The Revolution in Syria won a Tactical Victory! Down with Assad the Butcher!

By Yossi Schwartz (Member of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency as well as of the Central-Israel Branch of Balad), 21 August 2016, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

On August 8 Al Jazeera reported : “A Syrian rebel alliance has announced the start of a battle to recapture the whole of Aleppo, a day after it broke a government siege on the rebel-held half of the city. ‘The Army of Conquest ‘ said in a statement on Sunday that it would “double the number of fighters for this next battle”. “We announce the start of a new phase to liberate all of Aleppo,” the group said. “We will not rest until we raise the flag of the conquest over Aleppo’s citadel.” (1)

 

Aleppo is Syria’s second largest city and the country’s industrial and financial center. It is located 45 km from the border of Turkey. While in the first year of the civil war the city remained outside the civil war, from July 2012 when the rebels fighters gained control over Northern Syria it became a city divided between Assad’s army controlling the West side while the rebels controlled the East side. From the end of 2013 the government intensified the aerial bombardment of rebel-held parts of the city, causing thousands of casualties.

 

According to the same report the rebels managed to break the siege imposed by Assad’s army on the rebels held areas and the rebel Army of Conquest has been pushing for taking control of the city.

 

The Army of Conquest is a coalition of rebel groups including Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (known before as al-Nusra Front) that cut its ties with al-Qaeda. Footage obtained by Al Jazeera showed rebel fighters at government checkpoints on Saturday after breaking the month-long siege on the eastern neighborhoods of the city in a major setback for the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels were finally able to send in trucks with food to the 300,000 residents who were trapped for one month in the east parts of the city.

 

With the break of the siege the masses came out to the streets to celebrate the end of strangled the city for a long month. (2) This is an important tactical victory for the Syrian rebels. Yet the battle for this important city is not over.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 2,000 pro-regime fighters from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah had arrived in Aleppo since 7 August.

 

The 8 August edition of Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, reported that the army had received “the necessary military reinforcements to launch the battle to retake the areas from which it withdrew.”

 

On the other side in a statement Sunday the Army of Conquest announced “the start of a new phase to liberate all of Aleppo,” pledging to “double the number of fighters for this next battle”.

 

Washington’s U.N. envoy, Samantha Power, told the Security Council: “Despite the overwhelming force of the Assad regime, Russian, Iran and Hezbollah on one side, neither side will be able to win a swift or decisive victory in the battle for Aleppo.” (3)

 

It is important to notice that the rebels who broke the siege on Aleppo are not ISIS but forces that battle ISIS. In April this year we learned that “subsequent to fierce battles with rebel groups, militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) were able to control several key areas in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, local sources reported on Saturday”.

 

Local activists confirmed that ISIS jihadis have advanced in the region despite the Turkish bombardment on the group’s locations near the Syrian-Turkish border.

 

Speaking to ARA News in Aleppo, rebel spokesman Saleh Zein said “that ISIS insurgents launched a major offensive on rebels’ positions in Aleppo’s northern suburbs and were able to recapture Kafr Ghan, Tel Hussein and Biraghida villages near the Syrian-Turkish border after heavy battles with the rebel fighters of al-Sham Corps and al-Hamza Brigade“. (4)

 

The Syrian Revolution to win this struggle among other things must break ISIS which is an obstacle for the advance of the revolution. However in a fight with one of the imperialist states involved in Syria we would like to see the defeat of the imperialist side, which is the more dangerous enemy of the revolution and the international working class.

 

The RCIT welcomes the recent developments in Aleppo which are a blow to Assad’s regime and to the Russian imperialists who back him and a tactical victory for the revolution. But how can we call the victory of Islamic forces that want to establish a Sharia state a tactical victory for the Syrian revolution?

 

 

 

Imperialism, Colonialism and Muslim People

 

 

 

A similar question was asked by British colonial officers who were defeated in Sudan in the 1880s by the Mahdi whom they saw as fuzzy-wuzzy and dervish. For these officers like General Garnet Wolseley who fought in Manitoba Canada against Louis Riel and the rebellious Metis, or for General Charles George Gordon who put down the Taiping rebellion in China the victories of the Mahdi’s army considered by the British officers as “uncivilized fanatic mob” were beyond imagination.

 

What they did not grasp was that Mohammed Ahmed-Ibn-el-Sayed-Abdullah, the Mahdi (guide), was not simply a religious fanatic. He and his followers were fighting for the liberation of Sudan from colonialism. The same colonialists who condemned the Sudanese society that was based to some degree on slavery came to Sudan to subjugate it the British empire not to free the slaves.

 

When General Gordon was defeated and killed with all his soldiers the British press adored him.

 

“From late January 1884 through the spring of 1885, the British public consumed a prodigious output of news about the actions and the fate of General Charles “Chinese” Gordon in the Sudan (Brown 133). Gordon’s death at the hands of Sudanese rebels enraged an adoring British public, who viewed the general as an archetype of missionary imperialism, of the Englishman willing to sacrifice all for the betterment of the primitive Other. Jan Morris places Gordon among “a diverse succession of visionaries [who] gave [the British empire] a metaphysical dimension” in the late Victorian period. The press was full of stories of imperial adventure and conflict, and the spectacle of a virtuous Englishman confronting despotism, fanaticism, and especially the slave trade reassured many members of the British public of the righteousness of the imperial mission. In this context, Gordon was “everything a legend-maker could require,” possessed of a “hypnotic … [and] grand” personality, and whose modesty, ideas about Christian duty, and service to Britain made him an embodiment of the imperial ideal.” (5)

 

 

 

The Role of Religion in Liberation Struggles

 

 

 

The most important thing for us is to come to terms with the nature of the revolt in Syria which, while cloaked to large degree in Islamic puritan theology, is directed against oppression and imperialist exploitation. Those who fail to see the class line that separate between the imperialists and their servants and the “terrorist” enemies of imperialism, many of them having the same kinds of flaws as the Mahdists, are useless as fighters for the liberation of humanity from decaying capitalism.

 

If they see themselves as socialists they better realize that they are closer to Eduard Bernstein who in an article written in 1898 titled “The Struggle of Social Democracy and the Social Revolution,” argued in favor of European colonialist rule:

 

“There is a great deal of sound evidence to support the view that, in the present state of public opinion in Europe, the subjection of natives to the authority of European administration does not always entail a worsening of their condition, but often means the opposite. Even before the arrival of Europeans in Africa, brutal wars, robbery, and slavery were not unknown. Indeed, they were the regular order of the day. What was unknown was the degree of peace and legal protection made possible by European institutions and the consequent sharp rise in food resources.” (6)

 

In contrast, ironically even the US army’s Major Robert N. Rossi understood that “[t]he birth of Sudanese anti colonialism and resentment with foreign domination was greatly assisted by a concurrent rise in Egyptian nationalism and resentment of foreign domination. As the Mahdist forces shifted to offensive operations, their task was greatly facilitated by an Egyptian revolt which would prohibit substantial aid from being sent to the Sudan to fight the Mahdist revolution.” (7)

 

Most likely the same “socialists” who turn their backs on the Syrian revolution because of the Islamic fighters do not doubt that in the American war of independence against the British their sympathy is with the Americans. Yet the Americans were protestant puritans and the framers of the American constitution believed in “natural law“, namely the laws of God.

 

In a 1794 letter to the Massachusetts Legislature, Samuel Adams wrote, “In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator.” This is precisely why “Congress shall make no law … initiates the First Amendment. Freedom of speech, of press, of religion had been given by God and no government can legitimately remove it.” (8)

 

Second, of all the American colonialists’ upper class were slave owners at the time of the war of Independence. Yet the British Empire was the greater enemy.

 

So how can these leftist have sympathy for the American colonialists and not for the Muslims? Is it perhaps a question of color of the skin?

 

Unlike the revisionists, Trotsky and the early French Communist Party did not hesitate to defend the Rif Republic that was a rebellion of religious Muslims against French and Spanish Colonialism. “We do not and never have put all wars on the same plane. Marx and Engels supported the revolutionary struggle of the Irish against Great Britain, of the Poles against the Tsar, even though in these two nationalist wars the leaders were, for the most part, members of the bourgeoisie and even at times of the feudal aristocracy…at all events, Catholic reactionaries. When Abd-el-Krim rose up against France, the democrats and Social Democrats spoke with hate of the struggle of a “savage tyrant” against the “democracy.” The party of Léon Blum supported this point of view. But we, Marxists and Bolsheviks, considered the struggle of the Riffians against imperialist domination as a progressive war. Lenin wrote hundreds of pages demonstrating the primary necessity of distinguishing between imperialist nations and the colonial and semi-colonial nations which comprise the great majority of humanity. To speak of “revolutionary defeatism” in general, without distinguishing between exploiter and exploited countries, is to make a miserable caricature of Bolshevism and to put that caricature at the service of the imperialists.” (9)

 

 

 

How the Syrian Revolution Began

 

 

 

More than five years ago the Syrian people came out to the streets demanding their democratic rights. It was part of the Arab Spring. It was a revolutionary democratic tide that shook all the regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. For this magnificent mass movement to win it was necessary for the working class to be led by a revolutionary working class party but such a party was missing.

 

Those who claim to be revolutionaries like the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt tailed first Mursi in the presidential elections in 2012 and later entered a form of a popular front with the liberal bourgeois and at the end even supported the military coup in July 2013. The Communist Party as well supported the military coup. This enabled the imperialists and their local servants to defeat for now the revolution in most countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Yet the bleeding Syrian revolution is suffering but still alive.

 

In Syria in 2011 the masses were inspired by the toppling of Ben Ali in Tunisia and of Mubarak in Egypt. Many of them believed the revolution in Syria will be a copy of the events in these countries. It all began when in March the Syrian regime’s security forces in Daraa arrested young students who wrote a graffiti on the wall. For this they were tortured. This led to large demonstrations and the army used live ammunition against them. This led to the civil war. We should not forget how it began as the supporters of Assad’s regime try to change the historical account and blame the revolution for this bloody civil war that cost the life of close to half a million people and to more than five million refugees. It is Assad the butcher and those who back him who are responsible for the massacres, the destruction of cities and towns, for the siege of cities and the starvation of the population.

