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 Post subject: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 6:03 pm 
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At least he's probably presented the best defense of Trotsky that has originated elsewhere than Trotsky's own pen.

So recently I've listened to his book, Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise, and I'd like to pick it apart a little bit.

The introduction of the book establishes the intent of the book. It purports that the criticism Trotsky hurls against the USSR are not mere criticism, that Trotsky has turned the weapon of criticism into the criticism of the weapon. The task, then, for the author is to establish that Trotsky views the USSR as fundamentally counter-revolutionary. If Trotsky views the USSR in this manner, then naturally Trotsky is more than justified in attacking the USSR by use of more than mere words. In attempting to transform the written and spoken criticisms of Trotsky in to existential assaults upon the USSR, Trotsky himself is transformed from opposition politician to renegade terrorist, thus excusing his eventually assassination as a continuation of the policy towards white guards. Additionally, this gives us a solid foundation for differentiating between Trotsky and Trotskyism. If the USSR turned Trotsky, a fairly reputable individual, in to the renegade terrorist trying to take down the USSR, they also opened the door for petty-bourgeoise intellectuals to use Trotsky for the same ends, inventing their own Trotskyism based solely on its opposition to the USSR.

Lines such as this make it rather transparent.

Olgin wrote:
He had a dream once. He has a dream now. To see the Soviet Union wrecked, to see the Bolshevik Party destroyed, to see the leaders of Bolshevism assassinated, to see the world Communist movement crushed, to see the Communist International wiped off the earth,—how that would gladden his heart! How he gloats over this vision! Of course, he does not say so outright. He cannot expose himself before the world.


The work is also rather hard to trust as it pretty blatantly lies at various points.

Olgin wrote:
Trotsky denies the uneven development of the capitalist countries under imperialism.


Unless I'm missing something, Trotsky held pretty tightly to a pretty well-formed theory of uneven and combined development.

This sequence of text in particular almost had me laugh at how badly it seemed to miss the mark

Olgin wrote:
“Without direct State support from the European proletariat, the working class of Russia cannot maintain itself in power and transform its temporary rule into a durable Socialist dictatorship. This we cannot doubt for an instant.” (Leon Trotsky, Our Revolution, Russian Edition, 1906, p. 278.)

What does Trotsky say in this declaration? He says to the workers that even if through some coincidence of circumstances they found themselves in possession of State power, they would not be able to retain that power. They would need, he asserts, the State support of the European proletariat, i.e., the support of the European proletariat in possession of State power. In the absence of such a support, a successful revolution in Russia is impossible—and it is useless for the Russian workers to attempt the seizure of power


Then not a single paragraph later, Olgin quotes Trotsky saying

Trotsky wrote:
That no single country should ‘wait’ for others in its own struggle is an elementary idea which it is useful and necessary to repeat, in order to avoid the substitution of the idea of expectant international inaction for the idea of simultaneous international action. Without waiting for others, we begin and continue our struggle on our national soil quite sure that our initiative will give an impetus to the struggle in other countries; but if that should not happen, then it would be hopeless, in the light of the experience of history and in the light of theoretical considerations, to think, for example, that a revolutionary Russia could hold its own in the face of conservative Europe or that a Socialist Germany could remain isolated in the capitalist world.


So on the one hand Olgin asserts Trotsky claims that the Russian proletariat shouldn't rise up, and on the other hand he quotes Trotsky saying that the Russian proletariat should rise up.

What is being attacked here is the idea of permanent revolution, whereas Olgin interprets it as a signal to do nothing, Trotsky is urging it as a signal for international revolutions. I recall Arty at one point saying something about the existence of the USSR as a 'socialism' in one country being bought at the price of international revolution, this is a subject I would like to read more about.

I'm starting to get a little pressed for time so maybe I'll come back to this but the three other points I want to hit is the question of the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry", social fascism, and China which is related to the first point. It would seem that the leaders of the USSR didn't even understand that the Russian Revolution did not result in a "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry," but just a DoTP. As a result they wind up lambasting Trotsky for remaining opposed to this conception which he was opposed to for quite a long time. This also forms the substance of the criticism against Trotsky in the chapter on China, where Trotsky rightly criticises the stageist strategy of the USSR. The section on China really made me want to read Trotsky's works on China. Lastly, Olgin characterises Trotsky in general as a petty-bourgeoise intellectual, but remains insistent of the need to ally the proletarian revolution with petty-bourgeoise intelelctuals.

The most comical section, however, was the section on social fascism. Basically there were two tactics under consideration. Do we call the social democrats pieces of shit and try to work with them against fascism or do we say that they are only potentially pieces of shit and try to work with them against fascism? As it turned out, they really were pieces of shit, not even the Nazis wanted them, so the obvious answer to not work with them at all is painfully avoided.

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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 9:24 am 
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Quote:
he's probably presented the best defense of Trotsky


what are you on about?

Olgin was known as one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the Stalinist current in American Communism. For example, he was the Party's expert on fighting Trotskyism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moissaye_Joseph_Olgin


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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 3:34 pm 
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Noa wrote:
Quote:
he's probably presented the best defense of Trotsky


what are you on about?

