The work that we are presenting here is the systematization of a debate that began two years ago at the cadre school of the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS – Party of Socialist Workers), and reflects the positions held by the Political Bureau of our party. It is important in that it has allowed us to homogeneously develop a critical vision of our own political-theoretical past: drawing both a clear line of demarcation between ourselves and the “Morenista” current of the Trotskyist movement that we have come from, and at the same time reclaiming what we think is the method and theory of Leon Trotsky. We have done this, however, without giving in to those who wanted to speed up this rupture in an anti-dialectical fashion and totally deny any and all continuity with the past*.
From the theoretical legacy of Nahuel Moreno we defend those works that were the product of his principled debate against revisionism, including: “The Revolutionary Dictatorship of the Proletariat” against the United Secretariat of Ernest Mandel, which fought against the revisionist theory of “socialist democracy” in the workers’ states; and “The Betrayal of the OCI” in which Moreno defended a Trotskyist policy against Pierre Lambert’s “theory of the progressive bourgeois camps”.
Our polemic is centered on the theoretical revisions made by Moreno – primarily in the 1980s – to Trotsky’s Theory of the Permanent Revolution. Moreno at least had the merit of honestly saying that he was revising Trotsky. However, it is these revisions that have led to the present theoretical, political and programmatic impasse of the LIT, and is one of the fundamental reasons behind the present explosion.
Following the same method that Moreno recommended to us of clearly saying what it is that you are revising, we are going to do just that with his theory of revolution.
Far removed from the vision that Moreno left behind a “granite foundation” for the construction of a principled international Trotskyist current, the current collapse of the ‘edifice’ of the LIT shows that the theoretical foundations elaborated by him in the 1980s, in his open and declared break with Trotsky, were of no use for the interpretation of the new events that unfolded after 1989. Far from being an improvement to Trotsky’s theory, Moreno’s ideas have shown themselves to be useless for the understanding of reality and the development of a correct revolutionary policy. Moreover, his ideas have served as the theoretical covering for the great programmatic and political capitulation of the LIT and its national sections.
That is why any possible revolutionary regeneration of the LIT (and its sections) can only come as a result of a resolute return to the theoretical foundations and method outlined by the founder of the Fourth International.
* This was the method of Osvaldo Garmendia, former leader of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS – Movement for Socialism) who was expelled along with us and then later from the PTS. He ended up criticizing Moreno from a right-wing position with a clear social democratic tinge, by way of a “modernized” Lenin shorn of all revolutionary content.
The Political and Theoretical Causes of the Present Crisis in the LIT
The various attempts to explain the profound crisis within the LIT cannot be more superficial. All of its internal tendencies and factions seem to agree on the fact that the events of 1989 were the trigger for this current crisis, regardless of the evaluation that each has of them. However, when it comes to trying to find the cause as to why (four years after these events!) this crisis advances and the LIT continues to fall apart, without any balance sheet of the events of 1989; the majority of their explanations ultimately come down to either the “death of Moreno” or to “social pressures”.
The so-called Left Faction, led by the Italian Socialismo Rivoluzionario (SR – Revolutionary Socialism) and including the majority of the Spanish party, strikes a different note. They say that the LIT’s troubles, and those of the Trotskyist movement in general, come from “the exaltation of a historical exception and its presuppositions. Having raised the October Revolution to the indisputable model for all revolutions, having assumed its way as an inviolable paradigm, has been the mistake (…) that has confined revolutionary Marxism (…) to a fatal minority position (…). the Russian Revolution was nothing but an absolutely exceptional episode due to “where” and “how” it took place (…) Above all, by having transformed 1917 into an ideology meant and means clashing with the concrete, rich and differentiated development of the class struggle and of revolutionary processes”.(1)
We, the Fracción Internacionalista (Internationalist Faction), reject sectarian dogmatism. But we categorically affirm, contrary to what the SR says, that the principal cancer in the Trotskyist movement has been, and continues to be, the revisionism of a distinct type that has expressed itself throughout the history of post-war Trotskyism, under the order of ‘Yalta’. Revisionism such as that today represented by the SR, which increasingly moves away from Trotskyism and Marxism, based in its characterization of a “new epoch” different to the epoch of the socialist revolution opened by the October Revolution, profiles itself as a “trotskismo aggiornado” (modernized Trotskyism), adapted to the “new lefts”, whose outlook is no more than that of “democratic revolutions” across the world.
For our Internationalist Faction, the main reason for the current crisis in the LIT effectively lies (and this is the only thing that unites us with the SR) in the theoretical, political and programmatic foundations that the LIT found itself armed with in the face the events of 1989.
But our position moves in the opposite direction to that of the SR-Left Faction: these foundations did not have the problem of “raising the October Revolution as an indisputable model”; they were pervaded with revisionist elements about the lessons of the October Revolution, lessons which have nurtured Trotskyism, its theory and its program.
Far from developing, in the face of these new events, the revolutionary content of Marxism put into practise in the October Revolution of 1917 and the stage of class struggle that it opened up until 1923, when there existed a revolutionary Third International and its programmatic lessons from its first four Congresses; the Trotskyism of Moreno instead based itself on a ‘theory of revolution’ adapted to the ‘model’ of the revolutions from the period of 1943-48 (a stage which, as we will demonstrate, was truly “exceptional” due to “where” and “how” it took place and which Moreno “exalted”, to speak in the manner of SR) and of the post-war period, which Moreno called “triumphant Februaries”, and whose direct descendant is the global theory of the 1980s: “the democratic revolution”.
For us, the years 1943-48 were a period in which the theoretical hypothesis of the Transitional Program outlined in the chapter called “Workers’ and Farmers’ Government” occurred: “under the influence of completely exceptional circumstances (war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.), the petty bourgeois parties, including the Stalinists, may go further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie.”
This stage which gave rise to the new post-war workers’ states in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, China and Korea, was extended by Moreno to the whole post-war period where there were only two triumphant revolutions in a sea of defeated and betrayed revolutions: Cuba and Vietnam, correctly characterized by Moreno and a part of the Fourth International as deformed workers’ states, against sectarians who denied them because they had not arisen in the same conditions as the Russian October Revolution.
The theoretical foundations of the current crisis in the LIT are due to the raising of this exception into a programmatic norm from which they say that: “… we have to state that it is not mandatory for the working class and for a revolutionary Marxist party to lead the process of democratic revolution to socialist revolution …” (2)
Furthermore, in the 1980s, before the wave of collapsing dictatorships such as Somoza in Nicaragua and the military juntas of Argentine and the Southern Cone [of Latin America], processes which moved nowhere near the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and instead installed bourgeois democratic regimes, the LIT took a further turn in its adaptation to these processes with the theory of “democratic revolution”. Moreno defined this process in “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century” as: “a revolution in the political regime: to destroy fascism to regain the freedoms of bourgeois democracy, even if in the arena of the political regimes of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois state.” (3)
We will demonstrate in this work just how the LIT has revised, in an anti-Trotskyist manner, the foundational programmatic-theoretical tools of the Fourth International: the Theory of the Permanent Revolution and the Transitional Program.
There is not a single internal faction of the LIT that has put such a position into black and white.
On the contrary, they all reaffirm this revision to the Theory of the Permanent Revolution, on one side there are those such as the Tendencia Bolchevique Internacionalista (TBI – International Bolshevik Tendency) of the LIT, a faction led by the Colombian Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores – Colombia (PST-C, Socialist Workers Party – Colombia), who after the events of 1989 unbelievably proclaim that “everything was foreseen”.
At the other extreme is the Italian Socialismo Rivoluzionario and its Left Faction who; based in the same theoretical matrix, take this logic to unbelievable limits, calling for modern-day Italy to “prepare a democratic revolution”. (4)
It must be admitted that the SR is certainly audacious: a “democratic revolution” not against fascism (we will demonstrate that this is a concept bordering on reformism) but in bourgeois-democratic and imperialist Italy! What does it mean to call for a “democratic revolution” in modern-day Italy, where the character of this democracy of monopolies that control and buy functionaries and parties, has been unmasked for millions around the world? Would it mean, for SR, the “democratization” of Fiat or Olivetti?
This “theoretical” superseding of the “schemas of Marxism” are nothing but the work of impressionistic empiricists. They are apologists for universal democratic revolutions which are also an “historical exception”, not that of the Russian October of 1917, not even the post-war revolutions that saw the rise of the deformed workers’ states, but the low-level revolutions of 1989.
These revolutions which, because of the structural weakness of the regimes and the bureaucratic state apparatus, along with the incapacity of the bureaucracy’s army to intervene: saw peaceful, bloodless mobilizations – apart from Romania – where the proletariat was diluted in the popular torrent and with neither organs of dual power or revolutionary leadership. While they knocked down Stalinism and its regimes of political oppression, they also showed themselves to be simply incapable of defeating the bureaucracy as a whole and its restorationist wing in particular.
The “eseritas” (SRs) have transformed this exception into the universal and “indisputable model” of revolution; which, as demonstrated by the enlistment of the Red Army after Yeltsin’s Bonapartist coup [of 1993] and the suppression of Parliament, will not be repeated. These people, who call themselves Trotskyists, tell the proletariat of Russia and the nationalities of the former USSR that it is necessary “to definitely overcome these unfortunate insurrectionary opinions.” (5)
They have elevated the spontaneous revolutions of 1989 into a program, where “civil society” is all powerful, and counterrevolution, the state and its repression organisms, are nothing.
The other groupings within the LIT have polemicized against these anti-Leninist positions. But they cannot consistently combat them if they do not attack their revisionist theoretical bases, which is where this reformism stems from. Ultimately, as we will attempt to demonstrate in this work, in every cadre armed with the anti-Trotskyist conception of “democratic revolution” there lurks an “eserista”.
Of course we do not believe that a correct theory and program are the only guarantee of success. But a leadership not proven in the class struggle, as the leadership of the LIT described itself even when Moreno was alive and based primarily in Latin America, Argentina and Brazil; subject to social pressures and pressure from the counterrevolutionary apparatus, like any other, even the most revolutionary ones; if it has an incorrect program and theory, the hostile influences of the enemy classes will come in through the cracks and knock that organization down, just as we have seen with the LIT in the events of 1989.
For the Internationalist Faction, the regeneration of the LIT must start with a theoretical, political and programmatic rearmament based on the foundations of the Fourth International. For this task, we call on all LIT cadre and militants that agree with our positions to join with us in a tendency for Trotskyism. This rearmament and return to Trotskyism cannot be done without liquidating the revisionist elements contained within “Morenismo”.
1. “Democratic Revolution” or Permanent Revolution?
For Moreno, the “democratic revolution” is a new and specific kind of revolution that becomes necessary with the appearance of fascism in imperialist countries and dictatorships in the semi-colonies.
In “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”, he defined it in this way: “What Trotsky did not put forward, even though he drew a parallel between Stalinism and fascism, was that it was also necessary in the capitalist countries to make a revolution in the political regime: to destroy fascism to regain the freedoms of bourgeois democracy, even if in the arena of the political regimes of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois state. Specifically, he did not put forward a democratic revolution to wipe out the totalitarian fascist regime, as a part or the first step in the process towards socialist revolution, and he left this serious theoretical problem open”. (6)
First, it is false to say that Trotsky did not consider this problem. One can be against his theoretical legacy, but one cannot hide it. We will reproduce only two quotations, categorical enough, from the dozens which answer the theoretical problem Moreno puts forward in the same way.
This is the response that the founder of the Fourth International gave to Pietro Tresso and the Italian oppositionists, who raised a position similar to Moreno’s in the Italy of Mussolini: “As to the problem of the anti-fascist revolution, the Italian question, more than any other, is intimately linked to the fundamental problems of world communism, that is, of the so-called theory of permanent revolution.”
“Following from what has been said comes the question of the “transitional” period in Italy. At the very outset it is necessary to establish very clearly: transition from what to what? A period of transition from the bourgeois (or “popular”) revolution to the proletarian revolution – that is the one thing. A period of transition from the fascist dictatorship to the proletarian dictatorship – that is something else.”
“If the first conception is envisaged, the question of the bourgeois revolution is posed in the first place, and it is then a question of establishing the role of the proletariat in it. Only after that will the question of the transitional period toward a proletarian revolution be posed. If the second conception is envisaged, the question is then posed of a series of battles, disturbances, changing situation, abrupt turns, constituting in their entirety the different stages of the proletarian revolution. These stages may be many. But in no case can they contain within them a bourgeois revolution or its mysterious hybrid, the “popular” revolution.”
“Does this mean that Italy cannot, for a certain time, again become a parliamentary state or become a “democratic republic”? I consider – in perfect agreement with you, I think – that this eventuality is not excluded. But then it will not be the fruit of a bourgeois revolution, but the abortion of an insufficiently matured and premature proletarian revolution. In the event of a profound revolutionary crisis and mass battles in the course of which the proletarian vanguard will not have been in a position to take power, it may be that the bourgeoisie will restore its rule on “democratic” bases.” (our emphasis) (7)
Let us observe the method of Trotsky, although not in the case of an “anti-fascist revolution”; when he wrote in 1929 in “The Permanent Revolution”, referring to the first revolution in Germany, that: “As to the German Revolution of 1918, it was no democratic completion of the bourgeois revolution, it was a proletarian revolution decapitated by the Social Democrats; more correctly, it was a bourgeois counterrevolution, which was compelled to preserve pseudo-democratic forms after its victory over the proletariat.” (8)
It is clear that Trotsky did not close his eyes to a likely outbreak of a “deep revolutionary crisis” that was the product of the “battles of the masses” against fascism, and neither did he hesitate to call the fall of the Kaiser in Germany in 1918 a “victory obtained by the proletariat”.
For Trotsky, it was not out of the question that Italy may “again turn for a certain time into a parliamentary state or become a “democratic republic” after the fall of fascism.
There is not one iota of “unilateralism” or “sectarianism” in these quotations.
It is in this same sense that we have characterized as “revolutions”, due to their resemblance to the “February revolutions”, the collapse of the Stalinist party regimes during 1989-91 in the East and the former USSR, in opposition to the sectarians that call them counterrevolutions. Against them, our Internationalist Faction defends the magisterial definition that Trotsky made of the “February revolution” in “Whither France?”.
“After the war a series of brilliantly victorious revolutions occurred in Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and later in Spain. But it was only in Russia that the proletariat took full power into its hands, expropriated its exploiters, and knew how to create and maintain a workers’ state. Everywhere else the proletariat, despite its victory, stopped half way because of the mistakes of its leadership. As a result, power slipped from its hands, shifted from left to right and fell prey to Fascism. In a series of other countries power passed into the hands of a military dictatorship. Nowhere were the parliaments capable of reconciling class contradictions and assuring the peaceful development of events. Conflicts were solved arms in hand.” (9).
But for the founder of the Fourth International, the fact that the masses would conquer only “the freedoms of bourgeois democracy… in the field of bourgeois state” would be the product not of a “triumphant democratic revolution”, as an independent stage prior to the socialist revolution, but the “abortion of an insufficiently matured and premature proletarian revolution” in the case of Italy; or of “a bourgeois counterrevolution, which was compelled to preserve pseudo-democratic forms after its victory over the proletariat” as he characterized it in the Germany of 1918.
What do the different factions of the LIT think? Are they with Trotsky in calling this an “abortion of the proletarian revolution” or with Moreno when he speaks of a “triumphant democratic revolution”?
