In the Wake of the PSTU/LIT-CI Split, What Lessons Can Be Learned?
An Open Letter to Members and Sympathizers of the International Workers League (Fourth International)
Issued by the International Secretariat of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency and Corrente Comunista Revolucionária (Brazil Section of the RCIT), 11.7.2016, www.thecommunists.net
Dear comrades of the LIT-CI,
Without doubt, the split in the PSTU – the largest section of the LIT – is an important event, not only because it involves nearly half of the Brazilian section’s membership, but also because it reflects fundamental problems within this organization.
As you are well aware, the immediate cause for the split was the shameful, neutral, abstentionist position of the PSTU majority during the institutional coup of the big bourgeoisie in Brazil against the popular front government of Dilma Rousseff, which was overthrown with the complicity of the judicial branch of the state apparatus, the private media as well as the neoliberal right-wing opposition. Even today the unrepentant PSTU leadership refuses to form a united front with the reformist mass organizations FBP, FPSM, CUT, MST, MSTS, etc. aimed at mobilizing against the right-wing, neoliberal government of Temer!
At the same time the PSTU leadership combines such Third Campist sectarianism with the arch-opportunist call for a general strike demanding new general parliamentary elections! What would be the result of such general elections? A strengthening of the right-wing parties? A consolidation of the PT? How on earth can revolutionaries possibly want to orient the working class vanguard to such a parliamentary electoral maneuver which would only stabilize the capitalist regime?!
The PSTU minority, which initiated the split, appears to have criticized this policy and certainly justifiably so!
The RCIT and its section in Brazil characterize the PSTU leadership’s abstentionist position as an outright betrayal of the working class movement. Of course, revolutionaries could not have given any political support to the Popular Front government led by the reformist PT, as the latter made a reactionary coalition with the openly bourgeois PMSB and accommodated to the bourgeoisie by initiating neoliberal reforms. But this was hardly the reason that the PMSB left the coalition and why the united big bourgeoisie overthrew the government in an institutionalized coup. Instead, for the PMSB, the reason was that the Popular Front government did not go far enough with its adaption to neoliberalism. In this, the PT was hampered by its broad social base, i.e., the support it derives from the trade unions, the peasant organizations, the organizations of the urban poor, etc. It is precisely because of this base that the PT-led government was forced to introduce social programs like the Bolsa Família.
The big bourgeoisie – with the support of US imperialism – instigated the coup because it wanted to impose a right-wing government which was not limited by its social base in implementing a full blown neoliberal attack on the working class and the poor. And this is the main reason that the reformist mass organizations of the working class and the poor mobilized against the coup, and are now mobilizing against the Temer government.
The institutional bourgeois coup against the government of Dilma Rousseff was an attack against the popular masses. It was the responsibility of revolutionaries to understand this, and to have called for a united front with the reformist mass organizations against the putschists. Revolutionaries should have participated in the anti-coup mass demonstrations, without having given any political support to the government of Dilma Rousseff. They should have combined the struggle against the coup with a perspective of breaking the working class and their organizations away from the popular front and building a strong revolutionary party. This was in fact the consistent policy of the RCIT and its Brazilian section which we attempted to implement as well as possible given our limited forces. (1)
Comrades of the LIT: An organization like the PSTU, which claims to represent the vanguard, completely fails to give the popular masses any direction if it is incapable of differentiating between the popular front and the putschists; between Kerensky and Kornilov; between Negrin and Franco.
The policy of the PSTU leadership was ostensibly ultra-left, but in fact it was mainly an adaption to the reactionary prejudices of the liberal middle class milieu which despises the PT for its support among the supposedly “unenlightened” workers and poor.
Comrades, many of you may have largely agreed with our criticism of the PSTU’s policy during the playing out of the institutional coup. But lest you think that this was simply an isolated error in judgment by the PSTU’s leadership, we say unequivocally: No, this was no isolated error but the inevitable result of an incorrect political method.
