PRINCIPLES OF THE
INTERNATIONAL TROTSKYIST OPPOSITION
Adopted by the Second International Conference of the
International Trotskyist Opposition
5 September 1998
1. The World Socialist Revolution
The aim of the revolutionary action of Trotskyism is the destruction of capitalist society and the development of socialist society. Only the destruction of capitalism on a world scale will make possible a sufficiently powerful development of the forces of production to permit the liberation of humanity from exploitation, poverty, sexual and social oppression, and inequality; from the deterioration and destruction of natural resources and the environment; and from war and violence -- the products of a society divided into classes.
The abolition of capitalism, the socialization of the means of production and exchange, and the process of constructing socialism presuppose the destruction of the bourgeois state. This is only possible through the armed insurrection of the proletariat -- the only consistently revolutionary class in capitalist society -- drawing behind it the masses of the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie oppressed under capitalism. Only such an insurrection can enable the proletariat to seize political power and to put an end to the inevitable violent resistance by the ruling class and the forces allied with it against the socialist transformation of society.
Trotskyists reject as illusory the expectation of reaching socialism by a peaceful, gradual road as the result of a progressive development of democracy by the action of the proletariat within the framework of the bourgeois state. In the enormous majority of cases such positions mask the desire not to challenge capitalist relations of production and property. Even where they express a genuine anticapitalist impulse, they retain a utopian character and can only lead to the defeat of the proletariat in the face of the violence of the bourgeois state, which history has always shown -- even recently -- will be manifested in the most brutal forms when the bourgeoisie feels its domination of society to be challenged.
At the same time, consistent Trotskyism rejects any revolutionary strategy centered on rural or urban guerrilla war. In fact, such a strategy leads to substituting for the proletariat another class (the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, or the declassed youth) as the driving force of the revolution and so demonstrates its nonsocialist nature. In the same way, Trotskyism rejects the action of terrorist-guerrilla groups which claim to speak in the name of the proletariat. In reality, even when a majority of their members are workers, such groups represent layers cut off from the working class, and their adventurism is a disruptive element among the ranks of the proletariat.
Trotskyism reaffirms the Marxist and Leninist conception according to which the victory of the proletarian revolution can only be achieved if it is actively supported by the political majority of the proletariat in the context of a revolutionary crisis.
2. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat
The proletariat will replace the destroyed bourgeois state apparatus with its own state -- the dictatorship of the proletariat -- based on the organs of soviet democracy: the workers' councils in factories, farms, and neighborhoods, centralized through higher levels of the workers' state. One of the central tasks of the proletarian state will be the struggle against the danger of bureaucratization. The dictatorship of the proletariat will provide for the election and recall of all state officials, whose functions must in no case yield them any special privileges.
Trotskyists must promote the fullest democracy within the workers' state. The concrete methods of operation of proletarian democracy will be determined by the concrete situation of the workers' state. As Trotsky explained:
It is a dictatorship. At the same time it is the only real proletarian democracy. Its breadth and depth depend on concrete historical conditions. The larger the number of states which enter on the road of the socialist revolution, the more the forms of the dictatorship will be free and flexible and the more workers' democracy will be broad and deep.
Our aim is precisely this broad and deep workers' democracy, to the point where the proletariat will be able to extend democratic rights even to the enemies of the revolution and fight against them by political means. But we refuse to bind ourselves in advance by legalistic formulae and schemas, which cannot take into account the concrete development of the revolutionary process and, in particular, the international context.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is a transitional stage which, together with the progressive development of the forces of production, will lead to the extinction of social classes and to socialism. This objective can only be achieved through the international extension of the proletarian revolution and the creation of a world federation of workers' councils. Once socialism has been achieved, the coercive functions of the proletarian dictatorship will diminish, leading to the withering away of the state.
3. The World Party of Socialist Revolution
The attainment of these objectives requires the existence of an international organization which represents the historical interests of the proletariat as the only consistently revolutionary class, based on the theoretical and strategic foundations of scientific socialism, leading the revolutionary process of destroying the bourgeois state and building the world republic of workers' councils. Such an organization, then, can be nothing other than an International, firmly based on the principles of Marxism and Leninism for our time, that is to say, Trotskyism.
