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Fourth International 1990: The end of the Soviet Union

Resolution One: Build the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution

This resolution was adopted at the World Conference of Workers against Imperialist War and Colonialism, held in Berlin on November 16-17, 1991 under the auspices of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

This World Conference of Workers against Imperialist War and Colonialism marks a historical milestone in the struggle of the International Committee of the Fourth International for the program of Trotskyism. It is the culmination of a protracted struggle in defense of the Fourth International against Stalinism and its chief political prop, Pabloite opportunism.

The struggle against imperialist war is the struggle to resolve the crisis of proletarian leadership through the building of the Fourth International. For more than six decades the Trotskyist movement has waged an intransigent struggle against the Big Lie that Stalinism represented either the defense of the historical conquests of 1917 or socialism. This struggle is a living testimony to the method of revolutionary Marxism. Initiated under conditions where millions of workers believed, wrongly, that the Stalinist parties were the continuity of the party of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, it has been completely vindicated by the historic collapse of the Stalinist regimes. And their demise signifies the close of a whole historical period, in which the Stalinists were able to dominate the working class. The relationship between the Fourth International and the working class has changed fundamentally.

In the next great revolutionary upsurge, the working class will not come under the leadership of the Stalinist parties which are either totally discredited or have already completely disintegrated. Rather, it will be the Fourth International and its sections which will be placed in a position to assume the leadership of this movement. This is why it is decisive that political accounts now be settled with the opportunist United Secretariat and the various satellite opportunist tendencies, such as those of Slaughter and the Morenoites.

The United Secretariat of Ernest Mandel does not represent a trend within the Trotskyist movement, but, as its whole history and program show, functions as nothing less than a political agency of imperialism. In the full scientific sense, Mandel is a bourgeois politician.

Conversely the International Committee is not merely one of several tendencies within the Fourth International, but the Fourth International itself, charged with the historic responsibility of building the World Party of Socialist Revolution.

There is no doubt that without the formation of the International Committee through the issuing of the “Open Letter” by the Socialist Workers Party National Secretary James P. Cannon in 1953, the Fourth International would have been destroyed.

The opportunist tendency led by Michel Pablo and Ernest Mandel did not merely advance a pro-Stalinist political line based on the illusion that the Stalinist bureaucracy could be pressured by the masses to the left, it sought the liquidation of the Fourth International itself. Pabloism denied the most essential conception of Marxism, that the establishment of socialism is the outcome of the struggle of the class-conscious proletariat and that this struggle is organized and led by the revolutionary party.

The essence of Pabloism was liquidationism—the liquidation of the Fourth International as the vanguard of the working class and its transformation into a prop for the Stalinist and reformist bureaucracies and the petty-bourgeois nationalist forces which dominated the working class and oppressed masses.

The class significance of Pabloism emerges clearly from the fact that in the postwar period more Trotskyist cadres had been politically destroyed by this tendency than the combined operations of imperialism and Stalinism.

Only the International Committee has defended the program and basic principles of the Fourth International. In 1961, the British section, the Socialist Labour League, drew the conclusion that it was “time to draw to a close the period when Pabloism was regarded as a trend within Trotskyism.” However, despite this correct assessment, the International Committee was not able to separate the Fourth International from the Pabloites, who paraded as Trotskyists in the international workers movement as they subordinated the revolutionary vanguard to the petty-bourgeois nationalist and the labor bureaucracies.

The weakness of the Fourth International in relation to the Pabloite trend was an expression of the relationship of class forces on an international scale. The basis of Pabloite politics lay in the reformist and Stalinist bureaucracies, as well as the new middle classes who were given an expanded base in the postwar period.

The dominance of Pabloism played a decisive role in the maintenance of imperialist rule. Despite the considerable weakening of Stalinism, the Fourth International was not able to take full advantage of the crisis of capitalism which developed in the period 1968-75 under conditions of an international upsurge of the working class, thereby enabling imperialism to once again use its Stalinist and reformist agencies to restabilize its rule, and then prosecute an offensive against the working class from the period of the late 1970s onwards.

Moreover, the class pressures which had produced Pabloism were bearing down on the International Committee. The SLL in Britain, which had led the struggle against the SWP, began to go in an opportunist direction and by 1972 had advanced the conception that the working class could not be won through a fight in the labor movement to the program of Trotskyism.

The opportunist tendencies, which had emerged within the British organization, now sought to destroy the International Committee. By the early 1980s Healy and Slaughter had advanced the conception that the International Committee did not represent the Fourth International, but was only the “nucleus of the world party of socialist revolution.” The aim of such a formulation was to condition the IC sections to take part in a centrist regroupment based on the conception that the Trotskyist movement had to adapt its program to petty-bourgeois forces in order to build the world party.

The objective significance of the liquidationism of the WRP leadership can now be clearly seen. Just as its chief political agencies, the Stalinist and reformist bureaucracies, were entering a terminal crisis, imperialism and the Pabloite forces who had promoted them had no greater need than that the International Committee should be liquidated. SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes summed up the perspective of imperialism when he declared at the end of 1982 that in the next decade no one would call themselves a Trotskyist.

