Over the last 10 yeas, J. Posadas has made an unlikely emergence as the most recognizable name  of post-war International Trotskyism. This newfound popularity is not due to his unique contributions to the movement on the topics of Peronism, colonial revolution, or the partial regeneration of the USSR, but for his fervent optimism that nuclear war would lead to socialism, and the belief that contact with extraterrestrials could liberate humanity.
At first such eccentricities were easily overlooked by the working-class and intellectual core of his movement, which included Guillermo Almeyra, Anaté Almeyra, and Adolfo Gilly, three of the Argentinian authors of this document. For them Posadas was a charismatic organizer who, as leader of the Latin American Bureau of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, diligently coordinated influential Trotskyist groups in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, and Cuba. In the early ‘60s, the hypocrisy of entrenched European leadership of the IS maintaining a position that revolution would proceed from colonial states lead to the BLA to split. Adding sections in Italy, Spain, France, England, Germany, Greece, and Belgium, they considered themselves the legitimate Fourth International, completely under the direction of Posadas, who began to consider himself the next Trotsky. When he asserted this new “monolithic” quality of the renamed Fourth International Posadist several key cadres backed away. Many who remained, including an intellectual core from South America, were expelled by the increasingly paranoid Posadas by 1975.
In this document, these former Posadists offer a balance of their time in the movement, a political diagnosis using the history of Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist thought as its instruments. Despite the technical approach, the drama of Posadas’s megalomania and the cult-like ascetic lifestyle he demanded of his militants appear as elements, along with a reckoning of their complicity in its development. The documents is also concerned with the general failure of Trotskyism to achieve it goals, exemplified by the BLA split that they call “the most tragic step to ever be taken by a tendency of proletarian origin,” which they caution should not be reduced to “a question of simple individual madness.” -A.M. Gittlitz
Boletin Marxista 8
A critical assessment of the former Latin American Bureau tendency within the Fourth International [Translated by Nicolas Allen, annotated by A.M. Gittlitz]
A critical evaluation of the former Latin American Bureau tendency within the Fourth International
Preliminary note: the present document was drafted based on two documents discussed in April, “Initial Conclusions about Posadism” [tr: Primeras conclusiones sobre el posadismo] and “Notes for the Document of the Fourth International and Posadism” [tr: Apuntes para el documento de la IV Internacional y el posadismo], and it takes into account the debate (both oral and written) that took place on that occasion. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to draw some minimal conclusions allowing for the closure of a particular stage. It remains open to any comrades who should wish to join in the discussion. Since we are not an organization, the individual signatories assume responsibility for the document. In order to facilitate the discussion, any additions or amendments, or the eventual signature of any current or future participant that might express reservations about a particular point, that point is indicated with a dot.
We, the undersigned militants of the Fourth International who belonged  to the Latin American Bureau  tendency, are issuing this critical assessment of the activity of our tendency since its first public appearance with the publication of the first issue of “Voz Proletaria”, a periodical from the Grupo IV Internacional (GCI)  , in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in June 1947; that is, thirty years from the present date. We do not set out to write a history of the tendency, only to offer an assessment of its theoretical, political and organizational trajectory.
In doing so, we adhere unconditionally, as we have since the first day of our Trotskyist militancy, to the principles and method outlined in the Transitional Program of 1938 , as well as Leon Trotsky’s message to the Congress of the SWP in 1938, and the Manifesto emerging from the Emergency Conference of 1940. 
1. Marxist theory, as well as the last forty years of world revolution, have confirmed Leon Trotsky’s Thesis of the Transitional Program and his vision of the permanent revolution. The empirical, partial understanding of his theses has made greater progress over the last four decades and, particularly so after the Second World War— among the vanguards of the different sectors of world revolution; more so than in the numerical and organizational growth of the diverse tendencies that identify with the Transitional Program of the Fourth International and that adopt the Trotskyist theses as their own.
2. The underlying reason for this contradiction is the uneven and combined development of the revolution on the international and national scale, suggesting a long period of inevitable imbalance, varying according to countries and sectors of the revolution, between the formulation of a revolutionary theory and a revolutionary practice, an imbalance that affects one pole as much the other. And while this contradiction goes some way to explaining the Trotskyist organizations’ insufficiencies, limitations or errors, which in turn exacerbate the contradiction, it does not excuse the need to pursue the elaboration, defense and organized struggle on behalf of the program of permanent revolution within the workers’ movement and among the masses in all their forms. “The interests of the class cannot be formulated otherwise than in the shape of a program; the program cannot be defended otherwise than by creating the party.” -(Trotsky) In this consists the relation between the formulation of the Transitional Program and the foundation of the Fourth International. Of course, that relationship has not been altered. The struggle for a program demands that it be scientifically confronted with the reality of the class struggle. This is impossible without a party capable of participating according to the program in an organized manner within the class struggle. The errors of sectarianism, opportunism, doctrinairism, and any other similar activity, these cannot undo the method’s validity, just as the eventual errors committed by those conducting research in the scientific field do not undo the validity of the scientific method. There are those who would wish to deduce the necessity for a purely empirical development of the ideas of the permanent revolution in the class struggle on account of the errors and limitations of Trotskyist organizers; these individuals are subject to the same confusion as are those who,taking as empirical the errors committed by doctors, as well as the fact that the large majority of humanity is cured of their diseases, mixing notions of traditional medicine with superstitions and fragments of scientific ideas, go on to deduce the need to suppress the study of medicine and the organization of the discipline and further investigation according to the scientific method. In Marxism, just as in any scientific discipline, Bacon’s tenet still holds true: “Truth emerges more readily from error than confusion”. Pragmatism, which conflates immediate results with their premises, and makes of immediate success the only possible standard of truth, has little in common with the dialectical method. As far as we are concerned, the practical power of theory as well as the theoretical power of practice has strengthened our conviction that the method, the program, and the organization of Leon Trotsky and his comrades were correct in their conclusions some forty years ago.
3. The Fourth International was founded not only for political reasons, but also for social ones. Its foundation became necessary with the appearance and consolidation of the Soviet bureaucracy as a new, differentiated social stratum within the transition to socialism, which required a new revolution, a political revolution. This is not acknowledged by the Communist Parties of the Third International. Following the bureaucracy’s triumph over the different opposition forces within the Soviet Union, and its subsequent dominance over the Third International, the parties were turned into workers’ parties comprised of a bloc formed between the bureaucracy and the working class in opposition to capitalism. But within that bloc—that is, within those parties—hegemony, understood as a program, a politics, a method and form of organization, belonged without question to the bureaucracy.
Trotsky made the decision to break with the parties of the Third International in 1933-34 and, as a consequence, to pursue the organization of new revolutionary Marxist parties and a new International. He made that decision after ten years of theoretical debate and practical experience within the Left Opposition, and, with the historic defeat in 1933 at the hands of Nazism, he finally concluded that the bureaucracy had become stabilized as a social stratum arising from within the anti-capitalist transition and was not a mere deformation or deviation of the communist leadership as a result of the pressure exerted by non-proletarian social interests. Therein lies the irreversible nature of that rupture.
The International, organized Marxism, and Trotskyism, emerged out of the necessity to combine an anti-bureaucratic political revolution and an anti-capitalist social revolution, together forming a single global process of socialist revolution. The party of the permanent revolution is just this: the party of the political revolution and the socialist revolution, the party of “the two revolutions”.
4. In the final analysis, the prolonged isolation of Trotskyism in relation to large mass movements is not owed to its defamation and persecution at the hands of its enemies, nor the errors or mistakes of its parties (although both factors play their part), but rather from its forcible separation from the workers’ state from which it was born and in which it has deep roots. The bureaucratic degeneration of the Stalinist leadership led the Soviet State into breaking with the Marxist program (not with the social and economic structure of the workers’ state). The communists were faced with a choice: either to break with the program and adhere to the state and the party (that is, to those elements that presented themselves as instruments and organizational forms of the program); or, break with them and adhere to the program (divested of organizational forms, but powerful and with deep roots among the masses). History has shown that in times of defeat (where the aforementioned alternative represented the essence of all defeats), adhering to the program is the only option capable of constituting a small minority, from the “enragés” and the “Conspiracy of Equals” of the French Revolution, to post-1848 Marx and Engels, and including Lenin and the Zimmerwaldians after 1914. The Trotskyist communists opted to defend the program, even if it meant isolation and splintering. This forced their separation from the communist masses, which remained attached by necessity and by reason to the socio-historical victory of the Soviet state in its existing form.
On the other hand, the Trotskyist communists unconditionally defended the Soviet state against Stalinist degeneration, against imperialism and against the social democratic leadership of the workers’ movement and the masses; against all reformists, centrists or nationalists tendencies that denied and abandoned the validity of this historical victory, conflating it (in good or bad faith) with its Stalinist degeneration. One consequence of this was that Trotskyists communists were again isolated from the mass currents, opposed not only to Stalinist methods but also to the Soviet Union and communism.
As Trotskyists, we represented the communist tendency that for theoretical and programmatic reasons, rather than sectarian ones, consciously chose to remain in the minority for an indefinite period of time; simultaneously, the method of the Transitional Program was slowly being applied—without reneging on the principles— towards breaking with process of isolation. In what might be called “the long march of Trotskyism”, a detachment of the communist movement separated itself in order to preserve the interests of the proletariat, of theory, of the program and the organization from the catastrophe and from the effects of Stalinism in the Soviet Union and in the global communist movement. In response to those who have superficially accused the Trotskyists of isolating themselves and of forming a small sect, we must reiterate that there is nothing more sectarian than the unconditional defence of the Soviet Union; that is, the same state structure that imposed itself for decades through the repression of Trotskyism. The Maoists—and not just the Maoists—would do well to learn from this.
This isolation has taken its toll and has been paid not only with the lives of our comrades, but also with political and organizational crises of which no worker tendency has been exempt, and with our own errors and limitations. However, that the Trotskyist communist current has managed to persevere within the global workers’ movement over the last fifty years is itself a merit that speaks to the strength of the program and its principles, as well as the militants who, despite deep divergences and internal lacerations, have remained faithful to said program and principles. Without the organizational tenacity of that small minority, the wind of revolutions and counterrevolutions would have long ago dispersed the ideas and program, leaving the new generations of revolutionaries to rebuild them from scratch.
To break out of that isolation and move towards the future development of a mass revolutionary Marxist workers’ current—this is a question that does not depend solely on the correction of ideas, but the objective factors that determine the level of consciousness of the masses (the communist masses, above all else) on the one hand; on the other, it depends on the subjective factors that make organized Trotskyism into a party capable of uniting these ideas together with the maturation and growth of consciousness, and the maturation of the masses; that is, to unite the subjective factor with objective maturation. We believe that we are at the beginning of this historic conjuncture, and if we can perform an assessment of our own past, it will also serve to free our head and hands in order to intervene with full force in the present and future.
