Socialism in One Country: Revisiting the old debate

There are some discussions that refuse to die, one of the prime reason for this is the obduracy of some who refuses to acknowledge history. This may be either due to their ignorance or due to a deliberate move on their part to sow more confusion, amongst the rank and file of the communist movement.

History has shown that when the revolutionary movement is on a weaker ground, those sowing confusion arises like a mushroom on a monsoon day. Trotsky and his adherents are one such grouping who deny to acknowledge the fact and continues to spread their false propaganda, even when the time is for a united action against the enemy. Behind their mask of Left phraseology, they serve the purpose of ruling class by acting as an agent provocateur.

In India of late, there has arisen groups of Trotskyites, whose sole purpose seems to denigrate the International Communist movement by slandering Stalin and the revolutionary movement of India by terming it as Stalinist stooge, denying all the heroic feats that the movement has accomplished be it Telangana, Tibigha, Naxalbari uprising or even during the struggle against imperialism.

Using the social media, these “super-revolutionaries” have been falsifying history in name of purging it, degrading the revolutionaries in name of revolution. Hence, even though it was not our intention to engage with them we were forced to put some facts straight, so as to dispel some of the myths that they have been propagating day in and day out.

One of the constant lies that they have been propagating is that it was Stalin (and the so-called bureaucracy) who propagated the slogan of Socialism in One Country and that this thesis was published after the death of Lenin and after the takeover of power by Stalin. Trotsky – the only real and pure revolutionary as a true inheritor of Lenin, had denounced it. Something which we also agree, he really did, but has he not been denouncing everything that Bolsheviks stood from till the eve of revolution? Further, they say that this view was that of Mensheviks and Stalin being the biggest Menshevik (though unlike Trotsky he never went with them) had implemented it in the Soviet Union, thus heralding the beginning of anti-Marxist Leninist regime! Along with betrayal of the revolution.

Here, our intention is to show how like their all other lies and deceits this is also a falsification emanating from the supporters of a person who at all crucial moment had resorted to deception, lies and attempted to hide behind revolutionary phraseology his blatant anti-Marxist-Leninist eclectic understanding. What Lenin said the windbag, Trotsky.

We shall also show that contrary to the popular belief Lenin was not only referring to the socialist revolution in one country but also he had clear view that socialist economy can be built in a single country as well. As usual, we would leave it to the wisdom of our comrades and readers to decide that going by the logic of Trotskyites, then who was Menshevik Lenin, Stalin or Trotsky?

The Debate on Socialism in one country in historical perspective

During most nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Marxists and Socialists world over and particularly the German Social-Democrats followed Marx and Engels in believing that socialism would be established simultaneously in several if not all European countries. The way socialists imagined the future revolution was derived from the experiences of the past revolutions that had occurred in Europe.

The French Revolution of 1789 quickly metamorphosed into a European level war engulfing the whole of Europe, similarly, the 1848-9 Vo¨lkerfruhling (People’s Spring) also involved many nations in a complex interplay.

Socialists tended to imagine their revolution as a repeat performance, with upheaval in one country triggering similar events elsewhere, and leading up to a pan-European conflagration of revolution and counter-revolution.

Hence, with such experience, the social-democrats of the time had been analysing socialism to come at a European level and it was something that could not be built in one country.

During this time there was no formal position or debate that took place in the German Social Democratic Party on the issue of Socialism in one country, but it was discussed in the writing of the then party leaders and ideologues. As with the entire socialist movement of the time, it was incoherent and prone to patriotic thinking, that never was formulated in a dialectical method.

During the entire course of movement leading to the period of World War – I, the dominant position of the German party remained that capitalism being a worldwide phenomenon, hence the revolution would also have to be on a world scale, though the world for many of these ideologues was centred around Europe and at the max America.

