The CRFI and the fight for the Revolutionary International
1. Our party’s efforts to set up a workers’ revolutionary International adopted, from the 90’s on, the form of the Movement for the Refoundation of the IV International, which by 2004 would lead to the constitution of the CRFI. Our method was to fight for the immediate refoundation of the IV International based on a program and political delimitations as a concrete response to the situation and the historical challenges ahead, in opposition to the method claimed by various Trotskyist forces of focusing on the trace of the infinite threads that differentiate the organizations ‘ideologically’. This Movement set its constitutive foundations and a strategic delimitation in the meeting held in Genoa in 1997, which reclaimed the validity of the struggle for the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rejection of the fronts that imply collaboration within classes, the need to fight for social and political revolutions in the countries where capital had been expropriated, and the demand for crafting an anti-capitalist strategy based in the method of transitional claims. These political and programmatic foundations established, at the same time, a strategic delimitation from the Unified Secretariat that, having proclaimed itself as the historical continuation of the IV International, had been established more than 30 years before as an appendix of the bourgeois democracy, with their claim for ‘Socialist Democracy’, their turn to movementism and their stance for the replacement of the proletariat for the petite bourgeoisie as the revolutionary subject. In Genoa, it was established that the fight for the refoundation of the VI International raised the political defeat of the SU, in view of its counterrevolutionary character.
The founding congress of the CRFI approved its Programmatic Theses and a Statute, together with various kinds of political resolutions. The CRFI program has had the merit of devising characterizations and forecasts that are fundamental to achieve a regrouping aimed at setting up a workers’ revolutionary International. The method of set the trend of Capital to its self-dissolution as the starting point was proved to be the right one to foresee the catastrophic development of world capitalism, as confirmed by the entire economic, social and political course after the outbreak of the 2007/08 crisis. The economic-social and geographic expansion of capitalist domination, with the progress of restorationist processes in the former degenerated workers’ states, led to the political demoralization of a significant part of the left, which have deepened its opportunistic actions within the framework of the regime, in some cases more openly and more slyly in others. The formulated characterization in the theses of 2004 -that the processes of capitalist restoration in the former degenerated workers’ states, far from offering a long way of development and stability for capital posed, on the contrary, a sharpening of all the previous antagonisms- has been confirmed by military wars, commercial and monetary developments on an international scale and by the emergence and development of popular uprisings. This characterization, with all its political and strategic implications, represented a dividing line between the revolutionary left on one side and the democratizing left on the other.
The CRFI statutes, for their part, not only ratified the political and programmatic principles drafted in Genoa, but also established that the CRFI adopted, to operate, the method of democratic centralism, the rigorous publishing of the Parties’ journals in charge of each national section and the financial support of the organization. In this way, the statutes of the CRFI, in opposition to the setting up of new ‘arguing pools’, the organizational ‘federalism’ and propagandism, defended the construction of a militant organization, and established the organizing principles of a workers’ revolutionary International, standing as the workers’ world party.
Our reclaim of the CRFI represents, first of all, the reclaim of a program and a political and organizational method of revolutionary construction.
2. The voting of a program and of the statutes of the CRFI, however, did not ensure the functioning of the organization nor a correct political orientation of the member parties in the face of the political situations of their countries to make their way into the conquest of broad sectors of the vanguard and political influence on the masses. The voted guidelines quickly came into contradiction with the politics and maturity of the forces included in the CRFI. Thus, for example, only during the first three years there was an international correspondence maintained with international internal bulletins and the publishing of a common publication was completed: ‘El obrero internacional’ (The International Worker). This, however, was only edited and printed by the Partido Obrero of Argentina (PO). The popular rebellions and the major realignments and political turns that took place as a result of the development of the capitalist crisis, tested the consistency of the CRFI organizations. The distancing of some organizations was the reaction of a political evolution antagonistic to that established in the 2004 program. Thus, the refusal of Brazil’s Causa Operaria to financially support the CRFI was the screen of its involution to a political disintegration behind the popular front led by the PT of Lula. In other cases, a marked propaganda inclination was evident, opposed to the construction of combat parties. This inclination was accompanied by decisive obstacles to the development of a common militancy and the implementation of democratic centralism.
