by Brian Grogan, National Secretary, International Marxist Group (British section of the Fourth International)
Triumphalist, self-congratulatory: “The Fourth International celebrated its fortieth anniversary in September 1978. It recorded a period of unprecedented growth on a world scale in all parts of the globe. Today its programme unites Mexican peasants, Japanese workers, European youth and a new cadre of African revolutionaries. It would be false to exaggerate the importance of the growth of the Fourth International in objective terms, but the fact that it has grown, developed and intervened in national politics in France, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Argentina and Peru (to take the most obvious examples) is universally acknowledged. The Fourth International is the only revolutionary political organisation that consciously organises itself on a world scale. It is this which both marks it off from the rest of the far left in Europe and America and, at the same time, demonstrates its enormous potential.”
in no country has any revolutionary organisation succeeded in transforming itself into a revolutionary party – what’s the difference between “revolutionary organization” and “revolutionary party”?
“the tenacious hold of bourgeois-democratic institutions over the working class -- in itself a result of the experience of decades of Stalinism in the USSR and Eastern Europe” – why be so apologetic for the working class?
While the death agony of Francoism clearly raised the real possibility of a general strike and the entry of the masses into politics, the Spanish ruling class was not standing idly by. It instituted a series of reforms from above which were utilised by the Spanish Socialist and Communist parties to integrate the working class with the central project of the bourgeoisie. – Again, same old behavior.
“the Latin American Trotskyists believed that it was vital to transform their organisations from propaganda groups into armed units capable of resisting the bourgeois onslaught. This response was reinforced with the emergence in every Latin American country of a vanguard which, under the inspiration and direct encouragement of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, broke with the politics of gradualism and compromise so ably defended by the Communist parties throughout the continent. These militants drew only one lesson from the Cuban Revolution: guerrilla warfare. The Fourth International thus adopted a 'strategy of armed struggle'. This was a serious mistake on a number of counts. On the level of analysis it appeared to endorse the notion that a few hundred militants with weapons could bring about a socialist revolution. This had not been the case even in Cuba, where the mass mobilisations of 1959 and 1960-61 were of crucial importance in ensuring the defeat of the Cuban bourgeoisie and its imperialist masters.” – “Blanquism”, or “focoism” is a twin brother of mistake of “parliamentarism”
from 1969 to 1977 the Fourth International was racked by an extremely sharp tendency fight which strongly influenced both its internal functioning and its capacity for internationally coordinated actions
“With regard to capitalist Europe, since May 1968 the analysis of the Fourth International has emphasised the eruption of a general crisis of the system. There were no important differences on this point, nor on the fact that the dynamic of the situation has placed the problem of the struggle of the working class for power on the agenda.” – saying this for decades!
“Although no formal decision has yet been made, there is a virtually unanimous consensus that the great struggle of the Vietnamese people has concluded with the establishment of a workers state on a national scale.” – to call Vietnam “workers state” - ? It means very little, like calling a heating radiator “a bug”, i.e. a name which says nothing about it.
“the reformist and neo-reformist parties continue to maintain their hegemony over the working class despite the creation of situations objectively favourable to the development of revolutionary struggles, and despite the severe blows for their conceptions and orientations in various countries” – which shows that the working class is a part and parcel of the capitalist regime.
It (the Trotskyist movement, IV International) has not been able to lead mass mobilisations and mass actions based on its programme and its slogans
Chapter I: Historical Continuity
Between the Communist League and the First International, there was a lapse in time of a dozen years in the field of organisation -- although political continuity was assured by Marx and Engels personally. Between the First and Second International, there was also a gap of almost fifteen years -- the political continuity being assured by Engels, who established a kind of international centre by corresponding with leaders of parties in the most important countries. The years of World War I fell between the Second and the Third International. This time it was the Bolshevik Party and Zimmerwald that assured the maintenance of the Marxist movement.
Problem #1: “degeneration of the Communist International”, of the Russian Communist Party, the onset of Stalinism.
What do we do about it?
