Source: International Socialist Review
Transcription\HTML Markup: Andrew Pollack.
THE healing of a ten-year-old division in the ranks of the majority of the Fourth International—the World Party of the Socialist Revolution—which took place at a Reunification Congress held in Italy in June, marks a most encouraging step forward for the movement founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938.
The two groupings of the Fourth International that participated in the reunification were headed by the International Secretariat and the International Committee, the views of the latter being supported in the United States by the Socialist Workers Party. With the fusion, the “United Secretariat of the Fourth International,” representing a joint leadership, was elected to replace the former bodies and to head the reunified movement.
For some years the majority of both sides had felt that the political and organizational differences which appeared in 1953 and which precipitated a split the following year had been largely superseded by events. While substantial differences remained, they were considered to be of secondary importance in face of the necessity and feasibility of combining forces on a world scale on the basis of a principled program. At the Reunification Congress, leaders of both sides stated that they had not changed their views about the past dispute, but all of them agreed on the advisability of deferring attempts at historic assessments and of putting the unsettled differences aside for consideration at a later date after common work and new joint experiences can be expected to have overcome whatever factional feelings remain from the past.
A document submitted for the consideration of the world Trotskyist movement by the Political Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, advocating early reunification on the basis of sixteen points, was adopted unanimously at the Reunification Congress as a statement of the fundamental principles on which both sides stand. By this action the document became a charter of the reunification.
The three main areas of agreement are outlined as follows:
First of all, in highly condensed form, the document restates the views put forward by Trotsky in the “Transitional Program” of 1938, explaining the agonizing world crisis of our times as reflecting at bottom a “prolonged crisis in revolutionary leadership” in face of the need to go forward from capitalism to socialism. The delay of the world socialist revolution is ascribed to the incapacities and betrayals of the traditional working-class leadership; i.e., the trade union, Social Democratic and Stalinist bureaucracies. Strong emphasis is placed on the need for constructing revolutionary-socialist parties, and certain tactical problems in this process, involving membership in existing mass proletarian parties (“entryism”), are noted. A special point reaffirms the principles of democratic centralism.
Trotsky’s characterization of the Soviet Union as a workers’ state that must be defended and of the Stalinist bureaucracy as a parasitic caste that must be opposed and overthrown is likewise reaffirmed.
Secondly, the analogous analyses made by the Fourth International of the new workers’ states which have appeared since Trotsky’s death are included. Prominent in this section is the characterization of Cuba as a workers’ state.
Thirdly, in the current world political scene, de-Stalinization is recognized as a two-sided development of prime importance, involving welcome concessions to the masses but intended by the bureaucracy to bolster and prolong its own arbitrary rule against the pressures for proletarian democracy. The differences that finally shattered the Stalinist monolith, now most dramatically displayed in the Chinese-Soviet dispute, are held to have been fostered by deep-going revolutionary processes, evident above all in the colonial world.
The prominent role of the peasantry and of guerrilla warfare in the colonial revolution since the end of World War II is noted as an experience that “must be consciously incorporated into the strategy of building revolutionary Marxist parties in colonial countries.”
This section ends with strong stress on potential developments in the imperialist countries where, it is held, the final decisive battles will occur, determining whether civilization will be reduced to radioactive ruins or go forward to the enduring peace made possible by a socialist reorganization of society.
IN ADDITION to the political positions indicated above, the document makes organizational recommendations to be considered at a subsequent congress “which, without breaching the centralist side of democratic centralism, would remove any doubts that might still remain as to the guarantee of democratic rights contained in the statutes.”
The Reunification Congress adopted three other important documents. Two of them deal with current developments in the Soviet bloc countries and with the Chinese-Soviet dispute. The third one, “The Dynamics of World Revolution Today,” is a study of the dialectical interrelationship of long-range trends in three sectors, the colonial world, the Soviet bloc and the imperialist countries. We are publishing it in this issue of the International Socialist Review.
