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The History of Argentine Trotskyism

Part II


From Revolutionary History, Vol.2, No.2, Summer 1989. Used by permission.

The Problem of National Liberation

If we have dwelt on the figure of Quebracho, it is because his presence in the Argentine movement operated as a real catalyst on the political positions of the time. Although he was no exception to the climate of personal disputes and rancour, he also laboured at developing a political position to his differences.

The polarisation around the two groups (LOR and GOR) helped to politicise the differences. But the evolution of the political situation helped much more. Faced with the need for precise political definitions in a changing situation, the abstractionism and personalism of the positions confused everybody. The worsening of the inter-imperialist dispute, which soon led to war, upset all interrelationships within the Argentine bourgeoisie and its relationships with the different imperialisms. To divide the Argentine bourgeoisie between the pro-Allied and pro-German would be an oversimplified schema. There was also the conflict which broke out, though with less publicity, between the traditionally pro-English and pro-Yankee elements in the pro-Allied camp. Finally, no classification of this type would be able to exhaust the explanation that it was not a matter of a mere dispute between agents of rival imperialisms, but of a bourgeoisie which discussed its realignment in the face of a weakened imperialist system in crisis, and which threatened to transform itself radically as a result of the world conflict. History spoke so that, in a remarkable way, this crisis refracted itself through the state institution par excellence the army. This produced an unexpected result for all sectors in the struggle, as a result of successive crises and the intervention of the masses. For the moment the situation was reflected in the deterioration of the political situation during the ‘infamous decade’ and, to the novelty of an ex-Radical president, one had to add, further contradiction was added in that the latter took over the province of Buenos Aires, then in the hands of the conservative and philo-Fascist Fresco, who was a symbol of the ‘patriotic fraud’. The old political oppositions (Conservatives v Radicals, Radicals v Socialists, Socialists v Communists) tended to give way to other newer ones. A taste of the People’s Front was given to Buenos Aires when the tribune of 1 May 1945 played host to a formidable anticipation of the Democratic Union – UCR, PDP, CP and SP. [25]

Within the Trotskyist movement, Quebracho occupied, because of his family background and experience, a ringside view from which he could analyse the conflicts amongst the Argentine bourgeoisie. He did it sharply in a series of articles and pamphlets, where he also tried to set out the necessary political behaviour for Trotskyists. It was these positions which clearly exacerbated the widening splits. We will quote some of them as concisely as possible.

Argentina is a semi-colonial country tied to imperialism. This is caused first by its role as an agrarian livestock-based economy, which puts it in a dependent situation relative to the large industrial countries and in an analagous situation to the countryside exploited by the town. For a long time Argentina has been an economic appendage of Europe, particularly of Britain, which absorbs a large part of its produce. This situation has completely deformed the harmonious development of the productive forces of the country, paralysing its industrial evolution and the concomitant creation of an internal market, at the same time allowing the Argentine cattle raising oligarchy, which has parallel interests to British imperialism, to perpetuate itself in power until it constitutes the main brake on the development of the republic ... Hipolito Irigoyen was a small reaction against this state of affairs, though not in the form which the real interests of the country demanded. Therefore he kept Argentina neutral during the First World War, therefore he tried to nationalise the oil and therefore the oligarchy and imperialism overthrew him ... The Radical Party was not ejected from power because it was really anti-oligarchic and antiimperialist, but because it was bad servant of the oligarchy and imperialism.

To summarise, we simply give the titles and subtitles of some of his other articles which will give an idea of their content:

The Socialists of the Casa del Pueblo – Bellicose Vanguard of Anglo-French Imperialism; The Stalinists Maintain Neutrality in the Service of Ribbentrop – The Argentine People Do Not Want to be Led to the Slaughter; The Voice of Neutrality Spreads Throughout the Country – We Demand Neutrality not in the Name of Hipolito Irigoyen but in the Name of Workers’ Internationalism; While Hitler “Protects” Europe from Britain – The USA Prepares to “Protect” Latin America from the Nazi Threat; The Country Moves Towards the Establishment of an Authoritarian Government – Resulting from the Open Struggles between the Oligarchic Sectors Connected to the Rival Imperialist Gangs; Should we Submit and Die in the Service of Imperialism or Struggle for National Liberation?

To round out the thoughts of Justo we will see his answer to the last question:

Is the Yankee tutelage preferable to poverty? – today this has become the slogan of the cattle-raising bourgeoisie ... We must use the clear decline and possible final fall of British imperialism, which has shackled the country and paralysed its progress, to achieve economic liberation. It is impossible to stay passive in the face of changing ownership of those British companies in public services, industrial enterprises, agricultural companies and banks which will fall into US hands, which seems likely as a result of the war. The same can be said of territories which legitimately belong to Argentina, like the Malvinas. The Argentine people should demand and take measures to get restitution of all that belongs to it ... The people have before them a choice of roads on which this dual perspective will open up, to struggle for national liberation or to submit in order to die in the service of the imperialism which oppresses and exploits them. Its vanguard, the revolutionary proletariat, must make them choose the right route.’ [26]

Here there was an obvious preoccupation with getting recognition as the Argentine representative from the Fourth International. Quebracho branched out into the themes and terminology which until then had been the patrimony of the nationalist sectors and some reformist groups such as the PORJA. [27] and to a lesser extent of Stalinism. But the polemical reply from the ‘old’ Trotskyists was not simply a matter of words. Antonio Gallo, published in Inicial an article entitled The Position of the Fourth International – National Liberation or Socialism in which one might read:

A definite theoretical advance. Thirty years ago, what the reformist leader Juan B. Justo stated constituted an renounceable theoretical gain for the whole of the Argentina proletariat, which was confirmed by the centrists of the Del Valle Iberlucea type, which was enriched and completed by the present Marxist movements in the country and which was defended above all by the leaders of the Fourth International in Argentina. This was the statement of the capitalist character of the country’s evolution and the Socialist character of the revolution. This principle is the bedrock of the struggle of the Argentine proletariat, its best gain on the theoretical level ... He who denies this is a common traitor to the proletariat.
The Argentine bourgeoisie, differing from that of the other Indo-American states, is based on an economy which is to some degree its own. It has considerable experience and counts on a well-organised state and a formidable repressive apparatus. It has already had its revolution and now wants to enjoy its fruits. It has not the slightest intention of launching an “anti-imperialist” revolution ... Jose Carlos Mariategui, the great American Marxist, wisely noted this difference between Argentina and other American states. “Radicalism and the oligarchy are equally accomplices of international finance capital which economically dominates Argentina ... There will be no more democratic revolutions, only Socialist ones”. The Fourth International will not accept any slogan of “National Liberation” that tends to subordinate the proletariat to the ruling classes and, on the contrary, assures the proletariat that the first step of national liberation is the fight against precisely those classes.
Recently Mr Marianetti republished this Stalinist slogan and lately a Mr Quebracho and the Fascists of the Alliance of Nationalist Youth have made it theirs. But in the ranks of the Fourth International no such confusion will be introduced. In a recent article in La Nueva Internacional (January 1940) comrade Lagos characterises the “national liberation” slogan as a “variant of the People’s Front’, a position exactly identical to that of the Fascists ... National Liberation has nothing to do with our movement. For the Class Struggle! For a Socialist Revolution!

