Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trotskyism: a degenerated workers’ party

by Erin Bertuch

1. Introduction: Trotskyism – a personal reaction
If you linger long enough in radical Australian politics, of either Far Right or Far Left, you will, sooner or later, come up against Trotskyite communist Left. The Trotskyite section of the Australian communist movement survived, in the way that a cockroach survives an atomic explosion, the disbanding of the main Australian communist outfit – the Australian Communist Party – in 1991, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union that year. Now, in Australia in 2012, we have the Trotskyite groupuscules Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Equality Party, et al., which make up the largest and most powerful and numerous of the nation’s communist groups.
Given Trotskyism’s notorious propensity for fission – the opposite of fusion – we can expect, in the foreseeable future, a proliferation of Trotskyite grouplets. Once, I admired the Trotskyite groups for their discipline and monolithic unity: Leninist qualities which I felt were sorely lacking in the Australian Far Right. But now, after studying the ideology in a little more detail, I realise that I was labouring under a illusion: compared to Trotskyism, the Far Right groups I have belonged to were monolithic, unified, democratic centralist and Leninist to the core. If you want a model of disciplined and unified party politics, you should look no further than the mainline Russian Communist Party and its offshoots in the West, right up to 1991.
A week before I started this article, I was reading a copy of Robert Service’s 2009 book, Trotsky: A Biography, travelling on a tram in the CBD of Melbourne, and, by a coincidence, passed a booth set up by the Socialist Alternative on a busy street corner – the members (primarily women who, it seems, were of the lesbian sexual orientation) passing out materials supporting gay marriage. It’s a real symptom of the degeneration of the Left since the collapse of the Soviet Union: communism has strayed from its path and now is primarily devoted to, among other things, Palestinian nationalism and the promotion of gay marriage. (One has to ask: did gays exist in the Soviet Union in Trotsky’s time? Or were they shot?). How did Trotsky, an austere, illiberal, hard line Bolshevik and apostle of mainline Soviet communism become a patron saint of Australian homosexualism? It is one question no-one has, to my satisfaction, been able to answer. What is clear, though, is that liberalism is now stronger than the Radical Left: the liberal doctrine on race – that Australians must become a minority in their country and be systematically replaced by Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese, Lebanese and Filipinos (and now Sub-Saharan Africans) – has now become accepted by every academic, judge, politician, journalist, intellectual, policeman, sportsman and trade unionist in the land, and all political groupings subscribe to it fanatically, including the radical, anti-establishment Left. The average Australian communist speaks of the ‘enriching’ qualities of ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ – liberal language. Today’s communists no longer determine the direction of the progressives: they are determined by it. Take this piece drivel from the (reformed, post-1992) Australian Communist Party:
In more recent times, the campaign to implement multiculturalism is important because Australia has become a multi-ethnic and multilingual society. Multiculturalism enriches the new Australian culture which is emerging from the multi-ethnic and multi-national character of Australia’s population… Multiculturalism enriches the whole of Australia’s cultural life. [Program - Communist Party of Australia (2005)].
How difference is this from an Australian Liberal Party or Labor Party manifesto? The answer is: not much. This ‘radicalism’ isn’t so radical after all.
All this (contemporary communism’s sell-out to liberalism) aside, I have a sneaking admiration for the ‘old’ Trotskyite Far Left. I like their zany ultra-left extremism and militancy, its constant calls for uprisings, riot, revolution and armed struggle, their apocalypticism – in this regard, the Trotskyites remind me of the urban guerrillas in William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries (1978) and the early eighties American terrorist group The Order (inspired, in part, by Pierce’s novel). Real examples of this kind of extremism are the British group, the Militant Tendency, and the cultish Worker’s Revolutionary Party, led by the roguish demagogue Gerry Healy. If only these communist groups had succeeded in taking Britain over! A communist takeover of Britain, in 2012, would be the best thing to happen to the country. The country’s economy would collapse, and, most likely, the British would suffer from famine (and the country’s Far Right nationalists, along with the conservatives and even the British Royal Family, would be executed), but: the millions of Indian, Pakistani, African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants (along with the Poles, Roma, Bosnians and the rest) would turn on their heels and leave. Britain, as white country, would live another day.
