“All talk to the effect that historical conditions have not yet 'ripened' for socialism is the product of ignorance or conscious deception. The objective prerequisites for proletarian revolution have not only 'ripened,' they have begun to get somewhat rotten.... The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”
–Leon Trotsky, The Transitional Program
Welcome! The Internationalist Group, section of the League for the Fourth International, fights for international socialist revolution, the conquest of power by the working class, led by its Leninist party, championing the cause of all the oppressed. After a decade and a half in which the ruling class trumpeted the supposed “death of communism,” the imperialists are bogged down in losing wars of colonial occupation in the Near East while a global economic crisis shakes the foundations of the capitalist order. With mass unemployment, poverty and hunger ravaging the planet, once again there is talk of socialism and revolution. But as in the past, the key question is that of forging a vanguard to lead the struggle of the workers and the oppressed.
Following the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union and the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East Europe in the early 1990s, what emerged was not a New World Order dominated by a single “superpower,” but a mounting disorder of imperialist rivalries and nationalist bloodletting. As decaying capitalism rips up social programs and workers’ gains worldwide, it has unleashed all-sided social reaction, including racist terror, attacks on immigrants and a rollback of women's rights. At the same time, there have been repeated outbreaks of sharp class struggle, from Korea to France to South America. The imperialist war on Iraq and Afghanistan has met with tenacious resistance in those countries, while in the advanced capitalist countries immigrant workers and youth have sparked important class battles.
We say that communism lives
in the struggles of the working class and the program of its vanguard.
dead is not communism, but Stalinism. Stalin's anti-Marxist dogma of “socialism in one country”
was the ideology of a conservative nationalist bureaucracy that grew
out of the
isolation of the Soviet workers state. Stalinism betrayed the October
Revolution, undermining its historic achievements and ultimately
way for capitalist counterrevolution under the relentless pressure of
imperialism. We stand on the fight of the Russian and International
leading to the founding of the Fourth International in 1938. Trotsky's
and program of permanent revolution summed up the experience of the
Russian revolutions and constitutes the program for new Octobers in the
countries of belated capitalist development.
The founding statement of the Internationalist Group is available on this site, as well as the LFI’s declaration, Reforge the Fourth International, in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Tagalog.
Internationally, the demise of the Soviet Union threw the socialist left into a profound crisis. Many militants dropped out, some tendencies simply closed up shop, others moved further to the right or ostentatiously distanced themselves from the class struggle. Stalinist parties became thoroughly social-democratic or even bourgeois. Of those currents that identified with Trotskyism, most today no longer even pretend to build Trotskyist parties and a Trotskyist Fourth International. Some talk of a (non-Trotskyist) “Fifth International,” others want to roll back history and reincarnate an all-inclusive First International. But one and all, they seek to bury themselves in “broad,” “anti-capitalist” or “anti-neoliberal” parties and popular-front coalitions with sections of the bourgeoisie.
For years many of these pseudo-Trotskyists sided with imperialism rather than defend the Soviet Union (notably over Poland and Afghanistan in the 1980s). At the decisive turning point in the USSR, they sided with Yeltsin’s counterrevolution. In recent years the United Secretariat (USec), which falsely claims to be the Fourth International, has participated as ministers in a bourgeois government (Brazil) and been part of a bourgeois coalition government (Italy) waging imperialist war on Afghanistan. Trotsky and Lenin have become no more than historical “references” to them, the Bolshevik program of world socialist revolution is no longer considered relevant. Such opportunist currents are incapable of providing revolutionary leadership.
From Venezuela with its left-talking nationalist-populist caudillo, to China facing deep inroads of capitalism within and imperialist pressure from without, to struggles against the ravages of the global capitalist economic crisis, the need for a Leninist-Trotskyist leadership is as acute as ever. Forging such a vanguard requires study of Marxism and the history of working-class struggle combined with intervention in the class struggle.
The League for the Fourth International (LFI) was formed in 1998 by Internationalist Group (IG), founded by longtime leading cadres expelled by the International Communist League (ICL – the Spartacist tendency) in the U.S. in 1996; expelled comrades from ICL sections in Mexico and France; and the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil (LQB). After three decades of upholding the banner of revolutionary Trotskyism, and intervening to fight counterrevolution in East Germany and the Soviet Union, the ICL became demoralized by the defeat and retreated into passive propagandism, blaming the backward consciousness of the working class while abandoning key Trotskyist positions. The LFI seeks to reforge an authentically Trotskyist Fourth International whose deeds match its words.
In the decade since the League for the Fourth International was formed, we have concretely fought for working-class opposition to popular-front coalitions with the bourgeoisie in Mexico and Brazil. The LFI has uniquely upheld the Leninist program of fighting on a proletarian program for the defeat of “one’s own” capitalist rulers in imperialist war. The national sections of the LFI have led a number of important struggles, including to oust the police from the unions in Brazil as well as the first-ever strike action (a state-wide work stoppage by teachers in Rio de Janeiro) demanding freedom for former Black Panther and world-renowned radical journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In Mexico, our section, the Grupo Internacionalista, sparked the formation of worker-student defense guards that contributed greatly to staving off army repression of the 1999-2000 National University strike, which despite the arrest of over 1,000 strikers (including several of our comrades) was able to defeat the attempt to do away with free public higher education. The GI also played an important role intervening from the capital in the convulsive 2006 struggle by teachers, workers and the indigenous population in the southern state of Oaxaca.
In the heart of the dominant global superpower, the Internationalist Group’s fight for working-class action to defeat U.S. imperialist war abroad and the capitalist war on working people, oppressed minorities and civil liberties “at home” has a particular importance. Within weeks of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the IG initiated a struggle against the “anti-immigrant war purge” at the City University of New York. And the IG’s years-long fight for workers strikes against the war contributed importantly to the May Day 2008 West Coast port shutdown to stop the war in Iraq and Afghanistan – the first-ever such action by U.S. workers against an imperialist war – overcoming the union bureaucracy’s efforts to prevent it, and then to deform it with social-patriotism.
While reformists and
centrists of all stripes blame defeats on the working class, claiming
undergone a qualitative regression in consciousness, the Trotskyists of
insist that the class struggle continues uninterrupted and the fight
revolutionary leadership remains key. (See our article on “In
the Transitional Program.”) As the combination of losing
and deep economic crisis puts sharp
battles on the order of
the day, the cohering of a reforged Fourth International will require
revolutionary regroupment, through a process of splits and
fusions, not by
episodic combinations and recombinations but in fighting to uphold and
the Trotskyist program. ■
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: email@example.com