Bolivia: Long live the revoltionary program of the the workers, peasants, miners and students of El Alto!

For the Nationalisations of the Hydrocarbons!

Out with Mesa! Dissolve the Parliament!

For Workers' Militias and a Workers' and Peasants' Government!

The masses of Bolivian workers and peasants have begun a new revolutionary fight. This uprising has not come out of the blue. It takes place just weeks after the Ecuadorian workers and students, rising up as an independent mass, demolished the pro-imperialist government of Gutiérrez, shouting “Que se vayan todos” [“all go away" the cry of the Argentinazo of 2001] not only against the bourgeois institutions, the bosses’ parliament and the politicians, but also against the Stalinist, Maoist and Castroist leaders that helped to elect Gutiérrez as President and that, along with World Social Forum, continued to defend him.

US imperialism has imposed a severe defeat on the nation of Iraq, crushed the Palestinian workers and people, and because of the treacherous betrayals of the leaders, contained the masses in Latin America, strangling the revolutionary struggle in Argentina and holding it back in Bolivia. Now it has relaunched an offensive in its back yard to impose new colonial laws like the FTAs [Free Trade Agreements] and the FTAA [Free Trade Agreement of the Americas] to guarantee access to the natural resources and payment of the external debts of all the nations of the continent.

The renewed revolutionary uprising of the masses of Ecuador and now in Bolivia, the struggle of the workers and students in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the revolt of the students in Chile, the build up of workers and students struggles in Argentina, are the anti-imperialist response of the Latin American masses to the intensified attacks by imperialism. The revolutionary uprisings in Bolivia and Ecuador in Latin American; Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in Eurasia; the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses and the resurgence of anti-imperialist struggles in Afghanistan in the hearts of these Yankee protectorates, pose a challenge to the fragile stability created by imperialism with its victorious counter-revolutions.

These events in Bolivia accelerate from day to day. The government of Mesa did not oppose the hydrocarbon law passed by parliament. It will become law automatically. Obviously, fearing a new revolutionary uprising the bourgeoisie has made some small concessions to keep negotiations open. This is the position of Evo Morales: to negotiate with the bourgeoisie over the percentage of the gas royalties, where the national bourgeoisie acting as the junior partner of imperialism in the exploitation of the natural resources of Bolivia, asks for the scraps, while imperialism takes the lion’s share of the huge wealth made from plundering the gas and oil.

The workers and peasants, with the miners in the front line, once more rise up with the central objective: “Nationalization of the gas without compensation, out with Mesa, close down Parliament”

But the passing of the law far from calming the situation has stirred it up. From Monday May 16, the revolutionary masses have taken to the streets, with pickets, roadblocks, general strikes like that of the teachers, and barricades, raising the slogan of the moment: ¡nationalization without compensation of the gas and oil, down with Mesa and the parliament that serves the oil companies!

Since Monday the 16 there has been no halt to the demonstrations in La Paz, with thousands of workers and peasants, now headed by the miners, surrounding the parliament and carrying out pitched battles with the police, responding with "puppies" of dynamite to grapeshot and tear gas. The Congress of the Federation of mining workers that was being held in Huanuni suspended its sessions, and the miners are already in La Paz at the head of the fight. The urban and rural teachers have declared an indefinite strike.

On the 20 of May, El Alto stopped for 24 hours, blocking the Freeway, and once more tens of thousands led by the miners were mobilized in La Paz, and the bourgeoisie, terrified, evacuated parliament. A indefinite general strike was planned to begin on Monday 23 of May by the ‘extended’ emergency meeting [delegates of all organizations in struggle] of the COR [Regional Workers Centre] of El Alto, which included the miners, the COB [Bolivian Workers’ Centre, affiliates of the national organization of Bolivian workers] the Fejuve, [Federación de Juntas Vecinales, or federation of community groups] the students, the teachers and other sectors in struggle.

In February 2003, the cry was “Fusil, metralla, Bolivia no se calla”, ["Guns, shrapnel, Bolivia will not be quiet”], in October 2003 the cry was “El gas y el petróleo para los bolivianos” ["gas and oil for the Bolivians"]. With the repeated uprisings of the masses they have learned from experience, even without the presence of a Marxist party, that the bourgeoisie uses different manoeuvres to counter the revolutionary situation.

With this experience, the masses have not only confronted the government of Mesa, but their own treacherous leaders in the COB and the peasant organizations. In February 2003 and October 2003, the revolutionary masses rose up, despite these leaders, and brought down the murderous government of Goni [Lozada]. But the leaders of the COB and the peasants then took back control over the workers uprising, giving the power to Mesa [Goni’s deputy who continued his policies] who formed a new government of the Rosca [mine owners] and oil companies.

For one and a half years, the treacherous leaders made truces and pacts with the new government. The national bourgeoisie, with Evo Morales at its head, used the enormous mobilization of masses to increase its share of the gas royalties. Today, with this third revolutionary uprising, the workers and farmers are trying to break out of the containment pacts made between their leaders and the different bourgeois groups, and to free the masses to directly confront the capitalists in Bolivia and in all of Latin America.

Therefore, on one side of the barricades are the mine owners and its puppet government; the Castroite leadership of the COB (Solares) and Evo Morales, who represents the national bourgeoisie in negotiating an increased share of the oil wealth at the expense of the Bolivian masses. On the other side of the barricades are the revolutionary masses of workers and farmers who raise the demands “Out with Mesa, down with parliament and nationalize the gas and oil without compensation".

In the same way, on the bosses’ side of the barricades are the members of the World Social Forum, supporting Mesa in the same way they supported Gutiérrez – the servant of the IMF in Ecuador. On the other side of the barricades alongside the masses of workers and farmers in the struggle, are the internationalist Trotskyists, the Latin American revolutionaries. These barricades separate the classes in struggle in Bolivia and the whole continent.

The bourgeoisie is divided on how to defeat the masses that once more rise up to complete the revolution. Again the treacherous leaders of the masses are called upon to betray the masses’ struggle.

Facing the new revolutionary offensive of the masses the bourgeoisie is divided. One fraction, the bourgeoisie of Santa Cruz, Tarija and the Medialuna, where most of the oil and gas reserves are found, are campaigning, with the support of the oil companies, for much greater regional autonomy. On the other hand, there are two other fractions advancing different policies to try to prevent that the masses from throwing out Mesa and destroying the mine owners’ regime.

One fraction of the bourgeoisie, with Mesa and Evo Morales at its head, tries to contain the masses within a ‘democratic reactionary’ solution. It proposes new elections for a Constituent Assembly, elections of prefects, and a referendum on regional autonomy. This is designed to stabilize the regime and allow time for the different bourgeois fractions to negotiate their shares of the oil wealth and the surplus value of the working class. Thus Evo Morales opposed Mesa’s resignation and advised him to send troops to the oil wells to prevent mass occupations. He constantly acts as a ‘safety valve’ turning the revolutionary struggles of the workers and farmers towards parliamentary elections and referendums, rescuing the government of Mesa, the reactionary regime of the mine owners, and the Bolivian state from collapse.

Another fraction of the bourgeoisie tries to abort the revolutionary uprising of the masses by promoting a nationalistic way out. Mesa would be replaced by a ‘patriotic’ military regime that would contain the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle of the masses like Chavez has done in Venezuela. Solares and the Castroist leadership of the COB are working to implement this bourgeois solution under pressure of the masses to call for the resignation of Mesa and the closing of parliament.

