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Toward a History of the Fourth International

Declaration of the International Majority Tendency

[From the International Internal Discussion Bulletin Number 1 in 1977, July of 1977. Published as a fraternal courtesy to the United Secretariat of the Fourth International by the US Socialist Workers Party.]

[The following declaration was adopted by the Steering Committee of the International Majority Tendency (IMT) at the end of February. The IMT made their declaration available to the National Committee of the SWP prior to its April plenum.]

The changes that have occurred both in the world situation and within the Fourth International require that the International Majority Tendency (IMT) redefine its political platform. The following statement represents a definition in this direction.

1. The evolution of the world situation during the past several years has been marked by a new deterioration of the relationship of forces for imperialism, a deepening of the favorable conditions for the rise of world socialist revolution. The defeat of American imperialism in Vietnam and the reunification of Vietnam into a new workers state; the defeat of Portuguese colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea Bissau and the outcome of the Angolan civil war, which further extended the crisis of the system of imperialist domination toward southern African and Portugal; the first generalized recession of the international capitalist economy since the second world war and the grave crisis of political leadership of international imperialism which has coincided with it; the conjunction of this economic crisis with the rise of workers struggles and a generalized social crisis in a number of countries of southern Europe, which has led or will lead these countries to the brink of revolutionary crisis (Portugal 1975) or of pre-revolutionary situation (Spain, Italy, France) such are the factors that have especially contributed to this evolution. Generally speaking, the general instability of the system is much more pronounced than it was during the 1950s and 1960s, even though there are notable differences from country to country, and even though American imperialism on the one hand and West German imperialism on the other have been much less shaken than most of their partners/competitors.

The import and objective consequences of the emergence of imperialist relays in the form of bourgeoisies in semi-industrialized countries commanding capital wealth and formidable military strength (Brazil, Iran, South Korea) must not be underestimated. Nevertheless, their capacity for counter-revolutionary action is undermined by explosive social contradictions in their own countries.

It may be thus concluded that if there have not been more victories for the socialist revolution during this phase, it is not primarily due to the intrinsic strength of the capitalist system, its reserves, and its ability to maneuver (factors which, of course, are involved to varying degrees in explaining world evolution), but more than ever to the crisis of proletarian leadership, to the disorienting, demobilizing, and divisive role of the traditional leaderships of the workers movement: Social Democratic, Stalinist, CPs of Stalinist origin, various trade union bureaucracies, and to the “peaceful coexistence” policy of the Soviet and Chinese bureaucracies. It is these leaderships whose policies have once again wasted excellent opportunities for revolutionary “breakthroughs,” particularly in Chile and Portugal, where the proletariat had exhibited remarkable combativity and revolutionary energy. In the present phase these leaderships are trying to repeat the same counterrevolutionary operations in Spain and Italy, and they will repeat these attempts in France in the future.

The new wave of the crisis of Stalinism in the USSR and Eastern Europe and the crisis of Maoism in China, parallel to the accentuated crisis of the capitalist system, indicates that the forces working toward a political revolution in the bureaucratized workers states are also developing. There is, however, growing interaction among the manifestations of this crisis (particularly the repression in the USSR and the “people’s democracies”), the development of consciousness within the workers movement in the capitalist countries of the phenomena of bureaucratization of the workers states, the political evolution of the CPs of Western Europe and elsewhere (Japan, Mexico, etc.), and the development of new opposition tendencies within these states, oppositions more oriented toward the working class and the international workers movement.

2. The trend toward the shift of the center of gravity of the world revolution to the imperialist countries (already stressed in the documents adopted at the Ninth and Tenth World Congresses) has intensified further during the past three years. It is combined with the greater weight of urban and proletarian struggles in the semicolonial and dependent countries themselves, at least in the most developed of them. The resistance of the Argentine proletariat to the military junta, the significant struggles of the Egyptian proletariat, and the explosions in the proletarian townships of South Africa constitute the most spectacular confirmations of this trend, which is also stimulated by advances in industrialization and urbanization in a whole series of semicolonial and dependent countries. What is involved, then, is a new stage in the dialectic of the world revolution, one which in no way implies a weakening of the possibilities for revolution in these countries.