Propaganda and sectarian tendencies manifested themselves early within the CRFI. The abstentionism of the group Oposición Trotskyista (after Bacherer’s death), in the Bolivian elections of 2005 spearheaded its evolution to complete political marginality and its subsequent dissolution as an organization. In contrast to this orientation, the CRFI defined itself by voting for Evo Morales against the candidate of imperialism, although without giving any political support to indigenous nationalism. The CRFI thus showed the plasticity that a political intervention firmly anchored in the fourth‑internationalist principles can have, seeking to connect with a political turn of the masses.
The drift of this process led the CRFI to find itself, at the time of the outbreak of the international capitalist bankruptcy of 2008 –which had been clearly foreseen and characterized by our current-, in a paralysis. Was the outbreak of the world capitalist crisis going to provoke a political and organizational revitalization of the CRFI? Our party, in 2010 and 2012, promoted two Latin American Conferences, supported by their growing political development, enhanced for the enormous fight waged in the face of the murder of our comrade Mariano Ferreyra and in the political and electoral rise of the Left Front from the 2011. Later, in 2016 and 2018, we promoted two new Conferences. But none of the participating organizations could meet the basic requirement established in the statutes of the CRFI and ratified in the Conferences themselves: the regular publishing of party journals. The POR of Chile ended in a political and organizational dissolution, and Opción Obrera of Venezuela, which never kept more than a parasitic survival, evolved into Chavists positions. The lack of a periodic press on the part of the PT of Uruguay -that is, the elaboration of a methodical and systematic delimitation from the popular front- made it unable of grasping, to the extent possible, part of the decline of the front Frente Amplio of Uruguay in the past elections.
On the contrary, the PT of Uruguay suffered an electoral setback at extreme marginality rates (0.06%). Regarding the question above, the correct answer is that capitalist crises, even when they have the planetary dimension of the one that started in 2008, are not sufficient to revitalize and promote revolutionary forces, if they do not establish an adequate political orientation, program, slogans and methods that account of the objective and subjective conditions of the situation that they must face, with the exclusive purpose of building combat parties that seek to decisively influence the proletariat. When this does not happen, capitalist crises aggravate dissolving and paralyzing tendencies, because they reveal the organizations’ inability to open a path for themselves among the masses.
This was evident in the fight for a reactivation of the CRFI in Europe, where the political turns derived from the capitalist crisis were being processed rapidly, and the efforts repeatedly collided with the paralyzing tendencies of some of its groups. On four occasions a joint effort to convene European Conferences failed. The completely parasitic nature of the PCL of Italy was revealed, unable to pass on the initiative, to release a press of their own or to bring any European organizations closer to our current. This manifested again at the International Meeting of Alternative Unionism held in Paris, convened by Solidaire of France and Conlutas of Brazil, where the PCL concurred not as part of the CRFI, but dissolved in a ‘Committee to Fight Debt Payment’. Further back, the North American group of Peter Jhonson, who like the PCL came from the ITO, had expressed similar characteristics.
At the same time, the lessons of the Bolivian process were not collected by the EEK of Greece at the critical moment of a political turn in that country produced by its collapse under the capitalist crisis. In the European country where all the consequences of capitalist bankruptcy most thoroughly developed, with the bankruptcy of the state itself, the outbreak of successive popular rebellions, the carrying out of more than 30 general strikes, the rise to government of the so-called ‘radical left’, under the slogan ‘for a government of the left’ and, subsequently, its capitulation against the troika’s austerity plans, the EEK never exceeded its political and organizational marginality.
