September 1996   

The ICL Leaders’ Cover Story:
Smokescreen for a Betrayal

It’s hard to miss that something is seriously wrong with the official story the Interna­tional Communist League’s leader­ship has put out to justify its purge of long-time cadres this past June, followed almost immediately by its break of fraternal relations with the Liga Quarta-Internacio­na­lista do Brasil­/Luta Metalúrg­ica (LQB/LM). First came a publicly distributed, 149-page bulletin of internal ICL materials which was filled with documents against the expelled comrades, complain­ed that Norden and Stamberg alone had produced “at least 392 pages” of documents in a year-long internal struggle, but reproduced only one of those documents, their “Response to a Frame-Up ‘Trial’.” Any serious reader trying to figure out what the fight was about was left wonder­ing what we had to say.

Then Workers Vanguard (No. 648, 5 July 1996) published a “polem­ic” which even sympa­thetically inclined readers found remarkably short on con­cretes, specif­ics or serious political argu­mentation. The expelled comrades, who have now formed the Internationalist Group, pub­lished an exten­sive bulletin (After Spartacist League Purges Leading Cadres, ICL Flees from Class Battle in Brazil: From a Drift Toward Absten­tionism to Desertion from the Class Strug­gle, July 1996) that provid­es point-by-point answers to the ICL leadership’s distortions and outright falsifications, carefully documents what really happened in Brazil and explains the political meaning of these events.

After a month and a half of silence, the ICL has now pub­lished a cursory “an­swer” to us (WV No. 651, 13 September 1996). But, as will be immediately clear to anyone who has read our bulle­tin, WV’s “polemic” answers none of the docu­mented facts and politi­cal arguments we put forward. This exercise in blatant politi­cal evasion accompanies an edited version of the August 1 New York Spartacist forum where ICL speaker Jon Brule rehashed, often word for word, the WV 648 articles on our expulsion and the break with the Brazilian LQB/LM.

From “Little” Distortions...

Our bulletin pointed out:

“A notable aspect of the recent fights and sharp turn to the right by the ICL has been its systematic use of distortion and outright lies, in flagrant contradiction to the proud tra­di­tion of the Sparta­cist tendency.”

In little things as in big, the ICL’s “answer” piles on more evidence that it has adopted wholesale dishonesty as a method of political combat.

Take the statement in the article’s very first sentence that our bulletin was “published without a union ‘bug’ (label).” The implica­tion is that our bulle­tin was printed in a scab shop. But the fact is that we did every bit of work on the bulletin ourselves. This was stated clearly on the front cover of the bulletin, which says “Labor donated”Sa fact WV neglects to mention. Numerous Sparta­cist League leaflets and documents have stated that they were produced “labor donated.” Volun­teer labor was how the Spartacist League originally printed and reproduced its Marxist Bulletin series for years (up to and including MB No. 9, Basic Documents of the SL).

WV’s baiting is a clumsy attempt at a smear job aimed at obscuring real political debate. Like the repeated claims in Brule’s speech that we “split” and “left” the partySwhen in fact we were bureaucratically expelledSthis gives a measure of the dishonesty of WV’s account.

...To a Full-Scale Cover-Up on Brazil

A significant part of our bulletin was devoted to documenting how, after the ICL correctly encouraged the Brazilian LQB’s struggle to remove police from the Volta Redonda municipal workers union (SFPMVR), the “new I.S.” (International Secretariat) fled from this crucial class battle.

We quoted the June 5 [1996] I.S. motion saying that “given the sinister provocations and threats of state repres­sion,” associa­tion of the ICL with the LQB’s union work “pre­sents unaccept­able risks to the van­guard.” We reprinted the LQB’s power­ful response to the ICL’s disloy­al break of fraternal relations, in which the Brazil­ian mili­tants stress that “as the ICL represen­tatives were fully aware, the day you cut off relations was one day before the union assembly called to separ­ate the municipal guardas [police] from the municipal union!” We cited one leaflet and news­pa­per article after another from Volta Redonda on the record of the Brazilian comrades’ fight to re­move the cops from the union and the repression they have faced in carrying out this struggle.

