MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: 1948 2nd Congress of the FI
Resolution of the Second World Congress of the
Fourth International on the
Partito Operaio Comunista (POC) of Italy
Adopted: July 1948.
First Published: 1948
Source: Fourth International, New York, Volume IX, No. 6, August 1948, pages 188-190..
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, December, 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.
1. The Partito Operaio Comunista (Communist Workers Party), present section of the Fourth International in Italy, was formed by the merger of the Puglia Federation, led by Mangano, and a group of Trotskyist comrades under the leadership of Bartolomeo. This was an unprincipled merger on a purely organizational basis, without any prior discussion to determine a common platform. It is this dubious origin which has weighed heavily on the party since its formation and has kept it in a permanent state of crisis. The crisis has been characterized by open and ever-growing hostility between the two groups, whose merger had been of a purely formal character.
This hostility provoked a factional struggle which ended in seizure of the POC leadership by the Puglia Federation. Since that time, the policies followed by the POC have been in fundamental opposition to the policies of the International.
2. The principled differences:
a) The present leadership of the POC considers that the decisions of only the first two World Congresses of the Comintern are valid for the Fourth International. (IV Internazionale, Oct. 5, 1947: “The degeneration of the Third International unfortunately began immediately after the Second Congress; consequently, only the first two Congresses are valid as a guide for the Fourth International.”) To the position thus taken is added the rejection of the Leninist theses on the national and colonial questions.
b) The present leadership of the POC considers the traditional parties of the working class as left parties of the bourgeoisie (“sinistra borghese”). They write as follows: “The forces of the right and those of the so-called left are not antagonists; both of them strive, though by different methods, for the same objective function, that of restoring bourgeois society.” (“Draft Theses,” Internal Bulletin of the International Secretariat, Vol. 2, No, 17, Aug. 1947.)
c) The present leadership of the POC considers the USSR an imperialist state of the same type as the United States. (IV Internazionale, June 15, 1947: “...and the position of the working class must not be confused with the imperialist position of Truman or of Stalin...” (“The cold war between Anglo-American and Russian imperialisms...”)
A Fanciful Analysis
d) The present leadership of the FOC analyzes the present period in a completely fanciful way: “The economy of each country — victor as well as vanquished — is in a state of suspension. The state of suspension is not a prelude to revolutionary crisis. The suspension in this case precedes the prelude. The development of class consciousness will take place together with the passage from a war economy to a peace economy.” (“Draft Theses.”)
The accumulation of these differences, which take on the form of a different program, makes the policies of the POC incompatible with those of the International.
3. The political differences:
The present leadership of the POC has been unable to apply even its own general principles in concrete action or to formulate them into a program of action for the party and into a concrete analysis of the developing situation. Although it is difficult under these conditions to make a complete evaluation of the daily policies of the POC with the same clarity as in defining the principled differences, we can summarize the political differences in the following points:
a) The present leadership of the POC rejects the concept of the Transitional Program in its entirety, and substitutes for it a combination of immediate demands and statements of general principles used as agitational slogans. (Headline of IV Internazionale, July 16, 1947: “To the Marshall and Molotov Plans, the World Proletariat Must Oppose the Marx Plan — Social Revolution!”)
b) The present leadership of the POC makes a caricature of the few slogans from the Transitional Program which it occasionally uses, advancing them in an abstract and adventuristic way, without relating them to the specific requirements of a given moment or linking them in a logical way to the general propaganda line developed by the party. (Headline of IV Internazionale, Sept. 1, 1947: “To Solve the Crisis of High Prices, the Palliative Adopted by the Government and the Platonic Protests of the CGIL [United Italian Trade Unions] Are Worthless. What’s Needed Is the General Strike.”)
c) The present leadership of the POC considers that the international political situation today is entirely and exclusively dominated by the contradictions between two imperialisms: Russian and Yankee. Every struggle or social conflict is a direct consequence of this general conflict, in which the workers have no stake whatever. (IV Internazionale, July 16, 1947: “While on the one hand America aids the Maximos government, the Stalinist governments of Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria aid the partisans. Thus the Greek workers are being exhausted in a struggle bearing the hallmark of the ruthless struggle between the Russians and Anglo-Americans.”)
False Trade Union Policy
d) The present leadership of the POC is following an adventuristic and unprincipled policy in the trade union field. Although stating that it favors trade union unity, it has set up a “Soviet” at Foggia which in practice duplicates the work of the local trade union organizations of the CGIL.
e) The present leadership of the POC has a sectarian attitude on the questions of the united front and united action. It regards united action as taking place solely in the trade unions, and it particularly avoids calling for the establishment of a united front for physical struggle against fascism, in defense of workers’ rights, etc... (“Draft Theses”: “The tactic of the united front and of People’s Fronts (!), as laid down by the Third World Congress of the Third International, must be considered as counter-revolutionary....”)
f) The present leadership of the POC holds a sectarian position on democratic slogans and has refused to put forward the slogan of the Republic against the Monarchy. (IV Internazionale, June 15, 1947: “The workers know that under the capitalist system a republic is the same as a monarchy and that only the socialist revolution...” And, with regard to the recall of Troilo, the Prefect of Milan, which had provoked a workers’ uprising in that city: “Evidently the workers of Milan, or rather of the province of Milan, believe that one prefect can be better than another, and that there may be prefects who are not in the service of the government...”)
g) The present leadership of the POC has no policy on the agrarian question — despite its influence in an essentially agricultural region; nor on the question of the soldiers, the youth, and so on.
