The Transitional Program Now, Nahuel Moreno 1980
Our parties and our International haven't been able to transform themselves in strong mass parties, during these nearly forty years of revolutionary upswing. It seems to be impossible. If we go deeper into the analysis, we may find the profound objective reasons hidden behind that difficulty. This objective reason has been, for us, the strengthening of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, accompanying the revolutionary triumphs of the actual post war period. Revolutionary will, on its own, is not able to vanquish the objective processes. Revolutionary will is a condition, but on its own it is not sufficient to build Marxist revolutionary mass parties, if the objective situation does not allow for it. If the counterrevolutionary bureaucratic apparatuses would go on strengthening more and more, taking more and more sectors of the mass movement under control, then the Fourth International would not be able to build parties with influence in the mass movement. Fortunately, that's not the case.
The objective situation is opening enormous possibilities for the building of Trotskyist mass parties, first slowly but since about five or six years, at a great speed. These objective conditions, every time more advantageous, are due to the fact that in the last thirty years the crisis of imperialism on one hand, and the crisis of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses on the other hand has been growing; since about five or six years these crises have even acquired a convulsive, continuous character. And together with that, repeatedly revolutionary crises are happening. The combination of these factors opens every time greater opportunities to fortify Trotskyist parties.
But for our parties to be able to settle inside the mass movement, it is indispensable that they be able to study carefully reality in order to discover the opportunities that come open to us. These opportunities - election campaigns, strikes, struggles of oppressed sectors of the proletariat - acquire an immediate character: once gone, they don't come back. So, one should take profit of them most audaciously, as soon as they arrive.
We should emphasise among these opportunities those given by the struggle of the most exploited sectors of the proletariat, because they have a permanent character, and they systematically are ignored by the bureaucratic apparatuses and the workers' aristocracy. These sectors are the outcast of the modern industrial societies, the workers who, apart from their condition of rank workers, belong to oppressed sectors or nationalities; and toward them should we orient the priorities of our work. They are the immigrates which in some European countries make up one fourth of manpower, they are the workers of the oppressed nationalities or the workers of the backward countries - the black people, for instance - and the women workers everywhere, the workers of Porto Rico, the “Chicanos” who are part of the North American proletariat, the Indian people and the black workers of African countries.
The “Transition Program” is the only one that will be able to give an answer to their needs, and they will be the greatest fighters in many countries.
In the former thesis we have dealt with the absolute necessity of scanning reality in order to detect any opportunity provided by the increasing revolutionary struggle we are seeing. That means also, to urgently make clear to which processes and to which organisations our parties and militants should apply.
The Fourth International will become a mass international as far as its sections - without exception - apply themselves to the revolutionary processes that happen in their country. The argument, not to deal with a revolutionary process under the pretext of disagreement with its political program, or with the leadership it happens to have, is a betrayal to the Fourth International. Our parties have to apply themselves to processes such as that of the last year of guerrilla warfare in Nicaragua, independently from the fact that it is conducted by an opportunist organisation like the FSLN. The very first duty of our parties is precisely to intervene in those processes in order to dispute the leadership of the revolutionary mass movement with the opportunists. Not to do so, means to abandon those masses in the hands of the opportunist leaderships, the leaderships of class collaboration.
It's equally important to work inside the workers' organisations, independently from the kind of leadership they may have, and independently from the character they may have. Any Trotskyist party has to work preferably in those trade union organisations that raise the greatest part of the workers, independently from the actual origin and structure of those organisations. We go there where is our class, to state our policy and to fight the leaderships that are in control of their organisations. That principled statement of working inside the trade unions, independently from their characteristics and origin, is a central principle of Trotskyist policy. So it has been stated categorically by Trotsky in a programmatic statement, even regarding fascist trade unions:
!we should not make a choice of the field of our application nor of the conditions in which we develop our activity according to our taste and pleasure. To fight in order to get authority over the masses in a totalitarian o semi-totalitarian state is infinitely more difficult as to do so in a democracy. The same applies to the trade unions, the character of which reflects the changes produced in the destiny of the capitalist states. We should not renounce the struggle to get influence upon the German workers, only because of the fact that the task is much more difficult there, due to the totalitarian regime. In the same way, we should not renounce at the struggle inside the workers' organisations created compulsively by fascism. And even less reason do we have to renounce the systematic work inside the trade unions of totalitarian or semi totalitarian kind, only because they depend directly or indirectly from the corporate state or because the bureaucracy doesn't allow the revolutionary people to work freely in them. We should fight under all those conditions created by the former evolution; and the mistakes of the working class and the crimes of its leaders are part of that evolution. In the fascist and semi fascist countries, it is impossible to carry through a revolutionary work that is not hidden, illegal and conspiratorial. In the totalitarian or semi totalitarian trade unions, it is impossible or nearly impossible to carry through an activity that is not conspiratorial. We should adapt ourselves to the existing conditions in each country, in order to mobilise the masses not only against the bourgeoisie but also against the totalitarian regime of the trade unions themselves and against the leaders that support this regime. The first slogan of that struggle is: !Full and unconditional independence of the trade unions regarding the capitalist state! That means to fight in order to transform the trade unions in organisms of the ample exploited masses and not of the workers' aristocracy! (Leon Trotsky, “Trade unions in the era of imperialist decadence”, published in “Sobre los Sindicatos”, ed. Pluma, Bogota, 1977, p.135-136; emphasis by L.T.)
As stated by Trotsky, we go to those workers' organisations where the working class stays, even if they are controlled by the state, not in order to capitulate to the policy of state control but on the contrary, in order to make the trade union and workers' organisations independent from state control or bureaucratic control. But we go there because that's the battle field against the state and the opportunist leaderships. Moreover, the argument that we don't actuate in some organisations, because they are dependent on the bonapartist or totalitarian state, is an argument that amplifies the independence of the other trade union or workers' organisations. Today, any trade union organisation that isn't revolutionary depends more or less on state control, on its links with the bourgeois state or with the bureaucratic totalitarian state in the workers' states. To apply only on the organisations under control of the reformist bureaucracy, with the argument that they are independent from the state, is to refrain from denouncing the state control those organisations suffer to a high extent. And on the other hand, it means to abandon the workers who are in the organisations that are more subject to state control - or that have an origin of greater state control - in the hands of the bureaucracies that have control over them. It means to abandon our revolutionary duty of being there where stays the working class in order to fight its treasonous leaderships and state control. The discussion about the question whether we will be able to transform those organisations in revolutionary ones or if we will have to create other ones is a faulty discussion that will be resolved by history. It is even more serious if - under the cover of that historic perspective - we apply for the creation of pure revolutionary organisations, a kind of red trade unions. That's an ultra leftist policy that is opposed to the whole trajectory of the Fourth International; our trajectory requires that any party and any militant be active inside the workers' organisations to which the workers belong, independently from its character. The acceptance of that elementary principle is a requisite to belong to the Fourth International.
