No. 5, April-May 1998

Declaration of the
League for the Fourth International

Reforge the Fourth International!

The following declaration, founding the League for the Fourth International, was adopted on 6 April 1998 by the Internationalist Group (U.S. and Mexico), the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil and the Groupe Internationaliste (formerly the Permanent Revolution Faction) in France.

In 1848, at the outbreak of revolution in France, Germany and much of the Old Continent, the Communist Manifesto proclaimed: “A spectre is haunting Europe–the spectre of Communism.” Seventy years later, amidst the carnage of the first imperialist world war, the Bolsheviks under V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky led a workers insurrection that took power in Russia. The workers soviets (councils) proclaimed the goal of “the establishment of a socialist organization of society and the victory of socialism in all countries.” Faced with the invasion of 14 imperialist armies, the Soviet power triumphed in the ensuing Civil War under the Red Army, organized by Leon Trotsky. The battle cry “Workers of All Countries, Unite!” was expressed in the formation of the Communist International. For workers in the capitalist West, for colonial slaves of imperialism, Red October showed the way to their own liberation. 

But the defeat of the wave of post-World War I revolutionary struggles in Europe, along with the isolation and poverty of the Soviet workers state, led to the rise of a conservative nationalist bureaucracy under Stalin, which usurped political power in 1923-24. Under the anti-Marxist watchword of building “socialism in one country,” this privileged layer sought a modus vivendi with imperialism. This meant sabotaging revolutions abroad in the name of a “popular front” with the bourgeoisie, while crushing workers democracy in the Soviet Union, murdering the authentic communists of the Left Opposition and the entire remaining Bolshevik leadership of 1917. As Leon Trotsky insisted, defense of the gains of October required proletarian political revolution to oust the parasitic bureaucracy, together with socialist revolution in the capitalist West. Otherwise, the Stalinists’ betrayals would prepare the way for capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union itself. 

Seven decades of relentless imperialist pressure and the inner contradictions of the brittle Stalinist regimes finally took their toll. During 1989-92, a wave of counterrevolution destroyed the bureaucratically degenerated Soviet workers state and the East European deformed workers states, restoring capitalist rule throughout the region. The imperialist bourgeoisie triumphantly proclaimed that this historic defeat for the world working class meant the “death of communism.” U.S. imperialism declared a “New World Order,” slaughtering more than 100,000 Iraqis in the Persian Gulf War. But the bourgeois triumphalism was short-lived. The capitalists’ drive to slash wages and social programs deemed unnecessary now that the “red menace” was gone was met with outbreaks of working-class resistance in France, Italy, South Korea and elsewhere. Peasant struggles broke out in Mexico and Brazil. In a series of countries, popular front regimes have been installed to impose brutal austerity where conservative governments have failed. 

Yet even after proclaiming communism dead, the bourgeoisie is still haunted by its spectre. Today, 150 years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto, a propaganda blitz has been launched in France with a Black Book on Communism, monstrously seeking to blame Lenin’s Bolsheviks for more deaths than Hitler’s Nazis. Their purpose is to criminalize the struggle for socialist revolution. But they will not succeed. What is dead is Stalinism, the very antithesis of Leninist internationalism, while capitalism keeps producing potential communists around the world with the brutality of its exploitation and oppression. What is required is the intervention of the revolutionary party of the international proletariat. The central task is to build that party. 

Today we announce the formation of the League for the Fourth International, through the fusion of the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil, the Internationalist Group in the United States and Mexico, and the Permanent Revolution Faction in France. As the PRF stated in its public declaration of 3 February 1998: “Communism Lives, In the Struggles of the Workers and Oppressed and in the Trotskyist Program–Reforge the Fourth International!” The task of the League for the Fourth International is to cohere the nucleus for reforging the world party of socialist revolution on the communist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. 