Yet with supreme arrogance, the WV No. 651 “polemic” pretends this doesn’t exist, saying:

“The Nordenites’ cover story for our supposed ‘centrist turn’ is that we ‘deserted the class struggle’ by breaking fraternal relations with the Brazilian Luta Metalúrgica (LM) group, allegedly as their MEL [Municipal Workers in Struggle] support­ers in the municipal workers union in Volta Redonda were about to raise a motion to kick the cops out of the union at a June 19 union meeting.”

“Allegedly”?! What nauseating cynicism! Every Volta Redonda union activist knows this is what happened and would dismiss WV’s sneer with disgust. As the MEL paper (July 28) reported, the police intervened to shut down the June 19 union meeting where union presi­dent Geraldo Ribeiro “read the resolutions of the 1st Seminar [of the union], among the main points of which is: To dis­affiliate the municipal guardas from the SFPMVR, because they are not part of the working class.” In fact it was just at this point that the police dissolved the meeting.

Eight days after the June 19 meeting, Ribeiro was suspended by the courts, at the “re­quest” of pro-cop provoca­teur Artur Fer­nandes, who was appointed by the bosses’ courts to be their puppet union “president.” The bourgeois press reported the pro-police faction’s motives: “they state they are ­against the proposal to disaffiliate the municipal guardas from the union,” whereas “disaffiliation is called for by suspended union president Geraldo Ribeiro” (Diário do Vale [Volta Redonda], 20-21 July 1996).

Since Ribeiro refused to abandon this struggle, the popular front city government escalat­ed its vendetta, charg­ing him with “slander­ing” the city because of the campaign he has led against the racist firing of a black woman, Regina Célia. This charge, based on a draconian law inherited from the military dictatorship, can bring up to four years in jail.

But as far as WV is concerned, it is just “allegedly” and according to us that all this has to do with the fight waged for cops out of the union before and during the June 19 union meeting. Yet the ICL leadership knows full well that this is the case. Contempt for the truth is the mark of cynics, not revolutionists. Not only is the I.S. in possession of the leaflets and multiple articles from the bourgeois press (many of which it hid from the ICL mem­ber­ship), but at a June 16 meeting with the Brazilian comrades, the I.S. representatives argued against the LQB’s plans to vote the removal of the cops at the June 19 meeting.  We quoted a few of these ICL reps’ repeated demands that the Brazilian comrades ­abandon this fight because it was too dangerous. This was summed up in the egregious call to “pull our hands out of the boiling water.” One day after the LQB refused to commit such a flagrant betrayal, the I.S. wrote its letter breaking relations with them. This entire course of events is laid out ­in detail in a series of written statements sent to the ICL by the LQB militants directly involved in these struggles.

Next item: The WV article says the ICL broke with the Brazilian group “on the funda­mental premise that the main task in Brazil was to construct a revolutionary party based on the program of Trotskyism, and to put out a party press reflecting that program.” From reading WV, nobody would have a clue that less than a month after the ICL broke with them, the LQB com­rades published that party press! Its name is Vanguarda Operária (see graphic). Pretty strange for a group that supposedly didn’t want to publish a party newspaper. Moreover, the article is silent about the fact that at the time of the ICL’s break, over half the paper was laid out, despite the weeks-long delay because the ICL rep had the computer codes (“attributes”) without which the LQB comrades couldn’t open the files.

In addition to selling hundreds of copies of its paper to steel workers, municipal workers, university students in Sno Paulo and Rio, protesters against repression of landless peasants and many others, the LQB has published its own pamphlet of Trotsky’s crucial work “Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay,” which explains that a successful struggle to free the workers movement from bourgeois state intervention can be waged only by building the revolutionary, Fourth Internationalist party of the proletarian vanguard. But the line of the ICL leadership is: if we pretend not to notice, then it doesn’t exist. Not for nothing did the LQB characterize this method as “illusion­ism.”

