Trotsky defined our epoch of war and revolution which consists of abrupt changes left and right. The period and conjuncture essentially has this character more so than ever. He argued that new objective crisis of capitalism such as an economic depression getting worse or outbreak/defeat in war leads to a left upheaval of millions of workers and sizable middle class elements. The general election of December 12th was a big political defeat for millions of workers; and large layers of working/middle class youth. This defeat can be reversed if we understand what led to it.
In my opinion the different sectional interests in the British capitalist class over whether to stay aligned with the EU or American capitalism, and the degenerate workers’ state of China could carry potentially for several months/years even upto a pre-revolutionary crisis where they have to resolve it to avoid the revolutionary climax which threatens the overthrow of British capitalism by socialist revolution. This enormous clash within the British ruling class over whether to stay with the EU or American capitalism will mean certain group of capitalists in this country are going to lose or gains in potential profits running into billions of pounds or share of world markets. On top of losing billions is the worse crisis of British and world capitalism since 2007. They have tried to make millions of workers and sizable middle class elements to pay for this crisis through austerity and privitisation of public services.
I am reading Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution online. Pat Brain (my father- a veteran Canadian /British Trotskyist for 60 years who died on January 25th 2017) told me Trotsky’s secretary Joseph Hansen used to read this work by Trotsky at least once a year. Vladimir Lenin who alongside Trotsky led the October 1917 Socialist revolution said the socialist revolution occurred within Russia due to World War 1 which led to capitalism breaking at its weakest link.
Are there paraells between the February 1917 revolution where the Russian monarchy was overthrown due to suffering for working class women in Petrograd due to bread shortages; millions of peasants starving and dying on the eastern and southern fronts of that war and the contradictions between different sections of the British ruling class over the EU? In addition there could be major differences emerging within the British ruling class over how far to attack the working or middle class?; how to keep Scotland within the UK/ , and stop a reunified Ireland?
What the Brexit paralysis has revealed over the past 3 years is that the main ruling class are still pro-EU! This has left millions of workers and sizable middle class elements wondering who really rules Britain? They are learning this by this ruling class split and in class battles to defend their own standard of living and fighting xenophobia/racism against the oppressed. Contrary to the illusions of those layers of workers who moved to the right by voting Tory in the North and Midlands this would end the Brexit crisis decisively are that they have deepened the divisions in the ruling class over the EU and made this crisis even more explosive. When Johnson cannot resolve the Brexit impasse and attacks the workers more he have no social base left. This is potentially very dangerous for that layer of the ruling class. Before Nicholas II was overthrown during February 1917 his ministers said he had no support from the capitalists to the workers down. This they warned made his position untenable.
Trotsky when he was analysing Germany and France during the 1930s was the dialectical interrelationship between the capitalists who own the banks and industries; working class; and intermediary middle classes (peasants; small shopkeepers; and medium-sized management) who vacillate between the workers and capitalists. There are millions of workers who are radicalising within Britain and globally. A radicalisation is when large layers of workers; middle class layers; and the oppressed question poverty pay; austerity; privisitation; looking to alternatives to capitalism; and want to fight xenophobia/racism; and Sexism!
Pat said he difference between the consciousness of the anti-Iraq War demonstrations of 2003 and the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations of the late 1960s was that one was anti-war but the anti-Vietnam war protests with the limitations of some of the forces leading them in Britain were more revolutionary and Marxist. He thought that the 2008 financial crisis of world capitalism would lead to a new middle class radicalisation where Trotskyism could re-emerge stronger than ever. I have been documenting this process over the 4 blogs I have written since January 2007.
There is a big debate on Trotsky even some right-wingers reviewing his works such as 1905. In the last 24 hours I have been watching videos on CLR James. The ex-Revolutionary Communist Party where some have joined and led the Brexit Party which is one of the worse capitulations to right-wing reaction, other ex-RCP members are debating radicalising middle class students on the re-emergence of Socialism.