National sections of such an International must be created in every country, without exception. The task of the Trotskyist parties is to struggle to raise the proletariat above its spontaneous consciousness -- trade unionist in nature -- to socialist consciousness, the transformation of the "class in itself" into the "class for itself", to combat the bourgeois organizations and the agents of the bourgeoisie within the workers' movement, which today constitute the main leaderships of the workers' movement, as well as all forms of opportunism and adventurism within the mass movement. In these conditions, the maintenance of the political independence of the Trotskyist parties is a basic necessity.
4. The Struggle to Resolve the Crisis of Proletarian Leadership
The social-democratic parties and reformist parties of Stalinist origin, which in most capitalist states, particularly the imperialist states, represent the principal leaderships of the mass movement, constitute agents of the bourgeoisie within the workers' movement (bourgeois workers' parties). The link of these parties with the bourgeoisie and its state is a direct link in the case of the social-democratic parties and an historically indirect link in the case of the Stalinist parties -- that is, a link determined and mediated by the politics of the ruling bureaucratic caste of the USSR or the other degenerated or deformed workers' states. The collapse of international Stalinism at the end of the 1980s has changed the situation. Some parties that in the preceding phase had become progressively independent from the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR and had strengthened their links with their own bourgeoisie ("Euro-Communist" parties) in some cases have transformed themselves into parties of a neo-social-democratic type (the major example is the Italian Communist Party, transforming itself into the Democratic Party of the Left). Others, on the contrary, staying strictly linked to the Russian bureaucracy until the moment of its collapse or blocked in a purely neo-social-democratic evolution by the existence of significant social-democratic parties, have maintained the traditional formal reference to "communism". Nevertheless, their role has not substantially changed. They remain reformist bourgeois workers' parties, agents of the bourgeoisie inside the workers' movement. The policies of the social-democratic parties and reformist parties of Stalinist origin are dedicated to defending the bourgeois state and capitalist property relations. In the oppressed countries, the petty-bourgeois nationalist organizations play a similar role.
Vacillating between reformism and Trotskyism, centrist organizations -- among which the most radical petty-bourgeois nationalist forces and the anarchist-type organizations can be included -- have not in general developed overt and consistent counterrevolutionary activity. But they constitute, with their opportunist policies, a supplementary obstacle to the proletarian revolution.
A task of consistent Trotskyists is to politically defeat the reformist, Stalinist, centrist, and nationalist organizations and to destroy their hegemony and organizational control over the workers' movement, in the process of regrouping around the Trotskyist program the political majority of the proletariat and the broadest possible sectors of other classes oppressed by capitalism. In the same way, consistent Trotskyists struggle to break the masses away from the influence of the reformist and centrist oppositions in the remaining deformed workers' states.
Consistent Trotskyism rejects as revisionist those positions that envisage the transformation of opportunist organizations into "revolutionary leaderships" under the pressure of the mass movement. Similarly, it rejects the conception of the regeneration of the reformist and/or centrist organizations through a process of internal evolution.
Consistent Trotskyism struggles for revolutionary regroupment, that is, for the unification on the programmatic bases of Bolshevism of the forces of the vanguard of the proletariat. For this purpose Trotskyists may adopt -- where conditions call for it -- the tactic of entrism in reformist, centrist, or petty-bourgeois nationalist organizations, with the aim of provoking the break of the subjectively revolutionary members of such organizations from their respective leaderships and achieving their regroupment on Bolshevik bases.
Consistent Trotskyism rejects as revisionist the policy of "revolutionary unity", that is, the position according to which the revolutionary party of the proletariat can be created through fusion on vague bases and as a result of some sort of compromise between Trotskyism and forces of a centrist type. Similarly, Trotskyism rejects deep or "sui generis" entrism, that is, the policy which seeks to reduce the role of Trotskyists to that of pressure groups within the opportunist parties, on the basis of revisionist illusions about the possible evolution of such parties in whole or in part.
