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Platform of the International Trotskyist Current

 

We stand with Karl Marx: ‘The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. The struggle for the emancipation of the working class means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies but for equal rights and duties and the abolition of all class rule’ (General Rules of the International Workingmen’s Association, October 1864).

We recognise the need for programmatic development in order to understand the tasks of the contemporary period – programme first! as Trotsky said. Because the emancipation of the working class can only be the act of the working class itself, and because social-democracy and Stalinism have long since passed into the camp of counter-revolution, revolutionaries must organise themselves around a revolutionary programme both in Britain and internationally.

We see democratic soviets/workers’ councils as the instruments of participatory democracy which must be the basis of the successful struggle for workers’ control as the pre-condition for the revolutionary struggle for political power. So it is necessary to agitate for maximum workers’ self-organisation in struggle; every strike, occupation or action by the working class that increases their collective self-confidence is a step towards revolution and so bitterly opposed by capitalists and their apologists amongst the trade union bureaucracy.  Soviet democracy, i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be the basis of the organisational form of the workers’ state, a repressive but unavoidable transitional phase in the process of the development of communism where the workers defend their new state against counterrevolution and organise the production of life’s necessities so that want and oppression, rights and democracy wither away together with the repressive state and are no longer needed because of the free availability of all of life’s needs and wants; alienation in all its forms has finally been superseded by social and economic equality.

The capitalist state consists, in the last analysis, of armed bodies - like the army and police - which act in defence of the capitalist system and class. We acknowledge the need for a democratic Marxist Revolutionary Socialist Party to defeat this capitalist state and political system. The process of revolution is based upon democratic interaction between party and class. This interaction creates the political conditions for the self-emancipation of the working class. The process of economic success in transcending the alienating power of capital will also facilitate the political conditions to develop consent for the movement towards communism. The revolutionary process of transition to communism is based on the struggle to form an international federation of workers’ states. Such a federation is required in order to overcome the worldwide poverty and starvation caused by the domination of global free marker finance capital and end the threat of global ecological catastrophe.

We defend the heritage of the Russian Revolution and critically support the revolutionary thrust of the first four Congresses of the Third Communist International before the victory of the counter-revolutionary Stalinist bureaucracy and the imposition of the theory of socialism in one country after 1924. We counterpose of the violence of the oppressed to the violence of the oppressor and critically defend the methods of Trotsky in the Civil War and in the taking of the Kronstadt Fortress in 1920. We oppose Libertarian Marxists, ‘Left’ communists, platformists and traditional anarchists on this question, although agreeing with them on the final goal of an egalitarian communist society based on the production of the superabundance of life’s necessities in conformity with a sustainable biosphere.

Following the collapse of the Second International the October Revolution ‘shook the world’ and, amongst other things, facilitated the formation of the Communist International. There were significant problems with the Comintern from the outset. The majority of German Communists saw the formation as premature and had concerns that the new International would be overly dominated by the Russian CP. Despite this, the early years of the Comintern represent a high point in working class organisation and remain an important point of reference for revolutionaries in the 21st century. We critically support  the resolutions and manifestos of the first four congresses of the Comintern,  critical because, for instance, the Comintern (including Trotsky until 1928) failed to apply the theory of permanent revolution to all countries; they operated a mistaken ‘united front’ with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which led to a massacre of Turkish communists (1920-22) and opened the door for the Stalin/Zinoviev confusion which led to the massacre of the Shanghai Soviet in 1927.

We support Trotsky’s Transitional Programme of 1938 in its context. We always practice the method embodied in that document because it is the Marxist method of mass work as advocated by Lenin in Left Wing Communism; an Infantile Disorder in 1920. Nationalising of the banks under workers control is the appropriate transitional demand in the current crisis.  Open the books so committees of workers and consumers can determine where frauds and swindles have occurred and what part of the banking enterprises are simply parasitic. The anarchy of the capitalist free market produced this crises, the solution is to use public money to plan and organise production internationally for need and not for profit.

No to popular fronts with the political representatives of any capitalist class to ‘defeat fascism’, stop war or for any other reason and no to sectarian abstention from the class struggle. The Stalinists who subordinated the working class to a part of the bourgeoisie derailed the revolutions in both France and Spain in the 1930s.  In Indonesia (1965) and Chile (1973) the results were the same.  We defend working class independence under all circumstances.

Marxists counterpose the united front tactic to popular frontism in order to relate to reformist workers; placing demands on reformist leaders both to advance our class interests and to expose and defeat the reformist leaders before their membership in the course of struggles. Under no circumstance does a united front include a non-aggression pact. We always retain the freedom to criticise.