Historical experience over the last century has driven home the lesson that the question of revolutionary leadership is key to victory and defeat for the workers and oppressed. In August 1914, the main parties of the Second International, corroded by parliamentarism and the labor aristocracy, lined up behind “their own” bourgeoisies in World War I. The Social Democrats’ support for capitalism meant strangling the German Revolution of 1918-19, ordering the murder of Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, and joining the imperialists’ anti-Bolshevik crusade. As the social democracy acted as bloodhounds for capitalism, workers throughout Europe were drawn around the banners of the Third International. In one country after another, workers sought to carry out revolution, but were unable to win victory in the absence of tested communist parties. In its first four congresses (1919-1922), the Communist International under Lenin and Trotsky codified the lessons of the Russian Revolution and international workers struggles in the imperialist epoch, leaving an indispensable legacy for revolutionaries which we stand on today. But the growing bureaucratization of the Soviet state had devastating effects on the International. 

In struggling against Stalin’s policy of subordinating the Chinese proletariat to the bourgeois nationalists, which led to the bloody defeat of the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27, Trotsky generalized the theory and program of permanent revolution. Originally developed on the eve of the 1905 Revolution in Russia, and confirmed by the October Revolution of 1917, this holds that in countries of belated capitalist development, the unresolved tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution can be fulfilled only under the dictatorship of the proletariat, supported by the peasantry, through the socialist revolution which must be extended to the centers of world capitalism. 

After ten years of struggle against the degeneration of the Comintern, Leon Trotsky and the expelled Left Opposition declared the need for a new revolutionary International when the Stalinists and Social Democrats allowed Hitler to march into power in 1933. In the face of this historic catastrophe, two years later the Stalinized Comintern definitively went over to reformism, openly embracing the bourgeoisie in the form of the “People’s Front.” In the guise of fighting fascism, it defended the interests of finance capital. 

When the proletariat rose in revolutionary struggle in Spain and in mass strikes in France, Stalinists and social democrats joined hands to strangle them with the noose of the popular front, opening the road to bloody right-wing dictatorships. Through such class-collaborationist alliances, the Stalinists sabotaged revolutionary opportunities in India, Italy, Greece and France during and after World War II. Over the following decades, the popular front brought terrible defeats for the workers and oppressed: in Brazil in 1964, Indonesia in 1965, Chile in 1973 and elsewhere. 

In response to the passing of the Comintern into the camp of the bourgeoisie, the authentic Bolshevik-Leninists, led by Trotsky, founded the Fourth International in 1938. The founding program of the Fourth International (the Transitional Program) stated: “‘People’s Fronts’ on the one hand–fascism on the other; these are the last political resources of imperialism in the struggle against the proletarian revolution.” 

As the second imperialist world war approached, the Fourth International stood at its post, fighting for unconditional defense of the USSR against imperialist attack and for the revolutionary overthrow by the proletariat of the Stalinist bureaucracy that was a mortal danger to the workers state. The Trotskyists defended the remaining gains of October as part of their fight for world socialist revolution, saying “those who are incapable of defending conquests already gained can never fight for new ones.” 

Following World War II, in which the Trotskyists’ ranks and leadership in Europe were decimated by Nazi and Stalinist repression, many supporters of the Fourth International were affected by the growth of the Stalinist parties and disoriented by the appearance of bureaucratically deformed workers states in East Europe and China. As the anti-Soviet Cold War escalated, a revisionist current appeared as FI secretary Michel Pablo argued that Stalinism, under pressure from imperialism, could approximate revolutionary policies. Pabloist liquidationism, which denied the need for a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard, led to the destruction of the Fourth International in 1951-53. 

