To rally the Bolsheviks of all countries to move forward towards the construction of the Revolutionary Workers International
While the democratic petty bourgeois want to bring the revolution to an end as quickly as possible, achieving at most the aims already mentioned, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers. Our concern cannot simply be to modify private property, but to abolish it, not to hush up class antagonisms but to abolish classes, not to improve the existing society but to found a new one. (Marx and Engels, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850)
SOCIALISM OR BARBARISM
Capitalism is based upon the exploitation of the wage-earning workers by the bourgeoisie. The working class, which produces most of the wealth, is doomed to poverty, precarity and attacks on its rights.
The law by which a constantly increasing quantity of means of production, thanks to the advance in the productiveness of social labour, may be set in movement by a progressively diminishing expenditure of human power, this law, in a capitalist society — where the labourer does not employ the means of production, but the means of production employ the labourer — undergoes a complete inversion and is expressed thus: the higher the productiveness of labour, the greater is the pressure of the labourers on the means of employment, the more precarious, therefore, becomes their condition of existence, viz., the sale of their own labour-power for the increasing of another’s wealth, or for the self-expansion of capital. The fact that the means of production, and the productiveness of labour, increase more rapidly than the productive population, expresses itself, therefore, capitalistically in the inverse form that the labouring population always increases more rapidly than the conditions under which capital can employ this increase for its own self-expansion. (Marx, Capital, vol. I, chapter 25, section 4)
Under the rule of the capitalists and of their states, technical progress can only lead to an increased exploitation, to the squandering of natural resources, to the destruction of environment and to a substantial production of weapons, which use value is the destruction of the productive forces of the humanity, as still illustrated by bombings, invasion and occupation of Iraq by the most advanced country, economically and scientifically speaking.
The war which is carried out in Iraq by the armed forces of the American, British and Australian imperialisms and of some of their lackeys, as well as the occupation of Palestine by the Zionist army or the French military intervention in Ivory Coast, are illustrations of the barbarism in which capitalism leads humanity.
THE ROOTS OF THE CURRENT INCAPACITY OF THE WORKING CLASS
Such attacks are facilitated by previous defeats of the world proletariat and of dominated countries: restoration of capitalism in Russia and in most of the former bureaucratic worker states, previous military interventions of imperialism against Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan. They have been made possible by the passivity and the complicity of the organisations created by working class for limiting and eradicating exploitation together with the exploiters, with their political representatives, with their states.
The workers are such overwhelming majority and their strength is multiplied so many times by their strategic position in the production that, if they were united to act consciously in their own interests, their victory over the bourgeoisie would be a mere push over. But they are not united, not class conscious. The reason for this is the influence of the bourgeois ideology in the ranks of the workers. This influence is carried into the ranks of the workers in various ways, but its most direct representatives are the labor bureaucracy. (J.P. Cannon, “Mass work and factional struggle”, 1953, Speeches to the party)
Therefore, the Pinochet coup d’état in 1973, the defeat of the miners in Britain in 1985, the imperialist wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 were not fated. They result from the politics which weres implemented by the leadership of the labour movement, the bureaucracies of the traditional parties and of the unions.
The material root of the subservience of the current leaderships of the working class is the corruption, by the ruling class, of the leadership of the organisations which were created by the working class.
On the economic basis referred to above, the political institutions of modern capitalism — press, parliament associations, congresses etc. – have created political privileges and sops for the respectful, meek, reformist and patriotic office employees and workers, corresponding to the economic privileges and sops. Lucrative an soft jobs in the government or on the war industries committees, in parliament and on diverse committees, on the editorial staffs of “respectable”, legally published newspapers or on the management councils of no less respectable and “bourgeois law-abiding” trade unions — this is the bait by which the imperialist bourgeoisie attracts and rewards the representatives and supporters of the bourgeois labour parties. (V.I. Lenin, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, 1916).
