Arquivos da categoria: English

The Death of Kim Jong-Il and the Future of North Korea (2012)

The Death of Kim Jong-Il and the Future of North Korea

Rodolfo Kaleb. Originally published in Portuguese, in February 2012. One or more excerpts were left out of the present version.

[Photo: EPA]

North Korea, one of the last countries in the world with a bureaucratically planned economy, has a new “Supreme Leader” to substitute Kim Jong-Il, who passed away at the end of 2011: the bureaucrat’s own son, Kim Jong-Un. This is the second transition in the leadership of the North Korean state bureaucracy that rests upon Kim’s family. The Kims and the whole layer of privileged state bureaucrats that they represent have one of the most tightly controlling regimes of the world. At the same time, the hatred of the bourgeois media against North Korea is not due to that. Capitalists – from New York to Paris, from London to Tokyo – have never refrained from giving support to many tyrannical governments, as long as they were subservient to them. Their intrinsic hate against North Korea, and their strong support to the South Korean capitalists, is explained by the class structure of that country.

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International statement – In Defense of Syria, China and North Korea

US Imperialism Strikes Again

In Defense of Syria, China and North Korea! Only an international socialist revolution can guarantee peace!

Originally published in Portuguese on April 23, 2017.

On April 6, Trump ordered a missile attack against a Syrian military base. It was the first American attack against a Syrian government target, since until now the United States had been bombing only targets of the fundamentalist group Islamic State. Trump’s decision came after statements by the US intelligence service, quickly reproduced by major media outlets around the world, that Assad’s government was responsible for a chemical attack that killed about 80 people in the Idlib province – which the Syrian government denies, blaming the armed opposition instead. While it is impossible to know at the moment which statement is true, the imperialists are experts in making excuses to justify attacks and military actions against other countries – as in the case of Iraq’s nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction”.

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The Response of the U.S. Left to Trump and the 2016 Election

The Response of the U.S. Left to Trump and the 2016 Election

Class Collaborationism and the Importance of Revolutionary Program

By Joseph Donnelly, March 2017.

Anti-Trump march in Los Angeles, November 12, 2016 [Photo: laweekly.com]

On January 20th, Donald J. Trump was sworn in to become to the 45th President of the United States. Formally launched on June 16, 2015, Donald Trump’s campaign had been the center of many political activists’ attention who worry about what Trump’s America would look like. For many Democrats and other liberal political bodies, Donald Trump seemed to be the perfect rallying cry to their cause – if you don’t choose the liberal Democrat (like Hillary Clinton), you’re choosing Trump, or so the argument goes. Revolutionaries, like ourselves, have dealt with this “lesser evil” argument for hundreds of years. And always, we state, it is an argument for giving political support to bourgeois forces, leading to the disarming and demobilization of independent class struggles. Still, many nominally revolutionary persons and organizations give into it.

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Postagem de ano novo | New year’s eve post | Post de año nuevo

Seguindo nossa tradição, todo final de ano postamos um material histórico de estímulo à determinação e à vontade revolucionária de nossos militantes, apoiadores e simpatizantes. Esse ano escolhemos um trecho da autobiografia de Leon Trotsky (Minha Vida, 1930) no qual o revolucionário fala de seu exílio forçado, do significado histórico da Revolução Soviética e de seu destino pessoal. Acesse clicando aqui: O Planeta sem Visto – Leon Trotsky (1930).

Following our tradition, every new year’s eve we post a historical material dedicated to the revolutionary will and determination of our members, supporters and sympathizers. This year we chose an excerpt of Leon Trotsky’s autobiography (My Life, 1930) in which the revolutionary deals with his forced exile, the historical meaning of the Soviet Revolution and his personal fate. Access by clicking here: The Planet Without a Visa – Leon Trotsky (1930).

Seguiendo nuestra tradición, cada fin de año publicamos un material histórico de estímulo a la determinación y la voluntad revolucionaria de nuestros miembros, apoyadores e simpatizantes. Este año eligimos un extracto de la autobriografia de Leon Trotsky (Mi Vida, 1930), en que el revolucionario trata de su exilio forzado, del significado histórico de la Revolución Soviética y de su destino personal. Para accesar, hace clic aqui: El Planeta sin Visado – Leon Trotsky (1930).

New issue of Revolutionary Regroupment

We happily announce the publication of a new issue of our journal, Revolutionary Regroupment. Check out the contents and download the PDF or read it online:

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Trotskyist Fraction’s demand for a Constituent Assembly

Cats do not lay eggs

By Icaro Kaleb, originally published in Portuguese in May 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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com. Thank you!

The Trotskyist Fraction (TF) is the group responsible for the online newspaper Left Voice and its international network (Red Izquierda Diario). Its main section is the Argentinian PTS. Amid the current political crisis in Brazil, its section – the MRT (Workers’ Revolutionary Movement) – has raised the slogan for an “immediate in-depth democratic response capable of really addressing the needs and wishes of the ‘low classes’, a sovereign and free Constituent Assembly”. The demand for a Constituent Assembly is often raised by the TF in various different scenarios. It was raised during Argentina’s mass uprisings in 2001; following the Honduras coup d’etat in 2009; during the Spanish indignados movement in 2011 and many other occasions.

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Declaration of fraternal relations between Revolutionary Regroupment and O Que Fazer?

September 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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com. Thank you!

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.

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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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com Thank you!

Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative’s main spokesperson, with Democrat Bernie Sanders

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New English Publication

We’ve updated the English section of our website with the following article:

Brazil: down with the coup government!
Fight  Temer’s attacks, no support for the PT or its satellites!
June 2016

See also:
Statement on Brazil
Fight the impeachment! Fight Dilma’s government and its austerity measures!
April 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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com Thank you!

New English Publications

We’ve updated the English section of our website with the following articles:

On the Trotskyist Fraction’s centrist zigzags (November 2015)

The Brazilian MNN and the International Committee (April 2012)

An appeal for help translating articles: these articles were 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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com. Thank you!

Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State and the battle of Kobanî

Defend Syria against imperialism! For a position of class independence in the civil war!

By Icaro Kaleb

[This article was originally written between June and July 2015. Because of internal difficulties, it could not be published then and became partially outdated due to the speed of events in the Syrian civil war. Nevertheless, it still addresses a number of political issues that remain central in this complex conflict and also deals with the opportunist positions of ostensibly Trotskyist organizations. Thus, we decided to publish it in January 2016 adding some comments between brackets. Later additions and small corrections were made in August 2016.]

Over the last 4 years, the Syrian population has been engulfed in a civil war between a decades-long dictatorship, on one side, and a combination of bourgeois forces which want to form a new regime, on the other. Later, new elements were added to this already complex situation: the territorial advance of the fundamentalist organization Islamic State; the air strikes, bombings and overall imperialist intervention in the country, mainly by the United States military. We dedicate this text to deepen the debate on a few questions addressed some time ago, in our September 2012 article (The Syrian Conflict and the Tasks for Revolutionists, available in Portuguese) and update on certain aspects, taking into account these new developments.

We once again want to highlight a factor that most of the left, including many groups that claim to be Trotskyists, have left aside when dealing with the situation in Syria: the need for a position of class independence regarding the various bourgeois forces that currently struggle for power. Marxists do not buy the myth that Syria is going through a “revolution” supposedly led by “rebel” armies which fight the government, because these forces are submitted to the interests of various bourgeois fractions. The course of this civil war, though not resolved after four years, points to the need of an independent pole of the working class, opposed to both the Assad dictatorship and the reactionary forces that want to bring it down for their own reactionary interests. The same dilemma and the need for working class indenpendence is central to the political situation in Kobanî.

The character of the main contending forces in Syria

The Assad regime is a two-decade-long one-party capitalist regime, which rules over a poor nation, confined to the world imperialist order. The majority of the human rights violations that have occurred since the beginning of the civil war were committed by the Syrian government. It has Russia as its main international ally, with which it has relevant trade agreements. From the pov of the working class, however, this dictatorial regime deserves no political support.

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) is the organized body trying to coalesce the different units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is a split of the Syrian armed forces. Since 2011, the FSA has gained important positions in the country, but many were lost back to Assad or taken by the Islamic State. In our 2012 article, we explained the political and military composition of the SNC/FSA: the links of its main components with the imperialists and its bourgeois program. Since then, the FSA was gradually dominated by religiously-oriented forces (mainly Sunni leaders dissatisfied with the secular aspects of Assad’s Alawite regime). The FSA also started operating in alliance with other forces, such that the “Islamic Front”, which arose in 2014.

Despite the illusions of a big part of the international left that the FSA’s struggle against Assad’s regime is part of a “Syrian revolution”, we made it clear on such article that these “rebels” are not a political force capable of (or interested in) achieving gains neither for the Syrian workers nor to the country’s oppressed national minorities.

The United States failed to achieve a lasting alliance with most of the rebels, who were not considered enough “moderate”. Washington has been more careful in choosing its allies since the disastrous experience in Libya, where many of the weapons sent to the country ended falling into the hands of anti-American extremists. Some especific FSA units, however, received significant military aid from the United States and Obama has already begun to train his own “rebel group”, which must as well be denounced as a ground troop of imperialism. As reported:

The U.S. has decided to provide pickup trucks equipped with machine guns and radios for calling in U.S. airstrikes to some moderate Syrian rebels, defense officials said. But the scope of any bombing hasn’t been worked out – a reflection of the complexities of the battlefield in Syria.

The plan comes as the US prepares to begin training moderate rebels, who are waging a fight on two fronts against the extremists and the Syrian regime. Defense officials said that the training will start in mid-March, in Jordan, with a second camp scheduled to open soon after in Turkey.”

The United States will give some Syrian rebels the ability to call strikes, February 17, 2015. Available at http://tinyurl.com/kojxzx5

[January 2016: Russia’s entry into the conflict in October 2015, with air strikes and also by sending large amounts of ground forces – initially favoring Assad and later also extending logistical and military support to certain “rebel” forces against the Islamic State – complicated even more the scenario. Currently, everything points to a “solution” in a transitional government that contemplates the economic interests of both Russia and the U.S. – which, it must be said, are quite different from the interests of Syrian workers and the oppressed nationalities of the country.]

Another reactionary competitor in the Syrian civil war is the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIS, over the previous name “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”), which recently has gained strength. It was previously part of a same fundamentalist military operation with the Syrian Al-Qaeda (Al-Nusra Front). It was the Al-Nusra Front which broke relations with ISIS in early 2014, stating that they were “too intransigent”.

By then, ISIS had already taken over important areas of Iraq. Largely funded by Muslim oil barons from countries which are also supporting certain rebel groups – the so-called “Friends of Syria” (Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) – ISIS used its links with the Syrian opposition to obtain heavy weapons and recruit fighters. It came into power in important Iraqi cities as the spearhead of a Sunni revolt against the Shi’ite-led government backed by the United States. From then on, ISIS had under its control more territories than Al-Qaeda was ever capable of. Many of the towns and villages in its power have large oil production, which ISIS exports in order to finance its expansionist effort. ISIS is at war against the Iraqi government (which is helped by the United States’ troops on the ground) and plan to build a “Caliphate” under its strict control. Around the same time, ISIS strengthened their positions in Syria and took over provinces in the deserted East of the country, as well as the entire border region between Iraq and Syria. It has fought both Assad and opposition forces, especially FSA units.

ISIS seems to be the best trained and equipped of the oppositional forces. About 8 million people live in towns under its controls in both countries and the group was able to establish a kind of “war economy”, in which the population is dependent on the extremist group for food and other necessities. That has so far secured a passive collaboration with their occupation. They have persecuted several non-Muslim minorities (and even some Muslim groups) and frequently boast about their practices of enslaving and trading women of other religions, as well as the massacre of groups of non-Muslim villagers. ISIS currently controls about a third of the Syrian territory, where the Islamic law (Sharia) was imposed.

