
  • Trotsky and the Platform 46 People
  • Trotsky and the Communist Left
  • Trotsky and the Workers’ Opposition
  • Trotsky and the Kronstadt Tragedy
  • Trotsky and the United Front
  • Trotsky and the Last Resistance of the Opposition
  • The Break Between Trotsky and the Communist Left
  • Trotsky and the Nature of the Soviet Union
  • Trotsky and the Political Revolution
  • Trotsky and Entrism
  • Trotsky and the Rise of Nazism
  • Trotskyism and the Events in Spain
  • Trotsky and the Formation of the Fourth International
  • Trotskyism and the Transitional Program
  • Trotskyism and World War II
  • Trotskyism and the Concept of Imperialism
  • Trotskyism and the Material Force of the Socialist Revolution
  • Trotskyism and the Crisis in the Counter-Revolutionary Camp
  • Trotskyism and the Imperialist Wars
  • Trotskyism and the Trotskyists
  • Trotskyism in Iran
  • Summary and the Last Word

 

Internationalist Voice

February 2022

joan
 

 

Preliminary remark

This is a text written rather quickly,not thoroughly checked in all aspects, so it may contain errors.

The publication by Internationalist Voice of a book on Trotsky and Trotskyism is a very good thing, even if we perhaps do not fully agree with its contents.
I have not yet read the book, of course, and it is not clear to me how and where it can be obtained, whether it can be read online in full, etc.
I would like clarification on this from Internationalist Voice.

There was already the pamphlet on Trotskyism from the ICC section in France "Le trotskysme contre la classe ouvrière" https://fr.internationalism.org/brochures/trotskysme
(Unfortunately only in French and for a more or less large part mainly or only about groups in France (Therefore not less interesting, but still limited). I thought this brochure was also partly translated into English.
In addition, the ICC has published many "loose" articles in different languages about Trotsky and Trotskyism.(Note 1)

As I said, the publication of Internationalist Voice's book on Trotsky and Trotskyism is a very good thing.
This is because
1) Trotsky played an important positive role in the struggle of the working class
-chairman of the Saint-Petersburg/Petrograd Soviet in 1905 and in 1917,
-internationalist during WW 1,
-the joining of the Mezhraiontsy (interrayonists) to the Bolsheviks in 1917,
-winning soldiers for the uprising in 1917 by his speeches,
-chairman of the Revolutionary Military Committee in 1917,(Note 2)
2) he also showed very many weaknesses and made many mistakes

(both before and after the October revolution ) among others :
- not joining the Bolsheviks in 1903, but trying to play an (impossible) intermediate role somewhere between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks,
- advocate of the "militarisation of labour" (1920),
- the important role in crushing of the Kronstadt revolt (1921),
- later as leader of the Trotskyist movement ,
- the opportunistic organisation of the current (formation of groups in as many countries as possible as quickly as possible at the expense of the clarity of the program) culminating in the premature formation of a "4th International" in the midst of a counterrevolution (1938),
- his rejection of the Communist Left ("Italian Fraction")
- the at least very opportunistic positions in connection with the Italian-Ethiopian War (1935-1936), the Sino-Japanese War (started in 1937), the Popular Front in France (1936-1938) and the so called Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
3) Trotskyism originally formed an opposition group to Stalinism, albeit very late, very confused and very weak (Note 2)
4) Trotskyism with all its different groups and factions is at present in different countries and on a world-wide scale probably the most important and the most dangerous enemy of the working class struggle, of the struggle for communism.
This is precisely because it was once an expression of the working class struggle, albeit very late, very confused and very weak.
This is in contrast to Maoism (never an expression of the working class struggle, but only a form of expression of an already existing bourgeois current, Stalinism) and anarchism (never a pure expression of the working class struggle, always so much encompassing, always confused, although it belonged to the 1st International (with Bakuninists as well as Proudhonists) and there were always anarchist groups defending proletarian,especially internationalist positions).

The danger of Trotskyism lies in its extreme ability to speak, depending on the circumstances, of parliament, bourgeois democracy and trade unionism or of workers' councils, of nationalism or of internationalism, etc.,etc.
Perhaps the very fragmentation of Trotskyism into dozens of groups (Note 3) makes it all the more dangerous because there will almost always be a Trotskyist group that is adapted to the given circumstances.
If one group is "burnt out" by, for example, too strong an engagement in elections for organs of the bourgeois state, another group with a more workers' council discourse can take over and thus (try to) keep the struggling working class in the bourgeois sheepfold.

I did not mention before an important, if not the most important, element of Trotskyism.
Namely, the defence of the "Soviet Union" as a "degenerate workers state", whose socio-economic basis would still be good, but which had to be "corrected" by a mere political revolution.

This position formed the basis of the later defence of other "workers states" (Warsaw Pact countries, China, Cuba, Vietnam,...) and also of the "friends of my friends"(sic) the bourgeois democracies (republics and monarchs ) during WW2 and the "anti-imperialist" allies of the "Soviet Union" (Egypt, Syria, etc., etc., and all kinds of parties, militias, etc., etc.).

Note 1
There is a very useful text from the ICC in which the positions of left communism are contrasted, point by point, with those of Trotskyism (nature of the “Soviet Union”,parliament, trade union, national liberation, anti-fascism, etc.).Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find this text.
Probably there are comrades with a better memory or better search-qualities. :)

Note 2

It is questionable whether the creation and leadership of the "Red Army" was a good thing.
Note 3
"Trotskyism" in the "Soviet Union" was at one time and for a short time (?)much more than Trotsky and the "real" Trotskyists (faithful of Trotsky).If I am correct Sapronov, Ossinsky and Vladimir Smirnov also belonged to "Trotskyism" at one time.
Note 4
On Wikipedia there is a list of as many as 32 (!!!) Trotskyist still more or less active "Internationales".

Some well-known, with sections in many states (4th International (tendency Mandel)),ISA,IMT,IST,...),others totally unknown (to me).

 

Draba
joan wrote:

joan wrote:

Even if we perhaps do not fully agree with its contents.

Joan Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, the book is not currently available online in English but will be available online in English in the future.

Unfortunately, I do not understand what you mean by "we". So may I ask who are "we"? Thanks in advance.

joan
1) Thank you Draba for your

1) Thank you Draba for your quick and clear answer.

I understand that for now the book exists only in Farsi (on line and/or on paper).

 

2) Apologies for the confusion I caused by my “slip of the pen” and the use of the “pluralis majestatis”.

I do not represent any group, only myself.

It should have read "Even if I perhaps do not fully agree with its contents."

 

3) I think it is useful to discuss and try to reach as much agreement as possible about Trotskyism and how to counter it.

About the "distant" past (1903,1905,1917,1920-21,1936-37,1938,1940… But also about today with Ukraine, with Kazakhstan, with partial struggles and identity politics, etc.

 

 I would like to call all comrades as has already been said on other threads of this Discussion Forum :

"Feel free to add your comments !"

So Please also contributions about the content.

joan
The war in Ukraine and Trotskyism

Since its passage into the bourgeois camp, Trotskyism has never missed an opportunity to attack the consciousness of the working class by pushing proletarians to take the side of one imperialist camp against another during the conflicts that have followed one another since the Second World War. Their position in the face of the military chaos in Ukraine confirms this once again. These watchdogs of capitalism oscillate between openly warmongering positions, calling for support for one of the warring camps, and others, apparently more “subtle” and “radical”, but still justifying the continuation of barbaric militarism. The lies and mystifications of Trotskyism are a real poison for the working class, intended to disorientate it by posing as a form of Marxism!” (set in bold by me)

How right those words are!
It is the beginning of a rather short, but very clear article in the ICC press,
"Trotskyism: beating the drums of imperialist war "World Revolution 392 - Spring 2022
Submitted by ICConline on 14 April, 2022 - 11:39
 https://en.internationalism.org/content/17171/trotskyism-beating-drums-i...

(Note 1)

Very good is the exposure, in their own words, of the "internationalism" and "revolutionary defeatism" of the Trotskyists.(Note 2)

Also very useful is to once again go against the so-called "right of self-determination of peoples"(for anyone (Ukraine,people of Donbass, etc.).