During the last century, the corruption of the leaders and the integration of the bureaucracies have much improved. Today, as a result, the agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class refuse to defend the national struggles in Palestine, in Iraq, in Chechnya; they keep the unemployed and the immigrant workers isolated, they faithfully manage capitalism (alone in government in Britain, in the Spanish State, or with bourgeois parties in Germany, in Brazil…), they protect the bourgeois states when they are threatened by uprisings (by means of institutional truces or makeshift solutions), they co-manage firms and they participate in the implementation of redundancy plans, of cuts of social benefits, they mess up general strikes (with division and “days of fight”), they support their own bourgeoisie, their government, and the UN, they repeatedly create diversions (defence of the national interest, electoral and parliamentary channels, pacifism, “World Social Forum”…).
Besides, the relinquishment by the workers movement in imperialist countries of any reference to socialism and of any proletarian internationalism, the collapse of the USSR and the setback of the world working class, have reinforced the petit-bourgeois and bourgeois nationalist leaderships, and especially their most reactionary wing, clerical fanaticism.
More than once, Islamists have provided back-up troops to coups d’état and reactionary wars which were stirred up by US imperialism: Iran in 1953, Indonesia in 1965, Afghanistan in 1979, Algeria in 1992..As staunch defenders of private property and of patriarchy, as oppressors of the workers, of the women and of the youth, as cut-throats of worker militants, the political networks of the mullahs who are hired by the bourgeoisies of Saudi Arabia and of Iran put pressure on imperialist powers as a strategy. They mostly exert it with suicide bombings, not by priests but by combative young people, whom they fear the revolutionary potential and whom they prefer dead. Such terrorist acts are often directed at workers, in accordance with the social character – capitalist with high feudal features – of those trends.
THE WORKING CLASS NEEDS A NEW PARTY, A REVOLUTIONARY WORLD PARTY
The second war against Iraq exhibited clearly the rivalries between imperialisms. The issue of the latter are (and will be more and more) centred upon a new distribution of the world, the enslavement of the countries of the former USSR, the plundering of the world resources and of the product of the social labour of all the exploited. The restoration of capitalism in Russia and the military victory of the US against Saddam Hussein’s army f have guaranteed neither the world order nor the absolute supremacy of the United States on the European imperialisms and on the Japanese imperialism.
Indeed, numerous local and regional economic crises, regional or world economic recessions, show the reinforcement of the contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. Whether they are Keynesian or free-market ones, all the remedies that have been employed for prolonging capitalism just prepare a world economic crisis, as an inescapable outcome of the deterioration of the whole capitalist mode of production.
Each bourgeoisie tries to postpone its occurrence and to evade its consequences to the detriments of its rivals, and mostly of its own working class. In such conditions, the struggle for the emancipation of the workers requires on fighting their own bourgeoisie, includes the fight for the break-up of labour organisations, especially the unions –but students and peasants organisations too– with the bourgeois government, whether the reformist parties participate in it or not.
For putting an end to wars and for the flowering of humanity, for the removal of exploitation, of national oppression, of women servitude and of racism, imperialism must die. Only the working class, in leading the mobilisation of all the oppressed, is able to overthrow the bourgeoisie and to achieve the world socialist revolution.
Class struggle inside the bourgeois states against the dominant classes and international solidarity of the proletarians of all the countries are two inseparable vital rules of the working class in its fight for historical-world-wide liberation. (R. Luxemburg, Thesis on the Tasks of the International Social-democracy, 1915)
Instead of taking advantage of the divergences within its own bourgeoisie and of the divisions of the world bourgeoisie, the proletariat gets subordinated to some faction of the capitalist class or the other, through reformist Stalinist-born or Social-democrat-born parties, by union bureaucracies and their left flank guards, the defective travesties of the late Fourth International.
The denunciation of the betrayals of the old leaderships must be backed up with the fight for mobilising the masses, for their self-organisation. Only their revolutionary movement will overthrow the bourgeoisie, will wipe out its state, will lead to socialism. However, so that the class struggle will be successful, that is insurrection and coming to power, the proletariat needs a new leadership, the vanguard of conscious workers must be regrouped. It is necessary to build a Bolshevik-type party. The revolutionary worker party only can be a world party because of the international character of the class struggle, since capitalism rules the world.
