Okay let me get to answering this question because I have been putting it off for quite some time now and I have just gotten on a computer at the library. So, I will try to condense this question into the wording as follows: “Why do you disagree with Trotskyism and what are your disagreements with it specifically”. Alright well here we go:
As I understand it, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the theoretical continuation of Marxism, and Leninism. What I mean by this is that Marxism is a continuous philosophy and science, which I would not even consider myself a Maoist just due to the fact that I think “Marxist” suffices to explain it entirely. I choose “Marxist” because I contend that there is a true Marxism, with consistent principles that we can determine objectively, and that there are other more inconsistent Marxisms. These other Marxisms, while mostly correct in conclusions, rely heavily on dogmas and not on correct practical and theoretical formulation. It is like taking the recipe of a cake and cooking it while skipping over certain steps. While correct in certain steps, it is still lacking, so the conclusions will be inherently incorrect in either principle or in actuality.
So my issue with Trotskyism isn’t all that different from my issue with Hoxhaism, Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought (as opposed to M-L-M), or any other-non continuity of Marxism. I think that it is an incomplete analytic tool. It is a microscope missing a lens, or not calibrated correctly.
Theoretical Continuity in Marxism and Antirevisionism
Marxism is a theoretically continuous science and philosophy. It is a science in the sense that we intend to understand the world objectively and attempt to come to conclusions based on the material understanding of the world. Furthermore, we consider it a science because of the philosophical roots in dialectical materialism. This is as opposed to other social theories, which either partially or entirely, are based in pulling certain things out of their asses (idealism). Marxism is a continuous philosophy in the same way that philosophy may also inform other sciences. The core components of the philosophy are: Political Economy, Dialectical Materialism, and Historical Materialism. These components interrelate to each other and overlap as methods of analysis so to understand Marxism is to understand a good deal of each.
So as far as I am concerned, Marxism is not just the ideas of Marx and Engels, where Lenin added something on, and then Stalin did, or Trotsky did, or Luxemburg did, or any other theorist for that matter… I consider there to be a single Marxism which is the philosophy that is applied to different conditions in different ways. If we just consider it to be some eclectic mess of additions, then Marxism can be just about anything if you call it new. So Marxism can’t be every new theoretical distinction or addition.
In fact, I consider Lenin, Stalin, and Mao not to have really put out anything all that different or new. Instead, they were really just reaffirming what Marx and Engels said originally. It is very fashionable on the left nowadays to claim that Marx and Engels were nice libertarian communists and it was those gosh darn authoritarian communists Lenin and Stalin and Mao just ruined their theories. In honest reality, if you go back and read Marx and Engels with the understandings of say, Lenin or Mao in your head, you can see that there are definite similarities and continuous concepts that both respectively had. So, we see that the conception of Marxism is not misunderstood by Lenin or Mao, but rather by the people who think that Lenin or Mao are misunderstanding Marx and Engels.
I intend on writing a separate blog post on this topic entirely since antirevisionism has seemingly become almost a dogma in M-L circles instead of an actual understanding of philosophy. I like philosophy, I don’t like dogma. People may consider this to be some sort of “No True Marxism” (no true scotsman) fallacy but uh, no it isn’t. I just wanted to preemptively clarify this because I am sure that someone is going to make that comment and seeing as how I want to keep this relatively short, I am just going to say that it is in fact not a NTS fallacy because it deals with something that we determine objectively based on previous writings and analytic methods.
Problems with Trotskyism
So now that I have clarified my understanding of Marxism as a continuous single philosophy with lazy variations invented by followers of antirevisionists and revisionists alike, we can move onto my personal disagreements with Trotskyism and specific Trotskyists/Trot Organizations.