 

 

 

About the so-called US-Support for the Syrian Revolution

 

 

 

Some liberal Syrians believed that the Western imperialists will assist them. In reality the U.S provided some of the rebels that it considers “moderates” with a few weapons and ammunition. Some of these weapons end in the hands of the Islamists opposition. How did the Islamists receive these American weapons? “On the international arms market or from ‘moderate’ rebels who were given American weapons and then sold them to the highest bidder.” (10)

 

For those who characterize the Muslim rebels as “US agents” the fact that they get hold of American weapons is sufficient proof that the revolution ended. But this lacks any understanding of imperialisms’ contradictions, as Trotsky already explained in his article “Lean to Think“:

 

“Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a democratic imperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a fascist imperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists.” (11)

 

Thus the question is not whether a group receives weapons from an imperialist state but whether it is controlled by the imperialists.

 

Russian imperialism sent Assad warplanes to attack the population. While Saudi Arabia has backed some rebel groups, Iran and Hezbollah sent soldiers to assist Assad’s. Turkey has intervened in the civil war in order to crash the Kurds. More Syrians were killed by the US led coalition under the cover of fighting ISIS than Syrians killed by the reactionary ISIS. Many more people were killed by Russian air strikes.

 

“On June 20, Russian and American warplanes confronted one another in the skies above Syria after Moscow bombed an elite force of US-trained rebels, the New Syrian Army forces that fight Isis. The Pentagon on Friday scrambled F/A-18 fighters to fend off an attack by Moscow’s most advanced bombers on moderate opposition fighters it is supporting. When the F/A-18s approached the Russians moved out of the area, but when the US fighters paused to refuel they returned and struck the base again, in what appeared to be a deliberately provocative move. The Russians had been ordered to back off by the US pilots directly using a special communications channel setup to prevent air accidents, but were ignored.” (12)

 

According to a report dealing with the so-called “New Syrian Army” “unlike the Northern Aleppo FSA, the US provides close air support to the New Syrian Army. In a situation similar to the support given to the SDF/YPG in northeastern Syria, embedded special forces likely direct close air support for the NSyA. The US has also stationed M142 rocket artillery in Jordan to support the NSYA, these rocket strikes are likely directed by on the ground special forces embedded with the NSYA. There are unconfirmed reports that the US provided helicopter gunship support for a New Syrian Army raid on an ISIS held oil field near al-Bukama.” (13)

 

Another report states that the rebels groups are suspecting the NSA for two reasons. One reason is that they do not mention fighting Assad but only ISIS and that they are too close to the USA. (14) Assuming this information is correct this unit of a few hundred warriors should be suspected as an arm of US imperialism but certainly not the broad mass of Syrian rebels both secular and Islamists.

 

 

 

US and Russian Imperialism may Clash in Syria

 

 

 

In any case there is a danger of American-Russian armed conflict over Syria and the interest of the Syrian revolution and the International working class is to kick out all the imperialists.

 

Now that Turkey and Russia form a new alliance after the failure of the attempted coup that the US most likely was involved in some way or another, it is possible that Russia, Turkey and Iran will form a new alliance in Syria that is very dangerous to the Syrian revolution and to the oppressed Kurds. While the RCIT fully supports the Kurds’ right of self- determination, we warn that the leadership of the Democratic Union Party is playing a very dangerous game by allying itself with the US.

 

 

 

US and Assad

 

 

 

When the Arab Spring began the US announced that Assad must go. Today not only the Russian imperialists but also the American imperialists insist that Assad must stay.

 

Phil Gordon, a former senior White House adviser who is now part of the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy brain trust, argued in May that it’s time to stop calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s departure, saying the demand is part of a U.S. strategy that has failed to end the conflict. The willingness of such a prominent Middle East observer to make that call, on the record at a media briefing at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington, signals a greater openness now in bluntly stating what U.S. officials have accepted for months, if not years: Assad isn’t leaving. While it’s still taboo to say it aloud, Assad’s departure hasn’t been a U.S. priority in a long time, and the Obama administration’s old mantra of “Assad must go” is now mostly hollow.” (15)

 

Thus if they Syrian people will hear in the future about a new peace plan and some scheme of phony election it will have the same value as of Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinians – an agreement that has allowed Israel to steal more lands. In the case of Syria it will be a plan to cheat the Syrians after they lost half a million people to accept the butcher as the benevolent democratic milkman. The only possible solution is the victory of the revolution.

 

Last April Saudi King Salman offered Sisi $20 billion dollars on condition that Egypt would be transferring sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. This led to the largest demonstrations since Sisi took power in a military coup, with thousands once again calling to topple the regime. Under Sisi the economic situation has markedly deteriorated, result of declining tourism and Suez Canal revenues. With foreign reserves dwindling and a staggering 9% annual inflation rate, over 13% official unemployment and an annual budget deficit of about 12%. But even if Sisi will get the $20 billion Dollars they will disappear into the same black hole. In 2013 Kuwait gave Sisi $20 billion that went to the pockets of Sisi and his close friends. (16)

 

 

 

Syria and the Permanent Revolution

 

 

 

The Syrian revolution in its peculiar form proves Trotsky’s Theory of the Permanent revolution. The Syrian working class does not act as a class for itself, because it does neither have independent trade unions nor a revolutionary party to unite the workers whether religious or secular, a party that will fight for the Kurds right to self- determination, and a party that will unite the masses. The existing leadership in Syria is not able to overcome the sectarian divisions that exist in Syria nor can the revolution in Syria by itself defeat its very powerful enemies. Because of it the civil war can go on for some time without a resolution.

 

To win this struggle the Syrian revolution must be part of the Arab revolution of the region that today is still blocked by the counter-revolution imposed by reactionary dictators and imperialist Great Powers. Sisi’s rule is not stable as he cannot solve the serious economic problem of Egyptian capitalism. It is only a question of time before he will be toppled by new wave of mass protest.

 

However, the RCIT warns that there are a number of lessons to learn from the previous round of revolutions. First, the middle class cannot lead the revolution. Secondly, that a new revolutionary wave of the workers and the Fallahins (peasants) is not sufficient, for the revolution to win it must be led by a revolutionary leadership of the working class. Only the revolutionary working class will be able to win the democratic struggle and defeat the imperialists and their servants. Needless to say when the workers will come to power they will not stop at the bourgeois democratic tasks but will continue in the direction of building a socialist society that its tempo will be determined by the world revolution. A society that will work to provide the needs of the workers and the Fallahins and not of the parasitic capitalists.

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

(1) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/syria-rebel-alliance-pushes-aleppo-160808033801933.html

 

(2) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/01/syrian-rebels-launch-push-aimed-at-breaking-aleppo-siege/

 

(3) The Japan Times, August 9 2016, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/09/world/crucial-battle-aleppo-poised-commence/#.V6xVfZgrLIU

 

(4) ARA NEWS: ISIS advances against Syrian rebels in Aleppo, loses ground to Kurds in Hasakah, April 24, 2016

 

(5) Brook Miller: Our Abdiel: The British Press and the Lionization of ‘Chinese’ Gordon, in: Nineteenth-Century Prose, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Fall 2005), https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-208109718/our-abdiel-the-british-press-and-the-lionization

 

(6) Quoted in Louis Proyect: The Bernstein-Bax debate, May 17, 2008, https://louisproyect.org/2008/05/17/the-bernstein-bax-debate/

 

(7) Robert N. Rossi: The Mahdist Revolution, 1980, www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a284465.pdf

 

(8) Bill Lockwood: Just where does the Constitution mention God? Time Record News, Aug. 04, 2012, http://www.timesrecordnews.com/lifestyle/just-where-does-the-constitution-mention-god-ep-427107906-332674781.html

 

(9) Leon Trotsky: On the Sino-Japanese War (September 1937), https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/10/sino.htm

 

(10) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/how-did-islamists-receive-american-weapons-see-the-evidence-from-guided-missile-that-exploded-near-9834472.html

 

(11) Leon Trotsky: Learn To Think. A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra-Leftists (May 1938), https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/05/think.htm

 

(12) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/17/russian-warplanes-bomb-elite-british-backed-syrian-rebels/

 

(13) https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2016/05/31/new-syrian-army-americas-tip-spear-isis-syrian-desert/

 

(14) Sam Heller: Syria’s Newest Rebel Army Has Its Sights on the Islamic State, November 30, 2015, https://news.vice.com/article/syrias-newest-rebel-army-has-its-sights-on-the-islamic-state

 

(15) Hannah Allam: ‘Assad must go’ demand should go, ex-White House official says, May 12, 2016, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article77313747.html

 

(16) David Schenker: Will Sisi Squander His Chance to Fix Egypt’s Economy? The National Interest May 17, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/will-sisi-squander-his-chance-fix-egypts-economy-16237

 

 

 

We refer readers to the RCIT’s fundamental document:

 

Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, Resolution of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/

 

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Zimbabwe: The Role of the official Trade Union Federation

Report by the International Revolutionary Workers of Zimbabwe, 17.8.2016, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) plans to lead processions in the countries major cities throughout the country on Saturday August 20 to protest against the Special Economic Zones Bill H.B 15 which is now before the President for assent.

 

Previously ZCTU activists tried to rally workers to the streets in major towns and cities in anti-government demonstrations and failed miserably. But only a pocket of protesters turned up for the demonstration. Normally, when street protests are mulled, those expected to join are the poor workers, the disgruntled and the down trodden. Zimbabwe has those in abundance, but they chose to concentrate on their own livelihoods. A few workers who have to be at work will poppy down through the windows of their multi-storey establishments, and they will never join.

 

The lack of interest by the impoverished populace to demonstrate shows that the ZCTU has lost its ground and betrayed the masses. Also this shows how far trade unionism has lost relevance in a country where formal employment has almost ceased to exist and the ZCTU now appeals to a very few workforce which itself is largely uninterested in these protests.

 

But it is the despair which the workers who suddenly found themselves without jobs that got many thinking. Did the ZCTU really represent workers? Did the union believe sincerely in speaking on behalf of the voiceless? Left on their own vices with no jobs to turn to, it has certainly dawned on many that the ZCTU sold out.

 

It is a cruel sell-out technique which has left deep scars that will never heal for many until death. Now those men and women who constituted an important labour force in a glaringly growing economy are now left on their own. No worker in Zimbabwe will align himself/herself to a union which publicly supports a political party just as ZCTU work in hand with the bourgeois MDC.

 

Today the former workers are not fooled and neither are the majority of all Zimbabweans. The ZCTU is playing a political game for MDC. It will not work because Zimbabweans have realised the importance of safeguarding what they have. Once bitten twice shy, all those millions in the informal sector will not give heed to any of ZCTU messages veiled in the solidarity.