Olgin was known as one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the Stalinist current in American Communism. For example, he was the Party's expert on fighting Trotskyism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moissaye_Joseph_Olgin


It was satire, like he did such a bad of attacking Trotsky it wound up coming off as a defense of Trotsky.

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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:00 pm 
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ah, a bit like the Tories attacking Corbyn as a destroyer of capitalism are the best defenders of Corbyn, or capitalists attacking unions as dangerous socialist schools are the best defenders of unions.


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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:17 pm 
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Olgin Did write gushing praise of Trotsky in the introduction he wrote for the translated edition of Trotsky's "Our Revolution," which contains lines like:

Quote:
We have selected Leon Trotzky’s contribution to revolutionary thought, not because he is now in the lime light of history, but because his conceptions represent a very definite, a clearcut and intrinsically consistent trend of revolutionary thought, quite at from that of other leaders. We do not agree with many of Trotzky’s ideas and policies, yet we cannot overlook the fact that these ideas have become predominant in the present phase of the Russian Revolution and that they are bound to give their stamp to Russian democracy in the years to come, whether the present government remains in power or not.


http://www.marxistsfr.org/archive/trots ... o/ch01.htm

This preface was used against Olgin in the CPUSA/Third International briefly.

Olgin's text (Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise) is written in a style that seems to mimic Stalin's writing style-- it is very direct. Very little flowery prose and (unnecessary) elaboration.

Bro:

On combined and uneven development, in Chapter 5 ('Socialism in One Country'):

Quote:
Trotsky denies the uneven development of the capitalist countries under imperialism. He denies the entire Leninist analysis of imperialism as forming one integrated whole that must inevitably be broken through by the proletarian revolution in its weakest spot. He thinks that the internal and external contradictions of imperialism are not sharp enough to make a breaking of the imperialist front in a single country possible. He thinks that the forces of the proletarian revolution are not strong enough to be able to break the front of imperialism in a single country. True to his covering up defeatism with revolutionary phrases he puts forward the idea of a revolution in one country supported by revolutions in other countries, but this cannot eliminate the fact that he says to the workers of every country, “You cannot make a revolution alone; you are sure to be defeated; wait till other countries begin; if there is no revolution elsewhere, you are doomed”,—which is tantamount to denying the possibility of any revolution at all.


The point of divergence appears to be whether or not combined and uneven development characterizes the epoch of proletarian revolution and dictatorship. Olgin (via Stalin via Lenin) apply the law of combined and uneven development to the proletarian revolution/proletarian dictatorship (Lenin's 'United States of Europe' is the consistent source for this perspective).

I think the bigger point on the other quotes in the op is from this portion:

Quote:
So on the one hand Olgin asserts Trotsky claims that the Russian proletariat shouldn't rise up, and on the other hand he quotes Trotsky saying that the Russian proletariat should rise up.


This would be an example of what Olgin calls covering defeatism with revolutionary phrases. In the same breathe that Trotsky says that the struggle can't be put on hold to wait for external forces and reserves, he says it's impossible to consolidate and defend the fruits of this revolutionary struggle without these external forces and reserves.

You're right that it's an attack on the theory of permanent revolution, but it's a matter of whether or not the theory of permanent revolution can be validated by the continued existence of the Soviet state in most of the old Russian Empire and the victory of counter-revolution in Europe and elsewhere. Lenin's framework from 'United States of Europe' certainly is, and it's not surprising that this would then become (probably the primary) basis of SIOC.


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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:36 pm 
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Seems to me it's just a matter of interpretation. Namely, understanding that when Trotsky says it's impossible to defend the USSR without the spread of world revolution it is not a call for inaction in the USSR but a call to action around the rest of the world. I don't understand how this is defeatism, we openly state that high-wage workers are vulnerable to wage cuts if they are unable to drag the more backwards section of the class forward with them, this isn't a call for the high-wage workers to stop their class struggle, just to spread it.

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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 10:25 am 
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For what it's worth RE: permanent revolution vs socialism in one country:

Marx, Class Struggles in France 1848-50 wrote:
Just as the workers thought they would be able to emancipate themselves side by side with the bourgeoisie, so they thought they would be able to consummate a proletarian revolution within the national walls of France, side by side with the remaining bourgeois nations. But French relations of production are conditioned by the foreign trade of France, by her position on the world market and the laws thereof; how was France to break them without a European revolutionary war, which would strike back at the despot of the world market, England?

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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 10:51 am 
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Quote:
Trotsky denies the uneven development of the capitalist countries under imperialism. He denies the entire Leninist analysis of imperialism as forming one integrated whole that must inevitably be broken through by the proletarian revolution in its weakest spot. He thinks that the internal and external contradictions of imperialism are not sharp enough to make a breaking of the imperialist front in a single country possible. He thinks that the forces of the proletarian revolution are not strong enough to be able to break the front of imperialism in a single country. True to his covering up defeatism with revolutionary phrases he puts forward the idea of a revolution in one country supported by revolutions in other countries, but this cannot eliminate the fact that he says to the workers of every country, “You cannot make a revolution alone; you are sure to be defeated; wait till other countries begin; if there is no revolution elsewhere, you are doomed”,—which is tantamount to denying the possibility of any revolution at all.


