In an article in the “YENİ DÜNYA İÇİN ÇAĞRI” written about the October Revolution event organized in the Esenyurt South Cultural Center on Sunday 28th of October, the arguments in the panel discussion are written as follows:
“An idea that came out from the discussions was the question ‘Did the October Revolution have no mistakes to go along with its accomplishments?’. A friend who was taking part from the KÖZ periodical explained that the accomplishments of the revolution only spanned the duration of the first four congresses of the Communist International, and after this time the party in the leadership of Stalin strayed from the right path and got corrupted. Another participant stated that this view was used to slander Stalin and to belitle the accomplishments of the revolution, and that the party fell into revisionism not after the first four congresses but after the 19th congress and with the 20th congress. He added that although many mistakes were committed they were mundane mistakes which were understandable given the conditions at the time,and that these mistakes were later reviewed and self criticism was conducted by the party.He likewise stated that in the early phases of the revolution, a type of revolution which had just arrived in the historical stage mistakes were understandable,and that what was important was to learn from these mistakes and he thought the Soviets actually were able to learn from their mistakes”
A lot of points has to be corrected in this article. Going over these points will give KöZ a fresh opportunity to bring into the open its views on the revolutionary tradition.
LIQUADATION CANNOT BE CARRIED OUT SOLELY BY INDIVIDUALS OR CLIQUES
Liquadators are those who get rapt up in the rising hegemonic wave to dismantle their organization, however generally this group does not have the capacity to actively plan this act. Although this should not mean that liquadators do not have a general plan that guides them, in the main they are mostly swept up by the counterrevolutionary and liberal current rather than putting their own stamp on events. In this case as in so many other cases the muppet master who moves the props are more interesting to identify than the things that are going on the stage. The muppet master in our case is of course non other than the bourgeoisie and very varied means of class rule it has in its disposal that the bourgeoisie has employed time and time again to break up the organizations of the proletariat.
It is mainly for this reason that identifying a liquadation process by the names of certain liquadators is to watch the muppet show on the stage without remembering to look for the hands that guide them,and it also opens the door for an analysis which explains the corruption and disappearance of revolutionary organizations by objective conditions, which are in our case the activities of the bourgeiosie to break up the revolutionary activities. However we will always have to remember that the revolutionary organizations were not only built with the full information about the characteristics of the bourgeoisie and its form of rule,but also in complete defiance of it.
In a world where the bourgeoisie reign, liquadation is not a result of the ‘talent’ of the liquadators, they signal the deficiencies of the revolutionaries who could not stop this process at its tracks,and take effective precautions against the actions of the liquadators. It is the mistake of those who wished for a revolutionary party which would have an organizational structure and political activity that would weed out the opportunities ,but could not turn their wish into reality. This is also the point that seperates KOZ from all the other left currents in the country that we inhabit.
Just recently, in the articles about the liquadation of TDKP (Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey) that was printed on the pages of KOZ and the panels that were organized, the point was made that that the liquadation of the TDKP was not the doing of the “TDKP chiefs” but was caused by the mistaken approach of the THKO (People’s Liberation Army of Turkey) and TDKP militants which did not show the proper initiative to create the revolutionary party and to keep on the revolutionary path.
“In the Leadership of Stalin the Party Erred” is a statement that will lead to error in the Fight Against Opportunism
Frankly we do not think that Çaðrý was fighting with imaginary enemies when they talked about the groups which constantly talked about “The Communist Party corrupting itself and erring under the stewardship of Stalin”. Indeed these statements are oft repeated by the trockist and the euro-communist camps when the trajectory of the Communist International and the Soviet Union is being discussed. Fernando Claudin gave the most textbook example of this approach in his book “From the Comintern to the Cominform” which was translated to Turkish just as the wave of liquadation was seeping through the revolutionary organizations in Turkey. And these statements are not even monopolized even by these groups. For instance H. Fýrat who wrote a paper on the historical problems of socialism offered the same conclusion when analyzing the Soviet Republic although he did not write a rejoinder to his paper probably because he realized his analysis was getting dangerously close to the approach of the Trotskyists. Thankfully, though the idea that you had to be clear on the “problems of socialism” in order to create a revolutionary party was appropriately shelved after the establishment of TKIP(The Communist Workers Party of Turkey).
What these analysis have in common is the idea that in the Stalin period the Communist International with “bolshevization” strategies was converted into a satellite that moved in accordance with the interests of the Soviet Union in the international stage.It is stated that the Soviet Republic chose to make peace with the imperialist countries or was forced into these peace settlements, and that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which reigned over its territory stopped the communist parties from the other countries to make revolutions in their own countries.
