APPEAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A LEFT TENDENCY IN THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL FOR THE XIII WORLD CONGRESS
Franco Grisolia, Laura Guidetti, Tiziana Mantovani, Francesco Ricci (NC members,
AQI/Italy); Jette Kromann (CC Member, SAP/Denmark)
9 May 1990
We are submitting this document for discussion and vote at the XIII World Congress of the Fourth International. The formal reference is to point 8 of the agenda, on the functioning of the leadership bodies. The signatories, members of the leading bodies of the Italian and Danish sections, are forming an international tendency on this basis.
We invite comrades who agree with the general line of this document to join the tendency.
Note: The following text has been reduced to the limits (which, to tell the truth, are in our opinion rather...limited) established for the Congress on the basis of a first, longer version (about 78,000 characters). This has resulted -- in a document which deals with such broad questions -- in a certain schematism and the lack of many explanatory examples that were contained in the original draft. We apologize for this and hope that comrades will make a judgement (whether positive or negative) on the general content and not on the limits of the form of the document.
"The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership."
This central affirmation of the Transitional Program retains all its validity.
Every important event in the world reminds us of the urgency of a proletarian solution, but this appears to be unrebecause of the immaturity of the proletariat and its vanguard.
Today, as during the 1930s, the defeat of most of the revolutionary movements thrown up by the proletariat and the oppressed masses has not been a consequence of the bourgeoisie's intrinsic strength, but rather due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership capable of playing a similar role to the Bolsheviks in 1917, and the proletariat's illusions in the traditional petty-bourgeois leaderships.
The gigantic upheaval that convulsed Eastern Europe in 1989 underlined how this contradiction is expressed even more sharply in the framework of mass struggle against Stalinist bureaucratic rule.
To the continuing historical contradiction between the maturity of the objective conditions and the immaturity of the proletariat and its vanguard, another central element of crisis is added, which increases the gravity of the contradiction: the crisis inside the orproletarian vanguard nucleus itself, the crisis of the Fourth International.
This crisis is both political and organizational.
A political crisis, because our movement has not been able to elaborate an adequate analysis of the real development of revolutionary processes, to develop a coherent policy from such an analysis, or to defend the perspective of building the International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution.
An organizational crisis, which has been the consequence of the inability to elaborate a coherent political line and which, since the disastrous 1953 split, has produced a number of splits in the International and its sections, to which should be added those that have taken place in the forces born out of the splits.
Unlike the 1930s and 1940s, when problems in building the International essentially flowed from objective factors, today -- and for a long time -- the crisis of the International mainly, although not exclusively, flows from its subjective political deficiencies. This situation must be changed radically.
The International leadership gives us no pointers in this direction, however. On the contrary, it is carrying out a policy that can only aggravate the crisis of our organization.
The policy of the International these last decades has been nothing but error after error of analysis, strategy and tactics.
Only taking the last 20 years, there have been a series of political zigzags. Between 1968 and 1972, the International adapted to the petty-bourgeois "leftism" dominant in the radicalized sectors of youth and students. In Latin America, the disastrous perspective of vanguard guerillaism was adopted, at least abstractly. The principal result of this orientation was the building of the Argentinian ERP, whose negative role in the class struggle it is not necessary to dwell on. In many countries, work in the mass workers' organizations was neglected.
This policy was replaced in 1973-77 by a new line, an elaboration of the old one in new conditions. This line asserted that a period of "imminent clashes" was opening up for the next four to five years before the decisive revolutionary confrontation. There was not enough time to complete the building of a real revolutionary party. Its place must be taken by a substitute, the so-called "new vanguards with mass influence," that is, the jumble of centrist and spontaneist organizations produced by the youth radicalization of the previous period. The Leninist conception of the Marxist party and its role was thrown into the dustbin.
As always, history decided. Revolutionary crises touched various countries, but they were not generalized on a continental scale, either in Europe or in Latin America. The "new vanguards with mass influence" revealed themselves to be a total failure, and history confirmed once more that without a real Leninist party rooted in the laboring masses the victory of the socialist revolution is impossible.
The total defeat of the perspective that came out of the 1974 World Congress was behind the major turn of 1977. The framework of this turn was determined by the long factional struggle that had divided the International since 1969. In this struggle, the politically revisionist and potentially liquidationist majority line was defeated by that of the leadership of the SWP/US and its allies -- a line that was seemingly more "orthodox," but in reality more "democratist" and more classically revisionist. The opportunism of this policy was revealed by events such as the Portuguese revolution of 1974-75 and the Argentinian crisis of 1975-76.