We consider the Islamic State a form of fundamentalist reaction that seeks to eliminate even the most basic political, social and secular rights. If ISIS achieves complete victory over the Syrian territory it would mean the fall of many ethnic and religious minorities into a state of slavery or their simple execution. A revolutionary workers’ party in Syria would seek to defend the oppressed people and organize the working masses of the cities and the countryside against these vicious thugs. Their defeat is essential for workers. But our call to defeat ISIS does not change our opposition and denunciation of U.S.-led air interventions in the country, even if they are said to be aimed at eliminating ISIS.

The imperialists cannot present a serious alternative to the Syrian people, and have already perpetrated actions tens of times more violent and vicious than those of ISIS. Ultimately, ISIS growth and development itself is a byproduct of the imperialists’ disastrous occupation of Iraq, just to give an example. While the U.S. mainstream media exposes the cruelty of the Islamic State, it hides the acts of terror committed by their own allies in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, which also include many atrocities (not to mention the high number of casualties and injuries caused by death falling from the sky in the form of bombs).

We have no pity for the defeats that the imperialists may suffer in Iraq and Syria (even from the hands of the Islamic State). We do not forget the crimes committed by the imperialists in Iraq (including the deaths of about 200,000 Iraqi civilians) and consider their expulsion from the Middle East, as well as the defeat of any of their “boots on the ground”, as the main priority. But despite the fact that ISIS has been the current target of imperialist bombings, its conquest of Iraqi and Syrian cities in order to establish terror regimes is no form of “anti-imperialist struggle”, but instead reactionary actions.

Obama’s “good intentions” in bombing ISIS to supposedly save minorities in Syria are nothing but lies. The U.S. intervention has the sole purpose of ensuring its grip on the country. Anyone who has doubts about the intentions of the U.S. (and other imperialist powers) in Syria should look at the “big experiments of democracy” that Libya and Iraq have become. The American bombings are intended to gain time and contain ISIS (while at the same time it also weakens Assad’s regime), as Washington tries to better organize the forces loyal to it on the ground.

[January 2016: Currently, this paragraph appears to have become outdated due to the apparent U.S., France and Britain decision to destroy ISIS, in part as a result of pressure put on them by Russian bombings in defense of Assad and partly because of the hue and cry over the fundamentalists’ expansion. However, at the time this text was written, it appeared that the U.S. strategy revolved around “managing the situation”, it is, let ISIS weaken Assad, while trying to strengthen the positions of the “moderate” rebels loyal to them.]

Besides taking into account the imperialist threat on one hand and the Islamic State on another, one cannot forget that a proletarian revolution in Syria can only triumph over the dead body of Assad’s brutal dictatorship. The dictator and his party imposed the capitalist order for decades, with the most brutal methods. The main priority would be organizing working-class defenses, especially among the persecuted national minorities, in order to fight the various armies struggling for power, thus ensuring the creation of a working class force, politically independent from the reactionary bourgeois competitors.

[August 2016: All the main players are enemies of working class’ interests, but we recognize they do not have the same caliber. Syria is in a quagmire of intertwined confrontations and ever-changing combinations of forces in which it is not always easy to take a tactical military position at each given moment. Revolutionaries who are far from the ground face extra difficulty in following all the events. It would be counterproductive to issue a general tactical position for all the different scenarios and disputes that occur in the war. There are, however, some general political principles that Marxists should follow. The most important is that we oppose the imperialists’ intervention and their “boots on the ground” as a priority. This means we would, in principle, militarily side with Assad’s regime or rebel jihadist groups on certain occasions in which they confront imperialist forces. Second, we oppose the advances of the Islamic State and would seek to defend the working class and the national and religious minorities under its attack. Third, we’d oppose both sides in the war between Assad’s regime and the rebels that are not subordinate to the imperialist powers.]

USec and the Morenoites: class collaboration on the battlefield

The groups on the left which claim to defend the victory of a non-existent “Syrian revolution” against Assad use this excuse as a cover to support the efforts of the Free Syrian Army. The main argument is that many of the units participating in it are not subordinate to the Syrian National Coalition. Instead, the FSA is seen by them as a coalition of popular forces emerging from the streets and the protests of the Arab Spring. That is the position, for example, of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USec). They published on their website an interview with a member of one of these FSA groups, who claims to be a Marxist. When asked about cooperation with other units of the FSA, this fighter said:

There is cooperation and coordination, but in a limited way, on the one hand because of divergent views and objectives, or disparities between positions due to the geographic location where comrades are fighting and the nature of other organizations. On the other hand, these organizations do not generally accept anyone else…”

–– “Our lack of weapons puts us in a position of weakness”, 18 January 2015. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/nhjea3b.

Such difficulty of coordination with other FSA units should be no surprise, since many of those are led by officials who are loyal and subordinate to the SNC and their reactionary friends. We shall not forget the various Islamic groups that are also under the FSA umbrella, not to mention those “rebel units” which received training and weapons directly from the imperialists and are their loyal allies on the ground.

The FSA is certainly a heterogeneous army. But the question that the USec’s website failed to ask these “Marxist” fighters, and that should have been the first question to be made, is: why this organization (which the USec considers to be “revolutionary Marxist”) is working side by side with those types? Since they claim to represent the Syrian working class, why don’t they, instead, organize a politically independent militia separated from the reactionary and pro-imperialist elements?

In a certain way, the dilemma of those fighters is the same dilemma of the USec and other groups which support the “rebels” against Assad. They do not want to defend an independent proletarian position, separated from the SNC and the FSA, as they only see immediate possibility of overthrowing Assad’s regime by holding hands with those bourgeois forces. They therefore abandon class independence and support the FSA, sugarcoating its nature and program, albeit criticizing its leadership.

A very similar conclusion is shared by other groups which also claim Trotskyism, as the Morenoite International Workers League (LIT-CI, led by the Brazilian PSTU) or the International Workers Unity (UIT-CI, led by the Argentinian Izquierda Socialista). See our previous polemic with the UIT in an October 2012 article available in Portuguese (Morenoism and the UIT’s Position in Syria).

Despite the existence of elements deluded by allegedly “democratic” politics in the FSA ranks, it is for most part controlled by SNC officials and other bourgeois forces. The victory of this army would result in no gain for the working class. It is as if the USec, LIT/IWL and UIT believed in some kind of magical “dynamic” that would put the working class in power, or at least in a better position, if Assad was overthrown by the SNC rebels. We have seen this movie in Libya, Ukraine and many other occasions, when such groups supported “mass movements” that had reactionary leaderships and purposes.

The Kurdish question and the battle for Kobanî

In the already complex scenario that is the Syrian civil war, things get even denser when taking into consideration the Kurdish element. Kurdistan is the largest stateless nation in the world. We’re talking about 30 million people split around Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Armenia and a small region in Northern Syria (Rojava). This is a legacy of British imperialism’s “divide and rule” politics after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Marxists must defend the Kurds’ national rights, including the right to self-determination, the use of their language in schools, public administration etc. and must be against any and all forms of segregation. But that does not mean that we consider a territorial separation of the Kurdish regions (or the creation of a Kurdish state) as a “solution” to the problems of the workers of that nationality. We certainly would take the Kurdish side in a war for independence or regional autonomy (including military support) if that is the expressed desire of this people.

But national separation is, for Marxists, an interest subordinated to the proletarian struggle. There are political issues of highest priority, such as the working class political independence and the defense of the oppressed nations under imperialist attack. Here is an illustrative example. In 2003, when the US attacked Iraq, the bourgeois nationalist leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan supported the imperialist invasion against the regime of Saddam Hussein, over promises of greater regional autonomy.

We would defend any autonomy obtained for the Kurdish population. But when the Peshmerga (the army of the Iraqi Kurds) was fighting under the U.S. command, it was not a force struggling for Kurdish independence against Baghdad, but an arm of the imperialist project to subjugate the entire region. Thus, we would oppose the efforts of Kurdish capitalists to support the imperialist invasion, while we would continue to defend the Kurds’ national rights.

Today, a similar situation emerges in Iraq, in face of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. The main Kurdish political parties in Iraq, KPD (Kurdish Democratic Party) and PUK (Kurdistan Patriotic Union), despite their alledged rivalry, are using their position at the head of the regional government in Northern Iraq to support the imperialists.

But while in Iraqi Kurdistan the scene is dominated by the imperialist stooges, in Syria the most influential political force among the Kurdish population is currently the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the Syrian associate of the once-Maoist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which operates in Turkey. In 2012, Assad’s troops withdrew completely from the Kurdish regions, the territory known as Rojava. It is unclear whether this was due to military conditions or a demagogic attempt to gain the support of the Kurds, or a combination of both factors. Rojava has since come under control of the PYD. Through its military organization, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the PYD clashed with both the Assad regime and the bourgeois opposition on different occasions. Since the Islamic State began advancing on Northern Syria, though, the YPG has focused their efforts in defeating the fundamentalists.

ISIS operations in Syria first clashed with the Kurds in July 2014, in Kobanî – one of the three cantons under the PYD government, near the border with Turkey. This drew worldwide attention and the Kurdish resistance has won wide sympathy, getting known as the “revolutionaries fighting the Islamic State”. ISIS was finally defeated in the region in early 2015, through a combination of the relentless struggle of the Kurds (who have always been in technical inferiority) and imperialist bombings against ISIS in the region. Kobanî was besieged for months, during which many groups on the left (especially some anarchists) spoke of a “revolutionary character” of the Kurdish resistance.

The PYD is a party founded in 2003 by PKK sympathizers in Syria. It was considered by the Syrian government as a factor of instability, due to its popular support and underground operations in the Kurdish regions. Its main source of ideological orientation is the PKK, which was established in 1978 as a Maoist group dedicated to armed resistance against the oppression of the Kurdish population in Turkey, and has a long history of resistance against the Turkish government.

But it seems that the PKK is no longer an adherent of Maoism and its Stalinist practice of persecution against internal oppositionists and a program of “people’s war” that wobbles between a bourgeois democratic program of “New Democracy” and the prospect of reproducing a bureaucratic state-economy regime like Mao’s China. According to many reports, since the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan (its historical leader) in 1999, the PKK has undergone a programmatic transformation towards what is described by Ocalan himself as “democratic confederalism” – which is inspired by libertarian authors and seeks to build stateless “popular self-governments” in small scale.

The PKK is still considered by NATO and the Turkish government as a “terrorist organization”, and Marxists around the world have the imperative duty to defend the group against all attacks from Erdogan’s brutal regime. Except for a few brief periods of truce (the latter of which dates from 2013), the PKK has continuously fought against the Turkish regime for autonomy for the Kurdish regions. But while it is hard to precisely say how consolidated is this programmatic shift (the PKK continues to be an underground organization), its seems to have definitely changed the group’s outlook.

Trotskyists believe that workers and peasants need a form of political power based on their own organizations in order to crush the bourgeoisie’s military, political and economic domination and prevent the capitalists’ attempts to return to power after a victorious uprising. This authentic “workers government” should cover the whole territory and be based on representatives democratically elected by the workers and peasants (and removable by the same assemblies that elected them). This is the only formula able to balance the local nature of direct democratic management with large-scale working class’ interests in all areas.

Last but not least, such government should give internationalist material and political aid to workers fighting in other countries to defeat “their” own bourgeoisie. Socialism cannot be achieved on a national scale and, ultimately, no workers government can survive isolated in a world dominated by imperialism. The political program of the PKK/PYD seems to ignore the necessity of building this “proletarian dictatorship” based on a collectivized economy and workers centralized military power.

