On Cliff Slaughter’s Article


1. The Sectarians and the Dialectic
by Gérard Laffont (Daniel Assouline), of the Fourth International (Rebuilt) A Sectarian Method in the Discussion An initial remark that Comrade Slaughters article evokes concerns its method, its way of discussing, which is in reality a way of avoiding fundamental discussion. It begins with an attempt, typically sectarian, to disqualify the opponent from the start. Let us recall the beginning of the discussion or, more exactly, what I said in my article “The Class Nature of the Bureaucracy” that provoked this astonishing response from Cde Slaughter. The comrade speaks of an “attack” that I made on him, taking off from a sentence in his intervention during the meeting in London, last October 23. First, it is necessary to be understood on the exact meaning of the term “attack” when we (the party to which belong, whose name is the Fourth International – rebuilt) discuss within the vanguard, when we polemicise with other currents or with political opponents, we practice only one kind of “attack”; political criticism, debate on ideas, a polemic with the expressed and verifiable positions of those with whom we are discussing. This is not Cde Slaughter’s method, as will be seen. But even the tem “attack” is understood in the sense that we give it in our practice (this also is verifiable), the mere reading of my article will make it clear that this word very badly fits my remarks concerning the sentence in question of Cde Slaughter. Clearly, this sentence in itself does not provide anything to criticize. (It is completely different with what Cde Slaughter says now in his response.) As to the theory of the “dual nature” of the Stalinist bureaucracy being a fraud, as the comrade says, there has never been for us the shadow of a doubt. That this bureaucracy has a fundamentally counter-revolutionary nature, that it ceaselessly sacrifices the interests of the world revolution on the altar of the defence of its own parasitic caste privileges, still less. These are fundamental theses, confirmed by all historic experience, which are at the very basis of the constitution of the Fourth International. My remarks on the confusion that Cde Slaughter might introduce (and which l maintain) did not concern the general correctness of his words, but their general character (the fact that they remained general) in a very concrete context. Let us see! Cde Slaughter spoke on the same platform as did a representative of the Pabloite “United Secretariat”. Mandel himself had just written to Workers Press to defend the behaviour of the current he leads in regard to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In these conditions, and when one claims to be defending the program of the Fourth international in the light of this historic experience can one rest content with a vague allusion to a mysterious “theory” without saying who defends it, toward what end, nor what importance it has for the vanguard? And that is what reproached Cde Slaughter with. And that is why, with quotations from Mandel to support me. I explained what the Pabloite theory of the "dual nature" of the Stalinist bureaucracy consists of, the capitulatory attitude that this ‘theory‘ reveals and what Trotskyism counterposes, on this decisive terrain, to the revisionism of Mandel’s United Secretariat. And understand well; I am in no way reproaching Cde Slaughter (or the WRP) for speaking on the same platform as a representative of the Pabloite current, but for speaking so vaguely. Everyone knows that we are partisans of unity in action, on all possible terrains of the class struggle, between the different tendencies of the vanguard. We are very sincerely pleased with the fact that the WRP succeeded in organizing in unity a discussion on the Hungarian Revolution on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary. But once in the debate it is necessary to debate. Or not? It is only the sectarians who oppose unity in action under the pretext of ideological disagreements. But it is also a characteristic of sectarians (or rather, the other side of their incapacity to debate ideas with opponents} to beg the question, to shut up about or to erase political differences when the time comes for them to make unity. And l hope that Cde Slaughter will not retort to me that it is necessary to know how to act correctly in discussion, if one wishes to do everything possible to achieve unity of action! We think that it is necessary to do so in general, unity of action or not.


But let us say that there was another reason, developed in my article, why I emphasized the completely insufficient character tin a discussion, which like the one in London was supposed to take up the lessons of 1955 and the problems of the political revolution) of Cde Slaughter’s remarks. Our former comrade, the Hungarian revolutionary Michel Varga, was one of the mayor invited speakers (for the WRP, doubtless the major one) at this meeting. I pointed out that, under the same general formulations that Cde Slaughter used the group that Michel Varga represents, the GOCQl (Groupe d'Opposition et de Continuite de la Quatrieme lnternationale – Opposition and Continuity Group of the Fourth Interactional Trans.), has developed a whole series of conceptions and political positions that are, in our opinion, profoundly erroneous contrary to the programme of the Fourth international, close in many ways to Shachtmanism, etc. In doing so I was in no way placing in doubt the validity of the formulations used by Cde Slaughter. I was trying to show that one cannot remain on that level in order to arm the vanguard and contribute to building parties of the Fourth international: neither in relation to the complexity of the problems posed by the political revolution (from the Hungarian uprising of 1956 up to the present crisis in the USSR, passing through the Polish Revolution of 1980-1981), nor in relation to the diversity of positions that exist among the different currents that claim this revolution for their own (including the Pabloite current). Especially that, since 1965, there have been developments in the political revolution, that Trotskyist sections were established by the International Committee; and that, in particular, in the course of the Polish Revolution that began in 1980, one of these sections, the Revolutionary Workers League of Poland (Polish initials, RLRP – Trans.), fought to build a Trotskyist party; that that happened for the first time since the beginning of the crisis of the Fourth International (since the beginning of the 1950s); and that the political problems encountered in this practical light led to a differentiation of Michel Varga‘s current from ours, the Fourth international rebuilt; that a representative of our current, the Polish Trotskyist Stefan Bekier, well known in the WRP, had been invited to the London meeting but had not been able to express himself fully; and that, in every case, these political problems were perfectly well known by Cde Slaughter. In this context, my remark was only a friendly incitation to say more about it, in order for the discussions amongst currents claiming to be Trotskyists to go forward. Naturally Cde Slaughter has a perfect right to disagree with our positions and to agree with Michel Varga. I maintain, however, that there is not a real political agreement, one of ideas, between Cde Slaughter and Michel Varga but that rather there is a bloc, sealed to be sure by political interests in common, but in no way by an authentic community of views and principles. That is why Cde Slaughter “defends” Michel Varga...without going into the discussion that we are carrying on – and which my article made – with the political positions of Michel Varga. In other words, Slaughter “defends” Varga...without setting foot on the only ground on which we "attack” this person. Or, more exactly, in doing so with a great deal of prudence, remaining as abstract as possible, avoiding "prickly” subjects like the attitude toward Gorbachev’s “reforms”. Cde Slaughters pretence that l used a sentence of his to unleash my ‘attack' on Michel Varga is, very simply, ridiculous. Cde Slaughter is, l believe, the first British reader of Nouvelle Etape ("A New Stage” – Trans.), a pamphlet that while assembled and signed by me constitutes a collective work of my party, which is largely devoted to explaining our differences with Michel Varga. We certainly did not wait for a sentence from Cde Slaughter to polemicise with Michel Varga. And we have always done this in the way we do things: that is, by discussing what Michel Varga wrote, and by drawing the conclusions of what he wrote publicly. We maintain that this is the method of the Marxists. A Little Decency! Cde Slaughter, in contrast, has recourse, right from the start of his article to other petty arguments. Thus, alter having announced that an “attack” is underway, the comrade tells us that “this is not the first time that Slaughter and Varga have been attacked together”; already in 1966, in the time of the international Committee, they were attacked and accused of factionalism. The “attackers", solemnly concludes Cde Slaughter, were Healy, Banda and Lambert. And there l am in the company of hardly recommendable people, right? Alter having so “classified” me Cde Slaughter is going to discuss with his latest, in terms of date, “attacker”. But, as everyone knows in


