[Marxism] Query on Trotsky and the DP

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 5 11:07:42 MST 2004


sebastian at amadeobordiga.u-net.com wrote:
> Dear comrades,
> 
> forgive my ignorance, but can anyone please give me the locus classicus of
> Trotsky's discussion on the US Democratic Party and the relationship of
> revolutionaries to it?
> 
> Thanks
> 
> Sebastian Budgen

Trotsky's 1939 "Marxism in Our Time" contains an extended critique of 
Roosevelt's New Deal:

Two methods for saving historically doomed capitalism are today vying 
with each other in the world arena -- Fascism and the New Deal, in all 
their manifestations. Fascism bases its programme on the demolition of 
labour organisations, on the destruction of social reforms and on the 
complete annihilation of democratic rights, in order to forestall a 
resurrection of the proletariat's class struggle. The fascist state 
officially legalises the degradation of workers and the pauperisation of 
the middle classes, in the name of saving the "nation" and the "race" -- 
presumptuous names under which decaying capitalism figures.

The policy of the New Deal, which tries to save the imperialist 
democracy by way of sops to the labour and farmer aristocracy, is in its 
broad compass accessible only to the very wealthy nations, and so in 
that sense it is American policy par excellence. The government has 
attempted to shift a part of the costs of that policy to the shoulders 
of the monopolists, exhorting them to raise wages and shorten the labour 
day and thus increase the purchasing power of the population and extend 
production. Léon Blum attempted to translate this sermon into elementary 
school French. In vain! The French capitalist like the American, does 
not produce for the sake of production but for profit. He is always 
ready to limit production, even to destroy manufactured products, if 
thereby his own share of the national income will be increased.

The New Deal programme is all the more inconsistent in that, while 
preaching sermons to the magnates of capital about the advantages of 
abundance over scarcity, the government dispenses premiums for cutting 
down on production. Is greater confusion possible? The government 
confutes its critics with the challenge: can you do better? What all 
this means is that on the basis of capitalism the situation is hopeless.

Beginning with 1933, i.e., in the course of the last six years, the 
federal government, the states and the municipalities have handed out to 
the unemployed nearly fifteen billion dollars in relief, a sum quite 
insufficient in itself and representing merely the smaller part of lost 
wages, but at the same time, considering the declining national income, 
a colossal sum. During 1938, which was a year of comparative economic 
revival, the national debt of the United States increased by two billion 
dollars past the thirty-eight billion dollar mark, or twelve billion 
dollars more that the highest point at the end of the World War. Early 
in 1939 it passed the 40 billion dollar mark. And then what? The 
mounting national debt is of course a burden on posterity. But the New 
Deal itself was possible only because of the tremendous wealth 
accumulated by past generations. Only a very rich nation could indulge 
itself in so extravagant a policy. But even such a nation cannot 
indefinitely go on living at the expense of past generations. The New 
Deal policy with its fictitious achievements and its very real increase 
in the national debt, leads unavoidably to ferocious capitalist reaction 
and a devastating explosion of imperialism. In other words, it is 
directed into the same channels as the policy of fascism.

full: http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1939/1939-cri.htm



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