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On 8/8/18 5:32 PM, John Reimann via Marxism wrote:
"From Nicaragua to Zimababwe, the road of capitalist development has been
tried and tried again. It is not working."

First off, it is Zimbabwe, not Zimababwe.

Also, the possibility of either of these countries achieving "socialism" was zero. We need to get back to the earlier conception of socialism as a world system in order to understand the economic contradictions of a place like Nicaragua. This is from an article I wrote about 15 years ago answering the ISO:

A decisive factor in the transition to socialism in Russia would be the outcome of socialist revolutions in Europe. The survival of a revolution in Russia was impossible without help from victories in the West. In a "Speech on the International Situation" delivered to the 1918 Congress of Soviets, Lenin said, "The complete victory of the socialist revolution in one country alone is inconceivable and demands the most active cooperation of at least several advanced countries, which do not include Russia." Lenin is clearly consistent with the analysis put forward by Marx and Engels regarding the German revolution in 1850. Revolutions can not survive on their own. They have to link up with an overall assault on bourgeois power by a working-class unified under a socialist banner across nations, if not continents.

Trotsky's theory is a product of his study of the Russian class-struggle. He did not develop it as a general methodology for accomplishing bourgeois-democratic tasks in a semi-colonial or dependent country. He was instead seeking to address the needs of the class-struggle in Russia. In this respect, he was identical to Lenin. They were both revolutionaries who sought to establish socialism in Russia as rapidly as possible. Their difference centered on how closely connected socialist and bourgeois-democratic tasks would be at the outset. Lenin tended to approach things more from Plekhanov's "stagist" perspective, while Trotsky had a concept more similar to the one outlined by Marx and Engels in their comments on the German revolution.

Trotsky sharpened his insights as a participant and leader of the uprising of 1905, which in many ways was a dress-rehearsal for the 1917 revolution. He wrote "Results and Prospects" to draw the lessons of 1905. Virtually alone among leading Russian socialists, he rejected the idea that workers holding state power would protect private property:

"The political domination of the proletariat is incompatible with its economic enslavement. No matter under what political flag the proletariat has come to power, it is obliged to take the path of socialist policy. It would be the greatest utopianism to think that the proletariat, having been raised to political domination by the internal mechanism of a bourgeois revolution, can, even if it so desires, limit its mission to the creation of republican-democratic conditions for the social domination of the bourgeoisie."

Does not this accurately describe the events following the Bolshevik revolution in October, 1917? The workers took the socialist path almost immediately. If this alone defined the shape of revolutions to come, then Trotsky would appear as a prophet of the first magnitude.

Before leaping to this conclusion, we should consider Trotsky's entire argument. Not only would the workers adopt socialist policies once in power, their ability to maintain these policies depended on the class-struggle outside of Russia, not within it. He is emphatic:

"But how far can the socialist policy of the working class be applied in the economic conditions of Russia? We can say one thing with certainty--that it will come up against obstacles much sooner than it will stumble over the technical backwardness of the country. Without the direct State support of the European proletariat the working class of Russia cannot remain in power and convert its temporary domination into a lasting socialistic dictatorship."

While there is disagreement between Lenin and Trotsky on the exact character of the Russian revolution, there is none over the grim prospects for socialism in an isolated Russia. We must keep this uppermost in our mind when we consider the case of Nicaragua. Well-meaning Trotskyist comrades who castigate the Sandinistas for not carrying out permanent revolution should remind themselves of the full dimensions of Trotsky's theory. According to this theory, Russia was a beachhead for future socialist advances. If these advances did not occur, Russia would perish. Was Nicaragua a beachhead also? If socialism could not survive in a vast nation as Russia endowed with immense resources, what were Nicaragua's prospects, a nation smaller than Brooklyn, New York?

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