CRP en el Perú
Dear Comrades of the Groupe Bolchevik,
In view of the upcoming presidential elections in France, we have read with interest your statement of March 31, "Aux élections présidentielle et législatives, vote contre les candidats des partis bourgeois," as well as your statement of January 21, "Aux élections comme dans la rue : classe contre classe ! Pour se débarrasser de Sarkozy et de Le Pen, il faut rompre avec la bourgeoisie et ouvrir la voie du gouvernement ouvrier et du socialisme." We would like to raise some comments and questions with regard to your position on the election.
We have also read the recent document of the Groupe CRI, "Sur la nature du Parti Socialiste," in which they explain in some detail their position that the PS is now a purely bourgeois party and no longer a bourgeois workers' party. In this connection, we have also read your document of February 2004, "Réponse au Groupe CRI," in which you reply to some of their earlier arguments about the nature of the PS.
Of course, if the PS is no longer any kind of workers' party, it is impossible to call for a vote for the PS. But even though we are willing to consider the possibility that the PS (and other similar parties that were founded as workers' parties) are no longer parties of our class, we are not convinced by the arguments of the CRI, nor by the explanations of other organizations which have similar positions. Therefore we retain the position that the PS remains a bourgeois workers' party, which means that it is possible to consider the tactic of giving critical support to the PS in this election.
But we disagree with your decision, even though you say that you do not support any candidacy, to call on workers who want to vote "to choose, on the first round, a candidate from an organization issued from the working class (PS, PCF, LCR, LO) against all the bourgeois candidates." Likewise we disagree with your conclusion that "if a candidate of a workers' organization remains in the second round, the Groupe Bolchevik calls for voting for him/her, or for abstaining."
As you point out in your January 21 statement, most of the votes that will be cast for workers' organizations will go to the PS rather than to the PCF or to the smaller centrist groups, for reasons of "electoral effectiveness." The PS is the only workers' party that has any chance of reaching the second round of the presidential election. Therefore it seems to us that your position, despite your disclaimer, amounts to a position of critical support for Royal and the Parti Socialiste.
Even though you correctly regard the PS and the PCF as counter-revolutionary, you argue (January 21):
"However, the workers turn periodically towards these parties, just as they try to make use of the trade unions despite the corruption of the ruling apparatuses. They do this because they do not have at their disposal any superior form of organization, that is, workers' councils and a revolutionary workers' party. Therefore the proletariat and part of the youth will try to utilize the vote to achieve what their union leaders, the PS, the PCF and their adjuncts in LO and the LCR have prevented them from doing through the class struggle ... ."
And you conclude: "As partisans of breaking every workers' organization from the ruling class, Bolsheviks do not oppose the expression of the class struggle, however deformed and limited it may be, by means of the elections."
We disagree with the methodology that is implicit in your position, which in our view amounts to a permanent tactic of critical support, in effect a permanent united front.
We do accept the tactic of critical support, under appropriate circumstances. Revolutionaries give critical support to reformist parties and leaders when at least an important section of workers holds the illusion that the election of particular reformists will aid or advance their struggle. Under these conditions, there can be a clash between the workers' illusions in the reformists, on the one hand, and the latter's allegiance to the capitalist system, on the other. The reformists' inevitable betrayal of the workers' hopes creates the possibility that, through the critical support tactic, revolutionaries will be able to prove the need for revolutionary party leadership based on the workers' own experience of the struggle.
However, revolutionaries can critically support reformist candidates only so long as they stand at the head of the masses in struggle. When the workers are engaged in living struggles that seem to be led by reformists, they can learn revolutionary lessons. But in the absence of a common struggle, the situation is different. When the reformists are directly betraying the masses, opposing their struggle, we must refuse to give our support and must call for a break from the reformists. As Trotsky explained:
"The possibility of betrayal is always contained in reformism. But this does not mean that reformism and betrayal are one and the same thing at every moment. Not quite. Temporary agreements may be made with the reformists whenever they take a step forward. But to maintain a bloc with them when, frightened by the development of a movement, they commit treason, is equivalent to criminal toleration of traitors and a veiling of betrayal." (The Third International After Lenin, "The Period of Right-Centrist Downsliding.")
The PS and its leaders have not at all been in the forefront of working-class struggles. On the contrary, as you have pointed out, this party -- and Ségolène Royal in particular -- have been participating in the bourgeoisie's attacks against the workers. Under these conditions, the workers' illusion in the reformist leaders is not that the reformists' victory will aid the class struggle. Rather it is that electing reformists will in some way aid the workers even in the absence of struggle. Therefore we believe that supporting or voting for the reformists can only contribute to workers' illusions and in their lack of belief in the power of their own class.
Moreover, you point out correctly that by accepting the sponsorship of two bourgeois formations, the PRG of Taubira and the MRC of Chevènement, the PS "takes part in the scheme for preventing the expression of a class vote in the presidential election." This is certainly true, since a vote for Royal cannot imply a break with her bourgeois allies. Yet when you call on workers to vote for the PS on the first or the second round, on the grounds that is is a workers' organization, you in reality say that a vote for Royal is a class vote. Does this not help solidify the workers' illusions in the PS?
For these reasons, although we believe there is much to agree with in your analysis of the election, the need for working-class mobilization, the independence of workers' organizations and the struggle for a revolutionary workers' party, we think it is incorrect to call for a vote for the PS in the presidential election.
We are particularly interested in discussing the methodological issues with you, since yours is one of very few organizations today that understands that reformism is counterrevolutionary and not "progressive". This is an understanding that ought to be fundamental for Trotskyists.
With communist greetings,
for the LRP