MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: 1948 2nd Congress of the FI
World Situation and the Tasks of the Fourth International
Resolution Adopted by the Second Congress of the Fourth International
—Paris, April 1948 
Written: November 1947 and January 1948.
First Published: June 1948.
Source: Fourth International (New York), Volume IX, No.4, June 1948, pp.98-110.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, November, 2005.
Proofread/Edited: Scott Wilson, 2006.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2005. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.
The April 1946 Conference correctly analyzed the changes brought about by the second imperialist war, changes brought about by the second imperialist war, opened up and defined the tasks of the Fourth International for the ensuing period. These remain generally valid at the present time.
The total defeat of Germany and Japan, the breakdown of France, the enfeeblement of Great Britain, completely destroyed the old balance between the imperialist powers, and opened the road to the predominant antagonism between the USA and the USSR. America emerged from the war as the main imperialist power embarked on a course of complete world domination. It finds its chief antagonist in the USSR which, despite its internal weakening, controls a vast part of Europe and Asia.
On the basis of the fundamental crisis of capitalism in the imperialist epoch, the war opened up for the world bourgeoisie a new and long period of unstable equilibrium. This means a period of economic and political difficulties, convulsions and crises, in one country after another, which inevitably set in motion great struggles of the proletarian and colonial masses. As these struggles develop and sharpen, they threaten the capitalist system as a whole.
In this period, the principal task of the Fourth International, armed with its Transitional Program, consists in transforming its sections from propaganda groups into mass parties actively participating in the daily struggles of the proletarian and colonial masses, organizing them and leading them to the conquest of power.
But in the absence of a revolutionary solution, the sharpened crisis of capitalism threatens to lead once more to fascism and to war which, this time, would imperil the existence and the future of all mankind.
Since the April Conference a number of developments have taken place, in both the economic and the political field, which enable us to render more precise our characterization of the present period, as well as the perspectives and tasks of the near future. The developments unfold within the framework of the new period of unstable equilibrium opened by the war, a period which is far from closed.
I. The Economic Situation
Western Europe and the United States
The immense destruction, impoverishment and inflation caused by the war in Europe, as well as in some of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, and the resulting dislocation of the world market, have been responsible for the extremely irregular nature of the economic revival in these countries, as generally foreseen by the documents of the April Conference. This irregularity of the economic revival has been further aggravated by the unbalanced economic relations between all these countries and the United States, resulting from the war.
The effort made during the year 1945 to revive the economy in Western Europe and in the colonial and semi-colonial countries affected by the war, brought only slow and meager results. Production rose, in varying degrees from one country to another, especially during the first part of 1946. But only in exceptional cases, in certain countries, were the already low 1938 production levels exceeded. The development of production in all these countries, especially the European and including Great Britain, was largely due to American food shipments and the supply of industrial equipment financed by American credits.
Since the last quarter of 1946, production has shown a tendency to level off in most of these countries. In the following year, as the last dollar reserves were being exhausted, the economic situation threatened to become catastrophic, in France and Italy as well as in Great Britain.
Furthermore, Anglo-American efforts to revive the economy in Germany and accelerate its reconstruction have so far brought no appreciable results.
The Marshall Plan, that is, the plan for new US financial aid to the Western European countries extending over a number of years, aims at delaying catastrophe and developing European economy under American control, within limits compatible with US economic interests. However, to continue for some years to subsidize essential exports to the European countries does not in any case mean that it will be possible to restore even the pre-war economic equilibrium.
Between the two world wars, the deficit in the trade balance of decadent European capitalism was made up by returns on capital invested abroad and by receipts for services rendered: freight, commissions, etc. The war has largely eliminated these sources of revenue.
Only a sizable increase in production and the opening of new markets could enable European capitalism to make up these losses and restore a favorable balance of payments, which would save it from the necessity of constant recourse to ever increasing US loans*. The Marshall Plan does not stop the one-way traffic of goods and services to Europe and the accumulation of debts to the US. This is at the root of the complete dislocation of postwar world economy.
In the immediate period, however, the Marshall Plan will help to alleviate the critical nature of the economic situation in Europe, to postpone the catastrophe that would threaten the Western European countries should American credits be halted, and to enable these countries to meet their most immediate industrial needs and the feeding of their populations.
The US for its part must continue, if not increase, the export of goods and services, in order to maintain production at its present level and to postpone the outbreak of the economic crisis.
But the maintaining of American exports at present levels by grants of additional credits, even though depriving the other capitalist countries of the markets they need for their own development, will not play a decisive role in forestalling the crisis in the US. As a matter of fact, total US exports represent only a very small part of the country’s total production. The principal market of the US is largely internal.
For some time, American economy has been showing signs pointing to the coming depression. US production, after reaching a very high level by the second quarter of 1947, has since been stagnating, while prices continue to rise. The downward, curve of the purchasing power of the home market is becoming more pronounced, while there is no appreciable increase in exports.
The Asiatic Countries
The economy of the Asiatic countries, which had a powerful share in world trade before the war, continues to suffer from the consequences of the war and from their troubled internal situation.
Japan, which before the war was the chief industrial and commercial country in the Far East and whose economic position was analogous to that of Germany in Central and South Eastern Europe before the outbreak of the world war, has almost disappeared from the world market. Her economy depends almost entirely on American imports, subsidized by credits.
India is endeavoring, but with little success, to fill the place of Japan, which was the only great Asiatic country that experienced any considerable development of its industrial and financial apparatus during the war.
China, exhausted by its long resistance against Japanese domination, continues to be the battlefield of a bitter civil war, which is draining its resources and preventing its economic rehabilitation. The result is astronomical inflation and increased misery for all the exploited layers of the population; and this is seriously undermining the stability of the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship.
The troubled situation in Indonesia, Burma, Viet Nam, retards the economic reconstruction of these countries, which are producers of important raw materials, and restricts their participation in world trade.
An analysis of the world economic situation shows that a real revival of capitalist production faces numerous obstacles of an economic and political nature. The war not only intensified the death agony of capitalism, but rendered capitalism incapable of restoring the world market and a balanced development of world trade.
American economy, on which the rest of the capitalist world leans heavily, is itself menaced by an economic depression in the near future, which in turn threatens to upset world economy before it has reached relative stability.
The USSR and Its Satellites
Soviet economy enjoyed a favorable harvest of wheat and other agricultural products in 1947, which enabled the bureaucracy to improve the supply of bread and other foods for the population.
