The Transitional Program Now, Nahuel Moreno 1980
Some revisionist-Trotskyist currents sustain that there is no dictatorship of the proletariat in the SU, in China or in the other workers' states, given the bureaucratic counterrevolutionary character of the ruling party.
The class dictatorship has distinct political expressions, and expressions of sectors of the class itself. In a bourgeois regime, we have the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, under a military government as well as under a parliamentary one or under one of feudal land lords. Trotsky made a similar analysis concerning the SU, when he defined it as a degenerated workers' state.
As long as the expropriation of the bourgeoisie exists, any workers' state, bureaucratic or not, is a dictatorship of the working class, from the social point of view. As social economic phenomenon, it is a proletarian dictatorship, even if that is expressed in a distorted way through a bureaucracy, and although the working class doesn't have the benefit of any democracy at all.
That has to do, finally, with the character of the revolution in our epoch. There are only two poles: workers' revolution and bourgeois, imperialist counterrevolution. All contemporary phenomena are conditioned by that reality. There are no third variants: in all countries of the world there are bourgeois dictatorships (of any kind) or workers' dictatorships, eventually bureaucratic. There is no possibility for a petty bourgeois dictatorship because there can not be a ruling petty bourgeois economy or ruling petty bourgeois production relations. That's why the dictatorship must be defined by which is the ruling class.
To say that there is no dictatorship of the proletariat in the SU or in any of the other bureaucratic dictatorships would mean to say that there are bourgeois dictatorships in these countries. We definitely state that the bureaucracy is a petty bourgeois sector, agent of imperialism, but “nside the workers' states. We should not make the confusion of negating the workers' character of the existing dictatorships in the bureaucratic states. There is no bourgeoisie in the SU so as to have a bourgeois dictatorship. The dictatorship is carried on, anyhow and with many variants, through the class that rules economically; and in the bureaucratic dictatorships the class that rules, in a social economic sense, is the proletariat.
Apart from a social definition, there is a political definition linked to the class struggle on the national and the international level. The aim of the ruling bureaucracy - to demobilise the workers' and mass movement - is an essential part of its program to strengthen “its” national state, building “socialism” in “its” country and carrying out the pacific coexistence with imperialism. It must smash the mobilisations to achieve these really reactionary aims. Let us be clear: when we say that to strengthen “their” national state is a reactionary aim, we don't mean the very progressive aim of the defence of the state, its strengthening as a subordinate part of the world socialist revolution.
This policy of demobilisation reinforces the pressure of the imperialist counterrevolution upon the country. That provokes an acute contradiction between the counterrevolution and the mass movement. Therefor, the ruling over the government apparatus by the bureaucracy is going to have the form of a counterrevolutionary Bonapartist government, with a totalitarian regime of full control over the workers' movement and of resistance against the reinforced pressure of the imperialist counterrevolution. It is Bonapartist because it tries to arbitrate between unsustainable contradictions, as does any totalitarian Bonapartist government. At last, that bureaucratic government is arbiter, but at the same time transmission belt of the imperialist pressure upon the workers' state. The existence and the strength of the Kremlin reinforce still more that Bonapartist character of the governments of all the actual workers' states since it makes a parallelogram of counterrevolutionary forces - together with imperialism itself - upon the bureaucratised workers' state.
Of course, that whole political process has a social base. That kind of government, as well as the ruling communist parties, reflects the privileged interests of the bureaucracy and the workers' and popular aristocracy. It may play its Bonapartist oscillating role due to its petty bourgeois character. These political phenomena combine with the social character of the dictatorship to generate Bonapartist bureaucratic proletarian dictatorships. They are dictatorships of counterrevolutionary bureaucratic parties.
The revolutionary dictatorships of the proletariat, like that of Lenin and Trotsky, issued from the October Revolution, are the opposite from the political point of view, and from the point of view of the social sector. Firstly, they are based on the revolutionary democracy and not on Bonapartism. Their organisations are the revolutionary and democratic soviets or any other revolutionary mass organisation. They are the expression of the workers' and popular base, although with hegemony of the industrial proletariat. And something is decisive: they are headed by a revolutionary party that has as its supreme aim to develop the socialist revolution inside and outside the frontiers, to achieve a permanent mobilisation, to destroy the national state in order to develop the federation of socialist states and to extend the revolution all over the world. In a word, yesterday it was headed by a Bolshevik party and in a next tomorrow it will be headed by the only party that fights for the banners of Bolshevism: a Trotskyist party.