2. Trotskyism for beginners: entryism
It is very hard, for a non-communist, to understand precisely what Trotskyism is: the word implies that it is different, distinct, from other communist ‘isms’ – Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc. But, when we read the history of Soviet communism in the first half of the twentieth century, we see – as in Service’s book – Lenin, and even Stalin, were ‘Trotskyites’ at one point or another in their career. That is to say, the tactics and the political ‘line’ they advocated coincided with Trotsky’s, more or less. In order to distinguish Trotskyism from Leninism and Stalinism, often the focus turns on Trotsky’s personality – that of a disputatious and quarrelsome man who loved making trouble for the Russian Communist Party and loved getting his own way. But this is what the Marxists like to call ‘subjectivism’, that is, the politics of the individual personality – political choices stemming from the desires, preferences, peculiarities of an individual.
To go outside individual personalities, we must look at theories: and, on the surface of it, the Trotskyite theory is pretty threadbare. ‘Permanent revolution’, ‘proletarian internationalism’, opposition to ‘socialism in one country’, ‘direct action’ by the working classes (unmediated by a political party), a supposed failure to recognise the ‘role of peasantry’ in the Russian revolution of 1917 – can these ‘Trotskyite’ theories, really part of a series of comments on historical events, form the basis of an ideology? Trotsky supposedly advocated ‘skipping’ stages of revolution: that is, he believed that pre-revolutionary, pre-1917 Russia didn’t need to experience a period of liberal democracy and liberal reform on its path towards communism: it could ‘skip’ this phase and go straight to communism. (That is, there is no need for a ‘two-stage’ revolution, only a ‘one-stage’). All of this so-called Trotskyite ‘theory’ is bound to a certain time and place – Russia in the first two decades of the twentieth century. What’s more, Lenin, as can be shown by Service’s book, Lenin held to some of these ‘Trotskyite’ tactics and theses at certain points. Constantly changing his mind, Lenin adapted, like any good politician, his tactics in response to a fluid, constantly shifting situation. How, then, can we discern the ‘Trotskyism’?
Never mind, though: the further we pull back our lens, the more we can see the big picture – and then we can get a good idea of what Trotskyism is. I had the good fortune to come across a manual from the Soviet Union, Contemporary Trotskyism: Its Anti-Revolutionary Nature (1972) by a M. Basmanov (published by USSR’s official publishing house, Progress Publishers). It’s a relatively current book, given that it was written after the advent of the New Left and the upsurge of the hippie and the anti-Vietnam War movement – evidently, the author had one eye on luring all those hippies, students and draft-dodgers away from Trotskyism and into the arms of Soviet communism.
The sight of radical Leftists tearing each other apart is always an amusing spectacle to behold for the anti-communist, and this book is no exception. By 1972, communism was a three-way contest, between the Soviet Union, China and the communists without a state – the Trotskyites. Each hurled abuse at the other – the most frequent epithets (and the most insulting in the Marxist lexicon) being ‘revisionist’, ‘opportunist’, ‘Menshevist’, ‘bourgeois’ (and the Chinese frequently relied upon the dreaded Stalinist pejorative term – ‘social fascist’ – in its descriptions of the Soviet Union, implying that Brezhnev was a kind of Russian Nazi). Competition for the title of being the one true Marxism was fierce. Despite Trotskyism’s relatively non-existent political influence, inside and outside the Soviet Union, the Russians quite clearly resented the fact that here was a group which claimed to be ‘truly’ Marxist and Leninist, used the hammer and sickle symbols, and upheld the ideals of Leninism, the Bolshevik revolution, etc. In short: Trotskyism pained them.
All three of the combatant deployed the ‘sacred scriptures’ of communism – that is, the writings of Lenin – in their polemics against one another. Indeed, it is remarkable that each of the three could find justification for their radically-diverging views in the one author. In this, I am reminded of a TV documentary on the American Christian cult, the Children of God. One interviewee, a former member, quipped that, ‘After thirty years of reading the Bible, I’ve come to one conclusion: it can mean whatever you want it to mean’.
Basmanov’s book is the product of a long, assiduous study of Trotskyism: and Trotsky, and Trotskyism, had been around in one form or another for nearly seventy years. The author knows his Trotsky, and reading the book, a general pattern begins to emerge. We get the wide-angle lens picture of Trotsky and begin to understand what it is all about.
One of the most famous tactics associated with the Trotskyites is entryism. To quote Basmanov:
Having been driven out of the organised working-class movement, the Trotskyites looked for new ways and means  for subversive, anti-revolutionary activity. They had always cynically relied on double-dealing, jesuitically elevating it  to the level of a political creed. To start with they armed themselves with the policy of so-called “entrism”, which they have perfected and refined over a period of many years.
What Is “Entrism”?