advance, it is only a question of the latest offspring of a long lineage of people of well-known methods, whose course is likewise known. A little decency, Cde Slaughter, a little decency! It turns out that in the 1965 discussion, in our opinion Healy, Lambert and Banda were right politically, at bottom against Slaughter and Varga. But that is of little moment. Let us admit that the accusation of "factionalism” was completely unfounded, that what was going on was a defensive, nervous, sectarian reaction of a leadership – the International Committees – that had plenty of political inadequacies. Cde Slaughter will recognize all the same that this particular “attack” was of a different nature, qualitatively different (it is very much a question here of the dialectic), from other “attack “made not once, but for years by Healy and Banda in company with Cde Slaughter. We are especially thinking of the sadly famous “security campaign”. And there the term “attack” seems to us too weak and too neutral. We prefer the more exact one of cop slander One must not mix the things up. It turns out also that after the unilateral break by Healy (followed by Banda and Slaughter) with Lambert, Varga, Lora and ourselves, the crisis of the International Committee was sharply accelerated. After the dissolution of the International Committee by the OCI leadership and concretely since 1973 we fought against the violent slander campaign launched by the leaders of the OCI against our comrade Michel Varga with him – and now without him – we have not stopped waging the struggle against this campaign. Where was Cde Slaughter during the most difficult years of this battle? There was, moreover, no lack of opportunities for him to give witness to his solidarity with Michel Varga. It is true. that at the beginning of Lambert‘s campaign the International Committee (in a statement published in Workers Press on October 5. 1973) denounced the slanders made against Michel Varga. (2) But we know of no particular efforts by Cde Slaughter for his organization to take any active part in the struggle against these slanders we do know, on the other hand, once the leadership of the International Committee was in its turn engaged in a slander-campaign against the leaders of the American SWP, the conduct of Cde Slaughter, addressing himself by letter to Michel Varga to propose a bargain with him: defence against Lambert’s attacks in exchange for support in the international Committee’s ‘security campaign. Perhaps Cde Slaughter would like to forget this episode, certainly not very 'glorious’ for someone who wants to give us lessons in principles! And for all these reasons, Cde Slaughter would be well advised to show a little more modesty. Cliff Slaughter probably learned the method that consists of disqualifying a political opponent at the side of Healy and Banda. It is certainly not Lenin’s. And, as master thinker, we prefer him to the old comrades of Cde Slaughter, who seems not to have broken with all their ways. It would be really sad if the whole balance sheet of the WRP on the Healyite leadership came down to denouncing Healy‘s 'sexual abuses.‘ We have always thought that the clarification of the course and of the roots, fundamentally of the sectarianism that carne to dominate the whole life of the WRP (arid on the basis of which Healy was able to lead and to do as he did) was much more important for the future of this party than denouncing the behaviour of an individual. You have to get to the bottom of the problems it you want to solve them. I do not doubt for a minute the virtue of Cde Slaughter. But, on the political level, he too has permitted himself some abuses. And his polemical method is strongly redolent of Healyism. l would not have gone on in this way about my “attack” did I not think that his method stems from this mater political problem that concerns the WRP as a party and, more broadly, the vanguard. And if Cde Slaughter, instead of discussing in a normal way the political disagreements that might put us at odds, had not tried to assert his moral and political authority as a revolutionary leader by trying to discredit his opponent (in the event me) and, much more serious, by playing so lightly with history – of his party and mine. Discussing the bureaucracy and on the problems of the political revolution, one sees that Cde Slaughter replaces dialectical thinking with the art of prestidigitation.

