The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bourgeois militarism and the working class

Useful note from a comrade on Facebook today:

When thinking about the current struggle in Kobani, the part played by US imperialism and the wider civil war in Syria, I found the following "suggestion" from bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky:

"..An irreconcilable attitude against bourgeois militarism does not signify at all that the proletariat in ALL CASES [Trotsky's emphasis] enters into a struggle against its own 'national' army. At least the workers would not interfere with soldiers who are extinguishing a fire or rescuing drowning people during a flood; on the contrary, they would help side by side with the soldiers and fraternize with them. And the question is not exhausted merely by cases of elemental calamities. If the French fascists should make an attempt today at a COUP D'ETAT and the Daladier government found itself forced to move troops against the fascists, the revolutionary workers, while maintaining their complete political independence, would fight against the fascists alongside of these troops. Thus in a number of cases the workers are forced not only to permit and tolerate, but actively to support the practical measures of the bourgeois government.

"In ninety cases out of a hundred the workers actually place a minus sign where the bourgeoisie places a plus sign. In ten cases however they are forced to fix the same sign as the bourgeoisie but with their own seal, in which is expressed their mistrust of the bourgeoisie. The policy of the proletariat is not at all automatically derived from the policy of the bourgeoisie, bearing only the opposite sign – this would make every sectarian a master strategist; no, the revolutionary party must each time orient itself INDEPENDENTLY in the internal as well as the external situation, arriving at those decisions which correspond best to the interests of the proletariat. This rule applies just as much to the war period as to the period of peace."

-- from "Learn to Think - A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra-Leftists" by Leon Trotsky (can be found in the July 1938 issue of New International magazine).

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