It is no use looking for this word in any dictionary. It is a term coined by the Trotskyites themselves without much concern for language, and was originally derived from the French verb entrer — to “go in”. “Entrism” means entering into other parties and mass organisations. Since this road is closed to the agents of the “Fourth International” when they openly acknowledge their devotion to Trotskyism, it means a secret, disguised penetration into these organisa- tions.
“Entrism” has to be infiltration into parties and mass organisations, with an outward show of loyalty and agreement with their aims and tasks. The purpose of “entrism” is to undermine from within, bringing disorganisation into the work, seeking out people who can be lured away to Trotskyite positions.  The range of objectives for infiltration established by the “Fourth International” is fairly wide — from bourgeois parties to trade unions and cultural organisations. At the “congress” in 1963 the Trotskyites reached a general con- clusion on how the policy of “entrism” is to be carried out: “… they penetrate into big mass organisations, which have a national, cultural or political character. They propagate the ideas and programme of Trotskyism as far as is possible among the members of these organisations, and attempt to bring them over to their position.’”
Another Trotskyite centre, the Posadas grouping, too, adopted a wide range of objectives for “entrism”, including even Left-wing Catholic organisations…. [Basonov, 'Devices and Methods of Trotskyite Disruptive Activity in the Revolutionary Movement'.]
The policy is one of exploiting the cracks, ideologically, in an existing organisation:
Trotskyites are prepared to get in under any sort of ban-ner into any sort of organisation, if only they can recruit new supporters. They are determined, with the help of “entrism”, to make use of any divergences of opinion that inevitably arise between members of the parties and organi-sations.
Unity of action, the French Trotskyites declare, is not always unity of opinion. Differences of opinion always arise among the leadership and at all levels of organisation. The British Trotskyites also want to play on differences of opinion and ideas: “In so far as the working class is far from being monolithic, and the paths to socialism are not determined in advance, there can and should be a wide range of difference in the assessment of strategy and tactics.”
Hence the task not only of “worming one’s way into the cracks of differences in opinion”, but also of speaking in support of views that may play into the hands of the Trotskyites in their subversive activity. “Ideas, like money, don’t grow on trees”, is an aphorism that has come to govern the policy of the Trotskyites in their search for ideas that might in some way be close to their own.
The end result is to steal a few good members from the infiltrated organisation and use them to make up the cadre of a new one:
The mechanism of “entrist” activity was worked out at a meeting of the “Secretariat of the Fourth International” in December 1960. “Part of the activists remains in the mass organisations, the rest falls out of the game, and forms an independent off-shot of the organisation.” The first group are given the task of “attracting even a few members at any price”.
In capitalist countries one of the main targets of “entrism” were the Social-Democratic parties.
Even in the thirties the Trotskyites in France chose as the object of their intrigues the socialist party SFIO, as well as the organisation “Socialist Youth”. By 1947 they had infiltrated the leadership of the youth organisation, and its paper Red Banner. Having wrecked this organisation, they created a new one — The Revolutionary Youth Movement, which was not officially a Trotskyite organisation. [Ibid.]
Part of the Trotskyite approach is a ‘deep cover’ approach, as detailed in these intriguing paragraphs:
In these countries the Trotskyites have given a great deal of attention in post-war years to evolving methods of covering up their anti-communist ideas as having nothing in common with Trotskyism.  They have attempted, in particular, to publish journals and even to set up organisations, which, not only do not emphasise their Trotskyite connections, but even demonstratively repudiate Trotsky and his views. In Britain in the late forties, a journal Socialist Outlook was published which had little to distinguish it from the Trotskyite journal Socialist Appeal that was also appearing at that time. The only
difference was that it maintained the Trotskyite line without any mention of Trotskyism. Also the pages of Socialist Outlook sometimes carried articles in which “indignation” was expressed at the journal being accused of Trotskyism. Only later did the Trotskyites admit that it was they who published the journal.
The publication of the British Trotskyite paper, Newsletter, was organised in the same sort of way, in 1957. At first it was presented as an “independent publication”, as an open “platform for Socialists of the most varied views”. In actual fact the paper soon became the platform of the Trotskyites who made slanderous accusations against the Communist parties and the socialist countries. For some time it avoided any reference to Trotskyism, and even repudiated its connection with Trotskyism, but later the mask was lowered. Then the Trotskyites thought of something else. They began to make out that the groups they had got together were “independent”. February 1959 saw the formation of the so called “Socialist Workers’ League” in Britain. This “league” was conceived as an organisation “not presenting itself as a working-class party, but standing on the road to the creation of such a party”. In its documents Trotskyite views were propagated without any mention of Trotsky or the “Fourth
International”. It was only in May 1960 that the leaders of the “league” made an announcement in which they admitted their adherence to Trotskyism. [Ibid.]
