Banda crowns his denunciation of Trotsky with the following statement:
This brings me to the severest indictment of Trotsky’s claim to be a dialectical materialist. It is expressed explicitly in the title of the third section of the chapter “Social Relations in the Soviet Union,” [from Revolution Betrayed], which reads “The Question of the Character of the Soviet Union Not Yet Decided by History.” This, in my opinion, constitutes a fundamental revision of dialectical materialism, in particular the law of transformation of quantity into quality and the development from the lower to the higher. Trotsky here implicitly rejects the conception that the October Revolution was not accidental but a lawfully determined moment, a historical leap, in an objective process which was irreversible. The revolution could be distorted and undermined, but it could not be destroyed. In other words there could be no prospect of restoring capitalism after the Civil War and the industrialisation and collectivisation. Revolutions themselves are the verdict of history upon outlived socio-economic formations and cannot be reversed by some arbitrary action of a state or the policies of a particular government. The October Revolution occurred only because the contradictions of world imperialism had reached such a pitch of intensity that the capitalist chain broke at its weakest link. As Lenin remarked, it was the chain, and not just the link, that broke. On this simple and incontrovertible fact rests our revolutionary optimism.
The above passage is an illustration of what Banda palms off as the “logical” method of analysis—as opposed to the supposedly inadequate “historical” method employed by Trotsky. According to Banda, the October Revolution was, in its logical essence, a transformation of quantity into quality, or, if you will, a movement from the “lower” to the “higher.” Therefore, inasmuch as his “logic” will not tolerate a movement from the “higher” to the “lower,” the overthrow of the October Revolution is impossible. The nationalized property relations cannot be destroyed and capitalism cannot be reintroduced.
This analysis proves only that Banda has no understanding whatsoever of either historical materialism or dialectical logic. His stupidities stem from the fact that he has failed to notice that the USSR does not exist as a logical category in the sphere of abstract thought, but within the real material context of a world economy and interconnected system of nation states, some of which are not only armed with nuclear weapons but also realize a higher productivity of labor. Imperialism, Banda’s “logic” notwithstanding, has not reconciled itself to the removal of a large portion of the globe from its sphere of direct exploitation.
For Trotsky as well as for Lenin, the survival of the first workers’ state ultimately depended upon the extension of the socialist revolution into the advanced capitalist states of Western Europe and the United States. That the proletariat could hold power indefinitely and create a socialist society without the overthrow of capitalism in the bastions of world imperialism was viewed by the Bolshevik Party, prior to 1924, as a Utopian conception.
Banda’s assertion that the planned economy cannot be overthrown within the USSR and capitalism restored because this would violate the law of development from “lower to higher,” as well as that of the transformation of “quantity into quality,” vividly exposes the idiocy which follows from an attempt to deduce historical development from empty logical forms.
We use the word “empty” not only to denote their lack of concrete historical content, but also because these terms of logic are employed by Banda without any scientific comprehension of their genuine theoretical significance as thought forms, i.e., moments of the abstraction process, which express man’s ever-deepening cognition of the complex properties of nature, and whose rich intellectual content is derived from and bound up with a long history of philosophical and conceptual thinking. The mastering of these logical categories, which may be likened to the scaffolding of theoretical cognition, invariably proceeds in conjunction with the most detailed and exhaustive study of natural and social phenomena. But for Banda, these logical terms are nothing but decorative phrases which serve only to conceal his ignorance. His method, we must again insist, is the type of ignorant parody of Hegelian dialectics which Engels held up to ridicule more than a century ago in his classic Anti-Dühring.
In one section of that work, Engels explained that Marx did not theoretically deduce the real historical movement from the expropriation of the immediate producers to the expropriation of the expropriators from the dialectical law of the negation of the negation.
On the contrary: only after he has proved from history that in fact the process has partially already occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he in addition characterizes it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite dialectical law. That is all. It is therefore once again a pure distortion of the facts by Herr Dühring when he declares that the negation of the negation has to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past, or that Marx wants anyone to be convinced of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital … on the basis of credence in the negation of the negation.