We recognise the necessity for revolutionaries to carry out serious ideological and political struggle as direct participants in the trade unions (always) and in the mass reformist social democratic parties despite their pro-capitalist leaderships when conditions are favourable. Rather than tail-ending, or seeking to become left-bureaucrats as the SP, the AWL, the ISG and SWP do we seek to build a rank-and-file movement independent of all bureaucracy, even its left variety as represented in Britain in the past by Arthur Scargill and today by Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka, etc. In the National Shop Stewards Network we do not want to ‘seize control’ from the current leadership around the SP, the SWP, or the RMT bureaucracy but to make it a real rank-and-file democratic movement that is independent of even left bureaucrats e.g. get rid of clause 3 which forbids intervention in the internal affairs of trade unions and make it open to all working class militants.

The British Labour party was never a socialist party. Clause 4, so beloved by left-reformists, was never more than a fig leaf. The Labour party remains a bourgeois workers’ party, that is to say, it is a pro-capitalists party based on the organised working class. So long as this remains the case, Marxists advance tactics it which may include both entryism and critical electoral support. We must not be part of the stupid, Stalinist third-period sectarian mistake the far left has been going through for the last 15 years or more; that because we understand that the Labour party and the trade union bureaucrats are class traitors the mass of the working also understand this and therefore the masses will come to us directly or we can con them by building a half-way-house, a more radical reformist Labour party Mark II. We advance tactics toward Labour party members as part of our united (rather than popular) front orientation, recognising the LP remains a type of workers’ party. That is we need to expose the existing leadership of our class: this is where the pro-imperialist misleaders live; it is far more than ‘tactics towards individual members’ of the LP, and is about the LP being an arena which is still intimately linked to the TUs and so a vital arena for the class struggle.

We recognise the urgent necessity for a programme for women’s liberation and prioritise work in defence of abortion rights, crèche facilities and equal pay. We fight for the creation of a working class women’s movement.  We recognise the leading role women have played in past revolutionary struggles and we emphasise the contradiction of the underrepresentation of women on the contemporary revolutionary left. We fight for free abortion and contraception on demand, for equal pay, for free 24-hour childcare in well equipped nurseries and kindergartens. We are for the abolition of all laws relating to prostitution which always criminalise women and/or place them in danger of violence and death.

 We aim to develop a programme for the emancipation of all the specially oppressed. We support the right of women, Black and Asian people, lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people to caucus inside the unions, in social democratic parties and in revolutionary socialist parties also. We fight racism and fascism. We support the right of people to fight back against racist attacks. Self-defence is no offence!  We fight for an end to all discrimination against lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, and against harassment whether by the state or by homophobic reactionaries. Abolish all laws used to persecute lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people - gross indecency, soliciting, obscenity laws, blasphemy laws, etc.

We oppose all immigration controls.  International finance capital roams the planet in search of profit and imperialist governments disrupts the lives of workers and cause the collapse of whole nations with their direct intervention in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and their proxy wars in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc. Demands for immigration controls are fuelled by the right-wing press, and imposed by Brown and the Enoch Powell-like immigration minister Phil Woolas to undermine workers organisation and collective solidarity. Big trade unions like Unite and the GMB who now supply 90% of Labour party funding and who could easily call the tune on this and on the anti-union laws, etc acquiesce to Brown on everything; we must demand they begin a real campaign in defence of immigrants to combat the media bias. We must unconditionally defend the rights of all workers to seek the best remuneration for their labour in the metropolitan countries and fight there the enemy which has destroyed their lives in their own countries. At the same time we support those workers in non-metropolitan countries in struggle against their imperialist employers, landlords etc! This includes workers in the west taking action in defence of their brothers/sisters in Africa or whichever part of the ‘third world’! We recognise and celebrate the US dock strike on May Day 2008, (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) closed all the ports on the west side of the country, from California up through Oregon to Washington) against the war in Iraq as the most important way for workers to combat imperialist war.

We demand of all governments a world plan to combat climate change and the degradation of the biosphere which is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production for profits of transnational corporations. But we recognise this is a vitally important class question. Ecological catastrophe is caused by imperialism so to combat this threat we must redouble our efforts to forward the world revolution. But transitional demands on governments are crucial here; cheap and ultimately free nationalised public transport by trains and buses and a halt to Airport runway expansions as at Heathrow to reduce the carbon emission of cars, trucks and planes, wind, wave and solar power generated electricity, international and ultimately global energy and water networks, an end to rainforest destruction by a global ban on trade in hardwoods and other timber produced there, serious recycling programmes that reward rather than penalise, etc., whilst recognising that individual efforts make little difference and plastic-bag ecology is used by governments to guilt-trip individuals and avoid internationally co-ordinated actions which can alone reverse this drift towards disaster. We must therefore focus our demands on making the case for a global planned economy by a global federation of workers’ states, only this can prevent ecological catastrophe. 

