Révolution Socialiste  



CRP en el Perú


The foundation of the NPA

Reformism of the 21st century


Neither communist, nor revolutionary

The giving up of these terms gives a summary of the choices of the congress (6th, 7th and 8th of February 2009) which buried the Communist revolutionary league and announced the New anticapitalist party (NPA). This NPA is an outcome of the period in which the proletariat moved back in front of attacks of the world bourgeoisie. In this period, capitalism was restored in Russia, in Eastern Europe and in China, and which the organizations that have claimed to be the 4th International rejected the teachings of October and the necessity of building revolutionary workers’ parties.

Just born, the NPA enters the process of decay of the working class movement, since he does not explain to the workers and the youth that only a proletarian revolution, an insurrection which would put an end to the bourgeois state and impose a revolutionary government, could solve the innumerable miseries the capitalist class puts on us. Plenty of paragraphs appear as “founding principles of the NPA”, but none of them clearly states that, in order to win the class war, the proletariat must take the power, have its own state, based on the councils, the committees that he would have built during its mobilization in order to break the resistance of the bourgeoisie. Since its task will be to fulfill the huge needs of the working population which will control it, this government, this workers’ state will wrest from the capitalists the means of production, of transport, of exchange; the expropriation, the collectivization, the implementation of a plan for development for feeding, housing, treating, teaching, to liberate, such is the program of a party which really wants to change the world, that is to liquidate the mode of production and to build socialism, for a classless society, without oppression.

This political orientation, learnt from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, entails the fight for the class independence of the proletariat and for the building of the revolutionary workers’ international and of its parties. The NPA rejects the experience acquired from one century and a half of workers’ struggles. To the young students, to the workers, to the unemployed, to the wage-earners that are disgusted by the policies of the social-democrat and former Stalinist parties, it only proposes a reformist program and non Marxist political references


An indigestible recipe


Democrats, ecologists, bohos, former LO activists, feminists, Pabloists, trade unionists, libertarians (among others), all the constituents of the NPA have agreed, with a great deal of amendments, on a document which gives a summary of their political views. It looks like a shepherds’ pie, in which each of them tried to recycle its own good. Whether you look for revolution or for status quo, you will be told, either through craftiness or through naivety: “sure, that is in”… and often, their mountains (“the radical requirements”) have brought forth a mouse (opposition when the state goes too far):

Our program also has democratic requests in order to oppose the excesses and drifts of the repressive institutions (police, justice, prisons, army…). (Founding principles, Chapter 3)

Another mountain:

We present an emergency social plan in order to attribute the costs of the crisis to the capitalists that are responsible. (General resolution, I2A)

The mouse is 5 lines down:

In case a firm gets into real trouble, the funding will be provided by a banking public service, with a special contribution paid by all the share holders. Thanks to this contribution, the wage is secured at the same level in case of short time working.

In clear, a public bank will refund and pay the wages. If funding is necessary, why not expropriating? Is it too Bolshevik?

All the trends in the NPA share the same repulsion for the 1917 Russian Revolution, which is never alluded in the founding document. They are talking of “socialism of the 21st century” (this expression is used by the president Chavez in Venezuela and by the president Correa in Ecuador) in order not to be equated with the defenders of the first successful proletarian revolution. When 900 million people starve in the world, they all together denounce productivism, as “an insidious and manipulative model based on consumption”, as if the major part of humanity only wanted to take over the superfluous! They spread the belief that when the exploited and the oppressed will set into motion, the bourgeoisie, its police, its army will not react, whereas GM-free daisies will flower on the pavements. When they talk of “ecosocialism”, their intention is to rest on the petty-bourgeoisie which does not point the capitalist mode of production as the real responsible of the plundering and of the injuries against environment. From “democracy” to “self-management”, with its “citizens”, its “neo-liberalism”, its “market economy”, its “anti-globalism”, the “founding principles of the NPA” cloud the class boarders. Therefore, the NPA has no problem in supporting the leader of an indigenist peasant party in Bolivia, a former seminarist leading a Popular front coalition in Ecuador, a former colonel, and still bourgeois nationalist in Venezuela.

We are watching with a particular attention and much hope the ongoing processes in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. (General Resolution, III2)


A new label for an old commodity


Today a supporter of Chavez, the real leadership of the NPA widely comes from the former LCR, which itself is the outcome of a minority split in the French section of the 4th International in 1952.

