9th Conference of the Trotskyist Fraction
Internationalist Conference held in Buenos Aires
The Ninth International Conference of the Fracción Trotskista - Cuarta Internacional (FT-CI - Trotskyist Fraction - Fourth International) was held from April 28 to May 3.
May 10, 2015
The International Conference of the FT-CI was attended by delegations from the Movimiento de los Trabajadores Socialistas (MTS - Socialist Workers Movement) of Mexico, the Movimento Revolucionário de Trabalhadores (MRT - Revolutionary Workers Movement (former LER-QI) of Brazil, the Partido de los Trabajadores Revolucionarios (PTR - Revolutionary Workers Party) of Chile, the Courant Communiste Révolutionnaire (CCR - Revolutionary Communist Current) of the New Anti-capitalist Party in France, Clase contra Clase (CcC – Class against Class) from Spain, the Liga Obrera Revolucionaria (LOR - Revolutionary Workers League) of Bolivia, the Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS - Workers League for Socialism) of Venezuela, the Juventud Revolucionaria Internacionalista (JIR - Revolutionary Internationalist Youth) of Uruguay and the Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation (RIO - Revolutionary Internationalist Organisation) of Germany.
In order to inform our readers about the main conclusions of this important international meeting, we interviewed Christian Castillo (Argentina) along with the youth leaders Sergio Moissens (Mexico), Diana Assunção (Brazil), Fabián Puelma (Chile) and Daniela Cobet (France). These comrades have been part of the major political events and class struggles in their countries, such as the YoSoy132 (“I am 132”) student movement and the fight for the re-appearance of the 43 student teachers kidnapped in Mexico, the massive mobilizations of 2013 in Brazil and the teachers’ strike in São Paulo, as well as the massive struggle against the profit-driven education system in Chile.
What topics were addressed at the Conference?
CC: The Conference agenda covered the main problems of the international situation as well as the work of revolutionaries to build revolutionary workers parties and move towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International. In the first session there was a rich discussion concerning the definition of the character of China, its “imperialist traits” and its possible evolution on the basis of a document presented by Juan Chingo. In the second session, we discussed current trends in the economy and the theorizations of bourgeois economists, which demonstrate that we are a long way from the capitalist triumphalism that preceded the crisis. This discussion was centred on a document prepared by Paula Bach. We also discussed the complex geopolitical situation in the Middle East in the light of an assessment of the “Arab Spring”, taking as a starting point the document on the subject presented by Claudia Cinatti. Finally the discussion addressed the document of political orientation presented by Emilio Albamonte, basing this discussion on the positions that have been conquered in the labour and student movements, the oppressed sectors of youth and women workers, the parliamentary positions of the PTS in the Left and Workers’ Front (FIT) in Argentina, as well as the innovative tools we are using to expand the dissemination of revolutionary ideas such as La Izquierda Diario, all of which must function to construct strong combat workers’ parties, both nationally and internationally.
These documents, enriched by the fruitful discussions that took place at the Conference, will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine Estrategia Internacional (International Strategy).
Can you give us a snapshot of the main discussions and resolutions?
SM: From the economic point of view, we analysed the evolution of the capitalist crisis that began in 2008. Despite the application on the part of the capitalist states of various quantitative expansion measures, combined in Europe with harsh austerity, which has allowed them to avoid economic collapse, prospects remain critical. The recovery in the United States, while important compared to other central economies, is too weak to promote a new cycle of strong growth. In the European Union tendencies towards stagnation prevail, while in Latin America the fall in the price of raw materials has set in. It has also become clear that there is an economic slowdown in China, which has been the engine of economic growth in the first phase of the crisis. Although today the most explosive factors seem to be under control, one cannot rule out that events such as the Greek debt crisis or an interest rate rise in the United States can again trigger an acute phase of the crisis.
The world outlook is discouraging for bourgeois economists such as Larry Summers, the former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, who have “theorized” about “secular stagnation”, i.e. a prolonged period of stagnation or low growth that could only be overcome if some extra-economic event occurs. Not coincidentally, this once again raises the relationship between war and economic recovery. The importance of these bourgeois pseudo-theorizations is that they, in their own way, confirm the main theses long sustained by Marxists.
DA: That’s right. And this is not only with respect to capitalism’s lack of dynamism and its need for "bubbles" in order to operate. In his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (which has become a best seller), economist Thomas Piketty highlighted the fact that inequality is intrinsic to the capitalist system and is becoming more acute, even if the solution that he poses is utopian and boils down to the application of "wealth taxes", as if it were somehow possible to gradually transform capitalism. This reformist trend is expressed politically in Podemos and Syriza.
One of the other important discussions that flowed through the Conference was the role that China will play in the next period. This country, in which capitalism was restored under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party which maintains state power, has been transformed into the world’s second-largest economy. With this discussion, we have opened an exchange among the groups of the FT to continue moving towards a better understanding of this complex country, one which has important programmatic implications for Africa, and Latin America in particular, where not only the penetration of Chinese companies has increased, but also where agreements with China have been signed by several Latin American governments.
What other major topics of global geopolitics were discussed at the Conference?
