- Workers' Socialist Party/ 9 December 2012
“Praxis Collective” and “Shaheed Bhagat Singh Disha Manch” two rabidly Stalinist-Maoist organisations in India, had recently locked horns with each other in an argument which encompasses issues from character of Russian revolution to assumption of power by capitalists landlords in 1947 in India.
Not to our surprise, both of them have condemned each other again and again, as ‘Trotskyist’. However, one would search in vain for any trace of Trotskyism in the arguments advanced by either of the two. While both are engaged in deciding if the ‘stage’ of revolution in India is democratic or socialist, both have tried their best hands at worst abuses against each other. Not a single para is spared from such demeaning abuses. This depicts the cultural standards these Stalinists-Maoists have acquired from the schools of historic falsification, in which they are educated.
‘Praxis Collective’ is the organisation of disgruntled elements who start worshipping the party and program of Stalinist CPI and then take a somersault crediting the Indian Bourgeois with fulfilling the democratic tasks of revolution by 1964, and thus advocate a ‘new socialist revolution’ in India. Advocates of Mao-ism, they are betrayers of revolution, who supported naxalbari peasant uprising but turned their back on it in face of police repression and started to sing for socialist revolution. The group is connected to RCLI under Shashi Prakash, and works under ever new names, ‘dayitvabodh’ 'ahwan' ‘bigul’ ‘praxis collective’ and many more.
“Shaheed Bhagat Singh Disha Manch” is a splinter of SUCI organised by Shibdas Ghosh, which has left the party, but remain adhered to its basic perspectives. For his whole life Shibdas Ghosh strived to curry favour with Mao Tse Tung, virtually worshipped this Chinese Bonaparte, in bright hope that some day Mao may back his party instead of CPM and CPI-ML.
Most degenerated among the Stalinist-maoist groups in India, both groups are rooted in Stalinism-Maoism, and agree to its all basic postulates, like ‘two stage revolution’ and ‘socialism in one country’ etc. None of them, however, has formed any party, nor presented a comprehensive program.
Though the discussion has been held at our back, deliberately to keep it away from our notice, but as mischievous attempts have been made to defame and demean the October revolution and its co-leader Trotsky, by publishing false assertions, distorting the facts, propositions, and mechanics of the revolution in Russia, China, India and elsewhere, WSP is thus forced to intervene, to set the record straight.
The person of Trotsky, the organiser of first soviet in Petrograd in 1905, co-leader of October revolution with Lenin, the creator of red army in Russia, the first Foreign Commissar, War commissar during whole period of war till 1925, organiser of Comintern with Lenin- the one who wrote all thesis for first five congresses of Comintern, elected chairman of Petrograd soviet, chief organ of revolution in 1917 and who reconstructed shattered railways in USSR, needs no introduction.
We will deal first with ‘praxis collective’ and thereafter with “Disha Manch”. Below, we are publishing Part-I, of the series of articles that we propose to publish one by one, dealing with assertions of these Stalinists-Maoists.
Absurd Lies of Stalinist-Maoist ‘Praxis Collective’
Praxis Collective asserts that Trotsky stood in opposition to Lenin on characterisation of impending Russian Revolution. According to it Lenin proposed a democratic revolution in Russia but Trotsky believed that there cannot be a democratic revolution and proposed a socialist revolution instead, for which Lenin condemned him for overstepping.
This is height of absurdity!
Trotsky was in total agreement on the bourgeois democratic character of Russian revolution and he never proposed stepping over the bourgeois democratic revolution or substituting it for ‘socialist’ revolution for backward countries, with belated capitalist development.
The fact is, that all three currents led by Plekhanov, Lenin and Trotsky, agreed among themselves as to the bourgeois-democratic character of the impending revolution in Russia, i.e. one emanating from the contradiction between emerging capitalist economy and the ossified political state of Tsarism.
Then where lied the disagreements among these currents?
The dispute is: whether the dictatorship of the proletariat would appear at the start of the democratic revolution, or would be realised at the fag end of the democratic revolution?
To understand this, we must comprehend first of all, the correct political positions of the three marxist currents, embodied into Menshevism, Leninism and Trotskyism respectively, not only on the question of character of revolution but also its driving force and which class would it bring to power.
From the agreed notion of ‘bourgeois-democratic’ revolution, Mensheviks deduced the conclusion that ‘bourgeoisie’ is the natural leader of the revolution and legitimate claimant to the power. So they concluded that impending revolution in Russia would bring bourgeoisie to power. Menshevik’s though that working class is too weak in Russia being too small in numbers, the capitalist economy was too backward in Russia and peasantry predominated the population. So they advocated a role for the workers to constitute the radical left wing of bourgeois, assist it to take power and push it to more and more left, till capitalist economy matures enough for socialism and thus for taking power by the proletariat. For Mensheviks, thus dictatorship of the proletariat would be realised only at the end of the democratic revolution.
