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Stagecoach – Bus drivers Fightback

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In the latest battle for the driver’s seat of Auckland Public Transport Services, the union has made good progress compared with previous strikes. Drivers have so far refused to settle for any of the deals made between union officials and Stagecoach. But they need to do more to win. Drivers have to ‘own’ this dispute!

A Strike Committee made up of rank and file delegates must take over the negotiations. These delegates must be held to their mandate or be replaced. The Strike Committee must build mass pickets, get other unions involved, and negotiate from strength! A fightback based on mass unity, militancy and solidarity is the only way to win!

Picketline Solidarity

The combined unions have built effective pickets – on this strike there were no Stagecoach buses at all on the road –compared with other strikes when the Yellow Bus Co was able to get some drivers scabbing. This time Stagecoach couldn’t organise scabs. Workers were united and no scabs were brave enough to run the picket line! The solidarity was high and there were drivers of many nationalities on the picket line fighting together against the multinational company Stagecoach.

National solidarity

Wellington Stagecoach workers and other Tramways members pledged solidarity and offered financial support. Public support was overwhelmingly high despite the disruption to travel for several days. But this level of solidarity has not yet been enough to win what the drivers want.



The Next Step

Strike committee

All up meetings must elect strike committees to run the struggle, between the all up meetings. Every member must have the right to speak at all-up meetings.
The strike committee must report back to the all-up meetings – and committee members that are not doing what members want, should be recalled from the strike committee. Negotiators must report back to the all-up meetings and provide time for workers to use the open mike to question the progress in negotiations.

All up meetings

It is difficult to organise when workers are so rarely together at the depot. The driver’s work is an individual role driving on the roads. All up meetings of members are vital to plan and organise the fightback. The all-up meeting must be the highest democratic decision making body of the union membership to which delegates and officials are answerable.

“Combined Unions”

As a consequence of past defeated struggles the Tramways union was split. The majority of workers stayed with Tramways while others went to BEES (Bus Employees Enterprise Society), Akarana Drivers Association, and some to the Engineers Union.

Breakaway unions weakened the workers ability to fight.

The BEES tried to find a legal solution without success. Akarana scabbed on previous strikes years ago. Akarana had signed a new contract without referring to the majority of drivers in the union – undermining the Tramways union’s ability to negotiate, and to win a strike. An injury to one is an injury to all – scabbing is an injury to all of the working class. Scabbing divides the strength of workers.

These groups are now re-united for negotiations as well as on the picket line and striking together. But is this unity one of strength or has it just poured polyfiller into the splits between workers? All drivers should be members of the Tramways Union! Those who are not should join now!

Rebuild the union as a fighting, democratic union!

Demand Tramways Union opens the books and declares how much their officials are paid. Officials pay should be on the same scale as workers. We know these officials have political affiliations, including to the Labour party. Opening the books will make all political donations transparent.

Demand all donations are voted on at the all-up meetings.



Build a new union on a new constitution based on:



Open books, recallable officials, a standing delegates committee, and regular all-up members meetings.



Elect all officials at all-up meetings on a show of hands.



Turn mass sympathy into mass support!

Build Strike support

Invite all workers along to support the pickets, especially workers in struggle (nurses, bank workers, Gilmores etc). When we build a mass picket we mean the majority of a working class community coming out to defend the picketline – like the Australian working class did for the Maritime Union in its struggle with Patricks in 1998.  Working class communities can unite around defense of picket lines. Other workers will contribute food and cash as acts of solidarity and drivers need to be open and ready for donations.

Mass Pickets

Through a telephone tree the strike committee can organise mobile pickets prepared to strengthen or set up a picket at short notice in case of any threat to the picket lines. They can also use the mass media to organise – radio stations can be used to send messages around the community, broadcasting a need to strengthen a picket at short notice.

Strike Funds

A task of the strike committee is to distribute a ‘strike wage’ and donations according to workers need. Build a strike committee with support funds, paying a strike wage to workers and organizing real relief within the striking workers. Organise receipt books on the picket lines to account for donations and help distribute them fairly. For a strike committee centre at each depot picketline, and in between strike action and pickets, at the union office.

CTU role

Council of Trade Unions’ president Ross Wilson volunteered to support the struggle by playing a support role in negotiations. This is the job of the strike committee, not a top official committed to building partnerships with the bosses! The CTU should build mass pickets of all union members! Lets see some real support! If striking drivers got regular donations into their strike funds collected from 30,000 CTU members at only $1 each per week – that would make a strike fund! That would be the real sort of practical support that could assist workers to win this fight. Let us see money & muscle, not the mouth coming from the CTU!