The results reportedly achieved by the Five-Year Plan seem to indicate that industrial production in general is proceeding according to schedule, but that certain key industries—for example, timber, agricultural machinery, building materials, smelting, paper, rubber, certain coal mines—are lagging considerably. However, this production effort is due primarily to the intensification of control over the workers by the bureaucracy, while the productivity of labor continues to decline.
To combat the downward trend of the productivity of labor, the Soviet bureaucracy has proceeded to a general revision of the production norms that determine wages. This revision, which establishes piece rates in both industry and agriculture, proceeds from an increase in the required minimum of compulsory production in relation to the established wage, and signifies an intensification in the exploitation of the labor power of the Soviet workers. Thus the progress in reconstruction benefits only the Soviet bureaucracy and the privileged layers of the Russian proletariat, while the great mass of workers is forced to work and live under worsened economic and political conditions.
In the European countries controlled by the USSR, tangible economic progress has been realized due to the application of the various “plans” worked out by the Stalinist-dominated governments, and particularly due to the “social peace” maintained by the Stalinist parties in these countries.
To counteract the Marshall Plan in Western Europe, the Soviet bureaucracy tries to develop trade relations between the USSR and the different countries under its control and to create a sort of closed economic circuit centered around the USSR. But these countries retain their fundamentally capitalist structure. They are burdened, moreover, with the reparations taken by the USSR and by the fact that, through the Soviet-owned enterprises established locally, the USSR diverts another part of their production. Consequently, their economic situation, far from encouraging an orientation toward the USSR, on the contrary emphasizes the need of trade with the West and imports of American capital and industrial products.
The interests of the Soviet bureaucracy compel them to hasten the integration of the economies of these countries into the USSR, and to speed up their industrialization.
Wherever this process of industrialization is carried out bureaucratically, wherever American capital and industrial goods are kept out and the USSR is itself incapable of supplying such assistance, the development of these economies will proceed through the imposition of the Russian system of piecework, sharp wage differences and drafted labor. These factors, along with the increasing burden of war preparations, indicate that these countries will suffer from the same pressures and the same contradictions as Soviet economy, and that they will develop industrially only at the expense of the living standard of the workers.
A truly progressive development of these countries requires, not the creation of a closed economy, but the unification and socialist planning of their economies, and the extension of their economic ties with the most advanced countries of the West, as well as the rehabilitation and unification of German economy.
II. The Development of International Relations
The antagonism between US imperialism and the Soviet Union, which dominates world relations, has led to an increasingly stiffened attitude in both Washington and Moscow. US imperialism has succeeded in tightening its encirclement of the USSR and of the countries controlled by the latter, and has continued its offensive against the USSR in all fields, diplomatic, economic, political, military and propagandists.
The UN has gradually become an open agency of US diplomacy, frustrating all the attempts of the Stalinist diplomats to push through their policies. The setting up of the “Little Assembly” has to all intents and purposes neutralized the operation of the veto, which had been the last-ditch defense stand for Stalinist diplomacy. Economic aid to the capitalist countries of Western Europe, systematized in the Marshall Plan, gives powerful support to Wall Street’s policy which aims at placing these countries under exclusive American control while eliminating the Communist parties from the governments.
The reconstruction of Western Germany under the aegis of the US would create, in the heart of Europe, the most powerful lever for the future economic and political disintegration of the countries of the Soviet “buffer zone.” Meanwhile Japan, Germany’s counterpart in the Far East, is already under exclusive US control.
At the most exposed points of the US-Russian front—in Greece, Turkey, Iran, China, Korea—American diplomatic, economic and political pressure is combined with the use of purely military means.
An anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda campaign, set in motion with all the enormous means at the disposal of US imperialism, is in full swing in America as well as in the countries under its influence. The object of the campaign is to win public approval for the “cold war” America is now waging against the Soviet Union and at the same time to prepare for the shooting war when and if Wall Street finds it necessary.
US policy is becoming more aggressive as the expansionist needs of US imperialism on the world market grow and as military production acquires greater importance for American economy.
At the present time, by the use of increased pressure in every field, Washington aims to sharply change in its favor the relationship of forces between the US and the USSR established at the end of the war, and to induce the Soviet Union to negotiate as favorable as possible a compromise. US imperialism would naturally prefer to attain its objectives by peaceful means. It has not exhausted all the possibilities for peaceful world expansion, and will feel itself in an economic impasse only after the deepening of the crisis, the outbreak of which, in any case, does not yet seem to be immediately ahead.
There are additional reasons why US imperialism would like to postpone a military showdown. In spite of its superiority in atomic armament, the strategic US positions on the world front are still very weak. The instability prevailing in Western Europe and the Asiatic countries makes unlikely any immediate effective aid from these countries against the powerful Soviet armies. These armies are stationed at their very borders and are reinforced by the virtually intact forces of the Communist parties in all these countries.
The outbreak of a war under present conditions would mean its rapid transformation into an international civil war, the outcome of which would be hazardous.
Before plunging into war, US imperialism would have to feel itself in a real economic impasse and would have to have established, in both Europe and Asia, solid strong points that would lead it to believe it could deal swiftly and effectively with the world “chaos” inevitably resulting from such a war.
Like fascism, war is in the last analysis the final phase in the cycle of capitalist economic and political development. However rapidly this cycle may come to a close, we are at present witnessing only its first stage.
The time when the economic crisis will break out in the US, and the extent of the crisis, will largely determine the development of that country’s policy and will in any case step up the race between war and revolution.
In the face of the aggressive US policy, the Soviet bureaucracy has reacted by consolidating its control over the countries in its zone and by stiffening the opposition of the Communist parties in the capitalist countries which are slipping into the American orbit.
The intimidations and purges of recalcitrant or hostile political groups and leaders, which took place in 1947 in most of the countries in the Soviet zone, as well as the events of February 1948 in Czechoslovakia, aimed at neutralizing and atomizing any opposition from the right and the left. The outcome was domination of these governments by the Communist parties. Parallel with this political action, the Soviet bureaucracy, directly or through its agents, the Communist parties, intensified the application of economic measures in all these countries. They imposed various production “plans” and trade agreements with the aim of tying these countries economically closer together and of binding them to the USSR. Thus the Stalinist bureaucracy sought to keep them as an autonomous zone, away from the attraction of the orbit of the Marshall Plan countries.
In answer to the heightened pressure of US imperialism, and faced with the fact that the Communist parties were forced out of the governments in the capitalist countries and became isolated in relation to the other bourgeois and “socialist” parties—faced, that is, with the manifest failure of their policy since the “liberation”—the Stalinist bureaucracy decided on a turn, which was proclaimed with the establishment of the Cominform in September 1947.