5. There is no question that the prolonged organizational isolation of Trotskyism is related to the level of consciousness of the masses. Several comrades attempt to explain that isolation by appealing to the weakening of worker consciousness under Stalinism. We believe that this explanation does not account for worker consciousness as a global, worldwide factor, but rather as a European and strictly working-class element. We wish to state the following: the tremendous insurrection of colonial and semi-colonial peoples, unleashed by the victory at Stalingrad, and the meaning of that victory and of that of the Soviet Union against Nazism, as well as the establishment of 13 new workers states (no doubt, bureaucratically deformed) are all part of the dialectical elevation of worker consciousness taken globally and not just at its most advanced points, although here there is no Bolshevik Party of 1917 nor any Spartacus League of Rosa Luxemburg. This type of analysis does not ignore the ravages of Stalinism, but it does go beyond the superficial manifestations and political formations in order to explore the social, global depth that determined the total level of worker consciousness.
At the same time, we all know that 23 million deaths and the destruction of the Soviet Union during the Second World War have influenced the prolongation of Stalinism as well as the ravages of the civil war within the Bolshevik Party and in the initial post-war economy. For that reason, given the path that the world socialist revolution has taken (from the backwards to the most industrialized countries), the working class has only belatedly begun fully consider the problem of political revolution, “the second revolution”. This problem must be considered from the vantage point of the workers’ state. But these reflections take place under conditions in which the working class has suffered political expropriation, both of its state and party, by a privileged cast that essentially (although not entirely) emerged from within its own ranks, an expropriation that began even before Stalinism. Under these conditions, and with the first generation of the vanguard exterminated, the first form of a consciousness separate from the bureaucracy, the Left Opposition, finds it difficult to reorganize its consciousness and overcome its atomization when faced with the bureaucracy (not so with capitalism, against which it defends the workers’ state). The transformation of anti-bureaucratic consciousness into a program-the communist program of the political revolution—and even more so, into organization, is for the time being a prolonged process with its ups and downs, and one that can only be accelerated provided it is combined with the spread of the socialist revolution in the world, and in particular in the most mature detachments of the proletarian world, in the European working class.
Bureaucracy is not a product of Russian backwardness. It is one of the factors that provide Russia with its specific form. It is an element of the transition: so long as there is a state, there is a bureaucracy (“The Revolution Betrayed”). It is another matter entirely, if the state is hegemonic and takes control of the Communist Party, which, as the theoretical and political instrument of the working class, must remain independent of the worker state. But this conflict can only be resolved within the dialectic of world revolution, and not within the framework of each country, no matter if that country is the most advanced culturally and industrially.
Bureaucracy is indeed a product of the division between manual and intellectual labour, a division that is influential even at the national level (and here, in the final analysis, is at the root of the existence of “rich” and “poor” countries, or, to be more precise, of highly industrialized countries and those countries with little or no industrial development). But to the extent that the socialist revolution develops in the advanced and industrialized countries, where the strongest and most experienced detachments of the global proletariat are concentrated, the question of the political revolution becomes more relevant, and not only in the already existing workers’ states, but also in the path, form and the organizations of the revolution.
The Fourth International—Trotskyism—has for a long time assumed the defense, in theoretical and political terms, through propaganda and preparation (and inevitably on a smaller scale, organizationally) of advancing a cause that the working class as such did not assume in an identical manner. In Europe there are the beginnings of such a development: in Poland, Hungary, the GDR, the Soviet Union, and also Italy, Spain and France, where there exist communist parties rooted in the masses, there are signs–despite the reformist policy of their leadership of a significant level of proletarian communist consciousness, and not just social-democratic consciousness. There lies our future, our purpose, and our re-emergence as an indestructible part of the workers’ states and of communism. This perspective is only understandable so long as the workers’ states are conceived as socio-economic formations undergoing transformation, and that emerge in the prolonged historical phase of the global, world-wide transition to socialism, whose destiny and features in each moment cannot be taken in isolation, but as integral components of that transition; the communist parties under the direction and hegemony of the bureaucracy taken as the political formations of this transition, with their social bases in those formations, and—unlike the socialist parties—not in the capitalist system. Therein too lies the difference between the nature of the communist parties and the socialist parties, as well as between the communist bureaucracy and the socialist bureaucracy.
Just as the Fourth International had already predicted twenty years ago in their 1957 analysis titled “The rise, decline and fall of Stalinism” , isolation today has been overcome. The Hungarian and Polish revolutions, the Chinese-Soviet Split, even in its own way the Cuban revolution, have all confirmed a break with isolation during the period between 1956 and 1961.
It is from this split that the parties, leadership and cadres of the permanent revolution must be built. This task is today expressed, in essence, through the contemporaneity of the Transitional Program, the contemporaneity of Trotskyism.
6 In broad terms, the rise of the Latin American Bureau tendency (tr: BLA) coincided with the advancement of revolution in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. It also coincided with the relative stagnation of the European revolution, following the defeat of the Greek revolution and the consolidation of bureaucratic domination of the Eastern European workers’ states (the break with Tito and the isolation of Yugoslavia), with the “popular democratic” processes between 1949-1952, the Chinese Revolution, and the containment and retreat of the revolutionary wave in post-war Italy and France, as well as the prolongation of the Francoist regime in Spain. The initially radical post-war North American proletariat was contained in a similar fashion, and the setbacks caused by the conciliatory and reformist policies of the Stalinist Communist Parties in Europe can be seen as laying the foundation for McCarthyism in the United States.
The uneven development of the world revolution was also reflected in the Fourth International and was one of the determinant factors in its crisis and subsequent divisions.
7 After the reorganization of the Fourth International in the post-war period, and following the Second World Congress and the departure of the anti-defensists based on their break with the essential premises of the Transitional Program (the defense of the Soviet Union), three basic tendencies were delineated within the International:
a) the tendency of European sections (with two sub-tendencies: the essentially “Eurocentric” one of Germain-Maitan-Frank; the other, the basically “third-worldist” of Pablo);
b) the Socialist Workers Party of the United States, the “orthodox” Trotskyists gathered around the tendencies of Lambert (France) and Healy (England);
c) the Latin American Bureau, led by Posadas.
To these tendencies we should add the scattered national tendencies, such as the Ceylonese, that of Lora or Moreno .
8 Since it is not the objective of this document to outline of the contributions of the European Trotskyists, we can only offer for our Latin American comrades a cursory overview of this tendency as it was expressed in 1951, in three points:
a) the defense and adherence to the general principles of Marxism and Trotskyism, as well as the capacity for theoretical generalization as the international leadership, without excluding limitations and errors;
b) the transmission of the European Trotskyist tradition;
c) the development of a vision of the world balance of power, especially after the Korean War and with the shift after the Third World Congress;
d) a vision of the process of Stalinism’s decline and downfall, as well as the changes in the workers’ states, particularly based on the “Rise and decline of Stalinism” from the Fourth World Congress;
e) the development of a global analysis regarding the course of the world economy in Marxist terms.
9 Likewise, we can outline the SWP’s basic contributions in the same period, as they were presented to our tendency, in the following terms:
a) the defense of the general principles of Trotskyism in the midst of a situation of heightened isolation suffered by revolutionaries and the rise of reactionary currents in each country;
b) adherence to the propaganda of ideas through, among other tasks, a publishing activity that would lay the foundation for future action;
c) the defense of independent Trotskyist parties and their cadres.
The failure to grasp the diverse forms and the breadth of the crisis of Stalinism, as well as the changes in the workers’ states and the Communist Parties, combined with a concern to maintain Trotskyist party in the face of a sui-generis concept of entryism that led to the dissolution of the party or impeded the construction of cadres, these were all decisive elements provoking the rupture of 1953.
10 It is incumbent upon us to analyse in greater detail the features and purpose of our own tendency, the Trotskyism of the GCI [tr: Grupo Cuarta Internacional] and the BLA.
The BLA tendency accepted the main theoretical contributions of the European Trotskyist leadership and adopted them as their basic principles. During the Third World Congress, the GCI was recognized as the official section in Argentina, based on its political positions with respect to the Argentine situation. This decision was unanimous. Until 1960 Posadas was considered part of the Pabloist tendency and did not formulate, in terms of fully articulated principles, any point of divergence; he was, to the contrary, one of the main supporters of Paboism among the international leaders.
≈The specific features of the BLA tendency consisted of:
a) a vision of the masses: the main concern was the level of consciousness and the level of organization of the proletariat and the masses, and how Trotskyist organization can take hold and take root there; hence their sympathies towards Peronism and with the relation between the masses and the bourgeois nationalist leadership, which is based on the writings of Trotsky on Mexico, and not specifically on any new theoretical insight; and, hence their sympathy towards the trade unions, the fact that the Trotskyism of the BLA privileges (as it should) the trade unions and the factories as the site for instruction and growth of worker consciousness, and not for theoretical instruction, which is a separate question;
b) the construction of a proletarian party in the factories that would not be a propaganda group but rather an organizer of the worker vanguard. This vision is based on the strength required in order to apply Lenin’s “What is to Be Done” and all his related works, and in particular Trotsky’s “In Defense of Marxism” for the cadre base (as well as some of Cannon’s writing from the same period). The principles of the Trotskyist party are no doubt formulated in “In Defense of Marxism”. Still, they would have to be applied to the life of the party. The GCI did this. Others have not.
c) The centralization of the International and the education of the cadres in the class-based vision and life;
d) a vision that would consider the function of the colonial revolution and the proletariat of the backwards countries among those involved in the global revolution, committed to complementing the fundamental role played by the worker states in the global balance of powers in the class struggle.
With these characteristics, the version of Trotsykism advanced by the BLA was born along with the Latin American wave of mass movements in the colonial revolution; at the same time, many of its shortcomings and limitations were less visible and weighed less heavily. But it was carried along because, with all its limitations, it grasped and placed itself atop this wave that cast aside, crushed and destroyed all others.
11 Point 10-a implied a unique task: to defend the general principles and connect the concrete activity of the vanguard with the level of consciousness of the masses that follow a different leadership.
This requires, firstly, grasping the level of consciousness of the masses.
In this sense, the decisive and exemplary debate was that between the GCI and the other tendencies that regarded Peronism as “fascist”, the trade unions as “corporativist” and the Peronist workers as “backwards and submissive”.
This is the essential background for organizing among the concrete mass sectors that do not belong to our organization.
The GCI understands the need to separate the proletarian pole from the bourgeois pole within the organization of a nationalist revolutionary front. And this task requires first an independent revolutionary Marxist party that is merged with the working class in its places of work and life, in its forms of mass organization and in its present level of organization.
It is for this reason that the Argentine trade unions are accorded a privileged role. And hence the origin of the slogan, of the transition of the workers’ party based on the trade unions (unlike its ritualization and subsequent mechanical repetition).