International Solidarity

Put the Tramways union website under the control of the union rank and file and use it to make links with the international working class. Stagecoach is an international company. Workers in Sweden and Scotland have also fought the Stagecoach company. Build international links with the unions of these branches. Link your websites and use the International Transport workers’ Federation to make the links. The Public Services International also covers public sector transport workers.

Public Ownership

Taken back under worker’ control, transport planning can end the daily commuting grind. Return the buses to public ownership! No compensation for stagecoach! No subsidies to local, national or international capitalists! For workers councils to run the transport system and organise bus routes and timetables.  

Barriers to overcome are:

Labour Government

In the run up to the election, the Labour party will want to keep a lid on workers struggles. That will mean that union officials who are Labour party members will be prone to selling out, and may need throwing out. Demand that all negotiators are up-front about their party memberships. Be prepared to replace Labour party members in the negotiation team.

Defend workers taking industrial action

When workers take any form of industrial action (eg. refusing to cash in) and are sacked for taking that action, the rest of the workforce must demand any individual victimised is re-instated. Do not abandon individual workers to the processes of industrial law or mediation. The legal road is the bosses road. In Auckland there is a history of individual drivers being sacked and failing to get reinstated along the legal road.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All! When a worker is isolated from other workers they are vulnerable to being picked off by the bosses. Don’t accept any sackings without a workers’ controlled review committee – don’t accept workers being labelled “trouble-makers” by bosses or their lackeys. Do not abandon your workmates, be prepared to strike until victimised workers are reinstated.

Strike Support

Drivers need to organise a community strike support committee. Working class communities can rally around in defence of our fellow workers and public services – a recent example was the support committees at the fire stations, when the fire fighters were in struggle. A weakness of striking workers has been the type of go-it-alone “staunch unionism” that is not ready for support and help from other workers.

Workers strength is other workers, we need to communicate with one other.

Ritchies’ drivers

The NDU covers Ritchies’ workers, however this group of workers has already settled for a lower rate (see box). This divides Auckland’s bus drivers and weakens the fight against Stagecoach (and the council funders). Drivers’ needed to communicate so as not to undermine each other. The Labour law gives opportunity for Multi-Employer and Multi-Union Collective Agreements (MECA’s and MUCA’s). Workers need to unite in one driver’s union – under one banner.

Drivers Unite to Fight For

  • A Strike Committee, Mass pickets, A strike wage, Regular donations into strike funds
  • A community led strike support committee – Unite to fight!

  • A living wage! No broken shifts: workers control of shifts and rosters!
  • A 4 day (32 hour) working week. Social wages – free & quality education and healthcare. Return buses to public ownership, without compensation, and under workers control.

From Class Struggle 61 May-June 2005


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Cops Attack Anti-war Protest in Auckland

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Trade unionists arrested after peaceful occupation of bank…

Police attacked an anti-war march in Auckland today, arresting four peaceful protesters and injuring several more. The march had been jointly organised by Workers Against the War of Terror and Global Peace and Justice Auckland, and was part of a global day of action against the occupation of Iraq.

Earlier, three hundred protesters had gathered outside the United States consulate, where they burnt the Stars and Stripes and heard news of the anti-war strike being held by dockworkers in San Francisco.

After heading up Queen Street the marchers launched a peaceful occupation of the offices of the ANZ bank. A sound system was brought into the bank, and protesters and ANZ staff heard speeches which described the bank’s role in the carve-up of the Iraqi economy by multinational companies based in the West, a plunder which has brought economic chaos and 70% unemployment to Iraq. A message of solidarity from the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unemployed of Iraq was read, and an Iranian woman spoke about her opposition to US threats against her country.

After leaving the ANZ, the protesters were regrouping in Queen St when a man drove his ute into their ranks at some speed, knocking several people out of the way before being stopped. The police used this incident as an excuse to launch an attack upon protesters. Without warning, marchers were set upon, and pushed and shoved onto the footpath. When a leader of the protest used the sound system to assert his right to march on the street police arrested him, prompting anger from his comrades and a series of scuffles that lasted half an hour.

The confrontation spilled onto Victoria St West, as the police tried to arrest more marchers. The crowd chanted ‘Police brutality!’ and ‘Go home copper’ as the police threw wild punches and tried to arrest random protesters and even passers by. A number of protesters were freed from police clutches by their comrades, but four ended up in the cells at Auckland Central station, where they were charged with obstruction and assault.