The fight against revisionism has been a constant in the Marxist movement, as the pressures of bourgeois society weigh on the vanguard. Despairing of the revolutionary capacity of the proletariat, the Pabloists initially chased after Tito and the European CPs in the late 1940s and ’50s. Under Ernest Mandel, these opportunists who falsely claimed to be Trotskyists constantly shifted their enthusiasms, from Castro and Mao in the ’60s to the Sandinistas, Polish Solidarnosc and Cold War Social Democracy in the ’80s. Due to the ravages caused by Pabloism, Trotskyists today must fight to reforge the Fourth International as a Leninist, democratic-centralist world party of socialist revolution. 

The League for the Fourth International stands with Trotsky and James P. Cannon, the founder of U.S. Trotskyism, in the fight against the petty-bourgeois opposition led by Shachtman which abandoned unconditional military defense of the USSR in 1939-40; and with the fight against Pabloist revisionism that was waged (albeit belatedly and partially) in the 1950s. As Cannon in the fight against Pabloism in 1953: 

    “If our break with Pabloism–as we see it now clearly–if it boils down to one point and is concentrated in one point, that is it: the question of the party.... The essence of Pabloist revisionism is the overthrow of that part of Trotskyism which is today its most vital part–the conception of the crisis of mankind as the crisis of the leadership of the labor movement summed up in the question of the party.” 
    –”Factional Struggle and Party Leadership” (November 1953) 
A revolutionary party must be built in the best tradition of Cannonism, which was continued by the Revolutionary Tendency of the SWP in the 1960s, as it opposed the SWP’s embrace of Castroism, the existing liberal and nationalist black leadership, and the SWP’s reunification with Pablo/Mandel. The RT extended Marxism with its analysis of the Cuban deformed workers state. The RT, and then the Spartacist League and international Spartacist tendency (iSt), which in 1989 became the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), represented the political continuity of authentic Trotskyism. 

Of key importance in the U.S. is the perspective of revolutionary integrationism–for black liberation through socialist revolution–put forward by Richard Fraser and further developed by the Spartacist tendency. This methodology is also crucial in Brazil.  The Spartacist tendency uniquely fought for proletarian opposition against all forms of class-collaborationist popular fronts. This brought it into sharp conflict with the centrists who “peddle their wares in the shadow of the Popular Front” (as Trotsky put it in the ’30s), from Sri Lanka to Chile, France and Portugal in the ’70s, as well as in the Vietnam “anti-war” movement in the U.S., and in El Salvador and Mexico in the ’80s and ’90s. 

As the second Cold War heated up, the iSt proclaimed “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!” while the centrists joined the anti-Soviet “human rights” crusade, the ideological cover for imperialist financing of armies of Islamic reactionaries along the southern border of the USSR. When pseudo-Trotskyists proclaimed their “solidarity with Solidarity” (and thus with the anti-Communist reactionaries Reagan, Thatcher and Wojtyla), the Spartacists declared: “Stop Solidarnosc Counterrevolution!”As the Stalinist regimes crumbled, the ICL stood at its post, fighting for proletarian political revolution in defending the bureaucratically degenerated/deformed workers states against capitalist restoration. This included mobilizing all its resources to intervene with the Trotskyist program in East Germany (DDR), and its work in the Soviet Union. 

Yet a process of centrist degeneration has taken place in the International Communist League in the period since the East European counterrevolutions of 1989-92. Drawing defeatist conclusions from this world-historic defeat for the international proletariat, the ICL has increasingly adopted an abstentionist policy of withdrawal from the class struggle. This led to a betrayal in Brazil in 1996. Seeking to justify such opportunism, the ICL has resorted to a series of revisions of fundamental elements of the Trotskyist program. The three organizations that have joined together in forming the League for the Fourth International have a common experience in fighting against this process of degeneration of the ICL. 


In its founding statement (August 1996), the Internationalist Group declared, “The central thesis of the 1938 Transitional program of the FI fully retains its validity today: ‘The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.... The crisis of the proletarian leadership, having become the crisis in mankind’s culture, can be resolved only by the Fourth International’.” This fundamental conception was opposed by Pablo and is today rejected by a host of pseudo-Trotskyists, including the ICL, which had previously led the fight for authentic Trotskyism against Pabloism. 