Stripped of any real historical content, very little is added to knowledge by referring to the movement from lower to higher. At any rate, one can think of many material processes where development has been from the higher to the lower—for example, the fate of the Workers Revolutionary Party and the political evolution of Michael Banda! Moreover, one can remain well within the intellectual boundaries of vulgar evolutionism on the basis of this “law.” When imposed upon history without any concrete analysis of a definite social process, it has nothing whatsoever to do with dialectics. The real contradictory nature of the October Revolution cannot be adequately grasped in this way.
Certainly, the October Revolution represented the birth of a higher principle of social and political development, but, given the heritage of Russian backwardness, its economic foundations represented a far lower level of development than that through which Western Europe and the United States had already passed. The great historical paradox of the Russian Revolution, anticipated and explained by Trotsky on the basis of his theory of permanent revolution, was that the proletarian dictatorship, the most historically-advanced state-form, was first established in one of the most backward countries. Thus, the very elementary categories of higher and lower do not exist in a relation of fixed antithesis, but, like all opposites, are inseparably connected. This interconnectedness of opposites and their mutual interaction and interpenetration was first established in logic by Hegel, but it required the intellectual revolution carried out by Marx before this dialectical principle could be demystified and utilized as a tool of scientific theoretical inquiry and historical materialist cognition.
Comparing the economic development of the USSR not only to that of czarist Russia prior to 1917, but to the entire capitalist world, Trotsky analyzed a historical contradiction that cannot be pigeonholed in fixed categories like lower and higher:
The dynamic coefficients of Soviet industry are unexampled. But they are still far from decisive. The Soviet Union is lifting itself from a terribly low level, while the capitalist countries are slipping down from a very high one. The correlation of forces at the present moment is determined not by the rate of growth, but by contrasting the entire power of the two camps as expressed in material accumulations, technique, culture and, above all, the productivity of human labor. When we approach the matter from this statistical point of view, the situation changes at once, and to the extreme disadvantage of the Soviet Union.
The question formulated by Lenin—Who shall prevail?—is a question of the correlation of forces between the Soviet Union and the world revolutionary proletariat on the one hand, and on the other international capital and the hostile forces within the Union. The economic successes of the Soviet Union make it possible for her to fortify herself, advance, arm herself, and, when necessary, retreat and wait—in a word, hold out. … Military intervention is a danger. The intervention of cheap goods in the baggage trains of a capitalist army would be an incomparably greater one. The victory of the proletariat in one of the Western countries would, of course, immediately and radically alter the correlation of forces. But so long as the Soviet Union remains isolated, and, worse than that, so long as the European proletariat suffers reverses and continues to fall back, the strength of the Soviet structure is measured in the last analysis by the productivity of labor. And that, under a market economy, expresses itself in production costs and prices. The difference between domestic prices and prices in the world market is one of the chief means of measuring this correlation of forces. The Soviet statisticians, however, are forbidden even to approach that question. The reason is that, notwithstanding its condition of stagnation and rot, capitalism is still far ahead in the matter of technique, organization and labour skill.
Banda’s use of the categories quantity and quality are equally bereft of dialectical insight. He tells us that the law of transformation of the former into the latter has guaranteed the perpetual existence of the nationalized property relations of the USSR. But this claim is contradicted by the very way it is formulated by Banda, who states, “The revolution could be distorted and undermined, but it could not be destroyed.”
The law of the transformation of quantity into quality alerts us to the fact that there must exist a definite historically-determined limit beyond which the persistent distortion and undermining of the revolution by the bureaucracy may be transformed into the destruction of the Soviet Union as a workers’ state. History demonstrates that at several points in the past, the policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy have brought the USSR to that limit: first, in 1928, when the opportunist adaptation of the Stalinists to the kulaks produced the immediate danger of internal counterrevolution; and, second, in 1941, when the repeated betrayals of the world revolution opened the doors to the Nazi invasion, which came close to militarily defeating the USSR.