This entire evolution culminates in the trend toward a more or less combined revolutionary upsurge in southern Europe (Spain, Italy, France, Portugal), Because of the increased social weight, higher level of organization, and degree of combativity of the proletariat of these four countries, and because of the gains in experience and capacity for self organization that have been made in the past few years, this revolutionary crisis already promises to be one of the most serious in the whole history of the capitalist system. It will last for an entire period. Since this is the first time that the world’s major revolutionary crisis will occur in countries in which the Fourth International commands organizational strength and a real capacity for intervention, the International’s future development will depend in large measure on the successes or failures of its intervention in these revolutions.

For a series of both historical and structural and conjunctural reasons, the outcome of these revolutionary upsurges will depend jointly on the proletariats of these countries undergo if genuine experiences of a period of dual power during which the superiority of proletarian democracy over bourgeois democracy will be assimilated by the majority of the workers and on the transformation, in this context, of revolutionary Marxist organizations already rooted in the class into genuine revolutionary parties fighting to win the majority of the proletariat to their program and project of the conquest of power by workers councils.

The struggle for the realization of the transitional program as a whole, the struggle for the generalization of organs of self organization of the working class, and the struggle to build mass revolutionary parties are but three aspects of one and the same reality: the transformation of the proletariat from a class still under the hegemony of the reformist leaderships into a class capable of successfully taking its fate into its own hands in order to reorganize the entire society on a socialist basis.

Within the workers movement, the major obstacle to the socialist victory remains the class collaborationist policy of the CPs, SPs, and trade union bureaucracies, whatever particular forms it may take at one or another stage, in one or another country. The policy of popular front is only one of these possible forms. It must be vigorously denounced, but only as one variant of a more general orientation and political project, otherwise the workers could be disoriented if suddenly confronted with other variants of the same project of collaboration with the institutions of the bourgeois state and the employers. Is it necessary to recall that three of the cases in which policies of betrayal of the interests of the proletariat are now being applied in Europe by parties which hold a majority within the class are instances of “bourgeois workers” governments without representatives of bourgeois parties (Britain, Portugal) and support for a purely bourgeois government “from the outside” (Italy)? Our major attack must be directed against the basis of the betrayal (maintenance and consolidation of the bourgeois state apparatus, efforts to patch up the capitalist economy at the expense of the workers, while respecting the rules of the profit economy) and must place the denunciation of the alliances with the bourgeois parties in this more general framework.

3. But while betrayal of the interests of the proletarian revolution by the leaderships of the SPs, CPs, and trade union bureaucracies has been a constant feature of the workers movement for half a century (for sixty years in the case of the Social Democracy) and remains the major threat to the rising revolution in southern Europe, a new factor must be underscored which seriously modifies the present situation compared to that of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The grip of the traditional bureaucratic leaderships over the working class as a whole has weakened appreciably. The relationship of forces within the organized workers movement (particularly in the factories and trade unions) between these bureaucracies and the forces that escape their control at least partially and periodically has improved considerably for the latter. Granted, the traditional leaderships retain broad majorities within the class and still hold political hegemony. There has thus been no qualitative change in this situation. But the quantitative changes that have occurred are of such scope that they seriously improve revolutionary Marxists’ chances to prevent pre-revolutionary struggles from being stifled by the traditional leaderships.

In this conjuncture, marked by the depth of the crisis of the political, social, and economic system, the modification of the relationship of forces within the workers movement does not at all rule out phases during which the reformists and neo-reformists, because of their preponderant weight within the class, may even gain an increased audience for their overall political projects. This makes a policy of united front on the part of our organizations more necessary and timely, a policy which must be concretized particularly by proposals for united action around the major needs of the masses at each given stage. The application of such a united front policy, even during such phases, is made possible by the modifications in the relationship of forces previously underlined. This means that the temporarily greater credibility of the reformist political projects does not at all imply that they will succeed as they have in the past in imposing respect for all the implications of their class collaborationist policy on the workers. On the contrary, it suggests that there will be extensive instances of the reformists’ being outflanked, instances for which our organizations must be prepared.