All of this is somewhat counter-productive for the Trotskyite cause, however, as it leads to the practice of entryism and splitting in the Trotskyite groups themselves: hence, the endless fission in Trotskyism, which continues today, in 2012:
It is interesting to note that, in trying to strengthen their positions, the smaller Trotskyite groups practise “entrism” even towards each other. The British Trotskyites from the”Socialist Workers’ League” admit that the followers of Pablo practise “entrism” in their ranks. And at the same time they do not hide the fact that they themselves do the same thing in a third British Trotskyite group associated with the journal International Socialism Obviously this is not done because their affairs are flourishing. [Ibid.]
3. Trotsky, the Bohemians and the radicals
I don’t intend to summarise Basmanov’s book here in its entirety. Suffice to say, any broad-minded nationalist intellectual should read it: I know that I myself have seen a few parallels between the experiences of the communists in this book and my own in nationalist politics. I have been a member of nationalist groups which have suffered from entryism and splittism, orchestrated directly or indirectly, by other groups representing different strands of nationalist ideology. Thankfully, though, the tendency towards splittism, fragmentation and entryism isn’t as prevalent, in nationalism, as it is in Trotskyism.
Basmanov blames much of Trotskyism on its ‘petit-bourgeois’ – that is, middle-class – quality. For this reason, Trotskyism attracts a disproportionate number of students, bohemians, artists, academics and intellectuals of all stripes. Trotsky himself, consciously or unconsciously, tapped into this segment of the political market by putting himself across as a man of the arts and letters, and even writing an admiring essay on Freud and psychoanalysis – taking a different line from contemporary Soviet stodge on the subject. We know, too, that Trotsky cultivated friendships with artists like Breton, and the Mexican couple Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (as portrayed in the 2002 movie, Frida). But this backfired – as when intellectual followers like the philosophers James Burnham and the Jewish-American Sydney Hook penned rebuttings of Marxist theory, much to Trotsky’s chagrin. It is pretty easy, for an intellectual with even a little academic training, to point out the holes in Marx’s theory, and intellectuals – like artists – are natural individuals. This is one of the central themes of Basmanov’s book: the average Trotskyite is a ‘petit-bourgeois’, a student, or intellectual, or bohemian, with tendencies towards individualism or anarchism, who doesn’t want to toe the Soviet party line. This is symptomatic of Trotsky’s own disrespect for party discipline – even when, by the mid-1920s, he had attained a position of extraordinary political power in the Soviet Union. Temperamentally, he couldn’t help pushing things, going beyond the limits of normal intra-party political debate and into outright opposition against the party. (Yet, paradoxically, Trotskyite political parties are authoritarian creatures, and Trotsky, as portrayed in Service’s book, remained – in contrast to his young followers – a staunch, conservative Soviet apologist to the end).
Basmanov makes a very subtle analysis of how defeatist all of this. The mid-sixties Trotskyites predicted a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and America, but declared that this would be a good thing: a new communist order would emerge from the ashes of the nuclear apocalypse and build a new world – just like the radical white separatists in The Turner Diaries. At the same time, they put forward the thesis that any turn towards ‘socialism’ (i.e., communism) in Europe would lead to, inevitably, nuclear war. Such a thesis poisons morale: faced with such a horrible either-or, most people would not opt for a communist revolution.
One can’t help feel sympathy for Basmanov’s sobriety, caution and judiciousness – the Soviet Union’s ‘steady as she goes’ approach to revolution. Trotskyism, when not attempting entryism of ‘bourgeois’ (that is, non-communist) groups, chastised them for not being ‘left’, ‘revolutionary’, enough. If a Trotskyite group couldn’t decapitate the leadership of a trade union, and replace it with solid Trotskyites; if a Trotskyite group couldn’t succeed in manipulating that union to engage in industrial militancy, from strikes to damage of property to taking up arms against employers, kidnapping them, barricading the factory, etc. – then that Trotskyite group would reject that union outright. Basmanov’s portrait of the Trotskyites is something of a caricature, but all caricatures contain some truth… In essence, the Trotskyites take what Lenin calls an ‘ultra-left’ line: demanding revolution now, demanding militancy now, demanding (even) civil war now, even if the peculiar economic, political and social circumstances of the time (what the Marxists call the ‘objective conditions’) didn’t warrant it. The alternative is a slow, judicious approach (recommended by the Soviet communists) of building links with non-communist groups, emphasising what they have in common with communism, and not deriding them for not being ‘revolutionary’ enough. The Leninist way of putting this is: the trade unions are a conduit, from the Leninist communist party to the working-class – the unions are not substitutes for the communist party itself, or the working-class itself.