In contrast to the thinking of Moreno, it is clear that Trotsky not only responded to the question of “anti-fascist revolution”; for him, this question was also “intimately linked” to the Theory of Permanent Revolution.
He said that there were two opposite conceptions about how to define the “transitional period” between the struggle for the overthrow of fascism and the dictatorship of the proletariat: one conception envisages “a transitional period between a bourgeois (or “people’s”) revolution and the proletarian revolution”, the other a “transitional period between the fascist dictatorship and the proletarian dictatorship”.
Moreno places himself in the first conception when he says that: “it was necessary to make a revolution in the political regime (…) even in the field of the bourgeoisie’s political regimes, of the bourgeois state”.
The consequences of such a position are, for Trotsky, unavoidable: “In accordance with the first conception, on the order of the day is a bourgeois revolution and one must fix the place of the proletariat in it”.
Moreno, without falling into the stagist theory of Menshevism which is based on the necessity of a historical stage from the point of view of bourgeois economic development, nevertheless falls into a justified stagism, where according to him, for the development of the mobilization of the masses: a stage to “regain the freedoms of bourgeois democracy” is necessary.
According to this theory, the “anti-fascist revolution” is not an anti-feudal, bourgeois revolution. It is anti-capitalist, not proletarian but only democratic. That is to say, it is a “hybrid”, a revolution that is neither working class nor bourgeois, much like the “popular” revolution that Trotsky referred to in Italy.
In regards to the role of the proletariat in the “anti-fascist revolution”, if one follows the logic of Moreno, it would be limited to respecting the margins of a revolution “in the field…of the bourgeois state”. The programmatic consequences, if taken to their conclusion, could not be more serious: the open rupture with Trotskyism, with its strategy.
Those who do not distinguish a bourgeois-democratic regime from fascism, because both are forms of the dictatorship of capital, fall into an ultra-leftist characterization and a sectarian policy like that of Stalinism in the “Third Period”, with its theory of “Social-Fascism” that defined both the Social Democrats and Nazis as equally counterrevolutionary, and refused a workers’ united front with the first to fight the latter in the streets.
But one who holds that, as “the first step of the socialist revolution” we must make a revolution “in the arena of the political regimes of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois state” borders on reformism. Moreno falls into the opposite error to those that equate democracy with fascism: he sees them as two totally antagonistic regimes.
Here lies a conception that is foreign to Marxism and has points of contact with bourgeois sociology, which does not define states according to their class character (social content) but to their function (political form). For this conception, the essential distinction is not between proletarian and bourgeois states, but between “totalitarian” and “democratic” states. This is completely opposite to Marxism and its theory of the state: both the totalitarian regime that Moreno speaks of and bourgeois democracy are both forms of the dictatorship of capital.
This theory-program of a revolution limited to the political regime separates the task of defeating the fascist dictatorship from the fight to overthrow the bourgeois state, and thus renounces in advance the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the central knot in all the revisionism of Marxism. Therefore, it is an entirely stagist theory which liquidates, in its first stage, the fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat, an issue that remains posed after the fall of fascism, to a second stage.
Needless to say that this leads to capitulation to the course of “democratic reaction” with which the bourgeoisie diverts the mobilization of the masses and, as it did in Argentina after the fall of the dictatorship, recomposes the bourgeois state, understood as its repressive apparatus. In the case of fascism in Europe it would have led to the adoption, in fact, of the policy of the “anti-fascist front” alongside the bourgeoisies of the “democratic” imperialisms, the form acquired by the politics of the “popular front” extended worldwide, which Trotsky criticized Stalinism for with his famous phrase, “to fight against fascism in an alliance with imperialism is the same as to fight in an alliance with the devil against his claws or horns”.
Here it is necessary to dwell on the relation between the positions held by Moreno and the LIT and the policies of Trotskyism in Spain in 1936 and during the Second World War. Moreno applies the theory of the “democratic revolution” to both cases. Or rather, he adjusts reality to this theory.
In “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century” he said: “the Spanish civil war demonstrated to what extent the bourgeois democratic regime was antagonistic to Fascism, not just the working class and its organizations”.
“World War II presented, at a minimum, similar elements. Without developing the subject, we believe that we must seriously study whether it was not an attempt to extend the fascist imperialist counter-revolution worldwide, mainly defeating the Soviet Union, but also the European and American bourgeois-democratic regimes. This is not to say that World War II has not also had a profound content of inter-imperialist struggle. What we say is that we need to specify well, as in the Spanish civil war, which was the determining factor. Was the struggle of the fascist regime essentially against the USSR but also against bourgeois democracy? Or was it the economic factor, the fight between imperialism for control of the world market?” (10)
Later, in the same book, we read: “We will have to study whether the allied armies, in spite of themselves, did not also play a progressive role, since Hitler’s defeat was the most colossal revolutionary triumph in the history of mankind.” (11)
The Lessons of Spain
We must clarify what exactly it is that the Spanish revolution showed us. It is clear that Moreno suggests that “the determining factor” in Spain was the antagonism between the bourgeois democratic regime and fascism.
For Trotsky, “to what extent” was the bourgeois democratic regime “antagonistic to Fascism” in the Spain of 1936?
He says in 1937: “According to the Socialists and Stalinists, i.e., the Mensheviks of the first and second instances, the Spanish revolution was called upon to solve only its “democratic” tasks, for which a united front with the “democratic” bourgeoisie was indispensible. From this point of view, any and all attempts of the proletariat to go beyond the limits of bourgeois democracy are not only premature but also fatal. Furthermore, on the agenda stands not the revolution but the struggle against insurgent Franco”.
“Fascism, however, is not a feudal but bourgeois reaction. A successful fight against bourgeois reaction can be waged only with the forces and methods of the proletarian revolution. Menshevism, itself a branch of bourgeois thought, does not have and cannot have any inkling of these facts.” (12)
First, in relation to the Spanish Revolution, Trotsky held the same logic that we have already seen with regards to Italy: he fights against the concept of revolution by stages, against the idea of a revolution that does not go beyond bourgeois-democratic limits.
But, which was the “determining factor” in Spain? Was it not the armed struggle between the republic and fascism?
According to Trotsky, “Two irreconcilable programs thus confronted each other on the territory of republican Spain. On the one hand, the program of saving at any cost private property from the proletariat, and saving as far as possible democracy from Franco; on the other hand, the program of abolishing private property through the conquest of power by the proletariat. The first program expressed the interests of capital through the medium of the labor aristocracy, the top petty-bourgeois circles, and especially the Soviet bureaucracy. The second program translated into the language of Marxism the tendencies of the revolutionary mass movement, not fully conscious, but powerful. Unfortunately for the revolution, between the handful of Bolsheviks and the revolutionary proletariat there stood the counterrevolutionary wall of the Popular Front.” (13)
But, how are we to understand the confrontation between the fascist regime of Franco and the regime of the republic?
“For six years, its social setting was the growing onslaught of the masses against the regime of semi-feudal and bourgeois property. The need of defending this property by the most extreme measures threw the bourgeoisie into Franco’s arms. The republican government had promised the bourgeoisie to defend property by “democratic” measures, but revealed, especially in July 1936, its complete bankruptcy.” (14)
In conclusion, what did the Spanish revolution demonstrate?
“The Spanish revolution once again demonstrates that it is impossible to defend democracy against the methods of fascist reaction. And conversely, it is impossible to conduct a genuine struggle against fascism otherwise that through the methods of proletarian revolution”. (15)
The peculiarity of the Spanish revolution was that there were two camps, republican and fascist, that militarily confronted each other in a civil war. This is a “determining factor” for the tactics of revolutionaries. Obviously the Trotskyist policy was to be in the first ranks in the republican military camp against the fascist military camp of Franco. But it is clear that for Trotsky, in contrast to the Social Democrats and Stalinists, and with what Moreno thinks, in Spain the antagonism between the bourgeois democratic regime and fascism was subordinated to the antagonism between the bourgeois counterrevolution and the proletarian revolution. This is the “determining factor” of revolutionary strategy.
For this reason, while still taking part in it, the policies of Trotsky did not have one iota of confusion in what should be, for the working class and those fighting in the republican military camp, the goals of this civil war: “The conditions for victory of the masses in the civil war against the army exploiters are very simple in their essence”.
What was the first condition for Trotsky?
“The fighters of a revolutionary army must be clearly aware of the fact that they are fighting for their full social liberation and not for the reestablishment of the old (“democratic”) forms of exploitation.”
That is to say, to participate in the republican military camp with an independent strategy for the workers’ and socialist revolution.
Moreover, “The strategy of civil war must combine the rules of military art with the tasks of the social revolution.”
What did this mean for Trotsky?
“The revolutionary army must not only proclaim but also immediately realize in life the more pressing measures of social revolution in the provinces won by them: the expropriation of provisions, manufactured articles, and other stores on hand and the transfer of these to the needy; the redivision of shelter and housing in the interests of the toilers and especially of the families of the fighters; the expropriation of the land and agricultural inventory in the interests of the peasants; the establishment of workers’ control and soviet power in the place of the former bureaucracy”. (16)
As we can see, this is not a strategy of “democratic revolution” limited to the margins of “the political regime of the bourgeoisie, of the bourgeois state”.
What is the position of the different currents within the LIT?
Are they with Trotsky when he says that, even when there are camps militarily confronting each other and we participate in the republican military camp, the main antagonism is between the bourgeois counterrevolution and the proletarian revolution? Or are they with Moreno when he says that the “determining factor” is the antagonism between the fascist regime and the bourgeois democratic regime?
A World War of Regimes?
It is one thing is to say that in a state, such as Spain, where there was an armed confrontation between two camps, where there was a civil war where two types of regime confronted one another and where it was necessary to fight in one of the military camps, which is correct. It is a very different thing to transfer this situation onto a world scale.
Was the Second World War a “world war of regimes”? If so, of which state?
A regime is the political form that the social content acquires in a certain state. The state is established nationally, and in a civil war such as Spain’s it acquired the form, given by the republican leadership, of a war of different regimes within the same national state. The political regime is a lower superstructure to the state superstructure. A war of regimes presupposes a higher superstructure – a state – that contains it.
But there is no world state!! Lenin has already fought the anti-Marxist theory of Kautsky’s ultra-imperialism.
If the possibility exists, as raised by Moreno, of a world war of regimes, and that this was a determining factor in the Second World War, he is putting into question the Leninist definition of imperialism and its laws. Why? Because for Lenin, imperialism was not a world state which eliminated the struggles among states; on the contrary, imperialism exacerbated this as an expression of the confrontations among the different imperialist bourgeoisies for control over the colonies and the world market. That is, the state in the imperialist epoch not only plays the role of an organ of internal repression, but is also the apparatus of the different bourgeoisies for their war of robbery and conquest. It is this that Lenin based his forecast of an epoch of “wars and revolutions” on; while the theory of ultra-imperialism, a kind of world state, is based on the peaceful and reformist perspective of Kautsky.
The epoch of “wars and revolutions” as defined by Lenin, which presupposes inter-imperialist wars, was mediated during a stage: the reign of the world order of Yalta which consolidated the hegemony of American imperialism and its economic, political and military supremacy which had emerged from the Second World War. But one must not confuse the temporary hegemony of one imperialism with a ultra-imperialism or world state which eliminates wars between the different imperialisms. On the contrary, it was only thanks to the last war that American imperialism was able to consolidate its hegemony.
If one does not want to fall into the theory that fascism is a new type of social system which is distinct from capitalism, which is based on relations of production that are more reactionary than those of capitalism, a “slave type”, in order to justify being on the side of capitalism against this more reactionary “new property regime”; one must accept the Marxist definition of fascism as a concentrated expression of financial capital, of imperialist capitalism.
Only the first point of view can seriously sustain that “the allied armies, in spite of themselves … also played a progressive role”. On the contrary, the war of Germany against England, France and USA, was an inter-imperialist struggle, which in certain countries, nationally, did acquire the characteristics of a “fight of regimes” given that the armies of Nazi occupation could not impose the domination of German financial capital over other countries through bourgeois democracy. But always, the “determining factor” is defined by the social content of the struggle and defined on a world scale, only then can we specify the political forms that this fight acquires at the national level. The former defines the strategy; the latter, the tactic.
With his characterization of the Second World War, Moreno comes dangerously close to the Stalinist policy of support for “democratic” imperialism against fascist imperialism.
Even though he did not quite get there, Moreno’s position, at the minimum, leaves no stone unturned in regards to Trotsky’s policy on fascism, and that of the Fourth International during the World War, which, in spite of some national deviations, we Trotskyists define as having passed the test of war thanks to the theoretical-political legacy of its founders.
If this were not the case, the different factions of the LIT should respond to us, which foundations were the Fourth International reconstructed on in the post-war period? Certainly not on the basis of its founding documents. So, why the need to reconstruct the Fourth International? Is this why none of the LIT tendencies fight for the reconstruction of the Fourth International?
A Scandalous School
The book “Party Cadres’ School: Argentina 1984” was published by the MAS leadership in 1992, after the death of Nahuel Moreno. They contain a Foreword from the MAS national leader, Eugenio Greco. There he says: “we reaffirm that these works, which must be taken as part of a whole in which these works written by the author are decisive, are the most advanced that Moreno produced in regards to the theory of revolution and, therefore, are a fundamental point of reference for further progress towards new and superior theoretical developments”.
In them a whole range of anti-Trotskyist absurdities are put forward, which cover a great number of themes, even going so far to argue favorably for the participation of revolutionaries on the “democratic side” of a possible war between Alfonsin’s Argentina and Pinochet’s Chile. We are not going to argue against all these positions. We also consider that “the works written by the author are decisive”. In any case, if, as Greco says, “these works (…) are the most advanced that Moreno produced in regards to the theory of the revolution”, we are going to polemicize against this publication because layers of Trotskyist cadre have been and are currently being educated with this revisionist poison.
We particularly want to quote what is a truly scandalous assertion in this book.
“Here we have a serious political problem, tremendous (…) It seems that the fact of the capitalist counterrevolution has restated the need that we have to have a democratic revolution. And ignoring that what arises in the developed countries where there are counterrevolutionary regimes is also a democratic revolution, is maximalism; it’s as serious as ignoring the bourgeois-democratic revolution in backward countries. (…) If correct, we need to change the entire formulation of the Theses of Permanent Revolution. It seems to me that it’s correct and that Trotsky was aiming there”.
“If correct, it changes our entire strategy in regard to the opportunist parties, and in good measure in regard to the bourgeois parties that oppose the counterrevolutionary regime. As a step towards the socialist revolution, we’re in favor of the arrival of a bourgeois regime completely different [from the counterrevolutionary regime]. Just as we were in favor of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and we said it was different from the other, [the socialist revolution], that had to be done, the Tsar had to be overthrown, which was a specific bourgeois democratic task, we need to discuss whether there is now a specific bourgeois democratic task, which is to overthrow the counterrevolutionary regime so it can come, at least, a bourgeois regime”. (17)
Here the rupture with Trotskyism is quite evident.
“If correct [the theory of democratic revolution] changes our entire strategy in regard to the opportunist parties, and in good measure in regard to the bourgeois parties that oppose the counterrevolutionary regime” it says. This is a wholesale attack on the strategy, the program and – if put into practice – to the Trotskyist party as an independent party of the proletariat. This directly proposes a conciliatory attitude of revolutionaries to “opportunist” … and “bourgeois” parties!!!