Seldom was it said as clearly, and it touched a sore point. Lagos had in fact defended similar positions within the GOR before leaving and then swelling the numbers of the LOS. He wrote a pamphlet for the latter in October 1940, which played an important role at that time where one can read:

As much as we value the importance of the combative role of the rural and urban middle class, we categorically refuse to submit the character, intensity and the form of the social movement of the working class to the fickleness, the inconsistency and weakness of the petty bourgeoisie which the panegyrists of anti-imperialism try to do. One must have the audacity of the ignoramus and the chatter of the charlatan to refer to oneself as does the author of the pamphlet (Quebracho) to the paralysation of the industrial evolution, as if it did not have industries, and equally to the internal market, as if it did not exist. The characteristics of our country are not those of some deformation of the capitalist economy – on the contrary, its form is natural to the existence of capitalism in semi-colonies in the epoch of the death agonies of capitalism ... The Argentine proletariat, two and a half million strictly industrial workers alone, so shamefully and violently exploited ... will have to get ready to declare a strike and eventually take over control of foreign factories, while respecting the national ones ... The working class of our countries must accomplish the struggle that the bourgeoisie is incapable of, but far from seeking out its future national masters, it must think, work and struggle for its own power, for the proletarian revolution. In conclusion, among the Apristas, [28] Stalinists, petty bourgeois nationalist and Fascist theorists, the tendency exists to mask the exploitation of the national bourgeoisie with that carried out by imperialism in combination with it ... in separating them, it makes out that there are non-existent semi-colonial bourgeois groups who are interested in taking on imperialism.

He ends with a paragraph in a prophetic tone:

Within this great social movement in which the industrial cities will have a leading role, the national movement will take second place. The important thing will be the Social Revolution which, without doubt, will have continental consequences. Our revolution will be a Proletarian Socialist and not a Bourgeois National Liberation. [29]

The discussion based itself upon national characteristics, even accepting the existence of ‘two and a half million industrial workers’ in the Argentina of 1940, which is a rash remark or an exaggeration. But the discussion has a worldwide programmatic range, as what was being debated is the nature of the imperialist system itself. No-one formally denies the semi-colonial character of Argentina, but the problem is what one understands by that, and what conclusion is necessary about the position of the local proletariat vis-a-vis imperialism and the national bourgeoisie.

The debate, therefore, concerned the whole Fourth International. The LOS tried to give programmatic form to its ideas in that respect in the theses which preceded the already mentioned and abortive ‘First National Conference’ at the end of 1940, on the theme ‘Socialist Revolution or National Liberation?’ We quote as follows:

The independence movement in Argentina was a bourgeois revolution, different from the other countries on the continent, Peru for example, where it did not have such clear characteristics. In the Argentine Republic there is a proletariat and capitalism, profit and surplus value and therefore class struggle, and thus the strategy of the proletariat must be that of Socialist revolution ... The formalist pedants and opportunists replace the class dynamic by purely national ideas. In consequence, if Argentina is a semicolonial country, in spite of enjoying more than a century of political independence, they convert themselves into standard bearers of “national liberation”. In every case Marxist theory and strategy categorically rejects the stupid idea that the proletariat should convert itself into a standard bearer of bourgeois ideas and movements of “national liberation” ... as a party we always defend and in the vanguard, the Socialist revolution, in order to launch ourselves into agitation for the slogan which, apart from being alien to us, is the main motif of the demagogic agitation of Fascists and Stalinists, and which therefore we all resist.
What is national liberation? The payment of the expropriations, or is it the best business deal of its radical and conservative agents? In our country national liberation is not, nor can be, anything but the monopolist co-ordination of transport, or the purchase of railways as proposed by Pinedo. [30] The “anti-imperialism” which involves the “national liberation” of Fascists, Stalinists and Quebrachists is a reactionary trick. The world must conduct itself either according to international finance capital or according to international Socialism ... The only anti-imperialism of good coin is Socialism. Upstarts and adventurers like Quebracho should found the Fifth International. The characteristics of an advanced semi-colonial country, the relative industrial development, the high percentage of workers, the characteristics of agrarian exploitation, the theoretical, political and organisational traditions of the working class and, above all, the conditions of the present imperialist epoch, of the possibility for a world Socialist economy, determine the strategy of the proletarian vanguard, the Argentine section of the Fourth International which is being built. That is the strategy of the class struggle and Socialist Revolution. The revolution cannot stop itself at democratic measures, nor within national boundaries. It will spread to all other American countries and it will seek the solidarity of the US workers. The problem posed thus eliminates all opportunist and demagogic considerations of “national liberation”. [31]

The position is formulated with clarity, though not with security. First, the national characteristics are affirmed in order to establish the strategy of a purely Socialist revolution, that is, it does not include national and democratic tasks in its programme, in order further to state that although the former did not exist, it would be the international conditions that would be decisive. Regarding the fundamental political question of the time, which was the attitude to be taken towards the Second World War, this group will tend towards the classic slogan of revolutionary defeatism, as can be recognised in the passage above. In 1942 Inicial stated: ‘In Argentina the imperialist war must be turned into a civil war’, without noticing that Argentina had not actually entered the war. Nevertheless, this was the main point at issue between the Argentine bourgeoisie and the Yankees, who in 1942 were prepared to prohibit the export of a number of basic items to Argentina, because of the refusal of the Argentine government at the Rio de Janeiro conference of 1942 to rally unconditionally behind US belligerence.


The reader must excuse the transcription in extense of the previous quotes, which aim at an exact explanation of the various positions in this extremely important debate. We share the evaluation of Guillermo Lora:

Starting from 1939 the discussion held in Argentina always had the problem of unity as its core, and it did not take long to home in on the national question, which then and today had a profound importance for the Fourth International both in America, in Bolivia and in the whole world. It posed the crucial points of the revolution in the backward countries in our epoch. It is shameful that the existing histories of the Fourth International do not refer at all to this significant occurrence.