The period during the world war the debate once again came into life, but this time for all the wrong reasons. As the war progressed the capitulation of the social-democratic party and even the stalwarts like Kautsky started. Thus arose the famous indeed one of the severest dispute within the annals of the Marxist revolutionary movement. Second only to the debate that Marx conducted against the Anarchists. It began with Lenin on one side and the increasing renegade and opportunist wings of Social Democratic Party at the other.

What was the debate?

As the world war progressed, the ideologues and the leadership of the principal socialist parties of Europe and most notably the German Social Democratic Party, started rallying behind their respective bourgeoisie governments, supporting the war in favour of their own fatherland, thus betraying the struggle for revolution and socialism.

Lenin and the Bolshevik party was the only one which defended a revolutionary policy against the war not only merely in words but also gave a clarion call to turn the imperialist war into civil war.

The renegades of the Second International, just before the war in 1912 had adopted what was known as the Basle Manifesto, named after the town where the extraordinary Conference of Second International had taken place. In this, it was adopted that in an event of war the Socialists would take advantage of the economic and political crisis, and would try to hasten the downfall of the capitalist class rule and fight for socialist revolution.

But the opposite happened as the war erupted parties and the leaders of the second international barring the Bolsheviks under Lenin, capitulated in front of the national bourgeoisie and started supporting the war. The revisionists true to their character attempted to hide their betrayal to the cause under revolutionary sophistry, same happened with these concealed revisionists as well. To conceal their treachery in front of the advanced working class, they required some theoretical justification.

They did find it also! Rummaging through the extant writing of Marx and Engels they found what they wanted. Socialism by its very nature, they said, is international; socialism must be international, hence till the revolution does not occur in the entire world they cannot give a revolutionary call in their country. That is the revolution should start in a country other than their’s first and till this does not happen how can anyone support the notion of revolutionary war? After all, Socialism, was not possible in isolation, in one country.

They countered Lenin and by quoting Marx and Engels out of context they tried to justify their treachery and counter Lenin’s vitriolic denunciation against them.

Of course, this was nothing but a parody or caricature of Marxism, turning the father of Scientific Socialism and the propounder of proletarian revolution look like an utopic idealist, and academician devoid of practical thinking.

However, Lenin exposed the chalk and the cheese.

What these revisionists conveniently hid was revealed by Lenin. Capitalism Lenin showed in his various work and amongst them, his brilliant treatise, Imperialism, the Latest Stage of Capitalism,[This was the original title of Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.] had changed qualitatively from the time of Marx and Engels. From pre-imperialist capitalism, capitalism had turned into monopoly capitalism, i.e., imperialism. Capital, in words of Lenin, has become international and monopolist. The world has been carved up by a handful of Great Powers, i.e., powers successful in the great plunder and oppression of nations.

One has to remember that during the time even the Bolsheviks had not formulated their theoretical understanding of the idea of building socialism in one country as they also had firm notion that for the revolution to become successful and to move forward towards the building of socialism it has to be an integral part of world revolution.

In the same article Lenin he opposed the slogan of ‘United States of Europe’ (under the then prevailing system) countering it with the slogan of ‘United States of the World’, he says:

A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic.

But Lenin never confused theory with perspectives, and this was because he had nothing to be afraid of that needed to be hidden under the veneer of sophistry. In the same article, he went on to suggest why the slogan was not a correct one. He says:

As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others. (emphasis by author).

It was clear that for Lenin even in 1915 when the October revolution was still a distant reality and the movement had still not fully recovered from the 1905 failure, he was contemplating about the victory of socialism in one country. Not only did he mentioned the possibility of socialist revolution in one country, but he was also hinting towards its consolidation i.e. building of socialist economic system in one or several countries, amidst capitalist encirclement.

Leninist conception of the proletarian revolution and the uneven development of capitalism

Before we proceed further, it would be pertinent to discuss the Leninist conception of the proletarian revolution. Once we have the understanding it would become easy to see the major fault line that runs between Lenin and Trotsky on the vital question of the character of the revolution.