The IMT has been calling attention to these changes and their consequences since the pre Tenth World Congress period. There were many misunderstandings and false counter-positions in the subsequent discussion. Let us clarify a number of points.

a) What is involved in the emergence of a mass vanguard is a social phenomenon and not an assemblage of the so called far left organizations. This social vanguard began to mature during the mid 1960s and has played an important role in the explosions of 1968-69 in France and Italy, in the Portuguese events of 1974-75, and in the reconstruction of the workers movement and successive waves of struggle in Spain, a country in which’ because of the lack of legal structures of mass organization’ this vanguard encompasses the essential portion of the workers cadres recognized by the class at the factory and neighborhood level at the present stage.

b) Precisely because of its social character, the broadening of this mass workers vanguard is also expressed in a process of differentiation within the traditional parties (a part of this vanguard began to emerge within the Socialist and Communist youth organizations, as well as within the SPs and CPs), in possible splits and left trade union currents.

c) This vanguard’s lack of programmatic and political coherence, like the partial character of its break with the projects upheld by the bureaucratic leaderships, does not at all negate the reality and importance of this phenomenon: at key moments in political, social, and economic life, hundreds of thousands of workers refuse to follow the line of their traditional leaderships. Such is the balance sheet of Portugal in 1975, Spain at the end of 1976 and the beginning of 1977, Italy since Berlinguer agreed to support Andreotti’s austerity policy. The same phenomenon will occur again in the future, on a grand scale in France and perhaps Britain, just as it has already occurred on a more limited scale in Denmark, Greece, Argentina, Chile, and elsewhere. (The pace and scope with which it will spread to other countries will depend primarily on the pace and scope of the new rise of workers struggles.)

In fighting against the consolidation of the state and army of the bourgeoisie and against the projects of austerity and step by step liquidation of the major gains of the working class of the years 1974-75, the broad vanguard of the Portuguese proletariat (not grouplets, but hundreds of thousands of workers and poor peasants) were defending the interests of the entire class, the interests of the Portuguese revolution. The weakness of the Trotskyists (who were but a handful as of April 25, 1974) resulted in the political leadership of this social vanguard falling into the hands of centrists and ultra-leftists, which did not enable control of the majority of the working class to be wrested from Soares and Cunhal and facilitated the maneuvers of these traitors in maintaining the proletariat divided and bound to the project of reconstituting a capitalist Portugal.

Likewise in Italy, because of the weakness of our section compared with three centrist organizations which hold hegemony in the far left, the enormous potential of hundreds of thousands of workers in the big factories who in practice refused to follow the traitorous policy of Berlinguer and the tens of thousands who rejected it was not transformed into a political springboard for shaking the hold of the bureaucrats over the members and voters of the Italian CP.

We must fight with all our might to prevent this from happening again in Spain and France, and to make sure that positive experiences in these countries combined with a growth of our sections, can have repercussions in Portugal, Italy, and possibly other countries of Europe, where a similar evolution may occur some time after it does in the most unstable imperialist countries.

This requires constant political and ideological battle against the confusionism and political deviations of the ultra-leftist and centrist formations, combined with a policy of united front which lends credibility to our orientation toward replacing, in practice, the traditional bureaucratic leadership of the working class with a new alternative leadership.

Understanding the uneven advance of the class consciousness of the proletariat, we try to grasp the reality of the workers movement in all its complexity and motion. We understand that it is possible for the electoral weight of the SP and CP to increase at the same time that their control over significant portions of the working class may be loosened in day to day struggles and mobilizations. The combination of our policy of united front toward the mass organizations, our efforts to stimulate self organization of the class (elected strike committees, general assemblies of the strikers and general trade union assemblies in the factories, neighborhood committees, women’s committees, etc.), and our fight to qualitatively broaden our political influence within the broad vanguard corresponds both to the precise stage of recomposition of the workers movement the class struggle has reached in the countries mentioned above and to the needs of the whole working class.

On the other hand, any policy such as that upheld by the Leninist Trotskyist Faction (LTF) and the Bolshevik Tendency (BT),’ which blurs over the contradictory

features of this stage of the recomposition of the workers movement, denies the existence or does not grasp the importance and practical consequences of the social phenomenon of the broad vanguard, reduces the workers movement to the traditional organizations, and deduces the weight of various currents primarily from electoral results and bureaucratic weight, may well find itself out of step with explosive struggles. In practice it tends to lead to combining a policy of denunciation of the traitorous leaderships with a failure to take initiatives going beyond the policy put forward by these bureaucracies. It even threatens to become counterposed in practice to struggles that clearly express the interests of the entire class (such as the struggle against the various austerity policies or attempts to establish soviet type organs during revolutionary crisis), under the pretext that these struggles are most often begun by the action of “minority” sectors.

