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What was the Soviet Union? Was it to be defended? What went right? What went wrong? Ted Grant wrote extensively on the class nature of the Soviet Union and the need to defend the nationalized planned economy. A clear understanding of the Soviet Union and Stalinism is necessary to combat the common misconceptions associated with socialism. This introduction deals with an overview of the Marxist analysis of the Soviet Union and the concept of a "deformed" or "degenerated" workers' state.

Purchase Ted Grant Selected Works Vol. 1 here

Also see the introduction to Volume Two (part 2).

 

Introduction to Ted Grant Selected Works, Vol. 1, U.S. EditionI first met Ted Grant1 in early 1998, while living in London on a work exchange program after graduating from university. I had come to London to gain some job experience and to “see the world.” Little did I know that a chance encounter with a member of the International Marxist Tendency2 at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park would change the course of my life forever. After hearing him speak a few times, I talked to him in person, he sold me a copy of the Communist Manifesto for £1, and as they say, the rest was history. I was more than intrigued; I was astonished. Finally I had found the ideas I had been unconsciously looking for, ideas that could not only explain the complex world around me, but provide a lever for actually changing things. A way to truly tackle poverty, war, discrimination, environmental degradation, and generalized misery at its roots.

I began to read voraciously, and within a couple of weeks, I visited the International Center of the IMT in Old Street. It was there that I first met Ted, surrounded by stacks of old copies of the Financial Times and piles of fresh fruit. He looked up at me curiously, and when he heard I was a contact from the U.S., his eyes lit up with genuine interest and he came over and began asking me questions and answering my own. That first day, he recommended Lenin’s State and Revolution and Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State as a good starting point after having read the Manifesto. I also picked up a copy of Marx and Engels’ Selected Works. Sometime during those first few weeks, I also bought a copy of the Program of the International, one of the founding documents of the IMT, written in 1970, againfor the grand sum of £1. Between reading that and the Manifesto, both relatively short documents, I felt that I learned more about the hows and whats and above all the whys of history than I had learned in my entire college career – and all for less than $3.00!

As my studies progressed, I began to meet with Ted regularly to better understand this new world of ideas and methods. Despite his advanced age and a few eccentricities, he was politically sharp as a razor and always available to answer my often very basic questions. We started meeting once a week for a curry in Bethnal Green, followed by a political discussion at a pub; I’d usually order a Guinness, he’d always have an orange juice. During the preceding week, I’d write down my questions in a little notepad I carried with me. After answering each question, he’d stare back across the table at me, patiently waiting for the next. Most of the time it only took a few minutes to cover all questions I had accumulated over the week, as his concise and precise answers usually clarified things in just a few sentences. He could recall events, people, political debates and above all, ideas, with immediate and uncanny clarity. We would then usually delve into my favorite subject as a Marxist novice: dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism. It was Ted Grant and Alan Woods’ book Reason in Revolt: Marxist Philosophy and Modern Science that had finally convinced me that not only did these ideas make sense on a profound philosophical level, reflecting even the workings of nature, but that this was the only organization that could develop and apply these ideas in the present epoch.

But it was not just the philosophical side of things that convinced me of this. The IMT’s approach to the mass organizations of the working class was also a major point for me. In the difficult post-war period, Ted had developed and deepened the basic approach of the Bolsheviks, as outlined in works such as Lenin’s Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder, and Trotsky’s writings on entrism, explaining that when the masses begin to move, they will always do so through their traditional organizations. No matter how rotten, corrupt, bureaucratic, pro-capitalist and reformist the leaders of these organizations are at present, great events will inevitably shake them from top to bottom, transforming the consciousness of the rank and file and pushing them to the left. In the last period, the leaders of the traditional workers’ parties and trade unions have moved far further to the right than even Ted could have imagined. Nonetheless, it is an historic law that the masses must first test them out and attempt to improve their conditions through these organizations, which are familiar to them, despite all the deformities and parasites at the top.

