CRP en el Perú
July 30th 2006
Dear comrades of the Gruppe für revolutionäre arbeiterinnenpolitik,
On February 16th, the GRA sent a letter to the Collective Permanent Revolution, most of which is devoted to the August 2003 Call to an international conference. Beforehand you sent us your theses on the 4th International. Please excuse the slowness of our reply. It has to do both with the extreme weakness of the Collective apparatus and with our linguistic inadequacy.
As you already know, our international gathering occurred with the Argentinian revolutionary crisis. It results from a rapprochement by groups from three different traditions: the 1953 Trotskyite International Committee of the 4th International (GB France), the Pabloite revisionist ISFI – same period – through its Morenoist branch (GOI-CI Chile, LOI-CI Argentina), and the LRCI created in 1989 from the international work of a British group, extricating itself from the the Cliffist revisionism (CWG New Zealand, LM Peru). Such a common work led to a statement on Irak (January 2003) and to a Call to the principled Trotskyists and to the revolutionary workers’ organisations (August 2003).
soon as the Collective appeared on the political stage, the Munzer-Novak
leadership of the LOI, its most important component, tried to destroy the
Peruvian group, called Polpotists, and to eliminate the Collective itself. The
LOI led its subordinates in
With the implemetation of a “Buenos Aires board” against the Collective, with the adaptation to panlatino nationalism and to Morenoist slanders, we could get some lessons for the vanguard: argument between LM and LOI-CI on the perspective of intentionally centrist Zimmerwald-kind gatherings: thesis by the GG about the workers’ aristocracy and the workers’ bureaucracy, reply by the GB to the POR Argentina and to the FT Brazil on the Liaison Committee without any program.
Collective has survived that first crisis. First, he got more precisely
delimited (charter of Permanent Revolution), he produced documents on
various aspects of the world class struggle:
The debates between the LOI-CI and the GB that led to the adoption of the 21 points and to their preamble are instructive, we leave them to history. The Grupo Germinal (Spanish state), coming from the International Committee of the 4th International launched by James Cannon, Marcel Bleibtreu, Gerry Healy and Peng Shuzhi (and afterwards the struggle of Stéphane Just) joined the Collective through a critical assessment of the Call. Three years after its adoption, all the elements in the Collective have critically analysed the Call. Therefore, the political board of the Collective claims that the 2003 Call and its 21 points for delimitation are partly out of date. However, we wishfully allow a discussion about it with the GRA, in order to establish a principled basis for a common fight in the same revolutionary and democratic organization.
For that reason, we first reply the issue you judge the most important, on the program (I), before discussing our disagreements on the period (II) and then the issues on strategy and tactics (III).
You wonder if the program of the Collective is its 2003 Call or the 1938 program:
You always evoke “your program”… If “our program” means the 1938 Transitional Program, that is a problem for us, and we should discuss it seriously. If it means your 21 theses, we also have a problem, but it is probably a question of terminology. For us, those “programmatic agreements” do not meet the requirements of a program.
We ignore what the leadership of the LOI-CI meant by “our program”; as far as the Collective is concerned, when talking about “our program”, we mean the historical program of the proletariat, not only the 21 points of 2003, not only 1938 The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International.
Through its dialectical method, Marx often used concepts in a flexible way. Indeed, he used relations from a contradiction to another, according to his object of study, and to the progresse of his analysis. Such is the case for most of the categories he used: mode of production, productive forces, class, party, program... For instance, when talking about the party, Marx may take it either in the historical sense, or as a specific organization at a given time. Also the program may mean something larger than a program.
The communist theory, commonly known as “Marxism”, is itself ruled by the laws of dialectics. It is not invariant; it did not immediately appear under its perfect and definitive form, as Aphrodite did. The communist theory is born out of the modern class struggle. It has developed with the numerical strengthening of the proletariat and with the topicality of the socialist revolution, itself resulting from the historical decline of capitalism. It will disappear with the end of classes. The communist program has a unity all along time, but the formal program of the 3rd International was better advanced than the one of the 2nd International, and the program of the 4th International is an improvement (development of transitional demands, defence of the workers state and necessity of a political revolution in USSR, adoption of the permanent revolution strategy and denunciation of any political bloc with the bourgeoisie…). Scientific socialism, Marxism, work in a contradictory way. They use scientific items from outside, they use items that were forgotten or misunderstood, and they always fight against those who want to revise it.
Even if you grasp the problem, when you note that the program is uncomplete and must be updated, you tend to reduce it to the model of the Transitional Program, which was adopted at the conference which founded the 4th International. Keeping the “method”, that is the transition, would be enough:
For us, the transitional logics developed in the Transitional Program is the crucial method for the constitution of a new revolutionary program.
The Collective does not deny that working out a program of demands is an improvement for moving from the objective situation of the proletariat in the declining capitalism to the necessity that it takes the power. He does not deny that, 70 years after its adoption, it is necessary to update it. Still, unlike what is largely spread in the “Trotskyist movement”, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, known as the Transitional Program, was not the program of the 4th International.
International had a program before
Do we ever concern ourselves with
« organisational domination » ? For us,
the important thing is a program that corresponds to the objective situation.
If another organisation, more significant than ours, accepts this program –not
in words but in deeds- we are ready to merge with it without the least pretension
to the organizational domination. Look at the
In his letter, Trotsky mentions “the program”, but it is not the Transitional Program, which was adopted three years later; when he says “the program determines everything”, we think that he evokes the program in the broad sense, that is the historical program, the substance of all the policy documents adopted by the International Left Opposition and then by the ICL. For instance, the 1940 Manifesto of the 4th International states that the program consists with various documents:
Our program is formulated in a series of documents accessible to everyone. (Imperialist war and world proletarian revolution, 1940)
We guess that these documents include, together with the Transitional Program, the other resolutions adopted during the founding conference of the 4th International in 1938 (Manifesto to the workers of the whole world, Resolution about the class struggle and the war in the Far East, Call for the Spanish working class…), and also the texts previously adopted. Not mentioning the Russian Left Opposition, the texts of the international meeting of the International Left Opposition in 1930, the 1933 Declaration of the 4 (OGI, SAP, RSP et OSP) and the 1935 Open Letter, the documents adopted by the 1936 conference, by the youth international conference in 1938, and by the 1940 conference.
Finally, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, known as Transitional Program, is not even a real program... if we refer to what Trotsky himself wrote:
It is not yet the program of the 4th International. The text contains neither the theoretical aspect, i.e. the analysis of the capitalist society and of its imperialist phase, nor the program of the socialist revolution itself… The true program of the 4th International should be worked out by a special subcommittee created by the conference. (Leon Trotsky, Letter to Rudolf Klement, 1938)
The 1940 Manifesto was better adapted to the new situation because he was presenting a program for the World War, linked with the historical program of the proletariat. Another of its strengths is to summarize the program in just a few words:
Our program is formulated in a series of documents accessible to everyone. One can summarize its substance in two words: dictatorship of the proletariat. (Imperialist war and world proletarian revolution, 1940)
To conceal their revision of the program and their opportunism, the « Trotskyists » have often quoted some parts of the 1938 Program; they almost never referred to the last policy document adopted by the 4th International with Trotsky still alive.
We agree on a crucial point: the 4th International is dead. Yet, in your letter, you point two problems which we think are misunderstadings. One problem is about a fragment of the charter of Permanent Revolution.
We do not understand well what you mean by the following sentence in the charter: “whatever will be its name, it will be the fifth Workers’ International.”
The Collective agrees with you that the best formulation is currently “revolutionary workers’ international” and not “5th International”, for at least two reasons: Trotsky was not satisfied by the name “4th International” (he advocated “World party of the socialist revolution”), the Collective claims that what will be the constituting parts of the revolutionary workers’ international is an open question.