The emancipation of the proletariat can only be an international act. (F. Engels, Letter to Paul Lafargue, 1893)
As a result, the so called-building of socialism in one country was a reactionary utopia, particularly in economically backward countries as Russia and China, Albania and Cuba:
The completion of the socialist revolution within national limits is unthinkable. One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state. From this follows on the one hand, imperialist wars, on the other, the utopia of a bourgeois United States of Europe. The socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a newer and broader sense of the word; it attains completion, only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet. (L. Trotsky, “What is the Permanent Revolution? Basic Postulates”, 1928, Permanent Revolution)
THE COLLAPSE OF THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL HAS BECAME IRREVERSIBLE
The building of a new leadership, of a revolutionary workers international is the objective of the Collective which publishes Permanent Revolution. The new International will revive the previous internationalist efforts of the proletariat: the Communist League, the International Workers Association, the Workers International, the Communist International, the Fourth International. Whatever will be its name, it will be the fifth Workers International.
The Workers International (2nd) lapsed in 1914: its main branches came on the side of their bourgeoisie in the inter-imperialist slaughter. The Communist International (3rd) drifted once and for all in 1933, when it became an instrument of the usurping bureaucracy of the USSR against the world revolution – as the role of Stalinism was demonstrated in the defeat of the Spanish Revolution. It is the time when Trotsky and a few other communist executives tended towards a new International, which was proclaimed in 1938.
No revolutionary organisation ever lived for seventy years. The Fourth International is not an exception, even if many small movements pretend fraudulently to embody it and if dozens of groups improperly claim to be able to “reconstruct” it, to “regenerate” it, to “refound” it, to “rebuild” it… Fifty years after the destruction of the Fourth International by its own leadership, such a perspective is null and void. As soon as 1949, Pablo and Mandel, confused by the capitalist growth and by the expropriation of capital which had been achieved under the guidance of Stalinist parties, disappointed by the inability of the Fourth International to get at once the leadership of the masses, began to adapt them to other social forces, to look for substitute to the proletarian struggle and to the building of revolutionary workers parties.
The Third “world congress”, held in 1951, revised the program on the role of the Kremlin bureaucracy. It proclaimed that it was necessary to reform it and not to overthrow it (with disastrous consequences for the political revolution in East Germany in 1953 and in Hungary in 1956…). In this congress, Pablo also revived the “united anti-imperialist front”, with a view to hide his submission to the bourgeois nationalist movements (with disastrous effects during the Bolivian revolution in 1952…).
The Trotskyist world organisation did not survive this crisis: although some sections of the Fourth International tried to resist, between 1951 and 1953, all finally collapsed into opportunism and were eliminated as revolutionary organisations.
Eventually, there is no place between Social-patriotism and Marxism. In imperialist countries, the so-called Trotskyist movement became left-reformist, outside or inside the Stalinist, Labour and Social-democrat parties; in dominated countries, they rather form the left wing of nationalism.
The flag of the Fourth International has been torn and stained thousand times by the refusal of championing the workers states against imperialism, by the approval of the repression of the proletariat by the ruling bureaucracy, by the acceptance of the imperialist interventions and by the ratification of the Zionist colonialism, by the support to the policemen’s claims, by the calls to vote for bourgeois candidates, by hoaxes that present counter-revolutionary parties (Stalinist, social-democrat or nationalist) as socialist or revolutionary ones, by the approval of coalitions with representatives of the bourgeoisie, by the co-management and the direct participation in bourgeois governments (Algeria, Sri Lanka, Brazil), by the subordination to the “anti-globalisation” or “alter-globalisation” swamp, by the collusion with the Islamists…
REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF ALL COUNTRIES, LET’S GET UNITED!
To draw lessons from such betrayals and to unmask these usurpers, we publish Permanent Revolution.