Falsification to Hide Flight from Class Struggle

WV 651 deepens the falsifications and slanders raised to justify the bureaucratic purge of leading members and the ICL leadership’s flight from class struggle in Brazil. After dishonestly claiming that the LQB “refused” to “construct a revolutionary party” and “put out a party press,” the article claims that “LM refused to break with a course of trade-union opportunism and rotten-bloc maneuvers.” What is the proof offered to back up this sweeping statement? None whatso­ever. Just for example, who are they supposedly engaged in “rotten bloc maneuvers” with? WV is silent. Brule’s August 1 forum presentation claims the Brazilian comrades believe “any unprin­ci­pl­ed shortcut or deal is possible. And that’s what LM didSand kept on doingSat the top of this mu­n­i­cipal workers union, until the police themselves broke the deal....” What “deal” with the cops? This is a filthy smear!

What has occurred is the “bloc” of the bourgeois police and courts, pro-cop provocateurs in the SFPMVR, the popular-front mayor  and most of the Brazilian fake left in a relentless attempt to smash the LQB militants. And as this truly rotten bloc, an unholy anti-communist alliance of the class enemy and the opportunists, spewed out one slander after another, the ICL leadership grotesquely took up some of those lies and repeated them, first internally and now in its public press! That the LQB comrades have pursued the struggle for class independence in the face of these odds, and despite the ICL leadership’s aban­donment and backstab­bing defamation of them, speaks highly of their determination to fight for ­the cause of the workers and oppressed.

The WV 651 articles claim it was “only when compelled by a police provocation” that the LQB/LM took up the question of cops in the labor movement! Once again, this is false. The Municipal Workers in Struggle pro­gram, while failing to call explicitly for removal of the cops from the SFPMVR (an error the LQB has explicitly recognized), included a section on “The Military Question” stating: “The official armed forces are institutions which serve the ruling class.... In Brazil there are various levels: federal (army, navy, air force and federal police); state (military police); municipal (municipal guarda)Sall are the armed fist of the bourgeoisie.” The MEL program adds that ­any “alliance” with the police is incompatible with class independence, “since they bring men armed and trained by the bourgeois state into the unions.”

SFPMVR president Ribeiro sent the ICL a statement noting that shortly after taking office he carried out negotiations “for the disaffiliation of the guarda from the union” even before the discussion of this question that occurred when an LQB representa­tive attend­ed the ICL’s Inter­na­tional Execu­tive Committee meeting in January. And it wasn’t as if this posi­tion went un­noticed. ­The pro-police faction in the SFPMVR, led by Artur Fernandes, issued a leaflet repro­ducing the MEL program’s denunciation of the municipal c­ops and calling the March 13 union assembly to “defend the g­uardas.” The Artur faction’s leaflet began:

“Geraldo clearly wants to exclude the Municipal Guardas and watchmen from the union movement, stigmatizing them as ARMED FISTS OF THE BOSSES, claiming that an alliance with the Munici­pal Guardas and Watchmen is incompatible with MUNICIPÁ­RIOS EM LUTA, making clear the intention to disaffiliate all the Munici­pal Guardas and Watchmen from the Union.”

The facts are clear: the pro-police provocateur S echoed by the bourgeois press and the municipal guardas’ commander (as detailed in our bulletin) S went after Ribeiro and the LQB for seeking the disaffiliation of the cops from the union.

When workers turned out to support Geraldo against the pro-cop provocation, the Artur faction called the Municipal Police against the March 13 union meetingSthis is what led the ICL to launch the inter­national campaign for police hands off the SFPMVR. The fact that the union printed 10,000 copies of the April 11 SFPMVR paper with Mumia Abu-Jamal’s article “Police: Part of, or Enemies of, Labor?” was the pretext used by the bourgeois court to suspend Ribeiro from his elected post as union president.

Then we come to WV’s statement that “the June 19 union meeting was not advertised as the showdown with the cops the Nordenites would have us believe” and Brule’s August 1 statement that “Not only do you make up a bogus issue here, but then you lie about that too.” Let’s be clear: those the ICL leadership claims are lying about this are not just the so-called “Norden group” but the Volta Redonda militants the WV article grudgingly admits carried out a “difficult and princi­pled struggle against the police presence in the union.” But let us see who is telling the truth.

The article’s talk of “advertising” a “show­down” is revoltingly cynical given that the ICL correctly recommended that LQB supporters make it clear they did not seek a confrontation with the cops. A February 26 letter by comrade Robertson to LQB leader Cerezo noted that “while recognizing with increasing clarity that police within the workers’ unions is a fundamentally unprincipled practice, the timing and means of their removal and exclusion needs to be applied thoughtfully, with an eye to the other elements in the immediate situation.”

