Revolutionary Internationalist Youth at SL Forum
Revolutionary Internationalist Youth and IG at 25 July 2020 protest in New York City against federal occupation and repression against anti-racist protesters in Portland, Oregon.
On 4 November 2023, the Spartacist League/U.S. held a forum in New York City based on documents of a recent conference of the International Communist League published in the ICL’s journal Spartacist No. 68 (September 2023). Among supporters of the League for the Fourth International who attended were activists from the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth (youth section of the Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the LFI), whose comments in the discussion period are printed in the the article below, which was distributed as a Revolution leaflet at the January 13 ICL-LFI debate.
Hello, my name is Grace. I am a member of the Internationalist Clubs at CUNY [the City University of New York] and the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth.
I started getting involved in revolutionary politics in 2020, during the mass protests against the racist police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and I have been reading your material since that time.
Having read the most recent literature your group has come out with, I have a few questions. According to the new Spartacist, your organization got everything wrong for the past three decades. But now your organization claims to be holding the mantle of Trotskyism. In Spartacist 68 you say that the fights against the people who were expelled [in 1996] and formed the Internationalist Group were unprincipled. You say this and I want to know exactly why they were unprincipled. You also say that your break with Luta Metalúrgica in Brazil was unprincipled. I would like to know why both things were unprincipled.
Exactly what unprincipled actions were taken? Who carried out these actions? Why did this happen? What was going on in the real world, in the real class struggle, and what was going on in your organization? When you state in your journal that the fights were unprincipled, you offer no explanation as to why.
Having grown up Catholic, I recall having to go to confession. I would state my sins and then say five Hail Mary’s and be forgiven. I can’t help thinking that this “confession” about the unprincipled fights is similar.
It also reminds me of what you did regarding Haiti in 2010. When your organization supported the U.S./UN intervention in Haiti, you repeatedly criticized the IG for denouncing that.1 Then when you said you were wrong, you didn’t explain how or why that happened. The ICL admitted that this was a betrayal, but to this day provides no real explanation as to how such a betrayal occurred.
Yet, you continued to claim that you were a genuinely revolutionary party that would lead the working class. In the IG’s open letter to the ICL (May 2010),2 they asked how and why that betrayal came about, and what this support for U.S. imperialism in Haiti meant for the ICL’s claims to be the embodiment of revolutionary continuity. They stated that in any genuinely revolutionary party, a betrayal of this magnitude would result in a faction fight or a split.
Now, by your own account, your organization was wrong on many fundamental questions up until five weeks ago. You denounce yourselves repeatedly, and state that the expulsions of 1996 were unprincipled. In correspondence, the LFI asked you for specifics about this and received none. As a young person who is serious about revolutionary politics, I would like an answer to these questions. I think that anyone – inside or outside your organization – who is serious about revolutionary politics and wants to learn from these events deserves answers and an explanation.
I’ll close with one final question: Do you think that you are the first genuine Trotskyists since Trotsky?
* * *
My name is Amalia, I’m a member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth. I first got involved with the CUNY Internationalist Clubs in the Fall of 2021.
I want to talk about the Spartacist League’s August 28 “Open All Police Archives” leaflet.3 To begin with, everyone knows that the Spartacist League by all measures completely disappeared in 2020, during the largest protest movement this country has ever seen. You started publishing Workers Vanguard again in March 2023. We read it carefully and try to figure out what you’re trying to say.
Everyone here will also recall that when your organization finally showed its face after this complete desertion, it relentlessly accused the Internationalist Group of “marching under the banner of liberalism” for even participating in these protests – for seeking to be the revolutionary pole putting forward a real program for black liberation. You criticized both your own organization and ours for supposedly seeking to be a left counsel for Black Lives Matter. What is your police archives leaflet actually calling for? First, it is subtitled “A Proposal to Rebuild the Movement.” Exactly what movement are you talking about?
This leaflet is a blatant call for class collaboration. It calls to “unite the broadest possible forces” to “bring pressure down on all the liberal and progressive politicians who claim to stand for workers and for black rights.” This is the type of language that popular-frontist groups use over and over. I’m not sure if it sounds more like the DSA or the PSL [Party for Socialism and Liberation] or Socialist Alternative.
So, what is the actual content of the campaign you’re calling for? “Opening the police archives is doable and in fact can be done by any politician in office who is really on the side of black people.” So, after criticizing the liberalism of Black Lives Matter leaders and delusions in the Democrats, you then call to revive the movement on the basis of a sub-reformist demand and spread illusions about any politicians in office who are on the side of black people. Let me just also mention that last December a huge fire here in Brooklyn destroyed decades of NYPD archives. Where in New York would you find the archives that you’re referring to?