4. The minority faction at the Tenth World Congress has divided on several occasions in face of these principal features of the new rise of world revolution: during the 1976 TEC plenum some Latin American groups broke from this tendency; a crisis broke out in the Spanish LC over the situation in Spain. The minority’s line during the Tenth World Congress had not prepared it politically for these events. Its balance sheet is one of striking failure. In face of each successive revolutionary crisis since the Tenth World Congress the LTF has made wrong prognoses and analyses and has proposed a line of action which would have been a political disaster for our movement had it won a majority in the International.

Contrary to a serious analysis of the social and political conditions in South Vietnam, the LTF obstinately persisted, right up through the collapse of the Thieu regime, in interpreting the VCP’s support for the signing of the Paris accords and its explanation of the meaning of these accords as a partial implementation of a program aimed at consolidating capitalism in South Vietnam. In this the LTF based itself on a purely literal interpretation of the “program” of the Vietnamese NLF, obstinately denying the reality of the line of action of the VCP, which, though wavering in consequence of its only partial and empirical break with Stalinist doctrines and of its opportunism and bureaucratism, has nevertheless oriented itself toward the liquidation of the regime of the landlords and the bourgeoisie, toward rejection of any policy of coalition based on maintaining the system of private property, toward the creation of a workers state, albeit bureaucratically deformed from the outset.

Contrary to all evidence and to the analysis of the social and political forces involved, and once again right through the catastrophe represented for its orientation by the open intervention of the South African army on the side of the UNITA FNLA and the deployment of military forces of the Cuban revolution on the side of the MPLA, the LTF continued to place the three organizations engaged in the Angolan civil war on the same footing, going so far as to deny the character of this civil war as a clash between formations representing different social forces and instead presenting it as an intertribal conflict or a conflict between nationalities in formation. This made it impossible for the publications carrying the LTF line or for the LTF reporter at the February 1976 IEC to give any coherent line flowing from their own correct position of support to the military struggle against the South African invaders and made it impossible for them to explain the different attitudes which revolutionary Marxists had to take toward imperialist mercenaries and South African troops on the one hand and the troops of the Cuban workers state on the other hand.

Contrary to all evidence and to a serious Marxist analysis of the social and political forces involved, the LTF presented the systematic and deliberate offensive of Mario Soares (unanimously supported by the Portuguese bourgeoisie, the high command of the Portuguese army, and imperialism) against the revolutionary gains of the proletariat, poor peasants, and soldiers in 1975, an offensive whose main purpose was the reconsolidation of the bourgeois state apparatus and repressive apparatus which had widely disintegrated under the impact of the revolutionary upsurge of 1975, as a defense of democratic rights by the Social Democracy against a military dictatorship. It is sufficient to examine subsequent events to perceive the gross error of analysis made by the minority and the disastrous political conclusions drawn from it, which it attempts to camouflage today under the embarrassed formula: the army changed its position and wound up preferring Soares to Cunhal.

To this day the LTF has drawn no lessons from its evident inability to apply the traditional Trotskyist line of centering action during a situation that is becoming revolutionary on the extension, generalization, coordination, and centralization of the various organs of a soviet or pre soviet type which emerged on a broad scale during the Portuguese revolution, even if in varying forms and with varying degrees of representativeness.

Finally, in the revolutionary crisis ripening in Spain the LTF kept silent on the apparently doctrinaire but actually ultra opportunist maneuvers of the leadership of the LC, especially on the trade union question, a decisive one in Spain today. In effect, the LC, motivated by blind Stalinophobia (going so far as to consider the Workers Commissions as anti trade union and as the major force responsible for trade union division), openly opted for trade union division and supported the demagogy of the Social Democratic bureaucracy, to the point of stating that it favored the breakup of the Coordinacion Sindical of the Workers Commissions, UGT, and LJSO, and asserting that trade union unity boiled down to UGT CNT unity.

If such positions had been identified with the Fourth International, the Trotskyists would have appeared as dividers of the working class. This was able to be avoided only thanks to the audience of the LCR and the healthy reaction of the working class rank and file of the LC (of which the portion organized in the “Workers Tendency” has been expelled from the LC and has joined the LCR).