The fact remains that the June 19 union meeting was to be the culmina­tion of a campaign to separate the cops from the union. The ICL’s International Secretariat translated, but did not circulate, the May 6 MEL bulletin (see graphic) that began “The Ranks Are Deciding: Police Out of the Union” and reported on the garage workers’ assembly that voted that “The police must not be part of the SFPMVR and the labor movement in general, since they are the instrument and armed fist of the bour­geoisie.” On the inside of this bulletin is a headline calling to in­ten­sify the campaign internationally and among the ranks and “do as the garage brothers did” and elect representatives against the “police slate of the Artur faction” in delegate elections by work group (the schedule for which is printed in the same bulletin) to a union conference scheduled for June 13. The bulletin ends with the slogans: “Forward with Our Campaign! Police Out of the Union! Workers of the World, Unite!”

The WV article cynically claims that the June 7 MEL paper referring to the June 19 meeting said the meeting was about a wage campaign. That was only one of the points on the agenda. Point 7 of the agenda for the June 13 delegated union conference (seminário) held to prepare for the June 19 assembly was on the Municipal Guarda. The June 17 MEL paper reproduces this on its ­­front page, while the back begins in huge letters: “The Campaign for ‘Cops Hands Off the SFPMVR’ Is Growing.”

The June 18 MEL paper reproduces the main conference resolution, which states that ­“the affilia­tion of guardas and police to work­ers’ unions is incom­patible with a class program.”

The June 19 meeting was indeed intended to be the culmination of the campaign for police out of the union. As the June 28 MEL paper reported, the cops and courts shut down the June 19 union meeting where “Geraldo read the resolu­tions from the First Seminário, among the main points of which is: To disaffili­ate the municipal guardas from the SFPMVR, because they are not part of the working class.” Showing the arrest of LQB supporter Marcello Carega for leading 150 workers blocking a gate as part of the June 21 nation-wide general strike, it notes “for the ‘blind people’ who do not want to see, this is one more lesson: police (any kind of police) are not part of the workers movement” and thus the June 13 conference called for “excluding the Municipal Guardas from the SFPMVR.”

As the LQB noted in its July 4 [1996] response to the ICL, thousands of these bulletins were distributed, not only within the SFPMVR but elsewhere, including university campuses in Sno Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the V.R. region. Subsequent leaflets (as well as the bourgeois press) reported support to the campaign by the mother of Ernane da Silva Lúcio, a black child murdered in October 1995 by a municipal cop, and the issue continued to polar­ize the city. While pro-cop provoca­teur Artur Fernandes drew less than a dozen workers to the “assembly” he held after the courts appointed him puppet union “president,” on July 26 an assembly of 150 SFPMVR members voted, after a minute of silence in memory of Ernane, to reaffirm Ribeiro as president and to expel the police from the union.

Yet WV pretends none of this exists. And what of the demands by ICL representa­tives at their June 16 meeting with the LQB? Our bulletin cited their calls on the Brazilian comrades to “pull our hands out of the boiling water”; to “formally leave the most promi­nent issue” the bourgeoisie sought to use against them, their “lead­ership of the union”; the denunciation of the LQB’s “intransigent de­fense of work in a union which at this time poses fundamental risks” to the LQB and the ICL, etc. Yet this is just a small sample of their panicked warnings that “the power of the bourgeois state” was about to lead to a bloody clash in the union and their calls to pull out because of the LQB “cannot stand up to this whole offensive of bourgeois reaction, which is trying to destroy the union and which is trying to wait for the best moment to destroy our organization in Brazil.” These quotations can be multiplied at will. Does the ICL leadership dare to claim they are false? Try itSwe have the tape of the meeting, and so do they!

WV’s evasions, omissions and flat-out lies give the measure of a whole series of associated fabri­ca­tionsSamong them the truly repug­nant allegation that Norden and Negrete sought to “blunt” political discussions, “excusing weaknesses on the part of LM by claiming they were only ‘cultural differences’“ in line with a position that “comrades from the semi-colonial coun­tries would be second-class mem­bers”! We challenge the ICL leadership to substantiate this disgust­ing smear. In fact, the headlong flight from the class struggle in Brazil carries more than a whiff of Second International-style “socialism” on the colonial question, not unrelated to the “new I.S.’“ U.S.-centric view of the world­. As we noted in our bulletin, the I.S.’ actions in Brazil are a typically centrist clash between words and deeds.