The reunification of the Fourth International was a conscious response to the widening opportunities for building revolutionary-socialist parties. In 1953 the world Trotskyist movement was under heavy pressure from two major unfavorable developments. One was that although the establishment of workers’ states in Eastern Europe and the victory of the Chinese Revolution were highly progressive events, an immediate consequence was the temporary strengthening of Stalinism. The other was the quiescence of the class struggle in the United States and the rise of McCarthyism. Today the situation is quite different. The strengthening of the Soviet Union through the proliferation of planned economies and the relative weakening of imperialism finally broke up Stalinist monolithism and gave fresh actuality to the program of Trotskyism in the land of its birth. The colonial revolution has shaken all Asia, Africa and Latin America, bringing the heartening developments in Algeria and placing a workers’ state within ninety miles of Florida. In the United States itself, the great citadel of world reaction, social stagnation has been broken with the rise of the Negro struggle in new and dynamic forms.
To the majority of Trotskyists throughout the world it became increasingly self-evident that the continued division of the Fourth International was anachronistic and that vigorous efforts must be made to heal the split so that united forces could be brought to bear in the promising situations developing in all directions. The victory of the Cuban Revolution and the fact that both sides, through parallel analyses, reached virtually identical conclusions concerning its meaning powerfully reinforced the trend toward reunification.
While the overwhelming majority of the Trotskyist movement, representing twenty-six countries, have now been united, two minority groupings refused to participate. The holdouts are a faction headed by J. Posadas, located principally in Latin America, which split from the International Secretariat last year, and a minority of the International Committee forces headed by Gerry Healy, a faction based mainly in Britain and France. To justify their opposition to reunification, both groupings have developed political differences with the majority of the world Trotskyist movement and appear rather deliberately to be seeking fresh disputes.
The Posadas tendency held a conference last year in secret from the rest of the Trotskyist movement. The delegates then announced that they had held an “Extraordinary Conference of the IVth International” and had adopted a “historical Resolution to be the international Provisional leadership until the Extraordinary World Conference, which this Conference summons.” Since then the faction has called itself the “IVth International.”
It has published typographical facsimiles of genuine publications of the Fourth International. (Despite the paucity of members, the grouping is impressively energetic about getting out publications.) At first glance, so far as the names and mastheads are concerned, these are indistinguishable from the originals; and the counterfeits, which are heavily loaded with articles and speeches that either are signed by Posadas or done in perfect imitation of his verbose and turgid style, have led to some confusion, especially in Latin America.
The main political position distinguishing the Posadas grouping is that it advocates the “right” of the Soviet Union to “initiate” nuclear war. The first issue of a newspaper distributed by the faction in England puts it this way: “One of the slogans under which the Extraordinary Conference took place was: ’THE BOLSHEVIK MILITANT OF THIS EPOCH IS HE WHO IS PREPARED TO FACE THE LAST SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND THE WORKERS’ STATES—WHICH WILL BE SETTLED WITHIN THE NUCLEAR WAR—HE WHO IS PREPARED ALSO TO FACE ITS CONSEQUENCES.” (Emphasis in original.)
In a resolution passed by a “First Congress of the Revolutionary Workers Party (Trotskyists)” held recently in England, the invitation to join Posadas in preparing for doomsday is explained: The “permeating of the once-staid British society by violence in every sphere, will find its final expression in a desperate rallying of forces for the final throw.” This will be a “final military showdown against the workers’ states and colonial revolution.” The projected “cataclysmic reckoning” is described as being at the very heart of all politics today. “The Third World War is the coming reality, and any failure to point this out with absolute honesty to the workers, preparing them for the dreadful destruction and, at the same time, the decisive opportunity for seizing power which this war before or during it, affords, is treachery to bolshevism and a monstruous betrayal of the class.”
IT MUST be granted that fear of a nuclear world war has a strong basis in current reality. The majority of the Fourth International agree on that and, in fact, the Trotskyist movement has been sounding the alarm since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The differences with Posadas occur on two points. First, the Fourth International takes a much graver view of the possible consequences of a nuclear war than Posadas does. In the opinion of all other Trotskyists it could well mean the finish of civilization if not all the higher forms of life on our globe. Posadas, in contrast, believes that a “communist society” could rapidly be constructed on the wreckage. Secondly, Posadas believes that nothing can be done to prevent nuclear war; it should indeed be welcomed as the necessary means to clear away capitalism. The Fourth International, in opposition to this view, is confident that the working class will prove able to avert the disaster in time through socialist revolution.