From the letter to the Italian left oppositionists, mentioned earlier, we quote (if there is need of such a quotation in a discussion among Trotskyists) the following: “What in the long run is the Antifascist Concentration? Foreseeing the fall of the fascist state by an uprising of the proletariat and in general of all the oppressed masses, the Concentration is preparing to arrest this movement, to paralyse it, and to thwart it in order to pass off the victory of the renovated counter-revolution as a supposed victory of a democratic bourgeois revolution. If this dialectic of the living social forces is lost sight for a single moment, the risk is run of getting inextricably entangled and of swerving off the right road. I believe there cannot be the slightest misunderstanding between us on this score.” (our emphasis) (18)
Trotsky leaves us no doubt as to what our attitude must be towards the “anti-fascist” bourgeoisie.
What strategy does the factions of the LIT hold in the face of the “anti-fascist” bourgeoisie? That of Trotsky or that of Moreno?
And what of the “the opportunist parties … that oppose the counterrevolutionary regime”? Trotsky clearly defines the danger of the role of the opportunist party par excellence in fascist Italy, the Social Democracy, at a time when the official leadership of the Communist Party (Stalinist) affirmed that they had disappeared.
“Fascism has not liquidated the social democracy but has, on the contrary, preserved it. In the eyes of the masses, the social democrats do not bear the responsibility for the regime, whose victims they are in part. This wins them new sympathy and strengthens the old.” And further: “Only outright fools or traitors would want to instil the idea in the proletarian vanguard of Italy that the Italian social democracy can no longer play the role that the German social democracy did in the revolution of 1918.” That is to say, that for Trotsky the opportunist party would perform the same role in fascist Italy that it did in 1918 Germany. Let us recall: “it was a proletarian revolution decapitated by the Social Democrats”.
And he concludes: “What is more, we cannot forget that since 1920 ten full years have elapsed, and since the advent of fascism eight years. The children who were ten and twelve years old in 1920-22, and who have witnessed the activities of the fascists, today comprise the new generation of workers and peasants who will fight heroically against fascism, but who lack political experience. The communists will come into contact with the full mass movement only during the revolution itself and, under the most favorable circumstances, will require months before they can expose and demolish the social democracy which, I repeat, fascism has not liquidated but on the contrary has preserved.” (our emphasis) (19)
We honestly do not understand the basis behind Moreno’s assumption that “Trotsky was aiming” in the direction of a conclusion that “changes our entire strategy in regard to the opportunist parties”. The policies of Trotsky pointed instead to a strategy that would “expose and demolish the social democracy”, which of course included, the tactic of the workers’ united front for confronting fascism in the streets and with the weapons.
We can prove by looking at Argentina just what Trotsky was pointing to. In this case it was not an opportunist but a directly bourgeois party, the Radical Party, which was truly preserved and was in no way liquidated by the military dictatorship. The new generations awakened to political life in the fight against the dictatorship, knew nothing of Balbin’s anti-worker declarations in 1976 about “the factory guerrilla” and his public call for a coup. These people were maybe ten or twelve at that time. The UCR (Unión Cívica Radical – Radical Civic Union) of Alfonsin changed in 1982, when the dictatorship fell and after the Malvinas defeat, into the principal instrument of “democratic reaction”; it recomposed the bourgeois state, diverted these new generations towards pacifism and, later, returned the favor back to the Armed Forces “preserving” them with laws that prevented them from being charged and judged for genocide. These generations, this time, should remember that experience.
Do the factions of the LIT agree with Trotsky and his strategy to “expose and demolish” the opportunist parties under fascism and military dictatorships? Or are they with Moreno when he says that this “changes our entire strategy in regard to the opportunist parties”?
A Rupture with Lenin
It is evident that the quotation from the “Cadres School” not only repudiates Trotsky’s policy towards fascism which is guided by his Theory of Permanent Revolution. It is also an open rupture with Lenin, not only with the Lenin of 1917 after the “April Thesis”, but also the Lenin of 1905, the “stagist” Lenin who still considered theoretically that after the revolution against the Czar that a first stage would follow, prior to the dictatorship of the proletariat, in the form of a supposed “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”.
The revolutionary events in Russia demonstrated that “the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”, which, as Trotsky says, “… deliberately retained a certain algebraic quality, which had to make way for more precise arithmetical quantities in the process of historical experience”; did not materialize except as a “dictatorship of the proletariat that leads the peasant masses behind it”, just as it came to pass in October under Bolshevik leadership, and later formulated by Trotsky in the Thesis of the Permanent Revolution. (20).
The first proletarian revolution has already demonstrated that Moreno’s assertion that “there is a bourgeois democratic revolution different from the socialist revolution” is false. They were not “different”, meaning independent stages, but combined in the one revolution, the triumph of the dictatorship of the proletariat: “The democratic revolution grows over directly into the socialist revolution and thereby becomes a permanent revolution.” (21)
Well then, even on this Lenin was absolutely clear that this first revolution, which according to him would have a bourgeois-democratic character and not a socialist one, could not be made together with the liberal bourgeoisie and its Kadet party.
For Lenin, the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia was not only a question of “overthrowing the Czar”.
Moreno says: “the Czar had to be overthrown, which was a specific bourgeois democratic task”, and from there he makes an analogy of the democratic revolution in Russia with the fight for overthrowing a fascist dictatorship, saying that “to overthrow the counterrevolutionary regime so it can become, albeit still a bourgeois regime” is also a specific bourgeois democratic task.
This is, to the delight of the SR, a long way from an “exaltation” of the October Revolution. It is direct falsification of the Russian revolution.
The only ones to put forward the question of “the Czar had to be overthrown … so it can become, albeit still a bourgeois regime”, like Moreno does, were the Mensheviks: “the Mensheviks understood the bourgeois revolution principally as a liberal-constitutional reform”, says Trotsky in “The Permanent Revolution” (22)
The truly “specific” bourgeois democratic task of the Russian Revolution was the question of the land in a backward and primarily peasant country. It was obvious that the solution to all the problems of the Russian masses, and above all that of the land, was the overthrow of the Czar. Lenin did not discuss only how to conquer the formal democratic freedoms crushed by the Czarist autocracy, but, and fundamentally, around a structural task of the bourgeois democratic revolution: the solution to the agrarian question, the liquidation of the landlord class and the revolutionary transformation of land ownership.
As Trotsky pointed out: “Lenin attacked the agrarian problem, which affected the vital interests of the overwhelming majority of the population and at the same time constituted the basic problem of the capitalist market, with a truly revolutionary boldness. Since the liberal bourgeoisie, which confronts the worker as an enemy, is intimately bound by innumerable ties to large landed property, the genuine democratic liberation of the peasantry can be realised only by the revolutionary co-operation of the workers and peasants. According to Lenin, their joint uprising against the old society must, if victorious, lead to the establishment of the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’”. (23)
For that, the formula of the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”, even when it was “algebraic”, i.e. did not establish who was to lead the dictatorship, the workers or the peasants; did point to the reciprocal relationships between the proletariat, the peasantry and the bourgeoisie: the revolutionary alliance of the first two against the liberal bourgeoisie.
For this reason, even with an incorrect theory, Lenin had a revolutionary policy and was able to correct his “stagist” strategy in April 1917, for he always followed a policy of class independence for the proletariat and the separation of the peasantry from the influence of the bourgeoisie. And it was precisely Lenin’s irreconcilable attitude toward the Kadets and the “anti-Czarist” liberal bourgeoisie that divided the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia, and was refracted in the discussion about what type of party: a centralized party for the strategy of the seizure of state power, or a loose one for the organization of the proletariat as a partner to the “anti-Czarist” liberal bourgeoisie. If we have to once again insist on “the Lessons of October” it is not because of pedantry or academic goals, it is because revisionism has found its way to 1917.
Which side are the different factions of the LIT on? Are they with Lenin and Trotsky and their irreconcilable attitude to the “anti-fascist” and “anti-Czarist” bourgeoisie under a dictatorship, or with Moreno and his “changes [to] our entire strategy in regard to … the bourgeois parties that oppose the counterrevolutionary regime”?
Our Internationalist Faction calls for the putting in place of an independent strategy for the proletariat in all circumstances, and the repudiation of these anti-Trotskyist affirmations with which new layers of revolutionaries have been and are being educated in. There must not be the least misunderstanding in this regard.
If while Moreno was alive this was not taken to its ultimate conclusion with regards to program and political practice, after his death it has become, at the minimum, the theoretical cover for so much of the opportunist deviation that has been and is being committed by various sections of the LIT.
Is it not this quote, which made the “school”, the one that is the cover for Convergência Socialista (Socialist Convergence) from Brazil, which acted as the left wing of the “anti-Collor” bourgeoisie in the mobilizations of 1992? Is it not affirmations such as this that justified the “Plazas del NO” or the capitulations to the “anti-Menemist” bourgeois opposition made by the Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS – Movement for Socialism) in Argentina?
Our call for the construction of a tendency for Trotskyism in the LIT must start with the total removal of these positions which, in turn, are the logical consequence of the anti-Trotskyist revision of the theory of Permanent Revolution.
An Objectivist Theory of Revolution
At the beginning of the century, the Mensheviks, and later on the Stalinists, upheld the inevitability of the need to pass through a first bourgeois democratic stage in the revolution, which was historically necessary from the point of view of bourgeois development in backward countries. The Mensheviks held from 1905 that the socialist revolution in Russia was not on the agenda until a stage of capitalist development which liquidated the feudal remnants and strengthened the proletariat had occurred, therefore: a first stage was necessary to achieve the economic conditions of advanced countries, such as Germany or England, and their political conditions, a bourgeois-democratic republic. In this first stage the proletariat was to play a subordinate role to the liberal bourgeoisie.
The Stalinists, who Trotsky called ‘the Menshevism of today’, later extended this theory to the world stage by distinguishing between ‘mature and non-mature countries for the socialist revolution’, placing colonial and semi-colonial countries in the ‘non-mature’ category.
Both based their stagist theory on a mechanical logic: a country with a delayed bourgeois development, with feudal remnants or a colony of imperialism, is not mature enough for socialist revolution and so requires a “first stage” of bourgeois-democratic revolution where the proletariat follows the leadership of the bourgeoisie.
The Theory of Permanent Revolution explicitly fights against this distinction between mature and non-mature countries, for it places colonial and semi-colonial countries in the epoch of world imperialist domination and socialist revolution: “Insofar as capitalism has created a world market, a world division of labour and world productive forces, it has also prepared world economy as a whole for socialist transformation”. (24).
In this way, the bourgeois-democratic tasks, primarily structural democratic ones such as land to the peasants and national liberation from imperialist subjugation, which the bourgeoisie could not and is not able to resolve in those countries, can only be resolved by the proletariat imposing its dictatorship by means of socialist revolution.
Moreno’s “theory of revolution” that has been adopted by the LIT starts from the following aspect of the theory of Permanent Revolution: any democratic task in a semi-colonial country is anti-capitalist due to the economical basis of that semi-colony, since it occurs in the context of the capitalist world economy, and is therefore objectively socialist. So far, so good.
But from here, and from the post-war revolutions where counterrevolutionary parties expropriated the bourgeoisie, Moreno makes the conclusion that “… facts have demonstrated that, in the post-war period, what Permanent Revolution said would happen did not occur: that there would only be socialist revolutions if they were made by the working class led by a Bolshevik party. This was a tremendous error because there were processes of permanent revolution that expropriated the bourgeoisie, that made a workers’ and socialist revolution without being led by the working class and without a revolutionary communist party. That is, the Trotsky’s two subjects, the social and the political, missed their historical appointment … Today we have to state that it is no longer mandatory for the working class and a revolutionary Marxist party to lead the process of democratic revolution towards the socialist revolution” (25).
This is to say that Trotsky’s “tremendous error” was structuring the theory of the Permanent Revolution “around the subject and not around the objective process”.
How to Characterize a Revolution?
A methodological critique similar to that of Moreno – although arguing in 1928 that the revolution in China would be bourgeois democratic – was made by the Russian oppositionist Preobrazhensky when he said to Trotsky that “Your fundamental error lies in the fact that you determine the character of a revolution on the basis of who makes it, which class, i.e., by the effective subject, while you seem to assign secondary importance to the objective social content of the process.” (26)
Moreno repeated again and again that he agreed with Preobrazhensky in his critique of “this central knot” in the thought of Trotsky.
Leon Trotsky polemicized with Preobrazhensky around the question of the tasks of the Chinese revolution, and in our opinion answers such logic: “How to characterize a revolution? By the class which achieves it or by the social content lodged in it? There is a theoretical trap lodged in counterposing the former to the latter in such a general form (…) The November revolution in Germany was the beginning of the proletarian revolution but it was checked at its very first steps by the petty bourgeois leadership, and succeeded only in achieving a few things unfulfilled by the bourgeois revolution. What are we to call the November revolution: bourgeois or proletarian? Both the former and the latter would be incorrect. The place of the October revolution will be determined when we both give the mechanics of this revolution and determine its results. There will be no contradiction in this case between the mechanics (understanding under it, of course, not only the motive force but also the leadership) and the results: both the former and the latter are “sociologically” indeterminate in character (…) The gist of the matter lies precisely in the fact that although the political mechanics of the revolution depends in the last analysis upon an economic base (not only national but international) it cannot, however, be deduced with abstract logic from this economic base. In the first place, the base itself is very contradictory and its “maturity” does not allow of bald statistical determination; secondly, the economic base as well as the political situation must be approached not in the national but in the international framework (…) thirdly, the class struggle and its political expression, unfolding on the economic foundations, also have their own imperious logic of development, which cannot be leaped over.” (27)
Let us dwell on this quote. How must a revolution be characterized according to Trotsky?
The “social content” of the revolution can only be defined once we establish “the mechanics of this revolution and determine its results”. That is, it cannot be deduced beforehand starting from an “abstract logic from this economic base”; so it is “’sociologically’ indeterminate in character”. That is: bourgeois democratic tasks do not determine a bourgeois revolution with a bourgeois leadership (the October revolution demonstrated this), but it will depend on the struggle of classes and parties: the results of the struggle among the living forces of revolution and counterrevolution, national and international, and their “political expression”, that is, their leaderships.
This is why he says in his letter to Preobrazhensky: “I take the liberty to put the question to you: what would you call the Hungarian revolution of 1919? You will say: proletarian. Why? Didn’t the social “content” of the Hungarian revolution prove to be capitalist! You will reply: this is the social content of the counter-revolution. Correct. Apply this now to China. The “social content” under the dictatorship of the proletariat (based on an alliance with the peasantry) can remain during a certain period of time not socialist as yet, but the road to bourgeois development from the dictatorship of the proletariat can lead only through counter-revolution. For this reason, so far as the social content is concerned, it is necessary to say: ‘We shall wait and see’”. (28)
In this way Trotsky answers Preobrazhensky who gave the future Chinese revolution a bourgeois-democratic character which he deduced from its backward economical base. That is, he started with the “abstract logic from this economic base” in order to determine the “social content” of the revolution. Just like the Mensheviks in Russia did at the beginning of the century or, more precisely, like the “old Bolsheviks” in April 1917, who saw as necessary a stage of “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” whose social content would not surpass the democratic tasks, that is, an intermediate stage to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Trotsky’s response is that this position can no longer be held, not only due to the test of truth that the Russian revolution signified, but also because of the different experiences that led to the failure of the second Chinese revolution in 1927.
