Franz J.T. Lee, December, 2004

President Chavez Frias studying Trotsky, Revolution and Emancipation

As we reported, a while ago, in Moscow, President Hugo Chavez Frias bought Trotsky's famous work "The Permanent Revolution" and is currently eagerly studying its historic application and relevance. Apart from the well-known theory of global permanent revolution of Trotsky ... the establishment of socialism on a world scale, and not the Stalinist version of socialism in one bloc, country or island ... what should interest Venezuela in particular at this moment are Trotsky's views concerning the social relation between "violence" and "emancipation" in the "Third World," in Latin America.

We encounter violence everywhere ... we did not invent violence and terrorism ... we are born in capitalist violence ... we live and die in imperialist terrorism ... they are our "daily bread."

Violence alias terrorism seems to be a universal process which threatens the very destiny of mankind. Everybody is talking about violence and peace, as if the two form a dialectical unity and contradiction of opposites. But, very few people seem to know what this concept precisely connotes. In fact, there are just about as many definitions of violence as there are persons experiencing violence daily.

After having written a special introduction to the "Communist Manifesto" of Marx and Engels, for the South African comrades, that was published in Afrikaans, later, on April 30, 1933, Leon Trotsky wrote a letter to the Workers’ Party of South Africa (WPSA), concerning  The National and Agrarian Struggles in South Africa. [1]

While discussing the national question, nationalism and the possibility of the Blacks, establishing a separate African State, or a United States of Southern Africa ... after a victorious political revolution ... he emphatically stressed: "let them make this admission freely, on the basis of their own experience, and not forced by the sjambok (whip) of the White oppressors.“

For us, Bolivarians, it is of great interest what Trotsky had contrasted here, the violent sjambok of the White oppressors with popular emancipatory arbitrium liberum, with free admission, with self-determination of the autochthonous African peoples, on the basis of their own experience, of their unique revolutionary praxis-theory.

Trotsky, being a revolutionary scientific socialist, and having experienced Stalin's political terror and violence, knew very well that in South Africa, and elsewhere, in the historic process of the global class struggle, an inexorable, violent, dialectical battle was taking place between the reactionary social forces of violence and those of emancipation. Within permanent world revolution, this is the unity and contradiction of opposites, the powerful motor of history. Especially here in Venezuela, as we have witnessed it over the past six years; daily this class confrontation continues with greater force, more violence and a higher velocity.

Trotsky, as revolutionary Marxist, especially in his "Permanent Revolution," has analyzed manifold social phenomena, particularly the October Revolution, and has always pointed out that in the development, in the process of a thing, of a person, of a revolutionary, at the beginning its/his essence is almost wholly submerged in a particular appearance form. Generally, people, using Aristotle’s formal logic, tend to identify forever the two as an indivisible whole. Once a "terrorist" always a "terrorist." Gradually a thing "sloughs off" its original form and assumes new appearance forms.

For example, the Bolivarian Revolution. in 1998, legally conquering political power, and the current "revolution within the revolution," democratically expanding its economic and social power, are two different dialectical sides of the very same historic process, of permanent world revolution, but they are not identical. In fact, they can only be understood within the context of Trotsky's dialectical theory of equal, unequal and combined development on a world scale.

In the case of South Africa, Trotsky in his "Letter" very carefully distinguished between the „appearance“ of South Africa to the world, and to the Whites, as Dominion, as expounded in the global mass media, and, its essence, a slave colony, as the Blacks daily experienced it in 1933 in their class struggle.

In the course of development, in its historical motion, the material essence and social appearance of a thing, for example, of oligarchic violence in Venezuela, at its peak, in 1992, two antagonistic social forces commingled within Chavez' attempted coup d' etat against "neo-liberal savagery" and then gradually the "political power vacuum," Hegel's dialectical "doom"set in for the puntofijista political dinosaurs.

This is something, in their formal logical master-slave mentality, that the oligarchs, their lackeys, the CIA and Washington D. C. cannot fathom till this very day ... this is why they failed three times over the last three years.

Currently, what we are experiencing is that the corrupt elements and reactionary remnants of the Fourth Republic ... including its moribund constitution, that have unfolded themselves violently for over four decades ... in their capitalist contents, economic exploitation, political oppression, social discrimination, mass murder and human degradation, are now fading into oblivion, are being crushed by advancing Citizen Power, by emancipatory Workers' Class Struggle.

Under the social pressures of the Bolivarian revolutionary forces, of the Fifth Republic, progressively the reactionary essence of the Opposition, as affirmative corruption, assassination and decadence, is slowly fading away.

For sure, it tries to adapt itself, but it does not forget, cannot change its undemocratic viper being ... permanently it tries to change its appearance forms, even to hide itself under red berets, but all of no avail.

Insofar as the Bolivarian Revolution really and truly advances, as global permanent revolution logically will weaken world fascist corporatism, eventually, this reactionary national and international social violence against Venezuela will become less essential and finally nonessential.

Of course, the sine qua non is that we revolutionize ourselves permanently in the sense of Trotsky's praxis and theory.

Concerning the revolutionary relation between ruling class violence and workers' emancipation, in the case of South Africa, and also in the rest of the Third World, Trotsky was very clear.  In his Letter he explained: "A victorious revolution is unthinkable without the awakening of the Native masses; in its turn it will give them what they are so lacking today, confidence in their strength, a heightened personal consciousness, a cultural growth."