Posadas does not engage in much discussion on these questions. His method is the simple one of denouncing the “opportunism,” “capitulation,” and “betrayal” of the “former Trotskyists—Pablo, Germain, Frank, Cannon, Healy.”
Here is a fair sample of the Posadas view of the majority of the Trotskyist movement: “Lacking confidence in the immense revolutionary elan of the workers awaiting revolutionary leadership, this clique is in tow to the so-called ’left’ in the labour and peace movements. They deny the possibility and even the need of open revolutionary sections. They flinch from preparing the workers for war and the seizure of power.”
When Posadas passed his “historical Resolution,” declaring himself “to be” the leadership of the Fourth International, he could count on forces in a number of Latin-American countries. At the time, he headed the “Latin-American Bureau,” a regional subdivision of the movement, and he had utilized this body in factional preparations for his coup. As it became clear that his revelations about the political death of the parent body scarcely corresponded to the reality, he ran into trouble. The important Bolivian section, for instance, repudiated him and his “Latin-American Bureau” virtually unanimously. Elsewhere splits in his ranks have occurred. On the other hand some vigorous personal crusading in Europe has won him a few new converts. Likewise, the Cuban Trotskyists remain faithful to the “Latin-American Bureau,” and their newspaper Voz Proletaria, which appears regularly in Havana, thus unfortunately presents a rather bizarre image of “Trotskyism” as it criticizes Castro for his stubborn centrist failure to accept the hard gospel of Saint Posadas about a coming nuclear Apocalypse and how to win redemption by speeding it up.
The other tendency which has opposed reunification is led by Gerry Healy, the secretary of the Socialist Labour League. Healy, to his credit, does not share the views of Posadas about an inevitable nuclear doomsday that should be speeded up. He does hold with Posadas, however, that the leaders of the majority of the world Trotskyist movement have gone over to “opportunism” and “betrayed Trotskyism.” (In the interests of strict accuracy a shading must be noted in this common view. Healy differs with Posadas on one point, holding that the name of Healy should not be included in the list of betrayers.)
Healy is of the opinion that the reunification itself is a “betrayal.” The reasons he advances for this view are that reunification must be preceded by a full accounting of the differences of 1953-54, an assessment of responsibility, and corresponding acknowledgments of guilt. Any reunification without these prerequisites, Healy contends, is unprincipled, can only prove ephemeral, and he will have nothing to do with.
It was argued against this that the world Trotskyist movement is not monolithic. Groupings with much deeper differences than opposing views over who was right in a past dispute can coexist and collaborate in the same revolutionary-socialist organization under the rules of democratic centralism. In the Socialist Workers Party, for instance, even a state-capitalist grouping has lived for years without undue friction. Why should not common political positions on the key issues of the day prove to be powerful enough to cement the two sides of the Fourth International despite differences over the past?
The reasonableness of this reply gave Healy trouble. His response was to probe more strenuously for current political differences that would preclude reunification. This search, however, led him to develop some rather far-reaching political differences of his own that finally brought him into grave opposition with the majority of the International Committee as well as the International Secretariat.
These differences became sharpest over estimates and policies in relation to the colonial revolution, above all the Cuban Revolution.
The majority of the world Trotskyist movement long ago came to the conclusion that Cuba is a workers’ state and that under Castro’s leadership it has entered the road toward socialism; the Cuban Revolution, in fact, being the opening of the socialist revolution in the Western Hemisphere. Even Posadas shares this view. The British and French sectors of the International Committee are virtually alone in holding otherwise. In an article last year, “Trotskyism Betrayed,” the National Committee of the Socialist Labour League maintained the outlandish position that the “state foundations” in Cuba remain “capitalist.” The regime, we are told, “is a variety of capitalist state power.” Castro, it is argued, “did not create a qualitatively new and different type of state from the Batista regime.”
Healy is quite serious in thus comparing the revolutionary Cuban government to the Batista regime. He goes even further, listing Castro himself as just another “Chiang Kai-shek.”