It was in a certain sense inevitable that the International majority, by drawing only a partial balance sheet of the policy it had followed since 1968, adapted to the opposing policy put forward by the previous minority, and even to pressures exerted by the intervention of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI, "Lambertist") in the crisis of the International. It should be added that, as for the Lambertists, they proved in practice the "orthodoxy" of their policy by rallying to the side of the "democratic" counterrevolution in Portugal even more overtly than the SWP/US.
In place of "leftism" and "vanguardism," the International majority exhumed the old, classically centrist concepts of "unity of the workers' movement" as a strategy, "unconditional" support for the formation of national or local "left" governments, and adaptation to the bureaucratic reformist left in the trade unions and parties.
With a few minor changes, the 1979 World Congress consolidated the new positions by elaborating a new -- and yet another wrong -- project for building the International, the semi-Lambertist model being proposed again today by the tendency of Matti, Mathieu, Clarke and Hudson.
If the 1969, 1974 and 1979 Congresses had expressed political lines that, although wrong, tended to develop the activity of the International, the last Congress (1985) was not able to indicate any line of activity and party-building for the International and its sections. The generalized schematism of the previous periods was transformed into its opposite: the absence of any general indication and the development of an almost exclusively analytic discussion.
During these years, almost no International resolution led to politico-organizational conclusions. Organizational federalism was the dominant concept in the political life of the International. There was no indication of a perspective of party-building.
In such a situation, the risks of dissolution and degeneration worsened in several countries, for example, in France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.
In France, the LCR majority has created all the premises for its liquidation in a reformist swamp, thanks to its policy of acritical support for Juquin. We have to thank Juquin's electoral and political defeat for the fact the leading section of the International was able to escape political oblivion.
In Switzerland, the section advocated a "Juquinist" policy with an attempt to create a "red-green" party.
In Germany, all possibility of positively exploiting the unification with the KPD in order to bring its members towards Trotskyism was frustrated by the leadership of the ex-GIM, which first accepted the concept of "individual" Fourth International membership and later tried to block all concrete developments towards political clarification. Only the positive reaction of the majority of the ex-GIM members and the consequent political struggle inside the Inprekorr tendency brought a halt to the process of degeneration and disintegration.
In Belgium, the section even came to propose unification with the PTB, an organization of Maoist-Stalinist origin which describes Trotskyism as "counterrevolutionary."
These are only a few examples which prove that the lack of a coherent and correct party-building line for the International leads to unacceptable risks for its sections, risks that could translate into big historic defeats, as the recent history of some sections shows.
One example speaks for all the rest: that of Peru. In this country, the long, prestigious tradition of Trotskyism had allowed our movement to win important mass support -- even if this was in the form of political-electoral blocs based on a confused program. The inability to act from the start from a Leninist perspective of building a revolutionary Marxist party as the basis of all electoral and united-front tactics, as well as the harmful division of the Trotskyist forces, had already reduced the size of this support. But the PRT, the final product of a regroupment process into a single section of the International, remained a force with significant prestige and implantation in the most advanced sectors of the Peruvian masses.
However, the majority of the PRT leadership was unable to resist the electoral success of the reformist-centrist coalition (Izquierda Unida) and to understand that the revolutionary road passed through maintaining the PRT and its independent activity, even if this was against the stream. Thus, through opportunist fears of finding itself isolated from the "objective dynamic" of the mass movement, the leadership caused the party to split, capitulate to centrism and reformism, and, finally, to dissolve and liquidate itself. If we look at the situation two years ago, when our comrades found themselves at the head of political-electoral movements that won 12 percent of the vote in the national elections, and compare this with the present situation -- nothing (or nearly nothing) -- then it is possible to appreciate the tragedy experienced by our International in Peru.
This tragedy has shown us once again that opportunism, adaptation to apparently objective dynamics, and incomprehension of the Leninist approach to party-building -- which trace their origin to the Pabloite method that has never been weeded out of the International -- constitute the most serious danger for our movement.
It is necessary, instead, to develop a new line for building the International that can enable it to face up to the historical tasks it has correctly set itself, since its foundation, by proclaiming itthe "World Party of Socialist Revolution."
But this line for building the International cannot be realized unless there is a break with the policy of the International leadership -- a break not only with its political activity but also with the theoretical-strategic bases of its activity since the 1950s.
It is, therefore, necessary to develop a clear political fight in the International for a profound revision of its policies in counterposition to the present leadership.
To do this, we call on comrades in each section who understand the limitations and deviations of the present policy to organize with us, so that we can jointly establish a left tendency in the Fourth International (United Secretariat), to struggle for the political regeneration of the International.