As mentioned, the PYD has control of the Rojava region. In early 2014 it adopted a “Charter of Rojava’s Social Contract, and this constitutional document makes no mention of socialism, collective control of the means of production or workers’ democracy. Instead, it is a confusing combination of community participation and private property maintenance. Article 41 provides that “Everyone has the right to own property and personal ownership is guaranteed,” while Article 42 says that the economic system aims to “ensure participatory economy while promoting competition in accordance with the principle of democratic management ‘To each according to one’s work’.”

[January 2016: Following the defeat of ISIS, the PYD consolidated its power in a region where all bourgeois parties and governments were defeated or withdrew. The PYD is not a bourgeois party, but an organization based on the mobilization of workers and peasants of that region. The conditions are the most favorable for the establishment of a proletarian government, with workers and peasants’ democratic control over the means of production, the political system and the army. However, the PYD has no clarity about the nature of the regime it wants to build. Despite the PYD’s democratic preaching, the maintenance of capitalist property puts clear limits for further development, due to social inequality and lack of workers’ direct democracy. Given what has happened until now, it seems that the PYD will not break from the bourgeoisie in a definite way. Its ranks, as well as other workers and peasants fighters of the Rojava region, should strive for a revolutionary leadership and reject the PYD’s current vacillations and illusions of a “third way” between capitalism and workers’ power.]

During and after the battle against the Islamic State in Kobanî, the PYD also spread dangerous illusions in the Peshmerga units of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq (from which it received weapons) and in the U.S. air intervention. It released a public statement “thanking” them for their fight against ISIS, during which the PYD gave military tactical advice to the U.S. (like where to bomb). A PYD leader, Saleh Muslim, expressed this attitude in various statements to the press:

According to Muslim, the international coalition ‘has saved the lives of many civilians’ in its war against IS. […] He also thanked the international coalition led by the U.S. for supporting the Kurds in their misery and for helping the YPG forces to resist the IS radical group: ‘Such operations reinforce the relationship between Kurds and states that defend democracy and peace’, Muslim concluded.”

–– Syrian Kurds urge U.S.-led coalition to intensify anti-IS strikes in Kobanî, October 13, 2014. Available in: http://tinyurl.com/pkzaufb.

We believe that Marxists should have defended Kobanî against the advance of ISIS’s fundamentalist reactionaries. What Rojava’s workers and activists with revolutionary intentions urgently need, though, is a political orientation that their current leaders cannot offer. It is necessary to prevent the development of expectations and illusions in the character of the bourgeois government of Iraqi Kurdistan and the imperialist bombings.

The U.S. intended to contain ISIS’s advance in Kobanî for their own reactionary purposes, and not “help” the Kurdish people. The U.S. government is definetely not among the advocates of “democracy and peace” in the world. It should not be forgotten that Washington is a great ally of the Turkish regime of Erdogan, which did everything to prevent the PYD from receiving any help from the PKK bases in Turkey. We do not condemn the PYD for getting arms from any source that was offering them (provided that it did not mean making political concessions). And it certainly had the right to tactically benefit from the fact that ISIS was being targeted by the imperialists, provided it had clarity about the nature of the bombings.

[August 2016: Since January 2016, when we originally published this article, this course of the PYD has deepened. In the beginning of the year it cooperated with U.S. air forces with the aim of expanding into the non-Kurdish Raqqa region, one of ISIS’ main strongholds. Now it is cooperating with Assad in the siege of Aleppo and with imperialist forces in Manbiji, cities which are being completely destroyed, with high number of civil casualties. Besides that, in order to push ISIS away from Rojava, the PYD joined forces with several other parties and organizations when they formed the “Democratic Syrian Forces”, a military coalition in which the YPG was the main unit, as well as the “Syrian Democratic Council”, an entity that claims to be for a “federated, democratic and secular Syria” – a clearly class collaborationist move. If it wasn’t for the imperialists’ distrust in the PYD, the DSF/SDC would probably be a very suitable ally for them on the ground.]

Spartacist League: sectarianism on Kobanî

Pointing to the opportunistic positions of the PYD leadership, some groups on the left took the side of the Islamic State in Kobanî (!). This is the case of the degenerated sect (barely) disguised as Trotskyist organization that is the Spartacist League (SL) of the United States and its International Communist League (ICL). They explained their reasons for such an absurd position as follows:

[…] Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq are again conducting joint military operations with the U.S., as they did for years under the occupation. More recently, Syrian Kurdish nationalists have also sealed a treacherous alliance with the U.S. in the battle over Kobani in northern Syria, acting as the imperialists’ bomb spotters and otherwise coordinating military movements. The fact that all these forces are ‘boots on the ground’ for imperialist intervention means that revolutionary Marxists have a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and their proxies, including the Syrian Kurdish nationalists, the pesh merga, the Baghdad government and its Shi’ite militias.”

–– Down With U.S. War Against ISIS!, October 31, 2014. Available in: http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1055/isis.html.

In its drive to conquer Kobanî, the Islamic State was not fighting an imperialist stronghold, since there were no U.S. troops on the ground, but to expand its power in the Kurdish areas. The YPG was the only force fighting the fundamentalists with weapons in their hands in Kobanî and, despite the vacillating position of its leadership, it could not be seriously considered as a U.S. “proxy”. The YPG resisted the siege of ISIS in Kobanî for several months even before the imperialists got involved.

Revolutionaries must criticize the illusions propagated by the PYD and its “thank you” full of illusions to the international imperialist coalition. But what was central to determine which side to take on Kobanî was whether these positions and the military tactical collaboration with the imperialists made the PYD a force subordinated to the United States in their efforts to subjugate Syria.

We believe that the U.S. military took advantage of the conflict in Kobanî to bomb and weaken ISIS. But it could not use the PYD, which it still considers a terrorist organization, as a tool to control Northern Syria. After the battle, the U.S. was not able to have any real control over Rojava. The PYD was benefiting from the imperialist bombardments, but was not integrated and subordinated to the military efforts of the imperialists in the region.

[August 2016: reinforcing that statement, at the recent third round of peace meetings sponsored by imperialists in Geneva, no PYD-Rojava representative was invited, due to the U.S. distrust in them, what led the Syrian Democratic Council representatives to withdraw the invitations they received.]

Therefore, the battle for Kobanî did not consist of U.S. agents fighting the Islamic State (as the Spartacist League pictures it), but of a Kurdish resistance force fighting the fundamentalist reactionaries, coordinated with (but not subordinated to) U.S. bombarments. In such a struggle, revolutionaries had a side: with the PYD/YPG against ISIS, while at the same time it was important to warn the Syrian and Kurdish workers and activists not to consider, even momentarily, that the U.S. or the Peshmerga could be their “allies”.

What this position demonstrates is that the Spartacist League has completely lost its sense of proportion (if it had any to begin with). The victory of the YPG in Rojava is not the same as the victory of the rebels in Libya in 2011. It was not a coup d’etat and military revolt orchestrated and coordinated by the imperialists to put a puppet regime in power. The result was the maintenance of a Kurdish party with plebeian roots, which had risen to power as a result of the complex civil war dynamics. The victorious resistance against ISIS was an important move to prevent the advance of fundamentalist reaction.

For proletarian defenses in the midst of the civil war and a workers revolutionary party!

In face of the religious sectarianism present in the ongoing civil wars in Iraq and Syria (involving Sunni / Shiite rivalry) and the bloodshed on both sides, there is room for the emergence of a non-sectarian resistance of the working class against these crimes. If accompanied by the revolutionary impulse to expel the imperialists from Middle East, prevent the victory of the fundamentalist reaction and defend the Kurds and other ethnic minorities, this position has the potential to develop rapidly among workers who see no alternative among the current forces competing for power.

Currently there is no mass party of the working class in Syria (not even a reformist one), due to Assad’s regime decade-long oppression. The only legalized union federation is entirely subject to the state structure and controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (the regime party). A position contrasting with those currently expressed in the civil war would immediately gain sympathy from the working class, even if initially represented only by a small group of politically solid and dedicated cadres. On the other hand, embellishing any of the major forces in this dispute can only lead to opportunist disaster.

Workers’ internationalist solidarity actions are a touchstone of Trotskyism and would be essential to prepare the Syrian, Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish workers and peasants against “their” respective ruling classes and the vicious imperialist machinations. The only way to ensure long-term peace in the region is through victorious socialist revolutions that end with the reactionary capitalist competitors, clan rivalries and their constant dependence on treacherous alliances with the imperialists. The positive result would be the creation of a socialist federation of the Middle East.

Therefore, the construction of a revolutionary workers party in Syria is an urgent matter. With a full socialist program of workers’ control of major industries and agrarian revolution, a Trotskyist organization in Syria would also defend a set of democratic demands against the regime and its reactionary adversaries. This would demonstrate the uncompromising desire of revolutionaries to build a proletarian democracy, as opposed to the false promises of the “democratic” imperialists.

On the Trotskyist Fraction’s centrist zigzags

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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com. Thank you!

On the Trotskyist Fraction’s centrist zigzags

By Rodolfo Kaleb

November 2015

About two years ago we published a lengthy polemical article directed to the Trotskyist Fraction (Fracción Trotskista) [1], which is the international organization of the Argentinian PTS (Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas). The polemic was about the task of building a revolutionary party and what we consider the Trotskyist Fraction’s centrist strategy on this issue: they try to approach opportunist groups of the “family of Trotskyism” with the aim of mixing with them inside common political blocs. This position is revealed by the TF’s constant appeals for programmatic unity addressed to various revisionist groups. On these occasions, the TF usually ignores or minimizes the many times the opportunist currents they are wooing rejected major Marxist principles such as class independence.

The Argentinian “Workers Left Front” (FIT)

As we discussed in that piece, the Argentinian Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (FIT – Workers Left Front) has been the main arena in which the PTS has tried to implement this position in recent years. The FIT is an electoral coalition among the PTS and two other organizations that claim the Trotskyist heritage – the Partido Obrero (PO) of Jorge Altamira and the Izquierda Socialista (IS – Argentinian section of the Morenoite Unidad Internacional de los Trabajadores).

The FIT is not a bloc of class collaboration, meaning it is not what Trotskyists usually call a “popular front” with bourgeois parties. Therefore, in certain cases, a critical electoral support to the FIT candidates would be a principled tactic. However, the FIT is not just a tactical electoral bloc with the purpose of allowing working class groups to participate in the bourgeois elections of Argentina. For us, it is clear that the PTS regards the FIT as a trampoline to build political unity with the other left groups in it, especially the Partido Obrero. On certain occasions, the TF recognizes this, but on others they deny it. The PTS is always putting pressure on the other groups to maintain their unity beyond the electoral period, it is, to form a permanent bloc. In that sense, the TF has repeatedly said that the FIT is a “revolutionary front” and an embryo to a revolutionary party.

Since we wrote our article, we’ve had many conversations with Trotskyist Fraction militants in Brazil about this topic. One of the answers we heard was that the intention of the PTS was not to merge with the opportunist groups, but that the FIT was simply a “united front”, a collaboration for practical purposes, especially to allow the groups to participate in the bourgeois elections under Argentina’s restrict electoral law. The same opinion was broadcast by the German section of the Trotskyist Fraction (RIO – Revolutionary Internationalist Organization):

Another important issue for the formation of the FIT is the question of electoral fronts as a temporary united front based on partial agreements in a concrete situation, as opposed to long-term projects that are based on more profound agreements in terms of program, strategy and practice. The FIT is by no means a project that has been designed in terms of a long-term alignment of the PTS with the PO, but on the concrete necessity of a united workers’ front against bourgeois repression.” (our emphasis)
The electoral campaign of the FIT in Argentina. July 27th, 2011
http://www.onesolutionrevolution.org/?p=757&language=en

However the PTS itself is now clearly denying that the FIT is a “united front”. As the FIT has recently undergone a harsh dispute involving the formation of the slate for presidential elections, the PTS wrote several articles to answer the PO’s leader assertion that the bloc was only a “united front”:

The FIT is a bloc of agitation among three parties that claim to be Trotskyists and defend a program of transitional demands, class independence and a workers’ government. This is not a ‘united front’, but a regroupment of left formations which claim to be revolutionary and are not yet big parties; and their objective is to agitate a common revolutionary program in electoral processes. The program of the FIT, more than the program of a ‘united front’, opens the way for debating the necessity of a revolutionary party, a proposal we have raised in many opportunities and which our allies have, unfortunately, systematically denied.” (our emphasis).
The Partido Obrero at the Luna Park and Jorge Altamira’s speech. November 9, 2014. http://www.laizquierdadiario.com/El-Partido-Obrero-en-el-Luna-Park-y-el-discurso-de-Jorge-Altamira (Spanish)

This statement, among many others put out by the PTS leadership, confirms what we have written (and what some Trotskyist Faction militants and even their German section failed to recognize). It is, that the PTS goal inside the FIT is to seek programmatic unity with blatantly opportunist parties.

