Trotsky with Lenin and Kamenev in 1919

Transition to nowhere

The so-called transitional method relies on economism and spontaneity. Jack Conrad makes the case for the minimum-maximum programme and the struggle to win the battle for democracy

A few week ago Jack Barnard retold the hoary old tale of the inadequacies of the minimum-maximum programmes of classical Marxism and the wonders that can be performed, once we are equipped with the so-called “transitional method”.1 Amongst such wonders was the establishment of the Welsh parliament (Senedd Cymru) in May 1999, supposedly brought about almost singled-handedly by his “old friend and comrade”, Ceri Evans.2

Actually if there was any one individual who was responsible for this minor add-on to the British constitution, that ‘honour’ lies squarely with Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. He used not the “transitional method”, of course - rather the sort of parliamentary reform legislation pursued by William Gladstone in the late 19th century over Irish home rule.

Dressing up tinkering constitutional changes, tailing virtually every passingly popular movement, bigging up ephemeral strikes and demonstrations as somehow being a route, a prelude, a step in the direction of socialist revolution is, however, now standard fare for the modern-day followers of Leon Trotsky and his 1938 Transitional programme (otherwise known as ‘The death agony of capitalism and the tasks of the Fourth International’).3 Eg, the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party in England and Wales, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Appeal, Anticapitalist Resistance, Workers Power and so on and so fourth. What is true in Britain is true elsewhere.

It ought to be admitted that, when it came to replying to comrade Barnard, I drew the short straw. Someone had to do it and it fell to me. But I suppose it is just about worth doing, not least because his overall approach is so widely shared. That said, before outlining our critique of the Transitional programme and the so-called transitional method, we must firmly establish what the minimum-maximum programmes of classical Marxism were and what they were not.

Comrade Barnard typically calls them the “classical programmes of social democracy” - fair enough. But methinks he is out to deceive. The fact of the matter is that Karl Marx himself not only considered arranging the programme into two distinct sections, unproblematic, he was entirely responsible for the (maximum) preamble of 1880 programme of the Workers’ Party of France (Parti Ouvrier Français). Marx undoubtedly also jointly authored its (minimum) political and economic demands.4 This minimum-maximum paradigm was standard in the Second International, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party and its main, Bolshevik and Menshevik, factions included.

The minimum, or immediate, section of the programme outlines the demands that the party fights for under existing conditions, which, taken together, constitute the bottom line when it comes to forming a government. In Russia the Bolsheviks concerned themselves with the basic needs of the working class, naturally, but crucially there was high politics. They fought for the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy by a people’s revolution and following that forming a workers’ and peasants’ government: the “revolutionary democratic [majority] dictatorship [decisive rule] of the proletariat and peasantry”, which would, perhaps even by conducting an international revolutionary war, help trigger the European socialist revolution.

As can be seen from any mainstream Second International party, the minimum section of the programme is, in fact, far from minimal (though the Labour Party in Britain was very big and therefore very important for the Second International, it was very much an outlier in programmatic terms). Anyway, the minimum programmes of the mainstream parties of the Second International were not about minor constitutional reforms, following the latest fad or choosing the lesser evil when it comes to voting. In fact, the minimum programme was maximal, in the sense that it takes what is technically achievable under capitalism to its outer limits and finally breaks through the carapace of capitalist constitutional structures and social relationships.

Eg, the minimum programme demands a democratic republic, the popular militia, unfettered trade unions, substantially reduced working hours, unrestricted freedom of speech and assembly, proportional representation, establishing substantive equality between men and women, the abolition of the standing army, upper chambers, the election of judges, etc. In other words, fulfilling the minimum programme takes us to the threshold of the maximum programme, which is about the post-capitalist rule of the working class, international socialist revolution and the transition to a stateless, moneyless, classless communism.