However, that is not to say that it was only this discussion which influenced the life of the Trotskyist groups of the time. We know that the Moscow Trials, with their vile accusations, together with the executions of the old leaders of Bolshevism, had a very demoralising effect on many cadres of the revolutionary and workers’ movement, including Trotskyist militants. Similarly, the assassination of Trotsky in August 1940 not only robbed the Fourth International of an irreplaceable leader, but removed one of its emblems as a movement: that of having at its head one of the leaders of the October revolution, an expression and embodiment of its organic continuity with Bolshevism. They hoped for the rapid conversion of the Fourth International – with Trotsky at its head – into a leading force when the Second World War ended and a revolutionary period opened up. In Argentina, it is possible that the desertion of Antonio Gallo from the movement – in August 1941 – is connected to these episodes, as are those of some other hesitant cadres, who were tired of their isolation. Often, though, this was hidden by using ‘personal problems’ to justify such resignations. The abandonment of Trotskyism by other leading cadres, like Pedro Milesi, at the beginning of the 1940s, was a result of the first international crisis of the Fourth International since its proclamation. This was the discussion on the nature of the Soviet state, which the Shachtman-Burnham faction of the SWP denied was a ‘degenerated workers’ state’. They saw it as a new form of class oppression. These ‘anti-defencist’ positions, which were called this due to their denial of the principle of unconditional defence of the USSR in the face of a capitalist aggression, had some influence in Argentina – at any rate, as a result of them, Milesi was expelled from the LOS in March 1941. The only member of the Executive Committee elected by the foundation conference of the Fourth International who supported them was the Brazilian Lebrun (a pseudonym of Mario Pedrosa) who went to the Southern Cone [32] to win supporters, though without great success in Argentina. Liborio Justo claims that he met with a special envoy of the ‘anti-defencist minority’ of the SWP in 1940, who did not convince him, without saying if it was Lebrun. They had more success in Uruguay, where the future section of the Fourth International emerged as an ‘anti-defencist’ group tied to the international current headed by Shachtman. Later it modified this position and affiliated to the Fourth International. [33]

These events, however, only seem to have influenced the immediate destiny of a few individual militants. The discussion on the national question, on the other hand, decisively influenced the formation, the regroupment or even the disappearance of whole organisations. This was because it decisively displaced the main debate in the International on theoretical issues such as Stalinism, the nature of the USSR, the Spanish Civil War, or on organisational questions or even personal differences, in favour of the immediate strategic problems faced by the Fourth Internationalist movement in Argentina and Latin America. From that point of view, it could not but have healthy results. Already Trotsky had shown Mateo Fossa that the press of the Fourth International in Argentina referred much too exclusively to doctrinal problems. (‘They are in Argentina. They have a series of revolutionary problems. One must deal with these problems, and resolve them in the best possible way, and not talk of Trotsky. Resolve the problems of the country – the revolutionary problems’ – thus, 34 years later, Mateo Fossa recalled the words of Trotsky on that occasion.) [34]


In 1941, the Executive Committee of the Fourth International had moved from Europe to the USA because the war and the Nazi occupation prevented its functioning. Its leadership was the most experienced militants of the SWP, Cannon, Dunne and Curtiss, and some European leaders exiled to North America so as to get some continuity of activity at the international centre. These were Marc Loris, one-time secretary to Trotsky, and Fischer. [35] The IEC had equipped itself with a Latin American department which sent letters to the groups which supported the Fourth International on that continent, and made reports on them for the international leadership. During 1941 the IEC intervened openly in the polemic between the Argentine groups. This polemic had by now spread to the majority of Latin American groups adhering to the Fourth International. Quebracho, who at the time already saw himself as the head of an international tendency against the ‘centrism’ of his opponents, wrote:

Opposed to (the LOR and the “national liberation” concept) were the socalled “Trotskyists” of Uruguay, together with the Liga Bolchevique Leninista, the Partido Obrero Revolucionario of Bolivia (though the Centro Revolucionario of Bolivia wrote ... that it shared the positions in our pamphlets) with the Partido Obrero Internacionalista of Chile. Supporting us ... in defence of “national liberation” was ... the Partido Obrero Revolucionario of Chile ... and also accompanying us was the Partido Obrero Revolucionario of Cuba.’ [36]

In fact Justo had been active in spreading his positions throughout the continent. Diego Enriquez, [37] the main leader of the Chilean POR, would end up representing his struggle against the POI as a battle against the LOS, even taking up the criticisms of the ‘ambivalent’ policy towards it followed by the IEC and Latin American Department, criticisms which Quebracho was by now making public. [38]

As for the Bolivian POR, Guillermo Lora admitted that its leadership then defended the conception of a purely Socialist revolution which ignored the national question, and this reflected the lack of clarity on the issue in the POR programme adopted in 1938.


The only pronouncement of an official nature by the IEC about the polemic was a brief set of theses written in May 1941, which largely concerned the question of the slogan of ‘neutrality’ raised by the LOR. We will reproduce the essence of it, pointing out that in its introduction it characterised the discussion as ‘very serious’, as it concerned all the colonial and semi-colonial countries:

In almost all the countries of the world, just as in the semi-colonial countries, the bourgeoisie is divided into three sectors concerning the question of their participation in the imperialist war: (1) a sector of the bourgeoisie favouring Angle-American imperialism; (2) a sector favouring German imperialism; (3) a sector wishing to be neutral in the struggle between these imperialisms. It is only under very special circumstances that the bourgeoisie of a small, or semicolonial country, can effectively be neutral ...
If the proletariat or some section of it supported the idea of neutrality and presented it as a slogan, it would only succeed if it tied itself to that section of the bourgeoisie hoping and praying that the world war would leave it alone. In spite of whatever attempt one makes to give the idea of neutrality some content which distinguishes its use by the proletariat from that which some sector of the bourgeoisie gives it, it leads inevitably to the blunting of the distinction between the revolutionary party of the proletariat and that sector of the bourgeoisie defending neutrality ... The concept of neutrality tends to evolve in a purely legalistic direction. The idea adopted is that a neutral nation can be impartial in a fight between two imperialist powers. Impartial means that whatever one allows one power, will also be allowed the other. This totally lacks the spirit of struggle against the two imperialist camps. In its apparent attitude of indifference to the victory of either camp, one cannot find the proletarian attitude that both camps are in reality one and the same and must be destroyed.
Needless to say, of course, the forces of the Fourth International cannot ever be neutral in a fight between a colonial or semicolonial people against an imperialist power. We understand perfectly that the comrades who utilise the neutrality slogan do not wish to give the impression that they would be neutral in such a case ... The slogan of neutrality in most cases leads to a passive role which does not promote the struggle against imperialism. A slogan of this nature, in consequence, cannot be adopted by the Fourth International.
The revolutionary parties of the South American countries, South American sections of the Fourth International, must use slogans which mobilise the workers and peasants of those countries against all imperialisms ... Attacking imperialism in general, not through neutrality, but through an active anti-imperialist struggle, must be directed towards the main imperialist danger at the time. In this case Yankee imperialism is lining up all Latin America behind its own aims. We must attack above all Yankee imperialism. The proletariat must clearly distinguish itself from its own bourgeoisie, which only plays at neutrality in order to win a place where it can negotiate a greater share of the loot of imperialist exploitation, or in order to sell itself for a higher price to one of the powers. Today it is American imperialism which is being assisted by the Latin American bourgeoisie. This assistance, under the mask of the defence of democracy against Fascism, must be exposed and attacked by our forces. It must be clear that only through the alliance of the Latin American masses with the American proletariat can American imperialism be defeated, together with the native bourgeoisies in their common machinations in order to preserve the Latin American peoples under their yoke.
As substitutes for the slogan of neutrality we propose: Down with the imperialist war! Down with Yankee imperialism! Against all the imperialist exploiters! For the Socialist unity of Latin America! [39]