That’s why Solares has said: "If there were an honest military man like Hugo Chávez, I would support him" (Clarin, 20/05/05). But the lesson of Venezuela clearly demonstrates to the workers and farmers of Latin America that, because of Chávez, Venezuelan oil fuels Bush’s military machine in Iraq while Repsol makes superprofits. In the same way, any general or colonel of the Bolivian army, even though Solares dresses him up him as "patriotic", will give the gas to the Yankees and not the workers and farmers. Meanwhile, POR [Revolutionary Workers’ Party] of Bolivia – that has already openly renounced the program of Trotskyism – calls for the convening of a Popular Assembly like that of 1971. That is to say, to repeat what General Torres, that supposedly ‘patriotic’ military man, did in 1971. POR therefore provides a programmatic left cover to the policy of class collaboration of Solares and the Castroite leadership of the COB.

The main objective of i.e. Castroite leadership of the COB and of Evo Morales is to prevent the masses from throwing out Mesa, destroying the mine owners regime, winning the rank and file soldiers in the army, and creating dual power organs capable of making an insurrection. For that reason, all their forces are used to prevent the miners, workers, farmers and students who have been struggling for ten days against the police and army, from taking the Plaza Murillo in La Paz, the seat of Parliament.

The treacherous leaders fear like death that the workers and peasants will take the same road as that of the workers and oppressed people of Ecuador. They know that if the workers and farmers take the plaza and occupy parliament, the mining bosses’ regime and the Bolivian semi-colonial state would be split wide open, and a period of dual power would be opened where the masses would counterpose to the weakened bourgeois state their own power based on their organs of struggle, direct democracy and self-defense.

For that reason, in the different regions and departments the bureaucracy has decided against a massive march to La Paz, but only to send delegations of the COD's [Departmental sections of COB] and COR's [Regional sections of COB] and the Civic Committees [FUJEVE] headed by bureaucratic leaders whose task is to restrain the masses and to withdraw them from the Plaza Murillo. All the bureaucrats of the COB, COD, COR's and FUJEVE that converge on La Paz, although throwing some dynamite "puppies", have only one objective which is to stop the masses from taking the Plaza Murillo and the Parliament. For that reason, Evo Morales called for the roadblocks to be lifted and a truce until Monday 30 of May.

That fraction of the bourgeoisie that is trying to revive the puppet parliament – to meet in session while surrounded by the miners, workers and peasants who have returned to occupy La Paz and face the police defending the Plaza Murrillo and the seat of Parliament – seeks to divert the masses by calling for new presidential elections, referendums or for a Constituent Assembly, to prevent that the masses from carrying through their demands to bring down Mesa and parliament and open up a revolutionary crisis in the regime.

Meanwhile, the officers of the armed forces are on alert over the "danger of the disintegration" of the regime. What deceit: the real disintegration of the Bolivian nation has been caused by the capitalist gangs –the oil companies and the national bourgeoisie. It has been caused by the national bourgeoisies of Latin America that, hanging on the apron strings of the oil companies like Repsol, Petrobras, British Petroleum, and Totalfina, try to profit from the plunder of the natural wealth of Bolivia that passes through Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Social disintegration is the political program of the bourgeoisies of Santa Cruz, Tarija and the Medialuna, that want to keep most of the reserves of the gas and oil for themselves, while 80% of the population of Bolivia must use firewood, charcoal etc for cooking and heating.

It is the insatiable drive for superprofits by the imperialistic monopolies and the native bourgeoisie that continues to oppress the Bolivian nation. The only class that can unite the nation and end the oppression and “disintegration” is the working class, leading the poor peasantry, and creating its own government, with its own militias, reviving the best traditions of the heroic revolution of 1952.

The Armed Forces, at the moment, remain on alert to defend the bourgeois state and safeguard its security, prepared if necessary to drown the revolution in blood if they cannot otherwise contain or divert the revolutionary advance of the masses. But the bourgeoisie will only resort to open repression if all else fails, because it is aware that to do could lead to another massacre like that which led to the downfall of Goni, and run the risk of splitting the army so that the conscripts would mutiny against the officers. This is the greatest danger posed by the revolutionary uprising of the masses because, since, in the last instance, whoever controls the army rank and file, wins. If the bourgeoisie retains control, it will suppress the workers and peasants uprising with blood and fire. If the workers and poor farmers win control, the workers militias will be reinforced by soldiers committees.

Long live the revolutionary program of the democratic base of the COR of El Alto and of the miners: down with Mesa! Workers must dissolve the puppet parliament, build worker militias and form a provisional workers’ and peasants’ government to nationalize the gas and oil, and carry out the program of the working class and the Bolivian people!

The strong revolutionary upsurge that has erupted in Bolivia must prevail. Only a provisional government of revolutionary workers and peasants supported by the organs of direct democracy of the masses, workers militias and soldiers committees, will succeed in winning the most elementary national demands of the Bolivian workers and oppressed people, on the ruins of the regime of the mine owners and their imperialist partners, who are the real expropriators of the natural resources of the millions of Bolivians and Latin Americans.

The masses, betrayed by the truces and pacts which their leaders used to prop up Mesa and his crony oil bosses, have begun a new revolutionary uprising. Against the containment policy of Morales and Solares, the exploited workers of El Alto have marked out the revolutionary road to the masses’ victory. On May 17 the COR of El Alto meet with the miners, the teachers, the neighborhood committees, the students, and voted for a program of struggle to bring down Mesa, for workers to dissolve the puppet parliament, for workers’ militias and Workers’ and Farmers’ provisional government to nationalize the gas and oil, and to carry out all the demands of the Bolivian workers and oppressed people. This program was re-affirmed on May 25. Long live the revolutionary program lives of El Alto, that marks a clear course of action for the preparation of a decisive revolutionary struggle that does not leave a stone standing of the government of Mesa and the mine owners regime!

This resolution and this program voted by the COR of El Alto is a slap in the face of the liquidators of Trotskyism and the reformist left of Latin America and the world. It says that the problem is not that the working class does not suffer from a "crisis of the subjectivity" "or underdeveloped consciousness” but rather too many treacherous leaders. The demand of February 2003 "Gun, shrapnel, Bolivia will not shut up"; of October 2003, "Go away Goni, the gas is for the Bolivians", and now the program of the COR of El Alto demanding the "nationalization of the gas and resources, a workers and peasants government and workers’ militias", proves that the Bolivian working class has raised the flag of socialism for the workers of the world.

Some months ago, during the March events, the bourgeoisie claimed that there were ‘soviets’ in El Alto. They were not mistaken. The COR of El Alto, coordinating and representing workers, miners, students, teachers, unionists, drivers and all of the masses in struggle in that revolutionary city, acting independently, called for an indefinite general strike, for armed pickets and militias –a call that was taken up by the COD in Oruro and other cities – creating the most advanced and authoritative organs of the masses in struggle. It is without a doubt the highest point reached in the creation of workers organs of dual power that is now being strengthened and extended. There is no more urgent task than to develop, extend and centralize the organs of self-determination and self-defense of the militant masse in preparation for the insurrectionary seizure of power.

The COD, the peasants’ organizations marching from Caracollo towards the La Paz, , and all workers, peasants and students organizations that are engaged in struggle, must elect and sent delegates of the rank and file, mandated and recallable, to the COR of El Alto!

In the dynamite charge of the miner, in the stones of the picketers, there are already the embryos of the workers’ militias called for by the resolution of El Alto. It is necessary build them urgently because the army generals have warned that the revolution means ‘the disintegration of Bolivia’; that is, threatens the profits of the oil companies and the big capitalists. They are preparing another blood bath against the workers and farmers. Nor will they hesitate, as they did in October 2003, to shoot the troops – the children of the workers and farmers – that refuse to repress their class brothers and sisters. It is necessary for the people to surround the barracks to win over the rank and rile soldiers, the children of workers and farmers! It is necessary to call on them to form committees of armed soldiers, and to send their delegates to the COR of El Alto! For the dismissal of the officers of the Armed Forces, killers of the people! The committees of soldiers will elect their own leaders!