Therein lie the essentials of its strength.
The BLA tendency was not alone in seeking to comprehend the level of consciousness and revolutionary content of the Peronists. The issue was also studied, among other places, in the journal “Octubre” . But unlike Posadas, none of these tendencies could understand the role played by the Trotskyist party in that regard, nor did they attempt to do so, preferring instead to adapt themselves to that level of consciousness and bandwagoning with bourgeois leadership.
The understanding of the role played by the trade unions comes directly from the writings of Trotsky on Mexico: “From what has been said it follows quite clearly that, in spite of the progressive degeneration of trade unions and their growing together with the imperialist state, the work within the trade unions not only does not lose any of its importance but remains as before and becomes in a certain sense even more important work than ever for every revolutionary party. The matter at issue is essentially the struggle for influence over the working class. Every organization, every party, every faction which permits itself an ultimatistic position in relation to the trade union, i.e., in essence turns its back upon the working class, merely because of displeasure with its organizations, every such organization is destined to perish. And it must be said it deserves to perish.”
While other tendencies, such as that of Moreno, have gone from repudiating the Peronist trade unions to proposing that the party be dissolved within Peronism, and with it, that the hammer and sickle be substituted for the portrait of Peron, the theoretical struggle of the GCI, no matter their limits, has educated and instructed the thinking of a whole vanguard of Peronists and non-Peronists, of workers and intellectuals who particularly since the fall of Peron in 1955 have come into their own with a general Trotskyist interpretation of Peronism.
12 Point 10-b meant building a class-based party; educating proletarian cadres; assimilating the petit-bourgeois militants to a proletarian mode of life and thought; building a stringent and militant form of discipline.
It also involved a particular undertaking: to draw Trotskyism out from the revolutionary intellectual minority and its accompanying forms of thought, and make it live within the proletariat, as a concrete organizer of the proletariat.
Finally, it meant not submitting itself to the methods of trade unionism, not adopting its prejudices and politically retrograde qualities, of not forcing the party policy to adapt in the factory or in the trade union to those interests of trade union leadership that may in fact be close to the party, and not allow for trade union “fiefdoms”, nor for trade union “bosses” in the heart of the party, nor allow any concessions in order to maintain party membership. It meant never allowing for the physiognomy, the language and organizational forms of Trotskyism to be dissolved into populism, to insist through the education of militants and party-affiliated trade union leaders on the strict polemics necessary to avert all trade-unionist or nationalist deviations. Thus, a team of Trotskyist workers and trade unionists was developed, educated in the functioning of the party organisms within the class.
This represented one concrete possibility in terms of a lifestyle, a militancy, a language, as the focus of articles and publications, of a general outlook. It was possibly this sector of the Fourth International that more than any other, and with greater coherence, observed the vision of the party as outlined by Trotsky in “In Defense of Marxism”.
At the same time, deformations were already latent in its very origins; cultural backwardness was at its root, and when combined with a will to carry the organization forward in the absence of a corresponding and necessary development of theoretical capacity, this trend resulted in a collection of administrative methods and a lack of moral scruples exercised in the name of “party reason”. Nevertheless, these deformations were contained or latent owing to the compensation and relative balance offered by a theoretical environment that was relatively more advanced than in the International as a whole.
13 Point 10-c provided the key for the other two points. The world vision of the revolution did not come from the BLA or from Posadas (there were numerous examples of analytical errors, from the Korean War to the Cuban worker state), but rather from the International.
The BLA group took shape through the study of the documents of the Fourth International, by publishing the “Cuarta Internacional” , and by releasing and discussing the internal bulletin of international debate. Its intellectual growth was dependent on the International and it effectively assimilated the International’s vision, taking shape through its controversies and debates, in particular those decisive debates regarding the worker state and Stalinism.
But the decision to educate the party in the life of the International, in the strictness of its ideas, in disciplined due paying, was not a simple mandate of the International: it was a concrete choice made by the tendency of the BLA, in particular Argentina’s GCI and the LOR of Uruguay. Others, not only in Latin America but also in other parts of the world, did not do the same. This difference was what gave origin to the Grupo Cuarta Internacional, which chose precisely this name and no other in the midst of Peronism’s ascent, and with all the subsequent nationalist prejudices among the working class, when other tendencies that called themselves Trotskyists began to disguise the Fourth International label and omit the hammer and sickle, and the four numeral, in their publications because “the workers do not understand it”. What an odd vision for a vanguardist party that seeks to educate their class!
This was precisely what allowed for a vision of world revolutionary developments, including the role of the colonial revolution within that revolution, to be incorporated into the GCI and BLA by virtue of its connection to the International.
The struggle with the European Trotskyists was expressed most intensely in the vision of the party; that is, in the difference of conception and intellectual practice, as well as in the nature of the masses separated from Trotskyism, which was reflected in the party structure. European Trotskyism needed to understand the communist and socialist workers, in the same way that the Latin American Trotskyists did the nationalist masses, and live among them. This did not take place.
But even with these differences, the centralization of the International lent the BLA an element of balance and control, and a world theoretical vision that, even when schematic, was impossible for the BLA to maintain on its own. 1950 saw the beginning of the regular publication in translation in Argentina of the journal “Cuarta Internacional”—under difficult, clandestine conditions—first as a mimeograph and later with a clandestine press, with copies sent out all over Latin America; this was a decisive initiative towards the theoretical education of dozens of Trotskyist cadres in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and other Latin American countries. Beginning in 1954, this task was carried on by the “Revista Marxista Latinoamericana”, which up until 1960 reproduced the main articles and editorials of the “Quatrième Internationale”.
This task was grounded although not always evident to the very same comrades who made up the BLA—in life of the International and, among other things, in the regular maintenance of that life through the publication of the “Quatriéme Internationale” and in continued theoretical and political production, despite all limitations and possible criticism that could be directed against that activity. This life implied the contribution on the part of real Trotskyist groups (even if they were limited at that stage) and the real leaders and cadres of European Trotskyism, following the lead of the Europeans, as the historical product of that group that no amount of willpower can undo.
The split in 1962 meant that the BLA lost all this, without any possibility of replacing it.
14 There is a dialectical relation and balance between the vision of the masses, the organizing of the party in the factories and the centralization of the International, educating the cadres in this class-based vision and life.
The BLA’s weak point was in its capacity for theoretical knowledge, in the generalization of ideas, and rational application of the dialectical method.
But while the BLA received all this by way of the International, it managed to translate it into a proletarian party united with the concrete struggle of the masses, particularly in Argentina.
The 1960-1962 crisis of the Fourth International—corresponding to the crisis of the world revolution, and the Stalinist domination the worker states, from Hungary to Poland of 1960, up to the victorious socialist revolution in Cuba—forced that interrelation into a sharp contradiction.
The intellectual forms of the European leadership, their failure to envision the concrete movement of the masses, extremely resentful of the Latin American cadres that have grown from within the movement, favoured a break in relations with the BLA. Under these conditions, Posadas overestimated the theoretical and political capacity of BLA—even more so, his own capacity—and attempted to substitute the historical, theoretical and political advances of the International expressed in the contradictions of its leadership—with that of the BLA.
As the ebb of the European workers’ movement in the 1950s tended to reduce the number and influence of the European section, the rise of the Latin American section meant that the BLA comprised more than half the International, as well as the primary worker contingent of the International. However, the 1960s, particularly the 68-69 period in Latin America, were characterized by a “rectilinear” ascent, with sudden swerves, defeats and stagnation. Encouraged by previous successes and without grasping the shifting dynamics of both processes, Posadas precipitated an administrative rupture. For that reason, any decision that might possibly have been correct in any other circumstance was ultimately condemned in advance to be rendered sterile on account of its divorce from the global movement.
The rupture was a response to the mistaken—and brutal—organization of a real theoretical and political problem. But even with an erroneous response, the problem still existed and required a theoretical and political battle that Posadas and the BLA were not prepared to wage. And here is where, as a compensatory effect, the cultural backwardness, the lack of moral scruples, the predominance of “party reason” over the reason of ideas began to prevail.
The danger of the split between European and Latin American Trotskyism has been exacerbated by the “knife’s edge” policy of Pablo and his organizational Bonapartism, as well as by the practical split in the European leadership between the “third worldist” wing of Pablo—which drew support from the Latin Americans and placed its hopes on the success of the Trotsykism of the colonial revolution— and on the other had, the “Eurocentric” wing of Germain.
Throughout the crisis, there was another fundamental, decisive element contributing to the imbalance: that particular Fourth International had no North American section, nor any Soviet section. Trotsky was the last representative and living connection to that tendency. This means that there is an enormous lack of theoretical thought, concrete experience and party tradition. To this we should add the lack of Asian organizations (as well as Arab and African) and the chronic, centrifugal crisis of the Ceylonese. Thus, that instance of the International was reduced to little more than a European-Latin American front. On the other hand, the absence of sections in the workers’ states forced the Trotskyists into excessive cautionary measures and to appreciating the level of working class consciousness on a country-by-country basis.
15. The split took place in the dark, without any real political discussion or theoretical clarity. The reasons given by the BLA were: imminent and inevitable war, preventative war, “simultaneous” world revolution—the wording comes from the first resolution signed by Posadas; all these were, in addition to serving as a sign of the theoretical barbarism involved, purely instrumental and insufficient justification at that time for the gravity and administrative nature of the split. But an objective factor was also influential: the new imbalance within the ranks of International leadership on account of Pablo and Santen’s imprisonment, and the superficial, empirical activity taking place beyond the control of international leadership leading to the split. As a subjective factor: the endless manoeuvres and political games, through motions and votes—4 European votes against 3 Latin American in all meetings of the SI [tr. International Secretariat]—with which the majority controlled the International leadership, which contributed to the Latin American cadres developing a sense of paralysis among the leadership. This meant that almost all cadres accepted, on the one hand, the functioning of the BLA as a kind of parallel leadership and, in the short-term, the split along with its brutal administrative forms.
It could not have happened any other way: Posadas and the BLA tendency were not aware of the forces involved, the forces that sought by sheer will to draw the International out of its isolation from the European proletariat, going over the heads of historical cadres—no matter their reduced numbers—that European Trotskyism had managed to create.
In addition, there were psychological and moral factors particular to Posadas: his ambition for power, his conflation of the efficacy of ideas and the exercise of power, his positivist vision of Marxism, his sense of cultural inferiority, expressed in the intellectual arrogance and paternalism with which he handled the European leadership. But these were elements determining the form, and not the essence of the split. The other BLA cadres were too ineffective or immature at the time—despite some short-lived individual resistance—to be able to oppose the course of events or to propose a viable alternative. The fact of the matter was that the entire BLA membership was unanimous at that point in time.
