World Perspectives 2017: XII. Perspectives for Building of the Revolutionary World Party Today

 

1.                   The defeats which the workers and oppressed have suffered in recent years are the result of the terrible betrayal by their leaders who have led the struggles into a dead-end. The left reformists (like SYRIZA in Greece, the French Communist Party, and the Brazilian PCdoB) and the Castro-Chavistas in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc., have exchanged governmental posts and financial subsidies for the interests of the workers and poor. Various Islamist forces have either revealed their bourgeois nature when they saved the rule of the capitalist class in the midst of the Arab Revolution by demobilizing the popular masses (e.g., Ennahda in Tunisia or Morsi’s al-Ikhwan in Egypt), or they showed their petty-bourgeois populist character as they led the popular struggles into a sectarian and guerrilla-elitist dead-end (e.g. Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham in Syria). And the centrists have proven their role as an appendix of the labor bureaucracy and the petty-bourgeoisie intelligentsia, as they usually lend support to the reformists and, in numerous cases, even to outright anti-democratic reaction and imperialist aggression.

 

2.                   The only way out of this dead-end is the creation of a new Revolutionary World Party on the basis of a Transitional Program adapted to the requirements and challenges of the present international class struggle. While such a party cannot be created out of the blue, without necessary preparation, there can be no doubt that revolutionaries must work energetically for its quickest possible formation. To be more precise, all authentic revolutionaries should, as soon as possible, hold an international conference in order to discuss close and systematic collaboration and, if possible, unification into a single organization on the basis of a program for the world class struggle during the current period. Such unification would represent a significant step forward for the authentic Bolsheviks and thereby enable a strengthening of those forces which are the sole ones capable of playing the role as the driving force in the future creation of such a Revolutionary World Party. [1]

 

3.                   As the RCIT has repeatedly stressed, the struggle for the formation of a new world party must avoid all the strategic failures which are so widespread among the centrist left. We must not opportunistically strive towards the “unification of the left” (i.e., of reformists, centrists and revolutionaries) or the “unification of the Trotskyists on the basis of the Transitional Program of 1938” (i.e., of those who support the Syrian Revolution against Assad and those who don’t; of those who lend support to the military struggle of Afghan people against the imperialist occupiers and those who don’t; of those who side with Russia and China against the US and those who don’t; etc.). Such unification could only be unprincipled in character, as it would represent agreement not on the central issues of the international class struggle, but only on some abstract general formulae which cannot provide any guidance for the struggles today. It is hardly accidental that all the “left unity” projects of past years ended in failure and tears.

 

4.                   No, instead of looking to “the left,” i.e., the labor bureaucracy and the petty-bourgeoisie intelligentsia, authentic revolutionaries orient themselves towards the new, militant layers from the working class and the oppressed who are looking for a program and a strategy that will enable them to effectively and consistently fight exploitation and oppression. As we noted in a past document: “Those who wish to develop in a revolutionary direction must break from an orientation towards the centrist and left-reformist swamp and look to root themselves in the healthy, militant proletarian milieu. This does not mean that revolutionaries should ignore the reformist parties or the centrist groups. The policy of the united front tactic remains in full force as well as the need for a hard struggle to remove these revisionists’ influence in the workers vanguard. But in the first line the RCIT orientates towards new militants and initiatives from the ranks of the workers and the oppressed. From these layers only, new promising forces and a new dynamic will come. And such developments might affect healthier elements from the ranks of left-reformism and centrism and help them to break with the revisionists’ rotten method. Revolutionaries have to understand in depth that not only has capitalism entered a new historic period of massive instability and sharp turns, but the international workers’ movement has done so too. No stone is left unturned. Those forces, who don’t understand the character of the period and its corresponding tasks, are doomed to degenerate more and more and get pushed to the right. For those forces, however, who are coming closer to an understanding of the sharply antagonistic nature of the present period, who are willing to join the masses in their struggles – in particular the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed – without arrogantly sneering about their “backward consciousness” and who are at the same time determined to fight intransigently for the revolutionary program and who ruthlessly attack the reformist and centrist traitors – those forces can revolve themselves and play a healthy and utterly positive role in the struggle to build the new World Party of Socialist Revolution. Being aware of the limitations of historic analogies, one has to see that to a certain degree the present period bears similarities to the years after the outbreak of World War I in 1914. In this period the workers’ movement went through sharp crises, splits and transformations. In this period the rottenness of the centrist majority of the Second International – which already existed before 1914 but was less obvious – came to full light. The orientation and tactics of Lenin and his supporters are highly instructive for the Bolshevik-Communists today. [2]

 

