This report from the Socialist Labour League, Australian Section of the ICFI, was originally printed in Workers News, the SLL weekly newspaper, on May 6, 1988.
The international unity of the working class in common struggle is not a slogan just for May Day, but the only basis on which the working class can fight every day.
Socialist Labour League National Secretary Nick Beams emphasized the necessity of forging the global unity of the working class at the SLL’s public meeting after the Sydney May Day march.
“You marched with us today as part of the worldwide struggle by sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution, to bring forward the common struggle of the world working class.
“This has an unprecedented level of historical concreteness today. The working class cannot fight on a national basis. It must smash down the barriers erected by the bourgeoisie and its agents.”
Beams said that last October’s stock market crash, the greatest in history, had come as no surprise to the ICFI. “We had analyzed that the whole period of postwar equilibrium had come to an end. The crash was the expression of the violent contradictions of the capitalist system itself.
“We have subjected these contradictions to a careful analysis. Our perspective for world socialist revolution is based on this scientific analysis. The overthrow of capitalism will not be achieved by desire only, although that is an essential prerequisite. World socialist revolution is a scientific necessity.”
The development of the world economy has intensified to an unprecedented degree the contradiction between the world market and the nation-states which had already led to two world wars for the redivision of world markets.
The production of commodities involved the coordinated labor of workers in many countries, but they were appropriated privately.
At the end of World War II, the bourgeoisie had attempted to overcome the contradictions by organizing a plethora of institutions to regulate the world economy, but they were unable to lift themselves out of the nation-states which they needed to maintain their position against the working class and their rivals.
This was only possible on the basis of the hegemony of US imperialism which has now been completely undermined, leading to the fracturing of the world economy along the same fault lines as led to World War II—the US versus Japan versus Germany.
In every country the capitalist class and its agents in the workers’ movement were pumping nationalism. In the French elections, the “socialist” President Mitterrand had promoted himself as the best candidate to lead France in the “war” for world trade.
Beams reviewed the explosive developments in the Asia-Pacific region—the uprising of the Kanak people in New Caledonia, the Fijian coup, the breakdown of parliament in Papua New Guinea, the Indian invasion of 100,000 troops into the Tamil homelands in Sri Lanka.
“The only way forward for the working class is the most intense struggle against the trade union bureaucracy for the program of world socialist revolution fought for only by the ICFI.
“The fundamental division in the workers’ movement is not ‘left’ versus right wing, but internationalism versus nationalism. It is the ‘lefts’ who are playing the leading role in standing for the defense of the nation-state.”
Beams said the right-wing trade union bureaucrats had come from around the world to look at the “left”-organized ACTU plan, “Australia Reconstructed,” as a model to force workers to sacrifice union rights, conditions and living standards.
“The end of this road is interimperialist war, world war and barbarism. The trade union bureaucrats are already acting as the recruiting sergeants for war.”
Beams explained the connection between these developments and the split in the ICFI in 1985-86. The renegades who broke from the ICFI and renounced Trotskyism expressed the pressure of the nationalist wave of renunciation of the basic rights of the working class by the bureaucracy.
“Since 1953, the ICFI has fought all those who say there is some other force, some other path, than socialist revolution led by the working class. The struggle in the ICFI is the culmination of a protracted struggle against all those who said Trotsky got it wrong in 1938 in founding the Fourth International.”
The liquidators who split from the ICFI expressed the weight of the middle-class buffer established by imperialism after World War II to use layers of the petty bourgeoisie to sit on the working class. This buffer was being shattered by the world capitalist crisis.
To break through this barrier required a unified world fight to create a world party hostile to the nation-states.
“We are extremely confident that our program will intersect with the living movement of the working class. This is not false optimism, but based on a scientific analysis. There must be world socialist revolution. There is no other way out.
“Capitalism is a doomed social system because like slavery and feudalism before it, it has become a barrier to the development of the productive forces.
“That is why it must turn to the most barbaric methods of war and dictatorship to attempt to survive.
“We are confident that the labor and trade union bureaucracy will be defeated by the working class.
“When our comrades speak at mass meetings, they speak in the objective historic interests of millions. The trade union bureaucrats speak on behalf of a tiny handful of capitalists whose time has come.
“This is what gives us great confidence. Only the working class has no interest in the nation-state and private property system.” Beams urged workers and youth to join the SLL to build the world party.
Young Socialist National Secretary Tania Kent said youth were in the forefront of all the struggles of the working class internationally. She said youth had to turn to build the revolutionary leadership of the working class against the betrayals of Stalinism and centrism.
“Only the International Committee of the Fourth International fights to forge the international unity of the working class. What unites all these other tendencies is nationalism. They all begin with Australia.
“We say categorically there is no national solution. If you start from the nation, you inevitably end up defending the Australian bourgeoisie.
“This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Fourth International, which was founded to resolve the crisis of revolutionary leadership. This perspective is being realized by the ICFI.
“We urge all youth to join the ICFI to fight for the socialist liberation of mankind.”
Meeting chairman Terry Cook from the SLL Central Committee said the SLL and the ICFI were the only ones to fight for the program of Marx and Engels on May Day: “Workers of the world, unite!”
He said the trade union leaders in every country were renouncing all forms of struggle and even the most minimal program to defend the interests of the working class.
“When our comrades speak about international unity, they are treated with hatred and venom by trade union leaders and our policies are labeled as ‘rubbish’ and ‘garbage.’ ” He said even those with “left” credentials, like the BLF leaders, were being exposed as extreme nationalists.
A collection for the SLL $20,000 International Fund raised more than $3,200.