With this aim, we propose a programmatic platform of 15 points. Inviting all militants of the International who agree with the general line of this platform to join with us, we are ready to discuss and democratically decide particular points on the basis of agreement on the principles.
1) For building the Fourth International as the world leadership of the workers' movement and the oppressed masses; for building its sections as parties with a mass base in every state of the world without exception.
The Trotskyist program is the only one that is valid for developing the perspective of world socialist revolution. By incorporating the historical experience of the class struggle, it shows us the principled bases and general strategy for revolutionary struggle. Only the Fourth International concretely acts on the terrain of the world socialist revolution. We must reaffirm the necessity of its development as the new world leadership of the workers' movement and the oppressed masses, as the "World Party of Socialist Revolution."
In this sense, we must develop the process of building the sections of the International as independent parties with a mass base in every state of the world, without exception. Independent of contingent tactics, this goal must be the basis for the activity of Trotskyist militants in every situation, because there can be no substitute for the Fourth International and its sections, either in general or in a single state, because no force outside of Trotskyism has our program for the socialist transformation of the world and the strategy for realizing it.
This is why the International must reject the illusory perspective of building a "new revolutionary international" on the basis of a confused mixture of Trotskyist and centrist positions.
Similarly, on the national level, we must break definitively with all conceptions aiming to build analogous centrist concoctions, presented as the "revolutionary party." A real revolutionary party can and must be only the national section of the Fourth International, based on its program.
2) For a Leninist approach to the mass movements and their leaderships.
The task of the Trotskyist organizations is to be at the vanguard of the mass movements, not to adapt to their limitations and illusions, or, worse yet, to confuse the mass movements with their leaderships and adapt to the latter. The bigger and more radical the movements, the more it is necessary to act as a potential leadership, openly presenting ourselves with our own programmatic positions.
On this ground, the balance sheet of the International is particularly negative. In the name of the "objective dynamic of revolutionary processes," we have adapted to all sorts of opportunist leaderships. This happened in Poland in relation to the Solidarnosc leadership and the KOR in the course of their social-democratization, particularly during the first phase of the revolutionary crisis of 1980-81. It also happened in South Africa, where the International, in the name of a misguided "nonsectarian solidarity," did not recognize the need for political opposition to the ANC leadership and its program.
In some cases, this attitude towards the leaderships of the mass movements led to adaptation to counterrevolutionary forces. For example, in the Iranian revolution, during the revolutionary phase of 1978-80, the leadership of our movement objectively supported the Khomeini leadership, going as far as to break off political relations and isolate the Iranian section, the Socialist Workers Party (HKS), because it defended revolutionary Leninist positions in the process underway, and to support a group, the Revolutionary Workers Party (HKE), which had developed a counterrevolutionary policy to the point of supporting the Islamic reaction against forces of the workers' movement and the left.
The false conception at the root of such opportunistic attitudes must be rejected. Certainly, revolutionary processes are marked by an objective dynamic tending to lead the mass movement to go beyond its initial demands towards the perspective of taking power and of socialist revolution. But it is precisely this dynamic that revolutionary parties must be able to grasp in order to lead it, against all the other reformist, centrist or nationalist forces. If not, these latter will capture the dynamic of the movement so as to derail and destroy it.
This is the great lesson of the Bolshevik attitude that permitted the revolutionary victory in 1917. The present policy of the leadership of the International, on the contrary, could be compared to that of some leaders of the Bolshevik Party (Kamenev, Stalin, etc.) before Lenin's return to Russia.
We must eliminate this fundamental deviation and return to the policy of Marx (see his 1850 "Address to the Communist League"), Lenin and Trotsky, to the traditional revolutionary Marxist policy of struggling for the leadership of the revolutionary movement, right from the start, against all the other political forces and their opportunist, reformist or nationalist leaderships.
3) For the defense of the socialist program on a world scale and the theory of permanent revolution.
Our program has a precise goal: building the World Republic of Workers' Councils as the supreme form of realization of the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the basis of the principles and structures of real socialist democracy.
This perspective is based on the general theory of "permanent revolution."
The theory of permanent revolution is not simply an analytical schema of an "objective process," but indicates to revolutionary Marxists the strategy of the struggle for power. It links the perspective for the realization of proletarian power with the process of development of the transition to socialism.
It is, therefore, counterposed to all versions of revolution "by stages," all conceptions of "democratic dictatorship," and all hypotheses of the self-limitation of the tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It reaffirms this central conception of our movement and, at the same time, the impossibility of building socialism in one country.
The international nature of the revolution, its permanent character, and the development of the transition to socialism are completely interconnected.
