From a Drift Toward Abstention ism to Desertion from the Class Struggle .From a Drift Toward...
Embed Size (px)
Transcript of From a Drift Toward Abstention ism to Desertion from the Class Struggle .From a Drift Toward...
Refo11 e fh,e Fourth International!
After Spartacist League Purges Leading Cadres, l'CL Flees from ,Class Battle 1n Brazil
From a Drift Toward Abstention ism
to Desertion from
the Class Struggle
US$3 July 1996 Second Printing, 5 August 1996
For more information. write: Box 3125, Church Street Station New York, NY 10008, U.S.A.
From a Drift Toward Abstentionism to Desertion from the Class Struggle ......................................... 3
Brazilian l\1ilitants: It Is a Crime to Abandon the Struggle Now ................................... 42
The Truth About the 1993 Berlin Hostel Defense .................................... 43
The Post-Soviet Period: Bourgeois Offensive and Sharp Class Battles ................................. 48
Reply to a Frame-Up "Trial" .................................................... 61
No to the Purge of Norden and Stam berg! .............................. ~ .......... : 73
LQB Reply to ICL Letter Breaking Fraternal Relations ............................... 82
A Note on the "Bolshevik" Tendency ............................................. 90
A Mountain of Mendacity ...................................................... 91
For more information. write: Jan Norden Box 3125 Church St. Station New York, NY 10008 U.S.A.
From a Drift Toward Abstentionism to Desertion from the Class Struggle
by Jan Norden and Marjorie Stamberg
Last month the Spartacist League, U.S. section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), expelled long-time leading cadres, comrades with two dozen years each as party members. This political purge was intended to silence internal opposition to the increasingly erratic course of the ICL's International Secretariat (1.S.), which has in recent months veered sharply to the right toward a policy of abstention from the class struggle. In order to carry out its bureaucratic action, the SL leadership had to trample underfoot the party's traditions of Leninist democratic-centralism, and even to violate its own statutes. The expulsions of Jan Norden, a member of the l.S. and the Political Bureau of the Spartacist League/U.S. and editor of Workers Vanguard for the last 23 years; of Marjorie Stamberg, a member of the editorial board of WV and alternate member of the SL Central Committee; and of Negrete, a member of the International Executive Committee and principal leader of the Grupo Espartaquista de Mexico, took place on June 8. The ruinous meaning and consequences of the I.S.' course were brought out less than two weeks later, as the ICL formally dissolved fraternal relations with the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil/Luta Metalilrgica on June 17, demanding that the LQB/LM turn its back on a crucial struggle it had undertaken, to remove the municipal guardas (police) from the ranks of the Municipal Workers Union in the steel center of Volta Redonda. When the LOB refused to abandon this urgent class battle, undertaken with the I.S.' encouragement, the ICL leadership abandoned them.
This is a sharp turn for the ICL and Spartacist League, with grievous consequences for the course of the party which for more than three decades has represented the continuity of Trotskyism internationally. The ICL leadership's recognition of the gravity of what it accurately calls the crisis in the party is gauged by the fact that Workers Vanguard, the paper of the SL/U.S., devoted almost half of its last issue (WV No. 648, 5 July) to these events: three pages (out of 16) trying to explain the split with the LQB/LM and four full pages seeking to justify our expulsion. These two events are intimately linked together, and not only in the columns of Workers Vanguard. The expelled ICL cadres had objected to the I.S.' renunciation of the 1994 Declaration of Fraternal Relations with Luta Metalurgica. Norden opposed the uncritical acceptance of slanderously false charges against the LQB/LM, raised in the bourgeois press by a pro-police provocateur in Volta Redonda, as an alleged "proof' of "trade-union opportunism," and statements by International Secretary Parks that the ICL should _never "set foot in that town [Volta Redonda] again." For this internal criticism, he was accused of "cop-baiting"(!) the ICL and of trying to "engineer a split with LM against the ICL." Yet less than three weeks later, it was the l.S. that "engineered a split with LM.'' And they did so precisely in order to avoid association with the LQB/LM as pressure mounted from the capitalist state on the class-struggle activists. The ICL leaders caved in to the pressure of the bourgeoisie.