With thousand of delegates of the rank and file workers and peasants meeting in El Alto, it is necessary to build a ‘soviet-type’ organ that represents the legitimate and democratic expression of the will of the vast majority of the Bolivian people. That organ would be the only one with the authority to create a provisional revolutionary government of workers and peasants supported by the organs of direct democracy of the masses, workers militias and soldiers committees. The government would nationalize without compensation the gas, oil and mines, and place them under workers control; break with the IMF; distribute the best land to the poor peasants; nationalize the banks without compensation and under workers’ control; create a single state bank that grants cheap loans to the small peasants; make a general wage rise and a sliding scale of wages and working hours; and provide free public quality health and education for the workers and the people.

This revolutionary workers’ and farmers’ government is the only one that can guarantee the unity of the Bolivian nation. It is the only one that can realize the most advanced form of bourgeois democracy, such as a truly free and sovereign Constituent Assembly. And it will enable the peasants to learn from their own experience that the most democratic of the bourgeois republics it nothing but a cover for the ruthless dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and that the Workers’ Republic, born out of the self-organization and the arming of the workers and peasants in struggle, is the only way to realize their demands for land and to break with imperialism.

Build centralized and armed organs of dual power, in which the revolutionary party can fight for the program that is necessary for the victorious revolution!

The crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat is acute facing the new uprising of the Bolivian masses. The collaboration with the counter-revolutionary leadership of the renegade Trotskyists reveals in its true light their total bankruptcy. POR Lora, in 1952 supported the “progressive" bourgeois Paz Estenssoro and the MNR (Military Revolutionary National) government, breaking all connection with the program and strategy of Trotskyism. In 1971 POR Lora supported General Torres and the class collaborationist front (FRA). Today it is in the counter-revolutionary camp in the third Bolivian revolution.

We are on the threshold of decisive battles. The revolutionary uprising of the masses begins to break the strangle hold of the treacherous leaders. The counterrevolution forces are preparing to abort or smash it. It is a race against time to build the internationalist revolutionary party that can lead this uprising to the victory of the workers and farmers.

In order to close overcome this crisis and build a true proletarian revolutionary party, the key is to extend the program of the El Alto workers and peasants so that organs of direct democracy and of dual power (councils or soviets) extend across the whole country. In those class struggle organs, the programs of all those who claim to represent the working class and its interests can be put to the test of experience of the workers and farmers who can then get rid of their treacherous leaders. In those organs the alliance of the working class with the poor farmers can can develop a unified command and break all subordination to the different bourgeois fractions. Inside these organs a small nucleus of revolutionaries, fighting uncompromisingly against the treacherous leaders, explaining at each point who are the workers’ allies and enemies, convincing workers of the correct program through their own experience, can create the revolutionary leadership needed to win.

The forces necessary to create a revolutionary party already exist. They are the miners, the poor workers, farmers and revolutionary students of El Alto who have voted for a revolutionary program. They are the miners, the workers and the farmers who, in Oruro, Cochabamba, in every city, every land occupation, every mine, agree with the El Alto program and try to unite and centralize all their struggles. The place of the revolutionary internationalists is with them, to unite with these advanced forces and fight for international Trotskyism in Bolivia; a fight that is inseparable from the struggle to regroup internationally all the healthy forces of Trotskyism, confronting all over the world the treacherous leaders of the liquidators of the IV International.

We call for a united struggle of the whole Latin American working class: Not a cubic centimeter of gas or oil must leave Bolivia unless authorized by a provisional government of revolutionary workers and farmers!

The pro-imperialist bourgeoisies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile say that because of the fight of the Bolivian masses, they will increase the price of gas. This is a lie, as the capitalist governments of Latin America raise the prices of the gas to rob their own nations in complicity with the imperialist monopolies!

Not a cubic of Bolivian gas or oil must leave that country, if is it not authorized by a provisional revolutionary government of workers and peasants! This must be the common cry of the workers of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and the whole continent!

The struggle of our Bolivian brothers and sisters is a slap in the face to Chavez, who has decided that Venezuelan oil’s not for the Venezuelans, but for Bush to enable him to fuel the military machine to kill in Iraq and the Middle East, and for the profits of Repsol or Corona of Spain.

The Castro bureaucracy – which has opened up the first Latin American workers’ state to imperialist companies – is on the same side of the barricade as Chávez, Repsol, Kirchner, Lula and Tabaré Vázquez, against the Bolivian revolution. It did the same in 1973, preaching the "peaceful road to socialism" in Chile, and in the '80s it betrayed the heroic Nicaraguan, Salvadoran and Central American revolution with the pacts of Esquipulas and Contadora. These "peace accords" brought about the submission of Central America to the US imperialism and to their recolonization today by means of NAFTA, the FTAs and the FTAA. Meanwhile the old “commanders" of the Sandinista’s and the FMLN have turned into "yuppies" and agents of the IMF plans, or become officers in the bourgeois armies, as is the case in both Nicaragua and El Salvador.

The revolutionary uprising of the masses in Bolivia, after the exemplary action of the Ecuadorian masses, means that it is now necessary for the workers and exploited people of Latin America to unite behind the demands of the Bolivian workers and peasants against imperialist plunder, oppression and wage slavery. The fight to stop any gas from leaving Bolivia for the oil monopolies, and for its nationalization without compensation and under workers’ control, now leads the fight of all the oppressed nations of Latin America to reclaim their natural wealth exploited by imperialism.

To achieve this, the most important task of workers and exploited people in Latin America, is to oppose and defeat all the regimes and governments that support Mesa and are subservient the imperialistic policy of the IMF and the multinationals in Latin America, such as that of Lula, Kirchner, Tabaré Vázquez, Toledo and Lagos. It is necessary to take the road opened up by our class brothers and sisters in Ecuador.

What the exploited people of Bolivia and Ecuador, and of all Latin America, need, is that the continental working class settles accounts with all the sell out collaborationist bureaucrats of the workers and mass organizations, to be able to create a coordinated and centralized movement of workers and peasants able to defeat imperialism and its regimes client states.

Against the revolutionary uprising in Bolivia, signified by the workers and peasants of El Alto calling for the formation of workers militias, the officers of the Bolivian army are preparing for repression. All the client states in Latin America are ready, if called by their Yankee master and the gang of thieves of the OAS, to sent their armies against the workers and peasants to "defend the constitutional order" in Bolivia. The US military bases in Latin America at Chapere in Bolivia, Manta in Ecuador, in Colombia, etc. have been put on alert.

As revolutionary internationalists we alert the workers of Latin America to this threat. We call for the expulsion of all imperialists military bases such as Chapare, Manta, the Malvinas! Immediate recall of the Chilean, Brazilian and Argentine mercenaries in the service of US imperialism in Haiti! We call on the workers and anti-imperialist organizations of Venezuela to put the 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles bought by Chávez into the service of workers’ militias that the COR and workers and peasants organizations in El Alto have called for in Bolivia! Left in the hands of the Chavista national bourgeoisie those guns will be used to prevent the victory of the Bolivian revolution, and to repress the anti-imperialist masses of Venezuela and Latin America.

It is necessary that the Chilean working class - whose bourgeoisie profits from the oil pipeline from Bolivia across Chile to the sea - takes in its hands the fight for the territorial rights of Bolivia. A workers’ and peasants’ government arising from the defeat of the civic-military regime of Lagos could establish fraternal and cooperative relations with a workers’ and peasants’ government of Bolivia to determine the future of the disputed territory.

The organizations who have signed this declaration declare that it is our duty as to devote 100% of our forces to the revolutionary struggle for victory of the workers and farmers of Bolivia, and to take to the workers and mass organizations in the countries in which we are based, the resolution that “not a cubic centimeter of gas or oil leaves Bolivia for the imperialist monopolies”, and to adopt as our own the revolutionary program of the workers and farmers of El Alto who are in the vanguard of this heroic struggle.