Lenin had underscored the present stage of capitalism as imperialism, i.e the stage of the decay of capitalism, the “moribund (dying) capitalism”. The major characteristics of the imperialist stage of capitalism, as elucidated by Lenin, are:

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life;

(2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy;

(3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance;

(4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and

(5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

In imperialist phase, the free capitalist competition is displaced by capitalist monopoly. Based on the above formulations, what one derives is that there exists a global imperialist system of economy that is an integral unit; but though it is an integral unit, it is continually rent asunder and is replete with inherent contradictions, thus giving rise to a ripening of the proletarian revolution, everywhere even in the backward countries. Because the whole system in ripe and impregnated with seeds of an impending proletarian revolution, it may break the chain of the imperialism in its weakest link.

Another, key feature of Leninism that merits discussion is that Lenin did not consider capitalist development as homogeneous, but that of an uneven economic and political development.

He said:

Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world—the capitalist world—attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states. (On the Slogan for a United States of Europe).

Imperialism had changed the nature of the world revolution in the direction that revolutions and socialism became possible in several or in one capitalist country as part of the world revolutionary process. To drive home this point and why the nature of revolutionary process had changed Lenin, wrote:

‘The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in the various countries. It cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From this, it follows irrefutably that socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois for some time’. (V.I. Lenin “War programme of the Proletarian Revolution, in; Collected Works, Vol. 29; p. 325)

Trotsky’s answer to Lenin’s theory of the uneven development of capitalism: The Theory of permanent revolution

In 1917, Trotsky wrote a pamphlet called Program of Peace, which he republished again in 1924, as part of his collected works. Hence we can derive that even though till then the revolution in Russia had stabilised and the existential threat had receded at least overtly, Trotsky was still embracing the anti-revolutionary theses of uneven development of capitalism not having taken place. Let us quote what he wrote:

“The only more or less concrete historical consideration put forward against the slogan of the United States of Europe was formulated in the Swiss Social-Democrat in the sentence which follows: ‘Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism.’ From this the Social-Democrat drew the conclusion that the victory of Socialism was possible in a single country, and that, therefore, there was no point in making the creation of a United States of Europe the condition for the dictatorship of the proletariat in each separate country. That capitalist development in different countries is uneven is an absolutely incontrovertible fact. But this very unevenness is itself extremely uneven. The capitalist level of England, Austria, Germany or France is not identical. But in comparison with Africa or Asia all these countries represent capitalist ‘Europe’, which has grown ripe for the social revolution. 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.”

Trotsky, since the beginning had despised the Leninist theory of imperialism that characterised imperialism as stage or epoch of decaying and dying capitalism.

The Leninist theory of proletarian revolution did not exist for him, or rather it was anathema to him. For he was harping the anachronistic conception of permanent revolution again and again in different garb.

Even after he was proved to be completely wrong. It was a central characteristic of Trotsky that he never accepted his mistake, come what may. Self- criticism was alien for him, and the same has been adopted by his disciples.

They continue to falsify history in the situation also where they are proved to be on the wrong side, even by using the same means as that of right-wingers.

He takes no cognisance of the uneven political and economic development that had taken place within the various countries of the capitalist camp, but on the other hand, clings to his eclectic notion of simultaneous revolution in Europe by stating that the principal countries of Europe are all ripe for the social revolution.

Since revolutions do not happen this way, it is quite obvious that Trotsky does not see the possibility of revolution. It must be kept in mind that he re-published Program of Peace, seven years after October. It was hopeless, said Trotsky, to think that the revolution in Russia could “hold its own” in the face of conservative Europe.

And precisely due to this, he started hobnobbing with the counter-revolutionary forces within and outside of Soviet Union, ultimately leading him to gravitate towards having an alliance with the Fascists.

When the Leninists speak about the socialist revolution in one country they do not deny the revolutionary aid and assistance coming from the masses of other countries. It is a well-known fact that without the aid of the masses in the capitalist countries the Soviet Union could not have maintained itself.