One of the most spectacular facts of the last decades, concerning the existing proletarian dictatorships, has been the invasion of one state by another: Hungary by the SU in the fifties, Czechoslovakia by the SU in the sixties, Vietnam by China (and Cambodia by Vietnam, before) at the end of the seventies. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the epoch and it will very probably happen again.
These possible wars among workers' states, and occupations of one state by another, will acquire a new dimension, as soon as emerges the next revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. Up to now we have seen two invasions of workers' states by the SU, provoked by the fear of the soviet bureaucratic caste that these states would transform into revolutionary, as a consequence of the beginning of the political revolution and of the embryonic emergence of some kind of councils or soviets. It seems to us that these workers' bureaucracies will enter into a state of despair when they see emerging revolutionary dictatorships of the proletariat, which announce their liquidation as a privileged caste.
Apart from the discussion about the class character of the Cambodian state, anyhow the invasion into Vietnam by China has opened the question about a new fact, the war between workers' states, no one of them being ruled by a revolutionary dictatorship. On the other hand, the possibility of a war between the two super-bureaucratised workers' states - China and the SU - should not be discarded.
That serious theoretic and political problem of war or invasion among bureaucratised workers' states, or between a bureaucratised workers' state and a revolutionary one, has a capital importance and urges us to take a Marxist course of action in front of the different situations.
One variant of that possibility is the unavoidable armed uprising of the oppressed nationalities against these bureaucratic dictatorial governments, an uprising which we will support unconditionally.
If the war or the occupation is made by one of the two gigantic workers' states against a smaller one (as was the case for China against Vietnam), we feel that, in principle, there is a struggle that belongs to the right to self-determination of the small proletarian nations and that such a war is provoked by the desire for hegemony of a nationalist kind, of the greater workers' nation against the smaller one. In this case, we believe we have to fight against the great-Russian or the great-Chinese chauvinism, for the right to self-determination of the smaller workers' state.
But let us suppose the case of a war between two bureaucratised workers' states of similar power, say, between Cambodia and Vietnam, for instance (in the supposition they are both workers' states). Our general policy will be of brotherhood among all workers' states and for a pacific and democratic solution to the conflict. That position should be accompanied by a permanent campaign for the democratic federation of all the existing workers' republics.
Nevertheless, this is a propagandistic orientation and we cannot limit ourselves to it in the concrete case of a war or of military clashes. In principle, we will have a policy of defence of the workers' state that has been attacked, and against the responsible for having started the attack, studying carefully if one of the states has aims of hegemony over the other.
When it's a war between a bureaucratised workers' state and a revolutionary one, we as Trotskyists unconditionally will support the revolutionary one, independently of who started the war.
The political revolution as proposed by Trotsky for the SU - a degenerated workers' state - and with a limited importance in the “Transition Program”, has acquired a decisive importance in the actual after-war as for its extension and its character. Actually its necessity is not longer bounded to the SU; it ranges over a third part of mankind, including the most populated country of the planet, China.
Perhaps the political revolution has turned out to be the most immediate and most important specific task faced by the Fourth International, which is the only one able to carry it out. Actually the process is more ample than only the revolutionary struggle against the ruling bureaucracies. It is part of the overcoming of the crisis of leadership of the world proletariat in all countries. Firstly, the greatest base of support of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses of the mass movement is the SU and Stalinism. Hence, it is logic that, if only we could overthrow the bureaucracy there, this would provoke a cataclysm in all the bureaucratic apparatuses of the mass movement, all over the world. But not only in this sense is the political revolution decisive to overcome the crisis of leadership of the world proletariat. There is more, since it giving us a concrete task: the struggle against the national bureaucratic apparatuses that are not Stalinist, that are not ruling over a country, and that are not even linked to Stalinism, like the Social Democracy and the trade union bureaucracies of the Western countries. These bureaucracies are as totalitarian as Stalinism, although their radius of action is more restricted and although they don't rule over countries but only over sectors, workers' movement organisations of national kind, fundamentally the trade unions. These sectors have the benefit of al kind of privileges, just like the SU bureaucracy, though at a much lower scale. To destroy the force of these apparatuses, to unlink the masses from their control, will be a struggle with many features similar to those of the struggle that is at order against the Stalinist bureaucracy in the SU: revolutionary methods will be necessary, and there will be physical struggle too.