‘Building socialism’ is hard work, drudgery: on that, Basmanov is right. To get even to the stage of revolution: that is a task that requires hard workers, a measure of compromise, and discipline. It is not a job for people with excitable temperaments, like Trotsky, or counter-cultural bohemians who want ‘revolution now, man’, who wants to ‘smash the system’. Likewise, despite being convinced of the rightness of his views, sometimes the activists has to buck to the consensus – inside and outside the party – compromise and eat crow; he mustn’t become guilty of imposing formulations, judged true a priori, on each and every situation, as Trotsky was alleged to have done.
The superiority of Soviet communist methods in politics to the Trotskyite was evident: too bad the Soviet Union collapsed, twenty years later.
4. Instant revolution and the Far Right
Basmanov wrote another book on Trotskyism, Where are Trotskyites Leading the Youth? (Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, 1973). On the subject of Trotskyism’s incorrigible radicalism, Basmanov writes:
Anyone encountering oral and written statements by Trotskyite “ideologists” is in for a blast of impassioned catchwords, ardent calls and trenchant slogans. One is struck by the pathos in Trotskyite “programme statements,” the lack of any ideas, the frenzied appeal in place of arguments that verge on hysteria and are accompanied by crude abuse of those who disagree. [Basmanov, 'Revolutionary Gymnastics'].
Doesn’t this sound like Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance? He continues:
By encouraging reckless putschist tendencies which now and then are evident among the young and by lauding isolated action that lacks mass support, the Trotskyites show they are not at all interested in broad co-operation between the students and the working class and other working people…
Such provocative views and actions tend to become all the more dangerous since they are closely tied up with the ideas being spread by other Leftists operating among the youth. Such “revolutionary gymnastics” are also being advocated by all the other ultra-Leftists, who insist that “defeats help to radicalize youth, whereas victories produce illusions.”…
The anarchists, for instance, hold that in clashes they provoke there should be no fear of loss of human life, just as “a man who gets behind the steering wheel of his car is aware that its tire may go flat.” Such ideas are also being spread among the youth by Maoist groups, who insist that loss of life should not be feared since revolutionaries allegedly have the task, no matter how small they are in numbers, to “bring about a revolution.” The Maoists present the revolution itself as a succession of disorderly and absolutely spontaneous “riots”.
In these conditions, “revolutionary gymnastics” is a tactic that helps to produce a peculiar climate of political adventurism and pseudo– revolutionariness among Left-radical young people. The Trotskyite slogan about answering police violence in the language of revolutionary violence is practically no different, if at all, from the anarchist call to counter violence with violence. In both instances the most reckless action is being “theoretically” justified, and this includes arson, terroristic acts,, the burgling of shops, and the provoking of pointless and futile clashes with the police. [Ibid.]
Basmanov could be, of course, speaking of the antics of the Left today – in particular, the anti-globalist radical Left.
Not that the nationalist reader should feel complacent about this, and believe that such ‘adventurism’ is confined to the ranks of the Far Left. I will quote here from a recent Reuters news item, ‘Florida nabs white supremacists planning “race war”‘ (8/5/2012):
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – Ten alleged members of a white supremacist group training near Orlando and Disney World for a “race war” have been rounded up in a series of arrests in central Florida, authorities said on Tuesday.
The arrests were based on evidence from a confidential informant who infiltrated the neo-Nazi organization known as the American Front 17 months ago, according to an arrest affidavit…
It said he group’s alleged local ringleader, Marcus Faella, 39, had been “planning and preparing the AF for what he believes to be an inevitable race war” and had stated “his intent … to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities.”
Faella operated a heavily fortified paramilitary training center for the AF on his isolated property in St. Cloud, Florida, 11 miles from the Walt Disney World theme parks, according to the affidavit.
It said he recently had been plotting a disturbance at Orlando City Hall and a confrontation against a rival skinhead group in coastal Melbourne in a bid to garner media attention, but had also been experimenting with the potential manufacture of the biological toxin ricin.
“Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the protectors of the white race,” the affidavit said, adding that Faella also believed “the race war will take place within the next few years based on current world events.”
Faella’s compound, where he regularly conducted firearms, explosives and tactical training for AF members and other neo-Nazi groups, was protected by two pit bull dogs, a barbed-wire fence and three military-style trenches.