Banda, however, dismisses the tragic consequences of the victory of fascism in Germany and the defeats of the European proletariat—all produced by the policies of the Soviet bureaucracy—by proclaiming, “Stalingrad was history’s shattering reply to Trotsky’s skeptical prognosis about Stalin’s regime.” What a perverse distortion of reality. At the cost of twenty million lives, the Soviet working class was able to overcome the catastrophic consequences of Stalin’s treachery and incompetence. Only a miserable lackey would assign to the bureaucracy credit for the heroism of the working class and the power of the nationalized property relations. Moreover, only a conscious traitor or idiot would dare suggest that the defeat of Hitler’s armies after they had conquered 500,000 square miles of Soviet territory and taken control of 90 percent of Stalingrad proves that the USSR cannot be destroyed in the future by the military actions of world imperialism.
Trotskyists do not need to be lectured by Banda on the historical significance of social revolutions in general and the October Revolution in particular. It is slightly ridiculous for Banda to claim that Trotsky did not recognize the lawful character of the socialist revolution in Russia, given the fact that he was the first Marxist to foresee, more than a decade before 1917, that the tasks of the democratic revolution in that country could be carried through only by the proletariat and that therefore the Russian Revolution could only triumph as a socialist revolution.
But Banda attempts to convert the concept of historical inevitability into a sort of lifetime money-back guarantee by proclaiming that revolutions, as the objective product of the historical process, “cannot be reversed by some arbitrary action of a state or the policies of a particular government.” This, Banda tells us, is the foundation of his “revolutionary optimism.”
One has only to imagine the practical conclusions that would flow from an acceptance of Banda’s historical perspective, which is permeated with the typically petty-bourgeois mixture of fatalism and complacency. Resting on history’s irrevocable “verdict,” workers influenced by Banda would have no reason to concern themselves at all with politics, either that of the imperialists or that of the leaders of the international labor movement.
In a revealing passage, Banda defends his fatalism by comparing the Russian to the French Revolution and then asserting that Trotsky’s claim that “the political expropriation of the working class by the Stalin bureaucracy represented the first step to capitalist restoration has about as much truth and objectivity as the prejudice that the coming to power of Napoleon and the dissolution of the Jacobin Communes represented the first step to the restoration of Feudalism in France!”
Banda’s analogy is worthless because he ignores the fundamental difference between the bourgeois and socialist revolutions. The property relations of capitalism are generated spontaneously; those of socialism must be introduced and built up consciously.
In the French and all other classic bourgeois revolutions, the political overthrow of the old feudal aristocracy was preceded by the spontaneous development of capitalist property relations. Capitalist relations in France had implanted themselves spontaneously as a direct consequence of the growth of the productive forces and world trade, and had generally reached a fairly advanced level of development before 1789. The bourgeoisie played the decisive and leading role in the economic life of France prior to the revolution. The French aristocracy and the political forms through which it ruled had become an impediment to the further development of the country along capitalist lines.
Despite the fact that the leading sections of the bourgeoisie generally played a conservative role through much of the revolution, the dictatorship of the Jacobins, the political representatives of the radical petty bourgeoisie, could do no more than complete the fundamental tasks of the democratic revolution and give way to the rule of the bourgeoisie.
Once the French Revolution had destroyed feudal relations in the countryside and transferred land to the peasantry, the economic foundation of the ancien regime was irrevocably destroyed. No Marxist has ever claimed that Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power represented the first stage of a return to feudalism. Quite the opposite: Marxists have always defined Bonaparte as a bourgeois dictator who consolidated the essential conquests of the French Revolution. The popular social base of his rule was the very peasantry to whom the revolution had given land. The very use of Bonapartism as a political term is bound up with the recognition of the specific role the first Napoleon played in stabilizing bourgeois rule.
The fundamental difference in the historical development of the proletariat and bourgeoisie has been explained by generations of Marxists. The proletariat remains an exploited class until it, through the conscious historical act of socialist revolution, overthrows the bourgeoisie, establishes its political dictatorship, and creates entirely new forms of property relations. Neither nationalized industry nor central planning are generated spontaneously. Both require the highest level of political consciousness among masses of workers who must be directly involved in the organization and direction of the new society.