1. See that Stalinism is not confined to 1 country – the USSR, but in fact is a general phenomenon, tendency in all countries that have started a socialist revolution in XX century. Most prominent examples are: China (Maoism), Cuba (Castroism), Yugoslavia (Titoism), etc. Need to study this phenomenon is all these countries, and see what are the common causes. I would not urry with new organization, and certainly not practice “French Turn” to increase membership.
“The point of departure was the turn in the world situation after the defeat of the German revolution in October 1923. The German CP was losing ground, while the Social Democracy was moving ahead. Trotsky, against the majority of the Political Bureau of the Bolshevik Party (the Zinoviev-Kamenev-Stalin troika), maintained that the international situation had changed from top to bottom, that the revolutionary wave of the post-war period was spent, that a period of relative stabilisation of capitalism had started, and that all this imposed new tasks for the Communist international and its sections in capitalist countries -- as well as for the problems of building socialism in the USSR.
From 1923 to 1929 the Bolshevik-Leninist faction in the USSR fought on three main questions:
* The Anglo-Russian Committee (1926).
* The second Chinese revolution (1925-27).
Problem #2: why was the German revolution defeated in 1923?
Read The Lessons of the "March Action", Gorter's Last Letter to Lenin
Policy in the USSR
We shall limit ourselves here to a few lines on this question, since it has been thoroughly treated by Trotsky in his Draft Programme of the Communist International: A Criticism of Fundamentals, and The Revolution Betrayed.
“The bureaucratisation of the state was accompanied and abetted by a bureaucratisation of the Bolshevik Party.”
Frank, instead of rehashing the arguments of Trotsky, should have examined modern data for Stalinism in other countries.
Anglo-Russian committee (1926)
In May 1926 a nine-day general strike forced the British Empire to its knees. This was the first manifestation of the crisis of British capitalism (a crisis that reached full bloom after the end of the Second World War). But British capitalism was able to pull itself out of this grave difficulty thanks to the British trade union leadership’s betrayal: they ended the general strike and let the miners continue the struggle alone for several months.
For any revolutionary with the most elementary knowledge of the Leninist position on the united front, this betrayal would have demanded an immediate break by the Russian unions from the Anglo-Russian Committee – plus an appeal to the British workers to stand up against their leadership. But considering the essential object of the Anglo-Russian Committee to be the ‘defence of the USSR’, and conceiving the latter as a task separate and distinct from the revolutionary struggle of the masses, Stalin kept the committee – whose activity for months and months was reduced to nothing but talk, anyway – in existence. When the militant members of the British Communist Party and the Minority Movement denounced the reformist leaders of their unions as traitors, the latter therefore had an easy reply at hand: ’That’s not what the Russians think – and you can’t very well accuse them of being reformists and traitors. There they are, in the same committee with us!’ This policy disarmed and emoralized the British CP as well as the Minority Movement, which eventually disappeared.
Several months after the general strike, the leaders of the British trade unions, having thoroughly exploited the committee (which was no longer of any use to them) for their own purposes, denounced the financial aid provided to the striking miners by the Russian unions as an interference in the internal life of their organisations, and used this excuse to break up the Anglo-Russian Committee.
The Chinese revolution in 1925-7
the Stalin-Bukharin leadership elaborated the theory of a 'bloc of four classes' for China (a combination of workers, peasants, intellectuals, and capitalists -- the last-named being considered 'progressive' in a colonial or semi-colonial country), developed the concept of two-class worker and peasant parties, and the necessity for a 'revolution by stages' with the 'democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants' as an intermediate stage between capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Put into practice, this policy of class collaboration resulted in an order to the Chinese Communist Party to enter the Kuomintang.
As the Kuomintang armies neared Shanghai in their march from the commercial South to the North, the workers rose up and seized the city. Their class instinct led them to refuse Chiang Kai-shek's troops entry into Shanghai. But, on orders from the Communist International, the Chinese Communists prevailed upon the workers to allow Chiang Kai-shek and his soldiers to enter the most industrialised centre of China. No sooner was he installed than Chiang Kai-shek set about the wholesale slaughter of the Communist movement of China.