Another (verbal) answer we frequently got was the recognition that “yes, the Trotskyist Fraction does issue calls for programmatic unity with opportunist groups” (what is evident just by reading the quote above). But, continues the answer, this would be just a “tactic” designed for the rank and file of these opportunist groups. The goal would be to show them that the PTS is not running away from the debate, that it’s not a sectarian group. If this were true, it would imply the TF does not actually intend to have unity with the revisionists, but that the TF only “says so” as a way of winning over the opportunists’ ranks.

We have a serious problem with this “explanation”. First of all, because it is dishonest. The Trotskyist Fraction’s supposed “tactic” – if it indeed is all that is – would consist of telling one thing to these ranks (that they desire unity with them) while actually having other intentions. Besides, if this is the truth, that would be a crappy “tactic” for the purpose of convincing these militants to join the TF. The TF often makes sharp correct criticisms of the PO and the Morenoites. However, these criticisms lose much of their value when, every now and then, the TF says that these opportunist groups “defend a program of transitional demands, class independence and a workers’ government” (as they supposedly do within the FIT).

It’s inevitable that most dedicated militants will remain in their current centrist organizations even if s/he concedes the existence of some errors, if these errors are considered somehow correctable in the long run. To win over the members of an opportunist group it is necessary to clearly expose their leaderships’ revisionist method. Revolutionaries must patiently explain to the ranks of these currents how the politics of their leaders can only lead the proletariat into defeats. Instead, the TF chooses to make these appeals for discussions and unity to the opportunists. As Trotsky wrote: “If a text book on physics contained only two lines on God as the first cause it would be my right to conclude the author is an obscurantist.” What are the Trotskyist Fraction’s many correct criticisms worth of when (in way more than two lines) they consider the opportunists capable of defending a “common revolutionary program” with the PTS?

How many times have these very same groups crossed class independence? Let’s not forget the various occasions in which the PO supported bourgeois platforms in the elections, the most noteworthy being their vote for Evo Morales’ 2006 campaign in Bolivia [2]. Or the time the Morenoites of Izquierda Socialista hailed NATO’s takeover of Libya in 2011 as a popular victory against dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi [3]. In 2012, the PO raised the perspective of a “left government” (led by SYRIZA) to rule over the bourgeois state in Greece and insisted this could be a solution to the political and economic crisis of this country [4]. The Morenoites, on their part, claimed the military coup against the Egyptian government in 2013 was a “victorious democratic revolution” [5]. The Trotskyist Fraction knows better, since they have criticized all these opportunist positions. So we can safely say that the TF’s statement that the PO and the IS (along with the PTS) defend “class independence” and “a workers government” is a centrist capitulation. It is centrist precisely because while on some occasions the opportunist groups are correctly criticized, these criticisms are intertwined with the TF’s occasional appeals for unity and the claim they raise a “revolutionary program”.

These appeals are not limited to an Argentinian context, but rather consist of the entire international perspective of the Trotskyist Fraction. See, for instance, the campaign initiated by the TF a couple of years ago “For a Movement for a Revolutionary Socialist International” (which seems to have been silently put aside). This campaign issued a Manifesto calling for the “regroupment” of a myriad of groups and tendencies around positions on the situation in Greece and the Arab Spring:

We are making this proposal especially to the comrades of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) of France, both to those who, with us, make up Platform Z, and to those who are grouped together in Platform Y, who see that it is necessary to confront the policy of the majority leadership of the NPA… and to the comrades of the United Secretariat from other countries who are confronting the majority’s orientation of reproducing this type of bloc with reformists, and those who are resisting the line of subordination to SYRIZA in Greece; to the leaders and workers who constitute the left wing of the miners of Huanuni in Bolivia …; to the comrades of the Partido Obrero of Argentina and to the Coordinating Committee for the Re-foundation of the Fourth International, with whom we make up, in Argentina, the Front of the Left and the Workers, and with whom we have agreed on different actions in the national and international class struggle; and to all those organizations of the revolutionary Left, or of the workers’ and young people’s vanguard, that seek a road towards the revolution.”
For a Movement for a Revolutionary Socialist International – The Fourth International. August 20, 2013.
http://www.leftvoice.org/For-a-Movement-for-a-Revolutionary-Socialist-International-The-Fourth-International

It is clear that the groups and tendencies included in this appeal have political differences with the TF not only on the Arab Spring and on Greece but on many other questions as well. Some TF leaders think these appeals are some sort of “maneuver” while many ranks prefer to ignore the existence of such statements or buy the idea that they consist of “tactics” to win over the ranks of the opportunist organizations. Whatever is the reason for the appeals (if not itself the result of centrist confusion), they are a capitulation and a compromise with centrism that deeply undermines any serious attempt to defeat opportunism in the workers’ movement.

First the Brazilian PSTU, now the Partido Obrero…

Today the PTS is wooing and raising appeals for unity with the Partido Obrero of Argentina and the other groups in the FIT, which are considered to have a “common revolutionary program”. But until a few years ago, the Trotskyist Fraction had its attention devoted to the Brazilian Morenoites of the PSTU (Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado). In 2006, for example, the TF published an “open letter the PSTU and the LIT” (LIT/IWL is the PSTU’s international organization). They wrote:

Our current, just like the LIT, has correctly criticized the turn to the right of most international groups that claim Trotskyism, a phenomenon you call ‘opportunist rendezvous’… Recently, the PO took steps in the same direction and voted for Evo Morales’ popular front in Bolivia, and later for Romano Prodi in Italy. We consider that, just like us, the comrades of the PSTU and the LIT had the merit of not committing any of these capitulations mentioned and it is based on these political agreements that we propose to open a national and international discussion.”
Open letter to the militants of the PSTU and the LIT. May 5, 2006.
http://www.palavraoperaria.org/E-necessaria-uma-politica-ofensiva-de-construcao-de-um-partido-revolucionario (Portuguese)

First of all, in 2013 the TF had apparently “forgotten” about these opportunist positions of the PO, since they then claimed to “have agreed” with them on “different actions in the national and international class struggle”. By the same token, in 2006 the TF had “forgotten” all the opportunist history of the Morenoites, including their support to “popular fronts” with the bourgeoisie, like the ones built around the Brazilian Workers Party, which the PSTU had voted for just a few years before [6].

The TF’s intentions “to open a national and international discussion” with the Morenoites was apparently frustrated by the PSTU’s own turn to the right in recent years, which involved their support to the overthrow of governments by right-wing sectors of the bourgeoisie as supposed “successful democratic revolutions”, including even processes led by the imperialist powers (Libya, Ukraine, twice in Egypt). If revolutionaries are supposed to be the “political memory” of the workers and warn them about treacherous reformist and opportunist leaders, in this case the TF couldn’t remember (or, what is even worse, pretended not to remember) their own writings.

Conclusion

All the attempts by the Trotskyist Fraction to justify their capitulation involve the idea that they’re actively struggling to build a mass revolutionary party as quickly as possible. All those who make criticisms to them on this issue are labeled “sectarians” who are not actively pursuing other left groups and will never build a party.

It is certainly important for revolutionaries to look for opportunities of fusion with other left-wing organizations. But there are some considerations to be made. In any attempt of fusion, there must be no “amnesty” towards the “weak spots” or centrist policies of the other groups, specially when they continue to apply the same politics as before. The history of the construction of the Fourth International gives us numerous examples of how to engage with young centrist organizations and win over their ranks (in some cases, the entire organizations) to a revolutionary perspective. To succeed in this, however, there must be no concessions of program, no illusions that any of these centrists can play a progressive role without a critical account and break from their previous politics. There is not even a whim of that from the groups to which the Trotskyist Fraction issue their appeals. Both the Brazilian PSTU and the Argentinian PO, for example, are consolidated centrist organizations, with decades of treacherous positions and methods. It is highly unlikely, to say the minimum, that these groups could be won as a whole to genuine Trotskyism. Even if this was possible, it certainly would not happen through the Trotskyist Fraction’s diplomatic approach of not mentioning shameful past positions of these groups when they issue their “open letters”. Their opportunism cannot be put under a rug. Debating it as much as possible is the only way to build a revolutionary party.

Just like most centrists wobble between an ostensibly revolutionary position and an openly opportunist one, so does the Trotskyist Fraction on regard to their position towards the revisionist groups of Trotskyism. Sometimes clear criticisms, sometimes a capitulation followed by a desire of unity. But the Fourth International won’t be rebuilt by “maneuvers” of any kind. Only a sharp and consistent criticism of opportunism can lead us to the rebirth of the world party of socialist revolution. As Trotsky once wrote about centrism:

… The new International cannot form itself in any other way than that of struggle against centrism. Ideological intransigence and flexible united front policy are, in these conditions, two weapons for attaining one and the same end.

The centrist, never sure of his position and his methods, regards with detestation the revolutionary principle: State that which is; it inclines to substituting, in the place of political principles, personal combinations and petty organizational diplomacy.

The centrist always remains in spiritual dependence upon right groupings, is induced to court the goodwill of the most moderate, to keep silent about their opportunist faults and to regild their actions before the workers.

… It is precisely on this plane that one must now deliver the principle blows at centrism. For carrying out this work with success it is essential to have one’s hands free, that means not only maintaining complete organic independence, but also critical intransigence concerning the most ‘left’ of the ramifications of centrism.”

Two Articles on Centrism, 1934.
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1934/02/centrism.htm

NOTES

[1] Fração Trotskista e sua ruptura incompleta com o morenismo (May 2013).

[2] Read our critique of this position in PCO, Partido Obrero e as frentes populares (February 2013).

[3] Check La revolución árabe y el final de Kadafi, available in Spanish at: http://www.uit-ci.org/index.php/noticias-y-documentos/revolucion-arabe/43-la-revolucion-arabe-y-el-final-de-kadafi- To read a critique by Revolutionary Regroupment of a similar position taken by the PSTU/IWL, see: PSTU, Fração Trotskista e a defesa da Líbia contra o imperialismo (November 2011).

[4] Check La pulseada entre el FMI y Syriza, available in Spanish at http://www.po.org.ar/prensaObrera/1224/internacionales/la-pulseada-entre-el-fmi-y-syriza To read the critique published by the PTS, see: Los revolucionarios y la cuestión del “gobierno de izquierda”. Available in Spanish at: http://www.pts.org.ar/Los-revolucionarios-y-la-cuestion-del-gobierno-de-izquierda

[5] Check Egipto: la movilización revolucionaria derribó a Mursi!, available in Spanish at http://www.izquierdasocialista.org.ar/index.php/noticias/internacionales/112-egipto-la-movilizacion-revolucionaria-derribo-a-mursi To read a critique by Revolutionary Regroupment of a similar position taken by the PSTU/IWL, see: O golpe militar no Egito e a posição escandalosa do PSTU/LIT (October 2013).