Our international Collective was born from an international meeting in Buenos Aires in December 2002, one year after the revolutionary crisis by which Argentine masses overthrew the elected bourgeois government. The few revolutionary organisations which met there came from different traditions: the Pabloist USec and the LIT (the GOI from Chile and the LOI-DO from Argentina), of the LCRI and the CEMICOR (the CWG from New Zealand and LM from Peru), of the 1953 International Committee and the ORCFI (the GB from France). However these organisations all rejected the “united anti-imperialist front” ot their origins, they all wanted to revive the strategy of the permanent revolution and claimed to build a joint revolutionary center.
As a result, the collective achieved a declaration against the preparation of the imperialist intervention in Iraq, an Appeal to an international conference in 21 points, a declaration on the Bolivian revolution. Thanks to this activity, the Collective began to attract other organisations or currents in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Spain, France, Peru, Colombia, Australia… The dynamics of the discussion which was established between the groups, as much on the content of the declarations as on the 21 points, opened then the perspective to build a small but international framework, on principled foundations, moving away from self-proclaimed sectarianism.
Yet the leadership of the Argentine LOI and of the FTI proved to be incapable to surpass caudillism, manoeuvres and nationalism inherited from Moreno-type Pabloism. Moreno was an unprincipled Argentine adventurer who successively capitulated in front of Peronism and in front of Castroism.
Faithful to the conception of a “guide party”, inherited from the Argentine MAS in the 1980s, the leadership of the LOI proved incapable to tolerate criticism, in the development of a loyal and frank discussion about the connection it makes between popular front and united workers front, about its confusion between workers aristocracy and workers bureaucracy, about its adaptation to Latin-American nationalism, about its support to the union bureaucracies’ ‘single days of fight’, about its opportunism with Islamism… Such a refusal led the LOI leadership to split the Collective and, as a justification, to hide its own postures to its own militants and to falsify those of its former partners. The Morenoist leadership of the LOI tried to destroy the Peruvian group, in using an unsatisfied militant from Lima, and in calling Lucha Marxista “Stalinist” and “Polpotist”.
Then, in front of the resistance within the Collective to its behaviour, it tried, in Spring 2004, to eliminate the International Collective, in using any kind of pretexts, blackmails and lies. In that way, the leadership of the LOI struck a hard blow to the process started up in its own congress in December of 2002, since the LOI was the largest organisation in the Collective. The actual reason of the split appeared rapidly: the LOI renounced the 21 points of the Appeal in raising a “Liaison Committee” without program and without prospects.
Such a sad story shows that, in a backward context for the world working class, the process of reaffirmation of Bolshevism will not be a easy way. Yet, the consistent revolutionaries cannot resign the patient construction of international links, with a view to building a world party, a Revolutionary Workers International.
The Bolshevik kernels are numerically weak and the task is huge, but they bet on the spontaneity of the proletariat and on their own intervention guided by the past experiences of class struggle, compressed in the programmatic documents of the Communists’ League by Marx and Engels, of the Communist International in the time of Lenin, of the Fourth International in Trotsky’s days.
The 21 points of the Appeal intended to make dialectically concrete the continuation of this for now. They are a tool for our delimitation from opportunism and from centrism. Therefore, the programmatic elements in these 21 points have been under debate. In particular, it is necessary to make clear that the Fourth International is dead for long, to denounce any capitulation before Islamism.
We call all workers and youth of the international vanguard, to the internationalist revolutionary workers factions and organisations, to answer this invitation to discuss, to prepare the international and principled convergence.
Such is the function of Permanent Revolution: to allow the discussion, the joint work and the fusion between internationalists, to help for the intervention in class struggle to keep the program alive and to build organisations in all countries, along with a delimitation with reformism and centrism.
To rally these Marxist elements – however small their numbers may be at the beginning – to recall in their name the now forgotten words of genuine Socialism, to call upon the workers of all countries to break with the chauvinists and to come under the old banner of Marxism – such is the task of the day. (V. Lenin, Socialism and War, 1915, chapter III)
Collective Permanent Revolution