Socialism is global not national


31/05/2018 by socialistfight

By Gerry Downing


Related imageDie Rote Fahne lionising Chiang Kai-Shek just weeks before he carried out the terrible massacre of the Shanghai Soviet

All Stalinists are adherents of the very revisionist theory that socialism is possible in a single country and world revolution is impossible. World revolution, global, international socialism was the guiding principle of the April These of Lenin and the Permanent Revolution theory of Trotsky as developed by him after the disaster of the slaughter of the Shanghai Soviet in 1927 by Chiang Kai-Shek, an honourary member of the Comintern Exec on Stalin’s motion at the time.

Mao’s main claim to Marxism orthodoxy was that he had superseded Lenin’s theory of revolution and substituted peasant armies for the working class, thereby making a bourgeois revolution the goal and retaining relations with western imperialism. That’s the meaning of the Bloc of Four Classes, the invidious distinction between the nationalist bourgeoisie and the comprador bourgeoisie and the barbaric Three Worlds theory.

This theory, rejected now by most progressive Maoist groups, said the USSR was as bad an imperialist power as the USA, in practice the worst of the “great powers” and therefore It was ok to bloc with the USA against it. So he supports Pinochet in Chile and Mobutu in the Congo and Vorster in South Africa and feted Kissinger and Nixon whilst they were carpet bombing Vietnam with Agent Orange and Napalm in 1972.

Of course in China Mao pragmatically rejected Stalin’s instructions to capitulate to Chang Kai Shek, he didn’t fancy a repeat of the Shanghai massacre, a scenario Stalin was ok with. One only has to look at how he allowed Hitler to level Warsaw to the ground from August 1944 and the fate of revolutions in Czechoslovakia and northern Italy and Greece where he cynically manoeuvred with Churchill and Roosevelt. And why no call on the German working class to overthrow Hitler as liberation was at hand? Instead the “Red Army” raped some 2 million German women because they were all Nazis anyway.

It is true some Maoists seek revolutions in western imperialist nations but these “revolutions” are not insurrection by organised working class via workers councils, the Soviets of the Russian Revolution, but some confused version of surrounding the cities from the countryside and urban guerrilla warfare following the Black Panthers.

And whilst there was all that backstabbing between Stalin and Tito and Mao and Hoxa, the latter maybe the most consistant third worldist Stalinist, it is clear that socialism is impossible in a single country and only the organised working class can overthrow capitalism in imperialist countries.

That being said the degeneration of the Trotskyist groups on the question of their attitude to imperialist wars, direct or by proxy, is shockingly reactionary leaving many Stalinist and Maoist groups pitching to their left.

1982 was a pivotal year, the Militant of Ted Grant supported the British Expeditionary fleet against Argentina, saying a Labour government should have continued the war along socialist lines so as not to let Galteiri get away with it. Here too the forerunners of the AWL led by Sean Matgamna adopted the same pro imperialism with the forerunners of the British USFI taking a neutral and therefore unprincipled position. Robertson of the Sparts was equally as bad. How few were the Trotskyists who called for the defeat of that fleet and the victory of Argentina, unconditional but critical support for war against global imperialism?

And today the shame of seeing the banner of revolutionary Trotskyism trailed in mud in Libya in 2011 in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and Ukraine by right centrist Trotskyists like the USFI and CWI and IMT and LIT. And some former left Trotskyists are worse, Workers Power and the RCIT promote jihadists funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey in Syria against Assad as leading a “revolution” FFS.

Of course many Stalinists still give uncritical support to all bourgeois nationalist opponents of imperialism, Stalin’s 1927 mistake which led to the Shanghai massacre but the Stalin of 1927 was still preferable to the Popular Front Stalin of 1935.

Bad as the Third Period lunatic ultra leftism was between 1928 and 1935 it was preferable to the outright political class collaboration of the Popular Front which destroyed revolutions in France and Spain in the late 1930s and the immediate post war period.

So Third Periodism led to the victory of Hitler but most of those German Stalinists ranks and some leaders were sincere revolutionaries, unlike the cynical popular frontists that followed them and killed many of them.