For their own peculiar reasons, the Trotskyist and Trotskyoid critics tell us that the minimum-maximum programme inevitably led to that fateful vote for war credits by the Social Democratic Party’s Reichstag fraction in August 1914. The same minimum-maximum structure is blamed for a host of other sell-outs, including the supposed accommodation shown towards Russia’s provisional government and the ‘defencists’ by Lev Kamenev and Joseph Stalin when they took over editing Pravda in the spring of 1917. This is Trotsky’s factionally motivated and highly jaundiced version of events as told in his Lessons of October (1924).

Actually, Kamenev and Stalin fought against the leftist demand for the immediate overthrow of the provisional government and used critical support offers as a tactic “in order to expose its counterrevolutionary nature” in the eyes of their soviet constituency.5 Eg, we will support you - that is, the provisional government - if you publish the secret treaties, if you organise free elections, if you redistribute land to the peasants, if you declare for peace, etc. They saw the necessity of the Bolsheviks winning a majority in the soviets.

Nonetheless, predictably, Tony Cliff has Lenin returning from Swiss exile and demanding a “complete break” with the old programme.6 Alan Woods too. He pictures Lenin junking the idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” and instead adopting a perspective of “winning over the masses to the programme of socialist revolution”.7 Nonsense on stilts. In fact, Lenin remained fully committed to forging a strategic alliance with the peasantry and only talked tentatively about “taking steps” in the direction of socialism. Indeed he explicitly rejected the charge that he was advocating a socialist revolution:

I not only do not ‘depend’ on the ‘immediate transformation’ of our revolution into a socialist one, but I actually warn against it, since in number eight of my [April] theses I state: “It is not our immediate task to ‘introduce’ socialism …”8

Comrade Barnard is from the same mould as Cliff and Woods. He writes of the Bolsheviks “jettisoning the classical minimum-maximum programme approach”. So a bog-standard narrative which takes no notice whatsoever of what we have published. There are, for example, the many excellent articles written on this exact subject by Lars T Lih and my own albeit more modest efforts.9 Given that comrade Barnard is a Weekly Worker reader and he submitted his ‘Placing demands on Labour’ for publication in this paper, this failure to engage reveals a profound lack of seriousness. Endlessly repeating what one learnt in one’s youth is not giving us the wisdom of old age: it amounts to being a human tape recorder. Sad, tedious and boring.

All one needs do is read the relevant volumes of Lenin’s Collected Works, from the summer of 1905 onwards, to appreciate that the Bolsheviks were programmatically consistent till the February 1917 revolution and then all the way through to the October 1917 revolution and beyond. Where necessary, of course, the Bolsheviks adjusted their minimum programme. The fall of the tsar in February 1917 and the emergence of a dual-power situation - a bourgeois provisional government, alongside which stood the workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ soviets - caused Lenin to adjust and augment - not, as is contended, carry out a “complete break” with or “jettison” - the minimum programme. Eg, the 1905 call for the rule of workers and peasants found in Lenin’s Two tactics was concretised in 1917 with the slogan, “All power to the workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ soviets”.

Of course, there was more to it than a slogan. The April 1917 conference of the RSDLP agreed to revise the programme in eight particular areas: (1) Evaluating imperialism. (2) Amending the clause on the state: ie, a demand for a “proletarian-peasant republic”, which does away with the standing army, the police and the bureaucracy. (3 and 4) Amending what was out of date in the political programme. (5) Completely changing parts of the economic programme. (6) Revising the agrarian programme. (7) Inserting a demand for the nationalisation of certain syndicates. (8) Adding an analysis of the main trends in modern socialism.10

The programme was put on the agenda for the planned October 1917 congress. Various Bolshevik leaders produced drafts, counter-drafts, pamphlets and/or articles. Naturally all were openly published. For our purposes, the most informative is Lenin’s ‘Revision of the party programme’ carried in the journal Prosveshcheniye Nos 1-2. Here he writes opposing the “very radical”, but “really very groundless”, proposal of Nicolai Bukharin and Vladimir Smirnov to “discard the minimum programme in toto”.11

These comrades claimed that the division of the programme into minimum and maximum sections was outdated, because Russia was now about to begin the transition to socialism. The minimum programme was therefore redundant. Lenin strongly objected:

[W]e must not discard the minimum programme, for this would be an empty boast: we do not wish to ‘demand anything from the bourgeoisie’; we wish to realise everything ourselves; we do not wish to work on petty details within the framework of bourgeoisie society.

