Fourth International

The Fourth International in Mortal Danger

Published on Wednesday, 09 December 2009 18:09
Written by Radical Socialist

The Fourth International (United Secretariat as it is still often called) is the largest of the Trotskyist organisations in the world, and therefore its discussions and debates are often commented upon by organisations outside its fold as well. The following text is by the leadership body of OKDE. There are two organisations in Greece, both named OKDE. OKDE was the section of the Fourth International in Greece till a split resulted in a minority being recognised as the Section. The section is known as OKDE Spartakos (after its aper). The other rganisation is called OKDE, and its paper is Ergatiki Palli. For many years this organisation saw itself as a revolutionary organisation oriented to the Fourth International. As its article below argues, it has moved off in a different trajectory.

The 4th International in mortal danger

 

1. It is some years now that the 4th International is in a deep crisis which is growing worse and deepening day after day. The 15th World Congress (February 2003), with the change of the statutes that took place in it, was decisive and it determined, in great extend, the crisis of the 4th International and its course to disintegration. Today, it is a question whether it exists as an entity (a body), not to mention as a revolutionary organization, as its founders wanted it to be, as well as the tens of thousands of revolutionary militants who fought for its construction, under very difficult circumstances. A work which they considered being – and so it is – identical to the emancipation of the proletariat and the victory of the socialist revolution.

2. In the past, the 4th International went through many serious crises. However, none of them can be compared to the current one, as the majority of the leadership aims – probably consciously – at its disintegration (something that they confess, all the more openly) and its replacement by a New International. The problems that the 4th International is facing today are not only organizational, but deeply ideological and political ones. For some years now, perhaps since the middle ’80s and particularly since 1989-90, there is a steady and gradual abandonment of all the fundamental principles of revolutionary marxism and of the historic and programmatic gains of the 4th International. The changes in the statutes of the 4th International result from this ideological and political treason and they have been transforming the World Party of the Socialist Revolution into a “pluralistic” organization which fights for socialism. This course of mutation, that the 4th International is following, is in complete contradiction to the principles and tasks of revolutionary marxism, the deep crisis of the world capitalist system, the rising course of class struggles and the changes that are taking place inside the labor movement, as well as to the task of overthrowing the capitalist system and preparing the socialist revolution.

A course incompatible with the principles of marxism

3. The construction of the international organization (World Party of the Socialist Revolution) is a product of the socialist programme, which includes the goal of the World Socialist Society. This goal was served by the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd International, as well as, of course, by the establishment of the 4th International. For, socialism cannot be realized in a single country, without the world revolution, in the same way that a national revolutionary socialist party cannot be fully completed without being an active member of the world party of the socialist revolution. This by large theoretical principle (based, however, on the evolution of world economy and on the historic interests of the world proletariat) was confirmed in practice, initially by the degeneration of the Socialist Revolution of October and finally by the collapse of the so called “existing socialism”.

4. Today, more than ever before in history, the political and economic problems of world capitalism, its crises, its wars, the environmental destruction, have an international character. This has been understood, to a large extent, by the bourgeoisie as well. However, the solution to these problems - within the framework of the anarchic capitalist mode of production, whose goal is to make profit for the benefit of a small class of exploiters - results in poverty, hunger, wars, the strangulation of democratic rights and civil liberties, environmental destruction, even in the danger of having the human race disappeared.

5. On the other hand, with the level of development that the productive forces have reached, the objective circumstances for the organization of society, economy and production at a level extremely higher than the barbaric and ineffective capitalist organization, have grown more than mature. On world scale, there are all the preconditions needed for the socialist organization of society and the planned world production, which is directly connected to the broad needs of the masses and of humanity. However, this cannot happen automatically, not even by national revolutionary parties, or an international organization of federal/social-democratic character, whose members (militants, organizations and parties) have nothing in common and act as they wish. A common world programme, a common strategy and policy, as well as a common material force – which can only be the organization of revolutionary marxists, the World Revolutionary Party – is necessary.

A course incompatible with the deep crisis of the capitalist / imperialist system

6. The world capitalist system was unable to get out of its 35-year-old crisis, despite the stirring events of the two previous decades: the great retreat of the labor, revolutionary and anti-imperialist movement, especially after the collapse of the countries of the so called “existing socialism”; the disintegration of Stalinism; the ideological and political mutation of social-democracy into a bourgeois neo-liberal current, almost throughout the world; the transformation of a big part of trade union bureaucracy into bourgeois; the reunification of world economy - if not of the entire capitalist system; the potential of imposing and implementing, almost completely, strategic choices and general solutions to the system as a whole; the suffocating control over the policies and the market, through neo-liberalism and the imperialist organizations (W.T.O., I.M.F., World Bank, monopoly of credit). And – perhaps the most important of all – the psychological shock and the shock of consciousness that the masses suffered by the collapse of the “existing socialism” and, partly, by the mutation of social-democracy. All these have created to the broad popular masses the impression that the capitalist system is superior, or, even worse, that any pursuit of alternative solutions out of the capitalist system is dead.