Moreover, the existence of nationalized industry and planning does not put an end to the ongoing and spontaneous generation of capitalist relations and commodity production, especially in a backward country with a large peasantry. The triumph of socialism is not assured until the victory of the proletariat in at least a few of the main imperialist countries has established, on a world scale, the definite superiority of the planned economy over capitalist chaos. Conversely, as long as economic planning remains confined to historically backward countries which still lag far behind the capitalist economies in terms of labor productivity and technique, it is impossible to deny the danger of capitalist restoration.
The qualitative difference between the bourgeois and socialist revolutions emerges with particular clarity when they are approached from the standpoint of the role of leadership. Marxist historians recognize the outstanding role played by such bourgeois revolutionists as Cromwell and Robespierre. But it would be impossible to seriously claim that the fundamental course of either the English or French bourgeois revolutions would have been radically changed if Cromwell had emigrated, as he had originally planned, to North America, or if Robespierre had remained a provincial lawyer in Arras.
As Plekhanov explained, the rising bourgeois class would have found other candidates, perhaps less brilliant, to represent its interests and carry through the task of delivering the death blow to the feudal order. Conversely, even had Robespierre been a more brilliant and farsighted man, given the conditions that existed in July 1794, he could not have prevented the ultimate downfall of his particular faction inside the Jacobin party and the triumph of the Thermidorians. His fall was, so to speak, predetermined by the contradiction between his petty-bourgeois constituency, his lack of an independent class perspective, and the bourgeois character of the revolution.
However, it is beyond debate that the Bolsheviks would not have conquered power in October 1917 if Lenin had not succeeded in returning to Russia the previous April and carrying through, in the face of strong opposition from Stalin and others, a change in the party program: from the perspective of the democratic dictatorship to that of permanent revolution. However “doomed” by history, the overthrow of capitalism in Russia ultimately depended on the presence of Lenin, who provided the crucial subjective link in the objective chain of events.
The historical role played by the Bolshevik Party in general, and by Lenin in particular, is the most crushing refutation of Banda’s passive fatalism. In the preparation, victory and consolidation of the socialist revolution, the conscious factor plays a greater role than in any other epoch and event in history.
That is precisely why Trotsky insisted in the opening paragraph of the Transitional Program that the historical crisis of mankind is, in the final analysis, the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the working class. The fact that capitalism has become, in an absolute historic sense, reactionary and that the objective prerequisites for socialism are fully present, places before mankind only two possibilities: either the working class will, through the development of the necessary leadership, overthrow imperialism and establish socialism on a world scale, or mankind will suffer a relapse into barbarism.
Contrary to the antidialectical sophistries of Banda, history is not a one-way superhighway to paradise. Unless the working class is able to solve the tasks posed by history, mankind faces the danger of a retrogression far more catastrophic than that which followed the collapse of the Roman empire. For the new dark ages would be ushered in by a nuclear holocaust, which would leave upon this planet nothing with which to reconstruct civilization, let alone permit it to attain new heights.
Banda’s nationalist perspective accepts the Stalinist position that the fate of the USSR does not depend upon the world revolution: “We must therefore say categorically and emphatically that history has decided the character of the USSR and that the USSR is a society in transition to socialism.”
The Soviet Union, according to this view, will go forward from “advanced socialism” to communism regardless of the outcome of the class struggle in the United States, Europe and Japan. The fact that the USSR lags in many crucial areas far behind the capitalist countries is of no importance.
Because he evaluates the bureaucracy from an entirely nationalist perspective, Banda minimizes the international implications of Stalin’s policies, attributing the victory of Hitler in Germany merely to “stupidities” and defining the conscious treachery of the Kremlin bureaucracy in France and Spain as “blunders.” Banda waxes indignant over Trotsky’s definition of the Stalinists as agents of world imperialism. “Why should the bureaucracy become ‘the organ of the world bourgeoisie?’ ” he writes. “Where was the evidence?”
The evidence consists precisely in those very world-historic betrayals that Banda shrugs off as “stupidities” and “blunders.” The refusal of the Communist International to in any way criticize, let alone condemn, the policies which had led to the greatest catastrophe in the history of the international workers’ movement, the victory of Hitler, signified that the Stalinist parties were beyond political reform. The evolution of the Comintern after the defeat of the German working class confirmed Trotsky’s assessment. The program of socialism in one country had become transformed into the conscious subordination of the interests of the international working class to the Soviet bureaucracy’s defense of its own privileges. Popular frontism—the policy of open class collaboration by the national Communist Parties—was the expression of the transformation of the Stalinist bureaucracy into a defender of the capitalist order on a world scale.
