Declaration of fraternal relations between Revolutionary Regroupment and O Que Fazer?
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It is based on the understanding of the need to build a revolutionary workers’ party, which currently does not exist in Brazil, that Revolutionary Regroupment and the group O Que Fazer? [“What is to be done?”] decide to establish fraternal relations in order to discuss the basis for creating a militant propaganda group that can contribute to this task.
O Que Fazer? (OQF) was formed in the state of São Paulo in the second half of 2015 by comrades who split from the Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International (FT-CI) section in Brazil, then named LER-QI (Revolutionary Strategic League – Fourth International) and nowadays MRT (Workers’ Revolutionary Movement) and by formerly independent comrades. The criticisms raised by those who left the FT pointed to the empiricist character of the group’s political positions, especially the abandonment of the transitional program during the sharpest moments of class struggle, and its substitution for variants of a “democratic” program. Differences also involved criticism of internal bureaucratic maneuvers of the leadership, such as the habit of not recognizing its mistakes, while at the same time subtly assimilating criticisms received – a classic feature of centrism. The whole process of internal dispute demonstrated the complete absence of self-criticism in the MRT leadership, which is a central element to building a revolutionary party and keep moving forward.
Revolutionary Regroupment (RR) had its origins in the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2011, in a split from the Coletivo Lenin (CL), an organization that claimed adherence to the historical programmatic legacy of the Spartacist League (SL) and the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT). The SL and the IBT represented an important critical update of the revolutionary program against opportunism on the left in certain historical periods (the SL in the 1960-70s and the IBT between 1982 and mid-2000s). After the frustration of the attempted fusion with the IBT, due to its dishonest and bureaucratic actions and also to the inexperience of the CL, the latter went through a crisis. A majority (which has recently dissolved) kept the group’s name and openly stated that the Trotskyist program was no longer valid or necessary, and proposed a complete change of perspective. A minority recognized the degeneration of IBT, but remained willing to defend the program that the CL had learned from the history of that organization. This minority formed the RR in Brazil by joining forces with a former IBT supporter in the United States (who is no longer part of the group), who had relations with the CL and participated in its internal struggle.
From the first contact, through the reading of mutual publications, the RR and OQF have found important agreements regarding the current Brazilian political context and have since held regular discussions that allowed taking a step forward. The establishment of fraternal relations indicates a desire of our groups to deepen the discussions in order to verify further points of agreement and resolve remaining differences with the prospect of a fusion in the future. Some important common political positions have been achieved through these discussions, in some cases involving minor corrections on the lines of the two organizations. The points of agreement include:
1 – The understanding that Brazil is currently experiencing a period of growth of the bourgeoisie’s organized offensive against the working class, which needs to defend itself against the various forms of attacks that are being unleashed against us. It was necessary, as part of that defense, to oppose the impeachment suffered by President Dilma Rousseff (PT, Workers Party). This did not mean any kind of political support to Rousseff’s government nor to her allies. Revolutionaries opposed the impeachment (which meant an institutional coup by the way it occurred) with its own transitional program, exposing the crimes and betrayals of the PT and its satellites. We criticize those organizations on the Brazilian left such as the PSTU (Unified Socialist Workers Party, the Morenoite Brazilian section of the LIT-CI) and the CST (Socialist Workers’ Current, the Brazilian section of the UIT-CI), which did not consider the removal of the former president as part a reactionary movement and did not oppose it. We also criticize those who made political agreements with then-governmental forces, going far beyond the practical cooperation for the purpose of fighting the impeachment. This was the case of most tendencies of the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party, a multi-tendency formation), which joined forces with the PT and the PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil, a former Maoist split from the Brazilian CP) in the “Fearless People’s Front” and had an uncritical attitude towards the latter. As well, the PCO (Workers’ Cause Party, which claims adherence to Trotskyism), which became an auxiliary pawn of the PT, completely dove into the class collaborationist politics of their bloc. We neither share the position of those who have abandoned the Transitional Program to adopt some variant of a bourgeois-democratic program, such as the call for “General Elections” (as did the PSTU and the MES, Socialist Left Movement, part of the PSOL) or for a “Constituent Assembly” (as did both the MRT and the Marxist Left, Brazilian section of the IMT) as supposed “solutions” to the political crisis.