FP: In the context of capitalist crisis and the decline of the United States as the hegemonic power, there have emerged geopolitical conflicts of great importance, such as that in Ukraine where the “West” (the United States and the European Union) is in conflict with Russia. At the Conference we addressed the situation in the Middle East, where the conflicts and current wars are related to the reactionary course that the “Arab Spring” took, in particular the deepest processes such as those in Egypt and Tunisia. In Syria the uprising against Al-Assad has been diverted into a civil war between reactionary factions supported by regional powers and imperialism, such as the Free Syrian Army. As a result of the conditions created by imperialist intervention in the region, and the war in Iraq in particular, the Islamic State has emerged. This completely reactionary force has led to the United States once again becoming involved in military action in the region. Another important element that is changing the region is the accord between the United States and Iran, an accord that has been strongly opposed by traditional U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
DA: In this context, we also discussed the lessons of the “Arab Spring”, which even with its limits, was the first revolutionary test in the period opened up by the capitalist crisis. As we said earlier, these processes, which taken together had a popular composition, were deeper in Tunisia and Egypt, where the working class with its organizations intervened, and where it was necessary for the army to launch a coup to stop this process and restore a Mubarak-like regime. One of the fundamental conclusions of the “Arab Spring” is that there are no possibilities for the triumph of a “democratic revolution”, as the majority of the left-wing currents around the world suggest (among them the IWL-FI (International Workers League - Fourth International), whose main organization is the PSTU of Brazil). These processes ended up falling in behind capitalist and even imperialist alternatives, such as in Libya and Syria. Once again it has been demonstrated that to triumph it is necessary for the working class, in alliance with the oppressed, to fight to destroy the economic and political power of the capitalists on the road to winning a workers’ government. That is, the confirmation of the “permanent revolution” in the current political situation.
In the light of these central themes of the international situation, we also discussed perspectives for moving towards the construction of “combat parties” that are based on the class struggle as well as taking steps towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International. Particularly in Latin America, the weakening and exhaustion of the “populist” governments and their replacement with right-wing governments has opened up real possibilities for the construction of revolutionary working class organizations, organizations that not only confront the decadent “national” bourgeoisies but also an imperialism that is moving to recover the ground it has lost in recent years. This can be seen in Obama’s policy for the region as stated at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. Similarly, Obama’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, even though it has a “friendly” face, aims to promote a further leap towards capitalist restoration as well as strengthen the militarization of Mexico. In the context of the fall in popularity of various post-neoliberal governments, some very important workers’ struggles have occurred. Brazil is the country where a new cycle of struggles has burst onto the national stage. The teachers’ strike in Paraná and São Paulo, the struggles at VW and Mercedes Benz, and other sectors have put in place a new subjectivity of the proletariat in the region.
What challenges do we as revolutionaries have in this period?
SM: The combination of the crisis of Latin American populism with the beginnings of the emergence of the working class in important countries such as Brazil and Argentina, poses the need for us to redouble our efforts to build revolutionary organizations rooted in the working class and in the class struggle. In this sense we are starting with important achievements, such as the implantation of the PTS in factories in the industrial belt of the northern zone (of Greater Buenos Aires) and the consolidation of the Left and Workers’ Front (FIT) as a political reference for important sections of salaried workers. One example of this is the election on May 3 in Mendoza, where Nicolás del Caño of the PTS in the FIT beat the Frente para la Victoria (FPV - Front for Victory, the Peronist / Kirchnerist electoral alliance), making the FIT the second political force in the province. The growth of the FIT is the start of a tendency, still emerging, of a split of various sectors of the working class from the “center-left” government of the Kirchner’s.
DC: In Europe, where the crisis hit hard and important processes of class struggle such as the general strikes in Greece have occurred, a new reformism such as that of Podemos and Syriza has emerged, a reformism that seeks to contain the struggle within the framework of capitalism. Much of the traditional far-left has adapted to these reformist phenomena. On the other hand, our organizations defend class independence and revolutionary strategy and are searching for ways to fight this adaptation alongside other left sectors that are also resisting this course. For example, in the case of France, the Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR) in the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), which includes the compañeros of the FT, has taken important steps together with the Anti-capitalism & Revolution tendency in the fight against the NPA majority’s orientation towards these reformist phenomena. In addition, in France we have undertaken a strong national and international campaign to demand freedom for our comrade Gaëtan, who has been sentenced to prison for taking part in a demonstration. This is part of the right-wing policy of Hollande’s Government which has just launched a scandalous repressive law that gives free rein to the intelligence services and state surveillance.
CC: To actively intervene in this period and get our ideas to hundreds of thousands, and in the future to millions, of workers and young people from the popular sectors, we have extended the La Izquierda Diario project. This project, which began in Argentina and now has its own newspapers in Brazil, Chile and Mexico, has quickly become a reference point that has even surpassed the traditional papers of the left. In addition we are integrating the groups in Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay and the compañeros of the Spanish State into the project. La Izquierda Diario has become a system of socialist newspapers and audio-visual media in Latin America that has the exciting goal of building a great means of propaganda and dissemination of communist ideas, placed at the service of building strong revolutionary organizations. Finally, the Ninth Conference of the FT-CI reaffirmed the policy of promoting a Movimiento por una Internacional de la Revolución Socialista – Cuarta Internacional [Movement for a Revolutionary Socialist International - Fourth International]; that is, the convergence of sections of the left of the international Trotskyist movement who are resisting and confronting the right-wing course of their leaderships with sectors of the workers and youth vanguard oriented towards revolution, as a method of moving towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International.