Socialism or barbarism, draft international platform, september 2015
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I. Capitalism has seen its day, socialism is necessary
Humanity is able to look ahead towards a new stage of civilization, based on the free association of producers, thanks to the development of the productive forces that has been allowed by the modes of production based on constrained and exploited labour. From a historical point of view, capitalism is the anteroom for socialism. As a mode of production, its productive forces consist of capital, the relation of production is the capitalist relation of exploitation, the product is a commodity, the surplus product is surplus value and the labour is waged labour.
The labour power is sold by the exploited class, which owns no means of production, to the exploiting class which earns additional value thanks to the difference between the value of the commodities that are produced and the value of the labour power. The capitalist mode of production tends to reproduce itself on an extended scale (accumulation of capital, numerical increase of the working class, globalization), creates industry and permanently disrupts the production technologies (increase in the technical composition, productivity gains, extension of the needs, decrease of the unit value of the products). One way is to use science and technique on a historically unprecedented scale, two important outcomes are the saving of labour time and the establishment of relations between all human communities which were separated by distance and by geographical barriers beforehand. Thus capitalism lays the foundations for a superior mode of production, socialism-communism.
In capitalist societies, the aim of the exploiters is to increase the value, received as a profit added to the recovery of their invested capital. The contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production consists in the opposition between the increase and socialization of the productive forces on the one hand, and the preservation of the private appropriation on the other hand. The social forms based on the previous modes of production were aimed to have the exploited workers produce use values. In these societies, crises were bred by wars or by epidemics. Capitalism generalizes the commodity, and this overturns any attempt to limit commodification in keeping it. From its birth, capitalism is distinguished by—unprecedented—overproduction crises that are due to the overaccumulation of capital, to the insufficient relation between surplus-value and capital. Economic crises allow accumulation to resume. The rate of profit raises again with the increase of exploitation facilitated by unemployment and by the devalorization and destruction of capital.
A critical consequence of the self-valorization of capital and of the unrestrained race for profit is that the only limits to capital are its own contradictions. The capitalist mode of production tends to spread to all activities all over the world. As a result, any attempt to maintain capitalism by pretending to confine it within the nation, even if it is wider than the cities or than the original States, is vain as well as reactionary. Capitalism was born in Europe in the 16th century and it has conquered the whole world since the late 19th In the early 21st century it prevails in all societies, even if former social relations live on – they are influenced, determined and modified by it (domestic labour, serfdom, slavery) – and even if outlines of future social relations appear (production cooperatives, distribution cooperatives, mutual insurance companies, “public services”, “social security”, initial free provision of Internet …). However, the generalization of capitalism cannot be done in an uniform way: capitalist development is combined but is basically unequal. The first countries having become capitalist benefit from their economic and military advance in order to rule the rest of the world. However, outside the European cradle, a feudal country succeeds in maintaining its independence and then becomes colonizer (Japan), a colony won its independence and becomes in turn conqueror (United States) … The hierarchy within capitalist powers changes over time, but most of the nations in the world are still exploited and oppressed by a handful of countries. A wide range of situations exist, from the hegemonic power to the tiny colony (Falkland Islands), and they include secondary imperialist powers, small imperialist countries, subject countries that are nevertheless regional powers, subject countries which benefit from an oil and gas rent, populated countries with no significant industry, micro-states … World wars are widespread confrontations between capitalist countries for altering the balance to their advantage. The 1st World War endorsed the shift from the British rule to the US rule, the 2nd World War saw Japan and Germany fail to rule in Asia and in Europe for challenging the US.
When capitalism reached its geographical limits, when it created big capitalist groups that are more and more related to their State, when the military conflicts for redistributing the world reach a world dimension, when capitalism has started destroying nature, it means that it has entered into historical decline. Its progressive role fades away and its reactionary features prevail. Such a historic process of transformation was carried out in the early 20th The decay of capitalism does not prevent stages of accumulation (which are a feature of capitalism as a whole), but the economic crises are deeper. The decay of capitalism does not prevent any development of the productive forces (industrialization of some “emerging countries”, incorporation of new scientific and technical progress, numerical growth of the world proletariat …). Nevertheless it wears a growing trend towards the production of destructive forces. Capital curbs some technical improvements, it guides scientific research to arms, to espionage and to finance. The annihilation of productive forces becomes ominous for humanity: capitalist crises, unending wars, waste (advertisement, luxury goods, arms …), irreversible deterioration of the environment, definite removal of a significant part of the population from the production, parasitism …
The historical decline does not interrupt the internationalization of the economy. Nevertheless, there is nothing like a unified world bourgeoisie. Intergovernmental organizations on a global scale (LoN, BIS, IMF, WB, UN, WTO …) or on a regional scale (of which the most advanced illustration is the European Union) are in the hands of the most powerful bourgeoisies and they prove unable to overcome the national borders. For instance, against the 2008-2009 economic crisis, every important national State took action for its own capitalism, for its own finance and car companies. Inter-imperialist rivalries and the common interest of imperialist bourgeoisies in the submission of the rest of the world generate unending wars. Even if the bourgeoisie globalized the markets, even if big business became transnational, it cannot overcome the national perspective because it is structurally fractured by the States that it created for exploiting and for competing. Thus, the European Union entered into crisis since the European bourgeoisies are unable to unite. Therefore, it does not have its own army that could defeat Russia, compete with China and free itself from the United States. Only the United States can try to impose their order on all the continents, even if their success is not guaranteed since the Cuban revolution and since their lost war in Vietnam. In addition, the ruling imperialism is not able to drag the other imperialist powers anymore. In 2003, France and Germany refused to invade Iraq a second time. In 2015, they did a lot to avoid a military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine. Russia tries hard to keep its sphere of influence in countering militarily the NATO and the EU in Georgia, in Moldova, in Ukraine. China becomes more and more aggressive in the South China Sea. To make themselves more visible, Russia and China tend to support each other. In Syria in 2013 they successfully challenged the United States and the Western European countries. Russia directly intervened in Syria in 2015. However, it happens that the Sino-Russian alliance is weakened by the unilateral initiatives of the more dynamic of the two, China (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, investment and project of silk highway in Kazakhstan …).
A feature of the parasitism and deterioration of declining capitalism is the intertwining between transnational big groups, secret services and mafias. Another feature is its growing financialization. The economic crises often start in the form of the burst of speculative bubbles, which leads a couple of bourgeois economists to believe that the crises are only due to finance. Financialization is not limited to the sphere of finance and to its specialized actors: banks, insurances, credit institutions, investment companies, stock markets, rating agencies … All of big business is concerned. The development of capitalist groups also gives a financial character to the capital of production and of trade: creation of joint stock companies (fictitious capital exchangeable on the financial market), loans as bonds (another form of fictitious capital that can be transferred on the same market), purchases and sales of subsidiaries by the parent company, protection against various risks through the demand of “derivatives” to banks, creation of banks within groups, speculation on the price of raw materials and on the exchange rates … In this sense, all important groups became financial at the same time they became transnational. It proves to be more and more utopian to pretend to separate “the real economy” from finance, as the fascist and the Keynesian bonesetters do.
After the destructions inflicted by the Second World War, capitalism experienced a period of unexpected growth, ant it caused the reformists and the Marxism’s revisionists to formulate explanations that award the bourgeois State the ability to avoid the capitalist crisis: Keynesianism (Labour, Social-democrats), State monopoly capitalism (Stalinists), permanent arms economy (Cliffists), neo-capitalism (Pabloites) … Yet in the 1960s, the rate of profit fell again. The 1973-1974 crisis put an end to the thirty “golden years” after the Second World War. The counter-offensive of the world bourgeoisie against the working class (in the name of the market) and against the workers’ States (in the name of democracy), the stepbacks by the working class (especially the defeat of the miners in Britain in 1985, left isolated by the Labour Party and by the TUC), the changing management (lean management, just-in-time production, use of computer science for intensifying exploitation …), the restoration of capitalism in most of the countries with collective ownership and planned economy (from the capitalist unification of Germany in 1989) opened a new period of world accumulation. The revisionists then discovered that capitalism had become “neoliberal” (as if an ideology could account for the transformations of a mode of production), “globalized” and “financialized” (as if it was new and reversible).
