Ted Grant

National Question [in Europe]

Rough draft – For CC members only(1)

Written: No date, presumably October 1944
Source: Original draft (Ted Grant Archive)
Transcription and footnotes: Francesco 2013
Proofread: Fred, Francesco 2013
Markup: Francesco 2013

Problems posed by Hitler’s victories

The Napoleonic victories of Hitler in Europe posed in a sharp fashion the necessity for a re-examination of the perspectives and tasks of the European revolution. Such an examination could only be conducted on the basis of the scientific method and analysis of Bolshevism. The Fourth International characterised our epoch as an epoch of wars and revolutions. The rise and victories of fascism were not an expression of a new period of bloom for the historically outlived capitalist system but a reflection of the impasse in which European society had been plunged by the insoluble contradictions engendered by the system itself.

The impasse in which the proletariat found itself was caused, not by objective conditions, but by the failure of the old workers’ organisations to overthrow capitalism and solve the problems of society by the seizure of power. This led to terrible defeats and the crushing of the workers’ movement throughout Europe. The complete prostration and capitulation of Stalinism and Reformism to the democratic imperialists further exerted their pressure on the vanguard. Disorientated by these events some comrades of the emigration succumbed to the pressure of the bourgeois democratic forces and demanded that the class struggle in Europe should be subordinated to the drive for “national freedom”:

“Everything will be levelled to a desire for the overthrow of this enemy and, in fact it must be recognised that without it there can be no question of change in existing conditions.”

This is entirely opposed to the basic conceptions developed by Trotskyism.(2) The collapse of whole national states in front of the invading forces of German imperialism was a reflection of the fact that the national state had outlived itself. It is true, that Hitler had reduced the whole of Europe to national as well as social slavery, but precisely because of this the class struggle was posed in an acute form.

For Marxists, the bourgeois democratic revolution and the national question had long since been solved in Europe. It was on the rise of the bourgeoisie, when it still fulfilled a progressive historical mission that the question of the bourgeois democratic revolution and of national liberation were historically posed for Europe. Even then, in Germany in 1848, when faced with the threatening challenge from the young, but vigorous proletariat, far from carrying through a revolution, the bourgeoisie were thrown into the arms of the reactionary Junkers and the Monarchy as a protection against the danger from the proletariat. The action of the French bourgeoisie in surrendering to Hitler in 1940 was dictated by similar considerations. This in itself should have posed the problem from a class point of view in a clear light.

The theory of the Permanent Revolution is based upon the idea that in the modern epoch the bourgeoisie of backward countries – let alone advanced industrialised or semi-industrialised ones – is incapable of carrying to a successful conclusion the struggle for national liberation against imperialism. In India and China and the other countries of the East because of the link between the national bourgeoisie, imperialism and the feudal and church interests, the colonial bourgeoisie is incapable of waging a struggle against imperialism and carrying out the bourgeois democratic revolution. The petty bourgeoisie is incapable of playing an independent role but must follow either the camp of the proletariat or be dragged in the wake of the bourgeoisie. Thus, the leading role in the bourgeois democratic revolution must be played by the proletariat. But the proletariat, while placing itself at the head of the entire nation, must inevitably struggle to obtain state power. To subordinate itself to the bourgeoisie or the petty bourgeoisie – and in doing the latter it leads inevitably to the subordination to the former – would mean disaster for the proletariat, defeat of the struggle for national emancipation and collapse of any possibility of bourgeois democracy being established. The experience of the Kuomintang and of Congress in India has demonstrated this irrefutably.

In Europe we have had the experience too, in the Spanish and Russian revolutions, where the belated bourgeoisie revealed its incapacity to solve the problems of the bourgeois democratic revolution. These lessons have illustrated over and over again, that the bourgeoisie is incapable anywhere of carrying out this task.