As one central problem that no one at the time could grasp, there existed a gulf in understanding of the revolution and the masses, a gulf in the understanding of Marxism, that separated the Europeans and Latin Americans, leading to the former accumulating a series of errors and conservative intellectual inclinations, while the latter developed their own errors, or “Zinovievist” activist inclinations (as Germain labelled them at the time). Due to the limitation of the political life of the Fourth International, the Europeans not only minimized the importance of the colonial revolution, they also de-emphasized the importance of the workers’ states as an objective factor of the revolution, and consequently as an important component in the level of proletarian consciousness in Europe, regarding the elevated consciousness of the latter as a distant prospect. The Latin Americans saw the fall of capitalism as just around the corner, and with it, war, revolution and power.
The difference between both errors, however, is that the split of the BLA was fully operative in its erroneous and improvised theoretical foundation, and was condemned to failure no matter if it was based in the working class (which only existed in the Argentine section). On the other hand, the European section maintained the continuity of the general program of Trotskyism, no matter its political errors (which we cannot address here). We should acknowledge that this decision allowed the Europeans to continue to be a general point of reference, even for those Trotskyist militants who broke with the BLA or other tendencies, and to present themselves through the propaganda of the program as the representative of the organic continuity of the Fourth International.
On the other hand, one of the reasons for the divided understanding is objective: the uneven and combined development of the world revolution, and its reflection in different sectors of the International.
The minority status of the International, and their isolation from the masses for historical reasons, and not just political error—prevented the leadership from grasping that an International is comprised of real parties (and not just intellectual tendencies that defended oppositional documents or theses), and that those parties cannot fail to express the different level of the class struggle, of the theoretical tradition and their relation with the masses of their country. And that to win the leadership, or for a tendency to triumph, there is no other means than the obstinate theoretical and political struggle based on the national base, that is, that expresses the world program in national terms, which are nothing more than those terms in which the mass cadres are reached and founded.
This is the lesson of Bolshevism and the struggle of the Bolsheviks, and the lesson of their break with the Mensheviks on the national stage. Lenin began by creating a party, not an International.
The BLA did not resolve, nor could it, the problems of Europe through any organizational initiative, to say nothing of its incapacity to resolve that problem theoretically or politically. The pretension to do so by eliminating all the national cadres all at once under the label of “capitulator” was itself already an expression of this inability. In truth, the elements for organizational hypertrophy and for the break with the centralizing policies had already presented themselves, and the BLA attempted to substitute this by insisting on its own centrality.
Nevertheless, the split deprived the BLA of all its theoretical centre of gravity.
This was the most tragic step to ever be taken by a tendency of proletarian origin, that it rebelled against the intellectual leadership without having anything to replace it (and thus laying the foundation for its subsequent break with the proletariat, as we shall soon analyse).
An important observation: the terms “proletarian” and “intellectual” are not used in this case with any negative or positive connotations; instead, we use them as names for the necessary functions of a balanced and homogenous leadership: Lenin combined both.
Understanding this rupture within the ranks of world Trotskyism is not a mere academic exercise, nor a simple act of historical recitation. It is a grave mistake to tread lightly on the topic and dispense with the entire matter with a few qualifying phrases: those who participated in one tendency or another, and who today refuse to look at themselves and see their own errors, preferring to seal themselves within the experience of the International, they deny themselves the opportunity to consider a rich source of historical events of a much wider scope, such as the Chinese-Soviet Split, and the subsequent vicissitudes of other similar events.
Beyond the errors of the BLA, which it is the purpose of this document to analyse, it must be said that their cadres did not perceive in the European leadership any kind of understanding of the problems of the Latin American revolution, nor of the problems involved in building Trotskyist parties in the region, nor the crisis of the International. The Fourth World Congress was proof of this situation, as much for the Europeans as for the Latin Americans. Those cadres did not witness any type of superior example in terms of flexibility or organizational capacity, only a series of manoeuvres in order to buy time. True, with that tactic an adversary can be worn down and defeated, but a battle cannot be won. The split in 1962 was, in that sense, a collective defeat of both tendencies, a defeat for Trotskyist organization. Only a self-satisfying and superficial attitude—one that will pay dearly at a later point in the class struggle—allows for its effects to be wiped away with the wave of a pen, or worse still, to celebrate that act.
16 With the split, a process of accelerated regression began to take hold within the BLA. The most patent, brutal and pathetic expression of this could be found in its theoretical organs: in the Revista Marxista Latinoamericana beginning in issues 11-12, and increasingly so from 13 on, as well as in the “Voz Proletaria”, the organ of the Argentine section.
The theoretical elaboration of what would later be called the Fourth International Posadist continued to vegetate, inheriting the remains of past conceptions (of the world balance of power, of workers’ states, etc.), but progressively losing all balance and proving itself incapable of producing a single political resolution worthy of that term, i.e., with a bare minimum of Marxist method and logic. This alone would be damning enough for any sort of undertaking. The most atrocious kinds of theoretical bastardizations, mixed together with bits of political analyses that still remained accurate, began to appear in publications, documents, schools and conferences.
The awareness of isolation provoked by the split led to adventurists and sectarian solutions, and engendered a subsequent bandwagoning with all types of apparatuses.
To the extent that the theoretical base was weakened, and with it, the theoretical bonds that made up the organization, the personal bonds began to grow exponentially: the figure of the boss, and with it the boss’ family. In his article on Sverdlov, Trotsky writes that whoever is incapable of organizing with ideas, organizes through personality. Posadism is an example of this.
The theoretical rift led, inevitably and unwaveringly, to a break with the masses, to the loss of the ability to understand them; that is, a break with the essentials of our origin and our existence as a tendency of Trotskyism.
All the flexibility that the party enjoyed due to its life among the masses was transformed into sectarianism (examples abound: errors with trade unions lists and associations, with the FUDE in Spain, the MR-13 in Guatemala , the progressive, total isolation in Peru and Chile, the “carbonari” , familial life in which the so-called “European sections” were enclosed, etc.).
The proletarian severity of the militant life was transformed into bureaucratic and sectarian rigidity, and finally, into mysticism. The proletarian morals of “Their Morals and Ours” became moralism, puritanism, and in some cases, into repugnant hypocrisy. The worst and most inadequate aspects of each prospered. The fraternity among revolutionaries of which Lenin spoke of in “What is to Be Done” became the solitude of each party; there, amidst the icy ferment of speeches regarding “communist sentiments”—which had started to substitute for ideas—no one dared to speak sincerely, not even with their partners, for fear of being “denounced” on account of their supposed “decentralization” and “lack of discipline”. It has been the tragic destiny of our party that we militants who built the BLA have experienced, endured and suffered against the wish to no break with the historical instrument of revolution, with the party built within the class and in the struggle in which we were instructed. Those who mock or prefer not to understand this experience, will never understand the cadres and communist militants who, against Stalinism, attempted to inspire the revolution and save, in their own way, their past and future achievements.. This development is also of our own doing as well, and none of the old cadres of the BLA can avoid the responsibility for the current state of affairs, much less those that had positions in the international leadership. Precisely because we assume that responsibility without reservations, we endorse this document.
17 Throughout this process unfolding within our tendency, there is a common experience with the sufferings of Stalinism. This began with the “Bolshevization” of the Third International with Zinoviev. And at the root of that process is not so much an organizational problem as it is a political mistake, a false understanding of the revolution.
The political mistake led the party to split with the life of the masses. The proletarian revolutionary learns from its class the firmness and flexibility of that same class, its irrepressible fraternity: the firmness and determination of the exploited and oppressed in the face of the enemy class. By damaging and ultimately destroying these relations, all that remains is the quality of firmness, all the more determined for having to support the positions in the base of the apparatus, without the living contributions of the collective contribution of the class. (It is important to here to reflect on Lenin’s “testament” regarding the personal conditions of Stalin and his vulgarities and brutalities in relation to the comrades).
Hence the opposition between the Bolshevik’s firmness and the Stalinist’s firmness, even if the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeois intellectuals conflate the two.
In our party we experience a similar process. The sequence, in general, was the following:
We split from the main theoretical source in the name of the defense of theoretical firmness. We split while exaggerating to an extreme one feature of the party vision and the International. And as is well known, all truth that exceeds its limits becomes a lie.
We broke with the historical European sections.
By doing so, without any political struggle, we caused a double effect:
1) interrupting in Europe all possible development of what were the proletarian features in our tendency, and which would have necessitated the struggle to introduce European Trotskyism into the working class and to develop in Europe a proletarian Trotskyist tendency, a vital struggle for the world historical destiny of Trotskyism. Instead, we created “Chinese” sections in Europe, small sects of little importance that are increasingly overrun by the worst sectarian tendencies, even if within their ranks there are good comrades.
Thus, on the one hand, the European sector that remained isolated from the BLA developed eclectic and centrist tendencies, while, on the other hand, the lack of a politically creative Trotskyist pole, rooted in the proletariat, gave way to all types of centrist tendencies, particularly after 1968, and failed to grasp the crisis of mass communist parties—having been either reabsorbed or dissolved—within a Marxist framework.
2) The other effect was to interrupt our theoretical and political maturation and exalt all those elements of backwardness in our formation and in our party, without exception (suffice to consider how we have all remained silent, tolerated or accepted the accusatory and proof-less method used against comrades that broke with the party; the slanderous accusations levelled against the “capitulators” to the old leadership of the International and their “expulsion” in the BLA Conference of April 1962; or the defamatory remarks of Posadas against Pablo as a “fund stealer” and other similar remarks; the longstanding defamation of Posadas against Fidel Castro as an “accomplice” in the supposed “murder” of Guevara in Cuba in 1965 , and other similar remarks); impeding the possibility for growth that the experience of the International had on the best of our cadres, as well as the experience of debate and politics for the purpose of building a proletarian tendency; denying all control of the International over Posadas and over our own ranks; developing a regional and backwards—extremely nationalist—vision of the International and of Trotsykism.
This entire process of regression came about between 1962 and 1967. It came to a close with the defeat in Guatemala of 1966, and the process was sanctioned by the so-called “Eighth World Congress” in 1967, where the name of “Posadism” was officially adopted and in which the monolithic structure was approved as the party vision. “Posadism” was by that time fully matured, codified, hardened and accepted by all those of the BLA leadership who later, after 1968, would suffer the organizational consequences of their actions through an uninterrupted wave of expulsions, without any discussion or possible appeal. Starting in 1967, Posadism—already battered by the defeat of the Latin American revolution in Brazil, Santo Domingo and Guatemala—failed to grasp the overall situation, and finding itself politically isolated through its own errors, was ripe for the events of 1968 where it would be overwhelmed and literally wiped off the map, especially its weaker European groups, which was precisely what took place.
Feeling the weight of the reality of the class struggle, Posadism responded by looking for “guilty parties” within its own ranks and by issuing new organizational measures. Thus, the party inevitably became a sect.