Once again, the 2008-2009 crisis has shown to the workers that capitalism was really unable to ensure prosperity and even a continuous growth. It also proved that the self-proclaimed liberalism of the governments was just a myth, an ideological cover for the political attack launched against social benefits (right to strike, labour law, social welfare, public services …). In a flash, Bush Jr, Merkel, Aso, Sarkozy, Brown, Medvedev, Berlusconi … turned their backs on “neoliberalism”: the national States, the governments and the central banks extensively intervened by all available means in order to save their financial and industrial groups. Thus the bourgeois State contained the amount of capital destroyed, which gave much fragility to the 2009 world recovery. Even China, less affected than the United States, Japan or Europe by the “Great Recession” also resorted to Keynesian recipes (key rate cuts, public deficit …) which prepared the next turmoil: public debt crisis in Southern Europe and, to a lesser extent, in the United States, housing bubble in China; stock market bubble in the United States, stock market crisis in China.
There should be no confusion between the definitions of imperialisms (the features of the ruling countries) and of imperialism (the character of the period of decay of the capitalist mode of production). For instance, Russia was one of the imperialist countries in 1917, despite its economic backwardness and its one-sided capital import, because it had capitalist groups (monopolies) and indeed implemented a colonization process within its borders (a “prison house of peoples”). All the more, contemporary China, which retains by force entire populations in its West side, of which some groups have entered world oligopolies, which exports capital (including taking control of foreign companies), is now imperialist. The reason is that during the second half of the 20th century, China was not a dominated country, but a workers’ State, even if degenerated. Even if it was incomplete, the revolution unified the country and allowed it to escape the imperialist rule. After the restoration of capitalism decided by the Stalinist-Maoist bureaucracy in 1992, China could join the group of the imperialist powers in a few decades, thanks to its (geographic as well as demographic) size, and to the preliminary development of the productive forces within the planned economy (infrastructure, industry, agriculture, education, health …). For example, its initial technical level, together with the size of the country, allowed an easier access to the most advanced techniques through the transfer of knowledge and through industrial joint ventures.
Even if China became an imperialist power, it is no more able to pretend replacing the United States than Japan, Germany, Russia or France are, despite the former’s decline, as shown by the collapse of Bretton Woods’ international monetary system (1971-1973) and by the defeat in Vietnam (1975). The American decline feeds both the demands of its rivals and the world instability, as exemplified by the breaking up of Ukraine, and by the arms race in East Asia and the skirmishes in South China Sea. Still, the conditions for a new world war are not met for now. Such time must be used by the world proletariat for ridding mankind of the old mode of production.
The objective conditions for the transition from capitalism to the construction of socialism-communism on the world scale have been united for long. Despite various impediments and distortions, science and technique are improving. The share of the industrial sector weakened in the imperialist centers. But, on the one hand, some activities which are classified as “services” form a real capitalist production; on the other hand, the activities of extraction, manufacture, building, transport … increased and got diversified on a world scale. If agriculture is more and more capitalist, if it has been hit by a stagnation of its yield and by the exhaustion of many fishing resources, it can easily feed humanity. The working class in no way disappeared in the old imperialist countries and it developed significantly in Latin America, in Africa and above all in Asia. By its place in the relations of production, it has the ability to transform the relations of production and to free the productive forces which suffocate within private property, profit and nation. The development of science, of technique and of the means of production may enable a society which fulfills the needs of the world population, which will be rid of private property, exploitation and national borders, which will be environment-friendly, whose economy will be placed under the control of the associate producers.
II. The bourgeoisie is no more progressive, the working class has become the only revolutionary class.
Capitalism emerged through violence on a large scale against the rest of the world: sometimes through genocide, always through plunder and frenzied exploitation. The colonization of America, of Africa and of Asia, the modern slavery that supplied raw materials for the capitalist world market, came with the rise of racism. Yet, from the 15th to the 19th century, the bourgeoisie always played a relatively progressive role, in overturning the former ruling classes, in undermining and in disrupting the previous modes of production. It opposed the monarchies, unequal rights, State religion, it trusted reason and science. But the bourgeoisie became reactionary with the onset of imperialism. Patriotism against the foreign reaction during the 16th century’s Dutch revolutions, during the 18th century’s American and French revolutions, tends to transform into its opposite in the 20th century: xenophobia and even racism (“migration policy”, apartheid, genocide …), even in the most advanced countries (France, Germany, United States, Japan …). In the 21st century, the ruling class becomes pessimistic and it is regressing to obscurantism (creationism, superstitions, technophobia, degrowth …). This does not exclude the possibility of preserving or of gaining democratic conquests, but the contemporary bourgeoisie is not its vector anymore; they rather consist of concessions that it makes under the pressure of the working class, women, national minorities, homosexuals …
The struggle for defending and enlarging democracy falls on the proletariat. But the democratic catchwords are not separated from its own demands, whether they are basic or transitory (that is which put capitalism into question). The democratic catchword for a Constituent Assembly can be useful when the bourgeoisie refuses to grant people democratic liberties (in case of colonization, of fascism …), but it must be rejected where democratic liberties have been won and where the governments are elected (as in Argentina in 2001, while all the Argentinian workers’ parties, including the PO and the PTS, proposed it) and it must be given up as soon as the bourgeoisie grants the Constituent Assembly in order to stifle the starting revolution (like in Tunisia and in Egypt in 2011). In such cases, the struggle for democracy passes through the disarmament of the repression forces and the establishment of workers’ and popular councils.
The internationalist communists advocate national rights for the national minorities that are oppressed. The proletariat of oppressive nations must fight against the tendency to keep by force oppressed nations within the borders of such States; in other words, it must fight for the right to self-determination. For instance, the Kurdish people have a fundamental right to build their State. In order to unify the Turkish and Kurdish workers, the (Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian) workers’ movement must recognize the right of the Kurds to separate. Likewise, the Palestinians have the right to fight against the Zionist colonization of their territory. Jewish nationalism turned a small minority of Jews in the world into oppressors. The Israeli State has been built on the basis of the expulsion, through terrorism, of the Palestinian population from its land by the nationalist fraction of the Jewish bourgeoisie. The Zionist movement, which has not been an outright opponent to Hitler’s racism and fascism, became hegemonic after the 2nd World War, because of the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the German imperialism. The bureaucracy of the USSR approved the foundation of Israel in 1948. American imperialism, which had refused to open its borders to the Jewish refugees, supported the Zionist project and still supports Israel. Israel often converges with American imperialism but it has its own purpose: it got equipped with the nuclear weapon, with the complicity of the French imperialism, it continues the colonial settlement in Jerusalem and of the West Bank, and it slaughters the Palestinians down to the refugee camps where they are squeezed by the neighbouring countries and, periodically, in Gaza (2006, 2008-2009, 2012, 2014). It is outrageous that, in the name of Trotskyism, the Pabloite “4th International”, the Grantist CWI, the Hardyist ICU … have adopted the UN solution: the prospect of two States in Palestine which ratifies Zionist colonization. The Pan-Arab or Islamic nationalist leaderships bet on the bourgeoisies in the region which always sacrificed the Palestinian cause, when they did not slaughter the Palestinian resistance (the Jordanian monarchy in 1970, the Syrian dictatorship in 1976). The Fatah-PLO capitulated to Israel in 1989 under the pressure of the USSR bureaucracy. The Palestinian proletariat must take a leading role in the struggle against colonization and for the national independence of Palestine, which it must tear away from the Palestinian bourgeoisie, whether it is Fatah or Hamas. The only way the Israeli proletariat can live as a class and fight against its bourgeoisie is to recognize the democratic and national rights of the Palestinian Arabs, the first of them being the right to return. The overarmed colonial State and its Bantustans (Gaza, West Bank) must leave room to a united, multi-ethnic, democratic and secular Palestine, which can live only within a Socialist Federation of Western Asia or of the Mediterranean Sea.