In order to justify theoretically its capitulation to petty bourgeois parties, revisionism abandons the class definition and makes an intellectual definition of the parties: they represent programs, only programs and not class sectors.
Political parties are class organisations, organisations of different sectors of the classes, fighting for the state power. Without classes there is no state, without state there are no politics, and without politics, there are no political parties. Nevertheless, those parties have their specific history, different from the political defence of the sectorial class interests in general.
The great bourgeois revolutions are at the origin of the different political parties. The class struggle had to develop in its plenitude, had to come to its climax in the bourgeois society, in order to manifest itself on a superstructural level in the formation of political parties.
Marxism makes a clear distinction among different kinds of workers' parties. Lenin and Trotsky did emphasise that there are two kinds of workers' parties, clearly delimited, as different one from the other as vegetal and animal live. Apart from the revolutionary, Trotskyist workers' parties, there exist reformist, bureaucratic or petty bourgeois parties, which are historically counterrevolutionary. Politically they reflect the workers' aristocracy, the workers' bureaucracy and the petty bourgeoisie, principally in the metropolitan countries and in the workers' states where those privileged sectors nourish themselves with the crumbs of the table of the imperialist exploitation or of the administration of the workers' state, respectively. So, they are the superstructural expression of a sector of the working class, of the modern petty bourgeoisie or of the bureaucracy. We are talking about the social democracy and its variants, Stalinism and the petty bourgeois parties.
Those parties go on to be reformist, and in general counterrevolutionary, direct or indirect agents of imperialism, even when they seize power heading a workers' revolution, since its role is to avoid the national or international extension of that revolution. The existence of those parties, principally of the Second International, has made necessary the foundation of the Third International, which in turn, becoming bureaucratic, has made necessary the foundation of the Fourth International for the same task.
That definition is absolutely necessary, and one reason is that it is the only valid explanation for the fact that no revolutionary dictatorship (an October revolution) has been victorious after Lenin and Trotsky: no revolution has been conducted by a Trotskyist party.
A correct definition of our International and of our Trotskyist parties is absolutely necessary. We meet revisionists that repeat the old Stalinist-Bujarinist statement, heavily criticised by Trotsky in the program for the Communist International presented at the Sixth Congress: to make a definition of a party from the point of view of the form, as revolutionary vanguard, theory of Marxism, incarnation of experience, etc. The modern Stalinist-Bujarinist people utter similar generalities and refrain from defining our International clearly and categorically; above all, they refrain from marking the class character, or of sectors of a class, of our parties.
Our International is precisely the only existing International, and its parties are the only parties, that fight for the permanent revolution; that means, for a program of transition towards the socialist society, for a workers' revolution that should impose a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat that goes on fighting for the international revolution. The other existing workers' parties - Social Democrats and Stalinists of Moscow, of Mao or of Castro - will impose a bureaucratic, nationalist, reformist dictatorship, if they seize power, urged to do so by objective circumstances; their program is and will go on to be the building of socialism in only one country and the pacific coexistence. Our International is the only world party that fights for the international socialist revolution; our parties are the only ones that may head the struggle for an October revolution in each country. Therefore our International is the only one that reflects not only the historic interests of the proletariat but also the immediate interests of the same class sector that will be able to carry through those historical tasks, the workers' base.
This most general but necessary definition of the workers' parties and of our International doesn't mean we negate the existence of centrist, intermediate formations that range from one pole to the other, that change themselves from revolutionary into reformist and bureaucratic or vice versa. So it happened, for instance, with the Communist Party of the SU, that changed from a revolutionary one under Lenin and Trotsky into a bureaucratic and reformist one under Stalin, or with the left of the Social Revolutionary Party in Russia, that changed from a petty bourgeois reformist one into a revolutionary one, when it agreed with the Bolsheviks to make the October Revolution, and afterwards again went into the orbit of the counterrevolution. In Germany too we have the example of the centrist fraction of the Independent Socialist Party that merged into the Communist Party.
These hybrid phenomena that exist between the two great categories of parties in the world have to be defined by their dynamics regarding them. Will their centrism take them rapidly towards Trotskyism or rather towards opportunism, nationalism and reformism? We necessarily must raise that question in order to define our attitude towards them, even more if we know that it is a rapid process, a movement that we should detect in order to actuate most quickly. If after some months that centrist current doesn't orient itself clearly towards Trotskyism and towards a common work in our International, then it is one more variant of the spectrum of the ultra left or of the sclerotic centrism of the petty bourgeois parties, historically the domain of the bourgeois counterrevolution.
The Trotskyist movement has used repeatedly in the actual post war period the method of entrism, advocated by Trotsky in the decade of the thirties, regarding the socialist parties and as an exception for short periods, to gain mass currents or ample sectors of the vanguard.
But revisionism advocated an entrism 'sui generis' into the communist parties, which was a long range variant to accompany the supposed revolutionary course of its leaders. The Argentine Trotskyists made an indirect entrism into the trade union organisation of Peronism, the '62 Organizaciones'. Many other Trotskyist organisations have practised an entrism into the socialist parties when those parties were at the point of transforming themselves into mass parties, like the CORCI in the Portuguese PS (Partido Socialista) and in the Venezuelan MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria), and like the FB and the CORCI in the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espa¤ol). And there has been permanently or nearly permanently an entrism in the British Labour Party since the beginning of the after war period.