Finally there is the claim that despite breaking fraternal relations, the ICL continues to defend the Brazilian militants against repression. We ask: other than a small, pro forma box in WV No. 650, has the ICL done anything whatsoever since the break to obtain solidarity statements or mobilize international defense for these comrades? To our knowledge, the answer is no. We would be happy to learn otherwise. While WV boasts “we are proud of this split” with the LQB, the flight from Brazil was a shameful act which the ICL leadership seeksSin vainSto cover up with lies.

Digging a Deeper Revisionist Hole on Germany

Seeking to provide a “sophisticated” veneer for a vulgar smear job, the WV article is titled “Pabloites of the Second Mobilization.”  So how does the WV polemic seek to show that we are “Pabloite­s”? First it quotes Michel Pablo, whose liquidationism destroyed Trots­ky’s Fourth Inter­national in 1951-53, saying that the Stalinists could “roughly outline” a “revolutionary orienta­tion.” Then it says the “Nordenites” noted that in East Europe and the USSR the Stalin­ists played “a counterrevolutionary role” and “prepared the way for coun­terrevolu­tion”! Pablo claimed that non-Trotskyist forces could substitute for a conscious Leninist vanguard party of the proletariat. The WV article denounces Norden for saying that in Germany in 1989-90 the key element that was lacking was the necessary revolutionary leadership of the working class. This is the exact opposite of Pabloism. Stalin is famous for the cynical statement that “paper will take anything written on it.” Actually, Stalin borrowed this from Kautsky, who was quoting the German saying “paper is patient.” The “new I.S.” must figure that the newsprint WV is printed on is patient indeed.

At the same time, the latest article digs in deeper with regard to the statement that the East German Stalin­ists of the SED led the counter­revolution in the DDR. Our bulletin pointed out that this claim, raised by Al Nelson at the end of the “fight” over Norden’s role in Germany, not only contradicted the facts but is an openly revision­ist negation of Trotsky’s understanding of the contradictory character of the Stalinist bureaucracy. It is akin to the line that “Stalinism is counter­revolutionary through and through.” In response, the WV article insists that “what the SED did” was “lead counterrevo­lution.”

This statement revises Leon Trotsky’s insistence that the Stalinist bureaucracy was not a class but an unstable caste w­hich survived by parasitically balancing atop proletarian property forms. Because we defend this ABC of Trotskyism, WV falsely attributes to us a Pabloite confidence in a so-called “progressive side” of the bureaucracy. Trotsky s­tressed that in the absence of a proletarian political revolution, the bureaucracy’s betrayals and sabotage would lead to its ouster by capitalist counter­revolution. Thus, in “The Class Nature of the Soviet State” (1933) he wrote:

“The further unhindered development of bureaucrat­ism must lead inevitably to the cessation of economic and cultural growth, to a terrible social crisis and to the downward plunge of the entire society. But this would imply not only the collapse of the proletarian dictatorship but also the end of bureaucratic domination. In place of the workers’ state would come not ‘social bureaucratic’ but capitalist relations.”

Six years later, in his struggle against Shachtman’s renunciation of Soviet defensism at the beginning of World War II, Trotsky noted: “Stalin testifies to nothing else but the incapacity of the bureaucracy to transform itself into a stable ruling class” (In Defense of Marxism).

Far from the bureaucracy triumphantly transforming itself into a capitalist ruling class, what we have seen is precisely the “inglorious downfall” of Stalinism and the fragmentation of the former ruling bureau­cracy, accompanying the counterrevolutionary destruction of the de­generat­ed/deformed workers states of East Europe and the USSR.

The WV article notes that in 1990 “Norden edited an article” on the Yeltsin/Gorbachev “500-Day Plan” which referred to this scheme as a “plan for restoration of capitalism.” None of the Stalinist leaders opposed capitalist restoration, and Gorbachev came out in favor of it. This is consistent with the statement of our bulletin that the Stalinists “prepared the way for counterrevolution” and that they “play a counterrevo­lutionary role S but this is a very far cry indeed from the Stalinist bureaucracy leading the counterrevolution.