5. The Capitalist States
The fundamental dynamics among the capitalist states arise from the interaction of the international proletarian class struggle with both interimperialist rivalries and the contradiction between the imperialist and the oppressed nations. These dynamics express the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, the antagonism between its increasingly socialized, interdependent forces of production and its private relations of production, as ever-intensified throughout the epoch of imperialism by the contradiction between the international character of capitalist production and the restraints of national boundaries.
Under these conditions, the class-collaborationist treachery of the Stalinist bureaucracies has repeatedly been decisive in providing the imperialists with the possibility of avoiding or surviving major defeats and setbacks. Within the colonial and semicolonial world, the treachery of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalist leaderships has played a similar role. As their contradictions have intensified, the imperialist nations have been forced to rely increasingly on the small number of colonial-settler states (South Africa, the Zionist state of Israel) and populations (the "Falkland Islanders") implanted in the midst of semicolonial territories and either imperialist themselves or profoundly dependent on imperialist countries for their survival as privileged enclaves surrounded by oppressed nations and peoples, to assist their efforts to maintain economic dominion over the semicolonial world.
In the present historical epoch, Marxism recognizes decisive distinctions among capitalist nations -- above all, between oppressor and oppressed nations. The various capitalist states fall into certain basic categories, based on qualitative differences among them in the level of development of the productive forces and on the specific relationship of each national economy to the entire imperialist system -- that is, to the world capitalist economy as a whole. By these criteria, we must recognize three types of capitalist nation-states, based on three essentially different levels of economic development:
1. imperialist states;
2. semicolonial states or, in general, those oppressed by imperialism;
3. states with an intermediate level of capitalist development.
The imperialist states (the principal ones being the USA, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy, Canada), dominated by monopolies and finance capital with a supranational character (export of capital), represent the overlords of the world, which they exploit and plunder on the basis of the international division of labor. They thus play the role of oppressor states. In these countries the productive forces have reached a high level of development, and the proletariat constitutes the majority of the working population. In the end, the fate of the socialist revolution is determined by the victory of the proletarian revolution in these imperialist centers.
The semicolonial states, or, in general, those oppressed by imperialism (among which a few small territories remain in a colonial situation), comprise a wide range of social situations. The majority of the states of Asia and all the states of Africa (except South Africa) and Latin America (except Cuba) are in this category, as states in which the degree of development of the productive forces is low. They are in general subjected to imperialist exploitation and pillage. Nearly always, even where the transformations of the international division of labor have led in the past decades to the massive development of the proletariat, particularly the industrial proletariat, there is a strong presence of the agrarian proletariat (agricultural laborers), the nonproletarian sectors exploited and oppressed by capitalism, especially peasants, and finally the semiproletarian sectors: the impoverished masses of the big urban peripheries.
In the oppressed countries, democratic tasks (real national independence, agrarian reform, political democracy, etc.) have a central importance. Trotskyism responds to this situation on the basis of the perspective of permanent revolution. That is, it takes on the task of regrouping, under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard party, the semiproletarian, peasant and, in general, petty-bourgeois masses. It aims at the achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which, realizing democratic tasks, passes without break on to socialist tasks, doing away with the private ownership of the means of production -- with regard not only to imperialism but also to the national bourgeoisie -- and replacing it with a planned economy. Trotskyism, therefore, rejects any conception that sees in the theory of permanent revolution only a description of an objective process. For Trotskyism, permanent revolution is a strategy of action and cannot be realized by any other means.
While the overwhelming majority of capitalist states are either imperialist or dominated and oppressed by imperialism -- colonial or semicolonial -- a very few capitalist states exist which have an intermediate level of development (for example, Portugal). These states have not achieved that level of social development which gives rise to large monopolies and finance capital on a supranational scale -- or, if they have seen the beginning of such development, are in decline in the present situation. Yet neither can they be regarded as colonial or semicolonial countries. Generally speaking, these countries are links in the imperialist chain.
