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THE WORLD ECONOMIC-

POLITICAL CRISIS
AND THE DEATH AGONY
OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
Draft Resolution on the
Perspectives and Tasks
of the Workers League

Su bm itted b y th e Political C o m m itte e o f th e W orkers League .


N o ve m b e r 7 ,1 9 7 8 T ■
©Copyright November, 1978 by Labor Publications, Inc.
Amended in June, 1979

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Published by Labor Publications, Inc.


P.O. Box 1876, New York, New York 10001

@ World Socialist Website: www.wsws.org


Table of Contents
PART I
THE DEATH AGONY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM .......................................................................1
World Economic Crisis ..................................................................................................................... 6
Bretton Woods .................................................................................................................................... 6
The Monetary Crisis ........................................................................................................................... 8
U.S. Crisis ............................................................................................................................................9
The Banks ..........................................................................................................................................10
Europe and America ..........................................................................................................................12

The Rise and Fall of the Dollar Republic................................................................................... 14


The Development of U.S. Capitalism .............................................................................................15
The Emergence of the Working Class .............................................................................................17

Historical Background and Political Significance


of the Fight for the Labor Party ............................................................................................... 19
Trotsky’s Contribution ......................................................................................................................20
Cannon’s “American Theses” ........................................................................................................... 22
The Labor Party and the Strategy for Power ................................................................................23

The Combined Counter-Revolutionary Role


of Stalinism and Revisionism in the United States .............................................................25

PART II
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE AND
THE STRUGGLE FOR TROTSKYISM ............................................................................... 30
The Fight Against Pabloism and the Founding of the
International Committee ............................................................................................................. 30

The Building of the Workers League ........................................................................................... 32


The Young Socialists ....................................................................................................................... 35
The Historical Continuity of Trotskyism as the Basis
of Cadre Training and the Struggle Against Pragmatism ................................................ 36

Security and the Fourth International ......................................................................................... 38

The Assassination of Tom Henehan ............................................................................................. 40

PART III
TASKS OF THE WORKERS LEAGUE ...................................................................................42

Program ............................................................................................................................................... 42

For the United Socialist States of


North, Central and South Am erica!......................................................................................... 44
Latin America ......................................................................................................................... . 45
Puerto Rico ........................................................................................................................................47
Canada ............................................................................................................................................... 47
Full Support to National Liberation Struggles! .......................................................................49

For the Unconditional Defense of the Soviet Union!


For the Political Revolution Against the Stalinist Bureaucracy! ........................................ 50

For the Rehabilitation of Trotsky and


All Victims of the Moscow Trials! ...............................................................................................53

The Struggle Against Imperialist W ar......................................................................................... 53

Against Individual Terrorism......................................................................................................... 54

For the United Socialist States of Europe!


Forward with the Euro Marches! ................................................................................................. 55

Study the Works of Marx, Engels, Lenin


and Trotsky!................................................................................................................................... 55

Forward to the Daily Revolutionary Newspaper! .....................................................................56


PARTI
THE DEATH AGONY
OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
The world capitalist system stands on the “It would be nice for us if they (the Palestine Liberation
Organization) would just go away,” he let slip the secret of
brink of the greatest economic and political the crisis of world, and, in particular, U.S. imperialism.
catastrophe in its history. During the seven Standing in the way of all “solutions” proposed by the
years since the collapse of the Bretton ruling class to deal with the crisis is the strength of the
Woods Agreements, the international bour­ international working class and the oppressed masses. The
geoisie has exhausted virtually all its finan­ economic crisis is the essential driving force of the world
revolution. But in the interaction between economics and
cial resources as well as the credit mecha­ politics, the struggles of the masses against imperialism
nisms upon which it has relied since August intensifies the economic crisis and is transformed into its
15, 1971 to stave off economic disaster. essential driving force.
At the Bonn economic summit of July 1978, the Carter’s denunciation of the PLO is imperialism’s wail of
despair. It desperately wants what it cannot have: an
leaders of world capitalism made no pretense of being
opportunity to work out its economic crisis without the
able to offer a palliative, let alone a cure, for the rag­ interference of politics, and, moreover, a chance to resolve
ing economic crisis. Global slump, mass unemploy­ its political dilemmas without the intervention of the
ment, uncontrolled inflation, deepening trade war­ masses. But, as we have already stated, the world crisis
fare and the breakdown of the international mone­ proceeds through the interaction of the economic and the
tary system were tacitly acknowledged as the un­ political.*The political arises out of the economic, but the
alterable facts of economic life. economic foundation is itself interpenetrated by the politi­
The aftermath of the Bonn summit has provided its own cal events for which it originally provided the impulse.
indisputable justification for the pessimism of the partici­ Thus, in analyzing this world crisis we are continuously
pants. In the three months since the July summit, the price examining a dialectical process arising from the interpene­
of gold climbed nearly 20 percent to beyond the $240 mark. tration, causal connections and reciprocal interaction of
And the US dollar, the official symbol of value, has crashed the economic and political.
through one “psychological barrier” after another. The The greatest historical product of the interaction of the
world crisis proceeds in accordance with the laws dis­ economic and the political in the development of the world
covered by Marx, not Freud. crisis of capitalism is the Iranian Revolution. U.S.
It is now clear that the product of the Bretton Woods imperialism has, in the fall of the Shah, suffered a defeat of
Agreements of 1944 was not the “planned,” “managed” incalculable dimensions. A key strategic base, which for
and “organized” capitalism as claimed ad nauseum by more than a quarter-century served as the linch-pin of
Keynesian economists and revisionists, but rather a finan­ imperialist policy in the Middle East, has been liberated
cial Frankenstein now totally out of control. through the armed insurrection of the masses led by the
World capitalism, despite all the subjective wishes of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The U.S. ruling class has not just
ruling class, cannot be regulated. The objective laws of suffered a defeat in Iran. Its entire world position has been
capitalist development, which presently dictate the vio­ shattered, and this has already produced a decisive change
lent knd anarchic “leveling off’ of the productive forces, in the class struggle within the United States. This must be
override all the subjective intentions of the ruling class. understood above all: the overthrow of the Shah —
The essence of this crisis is the fundamental conflict be­ consummated in the February 9-11 insurrection against the
tween the productive forces and the social relations of capi­ puppet Bakhtiar — has irreversibly altered the entire face
talism, between the world market created through the of the globe. We salute with heartfelt joy and admiration
international division of labor and the confines of the bour­ the mighty victory of the Iranian masses; but the real
geois nation state. The measure of this crisis cannot be significance of the Iranian Revolution will be missed unless
taken simply in terms of the daily changes in the economic its essential historical impulse is traced all the way back
indicators. The highest expression of the working out of the into the development of the world economic and political
contradiction between the productive forces and social crisis of capitalism. In studying the development of the
relations is precisely the gigantic dimensions of the growth Iranian Revolution, we reveal the operation of the universal
of the world revolution. laws of the world capitalist crisis within the particular.
When Jimmy Carter stated, just a few days after the con­ The main component parts of the world socialist revolu­
clusion of the Camp David summit on the Middle East that tion are the powerful national revolutionary liberation
2

movements being waged throughout Africa, the Middle pressure against the anti-imperialist nationalist regime in
East and Asia and the struggles of the working class in the Iraq led by the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party. Iran occupied a
major capitalist countries. “In their successful inter­ position of supreme economic importance as the second
action,” wrote Trotsky in 1940, “lies the key to the entire largest oil exporting nation in the world. This position was
strategy of the world socialist revolution.” further enhanced by the fact that Iran exerted military
The imperialism which confronts this combined on­ control over the key shipping route through the Strait of
slaught today has been desperately weakened by the his­ Hormuz, through which the vast bulk of Middle Eastern oil
toric triumph of the 1917 October Revolution which esta­ passes once loaded on the super tankers. At the same time,
blished the Soviet Union as the first workers’ state, the not only did the Shah assume responsibility for the policing
overthrow of capitalism in China in 1949 and in the victory of the Persian Gulf region — explicitly defending the Saudi
of the national liberation struggles in Vietnam, Laos and Arabian royal family from revolutionary dangers — he also
Cambodia in 1975. Despite the totally counter-revolu- supplied the Zionists with oil, their only source in the
tionary policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy, the U.S.S.R. Middle East. Of not inconsiderable importance was the
remains a workers’ state and an immensely powerful strategic position of Iran on the southern border of the
acquisition of the international working class in its struggle USSR. All this has been swept away by the Iranian
against imperialism. Revolution.
The historical implications of the national revolutionary In turn, the victory of the Iranian masses strengthens the
liberation struggles must be grasped. Imperialist domina­ African Revolution — and here the strategic interest of the
tion over the working class in Europe and the United States U.S. ruling class is no less threatened than in Iran. It is
depended, in the final analysis, on the resources it drew from the region bordered by Zimbabwe, Zaire and Angola
from the bestial exploitation of the masses subjected to that the United States imports four essential metals:
colonial rule. For the U.S., the ruthless economic subju­ chromite, platinum, manganese and vanadium. It is in the
gation of Latin America to the dictates of Wall Street pro­ Shaba province — the scene of a recent insurrection
vided the necessary foundation for the transformation of against the imperialist puppet Mobutu — that yet a fifth
the Yankee tycoons into the financial oligarchs of the strategic substance is mined, copper. And in all these
world. areas, revolution is pounding at imperialism’s back door.
For all its vast military power and the incalculable
The struggle against imperialist oppresssion has wealth derived from the inexhaustible abundance of the
acquired unprecedented dimensions. Throughout Southern North American continent (not to speak of the riches it has
Africa, the liberation forces are building up for the final plundered from the rest of the world!), the U.S. ruling class
assault on the fascist and racist regimes in Rhodesia and cannot escape the fact that its rise to power on a world scale
South Africa. In the Middle East, despite the treachery of coincided with the descent of capitalism as a world system
the Egyptian leper Sadat, the Arab Revolution gains in into its death agony. The American bourgeoisie, in both its
strength and threatens the precious oil reserves of domestic and international fields of operation, is paying
imperialism. The PLO, the sole legitimate representative the price for its belated emergence as the number one
of the Palestinian people, has emerged strengthened from imperialist power. This, too, must be seen in its political
the plot hatched by Carter, Sadat and Begin. and economic aspects. Since World War II, the U.S. has
All these struggles have been given tremendous impetus been compelled not only to assume the awesome financial
by the victory of the Iranian Revolution. We said before burden of maintaining the economic stability of the entire
that it has undermined the entire world postion of the capitalist world, but it has been compelled to serve as the
American ruling class. Since the end of World War II, Iran global policeman in the face of the onrushing world
was of immense strategic importance to the United States. revolution.
Shortly after the end of the war, President Truman applied The defeat of America in Vietnam, followed by the rout
heavy pressure and the threat of a military conflict to force of imperialism in Angola, decisively fractured the whole
the withdrawal of the Soviet army from northern Iran. structure of class rule within the United States. The old
From the late 1940s on, particularly with the post-war historic law — that a ruling class defeated in a foreign war
decline of British influence, the United States began to becomes vulnerable to revolution at home — holds true for
groom the Shah as its principal Middle Eastern the United States. This is the significance of the 111-day
representative. The role of the CIA in the overthrow of the miners strike. The contemptuous defiance of Carter by the
nationalist Mossadegh government in 1953 is well known. miners, the inability of the administration to enforce the
The Shah personified the system of client states developed Taft-Hartley injunction and the concessions forced upon
by the United States in the post-war period to defend its the coal operators and Carter exposed the desperate
key military, political and economic interests in the face of weakness of the ruling class.
mass revolutionary hostility to imperialism. Iran belong to The miners strike objectively signified the linking up of
this system of client states whose members included the American working class with the advance of the world
Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and revolution. It laid bare the drastic weakening in the whole
Turkey. Of these, considering the interconnection of world position of the American bourgeoisie since the end of
military, economic and political interests, the Shah’s Iran World War II. Even in the hey-day of the United Mine
was the most important. Workers immediately after the war, the ruling class felt
Politically, Iran was a bastion of reaction fortifying sufficiently secure to enforce injunctions and fines against
imperialism against the onslaught of the Arab revolution. the union and its president, John L. Lewis. But the para­
Not only was Iran considered indispensable to the survival lysis and indecision which emanated from the White House
of Israel, it was counted upon to maintain a continuous during the 111-day strike expressed a failure of nerve by the
3

entire ruling class confronted with a rising tide of working emerging for the political mobilization of the American
class militancy within the United States. Throughout the working class against the capitalist state. The formation of
strike, the ruling class remained utterly dependent upon a mass labor party, the task now posed directly to the
the union bureaucracy’s capacity to betray the miners. The working class, will undoubtedly signal the beginning of the
UMW strike was not exceptional — or, one might say that social revolution in the United States. In the struggles of
it was in this “exceptional” struggle that the real state of the American working class, the whole development of the
class relations within the United States was most clearly world revolution will find its most concentrated expression.
revealed. Nevertheless, in advancing this perspective the Workers
As all subsequent events have richly demonstrated — League totally rejects any sort of contemplative objec­
most recently, the railroad workers walkout — the miners tivism which sees the unfolding of the social revolution as
strike represented the beginning of a period of mass an automatic process whose triumph is guaranteed in
political struggles by the American working class against advance. The working class cannot take power in the
the capitalist state. Inexorably, these struggles will raise United States or in any other capitalist country without the
the fundamental question of power: which class shall rule? construction of a revolutionary, i.e., Trotskyist party.
This question shall be initially posed in the period imme­ History has provided sufficient examples of very favorable
diately before us in the form of a growing mass movement objective conditions for the revolution being transformed
for a break with the two capitalist parties and for the rapidly into their opposite because revolutionary leader­
construction of an independent labor party based on the ship was lacking. One-sided emphasis on “favorable objec­
trade unions. The major struggles since the autumn of 1977 tive conditions” which does not insist that the existence of
— the longshoremen’s strike, the UMW strike, the a revolutionary party capable of leading the working class
nationwide wave of municipal workers strikes, the smaller is, ultimately, the most decisive objective requirement of
but no less bitterly contested strikes against companies the revolution plays directly into the hands of the counter­
throughout the country (like the strikes against Duriron, revolution.
Hobart and Aeronca in Dayton, Ohio), and the growing It is no accident that the old Stalinist liar, Victor Perlo,
rank-and-file opposition to bureaucratically-imposed should recently write:
contracts (as in the Postal Workers union, the New York “The central theme is what we call the general crisis of
local of the Transport Workers Union) — foreshadow the capitalism: the decline, decay, and step-by-step replace­
explosion of the independent mass political movement of ment of capitalism by socialism on a world scale.
the working class. The latest turn by the Carter “It involves the shifting balance of world forces, which
administration in late October to recessionary policies in a has made the forces of socialism, national liberation, and
new “anti-inflation” program which combines “voluntary” the working people of the capitalist countries stronger than
wage controls, brutal productivity schemes, and deli­ the forces of capitalism, colonialism and war.”
berate unemployment will in the coming months bring the This talk of “the shifting balance of world forces” and
mass opposition of the working class to the Government the “step-by-step replacement of capitalism” is both a
and the two-party system to the breaking point. cover for the counter-revolutionary role of Stalinism as well
The Carter administration has decided to implement the as a foul attempt to sow complacency within the working
most brutal slump measures of any US administration class as to the implications of the world capitalist crisis.
since the days of Herbert Hoover. The November 1st From the disintegration of world capitalism does not flow
announcement of a rise in the inter-bank lending its “step-by-step replacement,” but the alternative of
(discount) rate to an unprecedented nine-and-one-half per­ socialism or barbarism. Either the working class is
cent combined with other “tight-money” policies mobilized by the revolutionary party to overthrow capital­
guarantee a devastating fall-back in production and a ism and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat or the
corresponding growth of unemployment in 1979. ruling class, due to the betrayals of the existing bureauc­
While the rapidly rising rate of inflation will ratic leaderships of the working class, shall alter “the
dramatically intensify the militancy of the working class, shifting balance of world forces” by inflicting a new round
the growth of unemployment will inevitably produce of defeats on the working class and clear the way for the
within a very short period of time a deep social crisis that launching of World War III.
will produce an explosive politicalization of the rank and It is the very weakness of the ruling class which compels
file in the trade unions. it to intensify its preparations for military-police dicta­
The mass labor party movement will not usher in a torship. The activities of the CIA and FBI are wider in
new period of social-democratic “New Dealism” in the scope than ever before. After the initial shocks of the
United States, but rather a period of the struggle for Watergate crisis, the ruling class used the period after
power. Nixon’s resignation to undertake a complete overhauling of
The whole development of the capitalist crisis on a world the CIA. The removal of the CIA “old guard” — James
scale totally precludes any possibility of a rebirth of “New Jesus Angelton, William Colby, Richard Helms — was the
Dealism” in the United States. The collapse of the world payoff for the Vietnam debacle. The ruling class now
credit system through which the long post-war boom was requires a far more lethal agency of counter-revolution than
financed represented precisely the death of “New Dealism” the old “Dirty Tricksters” could provide. The appoint­
internationally. Carter can only dream of the resources that ment of Admiral Stansfield Turner to head the CIA repre­
were mobilized by Roosevelt 40 years ago to prop up sents an attempt by the ruling class to more closely coor­
American capitalism. What now looms before American dinate and synchronize the activities of its military and
capitalism is the prospect of a collapse of catastrophic state intelligence agencies. The Pentagon, of course,
proportions. Historically unprecedented conditions are remains the backbone of all counter-revolutionary prepara­
4

