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Who Is the Trotskyist Fraction?

Left Voice is part of an international network of revolutionary online newspapers. That network is published by the Trotskyist Fraction.

Nathaniel Flakin

December 28, 2019
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In the last few months a number of important revolutionary socialist organizations around the world have suffered crises and splits, including the Partido Obrero (PO, Workers Party) in Argentina, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the United States, and the Committee for a Workers International (CWI). These events raise an important question: What kind of international organization do socialists need today?

Left Voice is part of the La Izquierda Diario network. With twelve digital newspapers in eight languages, it is the largest network of revolutionary publications in the world today. La Izquierda Diario in Argentina receives three million visits each month, while Esquérda Diario in Brazil gets two million (with peaks of up to 6.5 million hits in a single month). Révolution Permanente in France received two million visits a month while reporting on the yellow vest movement. Left Voice is much smaller than its sibling publications, but it is growing fast.

But the Left Voice/La Izquierda Diario network is not just a publication. It is the organ of the Trotskyist Fraction—Fourth International (Fracción Trotskista–Cuarta Internacional, FT-CI).The FT-CI is composed of a dozen organizations in Latin America and Europe. It has sections in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, the Spanish State, France, Germany, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia, as well as sympathizing organizations in Costa Rica, Peru, and Italy.

A Very Brief History

The Trotskyist Fraction emerged in 1988 when the Movement for Socialism (MAS) in Argentina, the organization that had been built up by Nahuel Moreno, expelled a large part of its youth organization. These young members had been carrying out an internal struggle in defense of Trotsky’s theory-program of permanent revolution, and against the MAS’s adaptations to Stalinism. They founded the Party of Socialist Workers (PTS). Together with a group of comrades who had been expelled from the MAS’s sister organization in Mexico, who had formed the League of Socialist Workers (LTS), they set up an international tendency.

Founded in the darkest times of neoliberalism in the 1990s, the FT-CI began as a defensive project. In those times, one often heard leftist academics claiming that the working class no longer existed, or even that history had come to an end. Trotskyists had to defend the basic ideas of Marxism while doggedly trying to build up structures among students and workers. It was only with the Arab Spring in 2011, and more generally with the end of the bourgeois restoration, that the FT-CI could go on the offensive.

The FT-CI established new groups in different Latin American countries in the 1990s. Starting in 2006, new groups from the Spanish State and France fused with the FT-CI. This year, the FT gathered up to 350 workers and young people for a European summer camp in France. And in the US, Left Voice was launched in 2015.

Class Struggle

For revolutionary socialists, it is not enough to propose a Marxist program. Only revolutionary fractions in the working class, especially its most concentrated sectors, can give examples of putting this program into practice. The organizations of the FT-CI have been on the front lines of important struggles by industrial workers, train and subway drivers, airport workers, university workers, and many other sectors of the working class. One important struggle that won national and international attention for the PTS was the strike at the Kraft-Terrabusi food factory in Buenos Aires in 2009–10. Hundreds of workers fought for months, defying brutal repression, to stop mass layoffs by an imperialist multinational. Their old (Maoist) leadership betrayed the struggle by signing a contract that accepted some of the layoffs. But the workers continued to fight, and they won, later electing a Trotskyist leadership for their works council.

The ceramics factory Zanon in Neuquén Province was a particularly interesting example. When the owner, as a result of the profound crisis of 2001, tried to throw all five hundred workers into the street, they occupied the plant. Soon they resumed production under workers’ control, a factory without bosses! Under the leadership of Trotskyist workers, they decided every aspect of production in democratic assemblies and campaigned for the factory to be nationalized. Something similar happened fifteen years later at RR Donnelley, the Argentine subsidiary of a US printing corporation. Both at Zanon and Donnelley (which has been renamed Madygraf), the workers continue producing under workers’ control.

In social movements that have mobilized millions of people around the world, the organizations of the FT-CI have fought to link these with the social power of the working class. When the Yellow Vest movement shook the neoliberal Bonapartist Macron government in France, train drivers joined the protests in their neon orange vests, showing how the Yellow Vests could develop their full potential only if they organized in work places and pressured their bureaucratic trade union leaders to call a general strike. In the same way, the FT-CI was part of the Indignados movement in the Spanish State, where young people occupied public squares and demanded “real democracy now!” Trotskyists built up revolutionary factions that took the movement from the squares to the workplaces.

Against Oppression

Feminism is not a secondary question for Marxists. In recent years, the women’s movement has been one of the most dynamic factors of the class struggle. Particularly in Argentina and Spain, millions of women have gone out onto the streets to protest sexist violence and to fight for the right to abortion. These movements have given a new impulse to the workers’ movement, putting the idea of mass strikes back to the center of political discussions.

