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Politics of the International Working Class

(November 1946)

From New International, Vol. XII No. 9, November 1946, pp. 284–285.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

South Africa

Joining together with other sections of the Fourth International, the Trotskyist organization of South Africa has gone on record favoring unification of the American movement. We quote in full a resolution recently adopted by these comrades and forwarded to us.

We regret that the Workers International League of South Africa has not yet achieved a full and rounded understanding of the 1939–40 fight in the Socialist Workers Party which led to the split and formation of the Workers Party. Points one to four in their resolution indicate that they still adhere to the version of the Cannon majority which Trotsky unfortunately shared. The facts are not wholly accurate and the interpretation is most unsound.

However, this difference over an interpretation of the past is of secondary importance to the key question of unity today. It is because of this that we find the position of our South African comrades so welcome. Unlike the unprincipled position of the Cannon faction of the SWP. the South Africans do not make agreement on the causes of the 1940 split a precondition to unity today.

Their resolution follows:

Although the Workers International League is not yet officially a section of the Fourth International, we are however vitally interested in the discussions now proceeding in the Socialist Workers Party on unification with the Workers Party and after examination of all available documents and material, the Executive Committee has taken the following stand:

1. That the Socialist Workers Party minority in 1940 was completely unjustified in splitting from the SWP and its action dealt a. cruel blow to the Fourth International in a time of world crisis. In the principal ideological dispute of the Russian question we agree with Comrade Trotsky’s characterization of Soviet Russia as a degenerated workers state, yet worthy of unconditional defense against imperialist aggression. We reject the WP theory of the Russian state as being one of bureaucratic collectivism.

2. Although pointing out the petty-bourgeois nature of the opposition in 1940 Trotsky sought to maintain the unity of the SWP and affirmed that the ideas of the minority were compatible with remaining inside the Fourth International.

3. Six years after the split the minority organized in the WP has expressed its dew sire to reunite with the SWP and to take its place in the ranks of the only world party of socialist revolution the Fourth International. During these six years of its independent existence, the WP has maintained a Leninist attitude to its own ruling class-calling for the continuation of the class struggle against American capitalism and its reactionary war. Burnham, the chief representative of the petty-bourgeois tendency, left the WP and other petty-bourgeois tendency, left the WP and other bourgeois members rubbed off their petty-bourgeois dusting by coming into close contact with the working class in the factories and army. This can give new impetus to the fusion of the two organizations and aid the building up of the mass Bolshevik revolutionary party for America.

4. The chief obstacle towards unity was the refusal of the WP membership to subordinate themselves to the majority decision inside the SWP and to abide by the principles of democratic centralism. The move towards unity indicates a change of attitude and readiness to accept the principle of democratic centralism and to work as disciplined members in the carrying out of the program and the policies of the SWP.

5. The unity of the two organizations is a progressive step in the development of the Fourth International in America, a pooling of revolutionary resources which we fully support. It would also influence the International towards cohesion and give new strength to the struggling Trotskyist groups elsewhere and serve to discourage splits and fruitless division in the other Trotskyist groups.

6. We firmly believe that the ideas of the WP are compatible with membership in one organization with the SWP. The SWP has grown significantly during the war years and has brought the ideas of Trotskyism to increasing sections of the workers. Unity with the WP would remove a rival organization and clear up the confusion that the present co-existence of two Trotskyist parties with similar programs must necessarily have created in the minds of the advanced workers of America.

7. In order to facilitate the fusion of the two parties we support the holding of joint membership meetings, the issuing of joint bulletins and the engaging in common action in trade unions. elections, etc., so that a firm and lasting unity can be achieved.

8. We strongly urge the SWP majority to bring about unity with the WP and in this way prevent any further split in the Trotskyist ranks. We also urge its minority not to split but to continue to work for the consolidation of all the revolutionary forces in America.

March 13, 1946



A note published in the August 1946 New International regarding the position of the Ceylon section of the Fourth International on the problem of China’s role in the Second World War requires correction and amplification. It was not only the Ceylon section that adopted the same position as that held by the Workers Party in America – namely, the impermissibility of supporting China’s war within the general confines of the world imperialist struggle. The Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, to which the Ceylon section is federated as its Ceylon unit, adopted the resolution, along the political lines presented by Comrade Max Shachtman in The New International Supplement, June 1942.

