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Debunking the myth that Trotskyism was and is only big in "the west"

2020.01.03 07:11 somerandomleftist5 Debunking the myth that Trotskyism was and is only big in "the west"

I hear this a lot, and there is a few issues with it. I think most of this comes from like other people in the global north who are often white trying to prove their ideology is the most woke. I don't like this argument because it sort of becomes this first world leftists try to proclaim their ideology is the one true tribune of the global south and it gets weird. So I want to say, no amount of success of an ideology in the global south will ever somehow means its followers in the global north can't be racist, bigoted, social chauvinistic. I don't intend this as trying to paint Trotskyism as being more "woke" or Trotskyists being immune to chauvinism just because we have friends from x country. There are plenty of Trotskyists and will continue to be ones who are racist, bigoted and chauvanists. Just as all leftist ideologies have these people in varying amounts.
** Where was Trotskyism Historically **
"Ceylon which since 1972 has officially been called Sri Lanka, is one of the two countries in the world (Bolivia being the other) in which Trotskyism was for a certain period of time a significant factor in national politics. For more than forty years it had members in the national parliament, during most of this period it was the single most important political element in the labor movement, and on two occasions the Trotskyists had members in the national government."
Now I would argue countries like Vietnam and China it had a major impact in as well.
But first I want to give a list of the countries that had a Trotskyist movement according to one book I have.
from here
I am going to give some histories of a few of these countries, China and Vietnam, I would highly recommend you do further reading.
Lets start with China
"Differences over the Communist International’s policies during “the second Chinese Revolution” (1925-1927) were one of the first major issues which differentiated International Trotskyism from Stalin’s followers in the Comintern. Although there were Chinese Communist leaders who took positions similar to those of Leon Trotsky during the 1925-1927 period they only became aware of this community of ideas subsequently. When a Trotskyist movement finally emerged, it included among its initiators some of the principal founders and early leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese Trotskyism existed in the country for about two decades, and as an exile movement for at least two decades more. It began to be revived in nearby Hong Kong in the 1970s."
If Trotsky had been killed sooner, II think given that Chinese Communists came to the same positions for the most part we would have more writings based around Peng Shuzhi, or Chen Bilan. Most of the original founders of the Chinese Communist Party ended up siding with the international left opposition.
"During much of the 1930s one of the major centers of strength of International Trotskyism was what is today known as Vietnam. That region was also the scene of what was probably unique in the world at that time, a united front between the Trotskyists and the Stalinists — a united front which did not prevent the Stalinists a decade later from murdering virtually all of those Trotskyist leaders with whom they had been allied in the earlier period.
Before World War II present-day Vietnam consisted of three separate States. In the north was Tonkin which together with the empire of Annam in the center constituted a single French protectorate. In the south was Cochin China, an out-and-out French colony centering on the city of Saigon. The strength of the Vietnamese Trotskyists was concentrated in that period principally in Cochin China."
The Vietminh, whose full title, “The Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh”, means the League for the Independence of Vietnam, was founded by the VCP, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh in May 1941. It was a classic popular front embracing bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists, and announced a programme strictly limited to national independence. The VCP even dropped its slogan of “Land to the Tillers” in order to woo the bourgeois nationalists, it supported the Allied war effort – supplying the Americans and British with information about Japanese movements - and received aid and weapons from Chiang Kai Shek and the American Office of Strategic Services.
In the North it was in control by 20 August 1945 and then after out manoeuvring the Southern United National Front (which consisted of various nationalist groupings and a section of the Vietnamese Trotskyist movement) it established a “Provisional Executive Committee of South Vietnam” in Saigon. The independent and united Democratic Republic of Vietnam was declared by Ho Chi Minh on 2 September, at this time, apart from the armies of the Stalinist-led Vietminh, no coercive state apparatus existed.
The French had been disarmed by the Japanese in 1945. The Japanese forces were in complete disarray. The British expeditionary force that was to re-establish order on behalf of the French had not yet arrived. Thus the Vietminh, as a result of the “August Revolution” were in total control. Yet in these extremely advantageous circumstances the VCP proceeded to attack the Vietnamese working class, their revolutionary leaders (the Trotskyists) and lay the basis for a pact with imperialism that reopened Indo-China to imperialist armies of occupation for another 30 years. Such a historic betrayal underlines the Stalinist nature of the VCP. It reveals it as a counter-revolutionary party.