The question is that the political revolution is really a revolution because it reflects the desperate, mortal struggle between distinct social sectors, not distinct classes but distinct social sectors. The political revolution is the revolution of the workers' and popular base against the workers' aristocracy and its functionaries, that means its bureaucracies. It is political because it is the desperate struggle !of a sector of the working class against !“another sector” or against its functionaries. And we say it's really a revolution because the workers' movement will have to mobilise itself massively to wipe out that sector from the conduction of its organisations, a sector that will fight to death in order to defend its privileges.
The regression provoked by the bureaucracy and the workers' aristocracy in the bureaucratised workers' states, in order to maintain power and to increase their privileges, by means of a totalitarian regime, together with the immaturity of the leadership of the proletariat, due to that totalitarian regime, show that the political revolution will have to pass (it seems) through two revolutionary stages which are similar !roughly speaking to the February revolution and the October revolution. That's what experience has shown up to now. Taking into account Hungary and Czechoslovakia, we see that the political revolution begins as a workers' and popular movement for the conquest of democracy in general, uniting all discontent sectors. It will be a workers' and popular movement for democracy: all together against the Bonapartist and totalitarian government of the bureaucracy. Therefore, petty bourgeois currents will emerge that will have rather unclear ideas about the question of collaboration with imperialism in order to overthrow the totalitarian bureaucracy. A characteristic of that first anti-bureaucratic February revolution will be that no Trotskyist party will lead it, since there would not have been time for maturing and building up such a party.
Therefore, it seems rather difficult to us that the political revolution may happen in only one single revolution. We feel that it will start with that first February revolution, which will open the way towards democracy in general; in that process will emerge organisms of workers' power, surely soviets or factory committees; all along that process, the Trotskyist party will strengthen itself, the only party able to carry out the true political revolution, the October one, that will impose a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. This Trotskyist party will fight against all petty bourgeois restorationist currents. These currents will have united - we are sure - the majority sectors of the bureaucracy in crisis and of imperialism, in order to set up tight economic links with imperialism, arguing free trade and a lot of other slogans at the service of imperialism, trying to draw us back towards capitalism. These petty bourgeois currents will stubbornly oppose themselves to imposing the dictatorship of the proletariat, during that interregnum of the political revolution between February and October. They will have would-be-democratic arguments: that each factory be under control of its own workers, and be transformed into a co-operative or something like that. These arguments should allow them to return demagogically to the laws of market, inland and abroad, combined with the proposal of bourgeois democracy. Behind this absolute would-be-democratic proposal will be hidden the glove of a capitalist restoration policy, although with the demagogic cover of talking about workers. The October revolution of Trotskyism will possibly happen against that restorationist front.
Theoretically we shouldn't discard, in the long term, other variants of political revolution. As Trotskyism is strengthening itself in the bureaucratised workers' states as well as in the capitalist countries, there may be a certain chance that the proletariat may carry out one unique revolution, an October one, conducted by a Trotskyist mass party. So it would avoid the burden of a February revolution. Anyhow, it will be a violent revolution.
Because of the bureaucratic ruling, the workers' states face two great problems that historically menace their existence: a continuous economic crisis and the growing rivalry among them all. This is a direct consequence of the bureaucratic control, which imposes a petty bourgeois criterion for the economic affairs and for the competitive defence of the own national state against the other workers' states, instead of the international class solidarity. Because of the economic crisis and the growing rivalry, the unique front of all them against imperialism happens to be definitely broken, opening a margin of manoeuvre fully exploited by imperialism.
These facts are responsible for the historical menace on the existence of the workers' states, the greatest conquests of the world proletariat in the actual after-war. It's not an immediate menace, because the crisis of imperialism impedes it to make use to its full extent of the crisis of its enemy.
It seems to us that the defence and the development of the workers' states continue to be a fundamental task. We regret thoroughly its crisis and its increasing rivalries instead of enjoying it, and we denounce the bureaucracy as the only guilty of that situation. The most important guilty of that degradation of the workers' states and of those rivalries is the Kremlin bureaucracy. It's the one that insists, together with the national Stalinist bureaucracies, in maintaining the independence of each national state. For the Kremlin bureaucracy, that division among workers' states is a source of greater enrichment, since it uses the capitalist world market to exploit economically the less developed workers' states by means of trade. It's the Kremlin bureaucracy that sells oil to the other workers' states nearly at prices of the world market. The most developed workers' state uses the world division of labour and the world market to exploit the less developed.