In 1951, the leaders of the 4th International became both skeptical on the proletarian revolution and impatient with the lack of success of their own organization, and they started looking for shortcuts. Pablo and Mandel then revised the program and entrusted to the Stalinist bureaucracy the care of making revolution. In giving up an independent orientation towards the working class, in giving up the struggle for building a party which could break the political rule of the bureaucracy, they lowered their role to be a counselor of the petit-bourgeois nationalists and of the Stalinists, trying to influence them and to push them on the left. In the advanced countries, the Trotskyist groups were told to enter the Stalinist or social-democrat parties. In the backward countries, the “Pabloism” advocated the “anti-imperialist united front”, namely the integration in the nationalist movement. In 1952, they excluded the French section that was resisting, and then they provoked the blowing up of the 4th International, which did not recover.

Such a programmatic line immediately proved wrong, during the revolution in Bolivia in 1952, and during the revolution in East Germany in 1953, without however taking its leaders back to orthodoxy.

The illusions were transferred to the FLN in Algeria and to the M26J in Cuba. The SI, renamed SU, suddenly became Castroist, and then a guerrilla supporter. Then the European leaders of the SU who have a comfortable academic career (Mandel, Maitan, Weber, Bensaïd, Habel, Löwy…) needlessly send hundreds of activists to jail, to torture (by soldiers that were often taught by the French army) and to death, that could have become revolutionary cadres in the working class in Latin America.

Like Castro, Mandel and his assistants support in parallel all the Popular fronts, as well in Chile (Unidad Popular, see Révolution Socialiste N°14) as in France (Union de la gauche).

Revisionist of Trotskyism, protectors of the PCF and of the corrupt bureaucracies, its French organization, which called for voting Chirac in 2002, always espoused fashions and the lesser resistance line, sticking with the “left” petty-bourgeoisie. Stalinophile, Titoist, Castroist, third-worldist, guerillerist, Left Unity, ecologists… always reformist.


“Socialism for the 21st millennium”

The leaders of the LCR launched their “anti-capitalist party” in judging that space got opened for them, with the good score of Besancenot at the last presidential election: the Parti socialiste (PS) twice beaten, with very loose connections with workers and the youth, because of the bourgeois policy that it always leads both in the government and in the parliamentary opposition; the Parti communiste français (PCF) in its death throes, see its scores at the elections or its campaigns in distributing false banknotes; the lassitude of thousands of workers who had hoped in vain that Lutte ouvrière (LO) would have another use than getting their ballot paper every five years; the shrivelling of the windbags ATTAC, Social Forums, anti-globalists, that the former LCR was widely feeding.

Besancenot and Co decided to fill that space, in building, not a revolutionary workers’ party, but a new look reformist party, more marketable than the PS or the PCF, towards the youth, towards the workers who experienced their several betrayals. It is a non proletarian party which will not train its activists to Marxism, to the theory for the action of the revolutionary proletariat. Here a few instances of a crass ignorance and Besancenotian rewriting of Capital.

Globalization, which has shown an attack of the ruling classes against the workers and the people in order to increase their profits, leads to a deep and structural crisis of the capitalist mode of production itself. (Founding principles, Chapter 1)

In attacking the value of the labour force (intensification of work, extension of its length, stagnation or fall in the wages, mass unemployment, fall in health cover, in retirement pensions, refusal of residence permits, anti-strike and anti-union laws…), the capitalist class does not shoot itself in the foot; unlike the stupidity written above, it struggles for securing its rate of profit. It tries to thwart a major contradiction of the capitalist mode of production: the tendency to develop the production tool in order to keep in the world competition, to the detriment of the living labour, the labour of the workers, only source of surplus value. The crisis does not stem from the “attack of the ruling classes against the workers”… rather it was delayed by this attack, but could not be prevented, which gives an idea of the state of deterioration of the capitalist mode of production.

The “globalization”, which is the tendency to the internationalization of the productive forces, is not new. Comparing to previous modes of production, capitalism was on that issue a huge improvement (which allows considering world socialism):

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. (Communist Manifesto, 1848)

Like all reformists, the NPA advocates that a good recovery policy would solve the crisis.

The current collapse of capitalism is the logical consequence of a bankrupt system. It is the outcome of the contradiction between an unlimited development of credit, the economy based on debt and the market which is limited in such a way that the ruling classes, in search of maximal return, support mass unemployment and job insecurity, freeze the wages… (Founding principles, Chapter 1)

Higher wages, more consumers, and the machinery starts again! In brief, it would be enough to regulate supply and demand. They state that the roots of the capitalist market lie in the market area, not in the production. At this point too, they are not Marxist, they cheat the proletarians since they pretend that the needs of the masses can be fulfilled within capitalism.

The NPA is really a reformist party talking of socialism like the priests talk of heaven, but they work out with capitalism.