The antagonism between the US and the USSR, while thoroughly dominating the international scene, does not completely eclipse secondary conflicts between the powers nor does it eliminate other important factors in the political developments in other countries.
Germany remains the focal point in the relations not only between the USSR and the US but also between the other imperialist powers. The dependence of Great Britain and France upon American imperialism—which has increased greatly in the past year—is demonstrated, among other ways, in the case of Germany. The policy envisaged by these two countries at the end of the war, aiming to take advantage of the US-Soviet conflict in order to maintain an intermediate position in the form of an independent Western European bloc, has suffered complete failure. On the other hand, the fear of a new Soviet drive—an increasing fear since the February 1948 events in Czechoslovakia—has precipitated the negotiation of alliances between the Western European countries (Five-Power Pact, French-Italian talks). Far from promoting the independent position of these countries such alliances increase their dependence on the US, which is the animating and guiding spirit behind these arrangements and which alone can make them effective.
Great Britain, whose enfeeblement necessitated a series of retreats in India, the Middle East and Europe as well as the partial abandonment of the Imperial Preference System, to the advantage of its overpowering partner, the United States, has also reluctantly had to relinquish lo the latter the economic and political control of “Bizonia” in Germany.
France, compelled to rely increasingly on American aid, had to confine herself to verbal protests against American policy in Germany, and to give up practically all hope of replacing Germany as Europe’s pivot of reconstruction under US control. France has had to be content with economic annexation of the Saar, and with continuing to claim a share in the “international control” of the Ruhr.
In the Western Hemisphere, US economic, political, and military pressure on the other countries of the two continents has succeeded in cementing the reactionary bloc of these countries against the USSR under the aegis of the US. It has succeeded in unifying the military organizations of these countries, reinforcing the offensive of the Latin-American bourgeoisie against the proletariat.
But the world policy of US imperialism, far from promoting the advance of Latin-American capitalism, actually constitutes its main obstacle, since this policy stands opposed to the industrialization and autonomous economic development of these countries. Further evidence of this can be found in the role that US imperialism assigns to the Latin-American countries in connection with the Marshall Plan. They are to put off their projects for industrialization in order to supplement the needs of European economy in the matter of raw materials and food supplies—and thus they must continue to depend exclusively on the US for what they need in industrial products. Certain sections, however, of the Latin-American bourgeoisie (Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela) have taken advantage of the conflict between the US and the USSR, and have derived therefrom a few limited economic advantages.
Different situations are developing in Asia, under the general sign of persisting political and economic instability.
Japan is under strict economic and political control by the US. American policy aims at transforming this country into the chief economic and strategic base of Yankee imperialism in the Far East.
In India, the partition into Pakistan and Hindustan, instigated by Great Britain, far from hastening the day of independence from the imperialist yoke, has plunged the country into confusion and even greater powerlessness—to the advantage of British imperialism and the native reactionary forces.
The Indian bourgeoisie has proved incapable of conducting a consistent and effective struggle against foreign imperialism and of solving the problems of the democratic and national revolution.
Only the proletariat, which has considerably increased in numbers and social importance since the last war and which has resolutely taken up the struggle against the native bourgeoisie, is capable of becoming the motive force of the Indian revolution, and directing it on the road to establishment of the Socialist Federated Republic of India.
In China, the struggle between the Moscow-supported “Communist” armies and the Washington-supported armies of Chiang Kai-shek has assumed the proportions of full-scale warfare, into which both sides are throwing more and more new forces, both material and human. The stake in this struggle between the two opposing camps is control of the key economic and strategic positions in this important part of the Asiatic continent.
Up to now the pro-Soviet armies have made considerable gains, winning control of almost all of Manchuria. In this they have been greatly aided by their policy of introducing agrarian reforms in the territories they occupy.
But there can be no solution for the Chinese masses unless the struggle of the peasant armies is linked up with the struggle of the workers in the big cities of the south, and the joint struggle conducted within the framework of the objectives and the perspectives of the proletarian socialist revolution. Such a solution presupposes the forming of a new revolutionary leadership which, in action, will wrest the leadership of the movement from the Stalinists, who are fighting in the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy’s world strategy and not for the national and social liberation of the Chinese masses.
Chiang Kai-shek, facing increased pressures from the Yenan armies in the North and the proletarian mass movements that have revived in the big southern centers since 1946, has put an end to the “democratization” measures with which he tried to win a social basis for his shaky dictatorship. With the constant help of American imperialism, he tries to retain power by resorting more and more to brutal force—but with less chance of success than ever.
All the efforts so far made by US imperialism to stabilize the regime in China and to open this immense market to intensive exploitation, have failed. This failure partly accounts for the special attention that Washington has recently centered on Japan.
In Indonesia and Viet Nam, neither Dutch nor French imperialism has achieved any decisive result by force of arms. The present situation is one of unstable equilibrium between the opposing forces.
In the Middle East, despite the growth of the proletariat and the development of the trade union movement, despite the latent unrest which from time to time breaks, out in strikes and demonstrations, the present feudal leadership of the national Arab movement remains unshaken.
The Arab League, set up by great Britain- against the USSR and as a stabilizing factor against internal convulsions, has served to back up the demands of the Arab states and to strengthen their bargaining power in the negotiating of more favorable treaties with British imperialism (Egypt, Iraq).
For thirty years the policy of imperialism has been to create a Jewish minority in Palestine. The outcome of this policy is that imperialism has succeeded momentarily in diverting the national struggle from an anti-imperialist to an anti-Jewish struggle.
It is possible that when the struggle in Palestine assumes the form of full-scale civil war, US imperialism — which cannot allow its “defense belt” to be broken by a war within it — will send troops to subdue the warring parties. Under such circumstances, the Arab masses will once again face the prospect of direct imperialist domination, .and the national struggle will be carried to a higher plane.
In all the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the upsurge of the masses has not succeeded in solving any of the tasks of the national democratic revolution, primarily because of the lack of a revolutionary proletarian leadership. But neither has imperialism so far been able to reestablish stable relations for exploitation.
III. The Social Conflicts
The polarization, in world relations, between the USSR and its satellites on the one hand, and the camp of the capitalist countries under the aegis of US imperialism on the other, is developing parallel with a sharpening of the class antagonisms and an increased polarization within many of the capitalist countries.
US imperialism, embarked on its course of world domination, must seek to become undisputed master at home. At the end of the war, however, it was challenged by a tremendous strike wave that showed the entire world the latent revolutionary power of the American working class. Wall Street had to yield temporarily and to circumvent this challenge instead of meeting it head-on.