The function of the remark in the Charter is to assert the legacy and the filiation of the Collective, as a way to differentiate from Anarchism, from Social-democracy and from Stalinism. Our main criticism to Workers Power (GB) and to the former LRCI is not that they to claim their wish to create a “5th International”, but that they regress to Cliffism and maintain confusion and opportunism when they pretend to found the new workers’ international on... the Social Forum!
Vast mobilisations against international financial institutions, continental counter-summits, Social Forums of scores of thousands, cross-border actions and joint days of action - all these have changed the shape of the class struggle. (L5I, Forward to the Fifth International! 2003)
The L5I turned completely ridiculous in explaining that the solution to the Basque issue is not a revolutionary party and soviets, but the Social Forum... presented as a new workers’ organization:
New organisations of the working class and anti-capitalist youth are necessary so that the national, democratic and social struggle scan be brought together. Such organisations are already being built across Europe, and within Spain, they are the social forums. (Fifth International n 2, p. 70)
a different label, the L5I is consonant with the Mandel-kind Pabloite 4th International. It shares a
vindication of a kind of Anti-Imperialist United Front, the “World Social
Forum”. It is a noisy and powerless coalition between the Castroist
bureaucracy, the reformist parties and unions from Latin America, Asia and
To all citizens of
Like the reformists, WP calls to “citizens” and claims that its main enemy s not in its own country. Here is what differentiates the Collective Permanent Revolution from the “Ligue for the 5th International”.
The prospect of a 5th International on the grounds of the WSF has just ended pitifully by the collapse of WP (GB) and of its international tendency. The Collective tries to discuss with the minority which tries to escape from this trap in the aim to help the militants to understand the roots of this failure ant to join the Bolsheviks.
The other problem you raise has to do with two fragments of the 2003 Call:
Incomprehensible for us is the Call formulation: "the regrouping of the healthy forces of the labour movement and particularly of those which assert the continuity of the Trotskyism and of 4th International is essential". We also find in the 21 theses a similar formulation: "We reaffirm the relevance of Leninism and Trotskyism, of the program of the 4th International which is the prolongation and actualization of that of the 3rd International of Lenin and Trotsky, this school of revolutionary strategy"
In a sense, the first sentence, which is in the preamble, is indeed wrong. For the Collective, there is no organizational continuation with the 4th International: it is dead as an international centre, and no section survived to the adoption of revisionist positions by its leadership Pablo-Mandel in 1951 and to the consequential break-up in 1952-1953.
Yet, we have nothing to oppose to the second sentence, from the point 16. The phrase “school of revolutionary strategy” is – for us still consistent – from Trotsky. “Leninism” and “Trotskyism” are vague terms; by the way, the current Collective claims to be precisely a follower of the “Ligue of the communists”, of the “Marx party” in the 1st International, of the left wing of the 2nd International, of the first four congresses and of the International Left Opposition of the 3rd International, and of the 4th International from 1933 to 1940 (2005 Charter). For us, the program of the 4th International includes the 1940 Manifesto as much as the Transitional Program.
The task is to build, on the basis of a communist theory, a platform that can assess current tasks and events.
You ask for a clarification:
The theses very often, and in an undifferentiated way, mention the crisis of capitalism. Which kind of crisis is it?
Together with that question, you wonder if the Collective acknowledges the development of productive forces.
However we do not find in any place an indication whether the productive forces kept on developing after 1945 – against Trotsky’s expectations – in the post-war imperialist conditions. Conversely it often evokes the crisis and a position is suggested: as Trotsky was considering in the Transitional Program, capitalism always goes towards its final crisis since the period between the wars, and it is absolutely unable to keep on developing the productive forces. We do not share that position, Trotsky’s expectation on that point proved to be wrong.
On that issue, you refer to texts in French:
An argument between the Groupe Bolchevik and the French group CRI awakened some of us’ attention.
Serious political discussions either set a programmatic foundation for a common work and a merging, or demonstrate to the vanguard that the centrists, due to their dependency with nationalistic trends or with the workers’ bureaucracies, refuse to work with the Bolsheviks. The GB France tried to merge with the CRI France on the basis of the 21 points. The latter refused, not on the “productive forces”, but because of its own business in unions, because of its links with the Stalinists and, in the last instance, with the bourgeois state.
Despite (or because of) its entirely petty-bourgeois composition, the CRI is a pretentious small group. Some students in History and in Philosophy, in one of the French “grandes écoles” (l’École normale supérieure), joined, in the late 90’s, the right wing of the French so-called “Trotskyist movement”, which is not known as attracting many young people searching the way to revolution. Within the CCI-PT, those young intellectuals never fought against reformism and social-patriotism, against the adaptation to the FO bureaucracy and against the connections with bourgeois parties, namely alliances with the MRC, not mentioning even more dubious relations (Alexandre Hébert, a founding member of the PT, gave an interview in a paper of the Front National). They broke with the CCI and with the PT on the right, with an academic argument on... the productive forces.
When it appeared on the political stage, the CRI took seemingly radical postures, on the left of the Lambertist motherhouse. It is the reason why the GB was extremely flexible with the CRI. In 2003, the GB invited the CRI at its 2nd conference, and it allowed that group, who had a narrowly national life, to keep in touch with the militants from LM Peru and from LOI Argentina, who were taking part to the conference.
But the CRI refused to work together with the GB on the catchword of united front in the movement against the reduction of retirement pensions (as in Austria and Germany at the same time), which started just after the conference, in May and June 2003. The CRI refused to sign the 21 points Call, with arguments from all kind of revisionisms, including postures from Burnham-Shachtman in the American section (against whom Trotsky had his last political fight). You isolate one aspect of the argument of the GB, which was a defence of the program against this centrist trend.
the international level, the CRI joined the Liaison Committee implemented by
the LOI against the Collective. It now has relations only with the POR (
explained Sneevliet’s centrism with the subsidies that the
For the Groupe Bolchevik, this explains why the CRI made an enthusiastic campaign, together with the PCF, for the vote No at the referendum in 2005; for the Collective, this explains the fantasy of the CRI for a development of the productive forces in “gigantic proportions”, as for the PCF, leading to the legend of an eternal youth of capitalism:
It is essential, for everyone who wants to progress in the construction of the Marxist party, to break definitively with the myths and the phantasms on the "decay of capitalism" (CRI, Contribution, 2003, 2.A.a)
Cell of the GB removed from the first point of the draft Call the following: “the
productive forces ceased to grow”. It replaced it with the point you approve
in your letter. The point
The predecessors of the CRI (Max Shachtman and Felix Morrow, Tony Cliff and Michael Kidron, Ernest Mandel and Henri Weber…) revised Marxism in one of its essential features.
The contradictions of use-value and exchange-value, commodity and money, capital and wage-labour, etc. assume ever greater dimensions as productive powers develop. (Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, 1861-1863, ch. 19)
If the relations of production are the relations between human beings for producing what they need (they are class relations since prehistoric time), and if productive forces are the relation of the humanity to the nature (the level of their development shows the possibility to satisfy the needs), they are themselve interrelated, since they are two components of the social work. Productive forces and relations of production of a social formation are neither separate nor arbitrary. They interact, sometimes in conjunction, in correspondence, sometimes in contradiction, in opposition.
In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. (Karl Marx, Preface, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859)
Before the capitalist rule on the world, who broke the traditional social relations which correspond to a weak level of development of the productive forces, brought the big industry into general use (allowing mass production) and implemented the world market (which for the first time related all parts of humanity), communism only could be utopia. Now communism is possible thanks to the development and the internationalization of productive forces allowed by capitalism.