To speak of Stalin’s policies in Spain as a “blunder” is certainly not a blunder on Banda’s part. He knows very well by what methods Stalin’s agents worked to ensure the destruction of the Spanish proletariat’s struggle against Franco. Thousands of GPU agents were dispatched to Spain to liquidate revolutionary opponents of Stalin’s alliance with the reactionary bourgeois democrats and right-wing socialists. He knows that Stalin’s defense of the Spanish bourgeois state and private property was motivated by the Soviet bureaucracy’s desire to conclude an alliance with British and French imperialism. He also knows that one reason underlying the mass murder of Old Bolsheviks between 1936 and 1939 was Stalin’s desire to convince the democratic imperialists that the Soviet bureaucracy had broken irrevocably with the policy of international socialist revolution.
During the past half century, there have been more than enough illustrations of the fact that the Soviet bureaucracy functions on a world scale as an agency of imperialism, defending the international status quo under the code words of “peaceful coexistence” and “detente.” The comprehensive presentation of the evidence of its role as an agency of world imperialism would require a multivolume encyclopedic history of the Kremlin’s foreign policy since the end of World War II, with separate supplemental volumes being devoted to the policies of each national Communist Party.
Banda climaxes his wretched capitulation to Stalinism with an extraordinary declaration of confidence in the political integrity of the Soviet bureaucracy:
If restoration didn’t exist it would be absolutely necessary for Trotsky to invent it! The whole of Soviet history—during and after Stalin—testifies against this infantile leftist speculation and points in the opposite direction. Despite enormous difficulties, setbacks, contradictions, crimes and excesses the Soviet working class and the new post-revolutionary aristocracy of labour which governed the country and administered the planned economy fought unsparingly to prevent any restoration of capitalism and to develop and expand the nationalised property. Anyone who has read the reports of the 27th Congress and the Central Committee statements of the CPSU on the problems of Soviet industry and agriculture will readily reject with derision the lurid fantasy of Trotsky. There was and is no prospect of the Soviet aristocracy of labour transforming itself into a capitalist class; nor is there the slightest possibility of new laws of property inheritance coming into force. In fact what we are seeing is a gradual liberalisation of bureaucratic rule and a decentralisation of economic administration in line with the vast and unprecedented changes in Soviet industry, science and technology—and the working class. (Emphasis added.)
Banda never specifies the nature of the “crimes and excesses” to which he makes a fleeting reference. Even more serious, he never offers anything by way of a precise social analysis of the origins and evolution of the “new post-revolutionary aristocracy of labor.” He does not even attempt to identify the material bases of this “aristocracy” and the source and nature of its privileges. Did not “crimes and excesses” have something to do with the accumulation of its ill-gotten gains? Banda is also silent on the question of the exact relations between the working class and the labor aristocracy.
As usual, his haphazard use of terminology gets Banda into all sorts of trouble. He tells us that this “aristocracy of labor” has “fought unsparingly to prevent any restoration of capitalism.” But it is an ABC of Marxism that all labor aristocracies fight unsparingly only in defense of their own privileges. As Trotsky explained many times, the Soviet bureaucracy “defends” the planned economy in the same way that the labor aristocracy in the imperialist centers defends the trade unions: only insofar as its material privileges are bound up with its continued existence.
Given the fact that Banda believes in the unsparing devotion of the Soviet aristocracy to communism, it should come as no surprise that he is firmly convinced that these upstanding bureaucrats would never contemplate anything so selfish as the legalization of property inheritance.