And there is more. The Soviet bureaucracy has set up the now increasing rivalry with China, paving the way for the Chinese bureaucracy to surrender to the Yankee imperialism. At the same time, the Soviet bureaucracy is the one that made two utmost counterrevolutionary armed interventions against another workers' state: Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. These military attacks of one workers' state against another are going on - an example is China against Vietnam - and have worsened the general crisis of the workers' states, developing the armaments' production and taking part in the world imperialist gambling.
Against that economic crisis, the increasing rivalries and the armed attacks or the menaces of armed attacks and wars among workers' states, we should raise a clear transitional slogan: “mmediate democratic federation of the existing workers' states!
This slogan points towards the political unity of all the workers' states in one unique block against imperialism, eliminating the increasing rivalry and the menace of war among them. It points also towards overcoming the actual economic crisis of the workers' states through unification and planning of the economy of a third part of mankind. It's the only slogan that may allow to overcome these great problems. There is no doubt that the slogan has a still more decisive importance since the invasion of Vietnam by China, and has to be one of the most prominent in our program and in our International. This slogan, which should be accompanied by a continuous campaign, aims at resolving the most urgent needs of the world proletariat and the workers' states. It has a defensive purpose. With this slogan, the Fourth International happens to be the only one giving a revolutionary answer to the greatest problems the workers' states are facing now. It tends to overcome the backwardness in the development of the productive forces, as well as to overcome the economic crisis, and by the way, to give a mortal blow to imperialism. It is also useful to impede imperialism from making manoeuvres with the differences between workers' states, opposing to it a ferrous unity. At the same time it will avoid the facing of one workers' state against another, since national frontiers will be abolished and there will be only one state, organised as a federation. And due to the transformation of the economies of the workers' states in only one unique economy, also the oppression of one state over the other by means of trade will be abolished.
This slogan of !Federation of the existing workers' states!, intimately combined with that of !Federation of European socialist soviet republics!, can only be realised by means of a political revolution, because the actual bureaucratic governments never will accept to liquidate their frontiers, neither to abolish their customs, in order to set up that federation; by doing so, they would lose the fundamental source of their privileges and of their petty bourgeois independence in their national state. Each bureaucracy defends its own country and its own frontiers and to our slogan of federation of workers' states they would answer: Who would have the government? How can we be sure that it will be ours? And right there comes up the Trotskyist proposal of a political revolution as the only way to set up that federation, because only we have a categorical answer to that question of the government of that federation of existing workers' states: the workers' and peasants' base, democratically organised in soviets and enjoying the most ample internal democracy. Therefore, the slogan is intimately related with - is part of - the political revolution in all the existing workers' states. We should emphasise again and again that this slogan is among the most important, if not the most important, of the Fourth International in this concrete stage of the world class struggle. We are the only International which is able to fight for the federation of the workers' states. And when revolutionary workers' states will emerge, it will be an essential task of them to propose the federation of the existing workers' states. They would begin advocating for the unique front among the workers' states to fight against imperialism, on the base of revolutionary workers' democracy, which is the only way to be able to get that federation.
We have defined this after-war as the most revolutionary epoch ever known by mankind, the stage of the great victories and of the expropriation of the bourgeoisie in a lot of countries. Because of these characteristics, we should define the stage as of !“Imminent revolution” a category that is becoming more ample with each period of revolutionary upswing.
Up to 1953, the political revolution was not at order as an immediate possibility. It begins having this character with the great upswing of the masses in the Democratic Republic of Germany. As for capitalist Europe, we have seen no revolutionary situation since the great mobilisations immediately after the war (1947). But that situation changed with the colossal victory of the Portuguese masses in 1974. That's the meaning of the category of imminent revolution, that ranges over all countries of the world, capitalist or workers' countries.
So, we are faced with an important theoretic question: What is a revolutionary situation? Trotsky has based his classical definition of the revolutionary and pre-revolutionary situations on the analysis of the Russian October. According to Trotsky, a pre-revolutionary situation requires three conditions, which he considered !premises or !prerequisites for an October: crisis and confusion of the ruling class, radicalisation of the petty bourgeoisie - a factor that was very important for Trotsky - and a revolutionary disposition of the proletariat. There was a revolutionary situation when, apart from these conditions, a fourth, of subjective character, was met: the existence of a revolutionary proletarian party with mass influence.