This would be an empty boast, because first of all we must win power, which has not yet been done. We must first carry out measures of transition to socialism, we must continue our revolution until the world socialist revolution is victorious, and only then, ‘returning from battle’, may we discard the minimum programme as of no further use.12

And there was always the possibility of defeat, of having to conduct an organised retreat. Discarding the minimum programme would be “equivalent to declaring, to announcing (to bragging in simple language) that we have already won”.13

Even after the October revolution Lenin repeated the same essential argument. Against those who wanted to write a programme purely based on soviet power and making the transition to socialism, he warned that it is “a utopia to think that we shall not be thrown back”.14 Hence the continued relevance of the minimum programme and the possibility of having to use “bourgeois parliamentarianism”, etc.

Clearly, Lenin did not treat the minimum section of the programme casually, let alone as an impediment, a milestone to be cast aside at the first opportunity. On the contrary, he said:

[T]he minimum programme … is indispensable while we still live within the framework of bourgeois society, while we have not yet destroyed that framework, not yet realised the basic prerequisites for a transition to socialism, not yet smashed the enemy (the bourgeoisie), and even if we have smashed them we have not yet annihilated them.15

Anyway, so far we have established two sure facts: (1) Lenin neither broke with nor discarded the minimum-maximum programme; (2) it was the Left Communists, Nicolai Bukharin and Vladimir Smirnov, who wanted to do that.


Of course, after the October revolution things became incredibly difficult politically (we leave aside civil war, imperialist blockade, widespread disease and starvation). First of all the Bolsheviks and their Left Socialist Revolutionary allies lost the November 1917 elections to the Constituent Assembly - clearly an unexpected outcome, given their overwhelming majority in the soviets.

Comrade Barnard explains the subsequent decision to disperse the Constituent Assembly, using the argument that it was a “bourgeois-democratic institution”. Frankly, this does not work. In content, yes - ie, given the Right Socialist Revolutionary majority, the Constituent Assembly might well be called a “bourgeois-democratic institution”. But not in form. A Constituent Assembly with the Bolshevik-Left Socialist majority would have been an entirely different matter. What exactly it would have decided to do in constitutional terms I do not know and it is not really relevant to this article.

Note, however, that Marx envisaged winning a working class majority in the House of Commons in Britain. What would follow was not the abolition of the lower chamber - that would be stupid: rather a “slave owners” revolt fronted by the monarch, House of Lords, the chiefs of staff, the judiciary, etc. Workers would be mobilised to defend their democracy. In other words there is no inherent reason why a suitably modified House of Commons, or any other similar representative institution, cannot become a national equivalent of the 1871 Paris Commune.

With better information, a touch of cunning and a little patience, the Bolshevik-Left Socialist Revolutionary government could, surely, have secured a Constituent Assembly majority. The Bolsheviks won the vast bulk of the working class vote. Not the Left SRs with their peasant constituency, however. Why not? Candidates were chosen in a blatantly factional manner, which therefore failed to reflect the true balance after left-right schism. Almost all candidates came from the Right SR. And, as already alluded, after the schism the Left SRs went on to secure a commanding majority in the peasant soviets. Insisting on time to register that salient fact would surely have produced a Bolshevik-Left SR majority.