There was some fine tuning in the political positions of both the RR and OQF regarding this question: (a) Despite having opposed the impeachment from the beginning, initially the RR had not characterized this process as a coup, considering that it was distinct from the process experienced in 1964, which installed a military dictatorship in the country. Subsequently, the RR acknowledged that the way the impeachment occurred was a kind of coup by institutional means, that led to a removal of government out of what is envisioned by the Constitution and which strengthened institutions such as the Federal Police, the Public Attorney’s Office and the Judiciary power, although it did not lead to the complete destruction of the bourgeois-democratic regime, nor was it accompanied by the same degree of violence as in 1964. (b) OQF had originally raised the demand for a “Constituent Assembly to exclude the [bourgeois] parties and elements engaged in this corrupt order”. Subsequently, it decided to abandon this formulation for understanding that, although the intention was to defend a workers government (differently from the slogan for a capitalist Constituent Assembly raised by the MRT/FT as a supposed solution to the crisis), the use of the term could lead to confusion. Therefore, OQF concluded that the perspective of a “general workers’ assembly” or of a “workers’ revolutionary government” against all bourgeois elements, was a more appropriate formulation.
2 – The understanding that revolutionaries must unconditionally defend the oppressed nations attacked by the imperialists or which are under the threat of imperialist strikes. The struggle for a transitional program and for the construction of Trotskyist parties in such countries (which in recent years include Libya, Syria, Iraq, Mali etc.) must be complemented with their defense against imperialism. In some cases, this involves giving tactical military support to a sector of the oppressed nation (even if it is bourgeois) that is fighting against the imperialist forces, but without any endorsement of their politics, maintaining a programmatic struggle against these bourgeois sectors. In the case of the 2011 imperialist intervention in Libya, for example, we believe that revolutionaries should have militarily sided with dictator Muammar Gaddafi while his government was fighting the bloc of French, British and American imperialism and the native bourgeoisie’s “National Transitional Council” (after it definitely formed a bloc for power with the imperialists). We criticize the positions on the left of those who saw the struggle of the “rebel” armies, led by reactionary and pro-imperialists forces, as a “revolution” (as did the PSTU/LIT-CI) or who considered that such rebels had a “progressive” character (as did the MRT/FT) and did not took a position of solid defense of the oppressed nation by not siding with those fighting imperialism.
3 – The understanding of the reactionary meaning of the restoration of capitalism by counterrevolutions in the former Deformed / Degenerated Workers’ States of Eastern Europe (1989-90) and the Soviet Union (1991). All these regimes needed socialist proletarian revolutions against the ruling bureaucracies (that is, political revolutions), in order to (re)establish the workers’ democratic control over the means of production, the state and the armed forces. At the same time, Trotskyists should have defended the social gains that had been obtained from the collapse of capitalism, since the victory of a counterrevolution would have meant heavy burdens on the working class. This became clear with the capitalist restorations that occurred between 1989-91.
In the post-war period, the revolutions that defeated capitalism in Eastern Europe, Asia and Cuba did not build internationalist proletarian democracies, but regimes similar to that of the USSR. We are in agreement that Cuba and North Korea remain bureaucratically Deformed Workers’ States, despite the considerable capitalist penetration that the ruling bureaucracies have allowed in recent years. Regarding these countries, we maintain the Trotskyist program of revolutionary defense in the face of possible internal and external counterrevolutions, while at the same time pointing out the need of a proletarian political revolution that oust the power of the bureaucracy and establish a proletarian democracy based on self-government bodies (soviets).
Those on the left who claim that capitalism was restored in Cuba and North Korea due to the bureaucracy’s reforms (as does the PSTU/LIT-CI regarding these and other cases) fail to explain how the non-capitalist states that existed there were supposedly destroyed and how / when the bourgeoisie built their own states. Other groups, such as the MRT/FT, agree with our position regarding Cuba and North Korea, but do not make a coherent characterization about China, where they say that capitalism “has not been fully restored”, but at the same time claim that the Chinese state is a “bourgeois state in construction” or even a state of “transition between deformed workers’ state and capitalist state” (?).
While recognizing that large portions of the Chinese economy have been privatized through the endorsement of their bureaucratic leaders, the RR sustains that the Chinese state remains a Deformed Workers’ State. The privatization measures produced great damage and put in serious risk the (bureaucratically) planned character of the Chinese economy and also create wider openings that increase the chances for the victory of a capitalist counterrevolution – but such counterrevolution has not yet occurred. OQF still has doubts about China’s character in the current scenario. This will be subject of more detailed discussions between the two groups. Some other issues to be discussed in the future also include the positions on the concrete processes that led to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet bloc and the current characterization of states like Vietnam and Laos, about which we still have doubts due to the limited information available.