The article speaks of "a weakness in Lenin's position on imperialism" (in relation to the position of Rosa Luxemburg) and clearly states

"the error of the Bolsheviks and the Communist International, who lived directly through the transition from the ascendant period of capitalism to its decadent one, without having drawn all the implications, is understandable. But, after a century of wars of aggression by any country against any other (Iraq against Kuwait, Iran against Iraq, etc.), to peddle the same position is pure mystification!"

 

Given that "the lies and mystifications of Trotskyism" "a real poison for the working class, intended to disorientate it by posing as a form of Marxism" are not limited to one country or only a few countries, the article deserves to be translated into even more languages.

(This optionally with reference to the associates of the NAP (member "4th International",tendency Mandel),LO (member and probably most influential group of the "Internationalist Communist Union",etc.) in other states).

 

 

Note 1

It dates back (originally) to 27 March 2022 and appeared earlier in French (hence the French examples (NAP and LO)), but it had slipped my attention.

"Le Trotskyism, grand rabatteur de l'impérialisme, recruteur de chair à canon" ("The Trotskyism, the great beater of imperialism, recruiter of cannon fodder")

 Révolution internationale n°493 - avril juin 2022

https://fr.internationalism.org/content/10741/trotskisme-grand-rabatteur...

The article is also included in the "Dossier spécial "Guerre en Ukraine"".

Note 2

I know that there are differences of opinion about the appropriateness of "revolutionary defeatism" in the current war or the current period.

I hope to deal with that later, in this or another thread.

 

 

This contribution is posted both in

Russia-Ukraine crisis: war is capitalism's way of life” and in

Trotsky and Trotskyism - How Trotskyism was integrated into the Left of Capital”

 

d-man
I also look forward to when

I also look forward to when this will appear in English.

joan wrote:
Trotskyism" in the "Soviet Union" was at one time and for a short time (?)much more than Trotsky and the "real" Trotskyists (faithful of Trotsky).If I am correct Sapronov, Ossinsky and Vladimir Smirnov also belonged to "Trotskyism" at one time.

No, they were known distinctly as "Decists" already early on. Later Smirnov (one of their leaders) even strongly criticised Trotskyism, whereas Dashkovsky (another Decist) was less hostile to working with Trotskyists. Translations of some of the Decist writings are online, listed at the top here. Also scroll down for Dashkovsky's defense of Trotsky, written in the 1960s (he survived the purges, and as a kind of time-capsule he preserved the old Trotskyism by himself, obviously not being in contact with the Trotskyism after Trotsky outside the SU).

joan wrote:
he also showed very many weaknesses and made many mistakes (both before and after the October revolution ) among others :...
- advocate of the "militarisation of labour" (1920)

Well, I somewhat came to understand Trotsky reasoning for that, when I saw the following excerpt (source; Trotsky):

Trotsky wrote:
on January 25, 1920 on the subject of the labour armies, Trotsky said: ‘This experiment is of the most vital moral and material importance. We cannot mobilise the peasants by means of trade unions, and the trade unions themselves do not possess any means of laying hold of millions of peasants. They can best be mobilised on a military footing. Their labour formations will have to be organised on a military model – labour platoons, labour companies, labour battalions, disciplined as required, for we shall have to deal with masses which have not passed through trade union training.’

So it seems it was a policy specifically due to the circumstance of a country with a large percentage of peasants (and maybe not even to expand industrialization, but merely to fill the emptied/lost proletarians in the previously existing industry).

joan
"militarisation of labour"

D-man wrote :

joan wrote: 

he also showed very many weaknesses and made many mistakes (both before and after the October revolution ) among others :...
- advocate of the "militarisation of labour" (1920)

Well, I somewhat came to understand Trotsky reasoning for that, when I saw the following excerpt (source; Trotsky):

Trotsky wrote: 

on January 25, 1920 on the subject of the labour armies, Trotsky said: ‘This experiment is of the most vital moral and material importance. We cannot mobilise the peasants by means of trade unions, and the trade unions themselves do not possess any means of laying hold of millions of peasants. They can best be mobilised on a military footing. Their labour formations will have to be organised on a military model – labour platoons, labour companies, labour battalions, disciplined as required, for we shall have to deal with masses which have not passed through trade union training.’

So it seems it was a policy specifically due to the circumstance of a country with a large percentage of peasants (and maybe not even to expand industrialization, but merely to fill the emptied/lost proletarians in the previously existing industry).”

Thank you for the clarification.
This fact, that the "militarisation of labour" was mainly or exclusively intended to mobilise peasants to replace the lost workers in industry is new to me.
I thought until now, and I understood it from all the reading, that the "militarisation of labour" was intended to militarise the working class, to degrade it to mere "soldiers of labour", without any rights except the "right to work" under the slogan "Shut up and work". And in this sense related to or a foreshadowing of the very repressive attitude of Trotsky and the Bolshevik regime (is not identical to all Bolsheviks) towards the workers' strikes of 1920 and 1921 in Petrograd and Moscow.
I have not yet read Trotsky's text referred to as "The Labour Armies The Transition to Universal Labour Service In Connection with the Militia System", December 1919.
Some quick reflections.
1) By "peasants" do we mean "real peasants", i.e. those who run their farm alone, with their family, or possibly with the help of personnel?
Or also farm workers ?
Farm workers often aspire to become farmers themselves, i.e. to own their own farm, but this does not alter the fact that as farm workers they are an integral part of the working class.
Often, far too often, almost all non-urban dwellers are turned into farmers, while non-urban inhabitants belong to different classes and layers just as much as urban inhabitants.
(Both in the city and outside the city the inhabitants of one and the same house can even belong to different classes or strata, such as the fact that in the 19th century nobles and higher bourgeoisie (= ruling class) lived together with their butlers, chambermaids , kitchen staff, gardeners, etc., in the same house. (All these household-the the , garden- and kitchen workers also belonged to the working class (even though they were not in the same situation as workers in the fields or factories and often felt different or better than other workers). ))

2) Workers and peasants are often mentioned in the same breath, as if these two classes have completely or largely the same interests.
E.g. also in the expression "workers' and peasants' republic" as a designation of the so-called "German Democratic Republic" (East Germany)

3) One can consider the "militarisation of labour" as a form of violence, and if it concerned the peasants, it was therefore not a violence of the soviet regime (at least in name still a "dictatorship of the proletariat") against the workers, not violence inside the working' class.And although working-class violence against other non-exploiting classes or strata (such as peasants without staff ) must be as limited as possible, it is not always avoidable and not always condemnable.

4) Trade unions : The mention of trade unions by Trotsky shows that he still considers them as organs of the working class, in contrast to the KAPD and other parts of the "German-Dutch Left" in the same period.
Trotsky shared this point of view with the majority of the Bolsheviks
(if not all Bolsheviks) probably also and especially because the trade unions had hardly been able to show their negative influence before the decadence phase of world capitalism began.
As a result, the fundamental difference between trade unions and workers' council-type organisations was not always so clear.
Both were usually illegal as well.
All this also in contrast to countries like the UK, Germany, Belgium and others.
It would be good if I would reread the trade union discussion in the bolshevik party.

5)Didn't the fact that one had to mobilise the peasants to replace the absent workers (Note 2) mean that the land was not or less cultivated and that this in turn created food shortages, that one solved (or tried to solve) one problem (shortage of labour in industry) by creating other problems?

6) The fact that Russia was a country with a large percentage of peasants and that this was a problem was yet another indication of the fact that a proletarian revolution must happen on a world scale or it does not happen.
(Theoretically, Trotsky was also convinced of the latter).
Because in many other countries the peasants did not form a large percentage of the population, it should not have been a problem on a world scale.

Note 1
At most, peasants without staff exploit themselves and/or their own families, but that is a separate category of exploitation.
Note 2
What exactly do you mean, d-man, by "emptied" proletarians ?