tions against the American working class. The deepening The combined counter-revolutionary role of Stalin­
economic crisis and the aggravation of all social relations ism and revisionism represents the greatest danger to
leave the U.S. ruling class no choice but to jettison the the American working class. The decisive task remains
institutions of bourgeois democracy. As one banking the building of the revolutionary party to resolve the
journal recently put it: crisis of leadership within the working class through
“More fundamentally, the gravity of the issues facing the the smashing of the counter-revolutionary Stalinist,
U.S. Administration, and the apparent impotence of the reformist and labor bureaucracies and their revisionist
Executive Branch, may increasingly imperil the security and centrist allies.
and interests of the United States and its allies. When this
becomes evident the U.S. military may well find that it can This revolutionary leadership can be built only on the
no longer stomach the present American system of govern­ basis of the principles of Trotskyism which are derived
ment — for which the horrific pressure of world political, from the historic experience of Bolshevism, the October
Revolution of 1917, the first four congresses of the Com­
economic and financial events appears to be moving far too
swiftly and dangerously. Anyone who doubts this should munist International, the whole legacy of the struggle
against Stalinism and the 40-year struggle to construct the
take note of remarks attributed recently to the Japanese
Fourth International.
Prime Minister to the effect that international conditions
are ripening for a Third World War.” These principles are embodied today in the vast histori­
The American ruling class is rapidly coming to the point cal experience and practice of the International Com­
at which it cannot continue to “stomach the present mittee of the Fourth International (which the Workers
American system of government.” Though deeply divided League politically supports but to which it is unable to
and lacking any real confidence in its ability to smash the affiliate because of the reactionary Voorhis Act). The
working class, it is driven by the crisis to take the most development of Trotskyism has proceeded entirely through
the 25-year struggle by the International Committee
desperate measures. Thus, the regime of capitalist democ­
against Pabloite revisionism and all forms of centrism.
racy — already in the United States the most police-in-
fested in the world — degenerates with each passing day This struggle has now reached its highest point with the
more openly into a facade behind which police-state exposure of Joseph Hansen, the leader of the SWP and the
preparations are being made. principal architect of its unprincipled reunification with
the Pabloites in 1963, as a double agent of the Soviet secret.
The sudden FBI raid on the offices of Teamster Local 70 police and the FBI. The exposure of Hansen comes despite
in Oakland — carried out with neither a warrant nor an the frantic efforts of the Carter administration to protect
explanation — underscores the real dangers to workers’ him and other agents working inside the SWP from being
rights. The clear intention of the raid was to intimidate the unmasked. By dragging the sinister counter-revolutionary
Teamsters union on the eve of the master-freight operations of Hansen within the Fourth International into
negotiations in the spring of 1979. Significantly, only 36 the light of day, the International Committee has rendered
hours before the raid Carter had unveiled his program for an incomparable historical service to the development of
“voluntary” wage controls. Administration spokesmen had Trotskyism, the Marxism of our time. But the unmasking
also stated on numerous occasions that the Teamsters were of the network of agents which penetrated the Trotskyist
going to be the major focus of Carter’s “anti-inflation” movement in the earlier period of the defeats of the working
program. class and the Second World War has only become possible
through the intransigent struggle against Stalinism and
The fact that the depth of the objective crisis of U.S. revisionism waged by the International Committee since
capitalism precludes any unfolding of a new period of its formation in 1953.
reformism does not at all mean that there will be no efforts
made to divert the political movement of the working class The development by the International Committee of its
along these historically bankrupt lines. Rather, it is pre­ historical investigation into the assassination of Trotsky
cisely at the point of capitalism’s greatest crisis that and the role of Stalinist agents within the Fourth Interna­
Stalinism, revisionism and the labor bureaucracy must tional — the results of which have been published under
pool their resources to contain the working class within the the title “Security and the Fourth International” — is the
framework of bourgeois politics. In one form or another, outcome of the struggle by the International Committee
they gravitate toward the creation of “Popular Fronts” (the and the Workers League against the renegacy and revision­
“anti-monopoly coalition” of the American Stalinists) in ism of Tim Wohlforth.
order to place a political strait-jacket over the working It has been the struggle against this renegade and accom­
class. While tailing behind the Stalinists and avidly parti­ plice of police-agent Hansen that has established the indes­
cipating in their varied but uniformally reactionary coali­ tructible foundation for the construction of the revolu­
tions, the revisionists of the Socialist Workers Party now tionary party in the United States.
call for the formation of a labor party — as an avowedly Wohlforth deserted the Workers League in September
reformist organization whose goal would be the election of 1974 after having been removed as its national secretary
“workers” to Congress in order to “administer the state.” because he deliberately concealed the CIA family connec­
In other words, the revisionists raise the slogan of the labor tions of his companion Nancy Fields. Wohlforth’s refusal to
party only in order to politically castrate it — that is, to accept the discipline of the Trotskyist movement — after
detach the mass movement of the working class for a break having voted in favor of the procedures recommended by
with the bourgeois parties from its revolutionary content the Central Committee to deal with the security implica­
and then channel it back into a reformist framework accep­ tions of the Fields affair — represented the anti-commun-
table to the bourgeoisie. ist hatred of the petty-bourgeois for the fundamental
5

principles of Trotskyism and revolutionary interna­ The murder of Comrade Henehan, a member of the
tionalism. Represented in the degeneration and renegacy of Political Committee, is the response of imperialism to this
Wohlforth was a new m anifestation of Pabloite threat. The fact that both the Communist Party and the
revisionism, albeit in American clothing, emerging out of Socialist Workers Party have remained silent on the as­
the vast transformation of the world political-economic sassination, refusing to even report it in their press let alone
crisis after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in condemn it, establishes yet again the counter-revolu­
1971. tionary roles of Stalinism and revisionism as agencies of
Therefore, the political preparation of the Workers imperialism.
League for this upsurge of the world revolution required not But the Workers League has not been and cannot be
only the defeat of the renegade Wohlforth, but also and intimidated. We recognize the assassination of Henehan as
above all the continuous struggle over the past four years to the expression of imperialism’s weakness and its hatred of
deepen the struggle against revisionism in the practice of the Workers League’s struggle for Trotskyist principles.
building the Workers League. Now, on the basis of these principles defended throughout
All the political work of the Workers League over the the 40 year history of the Fourth International and the 25
past four years has taken as its conscious starting point the years of struggle waged by the International Committee,
historic achievements of the International Committee the road forward today is to the working class.
derived from the struggle against revisionism. Within this The conscious preparation of the struggle for power in
political framework, the fight against opportunism, of the United States requires the transformation of the
which Wohlforth’s politics was just one manifestation, has Workers League into the revolutionary party in the period
been the relentless battle against all the reactionary mani­ immediately ahead. This must be carried out through a
festations of the pressures of American imperialism upon systematic struggle to develop Marxism in the fight to train
the working class and its revolutionary vanguard: theories cadre recruited from the industrial working class —
of American “exceptionalism,” anti-internationalism, particularly in steel, auto, rubber, the mines, transpor­
middle-class individualism and hostility to democratic- tation — and the entire trade union movement and the
centralist practice, pragmatism and the philistine’s youth.
contempt for the world scientific outlook of dialectical The central weapon in this fight must be a daily
materialism. newspaper that campaigns tirelessly for the building of a
Labor Party and for an understanding of the immediate
The lessons gained in this struggle are the absolutely revolutionary implications of this historic break with the
indispensable foundations for the training of the new forces two capitalist parties.
from among the working class, youth and students and The very essence of this fight now before the Workers
professional workers in the traditions and principles of League is the training of revolutionary cadre out of the
Trotskyism. mass struggles of the working class, unyielding in their
Thus, the struggle by the International Committee to hatred of the labor bureaucracy, Stalinist “Popular
build the Trotskyist movement in the United States, the Frontism,” and its revisionist accomplices.
center of world imperialism, has arrived at a qualitatively
new stage. The task now posed to the Workers League is to
consciously prepare the working class for the coming
struggle for power under the qualitatively new conditions in
which the multi-millioned American proletariat is being
drawn into mass political struggles against the capitalist
state.
In leading the fight for the historic break of the Ameri­
can working class from the grip of bourgeois politics, in
directing the struggle for the building of a labor party based
on socialist policies, the Workers League has the respon­
sibility to recruit and train thousands of the best fighters
who will now emerge out of the mass spontaneous struggles.
It was precisely to prevent this that U.S. imperialism
organized the murder of Comrade Tom Henehan on
October 16, 1977. The killing of Comrade Henehan came
just after the International Committee had succeeded in
exposing Hansen as an agent of the FBI.
Both imperialism and Stalinism have been and remain
united on one question: the necessity of preventing at all
costs the emergence of Trotskyist leadership in the working
class. This is why a special conference was called at Camp
David in June 1978 to instruct Attorney General Griffin
Bell to defy a court order and risk a possible jail term rather
than release the names of 18 out of at least 66 agents now
functioning within the SWP. This decision was dictated
not simply by the need to protect agents, but by the enor­
mous fear within the highest circles of American imper­
ialism of the revolutionary threat posed by Trotskyism.
6

WORLD ECONOMIC CRISIS


The collapse of the dollar signals a new Asia. In the United States, the newly formed mass indus­
stage in the crisis of world capitalism. In the trial unions staged the biggest strike wave in history in
1945-47. A near rebellion broke out among GIs stationed in
last 18 months, the dollar has fallen by more Europe who demanded to return home.
than 34 percent against the Japanese yen, 19 U.S. imperialism had achieved supremacy among the
percent against the German mark and 41 world’s imperialist powers only to come face to face with
the full blast of the world revolution. This left it no choice
percent against the Swiss franc. These but to retreat. It had to “save” Europe from revolution by
figures reveal the disintegration of the world reviving postwar capitalism. To do otherwise meant imper­
capitalist monetary system. This is shown illing its own existence. But it was only the open betrayal of
even more starkly by the huge increase in the Stalinists and their conscious aid that allowed the U.S.
and world bourgeoisie its chance to save capitalism. Stalin
the price of gold. Since the beginning of used the Communist parties of western Europe to make
1978, the price of an ounce has risen from good on his promises to Roosevelt and Churchill at
$165 to $240, a jump of 50 percent. Potsdam and Yalta: to prevent the spread of workers’
revolutions. The Kremlin bureaucracy subordinated the
The dollar crisis has vastly accelerated the build­ interests of the international working class to its diploma­
up of slump in industry, double-digit inflation, mass tic deals with U.S. and British imperialism, carving up the
unemployment and trade warfare. This crisis is not globe into “spheres of influence.”
simply a “return to the 1930s.” The content of the In Italy, the Stalinists under Togliatti forced the workers
crisis is the accumulated contradictions of world and peasants to hand over their weapons and accept the
capitalism over the past 40 years, built up upon a return of a bourgeois government. In France, Thorez led the
foundation so rotten that the epoch was already Communist Party into a coalition cabinet under DeGaulle
characterized in 1938 as that of capitalism’s “death and even backed the French military in their war to regain
agony.” Trotsky’s perspective was correct. This control over Vietnam.
death agony is now resolving itself into a situation In Greece, though the Stalinists were unable to stop the
where capitalism will destroy the very foundations outbreak of civil war, they stabbed their own supporters in
the back on orders from Stalin who had promised Churchill
for the existence of any economy at all. The economic that Greece would remain in imperialist hands.
consequences of its crisis threaten to reduce econ­ The framework for postwar capitalism was decided at the
omic relations to the level of primitive barter. The Bretton Woods conference of 1944. The basis for those
political consequences of its crisis threaten the real decisions was a recognition by imperialism of its own
possibility that only the survivors of a nuclear holo­ weakness and a deliberate retreat in the face of the interna­
caust will be left to engage in this form of economic tional working class.
intercourse. World imperialism embarked on a policy of controlled
Only the smashing of capitalism by the working monetary and credit inflation centered on a convertible
class and the establishment of the dictatorship of the dollar. The chief aim of this policy was to avoid a new
proletariat can save mankind from this fate. descent into depression, to rebuild Europe and Japan and
to reestablish a basis for class compromise with the working
class.
B re tto n W oods In effect, U.S. imperialism was extending on a global
scale the New Deal policies it had used to forestall revolu­
The position of U.S. imperialism following World War II tion inside the U.S. during the 1930s.
was fundamentally different from that which it occupied The Bretton Woods conference established two organiza­
following World War I. It was supreme economically, tions — the International Bank for Reconstruction and
politically and militarily relative to its capitalist rivals. Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary
But the very peak of its power coincided with the prostra­ Fund (IMF). The purpose of the first was to promote
tion of world capitalism. Germany, Japan, Italy and private foreign investment. But it was the IMF which was
France had been devastated by the war, and England was to play the far more crucial role in postwar capitalism. Its
little better than bankrupt. An insurgent working class in job was to guarantee financial and commercial stability
Western Europe was moving toward insurrection against between member-nations, prevent competitive depres­
the completely discredited bourgeois regimes. A rising tide sions in monetary circulation, and avoid any restrictions
of national liberation struggles swept through Africa and which could hamper world trade. Specifically, those
7

countries facing severe balance-of-payments deficits could Europe became a huge source of profits. By the late 1940s
turn to the IMF, with its pool of paper currency and gold and early 1950s, the postwar boom was in full swing and
contributed by member-nations, for assistance. imperialisTi on a world scale never seemed so powerful.
The composition of the IMF reflected the domination of But the boom was itself the highest expression, though in
U.S. imperialism. Its subscription to the IMF pool was the a contradictory form, of the weakness of world imper­
largest (presently over $4.1 billion), giving it the largest ialism.
block of votes (nearly 27 percent) of any single country. The This became apparent even during the heyday of capital­
Fund was, for all intents and purposes, an international ist prosperity. In 1949, the Chinese Revolution broke
arm of U.S. capital. In later years, other organizations through the counter-revolutionary logjam erected by the
(World Bank, Bank of International Settlements, General Kremlin bureaucracy and dealt a staggering blow to world
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Organization for imperialism.
Economic Cooperation and Development) were In reaction, U.S. imperialism launched its invasion of
established, all with the same basic purpose — to preserve Korea in 1950. The banker of the world also had to become
economic stability within world capitalism. its policeman. Korea was a hammerblow to the much-
The linchpin of the entire system was the U.S. dollar, vaunted U.S. military might. At the same time, to cover its
which was accorded the position of “world money.” This military expenditures abroad, U.S. imperialism resorted to
meant that the national U.S. currency simultaneously dollars and other liquid liabilities rather than gold. The
became a world currency, substituting for gold in terms of volume of dollars grew enormously as U.S. imperialism
the conduct of international trade and the holding of built up a vast nuclear arsenal, set up NATO, NORAD,
reserves. SEATO and all the other military alliances required to
A system of fixed exchange rates was erected with all cur­ protect the outposts of a faltering world imperialist order.
rencies pegged to the dollar and allowed to fluctuate only Even before the end of the Korean war, the impact of
within narrow limits. In this way, the form of economic these measures were taking their toll on the U.S. financial
stability was created and the basis laid for the expansion of position. Whereas, in 1938, the liquid liabilities of U.S.
world trade. imperialism amounted to only 15 percent of its gold stock,
However, gold remained the foundation of the postwar in 1949, they amounted to 33 percent, and by 1952, they
monetary system, albeit through the medium of the U.S. amounted to over 50 percent.
dollar. The functioning of Bretton Woods depended, above Bretton Woods did not at all represent the overcoming by
all, on one thing — the guarantee by the U.S. government world capitalism of its contradictions, but rather their
to exchange dollars for gold at the rate of $35 per fine movement to a new and higher stage. The monetary
ounce. arrangements, which provided the appearance of econ­
The role of gold in the capitalist world economy had not omic and political equilibrium, were the forms through
diminished, despite numerous attempts by bourgeois which these contradictions were building up. The develop­
economists and revisionist “theoreticians” like Ernest ment of the capitalist monetary crisis made this clear.
Mandel to make it appear so in later years. As in the By the late 1950s, as a consequence of its military
prewar period, it was gold, not dollars, which embodied the expenses and the growing volume of capital exports to
absolute social materialization of wealth. Europe, the U.S. began to run up a balance-of-payments
Dollars, in the form of bank notes, bills of exchange and deficit. At first, European capitalists welcomed this
so on, are no more than liquid liabilities of the United
States to other countries which keep them in their reserves. development. The U.S. payments deficits were the source
Marx wrote: “Paper money is a token representing gold or of much sought after dollars abroad. But in 1958, central
money... Only in so far as paper currency represents gold, bankers began converting dollars into gold. For the first
which like all other commodities has value, is it a symbol of time since the end of the war, the quantity of paper dollars
abroad exceeded the U.S. gold stocks in Fort Knox. By
value.” 1960, the amount of paper dollars and the other liquid
The unique position of the dollar in the Bretton Woods liabilities of the U.S. outside the country exceeded the U.S.
Agreements was based on the unmatched economic and gold stock in Fort Knox by $800 million. The dollar was no
military superiority of U.S. imperialism in the postwar longer as “good as gold.”
period. In 1949, it held nearly 70 percent of the world’s gold That quantitative change beneath the surface appear­
stocks (worth $24.6 billion). By comparison, all other ance of the boom had enormous significance. In effect, U.S.
capitalist countries held a total of $9.04 billion in gold and imperialism had come to the point where its awesome
another $1.45 billion was held by private institutions. reserves of wealth were exhausted. It could not eliminate
Moreover, the U.S. was running huge balance-of-pay- its payments deficits because to do so would have meant
ments and balance-of-trade surpluses. plunging Europe into economic crisis and destroying vast
This enabled it to finance the Marshall Plan and rebuild sections of U.S. capital.
Europe and Japan economically and militarily. The role of There was only one way out — to resort to the printing
the dollar within Bretton Woods provided U.S. finance press for more dollars to paper over the rising deficits. Only
capital with a weapon for gaining domination in interna­ U.S. imperialism could do this because of the dollar’s
tional monetary and financial relations. The key was that unique position as “world money,” that is, legal tender for
the issue of dollars, which became a legal international repayment of debts throughout the world.
medium of exchange, was in the hands of the U.S. ruling But this only aggravated the situation. Every new dollar
class. U.S. investors were spurred on by a declining rate of represented a liability which diminishing gold reserves
profit at home to seek new outlets abroad. As the export of could not cover. In effect, U.S. imperialism was now living
private capital mushroomed, the issuing of dollars also off credit, cashing in on its good name and previous reputa­
mushroomed. From 1949 to 1960, direct private U.S. tion to maintain economic stability and political
investment abroad jumped from $10.7 billion to $32.7 tranquility. It was borrowing from the future to pay for the
billion — a growth of over 300 percent. Investment in present.
8

