From Fourth International, July-August 1947, Vol.8 No.7, pp.219-221.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
Zurich – The conference of 19 European “socialist” parties which met here in June took up:
- consideration of the splits in various parties (Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, etc.);
- conflicts reflecting the division of Europe into Western and Eastern blocs;
- The failure of the reconstituted German Social Democratic party to be admitted as a full participant, which resulted mainly from the opposition of the parties in the Eastern bloc (Poland, Hungary, etc.) who are under Soviet occupation;
- Failure to agree on any form of reconstituting the Second International, due mainly to the opposition of the British Labor Party, which merely wants to utilize the other “socialist” parties for its foreign policy in the London government, but doesn’t wish to be “compromised” before its own capitalists by too much “internationalism.”
In a speech pleading for admission, the German leader Schumacher declared that, while he can conceive of Europe being in the Soviet orbit and cannot see a “socialist” Europe without Russian participation, his party can never cooperate with the German “communists.” This gesture to the Eastern bloc proved of no avail. A motion by the French and Belgian parties to reconstitute the Second International was referred to a commission for “examination.” On a motion from the British Labor Party, a commission was set up to maintain relations with the German party, after the latter had failed to obtain admission by one vote. The Italian party of Nenni was recognized, while that of Sarragat was excluded from the conference. All other splits were referred to commissions for study.
The Second International is one political ghost that is not due to be resurrected.
As a result of the present government crisis in Italy we will probably have a new party in the cabinet; the PSLI (the Socialist Party of Italian workers), which was born out of the recent split in the old Socialist Party (PSIUP). What is this party, how and by what forces was it formed and what role can it play on the Italian political scene?
At last year’s convention’ of the PSIUP, in Florence, it was already clear that the corridor compromise between the different tendencies to “save the unity of the party” could not last very long. Five months ago, at the eve of the Rome convention. there were three solidly organized factions, each with its own newspaper or magazine, and each determined to fight. The “fusionists,” led by Nenni and Basso, were partisans of close collaboration with the Stalinists. The “Critica Sociale” faction, led by Sarragat and Simonini, and supported by the entire old reformist crowd, Modigliani, Balabanov and D’Aragona, represents in Italy the ultra-reformist tendency similar to that of the British Laborite leaders and the French Blums. Finally, the “Inizeativa Socialist” faction led by young Matteoti and Zagari, and including practically the entire Socialist Youth, represents an extremely confused and ineffective “left wing.” Even before the opening of that Convention, it was clear that there was no possibility of the three factions continuing to live in one party. However, the split did not take place on the basis of clear political positions but rather on organizational questions, and on the question of a united action pact and fusion with the Stalinist Party.
The fact that the split did not have a more precise political character partially explains why we find the “right” and “left” wings of the old party gathered in the new PSLI. On the other hand the absence of a leadership with clear and precise political aims – particularly concerning the problems of the construction of a revolutionary party – has led to the formation of a hybrid party, where the actual political leadership has from the beginning, and to an ever increasing extent, been in the hands of the reformist tendency which is richer in cadres, experience and financial means.
Born under these conditions, the primary activity of the PSLI has been the struggle against “communism.” This struggle has been a confused one due to the fact that the rightists carry it out in a fundamentally anti-communist fashion, while the Youth use an anti-Stalinist line. The PSLI, being outside the Gasperi government, as it was reorganized after the old SP split, and after the voyage to the US of the Democratic-Christian leaders, was able to increase its influence thanks to its violent opposition to the incapacity of the tri-partite government. It is evident, however, that the reason for existence of the PSLI lies in its struggle against Communism in general This is true despite the presence in its ranks of the leftist youth – a presence which is becoming ever less capable of hiding the reformist character of Sarragat’s party.
The PSLI has not yet held a Convention and therefore has no clearly defined program. The highly important differences within its ranks have been cleverly camouflaged and also submerged by the common struggle against the government policies arid the Stalinists. But it is not at all impossible that the present government crisis will clarify the political situation both within the PSLI and in the country as a whole. In the PSLI paper L’Umanita, Giuliano Varsalli writes on May 18 that the party secretariat receives “resolutions very frequently from its sections in all parts of Italy urging it not to participate in the government about to be formed as a result of this crisis” – but he concludes from this that such participation is possible.
