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The Collapse of the International

This is the second part of an article that examines the history of the first Zimmerwald movement against imperialist war in 1915, in preparation for a ‘new Zimmerwald’ today to oppose the drive to imperialist war. The first part showed that in the years after 1907 the Second International while formally anti-imperialist became rotten at the core with a rightward opportunist movement rooted in the labour bureaucracy. This set the scene for the historic betrayal of August 4, 1914. In this second part we take the story further to show how the revolutionary left was vigorous in challenging the ‘pacifist’ and centrist opposition to the war, notably Leibknecht’s famous vote against war credits,but failed to see the urgency of organising a strong anti-imperialist war movement.

August 4, 1914.

The outbreak of war saw the rotten centre of the International expose in a massive betrayal. Despite many dire warnings, this event was still a huge shock for the ‘left’.

Rosa Luxemburg co-founder of the new revolutionary journal Die Internationale wrote in the leading article in the first issue “The Reconstruction of the International”:

“On August 4, 1914 German Social Democracy abdicated politically; at the same time the Socialist International collapsed. Every attempt to deny these facts or go gloss them over, regardless of its motive, in reality serves only to perpetuate the disastrous self-deception of the Socialist parties and the internal sickness that led to their collapse”. (183)

“A body of four million strong allowed a handful of parliamentarians to turn it around in twenty-four hours and harness it to a wagon going in a direction opposite to its aim in life…Marx, Engels, and Lassalle; Liebknecht, Bebel and Singer trained the German proletariat so that Hindenburg could lead it” (186)


Brave exceptions on the Left.

Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lenin all drew the conclusion that this betrayal did not call into question either Marxism or the revolution. It was the result of alien class forces and the ‘internal sickness’ of the party. They all called for a the reconstruction of a new International to replace the collapsed Second.

However, almost immediately differences emerged on how to fight the war. Trotsky said that workers had to stop the war to preserve their power and so use their arms to fight for the United States of Europe. But how? Mobilise for peace? “Neither victory or defeat” was his slogan.[155]

Lenin said that workers must oppose the war by calling for the defeat of their own country. It was necessary to turn imperialist war into civil war by turning their weapons on their own bourgeoisie. [156]

Their differences.

Trotsky criticises the Bolsheviks for their defeatism in Russia as unrealistic. It is “an uncalled for and absolutely unjustified concession to the political methodology of social-patriotism, which would replace the revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions causing it, with an orientation – highly arbitrary in the present conditions – towards the lesser evil”. Trotsky wants to avoid defeats as they “disorganise the whole of social life, and above all else the working class”. [165]

Lenin responds that this is typical of Trotsky’s “high-flown” phrases with which he “justifies opportunism”. He criticises Trotsky for calling for peace without any means of linking this to revolution i.e. defeatism. “ ‘A revolutionary struggle against the war’ is merely an empty and meaningless exclamation, something at which the heroes of the Second International excel, unless it means revolutionary action against one’s own government even in wartime.” [166].

Lenin accuses Trotsky of ‘opportunism’ because Trotsky assumes that the call for the defeat of Russia must mean the victory of Germany. The ‘lesser evil’ means that Russian workers will see the victory of Germany as preferable to the victory of the Tsar. And Trotsky is not prepared to swim against this stream of social-patriotism

But, says Lenin the 2nd International position was clear: “In all the imperialist countries the proletariat now desire the defeat of it own government”. So in rejecting the call for workers in all countries to defeat their governments, and adopting the position that one nation must win, it is Trotsky that adapts to the “political methodology of social-patriotism” [167].

Trotsky moves towardKautsky’s fatalist view that neither revolutions nor international solidarity between workers of different countries is possible in an imperialist war. That’s’ why the call for ‘peace’ is substituted for ‘defeatism’ because it does not challenge social-patriotism. It means in effect “neither victory nor defeat”.

This is a paraphrase of the “defence of the fatherland” slogan because it is a ‘class truce’. The working class is neither for nor against the war policy of its ruling class which also claims to be ‘against defeat’. [168] So the class struggle is suspended for the duration of the war. That is why the Italian government threatened its social democrats with ‘treason’ if it called a general strike. This explains why the Tsarist government charged Russia’s social-democrats with ‘high treason’.

For Lenin: “A proletarian cannot deal a class blow at his government or hold out (in fact) a hand to his brother, the proletarian of the ‘foreign country’, without contributing to the defeat, to the disintegration of his ‘own’ imperialist ‘Great Power’”[169].

Lenin concludes:

“Those who stand for the “neither-victory-nor-defeat” slogan are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists, for they do not believe in the possibility of international revolutionary action by the working class against their own governments, and do not wish to help develop such action, which, though undoubtedly difficult, is the only task worthy of a proletarian, the only socialist task. It is the proletariat in the most backward of the belligerent Great Powers which, through the medium of their party, have had to adopt – especially in the view of the shameful treachery of the German and French Social-Democrats – revolutionary tactics that are quite unfeasible unless they ‘contribute tot he defeat’ of their own government, but which alone lead to a European revolution, to the permanent peace of socialism, to the liberation of humanity from the horrors, misery, savagery and brutality now prevailing.” [170]

In Germany it was some months before the revolutionary left was able to mobilise opposition to the leaderships betrayal. Small meetings in working class branches supported the minority opposition to war credits but also criticised the minority for upholding party discipline and voting with the majority in the Reichstag. In Stuttgart on September 21, a meeting of SPD elected leaders condemned the war credits stand by 81 to 3.

Liebknecht responded:

“You are quite right for criticising me. Even if alone, I should have called out my “No!” in the Reichstag and so informed the whole world that the talk of unanimity of the Reichstag and the German people is a lie”. [173]

In November in the Berlin suburb of Niederbarnim local left wingers also took a stand against the war credits:“Had the Social Democratic faction done its duty on August 4, the external form of the organisation would probably have been destroyed, but the spirit would have remained…then the German working class would have carried out its historic mission.”Their conclusion was to build a new party and begin underground work.

“The Main Enemy is at Home”: Liebknecht and the Spartacists

In December on the second vote for war credits 20 deputies voted against at the party meeting. But once again all but Karl Leibknecht voted with the majority in the Reichstag.

On December 2, 1914 Karl Liebknecht took his historic stand and cast the sole vote against war appropriations. [174] In a declaration, “Explanation of War Credits Vote”, distributed as an illegal leaflet he explained his political stand. In the leaflet Leibknecht said he refused to vote for war credits because the war “is an imperialist war, fought for the capitalist domination of the world market and for the political domination of important territories for settlement of industrial and finance capital” [175]

Leibknecht was drafted into the army on 7 February 1915.Rosa Luxemburg was arrested and jailed on 18 February. Despite the repression, the left SDs formed an underground opposition to imperialist war in the factories and working class areas, known as the ‘Spartacists’ – the name of the leader of a slave rebellion against the Roman empire. Their main slogan became “The Main Enemy is at Home”!