The declaration is far from being the slogan of ‘revolutionary defeatism’, which position, however, it does not criticise. The slogan of neutrality is correctly criticised, as belonging to a sector of the native bourgeoisie. Indeed, in Argentina it was defended by the oligarchic sectors most linked with British imperialism, for whom the entry of our country into the war accelerated its passage into the orbit of Yankee imperialism. Though remaining neutral, Argentina was still the main supplier of meat to Britain during the period of the war.

Precisely because of its nature, ‘neutrality’ is not a slogan able to mobilise the masses against the war and imperialism. Purely legalist, it is a bourgeois slogan that can only translate into an attitude of pressure on the government; that is, it places the proletariat behind the national bourgeoisie. The LOR accepted the withdrawal of the slogan. It is significant that Quebracho, who was soon to launch himself into a violent battle against the IEC of the Fourth International, never made any further references in the many texts he devoted to the issue to this set of theses of the IEC, its only official ones on the problem.

In this situation what was the orientation needed to prepare an independent mobilisation of the masses? The IEC limited itself to the level of generalities, such as ‘Down with the War, Imperialism, and the Exploiters’. On the other hand, though within an opportunist perspective of pressure on the bourgeoisie (‘neutrality’), the LOR suggested that the workers should take advantage of the war to raise the issue of the expropriation of imperialist enterprises and banks, in other words, ‘National Liberation’. The perspective of a mass anti-imperialist movement, within which the Trotskyists should fight to provide it with an independent working class leadership, was one of the basic strategies in the analysis of the Fourth International concerning the war. In the ‘Emergency Manifesto’ on the war – one of Trotsky’s last writing – one can read:

By its very creation of enormous difficulties and dangers for the imperialist metropolitan centres, the war opens up wide possibilities for the oppressed peoples. The rumbling of the cannon in Europe heralds the approaching hour of their liberation. [40]


The political confusion of the IEC on that aspect was evident in a fragment of the report of its delegate, Sherry Mangan, who travelled in Argentina at the time:

... the total rejection of “neutrality” by the LOS, not only as a slogan but as a talking point, strikes this observer as containing much sectarianism and ultraleftism ... The desire for neutrality on the part of the Argentine proletariat, the rural workers, and broad sectors of the petty bourgeoisie, is passionate and profound ... that popular sentiment can be used as a point of departure for an effective explanation to the industrial workers and rural workers of: (a) why the national bourgeoisie cannot, because of its very nature, be permanently neutral and keep Argentina out of the imperialist war; (b) why a passive or merely neutral attitude on the part of the workers implies that they are tied to the national bourgeoisie, so it is not only ineffective, but contrary to their interests and those of the workers of the belligerant countries – that their natural wish not to have to end up in the imperialist slaughter can be better expressed and served by taking an active position against both imperialist camps. [41]

How did they take up an ‘active’ position? It was a problem that the IEC declaration did not resolve. Its confusion expressed itself also in the mildness of its criticism of the LOS, in contrast to its sharpness with the LOR. If the position of the latter was wrong, and the criticism of the IEC partially correct, the ‘revolutionary defeatism’ of the LOS was directly disastrous since it did not take into account that Argentina did not take part in the war, neither did it struggle against the pressures of imperialism to involve Argentina in the conflict.

In any case, since it did not wish to participate, the Argentine government had difficulties with the Yanks about that. This was the other omission of the IEC, which was the possibility of friction between imperialism and the native bourgeoisie, as the declaration only speaks of the ‘common machinations’ of both of them. After the Pan-American Conference of Rio de Janeiro this question arose in a very practical manner in 1942 in both Argentina and Chile, both neutral countries. The importance of this crisis in the relations between the oppressed country and imperialism was enormous, as it created the possibility of a mass anti-imperialist movement, that is to say of which a sector of the bourgeoisie would inevitably attempt to take control. Only three years later – in 1945 – the development of that crisis led to the birth of Peronism in Argentina. The crisis was already apparent at the time of the IEC declaration. After the 1942 conference imperialism threatened to blockade Chile including the use of military means – if it did not enter the war. Faced with the unwilling capitulation of the Chilean bourgeoisie, the POR – the section of the Fourth International in that country said:

This right to national self-determination is essentially bourgeois democratic and not Socialist. But the break in the world imperialist front is not conceivable without opening up a wide door to all the subject peoples of the earth to decide their own destiny. The Atlantic Charter itself, which neither Britain nor the USA respect, establishes as one of its points this fundamental right. In Chile, the dependent and cowardly bourgeoisie is incapable of raising this democratic banner ... The internal and external politics of Chile must be decided in Chile and not in the United States ... in Chile the only class capable of advancing a policy of this type is the proletariat and not the governing bourgeoisie.

Here one can see the influence of the positions of the LOR. But the possibility that a debate inside the Fourth International that might clarify these questions was frustrated, because at that precise moment Quebracho was already resolutely leading the LOR towards a break with the Fourth International.

The Polemic Between Quebracho and Marc Loris

In the same International Bulletin where the IEC theses, On the Slogan of Neutrality, were published, a member of the IEC, Marc Loris, published a Letter to the Argentine Comrades aimed at criticising two pamphlets which we have already quoted from: La Argentina frente a la guerra mundial of the GOR, and La IV Internacional y la lucha contra el imperialismo by Jorge Lagos of the LOS. Although in a personal capacity, Loris clearly developed the confused aspects of the IEC position. In fact, this led him to defend the positions of the LOS against the GOR.

In reply to this paragraph of the GOR’s: ‘We agitate in favour of Argentina itself, so that all the great public service companies, industrial enterprises, agricultural societies and foreign banks that at present impoverish and dominate us pass into the hands of our people’, Loris could find nothing better to say than simply: ’And the national bourgeoisie? What does one wish to say with the formula “pass into the hands of our people”? This is part of the arsenal of past epochs, left behind by all the petty bourgeois demagogues’.

