Embryonic Stages Theory of the League for the Fifth International (LFI)

Excerpt from the book, published by RKOB "The Half Revolution. Lessons and Perspectives of the Arab Uprising", written by Michael Pröbsting.


This text is the English-language translation of an excerpt from a book on the Arab Revolution published by the Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB) in early August 2011. The Book – Michael Pröbsting: The Half Revolution. Lessons and Perspectives of the Arab Uprising – is in German language and contains eight chapters. The translation was done by Adam Beltz.


Unfortunately, the LFI support of the slogan of "supervision of bourgeois government" is not the only programmatic mistake in their response to the Arab revolution. If one studies the most detailed resolution of the LFI so far (about 7,000 words) titled "Perspectives of the revolutionary movement" it reveals a deepening of the revisionist degeneration of the organization. So writes the comrades in this resolution on the relationship between democratic and social revolution:


"This is why the democratic revolutionary tasks cannot be abandoned or skipped over; they have to be fulfilled whilst at the same time the immediate socio-economic demands are brought to the fore. The masses by using their democratic freedoms will never willingly let go of them again. This is a stage that can only be completed through militant mass action in which the working class must play a leading role if they are to succeed. But revolutionary socialists do not believe it is either possible nor desirable to halt the revolution even with the completion of this democratic stage. On this question the Stalinist Communist parties have left us a disastrous legacy, which nevertheless is still sadly influential. This stages theory, taken over from classical Menshevism, means limiting and containing working class struggles to the democratic stage, allowing the supposedly liberal democratic capitalists to take power." (1)


In this key paragraph of the LFI resolution on their perspectives the new theoretical confusion of the LFI leadership becomes obvious. What we have here is the pseudo-Trotskyist variant of the embryonic stages theory. Let's go point by point through this paragraph.



Can the Democratic Revolution be completed without Dictatorship of the Proletariat?


First, it is striking that the conclusion of the democratic revolution, the democratic stage, is thought possible without that the working class smashes capitalism through a proletarian revolution and established their dictatorship. So writes the LFI that "the democratic revolutionary tasks (must) be fulfilled whilst at the same time the immediate socio-economic demands are brought to the fore." That is, it is possible according to the LFI leadership, to realized the democratic-revolutionary tasks (full democratic freedoms, expropriation of large estates and distribution of their land, elimination of discrimination against minorities, women and young people, actual self-determination of oppressed nations, etc.) while at the same time the social, economic demands are only "brought to the fore" – i.e. clearly before the capitalists, to which one shall indeed direct such demands have been overthrown. In support of this revisionist nonsense the LFI leadership writes in the next sentence: "This is a stage that can only be completed through militant mass action." Thus, the LFI falsely says not only that the democratic stage can be completed without a socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but they also claim that this "militant mass action" would be suffice, instead of clearly saying that to seize power, armed rebellion and civil war are necessary.



This completely false vagueness in naming the instruments of the revolution – algebraically formulated "decisive class struggle" and so on instead of insurgency and civil war - is also found elsewhere in the same resolution. The LFI leadership writes:


"Only the most powerful development of the class struggle here and now and an uncompromising drive for the complete demolition of the old regime can drive the revolution forward to lasting achievement and establish the power of the working people, fighting for socialist goals and the ousting of western imperialism from the region."


What an absurd adaptation of petty-bourgeois pacifism! The old regimes cannot "completely destroyed" by "the most powerful development of the class struggle" and "uncompromising drive" but by armed uprising and the replacement of the bourgeois state apparatus by the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of soviet power. Such inappropriate formulations do not clarify the tasks of the vanguard, but rather create confusion. They blur the crucial differences between the Bolsheviks and the diverse forms of the revisionists and Mensheviks.



Is the pressure of class struggle enough to win?


Later on, the LFI leadership again repeats this incredible semi-pacifist statement:


"This means continuing the strikes and mass protests, pushing the democratic demands as far as they can go, fighting for working class control of workplaces and production, demanding nationalization of the large scale sections of the economy, the banks, etc., to take them out of the hands of foreign capital. This alone will guarantee the maximum gains of the democratic revolution and prepare and focus the working class for the next phase of the struggle when capitalists rule and its exploitive system is called into question and the possibility of a socialist seizure of power becomes concrete reality."


