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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Learning from trotsky’s transitional programme

Many people will be unfamiliar with Leon Trotsky’s Transitional programme which he set out in the 30’s which Trotskyist parties across the world worth their salt have looked to base their programme on. The Socialist party formally Militant Labour and part of the CWI the Committee for Workers International which I’m a member of would claim to look towards and formulate a transitional programme which can fit to the current consciousness of the working class at a given period.

Trotsky described the situation as thus
The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat.

Which still till this day is absolutely bang on the money, the leadership of the working class is at best asleep at worst in the pockets of the boss’s and the capitalist class. Trotsky made many points in his original transitional programme and by no means meant it to be a blueprint which to follow but any Marxist worth his or her salt in today’s society will recognise the need to bridge the gap between current consciousness and where we need to be heading. Trotsky in his day recognised this too with the gap between the minimum programmes
It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demand and the socialist program of the revolution. This bridge should include a system of transitional demands, stemming from today’s conditions and from today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class and unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat.


Classical Social Democracy, functioning in an epoch of progressive capitalism, divided its program into two parts independent of each other: the minimum program which limited itself to reforms within the framework of bourgeois society, and the maximum program which promised substitution of socialism for capitalism in the indefinite future. Between the minimum and the maximum program no bridge existed. And indeed Social Democracy has no need of such a bridge, since the word socialism is used only for holiday specifying. The Comintern has set out to follow the path of Social Democracy in an epoch of decaying capitalism: when, in general, there can be no discussion of systematic social reforms and the raising of he masses’ living standards; when every serious demand of the proletariat and even every serious demand of the petty bourgeoisie inevitably reaches beyond the limits of capitalist property relations and of the bourgeois state.
The strategic task of the CWI lies not in reforming capitalism but in its overthrow. Its political aim is the conquest of power by the proletariat for the purpose of expropriating the bourgeoisie. However, the achievement of this strategic task is unthinkable without the most considered attention to all, even small and partial, questions of tactics. All sections of the proletariat, all its layers, occupations and groups should be drawn into the revolutionary movement. The present epoch is distinguished not for the fact that it frees the revolutionary party from day-to-day work but because it permits this work to be carried on indissolubly with the actual tasks of the revolution.


As Trotsky says we fight for every reform and defend all the gains of the working class but look to go a lot lot further than just defending reforms won in the past.

The CWI does not discard the program of the old “minimal” demands to the degree to which these have preserved at least part of their vital forcefulness. Indefatigably, it defends the democratic rights and social conquests of the workers. But it carries on this day-to-day work within the framework of the correct actual, that is, revolutionary perspective. Insofar as the old, partial, “minimal” demands of the masses clash with the destructive and degrading tendencies of decadent capitalism – and this occurs at each step – the CWI advances a system of transitional demands, the essence of which is contained in the fact that ever more openly and decisively they will be directed against the very bases of the bourgeois regime. The old “minimal program” is superseded by the transitional program, the task of which lies in systematic mobilization of the masses for the proletarian revolution.

As the socialist party we not only use Trotsky’s transitional programme we actively look to learn and develop it to discover by living and interacting with day to day struggles of the working class able to use our Marxist theory to develop a understanding as to which demands are reasonable at this time to put forward which raise consciousness but also look to move the working c lass forward in its pursuit of power and the eventual over throw of the current exploitative system of capitalism.

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