25390[GreenLeft_discussion] Re: The DSP and the Third Period
- Jan 17, 2006I suppose DSP members shoud be grateful, in the way that Christians are meant to be grateful for small
mercies, that Bob Gould has clarified that his constantly repeated accusation that the DSP stance towards
the ALP is only an "analogy", and the DSP is not really quite as bad as the raving Stalinists in their
accusations in the period of around 1928-35 that social democrats were really "social fascists" etc etc. (He
did make the fairly offensive suggestion in his later post, worthy of any conservative hack or politically
primitive anarchist, that Peter Boyle would be just about as bad as Stalin if he came to power, but I'll leave
aside Bob's latest lurid and factually inaccurate fantisising about the internal affairs of the DSP, and stick to
the ALP question).
Bob is completely correct that Trotsky very sharply attacked the Stalinist sectarian ultaleftist tactics towards
social democracy of around 1928-1933, the so-called "Third Period", and explained all this a bit, which was
probably helpful to those list members who have no idea what "Third Period" means. But he's always been
curiously silent on why this was the called the *Third* Period of Communist tactics towards social democracy.
Here's a potted history.
The first period, of around 1919-1924, began with the formation of Communist Parties around the world, and
coincided with the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky in the Communist International, that is, while that body was
still clearly principled and revolutionary. Tactics in that period continued the Bolshevik stance of a united front
with those reformist parties holding sway over the masses with the ultimate aim of winning the masses to
revolutionary and socialist psotions.
The second period, of around 1925-1928, coincided with the Stalinisation of the Communist International, in
which the new Stalinist bosses tried to secure their own position in the USSR and many Communist Parties
around the way by adopting unprincipled, opportunistic alliances towards social democratic, and reformist
forces around the world, tail-ending whatever these forces said and did without any criticism or independent
policy. Trotsky, increasingly isolated by bureucratic censorship and controls but still in the CPSU with some
mass support, harshly criticised *this* policy of course, e.g. in the diastrous alliance with the Chinese
Nationalists that led to the massacre of Communists and the crushing of the Chinese revolution in 1927.
The third period, around 1928-1933, when the Stalinists, in bureucratic attempts to scare the western ruling
classes and labouor bureaucracies, veered wildlyto ultraleftism, as explained by Bob.
However, *most significant of all*, is what could be called the "fourth period". This began in 1933 after the
disaster of the triumph of Hitler, caused largely by *mutual* sectarianism between Communists and Social
Democrats, was codified at the last Communist International conference in 1935, was known as the "Popular
Front", and continued even until today in the extant remants of old Moscow-line Stalinist forces, like the
Communist Pary of Australia. This consisted, once again, of unprincipled opportunism, and was once again
harshly criticised by Trotsky, not least in the disaster it led to in the crushing of the Spanish revolution in
1936-39, and in the French Popular Front government of the same period.
Bob, like those labour historians he favours like Rob Gollan, no doubt sees the tactics of the CPA from the
mid-1930s on as largely the "correct united front approach to the ALP". But don't you think Bob, there's been
a teensy-weensy problem of opportunism and unprincipled alliances in the Stalinist tradition, that socialists
should learn from and avoid today, as well as problems of ultraleftism, or rather this "period" has been far
more long-lasting and significant than the brief period of Stalinist ultraleftism? Didn't the CPA approach come
to its logical conclusion in Australia in the CPA's support for the notorious Accord, a disaster (yes I've used
that word a lot but the Stalinists were largely responsible for a lot of disasters) for the working class and the
union movement, which you opposed?
This is a very summary history, not including all the splits and real difference in the Stalinist movement from
the early 1960s, including the fact that the old and now defunct CPA from the late 1960s was maybe correctly
called Eurcommunist rather than Stalinist (as opposed to the existing CPA, more "classically" Stalinist), but
the essential point, that Bob presents an extremely one-sided view of the legacy of the Stalinist approach to
social democracy, to buttress his view that any criticism of the ALP should be attenuated to the point of non-
existence, is clear.
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