A Response to 'Praxis Collective'

- Workers Socialist Party/ 10.12.2012
Hereunder is Part-II of the series of articles against attempts of Stalinist-Maoist 'praxis collective' to distort the lessons of Russian Revolution and defame its great leader Leon Trotsky by accusing him of the things which he never stood for. For the Part-I, kindly see:
Stalinists-Maoists and the Schema of ‘Stage-ism’
In Part-I, we have shown how Stalinists-Maoists at ‘praxis collective’ have made a fetish out of the course of old European bourgeois-democratic revolutions of 17th-18th century, where bourgeois could legitimately come to power as leader of the national revolutions in different countries, in absence of a real and politically organised proletariat. In this limited historic sense, it was opportunity for the bourgeois to take power in those advanced countries, which had entered upon capitalist stage before others. Doubtlessly, the bourgeois of these countries has played a limited revolutionary role in history, till the industrial proletariat was born and organised itself. 

The question is whether the backward countries, i.e. the countries with historically belated capitalist development, should follow the same course of revolution?

Stalinists and Maoists answer this question in affirmative. Both of them agree that before the backward countries could enter upon their Socialist October, they have to pass through a bourgeois-democratic stage. In that they sanction a revolutionary role to sections of bourgeois, in false hope of repetition of the role it played in European revolutions.

This argument of Stalinists-Maoists is based upon an absurd nationalist understanding where they fragment the integrated world revolutionary process into individual countries to assume that each country will have to pass through the same stage of history and more backward countries will follow in the foot-steps of advanced one.

The course of history, science and nature however defies this simple linear development and consequently stage-ist decree of Stalinists-Maoists based on it.

Historically backward countries do not and need not follow in the footsteps of advanced ones and cover the same voyage, travelled by advanced countries centuries before. Countries with belated historic development have an advantage to directly import the grown up acquisitions in science and technology from advanced countries and virtually start their journey where advanced countries have finished it.

Take for example Afghanistan. It took not less than two hundred years for advanced countries to develop AK-47, and much more for developing modern accounting and book keeping. But these developments of modern science, for which advanced countries of Europe and US have served as incubators for centuries, are acquired by Afghanistan over-night.

Bourgeois took centuries of zig-zags in advanced countries of Europe to come to power and accomplish their bourgeois-democracy, but in backward Russia, again, it was just a passing affair, while entering upon the socialist revolution.

This instant import of ready-made achievements of capitalism by backward countries from advanced ones, whether imposed against their will (Afghanistan) or imported voluntarily (India) revolutionises the world scenario.

Backward agricultural country Russia, thus produced the most revolutionary working class and most revolutionary Marxist program and party, while the most advanced capitalist countries, like England, where capitalism had not only ripen but had started to rot, produced worst forms of compromisers like Fabian Socialists.

These achievements of modern capitalism, that are routed to backward countries from advanced ones, co-exist for a fairly long period, alongside the most backward forms of life and technology already existing there. Thus a whole ladder passing through different historic phases comes to exist in these countries. This welding together, this mutual adaptation between the most backward and most advanced forms of life, is chief characteristic in the development of backward countries, where unlike advanced countries, new forms of life have not grown organically through elimination of the old, but through peaceful adaptation between the two. Thus an Englishman would be amazed to see best fastest luxury cars running on roads of Karachi or New Delhi, side by side with bullock carts.

Neither in science nor in history, the countries pass through the same stages. On the contrary they ‘leap forward’ over these stages. Co-leader of Russian revolution, Leon Trotsky has made a great contribution to history and science by discovering this “combined and un-even development”.

Despite the false teachings of Stalinists-Maoists, capitalism never stems out of its own fragments, in backward countries, but from the loins of foreign capitalism, already grown in incubator of advanced countries of the world. It would be so foolish to think that when capitalism in advanced countries would be delivering satellite phones, a backward country can catch up by starting with land-line phones. In fact, the development of capitalism in advanced countries, renders it impossible for backward countries to grow it afresh within the confines of their national state.

Needless to say that, under conditions of imperialism, i.e. under military and economic domination of advanced countries, backward countries can never achieve that level of capitalist development which the advanced countries have already achieved. But the tempo and level of development between the ‘two’ continues to diminish more and more, as the tempo slows down in advanced countries and picks-up in backward countries, pushing world capitalism in continuous state of economic and political instability, resulting in wars.