7. Despite this extremely favorable environment, which the world capitalist/ imperialist system has functioned in, the result has been the worsening of its crisis as well as of the crisis of the international bourgeois leadership. Today, we can say that this has been the result of mainly two factors:  a) The crisis or the dispute of all the strategic choices (Neo-liberalism, Globalization, New Order and War), regardless of the form they took, from the collapse of the “existing socialism” until September 11th. This failure of general solutions has been piling up, as expected, new sufferings for humanity (impoverishment, unemployment, dramatic shrinkage of social and democratic rights and of civil liberties etc.), and new big dead-ends to the function of the world capitalist / imperialist system (intensification of inter-imperialist competitions, emergence of a series of new, powerful competitors, such as China, India, Russia, but also of other key-countries for the world capitalist system such as Brazil, Mexico etc., expansion of the geo-economic and geo-political chaos). Especially after the failure of  September 11th policy, that is, the failure of the solution of the crisis “ala Hitler” (constant war, preventive wars, militarization of the american society – and not only of it – the dogma “either with us, or against us” etc.), everything is indicating that within the imperialist camp - and, particularly in the  Bush’s and neo-liberals’ USA. - there is a gap of strategy, or – at the best - a lack of strategy for dealing with or handling the crisis of the capitalist/ imperialist system. All these, in a period when the USA economy is being constantly downgraded and piling up debts, formidable competitors have been emerging, globalization tends to turn into a boomerang for its instigators and, finally, the relation of class forces, imposed in late ’80s – early ’90s undergoes breaches and changes. b) The rising course of labor struggles, the labor movement and the movements at international level, especially in some regions and countries (Europe, Latin America, France, Greece, Venezuela, Bolivia etc.); the resistance of peoples (Iraq, Middle East, etc.), which have resulted in a series of bigger or smaller successes and victories (European Constitution, CPE, constitutional article 16 (for public and free education) in Greece, victory of the masses in Lebanon in the war against Israel, stagnation of imperialists in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan etc.); overall defeats of neo-liberalism in a series of countries in Latin America and reemergence of alternative solutions, which are in practice against capitalism (at least in Venezuela); and even revitalization of the socialist perspective.

8. It is, however, true that, as long as the world relation of class forces does not change – in spite of the breaches and changes it has suffered, partly or generally - , neo-liberalism will manage – though with difficulty (in fact, with increasing difficulty)  – to impose its domination and its barbaric policy. All these presented above do not mean that capitalists/imperialists did not have significant successes during the last 20 years, at the expense of the political and social rights and of 150 year-old gains, as well as, of the national and sovereignty rights of the peoples. What we believe – and it is a reality nowadays – is that all those factors which determined the last two decades, either do not exist any more, or have failed, or do not have the same power as before. Therfore, not only are the latitudes to solve the crisis of the system getting dramatically narrower, but, also, we should be expecting an even bigger worsening of the crisis. This situation, combined with the strategic gap presented in the imperialist camp, is creating an unsteady transitional balance and period, during which the dispute of the imperialist domination is in the agenda by a lot of sides and powers (capitalist and anti-imperialist ones, the labor and popular movement etc.) and the dilemma “Socialism or Barbarity” is becoming seasonable again. This means that, on the one hand, bourgeoisie and imperialists will try to crush the world proletariat in order to get their system out of the crisis, which is extremely difficult in the current circumstances, in which the social weight of the exploited and oppressed masses has increased considerably - and, on the other hand, socialist revolution is called upon to put an end in capitalist domination. The majority of the leadership of the 4th International has made tragic mistakes in evaluating the crisis of the world capitalist/imperialist system, as well as the power of the working class, the labor and popular movement and the ideas of revolutionary marxism. It has underestimated the crisis and the potentials of the labour movement etc. and, thereafter, it was easy for it to fall into an omphaloskepsis, which has led it to the classical revisionist – social-democratic views. Instead of preparing the 4th International – and the world proletariat along with it – for the newly created circumstances, the new circumstances for conducting the class struggle, developing the revolutionary process and constructing the word party for the revolution, it has taken up a course of abandoning the principles of revolutionary marxism and demolishing all the programmatic gains of our movement. It has abandoned the Dictatorship of the proletariat/ the Socialist Democracy for the sake of “Democracy”. It has abandoned the marxist revolutionary position of critical support to the movements and backward countries against imperialism and it has taken a “neutral position”, or, even worse, it has come out for the intervention of imperialists or the United Nations Organization (East Timor, Yugoslavia, etc). It has abandoned Democratic Centralism supposedly for the sake of a “democratic” pluralistic function, which, in reality, is the triumph of individualism, factions, cliques and the dictatorship of uncontrolled leaderships, whether bureaucratic or not. It has taken up a criticism of the Revolution of October which is not at all different from the criticism of social-democracy and not only of it.