Of all the things to accuse Trotsky of denying, that ^^ takes the fucking cake, since permanent revolution is precisely the class expression of uneven and combined development; and doubly since Trotsky's writings on China expose the material basis for permanent revolution in the conditions of uneven and combined development.

Then of course there' s Olgin's exposition of his own ignorance, when he says "the entire Leninist analysis of imperialism as forming one integrated whole that must inevitably be broken through by the proletarian revolution in its weakest spot", followed by this "He [Trotsky] thinks that the internal and external contradictions of imperialism are not sharp enough to make a breaking of the imperialist front in a single country possible." Ummh-- if it's one integrated whole, imperialism that is, how can there be contradictions external to it?

Come on, that imperialism functions as a whole doesn't mean there are different degrees, and types, and manifestations of that integration. That's one. As for two, Trotsky never held that the contradictions are not sharp enough to produce a break, a revolution, in a single country. What uneven and combined development does mean is that the material conditions for a bourgeois revolution have been eclipsed by the penetration of imperialism, and by the accommodation of the bourgeoisie to "pre-capitalist" formations. The logical outcome is that only a proletarian revolution is possible in any country, developed or undeveloped, but that the material conditions for socialism, as opposed to proletarian revolution, can only be established internationally, with the success of the proletariat in more than 1 or 2 or 3 countries.

Olgin's piece is just.....bullshit. The typical obfuscation, distortion etc that was so important to the defeat of proletarian revolution in the name of a so-called socialism in one country.

We know exactly where SIOC led, where all this gibberish against permanent revolution got us-- it got us to the defeat of the proletariat in Spain, China, France, Vietnam, etc. and eventually to the destruction of the former Soviet Union.

This issue was settled long ago-- by the class itself in October 1917. And then settled and resettled by defeats of the workers' by and through the actions of the fSU.


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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 6:00 pm 
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SA-- Apologies in advance for the excessive quotes:

Quote:
The proletariat, in order to consolidate its power, cannot but widen the base of the revolution. Many sections of the working masses, particularly in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically organized only after the advance-guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of state


--Trotsky, Results and Prospects

Quote:
Trotskyism possesses three specific features which bring it into irreconcilable contradiction with Leninism.

What are these features?

Firstly. Trotskyism is the theory of "permanent" (uninterrupted) revolution. But what is permanent revolution in its Trotskyist interpretation? It is revolution that fails to take the poor peasantry into account as a revolutionary force. Trotsky's "permanent" revolution is, as Lenin said, "skipping" the peasant movement, "playing at the seizure of power." Why is it dangerous? Because such a revolution, if an attempt had been made to bring it about, would inevitably have ended in failure, for it would have divorced from the Russian proletariat its ally, the poor peasantry. This explains the struggle that Leninism has been waging against Trotskyism ever since 1905.

How does Trotsky appraise Leninism from the standpoint of this struggle? He regards it as a theory that possesses "anti-revolutionary features." What is this indignant opinion about Leninism based on? On the fact that, at the proper time, Leninism advocated and upheld the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.


--Stalin, Leninism or Trotskyism?

The specific terminology on the 'inner and outer contradictions of imperialism' is from the 10th enlarged plenum of the ECCI (1929). Lovestone's factional document from that time talks about it a good bit (p. 19): https://ia600202.us.archive.org/4/items ... Crisis.pdf

it just seems to be a catch-all to say both the peculiarities of development within a particular national capital (inner) and the (crises, tendencies, trajectory) of world capitalism (outer).

Quote:
The logical outcome is that only a proletarian revolution is possible in any country, developed or undeveloped, but that the material conditions for socialism, as opposed to proletarian revolution, can only be established internationally, with the success of the proletariat in more than 1 or 2 or 3 countries.


There's a lot to talk about here. We should define the 'material conditions for socialism', whether only a proletarian revolution is possible from a particular point in history, what the enduring success of a proletarian revolution means (i.e. does it necessarily and only become enduring at the expense of the revolution?), etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Moissaye J. Olgin, staunch defender of Trotsky
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 8:04 pm 
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No, there's not a lot to talk about here. There is the pseudo theory of SOIC. There is the historical inaccuracy of Lenin's "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry." And there is the concrete movement of capitalism expressed in uneven and combined development producing the conditions, that is to say the potential and and the necessity for "permanent revolution"-- where a formal democratic struggle is overtaken by the actual class conflict at the core.

We're going to start quoting Stalin on RM now? Quoting Stalin was reason for exclusion when RM was originally formed.

We don't have to broaden any discussion to include any elements other than the ones that Olgin brings up, and the reality that the criticisms he raises of permanent revolution represent a complete lack of understanding of uneven and combined development, of imperialism, and of class struggle.


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