Indeed, internationalist communists do not advocate a growing number of tiny States doomed to being dominated by foreign powers. Moreover, the socialist-communist mode of production will delete all borders. Recognizing national rights is also a way to counter the petty bourgeois or bourgeois nationalist currents which mystify the workers and seeks to fraternize with an imperialist power. Wherever there is no more oppression, like in Scotland or in Catalonia, we need to be careful with partition. Nothing is progressive about the current dismantling of Ukraine. There is no doubt that there are national issues in Ukraine: the historical mistrust of the Ukrainians masses against Russia; the sense of being Russian in the majority of the population in Donbass and even more of in Crimea; the historical mistrust of the Tatars against Russia. But the annexation of Crimea to Russia by the secret services and by the Russian army, the secession of a part of Donbass with the support of the Russian State, the war sparked by the Ukrainian government with the help of the United States and of the fascists gangs do not result from national movements. The outrageous manipulation of national feelings by imperialist powers leads to the breakup of a small country, to increasing xenophobia, to the stifling of the class struggle, like in the breakup of Yugoslavia. All history demonstrated that imperialism does not serve people’s rights. The ruling power allows a “moderate” Islamic regime in Turkey to slaughter the Kurds; the old German and French bourgeoisies just trampled the elections in Greece and crushed the Greek people with their demands; the new Russian bourgeoisie led two wars for maintaining by force Chechenia on its territory. Against the dangerous imperialist rivalries, against the exacerbated fragmentation of the continent, the communists advocate the necessity of the Socialist United States of Europe.
The studying youth, the petty bourgeois classes (working peasants, urban independent workers, managerial workers, subordinate civil servants), the lumpen (the dropouts living from social benefits, from charity, from the underground economy …) are not able to lead the revolution by themselves. They oscillate between the two basic classes. Unemployment and misery encourage the dropouts into the parallel economy, and some of them become thieves or traffickers (self-employed or as agents of illegal capitalism). The lumpen proletariat has always been used as a reservoir for counter-revolution and fascism: most Nazi aggressors of immigrants are dropouts, and Islamic fanatics who attack Jews and artists in Europe are former delinquents. Left to their own devices, with no proletarian dictatorship, the dropouts are only capable of nihilistic destructions, of slanders, whose violence fascinates the Bakuninists and the leftists, but which open no perspective. In no way the proletariat can trust the urban petty bourgeoisie who seeks to use it as a back-up to its narrow democratic or nationalist projects; it easily abandons it to the repression of the local or imperialist bourgeoisie. Since the 1960s, thanks to the massification of secondary and higher education, the working class can attract students and stimulate their struggles (China, Germany, France, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey, Spain …). In the early 21st century, the movement of high school students in Chile, the students’ movement in Britain, the workers’ movement in Wisconsin (United States), the mobilization in Istanbul (Turkey), the popular uprisings in Africa (Tunisia 2010, Egypt 2011, Burkina Faso in 2014 …) confirm the strong possibility of an alliance between the proletariat and the studying youth. Other historical allies of the urban proletariat are the rural proletariat and the poor peasantry. But even if they wage a guerilla fight against the bourgeois army, such layers cannot substitute for the national and international struggle of the working class, unlike what Stalinists of the Bakuninist-populist variant pretended: Mao, Ho, Guevara, followed by Trotskyism’s revisionists (Pabloites, Healyites …). This strategy is not workable in the central countries of world capitalism, where the latter must be consciously overthrown by the working class. At best, it led to revolutions that kept limited to backward countries (Yugoslavia, China, Vietnam, Cuba …) because the proletariat never exercised power, since it was monopolized by a usurping, privileged and finally restorationist bureaucracy. Moreover, the Chinese revolution could not have succeeded without the proximity and the help of the neighbouring workers’ State, the Cuban revolution could not have succeeded without the logistic support of the urban workers’ movement and without the general strike. For half a century, the Castroist experience (in Zaïre, in Bolivia, in Nicaragua, in Colombia …) and the Maoist failures (in Peru, in India, in Nepal, in Philippines …) have shown that the foco or the encircling of the cities by the countryside is a strategic deadlock. As a matter of fact, most of the currents supporting the guerilla method turned into “reformist parties”, sometimes into bourgeois politicians.
The Popular Front, the Anti-Imperialist United Front, as well as all the “left” blocks which include a fraction of the capitalists (supposed to be democratic or anti-capitalist) keep or restore the hegemony of the whole bourgeoisie over the exploited and the semi-exploited. This is even more evident of the chit-chat, useless in terms of practical perspective, by the World Social Forum, which was launched in 2001 by Brazil’s PT and the Catholic Church, with the support of the Cuban bureaucracy and of most centrists (USFI, IST, L5I, CWI, IWL, IWU, LWM, TFFI …). A workers’ and peasant alliance, a workers’ and popular block can only be progressive under the hegemony of the working class, which requires that the latter has its own revolutionary and internationalist party. In order to succeed the working class must rally support from the other workers (intermediary layers, training workers), tear them from the rule of the capitalist class, which has a small size. It must paralyze the forces of suppression. This can be done only if the conscripts, in the countries where military service still exists, are organized as workers under uniform by the party and by the union that are struggling for their democratic rights against the staff. This can be done only if the workers’ movement cautions against the repressive State apparatus (while the reformist and the centrists claim that it must be trusted) and uses every opportunity so that the workers and the students defend themselves against it. There is no way that the communists consider the police as consisting of workers like any other workers (as all Social-democrats, most Stalinists and some centrists pretend), even less that they request its strengthening (as Lutte ouvrière did). The intermediary classes must feel the will of the waged workers to fight the capitalist minority through the whole course.
For this we need a program, a strategy, a party. In defending itself against the capitalists, in leading all the exploited and all the oppressed, the proletariat cannot stop in its path. On pain of defeat, even of counter-revolutions, it must lead the struggle until social revolution (destruction of the bourgeois State, expropriation of big business, workers’ government …). The dictatorship of the proletariat, that is workers’ power, must extend the revolution, on pain of being fettered by isolation or of being immediately crushed. This is why the proletarian revolution is, in contrast to the previous bourgeois revolutions, prolonged, radical and international: it is a “permanent revolution”. The 19th century distinction between the “minimum program”, for strengthening the proletariat in ascending capitalism, and the “maximum program”, for taking the power when it will be strong enough, is now void. The revolution is called socialist or communist, not because it immediately initiates the new mode of production, especially when it is victorious in a backward country, but because it puts an end to capitalism in some part of the world with the destruction of the bourgeois State and with the expropriation of expropriators, because it opens the way then to the socialist-communist mode of production, to the society of free and associate producers. In order to reach socialism-communism, the revolution must be extended to develop the productive forces, to transfer the management of the economy to the producers, to free up time for this …
Even in countries where no democratic revolution took place, the “progressive” bourgeoisie or the “national” bourgeoisie, in decisive moments, tends to prefer being submitted to foreign powers and to get allied with the archaic priests and exploiters rather than running the risk of a social revolution that inevitably includes the mobilization of the exploited classes in the capitalist society. Even if the “anti-imperialist united front” was considered by the Communist International during its 1st and 3rd congresses in order to unite a weak proletariat (whose party should nevertheless remain independent) to the emerging national bourgeoisie, it is inapplicable, as the tragic experiences in Turkey and in China in the 1920s have shown. The strategy of “revolution in stages” endorsed by the 2nd International (a democratic revolution leaving the way to an extended development of capitalism in order to prepare the objective conditions for the future social revolution) is out of date in the imperialist era, while the Stalinized Communist International revives it and then extends it to the bourgeois democracies in the form of the Popular front. Even in backward countries, only the strategy of the permanent revolution can achieve victory.
The former social upsets were led by classes that were themselves exploiting classes. For the first time the proletariat opens the way towards a classless society. While the bourgeoisie fought for strengthening itself, the historic mission of the working class is to dissolve during the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism. For the waged workers, who form the majority, its overthrow is necessary to put an end with the exploitation, job insecurity, poverty, alienation they experience. For the working women, its overthrow is necessary for putting an end with the double working day (waged and domestic labour). During the revolutionary fight, racial and sexual prejudices are lessened. During the construction of socialism, when workers will alternately occupy a coordination position, will all receive a correct compensation of their individual contribution to the social production, when this labour will be more fulfilling, the job and income discrimination between men and women, between Blacks and Whites … will fade away. Socialism-communism will provide material security, the end of the division of labour, the free development of all, of richer relationships with other human beings.
