05/08/2019 by socialistfight
Letter to Weekly Worker 2 August in reply to marie Lynham’s posadist letter the previous week, appended below.
Marie Lynam’s Iran not afraid (WW 1 August) correctly takes a strong position of defence of Iran against US aggression and sharply differentiates between oppressed and oppressor nations. Of course, Trotskyists do not see the defence of the Iranian government as our ultimate goal and always look to the working class in Iran and globally as the only real, ultimate grave digger of imperialism and all capitalism via Trotsky’s programme of Permanent Revolution. Unconditional but critical support means we do not seek to whitewash the brutal history of the theocratic leadership; the crushing of the Iranian revolution from 1980, the mass executions of leftists and national minorities and those obscene, barbaric, ongoing public hangings of gays on those cranes.
Marie may argue that in conditions of the impending war against Iran by US-led imperialism it is inappropriate to raise these issues now. And it is true that right now we emphasise defence against imperialism via the Anti-Imperialist United Front. Always seeking to strengthen and raise the class consciousness of the working class against imperialism now in order to prepare it to overthrow Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani in the internationalist-orientated socialist revolution.
But really by far the worst section of the letter is the apology for Stalin and the corrupt counter-revolutionary Stalinist bureaucracy that betrayed the great Russian Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky. In the first place Trotskyists always refer to the USSR after 1928, with the crushing of internal party democracy, as a ‘degenerated workers state’, not just a ‘workers state’, as Marie does. Similarly, with Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Cuba the term is ‘deformed workers states’ to indicate they were born in the image of the degenerated state in the USSR.
Did the defeat of Hitler ‘drew a historic line under the colonial ambition of world capitalism’? The US replaced the European colonial empires of Britain, France, Italy, etc. by the far more efficient exploiting system of the rule of finance capital led by the US and neo-colonial oppression via local proxies. This involved all those regime-change coups like Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953 and CIA assassinations like that of Patrice Lumumba in 1961.
So, it’s entirely incorrect to propose that ‘the Soviet workers’ state broke the foundations of colonisation – hence of capital accumulation’. Capitalist accumulation has proceeded swimmingly along with more vicious, efficient methods of neo-liberalism pioneered by Milton Friedman from the Chicago School in Chile from 1973 and embraced so enthusiastically by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. If that neo-liberal agenda is now running out of steam, we can see its replacement is far-right oppressive regimes and world war threatened by Trump, Johnson and Netanyahu and looming fascism to the right of them.
And the unalloyed praise for the ‘Red Army’ hides the fact during the whole of WWII Stalin was allied with imperialism; with Hitler from August 1939 to June 1941 and then with Churchill and Roosevelt to kill the prospect of revolution, as happened in Russia after WWI. Stalin betrayed the Spanish Revolution to appease French, British and US imperialism; the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was signed in 1936 when France was in the throes of a pre-revolutionary situation in the general strike in May–June 1936. The Spanish revolution began on 17 July. The Popular Front governments in both states were initiated to betray a pre-revolutionary situation in France and actual revolution in train in Spain in order to appease the ‘democratic imperialists’.
Roy Howard interviewed Stalin for Communist International of March-April 1936:
“Howard: Does this statement of yours mean that the Soviet Union has to any degree abandoned its plans and intentions to bring about a world revolution?
Stalin: We never had any such plans or intentions.
Howard: You appreciate, no doubt Mr Stalin, that much of the world has long entertained a different impression?
Stalin: This is the product of misunderstanding.
Howard: A tragic misunderstanding?
Stalin: No, comic. Or perhaps tragi-comic…”
Then came the Stalin-Halter pact of August 1939, when the Spanish Revolution was not yet cold in its grave. Molotov revealed the degree of the political collapse of the bureaucracy in a speech on the 31 October 1939 to the Extraordinary Fifth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR:
“One may accept or reject the ideology of Hitlerism as well as any other ideological system, that is a matter of political views. But everybody should understand that an ideology cannot be destroyed by force, that it cannot be eliminated by war. It is, therefore, not only senseless but criminal to wage such a war as a war for the ‘destruction of Hitlerism’ camouflaged as a fight for ‘democracy’.”