Such a policy could not last. By the mid-1960s, the An examination of the present state of the Euro-dollar
cracks began to emerge. The first was the 1967 rush on the market — the pool of dollars existing in banks outside the
British pound, which had supplemented the dollar as a U.S. which is used to finance American business activity on
reserve currency. In 1968, the attack on the dollar began in a world scale — shows the truth of the above-quoted as­
earnest with the French government’s conversion of their sessment.
dollar holdings into gold. This led to the creation of the The Eurocurrency markets had a gross value of $610
make-shift two-tier gold pricing system. This established a billion as of June, 1977. This is up from a gross value of
dual price system: one price remaining at the official $35 $110 billion in 1970. During that same seven-year period,
per ounce for the sale of gold between countries; the second the amount of U.S. dollars in the Eurocurrency markets
was unofficial prices on the open market. rose from $89.1 billion to $466.1 billion. This represents a
The breakdown of Bretton Woods inaugurated an unpre­ staggering increase of 523 percent.
cedented crisis in the top circles of the U.S* ruling class. The ratio of dollars to other currencies in the Euro­
Lyndon Johnson’s policy of “guns and butter” — massive markets has remained roughly 80 percent of the total cur­
military expenditures in Vietnam and massive outlays on rency markets. But the ratio of dollars in the Euromarkets
social programs at home — was the last gasp of New relative to dollars within the United States has soared.
Dealism. Both the economic and political framework began In 1970, Eurodollars accounted for 19.7 percent of the
to collapse simultaneously. broad U.S. domestic money supply. In June 1977, they
The Vietnamese handed U.S. imperialism a decisive accounted for 56.8 percent of the broad domestic money
setback in the Tet offensive in 1968, and two months later, supply. If one excludes time deposits (money deposited
in March 1968, the bottom fell out of the dollar market. long term that is not available for circulation) from the
Johnson was forced to announce that he would not run for definition of the money supply, Eurodollars represent a
re-election. sum which is 147.3 percent greater than the value of dollars
By the time the Nixon administration took office in 1969, circulating within the U.S.! This gigantic pool of paper
the United States owned less than 25 percent of the world’s money is completely beyond the control of the United
gold reserves. The dollar came under unbearable pressure States or, for that matter, any government.
as capital exports accelerated, gigantic sums were It is this mass of liquidity, which is the main legacy of the
consumed by the Vietnam War and Nixon was unable to boom, that is now swamping the capitalist world. The
impose any significant cut in the living standards of U.S. magnitude of the upheavals let loose on the world currency
workers. On August 15, 1971, Nixon broke the link between markets by the disastrous collapse of the dollar can be seen
dollars and gold. by examining the various currency realignments over a
recent twelve month period.
From late July 1977 to mid-June 1978, there were no less
The M o n e ta ry Crisis than 109 major currency shifts. In one month alone (August
That decision fundamentally altered the position of 1977), there were no less than 15 major shifts in currency.
world capitalism. The policy of controlled inflation gave During two other months, there were 13 realignments each,
way to uncontrolled inflation. The system of fixed one month had 12, another 10, another 9, and so on. There
exchange rates broke down, despite one attempt after was not a single month which had less than 6 major cur­
another, beginning with the Smithsonian Agreements of rency shifts.
December 1971, to patch it together again. The breakdown What these figures show is the sheer disintegration of the
of the monetary system ushered in a period of the irresis- world monetary system. The wild gyrations on the currency
table buildup of competitive currency devaluations (the markets from day to day (in contrast to conditions which
dollar was itself devalued twice from 1971 to 1973) and prevailed during the boom where currencies like the Yen or
trade warfare. the Mark did not shift so much as a percentage point in
The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 led to the oil embargo and more than 20 years!) make it impossible to conduct
the decision by OPEC nations to quadruple the price of oil. international trade or investment within any kind of
The decision, the direct outcome of the uncontrolled infla­ orderly framework.
tion unleashed by the August 15, 1971 measures, threw the The instability reigning in financial markets has led to
entire capitalist world into recession, drove up the ex­ what is generally described as an “investment strike”
ternal debts of countries to astronomical levels and throughout the major industrial countries. In the U.S.,
signalled an irreversible descent into slump. investment has virtually run dry in basic industry. In
The bedrock of world capitalism has now become the Japan, which recorded a record number of bankruptcies
greatest force for its destruction. All the props of the this year, capital investment grew by only 3 percent in
postwar boom have become the motor forces for the crisis. 1977, compared with an average 13.5 percent growth during
Every economic plus sign that has existed for the last the 1950s. In France, it grew by less than 4 percent while in
thirty years has turned into a minus sign. Italy it was a dismal 2 percent. As one U.S. banker put it:
The crucial role here is played by the dollar, the pillar of “It used to be that profits were the most important
the postwar monetary system. As one banking journal put determinant... but today inflation and the lack of confi­
it: dence in the economic system are equally important.”
This brings out the magnitude of the contradictions rip­
“The Great Dollar Printing Machine is the root cause ping apart world capitalism. The last period has seen an
of international financial, economic, and political insta­ unprecedented expansion of credit and liquidity. During
bility. It functions because the United States exercises the boom, this was the driving force for the expansion of
that priceless and unique privilege — the power of production. Now the Eurodollar markets constitute the
international seigneurage.” The extent to which U.S. largest edifice of credit ever constructed in the history of
imperialism has issued dollars, and the enormous capitalism. But, far from a record expansion of produc­
expansion of credit and debt is almost beyond the grasp tion, basic industry is being strangled to death.
of imagination. The same is true for international trade. The growth of
9

world trade has fallen from 14 percent in 1977 to 5 percent dollars overseas and the onset of the liquidity crisis. While
in 1978. Whole industrial sectors have been withdrawn the U.S. bourgeoisie was able, to a limited extent, to
from what is known as the “free trade system” — notably insulate the domestic economy from the full brunt of the
textiles and more recently steel — and anti-dumping legis­ crisis, especially through trade war measures, the raging
lation and outright tariff barriers are going up. These are inflation now whipsawing through the economy is rapidly
supplemented by various “voluntary” export restraint bringing this period to an end.
agreements, such as the one Japan signed with the Com­ The dollar itself has lost half its purchasing power within
mon Market, to prevent its goods from being totally shut the United States in the last 10 years. Its dramatic fall in
out of Western Europe. the world currency markets in the last 18 months has
The Tokyo Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs driven up prices on all imported goods inside the country.
and Trade threatens to break down completely as the U.S. For the first nine months of the year, the purchasing power
moves to slap increased customs duties on Common of the American worker has fallen by 2.5 percent. This
Market agricultural exports and the EEC prepares retalia­ skyrocketing rise in prices of food, clothing and housing has
tory measures. Meanwhile, GATT, which was designed to been the driving force for the confrontations between the
“liberalize” international trade, is being gutted as at­ working class and the Carter government.
tempts are made to renegotiate Article 19 so as to enable “Business Week” warned about the implications of
importing countries to apply selective controls on imports double-digit inflation in the U.S.:
from particular countries. Japan is obviously the prime “The U.S. is still a long way from open class warfare, but
target for such measures. many people worry about what could happen if inflation
As the “International Currency Review” pointed out, remains at anything approaching recent levels . . . Now the
“We are observing the progressively accelerating break­ economic outlook is clouded, inflation is no longer waning,
down of the multilateral world trading and payments and this country could be heading into the worst period of
system based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and economic and social dislocation since the Civil War.”
Trade, and on the Bretton Woods agreement. This process, The impact of the world crisis on the U.S. economy has
of course, had become well established even prior to the already been devastating. In the coming year, economic
escalation of oil prices; but the speed of disintegration has growth is expected to fall as low as 1.5 percent, in effect
now been accentuated by the impact of artificially high oil amounting to a full-scale recession.
prices, and by the headlong proliferation of external dollar In 1977, capital investment rose by 9 percent in the U.S.
liquidity which has been its most profound and disturbing Though this is in line with previous years, the fact is that
consequence.” much of this investment went into retooling already
The extent of the breakdown in world trade was high­ existing plant and machinery. In such industries as
lighted by the statements of Japanese Prime Minister computers, steel, textiles, tires and rubber, and airlines,
Takeo Fukuda at the beginning of the year, when he said there has been virtually no growth of capital investment. In
that, were it not for the existence of nuclear weapons, the steel, the most basic of industries, investment is down well
Third World War would have already broken out. below 6 percent, which is not even enough to maintain
presently-existing facilities. The demise of Youngstown
U .S . Crisis Sheet & Tube and its merger with Jones & Laughlin shows
the completely precarious position which the biggest
Another aspect of the Great Dollar Printing Machine has industrial corporations now find themselves in.
been the growth of double-digit inflation in the U.S. The In fact, the last year has seen a record growth of
current 12 percent inflation rate is having a staggering industrial mergers, which are only a back-handed way of
impact on investment and vastly accelerating the slump in carrying out outright liquidation of whole sections of
basic industry. industry. Meanwhile, to the extent that there has been any
Ever since Bretton Woods, U.S. imperialism has tried to capital investment, it has gone into entirely non­
keep two sets of books — one for its domestic economy, and productive industries: leisure time, restaurants and hotels.
the other for its international accounts. The dollar crisis has greatly exacerbated the falling rate
On the international arena, it built up huge payments of profit in basic industry, which, in turn, makes U.S.
(and, later, trade) deficits. imperialism less able to satisfy the huge claims of a moun­
For the bourgeoisie of any other country, this would have tain of paper credit being made on a relatively diminishing
immediately had a sharp impact on the domestic economy. amount of surplus value in industry.
Measures would have had to be taken, ultimately, to Return on investment in the U.S. has fallen from 13.4
deflate in order to dampen demand at home and shift percent in 1966 to 9.2 percent in 1976. Moreover, the figures
resources into exports to earn the necessary foreign for non-financial, i.e., primarily industrial, corporations
exchange (usually dollars) needed to repay debts to are much worse. In the last seven years they have
overseas suppliers. averaged only 4.3 percent. Total 1977 profits were only
But this did not apply to the U.S. ruling class — pre­ about 70 percent of their 1966 level.
cisely because of the unique role of the dollar. The U.S. The auto industry, the cornerstone of U.S. capital,
could continue to sustain massive payments and trade demonstrates the impact of the falling rate of profit.
deficits year after year. In order to repay suppliers overseas, Return on investment during the 1920s and 1930s was 18.9
the U.S. bourgeoisie did not have to deflate the domestic percent; during the five years after the Second World War,
economy to earn foreign exchange because the currency it was 22.8 percent; during the years following the Korean
required to repay those debts was their own national War, it was just over 20 percent. By 1969, however,
currency — the dollar. The deficits abroad could be investment return was estimated to be 7 percent for
sustained through generating more paper dollars and credit General Motors, 4.5 percent for Ford and 4.4 percent for
without having hardly any impact on the U.S. economy. Chrysler. At Ford, which took in record profits last year,
This was the direct cause of the massive accumulation of the return on investment for domestic car production
10

plummetted to less than 2.5 percent. trate foreign markets and drive their competitors to the
The impact of inflation, along with the slump in wall. The Administration has swept aside any legislation —
industry, has dealt a shattering blow to the stock market. from anti-bribery laws to environmental, health and safety
Stocks are worth no more today than they were in 1956! At bans — which could hamper the effort and has pledged $2
the same time, interest rates have soared to 9 and 10 billion in export credits to subsidize the trade war drive.
percent. What this adds up to is a situation where the cost Within the U.S., public spending is being slashed to the
of capital to major corporations has more than doubled bone. The Democratic and Republican politicians and
since the 1950s, leading to an unprecedented accumula­ mass media have masked this policy with their cynical
tion of corporate debt. This is starkly revealed by the campaign about a “tax revolt” in order to appeal to the
change in the ratio of profits to interest payments. In 1966, middle class. But the reality is that social services are being
corporate profits were 11 times greater than the interest gutted and major cities, like Cleveland, are rapidly going
charges they paid out. In 1977, profits were only 4 times the way of New York to financial ruin. Meanwhile, the
greater. Carter government plans to lop off more than $15 billion
The U.S. economy is plunging head-first towards full- from the federal budget this year — dealing staggering
scale recession. The unprecedented growth of debt is the blows especially, to health and safety, hospitals and
best indicator of this. In four years, total debt has education.
ballooned from $2.5 trillion to $4 trillion. Overall, for every
$3 owed in 1974, the U.S. now owes $4, a growth rate far
faster than the growth of the U.S. economy, even when T h e Banks
inflation is counted in economic growth.
In the last three years, corporate debt has gone up 36 The explosion of liquidity and the falling rate of profit in
percent to over $1 trillion; state and local governments basic industry have led to a fundamental transformation in
have been borrowing 33 percent more and now owe nearly the role of the banking system in the U.S. and interna­
$300 billion; the federal government debt is up 47 percent tionally. Forced to look elsewhere for their profits, the
to $825 billion; and, most noticeably, consumer debt has banks have found a completely new source — in the desper­
soared by over 50 percent to $110 billion. ate needs of underdeveloped countries to borrow massive
What is even more ominous is the fact that most of this sums to pay import bills in a desperate bid to stave off
record expansion in borrowing has involved short-term bankruptcies.
loans. Nearly 60 percent of all corporate debt is pow short­ In the period from 1970 to 1975, over 95 percent of the
term. This dizzying pace in the increase of short-term debt increase in total profits for the 13 largest banks in the
indicates the extent of the disintegration of traditional United States came from overseas loans and business
sources for corporate funding, above all the stock market. It transactions. International credit expanded four times as
means that companies have sucked in huge amounts of fast during that period as domestic loans.
debt in the last period in order to keep going a little while The vast bulk of this credit has gone to the under­
longer, only to prepare all the more assuredly for outright developed countries, who, especially since 1973 but even
collapse in the next period. before then, have faced soaring costs for oil and imported
This is the case for companies like American Motors manufactured goods while the price of their major exports,
which long ago passed the dividing line between sol­ usually raw materials, has fallen sharply. By 1977, under­
vency and bankruptcy, only to be kept going with injec­ developed countries as a whole had a total foreign debt of
tions of credit and for Chrysler, which is scrapping and over $250 billion, of which at least $75 billion was owed
selling off its entire European operations in a last-ditch directly to the private banks.
attempt to keep its head above water. It is just as true for Many of these countries have been forced into a vicious
corporations like General Motors and U.S. Steel, whose circle of borrowing to pay import bills and then having to
apparent financial stability is built on the quicksand of borrow again to pay back the interest on their first loans.
short-term borrowing. What develops is a snowballing of debt which generates
The growth of debt, which directly feeds inflation, and in record business and profits, at least on paper, for the giant
turn, is fed by it, now drives the ruling class and the Carter banks. One recent study estimated that one out of every
government towards slump policies — the liquidation of four dollars currently borrowed by the underdeveloped
non-profitable sectors of capital, along with massive cuts in countries was being used to pay back previous loans and
public expenditures. that by 1980 the ratio will be one out of every two dollars!
‘Business Week’magazine warned: “As long as monetary The buildup of this mass of debt has changed the role of
and fiscal policies stay as expansive as they have, even the banks and the relation between finance capital and
today’s massive debt burden is bearable. But the same industrial capital.
policies that permit so many people to stay so deeply in For the first time ever, the vast bulk of bank lending is
debt carry the seeds of their own destruction because they going to government or government guaranteed entities
breed inflation. At some point the Administration or the rather than to private corporations and industry. As of
Federal Reserve, or both, will have to pull in. Then, unless 1976, the share of total loans taken by governments and
the nation is very lucky indeed, the new debt economy — official institutions rose to 75 percent. A recent Senate
already more than 50 percent higher than the old debt report stated:
economy — could come crashing down.” “Thus, the private international banking system has
The U.S. ruling class has no choice but to prosecute the been transformed from a system whose chief function was
trade war abroad and ruthless slump policies at home. to provide investment capital for private corporations, to
Already, the Carter government has imposed its price one which is the primary source of balance of payments
“trigger” measures on steel imports and now big business is financing for foreign governments.”
demanding the erection of tariff barriers and import Basic industry in the advanced capitalist countries is
quotas. Meanwhile, Carter has given the green light for being starved by investment capital, underdeveloped
U.S. business to make full use of the falling dollar to pene­ countries are being crushed under a mountain of debt
11

which they have no hope of repaying — and the banks are percent of its entire revenues from exports and services
reaping a bonanza! Lenin, extracting out of the whole abroad. There is no difference between such a situation and
development of world capitalism at the time of the First outright bankruptcy except in the most formal sense of the
World War, analyzed that one of the essential charac­ word.
teristics of the epoch of imperialism was the growth and Zaire, Peru, Jamaica, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia
domination of finance capital over industrial capital. What and Zambia face the same situation. The cancer of debt
is now taking place is not only the domination but the afflicts the advanced capitalist countries, especially
destruction of industrial capital by finance capital. The Britain and Italy. But what is decisive is that the entire
banks are now feeding off the disintegration of their own capitalist banking system now stands like a house of cards
system. Consequently, this very process has undermined ready to be toppled under the impact of a default by one of
the foundations of the banking system itself. As the indus­ a whole series of countries.
trial base of the pyramid upon which credit is erected A Senate report commented:
becomes narrower and narrower, the entire credit structure “Some observers argue that as the debt service burden
moves toward collapse. Most of the funds loaned out to the balloons for many countries toward the end of this decade,
underdeveloped countries on a long-term basis have come the point may come when one or several of these countries
from short-term deposits — primarily petrodollars and will find it more in their interest to simply default or repu­
speculative capital from Europe. diate their external debts rather than to have to continue
During a recent three year period, for instance, OPEC borrowing just to repay old loans. And if this happens, a
countries invested over $33 billion in the United States. In domino effect could take place in which other debtor
one year alone (1977), Saudi Arabia deposited $10 billion in countries follow suit; the banks panic and start calling in
U.S. banks. The vast bulk of this money is in short-term their international loans; the stock market drops precipi­
highly liquid assets. It is estimated that if so much as one tously; and the international capital market collapses. This
percent of this “hot money” shifts suddenly out of the doomsday scenario may be extreme in its pessimism, but it
United States, it could precipitate a chain reaction of is being taken seriously enough by responsible officials that
banking failures with catastrophic impact. a concerted international effort is now underway to prevent
U.S. imperialism has moved behind the scenes to try and that first domino from falling.”
guarantee its access to petrodollars. It has done this This is what lies behind the transformation of the role of
primarily through the secret pact with Saudi Arabia, the the International Monetary Fund in the last two years.
largest of the oil producing countries. Worked out initially Instead of the “lender of last resort” whose job it was to
by Henry Kissinger and confirmed by the Carter admini­ prevent mushrooming of payments crises and currency
stration, this secret pact calls for the Saudi government to disorders, the IMF has become the bill collector for the
use 50 percent of its annual balance of payments surpluses giant U.S. banks.
and 87 percent of its existing liquid cash above what it It has done this by forcing governments in one country
needs for domestic purposes for investment in the United after another to implement the most ferocious assault on
States. Furthermore, the Saudis pledged to prevent any oil the living standards of the masses of workers, peasants and
price hike above 5 percent per year until December 1984. youth in these countries.
In exchange for all this, U.S. imperialism pledged to use The implications of the IMF policy for countries with
“its full political, military and economic resources to assist large external debts to U.S. commercial banks was
the Saudi government in any way that may prove necessary discussed with unusual frankness by an official report
in the light of developing circumstances.” produced by a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate.
The frailty of this arrangement was revealed with shat­ This report, published in August 1977, stated that “there
tering force through the Iranian revolution. The imme­ appears to be a direct correlation between economic
diate consequences of the Shah’s overthrow was the hardship and political repression in many countries.” It
world oil shortage and the steep rise in the price of crude concluded: “The Carter Administration may therefore
oil. By May 1979, spot prices for crude oil were more than have to choose between pressing its international human
double the official prices of OPEC oil before the overthrow rights efforts, and supporting creditor programs that can
of the Shah. Moreover, the frightened Saudi regime has only be undertaken at the expense of civil liberties in the
been forced to stake out a position of greater independence countries that undertake them.”
from American foreign policy. Carter has had no difficulty choosing between “human
The Saudis have joined in the denunciation of the rights” and the financial interests of the U.S. banking oli­
Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and have acceded to every garchy. This is shown by the policies of the IMF in
OPEC price rise. In the midst of the greatest oil shortage countries like Peru.
ever, brought about by the Iranian revolution, the Saudis It is estimated that no more than 30 percent of the
have virtually abandoned U.S. imperialism in refusing to Peruvian population is presently receiving any sort of wage.
increase oil production. A large share of the financial In February 1978, the representatives of several major
stability of U.S. imperialism rests on the political policies foreign banks — Citibank, Manufacturers Hanover, Wells
of the Saudi king. Nothing could more clearly express the Fargo, Dresdner Bank, Bank of Tokyo — met in Lima to
utter bankruptcy of U.S. imperialism. dictate the terms of repayment of Peruvian loans.
The bankers insisted that Peru meet its debt servicing
The banks base themselves almost entirely on loans obligation of $924 million for 1978. This represents more
which have no chance of ever being repaid. Mexico, one of than 50 percent of its earnings from exports. In 1979, Peru
the two biggest borrowers from U.S. banks, has a total will have to meet interest payments of more than $1 billion.
foreign debt of over $25 billion. In 1976, it had to pay out The military regime has been obliged to cut the bulk of
$5.5 billion in interest payments alone — amounting to 80 Peru’s food imports. Even more disastrous than the govern­
12