The Origin of the Discussion
The polemic that Slaughter wages is false, to the extent that he denounces positions that are not ours and that, while knowing this perfectly well (differently from those reading him), he attributes to us. The discussion, however. is possible, although a little more difficult, to the extent that Cde


Slaughter, in trying to knock down the straw man he had already made of our views, just the same shows his positions and his method of thinking. Indeed. The comrade devotes pages to combating the theory of the bureaucracy’s "dual nature” which he knows perfectly well we have never defended. And the comrade throws it up to me that no document by Trotsky attributes a “dual nature" to the Satanist bureaucracy .Certainly not. No more than any document adopted (or accepted} by our party. Cde Slaughter knows, it only from reading Nouvelle Etape, the origin and the development of the discussion in our ranks on the class nature of the bureaucracy. The origin is to be toured in a debate taken up within our Polish section in the period following Jaruzelski coup. In a document produced by the Warsaw comrades, the formulation “dual nature" appeared, with a content similar to that given to that expression by Pabloism in the 1950s. The appearance of this position was important. Because it above all meant, arising in an organization trained up against the Pabloite theory of the “dual nature” that the pressure of Stalinism in crisis was beginning to be directly exercised against our comrades; that is, that a tendency of the Polish working class or its vanguard could take it up on its own in the very course of the revolution. And that was all the more important since this position existed in a faction of the international working class in general. A document polemicising with the Warsaw one, written this time by the Committee Abroad of the RLRP declared that since the betrayal of the German proletariat in 1933, one could no longer speak of any kind or “dual nature” or the bureaucracy. In this document, the comrades of the Committee Abroad were completely right in emphasizing the fundamentally counterrevolutionary character of the Stalinist bureaucracy (against the Warsaw comrades, who deduced from its supposedly “dual nature” a character alternatively – and at the same time – revolutionary and counterrevolutionary). But the expression used (that there no longer is any “dual nature”) was ambiguous. For it one said that, one might also believe that before 1933 the bureaucracy had a “dual nature”, which would introduce a confusion not only about what the bureaucracy was before 1933, but also after (as if it had had two natures before and only one – afterwards, a bourgeois nature). THE international Executive Committee assigned me to intervene in the discussion publicly – given the importance of this debate in the Polish working class itself – through an article ('L‘oeuf dans le nid d'autrui, 'The egg in the nest of another ·- Trans.)}, reprinted in the pamphlet Nouvelle Etape. Whilst supporting the position of the comrades of the RLRP’s Committee Abroad, I also stated (against the ambiguity of the expression that 'one can no longer speak of “nature”) that in a social or class sense, to the extent that this bureaucracy was not emancipated from the workers’ state, to the extent that the Stalinist regime remained a 'disfigured but incontestable' manifestation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, one could still, in this sense, speak of a “dual nature” in quotation marks. I added that this expression was very bad, inappropriate for accounting tor the phenomenon in question, and linked. In the history of the Fourth international, to Pabloite revisionism, whose similarities with the positions defended by the Warsaw comrades I showed. The utilization (with all necessary precautions) or this formulation responded strictly to the needs of a polemic, and not to any pretension to characterize the bureaucracy by this lamentable expression which, as such, is profoundly anti-Marxist ). Still less was it a question of anyone among us laying claim to a formulation that, in its form as well as in the content that Pabloism has historically given it, the Fourth international has always fought. At that time, the polemical character predominated in this article, because in the Polish working class, and in the framework of the appearance or Pabloite conceptions in the one hand and Shachtmanite on the other, among the worthier opposed to the bureaucracy, it was the necessity for this discussion, in a deepened way, that was beginning to appear. For all the comrades, concerned with the problems of the Polish Revolution and our Polish section. the importance of returning, in the practical course of a revolution, to our theoretical argument was very clear. To be sure, there was always the 'risk' of a revision. But only the sectarians tear a discussion. And it was against the necessity for this discussion that Michel Varga and Janos Borovi first rebelled, who strove on purpose to muddle things up, comparing, when they tools up a faction light against our leadership, starting off on a crusade against a ‘resurgence' of Pabloism in our International. For this faction, it was in reality a question of avoiding a discussion, the real


discussion that was posed and which had nothing to do with any kind of 'dual nature ' of the bureaucracy that no one (apart from the Warsaw comrades) among us defended: the discussion on the nature of the rule of the bureaucracy {with all the major political implications that this involves from the point of view of program, or tactics, the policy of alliances and, in a word, of building the revolutionary party that has to lead the overthrow of this bureaucracy). And, in this discussion, the faction would reveal itself as having many Shachtmanite positions, among them a profound ignorance of and distrust toward the materialist dialectic. A sectarian faction, it tended to avoid discussion of its positions and of ours) by hurling anathemas; “This expression was used! Therefore the IEC thinks that there is a “dual nature”! Therefore you are Pabloites (or worse yet)! Therefore, therefore, therefore... We are not exaggerating. All the documents of the faction are available, and upon reading them, the militants of the WRP will be able to establish to themselves that Michel Varga and his friends were not far away from discovering the 'revolutionary syllogism' so dear to Healy. On the contrary, we consider, a posteriori that this discussion, begun on account of a real, practical problem encountered in the struggle of our section, then developed into a faction fight that lasted more than a year has armed our current more than any other on the present burning questions of the political revolution in the USSR and Eastern Europe. And on account of that, we are very much ready to discuss this topic, and ask Cde Slaughter what he thinks about Gorbachev’s "reforms” – to which he has not yet responded. Let us come then to what he has written.