With good reasons, the Bolsheviks counterposed the unrepresentative Constituent Assembly to the power, authority and popular mandate of the soviets. However, while the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly caused barely a ripple, the same cannot be said of the attempt to negotiate a separate peace with the Central Powers. The Bolsheviks were split three ways. Bukharin and Radek favoured fighting a defensive revolutionary war from depth and hoped that military exhaustion would spark revolution in Germany. Almost certainly Petrograd would fall to the German army, however, and result in general slaughter. A defeated Soviet regime could then offer nothing by way of aid to the German working class, that is for sure.

Lenin eventually secured a Central Committee vote and the temporary respite needed to save the “world revolution”. His motion got six for, while three were against and four, including Trotsky, abstained. The Brest-Litovsk treaty was finally signed on March 3 1918. However, this not only cost Soviet Russia huge tracts of land, cities, industries, etc: it saw the Left SRs career off into opposition and crazy terrorist actions in the name of a ‘third revolution’. Understandably they joined the growing list of banned parties.

Thereby, however, the Bolsheviks lost their social majority. Even in their working class constituency things got extraordinarily tough. Soviet elections were fixed and in the fight to win the civil war the party was forced to militarise itself. Factions were “temporarily” banned. Appointment from above became the norm. Instead of championing democracy, Bolshevik leaders increasingly made a virtue out of necessity. They counterposed (proletarian) dictatorship to (bourgeois) democracy ... and often treated democracy and socialism as opposites. Less so with Lenin, true, but more so with Trotsky - his dreadful Terrorism and communism (1920) being a praise song to rule by a revolutionary minority.

The situation in Soviet Russia, where the peasants’ majority went unrepresented, where the Bolsheviks ruled in the name of declassed workers, where debates on the Central Committee and top-down commands substituted for rank-and-file control and initiative, was more and more upheld as the model of the dictatorship of the proletariat which other countries should seek to emulate.

Certainly, sneering references to democracy were a gift to bourgeois politicians in the core imperialist countries, who, having had something approaching universal suffrage forced upon them by the militant working class, proceeded to master the dark arts of deception and build a mass electorate based on an appeal to country, family and religion (not least by using the advertising-funded press). With the utmost cynicism the likes of Winston Churchill reinvented themselves as champions of democracy.16

The formation of the Third (Communist) International did not resolve the problem. In fact that problem was compounded. Communists were everywhere a minority. Often even in the working class. True, when it came to congresses, they might have won the delegate vote; eg, Germany, Italy and France. But not in society at large. Despite that many wanted to discard the minimum programme and the struggle for democracy, Rosa Luxemburg amongst them: “For us there is no minimal and no maximal programme; socialism is one and the same thing: this is the minimum we have to realise today” (December 1918).17 There were too minoritarian bids for power. The most notable, the most tragic, being Germany in January 1919. Instead of holding back the impulsive, the impatient, the inexperienced till they had won a majority, like the Bolsheviks in the September-October 1917 soviet elections, the KPD fell in behind the bright idea of proclaiming the Free Socialist Republic and from that rhetorical salient trying to win the majority. However, predictably, they were defeated. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered by rightwing paramilitary thugs.

No less importantly, official social democracy continued to command majority support in the working class and could demonise the communists as putschists, dangerous foes of democracy. True, official social democracy wretchedly, comprehensively, betrayed the minimum programme by doing a shameful deal with the army high command and forming a coalition government with the liberal German Democratic Party and the Christian-democratic Centre Party.

Under SPD president Friedrich Ebert, the “replacement kaiser”, Germany continued with a worryingly autonomous standing army, the same reactionary civil service apparatus and guaranteed property rights. According to the provisions of the August 1919 constitution, referendums and popular initiatives could overrule the wishes of the Reichstag. In an emergency situation the president could do likewise (article 48). In 1933 the newly appointed chancellor Adolf Hitler, now using 84-year old president Paul von Hindenburg as his puppet, got his Enabling Act that allowed him to rule by decree. Hitler also used the constitutional provision for referendums to full effect: 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1938.18 Nevertheless, in the early 1920s the German (Weimar) constitution, which stayed in place till the fall of the Nazi regime, was hailed by its admirers as the “very model of modern constitutionalism”.