ment debt is the position of private industries. They have


been declared in default of loans and are unable to Eu ro p e and A m e ric a
purchase parts from overseas suppliers.
Peru is by no means unique. Virtually identical condi­ The calamitous decline of the dollar has become the
tions of bankruptcy are emerging in Bolivia. Its state enter­ spearhead of U.S. imperialism’s trade war drive against
prises are heavily in debt. Gross indebtedness to foreign European and Japanese capitalism.
commercial banks increased since 1971 from $89 million to Pressing for the full use of the price advantage created for
$650 million. American exports, Carter has given the signal to begin a
The total external indebtedness of Bolivia mushroomed cutthroat trade war and to ignore the Federal govern­
from $391 million to $2 billion during the past seven years. ment’s own rules on unethical practices in foreign trade.
Like so many countries in Latin America, Bolivia is depen­ This includes everything from bribery to infringing of anti­
dent on a favorable price for the commodities it exports. trust laws and the “human rights” provisions governing
But apart from tin, all its export commodities earned far foreign trade, to the sale of nuclear reactors and toxic sub­
less than expected in 1977. Thus, its growing debt servicing stances at present banned for ecology reasons.
problems were compounded by a 1977 trade deficit of $14
million. Carter’s orders to go on the warpath in foreign trade
As a leading banking journal recently warned: “There spells disaster for U.S. imperialism’s European and
are thus ample grounds for our view that storm clouds are Japanese competitors.
gathering over Bolivia — both economically and politi­ World capitalism cannot escape the dollar’s role as the
cally; and that sooner or later, the crisis will break, as has world reserve currency. The attempt by the French and
happened in Peru. For the time being, the country has been German bourgeoisie to establish a European “joint float”
partly shielded from reality by the high price of tin. When against the dollar is a last-ditch effort to avoid drowning in
this declines — either in response to deepening reces­ a sea of greenbacks. But to this day, over 80 percent of the
sionary trends or following the release of significant stock­ world’s currency reserves are held in dollars. The closest
piles of tin from the United States’ strategic stockpile — competitor, the Deutsche-mark, accounts for only 6.7
the International Monetary Fund’s now familiar road show percent.
will doubtless swing into action, accompanied by the The dollar cannot be replaced. No other currency or bloc
Fund’s usual calls for austerity...” of currencies occupies a position in the world economy
Brazil reveals more sharply than any other country the comparable to that of U.S. imperialism during the 1940s
utterly fraudulent character of so-called “economic and 1950s. U.S. imperialism, which held 75 percent of the
development” during the postwar boom. world’s gold hoard at the end of the war, failed ultimately
in its attempts to bankroll the world. How can far weaker
With the masses suffering under the merciless Geisel countries hope to succeed today under conditions of world
dictatorship, the international banks invested heavily in slump?
Braxil. The more barbaric the conditions imposed by the
Brazilian military and its favorite “death squads,” the The Franco-German plan drawn up on the eve of the
more lucrative became the investments of foreign banks. Bonn summit can do nothing to stabilize the capitalist
Now the Wall Street bankers are terrified by the monetary system. The $50 billion fund being considered is
consequences of their own policies; the international debt a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the tidal wave let
of Brazil has reached $31.2 billion. A default by Brazil loose by the dollar’s collapse. The plan is a sign of the
would threaten the entire structure of world banking; but irreversible breakdown of the monetary system and the
the worsening slump is cutting off export markets required plunge into full-scale trade war, with the formation of rival
by the country to obtain the earnings needed to repay its currency blocs. Meanwhile, more than $610 billion in U.S.
debt. paper dollars and credit notes are held in the Eurocur­
The job of the IMF is to secure Wall Street’s invest­ rency markets. This mass of unregulated, inconvertible
ments from default at any price. It functions as nothing and virtually worthless paper money is like a giant
else than the economic arm of the U.S. imperialist counter­ wrecking ball swinging wildly through the world currency
revolution, whose political arm is the CIA. The role of the markets and bashing up the structure of international
latter is to work to set up the type of brutal regimes that finance.
can implement the policies demanded by the IMF. The This underscores the relative predominance of U.S.
regimes of Pinochet and Videla are the models which imperialism over its rivals. By normal standards — volume
Yankee imperialism in alliance with the native bourgeoisie of trade, gross national product — the specific weight of the
intends to reproduce throughout Latin America and the U.S. economy has declined. Japan and West Germany
world. have trade surpluses and stronger currencies. But what
were once assets have now become debits. Their trade
But the dictates of the IMF are now pitching one country surpluses become the vehicle for destroying their trade
after another towards open civil war. Insurrectionary entirely, as they face the threat of being cut off from the
battles broke out in the streets of the major cities of Peru; a their biggest market — the United States. The strength of
massive strike wave has swept Brazil; mass riots greeted their currencies prices their goods out of the world market.
IMF-dictated cuts in food subsidies in Egypt; powerful The weaknesses of U.S. imperialism — its falling cur­
labor struggles have swept Bolivia and Colombia and rency, its record trade deficit — become its greatest
armed struggle has gripped Nicaragua. The growing revolu­ weapons vis-a-vis its capitalist rivals. U.S. imperialism
tionary upsurge of the Latin American masses is now remains the dominant imperialist power, but it maintains
decisively undermining the position of U.S. imperialism. that domination, not by stabilizing the world economy, but
13

by destroying it. them out. This is what lies behind the growing demands by
At the same time, the destructive forces let loose by U.S. sections of the ruling class for full-scale trade warfare and
imperialism on the world economy rebound against it with the instituting of a “siege economy.”
devastating impact. U.S. imperialism cannot insulate itself U.S. imperialism is not a vibrant, young capitalism
from the economic and political shock waves now rocking with an expanding home market, an entire continent to the
world capitalism. south to be exploited at will and enormous reserves of
In the 1920s, during its rise to world hegemony, U.S. wealth to fall back on. One after another, these props are
imperialism was able to “put Europe on rations.” Even gone. Rather, it is a decrepit power, haunted by the
then, the collapse of European capitalism dealt a stag­ upsurge of the world revolution. The more it is forced to
gering blow to U.S. imperialism in 1929 from which it lash out at its rivals, the more it sticks the knife into its
nearly did not recover. own belly.
Today, the links of U.S. imperialism to the world The relentless intensification of the crisis now leaves it
economy are a thousand times greater. It is the very center only one option — to prepare the most brutal counter­
of the world crisis, the pressure cooker for all the enormous revolutionary measures against the working class of Europe
contradictions ripping the system apart. and Japan, against the national liberation struggles of the
The objective development of the crisis drives U.S. masses of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America and
imperialism, not to place its rivals on rations, but to starve against the working class of the United States.
14

The Rise and Fall of the Dollar Republic


The United States is entering a period of ted Carter by voting down a contract which he had specifi­
the greatest social and revolutionary cally praised.
During the last week of September, railroad workers
upheaval in its history. The disintegration of responded to a Presidential invocation of a state of emer­
world capitalism is shattering all the gency to end their strike by extending the area of picket­
material bases for compromise between the ing.
bourgeoisie and the working class. The over­ Section after section of the labor movement has come
forward to smash Carter’s wage guidelines. The 52-day
riding necessity facing the U.S. ruling class strike against American Cyanamid was followed by the
and the Carter administration is the brutal longest nationwide strike in Teamster history. The final
lowering of living standards through delib­ nail in the coffin was driven by the rubber workers,
erate slump-recession policies and uncon­ especially the Uniroyal strikers who won a contract
settlement totalling over 40 percent for three years.
trolled inflation. Shipyard workers in Newport News, Virginia striking for
The growth of mass unemployment combined with union recognition, and striking dairy drivers and school bus
an almost daily depreciation in the purchasing power drivers in New York battled hundreds of state and city
of workers’ wages will be the immediate outcome of police who were mobilized to protect government organized
the policies now being pursued by the Carter scabbing.
administration. These attempts to drive down living In embarking upon a whole new stage of political
standards will themselves be augmented by the struggle, the working class is responding to the impact of
introduction of wage controls — first as “voluntary the world crisis and moving as part of the forces of the
guidelines” introduced with the concent of the trade world revolution.
union bureaucracy and then, not long after, as legal The transformed practice of millions of workers has
statutes outlawing collective bargaining. prepared for a mass awakening of political consciousness.
No choice is left open to the ruling class except to The emergence of a mass political movement for a break
attempt the imposition of the full burden of this crisis upon with the capitalist parties and the construction of a Labor
the back of the working class. The land of unlimited Party to force Carter out will signify the beginning of the
opportunity is now being ruthlessly transformed into the social revolution in the United States.
land of no opportunity. American capitalism must now There is not the slightest element of exaggeration or false
proceed to extract an awful toll in human suffering from optimism in this assessment. This revolutionary perspec­
workers and their families. tive takes as its point of departure the objective develop­
But this means an outbreak of social warfare between ment of the world crisis. Only in this way can the develop­
classes whose only precedent in American history is the ment of the working class itself be understood.
Civil War of 1861-1865. An opposite and reactionary method is expressed by the
Millions of workers are being thrust, many for the first preoccupation of radicals, revisionists and Stalinists with
time in their lives, into bitter strikes. Though starting the “history of the American working class” as such. This
usually from disputes over basic contract issues, these idealist approach is entirely bound up with the desire to
struggles rapidly escalate into direct struggles against the deduce some sort of “American exceptionalism” from their
Carter administration and the capitalist state, which own crude subjective impressions of the contradictory
serves as the executive committee o^the ruling class. development of the class struggle in the United States.
The 111-day miners strike signalled the entrance of the The history of the working class can be grasped only in
American working class onto the stage of political struggle. its dialectical relationship to the growth of the productive
This strike was an implicit challenge to the authority of the forces of American capitalism. But the United States
capitalist state. For weeks the Carter administration cannot be understood except from the standpoint of the
agonized over the question of whether it should issue a history of European capitalism and the growth of the world
Taft-Hartley “back-to-work” order. When it finally market.
obtained this injunction, the miners unanimously defied That theories of American exceptionalism are worthless
the chief executive of the capitalist state. should be virtually self-evident from the fact that the “New
The intransigence of the miners cannot be explained as World” could never have been discovered, let alone develop
the product of their exceptional militancy. What appears in accordance with “exceptional laws,” had not the “Old
as “exceptional” in the miners is in fact the sharpest World,” in line with the laws of historical development,
expression of the actual stage at which the class struggle begun to break out of the constraints of feudalism and
has arrived in the United States. reached a certain level in the growth of the productive
This is proven by the entire course that the class struggle forces.
has taken in the United States since the conclusion of the If there is anything that is “exceptional” or “peculiar” to
miners strike. America it is this: that the laws of the development of
A nationwide postal strike was averted only through the world capitalism have worked themselves out most fully
treachery of the bureaucracy. The postal workers humilia­ and found their highest expression in this country.
15
The vast transformations of the productive forces on a
Th e D e ve lo p m e n t o f U .S . Capitalism world scale that were taking place in the mid-19th century
were making it impossible for capitalism and slavery to
The United States (and, indeed, the entire North Ameri­ continue coexisting within the United States. Slavery had
can continent) was ideally suited for the development of become an absolute historical obstacle to the further
capitalism. Its huge territories and unlimited natural development of the productive forces. These were the
resources provided it with the material resources for large unseen forces which drove the United States inexorably
scale agricultural production and raw material extraction. towards the “irrepressible conflict.”
A large population insured a ready market at home for The old political parties, Democrat and Whig, which
manufactured goods. based themselves on the compromise between these two
Historically, as well, the American bourgeoisie inherited antagonistic social systems, were practically overnight
important advantages. Whatever obstacles it did encounter supplanted by the Republican Party, which was thrown up
on the road of historical development, it was able to in 1854 as the combat party of the Northern bourgeoisie
overcome far more decisively, and ruthlessly, than any and swept to power six years later.
other capitalist class. Men make history, but not under conditions of their own
From the beginning of colonization, in the New World, choosing. When the South rebelled and seceded from the
capitalist relations were already being laid. This was the Union following Lincoln’s election, the North set out to
product of the great bourgeois revolutions in Europe, parti­ preserve the union. But though Lincoln and others firmly
cularly those of England and Holland. As well, the first disavowed it at the beginning, the preservation of the
settlers — Pilgrims and other religious sects — brought Union demanded the systematic destruction of slavery —
with them an ideology of possessive individualism that is, the carrying out of a profound social revolution.
supremely suited to a nation of small capitalist farmers, One recent historican remarked: “The country had entered
artisans, and merchants. upon a revolution, even though it was not quite clear just
It was the further development of world capitalism, espe­ who was making the revolution or whom the revolution was
cially the expansion of world trade, which brought the directed against, and it would at last wring from Lincoln
colonial bourgeoisie into conflict with the British crown the bitter cry (in which austere Davis might well have
over the restrictions it imposed on trade by the 13 colonies. joined) that he could not claim to have controlled events
The New England merchants, in alliance with the planter but must admit rather that events had controlled him.”
aristocracy in the South, rose up against the British yoke In the land where the bourgeoisie has waged the most
and by mobilizing masses of small farmers and artisans persistent ideological struggle against materialist dialec­
into a revolutionary army, succeeded in gaining indepen­ tics, the dialectic of historical development has asserted
dence. This social revolution cleared the way for the itself most powerfully.
development of commerce and agriculture in the coming In the end, the industrial might of the North, itself a
period. In this great Revolution, the European contribu­ reflection of the superiority of the capitalist mode of
tion to the political philosophy of the fight against the production over the slave system, proved a far more deci­
Crown was of immense significance. But the struggle of the sive factor than the military talents of the Southern
Americans had its impact in Europe. What had been called generals.
the “rights of Englishmen” was transformed into the more
universal “Rights of Man.” Following the defeat of the Secessionist states, the
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the Northern bourgeoisie destroyed root and branch the socio­
compromise that had been forged between the Southern economic basis of the slavocracy during the period of
Slavocracy and the Northern bourgeoisie began to break “Reconstruction.” The slaves were freed and the planta­
down. The driving force behind this conflict was the tion owners were expropriated. The victorious Northern
profound changes taking place within world capitalism. bourgeoisie used the combined tactics of imposing mili­
This is how one Civil War historian explained it: tary dictatorships on the Southern states and simul­
“The America which had seemed as pastoral as Eden taneously mobilizing the freed slaves and poor white
was becoming a very different sort of place, and the condi­ farmers in order to politically suppress the former slave­
tions under which slavery existed grew extremely complex; owners. The Civil War and Reconstruction accomplished
and presently the very forces that made slavery more and their task — they wiped chattel slavery off the face of the
more of an anachronism worked powerfully to keep it alive. North American continent for all time. At the cost of over
Modern industrialism, taking shape beyond the seas but one million dead, capitalism had established itself more
touching America as well, exerted a pressure beneath thoroughly and more completely in the United States than
which the Southern states of America were all but in any other country.
helpless...
“A profound change was taking place. Because of such Once the job was done and the bourgeoisie was assured of
unconsidered factors as the invention of the steam engine, its unchallenged supremacy throughout the Union, Recon­
the development of semi-automatic machinery, the growth struction was wound up. Sections of the former Southern
of world-wide systems of cheap transportation and finance, Slavocracy were integrated into the network of capitalist
and the opening of limitless markets that had never existed relations, becoming the minor partners and political repre­
before, the existence of the industrial nation became sentatives of the Northern bourgeoisie in the South.
possible. It was possible, that is, for a busy nation to Having no further need of the support of the freed slaves
sustain itself by selling, to a market beyond its own and poor farmers, the Radical Republican agrarian and
borders, goods made from raw materials which it did not democratic program of Reconstruction was uncere­
produce. To a certain extent what was happening in moniously scrapped and gave way to Jim-Crowism and
America now — what was putting the 1860 election outside clubhouse politics.
of political rationality — was simply a reflection of this Having completed the bourgeois revolution through the
fact.” Civil War and Reconstruction, the bourgeoisie turned its
16
energy toward the serious business of enriching itself in the powers led by Great Britain. The newer, more dynamic
latter part of the 19th century. industrial powers such as Germany and Japan were
By the turn of the century, the old Jeffersonian ideal of a starving for lack of colonies to exploit. Consequently, the
nation of small farmers was gone forever. The urban world had to be redivided — a violent struggle broke out
population began to predominate over the countryside. The aimed at reestablishing a new equilibrium for the world
concentration of capital was creating the modern division of labor to the advantage of one group of imper­
monopolies and trusts over the corpses of the small ialist powers at the expense of their competitors.
businessmen. Millions from the farms and small towns Yet the First World War proved far most costly and
were being drawn into the ranks of the proletariat in the longer than anyone had anticipated. To finance their war
large cities. Among the farmers and sections of the urban efforts, the European countries had to divert enormous
petty bourgeoisie, populism sprang up as a protest against revenue and manpower from basic production into the war
the development of monopoly capitalism. enterprises. The result of the war was the impoverishment
This development was concurrent with America’s emer­ of Europe. Both victors and vanquished suffered a sharp
gence as one of the strongest industrial powers of the world. deterioration of national wealth, productive capacity and
In the period from 1869 to 1901, the U.S. gross national faced enormous debts.
product rose from $9.1 billion to $37.1 billion. Farming But chief among the costs to imperialism was the
continued to provide a steady source of income, but it was victorious October Revolution. The specter that had
manufactured goods and transportation (chiefly rails) haunted Europe since 1848 had been given materiality
which saw the greatest expansion. through the practice of the Russian working class, led by
From 1865 to 1900 total exports increased in value from the Bolshevik party. This wrenched from capitalism one-
$281 million to $1,394 billion. In fact, a fundamental sixth of the earth’s land, at the very point in history when
change had taken place — the United States was producing the entire globe had already proved too small to allow
a greater value of goods than was consumed domestically. further imperialist expansion.
This dictated a fundamental change in U.S. foreign But more important than the loss of potential markets
policy. As long as there was still a frontier left to conquer was the threat of world revolution itself. Every decision
and a home market large enough to consume the products made by world imperialism from that point on took into
of U.S. industry, the U.S. bourgeoisie had little concern account that threat. What the backward masses of Russia
with foreign relations aside from assuring that there was no had done, so the workers of the industrial countries could
external threat to its development. In fact, as late as 1880, do. Only the betrayal of the parties of the Second Interna­
the only thing that President Rutherford B. Hayes could tional and the absence of experienced Bolshevik parties
say about foreign relations in his annual message to saved European capitalism from the “Red Plague” in 1918-
Congress was that “our relations with all foreign countries 1919, and they lived from then on in its shadow.
have been those of undisturbed peace.” While Europe emerged from the war about one-third
As far as Latin America was concerned, U.S. policy was poorer than she was prior to it, America had cor­
opposed to efforts by major European powers, especially respondingly grown, and at the direct expense of Europe.
Great Britain, to penetrate the region. In fact, Lincoln and By 1920 America had entered onto the high road of world
the Northern bourgeoisie had welcomed and deliberately imperialism, having emerged from the war as the single
encouraged the bourgeois democratic revolutionary most powerful imperialist power and the only one in an
movement of Benito Juarez in Mexico, as a counter-weight economic position to dictate conditions to the rest of the
to efforts by France to control the country. capitalist world.
But by the turn of the century the U.S. had entered full- Corresponding to its economic ascendancy, American
scale into the world market. The search for new markets to capitalism rapidly expanded its military and state
plunder and new areas for the investment of capital machine. Whereas before the war, the American fleet was
brought the U.S. into contention with the older imperialist 1/7 that of Great Britain’s, by the end of the war, it was
powers of Europe as their newest rival. comparable to Britain’s. Yet the rise of America as the
U.S. foreign policy began to actively pursue a predatory leading imperialist power proceeded side by side with the
and militarist character. The Spanish-American war and rise of American “pacifist” ideology. The American
the seizure of Panama soon established the U.S. as the bourgeoisie used the peculiarities of its historical develop­
leading imperialist power exploiting the resources of South ment, its relatively isolated development throughout the
and Central America and extending its influence across the 19th century and its belated entry into the brigandage of
Pacific Ocean as far as the Philippines. Latin America the planet, to camouflage its ruthlessness.
became the source of immense superprofits for Yankee The history of the interwar years was largely the history
imperialism. The Caribbean was turned into little more of the working out of the irresolvable contradictions of U.S.
than an American lake, Puerto Rico became a U.S. colony imperialism. Throughout the 1920s the American
and Cuba little more than that. bourgeoisie proceeded on a strategy of putting Europe on
By the time of the First World War, the United States rations. Desperate to maintain the wartime export market
was a full-fledged imperialist power. Its empire did not so in Europe, U.S. imperialism allowed Europe to rise again,
much consist of conquered territories (even in Latin backed by American credit and investment. At the same
America, it annexed relatively ltttle land.) It consisted time, very definite limits were dictated beyond which the
much more in establishing whole regions of the globe where European bourgeoisie could not go. Thereby, the American
capital could be exported and natural resources and cheap bourgeoisie sought to keep for itself a lion’s share of the
labor exploited without hindrance. world market.
The First World War signalled the fact that capitalism American capitalism now became the source of the crisis
had reached its historical limits as a progressive social of world imperialism. The decline in world trade and
system. The entire world had become too narrow for the investment in turn, soon reverberated back into the United
further growth of capitalist exploitation. The world had States. Once the boom of the 1920s had reached its peak,
been divided among a tiny group of older imperialist the collapse of world trade by the end of the decade threw
17
the bottom out of American capitalism. militant workers. They provided the yeast for the develop­
Practically overnight, industry had come to a standstill. ment of the early socialist and communist movements.
National income plummetted from a total of $81 billion in Furthermore, a large section of the left-wing of the workers’
1919 to $40 billion in 1932. Some 20 million workers were movement was comprised of foreign born workers, this
unemployed, ten times the number during the previous being the inevitable expression of the fact that the working
decade. The myth of a benevolent American capitalism class population was swelled by the immigration of millions
leading the rest of the capitalist world out of the dark ages from all parts of Europe. For the most part, the American
of poverty and war was shattered. Shattered likewise was Federation of Labor remained utterly indifferent to the fate
the old basis of class collaboration. If the American bour­ of the hundreds of thousands herded into the factories of
geoisie was to ward off the “European” specter of social basic industry. The attention of men such as Gompers —
revolution as well as its radical, if unpleasant “cure,” fas­ the teacher of George Meany — was fixed on the mainten­
cism, then it had to find new forms of class rule. ance of small craft unions.
The European bourgeoisie had no choice but to swallow The many bitter experiences made by the working class
the fascist “medicine.” (The betrayal of social democracy in the pre-World War I period, the excruciating difficulties
and Stalinism sealed the fate of the European proletariat confronted in each struggle against the employers, reflected
for an entire generation.) The American bourgeoisie, the fact that U.S. capitalism occupied such a powerful
however, had one advantage over their European col­ position in a world capitalist system still in the period of its
leagues. American capitalism still had a huge reserve of ascendancy.
wealth accumulated in the past. A portion of this wealth Great changes began at the end of World War I. In the
could be called on to artifically stimulate the economy and general revolutionary upsurge launched by the October
finance, though on a very meager scale, a number of social Revolution, the American working class sought to move
programs. On this basis the American bourgeoisie hoped to forward. In an action of unprecedented daring, steel
reestablish a new basis for class collaboration. This policy workers’ leaders decided to call a national strike against
was the essence of Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” A senile the Great Steel Trust. Begun in the summer of 1919, it
capitalism was being kept alive by feeding off the fat it had mobilized 300,000 workers in the greatest strike in U.S.
accumulated in its youth. history. The capitalist class met it with characteristic
brutality. It declared martial law in many areas, whipped
up anti-communist hysteria in the middle class and used
hoardes of police and strikebreakers. Eventually, the steel
Th e Em ergence o f th e W orkin g Class workers were defeated.
The conditions facing the labor movement worsened
We have so far traced certain aspects of the economic during the boom of the 1920s. The boom itself was a conse­
development of U.S. capitalism after the Civil War. But, of quence in many respects of the defeat of the German
course, it must be recognized that the most significant working class in 1923 and the restabilization of European
product of the Civil War, arising out of the growth of indus­ capitalism. The unions which existed in the United States
try, was the real development of the working class as a lost members. The United Mine Workers was among the
powerful social force increasingly conscious of its own hardest hit — losing the bulk of its members in Appala­
distinct interests. The sectional divisions receded from chia. During this entire period, there never once emerged a
everyday consciousness in the decade following the war. powerful movement for an independent labor party, and it
But what emerged more and more openly within American is hardly surprising in so far as the industrial working class
society were the fundamental class divisions. — the bedrock of independent class politics — remained
From the emergence of the National Labor Union in 1866 largely unorganized. As for the impressive development of
until the outbreak of the railroad strike of 1877, the forma­ the early socialist parties — particularly that of Debs —
tion of the working class proceeded with extreme rapidity between 1900 and 1912, these movements represented, in a
— a reflection of the monumental strides being taken by certain sense, the fusion of the old agrarian populism with
capitalism itself. The events of 1877 arising out of the certain sections of workers activated by the struggles of the
railroad strike marked a blood-soaked beginning of heroic IWW and, of course, the more radical elements to be found
working class struggles which would not achieve their among the foreign-born workers.
culmination in the cherished goal of industrial organiza­ The real beginning of a great independent movement by
tion until some 60 years later. The decisive stages of these the industrial working class came in the wake of the
struggles in the early period was the political movement for spectacular collapse of Wall Street in 1929 and the onset of
the eight-hour-day which led up to the notorious Haymar- the Great Depression. After an initial shock left by the
ket provocation of May 1886 and the great Pullman strike numbing impact of mass unemployment (15 to 20 million
of 1894 led by Eugene Debs. workers without jobs), the working class went into action in
The whole history of this period in the development of 1934 with three historic struggles: the Toledo Auto-Lite
the American working class is one of incomparable mili­ strike, the Minneapolis General Strike (led by the Trotsky­
tancy and sacrifice. The central issue in all these struggles ist movement) and the San Francisco General Strike.
was the fight for organization — the recognition of a union These explosions, producing notable victories, created the
and the right to negotiate agreements on wages and impetus for the founding in 1935 of the Committee for
working conditions. But the working class came up against Industrial Organization. The CIO was built as the outcome
the awesome power of American capitalism whose leading of a split inside the AFL whose leadership remained ada­
representatives — Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller and mantly opposed to any industrial organization.
DuPont — ruthlessly suppressed one industrial uprising It was in the United States that an entirely new form of
after another. industrial struggle emerged — the sit-down strike which
An important aspect of these early struggles in the late made its first appearance in an Akron rubber plant in 1934.
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was that most of This was not accidental. The American worker was forged
these struggles were led by a relatively small section of in the development of U.S. capitalist industry and techno­
18

