The principal tendencies that emerged from the 1953 split failed either then or subsequently to raise themselves out of the centrism into which the FI as a whole had sunk. Neither the international Committee nor the International Secretariat, nor any of the tendencies claiming continuity with them, have proved capable of regenerating a democratic centralist international based upon a transitional programme re-elaborated to encompass the new circumstances and tasks of the last thirty years.
The Pablo-led IS had given definitive proof of its centrism during the events in Bolivia in 1951-2. In this country the FI had an organisation that enjoyed mass influence - the POR, led by Guillermo Lora.
The POR's positions and the IS' attitude to these positions indicated that the revision of the Trotskyist programme had been a question of deeds and not merely a theoretical question in the period leading up to the Third World Congress in 1951. Pablo, in his report to the 1951 congress stated that: ".....the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist mass movement often assumes confused forms, under a petty bourgeois leadership as with APRA in Peru, with the MNR in Bolivia." 51
This description of the MNR, which was undoubtedly a bourgeois party, gave the seal of approval to the POR's conciliatory attitude to this movement, particularly when it assumed government. In the crucial test of revolution the POR failed to advance an independent communist programme.
The revolution in Bolivia on April 9th 1951 brought to power the bourgeois nationalist MNR, under Pal Estensorro. This capitalist government presided over a situation approaching dual power. Its position was highly unstable. Increasingly the question of class power was being posed. A determined revolutionary policy could have won the masses from the MNR, in whom they had illusions, to the Trotskyists.
The POR chose a different line of advance however the MNR government was not characterised clearly as a bourgeois obstacle to a genuine revolutionary workers' and peasants' government. Lora offered the following alternative view: "Today, far from succumbing to the hysteria of a struggle against the MNR, whom the pro-imperialists have described as 'fascists' we are marching with the masses to make the April 9th movement the prelude to the triumph of the workers' and peasants' government. "
It was for this reason that the POR raised as a central slogan: "Restoration of the constitution of the country through the formation of an MNR government which obtained a majority in the 1951 elections".53 By this method the POR claimed to facilitate a "differentiation" within the MNR mass base, between revolutionary and reactionary elements. In fact it capitulated to the illusions of the masses in the MNR. It led to disastrous tactical conclusions. Lora put forward the demand for "worker ministers" from the COB (Bolivian Trade Union Central) to be admitted to the capitalist government. The POR did not call for a workers' and peasants' government based on soviets and a militia.
They did not demand that the COB leaders break with the bourgeoisie and take the road of struggle against it and the MNR government. Instead the POR posed a workers' and peasants' government as a future "natural emanation" from the left wing of the MNR and the workers' organisation, which would follow the "prelude" (in other words, stage) of an MNR government.
Instead of combining opposition to, and non-confidence in, the MNR government with independent support for its progressive measures and military defence of it against imperialism and domestic reaction, the POR gave it "critical support": "The POR began by justifiably granting critical support to the MNR government." 54 This formulation can only mean political support for the government, not simply critical support for its actions.
The POR's justification for giving a bourgeois government a form of political support and not just defence against reaction (an important distinction as Lenin showed in relation to the Kerensky government during the Kornilov coup) was the supposed "exceptional" nature of Bolivia and its revolution. The government was a petit- bourgeois government (defending whose class interests?). In addition it was declared to be an example of "Bonapartism sui generis". This latter neologism was quite in keeping with Pablo's method vis-a-vis "entrism sui generis." Lora's view of Bonapartism sui generis was that it rested on the proletariat against imperialism - and vice versa. This happy duality meant that one could support it insofar as it struggled against domestic reaction and imperialism. This was, in essence, the same policy that Stalin and Kamenev applied towards the Provisional Government in Russia before the appearance of Lenin's April Theses, and that Stalin applied in China in 1926.
The POR operated throughout 1951-2 under the slogan "For total control of the Cabinet by the Left". Even in 1953 Lora still referred to the Pal Estensorro government as "the transitional government of the Bolivian revolution." 55 In 1954 the majority of the POR followed the logic of the organisation's position, broke from it and joined the MNR.
Neither the IS nor the IC carried out any serious analysis or drew up any balance sheet of these events, so rich in experience and mistakes.
Their silence at the time and since can only be interpreted as approval of the POR's line. Thus the international leaderships, like the POR itself, failed the test of revolution. For its part the POR, dislocated from the FI after the revolutionary events, was abandoned to its fate.
Lora remained without international links until the late 1960s and played no role in the 1953 split. Under these conditions the POR developed a Bolivian-centred "national Trotskyist" outlook.
The Pablo-Mandel IS consistently failed to raise Trotsky's programme of political revolution in the repeated crises and upheavals that wracked Stalinism in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. In the early '50s, it held out hopes for a process of reform led by Tito-ite tendencies from within the bureaucracy. Consequently it failed to advance the political revolutionary programme at the time of the East German workers' rising of 1953.
Although the document, "Rise, Decline and Perspectives for the Fall of Stalinism" passed at the "Fourth World Congress" in 1954 did contain certain "orthodox" statements (as a result of amendments from the LSSP) with regard to the necessity of political revolution, it is nevertheless based upon a shallow optimistic fatalism: "What is entirely new in the situation is that we have reached the stage, forecast in the transitional programme, where the 'laws of history' reveal themselves as 'stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus'.
Of the two forces determining the orientation of the masses - the death agony of capitalism which unleashes immense revolutionary forces on a world scale and the policy of the reformist and Stalinist bureaucratic apparatuses, which play the role of a brake upon the masses - it is the first which is coming more and more to the fore." 56
The "Soviet bureaucracy" it is stated, "is no 10l~er capable of smashing and arresting" this "revolutionary tide." The suggestion that Trotsky believed that at some future stage "objective processes" would of themselves resolve the balance of forces between the proletariat, imperialism and Stalinism is a complete travesty of his position. What Trotsky did see was that the objective conditions of capitalist decay and crisis together with the treacherous and self defeating policies of Stalinism and social democracy, created a "crisis of leadership".
Because the "revolutionary will of the proletariat" cannot, historically, be obliterated, despite the strength of the old apparatuses, then this crisis, "can be resolved only by the Fourth International". Trotsky's dialectical understanding of the relationship between objective and subjective factors in the class struggle was replaced in the Pablo-Mandel schema by an evolutionary optimism which was more akin to the method of Kautsky - but so much the more false and ridiculous in that it came fifty years post festum. This method derived directly from the false analyses of the post-war bureaucratic revolutions.
The International Secretariat applied exactly the same method to the crisis of Stalinism in the 1950s. Furthermore "splitting from the Kremlin" a la Tito, was identified as tantamount to a movement from counter-revolutionary Stalinism to mere "centrism" or "opportunism". Thus, from the starting point that the Yugoslav and Chinese CPs had "led victorious revolutions" and "in these instances ceased to be Stalinist parties in the proper meaning of the term" the inescapable conclusion was drawn that "since both the CCP and to a certain extent the YCP are in reality bureaucratic centrist parties which, however, still find themselves under pressure of the revolution in their countries, we do not call upon the proletariat of these countries to constitute new revolutionary parties or to prepare a political revolution in these countries." 58
Even in the Russian and East European states a strategy of entrism in the state parties was advocated. The programme of political revolution was reduced to eight "democratic" demands entirely devoid of any tactical or strategic orientation. Whilst de-Stalinisation and the "New Course" were seen as having positive effects in that they promoted differentiation and were a motor of change, no attention was paid to the strategy and tactics of political revolution, the tasks posed by the overthrow of the bureaucracy. The role and function of soviets, the general strike, the arming of the working class, the struggle against restorationist forces - none of these are even mentioned.
