Communist Workers' Group trajectory
The CWG was formed in 1995 after we split from the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) over that tendency refusing to condemn the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1994. We joined the LRCI as the Communist Left in 1992, despite our differences over political economy and the restoration of capitalism, in the belief that the LRCI was moving left in the 1980s. In 1994 we formed a minority faction in the LRCI around the tendency of the leadership to adapt to British social imperialism. We argued that the LRCI had formed a popular front with Yeltsin on the basis that bourgeois democracy was more progressive than the Stalinist bureaucratic regime. This was clearly an adaptation to British social imperialism. This was confirmed with the LRCI backed the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1994. We were bureaucratically expelled from the LRCI in 1995 (labelled a secret Proletarian Faction), and together with the Latin American sections of the LRCI, Workers’ Power Bolivia (POB) and Workers Power Peru (POP), formed the Liaison Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International (LCMRCI or CEMICOR in Spanish).
In the split document of the Proletarian Faction we traced the left centrist move of the LRCI in the late 1980s and its right centrist swing in response to capitalist restoration to the absence of the Fourth International as a revolutionary organisation. The LRCI began as a split from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1975 and its leadership was always centred on London in Workers’ Power (Britain). They never completely broke from its ‘3rd camp’ state capitalist position on the USSR. Bourgeois democracy was always more progressive than the Stalinist regimes, so bourgeois democracy was the route to the defence of workers property. The basic Cliffite position reflected the failure of the Fourth International under Trotsky to survive WW2 as a healthy international party. In the imperialist countries it adapted to imperialism (what we call imperio-centrism) and in the semi-colonial and colonial world it adapted to bourgeois nationalism (national Trotskyism). In the Imperialist countries the Trotskyists adapted to their respective imperialists and, after a brief period of disorientation during which the new workers states and onset of the post-war boom were assimilated, all then settled for Stalinism and democratic imperialism as objectively progressive forces to be tailed by international Trotskyism.
What made this liquidationist counter-revolution permanent after WW 2 was the imperio-centrist subordination of the colonial and semi-colonial sections in any attempt to re-found the collapsed International. Pushed from the left by the imperio-centrist Trotskyist sections, Stalinist and democratic imperialist forces would pressure imperialism to the left without any need for the independent action of semi-colonial Trotskyists. This isolated the Trotskyist sections in the colonial and semi-colonial countries where they oscillated between making popular fronts with the national bourgeoisies with illusions in democratic imperialism, and forming adventurist armed militias in isolation of the working class. When the nationalist militia overthrew Batista in 1959, the refusal of the US to deal with the insurrectionists forced them into the arms of the Soviet Union. This confirmed the liquidationist posture of post-war Trotskyism in tailing democratic imperialism and Stalinism.
The CWG in 1995 concluded that any regroupment of healthy Trotskyist forces to build a new, Fifth International would have to take place initially in the semi-colonies, and in particular since the CEMICOR was based in Latin America, in the fight to overcome and defeat Latin American ‘national Trotskyism’.
Forming the Collective in 2002
Despite its existence as a propaganda fraction internationally that continued to take positions on all the major struggles and signed joint statements with other tendencies, the CEMICOR did not advance the struggle in Peru or Bolivia on the ground. Nevertheless we continued to recognise the potential of Latin American Trotskyism to break from national Trotskyism against the history of betrayals and liquidations by imperio-centrist Trotskyism that go back to WW2 and the role of the SWP (US) in Latin America and the Pabloites in Europe.
Thus we recognised the deficiencies of Morenoism were the product of the liquidation of the 4th International which led to attempts by Moreno to latch onto a number of equally degenerate imperio-centrist currents. Before we formed the Collective, the most recent lash up was the attempt by the imperio-centrist LRCI to fuse with the national Trotskyist PTS (Socialist Workers Party– a 1988 split from the Moreno MAS) following the loss of its Latin American sections, POB and POP who came with the CWG, to form the CEMICOR. CEMICOR's critique of the LRCI’s attempt at fusion with the PTS condemned this as a 'rotten bloc' but also recognised that despite its failure to break completely with Morenoism, the PTS was to the left of the LRCI.
