CWI/Socialist Alternative: centrists for Bernie Sanders
No support to capitalist candidates, for a workers’ party in the U.S.!
By Icaro Kaleb, August 2016
An appeal for help translating articles: this article was translated to English by non-native speakers and we apologize for any misspelling and other errors it may contain. Revolutionary Regroupment has an internationalist perspective of growing around the globe and we want to make more of our political literature available in English and other languages. If you want to help us in this internationalist goal by translating our articles or providing support to improve our translations, please contact us at email@example.com Thank you!
[This article started being written when the primaries were still going on. Therefore it does not take into consideration more recent CWI positions. No repudiation of the positions discussed in this piece has been made, though.]
The 2016 US presidential election primaries are over. The Republican Party chose Donald Trump, a hateful billionaire who was once the host of the TV reality-show “The Apprentice”. He is not afraid to hide his prejudice against Hispanics and immigrants, Muslims and blacks. On the contrary, these disgusting features are seen as “saying what he means” by a base of reactionary supporters that have built rallies across the country. Despite the fear of “instability” that his open bigotry, provocative and conspiratorial style cause among some members of the Republican establishment, Trump is ultimately just one more candidate for the big capitalists. If elected, he would have no problem adapting to the interests of US imperialist rulers.
The same can be said of former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was nominated by the Democratic Party. Among all candidates during the primaries, Clinton is the one that had more support from Wall Street’s banks and financial institutions, for her record of good services for the American bourgeoisie. She at times tries to show a “human face”, but in reality is a strong supporter of the Obama administration and the maintenance of a system of social injustice and oppression. Obama is always “sorry” for the racist crimes committed by police forces, but no change is ever made; the fear and super exploitation of millions of illegal immigrants continue; the American empire carries on with its operations worldwide, including Syria.
Clinton’s main adversary during the Democratic primaries was Vermont’s senator Bernie Sanders, who certainly represented something different in this dispute. Sanders claims to be a “Socialist” and only received small donations for his campaign. He had enormous support from young people who reject the sexism, racism and homophobia of American society and are critical of the effects of capitalism. Some of Sanders’ constant points against Clinton was his opposition at the time to the Iraq war and his defense of a public healthcare system. His campaign won several states.
This shows that many young people are interested in ideas that escape the typical polarization between liberals/conservatives that usually dominates the American political debate. In a context of huge movements against the racist system following the police murders of black people and due to the understanding that “capitalism is not working” after years of recession, this shows it is possible to build political movements to the left of the mainstream democrats. But can Bernie Sanders’ campaign help building a working class revolutionary party?
We believe that despite some progressive measures that Sanders advocated for – like the raise in the minimum wage to $15/hour, more taxes on the rich and a public healthcare – his campaign defended the continuation of the social economic system that is an antithesis to this and a roadblock to social equality and the end of oppressions – capitalism. Sanders himself has always made it very clear that his idea of “Socialism” is the model of capitalism of some European countries. Although it is possible, as a result of mass struggles, to achieve some of the reforms he proposed under capitalism, the big capitalists would still keep the state and economic power necessary to eventually revert them. This is why one should have no illusions in this kind of political project. It was necessary to warn Sanders’ supporters of the dead end of attempts to make the capitalist system rational or “humane”.
Also, Sanders was not an independent “progressive”. His campaign was for one of the two parties of big capital and he actively sought to recruit people into many non-progressive ideals represented by the Democrats. In spite of having been elected as an independent, Bernie is with the Democrats in most important issues. He did not support the war on Iraq, but has been a consistent supporter of American imperialism action worldwide, from the bombing in Serbia in the late 1990s, to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the recent operations in Libya and Syria. During the primaries, he declared he would support Hillary Clinton in case she were chosen as party candidate. This support was reinforced after the end of the primaries, what shows his commitment to the Democrat establishment.
Revolutionaries must oppose all capitalist candidates, including those with allegedly “progressive” features like Sanders. As defended by the Communist International led by V. I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, we believe the working class cannot change its situation as an oppressed class through bourgeois elections. Revolutionaries have an interest in them due to the attention elections usually draw. Our intent is to explain the communist program and expose the falsehood of a “democracy” established on the drastic inequality between exploiters and exploited, which includes campaigning against all capitalist candidates.