logy. His whole existence as a worker was entirely bound up the outbreak of the Second World War and the entrance of
with the development of the most advanced techniques of the Roosevelt Administration into the war. It was the war
production. Thus, as soon as the workers recovered from which enabled the American bourgeoisie to finally alle­
the first great shock of the Depression, they moved to viate the economic recession on the basis of vast war expen­
regain their position and conquer new ones by seizing the ditures. Furthermore, the Communist Party of the United
means of production. States — working in accordance with the counter-revolu-
In the wave of industrial struggles which followed the tionary policies of the Soviet bureaucracy — used its then-
formation of the CIO, corporations which had ruled over powerful position in the CIO to dragoon the working class
workers as bastions of anti-unionism for decades were into the war and then subordinate it entirely to the Soviet-
smashed into submission overnight. imperialist alliance during the war.
This is how Cannon described it: “American capitalism
took millions of bare-footed country boys from the bank­ But once the American working class had organized
rupted farms of the country; put shoes on them and itself, things could never be the same again. Even at the
marched them into regimented ranks of socially-operated height of the war, while the Stalinists and CIO bureau­
modern industry; wet them in the rain of the assembly line; crats were enforcing the “no-strike” pledge, the miners
starved them on the bread-line; mistreated and abused staged a powerful strike in 1943. Finally, with the end of
them; and finally succeeded in pounding them into a the war, the biggest strike wave in history engulfed the
coherent body which emerged as a section of the most country, as millions of workers demonstrated their
powerful and militant trade union movement the world has incomparable determination to consolidate the gains made
ever known. through the founding of the unions.
“American capitalism took hundreds of thousands of The postwar period opened up a whole new stage in the
Negroes from the South, and exploiting their ignorance, working class movement. Its significance, however, has
and their poverty, and their fears, and their individual been totally distorted by the Stalinists and revisionists in
helplessness, herded them into the steel mills as strike­ such a way as to write off the revolutionary role of the
breakers in the steel strike of 1919. And in the brief space of American working class. This is intimately bound up with
one generation, by its mistreatment, abuse and exploita­ attempts, particularly by the revisionists, to deny that the
tion of these innocent and ignorant Negro strike-breakers, postwar development of world capitalism was essentially a
this same capitalism succeeded in transforming them and compounding of its crisis and a deepening of its death
their sons into one of the most militant and reliable detach­ agony.
ments of the great victorious steel strike of 1946. The 1950s and 1960s are largely presented as a period of
“This same capitalism took tens of thousands and right-wing backlash, McCarthyism, the driving of
hundreds of thousands of prejudiced hill-billies from the militants out of positions of leadership in the unions, etc.
South, many of them members and sympathizers of the Ku — in short, as a complete repudiation of the great mili­
Klux Klan; and thinking to use them, with their ignor­ tancy shown in the initial CIO upsurge. An expression of
ance and their prejudices, as a barrier against unionism, this outlook by the Socialist Workers Party in the early
sucked them into the auto and rubber factories of Detroit, 1950s was its position that McCarthyism represented the
Akron and other industrial centers. There it sweated them, onset of fascism in the United States. Even more serious, in
humiliated them and made new men out of them. In that the years to come after the SWP’s break with the
harsh school the imported southerners learned to exchange International Committee of the Fourth International and
the insignia of the KKK for the union button of the CIO, its abandonment of Trotskyism, was its writing off of the
and to turn the Klansman’s fiery cross into a bonfire to working class as a revolutionary force. This was used to
warm pickets at a factory gate... justify the revisionists’ adaptation to all sorts of middle
“The American working class covered the great distance class protest movements — student power, black nation­
from atomization, from non-existence as an organized alism, feminism, etc.
force, to trade union consciousness and organization, in one In fact, the postwar development of the U.S. working
gigantic leap, in one brief decade.” class can only be understood within the framework of the
The building of the CIO represented a monumental deepening crisis of U.S. and world imperialism following
historical achievement of the American working class and a the Bretton Woods agreements and its conscious policy of
great conquest of the international working class. This was retreat before the strength of the international working
especially true in light of the fact that it took place under class, and above all, the American working class.
conditions of historic defeats of the European working There was, of course, a degree of reaction in this period,
class. However, this powerful movement which, as Trotsky on the basis of the capitalist boom and, at the same time,
said, represented the most “indisputable expression of the there was no spectacular movement in the working class of
instinctive striving of the American workers to raise them­ the kind that had taken place during the sit-down strikes.
selves to the level of the tasks imposed on them by history,” But the fact is that the struggles of the working class to
stopped short of the building of an independent labor party consolidate the CIO, to build up its standard of living, to
and a break with the Democratic Party of Roosevelt. defend its collective bargaining rights and its contracts —
This was not, however, the product of the so-called all this represented an enormous advance based on the con­
“backwardness” of the American working class. It was the quests of the CIO movement. The 1950s and the 1960s were
reflection of the immense objective weight of the counter­ not lived in vain, as the revisionists and Stalinists would
revolution upon the development of the class struggle in have us believe. The working class built up its living stan­
the United States. The forestalling of the labor party dards, and made decisive gains like the Master Freight
movement was chiefly due to the defeats of the working contract of the Teamsters, the Guaranteed Annual Income
class in Europe and the terrible counter-revolutionary of the longshoremen, and the spread of the union shop to
betrayals of the working class by the Stalinist bureauc­ wide sections of industry and to the public services, where
racy. The defeats of the European working class led to both unions had never existed before.
19

In all these gains, the working class, however The development of a mass movement in the working
silently, was carrying out its role as the gravedigger of class for the building of a Labor Party and the opening up
capitalism. of the struggle for power cannot be understood as a return
If it didn’t look like the 1930s, it was because the bour­ to the 1930s. It is, certainly, the outcome of the 1930s but it
geoisie felt obliged to retreat and cling to the inflationary also contains within it all subsequent developments — all
framework of Bretton Woods. These gains by the U.S. the rich lessons and history of struggles to consolidate the
working class, and by the workers in western Europe and unions and the militant battles to defend basic rights.
Japan, not to speak of the advances made in the planned This emerges so clearly in the fact that the high standard
economies of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China, of living of the worker, for a long time the most
continuously undermined imperialism and vastly conservative element of his thinking, now becomes the
strengthened the emerging national liberation move­ driving force for his political awakening as he has to defend
ments. it from the attacks of the ruling class and the capitalist
state. This explains the enormous militancy demonstrated
The approach to history which writes off this period is by workers throughout the last year in strike after strike,
entirely subjective. Contained in this period is the buildup their rebellion against the labor bureaucracy and their
of the quantitative changes which ultimately produced a fierce intransigence.
qualitative leap. Throughout this entire period, the The 1930s do not live in the consciousness of the working
American working class, whatever the lag of its conscious­ class simply as some recollections about the heroic sit-
ness, remained the most decisive pillar of the world down strikes, but in all the gains they have made since
revolution. then, in their own experiences of struggle. That is why the
1930s can be negated in the great new movement of the
This relationship between the struggles of the working working class today, (the movement to its political
class and the crisis of imperialism became clear in the independence and to the struggle for power) and the revolu­
1960s — in the explosions of black workers and youth in the tionary energy and dynamism of that period can and will
ghettoes, in the powerful strike movement in the U.S. espe­ be carried forward on an entirely new basis.
cially after 1966 and in the massive movement of the prole­ It is within this context that the present struggles of the
tariat of Western Europe especially the May-June events in working class and the confrontation with the Carter
France in 1968. administration must be grasped.

H istorical Background and Political


Significance o f th e Fig h t fo r th e Lab o r P a r ty
The working class has come to a historic turning point. importance of fighting for an independent party of the
For forty years, it has been able to make gains and defend working class:
its rights through trade union struggle. But the onrush of
the crisis now means that the militant trade unionism of “The rottenest side of the K. of L. (Knights of Labor)
the past, though an absolutely essential prerequisite, is by was their political neutrality ... but the edge of this has
itself today completely inadequate to stop the attacks of been taken off by the behavior of the masses in the Novem­
the ruling class. ber elections, especially in New York. The first great step of
The working class now confronts the task of construct­ importance for every country newly entering into the
ing an independent labor party. This represents an entirely movement is always the constitution of the workers as an
new stage in the movement of the working class, the nega­ independent political party, no matter how, so long as it is
tion of the whole period opened up by the founding of the a distinct workers’ party. And this step has been taken,
CIO. Once again the United States faces an irrepressible much more rapidly than we had a right to expect, and that
conflict. The massive wave of militant trade union strug­ is the main thing.”
gles is the run-up to an enormous political conflagration as In fighting the prevalent sectarianism of the supporters
the working class moves to wrench itself free from the of Marxism within the United States (largely, then,
stranglehold of capitalist politics. The building of a Labor German emigre circles with little contact with the
Party means the transition to the struggle for power. American working class) Engels stressed:
The demand for a Labor Party goes back to the earliest “The great thing is to get the working class to move, as a
days of the development of the American working class. class; that once obtained they will soon find the right
The first big upsurge of labor struggle in the post-Civil War direction, and all who resist, H.G. (Henry George) or
period — the national rail strike of 1877, the fight for the Powderly (leader of the Knights of Labor) will be left out in
eight-hour day and the formation of the Knights of Labor the cold with small sects of their own . . . ”
— saw the emergence for the first time of support among Engels was absolutely right — “the great thing is to get
sections of the working class for independent political the working class to move as a class.” But this was even­
action. This took the form of a number of labor candidates tually to emerge not on the plane of politics but in the
running for office against the Democrats and Republicans, movement to build industrial trade unions. Before it was
among them Henry George who ran for mayor in New York possible to build a national labor party, it was necessary to
in 1886 and won 70,000 votes. construct a national labor movement. The first experi­
Friedrich Engels, writing to the German-American ments in independent labor political action failed pre­
Marxist F.A. Sorge in New York at the time, stressed the cisely because vast sections of the working class, in the
20