It is against this background that we should consider the 4th Congress of Comintern over November5 -December 5 1922 and its debate on the programme question. By this time communists were no longer convinced that state power lay within their immediate reach. Hence, while there were still those who favoured dropping the minimum programme as a Second International relic, most recognised the need for a system of partial demands - demands centred on the basic economic needs of the masses. Given a divided Russian delegation - its representatives were Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Radek and Bukharin - the congress ended with a fudge and an agreement in principle that the programmes of national sections should include a “theoretical framework for all transitional and immediate demands”.19

The idea of a programme which contains partial demands and partial struggles had already made its appearance at the 3rd Congress and seems to have originated with KPD leader Paul Levi before the disastrous failure of the 1921 March Action. What is noticeable, however, is the almost complete absence of democratic demands. A self-inflicted lobotomy. While the revolution had unexpectedly been delayed, it was still imagined as being round the corner. Immediate demands around economic issues would quickly rally the working class and take them to the frontiers of the maximum programme. Such was the delusion.

Productive forces

We come, therefore, at last, to the 1938 Transitional programme, whose origins clearly lie in the defeats, retreats, pretences and adaptations of the early 1920s.20 Trotsky convinced himself that capitalism was more than just in crisis: it faced imminent extinction. As a system, it could no longer develop the productive forces - a concept he took, obviously, from Marx’s well known preface to A contribution to the critique of political economy (1859):

At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or - this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms - with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the forces of production these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins the period of social revolution.21

Marx’s preface might appear to run against the grain of much of what he wrote elsewhere - it can, after all, be read in the sense that it is the means of production, not the class struggle, which constitute the locomotive of history. Still, such an assessment, coming from Trotsky, that capitalism had turned into an absolute fetter was perfectly understandable - given the Wall Street crash, the great slump, soaring unemployment, the coming to power of Nazi gangsters and the fragmentation of the world economy into rival, antagonistic zones.

Rudolf Hilferding and Lenin had already made famous studies of finance capital, imperialism and the “last stage of capitalism”. Rosa Luxemburg had argued that, with the complete division of the world and the absence of an ‘external’ market, capital accumulation becomes impossible. Eugen Varga linked the underconsumption of the masses with capitalist collapse. Henryk Grossmann developed a ‘declining rate of profit’ crisis theory. In Britain John Strachey gave the theory a ‘wages push’ spin. Suffice to say, Marxists and semi-Marxists alike believed in an impending Zusammenbruch (a collapse, breakdown, ruination).

Bourgeois pessimism ran correspondingly rife too following World War I. Eg, Oswald Spengler - a German nationalist, Nietzschean and anti-democrat - authored the hugely influential The decline of the west (1918-22). He argued that western civilisation had entered its winter. Its soul was dead and the age of Caesarism had begun.

For Trotsky, capitalism was disintegrating. Spain, Abyssinia, China were for him but heralds of a general conflagration. Nor did the large-scale introduction of new consumer goods, means of transport and technologies, such as vacuum cleaners, telephones, cars, aeroplanes and electronics, change his assessment: “Mankind’s productive forces stagnate”.22 All that got Germany, the US, Japan, Britain, Italy and France - the main capitalist powers - moving economically in the late 1930s was preparation for the slaughter of another world war. Fifty million were to die.

Conditions for socialism, said Trotsky, were not only ripe, but overripe. Without a global socialist revolution all the gains of civilisation stood in danger. The main problem being not so much the consciousness of the masses: rather the opportunism, the cowardice, the treachery of the ‘official communists’ and social democrats: “The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”23 But, whereas the parties of ‘official communism’ and social democracy each counted their ranks in the tens and hundreds of thousands, even the millions, Trotsky’s forces were in comparative terms isolated, untrained and microscopic (perhaps a couple of thousand worldwide). A problem Trotsky solved, at least in his own mind, by falling back on what Marxists call the ‘theory of spontaneity’.