Today, the ICL considers the statement of the Fourth International which the IG upheld as fully valid today (and which was repeatedly endorsed by the ICL in the past) to be “insufficient” and thus no longer valid, because of what it terms a “qualitative,” “deep” or “historical retrogression in the political consciousness of the workers movement and the left internationally.” The meaning of this revisionist thesis is that the crisis is no longer of the leadership but of the working class itself. As Trotsky emphasized in “The Lessons of October” (1924): “All shades of opportunism are, in the last analysis, reducible to an incorrect evaluation of the revolutionary forces and potential of the proletariat.” 

The Internationalist Group/Grupo Internacionalista was formed by longtime leading cadres of the International Communist League from the Spartacist League/U.S. and the Grupo Espartaquista de México. They had been purged a few months earlier as the ICL prepared to break relations with the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil and to flee from a key class battle for the independence of the workers movement from the bourgeois state. In October 1996, young comrades were expelled from the GEM after denouncing the earlier expulsions and the ICL leadership’s betrayal in Brazil. 

The ICL leadership’s desertion from the fight to oust the cops from the unions in Brazil, which it had earlier encouraged, was a sharp turn to the right for the organization which for more than three decades represented the continuity of revolutionary Trotskyism. The International Group’s founding statement declared: 

    “The present leadership of the ICL has shown...that it is incapable of pursuing a coherent revolutionary policy, much less leading a proletarian revolution..... 
    “The IG fights to cohere the nucleus of the revolutionary party which must be built as the leadership of the working class. This must be a party of professional revolutionaries, as defined by Lenin in What Is To Be Done? which seeks to fuse together the most advanced elements of the working class with declassed intellectuals..... 
    “The IG must combine theoretical struggle to defend and extend the Marxist program with fighting to provide leadership commensurate with its real capacities, seeking to ‘help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demands and the socialist program of the revolution’ (Transitional Program).”
    The Internationalist No. 1, January-February 1997 
The Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil was founded in April 1996 by the Luta Metalúrgica group. LM was formed in the late 1980s by militants who had played a leading role in the convulsive mass illegal steel workers strikes against the Brazilian military dictatorship. Purged by the reformist Lula leadership of the Workers Party (PT) because of their opposition to the Frente Brasil Popular, they were recruited to the centrist Causa Operária group, believing that C.O. represented a Trotskyist opposition to the popular front. Inside C.O., LM opposed the leadership’s refusal to fight against the oppression of blacks and women. 

In 1994, LM broke with Causa Operária over C.O.’s call to vote for Lula, the presidential candidate of the Frente Brasil Popular, and pursued discussions with the ICL. This led to the establishment of fraternal relations on the basis of key programmatic points, including proletarian opposition to voting for any candidate of any popular front; upholding the Trotskyist program on the deformed and degenerated workers states; that the Leninist vanguard party of the proletariat must be a “tribune of the people,” mobilizing the working class against the oppression of blacks and women, which is a strategic part of the program of permanent revolution in Brazil; and the struggle to reforge the Fourth International. A 1994 LM pamphlet, “For a Revolutionary Regroupment,” declared: 

    “The working class can be united in revolutionary struggle only if there is an active fight against special oppression and against the bourgeois prejudices that divide the workers and poison their consciousness. The working class (whites, blacks, mulattoes, of all ethnic groups) must be mobilized in action against the massacres of street children and the assassination of activists, for workers self-defense, against the oppression of homosexuals and the massacre of Indians.” 
In the course of the sharp struggle it waged in 1996 over the central question of the state, Luta Metalúrgica changed its name to the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil. The article presenting the first issue of the LQB’s newspaper, Vanguarda Operária, began: “Referring to the tasks of the proletarian revolution Trotsky wrote, “For a successful solution of all these tasks, three conditions are required: a party; once more a party; again a party!’” The LQB has carried out a series of steps in its transformation into the nucleus of such a party, including publication of a paper, extension to a major metropolitan center and undertaking recruitment of youth. 