But the powerful upsurge of US labor remained confined to the economic field. The top trade union bureaucracy, allied with the old capitalist parties, prevented it from gaining political expression. This permitted the bourgeoisie to organize without hindrance its counter-offensive, which culminated in the vicious anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. Combined with the anti-union drive, the capitalists launched a vicious red-baiting campaign. Both served as domestic counterparts of its anti-Soviet and anti-Communist foreign policy.
Although the counter-offensive of the American ruling class has been largely successful in all its aspects, thanks to the reactionary and cowardly role of the labor bureaucracy, its effect upon the working class has not been that of a crushing defeat. Resistance to the repressive regulations of the Taft-Hartley Act has been relatively weak. The bulk of the AFL and CIO, including the formerly very progressive United Auto Workers, comply with its provisions. Only the miners, the steel workers and the railroad trainmen, etc., have taken a clear decision to challenge the law. These groups are not a negligible force; they represent important numbers in key industries. The relatively young American working class has not been fully aware of the implications of the counter-offensive of capitalism. The revolutionary party is still too small for effective intervention. But the interconnection between Wall Street’s reactionary role abroad and its anti-labor drive at home is becoming increasingly clear. Rather than benefiting from imperialist expansion—as was the case in nineteenth century Britain—the workers in America have to pay for it from the first and are its first victims.
This dawning realization, and the inflationary process eating into the living standards of the American workers, are preparing the ground for new social explosions in the United States. The approach of the economic crisis can only accelerate their outbreak. That this time the upsurge of labor will take on political form is indicated by the general trend toward independent political action in the trade unions. At present this is strongest on a local scale, and still isolated. But the fact that the last national convention of the conservative American Federation of Labor gave up its tradition of “hands-off” politics and, following the more advanced CIO, organized its own “Labor Political and Educational League”—is a significant sign of the times. The success which the Wallace movement is enjoying at present is another similar indication. This movement is a bourgeois attempt to channel the broadening current of politicization of the American working class, and to divert the latter away from the building of an independent labor party and toward the road of a “liberal” and “pacifist” third capitalist party. The next period in the US may well see a tremendous politicization of the working class, and repeat on the political field the stormy rise of the CIO in the 1930’s. In Western Europe, American imperialism has not as yet found a solid base of support in the existing regimes, in spite of the considerably improved position of the bourgeoisie since the “liberation.” The coalition governments that followed one another after the “liberation” with the participation of the CP and SP, proved impotent. The persistence and, frequently, the aggravation of inflation, of food shortages and, in certain countries (Italy), even of unemployment, are responsible for growing discontent, especially among the petty-bourgeois masses, who are turning away from the left in order to look elsewhere for a stable regime. This holds true, within certain limits, also for Great Britain. There, the radicalization of the masses expressed itself in a landslide that swept the Labour Party to power in 1945. The policy of the Labour Government has featured a “socialism” which permitted the capitalists to hang on to their profits while “equalizing” an austerity that has meant increasing restrictions on the living standards of the broad masses. Under these circumstances, a rightward swing of the petty-bourgeois masses was inevitable. As the last municipal elections show, the Tory party of Churchill has been able to profit from this. But, at the same time, these conditions produce a greater polarization within the Labour Party—which retains its monopoly over working-class politics. A conflict between the left wing representing the socialist aspirations of the workers, and the right wing that constitutes the government, is in the offing.
In France and Italy, the polarization is taking place at a quicker pace than anywhere else. In France, the reactionary regroupment around de Gaulle, the Rassemblement du Peuple Français; in Italy, the various neo-fascist movements and the strengthening of the Catholic center—all these express the new reactionary orientation taken by the petty-bourgeois masses disappointed by the failures of the traditional workers’ parties. But nowhere in Europe, not even in Greece, has the bourgeoisie as yet been able to inflict a decisive defeat on the proletariat and set up a strong regime with any stability. The working class retains its strength and fighting spirit. This was shown in the great workers’ struggles during 1947 in France and Italy, and to a lesser extent in Belgium, Holland and Great Britain.
These struggles opened a new stage in class relationships and particularly in the relations of the proletariat with its traditional leadership. For the first time since the “liberation,” broad layers of workers entered the struggle to defend the living standards against the galloping rise in prices and against food shortages. They drove their leadership into action and even went over their heads when the leaders refused to act.
The experience acquired by the masses in the course of these struggles, and the clearer character of the reactionary menace in France and, to some extent, in Italy also, led to an increased politicization of the workers’ struggles.
The bourgeoisie, aware of its precarious economic situation and the fighting power of the proletariat, is advancing cautiously in its economic and political offensive. It will endeavor, as long as it can, to prolong the existence of the “right-center” cabinets, which, on the parliamentary field, replaced the “left-Center” cabinets in France and Italy after the exclusion of the Stalinists from the governments. It looks for an improvement of its economic situation in the near future through the application of the Marshall Plan, and for a possible compromise being worked out with the USSR after a period, which would soften the opposition of the Communist parties.
However, only the broadening and the coordination of the workers’ struggles, on the basis of a revolutionary program, combining the elementary economic and political demands of the masses with those leading to the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ power, can effectively stop reaction. Only a bold struggle for power can lead the petty bourgeoisie back into the orbit of the working class.
In any case, should there be a continued sharpening of relations between the US and the USSR, and an increasing polarization of social antagonisms, and should the traditional working-class parties continue powerless, it is probable that the reactionary menace will take on concrete form in France and Italy. Under such conditions, it is also probable that these two countries will become the theater of a bitter civil war between the forces of bourgeois dictatorship and the masses. In such an event the Stalinist parties, with their very existence threatened should there be no immediate likelihood of a compromise between the USSR and American imperialism, would have no alternative but to fight, even with arms, as in Greece; the same would be true even if, in France for example, de Gaulle should come to power by “constitutional” means.
In the colonial and semi-colonial countries also, the social antagonisms are developing sharply.
In Latin America, the passing prosperity of the war gave way to an acute economic crisis, revealed in the spread of inflation and, in part, of unemployment.