 

d-man
joan wrote: I thought until

joan wrote:
I thought until now, and I understood it from all the reading, that the "militarisation of labour" was intended to militarise the working class, to degrade it to mere "soldiers of labour", without any rights except the "right to work" under the slogan "Shut up and work". And in this sense related to or a foreshadowing of the very repressive attitude of Trotsky and the Bolshevik regime

I don't exclude the possibility that you can find something to support your assumption, and maybe it turns out we're talking about two different things even. The understanding that I have, is that it was the particular problem of demobilisation of the Red Army (as we discussed on the Kronstadt thread), transition the soldiers into civil work, but still retaining the ability to call them back into the army any moment (as the civil war possibly had not yet finished), which occupied Trotsky (and btw, one perhaps best doesn't ascribe this solution to him alone, – if I recall Stalinists like to bash Trotsky over this).

There is nothing of violence by itself in this as far as I can see. Well, perhaps except if you consider the principle of army conscription itself bad already.

joan wrote:
Trade unions : The mention of trade unions by Trotsky shows that he still considers them as organs of the working class,

The problem was placing the peasants at work (see again the Kronstadt thread, which is probably better to continue this there, if so inclined). The task trade unions here are considered incapable of fulfuling, is not the defending of wages (their normal task), but directing people (in this case mostly peasants) to jobs. The latter function (of directing people to work) is a responsibility which occurs in bourgeois society by agencies other than trade unions I think. If you want to say Bolsheviks had illusions in trade unions in this context, it would rather have been that trade unions could be entrusted with functions beyond their original function (effectively transforming them into something else, but then the objection seems to be not about trade unions as such, but about the function of the newly transformed organisation).

joan
"militarisation of labour"&trade unions

1) "militarisation of labour"
I wrote earlier ( #7) :
"One can consider the "militarisation of labour" as a form of
violence,..."
)
D-man wrote (# 8)
"There is nothing of violence by itself in this as far as I can see. Well, perhaps except if you consider the principle of army conscription itself bad already."
In itself army conscription is of course something else than beating, kicking, raping or killing i.e. violence in the most literal, most physical sense of the word.
But I use the term violence here in the broad sense of the word.
It might have been better to use the terms coercion or force instead of violence.
But probably because of centuries of class society, among others two centuries of capitalism, we have all become so used to it that we often don't see it anymore, but in fact army conscription is a form of violence or coercion or force, just like for example collecting taxes.
And the fact that the dictatorship of the proletariat may also have to use forms of military conscription does not change that in fact it is a form of violence/coercion/force. (Note 1 )

I have the impression that certainly peasants, even more than workers and employees, experience army conscription (or enlistment in "labour armies") as a form of violence/coercion/force, of violent/coercive intervention in their lives.
They (experience it as if they) were taken away from their land, from their business, from their family.
But their farm has to go on,, they have to sow, plant, harvest, mow,.... and in the absence of the husband, this has to be done by the wife, any older children, parents, parents-in-law.
I have the impression that farmers in general are even more negative than other population layers with regard to everything that is military and war.And this because the military take little or no account of the seasons and of the harvest, the military trample their crops, steal (even if there is a compensation, it is always too little) their horses (work force, transport), their cattle (food), occupy their barns, ... (Even if the use of work horses, oxen, etc. is much less today, it still remains an image that lives on in the collective memory of farmers).
Most of the time the peasants are resigned to all this, they see army conscription, taxes, etc. as something inevitable, something they cannot do anything about, and they just grumble and whine. "And the peasant, he ploughed on".
Only sporadically do they really resist, and that resistance can take the form of peaceful demonstrations, with or without tractors, but also of outright revolts (such as, to mention only those, the revolt in the Vendée region of France at the time of the French Revolution, at the end of the 18th century, or the Machno-movement).

Isn't this already a far deviation from the (original) subject, here Trotsky and Trotskyism?

I am open to the proposal of d-man to discuss the subject "militarization of labour" in the thread Kronstadt 1921.
This also because Trotsky may have been the inventor of the term "militarisation of labour", but he shared this view and similar ones with many other Bolsheviks, starting certainly with Lenin.
In this sense it is not a weakness or mistake of Trotsky alone or in particular, but a weakness or mistake inherent in the situation then in Russia, in Europe and in the world.
-----------------------
2) trade unions
D-man wrote :

"The task trade unions here are considered incapable of fulfuling, is not the defending of wages (their normal task), but directing people (in this case mostly peasants) to jobs. The latter function (of directing people to work) is a responsibility which occurs in bourgeois society by agencies other than trade unions I think. If you want to say Bolsheviks had illusions in trade unions in this context, it would rather have been that trade unions could be entrusted with functions beyond their original function (effectively transforming them into something else, but then the objection seems to be not about trade unions as such, but about the function of the newly transformed organisation)."

The defence of wages (and the improvement of working conditions, etc.) was indeed the normal task of trade unions in the ascendant phase of capitalism.
But as the basic positions of the ICC put it and d-man of course knows
and most likely he agrees hese positions too :
"With the decadence of capitalism, the unions everywhere have been transformed into organs of capitalist order within the proletariat. The various forms of union organisation, whether 'official' or 'rank and file', serve only to discipline the working class and sabotage its struggles." (set in bold by me)

And was this different in Russia before, during and after the October Revolution ? I do not think so.
This is regardless of whether the trade unionists ) were aware of it or not.

For the most part they were unaware of this fundamental change in the function of the trade unions, coinciding with the change in the role of capitalism, and, along with most Bolsheviks, saw the trade unions still as organs of the working class, alongside and together with the workers' councils(for example also Alexander Shliapnikov, one of the leaders of the "Workers' Opposition") (Note 1)

At most there was an instinctive ("class instinct") rejection of and opposition to the trade unions and the trade union logic.

As elsewhere, this recognition came even to the Communists only after a long period of struggle, of frustrations, of defeats.

And this rejection of the trade unions was, unfortunately, so little rooted, so little thought, so little theoretical foundated that already the 2nd congress of the 3rd International in 1920, after the partial rejection at the 1st congress in 1919, returned to the old trade union tactics.

(Note 2)

Many people, also in the proletarian political milieu, are still today not fully aware of this (e.g. the "bordigists" (or a part of them), who still swear by the possibility of creating "red trade unions").

I think d-man is right to point out the function here, as he say in this context, of the trade unions, "directing people to jobs", a function they apparently could not fulfill, or could not fulfill quickly enough, which is why the "soviet state" resorted to a (more) open "militarization of labour",whether or not so called

 

Maybe ,because belief in trade unions as organs of struggle of the working class is also not inherent to Trotsky or typically Trotskyist, also this subject (trade unions) can be better discussed in another thread ?

 

Note 1

This also reminds me of what Friedrich Engels wrote in 1872 :

... "the anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon - authoritarian means,..."

(Friedrich Engels,On Authority Written: 1872;Published: 1874 in the Italian, Almanacco Republicano;

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm)

 

Note 2

In Germany the situation was clearer, of course, also because the trade unions there had been playing their counter-revolutionary role more openly, in full legality, for some time before WW1, but also during and after the war.

The consciousness within the working class about the trade unions was much greater.

This was expressed, for instance, during the events at the end of 1918 in Hamburg when the funds of the trade unions by revolutionary workers were distributed among the unemployed.

But also in Germany the whole question of trade unions was not yet completely clear.

Just think of the development of the "Arbeiter Unionen" (AAUD) from original extensions in the enterprises of the political party, the KAPD (function not really clear to anyone and constantly contradictory) to more and more ordinary, though "radical" and "revolutionary" trade unions and their eventual disappearance.

Their disappearance was also foreseeable, given the impossibility, in the decaying phase of capitalism, of permanent mass organisations of the working class.

 

Note 3

See also Lenin's text (also distributed to participants in the 2nd Congress of the CI in 1920),""Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder", especially chapter VI ," Should Revolutionaries Work in Reactionary Trade Unions ?"

 

 

 

 

 

d-man
joan wrote: Isn't this

joan wrote:
Isn't this already a far deviation from the (original) subject, here Trotsky and Trotskyism?

I am open to the proposal of d-man to discuss the subject "militarization of labour" in the thread Kronstadt 1921.

I'm just cautious about not being seen as derailing this thread started by International Voice. However, as IV itself had raised the issue of our exchange first, so perhaps it's okay to continue them here.