 

Unemployment has spiralled out of control, with estimates suggesting that 90 percent of Zimbabwe’s able-bodied are out of formal employment. The catastrophic closures of companies coupled with widespread retrenchments have forced many into the informal sector. Therefore, Zimbabweans are more concerned with their day to day activities for survival and they now support those groups that have nothing to do with any political parties.

 

In the memories of Zimbabweans are the 1997-98 mass street protests spearheaded by the same principal workers’ representative body, ZCTU in conjunction with many other civic organisations. ZCTU was fronted by the then secretary general, Morgan Tsvangirai, now president of the MDC-T. ZCTU, therefore, actually they are playing in the hands of political parties.

 

Thus as the IRWZ we call on the trade unions, mass organizations of the workers, poor peasants and urban poor to fight for the interest of the broad masses!

 

While we support the unity of action with reformist, populist and centrist forces, at the same time we warn against any illusions in the bureaucratic leaderships! For the formation of a rank and file movement inside the trade unions to organize the ordinary workers independently of the bureaucracy!

 

Aluta!

 

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Ethiopia: Down with the Dictatorship of Hailemariam Desalegn!

By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 17 August 2016, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

With every passing day living history is proving that we live in an historical revolutionary period. As the economic crisis of the world capitalist system continue the working class and the oppressed are moving into the centerfold of history proving that they are not ready to accept the miserable conditions the capitalists try to force on them in order to maintain the decaying system of profit. While the workers and the poor are struggling they lack a revolutionary working class leadership. In the last account the crisis of humanity is the crisis of a working class leadership. (1)

 

For years the capitalist propaganda has presented Ethiopia as an economic miracle and an example for all Africa. Yet the masses in Ethiopia have exposed the secret of this economic miracle that is based on the super exploitation of the workers and the poor peasants.

 

 

 

Super-Exploitation by US and Chinese Imperialism

 

 

 

In the time of slavery corrupted chiefs assisted the slave traders in capturing slaves for the plantations in the “new world” these chiefs are now replaced by corrupt governments that act as police for the super exploitation of the imperialist firms. Ethiopia is a clear case.

 

In an interview to a South African Journalist this June, Hailemariam Desalegn said: “We see China becoming expensive, but Africa being unready to take advantage, partly because the continent’s labor costs are expensive. But in Ethiopia,” says Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, “to achieve our advantage in light manufacturing, we have kept such costs low ” This he said in a country which is one of the fastest growing – perhaps the fastest growing – of Africa’s economies but where 30% of the population live under the poverty line.( defined as less than 1.90 dollar a day ) Farmers make up 80% of Ethiopia’s population.It is among the top five global suppliers of flowers, second only to Kenya among African producers and exporters. Revenues from flowers were $265-million in 2015, based on the super exploitation of 75,000 workers. The government offers low-interest loans to investors, a duty waiver on inputs and capital goods, and a five-year tax exemption for exporters. workers minimum salaries are 420 ETB (ET Ethiopian birr-1 Ethiopian Birr equals 0.045 US Dollar) US investment alone into Ethiopia, between 2013 and 2015, was $4-billion, including a $200-million investment in a flower exporting company, and a $250-million expansion by Coca-Cola.” (2)

 

The government is creating industrial parks. For example, forty kilometers out of Addis is the eastern industrial park with, by 2016, more than 20 Chinese investors, attracted by low or zero tariffs on imported manufactured goods, and free tax holidays for seven years. Located in this park is the Chinese Huajian Group’s “Shoe City”, employing 3,200 workers making 180,000 pairs a month for export. Ethiopian workers’ salaries on average is one-tenth the price of those in China for example, Addis’s shoe factories paying between 700-800 Birr ($30-35) a month.

 

 

 

The Uprising started in the Oromo Region

 

 

 

However, these days the East African government, the darling of US and Chinese imperialism, is facing the largest protest movement in decades. This in a country where anyone who has dared to criticize the government simply has been locked in the dungeons.

 

It began in the Oromo region. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, making up more than 30 percent of the population of about 100 million. The Amhara are the second biggest group.

 

 

 

Table: Ethiopia’s ethnic make-up (3)

 

Oromo: 34.4%

 

Amhara: 27%

 

Somali: 6.2%

 

Tigray: 6.1%

 

Sidama: 4%

 

Gurage: 2.5%

 

Others: 19.8%

 

 

 

The center of the uprising is Adama which is one of the largest cities in Oromia. The Oromo ethnic group have taken to the streets in recent months to protest their political marginalization and economic exploitation in spite of government spies and brutal goons of the security forces. The so-called developing industry that attracts the super-exploiters has resulted in displacement and disrupted millions of lives. The protest began in November 2015 in response to the government’s master plan to coordinate development in Addis Ababa with nearby towns in Oromia which meant stealing the lands for the benefit of the foreign investors and their local comprador bourgeois. Like much of the country, the vast majority of Oromia are small-scale farmers that hardly survive. They had enough and went out to the streets to protest the government taking lands for very little or no composition at all.

 

The government security forces violently suppressed the protests, firing into crowds of protesters with little or no warning, they arrested students as young as 8, and they tortured the protesters in detention. According to human right groups the military and police have killed several hundred peaceful protesters since last November.

 

The United Nations Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday that the regime in Ethiopia should allow international observers to probe into the killings of hundreds of peaceful protesters in the Amhara and Oromo regions. According to ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite News) At least 200 people were shot and killed this weekend alone as regime security forces rained bullets on peaceful protesters in the Amhara and Oromo regions who called for regime change. Hundreds of people were also detained. An estimated 700 people were killed in the Oromo region in the last 9 months of protest and tens of thousands have been detained.” (4)

 

However, even if the UN will be allowed to investigate the massacre, it will not change the regime that must be brought down!

 

 

 

Israel provides Training and Weapons for brutal Repression

 

 

 

The security forces are trained by and receive equipment from Israel as a report by American Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Y. Yamamoto, which has been revealed by WikiLeaks, shows.

 

“The Ambassador has discussed with the Israeli Ambassador and his staff their relationship with the Ethiopian military and the programs they have developed. The Israeli Ambassador, who has a terrible relationship with his Mossad representative, noted that the Israeli Embassy primarily uses military contractors rather than direct Israeli government officials to support Ethiopia. In some cases, however, like personal security advice and training and the security for large events, like the millennium celebrations last year, Israel has been forward leaning in providing direct assistance to Ethiopia. But from our interaction with the GoE, the Ethiopians avoid informing us what the Israelis do in Ethiopia and the Israeli Embassy has provided only general ideas of what they do in Ethiopia. As our mil-to-mil relationship with Ethiopia expands we will come to better understand what Israel, Russia, China, North Korea and other countries provide the Ethiopians. End comment. YAMAMOTO report.” (5)

 

The repression brings to mind the repression by the Butcher Assad in Syria that sent his military to shoot the peaceful demonstrations in March of 2011. This led to the bloody civil war between the Assad regime against the Syrian people. In spite of the fact that the Ethiopian government is the sole owner of the telecommunications provider and has the power to shut down signals and block opposition websites, brave activists have managed to send video and photographic evidence of abuses to the outside word. Journalists have been detained by officials for attempting to report in some of the worst- brutal actions of the army and the police members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party from the northern region of Tigray that dominates the government’s security and intelligence agencies.

 

Like other repressive governments that claim that “enemy agents are inciting the population”, the government accused Eritrea’s agents as the ones who infiltrated the ranks of the protesters and were responsible for the current violence.

 

After two months of violent demonstrations, in January the coalition government announced that it was scrapping the master plan. This coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is made up of four regional parties, including the TPLF and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). However the government lost credibility in May, when the EPRDF and allied parties won 100% of parliamentary seat in a national election, which for most Oromo people was a fraud.

 

In spite of its promises to institute democratic reforms and scrape the plan the government has continued to rely on its powerful repressive security apparatus and arrest member of the opposition. That led to other demonstrations.

 

What began as a protest in the Oromia region last November have now sprung up in the Amhara region as well – the homelands of the country’s two biggest ethnic groups. Dozens of protesters have been killed this week end in Oromia and Amhara according to Al Jazeera, Police fired tear gas and blocked roads to several towns in the Oromia region as demonstrators took to the streets after a call from a spontaneous social media movement. The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency said that “illegal protests” staged by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control, but it did not mention casualties.” (6)

 

Since 9/11, the imperialists went beyond technical and financial support to providing diplomatic cover to massive repression and creating phony stories that Ethiopia is a democracy and an economic success story. In July this year during his visit to Ethiopia the US President Barack Obama said: “We are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.” (7) For the imperialist terrorize the people is a sure sign of democracy.

 

 

 

Ethiopia under the Derg Regime

 

 

 

In 1974 in similar situation Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown by a wave of demonstrations, workers strikes mutinies and uprisings. He was replaced by a cast of young officers influenced by Stalinism. Mengistu Haile Miriam emerged as their leader. He expelled Americans exploiters and institute some economic reforms nationalized major companies and distributed land to the poor peasants

 

It was called Ye-Itiopia Hibretesebawinet (Ethiopian Socialism). The Land Reform of March 1975 abolished tenancy and put peasants in charge of enforcement. No family was to have a plot larger than ten hectares, and no one could employ farm workers. In January and February 1975, the Derg nationalized all banks and insurance firms and seized control of practically every important company in the country. However, retail trade and the wholesale and export-import sectors remained in private hands.

 

Toward the end of the 1980s, several crises, including famine, economic collapse, and military setbacks in Eritrea and Tigray, confronted the Derg. In addition, the Soviet Union and East Europe went through changes that would lead them back to capitalism and it became evident that Addis Ababa no longer could rely on its allies for support. (8)

 

Ethiopia under the Derg was not a workers state but a form of state capitalism similar to the Nasser regime in Egypt or the Yemeni Socialist Republic. (9)

 

While the organized workers in the CELU labor federation (The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions) participated in overthrowing Emperor Haile Selassie, and allied itself with the Derg it demanded shop-floor control over production. As a reaction, the Dreg closed the CELU headquarters and in January 1977, it replaced it with state controlled trade unions the All-Ethiopia Trade Union with a total membership of 287,000. Today the reorganized CELU is a state controlled trade union.

 

In December 1979, the military cast set up a commission to study the formation of a Stalinist party, under the name a workers’ party which was set up in 1984.The seven members of the military council were named to the party’s 11-member Politburo. The size of this party was estimated as 30,000. Of these, some 15,000 people were described as paid party workers. (10) It was not a workers party but a bureaucratic machine to control the workers.