Look at the shameful position of the LIT leadership during the military coup in Egypt, or the pro-Western imperialist mobilizations in the Ukraine against the Yanukovych government with the participation of significant fascist forces. In the case of Egypt, the LIT leadership welcomed the bloody coup of General Sisi of 3 July 2013 as an expression of the ongoing revolutionary process in Egypt! What a scandalous assessment for a coup in which the old guard of Mubarak – with the support of all the Great Powers (e.g., US, EU, Russia, China) – took power, massacred thousands of people and abolished the democratic rights which the masses had achieved in 2011! The RCIT and its comrades in the Middle East opposed the military coup from the start, and called for a united front of the organizations of the working class and the people (including Islamist mass organizations) to resist the murderous putschists. (2)
In the Ukraine, the LIT leadership hailed the insurrection led by the fascist Right Sector (with the support of US imperialism) at the end of February 2014 as a “democratic revolution.” Surely, revolutionaries could not defend the Yanukovych government, which was clearly a lackey of Russian imperialism. But to have supported, from start to finish, the reactionary mobilizations which were initiated and controlled by the US and EU imperialists and the right-wing and fascist opposition parties! – This is nothing but an outright mockery of Marxism! (3)
Comrades of the LIT: How could all of this have happened? Are such betrayals isolated mistakes? No. When a leadership repeatedly fails to analyze major events of the international class struggle during the past few years, this is no accident; it is rather the product of a terribly faulty method!
These repeated failures are derived from the LIT’s method, which can be characterized as “fatalist objectivism” and “opportunist processim.” The LIT leadership believes that the “objective process” will inevitably push all political mobilizations and movements in a progressive direction – irrespective of their leaderships, their social class compositions, and the relation of forces. While this method may be justified in a very general way with regards to the crisis of capitalism and the objective need for the socialist revolution, Trotsky scornfully dubbed it “fatalist objectivism.” Captive of this overly simplistic method, the LIT leadership completely ignores the living forces of the class struggle and the “the importance of class-conscious revolutionary activity in history“ (Trotsky). Consequently, the LIT leadership’s phrases about the “revolutionary process” hide an opportunist adaption to the liberal middle class.
Yes, capitalism faces an historic crisis and we are living in an historic period in which the socialist revolution is on the agenda. However, and unfortunately, capitalism in decay not only knows that the socialist revolution as a way out of the crisis, but that there is also an alternative: barbarism. In fact, in such an historic period of the capitalist crisis as that which commenced in 2008, both the class struggle of the workers and the oppressed and the attacks of the reactionary forces are advancing and accelerating!
In such a period, it is vital that revolutionaries combine a transitional program for working class independence and for socialist revolution with a concrete policy of the united front tactic. Such a policy takes into account the concrete dynamic of the class struggle; it differentiates between the direct, immediate aggressors against the working class and the oppressed and the rotten reformist and populist traitors who inhabit the upper echelons of the mass popular organizations. Such a Marxist policy allows us as revolutionaries to both denounce the reformist and populist leaderships while at the same time apply the united front tactic which appeals to the base of these mass organizations, by calling for joint actions (and placing demands for such joint action on their leaderships).
Such a policy – or even initially only consistent propaganda and agitation for it – demands the existence of an authentic revolutionary organization. Such an organization must not succumb to forming strategic alliances – or even a joint non-revolutionary party – with reformist or centrist forces (like the PSOL in Brazil). This would just be another form of opportunism – opportunism in party building. No, such an organization must fight for a revolutionary program and for working class independence. It must strive to build the revolutionary party as the highest organizational form of proletarian class consciousness. It must keep the vanguard aware of the revolutionary character of the present historic period and fight against all forms of petty-bourgeois pessimism (like the one we are supposedly experiencing in a period characterized by the collapse of Stalinism and a regression in the class consciousness).
At the same time such a revolutionary organization must intervene in the class struggle with a correct assessment of the different class forces and must implement the united front tactic to mass organizations which, unfortunately, still rally the majority of the class conscious workers and oppressed behind them. Doing so is the only way to break the reformist and populist workers and oppressed away from their treacherous leaderships!