The objective significance of the struggle initiated by the Workers League in 1982 can now be seen. The defeat of the opportunist elements in the leadership of the WRP and the driving out of the Slaughter-Banda tendency ensured that the Trotskyists were once again in control of their own organization. Had this split not taken place, the International Committee would have been transformed into a political prop for Gorbachev, right at the point where the entire Stalinist bureaucracy was about to collapse.

Having defeated the opportunists, the Fourth International, under the leadership of the International Committee, is a politically homogeneous organization uniting cadre in diverse regions of the world on the basis of a common program. It has demonstrated in practice that the international unification of the working class takes place through the building of the Fourth International in a struggle against all forms of opportunism which seek to split the working class and tie it to the nation-state system.

Having unified its cadres, the Fourth International undertakes the war against Pabloite opportunism on a different basis. The possibility now exists to completely destroy the political credibility of the Pabloite organizations and establish for the class-conscious vanguard of the international working class that only the International Committee represents the Fourth International and that the politics of Mandel have nothing whatsoever to do with the program of Trotskyism.

The long period during which the opportunists were able to masquerade as Trotskyists has come to an end. The United Secretariat of Mandel and the various satellite groups which orbit around it do not represent a trend within the framework of the Trotskyist movement. Their history and programs expose them as political agencies of imperialism.

With the collapse of the Stalinist bureaucracies and the deepening rebellion of the working class against the social democratic and trade union apparatuses, the United Secretariat of Mandel performs vital services for world imperialism. Its specific function is to put together new political mechanisms which are needed by imperialism to maintain its rule under conditions where its old props have completely disintegrated and to mobilize sections of the petty-bourgeois radicals against the Trotskyists of the International Committee and the program of socialist internationalism for which they fight.

The conflict between the International Committee and Mandel’s United Secretariat is a battle between two organizations representing different class forces with diametrically opposed historic aims. This is demonstrated by the history of Mandel’s tendency over decades, culminating in the explicit and open support now given to imperialism in the aftermath of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes.

Throughout the history of the struggle conducted by the Fourth International, the “Russian question” has always functioned as a test of the class orientation of tendencies and organizations. Mandel and his United Secretariat openly endorsed Gorbachev and his program of capitalist restoration, declaring that they had to be supported and hailing the leader of the Soviet bureaucracy as one of the greatest political figures of the twentieth century.

In Poland and East Germany, Mandel has functioned as an organizer of capitalist restoration and counterrevolution against the working class. His longtime protege Jacek Kuron served as labor minister in the first Solidarity government, initiating the IMF-organized “shock therapy” which has shattered the living standards of the working class and driven unemployment to record levels.

The collapse of the GDR revealed the class significance of Mandel’s support for the Stalinist bureaucracy, stretching right back to the conceptions advanced at the time of the June 1953 uprising of East German workers that the regime would be forced to grant reforms. Mandel and the United Secretariat have always opposed the revolutionary overthrow of the Stalinist apparatus by the working class—a fact recognized by the bureaucracy itself.

Desperately trying to prevent itself from being overthrown by the working class, the East German regime turned directly to Mandel. Fearing the impact of the intervention of the BSA, the German section of the ICFI, into East Germany and the issuing of its call for the overthrow of the Stalinist regime through the establishment of workers councils and genuine workers democracy, Mandel was brought into East Germany by the Krenz regime and the Stasi to denounce the “outside interference” of the BSA.

In Yugoslavia, however, Mandel supports the intervention of the European imperialist powers and backs the right of the fascists in Croatia and other republics to set up their own state apparatus. The political character of the United Secretariat is established by the decision of its last congress to back affiliation to its ranks of the NSSP of Sri Lanka. The NSSP is a bourgeois party which works openly with bourgeois politicians and military leaders responsible for the suppression of the Tamil masses and the working class. There is no doubt as to the political role of the NSSP. It is an open bourgeois party which participated in the round table talks in 1987 aimed at crushing the Tamil struggle for self-determination and blocking opposition to the UNP regime in the working class.

The International Committee has thoroughly exposed the role of the Slaughter group and its so-called Workers International, which functions as a satellite of the Mandel group. Having failed in 1985-86 in its publicly stated aim of destroying the International Committee of the Fourth International, the Slaughter group attempts to organize a “regroupment” of Stalinist and Pabloite forces to try to block the growing influence of and support for the ICFI in the Soviet and international working class.

The protracted struggle waged by the ICFI against Pabloite opportunism has established the basis on which the Fourth International will be built. There is no other foundation. The building of the Fourth International does not take place, as all the opportunists have tried to maintain, through a “regroupment” of centrists, but through the continued separation and demarcation of the program of genuine Trotskyism from the forgeries issued by the political agents of imperialism.

The future of the international working class depends on the struggle to build the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution. This is a task which is posed directly by the objective situation itself. Only the unified action of the international working class can put an end to the threat of third imperialist war and nuclear holocaust through the overthrow of the capitalist system. But this unification can only be achieved through the building of the Fourth International under the leadership of the International Committee.

This conference issues the call to workers and youth everywhere: Place yourselves under the banner of the Fourth International and build the World Party of Socialist Revolution. Take the most decisive step of all in overthrowing the capitalist system and removing for all time its threatened destruction of civilization itself.