Ted GrantTed Grant At our last meeting before moving back to the U.S., I could tell Ted was sizing me up, trying to judge whether or not I would disappear into the vastness of America, never to be heard from again. His piercing, no-nonsense gaze penetrated my very being as he said, in relation to the task before me: “The weight of the world is on your shoulders.” Heavy words for a 24 year-old to absorb! Starting a group from scratch in the belly of the beast – in Fargo, North Dakota to be precise – was certainly going to be a long, grueling struggle, to say the least. But I was confident that with what I had learned from Ted and other comrades during my time in London, I would eventually succeed in finding plenty of other like-minded individuals. Although we are still at the beginning of the beginning of this process, with the founding of the Workers International League3 in 2002, we have accomplished the first stage of this process, laying viable foundations for a much larger and more influential organization in the future

Through all the ups and downs of building an organization from scratch, Ted’s advice to always maintain a sense of humor and a sense of proportion has served me well. This is, after all, a marathon, not a sprint. I have also never forgotten his inspired insistence that I “have faith in the working class,” despite all its contradictions. This is not for any “romantic” notion about being a “worker,” but because of the working class’ role in the productive process, what Marxists call its “relation to the means of production.” After all, as Ted explained time and again, not a wheel turns and not a light shines without the kind permission of the working class. Therein lay the “secret” to the socialist revolution; once the giant of the working class, which comprises the vast majority of society, becomes aware of its tremendous potential power, nothing on earth will be able to stop it.

And as far as how to begin analyzing any given situation, Ted had the following basic rule of thumb: What is good for working class is good; what is bad for the working class is not. In other words, that which serves to raise the international working class’ consciousness, unity, and confidence in its collective strength and ability to change society, we support; that which serves to divide, disorient and atomize the class we do not. This is an over-simplification of the approach, but is not a bad starting point.

With just a few months of study under my belt before I had to head back to the U.S., I was far from having any real command of these ideas and the many political positions Ted and the IMT had developed over the years. Above all, I had very little experience in developing political positions myself, of sifting through the contradictory facts and cutting through the whirlwind of events to focus on the essential elements in any given situation, to be able to concentrate all that information into an effective slogan or demand, appropriate for the needs of the moment. Although I have made some progress in this respect – and I was forced to learn fast, thrown as I was into the “deep end” of building from scratch in the heart of world imperialism – this is a process that literally takes decades, a lifetime of study and practice. But when building a cadre organization, it is above all the appropriate application of the Marxist method to the concrete situation that is important, not the blind repetition of dates, facts, and positions learned by rote. Ted always emphasized the importance of theory as a guide to action, and I took this to heart. I spent my final weeks in London reading and discussing as much theory as I possibly could, as well as buying up as much Lenin and Trotsky as I could find in the used book stores.

I also felt that I was not alone in this endeavor, despite being the first member of the IMT “on the ground” in the U.S. Ted made it clear that if I was ever stumped on a question – I would be – I should simply admit that I wasn’t quite sure what the answer was, take a crack at it to the best of my ability, and then ask him or Alan Woods or Rob Sewell or Jordi Martorell or any of the other more experienced comrades back in London, what they thought of the question. The aim wasn’t to merely look up answers and positions as if in a cookbook, but to truly grasp the method of Marxism, to be able to come up with the correct conclusions myself. I was also encouraged to experiment, to make mistakes and learn from them, as I figured out how best to build a national section on an entire continent.

Above all, it was my conviction in the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, which Ted had preserved and developed throughout his lifetime, during a period when the forces of genuine Marxism were reduced to a tiny handful worldwide, that gave me the confidence to keep plugging away. Through thick and thin, Ted had stuck to his guns through the dog days of the post-war boom, persistently defending the fundamentals of Marxism against all those who sought to “revise” them, or who were always looking for shortcuts to the long-term, patient work of building a cadre organization rooted in the working class. As he put it, there are no shortcuts in this work, and those who have tried, end up taking a “shortcut over a cliff!”