- Permanent Revolution - Right Question, Wrong Answer: The question of the Soviets was as follows: “how do we or can we even build socialism in a semi-feudal country?” and the answers were varying but I feel that Trotsky’s answer does not consider the full implications of contradiction in Marxism. In Marxism, contradictions are resolved through a struggle or conflict. I feel that his theory did not really serve to resolve the contradiction in a thorough manner. Socialism in One Country does this by building up the backward country to serve itself and its own people. Many people confuse this with isolationism, or some other ridiculous notion. Do we build socialism in the backward countries or let the “andvanced” countries lead the backward. One notion contradicts the notion emphasized by imperialism, and the other repackages it in a socialist wrapping.
- Sectarian Theory, Sectarian Practice: This one is pretty self explanatory, Trotsky’s theory, instead of being a theory advanced within the party (which it was, and then dismissed) is one that he advanced from outside the party due to his exile for sectarian opportunism. Whether it be for his own political agenda or what have you, I find his behavior among the bolsheviks to be completely inappropriate and damaging to Socialism. Although there are valid criticisms of Stalin for saying so, World Socialism was the Soviet Union at that time so to threaten it is a betrayal of socialism in my opinion. This sectarianism follows through in the Fourth International and the million Four Internationals, and cultish splinter cells that have formed out of them. This renders Trotskyist practice pretty much useless as sectarian infighting hinders effective practice. One Communist Party with many factions that understand criticism/self-criticism is a a preferable situation to a million communist parties competing with each other over which splinter cell is best. This criticism isn’t entirely of Trotskyism alone, but definitely applies to them specifically.
- Liberalism, a Disease on the Left: In my experience, Trotskyists tend to be very liberal and former trots tend to be neo-conservatives. I do not think this is a coincidence, but rather a clear result of theoretical inconsistencies that take them away from the socialist road and the proletarian line and lead them towards the opposition. This is evident in Trotskyist organizations like the ISO, who in all intents and purposes, might as well just join the democrats. What is the point of calling yourselves revolutionaries and socialists if you just pretty much follow the reactionaries and capitalists hand in hand? The issue arises due to the contraposition of the Trotskyists and the Stalinists (M-Ls). Instead of forming objective opinions based on Marxist principles, contemporary Trotskyism forms opinions to contradict the stalinists. This is again, sectarianism, but also liberalism that is not in line with Marxist theory as a continuous philosophy.
- First Worldism: So pretty much an issue with a few different sections of the left, but I feel that Trotskyism is a mostly first world phenomena due to its reactionary positions that appeal mostly to first worlders who disagree with the two parties, agree that violent change is necessary, but do not want to challenge their presuppositions. I remember when I was really into Trotsky and this was the case, but perhaps it is not true for all Trotskyists.
- Utopian Internationalism, and the International Revolution: My problem here with the theories of Trotsky on internationalism is that he lapses into an idealist understanding of it. I think Mao’s reaffirmations of Proletarian Internationalism are much better. International revolution seems like revolutionary spontaneity on the world stage instead of a national stage and that is already contradicted by Leninism which attempts to direct that revolutionary energy. In this sense, in the same way that many anarchists deny the viability of revolutionary anti-imperialist nationalism, the same goes for the Trotskyists and their assumption of international revolution.
- Deformed Workers State, State Capitalism etc etc…: A bunch of idealist rubbish. Again, the principles of Marxism, one is dialectical materialism and historical materialism so it suffices to say that this analysis is just unmarxist
- Criticisms of Stalin and Stalinism: Again we see here my gripes of idealism, and overall revisionism. Stalin, while able to be criticized for sure, should not be criticized for his rise to power in the Party and government of the Soviet Union. Trotsky and his followers have propagated a lot of reactionary conspiracy theories that delegitimize his qualifications and the specificities of the politics of the day. Mao’s criticisms of him are much more based and on point as far as I am concerned.
So this post is getting pretty long and I hope I have answered your question in an effective manner. My main criticism of Trotskyism, which is that it is revisionist, also applies to other Marxisms as well, but this response deals with Trotskyism in particular. The seven bullet points delve into my explanations of why I feel it is revisionist based on the clarification of revisionism, marxisms, and Marxism as a continuous philosophy. If anyone else has any other questions, feel free to ask me anything! Feel free to reblog this if you want.
- Julius Alexander, theredmilitiaman