We take part to struggles for immediate reforms and our political answers start from the reality of the ground, from what everyone lives daily. (Founding principles, Chapter 4)

Words are not used randomly, it is not an intense fight for fulfilling the demands, but “a policy of gradual reforms within the system”, to which “even the PS gave up” (Founding principles, Chapter 4)

The NPA conforms to the old separation between minimal program and maximal program, to which the Transitional program, written by Trotsky and adopted by the founding conference of the 4th International, gave a straight blow:

The strategic task of the next period – prerevolutionary period of agitation, propaganda and organization – consists in overcoming the contradiction between the maturity of the objective revolutionary conditions and the immaturity of the proletariat and its vanguard (the confusion and disappointment of the older generation, the inexperience of the younger generation. 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 speechifying. 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 Fourth International 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.

The Fourth International 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 Fourth International 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. (Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, 1938)


Support to days of action

Since its program, despite its “radical left” dressing, is similar to those of the PS, of the PCF, of the PG, since it shares the same refusal of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the LCR, while building the NPA, made coalitions with the “plural left” in the last local elections

Their common initiatives, in support of the leadership of the unions, come as a confirmation that the gap is not that large between the various reformist organizations. The founding congress of the NPA was delayed one week, and the official reason was to freely contribute to the success of the day of action on the 29th of January… A few days later, the newly appointed leadership signed a statement, together with the PS, the PCF, the Left party (Mélenchon), the MRC (Chevènement), LO, the Alternatives and some other Alter-Ekolos, which deserves a quotation:

Left parties and organizations that met Tuesday 3rd of February in Paris are glad about the important success of the social mobilization on the 29th of January… Unlike what the Prime minister just claimed, the day of fight on the 29th of January clearly requests a shift in course, especially on the issues of wages, jobs, public services. Nicolas Sarkozy and the government cannot hide from these requirements and ignore the main lines of the interunion platform.

Within « the left », not being disturbed by the presence of the social liberal and of the sovereigntists, the NPA expects from Sarkozy that he shifts his politics, that he adopts the interunion platform (which has proved to be far from the real workers’ demands, in terms of wage increase or of maintenance of the jobs)! Besides, the signatories have set a next meeting “after the presidential TV appearance on the 5th of February”: in case Sarkozy would stop making a politics which corresponds to the interests of the bourgeoisie? In other words, the NPA is used for spreading harmful illusions in the necessary mobilization against the government, to force it to capitulate, to defeat it and to throw it out. In the same statement, the NPA and its partners do not call for the surrender of the government in the face of general strike of the working population in Guadeloupe, to the fulfilment of all claims. No, they conceal the general strike, renamed “social movement”, and they “ask the government to start real negotiations as soon as possible, on the expressed demands, especially on the issue of the purchasing power”.

Whereas 2.5 million workers were on strike and demonstrated on the 29th of January against the policy of the government, the leaderships of the unions, who leave the general strike in Guadeloupe isolated, organize, in unity the powerlessness against Sarkozy. They refuse to endorse on a national basis the defence of thousands of redundant workers, forced to short-time working: instead of calling for a central demonstration in Paris, demanding no job cuts and the expropriation of the ones who fire, they keep the workers isolated in each firm, from board of directors to commercial court. Whereas the hospital workers, the academics, the students fight against Sarkozy’s and his ministers plans, the unions’ leaderships keep on discussing with the government. They call again for a 24-hour “journée d’action” (day of action) on the 19th of March, which threatens in no way the government and which is used as a valve for the legitimate anger of the workers.

On the 12th of March, the NPA signs again, with the same organizations except LO, a call “for achieving on the 19th of March a great day of protest and of proposal, even stronger than the 29th of January”. Still enthusiastic for the days of action, on the 23rd of March, its executive Committee gives a statement the following title: “After the 19th of March, soon a new day of strikes and demonstrations”. NPA’s role is to sell the deadly tactic of the strikes, in the plural, to cover the leaderships of the unions that they sometimes criticize… the calendar is too loose between two upbeats.


Selected extracts

The name of a journal always provides a sign for considering the publishing organization. The leadership of the NPA chose Tout est à nous! [Everything is ours!] Who? The redundant workers? The families who were thrown out from their accommodation?

The reading of this “let’s pretend that”, needless to say, confirms the reformist policy of the NPA. The first issue, published on the 26th March 2009, subtitles: “After the 19th of March, head for the general strike”. As for general strike, its line was to renew the limited days of action, to accumulate isolated actions in each sector, in dreaming of the snowball effect.