From here Trotsky’s fundamental difference and his un Marxist-Leninist thinking on the question arises.

Trotsky together with the Mensheviks disregarded the uneven development of capitalism which explains why revolutionary movements can be the strongest where the chain of imperialism is the weakest – which is not necessarily in the most advanced capitalist countries.

He denied that there was an uneven development of capitalism, and argued that capitalism has transformed the general law of uneven development, which holds that societies grow at different paces, some faster and others slower at various points in time. The unique expansionary qualities of capitalism lead it to penetrate the pre-capitalist modes of production, subordinating their economies and states to its laws of development.

Based on this premise Trotsky went on to develop his highly erratic and opaque theory of “Permanent Revolution”. Something that could be fit for academic discussion but not as a guide to action for a proletarian party ready to lead the struggle.

Though it is another aspect that he and later his followers have been attributing the theory of permanent revolution as developed by Trotsky, the fact of the matter is that he borrowed this idea from Pravus. It is claimed that this theory is the continuation of the thinking of Marx, which was also accepted by Lenin, though nowhere in the extant writings of Lenin this is evidenced, nor the Trotsky or his supporters have been able to produce any such proof.

When Trotsky visited Munich in 1905, he discussed the idea with him, The ‘theory’ of the permanent revolution in its essence is due to Parvus, who in a series of articles entitled ‘War and revolution’ argued that the national state, the birth of which corresponded to the needs of industrial capitalism, was henceforth superseded. (We have dealt with this in our article Trotskyism is not Leninism).

Armed with his new theory of Permanent Revolution Trotsky started his struggle against the Bolshevik theory of the uneven development of capitalism and specifically denied any such development has taken place. In other words, he completed denied imperialist development, something that takes him near to Mensheviks and Kautsky.

He vehemently opposed the entire Leninist conception of imperialism as one integrated whole that must inevitably be broken through by the proletarian revolution in its weakest spot. On the other hand, he came up with an equally nebulas and anti-Leninist idea 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.

For Trotsky and later his supporters the forces of the proletarian revolution can never be strong enough to be able to break the front of imperialism in a single country. Like his predecessors the social-democrats of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, he also came up with revolutionary phraseology to hide his defeatism.

To do this he advanced the idea of a revolution in one country supported by revolutions in other countries.

However this cannot exclude the fact that from his writings it is discernable that his message to the workers of every country was that they cannot make a revolution alone; even if they did they were sure to be defeated; the workers would have to wait till other countries also begins the revolution; if there is no revolution elsewhere, they are doomed. This is tantamount to denying the possibility of any revolution at all.

To explain it in simple words, what he says is that the workers cannot make a successful revolution till the other countries also have undergone through similar revolution, even if workers by some chance are successful they are doomed as the workers of the other countries have not been successful or have not risen.

In other words, it was deferring the revolution in the guise of fomenting a world revolution. An anti-revolutionary sophistry that shows his complete renunciation of Marxism, by deferring the project of revolution till infinity.

While opposing the chance of revolution he 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).

Even after the failure of European revolution and period of the retreat we see Trotsky clinching to his eclectic theory, whereas Lenin is categorically declaring that there can be a socialist state amidst capitalism.

“But is the existence of a socialist republic in a capitalist environment at all conceivable?” … “From the political and military aspects, it seemed inconceivable. That it is possible, both politically and militarily, has now been proved. It is a fact.”( Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets)

But Trotsky ignored the new objective conditions, and arrived at opposite conclusion:

“The organic interdependence of the several countries, developing toward an international division of labour, excludes the possibility of building socialism in one country. This means that the Marxist doctrine, which posits that the socialist revolution can begin only on a national basis, while the building of socialism in one country is impossible, has been rendered doubly and trebly true, all the more so now, in the modern epoch …”( The Third International After Lenin)

What he failed to understand was the inherent contradictions between the ‘great powers’, with England, Austria, Germany or France on the one hand and the contradictions between these countries and their colonies and spheres of influence on the other hand. Why did he fail? The answer was that Trotsky saw revolution from a utopic prism and not as one that emerges because of the objective and subjective condition.