Yet, for forces to develop until abundancy, for social needs to be satisfied, capitalist relations of production, which impede, reduce and destroy them periodically – through wars and economic crises – must be abandoned. The working class, a product of the capitalist rule, must lead the revolution, abolish the national boarders and open the communist perspective.
Both the productive forces created by the modern capitalist mode of production and the system of distribution of goods established by it have come into crying contradiction with that mode of production itself, and in fact to such a degree that, if the whole of modern society is not to perish, a revolution in the mode of production and distribution must take place, a revolution which will put an end to all class distinctions. (Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring, 1877, Part II)
The objective decay of capitalism announces the topicality of socialism:
Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, when certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres. (V. I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916, ch. 7)
Marxism is, in spite of the CRI (France) and its forerunners, is a theory of the decay of capitalism:
the political economy has for task and to explain the laws of the formation,
the development and the expansion of the capitalist mode of production, it
must, by an inescapable consequence, to reveal the laws of the decline of
capitalism. Because, just like the former economic forms, it
is not eternal, but represents only one momentary historical phase, a degree in
the infinite scale of the social evolution. The theory of the rise of
capitalism is transformed logically into theory of the decline of capitalism,
the science of the mode of production of the capital becomes the scientific
base of socialism, the theoretical means of domination of the bourgeoisie
becomes as a weapon of the revolutionary class fight for the emancipation of
the proletariat. (Rosa Luxemburg, Introduction to the political economy,
The task to achieve the revolution, to abolish the national boarders and to open the perspective of communsim, is to be implemented by a product of the domination of the capitalist mode of production, namely the working class.
You point Trotsky’s responsibility in the mistakes of the 4th International in the appreciation of the economy after the Second World War.
In all fields, it is very comfortable to show wisdom after the occurrence of events. As a general rule: It is not surprising that revolutionists are optimistic on the occurrence of a revolution, and pessimistic on the near future of capitalism. For symmetrical reasons, the opportunists are as much optimistic on the short and middle term future of capitalism. Marx and Engels waited for the economic crisis during all the 1850s. Lenin only accepted in December 1907 the backward of the 1905 revolution.
The forecasts of Engels are always optimistic. It is not rare that they precede the walk of the events. Can one conceive, however, a historical forecast which, according to the French expression, does not burn some intermediate stages? (Leon Trotsky, Diary of Exile, 1934-1935)
the communists, slogans are useful, as a summary of a political line, but no
slogan may replace the collective reflection, the development of an orientation
based on a clear sight of the economic and political conjoncture. Thus, some
organizations, including the Club-SLL-WRP (
The economic prerequisite for the proletarian revolution has already in general achieved the highest point of fruition that can be reached under capitalism. Mankind’s productive forces stagnate. (Leon Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, 1938, the French translation was even distorted in this aim)
The evil of dogmatism is that the leadership is neither able to move forwards when it is time to go on the offensive, nor able to retreat when it is time to defend. It can turn the organization into a sect, being tempted to take short cuts, being impatient with the events going too slow. In the mid-1970s, Gerry Healy became corrupt with Kadhafi and Hussein for funding his paper, and in the mid-1980s, Pierre Lambert turned the organization he was controlling into the service of the FO bureaucracy resulting from the Cold War. As a result, both parties disappeared.
knows how Trotsky would have analyzed the economic recovery and the long
expansion afterwards. What we are sure is that he did not have to conceal
tricks with an appearance of radicalism, like Lambert, Healy,
On the one hand, he acknowledged that the formulations of the Transitional Program on the capitalist economy were basic.
The first chapter is only a hint and not a complete expression. (Leon Trotsky, Discussions on the Transitional Program, 1938)
On the other hand, neither Lenin nor Trotsky thought that crises could not be overcome by capitalism, even if its survival is expensive for the masses.
We have now come to the question of the revolutionary crisis as the basis of our revolutionary action. And here we must first of all note two widespread errors. On the one hand, bourgeois economists depict this crisis simply as “unrest”, to use the elegant expression of the British. On the other hand, revolutionaries sometimes try to prove that the crisis is absolutely insoluble. This is a mistake. There is no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation. (V.I. Lenin, Report on the International Situation and the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International, 1920)
Will the bourgeoisie be able to secure for itself a new epoch of capitalist growth and power? Merely to deny such a possibility, counting on the “hopeless position” in which capitalism finds itself would be mere revolutionary verbiage. (Leon Trotsky, The Draft Program of the Communist International, in The Third International after Lenin, 1928)
As well as we must distinguish historical party and formal political organization, program of communism and formal political documents, we must distinguish the historical decline of capitalism (the structural crisis) and its frequent economic and financial crises (conjonctural crises), even if both merge during big economic crises (1929, 1973) and during world wars (1914, 1939).
The period a relative prosperity for capitalism from the late 1940s to the early 1970s was conditioned by the huge destruction of productive forces during the economic crisis and then the interimperialist war.
The end of the progressive role of the bourgeoisie has an ideological counterpart: the 18th century rationalism and the 19th scientism have gradually been replaced by pessimism and obscurantism. Its academics and politicians tend to degenerate in post-modernist philosophy and in neoclassical economics, to rejuvenate Malthusianism (through ecologism) and to retreat into religions (even in astrology for Reagan and Mitterrand).
True, capitalism enjoyed a historical retrieval, because of retreats and slaughters of the proletariat with fascism and war and, most of all, because of betrayals of the world revolutionary wave started in 1943 by the Kremlin bureaucracy, its international apparatus and social-democracy. It resulted into a new phase of accumulation of capital, including a real development of the productive forces, including the numerical and geographical increase of the proletariat. Yet the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production still exists, but on a higher level, as Trotskyists like Gérard Bloch, Cliff Slaughter, Stéphane Just or Tom Kemp demonstrated. In particular, the production and improvement of techniques has more and more corresponded to real destructive forces, the scientific research being more and more turned to military objectives and to the production of weapons on a large scale as Marx intuited it:
In the development of productive forces there comes a stage when productive forces and means of intercourse are brought into being, which, under the existing relationships, only cause mischief, and are no longer productive but destructive forces. (Karl Marx, The German Ideology, 1845, Part I)
During the period named afterwards “Golden Age” by the economists, the features of “putrefaction” (Lenin) of the beginning of the imperialist stage increased: underdevelopment, expenditure on weapons, unproductive social layers, advertisement, separation between shareholders and “managers”...
In accordance with Gérard Bloch, Shane Mage, Paul Mattick and Geoff Pilling’s analyses, the laws of the capitalist mode of production were still at work and they led to a new fall in the rate of profit as soon as the 1960s, and then to a world economic crisis in 1973.
Rate of profit in the
Source: Fred Moseley, Capital & Class, Spring 1999
international revolutionary wave during the 1960s-1970s was the social and
political expression of the world economic contradictions of the declining
capitalism. Such a revolutionary wave was again held by the old bureaucracies
of the workers’ movement, by the bourgeois nationalism in its classical way
(ANC South Africa...), and in a more and more reactionary way (Islamism in
of time obtained by the bourgeoisie allowed it to adapt its class domination,
whose precursors were Thatcher and Reagan, to a counter-offensive both inside
(defeat of the British miners’ strike and of the American air-traffic
controllers, dismantling of the European steel industry...) and outside
(support to the Islamists in Afghanistan, to the contras in Nicaragua, direct
American intervention in Granada, reconquest of the Falklands by the British
army, increasing military pressure on the USSR...). Because it was unable to
take the power, the proletariat saw its former conquests more and more destroyed
and the rate of exploitation increased. The capitalist class dismantled the
centres of resistance of the proletariat with privatizations, restructurings
and reductions in the size of the production sites (despite the increase of the
groups with fusions and acquisitions), relocations in the country (to the South
Source: Angus Maddison, L’Economie mondiale, OCDE, 2001
Despite the 1973 crisis, a new wave of revisionists promised a nice and long future to capitalism, mixing concepts from Capital with other ones from Walras, Kondratiev or/and Keynes: Regulation (Aglietta, Boyer...), Social Structure of Accumulation (Weisskopf, Bowles...), Analytical “Marxism” (Roemer, Wright, Elster...) and, for fifteen years, financial and neoliberal globalization (Negri, Chesnais, Duménil, Harvey, Desai...). Movements that are founded in the workers’ aristocracy and connected to the corrupt workers’ bureaucracies are full of illusions for a new long-lasting expansion that would allow them to practice their small business as usual: election campaigns, union ploys, support to the World Social Forum... They are wrong. The 1973 world crisis and the local crises since then, the proliferation of military interventions and the increase of imperialist rivalries since the 1990s announce that, if the proletariat does not grasp its next opportunities, if the contemporary communists prove unable to build real parties, the productive forces will be destroyed on a high scale in a big crisis or in a new large conflict.
true that the rate of profit increased during the 1980s and that some countries
restored capitalism. However, the relative (and sometimes absolute) decrease of
the value of the labour power restricts the prospects for capitalist commodities.
