Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist Founded Founding the Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction
Origins and History
The CWG origins date from 1970 in NZ when a number of students active against the imperialist attack on Vietnam formed the Spartacist League. This group split in 1972 when one group led by Logan and Hannah joined the US Spartacists, while another led by Gager opposed fusion on the basis that the Spartacists had not completed their split from the SWP (US). In an article titled ‘James P Cannonism’ Gager argued that Cannon was a US chauvinist. The Gager group viewed both the International Secretariat and International Committee as having broken from Trotskyism in the early post WW 11 period. They took the position that the 4th International was dead from that time and that a 5th International must be founded. Gager moved to Australia in 1972 and formed the Communist Left of Australia (CLA).
In 1981, a small group of NZ comrades, who had meanwhile established fraternal relations in 1972 with the Revolutionary Communist Group (later Tendency then Party) of Britain, also formed fraternal relations with the CLA and became known as the Communist Left of NZ. We adopted the tradition and program of the CLA. Fundamental to this program was the 5th International position also shared by the RCP (Britain). For us the post-war Trotskyist currents had all abandoned Trotskyism. The cause was ‘empiro-centrism’, the class location of the Trotskyist currents in the imperialist countries were embedded in the labour aristocracy (those privileged layers of workers benefiting from the superprofits of imperialism) which was wedded to the privileges of social imperialism (‘socialism’ at home paid for by imperialism abroad).
Empiro-centrism spawned ‘national Trotskyism’ in the semi-colonies. National Trotskyists joined forces with national bourgeoisies against imperialism instead of going all the way to lead the national revolution to socialist revolution. Thus they were complicit in holding back the complete break from imperialism, thus serving the interests of social imperialism. The Gager group traced this abandonment of Trotskyism back to Cannon’s war-time deviation into US chauvinism (defeat Hitler first) and to Pablo’s view that Tito was an ‘unconscious Trotskyist’ in 1948. If Stalinists could become Trotskyists by some ‘unconscious’ transformation this dispensed with the need of a Trotskyist party and a Trotskyist international. The betrayal of the Bolivian revolution in 1952 by the Trotskyist Revolutionary Workers Party (POR) under the leadership of Lora was the direct result of this process of degeneration.
We drew the conclusion that the way back from the historic defeat of 1952 was to rebuild Trotskyism in the semi-colonies and smash the social roots of the evil twins of empiro-centrism and national Trotskyism in the imperialist heartlands.
In the late 1980s CLNZ broke relations with the RCP (Britain) which had degenerated into a British chauvinist current, and fused with Workers Power (Britain) in 1992. In the discussions preceding fusion, we found WP to be a left moving centrist group that was making a strong break not only from Cliffism (i.e. from state capitalism to orthodox Trotskyism on the question of the ‘workers’ states’) but also from empiro-centrism. In our view the formation of the LCRI in 1990 from the MRCI was made possible by the influence of POB and POP the ex-Lora groups in Bolivia and Peru around Jose Villa. In adopting Villa’s analysis of Lora’s betrayal of the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, WP showed itself capable of learning the lessons of the post-war degeneration and the evil twins of empiro-centrism and ‘national Trotskyism’. For implicit in this lesson was the role of empiro-centrism in engendering the national Trotskyism of the Lora group that entered the popular front MNR Government. Yet, while the Villa group did not draw the conclusion that the 4th was dead, the majority of WP including the CLNZ did so and called for a 5th International.
WPs left moving centrism under the impact of the Villa groups’ break with Lora came to a halt and went into reverse with the collapse of the Stalinist states. WP began a rapid retreat into British or European social imperialism. It supported Yeltsin’s coup in 1991. The reunification of East with West Germany was welcomed. The NATO bombing of Serbian territory of Bosnia in 1994 was welcomed. It seems that whatever the ‘workers’ states were, they were not as progressive as ‘democratic’, preferably British, imperialism. Yeltsin’s ‘democracy’, West Germany’s ‘social democracy’ and NATO’s smart bombs, were better defenders of the ‘workers states’ than any brand of Stalinism. Just as Cannon said that imperialism was better than fascism, WP said that imperialism was better than Stalinism.