Taking the theoretical possibility of a complete conquest of China by Japan, Trotsky demonstrated theoretically that this would result in the Chinese bourgeoisie assuming an even more craven role than in the past – it would lead to a complete collaboration between the bourgeoisie of China and the Japanese conquerors. The bourgeoisie would be even more divorced from and opposed to the struggle for national liberation. Thus, this would accentuate the leading role which the proletariat would have to play in the struggle for national freedom. The first movement of the proletariat would be directed not only against the foreign conqueror, but against its own bourgeoisie which would resist and fight against every single movement of the masses which it would recognise as a mortal danger to itself. The proletariat would gather behind it all the forces of the nation in its struggle for emancipation. The hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution would be immediately apparent.

This excursion to the East leads right to the heart of the problem facing us in the West. What revolution is approaching? Is it a bourgeois democratic revolution for “national liberation”, or a proletarian revolution? Our answer or its equivalent to this question must be definite and clear: the bourgeois democratic revolution is a stage which has long since been passed in Europe; the European revolution which is approaching is a proletarian revolution.

The bourgeoisie, especially its dominant sections throughout Europe, collaborated with the fascist victor. The feelings of the proletariat and of the petty bourgeoisie are imbued inevitably with a hatred for the trusts, the combines, and all who collaborated with the Nazis. The struggle of the masses throughout Europe for freedom from national oppression had to take on a class aspect; their hatred was directed not only against the foreign oppressors but also against the ruling class of their own countries who made a good thing out of acting as agents of the foreign conqueror.

It is true that the Stalinists and Social Democrats attempted to emasculate the movement by directing it into nationalist and chauvinist channels. But as in the case of the People’s Front in Spain, the “unity” of the nation was a unity not with the national bourgeoisie, but with its shadow. The bourgeoisie itself was in the camp of the enemy. The task of Bolshevik Leninism, more than ever, should be the raising of the banner of the class struggle, while fighting for national freedom and democratic rights. The task of the proletariat is to win the petty bourgeoisie in the struggle against the big bourgeoisie as well as the invader. The class struggle remained the axis round which all policies should have been crystallised. While preserving an implacable hostility towards the oppression of the occupying power, the Bolshevik Leninists should have raised the slogan of winning over the rank and file soldiers of the German army to the side of the working class of the occupied country. By entering the resistance movement and at every stage counterposing opposition between the interests and policy of the bourgeoisie to that of the masses; by showing the naked class calculations in the policy of finance capital, both of the dominating and subjugated nationalities; by raising the question of the struggle in the factories against the bourgeois owners and managers, as collaborators and quislings, the class issues should have been emphasised; by showing that the sections of the bourgeoisie which swung over to the resistance movement in the last days, did so only because they realised that the Anglo-American imperialists would be the victors; by demonstrating that from the position of national oppression the bourgeoisie would utilise the defeat of the German-Italian coalition to themselves take part in the oppression, dismemberment and subjugation of the defeated nations; by showing that it is the contradictions of capitalism which were causing the decline of Europe and were responsible for the national cannibalism of imperialism; by raising the problem of unification of all Europe under a soviet united states with full national freedom and rights for all states and minorities within Europe.

How the struggles developed in Europe

Events in Europe fully bear out this analysis. In the Balkans, where the bourgeois democratic revolution has not been carried out, because of the incapacity of the bourgeoisie to solve the task, we have witnessed that within the resistance movement a furious class struggle has raged. In Yugoslavia, in Greece, in Poland, even while the greater part of the country has lain under the heel of German imperialism, the two camps of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie have engaged in bitter civil war – as bitter as the struggle against the Nazis themselves. The struggle for national freedom has been intertwined with the struggle for bread and land; the struggle for democratic rights with the right to live. That has been the situation in Eastern Europe. How much more so in the West?

The advance of Anglo-American armies into Western Europe has answered this question once and for all. The “national” question was immediately revealed as social question. The release of the pressure of the army of occupation of the conquerors, immediately led to the beginnings, not of bourgeois, but of proletarian uprisings. The workers and the petty bourgeoisie armed themselves in France and in Belgium, and particularly in France began the seizure of the factories and mines, announcing in this way that the proletarian French revolution had reached a new stage. So great has been the swing to the left – i.e. to the workers’ revolution – that not only the Stalinist and Social Democrats, but even the Bonapartist de Gaulle has to toy with social demagogy. The mood of the petty bourgeoisie in France is such that de Gaulle pretends to stand for nationalisation of the mines, banks and big combines, and the punishment of all the big capitalists and collaborators of the Comité des Forges, etc.

