Wed Jun 19, 2024
June 19, 2024

Democracy Without Centralism Has Nothing to Do with Bolshevism

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the IWL-FI, we are republishing this text by Francesco Ricci, written in 2016, on the internal regimes of revolutionary parties.

The history of the revolutionary workers’ movement since the days of the First International is an uninterrupted chronicle of petty-bourgeois groups and tendencies, of all kinds, launching furious attacks against the “organizational methods” of the Marxists, to reward themselves for their theoretical and political weaknesses. Under the label of organizational methods, they include everything, from the concept of revolutionary centralism to routine administrative matters; and, furthermore, also personal and methodical questions of their main opponents, who they invariably describe as “wrong,” “harsh,” “tyrannical,” and (of course!) “bureaucratic.” To this day, any little group of anarchists will tell you how the “authoritarian” Marx mistreated Bakunin. (James Cannon, The Struggle for a Proletarian Party, 1940)

By Francesco Ricci

Last year, Blog Convergencia published many articles on the internal organization of revolutionary parties, that is, on democratic centralism. I counted at least nine articles, but I may have missed some. Here, I’d like to refer to the four-article series by Enio Bucchioni and, more generally, the idea of democratic centralism.

Enio Bucchioni’s articles are very interesting, because they offer a broad historical reconstruction of how the issue of party organization was confronted by the Bolsheviks and, after Lenin’s death, by Trotsky. The flaw I see in Bucchioni’s argumentation is his emphasis (perhaps unintentionally) on one of two components of the pairing (democracy) to the detriment of the other (centralism), a failure to perceive that democratic centralism is not the sum of two distinct elements, but an indivisible whole. And, in this way, he loses sight of the purpose of democratic centralism: to run a revolutionary party, the instrument of struggle for the conquest of power. Putting specific historical facts under the microscope, extracted from their context, Bucchioni’s articles offer us – in my opinion – a somewhat distorted vision of the Bolshevik point of view, which is why the democracy-centralism pairing falls apart and we are left only with a democracy without centralism, without discipline.

Because my space is limited, I cannot address all the details of this important debate, so I will just present four observations on certain aspects of the problem to the reader.

  1. Precautions should be taken when using Broué as a source

Bucchioni (and other comrades who authored aforementioned articles) constantly refer to Pierre Broué, particularly to The History of the Bolshevik Party.

Without a doubt, Broué was a great Marxist historian, and his books are recommended for all activists who wish to study the history of Bolshevism and Trotskyism without Stalinist falsifications. Nevertheless, like any historian, Broué inevitably chose topics and argued from his own point of view, sustained by two pillars: firstly, by his preference for the “young” Trotsky, who was non-Bolshevik and critical of the supposed Leninist “ultra-centralism” (a Trotsky that the mature Trotsky himself implacably criticized); secondly, by a lack of understanding of Trotsky as the architect of the Fourth International. It is no coincidence that Broué notably devotes only a dozen pages in his (undoubtedly excellent) near-thousand-page-long biography of Trotsky to the construction of the Fourth International, that is, to the undertaking which Trotsky believed to have been the most important task of his life (even more so than leading the Russian Revolution with Lenin).

For this reason, it’s good to study Broué. However, when taking his historical judgments as a foundation, it is always helpful to remember that they are inevitably interconnected with his (often mistaken) political judgments.

  • It is necessary to pay more attention to the historical facts

In order to discuss the question of organization, beginning (rightly) from historical experience, it is beneficial to establish oneself on a precise reconstruction of the facts. This means avoiding certain common preconceptions which have unfortunately been spread even by anti-Stalinist historiography, as well as avoiding reliance on memory, or the quotation of texts that we perhaps read many years ago and do not remember well.

In Bucchioni’s texts, I spotted several of these preconceptions and even a few major misunderstandings in his historical reconstruction. I limit myself to mentioning three false, or partially true (and therefore false, despite the author’s good intentions), statements. Bucchioni says:

  • First, that “(…) few know or remember that, before 1918, all existing Marxist currents in old Russia were in the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Labor Party). (…) There was, however, only one Party. Strictly speaking, the Bolshevik Party did not exist until a few months after the 1917 Revolution, but rather, the Bolshevik fraction of the RSDLP did. Only in March 1918 was the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party founded”;
  • Second, that Lenin was convinced that “differences (…) strengthen the party”;
  • Third, that democratic centralism was created by Lenin and that its “guidelines” are outlined in the book What is to Be Done? (1902)

In actuality, the first and second statements are half-truths and therefore, like all half-truths, are accompanied by a half that is untrue, and the third statement simply does not correspond with historical facts. Unfortunately, it is in this manner that Bucchioni unintentionally ends up painting a distorted picture of the historical debate, which could lend itself to mistaken generalizations that others may make.

