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The Internationalist
April 2022

Pseudo-Trotskyist Imposters Line Up with Imperialism

NATO Socialists in Italy

The following article is from the forthcoming issue of L’internazionalista, published by the Nucleo Internazionalista d’Italia, section of the League for the Fourth International.

Front page of La Stampa, the voice of Fiat since the fascist regime of Mussolini, with dramatic photo and the headline "The Slaughter," along with article on "How Kiev Is Facing the Final Assault." Except the photo is not of residents of Kiev killed by a Russian rocket, it is of civilians in Donetsk killed by a Ukrainian rocket. The Italian bourgeoisie, its media and politicians march in lockstep with U.S./NATO imperialists churning out non-stop war propaganda, while the bulk of the Italian left lines up with their capitalist rulers.

In the present Russia-Ukraine war, instigated by the imperialist powers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), communists in the imperialist centers, including Italy, are duty-bound to fight for working-class actions against the war, to oppose imperialist sanctions against Russia and to mobilize to defeat the NATO war drive through class struggle against “their own” imperialist bourgeoisie. The main enemy is at home, especially in the warmongering European Union (EU), Britain and United States. But in Italy and elsewhere, a large part of the left has lined up with their own imperialist bourgeoisie and sided with the NATO-backed Ukrainian “resistance.” These NATO socialists are actively supporting the imperialist war drive.

A prime example of this is the Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori (PCL, Communist Workers Party)1 that proclaims: “Today we defend Ukraine against the invasion of imperialist Russia, in spite of the reactionary Zelensky government” (emphasis in original) and “Today we are on the side of the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian forces of occupation” (“Neither Atlanticists, nor Putinists, nor Pacifists” (in Italian), PCL, 2 March). The PCL then calls for the maximum arming of the “resistance” including by the NATO powers:

“In their resistance against the invasion the Ukrainian people have the right to use all the arms that are available to them, whoever they come from. This is the right of every resistance. We do not contest this right or sabotage the implementation of this right.”
–“Imperialist War, National War and Resistance” (in Italian), PCL, 19 March

The League for the Fourth International, in contrast, calls for revolutionary defeatism on both sides of the nationalist Russia-Ukraine war – for workers struggle to bring down the capitalist rulers in Moscow and Kiev – and above all to oppose the NATO imperialist war drive ultimately aimed at bringing about counterrevolution in the (bureaucratically deformed) Chinese workers state.

Meanwhile, vigilant airport workers in Pisa recently refused to handle weapons (disguised as “humanitarian cargo”) to be sent to the Ukraine and blocked their shipment. Port workers in Livorno, Genoa and elsewhere expressed their support for this proletarian internationalist action, and a demonstration was held in Pisa in support of it. The PCL position of upholding a supposed “right” of the Ukrainian “resistance” to receive arms is directly counterposed to this courageous action. In fact, a member of the PCL wrote on Facebook that the airport workers’ action was an “error” and complained that “to impede the Ukrainians from defending themselves means handing victory to Russia.”

It should be noted that some of the arms sent to the Ukraine are used by the Ukrainian fascist gangs against the Russian-speaking population of Donbass and Mariupol to kill separatist fighters and the general population. The LFI, in contrast, calls to defend self-rule in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk against the siege by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who would “ethnically cleanse” the area of its Russian-speaking population.

The PCL compares its defense of the Ukraine today with its previous defense of Iraq and Serbia against U.S. and Italian imperialism. But while it condemned the imperialist slaughters in Serbia and Iraq, today the PCL is supporting the same side as Italian and U.S. imperialism in Ukraine. And for Leninists, capitalist Russia, despite Putin’s imperial ambitions, is not an imperialist country but a regional power (see “The Bugbear of ‘Russian Imperialism’,” The Internationalist No. 40, Summer 2015). The stark fact is that the NATO socialists of the PCL have lined up with their own imperialist bourgeoisie.