Refusing to disperse, protesters headed back down to the US Consulate, where a series of speakers used an open microphone to denounce the actions of the police. Dave Brown, a spokesman for Workers Against the War of Terror, pointed out the connection between the ANZ occupation and the police attack, noting that ‘As soon as we violate the sanctity of capitalist property in any way, the cops act’.

Speakers from Australia and Scotland recalled similar police actions against anti-war demonstrations in their own countries, and emphasised that the anti-war movement was also a movement in defence of democratic liberties threatened by ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation and the equation of left-wing protest with terrorism.

Another marcher pointed out that at least two of the arrested demonstrators were trade union activists. It is no accident that the trade unions of Iraq are the target of US repression, and that the dockworkers of San Francisco

Everyone disgusted by today’s attack on peaceful protesters should attend the next meeting of Workers Against the War of Terror, which will be held at 2pm, on the second of April, at Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road. (For more details e mail davebrownz (at) yahoo.com)

Role of Police Violence

Police violence used against those protesting the war in Iraq in Auckland on March 19 was deliberate. It was the response to the success of the protest in entering the ANZ and exposing the truth that this bank profits from the blood shed in two years of imperialist war and occupation of Iraq. As the truth about the link between profits and imperialist war becomes known, we can expect the system to resort to increasing violence.

The actions of the police in Auckland on March 19 cannot be explained by protestors being on the street or footpath, or for that matter standing in the intersection. Many protests in the past have done much more than this and passed without serious incident.

We should see the police actions as deliberate rather than the knee jerk response of some over-excited cops relieved not to be handing out tickets to motorists.

They had half and hour to plan their response to what was the really serious threat to the bosses’ profit system, the fact that the protestors took over the ground floor of the bank where the full facts of the ANZ rotten profiteering in Iraq was exposed, to the workers the public and the media, and yet left when asked by the police without any arrests.

The decision by the police to respond aggressively from that point on was because they had been found wanting, and had not been able to protect the sacrosanct private property rights of the ANZ, one of the four Aussie banks that run NZ’s finance system and profit to the extent of billions a year paying less than 10% tax.

The protest movement had effectively targeted and exposed the fundamental immorality of capitalist profit – that John Howard backed George Bush in sending troops to invade Iraq to recolonise the oil wealth of Iraq, killing over 100,000 and still killing every day, to profit from this plunder. Now Howard and his Aussie capitalist backers are shown up in the full glare of the protestors truth, to be getting their payback, their share in the plunder of imperialist war

The cops did what they get paid for. Try to shut down the protestors from exposing the truth that the ANZ is pocketing part of the blood money of the Iraq war. The way to do this most effectively is to provoke the organisers, pick them off as violently as possible so as to make the rest of us angry and disrupt the protest. This was intended to intimidate the protest movement and close down the exposure of the profit system.

They failed to shut us up or to intimidate us. We were not intimidated. Not only did most of the protestors surround the cops in the attempt to prevent the arrests, those who physically tried to.

In the Court actions CWG will also be saying that this is what the police are paid to do when the property of the ruling class, and the link between profits and war, are publicly revealed. The conclusion we draw is that the more we expose the rotten profit warmongering system, the more violent will be the repression.

Therefore, the working class needs to prepare to defend itself, avoid unnecessary confrontations with the cops, and organise workers to strike against all those corporations that are shown to be profiting from war.

From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005

Liaison Committee Documents: Before the 2nd Pre-Conference Feb 1-2.

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Perspectives and Challenges facing the Liaison Committee for an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations

THE masses that heroically resist the imperialist occupation of Iraq, and check the Ango-American imperialists, see today how the national bourgeoisies reach an agreement with the invaders to force the combatants to give up their arms. But the masses resist.

In the heights of Oruro, in Bolivia, the revolutionary students of the UTO revolt against the agreements signed by the bureaucratic leaders of the COB, and the COD, that with the aid of POR Lora want to concede the gains won by the students in their struggle.

In Argentina, the regime of the Social Pact closes down the remaining vestiges of the revolutionary process that began in December of 2001 with the fall of de la Rúa at the hands of the masses.
 
In Brazil, the pro-imperialist government of Lula, supported by the union bureaucracy, furthers the implementation of the plans of the IMF and imperialism, despite the growing resistance of workers and poor people with strikes like the that of the workers of the state unions, the strike of private and state banks, the heroic student fight in Bahia, among others, to which Lula and the employer’s association responds with persecution and repression.