It is sometimes even useful to give a “critical vote” to working class candidates that run on an independent platform, with workers’ demands and in opposition to the capitalists and their parties, as a way of showing support to such program (as well as exposing the limits of reformist or centrist groups). That was definitely not the case with Sanders. Supporting him meant helping pushing the youth and the workers towards the “graveyard of social movements” that is the Democratic Party. If victorious in the general elections Sanders would not attack the “1%” billionaires and the roots of their power, but only try to “reduce their influence”, which is quite a fallacy when they maintain the property of the means of production, the banks, control the state bureaucracy and the police forces etc. There is absolutely nothing about Sanders’ campaign that could justify an iota of support from a communist. Revolutionaries should instead have sent a clear message to his supporters: only working class struggles can really produce big changes towards social equality. And definite change can only be achieved through the working class obtaining political power. More than ever, now that the American youth is inclined to more radical ideas, it is necessary to break from the Democratic Party and build a workers’ party to fight for their immediate as well as historical interests: a Socialism very different from Sanders’.
Socialist Alternative (SAlt) is the American section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), an organization that claims adherence to Trotskyism. It was one of Sanders’ most enthusiastic supporters during the primaries. They organized a “Movement for Bernie” with the purpose of helping his candidacy and declared that they would support him as an independent if he didn’t win the nomination. They also said they’re for a party of the “99%” built around Sanders’ campaign. SAlt/CWI has played a shameful role by helping Sanders expand his influence among the youth. Instead of possibly contributing to building a workers’ party in the US, SAlt supporters are jumping Sanders’ bandwagon towards a dead end. While it did it though, SAlt raised a few “arguments” in an attempt to justify what they were doing.
CWI section in Brazil published a polemical piece in response to criticisms raised against them on the left, in an attempt to maintain its integrity as a revolutionary organization (Socialists and Bernie Sanders’ campaign – a debate with the PSTU, March 4, 2016). When not indicated otherwise, the quotes in this article were translated to English from that piece.
Sanders and Socialist Alternative
The CWI says there are risks for the left involving Sanders’ campaign. One of them is “a non-critical and opportunist position towards Sanders, not criticizing his errors, or even having illusions in the possibility of turning the Democratic Party to the left”. Later it says that “Socialist Alternative has never hidden its disagreements with Bernie Sanders”. Then there’s a short list of criticisms against him, some of which we ourselves would raise, such as the true meaning of his “Socialism”. According to the CWI, on foreign policy, Sanders “has taken more complicated and even mistaken positions” (our emphasis). As we like to call things by their own name, we say Sanders is a supporter of American imperialist crimes.
But is it true that SAlt “has never hidden its disagreements with Bernie Sanders”? Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative’s elected City Council member in Seattle has been participating in many activities that the “Movement for Bernie” is sponsoring. One of those was a Sanders’ rally in the primaries in the state of Washington. Sawant addressed Sanders in her speech:
“Seattle, are you ready for a political revolution? Are you ready to welcome Bernie Sanders to the first major city that won a $15 minimum wage?… Last November I got re-elected despite half a million in corporate cash being thrown against us. That’s what Bernie’s campaign is about: Fighting back and throwing out the rulebook of corporate politics…. That is what democratic Socialism is – putting people and the planet over profits! We need a President who fights for working people, for unions, and for immigrants. We do NOT need a President who has taken millions from Wall Street banks! Because as Bernie says, Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street controls the Congress. Big corporations fund and control these political parties. I agree with Bernie, we need to think big and outside the box.… I want to feel the Bern through November, how about you? We need to build a revolution that can really take our country out of the hands of billionaires and into the hands of working people.”
– Video: Socialist Kshama Sawant speaks at Bernie Sanders’ mass rally. March 27, 2016.
In this speech, as in many of their enthusiastic statements in support of Sanders, Sawant and the “Movement for Bernie” did not dare to raise the flimsiest criticism against him. It is impossible to find one line in this speech that is critical of Sanders. On the contrary, SAlt is attempting to blend the idea of “a revolution that can really take our country out of the hands of billionaires” and his candidacy, which obviously did not represent that. Moments such as this, in which Sawant had the attention of nearly twenty thousand people in Seattle would be perfect for her to discuss the falsehood of Sanders’ “Socialism” and his veiled support to the Obama administration, his support of the imperialist interventions overseas and his promise to collaborate with Hillary Clinton if she won the primaries. Where did all these criticisms go? With these characteristics, can Bernie really be a president “who fights for working people”?