All that aside, let’s set ourselves straight and examine these three claims.

First. Bucchioni is a little confused in his reconstruction of the history of Bolshevism. It is true that the Bolshevik Party was formally born only after the October Revolution, and it is true that earlier, there was the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, with its various fractions. It is also true (I add) that, after the first split in 1903, there were periods of partial union between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. It’s good to note, however, as does Edward H. Carr, one of the best historians of the Russian Revolution, that while many were convinced that the 1905 Revolution had eliminated the demarcation between different fractions, “Lenin did not believe this. If he considered reunification absolutely inevitable, due to the demand coming from the masses (…) he still declared himself in its favor with much reluctance and did not take it seriously” [2].

In actuality, the unity did not last long and was only formal – there continued to exist, in fact, two separate parties, with their structures, until the split was confirmed again in 1912. But even after 1912, the separation was not complete and, in some situations, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks worked together. Even in 1917, the Bolshevik leadership (before Lenin’s return) proposed a reunification with the Mensheviks, as a logical consequence of the semi-Menshevik positions of Kamenev and Stalin, who wanted to “critically” support the government of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries (SRs). Therefore, Lenin was forced to send peremptory messages to the Bolshevik leadership against reunification with the Mensheviks.

Not remembering these historical facts, Bucchioni’s statement, according to which “there was, however, only one Party” until 1918 (that is, the RSDLP composed of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks), is therefore a half-truth that can justify the common cliché, enduring a century, which minimizes the rupture of 1903.

However, the opinion of many (reiterated by Bucchioni) was not shared by Lenin. In a text (more often quoted by its title than read) called “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920), Lenin wrote: “Bolshevism has existed as a current of political thought and as a political party since 1903” (emphasis added) [3].

Bucchioni’s truth is partial: it is true that the Bolsheviks were, formally, a fraction of a party which also included the Mensheviks. But, as the American Trotskyist leader James Cannon rightly emphasizes, in disagreement with those who limited themselves to making the same formal conclusion as Bucchioni, we must state the other half of the truth, that is, that “Lenin’s fraction was in reality a party,” and as such, in various cases (since 1906), it consisted of its own tendencies and fractions [4].

Second. Bucchioni’s articles repeatedly assert that Lenin was convinced that internal differences strengthen the party.

I do not know where this is stated in Lenin’s writings. I do know, however, of many texts where Lenin reiterates something significantly different: that political elaboration requires a confrontation and, when necessary, a clash of ideas in the party. In the case where differences do appear, they must be expressed in accordance with the rules of democratic centralism (with the opportunity to become a majority) – they must not be stifled, but must be expressed in accordance with rules which, in all cases, enable debate and differences not to impede upon action.

Lenin (and this, I believe, is the essential point that escapes Bucchioni’s interpretation) conceived the revolutionary party as an organism of struggle, an army in the class war. That is why, as Trotsky adds: “Naturally, the fundamental content of party life does not lie in discussion, but in struggle” [5].

Thus, Bucchioni’s point (that Lenin saw within differences something that “strengthens the party”) does not correspond to Lenin’s conception of the party, and taken as a generalization, could lead to the defense of a regime based on democracy without borders: an idea which belongs not only to the Mensheviks and the anarchists, but also, for example, to the tendency within the Bolshevik party called Democratic Centralism (led by Sapronov and Vladimir Smirnov) which, by 1919 and 1920 (long before the Stalinist degeneration), attacked the Bolshevik majority of Lenin and Trotsky for an alleged “authoritarian centralism,” “Bonapartism,” etc.

Contrary to the reading to which historians like Pierre Broué and political leaders like Ernest Mandel give credibility, it is not possible to find in either Lenin or Trotsky the exaltation of a party committed to a permanent debate: because that goes against the conception of the party as a tool of struggle. Instead, we can find (and we will shortly see a few) many statements by Trotsky against the party conceived as a “debate club,” paralyzed and incapable of acting while waiting for reality to prove which thesis is the correct one: it is true that for Marxists, reality is the criterion of truth, but it can be tested only with one political line at a time, that is, only the political line which, after a democratic debate, is approved by the majority and must be actively and loyally supported even by those who did not agree with it. Once the debate is exhausted, it goes into action and the debate ceases until the party reopens it, in Congresses or other moments of evaluation decided upon by the party.