Stalin handed the German and Austrian communist refugees over to Hilter at Brest Litovst in 1939, Togliatti slaughtering the leftist revolutionary Bordegiaists in Italy in 1945 and the Greek CP did the same in Athens in the Civil War. They were of course accused of being Trotskyists but although the Stalinists killed many Trotskyists most of the victims in those days were left Stalinists who wanted to make revolution. And that political tradition lives on. Please address it politically and not personally.

And many Stalinist and Maoists are critical of Assad and the Donbas leadership and increasingly of Putin, who is playing such a treacherous role in Afrin right now. But the Assad YPG alliance there is a great progressive thing.

So comrades, please less personal attacks and bad language, a bit of respect for political opponents of Stalinist and Maoist persuasion and other self proclaimed Trotskyists whilst we fight out these very important differences.

Image result for Chiang Kai-Shek imagesChaing Kai-Shek with the traditional glorious-leader background, later adopted by Mao.

L. Trotsky

The Four Portraits of Chiang Kai-Shek

What Happened to the Ones Sent to Stalin, Rykov and Voroschilov, and the One for … Trotsky

(April 1927)

Written: 18 April 1927.
Source: The MilitantVol. V No. 38 (Whole No. 134), 17 September 1932, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive ( 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.


On April 6, 1927, Stalin defended his alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek before a select meeting of party officials in the Moscow Hall of the Columns. “Borodin is vigilant!” Through the intermediary of a vigilant agent he hoped to co-ordinate the struggle of the classes and to utilize it. On April 11, 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek after having smashed the proletariat, carried through his coup d’état in Shanghai. Shortly before the overthrow, Chiang Kai-Shek still found time to exchange portraits with Stalin, Rykov and Voroschilov, through the medium of Stalin’s personal agent in China, Bubnov. It should not be forgotten that in those days the Kuo Min Tang belonged to the Communist International with an advisory vote. The fourth portrait of Chiang Kai-Shek was intended for an exchange with … Trotsky. The Secretariat of the E.C.C.I. not only sent along Chiang Kai-Shek’s portrait with a note to Trotsky but also categorically demanded that Trotsky promptly send back to the Secretariat his own portrait for transmission to Chiang, with a corresponding dedication. Behind this whole action, it is plain, stood the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The supposition advanced in the Trotsky letter reproduced below, that all this was happening “without the knowledge of the leading persons” is naturally meant ironically. We already know that Stalin did at that time exchange his portrait for that of his Chinese ally. Here is Trotsky’s letter:

To the Eastern Secretariat of the E.C.C.I.
Copy: To the Presidium of the E.C.C.I. and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee:

Nr. 45-c

Returned from leave of absence, I found the photograph of Chiang Kai-Shek sent me through the Eastern Department of the E.C.C.I. and the request promptly to send him my autographed picture. Had I received such a request through the Foreign Office then, regardless of my attitude toward this request, I would find the fact itself explainable. But it is absolutely incomprehensible to me why the Eastern Department of the E.C.C.I. – the international organization of the Communist vanguard of the proletariat – occupies itself with such a thoroughly compromising matter as the spreading of portraits of Chiang Kai-Shek, on top of that – as a result of a malicious irony of fate – on the eve of the coup d’état carried out by him I do not doubt that this job, unseemly for the E.C.C.I., was done by some employee of the Eastern Department not empowered to do it, without the knowledge of the leading persons and especially of the Presidium of the E.C.C.I., as a consequence of which I deem it necessary to bring this distasteful affair to your attention. The picture of Chiang Kai-Shek I am herewith returning.

April 18, 1927

With Communist Greetings
L. Trotsky

2 thoughts on “Socialism is global not national

  1. Reblogged this on Socialist Fight and commented:

    reblog to accompany the educational document produced by Dov Winter. We really must get past Stalin’s immortal idocy of 1924: “Fascism is the bourgeoisie’s fighting organisation that relies on the active support of Social-Democracy. Social-Democracy is objectively the moderate wing of fascism.”