These weird conclusions are derived from a simple-minded sectarian pattern of thought: It is impossible to carry a revolution forward to the successful establishment of a workers’ state without the preceding construction in every instance of a revolutionary-socialist party. Such a party did not exist in Cuba before the revolution. Therefore, no workers’ state was established. Therefore, what exists in Cuba must be capitalist.
It proved quite useless to call Healy’s attention to the changes in Cuba’s economic, social and political structure successfully carried out under Castro’s leadership. To insist on the facts, Healy maintained, is to reveal that you are not a dialectical materialist but an “empiricist.”
Similar fantasies now determine Healy’s policies in many fields. In the Negro struggle in the United States, he concentrates his attacks on the “clerics,” the Muslims and the Socialist Workers Party, which he holds to be “opportunistic” because it raises partial, transitional slogans. In Algeria, instead of joining in centering fire on the dangerous neocolonialist tendency, he singles out Ben Bella and the Trotskyists as the enemy. In Britain itself the “fake lefts” are his main target. Everybody to the right of Healy is denounced as a “betrayer.” In brief, instead of advancing to meet the leftward moving stream in Britain, Healy is taking the opposite direction—towards deeper isolation.
Speaking at the July convention of the Socialist Workers Party on the ultra-left, sectarian, isolationist, anti-international course now being followed by the National Committee of the Socialist Labour League, James P. Cannon, National Chairman of the SWP and the most experienced leader in the world Trotskyist movement, came to the conclusion, “The SLL is doomed.”
Despite the direction in which Healy was moving, every effort was made to bring the minority of the International Committee into the reunification. They were invited to participate in a preliminary conference of the majority of the International Committee. They were invited to send observers to the Seventh World Congress of the forces of the International Secretariat, and to send observers to the Reunification Congress of the Fourth International. Healy brushed the invitations aside.
He went still further. Instead of seeking friendly relations with the united Fourth International, he publicly attacked both the Reunification Congress and the Socialist Workers Party, using, of course, the epithets of “betrayal” to which his vocabulary has become more and more reduced. This was the opening of a campaign to further enlarge the already formidable differences which he has developed. To give his attacks more authority, he utilized the name “International Committee,” although the majority of this grouping participated in the Reunification Congress and now constitute part of the united movement. In this, Healy echoed the not-so-novel organizational methods of Posadas.
The course now being followed by Healy and Posadas and their followers is much to be regretted. Under the democratic centralism which governs the Fourth International, they could have maintained their political views within the organization and sought to win a majority. The fact that they rejected this course is the strongest possible proof either that they are opposed to democratic centralism or that they consider their political differences with the rest of the world Trotskyist movement to be so profound that collaborating in a common organization is excluded in principle.
The two factions combined, however, constitute only a small minority. While they can prove to be a problem in certain areas, they can scarcely affect the progress of the Trotskyist movement as a whole.
It would have been Utopian to hope that the Fourth International could be reunited one hundred percent and at a single stroke. Immense events have occurred since the end of the war and the Trotskyist movement, which is a living movement, suffered its own crises in attempting to meet them on the theoretical and practical level. The Cuban Revolution, coming at the close of a long process (and, we hope, the beginning of a new one), had the effect of precipitating many things.
In the Trotskyist movement, it increased the pressure for reunification and thereby also had the opposite effect of bringing out defects in theoretical understanding and political capacity. The end result was a clarifying process that forced the movement as a whole to review all that it has accomplished, particularly on the theoretical level, since the end of the war. In the intensive internal discussion, the analyses of the character of the state and regime in China, Yugoslavia, and even the East European countries came up. Some switches occurred in these areas, too, as comrades discovered that they hadn’t really grasped the previous theoretical work or at least all of its implications. Misunderstandings were cleared up in some cases; masks came off in others. All the various shadings of opinion are now fairly well recorded either publicly or in discussion bulletins available to the membership of the Trotskyist movement. This alone represents a considerable achievement and a big step forward.
