Leon Trotsky on Britainby Leon Trotsky, George Novack (Introduction)
"A good antidote, for scholars as well as undergraduates, to the
The displacement of British industry, trade, finance, and diplomacy by its U.S. rival following World War I opened a period of social crisis and class battles across Britain, discussed in these articles by Trotsky. Includes an analysis of the 1926 general strike, betrayed by the labor officialdom.
"A good antidote, for scholars as well as undergraduates, to the standard interpretations of British history."-Choice
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In 1926 a strike by coal miners in Britain in desperate conditions led to such a wake of solidarity that a general strike resulted that shut the whole country down and put the workers and farmers in striking distance ( no pun intended) of grabbing the brass ring : taking the whole power over, out of the hands of the Big Boss class ( who are the warlovers-warmakers as well by the way ) and establishing a workers and farmers government , so they could join the world struggle for socialism. They were betrayed by their top bureaucrat union leaders, whose hands trembled at the thought of taking governmental power, and they were betrayed by the party of the most militant , self-sacrificing, solidarity-in-action workers of the U.K. : the Communist Party, or rather its leadership ,obeying the dictates of the soon -to -be -dictator and mass murderer of communists, Joseph Stalin ( who was playing footsie with the union misleaders mentioned above at the expense of the fighting ranks ). In this book by Leon Trotsky, co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the Russian Revolution, you can learn what happened and what could have happened in this almost-revolution. What does this have to do with workers here and now, who are also being betrayed or threatened with betrayal by the same kind of union tops every time we seriously resist the effects of the Second Great Depression coming in front of our eyes.? Which same union tops support Bush and the Democrats¿ wars- (more coming after Iraq ) for Big Oil and Big Business , and have no choice but to start building a working class movement to take the power out of the hands of the "civilized hyenas" ? Well, the author of this book would say to ask that question is to answer it. It has to do with taking back control of our unions to make them fighting instruments, and all of us starting to act like the longshore workers; the coal miners, laundry, garment, meatpacking workers fighting to get the union in or defend the union they have, and the United Airline mechanics ( as of today 9 Dec.02 ) who we should be emulating and acting like. Support the UK firefighters ( on strike late 2002 ) !
When "Where is Britain Going," the central component of this collection was published in 1926, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that this book contained detailed instructions on how to overthrow capitalism in Britain and the US. This book is still pretty good for that. Trotsky takes apart the bourgeois liberal, imperialist, and "democratic" illusions about Britain, and shows how in a time of crisis, more an more like the economic and political crisis faced in the US, Britain, and other imperialist countries today, only a revolutionary working class solution is correct. I found his criticism of the philosophy of political gradualism offered by British social democrats and Conservative politicians particularly pointed at both reformist and conservative labor bureaucrats today. The current editions contains contemporary responses this book by British reformist labor party leaders H. N. Brailsford, Ramsey McDonald, and George Lansbury and philosopher Bertrand Russell as well as Trotsky's responses to their criticism. It also contains 20 pages of reviews of Where is Britain going from bourgeois, reformist, and communist newspapers and magazines from Britain, the US, and Germany. Just as rich, is "After the General Strike," Trotsky's analysis of the great British General strike of 1926 and its betrayal by Britain's trade union and labor party bureaucrats?
This collection of writings by Leon Trotsky, a central leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, provides a vivid and incisive analysis of big events in British politics in the turbulent years 1925-28. This was a time when millions of workers grappled with the lessons of the Russian Revolution, while the deep conflicts in the world capitalist economy left unresolved by World War I were pointing toward the renewed slaughter of World War II. I find these are not just interesting historical questions, but remain at the heart of politics in the 21st century with its new economic crisis and resulting drive towards war. Trotsky¿s explanation of the decline of the British Empire and the shifting balance of power among the imperialist powers, especially with the rise of the United States, is a model for analyzing the world today. So are his writings on working class political strategy. Bosses attacks against workers in Britain provoked a near-revolutionary general strike in 1926. However, the course followed by the new Communist Party in Britain, directed by the conservative Stalinist bureaucracy rising in the Soviet Union, failed to advance the struggle towards a workers seizure of power. Trotsky¿s writings criticizing the Stalinist course in Britain were an early part of his fight against the degeneration of the Russian Revolution-- and full of rich lessons for today. Check out other writings by Trotsky such as Leon Trotsky on France, The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, Leon Trotsky on the Spanish Revolution, and The Revolution Betrayed. And for current analysis of the world and working class politics, I¿d recommend: Capitalism¿s World Disorder, Their Trotsky and Ours, and Cuba and the Coming American Revolution, all by U.S. revolutionary Jack Barnes.