Trotsky continues: “What then should a Chinese communist say to himself under these conditions? Can he really proceed to reason as follows: the social content of the Chinese revolution can only be bourgeois (as proved by such and such charts). Therefore we must not pose ourselves the task of the dictatorship of the proletariat; the social content prescribes, in the most extreme case, a coalition dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. But for a coalition (in question here, of course, is a political coalition, and not a “sociological” alliance of classes) a partner is needed. Moscow taught me that the Kuomintang is such a partner. However, no Left Kuomintang materialized. What to do? Obviously, there only remains for me, a Chinese communist, to console myself with the idea that “it is impossible to say today whether the Chinese petty bourgeoisie will be able to create any sort of parties” … or whether it will not. Suppose it suddenly does? A Chinese communist who reasons along such a prescription would cut the throat of the Chinese revolution.” (29)
For Trotsky it was a question of the conviction of the Communist Party: “The third Chinese revolution can come to a triumphant conclusion only with the dictatorship of the proletariat under the leadership of the communist party (…) And so far as the tempo with which we shall have to build socialism in China is concerned, this – “we shall wait and see”.
Just like Preobrazhensky, Moreno also starts with “abstract logic from this economic base” of the revolution, then turns it on its head. Preobrazhensky, basing himself on the underdeveloped national economy of China, says that the bourgeois-democratic tasks correspond to an inevitable bourgeois-democratic revolution. Moreno, basing himself on the mature international economy that is ripe for socialist revolution, and that any democratic revolution runs up against capitalism, says that the revolution is inevitably socialist. For the former, the revolution is sociologically determined nationally; for the latter, it is determined internationally.
Both Moreno and Preobrazhensky, because they directly deduce the social content of the revolution from its economic base, make the same analogous error. They both downgrade the necessity of the revolutionary party to lead the worker-peasant alliance against the bourgeois and petty bourgeois leaderships that would only lead the revolution to defeat. This is the common base of the attack by both Preobrazhensky and Moreno on the supposed ‘subjectivism of Trotsky’.
The political consequences are also analogous.
Preobrazhensky falls in behind the politics of the Comintern in China: as the revolution was bourgeois-democratic the Chinese proletariat must seek an ally in the “left wing” of the Kuomintang or wait for the upsurge of an independent peasant party.
Moreno, in acting in the same way of falsely counterposing the social content of the revolution to the class that leads it – “a theoretical trap” according to Trotsky – converts it from an objectively socialist revolution to an automatically socialist one. With that, he becomes an objectivist, separating the tasks of a revolution from the class and leadership who makes it. As Trotsky said to Radek, his contradictor, in “The Permanent Revolution”: “Radek has abstracted himself so violently from ‘political institutions’ that he has forgotten the ‘most fundamental thing’ in a revolution, namely, who leads it and who seizes power.” (30)
Moreno, on affirming that “… it is no longer mandatory for the working class and a revolutionary Marxist party to lead the process of democratic revolution towards the socialist revolution …” assigns to the peasantry a revolutionary character independent from the working class and embellishes the role of counterrevolutionary parties such as that of Stalinism.
From here, it is only a step to the theory that the revolution can be made by ‘a group of determined men’, a step which the MAS leadership took in 1990 (see Correo Internacional No. 40 on China). Every objectivist ends up capitulating to any subject.
A False History of the Post-war Revolutions and Counterrevolutions
The objectivist theory we have previously seen is based on the objective and subjective conditions of the revolutions of 1943-48 period. Based on this, Moreno has made an incorrect revision of the essential aspects of the Trotskyist theory-program of Permanent Revolution, and it has led the LIT into a blind alley. In order to justify this they are obliged to make a “particular” interpretation of the history of post-war revolutions that distorts the facts.
Moreno sustains that the “the theoretical possibility that, under the influence of completely exceptional circumstances (war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.), the petty bourgeois parties, including the Stalinists, may go further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie”, pointed to in the Transitional Program, was the central characteristic of these post-war revolutionary processes.
From there, in 1982, he defines in “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”: “The new revolutionary stage, which begins with the defeat of the Nazi army in Stalingrad and which opened a stage of triumphant revolutions that extends to the present (…) We have called this stage one of “imminent revolution”, unlike the stage opened up by the Russian revolution, which limited its effects to some countries in Europe and Orient, in this one, the revolution erupts, and occasionally succeeds, in any part of the globe …”. (31)
As we can clearly see, this is not an “exaltation” of the October revolution but an exaltation of the triumphs that gave us the new post-war deformed workers’ states.
Exception and Norm
Moreno affirms that what Trotsky foresaw as an exception was in fact the rule in the post-war period. The facts demonstrate that this is completely false.
Where the theoretical possibility of the Transitional Program has been generalized, it was for the period of 1943-48, not the whole post-war period. This period of 1943-48 was truly exceptional because it combined an enormous mass upsurge due to the resistance against fascism with the extreme weakness that the principal imperialisms found themselves in, the product of the war in the framework of a deep economic crisis (hyperinflation) and unlimited hardship for the masses (famine and food rationing for the proletariat and the middle classes). To the previous conditions contemplated in Trotsky’s hypothesis (“war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.”) was added the paradoxical and unforeseeable element of Stalinism, which signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, that in spite of Stalin’s disastrous military policy which cost the lives of 20 million people in the USSR, found itself in the position of the executioner of Nazism, which strengthened it and gave it increasing prestige within the mass movement and with its Red Army now occupying Eastern Europe.
This, like every exception, was not the product of just one element, but a group of combined conditions, that is, not one event but in a framework such as that which Trotsky correctly defined.
The principal European imperialisms were left destroyed by the war and the strength of their bourgeoisies weakened. This gave rise to a situation where those imperialisms defeated in war were placed under zones of influence in Eastern Europe and part of Western Europe (southern Europe): German imperialism, firstly, as well as Italian imperialism. Even when they were on the winning side, France and England were left very weakened by the excessive war effort which explains, in the latter’s case, the opening up of exceptional conditions for Mahatma Ghandi to become the liberator of India, the main English colony.
Italy, France and Greece saw this weakness combine with the existence of armed resistance led by mass CPs. In the East, the countries delayed bourgeois development saw the combination the destruction of their states by the Nazi invasion with the occupation of the Red Army, and even then, the Stalinists refused to carry out expropriations until 1948. In the case of Yugoslavia, where a workers’ state was won against the will of Moscow, there was a civil war against the collaborationist “Ustashi” and insurrectional resistance against the Nazi occupation. The Chinese revolution of 1948-49 combined the defeat in the war of the principal imperialist oppressor, Japan, with the existence of a mass peasant guerrilla army led by Mao, allied to Moscow, and the impossibility of intervention by the United States, due to its immediate post-war crisis due to the workers’ upsurge at home and the uprising of US troops around the whole world in opposition to the continuation of the war. In addition, the attentions of the US were focused on the reconstruction of Europe.
Indochina, North Korea, North Vietnam were the shockwave that flowed from the Chinese revolution.
This period of 1943-48 as we – summarily and no doubt insufficiently – describe, opened up the exceptional conditions that were caused by the greatest world war that humanity has ever suffered, and it was these conditions that obliged the Stalinists to “go further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie”. In this period, what Trotsky did not rule out as exceptional in certain countries, which gave us an exceptional situation at a generalized, world level, saw the proletariat and masses of the world obtain great conquests: the new “deformed workers’ states” of China, Eastern Europe and Korea.
This occurred because there had never been such favorable objective conditions for the defeat of imperialism which, to use the expression of the LIT’s Thesis from 1985, was the closest thing to a “paper tiger”.
But at the same time, in this situation Stalinism also showed us its most treacherous counterrevolutionary role, liquidating the European revolution, disarming the maquis and partisan resistance in France and Italy, the guerrillas in Greece; and using all the weight and prestige of the mass CPs to place the workers’ movements at the service of capitalist reconstruction in the centrally important countries, the essential condition that made it possible for the capital provided by the Marshall Plan to allow for the stabilization of capitalism in Europe and open up the period of economic “boom”. In the countries where Stalinism commenced its expropriations, deformed workers’ states were imposed which drowned out any attempt to independently organize the proletariat and the masses.
In short, this exceptional objective situation at the end of the war or, in other words, the greatest historical possibility until now, of the movement of workers and the oppressed peoples of the world finally putting imperialism into stalemate, the latter was able to survive because it had the support of the strongest counterrevolutionary leadership that has ever been known.
That is, the betrayal of Stalinism during the period of 1943-48 was a thousand times worse than that of Social Democracy in 1914 (when it dragged the proletariat into the First World War) or that which Social Democracy committed in combination with Stalinism during the previous defeats of the revolutions in France and Spain (which could have stopped the Second World War) because this betrayal took place when the mass movement was in an offensive and not a defensive situation.
That is why we say that in this situation, precisely in the period of 1943-48, due to the exceptional objective conditions for the world revolution, is where the basic premise of the Transitional Program that “the historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership” acquires greater, not lesser force.
The Norm During Yalta
This exceptional period ended in 1948 with the consolidation of the Pacts of Yalta and Potsdam between Stalinism and imperialism, the most counterrevolutionary agreement that the world has ever known, which saw the Soviet bureaucracy now strengthened (inside the USSR, in control of the workers’ movement in the West, and as an interstate system in the East) and acting as co-guarantor to this new world order.
We are not suggesting that Stalinism was more counterrevolutionary than Hitler; we are referring to a worldwide pact of cooperation between Stalinism and imperialism to curb revolution on a magnitude never seen before; superior even to the services the bureaucracy had rendered to the bourgeoisie in the previous years, such as the Laval-Stalin pact or the betrayal of the Spanish revolution.
This agreement not only froze the relationship of forces in Europe, liquidating the revolution in the advanced economies in exchange for a buffer zone or glacis for the USSR to protect it from both the pressures of imperialism and the processes of revolution; but as a by-product it also transferred the revolution to the periphery. There it is demonstrated that the norm in the colonies and semi-colonies was that of revolutionary processes that were aborted, diverted and driven to defeat by both Stalinists and bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalist movements. Stalinism blackmailed, diverted, paralyzed, and in the majority of cases, beheaded the revolutionary processes that opened up in the colonies and semi-colonies, as well as those during the 1968-74 upsurge of labour struggles in the West. In opposition to what Moreno suggests, this was the norm based on the agreements of Yalta.
We challenge all the currents within the LIT to factually demonstrate just how it is that 1943 “opened a stage of triumphant revolutions that extends to the present” as it is affirmed in “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”. If this is the case, it must mean that Moreno and the LIT deny the following thesis of the Permanent Revolution: “Whichever were the first episodic stages of the revolution in the different countries, the realization of the revolutionary alliance of proletariat with the peasant masses it is only conceivable under the political leadership of the proletarian vanguard organized in the Communist Party…”.
Let us assess the facts after 1948.
The de-colonization processes in Africa: the 1952-54 insurrection of the Mau Mau in the former British colony of Kenya and the Patricio Lumumba national liberation movement in 1958-60 in the former Belgian colony of the Congo only achieved formal independence as semi-colonies from their former oppressors. In Algeria in 1963, where a “workers’ and peasants’ government” arose, saw the later reversion to the reconstruction of a semi-colonial bourgeois state. Other illustrative examples include the Portuguese colonies in Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, where the petty bourgeois movements that led the fight for national liberation, such as the Angolan MPLA, not only failed to set up a deformed workers’ state, but did not even reach Trotsky’s exceptional variant of breaking with the bourgeoisie. Even Moreno correctly called these “Stalinist bourgeois regimes”. The same happened in Ethiopia.
In the semi-colonial world there were two types of processes. First, there were the “classic” revolutions that followed the Russian “model”; there were the defeated proletarian revolutions in the semi-colonies such as Bolivia in 1952 caused by the betrayal of bourgeois nationalist MNR; there was Chile in 1973, where Stalinism had a mass presence and defeated a process that included embryonic soviets in the “industrial cordons”; similarly in Uruguay in 1973, where the CP led a wave of strikes and factory occupations into a dead end. Second, there were the popular or peasant-based processes and non-proletarian leaderships such as those in Nicaragua and Iran in 1979, which did not break with the bourgeoisie; in the first case, not only because of the class inability of the FSLN, but also because of the decisive influence of the Stalinism of Moscow and Havana.
This, not to mention other examples where Stalinism and the petty bourgeois leaderships drove revolutions to failure such as that in Indonesia which ended up with the massacre of hundreds of thousands of communists, the betrayal of the revolution in El Salvador, and Stalinist support to the Arab bourgeois nationalists in Libya, Syria and the Ba’ath Party in Iraq which, together with the recognition of the state of Israel, betrayed the cause of national liberation for Palestine.
In the upsurge of labour struggles during 1968-74, despite the end of the post-war “boom” and the beginning of the crisis of the bureaucracy, Stalinism continued to provide enormous services to the world bourgeoisie: betraying the month-long general strike against De Gaulle’s government in France in May 1968, at the same time preventing this upsurge of the western proletariat from filtering into the workers’ states, bloody suppressing the “Prague Spring” uprising in Czechoslovakia.
Even though imperialism suffered its worst military defeat in Vietnam, Stalinism in conjunction with Social Democracy once again played a first rate counterrevolutionary role in Portugal in 1974. In this revolution, which Moreno defined as “classic” in the sense of the “model” of the Russian revolution, the role played by Stalinism under the conditions of Yalta was seen in synthesis: leading to the defeat of a process which combined the liberation of the colonies – Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau – with socialist revolution in the metropolis.
To this we must add the sea of defeats for the proletarian revolution, the mass uprisings in the workers’ states (besides that already mentioned in Czechoslovakia): the attempts at political revolution that were directly crushed by the bureaucracy as in Berlin in 1953, where workers marched under the banner of the “metalworkers’ government”, the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and later, Poland in 1980-1981, where the mobilization which posed the possibility of Solidarity seizing power was liquidated by the Jaruzelski coup that was supported by imperialism.
We will not exhaust these examples, but this brief summary demonstrates that it was not the exceptional possibility of the Transitional Program that prevailed during the post-war period as Moreno suggests. The error made by Moreno is to generalize for the whole post-war period (“… from 1943 … to the present”) that which was decisive for only a short period from 1943 to 1948, before the consolidation of the world order of Yalta. An exceptional situation which, due to the existence of the world Stalinist apparatus, only reached the level of expropriations in secondary countries and in a brutally contradictory way.
The few national exceptions to this world norm of betrayals and defeats are the Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions. In Cuba, due to the pressure of imperialism, the Castroist leadership was forced to expropriate. The revolution in Vietnam was the product of a war where a semi-colony militarily defeated imperialism, helped by the anti-war mobilizations in USA, something which was contained in the theoretical possibility of the Transitional Program.
The Cuban or Vietnamese exceptions cannot compensate for the dozens of defeats in the semi-colonies from 1948 up to now, and they do not give any factual basis for the revision of the theory of Permanent Revolution, on the contrary they confirm it.
Clearly, you cannot make a law or a theoretical generalization from these isolated events, as Moreno does when he says: “ Today we have to state that it is no longer mandatory for the working class and a revolutionary Marxist party to lead the process of democratic revolution towards the socialist revolution …“
Moreno’s incorrect revision of Trotskyist theory is in no way able to interpret reality: the absence of revolutionary parties at the head of these post-war revolutionary processes was the central cause for the enormous majority of them being defeated.