A course incompatible with the rising of the proletarian struggles and the changes in the labour movement

9. Nowadays, struggles are not only more and qualitatively superior compared to the past, there is also a tendency of reinforcing the dispute of the system, in the way it is functioning today and it is understood by the masses through experience: Neo-liberalism, “Globalization”, imperialistic aggressiveness and war, environmental destruction. There is even a tendency of stabilization of this dispute and a change in the mood of the masses towards a consciousness directed to the movement and the struggle. This evolution is bringing the labor and popular movement, as well as the cause of proletariat, back to the foreground of society, from the backstage where they had been expelled during the previous years. The victories of the labor movement, bigger or smaller, in different countries, regions etc. of the planet, the stagnation of imperialists, or even their defeats – particularly in political level – in different areas and especially in the Middle East, where the greatest aggressiveness is being manifested, all these have been reinforcing, step by step, the confidence of the masses, have been forming a new mood and a new culture, which is not only one of resistance and militancy, but also one of changing the situation in private, social and political level and, more than that, to quest for alternative solutions against neo-liberalism, imperialism and the imperialistic dependence. However, these changes in broad masses’ mood and consciousness, obvious in the recent years, have a lot of weaknesses, which, combined with the weaknesses of the organized trade union and labor movement, have been resulting in a relative instability, contradictory behaviors, big gaps/periods of “indifference” and “apathy”, return to “nagging”, to the electoral illusions and to the “solutions” of the type “each one for itself”. Of course, in all periods there are gaps, “nagging”, electoral illusions etc., as the masses’ consciousness has its ups and downs, the necessary and unavoidable interruptions created by every-day life. However, in the current conjuncture, there has not been yet a stabilization of this consciousness and mood due to the absence of a strong labor movement. The latter is the basic factor for the formidable changes we have been witnessing, not only in the Stalinist and social-democratic parties and trade union bureaucracy, but even in revolutionary movements and centrist organizations, for example, the Communist Refoundation, but also in the Brazilian, the Portuguese and the Italian sections of the 4th International, as well as in parts of many other sections and in parts of the 4th International leadership.

10. The bankruptcy of the social-democratic and Stalinist parties is not related only to the historic failure of their strategic plan for socialism. They have also failed in defending the immediate interests, as well as the democratic rights and the civil liberties of the working people, the poor, lower-class popular layers, the youth and the Third World countries. With some exceptions concerning Stalinist parties, they have even participated energetically in the demolition of labor rights (plural left, centre-left etc.), in the imperialistic expeditions and in the wars. This overall bankruptcy has contributed to the decrease of the influence that these parties have on the masses, to loosening their links with the organized labor movement and, even more, with the unorganized one and particularly with the younger generations of working people and the youth. This has facilitated the development of movements outside these parties and against them, something extremely difficult or exceptional in the past. Moreover, the development of the movements has been increasing the crisis, narrowing incredibly the maneuvering limits of these parties and reinforcing the centrifugal forces in them, on the one hand – and, on the other hand, it has been offering revolutionary Marxists the possibility to exercise their policy in practice, demonstrate their ability and their credibility to conduct small or bigger struggles etc., without painful “co-operations” or co-operations with the reformists.

11. This overall bankruptcy of social-democracy and Stalinism, the quantitative and qualitative development of struggles, the relative stabilization of a militant mood and consciousness of the masses, the development of a tendency to dispute neo-liberalism and certian aspects of capitalism – all these have helped in the appearance of significant changes inside the labor movement. The social and – to a lesser extend- political weight of the far and revolutionary left has been increasing, in an international scale, at a pace which varies from country to country. Especially in some countries where these forces have been playing a significant role in the movement and have had a policy more or less anti-capitalist (in practice and not only in words), the changes have been quite a lot and significant. This is an important element that the revolutionary marxists must take seriously into consideration when forming a new strategy and practice, not only in a national level, but also in an international one.