We find a common method in all these false positions: underestimation of revolutionary possibilities in certain countries on the brink of revolutionary crisis or already immersed in such a crisis; overestimation of reformist control over mass movements under such conditions; failure to distinguish clearly from tactics and slogans appropriate to “normal” situations to the tactics and slogans required by situations of pre-revolutionary or revolutionary crisis; formalism in the approach to key problems of political and social struggles (the political forces at play tend to be judged essentially on the basis of their writings and not their objective role in the class struggle); confusion on the problem of the state, particularly the institutions of the bourgeois democratic state and the role of the proletarian state power in the overthrow of capitalism, and confusion on the role of bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalism among the oppressed nationalities, with an underestimation of the influence this ideology exerts in retarding the constitution of the proletariat as a class organized separately from the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, including on the political level.

It is natural that this faction blew apart under the combined effects of the experience of the Angolan and Portuguese revolutions on the one hand and the political failure of the LTF in the four cases cited above on the other hand. It has divided into two organized groups: the BT, which includes the majority of its forces in Latin America, and the LTF, which, in addition to the important sector of North America and Australia, includes a few nuclei in Latin America, Europe’ and Asia. It is significant that an important part of the Central Committee of the Spanish LC, the only significant organization supporting the LTF in Europe, has also broken with the LTF.

As for the BT, it split off from the LTF only belatedly. It has offered no credible account of the reason for which it remained so long associated with a faction that evolved toward the disastrous positions on Vietnam, Angola, Portugal, and Spain outlined above. While the BT has since declared itself generally in agreement with the positions of the IMT on Angola, and while it has adopted positions midway between those of the IMT and those of the LTF on the key importance of the struggle for the emergence, generalization, and centralization of soviet-type organs of self organization of the toiling masses in a situation moving from pre-revolutionary to revolutionary, its basic methodology remains opportunist and tailendist.

It is founded on systematic confusion between the mass movement and the bureaucratic apparatus of the organizations that hold the majority within the working class, constantly underestimating the possibility of the apparatus being outflanked by the movement’ often making concessions to the orientations of the apparatus under the pretext of gaining the ear of the masses. The line of the Argentine PST during the year preceding the military coup, the line of the Uruguayan PRT during the period of the Frente Amplio and at the beginning of the Bordaberry coup, the line of the Portuguese PRT toward the Soares apparatus, and the line upheld by the BT for Spain and Italy can all be reduced to this common denominator. The BT, like the LTF, also confuses defense of democratic rights of the masses with defense of the institutions of the bourgeois parliamentary state.

In addition, the BT is characterized by ultrafactional behavior, virtually openly theorizing the priority of building the faction over building the party and the International and overstepping the organizational norms that must regulate any Leninist organizations as soon as political differences are aggravated somewhat.

5. Between the Tenth and Eleventh World Congresses the International has gone through a period of growth, often modest, sometimes spectacular (above all in Spain, Mexico and Colombia and through the appearance and stabilization of its first daily, in France) and extension of the scope of its geographic base. In essence, this growth results from the favorable modification of the relationship of forces, both between the classes and within the working class and the organized workers movement. The capacity of the International and its major sections to seize these opportunities, however, is a function of the correct political orientation of the general political resolution passed by the Tenth World Congress. In this sense, it may be said that the political line adopted by the Tenth World Congress has not been an obstacle but on the contrary a stimulant to building the International.

In addition, the majority of the leadership that came out of the Tenth World Congress has demonstrated its maturity by adhering against hell and high water and in the face of genuine provocations such as the expulsion of the IT comrades from the SWP and the formation by the BT of a quasi public faction in the Mexican PRT—to a resolutely unitary conception, defending the principle of maintaining the unity of the International. This conception is not based on “opportunist concessions” on anyone’s part, but on a correct analysis of the character of the differences, one which has been confirmed by events.

The differences that have arisen in the Fourth International turn around the analysis of some of the major focuses of the world class struggle. But despite the scope of this discussion, the gravity of the errors of analysis and political positions adopted by the minorities, and the serious theoretical confusion which has been exhibited on some questions, the IMT reaffirms that all the components of our International have their place in it, that none of them has degenerated, nor do any base their orientation on a revision of the Trotskyist program. The IMT consequently defines its objectives in terms of a discussion within the Fourth International. The aim of the IMT is to assure, through this discussion, a new political coherence of the whole of our movement, and not simply to win a majority, thus contributing to calling a halt to the political course now being followed by the minorities.