The PTS broke with Moreno in 1988 on the question of the political revolution in Eastern Europe. Yet having rejected the illusion that democratic imperialism would save the workers states from Stalinism (the MAS position when it supported Solidarity in Poland), the PTS retained its illusions in a non-existent political revolution as an objective process. It was over this objectivist conception of the political revolution that the Trotskyist Workers Fraction (FPT) formed in the PTS and got expelled in 1998 to form the LOI-CI (Workers International League, Fourth International). The PTS like the LRCI responded to the historic defeat of restoration in East Europe and the USSR by blaming the workers – the so-called ‘crisis of subjectivity’ (for the LRCI the ‘reformist resetting) – while the FPT argued that a political revolution began but was defeated by the Stalinists in the absence of a revolutionary Fourth International. The FPT/LOI-CI blamed the ‘Menshevik centrists’ for betraying the political revolution and this ultimately led towards a re-assessment of the Fourth as ‘reformist’ for the whole post-war period. While the PTS retreated into tactical alliances with other splinters of Morenoism and a common Menshevik program, the LOI-CI took on itself the defence of Bolshevism – revolutionary Trotskyism and the Transitional Program. (Editorial, The Events of 1989. Rudolf Klement, 2000)
Thus the LOI-CI took another step toward a complete break with Morenoism as a form of national Trotskyism. At this time the CWG was unaware of the LOI-CI’s existence. We corresponded with and signed common declarations with several Argentinean and Brazilian groups while in CEMICOR, (notably the POR, the CIOS in Argentina, and the LBI and Trotskyist Fraction in Brazil up to 1999). This activity was largely literary since neither POB nor POP were active by this time. Lucha Marxista was never a member of CEMICOR nor participated in the discussions with these other groups. By 2000 CEMICOR had ceased to function even as a website. The first time that the LOI-CI came to our attention was when we helped form Salta Solidarity a Yahoo Group in 2001 with VB who was at that time a member of LOI-CI. We then entered into correspondence with it and subsequently with the Group Bolshevik (GB) and Lucha Marxista (LM).
The Collective was formed in December 2002 largely due to the efforts of the CWG to bring the LM and the GB together with the LOI-CI. In the heat of the 2001 uprising in Argentina, the LOI-CI was leading the fight for national congresses of employed and unemployed to expose the role of the fake Trotskyists in containing the mass mobilisations of the piqueteros. The members of the Collective had sufficient confidence in the LOI-CI’s determination to break completely from Morenoist zigzags between opportunism and ultra-leftism that they signed a document of 21 points. This confidence was justified as the interventions of the LOI-CI led to frequent threats of violence including firearms by the fake Trotskyist thugs. When a CWG comrade first visited Buenos Aires in December 2002, he was taken directly to the factory occupation at Brukman which was surrounded by the militant vanguard and all the Argentinean left. The LOI-CI fought to win a fraction in that factory in order to challenge the fake Trotskyist attempts to isolate and limit these struggles to legal cooperatives. To this day, the LOI-CI has a fraction in that and in many more ‘recovered’ and militant workplaces, including Zanon the poster child of the fake Trotskyists. Its main demand today remains that of a national congress of all the workers in struggle to unite and coordinate the militant vanguard of employed and unemployed. This program neither ignores the unions nor fetishizes them. It treats the unions as united fronts in which the revolutionary party has to build its cells on the basis of its program.
The main task of the Collective was to regroup healthy Trotskyist elements into a fraction to fight for an international conference on the road to building a new international. It was held that were possible programmatic differences could best be resolved by debate and common practice. This was a method of party building taken over from the PTS and we agreed with it. Unlike the LRCI it did not put up its program as an ultimatum or self-proclaim itself as the only revolutionary force on the planet. After 2002 there were numerous attempts at regroupment with other tendencies to build a new international party with an international centre. In 2003 the POB joined the Collective. Clearly, the LOI-CI was prepared to debate and work with the remnants of the CEMICOR tendency who had broken with Lora in 1985, and with the Group Bolshevik (GB) who had broken with Lambert.