The overall computerization and the boom of telecommunications create new
vulnerability for the big capitalist groups (and for the armed forces). Invest
in means of transport, in machine tools, in robots, in computers, in
networks... corresponds to an increase in the share of constant capital and
contributes to the increase in the organic composition of capital. Besides, the
you do not take into acount the whole movement of capital, which is more contradictory
than ever, your one-sided focus on the development of productive forces might
be apologetic. In your fight for class independence and for permanent
you think that the Marxists’ task is to claim, as the Stalinists do, that
capitalism allows a wonderful “scientific and technical revolution” or
the increase, “in gigantic proportions” (CRI), of the productive forces?
Moreover, since 1973, except in
the “programmatic agreement”, we read that you judge
you mean that
The Cuban bureaucracy, economically squeezed since the dislocation of
reactionary counter-offensive, which started against the British proletariat,
which was victorious in GDR and in
are interested to know if you think that imperialism intends a neocolonial
strategy in general or – this is what we think – if it intends a policy of
colonial occupation in some strategic States, mainly around oilfields in Middle
East, in Caucasus and for military-strategic positions (
think that “imperialism” does not exist as such as a deciding core. Imperialism
is rather an imperialist stage or a stage of decline of capitalism in which the
most powerful branches of capital, namely the imperialist bourgeoisies, rely on
their state in order to exploit above their national boarders. In general,
those states agree for dominating any regime which threatens their collective
rule, but they also are rival – in a more or less
concealed way – for protecting their own bourgeoisie and their multinational
firms against the competition of other firms and against the wishes of other
powers. Beyond its recent targets (
imperialist state intends to definitely occupy a distant big country. The
American imperialism should content itself with having some military bases and
regimes under its will. Yet, the struggle between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie on the world scale, between ruling bourgeoisies and landlord
classes in ruled countries, between national branches of the imperialist bourgeoisie
can be mastered neither by any state, even the most powerful, nor by any
international body which arises from a deal between bourgeois states. The
Reformist bureaucracies, both in unions and in parties, support their own imperialism, since it feeds them.
starting point is that a reformist consciousness got deep-rooted in the working
class in the imperialist countries during the economic expansion. In some
The restoration of capitalism in the only country where the proletarait had the power contributed to bewilder the world proletariat. Most of the reformist parties, who never had the dicattorship of the proletariat as an objective (Labour and socialist parties), and of those who gave up for long (the former Stalinist parties) gave up any reference to socialism. Many former guerilla movements laid down arms. The organizations which were conspicuously revolutionary during the 1960s and the 1970s either disappeared or rapidly moved to right-wing centrism, closer and closer to reformism, especially in Europe. Working class consciouness has never been so low.
You present a “fact” which would be a “deep-rooted reformist consciousness”. But what do you mean by “reformist consciousness”? Is it similar to the racism you mention at the end of the same paragraph? If the reasons of this “reformist consciousness” are in the “economic expansion”, how this “reformist consciousness” could be “deep-rooted” whereas the workers have faced the economic slowdown and its consequences for years: end of the growth of the purchasing power, redundancy threats, intensification of labour, deskilling of the youth, precariousness?
If you mean that, alone with its spontaneity, the proletariat cannot reach, as a whole, the awareness of its historical interests, we agree with you. The Collective vigorously rejects the Pabloite “objectivism”, for which the revolution can succeed without the patient building of a party. The Morenoism, including its left-wing, the LOI Argentina, is a model of such a spontaneist idiocy, for which any mass movement has a revolutionary character and all the masses in movement, including petit-bourgeois ones, have a revolutionary consciousness.
The party is not the class. The communists must take seriously the strength of the capitalist class, which ideas are the ruling ideas, because they are instilled by the state machinery and by the religious apparatuses, they are spread by the large means of communication, themselves owned by large capitalist groups.
Any domination by a minority is socially organized in a manner which concentrates the dominant class, makes it suited to a unified action and, by the way, disorganizes and disperse the oppressed classes. (Georg Lukács, Lenin, 1924, ch. 5))
At the imperialist stage, the disorganization and the dispersion of the class consciousness relies more and more on the agents of the bourgeoisie who control the organizations formed by the working class in the previous period: mutual benefit societies, cooperatives, unions, parties... in a word “reformism”:
The cornerstone of reformism is the solidarity of the ‘reformist-socialists’ with the bourgeoisies of their ‘own’ countries. (Fourth Congress of the Communist International, Theses On The United Front, 1922, th. 7)
Whereas the reformists blame the masses for the responsibility of the defeats, the communists denounce the betrayal of the bureaucracies which currently control the workers’ organizations; whereas the centrists take reformism as mistakes, the communists judge it as the result of the corruption of the bureaucracies in the workers movement.
your demonstration, you take two countries,
The revolutionary regrouping of the proletariat will be carried out by the delimitation of a consequent class platform, fusions and splits. Such a development of the revolutionary party of the proletariat depends enormously on the own action of its most conscious elements… (Pierre Naville, Program of Action of the Communist League, 1934)
It is true that in contemporary France, Le Pen, the candidate of the Front national had 16.8 % of the votes in the first round of the presidential election, plus 2.3 % for his fascist rival Mégret of the MNR. Demagogue and xenophobic parties, like the FN or the FPÖ, succeed in searching scapegoats for the problems of the national economy. They use the demoralization of the petit-bourgeois classes and, in a lesser extent, of some workers and employees confronted with the unability of the governments implemented by the reformists to improve their situation.
true that some workers are infected by racism. However, three years after, many
pupils, teachers and parents were mobilized in defence of foreign pupils and
students “sans papiers”, that is without stay authorization. For instance, in
immediately beginning on the way of active defence, the Austrian proletariat,
supported by that of all the countries of Europe, could, by developing its
offensive in a consequent and courageous way, to tear off the capacity of the
hands of its enemies: the ratio of the forces inside guarantees its victory.
But after having contained its troops in 1927 and 1929, the SPÖ kept its faith in the bourgeois democracy, in the so-called democrat bourgeois politicians. Was the deep-rooted reformist consciouness in the minds of the working class responsible? Or, despite the intentions of conscious workers, was it a criminal policy by the bureaucracy of the reformist party, corrupt by the parliamentarism, by the bourgeois state, by the capitalism?
the Italian and the German proletariats were defeated without a fight, the
artillery was necessary to defeat the spontaneous resistance of the workers of
recently, weren’t there strikes in
Whereas you do not show the practical consequences that you draw from the theory of the “deep-rooted reformist consciousness”, you wonder about the implementation of the program in the early 21st century: on the Anti-Imperialist United Front, on the Constituent Assembly in Bolivia, on the revolutionary social forces in Palestine, on the activism in unions.
