International Committee of the Fourth International
Fourth International Vol. 15 No. 2 (June 1988)


On Monday, June 13, an article appeared in Izvestia announcing that the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union had met and declared that all those accused of crimes against the state in the Moscow Trials of 1936 and 1937 were, in fact, innocent of all the charges brought against them. Some 50 years after they had been found guilty, condemned to death, and executed, the Soviet Union has publicly admitted that the Moscow Trial defendants were the victims of political murder.

The rehabilitation of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, and Pyatakov is an event with profound historical implications. For once and for all, the political legitimacy of Stalinism has been blasted to pieces. It shall be remembered forever as the perpetrator of the most terrible crimes against the working class and Marxism. The repudiation of the Moscow Trials is the final proof that Stalinism is responsible for the physical annihilation of the finest representatives of international socialism, of Lenin’s comrades-in-arms who led the greatest revolution in history.

The full historical magnitude of the rehabilitations is, of course, not indicated in the reports which appeared in the capitalist press. Such matters are generally treated as ancient history, which have very little bearing upon contemporary political events. But within the Soviet Union, the statements on the rehabilitation of the Old Bolsheviks are being read by tens of millions; and what they have read will not satisfy them. It is not enough for the Soviet regime to pronounce the victims of the Moscow Trials innocent. If they were innocent, then those who played a part in their execution were murderers. And it is only logical that the demand will be raised for the release of the files of the KGB and the exposure and punishment of the guilty. Nor will it stop there: Stalin’s purges were organized in the name of the struggle against “counterrevolutionary Trotskyism.” Indeed, the monstrous political physiognomy of the Soviet bureaucracy took shape in the fight to purge Trotskyism from the Russian Communist Party, and the outcome of that struggle was the complete destruction of what had been the Bolshevik Party and the creation of a totalitarian dictatorship.

Thus, history has finally caught up with Stalinism and its crimes. The Stalinist bureaucracy has sought for decades to legitimize its usurpation of political power from the working class through the wholesale falsification of the history of the October Revolution and the Soviet Union. Now the whole rotten structure of lies is collapsing. Millions of Soviet workers and intellectuals are now learning of the crimes that were committed against the leaders of the revolution and against hundreds of thousands of dedicated communists who opposed the betrayals of Stalinism.

The Fourth International, which has fought so implacably since the day of its foundation in 1938 to expose the crimes of Stalinism, cannot but welcome the rehabilitation of the Old Bolsheviks. It would be a mark of political blindness, not to mention callous indifference to the claims of history, not to appreciate the immense implications of the repudiation of the Moscow Trials. The belated repudiation of the Moscow Trials, the rehabilitation of its victims, and the admission that the Bolshevik leaders murdered by Stalin were not guilty of a single crime against the Soviet Union represent, regardless of the intentions and maneuvers of Gorbachev, a blow from which no faction of the Stalinist bureaucracy can recover. The monstrous falsifications which constituted the principal weapon of the bureaucracy in its war against Trotskyism—that is, genuine Marxism—have been exposed and discredited.

There is no question that the exoneration of the Old Bolsheviks and the public denunciations of Stalin’s crimes express and are the product of the greatest crisis in the Soviet bureaucracy since the death of the psychopathic dictator in 1953. The polarization of Soviet society between the working class and the parasitic bureaucracy has reached a level of unprecedented intensity. Indeed, all the essential elements of a prerevolutionary situation—a nationwide crisis affecting all layers of society, the inability of the ruling circles to rule in the old way, and the unwillingness of the ruled to accept the existing conditions—are rapidly maturing in the USSR. Precisely for this reason the central responsibility confronting the Fourth International is to arm the Soviet and international working class with a clear understanding of the nature of this crisis and the policies which it must develop in order to complete the destruction of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

It is first of all necessary to make clear that the International Committee of the Fourth International does not “credit” these rehabilitations to Gorbachev or any other section of the Stalinist bureaucracy. One has only to recall that as recently as November 1987, in his speech commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Gorbachev specifically praised Stalin’s “contributions” to socialism while viciously denouncing Leon Trotsky. This only illustrates that the recent rehabilitations do not arise from any principled opposition on the part of Gorbachev to Stalinism and its crimes, but reflect empirical adaptations on the part of sections of the bureaucracy to the pressure of objective circumstances which are beyond its direct control.

