MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: USFI: 1963-1985: The International Situation and the Tasks of Revolutionary Marxists


The World Congress of the Fourth International

The International Situation and the Tasks of Revolutionary Marxists

Adopted: Adopted, June 1966.
First Published: Spring 1966
Source: International Socialist Review, New York, Vol. 27, No. 2, Spring 1966, pp. 37-48.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, December, 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.

Since the October 1962 Cuba crisis, American imperialism has intensified its counterrevolutionary activities on a world-wide scale. In an ever more systematic way, it is assuming the role of world policeman for capitalism and the possessing classes, openly intervening in the domestic affairs of any country where a rise in the mass movement might set off a revolution. Through coups d’etat rigged up by the CIA or through open military intervention, Washington has played this role of center of the counterrevolution successively in Brazil, the Congo, Vietnam, Santo Domingo and Indonesia.

Each time ’local” wars or crises were involved. But these broke out during a period of boom in the American economy and a spirit of growing confidence among the American imperialists in their own forces. Under these conditions, it is doubtful that they calculated on carrying any action so far as to risk a nuclear conflict that could seal their own doom. Nevertheless, the lack of an energetic response on the part of the Soviet Union and, although with less culpability, the Chinese leaders encouraged them to proceed with their “escalation” in Vietnam, thus considerably increasing the danger of a nuclear world war.

The deepening division in the “socialist camp,” the scandalous passivity of its main leaders in face of the imperialist “escalation,” the criminal support given by the big workers organizations in the capitalist countries to the counterrevolutionary foreign policies and actions of the ruling class, and the lack of coordination among the revolutionary movements in the direct line of fire, enabled imperialism to score unquestionable gains in its counterrevolutionary aggressions in the past few years.

Before that, extremely favorable objective conditions made possible spectacular victories for the revolution in the colonial and semicolonial countries, even in the absence of a consistent revolutionary leadership, in view of the extreme weakness and isolation of the indigenous possessing classes. The systematic intervention of American imperialism brings an extremely powerful enemy to bear against the revolution, thus requiring leaderships of superior quality, having far better grasp of the international import of anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles, to win decisive successes.

But the successes of imperialism have not been able to halt or to hurl back the advance of the colonial revolution, fed by objective conditions which imperialism has proved incapable of modifying in the least degree. It has not succeeded at all anywhere in stabilizing the situation or breaking the militancy of the masses.

The example of Greece has demonstrated once again that among the European capitalist countries the fighting potentialities of the masses remain high, periodically breaking out in big struggles.

Finally—a result unforeseen by the imperialists—the Pentagon’s “escalation” triggered a wave of opposition among American youth and intellectuals at the very beginning of the new war in Vietnam, thus strengthening the anti-imperialist and anticapitalist forces on a world scale. In conjunction with the increasingly explosive movement of the Negro masses, this testifies to the basic instability of American capitalism and offers a foretaste of the speed with which a political and social crisis can develop in the United States once conditions become ripe for it.

Understanding therefore that the dynamics of the world relationship of forces remains unfavorable as a whole to capitalism, the revolutionary Marxists must seek to increase the effectiveness of the immense forces engaged in the struggle for the socialist transformation of the world, fighting jointly for an anti-imperialist united front, for the defense of the Vietnamese Revolution, and for the construction of a new revolutionary leadership capable of taking advantage of the new openings for the world revolution.


A) The Capitalist World

The economic situation during the past three years has continued to be characterized by the contrast between the relative economic stagnation in the colonial and semicolonial countries and the expansion occurring in the imperialist countries. It is true that the acceleration of this expansion in the principal imperialist country—the United States—brought about an increase in sales of raw materials by the colonial and semicolonial countries to the imperialist countries, leading to an increase in prices recently for certain raw materials and even, for 1964 and the first quarter of 1965, to liquidation of the deficit in the balance of trade between the colonial and semi-colonial countries and the imperialist countries.

However, this slight improvement in trade (which had some consequences in the political field in various semicolonial countries) did not alter the enormous gap between the imperialist countries and the backward countries; on the contrary, this gap has not stopped widening particularly in per capita income. The fact that this gap is no longer accepted by the peoples living in the “third world,” and that imperialism cannot bridge it through reformist methods, constitutes the principal driving force behind the colonial revolution.

During the past few years, the economic situation has not evolved along parallel lines in the advanced capitalist countries. In some of them (United States, Canada, West Germany) expansion is continuing; in others (Great Britain, Belgium), there has been some faltering due to a downward turn in foreign demand or to deflationary domestic measures, evoking the specter of a recession. In still others (Japan, Italy, France) a real recession has been experienced since the spring of 1964, occasioning an actual drop in production in manufacturing, a curtailing of work and massive layoffs.

These displacements in phasing of the cycle of capitalist economy-which have been noticeable for some years (Western Germany and Italy experienced no recession in 1957-58; Western Germany ran into a considerable slowing down in growth between October 1962 and October 1963 while the American boom was at its height)-have helped attenuate the effect of the recessions in the countries where they occurred, and delayed the outbreak of a general economic recession in the imperialist countries.

Nevertheless, such a general recession remains inevitable. The expansion as a whole has lost its impetus and is slowing down or about to slow down everywhere. Excess capacity in a series of key sectors in industry weighs heavily on investments in these sectors in Western Europe, North America and Japan. As predicted, the “anticrisis” policies being followed currently by the imperialist governments have increasingly undermined the buying power of their currencies. The permanent deficit in the balance of payments of the United States and Great Britain induces deterioration of the position of the dollar and the pound sterling, the two currencies which, together with gold, function today as international means of payment. The situation is more and more disturbing to the world bourgeoisie. Whatever the stop-gap solutions, the imperialist economy will continue to face the dilemma: either a grave crisis of overproduction, or mounting inflation in the coming years.

The growth in armament expenditures will likewise undermine the capacity of such measures to refuel an imperialist economy already marked by a very high level of outlays of this kind. A new threat in 1965 of decline in the American boom seems to have been conjured away by the considerable increase in military expenditures associated with the imperialist aggression in Vietnam. But this same increase limits the possibility of preventing the outbreak of a genuine recession through a new jump in such expenditures in the coming years.

On the other hand, the terrible stagnation in the standard of living of the broad masses in countries like India or Indonesia and the total failure of the “Alliance for Progress”—which did not stimulate any considerable economic growth in Latin America where raging inflation is another source of disorganization in economic life, lowering the standard of living of the masses in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, etc.—do not permit the colonial and semicolonial markets to play the role of a genuine substitute for the classical anticrisis measures in refueling the boom that is beginning to run down. The same observation applies to the increased volume in imperialist trade with the workers states, a growth which is a fact and which has greatly sharpened inter-imperialist competition, but which affects and can affect only a very small fraction of world trade as a whole, thus not representing a genuine “substitute market” for the imperialist economy.

The factors mentioned above-partial loss of impetus in the boom in certain countries, recession in others, the progressive disappearance of factors that would permit a considerable resumption of the expansion on a world scale-explain in the final analysis the exacerbation in imperialist competition which we see at the moment, an exacerbation that constitutes a kind of background to the numerous political conflicts which have been pitting the different imperialist powers against each other (USA-European rivalry of the European market; France’s rivalry with its five partners in the Common Market; rivalry between the Common Market and Great Britain within the European market; rivalry between Great Britain, West Germany, the United States in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Canada, Australia, etc.).

But these conflicts remain within the context of a fundamental common outlook concerning relations with the colonial revolution and the workers states, none of the imperialist powers being ready to actually break their alliance, even if they propose different tactics in dealing with what is their common enemy.

B) The Workers States

The economy of the workers states has continued to progress at annual rates of growth considerably above those of the imperialist countries on the average, experiencing difficulties but no recessions and thus showing the intrinsic superiority of a planned economy founded on the nationalization of the means of production over the capitalist mode of production. This is so despite the propaganda of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologists who maintain that the latest bureaucratic reforms introduced in the management of the Soviet economy in the name of the principle of “individual profitability of firms” pay tribute to the “capitalist” methods and foreshadow further steps in the same direction. Such extrapolations are completely superficial. The continued high average rate of economic growth in the workers states is not in contradiction with the slowing down in growth of national revenue experienced in the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Poland. This is due to the continuing agricultural crisis and to difficulties in industry ascribable to the innumerable brakes characteristic of bureaucratic management.

