No. 50  
No. 50,
Winter 2017

Table of Contents
Selected articles linked

Click on image to left for pdf version of complete issue.

Aftermath of Irma and María … and the Devastating Debt Crisis
Colonial Capitalist Disaster in Puerto Rico

Following the back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes that swept through the Antilles in September, the immediate toll of death and destruction in Puerto Rico has been magnified many times over by U.S. imperialist rule. Ever since the U.S. conquered the island in 1898 and made it a colony, it has treated the population as second-class citizens. The belated and limited relief efforts of the Trump administration showed criminal indifference to the suffering of the population. But it was Democratic president Bill Clinton who set off the deindustrialization of Puerto Rico in 1996 and it was Democrat Barack Obama who last year appointed a Financial Control Board to pay off his Wall Street backers while imposing vicious austerity on Puerto Rican workers. The fact that two and a half months after Maria, over half of Puerto Rico’s population still is without electrical power is a direct result of the privatization offensive aimed at busting the militant electrical workers union UTIER. And the only way the debt will be wiped out is by overthrowing capitalism. The Internationalist Group calls to drive out Yankee imperialism – independence for All Colonies! – and for a Puerto Rican workers state in a socialist federation of the Caribbean. Colonial Capitalist Disaster in Puerto Rico (11 December 2017) 

SL/ICL on Puerto Rico: Annexationist “Socialists”
In 1998, the Spartacist League and its International Communist League announced that they would no longer “advocate”
independence for Puerto Rico. The SL/ICL thus not only abandoned its longstanding principled position and that of the Trotskyist movement since its founding, it meant that it would not have been allowed into the Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky, which insisted that any party wishing to join would have to fight for independence for colonies, in word and deed. In 2010, the SL/ICL vociferously supported the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the guise of earthquake relief, before admitting that this was a social-imperialist betrayal. Now in 2017, these ex-Trotskyists have gone a step farther, announcing that they would support statehood, that is, an imperialist annexation that would threaten the existence of the Puerto Rican nation. SL/ICL on Puerto Rico: Annexationist “Socialists” (11 December 2017)
Defend North Korea, Defeat U.S. Imperialism!
U.S. Beats War Drums Over North Korea

The U.S. is giving off multiple indications that it is gearing up for military action against North Korea. This goes beyond the bellicose threats that the seriously unstable U.S. president has been bandying about, the “preemptive war” scenarios emanating from the fevered brains of neoconservative strategists, and “table-top war exercises” in the Pentagon. The escalating economic sanctions and military maneuvers are deliberate provocations designed to elicit a response from the embattled North Korean regime, that could then be used as the excuse to strike. The aim is “regime change” in Pyongyang, seizing or destroying its nuclear deterrent and restoring capitalism. The ultimate target is China. Contrary to the media hysteria, it is the predatory warmongers in Washington who are aiming at mass murder. Against the mounting imperialist assault, it is the duty of all class-conscious workers and revolutionaries to unconditionally defend North Korea – and all the bureaucratically deformed workers states. U.S. Beats War Drums Over North Korea (27 December 2017)
DSA, ISO, Left Voice...
On North Korea: “Socialists” Who Capitulate to Imperialism
What is the response of ostensible socialists when the most powerful ruling class in the world threatens to rain “fire and fury” on a nation where it already killed 3 million people, in the Korean War of 1950-53? The Internationalist Group has taken a clear stand in defense of the DPRK, a bureaucratically deformed workers state, against U.S. imperialism. The struggle to defeat the imperialist aggression of one’s “own” capitalist ruling class should be fundamental. Yet most of the U.S. “left” – including Democratic Socialists of America, the International Socialist Organization and Left Voice/Trotskyist “Fraction”  – has echoed imperialist liberals who portray the clash between the U.S. and North Korea as a face-off between two “unhinged despots.” The social-democratic heirs of anti-Trotskyist renegades Max Shachtman, Tony Cliff and Nahuel Moreno, respectively, all refuse to defend North Korea. Their supposed “Third Camp” is nothing but a stepping stone to outright support for imperialism. On North Korea: “Socialists” Who Capitulate to Imperialism (27 December 2017)