Until the imperialist turn, it might have been possible that a proletarian revolution starts peacefully, because of both the increase in the number of the waged workers and the weakness of the State’s bureaucracy in the Netherlands, in Britain, in the United States … Even in these countries, it was likely that the capitalist minority would revolt against the power of the majority and that the workers should crush it. In any case, for a century, the most democratic capitalist States have displayed a spectacular strengthening, especially in its civilian technocratic apparatus (senior officials, senior magistrates …) and its repressive one (criminal justice, prisons, police, army, secret services …). This invalidates all the dangerous parliamentarist and pacifist illusions spread by Social-democrats, by Stalinists and by centrists (especially the centrists of the CWI and the IMT). Revolution necessarily passes through the neutralization and the dismantling of the bourgeois State, and this requires a form of democracy which is higher than bourgeois democracy: the armament of people and the emergence of councils, bodies of both workers’ united front and class alliances, bodies of dual power defying the bourgeois State and administering the workers’ State, in order to go to socialism-communism (commune de Paris, soviets, arbeiter und soldatenräte, munkás tanács, assembleas populares, cordones, shoras …).
Against the real or imaginary danger of the proletarian revolution, fractions of the bourgeoisie bet, as soon as the 19th century, on military leaders (Bonapartism) who momentarily take over the effective control of its own State. Besides, in the early 20th century, since the world revolution started in Russia, the bourgeoisies did not mind going further in abdication and reaction in resorting to extra-State counter-revolutionary gangs led by adventurers (fascism). Fascism is the mobilization of dropouts and of fanatic petty bourgeois against the workers’ movement, against democracy and against ethnic and religious minorities. It only pretends to get to power, always with the help of the State’s repressive apparatus, when a fraction of the bourgeoisie bets on it, either because it has no means for democracy, or because it judges that elections, parliamentarism, reformism, popular fronts are not useful anymore. Fascism must not be confused with the xenophobic bourgeois parties with which it shares chauvinism and racism, but which remain on the realm of bourgeois democracy (LN, UKIP, FN, Tea Party …). Since the late 20th century, some fractions of the bourgeoisie turned the main religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism …) into religious fundamentalism, that is, in reactionary, even fascist, political trends. Islamism was first used as a back-up by imperialism (in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan …), but it slipped from its promoters’ control in Iran (Islamic Republic), in Afghanistan (Talibans), in Iraq and in Syria (Islamic State-Daesh), in Palestine (Hamas), in Nigeria and in Cameroon (Boko Haram) … Totalitarianism and barbarism deepen at every further Islamist wave. The counter-revolutionary success of Islamism does not only rely on the propaganda and on the subsidies by the Islamist monarchies of the Gulf, of governments that have never been questioned by the American, French or British imperialisms. It also can be explained by the role played by religion in the popular resistance to colonialism, by the Stalinist transformation of regional communist parties into appendages of the national bourgeoisie, by the previous failure of the bourgeois pan-Arab socialism (Nasserism, Baath, FLN, PLO, Jamahiriya …) and by the clerical concessions of tyrants approaching to an end (Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Bouteflika …).
Against fascism that threatens all the proletariat’s conquests, which targets all the workers’ organizations, workers must join their forces, achieve a united front of their organizations to crush the thugs. They reject no help for fighting against the fascist danger, but they cannot call for help neither “democratic” or “republican” fractions of the bourgeoisie which paralyze them without protecting them, nor the State apparatus of which a fraction informs, protects, trains and arms the fascist shock troops. The indifference to the fascist danger and the division of the workers’ ranks lead to its victory, as in Italy in 1922 and in Germany in 1933; likewise, the Popular front prepares the defeat through disorientation, division, demoralization of the workers and of the poor peasants, as in Spain in 1937 and in Chile in 1973. In order to crush fascism, it is necessary to organize workers’ militia, the defense of strikes, demonstrations, premises, popular districts, to mobilize the exploited and the oppressed, which necessarily leads to question private property. In order to definitely eradicate fascism, one must put an end to capitalism.
In case of a conflict between dominated countries (including countries led by a Bonapartist or by a fascist regime) and one or several imperialist powers (including the most democratic ones), or in case of an attack of a pro-imperialist fraction of the local bourgeoisie against a nationalist fraction (recently Venezuela, currently Brazil …) the proletariat is not neutral. To deliver real blows to world imperialism, which goes through the overthrow of its own bourgeoisie, it is necessary to remind the masses the narrow limits of the anti-imperialist attempts of the bourgeoisies of the dominated countries, without abdicating its independence and in contending against it the leadership within the oppressed. In no way the communists call to imperialist intervention, under humanitarian pretexts, even if it is under guise of the UN (as the Pabloite FI systematically does since the break-up of Yugoslavia).
While fascism is aggressively imperialist in capitalist centers, Bonapartism and fascism in dominated countries are obliged to propose an anti-imperialist colour in order to get a mass base. Even in cases when bourgeois nationalists are chattering on “socialism”, the proletariat must keep its independence. In other words, the support by the Morenoite Argentinian “Trotskyists” to the justicialist movement of Colonel Peron, the subordination of the Lambertist “Trotskyists” to the Algerian MNA, the participation of the Pabloite “Trotskyists” to Ben Bella’s Algerian government, the support by the Healyst “Trotskyists” to the regime of the Libyan Colonel Gaddafi and to the Iraqi regime of Hussein, the involvement of the South-African Grantist “Trotskyists” in the ANC, the rallying of the Mexican Lambertist and Pabloite “Trotskyists” to the PRD, the activity of the Greek Grantist “Trotskyists” in the PASOK, the foundation by the Cliffist and Grantist “Trotskyists” of the Scottish independentist SSP, the activism of the Cliffist “Troskyists” in the Zimbabwean MDC, the adhesion of the Grantist Venezuelan “Trotskyists” to Colonel Chavez’s Bolivarian movement, are not better than the Stalinist support to the regime of the Egyptian Colonel Nasser or to the Baath’s regimes in Syria and in Iraq. Moreover, any support to the clerical counter-revolution is criminal, as well as any support by the Stalinists, by the Barnists and by the Healyites to the Iranian ayatollahs, by the Lambertists to the Algerian FIS, by the Stalinists and the Pabloites to the Lebanese Hezbollah, by the Cliffists to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood …
III. Political struggle does not oppose the left to the right but classes, the proletariat can constitute itself as a class only through its organization
Even if bourgeois parties have a popular basis, or even control labour unions (Argentina, United States …), they never can be identified with the parties created by the working class, be they with a “reformist” (that is, bourgeois) programme, contrarily to the confusion frequently fostered by the Morenoite, Lambertist, Grantist “Trotskyists” … Blocs with representatives of the bourgeoisie and bourgeois workers’ parties often present themselves under the confused label of “the left”. Nobody can define “the left” and “the right”, nor what distinguishes them; nevertheless, this myth has an ideological and political function: the opposition between “the left” and “the right” hides the struggle between classes and aims at submitting politically workers to bourgeois politicians and parties. Accordingly, Marxists resort to the terms “left”, “right”, “centre” only in a descriptive way: either to indicate an evolution, a progress or a regression, or to distinguish tendencies, fractions inside the same organization, the wings of a class movement. The agencies of the bourgeoisie inside the working class (labourism, degenerate social-democracy, Stalinism, reformist trade unionism) and their centrist deputies have made from the false contradiction between “the left” and “the right” one of their themes of predilection. In the United States, the social-democrats (DSA) build the “left” bourgeois party, the Democratic Party (DP); the main wreckage of Stalinism (CPUSA) calls to vote for the candidates of the DP at all levels; during the 2015 presidential election, the pseudo-Trotskyists of Socialist Alternative (affiliated to the CWI) support another candidate of “the left”, the one of the Green Party. In Argentina, organizations that appeal to Lenin and Trotsky (IS, PO and PTS) have even called their 2011 electoral bloc “Frente de izquierda”, the same name as the small French popular front constituted in 2009 in France by the PCF with scissions of the PS or of the NPA and bourgeois debris. As this polarization is versatile and impotent, it is declined on a world scale in variants that remain as empirical and disappointing: “the far right”, “the right of the right”, “the hard right”, “the republican right”, “the centre”, “the old left”, “the new left”, “the far left”, “the liberal left”, “the hard left”, “the soft left”, “the radical left”, “the government left”, “the extra-parliamentary left”, “the left of the left”… The NPA, the SEP, the SL … use an involuntarily comical term: “the false left”. To distinguish “the true left” from “the false left”, it is like looking for true astrologers and true fortune-tellers. The Communist League asserts as early as 1848 that the key to history is class struggle, the struggle between classes.