In these states near to the proletariat, there is generally a large presence of peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie. From this there follows the importance of a policy of alliance between the proletariat and the poor peasants and the poorest section of the urban petty bourgeoisie.
Recognition of the existence of nations which are neither imperialist nor oppressed must not be confused with the revisionist theories of "subimperialism", which seek to equate the more developed of the semicolonies (such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, or Iran) with imperialist nations or, at any rate, with the less developed or particularly crisis-ridden imperialist nations, in effect denying or at least blurring the fundamental division of the capitalist world into imperialist and oppressed countries.
The ex-USSR and Eastern European workers' states are progressively inserting themselves into the framework of capitalist nations. In these countries there exists, as a legacy of post-capitalist economy, a strong concentration of the proletariat, particularly the industrial proletariat, which finds itself confronted today with the consequences of capitalist restoration.
Some of these states, the more economically advanced, are in the process of becoming medium-developed capitalist states (albeit at the lowest level of those states). This is the case with Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. At the opposite extreme, Albania finds itself in a neocolonial-type situation. Nevertheless, for many of these states, including Russia, the future role is still indeterminant and will depend of the development of the chaotic national and international polito-economic processes in which they are involved.
6. The Degenerated and Deformed Workers' States
The Russian Revolution of 1917 represented the first consolidated realization of the dictatorship of the proletariat, thereby opening a new historic epoch.
Nevertheless, the backwardness of the socio-economic situation in Russia, the defeat of the international revolution, the consequences for the working class and its vanguard of the civil war 1918-20, and the relative economic difficulties of the new state led to the triumph of a new bureaucratic caste, which had its principal representative in Stalin. Ascending to power in the 1920s and consolidated in the 1930s, the Stalinist bureaucracy had, from that time, become a parasite on the state created by the revolution and the world revolutionary processes. The bureaucracy and/or the political forces linked to it directed and controlled some of these processes, in particular, in the period immediately following the Second World War, all the way to the overthrow of capitalism.
This provoked the birth, alongside the original degenerated workers' state of the USSR (to which should be added Mongolia, socially transformed in close connection with the USSR since the 1920s), of a series of workers' states bureaucratically deformed from their origin.
The degenerated workers' states (USSR, Mongolia) and the deformed workers' states (in the approximate historical order of the overthrow of capitalist property relations: Yugoslavia, Albania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, East Germany, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos) were characterized by the contradiction between the socialized (proletarian) nature of the relations of production -- and therefore of ownership -- and the fact that the proletariat had been robbed of political power by a bureaucratic caste which had a petty-bourgeois character. This caste exercised an oppressive dictatorship over the masses and made use of its dominance to maintain and reinforce the material privileges which it enjoyed by virtue of the bourgeois nature of the relations of distribution. The ruling bureaucracy constituted a fundamental obstacle to further socialist development, and its defense of its material privileges and political power made it an element of fundamental instability, a block to the development of the workers' state, and a vehicle for bringing the pressure exerted by world capitalism into the workers' state itself. Thus, the task of the proletariat was to overthrow, by means of political revolution, the ruling Stalinist bureaucratic caste, whose power tended in the end to place in danger the very social bases of the state.
Trotskyism, therefore, rejected the theory according to which there existed between the workers' state (the dictatorship of the proletariat) and the degenerated workers' state a difference that was only quantitative and not clearly qualitative. Consequently, Trotskyism also rejected the conception of the parasitic bureaucracy as a part of the workers' movement. Further, it rejected as revisionist and liquidationist theories of the possibility of the regeneration of some or all of the degenerated and/or deformed workers' states by an internal process of reform or under the pressure of mass mobilization. All the more, it rejected the revisionist positions that regarded one or more states dominated by a Stalinist bureaucracy (in particular, Cuba) as non-deformed workers' states.
The situation described above was profoundly and dramatically changed from the late 1980s.
In the Transitional Program of 1938 Trotsky affirmed: "The political prognosis has an alternative character: either the bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers' state, will overthrow the new forms of property and plunge the country back to capitalism; or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism".