Those who are impatient at the lack of quick results during the current economic crisis should be thankful they didn’t have to live through the incredibly difficult 1950s and early 1960s, the height of the post-War boom, when illusions that perhaps capitalism wasn’t so bad were at their peak. After all, why study and organize for the overthrow of capitalism when it was actually creating jobs, expanding health care coverage, housing and education? Despite the relative calm on the surface of society today, and the apparently “backward consciousness” of the working class, the possibilities for connecting the ideas of revolutionary Marxism with the experience of the workers are greater than they have been in decades. But it will not happen overnight. Ted also explained that consciousness can take a long time to catch up with objective reality, but that when it does, it catches up with a bang that can take even the most prepared revolutionaries by surprise. That is part of the dialectic of history and of party building.

To remain rooted to the fundamentals and oriented in the right direction in the face of such a difficult objective situation, Ted always returned to the classics, especially when confronted with new political and social phenomena. “It’s all in there; in Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky,” he would say. I once asked him what I should read after that, and he replied, “Well, then read Trotsky, Lenin, Engels and Marx!”

The publication of the first volume of Ted’s Selected Works in the U.S. is an important step toward making these ideas more widely known to a new generation of Marxists. Many people around the world are familiar with some of Ted’s work, published on www.marxist.com and www.tedgrant.org. Others may have read The Unbroken Thread, a selection of his works produced in the UK, but long out of print and difficult to find in the United States. However, much of this material has never been published in book form, and never has such a volume been produced in the U.S. There is widespread confusion in the U.S. as to what Trotskyism is and what it isn’t; this series will go a long way toward clarifying many misconceptions. Ted’s writings on the momentous events of the 20th Century are a textbook example of how to apply the ideas and methods of Lenin and Trotsky to the world around us. The importance of such a publication can therefore not be underestimated.

Leon TrotskyLeon Trotsky Unfortunately, after Trotsky's death, the leaders of the 4th International, and especially of its U.S. Section, the Socialist Workers Party, proved incapable of applying the method of Marxism to the changed situation. Trotsky's pre-war prediction that Stalinism would either be overthrown by Hitler's fascists or be toppled by the Soviet masses in a political revolution, was falsified by events. Had he not been struck down by a Stalinist assassin's icepick in August, 1940, Trotsky would have adapted his perspectives to the changing realities. The leaders of the 4th International were simply unable to wrap their heads around the new situation after Trotsky’s death. They zig-zagged from one exaggerated position to another, from one impressionistic “analysis” to another, instead of discovering the fundamental contradictions they were confronted with and allowing the conclusions to flow from the facts themselves. International, and especially of its U.S. Section, the Socialist Workers Party, proved incapable of applying the method of Marxism to the changed situation.

There were many new developments in the years after the war, including the prolonged capitalist boom, the strengthening of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the balance of power between U.S. imperialism and the USSR, the overthrow of capitalism and the imposition of regimes in the image of Moscow in Eastern Europe, the variant that existed in Tito’s Yugoslavia, the Chinese Revolution, the colonial revolution, the seizing up of the Soviet economy due to the parasitic role played by the bureaucracy, etc.

On all these questions, the leaders of the 4th International stumbled from one mistake to another. It is not an exaggeration to say, and the documents written at the time confirm this, that the Revolutionary Communist Party in the UK, of which Ted was the leading theoretician, was the only group that was able to understand the new situation, and accept that it was going to be a difficult period for the foreseeable future.

Aside from his writings on World War Two, economics, and European and world politics in the post-war period, perhaps Ted’s most important contribution to the deepening of Marxist theory was his development of Trotsky’s idea of “Soviet Bonapartism,” which the leader of the Russian Revolution and founder of the 4th International had outlined in the 1930s in his analysis of the class nature of the Soviet Union.4

A Marxist analysis of the class nature of a society begins with an examination of the economic base upon which the state maintains its power. This is the fundamental, and in the final analysis, determining factor when characterizing the class nature of a given society. What concerns us above all are the relations between the classes, the mode of production, i.e., how the wealth is produced, distributed and exchanged in that society. Under capitalism, private ownership of the means of production is the dominant economic form. Wealth is produced socially by the working class, but the surplus wealth it creates is privately appropriated and distributed by the capitalists, who own the means of production. This is the economic basis of a bourgeois or capitalist state.