This Menshevik proposition obviously fragmented the revolution in ‘two stages’- now bourgeois-democratic led by capitalists, and later socialist led by proletariat. Needless to say, in this formula, no role was sanctioned to rural peasantry.
Basis for this ‘stage-ist’ proposition of the Mensheviks were the old bourgeois revolutions of Europe- France, Germany, England- where bourgeois had taken to power, organising itself at the head of national revolution. In that, they forgot that those revolutions had taken place before imperialism has come into existence, rendering national bourgeois in backward countries powerless, and at a time when working class, the real contender to power, was not even born as a class.
Lenin and Trotsky, both severely criticised and disagreed with the Menshevik proposition, which sanctioned leading role to the bourgeois. Both of them agreed between themselves that Russian capitalists have no role to play in the revolution, much less a leading role.
Both Lenin and Trotsky agreed that it is the combination of working class and poor peasantry, which would lead the revolution, establish its dominance over it and would be catapulted to power.
Having agreement on the fundamental positions regarding character and driving forces of the revolution, both Lenin and Trotsky, thus stood hand in hand, and in stark opposition to the Mensheviks on the estimation of role and character of national bourgeois.
As to the character of the state that would be delivered through the revolution, Lenin left open the question of ‘real’ dominance of the ‘class’ inside the combination of workers and peasants, while proposing a “democratic dictatorship of working class and peasantry”. Trotsky specified it, “Dictatorship of Working Class backed by Peasantry”, which meant a combined state of workers and peasants, under dictatorship of working class.
One can see with open eyes that the agreement between Lenin and Trotsky, in contra-position to Mensheviks was of fundamental importance, while their differences on the question of alignment of revolutionary classes inside the state were of secondary importance.
However, Bolsheviks erred too, in estimating the strength of working class ‘inside’ the precincts of Russia, and not as section of the international working class. So they also put themselves under the misconception that the working class may or may not claim dictatorship in the alliance with the peasantry and thus cannot set out to accomplish socialist tasks, alongside the democratic ones.
Trotsky, in his “Results and Prospects” published soon after the uprising of 1905, wherein he being one of the chief organisers of the Petrograd Soviet, the centre of rebellion, summarised the results of the uprising, and proposed that the impending revolution would open up as a bourgeois democratic revolution, but uninterruptedly grow over to a socialist revolution. Trotsky also proposed, that in all prospects, the revolutionary proletariat, marching at the head of rebellious peasantry would transform its dominance over the national movement into its class dictatorship, backed by peasantry. Trotsky, predicted that the dictatorship of the proletariat would appear at the start of the democratic revolution and as necessary condition for its advance.
This way Trotsky proposed the dictatorship of proletariat followed by peasantry, inside a combination of workers and peasants, constituting themselves as the revolutionary state. The agreed slogan was “No Tsar- But a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government”. Trotsky developed his ideas later into a whole theory of “permanent revolution”.
It would be worth mention here that a fourth proposition, was made by the German Revolutionary Parvus, common friend of Lenin and Rosa Luxemberg, in a series of articles published by him in Lenin’s Iskra, under the heading “War and Revolution”. He proposed the slogan, “No Tsar, but a Workers’ Government”.
After comprehending the positions of the chief political currents in Russian revolution, now we can return to ‘praxis collective’. We have shown above that Trotsky has never proposed a socialist revolution by over-stepping the democratic revolution and that there was no disagreement among the Russian revolutionaries on this aspect. It is more than clear that ‘praxis collective’ do not possess even a trace of the idea of contending perspectives in Russian Revolution!
‘Praxis Collective’ has not even attempted to read Trotsky, would be absolutely clear by its statement, in concluding part of its article, “against foolish and immature caricature of Marxist-Leninist principles’, where after condemning Trotsky for his assumed denial of democratic revolution, it categorically says, “These ideas were expressed by Trotsky in 1905 in his book ‘permanent revolution”. In fact, the issue was dealt by Trotsky in his book “Results and Prospects” in 1906 and not in “Permanent Revolution” which was written and published in 1929. This wrong citation of the book with incorrect year, coupled with absence of idea of what Trotsky said, shows beyond any pale of doubt that ‘praxis collective’ is arguing in the air, without even looking at the relevant text.
In their write-up dated 1.10.2012, under the sub-heading “on the next step of foolishness....”, ‘praxis collective’ asserts: “This is the principle of uninterrupted revolution of Trotsky, according to which, in the present era under all conditions, the democratic revolution (whether it is accomplished by the proletariat or the bourgeoisie) would arrive at socialist revolution without a break”.
