Ideas to change the world or just the bosses?


Those seeking an alternative to the dead end of social democracy and to reclaim the liberatory promise of socialism often find the ideas of Leon Trotsky attractive. Trotsky is presented as the democratic alternative to Stalinism, reclaiming and defending the best of the Bolshevik tradition and socialism. This perspective is false. Here is Trotsky on the necessity of party dictatorship -- the dictatorship over the proletariat.

"We have more than once been accused of having substituted for the dictatorship of the Soviets the dictatorship of the party. Yet it can be said with complete justice that the dictatorship of the Soviets became possible only by means of the dictatorship of the party . . . In this 'substitution' of the power of the party for the power of the working class there is nothing accidental, and in reality there is no substitution at all. . ." (1920)

"They place the workers' right to elect representatives - above the Party, as if the party were not entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers' democracy. It is necessary to create amongst us the awareness of the revolutionary birthright of the party, which is obliged to maintain its dictatorship, regardless of temporary wavering even in the working classes. . ." (1921)

"If there is one question which basically not only does not require revision but does not so much as admit the thought of revision, it is the question of the dictatorship of the Party, and its leadership in all spheres of our work . . . " (1923)

"The growing replacement of the party by its own apparatus is promoted by a 'theory' of Stalin's which denies the Leninist principle, inviolable for every Bolshevik, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is and can be realised only through the dictatorship of the party." (1927)

"The proletariat can take power only through its vanguard . . . a revolutionary party, even after seizing power . . . is still by no means the sovereign ruler of society. . . Those who propose the abstraction of Soviets to the party dictatorship should understand that only thanks to the party dictatorship were the Soviets able to lift themselves out of the mud of reformism and attain the state form of the proletariat." (1937)

"The revolutionary dictatorship of a proletarian party is for me not a thing that one can freely accept or reject: It is an objective necessity . . . The dictatorship of a party belongs to the barbarian prehistory as does the state itself, but we can not jump over this chapter. . . The revolutionary party (vanguard) which renounces its own dictatorship surrenders the masses to the counter-revolution . . . Abstractly speaking, it would be very well if the party dictatorship could be replaced by the 'dictatorship' of the whole toiling people without any party, but this presupposes such a high level of political development among the masses that it can never be achieved under capitalist conditions." (1937)

"The very same masses, are at different times inspired by different moods and objectives. It is just for this reason that a centralised organisation of the vanguard is indispensable. Only a party, wielding the authority it has won, is capable of overcoming the vacillation of the masses themselves . . . if the dictatorship of the proletariat means anything at all, then it means that the vanguard of the proletariat is armed with the resources of the state in order to repel dangers, including those emanating from the backward layers of the proletariat itself." (1939)

 On to For a socialism that liberates!

Making history or just repeating it?
A leaflet discussing why socialism and electioneering do not go together. Available in pdf format and in four parts:

  1. Making history or just repeating it?
  2. Socialism or Social Democracy?
  3. Ideas to change the world or just the bosses?
  4. For a socialism that liberates!

PDF file of Making history or just repeating it?

Anarchism and elections in Britain

 


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