To him, the revolution did not materialise and emerged as the result of contradictions; of a breach in the imperialist front in one or the other country.

To him, the revolution comes simultaneously or nearly simultaneously in the most advanced countries – or it does not come at all. In this, his ideas were very similar to those of early revisionists of the second international.

Socialism in One Country: Lenin’s Writing from 1915 and later

Let’s again come back to Lenin and how he was changing his tactical line in consonance with the change in the objective and subjective political conditions.

Lenin changed his view on the possibility of building socialism in one country. In March 1921, Lenin said at the Tenth Party Congress that the struggle for socialism in Russia could not succeed without the victory of socialism in other European countries.

A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others. (On the Slogan for a United States of Europe).

He further said, “Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone.” (ibid)

Two years later, in the article “Better Fewer, But Better,” Lenin said history had shown socialist revolutions were not imminent in other European countries, but this did not mean Russia could not succeed in its own socialist revolution.

Other issues on which Lenin’s views evolved included whether to use money or a system of labour certificates to reward work, how extensive centralized planning should be, and whether the overthrown bourgeoisie should be allowed to vote, to name a few.

Lenin further says that it will achieve victory in one country and other would remain under the rule of bourgeois or even pre-bourgeois.

‘The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in the various countries. It cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From this, it follows irrefutably that Socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois for some time.’” (The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution: I)

Was Lenin only referring to a socialist revolution or was it to also to develop socialist economy?

For Lenin, was it only about fomenting a proletarian revolution or was he visualising something more? That is was he not referring to about consolidating and building socialism in one country?

Our Trotskyite friends have been harping day in and day out, that building of Socialism was never on agenda of Lenin. And, it was Stalin who under some mysterious ‘bureaucracy’ initiated a completely anti-Marxist polity of building socialism in USSR, at the expense and betrayal of world revolution.

A cursory glance at the writings and speeches of Lenin and the Soviet Party during and immediately after the revolution reveals a diametrically different agenda that emerges.

After the victory of the Bolsheviks and the consolidation of power by the revolutionaries, Lenin had the faith on a European uprising. But when the tide of revolution did not rise in Europe and there was an ebb in the European revolutionary polity, the idea of world socialist revolution was delayed. And Lenin had no qualms in accepting the new fact as well.

The successes scored in this respect by the Soviets have been tremendous. When, three years ago, we raised the question of the tasks and the conditions of the proletarian revolution’s victory in Russia, we always stated emphatically that victory could not be permanent unless it was followed up by a proletarian revolution in the West, and that a correct appraisal of our revolution was possible only from the international point of view. For victory to be lasting, we must achieve the victory of the proletarian revolution in all, or at any rate in several, of the main capitalist countries. After three years of desperate and stubborn struggle, we can see in what respect our predictions have or have not materialised. (Our Foreign and Domestic Position and Party Tasks, November 21, 1920).

This speech of Lenin assumes more importance because in this he expounds his vision of building of Socialism and the existence of a proletarian state amidst capitalist ocean. A state that he unlike Trotsky he did not think the nascent Soviet Power to be made extinct under some false notion.

He further says:

at the same time it has turned out that, while our forecasts did not materialise simply, rapidly and directly, they were fulfilled insofar as we achieved the main thing—the possibility has been maintained of the existence of proletarian rule and the Soviet Republic even in the event of the world socialist revolution being delayed. In this respect it must be said that the Republic’s international position today provides the best and most precise confirmation of all our plans and all our policy. (ibid)

And can there be any more clarity needed to support our postulate?