To answer Banda, let us cite a recent speech given in the Soviet Union by a real expert on the morals and outlook of the Stalinist bureaucracy—General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev! Speaking at the long-delayed January 1987 meeting of the CPSU Central Committee, he offered this description of the workings of the higher levels of the bureaucracy:
Serious discrepancies kept piling up in planning. The authority of the plan was being subverted by subjective approaches, imbalances, instability. … We cannot overlook the just indignation of working people at the conduct of these senior officials, in whom trust and authority has been vested … who themselves abused their authority, suppressed criticism, sought gain and some of whom even became accomplices in, if not organizers of, criminal activities. …
The stratum of people, some of them young people, whose ultimate goal in life was material well-being and gain by any means, grew wider. Their cynical stand was acquiring more and more aggressive forms, poisoning the mentality of those around them and triggering a wave of consumerism. The spread of alcohol and drug abuse and a rise in crime became indicators of the decline in social mores.
Disregard for laws, report-padding and encouragement of toadyism and adulation had a deleterious influence on the moral atmosphere in society. …
Real concern for people, for the conditions of their life and work and for social well-being were often replaced with political flirtation—the mass distribution of awards, titles and prizes. (Emphasis added.)
Gorbachev’s speech is a devastating portrait of the social scum that constitutes the upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The only possible conclusion that can be drawn from this description—which, one can be sure, barely scratches the surface of what is actually going on—is that the ruling strata consists in large part of elements that are in their social outlook imbued with capitalist values and organically hostile to those political and economic institutions rooted in the October Revolution which place restrictions on their ability to accumulate and preserve private wealth. To believe that these elements retain the slightest subjective devotion to the planned economy is to indulge in the most pathetically naive illusions. If it were possible to make a scientific measurement, one would find no less devotion to personal luxury and wealth among the top layers of the Soviet bureaucracy than among those capitalists listed in the Fortune 500.
It is significant that Gorbachev refers specifically to the “young people,” the sons and daughters of the bureaucracy, who clearly view the privileges accorded to their parents as their own birthright. That they should not be permitted to inherit all that their parents possess is a fundamental source of their hatred of whatever remains of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
From his perch at the top of the bureaucratic order, Gorbachev looks down and sees a Boschian spectacle of hedonistic corruption, and is aware of the disgust and hatred that these depraved scenes evoke in the proletariat: “We cannot overlook the just indignation of the working people at the conduct of those senior officials,” he warns. It is only the bureaucracy’s fear of the working class that holds it back from legalizing inheritance and breaching the property forms established in 1917.
This fear remains a potent political force, but not a decisive one. The subjective greed of the bureaucracy is not the sole social basis of restorationism. We have previously referred to the relationship between the chronic backwardness of the agricultural sector and the spontaneous process of social differentiation among the peasantry, even within the collective farms. There are other forms through which the development of capitalist tendencies manifest themselves in the USSR.
Statistics recently published in the USSR indicated that as many as seventeen million people are directly engaged in some form of private enterprise through the massive, semi-official black market. The economic force represented by this black market has been indicated by the recent decision of the Gorbachev regime to endow it with a legal status. At the same time, the Kremlin asserted that it would not permit the hiring of wage labor by the newly legitimized entrepreneurs.
But the very fact that the issue is raised is a strong indication that the purchase of labor power by private entrepreneurs is no longer an unknown social phenomenon in the USSR. The generally low income levels guarantee that there are people who are willing to accept wages “under the table” from such employers. Moreover, the recent right given to factory managers to fire workers in the name of efficiency and labor discipline means that there will be unemployed workers who will be compelled to sell their labor power through the medium of the black market.
These decisions are part of sweeping changes in economic policy that threaten to greatly accelerate the growth of capitalist tendencies inside the USSR. A new draft law that was approved by the Central Committee in January 1987 will make work collectives, according to a Tass report, “full-fledged masters of their enterprises and will independently decide practically all matters related to the production and social development of a mill or factory.”
The managers of these independent collectives are to be given the right to develop direct ties with firms from capitalist countries, without operating under the traditional constraints imposed by the existence of the state monopoly on foreign trade. The Central Committee has also decided that private citizens should be given the right to start and manage a factory or enterprise.
It is obvious that this form of decentralization, implemented within the traditional context of “generalized want” and inequality, will provide the bureaucracy with new and unprecedented opportunities to enrich itself. The very emphasis placed on rewarding local “initiative” and on distinguishing between productive and unproductive enterprises will tend to sanction the accumulation of private wealth in forms that will make the traditional corruption that flourished under Brezhnev appear primitive.
