The Marxists and the workers’ parties - Thesis on work in the mass organisations

posted 21 Apr 2010, 11:47 by Admin uk   [ updated 26 Apr 2010, 08:57 by Unknown user ]

This is the latest thesis of the IS of the IMT for the world congress this summer, this document will be subject to appraisal in the same way as other documents.

 

The Marxists and the workers’ parties - Thesis on work in the mass organisations

IS draft document for 2010 World Congress

  1. At every stage Marxists must always go back to fundamentals. Recent events in our ranks underline the importance of re-examining the basic ideas, tactics and strategy of the International. In Spain we have seen a split-off which has committed mistakes that Lenin spoke of in Left-wing communism, an infantile disorder, and maybe a few more besides. (at the discussion on these issues at the January CC in Britain there were a number of different chronologies proposed as to when the degeneration in Spain is supposed to have occured. Alan said it happened recently, Jordi said he had no clue, Fred said in the early 1990s. (Fred seemed to be making a bid to promote Italy as the healthiest organisation of the IMT and Spain as degenerate for nearly two decades!) The fact is, that the regime in Spain no matter if you hate it or love it; was a replica of the regime promoted by the very core of the present leadership of the IMT until 2009. The mistakes of the former Spanish leadership have already been dealt with in the IS’s two documents on tactics and strategy in Spain and the strike in the Basque Country. (have they?)
  2. The conduct of their appendages in Mexico and Venezuela (how did it happen that Mexico and Venezuela became appendages of Spain? Did this not happen with the explicit approval of the leaders of the IMT? Does this not mean that there must have been  false methods that create organisational appendages rather than independent revolutionary organisations in different countries? Perhapes all countries?) reveal the same sectarian and ultra-left traits in an even cruder and more obvious form. They have chosen to abandon the political orientation of the International in an extremely superficial manner, turning their backs on the concepts, tactics and methods developed over decades, which link our tendency with the Left Opposition, going right back to Marx and the battle fought within the First International in defence of scientific socialism in polemic with the other tendencies of the workers’ movement.

3.       Basic principles

  1. Already in the Manifesto Marx and Engels pointed out:
  2. The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any separate principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement (…). The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on before our very eyes (…)” (The Communist Manifesto).
  3. Starting from here, our attitude towards the workers and their organisations is well summed up by a phrase of Trotsky, when he addressed the members of the Left Opposition in France:

7.        It is not enough for a revolutionary to have correct ideas. Correct ideas were already set out in the Manifesto and Capital, but this did not prevent the spreading of mistaken ideas. It is the task of the revolutionary party to weld the correct ideas with the mass of the workers’ movement; only this way can an idea become a driving force.” (“The league faced with a turn”, July 1934).

  1. Marxists are not separate from the workers’ movement but an integral part of it. The task of the Marxists is to penetrate the organisations of the working class, applying the most diverse tactics, according to the concrete circumstances of the moment, but maintaining unchanged the aim of winning over the majority of the proletariat to the programme of the socialist revolution. Marxists do not work in an imaginary movement, but in the real, historically evolved, movement of the working class.
  2. The masses cannot at a stroke arrive at a fully worked out revolutionary programme; it is a question of building the independent forces of Marxism welding them to the broader movement of the proletariat and its organisations.
  3. In the present document we do not propose to take up the entire historical experience of how Marxists have dealt with this question; we refer comrades to the fundamental texts (Left-wing Communism, Theses on the united frontof the 3rdand 4thcongresses of the Comintern, Trotsky’s writings on this question, the document, and Work in the mass organisationsproduced by our tendency in 1993). The present document should be read in conjunction with these, and therefore we will limit ourselves here to dealing with the tactical questions and the practical tasks of Marxists in the present phase.

11.   Counter-revolution in a democratic form”

  1. As we have always said, the working class learns on the basis of experience and in particular through big events which shake and transform consciousness. The process is not automatic or linear and different sectors of the class draw conclusions at different times. The experience of the last 20-30 years has been marked to a great extent by the defeats of the early 1980s, which have conditioned the psychology of an entire generation of activists.
  2. The CWI failed to understand (and it was not easy to understand at the time) that the defeat of the British miners in 1984-85 and other important defeats of the working class in a number of countries marked the end of the revolutionary wave of the 1970s (at least in the advanced capitalist countries) and the beginning of a new phase with different characteristics. One might describe this as “counter-revolution in a democratic form”, already discussed in international meetings back in January 2000. Are you sure you mean 'counter-revolution'? If so, when was the revolution that was 'countered'?
  3. The fundamental political of the Taaffite degeneration and subsequently that of the old Spanish group is to be found first of all in a failure to understand the connection between the shift to the right in the organisations of the class and the general state of the movement. In the 1993 document on Problems of work in the mass organisationsit was explained that: How is it that the Taaffites errors are supposedly the same errors as the Spanish group, given that this groups was nurtured and led by Alan Woods and JM? Were they not both on the IS and involved intimately with the Spanish section and all its works? Did the comrades currently leading the IMT take a different line? No they did not! ....to be continued...

15.    In general the history of the last ten years or so represents a sharp contrast with the previous decade (…). The last decade has undoubtedly given us opportunities in all countries (…), but in general the movement of the mass organisations, unlike the 1970s, has been to the right, even a long way to the right (…) The left reformist currents, which had been strong in the past period, have collapsed in all countries.

16.    When we observe a phenomenon of this kind, not just in one or two cases but in all countries to a greater or lesser degree, it cannot be by chance but corresponds with profound processes in society and in the working class itself. It cannot be denied that this phenomenon has a material basis and it is clearly linked to the boom of 1982-90 (…)”

  1. The processes described here have been prolonged well beyond our expectations. The 1993 document remains absolutely valid in general lines, but the perspectives for the mass organisations set forth in the last part have been delayed. Certain things flow from this. During the 1990s and the first decade of the new century we have not seen the development of left reformist and centrist currents with a mass basis in the social democratic organisations as happened in the 1930s and 1970s.
  2. We must seek the explanation for this in the objective situation. The prolongation of the boom of capitalism cut across this perspective for a long time, at least in the advanced capitalist countries. In the former colonial countries the situation was quite different, particularly in Latin America.
  3. The 1997 crash of the South East Asian stock exchanges led to the 1997-98 financial crisis that had a big impact on countries like Russia, Mexico and Argentina, but it did not materialise into a global crisis and downturn as we had expected. This determined the general objective situation in the advanced capitalist countries.
  4. However, the perspectives we had developed for capitalism in general materialised in Latin America and this explains the phenomenon of the Venezuelan revolution, but also the movements in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and so on.
  5. Even in Europe there were movements, with general strikes in countries like Greece and Italy, and major strikes in France. There were movements of the youth, starting with Seattle and later Genoa. But the general picture was one of declining levels of strike activity. On the political front there were also important developments, such as the emergence of Die Linke in Germany, shifts towards parties like the Left Party in Sweden, the rise of the Socialist Party in Holland. These were all indications that a process of radicalisation was affecting a layer of the youth and the working class.
  6. What it is it true to say is that this did not affect the working class as a whole. The mass of workers did not move actively into the mass organisations. Under such conditions of boom, the pressures of capitalism on the labour movement – in the the advanced capitalist countries – and especially its leading layer became intensified. The objective situation was the reason for the reformist and nationalist degeneration of the Second International before 1914. However, in the past three decades the degeneration of the workers’ parties – both the Social Democracy and the former Stalinist parties has reached unprecedented levels. This was further accentuated by the collapse of the USSR and the furious ideological counter-offensive of the bourgeoisie.
  7. As a result, the radicalisation and the anger against the austerity policies, which has developed at various times in distinct sectors of the class and the youth, has been expressed fundamentally outside the Social Democracy and only partially in the Stalinist and ex-Stalinist parties.
  8. Nevertheless, the reformist organisations have immense reserves of support among the masses. The workers have repeatedly turned to these parties on the electoral front, as we saw in Britain in 1997 and on various occasions in other countries; the PASOK, the PSOE, etc. Although the workers were not entering en masseinto these organisations, they still saw them as parties of the working class and turned to them on the electoral front. They did not turn to the various small formations that have appeared here and there over the past period.
  9. The perspectives of the sects have been completely discredited by events. These ladies and gentlemen irresponsibly wrote off the mass reformist parties as “bourgeois”. But all their attempts to create phantom “mass parties”, electoral fronts and so on have ended in failure. The masses cling to the existing mass organisations, not because they are attracted by their right-wing policies (on the contrary, they are repelled by them) but because they do not see any alternative.
  10. In the last period there have been movements of the class: strikes, general strikes, the anti-war movement etc.,. but in the prevailing conditions of boom, this could not yet cause a major upheaval in the traditional mass organisations. There have been some indications of what lies in the future, such as the split off of La Fontaine in Germany and the formation of Die Linke. But these were exceptions and an anticipation of future developments. Now, however, the situation is beginning to change.
  11. Splits in the Social Democracy
  12. A section of the class – the most advanced elements among the rank-and-file activists - has tried to oppose the rightward shift of their leaders, but the resistance of the apparatus has prevailed for the time being. The right wing has capitulated to the bourgeoisie, and the left reformists have capitulated to the right wing. Some truly bureaucratic monsters have emerged, like the Blairite tendency in Britain. Blair attempted to dissolve the Labour Party into the backward mass of Labour voters and break the link with the trade unions. But in the end he failed, and the Labour Party is destined to enter a period of turmoil in the coming period, especially if it loses the elections.
  13. Paradoxically, the former “communist” leaders in Italy succeeded where Blair failed. After decades of national-reformist degeneration, the leaders of the DS (Left Democrats, formerly the PCI, Italian Communist Party) have carried out the transformation of the party into a bourgeois party (the Democratic Party) through a fusion with a large part of the remains of the old Christian Democrats. However, even here the Marxists must be careful. A big part of the Italian workers still see the Democratic Party as “their party”, and we must approach them in a friendly way, while maintaining an implacable criticism of the leadership.
  14. The bourgeoisie always tries to use the Social Democrats to do the dirty work in periods of crisis. This tactic has many advantages. The reformists willingly take upon themselves all the responsibility for the crisis of capitalism, carrying out a policy of cuts and austerity. They prepare the way for the victory of the right-wing bourgeois parties, while discrediting the idea of “socialism” in the eyes of the masses.
  15. In Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Germany, the main attacks against the working class have been carried out precisely by social-democratic-led governments. This alienates the workers, especially the more advanced workers and youth. But it does not mean that the historic link between the masses and the traditional organisations has ceased to exist, as the sects imagine. When the workers move into action, they will inevitably move through the mass traditional organisations because they have no other alternative. We must not change our perspectives for ephemeral reasons.
  16. The policy of the Marxists is one of critical support. They must differentiate themselves sharply from the policies of the reformists (both the right and left variety) and put forward clear socialist policies and transitional demands. But we will not break from the mass organisations. Our tactic is that of Lenin: patiently explain.
  17. In 2002-2003 in Germany, as a result of growing opposition in the unions against the Schroeder government (SPD-Green coalition) there was a significant development: the unions in Bavaria launched a public appeal against the government’s policies declaring that if the SPD didn’t change course they would present an independent candidate at the elections.
  18. At the time these critical trade unionists had no interest in the PDS (the former Communist Party), which was a party rooted fundamentally in the east of the country. The reaction of the bureaucracy was violent: 8 union full-timers were expelled from the SPD. The expelled members set up a new political movement, the WASG, which was founded in 2005 (with about 12,000 members). Oskar La Fontaine, one of the top leaders of the SPD (candidate for Chancellor at the 1990 elections, national secretary of the party in 1995 and minister of Finance in the first six months of the Schroeder government) placed himself at the head of the new party, which in 2007 merged with the PDS to form Die Linke.
  19. A similar phenomenon took place in Italy in 2001-2002 when Cofferati, general secretary of the CGIL, after presiding over the worst compromise policies and the pension counter-reform, gave vent to the growing pressure from below and decided to lead a movement, which took on a mass character, against the abolition of article 18 (which prevents dismissal of workers without a just cause).
  20. The radicalization process then moved from the trade-union to the political front. Cofferati placed himself at the head of the left current in the DS, which obtained an extraordinary result, winning 34% at the Pesaro Congress in November 2001. The DS left wing at that time had the support of the majority of the leadership of the CGIL (a 5-million strong union confederation), but when Cofferati capitulated the current disintegrated, leaving only the small grouping around Mussi and Salvi, which split away a few years later, joining with Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in an electoral alliance (Rainbow left). Already Bertinotti in 1994, from being the main leader of the trade-union left in the CGIL, had followed a similar path, going over from the DS to become the secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, bringing with him a significant number of union activist and leaders.
  21. Smaller phenomena of left tendencies in the Social-Democracy ending up as splits have been seen in a number of countries. In Greece there was the small left tendency around Tsovolas, which disappeared. In France we have seen the split of Melenchon who has created the PG (Left Party).
  22. However, with the exception of Germany, these are small groups, and mainly of an ephemeral character. They do not represent a mass left wing. Everywhere the right wing predominates. Until recently, Zapatero in Spain tried to cultivate a left image in order to avoid a break with the unions. But the severity of the crisis means that he is under remorseless pressure from the bourgeoisie to carry out a programme of cuts.
  23. The trade unions
  24. There is a process of “integration with the state” which has reached unseen levels over the last 20 years. The increasingly flagrant pro-capitalist policies of the social-democratic leaders  the superimposition of bourgeois policies with those of the social-democratic (not clear)  and the crisis of capitalism have further accelerated this trend, which Trotsky dealt with in one of his last writings before his death:

41.    There is a common aspect in the development, or more exactly the degeneration, of the modern trade union organisations on a world level: their coming closer to and integration into the power of the state (…). This fact merely indicates that the tendency to integrate into the state does not arise simply from this or that doctrine, but results from social conditions common to all the unions (…). From this flows the need for the unions, to the degree that they have reformist positions – that is positions based on adaptation to private property – to adapt to the capitalist state and attempt to cooperate with it.