Long live the uprisings of the masses in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstán and Uzbekistán! Long live the heroic Iraqi resistance and awakening of the North American working class! Long live the revolutionary uprising of the masses of Ecuador! For the victory of the revolution in Bolivia, Ecuador and in all Latin America! For a Federation of Workers’ and Peasants’ Republics of South and Central America!

The revolutionary uprising of the Bolivian masses is not alone. Their allies are the workers and students of Ecuador who, like Bucaram and Mahuad yesterday, threw the US lackey and poster boy of the WSF Gutiérrez, into the waste-basked of history; they are the workers and peasants who threaten another uprising in Ilave, Peru; they are the rebellious workers and students of Nicaragua and Chile; they are the militant vanguard of the labor movement in the US, the Million Worker March Movement that stands against the killer Bush’s war.

They are the Afghan anti-imperialist fighters that are resisting the humiliations they have suffered under Bush’s occupying troops, and the anti-imperialist fighters of the Middle East who are imprisoned in Guantánamo. They are the Iraqi masses that continue a strong and heroic resistance against the imperialistic occupation and its colonial puppet government.

The allies of the proletariat and exploited people of Bolivia are the rebellious workers and farmers in Kyrgyzstán and Uzbekistán - nations of the former USSR where capitalism has been restored by the stalinist bureaucracy who became a new bourgeoisie as junior partners with imperialism. The workers and oppressed people rose up against dictatorial regimes and ‘pinochet’ governments, headed, as in the case of Uzbekistán, by the head of the KGB in the former stalinist bureaucracy, who ordered the army to repress the uprising, massacring more than 700 workers and farmers. In all the former workers’ states it is necessary to build revolutionary parties with transitional programs that can lead the fight for the restoration of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The workers and oppressed people of Latin America, the United States, of the Middle East and Central Asia; these are the allies of the Bolivian workers and peasants who march on the revolutionary road of October!

The renewal of the revolutionary uprising of the masses in Ecuador and Bolivia demonstrates the urgency of a continent-wide struggle of Latin American workers and peasants. These two great struggles prove that the only solution to imperialist plunder, starvation and slavery is the victory of a Federation of Workers and Peasants Republics of South and Central America. The North American and EU proletariat have a key role to play in defending the revolutionary victories of their class brothers and sisters of Latin America. They must strike at the heart of their own imperialistic bourgeoisies, expropriating the monopolies –British Petroleum, Exxon, Totalfina, Repsol, and other oil monopolies – the IMF, the World Bank and international financial capital that plunder and oppress the workers and people of Bolivia and Latin America.

Build the World Wide Party of Socialist Revolution, to provide the working class of Bolivia, Ecuador, of Latin America and the world, with the revolutionary leadership it deserves.

To make revolutions in Ecuador and Bolivia that can spread like wildfire, the masses need world revolutionary party. Today, all the liquidators of Trotskyism and the Fourth International have become the disciples of Chávez, Fidel Castro and the World Social Forum, and act as leftwing public relations agencies of the pro-IMF regimes and governments such as Lula, Kirchner, Lagos, Toledo, and Tabaré Vázquez.

The liquidation of the Fourth International into Stalinism began in 1948 with the adaptation of pabloism to Tito who was called an "unconscious Trotskyist", and with the entry of the pabloites into the communist parties. Today, the liquidators of Trotskyism have been subordinated to the Castro bureaucracy under the ideological authority of a leader of the Cuban PC Celia Hart Santamaría. She, with the collaboration and support of the renegade currents of Trotskyism, appeals to the legacy of Leon Trotsky, falsifying it in order to conceal the continental policy of class collaboration of Castroism and the completion of the process of the restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

The liquidators of the Fourth International have abandoned the struggle for socialist revolution. Some openly like the United Secretariat in Brazil, that has a minister for land reform in the Lula pro-IMF government that represses and continues to kill the landless farmers. Others, of many stripes and colors, proclaim the socialist revolution on holidays, but during workdays betray it day after day.

Today, the revolutionary program of the COR of El Alto is a new test that serves to separate the reformists, liquidators of Fourth International from the revolutionaries. On one side of the barricade of El Alto, are those fighting to implement their revolutionary resolutions in action, to defeat the government and create a regime like that of 1952 based on the dual power of the armed masses that is capable of taking state power. On the other side of the barricade are those on their knees before the "patriotic" generals, or before those who seek to defend the bourgeois parliament and constituent Assemblies in order to salvage the collapsing regime of the mine owners.

The theory and the program of Trotskyism have passed the test of history. The opportunist liquidators of the Fourth International have gone over to the camp of the World Social Forum.

The healthy forces of Trotskyism and revolutionary workers organizations, have begun to rally our forces and to regroup in the Liaison Committee for an International Conference. The objective must be rebuild the World Party of Socialist Revolution on the base of the program foundations of the Fourth International from 1938-40, to equip the Bolivian, Ecuadorian working class, of Latin America and the world, with the revolutionary leadership that they deserve, with true insurrectionary parties of struggle that give programmatic expression to the historical objective of the proletariat and lead if to victory.

Ecuador and Bolivia are the current life and death tests of the revolutionary program. The masses in struggle demonstrate their heroism, and they are already distinguishing, more and more clearly, their enemy. The revolutionary program and will to fight brought to the Ecuadorian and Bolivian revolutions, are and will be the rallying points to regroup the internationalist Trotskyists.

The revolutionary organizations who have signed this declaration call on all the healthy forces of Trotskyism to commit 100% of our forces to the victory of the Bolivian revolution and to combine to make an International Conference, on the base of revolutionary history and a correct program founds a transitional international center of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary workers organizations with the objective to found the World Party of Socialist Revolution as a centralized force to confront the counter-revolutionary leaders of the liquidators of the Fourth International.
  •   Long live revolutionary struggle of the workers and exploited people of Ecuador and Bolivia!
  •  Long Live the uprisings of the masses in Afghanistan, Kyrkystán and Uzbekistán!
  •  Long live the Iraq heroic resistance '! 
  • The revolution lives in the workers and peasants of El Alto!
  •  Down with Mesa and his puppet parliament!
  • For a National congress of the COB and the farmers organizations; for workers’ militias and soldiers’ committees!
  • For a Revolutionary Provisional Government of workers and farmers to nationalize the gas and petroleum, and to impose all the demands of the working class and the Bolivian people!

  • Down the truces, pacts and class collaboration with the bourgeois governments of Lula, Kirchner, Lagos, Tabaré Vázquez, Toledo! All of them must be watched in the mirror of Gutiérrez: all of them must fall at hands of the proletarian revolution!
  • Not a cubic centimeter of Bolivian gas or petrol for Repsol, Petrobras, Totalfina, or British Petroleum, or for their small partners, the national bourgeoisies of Latin America!
  • Down with the TLCs, NAFTA, FTAA and Mercosur of the exploiters! 
  • For a Federation of Workers’ and Farmers’ Republics of South and Central America!
  • Long live the anti-imperialist fight against Bush’s war by the dock workers of Oakland in the United States, because in the awakening of the North American working class the lives the possibility of the final triumph of the revolution in South and Central America! 
  • Against Stalinism, social democracy, all reformists and liquidators of Trotskyism! 
  • For an International Conference of the healthy forces of Trotskyism and or revolutionary workers organizations! 
From Class Struggle 61 May-June 2005

Australian Green Left Roots

In Class Struggle # 60 we criticised the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ cheerleading for Chavez. We print a rejoinder by one of its members and our reply [see ‘Venezuela and the Cuban Road to Socialism’.]  As we point out the DSP is aligned to the Castroites who are influential in the World Social Forum and play a treacherous role in the mass struggles in Latin America (see next post on Bolivia in this issue). It also has some influence on some reformist currents in Aotearoa/NZ, and may be the model for a future ‘socialist alliance’ between between the SWO and Matt McCarten. To expose the treacherous role of this organisation today we print here a short history of the DSP by the Communist Left of Australia which traces its degeneration from a self-declared Trotskyist group in the 1960s to its present pro-Stalinist, pro-Castroist position as the ‘Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ inside the Australian Socialist Alliance. It is a sorry tale.