The capacity of the IMT to make its self criticism on the Latin American document of the Ninth World Congress, a document which incontestably played an important role in precipitating the tendency struggle within the movement but which cannot principally account for this struggle, especially in light of the events in Portugal, Angola, and Spain, represents additional proof of the maturity of the International leadership.

Nevertheless, the balance sheet of the International since the Tenth World Congress is not solely one of progress and success, though these are real. There have also been deficiencies and failures which must be stressed:

a) While the International center has been strengthened in accord with the decisions voted at the Tenth World Congress, and while the appearance of INPRECOR in four languages for the first time gives the International leadership an instrument for making its current political elaboration known to a significant portion of the members and sympathizers of the Fourth International, the center remains much too weak in cadres and material resources to be able to respond to all the requirements of an organization that has appreciably increased in numerical strength, implantation in the class, and geographical breadth. Important functions such as the coordination of workers work in Europe, the coordination of women’s work, support to Arab work, and support to the comrades in Asia have not been carried out or have been carried out very inadequately.

b) There has been a serious delay in political elaboration, particularly on the balance sheet of the revolution and counterrevolution in Latin America and on the new oppositions in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

c) There was insufficient reaction from the leadership to incorrect, “vanguardist” interpretations of the European document, the consequence of which has been that the necessary readjustments in orientation in countries like France or Spain have had to be made primarily on the initiative of the leaderships of sections, and inevitably belatedly. More generally, the overabundance of tasks facing the still too limited center has prevented adequate and regular discussion of the tactical problems of the European sections by the leadership of the International.

d) There were insufficient demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese left during the civil war in this country.

e) There has been a politically unjustified interruption in the regular publication of a theoretical review of the Fourth International in several languages as well as in the regular publication of the internal bulletins in the French language.

f) There is insufficient coordination in the realm of publications, an area in which there has been considerable expansion.

g) There have been hesitations, a lack of clarity, belated definition of definite criteria, and an excessively long delay in initiatives on the question of regroupments.

Correcting these errors and radically overcoming these weaknesses will be an important task for the new leadership of the International that comes out of the Eleventh World Congress. These are the essential preconditions for maintaining and accelerating the growth of the International after the Eleventh World Congress.

6. The tendency struggle within the International has created, especially since the Tenth World Congress, an abnormal organizational situation in which the elementary norms of democratic centralism have been violated. Thus, infractions of discipline have been committed in the application of the positions taken by the World Congress and the plenums of the IEC on the Portuguese revolution, and the national liberation struggle in Angola. This abnormal situation has triggered an extremely dangerous dynamic, inasmuch as this violation is beginning to be theorized and systematized at the level of principles.

The idea of an International based on democratic centralism has been defended since 1914 by international Marxists, since 1919 by all communists, and between 1933 and 1940, with determination, by Trotsky and the Trotskyists. This is not at all a question of a “separate organizational chapter” of revolutionary Marxist theory, something which has nothing to do with the program and would somehow express the “particular national experience” of the workers movement depending on whether it is accepted warmly, reluctantly, or only with lip service. The idea of an International based on democratic centralism is an integral part of our political program. It is the logical and inevitable complement of the theory of imperialism and the theory of the permanent revolution. Any systematic rejection of this idea (whether in theory or solely in practice) inevitably reveals deviations and leads to the practice, if not the theory, of “national” communism and socialism in one country. “Parallel with Trotsky’s irreconcilability in defending the internationalist principles of the movement was his adamant insistence upon the necessity and primacy of the international organization. ‘Only an international organization can be the bearer of an international ideology.’ The organizational form flows from and must correspond to the party’s platform.” (John G. Wright, “Trotsky’s Struggle for the Fourth International,” in Fourth International, August 1946.)

Granted, the international application of democratic centralism differs from its national application. The International does not impose national leaderships or national tactics on sections against the will of the majority of the members, not because the International leadership “lacks authority” or “has not proven itself,” but because to act in such a way is ineffective, that is, contrary to the interests of party building and the proletarian revolution (a leadership commanding the authority of a Lenin or a Trotsky should be ever more resolute in not applying such mechanical discipline, for it would have much more serious consequences since it might more easily be accepted at the outset).

The objective basis for this difference in the application of democratic centralism in the national and international spheres lies in the fact that the conquest of state power by the proletariat is still essentially carried out on the national level, that the national party is an instrument that aims primarily at this. But this very definition of the problem demonstrates its full complexity. On the one hand the internationalization of the class struggle means that the proletariat is increasingly confronted by the intervention of the international bourgeoisie before, during, and immediately after the seizure of power (as the example of Portugal once again confirms). On the other hand, the international extension of the revolution is an indispensable condition not only for building socialism but also for an effective struggle against the bureaucratic deformations of workers power.

