Infantile Disorders, the ABC of Marxism and a Baby’s Rattle- December 2009

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05/01/2017 by socialistfight

Reply to the Leninist Trotskyist Faction (LTF) by the International Trotskyist Current (ITC, Socialist Fight) and the Groupe Bolchevik (member of the Permanent Revolution Collective).

Image result for Carlos Munzer LOI Trotskyist Argentina Images

Carlos Munzer presenting the book “Syria Under Fire” 22-8-2014,

A few sections are still to be added.

Dear Comrades,

To begin with, we will try to dissipate any smoke screen from so-called innocent victims of vile cynics and poisoners (parts 1, 2).

“Dirty methods the GB is using trying to poison” (8 June); “SF cynical position” (8 June); “The GB has permeated this document with Stalinist methods” (10 June).

So, we will be able to attempt to address the central political differences with the LOI leadership and what are their roots politically and historically and avoid personal rancour, name calling and all divisive issues that take away from these essential political discussions (parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

1.    A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Philippe Couthon must apologize for a “rough translation” (his words at the time) in English of the French “bandit politique”, the original terms used in the original mail of the 4 April. The use of the terms “political bandit” have been misunderstood by you –after 2,5 months of reflexion- as meaning a criminal bank robber like Al Capone, it was not intended to mean that. “Political bandit” was not straight “gangster” (8 June) and describes only Carlos Munzer, not several “leaders of our current” (10 June), not all “your current” (19 June) and still less not any “Trotskyist leaders” (10 June). Philippe Couthon meant it to mean “politically degenerate methods of operation”, a warning which was soon confirmed by Carlos Munzer’s mail of 8 June and the document he sent with the title “extract of a letter of the SCAI” and signed by the “secretariat of the LTF” but full of “I” and “me”? So, in FLT a person is allowed to speak on one’s own in name of an international collective body. Is it a feature of a “healthy organisation” (8 June) as this person (we guess who) felt necessary to qualify the LOI and the LTF? (8 June).

Similarly, the use of terms like “mad” by Gerry Downing was not meant to signify a clinically insane person who should be sectioned let alone locked up in the Lubyanka to prevent them expressing their views but one who has lost a grip on the real world of revolutionary politics and is thrashing around wildly seeking to establish his or her footing on the ceiling. Please remember yourselves used “crazy” about Philippe Couthon (19 June).

Also Gerry Downing must apologise unreservedly for mistaking the work of René Armas for Carlos Munzer. In his defence he says that it was because the style and content of both persons’ polemics were so similar that he could not believe there were two people with such identical unconventional and bizarre methods of political argumentation. But then he should have considered that in many closed and inward-looking groups the style of the leader tends to be adopted by many other aspirant leaders.

Further we are totally opposed to violence in the workers’ movement and between international revolutionary currents. We therefore unequivocally condemn all such incidents, which seem to be common among Latin American groups. We think such incidents are best adjudged by impartial tribunals conducted by internationally respected figures from the workers’, anti-imperialist and revolutionary movements acceptable to both sides to apportion blame and decide on redress. We cannot comment on individual incidents where the facts may be in dispute and where such tribunals have not met to adjudge the incidents.

If you still pretend that a personal mail from Philippe Couthon to Gerry Downing about a precise person is an international campaign to prepare physical assaults against all TLF members, please call to such an independent international tribunal to examine the case. Be sure that CRP (Peru), GB (France) and SF (Great Britain) shall collaborate plainly. But you forgot to do so when you pretended that an organized sympathizer of Lucha Marxista (Peru) was expelled as “mental ill” by “Stalinists” and “Polpotits” (in fact, Munzer, the lider maximo of the LOI, officially Argentinean member of the Collective, decided to split the Peruvian group of the Collective). Please remember you forgot also to do so when you accused comrades of Poder Obero (Bolivia) of sending LOI members in the hands of Bolivian police.

Your public polemics are full of personal attacks against Gerry Downing and Philippe Couthon as “workers aristocrats” and “professors”. Professors? Why is it worse to be a high school teacher in France than to be a university senior lecturer in New Zealand? Labour aristocrat? Why is a British bus driver socially worse than an Argentinean little boss?

Your public polemics are full of accusations of “Lambertism”. We are not sure you are very competent in this matter. When it was preparing to split from the Collective, the LOI leadership looked for a substitute to the Groupe Bolchevik in France. It discovered the CRI group (now CLAIRE of the NPA), a group which you label today “Lambertist” (when did that happen?) and, above all, a jingoist group called FUR. So, you invited the CRI to your international “preconference”; you wrote to the FUR behind the backs of the French group of the Collective and praised it publically (BIOI, November 2003). But a few weeks later, the FUR joined the Lambertist PT (now POI).

Your public polemics are full of grave accusations against the Groupe Bolchevik: “defender of interests of the social-democracy”, “fifth wheel of the NPA”, “scandalous”, “peaceful way to socialism”, “shameful”, “servants of the imperialist Republic”, “servant of French monopolies”, “lackey of the French 5th Republic”, “servant policy at the foot of labour aristocracy and bureaucracy”, “social-imperialist”… These characterisations are said to be “frank” and highly “political”. Actually, their aim is to astonish naïve or to affray coward local cadres, foreign groups and to demoralize who resist. A by-product is to ridicule Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism, to repel vanguard workers and youth.

To do so, you say you “have to exaggerate; that is  an understatement (8 June). Despite launching floods of grave and serious accusations, you acknowledge that you did considered neither GB statements nor Révolution Socialiste editorials: “We will start studying all their positions…” (8 June). Your incredible “exaggerations” mirror the calumny launched by the Lambertist PT (now POI) against Philippe Couthon when he played an active role at his workplace and in its city into French 1995 strikes and “assemblées générales” (by the way, which strike have comrades Munzer, Novak, Armas and Co in led during the last two decades?). The Lambertists said then: “he is paid by the PS”. Of course, one must be rewarded somehow to be a “defender of the interest of social-democracy” (8 June). What are the historical origins of such disgraceful methods of preventing individual reflexion and collective discussion inside the workers movement?

The oldest members of the Groupe Bolchevik/Révolution Socialiste and of ITC/Socialist Fight fought Lambert and Healy apparatus, orientation and regime as militants of the late PCI and the late WRP. We do not know of such a fight by the founders of the PTS and the LOI against the revisionism and opportunism inside the MAS when Moreno was alive.

The Groupe Bolchevik has published Stéphane Just’s 1984 detailed balance sheet of the former OCI-PCI led by Lambert (Cahier Bolchevik 6) and a significant part of GB 2001 foundation platform -which LOI leadership praised highly in 2002- is an evaluation of ICFI, of OCRFI and of short-lived Lambert-Moreno’s “FI” (Cahier Bolchevik 1).

We note you have opened correspondence with Ray Athow of the WRP, secretary of one of today “Fourth Internationals” (and one of the two called “ICFI”). Gerry Downing was a member of the forerunner of this organisation from 1976 to 1985 when the majority expelled its former long time leader Gerry Healy. He spent the next five years until 1990 evaluating the politics and the political methods of Healyism, the ICFI and international Trotskyism and summarised his conclusions in a 90,000 word book, The WRP Explosion.[1] This, inter alia, seeks to explain the degeneration of the ICFI and why the Workers Press section failed to regenerate Trotskyism in the aftermath of the expulsion. The WRP/News Line group undertook no such re-evaluation and we do not believe the LTF have made any such re-evaluation of the Pabloite-Mandelite USFI and of the Pabloite-Morenist IWL which it comes from.

Nahuel Moreno (above) voted for the pro Stalinist and pro nationalist “3rd world congress” resolutions written by Pablo (which were proved to be wrong in when tested in the Bolivian revolution of 1952 and the East German revolution of 1953). He has draped itself as a Peronist, flirted with Maoism, joined peasant guerillerism and pro Castroite USFI, merged with the Lambertists (Moreno in person supported Lambert’s proposition at the session of the CC of the OCI which decided to vote Mitterrand since the first round of presidential elections in 1981…), made up political blocs with the Stalinist party and some Peronists, revised openly the theory of Permanent Revolution, etc. It is not good enough simply to reject that heritage in a literal sense, you must analyse it in detail, criticise its mistakes and essentially come to grips with the phenomenon of centrism. We think we have proved in this article that you have not done so.

In light of the effusive praise you heaped on SF for its principled position on British jobs for British workers (Bj4Bw) it might be apt to consider the WRP-News Line’s position on this:

The News Line: News Wednesday, 4 February 2009 OFFICIAL STRIKE CALL – Power strikes harden: Unite official Keith Gibson told a mass meeting of 1,000 unofficial strikers outside the Lindsey oil refinery in Killingholme, Lincolnshire yesterday… ‘I think there should be a call for industrial action right around this country to make the government aware of how we feel and how we’re not prepared to let this industry go to the dogs.’ … In a statement to the House of Lords on Tuesday business secretary Mandelson attacked the strikers, saying: ‘We should keep our sights set firmly not on the politics of xenophobia but on the economics of this recession.’ Lindsey refinery strike committee member Phil Whitehurst hit back saying the strikers had nothing against foreign workers. He said: ‘People have said it’s racist. It’s not. We’re not part of the BNP. I’ve shunned the BNP away from here. ‘It’s about British workers getting access to a British construction site.’ Prime Minister Brown condemned the strikes as ‘counter-productive’, claiming refinery owner Total was not discriminating against British workers”.[2]

Needless to say, News Line did not criticise the actions of Socialist Party (SP) member Keith Gibson (he is not a Unite official) in covering up for Bj4Bw or the xenophobic remark of Phil Whitehurst above. No attack, for instance, by News Line or the SP on that disgusting photograph of Unite joint General Secretary’s Derek Simpson’s enthusiastic support for the arch-reactionary Daily Stars campaign for Bj4Bw alongside two female models, displaying contempt for immigrant and all workers as well as for women’s rights.
Image result for Derek Simpson Daily Star British Jobs for British Workers images
Surely the most disgraceful photograph of a British trade union leader of modern times, Derek Simpson, joint General Secretary of Unite displaying his disgusting  sexism and appalling British chauvinism in 2009

Of course, organisations in imperialist countries need the criticisms of their comrades in oppressed countries. We should add: and vice-versa. So, every group and organisation claiming to be revolutionary and internationalist has a great responsibility either to prove that the others are fake revolutionaries or to collaborate honestly. In Europe, Lambertism and Healyism were certainly the paragons, in the “Trotskyist movement”, of an hysterical internal life, leader cult, slander and violence against opponents (to be related to their adaptation to Arab bourgeois nationalists of North Africa and West Asia and their own reformist bureaucracies). But we have also to overcome the Latin American Morenoite tradition of adaptation to petty-bourgeois and bourgeois nationalism, erratic political zigzags, dishonest manoeuvres, sudden splits, etc.

If the aim is to build a genuine proletarian revolutionary international, there are serious problems with Pabloite-Morenoite legacy of LOI leadership and COTPCI/FTICI/FLT: incapacity of concrete analysis of concrete situations, mixture of hysterical leftism and hidden opportunism, low theoretical level, lack of elementary revolutionary morality, tricks and manoeuvres. Carlos Munzer is unable to plainly collaborate, to work with anybody but obedient people. Inside the LOI, the composition of leadership may changes between congresses by decision of the lider maximo. At international level, his method is to flatter first foreign groups, but to ask them afterwards to accept “exaggerations”, that is to say inventions and slanders which they have to repeat publicly. Otherwise, they become, at once, adversaries and counter-revolutionaries. In this way, one cannot forge a revolutionary national or international team, but people who have will but no brain, or people who have brain but no will.

2.    How to enter the Guinness World Records of lies

“The truth is always revolutionary. To lay bare the truth of their position before the oppressed is to lead them to the highroad of revolution”[3].


3.    We must nor caricature the revolutionary program, forgetting whole parts of it

It was the revolutionary events of the end of 2001 in Argentina that brought the LOI to some international attention: the LRP (USA), EDM (Spain), CWG (New Zealand), LM (Peru), GB (France)- when its leadership gave up the Constituent Assembly slogan it used in December 2001, and tried to look more radical than its stronger centrist rivals: PO, MST, PTS, MAS… each one with its own international current.

Uncorrected methods and problems have developed to the point that you are becoming infamous  as  a parodist current, both odious and comic. Now you are looking  to relate to an unrepentant Healyite group, the WRP/News Line, and unable to relate to or seriously intersect with workers vanguard or militants of other political organisations and now rationalising this isolation as a virtue which proves to yourselves that you alone are correct on all aspects and details of the world class struggle. Many cult-like organisations such the Lambertists, the Healyite did or the Robertsonites still do, with much more theoretical and political capacities.

We believe our central differences with you are on the question of the unique revolutionary role of the working class and of the necessity of a revolutionary party to lead the overthrow of capitalism and, consequently, on the understanding of the communist strategy, in particular of the transitional method ™. Lenin outlined TM,[4] in 1920 in Left Wing Communism, it is embodied in the resolutions of 3rd  and 4th congress of Communist International, Trotsky developed it to fight fascism and also through many tactics of building the party (among them entryism in social-democracy), embodied in Fourth International documents from 1933 to 1940 (among them the 1938 Transitional Programme).