It might be argued that if Hitler had been victorious the situation would have been entirely different. Not so! It is true, events would have taken a different turn, but the bourgeoisie would have revealed itself even more as utterly alien to the interests of the broad masses by its collaboration with the Nazi overlords. If in China, Trotsky had raised the question that the bourgeoisie would collaborate with the invaders in the event of a complete victory of Japan, how much more so in the case of France, Belgium, Norway or Greece and Yugoslavia?

In the East the time for Empire building has long since passed; the Japanese imperialists did not have the slightest possibility of carving out an empire of any stability like that attained by the British Empire. In Europe, Hitler’s victories could only have been ephemeral, even if they had resulted in complete success. To hold down London, Moscow, Paris, Brussels, would have been beyond the strength of German imperialism. Hitler’s empire would have been built on sand, and would not have lasted even a decade. The inevitable revolts and uprisings would have awakened the class solidarity of the German workers and soldiers. Far from maintaining his hold on the occupied territory, Hitler would have been hard put to it to retain his hold even on Berlin.

Problem posed by the victories of the Allies

The ultra-lefts argue that there is no “national” oppression in Europe thus revealing a confused understanding of the attitude of Marxism on this question. The French, Czechs and Poles were oppressed not only as members of the exploited classes but as members of a subject race. Thus they were oppressed not only socially but nationally as well. That there were different degrees of subjugation and oppression does not alter the position in any way. The revolutionary party fights against all forms of national oppression and domination and strives for the free and unfettered right of all nations to determine their own destiny. It supports the right of every nation to the right of self-determination. It supports the struggle of the small and large nations of Europe for freedom from the yoke of German imperialist oppression. But the bourgeoisie of the subject nations today will become the oppressors and subjugators of the rights of the German and other defeated nations tomorrow. All will remain under the domination of Anglo-American imperialism. While the system of imperialism continues to exist the small and even the big powers can only remain as satellites and appendages of the great powers striving for world domination. Thus, while supporting the struggle for national emancipation the Fourth International does not and cannot conceive it as separate and apart from the struggle for social emancipation. There can be no real solution of the problem of self-determination except on the basis of the destruction of imperialism in Europe and the setting up of the federation of socialist soviet republics. Consequently the struggle for self-determination and national freedom is the struggle for the soviet united states of Europe.(3)

The impending victory of Anglo-American imperialism poses the problem from an entirely different aspect. America intends to place all Europe in chains. But as in the case generally of South America and they hope, of China and India, it will be chains of invisible financial and economic domination. In Germany and possibly in certain of the Balkan states and in “emergency”, i.e. open clashes and civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in other countries of Europe, the Anglo-American imperialists will be compelled to resort to military occupation and dictatorship in the first stages at least, to maintain their domination. But generally as far as possible, the bourgeoisie of America especially will prefer the indirect domination which they hope to maintain through their economic and military strength. Because of the danger of provoking of the workers at home in Britain and America, the danger from their own troops, the allied imperialists are compelled to proceed gingerly in their relations with Europe. The bourgeoisie in France, Belgium, Italy and Eastern Europe change their masters with great rapidity. They placed themselves on the side of victors in the struggle. They welcomed the Anglo-American imperialists, and they rely on their bayonets to stave off an uprising of the workers. But in the minds of the workers, quislings and big capitalists were interchangeable terms. They believed that it was the masses’ heroic struggle against the Nazi occupation and the collaborationists which undermined the position of German imperialism. They were embittered at the bourgeoisie’s collaboration and immediately began a struggle for economic and political rights.

The victories of the Red Army directly pose in the minds of the European masses the problem of the conquest of power and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. Reaction has a very slender base among the masses even of the petty bourgeoisie. The experience of the war and the economic ruination by inflation and stranglehold of Big Business, the sell-out of the national bourgeoisie, the general crisis and uncertainty of capitalism, and the mass movement of the workers standing in the forefront of a struggle against oppression, have brought about a tremendous radicalisation among the petty bourgeoisie. On the revolutionary wave which is just beginning, even on the first rise before it has attained any sweep, already it is clear that the petty bourgeoisie and the workers will move rapidly left in spite of all measures to hold them in check. Any attempt at military dictatorship in occupied Europe would lead to disaster for the imperialists. The soldiers of the Allies would not for long tolerate their armies of counter-revolution.