A bit further on he said:

The pamphlet (the GOR) speaks likewise of the Argentine economy as “deformed” by imperialist oppression. Will it be a question of “restoring” the Argentine economy, of making it “normal”? Within the framework of imperialist capitalism, is it possible to expect that it will follow a course of harmonious development?

And later he compared ‘the author of the pamphlet’ with ... Sismondi, [42] describing his perspective as ‘reformist’. Faced with this total misunderstanding of the rale of imperialism in the backward countries, and of the different situation occupied by oppressor and oppressed countries in the imperialist system, Quebracho, far from polemicising to put it into relief, limited himself to replying dryly: ‘We were not writing so as to be read by imbeciles’.

After counting the times the word ‘Socialism’ appeared in the GOR pamphlet, Loris was scandalised by seeing ‘the proletarian revolution is presented as the instrument and the means of national emancipation!!’ Finally, Loris sprinkled his ‘demolition’ of the GOR with observations like ‘No! All this is far, very far, from Marxism ... No! Here there is no revolutionary language’ (sic). Then he goes on to criticise ‘Comrade Lagos’ praising him beforehand for having ‘corrected’ the errors of the GOR, ‘although, at times, falling into errors of a sectarian nature’. Faced with Lagos’ assertion that Argentina lacked feudal remnants, which for him was the keystone of his strategy of the purely Socialist revolution, Loris replied that such remnants existed in countries like the USA or Britain – in order then to comment:

It is not a question of transplanting the proletarian revolution onto the bourgeois revolution. But the proletarian revolution itself completes the bourgeois democratic tasks which the most advanced bourgeoisies have not been, and are not, capable of resolving.

Loris adhered, then, to the thesis of the similarity of the revolution in the advanced countries (those which had achieved their bourgeois revolution), and the backward ones (those not having gone beyond such a revolution). No revolution – in the imperialist epoch – can end in triumph except as a proletarian revolution. So one denies every difference between the programme of the revolution in a metropolitan country and in an oppressed country. Furthermore, the only moment when national oppression appears for Loris is when he sees himself obliged to criticise the following position of Lagos: ‘A war between one of our countries and one of the imperialist sectors will be an imperialist war’. In reality, the whole polemic between the Argentine groups was contained here: if the war between a semi-colonial country and an imperialist country is an imperialist war on both sides, what the devil does imperialism represent?

Loris reminds Lagos that a war between a colony and an imperialist country ‘can be’ a war of anti-imperialist defence. And nothing more. [43]

To the extent that Loris was a member of the IEC of the Fourth International, what was evident was the confusion in that leadership about the oppressed countries. He distinguished – formally – between oppressor and oppressed countries, but ended up amalgamating them. The need for the proletariat of the backward countries to fight for national liberation was denied.

This position has a precedent within the revolutionary movement, for it was held at one time by Rosa Luxemburg and Piatakov, and was criticised by Lenin in A Caricature of Marxism, for it denied the struggle for ‘national self-determination’, with the hypothesis that it was impossible under imperialism, and that the Socialist revolution meant the destruction of national borders and so the dissolution of nations. Lenin replied that such ‘unrealisability’ did not exist, but that ‘not only the right of nations to selfdetermination, but all the fundamental demands of political democracy are only partially “practicable” under imperialism, and then in a distorted form and by way of exception’. Elsewhere he pointed out that:

... it would be a radical mistake to think that the struggle for democracy was capable of diverting the proletariat from the Socialist revolution, or of hiding, overshadowing it, etc. On the contrary, in the same way as there can be no victorious Socialism that does not practise full democracy, so the proletariat cannot prepare for its victory over the bourgeoisie without an all-round, consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy. [44]

This question was particularly important in that it refers to the colonial and semicolonial proletariat. For Lenin:

... it is perfectly clear that in the impending decisive battles in the world revolution, the movement of the majority of the population of the globe, initially directed towards national liberation, will turn against capitalism and imperialism and will, perhaps, play a much more revolutionary part than we expect. [45]

If it is correct to say that the bourgeoisie of the backward countries – in the present epoch of imperialism – cannot liberate their countries nor consumate the democratic revolution, this does not mean to say that the proletariat ought not to set itself those tasks. Rather, the latter becomes part of the programme of social emancipation of the working class.

With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.’ [46]

We can see that Trotsky’s position is the opposite of Loris’.

Only the proletarian revolution can consummate national liberation in a ‘complete and genuine’ sense, but this does not mean that other classes cannot call for this task, or set themselves its realisation in a ‘partial, distorted form’. It happens thus when the national bourgeoisie (or petty bourgeoisie or even military sectors) attempt – and succeed to a greater or lesser degree – in attracting the working and exploited masses behind their nationalist demagogy. As we can see, the only way whereby the revolutionary working class can struggle with the bourgeoisie for the leadership of the exploited, is not by denying national liberation for, as Lenin indicated, ‘such a rejection would only play into the hands of the bourgeoisie and reaction’, [47] but by consistently and in a revolutionary way, raising democratic and national questions. The confusion which the position of the IEC introduced among the Argentine Trotskyists can be measured by the fact which we will see later – that its principal supporters, such as Ramos and Posadas, would later adopt pro-Peronist positions when that nationalist movement emerged a few years later.

Quebracho immediately took advantage of the obvious weaknesses in the text by Loris in order to open fire on him. In the ‘Answer to Marc Loris’ of the LOR, gibes and insults push the real political reply into the background. After treating him as a ‘disciple of Stalin’ and giving free rein to polemical verbiage, he finished with an ‘earful’:

I have lived long enough in Union Square (the seat of the SWP – author’s note) for missives such as yours not to alarm me, and my stay in that quarter of New York allowed me to see very clearly the contemptuous attitude which many pseudo-revolutionaries there, of a petty bourgeois type, have about our Latin American countries, making themselves accomplices of imperialist scorn. You, Marc Loris, are one of them.’ [48]

Another SWP leader, Charles Curtiss, showed his good instincts by showing his disagreement with the Letter of Loris although with its tone, rather than its content – in a private letter to the delegate of the IEC in Argentina, recommending to him the prudence which the letter lacks. [49]

In vain. Although Lagos himself wrote to Quebracho:

Believe me, I consider the letter of M. Loris, in which he carries out a criticism of your position and distorts it ... superficial, poor tactics and in the end counterproductive. I know that your position is not that which M. Loris criticises.’ [50]

For Quebracho the problem had ceased to be the Argentine and even Latin American ‘centrists’. From then on his enemies would become the ‘centrists’ who led the International.