At each step, the struggle of the masses is contained and betrayed by its leaders, who tie their hands and stop them settling accounts with the imperialistic bourgeois regime. The liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism also do their worst, being subordinated to Castroism, Chavism, the union bureaucracies and the labor aristocracy, to social democracy, and all the reformist leaders assembled in the World Social Forum. They do not leave one stone in place of the theory and program of revolutionary Marxism. Their bankruptcy is total. The crisis of revolutionary leadership of the world proletariat continues to deepen.

Under these conditions, is born the Bulletin of International Discussion of the Liaison Committee for an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations. This Liaison Committee was formed on the 10 and 11 of July, 2004 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during the international Pre-conference summoned by the Coordinating Committee of all the Brazilian groups that have taken into their hands the revolutionary struggle for a an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and workers’ organizations. Proudly, in the Act of constitution of this Liaison Committee, we declared war to all the treacherous liquidator and renegade leaders that drag the flag of Trotskyism in the soil, and we raised the flag:

…To fight against the treacherous leaders of the working class, social democracy, stalinism, the labor bureaucracy and labor aristocracy, the great majority of grouped in World Social Forum, that tries to reform the capitalist state.

Against the popular front and the governments of the bourgeois-worker parties in power. Against all class collaboration. To denounce and to confront the counter-revolutionary role of the government of Lula, Castroism, and its continent-wide politics of containment with which they strangle the revolutionary fight of the masses of Latin America and keep in power the client governments and lackey regimes of imperialism.

 Confrontation and struggle against the liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism. Against the pseudo-Trotskyist centrism that is actually subordinated to the reformist apparatuses, like for example, in Brazil, supplies ministers in the pro-imperialist government of Lula as does Socialist Democracy (United Secretariat of the Fourth International), or act as pressure groups on the government like the PSTU.

In that meeting there participated delegates of Marxist Workers’ Party (Partido Obrero Marxista – POM); the Trotskyist Fraction (FT, member of the TCI); Revolutionary Communist Group (CCR), Workers’ Opposition (OO); Marxist Trench (Trincheira Marxista – TM) and Revolutionaries in Struggle (Revolutas), all of Brazil. Also POR Argentina (member of the TCI); and the delegates of the Fti-ci, represented by the International Workers Group (Grupo Obrero Internacionalista -GOI) and the Trotskyist Workers’ Nucleus (Nu’cleo Obrero Trotskista – NOT) of Chile; the Organizing Committee of International Trotskyist League (Liga Trotskista Internacionalista -COLTI), of Peru ‘; the Fti-ci in Urus in Action, of Bolivia and Internationalist Workers League –Workers’ Democracy (LOI-CI) of Argentina.

After two days of rigorous, exciting and democratic programmatic debate, we collectively formed the Liaison Committee for an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations, on the basis of clearly defined agreements, as well as the differences that exist which will be the reason for further deep discussion. The comrades of the Communist Workers Group (CWG) of New Zealand, despite not being able to be physically present at the meeting sent their enthusiastic greetings to the meeting and agreed to join the Liaison Committee.

Those of us who formed this Liaison Committee come mostly from the breakdown of the 4th International, and we are trying to regroup on the basis of the revolutionary lessons of the struggles of the masses and the betrayals they have suffered. In order to regroup the dispersed ranks of revolutionary internationalists, and stop the flags of Trotskyism falling into the hands of the liquidators and renegades who usurp them, we take on the task of convening an international conference on the basis of these lessons and around a revolutionary program, and of creating a transitional and democratic centralist International Center for the regroupment of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations on the way to re-building the World Party of Socialist Revolution.

The Bulletin of International Discussion that is today presented, has the objective of defending the common program agreed by the Liaison Committee, as a base line for the regrouping of revolutionary internationalists, and to make public a programmatic debate challenging the world workers’ vanguard and the currents who claim to be revolutionary Marxists, to throw light on the discussions among revolutionaries and to seek in the lessons and revolutionary program confronting the decisive events of the world class struggle the Marxist truth which clearly separates the reformists and centrists from the revolutionaries. The members that sign this Bulletin of International Discussion are also the Editorial Committee of the Bulletin.

A stop forward in the revolutionary struggle for an International Conference principled Trotskyists and workers’ organizations

The formation of the Liaison Committee and the publication of this International Discussion Bulletin are a great step forward that will allow us to begin to advance further the existing achievements of the Call for an International Conference and its program of 21 points.

Two years ago, towards the end of 2002, the revolutionary struggle of the working class and the exploited people of Argentina, the heroic revolutionary struggle of the Palestinian working class and people, the movement of workers all over the world to take an anti-imperialist stand against the colonial war that imperialism was preparing against Iraq, allowed those various healthy forces of Trotskyism, dispersed and seeking a revolutionary path, to recognize as revolutionary internationalists the lessons and the program posed by those explosive events, resulting in the formation of the Collective that put forward the call to the International Conference and its program of 21 points.