The first revolutionary wave in Latin America was a reflection of the worldwide upsurge of the proletariat in 1945. Because of the economic situation, because of the condition of the trade union and political movement of the working class, and the greater specific weight of the national bourgeoisie today, the latter—and together with them, the petty bourgeoisie—were able, in a number of countries (Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, etc.), to capitalize on the revolutionary movement. The petty-bourgeoisie in these countries began to concentrate on opposition to imperialism. Since the economic and political weakness of the colonial bourgeoisie derives essentially from its fear of revolutionary movement of the masses, the petty bourgeoisie is compelled—because of its powerlessness and its contradictions, and the lack of any historical perspectives for capitalism—to curb the mass movements, to turn them away from their historic road and their revolutionary aspirations. Incapable of confronting imperialism in a revolutionary way, the petty bourgeoisie paralyzes the revolutionary movement of the masses. Further capitulations, various diplomatic maneuverings, political and financial speculations—all these have brought profits to the petty bourgeoisie in the form of concessions (primarily Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba). At the same time, the tremendous economic, political and military pressure of Yankee imperialism drags all the national bourgeoisies along in the US anti-Soviet campaign of preparation for a third world war.
Although the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie have capitalized, to their own advantage, on the revolutionary wave of the proletariat, the latter has been able to make a number of economic and political gains, which the bourgeoisie is now constantly trying to wrest from it. The proletariat was curbed and deceived in its revolutionary political upsurge by the demagogy of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie, by the Stalinists’ reformist and bureaucratic and bourgeois policy of class collaboration, by the pro-imperialist policy of the SP and the organizations of the “democratic” petty bourgeoisie.
But this first revolutionary wave has left a profound impress. It was the first political experience in which the masses demonstrated their revolutionary desire to intervene as a class in resolving the national problems. The national bourgeoisies are trying, both in their own interests and because of the constant pressure of imperialism, to liquidate every trace of political experience in the working class, so that the latter will be unable to use this experience for its own class interests. The bourgeoisie is trying to prevent any independent class activity of the proletariat, and to constantly rob the latter of all the democratic, economic and political rights already won. They are trying to load on to the working class the entire burden of the inflation and all the consequences of the high-tariff policy, etc.
Throughout Latin America the bourgeoisie is trying to liquidate, slowly but steadily, every movement of the working class. The proletariat is still disoriented, and subject to the combined pressures and deceptions of the Stalinists and the national bourgeoisies, as well as of imperialism and its SP and petty-bourgeois agents in the camp of labor. But despite the lack of a revolutionary leadership—in view of the weakness of the Fourth International there—the working class is showing its force in the strikes occurring in the principal countries (Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, Chile).
In the African colonies of French imperialism, as well as in Egypt, and in the Arab Middle East, the young workers’ movement is distinguished, since the war, by its first appearance as an independent political factor, fighting not only foreign imperialism but its own possessingÈ classes.
In Japan, despite American occupation, the workers’ movement is developing, as a serious force. Particularly notable is the rapid growth of the trade unions, the scope of the great strike struggles and the political success of the Socialists in the elections. All this constitutes the first stage in the radicalization of the Japanese masses.
In India, with the ostensible retreat of British imperialism from the political scene and with the native bourgeoisie coming to the fore, the class struggle has been sharpened. Faced with innumerable problems and demands that are agitating the great masses of exploited workers and peasants, the native bourgeoisie, incapable of offering a solution, hardens its reactionary attitudes toward the masses while at the same time it finds its own internal disagreements increasing. The crisis in the Congress Party (the split of the Socialists, etc.) has grown rapidly since the assassination of Gandhi, and indicates the Indian bourgeoisie has entered a long period of increasing political difficulties.
These difficulties cannot fail to help the development of the revolutionary party. Mass strikes in all the big industrial centers of the country—often led by Trotskyist militants—mark the powerful awakening of the working class against the Indian bourgeoisie and their feudal and imperialist allies.
In China, the new wave of reactionary measures undertaken by the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship have far from crushed the will to struggle of the proletariat of the big cities of South China, who are fighting for their democratic rights and to maintain their living standards against the ravages of fantastic inflation.
In general, the workers’ movement throughout the world continues to give proof of its vitality and of the determination of the masses to throw off the yoke of the exploiters. In certain European countries, notably Greece and Italy; in some of the countries of the Soviet “buffer zone” (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria); in Latin America (Chile, Brazil, Bolivia); and in Asia (Japan, Korea, India, Viet Nam, Indonesia)—in all these countries the workers’ movement has developed far beyond anything it had achieved previously.
IV. The Situation in the Labor Movement
The labor movement emerged from the last war grouped mainly behind the Stalinist organizations. This was true throughout the world. However, an unceasing differentiation within its ranks has been in progress.
The proletariat originally turned toward the Communist parties in the hope that they would play a revolutionary role. In this sense, the gigantic growth of Stalinism at the termination of the imperialist war once again showed the determination of the proletariat to have done with the bloody chaos of the capitalist system. However, nowhere have the Stalinist parties justified the hopes of the exploited masses. On the contrary, their opportunist policy of class collaboration in the face of a situation demanding radical solutions has gradually sown discontent and confusion among the proletariat, while the petty-bourgeois masses, who at first had placed their trust in the Communist party, are turning toward the right.
The Socialist Parties
The Socialist parties have retained their base mainly in the European countries, although they have lost a large part of their worker elements to the Stalinists. This is proof that the masses cannot complete their experience with reformism in the absence of a genuine revolutionary party. The conservative role of tradition and the existence of an apparatus have also been contributing factors. An additional reason for the survival of the Socialist parties is this, that their principal social base, in the imperialist epoch, consists of petty-bourgeois elements who, because of their social position and their mentality, are constantly wavering between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. They can be attracted to the latter only at decisive moments of the class struggle and provided there is a strong revolutionary party which is able, because of its power, to overcome their hesitations and draw them toward the revolution, or else neutralize them.
The loss by the Socialists of part of their working-class support to the Communist parties at the end of the war was a general phenomenon varying only in degree in most of Europe and the world. In the Scandinavian countries, in England and Australia, that is, wherever the traditions of the Socialist parties were strongest and the objective situation of capitalism relatively better—the radicalization of the masses found its main expression in the growth of these parties. But throughout the rest of Europe and the world, the radicalization of the working class expressed itself in the growth of the Communist parties at the expense of the Socialist parties.
In France, in Italy and certain countries of the Soviet “buffer zone,” the Socialist parties suffered their greatest losses to the Communist parties. Subsequent developments considerably altered this situation. In the countries under Soviet control, where the masses went through a more decisive experience with Stalinist policy, there was a new shift of the workers toward the Socialist parties, which polarized the workers’ discontent with the nationalist, bureaucratic and police regime of Stalinism.
In forcing the unification of the Socialist and Communist parties into a single party, the Stalinists are trying to put a halt to this development, and to preserve their exclusive control over the working class.