The proposed programme of reforms was intended to be palatable to the ever hoped for "centrist" section of the bureaucracy:
"1. Freedom for working class prisoners.
2. Abolition of repressive anti-labour legislation.
3. Democratisation of the workers parties and organisations.
4. Legalisation of the workers parties and organisations.
S. Election and democratic functioning of mass committees.
6. Independence of the trade unions in relation to the government.
7. Democratic elaboration of the economic plan by the masses for the . masses.
8. Effective right of self-determination for the peoples." 59
This programme fails to link any of these demands to the struggle to overthrow the bureaucracy and establish proletarian power. Indeed, a strategy for this goal is not raised, precisely because of the IS's view of the bureaucracy as containing potential centrists within it.
Between 1954 and the Fifth World Congress in 1957, further enormous upheavals occurred in the degenerate workers' states and the USSR.
The 20th Congress of the CPSU "Secret Speech" by Khruschev and the ensuing concessions, the revolutionary uprisings against the bureaucracy in Hungary and Poland - all in 1956 - made a deep impression on the IS leadership. Mandel gave the report to the Congress on the crisis within Stalinism. The reactions of the YCP and the CCP to the Hungarian events, while admitted to be uneven, were held to be progressive, confirming the reform perspective.
Whilst the revolutionary upsurge in Hungary produced an apparent move to the left by the IS leaders – i.e. they openly supported it, they accompanied this with a full-scale and explicit revision of the programme of political revolution. For Mandel and the IS leadership the Hungarian and Polish events had proven that a wing of the bureaucracy would follow the Tito-Mao road: in Hungary-Nagy, in Poland - Gomulka. Even in the USSR the "centrist" faction of Khruschev was crowded on its left by Malenkov and Mikoyan, who, whilst not of the Nagy/Gomulka mould, presaged the emergence of such a tendency. In a bid to facilitate such tendencies in the bureaucracy, the programme of the political revolution for Eastern Europe 'and the USSR was completed revised.
Since the prospect of political revolution was seen to depend upon a section or wing of the bureaucracy, soviets could not be posed as organs of struggle against the whole bureaucracy. Political revolution was considered as (Le. replaced by) peaceful competition between an "FI faction" and the rest of the bureaucracy for the leadership of the working class.
From this point onwards the notion of workers' councils or soviets as revolutionary organs of struggle is lost and replaced by the conception of soviets merely as organs of administration, for bringing the disembodied "world, revolution'" masses into political life, and to ensure that the plan is agreed in a democratic forum.
The political revolution is thus reduced to a peaceful withering away of the bureaucratic caste. This programme of "political revolution" emerged from the Fifth Congress as a unified strategy for all workers' states. It was merely a question of the ease and rapidity with which the objective crisis within Stalinism would produce the necessary tendencies and splits within the bureaucratic castes. The later congresses of the IS and then the USFI merely repeated these formulae, adding nothing by way of programme.
The Leninist Comintern and Trotsky's Fourth International operated with an understanding of the imperialist epoch as one of wars and revolutions, the epoch of the historic decline of capitalism. The Leninist CI clearly recognised the existence of revolutionary periods and pre-revolutionary situations as well as their opposites. The "world revolution" did not mean for the CI some disembodied objective process, it was the combination of the proletarian revolutions in the developed imperialist countries and the anti-imperialist upheavals of the colonies and semi-colonies.
Likewise Trotsky understood the "Permanent Revolution" as a strategy for the winning of working class power in the imperialised countries. The basis of this strategy was a programme and tactics to enable a party to lead the working class and the oppressed masses from the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic and national revolution to the proletarian and international revolution.
By contrast, in the Pablo-Mandel method the "World Revolution" was elevated into a "process", a demiurge which was always advancing somewhere or in some form. In addition to the "World Revolution" this process was given equally spurious regional or pan-national character, for example the "Central American" revolution or the "Arab" revolution. This not only confused the "laws of history" with the strategic objectives for which the party had to organise the struggle but, in addition, it threw into the melting pot the democratic, anti-imperialist and proletarian goals. Consequently, instead of developing "perspectives" in which the tasks of revolutionaries were identified on the basis of scientific analysis, the Pablo-Mandel IS reduced "perspectives" to speculation, often highly fanciful, about what direction history would take next and, as a result, to which political formation they should next adapt themselves in order not to be left behind.
The "historical process" could now drive Stalinists, left social democrats, petit-bourgeois nationalists and anti-imperialists to act as the revolution's unconscious agents. It could force them, as its "blunt instrument", to follow a "roughly revolutionary" orientation. Accordingly the Pablo Mandel leadership turned the IS into a specialist at adapting to all such currents. The inconvenient shattered remains of Trotskyist groups in China, Vietnam and Cuba were ignored and even slandered, so that the IS could play the role of friendly critics to their Stalinist gaolers and executioners.
In the imperialist countries, "deep entry" or "entrism sui generis" survived several different "perspectives" which were supposed to justify it at particular times. First the post-war revolutionary crisis, then the impending "pre-World War 3 " crisis were supposed to create a mass left-centrist current which could be helped to evolve towards Trotskyism by friendly criticism and organisational assistance. 'To ensure this, however, Trotskyists had to avoid frightening this current or isolating themselves from it. Hence it became urgently necessary to hide the Trotskyist programme. Whilst Pablo acted as advisor to the petit bourgeois nationalist FLN, Mandel edited the paper of the Belgian left reformists.
Both of necessity, acted as apologists for their respective employers. In the early 1960s the transitional demands of the programme were diluted into a series of "structural reforms" centred on a left reformist version of "workers control" (self-management or autogestion). Both the Leninist Party and the Trotskyist programme were liquidated. The policy of this period can only be characterised as right centrist. That IS to say it was at the level of practice indistinguishable from left reform ism or petty bourgeois nationalism (in the metropolitan and colonial countries respectively). Yet the IS tendency (and later the USFI) was still centrist capable of swinging towards revolutionary positions under the external pressure of events. Under its existing leadership, however, the tendency was not capable of developing a stable leadership based o~ a re-elaborated revolutionary programme.
Both the Pablo-Mandel IS and, later, the Mandel USFI were capable of left and right zigzags; to the right from 1963-68, left from 1969-74 and then again to the right.
At the IS Fifth Congress (October 1957) a hardening of the position towards the Kremlin had taken place. This was a shift away from Pablo and towards Mandel, Frank and Maitan. The IS was now increasingly orienting itself towards the Algerian revolution and Pierre Frank's theses on the "Colonial Revolution" stressed the importance of the colonial world as the epicentre of world revolution.
Two years later the Cuban Revolution solidly confirmed the IS\in its turn away from adaptation to reform currents within metropolitan Stalinism in favour of Third World guerrilla, nationalist movements. Frank pioneered the revision of "Permanent Revolution" into a semi-automatic process whereby, as a result of the weakness of the colonial bourgeoisie, a blunt instrument was enough to cut down Third World Capitalism. This coincided exactly with the response from Cannon and Hansen to the Cuban Revolution. It was this rapprochement which broke up the SWP – Healy/Lambert non-aggression pact within the IC. The SWP could not ignore developments in Cuba and they could only analyse the overturn of property relations there by using the method that had been used for Yugoslavia i.e. Pablo's method.