Fascist Azov Brigade training civilian volunteers, February 2022. This is the pro-imperialist Ukrainian “resistance” hailed by the PCL, PDAC, Sinistra Anticapitalista and other pseudo-Trotskyist “NATO socialists.” (Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters)

They are not alone. The social-democratic Sinistra Anticapitalista (SA, Anti-Capitalist Left), associated with the “International Bureau (IB) of the Fourth International” (formerly United Secretariat, followers of the late Ernest Mandel), also backs the Ukrainian “resistance” and its own imperialist bourgeoisie. The IB grotesquely proposes a “democratic” path for Ukraine to join NATO: “It is up to the Ukrainian people – and not to blackmail and negotiations between great powers – to decide on their membership or not in NATO” (International Viewpoint, 1 February). SA adds the call for “the delivery of defensive weapons to the victims of aggression…in this case the Ukrainian state….” SA’s support for Italian imperialism is nothing new. A current main leader of SA, Franco Turgliatto was a senator for Rifondazione Comunista in the Prodi government of 2006-08.2 During this time Turgliatto voted to finance Italy’s forces in Afghanistan, and also voted 23 times for confidence in the government.

The Frazione Internazionalista Rivoluzionaria (FIR), associated internationally with the Trotskyist Fraction (FT) current, has been busy enthusiastically supporting pro-NATO demos. Up to 50,000 people came out for a national demonstration in Rome for “peace” on 5 March, which was organized by the Italian Network for Peace and Disarmament. The demonstration was politically based on the slogans of “Solidarity with the Ukrainian People” and “We Condemn the Aggression and War Triggered by Russia.” While the demo condemned Russia, NATO was not mentioned, nor was there was any call to stop the imperialist supply of arms to Ukraine or against NATO’s eastward expansion. It appealed to the Pope, called for intervention by the United Nations and suggested a possible progressive role for the European Union in a “Europe of Peace.” This was in fact a pro-NATO demonstration with a fig leaf of pacifist rhetoric.

An article in the FIR’s La Voce delle Lotte (6 March) states, “In Rome, 50,000 in the Streets for Peace in Ukraine and Against NATO Militarism” (in Italian), written the day after the demonstration by its editor, Giacamo Turci of the FIR, enthused over the pro-imperialist demonstration’s “success” and polemicized against anybody who failed to support it. This included the bourgeois populists of Potere al Popolo who dared to counterpose themselves to the demonstration by raising the slogan “Italy out of NATO” from a physical distance. According to Turci, this pro-imperialist demonstration was a “first important step” forward in the struggle for “immediate peace in Ukraine with the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the country, and the utilization of truly democratic and non-military means to resolve the questions of freedom and national self-determination, in Ukraine and everywhere else.”

Perhaps the most hard-core and consistent supporter of imperialism among the NATO socialists in Italy is the Partito di Alternativa Comunista (PDAC, Party of the Communist Alternative), part of the International Workers League (IWL) of followers of the late Nahuel Moreno. The main headline of a March 5 declaration of the IWL is “Defeat the Russian Invasion. Arms for the Resistance.” Since such arms can only come from the NATO imperialists, the IWL’s pious call for the “dissolution” of NATO is simply a cover-up for its pro-imperialist stance. The statement also calls to “defend the unity and independence of Ukraine” as well as for “Restitution of Crimea.” In other words, the IWL opposes self-rule in the Donbass, which broke away from Ukraine after the imperialist-backed fascist/nationalist coup in 2014, and wants to overrule the overwhelming vote of the Crimean population to rejoin Russia. So much for support for self-determination.