Moreover, the International Committee places no confidence whatsoever in the Gorbachev leadership and rejects entirely the claim now being made by renegades from Trotskyism that the policies of glasnost and perestroika represent, to a lesser or greater extent, the realization of the political revolution against the Stalinist bureaucracy. Indeed, the International Committee maintains that the policies of Gorbachev, far from representing a break with Stalinism and a revival of Marxism, are gravely undermining the surviving conquests of the October Revolution and paving the way for the restoration of capitalist relations in the USSR. These very real dangers can only be surmounted through the independent mobilization of the Soviet working class against the bureaucracy in a genuine political revolution. All those forces which come forward today in opposition to this Trotskyist perspective—whether to minimize the reactionary character of Gorbachev’s policies, to deny its organic roots in the nationalist program of Stalinism, or even to claim that it represents the political revolution—are serving the most essential political interests of the Stalinist bureaucracy and its imperialist masters.

There is a profound historical connection between the growth of opportunist tendencies inside the Fourth International and the deepening crisis of Stalinism. It was by no means an accident that the emergence of Pabloite revisionism in 1951-53 coincided with the first great political eruptions within the Soviet bureaucracy. As long as imperialism could fully rely upon the Soviet bureaucracy to police the international working class and block the development of revolutionary tendencies within it, there was no immediate social need for a conciliationist or even pro-Stalinist tendency within the Fourth International. However, the increasingly open crisis of Stalinism from the late 1940s changed this situation. In the form of Pabloite revisionism, with its theory of bureaucratic self-reform, imperialism had developed new ideological and political mechanisms for deflecting the potentially revolutionary movement of the working class against Stalinism.

It would not be hard to demonstrate, based on an examination of the historical record, that the specific role of Pabloism has been to facilitate the self-protective maneuvers of the Soviet bureaucracy by promoting the illusion that one or another faction within it is, under the pressure of the masses, breaking with Stalinism, evolving toward Trotskyism, and carrying through, albeit with its own methods, the program of the political revolution.

For example, in the midst of the crisis produced by the sudden death of Stalin in March 1953, Pablo suggested that the liquidation of the Stalinist regime would be realized through “violent inter-bureaucratic struggles between elements who will fight for the status quo, if not for turning back, and the more numerous elements drawn by the powerful pressure of the masses.” As Cannon correctly explained, in his Open Letter which issued the call for the founding of the International Committee, “This line fills the orthodox program of political revolution against the Kremlin bureaucracy with a new content; namely, the revisionist position that the ‘ideas’ and ‘program’ of Trotskyism will filter into and permeate the bureaucracy, or a decisive section of it, thus ‘overthrowing’ Stalinism in an unforeseen way.”

The perspective of Pablo led inexorably to the conclusion that there existed no reason for the independent existence of the Fourth International, inasmuch as revolutionary anti-Stalinist tendencies were forming within the Soviet bureaucracy. Indeed, in the period leading up to the 1953 split within the Fourth International, the Pabloites actively sought the liquidation of the Trotskyist movement into the Stalinist parties. And though the formation of the International Committee compelled the Pabloites to retreat from their more extreme practical proposals, their attention remained concentrated on the development of progressive tendencies within the Stalinist bureaucracy.

Following Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, the Pabloites became even more explicit in their claims that revolutionary tendencies were gaining strength inside the bureaucracy. Ernest Mandel, the closest collaborator of Pablo in the opportunist International Secretariat, wrote with rapture about “the battle for freedom of thought won at the XXth Congress,” and, referring to Khrushchev and his supporters, asserted, “By destroying in so thorough a fashion the authority of Stalin, the incarnation of all bureaucratic autocracy, they definitely undermined the authority and spirit of bureaucratic command at every level.” The fact that Khrushchev had sent tanks against the workers of Budapest did not at all shake the Pabloites’ faith in the progressive character of the bureaucracy.