We Trotskyists are by principle an independent organisation to carry through a frontal struggle against the opportunist organisations inside the workers' and mass movement. Our historical and principled task is to confront the opportunist policy with ours, facing the mass movement. Therefore, the entrism advocated by Trotsky was not realised infringing that principle but rather as a tactical manoeuvre, provisional and of short duration, that started from being aware of an objective situation and an opportunity that opened to us. Concretely, Trotsky discovered that there was a left course of new sectors of the masses that entered into the Social Democrat parties, leading to strong left tendencies, or at least strong regarding the small propaganda groups we were. So, Trotsky drew the conclusion that it was necessary to enter into those parties and to gain rapidly those left tendencies for the Fourth International, for our Trotskyist positions, and to make them break with their conduction. He started from the premise that any progressive centrist organisation, if it doesn't enter quickly the Fourth International, crystallises as a centrist organisation or tendency, impossible to be gained for the Fourth International, or changes its orientation, transforming itself into an ultra leftist or a right wing current. He therefore considered entrism as provisional, as a rapid short range manoeuvre to gain hundreds or thousands of militants for the Fourth International; to gain those young workers and students that entered the socialist party and that moved day after day more towards leftist positions in order to make the revolution.
Entrism as advocated by Trotsky was a question of a social political reality: the emergence of really progressive centrist currents inside the mass organisations. Entrism was one tactic among others. The method with which Trotsky faced the problem of entrism and of the relation with progressive centrist currents continues to be correct and is going to be ever more important. It will be impossible to build great mass Trotskyist parties following a linear track, by evolutionary accumulation of militants and by steady and systematic growth. It will be a convulsive process, carried out by unification and splitting, on the level of any country as well as on an international scale. If, despite the crisis of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses and the revolutionary upswing, no great currents emerge that orient themselves towards Trotskyist or Trotskyist like positions, then it will be impossible to build strong Trotskyist parties with mass influence in a few years.
Trotskyism should have a ductile, clever, careful and ample policy towards any current emerging from the traditional parties or from the trade union movement that orients itself towards revolutionary positions. But that ductile and ample policy should not be carried out at the expense of hiding principles, nor at the expense of adopting the immature positions of those currents, capitulating to them. The ample policy starts from obtaining a common activity tending towards a common organisation about those fundamental points of our revolutionary program on which we agree. To build the party, we as Trotskyists should have the skill in stating revolutionary positions - not our whole program but its fundamental points - that allow for the co-ordination of a revolutionary action with those currents of the mass movement that emerge, up to making a front or a common party, in the process that should take them to our Trotskyist positions. It is of prime importance to obtain quickly those common actions, and if possible common organisations, with any tendency that orients itself towards us, in order to avoid the tremendous danger that they crystallise as centrist organisations. When such mass tendencies emerge - and they will emerge and they will be a decisive factor for the transformation of our parties in mass parties - the great task is to give them an ever clearer dynamic towards a common organisation and a common revolutionary party, in order to avoid precisely that they be able to set up their own organisation and leadership, a fact that would make the incorporation of the majority of them into our policy and program much more difficult.
Entrism is part of this policy we should have towards any centrist organisation that orients itself towards revolutionary positions and that emerges from mass parties or mass organisations. To make entrism, it is necessary that this centrist tendency has already emerged, it has to be an objective fact. We should not make entrism in a centrist organisation for the 'possibility' of that tendency to emerge in the future. Given that situation, we should be aware of the fact that entrism requires two fundamental conditions to be carried through: !first, to have solid Trotskyist cadres, able to support the tremendous pressure of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses; !secondly, to do it as a tactical short range manoeuvre. Any entrism that lasts more than a couple of years means that we are transforming our militants and our organisations into militants and organisations that orient their policy according to the answer to the leaderships of the organisms in which they made entrism, and fundamentally, that their activity facing the masses is being limited by the strait waistcoat of those counterrevolutionary apparatuses. Any entrist militant is forced to give an answer day after day to the policy of those leaderships, and is not able to give an answer to the daily struggle of the masses. Unavoidably happens an adaptation to the environment in which he is active, to that political environment which is not ours neither that of the mass movement as a whole. It's an adaptation to a sector of the mass movement, fully under control of bureaucratic and reformist apparatuses. Therefore, entrism should only last a short time. All the experiences show that a long range entrism conducts to demoralisation and never to a great growth of our parties.
Apart from that, there is another reason for not to make - in principle - a long range entrism, and perhaps not even for a minute, in reformist political organisations: the profound change that happened in the actual post war period in the Social Democrat parties. Before the war, the Social Democrat parties were organising a sector of the vanguard of the mass movement. The houses of those parties were meeting points and centres of discussion for a sector of the workers' movement. To be member of a socialist party meant to get in touch with an important sector of the working class in the country where we are active. But today, due to the radio and the television, those parties are empty, they don't organise any sector of the mass movement at all, they only obtain the votes of a sector of the workers' movement by means of the radio and the television, put at their disposal by courtesy of imperialism and capitalism. A leader of the PSOE said he preferred rather ten minutes of television than ten thousand militants; this is a categorical expression about the new orientation of the Social Democrat parties, which keep out the militants from their own parties, so as not to suffer the control and pressure of the workers' base.
The opposite is true for the trade union organisations. Here entrism is a must. It's there where we find the most important sectors of the organised working class in nearly any country of the world; it's there where the class is active and manifests itself massively. We should enter into all those mass organisations and stay there stubbornly, making use of whatsoever clandestine tactic for that purpose. But that entrism is not a political entrism. The party goes on independently with its political activity; it manages the entrism of its militants in the massive trade union organisations, taking care of them staying there, independently from the kind of leadership these trade unions have; but politically, the party goes on to address the workers' movement as a whole, popularising and defending the Trotskyist policy. The same happens when - for convenience, as a tactical and partial manoeuvre of a sector of the party or of a few militants - sectorial or individual entrism is made in a youth or workers' sector of the reformist organisations or of the communist parties (a practice that is perfectly licit and useful).
Since the beginnings of the century, Marxism has clearly defined the difference and the relation between propaganda and agitation. Propaganda is the explanation of many ideas to a few people and agitation is the explanation of a few ideas to many people.