Subsequently, the defeat and crushing of the Palestinian workers and people at hands of the genocidal army of Sharon and Bush; the partial counterrevolutionary victories won by imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq; the imposition in Latin America of a containment policy and class collaboration imposed by the reformist leaders, meant that some members of this Collective retreated and it did not pass the test of the new acute events of the world class struggle, such as the rebellion of the Spanish working class after the attacks of Madrid; the electoral triumph of the PSOE, the upsurge in the Iraqi resistance, the situation in Bolivia, the elections to the European Parliament, among others.

In spite of this, the fight for the Call to the International Conference and its program of 21 points, were taken up the hands of new forces and groups greater than those who formed the Collective. Most of these forces we those that met in Brazil on the 10 and 11 of July 2004, forming the Liaison Committee.

Once again, here also, it was the heroic struggles of the working class and exploited people that allowed us to regroup, making sure that the continuation of the fight for the International Conference and for its program of 21 points as the basis for regroupment, was not lost. The rebellion of the Spanish workers; the intensifying of the resistance of the Iraqi masses against the imperialist occupation; the comuneros uprisings in Ilave, Peru, and in Ayo Ayo in Bolivia, alongside the struggle against the pro-imperialistic referendum of Mesa in Bolivia; the struggle of the miners of the Rio Tinto in Argentina; the fight against the pro-imperialist government of Lula-Alencar in Brazil, among other events, created water sheds in the ranks of the international Trotskyist movement, just as they created a demarcation line in all the discussions of 10 and 11 of July in Sao Paulo. The political discussion and debates for frank, fraternal and open in this meeting, allowing us to arrive at principled positions to mark the working class trench line in these events, and to launch the struggle against the treacherous leaderships and the renegades of Trotskyism, which are expressed by the Liaison Committee in the Act of this Pre-conference, advancing the Call for an International Conference.

Today, the Liaison Committee and its International Discussion Bulletin, are a weapon to create a new impulse to the fight for an International Conference that, on the basis of a sound program with clear majorities and minorities, can establish a democratic centralist International Center, for the purpose of regrouping principled Trotskyists revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations, on the road to the rebuilding of a World Party of Socialist Revolution, that centrists, opportunists, revisionists and Trotskyist renegades have subordinated to the treacherous leaderships for decades. Today, they act like a left wing of the World Social Forum, that gang of counterrevolutionaries that subordinate the working class to the bourgeoisie and prevent the advance towards the proletarian revolution.

Thus, next to the recycled stalinists, and the labor aristocracy and labor bureaucracy of all stripes, the betrayers of Trotskyism constitute the “quarter” of that counter-revolutionary International, that is the World Social Forum, in the same way that Trotsky in the ‘30s called that opportunistic group that was the London Bureau of centrists, “the 3-and-a-quarter International”. As Trotsky spoke on them:

… the bourgeoisie, the reformists and the Stalinists will continue to label these creators of the “Fund” as – “Trotskyists or “semi-Trotskyists.” This will be done in part out of ignorance but chiefly in order to compel them to excuse, justify, and demarcate themselves. And they will actually vow, with might and main, that they are not at all Trotskyists, and that if they should happen to try to roar like lions, then like their forerunner, Bottom the weaver, they succeed in “roaring” like sucking doves. The Fenner Brockways, the Walchers, the Brandlers, the Sneevliets, the Piverts, as well as the rejected elements of the Fourth International have managed in the course of many long years – for some decades – to evince their hopeless eclecticism in theory and their sterility in practice. They are less cynical than the Stalinists and a trifle to the left of the left Social Democrats – that is all that can be said for them. That is why in the list of the Internationals they must therefore be entered as number three and one-eighth or three and one-quarter. With a “fund” or without one, they will enter into history as an association of squeezed lemons. When the great masses, under the blows of the war, are set in revolutionary motion, they will not bother to inquire about the address of the London Bureau”. (‘A Fresh Lesson – After the Imperialistic “Peace” at Munich, October 10, 1938’ in Writings [38-39] Pathfinder, p. 75)

The epoch of national programs is finished

This internationalist struggle is indispensable in order to regroup the healthy forces of Trotskyism to overcome the dispersion of groups country by country and to avoid being dragged into the degeneration by national isolation. The time of national programs is over. The world-wide policy and the economy dominated by imperialism makes a reactionary utopia of all intentions to create groups national that can orient themselves in a revolutionary way without being part of international revolutionary grouping.