Politically it awakens the impoverished masses; for the first time in their lives, their elected government addresses them, elevates their human dignity, gives them concrete hope, economic power, and heightens their social (class) consciousness, their human dignity.

For these very reasons, millions all over the world love Che's New Man, and as revolutionary, he loves them. No greater love hath a (wo)man who gives her/his life for his people, and vice versa. This Trotsky did, this Venezuela did on April 11-14, 2002 ... and Chavez always is doing this.

Although Trotsky, like Marx, Engels and Lenin, appropriated great significance to revolutionary theory within the realm of political praxis -- “without revolutionary theory, no social revolution“ (Lenin) -- nonetheless, we have no treatise on Marxist political theory, no cook-book for the dialectics, no recipe of how to make social revolution, and no constitution which fixes the laws of motion of social matters.

Our revolutionary intellectuals should note, that Trotsky knew that the South African revolutionaries have to begin with the concrete realities of their daily lives and in the scientific investigation and analysis of these conditions they would move to the abstract, to a heightened political consciousness, to a confidence in their strength.

And, by applying this revolutionary theory, gained from this practical revolutionary experience, again they, the revolutionaries, the intellectuals and workers, would move toward the new, ever-changing realities of South Africa, and of the whole global panorama; in this way, the emancipatory workers' struggle definitely will be elevated to a higher dialectical plane: the very revolution would revolutionize itself, would gain emancipatory profundity, ready to be analyzed again in a concrete-abstract, praxico-theoretical manner. This is the dialectical permanent revolutionary process of the emancipatory oscillation between Scientific Praxis and Philosophic Theory.

It is needless to emphasize that this is the enormous historic essence, the concrete lesson of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, for Venezuela and Latin America, that President Chavez surely will note.

Although Trotsky gave examples from his own revolutionary experience, especially of the October Revolution, yet he did not consider that the African masses should reproduce the Russian experience at the Cape of Storms. He stressed that he was too insufficiently acquainted with the conditions in South Africa, and that the Black masses should make admissions freely, on the basis of their own experience.

It is when their "heightened personal consciousness" (Trotsky) becomes social (class) consciousness, when their abstract reflections approximate concrete reality, when they eliminate their master-slave mentality, their religious fantasies, slogans, customs, traditions, etc., only then, they can find their way through the labyrinth of ideology, falsifications, rationalizations and lies, can they read between the lines of their mass media, of their TV novelas and "love" songs transmitted by reactionary radio stations.

It is when they begin to grasp concrete totality, Hegel’s whole, only then, they are approaching Truth, and nothing is more magnetic than Truth to an oppressed creature searching for emancipation, and not Messianic salvation.

There is nothing that ruling classes fear more than the Truth. Citizen Power is Emancipatory Truth. Workers' Ignorance is Capitalist Bliss.

To conclude, in commemoration of all the brave sons and daughters ... including Pulitti and Anderson ... who had fallen in the African, Asian, Caribbean and Latin American freedom struggles across the last 500 years, it is pertinent here to relate Trotsky's own personal experience of political violence, the murder of his beloved son, Leon Sedov.

Leon Sedov, son of Natalia Sedova and Trotsky, was murdered in a Paris hospital by agents of Stalin's GPU. In Mexico, two years before he himself would be murdered by Stalin's secret international police, on February 20, 1938, Trotsky wrote the article: "Leon Sedov - Son, Friend, Fighter." We will quote extensively to demonstrate a great revolutionary's grieve and love in the face of international violence.

"As I write these lines, with Leon Hesiod’s mother by my side, telegrams of condolence keep coming from different countries. And for us each telegram evokes the same appalling question: ‘Can it really be that our friends in France, Holland, England, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and here in Mexico accept it as definitely established that Sedov is no more?’ Each telegram in a new token of his death, but we are unable to believe it as yet. And this, not only because he was our son, truthful, devoted, loving, but above all because he had, as no one else on earth, become part of our life, entwined in all its roots, our co-thinker, our co-worker, our guard, our counselor, our friend. .... Leon was a thoroughly clean, honest, pure human being. He could before any working-class gathering tell the story of his life - alas, so brief - day by day, as I have briefly told it here. He had nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. Moral nobility was the basic warp of his character. ... Together with our boy has died everything that still remained young within us. ... Good-bye, Leon! We bequeath your irreproachable memory to the younger generation of the workers of the world. You will rightly live in the hearts of all those who work, suffer, and struggle for a better world. Revolutionary youth of all countries! Accept from us the memory of our Leon, adopt him as your son...“ [2]

Alas, the revolutionary youth of the world know today, more than half a century later, very little about Trotsky, about his thoughts and his work, and practically nothing about his son, their adopted brother.

Now it becomes clear why the term „violence“ cannot be limited to its normal (which is generally its bourgeois, ideological) connotation, that is, only to its physical, moral and psychological meaning, as the opposite of peace, of pacifism.

Scientifically, Violence is the direct opposite of Emancipation. Emancipation fights against Violence, logically, this permanent "class war" (Lula) cannot be pacifist, reconciliatory and participatory. This the armed revolutionary sovereign must, should know. Trotsky taught us that Emancipation gives Violence its essential, real, true connotation.