Founding Conference of the
Against Imperialist War!
Unite Against Exploitation, Oppression, War and Fascism!
Forward for the Class Struggle, International Socialism, and Freedom!
Workers Exploited and Colonial Peoples of All Countries:
The founding conference of the Fourth International—the World Party of the Socialist Revolution—meeting in September, 1938, issues this appeal at a time when the greatest peril threatens the masses of the entire world and the cause of their emancipation from modern slavery.
We are confronted with the horrors of a new imperialist world war. It is a monstrous lie that the war will take place between “peaceful” and “warlike” nations, because war is inherent in capitalism itself, and every capitalist nation is engaged in the mad armaments race.
It is a monstrous lie to say that the war will be between “democratic” and “dictatorial” countries, because the “democracies” are already allied with many dictatorships and when war does break out the first victims will be the democratic rights and institutions already largely undermined in the “peaceful” countries.
It is a lie to say that the war will take place for the national independence or freedom of Czechoslovakia. That is a cruel falsehood in which Czechoslovakia is playing the same role as “poor Belgium” in 1914.
The Anglo-French imperialists, who mercilessly beat down the fighters for independence in India, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, and everywhere, recognize nothing but their ’independent right” to exploit millions of slaves, black, brown and white, throughout the world.
The capitalist world is mortally wounded. In its agony it exhales the poisons of fascism and totalitarian war, which threatens to subject the workers and farmers everywhere once more to a new and horrible servitude, and to unleash the forces of destruction which will shatter modern civilization.
In the midst of abundance, with a productive apparatus which could, well organized and directed, cover more than all the present requirements of humanity, capitalism dooms millions of men to unemployment, miserables doles, or to starvation.
The ruling class which long ago broke the chains of feudalism in the name of democracy and equality, brings together the darkest elements of reaction and the most debased of the lower depths of society to abolish all the democratic rights conquered by the people. It wants, with the dagger and fascist knout, to preserve the sovereignty it would lose through the inexorable victory of socialism.
Capitalism is utterly incapable of assuring the well being of the masses and equally incapable of assuring peace. Less than a generation has passed since the last “war to end war” and we already find ourselves on the threshold of a new world war, infinitely more horrible than the last one.
Once more the exploited are called upon to destroy each other for their respective imperialist masters. Once more the mothers of the people are called upon to become brood sows. Once more fields will be transformed into blood soaked trenches and cities into devasted tombs—so that the imperialists may preserve their profits and their colonies, or acquire new ones.
A Bandit War
All the ruling classes of the capitalist countries are bandits. Their war, whatever the pretentious and hypocritical slogans, will be a war between bandits. It will not be a workers’ war, but on the contrary, the workers, and the exploited in general, will be its victims. It will not be for democracy, since true democracy for the masses can be won only in the struggle against capitalist domination. Even the democratic rights which the masses still enjoy cannot he preserved or extended, as the example of the Spanish civil war has shown, except by methods of militant, revolutionary class struggle for socialism.
It will not be a war in the interests of the workers, since the attacks on the social conquests of the French workers of June, 1936, especially the 40 hour week, show that the defense of the most elementary economic and social interests of the masses—their daily bread and their freedom—is incompatible with the defense of the fatherland of the bourgeoisie.
Hitler, who destroyed all social gains of the German and Austrian working class, is leading the struggle in the name of capitalism against the interests of the peoples of Europe. In the midst of war threats we emphasize again that the main enemy is in one’s own country. The working class has no fatherland to defend except where it conquers and rules. No support to the war makers and to imperialist war—we say—but continuation of the class struggle in every situation and utilization of the war crisis for the overthrow of capitalist rule, i. e., the overthrow of the war and of capitalism itself!
Betrayers of the Toilers
Capitalism is bankrupt. Its social relations, its national boundaries, are strangling the economic and social development of man. It is more than ripe for socialist reorganization. Its prolonged existence can only add to unending horror and misery.
Humanity can he saved from the new barbarism that menaces it only under the leadership of the revolutionary working class, historic champion and ally of the landless and debt-ridden farmers, and of the millions of black, brown and yellow colonial slaves.
But the great tragedy of the proletariat resides today in the fact that paralyzing fetters prevent it from realizing its mission of emancipation, fetters less powerful than those of capitalism itself, but more subtly and insidiously devised. With these fetters the traditional parties of labor, the Second and Third Internationals, have bound it hand and foot.
The leaders of the Second International act as direct agents of “democratic” imperialism, helping it to soften the shocks of the class struggle, and hoping thus to preserve their position in declining capitalist democracy. The leaders of the Third International, betraying all their traditional principles and ideals, have been converted into instruments of the Soviet bureaucracy. The two old Internationals differ now primarily in the degree to which differences exist between the Anglo-French bourgeoisie and the ruling Stalinist clique.