5.                   Building a revolutionary world party today demands breaking with any orientation towards the petty-bourgeoisie intelligentsia and the labor aristocracy which – particularly in the imperialist metropolises – are connected via numerous material and ideological bonds with the capitalist system and which makes them infested with all possible anti-revolutionary prejudices. No, the revolutionary party can and must be build amongst the non-aristocratic mass of the proletariat or – to put it in Trotsky’s words - the unprivileged working masses“ who have nothing to lose but their chains. [3] This has always been the strategic orientation of Bolshevism as Trotsky explained: „The strength and meaning of Bolshevism consists in the fact that it appeals to oppressed and exploited masses and not to the upper strata of the working class.“ [4]

 

6.                   As crucial as Marxist theory and program is for a revolutionary organization, it does not replace the importance of exemplary mass work and participation in the struggles of the popular masses. Only such fusion of theory and practice will enable revolutionaries to demonstrate their program to the fighting workers vanguard. Such an understanding is not only relevant for full-fledged parties but also for small pre-party communist groups.

 

7.                   Likewise, one of the chief tasks of revolutionaries today is to openly name and attack the obstacles for the class struggle which operate inside the working class movement, i.e. those forces which mislead the working class and its vanguard – the labor bureaucracy, reformists, centrists, official leadership of the oppressed, etc. The victory of the proletariat in its struggle for liberation against the capitalist exploiter class will be impossible to achieve if the revolutionary party does not first defeat the influence of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces inside the working class and among the oppressed. James P. Cannon, the historic leader of American Trotskyism, once stated: The strength of capitalism is not in itself and its own institutions; it survives only because it has bases of support in the organizations of the workers. As we see it now, in the light of what we have learned from the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, nine-tenths of the struggle for socialism is the struggle against bourgeois influence in the workers’ organizations, including the party.” [5] Numerous reformists and centrists condemn the Bolshevik-Communists’ approach of openly attacking erroneous programs and deceptive leaderships as “sectarian.” In contrast to them, we draw the lesson from the Bolsheviks’ successful building of a party which could lead the working class to victory that such a clear demarcation of what is right and what is wrong is the imperative precondition for organizing the workers’ vanguard on a solid communist program. Hence, the task of the revolutionary party is to fight politically against the reformist and centrist forces in order to push back and finally liquidate their influence.

 

8.                   Of particular importance today is the determination of revolutionaries to think and to act as internationalists not only in terms of program but also in terms of organization. Hence, our movement has always acted on the basis of Trotsky’s understanding that a revolutionary organization – particularly in the epoch of imperialism – can only exist as an international organization. Like the founder of the Fourth International we insist on the principle that a Bolshevik organisation must be an international organisation from the beginning. This principle is rooted in the nature of capitalism and of the working class which both are international in their essence. Only as an international organisation we can develop a truly internationalist outlook, internalise international experience and work as internationalist revolutionaries. If a group exists for too long as a national organisation it runs into serious danger to develop a national-centred experience and viewpoint. Hence we strongly reject the understanding of numerous nationally isolated organizations who put a priority of first building a strong national organization and only later to turn towards building an international organizations. Such an understanding unavoidable leads to national-centred deformations and programmatic deviations. Trotsky emphasised such an understanding many times. “It is necessary to understand first of all that really independent workers' parties – independent not only of the bourgeoisie, but also of both bankrupt Internationals – cannot be built unless there is a close international bond between them, on the basis of the same principles, and provided there is a living interchange of experience and vigilant mutual control. The notion that national parties (which ones? on what basis?) must be established first, and coalesced only later into a new International (how will a common principled basis then be guaranteed?) is a caricature of the history of the Second International: the First and Third Internationals were both built differently. But today, under the conditions of the imperialist epoch, after the proletarian vanguard of all countries in the world has passed through many decades of a colossal and common experience, including the experience of the collapse of the two Internationals, it is absolutely unthinkable to build new, Marxist, revolutionary parties, without direct contact with the same work in other countries. And this means the building of the Fourth International.[6]

 

9.                   In another article Trotsky wrote: „From its very first steps the Opposition must therefore act as an international faction – as did the Communists in the days of the publication of the ‘Communist Manifesto’, or in the Zimmerwald Left at the beginning of the war. In all these cases the groups were for the most part small numerically or it was a matter of isolated individuals; but they nevertheless acted as an international organization. In the epoch of imperialism such a position is a hundred times more imperative than in the days of Marx. Those who believe that the International Left will someday take shape as a simple sum of national groups, and that therefore the international unification can be postponed indefinitely until the national groups “grow strong,” attribute only a secondary importance to the international factor and by this very reason take the path of national opportunism. It is undeniable that each country has greatest peculiarities of its own; but in our epoch these peculiarities can be assayed and exploited in a revolutionary way only from an internationalist point of view. On the other hand, only an international organization can be the bearer of an international ideology. Can anyone seriously believe that isolated Oppositional national groups, divided among themselves and left to their own resources, are capable of finding the correct road by themselves? No, this is a certain path to national degeneration, sectarianism, and ruin. The tasks facing the International Opposition are enormously difficult. Only by being indissolubly tied together, only by working out answers jointly to all current problems, only by creating their international platform, only by mutually verifying each one of their steps, that is, only by uniting in a single international body, will the national groups of the Opposition be able to carry out their historic task.[7]