In the framework of a negative international situation -- characterized also by the absence of a consistently revolutionary international leadership, even if a minority one -- and also because of the weight of many decades of Stalinist oppression on the working class of the degenerated and deformed workers' states, the first hypothesis was realized.
In the face of the ever more serious contradictions of its rule the bureaucracy, in its large majority, placed itself on the terrain of capitalist restoration.
This provoked the collapse in somewhat different forms of the USSR, the deformed workers' states of Eastern Europe, and the degenerated workers' state of Mongolia (to which should be added, in a different polito-historical framework, Cambodia) and the constitution of regimes and state apparatuses of a bourgeois character. These have developed the process of capitalist restoration and created new bourgeois states, characterized in general by an extremely critical economic situation and great political instability.
In other countries (China, Vietnam, Laos) the bureaucracy is trying to develop a restorationist project, avoiding the negative repercussions that occurred in the USSR and Eastern Europe. It is, therefore, developing this process, while at the same time maintaining bureaucratic state control of the process. To the extent that the restorationist process is being realized within the limits and framework of control indicated above, it is necessary to consider these counties still deformed workers' states, but in progressive dissolution and on the road to capitalist restoration, which will necessarily imply a change in the form of political rule.
The Cuban bureaucracy, which would have liked to have maintained the previous situation, was incapable of developing a revolutionary perspective and has resigned itself to following the previous examples of opening a process of restoration and transforming Cuba into a deformed workers' state in dissolution.
Up to now, only North Korea remains a deformed workers' state in the original terms, subordinated to one of the most oppressive Stalinist regimes in history.
7. Wars between States or Nations
In the face of conflicts between diverse states and nations, the positions of consistent Trotskyism are determined as follows:
1. Trotskyism adopts a position of revolutionary defeatism in conflicts between imperialist states, which are caused by the struggle for markets and for economic domination of the world.
2. Trotskyism unconditionally defends the oppressed colonial and semicolonial states or nations over against the imperialist powers and the "intermediate" capitalist states. The unconditional defense of these states in no case signifies political support for the feudal-bourgeois, bourgeois, or petty-bourgeois regimes of the oppressed states.
3. Trotskyism unconditionally defends the right to self-determination of all oppressed nations and their struggle to realize it. In first place, against imperialist oppression, but also against oppression inflicted by other semicolonial states or those, in turn, oppressed by imperialism (for example, Kurdistan by Iran, Iraq, and Syria, as well as by Turkey).
4. Trotskyism unconditionally defends the still-extant deformed workers' states in conflicts between them and capitalist states. Such a position does not in any instance signify political support for the ruling parasitic bureaucracy.
In all cases, Trotskyists seek to exploit the situation created by war in order to overthrow the bourgeoisie or the parasitic bureaucracy and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. They reject the simple pacifism of the "progressive" or "isolationist" bourgeois sectors and, above all, of the sectors of the petty-bourgeois democratic left. The only way to save humanity from war is, in fact, the socialist revolution. In the imperialist countries, in particular, Trotskyists fully affirm the Bolshevik tradition towards the First World War: declaring that the main enemy is in their own country, they fight for the transformation of the imperialist war into class war against their own bourgeoisie.
8. The Transitional Program
The Transitional Program, adopted as the central document of the Founding Congress of the Fourth International in 1938, constitutes a fundamental reference for the action of Trotskyism. Trotskyists defend the method, the strategic indications, and the general tactics of the Transitional Program. It is only on this basis that a revolutionary politics can be built today. Trotskyists reject the revisionist conceptions according to which the Transitional Program is an outdated and superseded historical document or a document whose method alone can be maintained. Such conceptions merely represent a disguised abandonment of the very essence of the Transitional Program as the program of action of Bolshevism. Consistent Trotskyists take on the task of developing and updating the Transitional Program itself in the light of the events since World War II and the contemporary situation.