Revolutionaries must try to lead the world struggles of the working class which now are made powerless by the counter-revolutionary leaders in the pay of international finance capital, in the same way as the labor aristocracies and bureaucracies.. Opportunists and centrists, swearing allegiance to the Transitional Program of the Fourth International, to the resolutions of the first four Congresses of Third International, have done no more than besmirch all the lessons of international Marxism in the decisive battles of the world class struggle.

How is it possible to make revolutionaries without the lessons of the revolution and the counterrevolution in the face of the most burning facts of the international class struggle? There, in those acid tests acid of class struggle, separates as white from black, those who speak in the name of Marxism and the revolution, and those who kneel before the treacherous leaderships.

The liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism, the new batch of Mensheviks that arose from the decades of decomposition of Fourth International, taking out the Transitional Program on holidays, never do more than fight for minimum programs, while proclaiming to the four winds that they fight “for socialism” and for “the dictatorship of the proletariat”. For that reason, today along with 20th century Menshevism –Stalinism –they proclaim: “While fighting every day in order to relieve the toiling masses from the misery which the capitalist regime imposes on them, the Communists emphasize that final emancipation can be gained only by the abolition of the capitalist regime and the setting up of the dictatorship of the proletariat”

Against them Trotsky wrote:
“The Marxist political thesis must be the following: “While explaining constantly to the masses that rotting capitalism has no room either for the alleviation of their situation or even for the maintenance of their customary level of misery; while putting openly before the masses the tasks of the socialist revolution as the immediate task of our day; while mobilizing the workers for the conquest of power; while defending the working organizations with the help of the workers’ militia; the Communists (or the Socialists) will at the same time lose no opportunity to snatch this or that partial concession from the enemy, or at least to prevent the further lowering of the living standard of the workers.”” (‘Once Again, Whither France’, in Leon Trotsky on France, Monad Press, pp. 82-3)

The opportunists and centrists, renounce, in the same breath, the Transitional Program, at a time of crisis, abrupt and convulsive wars, revolutions, leaps forwards and backwards, that: “brings about an immediately revolutionary situation, in which the communist party can try to take power, or the victory of the fascist or semi fascist counterrevolution, or the provisional regime of the right (block of the lefts in France, entrance of the social democracy in the coalition in Germany, coming to the power of the party of MacDonald in England, etc.) to postpone the sharp contradictions which like a razor clearly pose the problem of the power “(“Stalin, the great organizer of defeats”, Leon Trotsky)

Centrism, as Trotsky said, is the most important factor of our time. Whoever does not have a policy to fight centrism, cannot find a way to the masses and, what is more serious, allows the centrists the room to exist, and so also becomes a centrist. Thus, “centrism very is keen to proclaim its hostility towards the reformists, but never mentions centrism. In addition, it considers our definition of centrism is “unclear”, “arbitrary”, et cetera; in other words, centrism does not like to be called by that name.” (León Trotsky, “Centrism and the Fourth International”).

To settle accounts with the liquidators of the Fourth International that every day cause the demoralization of the proletarian vanguard, it is necessary to find a way to the revolutionary masses that enter the struggle. Without this perspective, the small isolated groups that seek a revolutionary road, will only be able to repeat in a more bastardized way the construction of national Trotskyism, lost in the swamp of parliamentarism, and in the impotent trade union swamp.

To create revolutionary insurrectionary parties will be impossible without the fusion of revolutionary internationalists with the advanced workers who are looking for ways to break through in the struggle against opportunism, centrism, and against the treacherous leaders.

For that reason, the fight for an international regrouping on a principled basis, must condemn all types of diplomatic and opportunistic regroupings in the style of “International” federations of the Social-Democratic type, where each “national section” is boss in its country and no-one criticizes any other, or in the style of the Second or 2 and a half “International” where everything in general but nothing in particular is discussed. It must condemn all ‘centrist alchemy’, as Trotsky stated when he wrote: 

A Revolutionary resolution for which the opportunists could also vote was deemed by Lenin to be not a success but a fraud and a crime. To him, the task of all conferences consisted not in presenting a “respectable” resolution but in effecting the selection of militants and organizations that would not betray the proletariat in the hours of stress and storm.” (‘Centrist Alchemy or Marxism?’, Leon Trotsky, Writings [34-35] p. 260).

The experience of these centrist alchemies has already been condemned by history: the impotence of the International Committee in 1953 to defeat Pabloism that took over the Fourth International; the impotence of federations of small groups, have demonstrated and still demonstrate they have failed the most important tests of the international class struggle.