Actually what successes the PSLI was able to obtain in the recent election of delegations to the National Convention of the CGIL (Italian General Federation of Labor) were due mostly to the party’s critical attitude towards and non-participation in, the De Gasperi governments. Its going into a coalition Government will reveal it in its true light as a “legal” party participating on the Italian political scene in the manner of traditional reformist Socialists. It could not be otherwise; that is the logical conclusion of the evolution of the PSLI since the split. The Young Socialists, who left the old PSIUP in the serious belief that they would build a revolutionary party, accepted the “collaboration” of Sarragat, considering it an inevitable, temporary “lesser evil.” Now they again find themselves before the dilemma of submitting to a clearly reformist and anti-working class policy, or of again getting out of the party to help build up a real revolutionary leadership for the Italian working class.
The executive committee of the POUM has just published a long manifesto in which it attempts to outline “in all clarity and without equivocation” its position on the political problems of Spain. This manifesto is intended as the official and authentic expression of the party “which has not emigrated” and of the Spanish people who have not emigrated either.
“Socialists” we read, “we have fixed as our ardently desired goal: Socialism. Democrats, we propose to restore Democracy in our country, or rather to install it. Because it is the form of government from which all powers, without exception, stem from the will of the people, we prefer a Republic. As Spaniards, we will grant no respite until we see the chains break asunder of the bloody tyranny which oppresses Spain. This is our desire.”
The manifesto goes on to ask “what can we do?” It is not permissible to hope that liberation will come by a miracle. No totalitarian regime has disappeared by the action of the oppressed people alone. Italian Fascism and German Nazism were not overthrown by the peoples’ rebellion but by the military action of the Allied armies. Thus, the only solution for overthrowing the Franco regime is to engage in a coordinated action between the Spanish people and the democratic governments and peoples outside of Spain.
However, the Movement must give these governments, whose support is indispensable, the certain guarantee that the fall of Franco will not mean a descent into chaos for Spain. Enough of civil war, enough of suffering, mourning and tears. The Executive Committee of the POUM “rejects with horror” the perspective of a new civil war even if the restoration of Republican legality depended on it.
The manifesto aligns Spain as a “Western country” in the western block of Europe along with the United States in order to prevent Spain from becoming a Soviet bridgehead in the Mediterranean where it would be easy to cut the lifeline of the British Empire. Spain has “no interest in cutting this lifeline.”
The Executive Committee calls for the constitution of a provisional government and a plebiscite. In this government, all tendencies opposed to the present regime as well as the trade unions should be represented. Such a government must restore liberty and grant the Spanish people the right to decide its own destiny. It must give up Franco criminals to the judgment of tribunals independent of the political parties, and the government. It must regard civil rights and liberties, while maintaining public order and security. And last, it must establish a plebiscite in which the people may decide upon the form of government it desires always respecting democratic forms whatever the form of government decided upon. The people must be permitted to express its desires without any sort of restraint along the terms of the motion approved by the Assembly of the United Nations. At the time of such a plebiscite, the POUM will call for a Republic.
In any case, the regime that is to succeed the Franco tyranny, should not have a vengeful spirit nor attempt to exclude from the Spanish community “those who during the struggle were not on our side.” It is necessary to reestablish peaceful relations among Spaniards. Political struggles should be transferred to a climate of liberty and respect for the rights of opponents. Therefore, these struggles must be removed from the terrain of armed struggle and violent imposition into a framework of polemic and confrontation of programs and activities. It is thus through the free play of democratic institutions that a majority and power will be conquered.
“A firm decision to struggle against the Franco tyranny, consistent loyalty to agreed compromises; a respectful and cordial attitude towards other allied forces, with a goal of total subordination of personal interest to the supreme interest of democracy and the Spanish people – this is the line to follow today. Tomorrow, when Spain has come out of this long and atrocious night of bad dreams, then, we will carry new tasks towards the new day.”
The Manifesto ends with the following paragraph:
“Let us raise the red flag which symbolizes the ideal for which so many of our brothers have fallen on the battlefield or before the firing squad, we shall continue the struggle for liberty and socialism on any grounds the enemy chooses.”
