Re: Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression

Ken Hiebert

I realize that not everyone will be as interested as I am in what Trotsky said more than 80 years ago.  But for those who are interested, my remarks below.

Slavoj Zizek is  of secondary interest to me so I had not followed this thread until I saw a contribution from Marv. 
Starting with his objection to the remarks of Bradley Mayer, I can say that even while I tend to be on the same side as Bradley, his declaration of crossing a political Rubicon doesn’t do much to advance the discussion.  On a list like this it strikes me as an unnecessary rhetorical flourish.

On the substance of Marv’s remarks, I think he is wrong.  He says, "When Trotsky proclaimed his support for Ukrainian self-determination, it was was conditional on that struggle being led by the socialist proletariat.”  I don’t see any evidence for that.

I read two articles by Trotsky, first the one that Marv cited.  (For some reason the link in Marv’s article did not work for me.  Let’s see if the links below work any better.)

Secondly I read a follow up article written three months later.

Here are some extracts from the second article.

"And in order to achieve this, one must not shut one’s eyes to the growth of separatist tendencies in the Ukraine, but rather give them a correct political expression.

"The Thermidorian reaction, crowned by the Bonapartist bureaucracy, has thrown the toiling masses far back in the national sphere as well. The great masses of the Ukrainian people are dissatisfied with their national fate and wish to change it drastically. ii is this fact that the revolutionary politician must, in contrast to the bureaucrat and the sectarian, take as his point of departure.

"The Kremlin bureaucracy, tells the Soviet woman: Inasmuch as there is socialism our country, you must be happy and you must give up abortions (or suffer the penalty). To the Ukrainian they say: Inasmuch as the socialist revolution has solved the national question, it is your duty to be happy in the USSR and to renounce all thought of separation (or face the firing squad).
What does a revolutionist say to the woman? “You will decide yourself whether you want a child: I will defend your right to abortion against the Kremlin police.” To the Ukrainian people he says: “Of importance to me is your attitude toward your national destiny and not the ‘socialistic’ sophistries of the Kremlin police; I will support your struggle for independence with all my might!”

“"The barb of the slogan of an independent Ukraine is aimed directly against the Moscow bureaucracy and enables the proletarian vanguard to rally the peasant masses. On the other hand, the same slogan opens up for the proletarian party the opportunity of playing a leading role in the national Ukrainian movement in Poland, Rumania and Hungary. Both of these political processes will drive the revolutionary movement forward and increase the specific weight of the proletarian vanguard

"Piling one dire accusation indiscriminately on top of another, our critic declares that the slogan of an independent Ukraine serves the interests of the imperialists (!) and the Stalinists (!!) because it “completely negates the position of the defense of the Soviet Union.” It is impossible to understand just why, the “interests of the Stalinists” are dragged in. But let its confine ourselves to the question of the defense of the USSR. This defense could he menaced by an independent Ukraine only if the latter were hostile not only to the bureaucracy but also to the USSR. However, given such a premise (obviously false), how can a socialist demand that a hostile Ukraine be retained within the framework of the USSR? Or does the question involve only the period of the national revolution.

* * **

So, looking at the extracts above I see Trotsky saying " I will support your struggle for independence with all my might!”
I don’t see any conditions attached to this declaration.  And I don’t see any limit on what kind of independence he would be willing to support.

And further, he says,  " can a socialist demand that a hostile Ukraine be retained within the framework of the USSR? “  
I think his reference to a “hostile Ukraine” could include a Ukraine that is not governed by socialists.

Those who are interested can read the article for themselves.

ken h

Join to automatically receive all group messages.