Within the unions, we fight for a revolutionary fraction in order to give them both a revolutionary leadership and a revolutionary program. We rely on the method of Minority movement in the British unions at Lenin times. Do you see it that way?
We agree with such a perspective. As far as we could, we have practiced that way
in the recent years, everywhere it was possible (SUTEP in
The sections of the Fourth International should always strive not only to renew the top leadership of the trade unions, boldly and resolutely in critical moments advancing new militant leaders in place of routine functionaries and careerists, but also to create in all possible instances independent militant organizations corresponding more closely to the tasks of mass struggle against bourgeois society; and, if necessary, not flinching even in the face of a direct break with the conservative apparatus of the trade unions. (The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International)
For the unions and for the construction of the party, which political and organizational conclusions do you draw from the “deep-rooted reformist consciouness in the minds of the working class”? How to “take into consideration” those “objective facts, for revolutionaries”? We only know two ways, none of which leads to a “workers’ policy”: either we build a club, a society only devoted to study and propaganda, in the wait for better days, or we turn to a “large” party which corresponds to the workers’ backwardness, whether it is an incumbent reformist or nationalist party, or we participate to its creation.
On the one hand, in focusing on the development of the productive forces at a time when it slows down, and in discovering in the early 21st century a “reformist consciouness” resulting from the “economic expansion” corresponding to the bygone post-war years, you seem to be a period late. On the other hand, you praise the “method” of the Transitional Program, but you do not see that it is devoted to answer a problem that you raise in a separate way.
bet on the unavoidable fight between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and
they work, in the most difficult circumstances, for the construction of the
necessary party. Actually, this is what you do in practice: if no Austrian
worker is interested in class struggle, in revolution and in communism, why
discussing with Bolshevik cores in other countries, why having arguments with
centrists in your own state about a distant Spanish-speaking country, why
publishing a paper, why constituting a “group for a workers’ revolutionary
As dialecticians, you have to expect contradictions, sudden reversals; communists know that the workers’ consciousness is differentiated and uneven.
The victory is not at all the ripe fruit of the "maturity" of the proletariat. The victory is a strategic task. It is necessary to use the favourable conditions of a revolutionary crisis in order to mobilize the masses; by taking as starting point the level given of their "maturity", it is necessary to push them to go ahead, to learn them to realize that the enemy is absolutely not omnipotent, that it is torn of contradictions, who panic reigns behind his imposing frontage. If the Bolshevik Party had not succeeded in concluding its work, one could not even speak about proletarian revolution. The Soviets would have been crushed by the counter-revolution, and the small wise advisers of all the countries would have written articles or books whose leitmotiv would have been that only unrepentant visionaries could dream in Russia of the dictatorship of a so weak proletariat numerically and if not very ripe. (Leon Trotsky, Class, party and direction: why the Spanish proletariat was overcome? 1939)
Our 2003 document has many flaws. In any case, if it does not “take into consideration” the backwardness of the workers, it is in good company. Few political documents do it. For instance, the Communist Manifesto does not really blame the workers who go to religious ceremonies, who make their children work or who drink too much alcohol. In your letter, you praise the Transitional Program, but it seems that you pay no attention to the advices given by Trotsky to his comrades of the American section, the SWP:
The program must express the objective tasks of the working class rather than their political backwardness. (Leon Trotsky, Discussions on the Transitional Program, 1938)
All is the leadership, the construction of a new party and of a new International.
The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership. (The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International)
are perfectly right to note that a correct position on
We must promote a "united front" with the students’ organisations and peasants ones. (Leon Trotsky, Discussions on China, 1935)
On the world scale, the accumulation of capital leads to raise the main contradiction of our period to a higher level, more capital against more proletariat. On the world scale, one of the most important consequences is the numerical lowering of the traditional petite-bourgeoisie (especially the peasants), and the numerical strenghtening of the working class (workers, employees, technicians...). In advanced countries, the need for exploitation and for social cohesion, as well as the pressures by intermediate layers and by the working class for instruction and for qualification lead to a new situation: most of the youth gets educated instead of being immediately exploited.
However, in the early 21st century, the social forms bear marks of the decline of capitalism: huge reserve army of the economy (unemployed) and decline of the industrial workforce in the imperiailst countries, proliferation of professionals in repression bodies (army, police, prison officers, private militias...) and of some petit-bourgeois layers (liberal professions and mainly executives in advances countries, independent workers in cities of countries under domination).
The artificial preservation of antiquated petty-bourgeois strata in no way mitigates the social contradictions, but, on the contrary, invests them with a special malignancy, and together with the permanent army of the unemployed constitutes the most malevolent expression of the decay of capitalism. (Leon Trotsky, Ninety Years of the Communist Manifesto, 1937)
communists must find catchwords to answer that situation: Popular and workers’
We think that it is absolutely necessary to add that we advocate full rights for Israeli-Jewish workers and that Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian workers must fight together against their reactionary regimes and against the world imperialism.
Unless translation problem, such a symmetry between Palestinian and Jewish workers who are supposed to fight against their respective reactionary regime is false. The ones have all rights, the others have none. It leads to the solution of the “two States” proposed by the UN and the imperialist powers.
Collective admits that transitional, or even democratic, catchwords, will have
a function in the mobilization of the masses under the leadership of the
proletariat. That is precisely the reason why we do not put on the same plan an
oppressive state (
The Permanent Revolution Collective upholds that only the unity of the workers of all the area around the oppressed Palestinians in Israel, the Territories and the refugee camps will open the possibility of a Palestine as well for the Jews as the Arabs, secular, democratic and socialist, who will be viable only within the Socialist Federation of the Middle East. (Release the militants of the FPLP! 2006)
Collective rejects all adaptation to the imperialist bourgeoisies and to their
UN, which leads to the justification of the colonial state of
us, the issue of the constituent assembly corresponds to the issue of the
working class consciousnness. We naturally reject it as a strategy but in some
situations we think that it is good and necessary as a tactics. You rejected it
Reformists and centrists often recall that Luxemburg criticized the dissolution of the National Assembly by the Bolshevik Party in 1917. What they forget is that, soon before her assassination by the social-democrat government, as she faced the democratic slipknot gripped by the leaders of the SPD around the neck of the German proletariat and of the Workers’ Councils, she wrote the following in 1918:
The French National Assembly is an out of date heritage of the bourgeois revolutions, an empty thimble, a residue of the time of the middle-class illusions on the "single people", on "freedom, equality, fraternity" of the bourgeois state. Who, today, resort the national assembly, that one wants, consciously or unconsciously, to bring back the revolution until the historical stage of the bourgeois revolutions; it is a camouflaged agent of the bourgeoisie… (Rosa Luxemburg, The National Assembly, 1918)
The temporary catchword of a Constituent or a National Assembly is meaningful only when the masses, especially the majority of the petit-bourgeoisie, are denied the right to influence the official policy, by a foreign oppressor, or by domestic authoritarian regime.
slogan for a National (or Constituent) Assembly preserves its full force for
such countries as
Socialism does not result from the bourgeois democracy, as Ted Grant and Peter Taaffe wrote, but from the power of the soviets.