18 Our aim here is not to enumerate all of Posadas’ errors or his theoretical fabrications, which lacked any scientific or cultural foundation, or any balanced mastery of Marxist method. Generally, however, these fabrications begin from some intuition of some feature of reality that is then idealized and absolutized in the absence of Marxist knowledge, given the lack of any ability or method to generalize, which is, in turn, the foundation of all theory and science.
As concerns Posadism (and not just Posadism alone, but other tendencies that share its cultural primitivism and its abusive methods of “generalization”, as a result of national-provincial limitations and the autodidactic nature of theoretical instruction), Trotsky’s analysis in “’The Ultralefts in General and Incurable Ultralefts in Particular” , from September 1937, effectively captures the meaning of that phenomenon. We cite here at length:
“Marxist thought is concrete, that is, it looks upon all the decisive or important factors in any given question, not only from the point of view of their reciprocal relations, but also from that of their development. It never dissolves the momentary situation within the general perspective, but by means of the general perspective makes possible an analysis of the momentary situation in all its peculiarities. Politics has its point of departure in precisely this sort of concrete analysis. Opportunist thought and sectarian thought have this feature in common: they extract from the complexity of circumstances and forces one or two factors that appear to them to be the most important (and sometimes are, to be sure), isolate them from the complex reality, and attribute to them unlimited and unrestricted powers.”
Nevertheless, we should outline some of the basic points of Posadas’ theory, which are at the root of almost all his political errors, given these errors are not arbitrary but rather respond to a precise logic.
First, at the root of all else that follows was Posadas’ idealist understanding. This vision had to be codified in principle because, in addition to breaking with all the fundamental elements of Marxism and the scientific analysis of social facts, it constitutes the origin of all sectarianism, ultraleftism, voluntarism, and bandwagoning associated with that tendency: “Social consciousness determined existence”. We do not feel that it is necessary to engage in debate with this formula. We have done so in documents addressed to Posadist comrades. We limit ourselves here to outlining the theoretical cornerstone of what has come to be known as Posadism. From that position, Posadas has derived in recent years a corollary that completes the theory and provides it with its specific content: “Humanity is apt for communism”.
As anyone can grasp, from these general principles one must inevitably deduce that the party, as the organization of the vanguard, is utterly superfluous and useless.
Stemming from these principles, and the conclusions implied by them, are three basic ideas of Posadism that apply to the three sectors of the global revolution:
a) the revolutionary state in the backwards countries (as well as the advanced states), wherein the capitalist state is progressively transformed into a workers’ state with a revolutionary proletariat. As with all of Posadas’ theories, this particular one contains formulations that are contradictory and wilfully confusing, leaving open diverse points of refuge, should reality or Marxist debate refute it; this is its essence.
b) Another ideas is the partial regeneration of the Soviet bureaucracy and the workers’ states in general , in some cases even including their “total regeneration”, which would include the political revolution. This idea was preceded by the idealization of the Chinese leadership as a supposed “centre of reorganization of the world communist movement”.
c) The third idea centres on the capitalist apparatuses that defeated the socialist revolution, whose most notorious examples were the armies in Portugal and Ethiopia.
We do not intend to engage in debates with theories foreign to Trotskyism, which under new and ever more vulgar forms—although it is difficult to invent something new where theoretical errors are concerned—tend to repeat the same old errors of centrists, Stalinists and reformists, all refuted in the work of Trotsky and in the Trotskyists’ debate, from the “national democratic state” of Khrushchev, to Deutscher’s much more subtle hopes of the bureaucracy’s self-reform.
We cite these because they are at the root of the political errors of this tendency—errors that, again, are not arbitrary, nor the product of fantasy or madness—and the real capitulations of the working class, as with the electoral support of Peron’s candidacy in Argentina or that of Lopez Portillo in Mexico, or the so-called “trade union and military alliance” forged on the eve of the military coup in Argentina, when the military effectively set out to completely destroy the trade unions.
19 The foundation of this theoretical idealism produces, in the last instance, a monolithic organizational vision of the party, with its inseparable corollary, the infallible leader. But it is not the organizational form that determined the theoretical errors, but rather vice-versa (even allowing for mutual influences). The program is the element that determines the organizational form, the site where the centre of the struggle takes place. At the same time, monolithism and the infallibility of the leader determine the absence of a political life and a life of study, the absence of discussion leading to theoretical sterility, and these all exacerbate the tendency towards sectarianism and isolation: it is a spiral.
20 Stemming from the previous points is the essential moral principle of the sect: the ends justify the means, leading to the break with the dialectical relation between means and ends ( see “Their Morals and Ours”). “Party reason” stands above the truth; or, more precisely, it is identified as the truth. This implies that all methods useful to “party reason” are truthful, that the truth is embodied in the monolithic party and its infallible leadership. The truth of the party exists beyond objective truth. And the standards of truth do not enter into conflict with reality, but rather in the statements issued by the infallible leader. Posadism has drawn this familiar logic out to its conclusion.
For this reason too the ideas of Posadism related to art, culture, history, the family, relations between men and women, have distanced themselves so much from Bolshevism and have grown closer to Bolshevism’s caricature: Stalinism and Zhdanovism. The common ground between the concept of art in Zhdanov, Khrushchev and Posadas is based in a common theory and organization. All of Posadas’ ideas regarding the superstructure correspond to the mystical and idealist visions of pre-Marxist worker sects, with which it shares a cultural primitivism and the prejudices that provide a privileged space for “harmony”, “feelings” and other similar expressions of backwardness within the organization.
The sect, according to its own logic, exalts a type of moral hypocrisy, because it is not united by its ideas but rather by particular interests (see Engel’s “On the Early History of Christianity”, from 1894). For that reason, as militants of the former BLA tendency, our split with Posadism is also a moral problem. It means to break with its methods not only in those instances where we have been its victims, but above all, by recognizing when we ourselves have applied the method, or agreed with it or tolerated it; which, by degree, is the same in all three cases. This self-recognition, rather than self-victimization, is fundamental to affect a moral split. We have nothing in common with those who, having left Posadist organizations, continue to justify its defamations or even long for a death sentence when the defamations or condemnations concern others, thus leaving intact the method and logic of the sect.
Posadism’s moral hypocrisy is ultimately centred on sex, as can be seen in a number of Posadas’ own writings, since this hypocrisy is essentially a moralism of power. That is, it centres on and hides behind the oldest form of oppression, of one half of humanity against the other half. This is a masculine morality, of the oppression of women, under the guise of protecting the woman’s “purity”, a concept equal parts anti-Marxist and anti-woman that is based on the defense of the patriarchal institution of the family. This aspect of Posadism is not secondary, nor negligible, nor embarrassing. Those who have tolerated and accepted it, must analyse, demystify, denounce and perform a radical break with the practice. This applies to any vision of the party based on “feelings”, “harmony” and “morality”, instead of basing itself on ideas and the program, which is the true source of every revolutionary’s feelings and morality.
21 The “fundamental principles” of Posadism as we have enumerated them in points 18, 19 and 20, imply the abandonment of the category of class. It is for this reason that we believe that the most general feature across all of Posadism’s theoretical, political and organizational errors and fabrications, as a feature common to all of them, is precisely the break with the class-based approach. This was progressively replaced by the idealist and subjective criteria of the sect, that is, by a bourgeois category (or petit-bourgeois, as a simple variant of the bourgeois category). We might call this the “apparatus approach”, except that the term is completely inadequate: an apparatus that pursues its own interests of self-preservation constitutes in and of itself a stratum of the petit bourgeois, and thus in class terms advances a petit-bourgeois approach, divergent from the working class.
This split has evidently not been homogenous, nor instantaneous, nor has it been expressed forcibly in analyses and everyday political decisions. To the contrary, the more immediate and limited the environment of the political decision, the more possibility that the class-based approach survives and continues, and not just in Posadism but in other currents as well. But the split is set in a determinate field, the theoretical field. The tragedy (tragedy for those who have lived through it, because the world class struggle has not been affected in the slightest by the vicissitudes of this small tendency) of this split with the class approach was that it was also a split with the most solid element of the original Marxist tradition of the original GCI and BLA. The struggle for a Trotskyist vision of the party, undertaken in the name of and in defense of the class approach, ended up construing as an absolute one of Trotskyism’s most complex realities, giving it, as Trotsky wrote, “unlimited and unrestricted powers”, and thus complying with that parable by producing a break with the class approach not so much in terms of party organization, but rather at the level of theory. Thus, inevitably, the split was translated into political and organizational terms, as the abandonment of class was generalized to those areas where the approach had appeared the most solidly grounded.
22 With points 18 to 21, we have attempted to pose in general terms the profound errors of Posadism, and not dwell on each of its partial manifestations, which would be impossible and pointless to enumerate. This does not mean that after the split of 1962 that the BLA tendency (which between 1966 and 1967 began to refer to itself as “Posadism”) and its militants in each country did not sometimes act correctly, just as it would be absurd to maintain that before that date no mistakes or blemishes had existed (one can detect in the earlier practices of the International the seeds of subsequent errors). None of the militants—many of whom have provided evidence of their dedication to the revolutionary struggle—were enlisted to the tendency on account of its idealist deviations, but rather for the programmatic and organizational principles of Trotskyism that with all its deformations (which, in truth, among the diverse Trotskyist tendencies, Posadism did not hold a monopoly), it defended.
The decadence and regression of the tendency was accentuated beginning in 1967-68, particularly with the so-called “Eighth World Congress”, a period in which the exhausted, old theoretical reserves were neither enriched nor updated, and with the beginning of the new phase of the world revolution that took the sectarian tendencies in particular by surprise. Worth mentioning, this explains the bandwagoning turn of Posadism with respect to the Soviet bureaucracy and the tendencies of the national bourgeois between 1968-1969, which produced the first expulsions—under diverse pretexts—of important members of the BLA leadership, organized around the split of 1962 and consolidated in the “Eighth World Congress” of 1967.