Faella fortified the walls of his residential trailer and added firing ports, according to the affidavit.
Doesn’t the ‘inevitable race war’ sound like ‘the inevitable demise of capitalism’?
On the subject of Trotskyism and military uprisings (of the American Front type), Basmanov accuses the Trotskyites of ‘waiting for D-Day’, the Trotskyite ‘D-Day’ being a lot like ‘The Day of the Rope’ in The Turner Diaries:
Despite their bellicose statements the Trotskyites have been very light-minded and irresponsible about the armed uprising slogan. For some this amounts to the previously mentioned criminal “revolutionary gymnastics” tactic. For others it is just a lot of talk and still others consider it a means of justifying ” revolutionary idleness” of passively sitting by, waiting for “D-day.”
British Trotskyites, for instance, love to talk about armed uprising, but in practice do nothing but befuddle the young people they have won over with promises of an early revolutionary D-day when everything will be settled in short order. They try to draw in 15 and 16– year olds and to convince them that the revolution is “just around the corner” and that the Trotskyites have a revolutionary programme for that eventuality.
Hopes for D-day were also expressed at the congress of the Socialist Labour League in June 1968, when the Trotskyites declared that they were preparing for decisive changes in the near future. Six months later, in January 1969, they urged a meeting of Trotskyite young people to “make 1969 a year of revolutionary decisions.” In early 1970, the Trotskyites once again urged preparation for the “forthcoming major battles.” Similar calls were sounded in 1972. [Ibid, 'Capitulation behind a barrage of "leftist" catchwords'].
Basmanov offers this sage advice, which American Front and other would-be revolutionaries would have found very useful:
The Trotskyites show just how one can mark time for years under the slogan of armed uprising which is gradually becoming quite meaningless. This is not surprising since the Trotskyites know little about the scientific, Marxist view of armed uprising.
Lenin used to say that armed uprising, like war, is an art, which has its own rules.
First, the uprising must be based on the leading class and not on a conspiracy or even a party. Second, the uprising must be based on a revolutionary upsurge among the people. Third, the uprising must be timed to a moment when the leading ranks of the people are most active 80 and vacillation among the enemies and among the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution is the greatest.
Armed uprising is not a putsch. It is bound to be defeated unless objective and subjective conditions are ripe for revolution, unless there is a revolutionary situation and unless the masses are prepared for struggle. Such is the lesson to be learned from the events in Indonesia, for example, where the armed uprising proved to be premature.
Analyzing the causes and the effects of the reckless tactics, which led to the defeat of the Communist Party there, the Marxist-Leninist group of the Indonesian Party emphasized that it was premature to begin military operations before serious revolutionary work of a preparatory nature had been carried out, before the emergence of a clear-cut revolutionary crisis which would develop into a revolutionary situation, and before the establishment of an organized and highly influential Marxist-Leninist party at the core capable of guiding the armed struggle and ensuring massive support from the forces allied with the working class. [Ibid.]
5. The sociology of extremism
It’s an interesting question as to why extremists and radicals of both the Far Right and Left exhibit the same ‘adventurist’ behaviour. In The World Communist Movement: An outline of strategy and tactics (Progress Publishers, 1973) – V.V. Zagladin (another Kremlin apologist like Basmanov) writes:
Another form of distortion of Marxism-Leninism is “Left”– wing opportunism, which is an ultra-revolutionary theoretical and adventurist political line in the working-class and communist movement. Its theoretical base is frequently provided by doctrinairism, while sectarianism is its political and organisational offshoot. The class roots of petty bourgeois ultra-revolutionism are traceable to the position of the petty proprietor. “…The petty proprietor, the small master (a social type existing on a very extensive and even mass scale in many European countries), who, under capitalism, always suffers oppression and very frequently a most acute and rapid deterioration in his conditions of life, and even ruin, easily goes to revolutionary extremes, but is incapable of perseverance, organisation, discipline and steadfastness. A petty bourgeois driven to frenzy by the horrors of capitalism is a social phenomenon which, like anarchism, is characteristic of all capitalist countries. The instability of such revolutionism, its barrenness, and its tendency to turn rapidly into submission, apathy, phantasms, and even a frenzied infatuation with one bourgeois fad or another—all this is common knowledge.” [Zagladin, 'The Essence of "Left"-wing Opportunism'].
In other words, the radical type is prone to sectarianism – splitting from, and refusing to work with, anyone in the movement who isn’t as ‘radical’ as him. He comes from the class of the small businessman, the small proprietor, a type who is pretty hard done-by during an economic downturn, and this is the class (especially in America) which tends to send its children to college. And, when a member of this class turns to revolutionism, he tends to be pretty flakey and unstable.
