Showing posts with label Fourth International. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fourth International. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2019

In Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding of The Communist International-From The Archives- *The Crisis Of World Capitalism- A Guest Commentary By Alan Woods

Click on title to link to article by Alan Woods concerning the crisis of the world capitalism economic order. This article is presented for informational purposes, some of Woods' conclusions I agree with, some not. The main point, in any case, for our purposes today is to not only analyze what the particular breakdown of the international capitalist order is at the moment but how to overthrow that order and create a more rational socialist order. As we now know from painful experience there is no economic crisis that the capitalists can not "solve". Economic analysis helps but organizing the labor movement is critical.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

On The 80th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Fourth International-Happy Birthday Woody Guthrie -The Folk Historian Struts His Stuff- The Music Of Folksinger (Oops) Jazz Vocalist Dave Van Ronk

Happy Birthday To You-

By Lester Lannon

I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.   

The Folk Historian Struts His Stuff- The Music Of Folksinger (Oops) Jazz Vocalist Dave Van Ronk

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Dave Von Ronk performing Josh White's classic "One Meatball". An appropriate song these days.


…and the tin pan bended, and the story ended- Dave Van Ronk, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, D.C., 2004

Although this space is mainly dedicated to reviewing political books and commenting on past and current political issues literary output is hardly the only form of political creation. Occasionally in the history of the American and international left musicians, artists and playwrights have given voice or provided visual reminders to the face of political struggle. With that thought in mind, every once in a while I will use this space to review those kinds of political expression.

My musical tastes were formed, as were many of those of the generation of 1968, by ‘Rock and Roll’ music exemplified by the Rolling Stones and Beatles and by the blues revival, both Delta and Chicago style. However, those forms as much as they gave pleasure were only marginally political at best. In short, these were entertainers performing material that spoke to us. In the most general sense that is all one should expect of a performer. Thus, for the most part that music need not be reviewed here. Those who thought that a new musical sensibility laid the foundations for a cultural or political revolution have long ago been proven wrong.

That said, in the early 1960’s there nevertheless was another form of musical sensibility that was directly tied to radical political expression- the folk revival. This entailed a search for roots and relevancy in musical expression. While not all forms of folk music lent themselves to radical politics it is hard to see the 1960’s cultural rebellion without giving a nod to such figures as Dave Van Ronk, the early Bob Dylan, Utah Phillips, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others. Whatever entertainment value these performers provided they also spoke to and prodded our political development. They did have a message and an agenda and we responded as such. That these musicians’ respective agendas proved inadequate and/or short-lived does not negate their affect on the times.

When I first heard folk music in my youth I felt unsure about whether I liked it or not. As least against my strong feelings about the Rolling Stones and my favorite blues artists such as Howling Wolf and Elmore James. Then on some late night radio folk show here in Boston I heard Dave Van Ronk singing ‘Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies’ and that was it. That old-time gravelly voice (even though I found out later that he was relatively young at that time) still commands my attention in the same way.

The last time I saw Dave Van Ronk perform after not seeing him for a fairly long period of time was not a particularly good night as he was pretty sick by that time. Moreover, his politics seemed to have crumbled over time from that of the hardened Trotskyist of his youth going out slay the benighted Stalinists for the soul of the working class. His dedication to leftist politics, as testified to by those who knew him like Tom Paxton, was well known and passionate. Although no one asks a musical performer to wear politics on his or her sleeves as a litmus test, given Dave Van Ronk’s status as a prime historian/activist of the folk revival of the 1960’s, this was disconcerting.

That folk scene, of which Dave was a central and guiding figure not fully recognized outside a small circle to this day, was not only defined by the search for root music and relevancy but by large political concerns such as civil rights, the struggle against war, and the need for social justice. Some of it obviously was motivated as well as simply a flat out need to make our own 'mark' on the world. Dave was hardly the first person from this period to lose his political compass in the struggle against injustice. I say this with sadness in his case but I will always carry that memory of that late night radio experience in my head. That said, please listen to this man reach under a song. You will not forget it either.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

On The 80th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Fourth International-“Workers of The World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains”-The Struggle For Trotsky's Fourth (Communist) International -Daniel Logan-On The European Situation And Our Tasks-Contribution to a Criticism of the Draft Resolution of the National Committee of the SWP (January 1945)

Markin comment:

Below this general introduction is another addition to the work of creating a new international working class organization-a revolutionary one fit of the the slogan in the headline.

Markin comment (repost from September 2010):

Recently, when the question of an international, a new workers international, a fifth international, was broached by the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), faintly echoing the call by Venezuelan caudillo, Hugo Chavez, I got to thinking a little bit more on the subject. Moreover, it must be something in the air (maybe caused by these global climatic changes) because I have also seen recent commentary on the need to go back to something that looks very much like Karl Marx’s one-size-fits-all First International. Of course, just what the doctor by all means, be my guest, but only if the shades of Proudhon and Bakunin can join. Boys and girls that First International was disbanded in the wake of the demise of the Paris Commune for a reason, okay. Mixing political banners (Marxism and fifty-seven varieties of anarchism) is appropriate to a united front, not a hell-bent revolutionary International fighting, and fighting hard, for our communist future. Forward

The Second International, for those six, no seven, people who might care, is still alive and well (at least for periodic international conferences) as a mail-drop for homeless social democrats who want to maintain a fig leaf of internationalism without having to do much about it. Needless to say, one Joseph Stalin and his cohorts liquidated the Communist (Third) International in 1943, long after it turned from a revolutionary headquarters into an outpost of Soviet foreign policy. By then no revolutionary missed its demise, nor shed a tear goodbye. And of course there are always a million commentaries by groups, cults, leagues, tendencies, etc. claiming to stand in the tradition (although, rarely, the program) of the Leon Trotsky-inspired Fourth International that, logically and programmatically, is the starting point of any discussion of the modern struggle for a new communist international.

With that caveat in mind this month, the September American Labor Day month, but more importantly the month in 1938 that the ill-fated Fourth International was founded I am posting some documents around the history of that formation, and its program, the program known by the shorthand, Transitional Program. If you want to call for a fifth, sixth, seventh, what have you, revolutionary international, and you are serious about it beyond the "mail-drop" potential, then you have to look seriously into that organization's origins, and the world-class Bolshevik revolutionary who inspired it. Forward.
Daniel Logan-On The European Situation And Our Tasks-Contribution to a Criticism of the Draft Resolution of the National Committee of the SWP
(January 1945)


From Fourth International, Vol.6 No.1, January 1945, pp.27-31.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


We are continuing in this issue the publication of documents of the Eleventh National Convention of the Trotskyist movement.

The following document is a criticism of the first draft resolution of the National Committee on The European Revolution and Tasks of the Revolutionary Party. Logan’s criticisms and position are a continuation of the criticisms and position elaborated by Felix Morrow in his criticism of the International Resolution of the Fifteenth Anniversary Plenum of the Socialist Workers Party. See The Eleventh Convention of the American Trotskyist Movement by the Editors and The European Revolution by E.R. Frank in the December 1944 Fourth International for the convention’s position on this question.

The Political Committee introduced to the convention, in the light of the pre-convention discussion, a number of clarifying amendments and literary corrections to its first draft resolution. The convention adopted the resolution in its amended form by the vote of 51 to 5. The resolution was printed in the December 1944 Fourth International.

By the same vote of 51 to 5, the Eleventh convention of the American Trotskyists rejected Logan’s criticism and amendments as contrary to the general line of the resolution.

We will print in the next issue a section of the International report to the convention by E.R. Frank – Ed.


When the draft resolution is analyzed, it appears to contain two ingredients. On the one hand, we have informations about the conditions in Europe, or rather in Italy, for, according to the method followed by the writers of the draft resolution, the situation in that country only is examined. These informations are quite minute and the parts of the draft resolution that contain them are often textual reprints of articles published in The Militant or Fourth International a few weeks or a few months ago. Some of these details hardly have a place in a resolution for a national convention, but would have room only in a much more expanded thesis. On the other hand, we have reiterations of our Socialist position, which could have been written one, two, five or ten years ago.