The CWI claim that they do not hide their criticisms while supporting Sanders is a sheer lie, a weak argument to cover their blatant capitulation to Sanders. SAlt can at times make very soft criticisms of Sanders in articles of more limited circulation, like the article we are discussing. But in all their public statements, mass speeches and leaflets, these criticisms disappear into thin air.
Sanders and the need of a workers’ party in the US
The CWI’s article says that “Socialist Alternative has since the beginning clearly stated its position: we defend building a new workers’ party, a party to defend the 99%”. But there is a contradiction here, since at the same time SAlt was supporting a candidate of the Democratic Party, a party of the imperialist bourgeoisie (the “1%” if you will). SAlt suggested that Sanders broke with the Democrats and launched a campaign for an independent political party. But they also stated their support for him if he continued running for the Democrats or if he ran for the Green Party, which is also not a working class party and attracts part of the voters who are dissatisfied with the two big parties:
“We must recognize the risks with Sanders’ campaign. Socialist Alternative has since the beginning defended that Sanders should have run as an independent to avoid creating illusions in the Democrats, which is a party of the ruling class in America. An independent Sanders campaign, or if he ran for a radical small formation, like the Green Party, would be an important step to building a workers’ alternative. But facing the accomplished fact, Socialists had to take a position. Socialist Alternative’s position was that Sanders’ campaign would attract big support, specially from the youth, in which a majority prefers ‘Socialism’ to ‘capitalism’ while of course still carrying a big confusion about what ‘Socialism’ means”.
But despite recognizing the contradiction in defending a workers’ party while for months supporting a candidate of a bourgeois party, the CWI had no problem with it since Sanders attracted “big support”. One cannot seriously advocate a “Break with the Two Parties of Big Business” while campaigning for a Democrat. But even if this was not the case, the party Sanders decided to run for would not change the nature of his pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist, dubious “Socialism”. That Socialist Alternative was willing to support him even when he opted for the Democrats is a striking display of opportunism. SAlt is now supporting Green Party’s candidate Jill Stein while continues to put pressure on Sanders to run as an independent and start building a “party for the 99%”:
“That’s why Socialist Alternative is calling on Bernie to continue running through November as an independent if he is blocked in the rigged primary process. Win or lose in the general election, an independent Sanders campaign could win millions of votes and lay the foundations for a new party of the 99%.
“On the other hand, if despite all their dirty tricks against him, Sanders remains loyal to the Democratic Party and backs Clinton in the general election, it would mean the demoralization and disorganization of our movement.”
“There is still time for Sanders to run as an independent or to appeal to Jill Stein and the Green Party to join their ticket. While the Greens have generally remained aloof from Sanders’ campaign, Stein has repeatedly indicated that she is open to collaborating with Bernie if breaks from the Democrats.”
— Time to launch a new Party for the 99%. April 28, 2016
(As a side comment, even the Green Party candidate, who isn’t a Marxist, had more principles than SAlt on this issue and conditioned her collaboration with Sanders to a previous break from the Democrats).
The CWI is calling Sanders to launch a “party for the 99%”. Trotskyists usually call for building a powerful working class party to oppose the parties of the ruling class. But we want such party to fight for socialist revolution, not just improvements for workers within capitalism. If there was a movement for the creation of a workers’ party, Trotskyists would participate with their own program against all sorts of reformist or centrist currents. This was well explained by Trotsky on his discussions about a labor party in America in the 1930s:
“It would be absurd to say that we advocate a reformist party. We can say to the leaders of the LNPL [Labor’s Non-Partisan League, political movement associated with the CIO]: ‘You’re making of this movement a purely opportunistic appendage to the Democrats.’ It’s a question of a pedagogical approach. How can we say that we advocate the creation of a reformist party? We say, you cannot impose your will through a reformist party but only through a revolutionary party. The Stalinists and liberals wish to make of this movement a reformist party but we have our program, we make of this a revolutionary…
“I will not say that the labor party is a revolutionary party, but that we will do everything to make it possible. At every meeting I will say: I am a representative of the SWP [American section of the Fourth International]. I consider it the only revolutionary party. But I am not a sectarian. You are trying now to create a big workers’ party. I will help you but I propose that you consider a program for this party. I make such and such propositions. I begin with this. Under these conditions it would be a big step forward. Why not say openly what is? Without any camouflage, without any diplomacy….