Unity of Opposites and "Dual Nature"
We do not claim to “teach” Cde Slaughter something that he “doesn't know”, as he does to us in a professorial and pedantic tone when he talks to us about the workers’ state. We recall excellent things written by Cde Slaughter, in the time of the International Committee, on Lenin and the dialectic. More modestly, we will note about him that, probably in the course of the 'leaden years' of Healy, which were hardly propitious for the development of Marxism (except, concretely, in a struggle against Healy’s sectarian political course and all its implications}. Cde Slaughter’s thinking seems to have become rather dried out. Especially since in his article the comrade seems likewise less to be pursuing a scientific goal (a theoretical demonstration), and much more to be seeking an immediate practical goal preserving a temporary ally, Michel Varga, from our ideological criticism. From then on, the dialectic, which goes badly together with pragmatism, can only find itself manhandled. Let us therefore look at this more closely. Trotsky, in fact, never did talk about a 'dual nature' of the bureaucracy. The expression is Pabloite. And it corresponds completely to the ‘theory' in question, especially developed by Mandel. In what, does the anti-Marxist, non-dialectical character of this formulation, to which I referred above, consist? In that this expression does not take account of a unity or opposites, of a struggle between two mutually exclusive contradictory tendencies within a given phenomenon (in the event, the social formation that is the Soviet bureaucracy) but on the contrary this "dual nature" would mean the existence (or better the coexistence; of two natures (in practice, of two parallel 'entities’ which are manifested alternatively, one or the other according to circumstances. And which, while being contradictory in their respective ‘essences’ do not carry on a struggle between them, determining through this struggle the development the movement or `self-movement' of the phenomenon in question. The formulation “dual nature” constitutes a real monstrosity from the point of view of the dialectic. That is why Trotsky never employed it in regard to the bureaucracy, no more than he used it,… in regard to the Soviet stare…Trotsky speaks of a dual character of the state, of a duality of its functions, but in no way of a “dual nature” of this state. The duality of the character of the Soviet state is effectively determined by the existence of contradictory, counterposed tendencies – bourgeois and socialist – within this state. And it is the struggle between these “mutually exclusive" tendencies (and not between two 'natures) that determines the physiognomy and the future of the workers’ state. I have no intention of splitting hairs. But the introduction by Cde Slaughter of the term “dual nature” in terms of the workers’ state, while it might be a profession of faith in “orthodoxy” in relation to the formulations used by Trotsky cannot be a simple slip.


The formulation 'dual nature' is as bad, as anti-dialectical, in regard to the workers’ state as in regard to its bureaucracy. Neither Trotsky nor we ourselves make use of it, neither for the one nor the other. Cde Slaughter, for his part, attributes a dual nature to the workers’ state for the same reason, following the same method of thinking that led him to deny the contradictory character of the Stalinist bureaucracy. And the denial of this contradictory character of the bureaucracy is no more Marxist, no more dialectical, than to attribute a “dual nature” to it (nor than to attribute this “dual nature” to the state). Cde Slaughter deduces from my assertion of the contradictory character of the bureaucracy that I attribute a 'dual nature' to it. There is, as l said, a good bit of falsity in this self-interested 'deduction.' when the comrade knows our position on the matter. But there is also a good bit of truth, of sincerity, in Cde Slaughters remarks, it is that fundamentally, he conceives of the unity of opposites only as an opposition between two distinct entities and not as a struggle between two tendencies of a single phenomenon “the splitting of the one into mutually exclusive opposites and reciprocal relations between them”, as Lenin said brings both of them even though they are not aware of it, close to Mandel. Cde Slaughter in reality reasons according to ideal categories. He separates the parts of 'the one' so as to make separates entities out of them, thus lifeless abstractions while each exists independently of their unity and of their opposition of their reciprocal relations that confer on ‘the one’ its life and its movement.

There is No state Without a Bureaucracy
“Thus the dual nature of the workers’ state” – writes Slaughter — “is dual precisely in that the working class and the bureaucracy are the proletarian (socialist) and the bourgeois sides of this duality!” Well, no. That is not at all the case. The proletariat constitutes itself as the ruling class through the installation of its dictatorship, which it exercises through a state. The necessity of this state flows from the very necessity for “hastening the growth of material power” (All quotations in this section are from The Revolution Betrayed, 1970 Pathfinder edition; this first reference is to page 54 – Trans.), indispensable for the coming of the socialist society. But as Marx said, “law can never be higher than the economic structure and the cultural development of society conditioned by that structure” (cited in text, p.53; emphasis in original – Trans.), the workers’ state undertakes socialist construction while utilizing bourgeois forms of distribution. Thus, as Trotsky said - and as Cde Slaughter seems, but only seems, to take up in his own behalf – “The State assumes directly and from the very beginning a dual character: socialistic, insofar as it defends social property in the means of production: bourgeois insofar as the distribution of life’s goods is carried out with a capitalistic measure of value and all the consequences ensuing therefrom” {p. 54 – Trans.}. Or again: 'insofar as the state which assumes the task of socialist transformation is compelled to defend inequality ·- that is, the material privileges of a minority by methods of compulsion, insofar does it also remain a “bourgeois” state even though without a bourgeoisie" (p. 54 -· Trans).

