Ninety years of Trotskyism in Brazil

Carmela Gross, ENTRE WORDS series, Jornal, 2012, graphite and enamel on dictionary sheet, 27,5 x 20,8 cm
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By VALERIO ARCARY*

The work of Leon Trotsky and those who developed Marxism from its premises was the one that best responded to the three greatest theoretical challenges posed by the XNUMXth century

In 1930, the first issue of the newspaper was published in Brazil. the class struggle edited by the Leninist Communist Group in Brazil. A discreet name for a collective with extraordinary personalities. Since then, the thread of continuity of Trotskyism has not been broken in our country, although through organizations that are very different from each other.

It is true that Trotskyists were never, on an international scale, more numerous than a few tens of thousands. They seemed, however, far more menacing and influential than their numbers would suggest. They were in the front line of the communists in China, with Chen Duxiu, against the repression of Chiang-Kai Chek in China in 1927, when in many countries the CP's faithful to Moscow were already beginning to be expelled.

They fought Nazism in Germany with the same courage with which they faced Stalinism in the Soviet Union. They fought against fascism in the Spanish civil war, arms in hand, without giving political support to the Popular Front Government. They were arrested by the thousands during the Moscow trials, but did not hesitate to volunteer to fight in the Red Army when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

They were in the trenches of Saigon in Vietnam, led by Ta Thu Tao, at the end of World War II, fighting against French imperialism, even though they were very persecuted, and at the head of the Renault strike in France, fighting against the government of national unity headed by De Gaulle, which had the participation of PC ministers.

They helped make the vocabulary of the mining workers' movement in Bolivia in the 1952 revolution Marxist. They were imprisoned by McCarthyism in the US in the XNUMXs, while at the same time they were resisting in the forced labor camps of Vorkuta in the Arctic.

They fought relentlessly against imperialism in Latin America, without giving in to the nationalist-developmentalist pressures that were expressed through Peronism in Argentina, Getulismo in Brazil and Aprismo in Peru.

They were at the forefront of solidarity with Algeria, but they did not remain silent in the face of repression in the streets of Budapest, Hungary in 1956. They made Cuba their flag, but they did not betray the hope of those who sang the Internationale in the streets of Prague when the tanks sent from Moscow invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968.

History found Trotskyists on the barricades of the Latin Quarter in Paris in 1968 and, in the seventies in Lisbon, in the Portuguese revolution, in resistance to Francoism in Spain, and in the forefront of the struggle to overthrow the military dictatorship in Greece.

But Trotskyist blood was spilled by the hundreds, in the fight against the Latin American dictatorships facing the most ferocious repression in the national stadium of Santiago de Chile, and in Argentine, Uruguayan and Brazilian prisons.

They were in the war against Somoza in Nicaragua, the resistance to apartheid in South Africa, and the Gdansk strikes in Poland. They resisted capitalist restoration in the former USSR in the early XNUMXs, and helped build a new internationalism by boosting the campaign against the invasion of Iraq. Its integrity was tested, mercilessly, in all latitudes and longitudes.

Trotskyists spread Marxism in dozens of languages. They studied and wrote a lot, but they did not allow themselves to be reduced to a literary circle. They intervened in the unions, but they did not get drunk with the unionist routines. They linked their fate to the proletariat movement, but did not diminish their militancy to workerism. They spread their message internationally.

They traveled far and wide, sacrificed their families, crossed continents, changed countries, lost jobs, forged passports, changed identities, proletarianized themselves in big industries, organized trade unions, wrote newspapers, agitated for strikes, promoted the unification of struggles, distributed bulletins, campaigned, fundraised, led rebellions, took up arms, been arrested, and many paid with their lives for the strength of their commitment.

They contributed to making an open Marxism useful for understanding changes in the world, writing theory books in the fields of economics, history, sociology, geography, law, politics and international relations. But cadres educated under its influence were present in many other fields of science and the arts in general.

They maintained the thread of continuity of the revolutionary Marxist program and the independence of the Fourth International, although very fragmented. Defending Marxism has always meant defending the program of the fight against private property, but it is not possible to defend a program without building an organization, a disciplined collective around a strategic project. And building a political movement requires, first of all, the willingness to preserve at any cost its independence from social pressures hostile to the interests of the proletariat.

This independence must be political and ideological, but also material. They stood out for their disinterested engagement and unselfish delivery, proof of their moral strength. They made a lot of mistakes, too, when the tactical challenges became more complex, but they did not sacrifice principles. They lived the greatest of contemporary adventures: the struggle for world revolution.

But history was cruel and ungrateful to them. Internationalism had been defeated, and its defenders had the fate of those who are not afraid to go against the grain: terrible isolation. After social democracy and Stalinism became the most influential currents in the labor movement during the capitalist reconstruction of the so-called post-war boom, the division that took hold in the socialist movement was fatal for the internationalist cause.

The struggles in the East, West and South of the planet disjointed, and turned their backs on each other. Internationalism was subordinated to the diplomatic interests of peaceful coexistence of Moscow, Belgrade, Tirana, and Beijing, and was transfigured into the nationalism of the self-proclaimed socialist states.

In the West, most of those who fought against capitalism turned their backs on those who fought against bureaucratic dictatorships in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Few on the left rose up in Paris, Rome or London to denounce repression in Hungary in 1956, or even in Prague in 1968. In the East and in the USSR, after the destruction of the Prague Spring, and even worse afterwards After the defeat of the Polish Revolution of 1981, the influence of Marxism among those who resisted bureaucratic dictatorships diminished.

The Trotskyists were politically alone. As an International, the Fourth ceased to exist in the XNUMXs. Prisoners on the fringes of the socialist movement's great opinion flows, and subjected to the terrible pressures of the great social-democratic, nationalist apparatuses and, above all, of the communist parties, suffered the consequences of a current that knew how to preserve its independence, however, did not overcome its very minority.

They split dramatically into several trends, yielding to the most significant national political pressures in each country. “National Trotskyism”, that is, the ideologization of the possibility of building a revolutionary organization within national borders, even when a “mother party” was associated with small circles that mimicked its experience – in a world where the counterrevolution was globalizing itself, was, to a greater or lesser extent, the tragic fate of the strongest Trotskyist organisations.

They found themselves in the most severe revolutionary solitude.

There were inflexible reflexes, sectarian impulses, rigid mentalities typical of a fraternity of harassed selfless. Over the last thirty years, after the capitalist restoration in the USSR, the left has not remained unscathed by the vicissitudes of the immense ideological confusion and political adaptation that hit the left.

However, they left two legacies of incalculable value.

Trotskyists were politically defeated but intellectually victorious.

The work of Leon Trotsky and those who developed Marxism from its premises was the one that best responded to the three greatest theoretical challenges posed by the XNUMXth century: an interpretation of the nature of Soviet society after the XNUMXs, an interpretation of social revolutions of colonial and semi-colonial countries, and an interpretation for the process of restoration of capitalism.

The second legacy was the militant inspiration: they marched against the current defending an unblemished flag. They set an example for their courage, perseverance and moral integrity. They defended, almost always single-handedly, the internationalist tradition of Marxism when it was handed over to them. They honored the highest cause of our time. They deserve to be remembered.

Honor to the memory of the Lenin Communist Group.

*Valério Arcary  is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).

 

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