— Leon Trotsky, On the Labor Party Question in the United States. April-June 1938.
When it calls for a party of the “99%” on the basis of Sanders’ campaign, Socialist Alternative is giving authority to his program, instead of clearly saying that it cannot help the working class. SAlt is so blindly following Sanders that they say that his support for Clinton would mean “the demoralization and disorganization of our movement”. Revolutionaries should have told workers from the beginning that they should not count on Sanders to build a party that defended their interests, That his program most definitely is not a good program for them.
Sanders’ perspective is not simply “limited” or eventually “mistaken”: it is a bourgeois “reformist” campaign which does not threat the power of the capitalist class or American imperialism. A party built on the basis of his campaign would not be a step forward in the struggle for a workers’ party, but a detour. A party for the “99%” built around Sanders most probably would not even speak on behalf of the working class. But even if it did (which is highly unlikely), SAlt would from the beginning help the consolidation of his deceptive bourgeois program.
Is there anything “new” about Bernie Sanders?
The following excerpts from the CWI article are illustrative of its collection of errors and contradictions. CWI’s politics is a combination of deluded expectations on Sanders and cynicism to pretend not seeing his treacherous positions:
“The big support for Sanders points to a new situation. There’s a deep distrust of the powerful elite in the US since the economic crisis and the weak recovery that increased the income of the rich. The position of the PSTU [Brazilian Morenoites] and of others on the left is that nothing has changed. Sanders would be just one more among other leaders on the left of the Democrats as we have seen before, who will ‘clearly go from the left to the right’ and will be domesticated as previous left candidates.
“Historical lessons are important, but they do not replace a concrete analysis of the situation. If we adopt a position that history will always repeat itself, we have the risk of revolutionaries becoming conservatives….
“Why would Sanders be different? Because the situation in different. The support for capitalism is in crisis and Sanders can call himself a ‘Socialist’ and defend a ‘political revolution’ and that is attractive, not an obstacle to get supporters, especially among the youth….
“The Democratic Party leadership is getting nervous with Sanders candidacy. When he started his campaign, Clinton was light-years ahead. His candidacy was not seen as a problem, quite on the contrary, it would help mobilizing for the primaries and in the end he would support the candidate of the majority, as he always did. In fact, from the beginning he declared he would support Clinton if he lost in the primaries….
“The fact is that now he is seen as a real threat and has high popularity among the general population…. This contradiction will grow for Sanders’ supporters. It will be clearer and clearer that his victory is only possible against the party apparatus, which is part of the same structure that he criticizes. An important layer will not accept supporting Hillary Clinton and will be open to breaking with the party, even in Sanders supports Clinton.”
The CWI is saying that the support Sanders is receiving reflects a “new situation” because he talks about “Socialism” and “political revolution” and such terms actually attract people. But precisely because these words are now attractive, revolutionaries should clarify the misconception spread by Sanders about their meaning. Despite using new vocabulary, there is nothing “new” about Sanders’ actual content that would prevent his collaboration with the Democrats. The CWI itself recognizes that Sanders “declared he would support Clinton if he lost in the primaries”. So is he really a “threat” to the Democratic establishment? Doesn’t this single fact show that he actually is the kind of candidate “who will ‘clearly go from the left to the right’ and will be domesticated as previous left candidates”? This seems quite evident, but the CWI assures us that “the situation is different”. Isn’t this replacing blind expectations for “a concrete analysis of the situation”?
Finally, the CWI says that a large group of Sanders’ supporters will not accept Clinton even if he does. This is certainly the case, but then shouldn’t revolutionaries denounce Sanders’ will to adapt to the party apparatus and to the “Wall Street candidate”, Hillary Clinton? This would help many of his supporters realize that Sanders is not so consistent when he says he is against the “billionaire class” and the establishment. Making this denunciation beforehand would give authority to revolutionists, but as we saw, this has nothing to do with the CWI’s policy.
There is certainly something “new” about Sanders to many young people who have not had any experience with candidates that criticize the harsh effects of capitalism in American politics. But for Marxists, his rhetoric full of contradictions and his capitalist “Socialism” are nothing to be impressed about. Revolutionaries should be warning workers about the true meaning of the Sanders campaign. Instead, SAlt is reinforcing their wrong ideas and impressions by saying that Sanders is indeed “unprecedented”. One of CWI’s favorite arguments is implying that all those who don’t follow their capitulation are sectarians:
“Some groups on the far left have done nothing but denounce Sanders without realizing the opportunities inherent in the situation, with millions of newly radicalizing young people and workers.”