Although a progressive break from the PTS, the LOICI was not yet a complete break with Moreno. It still held to the position that Moreno was in continuity with the healthy Fourth as against the Pabloites. The CWG using Jose Villa’s analysis was able to prove that Moreno had collaborated in the betrayal of the 1952 Bolivian revolution. The process of convincing the comrades took four years, from 2002 to 2006. As part of this critique of Moreno’s position on the popular front in Bolivia in 1952, the LOI-CI then went back to reconsider the legacy of Morenoism and drew the conclusion that both the International Committee (to be formed in 1953) and the International Secretariat (IS) were equally degenerate currents in 1952. To explain this it followed the trail back to the history of the 4th from its founding until after WW2. It arrived at the position that the 4th was liquidated during WW2 with the demise of its international centre. This was a big leap in the LOI-CI program as it clearly saw that the Fourth International as an organisation did not survive the collapse of a centralised leadership that enabled it to coordinate the theory and practice of a revolutionary international. Its new position for the re-founding of the 4th International on the basis of the 1938 Program was now much closer to the CWG 5thist position. In that way the LOI-CI was rejecting any revolutionary organisational continuity between Morenoism and Trotsky.
The 2004 Split in the Collective
Within a year tensions emerged in the Collective and it split in April 2004. In 2006 we wrote:
The Collective did not go beyond a fraternal federation and despite the high level of programmatic agreement, the BT [actually Group Bolshevik], LM and POB resented the influence of the LOI in the Collective and accused it of using its funds to create an Argentinean ‘mother’ party and sending its cadres to infiltrate their organisations. These resentments developed into open hostilities and personal attacks on the LOI leadership as Argentinean chauvinist and domineering. In April 2004 these tensions came to a head and a split occurred. Would a greater degree of democratic centralism have averted the split, or did the split represent an underlying difference over method and program? CWG thinks that the two are necessarily related. LM, BT [i.e. GB] and Germinal, and POP [actually POB], read the LOIs drive to regroupment as predatory and sought defence in their national organisations – in the case of BT [i.e. GB] its residual Franco imperio-centrism, and LM and POB their respective national Trotskyisms. These organisations had failed the test of revolutionary regroupment by means of a dynamic struggle against national chauvinism in both its imperialist and semi-colonial forms. They could not break with the root cause of the degeneration of post-war Trotskyism and formed a propaganda bloc, the Permanent Revolution Collective.
The 2004 split with GB/LM/POB was unnecessary with faults on both sides. The LM leadership was at fault to discipline a comrade for his programmatic differences. The LOICI was at fault in reacting so violently using the terms Stalinism and Polpotism rather than resolve the issue by fraternal methods. The basic principle at stake was the right within the Collective of a LM member to agree to the LOICI program. The LM leadership had the duty to allow the comrade to argue his positions in the Collective. The LOI-CI leadership had a duty to insist that this political difference be resolved within the Collective. Despite attempts by the CWG to resolve the dispute in this way the national Trotskyist habits on all sides led to a split.
As we have noted the comrades who formed the LOI-CI recognised the need to overcome the Morenoist history of national Trotskyism. National Trotskyism in a semi-colony is not the same as national Trotskyism in an imperialist country. In imperialist countries national Trotskyism results from the struggle of one or other imperialist power to liquidate Trotskyism into the social-chauvinist labour aristocracy and labour bureaucracy. We call this ‘imperio-centrism’ to distinguish it from national Trotskyism in the semi-colonies. In the semi-colonial countries national Trotskyism results from isolation from the global working class, especially in the imperialist countries, and the pressure within an oppressed nation is for revolutionaries to join the ‘patriotic bloc’ of classes, or its opposite, ultraleft adventurism or abstentionism, often zigzagging between both. Chauvinism here usually takes the form of the defence of the oppressed from imperialism e.g. anti-Yankee.
The split was tragic because it reflected the as yet incomplete break of both the LOI-CI and the LM and POB with national Trotskyism and national differences that overwhelmed the big leap the Collective had taken to create the conditions to overcome it. Both currents were suspicious of each other’s influence in the Collective, especially over Bolivia. This was expressed in the LM’s attempt to revive the CEMICOR in late 2003 in Bolivia excluding the LOI-CI comrade who accompanied CWG to Bolivia. This was regarded as a hostile act by the LOI-CI. Attempts by CWG to mediate on this question and over the question of RS failed as the two sides dug in. The CWG was left with the decision as to which side to take on the split. Ultimately we did so, on the basis that the LOI-CI was the only revolutionary force in the Collective that had come into existence as the result of a number of revolutionary breaks with national Trotskyism. We think this decision was principled at the time and continue to think so in the light of our experience in the years since.