Above all, by legitimizing direct trade connections between individual factories within the USSR and the capitalist enterprises, the doors are being swung open for unprecedented capitalist penetration of the Soviet economy. What will take place under the banner of “decentralization” will be an ever more open alliance between European, North American and Japanese capital with a growing layer of manager-entrepreneurs inside both industry and agriculture.
These measures expose the deeply reactionary content that underlies the cosmetic reforms instituted by the Gorbachev regime. While seeking to preempt the independent movement of the Soviet working class against the bureaucracy, Gorbachev is, in fact, systematically undermining the basic gains of the October Revolution.
Banda chooses to ignore all these tendencies, knowing full well that they shatter every premise upon which he bases his repudiation of Trotskyism. He even concedes that “if there was truth in Trotsky’s prognosis then he would have been absolutely justified in calling for the political revolution led by a new party—the Fourth International—to prevent capitalist restoration.”
Once again Banda does not offer a refutation. He merely asserts: “But this is certainly not the trend in the USSR, China, Yugoslavia or Indo-China. And this is precisely why the long-awaited political revolution in the USSR has not materialised and will never do so.”
These are the words that will certainly be inscribed on Banda’s tombstone. It sums up the political demoralization that underlies his repudiation of revolutionary politics. He has become convinced of the immortality of Stalinism, or, to put it somewhat differently, he has completely written off the working class as a revolutionary force.
There is no need to reply at length to Banda’s stupid testimonials in behalf of the Chinese and Yugoslav Stalinists. For the last decade, the Chinese bureaucracy has exploited the popular reaction against the catastrophic consequences of the Cultural Revolution to justify the most sweeping concessions to capitalist elements inside the country and to imperialism internationally. (Let us just note in passing that these right-wing policies were set into motion by Mao himself in 1971.)
The Chinese bureaucracy’s signing of an agreement promising to guarantee the preservation of capitalist property and investment in Hong Kong proves that the bureaucracy by no means considers that its own survival is unconditionally bound up with the existence of nationalized industry and state planning. It is prepared to oversee, on behalf of world imperialism, the extraction of surplus value from the working class.
It is impossible to dismiss the far-ranging implications of such an agreement. It clearly represents the beginning of a new and even more direct relationship between the Stalinist bureaucracy and world imperialism. One has only to consider what would happen in a Stalinist-administered Hong Kong in the event of a strike carried out by workers against a capitalist-owned enterprise. The bureaucracy would intervene against the workers in direct defense of imperialist interests. Thus, to claim that the Chinese-British agreement on Hong Kong does not represent a tendency toward capitalist restoration is a transparent lie.
As for Yugoslavia, the depth of its dependence upon the financial credits of the IMF and imperialist banks is well known. Since 1950, when Tito sided with imperialism during the Korean War, Yugoslavia has openly kept one foot in the capitalist camp. For Banda to claim that there is no tendency toward personal accumulation of wealth in Yugoslavia can only mean, at best, that he is badly misinformed about life in the Balkans. Against the backdrop of economic backwardness and poverty, there are to be found individuals with considerable private fortunes.
Finally, Banda’s invocation of Indochina as a further refutation of Trotskyism does not get him very far. It is an obvious fact that Vietnam is organically incapable of realizing, within the framework of a nationally-isolated and backward economy, a socialist reconstruction of society. There is a great deal of evidence that it has not even been able to harmoniously integrate the northern and southern portions of the country. But there is another issue which Banda never bothers to pose, although it is central to the socialist development of Indochina.
Some twelve years after the defeat of American imperialism, there is absolutely no indication that a socialist federation of Indochina, let alone one that includes China itself, is emerging. The Vietnamese intervention in Kampuchea (Cambodia) has not produced any economic integration of the two countries. As for China, far from encouraging the development of a new socialist union with Indochina in the aftermath of the defeat of the United States, it has attempted to invade Vietnam and to this day collaborates with imperialism against it.
