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Terence Phelan

Chilean Trotskyists Unite

Strengthened Proletarian Party Maps Program of Action

(June 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 26, 28 June 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Santiago-de-Chile, June 17 (by mail) – While Roosevelt, under the mask of “continental solidarity”, prepares to drag the semi-colonial nations of South America behind the war-chariot of Yankee imperialism, there was triumphantly forged here this week an important link in the real chain of continental solidarity – the solidarity of the exploited working masses of the U.S.A. with the super-exploited colonial masses of Latin America.

In a Fusion Congress remarkable for the extremely high level both of political discussion and mass enthusiasm, the two Chilean groups of the Fourth International, the Partido Obrero Revolucionario and the Partido Obrero Internacionalista, united under the name of the former. The outstanding significance of the fusion lies in its having converted the two agitation-propaganda groups into a genuine Bolshevik party, already well-rooted among the Chilean workers, with excellent perspectives of soon becoming a mass party. The fusion, fruit of a thorough, democratic, principled discussion in both former organizations, was made on no mere bloc basis; but included an exhaustive criticism and examination of past policy, culminating in a principled denunciation of certain past centrist errors committed by the P.O.I., passed almost unanimously by the delegates.

Party of Workers

The new united party has forces which, in a country of Chile’s population, are already considerable. Seventy-five percent of them are workers, each a fighting trade-unionist. The growth of the party in the immediate future is soundly expected to be very rapid, the previous division having artificially retarded the development of the Chilean movement because of the uncertainty of worker-sympathizers as to which group to join.

Both symptomatic and encouraging was the last-minute arrival at the Congress of a delegate from three large mining-district branches of the Partido Socialistade Trabajadores, which had been stimulated by the news of fusion into breaking with their misleaders and applying for membership in the new united organization.

The Partido Socialista de Trabajadores is a left-reformist workers’ party which split off from the official Socialist Party because of its reformism and its capitulation to Yankee imperialism. It has 4,000 members, and polled 11,000 votes in the March elections. At present it is in full crisis, a left wing tending sharply to the left and Trotskyism; a right wing preparing to collapse back into the Socialist Party. It is certain that, with the new gravitational pull of the united P.O.R., this influx of workers to the new party is only the first of many.

SWP Delegate Present

Friday night, in a semi-public inaugural session attended by the 34 official delegates and some 60 guests from other working-class organizations, members, and sympathizers, the leaders of the P.O.R. and P.O.I, related the historic struggle of Trotskyism in Chile and reported on the negotiations which had led to unity.

Scores of cables, telegrams, letters, and phonograph recordings of greetings from other sections of the International and from sympathizing organizations were read and played; followed by speeches of solidarity and congratulations by the fraternal delegates of the Liga Obrero Revolucionario of Argentina and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.A.).

For Defense of USSR

Saturday morning, the Congress settled down to three packed days of strict business. Its international resolution, reaffirming the correctness and event-proved timeliness of the basic documents of the Fourth International, recorded itself unanimously and enthusiastically in favor of unconditional defense of the Soviet Union, defining it as a degenerated workers’ state, and calling simultaneously for the defense of the conquests of October against the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The national political thesis was the center of Congress interest, and gave rise to a discussion whose amplitude (one-and-one-half days), and high political level exemplified the recognition by the delegates of the crucial importance of correct evaluations and a correct policy in semi-colonial Latin-America.

Particular attention was given to the problem of “national liberation,” of the combined development and interrelation between the problems of the democratic and of the socialist revolution in semi-colonial Chile, in accordance with Trotsky’s brilliant theory of permanent revolution.

Trade Union Unity

Scarcely less important was the trade-union resolution which, apart from calling for an ever-increasing penetration of the party in the life of the unions, called for a unification of the badly split Chilean union movement, whose internal differences are being used by the bosses and their lackeys in the labor movement to the grave disadvantage of Chilean workers.

Launch Weekly Paper

The important problem of the press was equally seriously considered. Each group had previously maintained a four-page monthly newspaper. After a responsible evaluation of the party’s financial resources, the Congress voted to issue a weekly, thus permitting the newspaper not only as in the past to treat general problems but, by its frequency of issue, to become a real workers’ paper, treating in up-to-the-minute detail the specific day-by-day problems facing the Chilean workers, and in this way to concretize the principles of the Fourth International in workers’ terms.

Arrangements were also made to prepare, in conjunction with the Argentine and other sections, a monthly theoretical organ in Spanish for the southern portion of the continent whose absence has been much felt heretofore.

A Bolshevik Organization

Theses on organization and finances, exhaustively and democratically discussed, reaffirmed the Bolshevik principle of democratic centralism against any and all petty-bourgeois’ centrist organizational tendencies; and, in detail that again demonstrated the anti-dilettante and healthy proletarian seriousness of the Chilean comrades, laid but the methods of work in the next period, especially concentrated in the work in the trade-unions and in the creation of a United Proletarian Front, in contradistinction to the treacherous Popular Frontism which has in recent years disorientated and betrayed the Chilean workers.

A general Program of Action again discussed with an earnestness and concrete detail which showed how intense was the delegates’ determination to push forward in practical growth and influence, was approved in its basic objectives; and in order that every militant might participate in the forging of the program of the party’s day-by-day tasks, the Congress voted that immediate internal discussion bulletin should concretize the general program even as it is carried out.

By amicable prior agreement, the two groups had settled upon a joint ticket for the new National Executive Committee, the proportions of six former P.O.R. and three former P.O.I. leaders loyally reflecting the numerical relation of forces of the former groups, and utilizing the best leadership calibre from both.

Importance of Fusion

The importance of this Congress transcends the national plane. It was not only a smashing reply to those malicious wiseacres who contend, that Trotskyism is by nature centrifugal and propagates itself only by splits; it was also a splendid challenge and a brilliant precedent to those other Trotskyist groups in Latin-America who, though [in agreement] on the political position of the Fourth International, have not as yet succeeded in surmounting the organizational differences which keep them in separate groups. It is certain that the fine example of the Chilean comrades will accelerate the processes of fusion already visible throughout South America.

But above all the Congress drove home once again the lesson of international solidarity of the working-class in a vivid and unforgettable way. As one by one the frontiers are closed, and the war-bent bourgeoisie hammers with ever-increasing pressure to turn the workers against their brothers in other countries – the Chilean congress, for this observer-delegate, concretized in a simple and moving way the meaning of workers’ internationalism.

A trucker hammering over the road to Akron tonight can have the heart-warming assurance that six thousand miles away to the southeast some unknown comrade on the night-shift of a Chilean Coppermine is – despite Roosevelt’s war, despite closed frontiers and censored communications – thinking the same thoughts, working and planning with the same principled purpose, setting his jaw in the same Bolshevik determination – for the world socialist revolution, for the Soviet United States of the Americas.

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