Following the split, the BLA tendency continued, particularly in Latin America, to maintain its intervention in the class struggle. Since this is a critical assessment of our activity, we do not propose to enumerate the correct positions taken, nor find any attenuating circumstances for mistakes committed. We will limit ourselves to simply outlining some examples of the programmatic, political and organizational struggle undertaken according to Trotskyist principles that have been influential in the class struggle in the respective countries, the analysis of which must be performed—if indeed it must be—in another context. Of course, this enumeration is not exhaustive, and we can allow several important omissions:
The organization in 1962 of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario [Revolutionary Workers’ Party] (Trotskyist) in Spain, the first Trotskyist organization in Spain after the defeat of the revolution in 1936-39, and the only organization of its kind until 1969-1970. The permanent intervention of the powerful, Argentine class-based tendency into innumerable trade unions and factories. The struggle for the program of the socialist revolution in Cuba in 1960 , and the subsequent program (until its captivity in 1963-1963) of the Cuban comrades (the central theses of this activity can be found indirectly expressed in “Inside the Cuban Revolution” , a pamphlet published in “Monthly Review” in October 1964). The struggle in the miner’s federation in Peru, which culminated in the approval of the socialist program of the miners of Cerro de Pasco. The struggle for the program of the socialist revolution and the necessity for a workers’ party in the guerrilla struggle waged in Guatemala between 1963 and 1966 (the reality of which was expressed, i.e., the Program of Sierra de las Minas, a document that today needs to be debated, errors and all, and not left to the defamations and rumours of the centrists). The programmatic struggle in Brazil , including the defense of the Trotskyist principles, waged by numerous imprisoned comrades. The struggle in the jails of Mexico waged by the Mexican party and the political defense of the Trotskyist program and the Fourth International carried out before the courts by the Mexican prisoners . The same political defense waged in the Francoist courts by the Spanish prisoners. All this, without counting or enumerating all the interventions, acts of propaganda and organizational efforts performed by the movements and strikes in the factories and universities of Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and other countries in which the main ranks of the BLA or Posadist comrades acted as protagonists.
To repeat: we do not set out to enumerate our correct actions and struggles as a way to compensate for our errors. This is a separate task—beyond the objectives of this document—that is less pressing. We mention this for two main reasons.
Firstly, the comrades who participated as Trotskyists and militants of the Fourth International over the course of many years, through the Posadist tendency, feel, or would reasonably feel, that whatever errors or limitations of their own and of the tendency, they have always acted with the conviction that they were part of a principled struggle, dedicating all their strength, all their life, energy and resources, without restraint or limits, to the revolutionary struggle for socialism and for Trotskyism. They have all seen some limited, local success at one point or another. They have uncompromisingly defended the need for the party through their concrete experience as disciplined militants. And they have seen their weaknesses, their limitations, their theoretical and political conciliations, and their errors all pointed out by their critics. It is natural that by performing an assessment of their own errors, they demand that their militant experience and struggles be respected, in order to discuss and argue objectively about the experience that all Trotskyist tendencies are concerned with insofar as they take seriously the struggle for the construction of the party.
Secondly, we feel that by engaging in public debate, through this critical assessment we hereby can offer, even schematically, the greatest amount of elements for posterior judgment, in particular for the new militants that are joining in these years the struggle for the program of permanent revolution and the International, as well as for the older militants who are unaware or have forgotten some of these elements. We are seeking to preserve the continuity of a historical tendency of the Trotskyist movement.
23 Without wishing to address a controversy that is completely beyond the scope of a document such as this, and instead seeking to establish objectivity in our own reasoning, we must say that the overcoming of Posadism by the militants of the BLA tendency has not only been difficult on account of our own limitations of understanding and due to the complexity of the path followed by the tendency, but also because we find no better example in Latin America.
There is no need to mention the organizations and tendencies that are opposed to the Trotskyist program: we are separated from them by a programmatic gap that is the very motivation for our struggle. The theory and practice of the Latin American communist parties has led to defeat and paralysis. The theory and practice of the centrist-Castrist currents, the guerrilla groups, the diverse leftists trade unions, nationalists, revolutionary socialists, etc., have not obtained better results. Dozens of these organizations have emerged and disappeared without leaving a theoretical trace on the Latin American revolution, even if some of the best revolutionaries emerged from their ranks. The attempts to generalize the success of the guerrilla revolutionaries in Cuba on empirical and not theoretical foundations—that is, to generalize poorly—led to the failure of all the guerrilla tendencies that attempted to overstep, through a voluntary act, the level of consciousness and the level of mass organization, without grasping and respecting both levels, all while basing itself on the programs and visions of centrists. Pragmatic reasoning regarding the Cuban experience—“nothing succeeds as [sic] success”—shows itself, as with all pragmatism, to be the mortal enemy of Marxist reasoning and all possible theoretical generalization.
The Trotskyist tendencies foreign to the Latin American Bureau—those reunified after the 1962 split in the Unified Secretariat (tr: US)—failed after 1963 to overcome the example of the BLA in Latin America, although they also engaged in struggles and had their own successes. We can cite many cases, such as in Chile, where the organizational failure of all Trotskyist tendencies was resounding—and this is a critical assessment that we owe to the Chilean revolutionary vanguard—up to and including the general policy adopted by the Unified Secretariat beginning in 1967 in support of the OLAS (a non-entity that never took shape), and the “armed struggle”. This was called the “strategy of armed struggle” and was arbitrarily opposed to the reformist path, as if there were not enough examples showing that the armed struggle is not a form of politics and can be carried out in the name of bourgeois democratic and reformist objectives. The BLA tendency had already surpassed this discussion, with much more solid theoretical arguments than what the superficial critics would believe. The ravages caused by this policy in the Latin American Trotskyist authority evidently did not help the Posadist tendency to grasp the ravages that their own policy provoked from the other extreme. This was particularly evident in Argentina and Bolivia, but also in Guatemala. There, the Unified Secretariat did not grasp that the struggle inaugurated by Fidel Castro in the Tricontinental was not a struggle against Posadism, but rather an attack led by the Castrist centrism against the Transitional Program and against Trotskyism, adding to the wild defamations against the Guatemalan comrades, who after being murdered and assassinated were accused of being “fund thieves” by the centrists that abandoned the program. This defamation was recorded in a communication by the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International. Neither that policy nor those methods could draw out the Trotskyist militants. It would be pointless to mention the endless coming and goings of the Moreno tendency in Peronism, in the OLAS, in PRT, in the Socialist Party of Coral and in the Fourth International (Unified Secretariat), because it is not the objective of this document to engage in debate with these tendencies.
We mention these examples in order to show that the crisis inaugurated with the 1962 split in Latin American Trotskyism—caused, among other reasons, by the Cuban socialist revolution, shedding light on our own limitations and backwardness—is not a crisis unique to the BLA tendency, but rather of the strengths of the Fourth International that is expressed in one of its most vibrant sectors by its tradition and influence. And if the “Latin American question” has been for 10 years at the centre of divergences between the tendencies of the Fourth International (US)—a focal point where the discussion, as one would expect, has encompassed the world strategy of contemporary Trotskyism—this is, among other reasons because the comrades of these tendencies never performed a self-assessment of the 1962 split, nor of the imbalance that the split introduced into the ranks and in the possibilities of theoretical vision. They treated the BLA tendency as a type of “ailment” for which it is better to say anything, and the sooner removed the better.
The BLA dedicated itself to haphazardly fabricating “European sections”, ignoring that it had broken with the historical cadres of European Trotskyism, and, as the United States could not follow suit, this country was eventually “erased” from the map of Trotskyism. The US simultaneously misunderstood, in terms of its real scope, the meaning of the split with the historical cadres built up by Trotsykism in Latin America, passing over the accumulated experience among the dozens of tested Trotskyist cadres that had been formed though the class struggle in factories, in the underground, in the jails and among the guerrillas. This incomprehension can go some way towards explaining the political improvisations in Latin America, among which the Trotskyist license that was conceded to Santucho’s ERP is a standout example.
An outsider’s view cannot replace the need for a critical understanding of one’s own errors. We are performing this critical assessment of other tendencies because we seek to generalize and make our own experience serve some use. We feel that our own experience can be charted somewhere within a critical assessment of all the forces of organized Trotskyism, beginning with the Second World War in the different tendencies of the Fourth International. We have included among these reflections a certain degree of self-criticism, given that this, and not debate, is the central concern of this document.
24 Individual conclusions are needed in order to arrive at any critical reflection. We who have signed this document believe that our own critical conclusions may prove decisive for any future revolutionary activity, whether as co-participants, representatives, or defenders during the course of our organization, until the point that each one of us has break with Posadism. The critical reflection performed by each of us should correspond in its profundity to the extent that we were involved in the organization. This necessity is not for the benefit of outsiders, where only select sectors will be interested in the evolution of Posadism, but rather an internal need born of our own militant experience.
As part of the leadership or as cadres, we have shared this common vision up to the point of the split; or, without sharing that vision in its entirety, we have accepted its application by our party and we have spread it about, endorsing it through our own activity among the working class. In order to not break with the party, due to misunderstandings of discipline, incomprehension, and insufficient conviction—the reasons are diverse and often overlapping—we have accepted that the fundamental principles of our program are suffering or have been abandoned. Not all of us have the same attitude and sense of responsibility: some of us have been opposed to abandonment, where several, or even many deep problems have arisen at some stage; others have resisted, and others still have pursued concrete politics that are at odds with the “Posadists”. It is important that each of us assert their differences, although it is not the objective of this document. Our objective is to arrive at a broad conclusion regarding an experience that is common to all sects, and that by participating in the organization and acting in accordance with monolithic discipline, we have shared with and brought before the working class, as well as within our own revolutionary experience by defending that vision against other comrades. This is the self-critique that we must perform.
The rise of working-class thought and working-class influence in the world revolution will force us to introduce radical new visions of this self-criticism and critique, because it subjects everything, according to an old expression, to the “weapon of criticism and the criticism of the weapon”. This criticism is the essence of the political revolution and is vital to the elimination of bureaucracy. On that basis, we prefer here and in other texts to use the expression “critical reflection.” We wish to eliminate the kind of religious vestiges—religion here meaning the recognition of an authority superior to reason, that is, above all criticism—that have become common among the CPs—as well as Posadism and other sects—in the use of their term “self-criticism”. We need a radical self-criticism, that is, that goes to the root of the problem.
Thus, ours is not an operation that seeks approval in some external authority, but instead looks to freely use the theoretical instruments of Marxist reasoning. This document is our critical reflection on our own past. Perhaps among us some should perform this reflection more or less deeply. It is not possible to compensate for our own errors, replacing the task of critical revision by trying to find the real errors of others; when faced with a particular reality, experiment or set of facts that categorically reject their hypothesis or theory, a scientist will casts aside their finding and returns to their scientific foundations—in our case, Marxism—in attempt to discover where they went wrong, to identify their errors and patiently recommence with the task at hand.
“Self-criticism” is perhaps one of the most complicated, and most commonly forged, revolutionary acts, precisely because “existence determines consciousness”, and the defense of personal interest and personal prestige can get in the way. “The vision of self-criticism” practiced by the Chinese, for example is radically false and religiously based, since the supreme authority, who cannot in principle be mistaken, is exempt: Mao. Where there is no criticism, there is no self-criticism. Any monolithic regime annuls the possibility of using self-criticism to judge one’s own actions. And yet, these regimes are the most prolific in terms of acts of “self-criticism”, just like the catholic religion that has made of self-criticism a sacrament.