We do not sustain that the liberation of a colony from its imperialist oppression, such as Africa’s decolonization or fall of dictatorships such as that of Somoza in Nicaragua, signifies defeats to the mass movements; on the contrary, they are partial triumphs, by-products of the revolutionary struggle, the maximum that the heroic struggle of the masses can achieve without proletarian leadership, or in spite of their counterrevolutionary leaderships. Let us remember we are arguing with a conception saying that there have been “triumphant revolutions” from the point of view of the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, from the “… process of democratic revolution to socialist revolution“, and that it is apparently not necessary for either the working class or the revolutionary party to lead them. We are speaking about defeats of the proletarian and socialist revolution, defeats that Moreno defines as triumphs.
For us, as a rule, Thesis Four of the theory of Permanent Revolution reveals this absolutely correct, and it is this that Moreno’s “theory of revolution” liquidates. Let us recall it: “Whichever were the first episodic stages of the revolution in the different countries, the realization of the revolutionary alliance of proletariat with the peasant masses it is only conceivable under the political leadership of the proletarian vanguard organized in the Communist Party …”
Anyone that upholds the contrary are denying the facts of fifty years of class struggle, the objective function of which is to apologise for the role played by Stalinists and petty bourgeoisie guerrilla armies.
Which position do the various factions of the LIT hold? Are they with the Thesis of the Permanent Revolution or with the Thesis of Moreno that “it is not necessary for the working class and the revolutionary party to lead” which he justifies with a “fantastic” version of the history of revolutions over the last half century?
The foundations of Moreno’s mistake are in the total incomprehension of the agreements between imperialism and bureaucracy, which made way for this world order that we have described above. This was a characteristic of the majority of the Trotskyist movement in the post-war period.
The discussion between Moreno and the Lambertist leader Stephane Just is well known in the Trotskyist movement. In them one can synthesize the unilateralism that the Trotskyist movement was a victim of. For Stephane Just, counterrevolution continued to advance from the defeat of Hitler up until 1953, because the counterrevolutionary leadership of Stalinism was strengthened more and more; and the situation only began to change into a revolutionary one in 1953 after the workers of Berlin rose up against the bureaucracy in East Germany. It is quite evident that this is a subjectivist and sectarian position: Just did not take into account the Chinese revolution, which had obtained a workers’ state in the most populous country on the planet, and the conquests that the new workers’ states of Eastern European signified. It was also a position that did not interpret reality: in 1953 Europe was already stabilized, the product of the same element he took onboard, the strengthening of Stalinism that allowed for the Yalta agreements of 1948.
We are with Moreno and those who correctly argued against Just at that time, determining the periodization of the world situation by essentially objective factors. But we believe that, later, Moreno falls into an unilateralism when he abstracts the objective factor and gives it an unlimited value, without seeing the influence of the subjective factor (the counterrevolutionary leadership) on these same conquests: today we can see just what level of influence the bureaucracy had as it destroys the workers’ states.
“Opportunist thought and sectarian thought have this feature in common: they extract from the complexity of circumstances and forces one or two factors that appear to them to be the most important (and sometimes are, to be sure), isolate them from the complex reality, and attribute to them unlimited and unrestricted powers.” (32)
All the attacks on the theory of Permanent Revolution, not just from Stalinism but also those coming from revisionism within the Trotskyist movement, are based on the rise of the new workers’ states in the post-war period under Stalinist or guerilla army leadership, the deformed workers’ states.
From then there emerged those on one side, those who adapted to these events by denying any need for the Fourth International and Trotskyist parties, with the “Pabloist” current as its most consistent, liquidationist wing. On the other side, there were those that denied the post-war revolutions because they normatively considered only the subjects of the theory of Permanent Revolution. Some, objectivists, highlighted these conquests of the world working class and in doing so minimized the “deformed” character of those new workers’ states; others, subjectivists, denied their “workers’ state” character. Both anti-dialectical conceptions prevented the understanding of concrete reality and the need to take from this a policy and a program for the building of the Fourth International and of Trotskyist parties. Some yielded to Stalinism or the non-proletarian leaderships that led revolutions; others liquidated the essential part of the program: the unconditional defense of the conquests of the world proletariat.
The consequence of this false interpretation of the history of the “revolutions and counterrevolutions of the Twentieth Century” is, as we have already seen, the violation of the essential aspects of the theory of Permanent Revolution.
A theory that, as a necessary condition, must help to explain the facts, but is also a theory-program as well.
It is in this sense that we must also analyze the exceptions, those where the Stalinists and petty bourgeoisie went “further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie”, and the political consequences of those revolutions for the world proletariat.
The triumphs achieved with these post-war workers’ states, far from being “colossal” were in fact extremely contradictory, they were in no way “economic” for the working class, for they deepened the crisis of the world leadership of the proletariat; strengthened Stalinism as a world counterrevolutionary apparatus, helped to consolidate the “Pax Americana”, denigrated socialist ideals within the consciousness of the proletariat and then ended up collapsing in such a contradictory way as we are now seeing where the bureaucracy plays the decisive role in the decomposition of the social basis of these workers’ states.
This is because these revolutions, exceptional as they are, did not occur under conditions of the proletarian vanguard organized in a Trotskyist party, but under the conditions of the bureaucratic caste and its Stalinist parties. They “did not happen” under the theory-program of Permanent Revolution, but under the conditions of the theory of “socialism in one country” as applied to these states.
It must be clearly stated precisely how the counterrevolutionary bureaucracies in the post-war deformed workers’ states led the “process of democratic revolution towards socialist revolution” “in their own way”.
One: even if they concentrated and numerically increased the proletariat in these underdeveloped countries, they did it in such a way as to ensure its political fragmentation, the separation from the working class in the West and across the world, and the liquidation of the role of the conscious vanguard. Two: they gave land to peasants, but destroyed the strategic alliance between the peasantry and the proletariat, as can be seen in China. Three: they obtained great economic success with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie for “the nation” but weakened the monopoly of foreign trade from the very beginning. Four: they disarmed the population and instead of workers’ militias created an army of professional parasites which weakened the defense of the workers’ states while siphoning off a large part of the wealth of these states. Five: in the place of proletarian internationalism and the need to transform the workers’ states into a fortress of the world revolution, they substituted the objectives of the state that defended the interests of the bureaucratic caste, negotiating away the revolutionary processes with imperialism for loose change, isolating and eventually preparing the defeat of these very same workers’ state.
Those were the conditions imposed on the world proletariat by these post-war “colossal triumphs” (as Moreno described them and as they are still described by the LIT current led by the Colombian party).
Because of all this, as the Internationalist Faction, we have always sustained that the political revolution in these states was “something more” than simply attaining “democracy” in them, and as such we opposed the LIT’s 1988 formula of “socialism plus democracy”.
And, because of the role of the bureaucracy in reversing the gains of the masses in the workers’ states, it was not only “workers’ democracy” either. That is why the Transitional Program predicts that “A fresh upsurge of the revolution in the USSR will undoubtedly begin under the banner of the struggle against social inequality and political oppression.”
That and nothing else is the logic behind the slogan of the same program for political revolution: “A revision of planned economy from top to bottom in the interests of producers and consumers!”
With a program consisting only of political democracy, the role of Trotskyism would ultimately be limited to no more than that of a party of “democratic revolution” in the deformed workers’ state regimes which had been already won, like in the post-war revolutions, by Stalinists or guerrilla armies that based themselves on the peasantry or other popular sectors.
Instead of saying that the Theory of Permanent Revolution failed, as the LIT does, one must take a position on the historical verdict that divided Bolshevism and Stalinism in the USSR from 1924 on. With a cost of thousands of deaths and the delay to the proletarian revolution, the Stalinist bureaucracy has “in its own way” confirmed the Theory of Permanent Revolution.
What do the different tendencies of the LIT say? Theory of Permanent Revolution or the Theory of Socialism in one country?
Ultimately, if the “democratic revolution” in fascist countries is a concession to the “democratic” bourgeoisie and its regime, then the “Theory of the Democratic Revolution” applied to the workers’ states, and in conflict with the conception of political revolution, an integral part of the permanent revolution, is a concession to the “theory of socialism in one country”, and fundamentally, to the practice of the Stalinist bureaucracy. The theory of the “democratic revolution” did not survive the test of the events of 1989.
The LIT and 1989: The Collapse of the Theory of the “Democratic Revolution”
For our Faction, the theory-program of the “triumphant democratic revolution” with which Moreno revised Trotsky and the theory of the Permanent Revolution, crashed into the reality of the events of 1989.
This theory of revolution from the ‘Trotskyism of Moreno’ had its application in the political revolution in the workers states. In “The Transitional Program Today”, Nahuel Moreno said: “If we take Hungary and Czechoslovakia into account, we see that the (political) revolution begins with a workers’ and peoples’ movement for the conquest of democracy in general, uniting all the discontented. It is going to be a workers’ and people’s movement for democracy: all united against the Bonapartist government and the bureaucracy …”
“We believe that it will start with this first February revolution, which will make its way to democracy in general; and in the process organs of workers’ power will emerge (…) and simultaneously the Trotskyist party will get stronger, the only party able to carry out the true political revolution, that of October (…) This party will struggle against all the petty bourgeois restorationist currents (…) These petty bourgeois currents will fiercely oppose the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat during the interregnum between February and October (…) The political revolution of the October of Trotskyism will most probably occur in opposition to this restorationist front”.
Prediction and Program
First, a large part of this prediction was liquidated beforehand due to a problem of method: this stage of “democracy in general” could not appear because this type of democracy does not exist and has never existed. If it had occurred, such actions would have rendered Marxism useless, for the latter defines democracy, like any superstructure, by its class character, as worker or as bourgeois. As we have previously seen, bourgeois sociology has infected the ‘Trotskyism of Moreno’ and its Marxist definition of the state; here this infection is transferred to the political regimes.
Second, we must categorically say that these events had nothing to do with the prediction that the LIT used to orientate itself during the 1980s.
The new regimes that appeared in the East in 1989, like that in the former USSR after August 1991, even though they appeared after the masses had torn down the Stalinist one-party regime, were not the result of the liquidation of the bureaucracy as a whole, and in that sense were not “triumphant”. The new governments in the East, let alone Russia and the former Soviet republics, are full of bureaucrats from the old nomenklatura dressed in new clothes.
The perspective of “all united against … the bureaucracy” proved to be false. Moreno’s prediction of a “workers’ and people’s movement for democracy” presupposed the existence of two camps in “this first February revolution”: one where Trotskyists would participate alongside the “petty bourgeois restorationist currents”, and the other of the “Bonapartist government and the bureaucracy”.
The real scenario that we have seen, from the rise of Gorbachev, was that the bureaucracy did not appear before the eyes of the masses as only one bloc. One sector of it headed and diverted the “workers and people’s movement for democracy”, while at the same time it was the bureaucracy that acted as the principal restorationist force, and, in essence, not the “petty bourgeois currents”. These wings of the bureaucracy headed, together with the petty bourgeois currents, “the restorationist front” that seized power and expropriated the triumph of the masses against the one-party regime from them.
In addition, this “restorationist front” worked from the very first moment, before February, and not in “the interregnum between February and October” to “fiercely oppose the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat” and to prevent the upsurge of “organs of workers’ power”.
In the end, the LIT’s prediction assumed that the conditions of the Polish revolution in 1980 would repeat themselves, where the bureaucracy acted homogeneously around the counterrevolutionary coup of Jaruzelski, a coup supported by the Kremlin and imperialism, and where the mass movement around Solidarity was led by both Walesa as an agent of the Church and by petty bourgeois currents. The LIT did not see that the most lucid wing of the bureaucracy had learnt from the lessons of Poland and prepared itself for a different course before the fear of being swept away by an uprising of the masses: hence the appearance of the Bismarckian attempt of Gorbachev.
LIT did not include in its prediction the momentous events of international policy of the mid-1980s: glasnost and perestroika. Based in this it would have been clear that the bureaucracy, at the same time as one wing detached itself and took up the banner of democracy, was nevertheless the principal restorationist force in the workers’ states and not the “petty bourgeois currents” in general, according to the schema of Moreno. Without this, the supposed bloc of “all united” for democracy was destined to capitulate to the “democratic” wing of the bureaucracy, and thus to one of the attempts at capitalist restoration.
First Gorbachev and then later Yeltsin took up the LIT’s banner of “democracy in general”. So the most important problem is not that of a wrong prediction, but of an entirely stagist program for the political revolution. With the theory-program of the “democratic revolution” the political revolution is liquidated, as a specific type of revolution, that while being part of the permanent and world socialist revolution, combines the task of the revolutionary overthrow of the bureaucracy simultaneously with the defense of the social basis of the workers’ state. And this is truly serious. If in opposing a military dictatorship in a bourgeois state, the policy is to be part of the democratic camp with bourgeois or petty bourgeois currents who lead to the capitulation of the “democratic reaction” of the bourgeoisie and its parties, divert the revolution and preserve the interests of the capitalist state, above the forms that the dictatorship of capital and its regimes acquire; in a workers’ state this signifies capitulation to those, such as the bureaucracy, imperialism and all the forces of restoration, that want to wind back the gains of the proletariat signified by the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, the social bases of the workers’ state, because the democratic reaction there is accompanied with a social and economic counterrevolution.
The theory of “democratic revolution” removes from the program of the Trotskyists for the workers’ states Trotsky’s Transitional Program and its fight for organs of workers’ power from the very start of mobilization, and replaces it with a “democratic” one which does not combat the various wings of the Stalinist bureaucracy, nor the restorationist petty bourgeois currents, until after the first February stage of the revolution. That is, it capitulates to them from the very beginning.
The demonstration that this programmatic conception of the LIT is far removed from fighting for a soviet policy, of the construction of organs of workers’ power, is the LIT’s call for the “freedom of parties” in general, that is to say, even the restorationist and bourgeois ones; and not, as Trotsky advises in the Transitional Program: “the legalization of soviet parties” or the ones that workers’ decide on via their ballot. This same policy continues even today, put forward by the LIT for the Cuban workers’ state, when not only restorationist forces such as “Democratic Convergence” but the “gusanos” (worms) from Miami fight to be legalized; instead of fighting for the “legalization of parties that defend the revolution” and at the same time calling for the formation of “workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ councils”, this latter slogan is completely absent from the LIT’s program for the political revolution in Cuba.
We also think that, along with an incorrect evaluation of the prospects of political revolution in the workers’ states, there has also been an incorrect evaluation with regard to the world situation in the 1980s: the LIT, while Moreno was alive, focussed as it was on the process of revolution in Central America, did not see the consolidation of the reaction of Thatcherism-Reaganism in the advanced economies (the LIT insisted on seeing a pre-revolutionary period in Europe, even when the British miners’ strike was defeated in 1985 in a framework of the extreme isolation and loss of working class gains in the metropolis), the refraction of this phenomenon towards the interior of the workers’ states, and specifically, the passage of the bureaucracy to restoration as the direct agents of Thatcher and Reagan, which Gorbachevism signified. Neither did it see the possibility of this phenomenon moving the center of the world revolution to the USSR and the East and so taking it from the semi-colonial world. The confirmation of this in the Thesis of the LIT in 1985, the year when perestroika began, which did not dedicate a single line to this problem. So, the deviation within the LIT did not begin with the processes of 1989. Not even when our current, the TBI by then, warned of the first manifestations of the political revolution with the events in Armenia in 1988 while the MAS was preparing for an “quasi-strategic” front with Argentine Stalinism. Those were only the political manifestations of a coherent orientation voted on at the World Congress in 1985, which we were not able to see at that time.