early period of labor struggles, lacked any form of death agony of capitalism and the crisis of American
independent organization. imperialism.
This remained the fundamental obstacle to the building The development of America as the leading imperialist
of a Labor Party right up through the 1930s. Each time a power meant that it had to absorb within its class relations
major upsurge of the struggle swept the working class — as at home all the insoluble contradictions of world capital­
in 1919, with the national steel and coal strikes, the general ism. All the historical privileges employed by the American
strike in Seattle and the textile strike in Lawrence, Massa­ bourgeoisie to contain the working class, particularly its
chusetts — demands immediately surfaced throughout the ability to prevent the development of an independent labor
country for the formation of a third party. But the defeat party, were being transformed into their opposites.
by U.S. capital of the fight for unions by industrial workers The volcanic explosions by which the American working
led to the dissolution of nascent labor party formations. class had shattered the decades-long resistance of the bour­
Nonetheless, Lenin and the leaders of the Communist geoisie to the building of industrial unions indicated that
International fought against the tendency of the leaders of the ability of the bourgeoisie to hold back the working class
the young American Communist Party to oppose the politically was quickly being exhausted.
demand for a Labor Party. They urged the Communist In discussion with SWP leaders in 1938, Trotsky posed
Party to adopt the demand for a Labor Party and fight for the emergence of a Labor Party in the following way:
it in the working class as part of a strategy to win over the “Now in the United States we can say that the charac­
leadership of masses of workers. teristic features of English development are presented in
It was the great struggles to found the CIO in the mid even more concentrated form in a shorter period because
and late 1930s which again placed the issue of the forma­ the whole history of the United States is shorter.
tion of a labor party on the agenda for millions of workers. Practically, the development of the trade unions in the
United States began after the Civil War but these trade
unions were very backward even compared with the trade
unions of Great Britain. To a great degree they were mixed
T r o ts k y 's C o n trib u tio n trade unions of employers and employees, not fighting,
militant trade unions. They were sectional and tiny. They
These were the conditions in which Trotsky made a were based on the craft system not according to industry,
decisive contribution to the revolutionary movement in the and we see that it is only during the last two or three years
United States, in his formulation of the fight for a labor that the genuine trade unions developed in the United
party. States. This new movement is the CIO.
The issue had arisen soon after the founding of the Left “What is the reason for the appearance of the CIO? It is
Opposition in the United States. In discussions with the decay of American capitalism. In Great Britain the
American comrades in 1932, Trotsky did not favor beginning of the decay of the capitalist system forced the
advancing the slogan for a Labor Party. existing trade unions to unite into a political party. In the
In his 1938 discussion with the leaders of the SWP, he United States, the same phenomena — the beginning of
referred to this earlier period: “This question is very impor­ the decline — produced only the industrial trade unions,
tant and very complicated. When for the first time the but these unions appeared on the scene only in time to
(Communist) League (of America) considered this meet the new chapter of the decline of capitalism, or —
question, some seven-eight years ago — whether we should more correct — we can say that the first crisis of 1929-1933
favor a labor party or not, whether we should develop gave the push and ended in the organization of the CIO.
initiative on this score, then the prevailing sentiment was But scarcely organized, the CIO meets the second crisis,
not to do it, and that was absolutely correct. The perspec­ 1937-1938 which continues and deepens.
tive for development was not clear, but I believe that the “What does this fact signify? That it was a long time in
majority of us hoped that the development of our own the United States before the organizations of trade unions
organization will be more speedy. On the other hand I but now that genuine trade unions exist, they must make
believe no one in our ranks foresaw during that period the the same evolution as the English trade unions. That is, on
appearance of the CIO with this rapidity and this power. In the basis of declining capital, they are forced to turn to
our perspective, we overestimated the possibility of the political action. I believe that this is the most important
development of our party at the expense of the Stalinists on fact of the whole matter.”
one hand, and on the other hand we didn’t see this powerful Within the SWP leadership, Shachtman, in particular,
trade union movement, and the rapid decline of American objected to the demand, claiming there was no support for
capitalism.” a labor party in the working class. Trotsky immediately
It was the transformation of the world political situa­ took up the fight against this impressionist position:
tion, and its reflection in the United States with the emer­ “We have no machine to take a referendum. We can
gence of the CIO, that now placed the Labor Party issue on measure the mood only by action if the slogan is put on the
the agenda. agenda. But what we can say is that the objective situation
Trotsky developed the demand for a Labor Party in the is absolutely decisive. The trade unions as trade unions can
U.S. as a special motion alongside the transitional have only a defensive activity, losing members and
program. He posed the demand for a labor party in opposi­ becoming more and more weak as the crisis deepens,
tion to all conceptions of a reformist solution to the crisis of creating more and more unemployed...
capitalism. For Trotsky, the demand for a Labor Party “I say here what I said about the whole program of
corresponded to the next step the American working class transitional demands. The problem is not the mood of the
would be forced to take on the road to the socialist revolu­ masses but the objective situation, and our job is to
tion. confront the backward material of the masses with the
It derived from a world historical analysis. It was never tasks which are determined by objective facts and not by
based on considerations of exceptional American condi­ psychology. The same is absolutely correct for this specific
tions, but was the outcome of his profound study of the question on the labor party. If the class struggle is not to be
21

crushed, replaced by demoralization, then the movement our slogan corresponds to the objective situation and the
must find a new channel and this channel is political. That best elements will understand and the most backward
is the fundamental argument in favor of this slogan.” elements who don’t understand will be compromised.
Trotsky showed that the development of this demand “In Minneapolis we cannot say to the trade unions you
was directly linked to the entire scientific world outlook of should adhere to the Socialist Workers Party. It would be a
Marxism, that a formal or impressionist approach on this joke even in Minneapolis. Why? Because the decline of
question was not just a difference on tactics but betrayed a capitalism develops ten — a hundred times faster than the
pragmatic method which, in fact, amounted to having no speed of our party. It is a new discrepancy. The necessity of
strategy for power in the United States: a political party for the workers is given by the objective
“We claim to have Marxism or Scientific Socialism. conditions, but our party is too small with too little
What does ‘Scientific Socialism’ signify in reality? It authority in order to organize the workers into its own
signifies that the party which represents this social science, ranks. That is why we must say to the workers, the masses,
departs, as every science not from subjective wishes, you must have a party. But we cannot say immediately to
tendencies or moods but from objective facts, from the these masses, you must join our party. In a mass meeting
material situation of the different classes and their rela­ 500 would agree on the need for a labor party, only five
tionships. Only by this method can we establish demands agree to join our party, which shows that the slogan of a
adequate to the objective situation and only after this can labor party is an agitational slogan. The second slogan is
we adapt these demands and slogans to the given mentality for the more advanced.
of the masses. But to begin with this mentality as the
fundamental fact would signify not a scientific but a “Should we use both slogans or one? I say both. The first,
conjunctural, demagogic or adventuristic policy. independent labor party, prepares the arena for our party.
“One can ask why we didn’t foresee this development The first slogan prepares and helps the workers to advance
five, six, seven years ago? Why did we declare during the and prepares the path for our party.”
past period that we were not willing to fight for this slogan Trotsky linked the demand for a labor party to agitation
of the labor party? The explanation is very simple. We were on the full program of transitional demands. He specifi­
absolutely sure, we Marxists, the initiators of the American cally proposed that agitation for a labor party be combined
movement for the Fourth International, that world capital­ with agitation for a workers’ militia and workers’ control of
ism had entered into a period of decline. That is the period production. The task of the revolutionary party was to
when the working class is objectively educated and moves translate into popular slogans the full objective revolu­
subjectively, preparing for the socialist revolution. The tionary content implied in the development of a labor
direction was the same in the United States, but the party.
question of direction is not sufficient. The other question is Whereas the working class, in the initial stage of its
the speed of its development; and in this respect, in view of break from capitalist politics, may perceive the labor party
the strength of American capitalism, some of us, and as an appendage to trade unionism, the revolutionary
myself included, imagined that the ability of American party, as it forges links with the mass movement, must
capitalism to resist against the destructive inner contra­ fight to break it from spontaneous illusions:
dictions would be greater and that for a certain period “These demands are transitory because they lead from
American capitalism might use the decline of European capitalist society to the proletarian revolution, a conse­
capital to cover a period of prosperity before its own quence insofar as they become the demands of the masses
decline. How long a period? Ten to thirty years one could as the proletarian government. We can’t stop only with the
say? Any way, I personally didn’t see that this sharp crisis day to day demands of the proletariat. We must give to the
or series of crises would begin in the next period and most backward workers some concrete slogans that corres­
become deeper and deeper. That is why eight years ago pond to their needs and that lead dialectically to the
when I discussed this same question with American conquest of power.”
comrades I was very cautious. I was very cautious in my Finally, Trotsky added one further point to his discus­
prognosis. My opinion was that we couldn’t foresee when sions on the labor party with SWP leaders: “Before
the American trade unions would come into a period where finishing — a correction in the formulation of the ques­
they could be forced into political action. If this critical tion: The labor party proposal is not a part of the program
period started in ten to fifteen years, then we, the revolu­ of transitional demands but is a special motion.”
tionary organization, could become a great power directly In other words, the labor party demand was not simply
influencing the trade unions and becoming the leading one among many demands advanced by the party. It was
force. the cornerstone of the strategy for the social revolution in
“Now we must not reckon by our prognosis of yesterday the United States. It was from this standpoint that Trotsky
but by the situation of today. American capitalism is very put forward the demand.
strong but its contradictions are stronger than capitalism
itself. The speed of decline came at American speed and Trotsky’s discussions on the labor party represented an
this created a new situation for the new trade unions, the immense contribution to the elaboration of a revolutionary
CIO even more than the AFL. In this situation it is worse perspective in the United States. This pioneer work was
for the CIO than the AFL because the AFL is more capable based on Trotsky’s vast historical experience in the
of resistance due to its aristocratic base. We must change Russian Revolution and the fight against Stalinism.
our program because the objective situation is totally Though presented in the somewhat fragmented form of
different from our former prognosis. discussions, his analysis was the most advanced ever made
“What does this signify? That we are sure the working of the crisis of U.S. imperialism and the place of the Ameri­
class — the trade unions will adhere to the slogan of the can proletariat in the world revolution. His work on the
labor party? No, we are not sure that the workers will labor party question represented the first systematic
adhere to the slogan of the labor party. When we begin the hammering out of a revolutionary strategy for the working
fight we cannot be sure of being victorious. We can only say class in the heartland of imperialism.
22

It was one of the most decisive contributions that road of independent political action on a mass scale. But
Trotsky made to the building of the revolutionary party in this weakness can be swiftly overcome. Under the compul­
the United States. His assassination in 1940 at the hands of sion of objective necessity not only backward peoples but
the Stalinist GPU was an especially terrible blow to the backward classes in advanced countries find themselves
American working class. driven to clear great distances in single leaps. As a matter
of fact, the American working class has already made one
such leap which has advanced it far ahead of its old
C an n o n 's "A m e ric a n T h e s e s " positions.”'
In the period during and following the Second World Thus Cannon pointed out: “The hopeless contradictions
War, James P. Cannon tried to take forward Trotsky’s work of American capitalism, inextricably tied up with the death
on the labor party demand. Cannon’s “American Theses” agony of capitalism, are bound to lead to a social crisis of
represented a serious attempt to elaborate a revolutionary such catastrophic proportions as will place the proletarian
strategy for the American working class. The theses revolution on the order of the day.
reflected Cannon’s great confidence in the revolutionary “In this crisis, it is realistic to expect that the American
role of the American working class. It was, of course, impos­ workers, who attained trade-union consciousness and
sible for Cannon or anyone else to predict at that time the organization within a single decade, will pass through
precise way in which the crisis of world capitalism would another great transformation in their mentality, attaining
develop in the postwar period. political consciousness and organization.
Nonetheless, Cannon’s contribution was significant: “In “If in the course of this dynamic development a mass
reality, the American ruling class faces more insurmount­ labor party based on the trade unions is formed, it will not
able obstacles in ‘organizing the world’ than confronted represent a detour into reformist stagnation and futility, as
the German bourgeoisie in its repeated and abortive happened in England and elsewhere in the period of
attempt to attain a much more modest goal, namely: capitalist ascent. From all indications, it will rather repre­
‘organizing Europe.’ sent a preliminary stage in the political radicalization of
“The meteoric rise of U.S. imperialism to world supre­ the American workers, preparing them for the direct
macy comes too late. Moreover, American imperialism leadership of the revolutionary party.”
rests increasingly on the foundations of world economy, in
sharp contrast to the situation prevailing before the First Cannon’s thesis, while based on Trotsky’s profound
World War, when it rested primarily on the internal market analysis of the contradictions of U.S. imperialism, repre­
— the source of its previous successes and equilibrium. But sented an important development on Trotsky’s work.
the world foundation is today shot through with insoluble However, Cannon developed a completely mechanical
contradictions; it suffers from chronic dislocations and is schema that the U.S. was heading for an immediate revolu­
mined with revolutionary powder kegs. tionary situation in the period of 1946-47.
“American capitalism, hitherto only partially involved In fact, the main line of Cannon’s perspectives were
in the death agony of capitalism as a world system, is vindicated — not in the immediate collapse of U.S. imper­
henceforth subject to the full and direct impact of all the ialism, as he had predicted, but in the inflationary boom
forces and contradictions that have debilitated the old which extended and deepened the crisis and prepared the
capitalist countries of Europe.” way for the emergence of the world revolution on a histori­
Cannon’s thesis was, essentially, that American imper­ cally unprecedented scale.
ialism was now the center of the world crisis and that,
therefore, “The revolutionary movement of the American However, instead of subjecting his perspective to a
workers is an organic part of the world revolutionary thorough-going reexamination in light of the development
process. The revolutionary upheavals of the European of the boom, tracing how the crisis of capitalism had
proletariat which lie ahead will complement, reinforce and reached a new stage through it, Cannon gave way to the
accelerate the revolutionary developments in the U.S. The surface impressions of the strength of U.S. imperialism, the
liberationist struggles of the colonial peoples against consolidation of the right-wing bureaucracy in the labor
imperialism which are unfolding before our eyes will exert a movement and the growing McCarthyite witchhunts
similar influence. Conversely, each blow dealt by the against union militants (aided at all points by the work of
American proletariat to the imperialists at home will the agents of imperialism). His disorientation flowed
stimulate, supplement and intensify the revolutionary directly from the fact that he had paid hardly any serious
struggles in Europe and the colonies. Every reversal attention to the fight for dialectical materialism within the
suffered by imperialism anywhere will, in turn, produce party against pragmatism. When his perspectives were
ever greater repercussions in this country, generating such confirmed, in a contradictory way, he was unable to grasp
speed and power as will tend to reduce all time-intervals it, develop the perspective or orient the movement
both at home and abroad.” correctly. The famous Cannon “confidence” in the Ameri­
Cannon lashed out at those who dismissed the prospects can working class turned into bitter cynicism. This was the
for the socialist revolution in the United States because of basis for the abandonment of Trotskyism by Cannon and
the “backwardness” of the American working class. “Much the SWP in 1963 and their reunification with the Pabloites.
has been said about the ‘backwardness’ of the American
working class as a justification for a pessimistic outlook, The fight for the Labor Party, as part of the strategy of
the postponement of the socialist revolution to a remote the world revolution, now passed over to the International
future and withdrawal from the struggle. This is a very Committee and to those who stood in political solidarity
superficial view of the American workers and their with it in the United States — the Workers League. The
prospects. Workers League has maintained and developed this fight
“It is true that this class, in many respects the most ad­ throughout its entire history as the center of its struggle to
vanced and progressive in the world, has hot yet taken the penetrate the working class. This issue was at the center of
23

the International Committee’s fight against the arch-rene­ yesterday! The credit figures boggle the imagination. There
gade Tim Wohlforth, who continuously tended to drop the are presently 600 million credit cards in circulation. The
fight for a labor party and, in effect, abandon any perspec­ average working class family uses as much as 40 percent of
tive for bringing the working class to power. its monthly income to meet payments on loans and credit.
The fight against Wohlforth’s brand of opportunism The total debt for privately owned housing in the United
within the Workers League meant a firm struggle to turn States is more than one trillion dollars. American
out to the working class and to train a cadre to lead the capitalism is burning the candle at both ends. On the one
fight for the building of a labor party. Now this struggle has hand, it has deliberately employed credit to foster an
reached a new stage. artificial consumer boom. But the growth of recession and
inflation undercuts that boom. In fact, the crisis creates a
vicious cycle: as workers are hit by layoffs and mounting
inflation, their debts go unpaid, credit is cancelled,
Th e La b o r P a r ty and th e consumers stop buying because they have no money — and
the whole credit structure tilts over and collapses. What is
S tra te g y fo r P o w e r unfolding is an economic chain reaction of disintegration.
Threatened with the destruction of all they have worked
for, with the destruction of their lives and their futures,
As developed by Trotsky and fought for by the Trotskyist millions will move into unyielding struggle. This will be the
movement, the struggle for the labor party is the corner­ motor force for the development of the labor party.
stone of the strategy for power in the United States. It is the
central “problem” of the American socialist revolution. 2. The Workers League insists that the labor party is at
The solution of this “problem,” that is, the waging of a the very center of the revolutionary strategy in the United
determined, sustained and principled struggle for the States. We reject any suggestion that the labor party is
building of the labor party, can be undertaken only by a nothing more than a working hypothesis. The fate of the
revolutionary organization that is consciously developing working class cannot be left to either guesswork or idle
Marxism as a guide to its practice. Unless this is speculation. But here we must make a decisive
understood and taken to heart by every member of the qualification: the struggle for the labor party proceeds
Workers League, the “struggle for the labor party” will from and is inseparable from the struggle to construct the
never pass beyond the level of propagandism — or it can Workers League as the revolutionary leadership of the
become a left phrase that serves as a cover for opportunism working class. The labor party will not emerge
in practice. spontaneously. Only metaphysicians would speak of
I “inevitable” stages of development. The labor party must
Let us now sum up the position of the Workers League on i be made inevitable through the conscious intervention
the historical significance of the struggle for the labor j j of the revolutionary party in the ever-expanding
party. \ j spontaneous movement of the working class.
1. It is the world crisis and the world revolution that is 3. Any discussion on the labor party which sees this
providing the impulse for the entrance of the working class developm ent outside of the active struggle for
into the field of independent class political struggle. The revolutionary leadership within the working class is
emergence of a mass labor party will be the historic link of nothing else but a form of opportunism and treachery. The
the struggles of the American working class with the new old formal conception that a labor party is needed in order
stage in the world revolution. The growth of the labor party to make the working class “ripe” for revolutionary ideas is
: movement will proceed out of and alongside of the most based on petty-bourgeois skepticism about the role of both
i explosive class battles in the history of this country. The the working class and the revolutionary party. The implicit
j masses will be driven forward by the brutal impact of the argument contained in this perspective is that the working
| capitalist crisis on all the conditions of life. This process class must first go through the school of labor party
has already begun, indeed, it is much further advanced reformism before it can be mobilized around a
than those who are already in the revolutionary movement revolutionary program. In practice, this position means
are prepared to believe. The crisis will produce vast subservience to the trade union bureaucracy. Moreover,
changes in the consciousness of millions. The America the Party is pushed into the background because the
| which they may have seen as “the land of unlimited development of the labor party is seen as something sealed
i opportunity” will be seen as “the land of unlimited off from the struggle of the Party and the training of the
’,suffering.” cadre as Marxists.
Statistics have already shown that millions of working This skeptical and opportunist view was summed up
class and middle class people in the United States have most clearly by James P. Cannon in 1954 in his article,
tried to keep abreast of inflation by obtaining various forms “Implications of the Labor Party.” He wrote:
of credit — from charge plates and bank loans to
mortgages. A colossal burden is weighing down upon “To imagine that the present official leaders can make
countless people who slave week after week to earn a the great shift from the Democratic Party to independent
paycheck that is substantially used up in the repayment of labor politics, and maintain their leadership smoothly in
old debts. What vast tensions are building up within the an entirely new and different situation, requires one to
inner structure of society. Millions are dependent upon a overlook the basic causes which will force them to make
job tomorrow in order to pay for necessities purchased this shift. That is, the radicalization of the rank and file
24