The theoretic problem we face is that revolutions happened with the same economic consequences as the October Revolution - the expropriation of the bourgeoisie - but conducted by opportunist petty bourgeois parties, not revolutionary workers' parties. As we have seen, in certain exceptional conditions (China, Cuba), the absence of a revolutionary party has been compensated by the sharpening of the three objective factors up to a point where the petty bourgeois leaderships (Mao, Castro) were forced to break up with the bourgeoisie, because of the revolutionary pressure of the mass movement.
We recognise that there has been only one October the rest being Februarys. So, we may enrich the classical analysis of Trotsky, stating that we have two kinds of revolutionary situations: a Pre-October one and a Pre-February one. Each of them has its own characteristics, clearly defined, which make it different from the other one. We call !pre-February a situation defined by Trotsky as pre-revolutionary, when the three objective factors combine with the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat. When victorious, it will be an incomplete revolution - as is shown by the theory and confirmed by history - with limited, national aims. All by all, it will be a “February” that expropriates the bourgeoisie and stays there.
On the contrary, in a !Pre-October, we should add the conducting presence of a Bolshevik party with mass influence. If the October revolutionary victory happens, then it doesn't stay there, with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. It advances with the organisation and the mobilisation of the world proletariat, with the extension of the revolution all over the planet.
This analysis not only allows us to explain the processes of the February revolutions, and how to actuate during and immediately after them. It also opens new theoretic possibilities, insofar as the Trotskyist parties become stronger, gain mass influence and so transform themselves into an objective factor of the situation. Here we have two fundamental variants.
In one variant, due to the strength of the Trotskyist party, the sequence characteristic of the Russian Revolution is broken up and an October happens without previous February.
In the other variant, taking profit of the February revolution, petty bourgeois opportunist parties seize power but, because of the strength of the mass movement and of the revolutionary party, a transition from February into October happens in a pacific, bloodless, reformist way.
We are talking about two theoretic variants, neither of them realised up to now. The possibility of them to happen depend - we insist - on the strength and the mass influence gained eventually by the Trotskyist party.
Our parties should be able to recognise the existence of a Pre-February revolutionary situation in order to put forward democratic slogans according to the existence of the petty bourgeois leaderships which control the mass movement, and according to the necessity of setting up as quickly as possible a unity of action to carry out the February revolution. We must understand that it is unavoidable to do so. We shouldn't try to skip that stage but rather draw all necessary strategic and tactic conclusions from it. We must be the vanguard of that February revolution, the champions of the intervention in it. That doesn't mean however that we should capitulate to the petty bourgeois leaderships which, when forced to carry out the February revolution, will try to limit it and to give it a democratic and national character. Any February revolution, being an unconscious workers' and popular revolution, leads to power organisms distinct from those of the bourgeoisie (state, army and police). That means, in the stages before its triumph and immediately after it, any February revolution unavoidably leads to a duality of power, more or less developed, potential or real, but necessarily a duality of power. That means, it originates the development of a pole of workers' and popular power. Our fundamental task in any process of February revolution, before and after, is the steady development of that workers' and popular power. Of course we claim the unity of action to carry out the February revolution, we claim the necessity of making pressure upon the opportunist organisations that are conducting the mass movement so that they break up with the bourgeoisie, we don't abandon that ample perspective that makes it possible to obtain and to deepen the February revolution, but we should go on differentiating ourselves most clearly from these opportunist leaderships, in the fact that the fundamental axis of our policy is to develop the mobilisation and the revolutionary organisms of workers' and popular power. This policy of the development of the organisms of revolutionary democratic self-determination of the masses, is the essential axis of our policy in any revolutionary situation, be it Pre-February or Pre-October. And that is also the axis that delimits us clearly from the opportunist leaderships, who try to avoid anyhow the revolutionary democratic self-determination of the masses, their permanent organisation and mobilisation, as well as the setting up of organisms of direct revolutionary action of the masses.
If we abandon that fundamental axis of our policy, we capitulate to the opportunist leaderships and we leave the working class to its fate. Only with a policy of development of the organisms of workers' and popular power - they have to be created where they don't exist - can we make a bridge towards the October revolution, our real aim.