[6] Check their statement at the time: PSTU chama voto em Lula (2002), available in Portuguese at http://www.pstu.org.br/node/3435 To read a critique by Revolutionary Regroupment of the Morenoites’ practice of supporting popular fronts, see: A Frente de Belém na lógica do morenismo (August 2012).

Statement on Sam Trachtenberg

We inform our readers that we have broken relations with Sam Trachtenberg. He was expelled from Revolutionary Regroupment (by unanimous vote of the other members) for disrespecting internal democracy. In an authoritarian fashion, he sneakily changed the group’s website and email passwords to prevent other members from using it, especially posting our articles.

This happened amid an internal dispute in which Trachtenberg nastily tried to assert control over the rest of the group by demanding it not published articles without HIS previous approval. He was not able to participate in the editing process due to a difficult personal and health situation. According to him, Revolutionary Regroupment should therefore hold from publishing articles that had been written for several months (even if it meant such articles became outdated and opportunities of intervention were lost) because HE could not participate in editing (a process in which we have always sought to democratically include all comrades within a reasonable time schedule).

After he realized he was isolated in his position that his personal contribution was so critical that the group couldn’t survive without it, he started launching attacks against the other members. While refusing to hold a meeting in which he would be in minority, Trachtenberg threw several slanders against RR members, including that we have “tortured” him – supposedly via email, since there has been no personal or even phone communication in this period. It’s unnecessary to say this is a lie (among many he has fabricated).

We notify the public that the website “Regroupment.org”, the email “Revolutionary_Regroupment@yahoo.com” and the New York PO box no longer represent and/or speak on behalf of our organization – only of Sam Trachtenberg. We will write an elaborate explanation and description of what happened in the future, as well as answer any slanders Trachtenberg may raise against our organization.

DEFEND THE PALESTINIANS! NO CONFIDENCE IN HAMAS AND FATAH!

Defend the Palestinians! No Confidence in Hamas and Fatah!

Israel’s War on Gaza

August 2014

Over the past few weeks Israel’s one-sided war against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip has, with a combination of bombings and ground troops, led to the deaths of nearly 2000 Palestinians, many of them children. Solidarity protests in the West Bank have also faced repression. It is in the class interests of the international proletariat to put a stop to this latest round of capitalist barbarism. With the full backing of the Obama administration and an implicit green light from the United Nations, the Israeli state has continued its murderous attack against a helpless population.

Despite some historical differences separating them, both Hamas and Fatah, the two political forces currently wielding mass influence amongst Palestinians, represent bourgeois class interests rather than the genuine interests of the oppressed Palestinian masses. Their class position means that in addition to opposing emancipation from capitalism and all the forms of oppression it engenders, they are simultaneously also able to betray the struggle for Palestinian national rights which they claim to represent.

Founded in 1964 as a group employing guerilla tactics with the aim of re-establishing a Palestinian state based on pre-1948 borders, already by the 1970’s the PLO, under Fatah’s and Yasser Arafat’s leadership, had retreated to accepting a “mini-state” based on the West Bank and Gaza, which, logistically, could only leave the populations there militarily surrounded by and at the total mercy of the racist Zionist state. Due to Israeli belligerence, Hamas is currently forced into taking a more militant posture. But its reactionary Islamic fundamentalist politics, which includes opposition to secular democratic rights as well as the rights of women and LGBT, means it too is opposed to the interests of the Palestinian masses.

Along with being incapable of appealing to the class interests of Israeli Jewish workers to abandon Zionism and come to the defense of their Palestinian brothers and sisters, whose combined strength would be capable of ending this massacre, both groups are also politically dedicated to running a capitalist society under any state they rule. Neither deserves the political support of Palestinians fighting to end their oppression.

Palestinians can therefore only achieve victory with a political program aimed at overthrowing capitalism, rather than under the leadership of forces devoted to bourgeois nationalism or religious fundamentalism. However we are not neutral when these forces are resisting the murderous Zionist attacks against the Palestinian population, we are formilitarily siding with them against the Israeli state. But unlike many leftist groups with deep illusions in Hamas and Arab Nationalism, we do not extend them any political support.

Along with the tasks posed before revolutionaries in the Palestinian region, it is also crucial to win international solidarity. In an increasingly globalized economy, strikes and other class struggle actions by workers in other countries can deliver major blows to the Israeli bourgeoisie and its imperialist supporters, strengthening the Palestinians ability to resist.

It is Necessary to Win Solidarity from Israeli Workers!

A common mistake by many groups on the left (beyond capitulating politically to Hamas), is to either ignore or deny the necessity of organizing the Hebrew speaking Israeli workers in a common struggle for socialist revolution in the region. The claim that the entire Israeli Jewish population is one big “imperialist military enclave” or “occupying force” ignores the complex situation of the interpenetration of two peoples  in the same territory and the fact that Israel is a class divided society, whose bourgeois state does not represent the interests of the Israeli Jewish working class.

Also, at this point in history, it is simply no longer possible to view Israelis as nothing more than colonial settlers. Willy-nilly, they have over time developed in the region as a Hebrew speaking nation. Israeli Jewish workers can be convinced to unite with Palestinians because it is ultimately in their class interests to do so. Denying them their national rights can only throw them back into the hands of the Zionists.

In the recent weeks of the attacks, many thousands of Israelis have resisted the military draft in opposition to the Israeli states murders in Gaza, at the same time as mass protests have occurred in cities such as Tel-Aviv. These are demonstrations of the potential of the Jewish proletariat, under the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard party, to defend the Palestinians national rights and defeat the Zionist state from within.

Build a Bi-national Revolutionary Party! For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!

Many groups on the left call for a “secular democratic and sovereign Palestine”, without mention of such a state’s class character. In practice this can only lead to subordinating working class political independence towards the goal of the construction of a bourgeois state in the territory. As proletarian internationalists, we are for building a bi-national revolutionary party composed of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jewish workers (as well as other ethnic and religious groups living in the area) which expropriates the bourgeoisie in the region, making possible a fraternal co-existence between the two peoples where no one oppresses the other.

As the Palestinians, by themselves, cannot overthrow the Zionist state, being able to win the Israeli Jewish workers to an internationalist perspective is not an option but a necessity. An important measure to allow this union and help overcome the deep fears and suspicions systematically instilled in both groups over all these years would be the recognition of the right to self-determination for both groups within democratically redrawn boundaries, if that should be desired. At the same time that a revolutionary party would defend such a measure if it is necessary to move forward, it itself would advocate and struggle to build a single bi-national workers state, within whose framework the two people can build a socialist society together, free of both class and national inequalities.

Portugal: the crisis and the left

An eyewitness report

Portugal: the crisis and the left

Marcio Torres, September 2014.

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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com Thank you!

Introduction: one of our members visited Portugal in September 2014 and wrote an internal report about the crisis in the country and also the Portuguese left. We decided to publish a slightly edited version adapted to the public.

[The Crisis]

Portugal was one of the European countries that was most affected by the first years of the world’s capitalist crisis. At first, the Portuguese government, which is led by a coalition of the [bourgeois parties] PSD [Social Democratic Party] and CDS-PP [Popular Party] spent almost all of the country’s savings to bail out the big private banks, creating an enormous debt. The bourgeois state gave the money extracted mainly from the working class families to bank owners. Now, while the bourgeoisie is doing better, the workers are facing several attacks on their living standards, as the government tries to solve its debt by cutting the budget on public services like education and health care, laying-off public workers, changing the rules of Social Security to reduce payments and require more working time before retirement etc. All this is known as “austerity package” and is imposed by the so-called “Troika” (the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund). To sum-up, the Portuguese masses are going through the second stage of the capitalists’ plan to deal with the “socialization” of the crisis. Some big capitalists were saved by the state and then used this money to buy the assets of capitalists who weren’t bailed out and went bankrupt, increasing the concentration of capital that had led to the crisis in the first place.

One of the most serious consequences of the crisis on workers’ lives is the insufficiency of their salary. With a 585 Euros national minimum wage (on which 15.2% of the population depend, according to a recent document from the Economy Ministry), the Portuguese have to face high prices for manufactured goods (most of them imported from large imperialist centers) and even food. In Lisbon, for example, it is hard to find a good meal for less than 5 Euros, which makes really prohibitive for the average worker to eat outside home, since in a month it would cost more than half the minimum wage (280 Euros). This obviously leads to an intensification of the domestic slavery which women are submitted to.

Other consequences of the crisis are easily noticeable by taking a look at any newspaper. With the beginning of the school year, the main topic on the news for the last weeks has been the crisis of the educational system. The September 9 issue of Metro announced a huge mass migration from private schools to the public ones, due the impossible situation faced by many parents and which makes it difficult to pay for the high tuition. Although the government officers claim the existence of a comfortable 10 students per teacher ratio in public schools, the national teacher’s union claims that this is false data and that teachers in public schools are facing an overload of work (compared to the previous standards), aggravated by the fact that teachers have to do many bureaucratic tasks that take a great part of their time.

Obviously, the deterioration of working conditions is not affecting only teachers and education workers. To raise one more example, many private companies have been assigning young trainees to do the job of a regular worker – which is very profitable for the bosses, since the trainees’ scholarships are paid by the state and that the former have not even the most basic labor rights. If they protest, they will obviously lose their jobs, which is a fearsome scenario for a youth which has been defining itself as the “precariada[precarious]. This word became popular in the several struggles of the unemployed that sprouted during the last few years.

Another hot topic during the first weeks of September was the situation of the “New Bank”. It was created as a state-owned company after one of the biggest Portuguese financial groups, the “Grupo Espírito Santo”, and its bank went bankrupt and its main assets were bought by the state. After using public funds to save the owners of the Grupo Espírito Santo, the government is now talking about privatizing the New Bank. This means that, after the government spent a huge sum of money to clean up the mess of the profit-hunger CEO’s and increased the public debt by doing so, the bank will be put again in the hands of those parasites – and will most probably be sold at a very a low price.

All these issues have been going on since 2009. The recent political upheavals that took place in Portugal as a protest to this situation, with massive street demos and several general strikes, still echoes in the streets of Lisbon. One can easily see stencils of radical slogans throughout the city, as well as big placards of different left groups, which call a lot of attention on the urban landscape.

The once Stalinist and now simply reformist Portuguese CP (PCP) recently ink-sprayed the entrance of the subway stations, demanding an “End with the massacre in Palestine”. Many of their placards can also be seen in different neighborhoods, announcing the big fest held in the beginning of the month by their publishing branch, Avante, which gathered many progressive artists. The much smaller Bloco de Esquerda [Left Bloc, BE] is an NPA-like multitendency party created in 1999 after the dissolution of USec‘s [United Secretariat of the Fourth International] Portuguese section. They periodically distribute their free bulletin at bus stops and subway stations. The recent issues of that bulletin are mainly dedicated to debating the ongoing effects of the austerity politics imposed by the EU, which were gladly accepted by conservative Portuguese parties. It is also easy to spot placards of the small Morenoite MAS [Socialist Alternative Movement, associated with late Nahuel Moreno], the Portuguese section of the [International Workers League] LIT-CI, which recently split from the Bloco de Esquerda. The posters by the MAS were mainly devoted to their candidate, who participated in the recent elections to the European Parliament, and whose main slogan was “No to the Euro”. Another group that had a variety of placards on the streets of Lisbon against the Euro and that were also announcing a “labor rally” which was held in mid-September was the Maoist PCTP [Portuguese Workers’ Communist Party], which is famous for their elaborated paintings on street walls.

Despite the variety of left groups, the Socialist Party (PS) is the one which has grown the most due to the popular dissatisfaction with the austerity policies. It’s easy to see Socialist MP’s on TV news and taking part in debate shows confronting the PSD and CDS-PP Government Ministers with a somewhat radical rhetoric. This “radical” character, though, is indeed limited to their speeches. The PS is a party with a somewhat mass influence, but its program is thoroughly bourgeois. It is a tool to maintain the workers within the rotten boundaries of capitalism and prevent any working class alternative to the austerity package imposed by the EU.