IV wrote:
Trotsky was instrumental in implementation of the most brutal anti-labour policies, such as the militarization of labour, ...

Referring to his successes in the Civil War, Trotsky stressed that these experiences could be used on the labour front as well, and that “militarization of labour” for the entire working class could be developed and applied to the reconstruction of Russia. ...

Trotsky could not understand the changes in capitalism and consequently could not understand the decline of capitalism. He failed to understand that the form of organization of the working class is determined not by the working class but by growth and development of capitalism. In the growing age of capitalism, trade unions were workers’ organizations, but as capitalism entered its age of decline, trade unions merged into the capitalist state.

Leaving aside to what extent these are specific Trotskyist positions (and are upheld still today by Trotskyists), let me just repeat Trotsky's argument for the militarisation of labour, as expressed in his polemic against Kautsky, Terrorism and Communism. The (Menshevik) critics of compulsory labour apparently defend the right of "freedom of labour", so it's a good place to start by the question, what "freedom of labour" or voluntary work, means in reality. Trotsky gives an analysis of this, which is worth quoting:

Trotsky wrote:
For the Liberal, freedom in the long run means the market. Can or cannot the capitalist buy labor-power at a moderate price – that is for him the sole measure of the freedom of labor. That measure is false, not only in relation to the future but also in connection with the past.

It would be absurd to imagine that, during the time of bondage-right, work was carried entirely under the stick of physical compulsion, as if an overseer stood with a whip behind the back of every peasant. Mediaeval forms of economic life grew up out of definite conditions of production, and created definite forms of social life, with which the peasant grew accustomed, and which he at certain periods considered just, or at any rate unalterable. ...

On the other hand, the relation of the capitalist to the worker is not at all founded merely on the “free” contract, but includes the very powerful elements of State regulation and material compulsion.

The competition of capitalist with capitalist imparted a certain very limited reality to the fiction of freedom of labor; ... this competition, (is) reduced to a minimum by trusts and syndicates ...

“Free,” that is, freely-hired labor, did not appear all at once upon the world, with all the attributes of productivity. ... First of all the bourgeoisie drove the peasant from the village to the high road with its club ... At this stage, as we see, “free” labor is little different as yet from convict labor, both in its material conditions and in its legal aspect. At different times the bourgeoisie combined the red-hot irons of repression in different proportions with methods of moral influence .. (It) adapted for itself a new religion in the form of the Reformation, which combined the free soul with free trade and free labor. It found for itself new priests, who became the spiritual shop-assistants, pious counter-jumpers of the bourgeoisie. The school, the press, the market place, and parliament were adapted by the bourgeoisie for the moral fashioning of the working-class. Different forms of wages – day-wages, piece wages, contract and collective bargaining – all these are merely changing methods in the hands of the bourgeoisie for the labor mobilization of the proletariat. To this there are added all sorts of forms for encouraging labor and exciting ambition. Finally, the bourgeoisie learned how to gain possession even of the trade unions – i.e., the organizations of the working class itself; and it made use of them on a large scale, particularly in Great Britain, to discipline the workers. It domesticated the leaders, and with their help inoculated the workers with the fiction of the necessity for peaceful organic labor, for a faultless attitude to their duties, and for a strict execution of the laws of the bourgeois State.

... Step by step it learned to squeeze out of the workers ever more and more of the products of labor; and one of the most powerful weapons in its hand turned out to be the proclamation of free hiring as the sole free, normal, healthy, productive, and saving form of labor.

A legal form of labor which would of its own virtue guarantee its productivity has not been known in history, and cannot be known. The legal superstructure of labor corresponds to the relations and current ideas of the epoch.

...

The imperialistic war, and that which followed it, displayed the impossibility of society existing any longer on the foundation of free labor. Or perhaps someone possesses the secret of how to separate free labor from the delirium tremens of imperialism, that is, of turning back the clock of social development half a century or a century?

Trotsky here lists different methods of (ideological) incentivisation that are required in order to make people perform work; religion, school, press, and eg also the market place (I don't know exactly what he means by this, but perhaps it could be attractive job advertisements?). He also mentions the trade unions, so he is aware of their capitalist capture, at least in England. But the most interesting method Trotsky here mentions is I think the proclamation of free hiring (or voluntary quitting of a job), that is freedom of labor. It means that "freedom of labour" itself is in reality just another bourgeois method of incentivising people to agree to work, presumably for the psychological reason, that people are offered a choice (between jobs).  Trotsky's point is that "freedom of labour" (as a legal form/superstructure) was not the only method the bourgeois uses to incentivize people to work. His argument is that the dictatorship of the proletariat can motive people to work (eg by moral persuasion), without the method of "freedom of labour", which he seems to believe in some way was always a bourgeois illusion (except in the ascendant capitalist era perhaps).

When all companies are collectivised in the revolution, then Trotsky seems to argue there is one central mechanism which "hires"/distributes/directs workers to certain jobs, and there is no competition between companies that offer a choice to workers. It's just an automatic consequence, or inherent aspect, of revolution. By the way, if I recall correctly, the young Kautsky in bourgeois Austria once gave an argument against state nationalization of some industry, because the bourgeois state as an employer if it gained a monopoly in that industry, could thereby also determine the hiring process of all workers in that industry (and so black-list troublesome workers). That maybe be a negative aspect of (bourgeois) nationalization, but it also fortifies Trotsky's point, that freedom of labour is already limited in the imperialist phase of capitalism.

joan
Who decides? The workers' councils?

I must admit that I have most probably read the quoted text (#10 ) from Internationalist Voice (IV), but unfortunately it has not stuck sufficiently.
But I agree with the quoted text from IV almost word for word.
What I miss in the whole discussion about labour obligation , labour armies, etc. is who decides.
Apparently not the working class, organised in its councils (soviets).

As is well known, the workers' councils were then largely reduced to empty boxes.
On the one hand, because very many workers had gone directly to war, had even died, or had returned to their villages of origin in search of food, etc.
On the other hand, and inseparable from the first,because there was the ever-growing bureaucratisation and ever-growing militarisation.
And so these "workers' councils" were in no way comparable to the bustling centres of discussion and decision-making that they had been in 1917.
And which, oh irony, precisely Trotsky so aptly described in 1930 in his "The History of the Russian Revolution".

 

d-man
If you are willing to accept

If you are willing to accept compulsory labour on condition that this power of directing/appointing workers to certain workplaces is made directly by the soviets themselves, one can imagine that a worker who is dissatisfied with the workplace they're assigned, would vote to recall the existing delegates in the soviet who made that decision, and elect some other delegate who is willing to appoint him to the particular workplace they want. However, if there are several  workers that want to be appointed to the same job of which there a limited number, it's clear that even if several of the unlucky workers respond by recalling the soviet delegate, whoever they elect instead, can still only appoint some of them, but not all of them, given the limited number spaces at that particular workplace. I find compulsory distribution of jobs (regardless of "who" decides it) an interesting question of principle, although it's a complex problem of the transition economy, and probably beyond the scope of this thread. As an easier starting point perhaps, I ask again whether we accept or reject the principle of compulsory conscription of workers (to the armed forces) during the civil war?

d-man
analogy

By the way, the word "militarization" (of labour) was used by Trotsky also just as a mere figure of speech:

Trotsky wrote:
Why do we speak of militarization? Of course, this is only an analogy – but an analogy very rich in content.  ... The question of the life or death of Soviet Russia is at present being settled on the labor front; our economic, and together with them our professional and productive organizations, have the right to demand from their members all that devotion, discipline, and executive thoroughness, which hitherto only the army required.

... The chief of our resources is moral influence – propaganda not only in word but in deed. General labor service has an obligatory character; but this does not mean at all that it represents violence done to the working class. If compulsory labor came up against the opposition of the majority of the workers it would turn out a broken reed, and with it the whole of the Soviet order. The militarization of labor, when the workers are opposed to it, is the State slavery of Arakeheyev. The militarization of labor by the will of the workers themselves is the Socialist dictatorship. That compulsory labor service and the militarization of labor do not force the will of the workers, as “free” labor used to do, is best shown by the flourishing, unprecedented in the history of humanity, of labor voluntarism in the form of “Subbotniks” (Communist Saturdays).