To get out of the impasse, the leaders of the Soviet bureaucracy have sought once again to reform the planning system and plant management without changing anything essentially. There is no broad and democratic participation of the masses in working out, applying, and controlling the plan, no genuine workers management in the plants, no genuine Soviet democracy on the state level. Under these conditions, the latest reform will yield what the previous ones did: a temporary spurt forward and the replacement of a set of former bureaucratic contradictions (hypercentralization, particularism among the ministries, particularism among regions) by a new set of contradictions, which will lead to a new lowering of the rate of growth when their momentary effect has warn off. The Bonapartist leaders of the bureaucracy have made a few concessions to the plant directors, who for years have been demanding increased rights both in relation to the workers and the central bodies. But at the same time they strengthen the central apparatus by reconstituting the economic ministries and suppressing the Sovnarkhozes, in this way revealing their fear of the dynamics which bureaucratic decentralization unfailingly introduces in a planned economy.

The effects of excess decentralization clearly appeared in Yugoslavia where it increased the general economic disorder, inflation and social inequality, compelling the leaders to carry out a reform which meant a severe lowering of the standard of living for the masses and which even threatens to lead to massive layoffs.

To find the correct necessary combination between workers self-management at the plant level and overall planning in the economy is not primarily a question of discovering techniques or inventing “economic models”; it is above all a question of social forces to be mobilized and inspired.

In this way, due to its social position, the bureaucracy is able to apply only partially effective or outrightly dubious reforms, and these reforms are necessarily destined to give way to new ones of the same kind, without providing a fundamental solution to the problems posed by the economy of the workers states. It is necessary to take this fundamental fact into account in order to avoid being periodically surprised by abrupt drops in the rate of growth, which will likewise occur in the case of countries like the Rumanian People’s Republic, where the rate of growth is at present the highest in Europe. This is not due to the organization of the system of planning and the establishment of socialist self-management and proletarian democracy, but to a judicious combination of techniques, credits and orders from the imperialist countries and the workers states, a turn in the situation that will not prove long lasting.

The People’s Republic of China succeeded several years ago in overcoming the worst effects of the agricultural crisis unleashed by the excesses of the “great leap forward.” Agricultural production has been re-established, the standard of living of the masses has recuperated from the losses of 1959-62, the recovery of industry is also a fact. This reestablishment of the economic situation in China was accomplished without even a partial return to private agriculture. The framework of the commune remained safeguarded, but the organization of labor was resumed at the village level, which corresponds with the present nature of the means of production and agricultural techniques. In allocating peasant labor, priority has again been given, correctly, to agricultural activities and not to complementary activities, the abnormal expansion of which was the essential cause of the defeat of the “great leap forward.”

The absence of Soviet aid, and the rise of autarchic policies, caused in the main by the disappearance of this aid, as well as the need to defend the country against American imperialism, have been cruelly felt in China. The rate of industrialization had to be slowed down in comparison with the forecasts of 1957-59, and progress in assimilating the most advanced contemporary techniques remains very modest except in certain special fields, particularly the military. If the isolated USSR required several decades to catch up with the technological base of the industrialized capitalist countries, this will require more time in China, a country beginning at a much lower level. In the light of this difficulty it can be seen why the Chinese leaders favor the international expansion of the revolution and why the partial boycott of China by the Soviet bureaucracy constitutes such a criminal blow against the Chinese Revolution and the international revolution.

It is not less true that the level of economic development and the overcoming of the most extreme forms of misery and human degradation now achieved by China, contrast in the most striking way with the status of the rest of Asia and Africa. This is what makes China a pole of attraction for the oppressed masses of these two continents and fundamentally explains the hate which the bourgeoisie and reactionaries of India, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Africa, etc., feel toward the Chinese Revolution.


The American aggression against Vietnam constitutes the first open imperialist attack against the territory of a workers state since the end of the Korean War more than a decade ago. It constitutes a stage in the “escalation” of the counterrevolutionary struggle which American imperialism is deliberately conducting on a world scale against each new advance of the revolution. It constitutes an important change in the international situation, imperialism having launched a war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam such as it did not dare undertake in Cuba in 1960-62.

It demonstrates the completely illusory nature of the Khrushchevist concepts of “peaceful coexistence” and “peaceful collaboration” with American imperialism, slogans which reached their high point with the signing of the Moscow treaty on halting nuclear tests in the atmosphere and under water. It shows, contrary to the affirmations of the Kremlin apologists, that imperialism will never hold back in face of the advancing world revolution, that the assumption underlying the alleged “refusal to export counterrevolution,” as advanced by these apologists of “peaceful coexistence,” is false.

It shows that despite the existence of nuclear arms and the threat this represents to mankind, the fate of the world in which we live will be decided by force in the international class struggle between the reactionary rulers of the dying capitalist system and the drive of the masses of humanity toward scientific economic planning and the classless social order of the future. All those who try to hide this fact, to gloss over it, or who refuse to recognize it, are guilty of misleading the masses and disarming the proletariat to the great advantage of imperialism and the bourgeoisie.

How is it to be explained that imperialism decided to open a new stage in 1965 in the “escalation” of its global counterrevolutionary action? A number of factors no doubt contributed, such as the progressive loss of impetus in the economic expansion of the imperialist countries, the economic and strategic importance of Southeast Asia, which threatened to be lost as a whole to imperialist exploitation through an imminent victory of the revolution in South Vietnam. But the most important factor in the decision to act was without doubt the lack of cohesion among the governments of the workers states, and the weakness, hesitancy and paralysis of the leadership of the Soviet bureaucracy. Events since then have proved that from the point of view of the interests of imperialism and the counterrevolution, the heads of American imperialism were not mistaken.

Lack of Support

The excuses advanced inside the Communist parties by the Soviet and Chinese leaders and their advocates, to justify refusing sufficient aid to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and to the National Front for Liberation in South Vietnam, scarcely merit refutation. It is true that they are somewhat more plausible in the case of China, which on the one hand does not have the most modern materiel which the Democratic Republic of Vietnam needs, and which on the other hand is directly threatened by nuclear bombing in one of the succeeding stages of the American “escalation,” if Washington does not encounter an effective deterrent. The same argument does not hold for the USSR since it is capable of replying with terrifying means on the nuclear level and thus it is improbable that it would be subjected to a nuclear attack in the present international context. But even the Chinese leaders could have furnished much more ample material aid in the beginning than they did.

It is false to affirm, as do the Maoists, that the situation in Vietnam is “excellent,” and that American imperialism is “sinking in a swamp.” The Vietnamese people have made enormous sacrifices, and the victory of the revolution which appeared imminent in January 1965 has been postponed. It is false to say that imperialism is becoming more and more “isolated” due to the “moral” condemnation which its aggression has aroused everywhere. If it succeeds in exhausting North Vietnam and arresting, if only temporarily, the progress of the revolution in the south, its power and its resolution will mount and its imperialist allies will more than ever accept its factual leadership.

It is false to think or to claim, as do the Khrushchevists and pacifists, that negotiations in the corridors, diplomatic maneuvers or pressure of any kind can cause imperialism to draw back. The imperialist gangsters respect only power. The scheme of utilizing diplomatic channels to compel imperialism to retreat is illusory. It plays into the hands of those who would like to hand Washington a success which it cannot gain by military means, thus cheating the Vietnamese masses of a victory for which they have fought for twenty years at a fearful cost in lives and suffering.

It is false to affirm that a more vigorous Soviet reaction would increase the risks today of a nuclear conflagration. How far will the White House and the Pentagon carry the aggression? The answer is-up to the point where solid resistance has been reached or is clearly impending. Thus, in face of the weak response of both Peking and Moscow, Johnson has continually extended the probing operation of American military forces. Consequently the stakes have constantly risen.

The threat to China and, in the final analysis, the Soviet Union has grown increasingly acute, posing ever more insistently the problem of the military defense of these two workers states. The Pentagon in turn, because of the depth of the commitment of American arms, has become increasingly tempted to resort to nuclear weapons and even to attack China. Thus does the logic of the war launched by Johnson in Vietnam point toward a nuclear conflict precisely because of the weakness of both Moscow and Peking in presenting an effective deterrent.