Liaison Committee of 2004
After the split in the Collective in 2004, the method of the LOI-CI, and its Chilean fraternal group the POI-C (Workers International Party), supported by the CWG, was to continue regrouping by the method of forming Liaison committees for debate and common action. We did so briefly with the Argentinean POR (Revolutionary Workers Party), again under pressure from the CWG, and as a result won its Brazilian partner, the Trotskyist Fraction (FT-ex POR-Lora of Bolivia). The FT now adopted the LOI-CI position on that betrayal to break decisively with POR-Lora. We can say that Bolivia 1952 was the key to that conquest also. The LOI-CI, POI-CI, CWG and FT formed a Liaison Committee to work on other Brazilian groups notably the POM (Marxist Workers’ Party).
Thus our intervention was to fight for resolutions in support of the vanguard of the Bolivian miners against the COB (Bolivian Unions’ Confederation) betrayals, and the POR-Lora ultraleft adaption to Morales MAS, to break the rank and file from the labour bureaucracy that was behind Morales. Despite more than two years of debate and joint actions (e.g. intervention in Conlutas (unions affiliated in a “national co-ordination of struggle”) – note a left bureaucracy split from the CUT (Central Union of Workers) but serving to tie the rank and file to the left social democracy of PSOL (Party of Socialism & Liberty) we failed to win the POM but did recruit some militants to the Liaison Committee.
Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (FLT) formed in 2006
Meanwhile, the comrade who broke from the Lucha Marxista (LM), joined with the LOI-CI comrades to form a group in Bolivia around the mines and universities, and the embryo of a group in Peru. By 2006 the Liaison Committee was ready to take the next step and fuse at a higher level of democratic centralism including the LOI-CI, POI-CI, FT, and the Bolivian and Peruvian groups. This was the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (FLT) based on a Declaration of 23 points, a call for an international congress of principled Trotskyist groups and other militant organisations, around a basic program of 23 points. We were prepared to meet and discuss with any groups that agreed with all or some of these points. Again, the program is not an ultimatum for discussion and joint action towards regroupment.
In 2008 we made several decisive 'offensives' to win over other groups. We had been in communication with the Japan Revolutionary Communist League -Revolutionary Marxist Faction (JRCL-RMF) of Japan since 2002 mainly sending letters of greeting to their yearly Antiwar Congress. By the end of 2008 we had exchanged a number of mutually critical letters in which they characterised us as ‘degenerate Trotskyists’ and we them as idealists and pacifists. For the moment the JRCL-RMF was out of the picture. Around the end of 2008 we made contact with Socialist Fight (SF) and arising out of its correspondence with the Workers International Vanguard League (WIVL) of South Africa. While initially informal discussion with SF was promising, the problem of their ‘socialist bi-state’ in Palestine was a major sticking point. This would later become the focus of the hysterical letters from the SCI to SF when it learned that SF was also talking to GB. When the SCI broke off any formal discussion with the SF, no members of the FLTI were allowed to continue with formal discussion.
On the related question of the FLT’s position on Palestine, it is clear that the 23 point document does not state that the Zionist state is also fascist. This is the position of the FLT majority, not the CWG. Like the tactics around social democracy, it was a difference within the FLT. Similarly, the agreed FLT position on Palestine self-determination is for a socialist Palestine. It is expressed as a “multi-ethnic, secular workers state with a workers and peasants’ government” within a “Middle East Federation of Socialist republics” in the 23 points which is somewhat confusing but a distinct advance on the Moreno stageist revolution in Palestine, and in CWG literature this is explained to mean a “socialist Palestine”.