 

In the end, the Derg regime collapsed in 1991 faced with popular unrest.

 

While the Dreg was not a workers government but an officer cast that tried to replace the impotent capitalist class and solve the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the revolutionary wave that they rode on proves that a socialist revolution was possible in Ethiopia in 1974 even when the working class is relatively small.

 

 

 

Forward with the Ethiopian Revolution!

 

 

 

To bring down the pro imperialist dictatorship it is necessary to organize a general strike of the workers combine with massive demonstrations of workers and peasants. It is urgent to free the CELU from the control of the government and replace the corrupted bureaucrats with truly committed leaders to the cause of the socialist revolution, or if proven impossible to build independent trade union federation.

 

Activists must organize groups that will defend the workers and the peasants. It is necessary to build local and national democratically elected bodies of the workers and the poor peasants to lead the revolution.

 

Most importantly it is necessary to build a workers’ party based on a revolutionary program. Such a party will fight for a workers and peasant government. A successful revolution may ignite a huge wave of uprisings in Africa and around the world that will help the workers in Ethiopia to build a socialist society.

 

 

 

Footnotes:

 

(1) On the RCIT’s analysis of the historic revolutionary period which opened in 2008 we refer readers to e.g. RCIT: World Perspectives 2016: Advancing Counterrevolution and Acceleration of Class Contradictions Mark the Opening of a New Political Phase. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries (January 2016), Chapter II, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2016/part2/ as well as Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, Chapter 14(i), RCIT Books, Vienna 2013, pp. 372-394, http://www.great-robbery-of-the-south.net/great-robbery-of-south-online/downloadchapters-1/chapter14/

 

(2) Greg Mills Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn: Growth has to be shared to be sustainable daily maverick, Daily Maverick, http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-06-07-ethiopias-hailemariam-desalegn-growth-has-to-be-shared-to-be-sustainable/#.V7QjqON8thE

 

(3) Source: CIA World Factbook estimates from 2007, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html

 

(4) ESAT News, August 11, 2016, http://ethsat.com/un-to-probe-killings-of-ethiopians-by-tplf

 

(5) https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08ADDISABABA1411_a.html

 

(6) Al-Jazeera: Dozens killed in Ethiopia protest crackdown, 9 August 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/30-killed-ethiopia-protests-opposition-160808105428331.html

 

(7) The Guardian: Obama criticised for calling Ethiopia’s government ‘democratically elected’, July 27 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/27/obama-urges-ethiopia-end-crackdown-political-press-freedom

 

(8) See e.g. Global Security Org: “The Dreg” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/ethiopia/history-dergue.htm; Fred Halliday and Maxine Molyneux: The Ethiopian Revolution, Verso Editions, London 1981

 

(9) See on this e.g. Yossi Schwartz: Was the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen a Deformed Workers State? in: Revolutionary Communism No. 42, August 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/south-yemen/; On the issue of degenerated workers states see also Michael Pröbsting: Cuba’s Revolution Sold Out? RCIT, Vienna 2013, www.cuba-sold-out.net/

 

(10) The New York Times, September 11, 1984, http://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/11/world/ethiopian-communist-party-is-set-up-with-mengistu-at-the-helm.html

 

 

 

 

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Once Again: Opportunism of US Left Exposed

An Analysis of the US 2016 Elections Campaign

 

By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 14 August 2016, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

The ABC of Revolutionary Marxism is the independence of the working class from the capitalist class and unity of the class in struggle. For this reason in a conflict between two imperialist camps, revolutionary socialists not only do not support any capitalist camp, but take the position of revolutionary defeat for both camps.

 

This is the only position that in time of imperialist wars can keep the unity and the independence of the international working class. Otherwise workers kill workers for the benefits of the capitalist class. The same principle applies when it comes to elections, i.e. no support for any capitalist imperialist party.

 

Critical support for a reformist, namely a workers’ party (albeit under bourgeois control), could be considered if it is a mass party and in opposition to the attacks on the workers and the oppressed or against imperialist wars. In countries where such a party does not exist and there is a motion to the left, revolutionaries may call upon workers to forge a party armed with a transitional program. This is the application of the Leninist united front tactic. While chances are that this party will not begin as a revolutionary party, revolutionaries still will not call for a formation of a reformist party. The character of such a party will be formed in the course of the struggle, including electoral struggles. Revolutionaries would fight for its leadership and for its revolutionary character.

 

Based on this Leninist united front tactic, from the very beginning of the Presidential election campaign in the US, the RICT said that the working class should oppose the Republican and the Democratic party, including under Sanders, as both parties are capitalist imperialist parties that represent the class enemy of the working class and the oppressed in the US and the rest of the world. What then should be done? We called upon our class brothers and sisters to struggle for the formation of a labor party based on the transitional program, which can be used as a bridge between the existing level of the workers’ consciousness and the socialist revolutionary consciousness.

 

Regardless of his empty phrases about socialism (by which he meant a welfare capitalist state) and what he believed he was doing, the apparent outcome of Sanders’ (a bourgeois liberal falsely claiming to be a socialist) campaign was to bring votes for Clinton.

 

 

 

Why did this happen?

 

 

 

After the last eight years of economic insecurity and the bailing out of big capital, responsible for the capitalist crisis, what characterizes the situation is the strong feeling of most Americans that they have had enough with the close relations of big capital and government and that they want a different social reality. Many of them were not afraid any more of the word “socialism,” even though they did not know how to achieve a socialist society.

 

Many workers and youth hoped Sanders will lead the struggle for socialism. Such feelings could have been translated into the formation of a labor party opposing the twin capitalist parties. Instead, Sanders opposed the formation of a labor party and loyally served the Democratic Party establishment that was active in sabotaging his chances to win the elections. The left tailed him instead of exposing him. By tailing Sanders the left tailed the Democratic Party and acted as an obstacle for the creation of a working class independent party.

 

The Communist Party supported Sanders and when he endorsed Clinton, as he promised all along, these reformists endorsed Clinton as well. This position reflects its strategy of subordinating the working class to the ruling class. Soviet Stalinism is dead but the Stalinist policies are still alive in the so-called Communist Parties. This disastrous strategy is known as the “popular front.” A policy that led to huge defeats of the working class in the 1930s and the 1940s. To cover up for this betrayal the CPUSA is calling Trump a fascist that can be defeated by the unity of all democratic forces including Clinton.

 

While Trump is a right wing racist and a demagogue, if he gets elected his regime will still not be fascism. Fascism usually can become a substantial force only in a (pre-)revolutionary situation where the working class struggle rises dramatically. However when the working class lack revolutionary leadership, the workers become demoralized because of the betrayals of the reformist and the centrist leadership. Fascism comes to power by mobilizing the middle classes and a section of the workers in the streets and its service to the capitalist class is to forcefully smash all working class organizations.

 

It is impossible to defeat fascism by casting a vote. The fascists must be smashed by the working class and its allies. Clinton and company are allies of big capital and racist cops, not of the working class and the oppressed. If there was a real danger of fascism the last thing Clinton and elk would like to see is a revolutionary mobilization of the working class smashing the fascist movement.

 

The fighters of the International Brigades who fought fascism in Spain in 1936-39 were persecuted by the so-called “democrats” as Roosevelt denounced the fighters of the Lincoln Brigade upon returning to the US.

 

 

 

“Communist” Party supports Clinton

 

 

 

Some reporters caught the irony of a so-called Communist party supporting a party of the big capital. According to the USA News:

 

The leader of America’s most prominent communist party credits Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with helping usher socialism into the political mainstream, but says it’s essential to back Hillary Clinton if she defeats Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.” (1)

 

John Bachtell, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, says he cast a ballot for Sanders in the Illinois primary in March, but that the self-styled democratic socialist’s loyal backers should temper their criticism of Clinton as a warmongering Wall Street puppet.

 

The most important thing is keeping our eye on this extreme right-wing danger and really hoping that all political organizations and democratic forces will unite together to try to defeat that,” he says.

 

Whoever emerges from the primary fight, there will be a very broad coalition to try to get them elected,” he says. “We support independence from the Democratic Party and work with forces laying the groundwork for a third party, but it’s not realistic in this election.” (2)

 

In the real world a vote for Clinton is a vote for imperialist wars and support for the very rich capitalists, as her records have proven. As a U.S. Senator, Clinton voted for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Patriot Act re-authorization, for new “free trade”, the Wall Street bailouts (TARP), the 2006 border fence legislation. As Secretary of State she supported the military interventions in Libya and Syria that fueled the humanitarian crisis in the region.

 

A clear indication why this support for an imperialist party is in opposition to the unity and the independence of the international working class are the many mass demonstrations which have taken place in the last years against Obama, Clinton and their military interventions in the Middle East. While for the American Stalinists, Clinton is part of the anti-fascist camp, in the eyes of the workers and oppressed in many countries she is a bloody imperialist. Exactly for this reason the Stalinist who destroyed the Third International cannot re-form an international to this very day.

 

 

 

Socialist Alternative / CWI: Support for the petit-bourgeois Green Party

 

 

 

The right-centrist “Socialist Alternative” (the US section of the CWI led by Peter Taaffe) supported Sanders and now, that he backs Clinton, has switched to the Green Party. The Green party is a pro-capitalist, petit-bourgeois progressive party that raises many supportable demands, but at the same time spreads illusions in the nature of US imperialism that it can become, without a socialist revolution, a progressive force. The Green Party’s nature is comparable with the development of Green parties in Europe in their earlier stages, i.e. they represent progressive sectors of the middle class but are not based on organized support amongst the working class and the oppressed.

 

Socialist Alternative called for support for the Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders and even created a website to mobilize support for him (www.movement4bernie.org). Today, after Sanders aligned himself with the candidate of the US establishment Hillary Clinton, Socialist Alternative jumps wagon and support another non-working class force – Jill Stein and her Green Party.

 

The ISO (International Socialist Organization) also threw themselves behind Sanders and now, as he supports Clinton, they also support the Green Party with Kaine on the Presidential ticket. But this party is not a reformist workers’ party. Unlike bourgeois workers’ parties (Social Democracy and the Stalinists), the Greens forbid affiliation with trade unions. The party’s right wing has dominated it from its beginning. The worldwide green movement has shown its real nature by joining, in Germany or France, the Social Democrats in austerity and pro-war governments.

 

In 2000, the US Green Party received almost 3 million votes for Ralph Nader a consumer supporter of capitalism. When Nader’s magazine workers tried to form a union in 1984, he fired them. Nevertheless the ISO and Socialist Alternative continued to support him. Days before Sanders announced his support for Clinton, Jill Stein called on him to lead the Green party.