The Morenoite PDAC has called for imperialist sanctions against Russia (and other countries) in the past. In this case, instead of opposing the economic warfare of U.S./NATO/EU sanctions, it offers the imperialists the helpful suggestion that the sanctions should be directed against the Russian “oligarchs.” Echoing the NATO-stoked round-the-clock war propaganda that people in the imperialist countries are subjected to, the declaration praises the “strong and heroic resistance of the Ukrainian military and popular masses.” The front page of the PDAC’s Progetto Comunista (11 April) features a photo of civilians training with plywood replicas of AK-47 rifles. Yet who is training these volunteers are the fascist Azov Regiment and neo-Nazi Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) that have been integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces. Such pro-imperialist politics are to be expected from an outfit that in 2011 proclaimed “Long live the Libyan revolution, which destroyed the regime of Qaddafi”3 – backhanded support for Italian imperialism, which aided the massive bombings that largely destroyed the Libyan economy.

The NATO imperialist powers and others like Australia and Japan have been stepping up their sabre-rattling against China, accusing it of aiding Russia. The imperialists see their war preparations against Russia as a stepping stone towards their ultimate aim of sparking capitalist counterrevolution in China. The pseudo-Trotskyist NATO socialists know perfectly well that the imperialists have China in their sights, but pretend the Chinese workers state is capitalist, even imperialist, so as to wash their hands of the duty to defend it. We in the League for the Fourth International stand for the unconditional defense of China and the other deformed workers states of Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam against imperialism and internal forces of counterrevolution.

Nor is it a surprise that the NATO socialists are also pro-imperialist Cold Warriors. The FIR, PDAC and SA (as well as Sinistra Classe e Rivoluzione, part of the International Marxist Tendency) all supported the anti-communist racist riots in Hong Kong in 2019. This counterrevolutionary movement carried U.S. flags, beat up residents from the Chinese mainland and called for Donald Trump to intervene against China. For its part, the PCL declares that Chinese “imperialism” is as much an enemy of the world’s working class and oppressed as U.S. imperialism. And a central international leader of the Trotskyist Fraction, Emilio Albamonte, wrote that “millions of workers in China” have been reduced to “slaves” and claimed that: “The Chinese bureaucracy achieved the monstrosity of generating a capitalism a thousand times more savage than that which the struggles of the Western proletariat managed to put the brakes on” (“Revolutionary Marxism vs. Postcapitalism,” Left Voice, 3 January 2021).

This vile anti-communist propaganda besmirches the name of Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s comrade in arms in leading the 1917 October Revolution. Even some imperialists admit that China raised life expectancy at birth from 35-40 years in 1949 to 65.5 in 1980 (World Bank, 2009) and 76.4 years today, while lifting more than 800 million people out of poverty in the space of a few decades (as the head of the World Bank noted in 2016) – feats that are unprecedented in world history. Against the “NATO socialist” pseudo-Trotskyist imposters, the League for the Fourth International calls to defeat the imperialist war drive against Russia and China, and to defend China and the other deformed workers states against counterrevolution from within and without as we fight for proletarian revolution worldwide. ■

  1. 1. The PCL is one of a number of groups in Italy falsely claiming to be Trotskyist. In sharp contrast to the Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who defended the Soviet Union in World War II despite and against the betrayer Stalin, almost all of these groups are camp followers of imperialism, refusing to defend China against counterrevolution while siding with NATO-backed Ukraine against Russia.
  2. 2. Rifondazione Comunista (RC) is a rump of the former Italian Communist Party (PCI), once the strongest pro-Moscow Stalinist party in the West. Under the impact of the 1989-92 counterrevolution that swept through the East European Soviet bloc and ultimately destroyed the Soviet Union, the PCI simply closed up shop. First posing as left-wing social democrats, the ex-PCI ultimately joined with Christian Democrats to form the bourgeois Democratic Party. The RC continued as a shadow of the PCI, with the same politics of class collaboration as its progenitor, sometimes in opposition, sometimes supporting bourgeois government such as that of Romani Prodi.
  3. 3. Muammar Quaddafi was the nationalist leader of Libya (a former Italian colony), who was often a thorn in the imperialists’ side. He was ousted by the U.S./NATO assault on Libya in 2011, taking advantage  of the “Arab Spring” uprisings elsewhere in the region, and then murdered by some of the imperialist-created “rebels.”