With both the IS and the SWP undertaking identical liquidationism with regard to Castro the only remaining block to unity was Pablo and his "personal regime" in the international. However Pablo was a waning force in the IS and was greatly weakened by the defection of his Latin American lieutenant, Posadas, in 1962. Pablo did not survive the 1963 re-unification, leaving the USFI the following year.
Whilst the SWP's adhesion to the United Secretariat marked the acceptance of all the fundamentals of "Pabloism", the IS dropped its attempts to impose 'any discipline on the SWP. Thus, the latter's view of "internationalism" prevailed in the new formation. The political basis of the USFI is well expressed in "The Dynamics of World Revolution Today" (1963). It centres on the Third World "epicentre"; it divides World Revolution into "great ethnographical zones" each with its own sub-revolution. Within these zones, Permanent Revolution becomes an automatic process whereby the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles are driven over into socialist struggles: "continual mass movements have drawn one backward country after another into the process of permanent revolution"60.
The "strategy" and tactics that the USFI drew from this were characteristically chameleon-like. If in the Stalinist states they should take on the colouration of democratic reformers or "reform communists" and in Western Europe they were to take on the appearance of "centrist" social democrats or Stalinists then, in the colonial world, they became artificial petit-bourgeois populists. "The Dynamics of World Revolution Today" solemnly writes off the "industrial factory workers" as not the "main strength" of the proletariat, which is now seen as "miners, plantation hands, agricultural workers and the largely unemployed" 61. '
It cheerfully "admits" that Marxist theory did not forecast the radical and decisive role of the peasantry, i.e. it accepts the Stalinist slander that Trotskyism "underestimates the peasantry". It remarks that peasants, living under tribal conditions, will, "remain an ally of the proletariat throughout the whole process of permanent revolution." 6 Again "The Dynamics of World Revolution Today "asserts the possibility” of coming to power with a blunted instrument,,63. It is conceded that guerrilla warfare, on the basis of the Cuban model can "play a decisive role".
Thus the USFI was founded upon an aggravated repetition of the adaptation to alien class forces that had been pioneered in the period from 1948-51. The main target then was petit-bourgeois Stalinism; the new one was petit-bourgeois nationalism and the various forms of Stalinism in the colonial world; Maoism, Castroism-Guevarism etc.
Once again the inability of this brand of degenerate Trotskyism to prove itself a communist current, in decisive events, was demonstrated. In Ceylon the IS and then the USFI had, in the LSSP, a section with a mass following. As in Bolivia in the early 1950s,it was possible to test the USFI leaders in action. Once again it was a story of failure on the part of the section and complicity in that failure by the international leadership.
In Ceylon the LSSP was more like a social democratic party than a Leninist one, as regards both its structure and the consciousness of its lower cadre. Mandel himself was later to acknowledge this: "While being formally a Trotskyist party the LSSP functioned in several areas comparably to a left Social-Democratic party in a relatively 'prosperous' semi-colonial country." 64 Obviously the leaders of the FI knew this all along, but they saw no reason to drastically correct it. After all, if a left social democracy could itself project a revolutionary orientation then so could the "social democratised" LSSP.
Further, if in the semi-colonial countries a "blunt instrument" was sufficient for revolutionary purposes, then it would be stupid for the FI to cut itself off from the LSSP and the prestige of its electoral successes and mass base just for the sake of some of the "old Trotskyist" principles. Thus it did not matter that N.M. Perera, a leading trade unionist and MP, was clearly a reformist, with whom the Marxist centre of the LSSP had split in 1942. When the same centre wanted to re-unite with him in 1950 the proposal was given the blessing of Pablo and Mandel.
Throughout the 1950s the practice of the LSSP was increasingly limited to elections and trade unionism, not revolutionary agitation. In 1960 when the SLFP of the Bandaranaike family gained the largest number of seats and the LSSP lost two of their previous 12 seats, the "Marxist" leaders, Leslie Goonewardene, Colin de Silva and .Bernard Soyaa were thrown into crisis. In 1956 they had given the bourgeois SLFP (which had enjoyed widespread support amongst the peasants, whom the LSSP had largely ignored) "responsive co-operation" when it was hi government.
In 1960 they opted to give the new Bandaranaike government "critical support". Here again, as in Bolivia, an FI section went beyond the defence of a government, which was carrying out democratic or anti-imperialist measures against domestic or imperialist reaction, to political support for that government (albeit with "criticisms"). Only in 1961 did the IS and its World Congress call for a radical change in the political course being carried out by the LSSP, after the LSSP had voted for the SLFP's budget in 1960. This criticism was too little, too late. The failure of the IS and later the USFI to support the building of a fraction of the left in the LSSP, paved the way for the later treachery.
In the context of what was to happen in 1964, Pierre Frank's explanation of why the IS refused to call a left faction into being is nothing short of disgraceful. In his oily and deceitful history of the FI, he says that the left, in the persons of Edmund Samarakoddy and Bala Tampoe, "defended correct, principled positions, but in a political form that the International considered sectarian".65
This "sectarianism" consisted of a refusal to go peacefully along with the class collaboration being cooked up by Perera and not properly opposed by Goonewardene. Obviously too much for Trotsky's former foe, the unreconstructed opportunist Frank, to stomach. The results of the IS's refusal to give wholehearted support to the left, and the left's own failure to organise an independent faction fight, quickly followed.
In 1963 the LSSP formed a popular front with the Stalinists and a small party called the MEP, which was predominantly petit- bourgeois in composition, on the basis of a government programme of limited reform demands. This United Left Front, as Mandel and Frank termed it, was the policy argued for by the FI leaders. In April 1964 the USFI wrote to the LSSP: "The United Front of the left, strengthened by mass struggle and directed to the - establishment of its own political power on a genuinely socialist programme, provides a means of stemming the tide of reaction and uniting the masses and ranks of our own party for the ultimate realisation of our perspectives, Ceylon can provide another Cuba or Algeria and prove to be of even greater inspiration to revolutionary minded workers throughout the world," 66
The goal of the "Trotskyists" had thus become to provide the world working class with another Castro or Ben Bella! For the LSSP the choice soon became one between a popular front in government with the SLFP, or a popular front out in the cold against the SLFP. The USFI were not able to provide any principled timely guidance.
When mass strikes threatened to topple the SLFP government strikes in some cases led by LSSP left wingers - in the spring of 1964, the LSSP leader Perera entered into negotiations with Mrs Bandaranaike who, since her husbands' death, was leader of the SLFP. An agreement was struck, The LSSP congress voted by a big majority in favour of a deal and Perera entered the government as Finance Minister. The arrival of Pierre Frank armed with the FIs belated threat of expulsion one day before the LSSP's conference could not stop the LSSP leaders.
In Ceylon, as in Bolivia, Pablo, Mandel, Frank and the SWP leaders' politics were carried into life and revealed as thoroughly Menshevik in nature. The semi-colonial bourgeoisie (or an anti-imperialist wing of it) and thoroughly bourgeois nationalist parties were given "critical support" in the manner of the Stalin-Bukharin Comintern.
