30/10/2018 by socialistfight
By Gerry Downing
Robertsonian Stalinophilia; sectarian third period on British Labour and concomitant imperialist apologia
After a decade on internal struggle on whether or not Russia was an imperialist country, the International Bolshevik Tendency split in late October. Both sides released their statements; the first, from the Bill Logan-led IBT on 19-10-18, A Note on the World Situation, Recent Departures & Line Change on Russia, explained that the majority had split from the organisation and they were now the leadership. The second statement on 21-10-18 came the Tom Riley-led renamed Bolshevik Tendency Statement on Resuming Independent Existence as the BT, solved the problem of why a majority should walk away from an organisation they founded.
The answer was that they were no longer a majority, a third faction had emerged and both sides want to shut these up as quickly as possible. Without access to all the documents of that faction it is not possible to reach a full judgement on them but from what the Riley/BT statement tells us this is the correct revolutionary line on imperialism and on the united front. The emergence of the faction was what caused such panic and forced the decade-long compromise to come to a sudden end. Riley was no longer the majority and both sides feared the struggle with a semi-colonial group who understood their ultra-left sectarianism and the full extent of their capitulation to imperialism would result in losses to that faction.
We have written on the united front and the correct attitude to social democracy elsewhere. Our comrade Ian Donovan has reposted his 1998 Revolution and Truth (R & T) polemic with the IBT and we agree 100% with his position on that question and voting for the bourgeois workers component of Popular Front. Suffice to say that he supplied the relevant Trotsky quote and the excuse of the Sparts Norden that Trotsky did not know what the policy of his supporters was in France was in 1934-36. Here is the Trotsky quote:
“All the political facts prove that there is no basis for the People’s Front either in the social relations of France or in the political mood of the masses. This policy is imposed from above: by the Radical bourgeoisie, by the Socialist businessmen and careerists, by the Soviet diplomats and their ‘Communist’ lackeys. All together they have done everything possible by means of the most dishonest of all electoral systems in order to dupe and rob politically the popular masses and to distort their real will. Nevertheless, even under these conditions the masses were able to give expression to their desire: not a coalition with the Radicals but the consolidation of the toilers against the whole bourgeoisie.
“Had revolutionary working class candidates been run on the second ballot in all the electoral districts in which the Socialists and Communists withdrew in favour of the Radicals, they would, no doubt, have obtained a very considerable number of votes. It is unfortunate that not a single organisation was to be found capable of such initiative. This shows that the revolutionary groups in both the centre and locally are lagging behind the dynamics of the events and prefer to temporise and evade whenever it is necessary to act. This is a sad situation. But the general orientation of the masses is quite clear.
“The Socialists and the Communists worked with all their might to pave the way for the ministry of Herriot — at worst the ministry of Daladier [i.e. politicians of openly bourgeois parties]. What did the masses do? They imposed upon the Socialists and Communists the ministry of [SFIO leader Leon] Blum. Is this not a direct vote against the policy of the People’s Front?” (The Decisive Stage, from Leon Trotsky on France, Monad Press, 1979, pp157-8).
But Jan Norden, then a central leader of the Sparts, now leader of the International Group/LFI cast doubt on the obvious conclusion that Trotsky was here advocating support and votes for the SFIO and PCF. Trotsky just did not know what was going on and/or opportunistically failed to take his French comrades to task for advocating a vote for the Socialists and Communists:
“So what was the situation in 1936? First of all, nobody paid any attention to this question at all. In the internal bulletin of the GBL there is one sentence on its policy in the election — and two pages of discussion in a later bulletin — compared to more than a hundred pages on the split with the Molinier group. Nor was the GBL policy mentioned in any of the post-June 1936 issues of Lutte Ouvriere. It was not a big issue. I’m not even sure Trotsky knew what the GBL policy was [R & T emphasis]; he might have, but it’s not clear. I was looking through the [Trotsky] archives [at Harvard University], and Trotsky writes big notes over everything putting triple exclamation points every time Vereecken opens his mouth. But here there’s no marks at all on his copy [of the GBL internal bulletin referring to election policy].
As Ian noted in 1998:
“It is absurd that Norden can speculate that Trotsky did not know what the electoral policy of the GBL was in 1935-36. In fact, there is a whole separate volume of Trotsky’s writings about the political crisis of the GBL during that very period. It is called The Crisis of the French Section (1935-36) (Pathfinder, 1977) and shows through numerous letters and polemical essays that Trotsky was paying very close attention to the internal life of the GBL and in fact waging within it a programmatic battle against the adventurist, centrist conceptions of the party and programmatically liquidationist, fake mass work-ism worst exemplified by Raymond Molinier. There is no passage in that book (or anywhere else) where Trotsky attacks the policy of being prepared to give electoral support to mass workers parties involved in a popular front. The reason why Trotsky did not scrawl critical annotations over the piece on this question in his copy of the GBL internal bulletin is obviously because he did not see what it said as in any way contentious. This is obvious to any honest reader of the material.” 