Lenin began his examination thus:

“What happened to such leaders of the Second International, such highly erudite Marxists devoted to socialism as Kautsky, Otto Bauer and others could (and should)serve as a useful lesson. They fully appreciated the need for flexible tactics; they learned themselves and taught others Marxist dialectics…; but in the application of these dialectics they committed such a mistake, or proved in practice to be so un-dialectical, so incapable of taking into account the rapid changes of forms, and the rapid acquiring of new content by the old forms that their fate is not more enviable than that Hyndman, Guesde and Plekhanov. We must see to it that the same mistake, only the other way around, made by the ‘Left’ Communists is corrected as soon as possible”.[5]

In 2002, the US-based League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) praised LOI intervention, as it knew it, in the severe political and social crisis brought about by the collapse of the Argentinean economy. The LRP, in spite of its own revisionist heritage (they are Shachtmanites) and some centrist features, is a lot more serious than the LOI. For instance, it understands the necessity of work inside the unions or the tactics of a (real) general strike. It also raised serious criticisms of your application of the TM and your understanding of transitional demands. It is this which lies at the heart your opposition today to ITC-Socialist Fight (SF) and, previously, your split from the Permanent Revolution Collective (CoReP). Is every revolt a revolutionary situation, are the masses straining at the leash to overthrow capitalism, it is not necessary to build up, patiently, a revolutionary party, to look for democratic and transitional slogans, to fight within the unions as they are, to defend some workers united front, to look for alliances with other workers in the city or agricultural toilers and with students.

The WRP use this give-away ‘dialectical’ phrase, the mythical “leap” will objectively impel the masses to a small revolutionary group with no intersection with the masses because they always say the most revolutionary things. This crucially reduces the revolutionary party to the role of a cheerleader to this objectively developing process; it does not have to win the working class to its programme because the “leap” will do that for it. So the WRP and many others can quote Trotsky on the party but make no attempt to build anything other than a marginalised sect. This is what Trotsky outlined in The Lessons of October:

“Without a party, apart from a party, over the head of a party, or with a substitute for a party, the proletarian revolution cannot conquer. That is the principal lesson of the past decade. It is true that the English trade unions may become a mighty lever of the proletarian revolution; they may, for instance, even take the place of workers’ soviets under certain conditions and for a certain period of time. They can fill such a role, however, not apart from a Communist party, and certainly not against the party, but only on the condition that communist influence becomes the decisive influence in the trade unions. We have paid far too dearly for this conclusion – with regard to the role and importance of a party in a proletarian revolution – to renounce it so lightly or even to minimize its significance”.[6]

The method has the bonus of enabling sincere but mistaken semi-anarchists, to lump genuine Marxists together with reformists as they did in 1920 when they denounced Left Wing Communism as Lenin’s capitulation to reformism. The LOI has readopted the separation of Maximum and Minimum demands developed by the German SPD and the pre-war Second International and held on to as well by the Third International opportunists wing (Cachin, Frossard, Turati, Serrati…) as by the Third International ultra-left wing (Laufenberg, Wolffheim, Gorter, Rühle, Pannekoek, Pankhurst…). As Bukharin at the time, the latter -opponents of Lenin and Trotsky- merely emphasised the Maximum side of that Programme as opposed to the Minimum side. The Minimum Programme had become the bread and butter of the SPD’s daily existence and the unconnected Maximum Programme was postponed to some time in the indefinite future when electoral success made this an objective inevitability and so take a passive view of history which, contrary to Marx, is NOT made by man. But they were only the two sides of the same Programme (“the same mistake, only the other way around”) which contained no attempt to estimate the existing consciousness of the masses or to seek out what are the appropriate Transitional demands to intersect with and develop that consciousness.

“Opportunism expresses itself not only in moods of gradualism but also in political impatience: it frequently seeks to reap where it has not sown, to realize successes which do not correspond to its influence.[7]

The phrase “class against class” is commonly misused in the Stalinist sense in the LTF, forgetting Trotsky’s fight against this, it is the “UF from below” again forgetting Trotsky emphatic rejection of this ultra-leftist phrase (and its “Red UF” version) in the same period.[8] For Munzer in Greece the army was splitting (so obvious that no proof was necessary) back in December of 2008 but the reformists of Workers Power had no demands to develop this, in France the GB could not see the revolutionary situation sparked by the riots of 2005 because they are reformists and looked to the mass reformist trade unions. This is the real content of your criticism of the GB as “capitulating to the Labour aristocracy and bureaucracy”; you do not fight the bureaucracy at all in the reformist trade unions, as we shall see. The only possible answer the LTF can give to this treachery is to ratchet up the extremism of their denunciations to the point where they become a laughing stock on an international scale.

And the target of the LTF in this crusade is also to intimidate any potential opponents internally; Dave Brown of the CWG has “reformist illusions” in bourgeois-workers’ parties which he has been forced to modify of late because of the theoretical cover given by Dov Winter of Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism (HWRS). He has “soft” positions on Zionism; in reality his good position on Israel is exposing the superficial character of the LTF’s characterisation of Israel as fascist in order to write off the entire Israeli working class as labour aristocrats. This undermines the struggle against SF bi-national workers’ state position and the multi-ethnic workers’ state CoReP position, so the extremism of the attack on SF is also an implicit attack on the CWG and the HRS positions.

Let us now look in some detail at the three areas of acute political differences between us in the light of the above exposition of the difference in method.

4.    Transitional Method Vs. Populism  “Que Se Vayan Todos”

The LRP said this about the LOI in 2002:

“Comrades, you have argued that the LRP underestimates the influence that the left itself has, directly and indirectly, in the Argentine working class. I believe Comrade Eric reported that you argued that the left held direct or indirect influence over 50% of the working class in Argentina today. (!) However if the left really held decisive influence it would have accomplished a lot more than it has. But even if we were to accept your exaggerated calculations for just a moment, there is still an even more decisive influence than the numerical influence of the left amongst workers in general. That question is: what sectors does the left have decisive influence in — and is this sufficient for the struggle to move forward, and for the revolution itself which is our goal?”[9]

We are unaware of how you answered this very important question from the LRP back in 2002 but in a similar manner you made youth riots of poor suburbs of 2005 in France the beginning of the revolution, you made desperate pupils the “most exploited” – are you so far away from wage work and communist theory that you have no idea what capitalist exploitation means? Making them the leadership of the working class -a “new vanguard” is reminiscence of the USFI and the LIT; it owes more to Bakunin than to Marx. You even forged a slogan they never used; “Every night we make Paris a Baghdad”. In fact there were no slogans after the first day but you wanted to generalise this silly slogan that you carefully did not use in your own country.

The LRP observed that the LOI refuses to fight the trade union leaders and instead rely exclusively on the piqueteros:[10]

“The most viciously oppressed people on Earth are not necessarily thereby endowed with the ability to lead the revolution, although their struggles can be a mighty asset for communists. The unemployed sectors of the working class in Argentina have fought back with enormous courage and have sharply wounded the bourgeoisie and the imperialists. They are and will be part of the vanguard. There is no iron law that dictates in all nations what percentage of members in the vanguard party will consist of unemployed workers versus employed workers, or which industries will be key. That is a question of consciousness and struggle as well as the objective material factors. However, at the same time, the smashing of the present state power and the installation of proletarian rule is a task which history shows can only be led by the industrial working class. Past struggles have showed that when the pseudo-communist intelligentsia in Latin America tried to use peasant guerrillas as their battering ram for power, they utterly failed. The history of middle-class pseudo-Trotskyism in Europe shows that Ernest Mandel’s strategy of relying upon using the “periphery” of the working class as a means to someday reach the industrial “centre” of the working class was equally bankrupt. Your attempt to substitute piqueteros for industrial workers, instead of telling the piqueteros that they must have a strategy to weld their struggle to the struggle of the industrial proletariat in order to succeed — that is our difference”. [11]

We can see that today you have merely developed this position. Today you are proposing that the riots of suburban youth signify a revolutionary situation, as if the mass of the working class had no role to play in history. in 2005 the pupils could not turn to the working class because there have no place to meet and because of the ignominious call to bourgeois state to restore order which came from the reformist SP, PCF and LO. Remember even in 1968 when the students joined by young workers turned to the working class and so sparked the great ten million strong general strike that shook French capitalism to its roots in a real revolutionary situation, the French Stalinists were able to derail and defeat that offensive because ideologically and organisationally they controlled the massed ranks of the working class. Indirectly, there helped by Proudhonians, Bakuninists, Maoists, and fake “Trotskyists” (the most petty-bourgeois and pro-anarchist being Alain Krivine’s JCR, the sister organisation of Moreno’s PRT). Indeed, the groups claiming allegiance to the Fourth International were all unable to fight Stalinism, to defend transitional demands and to begin to build a workers’ revolutionary party.

You have adopted a position similar to the Healyite WL (now SEP) who orientate to prisoners who are framed by the system in the USA, almost exclusively to Black people and are abjectly prostrate before  US capitalism. You confuse – in Bakunin’s way- collective proletarian struggle with individual revolt and, worse, with the criminal activities of the lumpen-proletariat (a Marxist category you never use). You have adopted a position similar to the WRP/News Line group’s youth orientation, where it takes working class youth off the estates, fills them with promises of leading the revolution and trains them to shun the rest of the labour movement in general and all other leftist militants as “revisionists”. This is how to build a revolutionary party they think, but they have no way of reaching the organised working class other than shrill denunciations of their reformist and centrist misleaders. In fact, behind the scenes, WRP caudillo had many links with reformist leaders, as some did, behind the backs of the Argentinean working class, with the renegade senator Zamora in 2004.

The LRP further accurately pointed to the failure to address the class as a whole with the TM:

“As we have already pointed out, on the positive side, you do challenge other left groups to action. Our problem is that you have made it a principle to refuse to use this same methodology or approach in the trade unions; you refuse to challenge the union leaders for united mass working class action. The LOI understands that leftish leaders within the existing movement can be both challenged for united action and criticized politically as “traitors” — but the LOI will not bring this same Leninist method into the unions in an effort to undermine the bureaucracy. As well, like the PTS and the others, the LOI champions the slogan “Que Se Vayan Todos,” (that they should all go away) without posing a political alternative that the masses can take seriously. (Like so many others, the LOI’s alternative generally seems to be the vague populist call for “the mass movement” — that is for the “people” — to replace the politicians.)”[12]

There we have it comrades, this is merely a failure to understand Bolshevism and Permanent Revolution Theory, it is a hysterical version of the Morenoism, very close to Lambertism and Healyism, and a theoretical regression to the old Bebelism-Kautskyism, the separation of the Maximum and Minimum Programmes and the total absence of the Transitional Programme apart from a few ritual bows and a cut-and-past job from the 1938 document without regard to applicability in the current circumstances and era. Without a detailed examination of all these beginning in your case with Moreno’s legacy and the many ziz-zags this master of centrist manoeuvres carried out in his lifetime it is impossible to go ahead towards a revolutionary party in Argentine and elsewhere.

Socialist Fight must defend our position and that of our comrades in the CoReP in the recent European Parliament elections. It was not right to abstain in this election as it is not right to abstain in most other bourgeois election for the reasons Lenin spelled out in Left Wing Communism; many workers exercise this democratic right because it is one of the few ways they can influence political decision making, their voters are sought by all candidates and so they discuss politics and are at as heightened political level at election times because of that. And the outcome did matter for good or ill, the EU institutions produces many “directives” (laws) and other decisions that affect workers of Europe and other countries.

It was a blow to the working class—and specially migrant workers—that far right and fascist groups like the FPÖ (Austria), Vlaams Blok (Belgium), ATAKA (Bulgaria), DF (Denmark), Perussuomalaiset (Finland), BNP (Great Britain), LAOS (Greece), Jobbik (Hungary), Northern Leagues (Italy), PVV (Nederland), PRM (Romania), SNS (Slovakia) got so many votes, enough to elect many MEPs. Electoral victories of fascistic and racist parties signify great dangers if a revolutionary party is not built against the reformist parties and union bureaucracies whose treachery paralyse the working class and gave a chance to fascist demagogy and aggressive bands. The task of serious revolutionaries is not to prettify these events – even less to disperse the vanguard with political absurdities and calumnies – but to build this party, using every contradiction, every occasion.

In April 2009 there was no revolution in any European state, no workers’ councils that would allow us to consider a boycott. Trotsky wrote in 1936,

“As for the legislative elections in France, I don’t think that we can accept a boycott. Propagandize for Committees of Action, yes. Oppose the future Committees of Action to the present electoral action, no! One can only boycott parliament when one is strong enough to replace it by direct revolutionary action”.[13]

On the other hand, we were not strong enough to have SF lists, GKK lists or GB lists. When communists can have candidates, it is on the basis of their program, so they cannot participate in a coalition with centrists or reformists. Does the ultra intransigent secretariat of the LTF justify the electoral bloc they had in Argentina in July 2003 between the LOI and rightwing Morenoite LSR?

When communists are, unfortunately, not able to participate in an electoral competition, they are not neutral: most of the time, they must tactically support the candidates of workers’ organisations against the candidates of political bourgeois parties. Correctly, the Communist Workers Group used this tactic many times in New Zealand (See Class Struggle No. 80, Sept-Oct 2008, So, we certainly were not opposed to centrists like the LCR-PSL (Belgium), LO (France), Antarsya (Greece), SP (Ireland), IA (Spain), etc. standing in the last European Parliament elections. We criticize them for their program, not their participation. However British Labour, the French PS or PCF, the Italian PRC, the Spanish PSOE, the Australian and New Zealand Labour parties, the Brazilian PT, the Chilean PCC or PSC, the Indian CP and CP(M), etc.  are still bourgeois-workers parties when in power, even if their links with the working class are not the same.