Origins in the ‘Fourth International’

The origins of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia go right back to a split in the post-war self-claimed ‘Fourth International’ between the majority United Secretariat, and those who supported Michel Pablo known as the International Marxist Tendency. In Australia the majority led by Nick Origlass, supported the IMT. The Australian United Secretariat supporters led by Bob Gould and Ian MacDougall split in 1965 and put out the magazine called Socialist Perspectives.

Whilst there was an organisational break with Pablo over political questions, both groupings had the same fundamental methodology. In Pablo's ‘new world reality’ history was seen as an inevitible process that would revolutionise reformist, stalinist and even bourgeois nationalist parties. Therefore both sides of this split no longer saw the need to build independent Trotskyist parties.

Both groupings were thoroughly loyal to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) practicing long term entry work (deep entrism). John and Jim Percy, foundation leaders of the Democratic Socialist Party, were then Sydney University campus radicals in the Labor Club. They were recruited by those who produced Socialist Perspectives. Eventually they were to win ideological hegemony over the Sydney University Labor club.

The grouping around Socialist Perspectives, founded the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament which became the Vietnam Action Committee when Australia entered the Vietnam War. Its leader was Bob Gould. For the next few years a number of youth and student fronts were formed centred around their bookshop, the ‘Third World Bookshop’, which became an activist centre.

Inside this group there were differences over organisation. The Percy brothers were known for their belief in strong centralised organisation. On the other hand, the ‘New Leftists’ very influential at the time, opposed organisation, equating it with bureaucracy. New left meetings were often chaotic and bureaucratic (lacking structure certain stronger members tended to dominate). The older Trotskyists (MacDougall and Gould) were fearful that a more defined organisation would threaten their long-term entryism in the ALP.

Their youth group Resistance became very successful, organising high school students against the war and the Student Underground. During 1968 there was a significant growth in activity and membership. They also received a degree of notoriety because of their support for the NLF in Vietnam and with their booklet How Not to Join the Army. The ‘Third World Bookshop’ was raided by the police.

A number of splits occurred over organisational issues. The most significant of these being in 1970 was with Bob Gould who opposed Resistance being defined by political demands. Gould split away taking with him about one third of the membership. Both supported protest movements and an orientation to the Labor Party. The real difference was priority. This is shown by their support for Bob Gould as Socialist Left delegate to the 1971 Federal ALP Conference. In NSW the Percy group won hegemonic control over the Socialist Left within the Labor Party which never grew (in NSW) significantly beyond the radical left.

Bob Gould claimed the Third World Bookshop as his property because he was the legal owner and put in more money than others. The Percy majority pointed out that the Third World Bookshop was established as a bookshop for Resistance and Bob was in the minority. Within six months, Gould had lost most of his supporters to the variant of the so-called "Fourth International" called the International Committee led internationally by Gerry Healy.

Out of all this the Percy grouping renamed itself as the Socialist Youth Alliance and emerged as politically coherent with a strong organisational framework. They then formed the Socialist Workers League. They published a colourful and strident newspaper called Direct Action. Each issue came out in a different colour. They had the full support of the Socialist Workers Party of the US (SWP-US). John Percy had been to the USA. Barry Shepherd SWP-US leader had visited Australia. Allen Myers, an antiwar GI, migrated to Australia and joined their ranks.

Vietnam War

Now being fully aligned with the SWP-US, they took on its theoretical heritage, such as Cuba being considered a healthy workers state. The SWP-US was an ex-Trotskyist party in total degeneration. It adapted to bourgeois liberalism in the anti-war movement and Castroism in Cuba. Castro, they argued was an ‘unconscious Trotskyist’.

The priority of SYA became the Moratorium against the Vietnam War. They fought for a coherent single-issue one-point programme: ‘Out Now!’ They opposed calls for ‘peace’ or ‘negotiations’. They opposed the Moratorium being based around support for the National Liberation Front.

They opposed any orientation to draft resistance or against conscription. They opposed the slogan "stop work to stop the war" arguing that this underestimated the strength of the protest movement. They supported strong centralised and regular marches and opposed decentralised ones. They opposed the Vietnam Moratorium becoming multi-issue.

Their opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ slogan came from both the right and left. For revolutionaries, the point of internationalist solidarity is to sharpen the struggle against ‘ones own’ country by calling for its military defeat. This the SYA didn't do. They deliberately avoided taking a military stand in what was an imperialist war with the conscious purpose of mobilising as broadly as possible. According to SYA ‘theory’, which they still agree with today, the might of numbers i.e. public opinion, forces governments to act. This they counter-posed to direct action by the working class. Their strategy amounted to populism and public opinion. Bourgeois forces were welcomed as part of the mass movement. This apparently was "their contradiction and not ours".

They sounded left when they opposed the strategy of the Vietcong, correctly identifying this strategy as stalinist. They made the link between Stalin's theory of socialism in one country and the NLF call for peace talks. Of course class struggle anti-imperialist solidarity must mean a break from Stalinism. But the SYA opposed identification with Stalinism as it might scare off bourgeois liberal antiwar opponents and narrow the movement. This is a right wing opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ demand. They have since changed their analysis and now consider the NLF to be Leninists who pursued a revolutionary strategy.
From class struggle to protest politics

SYA adhered to the theory of neo-capitalism. According to this theory capitalist crises are over, and issues such as alienation were now more relevant in creating a revolutionary dynamic. In the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies in prosperous Australia, radical middle class people were concerned about many ‘quality of life’ issues. SYA were active around issues such as high school students’ rights, the environment, women’s liberation, gay liberation, anti-racism, anti-censorship etc.

In all these issues they pursued the same method — mass action around single-issue demands. They were, seen as conservatives, especially during the mass movement against the South African racist Springbok rugby tour. Virtually everyone else involved supported physical disruption of that tour.

In short, SYA were a Labor Party loyal league with a minimalist programme oriented to radical middle class protest politics.

In 1972, the economic crisis hit. Class issues came to the forefront. The Liberals moved some reactionary anti-working class legislation known as the ‘Lynch Laws’ bringing about an upsurge of militancy in the metal industry, the ‘movement for workers control’. This resistance continued after the Whitlam-led ALP was elected in November '72. During this upsurge of working class struggle the SWL were basically irrelevant. A group of Ernest Mandel supporters left its ranks no doubt itching to get involved in class struggle as opposed to student protests. They constituted themselves as the Communist League.

Communist League

A key issue in the split was what attitude to take to the ALP. In his recently published book John Percy has suggested that the difference was merely a tactical one of formulating their critical support. However if one reads SWL leader Jim McIlroy in his commentary on the 1974 Federal election, it is very clear that the SWL considered voting Labor to be a matter of principle, as opposed to tactics, since Labor was the working class party to be supported despite its leadership.

During the Whitlam years the SWL may have abstained from the militant working class struggle, but there was plenty of student and mass movement activism for them to build their league. They formed the Women's Abortion Action Campaign, a single issue campaign. They were prominent in defending the Palestinians in resolutions debated within the Australian Union of Students. They recruited some from the Communist Party of Australia – Dr Gordon Adler being the most prominent. But basically, they consolidated their organisation. In the climate of militancy during that period they were considered conservatives within the left. The Communist League described their paper as ‘The Women’s Weekly of the Australian revolutionary left’.