But it was the Russian revolutionaries who spelled out what revolutionary defeatism meant.

“Who is it that threatens the Russian people? Who should we combat? They say it is the Germans…But it is the landlords, the factory owners, the big proprietors and merchants who steal from us; it is the police, the tsar, and his hangers-on who rob us. And when we have had enough of this robbery, and call a strike to protect our interests, then the police, the soldiers, and the Cossacks who are unleashed upon us…Now they try to mislead us and make us believe that our enemy is “the Germans” whom we have never seen… But will we Russian workers be so stupid as to take these lying phrases seriously?…No! If we must sacrifice our lives, we will do it for our own cause. They put guns in our hands. Good. We will use these guns to fight for better living conditions for the Russian working class.” [178]

Revolutionary defeatism got a practical endorsement during Xmas 1914 when British, French and German soldiers fraternised at the front. The British and German troops even organised their own 48-hour truce! Lenin wrote that this proved workers could unite against their own bosses. The military high commands worried that it might spread rapidly ordered that fraternisation was high treason punishable by death.

Lenin wrote (in The Slogan of Civil War Illustrated) that if the opportunists had devoted their efforts to calling on workers to fraternise for peace instead of backing their bosses war efforts and accepting ministerial jobs, then the spontaneous fraternisation of Christmas 1914 might spread on into the new year and beyond. The real issue came down to what cause should workers die for.

“There is only one practical issue – victory or defeat for one’s country –Kautsky, lackey of the opportunists, has written…Indeed, if one were to forget socialism and the class struggle, that would be the truth. However, if one does not lose sight of socialism, that is untrue. Then there is another practical issue: should we perish as blind and helpless slaves, in a war between slaveholders, or should we fall in the “attempts at fraternisation” between slaves, with the aim of casting off slavery? Such, in reality, is the “practical” issue.” [179]

Kautsky and ‘ultra-imperialism’

Meanwhile, Kautsky was working overtime trying to invent new twists in Marxist theory that would justify workers not having to fight anybody in principle. His theory of ‘ultra-imperialism’ was revamped to claim that imperialist war was old fashioned and that the class interests of the bosses were now so enmeshed in each others stock markets that fighting imperialist wars was bad for business.

“Every far-sighted capitalist today [with the benefit of Kautsky’s lesson on where their class interests lay] must call on his fellows: capitalists of all countries unite!” [180] Kautsky is saying: imperialists wake up!Why are you fighting among yourselves when the real danger is posed by the colonial and semi-colonial countries, and by your own socialist movements. You are ruining yourselves unnecessarily. Stop the war in your own interests. Peace brings prosperity!

This was the old opportunist line from the pre-war Congresses of appealing to the bosses self-interest but now revived to provide ‘official Marxist’ legitimacy to the opportunists.

Kautsky and Co got the savaging they deserved from the revolutionaries. In a new theoretical journal, Die International, launched on April 14 1915 to combat this falsification of Marxism and to advance the creation of a new revolutionary leadership, Rosa Luxemburg wrote the devastatingly brilliant ‘The Reconstruction of the International’:

“Kautsky, the representative of the so-called Marxist Centre – politically speaking, the theoretician of the ‘swamp’ – made a sincere contribution to the party’s present collapse. Many years ago he degraded theory to the role of obliging hand-maiden to the official practice of the party establishment. Already he has thought up an opportune new theory to justify and whitewash the collapse”.[184]

“…Official theory, whose organ is Die Neue Zeit, [The New Times!] misuses Marxism any way it pleases to serve the party officials’ current domestic requirements and to justify their day-to-day dealings…The world historic call of the Communist Manifesto has been substantially enriched and, as corrected by Kautsky, now reads: ‘Proletarians of all countries, unite in peacetime and cut each other’s throats in wartime!”

”…According to historical materialism, as Marx laid it out, all of previously recorded history is the history of class struggle. According to Kautsky’s revision of materialism, that must be amended to read: ‘except in time of war’.” [187]

Luxemburg goes for Kautsky’s throat: “A moments reflection shows that Kautsky’s theory of historical materialism…does not leave a single stone of Marxist theory standing. According to Marx neither the class struggle nor war fall from the sky, but rather arise out of deep-seated social and economic causes. Thus neither of the two can periodically disappear unless their causes also vanish into thin air.”

“…Wars in the present historical period result from the competing interests of rival groups of capitalists and from capitalism’s need to expand. But these two driving forces do not operate only when the cannon’s roar, but also in peacetime, when they prepare and make inevitable the outbreak of new wars. War is indeed, as Kautsky is found of quoting from Clausewitz, only ‘continuation of politics by other means.’ And it is precisely the imperialist stage of capitalist domination whose arms race has made peace illusory, by declaring what is in essence the dictatorship of militarism and permanent war.” [188]

On the dangers of ‘official Marxism’ Luxemburg says this:

”All attempts to make Marxism conform to the present transitory decrepitude of Socialist practice, to prostitute it to the level of a mercenary apologist for social imperialism, are in themselves more dangerous than all the blatant and shrill excesses of the nationalist confusion in the ranks of the party. Such attempts tend not only to conceal the real causes of the International’s profound failure, but also to discard the lessons from this experience necessary for its future construction.” [192]

Writing for the Russian Bolshevik journal Kommunist, in September 1915, Lenin also takes Kautsky apart in “The Collapse of the Second International”.

First Lenin refutes Kautsky’s complaint that the revolutionary situation that was expected at the Basle Congress did not occur with the outbreak of war because governments got stronger and workers weaker. Lenin shows that the war did create a revolutionary situation which he famously defined in this article.

A revolutionary situation exists ‘objectively’ when the ruling classes find it impossible to rule ‘in the old way’; when the ‘lower classes do not want to live in the old way’, and when workers are drawn into independent action. To which he adds the necessary ‘subjective’ changes to workers consciousness –the “ability of the revolutionary class to take revolutionary mass action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government” [194].

Thus the prediction of the pre-war Basle Manifesto is “fully confirmed” says Lenin; even “…those who fear revolution – petty bourgeois Christian parsons, the General Staffs and millionaires’ newspapers – are compelled to admit that symptoms of a revolutionary situation exist in Europe…To deny this truth, directly or indirectly, or to ignore it, as Plekhanov, Kautsky and Co have done, means telling a big lie, deceiving the working class, and serving the bourgeoisie”. [196]

So rather than take advantage of a revolutionary situation to ‘hasten’ the downfall of capitalism as demanded in the Basle Resolution, Kautsky and Co take refuge in the ‘big lie’ that no such crisis exists. Hence Kautsky rejects the charge that the leadership of the SD betrayed the masses. He caricatures the left SD position as calling for a ‘revolution within 24 hours’ which was impossible.