The 1966/7 "left turn" of the Castroites (OLAS, Guevara's intervention in Bolivia etc) had a dramatic effect on the USFI. By the time of its 1969 Congress the adaptation had reached the stage of espousal of guerrilla warfare as the strategy of the Third World "revolution'~ Such armed struggle was stressed "not merely as one of the aspects of the revolutionary work, but as a fundamental aspect on a continental scale." 67 In this way the whole programme of this "Fourth International" amounted to nothing more than a carbon copy of Guevarism.
The central and leading role of the proletariat, its tactics and methods of struggle, soviets, democratic and transitional demands, the Leninist Party, everything was thrown unceremoniously overboard. It was only the chaos that this policy wreaked in the Latin American sections, together with the failure of Guevarism and Castro's return to "orthodox" Stalinist tactics in the early 1970s that brought an end to this experiment.
The SWP(US) and its allies in the Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency/ Faction, were able to mount many formally correct "orthodox" criticisms of this policy. The SWP and its European supporters were motivated, however, by a desire not to see the ultra-leftism associated with guerrillaism applied in the metropolitan countries. They were strengthened in their opposition by support from the Latin American USFI leaders who knew from bitter experience the suicidal consequences of Guevarist schemas.
Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s the evidence against the 1969 decision mounted. The Argentine PRT (Combatiente) actually set up a guerrilla force, the ERP (People's Revolutionary Army) in 1970.
It suffered terribly from state repression and evolved politically towards populism/terrorism and broke from the USFI in 1973. Similar events occurred in Bolivia. From 1972 to 1977 the USFI was divided by factional strife over the issue. Eventually, in 1979, the 11th World Congress blandly announced that "the Fourth International promoted an incorrect political orientation for several years." 68
In the years 1968-74, in response to the major class struggles in France, Italy and Britain, the USFI made a sharp "left" turn. But this did not escape the orbit of left centrism, that is, it saw no return to the Leninist- Trotskyist programme or tactics. From 1969, in the metropolitan imperialist countries the USFI adapted to the consciousness of the student movement under the slogan of the "New Youth Vanguard".
This was based on an impressionistic "theory" of the May '68 events in France; that students could act as a "detonator", that colleges and universities should become "Red Bases", that the struggle was "from the periphery to the centre." These theories only aII1iounted to an excuse for stunts among the radical petty-bourgeoisie and an adamant refusal to orient the newly radicalised youth towards the working class and its traditional parties and trade unions.
In essence this "leftism" was an opportunist avoidance of the need to combat reformism in the working class. The USFI sections were consequently on the sidelines of the class struggle eruptions of the early'70s (e.g. in Britain 1972-4.) It was in this period (1972-4) that the Mandel-Frank-Maitan "European" majority developed their theory of a "New Vanguard of a Mass Character." This was to be an amalgamation of the youth (students) of the late 60s with the struggles of the Italian, Spanish and British workers. It was defined, conveniently, as "the totality of forces acting independently and to the left of traditional bureaucratic leadership of the mass movement." 69
The "Women's Movement" was to be added later. The perspective of this vanguard was the "creation of situations of dual power." The events in Portugal in 1974-5 completely wrecked this centrist policy and revealed the political bankruptcy that had devised it. In Portugal the "new mass vanguard" of young soldiers, workers, and students certainly existed and it was towards this formation that the IC (the' 'majority" USFI section) adapted itself. This milieu was characterised by illusions in the MFA(the Armed Force Movement) particularly in its charismatic leader Carvalho. When the Socialist Party of Mario Soares, excluded from power by the CP/MFA, turned to inciting counter-revolutionary attacks on the CP in the Summer of 1975, the LCI joined a popular front in support of the left-Bonapartist 6th Provisional Government. After the fall of that government they swung to the left and became involved in the "insurrection" that was provoked in November of that year.
Meanwhile, the pro-SWP section in Portugal supported Soares' counter-revolutionary campaign throughout the period on the pretext of "defending democracy". Neither section was actually able to pose a consistent defence of democratic rights against both the MF A and the counter-revolution, neither could utilise the united front tactic to win the proletarian rank and file of the CP and the SF. Thus, Portugal revealed in a particularly stark fashion the bankruptcy and inveterate centrism of the USFI, even in its leftward oscillations. Their positions amounted to a complete inability, indeed unwillingness, to fight against the misleaders of the working class, whether they be Stalinists, social democrats or petit-bourgeois nationalists.
The shipwreck of the majority's leftist position in the mid to late '70s resulted in a turn to the right and, therefore, to a certain rapprochement with the SWP. This turn was reflected in the 1979 Congress Documents. Once again it was the more circumspect and verbally more orthodox Mandel who pulled back from the leftist phase and prepared for a new adaptationist turn towards the "traditional bureaucratic leaderships" which the earlier phase had attempted to bypass. The. banner of the 1979 Congress was adaptation to left social democracy and Eurostalinism on the one hand and to petty bourgeois nationalism (the Sandinistas) on the other.
The USFI leaders prepared an adaptationist response to the development of "Eurocommunism". Mandel's "Theses on Socialist Democracy" discuss the question in an entirely formal, abstract and therefore fundamentally false and centrist fashion. His starting point is not the class struggle, particularly the struggle for power, but a debate on the desirability of an "extension of democratic rights for the toilers beyond those already enjoyed under conditions of advanced bourgeois democracy". 70
Thus, he envisages Soviets, first and foremost, as instruments of self-administration and not as instruments of struggle. From this angle he is anxious to defend the democratic rights of all parties, including bourgeois ones, provided they "in practice respect collective property and the workers' state constitution",71
This utopian recipe is served up as the only way to convince workers that communism is "democratic". In this the 1979 Congress, following Mandel, obscured the whole period of civil war that precedes and follows the seizure of power. In his eagerness to soothe the democratic illusions of the western proletariat and radical petit-bourgeois, Mandel covers over that "most authoritarian thing" - the revolution. He obscures the nature of parties as organs of class combat, he obscures the class nature and limits of proletarian democracy.
In Nicaragua the USFI's concern for democracy, bourgeois or proletarian, is, however, conspicuous by its absence. Here, after the Sandinistas took power, the USFI unceremoniously dropped its previous programme in favour of gentle advice to the FSLN that it should follow the "Cuban Road" (a policy strongly argued against by none other than Fidel Castro himself). The USFI informed the world that "The character and history of the leadership of the FSLN ...show that it would be an error to place any a priori limits beyond which decisive sectors of the FSLN leadership cannot go as the process of permanent revolution unfolds." 72
For this reason the GNR government, with its bourgeois ministers was supported by the USFI. This government was clearly a popular front Le. a class collaborationist one based on a programme of capitalist reconstruction and the demobilisation of the committees and spontaneous armed militias that had formed in the anti-Somoza insurrection. The USFI and the SWP offer, at best, a "Cuban" resolution to the situation. That is a controlled Stalinist overturn of property relations after the democratic workers' and peasants' organs of struggle have been converted into bureaucratic tools of the FSLN. There would be no question of proletarian democracy or of a healthy workers' state.
Thus the USFI confirmed once again that it had no programmatic alternative to the Castroite Stalinist programme. It therefore followed that the USFI intervened directly in Nicaragua to prevent the formation of a "Trotskyist" party, provoking a split with the forces of Moreno's Bolshevik Fraction on the eve of the 1979 World Congress.