But somehow, between these two component parts of the draft resolution, it seems that the concrete reality of the period we are now entering, with its specific problems, needs and tasks, is not grasped. Some attempts have been made in that direction, but they remain quite limited and, on the whole, unsuccessful. The draft resolution does not seem to be exactly focused. The focus is either too close and too limited, or too remote.

This defect is closely connected to a series of false political appreciations, concerning the coming regimes in Europe (and the present one in Italy), the nature of the democratic interludes, etc. These political errors throw out of balance a resolution which, of course, contains many correct points. The first thing to do is to examine these errors.

Point 73 of the draft resolution states:

Fascism bereft in its last days of all mass support, could rule only as a naked military-police dictatorship. The Allies and their native accomplices are today ruling Italy in virtually the same manner.

The writers of the draft resolution deemed it prudent to put in the last sentence the word “virtually”, which can provide ground for a great deal of casuistry. However, either the manner is the same – then the word “virtually” is useless – or it is not the same, then the first obligation of the writers was to state what the difference is. Since they did not, we will consider the little word merely as an involuntary symptom of uneasiness in the mind of the writers when they put on paper their astonishing affirmation.

What does the draft resolution mean by the “native accomplices” of the Allies? Apparently, the Bonomi government and the parties that participate in it. The two most important of these parties are the Communist and Socialist parties. These two parties have, – as the draft resolution says in point 16 (and rightly so), – the “support and allegiance” of the masses. As far as I know, Fascism did not have, “in its last days”, “support and allegiance” of the masses. Thus, it appears clearly enough that Italy is not at the present time ruled in the same manner, – as the draft claims it is, – as under Fascism “in its last days”.

The draft resolution in point 20 explains – correctly – that, after the Allies entered Rome, the Badoglio government “simply melted away under the hostility of the masses.” A new government, headed by the liberal Bonomi, had to be formed. Why such a move, if the Allies rule by “naked military dictatorship”? Moreover, according to the draft resolution:

the Stalinists, Social-Democrats and their liberal allies directly took over the task of keeping the Italian masses subservient to the Allied invaders.

If the Allies use the Stalinist and Socialist leaders to maintain their rule, it means that their dictatorship is not “naked,” but covered with something, and not merely “military,” for, as far as I know, the Stalinist and Socialist parties do not hold the “support and allegiance” of the masses with naked military force. The draft resolution is clearly incorrect in identifying the present rule in Italy with Fascism, be it “in its last days” or at any other time, and by doing so falls into insoluble contradictions.

These two sentences quoted from point 73 reveal how far the writers of the draft are from understanding the real present political situation in Italy, the mechanism of Allied rule and consequently how ill-prepared they must be to outline the present revolutionary tasks. Suppose that tomorrow the Bonomi government falls and that the Allies call Badoglio, so carefully kept in reserve by Churchill, to “clear the mess,” or even attempt to do this themselves. According to the draft resolution, there would be no political change, for there would be, after as before, the same “naked military dictatorship.” How far is the draft from our tradition of careful and precise characterization of political regimes, or vigilant observation of every move, and how dangerously close it comes to the Stalinist method of sweeping identifications and generalizations (social-Fascism)!

“Naked Military Dictatorship”

Point 73, already quoted, declares:

Fascism bereft in its last days of all mass support, could rule only as a naked military-police dictatorship. The Allies and their native accomplices are today ruling Italy in virtually the same manner. This is the pattern of their intended rule in all Europe.

And point 75 states:

The Anglo-American imperialists and the native capitalists do not intend voluntarily to grant the slightest democracy to the peoples of Europe.

Let us note how the problem is put by the draft resolution : the intentions of the imperialist masters are considered. It is, of course, indispensable, to examine the plans of the enemy. This, however, is only a part of revolutionary politics. Another necessary part of it is a careful investigation of whether and how these plans can be carried out. The imperialist overlords do not fulfill their intentions in a vacuum. Their intentions clash with those of other classes. The result of this conflict is a concrete political situation, in which we have to act.

However, the draft resolution does not go through this part of the inquiry and, therefore, the imperialist intentions are given as the coming reality. The discussion of political perspectives thus threatens to take a subjective character (what the imperialists want or do not want to do), which is alien to Marxist method.

Nothing reveals the error of the draft resolution more clearly than the word “voluntarily.” Point 75, as we have seen, declares:

The Anglo-American imperialists and the native capitalists do not intend voluntarily to grant the slightest democracy to the peoples of Europe.

But has the bourgeoisie ever granted any democracy “voluntarily”? Even in the 19th century universal suffrage had to be conquered in many European countries on barricades. Classes never “intend voluntarily” to grant anything. They act under the impact of the action of other classes. This, at least, is the Marxist way of analyzing political moves. And the draft resolution presents this fact – that the imperialists do not intend voluntarily to grant the slightest democracy – as a profound revelation about the character of the post war epoch!

With the investigation of the European political situation so erroneously switched on the plane of intentions, we are forced, in order to proceed with the criticism, to temporarily adopt the assumption the draft resolution implicitly makes, namely, that the imperialist intentions will coincide with reality, and we must examine the question: will the rule of the Allies and their native accomplices over Europe be a “naked military-police dictatorship,” similar to Fascism “in its last days”?

To that question we must answer “no” for many European countries. We must answer “no” even for Italy today, as we have seen. Of course, there is no enthusiastic support of the Allies in that country – far from that. But until now and for some time to come the masses give “support and allegiance” to the Stalinist and Socialist parties and these, in turn, are cogs in the mechanism of Anglo-American domination – which means that this domination is not a “naked military dictatorship.”

How will the situation be in other countries? We have had in the last few weeks the experience of France and Belgium. Thousands of Parisians shouted to the American troops “Thank you!” These are petty-bourgeois crowds? Probably, although there must be many young workers among them. But there is no doubt that the Parisian workers are mightily glad to be freed from German thralldom. Thus, the Allies have accumulated a capital of illusions, which they may quickly exhaust by their reactionary policy, but which nevertheless exists for a certain period; and when a rule is tolerated because of certain illusions, it is not a naked military dictatorship.

Let us even suppose for a moment that the French workers today see no difference at all between the Germans and the Anglo-Americans (and I do not think that is true). There is, however, the petty bourgeoisie. Aren’t there any illusions about the Allies? Won’t they find any support there? If so – and I do not think it can be denied – then the dictatorship will not be “naked,” it will find “covers” and the existence of these “covers” raise many important tactical problems for the revolutionary party. But these questions simply do not exist for the draft resolution. It is based upon a false theory (“naked military dictatorship”) and, in accordance with that theory, ignores the real problems of the real revolution.

In many European countries the situation will be similar to the present one in France. The theory of the “naked military dictatorship” may have immediate reality in one country, Germany. Strangely enough, for that country the draft resolution speaks of a Badoglio-type of government as a definite plan of the Allies (point 70):

These measures (taken by the Allies) are deliberately designed to pin down the German people under a Badoglio-type dictatorship subservient to the conquerors.

Even such a government would be a kind of “national” cover for the Allied military dictatorship. In reality, such a government does not appear to be at the present time the most likely perspective and the Allies seem prepared to rule Germany even without a national government, through High Commissioners. This is one out of two or three historical variants. However, probably because the writers of the draft resolution do not like to outline possible variants but prefer sweeping affirmations, they failed to see the one case to which their theory of the “naked military dictatorship” would immediately apply. An editorial in the August 1944 Fourth International, directly contradicting the draft resolution, declares:

They (the Allies) have no intention of repeating the pattern of the precarious native Bonapartist regime tried with Darlan in North Africa and Badoglio in Italy.