Propaganda is made by means of articles, talks, conferences, courses, books; agitation is carried through by slogans. That doesn't mean we don't explain and support those slogans by means of articles and even leaflets and talks. But the few ideas we want to make clear by agitation should be expressed in slogans, that means, a phrase accessible to the workers' and popular way of talking, and indicating clearly the idea we want to transmit. Since our aim is to obtain the mobilisation of the masses, the most difficult aspect of Marxism is to formulate those phrases or slogans. It's a science and an art. In the same way as we develop phrases understandable by the ample masses, to mobilise the working class, the counterrevolutionary apparatuses do the same: they formulate slogans, phrases understandable by the ample masses, but with an aim opposed to ours, with the aim to demobilise them. The French Communist Party has popularised the famous slogan !“production first”! in the immediate after war period, in order to bridle the wave of strikes and the process of revolutionary mobilisation of the French proletariat. In the same way, when Peron was kicked out in 1955, he issued his famous slogan of !“unsaddle and wait till it's clear”! - wait and see - in order to bridle the mobilisation of the Argentine workers, of a workers' movement he was no longer able to have under control by means of the government and the state.
Our aim is the opposite: we should find those slogans, those phrases the workers' movement can understand, and through the understanding of which it comes to mobilisation, to an action. There are two kinds of slogans. Some slogans are to try to convince the mass movement, even when no immediate possibility exists to go into action. That's no reason why not to agitate them. For instance, the slogan that Soares and Alvaro Cunhal together should take the government in Portugal was a splendid slogan, even if we all were conscious of the fact that, due to the situation of the class struggle, the treason of those parties and our weak force, the two parties wouldn't unite to fight for a government Soares-Cunhal. That doesn't mean we shouldn't agitate that slogan. But there is another kind of slogans, slogans for action or that make possible an action, or a mobilisation of the mass movement as a whole, or of some sectors of it to come up, as, for instance, when we call for a strike, for which great consciousness exists among the workers, when there is a strong pressure among them for going into strike or into any other similar mobilisation. These are slogans for action. The party, after making the analysis which slogan for action is appropriate, makes any effort for that action to be realised by the mass movement, because it is possible, because the conditions for that action are given.
Any slogan should give an answer to the actual situation of the workers' and mass movement, since it is a synthesis of the immediate necessities of the masses and of the level of its consciousness. To have a mobilising slogan, we should not only take into account the immediate necessities of the mass movement, but also start from its level of consciousness when formulating the slogan. We should make an effort for the slogan to be a synthesis of the immediate necessities and the immediate consciousness of the mass movement, with the aim to obtain a mobilisation. This is the way Trotsky, facing the unemployment in the USA (the immediate necessity), and the fact that the workers had confidence in Roosevelt (the immediate consciousness), advocated to raise a mobilising slogan of pressure upon Roosevelt to give a job to everybody. That slogan took into account, on one hand, the low level of consciousness of the North American proletariat (it trusted in a government that was an agent of the monopolies and imperialism), and on the other hand, the necessity of overcoming the unemployment. The slogan for action may seem opportunist (make pressure upon Roosevelt or ask him to give jobs), but it is correct from our Trotskyist point of view, if it is the best formula to mobilise the workers, if it is a bridge towards its mobilisation, if it promotes its unity, its decision to go into struggle. Trotsky is a master in matching our slogans to the level of consciousness of the working class, whatsoever that level be.
Those considerations are fundamental to be able to quickly transform our parties in parties with mass influence. Once Trotsky dead, and due to the objective circumstances of the tremendous power of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, we have suffered a tendency of limiting ourselves to a propagandistic activity, abandoning the most important science and art of a revolutionary party, that of formulating appropriate slogans for each moment of the class struggle. We should urgently take up again this science and art. We should abandon the prejudice against formulating slogans appropriate to the low level of consciousness of the working class. We should abandon that fetishism of general, propagandistic slogans that survive months and months, and even years. What is really difficult for a Marxist is precisely to have the necessary quickness to go on changing slogans according to the changes in the situation of the class struggle. Today that necessity is peremptory because the class struggle changes every minute in all countries of the world. We may state a law: in our revolutionary epoch, an authentic Trotskyist party is one that systematically goes on combining and changing its slogans. Any Trotskyist party which maintains the same slogans and analyses in this time of uninterrupted changes in the class struggle, is wrong.
That doesn't mean that a revolutionary party raises always only one slogan. The complexity of the class struggle, the necessities of the distinct sectors of the mass movement and of its allies, the changes in the situation, provoke that always the Trotskyist policy manifests itself through a set of slogans, through different combined slogans, some of them being of a heavier weight, the decisive ones. But the latter are not isolated, they are combined with the other ones. We should get a clear combination of a few slogans with a changing structure among them.
The Bolshevik Party raised the slogans !Constitutive Assembly, All power to the Soviets, The bourgeois ministers should renounce, Against Kornilov.! In the short time of a few months, different slogans appeared and had emphasis, but inside a combination and around an axis - itself also not permanent - which was !All power to the Soviets!. Those supreme examples should be assimilated by all Trotskyist parties. It's our principle activity that gives the character to our parties: if that activity is propagandistic, not oriented towards the mass movement, not for action, our parties will also go on being propagandistic, sects, not mass parties.
What happens with the slogans, also happens with the relation that exists between the principles, the strategy and the tactics, and with their relation to the slogans. We have some principles that are the essence of our movement, such as our opposition against class collaboration and against popular fronts, our unconditional defence of the most intransigent class struggle and our struggle for the independence of the working class, for the socialist revolution, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, for the right to the national self-determination. Those principles should be present in any of our actions, in any of our slogans, in any of our talks or propagandistic articles; but they should not be confounded with strategy and tactics.