But Trotsky does not separate artificially, as Slaughter does, bureaucracy and state. “The dual function of the state,” adds Trotsky, could not but affect its structure...For the defence of bourgeois law” the workers’ state was compelled to create a bourgeois type of instrument – that is, the same old gendarme although in a new uniform" (pp. 54-55, emphasis added – Trans.), that is; there is no workers’ state without a bureaucracy. This organ of a “bourgeois” type will continue to exist so long as and to the extent that inequalities and the necessity to solve them in the sphere of consumption of the distribution of goods in society continue to exist, with the aid of “bourgeois law” or “according to “a capitalistic measure of value.” That is, as long as the need exists for a state. Of course, since the task of this state is to hasten the transition to a classless, self-administering society, which as a result in no way needs an instrument of constraint (a state), the question of degree is completely decisive here. “An incidental but very essential task of the state which realizes the dictatorship consists in preparing for its own dissolution. The degree of realization of this incidental” task is, to some extent. a measure of its success in the fulfilment of its fundamental


mission: the construction of a society without classes and without material contradictions. Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportional to each other” (p. 52 – Trans). In given historic conditions, the bureaucracy of the first proletarian state reached such a degree of development. has so strengthened the bourgeois tendencies inherent in this state that, without a new revolutionary leap by the proletariat, this bureaucracy, “becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie” will conclude by overthrowing the new property relations and plunging the country back into Capitalism, "with a catastrophic decline in production and culture.' That is the historic justification of the political revolution. But the task of this revolution – the only one possible and conceivable at this stage of historical development ·· is the regeneration of the workers’ state and in no way its abolition. The working class has to “crush the bureaucracy to put it “out of condition to do harm”; such are the expressions used by Trotsky. The political revolution is necessary 'to put the workers’ state back on the road to socialism} that is, on the road to its own disappearance. But the workers’ state, even regenerated by the rebirth of Soviet democracy, to the extent that it remains a slate, will maintain its duality – and will maintain a bureaucracy. To be sure ·· and this is decisive – reduced to the absolute minimum necessary, subject to the strictest possible control by the working class through the exercise of Soviet democracy, etc. And certainly, in the conditions of development reached by the USSR, the proportions of this bureaucracy will have nothing in common with those monstrous proportions reached by the parasitic caste presently in power. No more than the degree of separation of the new – and highly watched over – “gendarme” from the proletariat will have anything to with the wall of privileges or with the despotism that counterposes, in an irreconcilable way, the Stalinist bureaucracy to the Soviet proletariat and its socialist interests. But as long as socialist construction will need to have recourse to a state, a certain bureaucracy will continue to exist, which will totally disappear only with the complete withering away of this state.

The Absolute and the Relative
This development was necessary to show where Ode. Slaughter lost his way. The dual character of the state means the duality of its functions, and not the opposition between the proletariat and the bureaucracy. This second aspect flows from the fact that the proletariat can exercise its dictatorship only through a state, and that this slate – “the slate of armed workers" — generates, in proportions that are all the greater the more the cultural and material bases left by capitalism are backward, a bureaucracy, a “gendarme” called upon to arbitrate the social inequalities, with all the consequences and dangers that flow from this. In other words, the duality of the workers’ state, its dual character, is internal to this phenomenon, to this state. This duality relates to the splitting of the one (the workers’ state) into contradictory tendencies, bourgeois and socialist, which struggle between themselves and fashion this state. The opposition and the degree of opposition between the bureaucracy and the proletariat (and its socialist interests) are the result and are produced in function of the struggle between the internal and counterposed tendencies of the workers’ state; that is, in function of the march of this state toward its own withering away or, on the contrary, of the constant strengthening of the bureaucracy, a development that is itself a function and a factor of the struggle between the fundamental classes on the world scale. As Lenin said: “The unity (coincidence, Identity, equivalence) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle between mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, as the development and the movement are absolute” (From On the question of the dialectic). In the struggle between the two tendencies inherent in the workers’ state, one will end up prevailing over the other: forward, in the direction of socialism and the progressive extinction of the state; or backwards, with the return to capitalism and the collapse of this same state. Certainly, the fate of the workers’ state depends on the whole development of the world class struggle. But all of this complex process has a constant and determining effect on the workers’ state, concretely through the effect on its two counterposed tendencies; that is, on the struggle that determines the “movement” the future of this state. In my opinion, Cde Slaughter does not understand the duality of the State about which he speaks at such length in his article. The duality is not given by the counterposition between two “sides” of this state: the socialist side that the proletariat represents and the bourgeois side that is


incarnated by the bureaucracy. This is a mechanical, even idealist view of the problem. Socialism will know nothing of classes or, as a result, of the proletariat. The proletariat is socialist to the extent that, in order to achieve its emancipation, it opens the road to socialism through a state: a State that is “Socialist" only to the extent that it works for the coming of the new society. The bureaucracy of this state (even a revolutionary bureaucracy) is a “bourgeois” type of instrument. But the bureaucracy is not the bourgeoisie, neither is it, even at the current moment, fully and strictly an organ of the world bourgeoisie. If that were the case, one could no longer speak of the USSR as a workers’ state. The bureaucracy says our programme “is becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state” (emphasis added – Trans}. This means: tends more and more every day to be, without this process being entirety completed, or, again, it is already so to an extent that grows ceaselessly, but is not yet complete.