DESPITE the wildness evident in their positions, both the Posadas and Healy factions are doctrinaire. The revolutionary Marxist movement correctly stresses the importance of building a revolutionary-socialist party. Healy converts the principle into an absolute, excluding thereby any variation which reality may present us with. The case of Posadas is not much different. Marxists have long stressed that war has often proved to be a mother of revolutions. Posadas converts this into the dogma that revolution can have no other mother (forgetting Cuba!) and carries it to the absurd conclusion that the most destructive of wars will necessarily have the most progressive consequences.
Thus the leaders of both factions see broad guiding principles as absolute prescriptions. Instead of trying to apply doctrine in an intelligent way as a guide in the infinitely rich reality which the historical process compels the movement to face, they insist on reality conforming to doctrine on pain of non-recognition.
That these conservative tendencies did not succeed in holding back the majority from a dialectical appreciation of the great new achievements of the colonial revolution, and that they could not halt the process of reunification despite their bitter opposition to it, augurs well for the future of the Fourth International.
The reunification takes place against a background of unparalleled revolutionary opportunities. Thus, even though the healing of the split does not involve mass parties anywhere in the world, the substantial number of cadres it does bring together can move ahead rather rapidly. In a surprising number of countries they have already established promising beginnings. Where they have known how, in the tradition of Leninism, to adhere firmly to the basic principles of revolutionary socialism and yet adopt flexible tactics—and this is the case with the majority of the world Trotskyist movement—their prestige among vanguard workers and intellectuals is very high. In addition, they enjoy friendly relations with many of the new revolutionary and even socialist-minded currents that have been proliferating as one of the consequences of the rise of the colonial revolution, particularly after the victories in Cuba and Algeria. An upsurge in the class struggle could face these new currents, in association with Trotskyism, with the immediate opportunity to organize mass revolutionary-socialist parties and in some places put them in position to move toward a contest for power.
One of the most favorable sectors for such a turn of events is Latin America. Few days go by that do not bring news of coups or attempted coups, counter coups or attempted counter coups, as Fidel Castro noted in his July 26 speech. The spectacular shuffling of regimes in the recent period in places like Ecuador and Argentina, the downfall of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and the repeated efforts to similarly bring down Duvalier in neighboring Haiti are but the most visible symptoms of general social unrest reaching from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego. This rise in revolutionary potential on a continental scale is now common knowledge. What is not so commonly known is the reflection of this process in the radical movement.
The Cuban Revolution sent cleavages, sometimes with shattering impact, through all the political formations of the left. The Moscow-Peking dispute compounded the effect. The immediate results were a decline in the prestige, authority and attractive power of the traditional leftist parties, Communist as well as Social Democratic. Within these organizations, leftward moving tendencies developed and totally fresh parallel ones appeared here and there outside the old formations.
The subsidence of the old parties and incipient development of new formations has not proceeded in a simple way. On the contrary, sharp ups and downs show that it is a complex process. But three significant new facts should be noted: First, in places like Brazil and Peru, a tendency has appeared or grown stronger among the peasants to organize along trade-union lines. Secondly, in many areas guerrilla forces have gone into action, seeking quite consciously to follow the example of the Cuban and Chinese fighters. Thirdly, the student youth have repeatedly displayed a strong bent toward action based on independent estimates of what is required nationally. Sometimes the actions have developed on an impressive scale. To discount the priority of opinion in Moscow (or Peking) is a symptom of greatest significance, for it is one of the prime requisites to build national leaderships capable of independent analysis and action.
The weakening of the old Communist and Social Democratic parties in Latin America may seem to be a paradoxical effect of the Cuban Revolution. It may even appear that the Kennedy administration is succeeding in isolating the Cuban Revolution. The truth is that we are witnessing the displacement of bureaucratic roadblocks to revolution. It is part of the preparatory process for the rise of genuinely revolutionary parties. The other part of the preparatory process is the ideological ferment, the testing of ideas, the attempts—sometimes inept—to take the revolutionary initiative, the discussions and the assessment of experiences, and the regroupment and bringing together of revolutionists of widely different origin.
It is obvious that the unification of the major forces of world Trotskyism can help play a catalytic role in the formation of new leaderships in Latin America capable of following judiciously the example which Cuba set in opening the socialist revolution in the Western Hemisphere.