As revolutionary international socialists we support Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution and its applicability to the present era of globalisation. We also support Lenin’s differentiation of all nations into imperialist oppressor nations and oppressed colonial or semi-colonial nations. We are always and in all circumstances for the defeat of imperialism as the main enemy of progressive humanity even by non-working class forces in wars between imperialism and oppressed nations. In defending the strategy of permanent revolution in the semi-colonial world we reject both ‘two-stage’ conceptions and the idea of ‘socialism in one country’ as reactionary utopias.

We recognise that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the Soviet Union (1989-91) represented a victory for the neo-liberal agenda of US and world imperialism. Whilst we are for the defence of democratic rights including the right to national self-determination we recognise that individual rights are bourgeois values which presuppose inequality and fail to defend the collective rights of the mass of humanity to food, water, housing, education, comprehensive health care, etc. We recognise individual workers and small impoverished nations are at the mercy of powerful imperialist corporations and nations so we fight for individual rights and national rights in a collective, that is in a class and not in a libertarian way; e.g. we fight for the ‘no platforming’ of fascists and oppose free market exploitation of small countries. We would curtail the democratic rights of capitalists and would replace the anarchy of the free market with an economy planned to satisfy human need and not profit. We do not always advocate separation of small nations despite recognising their right to form their own state if a majority desire it.

The betrayals of the discredited Labour government in the face of the growing financial and economic crises give the fascists of the BNP hope of advancement. They now have fifty eight local councillors in Britain (BBC estimates) and a member on the Greater London Assembly. But the rise of fascism in a period of capitalist crisis cannot be prevented without a fight encapsulating the basics of revolutionary struggle: anti-fascists need to be well organised and democratically centralised, independent of the bourgeoisie and with a revolutionary programme utilising the traditional method of No Platform. Here as elsewhere transitional demands do not necessarily lead all the way to the seizure of power – e.g. for now we are for the maximum independent self-organisation of the working class in the struggle against fascism:  we are for the building of democratic, representative committees of the local and antifa working class charged with organising the prevention of the dissemination of fascist ideas/influence: that is a transitional demand because it takes us from where we are to a better place where the fighting capacity and abilities of the working class has increased, and it is in no way incompatible with the next step - in fact it should lead directly onto that next step. We need to combine these local transitional demands with the line of our international organisation. This is totally opposed to the popular front methods of appealing to the police and demands for a vote even for Boris Johnson against the BNP (Hope not Hate) and spreading dangerous illusions that the state protects us against the fascists as practiced by the SWP’s Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

We dissociate ourselves from the organisational methods of most post war Trotskyist groups. These can be characterised as a) bureaucratic centralist with a top-down elitist leadership, often with a single guru-like figure, and b) sectarian in the sense of wishing to control or destroy broad movements or campaigns. We are in favour of democratic centralism in an open democratic party with rights for factions and tendencies.

We are for the reconstruction of the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution and will fight for the fusions and splits necessary for this in our international work. We recognise the majority of those forces internationally who claim the name of Trotskyism as centrists, in the Marxist sense that they capitulate to bourgeois ideology but also tend to relate to aspects of the revolutionary method of the Trotskyist Transitional Programme at times and seek to peruse some of its method in however inadequate a form. These forces, despite their degenerate and cynical centrist leaderships, do contain the vast bulk of subjectively revolutionary socialists on the planet. ‘Soft’, reformist, moral pressure power of global networks will not work for climate change, poverty or rebuilding a revolutionary international. US and world imperialism can deploy ‘hard’ economic and military power and we must orientate to the forces who can also deploy hard power on behalf of the working class and oppressed internationally; workers’ organisation which can deliver hard power by strikes and mass mobilisations which can physically stop whole economies, the movement of war munitions and armies, etc. and so can place revolution on the agenda.  It is by orientating to the ranks of these workers in struggle that we will win the forces from Trotskyist-centrist groups, and of course by working closely to regroup with those groups nationally and internationally who have made significant advances in breaking from that centrism. In this way we aim to assist in reconstructing the Fourth International.