 

John Reed, the author of the “10 days that shook world“, described how one group of so-called socialists was chained to another similar group and at the end they were all chained to the capitalists and the big landlords except the Bolsheviks under Lenin. It is the same story with the Middle class socialists of today.

 

 

 

What is the result of the Popular Front politics of those who claim to be socialists?

 

 

 

Many of the people who supported Sanders will not vote for Clinton. While some of them will vote for her, some will not vote at all, others will vote for the Green party and some of them will vote for Trump. It is still more likely that Clinton will win with a slight majority but it is not guaranteed. One thing is clear by calling to vote for Sanders and for Clinton instead of fighting to organize a labor party the middle class left has pushed a significant section of the population into the hands of Trump as he presents himself as an anti-establishment candidate.

 

Now the only option that is meaningful for the working class in the US is not to vote for both parties nor for the Green Party and move to organize a workers party based on the most oppressed layers of the working class in particular the blacks.

 

 

 

Footnotes:

 

1) http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-31/communist-party-leader-voted-for-sanders-will-back-clinton

 

2) ibid

 

3) For our analysis of Sanders and the Socialist Alternative’s support for him see Yossi Schwarz: Why Not to Vote for the Democratic Party in the Forthcoming US Elections or at any other time, 2.3.2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/no-vote-sanders/

 

 

 

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Zimbabwe: Mugabe Regime threatens Social Media “Abusers”

Report by the International Revolutionary Workers of Zimbabwe, 13.8.2016, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

The Mugabe regime has fired another threat on social media “abusers” to be jailed a minimum of 5 years. Those abusing the social media to instigate “violence”, “banditry”, “sabotage” and “general instability in Zimbabwe” will soon be jailed in terms of new regulations being crafted by the Government.

 

These provisions contained in the draft Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill empowers police to intercept private communications and to search and seize electronic gadgets used for criminal activities.

 

The provisions also bring general use of phones, laptops and desktop computers under scrutiny while protecting law-abiding Internet users from harassment, fraudsters and bullies who now face at least five years’ imprisonment.

 

All violations and penalties stated in the Bill apply to Zimbabweans both at home and outside the country, and offenders can be extradited in terms of the Extradition Act (Chapter 9:08).

 

Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira is gathering stakeholder views on the proposed law after which he will take it to Parliament.

 

This increasing repression shows that Mugabe is feeling the pressure from the masses.

 

When the struggle started way back, there was no Whatsapp or any social media to talk about. During the Smith era, our parents raised up against the Smith regime as it was treating our parents slaves the same as Mugabe is doing.

 

The Mugabe regime must be overthrown by the workers and peasants – not the great powers and their local agents! Direct colonial oppression will never come back to our country!

 

Nationalize all mines and foreign or big companies immediately – under control of the workers. Kick out all corrupt administrators, or managers – only we as workers can assure that the economy serves the people not imperialism!

 

The land should belong to those who work on it! Expropriate all big as well as foreign land owners immediately!

 

No compensation for evicted white landowners! For free state-loans for the small and middle peasants!

 

At the same timer, IRWZ defend Zimbabwe against all attacks from imperialism or from counterrevolutionary forces.

 

Only the unity of workers and the poor peasants against the rich can open the road to the liberation of the masses of the people!

 

For a national public emergency plan to end unemployment, inflation and combat diseases.

 

We need to give our people a future – this is why everyone who can work should get work.

 

As revolutionaries our highest priority is to serve the oppressed. As socialists we know that we can liberate the masses of the people only if the working class, aligned with all poor people, urban or rural, takes the power.

 

Forward with the workers struggle!

 

 

 

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Barbaric Trotskyism: a History of Morenoism (Part 2)

Originally published in Trotskyist International No.9, Theoretical Journal of the League for the Revolutionary Communist International (1992)

Note from the Editor: The LRCI was the predecessor organization of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency.

 

 

Morenoism and the IWL: Opportunism and failed manoeuvres

Five years after the death of their leader, Nahuel Moreno, the International Workers’ League is undergoing its sharpest crisis yet. Jack Tully examines its record since its foundation in 1982

In January 1982 the International Workers’ League (Fourth International) (IWL) was founded at a conference of twenty delegates, held in São Paolo, Brazil and presided over by its leader, Nahuel Moreno.1 The foundation of the IWL completed the transformation of “Morenoism” into an independent and clearly defined international tendency. Previously it had constituted a primarily Latin American adjunct to one or other of the major international centrist tendencies claiming the mantle of Trotsky’s Fourth International (FI). 2

According to the IWL, their international influence had grown substantially over the previous period. In 1969 they claim to have had only 65 members outside of Argentina. At its foundation the IWL claimed to have 3,500 members,3 with sections in twenty countries. The Argentine section, the MAS—by far the largest component—has claimed up to 6,000 members.

A decade later, the IWL has been rocked by a serious split in the MAS, a third of whose members have left, taking with them the organisation’s parliamentary deputies. This followed hard on the heels of the IWL’s recent World Congress, held in February/March 1992, where four conflicting tendencies proved unable to resolve their differences. A new Congress had to be scheduled for 1994, the fourth in five years.

The IWL claims to represent “orthodox” Trotskyism as against the revisionism of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI) and the other major tendencies. This is a false claim. The IWL is rooted in the common centrist degeneration which the Fourth International underwent between 1948-51. For this reason it commits exactly the same type of gross opportunist errors as its international rivals.

The IWL has been hit especially hard by the contrast between its wildly optimistic revolutionary perspectives and the serious reverses suffered by the working class and progressive forces in Argentina and the world after 1989. More specifically, it is suffering the consequences of a decade of opportunist electoral tactics since the Malvinas war and ensuing discredit and downfall of the military junta. The chase after electoral success in a rotten block with reformist figures led inexorably to the junking of more and more of the Trotskyist programme and the rejection in practice of the Leninist conception of a revolutionary party.

At its foundation, the most important section of the IWL was the Argentine Partido Socialista des Trabajadores (PST—Socialist Workers’ Party). At that time the IWL saw its most important task as being the consolidation of the PST which had been working in clandestinity since shortly after General Videla’s military coup of 1976.4

The unions and the left began to recover by the early 1980s. It was the recovery of the unions, including a major protest demonstration in March 1982, that drove General Galtieri to gamble on seizing the Malvinas. He was obliged to allow, indeed encourage mass anti-British demonstrations which clearly enabled the left and the workers’ organisations to organise on a mass basis.

Ten years later the MAS would say that this badly calculated military adventure was doomed to failure given the determination of British imperialism. But at the time the PST overestimated the revolutionary, anti-imperialist potential of the war itself.

They argued that with the sending of troops in April, “there begins the most extraordinary revolutionary ascent which has ever occurred in the country . . . the socialist revolution is on the march”. 5

When the war ended in defeat in June 1982, the traditional bourgeois parties and the left shared in the disorientation and demoralisation and failed to press home the attack on the junta. The combination of a severe economic crisis, divisions within the ruling class and military, the revival of working class militancy, and the demonstrations of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, all indicated that a pre-revolutionary situation existed. What was missing was a revolutionary leadership armed with a revolutionary programme.

The task facing Argentine revolutionaries in these conditions was to agitate around the key slogans of an action programme, raising demands to meet workers’ economic needs and democratic demands, focusing on the fight for a general strike to drive the military from power and convoke a sovereign constituent assembly. At the centre of all its slogans—economic, transitional and democratic—should have been the direct mass action of the working class.

In these conditions it was essential to pose the necessity of a break with the baleful legacy of Peronism, the building of a revolutionary workers’ party and the fight for a revolutionary workers’ government based on workers’ councils. The PST’s orientation was in sharp contrast to this.

In July 1982 bourgeois political parties were legalised and the PST also began to work more openly. By September it had decided that this meant a central focus on electoralism. The PST argued:

“The phase which is opening is not only legal, but fundamentally electoral. The conclusion is obvious: not only should we use legality by every means, but our main aim must be to intervene in elections, as long as we do not consider that a new phase has opened, that of mass struggles. If we recognise and accept the fact that the phase which has opened will be essentially electoral, our politics must also be so.” 6

In fact, throughout the second half of 1982 and early 1983 it was the developing mass movement that dominated the political scene, not elections. The latter were not to come until October 1983 and then only after a very brief election campaign. This itself was due to the timidity of the Peronist and Radical bourgeois opposition parties which did not even insist on immediate elections in their negotiations with the military.

There were tax and rates strikes in opposition to the government. But it was the movement headed by the mothers of the “disappeared” victims of the military junta and then, towards the end of 1982, the trade unions which took to the streets in increasing numbers. This phase culminated in a general strike and 100,000 strong march on 16 December, sealing the fate of the military, which was forced to set the date for elections.

For Trotskyists, no phase of politics—except the campaign itself—can be “essentially electoral”. To adopt this stance over a year before elections, months before they were announced, and in the face of a growing social protest movement, indicated a particularly crass electoral cretinism. In order to carry out this perspective, the PST began to cast around for electoral partners. They eventually found it in the shape of the Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS—Movement Towards Socialism), a small social democratic organisation.

The idea was:

“. . . to create a socialist front which will use legality and will stand in elections, with as its minimum basis, a socialist Argentina as its programme and independence of all the bourgeois or popular frontist parties or electoral fronts . . . Fundamentally, we want to attract thousands and thousands of workers and militants to a broad, non-sectarian socialist front, in which it will not be a condition to be a Trotskyist.” 7

More succinctly, Nahuel Moreno himself explained to the PST Central Committee that the aim of the MAS was to create “a reformist, non-revolutionary front or party”.8

Consciously or not, this unprincipled scheme owed a great deal to Raymond Molinier and Pierre Frank’s project of “La Commune”, a “broad organisation” set up in France in 1935 in order to attract the masses to a centrist programme. The only difference was that whereas Molinier and Frank tried to found their organisation on a centrist basis Moreno set out to build his on a nakedly reformist programme.

The “La Commune” enterprise was bitterly attacked by Trotsky in terms which therefore apply with double force to Moreno nearly half a century later:

“Quite often revolutionary impatience (which becomes transformed easily into opportunist impatience) leads to this conclusion: The masses do not come to us because our ideas are too complicated and our slogans too advanced. It is therefore necessary to simplify our programme, water down our slogans—in short, to throw out some ballast.” 9

After seven years of dictatorship Moreno considered that Trotskyism would be too difficult for the masses to grasp. Undoubtedly, in the first phase of the democratic opening it was unlikely that the revolutionary party could seize the leadership of the masses. Bolshevism itself was unable to accomplish this in February 1917, despite its deep roots and spotless revolutionary record. But it was essential to address the vanguard of the working class: to patiently help it regroup politically whilst at the same time putting forward slogans that could unite the whole working class for concrete actions.