The prospects are hardly less bright in Africa where a whole series of new countries have emerged, through sometimes desperate struggles against imperialism, to take their place in the arena of world politics. Here the greatest hopes and expectations attach to Algeria. Although the newly independent country faces an exceedingly difficult situation inherited from more than a century of colonial slavery and seven and a half years of one of the bloodiest wars in history, its people have resolutely decided to move toward socialism. Already agriculture, Algeria’s main industry, has been nationalized in effect and its operation placed under Workers’ Council and Workers’ Management Committees. The example has not been lost on the rest of Africa and the Middle East, and Algiers is coming to be regarded as the Havana of the African continent and the Arab world.
The struggle against neocolonialism and against imperialism is far from won in Algeria. A polarization of forces has occurred, with the left wing rallying around Ben Bella against the neocolonialists. The Trotskyists in Algeria are very active in this struggle. Trotskyism, in general, has great prestige among broad circles of the Algerian vanguard because of its record in aiding the underground fighters in the most difficult days of their struggle.
IN THE Far East, the fires touched off by the Chinese Revolution continue to blaze. The Vietnam freedom fighters have put up such a heroic and effective struggle that more and more voices in Washington suggest withdrawing from the dirty war in which Kennedy involved America. The rise of pessimism in Washington is paralleled by increased optimism in the colonial world over the possibilities of a revolutionary outcome in Vietnam. A defeat for imperialism in Vietnam could have immense consequences in Indonesia and Malaya where the political stream continues to flow toward the left.
Trotskyism was at one time a strong force in Vietnam, but the leading Trotskyists were killed by the Japanese imperialists during the occupation or by the Stalinists and the movement has not yet recovered from the ferocious repression. In Asia, at the moment, the Trotskyists are strongest in Ceylon, where they head the labor movement and hold seats in parliament. The Trotskyist movement also has a base in India.
In both lands, where the movement goes back to the struggle for freedom from British imperialism, the Trotskyists strongly urged reunification on a world scale. Their representatives at the Reunification Congress expressed great satisfaction at the success that was recorded there and declared that it would have immediate benefits as well as greatly facilitate building the movement in other areas of the Far East with which they are in touch.
The opportunities for the relatively swift development of revolutionary-socialist forces in the colonial world are quite apparent. This is not so in the Soviet Union, the East European countries and China. In these lands, the main task of revolutionary socialism is to establish or to re-establish the proletarian democracy for which Lenin and Trotsky stood. But no organized tendency fighting for this aim is known to exist on any considerable scale. How long can the totalitarian forms of political rule continue to operate without generating an organized movement for the restoration or introduction of Leninist democracy? The fact is that conditions are quite ripe for its appearance, especially in the Soviet Union. De-Stalinization constitutes a series of concessions paid out to the masses in a calculated way by the bureaucracy in order to slow down, if not head off, this very tendency. The end effect of de-Stalinization, however, will be to accelerate the drive of the masses for political democracy.
Trotskyism is endemic in the Soviet Union. It can flare suddenly and spread with great speed. This is one of the main reasons why the bureaucracy is so concerned about restricting freedom of thought in the arts and sciences. Implied in the freedom to discuss and engage in abstract art or psychoanalysis or research in genetics is the freedom to discuss and engage in revolutionary-socialist politics.
The thirst for political freedom is quite intense. Any number of signs show it, not the least of them being the immense popularity of Fidel Castro and all the Cuban revolutionists with the Soviet masses.
The difficulty which the bureaucrats experience in keeping Trotskyism buried is ironically evident in their own revival of the subject even if only in the form of accusations. Both Mao and Khrushchev hurl the charge of “Trotskyism” at each other. While the charge may not stick in either case, it certainly increases the pressure to discuss Trotskyism and to find out what it really stands for.
The first consequences of the collapse of the bureaucratic monolith, so far as direct, immediate gains for the Trot-skyist movement were concerned, came among Communist parties outside the Soviet bloc. The revelations at the Twentieth Congress broke down the prohibitions against dangerous thoughts enforced in the Communist parties under Stalin. In the ensuing discussions, some rank and filers and even intellectuals came over to Trotskyism. It became possible in certain parties to discuss Trotskyist views and even to talk with genuine, live Trotskyists with at least the beginnings of objectivity. This process, which is far from concluded—in fact, it has hardly begun in sectors as important as the French Communist Party—put heavy pressure on the world Trotskyist movement to compose its internal differences. The reunification is therefore viewed by both sides as a great gain in the essential work of aiding members of the Communist parties to overcome the evil heritage of Stalinism.