Contact with the WIVL began with a discussion over Palestine at the time of the Israel attack on Gaza in 2008 and then moved on to the popular front in South Africa. The Triple Alliance is a formation of the African National Congress (ANC), a popular front party that includes bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, along with the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The FLT was able to convince the WIVL comrades that the lessons of the popular front in Bolivia could be applied to South Africa. In the view of the FLT, after being convinced by the CWG, the WIVL was viewed as a ‘healthy’ current and moves were made towards fusion.
A senior cadre from LOI-CI visited South Africa during the elections in April to further our relationship. The WIVL entered into a pre-fusion agreement based on some of the 23 points and then after further discussion fused with the FLT at the July 2009 Congress to form the FLTI. During the congress differences emerged over a Trotskyist program in South Africa, especially around calling for a ‘black revolution’ (a Morenoist position rejected by the WIVL) and the WIVL’s preferred designation of wage labour as ‘slave labour’. But these differences were the basis for ongoing discussion and debate and practical common actions to test the program. It also became clear that the WIVL supported the majority FLTI position on the Zionist state as ‘fascist’.
FLTI founders on China
The one question that became a source of major difference was the character of China. The background to this is important because it leads to a number of developments that led ultimately to the recent crisis in the FLTI around not only China but to a rapid degeneration in method from a healthy fraction, despite its various origins in Morenoism, Spartacism, Loraism and Healyism, into an openly right centrist organisation making huge opportunist leaps covered with ultra-left phrases. This is to say that the healthy evolution of the FLT to break with national Trotskyism in Latin America, when confronted with the problem of entering into major offensives to fuse with large political formations in South Africa and Japan, as well as with the militant HWRS (Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism – United States) with a long history of struggles against degenerated Trotskyism, failed the test, went rapidly into reverse, and all the underlying weaknesses of national Trotskyism re-emerged in the SCI (International secretariat of the FLTI).
In July 2008 a comrade of the CWG wrote a blog post on China, 'Is China the New US?' This article was reproduced in the first English issue of the International Workers Organiser.
The article stated that China was developing a capitalist economy that was approaching that of imperialism. While it argued that China was not yet imperialism, the implication was that it was only matter of time. “China may be on the road to displacing the US but will it be as an imperialist China or a socialist China?” Interestingly, no objection to the possibility of China becoming imperialist, or that this would be a break from Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, was raised by the leadership of the FLT. There was no accompanying editorial note to disclaim the position argued in this article. In October 2008 the same comrade wrote another blog article, 'Is Russia Imperialist?' arguing that Russia could be seen as an emerging imperialist based on the application of Lenin’s theory of imperialism.
In March 2009 at the plenary with the SCI, the CWG delegate argued that Russia and China were emerging as imperialist powers on the basis of net foreign direct investment showing an export of finance capital. This position was forcefully attacked by the main LOI-CI leader, CM, as not only factually incorrect (e.g. Gazprom was controlled by the German BASF) but also theoretically impossible since it would mean the development of the forces of production in the epoch of imperialism and the emergence of new imperialist powers where there were already too many. The CWG undertook to do more work to convince the FLT that not only a new imperialism possible, but that it was already the new reality in Russia. Meanwhile the US group Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism (HWRS) had arrived at the conclusion that China was already an emerging imperialist power and approached the FLT to join on the basis of principled agreement with the 23 points document.
The Founding Congress of the FLTI met in Argentina in July 2009. Apart from the small Argentinean NRI (Revolutionary Internationalist Nucleus) and some individuals who also fused at this congress like MT of Brazil, the important groups that fused on the basis of the 23 points and resolutions passed at the congress were the WIVL and HWRS. Apart from other differences that became the basis of pre-congress discussion leading up to the next congress in December, the Congress agreed to make the differences of China the basis of a public ‘theoretical’ discussion. The HWRS presented several lengthy documents in support of its position on China as an emerging imperialist power. Majority and Minority Resolutions spelling out the two positions on China were passed and published in the International Workers Organiser New Series No 1.
At that point it was agreed that there was no pressing programmatic difference since the minority held that China still had a transitional dual character as semi-colony and emerging imperialist power, so that in the event of war with the US, defence of China was probable. But it was obvious from the majority arguments that they saw the minority position as a serious deviation from Marxism and a concession to US imperialism.