The capitalist relation implies capital on the one hand, wage labour on the other hand. In societies dominated by the capitalist mode of production, the two fundamental classes are the bourgeoisie and the working class. But their position is by nature unequal. The bourgeoisie is exploiter, which confers it privileges in terms of satisfaction of needs, time for leisure, access to culture (which does not make, far from it, of all its members erudite and cultured people). Capitalism tends to reproduce itself spontaneously, in an economic way, by simple and enlarged reproduction of capital (and of the labour force). Its superiority was already established economically and ideologically in the declining feudal societies or colonies when it led democratic revolutions in Netherlands, Great Britain, United States, France, Italy … Today, its political representation and the management of its collective interests require only secondarily the political parties, whose diversity reflects the traditions, the economic splitting and the complexity of the relations with subordinate classes and with capitalist classes in the rest of the world. Its main social tools are the State and ideology.
On the contrary, workers constitute an exploited, but also dominated, class. First, alienation, fetishism and reification result from specificities of the capitalist mode of production (the need for money, the satisfaction of needs by commodities, the apparent equality of exchangers on the “labour market”, the wage as “price of labour”, the absence of control on production and on products …). Then workers suffer a lack of free time (since it is their overwork that secures plus-value), of health problems (strain, psychological tension, physical wear, occupational diseases, work-related and commuting accidents), of job insecurity (necessity to sell one’s labour force in order to live, unemployment). For the majority of workers, labour and transportation time are in addition to domestic work that ensures the free reproduction of the labour force (as parents and foremost as women). Fractions face discriminations as a woman (underrated trades, inferior wage, sexual harassment …), as a young person, as a foreigner, as a member of an ethnical minority or of a religious minority, as a homosexual … which, beside the additional oppression that presses on the concerned individuals, can divide and weaken the class. Lastly, one must reckon with the deliberate action of the capitalist class: on the one hand, the immigration policy, the coercion at workplace (by the small boss or the hierarchical supervision of the medium and big capital), the intimidation and repression by the repressive apparatus of the State, by the fascist gangs; on the other hand, the inculcation of the dominant ideology by the media (television, press, social networks …), the priests, the patriarchal family, the school system, the conscript army … The dominant ideology takes on different contents, sometimes contradicting each other: nationalism, religion, parliamentarism (of which the false opposition between “left” and “right”), statism, liberalism, individual competition …
The collective struggles, the cooperation at work, the community of existence at workplace or at home, the shared leisures, the humiliations suffered, the spectacle of luxury at the other pole of society generate counter-tendencies: solidarity between workers, revolt against existing order, class hatred … Contrary to the dominant class, wage workers and their families are nothing without the organizations that they build up to ensure their solidarity, to develop their culture and to resist the boss and the bourgeois State. The labour movement does not reduce itself to trade unions, contrarily to what anarchists and bourgeois nationalists pretend: it regroups mutual insurance companies, cooperatives, workers’ unions, parties of workers’ origin and, during revolutionary upsurge, militias and councils … In order for the proletariat to accomplish its historical tasks, while it is a subordinate and exploited class, it must have at its disposal its party, distinct from all other parties, as it was shown in practice as soon as 1838 by Chartism in Britain and as it was clearly asserted by the resolution of 1872 of the IWA (1st International). The party is the supreme form of self-organization of the exploited. Without experienced revolutionary party intervening in their midst, the other types of organization (trade unions, councils) are weakened and often impotent. Communists constitute the current of the labour movement that expresses consciously at every moment the general interests of workers, that defends the programme of revolution and internationalism.
IV. The proletarian revolution is worldwide, the party of the proletariat is international
Unlike political parties of the bourgeoisie that remain national, even when they claim the contrary (Christian democracy, pan-Arabism, Islamism …), the workers’ party has a worldwide vocation, even if workers are not all internationalists, nor supporters of a party opposed to all bourgeois parties. Proletarian internationalism flows from the objective situation of the proletariat (millions of wage workers migrate, workers of multiple nationalities are exploited by each big capitalist group, workers in struggle run into the national bourgeois State) and of its tasks (demand struggles are curbed by national divisions, it is impossible to build socialism-communism at a national scale). Communists defend the right for workers and students to move freely in the whole world and to live in the country of their choice, contrarily to the labour bureaucracies and to the centrists (Grantists, Lambertists, Robertsonists, Hardyists …). Even in the epoch of ascending capitalism, the great revolutionary leaders have always worked with an international view, sometimes in an informal framework (innumerable international correspondences, multiple international meetings), sometimes in a formal one (CCC, CL, IWA for Marx and Engels; WI for Engels after the death of Marx). In the imperialist epoch, their successors have always been members of an international organization: WI (2nd International) for Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky (Lenin and Luxemburg participating even to the International Socialist Bureau of the WI); movement of Zimmerwald and CI (3rd International) for Lenin and Trotsky; ILO-CI and FI (4th International) for Trotsky.
The Communist League founded in 1847 is international and openly revolutionary, but it is small-sized. The International Workingmen’s Association founded in 1864 (called 1st International) is a front of the whole labour movement where communism shows its superiority and has a mass echo in Europe. The Workers’ International founded in 1889 (called 2nd International) provides an international framework, under Marxist hegemony, to socialist parties of Europe, America, Asia. The International rests on the successes of the German SPD (500 000 electors as soon as 1877, 2 million in 1898) and its theoretical influence, to which Engels, and then Kautsky, contribute. In building on the WI, workers have, within capitalist society, created parties that represent them in parliament, mass trade unions that defend them at the place of exploitation, publications that inform them and educate them (dailies, magazines …) and associations of all kinds (cultural, sporting, women’s …). The WI is the center of gravity of the labour movement. The Russian RSDLP constitutes itself from the start as a section of the International, in order to build a party inspired by the SPD but adapted to tsarist despotism. Its revolutionary (Bolshevik) wing definitively separates itself from its opportunist (Menshevik) wing in 1912. As soon as the SDKP appears, it fights to be able to participate to the International that comprises already a more important Polish party, the PSP. The PS-SFIO is born from the merger of all socialist French groups under the impulse of the International. The British Labour Party (LP) asks its affiliation and it is admitted despite its bourgeois programme, because it is created by trade unions and in a break from the Liberal Party. Stand away only a handful of workers’ parties (the anarchist SDB of the Netherlands, the racist ALP of Australia …); the anarchist trade unions (the North American and Australian IWW, the French CGT, the Spanish CNT …) that distrust electoralism; the corporatist trade unions (of which the American AFL); the clericalist trade unions (such as the German GCG, the Belgian CSC-ACV, The Italian CISCL). If the WI is openly Marxist, some sections are reluctant or hostile to it (PS-SFIO, RSP of Russia, PSP of Poland …). But this period of ceaseless progresses of the labour movement has also its reverse, the underground conquest of its leaderships by the imperialist bourgeoisie. Little by little, the apparatuses of the mass organizations of imperialist countries (constituted of permanent agents, journalists, representatives …), resting on the labour aristocracy, transform themselves into bureaucracies influenced by their bourgeoisie and linked to their State. This phenomenon refracts itself through political debates inside the International: around the reformist and pacifist “revisionism” of Bernstein (1897), the participation of the French “socialist” Millerand to a bourgeois government (1900), the colonial question (1900), the war threat (1905, 1907, 1910, 1912). On this occasion a division of the labour movement sketches itself into three distinct currents: the opportunist and chauvinist wing, the revolutionary and internationalist wing, an intermediate center that tries to conciliate both.
With the opening of the World War 1 in 1914, the 2nd International goes bankrupt. The labour movement splits in an irreversible way, for the main workers’ parties (SPD, SDAP, PS-SFIO, LP, POB …) and the leaderships of the main trade unions rally to their own bourgeoisie to send male workers of town and country to exterminate each other. The working class and other workers pay dearly on the front and at the back. With the war, the bureaucracies no longer respect workers’ democracy that they tolerated until then. They shamelessly rest on the State, on the bourgeois media, the military tribunals, censorship, to slander and muzzle their opponents in the labour movement: individuals, fractions and organizations that stay faithful to internationalism, to social revolution, to the proletariat. For internationalism never dies. Facing the catastrophe, the first resting point of the European and world working class is that a handful of small workers’ parties, formed in the framework of proletarian internationalism and the Workers’ International, oppose themselves as soon as August 1914 to the sacred union (including in warring countries: Serbia, Russia, Poland, Ireland …). The second one is that one of these parties, the best rooted one, the Bolshevik RSDLP, will take the lead, starting from September 1914, of the struggle for a new international and new parties, demarcated from social-chauvinists and centrists. The end of the war sees the opportunist wing consecrating the split of the international labour movement: during the permanent revolution generated by the war, opportunists will exert themselves to save their bourgeoisie, even though by participating to the counter-revolution with the Army staff (KDP-SRP-MP government and “days of July” 1917 in Russia, SPD-USPD government and crushing of the premature “Spartacist revolution” of January 1919 in Germany …).
