Monday, 3 March 2008

Review - The First Five Years of the Communist International (Vol.1) by Leon Trotsky

Recently, I read this book. I found it quite interesting, as it re-prints Trostky’s articles, speeches and documents during the first few Congresses of the Third International. In the various documents, you can see how the analysis develops from the huge optimism of the immediate post-war epoch of revolutions, to later on when the analysis becomes more sober, but the fundamental tactics of the movement, such as the idea of the united front and the dangers of ultra-leftism are developed. I would certainly recommend reading it, as the creation of the Third International and it’s subsequent degeneration are even more important in today’s world.
There are some fascinating quotes which I’ve reproduced below too, which give a huge insight into how these congresses and discussions added to the Marxist understanding of the world. In the section ‘On the Policy of the KAPD’, Trotsky says

‘From our standpoint world economy is viewed as an organic unity on whose ground the world proletarian revolution evolves; and the Communist International takes its orientation from the entire world complex, analysing it by means of the scientific methods of Marxism and utilising all experiences of past struggles. This does not, of course, exclude but rather presupposes that the development of each country has its own peculiar features, that specific situations have their peculiarities, and so on. But in order to correctly evaluate these peculiarities, it is necessary to approach them in their international context.’ (pg.175-6)

Or later on the relationship between the economy and revolution is discussed in ‘The Report of The World Economic Crisis and The New Tasks of The Communist International’, he says

‘…Engels wrote that while the crisis of 1847 was the mother of revolution, the boom of 1849-51 was the mother of triumphant counter-revolution. It would, however, be very one-sided and utterly false to interpret these judgements in the sense that a crisis invariably engenders revolutionary action while a boom, on the contrary, pacifies the working class. The Revolution of 1848 was not born out of the crisis. The latter merely provided the impetus…’ (pg.259)

And a little later

‘…It might be asked whether the great struggles over wages, a classic example of which is the miners’ strike in England, will lead automatically to the world revolution, to the final civil war and the struggle for conquest of political power. However, it is not Marxist to pose the question in such a way. We have no automatic guarantees of development…. In general, there is no automatic dependence of the proletarian revolutionary movement upon a crisis. There is only dialectical interaction. It is essential to understand this.’ (pg.261)

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