In the International, the theory of permanent revolution has been subjected to a hard, double attack: an overt attack, developed by the SWP/US, and a disguised but nonetheless real one by the majority of the leadership, as expressed, for example, in the positions adopted by the 1985 World Congress on the nature of the Nicaraguan state as a workers' state.
The theoretical bases of this position were expressed in a document by comrade Jaber ("Révolution prolétarienne et dictature du prolétariat" ["Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat"], Quatrième Internationale, series 3, no. 15, November 1984). Starting from a critique of the conception of the SWP/US, according to which "the class nature of the state remains capitalist as long as capitalist property relations predominate" -- a nondialectical position that does not take into account the transitional phase between the initial conquest of proletarian power with the rupture of the old bourgeois state and the development of a socialized economy -- Jaber's theory (and that of the International) ends up denying the centrality both of the forms of realization of the new power and of the development of socialist measures as an irreplaceable feature of the revolutionary process, which effectively gives it a permanent character.
Against these revisionist conceptions, we must reaffirm the following principles:
1) A true dictatorship of the proletariat is a regime that not only destroys the old state apparatus, but also creates a new one based on organs of proletarian power, generally in the form of councils (leaving aside the specificities of particular national revolutions);
2) Whatever the rhythm of development of socialist measures, the proletarian dictatorship inevitably initiates a transitional economic phase. On the other hand, a regime that destroys the old state apparatus but does not create a proletarian power structure is not a real dictatorship of the proletariat. This has been verified during the past few decades by the formation of radical petty-bourgeois regimes. Such a regime can only transform itself into a deformed workers' state -- qualitatively different from a true dictatorship of the proletariat -- if it manages to liquidate the bourgeoisie economically.
4) No capitulation to radical nationalist forces.
Radical nationalist forces, even the most left-wing, have a petty-bourgeois nature and program opposed to the revolutionary socialist program. This is why the policy of revolutionary Marxists towards these forces must be that of the "anti-imperialist united front" against reaction and imperialism, while, on a more general level, we remain the adversaries of radical nationalism.
Our task vis à vis radical nationalist regimes is to represent the proletarian opposition in struggle for a real socialist revolution that gives power to workers', peasants' and people's councils and initiates the phase of the transition to socialism.
Revolutionary Marxists must place unconditional defense of the social transformations realized by petty-bourgeois revolutionary regimes in this framework. Moreover, it is obvious that the completion and definitive consolidation of these conquests can only be assured by the transfer of power from the petty-bourgeois democracy to the proletariat with the establishment of a workers' state.
The policy of our International is a long way from these positions. We have seen this in the past with the support for the Ben Bella regime in Algeria. The same error was repeated with political support for the Sandinista regime. The situation must be radically changed by reaffirming a revolutionary and Marxist policy towards radical petty-bourgeois nationalism.
5) No to the adaptation to bourgeois-nationalist leaderships.
In the name of the "dynamic of the revolution," the leadership of our movement has maintained a policy of adaptation to bourgeois-nationalist leaderships. The clearest example of this attitude was with regard to the Khomeini movement during the Iranian revolution of 1978-81. The International leadership even betrayed the Iranian comrades of the HKS. It broke off relations with this section of the International because it maintained a consistently Leninist and revolutionary line. The comrades were isolated, and Inprecor censured their positions for years. On the other hand, the so-called Iranian "Revolutionary Workers Party" (HKE), whose counterrevolutionary policies led it to support the repression of the forces of the reformist left, was presented as "Trotskyist."
The International's later "self-criticism" implied by the break with the HKE was late (1986!), insufficient and, above all, presented neither to the public opinion of workers nor to all the militants in the International. We demand, on the contrary, a clear and public balance sheet on this question, as well as an open discussion on the roots of this political attitude.
In general, we reaffirm that our policy must be one of intransigent opposition to bourgeois-nationalist leaderships. Against imperialism and its most direct agents, it is possible to carry out a policy of specific tactical accords, but not of a long-term bloc or alliance, and still less of political support for bourgeois nationalism of any kind.
To justify another policy in the name of the "anti-imperialist united front" is a fraudulent mystification of the real character of the anti-imperialist united front. This can and must be, as Trotsky said, "a bloc of the workers, peasants and the petty bourgeoisie...directed not only against imperialism and feudalism, but also against the national bourgeoisie, which is bound up with them in all basic questions" ("The Revolution in India, Its Tasks and Dangers," May 1930).
6) No to adaptation to the reformist leaderships of the workers' movement.
The reformist parties, both traditional social-democratic and of Stalinist origin, who represent the main leaderships of the workers' movement in most capitalist states and, in particular, in the imperialist countries, act as agents of the bourgeoisie inside the workers' movement. They, therefore, have a dual nature, worker and bourgeois -- bourgeois workers' parties.