Fractions and tendencies are, therefore, the normal expression of a party in which differences are not resolved in a positive way. This statement, clearly, does not mean that differences “strengthen the party,” or that the existence of tendencies and fractions is a positive fact. And, above all, this does not lead to the conception of the party as a permanent set of fractions or worse, (an idea shared by some organizations, including the Unified Secretariat, the French NPA, the PSOL, etc.) the conception of the party as the union of revolutionaries and reformists. The latter concept, in any case, has nothing to do with Lenin and Trotsky, who in fact observed, “A party can only tolerate fractions which do not pursue objectives directly conflicting with its own.” [6]

Third. Bucchioni is mistaken when he writes that the “guidelines” of democratic centralism are in the book What Is to Be Done?.

It is a common mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It must be recalled that Lenin wrote What Is to Be Done? in 1902, when the division between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks (which would appear at the 1903 Congress) was not foreseen. We must remember that the central theme of What Is to Be Done? is not party organization but the controversy with a current of economists. This is the Rabocee Delo group (Workers’ Cause), led by Kricevskij and Martynov. This group maintained that it was impossible for the revolutionary party to raise the socialist consciousness of the vanguard of struggle and therefore theorized that it was necessary to “lower” revolutionary politics to the level of consciousness of the masses, to reduce the program only to the immediate and comprehensible objectives of the class as a whole. It is an interesting and relevant debate, which deserves to be developed, but this is not our focus in this article. Here, we are interested in stressing that in What Is to Be Done? there is not a single line on the question of democratic centralism. The very expression “democratic centralism” does not appear in the book, and cannot appear, because the term was coined three years later (towards the end of 1905), and not by Lenin (as Bucchioni claims), but by the Mensheviks [7].

With our historical dates in order, it is worth mentioning that if the name (democratic centralism) was born in 1905, the thing (political-organizational concept) already existed in the previous century. It was, in fact, a concept introduced by Marx and Engels in the First International, in the battle against Bakunin and the federalism of the anarchists, when, after the Paris Commune (and thanks to the teachings of their defeat), they were able to end the long battle on the demarcation of Marxism that they had engaged in against all other currents of the International and “put an end to the naïve agreement of all the fractions” to try, at last, to build a “purely communist” International based on Marxism [8]. The concept of a democratically centralized workers’ party, an indispensable instrument for the conquest of power, was in fact the fulcrum of all the resolutions approved at the London Conference (September 1871) and at the Hague Congress which, a year later, established the need for a centralized International, based on rigorous discipline and respect for the majority principle. These issues provoked the rupture with the anarchists who polemicized against Marx’s “authoritarianism,” not only because they rejected the program of the dictatorship of the proletariat (something which is, in reality, very “authoritarian” because… it is won with bayonets and cannons, as Engels joked), but also because they rejected (with some consistency that must be recognized) the centralized party that was (and still is) the indispensable premise.

Lenin on the organization of the revolutionary party

After making a few historical clarifications, we see that the issue of the role of the Party according to Lenin and Trotsky begins to take on different colors. Let us proceed.

We must not look in What Is to Be Done?, contrary to what Bucchioni writes, but in another book by Lenin, to find the controversy on the question of party organization: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. In this 1904 book, Lenin summarizes the famous 1903 Congress that ended with the split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, and that was (to repeat the words of Lenin and Cannon, in disagreement with Bucchioni) the real birth of the Bolshevik Party.

In this important book, which is unfortunately not well-known, there is ample space for the polemic in defense of a rigorous centralist regime, of discipline, the majority principle, and subordination of the part to the whole, that is, of the local section to the center (and to the bodies elected by the National Congress), of each individual militant to the party as a whole, and of the minority to the majority.

Lenin is implacable against the “individualist and anarchist mentality” typical of the petty bourgeois: the workers, he affirms, are not afraid of the discipline of the organization. To those who accuse him of conceiving the party “as a factory with a director, the Central Committee,” Lenin responds, “the factory, which for some people seems to be just a scarecrow, represents the highest form of capitalist organization which unified and disciplined the proletariat, which taught it to organize itself.” He continues: for some, “the party organization we desire is a ‘monstrous factory’; the submission of the part to the whole and of the minority to the majority seems to them to be ‘slavery.’”