The resumption of the Popular Front with the ‘democratic imperialists’ after Hitler ‘betrayed’ Stalin and invaded the USSR was equally counter-revolutionary. Stalin allowed the Nazis to crush the Warsaw Uprising from August to October 1944, ‘resting’ the ‘Red Army’ on the banks of the Vistula while Hitler annihilated this great worker’s uprising. They then the proceeded westward, nowhere allowing any worker uprising to succeed, all Germans were Nazis, according to Stalin and there was no call to rise up as the ‘Red Army’ had come to liberate you.
This army raped up to two million German and women in Hungary, Romania, and Croatia as it swept westward. When the Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas protested to Stalin he said: “Can’t he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?”
And the Communist parties entered government in eight European countries to save capitalism from workers revolution, which had developed to actual revolutionary uprisings in Norther Italy and Greece and Vietnam. Palmiro Togliatti entered a government led by the fascist Pietro Badoglio in 1943 to betray the Italian revolution and set about the grisly work of assassinating the revolutionaries in his own party, again to appease the ‘democratic imperialists’.
The regular plea that Stalin defeated fascism is, in reality, a plea to imperialism to acknowledge the service that Stalinism does for imperialism in betraying socialist revolution and murdering Trotskyists, and nostalgia for the time when Churchill praised Stalin for agreeing to put down the revolution in Greece. Churchill noted that the British massacres in Athens were widely and strongly criticised in the US press and by the US State Department, and also in The Times and the Manchester Guardian in Britain, but added:
“Stalin, however, adhered strictly and faithfully to our agreement of October, and during all the long weeks of fighting the Communists in the streets of Athens, not one word of reproach came from Pravda or Izvestia.” (Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no.23, September 1985, pp.35-60.)
Marie comes across as very much a semi-Trotskyist, semi-Stalinist in this letter.
Iran Not Afraid
The US had already decided to send troops (and the Patriot missile system) to its base in Saudi Arabia before Iran seized the British tanker, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. Since the UK stopped the Iranian-flagged Grace 1 in Gibraltar on July 4 – and the US claims to have downed an Iranian drone on July 18 – Iran is defending itself. Even the British media tend to accept this.
It is the US administration that broke the Iran nuclear deal. And it is Iran that proposed to France and Germany – and even the UK – that they keep the deal alive. The latter are gradually taking the side of the US, of course, through their common class interests. The Trump government wants to keep Iran in awe of its imperialist plans in the Middle East, but Iran is not afraid and it fights back instead. Like Venezuela, Syria and Libya, it is a revolutionary state.
As in the cases of Venezuela and Syria, the imperialists find themselves confronted with Russia and China. Regime change ‘in slices’ becomes difficult for the imperialists – if not impossible. As for Russia and China, beyond their very great internal shortcomings, they act on the world’s stage in a way that helps ex-colonial countries defy, resist and unite against any return to colonial subjugation and pillage.
Through their incapacity to plan, their repeated failures and their procrastinations, Trump and the imperialists show that they are afraid. It is not for lack of military strength that they fail in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Ukraine: there is just no capitalist development to be had for them in the world.
It is the Soviet workers’ state that defeated Nazism and not ‘the allies’. It was the triumph of the Soviet Union that created the conditions for most of the colonies to become independent. For imperialism to return to the pillaging of the world, it must now defeat Russia and China.
By its behaviour, Iran shows that it is not afraid. It is imperialism that is afraid. It wants world war against Russia and China, but it keeps putting it off, putting if off. It is afraid of what it is, and of what it does, as a system.
Wracked by internal competition and the hatred of the world’s masses, world capitalism keeps stoking the fires of war instead of taking bold, planned and confident control of an all-out war. And, when it finally decides to do so, it will be another fiasco, like all its wars, and for the same reasons.
The left in the Labour Party needs to assimilate the fact that, when the workers’ state of the Soviet Union smashed the Nazis, it drew a historic line under the colonial ambition of world capitalism. In this action carried out by its Red Army, its entirely mobilised masses and its 27 million dead, the Soviet workers’ state broke the foundations of colonisation – hence of capital accumulation.