Contrariwise, a vigorous reaction from the very beginning of the American aggression would in all probability have compelled imperialism to review the situation, to abstain from the more extreme forms of aggression, to hesitate about becoming so deeply committed on the mainland of Asia, and perhaps even to draw back. In view of such considerations and Havana’s practical experience in defending the Cuban Revolution against American aggression, Fidel Castro in several speeches urged rapid and energetic reaction by all those concerned about the defense of Vietnam as the most effective way of stopping the “escalation” in time.

In opposing the imperialist aggression in Vietnam, in seeking to counter the passivity and disorganization of the anticapitalist forces, the Fourth International again stresses one of its basic theses: Only the international extension of the revolution can weaken imperialism; only the weakening of imperialism can reduce its capacity to simultaneously move against all the revolutionary fires flaring up in the world; only the overthrow of American imperialist rule by the workers of the United States - encouraged and inspired by the progress of the revolution throughout the world, as well as by the contradictions of American society itself-can definitively end the danger of a nuclear world war.

Nothing in the recent evolution of the international situation diminishes the correctness of this strategy; everything relating to the imperialist aggression against the Vietnamese Revolution confirms it in the strongest way. It is within the framework of this strategy that the Fourth International has worked out its precise proposals to defend the threatened revolutions, to alert the international proletariat to the dangers threatening it and the colonial peoples from the imperialist “escalation,” and to meet these dangers with the maximum effectiveness.


Since 1963, the colonial revolution, while progressing and extending into a series of countries (particularly Southern Arabia, Syria, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala, a number of countries in black Africa), has unquestionably suffered a series of grave defeats (Brazil, the Congo, Indonesia) or, if they were less grave from the historical point of view as a whole, were of sufficient importance to modify the political climate and the fundamental relationship of forces (Ceylon, Algeria, Chile). The common feature in all these defeats was the absence of leaderships capable of guiding the colonial revolution into its socialist phase.

In Brazil, after forfeiting the opportunities and dissipating its own forces by orienting for a bloc with the “national bourgeoisie,” the Communist party staked everything on Goulart and the circles around him, abstaining from any systematic preparation for a revolutionary reply to the masses while the generals and their domestic and American backers were openly preparing a coup d’etat. It thus lost an excellent possibility not only to raise the revolutionary movement of the masses to a higher level, but even to profoundly divide the army, the “revolt of the sergeants” having demonstrated that the army ranks were favorably disposed toward a genuine revolutionary movement.

In Indonesia, the Communist party likewise staked everything on the Bonapartist role of Sukarno, failing to educate and systematically prepare the masses for taking power in a situation that was nevertheless highly favorable. Thus the CP objectively encouraged the reactionary officer caste by not organizing a general mobilization of the masses when the generals unleashed their attack in a bid for decisive control of the government.

In Ceylon, the unions, embracing one million members, had expressed enthusiastic agreement on an anticapitalist program of “21 demands.” A campaign should have been launched behind the slogan “Power to the United Front of the Workers Organizations” (including the unions so as to bring in the Tamil plantation workers) in order to carry out this program. The campaign should have sought to mobilize the masses outside of parliament. Instead, the reformist leadership of the Lanka Sama Samaja party joined a coalition government with the party of the national bourgeoisie. This capitulation could only divide, demobilize and disorient the masses, ending in returning the United National party to power, the party of the comprador bourgeoisie. The pro-Moscow Communist party, which had promulgated this very line for years, obviously also shares responsibility for this betrayal.

In Chile, the leaderships of the Communist and Socialist parties participated in the presidential election campaign by spreading the illusion that socialism could be reached along the electoral and parliamentary road-while at the same time failing to support their electoral campaign by systematically mobilizing the masses. They thus helped prepare the victory of the “reformist” Christian Democrat Frei and undermined the position won by the workers years ago, opening up the possibility for the Christian Democrats to deal heavy blows against the labor movement.

In Algeria, the group around Ben Bella, with the approval of the former leaders of the dissolved Algerian Communist party, believed they could settle the fundamental questions of the revolution through maneuvers at the top. They failed to organize the left wing of the Front de Liberation Nationale on a broad mass base (not to mention organizing the state power on the basis of democratically elected committees), thus becoming more and more prisoner to the state bureaucracy where the bourgeois and neocolonialist influence was still strong, postponing the second phase of the agrarian reform, in this way demobilizing the majority of the poor peasantry who have yet to profit from the revolution. The group consequently rendered its own overturn inevitable at the hands of Boumedienne, supported by an army, the tops of which have been transformed into privileged elements largely cut off from the masses.

In the Congo, the circumstances were different, the crisis in the leadership of the revolution flowing in the final analysis from the backwardness of the country, the success of imperialism in blocking formation of an intellectual layer and a nationalist party on a nationwide scale during the years of colonial rule, the low ideological level of the first revolutionary leaders outside of the martyred Lumumba, the absence of a serious Marxist nucleus and the personal rivalries which became preeminent under these conditions. But in the Congo, too, the crisis was marked by grave opportunist errors such as the dissolution of the Gizenga government in Stanleyville, which controlled a considerable part of the country, and its “fusion” with the Leopoldville government. This quickly led to the liquidation of the Gizengaist armed forces and organizations.

Despite the peculiarities in each of these cases in widely separated parts of the world, the opportunist errors were due fundamentally to lack of understanding among the revolutionists of the dialectics of the anti-imperialist united front and failure to grasp the real import of the social contradictions between the “national” or “bureaucratic” bourgeoisie on the one hand and the proletariat and poor peasantry on the other.

Experience has shown that the colonial revolution cannot solve the vital problems of the masses unless it leads to the creation of a workers state that nationalizes imperialist and capitalist property, including the holdings of the “national bourgeoisie,” freeing the country’s economy from the grip of the capitalist world market and carrying through the agrarian problem in a radical way. These tasks can be carried out only by revolutionary Marxist leaderships capable of mobilizing the mass of the laboring population at each phase of the revolution in order to carry it forward.

This does not mean that the revolutionary Marxists must deliberately scorn or refuse all support to progressive measures which the revolution is capable of carrying out, even when it still remains under the leadership of bourgeois or petty-bourgeois nationalist forces.

But the anti-imperialist united front that in practice inevitably arises in favor of such measures—particularly in reply to the efforts of imperialism and its agents to force back the revolution even at this stage—benefits the revolution in the long run only if the revolutionary Marxists and the forces speaking in the name of the proletariat continually maintain their organizational and political autonomy; if the masses set up bodies enabling them to control the movement, to drive back the counterrevolution and to then take power (through soviet-type committees); if the vigilance and militancy of the masses are constantly maintained; if the masses are educated to mistrust the bourgeoisie, to understand the insufficiencies of the nationalist petty-bourgeoisie, and to comprehend the final tasks which the revolution must accomplish in order to triumph.

These conditions have been absent, in whole or in part, in all the revolutions since 1954 (when North Vietnam won freedom from French imperialism) with the exception of the Cuban Revolution, where the Fidelista leadership has to a considerable degree applied the lessons listed above as well as the general line of the permanent revolution. This explains why these revolutions have either suffered grave defeats or stagnated at the neocolonialist level, or, in the best of cases, progressed under petty-bourgeois nationalist leaderships up to the point of socialist revolution without being able to cross over into it.

The Fourth International advocates the above line in the colonial revolution. It holds that in the decisive phases of the revolution one or more variants of armed struggle are inevitable: guerrilla war; the armed struggle of workers and peasant militias based on mass organizations; armed mass struggle in the cities. Combined with a general strike, the latter form of struggle has just demonstrated its potential power in Santo Domingo, where it compelled even American imperialism to fall back tactically and postpone its project of imposing another military dictatorship upon the people.

The colonial revolution is at present developing in five big sectors of the world in which the progress and temporary setbacks in one country profoundly influence the situation in neighboring countries. In each of these sectors, the defeats referred to above have not led to a prostrating loss of morale among the masses nor to a prolonged halt in the revolution, imperialism’s not having succeeded anywhere in stabilizing the situation.