A resolution adopted by a national convention does not have to be as categorical as an article on concrete questions. While giving the general perspective, it can outline various possibilities. If, however we want to choose between the variant given by the draft resolution and the one sketched in the Fourth International editorial, we must say that the latter seems at the present time much closer to reality.

If the Allies’ rule over Europe were to last, it would inevitably degenerate into a “naked military dictatorship.” But we must consider the problem dynamically. Today at the start the Allies have in many countries a certain capital of democratic and patriotic illusions to cover their rule. This capital will be gradually spent? The illusions will disappear? Of course. But that will be a certain process – precisely the process of revolutionary maturation of the masses, and our tactic must be adapted to the different stages of this process. For the draft resolution there is only the end, no beginning and, consequently, no process. No troublesome questions about tactic either!

What political moves have we witnessed during the last months in countries which are in the Allied military sphere? I see three important ones: the shift from Darlan-Giraud to de Gaulle, from Badoglio to Bonomi, from Mikhailovich to Tito. All of these moves are from the right to the left. They represent, in a very limited and very distorted way, the result of the pressure of the masses. Can we expect more shifts of the same kind in the future? I think we can, and they will go much farther to the left. Of course, they will intermingle in the most motley way with “naked military dictatorship.” But it is precisely where such shifts will occur that perspectives will open up for the proletarian revolution. The cases where we will jump from an Allied “naked military dictatorship” to the dictatorship of the proletariat will be exceptions, not the rule.

The draft resolution speaks of possible bourgeois democratic regimes in Europe as “a brief episode in the unfoldment of the revolutionary struggle” (point 77). This is incontestably true, if we call “brief” interludes that may last from a few months to a few years. But from this indisputable fact the draft resolution draws a wrong conclusion, namely, that such regimes do not deserve much attention. As a matter of fact, they deserve just six lines of the draft resolution. Here, however, the time element does not exhaust the problem. From the February revolution in Russia to the October revolution barely eight months elapsed. In the passage from Czarist society to the workers’ state this period is indeed a “brief episode.” But these eight months were packed with more sharp political turns, more tactical, moves by Lenin’s party than eight years of illegality under Czarist despotism. That is why today we study these eight months so carefully. A bourgeois democratic “episode,” however “brief” it may be, is a period of tremendous political responsibility, of which we have had great historical experiences. We will enter such “episodes” in many European countries. At what tempo? We do not know, but it is precisely during such episodes that the proletarian revolution has the greatest chances to prepare for success. It is precisely during such episodes that the most numerous and important problems of tactics rise. That is why a resolution of the national convention of the SWP should devote more than six lines to them. To limit our attention toward such “episodes” under the pretext that they are “brief,” of a “transitional” character, mere exceptions in a general “pattern,” is utter pedantism.

Finally, let us note that the theory of the “naked military dictatorship” implies a complete revision of our conception of the role played by the Stalinist and Socialist parties or by bourgeois-democratic tendencies. If the military dictatorship is “naked,” none of these groups has any role to play. That these groups are not heading toward a bright historical future for decades, we may well agree. However, they may and will play an important role during a period – precisely the period we are now entering – as brakes on the revolutionary locomotive. In fact, the draft resolution says so in another point. But it contradicts itself when later on it puts forward the theory of the “naked military dictatorship” and thus shows that it rests on a theoretical basis which is far from being clearly and thoroughly thought out. We shall now see another example of that.

A New Type of Bourgeois Democracy?

One of the most perplexing parts of the resolution is point 76. Let us try to disentangle it, although it won’t be any easy job. The draft resolution tries to establish a fundamental difference between the democratic regimes which existed in the period between the two World Wars (1918-1939) and those that may appear in the future.

The coming democratic regimes in Europe will be more anemic, less stable, more prompt to become dictatorships, than those of the past – there is no discussion about that. But that is not enough for the draft resolution. It intends to establish a kind of essential distinction between the past and the future based upon “economic and political conditions.”

Point 74 declares:

Bourgeois democracy, which flowered in the period of the rise and expansion of capitalism and the moderation of class conflicts which furnished a basis for collaboration between the classes in the advanced capitalist countries, is outlived in Europe today.

The writers of the draft resolution know, I think, that the period of the rise and expansion of European capitalism came to an end not in 1939, but in 1914. And, in a sense, bourgeois democracy is outlived since 1914. But this is not what the draft resolution means. When it says that democracy is “outlived in Europe today,” it does not mean “today” in a general way as being the period we entered in 1944, but specifically as the end of the second World War, in contradistinction to the period 1914-1939. Point 76 says:

Economic and political conditions forbid the restoration of bourgeois democracy even in the crisis-torn forms which existed after the last war.

Stated in clear terms, the theory advanced by the draft resolution is as follows: the end of the period of rising capitalism, which occurred in 1914, prohibits in 1944 the restoration of political forms which existed between 1918 and 1939. One of two things: Either the economic cause has an immediate political effect, then no democratic regime should have appeared or existed after 1914; this is clearly false. Or, although the economic basis has collapsed, political forms may survive, “outlive themselves,” for quite some time because of a peculiar combination of circumstances (failure of the proletarian grave-digger to finish off bourgeois society). This side of the alternative is the correct one. But then why should this “outliving of itself” by bourgeois democracy be stopped in 1944 by an economic condition which came to existence in 1914?

The writers of the draft resolution may cite the second World War as a possible explanation for the impossibility of the restoration of bourgeois democratic regimes even “in the crisis-torn forms” which existed between 1914 and 1939. This, however, would be a completely different theory from the one given in the draft resolution, for this draft tries to base this impossibility upon an economic condition, the end of the rise of capitalism in 1914. But let us wait and see how the writers of the draft resolution will try to get out of the sorry theoretical straits they got themselves into, and, independently of whatever the cause may be, let us look at the alleged impossibility of the return of political forms which existed between 1918 and 1939.

Let us reread point 76 of the draft resolution:

Economic and political conditions forbid the restoration of bourgeois democracy even in the crisis-torn forms which existed after the last war. Bourgeois democratic governments can appear in Europe only as interim regimes intended to stave off the conquest of power by the proletariat.

The possible future democratic governments in Europe will be interim regimes, and they will not be a repetition of forms which existed between 1918 and 1939. This distinction implies that the democratic forms between 1918 and 1939 were not of an interim character. Quite an innovation in our movement! The false perspective about the future suddenly turns into an embellishment of the past.

Do we really have to inform the writers of the draft resolution that most of the democratic regimes in Europe between the two World Wars did have an interim character? It is clear enough in Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain, etc., etc., not to speak of Kerensky’s regime. In certain countries of Western Europe (France, England, Scandinavian countries) bourgeois democracy was relatively more stable, but even there was more and more taking an “interim” character in the years preceding the outbreak of the second World War. No, really, the attempt of the draft resolution to draw a distinction between the two kinds of democracy is not very fortunate.

Maybe the writers of the draft resolution meant that in the past democratic regimes quite often came into existence after an unsuccessful revolutionary upheaval, as a kind of by-product, while in the future they can appear only before a revolutionary assault. This would imply that in the future either (1) no revolutionary attempt will ever be defeated, or (2) every defeat will be followed by a dictatorial regime. In fact, that is what the draft resolution says in point 77:

Inevitably, they (the bourgeois democratic regimes) will be displaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat emerging out of the triumphant workers’ revolution or the savage dictatorship of the capitalists consequent upon the victory of the counter-revolution.

Neither of the two propositions (1) and (2) is justified. Let us take our most authoritative international document, the Manifesto of the Fourth International on The Imperialist War and the Proletarian Revolution. It states:

Will not the revolution be betrayed this time too, inasmuch as there are two Internationals in the service of imperialism while the genuine revolutionary elements constitute a tiny minority? In other words: shall we succeed in preparing in time a party capable of leading the proletarian revolution ? In order to answer this question correctly it is necessary to pose it correctly. Naturally, this or that uprising may and surely will end in defeat owing to the immaturity of the revolutionary leadership. But it is not a question of a single uprising. It is a question of an entire revolutionary epoch.