9. The Struggle for the Workers' Government
The struggle for the workers' (or workers' and peasants') government is a central part of revolutionary strategy. In the general strategic perspective, the term "workers' government" is a popular expression for the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this sense, the workers' government is only realizable as a government of the Trotskyist party or a government that is led by the Trotskyist party. To the extent that the proletarian and peasant masses are not led by the Trotskyist party but are instead led by bourgeois workers' parties or petty-bourgeois nationalist parties, Trotskyists must counterpose to class-collaboration the need for the unity of the whole workers' movement and the masses on the basis of an anticapitalist program -- that is, Trotskyists must advance the perspective of a workers' (or workers' and peasants') government. As the Transitional Program declares:
Of all the parties and organizations which base themselves on the workers and peasants and speak in their name, we demand that they break politically from the bourgeoisie and enter upon the road of struggle for the workers' and farmers' government. On this road we promise them full support against capitalist reaction. At the same time, we indefatigably develop agitation around those transitional demands which should in our opinion form the program of the "workers' and farmers' government".
The essential purpose of this tactic is to counterpose the anticapitalist aspirations of the proletarian and mass base to the counterrevolutionary policies of their petty-bourgeois leaders, in order to facilitate the revolutionary regroupment of the vanguard and to develop the consciousness of the masses and the evolution in a revolutionary direction of the class struggle.
Trotskyists reject the revisionist conception according to which the creation of a "workers' and peasants' government" by the opportunist organizations is an inevitable stage in the development of the struggle for the socialist revolution. Trotskyists put forward the slogan of struggle for a workers' and peasants' government based on an anticapitalist program. We deny on principle any political support to any government -- whether it be a government of bourgeois workers' parties or a petty-bourgeois nationalist government -- that is based on a program of defending private property and the capitalist state, such a government being nothing but a masked form of collaboration with the bourgeoisie. Moreover, even in the exceptional case (but not impossible, as the postwar experience shows) where the petty-bourgeois parties break effectively with the bourgeoisie and form a "workers' and peasants' government", Trotskyists "promise them full support against capitalist reaction" (the above quote from the Transitional Program) but not unconditional political support. The attitude of Trotskyists will always be determined by the central aim of their activity: the creation of a workers' government over which the Trotskyist party has hegemony -- the sole guarantee of the revolutionary continuity of the workers' government.
To this end, we fight on the basis of our program of demands against both capitalist and bureaucratic Stalinist governments for the construction of organs of workers' control of production, workers' self-defense, and workers' power -- factory committees, occupation committees, workers' militias, and soviets. Only on the basis of such organs of dual power can the working class -- led by a revolutionary party -- develop the necessary independent strength to carry through the overthrow of capitalist rule and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
10. The United Front
A. The Proletarian United Front
The tactic of the struggle for the "workers' government" is a central aspect of the larger policy of the united front. In general, Trotskyists fight for the unity of the proletariat and the oppressed masses on the basis of anticapitalist demands. In this context they propose tactical agreements -- even long-term ones -- to the opportunist organizations of the workers' movement. We recognize that only in the fight to win sufficient forces to our program can we hope to force the established leaders of the workers' movement into an alliance with us. The aims of this policy are the same as those indicated for the workers' government tactic: to counterpose the anticapitalist aspirations of the proletarian base to the politics of the leaderships; to facilitate revolutionary regroupment; to develop the consciousness of the masses; and, moreover, to the extent to which the united front is effectively realized, to win partial successes, both defensive and offensive, against the bourgeoisie.
On all occasions where the proletarian united front is actually realized, the aim of the Trotskyist party is to assert its own political hegemony over the united front. Consistent Trotskyism rejects the revisionist positions that transform the united front into a strategy for anticapitalist action, for building the party, or for the proletarian seizure of power, and so renounce the role of the vanguard party. Trotskyists also reject the conception of the establishment of the united front as a positive achievement in itself, without regard to the objectives it is based upon. They also reject united-front agreements that seek to end political struggle between the parties involved.
B. The Anti-Imperialist United Front
In most oppressed countries, where there is a vast presence of poor nonproletarian sectors oppressed by capitalism and democratic demands play a pivotal role, Trotskyists may establish tactical agreements for an anti-imperialist united front with petty-bourgeois nationalist parties or organizations. Within such anti-imperialist united fronts, Trotskyists fight generally for the maximum of unity and leadership of the proletarian forces and, in particular, for the revolutionary leadership of the Trotskyist party.