Lenin counters that revolutions are not ‘made’ but develop within objective conditions and the betrayal of the leadership was a massive setback to that development.

Kautsky justifies his position by trying to make the crisis dissolve into thin air as a ‘mistaken’ policy option that can be turned into peace by appealing to ruling class interests

The conditions were not ripe for revolution because the ruling class had not come to an impasse where it could not ‘rule in the old way’ but could instead opt for peace rather than war.

Lenin responds:

“The most subtle theory of social-chauvinism, one that has been most skillfully touched up to look scientific and international, is the theory of ‘ultra-imperialism’ advanced by Kautsky…This theory boils down, and can only boil down, to the following: Kautsky is exploiting the hope for a new peaceful era of capitalism so as to justify the adhesion of the opportunists and the official Social-Democratic parties to the bourgeoisie, and their rejection of revolutionary i.e. proletarian, tactics in the present stormy era…[198]

But says Lenin: “Let us recall what the passage from the previous and “peaceful” period of capitalism to the present and imperialist period has been based on: free competition has yielded to monopolist capitalist combines, and the world has been partitioned. Both of these facts (and factors) are obviously of world-wide significance: Free Trade and peaceful competition were possible and necessary as long as capital was in a position to enlarge its colonies without hindrance, and seize unoccupied land in Africa, etc., and as long as the concentration of capital was still weak and no monopolist concerns existed i.e. concerns of a magnitude permitting domination of an entire branch of industry. The appearance and growth of such monopolist concerns (has this process been stopped in Britain or America? Not even Kautsky will dare deny that the war has accelerated and intensified it) have rendered the free competition of former times impossible; they have cut the ground from under its feet, while the partition of the world compels the capitalists to go over form peaceful expansion to an armed struggle for the repartitioning of colonies and spheres of influence.” [199]

Both Luxemburg and Lenin proved that Kautsky’s ‘official Marxism’ rejected the laws of capitalist development and the operation of the market, leaving “no stone” of Marxist theory overturned. Rather imperialism by its nature was inevitably forced to war. That war created the objective factors necessary for a revolutionary situation but the old leadership had betrayed the Basle resolution and failed to lead a revolutionary opposition to the war. It needed to be replaced urgently by a new leadership that could exploit the revolutionary crisis and turn imperialist war into civil war. The time was overdue to regroup the left SD forces and begin the process of building a new Third International.

It was necessary to unite the left forces and prepare for a anti-war conference. The question arises why did the ‘left’ leave the initiative to the ‘centre’ to convene the first anti-war conference at Zimmerwald in September 1915, one year after the war had begun. Why did it take the ‘left’ so long to re-organise?

Towards Zimmerwald

The bourgeoisie understood that imperialist war created a revolutionary crisis and passed tough repressive measures against workers and the ‘left’ in general. The anti-war movement was driven underground and many of their leaders and cadres were imprisoned. To implement the Basle resolution and the call to turn imperialist war into civil war, the left needed to build a new international. Why didn’t the left initiate an antiwar conference?

Two pre-conferences were held during this period; an International conference of Women met in Bern, March 26-28, and an Internationalist Youth Conference during April 1915. But no call arose out of either of these for a full blown anti-war conference. In May 1915, the Italians try to get the ISB to hold an antiwar conference. This is rejected, so the Italians decide to convene a conference without the ISB. A Preliminary Conference met on July 11 in Bern. Invitations were sent to the official ISB national leaderships! Kautsky among others declined.

Zinoviev reported on the Preliminary Conference. He was obviously surprised to find that the organisers had invited only representatives of the official ISB parties “Where are the genuine lefts of the International?”he asked.

[All page references are again to ‘Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International. Documents: 1907-1916. The Preparatory Years”. Edited by John Riddell. Monad Press, New York, 1984]

Part 3:Zimmerwald and the Left I next issue of Class Struggle

From Class Struggle 45 June/July 2002

Written by raved

June 27, 2008 at 10:22 pm


with 2 comments

On August 4, 1914, the First World War broke out. The Second International had an official policy of opposing the war. But this collapsed under the pressure of wartime hysteria and with a few brave exceptions, broke up with each section voting for workers to go to war to kill other workers. The remaining revolutionary forces regrouped at Zimmerwald in Switzerland in 1915 to take a stand against the war, calling for workers to turn their guns on their own ruling classes. The ‘left’ at Zimmerwald were to be the core of the revolutionaries who went on to make the Russian revolution and build the 3rd Communist International. In a series of articles we argue that we are living through a similar period were the left is not prepared to fight the drive to war. We call for the rallying of left forces in a new Zimmerwald to build a revolutionary opposition to new imperialist wars. Part one deals with the years before the First Zimmerwald in 1915.

Many communist and revolutionary socialist forces around the world recognise that with the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the victory of imperialism in the late 1980’s the workers of the world experienced an historic defeat. Yet, this defeat was not one that smashed all the past gains of workers won over the previous centuries.

Nor could this victory postpone for long the onset of a more serious world recession that would once more see the workers and poor peasants mobilised in defence of their hard-won gains, and imperialism embark on a drive to war to revive its falling profits.

The onset of the current world recession and the drive to war that began with the Gulf War in 1990 has vindicated this perspective. We are now facing a period of worsening crisis and polarisation of classes world wide, that pits workers revolution against imperialist counter-revolution.

The time has arrived once more for the surviving communist forces to rise up again against imperialist war to overthrow capitalism and build of a socialist world.


The situation resembles the crisis facing humanity with the onset of the first imperialist war in 1914. Workers in every country are being rallied by their bosses behind the national flag to go to war against ‘evil’ in whatever guise the ruling class says. We need to mobilise our forces in the same way that the communist fighters did against the first war at Zimmerwald in 1915 and Kienthal in 1916. Here they broke with the rotten International of Social Democracy and raised the cry for workers to shoot their bosses and not each other. In taking this stand they rallied around them the forces that would make the Russian Revolution and become the new Communist International, the 3rd International.

Zimmerwald, a town in Switzerland gave its name to a conference held in Sept 1915 to rally all the anti-war forces, pacifists, defencists, and the Bolsheviks. The majority refused to break with the 2nd International, while the Zimmerwald ‘Left’ called for “civil war not civil peace” and the overthrow of capitalism. The ‘Left’ position was rejected at Zimmerwald. By the end of 1916 the Left split from the majority so it could rally those sections of workers who were beginning to resist the war to its revolutionary program.

