No. 1, January-February 1997
Introducing The Internationalist
At a time when the mouthpieces of the capitalist ruling classes trumpet the supposed "death of communism," The Internationalist declares that the goals of the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, written 150 years ago, of the Communist International under the Bolshevik leaders V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, and of Trotskyís Fourth International are more valid and urgent than ever.
The counterrevolution that destroyed the Soviet Union represented a historic defeat for the world working class. Yet the bourgeois triumphalism following in its wake is already beginning to dissipate. What has emerged is not a New World Order dominated by a single "superpower," but a mounting disorder of nationalist bloodletting, imperialist rivalries and repeated outbreaks of sharp class struggles.
What is dead is not communism, but Stalinism, which is the antithesis of Leninís program of international socialist revolution. Indeed, events of the last few years have fully confirmed Trotskyís warnings: that a conservative nationalist bureaucracy, with Stalinís dogma of "building socialism in one country" as its ideology, had betrayed the revolution, undermining its historic achievements and ultimately preparing the way for counterrevolution if the workers did not rise up in time to oust the Stalinists, who had usurped political power from working class. That is what has now happened, as the bureaucratically degenerated and deformed workers states of the USSR and East Europe came crashing down under the combined weight of imperialist pressure and their own internal contradictions.
Meanwhile, the maximum program of the social democrats, those ever-loyal servants of imperialist capital, was to build a "welfare state in one country." Yet today the capitalists and their governments are ripping up even the most minimal social welfare measures, consigning more than 40 million workers worldwide to the dregs of unemployment and ruthlessly attempting to drive down wages in order to boost profits. The social democratsí pipedream was no less illusory than that of the Stalinists, for the fundamental loyalties of both were not to the revolutionary interests of the international working class but to maintaining capitalism. Both brands of reformism, in their various national variants, have led the workers and oppressed off to die in imperialist carnage and prepared one defeat after another.
Faced with the consequences of their class collaboration, the reformist left today lies prostrate, together with the centrists who languish in its shadow. We say to the most class-conscious workers and fighters for the oppressed that their fight must be for world socialist revolution, for the alternative that threatens the future of humanity is nuclear war and barbarism. What is needed to lead that struggle is centrally a revolutionary vanguard party of the working class, a party built on the model of the Russian Bolsheviks. The central goal of The Internationalist is to be an instrument in building such a party.
We base ourselves in this undertaking on the lessons of the past history of the communist movement. In his seminal work, "Where to Begin?" written in 1901, Lenin laid out the essential tasks of a revolutionary press organ:
"The role of a newspaper, however, is not limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.... With the aid of the newspaper, and through it, a permanent organisation will naturally take shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but in regular general work, and will train its members to follow political events carefully, appraise their significance and their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop effective means for the revolutionary party to influence those events."
Elaborating on this conception in his pamphlet What Is to Be Done? (1902), Lenin noted that "a basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organisation of comprehensive political exposure. In no way except by means of such exposures can the masses be trained in political consciousness and revolutionary activity." He added that for working-class consciousness to become genuine political consciousness, the workers must be trained to respond from a socialist standpoint "to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected."
The Internationalist will be a publication of Marxist analysis and commentary, of programmatic intervention and polemic. It will address those who seek a revolutionary perspective, including advanced workers, radical youth and intellectuals, and fighters for liberation of women and black, Hispanic and Asian minorities. It will be a journal of revolutionary Marxism for the reforging of the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution. From this standpoint it will direct its fire not only at the bourgeoisie and its reformist lieutenants, but also against centrist currents whose political zigzags only serve to sow confusion where clarity above all is needed.
The Internationalist is published by the Internationalist Group, formed by cadres expelled last year from the Spartacist League/U.S. and the Grupo Espartaquista de México, sections of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). The founding statement of the Internationalist Group appears on page 3 of this issue. A more detailed analysis of the ICL's recent course can be found in our bulletin, From a Drift Toward Abstentionism to Desertion from the Class Struggle. One of the documents in that collection, "The Post-Soviet Period: Bourgeois Offensive and Sharp Class Battles," is reprinted here beginning on page 24.
The expulsions from the Spartacist League were directly linked to the decision by the ICL leadership to flee from a key class battle in Brazil, led by the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil, to remove police from a union led by their supporters. The ICL first encouraged this campaign, then precipitously broke with the LQB and abandoned the scene at the height of the struggle. The struggle in the Brazilian steel center of Volta Redonda is described in an article translated from the LQB's newspaper, Vanguarda Operária, beginning on page 52. In addition, the joint statement of fraternal relations between the Internationalist Group and the LQB appears on page 23.
In order to cover its flight from and betrayal of the struggle in Brazil, the ICL leadership tried to throw up a smokescreen, claiming externally that they were fighting "trade-union opportunism" while internally saying that the situation posed "unacceptable risks to the vanguard" and that it was necessary to "pull our hands out of the boiling water" of the class struggle there. This was a typically centrist act, doing one thing and saying another, veering politically while covering it up with expulsions and lies. This is something new for the ICL, representing a tendency, which if not reversed, poses grave consequences for the organization which for more than three decades led the struggle for authentic Trotskyism internationally.
Many readers of the SL's newspaper, Workers Vanguard, found it hard to believe the account printed there of the sudden purge of its editor for the last 23 years and other longtime leading cadres. And for good reason: WV's account reads like a smear job, and is in fact a demonstrable lie. Trotsky commented an August 1929 letter to the editorial board of the newly launched weekly of the French Left Oppositionists, La Vérité (The Truth):
"The attitude of the revolutionary press toward its readers is the most important test of a political line. The reformists deliberately lie to their readers in order to preserve the bourgeois system. The centrists employ lies to cloak their vacillations, their uncertainty, their capitulation, and their adventures. they do not trust themselvesd and therefore do not trust their readers....
"The mass of workers does not consist of infants! It consists of people with the harsh experience of life. It does not tolerate nursemaids, whose strictness is as a rule proportional to their stupidity. The worker seeks not commands, but assistance in political orientation. For this it is first of all necessary to tell him what is. Not to distort, not to tendentiously select, not to embellish, not to sugarcoat, but honestly to say what is. The politics of communism can only gain from a truthful clarification of reality. Untruth is needed for salvaging false reputations, but not for the education of the masses. The workers need the truth as an instrument of revolutionary action."
It is in that spirit, that truth is always revolutionary, that we launch the publication of The Internationalist.n
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org