While a wing of the bureaucracy together with imperialism was preparing the attempt at “revolution from above”, in reality a peaceful and gradual counterrevolution, a utopian project which, even though it failed, played an important counterrevolutionary role in cheating the masses of the East and the USSR and in confusing the proletarian vanguard; the LIT, far from answering this problem, orientated itself to fusing with it through the policy of the Frente Unico Revolucionario (FUR – Revolutionary United Front) with whatever philo-Stalinist current was around on the continent. What is really important, is not the balance sheet of the FUR with the local bureaucrat America Baroa in Mexico in itself, and with the guerrilla petty bourgeois currents in Colombia in “A Luchar” (To Struggle), which is enough [Another indication of the general orientation of the LIT, while not promoted as part of the FUR policy, was the formation of the FREPU (Frente del Pueblo – People’s Front) in 1985 by the MAS and the Argentine CP]. What is important is that, while sectors of the Trotskyist movement such as the United Secretariat of Mandel were openly acting as the left wing of Gorbachevism, the LIT was the “capitulator of capitulators” in that it did not attack this strategy of the revisionist majority of Trotskyism.
The “Democratic Revolution” Before the Test of Events in Germany
But just to be clear, does the political revolution have democratic tasks to undertake? Absolutely. But the question must be formulated like this: Can these democratic tasks be resolved in a movement of “all for democracy” together with the “restorationist currents” and in the framework of a revolution that wins a fictitious “democracy in general”?
Let us look at the example of a political revolution which had an enormous democratic task to resolve. The process of the revolution in Germany in 1989 began behind the banners of political democracy and the central democratic task in this nation artificially divided by the pacts of Yalta: national unity.
In Germany the theory of Moreno was consistently put forward by the LIT and has been subject to the test of events. Before the mobilization of the masses of the GDR that knocked down Honecker and the Berlin Wall, the organizing slogan in the program of the LIT was “German reunification NOW!”. That is, not a “workers’ or socialist reunification of Germany”, which was the way of putting forward the democratic task of Germany national unity, to which the masses of the East aspired to and mobilized for, in the transitional sense to the socialist revolution in the West, not just reunification alone, that is, bourgeois-imperialist reunification.
Against those such as the United Secretariat of Mandel and the majority of the German left who tried to support the Berlin Wall, going against the legitimate aspirations of the masses and their wish for national unification, the LIT developed a deviation in the opposite direction.
For the LIT, by then, “if both (German) working classes unite, they will form the strongest proletariat on the continent, which will be a thousand times stronger for the fight for socialism in Germany and in all Europe”. (33)
This was a perfect synthesis of the Menshevik theory and Program adapted to our times. As we know, these were raised in Russia where it was said that what had to occur was a first revolution to install a bourgeois democratic republic, in which the proletariat would increase its strength, in order to, in a second stage, struggle for power. For the LIT, guided by this new version of the Menshevik theory by stages, the “democratic revolution”, the struggle for socialism is for after reunification, which would not be the product of a proletarian revolution, but under democracy, not now “in general”, but imperialist.
The stagist conception of the “triumphant democratic revolution” that guided the LIT during the events of 1989 leads, as the class struggle in Germany demonstrated, led to the abandoning of the Trotskyist principle that holds that the bourgeoisie in the imperialist epoch cannot resolve the democratic questions except for in a reactionary way. Consistent with its stagist theory and program, the LIT did not combat the illusions of German workers that their just democratic aspirations rested on, but instead yielded to these illusions and therefore to the politics of imperialism, in this case German, given that this is “reaction all along the line” as the Transitional Program says, that is, against the exploited masses from both Germanies and their aspirations, as reality later amply demonstrated.
Of course the slogan of “workers’ and socialist reunification” could not, by itself, act as a magic formula that would guarantee the triumph of the political revolution. But it would have at least ensured the historical destiny of the LIT and the German Trotskyists that fought for it. It may have allowed for Trotskyists, and not the recycled Stalinists of the German PDS or the Social Democrats of the SPD, to strengthen themselves, before the illusions that the masses in the former GDR had in Kohl fell away.
The “Democratic Revolution” and the National Question
In the process of the revolutions of 1989, the “national question” emerged as the principal question for a whole period in the stage opened up by the fall of The Order of Yalta. Our Internationalist Faction considers that the theoretical and programmatic legacy of the Fourth International allowed a methodological starting point and principles to tackle this “labyrinthine and complex but at the same time extremely important forms of the class struggle”, to use the words of Trotsky.
The different currents of the LIT have showed themselves incapable of responding to this problem which has again been raised for Trotskyism today.
All the tendencies of the LIT have refused to raise the slogan, as Trotsky did for the independence of Ukraine in 1939, of an ‘independent workers’ and socialist republic’, that is a policy for ‘soviet independence’, in order to struggle against both the oppressor bureaucracy and the interests of the imperialist powers that would deliver these republics into the hands of the petty bourgeois nationalist or bureaucratic leaderships.
This time the division in the Trotskyist movement occurs between those who, with the argument of defending the social bases of the workers’ state, are in reality defending the bureaucracy; and those whose democratic logic placed them against the bureaucracy and saw them play into the hands of the restorationists and imperialism, as occurred within the LIT.
On one side, the majority leadership held up the slogan of “self determination or national independence” by itself, which is the same stagist logic that it applied in Germany (with results that we have discussed), but this time it capitulated programmatically to the reactionary, nationalist and restorationist leaderships of the progressive movements of the oppressed masses (Muslims, Slovenians, Croats at first, etc.)
On the other side, the Colombian party and its present TBI tendency refused to acknowledge the struggle for national independence for the republics and nationalities that were oppressed by the Great Russian bureaucracy, principally those in the former USSR, and were directly on the side of the butchers of Greater Serbia who fought against the Muslims in Yugoslavia. The Colombians base their refusal to support the mass struggle of the oppressed workers republics and for independent workers’ states on the argument that a “federation of socialist republics” is preferable, from both an economic and political point of view, because the current wars among the workers’ states are fratricidal and prevent the united struggle of all the masses of all nationalities against the bureaucracy.
We do not deny that a federation of workers’ states is superior to an isolated workers’ state. But, until 1989, the existing federations of workers’ states (such as Yugoslavia and the USSR) were sustained at the point of a bayonet by the oppressive bureaucracies. The slogan of “federation” was defended by the bureaucracy against the masses. The political revolution began, to a large extent, as a fight against national political oppression of the bureaucracy. That is, against these “federations”. In this concrete situation, raising the slogan of “federation” was not a strategy that we agree with, but at least it was an attempt to solve the problem of the national conflicts with the slogan that untied them. We believe that this latter conception, a key and fundamental point of the current of the Colombian party, is a product of slogan put forward by the LIT in the 1980s: a “democratic federation of the existing workers’ states”.
That slogan did not only refer to the republics of the USSR but to all workers’ states (USSR, Eastern Europe, China, etc.) joining in a single federation. It was presented in the “Theses for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International” of the Fourth International (International Committee) of Moreno and Lambert in 1980, in the following manner: “This slogan points to the political unity of all the workers’ states in a single bloc against imperialism and the liquidation of the bureaucracy, opening the perspective of free relations, removed of violence, that will lead to unity and democratically controlled planning by committees and revolutionary councils, over the whole of the economy of the workers’ states”. In this way it could give, according to the same Thesis, “a living and transitional content to legitimate national demands”.
This slogan, which is tactically disputable given the concrete possibility of war between China and the USSR, when taken as a strategy is simply defensist towards the bureaucracy and subordinates economic advances to the aspirations of the oppressed nationalities for their liberation from Stalinist rule.
Moreno falls here in an economistic argument, one which Trotsky polemicized against for a long time. For the latter, the advantage of the separation of Ukraine from the USSR in 1939 should not be measured in relation to economic advances, but in relation to the repression of the Ukrainian people by the Kremlin bureaucracy. “The great masses of the Ukrainian people are dissatisfied with their nation’s fate and wish to change it drastically. It is this fact that the revolutionary politician must, in contrast to the bureaucratic and the sectarian, take as his point of departure.” (34)
The idea of the “unity of all the workers’ states in a single bloc against imperialism” was put into effect by Stalinism not only through an economic bloc (COMECON) but also a military bloc (Warsaw Pact). The LIT added to this the formulation of a “more democratic Cuba” or “socialism plus democracy”, with the result that the “committees and councils” had all revolutionary content removed from them and were instead called on to play a controlling role in a “more democratic COMECON”.
So, rather than a bloc for “the liquidation of bureaucracy”, a difficult thing to achieve with this same bureaucracy leading the “existing workers’ states”, they were playing with the idea that advances in the productive forces would open the prospect of “free relations, removed of violence” among the Kremlin, the oppressed nationalities of the USSR and the countries of the East.
It has been demonstrated that the economic crisis of “socialism in one country” exacerbated the subjugation of national rights. In the former Yugoslav federation, due to the dramatic crisis of the 1970s (20,000 million dollars of debt with the IMF), the Serbian bureaucracy applied a brutal austerity plan which saw unemployment in 1988 soar to 57% in Kosovo while average unemployment across Yugoslavia was at 16%.
What seems very difficult is to prove the opposite: that, in the hands of the bureaucracy, economic development automatically signifies less national oppression. The history of the USSR demonstrates otherwise. In the decade of the 1930s, the economic successes of the USSR (whose industrial power was reaching that of Germany’s) were not only financed by the working class being paid only a portion of their salary, but was based on the crushing of the masses of the nationalities, the majority of them peasants, with forced collectivization. That was why Trotsky, acknowledging the advances, argued against those who thought that the program of the Left Opposition had been taken up by Stalin, that it did not matter “what” was being done in the economy, “how” it was applied or “who” led that program, whether it was the soviets or the bureaucracy.
With the slogan of a “federation of existing workers’ states”, Moreno thus subordinated the demands of the nationalities oppressed by the bureaucracy, and the states of the East suffering national oppression from the USSR, to the “progressive task” of bringing together the productive forces around a centralized plan, even if bureaucratically centralized. Once again we have here an objectivist logic that splits the socialist tasks from the subject, the class and the party that carries them out. The stagist logic also reappears: first stage, a federation of existing workers’ states; second stage: obtain workers’ democracy within them.
What this signifies is the replacement of the Stalinist theory of “socialism in one country” with the centrist theory of “socialism with democracy in a federation of existing workers’ states”. Once again, another variant of the theory of the “democratic revolution”, but this time applied to the workers’ states.
Ultimately, this conception prevents the LIT from seeing that the beginning of the political revolution which began to manifest in the form of the national struggle can either be transformed into a powerful tool for the political revolution or can be used by the bureaucratic-imperialist counterrevolution.
Nonetheless, what we consider to be theoretical-programmatic revisionism in Moreno, does not remove responsibility from the leadership of the LIT for committing the political crime of the expulsion in 1988, to the cry of “Off to Armenia!”, those who now form the Internationalist Faction.
In short, the year 1989 saw the collapse of the LIT’s theoretical-programmatic conception of the “democratic revolution”, which they counterposed to the “political revolution” of Trotsky. Those who still uphold this position, despite the test of proof that the revolutionary processes have provided for our theory and program, are condemned to either close their eyes to reality or turn into apologists for any type of revolution under any leadership. Yesterday it was the current of the Argentine Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores (MST – Socialist Workers’ Movement), now outside the LIT, today it is the Italian SR inside the LIT, that are taking Moreno’s theory of “democratic revolution” to its end point. One cannot combat currents such as these without returning to Trotsky and Trotskyism.
The alternative for the LIT is clear: take up once again the basic foundations of the Fourth International and return to Trotskyism, or move further away from them down the road that the SR proposes: Permanent Revolution or “democratic revolution”.
2. Transitional Program or Minimum and Maximum Program?
This conception of revolution that the LIT holds presupposes the abandonment of the Transitional Program of the Fourth International and its replacement with a minimum democratic program for action (or for the first stage of revolution) and a maximum socialist program for propaganda (or for the second stage).
By denying Trotsky when he says that “Democratic slogans, transitional demands and the problems of the socialist revolution are not divided into separate historical epochs in this struggle, but stem directly from one another” (35), all the tendencies of the LIT, in different ways, break with the Trotskyist program, build an insurmountable wall between democratic and socialist slogans and liquidate the Transitional Program for proletarian revolution.
We have already seen this in the example of Germany where this program objectively capitulated to the imperialist reunification plans of Kohl. We have seen how, if they did have parties in Europe, they would have fallen in behind the currents or wings of the bureaucracy who seized power, in the “first stage” of the political revolution, by demagogically raising democratic, national and anti-bureaucratic banners in order to carry the masses of the workers’ states behind the program of capitalist restoration.
And this would have been the case because, quite simply, the LIT did not put forward a program of action that, as the Transitional Program says, serves to “help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demand and the socialist program of the revolution”. A program “unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat.” (36).
All the tendencies of the LIT, even though they say they adhere to the Transitional Program, abandon it in reality. All those who, such as the Argentine MAS or Convergência Socialista, or the extreme Italian SR, use democratic slogans as strategic ones. They are the champions of “general elections” in Brazil, of the Constituent Assembly as the “via regia” (royal road) to socialism in Argentina, of the slogan of “independence for the nationalities” that are oppressed in the workers’ states and separate this from the defense of the social bases of these states. All the while those at the other extreme, such as the Colombian party, consider democratic slogans to be a hindrance to mobilization and not a transitional lever to socialist revolution, like they did with the ‘national question’ in Yugoslavia.
For our Internationalist Faction, only Trotsky’s Transitional Program, that removed at a stroke the stagist theory of “democratic revolution”, is also that which allows in action for a “relentless war” against bourgeois, bureaucratic and reformist leaderships, not in the “second stage” of revolution but from the very beginning of the upsurge in mobilization.
3. An Independent Trotskyist Policy or a Policy of Class Conciliation?
The LIT continuously falls into capitulation towards the apparatus and into popular front policies as it drifts around without an independent proletarian strategy.
In Argentina, we remember the “Plaza del No” against Peronist President Carlos Menem, the alliance with the Communist Party and the bourgeois lawyer Vicente in the Izquierda Unida (IU – United Left), the absence of a systematic denunciation of the bourgeois two-party system and especially the “radical” opposition party, as well as its place in the “anti-Menemist” front led by the UCR before the signing of the Radical-Peronist “Constitutional Pact” that undermined the interests of the workers and the people. In Brazil, there was their place in the “bourgeois opposition front” which prepared then Vice-President Franco Itamar’s drive to replace President Fernando Collor during the anti-Collor demonstrations in 1992. Today the Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado (PSTU – United Socialist Workers’ Party) happily participates in the “For Ethics” demonstrations, placing them in the anti-corruption camp of those who want to clean up and beautify the Brazilian parliament.
This orientation, while not reaching the level of the Stalinist theory of the “progressive bourgeois camps”, starts from a similar “campist” logic and places them, in practice, on the terrain of class conciliation and the abandonment of a clear strategy of working class independence.
The same logic can be seen in the tendency of the Colombian party and its place in the “camp for the defense of the workers’ state” together with Milosevic when he, with the support of American imperialism, massacred the Bosnian Muslims.
The Internationalist Faction does not deny the need for occasional unity of action with bourgeois sectors that allows for mass mobilizations against the exploiters’ government of the time, the need to place ourselves unconditionally in the military camp of the national bourgeoisie or the bureaucracy of the workers’ state in the case of imperialist aggression, or the need to be in the front ranks of the military camp of a bourgeoisie in the case of a civil war such as that in Spain in 1936, confronting fascism arms in hand. But we will irreconcilably struggle against any bourgeois or bureaucratic variant of this stance.