The Creation of the PORS

Because of the political and organisational questions involved, the Argentine ‘case’ meant a real ‘test’ for the IEC and its capacity as the leadership of the Fourth International. In Argentina the ‘movement’ had developed with practically no contact with the international leadership, and with scarcely any written contact with its Latin American Department (DLA) until later. In a report of the latter to the IEC of May 1940 could be read:

The Latin American Commission (GAL) has tried to unite all these groups (it refers to the GOR, the LOS and the “regional” bodies) into one organisation, but up to now its attempts have failed. At first their differences were minor and of a largely personal type ... In Inicial No.7, a basic document appeared on the character of the revolution in Argentina, which tends to demonstrate that it will be exclusively Socialist. Recently the GOR has sent a letter to the CAL asking to be recognised as the Argentine section of the Fourth International ... The Inicial group has put forward the exclusion of comrade Quebracho as a condition for the unification with the GOR. The CAL has sent a text expressing its disapproval of this ultimatum ... Now the differences are taking on a political aspect, and therefore it will be much easier for us to decide which of the groups expresses the ideas of the Fourth International. [51]

We have already referred to the texts of the first intervention of the IEC in the debate. About the same time the latter decided to send a delegate to the countries of the ‘Southern Cone’ with the aim of moving towards the unification of the groups existing there. Terence Phelan (the pseudonym of Sherry Mangan) arrived in Argentina during the first months of 1941. He did so in the capacity of correspondent for the magazines Time, Life and Fortune, a job he had obtained at the request of the IEC, with the object of facilitating his trips around the world, in order to build up contacts between the IEC and different groups. Mangan had adhered to US Trotskyism since 1934.

His first stable contact seems to have been with the LOS in Argentina, and in particular with the youth responsible for its paper, Jorge Abelardo Ramos, or ‘Sevignac’. In his first report to the IEC he notes the impasse in which the LOS was vis-a-vis its slogans referring to Argentina and the world war – an impasse, we say, connected to its policy of ‘transforming the imperialist war into a civil war’ and ‘revolutionary defeatism’ in a country not involved in the war. At the time the slogan of the LOS was ‘Not a kilo of meat, not a gramme of wheat, for the imperialist powers!’ Thus it did not propose to take advantage of the war to expropriate imperialism, but merely to suspend exports. Phelan bemoaned the ‘poorness’ of this slogan, and asked himself what British and French workers would think of it. At the same time he maintained, however, that the differences between the LOS and the LOR (ex-GOR) were not programmatic, but ones of ‘application’, or tactical. [52]

Likewise his relations with the LOR quite rapidly became tense. In June the unity congress of the POR and POI in Chile took place. The result was the POR, Chilean section of the Fourth International. Phelan took part as a delegate from the IEC and Quebracho, on his own account, for the LOR. In the course of the congress, Phelan read from the ‘Letter’ of Loris quoted above and played a greeting from the LOS on a record. Justo was annoyed, but took the opportunity to put his positions on ‘national liberation’, for which the congress was grateful. Each one saw the congress as a triumph: Phelan because he believed that it had demonstrated that the unification of the groups was possible, Quebracho because he saw it as a triumph of the ‘revolutionaries’ – POR – against the ‘centrists’ – the POI.

In Argentina Phelan also noted the weakness and fragmentation of the groups of Trotskyists. Displaying great energy, he travelled throughout the country and convinced the ‘regional’ groups of La Plata, Santa Fe, led by Narvaja, and Corboda, where there were both Esteban Rey and ‘Flores’ (an early pseudonym of Posadas) – to join the unity process. Eventually, he succeeded in uniting them all in a Unity Committee in which, in August, he then proposed that the LOR participate.

The LOR accepted with reservations, as it considered that it was correct to try to clarify the positions. The committee accepted this criterion and proposed that each group present written theses. The LOS did so. The LOR did so too, but in an odd way. Quebracho was convinced that it did not concern ‘smoothing-out differences’ but a political battle in which his positions must defeat those of the ‘centrists’, and so he started publishing a series of Documents for the Unification of the Argentine Fourth Internationalist Movement, the first being a Brief Chronological Outline. In them he not only criticised the positions, but also the past activity of the rival groupings, and attempted to show the existence of a centrist current in Argentina from the very beginning of Trotskyism. Five Documents appeared, and the LOR circulated them publicly and throughout the continent, and continued to do so unperturbed even after the efforts at unity had broken down. This attracted to the LOR the sympathies of other Latin American groups, such as the Cuban and the Chilean, but it also brought upon it the wrath of the other Argentine groups and the criticism of Phelan himself who, discouraged, noted that the LOR and the LOS did not even agree on what to discuss.


In his interventions it is undeniable that Phelan gave much more importance to organisational questions than to political differences, which he tried to minimise. His contribution to the Unity Committee consisted of a huge Draft Resolution on the Organisation of the Party. There he asserted, polemicising:

Our comrade Quebracho has now quoted on various occasions, correctly, the words of our great theoretician L. Trotsky: “It is the idea that creates the cadres and not the cadres the idea”. What he forgot to mention was the context of that quote, which refers to a situation where we already have the idea. That “idea” is nothing but the programme of the Fourth International.

Quebracho retorted:

Is it good enough to be in agreement with the programme of the Fourth International to achieve unity? No! It is not enough. That programme does not resolve all the manifold aspects which pertain to the revolutionary strategy in the subject countries and only touches upon what pertains to the character of the revolution in them. Therefore there is an imperative need to complete it by facing up to, and resolving, the many points of fundamental importance for the colonial and semicolonial countries which until now have not been clarified in a precise way. And as these points are precisely those which are in dispute here, it is consequently the case, that the programme of the Fourth International in the abstract is not sufficient, but that one must clarify it and agree on how it is to be applied in Argentina. [53]

Contrary to the purpose for which it had been written, Phelan used the programme not to open up, but to close the debate. Just after the adoption of the Transitional Programme, Trotsky had praised the Trotskyists of New York, who instead of merely repeating it parrot-fashion, had set about studying how to adapt it to the concrete situation in the USA, and how to explain it to the masses.

Independently of the leadership of the Fourth International, one of its most important Latin American sections – the Cuban POR – became interested in the ‘Argentine’ debate, and put forward a more correct method and a more concrete position on the problems in dispute. Maybe its letter arrived too late (February 1942?):

... in the problem of the Argentine comrades there are two fundamental things needed ... for the unity of our forces in that country: starting from our Marxist-Leninist principles, there must be a specific evaluation of the Argentine revolutionary problem, in order to translate a general strategic line into the application of the specific tactic of struggle that corresponds to the conditions of the country. In the second place, the organisational aspects must be consistent with the previous point. We believe that this way of seeing things has not been properly interpreted by the majority of comrades, in spite of the correct insistence by the LOR on the necessity for clarity first and unity afterwards.
Given our semi-colonial status, for us the problem of national liberation, in a country where the major part of the democratic gains have not been attained, is an integral part of the general process of the permanent revolution. It is obvious that for us national liberation does not mean in any way the transfer of the imperialist enterprises into the hands of a native bourgeoisie, but the expropriation, by the Cuban state, without compensation, of such enterprises. This implies, quite naturally, the conquest of power by the Cuban proletariat. And this conquest of power will not be the Socialist revolution, because what it would do would be to combine the democratic tasks with those Socialist tasks which were possible. It would be positively national liberation, but not executed under the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, but of the working class. [54]

This position had the virtue of trying to integrate the national problems and the ‘permanent revolution’. It outlined, nevertheless, a tendency to separate – to ‘place a wall’ – between the democratic and the Socialist revolution, when it held that the taking of power by the proletariat would not be the Socialist revolution. The taking of power by the proletariat means precisely that the democratic revolution has been transformed into a Socialist one, which will carry out ‘in passing’ (Lenin) the yet-to-be-accomplished tasks of a democratic nature. Quebracho later put forward a similar conception.