Rather than fighting for a clear revolutionary alternative, Moreno and the PST assessed that there was a social-democratic space opening up in Argentine political life. Judging that Menshevism was the next stage for the Argentine workers they set out to become Mensheviks. Bolshevism and Trotskyism would be a sheer encumbrance now and were relegated to a future stage.

Trained in the years of centrist degeneration of the FI Moreno looked for roughly adequate vehicles to carry forward the “revolutionary process”. One of the first items of ballast which Moreno threw overboard was the key Marxist position on the nature of the state and the armed forces. In its first May Day Manifesto (1983),10 which contains a long programme “for a socialist Argentina”, the MAS managed to say not one word about the state! When a position was finally adopted, it was Moreno’s old centrist formulation calling for the “democratisation” of the armed forces (see opposite)!

If you really want to appear to the masses as social democrats and co-habit with real reformists in a single party then indeed the Marxist position on the class nature of the state will have to be ditched. But probably in no country and at no time was such a policy more out of place than in Argentina, still reeling from the effects of brutal military rule which had claimed 30,000 victims.

The MAS centred its appeal to the Argentine working class around the old bourgeois nationalist slogan “For a second independence”. For the bourgeois nationalists, the first “independence” was from Spain, the “second” will involve the creation of a native capitalism and a sovereign bourgeois state independent from imperialism. The MAS aimed to give this call a left twist with an “action programme” which called for the nationalisation of the banks and monopolies. What it studiously avoided were any demands for expropriation of the capitalist class and the formation of a workers’ government that would be needed to carry this out.

Even one of the most burning necessities for Latin America, the repudiation of the external debt, was rejected in favour of the call “For the suspension of the payment of the external debt. For the formation of an international front of debtor countries to stop the payment of the debt.”11

The demand for “suspension” of the debt in Latin America is typical of bourgeois and reformist currents that seek not to pay the debt today but will be prepared to do the imperialists’ bidding tomorrow. This was no “mistake” but a deliberate tailoring of the revolutionary programme to meet the needs of an opportunist alliance with social democratic and bourgeois national forces.

Perhaps most indicative of the MAS’s whole orientation was its governmental slogan: “For the immediate resignation of the military government! For the immediate convocation of the 1976 Congress, which must elect a provisional government and call elections without any restrictions and without a state of siege.” 12

With the military dictatorship forced onto the defensive by a mass movement, the most these “revolutionaries” could find to say was to call on the discredited Peronist parliamentary majority of 1976 to form a new government! This was a criminal position not only because it abandoned the proletariat’s historic and immediate class goals. It did not even address the growing democratic illusions of the masses.

The political tide was turning away from the Peronists and towards the Radicals, clearly around the issue of “democracy not authoritarianism”. Alfonsin was able to portray Peronist corrupt corporatism as being little different from the military that displaced it in the 1976 coup. The idea of appealing to the status quo ante was suicidal. Even working class members and supporters of the Communist Party were being drawn behind the Radicals’ campaign.

Under these conditions the focus for political democracy should have been the call for a revolutionary constituent assembly, convened, supervised and defended by the mass workers’ and human rights organisations. This would have cut against the shallow and deceitful calls for democracy by the Radicals, who nevertheless were only too happy to work within the framework dictated by the retiring military junta. It would have aided the working class to break free from the Bonapartist political structures of the Peronist movement. Most importantly, it could have engaged all those determined to prevent the military from getting legal backing for their judicial whitewash over the “disappeared”.

But the MAS, when it came to political slogans, as well as its social programme, took its point of departure not from the revolutionary interests of the working class but from a schema based on a systematic centrist adaptation to Peronism’s influence in the working class.

The platform of the MAS, like all centrist programmes, does includes some elements extracted from the communist programme. This might tempt the unwary into thinking that here we have a qualitative improvement on reformism or nationalism. But the essence of the revolutionary programme does not lie in the excellence of one or another individual demands, but in the combination of them into a strategy for the conquest of power. A party, like the MAS, which routinely stands in elections on a platform that only includes disconnected parts of this revolutionary strategy and mixes them with parts of its direct opposite, the strategy of reform, is a party that would lead the working class to disaster in any serious test of the class struggle.

The October 1983 elections were a disaster for the MAS. Despite throwing thousands of members into the field, despite a supposedly vote-winning slogan of “A socialist Argentina, without generals or capitalists”, despite opening 600 local offices throughout the country,13 and despite a claimed 60,000 affiliated voters,14 the MAS only mustered around a third of the PST’s share of the vote in the 1970s. They polled less than 1% of the popular vote.15

Meanwhile the Radical Party candidate, Alfonsin, swept the board with 52% of the votes cast. This outcome did not sit easily with the MAS analysis, shortly before the elections, that Argentina had entered a revolutionary situation.16

Not only were the election results poor for the MAS, but the campaign had not led to any qualitative change in the structure and size of the organisation. The vast majority of members were still the “Trotskyists” of the PST. Both as an electoral front and as a recruiting stunt, the MAS was an abject failure. In these circumstances, the conversion of the organisation into an avowedly “Trotskyist” organisation was a simple affair.17

Nahuel Moreno recognised that one of his famous “self-criticisms” was called for. In the past they never resulted in any lasting change in political method, merely a temporary change in direction. Moreno accepted that there had been “an electoralist deviation”:

“We became drunk with our successes and with the welcome we received, and we stopped being objective. We stopped seeing reality, we stopped listening, we stopped recognising what was really happening in the working class.” 18

In fact, the criticism was only prompted by the failure of the opportunism to bring the expected results. In typical centrist fashion the search for scapegoats began with the working class whose “political backwardness” 19 was held to account, rather than the MAS’ failure to relate to the key concerns of the working class.

The leadership’s “self-criticism” was designed to pre-empt a more searching examination of the systematic centrist method that lay behind years of seemingly isolated tactical mistakes. Moreno swiftly shuffled off the blame: “It was a mistake by the whole party, by the rank and file as well as by the leadership.” 20 Perhaps the leadership should censure the membership for failing to correct it, indeed for leading it astray!

The inconsequential nature of such “self-criticism” was clear from the next bout of opportunist electoralism. The first two years of Alfonsin’s rule were dominated by the workers’ economic struggle. Disillusioned by the IMF-inspired austerity programmes that the government imposed upon them workers were returning to the fray.

By mid 1985 inflation was 2,000% p.a. By August that year real wages were 27% down on July 1984. In July 1985 Alfonsin froze prices and wages and an immediate recession set in for the rest of the year, with many job losses.

Workers fought back. In 1984 there were 717 strikes involving 4.5 million workers. In January of that year the CGT—which had split under the military—fused again. Moreover, a wave of new union elections strengthened rank and file organisation. In May 1985 the regime was rocked by two general strikes in protest against attacks on workers’ living standards. However, despite these struggles the Peronist CGT leadership remained firmly in control and committed to a social contract with the Alfonsin government.

On the political front the failure of the Peronist Justicialist Party to regain power in the October 1983 elections had led to it splitting into thirty different currents. By 1985, with growing disillusion in Alfonsin and many dissident Peronists emerging in opposition to the CGT leaders’ betrayals, the MAS was ready to return to the electoral arena, using the same method as before. Long negotiations with the Argentine Communist Party (PCA) and “Workers’ Peronism” led to the setting up in Autumn 1985 of the Frente del Pueblo (FREPU—Peoples’ Front).

FREPU’s programme was essentially a duplicate of the reformist MAS programme of thirty months previously. Its “socialist” demands were limited to calls for a ten year moratorium on the repayment of the debt, nationalisation of the banks and monopolies and for land reform. The question of the state was once more dealt with reformist sensitivity to the class rule of the bourgeoisie: “For the full respect and application of the democratic liberties contained in the National Constitution”,21 one of which, as in all bourgeois constitutions, was the right to hold private property!

Given the disillusionment with Alfonsin and the disarray in the Peronist Justicialist Party both main parties suffered a drop of 6% in their vote. The November elections indicated a polarisation of political life. The PI, a left split from the Radicals, got 6% in third place while FREPU won 360,000 votes (2%). On the right the UCD too doubled its vote over 1983.

But what did the workers vote for when they put a cross in the FREPU box? The lightweight reformist programme and the emphasis on state capitalist measures all corresponded to the bourgeois nationalist reformism of the Peronism. So too did the FREPU’s “FP” symbol, which deliberately aped the V-sign “FP” of the Peronists! In political terms it was the Peronist workers who had won over the “socialists” to their programme not vice versa!

Thus the vanguard workers could express their dissatisfaction with the disarray of the Justicialist Party while still not breaking from the limits of the Peronist programme in its leftist guise.

For the PCA, this gross adaptationism was hardly surprising. Stalinism has made the class collaborationist popular front a hallmark of its anti-working class politics since 1935. Such lifelong reformists and the “Workers’ Peronism” can agree on their fundamental perspective: the preservation and reform of the capitalist state. But for revolutionaries there can be no compromise on this question.

Revolutionaries win over reformist workers to their banner by united action around concrete struggles, and by an indefatigable struggle against reformist illusions, not by peddling such nonsense to the masses. But this was not the method of Moreno’s centrism in 1985, nor before, nor afterwards.

Argentina has always been the centre of the IWL’s activity. An International Executive Committee meeting in April 1988 restated the position by claiming that “Argentina is the central axis of the world revolution” 22 and that “the responsibility and the central task of the whole IWL-FI and in particular of its leadership is to maintain and deepen the political turn towards Argentina”. 23

The economic and political situation in Argentina in 1987-88 was not stable, but in many ways the most militant working class challenges to Alfonsin had already taken place. The army was restless, both because of the failure of the government to control the working class and also because of Alfonsin’s ambiguity faced with pressure to bring those responsible for atrocities and torture to trial. There were a series of barracks revolts (especially Easter 1987) and rumours abounded of an attempted coup.

In fact in April 1987 Alfonsin managed to steer a middle way by using the threat of a military coup to get all the major opposition parties—including the PCA—to sign a “Pact for Democratic Compromise” which involved fundamental concessions to the military.