In fact this view is completely false. The source of opportunism was not the bolsheviks which overthrew Tsarist Russia to take the first step towards proletarian victory in the age of “imperialism and proletarian revolution”, but the European and first and foremost the German parties which could not break away from centrism in the imperialist war.It is hardly a coincidence that the the German Delegation was the part that was least motivated to take part in the establishment of the Communist International.In spite of all the purification and bolshevization campaigns that were conducted in the inception of the Communist International and its first congresses the opportunist strains in these European parties could not be weeded out.
Consequently the opportunist movement established its organization and political style as the dominant one in the Communist International. Firstly as in every party which has started on the path to liquadation the congress stopped to convene in the frequency that was stipulated by party statute, then the control of the centre of the Communist International on the national sections started to dwindle,and finally the International was abolished without even finding a need to convene a congress.
This approach is clearly not the approach of Bolsheviks who regularly and frequently convened congresses and conferences even when the counter revolution was at its strongest and the revolutionary were the most vulnerable. It should be clear that unlike what the trotskyist and the euro-communists think what brought the International to its unsatisfactory end was not the bolsheviziation of the International, but the inability of revolutionaries to bolshevize it.
It is for this reason that stating that “The Party in the stewardship of Stalin started to err”is a way of hiding the takeover of the Communist International by Second International Socialism. This statement contains the style and the language of people who are more interested in refraining from giving a serious political struggle against opportunism rather than actually fighting vigilantly with opportunism.
KOZ’s Statements Mirror Its Actions
KOZ is a organization that refrains from dissumulations,and gives vital importance to doing what it actually says, and saying what it actually does. This position of KOZ has not come into question up until today. In accordance with this: if the plan of KOZ was to “slander Stalin” nobody should doubt that it would have done this in the most direct way rather than choosing indirect,timid or shady methods. If KOZ thought about putting Stalin on the firing range, or conducting anti-Stalinist propaganda it would have carried out these aims with boldness, and would have proclaimed its aims for the world to know.
Additionally there are many anti-stalinist movements on the left spectrum, most notably the Trotskyist organizations, which would have defended the first four congresses as KOZ does if this was a fashionable way to go after Stalin and his legacy. However, among these movements those who own up to the inheritance of the four congresses,even only in words is a small minority.
Why doesn’t KOZ struggle against ‘Stalinism’ the way it struggles with Trotskyism?
KOZ does not approach Stalinism differently because it gives different importance to the personal characteristics of Trotsky and Stalin, and this also should not be taken to mean that KOZ allocates the responsibility of the liquadation of the Bolshevik Party differently between Stalin,Trotsky and Zinoviev or any section that used to exist within the Bolshevik Party at the time of the revolution.KOZ does not give any importance to the individuals role’s in the liquadation of the Communist International.What is important is to observe that there was a lack of an organizational force at that time which fought with opportunism while staying true to the principles and perspectives that were established in the first four congresses of the Communist International.In the absence of such an organized counter force, all the mistakes that were committed against the current of opportunism are casual mistakes. It is a wasteof time and resources to concentrate on these mistakes.
On the other hand there is a very simple reason why KOZ mentions Trotskyism but not Stalinism. Today there are many organizations of differing sizes within and outside Turkey which define themselves as Trotskyist in their party documents and their political struggles. However there is no political movement that self-defines itself as Stalinist.Moreover the past that these organizations link themselves to does not contain the label of Stalinist.
Although the label of ‘Stalinist’ is also used by the Trotskyist groups it was mainly a concept invented by the bourgeoisie and its lackeys to assault bolshevizm.The characteristics that are seen by the bourgeoisie as the defining characteristics of stalinism are all qualities that were brought into the communist movement by the help of Lenin and the Bolsheviks:A party with an iron discipline, armed with a philosophy of centralism,that influenced and intervened in the class struggle by supplying the struggle with consciousness from the outside… Similarly stalinism is also blamed with the use of violence on its class enemies a violence that is orchestrated by the proletarian dictatorship.Bourgeoisie who are unwilling to take on the ideas revolutionary party and proletarian dictatorship, try to discredit these ideas by organizing anti-stalinist campaigns, and by talking about “Stalin’s crime against humanity, despotism”.
For the same underlying reasons, whenever a revolutionary movement gives a critique of ‘stalinism’ it also severes its connections with leninism and the proletarian dictatorship, they stray away from a militant line of struggle and become mere caricatures of petty liberals.This is not surprising since the anti-stalinist campaign of the bourgeiosie are primarily designed to reach this end point.
“Stalinism” is a concept created in the service of the bourgeoisie. When fighting against wrong tendecies within the left the revolutionaries should be wary of using the ideological concepts of the bourgeoisie,just as they are wary of using the bourgeoisie police, and the bourgeiosie courts and the methods of the bourgeoisie.