According to Lenin, in each party “opportunism (…) manifests itself (…) in the same tendencies, in the same accusations, and often with the same molds,” and therefore, there emerges “the same conflict between autonomism and centralism, democracy and ‘bureaucratism,’ between the tendency to weaken and the tendency to strengthen the rigorous character of organization and discipline (…)”. [9]

He goes on in this manner, for pages and pages. We cannot cite the entire book, but we recommend it to all comrades interested in delving deeper into the subject of party organization.

Clearly, the discipline Lenin speaks of is “iron,” but it is not “blind” because it is not passive; rather, it is assumed by those who, consciously, decided to dedicate themselves to the revolution. The party is made up of thinking minds, and the capacity for criticism and self-criticism is one of the main virtues of every revolutionary.

The concepts of this 1904 book (in which the expression “democratic centralism” does not appear, but the concept is well illustrated) would be confirmed in the victorious experience of the Russian Revolution. That is why, in the 1920 text “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, Lenin titles his second chapter “An Essential Condition for Bolshevik Success,” later explaining that this “essential condition” was “a most rigorous and truly iron discipline.” [10]

  • Centralism and “a most rigorous and truly iron discipline”

An old legend (beloved by all opportunists) says that Lenin’s “most rigorous and truly iron discipline” was practiced by the Bolsheviks only because they were an illegal party. This would be a characteristic of an element linked to a specific reality.

Others recall Trotsky’s polemic, in the first years of the century, against Lenin’s positions which Trotsky defined as “hyper-centralist,” accusing Lenin of “Robespierreism.”

Others still take texts in which Trotsky polemicizes against Stalinism’s deformation of centralism, that is, texts written against the counterrevolutionary distortion of democratic centralism and, extracting these texts from that struggle, try to present each element of centralism and discipline as a “bureaucratic” feature, discarding the second word from the democratic-centralism pair with the same ease that one takes off one’s slippers before going to sleep.

And it is the same refrain which has always been repeated, at least since the time of Bakunin (that is, a century and a half ago), with minor alterations. As the French say: “On connait la chanson” – we know this song. But however old it may be, the song remains out-of-tune, and does not pair well with Leninism.

Let’s examine these arguments together, recalling historical facts.

The Leninist conception of democratic centralism was not conceived only for illegal parties (in reality, it was more applicable to parties not subjected to clandestine operations). The fundamentals of democratic centralism were, therefore, codified by the Communist International in the theses valid for all communist parties: “On the organizational structure of Communist Parties” (Third Congress of 1921) [11].

It is evident that the structure and methods of a revolutionary party are not an abstraction: they do not disregard the concrete conditions in which that particular party is being built. Nevertheless, there are certain principles which are valid under any circumstances.

Regarding Trotsky, it should be remembered that he made a deep self-criticism of the accusations he made as a young man, against what seemed to him at the time to be “the hyper-centralism” of Lenin. For example, in My Life, he admits that he had not understood “the importance of a rigorous and strict centralism for a revolutionary party which wants to lead millions of men against the old society.” [12]

And finally, regarding the attempt to use Trotsky’s arguments from the 1920s and 1930s against bureaucratic centralism against any and all centralism, which seeks to present Trotsky as the defender of democracy without rules or centralism, we must remember that precisely while he was facing a deadly battle against the methods (twins of fascism) used by the Stalinist bureaucracy, Trotsky was participating in the construction of an International and parties based on authentic democratic centralism, that is, on “a most severe and truly iron discipline,” to use Lenin’s words.

It is not by chance that the founding document of the SWP of the United States, drafted in 1938 under Cannon’s leadership and in direct collaboration with Trotsky, insists every three lines on the need to combine debate and democracy with that “severe discipline and centralism, without which there is no revolutionary party.” It is interesting to note that, at that Congress, a minority (led by Burnham and Draper) opposed this conception of the SWP majority (deeply shared by Trotsky), accusing it of “bureaucratism,” with criticisms of a democratist nature.

We can read in the 1938 founding document: “Any internal party discussion must be organized from the point of view that the party is not a debate club, with endless debates on any and all questions and at all times, in which no decision is ever reached, thus paralyzing the organization; on the contrary, the party must be conceived as a disciplined party for revolutionary action.” [13]