Thus the FLT having spent 6 years building the fraction, and initially reluctant to approach groups in other continents, was now making a huge leap to fuse with the WIVL and HWRS and projecting itself beyond its Latin American home base into South Africa and North America. Facing a potential crisis and split over China, instead of consolidating this rapid expansion and dealing with the question of China objectively, CM of the SCI made a decision in the middle of the Congress to do a 180 degree shift in our relations to the JRCL-RMF and launch an ‘offensive’ into Asia to make the Chinese revolution hand in hand with the ‘Japanese Trotskyists’. Up to that point we agreed that the JRCL-RMF were idealists and not Leninist- Trotskyists. Now, to prove that China was not imperialist CM would show that the FLTI and the JRCL-RMF could intervene together to make the Chinese revolution. Ironically the JRCL-RMF holds China to be a great power, though it rejects Lenin’s theory of imperialism as irrelevant in today’s ‘changed circumstances’. A leading LOI-CI cadre was selected to go and the trip rapidly planned. As well as being a delegate to the anti-war assembly, they would have discussions with the ranks and the leadership of the JRCL-RMF.
This mission proved to be the one that took the FLTI from a potentially healthy regrouping of Trotskyist groups across three continents, into the realm of fantasy and messianic megalomania. The whole FLTI was now hostage to this foolish venture. The SCI was elected on the basis of the existing LOI-CI leadership, with SM of the WIVL as ‘African Secretary’ and a co-opted member of the SCI. WIVL supported the Majority position on China and the Japanese adventure. The Japanese adventure was a clear indication that CM was out of control.
Crisis of the FLTI
Then followed the SZ affair, that of the ‘bourgeois’ trade union activist SZ in the US. Around September of 2009, an HWRS comrade was talking to a long time labour activist SZ at a Bay Area rally, when the latter asked if HWRS knew of the history of the JRCL-RMF we were ‘fusing’ with, as it had "betrayed" the rail workers in the 1980s. Because the HWRS was new to the FLTI, and because the reports of the Japan trip were about the details of discussions and did not reveal any agreement to do more than exchange documents and read each other’s material, HWRS wrote to the SCI for further information. What happened then was alarming. SCI leaders wrote back condemning HWRS for talking to a bourgeois agent. In doing so, HWRS had revealed themselves to be in danger of Stalinism, i.e. using an enemy of the working class to make accusations against a revolutionary organisation. Not only did they characterise the informer as a bourgeois agent, he was a leader in the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), which SCI characterised as an 'imperialist' party led by 'Stalinists'. If SZ had any questions about the JRCL-RMF he should demand an international moral tribunal to pass judgement. The SCI concluded that there could be no question of the FLTI questioning the JRCL-RMF as moral charge had come from a bourgeois agent.
There then followed a furious exchange about proletarian morality. The SCI said that the working class moral principle is against any bourgeois intervention in the working class. This applies equally to bourgeois agents such as Stalinists. Information from SZ cannot be used to question the political honour of a proletarian organisation. This is very convenient because anyone can be labelled a Stalinist (or bourgeois) and their political charges, right or wrong, ruled out of court. The HWRS and the CWG argued that for Trotsky moral and political questions cannot be separated. To do so avoids that fact that Stalinist (and bourgeois) morality serves class politics. The point was made forcefully that you cannot read any of the Dewey Commission without being hit over the head by this fact. Without conceding to our argument, but implicitly recognising the absurdity of its position, the SCI then claimed it has asked the JRCL-RMF to create a moral tribunal to pass judgement on its role in the 1980s privatisation of the railways in Japan. The leap into Japan had the SCI landing in a bed of hot coals with nothing but bluster and hysteria to cover its naked feet.
Already of course, the circularity of the SCI position was clear. The HWRS were being attacked as petty bourgeois academics in the Bay Area, unconscious Stalinists, and servants of Obama. By wanting to learn more about the JRCL history the HWRS was now morally on the outside of the working class and could not make any political criticisms of the SCI as supreme arbiters of proletarian morality. From that point on, the SCI began to scapegoat the HWRS, saying its fusion in the FLTI was premature, and that it was a bourgeois agent in the FLTI. Fed up with this slandering, HWRS responded with an analysis of the crisis that was breaking out in the FLTI with a critique of the method of the SCI as a subjective method reflecting its failure to complete the break with Morenoism. The recent events and attacks on the HWRS over the JRCL-RMF were to prevent the collapse of the Japanese adventure. The HWRS were attacked as Stalinists to remove them as critics of the Japanese adventure.