4. Differences on organizational principles:
Principled differences between the present POC leadership and the International are not limited solely to the programmatic and political domain but extend also to organizational principles.
a) The present leadership of the POC advocates, as against democratic centralism, “revolutionary centralism,” the twin brother to the “organic centralism” of the Bordhigists. In practice, this consists in denial of the right of organized tendencies to exist within the party and, indeed, gives the leadership absolute power over the entire membership. (POC Internal Bulletin, No. 7: “In all other parties, one is allowed to discuss, to set up factions, to be undisciplined. In revolutionary parties, what counts is the will of the majority expressed through the revolutionary centralism exercised by the leaders... To allow members to play the game of tendencies, to set up organized factions, in short, to create air-tight compartments’ in the party by reason of an empty and false democratic conception, is to betray the interests of the proletariat.”)
But, on the other hand, in its relations with the International Secretariat the present leadership of the POC claims for itself the greatest autonomy. (See the letters of the Political Bureau of the POC to the IS, International Bulletin of the International Secretariat, Vol. 2, No. 17. These letters are confirmation of what Trotsky wrote in the Transitional Program: “They (the sectarians) live in a state of perpetual exasperation, complaining about the regime and the methods and ceaselessly wallowing in petty intrigues. In their own circles they customarily carry on a regime of despotism.”)
b) The present leadership of the POC is inspired by the slogan: “All means are good.” It applies this principle both in its relations with its members and in its relations with the leadership and majority of the International. Thus, after having passed a resolution at the POC congress pledging itself to defend the policy of the International in its paper, it did not actually carry out this resolution. At the next meeting of the Central Committee of the POC, at which a delegate from the IS was present, Comrade Mangano justified himself by declaring that “all means are good” for remaining temporarily in the International.
c) The present leadership of the POC uses this same “tactic” toward the working masses. Thus, after having engaged many of its groups to prepare for participation by the POC in the Italian elections, and then having to give it up because of insufficient material means, the POC leadership presented this “forced abstention” as a “political abstention” and in its paper spoke of the elections as an “electoral circus.” ( IV Internazionale, March 10, 1948: “We wash our hands of the electoral struggle... On April 18, the voters will be called upon to vote for war, for the third world conflict, and their only right will be to choose between fighting on the side of American imperialism or on the side of Russian imperialism.”)
5. The Italian situation and the importance of our work in Italy:
Since the “liberation,” Italy has shown itself to be the most favorable soil for the growth of a Trotskyist policy and Trotskyist movement. It has been the laboratory for a whole series of experiences of the working class and its vanguard. Such slogans as the sliding scale of wages, or the call against layoffs, and for workers’ control, have been assimilated by hundreds of thousands of workers in Italy. The special situation of the country, with its millions of unemployed and the profound crisis of the capitalist economic structure, “presented a favorable opportunity for systematic propaganda for the Transitional Program by a Trotskyist movement.
From the political point of view, a vast ideological ferment is going on in Italy. The hold of Stalinism on the working class is far from absolute, and the proletariat of the cities and country does not blindly follow the “tactical” turns of the CP. Moreover, the PSI, majority Socialist Party of Nenni, is still linked with the working class by its Maximalist tradition, and might therefore offer possibilities of work for a revolutionary minority.
That is why, in the course of the past years, we have witnessed the formation of various oppositional currents within the traditional parties or outside them. If these currents have not crystallized, it is in a large measure owing to the fact that the section of the Fourth International, because of its political positions, stood completely aside from the workers’ struggles and especially from the ideological ferment taking place in the workers’ vanguard.
Many comrades who left the traitor parties are still outside them today, and the problem of regrouping them around the program of the Fourth International is on the order of the day.
For over two years the International Executive Committee and the International Secretariat have endeavored, through democratic discussion, to convince the POC leadership of the erroneous character of its policies, and have meticulously abstained from any kind of organizational intervention, despite the expressed wishes of the POC minority which supports the program of the International. It is now of vital importance to the International to direct all its efforts in an attempt to regroup around the political program and ideological positions of the Fourth International, those who have broken with the traditional parties.
6. The task of revolutionary regroupment:
The present leadership of the POC does not understand the importance of the task of revolutionary regroupment and has chosen to withdraw into a sterile sectarianism which, if continued, will lead to the complete failure of Trotskyism in Italy. Today the policy of the POC is an obstacle to any serious effort to establish a revolutionary party in Italy. This is the result of the discredit which the POC casts over Trotskyism in general, and of the negative and abstentionist attitude which it takes on the problem of regroupment in particular (for example, the communication threatening expulsion of any comrade who attempted to turn his activity in this direction).
Nevertheless, the basis for the work of regroupment has been formulated by the IS with the assistance of the Bolshevik-Leninist minority of the party. Considerable progress has been made, and the first steps on this road will be concretized by the publication of a Trotskyist magazine around which will gather those comrades who are determined to defend the fundamental principles and policies of the Fourth International.
The Inescapable Conclusions
The World Congress
Decides to draw the organizational conclusions from the existing state of affairs in Italy, as outlined above.
Declares that the party which is called the Partito Operaio Comunista is no longer the Italian Section of the Fourth International, and that the Italian section still remains to be built.
Calls upon all the comrades of the POC to gather around the magazine which is shortly to appear, with the object of building a genuine Trotskyist organization in Italy.
Points out, nevertheless, to the other members of the POC, that if they wish to maintain relations with the Fourth International, they may request the status of sympathizing organization of the Fourth International, which the IEC will grant after a trial period of six months on condition that they carry out the political and organizational decisions of the World Congress. If they meet these conditions, they will have the right to appeal on the question of disaffiliation before a subsequent meeting of the IEC.
Instructs the IS to continue with the work of revolutionary regroupment in Italy, under its own direct responsibility, this task having been entrusted to the IS by the IEC at its October 1947 meeting.
Last updated on 12.01.2005