  2. Viriato says:

    A thorough discussion of what really happened in China has been for decades one of the main preocupations of the so-called “maoists”. So-called because if they take much of his left wing postions, they were more of Marxists-Léninists courrent than other thing. In fact, the left wing of M-L has very little to none diferences with orthodox troskists when they treat today’s problems. A part the prejudices that remain in both sides.

    M-Ls or “maoists” goes from the extreme right to the extreme left with all sort of positions, when they rests as a tendancy, because they have almost desapeared save in India where they are conducting a protracted guerrilla war and in other places but with differents positions.

    But, as I can grasp, they don’t say that it is possible to support “socialism in one country” which was in that time just a possibility because of the extention of the URSS and that need the support of the international working class.

    I do not know today any maoist group that support “socialism in one country” and most of them say that revolution can win in one country but could not sustain itself without going broader. This has change and it is changing because reality is so clear today.

    The same for the whole Chinese revolution which could not be understood with the political alliances that the left of the PCC take and without what they have theorized as “the fight between the two lines (the capitalist road and the socialist road)”.

    In fact, after 1930, the communist were forced to flight to the land where there were still remnents of the peasants insurrection and because of the caracteristics of China and its extension, it was possible to gathered the remains of the ultra-left adventure of Canton and of the remains of the 1rst Kuomingtang’s army that were composed of communists.

    This working class and communists cadres and other rests and some peasants recruited (and even local bandits) composed a forced guerrila force mostly of peasants but conducted by the PCC and the remaining forces of the working class.

    This, at that new begining is a double class situation in the party and in the red army that, naturally, conducts to a class fight inside the PCC. Of course, it should be argued that the working class policy was that proposed, but not followed, by Trotsky and chinese trtoskists. Then both right and left branches of the PCC were just two forms of the bourgeois or petit-bourgeois tendancies. But all this should also be studied and discussed. It is easy to say: Trtoski was right in 1927 and 1930, “then” it must be right in 1930-1940 about China.

    Troskists in China were as bad as always (see his polemics against Hoelerites and …I forgot), and split, split again and were incapables to propose to the working class or the chinese people a real political alternative that is not only nor mainly ideological or political but real, practical.

    Then the PCC from 1930 to 1935 applied a politic of developping it’s peasant bases and some work in the cities. In 1935 the intervention of the IC (Staline) via the 28 Bolsheviks, (with ideas not far from the ones defended by Trtoski but following the Moscou instructions) who destroyed all the peasants bases and the Red Army and the PCC (To 90% of it) and they were forced to scape to Yenan where, again, they were forced to take support in the peasentry.

    In the land they were chased by a powerful army and in the cities therev was a semi-fascists dictatorial regime that make very difficult the working class fight in a country where the working class was less than 1% of the population.

    The Japanese agression gives them the opportunity to grow because they applied exactly what is a united anti imperialist front against the imperialist agressors but not trusting fully the Kuomingtang (they have a separate army with it’s own direction even if they pay lip support to Chan Kai Shek). The Chang Kai Shek troups passed more time fighting the comunists than the japanese. Can this be taken as a “4 classes allliances”?

    The comunists were the ones who really fight the Japanese and at the end of the war they have grown to 1 million guerrila and army soldiers and the party has taken land containing 100 million people under their rule. First they have promoted a land reform but later, with the anti japanese war they just put forward a policy of diminishing taxes to join the maximum of people to the anti imperialist defense of the land war. It is a concession but the aim was correct, to concentrate the maximum of forces against the imperialist agression.

    At the ned of the war (1945) Staline counsel them to go to the Kuomingtang parliament for a New Constitution or a Constitutional Assembly which was a trap. Inside the party there were the ones who agreed with this but after manouvering including an interview between Mao and Chiang Kai Shek, Mao write a famous brochure called “conduct the revolution to the end” that was exactly against the Staline councel (very much on the idea of Trotski to fight for a Constitutional Assembly but surely not with the same intention.).

    The fight between 1945-1949 was much helped by a peasants insurrection going through China that, of course and as always, give momentum to the left in the party and defeat the Kuomingtang roten to the core.