In response to the campaign to remove cops from the Municipal Workers Union of the steel city of Volta Redonda, the police, courts and Popular Front city government launched heavy attacks on LQB. This was an important test. While the ICL fled from the battle, alleging “unacceptable risks to the vanguard,” the LQB courageously stood and fought. As the workers voted the ouster of the cops, the courts were brought in to install pro-police puppets against the union ranks. The repression against the Trotskyist workers in Brazil continues as the courts have sought to suppress their propaganda–ordering the “search and seizure” of a leaflet by the Class-Struggle Caucus (CLC), initiated by the LQB–and launched criminal prosecution against them. 

For over a year and a half, the ICL leadership has waged a campaign of smears and slanders against the LQB and IG, picking up and broadcasting one lie after another from the spokesmen for the steel bosses, pro-cop provocateurs and the popular front, who have instigated the state persecution of the Brazilian Trotskyists. The IG/LQB have refuted every one of these lying distortions and outright fabrications with documented proof. At the same time, we have pointed to the abstentionist political line and centrist course that are behind the ICL leaders’ recourse to bureaucratic methods of lies and expulsions. 

Inside the ICL, the zigzag path followed by the International Secretariat (I.S.) has produced a wide-ranging crisis in the organization. A number of leaders of national sections have quit in demoralization while the ICL leadership has characterized most of its sections as centrist or afflicted by centrism. Yet some did not acquiesce in the destructive course of the leadership. Seeing how the I.S. has falsified its own actions and history in fights over Germany, Mexico and Brazil, and as a result of their own experience with this increasingly erratic leadership, leading comrades in the Ligue Trotskyste de France launched an opposition against the centrist policies of the I.S. 

After fighting against the abandonment by the ICL leadership of the “Iskra” perspective of cohering a Trotskyist nucleus in exile from North African militants, and against the I.S.’s refusal to put out propaganda with a transitional program for struggle in the truckers strike, the first major struggle faced by the popular-front government in France, in mid-December 1997, these comrades declared the Permanent Revolution Faction. The PRF “Declaration of Faction” dissected the crisis of the ICL, analyzing its origins and stating political solidarity with the IG. 

In this and other documents, the PRF refuted the ICL’s claim that the Stalinists had led the capitalist annexation of the East German deformed workers state (and not the imperialist bourgeoisie along with its Social Democratic labor lieutenants, as the ICL said at the time); the ICL’s sudden revelation (contradicting its policy for the last decade) that there was supposedly no Cárdenas popular front in Mexico, at the very moment Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was being elected governor of Mexico City; and the ICL’s insistence that for permanent revolution to apply there had to be “feudal remnants” in Mexico and Latin America. It pointed out that over Brazil and North Africa, the ICL was abandoning the struggle to forge communist nuclei in the semi-colonial countries–a denial of the permanent revolution and a classic symptom of centrist degeneration in the direction of left social democracy. 

The ICL leadership answered with vile attempts at intimidation and chauvinist baits, while refusing to respond to the political arguments of the minority–except for one. The ICL’s year-long attempt to accuse the IG of abandoning permanent revolution so blatantly falsified Trotsky’s position that the leadership had to abandon its claim (borrowed from the Stalinists) that “semi-feudal” social conditions prevailed in the Latin American countryside. In order to shore up its own membership, the ICL escalated its dirty smear campaign against the Brazilian comrades to the point of seeking to sabotage international defense efforts as these largely black Trotskyist workers face renewed state repression. 