The MAS refused to sign the pact and the FREPU electoral bloc with the PCA broke up. For the next period the MAS drifted with the stream, uncertain of how to orient itself. The September congressional and municipal elections of 1987 saw a revival in the fortunes of the Peronist party, which won important seats and major cities were brought back under its control.

Within a year, however, the decisive question of the PCA’s pro-Alfonsin position was forgotten, and the MAS was courting the Stalinists once again. In October 1988 the Izquierda Unida (IU—United Left) was set up between the MAS, the PCA and a number of fringe bourgeois and petit bourgeois parties. As with the FREPU, the IU’s programme was carefully tailored—first to suit the reformist politics of the PCA, then so as not to “scare off” the bourgeois nationalists.24

The IWL hailed the IU as having “a working class, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist programme”.25 Yet the programme envisages a parliamentary, reformist road to “socialism” (although the word is never mentioned!) Far from calling for the expropriation of capitalist property it only dares call for price controls on the leading companies “where they agree”!

In a situation where inflation was running at over 80% per month, the MAS did not even dare press the IU to raise the slogan of a sliding scale of wages! A strange form of “anti-capitalism”! Yet again the Morenoites jettisoned revolutionary baggage as the price of a rotten alliance with Stalinists and bourgeois nationalists.

In June 1988 the Third Congress of the MAS argued that the growing tensions in Argentine society would bring about:

“. . . the struggle of classes for political power. That is to say, the triumph of the workers’ revolution, the socialist October, or the bourgeois counter-revolution. Because the aim now is not the change of regime but the change of the class in power, to establish a workers’ state.” 26

The May 1989 parliamentary elections bought a sweeping victory for President-elect Menem’s Justicialist Party. But also at long last it brought a measure of success to the MAS’s electoralism. The IU garnered 500,000 votes, enough to win a national deputy’s seat for the MAS public figurehead, Luis Zamora, and a regional deputy’s seat for Silvia Diaz. The MAS felt the wind in their sails; the leadership felt even bigger successes lay just around the corner.

On 28 May 1989 the masses of Rosario, Argentina’s second city, rebelled against the 12,000% p.a. hyper-inflation in a three-day riot which left 15 dead and hundreds of shops looted. Barricades were set up and a state of emergency was declared. The following issue of the IWL journal, Correo Internacional, proclaimed “The socialist revolution has begun” and went on to explain that:

“Without instructions or political leadership and without institutionalising as yet an alternative workers’ power, they have made a massive popular anti-capitalist insurrection in the true Leninist sense.” 27

This revolutionary hyperbole was as far from Leninism as the reformist electoral programme on which they won their parliamentary seats. What is an “anti-capitalist insurrection in the true Leninist sense” except the seizure of state power by the armed militias of workers’ councils led by the revolutionary party? It is organised and planned action to resolve the duality of power which already exists in a fully developed revolutionary situation. Indeed, with an insurrection one can say that socialist revolution has been successful, not “begun”.

What in fact occurred in Rosario was a mass spontaneous uprising against the misery imposed by the government’s austerity measures. But without conscious, organised leadership it did not even develop into a nationwide strike wave let alone approach the creation of a situation of dual power. In short it did not herald the start of the socialist revolution but warned the bourgeoisie of the mounting tide of resentment to its policies.

This crass impressionism was codified at the Fourth Congress of the MAS, which drew a parallel between the Menem government and the Provisional Government set up by Kerensky after the February 1917 revolution. The implication was clear: if February was behind the Argentine masses, October could not be far away!

The MAS claimed that Argentina was characterised by “an atomised dual power” composed of various rank and file co-ordinating committees, trade unions and popular soup kitchens! 28

“We can win,” they argued, “because the government and the regime are weak, because the masses are struggling, because Peronism has split apart and because the party is winning mass influence.” 29 Are the masses then supposed to take state power armed only with soup ladles?

With a claimed circulation of 85,000 for the newspaper (but a membership stable at around 6,000) the MAS sought to orient towards Peronist workers disoriented and outraged by the actions of “their” government. This was of course absolutely necessary. The MAS proclaimed it had the intention of organising a “principled opposition”:

“We can and we must organise these hundreds of thousands of workers; act so that they naturally choose to take their place in the groups or amongst our periphery, as part of the party . . . Our proposal for action, which we address to the masses, and in particular to the Peronist workers who reflect the disarray of their party, is to call on them to build our party with us. We must do everything possible to encourage the Peronist workers to join our groups and branches! We must build the party with them!” 30

But the programme the MAS held out to these Peronist workers was as usual woefully inadequate. As well as overestimating the collapse of Peronism’s influence in the working class and the weakness of the Menem government, the MAS’s programme did not offer the critical Peronist worker a radical break with the politics they were supposedly gravitating away from.

The “revolutionary party” was to be built on a programme centred around four headings:

“Against the Menem government, for a workers’ and socialist government; For rank and file control! For democratic self-determination and of the labour and popular movement!; For the unification of the struggles of the Southern Cone of Latin America; Build the party together!” 31

As with the previous programmes put forward by the MAS for the masses, there was no call for the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, for occupations, a general strike or for the sliding scale of wages; there was not one mention of the nature of the state or of the need to create workers’ defence squads to defend strikes and occupations and prepare themselves against the intervention of the army.

Most tellingly there was no programme for resolving the “atomised dual power” which the MAS claimed to be able to detect, no unifying or centralising demands that could overcome the atomisation and create, actual, developed dual power, i.e. genuine soviet-type bodies. No, for the MAS “rank and file control” was to be limited to the democratisation of the Peronist trade unions and support for the soup kitchens. This centrist paradox has always been a hallmark of Morenoism: a wild exaggeration of the revolutionary situation and a scandalously non-revolutionary programme for intervening in it.

Despite such intoxicating illusions it was not long before the real balance of class forces in Argentina after Menem’s election made itself felt in the MAS. The riots in Rosario were not the harbinger of revolution, the Argentine masses were not flooding into the MAS.

During the next two years Menem tore up many of the traditional planks of the Peronist-CGT alliance, rooted above all in state-owned industries and public sector services. Struggles against this did occur, often bitter and protracted ones. But the intervention of the CGT bureaucracy ensured their defeat and this pointed up the glaring crisis of leadership within the working class.32

By the autumn of 1991, sections of the IWL leadership began to admit that all was not as they had foreseen. And, as always, the key was Argentina. Despite having suggested in 1990 that support for the MAS was running at 16% in the Buenos Aires region, in the October 1991 elections the MAS got a mere 2.5% of the votes. Peronism, far from being fatally split, gathered together its forces and won a decisive victory in the elections.

The IWL’s explanation was straightforward:

“When Menem came to power he embodied the mass mobilisations and, for this reason, was weak. But the simple fact of staying in government and thus preserving the bourgeois democratic regime, despite the chaotic situation, enabled him to resolve the revolutionary crisis.” 33

If the IWL had been more honest they would have said: Menem did not embody the mass mobilisations, rather he embodied the masses’ illusions that a stop could be put to Alfonsin’s programme by a return to traditional Peronist measures. In short austerity could be stopped without further mass mobilisations. The expected mass radicalisation did not come about. Menem was able to use his Peronist credentials and democratic mandate to take on and defeat the workers section by section.

The hold of Peronism over the union bureaucracy greatly aided the imposition of a horrendous austerity programme which made the Argentine masses pay for the defeat of hyper-inflation. “Menem will not be able to derail this movement” the MAS had boasted.34 And yet that is just what Menem was able to do.

Nothing had happened the way the MAS had predicted. A culprit would have to be found. Stalinism fitted the bill perfectly. First, as far as Argentina was concerned, then on the world stage. As far as the MAS’s failure was concerned, this was explained thus. The Argentine bourgeoisie, like its brothers and sisters all over the world, had launched an ideological offensive identifying Stalinism with socialism (something the Stalinists had been fairly keen on, and which the IWL had been ambiguous about).

Despite breaking the proposed joint list with the PCA shortly before the elections (because of allegations of corruption), the existence of this “electoral alliance with the Argentine CP, that is the agent of the Stalinist bureaucracy in that country, had also weakened the Argentine Trotskyists’ ability to oppose this campaign of the bourgeoisie.” 35

In other words, thanks to a lack of political differentiation by the MAS, the differences between Trotskyism and Stalinism were not obvious to the working class. The MAS’s long-term electoral identification with the PCA had finally paid off—or rather backfired.

In December 1990 the MAS held an Extraordinary Congress. The leadership was split over perspectives and programme. At the subsequent Congress, held in spring 1991, around a third of the membership formed a “Moreno-ist tendency” arguing that the seizure of power was still close, that the crisis of Stalinism and of Peronism would inevitably bring their fruits and that the electoral alliance with the PCA must be maintained at all costs.

Not surprisingly, this grouping was led by those who had gained most from the strategic electoralist perspective of Morenoism, the MAS’s two parliamentary representatives, Zamora and Diaz.

The Fourth World Congress of the IWL, held in February/March 1992 was fiercely contested. Split into four tendencies, the IWL began a process of blood-letting and factional feuding which still continues. In the firing line were the perspectives the organisation had been functioning with, which were, in fact, methodologically the continuation of those adopted in 1982.

The IWL leadership ignored this essential point and concentrated on the most obvious errors, rather than seeking to find the root of the problem. As in Argentina, the IWL pinned the blame fairly and squarely on Stalinism’s ability to bewilder the poor Trotskyists by not collapsing in the way Moreno had predicted:

“At its Second and Third Congresses (July 1989 and May 1990), the IWL(FI) adopted an orientation which, today, the whole of the International agrees was ‘globally mistaken’. The two previous Congresses had mechanically drawn from the terminal crisis of Stalinism the mistaken conclusion that ‘the hour of Trotskyism’ had sounded and that the possibility had thus opened of ‘new Octobers’—that is of revolutions led by revolutionary Marxists. This superficial and ‘objectivist’ analysis led to the main sections of the International orienting themselves towards the ‘construction of mass parties’, also posing, in the case of Argentina, the question of the preparation of ‘the struggle for power’. The balance-sheet adopted by a majority at the Fourth Congress indicated that this orientation, ultra-left in its characterisations, had in practice led to a classic opportunist deviation.” 36

The Zamora-Diaz tendency, organised into the International Moreno-ist Tendency (IMT), had around 15% of the delegates, and basically argued for the line to continue as before. No sooner had the Congress finished its work than the MAS split. Shortly before May Day the “Moreno-ist Tendency” (MT), led by Diaz and Zamora, left taking around one third of the membership with them.