[The Left]

It is noteworthy that among the mentioned left groups, none presents a revolutionary solution to the workers’ problems. The PCP, although very big, is historically a class collaborationist group, responsible for several betrayals and which has presided over various provisional governments after the fall of the Portuguese dictatorship back in the 1970s. They had no problems in governing with the bourgeoisie. In their huge outdoors spread around Lisbon the CP proudly presents itself as a “patriotic” party as a way to profit from the dissatisfaction with the EU in the easiest possible way.

The Maoists, whose historical leader and founder left the group in the 1980s claiming that there was no more point for parties and unions and that the left was “pure shit” (but is still invited for the party’s rallies and public activities), despite their supposed “revolutionary orthodoxy”, claim the same rotten heritage of Stalinism, which should never be forgiven for betraying several revolutionary situations with their treacherous Popular Fronts. Following the Maoist guide book of class collaboration, the PCTP demands a “democratic and patriotic government” as a solution to the crisis, and raises the slogan for the “return of the Escudo” [Portugal’s currency before Euro].

Apart from the CP, the Bloco de Esquerda is the group that draws more attention at the moment. But its politics are very moderate, specially now that some left-wing tendencies left the bloc: the Morenoite “Ruptura/FER”, which formed the MAS, and the small “Socialismo Revolucionário”, associated with [Peter Taaffe’s] CWI. Now, the reformist majority is practically unopposed. This majority has its origins in the dissolution of the Mandelite PSR [Partido Socialista Revolucionário] in 1999, which created the BE [in a fusion with a then Maoist group and a group of former CP members]. The BE is hardly “Trotskyist” in any sense, not even in a purely formal one. Even the Mandelite grouping formally dissolved and those who want to be closely associated with the USec [in Portugal] have to apply for membership as individuals.

Although it has some union work and organizes some social sectors, the BE is too focused on electoral politics. On a June 2014 bulletin, a “Letter to the Left”, signed by its two national coordinators, expressed a huge disappointment with the results obtained by the entire left on the recent European Elections, assigning to that process a disproportional weight if compared to the little importance the Portuguese masses gave to it, expressed in an abstention of around 60%. The BE’s parliamentary cretinism is so deep that the bloc dropped historical demands of the radical left in order to gain “credibility”. In its most recent bulletin (September/October 2014), instead of demanding the canceling of the Portuguese international debt, which is an instrument of dependence imposed by imperialist powers, the BE demands only an “immediate restructuring of the debt” (that is, to make sure Portugal pays only a “fair” tax to its international creditors). Also, in face of the low national minimum wage, instead of putting forward a struggle for a minimum wage sufficient to put-up with the needs of a working class family, with further increases according to the elevation of prices, the BE merely proposes a 60 Euros raise.  Plus, in some of their placards spread around Lisbon, the BE demands “Down with the government – Respect the Constitution”. One could ask if those who disrespect anti-labor and anti-protest laws should also be called upon to “respect” the bourgeois law in the Constitution.

Left groups’ placards on a Lisbon square (click to enlarge). From left to right: “DOWN WITH THE EURO! Down with the Coelho/Portas national-betrayal government! Back with the Escudo! Hail the democratic and patriotic unity government!” (PCTP); “Jobs, rights, sovereignty. For left wing and patriotic politics! The people’s strength for a Portugal with future.” (PCP); “Save the education and defend the health care – tax the fortunes” (Bloco de Esquerda).

Claiming to represent “a new left alternative” against the insufficiency of the other groups, the Morenoite MAS [Socialist Alternative Movement] split from the BE in 2012. But there’s nothing “new” about it, since before joining the BE as the “Ruptura/FER” tendency, they already existed since the middle 1970s as the PRT [Partido Revolucionário dos Trabalhadores], which participated in the CIA-backed demos led by the PS [Socialist Party] against the PCP/MFA provisional governments – a position which they rapidly swapped for a characterization of the MFA as a proto-soviet formation and of the government as “Kerenskyite” (according to Moreno’s revisionist “democratic revolution” terminology) [see Moreno’s Left Face, written by the then revolutionary Spartacist League and republished in Moreno’s Truth Kit]. Also, the [immediate reason for the] Morenoites’ split from the BE was from the right, confirming that they indeed have nothing new to offer. Instead of being a left-wing split away from the BE‘s parliamentary cretinism, the reason for the 2012 split was that the Morenoites opposed the BE being against entering a government with the reformist and proudly “patriotic” PCP! [See the 2012 statement by the MAS Executive Committee]. What can we say of these “Trotskyists” who propose electoral lash-ups with the formerly Stalinist reformists [to run the bourgeois state]!? According to the tiny CWI group in Portugal, the MAS recent campaign in the European Elections was entirely centered around the slogansNo to the Euro”, “Jail those who ruined the country”, “End the politicians’ privileges” and “600 Euro national minimum wage now”, without even a mention to the necessity of a revolution to smash capitalism – an absence which is reflected in their street placards [see the CWI polemic].

Something worth mentioning is the absence of powerful youth struggles among the Portuguese left – with the important exception of the city of Coimbra, whose life is closely linked to the Coimbra University and, therefore, has a somewhat strong youth militancy engaged in students issues. That is comprehensible since in 2013 the National Ethics Council for the Sciences of Life stated that Portugal is the 6th country with the eldest population in the world, 42 being the average age of one of its citizens. Since the 2008 crisis, many young people have left the country in search for better job opportunities. Militancy and radicalization in the left are generally associated with an important element of youth among its ranks – so much that Lenin once jokily said that “every revolutionary should be shot after passing the age of 35”. Therefore, this is certainly a factor (among others) behind the lack of radicalization in the Portuguese left that we referred to.

Despite the deep crisis that the country is going through, the political situation is not as intense as it should be in terms of militancy and struggles, since the mass protests and strikes seem to have wavered. The crisis of revolutionary leadership certainly plays a role in it, since no group on the left was able to build a revolutionary movement against the effects of the economic crisis. This situation, on its turn, reinforces the workers’ lack of trust on ostensibly socialist organizations.

To end this short report with an anecdote, in the morning of September 11th the subway workers held a 1-day strike. Around 4 thousand workers (according to the Diário Nacional) marched to the Republic Assembly (the Portuguese Congress) demanding a 3% salary raise, but many others simply gathered in front of the closed stations, waiting until 11am, when the subway employees promised to reopen, allowing the normal routine to be carriedon. At the night of the same day, an enormous crowd gathered at the historical center of Lisbon for the 5th edition of “Vogue’s Fashion Night Out”, an event to stimulate shopping at street stores – a luxury that fewer and fewer Portuguese workers can afford. This absurdly contradictory scene only reinforces the urgent need of a struggle to build a revolutionary party capable of defeating the Troika’s austerity “solution” and putting forward a revolutionary perspective to the crisis of capitalism.

On the recent events on Syria

On the recent events on Syria

September 3, 2013

In recent days the disposition of the imperialist powers to launch a military assault on Syria has changed, the official reason based on accusations the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against the forces of the Free Syrian Army and the general population. With John Kerry making clear the US’s determination to proceed regardless of the UK’s decision to not support its latest military gambit, we reiterate our position published on September 2012

“[…] class conscious workers of all countries should demand Imperialists: Hands off Syria! Any intervention into a country historically oppressed by the imperialists will only be to intensify the exploitation of the oppressed nation’s workers. If the imperialists were to intervene military to support the Syrian National Council , we will militarily side with the historically oppressed nation, even if lead by Assad’s forces, supporting the defeat of the imperialists and their domestic supporters.”

Letter to the IG on the Ukraine Scandal

Letter to the Internationalist Group on the Ukraine Scandal

[The following letter  to the Internationalist Group from the International Bolshevik Tendency was sent on August 28, 2003]

To the Internationalist Group

Dear comrades

We hope that the IG will collectively reconsider its mistaken decision not to participate in a proposed joint statement on the Ukrainian fraud.

We are sure that all participants are willing to consider any reasonable suggestions to meet any specific concerns you mighthave, and it would also be possible to attach any clarifications to your signature.

Such a joint statement will not constitute a propaganda bloc, but a bloc to defend the working-class movement against criminal scum. It will focus on a single simple defense issue—without analysis, without social program, without propaganda. It will be made explicit that there are crucial differences between the signatories, and indeed, each organization is likely to present its different specific views on these matters elsewhere in its own name.

A joint statement on this issue, all proportions guarded, is in line with the bloc between Trotskyist and even liberals around the Dewey Commission in the 1930s to defend Trotsky from Stalinist calumny, or joint defense materials on the Minneapolis Trial in the 1940s. It would be of a piece with blocs supported by the Spartacists in their healthy period in the 1960s and 1970s against Healyite thuggery (see Marxism vs Ultraleftism, SWP Education for Socialists Series, January 1974), or against false accusations against Joseph Hansen and George Novack as accomplices in the murder of Trotsky (see http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/verdict.htm), or to establish the truth regarding the Lambertistes’ accusation that their Hungarian leader, Varga, was a police agent. Our proposition is entirely within that tradition.

What is necessary in this situation is a joint statement on the core facts of the scam, issued by a list of the competing groups involved, and translated into a variety of languages. This would carry more weight and authority than individual statements, would attract more attention, and would permeate the workers’ movement more extensively and more quickly. All this is most particularly true in the countries of the former Soviet Union. A joint statement can make a palpable difference.

Your absence from such a joint statement would be a bad sign. It would represent a continuity not with the Trotskyism of Trotsky, Cannon and the healthy period of the Spartacist tendency, but with the degenerating later Spartacists who, in the interests of drawing the sharpest lines between themselves and the rest of the workers’ movement and of sealing their membership off from the influences of rivals, too often fail to draw a line between the workers’ movement and the bourgeoisie. Their practice shows that the tactics of defense blocs and united fronts are not at present open to them. We hope you do not share this approach.

Failure to join in such a statement suggests a fear of the SL’s continuing accusations that there is a fraternity of different groups in an “anti-Spartacist” bloc. It would be unfortunate if taunts like that were to prevent your doing what is best to defend the interests of the workers’ movement.

Of course various enemies will always misrepresent revolutionaries, and any blocs we advocate or enter into are particularly likely to attract such misrepresentations. Our stance on the united front and the French Turn in the 1930s was the occasion for Stalinist misrepresentation of the relationship between Trotskyism and social democracy. Our stance on the beating of Ernie Tate in the 1960s and on the smears against Joseph Hansen et al in the 1970s were occasions for Healyite misrepresentation of the relationship between the Spartacists and the Pabloites. But we did not then and we should not now allow ourselves to be prevented from drawing the class line by the likelihood that we will be misrepresented.

Certainly Stalinist and Healyite misleadership in the past attempted to use such misrepresentation of various temporary blocs and united fronts to mobilize their more backward supporters against Trotskyism, and certainly the Spartacist misleadership today may try the same thing. But the best SL supporters will not be impressed by such demagoguery. Subjective revolutionaries will be impressed instead by even modest measures that genuinely tend to protect the workers’ movement from these gangster con artists.

We hope you reconsider your decision on this matter. In any case we will continue to co-operate with you on this issue to the extent we are able.

Yours for a principled defense bloc

Samuel T. (Trachtenberg)
for the International Bolshevik Tendency

Selected Related Links

CWI Leadership’s Role in Ukrainian Fraud: “No Innocent Explanation”
International Bolshevik Tendency, March 8, 2004

A Band of Political Impostors and Swindlers in Ukraine
League for the Fourth International, August 27, 2003

Open Letter to the Committee for the Workers’ International
League for the Revolutionary Party, October 2, 2003

Ukraine: rogue CWI group deceives international left
League for the Fifth International, August 22, 2003

Cast List
from the IBT web site

Brazil: down with the coup government!