The democratic slogans and tasks acquire more and more importance due to the deepest tendencies of imperialism and of the monopolies as well as of the bureaucracy. They all have a permanent tendency towards totalitarian states. That's the only way to bridle the permanently ascending course of the mass movement. The state influence of the monopolies in the capitalist countries, as well as the identification of the state with the bureaucracy in the bureaucratised workers' states conducts towards totalitarianism. That's why the great democratic slogans and tasks for the whole people are day after day more of actuality. And it explains the general democratic character of the contemporary February revolutions.
As for the character of the tasks, they remind the statements of the bourgeois democratic revolutions, but they are part of the national and world socialist revolution because they are against the bureaucracy, imperialism, the monopolies and the states that answer to these sectors. This explains that the petty bourgeois and bureaucratic leaderships insist upon the popular-democratic character of their revolutions, trying to give them a character that is not anti-bourgeoisie but anti-monopoly and, in the backward countries, anti-feudal. They don't recognise that the tasks although being democratic - are facing the capitalist and imperialist regime and the bureaucratic regime as well. These tasks acquire so a new dimension which we assume. It is a French Revolution as for the character of the tasks, but it is a socialist revolution as for the classes it fights. It has to destroy capitalism in the capitalist countries, or the bureaucracy in the bureaucratised workers' states, in order to impose these democratic slogans and tasks.
Hence the enormous importance the slogan of !Constitutional Assembly! or something like that, has acquired in all countries of the world. But that task, previous to the February revolution, is to be seen in relation with another one, much more important and decisive, one of the workers and the people: !Down the Bonapartist or dictatorial government that is ruling! The February revolution is made according to a fundamental slogan that is not in first instance Constitutional Assembly! but Down the dictatorships! . That slogan is applicable in France, in England, in Spain, in the Christian Democrat Italy, just as it was against Caetano in Portugal and against the Greek Colonels, or in the backward countries as can be seen from the example !Down with Somoza! . It is also applicable against the bureaucratic Bonapartist governments: !Down the dictatorship of Bresnjev! This slogan, which urges not only the working class but the whole people, to overthrow these totalitarian, dictatorial or at least Bonapartist and ultra-reactionary governments, is fundamental. But this goal, as soon as it is achieved, combines immediately in many countries (principally in those were totalitarian regimes were ruling) with that of Constitutional Assembly! as the highest expression of the democratic struggle. Nevertheless, we cannot for a moment forget that it is a bourgeois slogan, since it calls for a Constitution where everybody has one vote. But we should recognise that it is a mobilising slogan, that it often has consequences different from its bourgeois democratic character. This last point is most important in countries with a numerous middle class, principally peasants.
It turns out to be a slogan to face the bourgeoisie, to educate the mass movement and to develop the unity of the working class and the peasants. But that slogan of Constitutional Assembly! has to be part of a whole set. For instance, we claim for Constitutional Assembly! in order to give land to the peasants and to vote in it the arming of the proletariat, the indexing of wages and labour journeys, as well as the expropriation of the monopolies. We claim for Constitutional Assembly! but we say: we are the most democratic people: we claim that the access to radio and television should be given to all political currents that did overthrow the ruling dictatorship! No one of these slogans should put a shade over the axis and essential slogan of any revolutionary stage, be it Pre-February or Post-February: the development of workers' and peoples' power. Any attempt to state the slogan of Constitutional Assembly! as essential in a revolutionary stage is a direct betrayal to the Trotskyist policy, which doesn't have as its goal a democratic revolution, but rather to make a revolution that brings the working class and its allies, with revolutionary organisation, into power. That's how we state it and how we apply it, towards the workers' movement.
Our struggle for the right to self-determination of the oppressed nations and nationalities has acquired an enormous importance, as an essential part of the set of democratic slogans, because of the survival of imperialism. We fight for the independence of a geographically independent nation. So, we are for the independence of Angola, Mozambique, India or Martinique. That means, not only are we for the right to national self-determination, but also for the national self-determination of any colony with respect to its empire. We equally are for the national liberation of the semi-colonies, that means, for the rupture of the colonising agreements that any backward independent country may have with imperialism, as for instance the Organisation of American States (OAS) or the colonising agreements of the French imperialism with its former colonies that now are independent. We are for the national independence in the colonies and for the national liberation in the semi-colonies.