CWG, POP and POB split from WP in 1995 to form the CEMICOR (Liaison Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International). In desperation, WP entered discussions with the PTS of Argentina in 1996 which came to nothing. CEMICOR produced analyses (including a critique of the PTS –see below), political commentary and three issues of an International Bulletin, largely through the efforts of Jose Villa and the CWG, but POP and POB became inactive. By 2000 Villa had also become politically isolated and demoralised and CEMICOR was more or less defunct. It seemed that the CWG’s vision of building a 5th International in the Latin American semi-colonies was also at an end. We corresponded with the Revolutionary Workers Party (POR) of Argentina and reproduced some political statements with the POR. What we did not yet know was that a split in the PTS in 1998 produced the Workers International League (LOI-CI) in Argentina.
In late 2000 members of the CWG helped set up the Google group, Salta Solidarity which then became Argentina Solidarity in response to the revolutionary uprisings of that period. Among the contacts we made was Vicente Balvanera of the LOI-CI of Argentina who reported on the uprisings of the piqueteros in Salta. Balvanera left LOI in 2001 and was highly critical of it and full of praise for Altimira’s PO which he had rejoined. As a result of some frank exchanges, CWG was kicked off Argentina Solidarity. But more important, CWG made contact with the LOI-CI and began the collaboration that led to the foundation of the Committee for an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists in December 2002.
The LOI-CI breaks with national Trotskyism
When the CWG (and POP and POB) split from the LRCI in 1995, almost immediately the LRCI began discussions with the PTS in Argentina. CEMICOR criticised the ‘parity committee’ that resulted as an unprincipled bloc. The PTS was an incomplete break from Morenoism holding still to the view that the IC and in particular Moreno had maintained a ‘continuity’ with the Trotskyist program until 1989 and only then, when the greatest betrayal led to the restoration of capitalism in the workers’ states, declared the 4th International in need of ‘regeneration’. The LRCI on the other hand considered the 4th International to be dead in 1951, although its members were split between ‘refound the 4th’ and ‘found the 5th’ positions.
In reality, however both tendencies shared a similar origin. The LRCI had its origin in Cliffism which in rejecting the unconditional defence of the Soviet Union was the most extreme liquidation of Trotskyism into the labour aristocracy in Britain. It moved left towards orthodox Trotskyism in the late 1980s but reversed direction in the early 1990s. The PTS was a split from Moreno’s national Trotskyism, itself a chauvinist mirror image of European and US imperialism. To what extent then, had the PTS remained trapped in national Trotskyism, and more important, to what extent was a break with national Trotskyism the basis of the split of the LOI-CI from the PTS in 1998?
Under the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Bloc from 1989, the LRCI in imperialist Britain began to degenerate back into social imperialism which it justified in terms of ‘reformist resetting’. In Argentina, the PTS under the same pressure of events took a parallel course, reverting to the patriotic national front. The convergence of these two tendencies was expressed in 1995/6 by the formation of an unprincipled international bloc where political differences were buried for the sake of creating a new international tendency dominated by the LRCI. (see CEMICOR article ‘Another Rotten Bloc' in IB No 1)
The struggle of the LOI-CI (then the Trotskyist Proletarian Faction - TPF) inside the PTS was against the degeneration into national Trotskyism and its subordination to social imperialism. It objected to the PTS rightwing leadership’s adoption of the LRCI’s draft document on the world situation without discussion, and the LRCI’s concept of ‘reformist resetting’ In 1998 the TPF was bureaucratically expelled from the PTS and formed the LOI-CI/Workers’ Democracy to defend the program of the PTS before its post-1989 degeneration.
Both the CWG and the LOI were fighting rightward moving tendencies capitulating to the post-1989 defeats of the world working class. Despite our different origins and experience, we did eventually arrive at a common conception of the cause of this capitulation. The CWG originated in a British semi-colony and early took a 5th position because our first international experience was a fight with the Spartacists over the heritage of the SWP (US). By 1974 we had rejected the dominant imperialist based sections of the 4th as degenerate from 1946. Our analysis was that imperialist based Trotskyism had capitulated to the labour aristocracy and bureaucracy. Our experience of the UK imperialist based LRCI in the 1990s confirmed this analysis.