This answers proposition (1), that defeats are not possible. As for proposition (2), the document goes on:

The capitalist world has no way out, unless a prolonged death agony is so considered. It is necessary to prepare for long years, if not decades of war, uprisings, brief interludes of truce, new wars and new uprisings.

“Brief interludes of truce”, this is precisely what democracy has been in many countries of Europe between the two World Wars, interludes of truce, during which the contending classes prepared for new struggles. This is what the Weimar republic was. Tomorrow as yesterday we may expect such democratic interludes after the eventual temporary defeat of revolutionary assaults. The only difference between the past and the future is that in the future the interludes will be more brief. This is a certain quantitative difference, but there is no qualitative difference between two kinds of bourgeois democratic regimes, before 1939 and after 1944, a difference allegedly based upon “economic conditions” which are present since ... 1914. The statement of the draft resolution that:

Economic and political conditions forbid the restoration of bourgeois democracy even in the crisis-torn forms which existed after the last war shows that it does not clearly understand either the past or the future.

This discussion may seem rather involved and somewhat obscure to the uninitiated reader. But now I shall give the key to the mystery.

The story began almost a year ago, as far back as the Fifteenth Anniversary Plenum (October 1943). The writers of the original draft resolution for that plenum presented a draft which explicitly denied the possibility that bourgeois democratic governments would ever exist again in Europe.

Confronted with the opposition of some comrades, especially comrades Morrow and Morrison, to this conception, the plenum had to abandon such an untenable position, although it did so without full clarity and precision. Since then events have revealed the falsehood of the original theory to everybody, perhaps even to its authors. Thus, the writers of the present draft resolution had to admit the possibility of democratic regimes in Europe, but, since they felt some solidarity with the unfortunate authors of the plenum theory, and maybe even some sympathy for them, had to find some sort of an excuse: “Yes, there will be democratic regimes in the future, but, you see, they will not at all be what they have been in the past.” Thus came to the world the theory of the two kinds of bourgeois democracy, the pre-1939 and the post-1944. The creation was perfected when an “economic” basis was found for it: “The difference comes, you see, from the end of the rise of capitalism” ... which occurred in 1914.

The distinction between the two kinds of democracy is as theoretically false as the alleged impossibility of bourgeois democratic regimes in the future, and, in a way, more confusing, for it creates confusion about the past as well as about the future.

We should not be surprised if the draft resolution, with a theoretical arsenal supplied with such conceptions as the “naked military dictatorship” or the two kinds of bourgeois democracy, is unable to exactly focus the political tasks of the present period.

Europe is now seething with revolutionary movements that have sprung up under the impact of German tyranny. Throughout Europe the masses have moved far to the left; they are crying for freedom, sensitive to any kind of oppression. This is an enormous potential danger for Allied domination and, consequently, for the whole bourgeois rule in Europe. How to transform this potential danger into an actual and direct peril? This is the central problem of the hour. In this transformation programs of democratic demands have an important role to play. Their role has been great in the development of every revolutionary crisis (Russia, Germany, Spain, etc.). But with the conditions prevailing in Europe today they acquire a peculiar importance.

Thousands, tens of thousands can learn through direct propaganda. They constitute the vanguard; they come to the revolutionary party on the basis of its Socialist program. But millions, tens of millions – and revolution is impossible without the active participation of tens of millions – have to come to Socialism through their own experience. They have to discard, one after the other, regimes about which they have had illusions. They have to discard false leaders in whom they have put their confidence. The task of the revolutionary party is to speed up and facilitate that process as much as possible, but it cannot jump over it. This is precisely what programs of democratic or transitional demands are designed for. This is precisely the Bolshevik method of winning the masses, by going together with them through action, as opposed to the propagandistic enlightenment about the advantages of Socialism, in the spirit of the Second International.

Under the monarchy we call for the proclamation of the republic. Under a bourgeois democratic regime we call for the most democratic forms (one House, immediate elections, etc.). When the revolutionary tide is high enough, we call for the expulsion from the government of the representatives of bourgeois parties. We call upon the opportunist leaders to take power if they enjoy the confidence of the majority of the workers. Etc., etc. These will be vital problems of revolutionary tactics in Europe in the coming months.

Truly enough, the draft resolution speaks of democratic demands. It even devotes to the problem at least five lines – no less. But it fails to show the specific connection of such a program with the present political situation. How could it fulfill such a task, armed as it is with the false political theories we have examined? Thus the phrases about democratic demands in the draft preserve a general, abstract character and cannot fail to appear as merely ritualistic.

For years we had discussions with opponents about the problem of democratic demands, especially concerning countries dominated by fascism. We made certain predictions. Thus, Trotsky wrote more than eleven years ago, at a time when fascism had not yet established the most brutal tyranny upon the whole of Europe (four hundred millions have now had to suffer under it!):

The fascist regime preserves democratic prejudices, recreates them, inculcates them into the youth, and is even capable of imparting to them, for a short time, the greatest strength.

What about that prediction? Has the recent experience of France confirmed it or not? What is the present situation? The draft resolution gives no answer.

The casual and perfunctory way the whole problem of democratic demands is treated is exemplified by the slogans mentioned in the text. These democratic slogans are given: “free election of all officials, freedom of the press” (point 33). Why are these two slogans singled out? What about others? True, there is at the end of the sentence a little “etc,,” into which anything can be stuffed.

The “free election of all officials” includes the election of administrators in villages, towns and cities. But does it include the election of deputies? What about the whole problem of the parliament and of democratic representations? More than thirteen years ago Trotsky found it possible to raise in a hypothetical form the slogan of the Constituent Assembly for Italy at the time of Fascism’s downfall. In August 1943 The Militant reprinted Trotsky’s article without adding any commentary about the use of the slogan. However, we are no longer in 1931, but in 1944. We now have – or should have – the reality before our eyes. How does the problem present itself today? The draft resolution maintains on this question the same silence as The Militant did.

Another important democratic slogan in Italy at the present time is the republic. Apparently, the writers of the draft did not put it down among the democratic demands because, although in the tradition of our movement, it is not as ritualistic as the freedom of the press, it does not flow as easily from the pen. Or is there any other reason? The slogan is one of those that seem most indicated by the present situation, and we shall consider it for a while.

One of the central problems of Italian political life has been, until now, the existence of the monarchy. The discussions on that point have thrown a bright light on the servility, the corruption and the ignominy of all the Italian official parties, including the Stalinists. The king was Mussolini’s accomplice for twenty years. Before leaving the United States for Italy, the self-styled liberal Count Sforza wrote: “It may be that a fraction of the Italians is still for the Monarchy, but after so many shameful acts and treasons this could be so only for reasons of expediency.” However, it soon appeared that the “reasons of expediency” were strong enough to be respected, even by Sforza himself. We then witnessed the most repulsive political farce, whose players were some wrecks left by liberalism like Croce or Sforza himself, the Stalinists and the various democratic and Social Democratic parties. Behind the stage, the king and his son, the reactionary upper crust of Italian society and the Allied diplomacy were rejoicing at such an extraordinary spectacle.

Croce, the philosopher of compromise, explained that he was “against the king as a person, and not against the monarchic institution.” It has always been the dream of the craven liberals to keep the monarchy and to have only “good” kings. The Stalinist messenger boy Palmieri Togliatti (Ercoli), arriving from Moscow, declared that he was “against the king as an institution, and not as a person,” having probably been impressed by the remarkable and generous personality of the king. A shameful compromise was attained when the Crown Prince was made lieutenant general of the realm.

The monarchy remains the rallying center of reaction: the reactionaries of the “Blue Party,” the Church and the Allied diplomacy. Any new development of the Italian revolution will inevitably raise the question of the existence of that focus of intrigues against the people, the Court.