    For that moment and save some concesions necesaries to the anti imperialist fight, there was only an ex-worker’s party with some support in the cities but who has recruited mainly in the land.
    This can be said an alliance between the remains of the revolutionary working class and the peasantry directed by a sort of remains of deformed working class policy as can be Mao’s left-centrism.

    The “four-classes” stuff who was the IC’s absurdity just could perhaps be a political orientation (there are no traces of it in Mao’s writtings in my knowledge. See for instance “The comunist party of China in the antijapanese war” which could be the nearest to that) but in fact, we have a peasants army conducted by comunists coming from two failed working class insurrections.

    What follows is also full of fights between the left side and the right side in the PCC (Agrarian policy; Army policy, developpment of cooperation and Popular comunes in the land, fight against “revisionism” and “pacific concurrence” i.e. agreement with US imperialism to divide the world etc) , just to the Cultural Revolution that is the most critical fight that was win by the right. That goes to the capitalist restoration in China and it’s actual history.

    This should be analized and has the explanation in the massive weight of the peasant class in China and the hesitations of the left, mainly on Mao (the Shenwulian document and others should be mandatory studied). Of course I have heard about the “fight inside the bureacracy” but this interpretation doesn’t take in account the influence of chinese and international classes in the PCC and is a direct and mechanical transposition of what was happening in the URSS en 1923-1937 with no analysis of the facts at all.

    In 1949, to make some apearence of the “4 classes ” stuff it was very difficult to find those “bourgeois progressive parties” and the PCC’s were forced to go out Chine to find some “personalities” (Madame Sun Yat Sen etc) that have no influence whatsoever in the conduction of China’s People Republic.

    Mao said something of the fact that the government was conducted by the PCC supported by the masses and the Red Army. That is just a poor peasants’ influenced by the communists sort of government and inside the PCC was a stern fight between the ones with a more mechevik position (Liu Tchao Tchi and Deng Tsiao Ping) and the left tendancy that wants to push further the agrarian reform and the industrialisation of Chine.

    You will say, as many trotskist say that the working class was not only not present, that there were no soviets ands even that it was put to work not asking it a question. It’s a fact that gives to the whole picture a fight between an open tendancy that want “to take the capitalist road” and a center-left tendancy who wants to go where they think was a “socialist road”. All the development going on during the Cultural Revolution should be studied very carefully because there was not only a fight of the right supported by the peasants but also the weakening of out of maoism tendancies that pointed to a real proletarian revolution. The retropedaling of Mao after the Shangai Comune ( installed under the exemple of the Commune de Paris at it was proclaimed by the working class Red Gards that take the city) was an objective treason even if it has been much discussed between “maoists”. Someones saying he has no choise but a civil war with far reaching consequencies for the Vietnam people fighting with some help of China and other reasons.
    This also will be a spitz point of every revolution and to go forward at the right moment or hesitate and goes backward to a rotten compromise will be a situation every revolution must resolve. Just see the day before the October Revolution in 1917.

    This can be argued that it was not a socialist road but a left bureaucratic one and that the “three world theory (rejected almost instantly by mani “maoists” partys (the chilian PCR between them and one of the firsts) or the “socialimperialist” absurdity, also very much discussed have nothing to do with marxism, of course.

    But, at that moment there has been Shenwulien, and the defeat of the whole left (the Red Gards and the Four) and Mao has basculated to an alliance with some minor centrist and could not or want not resist the pressure of the right and he finished taking the hand of Nixon. A lamentable end of a revolutionary that change China.

    This revolution could not be understood without taking in account all these factors (and many others thzt the shot space not alloud to developpe).

    I am ocnvinced that in every party and in every revolution, as the Cultural Revolution has theorized, there is a real class fight between the influence of the working class and the bourgeois remaining still predominant in the field of superstructure and in sciences and technique.

    The socialist period will fullfil a long histoirical epoch and the ones, as I have heard, that illusioning themselves thinking that once the take of power accomplished all is for the best of the worlds, make fools of themselves.

    This is perhaps the most important lessons of the chinese revolution and one of the best contribution of Mao Tse-Tung to the world revolution.

    I could be wrong but this is my perception of things.


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