The economic basis of a workers' or proletarian state, on the other hand, is one in which the key levers of the economy – the banks, major land holdings, major industries and corporations – are nationalized, i.e. owned by the state, and integrated into a rational plan of production and distribution. In other words, wealth is socially produced, and the surplus created is socially appropriated and distributed.

However, this does not exhaust the question. There are many types of state that can be erected on any given economic base. For example, a democratic republic, military junta, constitutional monarchy, and fascist dictatorship are all forms of state basing themselves on the capitalist, or bourgeois, mode of production. The ideal form of bourgeois state is the democratic republic, which allows for profit-making and control of the working majority of the population through the rule of law, force of habit, tradition, playing one section of the population off another, and the judicious use of force. Compare this to the open reaction of a military dictatorship, which, while defending capitalism in the face of political and social ferment, inevitably distorts the normal operation of the system, and therefore cannot last as long.

The history of the 20th Century has shown that, unforeseen by Marx and Engels, there are also different types of state that can sit atop an economy basing itself on a nationalized, planned economy. The ideal form, the form we in the Workers International League fight for, is state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, combined with the direct, democratic participation of the working class majority in the running of society. In other words, the workers’ state would be directly controlled and administered by the working class itself. However, there is another variant, often referred to in short-hand as Stalinism or as a “deformed” or “degenerated workers’ state.” When describing this kind of state, Ted preferred the more scientific term “proletarian Bonapartism,” as it describes both the fundamental economic basis of the regime (proletarian), as well as the type of state superstructure (Bonapartism).

Napoleon BonaparteNapoleon Bonaparte The term “Bonapartism,” after Napoleon Bonaparte, describes a situation in which neither of the main contending classes in society, the ruling class and the ruled, can gain the advantage. Under capitalism, the two main classes are the working class and the capitalist class. There is a kind of stalemate in the class struggle, which can only be broken by the forcible imposition of a dictator from above, balancing between the classes to re-establish “order.” In the ancient world it was known as “Caesarism,” after Julius Caesar; under capitalism, as “Bonapartism” or “bourgeois Bonapartism,” and on the basis of a nationalized, planned economy, “proletarian Bonapartism.” It is “rule by the sword,” of naked force and repression from above, all while maintaining and defending the existing property relations.

While all historical analogies have their limitations, they can provide a basic framework for understanding complex historical processes, not in retrospect, but as they unfold around us. By a series of successive approximations, continually deepening our understanding on the basis of the latest facts and developments, we can arrive at much richer, more concrete understanding of what is happening. It goes without saying that the purpose of outlining such perspectives is to allow us to intervene in events, not simply to analyze them academically from afar. To this end, Leon Trotsky used the analogy of Thermidor to shed light on the process of degeneration of the Russian Revolution. Thermidor is the name used to describe the political counter-revolution that took place during the Great French Revolution, which began with the overthrow of Robespierre and the Jacobins in 1794, followed by the subsequent rise of the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte, who eventually crowned himself emperor of France in 1804.

Given the cultural and economic backwardness of Russia, compounded by the devastation and disorganization of society wrought by World War One, there simply was not the material basis for socialism: enough to go around for everyone. Above all, the revolution’s isolation, after the attempts at socialist revolution failed in advanced capitalist countries such as Germany, led to a process of degeneration. When there is generalized want, i.e. not enough to go around, measures must be taken to ensure the orderly distribution of what resources do exist. Breadlines spring up and with them, police to police them. But who polices the police? By degrees, a bureaucratic caste encrusted itself at the top of soviet society, personified by Stalin himself. This totalitarian caricature of genuine socialism was a nightmare, a cruel smashing of the hopes for a world socialist revolution aroused in the hearts of millions of workers in the Soviet Union and around the world.