Summary: the central problem is that of Stalinism developing in all countries undertaking the socialist revolution.
Chapter 3: From 1929 to 1933 Formation of the International Left Opposition
Problem #3: “defense of the USSR” – what does it mean 1) inside the USSR, 2) outside the USSR?
Inside the USSR, we’re living under the Stalinist dictatorship. Hence, probably “defense of the USSR” means taking up arms first against the regime. In case of capitalist aggression, as that of Hitler, it means concluding a truce (with bureaucracy)? A united front against capitalism? Or fighting both enemies at the same time, as the Yugoslav partisans did fight both against the Nazis and the Chetniks?
What does "defense of the USSR" mean today, when there are many Stalinist states?
Problem #4: the rise of fascism (Hitlerism), in Germany.
The Left Opposition led an international struggle against the line of 'social fascism' and in favour of a united front of the German Communist and Social Democratic parties in order to stop Hitler.
The policy was a failure. The only time when German Communist and German Social Democratic parties united was when Hitler was crushed and Stalinism instituted its dictatorship in East Germany. What was formed was a branch of CPSU in East Germany.
Now in Ukraine, in all of the former USSR, in all of the Eastern Europe (e.g. Hungary, Poland), in fact in Germany, in Western Europe, in USA, in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, etc. we have a rise of extreme right parties, nationalists, and behind them the fascists, the Nazis. What can be done to stop this???
Extreme right is also ISIL, the dominant force in the Middle East (the Syria war).
In Ukraine, the answer seems this: 1) a qualitative rise in consciousness of the masses of the evils of the existing government and social-political system, blaming or praising not “the Jews” (Poroshenko, Groissman), but the regime of Restoration of capitalist relations. 2) A qualitative rise in self-management, self-government among a sizeable section of the population, opening up a possibility of self-government on national level. Both of these would be possible only with a further development of knowledge as productive force. 3) An International revolutionary organization being formed, having a section in Ukraine.
Chapter 4: From 1933 to 1938 -- Preparing for the Fourth International
A slight economic recovery occurred from 1933 to 1938, due largely to preparations for a new world war
In fact, the present period in global history resembles that of 1933-38, i.e. preparations for a new world war, together with crisis and development of extreme right in all countries.
“the calling by the British ILP (Independent Labour Party) of a conference open to all organisations outside the Second and Third Internationals, for the purpose of examining the world situation and the situation of the labour movement in light of the Nazi victory”
Problem #5: “Entryism”, or really “Pabloism”
In our efforts to move towards a stronger organisation, we were to pass through a stage in which the Trotskyist group would temporarily lose its organisational independence by entering a mass working class party. Trotsky himself raised the question of the Ligue Communiste entering the SFIO. The move was decided on in September-October of 1934. This policy, called entryism, was subsequently extended to other countries. At first it aroused a great deal of disagreement within our international organisation, even causing splits. It was with a great deal of resistance that the October 1934 International Plenum ratified the policy of the French Trotskyists' entering the SFIO. Since then the majority of the organisation has considered this tactic admissible.
Results: - the activity of the Bolshevik-Leninist Group  in the SFIO was conducted with remarkable political clarity. This attracted numerous young people, particularly the whole Jeunesses Socialistes (Socialist Youth) tendency, organised under the name Jeunesses Socialistes Revolutionnaires (Revolutionary Socialist Youth), into the organisation's ranks, thus renewing its membership. On the other hand, our exit from the SFIO while the Popular Front was being organised took place under very unfortunate circumstances, and the split among the Bolshevik-Leninists occurring at that time caused us to lose part of the benefits obtained from our entry. – the result is confusion!
And at the same time criticizing POUM: “Nin and Andrade in Spain, who had opposed the entry of the French Trotskyists into the SFIO, did not delay in uniting -- on an incorrect programmatic basis -- with the Worker-Peasant Bloc in Catalonia, thus forming the inveterately centrist POUM”
In Marxist literature, the characterisation 'centrist' is applied to all tendencies or groups that fluctuate between revolutionary Marxism and reformism. Some very diverse organisations are thus included in this category. There have even been some mass organisations of a centrist nature, for example, the Independent Socialist Party of Germany (USPD -- Unabhtingige Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands), which broke with the Social Democracy during the First World War and part of which participated in forming the German Communist Party in 1920.