 

10.                The centrist conception of building a new World Party via the road of long-term alliances of different national Trotskyist organizations without a common program and without an internationalist democratic centralist modus operandi is hardly any better. Such a conception might enable the different organizations to pretend acting as Trotskyist internationalists. Such international federalism is in fact just another version of national Trotskyism. In fact, behind such international federalism usually disguises deep differences on theoretical and programmatic issues. A practical example for such a conception is the Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International (which includes the Argentinean PO, the Greek EEK, the Turkish DIP and the Italian PCL). Despite its long existence since 2004 it lacks until now both a joint program as well as an acting international leadership. In fact it hardly organizes any international conferences at all which is the only way to avoid the clash of numerous political differences between its various components. Trotsky was also faced with similar political formations in the person of the so-called “London Bureau” which included a number of national parties like the German SAP, the British ILP, the Norwegian NAP and later also the Spanish POUM. He strongly condemned this international federation as thoroughly unprincipled and centrist: As a matter of fact, the wretched balance sheet of the conference is to be explained not by lack of time but by the heterogeneity of its composition, with its preponderance of right-centrist combinationists. The very same heterogeneity distinguishes “some” of the parties that adhere to the IAG. Hence flows the internal need for not touching upon the most acute, i.e., the most important and undeferrable questions. The sole principle of the IAG is to keep mum about principles. Let us recall that the international plenum of the Bolshevik-Leninists in its resolution of September 13, 1933, made the following evaluation of the previous IAG conference held in August 1933: “There cannot be even talk, of course, that the new International can be built by organizations that proceed from profoundly different and even antagonistic bases ... As regards the decisions that were passed by the variegated majority of the conference and that are utterly pervaded with the seal of this variegated assortment, the plenum of the Bolshevik-Leninists deems it impossible to assume any political responsibility for these decisions.” Whoever cherishes no illusions does not have to lose them subsequently![8]

 

11.                Naturally, the alternative to these variations of national Trotskyism is not organized international centrism like the Morenoite LIT or UIT, Alan Woods IMT, Peter Taaffees CWI, the Cliffite IST or the Mandelist FI which have all once again demonstrated their rottenness in the face of the class battles of the past years. Authentic Bolsheviks must rather wage an intransigent political and ideological struggle against these organizations as they represent an obstacle to the creation of a Revolutionary World Party. The path of building such a party must be on the road of the method which Trotsky elaborated in the Transitional Program in 1938: The Fourth International declares uncompromising war on the bureaucracies of the Second, Third, Amsterdam and Anarcho-syndicalist Internationals, as on their centrist satellites; on reformism without reforms; democracy in alliance with the GPU; pacifism without peace; anarchism in the service of the bourgeoisie; on “revolutionists” who live in deathly fear of revolution. All of these organizations are not pledges for the future, but decayed survivals of the past. The epoch of wars and revolutions will raze them to the ground. [9]

 

12.                Trotsky once observed, when putting together a balance sheet of his struggle to build the Fourth International, that the old generations have been mostly exhausted because of the series of defeats of the proletariat and the repeated betrayals of the social democrats, Stalinists and centrists. He concluded that the future of the World Party rests on new generations and the youth in particularly. [10] This is even truer today, as the past decades have witnessed unprecedented defeats for workers struggles along with various forms of ideological confusion and distortions in the name of “Marxism.” We confirm our statement in the RCIT’s program: “Strictly speaking, our class has not possessed a vanguard party since the middle of the 20th century. In this deep crisis of leadership - combined with the possibilities of the imperialist bourgeoisie for the systematic bribery of the labour bureaucracy and aristocracy - the ultimate cause can be found in the extraordinary bourgeoisification of the labour movement and the De-revolutionisation of Marxism, as is has been distorted by left reformism, centrism and the left-wing academics in recent decades.” [11]

 

13.                In our opinion, revolutionaries all over the world should immediately start collaborating in laying the foundations for a principled unification so that we drive forward the process of creating a new World Party with stronger forces. The starting point for the creation of such a party has to be agreement on the most important issues of the global class struggle. The RCIT considers the following issues as such programmatic keystones in the present political phase:

 

a) Recognition of the accelerating rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers – the US, EU, Japan, Russia and China. It is only possible to understand the driving dynamic of the present period of capitalist crisis and to take a correct position if one recognizes the imperialist character not only of the US, EU and Japan but also of the new emerging powers, Russia and China. Only on such a basis is it possible to arrive at the only correct program on this issue – revolutionary defeatism, i.e., the perspective of consistent struggle against all imperialist powers. This means that revolutionaries refuse to lend support to any Great Power in inter-imperialist conflicts under the slogan “The main enemy is at home!