  1. (…)In their speeches the labour bureaucrats do everything possible to try to prove to the (democratic) state how trustworthy and indispensable they are in time of peace and even more in time of war. Through the transformation of the unions into state organs, fascism invents nothing new, it simply carries all the tendencies inherent in capitalism to their extreme consequences (The trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decline - Leon Trotsky).
  2. The effects of the fall of the USSR
  3. The fall of the USSR had the effect of temporarily demoralising and disorienting a significant part of the working class on a world level, especially the most active layers. But at the same time it freed the working class from a brake which had derailed more than one movement in the past. The counter-revolutionary role played by the Stalinists in France in May 1968, in the Italian “hot autumn”, in the Spanish Transition, in the 1974 revolution in Portugal, not to mention the revolutions in the colonial countries (Iran, Pakistan, Latin America etc.) is more than evident and has been analysed many times by our International.
  4. The existence of mass communist parties with leaderships that had an enormous political authority over the working class was a limit to the building of the authentic forces of Marxism for a whole historical period. Now this block has been removed and new possibilities are opening up.
  5. It is necessary to remind ourselves that the Trotskyists are part of the international Communist Movement. When Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party of Russia he did not form an independent party or declare a new International, but organised the International Left Opposition – that is to say, the Left Opposition of the Communist Parties and the Communist International. This was absolutely correct, but at that time it could not have succeeded. The stranglehold of Stalin and the Moscow bureaucracy on the Comintern was too strong.
  6. Stalin launched a one-sided Civil War against the Bolshevik-Leninists. The Trotskyists were expelled and persecuted by the Stalinists and the road to the workers of the USSR and the Communist Parties was blocked for a whole historical period. Under these conditions, Trotsky was compelled to turn his atention from 1933 onwards to the left tendencies arising within the Social Democracy under conditions of deep capitalist crisis.
  7. The Socialist parties, precisely because they were not tied to the Stalinist bureaucracy, reflected the process of political radicalisation of the working class in a more immediate manner. In the period of storm and stress of the 1930s mass Centrist tendencies arose in a number of European countries (Britain, Spain, Holland etc.), which offered a fertile ground for the growth of a Marxist tendency.
  8. At one point (1933) Trotsky even suggested the setting up of an International including Centrist Parties (the German SAP, Centrist groups in Holland, and even the ILP) together with the International Left Opposition. This initiative did not succeed because the Centrist leaders, fearing the ideas of the ILO, rejected it. But it shows the extreme flexibility of Trotsky on tactical and organisational questions.
  9. The Pabloite attempt after the Second World War to build Marxist oppositions within the Communist Parties failed to a large degree for objective and subjective reasons; objective because there was a suffocating regime and an asphyxiating control by the apparatus; subjective because, as was explained correctly in the 1970 document The Programme of the International, , Mandel, Maitan and company had the illusion that Stalinism could “re-generate” and consequently adapted to the bureaucracy of the communist parties carrying out a “deep entry” tactic which our tendency sharply criticised at the time.
  10. However, over the last 20 years the fall of Stalinism has brought about a fundamental change in the situation. There is an acute crisis in these organisations, creating a completely different picture. Without the internal cohesion of the Stalinist apparatus, cracks have opened up. The bureaucracy can no longer prohibit discussion. With a few exceptions (like the Greek KKE), the old Stalinist model has melted away, and divisions at the top have multiplied with the formation of recognisable currents within these parties. The rank and file Communists are very open to our ideas.
  11. The Communist Parties
  12. Despite everything, the workers will turn time and time again to the mass workers’ parties, because they do not see an alternative. In some countries, such as Britain, there is only one mass tradition, that of the Social Democracy. However, in some countries an alternative exists in the form of the ex-communist parties, which are also a mass tradition in countries like Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, but also in countries like Sweden where the ex-Stalinists have a presence in the form of Left Parties. These still have a left image and can attract layers of the radicalised workers and youth. In some countries we have seen how this has led to the growth of parties to the left of the Social Democracy, although this is not yet a generalised trend.
  13. It is no accident that in these years the best results have been achieved in the communist parties where the conditions are generally much more favourable. It is therefore necessary to pay careful attention to these organisations. The only exceptions are those European countries, like Britain, where there are no  significant parties to the left of the Social Democracy.
  14. For decades the Communist Parties have been affected by a process of national-reformist degeneration that was already predicted by Trotsky in 1928. In some cases they have undergone very big shifts to the right, particularly when they have taken on government responsibilities. However, during the 1990s some of the CPs experienced a significant growth in support and membership due to the sharp right turn by the socialist parties.
  15. We should not forget that the leaders of these parties had long ago abandoned all idea of socialism. They have nothing in common with the revolutionary policies of Lenin. Instead they enthusiastically embraced t parliamentary politics and the market economy. They were anxious to enjoy what is known as the “fruits of office” and in some countries they entered coalition governments, and paid an enormous price for it.
  16. This was the case in Italy where the PRC joined the coalition government in 1996-98 and then even more in 2006-08. The same thing happened in France with the PCF in 1997-2002. The leadership learned nothing from the experience just over a decade earlier, when its participation in the governments of the Union de la Gauche (1981-1984) dealt a heavy blow to its base in the working class.
  17. There is a basic law: if there are two workers’ parties with a fundamentally similar programme, one bigger than the other, the workers will see no need to vote for the smaller party, which will tend to lose support. This tendency has been observed clearly in Spain and other countries. However, if the Communist Parties were to stand on a clear Communist programme – the programme of Lenin – they could attract the most militant layers of the workers and youth to their banner. They could then win over a layer of the Social Democratic parties through a skilful united front policy. That was Lenin’s policy, but this is a closed book for the present leaders of the CPs.
  18. In spite of this, where the Social Democracy has been in government carrying out anti-working policies, those mass traditional parties of the working class, the CPs, Left Parties, etc., that have remained in opposition have been able to make gains at the expense of the Social Democracy. This is clearly the case with Die Linke in Germany. Now, for the first time since the early 1930s a mass force stands to the left of the SPD, something which has changed the whole scenario in Germany.
  19. In Spain the United Left (Izquierda Unida) has never entered the government (basically because of its weakness in parliament), but has undergone a similar process, passing from a sectarian line towards the PSOE under Anguita to a line of effective adaptation to the Zapatero government under the leadership of Llamazares. The previous sectarian attitude to the PSOE led to a disaster, when Anguita argued for a policy which meant alliances with the right-wing PP in Andalucia, with the excuse of getting rid of the PSOE. This alienated many CP voters who correctly understood the need to block the right wing. When the IU leaders swung to the other extreme, tail-ending Zapatero and the PSOE, far from restoring the fortunes of the IU, it led to a further decline. What is the point in voting for the Left, if it has no real difference with the PSOE?
  20. The abandonment of communist policies has reduced these parties to a marginal role in managing the policies of the bourgeoisie. They have lost members and votes. This is the balance sheet of the so-called realistic policies of the leadership. Nevertheless, although they have been considerably reduced in size in comparison with the past, the Communist Parties will be able to gain some support among those layers who are critical of the reformists. Due to the fact that for most of the time they have been in opposition they can capitalise on the discontent that has been building up against the liberal policies carried out by socialist governments in the last 20 years.
  21. It is no accident that, while the PRC and the PCF have paid a heavy price for their time in government, Die Linke in Germany, the KKE and Synaspismos in Greece, the Portuguese Communist Party, the People’s Socialist Party in Denmark, the Dutch Socialist Party (the result of a “Maoist” split from the CP in the 1970s), which have been in opposition throughout these years, can grow and give expression to the process of radicalisation that has been maturing on a European scale. The PCP in Portugal has not grown in numbers, but still retains a mass base in the working class, and has a considerable power of mobilization, as we saw recently.
  22. Greece
  23. In Greece the main party of the working class remains the PASOK, which won the last general election by a landslide. However, the KKE has the largest left youth organisation in Greece and retains the allegiance of the most militant sections of the workers. On the electoral front it has only made marginal gains in spite of the shift to the right of the PASOK and the loss of absolute votes of this party. is due in part to its Stalinist policies and methods, but also to its extreme sectarianism combined with opportunism.
  24. The KKE has huge potential, but at the same time its leadership wastes this potential. As a result there is growing discontent in its ranks. In the recent period we have seen dissent expressed openly in the party journal and website – something unprecedented for the KKE – but also a wave of expulsions. The KKE’s youth wing, the KNE, also has huge potential as it is a large proletarian youth organisation, whose ranks believe that it is somehow a “communist” party and are attracted to it in opposition to the PASOK. The Stalinist internal regime must sooner or later come into conflict with the radicalised mood of the youth.
  25. In the case of the Synaspismos, the opinion polls show there has been huge potential for this party at particular moments in recent years. This was only very partially realised at the elections. In particular, the polls revealed a very large number of youth looking to the party. Its advantage is that it is to the Left of the PASOK while at the same time not having all the Stalinist connotations of the KKE.
  26. France, Portugal and Italy
  27. The Bloco de Esquerda has had some success in Portugal, but this has not been the general trend in Europe, and those who had built an entire political strategy on the perspective of forming “new workers’ parties” have been left empty-handed. This is no accident. Generally speaking, once the working class has established a party, it will not easily abandon it, but will test it again and again.
  28. In France the LCR’s perspective that the PCF would dissolve, based on a superficial analysis of some election results such as the 2002 presidential election (when CP leader Robert Hue got only 3.5%), was quickly discredited. The NPA [New Anti-Capitalist Party] vote at the last local elections was halved (2.5%) in comparison with the European elections, while the NPA leaders had announced in the papers that they were aiming for 10%. By contrast, the Front de Gauche (Left Front, which includes the PCF) has maintained its position around 7%.
  29. Even in Portugal the perspective is open and should be analysed concretely. Firstly the Bloco cannot be placed on the same level as the NPA or other sects as it is the result of a fusion of groups coming from Trotskyism and Maoism (traditionally strong in Portugal), but also of a left split-off from the PCP. Secondly because there is also a growth in support for the PCP (although less than the Bloco) and a process of “de-Stalinisation” taking place (with a strong ferment among the youth) which could, as in France, produce a new balance between the two parties standing to the left of the PSP.
  30. Although the PCP today has a slightly lower electoral support than the Bloco (at the November 2007 elections these two parties got respectively 8 and 10%), it has much deeper roots in the mass movement, an iron control over the CGTP union confederation (which has led the mobilisations of the last few years against the policies of the socialist government), a strong membership of about 60,000 and a weekly paper (Avante), organising festivals with a mass participation.
  31. All these elements give the PCP a political stability that the Bloco cannot even dream of and which in a crisis context can make a big difference to the equilibrium between the two parties.