In Latin America the defeat suffered in Brazil unquestionably had grave repercussions on a continental scale. It was followed five months later by Frei’s victory in Chile. In Venezuela, although four guerrilla fronts have been consolidated with peasant support in the area of operations, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberation Nacional (FALN) have not succeeded in opening a higher stage of the struggle. In Argentina the military continues to dominate the situation despite the Peronist electoral victories, the trade-union bureaucracy avoiding a decisive test of strength with the government. In Peru the Belaunde regime unleashed severe repression against the entire workers and peasants movement; and the new nuclei of guerrilla forces have not succeeded in widening their influence or their areas of action to a great extent.

Santo Domingo

On the other hand, the revolutionary upsurge in Santo Domingo shook the position of the imperialists and the ruling class. The Yon Sosa movement in Guatemala, the guerrilla movements in Colombia and Ecuador have grown stronger. Through a general strike in October, the workers movement in Uruguay replied on a very broad scale to the government offensive. In Bolivia the repeated assaults of the Barrientos military dictatorship have not succeeded in breaking the heroic resistance of the miners, who have maintained their cohesion and kept their arms despite the loss of certain conquests of the revolution.

The victory of the Cuban Revolution touched off a movement among the revolutionary vanguard in Latin America essentially based on constructing small nuclei of guerrilla fighters, isolated from the masses, as a substitute for building a new revolutionary leadership. The vanguard paid a heavy price for these adventuristic experiences, which appeared in the Fidelista current itself, through the useless sacrifice of the most devoted and dynamic elements. But little by little a more mature conception of armed struggle displaced this putschist tendency, a conception fusing guerrilla struggle, armed mass struggle and the organization of the masses in pursuit of economic demands.

In the Arab world, the setback to the revolution dealt by the victorious coup d’etat of Colonel Boumedienne coincided with a halt in revolutionary progress throughout this sector. The stop to the Yemenite revolution imposed by the Egyptian-Saudi Arabian compromise, the victory of the forces of the right in Sudan after the overturn of the military dictatorship, the unleashing of a new wave of anti-Communist repression in Iraq, the resumption of the war against the Kurds in the same country, the fact that the reactionary forces of the Muslim Brotherhood are again lifting their head in Egypt, are signs of this stagnation and retreat.

By way of contrast, at the two extremities of this sector, in Southern Arabia and Aden on the one hand, and in Morocco on the other, the radicalization of the masses is continuing vigorously. In Morocco the “bloody week” in February 1965 served to spur all the popular forces, bringing the Union Marocaine du Travail into the camp of the opposition alongside the Union Nationale des Forces Populaires.Both organizations now favor workers self-management. They have blocked the king from consolidating his position after suspending parliament, and furthered the leftward movement of the Union Nationale des Etudiants du Maroc. In Aden and Southern Arabia, the masses are valiantly resisting the attempt of British imperialism, under Wilson’s cabinet, to crush their revolutionary upsurge, and have succeeded in closely integrating the struggle of the National Liberation Front guerrillas and the working masses of Aden.

In Black Africa, the temporary victory won by the imperialist intervention and the neocolonialist forces in the Congo has been felt heavily throughout the sector. The neocolonialist forces have regained confidence and audacity, splitting the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and leading a series of governments to increasingly counterrevolutionary actions, not only in the Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache, a bastion of neocolonialism, but in East Africa (Malawi), thus placing the African masses on the defensive just as a test of strength developed over Rhodesia, facilitating Wilson’s maneuvers for a compromise favorable to the racist whites.

This new test once again showed up the divisions within the OAU, the threats leveled against British imperialism not being followed by action except on the part of a minority of governments. The African revolutionists and their friends in the imperialist countries should, however, be wary of British military intervention which could only aim at blocking African military action. They should demand arms for the Africans instead of demanding imperialist military action against Smith.

In South Africa, on the other hand, a revolutionary crisis of huge dimensions is maturing. The procrastinating tactics of the pro-imperialist white opposition and the ineffective sabotage organized by the African National Congress and the Communist party have failed. The field is thus open for a revolutionary mass struggle in which guerrilla war will play a key role. The South African revolution will set off revolutions again throughout Black Africa. The workers movement is awakening and gaining force in Nigeria; differentiation and radicalization are taking place in countries like Tanzania and Kenya; imperialism and its agents are unable to stabilize the situation in the Congo, and a new wave of mass struggles is to be expected there, not only in the classical guerrilla zones of the most poverty-stricken plantation areas but also in the urban and most industrialized areas.

In the subcontinent of India and the bordering Middle East, the paralysis of the Indian mass movement and its still very low level in Pakistan enabled the bourgeoisie of these two countries to unleash the Indo-Pakistan war, considerably strengthening the positions and weight of imperialism in this sector. The acceptance of the position of national defense by all tendencies of the Indian workers movement except the Trotskyists, the whipping up of a wave of chauvinism by the bourgeoisie, which thus succeeded in smothering the first outbreaks among the peasants and demonstrations for food; the political drift to the right and the threat of a military dictatorship have placed the Indian revolutionary movement in the most difficult position since political independence was won.

However, the present upsurge of the reaction signifies intolerable conditions for the masses in India which will provoke new conflicts if not explosions as the armaments race, the accentuated inflation and the lack of basic necessities aggravates the already insupportable privations and misery. In Pakistan, the class consciousness of the proletariat is slowly awakening, already giving rise to significant strikes.

In Ceylon, the mass movement is on the political defensive for the first time in years due to the victory of the United National party.

On the other hand, in Iran, there has been a revival and regroupment of an opposition of an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and socialist tendency, the development of which had been temporarily halted by the decline of Mossadegh’s National Front, the discrediting of the Tudeh party because of the Soviet bureaucracy’s overtures to the Shah, and a certain reformist demagogy voiced by the palace.

In Southeast Axia the two main revolutionary poles have been South Vietnam and Indonesia. In South Vietnam, the heroic struggle of the masses is continuing and broadening, but the intervention of American imperialism bolstered the fascist General Ky, whereas on the eve of this intervention, the reactionary regime was manifestly disintegrating. Due to the same cause, the mass struggle in the cities, which was surging forward throughout 1964, came to a halt and the perspective of a quick victory for the guerrilla forces was set back. In Indonesia, the opportunist and vacillating policies of the Communist party leadership led to a grave defeat for the mass movement.

Contrariwise, the reactions against the imperialist aggression in Vietnam stimulated the mass struggle in a number of countries in this part of the world, notably in Thailand where a guerrilla movement is developing, and in the Philippines where the mass movement is reviving. The reaction to the setting up of Greater Malaysia by British imperialism stimulated the mass struggle in Singapore and touched off a guerrilla struggle in North Kalimantan. In Indonesia itself, it is more than probable that the most militant and tempered forces of the Indonesian Communist party will reply vigorously, along with at least a sector of the mass movement, to the momentarily triumphant counterrevolution. Nasution’s victory may well prove to be a Pyrrhic victory in the end.


As the Fourth International predicted at the time, the downfall of Khrushchev did not signal any profound modification in the domestic or foreign policies of the Soviet bureaucracy. Whatever the internal differences in the bureaucracy, the major lines of Khrushchevist policy have been continued. This policy includes concessions to the popular desire for more and better consumers goods, maintenance of the relative individual security against arbitrary arrest, etc., which followed abolition of the worst forms of Stalinist police terror.

The policy also includes blocking the most rudimentary forms of political opposition, with no hesitation at using repressive means to accomplish this reactionary objective. And it includes an avid desire for “peaceful coexistence” with American imperialism through division of the world into zones of influence; as well as a persistent effort to maintain a certain degree of dominance in the camp of the workers states and over the Communist parties in other countries even if with reluctant concessions to “polycentrism.” The Khrushchevist policy expresses the fundamental interests of the Soviet bureaucracy, given the present relationship of forces between it and the Soviet masses, imperialism and the international revolution. The main differences within the bureaucracy are not over strategic aims but over the tactical means of achieving them.