We put forward a policy that allows for the class independence of the proletariat to struggle with its own methods and take the lead in conjunction with all the exploited, the peasants and the popular sectors; separating them from the “opposition”, “nationalist”, “democratic”, “republican” bourgeoisie or the bureaucracy of a workers’ state.
The Internationalist Faction fights to banish from the LIT the harmful germs of class conciliation, to regroup the revolutionaries who have not fallen for the “siren song of the popular front” and to move towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International with an independent Trotskyist strategy.
4. Workers’ and Peasants’ Government or a Bourgeois Workers’ Government?
It is not surprising that, starting from an objectivist theory of the socialist revolution, in the best of cases, even if not directly a democratic revolution “in the field of the bourgeois state”, that all factions of the LIT make “democratic” use of the “workers’ and peasants’ government” slogan.
“The chief accusation which the Fourth International advances against the traditional organizations of the proletariat is the fact that they do not wish to tear themselves away from the political semi-corpse of the bourgeoisie. Under these conditions the demand, systematically addressed to the old leadership: “Break with the bourgeoisie, take the power!” is an extremely important weapon for exposing the treacherous character of the parties and organizations of the Second, Third and Amsterdam Internationals. The slogan, ”workers’ and farmers’ government”, is thus acceptable to us only in the sense that it had in 1917 with the Bolsheviks, i.e., as an anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist slogan. but in no case in that ”democratic” sense which later the epigones gave it, transforming it from a bridge to Socialist revolution into the chief barrier upon its path.” (37)
All the tendencies of the LIT interpret the “workers’ and peasants’ government” slogan in a “democratic” sense similar to the criticism Trotsky made of the Comintern when the latter revived the old “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” formula for China, as a prior stage to the dictatorship of the proletariat, or a “first stage” of the socialist revolution. As we have already made clear, the difference is that Stalinists considered this first stage as historically necessary from the point of view of the bourgeois development of capitalism in the underdeveloped countries. The ‘Trotskyism of Moreno’ considers it to be a political, not an economic, stage that is necessary from the point of view of the mobilization of the masses, that, given the crisis of revolutionary leadership and the “objectively socialist” dynamics of the revolution throughout the world, the socialist revolution begins under counterrevolutionary leaderships, following the ‘model’ of the post-war revolutions led by Stalinism or guerrilla armies that resulted in deformed workers’ states.
This theoretical discussion is of enormous political importance as far as the approaching possibility of a bourgeois popular front government headed by Lula in Brazil, the most unstable country in the continent. Every theoretical revision of this slogan from the Transitional Program can lead to direct political capitulation to the eventual bourgeois government in which workers’ organizations or their leaders are participating in; or lead to indirect capitulation, restricting Trotskyist policies to the exertion of pressure on the counterrevolutionary Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT – Workers’ Party) or Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT – United Workers’ Federation) leadership, so that they go “further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie” towards a workers’ and peasants’ government.
It is this perspective that guides the LIT in Brazil. In the magazine of Convergência, CS No. 380, we read: “But will a Lula government, even with the enormous pressure from the workers’, peasants’ and popular movement, attend to our demands, break with the bourgeoisie and stimulate and support the self-organization of the workers in order to carry out an anti-capitalist program to eradicate poverty and famine in our country? … only history will demonstrate if Lula will succumb to the claims and demands of the masses or if he will remain imprisoned by bourgeois institutionality and the bosses”.
Leaving the door open to the possibility of Lula’s evolution towards a break with the bourgeoisie prepares the way for a new capitulation by the LIT in Brazil to the leadership of the PT. But this time it would be worse than that in the process of 1992, because it would occur when a counterrevolutionary leadership would be in government, administering the bourgeois state.
Will the CS or the PSTU come to support this bourgeois government of the popular front, just as, in opposition to Trotsky’s policy, the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM – Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification) did in Spain? Will it remain in opposition, but put pressure on it while maintaining the hope that Lula and the CUT leadership will take a revolutionary course? Being tied to this strategy, will the PSTU fritter away the possibility of developing organs of workers’ power that the new opportunities of the Brazilian revolution has opened, even better than those they let slip with the ‘Encuentro’ (meeting) of Belo Horizonte?
The Internationalist Faction are making these harsh criticisms in order to avoid such a possibility and so that the honest militants of the CS do not to have to suffer the same disastrous destiny as that of Andres Nin.
The course assumed by the CS from 1992 to today, along with its current policies, does not look very encouraging in this respect. In the mobilizations against Collor, Convergência Socialista did not agitate for the “workers’ and peasants’ government” slogan; concretely, we believe that a correct formulation of this slogan in Brazil is: “For a government of the CUT and the PT that breaks with the bourgeoisie and imperialism”. In contrast to an alternative for working class power, the CS had the call for “General Elections” as its central policy. When the PT stood by the bourgeois government of Franco Itamar, and thanks to the leadership of the PT, moved to the “general elections” of 1994, the Brazilian section of the LIT reduced the Trotskyist slogan of the Transitional Program to the formula: “Lula to govern”, thus making a triple deformation.
First, it is formulated without demanding a “break with the bourgeoisie and IMPERIALISM”, which is strange given that we are dealing with the case of a semi-colonial country and given the excellent relations that the leadership of the PT (along with all members of the São Paulo Forum) have with the United States embassy. In this manner (and linked to the call of the CS for “general elections”), Lula’s assumption can only result, in the best case scenario, in a bourgeois workers’ government, if not a directly bourgeois popular front government; but never as a workers’ and peasants’ government. A bourgeois workers’ government, according to the definition of the Third International, is a government of reformist workers’ parties under the institutions (army, police, parliament), the rules and the laws of capitalism, and acts as ‘left-wing’ administrators of the bourgeois state and the business of the capitalists.
What is the difference in principle between the Lula government that the CS proposes and that of Mitterrand in France, Felipe Gonzalez in Spain or the traditional Social Democratic government of Sweden?
Second, with the excuse of “personifying” the workers’ and peasants’ government in order to “make it more concrete for the masses”, they call for a government of the traitor leaders and not of the mass organizations of the workers and peasants, the parties or the unions that they lead, in this case the PT and the CUT.
We defend the tradition which was put forward in Bolivia with the slogan of “All power to the COB!” [Central Obrera Boliviana – Bolivian Workers’ Federation] in Bolivia in both 1952 and 1985, against those like Lora who agitated around the abstract formula of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and called for the construction of “soviets”, ignoring the real forms that the organs of the working masses in struggle had acquired with the peasants in tow, as well as the transformation of the routine character of the unions, in spite of and against COB leader Juan Lechin. We defend the slogan “All power to Solidarność” [the independent Solidarity trade union] in Poland in 1980 (which is not a “Walesa government”, a variant that was put forward later when Walesa led the plans for restoration in the Polish workers’ state), as this slogan expressed the struggle because this organ, which united the masses in struggle and went beyond the narrow limits of a union, extending to soldiers and getting arms, in spite of and against Walesa.
We reject the position of the sectarians who refused to raise such slogans, because of the counterrevolutionary character of the leaderships of the COB and Solidarność, precisely because “All power to the COB” and “All power to Solidarność” were the best way to break workers away from Lechin and Walesa without feeding the illusions that the masses had in them.
In this same way, as a circumstantial tactic between February and October 1917, Lenin directed the slogan at the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries of “Break with the bourgeoisie, down with the ten capitalist ministers” when these forces were still the leadership in the soviets, conciliating with the bourgeoisie and participating in the bourgeois government of Kerensky’s popular front. Lenin raised the possibility of a government of these organs of workers, peasants and soldiers which would break with the capitalists, and not a “Tseretelli government”. Even worse, the CS is embarking on a struggle for a PT government in the 1994 elections with a Lula-Osmarino slate (the latter is an important PSTU peasant leader). “Our proposal is that Osmarino be the Vice-Presidential candidate, alongside Lula, in the sense of personifying the alliance between the workers of city and country, between proletariat and peasantry, against the whole bourgeoisie.” (38)
We are not opposed to an electoral tactic expressing a class alternative, but with this the slogan of “workers’ and peasants’ government” has been simplified (that is, removed of all revolutionary content) by the CS to such a degree that it has been converted into a presidential formula … and without even putting forward the minimum demand that the vote for these candidates and their program be taken at a rank and file delegate congress of the CUT!
Third distortion. Due to what we have already said, this slogan in the hands of the Brazilian section of the LIT does not fulfil the role given it by Trotsky in the Transitional Program, that of “an extremely important weapon for exposing the treacherous character” of the leaderships of the workers’ movement. On the contrary, far from having this enormous educative value, put forward this way, it feeds instead of combats the illusions of the workers in Lula. It also it feeds illusions in the idea that bourgeois elections are able to solve the problems of the masses in Brazil, a country where the class struggle is assuming more violent forms, where the bourgeoisie unleashes embryonic civil wars against the masses of city and country, and where sectors of the Armed Forces are preparing for a counterrevolution in case the dam of the popular front fails.
Against the most scandalous aspects of this policy of the Brazilian section, the MAS of Argentina and the Tendency led by the Colombian party have timidly raise their voices. While lamentably not moving away from this same logic, they demand that Convergência call for mass mobilizations to impose such a demand and that, to the formulation of a “Lula government”, the words “responsible to the CUT” be added. But all of this is no more than a call to, one, increase the pressure (mobilizing the masses) upon a counterrevolutionary leadership; and two, place a kind of workers’ control on the future administrators of the capitalist state.
None of the internal groupings within the LIT pose this, nor can they do it without breaking with their “democratic” program, with the method of Trotsky and the Transitional Program: for educating in the class war, in breaking the masses with the bourgeoisie and imperialism, in the sense of developing the organs that will go beyond the limits of the bourgeois regime and as an instrument to unmask the reformist leaderships of the working class. That is, understanding that, in the case of concretization, we will defend this government from the attacks of the bourgeoisie but without participating in and the refusal to “carry political responsibility for it”, that is, as a transitional tactic towards the dictatorship of the proletariat.
5. A Soviet Strategy or Adaptation to Bourgeois Democracy?
The stagist logic and the absence of a program of transitional demands on the part of the LIT, leads them to an adaptation to bourgeois democracy and the abandonment of the soviet strategy, that is, of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Trotsky in the Transitional Program says: “Not one of the transitional demands can be fully met under the conditions of preserving the bourgeois regime (…) How are the different demands and forms of struggle to be harmonized, even if only within the limits of one city? History has already answered this question: through soviets. These will unite the representatives of all the fighting groups. For this purpose, no one has yet proposed a different form of organization; indeed, it would hardly be possible to think up a better one. Soviets are not limited to an a priori party program. They throw open their doors to all the exploited. Through these doors pass representatives of all strata, drawn into the general current of the struggle (…) All political currents of the proletariat can struggle for leadership of the soviets on the basis of the widest democracy. The slogan of soviets, therefore, crowns the program of transitional demands.” (39)
The MAS in 1988, when it was still able to impose itself on the rest of the LIT sections, even went so far as to put forward the theoretical aberration that the party, through its “bastions”, would contain or replace the embryos of soviets in Argentina!
From then on, much has been said in the LIT about this “yielding to bourgeois democracy”, but the origins of this have to be found in social causes. Without recognizing these causes, we hold that only the working class alone, imbued with legalistic and petty bourgeois prejudices by their bureaucratic and bourgeois leaderships, cannot be the only, not even the principal, reassurance against adaptation to the bourgeois political regime. The policy of “going to the working class”, by itself, without a program that combats its leaders, does not resolve anything, for this adaptation to the regime is not to bourgeois democracy “in general” but to concrete institutions: conciliatory unions, reformist parties and bourgeois leaders of the mass movement. The adaptation to bourgeois democracy is called the PT in Brazil, it was called the CGT and now it is called the CTA-UCR in Argentina. We sustain that this capitulation to these leaderships occurs because a strategy and a program pointing to overcoming the limits of bourgeois state, a soviet strategy, has not been raised.
The Internationalist Faction does not fall into soviet fetishism like the dogmatics do. But on following Trotsky we attempt to see which existing organs can perform the role of the Russian councils from 1905 to 1917.
In contrast, the class struggle has once again demonstrated that the LIT in Argentina in 1990 or in Brazil in 1992, adapted itself to the organs of the masses built in times of peace, conciliatory unions or the reformist workers’ parties, such as the CGT and CTA of Argentine and the CUT and PT of Brazil, as they are, part of the bourgeois democratic regime, and in this way they adapt to the regime as a whole.
Like the POUM during the Spanish revolution when it stood against Trotsky in his fight for “revolutionary juntas” or the American SWP during the Portuguese revolution in 1974 which refused to make a point in its program for the formation of the tenants’, soldiers’ and workers’ committees; the LIT puts aside a strategy based on soviet organs and the struggle to develop them, have a revolutionary program and leadership, and arm themselves irreconcilably against the bourgeois state.
From this strategy of the dictatorship of the proletariat, directly denied by the SR, when it affirms that its “model” is that of “socialism which will be, in its first stage, a non-state state”, and replaces it with a “socialist democracy (which) will be the superstructure of the whole society for the whole society” and could even “integrate some institutions born from bourgeois democracy”. (40)
It seems that the “non-state state” put forward by the SR is not a new contribution to revolutionary Marxism. It is as old as the theory of the “combined State” with which Hilferding, from the right wing of German Social Democracy in 1919 wanted to combine the workers’ councils of the proletarian revolution with the Constituent Assembly of bourgeois democracy. The ‘Friends of Rosa’ [Luxemburg] are here her declared enemies.
For the rest of the groupings within the LIT, the dictatorship of the proletariat is replaced by the slogan of the “workers’ and peasants’ government”, not as a tactic or as a popular name for the dictatorship of the proletariat, but as a strategy of a first stage towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, as we have already seen.
6. Trotskyist Parties or Poumist Parties?
All Trotskyist theory and program points to one objective: overcoming the greatest crisis of humanity, its crisis of revolutionary leadership.
What does the crisis of revolutionary leadership mean?
First, it does not mean a “vacuum of leadership”, as the LIT has sustained for a long time. On the contrary, the crisis of revolutionary leadership in the imperialist epoch signifies for us the capacity of imperialism to coopt, buy, corrupt and use as its political transmission belt the leadership of the workers’ movement and the masses. That is, it signifies not a lack or a vacuum of leadership, but the conformation of the counterrevolutionary apparatus of the bureaucracy and the labor aristocracy that are at the heart of the proletariat, from unions and parties to workers’ states led by counterrevolutionaries.
Lenin brilliantly defined the phenomenon of the labor aristocracy in the advanced economies as a by-product of the rise of imperialism and explains that it was these social forces that the opportunism of the Second International was based on: with crumbs from the profits extracted from the super-exploitation of the colonies, the imperialist bourgeoisie buys off a layer of the working class and their leaders in the metropolis.
This took a qualitative step forward in the epoch of “wars and revolutions”, of socialist revolution, as distinct from the reformist epoch prior to World War I, when the First and Second Internationals were constituted. Before 1914, German Social Democracy was an opportunist current, but from the moment they voted for the war credits needed by their imperialist bourgeoisie to send the proletariat into their war of robbery as cannon fodder, it was transformed into a counterrevolutionary current. That is, it began to act in agreement with the interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie. In the end, when the principal acting forces are revolution and counterrevolution, the opportunism of yesterday is directly transformed into reformism. The same happened with the Mensheviks in Russia: with the revolution they passed from capitulating to the liberal bourgeoisie, before the fall of the Czar, to first openly opposing the Bolshevik revolution, and after October, to directly participating in the “White” Army. Another example is the evolution of the Soviet bureaucracy which went from “bureaucratic centrism” in 1923 to a caste that “passed with arms and baggage” over to counterrevolution in 1933 with the betrayal of the German revolution, which permitted the rise of Hitler; and in the last decade became the restorationists of capitalism in the workers’ state.