– Sanders and the left: what is the role of Socialists?. March 1st, 2016.
In the article published by their Brazilian section it is stated that: “Simply condemning Sanders’ supporters for helping the ‘enemy’ would close any possibilities of dialogue with thousands of radicalized young people who are willing to discuss what is Socialism and how to get there”.
Such a straw man is very easy to attack. Sanders’ supporters should obviously not be treated as “enemies”. Communists of course have an interest in discussing politics with people who got involved because of his criticisms to the “billionaire class” and Wall Street. But this should not mean being silent about his capitalist core, his opportunist positions and his commitment to the Democratic Party. We don’t need to follow their wrong ideas about Sanders in order to dialogue with them. In fact, these criticisms should be done to convince these supporters of the need for socialist revolution and Sanders’ inability to defend this program.
We would hope these supporters changed their mind about Sanders, but even if they didn’t, we would explain our reasons and then expect them to eventually realize the correctness of the Marxist position. Pointing to Sanders’ promise to support Clinton would reinforce our argument, for example. All this would have the intention of helping Sanders’ progressive supporters to break from his campaign. If SAlt is afraid of holding an unpopular position, they will certainly never build a revolutionary party, but maybe a party that is always willing to follow whatever popular bourgeois movement that appears. This is being the rearguard of the working class, not its vanguard.
At no moment the CWI tried to win over these supporters away from Sanders, since this would demand saying what his campaign really meant. “To be with the masses” (as the CWI article advocates) is correct when it means participating in the struggles of the workers and the oppressed, pointing to the need of a revolutionary party to get the hell out of capitalism. But “To be with the masses” can very easily acquire an opportunist content when it is used to justify accepting the reactionary or reformist ideas existent among the workers. The supporters’ good intentions could not have changed the political content of the movement – in this case, Sanders’ campaign. This contradiction could only be resolved by their breaking away form his confusing set of politics. The CWI did all it could to prevent, instead of helping this process.
CWI, the “new formations” and the socialist revolution
This position on Sanders is not a lightning in a blue sky, but rather a good illustration of the CWI’s approach to the “Neo-reformist” social movements in recent years.
“There is an international process going on these days, to rebuild political instruments of the working class, replacing those we lost after the fall of Stalinism in the early 1990s, including the PT [Brazilian Workers’ Party]. Neoliberalism has lost the drive it had in the 1990s, when it dominated the political scenario. Rebuilding the left has been complicated and tortuous. New parties emerged, like the German Die Linke, the Portuguese Bloco de Esquerda, Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and even the PSOL in Brazil. This process involved leaders like Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales. All these phenomenons express the pursuit of a new radical left, but they also bring many elements of mistakes from the old left: reformism with changes only within the system, electoral opportunism (downgrading the program, making alliances with bourgeois parties etc.), hesitation in the decisive moments of working class mobilization, which does not lead to breaking out of the system. It is a process full of conflicts and contradictions… We have to understand these phenomenons as part of a process, a struggle between living forces.”
There is definitely something wrong with this definition of bourgeois or sometimes reformist leaders and parties as “political instruments of the working class” and the parties that “we lost” (?) with the fall of Stalinism. Sure these parties had mass influence among the workers in some cases, but they were also counterrevolutionary agencies within their movement. The “new formations” are not different. Despite Chávez’s nationalization of some industries (which revolutionists defend and would seek to broaden) and some conflicts with American imperialism, he always did his best to prevent any threat to the capitalist system and the emergence of an independent proletarian movement. On a much smaller scale, the Portuguese Bloco de Esquerda and the Brazilian PSOL have always formed alliances with elements of the ruling class. The CWI’s own experience within these parties is a confirmation of this, since they recognize their “reformism with changes only within the system, electoral opportunism…, hesitation in the decisive moments of working class mobilization”.
The problem is that the CWI insists on presenting these phenomenons as progressive. Certainly all of them involve sectors of the working class questioning the capitalist system. But this does not mean that their gathering around bourgeois or reformist parties or movements is progressive. Quite on the contrary, it is a detour that prevents their further radicalization towards revolutionary conclusions, just like the Sanders movement is doing with the American progressive youth. This is a fundamental distinction that the CWI is failing to make.