Revolutionists do not support any bourgeois government, included with reformists inside, who are necessarily betraying the working class. It is right -and useful- to ask the bourgeois-workers parties to break with the bourgeoisie; it is wrong to ask a bourgeois government to choose peoples interest and  socialist politics, as LCR (now NPA), PCI (now POI), LO and late PO (sister organisation of Workers Power) did to popular front governments in the 1980s and 1990s in France.

Because there can be no bourgeois workers’ government. A state – and its head, the government – is either capitalist or socialist. And if Dave Brown looks to Trotsky for an analysis of any government of a reformist party (or several reformist parties) as a bourgeois government, he will succeed and we will agree. What he will not be able to prove is a radical opposition, for Trotsky, between a vote for a reformist party in power and a vote for a reformist party in parliamentary opposition, as Robertson has been unable to prove a radical opposition, for Trotsky, between a vote for a reformist party within a formal bourgeois alliance and a vote for a reformist party without one.

The participation in referendums is politically different, but this does not mean systematic abstention either. When communists want to signify the question is purely divorced from real class struggle or the question leads to choose between two reactionary answers, casting a null vote or abstaining is the correct tactic. For instance, in the case of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, a Yes vote would mean endorsing the capitalist nature of the EU, the domination of the imperialists countries on the former workers’ states and the anti-working class nature of the EU proposals and a No vote would signify a nationalist hostility to EU and a division of the European working class, because of the xenophobic (against workers from East European countries members and Turkey) content of No2EU.

Let us look at the usual reasons given for rejecting any vote for the bourgeois-workers’ parties by centrists organisations and sects claiming to be “Trotskyists” and “Leninists” such as those the Pabloites, the Morenoites, the Lambertists, the Healyites, the Hardystes (Lutte Ouvrière), the Robertsonists, etc). And even when some of them they did advocate a vote for these parties it was mainly on the basis of deep-entryism where they spread the illusion that they could be transformed into instruments to introduce socialism.

First let us examine the Dov’s letter requesting fraternal relations with the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (LTF) of 31 May 2009. This is the only theoretical piece we have on the subject of voting for bourgeois-workers parties and as it has already been used by the LOI to force a retreat on the matter from Dave Brown of the CWG. It is a document apparently based on the common attitudes of the left wing of US “Trotskyism” e.g. the Stalinophile Jim Robertson’s Spartacist League (SL) and Stalinophobe Sy Landy’s League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) (the right wing “Trotskyists” court the union bureaucrats and often vote for… bourgeois candidates).

So the SL has proposed a novel idea that a revolutionary organisation cannot vote for a reformist one if the latter is in some form of alliance with the bourgeoisie. Confronted to the evidence that the Belgian section and the French section called on workers to vote for the social-democrat and Stalinist candidates in 1936, the SL riposted that is was the proof of the superiority of American Trotskyism over European Trotskyism. Well, we are not interested in “superiority” of one section because we look for international cooperation. We see this more as a proof of the superiority of Trotsky’s tactics over Robertson’s sectarianism. In practice, to look radical, SL and other ICL sections have never called for a vote for reformist candidates at all.

American sectarianism

American sectarianism may be based on another element of wounded national pride; Lenin and Trotsky claimed that the British, European and Antipodean working class had the advantage over the US working class of having formed bourgeois-workers’ parties and were therefore at a higher level of political consciousness; the US working class alone of the advanced countries had failed to make this separation of the classes, albeit on a reformist basis. The battles around the “new Unionism” of the late 1880s and early 1890s had resulted in the unifying of the whole working class in Britain (still on a reformist basis) and Europe (here the path to reformist-workerism differed but the outcome was the same), the US working class were defeated in their contemporaneous class battles at the Carnegie Homestead strike, the Pullman strike and elsewhere, they failed to unify their class despite their most heroic efforts and in the battles immediately post WWII and even in the 1930 and 1950s. Gompers’ AFL retains its reactionary craft unionism/patriotic alliance with the labour aristocracy to this day.

The stock US centrism reply is “well that was then, this is now, and even if this was true back then, (which many obviously doubt), it is not true still, these parties have become simply bourgeois parties like the US Democrats, you are as bad if not worse than us now”. We contend this is a false methodology, a failure to understand the method proposed by Lenin in Left Wing Communism, and Dov does not do so in his piece and draws the wrong conclusions from his wrong understanding.

In the letter, having described how the communists must approach the ranks of the reformists parties (but not place demands on their leaders), he characterises the Workers United Front (WUF) thus “This tactic may be termed a united front from below to bypass the traitorous leaders”. Of course the ‘traitorous leaders’ cannot be ‘bypassed’; they must be fought, exposed, unmasked and defeated in order for the revolutionary socialist party to be built. ‘Bypassing’ was certainly how the Anarchists, Bukharin and the rest of the ultra-lefts understood the UF at the time but this misunderstanding was fought by Lenin in Left Wing Communism, by Trotsky in his address to the 1922 Fourth Congress of the Comintern and by the best Bolsheviks at the time.

We may make a limited comparison (because we are not yet facing a major fascist threat) with the situation in Germany in the early 1930 and see how Trotsky dealt with that. In 1932 the KPD got almost six million votes – we suggest this indicated a far greater implantation in the German working class than the supposed “direct or indirect influence over 50% of the working class in Argentina” which you proposed back in the crisis of 2002 without any proof in electoral terms. We further suggest that the SPD had committed crimes at least as serious against the German working class as the British Labour party or French Socialist Party has ever committed against the British or French workers.

Yet still the 3rd International Left Opposition and the IKD understood the real balance of class forces in Germany and the KPD did not. In 1932 the bulk of the membership and the votes of the KPD came from the youth and the unemployed, the falling seven million plus votes the SPD won came mainly from the older, more conservative (because of some many relatively recent defeats) workers in employment, but fearful for their jobs and future in that raging economic and political crisis. This was the crucial and indispensible section of the working class, the industrial workers, which had to be won to the cause of the revolution in alliance with the youth for it to succeed and it had to be a central focus of all Transitional demands by serious revolutionaries.

Workers’ United Front

Trotsky proposed a Workers United Front (WUF) between the KPD and the SPD, specifically rejecting the Stalinist notion of a “UF from below” but proposing one which was directed at BOTH the SPD leaders (in the party and the trade unions) AND the rank-and-file. The UF placed demands on these misleaders to fight capitalism and the fascists, which would expose them in action before their ranks as betrayers and sell-outs by means of this engagement. In other words, Trotsky was convinced the SPD, as part of the German labour movement, was a central roadblock to the fight against fascism and for the revolution and the task was to set its ranks against its leadership. Simply denouncing them amounted to a demand that their ranks desert them and join us, merely a futile propagandist gesture which could only lead to increasing ultra-leftist frustration. We know that the KPD contemptuously dismissed Trotsky’s advice; the SPD were “social-fascists”, we suggest that your characterisation of the bourgeois-workers’ parties as solely “bourgeois-imperialists” plays the same role and uses the same mistaken tactic of the “united front from below”.

Just in case you do not believe us on this matter, here is Trotsky in 1932 quoting from and defending his 1922 resolution to the Fourth Congress of the Comintern:

“Is the united front to be extended so as to include only the working masses, or so as to include also opportunistic leaders? The very manner in which this question is posed is the outgrowth of a misconception. Were we able to simply unite the working masses around our banner … by eliminating the reformist party, or trade union organizations – that, of course, would be the best way. But, in that case, the very question of the united front, in its present form, would be non-existent. In the question of the united front, as it is raised, we observe a passive and wishy-washy tendency masked by verbal intransigence. At once, the following paradox hits one in the eye: the Right wing elements of the party, with their centrist and pacifist tendencies… step forward as the most irreconcilable opponents of the united front. And on the other hand, those elements, which, during the most difficult moments held their position entirely on the grounds of the 3rd International, now step forward for the tactic of the united front. What is actually the case is that the supporters of the temporizing and passive tactic are now stepping forward behind the mask of pseudo-revolutionary intransigence.”

Doesn’t it seem as if these lines were written today against Stalin-Manuilsky-Thälmann-Neumann? (or against the LTF today!) Actually, they were written ten years ago, against Frossard, Cachin, Charles Rappaport, Daniel Renoult and other French opportunists disguising themselves with ultra-leftism. We put this question point blank to the Stalinist bureaucracy: Were the theses we quoted “counter-revolutionary” even during that time when they expressed the policies of the Russian Politbureau, with Lenin at its head, and when they defined the policy of the Comintern? We warn them duly not to attempt in answer to reply that conditions have changed since that period: the matter does not concern questions of conjuncture; but, as the text itself puts it, of the ABC of Marxism.[14]

And the Stalinist version

The French Communist Party in 1932, for example, declared that:

“The tactic of class against class… tested in France during four years of economic or political struggles will be firmly applied by the whole of the Party during the course of this electoral campaign. The responsible organisms of the Party, from the cells up to the Political Bureau, will be on the alert so that there nowhere re-occur the defections and compromises with the Socialist, or even the Radical Party, as occurred in certain regions in 1928…

During its electoral campaign our Party must be on the alert so as not to fall into the error where right opportunism allies itself with the most narrow-minded sectarianism… It must once again be repeated that far from being a sectarian tactic, our tactic of class against class, which prohibits any electoral bloc in any form with the Socialist Party, supposes and signifies a united front at the base with Socialist workers…

The objective current conditions are very favourable for convincing Socialist workers to fight in common with their Communist brothers against the bourgeoisie and its principal supporter, the Socialist Party… The objective situation has never before so pushed the Socialist chiefs down the openly reactionary path at the same time as it pushes the Socialist workers onto the path of revolutionary struggle. This is the material, objective basis for our entire tactic of a class against class united front.” (Cahiers)

Of course Trotsky also used the term “class against class” in What Next? (January 1932) but he clearly demarcated it from the sectarianism of the Stalinists who used it in the sense that they alone represented the working class. This is Trotsky’s position in 1931:

“No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.” [15]

This might sound similar but it is crucially based on the United front from above; placing demands on the reformist leaders to fight and fighting alongside them when they do – no diplomatic ‘non-aggression pacts’ before, after or, when necessary, during united front engagements and below; engaging with the ranks of the reformist workers to show them that we are the real force that demand the unity of the working class against fascism and reaction and their leaders are unwilling to pursue any struggle to the end because they are covert defenders of capitalism like the reactionaries who were open defenders. And this requires an open party with independent programme and press, the “march separately” part.

WUF: the indispensible orientation for all revolutionaries to all mass reformist parties

So to recap the WUF was never simply the tactic for mass parties; it was and is the indispensible orientation for all revolutionaries to all mass reformist parties and other parties based on the working class until the revolution itself conquers, i.e. the essence of all their political struggles, the ABC of communism. The ultra-lefts were well-meaning revolutionists who thought that the straight-to-the-masses-approach would bypass political struggle to raise the consciousness of the workers (or that consciousness would suddenly “leap” without this orientation). 4[16] This is never right and, having rejected the TM and its orientation to bourgeois-workers’ parties implicitly straight-to-the-masses is the only correct revolutionary practice, although the LTF does not spell out any alternative at all to the TM. But the “International Action and Coordination Secretariat of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction” official reply to the International Trotskyist Committee of June 10 2009 does spell out a detailed position and suggest an alternative to voting.

“Those who support publicly and politically a bourgeois government, be it a left bourgeois one, a popular front, a bourgeois nationalist, a bourgeois-worker government, a social democratic one, etc. – is refusing to prepare the throwing out of that government and are selling their souls to the Devil. And you have called publicly to vote critically –that is, you gave a political support, albeit “critically”- for a bourgeois imperialist government as that of the British Labour… to be the representative of the British working class to the European Parliament! This is worse than supporting the reactionary strikes of the British labor aristocracy and bureaucracy. It means recognizing the European Parliament, which equals to recognizing the UNO, the OAS, and the rest of the imperialistic institutions with which imperialism establishes its regime of domination over the planet.

“It is a falsification of the tactics of proletarian United Front, that should never be used when the treacherous bourgeois-worker party is in the government, save for one exception (and even then, one should not give it the least political support): when it may be defeated by a Bonapartist/fascist coup, as when Kerensky was supported by the Bolsheviks “in the same way that the rope supports the hanging man” in front of the Korniloviad.

“This policy of United Front with the bourgeois-worker parties in power was carried by Lambert and the French OCI, and with it this party betrayed the workers in France and submitted itself to the Popular Front and the government of Mitterrand in the ‘80s; you and the GB are today continuators of this policy. You didn’t counterpoise to the elections to the European Parliament the Marxist apothegm: “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!”[17]

So many political errors

This extract contains so many political errors that it is difficult to know where to begin. Here are but some of them. “And you have called publicly to vote critically – that is, you gave a political support, albeit “critically”- for a bourgeois imperialist government as that of the British Labour”. And as you reject any “critical vote” for any of your list of governments above so it is clear you reject any critical support at all because this must mean political support with a vote. You can see below that Lenin equates a critical vote with a type of support, because that is how the British working class will see it.