In order to spearhead the restoration of capitalism, Boris Yeltsin ceased to be a representative of the Stalinist bureaucracy and became the direct instrument of George Bush. Those who denied this sided with Yeltsin against the Stalinist has-beens of the “Gang of Eight” in the August 1991 Moscow coup and counter­coup. As for the former DDR, most of its top bureaucrats were rewarded for their betrayals not by heading capitalist enterprises but occupying the dock in show trials staged by the victorious Fourth Reich.

Spartakist speaker at 3 January 1990 mobiolization against fascist desecration of Red Army memorial, Treptow Park, East Berlin. Stalinists paved the way for counterrevolution in the deformed workers states. But if they “led” the counterrevolution, what was ICL doing on the platform with them at Treptow? (Photo: Spartakist)

Let’s consider the practical implications of the ICL leaders’ new-found position. WV 651 prints a photo of the Spartakist speaker on the platform next to SED leaders at the 250,000-strong united-front Treptow demonstra­tion initiated by the ICL in January 1990. If the SED led the counterrevolu­tion, what was the ICL doing up on the platform with them? In fact this was the line of the groups who boycotted or denounced Trep­tow.

The Bolshevik Tendency raised the slogan “No to the Modrow Regime S Main Danger to the DDR!” The Workers League of David North ranted that Stalinism, not the imperialist bourgeoisie and its Social Democratic Trojan horse, was spearheading counter­revolution in the Soviet Union. In Latin America, Jorge Altamira and his Brazilian followers in Causa Operária raised a similar argument to alibi Yeltsin and claim capi­talist reunification in Germany would have “revolutionary” conse­quences. A whole range of anti-Soviet revision­ists argued that the Stalinist bureaucracy was the direct leader of counter­revolution in order to justify their call for dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and withdrawal of Soviet troops.

Against such arguments by Workers Power, the British section of the ICL wrote: “The fundamental point of departure between us and Workers Power over the events in East Germany is our understanding of the nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy as a contradictory caste.” Quoting Trotsky’s 1933 work “The Class Nature of the Soviet State” on how “there cannot even be talk of the bureaucracy playing an indepen­dent role,” the Spartacist article stressed that the Stalinist bureaucracy “simply capitulated before an imperialist onslaught,” saying: “In the face of mass protest against its rule, and increasingly under the pressure of West German imperialist re­vanch­ism, the bureaucracy completely disintegrated” (Workers Hammer, March-April 1990). Now the ICL adopts the WP-type position that rather than miserably capitu­lating to the onslaught, the Stalinists led it.

As with the new-found insistence that in no circumstances anywhere can any section of the Stalinist bureaucracy side with the workers under the impact of a proletarian political revolution, the stubborn defense of Nelson’s statement that the Stalin­ists led the counterrevolution points to an abandonment of the Trotskyist analysis on Stalinism defended tooth and nail by the ICL until now. Denouncing that analysis as “Stalino­philia,” the “new I.S.” is taking a page out of the book of all the anti-Spartacist revisionists the ICL fought for decades, and taking a big step in the direction of anti-Trots­kyist “Third Campis­m.” In fact, the accusations WV now hurls at us are identical to Workers Power’s charge against the international Sparta­cist tendency that “for the iSt, Stalinism has a ‘dual character’ it has a ‘bad’ counterrevolutionary side, and a ‘good’ progressive one” (see the Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacists bulletin of the Spartacist League/Britain, “Workers Power and the Irish Workers Group,” November 1990, page 19).

Smokescreen on “Factions”

When all else fails, the ICL leadership puts forward what is supposed to be the trump card of its argument: that we didn’t form a faction inside the organization. This is accompanied by the now-familiar method of “proving” things by assert­ing them over and over. Thus, the “polemic” quotes SL speaker Brule at the August 1 forum denouncing us because “by their own admission, they were pursuing underground undeclared factional activity inside the ICL.” We “admit­ted” nothing of the sort, because it isn’t true.