In the last few decades, the links of the social-democratic parties with the bourgeoisie and its state generally have been strengthened. The reformist parties of Stalinist origin -- as opposed to the social-democratic parties -- historically have had an indirect link with the bourgeoisie, a link determined and mediated by the policies of the ruling caste in the USSR. Due to the development of the crisis of Stalinism, the Communist Parties that have a significant role are going on to develop direct links with their own bourgeoisie, succeeding in some cases in completing their process of social-democratization.
Our position in relation to the reformist organizations must start from their nature as bourgeois workers' parties, agents of the opponent class. Our counterposition to the reformist apparatuses must be clear. Our conscious goal is their political destruction.
We can develop united-front activity with the reformist parties, but only as a tactic linked to precise political goals, and not as a strategy. We must reject the policy that has led several sections of the International, since the end of the 1970s, to adapt to reformist forces in the name of a supposed strategy of "class unity."
7) For a clear political fight against centrism and left-reformism. No to "the unity of revolutionaries" and to the party "to left of the left." Yes to "revolutionary regroupment" on the basis of the Trotskyist program.
The goal of our activity is to build consistently revolutionary parties, parties founded on the Trotskyist program.
Centrist and left-reformist forces do not constitute the basis for the development of a revolutionary alterative. On the contrary, they represent major obstacles on the road to building real revolutionary parties.
For this reason, we must set as our task the political destruction of the centrist and left-reformist organizations and tendencies and the winning over of their militants. We must reject the policy of the so-called "unity of revolutionaries," according to which revolutionary parties can arise from fusions around vague programs and strategies, or "compromises" between Trotskyism and centrism.
The policy of the International must also be changed in relation to left-reformism. All liquidationist hypotheses must be rejected, such as those developed by the majority of the French LCR towards the split of the Communist Party "rénovateurs" and Juquin's subsequent electoral campaign.
We must refuse to consider left-reformism a legitimate expression of the working class and its historic interests.
We must reject the anti-Leninist conception that our goal is to build a united party of "legitimate tendencies" in the workers' movement.
In the same way, we must reject the perspective of building a party "to the left of the left." This vague and confused formula has been used in particular by the majority of the French LCR to justify its liquidationist hypotheses, first in the "alternative" space, then in the Juquinist movement, and afterwards, in practice, in new -- and not better -- versions of left-reformism.
8) For the political revolution against all Stalinist regimes. For the democracy of workers' councils against Stalinist Bonapartism and "parliamentary democracy." For the defense of the program of international revolution against all theories of socialism in one country. Against "market socialism" and illusions in "self-management." For a democratically planned economy on an international scale.
Any state based on forms of collectivized property but lacking structures of proletarian democracy, without pluralism for working-class political forces -- in particular, for our movement -- and ruled by a regime outside popular control, is a degenerated or deformed workers' state, and its ruling power is a Stalinist regime.
The essential question for making such a judgement is not the quantity of material privileges that the bureaucracy enjoys, but the political structure with which we are confronted. This shows the completely wrong attitude historically taken by our International leadership towards the Castro regime.
In fact, Cuba became a deformed workers' state at the time of its social transformation in 1960. Right from the start, it lacked any element of workers' democracy and proletarian pluralism. In this sense, a political revolution has always been needed.
In any case, the initial "heroic" period of Castroism is long past now, and today the need for a political revolution to get rid of the Stalinist Bonaparte Castro should have been long evident to any revolutionary Marxist.
Reaffirming the need for a real political revolution against the regimes of all the degenerated and deformed workers' states is essential, given the present general crisis of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Faced with the confused mixture of aspects of political revolution, self-reform of the bureaucracy, and social counterrevolution developing in the "world of real socialism," we must reaffirm clearly our program of proletarian democracy, based on the power of workers' councils. We must avoid any appearance of supporting reformist solutions -- even radical ones -- in the framework of the old power structures.
At the same time, we must openly combat petty-bourgeois demoillusions in parliamentarism of the "Western" type. Above all, we must develop a clear political struggle with the various left-reformist or centrist forces with which we are in contact in the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. We must defend the conception of council democracy as a programmatic dividing line in our struggle to build Trotskyist parties in these states. We must reject centrist positions that try to put forward confused combinations of bourgeois parliamentarism and workers' councils.
Starting from the economic roots of the crisis of Stalinism, we must openly defend the historical fight of our movement against the conception of "socialism in one country," reaffirming clearly that the solution to the economic problems of the deformed and degenerated workers' states resides not only in the defense of the economic bases of these countries against attempts at capitalist restoration, but also in the development of the international socialist revolution.