Trotsky explained the proper attitude of Communists to the British Labour party here:
“The difference is nevertheless colossal: in the past the British proletariat, insofar as it took part in political life, and especially during the first half of the nineteenth century, tied its democratic pacifist illusions to the activity of the Liberal Party. The latter did “not justify” these hopes and had forfeited the workers’ confidence. A special Labour Party arose as an invaluable historical conquest which nothing can now take away. But it must be clearly realized that the masses of workers became disillusioned more in Liberalism’s goodwill than in democratic pacifist methods of solving the social question and the more so now that new generations and new millions are being drawn into politics for the first time. They transferred their hopes and illusions to the Labour Party.” 
And Lenin and Trotsky never changed their views on this. The IBT line is sectarian third period nonsense on the British Labour party. This is complemented by a concomitant apologia for imperialism. Bill Logan first declared his line that Russia was imperialist in 2008 when Putin responded military in South Ossetia when Georgian president Saakashvili invaded in August 2008. An obvious defence of the war aims of US imperialism. It is unclear what Riley’s majority line was but certainly, it was not as bad as that. But far worse was to come over the Ukraine in 2014. In their conference of March 2014 the Loganites really did it. Here is the sorry tale:
“While there was no agreement on whether Russia is “imperialist,” there could be no doubt about the rivalry—as the Ukrainian crisis came to a boiling point in the weeks prior to the conference. On 3 March, Riley replied to a query from Dorn regarding the Nimp (Russia not imperialist) attitude toward a possible military conflict: “If there is a civil war in Ukraine between two qualitatively similar bourgeois opponents we would not have a side,” but in the event of a move “to forcibly seize the Russian base and assert Ukrainian nationalist/Nazi western imperialist government control” we would “side militarily with Crimean resistance and any Russian troops to repel the invaders.” Two days later (5 March 2014) Dorn, Decker and Logan (Loganites) presented a draft statement on Ukrainian events which included the following: “We demand the immediate expulsion of Russian forces from the territory of Ukraine (including its naval base at Sebastopol), and of any Western forces or ‘observers’ that may intervene militarily.”
Russia’s expulsion from its chief naval base on the Black Sea would have represented a major strategic setback for the Kremlin and a huge gain for U.S. imperialism, because the rightist regime in Kiev would have immediately handed the facility over to NATO. The Imps and Nimps disagreed about whether the population of the Crimea had a right to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia. There were also significant differences over Russia’s intervention in Syria. The substantial articles published in on these questions, (“Ukraine, Russia & the Struggle for Eurasia” [No. 37] and “Middle East Chaos” [No. 38]) represent the Nimp position. To their credit the Imps publicly defended these positions whenever challenged in an exemplary fashion, despite their political reservations.”
Nazi emblems proudly on show – but the IBT could not oppose even that. And their right opposition implicitly wanted to support it by giving the Russian Black Sea base of Sebastopol to the USA!
Barbara Dorn is the leader of the IBT in Britain and she made this statement in 2014 in direct support for US imperialism (who was going to perform the “immediate expulsion” of the Russian forces from the naval base at Sebastopol? Obvious NATO and the USA!). But what about the Maidan coup? We now know great detail about what happened, but even without those, we had to oppose the war aims of imperialism and it was impossible to reach any other stance than opposition to this coup.
It was organised by the US NGOs, $5 billion spent for that purpose, Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State, was good enough to tell us. The CIA directly participated, and the leading force were outright fascists, the Azov Battalion and the Right Sector, glorifying wartime Hitler collaborator Stapan Bandera (mass murderer of tens of thousands Jews and Poles for Hitler and for the glory of Ukraine) and flying the Wolfsangle, Nazi insignia and chanting fascist slogans like “glory to Ukraine” etc. No serious Trotskyist could take a neural stance on that but the whole IBT did. We have not heard of a single opposition vote.
Just to remind ourselves part of what Victoria Nuland (left) said in conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt (right), which the Russians were good enough to bug and record for posterity:
“OK. He’s now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.” 
“Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.”
The good old US of A organised the lot! We can see now why we shouldn’t have opposed the US in the Maidan coup; it would have assisted not only Russian imperialism but also EU imperialism. And good old US chauvinist sects like the Spart Family could not have that!
 Ian Donovan, From the Archives: Spartacism vs. Trotskyism on the Popular Front, https://socialistfight.com/2018/10/25/from-the-archives-spartacism-vs-trotskyism-on-the-popular-front/
 Leon Trotsky’s Writings on Britain, 1925, Volume 2, Where is Britain Going?, CHAPTER VIII, Prospects, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/britain/wibg/ch08.htm