MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: World War II declarations, discussions, articles and documents
The Maturing Revolutionary Situation in Europe and
The Immediate Tasks of the IV International
Political Resolution Adopted by the European Executive Committee, Fourth International
Adopted: January 1945
First Published: June 1945
Source: Fourth International, New York, June 1945, Volume 6, No. 6 pages. 170-74.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, February, 2006
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line, 2006. 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 address of this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.
The events which have transpired since the European Conference in February 1944 have on the whole confirmed the perspectives of the Conference.
In June 1944 American and British imperialism abandoned their expectant attitude and hurled en masse their armed forces on Europe with the aim of annihilating German imperialism and at the same time of damming up the revolutionary tide, smashing it, counteracting the influence of the USSR and thus definitely consolidating the multiple gains which the war has procured for them in Europe.
The reactionary, and clearly counter-revolutionary character of their intervention has everywhere been amply demonstrated.
Counter-Revolutionary Imperialist Intervention
In Italy—against the democratic and revolutionary aspirations of the Italian masses—they supported Badoglio, one of the principal pillars of Mussolini’s fascist regime and of the bankrupt monarchy. After Badoglio was compelled to resign in face of the growing discontent of the people, British and American imperialism thrust Bonomi to the forefront and continued to exercise their reactionary tutelage on him and on the whole of political life in Italy.
In Belgium they supported Pierlot, representative of big Belgian finance capital, and they did not hesitate to protect his artificial and despised regime with the firepower of their tanks and their cannons.
In Greece they openly undertook the defense of the reactionary bourgeoisie grouped around Papandreou and the fascist formations which martyrized the Greek people during the Hitlerite occupation. With exceptional brutality and savagery, they used their airplanes and their tanks and employed their fleet in a blockade in order to beat down the indomitable revolutionary energy of this small nation.
In Spain, while continuing to support the butcher Franco in power, their policy consists in cushioning the shock of his inevitable collapse and preparing the transition by means of a provisional government resting on the army and the police.
Finally, in Germany, to the extent that their armies have penetrated the country, their measures are pervaded by a constant care to avert—and to smash in the event it erupts—the revolutionary explosion of the German people, by imposing a regime of oppression and terror based in part on the fascist elements of the Hitlerite administrative apparatus and the SS formations. Although British imperialism, more directly interested in the European situation, better informed, more experienced traditionally and more cynical, appears as the most aggressive imperialist force, there is no real difference between it and American imperialism on the attitude to be adopted towards the revolutionary movements of the European masses. Despite the real and profound antagonisms between them and although they occasionally have different interests in various European countries, they are both in agreement on the necessity of maintaining reactionary capitalist order everywhere in Europe and of smashing the beginnings of the revolutionary upsurge of the masses.
The Policy of Stalinism
The Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR has definitely shown itself to be no less hostile to any revolutionary development in Europe. This was foreseen and has manifested itself in a more complex way because of the diversity of its interests in different European countries and because of the lesser or greater pressure of the masses on the apparatus of the Communist parties. In countries occupied by the Red Army—Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Finland—the capitalist regime is maintained; the military apparatus reigns as master and the reactionary generals and fascists (Mannerheim, Miklos, Radescu) who participated in the war against Russia, remain at the helm, supported by “People’s Front” combinations of bourgeois politicians and CP representatives. In all these countries, the Stalinist bureaucracy is concerned above all with appearing before world imperialism as a factor of “law and order.”
In France, with the objective of concluding a military alliance with this country for the purpose of jointly plundering Germany and in order to wrest France from the American orbit, the Communist Party is taking the lead in the policy of national unity and it is consciously sacrificing the vital interests of the working class.
In Italy, the Communist Party systematically aspires by its policy to win the confidence of the bourgeoisie and to gain agreement with the Vatican, in order there also to become a great “national” party, capable of orienting the foreign policy of the country in a pro-Russian direction. The Italian Communist Party prefers to break its alliance with the Socialist Party rather than break with Bonomi, and it is the only workers’ party in Italy which supports the regency of Prince Humbert.
In Spain, the Communist Party appears as the inspirer of the “National Union” movement which repeats under particularly odious conditions the policy of “the outstretched hand” with respect to Catholics, Monarchists, and other reactionary or confused elements who supported Franco during and after the civil war.