The existence of an international organization with an international structure and discipline thus corresponds both to the needs of the proletarian revolution and to the interests of the world proletariat in our epoch; it is not just a stylistic turn of phrase which we owe to our “tradition.” The uneven and combined character of the process of world revolution is reflected in the combination of national revolutionary organizations and an International which must be a genuine world party and not a simple addition of sections, a simple body of “collaboration” and mutual consultation among national parties.

That is why on all programmatic and international questions the votes of the Congresses are binding on the national sections. Otherwise, the precise article of the statutes that asserts that those decisions which the congress can make must be carried out by all sections no longer has any meaning. It would have to be modified along these lines: “The decisions of the World Congress must be applied only by those sections that agree with them.” We await with interest to see whether either of the existing minorities will propose such a modification of the statutes. As for us, we stick to the present text, and we will wage a vigorous campaign to see that it is actually applied. Indispensable discipline in action obviously does not mean that discussion organized by the leadership bodies (public or otherwise) of positions that have been adopted is suppressed.

Equally unprincipled is the notion of the minorities that discipline is necessarily relaxed and factions become public in practice when serious political differences exist. This is the argument Stalinists, Maoists, centrists, and indeed all opponents of Bolshevism use in order to claim that the right of tendencies and toleration of factions inevitably lead to splits. We reject this argument as contrary to positive experiences, such as that of the Bolsheviks during Lenin’s time, the Communist International between 1919 and 1923, and the Fourth International during the past ten years. Our ability to combine a very hard tendency struggle with the maintenance of the unity of the movement as a world organization indicates that democratic centralism can be effective and productive.

Nevertheless, two series of experiences on this matter must be seriously criticized and rejected as contrary to Leninist principles. On the one hand, the transformation of minority factions into de facto public factions in practice publishing their own international faction organs and creating their own international faction apparatus functioning outside the normal leadership bodies of the International.

On the other hand, the expulsion of minority tendencies through bureaucratic methods, such as the expulsion of the IT by the SWP, the expulsion of first the BT and then the Workers Tendency by the Spanish LC, or threats of purge of the Mexican LS at the last congress before this organization split, threats inspired by the leaders of the present BT.

In contrast to these repeated violations of democratic centralism by the minorities, the balance sheet of the IMT is much more positive. Neither in the International nor in any section led by IMT members has there been any expulsion of any minority. We do not deny that errors in the application of democratic centralism have also been committed by the IMT, in cases such as the splits in Australia and Canada for example, or that these errors have not always been swiftly enough corrected by a collective effort of the tendency. We simply want to stress that the major reason for the errors in the realm of organizational principles lies in the atmosphere of defiance of international democratic centralism created by the behavior of the minorities. We recognize, however, that it is the responsibility of the leadership as a whole to ensure that the internal life of the organization is in conformity with the Leninist organizational principles that it is duty bound to defend and implement.

The IMT makes the struggle for an International based on democratic centralism, on a single organization in each country, on the normal execution of their statutory duties by all sections, on the normal functioning of the leadership bodies, and on the radical and definitive halt to the practices of public factions an essential point in its fight before and during the Eleventh World Congress. The Tenth World Congress made the mistake of not recognizing the strongest organization adhering to the Fl in each country as the official section (such as the PST in Argentina, and the LCR in Spain, etc.). We will fight at the Eleventh World Congress for the implementation of universal criteria, as outlined in this paragraph, for the recognition of a single section in each country. The struggle against any attempt to transform the Fourth International into a federation of factions and/or national organizations is a struggle to safeguard the programmatic integrity of the Fourth International. It is a struggle for its survival. History has been implacable against all attempts to create national “Trotskyist” sects. They are condemned to degenerate, organizationally as well as politically. Moreover, any unprincipled practice in the sphere of international organization sooner or later has repercussions in the sphere of national organizations as well. The fight to defend the Fourth International as a democratic centralist organization is an integral part of the struggle for the transitional program and for the victory of the international socialist revolution.

7. Tendencies and a faction, with permanent contours, have existed in the International for eight years now. This is an abnormal situation in a democratic organization like ours. It is time to return to a mode of functioning more in conformity with the traditions of Bolshevism.