The CWG was involved in this as part of the minority, blocking with the HWRS on these questions. We wrote two critiques of the SCIs position on China showing that they did not see how China was lending support to the populist regimes in Latin America. First, the settlement of the Kraft fight in Argentina happened when the Maoist labour bureaucracy did a deal with the Kirchner regime enabled by a Chinese currency swap trade arrangement. We drew the LOI-CIs attention to China’s attempts to buy out Repsol RPF that would give it the dominant role in oil production in Argentina and an important source of tax revenue in funding social programs in the provinces. We pointed out that in Bolivia the comrades were deluding the miners’ vanguard if they did not explain how the Morales MAS was promising workers jobs from an industrialisation project bankrolled by China. When we criticised the Majority for claiming that the Tonghua struggle where workers killed a privatising manager was evidence of a pre-revolutionary situation in China, CWG was roundly condemned as ignoring the class struggle, suppressing information about strikes in China and India, and abandoning its revolutionary past in the FLT.
Minority Critique of SCI method
The CWG agrees with the HWRS analysis of the recent open degeneration in the FLTI leadership, in particular the SCI and SM of the WIVL as symptomatic of a method that could not meet the challenges of rapid expansion and a global crisis in which the changing role of China would force them to abandon historic schemas and dogmatic positions carried over from Morenoism. This reversion to old habits showed up at the FLTI founding congress in the call for a 'black republic' in South Africa (which the WIVL reject for obvious reasons), and in the concept of Zionism as ‘fascism’. In the end it was confirmed by the vitriolic, confused, contradictory, abusive content of the Majority’s document on China. It is a sad reflection on the limits to the fight of the LOI-CI and the WIVL to break with Morenoism facing the global crisis and the crisis of revolutionary leadership.
However, for the CWG, Morenoism is not a sufficient explanation of the crisis that blew up in the FLTI over China. It is but one expression of semi-colonial national Trotskyism. We argue that it is necessary to see that it (and the Healyite origins of the WIVL) as responses of semi-colonial national Trotskyism to imperialism and the servile pro-imperialist national bourgeoisies. As we have pointed out national Trotskyism was formed in the post-war period of the ascendancy of US imperialism as the world hegemonic power. It was the other side of the coin of ‘imperio-centrist’ Trotskyism that adapted to the chauvinism of the labour aristocracy and bureaucracies in the imperialist countries. The CWG developed the critique of imperio-centrist Trotskyism to account for the exclusion of the semi-colonial sections from the Fourth International and the betrayal of the national revolutions in Indo-China, Bolivia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This led to the collapse of the 4th International after the war and the isolation of national Trotskyist currents torn between ultra-leftism and opportunism.
Historically, the labour movement in Latin America and South Africa has been mainly oppressed by US and British imperialism respectively. With the decline of British imperialism the hegemonic US remains the No 1 enemy as it is driven militarily to protect is spheres of interest from its rivals. Thus while the FLTI majority recognise that the Bolivarians, Stalinists, Castroists and fake Trotskyists try to sell imperialism as a policy that can be democratic and progressive they cannot conceive of the main imperialist enemy today being other than the US. Therefore appeals to democratic imperialism can only be to the Democrats in the US, in particular Obama, (or the EU imperialists). Once Obama is exposed as a ‘bomber’ and no different to Bush (Republicrats!) then there is an objective revolutionary situation at hand and only those who defend Obama as a democratic imperialist block the road to revolution. This is why the Majority turned on the Minority as Obama-ists.