At a certain stage in the mobilization of the masses under the slogans of revolutionary democracy, soviets can and should arise. Their historical role in each given period, particularly their relation to the National Assembly, will be determined by the political level of the proletariat, the bond between them and the peasantry, and the character of the proletarian party policies. Sooner or later, the soviets should overthrow bourgeois democracy. Only they are capable of bringing the democratic revolution to a conclusion and likewise opening an era of socialist revolution. (Leon Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International)
« Trotskyists » follow the bourgeois and reformist nationalists, who
turn democratic catchwords, which only can be conjunctural, into slipknots
around the proletariat like in
Evo Morales election victory results from Bolivian popular mobilizations for the nationalization of hydrocarbons and of natural resources, for the defence and the industrialization of the production of coca leaves, for a sovereign economic policy to the US and European imperialisms, for a democratic society founded by a new Constituent Assembly. (LCR, Communiqué, 2005 December 19th)
PT France, a social-chauvinist sect which does not defend the right to entry
for immigrant workers, which launched a campaign with the MRC against the
European Constitution, favours the Constituent Assembly, in
the same, the SWP (
MAS must now convert its proposals into reality, promoting growth and keeping its promises — nationalisation of the country’s vast hydrocarbon reserves, land reform, the elimination of corruption, increased investment in education and culture, and the organisation of a constituent assembly, planned for August 2006. (Socialist Worker, 7 January 2006)
A Constitutional Assembly can be a powerful tool in sweeping away privileges, corruption, an undemocratic constitution and so on. (Workers Power, May 2006)
The LCR and the PT, the SWP and the WP give so many advantages to a simple change in the appearance of the bourgeois state! In a country where the democratic rights have been recovered since 1982, where the masses drove an elected president away and attempted to organize Soviet organs, the Constituent Assembly is nothing else than an attempt by the bourgeois government to create a diversion.
true that the Collective rejected the catchword for a Constituent Assembly in
The party must remember that, compared to its principal objective (the conquest of the capacity weapons to the hand), the democratic watchwords are only one secondary, provisional, momentary, episodical. (Leon Trotsky, The Chinese Question after the 6th congress of the Communist International, 1928)
the formulae of democracy (freedom of press, the right to unionize, etc.) mean
for us only incidental or episodic slogans in the independent movement of the
proletariat and not a democratic noose fastened to the neck of the proletariat
by the bourgeoisie’s agents (
capitulation of the “Trotskyites” on the Constitutional Assembly in
We find it curious that, whereas you insist on the necessity to amend the outmoded character of the 1938 formula on the productive forces, you show respect for a formula dating at least from 1922. It proved to be outmoded even at the time of the 3rd International, and it has been used to conceal the worst mistakes of the “Troskyists” afterwards. It was also effective in the destruction of the 4th International.
share your opinion that, with reference to the Lenin’s Anti-Imperialist United
Front tactics, the 4th International and its epigons made many
unprincipled alliances with national bourgeois parties in the imperialist
world. However, this does not prove for us that this tactics is absolutely
wrong. We found no passage, after
The 3rd International was unsure on the strategy in backward countries, especially on class alliances; this was discussed during the 2nd Congress of the 3rd International (1920), during the 1st Congress of the Peoples of the Orient (1920) and during the 4th Congress of the 3rd International (1922), resulting into the slogan “Anti-Imperialist United Front”.
the revolutionary character of the popular movement in colonies and in other
dominated countries, under Lenin’s insistence, the 3rd International
spreads the victorious strategy of the Bolshevik Party in
It is particularly significant to support the peasants movement of the backward countries against the small landed proprietors, against the large landed property, against all the expressions or survivals of feudalism. It is necessary to try to give the peasants movement the most revolutionary character, while linking everywhere where that is possible the peasants and all exploited in Soviets, and consequently carrying out the narrowest possible union between the communist proletariat of Western Europe and the revolutionary movement of the peasants in the East… (Theses on the National and Colonial Questions, 2nd CI Congress, 1920)
the question of the orientation within the dominated countries is still
open. In the debates in the 3rd International, Lenin defends a
different strategy than the one he advocated more and more clearly in
We have here a lot of representatives of the revolutionary movement of the advanced capitalist countries and backward countries too. It is only one small beginning, but it is a beginning. Union of the revolutionary proletarians of the advanced capitalist countries with the revolutionary masses of the countries where there is not or almost not proletariat… (Vladimir Lenin, Report on the World Situation and Tasks of the CI, 2nd congress of the IC, 1920)
Lenin’s conclusion is the necessity of an alliance with the national bourgeoisie.
The Communist International must conclude a temporary alliance with the bourgeois democrats of the colonies and the backward countries… (Vladimir Lenin, Outline of theses on the national question, 1920)
clashes with Manabendra Nath Roy (
The gap in the colonial countries between the bourgeois democratic movement led by the bourgeoisie and the movement of the workers and poor peasants worsens unceasingly. The former tries to control the later. The CI must oppose to this control…
outcome of the debate is rather confused. Some of the most doubtful parts in
Lenin’s project for theses are mitigated. As a result, they are unanimously
adopted by the 2nd Congress, together with the “complementary
Between the 3rd and the 4th Congress, the KPD and the leadership of the 3rd International adopted the “workers’ united front” tactics on the basis of the German experience (and of the Russian Revolution). By definition, the workers’ united front rejects any alliance with the bourgeoisie:
The precise task of the CI and its sections will be to reveal to the masses the hypocrisy of the workers leaders who prefer the union with the bourgeoisie… By unity of the proletarian front, it is necessary to understand the unity of all the workers wishing to fight capitalism… (Thesis on the Unity of the Proletarian Front, 1922)
Congress adopts ambiguous theses for countries under domination. Together with
all kinds of correct claims, it is asserted the bourgeoisie may play a
progressive role in
The fundamental task, commune with all the national revolutionary movements, consists in carrying out the national unity and the political autonomy. The real and logical solution of this task depends on the importance of the working masses that any national movement will be able to involve in its course, after having broken all relations with the feudal elements and reactionaries… Just as the slogan of the proletarian united front has contributed and still contributes in Occident to uncover the treason, by the social democrats, of the interests of the proletariat, the slogan of the anti-imperialist united front wiill contribute to uncover the hesitations and uncertainties of the various groups of bourgeois nationalism. (General Theses on the Orient Question, 1922)
If the Anti-Imperialist United Front in backward countries corresponds to the workers’ united front in the advanced countries and if the superior form of the workers’ united front (as Trotsky said later) is the Soviet, what is the superior form of the Anti-Imperialist United Front?
The Anti-Imperialist United Front is the proposal by the communsit parties for a political coalition with the bourgeois nationalism in dominated countries. The reporter of the Commission on the issue of Orient, Karl Radek, addresses explicitly the 4th Congress:
Congress had decided to support the bourgeois nationalist movement in the
colonies: it was a right decision and it is necessary to continue to conform to
it, in spite of the "treason" of Kemal
crushing of the proletarian revolution in
1922, there has been a revolution and a counter-revolution in
There was the Russian Revolution. It is a test. Then the Chinese Revolution - it is by there that we started. (Leon Trotsky, Discussion on a possible fusion with Lovestonists, 1938)
When Stalin and Boukharin made up the “socialism in one country”, when they forgot Lenin’s advices and betrayed the guarantees of the first four congresses of the 3rd International, when they regressed back to Menchevism and fell into the alliance with the Guomindang, Trotsky often warned against the submission to the nationalist leadership, asked for leaving the Guomindang and for breaking up with the Anti-Imperialist Alliance, and he drew essential lessons, which are crucial for the drama of the Chinese revolution.
The Chinese revolution has a bourgeois national content… Whatever the relative importance of the "feudal" elements, they can be swept only by the revolutionary way, so by the fight against the bourgeoisie and not in alliance with it. (Leon Trotsky, the Chinese Revolution and theses of Stalin, 1927)
If you agree with that, what is left from the “Anti-Imperialist United Front”?
Each decision of the 3rd International was not infallible. The first four congresses were insufficiently focused on the democracy within the party, on fascism, on the analysis of the capitalist economy, on class alliances in countries under domination... The revolutionary executives had to rapidly grasp problems for which Marx and Engels gave no precise direction. 80 years after, you should consider the Anti-Imperialist United Front as a confused, anachronous and dangerous slogan, as it testifies a past stage of our history, but certainly not as a catchchword for now.