and their revolt against the old policy. No matter how it is the working class will transcend the spontaneity of
formally brought about, a labor party will be the product bourgeois trade unionism and begin the struggle for power.
of a radical upsurge in the ranks of the trade unionists. That no labor party exists in the United States is the
The more the officialdom resists the great change, the outcome of particular conditions relating to the specific
stronger will grow the sentiment for a different leadership. development of American capitalism. This has given the
Even if the present leaders sponsor the labor party at question of the labor party such great significance in the
the start, they will be under strong criticism for their tardi­ workers movement because, under the guidance of the
ness. The real movement for a labor party, which will revolutionary party, it focuses the attention of the working
come from below, will begin to throw up alternative class on the burning importance of independent class
leadership in the course of its development/' (Emphasis politics — the struggle for power — directed against the
added.) ruling class. But the essential issue is that which confronts
the working class in every country. It is through the form of
This prognosis, written in the years of Cannon’s political the struggle for the labor party that Marxism must be
degeneration and capitulation to Pabloism, is utterly brought into the American working class. That is, the
opportunist and anti-Marxist. It openly portrays the trade essential content of the struggle for the labor party is the
union bureaucracy as the motivators of the labor party. But training of revolutionary Marxist cadre from the working
the whole experience of the AFL-CIO has shown that the class, youth, students and all strata willing to fight
bureaucracy will stop at nothing to destroy any genuine capitalism.
independent political movement by the working class
against the two capitalist parties. Any political movement Cannon proceeded from abstract guesswork about the
of any sort led by any section of the trade union possibilities for a labor party. He then saw this labor party
bureaucracy, whether for a “third” party or even for as the “salvation” of the Trotskyist movement in the
something called a “labor party,” would in no sense United States, giving it its first real opportunity to win the
represent a real political break from the apron strings of the leadership of the working class. Ironically, this position
bourgeoisie. Cannon’s talk of a “great shift from the tacitly suggested that the prospects for Trotskyism in the
Democratic Party to independent labor politics” is United States depend upon some section of the
something quite different from “independent class bureaucracy making the mistake of launching a labor party
politics.” Independent labor politics is social democratic of which it would eventually lose control!
reformist politics, something entirely different than the
independent political mobilization of the working class But in reality, the labor party itself — as the transitional
against the bourgeoisie. The bureaucracy might, under form through which the spontaneous movement of the
certain conditions, accept the necessity for embarking on masses shall pass on the road to power — will be the
some form of “independent labor politics” — that is, historical by-product of the struggle for Marxism waged by
something like the New Democratic Party in Canada or, the Workers League.
perhaps, something which recreates the fraudulent
“Progressive Party” Wallace movement in 1948 which was The emergence of a mass labor party will open up
run by the Stalinists. Today, the Socialist Workers Party tremendous opportunities for the Workers League to win
and the Communist Party are for “labor politics” — that the masses. But the emergence of this mass labor party
is, the politics of the ruling class carried out from within depends entirely on the ability of the Trotskyist movement
the labor movement. to recruit and train the vanguard of the working class in the
months ahead. In practice, this means that the struggle for
“Independent class politics” is possible only through the the labor party will be led by the Workers League. It is the
intervention of the revolutionary party within the forces that our party recruits and trains from all sections of
spontaneous movement of the working class. While the the working class and the most devoted sections of the
working class, beneath the impact of the crisis, middle class that will spearhead the struggle for the
spontaneously gravitates toward a break with the bourgeois political independence of the working class.
parties, this break cannot be consummated without the
conscious struggle of the Workers League against all forms 5. The labor party will not simply be a product “of a
of opportunism within the workers movement, and, finally, radical upsurge in the ranks of the trade unionists.” There
against all manifestations of the domination of bourgeois is no question that the spontaneous upsurge in trade union
ideology over the working class. struggles will play a crucial role in the emergence of the
labor party. But this is a narrow view whose basic error is to
4. We have quoted Cannon extensively precisely because conceive of the struggle for the labor party as nothing more
his position sums up what has for so long passed for the than the direct extension of trade unionism into the
“official” view on the labor party — a view which divorced domain of politics. This is a reformist conception. The
the whole conception of the labor party from the mass movement for a break with the politics of the
fundamental issues of the struggle for Marxism. This bourgeoisie will emerge out of a spontaneous explosion
Cannonite position was explicitly opportunist. The heart of sparked by the anger of all sections of the oppressed — the
the matter is this: the Workers League does not have a unemployed, housewives with hungry families, trade
strategy for the labor party; it has a strategy for the unionists, workers without trade unions, and, above all, the
socialist revolution. The central historical significance of youth.
the labor party in the context of the development of the 6. The most serious error made by Cannon in his
American proletariat is that it is the vehicle through which examination of the labor party question was his assertion:
25

“The real movement for a labor party, which will come more insidious than the formal and metaphysical
from below, will begin to throw up an alternative counterposing of the consciousness of the class to the
leadership in the course of its development.” This is out- consciousness of the Party. This leads to the subjective
and-out opportunism and it reveals what has been the idealist counterposing of the “correct ideas” of the Party to
main weakness of all previous “campaigns” for the labor the “backwardness” of the class.
party: the ever-recurring tendency to formally separate the
problems of the struggle for the labor party from the
historical problems of the development of revolutionary “Physician, heal thyself!” The working class has not
leadership. In the past, the labor party question has been broken from the stranglehold of the bourgeoisie because
seen from only one side — that is, as a strategy for breaking there has not yet emerged a revolutionary leadership
the working class from the stranglehold of bourgeois sufficiently mature and ideologically grounded in Marxism
politics. But the problem of this stranglehold of bourgeois to divert the spontaneous movement of the working class
politics over the working class has been seen as simply a into consciously directed revolutionary channels. The
problem of the working class as a thing-in-itself. That is, Workers League — and only the Workers League — is
the labor party slogan has been seen as a means for building such a leadership. The movement for a labor party
overcoming the lag in the political development of the will not come “from below” and new leadership won’t be
working class. thrown up “in the course of its development.” The
movement for the labor party will come from above, from
But this one-sided approach ignores the following: the the Trotskyist cadre trained in the Workers League in the
labor party question is not just a problem of the working course of 12 years of struggle against all forms of
class in general. It is principally a problem of the opportunism and bourgeois ideology in the workers’
consciousness of the revolutionary vanguard. Nothing is movement.

Th e Com bined C o u n te r- R e vo lu tio n a ry Role o f


Stalinism and Revisionism in th e U n ite d S ta te s
The entrance of the American working more or less conceded by revisionist leader Mary-Alice
Waters in a recent speech. Comparing the policies of the
class into the field of political struggles Stalinists and the SWP, she was hard put to find any
against the state inevitably obliges the differences between their programs. Referring to an article
Stalinists to play the role of criminal sabo­ in the Stalinist Daily World by its labor editor, Waters
teurs more cynically and despicably than said: “Aside from a few words, it sounds like something we
could have written.”
ever.
No organization has been more slavish in its adaptation
Working alongside of the Stalinists, unashamedly to the Soviet bureaucracy than the American Communist
accompanying them in their move to the right, is the Party. Dating all the way back to the days when the Love-
Socialist Workers Party. It can be said without any stone-Foster faction expelled Cannon from the Commun­
exaggeration that the interventions of the SWP ist Party in 1928, the American Stalinists have functioned
within the workers movement are virtually indis­ as a tool of Soviet Stalinist policies. Its whole history has
tinguishable from those of the Stalinists. been one of drastic twists and turns (euphemistically called
“change of line”) in accordance with the needs of the
The Communist Party and the SWP play what amounts foreign policy of the Soviet bureaucracy. In the early 1930s,
to a combined counter-revolutionary role within the labor the Stalinists carried out the ultra-leftist policies of the
movement in the United States. That a reactionary Third Period with devastating consequences to their own
division of labor exists between the CP and the SWP was development within the labor movement. They then
26

switched to the policies of the Popular Front. When Stalin maneuvers aimed at pressuring the U.S. ruling class to
signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler, the CP went pursue diplomacy favorable to the Kremlin. If the policies
into temporary opposition to Roosevelt and campaigned of the CP are seen as only the reflection of Soviet diploma­
against his plans to involve the United States in the tic needs, then the door is left open for the totally revision­
imperialist war. Immediately after the invasion of the ist conception that the worsening relations between the
USSR in 1941, the CP became the most patriotic party in USSR and the U.S. might create conditions in which the
the United States and provided the muscle for the enforce­ American Stalinists are driven to pursue revolutionary
ment of the notorious “no-strike” pledge. Following the policies. While it is possible that the CP may be obliged to
Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill conference in Casablanca and make various gestures to the left, Stalinism will never be
Teheran, the Communist Party adapted itself to the policy anything else except the principal counter-revolutionary
of Stalinist-imperialist collaboration by formally dis­ agency within the workers' movement. More vital to the
solving itself as a political party. Kremlin bureaucracy than the services provided by the
Then, as the Cold War began to loom, French Stalinist Stalinists to its diplomacy is the CP’s role as the principal
leader and GPU agent Jacques Duclos sent his famous political instrument through which the American working
letter criticizing the policies of CPUSA leader Earl class is deflected away from revolutionary struggle.
Browder — even though his liquidation of the CP had been The Soviet bureaucracy fears the revolutionary poten­
carried out on Stalin’s instructions. The Central Com­ tial of the American working class more than anything
mittee of the CP immediately removed Browder and except... that of the working class in the USSR. It instinc­
shifted course. In order to counter the Marshall Plan, the tively recognizes that any independent class movement by
CP opposed Truman by supporting Henry Wallace, a self- the American workers represents a mortal danger to U.S.
proclaimed American “Tory” whose only disagreement imperialism and, hence, to itself. For Stalinism, its most
with Truman was that he believed that it was in the best fundamental requirement is the political strangulation of
interests of U.S. imperialism to arrive at an agreement with the American working class. It will pursue whatever
the Kremlin bureaucracy. methods the bureaucracy deems suitable to achieve this
From the 1930s on, the CP was not only a political agency goal. This accounts for the utter political depravity which
of the Kremlin bureaucracy. It was also a direct instru­ the American Stalinists have demonstrated within the
ment of the bureaucracy’s political police, the GPU. The workers movement m the United States for the past 45
Communist Party played a central role in all the conspira­ years.
cies prepared by the GPU against the life of Trotsky and Nevertheless, it would be mistaken to see the Commun­
the whole Fourth International. The ring of informers ist Party only as an entity that has been artificially grafted
working inside the SWP who helped set up the murder of on to the American labor movement by the Soviet bureauc­
Trotsky — like Cannon’s secretary, Sylvia Franklin, and racy. In the United States, Stalinism found a national base
Floyd Cleveland Miller — were provided by the Commun­ of support for policies that originated in the needs of the
ist Party. The Communist Party enthusiastically Soviet bureaucracy. Like the medieval plagues that ori­
applauded the Moscow Trials and the liquidation of the ginated in the East but flourished in the unsanitary condi­
Old Bolsheviks. The Communist Party is drenched in their tions of life in Western Europe, Stalinism quite naturally
blood. The present leaders of the Communist Party, such hooked itself into the milieu of the trade anion bureauc­
as Gus Hall, came into prominence after Khrushchev’s racy and middle class radicalism. Similarly, Stalinism
revelations of Stalin’s crimes and then the suppression of found that the traditions of pragmatism and even popu­
the Hungarian Revolution which led to the desertion of lism provided a very hospitable political climate. In other
nearly four out of five members. words, the Stalinists have been able to utilize all that was
Today, the American Stalinists seek to reproduce their backward in the political development of the American
counter-revolutionary role of the 1930s, but on an even labor movement. We make this point only to emphasize
more criminal scale. The CP stands today for the total that there is no escaping the struggle against Stalinism in
subordination of the class struggle in the United States to the United States. To maintain that the American
the reactionary “Detente” policies of the Soviet bureauc­ Communist Party is not part of the workers movement in
racy. In practice, this means that the political activity of the United States — as Cannon told Trotsky in 1940 — is to
the working class is not to extend beyond the bounds of dangerously underestimate the role of Stalinism. It is as
pressuring the Carter administration to conciliate with the much a “part” of the labor movement — if one wishes to
Kremlin. The central task of the labor movement, the use this awkward phrase — as the labor bureaucracy of the
Stalinists insist, is to pressure Carter to sign a treaty on AFL-CIO.
Strategic Arms Limitations. The program of the CP for the Furthermore — and this is the most important — the
American working class reduces itself to backing that American working class can only be brought consciously
faction within the Carter administration which appears into the world revolution if its vanguard is systematically
more amenable to detente. In a recent article, Stalinist educated in the whole history of Bolshevism and the
Victor Perlo wrote: struggle against Stalinism. The American working class, no
“What is the role of the Left and the Communists, in the less than the Russian, is the legitimate heir of the October
peace movement? We must enter and build the broadest Revolution. Its own historic development cannot be under­
possible coalitions with other peace groups, we must join stood if examined only from the standpoint of immediate
many of them, we must on occasion even be in de facto American experiences. The American working class bears
alliance with the Vances and the Warnkes in the Adminis­ on its shoulders the weight of Stalinism which, though it
tration.” grew within the Soviet Union on the basis of the bureauc­
In other words, the Stalinists openly proclaim that their racy, also depended upon specific international condi­
Party is committed toward collaboration with the most tions: the delay and then the defeats of the European
ruthless imperialist government in the world. revolution. The struggle against Stalinism in the United
But it should be understood that the role of Stalinism States is thus an integral part of the world offensive against
within the United States is not merely a matter of tactical Stalinism through which the criminal policies of the
27
bureaucracy will be defeated and the road paved for both Left forces.”
the political revolutions in the Soviet Union, Eastern In other words, with the trade union bureaucracy in
Europe and China and the social revolutions in the capital­ crisis, it seeks to strengthen its position against a rebel­
ist countries. lious working class by forging closer ties with the Stalin­
The right-wing trade union bureaucracy desperately ists. The policy of the Stalinists is to utilize this “oppor­
depends upon the services of the Communist Party. And tunity” to bolster the bureaucracy and place a straitjacket
the Stalinists specifically orient themselves toward colla­ over the movement of the working class.
boration with the bureaucracy on the common program of There is no question that the American working class will
beheading any independent political development by the have an opportunity to see the Stalinists in action, exer­
American working class. In a recently-published pamphlet cising their unlimited capacity for treachery. Workers will
outlining the “strategy” of the Communist Party, its secre­ develop the most profound hatred for Stalinism. Stalinism
tary Gus Hall wrote: can and will be laid low — but this requires that the Party
“However, it would be wrong to believe that it is no systematically educate the working class in the lessons of
longer possible to influence Carter’s course. His very oppor­ Trotsky’s struggle against bureaucracy.
tunism means that he will respond to pressure from The main opponents of this fight have been the revision­
another direction. But the pressure must be consid­ ists of the Socialist Workers Party. Since their split with
erable enough to indicate where the people really the International Committee and abandonment of
stand.'* (Emphasis in the original). Trotskyism in 1963, they have worked in harness with the
The Stalinists advance the most reactionary of all Stalinists to block the building of Trotskyist leadership in
perspectives: that the state is a supra-class structure that the working class.
can be won over to the side of the working class through the This is what lies behind the revisionists’ latest “turn” on
exertion of superior pressure. Carter is presented as a be­ the labor party question. For years, they shelved the
fuddled “opportunist” (the word is applied absurdly in this demand while they sank themselves in the swamp of
context) whose only fault is that he does not know of the middle class protest politics. Now they cynically revive this
grief of the people. Here, the Stalinists come close to demand as part of their division of labor with the Stalin­
substituting a fairy tale for political analysis. ists to prop up the bureaucracy and block the struggle for
The strategy of the Communist Party boils down toward power.
totally subordinating the working class to the Democratic The Stalinists are the open opponents of the Labor
Party. As Hall wrote about the 1978 Congressional elec­ Party, desperately seeking to channel the movement of the
tions: working class back into a refurbished, “progressive,
“This November the entire House of Representatives people’s” Democratic Party. They were the main backers
(435 members) will be elected, about a third of the Senate, and the ideological spearhead of UAW chief Douglas
and governors and legislators in many states. This means Fraser’s “liberal-labor” strategy conference in Detroit on
there will be electoral activity in every state, and consid­ October 17.
erable public debate on the major issues of the day. We But they know that, if this effort fails, they must have a
must be deeply involved in affecting the debate and the safety valve to relieve the enormous pressure building up in
outcome of the elections; we must raise the major issues, the ranks for a total break with the capitalist parties. This
work to defeat the reactionary candidates, and help to elect is where the revisionists come in.
a progressive bloc.” Their job is to cut off the labor party from its revolu­
Nothing could be clearer: the electoral activity of the tionary content, to strangle the mass movement of the
Communist Party, irregardless of whether it rims candi­ working class and buttress the counter-revolutionary
dates, is directed toward propping up the Democratic bureaucracy.
Party. It stands absolutely opposed to the construction of In the course of their radicalization, the masses pass
an independent labor party. Occasionally, of course, the through centrist stages of development, including the labor
Stalinists talk about “independent action” by the labor party. But this is a mass movement, explosive in its
movement. What they mean by this is a Popular Front development, as millions wrench themselves free from the
amalgam of liberals and labor bureaucrats. Hall provided domination of capitalist politics and enter powerful battles
an example of what the CP considers to be “forces begin­ against the ruling class and its state machine, which bring
ning — but only beginning — to mobilize a political and them face to face with the struggle for power.
electoral resistance to the Right and to Carter’s policies.” The revisionists however are out to set a trap for the
He listed the Democratic Agenda Movement — “composed masses, to block their independent political movement.
of leading forces in the unions, the ADA and some other Instead of a break by the masses from the two capitalist
liberal Democrats.” Hall specifically insisted that the parties, they want to add another one on — a third, govern­
Communist Party, in organizing these coalitions for ment party “with labor participation,” dominated by the
“independent action,” “does not insist that its members bureaucracy to smother the mass movement of the
break their ties with the old parties.” working class and chain it all the more effectively to the
Within the trade unions, the Stalinists are again directed capitalist state.
toward buttressing the bureaucracy against the upsurge of To cany this out, the revisionists totally repudiate the
the rank and file. They call this alliance “Left-Center Transitional Program and the Labor Party demand, as
Unity.” Hall explained this in the following way: Trotsky formulated it.
“As the crisis deepens so do the policies of class colla­ This is made very clear in a recent article by SWP leader
boration go into a deeper crisis. It is much more difficult for Frank Lovell entitled: “The Transitional Program: A Stra­
the Right elements to put over their ideas. As a result, the tegy for the Unions Today.”
Right has been losing its influence on the Center forces. The title itself reveals the complete rejection of Trotsky’s
The Right forces have become more isolated, and the perspective. The Transitional Program is not a “strategy
Center forces have become more active. These forces have for the unions,” today or any other time.
started to look for alliances and relationships with more Trotsky made this clear in the Transitional Program:
28