However, the Stalinist counter-revolution did not re-establish the capitalist property relations that had existed in Russia before the conquest of power of the Bolsheviks. On the contrary, in a deformed and bureaucratic manner, even more of the economy was brought under the control of the state. It was a political counter-revolution, which usurped political power from the soviet masses, who in the early years of the USSR had directly participated in the running of society, and not a social counter-revolution, an overturning of the new, nationalized property forms established by the revolution. Although the economy was planned bureaucratically from above, without the direct, democratic input from the workers and peasants, it was a nationalized, planned economy nonetheless. This was the economic foundation upon which Stalin’s political and economic power was based. Therefore, despite these severe deformations, it was in that fundamental and decisive sense a workers’ state, as compared to a capitalist state in which the commanding heights of the economy are owned and controlled by private capitalists.

In works such as “The Workers’ State, Thermidor and Bonapartism,” Trotsky explained the basic phenomenon of Stalinism:

“From the standpoint that interests us, the difference in the social basis of the two Bonapartisms, of Jacobin and Soviet origin, is much more important. In the former case, the question involved was the consolidation of the bourgeois revolution through the liquidation of its principles and political institutions. In the latter case, the question involved is the consolidation of the worker-peasant revolution through the smashing of its international program, its leading party, its Soviets. Carrying the policies of Thermidor further, Napoleon waged a struggle not only against the feudal world but also against the “rabble” and the democratic circles of the petty and middle bourgeoisie; in this way he concentrated the fruits of the regime born out of the revolution in the hands of the new bourgeois aristocracy. Stalin guards the conquests of the October Revolution not only against the feudal-bourgeois counterrevolution but also against the claims of the toilers, their impatience and their dissatisfaction; he crushes the left wing that expresses the ordered historical and progressive tendencies of the unprivileged working masses; he creates a new aristocracy by means of an extreme differentiation in wages, privileges, ranks, etc. Leaning for support upon the topmost layer of the new social hierarchy against the lowest – sometimes vice versa – Stalin has attained the complete concentration of power in his own hands. What else should this regime be called if not Soviet Bonapartism?

“Bonapartism, by its very essence, cannot long maintain itself; a sphere balanced on the point of a pyramid must invariably roll down on one side or the other. But it is precisely at this point, as we have already seen, that the historical analogy runs up against its limits. Napoleon’s downfall did not, of course, leave untouched the relations between the classes; but in its essence the social pyramid of France retained its bourgeois character. The inevitable collapse of Stalinist Bonapartism would immediately call into question the character of the USSR as a workers’ state. A socialist economy cannot be constructed without a socialist power. The fate of the USSR as a socialist state depends upon that political regime that will arise to replace Stalinist Bonapartism. Only the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat can regenerate the Soviet system, if it is again able to mobilize around itself the toilers of the city and the village.”

In his masterpiece Stalin, Trotsky outlined the process of degeneration of the political regime in the Soviet Union, while maintaining the economic base conquered by the revolution:

“The counter-revolution sets in when the spool of progressive social conquests begins to unwind. There seems no end to this unwinding. Yet some portion of the conquests of the revolution is always preserved. Thus, in spite of monstrous bureaucratic distortions, the class basis of the USSR remains proletarian. But let us bear in mind that the unwinding process has not yet been completed, and the future of Europe and the world during the next few decades has not yet been decided. The Russian Thermidor would undoubtedly have opened a new era of bourgeois rule, if that rule had not proved obsolete throughout the world. At any rate the struggle against equality and the establishment of very deep social differentiation has so far been unable to eliminate the socialist consciousness of the masses or the nationalization of the means of production and the land, which were the basic socialist conquests of the revolution.”