While the PCL proposed an entry of the EEK to Syriza, the PO proposed to intervene with the slogan ‘For a government of the left and the workers’ in order to break through the crisis of the regime parties and place a workers’ solution in the face of the rise of the center-leftist Tsipras. The controversy started by our party regarding the tactic to be followed in the Greek crisis was not picked up by the EEK, nor addressed within the CRFI. More worrying still, is that the EEK leadership never bothered to present a serious balance of this political failure, limiting itself to develop generic positions on the general tendencies of the capital crisis. But a proletarian force must seize the opportunity provided by these crises to gain further influence on the workers, to recruit the vanguard and transform it into socialist leaders. The opposite is to be reduced to a powerless propaganda sect. The lack of a balance of this failure aggravates the situation, because it shows that the construction of a combat party was abandoned even as a goal, which is certainly the initial step for its real materialization. Limiting the balance analyses exclusively to the verification of whether this or that forecast was verified or not embodies a wrong method, because it deliberately ignores the results of the political steps that were followed, which contain multiple elements, including the political and even physical disposition of a leadership to conquer real positions in the masses of their respective countries. Moving away from quackery should be taken as an inviolable principle for those who claim the fight for the reconstruction of the IV International. A similar conduct has characterized the Uruguayan group. According to their website, during the decisive year 2019, in which events as decisive as the defeat of the Frente Amplio occurred, they published only two issues of their press. Regarding the national strike of the PIT CNT in mid‑2019, they did not even draw a balance, breaching the elementary duty of a party that claims to be of the workers. Aren’t all these expressions of a very deep political sinking, that want to be covered up with mechanistic positions on the world crisis? The opportunities offered by capitalist bankruptcy can only be exploited if the revolutionary program can be translated into concrete politics that connects with the most basic aspirations of the masses and the changes in the political situation.
3. In order to overcome the CRFI paralysis, it was commonly agreed to take ‘one step back’ in the operation of the CRFI. To resume a work of coordination with the aim of creating the conditions to convene a new International Congress and effectively launch the CRFI. For this purpose, the 2018 International Conference was held in Buenos Aires, the magazine ‘World Revolution’ was published and the Istanbul Meeting was held, where a roadmap was voted (the continuity of the world magazine, the documents to be debated, the update of the programmatic bases voted in 2004, the revision of the statute, etc.) so that before the end of 2019, a Congress would be held by the organizations that claimed to be part of the CRFI. This step back did not imply a renunciation of the original purposes set at the time of the founding of the CRFI, but was rather a recognition of the existing situation, on which the aforementioned measures were approved to attempt a relaunch of work.
But this militant road map was broken by Altamira’s action aimed not only against the PO, but also against the CRFI. The attempt to overcome Altamira’s breakout action by convening the ‘armistice’ meeting in Athens was sabotaged and rejected by this faction. Since then, Altamira’s rupture action has increased, moving from the national to the international level, where it has become a world trend. The PO’s attempts to resume common action of the CRFI organizations were rejected and ignored. At this point, the paralysis of the CRFI became total. And it has resulted in a ‘feudalization’ of internationalist activity, which is contrary to proletarian internationalism.
4. This involution shows that the rupture of Altamira and his group with the PO represented a qualitative leap from the crisis that the CRFI was dragging. Even though for several years we had kept an agreement among the CRFI parties that the CRFI, as established by its statutes, had ceased to exist, it is clear that we were still united by its founding program and the intention to reinvigorate it as a militant organization in terms of democratic centralism. As we pointed out in our document released in response to the self-proclamation of the Turkish DIP as the International Communist Tendency of the CRFI, which appears in BI Nº1, ‘the separation of the PCL of Italy, opened the possibility to try to rearm the activity of the CRFI (Conference of Buenos Aires in March 2018, Istanbul Meeting in February 2019, etc.). But Altamira’s break with the PO once again plunged coordination into the paralysis of CRFI organizations. Since the 26th PO Congress, it has not been possible to resume the least organized international activity of intervention in the class struggle’. The inability of the EEK of Greece and the PT of Uruguay to condemn Altamira’s violation of democratic centralism and ignorance of the XXVI PO Congress is equivalent to a break with one of the elementary foundations of our international organization: the construction of combat parties in all countries, as sections of the CRFI based in democratic centralism.
