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Fourth International, July-August 1947


H. Vallin

The Conference of Bankrupts


From Fourth International, July-August 1947, Vol.8 No.7, p.222.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


Two international conferences recently took place at London; one of the Liberal parties and another convoked by the Independent Labor Party of Great Britain. An international conference of Social Democratic organizations is scheduled to take place shortly at Zurich. The most striking fact to be noted is that of these three conferences, only the Liberal conclave had on its agenda the creation of an international organization. The two other organizations have postponed this question to a later conference. Nothing indicates more graphically the degree of degeneration of the traditional workers organizations than this fact that bourgeois organizations are more cognizant than they are of the necessity for international unification at a moment when the world bourgeoisie is profoundly convinced that we live in “one world.”

The conference convoked by the ILP was a striking demonstration of the decrepitude and disintegration of the “old” centrist movements. The ILP was the lone organization present, the others were there purely in an individual capacity, for example, Marceau Pivert, and the leader of the Socialist Youth of Hamburg.

The “work” of the conference consisted of oratorical fireworks by various “leaders” on the subject of the United Socialist States of Europe; each orator presenting his special attitude on how to lead the struggle for this slogan. The precise steps and attitudes to be taken are usually left to “secretariats,” in this case represented by two delegates of the Revolutionary Communist Party, British Section of the Fourth International. During the final public session the delegates of the RCP proposed an amendment to the resolution adopted by the conference, demanding that the fight for the United Socialist States of Europe be organized on the basis of a revolutionary Marxist program within the framework of the struggle for the proletarian revolution. As was to be expected, this amendment was rejected.

Another characteristic of this conference was the manifestation of confirmed libertarian tendencies. To the extent that the Centrist organizations succumb, the weight of the pacifist, anarchist, and libertarian elements becomes correspondingly heavier and serves to further reduce the character of the centrist organization to that of a propaganda sect. This evolution has already taken place within the ILP. The POUM delegate to the conference, Gironella, insisted on the necessity of finding common grounds for agreement with the libertarians and accordingly proposed replacing the slogan of “United Socialist States of Europe” by that of the “Federation of Socialist Peoples of Europe.” In addition, the German delegate made a speech which was markedly libertarian.

The trend of “old centrist” tendencies toward anarchism leaves place for the development of new centrist tendencies emanating from the Social Democracy. Outside of the Socialist Youth, the Socialist Left has not known a serious and coherent development in any country. The Socialist Left of the SFIO after a series of lamentable capitulations, notably on the question of Indo-China finds itself on the eve of its complete rout, at the national convention of the party in August. The left wing of the Labor Party because of its heterogeneous character, has not attempted to arrive at an organized form. In Italy and Poland where tendencies have recently made their appearance within the Social-Democratic organizations, the character of these tendencies is not marked by programmatic differences but solely by differences over the question of unity of action with the Stalinists. The same holds true for the splits which recently occurred in the Socialist parties of Rumania and Bulgaria.

Most of these problems will, without doubt, neither be discussed nor resolved at the coming Socialist conference at Zurich, which will, above all, seek to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all the participants. The predominant influence which the British Labor Party exercises within the Social Democratic International, since the end of the war, will force a more right-wing character to the “unanimous” resolutions, than was the case in pre-war days. The Belgian delegation will propose the formal reconstitution of the International to this conference; it will, undoubtedly be supported by the Austrian delegation and the majority of the German delegation. But as long as the British Laborites are not in agreement, nothing concrete will be undertaken.

The only “real” problem which will face the conference is the admission of the German Social Democracy headed by Schumacher. It is probable that within the framework of the German policy of the English bourgeoisie and its Laborite Government, the British delegation will allow this gesture, which lacks any concrete meaning, and the French, Polish, English “Socialist” etc., will continue to defend their own bourgeoisie with regard to the German question. Only the reformist parties of Eastern Europe, particularly those of Poland which are strongly “Stalinized,” will be opposed to the admission.

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Last updated on 16.2.2009