A Bureaucracy Independent of the State?
Trotsky‘s formulation is dialectical, grasps a movement as well as a stage, (and) the degree reached by this movement. Slaughters formulation excludes this movement. Trotsky points out an internal contradiction of the state and maker, a prognosis on the development of this contradiction. Slaughter, for his part perceives a “dual nature” of this state. Trotsky's analysis, because it is dialectical, constitutes a powerful theoretical lever for the revolutionary activity of the proletariat. It provides it with a clear program. The bureaucracy of this state, which grows within this state, which gives it gangrene and disfigures it, is in the process of becoming the instrument of imperialism; it has not yet become so to the point of having annihilated the socialist relations of production, but already to the point of being a mortal threat to them, and the proletariat must prepare to overthrow it by force of a new revolution it wishes to preserve these relations and to go forward to socialism. Despite his formal agreement with this program, when the time comes to apply it in the living process of the political revolution, Slaughter shows that he has not at all understood it, not at all penetrated into its dialectic. For him, the bureaucracy is an independent entity separated, emancipated in some way from the workers’ state from which it is issued and on the basis of which (in which) it has developed and lives like a cancer in a human body. Slaughter is not aware of the absurdity that denying the contradictory character of the bureaucracy represents or of the fact that by itself this would mean placing the Marxist analysis of the USSR as a workers’ state (which remains working class despite its bureaucratic degeneration) in doubt. Stating that the Stalinist bureaucracy has a contradictory character, even before being more precise, ought to be something obvious for a Marxist. Is this bureaucracy, among all existing phenomena, the only one that denies the dialectical law of the unity of opposites? This was not the opinion of Trotsky, whose every characterisation, every approach to the phenomenon of the Soviet bureaucracy, places its internal contradictions and their dynamic in sharp relief. This bureaucracy undermines more and more every day the socialist economic foundations of the workers’ state...while maintaining “in its own way” (the worst possible} collective property in the means of production. Its rule constitutes the graves: source of danger for the USSR...but its regime, Stalinist Bonapartism, still incarnates (in a disfigured but incontestable way) the dictatorship of the proletariat. Even on the world arena where moreover, as Trotsky said, there is no trace of the dual role that is the bureaucracy’s in the workers’ state, where it fully plays a role of disorganization and demoralisation of the workers’ movement, the interests of the workers’ state are “refracted” through the bureaucracy’s policy. No. this bureaucracy is in no way independent of the state. Embarrassed by the problem, Slaughter attributes to me some stupidities that I never made: “This bureaucracy has a particular role the state and not just the general character, emphasised exclusively by Laffont, of representing in highly distorted form and defending by its own methods the conquests laid down by the October Revolution Here, I am close to confessing myself defeated; one cannot reason with bad faith. What can you do with a disputant who, after hearing you clearly and distinctly say “white” cries out: “Black, he said black?” Where did Cde Slaughter see me “emphasise exclusively” the role of defender of the socialist conquests by the Satirist bureaucracy? Or again, where did he see me put on the same level balancing them, the fundamentally counter-revolutionary character of the


bureaucracy in regard to the world proletariat and the workers’ state itself and the fact that, remaining at the head of this state and not having become a new ruling class, this bureaucracy is competed to defend the socialist economic foundations of the USSR? Where did the comrade see that in my article or in what document, it really doesn‘t matter which, of the Fourth International rebuilt? He could not have seen it anywhere. “Attributing an obvious stupidity to an opponent so as to be able to refute it later – said Lenin – “is a method of not very intelligent persons”. I think that in the case of Cde Slaughter, who abandons himself to this game, it is above all a lack of being accustomed to really discussing with someone which is a heritage of Healyite sectarianism. And this sectarianism inspired neither thinking nor a method that is “very intelligent”. But there is also a measure of sincerity in Cde Slaughter’s remarks. That is; no longer thinking dialectically, no longer knowing how to analyze a social formation like the bureaucracy as a living phenomenon, as a process in development, with its internal contradictions and its multiple relations with the classes and with the state on which it is a parasite, no longer being able to do that, the comrade can only conceive of our assertion (that the characterization of this bureaucracy as a fundamentally counter-revolutionary force) does not exhaust the analysis of the phenomenon as the denial of this counter-revolutionary character.

The Dialectic and Class Criteria
Trotsky’s method of thinking and this is what gives it power and value for enlightening the road of revolutionary action of the proletariat, was very different: 'Marxist thought is concrete; that is it envisages all the decisive or important factors for a given question not only in their reciprocal relations, but still more in their development. It does not dissolve the situation of the present moment in the general perspective, but through the general perspective it makes the analysis of the present situation in all its specificity possible. It is precisely with this concrete analysis that politics begin. Opportunist thought and sectarian thought have this common trait they extract out of the complexity of circumstances and of forces one or two factors that seem most important to them – and that sometimes are in fact — isolating them from the complex reality and attributing to them a force without limit or restriction.' Cde Slaughter proceeds precisely with this method consisting of extracting an element of the reality – in the discussion that concerns us, "the most important” – and attributing to it an absolute and all-powerful force. Even if this element is, on the political level, the most important, it does not have such strength that it has to stifle our search to better understand reality, when we “relativise” the assertion of the fundamentally counter-revolutionary character of the bureaucracy, that is, when we situate this fundamental trait attained by this social formation in the framework of the relations that it carries on with imperialism, the proletariat and the workers’ state in the framework of an evolution that makes this bureaucracy ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state, the comrade shouts loudly of betrayal. “Aha”, he says to us, believing that we have been caught “with our hand in the till” as Michel Varga likes to say, “according to you, the bureaucracy is no longer counterrevolutionary‘?' The comrade ought to reflect on these few noteworthy lines from Lenin "Subjectivism (scepticism and sophism, etc.) are distinguished from the dialectic in that, among other things, in the dialectic (objective) the difference between the absolute and the relative is itself relative. For the objective dialectic, in the relative there is the absolute. For subjectivism and sophism, the relative is only relative and excludes the absolute. This is something that seems to me to go beyond Cde Slaughter’s understanding. This led him once to make me a present of a “pearl” (attributing its paternity to me): “Laffont himself goes on to say that although the bureaucracy has primarily a reactionary character, it also has a proletarian class nature in that it defends the conquests of October”. The dialectic having been definitively shoved aside we are here in the lull exercise of illusionism. And the comrade handles the hat and rabbit as badly as he does the dialectic. The bureaucracy therefore has, according to me supposedly, a “reactionary” nature on one side and a “proletarian nature” on the other; what absurdity! In Slaughter’s sentence there is a political term and a class term. And this is the comrade who accuses me of artificially separating social analysis and political characterisation! He who turns out to be incapable – for there is still some sincerity on his part – of