Pat when he was a member of a RCP predecessor the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) lived in the same house as RCG/RCP founder Frank Furedi. Pat was only a member of the RCG for 3 months as the two RCG factions were hostile to the pre-Jack Barnes American Socialist Workers Party politics. Pat told me Furedi hated Hansen as he defeated an ultra-left tendency that broke from the SWP. Furedi took decades to drift towards capitalist politics,Pat told me in his analysis because as he had relatives who died in the Holocaust never forgot for those decades capitalism was responsible for the worse genocidal crime within History!
There is a beginning of a radicalisation of layers of the middle class youth and intellectuals. This as Pat argued could begin to resolve the last ingredient needed for the completion of world revolution the cadre to lead revolutionary international/parties. All the objective conditions for the re-emergence of pre-Barnes American SWP politics are maturing.
If it had not been for the defeat of the Yeltsin wing of the Russian Stalinist bureaucracy in late 1999 American Imperialism have gone further military which might have gone further out of control leading to Word War 3 and nuclear suicide. There has to be a proper analysis of why Putin represented a different wing of the Russian Bureaucratic caste which defended more of the gains of the Russian workers’ state against capitalist restoration. There are different balance of forces within the Eastern European workers’ states with the workers; Stalinist Bureaucrats; and capitalists than in Russia.
Despite my differences with CLR James on the class nature of the Soviet Union after 1939 he was principled in maintaining his independence from capitalist politics. He made enormous contributions to the Trotskyist movement’s understanding of Black Nationalism and the combined nature of the forthcoming third American Socialist revolution.
I am reading the internal documents of the American SWP on the dispute with the Shactmanites over the class nature of the Soviet Union from October 1939 to March 1940. James made contradictory comments in the penname he used which was Johnson on defending central planning and nationalised industries against capitalist restoration. At one point he said defending these gains in property relations were a tactic. In another section of this document James argues the importance of defending these gains. American Trotskyist David Cowles in one of the internal documents argued with some of the Shactmanites by becoming Stalinophobic they could use their anger at Stalinist betrayals to not defending the socio-economic base of the Soviet Union as a workers’ state.
James went on to develop his own revisionist theory of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe being “State Capitalist”. James left the SWP and went with Max Shactman and James Burnham to form the Workers Party during April 1940. James and Forrest (penname for a Russian women name which I cannot spell) rejoined the SWP in 1947. Despite the differences on the workers’ states the SWP utilised his talents to do effective work among Afro Americans. James left the SWP a few months after the Korean War broke out during 1951 flowing from his revisionist theory of State Capitalism that there was nothing to defend from the American capitalist military onslaught who tried to overthrow an economy based on nationalised industries; and which had given small peasants their land by overthrowing the exploiter landlords and bankers.
China can show what an economy based on central planning can do. The fight for better quality and workers democratic control of planning is key to the beginning of a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucratic caste. Trotsky made this important point in the work “In defence of Marxism” that more quality production improves comes into greater conflict with the bureaucratic stranglehold of Stalinism. Xi’s Bonapartist regime is a crisis one fearing any major inter-bureaucratic battles could lead to the workers coming through the middle leading to a bigger upheaval than the Tianman square protests of 1989.
The strikes of the last 3 to 4 weeks within France is the biggest struggle by workers in decades. If the workers win could have a big impact on British workers struggles. Modi premature moves attacking secularism is causing a big radicalisation. There are mass student demonstrations in New Dehli against the increase of fees. They are now defending the Muslims and secularism. 350 million workers are coming out on strike within India on January 8th 2020. This could be the beginning of the Permanent Revolution. It is no accident as Trotsky argued that the radicalisation with what British Imperialism called India as the crown in the jewel of the British Empire could have a major impact within Britain. The Indian and British radicalisation have the same causes and linked the decay of capitalism and millions of workers wanting a better future in Imperialist Britain and 3rd World India.