Khrushchev’s downfall was the result of a series of defeats for his policies which endangered the fundamental objectives of the Soviet bureaucracy indicated above: the defeat of his agricultural policy; stagnation, if not a setback, in the standard of living of the masses for several years (the freezing of real wages and a rise in prices for a number of food products, threatening to provoke a violent reaction among the workers); delays in carrying out the housing plan; appearance of new centrifugal tendencies within the camp of the workers states (Rumania); complete lack of reaction in face of the first aggression of American imperialism in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

Khrushchev’s successors sought to apply measures of greater efficacy in the various centers of crisis. In the agricultural field, they stressed a new “course toward the peasantry,” particularly by encouraging small plots and the private raising of livestock, by granting considerable investment means to the kolkhozes, and by annulling the heavy debts accumulated by the poor kolkhozes. As for the standard of living of the masses, they ended the wage freeze, speeded up the construction of housing, and sought to stimulate the quantity and quality of consumers goods. To free the resources, necessary to attain these goals, they reorganized the plant management system and planning in order in particular to achieve a higher rate of growth by reducing unused productive capacity and by shortening the cycle of outlays in major investment projects.

Within the camp of the workers states, they took the pressure off in relation to the progressive integration of several branches of industry in order to preserve a minimum of cohesion with Rumania, which was ready to break with the COMECON if this meant modifying development plans that stressed industrializing the country. They likewise sought to muffle the public polemics with the Chinese Communist party with very little by way of results-and to find a common ideological base, however limited and vague, that might regain the adherence of most of the Communist parties. But this effort has failed up to now, as the fate of the proposed March 1965 conference of Communist parties bears witness.

Interest Groups

This means that the tactical differences among the various interest groups and tendencies of the Soviet bureaucracy, which remained in the background when they reached general agreement on eliminating Khrushchev, have surged up again today and will lead inevitably to new crises in the leadership of the bureaucracy.

Particularly to be noted is the appearance of a group of former heads of the Komsomol within the leadership bodies of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. They appear to incarnate in particular the interests of the party apparatus as such, especially its agitprop apparatus which is now enormous.

Against this group the technocrats are becoming more cohesive as representatives of the so-called economic bureaucracy, which is preoccupied with economic efficiency and which has been demanding increased rights for the managers for almost a decade. This wing of the bureaucracy, which gained entry to the highest functions for the first time with the naming of Kosygin as head of government, could appear to be more “liberal” in the field of ideology insofar as it is actually in favor of loosening the control of the party apparatus over the economy and society. But this “liberalism” primarily expresses vulgar pragmatism and indifference toward Marxism. Confronted by a mass movement seeking economic gains, this wing of the bureaucracy could turn out to be much more brutal and less ready to grant concessions than the party wing of the bureaucracy, its immediate material interests running counter to those of the workers in a much more direct way.

The documents adopted at the Reunification Congress of the Fourth international (1963) stressed the existence of a “reformist” mood among the Soviet proletariat, their expectation being that things can be improved through successive reforms won from the bureaucracy rather than through a vast revolutionary movement aimed at restoring Soviet democracy and returning power to the proletariat itself. This mood is explained less by the illusions which the Proletariat may have in the Khrushchevist crew-such illusions are much more common in the West and in the apparatus of the Communist parties abroad than in the Soviet working class-than by the disastrous effects of the Stalinist period.

It is clear today that the atomization, the political apathy and the demoralization inflicted on the Soviet masses by twenty-five years of Stalinist dictatorship had a more lasting effect than the revolutionary opponents of Stalinism foresaw. The physical destruction of all the old Communist cadres and the young cadres of the Left Opposition; the almost complete halt to independent Marxist research and thought; the degradation of Marxism to the level of a state religion, identified with the privileged ruling layer and universally hated by the masses: All this created a void, a discontinuity in consciousness, not to mention revolutionary action, which will take time for the masses to overcome.

This explains why the “de-Stalinization” has not yet resulted in a wave of revolutionary action in the Soviet Union. The masses are still affected by political apathy, skepticism and cynicism concerning socialist theory, a mood from which they are freeing themselves but gradually. Their direct acts, which are beginning little by little to increase in number and extent (the appearance of pickets during the conflicts preceding the downfall of Khrushchev were an eloquent indication), are still centered around immediate demands and preoccupations, and have not yet been raised to the level of a criticism of bureaucratic management as a whole of the state and the economy, to the level of formulating a program of political revolution in the USSR.

Only the rather small nuclei of youth, particularly the intellectual youth, are going beyond these limits at the moment and achieving the level of an overall criticism, from a revolutionary-socialist outlook, of bureaucratic rule in the USSR. They are the only circles that at present visualize the perspective of overcoming this rule by returning to Soviet democracy, which involves the defense and consolidation of the economic base of the USSR against the foreign capitalist enemies and the domestic counterrevolutionaries. But the bureaucracy is trying to keep these circles isolated from the working class, an aim that is helped by the general hostility of the working class toward the intellectuals whom it identifies with the bureaucracy.

Nevertheless, the entire evolution in recent years, the successive divisions, more and more apparent within the bureaucracy, the rapid disappearance of illusions and the continued improvements in the position of the masses, the increase in direct struggles, all foster the revival of the mass movement and a rise in political interest. The proletariat, whose number now equals that of the United States, will slowly regain self-confidence and acquire full understanding of the objectives of the political revolution which it is historically destined to carry out. The creation of a new Soviet section of the Fourth International, the rebirth of a Bolshevik-Leninist organization in the USSR, will play an important role in this rebirth of revolutionary consciousness among the Soviet proletariat.

An analogous evolution is occurring in the other workers states of Eastern Europe. In Poland, the vanguard of the workers and the youth has not overcome the demoralization caused by the progressive liquidation of the gains made by the October 1956 movement; but radicalized nuclei among the student youth have made political progress, whereas many participants in the Polish October have fallen back into passivity or have become prey to skepticism.

In Czechoslovakia and to a certain degree in the German Democratic Republic, the tardy “liberalization” has not altered the political passivity and indifference of the broad layers of the proletariat and the intellectuals. But it has aroused a more critical attitude among the vanguard youth circles, a general questioning of all the dogmas inherited from the Stalinist period, a desire to find alternative solutions at all levels to the schemas and “solutions” applied by the bureaucracy. This will eventually facilitate the reappearance of independent Marxist thought and a revolutionary Marxist movement.

In Yugoslavia, the bureaucratic management has revealed in a very clearway the limits and contradictions of workers self-management confined solely within the plants in the absence of a genuine socialist democracy on the political level. The workers have felt the effects of these limits in their standard of living. This partly disappointing experience has 1ikewise stimulated skepticism and cynicism with regard to socialism, particularly among the youth, the heads of the bureaucracy themselves complaining about this. But at the same time it has helped to clarify among the most conscious elements the real content of the socialist democracy for which it is necessary to battle, and it has helped create the necessary preliminary conditions to unleash this struggle.

Throughout this whole period, both before and after the downfall of Khrushchev, the centralized leadership of the Soviet bureaucracy over the camp of the workers states became weaker and weaker. As a result of the Sine-Soviet conflict, it lost control over Albania, North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; and even in the Mongolian People’s Republic its authority is questioned. Rumania has slipped toward a position more and more analogous to that of Yugoslavia in its relations with the Kremlin. At the time of Khrushchev’s downfall, the Hungarian and Polish leaders permitted themselves to publicly express doubts both as to the necessity for this change in government as well as the way in which it was carried out. The Ulbricht group in the German Democratic Republic, which continues to fear a turn in the Kremlin’s attitude toward Bonn, has likewise taken its distance. In Czechoslovakia the tardy wave of “de-Stalinization” gave headway to the recent critical questioning of the advisability of systematically lining up with the positions and models of the Kremlin. Bulgaria appears to be the last “loyal ally” of the Soviet bureaucracy.

The multiplication of centrifugal tendencies has been registered in each of these countries by the bureaucracy taking an increasingly nationalist course. If the determination to withdraw from systematic alignment with the Kremlin, which has often been accompanied by the exploitation and oppression of the masses of the countries involved for the benefit of the Soviet bureaucracy, has without doubt had certain positive aspects—it is generally greeted with satisfaction by the masses—it has almost always degenerated into petty-bourgeois nationalism, lowered interest in the cause of the world emancipation of the oppressed, forced attempts to develop the economy on a semiautarchic basis, so long as the movement for independence remains rigidly directed by the “national” bureaucracy.