When all this failed to have the desired effect, the Permanent Revolution Faction was summarily expelled just days before the third international conference of the ICL. As the ICL leadership sought to ensure internal tranquility by purging the revolutionaries and walling itself off from the class struggle, the PRF issued a defiant statement (“Communism Lives,” 3 February 1998) declaring: 

    “It is through this struggle for the revolutionary program that communists bring to the most advanced elements of the working class and oppressed the consciousness of their historic tasks, to forge a Trotskyist party tested in battle, and not through passive ‘commentaryism’ and abstract propaganda, which is more and more the refrain of the leadership of the ICL.” 
    “Coming one after another, these revisions and ‘correctives’–on permanent revolution, on the nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy, on the popular front–could not hold together without giving them an elaborated revisionist foundation. Thus all the recent incantations in the ICL on the effects of this period supposedly marked by an ‘historical retrogression in the political consciousness of the working class’ went hand-in-hand with liquidating and putting into doubt the role of the party and revolutionary leadership.”


A stunning fact in the degeneration of the International Communist League has been how, as it has gone from Trotskyism to left-centrism, it has begun to repeat many of the arguments long used by various centrist and even reformist pretenders to Trotskyism, some of the same arguments that the ICL polemicized against in the past. 

In constituting the League for the Fourth International, we reject the claims of all the opportunist groupings pretending to be the Fourth International, or to represent the continuity of Trotskyism, while they betray every point of the revolutionary Marxist and Leninist program Trotsky fought for. 

The largest of these outfits is the United Secretariat (USec) of the late Ernest Mandel, which brought together the European Pabloists with the American SWP in 1963 on the program of supporting petty-bourgeois guerrillas in Cuba and Algeria. At every crucial juncture, the USec has fractured along its multiple fault lines. Typically having multiple groups in the same country, in Portugal in 1975-76 the USec’s competing sections found themselves literally on the opposite sides of the barricades, one tailing left-talking military officers, the other tailing the CIA-funded social democrats. 

Having been deeply ensconced in Cold War social democracy in the 1980s, the mask became the face as the USec’s largest components are now social-democratic reformists. Carrying out the tailist politics of Pabloism to their liquidationist conclusion, the USec is preparing to liquidate itself. Its largest remaining section, the French LCR, is trying to remove both “communist” and “revolutionary” from its name, in a desperate drive to join the “plural majority” popular-front government of social democrat Jospin.

Several of the larger groupings claiming to be Trotskyist have adopted names suggesting a return to the International Workingmen’s Association of 1864-1871 (the First International). This is the case of the “Liaison Committee for a Workers International” of Pierre Lambert’s French PT (Workers Party); the “Committee for a Workers International,” led by Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party in Britain (formerly the Militant Labour tendency); and the Latin America-based International Workers League of the followers of the late Nahuel Moreno. While assuming the appearance of an amorphous parody of the First International, they are really trying to “overcome the division of the workers movement” that resulted from the founding of the Third (Communist) International by returning to the politics of the social-democratic Second International. 

These groups all have in common the view that with the collapse of the Soviet Stalinist regime, Trotskyism has been superseded. This is shared by the national-reformist Lutte Ouvrière group in France, which is usually identified in the press as Trotskyist although it makes no pretense of fighting for a Trotskyist International and its real politics are parliamentary cretinism overlaid with social-democratic workerism. The British Workers Power and its satellites grouped in the League for a Revolutionary Communist International have recently returned to their “state capitalist” roots: after a decade and a half of pretending to uphold the Trotskyist characterization of deformed workers states, WP has now declared that the bourgeois state was never replaced in East Europe. 

Behind the profusion of names and the sometimes bizarre theoretical elaborations of these outfits, the stark fact is that all of them proclaimed “solidarity with Solidarity” in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and the anti-Communist pope in the Vatican were financing and advising these counterrevolutionary Polish nationalists. Almost all of them supported Washington’s man in the Russian White House, Boris Yeltsin, in his counterrevolutionary countercoup in August 1991. Some of them, like Workers Power, even called on Margaret Thatcher’s government of British imperialism to arm anti-Soviet fascistic nationalists in the Baltics. None of them fought against capitalist reunification of Germany in 1989-90. 