Consistent Trotskyism rejects the revisionist position that, starting from the nature of the countries oppressed by imperialism and the centrality of the struggle against imperialism, maintains the possibility of establishing anti-imperialist-united-front agreements with the national bourgeoisie of an oppressed country. For Trotskyists, the anti-imperialist united front means, as Trotsky argued, "a bloc of the workers, peasants, and 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", 30 May 1930). To the extent that the parties of the national bourgeoisie actually enter into conflict with imperialism, it is possible to establish limited practical agreements with them -- in order to implement the policy of unconditional defense of the oppressed nations against imperialism -- but never a united-front agreement.
C. The United Front against the Stalinist Bureaucracy
In a manner analogous to that which applies in capitalist countries, in the still-extant deformed workers' states it is possible to establish united-front alliances with reformist and centrist opponents of the Stalinist bureaucracy, although not with proimperialist and capitalist-restorationist elements. Essentially, such a united-front policy is simply an application of the proletarian united front to the special conditions of these countries.
In part, the aim of the united front against the Stalinist bureaucracy is to unite the working class in these countries both against its Stalinist bureaucratic oppressors and in defense of the collectivized property relations against the threats and distortions of the imperialist system, against the bureaucracy's false claims to be the "defender of socialism", and against the bureaucracy's own role in blocking the full development of the collectivized forces of production. And such a united-front policy also has the fundamental aim of facilitating the struggle of Trotskyists to gain leadership of the workers' movement in the deformed workers' states, through winning the political majority of these workers, through their own experience in concrete struggles, from the conceptions of the reformist and centrist leaders to the Trotskyist program of political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy and establish a healthy workers' state based on revolutionary soviets, a struggle which today becomes in immediate terms a struggle for the defense of the workers' state and the socialist conquests against a bureaucracy becoming consciously and completely restorationist.
Further, in those deformed workers' states where large peasant masses suffer along with the working class from the tyranny of the bureaucracy, Trotskyists must fight for united-front alliances between the most oppressed elements of the peasantry and proletarian forces opposing the bureaucracy, in order to win the peasants away from capitalist-restorationist tendencies and to accept the leadership of the working class in a struggle for the rapid, socialist development of agriculture, in a carefully planned relationship with the socialist development of industry.
11. The Proletarian Class Struggle and the Orientation toward the Advanced Workers
The main arena of intervention for revolutionaries is the working class, to win its vanguard to join the revolutionary Marxist party and its political majority to support the party's program and action. Since the elementary form of working-class organization is the trade unions, a central task of Trotskyists is intervention there. In most countries where unions have some degree of independence from the state, they are led by petty-bourgeois bureaucracies -- direct or indirect agents of the bourgeoisie. The central task of Trotskyists is the struggle to remove these bureaucracies from the leadership of the unions and to replace them with a revolutionary leadership which ensures the independence of the unions from the bourgeois state.
In order to achieve their aims within the unions, Trotskyists should organize revolutionary trade union caucuses under their political leadership, open not only to members and sympathizers of revolutionary Marxist parties, but to all consistent class-struggle activists. The program of these caucuses must be based on the general strategic and tactical lines of the Transitional Program. Trotskyists can certainly participate in larger antibureaucratic oppositional groupings in the trade unions ("broad lefts"), but they must see such activity as a transitional step, maintaining their goal of building -- starting from activity in such broad regroupments -- true revolutionary class-struggle trade union caucuses.
Consistent Trotskyism rejects the position that -- since the role of unions is different from that of the revolutionary party (essentially the defense of the proletariat's living and working conditions) -- unions cannot be won to a true revolutionary program but only to militant economic struggle. Trotskyists maintain that, although unions cannot achieve a finished program and full revolutionary activity, unions can and must be transformed into auxiliary organs of proletarian revolution, breaking from both pure trade unionism and support for the bourgeois state.
