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The Militant, 11 May 1946

What the 4th International
Accomplished at Conference

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 19, 11 May 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The International Conference of the Fourth International which was held in Belgium early last month was the first international gathering of the Trotskyists since the end of World War II. Convoked under difficult and trying conditions, it was nevertheless a genuinely representative conference, with participation from as many sections as at the Founding Conference in 1938, and speaking for a far greater membership and number of sections.

Among the European delegations present were the French, British, Dutch, Belgian, German, Spanish, Irish and Swiss sections; in addition, there were representatives from the Western Hemisphere and the colonial sections.

The task of organizing the Conference had been entrusted to the European Executive Committee by the International Secretariat. The European Executive Committee fulfilled this responsibility and proposed the following aims for the Conference:

  1. On the political plane, to define a preliminary general political orientation of the International.
  2. On the organizational plane, to elect a new representative leadership of the International which would have the task, among others, of carrying on a discussion in the International on all questions where agreement might prove to be impossible or difficult at the time of the conference and of preparing, when conditions permitted, a World Congress of the International.

To serve as the basis of the discussion at the Conference, the European committee prepared and distributed a political document, The New Imperialist ‘Peace’ and the Building of the Parties of the Fourth International.

Authority Conference

Among the first motions adopted by the Conference was one introduced by the British delegation: “to establish the authority of this Conference and of the executive bodies elected by it.”

With but one vote in opposition, the delegates decided, “having heard the organizational report of the European Secretariat and taken cognizance of the opinion expressed by the members of the existing International Executive Committee, and with a full understanding of the difficulties in the preparation for the Conference ...:

“1. To sit as a world conference of the Fourth International and to take binding decisions on all questions that are on the agenda; and

“2. To dissolve the existing IEC and IS and to elect from this conference a new IEC and IS with full authority to act until the next world congress.”

Organization Report

The organizational report of the European Secretariat was one of the high points of the Conference, just as its activities have been one of the high points of the International’s history during the war. It was an inspiring indication of the will of the revolutionists in Europe-to carry on their work despite the worst conditions of illegality and repression.

It also stressed the need for a centralized leadership composed of the most capable and energetic members at the disposal of the International so that the, leadership could be effective and take advantage of growing opportunities.

In addition to its organizational report, the European Secretariat presented a criticism of its theses of February 1944. After discussion, the Conference adopted the report, with two; votes opposed, and characterized the mistakes in the 1944 theses “as errors in estimating tempo, not as errors in fundamental perspectives.” The new IEC was instructed "to publish as quickly as possible a document expounding completely and clearly the self-criticism of our past policy.”

Political Discussion

The main question on the agenda of the Conference, and the one which naturally received the greatest attention and debate, was the political discussion. Among the important questions on which differences appeared were the Soviet Union and perspective in Europe. A number of amendments were introduced.

Before voting on the text of the main document, the Conference reaffirmed in a resolution introduced by the Belgian delegate:

“1. The fundamentally revolutionary character of our epoch on a world scale and chiefly; in Europe.

“2. The increasingly favorable objective conditions for the building of revolutionary parties of the Fourth International.

“3. The necessity for centering the political work in all the world sections, and especially the European sections, around the Transitional Program.”

This resolution was adopted by a vote of 22 in favor, one opposed, one abstention.

Amended Resolution

The text of the main political report was then adopted, and the IEC was instructed to elaborate it in final form, incorporating all the amendments which were in conformity with its general line. Those amendments not in conformity with this line were to be submitted to the international discussion.

The vote on this motion was 18 in favor, 2 against, 4 abstentions.

The text of the amended resolution will appear in the June issue of the Fourth Interntional.

The IEC was also directed to complete and issue the Manifesto introduced by the ES. This Manifesto is printed in this issue of The Militant.

In addition, the Conference adopted a resolution on the reorganization of the German section and elected a new International Executive Committee.

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