To all the horse-trading among the monarchists, the ambulating corpses of liberalism and the Stalino-royalists, the revolutionary party must answer with the cry: Immediate proclamation of the republic! Arrest of the king, the Crown Prince and all of the royal family! Immediate confiscation of all the royal properties for the benefit of the people!

Daniel Logan

On The European Situation and Our Tasks
(Part 2)

(February 1945)


From Fourth International, Vol.6 No.2, February 1945, pp.61-63.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


(Continued from Last Issue)

The party that during present weeks would untiringly diffuse these slogans among the large masses would infallibly draw their attention and thus prepare their ears to receive more advanced slogans. At a further stage it would enjoy the authority of having foreseen the march of the development and of having been with the masses in their most elementary struggles. The benefit would be tremendous.

The slogan of the republic is imposed all the more by the present situation, since the official workers parties have rallied to the monarchy. The slogan is not only directed against the present regime and the Allies, but is also a sharp weapon against the coalitionists, the Stalinist and Socialist parties.

To throw some light on this problem we have to try to determine at which stage of the Italian revolution we are now. For this purpose historical parallels and examples are useful, even indispensable. Provided we are cautious enough not to forget the differences, they may furnish us with convenient landmarks.

During twenty years Fascism had gradually lost its petty-bourgeois “mass” following, and had become a dried up Bonapartist regime, resting mainly on the police apparatus. Thus Mussolini’s removal was to be almost as painless as the dismissal of another Bonapartist ruler, Primo de Rivera of Spain, in January 1930. Rivera was succeeded by General Berenguer. The first result of the shift was the breaking up of the censorship, political discussions sprang up, and the problem around which they centered was the existence of the monarchy. A year passed, during which the students demonstrated and the workers fought against the police. In February 1931 Berenguer resigned, two months later Alfonso had to flee and the republic was proclaimed. The Spanish revolution was going toward new heights.

If we are to follow the Spanish revolutionary calendar, we must say that the present regime of the Lieutenant General corresponds to the Berenguer interlude.

The differences between the two situations are important and obvious. There is now a world war, in which Italy is participating, being occupied by both camps. Foreign troops will be on Italian soil for quite some time. On the other hand, a general European revolution is coming, to which the fate of the Italian revolution will be most closely connected. However, at the present stage, the historical parallel clearly shows the correctness of the slogan of the republic.

For months the problem of democratic demands for Italy was as good as forgotten by our press. There were journalistic comments on political moves taking place there, such as the formation of the Bonomi government, etc. There was a constant reaffirmation of our Socialist program. But there was no indication of how to call the masses to action. A semi-turn occurred on July 22nd, when The Militant came to write about a series of democratic slogans, although in the most unclear and confusing way. The slogan of the “overthrow of the monarchy” was raised. Why in that negative form and not as the immediate proclamation of the republic?

Since then, our press has come to speak a few times of a “workers’ and peasants’ republic.” It must be clear that this is not a democratic, not even a transition, demand. It is merely a more popular expression for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and, as such, has at the present time a purely propagandistic character. There is no objection to its use, of course, but it must be clear that it does not eliminate the present need for the democratic demand of the immediate proclamation of the republic.

This discussion should not, of course, tend to give to the slogan of the republic in Italy a disproportionate importance. It is at the present time a very useful agitational slogan, the specific weight of which in our daily activities should be left, however, to be determined by comrades who are directly on the stage. If we have insisted upon it particularly, it is because the slogan is extremely important as a test case. It is always very easy to write or adopt general formulations about democratic demands. They have been in our documents for years. But all that has little value if concrete applications are indefinitely postponed. On the other hand, many signs point out that we may soon enter a new stage in Italy. It may happen that the question of the republic will be quickly solved. A slogan which may soon gain great importance is: For a Togliatti-Nenni government!

Some comrades may raise against the present use of democratic slogans the following argument: such use would be all right if the Fourth International now had in Italy a big party capable of setting in motion large masses, but unfortunately this is not yet the case. Therefore the problem is quite different; it is at the present time the building of a strong revolutionary party, and for that purpose any program of democratic demands is useless. The premises of this reasoning are correct, but the conclusion – false. It is true indeed that the building of a revolutionary party in Italy is still ahead of us, and that victory is inconceivable without forging such a party. But this task cannot be fulfilled outside of the daily struggle of the masses – in a hothouse, as it were.

This problem has been discussed in Europe quite often, especially in France and Belgium in 1934-36, at the time when the political situation there was already in a state of pre-revolutionary fluency and the organizations of the Fourth International still very weak. Trotsky and the executive body of the Fourth International always resolutely opposed the tendencies that wanted to restrict our groups to strictly propagandistic programs and slogans until the day when we would have assembled a large party and come like Minerva out of the head of Jupiter. We cannot thwart a possible opportunist danger in a young party by a “little dose” of ultra-leftism, but only by outlining the correct Bolshevik policy.

I think the resolution should contain a short but sharp warning against ultra-leftism. The war has stirred up a tremendous wave of reaction. The official workers parties have not been the last to follow or even to propel this wave. The Stalinists have been, in words and in deeds, at the point of reaction. The remnants of the Second International, slightly shocked by such brazenness, follow them as best they can.

In such conditions one may well say: “The main danger is opportunism. Why bother now about ultra-leftism?” Such a way of putting the question would be utterly wrong. The danger of opportunism is tremendous, indeed, but it is precisely why the danger of sectarianism should not be ignored; on the contrary, it should be carefully watched. Opportunism does not eliminate ultra-leftism, but engenders it. Ultra-leftism is only the other face of opportunism, its shadow, an infantile reaction to it and, in a sense, the punishment the working class has to pay for it.

The putrefaction of the Second International during the last war brought about many an ultra-left tendency. The German organization of Luxemburg and Liebknecht was impregnated with ultra-leftism and broke its head precisely because of that ailment; in France opportunism blended with ultra-leftism in grandiloquent phrases, etc., etc. Lenin had to write a special pamphlet against the infantile sickness of ultra-leftism.

At the end of the present war and in the coming revolutionary upheaval we may expect the same occurrence, probably with much greater intensity. At the last plenum I spoke about this coming danger of ultra-leftism. Since then events in one country at least have arrived, on schedule, as it were, to show the reality of the danger. In England the “breakaways” are becoming a serious problem. Disgusted with the treacherous policy of the union leaders and the Stalinist party, workers quit the unions and ask: why a union? Anarchists are taking advantage of this mood. This is only the first sign of things to come.

A new generation of young revolutionaries is now appearing, which has not accumulated much experience. In many countries they have grown up under illegality, without much opportunity to study the lessons of the past. The crimes of the bourgeois order have been so atrocious, the servility of the official workers parties is so repulsive that many impatient reactions may be expected. Moreover, Europe has known for four years sabotage and terrorism, and these cannot fail to leave traces of adventurism in the policy of many a good revolutionary workers party.

Under the blows of experience ultra-leftism had been forced during the twenty years between the two wars to abandon many of its original positions. But the point to which it clung most obstinately was its opposition to the use of democratic and transition slogans. Our movement had to conduct a long fight precisely on that problem.

We are now entering an historical epoch in which general propaganda is not enough. Liberals, reformists and all the admirers of bourgeois progress always hoped that Czarist Russia would gradually rise to the level of cultured and democratic Western Europe. Quite the contrary occurred. With the disintegration of capitalist civilization, Western Europe has catastrophically sunk to the level of despotic Russia and even far below. Reformists and centrists used to view Bolshevism as a product of backward Russia, not good enough for enlightened Western Socialism. But now all Europe has been made “good enough” for Bolshevism. History puts all the teachings of Bolshevism on the order of the day more imperatively than ever. And one of these lessons is Bolshevism’s contempt for mere enlightening propaganda about the virtues of Socialism, its ability to feel the aspirations of the masses, to seize upon the progressive side of these aspirations and on that point to drive a wedge that would detach the masses from their conservative parties and leaders.