The broad Zimmerwald movement was anti-war, but not anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist. It was still heavily influenced by chauvinism and pacifism. Why then did the Bolsheviks remain in it for more than a year? Did they, while they were inside, and while they were outside, adopt the best tactics to win workers over to the revolutionary position? These questions are important because a New Zimmerwald movement must avoid making the mistakes of the First.

Before addressing these questions, what took the anti-war movement more than a year to unite at Zimmerwald? What were they doing in the years immediately before the outbreak of war and the year following?

Pre-Zimmerwald:Stuttgart 1907

The 2nd International didn’t suddenly jump on the nationalist bandwagon in August 1914. It had been moving in that direction for years. At the Stuttgart Congress of 1907 a sizable minority argued for a ‘socialist’ colonisation policy; i.e that colonisation was necessary to advance human civilisation provided the method of colonisation was not exploitative! Bernstein (the famous German socialist) said “The colonies are there; we must come to terms with that. Socialists too should acknowledge the need for civilised peoples to act somewhat like guardians of the uncivilised”. (LSRI: 10).

That made the imperialist countries out to be ‘civilised’! If they were bad imperialists and mistreated the colonies or immigrants, they could be made into ‘good’ imperialists, or even cease to be imperialist, with the correct ‘socialist’ colonial policy! Even thought his ‘social imperialist’ tendency was outvoted, it showed that the rot was setting in. What was the material cause of this rot? Lenin was onto it.

Lenin commented:
“This vote on the colonial question is of very great importance. First, it strikingly showed up socialist opportunism, which succumbs to bourgeois blandishments. Secondly, it revealed a negative feature in the European labour movement, one that can do no little harm to the proletarian cause, and for that reason should receive serious attention. Marx frequently quoted a very significant saying by Sismondi. The proletarians of the ancient world, this saying runs, lived at the expense of society; while modern society lives at the expense of the proletarians…However, as the result of the extensive colonial policy, the European proletariat partly finds itself in a position when it is not its own labour, but the labour of the practically enslaved natives in the colonies, that maintains the whole society. In certain countries this provides the material and economic basis for infecting the proletariat with colonial chauvinism.” (LSRI:39).

On the question of war the Stuttgart Congress debated four resolutions, two of which called for workers actions against war to include strikes and insurrections (one as the last resort); while two called vaguely for “appropriate measures” or “intervention”.

Two extreme tendencies opposed each other. One tendency [Bebel] saw imperialist war as ‘militarism’ that could be resisted by socialists, first by voting against it, but if necessary going to war against ‘militarism’ to defend the ‘workers father land’. That meant that workers in every country would be dragooned to fight in ‘defensive’ wars to defend ‘their’ fatherland.

The other tendency talked of stopping wars by uniting workers across national frontiers to refuse to fight imperialist wars. “Our class -that is our fatherland” [Herve] (LSRI: 27). Herve said of the German Social Democratic Party (and its ‘workers’ fatherland’): “…you have now become an electoral and accounting machine, a party of cash registers and parliamentary seats. You want to conquer the world with ballots. But I ask you: When the German soldiers are sent off to reestablish the throne of the Russian Tsar [this was two years after the 1905 revolution] when Prussia and France attack the proletarians, what will you do?…the whole of German Social Democracy has now become Bourgeois. Today Bebel went over to the revisionists when he told us: “Proletarians of all countries, murder each other”. (28)

Lenin commented on the anti-militarism debates criticising Herve as a ‘semi-anarchist’ who did not see that war was necessary to capitalism and stopping wars could only be achieved by ‘replacing capitalism with socialism’. “However, underlying all these semi-anarchistic absurdities of Herveism there was one sound and practical purpose: to spur the socialist movement so that it will not be restricted to parliamentary methods of struggle alone, so that the masses will realise the need for revolutionary action in connection with the crises which war inevitably involves, so that, lastly, a more lively understanding of international labour solidarity and the falsity of bourgeois patriotism will be spread among the masses.” (41)

In the middle of these two extremes but leaning towards Bebel, was Jaures who argued that socialism could reform the imperialists and prevent war by means of an international arbitration court, but if push came to shove, strikes and insurrection would be necessary. He saw war as an extension of the class war which up to then had been managed successfully by the big socialist parties. In reality, Jaures believed that negotiations would suffice and make militant actions unnecessary.

Also in the middle but leaning away from Bebel was Rosa Luxemburg who spoke of the recent Russian Revolution and the need for workers to use the general strike against war not only to end war, but to “hasten the overthrow of class rule in general”. She moved an amendment along these lines which she drafted(along with Lenin and Martov of the Russian Social Democrats ) which was incorporated into the final draft.

The Resolution was a compromise. On the one hand ‘militarism’ was bad policy, on the other, militarism was vital to the survival of capitalism. These were clearly two very different views of imperialist militarism! But Lenin regarded the result as good. The left got in its view of militarism as necessary for capitalism to survive and for the struggle against war to be also a struggle against capitalism. He was pleased that the resolution spelled out the methods that social democracy would use, and could not be misinterpreted by the reformist Vollmar or by the semi-anarchist Herve. (42)

However, despite the amendments from the revolutionary left which strengthened the Stuttgart resolution on War and Militarism, it was clear that a growing element in of the international viewed capitalism, imperialism and militarism as reformable by social democracy. Herve characterised the German element around Bebel as “bourgeois”, “satisfied” and “well fed”.

Lenin’s view was that the material benefits of colonialism created an “aristocracy of labour” in the imperialist countries. Thus the move away from proletarian internationalism towards the socialist fatherland was the result of the success of the movement in legislating for reforms. But these reforms were paid for by the imperialist super-profits extracted from the colonies, and the ‘socialist’ adaptation to super-profits took the form of ‘social imperialism” or :”social chauvinism” -i.e. the civilising socialism of the ballot.

Lenin summed up with some rather optimistically that despite the sharp contrast between the “opportunist and revolutionary wings” …the work done at Stuttgart will greatly promote the unity of tactics and unity of revolutionary struggle of the proletarians of all countries”.

Nine years later, when the Second International has collapsed in the face of the war, Zinoviev commented that at Stuttgart the coming war was clearly seen on the horizon and it was understood that it would be the life and death test of the International. Yet the opportunists had already “won the upper hand”. “Bebel, Jaures, Branting, Vendervelde, Vollmar, and Vaillant all spoke about “the nation” and “the fatherland” in terms which the social patriots of all countries now find it easy to justify their “new” tactics…Only one speech delivered at Stuttgart differed….in principle -Rosa Luxemburg’s. This speech provided, although not yet in a fully finished form, the basis of the revolutionary Marxist position”(44).

Zinoviev tries to explain how a resolution that embodied such contradictory positions could be agreed to. The opportunist majority stood for “defence of the fatherland” yet they agreed to the revolutionary amendments. On the one hand they could not openly take a position in defence of the ‘revolutionary father land’ when everyone knew the war would be between bloody imperialist ‘fatherlands’. Second, the revolutionary amendments on strikes and insurrections was “watered-down” by lawyers to avoid the German SD being prosecuted (47).