In summation, the consequence of the ingrained centrism of the leadership of the USFI has been the dissolution of the principles of a disciplined combat party and of democratic centralism. The national section and the international itself are loose coalitions of permanent factionalists. In every serious pre-revolutionary or revolutionary situation the "sections of the International" have failed to maintain any strategic or organisational unity (Portugal, Iran, Nicaragua). The USFI sections systematically adapt to petit-bourgeois forces within and without the workers' movement. In the trade unions they baulk at the task of organising a communist-led movement of the base, of the rank and file, against the trade union bureaucrats of left and right.
The term "class struggle tendency" becomes a cover for a political bloc with the "left" elements of the bureaucracy and an alibi for not raising a communist action programme for the transformation of the unions and the throwing out of the bureaucrats. With regard to movements of the oppressed: women, nationalities, blacks and immigrants, gays, the USFI advocates "autonomous movements". It thus advocates "all class", i.e. class collaborationist movements, and dissociates itself from the struggle for proletarian and communist leadership in these struggles. It rejects the perspective of a party-led mass working class women's movement or rank and file movement in the trade unions. Furthermore it adapts to the petit-bourgeois ideologies within these spheres and struggles.
As we have seen neither the IC nor any of its principal components constituted a revolutionary opposition to the Pablo led IS.
They constituted one of the degenerating fragments of world Trotskyism, not a force for principled regeneration. Certain groupings today claim that the IC in 1953 did represent, albeit in a partial and inadequate manner an attempt to regenerate Trotskyism. Further, they would argue that the "IC Tradition" represents the continuity of Trotskyism, not withstanding the criticisms that might now be made of that tradition with hindsight. Not surprisingly it is groups emerging from or at some point involved with, the IC tradition that hold to such positions the British WSL, the iSt, groupings within the OCRFI/FI OCR) tradition etc. These judgements stem from a refusal to recognise that "Trotskyism': if it means anything, is the continuity of revolutionary communism. The formal adherence to dogma that characterised the IC was not revolutionary communism; in tactics, strategy and programme the IC groupings subverted communism.
The first thing to note about the "IC Tradition" is that it is a myth. It simply does not exist. The IC was never a coherent, programmatically united and democratically organised tendency. In the name of "orthodox Trotskyism" which was defined at the purely abstract level of being in favour of the building of Trotskyist parties (something the "Pabloites" had never had any real difficulty in accepting and articulating) - the IC groups split the Fl without a political fight in the sections or at the scheduled World Congress.
Apart from the SWP's Open Letter" and a handful of documents from the French and the Americans against "Pabloite Revisionism" - all of which actually centre on conjunctural events and do not draw up a political balance sheet of the method and emergence of "Pabloism" - no major documents of the IC were produced in 1953 or for a long time after. Several short resolutions were produced in 1954 and 1955 on Vietnam and Algeria, but that was all. The large sections of the IC- the SWP, the French and the British-gave no central direction to the smaller groups in Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Argentina (Moreno's FOR), Iceland, Switzerland, Greece and the Chinese exiles. The French, and then the British held the secretaryship but were unable or unwilling to galvanise the IC into active life as an international organisation.
In fact, the IC's lack of democratic centralism, or even a common internal or external organ, resulted in its sections being, in reality, national sects which developed along their own lines and adapted to the peculiarities of their respective countries on the basis of the Pablo/Mandel method. The smaller groups tended to suffer political colonisation by one or other of the larger ones; the Latin Americans by the SWP, the Europeans by either the British section (Socialist Labour League SLL - after 1959), or the French PCI (OCI after 1966, PCI again in 1982!). The SWP, the group with the largest resources published only six international discussion bulletins in ten years and "led" the IC much in the same way that it had "led" the Fl after Trotsky's death.
There was only one IC congress whilst the SWP .were members. It was held in Britain in 1958. On behalf of the SWP, Farrell Dobbs attended but refused to participate on a political basis. By this time the SWP was manoeuvring to cut loose from the IC and reunify with the IS . The Healy group produced no major attack on the politics of Pabloism until 1957 with W. Sinclair's (Bill Hunter) "Under a Stolen Flag". This belated reply to the Pabloites' analysis of Stalinism repeats the need for political revolution, warns against making concessions to the bureaucracy, but fails completely to trace the roots of Pablo's analysis of Stalinism. The failure to do this later allowed the SLL to accommodate to the Chinese Stalinists during the Cultural Revolution and sowed the seeds of Healy's support for the Mao wing of the Chinese bureaucracy. By this time the SWP, hungry for unity, had ceased criticising the IS publicly at all. Indeed public polemic was halted in June 1954!
Thus the "IC Tradition" as such cannot be said to have existed as a coherent body of politics in the 1950s at all. To all those who point to this non-existent tradition as the "continuity of Trotskyism" we throw back the question - in what documents, theses or positions?
The incoherent nature of the IC was demonstrated by the fact that a principal leader, Cannon, re-opened discussions with Pablo and the IS (via the LSSP) in 1954 (seven months after the split). He wrote to Goonewardene in May 1954 that "there.. . . . is still a chance" for reunification if only the world congress were postponed 7 3. That is, reunification was now only blocked by an organisational consideration.
This, despite the fact that the 1953 split was described thus, in the "Open Letter" "The lines of cleavage between Pablo's revisionism and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is possible either politically or organisationally." 74 In a word, this was rhetoric purely for public consumption. By 1956, Cannon and the SWP were again pushing for unity. In 1957, Cannon proposed a "sweeping organisational compromise, which would permit the formal unification of the international movement before the dispute is settled. This organisational compromise cannot be left to the chance decision of a Congress." 75
In fact, from early 1957, while Cannon and the SWP had nor changed their mind about Pablo's intolerable regime, they were drawing closer to the Mandel/Frank/Maitan axis, whose greater "formal orthodoxy" and verbal anti-Stalinism was gaining ground in the IS after the Hungarian revolution. This event rudely disturbed illusions of an uninterrupted process of reforms within Stalinism.
Khruschev and company were starkly revealed as the butchers of the Hungarian proletariat; Nagy and Gomulka as the treacherous misleaders of powerful political revolutionary movements. This did not, however, prevent the IS from describing the Gomulka-ites as "a centrist tendency evolving to the Left".
The triumph of Mandel's "harder" positions convinced Cannon that a deal could be struck. This, however, would have seriously endangered the separate national projects of Lambert and Healy who, consequently now revived their interest in the fight against "Pabloism". It was this Cannon opens the door to unity with the Pabloites in 1954 that prompted Healy to print Hunter's "Under a Stolen Flag" which declared that" the gulf between Pabloite revisionism and ourselves grows wider and wider.76
Healy pushed for a conference of the IC. When it took place in 1958, the one thing the SWP did ensure was that it did not proclaim itself "The Fourth World Congress of the FI" as the British proposed.
What did unite the IC groups in the '50s was their enmity towards Pablo and their resistance to his attempts to interfere with their national tactics. The Lambert La Verite group had been expelled by him in 1952. The British and Americans had witnessed his agents at work trying to foist a Stalinist oriented perspective on their organisations, at a time when they were working with union "progressives" in the US and left reformists in Britain. They all saw him as a challenge to the "constituted" national leaderships - Cannon, Healy and Lambert.