  32. Since 1998 the right to form tendencies has been recognised in the PRC in Italy. The Italian and French experience of work in the Communist Parties is rich in lessons. Here we see how things can change. In Marchais’ time, the PCF was possibly one of the most ossified Stalinist parties in Europe. But now things are different. The rank and file is open to ideas and willing to discuss.
  33. In Rifondazione Comunista there is a growing audience for Marxist ideas, as we saw at the last Party Congress, where there was the possibility, as in France, to present alternative motions at congresses, collecting signatures among the membership. In the youth of Rifondazione Comunista the situation is even more open, where the Marxists gained 25% at the recent congress. In France the Marxist tendency won 15% of the vote although this was the first time they had presented a Congress document.
  34. Today Gerin’s national-reformist current represents (albeit in a caricatured form) a residue of what the PCF used to be and not by chance this current is irreconcilably opposed to the genuine Marxists and has not hesitated to use bureaucratic and disciplinary measures against them where it controls sectors of the party or the youth.
  35. A sense of proportion needed
  36. In all these considerations it is, however, it is necessary to maintain a sense of proportion. The forces of genuine Marxism have been thrown back by the tide of history and now represent a small number of cadres fighting against the stream. The traditional mass parties have memberships of hundreds of thousands. But the small lever of the forces of Marxism can have a large effect on the smaller parties of the Left, especially in a political and social context of great instability and volatility such as the one we are entering.
  37. In October 1933 Trotsky addressed the members of the Left Opposition in Britain as follows:
  38. In comparison with your small group, the ILP is a large organisation. Your small lever is inadequate to move the Labour Party but can have a big effect on the ILP.” (The lever of a small group, October 1933).
  39. Tactics are always concrete and one cannot “eat today the bread of tomorrow”. The most difficult task is to gather together the first 50 comrades. Rather than eternally awaiting possible developments in the social democracy, the Marxists should profit from the possibilities that are presented immediately.
  40. Denmark
  41. In Denmark the People’s Socialist Party (SF) came into being in 1959, after the Hungarian events, when the former secretary of the Danish Communist Party, Aksel Larsen, in opposition to Moscow, led a split. This new party has had various changes in fortune, but for fifty years it has represented the alternative to the left of the Social Democracy, with a presence in the unions.
  42. Over the last few years, reflecting the radicalisation taking part in Danish society, it has grown exponentially: from 6% in the 2005 general election it went to 13% in 2007 and got an even better result at the local elections last November. If we take a look at the membership, the growth is even more startling: in 2007 there were 9,647 members, while by March 2010 they were 17,883. The youth organisation, the SFU, is the biggest political youth organisation in Denmark (larger even than the Social Democratic youth), has 3,500 members and has doubled its membership since 2005.
  43. If on the one hand the increase in votes and membership expressed the desire for change among workers and youth, on the other hand the party leaders, as they saw the possibility of entering a new government coalition with the social democracy, carried out a sharp right turn. A part of this turn was the expulsion of the Marxists only a few months after they had joined the SF and SFU. But there is no way the bureaucracy can separate the Marxists from the rank and file by bureaucratic means.
  44. The paper is oriented to the party and announces itself on the front page as the organ of the Marxists in the SF. The trade union and student work is oriented towards the rank and file and the branches of the SF and SFU. This has achieved good results for the Marxists, with members coming closer to their positions, especially in the youth organisation. The ferment in the party is increasing, with activists and long-standing leaders disputing the leadership’s rightward shift well before this is put to the test in government.
  45. In the past, every time the SF has given external support to a Social-Democratic government, for example between the 1960s and ‘70s, this has caused an open crisis with the Left leaving the party and even forming sizeable groups, but destined to an inglorious end. Our task is to intervene in similar processes which will inevitably take shape in future, to provide the necessary leadership for the Left of the SF and the SFU, arming it with a Marxist programme and methods.
  46. The work in Spain
  47. For years the leadership of the tendency in Spain underestimated the possibilities opening up in Izquierda Unida (IU). It is true that, after our expulsion from the socialist organisations in 1977, independent work was inevitable for a period, as the Spanish CP at that time was difficult to penetrate because of the weight of the apparatus, which prevented any serious opposition work in the Party. But already in 1986, with the birth of Izquierda Unida, a concrete possibility opened up for entry by other left-wing forces and made work as an organised tendency possible within it. This opportunity was missed.
  48. The 20-year wait for a left current to form in the PSOE, linked to the unions and the mass movement, without ever seriously considering developments in the PCE and IU, was an error, which caused incalculable damage to our work in Spain. The fact that the Ma group, which broke away from the International in 1994, had an opportunist approach to the work in IU does not justify the refractory attitude maintained for years by the Spanish section towards such an orientation. Immediately after the break with Ma, IU reached its peak on the electoral front (2,500,000 votes – 13.44% – at the 1994 European elections and 2,640,000 votes – 10.54% – at the 1996 general election, with an excellent result also at the 1995 local elections).
  49. A national circular of 19/12/94 produced by the old Spanish leadership on the intervention in the 4th congress of IU reported the following: “138 papers and 33 books sold, 15,000 pesetas collected for the Student Organisation. There is a mood of euphoria in the congress about the election prospects”. What better opportunity to orient all our forces (about 200 comrades at that time) towards that party?
  50. It was precisely in 1996 that the PSOE lost the election for the first time after being in power since 1982. IU gathered up a large part of the dissent that had been building up on the Left against the anti-working-class policies carried out by the PSOE (there had been 4 general strikes under the Felipe Gonzalez governments). All this was not enough to change the orientation of the section, which limited itself to sending a few more comrades into IU.
  51. In the absence of systematic, nationally coordinated work by the comrades in IU, a left wing formed there in 2002, of a Stalinist, sectarian nature, the Corriente Roja (Red Current). They did not have a perspective and split away in 2004, giving birth to yet another sect. From 2004 the old Spanish group paid even less attention to the work in IU and a number of comrades were removed from this platform of work to look after other “priorities” in independent work.
  52. This watering down of forces in the IU work came precisely in the period when our leading comrade was being repeatedly invited to the national festival of the PCE and was getting a a considerable echo from the CP rank and file. Where work wasdone, results were achieved in the UJCE (Young communists), for example in Asturias, Valencia and Andalucia. In fact the bureaucracy in Asturias was so concerned about the successes of the Marxists that it launched a bureaucratic attack, expelling our comrades.
  53. But this was used by the leaders of the old Spanish group to justify diluting further their intervention in IU, while in reality it was an added argument for intensifying the work there. The bureaucracy was afraid of the Marxists because they had succeeded very rapidly in winning a decisive influence in the Young Communists. The same attempt to keep the Marxists out was encountered in Italy when they began work in the PRC, but they were able to appeal to the rank and file and the bureaucracy had to give way, demonstrating its weakness.
  54. In the polemic that began in an international meeting in January 2009, our former comrades clearly underestimated the left turn launched by the new national coordinator of IU, Cayo Lara, which represented an opportunity for the Marxists. The national PCE festival at Córdoba was a success and there are numerous signs showing a revitalization of IU, which has organised very well-attended demonstrations in Seville, Madrid and other places. The “discussion forums” of the Refundación de la Izquierda(Refoundation of the Left) are being organised throughout the country with growing participation.
  55. A tactical turn of the Spanish Marxists, that are taking their first steps, is necessary and all the comrades available should join IU, produce a paper linked to this intervention and concentrate their forces. If a “double orientation” position was mistaken for a group of 500 comrades, it would be even more so for a group of 50, which needs a very precise platform of work to unify the comrades’ intervention nationally.
  56. The political deviations of the old Spanish group
  57. In the organisational document of the last congress of the old Spanish group (the infamous document B), EG’s 1959 position had been abandoned to adopt a line giving a more limited character to the concept of working in the mass organisations, which the comrades claimed could develop only in pre-revolutionary conditions. The central argument of the document was that this work was to be developed in an uncertain future with no clarity as to the implications for the present time.
  58. Consistent with this starting point, in the Spanish Perspectives document (document A), the comrades did not have a chapter on perspectives for the Left parties. This was the clearest demonstration that what was happening in the mass political organisations of the class was of no interest to them. If in the past the old group had oriented all its forces to working in IU, it would on the one hand have enabled them to recruit perhaps a few hundred extra comrades, as well as establish firmer links with the labour movement by giving them a clearer public profile.
  59. All this would not have prevented them from maintaining the Student Organisation, the Publishing House and independent work in the unions. On the contrary, this platform would have benefited and there would have been a positive combination between independent work and work in the mass organisations. Failure to do so led the old Spanish organisation, regardless of what was formally declared and written in the documents, to behave for years as a small independent party, developing in the long term those sectarian conceptions which contributed to taking it along the road of degeneration.
  60. One objection addressed to us by the JIR group was that:
  61. “Marxists do not distinguish themselves from the sects by the fact that they work in mass organisations. There are sects who in some circumstances work in mass parties and this does not change their character. On the other hand a Marxist tendency, even if it maintains itself for 30 years in independent work, does not change its nature because the fundamental questions are the method of building and the training of cadres”.
  62. This consideration may be correct in abstract terms, but in reality it is one-sided, especially when dealing with small organisations. We stress once again, work in the mass organisations is an application of the united front tactic when the forces of Marxism are reduced to the size of a small group. Not by chance did the Comintern propose this tactic to the British communists in 1920 considering that the balance of forces between the Labour Party and the CPGB was too unfavourable for the CP and entry into the Labour Party became the only way to apply the united front in the given circumstances.
  63. Work in the mass organisations
  64. One of the fundamental mistakes of the old Spanish leadership was to think it was possible, through the Student Organisation, to apply a united front policy by directly addressing the PSOE, IU, UGT and CC.OO. To the degree that the Student Organisation did not have a mass basis and we were a small group, attention was concentrated on an exaggerated activism. The effects of this policy, just as had happened with Taaffeism, was to lower the political level of the cadres and create an over-sized apparatus which ended up substituting itself for the organisation.
  65. When Trotsky proposed that his supporters in France and other countries should join the Socialist Party, one of the basic reasons was to get the League out of a destructive trend that had developed in its ranks, made up of continuous intrigues and conflicts, typical of small groups isolated from the workers’ movement. For Trotsky this was a decisive argument for orienting the Left Opposition towards the mass organisations. This idea runs through all his writings in that period.
  66. Work in mass organisations obliges a Marxist group to compare itself regularly with other tendencies present in the movement. You have to build the forces of Marxism in a constant comparison and polemic with other political trends, measuring yourself against them also in practical work and party-building, at the same time as the independent forces of Marxism are built. There is no better work than this for political training and carrying out a positive selection of the leaderships.
  67. In this way we reduce the risks of a leadership introducing sectarian thinking and adopting self-important positions that have no relationship with reality. Obviously this work must necessarily be balanced by combination with independent work and a serious attitude to Marxist theory. As EG wrote in 1959:

109. The theoretical, ‘independent’ work of training our forces must proceed simultaneously with our work in the Labour Party. One is as important as the other. Either one alone is inadequate if we are to carry out the role imposed on us by history.”

  1. In the old Spanish leadership’s document on Tactics, one of the arguments raised was the alleged deviation of the International in wanting to work in “empty” organisations. We can reply to this beginning with the way comrade EG dealt with the question in general in 1959:
  2. It is true that the conditions for entry as outlined by Trotsky have not yet matured. But it would be enormous stupidity now to abandon the work in the Labour Party and launch into an “independent” adventure after more than a decade of work in that milieu. Whatever gains we might have been able to make by remaining independent in the past, nothing significant can be expected in the immediate future, because such gains would be disproportionate to the future possibilities in the Labour Party (…). We are now working in preparation for the coming period (…). From every point of view, the work in the LP must be protected by an understanding of the perspectives(…). Otherwise the work is carried out only empirically, as by the Healy group, in a series of convulsions and zigzags. The group would be at the mercy of every juncture and turn of events, tossed here and there by momentarily favourable or unfavourable winds. Instead, while these are to be taken into consideration, and while their meaning is to be explained, it is necessary to link them to the general perspectives for the movement”.
  3. The Militant
  4. The main concept is that work in the mass organisations is not carried out only for what is there today, but also as preparation for what will develop there in the future.
  5. On the basis of these considerations of method at the end of the 1960s, with 200 comrades in the entire country, the Marxists gained the majority of the Labour youth (LPYS) in Britain when it was an empty organisation and revitalised it to carry out their campaigns in the universities and among the young apprentices.
  6. Thus, the LPYS was transformed into a serious revolutionary organisation which held congresses with 2,000 young people and demonstrations of 10,000. We used it to address the labour movement and thanks to it we also built important support for Marxist ideas inside the Labour Party. We went to the factories under this banner. Thanks to this work and the contacts made at the meetings of IUSY (International Union of Socialist Youth) we were able in the 1970s in a general context of radicalization to extend our work internationally, with the birth of the CWI in 1974.
  7. The same applies to the PRC, which appears to be in decline today, but nevertheless is providing a fruitful field of work for the Marxists. Many activists may go home, but the potentially revolutionary core will search for an alternative, and in this search the only solid option they will find is the Marxist  tendency, which has been doing patient opposition work in the party for over 15 years. The same is true of the French Marxists, who have achieved significant results at the moment of greatest crisis of the PCF, when it seemed to have entered a serious decline.
  8. How could we explain this mystery on the basis of the old Spanish leadership’s portrayal? Let us see what Trotsky had to say:
  9. Some comrades point out that the ILP has considerably weakened, that behind the old façade is a ramshackle edifice. But this is not an argument against entry. In its present composition it is clear that the ILP is not viable; it is becoming weaker and losing members not only to the right but also to the left, because its leadership does not have a clear policy and is unable to instil the party with confidence in its own strength. It is possible to halt this disintegration of the ILP only by giving it a Marxist outlook on the problems of our time and particularly a Marxist analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Only the Bolshevik-Leninists can do this job. But in order to do so they must boldly break down the wall that today separates them from the revolutionary workers in the ILP (…). But even if the ILP is doomed to disintegration, the Bolshevik-Leninists can save an important nucleus of this party for the revolution” (“Considerations of principle on entrism”, 16 September 1933).
  10. JIR’s false arguments
  11. Having said this, it should also be added that when JIR claimed that IU was an empty, disintegrating party he gave a one-sided view of reality. However “empty” it may be (it formally has a membership of 52,000), IU, considering only the active members, is at least 20 or 30 times the size that the old Spanish group had and there are signs of recovery and regeneration of the party.
  12. But even accepting JIR’s arguments, precisely because of this weakness of the IU apparatus, with the forces we had in Spain we could have had even a bigger impact on the party with our ideas,  winning over some of its structures and carrying out the work in the workers’ districts, in the factories, universities and schools, not in the name of the group’s paper, which is not a well-known name for the broad masses, but as branches of IU, of the PCE or of the UJCE, structures recognizable to the movement, which may be “empty” in a given context but occupy a space in the collective consciousness of the masses.That of course, does not mean we would not have used the paper in all our interventions and identified with it at all times.
  13. What prevented the comrades from doing this? The answer we got from Jo.R. in the international meeting last summer was that these organisations “were empty of activists but full of bureaucrats!” Let us analyse the argument concretely: we are told that the authority of these leaders in the labour movement has collapsed, that they have lost practically all their base in the CC.OO, they cannot lean on the bourgeois state because they are detached from institutional and government positions except in a few areas (Catalonia), they no longer have the apparatus and financial resources they used to have, they cannot lean on the USSR because it no longer exists, and so on and so forth. 
  14. Our former comrades presented us with the picture of an invincible bureaucracy that was able to expel us at the drop of a hat! Where does this strength of the bureaucracy come from? If we accept all the aforementioned arguments that suggest that the authority of the CP leaders has collapsed, this is a mystery we can answer only by entering into the realm of metaphysics.
  15. In reality Cayo Lara is at the head of an organisation with a weak, shaky, internally divided bureaucracy, and it is no accident that he is striving to give himself a left-wing image, as a man near to the people (living in a working-class area with a worker’s wage, etc.). Is this a positive or negative development? We think it is positive and presents the Marxists with an opportunity. With a flexible and non-sectarian approach, the Marxists in Spain could easily have got round the bureaucratic obstacles and carried out fruitful work in the IU, with great benefits in political and growth terms.
  16. However, their line was to cry: “bureaucrats, bureaucrats, bureaucrats”, manifesting the childish idea of those who are afraid of being contaminated by reformism by the simple fact of being in contact with it. The reformists have to be fought, obviously, but the bureaucracy must not only be firmly criticised, in some cases it is also necessary to come to agreements and compromises, without which, as Trotsky said, the building of a revolutionary party becomes an impossible task.
  17. EG reminded us repeatedly that ultimately “an ultra-left is an opportunist who is afraid of his own opportunism”. That characterises perfectly the psychology of the former Spanish leadership.
  18. Questions of method and general considerations on orientation
  19. It is very easy to declare the official leadership degenerate. However, the task is to build up an alternative. The question is this: is it sufficient to simply declare “the revolutionary party” and wait for the masses to come to you? We think not. Marxists must go to the workers and patiently explain an alternative. We think Lenin’s advice to the British Communists back in 1920 is even more relevant today than it was then. The wiseacre sects will say: times have changed. We answer, yes, they have. What is the difference? Only that, eight decades later, we are much weaker, and the Labour leaders are much stronger. One of Trotsky’s considerations when addressing his comrades was the following:

129. Moreover, also in France far too much energy has been spent on a purely phraseological exposure of the leaders and too little on work going deeper into the rank and file, especially among the youth.” (Letter to Cannon in 1936).

  1. This is a question as important as whether or not Marxists should work in the mass organisations. Working in a mass organisation means building the forces of Marxism also through the building of the party in which we work. We cannot have a speculative approach and it is fundamental to invest time in this work. A classic example of a speculative approach and of how not to do things is the attitude adopted by the sects in Germany within the WASG.
  2. The Taaffeites, in coalition with other groups, were in control of the WASG in Berlin. This gave them a good position in terms of visibility, with all the relating privileges (money, full-timers etc.). When the process of fusion with the PDS began in 2007, rather than understand that they were facing a process of radicalization that opened up enormous opportunities, they thought only of safeguarding their power niche. So instead of proposing an advanced political platform on which to build unity they simply opposed the birth of Die Linke, using, amongst other excuses, that of “anti-Stalinism”.

132. Thus they opposed an epoch-making turn that from all points of view represented a decisive step forward for the German labour movement in the process of building a credible left alternative to the liberal policies of the SPD. The historic domination of the Social Democracy over the labour movement in Germany, which had lasted since the 1930s, was beginning to break down; instead of taking advantage of it, starting from a good position in the WASG, what did they do? They thought of the fact that they would lose the leadership in Berlin and their privileges. Tiny interests determine the line of tiny groups led by tiny minds.

  1. In the same way, in Greece the sects prefer to stay in the Syriza electoral front rather than join Synaspismos, for the advantage this gives them thanks to an agreement with the bureaucracy to share out public finance. They get money, but in this way they can only be seen with distrust by the rank-and-file activists who see them as parasites on the party. The Marxists have completely different aims, not to be seen as an outside body feeding off the party but to win the trust of the activists on the ground.
  2. When the comrades in Spain who split off said that they were “doing work in the mass organisations”, what they had in mind was standing outside the doors of the congresses, selling papers. Some comrades had a party card, but that was the end of it. In short, they showed a total incomprehension of what this work amounts to. For years they miseducated their ranks by introducing false conceptions and sectarian attitudes. It is impossible to conduct serious work merely by selling a few papers, getting contacts, recruiting a few people and leaving the field. With these methods Marxists will never be able to win the confidence of the best elements in the party.
  3. They must always declare themselves for what they are, not disguise their political programme and views. They produce their own newspaper or bulletin defending their point of view. We must have a friendly and comradely approach to the members of the mass parties we are a part of. We must be patient and win an audience through patient work. This involves doing a certain amount of routine work, but we should always be mindful of what we put in and what we get out of it in terms of building the revolutionary tendency. We must always guard against being sucked in into doing all sorts of routine work and taking positions which cannot be used effectively from a political point of view. Our experience also shows that artificially creating "broader fronts" consisting of ourselves and a layer of sympathisers is not a good idea, as it creates an additional barrier between members who are attracted to our ideas and our own tendency. If there are particular circumstances these should be taken into consideration, but always bearing in mind the main barometer of our work: the achievement of our targets for growth and the building of the tendency.
  4. How to gain the ear of the rank and file

137. The method by which polemics are conducted is very important: we should start from the correct things said by the reformists (particularly by the most left-wing) and then defend our positions. The comrades of the old Spanish group had completely overturned this method of debate with the IU leaders, as we have been able to observe. A brief look at their paper over the last 3 or 4 years will reveal plenty of ultimatum-style denunciations and few well-aimed arguments.

  1. The Marxist method on how to criticise the reformist leaders is qualitatively different from the sectarian method. The aim of the Marxists is not to hysterically denounce or "expose" the reformist leaders as traitors, or to underline the fact that in the end all (left and right) bureaucrats are the same. Our method should be one of putting positive demands on the reformist leaders that connect with the needs of the masses and the most advanced layers and critically supporting those reformist leaders who are more on the left and then challenge them to follow up on their words with deeds. It is in moments when the reformist bureaucracy that controls the apparatus of the workers' organisations is divided on which way to move forward that bigger opportunities arise for the intervention of revolutionaries. The more contradictions open up at the top, the more room and political hearing revolutionary positions can win in the rank and file. To achieve this we cannot maintain a “neutral” attitude between the left and right of the party but must critically support the left sector against the right. Our criticism must be firm but friendly.
  2. The best way to do this is to explain to the party members what the left-wing leaders lack in order to defeat the right reformists. If we say that “they’re all the same”, we may be saying something correct from a point of view of general principles of Marxism. However, revolutionary politics doess not only consist of general principles but also of a tactical approach and sensitivity that are of great importance for carrying out work in mass organisations.
  3. By our method, when a leader takes a step to the left, as Marxists we do not publicly denounce him as a traitor who is basically no different from the others, but we support him and explain that in order to defeat the right we need to take the next step. And, as Trotsky said, in our criticisms we must concentrate on the fundamental questions and leave secondary aspects aside.
  4. When political breaks have to be made, it is always important for this to be done on questions decisive for the life of the party, that can be understood by all the members, in order not to give our tendency a frivolous image. When we intervene in a party meeting it is fundamental to assess the forces available and allocate tasks: who will speak, who will sell the paper or look after the bookstand with our material. It is important to engage in discussion with those elements who seem most interesting and could become contacts. What should not be done is to sit around all together, making ironic comments about the interventions of others, limiting ourselves to speaking from the platform… and returning home empty-handed. Prior systematic preparation of these interventions in our branches is fundamental. In this the role of the branch is key. There is no substitute for a properly functioning branch, where the work of each comrade is discussed at regular intervals. It is in the branch that any problems that may arise with a comrade’s trade union or party work can be discussed.
  5. The dangers of adaptation
  6. Work inside reformist parties puts you in close contact with other tendencies and the bureaucracy. The positive side of this has already been indicated; the negative side is the risk of adaptation and absorbing alien methods and ideas. Today many of the parties to which the Marxists are oriented have had to abandon the old police methods typical of the most classical Stalinism and have adopted an internal regime that apes parliamentary democracy; this applies to the PRC in Italy and Synaspismos in Greece. This system is necessary to maintain the slightest cohesion in a weak bureaucracy divided into a number of tendencies and sub-tendencies which no longer have the internal solidarity of the past.
  7. An even worse variation of this is the “federative” systems of IU, Syriza or the failed attempt by the PRC to give life to the “Italian section of the European Left” and today to the Federation of the Left. These structures usually give exaggerated room to small bureaucratic groups or cliques who claim to represent “the movements” or “civil society”, so as to have a further tool for manoeuvre and create places of decision even further from the control of the rank and file. For this reason in Italy the Marxists opposed the formation of the Federation of the Left.
  8. This type of internal regime, while it does not mean that there will not be attempts at expulsion or bureaucratic attacks, nevertheless allows room for representation also to left oppositions, at least so long as the balance of forces in the bureaucracy is not put at risk.
  9. We must be able to make full use of these opportunities and where they do not exist or do not exist fully we must not hesitate to demand our right to be represented in the various leading bodies, depending on the support for Marxist ideas within the rank and file. However, we must also know how to take the necessary counter-measures against the risks of adaptation that this kind of internal regime entails, which in a number of cases the bureaucracy has known how to use in order to co-opt various “left-wing” currents.
  10. Our policy is not to take any position without a base of comrades and after deep consideration of how it would help to build the tendency. Furthermore, there should be a discussion in the branch and consultation with the leading bodies before the taking of positions is contemplated.
  11. The dangers of opportunism are ever present in the mass organisations, without the anchor of Marxist theory, perspectives and the correction of the tendency. Trotsky constantly referred to these dangers in the work of the Trotskyists during the 1930s, especially in the trade unions. The work of the American Trotskyists in the Teamsters’ union was not free from this adaptation. This is what Trotsky had to say about the question regarding the American Socialist Workers’ Party.

149. It would be asinine to think that the workers’ section of the party is perfect. The workers are only gradually reaching clear class consciousness. The trade unions always create a culture medium for opportunist deviations. Inevitably we will run up against this question in one of the next stages. More than once the party will have to remind its own trade unionists that a pedagogical adaption to the more backward layers of the proletariat must not become transformed into a political adaption to the conservative bureaucracy of the trade unions. Every new stage of development, every increase in the party ranks and the complication of the methods of its work open up not only new possibilities but also new dangers. Workers in the trade unions, even those trained in the most revolutionary school, often display a tendency to free themselves from party control.” (In Defence of Marxism).