This is the tendential law of capitalism in the imperialist epoch in relation to the organizations of the workers’ movement: if the world socialist revolution does not advance and liquidate imperialism, the counterrevolution will advance upon the workers’ movement, not only reversing its economic gains, but also buying and coopting their organizations more and more. If this is a tendential law and not an absolute one, it is because of, on the one hand, capitalism’s own contradictions, which due to the low rate of profit is obliged to permanently attack the workers’ movement and thus undermine the base of their own agents in the movement, as we have just seen in the East and the former USSR; and on the other, because the blows from the masses achieved partial gains which liquidated or drove these apparatus into crisis, as can also be deduced from the lessons of 1989. It is only in this last sense that, as Trotsky said, “the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus”.
Starting from what we have said above, how do we struggle for revolutionary class consciousness and build a revolutionary leadership?
The majority of the LIT place the accent on “the worsening of the crisis of leadership” which the process of the revolutions of 1898 have supposedly provoked. This affirmation is based upon the “backward consciousness” of not only the masses who participated in these revolutions, but also because they have led to the generation of scepticism within sectors of the workers’ and popular vanguard in the very idea of socialism.
For our Internationalist Faction, and in contrast to the LIT, the fall of Stalinism does not worsen but sets the basis for the overcoming of the crisis of revolutionary leadership. This is the case because, in spite of the backwardness of mass consciousness in the East and the former USSR, which we do not ignore, we consider that the principal factor in overcoming the crisis of leadership, the collapse of the Stalinist apparatus worldwide and the strength of the spontaneity of the masses, which were straight-jacketed and which this collapse has liberated, are the main factors for the overcoming of the crisis of leadership, as the current upsurge in Western Europe demonstrates.
This is the case because the collapse of the apparatus which, for example, acted as a fifth column in the Spanish civil war, with the Stalinist GPU massacring the Trotskyists who were struggling so that the forces of proletarian revolution could overcome the limits imposed by the policy of the counterrevolution through the popular front, has been removed. Let us see how Trotsky defined the role of Stalinism in the Spanish revolution:
“When the situation on the property front became even more threatening than on the military front, the democrats of all colors, including the Anarchists, bowed before Stalin; and he found no other methods in his own arsenal than the methods of Franco.”
“The hounding of “Trotskyists”, POUMists, revolutionary Anarchists and left Socialists; the filthy slander; the false documents; the tortures in Stalinist prisons; the murders from ambush – without all of this the bourgeois regime could not have lasted even two months. The GPU proved to be the master of the situation only because it defended in the interests of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat more consistently than the others, i.e., with the greatest baseness and bloodthirstiness.” (41)
As the role of Stalinism in the case of the Spanish revolution demonstrates, the struggle for revolutionary class consciousness signifies a political and physical fight to the death against the counterrevolutionary apparatus of the workers’ movement.
In contrast to this, the semi-idealist position of the LIT leads to complete capitulation to the counterrevolutionary apparatus. To begin with, where does the monumental backwardness in the level of consciousness of the masses of Russia and the East come from, if not from the existence of the Stalinist apparatus which oppressed and repressed them, thus creating a consciousness hostile to socialism? On the other hand, let us call things by their name: the negative definition of backward consciousness, is, to define it positively, pro-capitalist consciousness. And where does this come from, if not from the counterrevolutionary apparatus such as Social Democracy, petty-bourgeois currents and primarily this very bureaucracy which, from Gorbachev to the state apparatus, poisoned mass consciousness by sowing it with illusions in capitalist reforms?
From their interpretation of backward consciousness an anti-Leninist conception arises: for the LIT, the struggle for revolutionary class consciousness is not a struggle against the apparatus, but simply an ideological fight waged with propaganda for socialism. We would not be Trotskyists, and we would not be polemicizing like this, if we were to deny the theoretical political struggle and the need of propaganda to organize class conscious workers into our ranks, but this is an indispensible component of the Trotskyist movement, so long as it is placed at the service of the struggle against the counterrevolutionary apparatus in the workers’ movement. As Lenin said, “the most purposeful, most comprehensive and specific expression of the political struggle of classes is the struggle of parties”, and it is this which needs to be put into practice. This political struggle between parties, which by the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth had manifested itself as an ideological struggle, manifests itself now in equal part in the epoch of “wars and revolutions” as violent class confrontations. As the Transitional Program says, it is an “uncompromising war”, even including a physical one, against the counterrevolutionary apparatus that lead the workers’ movement.
Revolutionary class consciousness will not be gained without having an understanding of the need to confront those organizations within the hearth of the workers’ movement that, with dollars and hired thugs, buy off or openly repress the vanguard, to stand in the way of moving towards revolution.
This is, of course, unless one thinks that revolutionary class consciousness is “socialist consciousness” in general. For us, “socialist consciousness”, separated from the intransigent fight against reformist or bureaucratic leaderships, is neither revolutionary nor class consciousness, it is bourgeois consciousness similar to that held by those who vote for the Italian Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS – Democratic Party of the Left, the right-wing of the former Communist Part of Italy). This is the essential difference between revolutionary class consciousness and “socialist consciousness” acquired through propaganda, the first one is constructed in the fight against the counterrevolutionary apparatus while the latter is made in their shadow through adaptation to it.
The ‘Revolutionary United Front’
All the tendencies of the LIT adopted the policy voted at its 1985 Congress as their own: the FUR, Revolutionary United Front.
Such an orientation was presented at this Congress as a “tactic for the construction of revolutionary parties”. Curiously, after almost a decade it is still being presented as a tactic. What we are in the presence of here is either a strategy or a tactic for a whole period, that is to say, the negation of a tactic.
An honest revolutionary can see in the policy of the FUR a break in the road in moving towards the overcoming of the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat.
What is certain is that each section of the LIT has used this “tactic” to justify doing whatever they like. A few years ago in Mexico and Colombia, it was used to capitulate to a populist current of a Mexican neighborhood leader América Baroa, and to the Colombian petty bourgeois guerrilla currents in “A Luchar”; these currents even ended up dragging a section of the Colombian PST leadership to guerrillaism.
This policy is of no use for the construction of revolutionary parties, because it quite simply capitulates to such organizations. According to the definition of Moreno in the “Report to the First Congress” of the LIT: “The Revolutionary United Front is the unity of all those ones that raise the idea of revolution against the capitalist regime”.
To these organizations a “minimum revolutionary program” was proposed. That is to say, to these guerrilla organizations, Maoists or philo-Stalinists, which have the method that is customary of the guerrilla of the physical liquidation of internal opponents, a “minimum” program of general definitions “against the capitalist regime” was proposed. And what definition was demanded from them in relation to Stalinism and Castroism, forces which have liquidated the Central American revolution? Even if you add a whole lot of “socialist propaganda” to this, this is still capitulation. The program of the FUR is “minimum”, but it is not revolutionary. The “minimum” program may set one apart from the bourgeoisie and its parties but it is not revolutionary because it does not separate us from the bourgeois agents in the workers’ movement.
To see just where these policies can go, we want to stop and look at the case of the LIT section in Brazil. Convergência Socialista (Socialist Convergence) has begun, after the mobilizations of 1992, to move increasingly to the right. Today, it says “the use of the FUR tactic can have more possibilities of concretization in the process we are living through, than it has before. We characterize this the beginning of a re-composition of the mass movement, after the overthrow of the dictatorships in the East. It is probable that we are going to encounter more vanguard sectors that are breaking with the apparatus and coming to revolutionary positions than we have before”. (42) And it has launched the constitution of the FUR into a party, the Brazilian PSTU.
In short, CS says something like “before, when Stalinism existed, it was more difficult to concretize the FUR”. It later affirms that now, “since the collapse of the dictatorships in the East [there are] more vanguard sectors breaking with the apparatus and coming to revolutionary positions …”.
Convergência transforms the general tendency to the weakening of the interventions, due to the collapse of Stalinism as a world apparatus, into an absolute law. They fall again into the conception of a “vacuum of leadership”. They say this while they build a united party with union bureaucrats from the CUT!!
Convergência has signed a Letter of “Principles” with the component currents of the FUR–PSTU. There is no mention in them of the struggle against the counterrevolutionary apparatus that are currently in Brazil. There is no declaration about the bureaucracy of the Cuban workers’ state or its counterrevolutionary role on the continent. There is no mention of the São Paulo Forum, which sees not only the participation of the PT, but also all the “modernized” Stalinists, Castroists and Social Democrats of Latin America. The Letter of “Principles” mentions none of this, and so leaves the door open to all these sectors.
All the talk about the policy of the FUR helping to construct a revolutionary party is shown for what it is. The PSTU is the bridge that will lead Convergência towards a “Poumist” type of party with “modernised” Stalinists remnants such as the Partido da Liberação Proletária (PLP – Party of Proletarian Liberation), philo-Castroists such as those in the Liga (The League – a left-wing union tendency in the CUT) and unionists of any stripe.
In Spain in 1931, the POUM of Andres Nin signed, along with the Catalan Federation, the Declaration of the so-called “Workers’ and Peasants Bloc”. The likeness between this action of the POUM and that of Convergência is astonishing. This declaration of the POUM, just like the letter of “Principles” of the PSTU, did not clearly set itself apart from the reformist apparatus. The critique of Trotsky at that time was that: “The name of the Socialist Party is not mentioned in the platform. Not a word is said about the anarcho-syndicalists. The official Communist party is not mentioned. One might say that the “Workers’ and Peasants Bloc” is prepared to act in the void.” (43)
As we know, the POUM ended up supporting the Popular Front. This did not prevent it from being attacked by the Stalinist GPU. In 1937 Trotsky said: “That the POUM nevertheless fell victim to bloody and base repressions was due to the failure of the Popular Front to fulfil its mission, namely to stifle the socialist revolution – except by cutting off, piece by piece, its own left flank.” (44)
In another chapter of this work we have seen how the CS, which is hegemonic within the PSTU, is leaning dangerously towards a policy of capitulation to a likely government of the Popular Front headed by Lula in Brazil. Will the CS–PSTU have the same tragic destiny as the POUM of Nin? Has the CS started on a course with the PSTU that the LIT will follow towards the construction of parties of the ‘Poumist’ type?
Only the determined struggle of a faction for Trotskyism within the LIT can break the course of Convergência, which is today the final expression of a policy that yields to the reformist leaderships.
Our Internationalist Faction considers it indispensible, while on the road to the reconstruction of the Fourth International, to have the policy of blocs with centrist groupings that are evolving to the left which could lead to future principled fusions.
In 1933, Trotsky and the International Left Opposition, along with three centrist workers’ parties, signed the so-called “Declaration of the Four” and constituted the “Bloc of Four”.
What was the policy of the founders of the Fourth International?
The method of Trotsky has nothing to do with the LIT and its FUR. To begin with the Left Opposition did not sign any “minimum” program; it only signed a declaration that committed it to “elaborate a programmatic manifesto as the charter of new International”. Second, the declaration called for the formation of a new International, on principled bases, and not a centrist regroupment with these organizations. And most importantly, there were no general declarations about the capitalist regime and the revolution in the sense of the LIT; their declarations included forceful definitions in relation to the counterrevolutionary apparatus: the Second Social Democratic International and the Stalinist Comintern. What has this got to do with the LIT and their unprincipled FUR front?
What is the position of the currents of the LIT? Are they with the method of Trotsky as applied to the “Bloc of Four” as a policy for the reconstruction of the Fourth International, or with the FUR of Moreno which does not set itself apart from the counterrevolutionary apparatus and leads to the dissolution of Trotskyism within its centrist regroupments?
Finally, a theory and program such as this needs similar parties and a policy of international construction. Those of the LIT are centrist policies that do not consistently struggle against the counterrevolutionary apparatus within the workers’ movement, with a strategy for the reconstruction of the Fourth International.
In the call we are making to the International Executive Committee of the LIT, we are asking for the admission of our current, the Internationalist Faction, into the pre-Congress discussions and the Congress of the LIT. Our intention: to regroup all those who want to struggle for the LIT to be transformed into an international tendency in the service of the reconstruction of the Fourth International on principled foundations. Our goal: to unite the left wings of the Trotskyist movement in a Movement for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International expunged of revisionists. In this work we have attempted to lay the theoretical and political foundations, that which our current considers to be the principled basis for such a regrouping within the LIT.
(1) “Tesis sobre la nueva época” (Thesis on the New Epoch), Socialismo Rivoluzionario (Revolutionary Socialism).
(2) Nahuel Moreno, “Party Cadres’ School: Argentina 1984”. Ediciones El Socialista, Buenos Aires, 2015 .*
(3) Nahuel Moreno, “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”, Ediciones El Socialista, Buenos Aires, 2014.*
(4) “Tesis sobre la nueva época”.
(5) “Tesis sobre la nueva época”.
(6) Moreno, “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”.*
(7) Leon Trotsky, “A Letter on the Italian Revolution”, May 1930
(8) Leon Trotsky, “Introduction to the First (Russian) Edition”, The Permanent Revolution, (1931).
(9) Leon Trotsky, “Whither France?”, (November 1934).
(10) Moreno, “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”.*
(12) Leon Trotsky, “The Lessons of Spain – The Last Warning” (December 1937).
(17) Moreno, “Party Cadres’ School: Argentina 1984”. *
(18) Trotsky, “A Letter on the Italian Revolution.
(19) Trotsky, “A Letter on the Italian Revolution”.
(20) Leon Trotsky, “What is the Permanent Revolution: Basic Postulates”, The Permanent Revolution (1931).
(22) Trotsky, “Introduction to the First (Russian) Edition”.
(24) Trotsky, “What is the Permanent Revolution: Basic Postulates”.
(25) Moreno, “Party Cadres’ School: Argentina 1984”.*
(26) Trotsky & Preobrazhensky, “Letters on the Chinese Revolution”, New International, Vol. 3 No. 2 (April 1936).
(30) Leon Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, (1931).
(31) Moreno, “Revolutions of the Twentieth Century”.*
(32) Leon Trotsky, “Ultralefts in General and Incurable Ultralefts in Particular” (September 1937).
(33) Correo Internacional (International Courier), LIT, No. 44, page 17.
(34) Leon Trotsky, “Independence of the Ukraine and Sectarian Muddleheads”, (July 1939). .
(35) Leon Trotsky, The Transitional Program (1938).
(38) “Ante el proyecto de tesis sobre el Frente Popular” (About the Draft Thesis on the Popular Front), Convergência Socialista, International Bulletin of the LIT.
(39) Trotsky, The Transitional Program.
(40) “Tesis sobre la nueva época”.
(41) Trotsky, “The Lessons of Spain – The Last Warning”.
(42) “Sobre el PSTU” (On the PSTU), Convergência Socialista, International Bulletin of the LIT.
(43) Leon Trotsky, “The Catalan Federation’s Platform” (June 1931).
(44) Trotsky, “The Lessons of Spain – The Last Warning”.
* Denotes that minor changes have been made to the cited English versions for readability.
This article was first published in Spanish in Estrategia Internacional #3, December 1993 / January 1994. A first English translation was published on the web site www.ft.org.ar. A heavily revised English translation by Sean Robertson was published on Left Voice in 2019.