“Left Voice” of Social Democracy (27 December 2017)
The League for the Fourth International Holds First International Conference
The League for the Fourth International held its First International Conference this past November. The gathering brought together delegates from the five national sections of the LFI – Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico and the United States – as well as guests and visitors. The Conference provided the opportunity to report on and evaluate the activity of the LFI, to debate disputed issues and lay out perspectives to guide our future work. The main point of contention in the months leading up to the international meeting was over Catalonia, where the LFI calls for the right of self-determination but has not advocated and does not presently call for independence from the Spanish state. Overall, the priorities decided upon stress ensuring the regularity of our high-quality Leninist press, building up a party apparatus and above all cadre development. The possibility of increased repression was underscored, particularly in connection with imperialist war threats (notably against Korea). Overall, the First International Conference of the League for the Fourth International is an important milestone in the struggle to build anew a Fourth International that Trotsky would have recognized as his own. The League for the Fourth International Holds First International Conference (December 2017) 
Call for the First International Conference of the League for the Fourth International (December 2017)
The Struggle to Reforge a Genuinely Trotskyist Fourth International
Document of the First International Conference of the League for the Fourth International
The League for the Fourth International in our first two decades of existence successfully withstood the pressures of a temporarily triumphant bourgeoisie, holding fast to the Marxist program in an adverse (but contradictory) period. With our limited forces, we have established sections and are publishing a high-quality Trotskyist press in five countries and five languages. We have a layer of worker and immigrant cadres that is unique on the left, have achieved some important victories and waged international campaigns. Now we are facing new challenges, both of growth and in confronting the political consequences of the advanced state of putrefaction of the capitalist-imperialist system. And with the recent dramatic abandonment of Leninism on the national question and embrace of bourgeois nationalism by the ICL, along with an extensive purge of its leading cadre, the unique position of the LFI as the political continuity of Trotsky’s Fourth International is thrown into sharp relief.  The Struggle to Reforge a Genuinely Trotskyist Fourth International
(December 2017)
Correction (December 2017)
1917-2017: We Fight for New Bolshevik Revolutions
On 7 November 1917 (25 October according to the old style Julian calendar), the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky led the Soviets (Councils) of Workers and Soldiers Deputies in the insurrection that took power in the crumbling Russian empire and established the first workers state in history. The October Revolution became a beacon for the struggles of the oppressed the world over. Despite the subsequent degeneration of the Soviet Union under the Stalinist-nationalist bureaucracy and the imperialist-led counterrevolution that finally destroyed the USSR, proletarian revolutionaries still stand on the internationalist program of Krasnya Oktyabr, or Red October. A lot of groups on the left had some kind of event around this 100th anniversary who have no intention of carrying out that program. They all talk of the continued “relevance” of the October Revolution, but have a very different program for today. On November 5, the Internationalist Group held a celebration in New York City of the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. 1917-2017: We Fight for New Bolshevik Revolutions (5 November 2017)

Revolutionary Marxism vs. Sanders “Socialism” for Democrats
The ABCs of the DSA

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is proclaiming that it has surpassed 25,000 members. This would make it the largest self-styled socialist organization in the United States in decades. The sudden expansion of the DSA reflects the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself an “independent” and “democratic socialist” while being a long-time member of the Democratic Party caucus in Congress. Clearly, the DSA has picked up a significant number of disappointed Bernieites, who despaired when he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton and even more when Donald Trump was elected president. The Democratic Socialists of America is perhaps the most successful of various opportunist leftist groups seeking to cash in on the crisis of the mainstream bourgeois parties. In good part this is because this staid social-democratic organization is so embedded in the two-party capitalist political system of the United States that it has long been known as the Democratic (Party) Socialists of America.  Many of those joining Democratic Socialists of America are unfamiliar with what the organization really stands for and its history. The DSA's growth  does not signify a break from bourgeois liberalism, or even from the Democratic Party. Even less is it support for socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist system. With their talk of “democratic socialism,” the leaders of the DSA (including its “left” wing) are building a virulently anti-communist, social-democratic obstacle to revolution. The ABCs of the DSA (4 August 2017)