The result was less than Lenin wrote at the time, a congress in the “spirit of revolutionary Marxism”, but more a compromise congress in which the revolutionary left was indulged by an opportunist majority who did not need to proclaim their revisionism openly because they had the material means (voting and bookkeeping) to decide the issue in reality. So the scene was set for further retreats in the years between 1907 and 1914.

The years 1907-1914

The next international Congress was at Copenhagen in 1910. The international became more divided on how to respond to the coming war. Commenting on the German Party Congress at Magdeburg in September 1910 Lenin put his finger on the reason for the failure to take a strong internationalist stand on the war. He recognises that the socialists in Germany have been sucked into a legal apparatus and were unsure how to break with bourgeois legality (parliamentarism).

“The chief feature of this peculiar pre-revolutionary situation consists in the fact that the coming revolution must inevitably be incomparably more profound, more radical, drawing far broader masses into a more difficult, stubborn and prolonged struggle than all previous revolutions. Yet at the same time this pre-revolutionary situation is marked by the greater (in comparison with anything hitherto) domination of legality, which has become an obstacle to those who introduced it…The era of utilising the legality created by the bourgeoisie is giving way to an era of tremendous revolutionary battles, and these battles, in effect, will be the destruction of all bourgeois legality, the whole bourgeois system…” (67)

The Copenhagen resolution against militarism echoed the Stuttgart resolution. It called on workers to use all measures available to stop war, but it stopped well short of the internationalist position that workers should turn imperialist war into a civil war. During the Copenhagen Congress Lenin tried to rally the left wing without success. Rosa Luxemburg wrote a critique of the ‘Peace Utopias’ evident in the resolution.

She ridiculed the utopia that imperialists could make peace as flying in the face of imperialist economic expansion and rivalry. “Arms limitation and curbing militarism are not part of international capitalism’s further development. In fact they could result only from the stagnation of capitalist development…Only those who think that class antagonisms can be softened and be blunted, and that capitalist economic anarchy can be contained, can think it possible that these international conflicts can subside, ease, or dissolve. For the international antagonisms of the capitalist states are only the complement of class antagonisms, and world political anarchy is but the reverse side of the anarchic system of capitalist production. Only together can they grow and only together can they be overcome. “A little peace and order” is, therefore, impossible, a petty-bourgeois utopia, as much so in the capitalist world market as in world politics, in the limitation of crises as in the limitation of armaments.” (71)

A confrontation between German and French troops in Morocco in July 1911 showed Rosa Luxemburg to be correct. Hermann Molkenbuhr of the SPD executive claimed that the German government had provoked the crisis to “divert attention from the domestic situation and create a mood favourable to them in the Reichstag elections”. He argued that this ruse would fail as ‘pro-French’ industrial capitalists would stop the war as it was against their interests to go to war.

Luxemburg responded attacking the concept that different national imperialist rivalries that surfaced in Morocco could be stopped by a common interest among German and French firms to ‘share’ colonial booty.

She summed up Molkenbuhr’s argument:
“Leave it to the grandees of the steel monopolies to order a halt to the German action in Morocco at the appropriate moment. As for us, we will pay as little attention as possible to the entire affair, since we have other business to attend to, namely the Reichstag elections…It is best not to rely on the commitment to peace of any particular capitalist clique, but on the resistance of the enlightened masses as a force for peace…Above all we must carry out socialist education in the Reichstag elections. This cannot be accomplished, however, if we aim our criticism exclusively at Germany’s internal political conditions, and fail to portray the overall international context – capital’s deepening domination over all parts of the world, the obvious anarchy everywhere you look, and the prominent role of colonialism and world power politics in this process. We must not fashion our electoral agitation as some simplistic political primer cut down to a couple of catchy slogans, but as the Socialist world view in its all-encompassing totality and diversity.” (77).

At this time there broke out in the German party a debate on the nature of imperialism. Was it doomed to go to war by its very nature, or was war a sort of aberration, even an accident, that could be corrected by socialist peace policies? On the left was Pannekoek, Radek and others, on the Right was Kautsky, Hasse, Bernstein and others. The left was defending the existing position while the right was looking for a parliamentary road to socialism by arguing that modern imperialism had investments in every country so could not afford to go to war. Kautsky’s theory of ‘ultra-imperialism’ expressed this clearly.

Pannekoek neatly summed up the revisionists views: “We often hear talk of imperialism as a sort of mental derangement of the bourgeoisie…Bernstein speaks of a spiritual epidemic. But we should not conceive of it in such an un-Marxist manner, as if it were an accident.”.

Lensch also had some ripe words:
“Comrades! How did the international arms buildup which we have witnessed these last ten years come about? Is it really just a case of international misunderstanding? That would mean that world history had made mistake, as it were: that a capitalism without resort to force, without colonies and fleets is also feasible. No doubt that is true, but only in a vacuum! Perhaps in your imagination or on paper, you can conceive of a capitalism without violence. But we deal with the real capitalism here on earth. Our task cannot be to correct World History’s homework, and say, “Dear World History, here is your work back! Its swarming with mistakes. I marked them all in red. In the future I expect better work from you.” (80).

In October 1912 the International was put to the test by the outbreak of war in the Balkans. Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria attacked Turkey which was defeated and forced to withdraw from its European possessions. Then Serbia, Greece and Romania turned against Bulgaria. What was the role of international socialists in this war? All the various socialist parties took a stand against the war. In Bulgaria the a Socialist parliamentarian was assaulted when he spoke out against the war. Yet in each country this opposition got more popular as the death and destruction affected the people. The international correctly saw the Balkan wars as a forerunner of imperialist war. Both sides in the war were pawns of imperialism so the war had to be opposed and stopped by revolutionary means.

An emergency congress was held at Basel November 24-25 1912. The Basel Manifesto began by quoting the earlier Stuttgart and Copenhagen resolutions against war including ‘civil war’, but again refrained from calling on workers to use the methods of ‘strikes and insurrections’ to stop the war.

While the war in the Balkans did not see any wavering from the official line, in the German party the centre and right began to grow in influence as it was put under pressure to vote for money to expand the military. In March 1913 the SDP deputies (MP’s) voted for a huge increase in military spending. The measure needed the SPD support to pass, so the government tried to win its support by introducing an income tax rather than a flat tax that would hit the poor hard. After a sharp debate the majority abandoned the principle ‘not one man, not one penny for war’ and voted for the Bill. At the Party’s Jena conference of 1913 the leftist position calling for a mass strike in the event of war was outvoted 142 to 333 in favour of the rightist position against the general strike.