But the heart of the problem lies in the key position which is now occupied by Germany in the European revolution. That the allied bourgeoisie and the Stalinist bureaucracy realise this clearly is seen by the plans for the military occupation and dismemberment of Germany. The disintegration of the Nazi regime would almost immediately lead to proletarian uprisings which would pose on the order of the day the socialist revolution in Germany. There would be a vacuum created by the dissolution of the totalitarian structure of the Nazi regime. Apart from a few remnants the Nazis would disappear from the scene. However, in the same way as in Europe so in Germany, the bourgeoisie would have no other alternative but to rely on their conquerors. They would become collaborators and quislings of Anglo-American imperialism. Thus the problem of the liberation of Germany from Allied domination and oppression would assume an anti-capitalist form as well as an anti-Allied form. The class struggle would be manifest in opposition not only to the foreign oppressors but to their agents in Germany itself. Thus the problem for the German workers would be to establish fraternal relations with their class brothers in the Allied armies.

The foreign workers in Germany will play a great role in linking the European with the German working class, but they can only be approached from the angle of the united class resistance to all the oppressors.

In order to ride the storm in the first years it is most likely that before they turn to methods of open repression the bourgeoisie will attempt to make use of the services of the Social-Democrats and Stalinists to paralyse the revolt of the masses.

The fact that the revolution which is approaching in Europe can only be the proletarian revolution does not exclude the possibility that the Allied and European bourgeoisie in their struggle against the revolution may not adopt the methods of bourgeois democracy. The experience of Germany in the 1918 revolution indicated that in its first phases the counter-revolution will take a “bourgeois democratic” or pseudo-democratic form. With the tremendous upsurge of the masses in Europe; with the complications of the bourgeoisie in Asia and the colonies; with the internal problem of the bourgeoisie at home; it would be extremely difficult if not impossible for the allied bourgeoisie to establish military dictatorships over all Europe. With the revolutionary upsurge, with no mass basis for reaction in Europe, any attempts at dictatorship would be extremely short-lived. Thus, the bourgeoisie who are preparing for reprisals and repressions on the one side cannot but take to the road of illusory concessions on the other. The development of the Spanish revolution in the years 1931 to 1936 can be a model for the whole of Europe in the coming period.

There will be similar ebbs and flows in the coming European revolutions. It will pass through various phases inevitably culminating in civil wars. But the European masses themselves are much more conscious of their own strength and the crisis of capitalism is much worse. The whole continent of Europe will be affected by these upheavals as the war and the events of the last decade have uprooted European society. The [fact that the] masses everywhere are striving instinctively towards a socialist solution is out of the question. While such regimes are not excluded, temporarily they will only be makeshift and of crisis. One government will follow another in quick succession, with a corresponding rise of the tempo of mass struggles. The bourgeoisie will manoeuvre between repressive measures and concessions.

In some of the European countries an attempt to perpetuate military dictatorships is possible. But all such attempts will only end in civil war and the struggle for power by the workers and the peasants. The comparative weakness of the bourgeoisie leads them to rely on deception as well as on force. The weakness of the proletariat consists in its lack of clarity as to the tasks with which it is faced. Thus in the first stages of the movement the reformists and Stalinists by placing themselves at the head of the movement and directing it into reformist channels will prevent the proletariat from moving to the direct seizure of power. But though the proletariat is not conscious or organised enough (through the revolutionary party) to establish workers’ power, it is still conscious enough to resist fiercely any attempt at military dictatorship. Only after a period of terrific class battles and storms, on the basis of decisive defeats of the proletariat could the bourgeoisie succeed in stabilising the situation on the basis of military dictatorships.