Another mark of this type is an inability to respond, flexibly, to changes in the political situation:
Although “Left”-wing opportunism has been linked, at each historical stage, with concrete concepts and theoretical and tactical principles, it has always retained its adventurist content, being marked by subjectivism, a rejection of any analysis of objective processes, and going from one extreme to another. It tries to fit reality into the straitjacket of ready-made schemes and formulas. Marxist revolutionary dialectics is replaced by sophistry. A dogmatic approach to theory and to the content, methods and forms of the struggle, which is typical of the “Leftists”, inevitably leads to hidebound sectarianism in the practical questions of revolutionary movement.
The study of concrete situations is replaced in dogmatism and sectarianism by quotation and pedantry, this leading to the Party’s divorce from the masses. By separating theory from practice, the dogmatists try to make the new revolutionary phenomena conform to the Procrustean bed of old concepts. Dogmatism, which is alien to the creative spirit of the revolutionary and constantly developing Marxist– Leninist doctrine, stems from a refusal to study and sum up the new facts of reality, and draw the relevant conclusions.
Dogmatism makes an absolute of individual Marxist formulas, and ignores reality, which is more complex and rich in content than any formula can be. It mechanically applies principles evolved for definite conditions of time and place, to other and vastly different circumstances. The dogmatists are unwilling and unable to develop theory so as to bring it into accordance with actual social and economic processes, and pedantically repeat yesterday’s conclusion in a new political situation.
The dogmatist, Lenin wrote, likes to “pick out passages from books like a scholar whose head is a card index box filled with quotations from books, which he picks out as he needs them; but if a new situation arises which is not described in any book, he becomes confused and grabs the wrong quotation from the box”. [Ibid, 'Dogmatism and Sectarianism'].
We have all met, on the nationalist scene, people like the afore-mentioned. On the Trotskyite scene, they are plentiful enough. Take this passage from an online book on the notorious Gerry Healy, at: . (Nationalists should have a look at this, if only for their own entertainment, because the messianic cult leader Healy was a Trotskyite version of L. Ron Hubbard – a most amusing rascal – whose life should be made into a film). In chapter eight, we find:
ALTHOUGH THE election of the second Wilson government in 1966 saw a partial reversal by Healy of the ultra-left turn which had accompanied the launch of the independent Young Socialists, this proved only temporary. During 1968-69 Healy suffered a renewed outbreak of leftist delusions. He became convinced that the SLL was about to replace the Labour Party as the political leadership of the working class and that the struggle for power was on the immediate agenda. This was underpinned by the usual nonsense about the capitalist economy heading towards its final collapse.
Mike Banda would later compare Healy’s economic perspectives to the ‘breakdown’ theory of early German social democracy, citing the front page article by Healy headlined ‘Crisis, Panic, Crash’ with which the Newsletter responded to the threat of dollar devaluation in March 1968.1 ‘Every serious attempt to analyse world economy was frowned upon’, Banda wrote, ‘and the intellectuals were forced to toe the Healyite line: apocalypse now!’2 Not that some of them required much forcing. Geoff Pilling, for example, had apparently been happy to endorse Healy’s belief that the growth of automation was plunging world capitalism into ‘deepening crisis, if not total destruction’,3 and it was he who had pioneered the line (enthusiastically adopted by Healy) that the mounting instability of the international monetary system would sound the death knell of capitalism.
The only intellectual prepared to take a stand against Healy’s catastrophism was Tom Kemp. At the 1967 SLL conference Kemp submitted an alternative document on economic perspectives which, as Robin Blick recalls, ‘criticised cataclysmic projections and said that the economy was perfectly capable of sustaining various recoveries, and that the end was far from being in sight. He got up and defended the document, and the only person to vote for it was Tom Kemp – and he wouldn’t back down, he wouldn’t yield. And Pilling was the main torpedo fired at him, of course …. Healy lambasted him in a knockabout manner – “lacking faith in the revolutionary perspective” and all this – but Pilling actually tried to take it apart, nuts and bolts’.4 As a result of his defiance, according to Banda, Kemp was ‘virtually driven out of leadership and almost out of the party’.5
Gibberish Marxist theories about an impending economic collapse, and consequent mass riot, revolution and insurrection, had to be true, because prior Marxist literature that they would be true. This is dogmatism in action. (It is no mistake that the Trotskyite Healy held to an ‘apocalypticist’ view, which is common with that of The Turner Diaries).