In 1958, the Socialist Workers Party, which was by then urging that the International Committee reunify with the Pabloites, denied that the political revolution entailed the violent overthrow of the bureaucracy. Instead, according to Joseph Hansen, “It is much closer to reality to view the program of political revolution as the total series of reforms, gained through militant struggle, culminating in the transfer of power to the workers.” (Emphasis in the original)

Hansen added: “To those fellow socialists who have reached the conclusion that Stalinism must go but are undecided whether or not the bureaucracy can be reformed out of existence, I am quite willing to let the test of further events prove which program and perspective best fits the needs of the workers struggle amidst the new conditions of Soviet life.”

The “new conditions of Soviet life,” which supposedly invalidated Trotsky’s conception of the political revolution as the violent overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy by the armed working class, led politically by the Fourth International, was nothing more than a flattering appraisal of the policies of Khrushchev, whose policies, like those of Gorbachev today, were uncritically accepted and adapted to by the Pabloites.

By the early 1960s, on the eve of the Reunification Congress of the SWP and the Pabloites, Mandel was referring to the different branches of Stalinism in different parts of the world as “the international communist movement” and eagerly anticipating its transformation into a new revolutionary International of which the Pabloites would be a part. Thus, in March 1962, Ernest Mandel, surveying the disputes erupting within the various ruling Stalinist bureaucracies and their allies, made the following astounding analysis:

“It could be asserted that the present debate within the international communist movement reflects revolutionary Marxism in a ‘broken’ way, as the crystal breaks up the sun’s rays into the spectrum of the colors which it contains. All the Trotskyist position[s] are to be found again amongst the various participants in the debate, but no present tendency adopts them all: the Russian liquidate the Stalinist heritage, the Chinese come close to the theory of permanent revolution, the Cubans boldly assert that a Workers’ State must appeal to the proletarians of other countries to extend the revolution internationally, the Yugoslavs explain that management of the factories must be in the hands of workers’ councils, the Italians (and to a lesser extent the Polish) return to the Leninist tradition of free discussion within the Party and the unions, the Albanians proclaim the principle of equality of rights for all Communist Parties, great or small, and necessity for settling disputes through frank and loyal international discussions. Only one basic position of revolutionary Marxism is still not defended by any of these parties, remains a ‘monopoly’ of our Trotskyist movement: the absolute necessity for a revolutionary International, based on democratic centralism, to coordinate and guide the international communist movement.”

Twenty-five years ago, in June 1963, the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, then led by Gerry Healy, Michael Banda, and Cliff Slaughter, rejected reunification with the Pabloites and denounced their capitulation to Stalinism. And yet, today, these same individuals have been, since breaking with the International Committee in 1985-86, transformed into political lackeys of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

Nothing more clearly vindicates the struggle conducted by the International Committee against the opportunism of the leadership of what was once the Workers Revolutionary Party than the position of Healy, Banda and Slaughter toward the Gorbachev regime.

The position of Banda requires no extensive comment inasmuch as he has publicly denounced Trotskyism and proclaimed that Stalin was, after all, a great revolutionary leader. He has explicitly denounced the program of political revolution, declaring that the bureaucracy has played a mighty progressive role in the building of socialism and that both its crimes and its privileges express the working out of historical necessity. In essence, Banda has himself descended to the level of an ideological criminal, and his positions no longer call for a “theoretical” reply. At any rate, The Heritage We Defend stands as the International Committee’s authoritative analysis of Banda’s positions.

Healy, who now is a member of an organization called the “Marxist Party,” still claims to be a Trotskyist. He even pretends that his “Marxist Party” is a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, although it is well known that Healy was expelled from the ICFI in October 1985. However, aside from this significant juridical formality, the positions advanced by Healy today are the exact opposite of those he defended when the International Committee was founded, with his support, in November 1953. He seems not to have noticed that everything he says and writes today is virtually identical to the Pabloite positions which he denounced for several decades.

At a meeting called in London on May 8 to protest the assassination of PLO leader Abu Jihad, Healy declared that “great changes are taking place in the Soviet Union itself, where you have a political revolution under way, of a massive character. That’s the content of Perestroika and Glasnost. That is its content, a political revolution, and I’m one of those who fought for this political revolution for 52 years, ever since I was expelled from the Communist Party of Great Britain.... It’s the greatest moment for us in history, in the Middle East, and throughout the world now. If you think of these questions, then we grasp that we are living in a changing world, a world in which no longer there is Stalin, Brezhnev, and the rest of them. There is a changing world of political revolution interacting with processes in all the national liberation movements” (Quoted from The Marxist Monthly, June 1, 1988, p. 31).