As is shown above, Lenin and Trotsky are one on the issue that bourgeois has no role to play in democratic revolution, much less a leading role. Then how can the bourgeois accomplish a democratic revolution? Where does ‘praxis collective’ gets it?
Secondly, Trotsky has never even said that the democratic revolution would arrive at socialist revolution, by itself. As we have quoted earlier, Trotsky talks of “growing over of the democratic revolution” into socialist revolution and inseparability of the two tasks as the same are so mingled with each other in backward countries.
For this ‘growing over’ of democratic revolution in an uninterrupted manner into socialist revolution, the fundamental condition is the leadership of the working class over the revolution.
Thus in Russia, where proletariat established its dictatorship over the revolution in October 1917, the revolution became ‘permanent revolution’ growing over to socialist revolution after opening as democratic revolution and with few months halt due to stupidity of old Bolsheviks-Stalin, Bukharin, Kamenev etc- who defied Lenin in supporting provisional government. On the other hand, in China, Stalinists aborted the revolution of 1925-27 and later in 1949, the bureaucratic Maoist clique backed by peasant armies, prevented the working class from establishing its dictatorship and put the bloc of four classes in power, which included sections of bourgeois and petty bourgeois. These sections, slowly grabbed all power and China grew over to a capitalist counter revolution.
How the two positions, ‘permanent revolution’ on one hand and ‘two stage theory’ on the other found their refraction in practice? As we contrast between the October revolution in Soviet Russia under leadership of Lenin and the Chinese Revolution under Mao, issue emerges crystal clear.
Immediately after taking power in October Revolution, Bolsheviks implemented 8 hour working day in industry through Congress of Soviets. This measure was surely a democratic measure, and not socialist. Capitalists however resisted it and locked out hundreds of factories. Bolshevik power was forced to order acquisition and nationalisation of locked out industries. Now nationalisation was completely a socialist measure. It turned out immediately that all democratic measures, even least of them, even those which are already sanctioned by advanced capitalist countries long back in history, would meet savage resistance of capitalists. In crushing this resistance, only socialist measures could be resorted to. So the two tasks of the revolution- one democratic and the other socialist- merged for all practical purposes, into one revolution. This way, at the moment proletariat took power in October, the two revolutions, one emerging from contradictions between Tsarism and the nation as a whole and the other between capitalists and workers- merged into one revolution at the head of which marched the glorious army of the city proletariat supported by proletarians of city and village.
However, things took altogether different turn as peasant armies under Mao took over Peking. As workers demonstrated in Peking in support of 8 hour working day, the Maoist Government prohibited all strikes and demonstrations. Maoists, the Chinese Mensheviks, declined to sanction 8 hour working day. Hostile to ‘permanent revolution’ and ardent supporter of Menshevik-Stalinist formula of ‘two stage theory’, Mao declared China as ‘peoples republic’ under the rule of a bloc of four classes, that included sections of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois.
So, contrary to wild accusations of ‘praxis collective’, neither Trotsky ever said that a democratic revolution would enter in socialist revolution, nor it can enter as such!
After showing fallacy of this incorrect notion of ‘trotskyism’ embedded in the mind of Stalinist-maoist “praxis collective”, we now attract attention of the readers to the fact that this “praxis collective”, does not at all speak about the position of Mensheviks in Russian revolution. While criticising Trotsky at least 20 times for the sin he never committed, ‘praxis collective’ does not even mention or criticise Menshevik perspective even once!
This is for a reason! We will elaborately show in later parts that the positions of ‘praxis collective’ itself are replica of the positions of Mensheviks, in that they are advocating the same ‘two stage revolution’ and a subsidiary role for the working class in radical left wing of the national bourgeois. ‘Praxis Collective’ is in total agreement with Mensheviks, that dictatorship of the proletariat, would appear at the end of the democratic revolution. More than once ‘praxis collective’ has also preached the workers to act as ‘pressure group’ to push ruling capitalists more and more to the left, to carry out ‘radical reforms’. While arguing for a ‘new socialist revolution’ ‘praxis collective’, is making out a case for Indian Bourgeois state, that as it has accomplished the necessary democratic task, the first stage of revolution is over and we are in second stage- socialist stage. Even a step ahead of the Mensheviks, ‘Praxis Collective’ is decorating the capitalist-landlord government in India with a progressive role in addressing the tasks of the democratic revolution, albeit in their words through “Prussian path”. In coming parts, through our discussion of February and October, Indian 1947 and Chinese 1949, we will expose the fallacy of their ‘Prussian Path’ and ‘new socialist revolution’ etc. and will show how these disciples of Stalin and Mao have misled themselves, and behind them those who follow them, on fundamental questions of debate.