To hold that our “crime” was not to form a faction is truly bizarre. It is the kind of argu­ment put forward by people who either are grasping at straws or think their readers are a bunch of suck­ers. It is a smokescreen to hide the fact that the ICL leadership violated the party’s Leninist norms, traditions and stat­utes to carry out a bureaucratic purge that paved the way for an outright betrayal over Brazil. We ex­plained clearly and repeatedly that under the pressure of the rapidly esca­lating witch­hunt, culminating in our purge, there was no time to pursue the sort of wide-ranging discussions and analysis that, if a faction had indeed been called for, would have been required in order to form one. ­In refusing to be stam­peded into forming a factional grouping, we acted in a principled manner despite the relent­less barrage of maneuvers, organiza­tional repri­sals, character assassination and slanders against us.

The political logic of the expulsions was drawn out after the purge, when the ICL broke rela­tions with the Brazilian LQB and fled from the class battle in Brazil. This was a real betrayal, and a faction fight would certainly have been called for to replace the leadership and policy that produced it. After substantial discus­sions and study (notably on the “Germany fight” in the ICL, the nature of the period and perspectives), the expelled comrades have formed the Interna­tionalist Group to defend the Trotskyist program upheld for over three decades by the Sparta­cist tendency. Those who are serious about the fight to reforge the Fourth International should study the documents to see who is turning away from that program and who is fighting to push it forward.

Against the Turn to Centrism S Fight for Trotskyism!

Perhaps the most pathetic aspect of recent polemics is the recurrent claim by the ICL leadership that they were duped and deceived by the devious Nordenites Swhich in WV 651 takes the form of stating that “when the party took control of [Brazil] work away from Norden and Negrete, we discovered that LM and the ICL had been toys in Norden’s game of smoke and mirrors.” So now the ICL leadership says “Toys Я Us”?

What would it mean if the picture the I.S. presents of itself were really true? It claims that for months it was suckered by Norden over what was going on in Germany. As for Mexico, the ICL’s fastest growing section, while it had just been officially reported that the Grupo Esparta­quista de México func­tioned like “a good old-fash­ioned Spartacist League local,” it suddenly “came out” (to justify the purge of Socorro and Negrete from the GEM leadership) that the I.S. had supposedly been deceived there as well. And then there is the claim that the ICL leader­ship was duped for two years by the Declaration of Fraternal Rela­tions with Luta Metalúr­gica, as they wail: We were only a toy in their game.

If this were true, the ICL leadership would have condemned itself as so irresponsible, ill-informed and willfully blind that no serious revolutionist would follow it for a minute. “Dupes” don’t lead revolutions. But of course this claim to have been triply duped and deceived is laugh­able nonsense. The “new I.S.” is simply rewriting the party’s history in the service of a turn to the right.

The harm to the ICL is being done by the current leadership. If it wished to reverse some of that damage it would rescind the bureaucratic expulsions and the disloyal split with the LQB, retract its unprincipled slanders and open up a wide-ranging party discussion on the source of the recent disastrous course. Instead it digs in deeper. This is not just an episodic “blip.” The process is far from over, and many zigzags may lie ahead, but powerful political motivations and pressures are at work here, cutting against the fight for the Trotsky­ist program.

The ICL leadership screams that it was defrauded over Brazil because, it claims, a group of proletarian militants like the LQB couldn’t really agree with the Trotskyist program. This speaks to a real loss of confidence by the ICL leaders in the power and relevance of that program today. More broadly, Pabloite revision­ism was moti­vated in large part by a despairing loss of confidence in the capaci­ty of the proletariat, led by its indepen­dent revolutionary vanguard, to carry out revolutionary struggle. It is striking that the repeated theme of ICL polemics against us is that we supposedly underestimate just how bad the current period is and overestimate the potential for revolutionary strugglesSin other words, that we are cockeyed optimists out of tune with the times.

While the counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR was a major defeat for the world proletariat, revolutionists must reject the defeatist conclusions pushed by the ICL leadership, an echo of the bourgeois “death of communism” campaign. The “post-Soviet period” demands more than ever that we carry the Trotskyist program into the class struggle and reforge the world party of socialist revolution: the Fourth International.

Internationalist Group
13 September 1996

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com