At the same meeting, Healy’s principal associate, Vanessa Redgrave, proclaimed: “The Soviet Union, Perestroika and Glasnost, the banner of the political revolution taking place today, which is setting out to smash the bureaucracy, and it’s [sic] anti-semitism, and it’s the [sic] betrayals of the National Liberation Movements, has just turned down flat the Shultz plan which denied the participation of the PLO in any negotiations or peace conference” (Ibid., p. 33).

In a similar vein, Healy’s Greek toady, Savas Michael, has proclaimed that “the changes in the Soviet Union have strengthened and are strengthening the struggle of the Palestinian people for independence, as well as advancing the unity of the PLO at last year’s meeting of the Palestine National Congress, and inspiring the new agreement of the PLO with the Assad regime against the American Shultz plan.” (Socialist Change, June 18, 1988)

These incredible statements demonstrate the crass cynicism of Healy, Redgrave, and Michael; for as they all know, the PLO has been the most direct victim of Gorbachev’s drive to secure the closest possible working relations with American imperialism and “defuse regional tensions.” The Soviet bureaucracy is conducting intense negotiations to restore diplomatic relations with Israel, and when Arafat visited the USSR last April he was publicly instructed by Gorbachev to respect the “security” and “territorial rights” of Israel. Then, with Gorbachev’s blessing, the Syrian butcher Assad, in a typical act of treachery, broke his “agreement” and deployed forces commanded by Abu Musa to drive Arafat’s Fatah fighters out of the Beirut camps of Sabra and Shatila.

The cynicism of Healy, Redgrave and Michael—who yesterday solicited funds from the PLO but who today betray it in order to cement a more promising relationship with the Kremlin—has a definite political source. Healy has forgotten, and Redgrave never knew, that the Trotskyist indictment of Stalinism is based first and foremost upon the Soviet bureaucracy’s betrayal of the international proletariat and the program of world socialist revolution. The essential political content of the policies introduced by the bureaucracy within the USSR cannot be correctly evaluated except within the context of its international line. This essential aspect of glasnost and perestroika is not commented upon by Healy. But Gorbachev himself has been absolutely explicit in his repudiation of any interest in the fate of socialism beyond the borders of the USSR. In his book Perestroika, Gorbachev insists on “the priority of interests common to all humanity over class interests” (p. 145) and declares that “basing international politics on moral and ethical norms that are common to all humankind, as well as humanizing interstate relations, has become a vital requirement” (p. 141).

Healy has not attempted to explain how this line is in any way different from, let alone superior to, the program of international class collaboration that has been pursued by the Stalinist bureaucracy for more than a half-century. Nor does he offer any concrete evaluation of the social and economic policies being carried out by the bureaucracy under the banner of perestroika. Instead, he relies on the buffoon Michael, who brazenly asserted, “It is an unsupported anticommunist slander, the contention of all those apologists for capitalism and Stalinism that Perestroika is supposedly—‘capitalist restoration.’ On the contrary, it is the enemies of Perestroika, from Kissinger up to the revisionists, who wish the bureaucracy to remain untouched, in order to undermine the economic foundations of the USSR and the conquests of October” {Socialist Change, June 18, 1988).

Michael does not try to explain how world imperialism advances its interests by falsely attributing procapitalist policies to the Gorbachev regime. Does Michael expect his readers to believe that the unanimous praise of Gorbachev by every imperialist leader and the exuberant promotion of glasnost and perestroika in the pages of the international capitalist press are really part of some devilishly complex conspiracy aimed at discrediting Gorbachev?