 

b) Consistent struggle against imperialism. Revolutionaries stand for the defeat of imperialist states in any conflict with forces representing oppressed people and for the military victory of the latter without, at the same time, giving any political support to the non-revolutionary leadership of the oppressed (e.g., petty-bourgeois Islamists, nationalists). This is true both in domestic conflicts (e.g., against an oppressed nation like the Chechen people in Russia) as well as in wars abroad (e.g., Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, Somalia). Likewise, revolutionaries have to fight for Open Borders in the imperialist countries and for full equality for national minorities and for migrants. Furthermore, revolutionaries refuse to lend support to one imperialist camp against another in any given conflict (e.g., Brexit vs. EU; Clinton .vs Trump).

 

c) Continuing support for the Arab Revolution. The mass popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other countries have been the most important and progressive class struggle development so far since the beginning of the new historic period in 2008. True, given the lack of a revolutionary leadership, the masses have suffered a number of terrible defeats – like the coup d’état of General al-Sisi in Egypt in July 2013, or the ongoing slaughter of the Syrian people at the hands of Assad and his foreign backers. However, the revolutionary process is continuing, and this is reflected in the ongoing popular resistance in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, etc. Authentic revolutionary forces must give unconditional support to these popular struggles against dictatorships and reactionary forces, without giving any political support to their non-revolutionary leaderships (e.g., petty-bourgeois Islamists).

 

d) Participation in all mass struggles against austerity programs and against reactionary attacks on democratic rights. Revolutionaries oppose all forms of sectarianism which refuses participation in mass struggles under the pretext of their non-revolutionary leaderships. Instead they apply the united front tactic in the struggles of the workers and peasants led by reformist or populist forces against austerity program (e.g., trade unions, mass organizations of the peasants and the urban poor, but also political parties like MORENA in Mexico, SYRIZA in Greece before 2015, PODEMOS in Spain) or against anti-democratic coups and dictatorships (PT, CUT, MST in Brazil; Islamists in Egypt; rebels in Syria). Such an orientation must be combined with a consistent struggle against all forms of popular-frontism and petty-bourgeois populism, and for the breaking of workers and peasants away from these non-revolutionary leaderships and to advance the formation of an independent and revolutionary Workers’ Party.

 

14.                Hence we call upon all organizations which honestly strive towards the creation of a new Revolutionary World Party to join forces on the basis of these programmatic keystones. Concretely, the RCIT proposes that revolutionaries constitute a Joint Contact Committee in order to politically prepare and organize an International Conference which will discuss concrete steps to advance the formation of a Revolutionary World Party. The RCIT is committed to serious discussions and the closest possible collaboration with all forces who share such an outlook. We will in the near future address revolutionaries around the world in an Open Letter on this issue.

 



[1] On the RCIT’s history and understanding of party building see e.g., Michael Pröbsting: Building the Revolutionary Party in Theory and Practice. Looking Back and Ahead after 25 Years of Organized Struggle for Bolshevism (2014), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 29 and 30, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/rcit-party-building/

[2] RCIT: The World Situation and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists (March 2013). Theses of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, March 2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 8, p. 42, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-march-2013/

[3] Leon Trotsky: The Workers' State, Thermidor and Bonapartism (1935), in: Writings of Leon Trotsky 1934-35, p. 181

[4] Leon Trotsky: Perspectives and Tasks in the East. Speech on the third anniversary of the Communist University for the Toilers of the East (21. April 1924); in: Leon Trotsky Speaks, Pathfinder 1972, p. 205

[5] James P. Cannon: E.V. Debs (1956); in: James P. Cannon: The First Ten Years of American Communism, Pathfinder Press, New York 1962, p. 270

[6] Leon Trotsky: The ILP and the Fourth International (1935), in: Trotsky Writings 1935-36, p. 143

[7] Leon Trotsky: An Open Letter to All Members of the Leninbund (1930); in: Trotsky Writings 1930, pp. 91-92, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/02/leninbund.htm

[8] Leon Trotsky: Centrist Alchemy or Marxism? (1935), in: Trotsky Writings 1934-35, p. 261 (Emphasis in the original)

[9] Leon Trotsky: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International. The Transitional Program (1938); in: Documents of the Fourth International, New York 1973, pp. 147-148

[10] On this, see e.g., Leon Trotsky: Fighting Against The Stream (1939), in: Trotsky Writings 1938-39, pp. 249-259

[11] RCIT: The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto (2012), p. 24, http://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/