They entered into many significant debates with the CPA Stalinists on international issues such as Chile, Portugal and Vietnam.

The 1975 Federal Election saw them stand candidates for the first time. They have stood in almost every election since. Previously they were known to have opposed standing for parliament on principle, arguing that it was a barrier to their fight against the Labor leadership. The '75 election occurred after the sacking of Whitlam by governor General Sir John Kerr and his replacement with an interim Fraser government. Working class militancy and anger was immense. The left were extremely active. Of all the left groups the SWL was the least involved with the justifiable anger felt within the working class. They made a splash with prominent and colourful posters around protest issues (Women’s, gay and black rights) calling for a Labor government pledged to socialist policies. This, in a situation were a revolutionary general strike was being seriously and widely demanded.

In February '76 they renamed themselves the Socialist Workers Party. Of course this spelt out that they were to have a prominent presence outside the ALP. But they were still liquidationist. A few years later Bob Gould was to point out that ‘supporters of Direct Action were virtually indistinguishable from the official Left in NSW Young Labor, the Radical Leadership Group’. Gould at least had a faction which demanded ‘socialist policies’ (of the reformist variety). The RLG and therefore ‘supporters of Direct Action’ did not!
‘Turn to the workers’

As with their US comrades, the 1976 conference announced a ‘turn to the working class’ They argued that this is necessary due to intensified class struggle. There was no objective reason the turn to the working class was any more warranted in ‘76 as it was in ‘73 or ‘74. In fact the working class of ‘76 was more on the defensive. But the Australians turned basically out of loyalty to the US SWP.

By renaming themselves as a party and their turn to the working class, the SWP did form a sort of pole of attraction among sections of the far left. They won over some former members of the syndicalist Melbourne Revolutionary Marxists and some former CPA members. They were on the road to winning back those who split to form the Communist League which was seen to be failing in its efforts to build an organisation,

They were still strongly involved in protest politics. In the Timor Moratorium movement and the anti-uranium movement they intervened as they did against the Vietnam War. They had a single-issue broad populist approach. From these movements they recruited. But they didn't recruit from the movement for civil liberties in Queensland. They opposed marching for the ‘right to march’ because it was against the law even when large sections of the labor bureaucracy were marching. Once again they were considered conservatives on the left.

The turn to the working class was unsuccessful in terms of results for effort. The ex-student radicals joined the unions to form rank-and-file oppositions. While a few militants were won the class composition did not significantly change. And in no union were they a serious left pole of attraction. On the whole they opposed economic protectionism but sometimes made opportunist adaptations to link up with militants who were protectionist (Victorian Builders’ Union for example). In Wollongong they were controversial for standing against the official rank and file dominated by the CPA. For this they got a hostile reception and were disowned by almost the whole of the Wollongong left.

But they did have some ideological influence on the left. This resulted from the CPA Stalinists rabid turn to the right. In the major unions where the CPA had significant influence, the perspective of workers control of the early ‘seventies was replaced by overt class collaborationist protectionism. The CPA promoted all sorts of ‘Peoples’ Economic Programmes’ (PEP) basically to get the government to ‘save manufacturing’. The logic of this was the selling-out of class struggle, as the bureaucrats did with the Prices and Incomes Accord which they negotiated before Bob Hawke came to power.

The SWP was a pole of attraction because they were the most prominent opponents of the stalinist social patriotic schemas promoted by the "left" union bureaucrats, supported by large sections of the rank and file and sections of the academic left. However the SWP had an analysis which did not correspond to the reality of Australian capitalism. For the SWP, there was no fundamental restructuring away from manufacturing to mining nor any significant intervention by foreign capital. The reality was that during the ‘seventies, ‘eighties and ‘nineties whole sections of manufacturing collapsed, including shipbuilding, the car industry, white goods and the BHP steelworks in Newcastle. In short, because of their failure to understand the dynamics of Australian capitalism, their heartfelt desire to oppose both protectionism and class collaboration lacked credibility, especially in the eyes of trade union militants.

The Communist League shared a roughly similar analysis and there was joint work in opposition to the PEP. This facilitated their reunification. The Communist League were instructed to rejoin by leaders of the United Secretariat such as Ernest Mandel.

The formal break with Trotskyism

Subjective revolutionaries joined the SWP because they perceived the need for a numerically strong party which identified with Trotskyism (irrespective of its flaws). Many were purged by the Percy leadership whose lesson from their previous CL experience was to deal with potential troublemakers. But some remained as members. But what these leftists were joining was a party collapsing into Stalinism at a rapid rate of knots. With every crisis of Stalinism that occurred during the next twenty years, the SWP took one step further in a Stalinist direction.

In 1979 there was a third Indochina war when Vietnam invaded Pol Pot's Kampuchea and China invaded Vietnam. The SWP justified their pro-Vietnamese line by suddenly discovering that Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge was ‘state capitalist’. This convenient analysis meant they were not seen as endorsing an invasion of one post-capitalist state by another. But in no way did it square with reality. The ‘capitalist’ Khmer Rouge had even abolished money!

When the Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan, they endorsed the invasion more enthusiastically than their US comrades.

SWP Australia was formed in solidarity with SWP-US and therefore considered Cuba a healthy workers state. But on the whole Cuba had been a low priority for the Australian comrades. With the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, this was to change. The SWP Australia became their uncritical cheerleaders. The popular governments in Nicaragua and Grenada were hailed for ‘following the Cuban road’. They defended the Sandinistas maintenance of capitalism and their repression of the revisionist Trotskyist Simon Bolivar Brigade.

The SWP-US was also enthusiastic, uncritically hailing these revolutions and their leaderships. They also made a reassessment of Trotskyism, consciously breaking from it. But the Australian SWP went even further along the Stalinist road than the North Americans did.

For the Australian SWP, Castro was not an ‘unconsciousness Trotskyist’ but a ‘conscious Leninist’. Trotskyism, they now argued, was a sectarian deviation from Leninism. They repeated the Stalinist slander that Trotsky ‘underestimated the peasantry’. Basically they were arguing for a Stalinist strategy for the third world. One leading SWP member at their Social Rights Conference argued that if Trotsky's line had been pursued, the Chinese revolution would never have been won!

The Australian SWP then reassessed their analysis of the Vietnamese revolution. The Vietnamese Stalinists too became ‘conscious Leninists’. In doing this they stabbed in the back the very significant Trotskyist movement that had a strong base amongst the Vietnamese proletariat. They rehashed the same Stalinist slanders which they had refuted when argued by Denis Freney, the notorious Pabloite who became a Stalinist. They have since established friendly relations with the Vietnamese Workers’ Party and invite speakers from the Vietnamese Embassy to their conferences.

Of course this blatant turn to Stalinism led to a break not only from the SWP-US, but from the United Secretariat which they considered a roadblock to their efforts to regroup third world Stalinists. Here there is a clear logic. If the Sandinistas, Castroites etc. are revolutionary, then why have a Fourth International? Mandel and Co could not junk the old Trotskyism, or rather identification with Trotsky, so easily. So the SWP liquidated the fundamental class line between Trotskyism and Stalinism. As a result of this international break, Australian supporters of the United Secretariat and of Sean Matgamna (now called Workers Liberty) left the SWP.

Bloc with Stalinist Socialist Party of Australia

Internationally the SWP was pursuing alliances with left Stalinists. In Australia, they looked for an alliance with the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia (now called Communist Party of Australia). There was no way that the SPA would abandon support for Stalin, nor the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union or Poland (the SWP supported Solidarnosc), but there was some basis for unity.