During the past year the basic thrust of Gorbachev’s economic program has become absolutely clear. An unprecedented assault on the planned economy, the nationalized property relations, and the living standards of the Soviet working class is now underway. The main economic advisers of Gorbachev—Tatiana Zaslavskaia, Nikolai Schmelyov and Leonid Albalkin—have written extensively on the need to utilize unemployment as a means of disciplining the working class and have urged the privatization of large sections of the Soviet economy. All of them are quite blunt about encouraging the growth of social differentiation inside the Soviet Union. In his own comments on perestroika, Gorbachev has savagely denounced “leveling” tendencies within Soviet society which oppose the accumulation of personal wealth.

Bourgeois economists have easily grasped the significance of Gorbachev’s program. In a major study published by the liberal Brookings Institution, entitled Reforming the Soviet Economy—Equality versus Efficiency, Ed A. Hewett notes the “increasing frank public reconsideration of the basic foundations underlying economic security in the USSR. Aside from unemployment, the main issues under discussion are bankruptcy, income inequality, and—a closely related issue—the proper role for private economic activity in a socialist country.... The evidence is now fairly strong, although still for the most part circumstantial, that some people in the Soviet Union are now willing to argue openly that the threat of unemployment provides a useful, possibly indispensable, tool that Soviet enterprises might use to increase the productivity of those workers who are not working anywhere near their potential” (p. 293).

Summing up the Gorbachev program, Hewett—who writes as a friendly adviser of the bureaucracy and who clearly had personal access to high government officials in the preparation of his book—concludes that it is “clearly emerging as a radical reform, at least in its intentions. Centrally determined annual plans are eliminated; private and cooperative economic activity is being encouraged in some sectors; enterprises can go bankrupt, and workers can lose their jobs; prices are to take on a flexibility they have not had since the New Economic Policy (NEP); money is to develop as a true medium of exchange...” (p. 325).

The most important action taken by the bureaucracy has been the introduction and ratification of the Draft Law on Cooperatives. The term “cooperatives” is a euphemism for private corporations, and their formation is being explicitly encouraged in all sectors of the economy. The draft law repeatedly pledges to defend the “property interests” of the cooperative owners, declaring that it is “inviolable and enjoys state protection. It is protected by law on a par with state property.” The draft law states that a cooperative “may own buildings, structures, machines, equipment, transportation facilities, productive and draft livestock, end products, monetary resources and other property meeting its purposes.” Moreover, the formation of a cooperative “does not require any special permit from the government, economic or other authorities.”

The law gives to the cooperatives the right to hire workers. As in any capitalist country, the cooperatives “may contract labor, the pay subject to mutual agreement and free from caps.... Working day duration and routine, regular and extra days-off, and other conditions shall be subject to the in-house regulations of the cooperative.” The bureaucracy is planning to create a vast supply of unemployed workers who will be compelled to sell their labor to these Soviet corporations through the deliberate bankrupting of vast sections of state industry. The law declares, “State agencies shall establish cooperatives on the basis of small or mediumsize manufacturing, agricultural, building and other organizations closed through losses, insolvency, absence of demand.... They may transfer property of the losers to operating or projected cooperatives.” It is not hard to foresee that bureaucrats, recognizing the chance for realizing their personal fortunes (or that of their relatives) through the conversion of the juiciest portions of state industry into cooperatives, will take advantage of this law to obtain control of what had previously been inviolable state property.

The draft law permits the cooperatives to link up with world capitalism, declaring, “Large cooperatives and their alliances which are competitive internationally may be allowed to transact export and import businesses by themselves.... Cooperatives and their alliances may use foreign exchange to import commodities and services to develop production, trade and social amenities.” Further on, it states, “Cooperatives and their alliances shall decide, together with their foreign partners, on the specialization of joint enterprises and the volume and pattern of production, proceeding from demand, prices and other market factors. Joint enterprises may be situated in this country or elsewhere.... Soviet cooperatives and their alliances may participate in the activities of international cooperative organizations.” Finally, the law proclaims, “Citizens’ constitutional right to unite in cooperatives shall be guaranteed by the USSR’s economic system, recognition of the cooperatives’ ownership of the means of production and other statutory property, and state encouragement of cooperatives.”