Bucchioni doesn’t help clarify the historical record when (in the second of his four articles on this subject) he recalls how, in the Bolshevik Party in 1917, the internal debate was often public. Again, Bucchioni takes a true element of reality, isolating it from context and then presenting it as a general rule. But in this case, he forgets that, if, inevitably, in a party of tens of thousands a part of the debate becomes “public,” this does not necessarily apply to parties of a few hundred or thousand (as all revolutionary parties are today). This simple observation, which for some might seem “bureaucratic,” is not mine: Trotsky makes this point, in response to the same argument of Bucchioni’s, made earlier by Schachtman. In a letter (March 1940) to SWP leader Farrel Dobbs, Trotsky writes: “Schachtman seeks, that is, invents historical precedents. The opposition in the Bolshevik party had their own newspapers, etc. He merely forgets that the party, at the time, had hundreds of thousands of militants, that the discussion had to reach all of them and convince them. Under those conditions, it was not possible to confine the discussion to inner circles.” [14]

Returning to the example of the SWP, when the American section of the Fourth International split into two fractions on the question of the character of the Russian state, a majority and minority of more or less equal numerical weight, in an attempt to avoid a split in the party down the middle, Trotsky insisted on the need to broaden the debate, admitting exceptional measures (including internal discussion bulletins in non-congress periods and even the permanence of an internal fraction after the congress was over). But it was precisely (and this is also recalled by Bucchioni) an exceptional situation, because the party was threatened by a split in half (which, after a while, actually materialized): in any case, the party continued to function according to the rules of a democratic centralism based on the “most rigorous and truly iron discipline.” Trotsky, in response to the minority of the SWP, which attacked the majority citing (with an unjustified comparison) the modalities of Stalinism to defend the need to expand democracy without limits, separating it from centralism, affirmed: “Permanent juridical guarantees are certainly not a heritage of the Bolshevik experience. (…) The organizational structure of the revolutionary vanguard must be subordinated to the positive demands of the revolutionary struggle, and not to negative guarantees of its degeneration.” [15]

Trotsky returns to this topic several times. In a letter to Burnham, leader of the SWP minority, who called for “more democracy” in the party, he replies:

“You, likewise, seek an ideal party democracy which would secure forever and for everybody the possibility of saying and doing whatever popped into his head, and which would insure the party against bureaucratic degeneration. You overlook a trifle, namely, that the party is not an arena for the assertion of free individuality, but an instrument of the proletarian revolution; that only a victorious revolution is capable of preventing the degeneration not only of the party but of the proletariat itself and of modern civilization as a whole.” [16]

And further: “True, in justifying their dictatorship the Soviet bureaucracy exploited the principles of Bolshevik centralism but in the very process it transformed them into their exact opposite. But this does not discredit in the least the methods of Bolshevism. Over a period of many years Lenin educated the party in the spirit of proletarian discipline and severe centralism. In so doing he suffered scores of times the attack of petty-bourgeois factions and cliques. Bolshevik centralism was a profoundly progressive factor and in the end secured the triumph of the revolution. It is not difficult to understand that the struggle of the present opposition in the Socialist Workers Party has nothing in common with the struggle of the Russian opposition of 1923 against the privileged bureaucratic caste but it does instead bear great resemblance to the struggle of the Mensheviks against Bolshevik centralism.” [17]

Conclusions

In conclusion, democratic centralism is not a magic formula, but the only way that revolutionaries (since the time of Marx, when the term did not yet exist) have found to effectively organize a party struggling to take power through revolutionary means. Democratic centralism for Lenin, Trotsky, and Cannon implied a dialectic between the two terms, meaning: the widest possible discussion at a given moment for the elaboration of the options, with full equality of rights between the majority and minority; a very rigorous discipline in the application of the options and, consequently, the principle of the majority (the minority must submit to the options made democratically, and must carry them out loyally); election and constant control by the party over its leading organs; internal circulation of information to all militants; frequent congresses as the peak of decision and direction.

The Leninist conception of the party does not include centralism without democracy (bureaucratic centralism, typical of Stalinism), nor democracy without centralism (typical of anarchism, Menshevism, etc.). These two extremes, which sometimes quickly turn into each other, have nothing in common with Trotskyism or the typical regime of Bolshevism, that is, with democratic centralism.

Since the history of revolutionaries is our constant source of education, when we go back to study it, it is important to reconstruct the truth in its complexity, remembering that half-truths (even when told in absolute honesty) are dangerous because, as Oscar Wilde may have said, you risk picking up the wrong half…

Democracy cannot be separated from centralism. This opinion is shared not only by the author of this article but also by Trotsky, who I will quote here because, as often happens, it is useless to paraphrase his thought, which has been stated in the clearest terms.

In 1933, Trotsky wrote:

“Any defense measure by the organization against decomposing elements, any appeal to discipline, any repression was described as Stalinism by some members of our own organization. By this they only showed that they are far from understanding Stalinism as well as the spirit of a truly revolutionary organization. The history of Bolshevism has been, from its very first steps, the history of educating an organization in the spirit of iron discipline. 