See what Lenin had to say on this matter, comrades, before you

rush to your ultra-left conclusions:

“At present, British Communists very often find it hard even to approach the masses, and even to get a hearing from them. If I come out as a Communist and call upon them to vote for Henderson and against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I shall be able to explain in a popular manner, not only why the Soviets are better than a parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised with the signboard of bourgeois “democracy”), but also that, with my vote, I want to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man—that the impending establishment of a government of the Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens just as was the case with their kindred spirits in Russia and Germany”. [18]

In the first place this dismissal of Lenin rests on Dave Brown’s assertion that there is a fundamental political difference between voting for a bourgeois-workers’ party out of power and voting for a bourgeois-workers’ party in power, between voting in British elections and in elections for the European parliament. As Jim Roberson before -whose 1977 assertion became a credo for SL, ICL, IBT and IG (the ‘family of Sparticism’) – he does not prove this in any way nor is he able to produce a quote from Lenin or Trotsky that this was their position.

In any case this flimsy defence is not needed by the LTF in their official reply because their reference is to all bourgeois-workers’ and social democratic governments and parties as well as all colonial and/or semi-colonial ones in conflict with imperialism. But the reply to the ITC does assist us in our dilemma as to what we are to do in the elections after these become governments. We are to “counterpoise (sic) to the elections to the European Parliament the Marxist apothegm: “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!”

We must assume this also applies to national elections if we are not to ignore politics entirely during the period of heightened political excitement during the election. “Don’t vote, organise” is a false counterposition used by sectarians and anarchists, never by serious Marxists. Lenin ridicules just this position in his Left Wing Communism.

So should we have participated in the European elections, should we have advocated a vote for the mass bourgeois-workers’ parties, centrists etc? Absolutely not, says the LOI, “It means recognizing the European Parliament, which equals to recognizing the UNO, the OAS, and the rest of the imperialistic institutions with which imperialism establishes its regime of domination over the planet”. Here is Lenin again in Left Wing Communism:

“We Bolsheviks participated in the most counterrevolutionary parliaments, and experience has shown that this participation was not only useful but indispensable to the party of the revolutionary proletariat, after the first bourgeois revolution in Russia (1905), so as to pave the way for the second bourgeois revolution (February 1917), and then for the socialist revolution (October 1917). In the second place, this sentence is amazingly illogical. If a parliament becomes an organ and a “centre” (in reality it never has been and never can be a “centre”, but that is by the way) of counter-revolution, while the workers are building up the instruments of their power in the form of the Soviets, then it follows that the workers must prepare—ideologically, politically and technically—for the struggle of the Soviets against parliament, for the dispersal of parliament by the Soviets.

But it does not at all follow that this dispersal is hindered, or is not facilitated, by the presence of a Soviet opposition within the counter-revolutionary parliament. In the course of our victorious struggle against Denikin and Kolchak, we never found that the existence of a Soviet and proletarian opposition in their camp was immaterial to our victories. We know perfectly well that the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly on January 5, 1918 was not hampered but was actually facilitated by the fact that, within the counter-revolutionary Constituent Assembly which was about to be dispersed, there was a consistent Bolshevik, as well as an inconsistent, Left Socialist-Revolutionary Soviet opposition”.[19]

He quotes from the German ultra lefts in the same work:

“All reversion to parliamentary forms of struggle, which have become historically and politically obsolete, must be emphatically rejected” This is said with ridiculous pretentiousness (says Lenin), and is patently wrong. “Reversion” to parliamentarianism, forsooth! Perhaps there is already a Soviet republic in Germany? It does not look like it! How, then, can one speak of “reversion”? Is this not an empty phrase?[20]

The Constituent Assembly

Trotsky gives this example of this wrong ultra-left method:

“The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army” (say his ultra-left opponents). And Trotsky explains “to participate actively and consciously in the war does not mean ‘to serve Chiang Kai-shek’ but to serve the independence of a colonial country in spite of Chiang Kai-shek. And the words directed against the Kuomintang are the means of educating the masses for the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek. In participating in the military struggle under the orders of Chiang Kai-shek, since unfortunately it is he who has the command in the war for independence—is to prepare politically the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek . . . that is the only revolutionary policy”.[21]

So here is Trotsky in 1927 elaborating a policy not only of critical (but not political) support for left bourgeois nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek by participation in his army in the war against Japanese imperialism. Trotsky here and Lenin in Left Wing Communism would be the greatest of class traitors if it is true as you propose that “you have called publicly to vote critically –that is, you gave a political support, albeit “critically”- for a bourgeois imperialist government as that of the British Labour”. Such a “critical vote” is NOT political support for us just as it was not for Lenin; if you want to say we politically support the imperialist programme of the British Labour party or the French Socialist party you must prove it by something other than illogical deductions and baseless assertions like this. You then correctly identify the critical vote with the united front method and then contemptuously reject that also except in the very limited circumstances of a fascist-type coup as Kornilov attempted in 1917 and, “even then, one should not give it the least political support”. But again the whole method of the united front is NEVER to give political support to the programme of the bourgeois-workers’ party or government, or to the anti-imperialist bourgeoisie or petit bourgeoisie, to support, as Lenin says, “as the rope support the hanged man”. You must think Lenin was very wrong in his famous book. We hope you have read it, if so you certainly have not understood it.

Moreno’s zigzags

Moreno was well known for his zigzags. How are your polemics today compatible with your real practice, the joint LOI-LSR slate – on a not so radical platform – in Argentinean elections of 2003? We guess no more than your systematic condemnation today of democratic slogan at any time is compatible with the LOI opportunist call for a Constituent Assembly in December 2001, in a country where political parties were allowed, elections took place, at a time the masses drove out an elected president.

In International Workers Organiser NO. 1, p. 84, you say:

“We do not accept that to mobilise the forces for revolution that the main demand should be to call for a Constituent Assembly which is a form of bourgeois regime that recognises the right of the bourgeoisie to have an equal vote with workers. This is a Menshevik concession to Stalinist stagism and a vote of no-confidence in the revolutionary capacity of the working class and its vanguard. In isolation of workers self-organisation the Constituent Assembly entraps workers and poor peasants inside a bourgeois regime”.[22]

Here is a situation showing that democratic demands on bourgeois governments may be relevant to all periods of a revolutionary upsurge from CWG website by Jose Villa. The author has become a renegade from Trotskyism now, but the work stands as the best Marxist analysis of the 1952 lost revolution in Bolivia:

“Neither did the POR raise the main slogan for a thorough-going bourgeois democracy: the sovereign Constituent Assembly, where all those over the age of 18 (or 16) would have the right to vote and to be elected. New elections on as democratic and as broad a basis as possible, and the creation of a new Constituent Assembly where the main national problems could be debated, would have let the revolutionary party more easily unmask the nature of the MNR and of parliamentarianism. The POR envisaged something else which flung dust in the workers’ eyes: to restore the reactionary constitution which put Paz into the Presidential Palace.”[23]

Take the following Trotsky quote:

“In Brazil there now reigns a semi-fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of ‘fascist’ Brazil against ‘democratic’ Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil”’.[24]

That sounds like Trotsky supporting a ‘fascist’ Brazilian government to me. And further should we not have ‘supported’ Argentina’s government against Britain in 1982? Of course this ‘support’ could not be uncritical so that it becomes politically against the working class, which is what Moreno did in 1982 to hide his opportunist relationship with the Peronist CGT, but it did have to be critical and militarily against imperialism. And neither Brazil in 1938 nor Argentina in 1982 had anything approaching a ‘left-bourgeois’ government which we must never support according to the LTF. But Trotsky could even support ‘semi-fascist’ Brazil against Britain and even semi-feudal Abyssinia against Italy. What a class traitor you must think he was!

A baby’s rattle

Trotsky did not think a demand for a Constituent Assembly was necessarily “a Menshevik concession to Stalinist stagism and a vote of no-confidence in the revolutionary capacity of the working class and its vanguard”. It was precisely the lack of “workers’ self-organisation” that demanded this tactic:

“To the adventurist resolution of the February Plenum of the ECCI (1928) I already then counterposed a course towards the mobilization of the Chinese workers under democratic slogans, including the slogan of a Constituent Assembly for China. But here the ill-starred trio fell into ultra-leftism; that was cheap and committed them to nothing. Democratic slogans? Never. “This is a gross mistake on Trotsky’s part”. Only soviets for China – not a farthing less! It is hard to conceive of anything more senseless than this – by your leave – position. The slogan of soviets for an epoch of bourgeois reaction is a baby’s rattle, i.e., a mockery of soviets. But even in the epoch of revolution, that is, in the epoch of the direct building of soviets, we did not withdraw the democratic slogans. We did not withdraw them until the real soviets, which had already conquered power, clashed before the eyes of the masses with the real institutions of democracy. This signifies in the language of Lenin (and not of the philistine Stalin and his parrots): not skipping over the democratic stage in the development of the country.

“Without the democratic programme – constituent assembly, eight-hour day, confiscation of the land, national independence of China, right of self-determination for the peoples living within it – without this democratic programme, the Communist Party of China is bound hand and foot and is compelled to surrender the field passively to the Chinese Social-Democrats who may, with the aid of Stalin, Radek and company, assume the place of the Communist Party.[25]

Trotsky was at one with this method of Lenin’s:

“Without hiding or mitigating our opinion of the Social Democratic leaders in the slightest, we may and we must say to the Social Democratic workers, “Since, on the one hand, you are willing to fight together with us; and since, on the other, you are still unwilling to break with your leaders, here is what we suggest: force your leaders to join us in a common struggle for such and such practical aims, in such and such a manner; as for us, we Communists are ready.” Can anything be more plain, more palpable, more convincing?

The official party, itself, violates its stillborn policy at every step. In its appeals for the “Red United Front” (with its own self), it invariably puts forward the demand for “the unconditional freedom of the proletarian press and the right to demonstrate, meet, and organize.” This slogan is clear-cut through and through. But when the Communist Party speaks of proletarian and not only of Communist papers, meetings, etc., it thereby, in fact, puts forward the slogan of the united front with that very Social Democracy that publishes workers’ papers, calls meetings, etc. To put forward political slogans that in themselves include the idea of the united front with the Social Democracy, and to reject the making of practical agreements to fight for these slogans – that is the height of absurdity”. [26]

5.    The absolute necessity of forging the unity of the working class on a revolutionary basis

So what is the Marxist method for work in mass TUs and reformist parties? James Cannon wrote:

“In the terminology of the Marxist movement, as it was defined most precisely by Plekhanov, agitation and propaganda are two distinct forms of activity. Propaganda he defined as the dissemination of many fundamental ideas to a few people; what we perhaps in America are accustomed to call education. Agitation he defined as the dissemination of a few ideas, or only one idea, to many people. Propaganda is directed toward the vanguard; agitation toward the masses”.[27]

This insight by Cannon in his better days is far more sophisticated than the crude approach of today’s epigones of Trotsky. This is how we believe we must operate in the class struggle.

A principled relationship with other groups means that we must be ever willing to form all manner of UF-type alliances with them. We must always put the needs of the class struggle first and cooperate wherever possible with all those who are fighting and leading struggles. At the same time, we must be uncompromisingly critical of their policies and those tactics that weaken, divide or compromise the future of the class for narrow party-political advantage. For instance we must wage uncompromising war against the Socialist Party’s capitulation to British jobs for British workers but when the same party leads a principled struggle like forcing the Unite leadership to back Rob Williams when he was victimised and sacked from his convenor’s position in Linamar in South Wales and when he won his job back just before an all-out strike at the factory for his reinstatement. We must march separately but strike together, to use the traditional formulation. We must he prepared to enter and even fuse with larger ‘revolutionary’ groups provided we can maintain the right to fight for our own politics. In the case of mass parties we need to maintain our own press and other means of propaganda.

Subjective revolutionaries and class fighters may exist in the main in the ranks of rival ‘revolutionary` organisations, in their middle cadres and in some sections of their leaderships. Their importance lies not only in the fact that the correctness our politics will enable us to recruit more easily from these if we have had a good and principled relationship with them over a long period of struggle. The importance also lies in the fact that some subjective revolutionaries and principled class fighters in centrist -or even reformist- organisations will have the ear of the masses and will lead them in struggle. So not only is it necessary to have a sympathetic understanding of the reformist attitudes of workers who follow old social democratic, former Stalinist and other reformist parties (there are a lot of these parties in America: Brasil, Canada, Chile…) as but it is equally necessary to have the same attitude to the ranks and some of the better leaders of rival revolutionary/centrist groups – remember demands on the leaders and support for the struggles of the ranks.

It is necessary not to confuse workers’ united front and popular front, reformist illusions in bourgeois democracy and participation of communists in elections, the union bureaucracy with the union itself, etc. Then, we can all point to unprincipled blocs and popular fronts initiated by self-proclaimed revolutionaries where they consisted of diplomatic blocks or opportunist electoral alliances. The British WRP prostituted itself to bourgeois regimes of Middle East and exploded. The French PCI prostituted itself to union bureaucracies and dissolved itself in a trade-unionist and jingoist party, less known andsmaller than the open “Trotskyist” party. The Argentinean MAS made a block with Stalinists and Peronists and exploded. The French LCR dissolved itself in a trade-unionist and electoral party, but the NPA achieved only 4.9% in the last EU election, less than when they stood as open “Trotskyists”. Similarly the British SWP’s popular front with George Galloway in Respect was an electoral and political disaster for them, resulting in a split. Whilst they were in Respect they defended and/or excused Galloway’s reactionary views on women and abortion rights, his sycophantic relationship with Saddam Hussein and much else. The main “Trotskyist” organisation in Britain is still a worldwide spreader of illusions towards reactionary Islamism.