In all these countries, as well as in Germany and Austria, it is the task of the organizations of the Fourth International to pay special attention to the Socialist organizations and to consider concretely the opportunities for a partial entrist tactic in these organizations, or even total entry in certain cases.
In the other countries of Western Europe and elsewhere, the Socialist parties, even though they have lost part—and sometimes a large part—of their working class base (as is particularly true in France), still constitute an important field of work for the growth of our international movement. Examples of this can be seen in France, Italy, Australia, and India. Until there emerges and is consolidated within the working-class movement another pole of attraction, opposed to the traditional parties, there will be constant shifts of the confused working masses between the Socialist and Communist parties.
Moreover, the present policy of Stalinism, far from being able to increasingly isolate the Social Democracy, helps it to maintain its base and even to increase it at the expense of the Communist parties. Conversely, the same holds true for the policy of the Social Democracy.
The real disintegration of the Socialist parties can take place only as a result of the attractive power of the Fourth International. It alone can polarize the left-centrist currents developing inevitably within the Social Democracy.
The Communist Parties
The establishment of the Belgrade Cominform in September 1947 marked a change in the policy of the Communist parties.
The Stalinist bureaucracy decided upon a “left turn” for a number of reasons: because of the increased aggressiveness of US imperialism against the USSR and its satellites, as well as against the Communist parties in other capitalist countries; because the Communist parties were thrown out of the governments; and because of the pressure of the masses, who had shown signs of growing discontent with these parties.
Within the framework of their class collaborationist policy, the Stalinists are now laying stress on the mobilization of the proletarian masses. They use the workers’ elementary demands as pressure to blackmail US imperialism and the native bourgeoisie, in order to counteract their anti-Soviet orientation and induce them to negotiate a compromise with the USSR.
The extent of this turn will depend on the development of Soviet-US relations. If the present world tension persists, if the different national bourgeoisies, at the instigation of US imperialism, continue to sharpen their anti-Stalinist policy and to threaten the very existence of the Communist parties, it is not excluded that the latter will adopt more and more an attitude of implacable opposition. They may even resort to civil war, following the example of Greece. This “turn” does not mean that the Communist parties can in any way return to a class policy, even of the kind of the “Third Period” of 1928-33. That is possible only in the case of outbreak of war.
Nevertheless, the experiences of Greece as well as the recent events in France, Italy and elsewhere show that, within the framework of a general policy of class collaboration, the Stalinist bureaucracy is capable of undertaking sharp turns in its policy. They may even go so far as to prepare for general strikes and armed struggles. But the latter is a possibility only in the event of a relationship of forces which is unfavorable to the proletariat and would allow the bureaucracy to control the movement without any risk. Nevertheless, the fact that the Stalinist bureaucracy would use such weapons, not in order to overthrow the capitalist system but only to exert pressure on the bourgeoisie for limited objectives, means that in the last analysis it conducts the struggle in an opportunist and defeatist spirit and is ready at any moment to halt and betray it.
The other aspect of the Stalinist “left turn” is its adventurist and sectarian character. On the one hand, it substitutes for the class division of society, a division into two camps, one “pro”-US, and the other “anti”-US, both of which indiscriminately include the exploited as well as the exploiters. On the other hand, it lumps under the same “pro”-US label the entire range of bourgeois parties, including the Social Democracy. This leads to rejection of the united front with the Socialist parties and to a sharpening of the split in the trade unions. And in the event that bourgeois reaction engages in a new deployment of its forces, as for example de Gaulle in France, the Stalinist policy threatens to sabotage the imperatively-needed formation of a Workers United Front, and to lead to disasters such as those which the analogous “Third Period” policy brought about in Germany between 1928 and 1933.
To the extent that it seems to take up the defense of the workers’ demands and to stand opposed to all other parliamentary parties, the new policy of the Communist parties contributes, at first, to strengthen the loosened ties between the Stalinists and the workers. From this point of view, the conditions under which our organizations function among the workers who follow the Stalinists would seem to be less favorable than was the case before the “turn.” But at the same time the opportunist and maneuverist spirit which animates the new Stalinist policy will become more evident to the masses once they have plunged into battle. The Stalinists’ fear of genuine revolutionary action makes their leadership of the present struggles hesitant and indecisive.
Moreover, the adventurist and sectarian character of the “turn” impels the Stalinist leaders to premature, isolated and irrational actions. Under such circumstances, the workers tend to become hesitant to follow Stalinist leadership, often even when the struggle revolves around their own legitimate demands. In countries like France, workers’ tend to become suspicious of Stalinist motives, particularly when they recall the treacherous CP policies of the past years (“production first,” “the strike is the weapon of the trusts,” etc.). In this situation the Stalinist domination over the workers’ movement begins to show cleavages, through which a new leadership can emerge. The policy of the sections of the Fourth International must be worked out, on the one hand, in relation to the nature and the consequences of the Stalinist “left turn”; and on the other hand, in relation to the fact that the workers are compelled to resort to struggle in defense of their living conditions.
The sections of the Fourth International must combine unity of action and the united front tactic—applied mainly on a local scale, in the factories and the trade unions—with a clear political line which shows the workers the fundamental differences between our political character and that of the Stalinists, and which educates the workers in our whole revolutionary program. And all this must be combined with a sharp and firm criticism of the various Stalinist leaderships.
The Centrist Formations
The remnants of the pre-war centrist organizations, once grouped around the London Bureau, have largely degenerated and disintegrated.
In Great Britain the ILP after the desertion of its former leading nucleus to the Labour Party bureaucracy, is vegetating.
In France, following upon the complete dissolution of the PSOP, Marceau Pivert joined Leon Blum in adopting for the decrepit Socialist Party the role of the “Third Force.”
Theoretically, this “Third Force” is supposed to be equally opposed to de Gaulle and to the Communist Party; practically, however, it has allied itself with the de Gaullist candidates against the Stalinists in the municipal elections.
In Greece, the Archeo-Marxist organization, denouncing the civil war, is collaborating in the official trade union leaderships with the agents appointed by the reactionary monarchist government. “Having to choose” between Stalinism and bourgeois democracy—“made in USA” and applied in Greece—it has in fact cast its lot with the latter.
The POUM is torn by a deep and unending internal crisis. After the first split with a right wing, the political and organizational independence of the POUM is imperiled by Maurin, its principal leader, who advocates an alignment with Western “democratic Socialism” and dissolution’ into the Spanish Socialist Party.