An international regroupment on a principled basis must also condemn all types of self-proclamation and ultimatism, whether it is of small groups that claim to be “the” International, or Trotskyists who build national ‘mother-parties’ with satellite groups in different countries.

The formation of the Liaison Committee and the publication of its International Discussion Bulletin, is therefore a step forward in this struggle. The forces that compose it, as we show in this Bulletin, have made fundamental agreements to debate publicly before the international workers vanguard, on the nature of the agreements and the differences among us, and to explore therefore the conditions that will make it possible to proceed to an International Conference to create a democratic centralist International Center for the regrouping of principled Trotskyists, that restores the continuity of revolutionary Marxism.

But to take a step in this sense from the Leninist point of view, will only be possible on the basis of the testing of the different positions, on the basis of a public and fraternal debate, in order to convince or to be convinced. We must prove the agreements and the differences that we have, in the face of the world-wide revolution and counterrevolution. There, in life, is, and will be the verdict.

Our Liaison Committee thus constituted with its foundations in revolutionary Marxism, is neither an “international brand” nor a base maneuver of a national group that breaks with the legacy of the Marxism.

The open and public debate, facing the world proletarian vanguard, and this Bulletin of discussion, alongside the evidence of life itself, will be the only arbiter of the currents that we dedicated to revolutionary Marxism.

New global class struggles; new tests for the revolutionary international movement

After the Preconference of July new class combats developed in Latin America and around the world – such as the referendum in Venezuela, the massacre in North Ossetia, as well as others from which it is necessary to give new answers and to extract new lessons and revolutionary conclusions. These are class combats with political and programmatic lessons that once more create watersheds – in the international Trotskyist movement, and also a new and higher challenge for those who are members of the Liaison Committee.

Two trenches have been formed: in one the working class and the exploited masses fight heroically with the principled Trotskyists next to them. In the other trench is imperialism, the subservient bourgeoisies and the treacherous leaders of the masses. Alongside them, are the renegades of Trotskyism and the liquidators of the Fourth International who have taken a further step in their subordination to the World Social Forum: in Venezuela they capitulate to Chávez, saying to the workers that they are in an “anti-imperialist camp” against Bush. They capitulate to the Castroite bureaucracy that introduces capitalist restoration in Cuba. They capitulate to the “democratic” imperialists of France, Germany, and Spain, and now also Kerry, with the argument that they confront the “fascist” Bush.

The liquidationist and revisionist currents of Trotskyism the regimes and the treacherous leaders, including ministers in the Lula government in Brazil that kills the landless farmers, as in the case of the Mandelist current. In Brazil, in Argentina, in France, in the United States, they act like pressure groups on the union bureaucracies.

They are responsible for keeping in power regimes and governments in crisis like that in Bolivia, where POR Lora is already betraying the third revolutionary attack of the workers and farmers in fifty years, supporting the truces of Castro, the Stalinist leaders and the petty bourgeois who support Mesa.

As Trotsky would say, the liquidationists and opportunists of Trotskyism speak of “socialism” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” when the struggle for power is not yet on the horizon. And when it is on the horizon, when the working class faces the question of power, this new batch of Mensheviks only understands the language of negotiation, truces and pacts. They sing the wedding march at funerals, and the funeral march at weddings.

All the currents that claim to be revolutionary Marxists are being put on approval before the new events of the world-wide class struggle. This first number of the International Discussion Bulletin of the Liaison Committee expresses this fact, and to it we have dedicated a Dossier with articles and controversies on the elections to the European Parliament, the massacre in North Ossetia, and centrally, the challenge of the referendum in Venezuela and the policy of the Trotskyists in the workers defense of the Cuban nation and the program of political revolution against the Castroite bureaucratic restorationists, which is inseparable from the fight for the Latin American revolution and the proletarian revolution inside the United States. Only in the international political struggle of groups and tendencies to regenerate the revolutionary movement, is it possible to find the Marxist truth and to conquer the lessons and the revolutionary program necessary to confront these acute events of the world class struggle.

More advances combats are in preparation, then, in the arena of the struggles of the international working class. The Liaison Committee prepares a new Preconference to be held in January 2005 in Buenos Aires. Our objective until then is to deepen discussion to determine the extend of our political agreement to see if another period of additional discussion in the Liaison Committee is necessary, or if there is sufficient programmatic agreement to enables us to move towards setting a date for the International Conference and to create and International democratic centralist Center.