The LOI on the other hand developed out of Morenoism as a national Trotskyist tendency. As mentioned above we see national Trotskyism as the reciprocal semi-colonial ‘evil twin’ of imperio-centrism. It expresses the dominant interest of the imperialist ruling class by trapping the permanent revolution within the stageist schema of the national revolution. It forms patriotic popular fronts with petty bourgeois and ‘progressive’ bourgeois classes against imperialism and justifies this as the ‘anti-imperialist united front. As a result the working class remains trapped and incapable of carrying the national revolution forward to the social revolution.
But the PTS did not break from Moreno’s stalinophobia which included the Stalinists and Castroites as part of the counter-revolutionary imperialist front. In the 1990s this put the PTS into popular front alliances with right wing nationalists like Walesa, the Mujahedines and the Bosnian Muslims, against the Stalinist/imperialist front! When after 1989 the Stalinists restored capitalism and turned into the new bourgeois the PTS welcomed the end of Stalinism as the opening of a new revolutionary period! But like the LRCI, this revolutionary period was covering a rightward retreat into broad left social democracy.
The LOI-CI fought inside the PTS against this rightward movement, in particular against the turn towards social democracy. It opposed the anti-imperialist united front as a form of popular front. Since its expulsion it has taken this fight further. It recognized the roots of the PTS degeneration as ‘national Trotskyism’ which enters popular fronts with the national bourgeoisie, petty bourgeois governments like the MNR in Bolivia in 1952. Today is opposes Chavez’ Bonapartist regime in Venezuela, Morales popular front government in Bolivia etc. Against national Trotskyism that provides a left cover for these popular fronts, the LOI fights for an international regroupment of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary workers organisations to refound the 4th International and fight for the permanent revolution.
The Collective and the Liaison Committee
The form that this struggle for regroupment is taking is that of high level united fronts between principled Trotskyists of all currents in which programmatic agreement is the basis of joint action and the development of program, while at the same time programmatic differences are publicly debated. The Collective formed in December 1992 under the immediate impact of the Argentinazo and the US war on terror, began with the collaboration of the LOI-CI, the Group Bolshevik of France, and its sister organisation, Germinal in Spain, and the CWG, Lucha Marxista (Peru), (and a year later) the Poder Obrera Bolivia, all adherents of the defunct CEMICOR. We agreed on a program around the life and death struggles of the Iraq war, the popular front, united front, Leninist party and so on.
The Collective did not go beyond a fraternal federation and despite the high level of programmatic agreement, the BT, LM and POB resented the influence of the LOI in the Collective and accused it of using its funds to create an Argentinean ‘mother’ party and sending its cadres to infiltrate their organisations. These resentments developed into open hostilities and personal attacks on the LOI leadership as Argentinean chauvinist and domineering. In April 2004 these tensions came to a head and a split occurred.
Would a greater degree of democratic centralism have averted the split, or did the split represent an underlying difference over method and program? CWG thinks that the two are necessarily related. LM, BT and Germinal, and POP, read the LOIs drive to regroupment as predatory and sought defence in their national organisations – in the case of BT its residual Franco imperio-centrism, and LM and POB their respective national Trotskyisms. These organisations had failed the test of revolutionary regroupment by means of a dynamic struggle against national chauvinism in both its imperialist and semi-colonial forms. They could not break with the root cause of the degeneration of post-war Trotskyism and formed a propaganda bloc, the Permanent Revolution Collective.
After this split in the Colledive a Liaison Committee arose out of the originators of the Collective, the LOI-CI, the CWG, along with the POR Argentina and its Brazilian fraternal group, the FT, which had begun discussions with the Collective in 2003. It met for the first time in July 2004 when several other Brazilian groups, Marxist Workers Party (POM), Marxist Trench (TM), CCR, and Workers’ Opposition (WO) also took part. Within it, the LOI-CI, CWG and FT soon formed a left pole while the POR Argentina and CRI (Revolutionary Communist International) of France formed a right pole. POM, CCR and WO represented a centre group which since July 2004 has moved left from national Trotskyism around the questions of supporting and defending the Bolivian Revolution inside the Brazilian CONLUTAS. The left pole was prepared to form a fraction in January 2005 but delayed this until December to try to bring the center into agreement with its program. The Founding Documents of the FLT are published separately in the first issue of the Fraction Newspaper,
Long Live the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction and the fight for a new World Party of Socialist Revolution!
From Class Struggle 65 Feb/March 2006