We must develop a clear polemic not only against "market socialism," but also against illusions in "self-management." "Workers' self-management," understood as decentralization of the economy and rule by the workers of each individual enterprise or sector, is a petty-bourgeois syndicalist utopia.
To the bureaucratic planning of "socialism in one country," we must counterpose instead democratically centralized planning -- or, in the words of Trotsky, "the democracy of producers and consumers."
9) For utilization of the method of the Transitional Program in intervention in the mass movements.
From a general point of view, the basic concept of the method of transitional demands remains that indicated in the Transitional Program.
Today, the great majority of the proletariat and oppressed masses is not revolutionary, whereas the political and social crisis has only one progressive solution: the taking of power by the proletariat.
It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demands 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.
There has been a tendency in the International at times to lose sight of the general value of the method of transitional demands and to abandon it as a general system of intervention in the mass struggle. There is a tendency to consider transitional demands simply as the "most radical" demands that can be used on occasions when it is necessary to have a higher political profile.
There is a tendency to forget the general methodological significance and the importance of using transitional demands, as a form of agitation where the objective situation and our forces allow it, but also -- and always -- as a form of propaganda, as a necessary tool to advance our revolutionary project among the masses.
We must constantly reflect and elaborate on the transitional theme. We must develop this in all arenas of our political intervention, both in the class struggle and in all other sectors of our intervention. In every arena, our task is to develop programs based on transitional demands.
In this, we must avoid, first of all, a minimalist approach or, worse, an approach of purely acritical support for the minimal demands initially expressed by the mass movements. We also must avoid a method that has characterized our policy in the past, which claims that we can single out one "explosive demand" that has a unique and central value for our work in the class struggle.
Any demand, however important, has an "explosive" value only insofar as it is inscribed in a system of transitional demands. In this system, a central aspect must be the democratic and alternative self-organization of the masses in committees of workers' control, strike committees, councils of action, etc., which pose concretely the question defined by Trotsky in the Transitional Program as the one that "crowns the program of transitional demands," that is, "the slogan of soviets."
10) For a Leninist united-front policy.
The struggle for the united front of the organizations of the workers' movement is a central aspect of Leninist policy. Trotskyists struggle for the unity of the proletariat and the oppressed masses around anticapitalist demands. This means struggling to get tactical agreements, including wide-ranging ones, with the opportunist organizations of the workers' movement and petty-bourgeois nationalist ones in the oppressed nations.
The object of such a policy is to win partial victories, both defensive and offensive, against the bourgeoisie, but also to counterpose the anti-imperialist aspirations of the proletarian base of the reformist and centrist organizations to the policy of the tops, to encourage the process of revolutionary regroupment, and to develop the consciousness of the masses.
The policy of the united front has often been distorted in an opportunist way, repeating on innumerable occasions the attitude Trotsky justly considered to be a characteristic of centrism:
A centrist swears readily by the policy of the united front, emptying it of its revolutionary content, transforming it from a tactical method into a supreme principle ("Centrism and the Fourth International," February 1934).
It is, therefore, necessary to reaffirm some fundamental principles of the question:
a) The united front has for us a tactical and not a strategic character;
b) A central aspect of the united-front tactic is the struggle for Trotskyist hegemony -- political and, if possible, organizational -- in the united front itself;
c) The united front must be developed around concrete demands or around programs of action, and in no case may it become a "propaganda bloc."
These principled positions have been abandoned by our movement. The rejection of the Leninist policy of the united front for a centrist conception of "strategic unity" reached its height in the years 1977 to 1983, but these errors still have not been completely overcome. We still have a policy of unprincipled oscillations, and some sections have maintained a policy based on the conception of "unity of the workers' movement," viewed as a strategic goal for Trotskyists.
In this area, too, it is necessary to return to the original revolutionary method of Leninism.
11) For building class-conscious and revolutionary oppositions around a program of transitional demands in the trade unions and other mass organizations.
The general goal of revolutionary Marxists for workers' trade unions and other mass organizations of the oppressed sectors is to transform them into auxiliary instruments of the socialist revolution. To achieve this, we must build class-conscious currents in such organizations based on a program of transitional demands.
Our objective in the unions is not reduced to building vague "lefts," basically with left sections of the bureaucracy.
To be clear: it is politically correct and necessary to participate in all serious trade-union opposition currents, both class-struggle currents and "trade-union lefts" led by "progressive bureaucrats." But we have to struggle to transform them into real revolutionary trade-union factions. Consequently, we must reject any adaptationist approach to the existing situation and to the present leaderships. We must reject any conception that sees these structures as simply "united fronts" within which it is only necessary to seek out compromises on the basis of the "lowest common denominator." On the contrary, we must develop a struggle to win the trade-union oppositions and the trade unions in general to our leadership and hence to a revolutionary program of transitional demands.
