DRAFT THESES ON PABLOISM, INVERTED PABLOISM, AND THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
by the Communist Working Collective
[First printed in Marxist Bulletin #10, “From Maoism to Trotskyism: Documents on the Development of the Communist Working Collective of Los Angelos”]
1. Following World War II, the International Trotskyist movement was thrown into a profound theoretical, political, and organizational crisis. Large numbers of Trotskyist cadre were physically destroyed through the joint efforts of the imperialists and Stalinists. World capitalism underwent a relative stabilization due chiefly to Stalinist and Social-Democratic betrayals of the revolutionary working class upsurge following the cessation of fighting. In addition, Stalinist and petit-bourgeois leaderships were successful in overthrowing capitalism and establishing deformed workers states in Eastern Europe and China. All these factors posed very sharply to the Trotskyist movement the problem of building independent proletarian vanguard parties.
2. The Pabloite revisionist trend emerged as an attempt to make the Trotskyist movement more “effective” by accommodating it to the existing “left” movements in the world. The role of Trotskyists was essentially confined to that of pressure groups upon these formations, integrating themselves into whichever forces seemed to have the most potential and hoping that these groupings, under the influence of the objective march of events and prodding by the Trotskyists, would be forced to adopt a revolutionary orientation. For this reason, Pabloism can be called aliquidationist tendency. Thus, during the 1950’s Michel Pablo and his International Secretariat pursued such policies as liquidation (“deep” entrism) into the’ social-democratic and centrist parties of Western Europe, the national bourgeois and petit-bourgeois formations in the colonial countries, and the ruling Stalinist CP’s of Eastern Europe.
3. Fundamental to the Pabloite world perspective is the theory, borrowed from Stalinism, that the world balance of forces has shifted in favor of socialism, resulting in a “new world reality” in which the tide of revolution is irreversible. For this reason, Pabloism can also be characterized as empiricist. This conception has gone through several variations. Around 1950, Pablo forecasted a Third World War, launched by imperialism to regain the upper hand, which would lead to the final downfall of capitalism and Stalinism. In 1953, the International Secretariat claimed that the isolation of the USSR had ended, eliminating one of the fundamental conditions for the bureaucracy’s existence and leading to the imminent demise of Stalinism. More recently, the Pabloites have declared that the colonial world is the main center of revolution in the world, that the anti-imperialist struggles there are uninterrupted and irresistible, and that therefore the working class can come to power there with a “blunted instrunent” instead of a Leninist proletarian party. Thus the problem of overcoming the crisis of proletarian leadership, the central problem of the world socialist revolution, is avoided, or else left to be resolved by the “objective process” going on in this “new world reality.”
4. Although the Socialist Workers Party had broken with the Pabloites in 1953, by the early 1960’s it became clear that the SWP was moving increasingly toward the revisionist methodology it had once opposed. This regressive trend most openly manifested itself in the SWP majority line on the Cuban revolution: support to Castro’s governmental bureaucracy in the hope that Castroism would be transformed into Trotskyism. On the organizational level, the SWP’s abandonment of a revolutionary proletarian line became definitive with the “Reunification Congress” of 1963, in which “minor” political differences were overlooked in order that the SWP could carry out an unprincipled reunification with the International (USec). In fact, the main political resolution passed at this Congress included all the basic theses upon which Pabloism was based: the change in the world balance of forces, the centrality of the colonial revolution, and the end of the USSR’s isolation.
5. Since the 1963 Congress, it has become obvious that, although Pablo has been discredited, Pabloism the method dominates the entire USec. The European sections have carried the “colonial epicenter” theory to its conclusion and have called for armed struggle based on rural guerilla warfare and entrism into the Castroite organizations of Latin America. At the same time, the SWP has moved sharply to the right, becoming little more than a support group for black nationalism, petit-bourgeois feminism, bourgeois liberal pacifism and the Cuban bureaucracy. (This is true although now the SWP claims that the Cuban revolution has degenerated — implying it was once undeformed.) The main work of the SWP and its youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), is building anti-war demonstrations based on single-issue politics — a plainly reformist and Popular Front approach. Thus all tendencies within USec, from the ultraleftist adventurism of the European parties to the reformism of the U.S. section, adopt the liquidationist and empiricist Pabloite method.