Banda does not refer to this state of affairs, for to do so would require an objective analysis of the class forces which underlie these reactionary policies and would demolish his claim that the Stalinist bureaucracies are engaged in the construction of socialism.
He tells us, however, that the political revolution against Stalinism never has and never will materialize, and, that “this irrevocable fact of history. … explains why the Fourth International was proclaimed but never built. There was simply nothing to build on.”
Banda’s inability to foresee the future is equaled only by his capacity to lie about the past. Trotsky’s concept of a proletarian revolution which would be directed against the bureaucracy’s monopoly of political power, while preserving the social forms of property established through the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, correctly anticipated the future course of developments. Since 1953, when the East German working class rose up against the Stalinist regime, the political revolution has ceased to be merely a historical prognosis. Just as the Paris Commune of 1871 vindicated the theoretical projections of Marx, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 vindicated those of Trotsky. And since then, there have been the experiences of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Poland in 1970 and, finally, the Polish Solidarity movement of 1980–81.
Trotsky has not been proven wrong; rather, Banda has repudiated the political revolution and become an apologist and political agent of the Kremlin bureaucracy. Nearly thirty years ago, Banda wrote passionate denunciations of the Soviet bureaucracy’s massacres of Hungarian workers in Budapest and the executions of Pal Maleter and Imre Nagy in 1958. Now he repeats the slanders of the Kremlin and implies that opposition to the Kadar regime represents an attempt “to sell bourgeois democracy to the Hungarian people.” That is not all. He also equates the defense of Solidarity and opposition to the Jaruzelski dictatorship with support for “a Western oriented ‘pluralist democracy’ backed by the Vatican and supplied by European and US loans.”
As a matter of fact, the regime of General Jaruzelski was installed for the very purpose of restoring imperialist confidence in the credit-worthiness of Poland and assuring repayment of the massive external debt to the Western banks that had been accumulated during the 1970s by the Stalinists. The most recent five-year plan of the Polish regime has been modified in accordance with demands made by the International Monetary Fund.
* * *
In 1986, when Banda’s “27 Reasons Why the IC Should Be Buried” was published in the Workers Press and used as the political platform of the Workers Revolutionary Party’s break with the International Committee of the Fourth International, Banda still pretended that he was a Trotskyist. This assertion was not challenged by a single member of the WRP outside of those in the minority who supported the International Committee.
Toward the end of that document he declared:
This statement is a critical re-examination of the whole of the IC including myself which I feel is unpostponably urgent in view of the distortion, misrepresentation and half-truth put out by the IC clique which is hell-bent on resuscitating a stinking corpse.
For my part, I recognise that the WRP today is in the same position that the Bolsheviks were in 1915–1917 and that in order to build the FI it is necessary—as an indispensable precondition—to bury the IC. To let it fester for another single day would be tantamount to the worst betrayal of Trotsky and Trotskyism.
The man who called for the destruction of the International Committee—a proposal which the Workers Revolutionary Party sought immediately to implement—has now publicly proclaimed himself a political agent of the Soviet bureaucracy.
This development, which can come as no surprise to those who have followed our lengthy analysis of Banda’s “27 Reasons,” has at least one positive aspect: it renders unnecessary any special concluding section summing up the results of this protracted examination. There is no need for us to sum up Banda when he has so clearly summed himself up in his latest document “What Is Trotskyism?,” which is nothing more than an explicit declaration of the counterrevolutionary positions that were implicit in “27 Reasons.”
In finishing with Banda, it is enough to say that here is a man who, having once been a revolutionary, has capitulated miserably to the pressure of the most reactionary class forces. Defeated and demoralized, he attempts to justify his personal weaknesses and to legitimize his moral collapse by denouncing all the principles embodied in the Fourth International. Banda pathetically imagines that he, while wallowing neck-deep in mud, can make himself appear great if only he shouts slanders against the towering figure of Leon Trotsky. He has forgotten, it seems, that Trotsky’s historical stature was not reduced even a centimeter by the slanders and falsification of the most powerful counterrevolutionary bureaucracy in history. His own sordid efforts have proven no more successful. Banda set out to bury the International Committee, but the ICFI has buried him.