The draft resolution states in point 32 on the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe:

It corresponds to the needs and experiences of the European masses who are learning that only by the destruction of the outlived and reactionary national state and through the economic unification and socialist collaboration of the free peoples of Europe can the menace of recurrent devastating wars be abolished and freedom and economic well-being assured.

A few lines before, the draft resolution had indicated that the proletariat of a European country will give military help to the workers of another

by boldly disregarding the outlived and reactionary national boundaries.

These formulae are not lacking in ambiguity and they can cover a correct as well as a false position. Without knowing the exact interpretation given to them by the writers of the draft resolution, I deem it necessary to state here my own position, as a contribution toward a more precise formulation of the subject in the final resolution.

No doubt, in the military struggle against imperialism and its agents, the proletariat will not hesitate to “boldly disregard” national boundaries. But does that mean that state borders will disappear from one day to the next? I do not think so. The European national problems cannot be erased by the signing of a decree abolishing state borders. It will take a whole historical epoch to solve them.

“United States” implies the existence of different states, that is to say, borders. It means that each nation of the federation has the right to say or no, the right of self-determination, up to and including the right of secession. Socialist United States can only rest upon the conviction of each people that only by a federative organization Europe can live. Violence cannot speed up the acquiring of this conviction, but on the contrary can only delay it.

After the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, we do not wish to march to Socialism by violence, but by patiently convincing the peoples of the superiority of centralization. Just as, in the agrarian problem, we are not partisans of “forced collectivization,” but we want to demonstrate to the peasant, by his own experience, the advantages of large collective enterprise over small property, so in the national question we are against any “forced unification” and the only real, not fictitious, guarantee is the right of secession.

The slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe is an attempt to solve the conflict between the centripetal necessities of a planned economy and the centrifugal tendencies inherited from past centuries. It is a dynamic formula, the content of which will continuously change. It will probably start with military collaboration, then a coordination of economic plans will come, and so far, up to a complete economic, political, social and cultural unification of the continent. This will not be reached in a day, not even in a few years, and will largely depend, moreover, on what happens in the rest of the world.

At a certain stage, the process of political centralization will be accompanied by the process of the withering away of the state. Will the various European states blend into one state, which will subsequently wither away, or will they begin to wither away before reaching complete amalgamation? We cannot tell now, but we may never have a single state.

The best examples we have until now of federative unification are those of two bourgeois nations: Switzerland and the United States of America. In both cases the driving force toward unification came from an external threat. In Switzerland the urban and rural cantons had widely diverging interests, but upon both the danger of Austrian domination was threatening. In America the thirteen colonies were far from seeing eye to eye with one another on all questions, but they had to unite their forces in order to resist England. Similarly, in Europe the driving power toward unification will be the necessity to fight the domination of the Yankee overlord and it will lead to military, economic and political cooperation.

At what tempo? We cannot tell. The example of America shows also how the building of the federal power was a long process, extending over more than a century and necessitating a civil war of four years. The European nations today are certainly more separated than the thirteen colonies were. Socialism will have, undoubtedly, other methods than capitalism for reaching unification. It would be childish and dangerous, however, to expect the erasing of national boundaries and the sudden disappearance of all national problems some fine morning by the signing of a decree.

Putrifying capitalism will bequeath to the victorious proletariat a continent torn by wars and national hatreds. Suspicions will have to be quieted. Any precipitated step can only revive them again and delay real, Socialist unification. Anyway, whatever may be the tempo, the first big step will not be the establishment of a single European state, but the formation of a federation of states, which implies borders, borders of a new type indeed, borders between workers’ states, but borders nevertheless for some time.

The theoretical errors of the draft resolution about the “naked military dictatorship” or the two kinds of bourgeois democracy have to be unequivocally corrected. That would straighten up the axis of the resolution. The attention has to be focused on the specific problems of the period we are now entering. The question of the democratic demands should not be dealt with in five lines, but all its aspects have to be carefully examined. The slogan of the immediate proclamation of the republic in Italy has to be incorporated. Although many parts of the draft resolution can be used, a great deal of rewriting should be done.

We are now entering a period of transition which will go from the collapse of German domination over Europe to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The question of the character and length of this period is directly tied to the problem of the formation of the revolutionary party. Whoever does not pay enough attention to that period, assumes that we will go through it automatically, tries to jump over it theoretically, ignores its peculiar problems, etc. – whoever does that (and I believe the writers of the draft resolution do it to a great extent) obscures the problems, and therefore increases the difficulties, of the building of the party. The greatest help that the members of the SWP can now give to their European comrades is to carefully correct the draft resolution and present an impeccable document.

Monday, September 02, 2019

On The 80th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Fourth International-“Workers of The World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains”-The Struggle For Trotsky's Fourth (Communist) International -France under Hitler and Petain-Manifesto of the Fourth International-November 1940

Markin comment:

Below this general introduction is another addition to the work of creating a new international working class organization-a revolutionary one fit of the the slogan in the headline.

Markin comment (repost from September 2010):

Recently, when the question of an international, a new workers international, a fifth international, was broached by the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), faintly echoing the call by Venezuelan caudillo, Hugo Chavez, I got to thinking a little bit more on the subject. Moreover, it must be something in the air (maybe caused by these global climatic changes) because I have also seen recent commentary on the need to go back to something that looks very much like Karl Marx’s one-size-fits-all First International. Of course, just what the doctor by all means, be my guest, but only if the shades of Proudhon and Bakunin can join. Boys and girls that First International was disbanded in the wake of the demise of the Paris Commune for a reason, okay. Mixing political banners (Marxism and fifty-seven varieties of anarchism) is appropriate to a united front, not a hell-bent revolutionary International fighting, and fighting hard, for our communist future. Forward

The Second International, for those six, no seven, people who might care, is still alive and well (at least for periodic international conferences) as a mail-drop for homeless social democrats who want to maintain a fig leaf of internationalism without having to do much about it. Needless to say, one Joseph Stalin and his cohorts liquidated the Communist (Third) International in 1943, long after it turned from a revolutionary headquarters into an outpost of Soviet foreign policy. By then no revolutionary missed its demise, nor shed a tear goodbye. And of course there are always a million commentaries by groups, cults, leagues, tendencies, etc. claiming to stand in the tradition (although, rarely, the program) of the Leon Trotsky-inspired Fourth International that, logically and programmatically, is the starting point of any discussion of the modern struggle for a new communist international.

With that caveat in mind this month, the September American Labor Day month, but more importantly the month in 1938 that the ill-fated Fourth International was founded I am posting some documents around the history of that formation, and its program, the program known by the shorthand, Transitional Program. If you want to call for a fifth, sixth, seventh, what have you, revolutionary international, and you are serious about it beyond the "mail-drop" potential, then you have to look seriously into that organization's origins, and the world-class Bolshevik revolutionary who inspired it. Forward.
France under Hitler and Petain-Manifesto of the Fourth International-November 1940

Adopted: 1940
First Published: December 1940
Source: Fourth International, New York, Volume I, No. 7, December 1940, pages 179-82.
Author: Jean van Heijenoort (according to Robert Alexander’s History).
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, February, 2006
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line, 2006. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the address of this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.


The Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution, addressed itself to the workers last May with a manifesto in which it explained the causes of the war and indicated the tasks facing the working class in this catastrophe.

Since then the military fall of France has occurred and the French bourgeoisie has abandoned the camp of the “democracies” to collaborate with Hitler in the “reconstruction” of Europe. In the face of these events, the Fourth International can say with confidence that the facts have confirmed its analysis of the present capitalist war, have justified its criticism of the traitorous leaders of the working class, have given a new force to our program of socialist revolution.

The Causes of the French Defeat

The military downfall of France is not a “technical” accident, but the clearest expression of the atrophy of bourgeois democracy in France. The whole strategy of the French general staff consisted of passivity and waiting. Its plan of war was to gain time (in reality, to lose it), reclining blindly confident behind the Maginot line, the gigantic extension of the 1914-1918 trench system.

