Letter to the Internationalist Group
Stalinists and Counterrevolution
International Bolshevik Tendency
9 September 2004
In your recent article ("Post-Soviet SL/ICL: New Zigzags on the Centrist Road," Internationalist No. 19) you falsely characterize our position on the Stalinists role in the destruction of the Soviet bloc:
Unlike the SL, we never asserted that the Stalinists led the counterrevolution in the DDR or anywhere else. This position was just the flip side of the ICLs earlier political adaptation to the Stalinist bureaucracy:
"In this period [the winter of 1989-90] the ICL did not focus on attacking [DDR prime minister] Modrow as a sellout whom the workers must sweep away in defense of the DDR. Instead, they criticized him only in passing ."
This was a critical mistake:
"The right won on the ground, while confusion prevailed among the more politically conscious workers who trusted the honest, reformed Stalinists. This is why the Modrow regime was especially dangerous, and why it was imperative to warn the workers against it."
The ICLs opportunist course reached its nadir with James Robertsons ludicrous attempt to arrange private meetings with Soviet General B.V. Snetkov, DDR master spy Markus Wolf and SED/PDS party leader Gregor Gysi. This initiative was so grotesquely opportunist that neither the IG nor the SL dare defend it today.
We addressed your objection to our focus on criticism of the Stalinists in a December 1996 letter to you:
"The complaint that we directed most of our criticism at the SED/PDS instead of the openly restorationist SPD [Social Democratic Party] and the bourgeois parties recalls the centrists objections to Trotsky concentrating his political attacks on the Popular Front, and particularly on its far-left component, the POUM [Workers Party of Marxist Unification], during the Spanish Civil War. After all, was not Franco the main enemy? The same criticisms were made of Lenin in 1917, when the Bolsheviks directed most of their polemics at the fake-left misleaders rather than the Tsarists, Black Hundreds and other open counterrevolutionaries. This is of course A-B-C for Trotskyists, but the talk of the main enemy in the DDR perhaps makes it worth reiterating."
We also reminded you of Trotskys parallel observation in his 1940 article "Stalin After the Finnish Experience":
"I consider the main source of danger to the USSR in the present international period to be Stalin and the oligarchy headed by him. An open struggle against them, in the view of world public opinion, is inseparably connected for me with the defense of the USSR."
You claim that the logic of our position is that "Stalinism is counterrevolutionary through and through," but you can cite no proof, because there is none. In our 1996 letter we observed that, contrary to the SL, "Norden/Stamberg are quite right that the Stalinist bureaucracy is not able to lead counterrevolution without fracturing." We made this point repeatedly during the critical period. For example, in a 1990 polemic against Tony Cliffs state capitalist organization we wrote:
We made the same point in attacking Workers Powers Stalinophobia:
The IG will go nowhere if it insists on attacking political opponents for positions that they do not hold. Revolutionaries do not play with the truth. As Trotsky observed, a viable revolutionary organization can only be built by being "true in little things as in big ones."
Posted: 12 September 2004