The process as a whole tends to end in the creation of supplementary obstacles to the progressive international integration of the economic resources of the workers states, due to the fear of the masses over being exploited by the Kremlin; yet a rational and scientific integration would powerfully stimulate the growth of the workers states and their standard of living. The main responsibility for the deterioration lies with the current policies of the Kremlin and the other bureaucratic leaderships, all of them educated in the school of Stalinism. Only a new rise in political interest among the masses, and the victory of the political revolution in one or more workers states, or of the proletarian revolution in an imperialist country, providing practical examples of a return to Leninist internationalism, will be able to definitively reverse this direction.


The aggravation of the Sino-Soviet conflict, particularly after the “Open Letter” published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1963 and the long series of articles issued by the Chinese Communist party in reply, greatly deepened the differentiation of currents in the international Communist movement. The Moscow preconference of March 1, 1965, did not succeed in covering this up. (See the special document devoted by this Congress to this issue.)

The break up of the monolithism of this movement led to more than the formation of pro-Moscow and pro-Peking tendencies. Not only does a centrist current exist separately from these tendencies, but both the pro-Moscow and pro-Peking tendencies are heterogeneous.

The group of pro-Peking formations extends from mass parties (particularly in Asia) to organizations of small size and little influence. Politically it extends from ultra-Stalinist formations (like the Albanian Communist party) to parties that are rather independent of the Chinese Communist party (like the Vietnamese CP and the left-wing CP in India).

Despite their approval of the general themes advanced by the Chinese Communist party in its polemics against Moscow, the pro-Peking formations follow orientations that reflect the character of their actual relations with the masses in their countries. Among the small formations (of which the Grippa group in Belgium is quite typical), a grotesque sectarianism engenders splits and self-destruction of the group. Among the big parties (particularly Indonesia and Japan), the approval of Chinese themes is accompanied by an opportunist policy of collaborating with the bourgeoisie or one of its wings, a policy which the Chinese leaders support out of diplomatic and factional reasons.

The pro-Moscow parties are much more variegated than the pro-Peking organizations. The Soviet leaders find their most solid bulwark in the Communist parties of the workers states of Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the leaders of these states and parties tend to utilize the Sino-Soviet conflict to push their “national” interests and to develop, to one degree or another, a course that is independent of Moscow, pointing in a “Yugoslav” direction. Among the advanced capitalist countries, the Communist party leaderships generally stand opposed to the Chinese position. But this has often served to facilitate evolving toward the right, even to degenerating into extreme neo-reformism. The Italian Communist party has gone the furthest along this line of evolution.

The Castroist current, whose influence is felt primarily in Latin America, constitutes an autonomous, fundamentally revolutionary tendency. It bows ideologically in neither Peking’s nor Moscow’s direction, as is particularly shown by its attitude toward the national bourgeoisie of the Latin-American countries. However, the possibilities of action open to the leadership of the Cuban state and party are objectively limited because of the blockade set up by American imperialism, compelling them to bear in mind that under these conditions Cuba is highly dependent on economic and military aid from the USSR. This situation has been additionally aggravated by the hyperfactional attitude of the leadership of the Chinese Communist party.

Still another new sign of the disintegration of the official Communist movement is the self-dissolution of certain Communist parties whose members individually entered non-Communist mass movements (Algeria, Egypt). These operations were not carried out for tactical reasons but resulted from considerations equivalent to complete theoretical and political liquidation, the Communist parties involved renouncing what they had defended up until then as their historic role and ascribing to the Algerian Front de Liberation National and the Egyptian Arab Socialist Union the role of serving as the means required by the working class to build a socialist society.


Johnson was returned to the presidency of the United States in November 1964 by the biggest majority in the history of the country. He defeated Goldwater, the Republican candidate, thanks to a coalition of heterogeneous social forces ranging from a significant segment of big business to the overwhelming bulk of the white workers and Negro people. This coalition favored Johnson largely out of fear of Goldwater, who was oriented toward the most reactionary and anti-Negro currents in the country and who called for intensifying U.S. involvement in the civil war in Vietnam even at the risk of war with China. Johnson out-maneuvered the brazen Goldwater by posing as a man of peace who favored serious civil-rights legislation, a “war on poverty,” and the construction of a “Great Society” in America.

No sooner was Johnson sworn into office than the first rift came in his popular support. Students and intellectuals, shocked at his escalation of the war in Vietnam, initiated a protest movement that quickly spread through the colleges. Fuel was added to the flames when Johnson ordered some 20,000 U. S. troops to intervene and halt a popular uprising against the heirs of the Trujillo dynasty in the Dominican Republic. The “teach-ins” and associated actions culminated in nationwide demonstrations on October 16, 1965, which succeeded in mobilizing more than 100,000 participants.

This movement is spearheaded by radicalized elements among the country’s 5,000,000 student youth. These antiwar militants belong to a new generation that reached its formative period after the crest of the McCarthyite witch-hunt and after the victory of the Cuban Revolution. They sincerely adhere to the principles of justice, equality and democracy which are incessantly preached to them as the guiding values of the “free world.” They feel alienated by such features of American society as an educational system tailored to the needs of the industrialists and militarists, the commercialization of culture, and the distasteful lifetime prospects bound up with the jobs and careers open to them. They are repelled by the more blatant evils and contradictions of capitalist society and are in moralistic and humanistic revulsion against them. They have been appalled and angered by the hypocrisy and lies of the men in power and are deeply disturbed by the discrepancy between what these figures say about democracy and peace and the brutal way in which they trample these underfoot.

The current resistance to Johnson’s belligerent foreign policy differs from the old pacifist-led antiwar crusades. It flared up at the very beginning of Johnson’s escalation of the war in Vietnam and has grown in scope and intensity with the extension of the conflict. In the history of twentieth century American imperialism, such early and widespread antiwar opposition is unprecedented. It introduces an inspiring new factor not only in the American political scene but in the world as a whole.

The attitudes of the participants in this movement are extremely variegated. Apart from the traditional pacifists who exert a certain influence, the movement is marked by two major tendencies which tend to head in opposite directions. A large contingent, despite their disillusionment with the war-mongering aspects of Johnson’s foreign policy, still retain faith in coalition politics, failing to grasp that in actual practice this means subordination to the Democratic party and the capitalist rulers behind it.

They favor “negotiations” between Washington, Hanoi and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam as the only “realistic” proposal under the circumstances. The demand for “negotiations” provides a common rallying ground for some critical voices in the capitalist class, the left liberals, conservative leaders of the antinuclear movement, the Social Democrats, and the pro-Moscow Communist party.

The radical and more militant wing of the new antiwar forces realizes that to call for “negotiations” plays into the hands of the demagogic diplomacy of Johnson and Rusk, who likewise claim to be for “negotiations.” Against the appeals for “negotiations,” the radical wing demands the immediate withdrawal of all U. S. troops from Vietnam in order to assure the Vietnamese people independence and the right to constitute a government and economic system of their own choice in a united nation.

The political character and general orientation of this promising antiwar movement will ultimately be decided by the outcome of the current contest between the liberal and radical tendencies.

If Johnson persists in his course of spreading the war in Southeast Asia, as he gives every indication of doing, antiwar sentiments among the American people will rise, perhaps at a phenomenal rate. As more youth are conscripted and sent to fight in the dirty war of colonial conquest, as the casualties mount and the costs soar and are felt by the population, the antiwar camp will receive an accession of fresh forces and acquire a much broader mass base.

This prospect is already disturbing the Johnson administration. In addition to the risks it is taking in face of the unpopularity of the Southeast Asian adventure among its allies and a more cautious sector of the American capitalist class, it must constantly take into calculation the uneasiness and anxiety about the war permeating the American people.

Many of the youth who took the initiative in organizing the antiwar movement were first drawn into mass action through participation in the civil-rights struggle both in the North and the South. The youth attracted to the Freedom Now movement applied what they had learned there to the new arena of struggle against Johnson’s war policy.

The Freedom Now movement of the American Negroes, which began developing along militant lines on a mass scale over ten years ago, N still on the rise.

