Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No. 7. April, 17 1974
Once again Mr Rotherham
Once again Mr Rotherham
Despite having had two weeks to compose a reply to my rejoinder Mr Rotherham's latest apology for Trotskyism is distinguished merely by its schoolboy evasion of the central points at issue. Anyone reading Salient for the first time last week would be justified in thinking that our discussion has nothing to do with Solzhenitsyn and the class struggle under socialism.
Rotherham's silence about Solzhentisyn came as no suprise to me. Three weeks ago I read in 'Intercontinental Press', an organ of the SWP of America, an article on Solzhenitsyn's letter to the Kremlin which revealed the acute embarrassment now being experienced by his Trotskyite defenders. And following its one constant principle—"If it rains in New York, all SALers will put up their umbrellas"—the Socialist Action League is ducking for cover.
The editor of 'Socialist Action' signalled the new line when he stated, in the course of evading points raised in a letter, that "it appears Solzhenitsyn's ideas are evolving to the right." ('Socialist Action', March 29, 1974). One can only assume that for Locke, Solzhenitsyn's attack years ago on the national liberation and revolutionary movements, defence of the South African racists, regurgitation of US lies about the NFL, etc were not right wing.
All three points raised by Rotherham further demonstrate his incapacity to understand basic Marixist-Leninist principles, particularly the reality of class struggle under socialism.
To summarise: Rotherham adheres to Trotsky's spurious theory of the Soviet bureaucracy which is mechanically transferred to all countries. But to Marxist-Leninists, socialist society covers a fairly long historical period. During this period classes, class contradictions and class struggle continue, the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road continues and the danger of capitalist restoration, spearheaded by new and old bourgeois forces, remains. This struggle is protracted, complex and becomes very acute at times.
Because he does not understand this, Rotherham is reduced to mouthing liberal phrases and debating tricks. To him the following is a crushing argument. He claims that with my 2customary clumsiness" I give further evidence for the correctness of the charge of monolithism when I "admit that dissidents will emerge in China and in the future". (Apparently Rotherham feels that redundancy is particularly nimble-witted.)
A naive reader might conclude from this that the skilful-Rotherham had trapped me into an admission of something I had previously denied. His argument is nothing more than a puerile attempt to cover up his own ignorance of past ideological struggles in China to which I had pointed in my previous letter.
He says "regardless of their political ideas and programme, Auld knows in advance that these people (i.e. dissidents) 'will be bearers of bourgeois ideology'. This kind of 'logic' has a practical usefulness, of course; it is much easier to crush political oppononts who have been tried and convicted in advance.'
Rotherham's argument has a certain practical usefulness. It is designed to obscure the fundamental question which divides us in this debate: Is there class struggle in socialist society?
Rotherham's nimble answer shows that he cannot come to grips with this question. Instead he chose to make a childish distortion of my arguments. Unlike Mr Rotherham, being a Marxist I believe in causal law. In all socialist countries without exception, the class struggle has raged in many different forms in the economic base and in the superstructure. Just as this struggle in the past has thrown up bourgeois elements, so it will in the future. It is inevitable. And unless people recognise this inevitability they will be ideologically unprepared to meet it head-on.
The struggle between proletarian and non-proletarian ideology in a socialist society is one which is protracted and complex precisely because people who sincerely consider themselves proletarian revolutionaries advance policies which serve the interests of the old exploiting classes. Contrary to Rotherham's inventions, Mao Tsetung has spent a considerable part of his energies to bring home to the Chinese people the necessity for vigorous struggle to resolve the class Contradictions in the superstructure. "Never forget class struggle!", is one of his most important slogans.
Rotherham is simply being foolish when he implies that in China there is "suppression of all critical thought, around a system where the masses adhere to one line which is set 'for them", or else risk being labelled "reactionary'."
Firstly, it is completely un-Marxist to talk about "critical thought" in the abstract. All kinds of thinking in class society are stamped with the brand of a class. In the ideological sphere Marxists insist on the most vigorous debate to defeat non-proletarian ideology.