In this revolutionary epoch, Trotskyists have only two strategies until the seizure of power: to promote the permanent mobilisation of the working class and its allies until reaching a socialist October revolution, and together with that, to strengthen and develop our party so as to be able to conduct that revolution, transforming it into a party with mass influence. All the rest, all our activity, are only means, more or less important and used during shorter or longer times, but only simple means at the service of those two great strategic aims. One never should confound a tactic with a strategy, or, in other words, a mean with the final aim. To confound a tactic with a strategy means to transform a mean in an aim by itself. Revisionism in the Fourth International has a tendency to transform tactics and means in strategies. For instance, entrism, a provisional, short range, exceptional mean, has been transformed in an entrism 'sui generis', in a full strategy for eighteen years. The means, just like the slogans, change systematically. In an epoch of elections, we have other means and tactics than in an epoch when there are no elections. In a stage with possibilities of a general strike, we have means different from those of a stage where no general strike is possible. If the stage opens possibilities for strikes in some trade unions or even in a factory, the means are different. If we have struggles of the allies of the working class, the means, say, the tactics, change. No revolutionary party may be bound hand and foot stating that its permanent activity, its strategy is the general strike, or the unique front, or the workers' and peasants' government, or the partial strikes, or the workers' control, or the occupation of factories, or the participation in elections, or entrism.
Tactics change, just like slogans. The means and the slogans should be variable, plastic, matched to the moment and changing systematically. That doesn't mean that a tactic may not have on its turn subordinated means; in this sense we may talk about an electoral strategy and its tactics, the means we will use for that strategy. But at the scale of the epoch in which we are living, there are only two strategies and all the rest are means or tactics we use and abandon permanently according to the situation of the class struggle.
It is most serious to confound principles, strategy or propaganda with tactics and slogans. By principle, we are for the overthrow of all democratic bourgeois institutions; even more in that epoch in which those institutions are the form, the envelope of semi bonapartist and bonapartist regimes. But that is a principle, it is not for the propaganda. Tactically and for the slogans, this principle and this strategy of going towards the destruction of the organisms of bourgeois state ruling, should be matched to the immediate necessities, to the means we and the masses have, to the level of consciousness of the masses, in order to orient the mobilisation in that direction. This means that, perhaps tactically, we may mobilise the masses through tactics and slogans that say: let's require from that parliament in which you trust, let's require from your parties that are in that parliament, let's mobilise for that or that conquest. It may be the best way to educate the mass movement (which, having a low level of consciousness, believes in those organisms as if they were a conquest). But we shouldn't say we believe in those organisms, since that would be a violation of the principles.
This statement is much more 'leftist' as the one of Trotsky, to mobilise for requiring from Roosevelt. The level of consciousness of the masses shows us which tactics and slogans are appropriate for mobilising them, and we should not reject them, nor jump ahead of that level of consciousness, confounding principles and strategy with tactics and slogans. If we don't proceed in this way, if we make the mistake of believing that we make advances with only having principles and with propaganda, we are guilty of a crime as great as the opposed one of revisionism, which is to believe that strategy and principles are only tactics and slogans. In the latter case, one states that the principles are the tactic, the means. Nevertheless, the principle is a category opposed to that of tactics, even if it is intimately connected to it; because a tactic is a mean, and a principle is much more than a strategy, it's the foundation of our policy. Any tactic has to be principled and any principle should accept that it must become manifest through means. But each of those categories has its environment. The environment of tactics, like that of the slogans, is the environment of the immediate, not the historical; it's the environment of the immediate necessities and the immediate consciousness of the mass movement, whatsoever backward it be. And if the mean doesn't match those conditions, it's no longer a mean, it's repeating the principles.
The unique workers' front is one of the best tactics the Leninist party has concerning the oportunist workers' parties. But it is neither a strategy nor a principle. As any slogan and any tactic, it depends on the objective circumstances. Only when a present and stringent necessity exists for the workers' movement to unite, and a consciousness of that necessity exists inside the workers' movement, principally in the majority and most backward sector, only then can we apply that tactic. If not, then it is only the proclamation of an apparent principle. That means, generally the conditions for advocating the unique front do only come up when there is a furious offensive of the bourgeois class. Because then, the working class suffers that brutal offensive against it and likes to give a unitary answer to it. Therefore, the moments of unique front are those of a brutal offensive against the standard of living of the working class, or when the danger of a bonapartist or fascist coup appears. That's the moment for calling all the workers' parties to the struggle against that furious economic or political offensive against the proletariat. With this call, which aims at the full unity of the working class for a defensive action, we obtain two purposes: if the other parties accept the unique front, we have a colossal unitary action of the working class that opens the way for further offensive mobilisations; and if the workers' leaderships don't accept, we are able to unmask them in front of the mass movement.
That's the traditional unique front statement of the Third International. But as for many categories elaborated by the Third International, experience has shown to be richer than their political theoretic formulation.
So, there have been, and there exist, factual unique fronts of the working class, accepted or not by its parties, set up by base organisations, like the factory committees, the soviets, the trade unions. Regarding those organisations, which may acquire a defensive as well as a revolutionary character, according to the circumstances, our International has a permanent policy of developing them, without being identified with any of them; we call for the setting up of those organisms according to the stage of class struggle the masses are living in. In that field we neither have a permanent mean, tactic or slogan. In certain moments we fight for the strengthening of the trade unions, or for their transformation in revolutionary trade unions, or we set up a revolutionary mass trade union. In other moments it will be factory committees. And in still other moments it may be soviets or militia. We don't refrain from advocating towards the workers' parties the formation of those organisms of unique front for the action of the mass movement. But in that case we don't put emphasis on our statement towards the other parties, but rather on our call to the mass movement to set up those organisms of unique front.
All our parties and our International as a whole claim proudly the structure of the Bolshevik party to be their example. That means, we think, on one hand, our party has to be composed of professional revolutionaries, and on the other hand, it must have the regime of democratic centralism. We claim more than ever centralism to be the first obligation of any Trotskyist party. In this revolutionary epoch, Trotskyism is being persecuted mercilessly not only by the bourgeois state, the bourgeois parties and the fascist groups, but also by the opportunist parties which consider us with best reason as their mortal enemy. Moreover, our parties are being build in order to carry through the armed struggle for the seizure of power, the insurrection. This supreme purpose can only be attained with a rigid discipline, of which the only warrant is centralism and a dedication as only professional militants may have.
But at the same time, inside the party we should have the most absolute democracy, which makes it possible to take profit of the experience of the party as a whole and of the mass movement, the only way to develop an orientation. On the other hand, it also is the only way to make a true, democratic balance of the voted orientations.