Chapter 5: From the Founding of the Fourth International to the Second World Congress (1938-48)
1938 – Founding Conference, at which Trotsky pressed for foundation of the IV International, and simultaneously presented “The Transitional Program”.
The whole International was built upon the wrong perspective of revolutionary workers’ movement. Hence, it had no real social basis.
1946 – First world Congress.
1948 – Second world Congress. Debates on the nature of the USSR.
Chapter 6: From the Second World Congress to the 1953 Split
1947 – start of Cold war.
In June of 1948 the first great crisis of Stalinism erupted, in the shape of the Soviet-Yugoslav split… The crisis, for all practical purposes, has never since stopped growing (onset of 'de-Stalinisation' after Stalin's death in 1953; East Berlin events in June 1953; Twentieth Congress [of the CPSU] and events in Poland and Hungary in 1956; Sine-Soviet conflict; Czechoslovak crisis; etc.).
from 1948 onward, revolution was in full swing on capitalism's periphery, while in the imperialist centres the workers movement was, or appeared to be, at a lower ebb than ever before in its entire history. And finally, in the countries where capitalism had been overthrown, the bureaucracy seemed to be entrenched, with the working class passively submitting to its domination
A capitalism deprived of its colonies yet flourishing more than ever, with a working class shorn of political aspirations and almost exclusively preoccupied with its standard of living; in the workers states an extension of the new relationships of production, with bureaucratic domination maintained and without any workers' mobilisations; in the colonial countries a revolutionary upsurge, based essentially on the peasantry -- all this largely explains the proliferation of theories denying, in one way or another, the historical mission of the proletariat as formulated by Marx
The crises in the Trotskyist movement
Objectively, the splits were caused in large measure by the fact that differences on analyses or on the orientations to follow in order to build the revolutionary party (organizational questions) were rendered all the more acute because the organisation was numerically weak, with very weak roots in the masses. Most often the differences boiled down to opposition on the tactics to adopt to overcome that precise situation. - Behind crisis on organizational questions lies the profound crisis of Marxism.
Numerous splits are manifestations of crisis in Tr. movement. This crisis in turn is a manifestation of crisis of Marxist theory and practice.
The Third World Congress (1951)
As already mentioned, the break between the Kremlin and the Yugoslav leadership occurred right after our Second World Congress.
Tr. support Tito:
The Trotskyist organisations very quickly mobilised to help the Yugoslav revolution answer the torrent of slander emanating from Moscow and the Communist parties. Campaigns were launched in numerous countries. Leaflets, pamphlets, meetings were used in the fight against Stalinism. In several countries it was the Fourth International's organisations that initiated the youth brigades that went to Yugoslavia -- brigades of inquiry, support and work in the service of the Yugoslav revolution. These brigades were relatively successful, with an enrollment of several thousand young people. For Stalinism, the Yugoslav affair was a wound that never healed.
For a short period, the sections of the Fourth International, profiting from the Yugoslav crisis, became stronger. But this process was interrupted during 1950 when, at the beginning of the Korean war, the Yugoslav leadership -- which until then had made progress in many areas of domestic policy (self-management, etc.) and in its criticism of part of the Stalinist past -- took a disgraceful position on the international scene. In the United Nations General Assembly, Yugoslavia voted for UN military intervention against North Korea. This position succeeded in alienating many of Yugoslavia's defenders. The hopes of recruiting a larger revolutionary vanguard because of the Soviet-Yugoslav dispute were thus destroyed, until such time as the crisis of Stalinism would erupt elsewhere.
Problem #6: attitude to Tito, Yugoslavia. Attitude to other socialist (?) revolutions after WWII.