But we don't have the same policy as the one concerning the geographically independent countries, for the oppressed nationalities inside a geographically unified country. In these regions, our policy is for the right to self-determination, and not for the national independence and national liberation. Because in this case we are not dealing with a colony or a semi-colony but with an oppressed nationality. The right to self-determination is an algebraic slogan that may have a different content according to the process of the class struggle inside the national state.
We defend the right of the Basque people to independence if it likes so, but that is not the same as fighting for its independence. We defend the right to national self-determination of any oppressed nationality because we defend any exploited sector against its exploiter, even when they don't agree with our policy. It's the same as when we defend the peasants against the exploitation of the land lords, independently of the slogans they raise; or as when we defend any oppressed nationality against the exploitation of imperialism or of the national capitalism. But that defence should not be confounded with our policy. We consider the existence of any national state as an historical progress and we don't like to return to the Balkanising of the actual national states, to their division in a lot of Lilliputian national states of as many oppressed nationalities. Our strategic policy is to obtain the unity of the Spanish proletariat and its political independence in order to face the bourgeoisie. The right to national self-determination is subordinated to that struggle we fight for the unity and the political independence of the Spanish proletariat. We are for the unity of the Canadian proletariat and for its political independence to face and to defeat the ruling Canadian bourgeoisie. That unity should be obtained, independently from the language the workers speak. That was the policy of Lenin in Russia under tsarism. They fought for the right to self-determination, but the struggle for that right was subordinated to the unity of the proletariat of the whole Russia, independently from the language they spoke, the religion they believed in or the culture they had. Our struggle in Canada is against the Canadian capitalism as a whole - apart from it speaking French or English - and for the unity of the whole Canadian working class. That's the supreme task of a Trotskyist party, and the struggle for the right to national self-determination is subordinated to that task.
In exceptional circumstances, for instance, when a great mass movement fighting for independence is at hand, we support critically that struggle of the masses, just as we support critically any mass mobilisation against the exploiters, the bourgeoisie and the oppressing state. But 'critically' means that, as soon as the central power is defeated, we go on with a systematic struggle for the unity of the proletariat of these countries, proposing the Federation of States.
Our historical struggle is for the destruction of the national states in order to obtain nations much more powerful as those obtained by capitalism, and finally, for the unity of the continents and of the world. Therefore, we never should be in favour of the tremendous regression of the productive forces that would be provoked by the emergence of new states with independent frontiers and customs. Our great slogan is for the right to national self-determination inside federations of socialist workers' states that build greater and greater nations. That is our great slogan, in which we combine the need to destroy the national states of the oppressing bourgeoisie with the right to national self-determination and with the need to obtain always greater and more powerful nations in order to make easier the development of the productive forces. Even if we may accept the formation of these national mini-states as a provisional phenomenon and as a provisory regression of the development of the productive forces and of the advance of the revolution against the central bourgeois power, we anyhow go on claiming that this unity should be re-established into one state, through the federation of socialist republics.
The word 'front' and its identification with workers' front has provoked some confusion in our movement, a confusion cleverly used by revisionism to smuggle its positions into our ranks. This smuggle consists in putting an equal sign - as for its importance and character - between a workers' front, a front to promote an action of class independence, and different 'fronts' that may be set up for anti-imperialist, democratic and feminist actions.
It's no casualty that Trotsky, in his writings in the decade of the thirties, never calls for the setting up of anti-imperialist fronts or fronts of any other kind. The famous formulation of the Eastern Theses about the anti-imperialist front is the only real antecedent of such a statement in the revolutionary Marxist literature. Even when these theses make a parallel between the workers' front in the Western countries and the anti-imperialist front in the Eastern countries, the text itself makes clear how the great task is anyhow to obtain a complete political and organisational independence of the working class, and not to make stable fronts with the bourgeoisie. The great task of the Fourth International is to make the workers independent of any stable relation and organisation with other classes. The greatest task of the Fourth International is to make the working class politically independent. But that doesn't mean to ignore the progressive struggle of any class sector of the people against imperialism, the capitalists, the feudal land lords, machismo and the totalitarian and dictatorial bureaucratic governments. Trotskyism has to combine its permanent and systematic struggle for the independence of the working class, separating it from any other class sector and organising it independently, with the promotion of and the intervention in any progressive struggle, even when it is not a workers' struggle. If we don't actuate like that, never the working class will be the leader of the whole exploited people, and - still worse - our party never will be the leader of the working class. The party overcomes that contradiction by promoting any kind of unity of action that is positive, in order to develop any progressive class struggle. But the unity of action is the opposite of a front. It is the opposite in time, in structure and in aims. A front creates relatively permanent organisms, supposes the organisation of committees of unique front and a relatively democratic functioning of them, as well as a continuity in the action. Unity of action, on the contrary, is momentary and doesn't create any organisation with more or less democratic functioning. It functions on the base of agreements and maintains the absolute independence of the organisations that agree. The unity of action is ephemeral, a front isn't.
