From the October 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
Recognising the class antagonisms that arise from the capitalist ownership of the means of production, the Socialist Party holds that the workers can only solve their problems—poverty, war, unemployment—by the overthrow of the capitalist class and the institution of a system of society based upon the common ownership of the means of living.
That this can only be accomplished by the workers sending a majority of Socialist delegates to Parliament is a fact recognised by the S.P.G.B. Thus, in order to do this, the workers must themselves understand Socialism, or, in other words, become Socialists. The S.P.G.B. therefore devotes itself to the unspectacular business of educating the workers—the making of Socialists. When the workers become Socialists they will change the basis of society. Thus the policy of the Party is revolutionary, because it follows the only course that will produce the change.
The Trotskyists, known variously throughout their history as the Revolutionary Socialist League, the Militant Communist League, etc., also claim to be the only revolutionary party in this country.
To examine this claim it is necessary to go back a few years to explain briefly the origin of the Trotskyists. The Russian Revolution in 1917 resulted in the political supremacy of the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky. The breakdown of Russian society after World War No. 1 and the inability of the Russian capitalists under Kerensky to deal with the situation resulted in the Bolsheviks being swept into power on a programme of Peace, Land and Bread. The S.P.G.B., basing its analysis of the situation upon the material conditions existing at the time in Russia, pointed out that the Bolsheviks, in spite of their Marxist phrases, could not impose Socialism upon an economically backward country, and that Russia would have to go through a stage of capitalism before a Socialist society could be possible in Russia, and then only in conjunction with the class-conscious workers of the rest of the capitalist world.
After the death of Lenin, the Bolsheviks divided into two rival factions under Stalin and Trotsky. Stalin believed in the possibility of establishing Socialism in one country, whilst Trotsky still believed that the Russian Revolution could be the starting point of a world revolution. The material needs of Russia, living in a capitalist world, resulted in the victory of Stalin, the expulsion of Trotsky, and the building up of a strong pro-capitalist state in Russia.
That the Soviet Union has now a firm place in the capitalist sun and has dropped the facade of Communism, such as the Comintern, is proof of the correctness of the S.P.G.B. method of analysis—historical materialism. This is not the method of the Trotskyists, despite their revolutionary jargon. Their conception of history is just a belief that working-class politics is a game of leaders, that the revolution would have taken place but for the fact that the workers were betrayed by their leaders, that Stalin “betrayed the revolution.” This surface scratching of history is typical of Trotskyist literature. According to them, every political upheaval, every wave of strikes, would have resulted in the revolution but for the fact that workers lacked “revolutionary leadership.”
The revolution is always round the corner. They believe that one day a “ revolutionary situation ” will arise in which they will seise power and lead the masses to victory. This wearisome nonsense abounds in the columns of the Socialist Appeal (the Trotskyist organ).
It is obvious that there is something lacking in a working class that is continually side-tracked. It is precisely because the workers lack Socialist knowledge that reformist leaders rise to power. If the workers’ leaders do not represent the interests of workers, they do certainly reflect the outlook of the workers. When they do acquire Socialist understanding, the workers will not require leaders—revolutionary or otherwise.
Due to the Trotskyist belief in “revolutionary situations,” no explanations of the nature of Socialism will be found in the columns of the Socialist Appeal. As the revolution will take place at any moment, there is no need for this painstaking work. The line of their propaganda is rather like the instructions of a general staff to its army—“Second Front—and the tasks of the working class,” “Workers must fight for equal pay,” etc.
In spite of their claims to be revolutionary, their official policy contains the usual reformist nonsense, such as the “Nationalisation of the land, mines, banks, transport and all big industry." "A rising scale of wages to meet increased cost of living." "Confiscation of war profits," etc.
The Trotskyist attitude to the war is vague and ill-defined. Whilst denouncing the war as imperialist, they want the "unconditional defence of the Soviet Union against all imperialist powers, despatch of arms, food and essential materials to the Soviet Union."
The Trotskyist claim to be revolutionary is ill-founded. Once again we insist that the S.P.G.B. method is the only revolutionary one, and we will continue to do what the Trotskyists do not do—advocate Socialism as the only cure for social ills.