Rank-and-file groups

We must fight for rank-and-file groups in all trade unions whilst at the same time recruiting to our revolutionary organisation to build a leadership that will organise to set the base against the leadership, that will challenge for all leadership positions in order to forge a revolutionary leadership that will truly represent the interests of the membership and all workers by fighting to overthrow capitalism. Everywhere in Britain groups propose New Workers’ parties and alternative electoral grouping to oppose “New Labour”. The majority are fraudulent reformist and some are highly reactionary like No to EU, Yes to Democracy led by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), fronted by the RMT TU led by Bob Crow with Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party providing left cover for grossly opportunist reasons. However for groups like the SWP and the SP (who have dissolved their own New Workers Party project into No to EU) this tactic was always an electoral cover for an opportunist relationships with the TU bureaucracies. In unions like the Civil Service PCS, Unite and Unison they have become left bureaucrats themselves whenever elected on to the Executives, like LO, LCR/NPA and PT/POI have in France in a bogus and reactionary version of the united front tactic, in reality class-collaborationist popular fronts.

Some like Workers Power have illusions that a fighting alternative workers’ party can be formed to fight New Labour, using the analogy with Trotsky’s advice to the US SWP to fight for a US Labor party. The algebraic formula he used is quite appropriate in the USA, Palestine, Argentina and elsewhere without open mass workers’ parties of any type; “Let us form a united front with reformist workers who genuinely want to fight capitalism and their leaders, we revolutionists will enter it fighting openly for our revolutionary programme, endeavouring to demonstrating to the ranks that the reformist leaders have no programme for the struggle and are only half-hearted opponents of capitalism at best. Only the revolutionary communists intend to pursue the struggle to the end so we will win the best fighters for socialism”. But Trotsky never advocated such a tactic for countries where a bourgeois-workers’ party had already been formed, here the task is as Lenin proposed to adopt the united front tactic from above and below with the TU leaders and ranks. It is illogical of Workers Power not to follow this line because it correctly characterise the Labour party as a bourgeois-workers’ party. Either they should say the Labour is now simply a bourgeois party or they should stop using the new workers’ party orientation.

But Dov has satisfied himself that this distasteful UF tactic was only applicable to mass parties back in the early 1920s so he must now deal with Trotsky’s orientation to the French Socialist Party (SFIO) in 1934. Here he says Trotsky only advocated critical support because of the proximity of a revolutionary situation and as soon as this passed he dropped the idea. On the contrary, neither Lenin nor Trotsky ever dropped the idea. What was at issue in 1934 was entry into the Socialist Party, not critical support. And the advice to the SWP to adopt a type of UF with the US CP was also a special circumstance of the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, not to be repeated according to Dov. But Trotsky was unequivocal in his call to the Independent Labour party to give a critical support by a vote to the Labour party against the Tories in 1935 regardless of the question of sanctions against Italy after its invasion of Abyssinia:

“Question: Was the ILP correct in refusing critical support to the Labour Party Candidates who advocated sanctions? Answer: No. Economic sanctions, if real, lead to military actions, to war. The ILP itself has been saying this. It should have given critical support to all Labour Party candidates, i.e. where the ILP was not itself contesting. In the “New Leader” I read that your London division agreed to support only anti- sanctionist Labour Party candidates.

“This too is incorrect. The Labour Party should have been critically supported not because it was for or against sanctions but because it represented the working class masses… The war crisis does not alter the fact that the Labour Party is a workers’ party, which the governmental party is not. Nor does it alter the fact that the Labour Party leadership cannot fulfil their promises, that they will betray the confidence that the masses place in them.

“In peace time the workers will die of hunger if they trust in social democracy; in war, for the same reason, they will die from bullets. Revolutionists never give critical support to reformism on the assumption that reformism, in power, could satisfy the fundamental needs of the workers . . . No, in war as in peace, the ILP must say to the workers; ‘The Labour Party will deceive you and betray you, but you do not believe us. Very well we will go through the experience with you but in no case do we identify ourselves with the Labour Party programme.” [28]

According to Nahuel Moreno, reformism was finished in 1985 when he founded the LIT, after splitting from the ISFI in 1953, the ICFI in 1963, the USFI in 1979 and the new ICFI in 1981:

“Old traitor leaderships, Kremlin bureaucracy and its Communist parties around the world, 2nd International soc al-democracy, union bureaucracies and nationalist parties of backward countries, are in total crisis. Masses do not consider them anymore as their unionist and political direction.” (LIT, Manifesto, chapter 10)[29]

A recurrent illusion of objectivism and spontaneism: events get rid of obstacles; the masses do the job of the vanguard. No more need for united workers’ front and a wide space is open to… “Revolutionary Fronts” (called “revolutionary pole” or “New Zimmerwald” in LOI jargon). Thirty years after, it looks rather stupid. It is the ABC: to liquidate all the “traitor leaderships”, revolutionists have to build a party (not a “front” or “block” or “pole”) to lead victorious socialist revolution.

“So long as capital rules, fascism and Social Democracy will exist in diverse combinations. All the questions, therefore, are reduced to the same denominator: the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeois regime”.[30]

Munzer still sticks to “New Left”-USFI-LIT illusions. Moreover, the LTF states that every disciple of Lenin and Trotsky is a “servant of social-democracy” and a “social-imperialist”. And they try to aggregate in international area upon these idiocies, presently the HRS. According to Dov, before WWII, workers though that these bourgeois-workers’ parties would give them socialism but after WWII they ceased to be bourgeois-workers’ parties because workers no longer thought this; after repeated disappointments workers then expected only a few reforms of the capitalist system from them and now they have ceased to expect even that so they are now fully-fledged bourgeois parties like the US Democrats.

We would respectfully suggest that the “socialism” expected by the workers pre WWII was a reformed capitalism and the advance or regression of expectations of the working class in its bourgeois-worker reformist misleaders was and is intimately connected with the state of the class struggle. And crucially they support reformist leaders because they are themselves reformists. And it is total idealism to suggest that there is a qualitative difference between the Gordon Brown’s relationship to British imperialism and Ramsay McDonald’s (Labour leader and Prime Minister in 1924 and 1931). Brown has not yet split the Labour party to join a National government with the Tories to impose the recession as McDonald did in 1931.

And now to hammer home his point Dov makes a big mistake:

“Workers Power did not take into account that Blair officially cut off the Labour Party’s relationship with the unions, announced that the Labour Party is purely a capitalist party, and dropped the word “socialism” from its program”.

Today in Britain the big trade unions supply 80-90% of the Labour party’s funding, the friendly capitalists of Blair’s day have all-but disappeared and Brown will have to fight the next election on that shoe-string. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

“One of the principal functions of the annual conference is to elect the National Executive Committee (NEC), which oversees the party’s day-to-day affairs. Twelve members of the NEC are elected by trade union delegates, seven by CLPs, five by women delegates, one by youth delegates, and one by delegates from affiliated socialist societies.

Notwithstanding the formal sovereignty of the annual conference, policy making in the Labour Party historically has been dominated by coalitions of parliamentary elites and major trade union leaders. On occasion, however, this moderate establishment has lost ground to radical trade unionists and activists from the CLPs. As a result, since 1987 the parliamentary leadership has attempted to reassert its authority through a series of organizational reforms approved and supported by moderate trade union leaders. In the electoral college that selects the party leader, for example, the proportion of votes controlled by the unions was reduced from 40 percent to one-third; the other two-thirds were divided equally between the PLP and the CLPs. Trade unions also used to control 40 percent of the vote in the local electoral colleges that selected candidates for Parliament, but since 1987 those candidates have been chosen by a simple ballot of local party members. In the annual conference the proportion of delegates controlled by the unions, at one time more than 90 percent, was reduced to a maximum of 50 percent”.[31]

So the TU bureaucrats wield 50% of the votes in its annual conference and will have 50% or more of the places on its National Executive, frequently supplying the affiliated socialist societies and youth places. Neither Tony Blair now Gordon Brown would have got elected leader without their support; they directly hold 33% of the votes in leadership elections, they have influence and votes through local TU affiliations in the 33% of the votes cast by the Constituency Associations and they directly sponsor a large proportion of the MPs who constitute the other 33%. That is they could dictate the policy of every Labour government if they wanted to. Blair’s first government and to a lesser extent his second only seemed ‘independent’ because they received such big funding from corporate Britain. True, the democracy of the grassroots and annual conference has been greatly diminished by Blair and Brown but this too was only possible with the support of the trade union bureaucrats and there are reports that Unison’s Dave Prentiss is now seeking the support of Unite and other major TUs to reverse the ban on ‘contemporary motions’ at the annual conferences. This is what constitutes the organic relationship between the Labour party and the organised working class; it is an undemocratic, institutional, organisational, frozen but nonetheless real expression of a separation of the working class as a class, albeit with its reformist consciousness, from the bourgeoisie.

How is this in any way comparable to the relationship between the US Democrats and the US TU bureaucrats in the AFL/CIO or the disintegrating and soon-to-merge Change to Win federation? The millions given by these to Obama’s campaign, and to other Democrats (and Republicans!), were peanuts compared with corporate and private donations. And ‘consultations’ are merely eyewash, the US TU bureaucrats do not have any real influence or power in the US Democrats which they chose not to use because it suits their purpose, as the TU bureaucrats do in bourgeois-workers’ parties; they have no real or potential power at all and participate in the party on sufferance. They include protectionism, a historic AFL goal, among their main demands on Obama. For instance the recent joint document between both federations lists these reactionary goals on immigration, which could be the programme of any reactionary capitalist protectionist:

  1. An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need;

  2. A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;

  3. Rational operational control of the border;

  4. Adjustment of status for the current undocumented population;

  5. Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.”[32]

The British TUC takes a different view, albeit still on a defend-capitalism basis:

“Overall, freer migration offers significant benefits to home countries, host countries and migrants themselves, but realising these benefits is not an automatic process. On balance, home countries can benefit more from the remittances of migrants than they lose through the brain drain but this may require measures to enable and encourage migrant workers to increase the proportion of their earnings they remit to their families. Migrants should be the clearest winners, but need to be guaranteed rights to social services and benefits to protect themselves against poverty and social exclusion. To avoid exploitation they need equal rights with native workers and the enforcement of employment standards, especially the minimum wage. Native workers and their families can gain a great deal from the increased output and net fiscal contribution migrants bring to the table. But there are potential losers as well as winners, and the first beneficiary of Britain’s migration dividend should be an improved social wage”.[33]

There was never any socialism in Labour Party’s program. We presume Dov’s mention of dropping the word “socialism” is a reference to Tony Blair’s success in removing Clause 4, the “securing for workers by hand and by brain the full reward for their labour” clause which never made an iota of difference to the practice of the Labour Party since its adoption in 1918 as a defence against bolshevism in the first place.

And all other bourgeois-workers’ parties in Europe and Australia/New Zealand have similar arrangements or at least act within similar parameters because of the expectations of their own working class determined by this international balance of forces. In other words the bourgeois-workers’ parties are the political expression in a bourgeois parliament of the trade union bureaucracies; they act in defence of capitalism because that is what the TU bureaucrats want them to do, because the bureaucrats must, “serve directly as a petty but active stockholder of its (capitalism’s) imperialist enterprises, of its plans and programs within the country as well as on the world arena” despite their self-serving and hypocritical protestations of opposition for the benefit of their members.[34]

For instance every year at their conferences they make a ritual denunciation of the anti-trade union laws but they make no real attempt to get rid of them even though they could quickly secure their abolition now by withholding their funding, like the US could stop Israel oppressing the Palestinians immediately if it wanted to by the same tactic. But neither wants to end this relationship because this provides the bureaucrats with a perfect excuse to continue with their parasitic existence uninterrupted and ensure no serious struggle can be fought on behalf of their members; “it is illegal, what can we do? the judges would sequester our funds” they say. If the working class could begin to democratise the TUs then they would, ipso facto, begin to democratise the Labour party also and the class struggle would be greatly enhanced and revolutionaries could expect revolutionary situations to develop. Therein lies the real roadblock to developing revolution, but the Argentinean comrades on the LOI do not even address this problem and scorn all who do and the LTF’s possible future comrades in the WRP/News Line have no appreciation of the problem whatsoever. The LOI-CI futile, populist and nihilistic slogans like, Que Se Vayan Todos. Que no quede ni uno solo” (that they should all go away, that not a single one be left) are no substitute for revolutionary work in the trade unions and labour movement in general.

So where do we stand with international regroupment? It must be clear from the uncomradely way the comrades of the LTF approached this that the Zimmerwald Call would have no better fate that the LIT/WRP’s Preparatory Committee of the late 1980s as related by Gerry Downing in WRP Explosion (opus cit). And we can expect the same methods. It is clearly a version of the LIT’s International where Trotskyists might be in a minority. And what “revolutionary workers organisations” can we expect to attend and what might their politics be? The task is not to promote centrist-pacifist type regroupment. For instance, Lenin always denounced Zimmerwald confusion. Whether or not we participate in such regroupment when they appear depends on many things, not least the internal democracy. We can only express the deepest forebodings as to the inner democracy of the LTF, given the way it treats casual contacts. We need clear-cut revolutionary positions on the main international events (bombings on Serbia, invasion of Iraq, one single Palestine, etc.), grounded on revolutionary principles (no support to police, no vote for bourgeois parties, no support to Popular Fronts, no jingoism, no call to UNO, etc). Take the following quote from the Conference for the 4th International, Resolution on the London Bureau, July 1936):

“The London Bureau, under the leadership of the SAP, instead of putting the question of a Marxist program, of a Bolshevist policy, of the selection of revolutionary cadres, launched the empty slogan of “new Zimmerwald”.