Thus a glance at our international position as a whole will show that we have achieved tremendous successes and have won, not only a breathing-space but something much more significant. By a breathing-space we understand a brief period during which the imperialist powers have had many opportunities to renew in greater force the war against us. Today, too, we do not underestimate the danger and do not deny the possibility of future military intervention by the capitalist countries. It is essential for us to maintain our military preparedness. However, if we cast a glance at the conditions in which we defeated all attempts made by the Russian counter-revolutionaries and achieved a formal peace with all the Western states, it will be clear that we have something more than a breathing space: we have entered a new period, in which we have won the right to our fundamental international existence in the network of capitalist states. (ibid)

And from his speech of 1920, we move to 1922, the Plenary Session of the Moscow Soviet, here Lenin is mentioning about the possibility of consolidation and the development of socialism.

“Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future, or an abstract picture, or an icon. We still retain our old bad opinion of icons. We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way. This is the task of our day, the task of our epoch. Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all — not in one day, but in the course of several years — all of us together fulfill it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia.” (See Speech at a Plenary Session of the Moscow Soviet.) (emphasis ours)

By adopting an idealist rather than a materialist world outlook, Trotsky continued to oppose Lenin and is seen indirectly opposing the October revolution.

What was Trotsky at the same time thinking, in 1928 he writes,

“The theory of socialism in one country inexorably leads to an underestimation of the difficulties which must be overcome and to an exaggeration of the achievements gained. One could not find a more anti-socialist and anti-revolutionary assertion than Stalin’s statement to the effect that “socialism has already been 90 percent realized in the USSR” This statement seems to be especially meant for a smug bureaucrat. In this way one can hopelessly discredit the idea of a socialist society in the eyes of the toiling masses. The Soviet proletariat has achieved grandiose successes, if we take into consideration the conditions under which they have been attained and the low cultural level inherited from the past. But these achievements constitute an extremely small magnitude on the scales of the socialist ideal” (The Third International After Lenin)

Lenin never denied the possibility of world revolution, nor did Stalin. But at the same time, they were also not a supporter of deferring the Socialist project till eternity.

Replying to a letter Stalin mentioned:

“Leninism teaches that “the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale”. (On the Final Victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.)

He further says:

This means that the serious assistance of the international proletariat is a force without which the problem of the final victory of Socialism in one country cannot be solved.”. (ibid)

Did what Stalin wrote was different from that of Lenin. Did not Lenin say the same?

Let us again quote a paragraph from Lenin’s article Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government. In this Lenin writes:

“Complete and final victory on a world scale cannot be achieved in Russia alone; it can be achieved only when the proletariat is victorious in at least all the advanced countries, or, at all events, in some of the largest of the advanced countries. Only then shall we be able to say with absolute confidence that the cause of the proletariat has triumphed, that our first objective—the overthrow of capitalism—has been achieved.

We have achieved this objective in one country, and this confronts us with a second task. Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale, on a different plane, the struggle of the proletarian state surrounded by capitalist states.

This situation is an entirely novel and difficult one.

On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”

Further, Lenin mentions in his speech given in 1918, to the Third All-Russia Congress of the Soviets, opposing the very notion of Socialist victory can be possible only on a world scale, it becomes pertinent to all the serious students of Marxism-Leninism, the fallacy of Trotsky and his cohorts notion, that it was Stalin under influence (?) of Mensheviks who mentioned about building and possibility of Socialism in one country.

Let’s quote the words of Lenin;

“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and of its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth.”( Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets, 1918)

In 1923, Lenin explicitly mentioned about the construction of Socialism, in no less clear word than what we quote below.

“As a matter of fact, the political power of the Soviet over all large-scale means of production, the power in the state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc, …is not this all that is necessary in order from the co-operatives – from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as huckstering, and which, from a certain aspect, we have the right to treat as such now, under the new economic policy – is not this all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building.” (“On Cooperation,” 1923; emphasis by author)


What is Trotsky’s “socialist ideal?”

