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FYI: CWI statement on the IMT

posted 23 Feb 2010, 07:11 by M MacDonald

Peter Taaffe has come out with a statement about what has been happening in the IMT. The following is the relevant part carried in a theoretical article called "The Permanent Revolution today"

Crisis in the International Marxist Tendency

At the same time, they have a totally false position of sticking to the so-called ‘traditional organisations of the working class’ – without taking into account the concrete circumstances as to whether these organisations still represent the working masses. This policy now lies in ruins as a big split has developed in the Woods ‘International’, the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), on the consequences of this amongst other issues. It has had disastrous consequences for their organisation in Pakistan, as shown by the voluminous documentation detailing the bureaucratic methods of the Woods group, which split from the CWI in 1991.

Very few class-conscious workers now entertain any illusions that the PPP – led by ‘Mr Fifty Per Cent’ Asif Zardari – remotely represents in practice the working masses and the poor farmers of Pakistan. It is flooded out with the influence of the feudals, both in the towns and the rural areas. It is a party which has opposed strikes, called for and tried to organise strike-breaking, of the telecoms workers, for instance. The position of the PPP from what it was under its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a ‘populist’ party capable of responding to the demands of the masses, has long gone. Therefore the same task is posed in Pakistan, as in other countries throughout the world, the development of a new mass party of the Pakistani workers and peasants, which the SMP has consistently argued for. The Woods group – which its leaders boasted was immune from the processes of ‘splits’ that allegedly condemned other organisations to ‘marginal’ influence in the workers’ movement – is seriously divided.

Ironically, it is on the very issues which formed the main ‘political’ reasons for their break from the CWI in 1992. Then it was the alleged existence of a ‘clique’ at the ‘top of the CWI’. This was rejected by 93% of the members of the British organisation and also by a majority of the CWI. Yet this is the same charge, in effect, now levelled against Alan Woods and his circle. There was absolutely no substance in this charge made by Woods and Co in 1992 about the CWI and its internal methods. The proof of this lies in the subsequent development of the national sections of the CWI with independent and thinking leaderships, capable of responding to the concrete circumstances in each country, which collaborates internationally but acts without waiting for ‘instructions’ from an international centre. The CWI operates on the basis of democratic centralism with full rights for all its members and sections with, in fact, a greater emphasis at this stage on the need for discussion and debate rather than the formal aspects of centralism.

The present split in the IMT has been kept under wraps – hidden from some of their members – up to the present time of writing. Yet all the political disputes in the CWI on a number of issues in the 1990s and the ‘noughties’ were public discussions, and documents were made public while the discussion was going on. Current debates are publically aired, for instance, in our journal ‘Socialism Today’ on such issues as China. This is done in order to allow all workers to see and, if needs be, to participate in the discussion of vital issues. Nothing like these democratic discussions takes place in the IMT.

An opposite picture is presented of the IMT, its internal life, its ideas and especially of its leadership in the incredible documents emanating from Pakistan, Spain and others who have fallen out with Woods and his closest circle. The Pakistani ‘dissidents’ around Manzoor Khan – the former PPP MP – paint a tragic picture of where Ted Grant and Alan Woods’s false position on the dogmatic insistence on undeviating work in the PPP and the ex-workers’ parties can lead. Manzoor justifies his opposition – on behalf of the PPP leadership – to strikes in Pakistan by wanting to remain in the PPP “at all costs”. Woods objected to this and promptly expelled Manzoor and his supporters. But a similar approach to that of Manzoor in Pakistan was adopted by Grant and Woods in Britain over our Militant MPs’ stand against the poll tax in 1991-92. We, the leadership and overwhelming majority of Militant (now the Socialist Party), stated that Terry Fields and Dave Nellist (our two MPs) could not pay the poll tax. This was because they and we had successfully urged millions of workers not to pay it and, faced with a similar situation, we declared they should take a similar principled stand. Grant and Woods argued that the MPs should pay as a means of staying inside the Labour Party!

Socialists were ‘dead’ outside of this ‘traditional organisation’, they argued, much as they had miseducated Manzoor and others in ‘Class Struggle’ in continued work in the PPP. We would have been ‘politically dead’ if the MPs and we had followed their advice. The Labour Party has since degenerated like the PPP into a bourgeois formation. Grant and Co were trapped in a false outmoded perception: that all political life of the working class was restricted to the Labour Party; to go outside meant ‘going over a cliff’. What is the result of this? They are insignificant in Britain while the Socialist Party has grown in numbers and influence. The same applies on an international scale with the IMT losing influence in many countries with Woods increasingly reduced to the role of a ‘benevolent advisor’ to Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. They reacted to the opportunist and indefensible actions of Manzoor – which was but the logical conclusion of their own ossified position on the ‘traditional organisations – by expelling him!

There are still sincere Marxists and Trotskyists within its ranks that we hope will cut through the thicket of lies and misrepresentations that have been particularly levelled by Alan Woods and his leading organising group against the CWI, its organisations, its leadership and its policies. A conscientious examination of the ideas of the CWI will, it is hoped, lead the best of these comrades to re-examine their past policies, and those of the CWI’s, and hopefully find a path back to a consistent Trotskyist position.