Thus the SWP talked endlessly of the "cult" of Pablo. Gerry Healy explained to the SLL in 1966 that:
"Then, in 1951, came Pablo". 77 Actually Healy had, at that time been working closely with Pablo for at least five years. The interminable series of splits that were later to take place within the IC arose because there was no common political basis to this "anti-Pabloism”. Each group had their own view of what the "essence of Pabloism" was. For the SWP, Pabloism equalled the "liquidation" of the party that is the organisational dissolution of the party. Whatever else Cannon proved himself willing to junk, he was determined to hang onto "the party". The problem for the SWP arose when the IS did not liquidate the FI or its sections. The barrier to unity was effectively removed.
For the Healy group the essence of Pabloism was an ever changing variety of things. It was capitulation to Stalinism, failure to build parties, an "objectivist" view of the revolution. All of these assessments changed as the Healyites own activities and political positions changed, often into what had once been characterised as "Pabloite" by Healy.
Thus, Healy was driven to discover the "roots" of Pabloism. His post1959 discoveries concentrated on the question of "method" and "dialectical materialism".
Building on Trotsky's strictures to the SWP to fight against pragmatism, Healy developed an abstract "philosophical" critique of Pabloism and of the Americans' later submission to it. This enabled him to turn his back on questions of programme and tactics where his own record was so compromised that it would not bear any serious inspection.
In 1966 he argued: "The differences between revisionism and revolutionary Marxism today boils itself down to the differences between idealism and dialectical materialism and not what this individual or that individual is supposed to have done".78 Very convenient for Healy! His "method" enabled him to wipe his own slate clean. But it was a far cry from Trotsky's method which always started with and returned to, experience, the supreme criterion of human knowledge.
For the French, the Lambert-led QCI, Pabloism was in essence neither liquidation of the party, nor a wrong philosophical method. Their initial and abiding hostility to Pabloism lay in their Stalinophobia. In their most refined definition of Pabloism, the OCI declared that Pablo's "formal" Marxism and his mechanical application of Trotsky's perspectives "had its finished expression in the conception of a finished Fourth International and parties, endowed with a pryramid style hierarchy, with world congresses, of ultra-centralist status, which had only to strengthen itself progressively". 79
This definition - a systematisation and' a defence of the IC's history of complete federalism - was elaborated, as usual, to suit a factional purpose. The OCI had no intentions of falling under the "democratic centralist" control of an SLL-dominated IC in 1966.
In all three groupings we find a shifting analysis of "Pabloism". The definitions produced were virtually all motivated by conjunctural, factional considerations. Of course there were a number of shared assumptions. The ridiculous idea that all evil stemmed from the person of Pablo, and that this was due to his petit-bourgeois class origins was a common thread inside the IC.
This was merely a useful means of diverting attention from the programmatic issues at stake. We assess the nature of somebody's political positions first and then deduce and demonstrate the class origins of those positions. This was how Trotsky dealt with the Burnham/Shachtman faction. The IC inverted Trotsky's approach, yelling petit- bourgeois at Pablo first, and giving his political positions only scant attention second.
In sum, we can see that "anti-Pabloism" is a meaningless term, an unscientific, non-political term. To assess the worth of the IC, therefore, it is necessary to look at the separate politics of its constituent parts.
As we have shown, from 1954 onwards the SWP lapsed from a position of fighting the IS, to one of fighting to re-unify the IC with the IS. Only organisational considerations were raised as an obstacle to early reunification. Ignoring the supposed political issues of the 1953 split, the SWP hagiographer Les Evans explained: "By 1956 their public line (i.e. the IS's -Eds) became very close to that of the International Committee, and the leadership of the SWP concluded that, on the political positions on which the two sides stood, continuation of the split could not be justified. It was time to consider re-unification".80
Following this "turn" by the SWP, Joseph Hansen carried out pioneering work to show that the SWP could outdo the IS in its capitulation to Stalinism. In 1958 he crisply summed up what the IS had obfuscated with sophistry - namely that the political revolution was merely a series of reforms. In his "Proposed Roads to Soviet Democracy" he wrote: "It is much closer to reality to view the programme of political revolution as the total series of reforms, gained through militant struggle, culminating in the transfer of power to the workers".81 Hansen really got his teeth into this theme after the Cuban revolution. Empirically registering the existence of an economy which was in essentials identical to Eastern Europe in Cuba, and noting the absence of a "Stalinist" leadership in the July 26th Movement, Hansen concluded that Cuba was a healthy workers' state.
Strong on pragmatism, but not too hot with dialectics, Hansen decided that there was no need for a Trotskyist party in Cuba, that Castro was an "unconscious Trotskyist" and that, therefore, the programme of political revolution did not apply to Cuba. We have dealt elsewhere with the Cuban revolution and Hansen's analysis of it.82 Suffice it to say that Hansen "overlooked" the absence of independent working class action and organisation in the Cuban revolution - soviets, a real workers' militia, workers' control in the planned economy, etc. He overlooked the stages of the Cuban revolution during which Castro became assimilated to Stalinism, he overlooked the demobilisation of the working class consciously carried out by Castro after the Bay of Pigs invasion. In short, he held a completely anti-Trotskyist view of the Cuban revolution.
This particular piece of revisionism not only cleared the way to re-unification with the IS in 1963. It provided a theoretical justification for the guerrilla-ist turn of the USFI in the late 1960s (despite Hansen's opposition to that turn). Today it has brought the SWP to the threshold of an abandonment of even the trappings of formal "Trotskyism".
Attacks on the theory of Permanent Revolution by Doug Jenness, a leader of the SWP, is a sign of things to come. The SWP is lurching ever closer to crossing into the Stalinist camp via the "Cuban road".
By 1963, with agreement on Cuba and the "Dynamics of World Revolution Today", the SWP quickly and unceremoniously cut loose from Healy and Lambert. Cannon, who had praised Healy's Labour Party work in 1962 was denouncing that same work as "Oehlerite" in 1963. A tirade against ultra-leftism was launched, and the United Secretariat of the Fourth International was formed.
The history of the IC after the desertion of the SWP in 1963 to form the USFI, and the history of the Organising Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI - CORQI) after the split between Lambert and Healy in no way represents the continuity of the Fourth International of Trotsky. It was not a more healthy current than the USFI. The topic at the heart of the split with the SWP - Cuba - was itself inauspicious. Healy and Lambert were unable to differ in method from the Hansen-Mandel analysis and were, therefore, forced simply to deny that an overturn in property relations had taken place in Cuba.
Healy and Slaughter insisted that Cuba was state capitalist, and Castro a bourgeois bonaparte like Nasser or Peron. To defend this curious and inconsistent position, they borrowed "normative" arguments from the new class theorists, and hid them under a barrage of Hegelianised "dialectics". The OCI, on the other hand, decided that a "phantom bourgeoisie" held power in Cuba, via Castro.
Such positions prevented any serious or searching analysis of the roots of the degeneration of the FI after the war. The SLL and the OCI, therefore, built into their politics different elements of the 1948-5 I revisionism. Whilst the IC was united only by the hostility to the USFI, and expressed this in a vacuous "anti-Pabloism", the two key organisations within it, the OCI and the SLL, were politically very different organisations which were moving in different directions.
Each filled the vacuum of "anti-Pabloism" with its own content. To understand the later turns of these organisations, to understand the entire process of their degeneration, it is necessary to trace their history prior to the split.