The increasingly insistent drive of the Negro people for equality and emancipation has become a prime issue in the whole of American life. The highly explosive potential of this social force on the march can be gauged by the fact that the Negro poor, crowded into ghettoes, now comprise up to half the population and even more in some of the major cities, including the capital, Washington. D. C., itself. The revolt of the Negroes is a consequence of the double exploitation and oppression which they suffer in American society today: exploitation as proletarians relegated to the lowest levels in the social structure; oppression as blacks excluded from rights and opportunities enjoyed by even the most abject layers of the white workers. The reaction of the black masses thus necessarily develops in a dual way, corresponding to the dual form of oppression they experience. They conduct a simultaneous struggle on both a socio-economic and a nationalist level.

Under these circumstances, black nationalism plays a most progressive role in the dynamics of social struggle and has revolutionary implications. The irrepressible strivings of the Negro people to achieve human dignity, to unify their forces, and wield the power inherent in more than 20,000,000 members for their own aims feed what has become known as the black revolt. The possibility that the most militant, far-seeing, and courageous elements among the Negro nationalists could become sympathetic to socialist ideas was indicated by the evolution of Malcolm X whose murder was a tragic setback to this force.

Due to their double exploitation and high rate of unemployment—which comes close in many categories to that of the American working class as a whole during the great depression of 1929-32—to the gap between what is promised and their actual conditions of life and to the influence of the colonial revolution (particularly in Africa), the Negro people now constitute the most rebellious sector of American society.

The anger and impatience of the insurgent black masses continually clash with the efforts of the reformist and pacifist circles headed by the Rev. Martin Luther King to contain the movement within the framework of collaboration with the Democratic administration in return for small concessions. Such a leadership cannot overcome the resistance of the racists to integration in the South. The superficial civil-rights measures passed by Congress do not at all improve the situation in the North.

In the big ghettoes from New York to Los Angeles and from Chicago to Birmingham, housing, education, unemployment, lack of opportunity, discrimination and police brutality are becoming more and more insupportable. No reformist proposals or attempted reformist remedies can eradicate these evils; they are rooted in the special function performed by the Negroes in the economy of the profit system where they serve as the decisive component of the industrial reserve army and the principal source of cheap and unskilled labor.

The incapacity of the moderate Negro leaders and the government program to either avert the effects or eliminate the causes of the grievances of the Negro people was most dramatically demonstrated by the explosion of the Watts area in Los Angeles in the summer of 1965 which followed similar outbursts in Harlem in 1964 and Birmingham in 1963. The vehemence of this uprising, suppressed by the police and state troops, is indicative both of the power contained in the Freedom Now movement ’and the failure of that movement as yet to create a leadership, program and organization capable of directing it along the right lines.

The antiwar movement and the Freedom Now struggle have mounted as the United States reached the highest point of economic prosperity ever known and a rate of growth unequalled since World War I. However, these very economic conditions served to reinforce the conservatism and inertia of the more privileged white workers and helped to insulate them from the antiwar and civil-rights movements. This heavy default of organized labor cramps both of these struggles and restricts their tie-up with the potential power of the working class.

The top leadership of the trade-union bureaucracy under Meany and Reuther are the most malignant and vociferous backers of Johnson’s imperialist foreign policy and they give no more than lip service to the cause of the Negro freedom fighters. Despite the disdainful treatment accorded these representatives of some 16,000,000 organized workers by the official executives of the ruling class, they remain the most servile followers of the Democratic party chiefs.

The extreme unevenness of the development of the class struggle in the United States creates exceptional difficulties for the American revolutionary Marxists. While the radicalism among the student youth and the black freedom fighters opens opportunities for the growth of socialist ideas and influence, the immobility of organized labor sets relatively narrow limits to the chances of gaining a mass base among the American workers in the immediate future. It likewise constitutes a major obstacle to promoting the strategic aim of unifying the Negro struggle for freedom and equality and the antiwar movement of the youth and intellectuals with the ultimately decisive anticapitalist class force in America.

It is difficult to predict how long the American labor movement will remain quiescent. The ruling circles certainly do not consider this to be a permanent feature of the white labor force, as is shown by their continued policy of tying in the labor leaders with the state, by the intervention of the government in union disputes and negotiations of any importance, and by the enforcement of restrictive anti-labor legislation.

Any one of several developments; or, more likely, a combination of them can break up the apathy of the labor movement, stimulate new oppositional currents within it, and provide a basis for an alternative to the two party system.

On the economic level, these include a possible rise in fear of unemployment or job displacement due to automation; the pressure of mounting inflation, particularly if coupled with attempts by the employers and the government to block efforts by the workers to maintain or improve their standard of living, or the advent of a new recession.

On the level of political understanding and outlook, the repeated failure of the Democrats and Republicans to make good their promises about leading America to a better way of life fosters impatience with capitalist politics. The ultimate outcome is disillusionment and an intensification of the deep-seated feelings of insecurity among the American workers. The repeated U. S. imperialist aggressions abroad have a similar cumulative effect. Each new military adventure deepens the fear that a chain reaction can be set off ending in a nuclear world war. The world-wide condemnation of Washington’s imperialist policies reinforces the impact of this fear on the consciousness of the people.

The interweaving of these processes will intensify the readiness to turn to radical alternatives that offer a genuine way out. This will accelerate the changes in political thinking and the relation of forces already set in motion by the factors that have generated the Negro revolt and the antiwar movement. The ultimate consequences will be to shake the two-party system from top to bottom, open the way for genuinely independent labor politics and greatly expand the prospects for the swift growth of revolutionary Marxism in the United States.


The class struggle has evolved in the other imperialist countries under the combined dialectical effect of the objective socio-economic situation and the role of the workers organizations.

In Japan the Socialist party has undergone a process of radicalization, bringing it in practice into a united front both with the trade union federation SOHYO—whose connection with the party has been strengthened—and with the pro-Peking Communist party. The deterioration of the economic situation, an offensive against the right of the workers in the public sector to strike, and mounting unemployment are becoming important factors, along with the wide opposition against the imperialist aggression in Vietnam, against the Japanese-South Korean pact and against the American occupation of Okinawa.

This evolution is leading to the slow polarization of the political forces, the influence of the liberal-democratic government party being progressively worn away to the advantage of the Socialist party, without the latter however posing the problem of the conquest of power as an objective in extra-parliamentary struggles of the masses nor formulating an anticapitalist transition program that could lead to the overthrow of capitalism.

In capitalist Europe, where the mass Communist parties have pursued a more and more rightist course, the Social Democracy bas undergone new stages of political degradation, which are analyzed in detail in the special document devoted by this Congress to the situation in Europe.

Thus the Belgian Social Democracy in 1964 shared responsibility for the intervention of the paratroopers in the Congo, overthrowing the revolutionary government in Stanleyville. The German Social Democracy in September 1965 organized an electoral campaign in which its political differentiation from the main bourgeois party, the Christian Democratic Union, was wiped out, everything being subordinated to “winning” a coalition with this party. The Italian Socialist party headed by Nenni, yesterday still so ’leftist” and so well integrated in the “socialist camp,” cheerfully identified itself with NATO. The British Labour party, returning to power in the fall of 1964, organized a big-scale imperialist repression against the masses of Aden and Southern Arabia while at the same time covering up and justifying the American imperialist aggression in Vietnam.

This evolution, combined with the rightist course of the Communist parties, favored the appearance of new centrist formations located either between the Social Democracy and the Communist parties or clearly to the left of them. The conditions under which they were established and the perspectives facing them are analyzed in the resolution devoted to Europe.

Under these conditions, certain trade-union organizations, retaining minimum autonomy in relation to the reformist apparatus and its policy favoring class collaboration, have played a special role objectively as a vehicle for the most advanced tendencies of the masses opposed to the integration of the workers movement in the bourgeois state. This was the case with the Industrie Gewerkschaft Metall and the Industrie Gewerkschaft Chemie in West Germany, of the Transport and General Workers Union and partially of the Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians, and the Amalgamated Engineering Union in Great Britain, the Liege regional Federation Generale des Travailleurs de Belgique and partially the Centrale Generale des Services Publics in Belgium.