To a large extent, the position adopted by some of the CRFI parties against the crisis unleashed within the PO, ignoring the XXVI Congress and positioning themselves in support of the Altamira group, confirms the propaganda and sectarian trends that nest in these parties. It is precisely what characterizes the rupture group: its involution to propagandism -the formulation of slogans without considering the concrete stage of the struggle and the consciousness of the workers’ vanguard and of the masses-, and sectarianism -the rejection of the united front and the placement of the group’s interests above the general interests of the class. Although in this case we are analyzing, there is an additional fact, which by the way has been present in several Trotskyist groups that degenerated into sects or simply disappeared over the years. We are referring to the cult of personality to its founder or leader. The Altamira flatterers defined him without blushing as the ‘program man’, and later affirmed that the ‘party is the program’, which consequently, applying Aristotelian logic, leads us to the assertion that the party is Altamira. This flattery or cult of personality was one of the classic features of the degeneration of Trotskyist groups. The more general law showed that flattery to the leader was indirectly proportional to the importance of the group. That is to say, the smaller the group, the more infallible was its leader. As we pointed out in our article ‘The historical continuity of the Partido Obrero’, our party was lucky to see such a degeneration in the Bolivian POR, which allowed us to generate the necessary antibodies to prevent a similar experience from happening again. The end of the POR of Bolivia and the Altamira group have many features in common: propaganda impotence, the cult of personality, the defense of a party regime based on personal decisions, and finally a political collapse that abandons the development of true political combat parties. This collapse expresses the impotence to fight against bourgeois nationalism, to which, in one way or another, they end up adapting.
The leader of the EEK, Savas Matsas, raised all of the arguments made by Altamira as if they were his own, going so far as to speak of ‘the electoral ambitions of the PO’s leadership’ -a provocative insult that ignores our achieved construction within the workers’ organizations, the piquetero movement or the very memory of our martyrs like Mariano Ferreyra. At the same time, the revolutionary character of the electoral campaign carried out is disregarded. Undoubtedly, it was the most radicalized since the founding of the Left Front and which had a street closure in front of the Chilean Embassy, at the beginning of the popular rebellion in that country, which was boycotted by the Altamira rupturist group. Savas Matsas disregards Altamira’s stance of intervening with the slogan ‘Out with Macri’ at a moment when a replacement of the Argentine bourgeoisie was in full development, as the bankrupt government of Macri resulted in the rise of a Peronist government that today agrees to apply policies against the masses with the IMF of Kristalina Georgieva. The group of Altamira publicly attacked the Left Front FIT-U, objectively positioning itself as a collateral force for the return to power of bourgeois nationalism in Argentina. The EEK boycotted the international campaign to support the FIT-U lists in the Argentine elections and the PT of Uruguay did the same. The latter, dominated by drift towards sect behavior, blocked the holding of a Latin American Conference in July 2019, which had been agreed with the LPS of Brazil and planned by the 3rd Latin American Conference and ratified by the XXVI Congress of the PO. Enthusiasts for the ‘strategic initiative of the left’ deprived the Latin American vanguard of arming themselves politically and programmatically, through a process of debate, mobilization and regrouping around a Latin American Conference, to intervene in the great rebellions and popular resistance that took place last year. Similarly, they have now launched a crusade against our party’s initiative towards a Continental Conference of the Left and the Workers’ Movement. The PT of Uruguay prioritizes its alignment with the Altamira group over the need to reinforce a pole of the revolutionary left and the workers on a continental scale.