If Rotherham stopped reading 'The Militant', 'Intercontinental Press' and other tripe and started reading a few books and articles by people who have lived and worked, or visited China, he would learn that among the masses there is continuous debate about which path each neighbourhood, factory, commune or city and China as a whole should take: the socialist path or the capitalist path? The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the campaign to criticise and repudiate Lin Piao and Confucius are the most important manifestations of this debate.
To rid himself of his simplistic notions of socialist society, Rotherham should begin with the following: Hinton's "Turning Point in China" and "Hundred Day War"; Myrdal's "China: The Revolution Continued"; Jean Esmein's "The Chinese Cultural Revolution"; Jean and Elsie Collier's "China's Socialist Revolution"; and Wheelwright and McFarlane's "The Chinese Road to Socialism".
Rotherham reduces the dictatorship of the proletariat to "the working class in power". This is a discrete formulation which obscures its class essence and is designed to woo petty bourgeois elements who shrink from violence.
The dictatorship of the proletariat implies democracy among the people (the working class and its allies) and dictatorship over the old exploiting classes and their agents. This dictatorship may be exercised relatively leniently or it may involve limitations of movement, jailings and executions. When the contradictions between the Trotskyites. Zinovietvites and Bukharinites and the Soviet people, headed by Stalin, became antagonistic in the 1930s in the Soviet Union, they were dealt with by the punitive organs of the Soviet state.
People who shrink from violence in the course of revolution, who deplore the violent aspects of proletarian dictatorship, as the Trotskyites do, should admit that they are not revolutionaries and openly confine their activities to winning reforms within the framework of bourgeois democracy.
Rotherham says that "Auld and Franks proudly boast that if they had any say in the New Zealand revolution the 'Trots' will be among the First to go to the wall. After all, Trotskyists are 'counter-revolutionaries' and 'agents of the CIA', aren't they?"
It will not do Mr Rotherham. Save tricks like this for your schoolboy audiences.
I do not believe that you and your friends have any long-term viability. Trotskyism has some small significance at present because it influences a section of the progressive petty bourgeoisie. I do not believe that it will ever reach out into the broad masses of the working class.
Whether or not the Socialist Action League is in the pay of the CIA is irrelevant to me. Being a Marxist, I judge people not by their declarations but by the effect of their actions on the masses of society. The criterion for judging individuals and political parties is social practice and its effect.
Because of their right-wing ideas, whatever their personal beliefs may be, the activities of the Trotskyites in all countries serve the interests of the international capitalist class. As I attempted to explain to Rotherham earlier, people can serve bourgeois and petty bourgeois interests while picturing themselves as proletarian revolutionaries.
In whose interest docs the Socialist Action League operate when it: (i) supports socialism everywhere except where it exists; (ii) confuses the divergent aims and policies of China and the Khruschovite Soviet Union; (iii) attacks the Vietnamese revolution by working to prevent the implementation of the Paris agreement; (iv) attacks medical aid for the liberated areas in Indochina as "Corso for radicals"; (v) works to split the anti-war and anti-apartheid movements because these movement had rejected their opportunist and trivial policies; (vi) attacks Nyerere and Tanzania, the firmest African supporters of liberation movements in Southern Africa; (VII) defends a fascist like Solzhemnitsyn while failing to offer the slightest aid to two militant union delegates under attack in Wellington, etc?
In whose interest did Mr Rotherham operate when he became the mouthpiece for the police during a sit-down demonstration in Auckland in 1972? In attempting to break it up, the police had Mr Rotherham meekly relay their orders (which were ignored, of course) to the demonstrators.
In making this broad statement, I do not wish to imply that Trotskyites have never been the paid tools of reaction. Starting with Trotsky himself, there have been too many examples of Trotskyites in the role of conscious henchmen of the bourgeoisie.