This analogy to the military is not unique to the communist movement. It's also found in religion: the Salvation Army, whose members are even called "soldiers", adopt the titles of army ranks, and uniforms. It adopted the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers", which was composed for children.

joan
militarisation of labour analogy

d-man tries to understand Trotsky and the Bolsheviks, and that is of course a good thing.

 

d-man (#13) quotes Trotsky

"Why do we speak of militarization? Of course, this is only an analogy -"

Many socialist/communist writers and militants used this analogy long before Trotsky did, Lenin also used it and I did too (in the sense of "the battalions of the army of the proletariat in the heartlands").

But because the struggle of the working class,the struggle for communism is so completely opposite to the whole essence of the military it is best not to use this analogy.

Quote of Trotsky :

"The militarization of labor, when the workers are opposed to it, is the State slavery of Arakeheyev. The militarization of labor by the will of the workers themselves is the Socialist dictatorship."

"The problem, however, was" that the "Soviet State" was not identical with the dictatorship of the proletariat,that the Bolsheviks too had a wrong and dangerous conception of the relationship between the working class and the party of the working class,that the working class, organised in the workers' councils, did not have the monopoly of disposition of arms, etc.,etc., etc.

 

The reference to the "Salvation Army" does not, of course, make it any better.On the contrary.

I am not saying anything new when I say that in the Old Testament, i.e. the Jewish part of the Bible (on which both Christianity and Islam rely) there are many approving or neutral mentions of wars and military conflicts.

And there was the military expansion of Islam and there were the crusades (By the way, not only against Muslims, but also against "heathens" (a.o. the Estonians) and against "heretics" (the Cathars)).There are the Jesuits, founded by Ignatius of Loyola, a nobleman and military man, an order in which the members are required to maintain strict obedience to the superior general and the pope.

And wasn't it true that when the papal state still covered a large part of the territory of present-day Italy, the pope (like other "ordinary" heads of state) regularly went to war as commander of his army?

 

But the subject here is the "militarisation of labour" (of which Trotsky was a defender) and more generally Trotsky and Trotskyism.

 

I already had something in the "draft" in response to an earlier post in this thread.

Some more "polishing" and then I'll probably send it on.

 

 

joan
military service & compulsory labour

I did not want to leave this reply (or start of reply or attempted reply) to # 12

not to take too long.

 

As a result, the following is

-not always formulated/constructed in a logical or coherent way and it is here and there in telegram style.

-In part, it is a reiteration of views expressed earlier (in other threads).

- a mixing up of the two issues (on the one hand compulsory labour, labour armies, on the other hand military service)

And although they are closely related, they are not identical.

Probably some points also seem (or are) unnecessary elaborations on other issues.

 

I apologise for all this.

 

 

Military service cannot be completely excluded under the dictatorship of the proletariat, but its decisions must always be subject to thorough discussion and reasoned decision by the workers' councils and thus by the general assemblies of the workers.

Isn't that realistic?

But the accusation of a lack of realism, of dreaming, was and is so often used, and very often entirely unjustly.

When communists speak of the working class they speak first of all of the working class as it usually is, as it is most of the time, not, namely the working class in revolutionary situations.

There will be, and must be, " pithy " discussions in the workers' general assemblies, also about compulsory labour and military service and their practical consequences for the workers and for others (non-exploitative strata).

And the responsibility of the more conscious elements, of the organisation of revolutionaries, also in this period remains enormous.

Of course, I am also aware that, even under the dictatorship of the proletariat, not every military question can always be submitted in advance to the judgement of the workers' council or even to the whole of the combatant group concerned or to the soldiers' council of that combatant group.

But the civil war between the working class and the bourgeoisie is not a war in the proper sense of the word for the working class.

The more this class struggle in 1917-1922 in the Russian empire took on the character of an "ordinary" war, the less it became a class struggle in the true sense of the word.

 

One has to consider

1) what the dictatorship of the proletariat means :

"The dictatorship of the proletariat on a world scale: the international power of the workers' councils, regrouping the entire proletariat.” (Basic positions of the ICC)

2) That it is not one possibility among many, but the ONLY possibility of carrying out the proletarian revolution.

 

On the difference between compulsory labour and military service :

Trotsky saw the military methods, which had led to successes in the civil war, in the military confrontation, as useful in "civil" life as well, especially in the organisation of labour.

Compulsory labour, labour in certain companies, in certain areas, is not or should not be life-threatening, but with military service, especially in wartime, there is of course a good chance of getting hurt, being maimed for life, or being killed.

The creation ("out of nowhere") of the "Red Army" is very often seen as one of Trotsky's great achievements and as one of the conditions for the victory of the "Soviet bastion" in the civil war of 1917-1922

But (again) here the question : at what price ?

A military victory, but what was lost?

And so we are back in the problems of Kronstadt 1921.

See again the quotation from "Octobre" (Vercesi) , 1938

(whatever defects the article may contain) (See : thread Kronstadt 1921)

Characteristics of the international revolutionary wave 1917-23 :

- it was the very first time (No experience of any previous revolutionary movement of the working class for many years more or less in succession in different states and even continents)

- it came out of war (See earlier, in another thread more elaborated and argued (I thought in the thread "Ukraine") : war does not create the best conditions for a proletarian revolution)

- It was for a large part military (and therefore often also (unintentionally) became for a large part patriotic/nationalistic ("defense of the fatherland" be it a "revolutionary, socialist fatherland"), certainly in the Russian empire with the years of civil war, but also in Hungary in 1919.

 

The "Spanish civil war", by many (anarchists, trotskyists,...) also called the Spanish revolution, started in 1936 was often, wrongly, equated with the Russian revolution started in 1917 and Franco was also often, wrongly, equated with Kornilov.

Therefore another quote :

"On July 19, 1936, the proletarians of Barcelona, WIHTOUT WEAPONS, fought off the coup of Franco's regiments, who were ARMED TO THE TEETH.

On May 4, 1937, these same proletarians EMPLOYED WITH WEAPONS left on the pavement a much higher bodycount than they had lost in winning the victory against Franco, and it is the antifascist government, including anarchists and now reconciliating with the POUM, through many wheels of its apparatus, that has unleashed a wave of repressive forces against the workers."

The Belgian and the Italian Fraction of the International Communist Left

" Machine-Gun Punishment, Shelling, Repression - This is how the Popular Front responds to the Barcelona workers who dare fight back against the capitalist attack."

Prometeo,1937, may 30 (source : ICP " Il Partito Comunista",Firenze

https://www.international-communist-party.org/English/REPORTS/WARS/Barce...

(Capitals in the original text)

 

Note 1

For example, contact and solidarity between the workers of establishments of the same company in different regions, states or continents or solidarity between workers with the same profession or working in the same sector (e.g. dockers, miners, automobile workers, railway workers, seamen, firemen) is good and important, but it can also (quickly) lead to corporate egoism, to corporatism and to competition with workers in other sectors, in other professions.

For example, contact and solidarity between workers with the same language, the same cultural, ethnic, racial background in different regions, states and continents can be very useful, but it can also (quickly) lead to

confinement within that own specificity (e.g. Jews, Pakistanis, Kurds, Filipinos, etc., etc.).

Note 2

Compare the text of "The International”

"There are no supreme saviors,

Neither God, nor Caesar nor tribune; " (2nd couplet of the oldest known text in French ;Source: Eugène Pottier, Chants Révolutionnaires. Paris, Comité Pottier, [n.d. 1890-1900].

https://www.marxists.org/history/ussr/sounds/lyrics/international.htm)

Note 3

Karl Marx The German Ideology Part I: Feuerbach.

Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook D. Proletarians and Communism

The Necessity of the Communist Revolution (4)

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01d.htm

 

d-man
war of words

joan wrote:
Many socialist/communist writers and militants used this analogy long before Trotsky did, Lenin also used it and I did too (in the sense of "the battalions of the army of the proletariat in the heartlands").

Yes, also of military origin is the term "vanguard", from "avant-garde" (and used by Marxists like Luxemburg in German: vorhut, vortrupp) as used in politics, and in the sphere of art/culture.

joan wrote:
But because the struggle of the working class,the struggle for communism is so completely opposite to the whole essence of the military it is best not to use this analogy.