The organisation called CPA at the time was heading to the right rapidly. And many SPA trade union officials were joining in. The logic of CPA strategy was to make an alliance with the Hawke government called the Prices and Incomes Accord. Under the Accord workers sacrificed wages and conditions in exchange for minor reforms which workers would normally expect from a Labor government anyway. The Accord divided the Australian left but the only official to have opposed it openly was Jenny Haines, a supporter of Bob Gould. But it was SPA policy to oppose the Accord.

The SPA stood by its principles and expelled the overwhelming majority of its trade union base, including prominent party leaders. They lost not only one third of their membership, but the significant membership in terms of trade union influence. Making an alliance with the SWP gave them a bit more clout and assisted their influence amongst young people. The SWP gained some contact with unionists. Their joint efforts meant more effective election campaigns.

Their main campaign was the Social Rights Manifesto. The title speaks for itself. Rights is a bourgeois concept and their Manifesto was for rights under capitalism. What this showed was that in terms of the Australian situation, the SWP and SPA had approximately the same minimum programme. The SWP called their demands ‘transitional’ and argued that the process was continuing. SPA called the Manifesto the first stage of their two stage revolution.

The SWP and SPA were also allies in the peace movement. Both opposed the right stalinist and liberal bourgeois view that ‘both superpowers’ were responsible for the arms race. SWP and SPA put the blame on imperialism and were clearly better in their variant of the popular front. Eventually there was a division of labour with the right Stalinists organising Palm Sunday, and SWP/SPA running the Hiroshima Day protests. Of these two the right popular front was the more popular.

All this stalinist maneuvering was too much for the SWP-US who formed a faction in Australia which were then expelled (forming another Communist League). This faction included former leaders Nita Keig, Deb Schnookal and Dave Deutschmann. In the US the Australian SWP had the support of former SWP-US presidential candidate Pedro Camejo. In the USA, John Percy and Pedro Camejo supported the presidential campaign of US Democrat Jesse Jackson and the protest campaign to freeze nuclear weapons.

The SWP-US and its supporters also objected to the Australian SWP's support for cold war right wingers at Polish solidarity rallies and its support for a Croatian nationalist organisation known as the Croatian Movement for Statehood (HDP).

Was HDP a former fascist Croatian organisation moving to the left or an adaptation by the fascists to co-opt the left? Either way it was unsupportable. The HDP, even with its left face, recognised the fascist government of Pavlevic whose dictatorship was backed by Mussolini during the Second World War. This fact alone made it thoroughly unprincipled, in fact treacherous, for revolutionaries to give it any positive recognition irrespective of its left rhetoric, genuine or otherwise.

The Hawke Government went to the right and started attacking unions. In response there was a national rank and file movement called Fightback which the SWP was active in. Fightback split into two wings. Some known as Canberra fightback, wanted it to remain a rank-and-file caucus. The SWP and SPA alliance, joined by the Maoist CPA(ML) wanted to turn it into a new communist party.

The Maoist-led Builders Labourers Federation was under attack by the Hawke Government at the Federal level, and by the Cain Labor government in Victoria which authorised an armed police raid on its offices. Legislation aimed at the BLF was a serious threat to organised militant unionism in Victoria. So the Maoists were now hard left when it came to opposing Labor. The pro-Accord Stalinists stabbed the BLF in the back, refusing to defend it from a capitalist state attack, in fact often endorsing the attack!

Understandably there was strong hostility amongst militants towards Labor. The SWP opposition to Labor also intensified. In 1987 they even endorsed the bourgeois Australian Democrats. They argued that whilst the Democrats were a bourgeois party, they supported progressive movements and were to the left of Labor on social services and welfare issues, and could be given critical support. At the same time the Greens were growing rapidly. So the name of the SWP paper Direct Action was changed to Green Left Weekly.

The Gorbachev liberal bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union led to another turn by the SWP — towards the Gorbachev leadership. As the Soviet Union degenerated rapidly, the SWP made all sorts of alliances with liberalised Stalinists. Devoid of any Marxist analysis they took their democratic credentials at face value oblivious at any threat of counter-revolution. They have close ties with East Germany's former ruling party, the PDS. In the spirit of democratic socialism, they changed their name to Democratic Socialist Party.

Meanwhile the SPA was going in the opposite direction. They wanted to hang onto as much of the Breshnevite past as possible. So there was a strain on the alliance. The SPA was then oriented to the Chinese leadership. The bloodshed of Tienamin Square, supported by SPA but opposed by DSP, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The alliance was over.

The DSP then oriented to the fast degenerating Communist Party of Australia who were aiming to develop a new party in what was called the ‘New Left Party Process’. The CPA were reassessing the Accord but hadn't broken from it. But the CPA did not reciprocate the DSP’s advances, and chose to degenerate in alliance with old pro-Accord ex-SPA bureaucrats. The DSP has tried to fill the vacuum left by the CPA degeneration.

Socialist Alliance

The most recent party building maneuver has been the Socialist Alliance formed similar to the one in Britain. The Socialist Workers Party (‘state capitalist’ and unrelated to the SWP-US and DSP traditions) was a key initiating force in Britain. Their Australian supporters, the International Socialist Organisation were joint founders of the Australian version along with the DSP.

What started off as a joint electoral bloc around minimal demands with equal participation by the various groupings has become virtually a DSP front. The DSP has now become renamed as Democratic Socialist Perspectives and has no public presence apart from the Socialist Alliance, though its youth group Resistance still has an open presence. The Alliance is now virtually a non-revolutionary party dominated by the DSP. Alliance candidates effectively stand on the DSP programme.

During the eighties, the pin-up boys for the DSP were the Sandinistas. They ‘reassessed’ Trotskyism and abandoned it on the basis of the Sandinistas' ‘success’. Had they any integrity they would have re-assessed their position in the light of the Sandinista’s failure. This they haven't done. Today they have replaced cheerleading the Sandinistas with cheerleading Chavez in Venezuela. They hail him virtually uncritically.

Another piece of DSP treachery has been its support for Australian troops in East Timor, sent there ostensibly for defending Timorese independence. It may be understandable that some bourgeois nationalists may take imperialist rhetoric at face value. Those who have some understanding of Lenin should know better. Australia has now imposed a deal which steals oil that belongs to the Timorese.


This is only an overview of the whole SWP/DSP history of liquidation and treachery. Essentially what started off as an attempt to establish Trotskyism on the basis of student radicalism against the Vietnam War, degenerated into a pro-Stalinist grouping, organisationally opportunist, and whose only principle appears to be cheerleading Stalinists and building a party distinct from Labor (but not reformism). They are good at tapping into youth and student radicalism.

Whilst on some issues, they find Trotsky's analysis appropriate, when it comes to drawing fundamental class lines they clearly stand with Stalin, especially in imperialist dominated countries euphemistically called the ‘third world’.

Many DSP members are good activists in their unions. The DSP presents itself as a strong and confident organisation. But it is the Stalinist principles which are decisive. For the sake of the revolution, these must be thoroughly broken from. The only revolutionary banner is the red banner of proletarian internationalism. The revolutionary tradition is that of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International. On the basis of this tradition a new revolutionary international must be built.

From Class Struggle 61 May-June 2005

British Election Leftovers

The recent election in the UK which saw the return of the Labour government with a much reduced majority didn’t give left parties much to celebrate. What the results show is that the British hard left has failed to capitalize on the massive anti-war feeling of recent years. The victory of Galloway standing for Respect did not change that. The main beneficiary of the anti-war vote seems to be the centrist Liberal Democrats whose position was the same as the NZ Labour Party – the UN should have decided whether or not to invade Iraq.

A Repectable result?

On the left voters were faced with a large array of socialist and Marxist candidates, maybe too many which may have led to many people opting not to vote at all. Given that the UK has a first past the post voting system it was always inevitable that the two main parties would be the winners, with the Liberal Democrats managing to win a few seats as well.