This method is valid not only in the trade-union organizations of the workers, but in all the mass organizations of the exploited and oppressed sectors in society. It is wrong to make a distinction, in the name of a so-called "specificity," between the method of intervening in these organizations and the method of intervening in the trade-union organizations of the workers.
12) For full recognition of the "special oppression" of the majority of humanity, starting with women's oppression. For intervention in the "specially oppressed" sectors with the method of the Transitional Program.
The majority of humanity suffers forms of oppression of a specific type that cannot be reduced simply to class oppression.
First of all, there is the age-old special oppression of women.
On this question, our movement has produced excellent documents of analysis and reflection. From there, we must develop our theoretical analysis and our work carried out on that basis into a coherent general political activity, both outside and inside our organization.
Outside, we must struggle to establish autonomous, mass, united women's organizations, in which we must lead the fight to link the women question with a socialist perspective. We must develop fully the theme of women's liberation in the various sectors of our intervention, constantly including it in our propaganda and agitation around immediate or transitional demands.
Inside the International and its various sections, it is necessary to develop the fight for a real feminization of the leading bodies, of political life, and of political activity.
In addition to women, other sectors, of both sexes of humanity, suffer from various specific forms of special oppression.
First there are ethnic minorities and immigrant workers and their families, who suffer the consequences of the continuing growth of racism. In addition, there are the disabled, gay men and lesbians, the young, and the old.
Considering the proletariat in the broadest sense, its majority is made up of people who suffer from one or more forms of "special oppression."
In order to unite the proletariat, to create a strategic alliance between it and all the oppressed sectors, to create the conditions for liberating the whole of humanity, it is necessary to develop both work specific to the different oppressed sectors and general work around their particular oppression.
This means a dual struggle.
First, we must fight inside the workers' movement against reactionary positions that deny the importance of special oppression or that directly support, ideologically or in action, the various forms of oppression.
Second, we must fight against the petty-bourgeois -- or, in some cases, bourgeois -- leaderships and ideologies that can be found at the head of the movements of the specially oppressed sectors. In particular, we must fight against illusions in the possibility of a real and complete liberation from oppression that is not based on the revolutionary transformation of society, which is not sufficient but certainly is necessary for the elimination of all types of oppression.
Starting from the theoretical acquisitions of our movement and developing them, we must translate this into a line for political intervention.
This cannot be based either on economist minimalism or on simple solidarity, but on the transitional method. We must formulate specific transitional programs for the different oppressed sectors, intervene around these programs, and try in this way to build ourselves as political leadership of the movements of the specially oppressed sectors and their organizations.
13) For a Leninist electoral policy.
The Fourth International cannot consider the electoral question as purely and simply a tactical question.
Certainly, the concrete choices made about forms of presentation, when to stand candidates, etc., are tactical. But, methodologically, the electoral question implies for us general elements of a principled character.
Revolutionary Marxism historically has singled out elections as an essential moment for getting in touch with the level of consciousness of the masses, a moment in which the revolutionary party or organization must try to present its own program and its whole political alternative to the broadest possible sectors of the masses.
This implies, as a general rule, the independent presentation of the parties of the Fourth International. If this turns out to be impossible for organizational, technical or financial reasons, we could give critical support to one or more slates of the reformist, centrist or petty-bourgeois nationalist parties, trying with this tactic to develop revolutionary propaganda work, particularly among the ranks of the forces we are supporting.
What is unacceptable, however, is a common slate with other forces -- reformist, centrist or petty-bourgeois nationalist -- on a compromise program, in the name of a "revolutionary alliance," a "workers' united front," or an "anti-imperialist united front." In fact, that could only tend to eliminate the alternative programmatic identity of the revolutionary Marxist party or organization in the eyes of the masses.
This principle -- the rejection of the centrist policy of electoral propaganda blocs -- has a long tradition in our movement. Trotsky clearly expressed this position with regard to the German presidential elections of 1932, counterposing it to the centrist policy of the SAP, the KPDO (Brandler) and the Leninbund (Urbahns) (see his pamphlet "What Next?").
Exceptions to this rule are possible in cases in which the Trotskyist organization is working in another party or carrying out an entry; or because the whole or the majority of the working class and its political tendencies have been regrouped in an oranized united front (for example, the Labour Party in Britain or the Workers Party in Brazil); or when a joint electoral slate is an expression of a regroupment process; or finally, because of the crisis of the Fourth International and the consequent existence of different Trotskyist organizations in a particular situation.