Writing in 1936, after the successful conclusion of the first five-year plan and the collectivization of agriculture, Trotsky still says “there is not yet, in this fundamental sense, a hint of socialism in the Soviet Union.” (The Revolution Betrayed)

Why? Because “socialism, if it is worthy of the name, means human relations without greed, friendship without envy and intrigue, love without base calculation.”(The Revolution Betrayed)

Revolutionaries, of course, must never forget the final aims of their movement and always fight to implement them in the fullest way possible in the present day struggle. But Trotsky’s use of these standards to measure the advances of socialism under conditions of class domination and class struggle reduces the role of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard to that of a Sunday-school parson prattling moralistic aphorisms.

Lenin’s brilliant words come to the fore again. Let’s see what he says;

The capitalists, the bourgeoisie, can at ‘best’ put off the victory of socialism in one country or another at the cost of slaughtering further hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants. But they cannot save capitalism…( Answers To An American Journalist’s Questions, 1919)

But, as a revolutionary, we the Marxist-Leninists have to ask themselves and the movement: What shall be the proletarian Party do in a revolutionary situation when there is the probability of a successful attack on the capitalist State, the probability of the seizure of power by the proletariat?

The Leninists say it is the duty of the workers under such conditions to seize power. The Trotskyites say the workers have to ascertain first whether there is the probability of a revolution in a few other countries; if there is not such a probability, the workers must not seize power. The Leninists are proletarian revolutionists. Trotskyism tends to disarm the proletariat, to prevent it from utilizing a revolutionary situation.

This utopianism, however, is only the veneer on the Trotskyist attack on socialist construction “in one country.” Its essence is what has led many revolutionaries to attack Trotskyists for “supporting socialism everywhere in the world except where it exists,” that is, anti-communism.

So far we have seen that Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not ‘come over’ to Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution in 1917, but rather were reacting to unique, concrete, circumstances, caused by the 1914-1918 imperialist war.

We have seen that Trotsky openly lied to the international communist movement regarding Lenin’s position on the possibility of socialism in one country, suggesting, dishonestly, that Stalin invented this theory; this lying, consciously and unconsciously, is continued today by the Trotskyites.

Permanent revolution is nothing but a “permanent” hopelessness,

The path there was paved by a dogmatic and subjective worldview that denied the law of uneven development in the imperialist epoch. Its fruit had two aspects: an infantile “leftism” that led to a line of “skipping stages” and the “export” of revolution and a right opportunist “theory of productive forces” similar to those held in the 1960s by Khrushchev and Liu Shao-chi.

Here we have approached the very crux and source of Trotsky’s method. To prove that Socialism in one country is impossible, he attempted to prove that the achievements of the Soviet Union were the reverse of socialist construction.

To reinforce his arguments he headed the counter-revolution which attempted to damage Socialist construction and destroy the Soviet Union, that too at the time when Red Army under Stalin was fighting the barbaric goons of Hitler from Stalingrad to Berlin.

At the time when the genuine forces of revolution were defending Socialism and liberating not just Soviet Union, but the entire humanity from the permanent stranglehold of Nazis, Trotsky, on the other hand, was determined to undermine Socialism not only in the Soviet Union but at world level.

So, is it surprising that Trotsky and his supporters till date are the best comrade-in-arms of the bourgeoisie government? But on this later.

We conclude with another exemplary line of Lenin, that requires no further elucidation.

Either they do not know the facts of life, do not see what actually exists and are unable to look the truth in the face, or they confine themselves to abstractly comparing ’capitalism’ with ’socialism’ and fail to study the concrete forms and stages of the transition that is taking place in our country. (“Left-Wing” Childishness)


* The quotes of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin have been taken from Marxist Internet Archive, hence we have not given the page numbers.

Author: Other Aspect

A Marxist-Leninist journal, based in India and aimed at analysing the contemporary world events from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.

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