But why then not also reject such a term like "vanguard", or "class war"? Should we even reject phrases like the "war on poverty" or "war against illiteracy"?

Quote:
"The problem, however, was" that the "Soviet State" was not identical with the dictatorship of the proletariat,that the Bolsheviks too had a wrong and dangerous conception of the relationship between the working class and the party of the working class,that the working class, organised in the workers' councils, did not have the monopoly of disposition of arms, etc.,etc., etc. The reference to the "Salvation Army" does not, of course, make it any better.On the contrary.

I suppose the problem in case of the specific term "militarization" (of labor) is, that it is associated with a specific historical episode (or what this episode evokes), but then I would just point out, the problem is really about that historical episode, and it is not yet shown, that there is a problem with Trotsky's analogy and theoretical conception by itself. I gave the example of the Salvation Army, of course not to say that religion is (or even charity organisations in general are) peaceful, but that the military analogy (or military terms) can be used even by a non-Bolshevik group, like this specific charity organisation, without the inevitable consequence (of the use of this analogy), that this charity will start a real military crusade.

joan
Terms of milit. origin&specific hist.episode-theor. conception

D-man wrote (# 16 ) :

...also of military origin is the term "vanguard", from "avant-garde" (and used by Marxists like Luxemburg in German: vorhut, vortrupp) as used in politics, and in the sphere of art/culture.”

But why then not also reject such a term like "vanguard", or "class war"? Should we even reject phrases like the "war on poverty" or "war against illiteracy"? “

You are right.

We will not be able to ban all terms with an original military meaning from the language, not even those of communists, and that is not necessary either.

We must not fall into paranoia about these terms.

And my elaboration about the Salvation Army is not (only) about analogies, but also about actual warfare, actual military combat in the name of religion or carried out by religious or by order of religious (e.g. call for crusade by the Popes and by the monk and hermit Peter of Amiens).

Nevertheless, we must always be on our guard against the dangers of (unnecessary, inappropriate) use of military language and military/tough behaviour, of its banalisation, normalisation (as happened in Russia).

This manifested itself also in party names ("battle names").

E.g. "Stalin" = “the man of steel”,

"the bayonet" Vladimir Antonev-Ovseyenko,

"Kamenev" = “the iron, the man of iron”,

"Parabellum" =Karl Radek (in his articles in the "Berner Tagwacht" (WW 1 in Switzerland)). Parabellum is also a certain calibre of ammunition for pistols and pistol machine guns).

And also in clothing (leather jackets, high boots,etc.) with many leading bolsheviks.

Not all of them,e.g.Lenin did not participate in that.

d-man wrote :

"I suppose the problem in case of the specific term "militarization" (of labor) is, that it is associated with a specific historical episode (or what this episode evokes), but then I would just point out, the problem is really about that historical episode, and it is not yet shown, that there is a problem with Trotsky's analogy and theoretical conception by itself."

This still needs to sink in, I need to think about this thoroughly.

 

 

joan
little, but important correction to #17

“Nevertheless, we must always be on our guard against the dangers of unnecessary, inappropriate use of military language...”

d-man
I had suggested we deal with

I had suggested we deal with the issue of compulsory military service as a perhaps easier, starting point, before we move on to the issue of compulsory labor service, as it seemed to me the implied automatic step in reasoning is, that if one considers it fair to impose the obligation upon one's fellow-workers to do their share and fight at the front (during the civil war) risking their lives, then one will more likely consider it also fair to impose an obligation that all workers do their share at the economic front, and even more so, as the latter doesn't involve risking one's life; even if, as Joan, one does not readily accept the first point (of conscripted armed forces in civil war), then one might still accept the second point (ie compulsory labor), given that it is a less important obligation (at least to me, it seems less important to be consigned a specific workplace, than to be consigned a specific battle-field). I'm sure some may find this implied step to be just an unconvincing construction or game in logic. Therefore I will just try to focus directly on the issue of (Trotsky's defense in principle of) compulsory labor.

In 1921 Kautsky criticized Trotsky's theoretical defense of compulsory labor (see Kautsky's chapter 5: Der Arbeitszwang). What was Kautsky's criticism? It seems he defends the freedom of workers to choose their workplaces (and places of living), largely on the basis of his esteem for the notion of individuality/personality. By coincidence, on the recent thread about identity politics, I mentioned Bordiga's rejection of the notion of individuality/personality.

Kautsky devotes an entire section to it ("Die freie Persönlichkeit").

Kautsky wrote:
For the proletarian, more than for any other class, the family has been dissolved. Even as a child he sees himself as having to stand on his own two feet to earn money, and he has to encourage his own children to do the same from an early age. In this way, the independence of the personality is developed particularly strongly in him.

As workers own no land or property, they are not tied to one place (like peasants), and so have the freedom to choose their living place (Freizügigkeit) and work place. I will not summarize Kautsky's entire polemic against Trotsky on compulsory labor. I will just repeat my sense that a defense of Trotsky's theoretical standpoint could be made (see my post #10, on what the principle of "freedom of labour" concretely means).

 

 

 

 

joan
labour under the dictatorship of the proletariat

Most probably it is not an answer to d-man's (or others') reasoning and questioning, but I want to approach the question of labour under the dictatorship of the proletariat = the transitional period between capitalism and communism a bit differently, namely in relation to working hours.

And thereby also show how far I want to go in the "duties" and "sacrifices" of the working class under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In the 19th century, working hours of 12h, 14h were no exception in the factories (often dangerous, unhealthy, debilitating, etc.).

It was not only the workers' movement that stood up against this real over-exploitation of labour, but also more intelligent sections of the bourgeoisie, who looked beyond the immediate profits from this exploitation.

An old demand of the labour movement is the "8-hour day" or in other words 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of relaxation/culture.

The question is to what extent this demand has been realised today in capitalism, not only in the so-called "developing countries", but also in the heartland of world capitalism (Western Europe, the USA), if one takes into account transport times, the time needed for recuperation and preservation of the labour force (physical and mental), etc.

Therefore, there are questions and proposals, not only to make this 8-hour requirement a reality, but also to reduce this working time even further, taking into account the technological possibilities (automation, robotisation, digitalisation).

The demand for the reduction of working time was for instance also in the programme of the Spartakusbund in 1918.

II,7. "Radical social legislation. Shortening of the labor day to control unemployment and in consideration of the physical exhaustion of the working class by world war. Maximum working day of six hours."

(set in bold by me) (Rosa Luxemburg,”What Does the Spartacus League Want ?”(December 1918) First Published: Die Rote Fahne, December 14, 1918. Source: Selected Political Writings, Rosa Luxemburg. Edited and introduced by Dick Howard. Monthly Review Press © 1971. PDF version of the original scan. https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/14.htm)

But in the circumstances of the transition period from capitalism to communism, I can well imagine that the need arises not to reduce the working time, but on the contrary to increase it to 10, 11, 12 hours.

And here I come back to what I said earlier:

If this is a well-considered, reasoned decision after thorough discussion in the general assemblies of the workers, it can be implemented for a limited period of time, without prejudice to the earlier demands of the labour movement.

In other words, under capitalism, as a "proposal" of capital and of the trade unions, this must be resolutely rejected (even if the working class will not always succeed in rejecting it), but under the dictatorship of the proletariat, worthy of the name, it seems to me quite possible that workers will work with full conviction 9, 10, 11, 12 hours.

This will/should be done taking into account all possible health and safety measures.

The elimination of a whole series of "labour" (e.g. advertising and marketing, "means of pleasure", control, surveillance, repression,…

(Note 1) will also free up a huge number of workers who can be put to work in productive and more useful labour.

 

Note 1

It is likely that some forms of control, surveillance and even repression will be necessary for some time to come.But it will then be a control,surveillance and repression of an insignificant minority by an overwhelming majority.