The Healy group, after the 1953 split, carried on for a short period with their own version of entryism sui generis, around the paper "Socialist Outlook". From 1954 when the paper was banned, Healy had no problems in switching his group into the Tribune milieu, selling Tribune until 1957 when the group supported the launch of "The Newsletter", supposedly an independent newspaper.
After the Hungarian revolution, defections from the British CP and the creation of loose socialist forums provided Healy with a new audience and recruits. After 1957, the Newsletter also served to rally a number of rank and file trade union militants around it. The theoretical journal "Labour Review" attracted some able intellectuals. Originally, Healy had insisted that both publications were not "sectional Trotskyist publications". This was in line with his earlier "deep entry" project.
The prospect of recruitment from the CP, however, modified this perspective and pushed the Healy group to more of an independent orientation. In 1959 the Socialist Labour League (SLL) was founded as an independent group, although 100 of its 159 founding members were still in the Labour Party. A relatively open and pugnacious campaign followed in the Labour Party's new youth organisation, the Young Socialists. It was led by SLL members, and resulted in the closing down of the YS and mass expulsions in 1964.
The same period had seen the SLL carrying out active trade union work, attracting 700 delegates to a rank and file conference in November 1959. The SLL also grew as a result of its active intervention within the CND. Here it dropped criticisms of the "disarmament" slogan in order to recruit, despite having levelled sharp criticisms of the IS in 1954 for having supported similar disarmament slogans.
By 1963, flushed with success, the Healy group returned to catastrophist perspectives of the type that Pablo had pioneered in 1950.
The difference lay in the conclusion drawn from the imminent collapse.
Healy substituted for Pablo's and his own former deep entry, a hysterical "third period" style fetishisation of "building the party". At its Fifth Annual Conference in 1963, the SLL Perspectives declared: "The problems of the British economy are so acute, and the relations between capital and its agents so full of contradictions, that the problem of power is in fact continually posed, provided there can be built a leadership".83 This involves a total confusion of the objective and the subjective.
A revolutionary situation in which the question of power is posed can materialise without a revolutionary leadership having been built in time to resolve the question in a communist direction. Furthermore, the suggestion that there was an immediate possibility of a revolutionary situation developing in Britain in 1963 was laughable. No matter, both parts of this formulation served to justify a dramatic turn towards "building the leadership" - an exaggerated party fetishism that was justified by the "impending catastrophe". The fact that reality repeatedly confounded this perspective was overcome by "philosophy".
That which had exorcised Pablo proved useful in exorcising reality from the SLL's perspectives documents. Such philosophy 'saved' the SLL from allowing "surface reality" (i.e. the continuing long boom and its effects on the working class) to obscure its "understanding" of the impending revolutionary crisis out of which the SLL would be ready to lead the workers. Hence the daily paper, hyper-activism and a huge turnover in membership.
Error began to turn into paranoia. Bad philosophy not only meant mistakes, it resulted in its adherents becoming enemies of the SLL, and therefore the raw material for...police infiltration. The SLL's/WRP's ludicrous elevation of "philosophy" in the name of party building, to a level way beyond the real world, inevitably produced not only sectarianism, but also twisted fantasy: "From time to time it is possible for the method of subjectivism and gossip to make an impact on cynics and tired refugees from the class struggle, but this is purely temporary...It is also very easy to exploit those tendencies who slander and gossip. The police do this constantly. They simply send agents into these groups (reference to the Cliff and Grant groups - Eds) who will be prepared to join heartily in condemning the SLL...It is simply that the irresponsible anti SLL factional climate in their group assists the police".84 By a sleight of hand, opposition to the SLL becomes assistance to the bourgeois state - and thus absolves the SLL from political debate with its opponents.
The SLL's catastrophism led inexorably to pronounced sectarian practice. From 1964 the SLL's perspectives were coupled with a profound misunderstanding of the socio-economic roots of reformism and a grossly schematic view of the "betrayals" of the Labour and trade union leaders. These leaders were presented as being constantly on the verge of completely discrediting themselves. As a result the party had to be fully ready to take over, and could be built by exposure (i.e. by purely literary means) of those leaders. The united front was rejected on the spurious grounds that it was only possible between mass parties.
They defined it as "a relationship between mass workers' parties of a temporary character for the purpose of winning the masses to the communist party".85 This was a narrow, one sided and false view of the united front. It led directly to the abandonment of organising a rank and file movement in the unions. In place of this, the SLL built the All Trades Union Alliance as its very own trade union organisation that put on impressive rallies, attracted unsuspecting militants and tried to rope them into the party.
This sectarianism was also extended to the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC). By the late 1960s, the VSC was mobilising thousands on the streets against US imperialism's slaughter of the Vietnamese. The masters of the dialectic, however, understood better the real nature of such demonstrations. In his "Balance Sheet of Revisionism", SLL/WRP "theoretician" Slaughter declared: "The content of the October 27th demonstration, the essential aim of the VSC and its political directors was, remains, the rallying together of some alternative to the building of the Socialist Labour League as the revolutionary Marxist party, and its daily paper". 86
Such sectarian hysterics did not stand in the way of profoundly opportunist politics. The Healyites supported the Mao wing of the Chinese bureaucracy during the "Cultural Revolution", They refused to recognise the struggle as one between wings of the bureaucracy with the masses being demagogically used as a stage army. After the Arab/Israeli war, the SLL began to venerate the "Arab Revolution" as part of their factional struggle with the OC!. By the 1970s, this veneration had turned the SLL/WRP and its press into the cheerleaders of the national bourgeoisies in Syria, Iraq, and most of all, Libya.
After the Iranian revolution' in 1978/9, the WRP's newspaper, "Newsline", became a constant apologist for the butcher Khomeini. The evolution of the SLL was a living proof of Trotsky's understanding of sectarianism, divorced from reality, leading to extreme factional irritability. This led, in the mid 1970s, to a full-scale conspiracy theory, which included an explanation of all the major problems of the FI as being the result of the activities of GPU and FBI agents in the SWP(US).
The La Verite group, later OCI, now known as the PCI, gave its own particular stamp to "anti-Pabloism", Under Lambert's leadership, the French group developed a thorough-going Stalinophobia, as an antipode to Pablo's Stalinophile revisionism. This was combined with a remarkable softness towards social democracy. Under the pressure of the Cold War, they turned to (and to this day remain active within) the anti-Communist union federation, Force Ouvriere.
Despite their "anti-Pabloism", the OCI capitulated to non revolutionary communist forces in the anti-imperialist struggle. During the Algerian war of independence, the Lambertists supported the MNA of Messali Hadj. The French inspired the 1955 resolution of the IC which declared: "In the person of Messali Hadj, the oppressed and exploited of the world possess a living symbol of this (anti imperialist/working class- Eds) struggle". 7 They supported the MNA against the Moscow-supported petit bourgeois nationalist FLN, on the grounds that the MNA had a proletarian orientation.
La Verite offered to defend "the genuine Algerian revolutionaries against FLN killers". 88 Their "anti-Pabloism" thus led the OCI to support a group of vacillating nationalists around Hadj against the more consistent nationalists of the FLN. The truth was that the MNA soon became a pawn in the hands of the French government against the FLN and the national struggle. The MNA ended up in a block with the OAS. Their "working class" orientation, presented by the Lambertists as a token of their revolutionism, did not prevent them from betraying the anti-imperialist struggle.
