MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: 1951 3rd Congress of the FI

The Third World Congress of the Fourth International

Article on the
Third Congress of the Fourth International—Paris, April 1951

Written: 1951.
First Published: 1951.
Source: Fourth International, Vol.12 No. 6, November-December 1951, pp.163-164.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido & David Walters, November, 2005
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 following report of the Third World Congress is a translation from Quatrième International, published in Paris by the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International.

The Third World Congress of the Fourth International was held in Switzerland at the end of August and the beginning of September. A total of 74 elected delegates participated in the plenary sessions and commissions which lasted 11 days. Delegates, observers and visitors came from 25 countries and represented 27 organizations. Especially notable was the delegation from the Far East composed of a dozen comrades representing China, India, Vietnam and Ceylon, as well as delegations from Latin America representing Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

A representative from the labor movement of Negro Africa participated for the first time in a meeting of the Fourth International. Europe was represented by delegations from all the principal countries. A representative of a Communist opposition movement in the USSR who was to participate as observer at the Congress was prevented from coming at the last moment by material difficulties.

The Congress held its plenary sessions in a hall specially decorated for that purpose. A Vietnamese revolutionary artist reproduced portraits of the principal martyrs of the Trotskyist movement.

The Congress assigned honorary chairmanship to its militants who are at present victims of imperialist or Stalinist repression. Among them are Bolivian, Vietnamese and Greek comrades, notably the recently arrested Guillermo Lora, member of the Central Committee of the Bolivian Section of the Fourth International, Deputy in the Bolivian Parliament and leader of the miners’ union, and Comrades Rene and Liu, leaders of the Vietnamese section of the Fourth International, under arrest by the Vietminh authorities.

The work of the Congress was carried on in five languages for which there were concurrent translations in English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese, without taking into account summary translations in other languages. The Third World Congress opened with a greeting from the Secretary of the International, with the election of an Organization Commission for the congress and the election of special commissions. The principal reports given were a general political report, a report on the “People’s Democracies” in Eastern Europe, a report on Yugoslavia and a report of the activities of the outgoing International leadership.

The political report emphasized the two main features of the present world situation: the accelerated preparations for war by imperialism and the development of the revolutionary upsurge in Asia. It declared that the launching of imperialist war in the present world-wide relationship of forces (which are unfavorable to imperialism and cannot be reversed in the next two to four years) meant that it would tend from the start to become transformed into an international civil war.

The report demonstrated that in the course of this class war the proletariat would free itself from all bureaucratic control by the Kremlin and that the struggle unleashed on a world scale could be terminated only by the victory of the socialist revolution over imperialism and over Stalinism. To achieve this victory it is indispensable for the revolutionary movement to defend the USSR, the “People’s Democracies,” China and the colonial revolutions against imperialism, while irreconcilably combating Stalinism which is incapable of unifying and effectively directing the anti-imperialist forces in a world scale.

The political report, together with the documents presented to the Congress (Theses on Orientation and Perspectives and the Political Resolution) were jointly adopted by 39 votes to 3 with 1 abstention after a discussion lasting two and one-half days in which 30 delegates participated.

The resolution on the countries or “People’s Democracy,” drafted by the International Secretariat, was presented with a report which reviewed the evolution of the countries in the East European buffer zone since 1945 and the corresponding development of the analysis of the International on this question. The report defended the designation of the “People’s Democracies” as having acquired, beginning with 1949, a definitive character as “deformed workers’ states,” and envisaged the defense of these countries against imperialism, as well as a program of political revolution against the bureaucracy similar to the Trotskyist program for the USSR. The slogans of independent Socialist Republics for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, etc., and their voluntary federation were to remain as previously the central slogans for these countries. The report and resolution were adopted after a day’s discussion, by 41 votes to 2.

The resolution on the “Yugoslav Revolution and the Fourth International,” adopted by the Ninth Plenum of the International Executive Committee, was presented to the Congress in a report which analyzed the stages of development in the policy of the Yugoslav Communist Party, the reasons for this development and the attitude of the Trotskyist movement toward the shifts in this policy. The report and resolution were adopted by 37 votes with 1 abstention, 4 voters being absent.

All the documents adopted were referred to the incoming International Executive Committee for editing and the incorporation of proposed amendments compatible with the general line of these documents, taking into account the remarks made during the discussions.

The Congress heard the activities report of the outgoing leadership of the International which registered the important advances realized by the Trotskyist organizations since the Second World Congress in 1948, notably in Europe, Latin America, Ceylon, etc., both from the viewpoint of their organizational strengthening as well as the far greater political homogeneity which was reflected in the Congress. It stated that most of the sections of the International have successfully integrated themselves in the mass movement of their countries and have learned to work out an orientation adjusted to the national peculiarities of the working class movement in which they must work.

The discussion following this report in which 18 delegates participated showed through the activities of most sections that solid ties had already been established by the Trotskyist movement with the authentic movement of the masses in the principal countries of the world. The activities report wits unanimously adopted. The Congress elected a new Executive Committee of the International composed of 21 members and 9 candidates.

The Congress adopted different resolutions presented by various commissions dealing with the situation of the Fourth International in several countries (France, Austria, Argentina, etc.). It adopted a political resolution answering the main problems posed by the revolutionary movement in Latin America, granted recognition to a section of the Fourth International in Argentina, and confirmed the election of the Latin-American Bureau of the International Secretariat. It instructed the new International Executive Committee to draw up a concrete plan together with the delegates from the Far East on the composition and operation of the Far Eastern Bureau of the International Secretariat. It instructed the International Secretariat to draft a manifesto to the workers of the whole world in its name.

Before concluding its work, the Congress observed a minute of silence to the memory of Leon Trotsky, since the eleventh anniversary of the assassination of the great revolutionary coincided with the opening period of the Congress. It sent greetings to the widows of the martyrs of the movement and to militants and leaders who were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their participation in the Trotskyist movement.

The Third World Congress marked a high point in the history of Trotskyism, because of its complete success from the technical standpoint, despite the immense difficulties arising from restricted material means; because of the representation of a considerable number of countries greater than had been present of all the previous assemblages of the international Trotskyist movement, and above all by the remarkable political homogeneity manifested throughout the discussions. The fraternal atmosphere which featured its work as well as the political maturity exhibited by the delegates represented the highest degree of political and organizational cohesion that the world Trotskyist movement has achieved since its beginnings.


Last updated on 13 April 2009