The trouble with some Trotskyists is they’re always “supporting” other peoples’ revolutions, says Diana Johnstone. Their obsession with permanent revolution in the end provides an alibi for permanent war.
By Diana Johnstone Special to Consortium News
I first encountered Trotskyists in Minnesota half a century ago during the movement against the Vietnam War. I appreciated their skill in organizing anti-war demonstrations and their courage in daring to call themselves “communists” in the United States of America – a profession of faith that did not groom them for the successful careers enjoyed by their intellectual counterparts in France. So I started my political activism with sympathy toward the movement. In those days it was in clear opposition to U.S. imperialism, but that has changed.
The first thing one learns about Trotskyism is that it is split into rival tendencies. Some remain consistent critics of imperialist war, notably those who write for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).
Others, however, have translated the Trotskyist slogan of “permanent revolution” into the hope that every minority uprising in the world must be a sign of the long awaited world revolution – especially those that catch the approving eye of mainstream media. More often than deploring U.S. intervention, they join in reproaching Washington for not intervening sooner on behalf of the alleged revolution.
A recent article in the International Socialist Review (issue #108, March 1, 2018) entitled “Revolution and counterrevolution in Syria” indicates so thoroughly how Trotskyism can go wrong that it is worthy of a critique. Since the author, Tony McKenna, writes well and with evident conviction, this is a strong not a weak example of the Trotskyist mindset.
McKenna starts out with a passionate denunciation of the regime of Bashar al Assad, which, he says, responded to a group of children who simply wrote some graffiti on a wall by “beating them, burning them, pulling their fingernails out.” The source of this grisly information is not given. There could be no eye witnesses to such sadism, and the very extremism sounds very much like war…