  1. Later, after the split with the petty-bourgeois opposition in the SWP, Trotsky returns to the same question during an unsuccessful attempt to get the SWP to turn towards the Stalinist workers. In the discussions with the SWP leaders, Joseph Hansen asks Trotsky a question:

151. I am wondering if comrade Trotsky considers that our party is displaying a conservative tendency in the sense that we are adapting ourselves politically to the trade union bureaucracy.”

  1. Trotsky answers frankly:
  2. “To a certain degree I believe it is so...

154. It seems to me that a kind of passive adaption to our trade union work can be recognised. There is not an immediate danger, but a serious warning indicating a change in direction is necessary. Many comrades are more interested in trade union work than in party [SWP] work. More party cohesion is needed, more sharp manoeuvring, a more serious systematic theoretical training; otherwise the trade unions can absorb our comrades.

155. It is a historic law that the trade union functionaries form the right wing of the party”, explained Trotsky. “There is no exception to this. It was true of the social democracy; it was true of the Bolsheviks too. Tomsky was with the right wing, you know. This is absolutely natural. They deal with the class, the backward elements; they are the party vanguard in the working class. The necessary field of adaption is among the trade unions. The people who have this adaption as their job are those in the trade unions. That is why the pressure of the backward elements is always reflected through the trade union comrades. It is a healthy pressure; but it can also break them from the historic class interests – they can become opportunists.

156. The party has made serious gains. These gains were possible through a certain degree of adaption; but on the other hand we must take measures to circumvent dangers that are inevitable. I have noticed only some serious symptoms which indicate the need for more cohesion, more emphasis on the party. Our comrades must be in the first line party members, and only in the second line trade union members. This is especially true for trade union functionaries and editors...” (Discussions with Trotsky, Writings, vol. 1939-40, pp.280-81)

  1. This adaption was also carried over to the work of the American Trotskyists when they entered the Socialist Party. As James Cannon admitted later:

158. Our work in the Socialist Party... was by no means free from errors and neglected opportunities. There is no doubt at all that the leaders of our movement adapted themselves a little too much to the centrist officialdom of the Socialist Party... this adaption undoubtedly was carried too far in some cases and led to illusions and fostered deviations on the part of some members of our movement.” (History of American Trotskyism, p.238)

  1. These are the same dangers that can affect our work in the mass organisations today. Our key priority and task is the building of the forces of Marxism. This should be uppermost in our minds. Our actions should be judged by this criterion. However, some comrades lose sight of this aim and fall into the trap of seeing our main role as “building the left”, whether it is in the unions or the party. This conception is completely false and such a view has consistently been rejected by the tendency. Our main responsibility is building the tendency, as Trotsky explained above.
  2. Our day-to-day work in the movement can absorb some comrades. And we have seen this happen. Under the pressures, some comrades begin to see themselves not as Marxists first and foremost but as good left-wingers. Their priorities change over time. As a consequence of this outlook, their priority as good left-wingers is to “build the left”. This wrong approach was also adopted by the sects in their opportunist phase, especially the Healy group who saw their main role as “building the left” around “Socialist Outlook” and later “Tribune”. The Healy group attacked us for not supporting their initiative. “They [our tendency] opposed the central tactic of the movement around ‘Socialist Outlook’. At that time, in the Labour Party, the evident task for revolutionaries was to assist the organisation of a Left Wing”, stated the Healyites. As our tendency at the time explained in reply, “Quite apart from the incorrectness of the idea of ‘organising the Left’, the ‘tactic’ of the ‘Socialist Outlook’ entailed the complete subordination of Healy and Co. to those ‘Lefts’ like Bessie Braddock who was the ‘parliamentary correspondent’ of this journal as well as holding shares in it.”
  3. While we will participate in the Left, it has never been our task to “build the left”. The Left can only be built on the basis of events. Our forces are far too small, even if we wanted to. The Left Wing can only be built by the hammer blow of mighty events and not the efforts of a tiny group. Those who have attempted to do so, have  inevitably ended up in the camp of opportunism. Every attempt to cuddle up to the lefts has led to disaster. Even before Healy, Trotsky strongly criticised Pierre Frank and Raymond Moliner (among leaders of the French Trotskyists) who proposed a bloc not with reformists, but with a centrist current. Trotsky completely broke with them. “When Moliner tried to replace the party programme by ‘four slogans’ and create a paper on that basis, I was among those who proposed his expulsion.” (In Defence of Marxism).
  4. Comrade EG always fought against the idea of “building the left”. In Problem of Entrism he explained:

163. Our job in the preparatory period, which still exists, is patiently winning the ones and twos, perhaps of small groups, but certainly not the creation of a mass revolutionary current, which is not possible at the present time. To attempt to shout louder than one’s voice merely results in hoarseness and ultimately the loss of voice altogether.

164. Opportunism is only the other side of adventurism. Both rise out of a false assessment of objective circumstances, or of a surrender to the immediate environment. That is why, without a firm theoretical basis and collective control of the movement, it is easy to succumb to one mistake or the other.”

  1. EG also warned about reading too much into the situation when the objective conditions had not arisen for the formation of a Left Wing. The Healyites were always seeing the emerging Left Wing in all kinds of episodic things. “This arises from their previously incorrect perspectives, when they saw a mass Left Wing in every incident which developed in the LP in the last decade.”
  2. He explained that
  3. “under conditions of crisis and struggle, there will be a renewal of the entire Labour Movement... In any event the perspective is of a heightened class struggle finding its reflection within the ranks of the Labour Movement... The Party requires the renovating breezes of the class struggle, which will put all shades and gradings in the party to the test.”
  4. As EG explained,
  5. “It is necessary to understand that our own forces are too weak to create a Left Wing of mass proportions.” In the meantime, our over-riding task is the building of the tendency in anticipation of the events that will unfold. There are no short cuts to this.
  6. The same approach must be adopted in regard to the left in the trade unions. Again, we must have a sense of proportion. It is not our task to organise or build the left. We are far too weak and in any case it will be massive events that will build the left, not the heroic efforts of a tiny handful of comrades. Of course, we will participate and intervene in the left to get contacts and win people to the ideas of Marxism. That is the MAIN reason why we are participating in the union general secretary campaigns. However, it would be folly to run ahead of ourselves and see our work as “building the left” in the unions or anywhere else. This is a wrong conception which if adopted will inevitably lead us to the swamp of opportunism or adventurism.
  7. It is also fundamentally wrong to see our task as “building influence” for the future. Such “influence” will mean nothing when the new forces transform the Labour Movement. The only real way we can achieve any kind of influence is by building the Marxists tendency, by recruiting the best and most advanced elements and training them in the fundamental ideas and methods of Marxism. Any idea that we could influence the left-reformists is wrong and could lead to opportunist adaptation to this milieu.
  8. As we build up the forces of Marxism we will be able to take positions, even leading positions within the party. The general rule, however is always that we take such positions where we have built a base for the tendency. We should also be aware of the fact that when big events shake up the mass organisations and large numbers of workers and youth start to come in, these will be very quickly radicalised, and it is within this layer that the Marxists will be able to make the biggest gains. This layer will be interested in people with ideas that correspond to the moment and show a determination and enthusiasm for building a serious Marxist tendency.
  9. Unless we build NOW, the sects can stumble into the party and complicate our work at a later stage. From ultra-leftism the sects can very easily swing towards opportunism. After denying the possibility of any leftward movement within the ranks of the mass organisations, once such a movement does materialise, the sects can jump in and adapt to the left reformist milieu that will emerge. We have seen this in the past, and it can happen again. The sects are incapable of working in a correct manner within the mass organisations and, if they have a sizeable force, can create problems for the Marxists.
  10. That is why the task of the hour is to build, to recruit and strengthen our position within the labour movement.. We must not waste our time. Our real success can only be measured by this criterion. As Trotsky warned the British Trotskyists, “We do not have eternity before us. We are too generous with our time, which is very precious; and we are not rich enough to spend it at such a rate.”
  11. We base ourselves on the tried and tested methods of the tendency. We need to inoculate our new comrades, and the older comrades for that matter, against wrong methods. Above all, we need to steel all our comrades in the ideas of Marxism and raise the theoretical level (which is too low). This is no secondary matter. As the movement grows so also will the pressures of capitalism. There is only one way in which to safeguard the comrades from these pressures and that is by steeling every single comrade in the fundamental ideas.

176. It is precisely the party’s penetration into the trade unions, and into the workers’ milieu in general that demands heightening the theoretical qualification of our cadres”, explained Trotsky. “I do not mean by cadres the ‘apparatus’ but the party as a whole. Every party member should and must consider himself an officer in the proletarian army.” (In Defence of Marxism)