So, according to the LFI, democratic demands, workers' control and nationalization of key sectors of the economy are won through the "continuation of strikes and mass protests"?! In this case the ruling class but could easily intimated, if mass strikes and mass protest would be sufficient for theestablishment of dual power and the nationalization of key sectors. Again they reveal a criminal underestimation of class antagonisms and of the tasks of the proletarian class struggle. Incidentally, it is interesting - or rather embarrassing - that the LFI leadership now counts the establishment of workers' control and nationalization of key sectors of the economy to be the "greatest achievement of the democratic revolution." Since when has this had something to do with democratic revolution?!



Menshevism and the Theory of Permanent Revolution


But let us return to the new embryonic stages theory. The LFI leadership writes: "But revolutionary socialists do not believe it is either possible nor desirable to halt the revolution even with the completion of this democratic stage." Here the error is repeated in a different form. The comrades say that Menshevism wants to stop the revolution at the completion of the democratic stage. Yes this is true, but it is also Menshevism to claim that the democratic revolution can be completed without the dictatorship of the proletariat.


Why? Because the capitalist ruling class is closely linked to the landowners, because they maintain their power only by the fact that the masses, the oppressed classes and nations are not only exploited but also politically and socially oppressed.


It is the naive hope of many petty-bourgeois revolutionaries today that in the Arab states the democratic revolution can be separated from the social revolution, that the latter is not necessary for the realization of democratic freedoms. But this is a false hope, which has been refuted by the harsh reality of revolution of the last hundred years.


This is precisely why the leader of the October Revolution, Leon Trotsky, has generalized and summarized the experience of the class struggle in the theory of permanent revolution. The central lesson is:


"This is turn means that the victory of the democratic revolution is conceivable only through the dicato0rship of the proletariat which bases itself upon the alliance with the peasantry and solves first of all the tasks of the democratic revolution." (2)



Shortly before his assassination he repeated these basic concepts of the theory of permanent revolution in his analysis of the Russian Revolution:


"The perspective of permanent revolution may be summarized in the following way; the complete victory of the democratic revolution in Russia is conceivable only in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, leaning on the peasantry. The dictatorship of the proletariat, which would inevitably place on the order of the day not only democratic but socialistic tasks as well, would at the same time give a powerful impetus to the international socialist revolution." (3)


According to the LFI leadership the democratic revolution can be realized independently of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But in their adaptation to prevailing petty-bourgeois political trends the leaders of the LFI forget these central teaching of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution and the embryonic stages theory. This revisionism stands together with the obvious underestimation of the necessity to advance the class struggle to an armed insurrection and civil war in order to lead the revolution to victory. This revisionist thinking outlined above also forms the background for the adaptation to the reformist concept of "supervision of bourgeois government." Forgetting the central demand of the Constituent Assembly as well as a systematic outlining of the petty-bourgeois class roots of the wrong concepts in the reformist and centrist said basic revolution, round up the picture of the increasing theoretical and highly regrettable degeneration of the LFI.





(1) League for the Fifth International: The revolutionary wave in the Middle East and North Africa, 29.4.2011, http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/revolutionary-wave-middle-east-and-north-africa. All quotes in this chapter are from this resolution. It is highly symbolically that this resolution was adopted at the same international leadership meeting where the foundation members of the RKOB were expelled by the LFI leadership majority.

(2) Leo Trotzki: Die permanente Revolution, in: Leo Trotzki: Ergebnisse und Perspektiven. Die permanente Revolution; Frankfurt a. M., 1971, S. 158f.; The Permanent Revolution, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/tpr/index.htm

(3) Leo Trotzki: Drei Konzeptionen der russischen Revolution (1939); in: GRM: rotfront-Texte Nr. 1, Wien 1975, S. 53; The Character of the Russian Revolution. As Foreseen by Plekhanov, Lenin and Trotsky, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/russia.htm