Brazil: down with the coup government!

Fight Temer’s attacks, no support for the PT or its satellites!

Originally published in Portuguese in June 2016

At the dawn of May 12, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff (Workers Party, PT) was temporarily removed from office and will now be judged by the Senate under the authority of the Supreme Court, her conviction being almost certain. The fate of the country is increasingly conducted by the Judiciary’s “robed ministers”, who receive exorbitant incomes and are not accountable to anyone, since they have not even been elected by the population. It is very clear that the articulated action of the Supreme Courts, the Federal Police and the Public Ministry has taken increasingly authoritarian traits. This institutional coup must be stopped: we cannot let it be consolidated through the reaffirmation of  the Supreme Court and co.’s superpowers!

The new de facto government of Michel Temer (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB) has already made its intentions very clear: to make the working class pay for the capitalist crisis. Surely Rousseff and the PT were already fulfilling the same role. Soon after the 2014 election’s second round, she signed she would rule with the same neoliberal program as Aécio Neves / PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party). Therefore, Revolutionary Regroupment is against the class-colaborationist attempt to turn the mobilizations against Temer into a campaign for the return of Rousseff to power. Due to a number of factors, the PT was not being capable of implementing attacks on the scale and speed required by the big capitalists. Temer and his PSDB and DEM (Democrats) allies immediately started making huge cuts in social programs, the budget for public education and public health, and intend to privatize absolutely everything they can, which may include charging for access to the public health system. It is worth remembering that Rousseff, by proposing and then sanctioning the “Anti-terror” Law, guaranteed legal instruments to massacre any serious attempt of resistance by the workers and the oppressed. Faced with this scenario, it is urgent to organize the struggles against Temer’s attacks, but with no support for the PT and its satellites!

We need a national united front to defeat the attacks!

For several months, while Rousseff was still in office, the PT did all it could to prevent a real popular mobilization against the impeachment and that could threaten the austerity measures of its own government. The CUT and the CTB (union federations led by bureaucrats loyal to Rousseff’s government) did not organize any political strike of the working class. The “Popular Brazil Front” – built by the PT, PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil) and other pro-Rousseff forces, despite having organized big street demos, did it in a way that prevented any criticism against Rousseff’s austerity measures, restricting them to acritical rallies, many of which were actually musical concerts with pro-PT artists. The “Fearless People Front” – led by the MTST (Homeless Workers’ Movement) was integrated by large sectors of the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party); and not only its reformist leadership, the Unidade Socialista, but also groups on its “left bloc” such as USec’s Insurgência and the CWI/LSR. They organized some street demos against the impeachment, while also raising criticisms towards Rousseff’s government. But they quickly became reduced to an appendix of the “Popular Brazil Front”, with the FPF’s leaders putting aside any criticism of the PT during the common activities they organized. There were a few progressive initiatives like the “Socialist Left Front” (in Rio de Janeiro), but it has become a propaganda bloc, consisting of meetings among left groups which revolve around programmatic discussions, instead of mobilizing the working class for struggle against the impeachment and the austerity measures. What is necessary at the present moment is a united front of struggles, capable of uniting the working class and the radical youth around the slogans Defeat Temer’s attacks! Defend our jobs, wages, labor and social rights!

Reject “democratic” capitalist solutions! For a revolutionary workers’ government!

In this critical moment, the bourgeois “democratic” illusions that certain left groups have spread are not admissible – such as the proposals for “General Elections” (PSTU/IWL; MES/Movimento; LSR/CWI) or for a “Constituent Assembly” (MRT/Left Voice/Trotskyist Fraction; Esquerda Marxista/IMT). It is simply not possible to make use of the bourgeois elections to transform society in the interests of working people. Neither a Constituent Assembly on a capitalist basis would be able to make the structural changes necessary for workers. The political perspective that should be defended by revolutionaries during the struggles against Temer’s attacks is that of a revolutionary worker’s government, in order to clearly differentiate themselves from the reactionary “anti-corruption” mobilizations, the utopian class-collaboration project of the PT and the illusions that the workers’ problems can be solved within the limits of capitalism.

Revolutionary Regroupment strives to build a revolutionary party that fight for the following demands:

No more lay-offs! For the reduction of working hours without loss of pay, allowing the return of laid-off workers and the creation of jobs for the unemployed. The capitalists are the ones who must pay for the crisis of their system!

Put a halt to the effects of growing inflation! We demand immediate raise of wages according to the rise of prices and also a minimum wage that meets the basic needs of the working family, currently calculated at R$ 3,725!

Down with the Outsourcing Bill! For the integration of outsourced workers to the regular staff of the companies to which they provide work, with full rights and wage equality! Against sexism and racism, fight for equal pay for equal work!

Down with the reform of Social Security and the cuts on the budget of social programs! Tax the big fortunes to fund social security, housing, transportation and education!

– No more oil auctions and the destruction of Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras! For the full re-nationalization of Petrobras and the expropriation without compensation and under workers’ control of the foreign oil companies!

Down with religious interference on women’s rights! For the legalization of abortion, with the guarantee of free and safe procedure by the public health system!

Down with the ‘super authority’ of the Judiciary! For the right of the people to elect the judges and other positions of responsibility! No more privileges for the corrupt political caste: that all elected members of parliament receive only the average wage of a worker!

Land for those who want to live and work on it! Expropriation of the land and estate of large capitalist owners for the benefit of the population!

Down with Rousseff’s Anti-terror Law! For the dissolution of the Military Police and other repressive forces! To protest is not a crime! For the right to self-defense! Drop all charges against those who fight the injustices of capitalism! Immediate freedom to Rafael Braga, homeless black worker imprisoned during the 2013 mass protests!

See also:

Statement on Brazil
Fight against the impeachment! Fight Dilma’s government and its austerity measures!
April 2016

Reformism vs. Reformism in the CPUSA

Reformism vs. Reformism in the CPUSA: Divorce in the Family

[First printed in 1917 West #1, Spring 1992]

The Communist Party USA appeared on the verge of splitting at its 25th national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, held in December 5-8 against the dismal background of counterrevolution in the Soviet Union. Actually, there were two conventions: the official one, held on the 6th floor of the Sheraton hotel under the bureaucratic control of Gus Hall (backed up by armed Cleveland police), and a counter-convention of the oppositional grouping calling itself the Initiative, many of whose members had been excluded from the official convention. The Initiative met across the street in Room 211 of the Cleveland Convention Center, under the leadership of prominent party members Charlene Mitchell, James Jackson, Carl Bloice, and Barry Cohen. Comrades of the International Bolshevik Tendency spent several days at the two conventions distributing our 1917 Supplement “Counterrevolution Triumphs in USSR” and arguing for a revolutionary Trotskyist alternative to the politics of both the majority and the minority

Not surprisingly, both factions have utterly failed to address the causes of the downfall of Soviet Stalinism. At a public forum in Cleveland on August 3, 1991, before the failed coup, chairman Gus Hall simply blamed the Soviet crisis on “Gorbachev’s errors.” When confronted by questions from the floor as to why the CPUSA lied and covered up for the bureaucracy and Stalin’s crimes, such as the execution or murder of virtually the entire Bolshevik leadership of 1917, Hall responded, “We’ve made mistakes, too.”

Speaking before a special meeting of the party’s National Committee on September 8, 1991, Hall elaborated:

“The system is not to blame. If one believes that the crisis of socialism is not systemic, in other words, not inherent in the socialist system itself, then you have to look for the cause of the crisis in human error.”

At the convention itself, he would repeat yet again that:

“The crisis of socialism is mainly caused by wrong, anti-socialist policies. The system itself is based on inherently humanitarian precepts.”

Hall had faced a rebellion in the National Committee, which at the September 8 meeting ended up condemning the failed Soviet coup:

“The National Committee states its strong condemnation of the attempted coup as adventuristic, unconstitutional and illegal…. We reject the formulation to ‘neither condemn nor condone’ the attempted coup, and deplore all public statements which give the impression of sympathy for the coup or its aims.”

That “impression of sympathy” had emanated from the lips of none other than Hall himself. The National Committee vote was thus a slap in the face for the Hall apparatus. But Hall’s cohorts backed away from support of the failed coup for other reasons as well. They were unable to maintain this stance because it would have totally alienated the liberal Democratic Party milieu.

For its part the Initiative grouping, despite its rebellion against Hall’s bureaucratic leadership, has responded to the crisis of Stalinism with nothing but vague social-democratic sentiments, and shows no signs of breaking with the CPUSA’s reformism. According to the October 21, 1991, “Initiative to Unite and Renew the Party” after which the grouping was named:

“The ability to make corrections, innovations and adjustments is the sign of a living movement. It is the hallmark of a party that is relevant and able to contribute to the further development of the movements for peace and international solidarity, labor rights, equality, political empowerment and democracy….

“While the 1992 election campaign is in full swing, we have not laid an adequate basis for our convention to adopt an electoral policy.”

This oppositional document, widely circulated within the party prior to the convention, was reportedly endorsed by over 900 party members, or roughly one third of the entire membership of the CPUSA. Of the roughly 600 delegates at the split convention, about a third supported the Initiative. Unfortunately, it would seem that outside of their organizational concerns, the main political problem for this grouping is deciding which 1992 Democratic Party presidential candidate to back.

The general mood of the delegates at the convention was one of disillusionment and disgust as they watched their party drift into irrelevance, and possibly out of existence in the near future. While the former Soviet Union was being declared dead by the counterrevolutionary nationalist regimes of the various republics, the delegates sat and listened to a three-and-a-half-hour speech by Gus Hall, in which he claimed that in the Leninist tradition:

“Factionalism and the development of organized trends in the Communist Party are incompatible with its democratic functioning. The institutionalization of factional trends by the application of such concepts as proportional representation and minority/majority positions in leadership runs contrary to the nature of the Party—it violates the basic organizational principle of collective process.”

This is Stalinism, not Leninism. All the way from its formation until 1921, factional rights were recognized and vigorously exercised in the Bolshevik party. The only condition was that factional groupings carry out the decisions of the majority if they lost a vote. The 1921 ban was implemented in a situation of crisis. Even in that situation it was intended only as a temporary, emergency measure. It is not in its proposals for democratic functioning and factional rights that the Initiative breaks with Lenin, but rather in the reformist politics it shares with Hall.

In counterpoint to Hall, Dr. Herbert Aptheker, a leader of the Initiative, revealed to the convention that:

”The main source of the collapse that Comrade Hall describes—not only in the USSR but in every party of Eastern Europe—lies not in socialism, but rather in the distortions and vitiation of the essential nature of the Party as conceived by Marx and Engels and Lenin into an organization eaten up by bureaucracy, tyranny authoritarianism, repression and finally human annihilation.”

“….the collapse, the present crisis of the world of socialism, rests fundamentally upon the Stalinization of Lenin’s party.”

The so-called crisis of socialism is indeed the crisis of Stalinism, not socialism. But for decades Dr. Aptheker, author of The Truth About Hungary, a pack of lies which whitewashed the brutal suppression of the Hungarian workers attempted political revolution of 1956, was a fervent supporter of Stalin’s every move. It is hardly credible when people like this suddenly “discover” that Stalinism is undemocratic. Moreover, Aptheker and the other Stalinist “critics” of Stalinism uniformly fail to go beyond this obvious truth. Stalinism destroyed every semblance of workers’ and party democracy for a reason: it was the only way to enforce betrayals of the working class on a generation of communists who knew a better way, that of Lenin and Trotsky, and were accustomed to fighting for it.

