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ICFI
Fourth International 1990: The end of the Soviet Union

Resolution Four: For the International Defense of Class War Prisoners

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.

All over the world the growing crisis of the capitalist system is driving ruthless attacks on the democratic rights of the working class. A new wave of class warfare prisoners is being created, as the ruling class in every country utilizes the methods of provocation and frame-up to attempt to terrorize the working class and victimize worker militants.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, the hypocritical spokesmen of the bourgeoisie proclaimed a “new era” of human rights and democracy. Far from this being the case, the working class finds itself facing the old methods of state repression and terror.

In carrying out these attacks, the ruling class is emboldened by the complete betrayal and the collapse of the existing leaderships of the working class, including all the old social democratic and trade union bureaucracies, which are all openly abandoning trade unionists facing frame-up charges and collaborating in the victimization of their own members.

In the United States, striking Greyhound driver Roger Cawthra was stabbed in the back by the leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which refused even to raise the funds needed for bail after he was convicted and jailed on frame-up charges for his role in the struggle against union busting. This follows similar betrayals by the United Mine Workers bureaucracy in the frame-up of A.T. Massey miners in Kentucky and the Milbum miners in West Virginia, as well as the attacks on wildcat construction strikers in International Falls, Minnesota.

The growing number of framed victims in the United States is part of an international trend. No section of the working class, from those in the former Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe, to the workers in the countries oppressed by imperialism, to the working class in the metropolitan capitalist countries, is unaffected by these attacks. Soviet workers fighting die attempts of all sections of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the representatives of the comprador bourgeoisie to destroy the remaining conquests of the October Revolution will face the same kind of repression.

The answer to the wave of attacks and frame-ups of revolutionary fighters and worker militants is an international campaign of the working class. Just as the direct attacks on jobs and wages can only be fought through the international unity of the working class, so too the victimizations can only be defeated through an international campaign.

The International Committee calls for the establishment of a campaign in defense of class war prisoners, in the traditions of the revolutionary movement as embodied in the early history of the Communist International and the struggles of the Fourth International.

This conference calls for the establishment of a campaign modeled on the International Labor Defense, inspired by the IWW founder and leader Big Bill Haywood, set up by the American Communist Party in the 1920s before its Stalinist degeneration, and headed from the time of its origin until his expulsion from the Communist Party by James P. Cannon, the founder of American Trotskyism. The ILD fought to mobilize the broadest support in the working class for all victimized trade unionists and other militants, regardless of their political views. A new International Labor Defense committee is needed today to answer the escalating attacks on the working class.

It was only the independent initiative and struggle of the Workers League which was able, by winning important support in the working class, to force a section of the trade union bureaucracy to provide the bail money for Roger Cawthra. This experience proves that the defense of basic democratic rights requires a struggle against the bureaucratic agents of capitalism. The broadest defense of class war prisoners is inseparable from the fight for an alternative revolutionary leadership in the working class.