Democracy is impossible without the right to tendencies and fractions. But that's an exceptional right because the coming up of tendencies and fractions is a calamity for a party which is centralised for the action. The permanent discussion in all the organisms of the party is the greatest tool of political elaboration for a Trotskyist party. The party should be discussing all the time systematically. It should check individual experiences or experiences of distinct organisms and distinct sectors of activity in order to get a correct orientation, the best result, through clashes and discussions. But that virtue of permanent discussion transforms into its opposite when a party goes on discussing permanently through organised groups and fractions and tendencies, the more if they survive all along the time. When that happens, the fractions cease to be fractions and convert themselves into gangs. The party no longer acts in an unitary way towards the mass movement but is rather oriented towards itself, it's paralysed, it creates a parliamentary environment of permanent polemics and unavoidably it desists from acting in an unitary way and its principal activity becomes the discussion, that means, it stops acting principally inside the mass movement. The discussion is a fundamental and decisive mean for our activity, but only a mean. The existence of permanent fractions and tendencies transforms the discussion in an aim on its own and not in a mean of centralism and of unified action facing the mass movement.
As important as the professional militants, the democratic centralism and the permanent discussion, is the organic character that any Bolshevik Trotskyist party should have. A Trotskyist party is not worth to be called so if it acquires characteristics of a tendency, a propaganda group or a movement. The working class will only be able to defeat the bourgeoisie if it has an iron organisation. That necessity of the working class should be assumed and intensified by our parties. In our parties, anything should be done organically, through organisms, nothing outside of them. That allows for making really clear who is militant and who is not. Are militants only those who belong to an organism of the party and are subject to its discipline. Moreover, a strict hierarchical among organisms is absolutely necessary. Our parties have organisms of conduction, base organisms and intermediate organisms, with a permanent dialectic of discussion and execution. Any jumping over or around organisms - even an appeal at the ranks in plenary meetings - is a negation of the Bolshevik structure. Any mixing up of existing organisms is would-be-democracy, not Bolshevik structure. The Secretariat, the Executive Committee, the Central Committee, the regional committees and the groups have there precise location inside the party.
That functioning through hierarchical organisms is the only warrant that our parties, when gaining mass influence, will maintain the Bolshevik internal regime. So we will be able to avoid the serious danger of creating Trotskyist movements with mass influence which, at the instant of the action, turn out to be anarchic and unable to operate with the centralisation and discipline of a revolutionary army, as required by the circumstances of the epoch.
Just as we should claim more than ever the Transition Program” and Trotskyism, we also should claim the theory of the permanent revolution. We should however distinguish carefully between the theory and the written text of the Theses of the permanent revolution. In some aspects, those Theses are superseded. And the sooner we recognise that, the sooner will we be able to fight revisionism better.
The Theses don't take into account the political revolution. They couldn't take it into account since, at the time of their redaction, the historical reality didn't yet involve the existence of a bureaucratised workers' state. But today, that new reality is an essential part of our policy and theory of the permanent revolution. The political revolution is part of the world socialist revolution, together with the formal democratic tasks, the tasks of democratic content and the February revolutions. The democratic tasks, the February revolutions, the political revolutions are part of the socialist revolution. This combination of tasks not only happens on a world-wide scale but also at the level of each country, be it backward or not, be it imperialist or a bureaucratised workers' state. Therefore, one expression of the political revolution, the struggle against the counterrevolutionary bureaucratic apparatuses, happens inside the advanced capitalist countries. The same applies for the democratic tasks.
Something similar happens with the category of bourgeois democratic revolutions, which we find at the beginning of the Theses of the permanent revolution. There are no more bourgeois democratic revolutions since there is no more ruling feudalism in the actual world, but only distinct degrees of capitalism and of imperialist ruling. Yet there are two distinct types of socialist revolution: the unconscious, of February, conducted or recovered by reformist parties; and the conscious, of October, conducted by Trotskyist parties. That doesn't mean to negate the fundamental importance of the democratic tasks.
That's why, also in the bureaucratised workers' states themselves, there will be February revolutions, that open the way as a prologue to the October revolution, as a previous stage to the transformation of the Trotskyist parties in mass parties. All that are problems that we have tried to clear in the present theses, and that should be incorporated into the theory of the permanent revolution.
But the Theses, not the theory, made an incorrect evaluation of the dynamics and of the transformation of the bourgeois democratic revolution into socialist revolution in the backward countries. The Theses categorically state that the bourgeois democratic revolution, and even more the socialist revolution, can only be carried through by a communist, Leninist, revolutionary party, based on the revolutionary organisation of the proletariat itself. The Theses have as their fundamental axis the process of transformation of the bourgeois democratic revolution into a socialist revolution, of expropriation of the bourgeoisie and imperialism by a social subject, the proletariat, and by a political subject, the revolutionary communist party. The Theses categorically state that only the working class, headed by a revolutionary communist party may carry through the bourgeois democratic revolution and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie through a socialist revolution. And that happened to be wrong. We should recognise it so. The “Transition Program” itself changes a little bit the categorical statements of the Theses with its theoretic !“improbable variant”. We should recognise that petty bourgeois parties (among them the Stalinist ones), forced by the circumstances, have been urged to break up with the bourgeoisie and imperialism in order to carry through the democratic revolution and the beginning of the socialist revolution, expropriating the bourgeoisie and giving rise this way to new bureaucratised workers' states.
It is necessary to incorporate into the theory of the permanent revolution, the recognition of the generalisation of the February revolutions, the combination of the February revolutions with the October revolution and the fact that the February revolution may arrive at expropriating the bourgeoisie and at starting the socialist revolution; what the bureaucratic leaderships cannot do is to continue the socialist revolution. That incorporation of the February revolution, that recognition of the fact that the February revolutions themselves may go beyond what is stated in the Theses of the permanent revolution, doesn't render void the theory; it rather proofs the theory more than ever.
The theory of the permanent revolution is much more ample than the Theses written by Trotsky at the end of the twenties; it is the theory of the international socialist revolution that combines distinct tasks, stages and types of revolutions on the way towards the world revolution. Reality has been more Trotskyist and permanent than the previsions of Trotsky himself and of the Trotskyists. It has produced unexpected combinations: despite the failures of the subject (in some revolutions the proletariat hasn't been the principal protagonist) and of the subjective factor (the crisis of leadership, the weakness of Trotskyism), the world socialist revolution has obtained important triumphs; it has arrived at the expropriation of the national and foreign exploiters in many countries, although the conduction of the mass movement continued to be in the hands of the opportunist and counterrevolutionary apparatuses and leaderships.