The Liaison Committee calls on all the healthy forces of Trotskyism and revolutionary workers organizations to join the campaign for an International Conference

The Liaison Committee takes up the challenge to fight for an International Conference to create a transitional and democratic centralist International Center to regroup the healthy forces of Trotskyism and revolutionary workers’ organizations. This regrouping becomes every day more urgent day, with the intensification of the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat, and every day more indispensable to challenge the liquidationists and renegades all over the world who steal the flag of the Fourth International. A regroupment is necessary as an instrument that creates, as a by-product of the political contest of groups and tendencies, the regeneration of the international revolutionary insurrectionist movement in all the many divided countries so that the proletariat and the exploited people can take the power.

The Liaison Committee calls on all the healthy forces of Trotskyism and internationalist revolutionary workers’ organizations who agree with the basic points, to join the Liaison Committee and to add to the debate and to the campaign for an International Conference. For this, it is a condition, as stated in the Act of the Preconference of the Liaison Committee (reproduced in this Bulletin), to pronounce oneself “on the original call of 21 points, on the points where there is agreement, on the differences and debates raised here, and to publish the 21 points in its printed materials”, as well as “the defense of the principles and proletarian and revolutionary morality, as is stated in the 21 points, in particular point 19. It is fundamental that, for the development of a discussion which prioritizes workers’ democracy, all those who have become members of the Liaison Committee affirm that: “(…) to guarantee a democratic discussion, no current, group or tendency that, after the formation of this Committee, expels comrades who raise political differences that adhere to any position of other groups or tendencies of the Committee, can participate”. (Act of the Preconference of Sao Paulo.)

The International Discussion Bulletin: the organizer of the debate towards the January 2005 Preconference in Buenos Aires

With the objective of organising the debate, then, we will publish three numbers of this International Discussion Bulletin before the Preconference of January 2005 in Buenos Aires. We put forward here the expected contents of the following numbers of the Bulletin that will continue order and express the debate towards Preconference of January 2005.

The second number of this Bulletin, whose publication is expected at the end of November, will be dedicated to the controversy around the Anti-Imperialist United Front, with texts presented by the TCI, Fti-ci, the POM and Marxist Trench on this question. It will also include the controversy on how characterize the state of the class struggle and how to define a revolutionary situation, developed by the comrades of the POM, the Fti-ci, the TCI and Marxist Trench.

A priority will also be the discussion on Brazil, on the situation in this country, the combat against the government of Lula-Alencar, the fight against the union bureaucracy, and the liquidators of Trotskyism, and on the transitional program of demands that form a bridge between the present needs of the masses and the insurrectionary struggle to take the power. It will also contain a key discussion on the situation in Argentina and the struggle against the government of Kirchner, servant of Bush, and his social pact regime.

We will also included in this number an article that the companions of the Fti-ci put forward for debate in the Liaison Committee, giving account of the advance of the process of the capitalist restoration in Cuba, and raising the program and the policy for the defense of the conquests of the Cuban Workers’ State and for the fight for a political revolution against the restorationist Castroite bureaucracy. As thus also all the contributions to the debate that make the other organizations.

The third number of the Bulletin of Discussion the International, whose publication is expected in mid-December 2004, will be dedicated to the controversy on the world the political situation, the balance of the events of 1989 and the restoration of capitalism, and the present character of the former workers’ states and the program in these states.

An important debate will be on the character of the revolutionary international which needs to be created, since among the forces that belong to the Liaison Committee, there are those who fight for the Fifth International, as is the case of the comrades of the CWG of New Zealand and Workers’ Opposition Brazil; others, fight for the reconstruction of Fourth International, like the comrades of POR Argentina, the FT and the POM of Brazil; whereas others, like the comrades of the Fti-ci fight for the regeneration and refoundation of the Fourth International.

Being the last Bulletin before the Preconference of 2005, it will include all the positions and political discussions and programmatic criticisms of the original program of 21 points, contributed by the different forces and groups that compose the Liaison Committee, as well as those that have joined in the debate since. It will also include the different proposals from resolutions to be debated in this Preconference, and will thus allow us to evaluate whether a further period of programmatic and political discussion is necessary, or if we have managed to conquer sufficient conditions and programmatic agreement to march onwards to the constitution of a Parity Committee that sets a date and puts out the call for the International Conference to create an international democratic centralist Center to work for the regrouping of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations.

24 of October of 2004

Ft-vp (TCI) of Brazil; Workers’ Opposition of Brazil; CWG of New Zealand; GOI and NOT of Chile (Fti-ci); Co-lit of Peru (Fti-ci); Fti-ci Bolivia; DO (Fti-ci) of Argentina.

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005