Toward a Multiracial Revolutionary Party
Imperialist Social Democracy vs. Black Liberation
As the civil rights movement picked up in the U.S. South in the 1960s, the images of Ku Klux Klan night riders and cops with German shepherd dogs fire-hosing black marchers, many of them children, revealed the ugly reality of U.S. “democracy.” This undercut Washington’s effort to counterpose itself to British colonialism in Africa and what the imperialists saw as the Soviet “Communist threat.” In stepped the virulently anti-Soviet Cold Warriors of U.S. social democracy, dominated by followers of one Max Shachtman. The Shachtmanites, grandfathers of today’s DSA, talked of “realigning” the Democratic Party as an alliance of organized labor and the Southern black population. In practice, they acted to keep civil rights activists subordinated to the Democratic Kennedy and Johnson administrations which rested on support from the Dixiecrats. As soldiers in this reactionary cause, Shachtman deputies Michael Harrington and Bayard Rustin sought to tame, sideline or drive out radical elements from the struggle. The Trotskyists, in contrast, fought for the program of revolutionary integrationism. Imperialist Social Democracy vs. Black Liberation (December 2017)

Capitalism Is Wrecking Mass Transit
NYC Transit Summer of Hell? What about Winter, Spring and Fall?

New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared it would be a “summer of hell” for commuters, due to closures to repair tracks at Penn Station. But New York City subway riders have been enduring hellish conditions year-round with derailments and infuriating delays as the antiquated equipment of the largest subway system in the world breaks down at an accelerating pace. The bosses of the Metropolitan Transit Authority spend billions borrowed from Wall Street banks to build elegant stations that raise real estate prices but do nothing to fix the disastrous state of the NYC mass transit system. The sorry state of New York subways has been exhaustively studied, the solutions are known. They would cost tens of billions of dollars that the capitalists will not fork over because their system is bankrupt. A mass transit system serving working people rather than capital could be achieved in relatively short order, but the transformation would require nothing less than a revolution – a workers government to replace the capitalist system with production for social need, not profit. NYC Transit Summer of Hell? What about Winter, Spring and Fall? (7 August 2017)

G20 Summit Police State Terror in Hamburg
On July 7 and 8, an army of police was brought in to “protect” the G20 international summit of potentates. The international press bought the story of rioters unexpectedly disturbing the “festival of democracy.” In fact, the whole event was an exercise in urban counter-insurgency. Police systematically attacked protesters in large groups or small, provoking outbreaks of rage. These summits are always accompanied by massive assaults on democratic rights. But this was not just business as usual. The “new world order” proclaimed by Washington upon the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union is coming apart. The U.S./NATO warmongers have gotten bogged down in one quagmire after another and provoked a huge refugee crisis. Meanwhile, they are mired in a worldwide economic depression, with tens of millions of unemployed. The imperialists need to have the police/military apparatus at the ready to crush internal unrest, which they know is coming. That is behind the police state terror in Hamburg, and the “paramilitarization” of police forces around the capitalist world. The state of emergency imposed on Hamburg was announced well in advance. It should have been answered with a mobilization of workers power against the terror-summit. Instead, we are treated to the sorry spectacle of a housebroken social-democratic left parroting the complaints of the gutter press and law-and-order politicians. G20 Summit Police State Terror in Hamburg (20 July 2017)

Despite Exemplary Militancy, Failure to Spread to the Industrial Proletariat Resulted in a Draw
Mexico Teachers Strike of 2016: The Struggle Continues

The Mexican teachers’ strike that lasted from May to September of 2016 was a truly epic class battle. The federal government sought to impose the “educational” counter-reform dictated by imperialist financial agencies to annihilate public education and destroy what it sees as the prime obstacle to these designs: the National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers (CNTE). On the other side, hundreds of thousands of teachers organized in the CNTE put up a determined resistance against brutal state repression that reached its peak in the 19 June 2016 massacre in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca. There was an enormous potential to extend the strike to the education sector nationally and to key sectors of the industrial proletariat. This was blocked, first by the fact that in most of the country, the education workers are regimented under the corporatist National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), a government organization dedicated to preventing independent workers unions. Secondly, the “independent” unions did nothing to join with the teachers’ struggle. And third, illusions in the bourgeois populist MORENA fostered by the CNTE leadership undercut the strike. In this epoch of imperialist decay, only the struggle for workers power, for a workers and peasants government, can achieve the most elementary democratic gains, as part of an international socialist revolution. Mexico Teachers Strike of 2016: The Struggle Continues (June 2017)

To contact the League for the Fourth International or its sections, send an e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com