If we don't recognise those facts, we let the way open to the revisionist interpretations that lean on them in order to negate the classist and political character of the theory of the permanent revolution. So, a complete revisionist theory, the substitutionism of Deutscher, has appeared: the communist parties are the symbol of the working class; hence, the Theses have been confirmed since the communist parties have seized power and - factually - were revolutionary parties; even if the working class didn't take part in the revolutionary process, the Stalinist parties did reflect it; Trotsky was wrong because he didn't point out that a class may be reflected by its party and because he wasn't aware of the fact that many communist parties were revolutionary. With that criticism of the Theses, one aims at ratifying the written Theses. We disagree, we say it were February revolutions, that means, workers' and popular revolutions with opportunist leaderships that, urged by the pressure of the mass movement, have been forced to advance beyond what they liked, expropriating the bourgeoisie.
The SWP is engaged in another attack against the Trotskyist theory of the permanent revolution. According to that new theory of the SWP, neither the proletariat nor Trotskyism is any more absolutely necessary for a continuous development of the permanent revolution. At most they are one element among others. The new theory of the permanent revolution, of the actual conduction of the SWP, is the theory of the unitary progressive movements of the oppressed, not of the proletariat and Trotskyism. Any movement of the oppressed - if it is unitary and ranges over all of them, even belonging to different classes - is on its own increasingly permanent and conducts unavoidably to the national and international socialist revolution, without class differentiation or political differentiation. That concept has been expressed particularly regarding the blacks' movement and the women's movement. All women are oppressed, as all blacks are; if one obtains a movement of those oppressed sectors as a whole, that mobilisation will not stop and it will conduct them through distinct stages towards making a socialist revolution.
For the SWP, the socialist revolution is a combination of distinct multitudinous movements - without class differences - of similar importance: the movement of the blacks, of women, of workers, of youth, of old people, that arrive in a nearly pacific way at the triumph of socialism. If all women are marching together, they represent 50 % of the country; if the same happens with the youth (70 % in some Latin American countries), with the workers, the black and the peasants, the combination of those movements will provoke the bourgeoisie to be confined in a little hotel, since it will be the adult, male, white bourgeois that will be opposed against the permanent revolution. It is the theory of Bernstein, combined with the permanent revolution: all is in the movement, the class and the parties are nothing. That theory falls down rapidly in an anti classist humanism, which claims the praxis to be the fundamental category, as opposed to the class struggle as the fundamental motor of history.
The SWP says we should look at what is doing the Government of National Reconstruction of Nicaragua to know what about, since they belong to the movement that tumbled Somoza. So, they apply their revisionist, not classist and not political concept of the permanent revolution. Facing the SWP, we should claim more than ever the classist and Trotskyist character of the permanent revolution. No bourgeois or reformist sector will follow us in the permanent revolution. In some exceptional conjunctures young bourgeois and workers, bourgeois and workers women, opportunist and revolutionary blacks may be marching together, when the action doesn't make an attempt on the bourgeoisie and private property; but such a common march will be exceptional and not permanent. We go on with an intransigent defence of the essence of the theory as well as of the written Theses themselves of the permanent revolution: only the proletariat, headed by a Trotskyist party, may conduct consequently up to the end the international socialist revolution, and hence the permanent revolution. Only Trotskyism is able to impulse the permanent mobilisation of the working class and its allies, principally of the working class. The only element we add is that the objective force of the world revolution, combined with the crisis of leadership of the world proletariat and the crisis without issue of imperialism, has allowed for the national February revolutions to advance much beyond the forecasts of the Theses: petty bourgeois parties have seized power and started the socialist revolution. But those parties, when building bureaucratised workers' states of national type, when imposing their program of pacific coexistence and of socialism in only one country, paralyse the permanent revolution.
In that sense, the Theses were only wrong for some countries in the point about the station where came to a stop the process of permanent revolution conducted by petty bourgeois - inclusive Stalinist - parties; but they were right in stating that anyhow the process comes to a stop if it is not conducted by a Leninist communist party, say, by a Trotskyist party. While the Theses thought it was impossible to overcome the bourgeois limit, or even the feudal limit, reality has shown that those limits could be overcome by the pressure of the mass movement and, unwillingly, by the petty bourgeois parties of its leadership.
The theory of the permanent revolution is enriched with the most extraordinary research tool and instrument of political and theoretic elaboration furnished by Trotskyism: the theory of unequal and combined development. The impulse of the mass movement, combined with the crisis of revolutionary leadership has been at the origin of combinations not foreseen in detail (and which could not have been foreseen) by our movement. But those combinations not only confirm that the process of permanent revolution exists; it is so powerful as to originate those combinations; and they confirm more than ever the theory of the unequal and combined development as the greatest theoretic conquest of revolutionary Marxism in the actual century.
Despite all the revolutionary triumphs, mankind stays at the boarder of the precipice. Marxism and Trotskyism have pointed out that under the imperialist regime, and even under that of the bureaucracy, the outlook for mankind is to fall into barbarism, into a new regime of slavery as the continuation of the imperialist regime, unless the crisis of leadership of the proletariat is overcome. Only socialism will allow mankind to overcome the world of necessity and enter into the world of freedom. Or we enter into the most terrific world of exploitation and misery, of precipitation of mankind into barbarism, or we enter into the world of freedom through socialism.
The monstrosity of the imperialist and bureaucratic regimes has made the category of barbarism to become superseded. The colossal means of destruction, developed by imperialism and by the bureaucratic workers' states provoked a change in the dangers mankind is facing. It's no longer a question of falling into a new regime of slavery, of barbarity, but something much more serious: the possibility that the planet be transformed into a desert without life or with a degenerated life due to the genetic degeneration provoked by the new armaments. There is not only the danger of degradation of life due to an atomic war; there is also an immediate danger: that nature is going on to be destroyed, and principally the energy resources, that essential base of the ruling of man over nature. The exhausting of oil resources in a few decades or in a century is putting a terrible menace upon mankind.