However, what the Majority doesn’t see is that now Obama’s ‘democratic’ credentials have been exposed to the most advanced anti-imperialist workers his place is being taken by China and Hu Jintao. That is why increasingly the popular fronts of the national bourgeoisies, like the Bolivarians in Latin America, the ANC in South Africa, and ZANU-PF/MDC regime in Zimbabwe, along with other national bourgeois regimes, are turning to China to rescue them from US imperialism, painting China in the role of a progressive capitalism, or even socialism. So that rather than an all out fight against all imperialist countries, workers are being called on to put their faith in some form of ‘market socialism’ in China. The almost universal collapse of imperio-centrist Trotskyism into Menshevik cheerleaders for the Bolivarians, and under this influence, pulls behind almost all semi-colonial Trotskyism which remains dominated by degenerated currents, creates a situation in which semi-colonial Trotskyism reproduces its classic form of zigzagging between ultra-leftism and opportunism, sometimes combining both.
This means that the FLTI under its current leadership will remain trapped in a national Trotskyist method. It will be trapped in an objectivist schema of an objective/subjective struggle against US imperialism in which the FLTI acts to expose the agents of US imperialism in the workers movement as ‘stalinoid’. Yet trapped in this schema it cannot see that the working class is not listening to Obama’s siren song, but to the Bolivarian’s siren song of Chinese imperialism as a form ‘21st century socialism’. The SCI says Chavez’ 5th international is a Stalin-Laval agreement. But what the SCI overlooks is that in the original Stalin-Laval agreement, Stalin made an agreement with ‘democratic’ imperialism to fight ‘fascist’ imperialism. This is exactly how the Bolivarian/Castroist/Maoist/fake Trotskyists see it; China is the ‘democratic’ imperialism'/'progressive alternative' ranged against the US as the ‘fascist’ imperialism. The FLTI majority is in danger of being no more than the 5th wheel on Chavez' ‘5th International’.
In sum what we are dealing with here is the crisis of Marxism, caused by the collapse and liquidation of the 4th International, expressed as the isolation and pressure on semi-colonial Trotskyism which traps it into national Trotskyism torn between the popular front and ultra-left adventurism. The LOI-CI making a break from Morenoism only got so far before being ambushed by a global crisis and the crisis of leadership. The FLTI leadership speaks of this as the race between the revolution and counter-revolution. In this race there is always the temptation to take the short cut to win over left moving forces. The risk is that in making such bold leaps in the absence of a revolutionary international, the venture comes to grief as an adventure. This is what has happened with the FLTI. There is no objective process of revolutionary subjectivity with which the FLTI only has to keep up in order to construct a new international. There are deeply ingrained non-Marxist deviations inside even the most healthy of Trotskyists which results from the liquidation of the international and the loss of dialectics. Dialectics is only possible with the healthy grounding of the international in every corner of the globe in every country and region. Without that, program becomes a frozen corpse and it can neither guide nor learn from events. The question of China has exploded this dead program and opened the road to the return to Marxism, and with it a new revolutionary international.
Overcoming the Crisis of Marxism
The revolutionary program is only as good as the revolutionary party and its Marxist method of uniting theory and practice. National Trotskyism is the reverse side of the coin of imperio-centrist Trotskyism that liquidated the 4th International. National Trotskyism is the deformed Marxism that results from the isolation of Trotskyism in semi-colonial countries. There is no way to overcome this short of building a revolutionary international that can unite theory and practice in the revolutionary program. The FLTI majority program is frozen in a dogmatic Trotskyism and Leninism and turned into an historic schema that can only disarm it in practice. It is necessary to develop Marxism as a dialectical method capable of grasping the complex concrete reality of today. The Minority has begun to do this with its analysis of the emergence of imperialism out of the special conditions of restored capitalism in the worker states. In grasping this multifaceted reality we can advance with a program that is capable of acting as a guide to practice in a world where China’s emergence opens up the prospect of inter-imperialist rivalry, wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions. In our various documents we have explained how the world situation is altered by the emergence of China as an imperialist power. The 23 points that are the basis of the FLT and the FLTI have to be recast in the light of China’s transformation. The severity of the crisis, the mechanisms for making the workers pay for the crisis, the popular front, the Bolivarian project, Palestine, Cuba, the national question, are all now refractions of the global imperialist rivalry now including China. But while such a dialectical method can be defended, unless it becomes a living Marxism embodied in the unity of theory and practice of an international party, it will necessarily degenerate. In the process of building a revolutionary international we need to be on guard against both national Trotskyism and imperio-centrism.
Forward to the revolutionary Marxist international!