In Belgium and in Greece the Communist parties found themselves compelled to temporarily turn against the governments of Pierlot and Papandreou on the one hand because of the strong pressure of the masses who threatened to break out of bounds and on the other hand in order to counteract the American and British plans to dominate these countries. But while the insurrection of the popular masses, particularly in Greece, developed by its own internal logic and transformed itself into a revolutionary struggle against the entire national bourgeoisie and foreign imperialism, and clearly posed the question of power, the leadership of the Communist parties in Belgium and in Greece betrayed the unfolding revolution by orienting themselves towards a compromise on the basis of a new governmental combination with the bourgeois parties, supported by foreign imperialism. However, the Greek experience has demonstrated that despite their general line of betrayal, the Communist parties still possess deep roots in the masses, and that the capital of confidence they have acquired for themselves by exploiting the prestige of the October Revolution and the USSR and thanks also to the courageous conduct of their members and of their lower cadres, is still far from exhausted.
The Greek experience at the same time demonstrates that the attitude of the Communist parties, in a revolutionary situation characterized by the general uprising of the masses and their will to struggle, is not simply a function of the foreign policy of the USSR. The pressure of the masses makes itself felt in the attitude of both the members and lower cadres of the Communist parties, bringing with it the threat of breaking the bureaucratic vise of the leadership, as well as impressing itself on the latter and obliging it to disguise its general line of betrayal in order to be able finally to dam up the centrifugal forces of the masses and of its own rank and file.
The Civil War
However, neither the energetic counterrevolutionary intervention of British and American imperialism nor the treacherous conduct of the Stalinist and reformist bureaucracies has succeeded in checking the maturing of the revolutionary situation in Europe.
As the theses of the European Conference in February 1944 have underscored, “the imperialist war is being transformed with inexorable necessity into civil war.”
One after another the European countries are being drawn into the revolutionary vortex. While the imperialist war continues to drag on, in the countries “liberated” either by the Red Army or by the Allied troops, civil war flares and spreads.
In a number of countries with an agricultural structure and with strong feudal survivals, such as Poland and Hungary, occupied by the Red Army, it is the acuteness of the agrarian question, aggravated by the consequences of the war and the harshness of Nazi occupation, which in the main pushes the masses into revolutionary action. In other countries, among them Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Belgium, it is above all economic ruin manifested in inflation, mass unemployment, shortage of foodstuffs, which is at the bottom of the revolutionary ferment. Throughout Europe, five years of imperialist war have completely disorganized economic life, exhausted material resources, ruined the system of circulation, brought on famine and misery.
An indescribable chaos reigns in al the “liberated” countries, without any prospect of amelioration in sight.
On the contrary, while British imperialism, itself considerably impoverished in this war, proves incapable of extending any material aid whatever to the countries it claims in its own sphere of influence (Belgium, Italy, Greece) and while American imperialism abstains from risking its capital and its commodities in a Europe caught up in wild inflation and jolted by the first assaults of the revolution, the revolutionary action of the masses undermines the last possibilities of the bourgeoisie to re-establish its economy shattered and ruined by the war.
The revolutionary character of the situation is determined today by the fact that the slightest demand of the masses against the high cost of living, against famine, against unemployment puts a question mark over the very foundations of capitalism and leads inescapably to a struggle against the regime in its entirety.
The months ahead will aggravate this already extremely tense situation.
Last year has seen the inter-imperialist antagonisms, as well as the antagonism between imperialism and the USSR, attain an extreme acuteness.
To the degree that the secondary imperialisms collapse, to the extent that the Russian, American and British armies penetrate more deeply into Europe, and the defeat of Germany appears inevitable and close, posing the question of the future disposition of Europe and of the world—to that extent the “victors” will find themselves obliged to reveal their real “war aims,” to specify their demands and directly consolidate their interests by diplomacy and force.
American imperialism, in order further to weaken British power and to assure its commodities and its capital free access everywhere, systematically opposes the British policy which seeks to create blocs tied exclusively to British imperial economy (Civil Aviation Conference in Chicago, declarations of Stettinius concerning British policy in Italy and Greece.)