The August Revolution, at least in the South, and particularly in Saigon posed the objective possibility of the creation of a healthy workers state in Vietnam. Following the defeat of the Japanese, the workers in the South, often acting under Trotskyist leadership4 established some 150 “Peoples Committees”, these committees organised many thousands of workers, they were embryonic Soviets.5 They stood as a potential governmental alternative, and thus a second power, to the Vietminh coalition (with the ex-Emperor Bao Dai included in it by Ho!) The spectre of independent working class power terrified the Stalinists. Their project was for a negotiated settlement with imperialism, aimed merely at the guarantee of independence. Bourgeois property and the bourgeois state in Vietnam were to remain intact. As the Stalinist leader in the South, Nguyen Van Tao declared:
“Our government I repeat is a democratic and middle class government, even though the Communists are now in power.” 6
Thus, instead of basing themselves on the Peoples Committees, they proceeded to smash them. Ho Chi Minh based the constitution of his Democratic Republic on the bourgeois American Declaration of Independence (it opened with a sentence from that Declaration foreshadowing similar utterances from Fidel Castro). Five days after this declaration by Ho, the Stalinists issued a decree on 7 September , outlawing all armed bodies except their own. This was a direct attack on the armed workers.
Ten days after the declaration of independence on 12 September 1945, the Stalinists welcomed General Gracey, chief of the British expeditionary force, into Vietnam. In order to forestall organised working class resistance to this treachery, the Stalinists arrested and murdered the leaders of both the Trotskyist organisations. The Peoples Committees, robbed of their leaders, were effectively crushed by the British and the newly-returned French in heavy fighting in Saigon.
The Stalinists’ bloody services earned them little thanks from the imperialists. Preparing for the return of French troops to Vietnam was always the aim of the British. General Gracey had brought some French troops with him. He armed French troops who had been interned by the Japanese declared martial law in Saigon, forbade publication of Vietnamese language papers and allowed French troops and officials to take over all Vietminh-held public buildings in Saigon on 23 September. Having crushed the Saigon resistance to this restoration the British then stood aside leaving a clear field for the French General Leclerc to launch a campaign for the reconquest of the whole of Indochina.
Thus the Stalinist collaboration with the British resulted, in effect, in handing the South over to the French. The attempt to prevent this in October 1945 was doomed. The Saigon rising called by the Vietminh was abortive and the French, British and -Japanese troops, rearmed by the British, quickly massacred many of the insurgents. Ho, still in control in the North, then compounded his earlier treachery by seeking a negotiated pact with the French. The fruit of this was the 6 March 1946 agreement with the French which allowed them (with 25,000 troops) to enter Hanoi and the North. Having gained this enormous advantage the French repaid Ho by shelling the northern port of Haiphong in November 1946, deliberately provoking the Vietminh into war. Only when given no other option by imperialism did Ho sanction a war against the French by the Vietminh – a costly war made necessary by the actions of the Stalinists in August September of 1945."
Trotskyism in Bolivia
"For a few years in the 1950s Bolivian Trotskyism was the most powerful Latin American section of the movement. Together with the Lanka Sama Samaja of Ceylon, it was one of the two national Trotskyist groups anywhere to become a major actor in its country's national politics. It subsequently splintered into a variety of factions and ceded its position as the most powerful element on the Bolivian far left to the Stalinists."
"The founder of Bolivian Trotskyism was Gustavo Navarro, better known as Tristan Marof. He was a one-time Bolivian diplomat who had abandoned diplomacy to return to Bolivia in 1926 to found a Partido Socialista, which was generally aligned with, but not formally affiliated to, the Communist International. It fell victim to the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay between 1932 and 1936, and Marof and most of his associates went into exile.