The schism between Moscow and Peking, which is more and more compelling the protagonists to broach the most fundamental questions of revolutionary-socialist perspectives and strategy, inevitably involves Trotskyism to an increasing degree and opens up truly enormous opportunities for its ascendance. These opportunities alone made it the evident duty of Trotskyists to put aside differences of secondary order in order to effectively advance the main principles of the program on which they stand.
In the main centers of world capitalism, the past decades have been particularly difficult for the Trotskyist movement. The combination of prosperity, reactionary political trends and relatively quiescent class struggle, characteristic above all of the United States, but extending to one degree or another throughout world capitalism, compelled the radical movement as a whole to mark time for an unexpectedly prolonged period. That the Trotskyists were able to hold their own and even register a few gains is a tribute to their stamina and to the power of the ideas that inspire them.
The first signs of a shift in the objective situation have now begun to appear. In Europe the new trend was announced by such events as the general strike in Belgium in 1960, the shift to the left in Britain which has placed the Labour Party in position to win the next election, and a series of important strikes in Italy, France and Germany. The underground movement in Spain has been inching ahead as a direct reflection of the growing self-confidence of the Spanish workers, particularly the miners.
The beginning of the change in the United States proved to be spectacular, since it fell to the Negro people to take the lead in breaking the trance that has gripped the country since the rise of the witch-hunt and McCarthyism in 1947. The independent self-action of the Negro people could take no other form but dramatic and often very militant demonstrations if it were to have genuine effect in battering down the violent prejudices that bar the way to equality. It is possible for this movement to now move rapidly into politics where its most effective field of action lies, and this in turn can open up an entire new and brilliant chapter for revolutionary socialism in America.
FOR the Trotskyist movement in the United States, represented by the Socialist Workers Party, the problem of reunification had no directly national aspect. But the Socialist Workers Party is keenly alive to its international meaning and the benefits to be derived indirectly in its own work from a united world movement. The Canadian Trotskyist movement, represented by the Socialist Educational League, is similarly situated. In both the American and Canadian organizations, the Reunification Congress was hailed as a big step forward.
One of the prime considerations in the minds of those who pressed most strongly for reunification of the Fourth International was the youth. On all continents it is they who are now moving into the center of the revolutionary stage. The series of student demonstrations that swept the globe from Korea to Turkey in the past several years is proof of this. The new generation has displayed its capacities up to this point with the greatest impressiveness in the Cuban Revolution. In Latin America, those most actively concerned about learning from the Cuban experience and applying the lessons are the young people. In the United States it was youth who took the initiative in the staging of demonstrations that touched off the new surge forward in the Negro struggle, and it is they who have provided the main active forces in the picket lines, sit-ins and Freedom Rides that have made headlines internationally.
The tendency of this new generation to begin its revolutionary experience with deeds is of the utmost significance. It testifies to the enormous internal pressures in the capitalist system, to the widespread diffusion of the idea of seeking a revolutionary way out, and to the power of the living examples of revolutionary success from the Russia of 1917 to the Cuba of 1959.
The Cuban Revolution was marked by the predominance of action over conscious revolutionary theory; but in its course, as was inevitable, consciousness began asserting its rights and the Cubans themselves turned increasingly to the revolutionary classics in search of the meaning of what they had accomplished. This road leads in the final analysis to Trotskyism, which contains the quintessence of revolutionary-socialist theory. In moving in this direction, the Cubans have blazed a trail for millions of youth around the globe.
A generation of youth armed on a sufficiently wide scale with Trotskyist theory would signify the finish of the capitalist system. With an understanding of why they have rebelled against the social system into which they were born and how they must go about changing that system, the new generation will prove invincible.
May the reunification of the Fourth International help the youth to seize the unique opportunity which is theirs—the successful discharge of the greatest task in the history of humanity, the establishment of world socialism!