Again Rosa Luxemburg sounded the warning that this capitulation to social chauvinism would lead to disaster with the outbreak of war.

“What will happen if war breaks out and we can do nothing more to avert it? The question will then arise whether the costs should be covered by indirect or direct taxes, and you will then logically support the approval of war credits…the position will lead us onto a slippery slope where there is no way to stop. Let our resolution therefore put an end to such cheating on principles by proclaiming, “So far and no further!” (94)

Jena was the last Congress of the united SDP. The SDP was now split into three fractions, Left, Right, and Centre.

All quotes from Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International. Ed John Riddell, Monad Press, 1984

Next Issue: The First Zimmerwald
From Class Struggle 44m April/May 2002

Written by raved

June 27, 2008 at 10:04 pm


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We reprint here an important article from Workers Democracy N8 January 22 on the role of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre held in the first week of February. We do not necessarily agree with all of the analysis, for example Workers Democracy’s decision to boycott the alternative forums held by the LBI and PO. We do agree with the call an international conference to found a new Zimmerwald. A front to prevent the advance of the Latin American and world-wide revolution, in the service of the imperialistic powers and their lackeys, the Latin American bosses´ regimes.

Yankee imperialism has begun, with the support of the European imperialistic powers and its gendarme the state of Israel, a counter-revolutionary war to try to smash the great revolution of the working class and the Palestinian people. The Israeli genocidal army has entered with blood and fire the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, occupying it, and totally unmasking the farce of a “Palestinian state” co-existing next to Israeli state.

While it threatens to intervene militarily in Colombia, and after bomb-blasting Afghanistan, Bush has jailed in Guantanamo -with the support of Fidel Castro- the heroic internationalist militias that went to fight in Afghanistan.

With these counterrevolutionary blows and offensives, the imperialistic butchers try to give a lesson to the workers and the oppressed peoples of the world, and thus, also to discipline still more their own working classes. It is the counterrevolutionary answer to the great Palestinian Revolution, and to the revolution that has begun in Argentina and whose example and expansive waves represent a threat with the reopening of working class and farmers’ struggles in the whole of Latin America.

If some time ago Yankee imperialism needed to extract from the exploitation and plundering of the semi colonial countries US$ 1000 million daily to maintain its cycle of growth, now under thee blows of the world-wide economic and financial crisis that has hit the US economy, it needs to go bombing and smashing his way like in Afghanistan, attacking its own working class with millions of layoffs, and take on a re-colonizing offensive against the oppressed peoples of the world, so as to maintain its dominant power against the competition of the European powers and Japan.

It needs to eliminate the old borders of the post Second War period, imposing new protectorates like in Kosovo or Afghanistan, with massacres like in East Timor (Indonesia) and sending whole countries into bankruptcy to make them again into colonies, with their economies under the direct control of a board of the big bankers and the imperialistic organizations such as IMF, WB, WTO, etc., as it intends to do in Argentina.

But its counter-revolutionary policy is incomplete if simultaneously the imperialist butchers do not use counterrevolutionaries of all colors in their paid service, so that they strangle from inside the revolutions in their course and restrain the fight of the workers and the exploited. For that reason, (at the same time that the imperialistic strategists reunite in NY for another stage of the Davos round. ) these paid agents and their aides reunite again in February, in the forum of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to form the counterrevolutionary “international”.

There, under the auspices of the governments of the European imperialistic regimes, meet the representatives of Fidel Castro and the Cuban restorationist bureaucracy, who support Bush in its “war against terrorism” and are co-responsible for the imprisonment of the internationalist militia fighters for Afghanistan, in the Yankee Military Headquarters in Guantanamo Bay; thus Fidel and his restorationist clique are completing their tasks to buy their right to recycle themselves as bourgeoisie and accomplish the total restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Going also re the representatives of the FARC and Latin American Stalinism in all its variants, and even the French imperialistic multimedia Le Monde, and also the Church, which while it speaks of “peace”, blesses the bombs and the weapons of the imperialistic butchers and the defeats of the oppressed peoples, like in Malvinas (so-called Falklands by its long robbers, the British imperialists. NT).

There also will be the European Social Democracy that, with Tony Blair, Jospin, Schroeder, administer the imperialistic European businesses, and the social Democratic and Stalinist union bureaucracy of France, Spain, Italy, etc., who bind the working class of those countries in social pacts to subordinate them each one to their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisie, preventing these workers from supporting the workers and the oppressed peoples, like in the wars in the Balkans and also in Afghanistan.

There also will be the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his war against Afghanistan and his reactionary National Front (that is, the use of great power chauvinism to poison workers’ consciousness and subordinate them to their bosses’ counterrevolutionary and imperialistic plans.), allowing the ferocious attack on its own North American working class, with millions of layoffs, wage cuts and “flexibilization”.

Next to these will be the union bureaucracies of all the American Continent: the CGT and the CTA of Argentina, the CUT of Brazil, the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, the Chilean CUT, etc., elbow to elbow with the employer’s association of the PyMes (Little and Medium-sized Enterprises.) of Argentina, and bosses’ representatives of other countries in all the continent. There will be the leaders of the farmers’ movement of Ecuador, of Bolivia, of the MST (Landless farmers) of Brazil, alongside, for example, the “unions” of the Brazilian police, the same ones the constitute the “death squads” who have assassinated the leader of the Brazilian PT, Celso Daniel, or who protect and arm the white guards of the landowners who have just shot in the back the leader of the MST, Jose Rainha.

Not love, but fear holds them together

What is it that explains the meeting of such like-minded counterrevolutionary leaderships, originating from all points of the planet? How do we understand the uniting in the same Forum of the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO, agent of Bush and the Yankee monopolies, with the European Social Democracy and union bureaucracies, agents each one of the imperialistic monopolies of France, Germany, Italy, etc? How is it explained that they all meet together, when their respective heads, Yankee imperialism and the European powers are joined in a ferocious commercial war for markets, raw materials and zones of influence, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, in the ex-workers states in liquidation like China and Russia?

The explanation is that there is no longer, like before, the great world-wide counter revolutionary apparatus directed and centralized by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR whose role was to contain the world-wide revolution. That Stalinist bureaucracy was recycled as a bourgeoisie, and gave the old worker states of Russia, China and the Eastern European countries over to capitalist restoration. For that reason, there must be a Sacred Union of the Social Democracy in the imperialist countries and the recycled Stalinists who are now the agents for each one of their own bourgeoisies, along with all the treacherous union bureaucracies, as well as the Church, so that they facilitate their role of containment of the world wide revolution.

While today they all attend this forum out of their common interests, that will not prevent them tomorrow to take sides with their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies in the defense of the latter’s separate interests to strengthen each one its master in the coming inter-imperialistic disputes. Moreover, in this same meeting, each imperialistic power is already instructing its own agents to defend its particular interests and businesses.