The FT-CI has built up the largest socialist women’s organization in the world, known as Pan y Rosas/Bread and Roses/Pão e Rosas/Du Pain et des Roses/Brot und Rosen. Pan y Rosas organizes women’s commissions in workplaces and has mobilized up to five thousand comrades to the national women’s meetings in Argentina. The book Pan y rosas by Andrea D’Atri has been translated into half a dozen languages, and last year, almost two thousand people attended talks by D’Atri across Europe.

In Brazil, the FT-CI also supports a socialist organization for Black people, known as Quilombo Vermelho (the red quilombo). In Brazil, as in the United States, the struggle for Black liberation is central to the struggle against capitalism. Black people need their own special organizations as part of a general revolutionary movement.

Revolutionary Election Campaigns

Communists are not electoralists. We do not believe that fundamental social change can come from a bourgeois parliament. We are revolutionaries because we know that the capitalists’ state must be smashed in order to build socialism. Nonetheless, we think we can use electoral work to spread socialist ideas. We use seats in parliament as a tribune to denounce every form of oppression and to encourage workers’ organization and mobilization.

Since 2011, the PTS in Argentina has been the leading force of the Workers’ Left Front (FIT), an electoral coalition made up of three Trotskyist parties. The FIT has held up to three seats in the national congress, and a total of forty elected positions across the country. FIT representatives are workers who are paid a workers’ wage. The FIT’s presidential candidate is PTS member Nicolás del Caño, who has been on the front line of every major workers’ struggle in recent years, suffering repression alongside workers on many occasions.

The MTS has similarly run anti-capitalist candidates in elections in Mexico City, remaining completely independent of the country’s center-left bourgeois president, Manuel Andrés López Obrador. The MRT in Brazil has run candidates on the lists of the neo reformist party PSOL (owing to Brazil’s undemocratic election laws) while remaining openly critical of the PSOL, its reformist strategy, and its conciliatory politics toward the PT. The CCR in France is part of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), and we fight inside the NPA for a revolutionary party based in the working class.

Building a Revolutionary Socialist International

The FT-CI fights to build up revolutionary workers’ parties. In the age of imperialism, a revolutionary party cannot be limited to a single country. Our goal is to build up a new revolutionary international—which for us can only be the re-foundation of the Fourth International based on its historical program. We do not believe that an international will be built by the growth of our own tendency We seek to converge with other socialists around the world, drawing the same lessons from the central questions of the international class struggle.

We published a Manifesto for a Revolutionary Socialist International in 2013 as an attempt to regroup revolutionaries. On the basis of this manifesto, we have won new sympathizing sections in Italy, Costa Rica, and Peru.

These big questions are often centered on the struggle for the political independence of the working class. To name a few recent examples: We defend Venezuela from all imperialist aggressions, but we give no political support to the left Bonapartist governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. Instead, we fought for the political independence of the working class as the only social subject that could lead the struggle to break with imperialism and establish socialism. The neoreformist party Syriza in Greece got broad support from the international left, but after it won the elections, it implemented a brutal austerity program; Podemos in the Spanish State has not entered a national government, but it is desperately trying to form a coalition with the social democrats and repeat Syriza’s experience. We are opposed to these neoreformist projects that promise to solve the crisis of capitalism by establishing “left wing” coalition governments with social democracy. In Brazil, we opposed the imperialist-led institutional coup against the Workers Party while refusing to give any political support to the reformists of Latin America’s “Pink Tide.”

The revolutionary socialist left internationally is going through dramatic changes, as evidenced by the crises of the PO, the ISO, and the CWI, among others. The FT-CI is committed to playing a role in the reorganization of socialists around the world. Left Voice, for its part, is trying to give an English-speaking expression to that project.

Left Voice / La Izquierda Diario Network

Argentina: La Izquierda Diario

Brazil: Esquerda Diário

Mexico: La Izquierda Diario

Chile: La Izquierda Diario

Spain: IzquierdaDiario.es

Catalonia: EsquerraDiari.cat

France: Révolution Permanente

Germany: Klasse Gegen Klasse

Uruguay: La Izquierda Diario

Venezuela: La Izquierda Diario

Bolivia: La Izquierda Diario

Italy: La Voce Delle Lotte

Trotskyist Fraction—Fourth International

Argentina: Socialist Workers Party (PTS)

Brazil: Revolutionary Workers Movement (MRT)

France: Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR)

Chile: Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT)

Mexico: Socialist Workers Movement (MTS)

Venezuela: Workers League for Socialism (LTS)

Germany: Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO)

Bolivia: Revolutionary Workers League—Fourth International (LOR-CI)

Costa Rica: Socialist Organization (OS) (sympathizing)

Peru: Socialist Workers Current (CST) (sympathizing)

Italy: Revolutionary Internationalist Fraction (FIR) (sympathizing)

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Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from Berlin. He is on the editorial board of Left Voice and our German sister site Klasse Gegen Klasse. Nathaniel, also known by the nickname Wladek, has written a biography of Martin Monath, a Trotskyist resistance fighter in France during World War II, which has appeared in German, in English, and in French. He is on the autism spectrum.

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