Historic backwardness of the countries, however, does not make them less but more susceptible to revolution. Intrusion of modern capitalism inside them, instantly comes in confrontation with old structures and generates more explosive new conflicts, alongside the old conflicts. Backward countries thus become a hotbed, ripe for an explosive political situation which may develop straight into an uninterrupted revolution, under the leadership of the working class, catapulting it to power.

If bourgeois-democratic revolutions of the past centuries brought national bourgeois to power or if bourgeois played a limited revolutionary role in them, it does not imply that it can repeat the same role in backward countries, after more than one century. With advent of imperialism, national sections of bourgeois are rendered too weak to carry out a revolution and can assume power against proletariat only through a counter revolution. It is this way, through a counter revolution, that bourgeois could assume power, from India to Indonesia. It was due to betrayals of its Stalinist leadership, that had decorated this counter revolution as ‘liberation’ and ‘limited freedom’, that the working class was prevented from seizing power in 1947. This leadership of CPI working in tandem with Comintern under Stalin, remained complacent with sections of national and colonial bourgeois and remained trapped in bogus project of democracy, on the pretext of democratic stage of revolution.

Unable to understand the true dynamics of revolution, and in their insistence to fragment the revolutionary process artificially into stages, Stalinists-Maoists reach more absurd conclusions and divide their assumed ‘democratic’ stage of revolution further into pieces: ‘bourgeois democracy’, ‘peoples democracy’ ‘new democracy’ and so on and so forth. In all cases, keeping sections of bourgeois as next ally, they propose coalition governments with them. At best they sanction a ‘leading’ role to themselves in the coalition, as representatives of working class. But the whole question is, that at their best these coalition governments in power under them cannot be anything but a policeman to protect capitalist property! And against whom? Against workers and toilers! What else can capitalists desire?

The states, which could not have developed further on national capitalist basis, due to their historic backwardness, were taken over by Kremlin under Stalin to carve out more bureaucratic states in its own image. These ‘democratic republics’ under Stalinist-Maoists, irrespective of the names they might have acquired, later emerged as bureaucratic states only to serve as workshops of world bourgeoisie, offering cheapest labour and raw materials to world capitalist enterprise. From China to Cuba and from Venezuela to Eastern Europe, all Bonapartist states have ultimately played role of a backyard of global capitalist workshop. These states, which could not have develop further on national capitalist basis, due to their historic backwardness, were taken over by Kremlin under Stalin to carve out more bureaucratic states in its own image.

Russian revolution had opened as bourgeois democratic revolution against Tsarism, only to immediately grow over to a socialist revolution, not because capitalism had matured inside Russia, before, during or after the democratic revolution, but because revolution could not have advanced an inch further on a capitalist, bourgeois-democratic basis. Mensheviks, and behind them the old Bolshevik leaders- Stalin, Bukharin, Kamenev & Co. who thought that revolution can grow on capitalist basis, had thrown their support behind the provisional government, stood corrected by October.

But what was the scenario in Russia in February 1917. Menshevik and Bolshevik leaders had put brakes upon the revolution in February-March, through their support to the capitalist provisional government, and threw it back by sanctioning the power to capitalists. Bolshevik Party and the proletariat behind it, could turn to revolution, only after Lenin rebuked these leaders through his ‘letters from afar’ and ‘April Thesis’ and set out a course for October through complete break with the bourgeoisie.

Lessons of October, showed beyond any pale of doubt, that as victorious proletariat takes power, with or without help of peasantry, the tasks of bourgeois democracy and socialism merge together into a single course of revolution. Contrary to all bogus preachings of Stalinists-Maoists, the task before the proletariat, after victory, is not to protect capitalist property and ownership in any form whatsoever, against the workers and peasants, through ‘blocs of 2,3 or 4 classes’, but to destroy them at the fastest pace possible.

‘Praxis Collective’ argues for the level of development of capitalism as determinative factor for deciding if proletariat can contend for establishment of its rule in a country or not. In our articles we have repeatedly refuted this illusion spread by Stalinists-Maoists that the question in a revolution “who would take power”, depends upon the level of development of capitalism.