This “counter-revolutionary International” exists for the sake of strangling the fight of the masses with Popular Front policies of class collaboration.

All these counter revolutionary agents meet in Porto Alegre to discuss how to strangle and to restrain the revolutions and the struggles of the workers and the exploited. Speaking of “humanized Capitalism”, “peace”, “participatory democracy”, “anti-neoliberalism”, they prepare sleep-inducing popular front policies, of class collaboration, to deceive the masses with sweet talk, to thus give time to the imperialistic powers, and to the bourgeois regimes and governments, so that they can prepare their schemes, counter revolutionary attacks and blood baths.

They speak of “peace” to disarm the working class and the exploited farmers wherever they have begun to arm themselves or where they have joined militia, Like in Palestine, and also in order to prevent workers and poor farmers from arming where they are just beginning to think of doing so or even where there is the slightest shadow of a possibility of workers and people arming themselves.

They are definite foes of the self-organization and direct democracy of the masses, they hate the idea of the exploited and oppressed taking into their own hands the resolution of their problems. For that purpose they make social pacts, they divide the working class from the farmers and the ruined middle-class, make them subservient to the different fractions of the bourgeoisie, destroy at each stage what the masses win in the fight. They force them to fight country by country, separate the working class of the semi-colonial countries from their class allies in the imperialistic powers they support, and subordinate these working classes to the interests of their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisies.

Arafat and the national bourgeoisie of Palestine speak of “peace”, say that they want a “Palestinian State” next to the Israeli Zionist state, while they request the UN to intervene with “peace keeping troops”, try to disarm the working class and the people, and keep them separated from their brothers and sisters, the exploited in the whole Middle East. They have given imperialism and the State of Israel and its genocidal army a precious time allowing them to commence the counterrevolutionary war that attempts to smash the Great, Heroic Palestine Revolution.

In Ecuador the Stalinist leadership of the peasants movement and the working class, aborted the revolution. Along with the bourgeoisie, they set a trap for the exploited ones emboldened after throwing out two presidents in less than three years, the peasant masses –separated from the working class, which the Stalinist leaders of the unions had tied up hands-to-feet- were left to carry put revolutionary actions in mid 2000. They had been misguided by their leaders to think the task would be very easy, and sincerely believed their leadership was equally committed to overturn president Noboa as they were. But the bourgeoisie was prepared: it used the army to remove the peasants from the streets and defeated the masses, negotiated with the peasants’ leaders and passed the dollarization of Ecuadorian economy.

In Colombia, the Stalinist leadership of the FARC governs in the territories it occupies with a popular front in collaboration with the national bourgeoisie that controls the cocaine business. It also blocs with the landowners, whose private property is respected in exchange for a “revolutionary tax”, and keeps the peasants separated from the working class in the cities. While, the Stalinist leadership of the unions controls the working class movement, so preventing it from uniting its struggles with the peasants’ and leaves both workers and peasants at the mercy of Pastrana’s government and the paramilitary gangs that assassinate at close range their political leaders and union activists.

In Brazil, Lula and the PT, and the leaders of the CUT –hosts to the Forum of Porto Alegre- speak of “peace” and “participative democracy”, while they tie the hands of the working class with social pacts, divide it from the landless peasants, support the repressive government of Cardoso, while the white guards massacre in the fields and the police death squads reappear to attack the workers’ organizations and the left.

In Chile, the Communist Party that controls the unions and the student federations, supports the “conciliationist” government of Lagos and the cosmetic reforms made to the Constitution of the 80’s, so that the Pinochetist regime can remain unchanged under the mask of an allegedly “democratic” one. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the FLMN and the Sandinists, respectively, after having bargained the revolution to its enemies in those countries in the 80’s with the Fidelista counterrevolutionary pacts in Esquipulas and Contadora, have transformed themselves into political parties that, in the municipalities and national governments alike, are the administrators of the plans of the IMF.

All together they prepare now to also strangle the Argentine revolution: they are getting ready a popular front of class collaboration with bourgeois politicians like Elisa Carrio and the priest Farinello, with union bureaucrats, Stalinism in its different variants, a deceitful front with which, despite the weakness of the government of Duhalde they will try to induce sleep in the masses to give time to imperialism and the national bourgeoisie to enlist a caste of (military) officials and the paramilitary gangs and killers so that a blood bath is being prepared.

The “International” to fight against the proletarian internationalism.

Against all the affirmations of the secretary of the Yankee Treasury O’Neill, who said that Argentina’s crisis is “isolated”, the tidal wave of the Argentine revolutions has begun to strike in Latin America and the world.

In the first place, in Spain; the imperialistic monopolies of that country lost US$ 2000 million in a day in the Madrid stock-market, the collapse of the shares of Telefonica, Repsol, and the Spanish banks is self-demonstrative. It is clear now that the supposed “Spanish miracle” was nothing but a “false midwinter summer” of “sweet money” based on the enormous windfall profits made by these bloodsuckers at the expense of the super exploitation of the workers and people of Argentina and all Latin America, where they are left with most of the privatized companies!

The imperialistic butchers fear that the tidal wave of the Argentine revolution will revive the worker and popular uprising that began in Latin America in the heat of the Ecuadorian revolution, and that that struggle which was strangled by the action of the union bureaucracies and the Stalinists, now resurrects and regains momentum and in much better conditions, because the worldwide economic and financial crisis already goes to the heart of the United States.

And that wick has begun to ignite: the Bolivian workers and farmers have risen up again in Cochabamba, entering a true civil war with the army and the police, arming themselves and responding to the murder of their companion farmers with the execution of the military that fall into their hands. The university and high school students of Ecuador won the streets confronting the police assassins sent by president Noboa against them, as harbingers of the return to combat of the heroic workers and farmers. The workers and people of Peru persist with a great working class and popular offensive. Yesterday they threw out Fujimori and today they resist the weak government of Toledo.

The imperialists shake their knees in fear to think that, like in the decade of the 70’s, the working class of the Southern Cone, retains the enormous combat efficiency and revolutionary fist that terrorized the bourgeoisie and imperialism in that decade!

The Argentina workers and people need to unite to fight across the borders with our class brothers and sisters in the whole of Latin America, in concerted combat to defeat imperialism and the lackey governments and regimes. We must unite our most powerful class battalions, our brothers and sisters of the North American and European working class, in the first place –with its most exploited sectors, Latino, Blacks, Arabs, Africans, etc.- who are treated as pariahs in those countries, because they can strike at the same heart of these butchers and bloodsuckers.