A plenum of the International Executive Committee held in November 1950 decided to convoke the Third World Congress. This plenum adopted theses on the international perspectives of the Fourth International to be submitted for discussion prior to the Congress, which was held in August 1951. These theses were adopted without any serious opposition, except for that of the majority of the French section. – What was the opposition?
Seventy-four delegates from twenty-five different countries attended the Third Congress. The main document the congress adopted, by a vote of 39 to 3 with one abstention, consisted of 'Theses on the International Perspectives and the Orientation of the Fourth International'. These theses were devoted to an examination of the international situation where, with the victory of the Chinese revolution, the global relationship of forces had developed to the disadvantage of world capitalism and in favour of the socialist cause. They began by stressing the increasing preparations of various kinds being made at that time for a new world war: the creation and delineation of alliances, the 'cold war', the armaments race, etc. The theses did not dismiss the possibility of temporary compromises between the United States and the Soviet Union, above all because of the Kremlin's conservative policy, but they projected such a new world war in the relatively near future. They added that, by its nature, this war would be a 'war-revolution', in which an imperialist victory would be problematical. Linked to this perspective on the war was the point of view that the arms race economy would have catastrophic consequences on the economic situation: inflation, lowering of the workers' standard of living, etc.
Restating a document adopted by a session of the International Executive Committee held in April 1949, the resolution characterised the East European states as 'bureaucratically deformed workers states'. Unlike the Soviet Union, a workers state born of a proletarian revolution but which had bureaucratically degenerated, these states were essentially a result of the Kremlin's military-bureaucratic intervention, supported at best by a limited and bureaucratic mobilisation of the masses. These 'people's democracies' had never experienced a true revolution and were born with bureaucratic deformations.
at a subsequent plenum (February 1952) the International Executive Committee adopted a resolution on tactics for building Marxist revolutionary parties, for the first time generalising and enlarging on the concept of 'entryism' in a certain number of mass Communist or Socialist parties. This new entryist tactic took its inspiration from examples or tactics previously advocated by Lenin and Trotsky, as well as from the line followed by Marx in 1848 in the German revolution and later during the formation of the First International. – so, Marx, Lenin... Lier!
Entryism makes no sense because the whole theory after WWII is in crisis, is wrong.
The 'entryist' tactic was elaborated precisely because of a combination of circumstances never experienced by revolutionary Marxists in the past: they existed in extremely small numbers, had very limited means of propaganda, and faced parties which encompassed the overwhelming majority of the class, depriving them almost of the right to exist
Chapter 7: Splits and Reunification (1953-68)
In the months following the Third World Congress, relationships between the International and the majority of the French section, which kept refusing to implement the congress's decisions, deteriorated to such an extent that in the middle of 1952 a split took place in the PCI. This split was not to end there: the two organisations claiming to be the French section of the Fourth International soon had their own splits. Disciplinary measures were taken by the International, with the approval of those who, the very next year, would join with those who had been expelled to form the International Committee. Doesn’t explain, hence hides, the nature of the disagreement between the International and the French section. A cover up.
The decisive factor in the split was an internal crisis within the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the American Trotskyist organisation. At that time the situation in the United States was growing more and more difficult for the vanguard. McCarthyism was on the rise. While a majority of the American organisation maintained fundamental Trotskyist positions, a strong minority was searching for a new path. Without stating its essential positions -- at least in those of its published documents known to the International -- this minority seized upon the Third World Congress's theses and subsequent documents of the International (particularly a discussion document on Stalinism, drawn up in preparation for the next world congress) as weapons in its fight against the majority of the American organisation.
When this internal struggle ended in a split, the majority of the SWP blamed the leadership of the International, with which it disagreed at the time on the question of 'de-Stalinisation'. Moreover, the political differences were overlaid with organisational and even personal suspicions. Finally, there was practically no personal contact, no person-to-person exchange of views, during this period. Thus, without being preceded by an extensive political discussion in the international movement, a split occurred on an international scale. A minority established the 'International Committee of the Fourth International'. As for the SWP minority, no sooner did it break away from the party than it publicly expressed liquidationist positions and openly fought the Fourth International.