There’s also a pattern here, that we keep seeing in one leaflet after another. This leaflet doesn’t call for socialism, for revolution, for socialist revolution, for black liberation through socialist revolution, for a workers party, for a revolutionary party, or anything of the kind. What it calls for is a class-collaborationist campaign to achieve a so-called “doable” demand.
It’s reformist and it’s class-collaborationist. And I think that’s the direction you’re going in.
Below we print excerpted comments by Revolutionary Internationalist Youth comrade Leticia during the discussion period at a 6 May 2023 New York SL forum.
This event is purported to be a return to Trotskyism for the Spartacist League. The chair today encouraged people to study the contents of Workers Vanguard, and I have to say one should really do that – because when you do, it becomes clear that the politics of the Spartacist League now are a promotion and embrace of bourgeois nationalism. Now with your new orientation towards AMLO [Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador], we’re supposed to believe that you’re anti-imperialist?
Yet you justified the U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti in 2010, as “humanitarian aid,” and criticized the Internationalist Group for upholding Trotskyism by calling for U.S. and UN forces out of Haiti. What was it that you said? Oh yes, that we were engaged in “Third World cheerleading” and “conjuring up fantasies of proletarian revolution in Haiti.”4 But now you’ve pretty much disappeared that betrayal. You also abandoned the call for the independence of Puerto Rico, a colony of the United States, one of the most basic principles of any communist organization, The SL even went so far as to say you would support annexation – if that were “the will of the population.”5
In 2001, in one of the most powerful imperialist countries in the world, you abandoned the call to defeat U.S. imperialism, after you cracked under the pressure of your own national ruling class following 9/11. It’s actually not enough to say that you abandoned this call: you attacked it and attacked those who were determined to maintain and uphold that position after 9/11 and during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In a particularly vile smear, Workers Vanguard accused the Internationalist Group of “Playing the Counterfeit Card of Anti-Americanism” for upholding this basic Leninist position. It went further, grotesquely claiming that we were playing to an audience of “‘Third World’ nationalists for whom the ‘only good American is a dead American’”!6 This monstrous lie was printed by you in the hysterical atmosphere following the 9/11 attacks….
And now, with the war between Ukraine and Russia, which has long since become a proxy war of the U.S. and NATO against Russia, you still use pitiful excuses to refuse to call for the military defense of Russia and the defeat of U.S. imperialism. Meanwhile, someone brought up the defense of workers states? You even alibi the Wuhan lab theory,7 which is imperialist propaganda. All of this is unsurprising because it’s just yet another capitulation to your own national bourgeoisie.
Talk about bowing to the bourgeoisie. Despite correction after correction after correction after correction; after trashing time and again the programmatic record that the once-revolutionary Spartacist tendency built up from its inception in the early 1960s, and denouncing the Internationalist Group for upholding that revolutionary program – after all this, we’re supposed to believe, that now, today, the Spartacist League is officially anti-imperialist? Let alone a revolutionary Trotskyist organization?
I don’t think so. ■
- 1. See, for example, “Haiti: IG Conjures Up Revolution Amid the Rubble,” Workers Vanguard No. 952, 9 February 2010.
- 2.After months of railing against the IG/LFI for opposing the U.S. occupation of Haiti, the SL/ICL issued a statement admitting that the IG/LFI had been correct to characterize its position as “social-imperialist” … then resumed its standard litany of rants and distortions. (See “Open Letter from the Internationalist Group to the Spartacist League and ICL,” The Internationalist No. 31, Summer 2010.)
- 3. SL/U.S., “Open All Police Archives!” (28 August 2022), online at icl-fi.org.
- 4. See footnote 1.
- 5. On Puerto Rico, the SL had since its inception called for the colony’s independence, but in 1998 declared, “We do not currently advocate independence for Puerto Rico” (see “ICL Renounces Fight for Puerto Rican Independence,” The Internationalist No. 6, November-December 1998). Then in 2017, while again switching gears and claiming to espouse independence, it went so far as to declare that it would support statehood, i.e., the colonial annexation of Puerto Rico, if that reflected “the will of the population” (see “SL/ICL on Puerto Rico: Annexationist ‘Socialists’,” The Internationalist No. 50, Winter 2017). Now Spartacist No. 68 (September 2023) includes a brief piece titled “Puerto Rico: For Independence and Socialism!” that evades the question of statehood entirely.
- 6.See “The Internationalist Group: Centrist Pathology,” Workers Vanguard No. 767, 26 October 2001.
- 7. See “Pandemic in China: Trotskyism vs. Stalinism,” Spartacist No. 67, August 2022.