In Argentina, Marof first organized the Grupo Tupac Amaru, which had contacts with the Argentine Socialists, Communists, and Trotskyists. In December 1936 the Grupo Tupac Amaru coalesced with two other exile groups, the Izquierda Boliviana in Chile and the Exilados en el Peru in that country at a congress in Córdoba, Argentina. That congress launched the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR—Revolutionary Labor Party), whose principal leaders in the beginning were Marof, José Aguirre Gainsborg, Alipio Valencia, Tomás Swarkey, Lucio Mendivil, and Ernesto Ayala Mercado.
At its inception, the POR was not completely Trotskyist. The principal advocate of Trotskyism at its founding congress was Jose Aguirre Gainsborg, who was mainly responsible for the congress' decision to align the new party with the International Left Opposition.
Shortly after the end of the Chaco War, power was seized by Colonel David Toro, who established what he called a "Socialist Republic" and organized the Partido Socialista del Estado as its only legal party. Some of the Trotskyites, notably Aguirre Gainsborg and Arze Loureiro, returned home after Toro's coup and participated, along with José Antonio Arze and Ricardo Anaya (who were later to become the country's major Stalinist leaders}, in organizing the Bloque de Izquierda Boliviana. The Bloque entered the government party, and Arze Loureiro became an important secondary figure in the regime. However, Aguirre Gainsborg soon fell afoul of the Toro government and again went into exile, this time in Chile."
"During the early 1940S the Partido Obrero Revolucionario first began to gain some influence among the tin miners, the country's principal proletarian group. This was due largely to the leadership and work of Guillermo Lora, a young man who had been won to Trotskyism while still a university student and who emerged in the years following the death of Jose Aguirre Gainsborg as the principal leader of the POR.
With the coming to power, in a December 1943 coup, of the government of Major Gualberto Villarroel, the POR was presented with new opportunities. The Miners Federation was revived with the encouragement of the new regime. The principal political groups represented in the leadership of the revived Federation were the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) and the POR. The MNR had been a partner with a group of young military officers in the coup of December 1943 and it was represented in the government during most of the Villarroel regime.
The executive secretary of the Mining Federation during most of this period was Juan Lechin Oquendo, a member of the MNR. (He was to remain the Miners' executive secretary for more than forty years.) Although the POR fought bitterly against the MNR within the Miners Federation during the Villarroel period, it usually exempted Lechin from its attack on his party and a rather special relationship developed between the POR and the miners' chief.
With the overthrow of the Villarroel regime in July 1946, relations between the POR and the MNR became closer. In elections in January 1947 a Miners Bloc was formed which included elements of these two parties, and it succeeded in electing Juan Lechin and a Trotskyist, Lucio Mendivil, as senators, as well as four Movimientistas and three members of the POR to the Chamber of Deputies. One of these POR members was Guillermo Lora.
Meanwhile, the Miners Federation had held an extraordinary congress in the town of Pulacayo in November 1946. That congress adopted a thoroughly Trotskyist statement of principles for the Miners Federation, which came to be known as the Pulacayo Thesis. It proclaimed the inexorable nature of the class struggle and specifically endorsed the concept of permanent revolution in which the dictatorship of the proletariat, supported by the peasants and lower middle class, would simultaneously carry out the bourgeois-democratic and socialist revolutions."
So we can see in Bolivia they held quite a bit of power, Eventually they would fall into splits and adopt weird positions.
I don't want to go into the full explanation of why the 4th international collapsed. here, but I will link a good article that goes over it.
Of course the fact Trotskyism was able to spread this wide I consider quick remarkable considering that compared to the Comintern parties they had no governments backing them, things had to be translated by various people compared to the huge publishing house which produced the Cominterns documents in just dozens and dozens of languages.
Where Trotskyism is Today
In the modern era I want to look at a few Orthodox-Trotskyist Parties and look at where they have sections
League for the Fifth International
Along side smaller groupings in Ireland and Lebanon
Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International
International Marxist Tendency
Committee for a Workers' International
International Workers League – Fourth International
Official Sections
Sympathizing Sections
So to this day Trotskyist parties while these might not be huge in various countries, we still organize internationally our parties exist internationally and have members across the globe. Many of these groups are not without issue, but the idea Trotskyism only has parties in US, UK, Canada and Western Europe is very false.
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