grasping the level or the social analysis of a phenomenon and the level or the political synthesis otherwise than as the assertion of two natures. “Permit me”, as the comrade says, I have never said what he claims. For the Fourth International, the Stalinist bureaucracy is, in the fundamental direction of its whole oscillating policy reactionary, counterrevolutionary, alien to socialism (which is not at all the same thing as saying it is “alien to the workers’ state”). But this character of the bureaucracy flows from its social nature and from the place that it occupies in the class struggle. The bureaucracy is not a new possessing class: it has never created its own social basis, on the level of the relations of production, tor its rule and its privileges. The degeneration of the USSR has not yet passed from the sphere of distribution to the sphere of property, and in this sense the state remains proletarian. The bureaucracy of this state, which has not yet become a new class nor hatched from its ranks a class of proprietors, is in reality nothing but an instrument of fundamental classes that confront each other and struggle on the world arena. To the extent that this bureaucracy remains at the head of the state and that, by the "healthy fear that the workers inspire in it, “it is obliged to preserve the new relations of production, this bureaucracy is, “by this aspect of its activity”, the instrument or the dictatorship or the proletariat. At the same time, its privileged social position and the despotism by which the bureaucracy defends the power usurped from the workers inexorably drive it to become more and more every day an instrument or imperialism. Thus, from a class point of view, the bureaucracy has an intermediate and contradictory, organically unstable, “worker-bourgeois” in character, as I said in my article, taking up the formulation in a resolution adopted by our international Executive Committee in January 1984. Naturally, here the sociological categories “worker” and “bourgeois”, applied to a social formation that is not a class, are to be taken in an approximate sense, as a first step, necessitating numerous complementary precisions, toward the understanding or the phenomenon studied. Thus the resolution explained that the “worker” side or this contradiction referred to the past, to the distant origins and traditions that, as Trotsky already said, “The bureaucracy has at bottom long since disavowed” the links of this bureaucracy with the workers’ state, from which it has not succeeding in detaching itself, and also to the links of this bureaucracy, as long as it remains, with the Soviet proletariat and the international workers’ movement. The “bourgeois” side of the contradiction, on the other hand, refers to the fundamental direction of the bureaucracy's evolution. Cde Slaughter rebels against the introduction of sociological criteria in the analysis of the bureaucracy. This renunciation of class criteria could not be more significant. As Trotsky said in his polemic with Shachtman and the petty bourgeois opposition in the SWP: “In Marxist sociology, the initial point of analysis is the class definition of a phenomenon, e.g., state. Party, philosophic trend, literary school, etc. In most cases” – adds Trotsky (as in the present case) – “however, the mere class definition is inadequate...It becomes necessary to bring up these second and third-rate factors, and they are taken either partially or completely, depending upon the specific aim. But for a Marxist analysis is impossible without a class characterization of the phenomenon under consideration” (“From a Scratch to the Danger of Gangrene”, In Defence of Marxism; Merit edition, 1955; p. 129 Trans,}.

A Digression on the Labour Party
Thus, according to Cde Slaughter, neither the dialectic nor Marxist sociology are applicable to the analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy. And when he tries to apply them to other phenomena that he believes he best understands, the workers’ state, the Labour Party...it is only to discover there at every step a “dual nature”. Decidedly! No, Cde Slaughter, the British Labour Party does not have, either a “dual nature”. The nature of this party is “worker-bourgeois”. The characterization of the patty in its totality as “worker-bourgeois” has always had this meaning for the Marxists: the comprehension of the nature of an organization that by its origins, its composition and its links with the proletariat, is a workers’ organization, contributes to constituting the proletarians as a class and that by the social elevation and corruption of the bureaucracy that leads this party, by its links with the bourgeoisie and its state, transmits the interests of this bourgeoisie among the workers, reins in their activity and their class consciousness, and thus plays a conservative role, of defence of capitalist property, which gives it a "bourgeois' character. Here also the application of the term “dual nature” would indicate the parallel existence of two class entities, clearly distinct and


separate, the one from the other, without reciprocal links. The expression “worker-bourgeois party” indicates a contradiction, a movement (which the thinking of Cde Slaughter does grasp), the knowledge of which is completely decisive for the revolutionaries fight, for their tactics, etc. Up to a certain point, the bourgeoisie “leads” the British proletariat, through the Labour bureaucracy and through the aristocracy of labor in the trade unions. But indirectly and up to a certain point only. This bureaucracy is not the bourgeoisie or even a faction of the bourgeoisie. Our program, referring both to the Social Democratic and Stalinist leaderships, speaks of petty bourgeois leaderships. Of course, this is once again a question to a sociological analogy. But it is indispensable just the same to understanding what we are talking about: profoundly attached to the defence of the bourgeois order, these leaderships are nothing outside or their organizations and the links they maintain with the working class. Marxism does not speak of “workers’ parties with a bourgeois leadership” as Cde Slaughter seems to understand it. No more than Trotsky ever spoke of a workers’ state led by a strictly bourgeois organ. A state or a party is, in a decisive measure, what their leaderships are. Marxism, the dialectic, in contrast speak of “a workers’ state remaining to a certain extent a “bourgeois state” (referring to the intrinsic duality or any proletarian state), of “a degenerated workers’ state” (taking account of the concrete development undergone by this state); or again, of "worker-bourgeois parties” of petty bourgeois or opportunist leaderships (when the goal is to emphasize the character of their policy), etc. But a “ workers’ party with a bourgeois leadership” can only be a bourgeois party organized of workers, never a “worker-bourgeois" party in the accepted sense that Marxism has given to this expression, in which there is no trace or any kind of “dual nature” whatsoever, but let us repeat it – or the dialectical unity of opposites.