It was perhaps Lenin, among the Marxists, who provided the best example of reflecting on one’s own errors: it is much more serious to overlook or impose silence than to suffer a defeat, just as it is worse to not understand or hide from one’s own errors than to commit that error. Among the worst traditions within our tendency, none are so bad as the fact that the main leader, Posadas himself, never recognized a political error. When comrades of Posadism have tended to resist any criticism of their common past, they do so because they have been brought up in that tradition: “the policy is correct, the errors correspond to those who apply it”. We need to break with precisely this kind of thinking in order to build a revolutionary Marxist party.
If we continue along this path, it is because we believe it is vital to understand these basic criteria. And because there is no true Marxist tradition after Lenin and Trotsky that has managed to apply a critique to one’s own errors. This lack of tradition is part of the errors and limits of our entire epoch, as it is of Posadism, which is reaching its end. The International after Trotsky has provided few examples of self-criticism. The “self-criticism” has been either formal or conducted in order to correct a patent, immediate and intolerable mistake, and not to address the method leading to it. Let us not speak of an International Posadist, where “self-criticism” has always come from below rather than from above.
Similarly, the resistance to engaging in radical critical reflection of our own past is partially stemming from the instruction we gave to our comrades concerning the principle of authority, the denial of science and critical thought; on the other hand, that resistance is born from a reasonable anxiety around throwing overboard the entirety of past experience, the good and bad, the mistakes and successes. By engaging in critical discussion with comrades of our tendency, it will be important insist on the principle introduced by Trotsky in “The New Course”: the revolutionary must learn to think through and judge each problem with their own head.
Hence we have not evaded self-criticism, but rather considered it an indispensable instrument for the dialectical overcoming of errors. We do not break with the past: we seek to conserve what there is in it that is correct and positive; we break with our shared mistakes. We are, in that sense, a continuation of the BLA tendency, a proletarian tendency of semi-colonial countries in revolution.
It will not be long before the tendencies of the revolutionary communists are confronted, in much broader and sharper terms, with the problem of criticism and self-criticism. Behind the resistance to self-criticism is a deep-seated problem stemming from the division between intellectual and manual labour. A manual labourer through his practical reality can offer criticism and correct an error: if a lathe operator makes a poor piece, it will not fit and the machine will not work. They must reject it. The manual labourer must be precise and have the precise instruments of measurement. The intellectual worker enjoys a distinct “privilege”: their confrontation with reality is always mediated. They thus evade criticism: consciousness hides or scurries off. A revolutionary leader is an intellectual. They enjoy the privileges of intellectual work. And as a group, they resist criticism because they defend their privileges. Hence the importance of the Bolshevik party structure as a collective intellectual and a collective proletariat, allowing the expression of objective reason of the working class and allowing the class to assert itself. If not, the leader—who should be of working-class origin, since it is well known that the task of revolutionary leadership is intellectual—uses their privilege as an intellectual, just as they will go on to enjoy material privileges. Therein lie the origins of the bureaucracy.
25 The entire degenerative process of the Posadist organization does not for us annul the value of Posadas’s original initiative. Ultimately, Posadas is a tragic figure, and only the most superficial people will explain his figure by focusing on his most grotesque and humorous aspects, which are not in short supply, but are also not determinant. These people are afraid that by looking deeply to the bottom of the well that is Posadism, they will see themselves looking back, and they thus seek to preserve their conservative life until it all comes crashing down. Since the regression of a small proletarian Trotskyist tendency is part of a larger problem involving the world revolution (similar to Stalinist aberrations, the idolization of Mao or Kim II Sung, or, more subtly, Togliatti), we are objectively concerned about a case that is not a question of simple individual madness.
We cannot build Trotskyist parties in Latin America if we ignore or do not perform an evaluation of this experience. And those who attempt to go forward without doing so will fail. At issue is not the number of militants, given this was never a Leninist criterion for measuring a tendency (see the famous 21 conditions!): Argentina’s ERP had many more militants than the GCI, but it was never a Trotskyist organization, nor did it form Trotskyist cadres. This is an issue of vision, of the program and of the building of the party.
The fundamental problem is the following: Trotskyism, the Fourth International, has not in any of its tendencies provided an answer to the challenge that Posadas and the BLA attempted to confront, although they lacked the power and capacity to do so: to insert Trotskyism into the working class, organizing a class-based proletarian Trotskyist tendency, and develop proletarian Trotskyism. Having attempted to redress this issue, mistakenly, without the proper means, but still doing so out of necessity, this tendency suffered the defeat that provides it with its tragic element. The defeat does not mean that the attempt was wrong, or that it was unnecessary.
Working-class Trotskyism based in the masses disappeared with Trotsky, the last brilliant theoretician, organizer and leader who was shaped through the experience of struggling alongside Lenin and participating in the Russian Revolution, the last great historical triumph of the Soviet proletariat.
In order to develop a working-class Trotskyist current, the subjective factor (willpower) is what is needed. The determinate objective conditions of worker consciousness are necessary, and in them the subjective factor inevitably intervenes. These conditions, emerging in an uneven and combined fashion, are maturing in the different sectors of the world revolution. They are more favourable in the more developed countries, where there is a higher degree of worker consciousness, but it is not necessarily there that a breakthrough will occur. Since the maturation is also global, the subjective factors becomes especially important, just as the first break with global capitalism took place in Russia and not in the most advanced capitalist countries. The emergence of Guevarism in the Cuban leadership can perhaps be regarded as a timid, indirect and imperfect sign of that possibility.
Just as the colonial revolution laid the groundwork for the European revolution, the rise of the European revolution is preparing the new phase of the political revolution.
It is perhaps in the workers’ states and in the countries where there exist mass communist parties that we can find the largest reserves of “objective” Trotskyism, since it is there that the experience and degree of consciousness of the masses, as well as of the vanguard, is superior to that of the social-democratic, trade-union and centrist consciousness, to say nothing of the revolutionary nationalists. But Trotskyism “in itself” cannot be transformed on its own, automatically, under the “pressure of the masses” into a “Trotskyism for itself”. But it is also there where the bureaucracy is most entrenched, where it employs the instruments of “consensus”, as Gramsci would say, against the dominated, and since bureaucracy is not capable of inventing anything on its own, one of the greatest sources of social-democratic ideology.
For this reason, it is also possible that a broad Trotskyist worker current, a mass Trotskyist vanguard, could possibly make advances in the backwards countries, where the level of worker consciousness has managed to be organized into a party, as is the case in several Latin American countries, but where the degree of organization is quite advanced primarily at the level of trade unions: the Federation of Miners in Bolivia is a typical case, but not the only one. These currents will appear in a different form, and they may possibly only arrive at a global understanding of the problems and the program of political revolution that makes up the determinate feature of the worldwide program of the permanent revolution after the advanced countries have done so.
One of the main reasons that an International is needed, beyond the international character of its program, is the need to combine, communicate and organize globally the thoughts and experiences of different sectors within the revolution and within the global working class, in order to compensate with the thought and theoretical development of the Marxist vanguard for the effects of uneven combined development of the revolution and the division of the world into regions and countries; furthermore, and inversely, to take advantage of these effects in order to dialectically enrich this thought and the capacity for analysis of each concrete national reality.
Clearly none of this will take place without real Trotskyist-communist parties, organized through the class struggle, inserted into the working class and entrenched in each country; and much less will it take place without the historical cadres instructed in the method of the transitional program and in Marxism, where these parties must take into account and understand—being the essence of the transitional program—the degree of consciousness and the degree of determinate and concrete organization of the proletariat and that of the masses in each country; only then can progress be made, through the experience of mass struggle, up to and including the program of the socialist revolution and the struggle for the political revolution in the workers’ states. To that end it is necessary, firstly, that the party not limit itself to the existing degree of real consciousness of the masses, nor their existing, real organization; secondly, that the degree of consciousness and organization not be ignored, wishing simply to overstep them and only organize at their margins. Knowing how to correctly combine both aspects in each concrete situation is the surest guarantee that the Marxist party will maintain its vital connection with the working class.
Doing so is fundamental for the instruction of the proletariat in their struggle, in the political revolution of the workers’ states, and in the parties of the bureaucratized masses with reformist ideologies; independently of their leadership, against capitalism, inequality, bureaucracy, in favour of the socialist program.
The Latin American revolution has entered a new stage, one that we cannot analyse here: we have done so in other documents, and intend to continue to do so collectively. A crisis of transformation is affecting all political currents, of workers and revolutionaries. Trotskyism is no exception. To the contrary, given its programmatic level it is among the currents most affected by the process, and it is poised more than other currents to perceive its global, and not just Latin American scope. We are convinced that we are advancing towards the restructuring of Trotskyism, of the party of the permanent revolution in Latin America. It is there that the party must be organized. Together with other militants and revolutionary cadres of different origins and paths, we propose to contribute to this task. In order to contribute to this cause insofar as our vision and strength will allow us, we are offering this critical assessment of our own past, and not just to the extent that it affects us personally, but also, fundamentally, because it represents an important experience of a sector of the Marxist vanguard of the Latin American workers’ movement and of world Trotskyism.
Lucero (1949) , Argentine section; Manuel (1949) , Argentine section; Diego E. ; Viana; Ernesto (1955), Argentine section; Madero (1958) , Argentine section; Victor (1962) , Spanish section; D. (1966), Spanish section; M. (1973), French section; Gianni (1973), Italian section.
To other comrades
(The list remains open to whoever subsequently wishes to endorse the present evaluation, in its entirety or in part, or wishes to amend or modify the current text)
[tr. separate document, within the same pamphlet]
Concerning some fundamental issues of the program of the proletariat during the transition period
Note: The comrades who formulated the previous self-critical assessment of their experience with the former Latin American Bureau tendency of the Fourth International have also established the following programmatic outline, which expresses the general framework for understanding the interests of the proletariat in the current stage.
The present period is one of global transition from capitalism to socialism. The society of transition established in each country as a result of the defeat of capitalism by the working class and their allies—the workers’ state—is an inseparable part of the global transition. This means that the workers’ states represent a victory and contribute to overall progress in a world in transition where capitalism continues to survive; that is, they are not a series of islands in which socialism is being built in isolation.
The victory of world socialism cannot ever be conceived as the sum of workers’ states or “national socialisms”, but instead as the socialist reconstruction of all economies and all humanity.
At a time when a third of humanity has freed itself from capitalism, the situation created by the workers’ states introduces a new set of tasks for the proletariat. The socialist revolution is now deeply connected to the proletarian program of the workers’ states. The defeat of capitalism has shown that this event, in and of itself, does not resolve the problems of the industrial workers. The working class cannot make progress without also tearing down bourgeois power. But having done so, it must continue struggling against the legacy of capitalism, expressed in all forms of social and national privileges.