Using a variety of tried and true Stalinist tactics, Hall prevailed at the convention. According to people in the Initiative, those who signed the Initiative document (including 40 percent of the outgoing National Committee) were excluded from the elections. The new National Committee reportedly has no members of the leadership from New York and Northern California, the two largest locals in the country, which were heavily represented in the Initiative grouping. One delegate came out saying, “He’s acting like Ceausescu.”

The CPUSA has never had any qualms about calling the police on its leftist opponents, but this time Hall descended to a new low by using the cops against his own membership. Armed Cleveland police were used to keep out the numerous delegates sympathetic to the Initiative whose credentials had been rejected on various pretenses. There were police milling around the convention throughout the four days. One senior party member became so ill at the sight of the police in her convention that she refused to enter. Such sentiments are entirely legitimate, but Hall’s action was only a logical extension of longstanding CPUSA practices

NO SYMPATHY WHEN THE BITER GETS BIT

It is hard to feel too much sympathy for those in the Initiative grouping who profess outrage at Hall’s heavy-handed tactics and violations of workers’ democracy—now that they are on the receiving end. These people are up to their ears in complicity with use of the very same sort of tactics against others in the workers’ movement. As James Cannon, one-time CP leader and founder of American Trotskyism, once said, nobody cries when the biter gets bitten. To mention only a few recent and local examples: Bay Area CP honcho and Initiative supporter Kendra Alexander threatened to sic her goons on the Labor Militant group, who had setup a lit table in front of Finn Hall during the fall, 1991 Northern California CP convention. A CP goon “Franc” attacked one of our comrades at Chris Hani’s summer 1991 press conference at UC Berkeley. Another of our comrades was physically threatened outside an October 1991 forum featuring Initiative leader Carl Bloice.

What held the CPUSA together for so long? First of all, it was residual loyalty to the Soviet oligarchy and the illusion that this gave them some connection to “actually existing socialism.” Secondly, no matter how adverse the relationship of class forces in the US, they could always rely on the political and financial support of the Stalinist bureaucracies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Five thousand subscriptions to their paper in the Soviet Union, along with other perks that came with being the designated franchisee of the Soviet Stalinist bureaucracy, didn’t hurt. These benefits have been cut off. No more summer camps on the Black Sea, no more scholarships to the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, no anything! Part of what makes the current factional struggle so messy is the question of who will control the party’s accumulated assets: buildings, bookstores, etc. This is particularly true in Northern California, where the opposition is in the majority and some party property is held in the name of the regional organization rather than the national organization. Fundamentally, though, and regardless of the outcome of these disputes, with the demise of the Stalinist bureaucracies both factions will be forced to rely on the correctness or their programs and the quality of their leadership in the working class. In other words, they’re in serious trouble.

Since the mid-1920s, the CPUSA has supported and covered up for every crime of the Stalinist bureaucracy— not only crimes of repression, but gross betrayals of the working class. For the proletarian internationalism of Lenin and Trotsky, the Stalinists substituted “socialism in one country,” which rationalized the class-collaborationist selling out of revolutions around the globe in a futile effort to gain peaceful coexistence with imperialism. If these betrayals left any doubt, the internal collapse of the system they were supposed to protect, coupled with the tremendous damage to the class-consciousness of Soviet workers who have been taught to identify socialism with Stalinism, has completed the practical refutation of this reactionary theory. Trotsky explained over 50 years ago that the Stalinist bureaucracy, despite the fact that it was at times forced to defend collectivized property with its own authoritarian methods would, unless overthrown by the working class, become ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state and eventually plunge the country back toward capitalism. The bureaucracy, in following first Gorbachev and now succumbing to Yeltsin is proving him right.

Both the CPUSA majority and the Committees of Correspondence, as the opposition is now called, are tied to their Stalinist past, and they both support the capitalist Democratic Party. At both conventions, many delegates wore Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign T-shirts. Both factions continue to wallow in the Democratic Party swamp. Both have publicly announced, for instance, their intention to participate in the Mayor’s March on Washington.

There is an alternative to all of this. Stalinism has reached a dead end, but Leninism lives on. The revolutionary tradition of Bolshevism was maintained by Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition. Trotskyists gave their lives resisting the Stalinist perversion of Leninism, yet remained implacable defenders of the gains of 1917. Though many pretenders to the name of Trotskyism today have abandoned or blunted key aspects of the Leninist/Trotskyist program, the International Bolshevik Tendency carries on the politics that made the October Revolution.

Statement on Brazil

Statement on Brazil

Fight the Impeachment! Fight Dilma’s government and its austerity measures!

Originally published in Portuguese in April 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 reagrupamento.revolucionario@gmail.com Thank you!

The following statement was originally published in Portuguese on April 11th, as an abridged version of a broader article published on March 23rd. It was written before President Dilma Rousseff (PT) was temporarily removed from office on May 12th (she will still be judged by the Senate and the Supreme Court). On June 1st we published a second statement on the tasks faced by the working class regarding the interim government of Vice President Michel Temer (PMDB) and the attacks he has been launching against labor rights, public services and social programs with the aid of the former right wing oppositional parties (PSDB, DEM and others). It summarizes our position to fight Temer’s government, with no support to the PT or its satellites.

Dilma deserves to be judged for her crimes against the working class, such as her attacks on labor rights, her complicity with the repression against the workers’ movement, the handing over of the country’s natural resources to imperialism etc. The same is true about former President Lula. But that can only be achieved through working class struggle to stop and revert government attacks. This Impeachment process is a maneuver of the right-wing oppositional parties PSDB and DEM, as well as sectors of the PMDB (the Vice President’s party) to gain full control over the Executive office. They want to profit from Dilma and the PT government’s complete demoralization and crisis. If Dilma is removed by them, this will not be beneficial to the working class and wouldn’t change the succession of attacks unleashed against us. On the contrary, the attacks would be intensified. Revolutionary Regroupment says NO to this Impeachment, not due to sympathy towards the PT, but for considering that this process is a smoke screen created by the right-wing opposition in order to benefit from the enormous popular dissatisfaction with Dilma’s government, which is to a great extent a product of the attacks the government has conducted against the population, attacks which the proponents of the Impeachment want to deepen.

For a workers united front against the austerity measures!

The central task for the working class in the current situation is the creation of a workers’ united front independently from both the right-wing opposition and Dilma’s government, capable of uniting several ongoing struggles around the following axis: Fight Dilma’s “austerity” measures! No cuts to public health and education! No removal of labor rights and no lay-offs! Down with the “Anti-terror” Law, which is an attempt to criminalize the workers’ movement and the left! The bosses must pay for their crisis! Fight the right-wing opposition and its Impeachment maneuver! Such a united front would mean working class mass action. The left groups and parties that want to take part in it would have complete freedom to express their ideas and criticize each others’ political views.

Enough of blocs with government forces!

Many groups on the left, including most internal currents of the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party), such as USec‘s “Insurgência” and the CWI section (LSR), as well as the Stalinist PCR are taking part in political blocs dominated by pro-government forces, such as the “Fearless People‘s Front”. While claiming to be “For democracy” and against the Impeachment, those blocs include the PT, the PCdoB and the bureaucratic leaders of CUT, CTB and UNE (the trade union federations and the national students’ organization that support Dilma’s government). They are an obstacle for the creation of an effective united front dedicated to organizing and strengthening the resistance against Dilma and the rest of the bourgeoisie’s austerity. On several occasions, the “Fearless People‘s Front” puts aside any critique of the government and adapts itself to the position of the government forces, such as the PT-led “Popular Brazil Front”. At this crucial moment, the last thing the workers need is to be tied to the pro-government forces. We call upon all the militant ranks of these mass organizations to break from such blocs of class collaboration and fight for workers’ unity in opposition to all bourgeois forces.

The error of the “Oust Dilma, oust them all!” slogan

Ideally, we are for “ousting them all”, in the sense that we want to remove all the representatives of the bourgeoisie from power. But to raise such slogan in the current situation, in which the only concrete possibility of “ousting Dilma” is the consolidation of a right-wing PMDB-PSDB government, won’t help workers’ interests. To raise such a demand shows indifference towards its concrete results. It of course would be completely different if instead the threat against Dilma came from the working class. The “Oust Dilma, oust them all!” slogan, raised by the Morenoite PSTU (LIT-CI), by the also Morenoite CST (PSOL internal tendency and section of UIT), as well as by some Anarchist groups does not prioritize defeating Dilma’s attacks through the mobilization of the working class, but instead emphasize removing her from power in a moment when the working class won’t be able to do it – only the right-wing opposition will. Such position derives from the false logic that Dilma’s fall, independently on how it occurs, would give room to a “weaker” government, meaning some kind of victory to the working class. We do not wish to help the right-wing opposition, which is growing stronger and stronger. Dilma’s fall by the hands of the right-wing opposition would only give place to a government that would attack us even harder.

No to “general elections” – What we need is a revolutionary workers government!

We also reject demands for new “general elections”, which many groups on the left such as the PSTU (LIT-CI) and the MES (PSOL internal tendency and section of Movimento) have been raising. From the point of view of the workers’ interests, bourgeois elections are a dead-end. As a rule, the bourgeoisie only massively invests in and supports those campaigns that are willing to defend its class interests. The workers don’t have a say on matters that really affect their lives: how their workplace should be managed, who should pay for the economic crisis, should labor rights be removed etc. Bourgeois elections are merely a “chance” that the population has to choose their executioners. During periods of low ebb, it is possible to use the elections as a platform to denounce capitalism. But it is not acceptable to rise the demand for “general elections” at the current moment, when what is required is a relentless struggle against the austerity measures. Sometimes those groups say that the elections they fight for would be different – “controlled by the workers” or some variant of that. But it doesn’t change their confusion. If the working class had enough power to enforce “elections” of this kind on the ruling class, then we could as well build our own government. The MRT (Trotskyist Fraction – Left Voice network) slogan for a “Constituent Assembly convened by the workers” suffers from the same problem. The agitation that needs to be done is for a revolutionary workers‘ government which can meet our social and democratic interests. Although it is not possible to implement such government immediately, we must patiently explain its necessity while fighting to build a broad united front of struggle. Revolutionary Regroupment strives to build a revolutionary party that fight for the following demands:

  • No more lay-offs! We must demand the reduction of working hours without loss of pay, allowing the return of laid-off workers and the creation of jobs for the unemployed. The capitalists are the ones who must pay for the crisis of their system!

  • Open the files to reveal the fortune that the big capitalists and bankers continue to make while the cost of the crisis is thrown at us!

  • To halt the effects of growing inflation we demand immediate raise of wages according to the rise of prices and also a minimum wage that meets the basic needs of the working family, currently calculated at R$ 3,725!

  • Down with the Outsourcing Bill! For the integration of outsourced workers to the regular staff of the companies to which they provide work, with full rights and wage equality! To fight sexism and racism we demand “Equal pay for equal work”!

  • Down with Dilma’s reform of Social Security, which plans to increase working time and reduce the payments!

  • No more oil auctions to international companies! Stop the sap of Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras! We demand the full re-nationalization of Petrobras and the expropriation without compensation of the foreign oil companies under workers’ control!

  • Down with the “Anti-terror” Law, which is meant to be used against social movements! For the dissolution of the Military Police and other repressive forces! For the right to demonstrate, a democratic right increasingly curbed by capitalist governments! Drop all charges against those who fight the injustices of capitalism!

  • Down with churches’ interference with women’s rights! For the legalization of abortion and the guarantee of free and safe procedure by the public health system!

  • Down with the super authority of Judge Sergio Moro and the Judiciary! For the right of the people to elect the judges and other positions of responsibility! No more privileges for the corrupt political caste: that all elected members of parliament receive only the average wage of a worker!

  • Land for those who want to live and work in it! Expropriation of the land and estate of large capitalist owners for the benefit of the population!


See also:

Brazil: down with the coup government!
Fight  Temer’s attacks, no support for the PT or its satellities!
June 2016