Contact with the Indian section of the Fourth International, and its unit in Ceylon, has now been re-established. We shall devote the major part of our December issue to the problems of India today, including the Hindu-Moslem question, the Pakistan slogan and a theoretical document explaining the approach of the Ceylon unit to the problem of the national revolution in their country.

The Indian party now publishes a legal paper, Spark, as well as a theoretical magazine of high quality, The Permanent Revolution. The Ceylon unit issues four publications, a fortnightly newspaper in English titled Fight, and newspapers in Singhalese, Tamil and another language of Ceylon and South India. All these publications have legal status and a correspondingly wide circulation. The Ceylon unit is a legally functioning organization, while the Indian section – suppressed during the war – is slowly achieving legal status in the nation.

Both organizations participate actively in the class struggles of their respective countries. We hope to publish details on their work. A split of serious proportions has taken place, immediately after the end of the war, within the ranks of the former Lanka Sama Samaj Party of Ceylon, resulting in the formation of the above-mentioned Ceylon unit of the Fourth International, with a partly new and partly old leadership. The causes and nature of the split are not yet too clear. The former Lanka Sama Samaj Party (still functioning in Ceylon, under the same name) undoubtedly is the stronger and more popular of the two organizations, retaining its mass popularity among the workers and peasants of the island. Its exact political stand on the split is not known to us as yet. It must, however, be noted that the Lanka Sama Samaj, although claiming to be a Trotskyist and Fourth Internationalist party, has gone far along the road leading to capitulation to Stalinism. It has hailed, in its press, the demagogic activities of Russia and the Stalinist movement in behalf of the colonies and has accepted the fatal illusion that Stalinism is swinging toward a “revolutionary stand.” We quote from an issue of their paper (Samasamajist, July 24, 1946) to illustrate the extent of this trend:

“The struggle between the forces of democracy and semi-feudal reaction in Persia is sweeping the entire country.... Britain is on the side of reaction and conservatism, whilst the Soviet Union is encouraging the democratic and working-class forces to organize themselves to overthrow feudal reaction and end British imperialist domination of the land of Iran ... a phase of the development of democratic and working class forces which are struggling to liberate themselves.”

In general, the Lanka Sama Samaj Party leadership is permeated with the fiction that Russia is working in behalf of the colonial movements for national liberation.



From September 7 to September 12, the PCI (Workers’ Communist Party) of France, French section of the Fourth International, held a special convention for discussion of basic political questions. On the agenda were questions of the present situation in France, including the issue of “yes” or “no” voting in the past referendum on the defeated French constitution, as well as the question of support to the slogan of a “Socialist-Communist-CGT” government. The question of the Russian state and a revolutionary attitude toward Stalinism likewise occupied the representatives of this major Fourth Internationalist section in Europe. In our next issue we hope to present in detail the results of the convention, as well as extracts from the various resolutions presented. Several different tendencies, including one standing close to the political line of the Workers Party, were represented at the convention. The RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) of England likewise held a convention, the details of which we hope to report also.


Stalinism at Work

We give two examples of Stalinism at work.

  1. It has been revealed in the Indian nationalist and Trotskyist press, by a former leading member of the Indian Communist Party, that the leader of that organization – a cynical scoundrel by the name of P.C. Joshi – acted directly as a police agent and police spy for the British government during the war. Joshi kept a special file, giving details on nationalists and radicals, for the benefit of the British CID (the FBI of India). The British made ample use of it for their arrests.
  2. Action, a French Stalinist literary and political publication, has posed the question, in serious vein, whether Kafka’s works should be burned because of their “social pessimism.” The violent attack upon the famous expressionist author, Franz Kafka, leaves little doubt as to the answer of these neo-totalitarian book-burners to their own question. We hope to report in more detail on this event, and its repercussions among French writers and intellectuals. An anti-Stalinist tendency is growing rapidly among French writers and supporters of the “existentialiste” school, so important during the movement of the French Resistance.

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