 

joan
table of contents book "Trotsky & trotskyism" (Int.Voice)

I read the table of contents of the book by Internationalist Voice
"Trotsky and Trotskyism
                   How Trotskyism was integrated into the left of capital".
again
And it must be said: it looks "promising".
Side by side there are familiar topics, but also many topics that are probably not or hardly dealt with in other texts on Trotsky and Trotskyism.
Almost all important events in Trotsky's life are mentioned in it.
This is of course also explained by the fact that this book was written from a left-communist point of view, in contrast to the dominant part of the other texts.

d-man
work in the council

Just to add on the issue of "compulsory" labor; the delegates who get elected into the soviets, are doing work not of an economic kind, but they certainly are, at least the full-time members in the executive committees, doing a job. Marx himself, writing on the Paris Commune, compared the election of delegates from the people, to the economic hiring of workers by employers.

When people get elected, I think we expect they must be forced to assume this job (of being a soviet member). If they refuse to take up their mandate, it's considered negligence of their duty. For another comparison, if a member in the party would refuse to carry out tasks/responsibilities/"jobs" assigned to them, it's considered a violation of party discipline.

This is also an aspect in the ICC's thesis, that the party should not govern, which is open to interpretation; if workers elect party members to the soviets (or further, the soviets appoint party members to administrative functions), then I'd say it would be a betrayal to the revolution, if the party (members) refuses to take these jobs/(governing the state). Likewise, if the party (members) were to refuse on principle to take up positions in the armed forces, citing a fear of substitutionism, this may sound very principled and noble, but it's basically desertion of the revolution.

By the way, on election procedure of the soviets (iirc I discussed this on another thread how important this issue is). If only people can be elected, who freely put themselves forth as candidates, then the stake of my argument weakens somewhat. But if soviet delegates can be elected, even if they did not offer themselves as delegates, then the stakes are high. In fact, one would prefer this latter case, ie to elect people, who don't offer themselves as candidates, for that would prevent mere careerists from flocking into the soviet job.

joan
workers'councils

Very interesting and important (sub)subject, with which we, I think, also remain completely at the topic "Trotsky and Trotskyism".

Because 1) Trotsky was chairman of the soviet of St-Petersburg/ Petrograd, both in 1905 and in 1917, he acted against the power of the soviets theoretically ( position : "The dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the party of the proletariat") and practically ( e.g.repression against Kronstadt in 1921 (and trying to justify this repression in 1938)).

2) The Trotskyists are among the most dangerous enemies of the essence of the council system, on the one hand because they propagate both trade unions and parliamentarism and councils as forms of working class struggle (while the one excludes the other), and on the other hand because, even chanting "All power to the councils", they destroy the workers' councils by their sabotage, their "back-room politics" "en petit comité", by which they take over the executive power and thus take it away from the general assemblies of the workers.

 

More as soon as possible.

joan
full time-members,Paris Commune

I have to admit that I have very little or no experience with the functioning of a general workers' assembly, that I have mostly read about it and that I also find it very difficult to imagine its concrete functioning.

But I guess I have that in common with the vast majority of workers, and that even applies to the majority of militants of the ICC, simply because of the fact that massive workers struggles with the formation of an organization in the way of workers councils are rather exceptional, so that those who have experienced such situations have already died.

 

D-man wrote :

"the delegates who get elected into the soviets, are doing work not of an economic kind, but they certainly are, at least the full-time members in the executive committees, doing a job. "

Why should the elected into the soviets be "full-time members"?

The fact that already in mass, independently conducted workers' struggles the spokesmen or negotiators are (or can be) others makes the bourgeois politicians and trade unionists very nervous.

And from their point of view, from their thinking, it is perfectly understandable.

For how can they negotiate with always other people, with whom they cannot build up a "relationship of trust", with whom they cannot "arrange matters", "among ourselves"?

I think that it is precisely one of the characteristics of the council system and also one of the most important lessons from the experience of Russia (and probably also from the experience of Germany 1918-1919, although more limited here of course) should be: no "full-time members", but as many rotations as possible, as many newly elected people as possible, bound by their mandate, who always return to their "base".

Unlike the politicians of the bourgeoisie or, in their image, the trade union negotiators, the elected ones must not be "specialists" but must enjoy the confidence of those who elect them (the general assemblies of the workers).

(And even among bourgeois politicians there is a strong "rotation": the same man or woman is considered competent to be mayor today, minister of education tomorrow, minister of mobility or agriculture the day after, and in a few years' time commissioner of the so-called "European Union" or secretary-general of NATO. But they always remain part of the same "caste").

-----------

 

The reference to what Marx said about the Paris Commune is good in that it makes clear that the elected members of the councils have an executive function (just as, with all differences, workers and employees in a company have an executive function and do not have a say in the product they make or the service they provide).

 

On the other hand, one has to be careful when comparing the situation during the Paris Commune of 1871 and the situation in Russia 1917.

The Commune took place during the ascendant period of world capitalism and is an exception (which does not diminish its importance and the importance of the lessons that we can learn from it and that the revolutionaries of that time and later have learned from it). The workers' councils in Russia 1917 were already in the period of decadence of world capitalism and the phenomenon of the workers' councils was certainly not limited to the (already geographically enormous) Russian empire. To continue the comparison with the exception and the singularity (of the Commune).

Russia 1917 was, or could have been, the rule rather than the exception.

It is also true that in the Commune there was a certain mixing of the tasks of a municipal council (Commune = also municipality ) with universal suffrage for all male inhabitants, regardless of the class to which they belonged) and a workers' council (perhaps rather "coincidentally" due to the fact that the bourgeoisie had fled from Paris and therefore, in addition to petty bourgeois (craftsmen), there were mainly workers left in the city and also due to its social measures in favour of the working class).

 

(to be continued)

joan
refuse soviet member,party not govern,

d-man wrote :" When people get elected, I think we expect they must be forced to assume this job (of being a soviet member). If they refuse to take up their mandate, it's considered negligence of their duty."

Contrary to what d-man supposes (or is it knowing?) I think such an election happens very spontaneously, unforced (the main or even only coercion is there by the facts), "organically".

If a candidate (worker) objects to his (Note 1) election, it will usually not be because he refuses to do his duty, but rather out of fear of not doing his duty well, not good enough (Workers are basically not trained to speak and if they are, it is of course for very different things than as a delegate of a workers council)

--------------------------------

 

What will have to be resisted (which is why rotation seems to me to be a good thing or even inevitable) is the almost automatic election or renewal of the mandate of always the same people, in order to avoid the occupation of the "posts" by trade union militants or gauchists, with all the dangers that entails.

This is not to say that (ex)union militants or gauchists should not be elected in principle, because the possibility exists that in and through the struggle they "transcend" themselves and develop into true class combatants (which of course presupposes a break with the ideology of the union and/or gauchist org).

By trade union militants I mean those who have taken up some function in the trade union structures and not the simple members of a trade union (in some companies or sectors there is (de facto) compulsory membership).

 

"By the way, on election procedure of the soviets (iirc I discussed this on another thread how important this issue is)."

Can you remember what thread it was ?

Probably not, because then you would have mentioned it.

I am going to look for it.

 

----------

"This is also an aspect in the ICC's thesis, that the party should not govern, which is open to interpretation; if workers elect party members to the soviets (or further, the soviets appoint party members to administrative functions), then I'd say it would be a betrayal to the revolution, if the party (members) refuses to take these jobs/(governing the state)."

If anything, the position (even a basic position) of the ICC "* The revolutionary political organisation constitutes the vanguard of the working class and is an active factor in the generalisation of class consciousness within the proletariat. Its role is neither to 'organise the working class' nor to 'take power' in its name,..."(Note 2) (set in bold by me) should it decide that, as a militant of the party, they also refuse on principle to be part of a soviet, then the ICC is not consistent in this.

Or maybe I don't understand that position correctly.

Or was there in the past 'sinned' against that principle of not being part of a soviet or a related organ of self-organisation of the working class ?

Because militants of the ICC were elected in the past by general assemblies or co-ordinations during strikes, if I am not mistaken in France and Italy, in movements in education, nursing or railways.

It would be very interesting to get a clarification from the ICC on this.

"governing the state”

I think it is better not to use such terms.

The transition period between capitalism and communism is already the subject of a lot of discussion (also in the ICC press).