Demonstrations [in higher education] gathering tens of thousands people, “hard-hitting” actions like the recent sit-in in Sciences-Po by students and teachers in Paris 8, public readings of La Princesse de Clèves (the book was decried by Sarkozy), lectures “out of the walls”, leaflets distribution on markets, in front of schools, secondary school and, high schools… will of broadening, in calling to days of action, “from kindergartento university” or in keeping all the space on the 19th of March. (Tout est à nous!, 26th of March 2009)

Now there is no alternative solution than preparing the renewable strike through the rank-and-file in firms, in towns, tending as soon as possible to the convergence of struggles. (Tout est à nous!, 26th of March 2009)

The NPA calls for “the creation, in unity, of mobilizing committees in order to define the unifying demands for the whole working world and to prepare the next steps for mobilization”. It first means that the general strike is not on the agenda, that it has to be “built”, according to the expression they share with the union bureaucrats; then, a “unifying platform” has to be invented. They pretend ignoring that the main obstacle to general strike is the relentless refusal of the treacherous leaderships, first of the unions, to confront the government, to break up any cooperation with it, to call for the general strike. Not saying that, not keeping repeating it, necessarily amounts to reject on the workers the responsibility of inaction or of defeat.

Still, “let’s pretend that”, for a while, the living conditions that are imposed on the proletariat and the youth by Sarkozy, by its politics, by its government, by the bosses he works for, by the legitimate anger they create, are the means of pressure which are able to raise the proletariat and the youth, and let’s seriously go through the “unifying platform” and the “urgent social, ecological, democratic emergency plan” defended by the NPA, and through the “Anticapitalist European left conference”

Really fighting against the crisis, defining “new regulations”, requires to attack the hardcore of capitalism, to impose a new distribution of wealth and to take real measures of incursion in the capitalist ownership. (Tout est à nous! 9th of April 2009)

Regulating means reforming capitalism, aiming to emend its flaws. Distributing wealth is a way for this new regulation. All of it is dupery of cowards who will never expropriate a single “CAC40 capitalist”.

Which rate must be the so-called deep transformations? Is the issue only to transform a part of private capitalism into state capitalism? Or do we want to replace the whole capitalism with another social system? Do we want to replace capitalism with socialism, with communism or with Proudhonian anarchy? When I need to move for one or two stations, I need to know where the train goes. Even for emergency measures, we need a general direction. (Trotsky, « Du plan de la CGT à la conquête du pouvoir », 1935, Le Mouvement communiste en France, Minuit, p. 487)

These comments perfectly fit with the centrepiece of the NPA’s emergency measures, namely “banning redundancies”. Since Besancenot’s train does not go to socialism, he leads a campaign which claims that this request can be integrated in capitalism, that “it is possible, all is an issue of balance of power”.

During the 1970s, redundant wage-earners got 90% of their wage during a year. Until 1987, the state had to give its consent for collective redundancies… Imposing the ban is possible, as well as the workers imposed eight-hour day, forty-hour week, paid leaves, ban on children’s work. (Tout est à nous! 2nd of April 2009)

These arguments, that are supposed to boost fighting spirit, mainly show that no lasting protection can obtain by the workers since the bosses, their governments, their states keep the power. They prove that nothing is ours; they retake what they had to drop. Is it true that the workers in steel industry, in textile industry, were protected against collective redundancies “until 1987”? Even in sticking to France, are the eight-hour day and forty-hour week unanimously respected?

Under the heading “Applying the right to employment” and “make the bosses aware of their responsibilities” (!), the file on the ban of redundancies tears the last anti-capitalist feathers to the reformist woodcock

Since the capitalists are monopolizing the ownership of the firms and the produced wealth, since they are obliging the workers to rent their labour force, theses bosses must bear the outcome of that situation and guarantee the contracts of employment. (Tout est à nous! 2nd of April 2009)

That’s it, too bad for them! Everything is theirs, they keep it, but in exchange, the bosses “must guarantee the contracts of employment”. What happens if the bosses are not dutiful? Who will guarantee that the capitalists guarantee? Sarkozy government? The bourgeois state and its laws? The NPA?

The necessary conclusion is that the NPA’s program is about working out the existing order.

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. (Communist Manifesto, 1848)


Building a workers’ revolutionary party is an urgent and crucial task

The wage-earning workers need a party that represents their class interests, against the capitalist class, a party which is delimited by its program, the program of the proletarian revolution, by its full independence from the union and political bureaucracies, the old workers-bourgeois parties. They need a party which acts in order to impose the demands of those who produce all the wealth, those who ensure the living conditions of the whole population. This party, in order to go forward, will not fear to advance towards socialism.

For one century and a half, our class has been fighting against capitalism; it has accumulated a substantial amount of lessons that are concentrated in four workers’ internationals. In order to fight back, the proletariat, assisted by the youth, needs a world party that resumes this filiation.

Whoever dares not utter aloud the revolutionary tasks will never find the courage to solve them… The initiative of a conscious minority, a scientific program, bold and ceaseless agitation in the name of clearly formulated aims, merciless criticism of all ambiguity those are some of the most important factors for the victory of the proletariat. Without a fused and steeled revolutionary party a socialist revolution is inconceivable. (Trotsky, « Open Letter for the Fourth International », New Militant, 3 August 1935)