As with the policy documents from 1930 to 1940 which were adopted by the 4th International, the way the Collective refers to the first four congresses of the 3rd Internaional concerns its basic strategy, not every sentence, and not the tactics of the Anti-Imperialist United Front which history proved wrong.
Equally formalistic is your statement that you find unacceptable the statutes of the French Ligue communiste which solidarize with the first four congresses of the CI. In all likehood, there is not French comrade who holds that everything in the decisions of the first four congresses is infallible and immutable. It is for them a question of the basic strategic line. (Leon Trotsky, To the Editorial Board of “Prometeo”, 1930)
what the 3rd International experimented in the countries under
domination, the Left Opposition extended and systematized the strategy of
the Permanent Revolution, which was conceived by Trotsky for the tsarist
Russia, and entirely established by 1917. Even if the renouncement to the wrong
theses of the 3rd International is not explicit, for evident
reasons, at a time when the Stalinists slander the Bolsheviks-Leninists and set
Trotsky against Lenin, the Left Opposition never refer to the Anti-Imperialist
United Front. For every careful reader, it is clear that Trotsky has dropped
it. The Groupe Bolchevik
asked the POR (
Trotsky, in 1931, established against Radek, which has just rallied the bureaucracy of the Kremlin, that the strategy of the Bolsheviks before 1917 was outdated. However, this stategy was opposed to alliance with the liberal or democratic bourgeoisie (recommended by the Mensheviks):
Lenin raised the question of an alliance of the workers and peasants irreconcilably opposed to the liberal bourgeoisie. (Leon Trotsky, Permanent Revolution, 1931, ch. 3)
If Permanent Revolution supplants the "dictatorship democratic of the proletariat and the farmers", a fortiori it makes null and void the Anti-Imperialist United Front which means an alliance with the bourgeoisie.
The Communist International repeated the experience of the old revolutions in a new historical situation by doing everything it could to subject the Chinese workers and peasants to the political leadership of the national liberal Chiang Kai-shek and later of the ‘democrat’ Wang Ching-wei… Radek has simply overlooked this. That is why he leads us not only back from the formula of the permanent revolution, but also back from Lenin’s ‘democratic dictatorship’—into an empty historical abstraction. (Leon Trotsky, Permanent Revolution, 1931, ch. 3)
One of the most decisive contributions of Trotsky is that, in our period of capitalist decay, the working class must lead every revolution, even in backward countries where it is socially a minority.
Not only the agrarian, but also the national question assigns to the peasantry—the overwhelming majority of the population in backward countries—an exceptional place in the democratic revolution. Without an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry the tasks of the democratic revolution cannot be solved, nor even seriously posed. But the alliance of these two classes can be realized in no other way than through an irreconcilable struggle against the influence of the national-liberal bourgeoisie. (Leon Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, 1931)
The 4th International clearly advises an alliance of wage earners with the independent workers and with youth in formation, under the rule of the proletariat.
It is necessary to distinguish the united front from common actions… A common action, in particular a short-term action, is a thing. But the capitulation in front of the bourgeoisie, a plain permanent front as the French Popular Front is another thing. It is completely different… We must promote a united front with the peasants organisations ant students organisations. (Leon Trotsky, Discussions on China, 1935)
1927, Radek advocated the membership of the CCP in the Guomindang and he kept
justifying afterwards. From 1934, the leadership of the 3rd
International and the Communist Parties in the imperialist countries fell into
patriotism, equalizing Stalinism and social-democracy and proving the analysis
of the 1933 Left Opposition right: the 3rd International is dead as
a revolutionary organization. The bureaucracy of the
The 1938 program not only brought transitional demands. Beyond, it disproves the Popular Front for backward countries (so the Anti-Imperialist United Front) as well as for advanced countries, and it updates and improves the strategy of the world revolution in including the issue of the degenerate workers’ state (political revolution) and in clarifying the class character of the revolution in backward countries (permanent revolution).
The relative weight of the individual democratic and transitional demands in the proletariat’s struggle, their mutual ties and their order of presentation, is determined by the peculiarities and specific conditions of each backward country and to a considerable extent by the degree of its backwardness. Nevertheless, the general trend of revolutionary development in all backward countries can be determined by the formula of the permanent revolution. (Leon Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International)
All the same, the 1940 Manifesto rejects Radek’s Anti-Imperialist United Front and any political coalition with the bourgeoisie:
The fight for the national independence of the colonies is, from the point of view of the revolutionary proletariat, a transitory stage on the road which will plunge the backward countries into the international socialist revolution. The 4th International does not draw up a wall between backward countries and advanced ones, between democratic and socialist revolutions. It combines them and subordinates them to the world struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors. Just as the only authentically revolutionary force of our time is the international proletariat, in the same way the only true program for the liquidation of any oppression, social or national, is that of the permanent revolution. (Leon Trotsky, The Imperialist War and the World Proletarian Revolution, 1940)
In 1951, at the 3rd Congress, the leadership of the 4th International itself revised the program. It turned to the liquidation of the International: the International Secretariat proceeded to the expulsion in 1952 of the French section, which opposed its deviations before the 3rd Congress, in 1953 to support of the pro-Stalinist factions in the British and the American sections.
The Pablo-Mandel-Maitan-Frank-Posadas International Secretariat
considered that the Stalinist bureaucracy, or at least a crucial part of it,
was able to change and to adopt “Trotskyism”, and therefore it was useless to
build Bolshevik-kind workers’ revolutionary parties. In countries where the
bureaucracy had stolen the power of the working class (
At the 3rd Congress of the 4th International in 1951, its leaders Pablo and Mandel regressed into the “Anti-Imperialist United Front”, that is the alliance with sectors of the national bourgeoisie, against the strategy of the permanent revolution, which was the explicit programmatic basis of the Bolshevik-Leninist International. As Pablo could not openly act at that stage, he mixed –in a hesitant or concealed way– orthodox sentences with an orientation that led him to become the advicer of an Algerian bourgeois government. Such was the operation at the time:
1. Pablo called for temporary alliances with anti-imperialist movements of the petite-bourgeoisie, which is actually possible, even necessary, in certain circumstances.
The proletariat and its party could be brought to lead momentary alliances with one or another such movement of the petty bourgeoisie for limited and precise goals of common action. (Resolution on the Latin America, 1951)
2. Then he fraudulently presented bourgeois nationalist movements (APRA, MNR) as petit-bourgeois.
Which distinguishes us from the past, which makes the quality of our current movement and which constitutes the surest pledge of our future victories, is our increasing capacity to understand, to appreciate the movement of the masses such as it exists… and to seek to find our place in this movement… It is the case for example in Latin America where the mass anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movement often takes confused forms, under a petty bourgeois leadership, as in Peru with the APRA, as in Bolivia with the MNR, or even bourgeois as in Brazil with Vargas, as in Argentina with Perón. (Michel Pablo, Report to the 3rd Congress, 1951)
3. This allowed the introduction, eleven years after the murder of Trotsky, of the alliance with the bourgeoisie, the Popular Front against which the 4th International was founded, under the more acceptable banner of “anti-imperialist unted front”.