On the other hand, differences with Russia over the settlement of German, Polish and Balkan questions, become more extensive to the degree that the Red Army penetrates into central and southern Europe, England seconded in this sphere by the United States, at. tempts to limit the scope of Russian successes by maintaining the London Polish government as an instrument of struggle against the complete seizure of Poland by Russia, by the maneuvers of King Peter against Tito in Yugoslavia, by the brutal subjugation of Greece to its yoke and above all by the opposition which it will openly manifest to Russian plans concerning the fate of Germany after the latter’s defeat.
As a result of the exacerbation of inter-imperialist antagonisms and the strengthened German resistance in the face of the perspective of partition and despoliation which the Allied imperialist bourgeoisie and the reactionary Stalinist bureaucracy offer the German people, the war drags on piling up material and financial ruin.
But even in the event of an early defeat of Germany, no immediate social amelioration can be envisaged in Europe. The defeat of Germany will liberate twelve million foreign workers who will augment the ranks of unemployed in Europe.
But above all it will automatically intensify the revolutionary struggle on the entire continent, by drawing into the struggle masses who still are, thanks to the treacherous action of the Communist and Socialist parties, subordinating the struggle for their own demands to the prosecution of the war.
Every measure of the bourgeoisie to check the rise of the cost of living, to lower prices, to dam up inflation, is doomed to certain defeat. No administrative measures can restore real value to money without the expansion of production and the re-establishment of international exchange. No administrative measures can wipe out the black market so long as industry is unable to supply the peasants with cheap and plentiful products. Finally, no administrative measures can revive in the workers their strength and will to work in order to expand production without at the same time furnishing them with generous nourishment, satisfactory wages, and a tolerable standard of living.
The Character of the Revolutionary Movement
The revolutionary upsurge is taking place in Europe within the general framework of the continuing imperialist war and of the occupation of different countries by Allied or German armies. It is this fact which still curbs the revolutionary energies of the masses, which acts to distort the true class character of the struggle, which disperses it and which conditions the relative defeats of the first waves of the revolution.
In Belgium, in Italy, in Greece, the masses have fought and are fighting in an atmosphere which is still generally unfavorable, under the domination of the imperialist war, in the presence of occupying armies and under the hostile pressure against every independent class movement, resulting from the policy of national unity practiced by the treacherous workers’ parties.
Alongside the working class and sometimes ahead of it, the revolutionary movement embraces large sections of the poor peasantry and of the urban petty bourgeoisie, ruined either by inflation or by deflationary measures. The revolutionary fermentation of the petty bourgeoisie is one of the principal factors of the political instability which now reigns in all European countries, aggravating the crisis of the bourgeoisie, accelerating and amplifying the self-movement of the working class.
However, if the proletariat proves incapable of finding a victorious and relatively rapid solution to the struggle against the bourgeoisie, then the mass of impatient petty-bourgeois elements will inevitably turn, as in the past, to reactionary and fascist solutions. Experience has already demonstrated both in the countries “liberated” by the Red Army as well as in those “liberated” by the Allied armies, that the ruined bourgeoisie which is incapable of granting the slightest concessions to the masses and which is directly threatened by their growing agitation, has first of all recourse to “strong” solutions, resorting to police and military dictatorships based on occupation troops and on national fascist elements previously utilized during the Nazi occupation in order to smash the movement of the masses.
An interim “democratic” era of a relatively prolonged duration up to the decisive triumph either of the socialist revolution or once again that of fascism, is proving to be impossible. “Democratic” maneuvers are not, however, excluded in those cases where the bourgeoisie is able, thanks to the active aid of foreign imperialism, to strengthen itself first of all by brutally repelling the first revolutionary assaults of the masses and is able to rebuild its own apparatus of coercion (army, police), of disarming and dissolving the autonomous organizations of the masses such as militias, partisan detachments, etc., that had been created during the Nazi occupation—and in this way regaining its self-assurance. In such situations if the bourgeoisie is once again faced with the threat of a new and violent revolutionary offensive of the masses, it is possible that the bourgeoisie may open up a certain arena for “democratic” maneuvers which it will employ.
But in no case will these possibilities transcend the framework of a factitious solution extremely limited in point of time.
Our perspective, and therefore the definition of our tasks in the immediate future, must be based not on exceptional circumstances which may permit certain countries to experience a “democratic” period under the threatening pressure of the masses and for a limited time, but on the general line of the bourgeoisie as it has been derived from recent experiences in all the European countries and particularly in the countries characterized by an objectively revolutionary situation. Basing ourselves on the experience in Belgium and especially in Greece, we must emphasize the danger of seeing certain countries, following the example of Hungary (Horthy regime) and Poland (Pilsudski) after the last war, enter directly, after the first defeat of the revolution, into a dictatorial regime from which they will emerge only thanks to the direct support of the European and world proletariat.