The fact that Trotskyists use the term of “Stalinism” does not mean that it is an acceptable part of the leftist vernacular. In fact the increase in the usage of this term by the Trotskyists after the second world war is the direct consequence of these movements exposure to the anti-bolshevik campaigns raised in the metropoles ofimperialism,campaigns that were hidden in the guise of anti-stalinism.The opportunist nature of these Trotskyite movements could be most easily understand by the fact that rather than trying to shield themselves and the left against these campaigns,they passively succumbed to these campaigns and even worse they actively sought returns from these campaigns.
In contrast Trotskyism, just like maoism is a concept that is often used within the leftist groups, and it is a concept that is accepted and circulated by both trotskyists and its adversaries.So the use of this concept cannot be seen as equivalent to the use of the word “stalinism”. Our newspaper KOZ from its inception has had many chances to diagnose certain trotskyist tendencies and has fought vigorously against these tendencies. In the future, this paper following the same principles might criticize maoism. But the pages of KOZ will never contain a similar criticism against “stalinism”.
Moreover the point can also be made that the revolutionary vernacular is already rich enough and it gains nothing from the inclusion of the term “stalinism”. If for example we want a word that will explain the tendency to side with an imperialist power against another imperialist power in an imperialist war,that word is opportunism or social imperialism. The blurring of the lines between the revolutionary organization and the organization of the masses is economism. To renounce the right of the Kurdish nation for self determination citing the fear that they will cooperate with imperialism is called social chauvinism. Or for example the abolishment of the worldwide Leninist party alluding to the fact that the conditions are not ripe is called liquadationism. KOZ has used these words quite frequently and without any hesitation.
WHERE THE PATH OF TROTSKYISM INTERSECTS WITH ANTI-REVISIONISM
KOZ, which has appropriately established the turning points and the inflection points of the organizational history of the communist movement according to the Leninist organizational principles,does not find any need to “slander the name of Stalin” or the define itself as “anti-stalinist”. However,this is exactly the point that brings the two thought currents that have always been in confrontation together.This is because both trotskyist and the anti-revisionist movements trace their histories not by putting organizations at the crux of their analysis but by concentrating on individuals. Trotskyite movements make Stalin the spacegoat of their story whereas the anti-revisionist parties see the defeat as the result of the intrigues of Khruschev and its clique.Using a individual-centric thought framwork both come to results that are the mirror image of one another: both analysis unnecessarily glorify certain characters and unnecessarily belittle others.
This condition creates many contradictions of its own. For instance Stalin and Trotsky which have been labelled as opportunists by different sides of the debate, were actually together with Lenin were members of the party that led the masses to the October Revolution. The same can be said for the relationship between Stalin and Khruschev. Then we must accept that opportunists and revolutionaries can exist within the same party. However, this contradicts the foundational principles of the Communist International which saw the organizational partition from opportunism as a necessity.
Quite similarly in the lands that we inhabit there are many who see the reformisation of TKP (Communist Party of Turkey) as a consequence of Sefik Husnu taking the place of Mustafa Suphi in the leadership of the party after Mustafa Suphi was murdered. Moreover all the people who make this observation also take the step of denouncing and reprobating the tradition that is represented in the person of Sefik Husnu and the party that was molded in this tradition and built on these lines.However nobody seems to realize that this approach is in complete contradiction with owning up to the tradition of the International which the TKP of Sefik Husnu was a part of and which defined the political line that Sefik Husnu’s TKP will follow. In other words those who forget that the same individuals will follow different political lines when they become part of different political organizations and thereby put undue importance to individuals and not the organizations that have created them,see no cause for alarm in the fact that opportunities and revolutionaries coexist within the same organizational structure.
For KOZ no such problem exists. This is because KOZ does not see the caps of revolutionary, communist, opportunist or reformist as things befitting the head of persons ,but the head of political organizations, no matter if these caps are meant as rewards or insults. In this sense the usage of these terms do not mean we inherit or disinherit the tradition of people but the the tradition of organizations.
When KOZ says that its main guiding light will be the first four congresses of the Communist International it is very well aware that Stalin and Trotsky were members and militants of this party, working within the discipline of the Bolshevik Party. However this should not lead to the conclusion that the congresses following the fourth congress ,because the congresses were attended by Stalin, or the Leftist Opposition and the Fourth International,because it contained Trotsky, are just as valid guidelines of bolshevism for the revolutionaries of today. In fact quite the opposite is true,the political paths followed by Stalin and Trotsky after the Fourth Congress was largely determined by the organizations that they partook in.
As a result of this the question that must be answered by the organizations who criticize the perspective of KOZ in relation to the first four congresses is simple and obvious: Which organization armed with which political practices and decisions after the first four congresses serve as a model for creating and keeping in place a revolutionary party? Without answering this burning question, criticizing those who espouse the first four congressess serves no purpose other than to cloud the issue of revolutionary tradition in the mind of the revolutionaries.