In order to advance the class struggle against capitalism in a manner that is politically independent from the other sectors that are more or less privileged in a given society, the working class must be equipped with its own program, uniting in a single process the permanent revolution, the struggle for national emancipation, the destruction of private possession of the means of production and the elimination of all privileges: whether it be the privilege of workers of the most economically developed nations over and against the workers of the backwards countries, or of the intermediate sectors of society, such as state functionaries, technical specialists, intellectual workers, etc., within each nation, which are responsible for the creation of the bureaucratic, Bonapartist dictatorships in the workers’ states.
During the course of this transition, the workers’ states represent a fundamental strength and bulwark of the global working class in their struggle against capitalism. Throughout the transition, the relation of the permanent revolution uniting national struggles, anti-capitalist struggles and the anti-bureaucratic struggles is the same as that relation uniting the anti-imperialist revolution, the socialist revolution and the political revolution.
These struggles determine the order and priority of the alliances of the proletariat, an order that goes from the first priority, to the second and third. Thus it is legitimate to enter into alliance with the forces that are in agreement over the priority of the anti-imperialist struggle and not with the anti-capitalist struggle, but never with those forces that formally accept the latter while rejecting the former (as is the case of the French Communist Party [PCF] and the National Liberation Front [FLN] in the war in Algeria); or, with those who stand for the struggle against capitalism but not against bureaucracy, but never with those who stand for the struggle against bureaucracy and are opposed to the struggle against capitalism.
Thinking about the alliances of the working class means conceding a centrality to the objective existence and social dynamic of the workers’ states insofar as it is there that, at each phase of the transition, the degree of organization and consciousness of the global proletariat is determined, and the point where, during each stage, the global anti-imperialist struggle is solidified.
Thus, the tasks of the proletariat in the period of transition are organized in the following manner:
1 Above all else, the overthrow of capitalism in all parts of the world where it still exists. To do so it is necessary to lend unconditional support to all anti-imperialist struggles in the colonial and semi-colonial nations, just as it is to support the struggle for worker power in the industrially advanced nations. The anti-imperialist struggle is responsible for the decisive weakening of capitalism, depriving it of an available sphere of international exploitation and encouraging hundreds of millions of colonial and semi-colonial workers to destroy bourgeois property and implement new workers’ states.
2 The workers’ states are the most important victory of the working class in the struggle for communism. Through the workers’ state, the proletariat has managed to eliminate, along with the private possession of the means of production, the essential source of the class division of society. Nevertheless, the division of labour persists, raising the needs for a worker struggle against all privileges, the most striking and most unjust of which is the result of the imperialist legacy, which has created inequality between workers in the backwards countries and those of the metropolitan centre, an inequality that is captured roughly by the distance in national product between one nation and another (for example: in Bangladesh, the per capita product is 110 dollars annually, in India it is 150, and in Cambodia it is 90; meanwhile, in the United States it is 7,000 dollars, in France 6,400, and in Sweden 8,450).
Following the seizure of power, the proletariat must apply for the poorest nations an international plan of accelerated development, even if it is to the detriment of the consumption of the workers in the industrialized nations, so as to advance towards the elimination of the sources of privilege inherited by capitalism, whose ideological consequence is the petit-bourgeois nationalism that remains one of the bases of the Bonapartist bureaucratic governments of the workers’ states.
For that reason, in light of the central role played by the workers’ states in the global revolution, a fundamental task of the proletarian program is the collective planning of the workers’ states in the economic sphere, and as a corollary in military terms.
3 The struggle against inequalities on the international scale is inseparable from the struggle against all privileges resulting from the capitalist inheritance, consisting of a hierarchic society in which the bourgeois norms of distribution prevail and the privileged strata within the salary scale monopolize state power: state functionaries, company directors, engineers, military officers, etc. The Bonapartist dictators of the bureaucracies pertaining to the one-party workers’ states are the consequence of these very same social inequalities.
4 The political revolution in the workers’ states, which consist of bringing about the downfall of the bureaucracy’s political power without undermining the base of state-owned possession of the means of production, is a hard, uncompromising struggle waged by the proletariat against the social inequalities and for the conquest of democratic rights that allow for the defense and development of an independent policy for the advancement of communism. Democratic victories are a necessary means for the development of the proletariat’s political experience, through their trade unions, parties and soviets, in order to obtain the full mastery of social life.
These tasks of the proletariat that constitute the program of the permanent revolution during the period of transition are not independent from one another, but the preliminary tasks consists in addressing factors that constrain all the others. It is possible to wage the struggle against capitalism and seek its downfall, even if the conditions do no exist for the international planning of the workers’ states, the struggle against the privileges within those states and on behalf of democratic functioning. To do otherwise is impossible. What is not possible is to ally with the bourgeoisie, or the bourgeois tendencies, in the name of struggling against the privileges between or within the workers’ states. These tendencies or alliances have nothing to do with our struggle. Even in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, bourgeois power is a source of stagnation, backwardness and intensified exploitation of the workers. Worse still, the privileges of the workers’ states are to a large extent maintained by the fact that capitalism is still dominant with two thirds of the humanity.
Attempting to resolve these injustices in the workers’ states by forming alliances with capitalism or with bourgeois tendencies that survive in the workers’ states as a result of the survival of capitalism throughout the world, this possibility represents a threat to the most important proletarian victories—state-owned possession of all means of production in the workers’ states and a planned economy—and, at the very least, reinforces the privileges of the intermediate petit-bourgeois strata over and against the proletariat.
It is possible to progressively reduce the differences in the quality of life among the different workers’ states, supporting the just demands of the workers in the poorest countries, even where all proletariat do not enjoy full democratic rights. By contrast, it is impossible to conquer democratic rights for the proletariat within the workers’ states if the differences in society and in quality of life are covered over, disguised or ignored, and if the proletarian leadership waits to obtain those rights by allying with those who enjoy a position of privilege by virtue of uneven development, through the inheritance of capitalist exploitation.
The proletariat, on the other hand, can and must propose within their own organizations, and even before taking power, the unrelenting struggle against all privileges, and not just capitalist privileges but also those in the privileged strata of the workers’ states. This is the path towards conquering and imposing their democratic rights in order to determine the policies affecting trade unions, workers’ parties, workers’ counsels and the soviets. The democratic rights of the proletariat are not abstract liberties; they are the concrete freedom to struggle for their specific interests, that is, for the program of permanent revolution in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism. This is what we have wished to show.
For everything outlined above, and taking into account the global nature of the revolution, the political revolution is also a global process whose level is determined not only from one country to the next, but also in all the workers’ states and in the organized strength of the proletariat in their struggle against capitalism, a process that assumes specific expressions—uneven and combined—in each workers’ state, and even within each mass workers’ organization.
The most general feature of this political revolution is the struggle for the advancement of the proletariat towards assuming the leadership of the global revolutionary forces; or, what amounts to the same, the advancement of the leadership role of the proletariat in relation to the petit-bourgeois leadership strata and bureaucratic ranks that emerge within the revolution.
This leadership role demands a program and independent organization that belongs to the working class. In general terms, the struggle for specific objectives, synthesized in the program of permanent revolution, is the historical task specific to the proletariat.
April 3, 1977
4. Many of the signatories were members of the Posadist Fourth International until a waves of expulsions in 1974. Some of these were described in Piero Leone’s Circolo Vizioso
5. The Buró Latinoamericano was created after the 2nd Congress of the Fourth International as a way of coordinating dozens of Trotskyist groups across Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, and Cuba. Based in Montevideo, the BLA was lead by J. Posadas’s Grupo Cuarta Internacional (GCI) and Alberto Sendic’s Liga Obrera Revolucionaria (LOR), both closely linked to the theories and leadership of the FI under Michel Pablo. With Pablo arrested in 1960, the BLA broke with the International Secretariat and created what would a few years later become know as The Fourth International – Posadist. This International, along with the BLA, still continues with small sections in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the UK, and Belgium, under the leadership of Posadas’s son, Leon Cristalli.
6. The Grupo Cuarta International (GCI) was established by J. Posadas between 1943-47. It was recognized as the official Argentinian section of the IV International in 1951. In 1954 it changed its name to the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Trotskista), later changed to Partido Obrero (Trotskista) in order to be permitted to field candidates for election.
15. A Trotskyist journal published by Jorge Adalberto Ramos from 1945-1947
17. Alicia Rojo’s “Argentinian Trotskyism and the Origins of Peronism” is a good primer for the range of positions taken by Argentinian Trotskyists on Peron: http://www.ceip.org.ar/El-trotskismo-argentino-y-los-origenes-del-peronismo,123
18. According to Guillermo Almeyra’s memoir Militante Critico, Posadas initially supported South Korea against the North before adhering to the opposite official line of Pablo’s FI.
20. In April of 1962 the BLA held an “Extraordinary Conference of the IV International” in Montevideo. Over the course of nine days, the Latin American sections under Posadas claimed ownership of the Fourth International. A new executive committee was named, and the Belgian, French, and Italian sections were expelled. Within two months new sections in these countries, plus Spain, were announced. http://quatrieme-internationale-posadiste.org/textes_pdf/EN/the-april-conference-manifesto.pdf
22. Posadas had influence over the Guatemalan MR-13 guerrilla leader Marco Antonio Yon Sosa.
23. An Italian term for secret societies. Piero Leone’s Circolo Vizioso describes the life of clandestine commitment in an Italian Posadist cell.
26. In 1965-66 Guevara quit the Cuban government and travelled to Africa to strengthen the guerrilla movements in Algeria and the Congo. His whereabouts not public knowledge, Posadas alleged Che had been assassinated by Castro for demanding a political line closer to Trotskyism. This allegation caused Castro to denounce Trotskyism in general in a speech to the Tricontinetal Congress in January, 1966. When Che was killed in Bolivia in 1967, Posadas maintained his position, arguing that the letters from Guevara and photos of his body were frauds.
30. Posadas demanded a “revolutionary morality” from his militants, which included condemnation of recreational sex. See “Affectionate Relationships Within the Party” republished in the January 25th issue of the UK Posadist newspaper Red Flag: http://quatrieme-internationale-posadiste.org/publications_pdf/red_1970.pdf
31. The only Cuban Trotskyist group during Castro’s rise to power was under the leadership of Posadas’s BLA. Despite playing a role in the guerrilla activities around Guantanamo, the Cuban Trotskyists were repressed, their printing press destroyed and members routinely imprisoned. See: http://www.whatnextjournal.org.uk/Pages/History/Cuba.html
33. The Posadist POR(t) had a major presence in Brazil through 1968. See http://blogjunho.com.br/historia-do-trotskismo-no-brasil-1952-1964/
34. In 1966-1972, several members of the Mexican POR(t), including Adolfo Gilly, were imprisoned in Mexico for supporting the MR-13 guerrilla movement in Guatemala.
36. Adolfo Gilly
37. Guillermo Almeyra
38. Gabriel Labat
39. Alberto di Franco
40. Anaté Almeyra
41. Jordi Dauder