On the other hand, the aggressive and brutal interference of foreign imperialism, first and foremost of British and American imperialism in a number of European countries (Belgium, Holland, Italy, Greece) where they have not hesitated to employ the harshest method of violence and massacre applied in colonial countries, shows how conscious imperialism is of the danger which weighs on the capitalist regimes of the European countries and how determined it is to struggle with utmost energy to dam up the revolutionary tide before it breaks loose over the entire European continent and other parts of the world.
The European bourgeoisies—in face of the direct threat of the masses and despite the dangers to their economic and political independence implicit in the active intervention of foreign imperialisms—do not hesitate to appeal to the forces of English and American imperialism and to support themselves principally upon these forces in order in the meantime to rebuild their own police and military apparatus of coercion.
In a number of countries, the revolutionary crisis has as its apparent point of departure the conflict between the armed popular forces—which had been amalgamated in organizations of resistance against the Nazi occupation—and the bourgeois state determined to restore its authority over them. In reality, the conflict is between the popular masses who refuse to submit again to the old capitalist order, who aspire to a revolutionary solution, and the governmental gangs of the reactionary bourgeoisie supported by foreign imperialism.
Despite the prejudices, illusions, confusion and darkness which still obscure and trouble the consciousness of the masses, despite the fact that the Communist parties corrupted by the politics of class collaboration, devoid of any boldness, devoid of any program and any revolutionary perspective, have nevertheless been lifted by the masses to head their struggles—despite al this, recent events in Belgium and Greece constitute the first phase of the revolution which has actually begun in these countries. Through these struggles and the inevitable struggles of tomorrow the masses will throw off everything that is outlived and will acquire the necessary experience to carry their struggles to the necessary culmination: the seizure of power.
Our Tasks in the Present Stage
While Europe as a whole has entered a revolutionary period, the amplitude and rhythm of the revolutionary crisis varies from country to country. In a number of countries, including primarily France, Spain, Italy, history still grants us a limited time for our sections to step up their ideological and organizational preparations in anticipation of the great struggles ahead. In other countries, such as Belgium and Greece, our sections have already had occasion to confront the first wave of the unfolding revolution. But it is not a question of a unilateral evolution toward decisive revolutionary or reactionary solutions. Pauses of greater or lesser duration are inevitable because of the general situation in Europe.
With scarcely an exception, all the necessary historic conditions for the triumph of the socialist revolution in Europe are not only objectively mature but even in the process of rotting. Lacking only are genuine revolutionary parties in the principal countries of Europe.
Although we have a solid core of devoted revolutionists in every European country, it is an undeniable fact that no European section of the Fourth International has as yet succeeded in becoming an organization whose internal functioning and methods of work are worthy of a real Bolshevik party.
Although time is pressing and we must not neglect the tasks which impending events are going to impose on us, the most important task for every section is to pitilessly uproot every trace of petty-bourgeois organizational methods, every vestige of the discussion group epoch and to replace them with a truly Bolshevik organization and method or work.
Our sections must utilize the interval between the successive phases of the revolution in order to assimilate the experience acquired, to improve their positions, to prepare themselves better for the next phase. In general, all our European sections should consider the immediate period as an extremely compressed period for political and organizational preparation in anticipation of the infinitely more widespread and acute struggles in all Europe.
In every country, the Party of the Fourth International should do its utmost to arm its members politically, to strengthen its technical and material resources, to multiply its avenues of expression, primarily the legal papers, and to acquire some strong footholds in all the trade union and political organizations.
It is at the same time necessary, taking the real conditions in each country as the point of departure, to elaborate a detailed plan of action in which the fundamental slogans of the transitional program find a living and concrete expression.
The primary political questions which are posed in the present period in the different European countries and to which our program of action must correspond, are the following:
a) The economic ruin resulting from the war and the consequent unemployment, high cost of living, famine.
b) The political crisis of the bourgeoisie translated into the instability of the bourgeois governments.
c) The fate of the popular political and military formations which emerged from the resistance to the Nazi occupation, and the neo-fascist threats.
d) The aggressive interference of foreign imperialism.
e) The continuation of the imperialist war and the imperialist plans for “peace.”