Nevertheless, the revolution is victorious in Russia and it gives power to the soviets thanks to the uprising of October 1917, launched after the Bolshevik Party conquered the majority in the soviets. The revolutionary impulse is considerable in the whole world, including in colonies and semi-colonies, little affected by the old Workers’ International. The Russian, Hungarian and German revolution puts an end to the war. The perspective of a new international takes shape with the foundation congress of the Communist International (called 3rd International) in 1919. The CI blends, to the internationalists of the old Marxist international, the best of anarcho-syndicalism, of anticolonialism and feminism. It aims at constructing revolutionary workers’ parties in all countries, at the cost of trial and error in the leadership of sections and of the International itself. For the first time, workers’ parties struggle against European and Japanese colonialism, against the oppression of Blacks in the United States … Under the impulse of Lenin and Trotsky, the Communist International takes into account setbacks of the proletarian revolution in Europe caused by the absence of a communist party or by its inexperience, the temporary stabilization of capitalism, the reconstruction of a “2nd International” and the appearance of a centrist international. Against leftists, the 3rd International requires from communist parties the patient work in mass trade unions, the participation to bourgeois elections, tactics of united front directed towards reformist leaderships to demarcate them through action and not only by propaganda. The denomination “reformists” does not mean that these petty-bourgeois parties and these corrupted trade union bureaucracies effectively make reforms, as the Lambertist current pretends, but that these traditional leaderships of the working class betray while hiding behind the objective of limited reforms, compatible with capitalism and hardly different from what bourgeois parties can grant.
But before new parties of the Bolshevik type are forged, the old transforms itself into its contrary. The isolation of soviet power and the destructions brought about by inter-imperialist war, foreign interventions, civil war, the low economic and cultural level of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Caucasus empty the soviets, lead to the single party as a matter of fact, deform the workers’ State, constitute a bureaucracy of the State that emancipates itself of the control of the revolutionary party. The defeat of the Left Opposition of the Communist Party of the USSR (1924), then of the Unified Opposition (1927) are the product of a political counter-revolution that, while temporarily preserving some economic and social attainments of October (collective property of the main means of production, monopoly on foreign trade …), gives power to the privileged layer of officials of the workers’ State. The latter controls henceforth the party that becomes its cover, invents the anti-Marxist ideology of “socialism in a single country”, brutally collectivizes agriculture (1929) and establishes in the degenerated workers’ State a totalitarian regime (1934) that is exerted in the name of proletariat. The majority of the old Bolshevik leaders are slandered, imprisoned, tortured and assassinated.
V. The bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR has created a crisis of leadership of the world proletariat, the restoration of capitalism in Russia and in China have aggravated it
With the 1920s political counter-revolution in the USSR, the bureaucratization of the international labour movement attains an unprecedented dimension. The labourist and social-democratic bureaucracies are now supplemented with the “communist” bureaucracies, capped by that of the USSR heading a State. All are organs of the world bourgeoisie inside organizations arising from the fight of the working class (trade unions, workers’ parties, workers’ State). The bureaucracy of the USSR succeeds in containing revolution in the West of Europe and in crushing it in the East. To resist the persistent and multiform American threat, it is left with the arms race that it is doomed to lose and which exhausts the planned economy. So, after having repressed the workers’ revolt of 1953, it confines the German population by the Berlin and GDR wall. The behaviour of the “Red Army” in Germany (1944-1946); the crushing of German workers and youth (1953), of the Hungarian (1956), Czechoslovak (1968), Polish (1971), Chinese (1967-1969, 1989) ones by the Stalinist regimes; the emptying of towns (1975) and the enslaving of the population of Cambodia by the KCP of Pol Pot (1975-1979) reinforce the dominant ideology, prevent the workers to take power in the countries where capital has been expropriated and thus definitively undermine the workers’ State. The bureaucracy of the degenerated workers’ State fights also the proletarian revolution in the capitalist world, for the latter would lead to the political revolution in the USSR and to its violent liquidation by the workers of the USSR.
After having divided the German proletariat in face of the fascist threat with the leftist line of the “social-fascism” that leads to the defeat without a fight of the most powerful proletariat in Europe (1933), Stalinism destroys the Communist International as a revolutionary organization. Its sections are subordinated to the bourgeoisie, first in dominated countries in the name of the “united-anti-imperialist front”, then in imperialist countries themselves in the name of the “popular front”. Stalinism plays a crucial role against proletarian revolution in Europe (1936), in Spain (1936-1938), in Italy (1943-1945), in Greece (1944-1945), in France (1944-1945), in Vietnam (1945) … After the death of Stalin, Stalinism continues to prevent revolution in capitalist countries, undermining so the workers’ States: in 1968, the PCF saves De Gaulle and the 5th Republic against the movement of youth and the general strike; in 1973, the PCCh helps the PS to block the Chilean revolution, relies on the army led by Pinochet ; in 1973, the KKE condemns the uprising of youth against the dictatorship of the colonels, in 1989, it participates to the Greek bourgeois government led by the ND; in 1974-75, the PCP, in face of the revolution of Portuguese soldiers and workers, attempts to subordinate it to the military junta; in 1975, the PCE, as the PSOE, prevents revolution and supports the establishment of the Francoist monarchy; since 1977, the PCIM manages loyally Bengal within India; in 1994, the SACP curbs the Black masses and enters South African bourgeois government led by the ANC; in 2006, the PCUN-M stops the Nepalese guerilla at the doors of Katmandu and enters national union government …
In absence of a social revolution in advanced countries and of a political revolution in the degenerated workers’ States, the restoration of capitalism becomes ineluctable. Becoming increasingly the organ of the world bourgeoisie, the bureaucracy decided in several countries to attempt to change into capitalists thanks to the plundering of the collective property and, at the other pole, to turn the labour power into a commodity delivered to—national or foreign— If a fraction of the bureaucracy had then opposed to the restoration and had appealed to workers, one should have supported it while building organs of workers’ power (soviets) and a revolutionary workers’ party. But, in the GDR and the USSR, there was nothing like that, even if the Robertsonist ICL-FI attempted to persuade the Stasi to behave in that way, then magnified a pitiable coup by a fraction of the KGB and the Army staff, led without appeal to the masses, without will to prevent the return of capitalism and hence doomed to failure. The capitalist reunification of Germany in 1989, the break-up of the USSR in 1991, the restoration of capitalism in China and in Russia in 1992 constituted historical defeats for the proletariats involved, but also for the world proletariat. New bourgeoisies were born of the variable conjunction of former bureaucrats having plundered collective property, of enriched Mafiosi, of capitalists from the diaspora. The West-European imperialist groups took hold of the jewels of the industry of small East-European countries. The world bourgeoisie got access to new natural resources, obtained new avenues, exploited a well educated labour force that was often bereft of rights. It has triumphed ideologically and politically by thinking it had repelled the ghost of communism. The Western bourgeoisies have attempted to submit more tightly the bourgeoisies of dominated countries that had used the workers’ States to loosen the imperialist grip.
The labour bureaucracies did not disappear even so. New trade unions even appeared since late 20th century (in the United States, in France, in Germany …), and also new bourgeois workers’ parties: PT in Brazil (constituted during a period of class struggle by the trade unions but under the influence of the Catholic Church, joined by all centrisms), LP in the United States (from a few trade unions and with the help of centrists, stillborn), PRC (Stalinist split, joined by the centrists), SLP in Great Britain (from a trade union, stillborn), DL in Germany (merger of a social-democratic split and the Stalinists, joined by the centrists), PdG in France (socialist split), Syriza in Greece (merger of Stalinists and centrists) … On the one hand, no mass revolutionary workers’ party has unmasked and weakened “reformism”, for the 4th International has disappeared. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie accepts to pay the costs of it in order to divide and contain the working class. For the bourgeoisie, dispensing with domesticated trade unions and bourgeois workers’ parties needs either getting round labour organizations by Bonapartism, or destructing them by fascism. These solutions are themselves risky.