This has provided the remaining MAS leaders with a perfect opportunity to restore their flagging left credibility.37 In a speech to the 1 May rally MAS leader Ernesto González stated:

“In taking advantage of elections and other success, we forgot that our raison d’être was the workers’ movement. We dedicated ourselves more to the election campaigns than to binding ourselves closely to our class. We adapted to a democracy which is not ours, which is not workers’ democracy, but an electoral and parliamentary farce of the bourgeoisie and imperialism . . . We thought that the alliances with other currents that work in the labour movement, such as the Communist Party, were more important than the consolidation of the revolutionary party. At the same time we covered over this opportunist course with a shallow and foolish analysis of the world and Argentine reality. This got worse because, at the same time, in Europe the anti-bureaucratic revolution broke out. While the Berlin Wall fell and the workers started to crush the bureaucrats and the communist parties, we appeared in front of the masses arm in arm with Patricio Echegaray [PCA leader].” 38

There is more than a hint of opportunism in this. For decades many workers identified in the USSR and Cuba some kind of “socialism” and the MAS was happy enough to accommodate to this. Now that has changed and the MAS’s previous electoral allies must be dumped.

The truth is the defection of Zamora is functional for the MAS leaders. But the critique of the electoralist deviation is still only skin deep. As long as the MAS leaders affirm the record of “maestro” Moreno up to his death, until they go to the roots of the centrist degeneration of the FI between 1948 and 1951 all the errors will return.

In the wake of the MAS’s acknowledgement that the seizure of power was not on the agenda, the sections, which had all been faultless in their defence of the MAS’s opportunism, suddenly discovered their voice and spoke out with a bitterness born of betrayal. One of the leaders of the French section, which for many years had been reduced to a publicity agency for its Argentine comrades, expressed himself in the following way:

“It was in Argentina the deviation reached its culmination. Misinterpreting the first developments of the political revolution in the East, losing their heads following organisational successes which could partly be explained by conjunctural factors . . . the leadership of the MAS launched itself into adventurist speculations about the possibility of a short-term seizure of power by the workers . . . The drift from a conjunctural tactic which should serve to break up the obstacle represented by the Argentine Stalinist party to the conception of a quasi-strategic alliance (like the policy of the USFI), [was] spectacularly expressed at the May 1990 Congress of the MAS, when a section of the leadership went so far as to envisage the formation of a common party with the PCA.” 39

More significant still, two tendencies—the Tendency for the Unity and Reorientation of the IWL, based in Brazil and Europe, and the Colombian section—criticised the IEC majority, arguing that programmatic re-elaboration was necessary.

If either of these two critical tendencies want to go to the heart of the recent errors then they must re-examine the very foundations of the IWL and the MAS. Agreeing to dissolve the tendencies and settling for another Congress in 1994 will not help the process of breaking with the past. Despite the recent turn, the IWL is far from having broken with its centrist method.

An opportunistically motivated break with Stalinist bloc partners is not the same as repudiation of the method of the “revolutionary united front” and the restless search for non-Trotskyist half-way homes to reside in. Without such a repudiation other bloc partners—such as Peronists—will be courted in the future.

Many of the criticisms voiced now inside the IWL were made three, four and even ten years ago by the LRCI. Our criticisms were indignantly rejected then by members of the IWL. Today they have adopted some of them. The IWL has said that one of the themes of its next Congress will be “programmatic re-elaboration”. Three years ago, whilst the IWL was dreaming of taking power in Buenos Aires, the LRCI actually performed this fundamental programmatic task.

Our re-elaborated Transitional Programme, the Trotskyist Manifesto, provides many of the answers the revolutionary critics in and around the IWL are looking for. Our tradition, our intervention and our critical analyses can aid comrades who have seen through Morenoism but have not lost the ability to think and the will to struggle.

If we were to reach programmatic unity and a common democratic centralist discipline this would be a great leap forward in the work of reviving authentic Trotskyism. A starting point must be a critical examination of the whole history of Morenoism, and its roots in the centrist degeneration of the Fourth International.

 

NOTES

1 Less than a year earlier, amidst much pomp, they had fused with Pierre Lambert’s international organisation to set up the Fourth International (International Committee) (FI-IC). The FI-IC had been greeted by its creators as “the greatest step forward since the creation of the Communist International”. Within nine months the FI-IC had split into its component parts, blown apart by the political differences which it had sought to paper over.

2 See Trotskyist International 1, Summer 1988, for our critique of Morenoism up to 1979

3 LST (France) Bulletin Interne 4, p5

4 LST (France) Bulletin Interne, 29.9.83

5 Quoted in R Munck, Latin America: The Transition to Democracy (London 1989, p107)

6 “Projet de document national” (15.9.82) Bulletin Interne LST (France), N° 5, 1982, p9

7 Ibid., p12

8 Ibid. This opportunist project was not new. In 1972 Moreno had formed the PST by fusing with Carlos Coral’s social-democratic Partido Socialista d’Argentina.

9 L. Trotsky, The crisis of the French section (New York 1977) p97

10 Solidaridad Socialista 22.4.83

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid

13 MAS Internal Circular N° 27, 4.11.83

14 Tribune Ouvrière, 20.5.83, p4

15 This included 42,359 votes in the presidential elections.

16 Tribune Ouvrière 17, October 1983, p4. Despite this assertion, the key slogans advanced by the MAS for 1984, far from centering on the question of taking power as might be expected, were essentially economic demands calling for pay increases, for the reinstatement of workers sacked during the military junta, for factory meetings and the election of shop stewards. This failure to take its own analysis seriously suggests that, at most, Argentina was going through a pre-revolutionary situation in 1983-84. MAS Central Committee perspectives document 8.12.83

17 After all, Moreno had already gone through the process once before, following the failure of the initial PST bloc with Coral to attract the masses.

18 MAS Internal Circular N° 27, 4.11.83, p1

19 See R Munck op. cit.

20 MAS Internal Circular N° 27, 4.11.83, p1

21 Tribune Ouvrière 30, 29.11.85, p20

22 Tribune Ouvrière 52, July 1988, p12

23 Ibid.

24 For a reproduction of the IU programme and our full critique, see Trotskyist International 3, Summer 1989, p58-62

25 International Courier 38, January 1989, p37

26 Courrier International, November 1989, p28

27 Tribune Ouvrière 59, September 1989, p2

28 Tribune Ouvrière 60, October 1989, p5

29 Ibid., p4

30 Tribune Ouvrière 60, October 1989, pp8-10

31 Ibid., pp9-10

32 See the comments on Argentina in the article on South America in this issue.

33 Coordination 10, November 1991, p7

34 International Courier, November 1989, p21

35 Coordination 10, November 1991, p8

36 Coordination 14, April 1992, p6

37 Hoping that the rank and file will not remember Moreno’s conception of the MAS, they have had the cheek to claim that “the MT defended the conception of a ‘party of action’, the politics of which would be expressed in three or four slogans, as against the Leninist-Trotskyist-Morenoite(!) conception of a party of socialism with a transitional programme, building itself through a combination of agitational, propagandistic and organisational tasks.”

Coordination Supplément International 5, May 1992, p23

38 Solidaridad Socialista 6.5.92

39 Coordination Supplément International 5, May 1992, p23

 

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On the Anniversary of the August Uprising in 2011

On the Anniversary of the August Uprising in 2011

by Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 7.8.2012

 

Exactly one year ago, the ruling class in Britain was shattered by a mass uprising of the poor, the migrants and the youth. Because of this anniversary we republish the articles we wrote at this time.

* The August Uprising in Britain – A Report of the RKOB delegation on its visit in London in August 2011

* The strategic task: From the uprising to the revolution! These are not “riots” – this is an uprising of the poor in the cities of Britain!

* What would a revolutionary organisation have done? August uprising of the poor, the nationally and racially oppressed in Britain

* Britain: “The left” and the August Uprising 2011

www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain

 

This August Uprising – as we in the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) call it – was a historic event. It marked the entering of the class struggle by the lower strata of the working class and the nationally and racially oppressed.

Despite all its limitations and weaknesses it was definitely one of the most important class struggles in Britain since the miner strike 1984/85. According to Scotland Yard more than 30.000 working class youth, black and migrants on the streets fought against the police and expressed their anger. It forced the Tory/Liberal-Democrat government to mobilize 16.000 police men and women on the street to put down the uprising and even to consider the use of the army against its own population.

We wrote last year: “This uprising was a sign of the things to come. A correct assessment of this event, drawing the right conclusion and employing the necessary revolutionary tactics are of decisive importance because in the coming years we will see a number of similar spontaneous uprisings of the lower or middle strata of the proletariat. And we will see such events not only in Britain again but also in a number of other imperialist countries.

Because of this we studied and analyzed the August Uprising closely. We published a number of articles and sent a delegation to London. We elaborated the revolutionary tactics in such a situation as good as possible for an organization without a presence on the ground. We also had to acknowledge the pathetic or even openly treacherous position which most of the centrist left took faced with this spontaneous outburst of class hatred. It was certainly a good test to see how revolutionary – or better un-revolutionary – most of the self-proclaimed “revolutionary left” are. We noted last year that this failure is not an accident but rather the inevitable result of the capitulation of centrism to the reformist bureaucracy and labor aristocracy. They are unwilling or incapable to understand the central role of the lower strata of the working class – which include in particular migrants and nationally and racially oppressed. These layers are of decisive importance for the class struggle and in particular for the revolutionizing of the workers movement which is dominated by the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy with all their hatred and ignorance for the militant class struggle.

The most important lesson is the burning necessity to build a new revolutionary Workers International with nationally rooted combat parties. Such parties must be based on the working class and in particular the lower and middle strata and not its well-paid and bribed aristocracy. Only such parties can give a lead in spontaneous Uprisings like the one in August 2011 in Britain.

However such an International – which in our opinion will be the Fifth International based on a revolutionary programme – will not emerge by itself. It needs the conscious and organized efforts of consistent revolutionary communists. Their task is to elaborate the programmatic foundations for such an International and test them as much as possible in the practice of the international class struggle. They must fight against all forms of petty-bourgeois influence inside the workers movement – be it in its reformist, centrist or populist version. They need the closest possible international unity because only as a united collective based on democratic centralism they can intervene effectively in the international class struggle.

In short, what is necessary now is the international unity of all consistent revolutionary communists. This is what the RCIT is fighting for. We appeal to all revolutionaries around the world to join us in this effort to fight jointly for a new revolutionary Workers International!

 

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