  1. We must remember that if there is one thing where the bureaucrats continue to excel, it is in identifying those comrades who can be most susceptible to being drawn in, not only materially but also by flattery clothed in fine political prospects (“you’re gifted, if you take this post you can prove your skills”, etc. etc.). First of all, therefore, the decision to fight for a position in a leading body must be carefully discussed and put in relation to our real forces, to the equilibrium of our organisation, to the presence of cadres really able to withstand the pressures arising from these posts.
  2. All the fundamental ideas and decisions, especially those concerning the taking of positions within the mass organisations, must be discussed at all levels of the tendency, in order not to isolate those comrades who are in leading positions within the party and the comrades as a whole. This is particularly important as it is the comrades in party positions who must then be responsible for defending and carrying forward the ideas and decisions adopted and must therefore be fully aware and involved in the process of discussion. This is all the more true for positions within the apparatus, as shown by negative experiences in the past. We must warn against taking up positions that objectively do not correspond to our strength.
  3. Accepting the position of candidates in elections, all the more when these may lead to the election of our comrades, should be carefully assessed; it is not only a question of image but of the overall balance of our work. Accepting parliamentary positions which they were not then able to support was not the least of the reasons that brought the various opposition currents within the PRC (linked respectively to the PO and the Unified Secretariat) to split away from the party in a position of weakness and no longer masters of their own choices. It was the imbalance between the visibility conquered with their parliamentary positions and their real strength, combined with their chronic lack of perspectives, that conditioned them decisively.
  4. Our guideline must always be the total involvement of the tendency in every important step; where there is a doubt, the golden rule will be to give priority to our debate over the times and procedures the bureaucracy tries to impose on us. Missing an opportunity may be serious, but creating a fracture in the organisation is a much bigger danger; a choice that is not fully understood, especially in the leadership, will inevitably lead to serious political problems in moments of greater pressure.
  5. After each stage we must draw up a thorough balance-sheet and allow all comrades to express themselves; full internal democracy and a debate that does not fear even internal criticism are the indispensable conditions for reducing the risks of adaptation that those comrades holding positions in structures controlled by the bureaucracy inevitably run, especially if they are in a very isolated situation.
  6. Tactical flexibility
  7. EG always had a flexible approach to tactics and never fell victim to fetishism towards the organisations where he worked, a phenomenon which did develop among some comrades in the recent past. After the Second World War we were confined to Britain. We developed work in the Labour Party, but in 1956 the Hungarian events caused a crisis in the Communist Party. In that situation EG’s group came out with an open letter to the activists of the CPGB in the name of the organisation.
  8. There were concrete reasons for this. We were doing work in the Labour Party but it was not appropriate at that moment to approach communist party members as a Labour Party tendency. Also later our tendency, while working in the Labour Party, always kept an eye on possible developments in the CPGB and a number of comrades were recruited from this work.
  9. When the Marxist tendency started work in Italy, after considering the possibility of working in Proletarian Democracy, a small party with 10,000 members, the choice then fell on the Socialist Party, which in the late 1970s had a Left current that considered itself Marxist (around Lombardi). This work died out rapidly because a sharp turn to the right was taking shape in the PSI with the domination of Craxi. However, our ideas started to get an echo among the Young Communists where there was a group of youth in Ferrara that we had contacted through our work in the Young Socialists. But the most favourable conditions developed only with the birth of Rifondazione Comunista which, being a new party, did not have consolidated bureaucratic structures and offered a lot of opportunities for the work of the Marxists.
  10. Work in Rifondazione Comunista was delayed for a series of circumstances that would be too long to deal with in this text and some opportunities were lost. At first a certain reluctance prevailed about working in the “smaller” party of the working class. This was also because it was thought that the Ingrao faction (the “communist” left) in the DS (Left Democrats) had the potential to develop and may have presented opportunities. There was also a significant layer of militant shop stewards and trade union leaders, including the then leader of the trade union left, Fausto Bertinotti, that had remained within the PDS [as the DS were known then].
  11. Subsequent developments, however, contradicted our initial perspective. The Left around Ingrao rapidly broke up and de facto collapsed. The best elements within the PDS between 1994 and 1995 passed over to Rifondazione Comunista (including Bertinotti himself who became the party’s general secretary). At that point there could no longer be any doubt about the orientation that should be adopted.
  12. For a period lasting about two years (between 1992 and 1994) the Italian Marxists maintained a dual orientation with comrades in the PDS and others in Rifondazione Comunista. This tactic did not produce results because it aroused mistrust among members of both parties and it was an obstacle to any attempt to organise work that was not purely superficial. So the Marxists decided to concentrate their forces in Rifondazione Comunista and give a clear link to the paper and in this sense, becoming to all effects the Marxist tendency of the PRC.
  13. This delay of about two years allowed the sects to win a position of advantage and it took the Marxists a number of years to achieve a dominant position in the PRC Left, which was in fact conquered only 10 years later. For about 5 years the Marxists had to work in a left current dominated by a sect (linked to the Argentinian Partido Obrero – PO). In spite of its sectarian nature it was nevertheless correct to be part of that current. The alternative would have been to maintain a position of isolation in the Party, with the risk of not being understood by the most combative elements and of being considered a marginal group relegated to Milan and the region of Emilia Romagna. The Marxists could not choose the Left they preferred and simply had to work in the one that existed, even though this might produce risks of them being identified with ultra-left positions.
  14. France and Greece
  15. In France the results of our work were much more rapid. The Marxists presented a document in a congress, winning 15% of the vote. The dissent that had been building up over the years against the liquidationist policies of the right wing of the party found expression in that document. The French Marxists have drawn the conclusion with hindsight that this work should have begun as long ago as 1998 when critical attitudes were starting to grow because of the policies that the leadership were carrying out in the Jospin government.
  16. In Greece, before being able to begin working within the communist movement it proved necessary to break with the majority of the old Greek leadership. Their obsession about working in the PASOK was so strong that in demonstrations and strikes the comrades had got to the point of only selling the paper in the PASOK sections, while mainly ignoring the communist activists, who, particularly among the youth, tended to be the larger and more militant sections.
  17. Important developments within the KKE and KNE (Communist Youth) were largely ignored. After the general election in 1989, when the KKE formed a government alliance with New Democracy, the main bourgeois party, there was a bitter internal struggle which led to a split by the majority of the leadership of the KNE, the youth organisation, who formed a new organisation (NAR).
  18. Initially the NAR had around 5000 members, but as it drifted more and more towards a sectarian position it dwindled and became just one more sect on the scene. Had the Marxists worked systematically towards the KNE previously and paid sufficient attention to the NAR subsequently, significant gains could have been made. EG and AW insisted repeatedly that they should pay attention to the Communists, but the old Greek leaders ignored this advice. Instead the old organisation paid no attention to these important developments and continued with its PASOK fetishism.
  19. Subsequently another split from the KKE led to the formation of Synaspismos. The Marxists should have intervened in these processes which shook the communist movement to its foundations. But the leaders of the former group refused even to discuss intervening in the KKE and its split-offs.
  20. This contempt for the “Stalinists” was one of the most pernicious aspects of this approach, putting the bureaucrats and the rank and file on the same level. In reality this childish attitude masked a steady adaptation to the bureaucracy and policies of PASOK. There has been similar resistance also in Sweden towards systematic work in the Left Party and in Scotland in the past where some real opportunities opened up to begin work in the Scottish Socialist Party. Here again, a rigid approach meant that for the sake of possible work in the Labour Party in some distant future, the real concrete immediate possibilities were lost in Scotland.
  21. In Greece the Marxist tendency has at last begun profitable work in Synaspismos and this is giving its first results. At the congress of the youth they presented an alternative text. Around Synaspismos a political-electoral front has been created (Syriza), swarming with sects. This is why the Greek Marxists preferred to join Synaspismos directly rather than simply being a part of the front. They dissolved their open front and indicated to their members that they should all join the Synaspismos.
  22. It should also be noted that the KKE leadership, although maintaining a tight Stalinist control over the party, will not be able to stop the process of radicalisation and dissent within its ranks forever. The KKE’s youth wing, the KNE, is not only the main youth force on the left, but also the one with deepest roots in the proletarian areas of the country.
  23. The monolithism of the leadership of the KKE has begun to crumble and there have been expressions of dissent. These are the first signs of a process of an unstoppable nature, of which the Greek comrades are fully aware. In the meantime their task is to build support for Marxist ideas and win positions in Synaspismos and through these appeal to the ranks of the communist youth. In general the only way to apply the united front tactic is to sink roots and grow as a Tendency in one organisation of the class, conquer positions and through these appeal to the ranks of other organisations. It certainly is not to scatter ourselves over a number of parties giving an unclear profile to our paper and to our overall intervention.
  24. Work in the European Socialist parties
  25. In Austria the Marxists have carried out some good work over the last few years in the socialist youth, which has allowed them to develop a national tendency. Apart from a brief stage of bureaucratic repression, they have been able to consolidate the support for Marxist ideas in the ranks of the YS and in the last two or three years they have succeeded in getting an influence also in the SPÖ and the trade union youth.
  26. They were a decisive force in the left turn of the YS. Their role was decisive in discussion of the programme “of principle” of the YS, which is “Marxist” in a lot of aspects, and a number of times they have influenced the line of the YS (movement against globalization, struggle against the coalition government, etc.). This work has been combined with open work in schools and universities. Their successes at a certain point brought about an attack by the bureaucracy; a series of branches where the Marxists were in a majority were dissolved.
  27. As a result of the policies of the government coalition which involves the SPÖ, a new crisis has opened up in the party and conditions have been created for the formation of a left-reformist current, called SPÖ-Linke, led by Rudolf Fussi, a radical element whose phraseology recalls the reformism of the 1970s. The Marxists are participating in this movement from the beginning and in fact have played a key role in it, while at the same time clearly differentiating themselves by defending a Marxist programme.
  28. The development of Die Linke in Germany has aroused a lot of discussion in the Left in Austria; in the short term, given the particular traditions of the Austrian labour movement, the birth of a formation to the Left of the SPÖ seems unlikely, but the comrades must keep their eyes open for a possible future development.
  29. Switzerland
  30. Thanks to the work in Austria a Marxist tendency has developed in Switzerland; the comrades at present are working in the socialist youth, a formation with about 3,000 members nationally, which has been growing recently. The Swiss Socialist Party has been in coalition governments in the last 60 years, but the Socialist Youth has a “movementist” tradition and is much farther to the left. On three occasions in its history it has split away from the Socialist Party because of political disagreements within a process of political radicalization.
  31. In the area of the country where the comrades are working (German-speaking Switzerland) the Workers’ Party does not have great traditions, while it is significantly stronger in Geneva and in Canton Ticino (Italian-speaking Switzerland). In 2007, in a process of radicalization, the Workers’ Party in Italian-speaking Switzerland adopted the name of the Ticino Communist Party. At recent demonstrations and in the struggle at the Bellinzona Workshops we have seen a significant strengthening of the Ticino Young Communists, who have very left-wing ideas.
  32. In the next few years the aim is to build the tendency also in the French and Italian parts of the country, where conditions are much more favourable in the Workers’ Party/Ticino Communist Party. The work can be reviewed subsequently on the basis of developments and to the degree that the comrades are able to give a truly national character to their work. It should be noted that the Ticino Young Communists, confident in their own forces, are launching a national campaign to build their organisation also in the rest of the country. This process must be kept under observation and, from the socialist youth where the comrades are working at present, they must pay attention to the Ticino Young Communists.
  33. Belgium

210. In Belgium the SP.a (the Flemish social democratic party) is a party in permanent crisis which has been losing a lot of support (at present it gets between 12 and 15% of the vote). Its extreme instability and that fact that it has been staggering from crisis to crisis has opened up considerable possibilities for the Marxists. In 2005 they participated in the launching of SP.a Rood [Red Social Democratic Party]as the left wing of the party, which is a coalition between the Marxists, various sectors of the left and trade unionists.

  1. The comrades achieved good results with their candidate winning around 34% in the internal party elections and 8,000 votes in the elections; a number of factory committees supported his candidacy and the recognition acquired has enabled us to gain credit also outside the party. The candidacy of the comrade involved about 200 activists in Antwerp alone and obtained the support of the engineering union.
  2. In line with the general trend there is a lot of pressure by trade union activists to split the party to the left and follow the pattern of the Dutch Socialist Party. It is possible that under mass pressure a split could take place, although we do not know with what timing the process will evolve.
  3. The PvdA/PTB (Party of )which is a Maoist grouping with about 3,000 members, has a number of times proposed that the Marxists run campaigns together; as the Left of the Social Democracy our comrades are correctly applying a united front tactic aimed at this and other minor formations with an eye to future developments.
  4. Britain
  5. As far as Britain is concerned our work is concentrated particularly on the trade union and youth level, also through a skilful use of the Venezuela campaign. In the main the Labour Party (which has been in power for more than a decade and is controlled by the extreme right-wing Blairite wing) has been at a very low ebb. But the whole situation in Britain is now beginning to change.
  6. For a time the Blairites were able to give certain concessions (the minimum wage, tax credits for poor families etc.). The fact that the party kept winning elections also strengthened the right-wing leadership for a whole period. But this is no longer possible. The deep economic crisis and the huge deficit means that reforms are not on the order of the day. Whatever party wins the elections will have to carry out deep cuts. The scene is set for a revival of struggles on the industrial front, which will push the unions into semi-opposition or even outright opposition.
  7. All Blair’s attempts to break the organic link between the unions and the Labour Party have failed. The bourgeois who were prepared to back “New Labour” have now moved back to the Tories, the natural party of big business. Therefore, the financial dependence of Labour on the unions has grown, and pressure is building up from the unions for Labour to drop its attacks on the workers and the public sector.
  8. Whoever wins the general election, the stage will be set for a confrontation between the classes as in the 1970s. If Labour loses, the Party could start a process of moving to the Left in opposition. A defeat would provoke a ferment of discussion and the local branches, at a certain stage, would begin to come to life. The Blairite careerists would leave in droves (this has already begun) and, in opposition to a Tory government, fresh layers of workers and youth would begin to enter the Party. Under such conditions the ideas of Marxism would begin to get an echo.
  9. If Labour is returned with a small majority, it will be subjected to enormous pressure from the bosses to make deep cuts and from the workers and the unions to resist cuts. The strikes that have already begun in the public sector are a warning of things to come. The union leaders will not be able to have the cosy relationship they had in the past with the right wing Labour leaders. Also in such a scenario, the Labour Party will enter into a crisis. At a certain stage a Left will begin to crystallize.
  10. All the attempts of the sects in Britain to create a Left alternative to the Labour Party have ended in ignominious failure: the Socialist Alliance, Respect, and the Scottish Socialist Party have collapsed one after the other. The only perspective for the Left and the Marxists is to wage a serious struggle against the Blairite right wing that has hijacked the Labour Party. The unions will play a key role in this struggle in the next period.
  11. We must pay careful attention to developments in the unions and the Labour Party. Our first priority is to win and train cadres from the youth (both young workers and students) and conduct systematic work in the unions, which are the key to the whole situation. The campaign for the election of JH in Unite is the first priority at this stage. Radicalisation will start first in the trade unions and would then start to filter into the party. That is why it will be necessary to reactivate the work in the Labour Party in the next period, where big gains can be made if we work correctly, avoiding the pitfalls of ultra-leftism and opportunist adaptation.
  12. Work in the former colonial countries
  13. The situation in the former colonial and semi-colonial countries has important differences with the situation in the advanced capitalist countries in Europe. Just as they do not mechanically repeat the same historical stages that were experienced in Europe over centuries, so the political evolution of the mass organisations do not follow the same pattern as the Social Democracy and Communist Parties in Europe.
  14. The law of uneven and combined development is applicable not only to economics but to political development. Thus, the “backward” Russians were able to import not just the most modern American machinery but also the most advanced ideas of scientific socialism, which found in semi-feudal tsarist Russia a far more fertile ground to develop than in “advanced” Britain, where the slow, organic evolution of capitalism over 200 years produced powerful workers’ organisations but with a reformist leadership.
  15. The class relations of society in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia are far more complex than in Europe and this complexity is reflected in equally complex political formations. A relatively stable social and economic history gives rise to relatively stable political formations. But the economic and social history of the ex-colonial and semi-colonial nations is anything but stable. Here we see the constant rise and fall of parties and leaders. The situation is unstable and in constant flux, and can produce many strange variations and contradictory phenomena.
  16. In the older capitalist countries, where mass reformist organisations have existed for decades, it is difficult for the masses to break from them. Instead, they will test them time and time again. Only in an extreme case will they decide to break with the old leaders and mass organisations, as in the period 1917-23 in Europe, when the mass Communist Parties were formed. Even then, the new parties of the Communist International emerged in most cases from splits in the old reformist parties of the Second International. But in the former colonial and semi-colonial countries the case is somewhat different.
  17. Any attempt to approach such a complex and changing scenario with fixed schema derived from a political reality from an entirely different context and historical traditions is bound to fail. Here more than anywhere else what is required is the dialectical method of analysis, which takes things in their concrete life and development, with all their complex interrelations and contradictory aspects.
  18. In a discussion about Latin America, Trotsky explained the nature of these parties or movements:

229. The 4th International recognizes all the democratic tasks of the State in the struggle for national independence, but the Mexican section of the Fourth is in competition with the national bourgeoisie, as the only leadership able to ensure the victory of the masses in the struggle against imperialism. In the agrarian question we support the expropriations. This does not mean, let it be understood, that we support the national bourgeoisie. In all cases where it clashes directly with imperialism and its reactionary fascist agents, we give it full revolutionary support, maintaining the full independence of our organisation, programme and party and our full freedom of criticism. The Kuomintang in China, the PRM in Mexico, the APRA in Peru are entirely analogous organisations. They are the popular front in the form of a party (…), a popular front in a single party, as in all combinations of this kind. The leadership is in the hands of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie fears its workers. This is why the party, although strong enough to take power, is afraid to commit itself in this direction. It has neither the courage nor the class interest to mobilize the peasantry and the workers and will replace them with military manoeuvres or a direct intervention by the United States. Obviously we cannot enter such a party, but we can build a nucleus there to win over workers and separate them from the bourgeoisie. But in no way must we repeat the idiocies of Stalin with the Kuomintang in China (…).”