Russian revolution itself is historic proof for our argument that level of development of capitalism, in individual country, is not the determinant factor for coming to the power of the proletariat therein. On the contrary, as Russian experience shows, it is easier for the working class to come to power in the countries with backward economies, as it finds a ready lever of ever deepening agrarian crisis and rebellious peasantry. However, it would be comparatively difficult for the proletariat in these countries to hold the revolutionary power. In contrast, in developed countries, it is difficult for the proletariat to come to power, given absence of rebellious peasantry and a very strong bourgeois state, but would be hundred times easier to hold the power, once it is taken. Thus it is the concrete correlation of class forces, nationally and before that internationally, world political situation and the preparation and will of the proletariat that are determinant factor if the proletariat can assume power or not.

Level of development of capitalism in a given country has limited arithmetical significance only, in the sense that with development of capitalism, proletariat also grows stronger. But backwardness of capitalism does not create an insurmountable impediment in the way of proletariat and cannot prevent it from coming to power. Trotsky puts it like this, ”With the acute agrarian crisis and the intolerable national oppression in the colonial countries, the young and relatively small proletariat can come to power on the basis of a national democratic revolution, sooner than the proletariat of an advanced country on a purely socialist basis”.

This explains why proletariat could come to power in backward Russia before it could even strive for power in the West.

After emerging of proletariat onto the political scene of the world, it is so clear, that it is contender for power everywhere, in all countries of the world, against the bourgeois. Stalinists-Maoists would find themselves at loss in attempting to explain ‘if bourgeois can establish its dictatorship in a country with capitalist backwardness, why not the proletariat’? In backward countries, as Trotsky would put it, the whole question remains as to who would lead the peasantry? If bourgeois holds it through its rich sections, it would hold power; if proletariat leads it through its poor sections against bourgeois power, proletariat would rise to power.

This means, the contest for power between the proletariat and the bourgeois in backward countries, would precipitate, not through level of development of capitalism in individual countries, but through concrete correlation of class forces inside and outside the country.

When Lenin says that ‘imperialism is the dawn of proletarian revolutions’, that clearly means that the world as a whole is mature for proletarian revolution, i.e. under conditions of imperialism, its the turn for the proletariat to come to power in all countries, irrespective of the level of capitalist development in individual country. It is for this reason that political revolutions have remained national only in their form, in essence they are international.

But, Stalinist-Maoist ‘praxis collective’ refuses to understand this. It says that the theorem of revolution can be solved essentially within precincts of bourgeois national state. It criticises Trotsky, saying, “International contradiction determines the national contradiction”. Trotsky even did not say this. Trotsky said that international character of capital dictates that national revolutions cannot be hermetically sealed off inside their cocoons. However, in relation to backward countries, Trotsky said, “The peculiarities of a country which has not accomplished or completed its democratic revolution are of such great significance that they must be taken as the basis for the program of the proletarian vanguard.”

‘Praxis Collective’ again holds Trotsky guilty for saying that, “....and from character of state power, character of production relations is determined”. This is again something which Trotsky had never said. We may only have pity upon the genius of ‘praxis collective’ that has deduced this conclusion from Trotsky.

‘Praxis Collective’ targets Trtosky for all that he never stood for.

Unable to grasp this ‘combined and uneven development’ of countries, and unable to understand the integrated process of world revolution, Stalinist-Maoist ‘praxis collective’ plans the revolution according to the blueprint of old European social-democracy, albeit in its ‘second’ stage.

When Stalinist-Maoist ‘praxis collective’ sets out ‘new socialist revolution’ as stage for Indian revolution, it does not base the same upon negation of the perspectives of ‘stage-ist’ theory of Stalinism-Maoism, but in fact in its continuation and endorsement. It says that the first ‘stage’ is over and thus it is turn for the second.

In fact, misconceived proposal of the ‘praxis collective’- the recipe of ‘new socialist revolution’ is rooted in turn in its gross misunderstanding about the mechanics of the Russian revolution. For ‘praxis collective’, maturing of conditions for building socialism inside the given country is a pre-requisite and it proposes to test the ‘socialist’ character of the revolution on the touchstone of its capability to accomplish this task.

October revolution was proletarian socialist, not because it was to set-out to ‘build socialism’ in Russia, but above all, as the correlation of forces inside it was under domination of the working class, directed against a bourgeois government and it was a triggering shot for the world socialist revolution.

However, ‘Praxis Collective’ itself is not responsible for this whole mess. In fact, it is the counter revolutionary Stalinist-Maoist school of thought, the bogey of world capitalism, which has devised these tools to prevent the working class from breaking itself away from world bourgeois.

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