Some of the left (such as the Socialist Workers Party) hailed the results as a victory for the left, choosing to focus on one of the few seats where Respect did well. George Galloway’s victory in Bethnal Green and Bow was seen as a great victory for the left and the anti-war movement.

However, as the Weekly Worker pointed out, this was not so much a victory for the left but rather a victory for “the largely phantom right (Muslim) wing in Respect” which “sets the parameters.” Galloway is hardly progressive, having right wing views on issues such as abortion and immigration. The seat he won had a large Muslim population, which no doubt contributed to his result. Indeed, the other seats in which Respect did well all had high Muslim populations. The average vote for Respect of 6.97% went down to 2.7% when the top five (Muslim dominated) seats are taken out of the equation.

Galloway’s victory and the good results in those other four seats reflect the deep hostility to the UK/USA war of terror amongst the Muslim population rather than a turn to the left by voters. The vote for Galloway cannot be completely dismissed as a failure for the left. There is no doubt that it was a slap in the face for the Blair-led Labour government. They had kicked Galloway out of the party on ridiculous trumped up charges that he received money from Iraq. Clearly the voters didn’t buy a bar of this nonsense.

Popular Front

However, what Respect represents is a popular front and the danger of the left being captured by the right. The left should be seeking to win right wing Muslims to a socialist agenda, not forming a party with them and bowing and scraping to every reactionary principle put forward by them. The Socialist Workers Party showed by its actions in Respect how ideologically bankrupt and opportunist they are. As the main drivers behind the party they have been prepared to move any remaining principles they had out of sight in order to achieve a tiny bit of electoral success.

There is no future in this sort of popular frontism that obliges the left to bury its programme. The left must focus on a programme which they put to workers without trying to sanitise it for opportunist reasons.

If Respect didn’t do as well as the SWP like to think it did, the results for other parties on the left were even more dismal.

The Scottish Socialist Party dropped from just over 3% in the 2001 election to less than 2% in this one. This was partly to do with the divisions within the party over the forced resignation of Tommy Sheridan.

Scargill’s Socialist Labour party got an average return of 1.14% and Peter Taft’s Socialist Party dropped from an average of 2.11% in 2001 to 1.57% in the seats in which they stood this time.

All in all, not much comfort for the left which raises two major questions. Why can’t the left capitalize on worker disenchantment with Labour and score better results? Secondly, is it even worth putting up candidates if you are a Marxist or supposedly Marxist party?

Why don’t workers vote ‘socialist’?

One reason left parties do so badly is that Britain still has a first past the post system and a vote for a small party is seen as a “wasted” vote. However, even with a proportional system such as we have in New Zealand, it is doubtful that the parties would be able to muster enough votes to get more than 5%. The various small parties would probably cancel each other out, which would probably also contribute to electoral failure. In some situations, in-party fighting contributed to poor results (such as with the Scottish Socialist party).

Having said that, it is legitimate for the left to push for proportional representation as the current system is so manifestly undemocratic in the UK. Labour won a majority in the House of Commons with just 35.3% of the vote. The fact that people feel the system is a waste of time and doesn’t really change anything also contributes to a continuing decline in people bothering to vote - particularly young people.

Probably the main reason is that like Respect the ‘socialists’ all acted like they wanted to get voted into parliament to reform capitalism.

Because there was no chance of this and workers knew the election was going to be closer than the previous one, Blair managed to frighten them into voting Labour in case their vote for a left party bought about a Tory victory. This brings us to the second question. Is it worth left and pseudo left groups even bothering to put up candidates at all?

Watered down electoral ‘socialism’

For revolutionaries who know that parliament has to be overthrown it is still important to use elections to put your revolutionary agenda in front of people and try to convince them that there is an alternative to what passes for so-called democracy in countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

The Weekly Worker reports that the Socialist Party claimed that their leaflets reached 700,000 households and their fighting fund was increased. However, revolutionaries must make it clear to voters that you have no faith in parliamentary democracy to delver the goods for workers.

But the Socialist Party doesn’t stand in the British election to put forward a genuine revolutionary platform. It stood as part of a Socialist Green Unity Coalition.What do we find in response to privatisation? Not a call on workers to occupy workplaces under workers control but a bland statement against privatisation. The public sector unions threat to strike on election day against Labour’s pension plans, or the Rolls Royce workers call to occupy and nationalise the plant facing closure, should have been turned into the key electoral planks.

What do we find on the Iraq war? No call for workers to mobilise to strike against the war, to appeal to the rank and file military to mutiny, but a bland appeal for “Troops Out Now”. How will the Troops be removed. Nor do we find any support expressed for the self-determination of Iraq, victory to the anti-imperialist forces, or defeat of the British Army!

What do we find on racism and the targetting of immigrants? This was the most salient issue during the election. It saw a section of Muslims back Respect, but it also saw more white workers back the proto fascist British National Party. We do not find any call for workers to mobilise in defence of migrants, or to strike against racism in the workplace.

Instead of ‘open borders’ or ‘smash immigration laws’ which are policies that organised labour can fight for, we have ‘recognition of migrant workers rights’. How might these rights be recognised? SGUC MPs will vote for legislative protection of migrants rights of course. Here we have the classic watering down of a socialist program to that acceptable to workers who still have illusions in parliament.

Tactical Support for bourgeois workers parties

There is always the temptation to water down the program because in putting up a revolutionary program workers might well say, “Why should I vote for you if you have no faith in the system and are unlikely to win in any case?” This is a valid question. At the moment most workers still harbour illusions in social democracy being able to deliver the goods. Labour Parties were set up to convince workers that they could get socialism via the parliamentary road. Despite decades of betrayals, the lack of any alternative road finds most unions and workers still desperately clinging on to these parties.

While that is the case revolutionaries must offer tactical support to get these ‘bourgeois workers’ parties elected so they can be further exposed as anti-worker. Lenin spoke of this ‘critical support’ tactic as supporting the British Labour Party like a “noose supports a hanged man”. By standing as revolutionaries and offering the support of a ‘noose’ to Labour parties, we can win workers to a revolutionary program.

This tactic has been turned into a long-term strategy in countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The expectation is that as conditions change for the working class, splits in bourgeois workers parties (social democracy) will occur and revolutionaries may even be elected to parliament. Inside parliament their role is to stand on a revolutionary program as Liebknecht did in Germany in 1914 when he opposed the government voting for money to be spent on war.

However, though these bourgeois workers parties have moved a long way to the right, as yet no such revolutionary splits have led to the formation of mass revolutionary parties.

No tactical support for New Labour!

The left in Britain is divided over the question of tactical support for the British Labour Party. While we think that Blair’s “New Labour” is still a bourgeois workers party with links to the biggest unions, we think the expulsion of some unions and the virulent open attacks on workers doesn’t justify ‘critical support’.

New Labour has been a key US ally in the war of terror and the invasion of Iraq. It has passed draconian laws which attack civil liberties and fostered an anti-immigrant climate through laws which target immigrant groups. The list of anti-worker legislation could go on and on. Indeed every time you check the Guardian online or other liberal UK newspapers you learn of some new horror that Blair or his hatchet man Blunkett is dreaming up for workers.

One of the latest schemes is to get people to carry identity cards. This idea was dropped because it was so unpopular but has managed to make a come back with the Government trying to frighten people with the spectre of a terrorist and illegal immigrant behind every lamp post.

In summary, it is necessary to stand against such an openly anti-worker party, but only if it is on a genuine revolutionary platform and one which is honest. There is no future for workers if they enter into opportunist popular fronts with other candidates and other agendas which can in no way be seen as supporting a genuine left platform. Workers need a revolutionary workers party that fights to overthrow parliament and uses elections to expose the fraudulent claims of all parliamentary parties.
From Class Struggle 61 May-June 2005