That's why we defend the anti-imperialist unity of action; the unity of action of women for abortion, divorce or the right to vote; the unity of action with any other political party to get equal access to radio and television; we defend the manifestation together with anybody to claim for democratic rights against a Bonapartist and totalitarian government, and even against a bourgeois democratic one. But we should not confound unity of action with the setting up of a front. We are against making fronts with bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties to defend democracy, even when we agree with them on the defence of certain democratic points. With the name of 'front', organisations have been set up that have a popular front character since distinct classes intervene in it, specially the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie, and since their aim is not the political independence of the working class. (Yet, in certain cases these fronts may even play a relatively progressive role, as are the nationalist movements.) These variants of popular front may have some progressive character in the backward countries when they propose to fight against imperialism or the land lords, but finally they are as pernicious as the metropolitan popular front. When that front happens (we, Trotskyists never promote it since we consider it to be a variant of popular front) and when the working class or an important part of it takes part in that front, then we may intervene in that existing front, but in order to break it up, to denounce it from inside and to promote the political and organisational independence of the working class that intervenes in it. That means, we may intervene in a nationalist movement, but with a clear aim of denouncing class collaboration and stating the independence of the working class.
We should systematically propose the unity of action (for instance, joint mass demonstrations) in order to claim the rupture of a colonising pact, the liberation of prisoners of the totalitarian regime, etc.; so we show that we are not sectarian and that we promote any specific, concrete anti-imperialist or democratic task. But we should systematically denounce the front as opposed to our policy of unity of action, because it makes the working class dependent on class organisations that are not theirs.
It is important to make clear that we are not for a unique front, neither anti-imperialist, nor anti-feudal, nor feminist anti-sexist, nor democratic anti-dictatorial; but that we are for anti-imperialist actions, feminist actions, democratic and anti-land lord actions; it is important because there has been a tendency to set up a camouflage of popular front policy with such names.
Even when during a stage such fronts may be relatively progressive, historically they serve the bourgeoisie and they are a brake to the process towards political independence of the proletariat. It is therefore indispensable to delete definitively from our policy the call for any kind of fronts that are not workers' fronts, and to raise instead the unity of action. The workers' front is different, because it doesn't aim at the permanent collaboration with another class or with sectors distinct from the working class, but rather at the independence of our class regarding these sectors. It doesn't confound the distinct classes into a common organisation; it rather tends to separate the working class from the other classes.
Nothing shows better the extreme reactionary character of imperialism and the Soviet bureaucracy than the partition of Germany and hence the splitting up of its proletariat. The real aim of the counterrevolutionary unique front set up by imperialism and the bureaucracy in Germany was to divide the proletariat in order to avoid it to take up again its historic tradition, which made it the most organised, and of greatest Marxist tradition in the world.
The unity of Germany, although realised as a government arrangement, had been a great historic conquest. It was not complete, since Austria was not included, but the unity of all these little German states had made possible a great development of the productive forces and of culture. Its liquidation meant a retrocession, not only for us but also for the bourgeoisie. The definitive crisis of the capitalist regime becomes clear in that loss of conquests of the epoch of its upswing. In this case, the Soviet bureaucracy, allied to imperialism, not only puts an end to a conquest of the bourgeoisie in its progressive stage, but also to a conquest of the proletariat.
In Germany we have a synthesis of the European revolution:
in the East a political revolution is at order, in the West a workers' and socialist one. The unity of the nation is the unity of the two revolutions. Therefore, without the unity of the proletariats of both sides, there is no possibility of a new unified Germany.
Therefore, that revolutionary struggle acquires a special importance because the whole European proletariat, East and West, is confronted with the task of uniting all European nations through a !Federation of Socialist Soviet Republics of Europe! a federation that only can be obtained through the combination of the political revolution in the East with the socialist revolution in the West.
Therefore, the German proletariat, once it assumes again its vanguard role, will have to make the synthesis and will be the centre of the process of the European socialist revolution.