A course tarnished by the participation of sections of the 4th International in bourgeois and imperialist governments

12. The majority of the 4th International leadership seems to have an orientation towards the anti-capitalistic forces – this is also what more or less the “decisions” of the 15th World Congress say. However, in fact, this is not the case. What is really implemented is an abolishment of the strategic goal of building new sections and the 4th International itself, as well as the replacement of this goal by the construction of “anti-capitalist” parties and a New International. Even worse, the tactic of a special form of the united front with anti-capitalist organizations – which in the current conjuncture is a crucial element for the development of the labor movement and the construction of our organizations – has been replaced by merging with those organizations, or even with radical petty-bourgeois currents, which is the vast majority of the cases.  The abolishment of the principles of revolutionary marxism and of the programmatic, strategic and tactical gains of the 4th International, as well as the implementation of a popular front policy, both in the content and in the form, have led to phenomena unprecedented for our movement, as the blatant cases of the Brazilian, the Italian, or even the Portuguese section (which are not the only ones). The participation of the Brazilian section in the bourgeois Lula government and of the Italian section in the imperialist Pronti government (there is a slight differentiation in the latter’s attitude, lately) - that is, in governments which vote for reactionary measures against working people, the poor, lower-class popular masses, the youth and the world proletariat – as well as the participation of the Portuguese section in the right wing reformist formation of the European Left Party – after leaving from the European Anti-capitalist Left and disintegrating itself in the Left Block – constitute a complete treason and a disgrace to our movement. The critical articles of some comrades – referring exclusively to the case of the Brazilian section - are superficial, do not concern the essence of the strategy, the policy and the practice and do not refute the devastating responsibility of the majority of the 4th International leadership. A consequence of the “new” ideas which dominate in the majority of this leadership is the weakening of many sections, the disintegration of others in petty-bourgeois currents and the abolishment of the independent and open struggle for their construction, the closure of newspapers and journals of the sections and the 4th International and, finally, the disappearance of sections with a great tradition and history (for example in Britain, Latin America, Australia etc.), often to the advantage of other currents which appear as trotskyist.

 

The danger is reaching a climax

 

14. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Internationals were not just a solidarity network of the world proletariat. They had taken up the gigantic work of equipping the world proletariat with a strategy, a programme, a tactic and a revolutionary leadership, which would be able to carry out the shattering of the capitalist/imperialist system and the establishment of Socialism. This is the legacy that the 4th International inherited, not as acceptor of a museum piece, but with the aspiration to carry out this work in the current circumstances. History has theoretically justified this aspiration and this gigantic effort. Trotsky summarized the problem of our epoch as follows: “The current crisis of the human civilization is a crisis of the proletarian leadership”. Having this as a guide, he dedicated the last years of his life to the effort to overcome the crisis of the proletarian leadership, in the only way this could be done, by constructing the 4th International.  At present, the crisis of the civilization is greater than ever in the history of humanity – even its survival is at stake – due to the crisis of the proletarian leadership. The disintegration of Stalinism and the mutation of social-democracy - that is, of the two main tendencies of the labor movement - as well as of many centrist currents, have worsen this crisis, since Trotsky’s era and the post-war period and have made the duty of overcoming it even more urgent. All the more, because the crisis of the proletarian leadership has permeated the former core of the World Party for the Socialist Revolution, the 4th International, as it becomes obvious by the blatant cases of Brazil, Italy and Portugal, as well as by the popular front policy and the disintegration of sections. The phenomenon of the formidable changes taking place in centrist currents, such as the Communist Refoundation, the Sandinistas etc., is, also relevant.

15. The majority of the 4th International leadership has seriously deviated - not only through the statutes - from the principles of revolutionary marxism, the programme and the traditions of the movement. The danger for a complete disintegration is now obvious and it cannot be treated either by the temporary adherence of masses, or by the dynamic of one organization or more, or by the intense activity and mobilization, or by some strict organizational and statutes’ rules. It can only be treated by a return to the principles of revolutionary Marxism, which are nowadays trodden by the majority of the 4th International leadership. Before it is too late, it is necessary for all the sections and the militants that can see the dangers:

a) to coordinate their efforts and stop this course of degeneration and disintegration

b) to start an effort of working out political positions and a plan of construction for the sections of the 4th International

 

c) to start a big campaign to revive the debate around the crisis of the 4th International and the Trotskyist movement

 

d) to start immediately the effort of building up sections in the countries where the movement has had forces traditionally, as well as in the rising key-countries of the capitalist system.

 

9/5/2007

 

The Central Committee of OKDE

(Organization of Communists Internationalists - Greece)