The developments within the Soviet Union are a striking confirmation of the very scenario envisaged by Trotsky when he discussed the probable forms that the restoration of capitalism would take: “First of all, it would be necessary to create conditions for the development of strong farmers from the weak collective farms, and for converting the strong collectives into producers’ cooperatives of the bourgeois type—into agricultural stock companies. In the sphere of industry, denationalization would begin with light industries and those producing food. The planning principle would be converted for the transitional period into a series of compromises between state power and individual ‘corporations’—potential proprietors, that is, among Soviet captain industry” (Revolution Betrayed).

With Healy and Michael, opportunism has degenerated to such an extent that it bestows the term “political revolution” to the open attempts by the bureaucracy to sabotage the planned economy and promote the growth of capitalist relations in the Soviet Union!

Opportunism takes another, and in some ways, an even more insidious form, in that wing of the anti-ICFI renegades led by Cliff Slaughter. While taking somewhat more care than Healy in attempting to preserve their “Trotskyist” credentials, the Slaughterite renegades wind up with essentially the same position—giving political support to Gorbachev. In the July 2, 1988 issue of Workers Press, organ of the Workers Revolutionary Party, Cyril Smith writes, “Gorbachev and his supporters must attempt to enlist the backing of the working class for the revitalization of the economy.” This statement shows that the Slaughterites accept uncritically and at face value the claims of the bureaucracy. Lacking any proletarian perspective, Smith does not take the trouble to examine the actual content of such a vacuous abstraction as “the revitalization of the economy.” As a professor at the London School of Economics, he surely must realize that the concept of “revitalization” will mean one thing to a bourgeois economist who defends private ownership of the means of production and quite another to a Marxist.

However, like Healy and Michael, the Slaughterites do not concern themselves with a concrete examination of Gorbachev’s policies. Instead, Smith asserts:

It is Gorbachev’s attempted transformation of the economy which has led some tendencies which claim to be Trotskyist to condemn him for ‘restoring capitalism.’

This is a rejection of Trotsky’s conception of Soviet economy. He explained clearly that, precisely because of the relatively low development of industry, it cannot do without the market mechanism, in combination with state planning and workers’ democracy.

Even more important, this attitude implies that support should be given to Gorbachev’s more ‘conservative’ opponents. Instead of grasping that the political revolution of the Soviet workers for the ending of all bureaucratic power is now beginning, these people confer on the Gorbachev wing the powers of a class, or even a super-class, which can change social relations at will.

This miserable attempt to justify political support to Gorbachev falls flat on its face. First, in judging the significance of Gorbachev’s policies, the essential issue is not whether market mechanisms are permissible under certain conditions. Rather, the first question that must be answered is the social and political character of the regime that is directing the economy. Under the leadership of a Marxist party, whose policies are based on an international revolutionary strategy, a workers’ state in which there exist genuine democratic organs of power may for a period of time utilize market mechanisms in the transition to socialism. The potentially dangerous consequences of such policies could be mitigated by the political consciousness of the leadership and the proletarian masses who are striving to develop the productive forces and impart to them a socialist direction.

The utilization of the methods of the capitalist market has, however, an entirely different meaning in the hands of a bureaucratic privileged caste which is organically hostile to the proletariat and socialism. Moreover, in the case of the Gorbachev leadership, it is proposing the use of market mechanisms not “in combination with” but in opposition to state planning and workers’ democracy. In denying the danger of capitalist restoration, Smith exposes himself as a vulgar evolutionist who, like Michael Banda, sees the development of socialism as an irreversible process. He dismisses entirely the relationship between the fate of the Soviet Union and the character of its leadership. This is, however, the decisive question. Trotsky constantly warned that even rapid rates of industrialization could not ensure the socialist development of the USSR if the state remained in the grip of a bureaucracy whose policies were guided by the reactionary program of “socialism in one country.” The warning is even more appropriate when the bureaucracy adopts policies which encourage private accumulation, undermine planning, abolish the state monopoly of foreign trade, and welcome large-scale capitalist investment in the USSR.

In 1931, even while Trotsky was still seeking the political reform of the Soviet leadership and not its overthrow in a political revolution, he explained, “The economic contradictions of the transitional economy do not develop in a vacuum. The political contradictions of the regime of the dictatorship, even though in the final analysis they grow out of the economic, have an independent and also a more direct significance for the fate of the dictatorship than the economic crisis” (Problems of Development of the USSR).