In France and in Italy, the Balkans and throughout Europe, the movement has fallen under the control of the Stalinists and Social Democrats, who are attempting to guide it into the harmless channels of popular frontism, parliamentarism, bourgeois democracy and class collaboration. In order to win the masses away from their influence it is necessary to expose them in action. This can only be done through the use of transitional slogans and demands [which] can assume great importance. Together with these the demand for elections and the convening of a national assembly may become part of the agitation for the Bolshevik-Leninists. Simultaneously with these, the demand for a government free from all representatives of capitalism should be developed.

These demands are not separate from and do not exclude the agitation simultaneously for the workers’ committees, housewives’ committees, employees, arming of the workers and workers’ militias, or even the call for soviets, and the setting up of a workers’ government.

Constituent assembly

The Constituent assembly may or may not be convened, depending on the relationship of forces. But it can serve as the means for mobilising the masses in action against the bourgeoisie and its agents. By demanding that the self-styled and self-appointed representatives of the people in the provisional and emigré governments should put their claims to the test by allowing the masses to decide, the masses can have their illusions dispelled. The Labour and Stalinist leadership will shelter behind the fact that they do not control the government but remain a minority within it. Break with the bourgeoisie and take control into your own hands! This slogan can become a powerful lever against the leadership of the old workers’ organisations. The Transitional Programme as a whole becomes an indispensable guide in the day to day work of the Fourth International in Europe.

These questions cannot be determined in advance so long as the strategic and tactical orientation of the revolution is [not] correctly envisaged. The concrete slogans will have to be determined by the situation which is posed before the revolutionary party with the development of events.

The slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe preserves its character as the basic slogan for the next period ahead to which all the other slogans are linked. The conditions under which Europe has existed for the past few years renders the masses responsive, not [solely] to the posing of day to day issues, but linked up and indissolubly bound up with them, the national and international tasks. Thus the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe preserves its vitality as the main axis round which the activity of the proletarian party in Europe must proceed.

Soviets and national freedom

The advance of the Red Army and the importance which Soviet foreign policy has assumed in the life of Europe demand a clear accounting of the role which the Soviet state now plays. On the one hand the basic achievement of October, the state ownership of the means of production, has been maintained and [the] bourgeois “Allies” of the Soviet Union kept at arm’s length, despite all pressure, is demonstrated by the [retention] of the monopoly of foreign trade; on the other hand the increasing internal degeneration of the Soviet bureaucracy which has during the course of the war undergone changes which even further separate them from the Soviet masses, increasing their parasitic drain on [the] Soviet economy. In foreign policy they have endeavoured to further the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy which brings clashes with the Allies; on the other hand they stand together with the imperialists as implacably opposed to the socialist revolution in Europe.

The advance of the Red Army into the Balkans, Poland and Central Europe is demonstrating this role. The Soviet bureaucracy is wedded to the European counter-revolution in a democratic disguise. In all the countries they have entered, not one of the social or national problems have been solved in any way. National oppression of the peoples in Europe is to proceed on the same lines – somewhat aggravated by the creation of new national minorities in Europe as in the old pre-war setup. In relation to the problem within the Soviet Union itself, the oppression of the national minorities by the Great Russian bureaucracy, this has assumed a secondary role during the course of the war itself. The masses of the oppressed nationalities in their overwhelming majority like the workers and peasants of Russia herself had preferred the lesser evil of the Soviet bureaucracy faced with the alternative of the imperialist oppression. But the problem of the independence of the Ukraine, the Baltic States and other subject nationalities will pose itself as an urgent problem in the next period. The Bolshevik-Leninists stand for the right to self-determination and independence on the basis of an independent Socialist Soviet Ukraine, etc., if the masses so desire it. But such a struggle in its turn can only be part and parcel of the struggle for the overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the restoration of workers’ democracy in Russia. This can only be conceived as a struggle for a socialist federation of the peoples of the USSR for a socialist federation of the peoples in Europe.

The Red Army pursues simultaneously a reactionary and a progressive role in Europe: progressive insofar as it reflects the attempt of the bureaucracy to defend the social foundations of the Soviet state; reactionary insofar as the bureaucracy reveals its implacable hostility to the development of the socialist revolution in Europe.