On the diplomatic field the policy of waiting and of retreat culminated in the inability of France to draw into its orbit and prepare a common system of defense with little Belgium, her ally in the First World War.

After the defeat, the world learned about the internal struggles within the French government, especially between Daladier and Reynaud—a very clear symptom of the decline of democracy, powerless even to produce a new Clemenceau and paralyzed by Byzantine quarrels.

The conduct of the French bourgeoisie and its general staff after the Germans broke through at Sedan confirms to the hilt our analysis, in our Manifesto in May, when we declared:

“The bourgeoisie never defends the fatherland for the sake of the fatherland. They defend private property, privileges, profits. Whenever these sacred values are threatened, the bourgeoisie immediately takes to the road of defeatism.... In order to save their capital, the Spanish bourgeoisie turned to Mussolini and Hitler for military aid against their own people. The Norwegian bourgeoisie aided Hitler’s invasion of Norway. Thus it was and always will be.”

After the German break-through in the North, the military situation was by no means hopeless, had the French bourgeoisie and its general staff been willing to mobilize all the resources of the country. But the general staff and the bourgeoisie felt, as General Weygand explicitly said, that such a situation would be like that of Russia in 1917. “It must not come to that,” said Weygand. Rather than leave open the possibility of the French proletariat coming to power and conducting a revolutionary war against Hitler, the French ruling class preferred to capitulate to Hitler.

The curve of French imperialism has been steadily declining since the “victory” of 1918. Its status in Europe and in the world as a result of the Versailles Treaty was extremely disproportionate to its real economic strength. It could provide its political vassals in Europe (the little Entente, the Balkan states) with financial aid but was incapable of making them customers for her industry, which could not compete successfully with Germany, England or the United States. The handling of the tremendous French colonial empire was also beyond the power of the industrial apparatus of the metropolis. The French bourgeoisie submitted the colonies to an exploitation that was ferocious but yet netted relatively little, for it was extremely backward in its economic methods.

Before the war of 1914-1918, the development of French capitalism was markedly backward compared to that of Germany and England, not to speak of the United States. The military victory of 1918 could not infuse new life into this relatively backward economy but, on the contrary, engendered many illusions and gave the impression of strength where there was only stagnation and decline.

Those Responsible for the Fascist Advance

The street fighting and demonstrations of February, 1934 signalized the approach of a revolutionary crisis, the polarization of the country into two opposed camps—Fascist and revolutionary. The decomposition of bourgeois democracy was only the fruit of the general decline Of the French empire, accelerated by the great economic crisis. This decay of bourgeois democracy was expressed in the rout of its traditional party, the Radical Socialist Party. In June, 1936, the French proletariat occupied the factories} thus placing the country upon the threshold of a revolutionary situation. The socialist revolution then loomed as the only possible road by which the country could come out of its atrophy. But the movement of the French workers was strangled by the apparatus of its own organizations. The treacherous leaders (Jouhaux, Blum, Thorez) did all they could to keep the workers chained to the chariot of decaying parliamentary democracy, in the name of the defense of the “fatherland” and of “democracy.”

The proletarian revolution in France would have opened a new future for the country. A soviet France would have immediately shaken the Fascist regime, and changed the face of Europe. The defense of the “fatherland” by the leaders of the workers’ parties paralyzed the workers in the struggle for their emancipation, but it could not prevent the triumph of Hitler. The defense of bourgeois “democracy” prevented the creation of proletarian Soviet democracy, but could not prevent the appearance of the Bonapartist dictatorship of Petain. The hollow “anti-Fascism” of the Popular Front thus stifled the proletarian revolution and led to the triumph of Fascism throughout Europe.

If the peoples of Europe have had to enter a new slaughter, if Fascism is pushing its way through the continent, the direct responsibility falls upon the leadership of the official organizations of the proletariat: the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the C.G.T. (Genera] Confederation of Labor). The Fourth International must explain patiently to the workers the lessons of the last years in the light of recent events, unmask the treacherous role of both the Socialist and Stalinist leaders and win the proletariat to Bolshevism.

The Petain Government

At the time of the fascist insurrection of February 6, 1934, those champions of democracy, Daladier and his friends, found nothing else in their arsenal but flight. In their place there emerged the government of the decrepit Doumergue, ready to replace the parliamentary mechanism by the police and the army.

After the military downfall of last May these valiant defenders of democracy, including Daladier himself, hastened to run like rats into Spain or to Morocco, without ideas, without perspectives, without a program. The swift invasion of the German troops had shattered the administrative system. The only group representing a certain relative solidity were the top ranks of the army. Around them rallied some Anglophobe politicians. This combination was crowned by the octogenarian Petain. The new Bonaparte did not even use cannon against parliament, which decided on its own hook to disappear.

The German army occupied all that part of France which retained some military and economic importance. Hitler then hoped to make a quick end to England. He left to Petain the care of millions of refugees. A French national government, provided it was docile, could decrease the problems of the invasion. Finally, its existence could prevent the immediate passing of the fleet in the colonies into the English camp. The Petain-Laval crew lent itself to docile service in this maneuver.

The war aims of France had been the liberation of Czechoslovakia, the defense of Poland, the destruction of Nazism and the reestablishment of a “free” Europe. It was in the name of these democratic and humanitarian undertakings that the bourgeoisie (aided by its agents in the workers’ camp) dragged the French workers and peasants into the fields of battle. After the defeat, the bourgeoisie suddenly concluded that it was not worth the trouble to fight for democracy, that democracy was dying throughout the entire world. Laval concluded an agreement with Hitler to participate in the “reconstruction” of Europe. And, as Hitler would not repulse those who fell flat on their bellies before him, a spokesman of the French bourgeoisie spoke of his “incontestable grandeur.” Yesterday the French bourgeoisie wanted to free Czechoslovakia, today it does not wish even to free itself. It leaps into the camp of its “hereditary enemy” and is preparing to aid it against its ally of yesterday. From one day to the next the “national” becomes “anti-national” and vice-versa.

Here is a great lesson for the workers of France and the whole world. The bourgeoisie (and its agents in the workers’ camp) everywhere and always curbs, in the name of “national” interests, the struggle of the proletariat for its emancipation. It persecutes revolutionaries for their defeatism and denounces them as agents of the enemy. The experience of France shows once more that “national” considerations serve only to mask the interests of the bourgeoisie which is always ready to change sides when it is a question of preserving its privileges. Let the workers learn a lesson that the bourgeoisie has once again demonstrated!

The Hitlerian “Peace”

Hitler has not as yet succeeded in invading England. The air force can decide nothing without an advance of armies to occupy territories. But that is not so simple. The war continues and can be protracted. Like a widening spiral, it spreads from continent to continent and tomorrow it will have encircled the earth. The armistice of Rethondes or the “peace” of Petain-Hitler will not protect France from the military vicissitudes of the continuing war.

Laval hopes that England will soon be crushed and he already sees the French bourgeoisie collaborating with Hitler in the “reconstruction” of Europe. Even in the case of a German victory, however, it is doubtful that Hitler can “reconstruct” much in Europe and it is still more doubtful that France can take a great part in this task. Goebbels recently declared to the members of the Hitler youth that after the victory they will remember war as the “golden time.” We can believe him. Before the war, European economy had, since the great crisis of 1929, lost all its equilibrium and could find a certain easing of its afflictions only in tremendous armament production. After the war, all the disproportions of a diseased economy will burst into full view, not to speak of national and social struggles. Here is what the “organization of Europe” by Hitler in collaboration with Laval holds out: worse times than the war!

The struggle for democracy under the flag of England (and the United States) will not lead to a noticeably different situation. General De Gaulle struggles against “slavery” at the head of colonial governors, that is to say, of slave masters. In his appeals, this “leader” uses, just like Petain, the royal “we.” The defense of democracy is in good hands! If England should install De Gaulle in France tomorrow, his regime would not in the least be distinguished from that of the Bonapartist government of Petain.