A contrast with the attitude of the EEK and the PT of Uruguay was marked by the DIP, which recognized the leadership elected by the XXVI Congress of the PO, condemned the breakdown of democratic centralism, sent his solidarity with the leaders of our party persecuted by the state and mounted a campaign to gather the support of numerous organizations for the FIT-U lists. With the DIP, however, there are important political debates. This party has reported possible self-isolation positions in the face of the emergency of mass movements that have developed in the last period on a world scale such as the women’ struggle movement, the sexual diversity movement, or the one for the defense of the environment. This has been stated by them, but we only know their concrete political approach in this regard in a fragmentary form. They would be ignoring that ‘the IV International claims the need to occupy a prominent place in all the struggles caused by social or national oppression and alongside all the classes, groups or nationalities that suffer oppression or arbitrariness’. And that ‘only participating in the struggles against all, and absolutely all, forms of oppression can a workers’ vanguard claim its place in the combative ranks of the international industrial proletariat’ (Thesis 2004). In turn, the proposal of the DIP to ‘refound the Third International with the program of the Fourth’ reflects, at least, an eclectic position and raises the need to advance in a political clarification.
5. In the fight for the reconstruction of the Fourth International, the PO is the promoter of initiatives that allow a regrouping of the forces of the working-class and socialist left, based on political and programmatic definitions in the field of class independence and common action plans.
Our drive to carry out a Latin American Conference called by the FIT-U responds to an objective and subjective need and therefore offers an enormous opportunity, since it raises the question of expanding the radius of influence among the workers and socialist left of Argentina, which for nine years has been the supporter, with contradictions, of a class independent bloc, not only from the ‘neoliberal’ right of Macrism but especially from the bourgeois nationalism embodied in Kirchnerism. The initiative is about the strengthening of the revolutionary current, relying -in a troubled Latin America- on the projection of the FIT-U strategy on a continental scale. This would imply the projection of the method of aiming to the political independence of the workers, establishing the proposal to construct a ‘third bloc’, differentiated from the openly pro-imperialist right, actualized today in the Lima Group, as well as from the bourgeois nationalism and the popular-front tendencies, of the Puebla Group.
The consummation of this initiative amplifies the field of action and enhances the fight for a consequently revolutionary international regrouping. This must necessarily be done on the basis of a delimitation with our own FIT-U allies. They have a tendency to get carried away and to align themselves with initiatives and policies of the reaction or of falling behind nationalist or center-left variants. In Venezuela, FIT-U parties have oscillated between a dissolution behind Chavismo (Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores, MST) and a flirting with the political field that is hegemonized by the imperialist offensive (Izquierda Socialista, IS). In Bolivia, the sister organization of IS, in a first phase, joined the popular coupist ‘insurrection’. Then, due to the intervention of IS within the framework of its international organization (ITU-CI), they rectified their position. To a certain extent, it was a repetition of what happened in Argentina with the conflict between the K government and the agrarian employers: in a first phase they supported the agrarian sector and then ‘rectified’ their stance (the MST maintained it to the end, which caused the party to sink itself and to be kept out from the constitution of the FIT years later). In Brazil, the currents of the Partido de los Traajadores Socialistas (PTS), the MST and IS are tributary to the PSOL, an electoralist ‘collector’ of the PT of Brazil. That is to say, they dissolve -opportunistically- in the electoral movement. The clarification of the revolutionary politics delimitated from the centrist or opportunist tendencies, within the framework of the Latin American Conference called by the FIT-U, will be a fundamental factor for the progress of a revolutionary international regrouping.
6. The defense of the CRFI perspective proposes that its organizations defend the principles of democratic centralism and the fight to build true combat parties that take root in the working class and the exploited in each country. The defense of these principles leads inexorably to recognize the XXVI Congress of the PO, condemning unceremoniously the rupturism of Altamira and his group. In other words: the condemnation of Altamira’s factional rupture is equivalent to the defense of the revolutionary party’s own historical method and, therefore, the defense of the constituent bases of the CRFI.
In defending the legitimacy of the XXVI Congress of the PO, we not only defend the PO, but especially, the historical continuity and validity of the CRFI. This is elementary.
In the struggle for the construction of the workers’ revolutionary International, it is necessary to fight against the tendencies to mere propagandism and sectarianism, and openly repudiate factional ruptures as they are opposite to the construction of combat parties. The fight for the refoundation of the Fourth International has an unavoidable starting point in the CRFI’s program and statutes.