  1. Trotsky’s definition of “popular fronts in a single party” may not be strictly applicable in every case. The Uruguayan Frente Amplio, for instance, is in fact not a party at all but a coalition of different formations, while the Mexican PRD, the PPP in Pakistan, more than true parties, are movements with a bourgeois leadership but which at the same time enjoy the support of decisive sectors of the workers and peasants. In the case of the Peruvian APRA, Trotsky suggested building a nucleus of workers, keeping themselves distinct politically and organisationally. This shows Trotsky’s great flexibility when approaching tactical questions.
  2. It is often objected that Trotsky opposed the dissolution of the Chinese Communist Party into the bourgeois Kuomintang in the 1920s. But this is a false analogy. The CPC at that time was a mass workers’ organisation with a following of millions. The Stalinists dissolved the Party into the Kuomintang and completely subordinated the Chinese Communists to Chiang Kai-shek. That was a crime. But the forces of Marxism in Latin America are not mass parties. On the contrary, our task is precisely to win the masses for Marxism.
  3. In cases like this, the Marxists must intervene to help the proletarian revolutionary element break from the policies of popular frontism, demanding a break with the bourgeoisie and the implementation of policies in the interests of the workers and peasants.
  4. Pakistan
  5. For some years the Pakistani Marxists have been working in the PPP, a party that has a mass following among the workers and peasants, although its leading layer is composed mainly of bourgeois and feudal elements. It goes without saying that in Pakistan, as in all other countries, the aim of the Marxist tendency is to win over the workers and peasants. This requires an implacable and unceasing struggle against the corrupt bourgeois and feudal elements in the leadership.
  6. As a result of the serious work of the Pakistani Marxists over many years, the Marxist Tendency is in a very strong position. This is known to the PPP leaders, who now head the government. The position in the country is disastrous: price hikes, unemployment, poverty, electricity, water and gas shortages, redundancies, privatizations and other factors have created a situation for the working masses that is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.
  7. We do not think that the present furious attacks against the tendency are an accident at this particular time. Nor do we think it an accident that our enemies have singled out the Pakistan Marxists for their particular attention. It is an extraordinary achievement that in a poor, backward Islamic state, the forces of Marxism have made such striking gains. This is known all over the world – both to our friends and our enemies.
  8. The PPP leaders, by basing themselves on bankrupt Pakistan capitalism, were compelled to start a series of attacks on the working class. To make matters worse, Zardari promised the Americans total submission that even Musharraf was incapable of providing. This regime has given all-out and blind support to the imperialist aggression that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Zardari government carried out a right-wing, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist policy from the very beginning.
  9. The PPP leaders entered a coalition government with the right-wing Muslim League, which we had also predicted in advance. We said that the PPP leaders would need such a coalition as a cover for carrying out unpopular policies. The policy of the Marxists  was quite clear: “Break the coalition! Carry out the founding programme of the PPP!” This has got an echo in the PPP rank and file.
  10. Therefore our comrades are also under attack from the state forces, who understand that they are the only serious revolutionary force in Pakistan. The right-wing PPP leaders are working closely with these same state forces and the US imperialists who see Pakistan as a necessary tool for waging their dirty war in Afghanistan. Zardari is only a tool of Washington. At least for the time being, the imperialists need Zardari, who is their puppet. Therefore, they are interested in the elimination of the PPP Left in general, and the Marxists in particular.
  11. The Pakistan Marxists are fighting against these right-wing policies and the theory of reconciliation. They stand for a socialist programme both outside and inside the PPP. The rank and file inside the PPP is also reacting against these policies. The workers abhor people who try to defend the President, Prime Minister and their stooges. This situation entirely confirms our perspectives for the PPP. The workers and peasants of Pakistan turned massively to the PPP after the return of BB. They voted for the PPP in the hope of a change. But their hopes have been dashed. They had to pass through the school of Zardari in order to learn the real nature of the PPP leaders. And they are learning fast.
  12. Cracks are opening up inside the PPP that will widen with time and experience. We have no intention of abandoning the PPP, but it would be fatal for us to be seen as defending the anti-working class policies of Zardari, which are alienating the masses and preparing the way for the return of reaction. Our position is that of Lenin: “patiently explain”. This will attract an ever increasing number of people towards our revolutionary ideology.
  13. There have been many splits in the PPP in the past – both right-wing splits and left-wing splits, but they could not capture the tradition. For example, Murtaza Bhutto was killed because he was moving to the left and was to some extent under the influence of our ideas. In the next period there will be many crises and splits. There will be a tremendous ferment in the PPP, in which the Marxist wing can gain influence and strength. A policy of capitulation to Zardari would cut them off completely from the workers and the PPP rank and file. What is required is to build the forces of Marxism quantitatively and qualitatively.
  14. There is no short cut to revolution. Before the Marxists can conquer power, they must first conquer the masses. In Pakistan they have made spectacular progress in this respect, as everyone is well aware. The comrades are working in the PPP but always maintaining the position of revolutionary socialism.
  15. Our role, however, is not limited to Pakistan. Our successes have had a big impact in neighbouring countries. The immediate priority of the Pakistan comrades is to develop work in India, where they have a large number of sympathisers and where it is quite evident that the work will have to be developed in the communist movement, which has a mass basis in India, in spite of the betrayal by its leaders who have been in government in Bengal, carrying out privatization policies and vicious attacks on the living conditions of the masses.
  16. In these conditions Marxist ideas are also getting an echo among Maoists. Many of our books have been published in India and are being widely read by the most critical elements within the Indian communist movement.
  17. Venezuela and Bolivia
  18. In Latin America, in a revolutionary process that has swept across the continent and that we have carefully analysed in these years, we have seen the creation of new mass organisations. This is the case with the Venezuelan PSUV and the Bolivian MAS.
  19. A revolution signifies the eruption of the masses onto the stage of history. In such cases, the old parties, leaders and programmes are put severely to the test. They can be transformed, or discarded, in which case the masses will seek out a new banner and a new leadership.
  20. What, however, must always be remembered by the Marxists is that such new formations do not emerge from small sectarian groups on the fringes of the labour movement. They emerge as mass phenomena, either from movements such as that of the Brazilian metalworkers that led to the formation of the PT, or from processes such as the Venezuelan Revolution that has thrown up the PSUV around the figure of Chavez. Once these new parties are formed they assume the position of the traditional mass organisation of the working class.
  21. In Venezuela and Bolivia, the old traditional formations were discredited. The revolutionary wave found its political expression in new mass formations: the Bolivarian Movement and the MAS. In Europe we saw something similar in the 1970s, in a period of deep crisis, when, after the fall of the military Junta in Greece, Andreas Papandreu formed the Pasok, an entirely new party with a radical socialist programme. A similar process took place in Brazil with the birth of the PT, starting from the movement of industrial workers of the ABC belt of São Paulo, in the struggle against the dictatorship.
  22. The PSUV in Venezuela is a mass party (with a paper membership of 7 million, but with 2.5 million taking part in the voting for delegates to the Second Extraordinary Congress). In a mass party of this character, the contradictory tendencies in society will be manifested in an open clash between the reformist and the revolutionary sector. It is quite evident that this represents an extraordinary opportunity for the Marxist tendency.
  23. Unfortunately the leaders of the former section, who had been miseducated in a sectarian spirit in Spain, only paid lip service to work in the PSUV, and in the last few months they sabotaged the work in preparation for the extraordinary congress. The new Venezuelan group has put work in the PSUV at the top of its list of priorities, and in a very short time has obtained excellent results. In the last analysis, the fate of the Venezuelan Revolution will be decided by the internal struggle between the right and left wings of the PSUV. Because of sectarian stupidity we have wasted a lot of time. The Venezuelan Marxists must now work hard to catch up.
  24. The Bolivian MAS was not born basing itself on the traditional force of the Bolivian labour movement, the COB. It is a front of social and trade union organisations, particularly peasant and intellectual (the Comités por la dignidad – Committees for dignity). The sectarian mistakes of the COB enabled this party to take on a leading role in the revolutionary process which unfolded between 2003 and 2005.
  25. The MAS was really a by-product of a revolutionary process, although it included former Stalinist, Guevarist and Maoist tendencies. Its references to socialism, although confused ideologically (primitive-indigenous) mark a difference between this party and APRA, which had a decidedly bourgeois leadership and was totally dominated by American imperialism.
  26. An independent workers’ party in Bolivia today can only arise from the MAS. It is therefore fundamental to work in the MAS (as well as in the COB on a trade union level) with this perspective.
  27. Argentina
  28. The peculiarities of political life in the colonial countries were explained in a masterly way in Trotsky’s writings on Latin America:

258. In industrially backward countries foreign capital has a decisive function. Hence the relative weakness of the national bourgeoisie in comparison with the national proletariat. This leads to a particular kind of state power. The government steers a course between foreign capital and native capital, between the weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively strong proletariat. This gives the government a bonapartist character of a particular kind. It stands, as it were, above the classes. In reality it can govern either by becoming an instrument of foreign capital and keeping the proletariat chained by a police dictatorship or by manoeuvring with the proletariat and even giving it some concessions, thus guaranteeing itself the possibility of a certain freedom in the face of foreign capitalists. The present policy (of Cárdenas) falls into the second category: his biggest achievements are the expropriation of the railways and the oil industry. These measures come directly in the context of state capitalism. However, in a semicolonial country, state capitalism comes under heavy pressure from foreign private capital and its governments and cannot stand without the active support of the workers. For this reason, without letting slip the real power, it tries to place on the workers’ organisations a considerable part of the responsibility for the performance of production in the nationalized sectors of industry”. (Leon Trotsky, Nationalized industry and workers’ management, 1938).