It is a matter of life or death for the workers and the people that initiated the revolution in Argentina, because there, in the forum of Porto Alegre, are those who are preparing to strangle it. What is more, if we advance and we manage to make our revolution triumph, the imperialistic powers will no doubt try to smash us dropping their bombs, as they did in Afghanistan, and in the Falklands. Can we hope that the AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his re-colonization war against Afghanistan and in the attacks against its own working class, will call upon that class to rise in our support? Can we hope that Fidel Castro, who supports the imprisonment of the internationalist militias in Guantanamo, will call upon the whole continent to rise against imperialism?

Can we hope that the reformist union bureaucracies of the European countries will call on the working class to stop the imperialistic military machine, with a boycott, a general strike and confronting its own bourgeoisie and the imperialistic regimes, when they have allowed them to bomb and massacre in Iraq, in the Balkans, and in Afghanistan?

In order to win the unity of the working class and the exploited people of Latin America, it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracies and Stalinism. We cannot be united with our class brothers and sisters in the United States, France, or Spain, without the defeat of the labor aristocracy and the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and the European unions.

Down with the “counter revolutionary International” of the Porto Alegre Forum!

It is necessary to rebuild the IV International, the one revolutionary International, today usurped and besmirched by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites! The usurpers of Trotskyism kneel down before this “counter revolutionary International of the Porto Alegre Forum”! Long live the IV International! For an International Conference of principled Trotskyism to rebuild the IV International regenerated and re-founded!

The Porto Alegre forum is the International to that we could call “Fifth and a Quarter”: because it is not only the Second International –the Social Democracy-, the remains of the third International –the Stalinists-, but also has “a quarter” in it, contributed by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites that usurp the banners of Trotskyism and the Fourth International.

The French LCR will be there, and its leader Alain Krivine, deputy to the den of thieves that is the European “Parliament” –already a defender of the interests of their own imperialistic bourgeoisie; alongside will be the fraternal parties, Bandiera Rossa of Italy, the Spanish LCR that is in the United Left with the Stalinists, and the Democratic Socialists of Brazil, that are in government in Porto Alegre with the PT of Lula.

There will also be Self-determination and Freedom, party of the renegade “Trotskyist” deputy Luis Zamora –today a left-democrat-, the “The Militant” current, the British SWP, the UIT-CI which is supporting the MST of Argentina (long ago a partner of Stalinism in Izquierda Unida, United Left, NTO, the LIT-CI with its PST-U of Brazil and the FOS of Argentina. Also the Workers Party (Partido Obrero) of Argentina, that repeats its shameful tradition as a founder of the Forum of San Pablo, that predecessor of the treacherous Forum of Porto Alegre.

Other currents of self-proclaimed Trotskyists will participate in the “alternative forums” meeting in the outskirts of the official Forum, that are no more that the “left” cover of the counter-revolutionary “international”, that were held at last year’s Forum by the PTS of Argentina and the LBI of Brazil.

The centrists, opportunists and Pabloites run to put themselves on the feet of the Forum of Porto Alegre, showing that their international policy is but the expression of their national policy. Each one of them, in its own country, has adapted to the bourgeois regimes, the union bureaucracy and the Stalinists. The Porto Alegre Forum, that International ” Fifth and a quarter”, is “their” International!

In 1989, the centrist and opportunist currents of the Trotskyist movement -who bowed before Stalinism while the soviet bureaucracy was going into the restorationist camp –exploded in a thousand pieces. Under the weight of great world-historic defeats suffered by the working class with the loss of the workers states at the hands of the capitalist restoration, those currents made a brutal right turn to revisionism and bureaucratic centrism.

But today the revolution in Palestine, Argentine, and the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution that has become the center of the world stage, under the conditions of stock market crash, economic depression and wars, these currents unmask themselves quickly, and will further explode, have ruptures, crisis and divisions. It is as if they are gasping like fish out of water: nothing of what they write, say and do, has to do with the aspirations, the necessities nor with the combat of the workers and the exploited people. They are exposed by the force of reality: It is not possible to speak in the name of the IVth international, and at the same time to run to put oneself at the feet of the counterrevolutionary International of Porto Alegre!

Today, like yesterday, the principled Trotskyists of the COTP-CI say: Long Live the explosion!, because we know that out of those ruptures and crisis, the lively struggle of tendencies and fractions inside the Trotskyist movement, will come the healthy forces to rebuild the Fourth International. From the Organizing Committee of Principled Trotskyism (Fourth International) and from Workers Democracy, we make an urgent call to oppose this “Fifth and a quarter International” of the treason an to come to gather in an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists. It is necessary to rebuild the Fourth International!

A New Zimmerwald

An International Conference on the lessons and the strategy opposed to the colonial war in Afghanistan, an international campaign for the immediate liberation of the internationalist, anti-imperialist militias imprisoned in Guantanamo, on the lessons and the revolutionary program for the Palestine Revolution, and the revolution that has begun in Argentina. A Conference that raises the fight so that the working class of the United States, the European imperialistic powers and Japan can defeat the AFL-CIO and the reformist union bureaucracies and confront their own imperialistic bourgeoisies, and in this way, unite with the ranks of workers and the oppressed people of the semi-colonies and colonies that today are at the vanguard of the anti-imperialist fight and the world-wide revolution.

In 1914-15, the Second International –Social Democracy- voted for war credits, making the German, French, English and Russian workers kill each other in that slaughter, subordinating them to the interests of their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies. In those black hours for the world-wide working class, a small group of internationalist revolutionaries –Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht, among other, met in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, confronting the treason of Social Democracy and calling on the workers of the nations at war to turn their guns against their own bourgeoisie and to transform the war into the beginning of the revolution.

It was that handful of internationalists that then applied to the Russian revolution of 1917 the internationalist program of Kienthal and Zimmerwald: to turn the guns against one’s own imperialistic bourgeoisie and to transform the war into socialist revolution, meant in Russia the fight for “All the power to soviets”, the insurrection and the seizure of power by the Bolshevik party supported by the armed soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

There, in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, was formed the basis of the revolutionary 3rd International that was to soon bring about the triumph of October!

Today, the time has come for the working class of the world to directly oppose revolution to counterrevolution. From COTP-CI and Workers Democracy, we call urgently to make this International Conference the new Kienthal-Zimmerwald where the principled Trotskyists can recognize themselves and regroup, and put up together an international centralized leadership that unifies the combat against the usurpers of Trotskyism, as the way to regenerate and re-found the Fourth International on a principled basis.

A Kienthal and Zimmerwald which makes the Soviet strategy to fight by, so that the working class and the exploited peoples create their organs of direct democracy and dual power, and that in the heat of that fight can form in the different countries, and in Argentina, revolutionary and internationalist workers parties that are able to prepare the insurrection as an art and to take the working class on to victory. Only with such a fight, only with an international leadership of principled Trotskyists, can we advance on that road!

Written by raved

February 3, 2008 at 10:20 pm