The LS.' shameful policy in Volta Redonda was a betrayal of the working class, and particularly of the ICL's Trotskyist program, the program we continue to defend. This fact is cyni-
cally disguised in the Workers Vanguard articles, and was also hidden in good part from the ICL membership. While WV professed to support "Revolutionary Trotskyism, Not Trade-Union Oppor-tunism," readers were not informed that the fraternal relations with the Brazilian comrades were broken "one day before the union assembly called to separate the police from the municipal union!" as the LQB's 4 July letter answering the ICL bitterly pointed out. Two days earlier, ICL represen-tatives had told the LQB that there was a danger of a bloody confrontation if it continued to pursue the fight to oust the cops from the union. With its forces, they claimed, the LQB "cannot, at this time, stand up to this whole offensive of bourgeois reaction, which is trying to destroy the union and which is trying to wait for the best moment to destroy our organization in Brazil.. .. We are telling you: let's pull our hands out of that boiling water and dedicate our attention and time to building a revolutionary party." What a grotesque perversion ofLeninism--"building a revolutionary party" by pulling one's hands out of the boiling water of the class struggle!
This was not some off-hand remark, but the synthesis of a whole policy that has been pursued for some time by what Parks terms "the new LS." On June 5, the LS. passed a motion saying that "given the sinister provocations and threats of state repression," assoeiation of the ICL with the union work of the LQB/LM "presents unacceptable risks to the vanguard"-as well, it said, to the LQ~ and the union itself. A June I I letter to the LQB by Parks declared that continued leadership of the umon was "not sustainable. 11 In the meeting with the LQB immediately before the ICL broke relations, ICL representatives told the Brazilian comrades that it was necessary to "to formally leave" the "leader-ship of the union," because it was "the most prominent issue" used by the bourgeoisie against them when the union "is in the crosshairs" of the bourgeois state. But in the face of these risks, the Brazilian revolutionaries cannot simply walk away from the struggle at its high point without being traitors to the workers' cause. It is to its immense credit that the LQB categorically rejected the I.S.' outrageous demand, and has continued to fight for the separation of the cops from the union. The ICL will be known for years. in Latin America and elsewhere, for its ignominious flight from this battle because it deemed the "risks to the vanguard" to be "unacceptable."
But more than that, in calling on the Brazilian comrades to walk away from the responsi-bilities of leadership they have undertaken in the class struggle, the I.S. policy and the view ex-pressed by its representatives point toward a fundamental revision of Leninism on the central question of the revolutionary party. V.I. Lenin, the founder of the Russian Bolsheviks and co-leader together with Trotsky of the Russian October Revolution of 1917, insisted in his fundamental work, What Is To Be Done? (1902):
"Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers. The sphere from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships of all classes and strata to the state and the government, the sphere of the interrelations between all classes."
The fact that communist consciousness must be brought to the workers from without is the funda-mental reason why there must be a separate party of professional revolutionaries. But that party does not stand outside the working class and its struggles-rather it is the most conscious part of the
June 5 and 11 quotations retranslated from Portuguese.
proletariat fused with declassed revolutionary intellectuals. This is axiomatic for Trotskyists, who stand on the program of the early Communist International led by Lenin and Trotsky. The theses on "The Role of the Communist Party in Proletarian Revolution" (July 1920) of the Second Congress of the Comintern stated:
n 1. The Communist Party is a part of the working class, the most advanced, politically conscious and revolutionary part. The Communist Party is composed of the best, most poli-tically conscious, most dedicated and far-sighted workers. The Communist Party has no in-terests other than those of the working class. It differs from the general mass of workers in that it surveys the whole historical path of the working class in its totality, and tries at each stage of the struggle to defend the interests of the working class as a whole, rather than of individual groups or trades. The Communist Party is the organizational and political lever which assists the more advanced part of the working class to direct the mass of the proletariat and semi-proletariat onto the right path