6. Where do nationalists stand?
All the above, pertaining to Trotskyism and far-left ‘adventurism’, pertains to the extremist wing of the nationalist movement as well. The American Front would have done better to reject such adventurism and form a nationalist political party. While it is hard to form and build a party (of any type) in America which is an alternative to the two major parties, it is a lot easier than living the rest of one’s life out in jail.
The question is, what should the class composition of such a party be?
One of the consequences of fascism’s defeat in the war was the isolation of fascism, as a political and social movement, from the European working-class. Fascism, in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, boasted the allegiance of millions of Europeans – many from left-wing, working-class and trade union backgrounds. In contrast, ‘neofascism’ – the abortive revival of fascism in post-war Europe – was the domain of the theorists, the Yockeys, Evolas, Thiriarts, Devis. Brilliant as these thinkers were, they were not leaders of men. As a result, a huge gap grew between theory and practice. As a result, the European Far Right, in 2012, is split – between the Far Right populists and the more radical elements on the fringes. Some of the Far Right, Israel-friendly formations – such as the Swedish Social Democrats, Le Pen’s Front National, the English Defence League – boast a large working-class following. But, whatever their class composition, they can be described, charitably, as conservative; whereas the European fascists, including the German National Socialists and the Italian Fascists, owed much, in their world-view, to radical leftism, including Marxism.
At least one can say, so far as the populists are concerned, is that they are real political parties, and real people are voting for them. In contrast, many of the non-populist sections of contemporary Western nationalism are apolitical and are part of an aesthetic movement, a subculture: e.g., the National Socialist Black Metal types or the skinheads. Probably the decline of the German National Democrat Party – the NPD – can be attributed to the growing numbers of East German skinheads joining the party in the early 2000s. An emphasis on aestheticism and one’s subculture as a form of ‘resistance’ to the dominant multiculturalist ideology of the West has its weaknesses, and erodes a group politically in the long run.
Supposing that nationalists want to engage in politics in the real world, and be socialist, anti-globalist, anti-capitalist, etc.: what is required is an intense political and ideological renovation. If we analyse the most radical Far Right groupings of Europe in the first half of the 20th century, and cut through the tissues of lies and distortions, we cam see that, in many respects, they stood on the Far Left; whereas, if we look at the Far Right today, it stands on the Right – or not on any political spectrum at all. (Many on the American Far Right – the ‘white nationalists’, and so on – are conservative, and on the Right, in many respects. This is because America has, traditionally, been an individualist, classical liberal country with a strong antipathy towards socialism, communism and Marxism. One only has to look at the Republican Party as an example of what the American Right is all about. In contrast to the Republicans, the traditional European Center-Right on the Continent preaches a moderate socialism and statism: The German CDU-CSU, for instance, would, in America, be closer to the Democrats than the Republicans). The goal, then, for radical nationalists – here in Australia and elsewhere in the West – is to swing to the Left, to the hard Left.
How is this to be done, in practical terms? This means avoiding the mistakes of the Trotskyites: it means not condescending to the working-class, as the Trotskyites do, for not being ‘revolutionary’ enough; it means not seeking to infiltrate and disrupt the trade union movement (indeed, given the dominance of left-liberals in the Australian trade union movement, such a thing is scarcely possible). It means – at this stage – focusing on individual recruitment. If an individual who is nationalist and, at the same time, a prominent member of a trade union wishes to join us, good: but we shall concentrate on the help he can give us as an individual – not him as a means of ‘bending’ his union to our purposes and forming a Trotskyite faction within that union. Converting the working-classes to nationalism, and bringing about a genuine social revolution, means devising the correct ideological line and sticking with it, uncompromisingly, fanatically – until the men and women who are the individual members of the working-class (as well as the middle-class – the proletarians must join us as well as the bourgeoisie) see the goodness and sense of these ideas and join us of their own accord. At the moment, the vast majority of Australians are in thrall, emotionally, morally, intellectually, to the sort of drivel I quoted earlier (regarding the ‘enriching’ properties of multiculturalism) and accept globalised capitalism as a necessity. They believe in it only because the baby-boomer radical Left – former Trotskyites and Maoists – achieved total power after the Australian ‘cultural revolution’ of the 1960s; they don’t believe in it because of its actual merits. There are times, in politics, when a group must follow the masses; there are other times when a group must lead. In these times, a nationalist group must lead. Devising the right line is the task, at present, of a small but unified group of radical nationalist intellectuals, who come, like the Russian Communist Party and the German NSDAP, from the ‘petit-bourgeoisie’ – the middle-class.