Churchill recently refused to discuss the regime of Europe after a British victory. He has, in effect, nothing to propose. The imperialist solution imposed in 1919 led to a new catastrophe twenty years later. Neither Hitler nor Churchill can regenerate capitalism. The whole system is in a blind alley.

The Class Struggle Continues

Hitler has reduced Europe to a vast concentration camp of nations. The struggle for the unity of all Germans has been followed by that for the unity of all non-Germans under the Nazi boot. But history is a sure guarantee that there has never been national oppression without national struggles.

The big French bourgeoisie has already succeeded in arriving at an understanding with Hitler. National resistance is concentrated in the poorer sections of the population, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the peasants, the workers. But it is the latter which give the most resolute character to the struggle and will know how to connect it with the struggle against French capitalism and the Petain government.

The workers begin their national and class tasks with little danger from French fascism. The Petain government, far from being the fascist regime which panic-stricken democrats label it, has no mass base underneath it, fascist or otherwise. The fascist organizations can have no serious perspective of taking over the government with any support. In the eyes of the masses, including the petty-bourgeoisie, the French fascists cannot but appear as agents or friends of the victorious enemy. Thus neither Hitler nor Petain find a secure foundation in French society. It is noteworthy to add that the same phenomenon has occurred in Norway, Holland and Belgium, the other countries where the Nazis have installed friendly governments. An atmosphere of universal hostility weighs down upon the Nazi victor and his collaborators, serving to demoralize them while it creates a favorable atmosphere for arousing the masses to struggle.

With winter, the blockade, and the war in the Mediterranean, food has become and will become more and more scarce. The burden weighs more heavily on the cities than on the countryside, more heavily on the poor than on the rich. That means that the worst sufferers are the industrial workers and the lowest sections of the urban petty-bourgeoisie. The government has no solution to offer other than bureaucratic control of food distribution. But the rich always find means of escaping administrative control. Instead of governmental regulation, there should be substituted control by the people themselves. Each town, each section of the city, ought to have its food control committee which can control prices and will supervise the allotment. The state functionaries are always powerless in the struggle against profiteers and speculators and are often, indeed, their accomplices. Only control by the people can put an end to those who are ready to starve the people in order to keep up profits.

For the workers, especially in the unoccupied territory, the economic disorganization takes the form of unemployment. It splits the ranks of the workers and erodes their class solidarity. Against this pestilence the Bolshevik-Leninists propose the sliding scale of hours of work. The available work should be divided between all the workers in the factories, with a minimum salary.

The cost of living will rise more and more. Tomorrow inflation can arise. Here also it is the workers who will receive the hardest blows. Their struggle for wage increases will be useless if they do not obtain the rising scale of wages.

Facing the economic difficulties and the menace of famine, regulation and control are necessary. The bureaucratic measures taken by the state are useless or simply are turned to the profit of a handful of capitalists and to the detriment of broad sections of the working populations. Petain is prepared to regulate production of different branches of industry, thanks to the economic “dictators” at the head of each one of them. To this state control, the Bolshevik-Leninists counterpose workers’ control by the workers themselves. No one knows better than they the sources of waste and anarchy in production.

To the measures of the Bonapartist dictators imposing everywhere the bourgeois bureaucratic control from above, the workers will impose their control from below, exercised through broad sections of the workers in their capacities as producers and consumers.

After having “regulated” the trade unions with the servile aid of the trade union leaders, the Petain government has now decreed outright dissolution of the C.G.T. It is an elementary class duty of the Bolshevik-Leninists to fight shoulder to shoulder with all workers, whatever their political views, against the government’s attacks on the unions. At the same time, however, it is necessary to make the workers understand that the reformist trade unions that they have hitherto known are the product of another epoch, that of bourgeois democracy, and that that kind of trade unionism is dragged along with bourgeois democracy in its decline. The trade unions that the French workers will reestablish will be organs of revolutionary class struggle or they will not be reestablished at all. In the coming explosive struggles against the German generals or the Bonapartist ministry, the form that the workers’ organization is most 1ikely to take is factory committees directly elected by the workers.

A Soviet Union of Europe

The present situation will scarcely last long. Up to now Hitler’s successes have been due above all to the weakness and decline of the democracies. The real test of the Nazi system has only begun.

To the fascist “reconstruction” of Europe; that is to say, to the perpetuation of misery and ruin, we oppose the Soviet United States of Europe, a free federation of the peoples with a socialized economy in which the profit system will be replaced by the cooperation of the workers.

In the face of oppression and dictatorship, the workers will not abandon the struggle for democratic liberties (freedom of the press, of assembly, etc.) but they must understand that this struggle cannot revive the decaying bourgeois democracy which has engendered this very oppression and dictatorship. The only democracy now possible in Europe is proletarian democracy, the system of soviets, the elected organs of the working people.

The French state of Petain-Laval has superseded the Third Republic of Daladier-Reynaud, That has been buried in the past, and nothing can make it live again. To escape out of slavery, oppression and misery, there is but one road, the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government.

The Fourth International

In a Europe which is the prey of social and national oppression, revolts are inevitable. But the essential condition for success is the existence of a revolutionary leadership. Recent events in France are the direct condemnation of the entire policy of the official workers’ organizations (the Socialist party, the Communist party, the trade union leadership).

After the defeat, the Socialist leaders who called upon the workers to shed their blood to defend bourgeois democracy, rallied in the majority to the Petain government, that is to say, collaborated with Hitler. They have demonstrated once more that they are the docile agents of the bourgeoisie.

The shift by Stalin from one camp to another on the eve of the war disclosed what was the reality hidden behind the propaganda of the Communist Party against fascism and for the defense of democracy: this propaganda had the sole aim of assuring Stalin of the aid of French regiments without the least regard for the revolutionary interests of the French workers. Since Stalin’s diplomatic change of front, the Comintern has replaced “the struggle against Fascism” with denunciations of the imperialists, above all, the British and French. But the basis of the Comintern’s policy remains the same: the subordination of the revolutionary struggle to the interests of the Stalinist oligarchy. In practice, the Stalinist parties now live from day to day on small adventures. In Norway, the Stalinist paper succeeded in maintaining itself for some months under the German occupation, while denouncing English imperialism in the manner of Goebbels. But in the United States, the Communist Party demands the alliance of Moscow and Washington, which is the partner of London. In France, the Stalinists are ready to launch the workers tomorrow into any kind of an adventure that Stalin deems useful to his diplomatic game.

Never forget, workers of France, that the premiership of Blum was not possible without Thorez! The guilt for decapitating the June strikes is shared equally by the Communist Party with the treacherous leaders of the Socialist Party and the trade unions. Today Jouhaux and Blum mean nothing; but their criminal partner of 1936-1938, the Stalinist bureaucracy, can still do terrible damage to the French workers. They constitute today the main danger in the labor movement.

One of the essential tasks of the French Bolshevik-Leninists is to turn toward the duped followers of the agents of Stalin, turn to the Communist workers and to help them draw the lessons from these recent events.

The unprecedented military defeat and the downfall of the Third Republic have introduced disquiet and ferment into all the old organizations. Now the torpor provoked by the suddenness of the catastrophe is beginning to be dissipated. Discussions will not be lacking, but neither will confusion. Alone of all the big and little organizations, the Fourth International can confidently say that its program has passed the test of facts. That is why it can boldly present it to everyone. This program is the socialist revolution attained by the methods of implacable class struggle. An entire epoch has been left behind, that of decaying bourgeois democracy. It has carried away with it its bourgeois-democratic parties and leaders, as well as the workers’ parties and leaders who had bound their fate to it. We have entered into a new epoch, that of the struggles and the convulsions of the death agony of capitalism. But this new epoch is that of the Fourth International and its triumph!

November 1940

International Executive Committee of the Fourth International