The Stalinist bureaucracy seems intent on training the Red Army for the purpose of suppressing above all the attempt of the German masses to take control in their own hands. Hence the racialistic campaign against the German masses. But the revolutionary outbreaks are inevitable in the next period. In Germany and Europe [this] will inevitably provoke repercussions within the ranks of the Red Army.

The advance of the Red Army in the Balkans has led to a wave of radicalisation and organisation of the proletariat in all the countries they have penetrated. Everywhere the Stalinist parties have become mass organisations immediately. In this way the masses have demonstrated their gravitation towards a socialist solution of their problems. The prestige of the Red Army, which the masses recognise is the force which has had the primary and decisive role in the defeat of the Nazis, and the usurped tradition of the October revolution have played their part in assisting in the mobilisation of the European masses. For the first period it is now clear the Stalinists will play a major role within the ranks of the proletariat and even sections of the petty-bourgeoisie in nearly all the countries of Europe. The sole exception would seem to be Germany. The policy of the Stalinists as quislings of the imperialists will rapidly repel their already shaken support among the German masses. Within Germany the Fourth International should have the opportunity rapidly to secure a dominant voice within the ranks of the German working class.

Stalinism today represents an even greater danger to the socialist revolution in Europe than even the Social-Democracy did to the German and European movements of the proletariat after the last war. Armed with the resources of the Soviet bureaucracy and the GPU, trading on the lustre of the Soviet victories, they remain a powerful force in disorienting, and systematically disrupting the movement of the proletariat for the benefit of reaction. But the objective development of the situation, the far greater crisis and bankruptcy of capitalism; the experience of the masses in the last 25 years; the weakness of the forces of reaction; the collapse of fascism; the radicalisation of the petty-bourgeoisie all make the reactionary programme of Stalinism extremely difficult to carry out. The bourgeoisie will be compelled to rely on demagogy rather than direct repression, owing to the stormy impulsion of the masses. Thus Stalinist politics will come into collision with the aspirations of the masses, and provoke permanent and intermittent crises and splits within their ranks.

However, it is not excluded that the Stalinists are capable of a new turn in a “left” direction. As the war nears its close the antagonisms between British and American imperialism and the Soviet bureaucracy are coming nearer the surface. Thus, depending on the diplomatic needs of the moment, or the direct pressure of the masses, the Stalinist parties may be involved in new convulsions. This would create exceptionally difficult conditions of work in the first stages for the revolutionary party. A pseudo-left policy would enormously increase the danger to the revolution which is offered by the Stalinist organisations.

The impending uprising against the Nazis or the possible collapse of German imperialism will immediately bring into the foreground the question of fraternisation between the workers and soldiers of the Allies and the German people. Against the foul chauvinism and racialism of the Stalinists and Social-Democrats the Fourth International in Europe will counterpose the fraternal co-operation of the peoples to achieve the socialist revolution. But inevitably the movement of the masse in Europe, their strikes and uprisings, will have an effect on the British and American soldiers. Despite all prohibitions (and the prohibition reveals the Allied General Staff and the bourgeoisie understand only too well the position with which they will be faced) it will lead to fraternisation and a rapid demoralisation of the troops if any attempt is made to use them for punitive expeditions and repressions. Even a greater effect will be obtained among the rank and file soldiers of the Red Army. Faced with a rebellious proletariat in Europe the psychological grip of the totalitarian bureaucracy will be loosened and tendencies towards fraternisation with the German workers and the European revolution will immediately be evinced.

The development of the revolution in Europe indicates an extended period of Kerenskyism or popular front regimes throughout the continent of Europe. The war will just rise to a new revolutionary wave which will dwarf that of 1917-1921. The basic tendency of the bourgeoisie will be to try and direct this tidal wave of revolution by turning it into the channels of bourgeois democracy. To attempt to meet it in a frontal attack would risk the possibility of greater expense in fruitless and futile attempts to dam the opposition of the masses. It is not excluded, however, that on the general pattern of Popular Front regimes here and there, the bourgeoisie will attempt to keep control by ferocious measures of repression and open dictatorship. But on the general background of European and world unrest generally it would suit the bourgeoisie better to combine the policy of deception with that of reprisals and repressions. Especially as the masses themselves will tend to get completely out of the control of the bourgeoisie. On this background the lessons of the Spanish revolution assume immediate urgency. Stalinism, Social Democracy and centrism will all play their part on the familiar pattern of the Spanish events. But precisely because the situation can and will change abruptly during the course of events it is necessary to guard against all forms of harmful sectarianism and ultra-leftism (which merely repeat Marxist formulas and refuse to use the democratic demands in the transitional stages) while simultaneously participating in the mass movement and guarding against the danger of becoming immersed in opportunism and the temporary relationship of forces.