This Manifesto has been a great disappointment in the ranks of emigre Poumists in France. Many responsible elements are not hesitating to characterise this document as “capitulationist.”
The Revolutionary Communist Group of Egypt (Fourth International) has just published, under the signature of Comrades Anwar Kamel and Loutfallah Soliman, its first Manifesto since the reorganization of the group.
Noting the long drawn out Anglo-Egyptian negotiations and the government’s decision to submit the whole problem of British troops to the UN (with the support of all the Egyptian bourgeois parties and the Stalinists), the Manifesto denounces the government for its long game with the British. The government wants to get the British out of Egypt and out of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan as well, but at, the same time is afraid of the new force on the scene: The Egyptian proletariat.
Most of Egyptian industry is very artificial. It can be maintained only by increasing the purchasing power of the masses at the expense of the capitalist and feudal lord – or else by finding some closed foreign market for their goods. The end of the war-time inflated demand for Egyptian goods – with Allied soldiers as customers and lack of competition – turned Egyptian capitalist eyes towards the Sudanese market. Increasing the purchase power of the masses, carrying out the bourgeois democratic revolution which would enlarge its internal possibilities – these are tasks from which the Egyptian bourgeois turn away with fear; both menace a strengthening of their enemy, the proletarian grown from 412,008 in 1937 to 1,500,880 in 1946. They prefer by far to try their luck at an imperialist exploitation of the Sudan, linking it in to their fiscal and customs system.
All the religious, linguistic and racial arguments about the Sudan are thus pure bluff to bolster an economic and political penetration. The Egyptian Trotskyists, while denouncing British imperialist occupation also denounce the Egyptian bourgeoisie’s attempt to do the same to the Sudan. They demand: Immediate and unconditional evacuation of British troops from Egypt and the Sudan, and the right of the Sudanese people to political and social self-determination.
The R.C.G. Manifesto ends with these words:
“We must struggle against British imperialism. We must struggle against budding Egyptian imperialism. We must struggle against imperialism wherever we find it. That is why we call for active solidarity with all the peoples who are fighting for their liberty.”
The first full Delegates’ Convention of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, held and concluded in Bombay last month, signalized the determination of the party to intervene directly in Indian politics during the fateful period ahead. The period of the infancy of the party ended with the holding of this Convention, where the mapping out of political and organizational perspectives, and the democratic decisions on all controversial issues, equipped the party for its main job today – to become the mass party of the Indian working class.
The foundations of the BLPI were laid in 1942, during the darkest days of the war, and precisely at the time when the Stalinists’ role in India was becoming thoroughly exposed by their opposition to the national struggle. The new party threw itself at once and wholeheartedly into the August struggle seeking to strengthen its ranks in the storm and stress of the upsurge. Its organization was repeatedly battered by police repression; its leaders rotted in jails; Himalayan obstacles stood in the way of the progress of the tiny party. Nevertheless, it proved viable, and grew despite every setback. Its program boldly posed the fundamental needs of India, the overthrow of British Imperialism and the carrying through of a thoroughgoing agrarian revolution. It showed that only a revolutionary worker-peasant alliance, independent of and in opposition to the native capitalists, could fulfil this program. Hence arose the need to build a revolutionary working class party in India free from all bourgeois (Congress) influence, and free also from the infection of that stinking corpse, the Comintern.
Five years of patient unspectacular work have already yielded their fruit. The fact that the Convention was attended by delegates from Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Cawnpore, Madura and Ceylon, where substantial units of the party exist, was itself evidence of this. All these units are no longer isolated propaganda circles. They have gone through their baptism of fire in police repression, and have engaged in mass action, notably in Madras, in Madura in Ceylon and to a lesser extent in Calcutta and Bombay as well. The open emergence of the party with the temporary relaxation of repression after the war made this convention doubly necessary, and gave it a special significance.
The main political decisions of the convention centered around the much vaunted transfer of “power” that is scheduled to take place in 1948. The Political Resolution adopted by the Convention contains the following main features. It states:
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Last updated on 16.2.2009