  1. For this reason historically in many colonial countries the organisational boundaries between workers’ and bourgeois parties are much less sharp than in the advanced capitalist countries. This has been particularly true in Latin America because of the pernicious role played by the Stalinists, with their suicidal popular front policies, which have contributed to destroying the Communist parties, reducing them to a minimum (with the exception of Chile and to some extent Colombia).
  2. In Argentina this process had gone further than in any other country with the phenomenon of Peronism, which has been able to dominate the labour movement for over 60 years. The Argentinian “Trotskyists” for a time worked in the Peronist movement. This was a good example of the kind of peculiar hybrid and contradictory animals that can arise in former colonial or ex-colonial countries. In the Peronist Movement there was every conceivable tendency, ranging from para-fascist tendencies and workers’ tendencies and even ultra-left tendencies such as the Montoneros.
  3. Only in the mid 1980s a real opportunity opened in Argentina to build a small party independent from Peronism, the MAS. At the time we had a small nucleus of comrades who had the chance to enter that formation in leading positions, but the opportunity was not grasped, and the group, which maintained an orientation towards the Peronist movement, fell apart. At the same time the MAS broke up, torn apart by the internal divisions of Morenism. The result has been the fracturing of the Left in Argentina into several fairly large sects, which partly succeeded in influencing the youth and a layer of advanced workers, but are organically incapable of penetrating the mass of the working class.
  4. The trade union movement is still today controlled substantially by the Peronist CGT, although the CTA, a left split-off from the CGT, could give rise in the future to a movement for the formation of an independent party of the Argentinian working class. To the left of Peronism there have for years been a number of groups with a few thousand members between them (PO, PTS, MST) whose organic sectarianism makes them incapable of having a significant effect on the general movement of the class or of opening a process of unification on the left which might contribute to the formation of this party, as was shown for the umpteenth time in the Argentinazo in 2001.
  5. The main task of the Argentinian Marxists is therefore to create a nucleus of cadres with clear ideas and connect up with the political formations gravitating around the CTA, which could give shape to this perspective. Among these is Pino Solanas’ Proyecto Sur.
  6. Mexico
  7. In general, wherever there is a real (and not imaginary) possibility of forming significant workers’ parties starting from splits within such formations, the Marxists must be in the front line in this process. In the next few years this could be the case in Mexico, where there is an interesting development: a sharp struggle has opened up between the right wing of the PRD and the movement organised around López Obrador, a current called Izquierda Social (Social Left).
  8. A significant episode occurred in the Iztapalapa by-election in 2009, where the right of the party imposed a candidate hated by the majority of the members. In this context López Obrador and the PRD Left called for a vote for the candidate of the PT (Workers’ Party), a smaller formation of Maoist origin. The former leaders of the Mexican section managed to make a mess of things, advocating a vote for the PRD right wing candidate, in a rare exercise of combining the crudest opportunism with the most extreme sectarianism.
  9. The PT is a party of dubious origin (apparently there was the hand of the state apparatus in its formation), but in Mexico City at the moment it has very left-wing positions and is asking the Marxists to collaborate.
  10. Our present orientation is towards López Obrador’s Izquierda Social. In the presidential elections of 2012 the right wing of the party will try not to have López Obrador stand again. If this should happen, it is possible that he will split away and, together with the PT and other movements, could form a new party of the Left. This would be a decisive step forward for the labour movement and would provide extremely fertile ground for the work of our Mexican comrades.
  11. Brazil
  12. The working-class nature of the Brazilian PT is unquestionable, even though the political leadership in recent years has been totally subordinate to the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Brazilian Marxists have a long experience of work and enjoy a great authority in the ranks of the party, despite Lula’s move to the right. At the primaries for the presidential candidate their comrade, in spite of ballot-rigging, won 3,500 preference votes. With only 1% of the delegates to the last congress (10 delegates in all), the authority of the leading comrades enabled them to have an important impact and even influence the position of the party, for example on the question of racial quotas.

271. The base of the section in some of the most important industrial areas of the country is well known thanks to the role we played in the occupied factories movement (Cipla, Flasko etc.) in Brazil and on a continental scale. Our main demand in Brazil is that the PT must break with the bourgeoisie. The left split-offs from the PT in recent years (PSOL) have not been able to offer an alternative and do not enjoy a good state of health. It is in the PT that we must maintain our intervention.

  1. However, it is interesting to note that in one of the two Brazilian communist parties (the one outside the government) there is a “re-thinking” process taking place. This party, which in the past had judged the PT to be a “conspiracy of the regime”, is today addressing our tendency with the intent of opening up a political dialogue. This is a new element considering that the two CPs in Brazil (pro-Russian and pro-Albanian) have always been very opportunist, quite impervious to Trotskyist ideas.
  2. Chile
  3. In Latin America there were some of the most Stalinist communist parties in the world. But even here the nature of some Stalinist formations is changing to some degree. They have stopped considering Trotskyists as enemies of the working class and are looking for a “new identity”. Not only must we not avoid engaging with this development, but on the contrary we ourselves must promote it. Mistakes have been made in the past in relation to Stalinist formations, which we must not repeat.
  4. For example in Chile in the 1980s a group of Young Communists asked one of our leading comrades to join the Communist Youth to win it over to a revolutionary policy. The then (Taaffeite) leaders in the CWI in Chile considered it inappropriate to dedicate even a part of their forces to work among the Communist Party activists. They saw this as abandoning their orientation towards the PSC (Chilean Socialist Party). It was clear that many of the more proletarian and combative elements of the workers and youth were in and around the Communist Party (in the difficult conditions under the dictatorship), so the opportunity was lost.
  5. El Salvador
  6. The question of El Salvador needs a historical note. The FMLN was born as the military leadership of the Salvadorian revolution as an alliance of different groups and mass organisations, with the Communist Party playing a key role.
  7. After the end of the civil war, with the peace agreements, a movement arose in the ranks against those currents of bourgeois and petty bourgeois “renovadores” (“renewers”) who wanted to steer the party towards socialdemocracy.
  8. In the Convention of December 2000, which was to define the line and strategy of the party in a direct, secret vote among all the members, the right-wing currents were not recognized and the party statute confirmed the “revolutionary socialist” character of the party. In November 2001, when the leading bodies were elected (again by direct secret vote among the membership), the revolutionary sector crushed the renovadores. On the basis of a left turn the FMLN won the 2003 municipal elections and then the general election in 2004. The internal struggle continued, however, until the election victory of 2009, when Funes (representative of the right) became president.
  9. The FMLN is thus a movement where there has been a victory in open struggle by the working-class, socialist sector against the liquidationist, bourgeois factions. The party should obviously not be confused with the government. Funes has created a popular front government, but the party has its own internal dynamics, as shown by the case of the 5th International, rejected by Funes and enthusiastically supported by the party.
  10. The BPJ, which has a long history of struggle, is highly considered by the rank and file of the FMLN. It is therefore important that we play a role in this struggle. The BPJ is not at present affiliated to the FMLN, nor does it represent a rank-and-file youth organisation. We must discuss whether an outside intervention or a united front line towards the FMLN can be maintained as such or whether we should consider the possibility of calling for the affiliation of the BPJ to the FMLN.
  11. The USA and Canada
  12. The question of a workers’ party in the USA has been on the table for some time but it still remains unresolved. There is no party of the working class, and for this reason the Marxists present themselves to the movement as an independent force, the aim of which is to recruit and train the cadres of Marxism in the most powerful country on earth. This work is difficult and will be slow at first. But in a situation of deep crisis the conditions in the USA can change with lightening speed.
  13. It is interesting to note that in the American unions there is growing pressure from below and a widespread demand for an alternative policy to the Democratic Party. The Obamamania has rapidly died down. A series of movements, still confused and amorphous, are arising which present independent “socialist” candidates, of ecologists and pacifist and libertarian movements. These are the first signs of a process that will mature in the coming years.
  14. In the meantime it is important to build the tendency, which already has established the first nuclei in a number of key areas. We must train our comrades to be ready to take bold initiatives and to prepare an intervention in the mass organisations when the opportunity arises.
  15. In Canada the Marxists are working in the NDP, but they have also skilfully combined this with open work, for example in the use of the Venezuela solidarity campaign and work in the trade unions. In particular in Ontario they have achieved some results among the youth. However, in the French-speaking area, the wave of the anti-global movement has given rise to a formation where the Marxists have faction rights, Quebec Solidaire, where the Canadian CP and other left-wing formations, all very small, have entered. The Canadian comrades are campaigning for QS to develop in the direction of a genuine workers’ Party. 

287.       The 5th International

  1. Our attitude to the proposal by President Chávez to set up a 5th International represents a natural development of our work in the workers’ parties. As an organisation the Fourth International died a long time ago and it cannot be revived. It exists only in the ideas of its founder, Leon Trotsky, which are represented today by the  Marxist tendency. We therefore consider that the proposal to work for a new International represents a step forward in the process of aggregation of revolutionary forces internationally.
  2. The proposal has been addressed to the communist, socialist and anti-capitalist parties and currents around the world. The analogy that suggests itself is that of the First International.
  3. Within the framework of the Fifth International the Marxists will campaign for the ideas of genuine socialism, just as they do in each country in the parties where they work. The Marxists will form part of it as a definite tendency and identity, with their own programme and ideas, maintaining complete political and full organisational independence.
  4. But the new International is as yet in an embryonic phase. It can develop in a number of different directions. It may not get past the initial stage. There is obviously a danger that this project may fail, degenerate or be transformed into a tool of the Venezuelan bureaucracy, but this will be determined by a clash between living forces in which we must play our part, right from the beginning. The launching of the International has already produced a line of demarcation in Latin America between the forces that consider themselves revolutionary and the right reformists (led by Lula) who oppose it, together with the reformists of the São Paulo Forum.
  5. In the parties where we work we must agitate in the coming months in favour of affiliation to the 5th International. This is particularly important in the European Communist Parties, some of which are resisting the idea of the International. The Stalinist tendency is generally hostile because of their organic chauvinism, and this is a concrete way of exposing them as a national-reformist tendency and winning over the better elements in their ranks who will be naturally sympathetic to proletarian internationalism.
  6. In the cases of parties that form part of the Socialist International this will not be possible, but we can still use the issue for propaganda and educational work, explaining the need for a genuine socialist International, explaining the history of the Internationals, etc. It can have an enormous appeal for radicalised layers of the youth and advanced workers. Where possible, we should set up committees in support of the 5th International, which will enable us to gather forces and get contacts. This can be linked to the work of the Venezuelan solidarity campaign, and is a way of politicizing the campaign and carrying it to a higher level.
  7. Conclusions
  8. What sets us apart from all the other tendencies that claim to be Trotskyists is, on the one hand, our painstaking attitude to theory, on the other, our approach towards the mass organisations. As opposed to all the other groups we take as our starting point the well-established fact that when the workers move into action, they will not go towards some small grouping on the fringes of the Labour movement. They will inevitably express themselves through their traditional mass organisations.
  9. The whole history of the international labour movement confirms this. The Third Communist International - as we have seen - was not born out of small sects, nor did it descend ready-formed from the clouds, but developed from the left wing of the Second Socialist International. The Bolsheviks were a faction of the same party as the Mensheviks for many years before emerging as an independent force. The French and Italian Communist Parties developed from within the Socialist Parties. The German Communist Party likewise gained its mass force from a split to the left of the SPD.
  10. The entire history of the international workers’ movement in the twentieth century has furnished us with a wealth of material to show the way in which the working class and its organisations develop. From the study of the workers’ movement over several decades, comrade EG drew the following inescapable conclusion: that when the mass of the workers enter the arena of struggle to change society, they inevitably gravitate, in the first instance, to the traditional mass organisations. The reason for this phenomenon is not difficult to see.
  11. The mass of the workers—and even the greater part of the advanced elements of the class—do not learn from books, but only from experience, and particularly the experience of great events. Consequently, every generation of workers must re-learn through painful experience the lessons of the past. Where a strong and educated Marxist tendency is present, the process by which the class reaches the correct conclusions can be considerably shortened. This was the case with the Bolshevik Party in 1917. The success of the Bolshevik Party was, however, by no means guaranteed in advance.
  12. The polarisation of society to the right and the left will be replicated at a certain point within the labour and trade union organisations. At the moment there seems little evidence of this. The workers' organisations are largely empty, and the leadership has swung far to the right - so far that some people have even written them off altogether. This is foolish in the extreme. The reason that the leadership has gone far to the right is that the class has not yet begun to move in a decisive way.
  13. The crisis of capitalism is opening new contradictions and will do so even more in the future. Today’s small achievements can be transformed tomorrow into big conquests and a significant advance of the forces of Marxism. We must learn from these historical examples, and develop a perspective for the future. The workers will be forced by the crisis of capitalism to go once more onto the offensive. Where will they go? Again, they can only go to the traditional mass organisations, and we have to prepare to intervene in that process.
  14. In the meantime does that mean that we sit in party branches waiting for the masses to arrive? That would be ridiculous. In the conditions of today we must find channels to the most advanced workers and youth. We must intervene in working class and student struggles and offer an alternative. On this basis we can build up the forces of a Marxist tendency to prepare to intervene in the mass organisations in the future. That is why we have to develop flexible tactics, but without abandoning the fundamental perspective on the traditional mass organisations of the working class.
  15. Today, at least in most of the advanced capitalist countries, the conditions for a rapid development of a mass Marxist party do not exist. There are still big illusions in reformism. These will not go away simply by declaring the revolutionary party. The illusions of the masses will be torn down by events themselves. Capitalism is entering a period of great convulsions. Big movements will take place. The workers will put their traditional mass organisations to the test. Over a period of years they will come to the conclusion that the leaders of these organisations offer no real alternative.
  16. The workers will put pressure on these organisations and a process of radicalisation will take place similar to what happened after the First World War, in the 1930s, after the Second World War and in the 1970s. On that basis with a correct orientation a small Marxist force can begin to grow rapidly. But to achieve that, the nucleus of that Marxist force must be built now. That is why now we must know how to win the best workers and youth now, while at the same time maintaining a perspective for the future developments inside the mass organisations.


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