The decline in the rate of profit, the aggravation of interimperialist competition, the loss of impetus in the boom, the intrinsic needs that flow from the acceleration of the renewal of fixed capital—all these factors determine a growing offensive against trade-union rights and independence emanating from management and the state, an offensive culminating in various anti-strike or anti-union laws. The fact that even the Wilson government is seeking to impose similar legislation in Great Britain indicates that this is a general tendency, holding for all of capitalist Europe.

The reaction of the working class of capitalist Europe to this offensive, as well as to the efforts of management to limit or periodically skip wage increases, nevertheless continues to be quite vigorous, as was indicated by the opposition in Belgium to the “anti-strike laws” that were passed in 1963, the opposition of the West German trade unions to the emergency laws proposed at the last Bundestag, and the opposition of the Italian trade unions to analogous tendencies. If the Wilson government tries to actually apply similar legislation in Great Britain, it will likewise run up against the stubborn resistance of the working class.

The workers found themselves much more disarmed on the other hand in face of the sudden reappearance of unemployment, cuts in hours and layoffs in Italy and France in 1964-65. It is precisely in a defensive battle at the least favorable time in an economic cycle that the role of leadership appears most prominently, and the workers of these two countries had to pay a heavy price because of the absence of any overall strategy among the unions and workers parties.

With the exception of France, where the proletariat suffered a grave defeat with de Gaulle’s coming to power and the way in which the two traditional workers parties accepted it, the working class of Western Europe has nevertheless retained its militancy and power of resistance everywhere. And when a conjuncture of various factors favoring a broad struggle occurs, this could break out on a scale climaxing anything seen in the past. This was found to be the case in Belgium in 1960-61. It was experienced again last summer in Greece.

The amplitude and the dynamism of the great mass demonstrations against the court’s plot to bring down the Papandreou government, whose “liberal” policy was judged by the military clique, the big shipowners and certain American circles to be too risky, caught the reaction by surprise and for a time even left it at a loss. The reactionaries, however, gained a tactical victory, winning a majority for the reactionary Stephanopoulos cabinet after two previous attempts were defeated.

This success was above all due to the parliamentary cretinism and opportunism of the Communist party and the United Democratic Left, which deliberately kept the demonstrations of the masses within a framework of mere pressure on parliament, even refusing to launch the slogan for a referendum and for a republic, not to mention slogans calling on the masses to organize committees and bodies for self-defense or outright anticapitalist slogans. The militancy of the masses was thus simply drained away, the whole perspective being placed on elections to the legislature.

But this wave of struggle did not remain without effect on the level of consciousness and organization of the vanguard workers. One of the tasks of the Greek revolutionary Marxists is to explain all these lessons as being only the first phase in a longer struggle and to organize in such a way that the next phases lead to an outstanding success for the mass movement.


(1) The most urgent immediate task facing revolutionary Marxists on a world-wide scale is to strengthen the struggle against the imperialist aggression in Vietnam and for the Vietnamese Revolution:

(a) By doing everything possible to extend demonstrations upholding the right of the Vietnamese people to decide their own fate and demanding the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of imperialist troops from Vietnam.

Only demonstrations that mobilize a considerable sector of the mass of workers can have a decisive effect on the outcome. Wherever the bureaucracy of the labor movement constitutes an obstacle to this, it is possible in many countries to make an effective beginning through committees representing smaller forces and combining them in united-front actions on as large a scale as possible. Vigorous campaigns by such committees, including staging such demonstrations as are within their resources, can speed the process of bringing the workers into the struggle on a massive scale.

(b) By tirelessly stressing the need for an anti-imperialist united front on an international scale.

The proposed united front includes reuniting all the workers states on a governmental level, whatever their differences may be on other levels, combining all the big workers organizations of the capitalist world, the entire revolutionary movement of the colonial and semicolonial areas—all of this around a single central objective: opposition to the imperialist aggression in Vietnam and mobilization of effective military and material aid for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

(c) By organizing, where practical, material and medical aid for the Vietnamese Revolution, particularly in areas like Western Europe where such campaigns have considerable opportunities for substantial success.

(d) By assiduously propagating and explaining the basic truth that the most effective way to weaken the imperialist aggression in Vietnam is through the intensification of revolutionary struggles in other countries.

In the opinion of the Fourth International, actions and educational work conducted along these lines not only conform to the principles of international solidarity in a struggle of crucial importance, they can have a powerful effect in counteracting both the opportunist defaults of the pro-Moscow Communist parties and the factional defaults of the pro-Peking Communist parties with regard to support for the Vietnamese Revolution and in helping to bring together forces of sufficient weight to compel the White House to withdraw its military forces from the mainland of Asia, thereby reversing the present highly dangerous drift toward nuclear war.

While the top priority immediate tasks center around the struggle against the imperialist aggression in Vietnam, other tasks, some of which can be stated more generally, remain of central importance. These tasks do not stand in contradiction to the work of defending the Vietnamese Revolution; active defense of the Vietnamese Revolution, in fact is but one of the current means of furthering them.

(2) The unconditional defense of all the workers states, beginning with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, against imperialism. Of special concern in this field is the defense of revolutionary Cuba because of its exposed geographical position and the extreme measures taken by U.S. imperialism to crush it.

(3) Defense of the revolutionary conquests of Algeria against both imperialist pressure and domestic reaction.

(4) Defense of revolutionary movements under way such as those in the Congo, Santo Domingo, Venezuela, etc., against imperialist intervention.

(5) Support to the movement for unilateral nuclear disarmament in the imperialist countries.

The Fourth International holds that the anti-nuclear movement should be broadened and turned resolutely toward the plants and the big workers organizations. Every effort must be made to spread understanding of the fact that only through the workers taking power and abolishing capitalism in the imperialist strongholds, culminating in the United States, can the world be freed forever from the nightmare perspective of a nuclear war.

(6) Support to the efforts to achieve a positive outcome to the crisis shaking the international Communist movement. To the questions being raised more and more by the most advanced Communist members, the Fourth International seeks objective consideration of the answers to be found in its program. The Fourth International has taken an independent position in this crisis and proposes to maintain it. As in the past, the Fourth International will continue to give critical support to the Chinese opposition against such key points of Khrushchevist opportunism as the drift of certain Communist parties toward Social Democratic positions; abandonment of the Leninist theory of the state and the party; advancing “peaceful coexistence” as the main strategic line of the international Communist movement, spreading illusions about the alleged possibility of a “peaceful road” to socialism, etc., while bluntly criticizing the opportunist and ultraleftist aspects of Peking’s policies (rehabilitation of Stalin; support of the opportunist politics of the leaderships of the Indonesian and Japanese Communist parties; promulgation of the theory of “revolution by stages” in flagrant contradiction to the concept of the “uninterrupted revolution”; issuing misleading propaganda about the “advantages” accruing to the revolutionary cause through U. S. imperialism deepening its military intervention in Vietnam, etc.).

(7) The Fourth International attaches particular importance to the working and student youth, who stand in the vanguard today in a number of countries. The social, political and cultural preoccupations of this youth are of the keenest interest to the Fourth International, as it is capable of attracting a growing number of them to its ranks.

The solving of specific political and organizational problems facing a series of sections is considered by the leadership of the Fourth International to be of special importance. These will be considered in a document to be published internally.

The world political situation has grown so complex and changes with such rapidity today that only the broad lines of developments of special current importance internationally can be indicated in a document of this character. This holds true even more so, of course, for tactical problems arising from national and local Peculiarities. The grave events disturbing all peoples today speak with ever greater insistence on the imperative necessity to build a revolutionary socialist leadership in each country capable of working out in time the correct class-struggle solutions to the political and tactical problems facing the working people and the great mass of humanity. But if the responsibilities facing national leaderships have greatly increased in recent years, this also means that the need for a genuinely revolutionary Marxist international has grown more imperative. It is no longer possible to find strictly “national” solutions to major economic, social and political problems. All key struggles are now fought out on an international level.

Against the formidable international counterrevolutionary forces defending and advancing the interests of the capitalist system, the working class and its allies require an international leadership, an international party of their own.

The basic program for this party and an important selection of cadres on a world scale already exist in the Fourth International. To strengthen the Fourth International means to hasten building the revolutionary socialist leadership capable of guiding the mass forces even now gathering to take the world into the socialist civilization of tomorrow.


Last updated on 11.19.2005