One of the weakest points of the International Committee of the 4th
International, the fraction founded in 1953 by the sections which resisted
Pabloism (China, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, USA), was its unability to
question this 1951 revision and to draw lessons from its application in Bolivia
in 1952. Actually, under the leadership of Pierre Lambert, the PCI adopted it
with nationalist movement in Algeria (MNA) in the second half of the 1950s. And,
under the leadership of Gerry Healey, the WRP applied it with the bourgeois
nationalist regimes in the
such a smuggling introduction of the Popular Front under the
hypocritical label of Anti-Imperialist United Front was used to conceal real
betrayals of the proletariat under the banner of the 4th
Pablo and Mandel’s line went beyond “temporary alliances for limited and
precise goals”, both in the object and in time, and it rapidly extended to
nationalisms that were judged bourgeois by the cautious 1951 resolution, like
the “Justicialist” movement in
Two POR delegates make a self-criticism: the direction of our party was against the slogan of anti-imperialist united front … (Declaration of the Argentinean POR at the Latin-American Commission, 1951)
the inspiration of the Congress, the POR got disciplined under the banner of
the bourgeois nationalism of general Perón. During his entire career,
1953 general strike in
A Bolivian government which
will obey the will of the Bolivians and not of the Yanks… The petty bourgeois
government, owing to the force of political circumstances, has the possibility
of being transformed and changed into a phase of the Workers and Peasants
government (Lucha Obrera, POR, May 25, 1952, quoted
by José Villa,
The POR will support the left wing of the MNR in its fights against the line of the party… (Lucha Obrera, November 11, 1952)
The working class must actively intervene in the formation of the new government. (Lucha Obrera, November 11, 1952)
The whole fight is centred on the slogan: control total of the state by the left wing of the MNR. (POR, June 23, 1953)
Therefore, thanks to the MNR, to its left wing and to the POR, the Bolivian bourgeoisie could control the situation, rebuild its army and reestablish the order. The POR split from 1953 to 1956, some of its executives joined the MNR. In 1971, the remainder of the POR bet on generals to arm the proletariat. After the working class was crushed, Guillermo Lora, the hopelessly defender of the Anti-Imperialist United Front, entered a political coalition with the Stalinists and the bourgeois nationalists who opposed the Banzer dictatorship, a true Popular Front.
In 1956, the POR Peru supported, together with the Stalinist party, the candidacy of Belaúnde by the National front of young democrats, who founded the bourgeois party Acción popular. He will be president twice. As far as the POR was concerned, it became a Castroist follower of the peasant guerilla, under the name of FIR. In 1985, the fellow organization of the LCR dissolved in the PUM, who called for voting the reactionary Fujimori in 1990.
alliance with the bourgeoisies in Asia advocated by Lenin in the 2nd
Congress of the 3rd International in 1920 for the countries without
a real working class, which was named “Anti-Imperialist United Front” in 1922
by Radek, proved to be a historical dead end: the bourgeoisies in countries
under domination have no more revolutionary function than the bourgeoisie had
in Russia in 1905 and in 1917. Besides the development of the productive forces
that you evoke numerically strengthened the proletariat in many former colonies
Nahuel Moreno finally questioned the permanent revolution, like late Tony Cliff
did before. In practice, the Cliffist SWP supported, more than once, the Muslim
reaction in countries under domination. In its country, it takes part to a
petit-bourgeois nationalist party (SSP) in
The adoption by the LRCI of the “Anti-Imperialist United Front” led WP and its L5I to flatter he Social Forum, like the SWP and its TSI, and to make pressure on the ruling Popular Front in Brazil:
The Brazilian working class, poor landless peasants and small farmers must be welded into an unstoppable power to force the Lula government off the path of enslavement to the IMF and its domestic backers and onto the road of confrontation with Brazilian capitalism. (Fifth International n 2, p. 91)
The L5I ridiculously wishes that the government PT-PSDB-PDT-PRB will “confront capitalism”.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is candidate for his own succession… Mr. Lula da Silva will be accompanied by the same vice-president, José Alencar, of the Brazilian Republican Party, been dependent on the Evangelists. (Le Monde, June 26, 2006)
For the L5I, the perspective for the working class is to pressurize a bourgeois government, like for the GR, the POUM, the LSSP, the MIR and many others. The counterfeit 4th International has now a minister within the Lula-Alencar government. At the test of the Popular Front, the L5I proves to be a variation on centrism and revisionism. Its line of a “fighting Popular Front” (Marceau–Pivert) is contradictory with the program, which advocates the break up with the bourgeoisie.
The central task of the Fourth International consists in freeing the proletariat from the old leadership, whose conservatism is in complete contradiction to the catastrophic eruptions of disintegrating capitalism and represents the chief obstacle to historical progress. The chief accusation which the Fourth International advances against the traditional organizations of the proletariat is the fact that they do not wish to tear themselves away from the political semi-corpse of the bourgeoisie… Of all parties and organizations which base themselves on the workers and peasants and speak in their name, we demand that they break politically from the bourgeoisie and enter upon the road of struggle for the workers’ and farmers’ government. On this road we promise them full support against capitalist reaction. At the same time, we indefatigably develop agitation around those transitional demands which should in our opinion form the program of the “workers’ and farmers’ government.”(Leon Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, 1938)
of the GRA, if you are faithful to the program, if you reject the Popular
Front, put an end to the legacy of liquidators of the 4th
International, to the use of a catchword that justifies coalitions with the
bourgeoisie! The proletariat from
We see, as the main objective of a flexible international movement, the gradual construction of policy documents, as the basis for an increasing political homogeneization. Current resolutions and common policies would be second-handed. For us, a small group which was recently created, this means that, in the international discussion with you, we want to clarify programmatic issues, and that we would draw up political resolutions on the basis of some political agreement.
You have a positive attitude. However, your opposition between “policy documents” and “current and political resolutions” is formalist and artificial.
A platform or a program is something that comes as a result of extensive experiences from joint activities on the basis of a certain number of common ideas and methods. (Leon Trotsky, To the Editorial Board of “Prometeo”, 1930)
documents are not reducible to history and theory. It is true that they refer
to history and theory, but in order to draw lessons from current and recent
issues in the world class struggle, in order to formalize the agreement on
today events and tasks. Besides, the GRA gets currently differentiated with the
Grantists and with other opportunistic pseudo-Trotskyite movements on a current
political problem, the class struggle in
What is the party? In what does the cohesion consist? This cohesion is a common understanding of the events, of the tasks, and this common understanding-that is the program of the party. (Léon Trotsky, Discussions on the Transitional Program, 1938)
We frankly replied your letter. As a summary:
1. The program is a common attitude of the revolutionaries on the main issues in the world class struggle.
2. The current period is the period of decay of the capitalist mode of production, which can include stages of expansion. The world socialist revolution is necessary for the development of humanity, which is impeded by the capitalist relations of production and by outdated boarders.
3. Since the bourgeoisie completed its revolutionary function for long, the program of the communists in the 21st century must reject the anti-imperialist united front and any perspective of alliance with that class, in accordance with the lessons of the class struggle for one century.
4. The main barrier to the socialist revolution is in the current leadership of masses, not in the subjective backwardness of classes. The task for the communists is to build a new leadership.
5. Democratic demands are sometimes useful, transitional demands are essential, but the objective is to take the power, they are subjected to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
If you agree with those points, our approaches are close enough for working in a common international framework, towards the construction of a revolutionary workers’ international. Both of us have an important responsibility after a period of objective and subjective retreat.
restoration of capitalism in
Despite linguistic barriers, the Collective is ready to meet you, as you propose, soon and where you would like to, for discussing the following texts:
• The Theses of the GRA on the 4th International,
• The Manifesto by the Collective for
• The letter of the GRA to the Collective,
• The above answer by the Political Board.
Besides, we propose that:
a) The leadership of the GRA prepares with the Political Board of the Collective the next statements on the main international events;
b) The groups in the Collective are invited to the next conference of the GRA and the groups in the Collective invite the GRA to their conference;
c) The Theses on the International are
a basis for a six months open discussion, so that each group (
that way, we will satisfy the conditions for a participation of the
Though our forces are small, whether the GRA joins the Collective would be a long stride both for the Collective and for the GRA.
The Political Bureau of the Collective