The Lambertists belatedly were forced themselves to admit this. However, it led them into a sectarian position with regard to anti-imperialist struggles. They refused to call for the victory of the NLF in its battle with American imperialism in the Vietnam war. In the 1967 Arab/Israeli war, the OCI condemned both sides as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary, and took a dual defeatist position.
A product of the OCI's Stalinophobia and softness on social democracy, was its chronic tendency to substitute democratic programmes for the Transitional Programme. In France after de Gaulle's 1958 coup, Lambert advanced "Defense des Acquis" - a strictly democratic programme. In the colonial and semi-colonial world, the Constituent Assembly demand was turned into a strategic demand. In the 1980s this demand was advanced in a potentially counter-revolutionary way in the context of the political revolution in Poland. In Nicaragua after 1979 it was used as the central slogan, at the expense of demands focusing on building soviets and the struggle for workers' power.
Furthermore, the OCI/PCI has, in a number of cases, supported forces of reaction against Stalinism. In 1969, it refused to support the CP Presidential candidate who was then the left's main candidate against Pompidou. In 1980, they supported the pro-imperialist Mullah-led Afghan rebels against the PDPA/Soviet troops.
Flowing from these positions is the transformation of the United Front into a strategy. The OCI/PCI calls for the "unity" of the workers' parties, for a CP/SP government, which they characterise as a workers' government, for class against class. However, by using these slogans in a strategic: sense, the OCI/PCI present them in purely literary terms. The "workers' government" and united front slogans bear no relation to working class action. They are passive slogans and can lead to abstentionism.
Thus, where unity in action was posed in the stormy days of May 1968, the OCI raised class unity slogans as an alternative to joining the battles against the state. On the night of the barricades, the OCI held a meeting and decided to march to convince the students not to continue fighting. When the students refused, the OCI marched off, consoling themselves with chants of working class unity.
This policy was an equal and opposite response to the SLL's abandonment of the united front. Dramatically opposite, it was equally removed from a revolutionary communist position. Thus the OCl's Central Committee- declared in 1971 of the united front: "It is a strategic line in the sense that it is always (that is, independent of circumstances, relationship of forces, tactical considerations in the strict sense of the word) present in a revolutionary party".89
Finally, the OCl's inveterate hostility to any centralism in the IC indicates their essentially "national Trotskyist" outlook. Using the pretext that the FI was destroyed by Pabloism - a discovery only announced at the Third Congress of the IC in 1966 - the Lambertists insisted that democratic centralism had no place in the IC, as it was not the FI.
They admitted the existence of federalism, arguing: "The SLL has had its own international activity, so has the OCI. Germany and Eastern Europe have remained- the "private hunting grounds" of the QCI in co-operation with the Hungarian organisation".90
They wanted to keep things that way so as not to come under SLL control, and keep their channels open to the "Pabloite" USFI.
Undoubtedly, it was Healy who led the IC until the late 1960s and imposed the SLL's views upon its public pronouncements. Lambert was increasingly opposed to Healy and- Banda as they inclined more and more towards Third Worldism. Lambert himself would have preferred to reject the Arab revolution in favour of accommodation to Zionism (recognition of the" self-determination" of the Jewish workers). Lambert, to boost himself, sought to bring into the IC Guillermo Lora's POR of Bolivia.
Healy at first stalled the 4th Congress of the IC, and then staged a split at the International Youth Rally at Essen. Healy seized on the pretext of Lora's concessions to the CP in the Popular Assembly and the two groups engaged in a ludicrous argument over whether dialectical materialism or the transitional programme was the golden calf to be worshipped by the IC faithful: "Is, or is not, the transitional programme of the FI the highest expression of Marxism?", asked Lambert. 91 After the 1971 split, the IC existed solely as a backyard to the SLL (WRP after 1973),whilst the OCI set up the loose, federal OCRFI, rechristened the Fourth International (International Centre of Reconstruction) after a failed fusion with the Moreno split from the USFI.
The Transitional Programme of 1938 was not re-elaborated to meet the tasks of the post-war period. It was however revised piecemeal and, by 1951, systematically in a series of theses and documents which were accepted by the whole International. None of the breaks and splits from 1953 onwards has disavowed these revisions or traced to its roots the centrism into which the FI collapsed.
The revolutionary, programmatic continuity of the FI was decisively broken. The task of developing a new programme based on the fundamental doctrine and method of the 1938 programme is a task which directly faces us. Only on this basis can a new Leninist-Trotskyist International be founded.
51. Fourth International (New York, November/December 1951).
52. From an interview in Militant May 12th-19th 1952, quoted in Documents of the Vern-Ryan Tendency (Communard Publishers) p. 41.
53. ibid., p. 43.
54. From G. Lora, "One Year of the Bolivian Revolution", quoted in ibid., p. 80.
55. G. Lora, Bolivie: de la Naissance du POR A L'Assemblee Populair p.35 (Our translation).
56. The Development and Disintegration of World Stalinism (New York,1970) p.16.
57. ibid., p. 16.
58. ibid., p. 20. 59. ibid., p. 23.
60. Dynamics of World Revolution Today (New York, 1974), p. 30.
61. ibid., p. 37.
62. ibid., p. 38.
63. See also E. Mande1's recent defence of this position in Revolutionary Marxism Today (London 1979) p. 96.
64. Revolutionary Marxism vs Class Collaboration in Sri Lanka (New York, 1975) p.8.
65. P. Frank The Fourth International (London,1979) p.116.
66. Quoted in Trotskyism versus Revisionism (London 1974) Vol 4, p. 235.
67. Intercontinental Press (New York, July 14th 1969), Vol 7, No. 26, p. 270.
68. Intercontinental Press (New York, January 1980) Special Supplement.
69. The USFI's clearest espousal of this theory is to be found in the 1974 "Theses on Building of Revolutionary Parties in Capitalist Europe" in Intercontinental Press (New York, December 23rd 1974) Vol 12, No. 46, p 1822.
70. E. Mandel, Socialist Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (Toronto, 1977) p. 13.
71. ibid., p. 27.
72. "Revolution on the March" in Intercontinental Press (New York, January 1980).
73. Trotskyism versus Revisionism (London, 1974) Vo!. 2, p. 154.
74. International Committee Documents 1951-54 (New York, 1974) Vol. 3, p. 137.
75. Trotskyism versus Revisionism op. cit. Vol. 3 p.22.
76. W. Sinclair, "Under a Stolen Flag", in ibid., p. 5.
77. ibid., Vo14. p. 274.
78. ibid., p. 307.
79. ibid., Vol. 5, p. 72.
80. Towards a History of the Fourth International (New York, 1973) Part 1, p. 17.
81. International Socialist Review (New York, Spring 1958) p. 50.
82. See Workers Power & Irish Workers Group, The Degenerated Revolution (London 1982), pp. 93 - 96.
83. Quoted in T. Polan The SLL - An Autopsy (Trotskyist Tendency, n.d.), p.16.
84. Trotskyism versus Revisionism op. cit. Vol. 4, p. 302.
85. Quoted in ibid., Vol. 6, p. 64.
86. Polan, op. cit., p. 8.
87. Quoted in Trotskyism versus Revisionism op. cit., V 01. 3, p. 132.
88. "La Verite" was the newspaper of the Lambert grouping.
89. Trotskyism versus Revisionism op. cit. Vol. 6. p. 64. (Our emphasis).
90. ibid., Vol. 5., p. 86.
91. ibid., Vol. 6, p. 54.