He continues:

“Here the analogy with French Thermidor ceases. The new social basis of the Soviet Union became paramount. To guard the nationalization of the means of production and of the land, is the bureaucracy’s law of life and death, for these are the social sources of its dominant position.”

Confronted with the post-war regimes in Eastern Europe, the Chinese Revolution, and the colonial revolution generally, which in many cases resulted in junior military officers seizing power and proceeding to nationalize the economy, Ted built on Trotsky’s basic thesis and applied it to the new situation. For example, in “Against the Theory of State Capitalism – Reply to Tony Cliff,” included in this volume, he explains:

“Anyone who compared the Bonapartist counter-revolution with the revolution – at least in its superstructure – would have found as great a difference as between the regime of Lenin and Trotsky in Russia and that of Stalin in latter years. To superficial observers the difference between the two regimes was fundamental. In fact, insofar as the superstructure was concerned, the difference was glaring. Napoleon had reintroduced many of the orders, decorations and ranks similar to those of feudalism; he had restored the Church; he even had himself crowned Emperor. Yet despite this counter-revolution, it is clear that it had nothing in common with the old regime. It was counter-revolution on the basis of the new form of property introduced by the revolution itself. Bourgeois forms of property or property relations remained the basis of the economy.”5

However, like Trotsky, Ted was also clear that the degree of deformation must also be determined. It is not enough to simply demand a change of regime in a deformed workers’ state, while defending the nationalized property forms. For example, whether there must be the political overthrow of the regime in power, or whether such change can be effected through a series of reforms, increased participation of the masses from below, and the spread of the revolution internationally, can only be determined by examining each situation concretely. The answer to these questions is not an academic exercise; it affects our approach on the ground when working in such countries, the program we present, the slogans and demands we raise.

A photo of the head of the statue of Joseph Stalin desecrated during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution before the invasion of the Red Army crushing the revolution.A photo of the head of the statue of Joseph Stalin desecrated during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution before the invasion of the Red Army crushing the revolution. As a part of the discussion on the class nature of the Soviet Union, the thesis that it was “state capitalist,” and not a workers’ state at all, was also submitted to a thorough dissection by Ted. His conclusion, outlined in articles in this volume, was that that the USSR was indeed a deformed workers’ state, and not at all capitalist, state or otherwise. This volume also contains articles in which Ted explores the complex nature of the economics of the transitional society between capitalism and communism, in both healthy and deformed workers’ states, questions we will be confronted with in the future as the working class inevitably seizes power in one country or another, the first steps toward the world revolution.

Volume One also contains some of Ted’s most important writings on the crisis of Stalinism, the conflict between Stalin and Tito, the attempted political revolution in Hungary in 1956 and more. We also include the article “Bureaucratism or Workers’ Power,” co-authored with Roger Silverman, which explains what a healthy workers’ state would look like, as compared to the tragic Stalinist caricature. It should be emphasized, however, that in spite of the horrors of Stalinism and his lifelong struggle against it, Ted, like Trotsky, was implacable in his unconditional defense of the gains of the Russian Revolution. The Stalinist bureaucracy was a parasite on Soviet society, skimming off the cream for itself, eventually collapsing under its own weight, which led to the reversal of all the gains of the revolution and the re-establishment of capitalism in the 1990s. Yet despite the inefficiencies and brutality of the Stalinist regime, the potential of a rationally planned economy was revealed in the USSR. Russia went from the most backward country in Europe to the first in space, with more doctors and scientists than all the major advanced capitalist countries combined. The power of the plan was revealed in practice, with astronomical growth rates in the 1930s, while the capitalist world languished in Depression. Imagine what will be possible when such a plan is directly and democratically controlled and administered by the working masses themselves, and not bureaucratically from above?

So why should we bother studying Stalinism today? Why does it matter whether the USSR was proletarian Bonapartist or state capitalist? Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, haven’t these questions been answered by history? Isn’t capitalism, for all its faults, the best we can hope for?