Stalinism collapsed as an international apparatus resting on State bureaucracies (in Russia and to a lesser extent in China and in Cuba). Its legacy (statism, socialism in a single country, subordination to a fraction of the bourgeoisie, chauvinism, physical violence within the labour movement, cult of the leader …) still weighs heavily. Remnants of Stalinism go on with their counter-revolutionary role within trade unions and as parties … In Central Europe and in Germany, reconverted Stalinism established new bourgeois workers’ parties. Most often, nothing differentiates anymore former Stalinist parties from traditional (born Marxist) social-democracy, which itself does no more differentiate itself from (never Marxist) labourist parties since half a century. Most former Stalinist parties do not avail themselves to socialism anymore. One exception is the KKE that returned to the adoration of Stalin and resumed in Greece its sectarian policy that allowed the victory of Hitler. Sometimes, Stalinism engendered new bourgeois parties: liberal (in the political sense) ones as the PD in Italy, nationalist ones as the KPRF in Russia, despotic ones as the CCP in China. Traditional reformism, and defrocked Stalinists participate to capitalist governments with bourgeois parties (PCF in France in 1997, PRC in Italy in 2006, PCCh in Chili in 2014 …). Trade union bureaucracies negotiate attacks against jobs, wages, working time or retirement pensions, sabotage struggles by isolating them in a single business, enterprise, by calling to symbolic “days of action” with the support of reformist parties and centrist organizations. Often trade union leaders divert discontent against what is foreign (the WTO, the European Commission, the Mexican lorry-driver, the Polish plumber …). In these circumstances, the working class has less illusions towards reformists of any origin than in the 20th century, even if it keeps voting for them and joining trade unions. In the absence of a revolutionary workers’ party, reformism rises again from its ashes when it has been away from power for a while or by using new labels to keep fooling the expectations of the working class and youth. The crisis of leadership is not solved.
Nobody can assert that world revolution would have triumphed if the Bolshevik-Leninist International (4th International), created in 1938 to solve the crisis of leadership engendered by the changeover to counter-revolution of the 2nd and the 3rd Internationals, had attained it, had succeeded in building mass parties. What is certain is that its destruction weighed heavily in the continuation of betrayals by social-democracy and by Stalinism, in the survival of the parasitic bureaucracies in the workers’ States, in the hegemony of bourgeois nationalism in the dominated countries, in the domination by bourgeois democrats and by the clergies in the last wave of popular revolts in Eastern Europe, in the ease of capitalist restoration. The red thread of continuity has been broken.
In 1939, a tiny group animated by Barta deserts the French section, the POI, and the 4th International without any political divergence. Within the American section, the SWP, the first revisionist and liquidator wave, which refuses in 1939-40 to defend the USSR and questions its nature as a workers’ State, was theoretically and politically fought by a fraction led by Leon Trotsky and James Cannon. The 4th International is victim during the war of joint repression by imperialist democracies, fascist regimes and the Stalinist bureaucracy. The war separates sections that experience opportunist (France, United States …) or sectarian (Greece …) deviations. But they are still limited or corrected. The International Secretariat transferred to New York and the European Secretariat clandestinely constituted in Paris converge despite the absence of relations. The 1946 conference, oriented by the American section (SWP led by Cannon) and by the new International Secretariat (Pablo, Frank, Mandel …), strives to maintain the course fixed by Trotsky. However, the 1948 congress persists in believing that there is still an economic crisis and that the situation remains revolutionary. It brushes aside the warnings of the majority of the British section (RCP led by Haston), supported by the delegation of an Argentinian group (POR led by Moreno). The disarray facing the beginning of a new period of accumulation and the apparent triumph of Stalinism that overthrows capitalism in Eastern Europe and in the Far East leads it to more serious deviations of orientation. From 1948 to 1951, the IS, with the support of the SWP, capitulates in front of Stalinism (first Tito version, then Mao version) and of bourgeois nationalism in Latin America. The objective processes accomplish the tasks of revolution, it suffices to bring pressure on those at the head of the movement in order for them to go the furthest possible. The programme is moreover revised in the 1951 congress in order to return to two obsolete strategies: the reform of the USSR of which a fraction of the bureaucracy is entrusted, the anti-imperialist united front with the national bourgeoisie.
But a communist organization does not let itself be destroyed easily. It is then possible to save the FI by a bitter struggle within itself waged by a centralized and determined fraction. The majority of the French PCI (led by Bleibtreu) and of the Swiss section dispute the capitulation in front of Stalinism as soon as 1951, the PCI is excluded in 1952 by the IS, the majority of the American section (under the impulse of Cannon) and of the British section (led then by Healy) break with the IS in 1953. An international fraction is proclaimed by the SWP and by the PCI in 1953: the International Committee of the 4th International, joined later on by the Chinese section in exile, the RCP led by Peng, and the Argentinian POR led by Moreno. But the ICFI does not turn back on the adoption of the anti-imperialist united front that restores the strategy of revolution by stages and opens the way to all opportunisms towards nationalists of dominated countries; it asserts explicitly federalism that allows each member section to sink into the same opportunism as the Pabloite ISFI. So, the POR adapts itself to Argentinian nationalism, the Club to British labourism, the SWP to the pro-imperialist wing of American Stalinism, the PCI to Algerian nationalism … The ICFI is moribund, for instance, it says nothing of the 1956 workers’ revolution in Hungary. It is finished off in 1963 by the split of the SWP (led by Hansen) and of the Argentinian PO (led by Moreno). The SWP and PO converge into Castroism and guerrillaism with the ISFI (of Mandel and Maitan): they form together the USFI.
The tendency towards liquidation inherent to the ISFI of Pablo-Mandel-Hansen engenders multiple variants around the JCR-LC-LCR-NPA of France that aligns itself on Stalinism and on all fashions of the petty bourgeoisie, of the Morenoite PRT-PST-MAS of Argentina that aligns itself on petty-bourgeois and bourgeois nationalism of dominated countries, of the Barnite SWP of the United States that aligns itself on the Cuban bureaucracy and repudiates openly Trotsky … The paralysis and the split of the “orthodox” ICFI lead to a bursting of equivalent opportunisms around the Healyite SLL-WRP of Britain that oscillates between adaptation to labourism and to pan-Arabic nationalism, of the Lambertist OCI-PCI-PT-POI of France that adapts itself to European social-democracy and to cold war trade unionism, of the Robertsonist SL of the United States that adapts itself to Stalinism at the moment when it collapses, of the Loraite POR of Bolivia that adapts itself to nationalism of its own country … The political destruction of the 4th International gives even a chance of survival to anterior splits that would have been anecdotal: VO-LO of Hardy in France that keeps all the defects of Barta while adapting itself to Stalinism; IS-SWP of Cliff in Britain that has its origin in the refusal to defend the Chinese revolution in the middle of the Korean War; Militant of Grant in Britain that adapts itself to labourism and to nationalism of dominated countries …
In default of a 4th International, the revolutionary wave of the 1960s-1970s benefits some epigones of Trotskyism: the SWP leads the movement against the Vietnam War in the United States, the LC successfully presents Krivine to the 1969 presidential election in France, the LCR and the WRP publish a daily respectively in France and in Britain, the OCI takes the leadership of the French students’ union UNEF, the PST attracts 14 000 members in Argentina, Militant controls the Youth of the Labour Party and the mayoralty of Liverpool that defies Thatcher, the SWP leads the movement against the Iraq War in Britain … The revolutionary rise also pushes the revisionists to radicalize their language and their references: during the 1970s, the LC-LCR and the IS-SWP vigorously put forward Lenin; in the early 1970s the SLL transforms itself into the WRP and in the early 1980s the OCI proclaims the PCI, two parties that appeal to Lenin and Trotsky. In their wake, sects choose, as sole activity to argue with organizations that appeal to the revolution (the Robertsonist ICL-FI) or to express themselves through an Internet site (the Northist SEP of the United States, which abandons any intervention in trade unions …). With the surging back of 1980s-1990s, sects wither while some surviving centrisms wallow in the “ecological”, “anti-globalization” or “indignant” confusion (the Pabloite FI, the Grantist IMT and CWI, the Cliffist IST …) indeed even towards the Islamist reaction (the Lambertist FI, the Cliffist IST, the Morenoite IWL …). Most liquidators of the 4th International launch out into “wide parties” that repudiate socialist revolution (Lambertist FI, Grantist CWI and IMT, Morenoite Movimiento …) or join popular fronts (as the SWP with Respect in 2004, LO during the 2008 French municipal elections …). Some go as far as supporting bourgeois candidates (as the LCR in France in 2002, SA in the United States in 2008 …). The regime of most of these organizations is not very democratic, as illustrated by the repeated splits of LO, the POI, the SWP … Besides, Healy and Lambert resorted to slander and violence against their opponents. The flag of the 4th International is henceforth more than torn, sullied.