It is obviously necessary to be flexible and attentive to the technical modalities of elections (possibilities of standing down, etc.), but in any case electoral propaganda blocs should always be rejected.
The policy of the International and of many sections, however, is marked by the centrist line which Trotsky criticized. On multiple occasions, political blocs have been made with centrist or reformist forces.
It should be underlined that the results of such a policy have been either disastrous -- for example, in Peru -- or, in any case, negative. But where we have chosen a policy of independently standing candidates, we have gained, in terms of building the section and rapport with the masses.
14) For real democratic centralism.
Democratic centralism is an organizational and political principle of our movement, which has not only a national but also an international value.
Today, however, the structure of our International is only formally democratic-centralist.
In reality, there is a confused situation in which, without a real world political and organizational leadership, there is a tendency towards de facto federalism, only partly limited by some formal elements of democratic centralism. The highest international leading bodies of our organization, on the other hand, have demonstrated the use of their formal powers in political maneuvering, not in methods proper to democratic centralism.
We could give as examples of this, relations with the Iranian section (HKS) and with the SWP/US.
We must draw a balance sheet of the process of crisis and rupture of the SWP with the International. From this point of view, the last World Congress (1985) further worsened the preexisting situation.
The concept of the International as an "Internaof sections"-- as opposed to an "International of militants" -- has been put forward forcefully, at the same time as the role of the central structures of the International has been weakened in practice and in theoretical terms.
In counterposition to this, the next World Congress must forcefully affirm the following principles and translate them into organizational and statutory terms:
1) The character of the International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution and, thus, since its formation in the 1930s, as an "International of militants," all organized in national sections and all with full democratic rights and the necessary subordination to the decisions of the International;
2) The necessity to build a strong leadership of the International, autonomous of the individual sections, which will be the center both of theoretical elaboration and of political and organizational leadership.
At the same time, it is necessary to realize full respect for democracy inside the International, in particular concerning the rights of international tendencies and factions.
Space must be provided for broader rights of international political discussion and struggle, with the only limits being for reasons of security.
Clear rules must be established, where today confusion reigns. In particular, it is necessary to get statutory clarity on the criteria for election to the international leading bodies, providing proportional criteria for the political discussion and decision-making bodies (IEC and USec), while the strictly executive bodies (Bureau) should take account of the importance of the different positions expressed in the debate at the World Congress.
In this general framework, the determination of the representatives of the different tendencies to the leading bodies should be made by the tendencies themselves.
15) For a policy of revolutionary Trotskyist regroupment.
Our organization must recognize the existence of an acute crisis of the Fourth International.
Beginning in the early 1950s with the victory of Pabloite revisionism at the Third World Congress and the following split, the crisis has developed during the decades since.
The most obvious result of this crisis is the situation of division that afflicts the forces calling themselves Trotskyist.
In many countries, in fact, organizations outside our International are more significant, sometimes much more significant, than our sections. In some cases -- as in Argentina, for example -- important Trotskyist organizations exist, while our International is virtually absent.
The reality is that our organization, although it is the biggest, only assembles in its ranks a minority of the vanguard militants who call themselves Trotskyist.
In reality, no international organization, including ours, can pretend today to be the Fourth International.
We must take account of a situation of organizational fragmentation of the Fourth International, linked to a proof the development and consolidation of revisionist positions inside it.
We must develop a clear course of action to put an end to this situation and arrive at an organizational reconstruction of the Fourth International, which cannot be separated from its political regeneration.
It is, therefore, necessary that our international organization develop a policy of revolutionary Trotskyist regroupment with regard to the most important international Trotskyist currents, indicating clear proposals for reunification with the other forces.
This does not mean avoiding political discussion, nor putting all the forces that call themselves Trotskyist on the same level.
are not proposing to repeat the 1978 experience, when the International tried to develop a process of "cold" fusion with the Lambertist OCRFI, without considering its political nature.
On the contrary, we must develop a broad discusthat clarifies positions and differences and leads, on clear bases, even with different positions, to principled unifications of the forces that, in spite of their present confusion, maintain sufficient links with the Trotskyist program. For example, beyond our organization, the International Workers League (LIT), Lutte Ouvrière of France and its allies, the Argentinian Workers Party and its allies, and tens of other minor organizations, sometimes just national.
In this united framework, on the basis of democratic centralism, it is possible and necessary to develop the struggle to defeat definitively all forms of revisionism and put the Fourth International in a position to fulfill its historic task as the World Party of Socialist Revolution, resolving the crisis of proletarian leadership and with it the historical crisis of humanity.