The world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. The destruction of the planned economy – despite the horrors of Stalinism – was an historic defeat for the international working class. The overthrow of socialist property relations in Russia and Eastern Europe meant an end to universal housing, health care and employment, and to a massive rise in unemployment crime, prostitution, drug abuse, a collapse in life expectancy, and all the other joys of life under capitalism. It had and continues to have a disorienting and demoralizing effect on millions of workers and activists around the world. But it opens other possibilities as well. No longer does the stifling, uninspiring dominance of the Stalinist bureaucracy cast a long shadow on the banner of revolutionary Marxism and socialism. No longer does the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, aimed not at bringing about the world revolution, but at defending the bureaucracy’s power and privileges, play its counter-revolutionary role. There is confusion and crisis in the Communist Parties of the world, and many rank and file members are turning to Trotsky’s writings for an explanation and way forward. Most youth today have no direct experience of the Cold War, and growing numbers are open to the genuine ideas of Marxism as a solution to their problems.

Given the crisis of capitalism, it is not ruled out that new regimes of proletarian Bonaparitsm could emerge in the coming period. Without the example of the Soviet Union, it is less likely than in the past, but history knows all kinds of twists and turns. Until the working class seizes power in one of the advanced capitalist countries – where the material wealth of society rules out the emergence of such regimes – we can see many variants. The masses in the ex-colonial world cannot simply wait around until the workers in the advanced countries have a leadership capable of overthrowing capitalism. As in the 1960s and 70s, we may see regimes in which the economy is nationalized and bureaucratically planned from above, in an attempt to solve the dire problems of the masses. How we orient to such regimes and intervene in the process will depend on our having a profound theoretical understanding of the nature of these regimes. We can draw on the rich lessons of the past to aid us in this understanding. There is also the crucially important question of how to defend the Cuban Revolution against capitalist restoration, and the equally vital question of how to build the forces of genuine Marxism in countries such as China, where capitalism has been re-established and continues to be consolidated.

The material in this volume is therefore not simply of historic interest. Mistakes in theory inevitably lead to mistakes in practice. Mistakes in perspectives, orientation and method, if not openly admitted, appraised, and corrected can lead to disaster in the real world. As they say, hindsight is 20/20; it is easy to analyze things with pinpoint precision in retrospect. However, due to his profound grasp of the Marxist method, Ted Grant was able to explain these phenomena as they developed, applying Trotsky’s approach to the complex world around him, not by parroting his phrases or cobbling together quotes to support a pre-determined conclusion. To be sure, Ted made plenty of mistakes in his day; no one is infallible. But he learned from these mistakes and from experience, and kept plugging away at his life goal, the world socialist revolution, which he badly wanted to live to see.

It has been said far better by others, but it is worth repeating it here: the best monument we can build to honor the life and work of Ted Grant is a mass revolutionary Marxist international, the embodiment of his ideas in practice. Around the world, thousands of comrades of the International Marxist Tendency are doing just that. On the 75th Anniversary of the Minneapolis Teamsters strike, which was led by Trotskyists, and as we face the most severe capitalist crisis on a world scale since World War Two, we hope the publication of this volume will spark the interest of a new generation of class fighters in Ted’s important contributions to understanding the nature of Stalinism and the struggle for world socialist revolution.

John Peterson
November 27, 2009
Minneapolis, MN

Now available from MarxistBooks.com.

Footnotes

1 Ted Grant was born Isaac Blank on July 9, 1913 in Germiston, South Africa.

2 In 1998, the International Marxist Tendency was still called the Committee for a Marxist International. The name was changed in 2000.

3 The name Workers International League was taken from Ted’s original group in South Africa, and then again in the UK, when he moved there in 1934.

4 See Trotsky, Leon. “The Soviet Union Today.” New International, Vol.2 No.4, July 1935, ppp.116-122 and Trotsky, Leon. “The Workers’ State, Themidor, and Bonapartism.” International Socialist Review, Vol.17 No.3, Summer 1956, pp.93-101, 105.

5 See page 183 of the current volume