He added: “A steam boiler, even under rude handling, can do useful work for a long time. A manometer, however, is a delicate instrument which is very quickly ruined under impact. With an unserviceable manometer the best of boilers can be brought to the point of explosion. If the party were only an instrument of orientation, like a manometer or a compass on a ship, even in such a case its derangement would spell great trouble. But more than that, the party is the most important part of the governing mechanism. The Soviet boiler hammered out by the October Revolution is capable of doing gigantic work even with poor mechanics. But the very derangement of the manometer signifies the constant danger of explosion of the whole machine.”

Five years later, in his Revolution Betrayed, Trotsky explicitly stated that the bureaucracy “has ceased to offer any subjective guarantee whatever of the socialist direction of its policy” and warned that “it must inevitably in future stages seek supports for itself in property relations.” These warnings are now brushed aside by the Slaughterites, who conveniently ignore the open measures now being taken by the Gorbachev bureaucracy to legitimize private ownership of the productive forces, which, as the above-quoted law on cooperatives makes clear, will enjoy the same status as state ownership.

As for Smith’s claim that opposition to Gorbachev “implies that support should be given to Gorbachev’s more ‘conservative’ opponents,” this evaluation most clearly expresses his utterly petty-bourgeois Pabloite position. The Slaughterites, like all the opportunist tendencies, are simply incapable of approaching political issues from the independent standpoint of the revolutionary working class. For them, there is only Gorbachev on one side and Ligachev on the other, just as for • petty-bourgeois democrats in the 1930s, enlisting in the popular front and endorsing the Moscow Trials, there was only Stalin or Hitler! As Trotskyists, however, we evaluate all questions from the standpoint of the independent interests of the working class and develop our program on that basis. This requires simply that we tell the workers the truth—that their future lies neither with Gorbachev nor with Ligachev but in the mobilization of the working class against all sections of the bureaucracy in a violent political revolution. Naturally, workers should and must exploit the opportunities created by the crisis in the bureaucracy for the development of its independent forms of revolutionary organization. But taking advantage of glasnost in this way does not mean reconciliation with any section of the Stalinist bureaucracy. While there may presently be sections of Soviet workers and socialist intellectuals who have illusions in Gorbachev, it is our task to confront the immature consciousness with the scientifically-derived program of Trotskyism. Only in that way can the working class be prepared for the next stage in the development of the objective situation. At any rate, events will certainly prove us correct.

The claim made by both Healy and Smith that the policies of Gorbachev represent the beginning of the political revolution is an attempt to drug political consciousness with a combination of demagogy, charlatanry and deceit. Let us remind these forgetful gentlemen that the “most indubitable feature of a revolution,” according to Trotsky, “is the direct interference of the masses in historic events.” That intervention by the Soviet masses is still on the historical agenda. In the meantime, Gorbachev and his ilk are doing everything in their power to prevent such a development.

The policies of Gorbachev are a response to the crisis of the bureaucracy and its program of socialism in one country. The most privileged sections of the bureaucracy, in alliance with petty-bourgeois elements among the intelligentsia and the innumerable middlemen exuded from the pores of the massive black market, seek to resolve this crisis in their own interests by “restructuring” the economy on the basis of its integration into the framework of world capitalism. This policy, as is already clear from what is happening in Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Laos, and, above all, China, leads to the dismantling of the fundamental gains of the October Revolution, the restoration of capitalism, and the destruction of the workers’ state.

For the working class, the massive dislocations produced by the decades of Stalinist economic autarchy, bureaucratic sabotage and disorganization, the bureaucracy’s plundering of the resources of the nationalized economy, and its suppression of proletarian democracy can be halted and reversed only through the forcible overthrow of the bureaucracy. Indeed, the political revolution will first emerge in the form of the struggle of the Soviet working class to defend the remaining conquests of October against the program of perestroika. These struggles can save the workers’ state only if, in the course of their development, they are guided by the internationalist program of the Fourth International. For in the final analysis, as Trotsky so frequently insisted, the economic contradictions of the USSR can be resolved only on the basis of the extension of the October Revolution into the centers of world imperialism. This is the perspective upon which we base the struggle to construct a section of the International Committee in the Soviet Union.