6. Another international tendency which adapts to the methodology of Pabloism, despite proclamations of representing the only anti-Pabloite international trend, is the International Committee of the Fourth International (lCFl), principally led by the British Socialist Labour League (SLL). The SLL, in its analysis of Cuba, uses the same objectivist premises of Pabloism and in so doing fails to grasp the critical difference between the establishment of a state, led by a Bolshevik-Leninist party, where organs of power are democratically administered by the working class (soviets) and the formation of a workers state which from its very inception is ruled by a Bonapartist bureaucracy. With this method they cannot adopt a correct attitude toward Stalinist and petit-bourgeois leaderships. They are forced, in order to maintain a firm “stand” against the Pabloites’ capitulation to these leaderships, to categorically deny the possibility that, under certain conditions (the most important being timely material support from the Stalinist camp), these leaderships can in fact establish deformed workers states. This position leads them to conclude that Cuba is not a deformed workers state but some form of “statism” (despite the fact that the Castroite leadership of Cuba has expropriated the bourgeoisie, set up monopoly of foreign trade, and established the rudiments of a planned economy. From this it is clear that the methodological approach of the SLL and its followers can be characterized as inverted Pabloism
7. This reaction of the SLL and its co-thinkers to Pabloism ultimately serves to reinforce the Pabloite current, for it cannot effectively deal with Pabloite accommodationis in a theoretical way. In essence both trends equate the deformed workers state with the road to socialism. Pabloism does this explicitly, by its support of Castroism and its one-time veiled support of the Chinese bureaucracy. The inverted Pabloites begin with the same premise, and are forced therefore to deny the fact of a social transformation in order to avoid giving this type of support. A correct Trotskyist appraisal of strategy and tactics toward these bureaucracies must start with the understanding that they are an:obstacle to building socialism, thereby ruling out any possibility of support, however critical, to these leaderships, and removing the basis of the ICFI’s Pablophobia.
The Fourth International
8. With the development of capitalism into imperialism the basic tendency of capitalism to weld all areas of the world regardless of their level of development into a common economic system which dominates and subordinates to itself each of its parts is greatly reinforced. The hegemony of imperialism over world economy tends not only to level out the various stages of development of one area as compared with another, one country as compared with another, but simultaneously increases the differences between them and sets one up against the other — thus greatly aggravating the contradiction betwleen the further development of the world productive forces and the national-state boundaries. This dynamic of imperialism inevitably leads to wars for the conquest and redistribution of markets and to the wholesale destruction of the productive forces on which human culture is based. The continued existence of imperialism thus threatens to plunge mankind into barbarism. It is on this basis, “on the insolvency of the national state, which has turned into a brake upon the development of the productive forces” (Trotsky), that the internationalism of communism ultimately rests.
9. The proletariat is the oniy class capable of destroying international capitalism and constructing a communist society which would forever eliminate all war, exploitation, and social inequality, thereby creating the conditions for the limitless development of human civilization. However, without the leadership of a communist party the: proletariat cannot come to power and establish a genuine workers state in a single country. Further, the international proletarian revolution can only triumph if it is led by a revolutionary communist international, i. e., a world party of the proletariat. This has been completely verified by the experience of the October revolution and by the subsequent defeats the international proletariat suffered at the time when all the necessary conditions for successful world revolution were present except for a revolutionary international which could lead the insurrection. Finally, to attempt to construct a revolutionary party separate from, outside of, or opposed to the struggle to build an international can only mean capitulation to national narrow-mindedness which is inseparably linked with reformism. Thus any communist organization which does not take the fight for the construction of a cornniunist international as its strategic starting point must inevitably degenerate.
10. The Fourth International which was founded by Trotsky in opposition to the degeneration of the stalinist Third International no longer exists. The advent of Pabloism has destroyed the Fourth International to the extent that revolutionary Trotskyism finds its programmatic continuity only in small disunited groupings scattered throughout the world and which for obvious reasons cannot lead significant sections of the working class in struggle. Consequently, the main international focus of revolutionary Trotskyism must be directed toward the conducting of programmatic discussions with these organizations in order to achieve the theoretical clarity necessary for an early regroupment which would result in an international revolutionary tendency which would thus become a pole of attraction around which future and more complete communist regroupment could take place. Only by using this·method is it possible to start the rebuilding of the Fourth International along the lines of the 1938 Transitional Program. .
11. To lay the basis for the complete reconstruction of the Fourth International, it is necessary to decisively defeat Pabloism through ideological confrontation in all arenas of the class struggle. Such a victory over revisionism would carry Marxist theory forward and thus provide the necessary foundation on which genuine international unity based on democratic centralism could be built. As for now, however, it is important to stress that the battle against Pabloismhas not yet been won.
12. Although an international revolutionary ·tendency has not yet been fully crystallized, the process of revolutionary· communist regroupment can and must be started. Sufficient clarity on the basic questions posed by Pabloism has to a large degree been reached thus opening up the possibilities for principled fusion of national and international organizations. It is to this task, to the rebuilding of the Fourth International through a process of revolutionary communist regroupment, that the· Communist Working Collective is dedicated.
19 August, 1971