In their work in the trade unions and in all their work taken as a whole, the primary orientation of Trotskyists is toward the most politically advanced workers -- those workers most ready, both in word and deed, to oppose the capitalists and generalize the lessons of their struggles to an understanding of the exploitative and oppressive nature of the capitalist system as a whole and the necessity of its overthrow. Trotskyist parties therefore seek actively and systematically, not only to intervene in workers' trade union and other struggles and to fight for leadership of them, but also to win worker-communists to the Trotskyist parties from these struggles and to develop these fresh worker cadres politically. In this way Trotskyists both deepen the roots of Trotskyism in the working class and deepen the proletarianization of the Trotskyist parties.
12. Uniting All the Oppressed and Exploited under Proletarian Leadership
The proletariat and its party must act as a "tribune of the people", championing the struggles of all the oppressed and exploited. In fact, the majority of humanity suffers forms of oppression of a specific type that cannot be reduced simply to class oppression. Starting from different historical roots, the most important of those oppressions include: the oppression of women, lesbians and gay men, youth, the racially oppressed, the disabled, and those oppressed as national, religious and caste minorities.
The revolutionary party must build mass movements of the oppressed and exploited around these issues, mobilizing not only the proletariat but also the nonproletarian oppressed and the middle layers.
These mass movements are not exclusively proletarian. They attempt to struggle around contradictions which cannot be resolved without the overthrow of the bourgeois state and capitalism. They are therefore continually brought into conflict with the capitalist class and its state. Trotskyists must intervene with a method analogous to that adopted in intervening in proletarian struggles: that is, they base their action on the Transitional Program.
They must fight against the petty-bourgeois (or sometimes bourgeois) leaderships of these movements, struggling for proletarian leadership of the nonproletarian mass movements. This perspective implies two simultaneous aspects: on the one hand, the struggle within the proletariat for it to take over directly the demands of the nonproletarian mass movements, which implies a struggle directly against any reactionary ideology and attitudes within the working class regarding these movements (for example, racism, sexism, antigay bigotry); on the other hand, action within these movements to defeat bourgeois and reformist ideology and "autonomist" or "separatist" positions and to lead each such movement to the understanding that only participation in an alliance led by the revolutionary working class in the struggle against the bourgeoisie can lead to real victory.
In particular, where the specially oppressed sectors of the working class tend to be especially militant and class-conscious, the intervention of Trotskyists in the mass movements and struggles of the specially oppressed is an essential part of the process of mobilizing the proletarian vanguard, winning the most advanced workers to the revolutionary program, and building the revolutionary leadership of the working class.
In all mass movements, which are generally barely organized, due to their instability, Trotskyists struggle for the building of well-structured mass organizations. Where such organizations do exist or are being built under opportunist leaderships, Trotskyists must act as they do within the unions: they must organize revolutionary caucuses based on the general line of the Transitional Program, aiming to win the leadership of these organizations. Consistent Trotskyism rejects as liquidationist those positions which assume that mass movements should develop in an "autonomous" manner and which, therefore, lead Trotskyists merely to participate in these movements without fighting to win them to a proletarian perspective.
13. International Democratic Centralism
Trotskyism sees democratic centralism as the structural basis of revolutionary political organization. Democratic-centralist principles imply the right to free internal debate as well as the duty of external discipline, with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democratic centralism includes the right to build both tendencies and factions within the revolutionary organization. It must be in force at both the national and the international levels, both within the regenerated Fourth International and also in the different stages of organization of the consistent Trotskyists during the struggle against revisionism.
Consistent Trotskyism rejects the conception that democratic centralism should apply fully only at the national level while at the international level it is limited by the autonomy of each national party. It also rejects the practice of world organizations whose different factions carry out essentially independent policies. Further, it rejects practices that invoke "democratic centralism" to block any possibility of effective tendency or factional struggle. Similarly, it rejects any conception that discriminates between "major" national organizations, with the right to decide on lines and principles, and "minor" organizations, which must be subordinated to the "major" organizations. Finally, it rejects any conception which accepts the perspective of democratic centralism only for the future regenerated International but not for the stages of international organization transitional to that end.