We fear that the comrades who split from the PSTU have not sufficiently understood the methodological failures of the LIT. They wrote in their public statement: “We recognize the PSTU as a revolutionary organization. We do not think it is less revolutionary than before. But sometimes it is impossible for revolutionaries belonging to the same organization. (…) We remain, therefore, in the framework of the International Workers League, as a sympathizing section.” We ask the comrades: If the PSTU is indeed a revolutionary organization, and the only difference is tactical, why the split? In fact, the comrades themselves probably suspect that the political problems are much deeper, but they have yet to draw the correct political conclusions from their organizational split.
The RCIT is building such an organization. We appeal to all comrades from the LIT – majority as well as minority – to reconsider the method of their leadership and to enter into discussions and collaborations with the RCIT! Comrades, now is the time to draw the right lessons from the past struggles and to jointly build a revolutionary world party fighting for the socialist revolution!
(1) See on this the documents of the RCIT:
CCR: Brazil: After Rousseff’s Impeachment, Temer’s Interim Government Deepens Attacks on Brazilian Workers. The coup was mainly against the workers and social movements, 12 June 2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/brazil-temer-government/
CCR: Brazil: The Arrest of Lula da Silva – Yet Another Step in the Creeping Coup. For the Organization of Struggle Committees! For Mass Demonstrations against Those Plotting the Coup! But No Confidence for the Pro-Austerity PT-PMDB Government! 9.3.2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/arrest-lula/
CCR: Brazil: No to Impeachment! No to the Call for New Elections! All workers and oppressed: Out into the streets of Brazil to fight against the threat of a coup! The anti-coup struggle should be in conjunction with the class struggle against the austerity attacks of the government! 6.12.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/brazil-impeachment/
(2) See on this the documents of the RCIT:
RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/
RCIT: General Sisi – The Butcher of the Egyptian People – Sentences another 683 People to Death, 1.5.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-mass-death-sentences/
Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d’État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-and-left-army-socialism/
Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d’État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics, 17.7.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-meaning-of-coup-d-etat/
(3) See on this the documents of the RCIT:
Michael Pröbsting: The Minsk Agreement and the Civil War in the Ukraine, 20.2.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/minsk-agreement/
Michael Pröbsting: The Uprising in East Ukraine and Russian Imperialism. An Analysis of Recent Developments in the Ukrainian Civil War and their Consequences for Revolutionary Tactics, 22.October 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/ukraine-and-russian-imperialism/
RCIT: After the Fascist Pogrom in Odessa: Advance the Struggle against the Counterrevolution in the Ukraine! Commemoration for the Fallen Fighters in the Struggle against the Counterrevolution! All Out for the International Day of Antifascist Solidarity on 8 May! 6.5.2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 23, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/after-odessa-pogrom/
RCIT: Counterrevolution and Mass Resistance in the Ukraine, 17.4.2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/mass-resistance-in-ukraine/
Joint Statement of the RCIT and the Movement to Socialism (MAS, Russia): Ukraine: Rivalry between Imperialist Powers escalates after Right-Wing Coup: Stop the Imperialist Saber-Rattling! 2.3.2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ukraine-war-threats/
MAS: Ukraine/Russia: The victory over the imperialist colonialism is impossible without the proletarian revolution! in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/mas-declaration-5-3-2014/
RCIT and MAS: Right-Wing Forces Take Power in the Ukraine: Mobilize the Working Class against the New Government! 25.2.2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 19, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/right-wing-coup-in-ukraine/
MAS: No to the Terror of the Bandera-Fascists! Stop the Repression against the Communists of Ukraine! 22.2.2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 19, http://www.nuevomas.blogspot.co.at/2014/02/no-to-terror-of-bandera-fascists-stop.html
RCIT: “Ukraine: Neither Brussels nor Moscow! For an independent Workers’ Republic!” 18.12.2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 18, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ukraine-neither-brussels-nor-moscow/
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