The Bolsheviks were originally called the “hard,” the Mensheviks the “soft,” because the former stood for a harsh, revolutionary discipline while the latter replaced it by mutual indulgence, leniency, vagueness. The organizational methods of Menshevism are inimical to a proletarian organization no less than Stalinist bureaucratism. (…)  Bolshevik-Leninists reject democracy without centralism as an expression of petty-bourgeois content. To be able to cope with the new tasks, it is necessary to burn out with a red-hot iron the anarchist and Menshevik methods from the organizations of the Bolshevik-Leninists.” [18]

Notes:

(1) The nine articles are the following:

– Four articles by Enio Bucchioni:

“A propósito do regime interno dos bolcheviques antes de fevereiro de 1917”– blogconvergencia.org/?p=4096; “A propósito do regime interno dos bolcheviques entre fevereiro e outubro de 1917” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=4300; “A propósito do regime interno dos bolcheviques após Outubro: as frações públicas” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=4459; “A propósito do regime interno dos bolcheviques: a visão de Trotsky” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=4496

– Three articles by Euclides de Agrela: “Sucessão de gerações e burocratização do partido em Leon Trotsky” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=5749; “Composição social e burocratização do partido em Leon Trotsky” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=5803; “Agrupamentos, formações fracionais e burocratização do partido em Leon Trotsky” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=5842;

– Two articles by Henrique Canary: “Centralismo versus democracia? Reflexões sobre o regime Leninista de partido” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=4453; “Os dirigentes e suas grosserias” – blogconvergencia.org/?p=6044.

(2) E.H. Carr, History of the Russian Revolution (Italian edition Einaudi, 1964, p. 51).

(3) V.I. Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (Chapter II).

(4) James P. Cannon, “Factional struggle and Party leadership”.

This was a speech given by Cannon in November 1953, during a meeting of the SWP (North American section of the Fourth International). In those weeks, the factional struggle within the SWP with the Cochran and Clarke minority (internationally tied to Michel Pablo) had ended. This faction defended a deformed version of democratic centralism, rejecting discipline and the principle of the majority and pretending to impose a kind of veto right of the minority over the decisions taken democratically by the leading bodies of the party.

Cannon’s original text is found at this link:

www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/education/1966-06-jun-Defending-Rev-Party-its-Perspective-EfS.pdf

(5) Leon Trotsky, “Las fracciones y la Cuarta Internacional” (“Fractions and the Fourth International”) (1935), may be read in Spanish at this link: [EL1] https://ceip.org.ar/article4069

In English, see “Sectarianism, Centrism, and the Fourth International” (1935), at this link: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1935/10/sect.htm 

(6) Trotsky, “Las fracciones y la Cuarta Internacional” (1935).

(7) Several historians, including Lars T. Lih (author of several monographs on Lenin and Bolshevism), showed that the expression “democratic centralism” was first used by the Mensheviks at their Petrograd conference in November 1905. This is also what Vladimir Nevsky writes in his History of the Bolshevik Party (1924, Italian edition, Pantarei, 2008). Nevsky was the director of the Institute for the History of the Bolshevik Party in Lenin’s time. He was assassinated by the Stalinists in the 1930s.

(8) Letter from Engels to Sorge, September 12, 1874, in Marx and Engels, Letters 1874-1879 (Italian edition, Lotta Comunista, 2006, p. 35).

(9) V. I. Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

(10) V. I. Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder.

(11) “On the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties” (Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921) (found in the first of six volumes edited by Aldo Agosti which gather the principal texts of the Communist International in Italian, with the title The Third International. Documented History. Editora Riuniti,1974).

(12) L. Trotsky, My Life (Italian Edition Mondadori, 1976, p. 175).

(13) “The internal situation and the character of the party”. In: The Founding of The SWP. Minutes and Resolutions, 1938-1939 (Pathfinder Press, 1982).

(14) Letter from Trotsky (March 1940) to SWP leader Farrell Dobbs (In the collection of texts titled In Defense of Marxism).

(15) Letter from Trotsky (December 1939) to the majority of the National Committee of the SWP (In Defense of Marxism).

(16)  Letter from Trotsky to Burnham (January 1940) (In Defense of Marxism).

(17) L. Trotsky, “From a Scratch – To the Danger of Gangrene” (January 1940) (In Defense of Marxism).

(18) L. Trotsky, “It Is Time to Stop” (September 18, 1933).

Published in: Blog Convergência


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