The program of action of each of our European sections should revolve around these problems, anchoring them around conditions peculiar to each country and providing concrete solutions for them, with the following general considerations as a guide:
The restoration and expansion of economic life can only be the work of the working class which will through its organizations (factory committees, trade unions) elaborate a plan based on the needs of the civilian population and which will apply the plan under the control of its organizations.
The idea of the plan implies control of economy by the working class, as well as an adequate organization of the latter and of the popular masses.
In every “liberated” country, the bourgeoisie has shown itself incapable of revitalizing economic life and improving the lot of the masses of the people. In some countries the political crisis of the bourgeoisie is manifested by governmental instability.
In view of this general situation which at bottom reflects the social crisis of the capitalist regime, our European sections will advance the slogan of the Workers’ Government or Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, (corresponding to the character of the country). But this slogan, perfectly correct at the present time, will find no echo whatever among the masses, if it is not adjusted to the conditions peculiar to each country. The Workers’ Government does not immediately signify the dictatorship of the proletariat, which can be realized in each country only by the Bolshevik party basing itself on workers’ and peasants’ Soviets, but a government of parties which claim to be workers’ parties, which for the moment have the confidence of the masses and which declare themselves prepared to realize a minimum program of anti-capitalist measures. Such are the Communist and Socialist parties today. Therefore the significance of the slogan of the Workers’ Government issued by our sections is nothing else but the following: We say to the workers’ parties, “Break the reactionary coalition with the bourgeois parties, take power and put your program into effect.”
On every occasion the leadership of our national sections should seize upon every aggravation of the political crisis to put forward this slogan concretely.
Such a government should base itself on the organizations of the working class and the toiling masses in general, on the militias, the factory committees, the housewives’ committees, the trade unions. But here, too, our sections must be capable of discerning in already existing organizations— such as the patriotic militias, the French FFI, the Greek partisans, etc.—despite their names and their reactionary orientation, their progressive social content, supporting them, orienting them and extending them.
The fierce attacks of the bourgeoisie and of foreign imperialism upon the popular militias and armed formations of partisans which emerged from the resistance to Nazi occupation demonstrate that the criteria of our class enemy were more correct than the political intuition of the ultra-leftists outside and inside our ranks as far as these formations are concerned.
Instead of ignoring them or condemning them en bloc, the followers of the Fourth International must attempt to develop their progressive social content and orient them toward an independent political existence in the service of the toiling masses and against the bourgeoisie.
The active interference of foreign imperialism and in the first place of British imperialism in Belgium, Italy and Greece, on the one hand sharply poses the need of intense propaganda for fraternization with the soldiers of the occupying armies and on the other hand, the intensification of the struggle against British imperialism by our British sections.
The European Executive Committee calls upon all interested European sections to issue as soon as possible material in the English language addressed to the soldiers and to use every means of strengthening the tendency of fraternization with the toiling masses of the occupied countries, the German masses and soldiers.
Finally, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that the war is continuing and that heavier sacrifices than ever before will be imposed on the masses.
The sections of the Fourth International must struggle with all their might against the currents of national unity, and seize every opportunity to demonstrate to the masses that the imperialists are incapable of bringing the war to a rapid conclusion and of consolidating a democratic and lasting peace.
The war can end and the peace can be real in character only through the coordinated action of the toilers of all countries in overthrowing capitalism and establishing in its place the Socialist United States of Europe and of the world. The sections of the Fourth International must mercilessly denounce the monstrous plans of plunder and rape envisaged for the vanquished countries, especially Germany, and elaborated by the diplomats of the “Allied” imperialist bourgeoisie and the Stalinist bureaucracy. The EEC emphasizes the urgent necessity for all sections to abandon propaganda which is pure theoretically but which remains abstract and incomprehensible to the masses, and to immediately elaborate a plan of action, keeping in mind the real situation in every country and securing themselves every single lever capable of setting the masses in motion and accelerating their revolutionary maturity.
An unprecedented revolutionary situation is unfolding throughout Europe.
On our political and organizational abilities depends the task of becoming, in the grandiose events of this period, a real political force which can definitely lead the masses toward the conquest of power.
The European Executive Committee of the Fourth International.
Last updated on 02.01.2006