Actually the “Zimmerwald perspective” is a variant of the “unity of revolutionaries” supported shortly by LO France in 1968-1969, through the 1970s by the USFI which later extended “anti capitalist left” (the whole “left” but the mainstream social-democracy). Zimmerwald – London Bureau – “Front of revolutionaries” strategy breaks both with the perspective of a real revolutionary communist party and with workers’ united front tactics. This rotten heritage is clearly a feature of the foundation of the LIT by a former wing of Pabloism.

6.    Guadalupe, Petty Bourgeois Nationalism Vs Proletarian Revolution

7.    Palestine, workers unity Vs. Ethnical Cleansing, Workers’ State Vs Bourgeois State

Differences on Palestine appear to be severe with the SF position making the comrades from the LOI-CI “sick” because it is allegedly pro-Zionist. You say in your official letter to the SF:

“Your position for a Palestinian-Israeli “Bi-national Worker State” under a workers’ government, leads to a capitulation and adaptation to Zionism as we had never seen before. Nobody dared to go further than you, now in agreement with the GB. We here want to add that your position of calling to fight for a government that guarantees a bi-national state is the same as trying to cover with the proletarian dictatorship the imperialist policy of Obama… In any case what could came from this mishmash of your position could never be a workers state but a bourgeois-worker government that would administrate in the gendarme, occupying state, the interests of imperialism in the region.

But the worst of the arguments that you raise is that the occupation has been there for so many years… there are already children of those settlers that expelled at gunpoint the Palestinian people from their land and their nation. You and the GB are recognizing the bourgeois right of property legacy, that is the right of property legacy of the oppressors, of the occupiers of the Palestinian nation. With your program and with your politics not only you smear Marxism, but also you have not yet even noticed that the national sentiment of the martyred Palestinian and Middle East workers is expressing the hatred of the exploited that cannot have their land or their bread if they do not sweep away the Zionist invader.

We know that in the rich middle classes of Europe Zionism has made deep encroachments. From the FLT we have already affirmed that every Jewish worker that wanted honestly fight for the interests of the working class has no other option that going to the side of the Palestinian resistance, of the unions and organizations of the Palestinian workers against the occupation army and the Zionist state. And that only with the method of the socialist revolution the Palestinian nation could be recuperated, that is not leaving the least track of the Zionist state – founded by the US, UK and the Stalinist canker in 1947 in the UNO- that you today legitimize historically. Only so, under a worker and peasant Palestinian government, that would set on fire and be a indestructible part of one and only revolution in the Middle East will the inhabitants of Jewish religion be able to live peacefully and democratically as a minority along their class brothers and sisters in the region.

Who does not distinguish between oppressor and oppressed does not pass the exam on the ABC of the Marxist program, because –as Marx himself would say- a people that oppresses another people cannot dream to liberate itself.

You liquidate in a sole stroke of the pen the theory of Permanent revolution for the colonial and semi colonial countries, you liquidate the Marxist program and you oppose to them the task of defending the oppressors. Let us remind you that that was the program of Stalinism in the USSR, which had also transformed it into a jail for many peoples, by oppressing other nations within it. Your slogan of “bi-national worker state” is the same that Stalin applied after Lenin’s death, guaranteeing the oppression of the oppressed nations of the former USSR by the Great Russian and Slavic Stalinist bureaucracy”.

Those type of charges need to be proven in some detail but you simply make baseless assertions with no attempt at proof whatsoever. And we must question why bi-national workers’ state idea is so repulsive to you? In the first place your language in calling to sweep away the Zionist invader” and “not leaving the least track of the Zionist state” (not even its people?) is the language of nationalists, of ethnic cleansers, whatever your intentions. The LTF repeats Moreno which had a bad record of adaptation to Arab bourgeois nationalism and even to clericalism (what is a “Muslim struggle” for a Marxist?).

“You are dissolving the concrete, which is the Muslim and Palestinian struggle for the destruction of the fascist state (… ) If you want to insinuate that a Constituent Assembly will appear with no Zionist Jewish people, we respond: those imaginary inhabitants do not exist (…). We do not recognize any democratic right to enclave people sent by metropolis. (…) If one no clarifes correctly, the destruction of the Israeli state is dissolved in a n abstract formula. It necessarily implies the removal of the present inhabitants. Otherwise, it would mean accepting the accomplished fact of the Jewish occupation of Israel”. (Correo Internacional N° 8, September 1982)[35]

If that is not now the position of the LTF, it should be explicitly repudiated.

We thought that Dov’s letter requesting fraternal relations with the LTF made half our case for us; or at least the case of what the conditions were like on the ground and why the Israeli state and the Histadrut TU were not fascist and, implicitly, why the Israeli Jews (Hebrews) constituted a nation. The document did not, however, attempt to make any governmental transitional demands or to outline the strategic political orientation that would logically seem to follow from its positions.

It is firstly necessary to look at the history of post war Trotskyism groups on the question and show why we think it was mistaken but still widely held. By 1951 the Fourth International (FI) had definitely descended into centrism and the resolution on Yugoslavia demonstrated this:

“The dynamics of the Yugoslav revolution confirms the theory of the permanent revolution on all points: It confirms the point that the struggle of the toiling masses for national liberation against imperialism can only be victorious if it is transmuted into a proletarian revolution. This transmutation in Yugoslavia was not due to particular or conjunctural factors but constituted the application of the general strategy formulated by the Fourth International for all countries occupied by imperialism in Europe during the Second World War. If this strategy was successfully applied only in Yugoslavia, that is due to the specific character of the CPY which headed the movement of the masses.”[36]

This was adopted with only the French section -led by Marcel Bleibtreu- opposing and being expelled in 1952 by Pablo, Mandel and Frank on the question. The theory of Permanent Revolution had now become an objective process which was actualised in Europe by Josip Broz Tito’s Stalinist party and in Latin America by bourgeois nationalist APRA (Peru), MNR (Bolivia), Partido Laborista (Brasil), PJ (Argentina), AD (Venezuela)… See the 1951 Latin America statement written by Pablo (and voted by Moreno and every delegate but one of the Vietnamese section):

“Our open conception of the program must appear practically through a non sectarian participation and activity within every  mass movement and every organisation which gives expression to mass aspirations, as the Peronist unions, the Bolivian MNR, the APRA in Peru, Vargas’ “labour” movement, the Democratic Action in Venezuela”.[37]

The function of the FI was to assist and advise such “unconscious Marxists”; Pablo and Mandel found them in Poland’s Gomulka, Lambert found them in Algeria’s Messali, Pablo and Mandel found them in Algeria’s Ben Bella, Hansen and Mandel found then in Cuba’s Castro, Gerry Healy found them in Libya’s Kaddafi and in Iraq’s Hussein… and Healy, Mandel, Hansen and Moreno found them in Palestine’s Arafat.

So with Palestine it became easy to say that uncritical support for national liberation leaders like Yasser Arafat was how we would urge forward the world revolution. What need did we have for Trotskyist parties when Arafat was doing the job far better and objectively acting as the “blunted instrument” to defeat imperialism and carry out the “process” of Permanent Revolution? The former organisation of revolutionary communists was reduced to sycophantic apologists for third world bourgeois nationalists and Black nationalists in USA, reformist trade unionists (like Alexandre Hébert en France or André Renard in Belgium) and reformist political leaders (like Aneurin Bevan in Britain).

You say “In any case what could come from this mishmash of your position could never be a workers’ state but a bourgeois-worker government that would administrate in the gendarme, occupying state, the interests of imperialism in the region”. But you advocate an actual bourgeois government; it is the most curious of phenomena that the LTF has a demand for soviets, the dictatorship of the proletariat and a workers’ and peasants’ government in all countries except Israel/Palestine. Here, the position is for a bourgeois government and state and a two stage revolution. We guess why: Moreno developed this position in the following way:

“We base our appeal to the PLO to fight for socialism on the fact that we regard it (Palestine) as a sui generis nation… a PLO that breaks with the bourgeoisie, i.e. a Palestinian State that break with the Arab bourgeoisie and practices the class struggle.”[38]

Such a confidence in national bourgeois could not be a clearer repudiation of Bolshevism which always delimitated from Menshevism precisely about the incapacity of bourgeoisie to lead a democratic revolution. Such a goal, a bourgeois state which is the way to a future socialism could not be a clearer repudiation of the Communist International position on the state and of Fourth International strategy of permanent revolution.

Your last partners in international discussions (ICFI-WRP/News Line) have a similar outlook. This is their international programme as posted on their website,

  • We support the struggle of Russian, Chinese, and East European workers to prevent the restoration of capitalism.

  • We give our fullest support to the Palestine Intifada and support the struggle of the Palestinians for their own state with Jerusalem as its capital.

  • We are completely opposed to the occupation of Iraq and are for the immediate removal of British and US troops out of the region and for driving imperialism and Zionism out of the Middle East.[39]

There is nothing in these three points to indicate a group with any theoretical capacity to make an independent analysis of the modern world; how could they miss 1989-91 counter-revolutions, why are they not for the defeat of imperialism, merely for its “removal” and is not the “driving out of Imperialism” a cover for supporting Hamas in “driving Zionism out of the Middle East”?

The LOI leadership formulation is “for a non racist, democratic and secular Palestine State from the river to the sea, which can only be guarantee by a workers’ and peasants’ government of the Palestine masses organized and armed”. Immediately, Dov told us this “is a good application of the Trotsky method, there is nothing Pabloite about it”. An alternative is given in IWO No. 1, (Point 6, p. 8) “For the destruction of the Zionist state of Israel! For a secular, democratic and non-racist Palestinian state of the workers’ and poor farmers’ government defended by the self-organised and armed Palestinian masses!”

In front of the last Zionist state aggression, the LTF correctly stood with Palestinian people, in spite of its Hamas leadership, and called for international solidarity (even if its texts are sometimes not very clear: the many martial “we” meaning either the LFT itself or the proletariat). But the LFT stays half-way:

  1. There is no call for mass workers organisations, in particular unions and confederations. Actually, there was not a world large solidarity, no sabotage of Zionist militarism in transports, telecommunications… Which fault? Was the culprit: the proletariat or its present leadership?

  2. The LTF aim is clearly a bourgeois state (“a non racist, democratic and secular Palestine State”).

  3. There is no question of the role of workers in Palestine: not a word about Jewish workers, even no mention of Palestinian workers themselves (only: “Palestinians”, “Palestinian masses”, “Palestinian people”)

  4. There is no call to build an alternative to Fatah and Hamas, not a word about a workers revolutionary party.

“To speak of a soviet government without speaking of the dictatorship of the proletariat means to deceive the workers and to help to deceive the peasants. But to speak of the dictatorship of the proletariat without speaking of the leading role of the Communist Party means once more a trap for the proletariat…”[40]

There is a difference between petty bourgeois radicalism and proletarian revolution (please compares with sober Fourth International 1938 Statement on class struggle and war in the Far East when Japan invaded China). Palestine is a good test for every international current claiming to be Marxist. Besides formal orthodoxy and usual exaltation behind left formulas, lies a crude opportunism.  LTSF “secular democratic Palestine” comes directly from Moreno who took it, with Mandel, Hansen and the whole USFI, from the bourgeois nationalist PLO at the end of the 1960’s.

Comrades, this is Pabloism, anyway revisionism, because which is the kind of social-democrat or Stalinist “Trotskyism” which advocates a bourgeois state in imperialist epoch? In the LOI version of Morenoism the secular and democratic state will be led by a “workers and poor farmers’ government”. Therefore, you add confusion to confusion. Comrades, who is to lead this revolution? Thinking the working class should lead it would be at best a reversion to Lenin’s pre 1917 “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”, a bourgeois revolution led by the working class which he so emphatically abandoned in the April Theses. It is wrong to demand that the working class lead a bourgeois revolution, as Moreno’s wing of Pabloism and  we trust you will not deny that to fight for a “democratic and secular” state is to fight for a bourgeois revolution given that a socialist revolution is a “soviet and atheist” one? Under the logo “Principista Trotskista”, neo-Morenoites of SCAIFLT recycle Populism and Stalinism:

“The democratic dictatorship was always thought of by the Bolsheviks as a bourgeois democratic dictatorship and not a supraclass one. It was contrasted to the socialist dictatorship only in this sense. Now it appears that in China there will be a “democratic dictatorship with socialist elements”. Between the bourgeois and socialist regimes, the class abyss thus disappears, everything is dissolved into pure democracy and their pure democracy is supplemented gradually by “socialist elements”. Who did this people learn from? From Victor Chernov. It is precisely he who, in 1905-06, outlined such a Russian revolution would be neither bourgeois nor socialist, but democratic and would gradually be supplemented by socialist elements.[41]

The LTF position is really Pabloite as developed by all the heirs (Mandel, Hansen, Healy, Lambert, Posadas, Moreno, etc.) of 1951 Congress managed by Pablo which was so confident in bourgeois nationalism (and which revived to justify it the “United anti-imperialist front” with the national bourgeoisie), their common position was that the working class is not to lead this revolution at all. In this LTF statement of January, Pabloite and Morenoite legacy is proven by the silence about Jewish workers and the complete omission of the party.