In the course of the coming events in Europe there will be rapid changes from day to day agitation to revolutionary outbreaks; periods of storm, to be followed by periods of lull, which again will transform themselves into revolutionary upheavals. The instability of the situation and the sharp and abrupt turns should and must be the starting point for the training of the cadres of the Fourth International throughout Europe.

The pressure of the masses on the Stalinist and Social-Democratic organisations will inevitably, in the absence of strong revolutionary parties, tend to provoke splits and the appearance of centrist or left-centrist currents and organisations. In the absence of any authoritative organisations such as the Comintern or even any such authoritative leaders as Lenin and Trotsky, a period of ideological confusion and regroupment in the revolutionary movement seems to be unavoidable. While preserving their ideological intransigence and inflexibility on the question of party programme and principles, an attitude of patient education and systematic explanation will be necessary especially to those groupings which are approaching the Fourth International.

The situation in different countries will pose the problem of course at a different tempo, and in different ways. In some civil war would be precipitated almost immediately after “liberation” or shortly after; in some civil war already broke out in advance before the invaders had been expelled from the country (Greece, Yugoslavia). The situation in France is different from that of Italy; that of Belgium from that of Holland; that of Yugoslavia from that of Hungary.

While conducting their work with the strategic aim of the conquest of power through the proletarian revolution, Bolshevik-Leninists in no way are exempted from the necessity to develop agitation round partial issues for the purpose of mobilising the masses. The extreme weakness of the revolutionary forces dictates that this should form a great part of the day to day work. Even though there were mass parties they could not skip over the necessity of mobilising the masses round the concrete issues with which they are faced. All the more then in the case of weak parties striving to gain the confidence of the masses.

This is the situation in which the revolutionary party will be built. The defeats of the last decades caused by the criminal policies of the reformists, Stalinists and centrists have created exceptionally difficult conditions for the building of the revolutionary party. The stormy events which impend, find not a single strong Bolshevik organisation on the entire continent of Europe. This it is which will give the coming epoch in Europe its stormy character. The impulsion of the masses in storming the citadels of capitalism will attain a new swoop. Cowards and fainthearted on the periphery of the Fourth International have raised the question that it will not be possible to build the revolutionary party in time. All historical experience has shown that without the party it will not be possible to achieve the socialist revolution. Consequently they argue the revolution in Europe will be defeated. Such a point of view is a cowardly capitulation to the bourgeoisie in advance of the battle. The spontaneous movement of the masses, it is true, will not be able to accomplish the overthrow of capitalism without a guiding organisation for the proletariat. But it can and must create the milieu in which the revolutionary party can be built. Separate and apart from the struggle itself it is impossible to build the Fourth International. With correct strategy and tactics on the part of the vanguard, mass parties of the Fourth International can be built in a very few years. Once fused, organised and tested, rooted among the masses they will be the decisive force on the planet.


(1) This draft by Ted Grant was produced for a discussion in the CC of the British Revolutionary Communist Party. On the basis of the discussion a shorter resolution was approved along the same lines on November 11, 1944.

(2) This sentence was at the end of the paragraph in a first draft.

(3) This paragraph read in a first draft: “Have the small or big nations of Europe oppressed by the German imperialists yesterday and by the Anglo-Americans tomorrow, the right of self-determination? To pose the question in this manner reveals a confusion of thinking. Undoubtedly revolutionaries are always in favour of the right of self-determination. But today the small and even the big nations, more than even 25 years ago, are simply satellites and appendages of the big giants striving for world domination. They must fall into the orbit of one or the other great power. Under these conditions there can be no real self-determination except on the basis of a federation of socialist states which can be achieved only by the proletarian revolution.”