Today, the United Secretariat pretends capitalism hasn’t been restored in the Soviet Union and East Europe to hide the fact that they hailed Yeltsin. Workers Power pretends the capitalist state was never abolished in East Europe, to hide the fact that they sided with Solidarnosc. It is grotesque for any of these poseurs to make the slightest pretense of representing the politics of Trotsky, who wrote that in the face of counterrevolution, “Not the slightest taint of guilt must fall upon the revolutionary internationalists. In the hour of mortal danger, they must remain on the last barricade.” These anti-communist fakers were on the first barricade of the counterrevolution.

The lessons of the struggle against counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and East Europe are crucial in the fight to defend the remaining deformed workers states (China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam) and for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracies which are opening the way for and feeding the capitalists’ drive for counterrevolution. In the face of the looming threat of capitalist restoration, the construction of Trotskyist parties is indispensable in order to mobilize the toilers, particularly the powerful Chinese proletariat, for this program and spread socialist revolution to the capitalist countries. 

For many years, groups derived from the “International Committee” of Gerry Healy as well as a number of other tendencies claimed to be “reconstructing” the Fourth International. By this they meant forming opportunist blocs with each other that fell apart at the first test in the class struggle, if not before. Following the implosion of Healy’s fraudulent and anti-Soviet IC in 1985, amid revelations of lavish funding from Near Eastern bourgeois rulers, its various remnants have almost all disappeared. Cliff Slaughter’s British WRP closed up shop in 1996, calling for a new socialist party that would be neither Marxist nor Leninist. David North’s “Socialist Equality Party” has now stopped publishing its paper, and its views are now only propagated on the Internet, to those who have access to a computer. 

There are a number of groups on the centrist carousel, most of whom have at one time or another been in an international tendency with each of the others. The Argentine Partido Obrero of Jorge Altamira is currently on a campaign for the “immediate refounding of the Fourth International” by a range of feuding opportunist groups. They are joined by the “International Trotskyist Opposition” (ITO), whose mainstay, the Italian Proposta group, is buried deep in Rifondazione Comunista. One of this centrist alliance’s supposed criteria is opposition to popular fronts, yet all of its components (including PO and its Brazilian ally, Causa Operária) have voted for popular fronts for years. Meanwhile, they are appealing to the Morenoites, who in Brazil were a component of Lula’s Frente Brasil Popular (which also includes the Mandelites and Lambertistes who are an organic part of the bureaucracy of the social-democratic PT). 

Various smaller centrist groupings sometimes adopt more radical rhetoric, while their actual practice is distinctly rightist. Thus the national-centrists grouped around Guillermo Lora’s Bolivian POR raise the slogan of “Proletarian Revolution and Dictatorship.” Yet Lora’s real policy is the Menshevik program of an “Anti-Imperialist United Front” with sections of the bourgeoisie, which led to the popular front with General Juan José Torres that doomed workers resistance to the 1971 coup of General Banzer. An offshoot of the Altamira tendency, the “CBCI” (Bolshevik Current for the Fourth International) made up of the Argentine PBCI and the Brazilian LBI, are advisors to the pro-police clique used by the bourgeois state against the Trotskyist LQB in Volta Redonda. Now this lash-up seems to be splitting apart at the seams. 

In the early 1980s, a layer of capitulators quit the Spartacist tendency unwilling to stand up to the anti-Soviet tide. A number of these came together in what adopted the singularly inappropriate name of the “Bolshevik Tendency.” The latter-day Mensheviks of the BT quaked at the thought of saying “Hail Red Army” in Afghanistan or accepting responsibility for the consequences of calling to “Stop Solidarnosc Counterrevolution” in Poland. From the beginning, the BT reflected the outlook of the labor bureaucracy, culminating in their defense of a BT spokesman’s crossing picket lines. This is a violation of the most fundamental principles of labor solidarity. 