The class struggle is pictured as following its own elemental course. Beginning with narrow, trade union-type economics, moving without grand plan or design, strikers are propelled, through their own interests, their own experience, their own creativity, to the most revolutionary conclusions. Central committees, editorial boards, elected representatives, national congresses, agreed programmes - all that crap can be bypassed: that is, if the masses are roused and kept in motion through clear slogans and easy-to-grasp demands.

By ‘spontaneous’ we mean not a mass action that comes without an initiator, without thought, as if from nowhere. That is simply impossible. No, we mean a politically unaware mass action, a mass action not guided by the Communist Party and its programme. Of course, no Marxist would decry a spontaneous strike wave over economic terms and conditions. But the historic task of the party is to overcome spontaneity, to raise what begins as a purely economic struggle between employees and employers into a conscious political struggle - the argument of Lenin’s Where to begin? (1901) and What is to be done? (1902).


What the Trotsky of 1938 lacked in terms of organised forces in the real world he made up for with a reliance on the elementary movement. Hence this formula: the nature of the epoch “permits” revolutionaries to carry out economic struggles in a way that is “indissolubly” linked with the “actual tasks of the revolution”.24 Catastrophism is combined with economism.

The “existing consciousness” of workers is not only the point of departure; it is now to all intents and purposes regarded as unproblematic. Though in ‘normal times’ most are not subjectively revolutionary - ie, educated in Marxism - workers are objectively revolutionary simply because of capitalist collapse. In the ‘end times’ no longer was it necessary through the patient work of education, symbolic mobilisations and building an ever more powerful organisation to win the masses to see the need to “change forthwith the old conditions”. The fight over wages and hours, putting in place safeguards against the corrosive effects of inflation, and state-funded job creation, were painted in revolutionary colours.

Trotsky reasoned that, in general, there can be no systematic social reforms or raising of the masses’ living standards. Objective circumstances therefore propelled them - or so he reasoned - to overthrow capitalism, simply because, every time the system made one concession, it was forced to take back two. It was in an advanced state of decay. Therefore, he concluded, the simple defence of existing economic conditions, through demanding a “sliding scale” of wages, hours, etc, would provide the means needed to launch a final, apocalyptic battle against capitalism.

Trotsky’s sympathetic biographer, Isaac Deutscher, characterises the Transitional programme as “not so much a statement of principles as an instruction on tactics, designed for a party up to its ears in trade union struggles and day-to-day politics and striving to gain practical leadership immediately”.25 But, no, this is wrong, the Transitional programme is more than that: the militant trade unionism of the American SWP is presented as eschatology.

Trotsky insisted that, if the defensive movement of the working class was energetically promoted, freed from bureaucratic constraints and after that nudged in the direction of forming picket-line defence guards, then, pushed towards demanding nationalisation of key industries, it would, one step following another, take at least a minority of the class towards forming soviets and then, finally, to the conquest of state power. Or, as Trotsky put it, playing with both religion and Marx (on the Paris Commune), they would “storm not only heaven, but earth”.

Organising the working class into a political party and patiently winning over the majority was dismissed as the gradualism that belonged to a previous, long-dead age: competitive capitalism. Now, with the final collapse of capitalism imminent, the meagre, inexperienced, squabbling forces of Trotskyism would lead the masses, almost by stealth, in their elemental movement, through a system of transitional demands, which, taken together, form an ascending stairway.

After four or five years, maybe 10, they might flock to join the Fourth International in their millions. Winning state power and ending capitalism internationally will, though, be something they, the masses, become aware of only on the highest of high transitionary steps - not quite, but almost, socialism by conspiracy. In essence, Trotsky, from a position of extreme organisational weakness, reinvented Mikhail Bakunin’s general strike ‘road to socialism’. This time, though, it is the Trotskyite cadre who secretly control this - that or the other front operation; who use protest campaigns, demonstrations and strikes to achieve the (hidden) aims of the Fourth International.