4 – The understanding of the treacherous role played by the class-collaborationist coalitions between workers’ or left-wing organizations and representatives of the bourgeoisie in the elections and in the government (the so-called “popular fronts”), which the PT has conducted since 1989, for example. Revolutionaries have no place in such coalitions nor do we give them any support (not even a “critical” support). Regarding this matter, it is necessary to swim against the current of much of the Brazilian left, which in the 2016 municipal elections (for Mayor and City Council Members), for instance, is participating in various slates that have “minor” bourgeois parties in it. This is especially the case of the PSOL internal currents and the Brazilian CP (PCB). In the past, the PSTU/LIT-CI has also been part of various coalitions of this kind, notably with the PSOL, in slates which received financing from big business or even had the participation of parties involved in the administration of the bourgeois state, such as the PCdoB in the Northern city of Belém, in 2012, when the PCdoB was part of Rousseff’s government.
5 – The understanding of the fact that members of professional repressive apparatuses are not proletarians, although they may come from the ranks of the working class. We agree with Trotsky’s comment that “The fact that the police officers have been recruited largely from the Social Democratic workers does not mean anything. Here also the existence determines consciousness. The worker who becomes a policeman at the service of the capitalist state is a bourgeois cop, not a worker” (Revolution and counterrevolution in Germany, 1932). We reject, therefore, the presence of cops in the labor movement and we do not support cops’ movements for “better working conditions” and salary raises, which mean better conditions to suppress the struggle of the working class and of the poor. We are for the dissolution of all types of violent forces of the ruling class.
6 – The understanding of the paramount importance for revolutionaries to struggle against all forms of social oppression, including those that have no direct relation with the dynamics of labor exploitation. The fight against racism and sexism, in particular, is strategic to winning the most exploited and oppressed sectors of the proletariat for the program of socialist revolution. The struggle against homophobia also acquires great importance in Brazil’s current national political moment, in which so many icons of bourgeois reaction rest on religious pillars and try to scapegoat the LGBT population and blame it for the moral corruption of decaying capitalism. We defend equal social and political rights for all these groups and the end of economic and wage inequalities to which they are submitted; we denounce all forms of violence (institutional or individual) suffered by them and we believe that only through the victory of a socialist revolution a significant first step can be made towards the ultimate end of these forms of oppression, from which capitalism benefits. We also support the national rights of indigenous peoples, which in Brazil suffer with all kinds of prejudices and persecutions.
7 – We defend the agrarian reform for seeing it as a legitimate democratic demand to address a major social problem, especially in semi-colonial countries. However, we understand that within the framework of capitalist exploitation – in which heirs of the colonial exploitation, land grabbers and multinational companies eagerly seek their profits – any proposal of democratic and profound agrarian reform is not feasible. In this scenario, we sustain that a project of agrarian reform can only be carried out under the leadership of urban workers and with the support of the poor peasants, whose ranks must be organized through direct democracy (soviets), consolidating a workers’ and peasants’ government. Such government must impose a program of expropriation and collectivization of the land and of the national and international agribusiness. Also, while the territory of the native oppressed indigenous nations remain object of profit and forests remain a mere locus for gaining huge amounts of money, the struggle for the preservation of the environment will be a utopia. Our natural resources can only be preserved in a new society, in which they are used according to human needs and not to the interests of capital.
These points of agreement will be deepened and expanded through the discussion of other issues. We intend to further discuss, for example, the revolutionary continuity of the Fourth International and make a critical analysis of the role played by the Spartacist League, the IBT and other organizations that resisted the opportunism that dominated the postwar Trotskyist movement. We also intend to discuss a more precise characterization of the current configuration of world imperialism.
Moreover, in the next period we will also initiate organizational discussions to establish how a group located in different cities will function and discuss the priorities and tasks of a small propaganda group. For us, a democratic and healthy internal regime is not a “detail”, but an imperative. Without discipline, on the one hand, and full conditions for freedom of internal discussion and political education, on the other, it becomes impossible to correct errors made by the leadership and by the organization and to politically arm the group for the challenges of the class struggle. Real democratic centralism is, in conclusion, an absolute necessity for a revolutionary organization.
The establishment of fraternal relations does not mean, as of now, a commitment of each group to defend the exact same political views of the other. But unlike the lack of seriousness of many organizations claiming to be revolutionary, we actively care about the clarity and coherence of ideas for a future fusion. We do not believe that simply mixing or making vague amalgams of positions are ways to meet the objectives we aspire to: making significant steps to contribute to the building of a revolutionary party. We do not intend to rush the process of discussions before there is a strong trust, programmatic and methodological coherence between our groups, expanding what has been achieved so far.
This statement marks a significant moment for the future of both groups. While the reformist and centrist left decays and crumbles before our eyes, revolutionaries must join forces, based on the revolutionary Marxist program updated to our epoch, in order to give steps toward the building of a revolutionary party. There is no “shortcut” for the victory of the workers but the persevering work for its construction. For the unity of revolutionaries! For the unity of the working class against capital! For the rebirth of the Fourth International!
O Que Fazer? and Revolutionary Regroupment