The current anti-Stalinism of all these organizations, which has replaced their former pro-Stalinist policy, does not at all mean a progressive development toward the revolutionary positions of Marxism-Leninism. On the contrary, it is a sign of their retrogression and merely increases their traditional opposition to the principles of Bolshevism, as well as their political confusion.
No other pre-1939 centrist organization has survived the war and retained any appreciable importance.
On the other hand, the aggravation of the crisis of capitalism and the sharpened social antagonisms in the new postwar period—coupled with the more and more manifest bankruptcy and treachery of the traditional workers’ parties—are creating strong progressive centrist currents, mainly within the Socialist parties but also even in certain Communist parties. It is possible that these new currents may, in the near future broaden considerably; and, in their development toward the revolutionary position of the Fourth International, they may greatly accelerate the transformation of our sections.
V. The Fourth International
Since the war period, the sections of the Fourth International have in general considerably increased in membership, as well as in influence among the working class.
Today, the Trotskyist movement, on an international scale, exerts an influence considerably greater than before the war. But the progress achieved is not proportionate to the objective possibilities and even less to the historic necessities. Everywhere the sections of the Fourth International face the problem of transforming themselves into genuine mass parties.
A number of sections are fulfilling this task with growing success and, by their experience, are showing our whole international movement the road to the masses. Our sections in North and South America, in India and in France, are going through their own experiences of penetrating the mass movement. Several other sections are following them on this road.
It is probable, moreover, that the gains we shall make in some countries from progressive centrist currents ire the Socialist and Communist parties will transform the physiognomy of our movement in these countries and, correspondingly, of our whole International.
Objective conditions remain favorable for the growth of our sections and their more or less rapid transformation into mass parties. The main obstacles in the present period derive from our subjective weaknesses. These are due, on the one hand, to the limited number of cadres capable of effectively intervening in the workers’ struggles; and, on the other hand, to the sectarian or opportunist conceptions which have influenced the policy of certain sections.
The lack of cadres and, above all, of qualified leaderships, is an obstacle which retards the growth of our sections and which sometimes, under the pressure of temporary adverse conditions, leads to serious crises and losses. The experience of the International since the end of World War II demonstrates that certain sections have been unable to take full advantage of objective conditions favorable for their growth, while others have even destroyed what opportunities they previously had.
To develop homogeneous and capable leaderships, to educate the cadres, to constantly raise the theoretical and political level of all the party members—this is the necessary basis for guaranteeing the growth of our sections and our successful penetration into the mass movement.
The accomplishment of this task must fall within the general framework of transformation of our sections into real mass parties — and not another retrenchment into propaganda group activities.
If we are to consolidate the gains already won and make new progress, our movement must have political cadres deeply rooted in the mass movement. To form these cadres, we must supply a theoretical and political education directly applicable to the problems of leadership and of action which confront the revolutionary party today. The experience of the International, moreover, demonstrates that the struggle against sectarianism is as necessary as the struggle against opportunism. To fight against sectarianism means to break resolutely with any form of thought or organization method which, while paying lip-service to the safeguarding of our Marxist-Leninist principles, turns its back on the real mass movement. To fight against sectarianism means to resolutely break with the circle habits of the past, when the objective situation compelled us to confine our activities largely to the elaboration of our program and to criticism of the treacherous currents in the labor movement. Under the present favorable conditions, we must demonstrate our program in action. Otherwise we are faced with the danger of stagnation and decline.
To fight against sectarianism means to fight against sterile, abstract propaganda. It means to fight against the concept that our movement can be built only by gradual recruitment of individuals and routine education. A mass revolutionary party can be built only in action. That requires, first and foremost, penetration into the labor movement as it exists.
A specific field of work must be chosen where opportunities for the growth of our movement are most favorable. Our general program must be concretized. The concrete slogans must take into account the elementary economic and political demands of the masses. Our revolutionary cadres must take an active part in the workers’ lives and struggles, in the factories and unions, and there develop a broad revolutionary tendency that will be capable of challenging the traditional bureaucracy at every step.
In the colonial and semi-colonial countries, our sections must make the boldest kind of fight for all the democratic and national demands of the masses. They must organize and lead the struggles for these objectives. They must penetrate all popular national organizations and establish solid fractions within them, working there with a long-term perspective when necessary.
But the struggle against sectarianism does not mean, under any circumstances, to yield to opportunist pressures. The problem is one of leading the masses in revolutionary struggle and not adapting ourselves to centrist positions. The members of the parties of the Fourth International have the duty to be in every real movement of the masses and in every organization which musters and mobilizes these masses; and they are not obliged to defend on a local scale, in daily action, at every moment, the whole program and complete political line of their party. But, irrespective of the more or less advanced political situation, the party permanently defends before the working class a combined program, in which the full socialist slogans are tied in with the transitional slogans appropriate to the given situation and to the elementary economic and political demands of the masses. The party never reduces its policy to the level of a minimum program, of a merely trade-unionist or democratic order.
The constant concern of all our sections must be to connect their agitation around immediate slogans, with propaganda for our complete combined program. In determining our central slogans for a certain period we must start, not from what seems to be the momentary political consciousness of the masses, under the influence of the traditional leaderships, but from the character of the period, the living conditions and needs of the masses. We must have the firm conviction that the masses, through their own experience in struggles, will inevitably arrive at an understanding of the correctness of our slogans. Our task is to move ahead swiftly and audaciously to ever higher transitional slogans as the workers’ struggles grow and deepen and to heighten the political content of the party’s propaganda and agitation. This has particularly been demonstrated by our recent experience in France and Italy.
In their effort to seek the road to the real mass movement, our sections are inevitably subject to deviations—both sectarian, which express the inertia of the past, and opportunist, reflecting the mass pressure and the ideological weakness of the cadres.
Only democratic discussion and criticism of the experience of each section by the whole of our international movement, and the well-considered intervention of the International, can offset the dangers of such deviations. Only this will make it possible for us to win the masses, not on a centrist program, but on the program of Marxism-Leninism, enriched by the new developments of the workers’ movement.
Following the end of the war, it was necessary to reconstitute the organizational unity of the Trotskyist movement and to resume connections with all organizations claiming to adhere to the Fourth International and complying with its discipline.
At the present stage it is necessary for the International, in planning its activities, to take into account the conditions which may permit a more rapid and effective growth of our movement in some countries than in others. This means assisting primarily those sections which are in process, or have the best opportunities, of becoming mass parties. Other sections will be aided in their development by the living example and the experience of those sections of the International which will have succeeded in finding a road to the masses.