Except that nowadays, as readers know, the Fourth International comes in a bewildering variety of splits and splinters: International Committee of the Fourth International, International Marxist Tendency, Committee for a Workers’ International, International Socialist Alternative, International Socialist Tendency, League for a Fifth International, International Revolutionary Left, International Workers’ League, International Bolshevik Tendency, Fourth International Posadist … and there are countless more. Oil-slick internationals every one, consisting of a thousand here, a hundred there, all the ways down to the micro national sections of ones, twos and threes. But nowhere is there a trace, a hint of a genuine class party.

No matter how we excuse Trotsky in terms of how things appeared on the eve of World War II, there is no escaping from the fact that he was wrong in both method and periodisation. Trade union struggles are not hegemonic. Without communist leadership they tend towards sectionalism: they do not lead, in and of themselves, to socialist consciousness. Nor was the 1930s economic downturn final, terminal. As Lenin repeatedly stressed, unless the working class consciously acts to take power, capitalism will always find a way out.

  1. J Bernard, ‘Placing demands on Labour’ Weekly Worker October 19 2023: www.weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1463/placing-demands-on-labour.↩︎

  2. Ceri Evans (1965-2002) joined the International Marxist Group in 1981, was active in the miners’ Great Strike and the anti-poll tax movement, but eventually ended up in Plaid Cymru.↩︎

  3. W Reisner (ed) Documents of the Fourth International: the formative years (1933-40) New York NY 1973, pp180-220.↩︎

  4. www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/05/parti-ouvrier.htm.↩︎

  5. LT Lih, ‘A curious case’ Weekly Worker December 17 2020: www.weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1328/a-curious-case.↩︎

  6. T Cliff Lenin Vol 2, London 1976. p124.↩︎

  7. A Woods Bolshevism: the road to revolution London 1999: www.marxist.com/bolshevism-the-road-to-revolution/the-birth-of-russian-marxism-7.htm#sigil_toc_id_281.↩︎

  8. VI Lenin CW Moscow 1977, p52.↩︎

  9. See J Conrad, ‘Marxism versus holy script’ Weekly Worker January 10 2019 (weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1233/marxism-versus-holy-script) for a more detailed rejoinder to the standard, Trotskyoid and academic, version of Bolshevik history.↩︎

  10. VI Lenin CW Vol 24, Moscow 1977, pp280-81.↩︎

  11. VI Lenin CW Vol 26, Moscow 1977, p169.↩︎

  12. Ibid p171.↩︎

  13. Ibid p171.↩︎

  14. VI Lenin CW Vol 27, Moscow 1977, p136.↩︎

  15. VI Lenin CW Vol 26, Moscow 1977, p171-72.↩︎

  16. Winston Churchill is reputed to have once said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” It should also be added that throughout the 1920s and into the 30s he had a definite admiration for the “Roman genius” Benito Mussolini and the fascisti regime in Italy (quoted in T Ali Winston Churchill: his times, his crimes London 2023, p184).↩︎

  17. R Luxemburg, ‘Our programme and the political situation’: www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/31.htm.↩︎

  18. See MJ Rocha, ‘From Schleswig to Anschluss: the plebiscites and referendums of interwar Germany’: digitalcommons.colby.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2436&context=honorstheses.↩︎

  19. J Riddell (ed) Towards the united front: proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 Chicago 2012, p632.↩︎

  20. For a useful Trotskyist account, see D Gaido, ‘The origins of the Transitional Programme’ Historical Materialism Vol 26, No4, 2018.↩︎

  21. K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 29, London 1987, p262.↩︎

  22. L Trotsky The transitional programme New York NY 1997, p111.↩︎

  23. Ibid p112.↩︎

  24. Ibid p114.↩︎

  25. I Deutscher The prophet outcast Oxford 1979, pp425-26.↩︎