It is certainly true that all these political processes involve “conflicts and contradictions” in a “struggle between living forces”. But if we think about it for a minute, what is the CWI’s role in this conflict? Certainly not the role of exposing the betrayals and opportunism of these leaders and parties as a way of helping the workers break from their politics; instead, the CWI position in this struggle is to be considerably silent (or at least not very vocal) about these leaderships’ nature while they support the masses’ illusions about them. By doing this, the CWI is actually helping the reformists and demagogues in containing the workers. About the Syriza in Greece, the CWI states that:
“… The party was seen as an instrument for a political solution and won the 2015 elections. Its leader, Tsipras, could have been pushed to go beyond what he planned, and with the July referendum, he opened the opportunity that the Greek people wanted to fightback the ruling class of Europe, with a huge victory of the ‘No’ to the agreement that would impose yet another austerity package. Facing the task and the having a historical popular mandate from the people, Tsipras backed down. It was a battle and an important defeat for the working class, which will bring important lessons, just like the defeat of the first Russian Revolution of 1905-06.”
Except that Tsipras could not have been “pushed to go beyond” because he was ahead of a bourgeois coalition government. Syriza’s entire trajectory, connections and positions indicated it could not transcend the bourgeois state. This is what revolutionaries said at the time while the CWI was nurturing expectations about Tsipras. The statement that the Russian revolution of 1905 taught many lessons is true, but apparently not to the CWI. According to one of the most important interpreters of such revolution (Trotsky), it showed that the bourgeoisie was not willing to make even serious democratic reforms, much less a revolution of any sort. Only the proletariat could be expected to fight for a real transformation of the country. When the CWI says that Tsipras, Sanders, Chávez etc. could have somehow been “pushed” to achieve important measures for the working class, it is ignoring the lessons of 1905, 1917 and of all subsequent revolutions. Instead of expecting to “push” the demagogues of the bourgeoisie to the left, it is necessary to create alternatives to them. And this can only be done by broadly denouncing their intentions and their opportunism.
In all cases where some reformist or bourgeois tendency or leader arose and drew support from the working class, it was certainly necessary to dialogue with the workers that believed they represented an alternative. This means listening to them, pointing out their errors, predicting the trajectory of their movement. All this would have the intention of facilitating the drawing of revolutionary conclusions. Simply “supporting” the “political instruments” only helps taming the workers rage against capitalist injustice into a dead end.
CWI’s gravest assertion is that “Lenin and Trotsky’s position in the Russian Revolution was much more sophisticated and full of nuances and led to the growth of the Bolshevik Party from eight thousand members in February to more than two hundred thousand in October”. This is stated when the CWI was criticizing “sectarians” on the left who did not support Sanders. What is implied here is that the leaders of the October revolution were mild in their denunciation of the bourgeois demagogues and the reformists that supported them. This could not be further from the truth, since the Bolsheviks had the most inflexible opposition to them. This is what Lenin had to say when he arrived in Russia about the Provisional Government that made so many promises and even some democratic reforms:
“No support for the Provisional Government; the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear, particularly of those relating to the renunciation of annexations. Exposure in place of the impermissible, illusion-breeding ‘demand’ that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government.
“Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies our Party is in a minority, so far a small minority, as against a bloc of all the petty-bourgeois opportunist elements, from the Popular Socialists and the Socialist-Revolutionaries down to the Organising Committee (Chkheidze, Tsereteli, etc.), Steklov etc. etc., who have yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie and spread that influence among the proletariat.”
– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution [The April Theses]. April 4, 1917.
The growth of the Bolsheviks was based upon the fact that all their main predictions and warnings to the working class about this govenment (in which so many workers and “Socialists” put their trust) were confirmed. It had nothing to do with the opportunist “nuance” that the CWI is talking about, which means not openly criticizing, but instead give support to the parties and leaders that collaborate with the bourgeoisie, as well as believe they can be “pushed” to the left.
What would the CWI have done in 1917 if we consider its current methodology? There were plenty of people, including within the Bolshevik Party who wanted to “deepen the democratic revolution” by “critically supporting” the bourgeois Provisional Government. Lenin and Trotsky conducted a harsh battle against those people because they knew the revolution would be defeated if such position prevailed among the workers. Based on these ideas, the honest supporters of the CWI should reflect about what their organization will do in future revolutions. Their current politcs is not good to orient the workers and the oppressed.