VI. Political Perspectives and Tasks
The whole strategy of the International continues to be centered around the preparation of the world socialist revolution, which can and must prevent a relapse, of the proletariat and all humanity, into fascism and war. The last imperialist war opened a period of unstable equilibrium during which great struggles of the proletariat and the colonial peoples, threatening the capitalist system itself, are not only probable but inevitable. This period has not yet come to a close. The polarization of social forces is accentuated under the pressure of US-Soviet antagonism and the persistent crisis in most of the capitalist and colonial countries. This crisis, which the traditional parties show themselves incapable of solving, leads to ever greater class struggles. The outcome of these struggles in a number of key countries in the present international situation will determine the possibility of a relative stability of capitalism, or will accelerate revolutionary developments.
In spite of the tension in US-Soviet relations and the economic and ideological preparations for another war, formidable obstacles stand in the way of its immediate outbreak. A new compromise between these two powers always remains possible. The race between war and revolution will most probably accelerate when the economic crisis in the US breaks out and unfolds. But even before then, the world bourgeoisie will undergo great economic and political difficulties, convulsions and crises, which will unleash great working-class struggles. In the course of these struggles, new revolutionary forces will be emancipated from the domination of the traditional leaderships and thus enabled to regroup themselves around the program of the Fourth International.
In the USSR, the regime set up by the bureaucracy is developing in a direction which, instead of leading to its consolidation, accumulates and sharpens all its contradictions.
The capitalist world as a whole develops under the sign of an increased fundamental disequilibrium, which narrows the basis for periods of relative stability and extends the periods of convulsions and crises.
The policy of the Fourth International in the period ahead must proceed from these considerations and lay stress on the necessary and possible mobilization of the workers and the colonial masses for a revolutionary solution.
In general, the practical tasks formulated in the resolution of the April 1946 Conference, which flowed from the concrete application of the Transitional Program, are still valid, since the character of the period remains fundamentally the same.
The Fourth International in its propaganda constantly denounces the imperialist plans for a third world war, and shows that only victorious socialist revolutions can prevent this catastrophe with its incalculable consequences for humanity and for the future of socialism.
At the same time, it constantly combats the reactionary propaganda of the imperialists designed to create among the masses a fatalistic acceptance of another war. The Fourth International bases its policy on every struggle and every victory of the proletariat and the colonial peoples, and places its confidence in the revolutionary action of the masses to counteract the plans of the imperialists.
In the countries of Western Europe, particularly in France and Italy, where the polarization is the most advanced and the reactionary threat the most immediate, our sections must insist on the necessity of united action and the united front of all working-class forces, on the basis of a program which links the economic and political demands of the masses to the slogans of workers’ control, workers’ militia and a workers’ and farmers’ government.
They must tirelessly call for the formation of united front committees in the plants, in the trade unions, in the workers’ districts and the villages. These committees will become the organs for preparation and leadership of the struggles of the entire working class and other exploited layers, in defense against the economic and political offensive of the bourgeoisie, and in preparation for a counter-offensive aimed at the taking of power by a united front government.
They must constantly advocate the necessity of broadening and coordinating the struggles, and must expose the traditional leaderships opposing this. They must expose particularly the opportunist and adventuristic spirit of the new Stalinist policy, with its incoherent social agitation, its lack of a program and perspectives which can lead ultimately only to the demoralization of the masses and the victory of reaction. Our sections will denounce the capitalist nature of the nationalizations carried out by the governments under SP or SP-CP leadership—nationalizations which burden the already shattered economy of these countries with exorbitant sums for compensation and indemnities and which are completely without workers’ control.
They will denounce the bureaucratic “planning” of these governments, which aggravates the already heavy privations imposed on the masses. To the increasing disorder of capitalist management of production and distribution, they will counterpose propaganda for socialist planning, by the masses and for the masses, beginning with mass control over production, food distribution and prices.
In opposition to control by American imperialism of European economy through the Marshall Plan—which aims to make European economy a mere supplement to IS economy, at the cost of the free development of the productive forces and the masses’ living standards—our sections will put forth unceasing propaganda for the Socialist United States of Europe.
Against the continued occupation of Germany, Austria and the countries of the Soviet “buffer zone” by the imperialist forces and those of the Stalinist bureaucracy, our sections will fight for the withdrawal of all occupation troops and for all the democratic demands of the oppressed masses consistent with their right of self-determination and national independence.
In the European countries controlled by the Soviet bureaucracy, members of the Fourth International will choose to group themselves within the Social-Democratic organizations, and will aid every movement of the masses which aims at defending their living standards and their liberties against the bureaucratic police regimes dominated by the Stalinists.
In the United States the task is to accelerate the penetration into the trade union organizations and to intensify the political campaign for a labor party based on the trade unions. It is necessary to expose the reactionary maneuvers of Yankee imperialism throughout the world and to denounce its plans for a third imperialist war. It is necessary to prepare politically and organizationally for the outbreak of the depression and the crisis in the US which will carry the Trotskyists to the head of the great mass struggles that lie ahead.
In the semi-colonial countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia, the sections and members of the Fourth International will resolutely defend the democratic and national demands of the masses against imperialism, as well as their economic and political demands against the native bourgeoisie.
In general, the main task facing the Fourth International as a world party in the present period, is that of entering the mass movements in the capitalist and colonial countries with greater determination than in the past, in order to advance the socialist and revolutionary solutions, which are more necessary than ever.
The capitalist system, in decline and decay, and the regime established by the Soviet bureaucracy in the USSR, accumulate and sharpen their inherent contradictions. They paralyze the development of the productive forces; steadily lower the living standards of millions of people in the world; increase the pressure of the bureaucratic and police state on social and private life, stifling creative activity in all fields; reduce highly industrialized countries like Germany and Japan to the level of colonies; and increase national oppression.
In the light of all historic experience, the revolutionary proletariat shows itself as the only social force capable of incorporating in its leadership the common struggle of ,all the oppressed and the exploited who are crushed by imperialism by the bourgeoisie and the Soviet bureaucracy, and of leading the struggle to its socialist and revolutionary outcome.
In this sense, the Fourth International can and must fulfill its role as the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat. With the cadres it has acquired, with its experience and increasing influence, the Fourth International can go to the masses with greater resolution, greater firmness, greater political clarity than ever.
Forward with the fighting masses, to win them for the Revolution and for Socialism!
Note by ETOL
1. The original draft of this resolution, also entitled World Situation and the Tasks of the Fourth International, was adopted by th3 International Secretariat in November 1947 and published in Fourth International, Vol.8 No.9, November-December 1947, pp.274-282.
Last updated on 11 April 2009