VI. For the revolutionary workers’ international, for parties that prepare the socialist revolution
That the two previous mass internationals (WI, CI) had succumbed to a counter-revolutionary bureaucracy and that the international organization that should construct a new mass international (FI) had failed and given way to centrisms and sects does not mean that their programme is dead and that their task has been vain. Communism is the tendency of the real movement of the world proletariat. The communist theory and programme become embodied in the ceaseless appearance of communist organizations, in their international collaboration and in their intervention in class struggle.
The basic principles of the Communist League (1847-1852) remain valid: the struggle between social classes is decisive, the working class has no fatherland, it must struggle for democracy, ultimately it must take power. The working class must develop its own programme and its own party, it cannot give any trust to bourgeois parties nor to petty-bourgeois parties, it must present its own candidates to elections and arm itself. Unlike reformists and centrists who sometimes justify themselves with selected pieces from the Manifesto published in 1848, communists know that it is specified and corrected by the Address of 1850 in the light of the experience of the 1848 revolutions. The IWA (1864-1876) asserted the necessity of internationalism, of strikes and trade unions, of struggle against slavery and national oppression, of political struggle, of the destruction of the State apparatus, of workers’ power. Contrarily to confusionists and opportunists, internationalist communists do not forget the lessons of the struggle against backward Proudhonians or Bakuninist adventurists, and foremost the experience of the Paris Commune (1871 Address). The WI (1889-1914) showed that elections had to be used, that mass trade unions could limit exploitation, that mass parties could prepare the revolution, that war had to be fought and that one had to brush aside the participation of workers’ parties to bourgeois governments. Communists claim as legacy not opportunism (Jaures, Bernstein, Van Kol …) that seems to remain there in minority, nor even the conciliating center that covers in fact the opportunist practice of parties and trade unions with an orthodox veil (Bebel, Kautsky, Plekhanov …), but the internationalist wing that fights it frontally, in particular the SDKP in Poland and the Bolshevik RSDLP in Russia.
The Left of the Zimmerwald movement (1915-1919) asserted that capitalism had entered into its phase of decline, imperialism, which laid socialist revolution on the agenda; that the redivision of the world would lead to wars between great powers, that the proletariat must use the military conflict to take power; that a new international and new parties, delimited from social-imperialists and pacifists, were needed. The CI (1919-1922) specified moreover that it was necessary to destroy the bourgeois State through an uprising, to take power with councils that realize democracy for the masses. The parties of the CI must unify all communists of their country and be disciplined, be ready to go underground, ally the working class with the other exploited layers, recognize the rights of national minorities and oppressed peoples (in particular in the colonies), participate in elections in the preparatory phase of revolution, work in mass organizations of the working class (in particular trade unions), propose fighting unity against the bourgeoisie to other mass organizations of the working class (united workers’ front). The complements brought about by the conferences of the International Left Opposition (1930-1933) and by the first three conferences of the 4th International (1936-1940) remain valid: the essential problem of world revolution comes from the crisis of leadership of the working class, the Communist International and its parties having definitively gone over to the side of the bourgeois order, the Stalinist parties have become the twin stars of social-democratic parties; one must generalize the strategy of permanent revolution; the popular front, that is the alliance with the bourgeoisie, prepares fascism; the USSR remained a workers’ State, despite its degeneration, that had to be defended against imperialism and against its agent, the bureaucracy, by overthrowing it through a political revolution; the serious democratic demands remain valid, they have any meaning, as the participation to elections, the general strike and transitional demands, only towards the taking of power by the working class and its allies. The programme of the 4th International is not confined to the 1938 Programme, communists are equally based on the 1940 Manifesto.
No objective process, even the most favourable one, exempts from the conscious construction of the world party of revolution. Since more than 100 years, there is no more possible common party between internationalists and chauvinists, which invalidates the attempts by Lambertists to remake the 1st International or the intention of neo-Kautskyists (avowed ones like the CPGB or concealed ones like the CWI and the IMT, the Pabloite FI …) to remake the 2nd The pretenses to build a wide party with anarchists, “anti-liberal” social-democrats, defrocked Stalinists or ecologists, are nothing but the camouflage of the crossing over to reformism and to social-patriotism. The irreversible destruction of the Bolshevik-Leninist international more than 50 years ago, the disappearance of the world Bolshevik-Leninist center, the degeneration of the sections that had attempted to defend themselves and to defend it, the discredit since then thrown over “Trotskyism” forbid to “reconstruct”, “refound”, “regenerate”, “recreate” the 4th International.
The crisis of leadership of the labour movement will be solved only by the victory of the world proletarian revolution, itself conditioned by the construction of the revolutionary workers’ international. First of all, internationalist communists remain faithful to the strategy of the armament of the people and to the creation of soviet forms. The strategy of the unity of the working class, that of the alliance with other workers and future workers, unfold themselves in tactics for conquering the trust of vanguard workers and destroying the authority over the masses of the bourgeoisie, reformism and centrism: work in mass trade unions as they are, battle for the independence of all workers’ organizations towards ruling classes and the bourgeois State, united front of all mass workers’ organizations against economic and political attacks of the bourgeoisie, entryism (in defending the whole programme), revolutionary candidatures when it is possible against all bourgeois parties (failing that, call to vote for the candidates of mass reformist parties when they face candidates of parties of the ruling class). They defend what remains from the collectivized economy in Cuba and North Korea against imperialism, a task that cannot be placed in the charge of the local bureaucracy, of the Castro family, of the Kim dynasty. Communists fight all Islamic currents in Asia and in Africa in a clear and determined way in a perspective of permanent revolution: right to strike, independent organization of workers, secularity of the State, prohibition of polygamy, equality between men and women, mixing at school, scientific, artistic and cultural freedom, sexual freedom … Such watchwords are also valid in many other countries, including the most democratic ones, against bigots and fascists. Hundreds of thousands of workers and activists try every year to escape misery, oppression and repression that they bear in their country. Communists claim unconditionally the freedom of movement and of settling for workers and students and the same rights for all workers of a country, they recommend self-defense against police persecutions and racist attacks … The oppression of women has not disappeared, although equality between the sexes has progressed on a world scale thanks to the progresses of contraception, to the extension to girls of education, to household equipment, to the massive incorporation of women into the proletariat and to the fight of women themselves. Women are especially victims of capitalist restorations and of Islamic reaction. Communist organizations must mobilize the revolutionary potential of working women, unite the ranks of the working class, fight male violence, demand equality on all levels, the right to contraception and abortion, free quality nurseries … They must ensure in their midst the best conditions to recruit and form communist cadres among women. The defense of the environment of humanity is part of transitional demands as it requires the overthrow of capitalism, the development of science and engineering to the benefit of the poorest, the rational planning by the producers themselves.
In the current state of confusion and dispersion, it is a matter of gathering, with patience, on an international scale and in each country, internationalist communist elements, whether they originate from so-called “Trotskyism” or from other currents of the labour movement (including Stalinism). Questions of national tactics (what one must do in a trade union, the call to vote when there is no possibility to present a revolutionary candidate …) can be correctly tackled and solved only on the basis of an international programme. The international organization that organizes the fight for the international is centralized and democratic. It strives, through debate and action, to separate in the labour movement what is revolutionary from opportunism and sectarianism. Its sections do the same in each country. If necessary, they enter into a mass workers’ party or into a workers’ organization that evolves towards revolution. Communists must do the maximum for the atmosphere of their organizations to be free, for workers to educate themselves and for intellectuals to be under the control of the latter. Likewise, communists fight in the whole labour movement for workers’ democracy, from which they have nothing to fear. On these bases, communist organizations work together at the construction of the revolutionary workers’ international that will allow the definitive victory of socialist revolution, freeing humanity from exploitation, opening the way to socialism-communism, to a society of plenty that will allow the brightening up of all.