Once Again, On what is At Stake in the Discussion
But let us come back to conclude, to the Stalinist bureaucracy and the workers’ state, where the method employed by Trotsky to analyze these phenomenon is the same one utilized by the Marxism of Lenin to study parties and unions. It is in a completely pertinent way that Trotsky, again in his polemic with Shachtman, used this analogy: “in the last analysis a workers’ state is a trade union which has conquered power “Again and Once More Again, On the Nature of the USSR,' in Defence or Marxism; p. 25 -Trans). Cde Slaughter will doubtless agree with this analogy, but this is only because he uncovers in the union as in the state and probably in everything else that happens in the class struggle – this tiresome “dual nature”. Why does the comrade refuse to apply the criteria of Marxist analysis to the Stalinist bureaucracy? Because despite his attempt to artificially separate this bureaucracy from the state, the comrade reels that he is moving on to shaky ground and will end up touching on the State itself. And Cde Slaughters ‘orthodoxy' would take a serious blow from this. That is why the comrade, avoiding sociology, insists on the reactionary character of the methods and customs or the bureaucracy. That is surely why he advises us to read – in fact very instructive – Rakovsky (e.g., “The Letter to Valentinov” – Trans). But, as Trotsky said, “it is impossible to define the social nature of the bureaucracy by its virtue or its baseness.' And this is not a criticism of Rakovsky, who contributed to the understanding of the phenomenon of the Soviet bureaucracy, but of Cliff Slaughter, who turns away from the fundamentals of the discussion. One is tempted to say, all proportions guarded, that Cde Slaughter proceeds with the bureaucracy as with Healy; the “abuses” suffice to explain everything. Slaughter avoids Marxist sociology when speaking of the bureaucracy because, if he were consistent with the idea that the “dual nature” of the USSR has turned into, the comrade would have to conclude that it was a question of a bourgeois social formation, that it was already a question of a new class. This is the only possible conclusion and logic flowing from the autonomy that the comrade attributes in fact to this bureaucracy in regard to the workers’ state. But the comrade knows that to accept this conclusion implies saying that this state is no longer working class … with the horde of theoretical and political problems that flow from this. Naturally, the comrade will fiercely deny that he has arrived at this conclusion. However, outside of the consciousness that Cde Slaughter may himself have of this, this conclusion (and the fear of facing it), underlie all his positions on the proletariat’s struggle in the political revolution {and his


silence on the problems poses by the present crisis of the Soviet bureaucracy and Gorbachev’s “reforms”. And one thus arrives at a rapprochement, in the most general theoretical domain as well as in the practical attitude preached to the Soviet workers about Gorbachev, among people in principle counterposed on every point: Mandel and his Pabloite positions on one side, and Cliff Slaughter and Michel Varga with their peculiar Shachtmanism on the other. The paradox is only an apparent one. Because to forget or to erase one of the two terms of the contradiction internal to the bureaucracy, the “worker” term or the “bourgeois” term, leads either to considering this bureaucracy as an historically necessary social formation (Pablo) or to seeing in it a new exploiting class (Shachtman), to be sure, or an unheard-of despotism, but all in all and in terms of history, likewise inevitable and necessary. And in the domain of the political practice of the proletariat, Mandel and Michel Varga Slaughter shies away this time from the questions that the positions of his ally raise) come to not very distant conclusions as to the necessity IDT it more or less critical support to the Reforming wing" of the Stalinist bureaucracy Varga whom I quoted in my first article, speaks of ‘support to its wing on the march.”

(1) If, as we believe, Slaughter is referring to the discussion in regard to the attitude to be taken toward the French group “Voix Ouvrière” today “Lutte Ouvrière”. In this discussion Lambert and Healy were right in stating the incompatible character of the conceptions of this group (which denies the existence of any organized continuity or Trotskyism since before the war) with the Fourth Interactional and to spurn the perspective of an organizational fusion. (2) The declaration of the International Committee concludes in this way; 'These methods of falsifications and slanders discredit the Fourth International and recall the worst Stalinist methods. But they are politically deuced from abandoning the building of the Fourth international and the fight for dialectical materialism as the theory of knowledge of Marxism. It is high time that the OCI and those who support Varga re-examine the whole history of the split and return to the road of Trotskyism (Translated from French; not the original English ·· Trans,). We have precisely, never accepted that cop slander is the “logical” consequence (that it is “politically deduced”) from any kind of opportunist orientation. Nothing in any way obliges an opportunist or a centrist to become a slanderer. Very fortunately otherwise: without this the fight of the revolutionaries to re-establish the truth in the ranks of the workers would be in vain. Trotsky, as is known, and the example of the "Dewey Commission" proves this, was not of this opinion. It is doubtless in function of this reasoning that the International Committee rejected any initiative for a Commission of inquiry into Lambert's slanders: such a commission would necessarily have been made up of “non-members” of the IC, whose “centrism" would "logically' predispose them toward being slanderers.


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