Leon Trotsky’s Fourth International fought for the program of the early Communist International, the young Soviet Republic and the October Revolution–the highest achievements of the revolutionary workers movement to date. Authentic Trotskyism has nothing to do with the ludicrous and sometimes sinister antics of the opportunist imposters. They are, one and all, continuators of the heritage of Pabloism, of searching for non-proletarian leaderships because of their own despair in the revolutionary capacity of the international working class. Unlike these frauds, the International Communist League was on the last barricades in the fight against counterrevolution. But after the defeat it has been infected with the defeatism that pervades this milieu. While its programmatic expression is still different from the open opportunists, they all liquidate the Leninist party as an active factor in the class struggle. 

We fight to forge a Fourth International that Trotsky would have recognized as his own. 

The League for the Fourth International is a tendency in formation. It will draw to its ranks those who seek to defend and extend the program of authentic Trotskyism, and to apply it in the struggle of the working class and the oppressed. The reforging of the Fourth International requires defeating Pabloism and all other currents which betray the revolutionary Trotskyist program. An important component of this fight, and of the struggle to overcome the disparity between the tasks we face and our limited forces, will be the tactic of revolutionary regroupment on the program of Leninist internationalism. We foresee a series of splits from revisionist organizations and fusions with those genuinely seeking to be communists, in building the vanguard party. 

As the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil wrote in its letter responding to the ICL’s ignominious breaking of relations: we stand for the consistency of words and deeds. Despite our small numbers, our strength is to be found in the Marxist revolutionary tradition we fight for. The LFI stands on the heritage of the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels; on Lenin’s fight to build the Bolshevik vanguard party and his synthesis of the Marxist position on the state in The State and Revolution, which provided the programmatic armament for the Russian October Revolution of 1917. 

Our program is based on the legacy of the first four congresses of the Communist International, under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, and of the fight of the Russian and International Left Opposition leading to the founding of the Fourth International in 1938 on the basis of the Transitional Program. We trace our origins to the Revolutionary Tendency of the SWP in the U.S., standing on its documents as well as the 1966 Declaration of Principles of the Spartacist League, the fundamental statements of the SL and international Spartacist tendency, and of the International Communist League through its second international conference in 1992 and the fight for Trotskyism against a nationalist/pro-Stalinist faction in the ICL in 1994. 

The League for the Fourth International embraces the programmatic statement, “The Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil: Who We Are and What We Want” (Vanguarda Operária No. 1, July-September 1996) and the programmatic content of the 1994 “Declaration of Fraternal Relations” between LM and the ICL, which the latter has now repudiated; the document of the comrades expelled from the Spartacist League, “From a Drift Toward Abstentionism to Desertion from the Class Struggle” (July 1996); the founding statement of the Internationalist Group and the IG/LQB “Joint Statement of Commitment to Fight to Reforge the Fourth International” (The Internationalist No. 1, January-February 1997). We endorse as well the “Declaration of Faction” and other documents of the Permanent Revolution Faction. 

As the PRF wrote in its 3 February 1998 statement upon its expulsion by the ICL: “Despite the triumphalist cries of the world bourgeoisie about the so-called ‘death of communism,’ what is dead is Stalinism, that negation and nationalist perversion of communism–which is international in its essence. Communism lives–it lives in the uninterrupted class struggle of the working class and the oppressed; it lives in the program of Lenin, Trotsky and Cannon which the Spartacist tendency defended and which it has begun to abandon and renounce; it lives in the struggles and the program upheld by the IG, the LQB and the PRF and in the fusion of our organizations which will prepare the ground for the Trotskyist world party of socialist revolution. Forward to reforge the Fourth International! 

    Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil

    Groupe Internationaliste (France)
    (ex-Fraction Révolution Permanente)

    Internationalist Group/Grupo Internacionalista 
6 April 1998
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com