Faced with the problem, it at least put a clear position. That of Phelan, on the other hand, still considered national liberation as a secondary problem, and referred to it in his text for the Unity Committee:

Argentina is a semi-colonial country, clearly capitalist (sic) and relatively advanced. This latter fact is primary and fundamental, and agreement on this is decisive. The democratic revolution, although very advanced, has not been completed. Arriving too late in this epoch of dying imperialism, the national bourgeoisie is incapable of accomplishing the remaining tasks of the democratic revolution, including that of “national liberation” from the yoke of imperialism ...
Unquestionably, in Argentina a longing, vague but intense, exists for national liberation from the imperialist yoke. Under the threat of losing not only the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie as allies, but even proletarian elements who feel such confused anti-imperialist emotion, and even delivering them into the arms of the national-Fascist-demagogue sector of the national bourgeoisie, we cannot risk disregarding that longing which, correctly understood and evaluated, can serve as an important point of departure for our propaganda.
But a point of departure for agitation is not the same thing as a slogan of “national liberation”. It describes the problem, it is not its solution. Convinced as we are that only the dictatorship of the proletariat can carry out, not only this, but all the tasks of the democratic revolution, we will have to take care in selecting our slogans, in order to avoid any tendency to blunt the class nature of our solution. Furthermore, we know the secondary and transitory position which the slogans referring to this problem must play within our programme of action. Above all we must not, through our interest in this problem, weaken even by an inch our struggle against native capitalist exploitation. Summing up, as a decisive principle in all the similar problems, we must always subordinate “national liberation” to the world proletarian revolution.

For Phelan, national liberation is not an objective problem, posed by the structure of the country and the state and its connection with world imperialism, but subjective, a ‘vague longing’ of the middle classes and some workers. His formulation for the revolutionary party appears only as a concession to those sectors, and not as the method whereby one disputes the leadership of the exploited with the bourgeoisie. The nationalist sectors of the latter are identified with Fascism. Thus Phelan put forward this argument, which he shared with almost all the left which took it up soon after, including even the Union Democratica.

Trotsky had started from the world economy, which had finally been united under capital by imperialism, in order to define the adherence of all countries to the capitalist economy. Phelan inverts it, and starts by defining Argentina as a capitalist country, and then reasons the degree of development of that capitalism – ‘relatively advanced’ – as a principle argument. The will to ‘not blunt the class nature of our solution’, and to ‘subordinate national liberation to the world revolution’, are correct, but neither Phelan nor the IEC understood the latter as did Lenin:

The social revolution cannot take place other than under the form of a period in which the civil war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie in the advanced countries unites with a whole series of democratic and revolutionary movements, comprising the movements of national liberation, in the undeveloped, backward and oppressed nations. [55]

The whole text by Phelan appears marked by eclecticism, because of his wish to conciliate, rather than to clarify, the positions in dispute.

The Unity Committee totally broke up, at least in respect of the participation of the LOR, in a series of unclear episodes. In a private letter to Curtiss, Phelan stated his belief that Quebracho was ‘crazy, without doubt mentally unbalanced’, which did not prevent him from seeing him as ‘by far the most dynamic political talent of Argentine Socialism’. He feared that his loss would convert him into ‘a new Mussolini, destined to join Fascist nationalism, in the Vargas style’. He thus alluded to the reproach attributed to Zinoviev against the Italian Socialists, of having lost Mussolini,’the greatest talent of Italian Socialism’. The private correspondence of Phelan reveals just how much the problems posed by Justo worried him in this sense. [56] In October violent disputes occurred between the LOR and Phelan over the absence of ‘theses’ from the LOR. Perhaps this was simply the way it decided to present them. As it turned out, the LOR decided to stay in the Committee only with ‘observer’ status. Phelan decided at the same time that he had already made concessions to the LOR. For Phelan the urgent need was to organise ‘the Party’. Curtiss wrote to Phelan recommending caution in order not to exclude Quebracho. Phelan replied to the IEC asking it to grant him its confidence, ‘as new concessions to Quebracho and the 27 in dispute can break up the unity of the other 75 whom I have counted.’ [57] It remains unclear whether the calling of the first congress of the Partido Obrero de la Revolucion Socialista was approved by the IEC, or simply decided by the Unity Committee and Phelan, as it was fixed in the month of December. For Phelan, the stage foreseen in his Draft had already been passed:

... I hope that I have explained what I want to say by distinguishing between the main points and secondary ones. If we find ourselves in agreement on the former, it is my firm conviction that we must proceed immediately towards unity, through organisational discussion, leaving the other points for discussion in a series of internal bulletins of the new organisation.

The LOR continued publishing its documents under the motto (originally of Plekhanov, later of Lenin): ‘Before unifying ourselves, and with the aim of unifying ourselves, we must previously delimit ourselves in a clear and decisive manner.’

In December 1941, the PORS held its congress in Punta Lara, near La Plata. The delegates numbered no more than 30 or so. Present were the old LOS, though without Gallo or Milesi now, and the groups from La Plata, Cordoba, Rosario and Santa Fe, together with a group of transport workers around the Yugoslav Medanich Orza. Among the delegates of the La Plata group was the young physics student Ernesto Sabato – well known later as a writer. Phelan actively intervened during the congress, above all in the organisational discussions. He felt that inadequate methods had prevented the Argentine Trotskyists from growing. The programmatic resolution was entrusted to Jorge Lagos and was adopted by the congress. A Central Committee was elected, whose General Secretary was ‘Carbajal’ – Narvaja. Two full-timers were employed, who were to stay in the capital, Posadas and Esteban Rey, although the latter, doubting future prospects, refused to move his family from Cordoba. The treasurer was the German Kurt Steinfeld, an exiled Austrian who led a German group in Buenos Aires that published a paper aimed at exiles from the Nazi regime. Steinfeld, who was employed at the Overseas News Agency, was an expert in handling money, and for some time organised the flight of militants, particularly those of Jewish origins, from Nazi persecution in Europe. Eventually the press was entrusted to Jorge Abelardo Ramos. The new paper was called Frente Obrero – Orgono del PORS, although its first issue appeared as a continuation of Inicial, and took over the latter’s numbering. Of the programmatic resolution, which would be expected to reflect the result of the unity discussions which have been related, a few paragraphs will be quoted:

Westinghouse well understood when it amalgamated with Slam Di Tella in order to exploit the Latin American market in electrical machinery, and General Motors and Ford well understood it when they reopened their assembly workshops in this country and paid for such vast factories. The very permanent slogan “national liberation” which elements such as Marianetti presume is achievable by a popular government of National Liberation has been created concretely by the financial oligarchy with the direct support of Yankee capital.
The present situation is not a “deformation” of the national capitalist economy, but its authentic form. The Argentine bourgeoisie is incapable of struggling, or of attempting to struggle, against imperialism. Therefore the struggle against imperialism must mainly be a struggle against the national bourgeoisie which holds political power for the national and foreign exploiters.
It is necessary to recognise that a war by the Argentine Republic, whichever sector of the bourgeoisie holds power with whichever one of its imperialist allies, would be an imperialist war. [58]

The resolution not only maintained the positions taken before the discussion, but totally ignored Phelan’s text. His eclecticism meant that his intervention totally lacked any political influence. Shortly after the congress Phelan went back to the USA, where he asked for the recognition of the PORS as the official section of the Fourth International.



(By the author except where othewrise stated)

25. For UCR see note 11 above.

26. Liborio Justo, Estrategia Revolucionara, Buenos Aires 1967, p.77.

27. FORJA or Feurza de Orientacion de la Joven Argentina. A youth group of the Union Civics Radical which wanted a nationalist orientation which would continue and go beyond the limits of ‘Irigoyenism’. Some of the opponents of the conciliatory Radical wing of Alvear, such as Jauretache and Dellipiane, participated in the FORJA. They derived inspiration from the works of the nationalist writer Raul Scalabrini Ortiz. Some later went into Peronism and others were accused of Nazi links.

28. Apristas, or supporters of APRA – Alianza Popular Revolucionara Americana. This was a nationalist party founded in Peru by Haya de la Torre in the ’thirties. Originally a left wing party with continental aspirations for the whole of Latin America, it is now a conservative force in Peru. (Editor’s note)

29. Justo, Estrategia, pp.85-86.

30. Dr Frederico Pinedo, at one time Finance Minister, was a representative of the more conservative industrialists who demanded the nationalisation of the British-owned railways in 1940 on favourable terms for the latter. The British were thinking of sell ing out anyway at that time because of their foreign exchange crisis during the war. (In the event the United States paid for British imports by Lend-Lease after 194O.) The railways were finally nationalised by Peron in 1947-48, who paid for them with exports of beef. (Editor’s note)

31. Justo, Estrategia, pp.79-80.

32. The Southern Cone refers to the shape of southern part of the South American continent, and so to the three countries of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. (Editor’s note)

33. In Uruguay Trotskyism was led by Esteban Kikich in the Liga Obrera Revolucionara. They joined Shachtman in 1940. Kikich was a most able trade union organiser and, after 1942, in alliance with the Anarchists, the Trotskyists controlled one of the three trade union federations, the other two being under Socialist or Communist influence. The Liga Obrera Revolucionara stoutly defended themselves against an attempted government and CP witch-hunt in 1942. Their influence declined in the late ‘forties, but they had been far more important in their small country, and had had a far greater implantation in the labour movement, than the Trotskyists in Argentina at that time. When much enfeebled they later rejoined the Fourth International and their later history seems a sad decline. For a period Posadas was a leading figure there. See Alexander, pp.236-245, for their history until 1971. (Editor’s note)

34. These comments were made ‘off the record’, as it were, and do not occur in the published works. They were remembered by Fossa as the text makes clear. (Editor’s note)

35. Marc Loris was the party name of Jean van Heijenoort, who for some time was Trotsky’s secretary. Oskar Fischer, the pseudonym of Otto Schussler (1905-), was a leader of the German section who functioned as Trotsky’s secretary in Turkey (1932-33) and in Mexico (1938-40). (Editor’s note)

36. Justo, Estrategia, pp.83-4.

37. Diego Enriquez is the pseudonym of the leader of the Chilean left, Adonis Sepulveda (Author’s note). The Chilean POR leader is called Enrique Sepulveda in the Historica del movimento obrero Chileno by Humberto Valenzuela, which has an Introduction by Luis Vitale. The POR was founded in September 1936 by those elements who did not want to join the Socialist Party. Enrique Sepulveda was elected General Secretary while Valenzuela was a CC member. Valenzuela was elected to important posts in the CUT (Chilean TUG) while Vitale was a national leader. In August 1965 the MIR was founded by some Trotskyists and other forces. The same Enrique Sepulveda was elected General Secretary. In July 1969 the faction of Miguel Enriquez split the MIR and kicked out the Trotskyists. (Editor’s note)

38. Justo, Estrategia, pp 79-80.

39. Internal Bulletin of the Fourth International, Vol.1, no.6, July 1941.

40. See note 3.

4l. lnternal Bulletin of the Fourth International, Vol.1, no.6, July 1941.

42. Sismondi (1773-1842), a Socialist economist criticised by Marx for proposing only to eliminate the ‘bad aspects’ of capitalism and not the mode of production.

43. lnternal Bulletin of the Fourth International, Vol.1, no.6, July 1941.

44. V.I. Lenin, The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Collected Works, Vo1.22, Moscow 1977, p.145 and p.143.

45. V.I. Lenin, Report on the Tactics of the RCP, Collected Works, Vol.32, Moscow 1975, p 482. Author’s emphasis on national liberation.

46. L.D. Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, New York 1972, p.276 – first emphases are the author’s, second in original.

47. V.I. Lenin, The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Collected Works, Vol.22, Moscow 1977, p.145.

48. Justo, Estrategia, p.158.

49. Letter from Terence Phelan to Charles Curtiss, 28 October 1941. Note by author. Charles Curtiss was a member of the SWP National Committee and was a member of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International assigned to work in Medco. (Editor’s note)

50. Justo, Estrategia, p.155.

51. Les Congres de In IV International, La Breche, Paris 1978, p.402.

52. lnternal Bulletin of the Fourth International, Vol.1, no.6, July 1941.

53. Justo, Estrategia, p.104.

54. Justo, Estrategia, p.102.

55. V.I. Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism, Collected Works, Vol.23, Moscow 1974, p 60.

56. Phelan to Curtiss, op. cit.

57. We can thus see that by 1941 the total number of Trotskyists in Argentina numbered about 100 people. (Editor’s note)

58. Justo, Estrategia, p.72.

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Last updated on 16.8.2003