The IMT will henceforth act as an ideological tendency based on the four following points:

a) the political line of the present declaration,

b) the general line of the European document presented to the Eleventh World Congress, to which the IMT is preparing a series of amendments;

c) the general line of the document of self criticism on Latin America;

d) the defense of the conception of international democratic centralism such as it is developed in the entirety of the statutes of the International and put forward in the first seven paragraphs and the last paragraph of point 6 of the present statement. We propose that a document on this question be discussed and voted on at the Eleventh World Congress.

Other documents may possibly be added to this platform (for instance, the Indochina resolution) if there is no agreement in the leadership bodies after political discussion.

The fact that the IMT will act only as an ideological tendency implies that it will not prejudge the positions taken by the entire International on questions other than those contained in its platform by raising them first within the tendency. The discussion within the tendency will thus be limited to the questions on which the disagreements within the Fourth International have already been clearly revealed. At the present stage, the IMT defines these questions as those contained in its platform. At the present stage, discussion within the tendency will hence be limited to these questions, as well as problems directly linked to the struggle to have them adopted in the sections and at the World Congress. The discussion will be extended to other questions only if proposals are made to possibly include them in the tendency platform.

It follows that the only condition for adherence to the IMT is agreement with the documents of its platform. On other questions the members of the tendency are free to adopt the positions of their choice, to write documents on these questions if they consider it necessary, within the statutory framework that regulates the discussion organized in their section and in the International. These documents will not be discussed in the tendency unless they are submitted for inclusion in the tendency platform.

Thus, the members of the IMT are not bound by any discipline in the pre World Congress discussion, apart from the duty to fight for adoption of the line of the documents selected as the tendency platform. As for the questions related to the struggle for this line, including those of tactical votes, discussions in this regard will take place within the tendency. But since these questions involve elements of judgment other than the political positions of the tendency, the results of these discussions will have only moral weight on the members of the tendency.

The IMT as it has already committed itself on several occasions in the past—has brought all its weight to bear for representatives of the two minorities to command full and complete representation in the leadership bodies of the International, representation that even exceeds their proportional numerical weight in the ranks of the International. They must be still more associated with all the political and organizational decisions, both at the stage of their initial elaboration and at the stage of their execution, not in parallel ad hoc consultations, but within the regularly constituted and elected leadership bodies. All the responsibilities that devolve on them, both in the political and practical contribution they can make to the building of the International as a function of their capacities and of the weight of the real sector of the movement which they represent, must be attributed to them. The political and principled basis of this orientation lies in a correct application of democratic centralism, as well as in the conviction that the dynamic of the political differences is not on the rise, that the minorities are capable of correcting some of the serious errors they have committed, and that any obstinacy on their part in maintaining a factional attitude would be an unprincipled policy for which they would pay that much more dearly since the majority of the International shall have applied a correct policy toward them.

The IMT stands for dissolution of all tendencies at the earliest possible moment, even before the Eleventh World Congress, if it appears clearly that agreement exists on the general political line of the main documents for this Congress. It will in any case urge all tendencies and factions to dissolve at the Eleventh World Congress and allow the leadership democratically elected by the Congress to test the application of the line adopted by the Congress. Ideological tendencies may be reconstituted, if it is politically justified, during the period preparatory to the Twelfth World Congress (or when events whose objective importance for the fate of the revolution and the International is undeniable provoke serious differences within the movement, and in accordance with the discussion organized in the International by its leadership bodies).


1. The IMT is opposed to tendencies or factions giving themselves names which tend to imply that other tendencies in the movement are revisionist. If a faction is “Leninist Trotskyist” or “Bolshevik,” does this mean that the other tendencies are neither Trotskyist nor Leninist nor Bolshevik? It would have been easy for the majority to retaliate by calling itself “Bolshevik Leninist” or “Bolshevik Trotskyist” or “Revolutionary Marxist” or “Marxist Leninist Trotskyist.” But we have deliberately refrained from participating in such childish games, which can only confuse the membership. That is why an agreement was reached at the 10th World Congress to designate the tendencies as “International Majority Tendency” and “International Minority Faction.” We regret that this decision has not been implemented, and we use the terms LTF and BT in order not to confuse the membership further as to whom we mean by “minorities.”


Last updated on 11.19.2005