There is no serious attempt whatsoever to differentiate the Palestinian workers from the Palestinian bourgeoisie other than by proclamation. There are seven references to Hamas and Al Fatah like, “One cannot say to be a revolutionary and support national bourgeoisies like those of El Fatah and Hamas, prison guards of their own Palestinian people on behalf of the Zionist occupant” in IWO No. 1 but no attempt at Transitional demands to establish the political independence of the working class.

But interestingly the official “Reply to the ITC” which hails the “Heroic Revolution of 2000” (the Second Intifada which began after Arafat rejected the peace – surrender – deal by walking out of the Camp David Summit in July 2000), condemns the Fatah (correctly, they are now the main US/Zionist agents within the Palestinian nation) but has no word to chide, let alone criticise the Hamas.

Comrades, this is not the critical support you are obliged to give Hamas against the Fatah and Israeli onslaughts and oppression, this is the opportunist and uncritical popular front that you imagine will lead the Palestinian revolution. And as for any attempt to unite the Jewish and Palestinian workers against imperialism, Islamic reaction, Zionism and capitalism, not even the slightest hint, just strident abuse of SF for putting forward such a perspective.

Hamas (ex – Muslim Brotherhood) has developed as the only Palestinian party that does not have women in its leadership or Christians amongst its membership. It is clearly a capitalist party, just like Fatah:

“In its economic analysis and national programme Hamas does not call into question the operation of the free market (…) contrary to the Palestinian left whose economic approach is steeped in socialism”. [42]

Moreover, it is a clerical party:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection”. [43]

As with all anti-Semites it “explains” history as a Jewish conspiracy:

“The enemies (Zionists) … accumulated a huge and influential material wealth which they put to the service of implementing their dream. This wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe in order to fulfil their interests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there. They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like… They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein”. [44]

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were propagated in their modern form in 1905 by the reactionary Sergei Nilus who claimed they were from the First Zionist Congress in Bern. Found out in this lie, he then said they came from a secret meeting of the “Elders of Zion”. Even Tsar Nicholas II was obliged to acknowledge them as a forgery after an investigation. After the Russian Revolution they became part of Nazi-inspired anti-Bolshevik propaganda (the Nazis presented Communism as a Jewish conspiracy). The document was debunked as a forgery in The Times of London (who had promoted it as fact in May 1920) in 16 August 1921 and the connection to Maurice Joly’s book, Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu established. Also in 1921 a book by Herman Bernstein, The History of a Lie, The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion totally laid bare the real conspiracy. The Protocols are presented as fact by Hamas, like all anti-Semites:

“Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there.”[45]

Hamas are clearly Islamic fundamentalists, viciously opposed to trade unions, the rights of women, gays and lesbians and certainly no revolutionists. Today they pragmatically accept the existence of the state of Israel (despite their Founding Charter), according to the group’s leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshaal. Ahmed Yusuf, an advisor to Mr Haniyeh, said that Hamas recognised Israel’s de facto existence but was not going to recognise it officially. “Israel is there, it is part of the United Nations and we do not deny its existence. But we still have rights and land there which have been usurped and until these matters are dealt with we will withhold our recognition. “(The Guardian, January 10, 2007).

In their pragmatic adaption to Hamas much of the self-declared Trotskyists  see the “process of Permanent Revolution”, as developed by the US SWP’s Joseph Hansen (following Pablo) to baptise Fidel Castro as “an unconscious Marxist” who was progressing the objectively unfolding world revolution, just as Pablo saw Tito and Healy later found the “objectively developing world revolution” in Kaddafi, Saddam, and Khomeini. In Palestine this role was to be played by the Arab bourgeoisie and then Yasser Arafat. This is their bourgeois formula you are using.

You are not focused on the working class at all, and in particular, you are totally hostile to all Jewish workers. In IWO No. 1 there are 23 occurrences of the word Zionism, there are 12 of the word Israel but none at all of the word Jew let alone any reference to Jewish workers. This is but a short step from making Zionism = Judaism. In fact, the LOI leadership only began to use the word “Jew” when SF and Dov Winter raised the issue. Up to then you ignored the Jewish working class, you still call the Histadrut TU “fascist” and assert by the use of the term “Zionist-fascist” that Israel is a fascist state and all its Jewish inhabitants are rabid fascists, with the exception of a small minority which can only save themselves by becoming Palestinians. What are we to make of the demand that Jewish workers should join the Palestinian trade unions? The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) has not held elections since 1981 and is a total pawn of the Fatah.  Jewish workers have to join the Histadrut in order to obtain employment. The term “from the river to the sea”, was originally used by the Arab bourgeoisie to mean ethnic cleansing of Jews, as used by Hamas today it also implies ethnic cleansing, although of course not all who use it intend it in that way, nor do we think you do. But it should not be used by Trotskyists because its use signifies an accommodation to the Arab bourgeoisie and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal said:

“As a Palestinian today I speak of a Palestinian and Arab demand for a state on 1967 borders. It is true that in reality there will be an entity or state called Israel on the rest of Palestinian land. This is a reality, but I won’t deal with it in terms of recognising or admitting it.” (The Independent, January 11, 2007)

In 2007, in Mecca, the two groups (PLO and Hamas) did sign a short-lived unity accord. The Hamas agreed, among other things, to “respect” previous PLO agreements, which implied an acceptance of Israel via a two-state solution… (The Economist, February 14, 2009).

But Hamas had no hesitation attacking the left nationalist movement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP) during the January 2009 Zionist onslaught:

“At the moment when our people is facing cruel Zionist aggression and needs a united front of all Palestinian forces to oppose the  occupation of the Zionists and respond to the challenges that are facing by a Palestinian national unity project, the security apparatus of the Hamas of movement continues its illegal repressive practices against citizens of Palestine, and in particular against members of the Front using kidnappings, violent attacks, punishment shootings in the legs, executions, and all this without even a minimum of respect for legal procedures”.[46]

Finally let us say that both the SF and CoReP are for the overthrow of the Zionist state, we are for the political and military defeat of Zionism, and the victory of a socialist revolution creating a workers’ republic in the region as part of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. Saying that this is pro-Zionist and pro-Obama is totally ridiculous, illogical and unproven in any way. The claim only makes sense when we realise that the LOI is for the destruction of the nation of Israel and are at best indifferent as to what happens to the Jewish inhabitants in the region. This is worse than mainstream Pabloism; it is clear from the above that it is the LTF not SF and the CoReP who has abandoned Permanent Revolution by capitulating to Hamas via objectivism, they have no appreciation of the Transitional Programme and method, they have no appreciation of the role of the revolutionary party.

Whatever the past and future precise formulations of the Permanent Revolution Collective and of Socialist Fight, they were not and they will never be party to ethnic cleansing in the name of a “Trotskyism” which never address the Jewish workers, which forgets the party, and whose aim is a bourgeois state.

8.    WIVL merger pact with the LTF: Fascism, Blanquism and the Labour Aristocracy

The Workers International Vanguard League (WIVL) of South Africa has recently concluded a merger pact with the LTF, although “some differences remain”.[47]

The LOI leadership had proposed a “joint committee” to the WIVL with “one vote each”. Why, if the SCAIFLT is so respectful of the new partners, did not it propose “a joint committee” to HKS too, with one vote for each of the three partners? Why the does the very “healthy” LTF not treat HKS on an equal footing with the WIVL? Because it is a smaller organisation than the WIVL? Because it has already accepted to be the LOI leadership’s cat’s paw against the Groupe Bolchevik and Socialist Fight?[48]

The LTF forgot also a good occasion “to raise political difference sharply and frankly”. It seems to forget to raise the demand that all whites must leave South Africa, as Jews must leave Palestine or whites leave Guadalupe. Are not they also descendants of British or Dutch colons?

At first view, there is a common ground for this regrouping. Both organisations seem politically similar in that both have not given any serious consideration to the Fourth International program. For instance, the “official document” has a lot to say a lot about Social Forums, “an international counter revolution” (in fact a diversion similar to Stalinist-backed international and national “Antifascist Congresses” and “Peace Conferences” of the 1930’s), but it has no single word for the real counter revolution barrier to the potential South African proletarian revolution, the “Triple Alliance”. The LOI and the WIVL make no attempt to break the “Triple Alliance” of ANC-SACP-COSATU that supports the bourgeois ANC government since 1994. The Triple Alliance is a typical popular front between the bourgeois nationalist party (the ANC), the main trade union confederation with a mass working class base (COSATU), is a bourgeois-workers’ party with the allegiance of a significant section of the South African working class the SACP. The ANC government it supports imposes the agenda of the trans-national corporations and of the local bourgeoisie which has now a Black minority.

Instead of this demand the WIVL manifesto for the 2009 general election, in which they were unable to stand because of undemocratic high deposit barriers they say; “Parliament is on the side of the capitalists,

Break the alliance with the ANC and SACP!” But we see that “break the alliance with the ANC and SACP; Replace the Cosatu leaders with working class fighters who will advance working class interests and who will pursue real working class independence.” This is half correct but crucially does not discern a class difference between the ANC and the SACP, and so does not attempt to drive a political wedge between them by means of mobilising the very considerable Black working base of the SACP against the ANC and thereby against the counterrevolutionary Stalinist SACP leaders. Given that you do considerable propaganda against the politics of class compromise that is the SACP’s politics this is apparently a minor reorientation in effort but surely a crucial one in terms of the effectiveness or your intervention. Simply aiming to beak COSATU from both makes your task far too difficult, because there is such an overlap between the leaderships of both groups, and, because it does not recognise the SACP as a part of the labour movement, a bourgeois-workers party in fact like the British Labour party although of different political origins, it is unable to wage a proper class struggle with a good prospect of making progress.

The WIVL does want to find a path to the consciousness of the masses and that is a big gap between them and the LOI and ILTF. So, the WIVL leadership have given some consideration to the applicability Transitional Programme and method today whereas the LTF do not consider it at all. Having conceded that “we agree that the state of Israel is a fascist state”, no doubt to signify their distance from Dov, it then proceeds to argue comrade Winter’s case that Israel is not a fascist state in almost the same terms as he does. For instance, they say:

“The winning of this workers’ unity, on this basis, is the cornerstone of any successful insurrection against the Israeli state. In South Africa the winning of the unity of significant sections of the white working class with the black workers, can be said to be a pre-condition for a successful insurrection in South Africa. The labelling by the FLT of all Jewish workers as an ‘aristocracy’ does not take into account differences among these workers (some being more exploited than others) and limits the necessary tactics that should be applied before and during an insurrection. For example, the Bolsheviks even developed cells within the most privileged layers of the army, the Junkers, in October 1917…[49] Revolutionary work is even needed within the reactionary Histadrut to win workers away from it and to support of the struggle against the Israeli state. On the other hand, revolutionary work among the poorer sections of the Jewish workers is likely, over time, to win them to the revolution- difficult work, but absolutely necessary”.[50]

Many would feel that despite the similarities the proportions are not the same, winning the white workers in South Africa or the Loyalists in the north of Ireland to the revolution is far more problematic and that only a major revolutionary upsurge in the Middle East will win the Israeli workers in big numbers. But the WIVL approach is more correct; a revolutionary party is necessary to achieve that and take advantage of such revolutionary upsurges. Crucially they reject the Pabloite objectivism which is apparent in all of the LTF’s texts and insist on the prime importance of this revolutionary leadership not only in leading the revolution but in preparing the masses by raising their consciousness without looking for the objective “leap in consciousness” which they rely on and they also reject the “workers in uniform” position on the army and correctly accuse the LTF of Blanquism:

“In Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution (volume 3- chapter VI the art of insurrection), he spells out that the first task in ‘every insurrection is to bring the troops over to its side.’ How is this to be done, except through a protracted period of work by the party among Jewish workers to support the Palestinian cause and of exposure of the Israeli state and the role of imperialism? Those who are not won through political work will have to learn through the revolutionary fire. The WIVL feels the FLT crucially omits any tactic to win the troops over to the revolution, other than defeat in a revolutionary war… The problem of conquering power can be solved only by a definite combination of party with soviets- or with other mass organizations more or less equivalent to soviets.’ Thus, in the absence of a party, in a revolution, power will go to those who hold back the working class (as in the case of Madagascar recently). The WIVL feels that the FLT too uncritically uses the principles of Blanquism and by the same breathe also underestimates the crucial role of the party before and during an insurrection. On this and the matter of the history of the establishment of the state of Israel further discussion is needed”.[51]

In their document on their website, A contribution to a short history of Communism, (With respect to South Africa and the SACP) the WIVL claim, “Lenin even went as far as to say that to place demands on the new government was to create illusions in them”. This seems to refer to Theses 3) of Lenin’s April Theses,

“No support for the Provisional Government; the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear, particularly of those relating to the renunciation of annexations. Exposure in place of the impermissible, illusion-breeding “demand” that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government”.

But this is a conditional prohibition, the government is not to be presented as if it had ceased to be an imperialist government, not that no demands at all were to be put on it. For instance here is Trotsky explaining why demands had to be put:

It was necessary for the many-millioned masses to discover the Party, and for the Party to discover the many-millioned masses. It was necessary not to rush too far ahead, but also urgent not to lag behind. It was necessary to keep on explaining patiently and persistently. What had to be explained were very simple things: “Down With the Ten Capitalist Ministers!” The Mensheviks refuse? So be it. Down with the Mensheviks! They laugh? There is a season for everything … He laughs best who laughs last.