But I think we can say that in the transitional period between capitalism and communism (which can only really be started when a very large part of the world has destroyed the capitalist state) there is only a "half-state" or "Commune state" left,i.e. a "state" stripped of some important dangerous aspects (army, police, bureaucracy) and that the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of the workers' councils, is also a dictatorship over this "state", i.e. those bodies which must be there to represent that part of the population which does not belong to the working class (the non-exploiting classes and classes other than the working class).

Enough confusion has already been sown, especially also by the Trotskyists with their "degenerate workers' state".

So it is better not to speak of state in connection with the dictatorship of the proletariat, in connection with workers' councils.(Note 2)

 

 

Note 1

I use here the masculine form, but an elected worker-council member can of course also be a woman, and in certain sectors one has to make an big effort not to elect a woman.

 

Note 2

Platform of the ICC,point 16. THE ORGANISATION OF REVOLUTIONARIES

c) "As a part of the class, revolutionaries can at no time substitute themselves for the class, either in its struggles within capitalism or, still less, in the overthrow of capitalism and the wielding of political power. Unlike other historical classes, the consciousness of a minority, no matter how enlightened, is not sufficient to accomplish the tasks of the proletariat."(set in bold by me)

 

Note 3

I am also thinking here of Lenin's statement (quoted from memory) "A cook must be able to manage the state", which also shows the confusion that certainly existed in the minds of Lenin and the Bolsheviks about the state.

(to be continued)

d-man
joan wrote: Why should the

joan wrote:
Why should the elected into the soviets be "full-time members"?

I wrote that full-time members in the soviets are at least those who sit in the executive committee (of the soviet), elected by the soviet to manage affairs when it is not in session (and hence in my understanding, you're right that probably the majority of members are not full-time active as soviet delegates, and retain their normal economic job).

Quote:
should be: no "full-time members", but as many rotations as possible,

By "full-time", I mean the active soviet delegates with a work-schedule, like that of a full-time economic job (eg 8 hours/day).

When someone is elected into the council, and has to do council-related work for 8/hours day, instead of their economic job (which maybe they want to hold on to, etc.), then, if their election was against their will, I wrote that this work in the council, is an example of compulsory labor.

Quote:
little or no experience with the functioning of a general workers' assembly, that I have mostly read about it and that I also find it very difficult to imagine its concrete functioning. ... organization in the way of workers councils are rather exceptional, so that those who have experienced such situations have already died

One can try to put a positive spin on this humbling realisation, by saying that each council will decide its own particular election procedure. There's also no uniformity in bourgeois election systems. However, the possible negative side of undefined election procedures is, that it would allow for the internal destruction of soviets (by certain skilled manipulators/creators of procedures, with their sabotage, their "back-room politics", as you say). See also the Kronstadt thread, on the intention to set up an election committee, that would control the election for a new soviet, and associated procedure (arrest of the few dissenting Bolshevik delegates). I'd repeat my point there, that we should not conceive of the soviets (even if they function 100% "correctly") as somehow a seal, stamping legitimation on power. That's even besides, that soviets themselves are the state organs, and they will wither away towards communism. 

d-man
Quote: "By the way, on

Quote:
"By the way, on election procedure of the soviets (iirc I discussed this on another thread how important this issue is)."

Can you remember what thread it was ?

Here was one discussion:

https://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/fred/14244/february-1917-workers-councils-open-way-proletarian-revolution

I repeat my disagreement with the notion that councils are not state organs of power.

I agree that some workers will want to refuse to assume state power, ie engage in revolution, likely because they lack the "confidence" in their ability to carry out this duty. It happens organically, spontaneously, that they are elected by their peers, and so peer pressure/discipline forces them into doing certain job (ie acting as soviet delegate). If they would refuse to bow to this peer pressure, out of some principle to remain untainted by positions of responsibility/power, this would be seen as desertion by that individual.

 

joan
thread 2017 soviets & self-confidence candidates soviet members

Thank you d-man for mentioning this very interesting thread.

I only see the mention now.

It probably clarifies a lot for me too.

Of course, I have not yet read all the contributions in it.

I will try to do so as soon as possible.

 

D-man wrote :

I agree that some workers will want to refuse to assume state power, ie engage in revolution, likely because they lack the "confidence" in their ability to carry out this duty. ” 

 

I am pleased that we agree on something after all. :)

joan
working longer versus time for politics

What I said earlier (#20) about the possibility of drastically extending working hours is, of course, in sharp contrast with the need for the great mass of workers to have sufficient time and energy under the dict of the prol to be politically active (among other things to control its delegates) which is an essential matter.
A decision of the general assemblies of the workers to  
A decision of the general assemblies of the workers to extend working hours can therefore only be taken for absolutely necessary reasons (e.g. the production of food, medicines, etc. for "own use" or for transport to other parts of the working class) and always for a limited period of time.
The expansion of the world revolution is the most important thing and everything must be subordinated to it.
The distribution of "propaganda material" at "home and abroad" is also very important, not to say essential.
 (See the role of the newspapers, leaflets, etc. in the spreading and strengthening of the Bolshevik "message" in Russia in 1917, among others, very well explained in Trotsky's book "The Russian Revolution" (1932)).
It is therefore a constant balancing act between different necessities.

d-man
On possible increase of

On possible increase of working hours in extreme situations of the dictatorship of the proletariat, you're right that that issue does not exactly cover Trotsky's notion of compulsory labor (which is more about planned distribution of workers into particular workplaces), although it is related. I mentioned that active soviet members do full-time work, and that I consider them an example of compulsory labor. In bourgeois society too, eg for the organisations of elections, citizens get a note from the government, that they are selected to do the organisation of the elections (ie counting the votes), and they're obligated to do this. Another bourgeois example of compulsory labor is eg jury duty.

It must be said, that in case of work in a soviet, the active members (ie in the executive committee) do even more than normal full-time work; they usually do crazy hours (like hardly sleep), especially during critical periods. We know the workaholic revolutionaries Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzhinsky, etc. suffered from this (ie to help recover a bit of health, their worried friends had often to force them to take a break, and visit a spa resort).

joan
Lenin's "Testament" (1922-23) on Trotsky

To remember
Lenin (who was seriously ill from mid-1921 and would die January 21, 1924),speaks in his so-called testament, written December 1922-January 1923, after the more familiar passage on Stalin, also of Trotsky.
"Comrade Stalin, now that he has become Secretary-General, has acquired an unlimited authority, and I am not sure whether he will always be able to use that authority with sufficient prudence. Comrade Trotsky, on the other hand, as his struggle against the C.C. on the question of the People's Commissariat of Communication has already proved, is distinguished not only by extraordinary ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C., but he has displayed excessive self-assurance and has been too much occupied with the purely administrative side of the work. " (set in bold by me)
"Last Testament" Letters to Congress
Written: December 1922 - January 1923
First publication: 1956 in Kommunist (No. 9)
Source: Lenin Collected Works, vol. 36 (pp. 593-611)
Online version: Lenin Internet Archive (marx.org, marxists.org) 1997, 1999 https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1922/dec/testamnt/congress.htm
Also in : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenin%27s_Testament

 

d-man
joan quoting Lenin wrote: has

joan quoting Lenin wrote:
has displayed excessive self-assurance and has been too much occupied with the purely administrative side of the work. " (set in bold by me)

This probably is the claim, that Trotsky supposedly lacked skills of "practical" party politics, ie maneuvring, building coalitions, and playing bureaucratic games. By the way, IV casts Trotsky's loss to Stalin not in terms of him as a person lacking party politics skills, but as a deliberate choice (as if he did possess the necessary party-politics skills to combat Stalin, but for some reason willfully decided not to go to battle);

IV wrote:
Trotsky did not stand by Lenin, and he remained silent and practically appeased the ruling power and Stalin. Trotsky not only obeyed Stalin but also promoted a culture of obedience and appeasement.

I'm sure that Trotsky did not "stand by Lenin" on every issue, but in itself that is not bad. As to appeasing the ruling power and Stalin, it's not clear what this refers to exactly, except the general era of the rise of Stalin (1922-23); I would refer those interested in this period to check Dashkovsky's essay on that period (linked in my post #6).