Instead of hastening the dispatch of the putrefied corpse of capitalism into the limbo of history, social democracy and Stalinism unite to patch it up and preserve it. They have long since abandoned the class struggle. They concentrate all their efforts toward bringing the working class into the service of capitalism in the name of a falsified “democracy” or a “People’s Front” instead of destroying the monster. They support the domination of colonial peoples by their respective imperialists and offer their military aid to the same end.
Impotent Against Fascism
Neither of the old Internationals were capable of organizing proletarian resistance of fascism in Germany or in Austria. Even Spain, where the proletariat—by whose side we stand firmly and enthusiastically—has displayed its capacity to struggle effectively against the fascist beasts, the old parties sapped its resistance and brutally exterminated the revolutionary forces behind their own front, acting as agents of Anglo-French imperialism and of the Moscow bureaucracy.
In reality, by abandoning the vigilance of the working class, abandoning the independence of the workers’ movement and subordinating it to the “democratic” bourgeoisie, the old parties facilitated the victory of fascism, whose aim—to smash the proletariat as an independent movement and as a class—is partially carried out in advance by the two old Internationals.
No less traitorous is the role played by the social democracy and Stalinism in the face of the imminent war danger. More cynically than the Second International before the last war—when it at least formally took an antiwar position—the two Internationals now demand for themselves the responsibility of leading the masses to the butchery.
They have neither the desire nor the possibility of organizing the struggle against the coming imperialist war. On the contrary, completely corrupted by social patriotism and flying the pirate flag of “democratic” imperialism, the social patriots are already acting as recruiting sergeants of imperialism.
The role that they play in the defense of the Soviet Union is equally perfidious. They do not defend the great Russian Revolution, but the reactionary, usurping bureaucracy. They do not lay the bases of socialist society but sap the foundations laid 20 years ago by the Russian masses under the leadership of the Bolsheviks.
We Are Loyal to the U.S.S.R.
We, the Fourth International, loyal defenders of the U.S.S.R. against all its enemies, within and without, accuse Stalinism of having subjected the economic life of the country to the interests of the bureaucratic clique at the top. Partisans of real proletarian democracy, we accuse Stalinism of having deprived the Soviet masses of all the great liberties they won arms in hand.
The reactionary bureaucracy has established an odious, totalitarian regime by means of a regime of continuous bloody terror supplemented by gangster attacks against revolutionists abroad and the corruption of the workers’ and intellectuals’ movements. This regime discredits the name of socialism. The so-called Communist Parties are nothing but the hired agencies of this totalitarian regime, whose only world aim is the maintenance of the imperialist status quo. The Second International differs from Stalinism only in its purely verbal and superficial criticism. Bonapartism is undermining the Bolshevik revolution.
Break the Chains!
The world proletariat cannot advance without breaking the chains that bind it to the old Internationals and their policies. Anarchism, which has shown itself, particularly in Spain, to be the prisoner of its own doctrines, and which capitulated to the bourgeoisie in the name of the People’s Front, cannot make this break. Equally futile are the small centrist groups united in the London Bureau which refuse to break clearly with the old Internationals and take the road of class struggle toward internationalist revolutionary socialism.
It is only by restoring the great traditions of revolutionary Marxism, by breaking with class collaboration, social patriotism, and the priests of submission in the labor movement, and by taking the road of resolutely aggressive class struggle, by storming the fortress of the bourgeoisie, armed with the invincible weapons forged by our great masters, Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, that the exploited of the world will be able to escape stagnation and defeat and march forward like a solid phalanx toward the socialist future.
That is the road of the Fourth International! It rests upon the unshakeable foundations of the principles of revolutionary Marxism Leninism. It proudly proclaims itself the heir and perpetuator of the First International of Marx, of the Russian Revolution, and of the Communist International of Lenin.
The Fourth International
The Fourth International does not hide its aims. Its program is known to the working class. It is the program of irreconcilable opposition and of class struggle against In justice, against exploitation, and against oppression.
Above all, in the present crucial period—a period of crisis vital to the working class and all humanity—the Fourth International issues an appeal to the workers and oppressed people of the entire world.
To the French and German workers especially, who are menaced with mutual destruction in the interest of imperialism, we say: like the proletariat everywhere you hate the hangman Hitler. Like you, we are determined to destroy Fascism and all oppressive rule.
But fascism cannot and will not be destroyed by the bayonets of French imperialism. Only the independent class action of the proletariat will put an end to the hideous rule of fascism.
Unite in the unremitting class struggle against fascism and imperialist war.
Unite for the freedom of colonial peoples and against the tyranny of imperialist rule.
Unite in the only just and sacred war—the war against the oppressors, the exploiters, against their perfidious agents in the working class.
Long live the Fourth International!
Long live the International Socialist Revolution!
The Executive Committee of the Fourth International
(World Party of the Socialist Revolution.)
Sept. 17, 1932
Last updated on 11.5.2005