On 18th June 1917 the SRs and Mensheviks called a demonstration of 500,000 to support their policy of continuing the war. But the Bolsheviks hijacked the demonstration politically and the slogans that swept it were, “Down with the ten capitalist ministers, All power to the Soviets”.   Trotsky observed, “It was a great victory, and moreover it was won on the arena and with the weapons chosen by the enemy.”

Demands on governments and workers reformist leaders are the very stuff of revolutionary politics. The question is WHAT demands and WHEN to place them and HOW to place them, not to ensure the salvations of the revolutionary purity of our souls by placing no demands at all. This piece of misplaced propaganda seems to be aimed at justifying your reluctance to place demands on the SACP and COSATU leaders.  And here, as we have seen above, there is no difference made between the ANC and the SACP; if it was correct to demand a Workers’ party and a Workers’ government at the time of the first post apartheid election in 1994 then today surely the task is to smash the Tripartite Alliance, that is break the bourgeois workers’ party that is the SACP and the trade union confederation that underpins it, COSATU, from the neo-liberal bourgeois ANC. In this light we will look at the WIVL’s critique of the Freedom Charter of 8 August 2008.

The critique begins with a fundamental error in its first sentence: “The first fundamental flaw of the Freedom Charter is that it is based on the assumption that in the current period there can only be a purely national development of capitalism”. Whilst this is a major flaw the first fundamental flaw of the Freedom Charter is that it defends the capitalist system. Proposing a “purely national development of capitalism” is HOW it defends capitalism, it could adopt a different tack in different circumstances. Moreover a great part of the document is given over to proving that this “purely national development of capitalism” is not properly fought for in the Freedom Charter and the ANC only defends a section of the bourgeoisie because it does not challenge imperialism and “without challenging imperialism the Freedom Charter is actually a programme to the co-option of a section of the black middle class as their junior partners”. This begs the question if we had a really anti-imperialist (but nonetheless capitalist) ANC, instead of the neo-liberal one we have today, which represented the entire bourgeoisie and middle class why would that be better?

The document is abstractly objectivist; if we could win the ANC/SACP over to be truly anti-imperialist then it would also automatically become anti-capitalist nationally and seek to overthrow capitalism in South Africa. Unfortunately there are many varieties of left bourgeois nationalism, some were and will be far to the left of Hugo Chavez with even better anti-capitalist rhetoric. Stalinists themselves have been forced by the developments of events and the existence of the Soviet Union to overturn capitalist property relations on the basis of “socialism in a single country” whilst excluding the working class from power and confining the deformed revolutions nationally, as in China, Eastern Europe and Cuba. We need programmatic clarity to fight for revolutionary socialism, this is largely absent from the document.

The WIVL gives an approximate outline of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution in paragraph 3 but again the objectivism appears, “‘nationalism’ is a spent force and is outdated” they say. Indeed it is for those politically advanced revolutionaries who understand the dynamics of the international development of the productive forces but it is not politically outdated either for the capitalists themselves, for individualist and counterrevolutionary reasons, or for the working class and oppressed masses, because of political confusion caused by their oppression and alienation. Later in the document the WIVL says ‘a fight for democratic demands means a fight against the capitalist class’ and go on to make a good case why. You would not have to do this if nationalism was POLITICALLY a spent force. Moreover although you outline that this fight for democratic demands must mean a fight against the capitalist system itself you do not say how this is to be made clear to the masses and their vanguard. If you intend to develop a programme of transitional demands then good, but you do not say so. The whole document orientates in the correct direction but has a frustrating vagueness and lack of direction because it cannot expound any clear programmatic demands. If it identified itself openly as a Trotskyist document it would naturally be impelled to orientate towards the Transitional programme and method as outlined about in the polemic with the LTF. The SACP have a counterrevolutionary programme which enables them to recruit the majority of the best militants from the Black working class; you must develop a programme, in collaboration with international co-thinkers, to win over those militants to revolutionary Trotskyism.

But Trotsky is not mentioned at all in the whole document, which is very strange for a Trotskyist group discussing the relationship between imperialism and a semi-colonial country like South Africa. Moreover it is doubly strange to mention China and the Kuomintang after 1927 and not to bring the reader’s attention to the great political struggle waged by Trotsky and the Left Opposition on this very question, in the course of which he updated and applied his famous theory of Permanent Revolution to all colonial and semi-colonial countries.  As an aside we hope you identify South Africa as a relatively advanced semi-colonial country like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Iraq, Iran, etc. and not as imperialist despite its role as acting as a surrogate for world imperialism in Africa?

Prior to 1928 the Comintern, in Lenin’s time and even after when Trotsky fought it politically, accepted wrongly that some backward countries were not ready for the socialist revolution and had to await the developments in the imperialist countries. Stalin took advantage of the confusion on both Lenin and Trotsky’s part to advocate a programmatic collapse before Chiang Kai Check and a class-collaborationist entry in the name of the Anti Imperialist United Front into the Kuomintang, resulting in the terrible massacre of the Shanghai soviet in 1927. In order to clarify us on these points the WIVL quote from Lenin’s April Theses of 1917. It is the off-quoted piece abandoning the previous programmatic orientation of the Bolsheviks to the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” and consigning his opponents to the “museum of old Bolsheviks”. It is not enough comrades.

Moreover this quote seemingly proves the WIVL are good Leninists, like some in the SACP, and seems to infer that in doing political battle with them it is best to leave Trotsky out of the equation. But you can only clarify these points by directly relevant Trotsky quotes, because only he and his Left Opposition co-thinkers fought for revolutionary bolshevism after Lenin’s death in 1924. Comrades, you have a political programme potentially available to you in Trotsky’s works which is built on the works of Marx and Engels and the First Four Congresses of the Comintern. The Transitional Programme is a guide for you and the Transitional method within that Programme will assist you in developing your revolutionary programme for South Africa. This is a thousand times more potent than that possessed by even the most subjectively revolutionary Stalinists, and a direct counterposition to the counterrevolutionary politics of Stalinism as a whole, you have nothing to apologise for and everything to be proud of in that heritage. Here you are showing a tendency to overcome your ultra-leftism by opportunist adaption.

To sum up, the WIVL has already understood the LOI leadership:

  1. is not interested in winning workers’ unity in Palestine or in South Africa,

  2. does not address workers in Palestine when they are Jews,

  3. chats about revolution without any tactics toward the army,

  4. forgets the necessity for the party.

Well, good luck for the merger!

9.    Conclusion

The LOI is not interested in the world working class but in the narrow “Trotskyist” milieu where it tries to be the radical wing, a not so difficult task today when your opponents are  the MST, NPA, SWP (UK)… This kind of leadership cannot collaborate with true revolutionists. True, they consider the latter as their main enemies, hence the violence of FLT campaign against LM (now CRPP), GB and SF. On the one hand, you have to explain to your membership why you cannot work with some groups that your praised the day before, so you have to invent that they turned 180°, they capitulated to labour aristocracy, to Zionism, to colonialism, to imperialism and to pretend they are the “fifth wheel of NPA”, claims that look absurd in Europe (but you do not care, because your absurdities are for people who do not speaking French and live far away). On the other hand, as you used to lie so often to your own membership and to readers of your irregular press about the events, it is easy to make another step into the mud, to calumniate the communists, repeating mantras so many times that they become the truth for those who do not need to read other documents and foreign papers nor think for themselves. In this way, you are only able to build a sect.

You replace truth by dreams and lies. In appearance, it is an orgy of exclamation brackets and apocalyptic words (“colonial empire”, “huge upsurge”, “colonies”, “heroic”, “fascist”, “war cry”, “semi-revolutionary”, “revolutionary situation”, “general strike”, “genocide”, etc.). In practice, it masks your flight away from trade union work, your opportunist electoral combinations, your transfiguration of the “days of action” of union bureaucracies in ”general strikes”, your opportunist call to an union bureaucracy to lead an insurrection, your inclination toward one of the worst enemies of workers and socialist revolution, Islamism. In this way, your international current is built on sand.

The Fourth International was launched over seventy years ago to solve the acute problem of working class leadership, to build a new party. As every workers organisation, it suffered pressures of other class forces (bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeoisie). It resisted the first wave of internal revision, a Stalinophobic minority led by Burnham and Shachtman which split the American section. But it did not resist the second wave from its own Stalinophile and pro bourgeois nationalist fraction led by Pablo and Mandel which expelled the French section and tried to liquidate every section which resisted the “International Secretariat”. The revisionist Fourth International soon played an infamous role in Bolivia, in East Germany, in Ceylon, etc. The 1951-1953 destruction of the Fourth International, the degeneration, since, of every section which has more or less resisted to opportunism and liquidation (PCI, SWP…) has aggrieved the crisis of the leadership. Whilst we would give critical support retrospectively to “anti-Pablo” International Committee split of 1953, sparked by JP Cannon’s Open Letter, that quickly failed because of the anti-internationalist degeneration of the US, British and French leaderships. It became apparent in the 1963 reunification of the US SWP with the Mandel-led “Fourth International” and the failure of the SLL and PCI to deal with the Cuban question that they had only fought Pablo with Pabloism and were no revolutionary alternative.

So there was no alternative for the working class to social-democracy, Stalinism, anarchism and petty-bourgeois nationalism, in spite of many struggles and even revolutions. At the end of the 20th century, the imperialist counter-offensive succeeded in defeating British miners, restoring capitalism in USSR and China, invading two countries, demoralizing the working class everywhere and causing further degeneration in the workers movement. Never in history have workers seen such confusion, so many divisions, renegades and regressions.

The LOI leadership, with its irresponsible postures and its opportunist short-cuts, its caudillism and its double talk, its invectives against experienced and dedicated revolutionaries, is not the solution, but a part of the problem. To solve it, to be really useful to our class, to build the party of world socialist revolution, revolutionary communists have to practise real international collaboration, to be intransigent but also modest, lucid, patient, honest and serious.

The new International cannot form itself in any other way than that of struggle against centrism. Ideological intransigence and flexible united front policy are, in these conditions, are two weapons for attaining one and the same end.[1]


[1] Gerry Downing’s Documents All correspondence between the LTF and Socialist Fight are at this site.


[3]  Trotsky, Salut à La Vérité,

[4] That is the application today of Trotsky’s approach to the class struggle as a whole as outlined in the Transitional Programme of 1938.

[5] Lenin, Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder,

[6] Trotsky, Lessons of October,

[7]  Trotsky,

[8] Trossky,


[10] The piqueteros organisations are unions of redundant workers. They appeared in the 1990’s, blocking roads or streets. Most are controlled by the centrist organisations. Their apparatuses receive money from the bourgeois state and distribute it among rank and file members, assuring a clientele to the political parties in a social-democrat fashion.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Trotsky, Lettre à Fred Zeller, 1936, Œuvres t. 9, EDI, p. 56.

[14]  Trotsky, What Next?, Vital Questions for the German Proletariat,

[15] Trotsky, For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism, 1931,

[16] Many have postulated that this “leap” happened in 1917 in Russia and in Spain in 1936. This is ignores the previous twenty years of work of the Bolsheviks in Russia and the decades of work by the anarchists and others in Spain for decades before the revolution 1936.

[17] Point 10 of the LTF letter leaves us in no doubt: “This is not a letter as the one we sent before, which was informal, so you could know our elaborations on our positions. This is the official position of the International Action and Coordination Secretariat of the LTF”.

[18] Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder,

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Trotsky, On the Sino-Japanese war, September 23, 1937,

[22] International Workers Organiser, periodical of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (LTF),  Issue No. 1, September 2008,

[23] Villa, Jose. The 1952 Revolution: How the 4th International and the POR betrayed the revolution which could have carried Trotskyism to Power

[24] Trotsky, Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation, An Interview with Mateo Fossa, (September 1938)

[25] Ibid.

[26] Trotsky, What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat Part I

[27]Cannon, JP. The History of American Trotskyism p. 118 1979 Pathfinder edition.



[30] Trotsky, What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat

[31] Paul David Webb,

[32] Change to Win And AFL-CIO Unveil Unified Immigration Reform Framework, April 14, 2009

[33] The economics of migration: managing the impacts, June 2007,,

[34] Trotsky, Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay, 1940.

[35] Moreno, Para una Palestina laica, democrática y no racista,

[36] The Yugoslav Revolution, Resolution Adopted by the Third Congress of the Fourth International—Paris, April 1951,

[37]  Les Congrès de la 4e Internationale, La Brèche, vol. 4, p. 289.

[38] Moreno, Para una Palestina laica, democrática y no racista,

[39] WRP, Published: 2005

[40] Trotsky, Stalin and the Chinese revolution, 1930, On China, Pathfinder,  p. 469.

[41]  Trotsky, A retreat in full desorder, 1930, On China, Pathfinder,  p. 487.

[42] Khaled Hroub, A Beginner’s guide to Hamas, Pluto Press, 2006.

[43] Hamas, Founding Charter, art. 11. Waqf is “an inalienable religious endowment in Islam, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes” (Wikipedia).

[44] Ibid, art. 22.

[45] Ibid, art. 32.

[46] PFLP, Communication, 30 January 2009.

[47] Official document on the establishment of the Joint Committee for the International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (JC-ILTF)

[48] Cat’s paw is a phrase derived from La Fontaine’s fable, “The Monkey and the Cat“, referring to one used unwittingly by another to accomplish his own purposes.

[49] This is wrong. The reference should be to the Cossacks, the Junkers were the reactionary landowning ruling class of Prussia and then of the post-1871 united Germany.

[50] Official document on the establishment of the Joint Committee for the International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (JC-ILTF)

[51] Ibid.

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