Facing those dangers, we can expect no solution from the bureaucratised workers' states and the leaderships that rule over them. Those leaderships conduct us to the border of the precipice. The only way to avoid it is to wipe out the national boarders, the imperialist ruling and the capitalist private property. In order to obtain that the national boarders be wiped out, there is no other mean than the permanent mobilisation of the world proletariat and the unification of its struggles with that clear purpose. But to wipe out the national boarders, imperialism and the capitalist private property by means of the revolution and the permanent mobilisation of the proletariat and its allies, is only advocated by one organisation, the Fourth International, is only defended by one current of the workers' movement, Trotskyism. Therefore, despite our extreme weakness, the alternative is clear. The question is no longer barbarism or socialism but holocaust or Trotskyism.
Only the proletariat conducted by Trotskyism will give an answer to the greatest challenge mankind ever had: the conquest of the cosmos. Today, that conquest of the cosmos is a coercive necessity that changes the traditional dialectic of Marxism between freedom and necessity. Marxism did state that through socialism we enter the world of freedom and we abandon the world of necessity. Today, the exhausting of energy resources in the soil and the growth of mankind require unavoidably the conquest of new energy sources. In the short range - a couple of centuries - the energy provided by the planet will unavoidably be exhausted, even with the most rational use of it. But mankind has an infinite source of energy at its disposal in the cosmos: the solar energy. That's a real challenge for mankind, that can only be faced if the perspective of war is left behind and if we enter the stage of building socialism. Socialism will go beyond the absolute freedom stated by classical Marxism and will obtain a new combination of necessity and freedom, in order to obtain a relative freedom. The necessity imposed by some men - the exploiting classes - upon other men - the exploited classes - will disappear and the coercive and human necessity of the conquest of the cosmos will be assumed.
Only Trotskyism, conducting the proletariat, will make it possible for mankind to enter into the stage of the conquest of the cosmos, that means, the creation of artificial satellites with a quality of life as good as on earth, that will collect solar energy and send it to earth by microwaves in order to have an energy nearly free of charge and in infinite quantity. Capitalism did have a progressive role because it meant the conquest of the whole planet, fundamentally America, Africa and Asia, for a new kind of production. It was a great challenge to which capitalism has given the response in its progressive stage. Socialist mankind has a still greater challenge, the greatest one ever hold by mankind: at the very moment when the continuation of the imperialist regime or of the bureaucratic regimes puts us in front of the holocaust of the human race, Trotskyism points out the possibility for the greatest jump made by mankind, the conquest of the universe by socialism.
We, Trotskyists, congregated in the Round-Table Committee are proud of having fought the Pabloist revisionism in the crisis of disintegration of the Fourth International initiated by it, and of keeping ourselves in the area of the Fourth International and its program. Our forces are the currents that congregate two thirds of the militants claiming Trotskyism and the Fourth International all over the world. We are perfectly conscious of the fact that Trotskyism is incompatible with the revisionism that dwelled through its ranks in the last three decades of our movement. We are conscious of the fact that revisionism has played a permanent role as servant of imperialism and fundamentally of the counterrevolutionary apparatuses that rule over the mass movement, deviate it and smash it. Revisionism has played its disintegrating role and goes on trying by all means to impede the International and its parties from transforming themselves in authentic Trotskyist parties with mass influence. Nothing shows more clearly the role of revisionism than its former betrayal in Bolivia and its actual capitulation to the Popular Front in Peru.
Not only are we conscious of the role of revisionism, but also - as shown in this Theses - do we apply consequently the live, rich, Marxist method of the “Transition Program”, without abandoning any of the principles that characterise our International and that have been confirmed by reality, in order to observe the new phenomena and to enrich our program itself and our analysis. Doing so, we don't treason any of our principles and we don't capitulate to the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, neither do we assign them any historic mission. On the contrary, we go on denouncing them systematically and permanently as agents of the counterrevolution inside the ranks of the workers' and revolutionary movement.
On the other hand, we believe more than ever in democratic centralism. We believe in an authentic democratic centralism, based on a revolutionary program, the program of Trotskyism, the “Transition Program”. We don't believe in a democratic centralism in order to revise Trotskyism, nor in some variant of federative kind in order to set up an unprincipled front against Trotskyism. That's why the conference of the Round-Table Committee starts again with a real democratic centralism in the Fourth International, a democratic centralism lost since the crisis provoked by the Pabloist revisionism in 1951. We not only claim the “Transition Program” but also the Bolshevik organisation of our International on a world scale, as it was the case when Trotsky was still alive and during the first ten years after his murdering.
The fact that we are rebuilding our International on those programmatic and organisational bases doesn't mean that we abandon all groups, tendencies and militants that claim to be Trotskyist and that don't join us due to the confusion provoked by revisionism. We are conscious of having made mistakes. But those mistakes have no other explanation than the crisis of disintegration of our International due to revisionism. As Marxists, we start from the world revolution, from the world uniqueness of the class struggle, and hence from the International. The disintegration has marked all of us, those who set up the Round-Table Committee as well as those who don't belong to it, independently from the fact that we kept ourselves in the area of the Fourth International and its program. That's why we don't abandon any militant or organisation claiming Trotskyism. On the contrary, to rebuild the Fourth International means also that we should stop having a defensive attitude regarding the principles and the “Transition Program” and that we should take an offensive attitude to defeat definitively revisionism, with a bold policy of proposing common activities, joint committees, with any honest Trotskyist group that considers the unity of Trotskyism indispensable, even if it disagrees with some of our points or with our interpretation of the Trotskyist principles. That's why we issue a brotherly call to any Trotskyist comrade or organisation that accepts to discuss with us and to make joint actions on the base of Trotskyism. In this new offensive attitude against revisionism, we should exploit even the least possibilities to get common Trotskyist actions, as we did in Peru. Those initiatives towards common actions should allow us to proof categorically that there is only one Trotskyist organisation in the world and in each country: our reconstructed Fourth International, the true Trotskyist International. That will be the best way to define the line of demarcation and to arrive at the point that any mass movement and all authentic Trotskyists know that anything outside the reconstructed Fourth International is revisionism, is anti-Trotskyism.