“Trade unions do not offer, and in line with their task, just as the Republicans and Democrats are representatives
composition, and manner of recruiting membership, of employers and other rich people.”
cannot offer a finished revolutionary program; in conse­ When the revisionists call for a labor party, they mean
quence, they cannot replace the party. The building of the creation of a popular front — lending assistance to the
national revolutionary parties as sections of the Fourth capitalist parties in disciplining the working class. During
International is the central task of the transitional epoch.” the Chicago mayoralty campaign, SWP candidate Andrew
The Transitional Program was a strategy for power in the Pulley attended a closed back room meeting with the
international working class, for the “systematic mobiliza­ defeated Daley machine candidate, Michael Bilandic, the
tion of the masses for the proletarian revolution.” Bolshe­ Democratic candidate Jane Byrne and the Republican
vik politics never begin from the trade unions, but from the candidate. Among the topics discussed was how the police
building of the party. But this is precisely what Lovell’s department was to be run and to settle differences on the
and the SWP’s position is aimed against. Their purpose is choosing of the police commissioner.
to turn the Transitional Program into a grab-bag of The revisionists’ conception of a labor party is a political
reformist demands, refitted for the use of any labor machine for the bureaucracy, which occasionally places
bureaucrat. token demands on the Democrats and Republicans but
Thus, Lovell writes that the program’s purpose “was to which, at all times, blocks the independent movement of
bridge the gap between the daily social demands of the the working class against the capitalist state.
workers and other victims of capitalism and the winning of Contained within all these formulations is the revision­
government power by mass working class parties every­ ists’ attack on the Marxist theory of the state.
where.” “If humanity is to survive and move forward,” they
This is a blatant distortion of Trotskyism, borrowed write, “the working class must have its own mass party, a
straight from the handbook of Social Democracy. It omits party that intends to win government power, establish a
one thing — the Fourth International. workers administration, and bring about socialism.”
What “mass working class parties” are the revisionists Since when has it been the position of the Trotskyist
talking about? The German Social Democrats and the movement that the labor party will establish socialism?
British Labourites are both “mass working class parties” That can only be carried out through the revolutionary
who have won “government power” — that is, they run the overthrow and smashing of the capitalist state and the
capitalist state to attack the working class and open the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The
door to the counter-revolution. labor party and the demand for a workers’ government are
The Transitional Program was written precisely to break necessary only insofar as they prepare the masses for that
the stranglehold of these “old workers’ organizations” over struggle.
the masses. But the revisionists’ position is a slightly more sophis­
“The Fourth International declares uncompromising war ticated version of the “peaceful road to socialism” via the
on the bureaucracies of the Second, Third, Amsterdam and election to office of a “workers’ administration.” “Govern­
Anarcho-syndicalist Internationals, as on their centrist ment power,” “workers’ administration,” “mass working
satellites; on reformism without reforms; democracy in class parties” — all these are carefully calculated revisions
alliance with the GPU; pacifism without peace; anarchism and alterations introduced by the SWP to establish a basis
in the service of the bourgeoisie; on ‘revolutionists’ who live for collaboration with Stalinism and the labor bureauc­
in deathly fear of revolution.” racy against the working class.
But the revisionists propose to “bridge the gap” be­ Whenever the revisionists do speak about a labor party,
tween the masses and the bureaucrats, that is, boost them they do so in conjunction with their demands for a black
up and provide them with a left cover. party, a Chicano party, a Puerto Rican party, etc., etc.
Trotsky warned in the Transitional Program: “In periods There is nothing inconsistent in this — one demand tries to
of acute class struggle, the leading bodies of the trade divert the working class away from independent political
unions aim to become masters of the mass movement in action, the others try to split workers, in the most reac­
order to render it harmless. This is already occurring tionary way, along racial lines.
during the period of simple strikes, especially in the case of The revisionists have become the foremost defenders of
the mass sit-down strikes which shake the principle of every action by the capitalist state to foment racial divi­
bourgeois property. In time of war or revolution, when the sions in the working class.
bourgeoisie is plunged into exceptional difficulties, trade In 1975 they led the yells for “Federal troops in Boston”
union leaders usually become bourgeois ministers.” to enforce court-ordered busing. They placed the respon­
Nothing more clearly brings out the kind of “labor sibility for school segregation on the “racist white workers”
party” the revisionists are talking about: one in which and led a whole campaign demanding the government send
trade union leaders become “bourgeois ministers” in order in the army to occupy whole working class neighborhoods
to render the mass movement “harmless.” Lovell’s descrip­ to enforce the court desegregation order.
tion makes this clear: This year, they have joined in with the Stalinists on the
“The labor party will put miners, auto workers, truck Bakke case to demand the federal courts enforce racial
drivers, carpenters, and other working men and women in quotas on the campuses and at work locations.
city and county governments, state legislatures and in the Undoubtedly, one of the first things the revisionists
U.S. Congress. These workers will support mass rallies and would have a “workers’ administration” do would be to
demonstrations of workers for jobs, universal health care, send troops in to occupy major cities in order to enforce
public education and all other working class needs. They racial quotas!
will be the legislative representatives of working people, Thus, Stalinism and revisionism play today a combined
29

counter-revolutionary role within the American labor did have one merit — it provided a clear picture of the
movement, under conditions of the disintegration of the lineup of forces emerging in the working class.
Democratic Party, the growing crisis and panic of the This gathering was sponsored by Walter Mondale,
bureaucracy, and the mass upsurge of the working class. chaired by Douglas Fraser, politically orchestrated by the
Stalinists and hailed by the revisionists. This is the lineup
The recent “liberal-labor” strategy session held in for the American Popular Front.
Detroit was designed to head off the movement of the Only the Workers League fights to expose and smash up
working class towards a labor party and prop up the this conspiracy against the working class while fighting to
Democrats. Though it ended in a shambles, the conference organize and lead the mass movement for a labor party.
PART II
T H E I N T E R N A T IO N A L C O M M IT T E E
A N D T H E S T R U G G L E F O R T R O T S K Y IS M
T H E F IG H T A G A I N S T P A B L O IS M A N D T H E F O U N D I N G
O F T H E I N T E R N A T I O N A L C O M M IT T E E
The historic responsibility for the building of the revolu­ revolution against Stalinism but rather maneuvers within
tionary party and the conquest of power in the United the Kremlin bureaucratic clique.
States belongs irrefutably and uniquely to the Workers The International Committee was formed in November
League. The correctness of this proposition has been veri­ 1953 to combat Pabloite revisionism. The historical
fied in the course of more than 12 years of struggle to significance of this struggle was articulated in the “Open
defend the continuity of Trotskyism against the crimes and Letter” written by James P. Cannon, founder and leader of
betrayals of Stalinism, revisionism and all the agencies of the Socialist Workers Party.
world imperialism. Though barred from affiliation by the “This faction,” he wrote, referring to the Pabloites, “ is
reactionary Voorhis Act, the Workers League is first and now working consciously and deliberately to disrupt, split,
foremost the product of the International Committee’s 25 and break up the historically created cadres of Trotskyism
years of principled struggle against Pabloite revisionism, in the various countries and to liquidate the Fourth
which has found its most counter-revolutionary expression International.”
in the leadership and politics of the Socialist Workers The real nature of Pabloism as the political expression of
Party. The quarter-century history of the International wholesale capitulation to imperialism was made abso­
Committee, dating back to 1953, constitutes the richest lutely clear in the methods and positions of its faction in
chapter in the development of world Trotskyism. the United States. The main leaders of the Pabloite faction
The foundation for revolutionary practice, the indis­ (Clarke, Cochran and Bartell) called for a virtual end of all
pensable basis for any real orientation to the working class Trotskyist activity in the working class. They demanded
from the standpoint of the struggle for power, is the tho­ the liquidation of “The Militant” and an exclusive orienta­
rough assimilation of the entire body of historical tion to the shattered remnants of the Stalinist forces in the
experiences through which the International Committee trade unions. Their battle cry was “Junk the old
has passed since 1953. The training of Trotskyist cadre is Trotskyism!” This was an out-and-out right-wing tendency
only possible in the struggle to base every aspect and detail which found in Pabloism a platform for renegacy. It is no
of the party’s political work on the historical conquests of accident that the leader of the American Pabloites, Bert
the International Committee, derived from the battle Cochran, is today a toady of the Democratic Party, the
against revisionism. This is because it has been author of an adoring biography of Harry Truman, and a
indisputably demonstrated on a world scale that the monu­ good friend of Zbigniew Brzezinski.
mental political heritage of Trotsky’s struggle against The International Committee was founded principally
Stalinism — beginning with his October 1922 alliance with by the British and French sections and the SWP in order to
Lenin to defend the monopoly of foreign trade in the USSR organize the struggle internationally against Pabloite
and with the founding of the Left Opposition on the basis of revisionism on the basis of the “Open Letter.” However,
Trotsky’s earliest warnings against the dangers of bureau­ within months of the consummation of the split, the SWP
cratism in the fall of 1923 — has been carried forward into began to pull back from the struggle against Pabloism.
the present period solely along the historical lines laid This was due in no small measure to the fact that Cannon
down with the formation of the International Committee of feared the consequences of a full-going struggle against
the Fourth International in the autumn of 1953. revisionism among those he counted as his supporters
The emergence of Pabloite revisionism within the Fourth inside the SWP. When the struggle against the Cochranites
International in the early 1950s represented the most first began, Cannon had found himself within the minority.
serious attack on Trotskyism since the period of the Mos­ Significantly, among the sympathizers of Pablo in the
cow Trials and the assassination of Trotsky. It represented leadership of the SWP were Joseph Hansen and George
an outright capitulation to the pressures exerted by world Novack — the former an unmasked FBI agent and the
imperialism upon the Trotskyist movement in an entirely latter his accomplice. The impact of the post-war boom
new stage of the former’s political and economic crisis. was making itself felt inside the SWP with a growing
Pabloism entirely rejected any independent political role skepticism and pessimism about the revolutionary role of
for either the working class or the Trotskyist movement. the American working class. The extent of disorientation
The perspective of the Fourth International and the social within the SWP. was reflected in the belief that the
revolution was replaced in favor of the idealist conception emergence of McCarthyism represented the beginnings of
of bureaucratic “self-reform” and centuries of degenerated fascism in the United States. This position was not so
workers states. The driving force of the regeneration of the much the product of an episodic misjudgment as it was the
USSR was no longer considered to be the political indication of a very incorrect assessment of the whole
31

nature of the post-war period. finger exercises to a pianist...”


This growing cynicism and pessimism within the SWP Shachtman and Burnham charged that Trotsky had
left it disarmed at the very point when the political introduced the issue of dialectical materialism as a pole­
explosions which wracked Stalinism in 1956—Khrush­ mical trick to avoid discussion on the “concrete” political
chev’s secret speech which admitted a portion of Stalin’s questions.
crimes and the Hungarian Revolution — not only provided “The opposition, permit me to assure you, has invented
a complete political vindication of Trotskyism but also an nothing new,” wrote Trotsky in response to this charge. “It
unchallengeable historical verification of its perspective for is continuing the tradition of revisionism in theory and
the political revolution. opportunism in politics.”
The reasons for Cannon’s political degeneration cannot Trotsky continued: “Toward the close of the last century
be explained solely by the unfavorable objective condi­ the revisionist attempts of Bernstein, who in England came
tions in the United States during the 1950s. While conser­ under the influence of Anglo-Saxon empiricism and utili­
vatism predominated in the American working class, the tarianism — the most wretched of philosophies! — were
overall political situation held great promise. Stalinism mercilessly repulsed. Whereupon the German oppor­
was being torn apart. Great national liberation move­ tunists recoiled from philosophy and sociology.”
ments were driving forward against imperialism. World In this great political struggle, conducted under condi­
capitalism had been completely incapable of inflicting a tions in which the GPU was closing in as Trotsky’s own
defeat upon the working class in any advanced capitalist guard was penetrated by Stalinist agents, the co-leader of
country. The main reason for Cannon’s political collapse in the October Revolution insisted that the essence of cadre
the 1950s, after having defended Trotskyism, many times training was the development of dialectical materialist
heroically, for nearly thirty years, is to be found in his theory as a guide to practice.
failure to develop dialectical materialist theory as a guide While the struggle in 1940 was directed against the petty-
to practice. bourgeois minority, Trotsky’s contribution on dialectical
In the months before his assassination, Leon Trotsky materialism was a challenge to Cannon, the SWP and the
made his last great contribution to ensuring the historical cadre of the Fourth International all over the world. For the
continuity of Bolshevism. In 1939-1940, there emerged continuity of the revolutionary movement could not be
within the Socialist Workers Party a petty-bourgeois maintained simply on the basis of an orthodox defense of
minority faction led by Max Shachtman, James Burnham program, but it required a continuous struggle to defend
and Martin Abern. They constituted an unprincipled bloc and deepen the Marxist method of dialectical materialism
which, succumbing to the pressures of American imper­ as the basis of revolutionary action.
ialism on the eve of the Second World War, sought to over­ It was this great lesson that guided the International
throw all the historical principles and traditions reasserted Committee, above all its British section, in the struggle
in the founding of the Fourth International. The immediate against Pabloism from 1953 on.
issue which united them was opposition to the SWP’s But the predominance of pragmatism within the SWP
defense of the USSR as a workers state in the wake of the left it vulnerable to the intensified pressures of imper­
Stalin-Hitler Pact and the Soviet invasion of Finland. ialism. Its increasingly nationalist orientation was an
Their refusal to defend the USSR against imperialism was expression of the serious theoretical unpreparedness of the
the manifestation of their capitulation to the pressures of SWP. Cannon’s famous “proletarian orientation” could
democratic public opinion in the United States. not serve as a substitute for Marxism. Despite Cannon’s
But more fundamentally, they were drawn together by well-known and real “feel” for the American worker, the
their hostility to dialectical materialism, the world scien­ problems in his own theoretical development finally caused
tific outlook of Marxism. The petty-bourgeois professor in him to “lose touch” with the class, and turn toward — after
New York University, Burnham, openly rejected Marxism so many years of struggle — the American petty-
in favor of pragmatism; Shachtman assumed the position bourgeoisie.
of an agnostic, stating that the value of dialectical Cannon’s political demoralization and abandonment ol
materialism to revolutionary politics had never been estab­ Trotskyist principles in the years after 1956, combined with
lished. the behind-the-scenes activities of long-standing and high-
It was Trotsky who had to assume the leading role in the placed agents within the SWP leadership, served the
struggle against the first major revisionist trend to emerge deepest objective needs of imperialism to prevent the
within the Fourth International. None of the leaders of the emergence of alternative revolutionary, i.e., Trotskyist,
SWP were theoretically prepared to consciously direct the leadership in the working class. From 1957 on, having
struggle in defense of Marxism against Burnham and already initiated an orientation toward the right-wing
Shachtman. Trotsky had long been aware of this serious Stalinist milieu, Cannon embarked upon an unprincipled
theoretical weakness within the American movement. His campaign for reunification with the Pabloites — without
first words upon arriving in Mexico on January 9,1937 were discussing any of the unresolved political issues arising out
to insist that the leaders of the SWP take up a conscious of the split which had obliged Cannon himself to write in
fight against the “curse” of pragmatism within the cadre of 1953: “The lines of cleavage between Pablo’s revisionism
the revolutionary party. and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is
While Cannon dealt firmly with the complaints by the possible either politically or organizationally.”
petty-bourgeois minority against Bolshevik organizational This return to revisionism on the part of the SWP was
pract ices, he left the field of the theoretical struggle against resisted principally by the British Trotskyists who in 1959
Burnham and Shachtman exclusively to Trotsky. founded the Socialist Labour League (the forerunner of the
In his first major contribution to the struggle against the Workers Revolutionary Party). They now defended the
minority, “A Petty-Bourgeois Opposition in the Socialist continuity of the International Committee against the
Workers Party,” Trotsky stated that “Dialectic training of efforts of Cannon, Farrell Dobbs and Hansen to completely
the mind” is “as necessary to a revolutionary fighter as cover up the historical implications of the split with
32

Pabloism. It was Hansen who came forward as the most “consistent empiricism.” This statement alone branded
unprincipled and vicious opponent of the International Hansen as an adherent of the most reactionary school of
Committee and Marxism. Years before it was possible to subjective idealism, that is, the Vienna school of logical
expose his connections with the FBI and the GPU, his positivists who openly describe their philosophy as “...
thorough-going opposition to Marxism was established consistent empiricism,” which, they proudly proclaim, is
when he declared that Marxism is nothing more than the unrepentant enemy of Marxist “metaphysics.”

Th e Building o f th e W orke rs League


It was out of the struggle waged by the International Marxist” was nothing more than the most transparent
Committee against the treachery of the Socialist Workers cover for its orientation to the protest circles of the
Party that the Workers League emerged. A group of SWP American middle class, and, through this route, its
members, mainly from its newly-founded youth capitulation to U.S. imperialism. This was proven within
movement, the Young Socialist Alliance, began to support months of the 1963 split when the Socialist Workers Party,
the insistence of the British section of the International just hours after the assassination of the imperialist butcher
Committee that there could be no unification with the Kennedy, sent condolences to his widow and called upon
Pabloites without a proper political and historical the “nation” to “abjure violence.”
examination of the fundamental issues of the 1953 split and This historical dimension of the SWP’s betrayal emerged
subsequent differences. The British section pointed out within just one year of the split when the majority of the
that the original differences with Pablo had in fact been Ceylonese section of the Pabloite “International” — the
considerably deepened with the development of the devas­ LSSP — joined the bourgeois coalition government of
tating crisis within the Communist Parties in the wake of Madame Bandaranaike. The SWP was politically
the Secret Speech and the Hungarian Revolution. implicated in this betrayal of the Ceylonese and
However, the SWP wanted to stampede the International international working class. The betrayal of the LSSP had
Committee into a reunification with the remnants of the vast historical implications. For the first time in history a
Pabloite forces that had continued to function after the movement which traced its origins to the founding of the
1953 split. A letter from the Central Committee of the Fourth International, had entered into a political alliance
Socialist Labour League to the SWP leadership written on with a bourgeois governing party. This was clear proof that
January 2, 1961 called for an international congress of revisionism had now become an indispensable element in
orthodox Trotskyists to clarify the world movement’s the defense of world capitalism against the proletarian
position on Pabloite revisionism. The letter also called revolution. The SWP could not escape responsibility for
attention to signs of a movement by the SWP against the the events in Ceylon. It had repeatedly bolstered the
International Committee and toward capitulation to reputation of these notorious parliamentary opportunists
Pabloism. and had worked with them to organize the reunification
The collaboration between the International Committee and the splitting of the International Committee. With
and those within the SWP who opposed its right-wing unparalleled cynicism, the SWP attempted to cover up the
evolution proceeded on the basis of a principled defense of political implications of what had occurred in Ceylon. The
the continuity of Trotskyism. The British comrades of the damage having been done, the Unified Secretariat expelled
International Committee repeatedly insisted that colla­ the majority of the LSSP as a face-saving device, but
boration was only possible if international considerations refused to permit discussion within its ranks concerning the
and the historical issues confronting the world Trotskyist political background of the betrayal.
movement were made the starting point of the struggle by
the opposition within the SWP. It was on this basis that the It was on this question of international principle that the
International Committee began to collaborate with Tim struggle within the SWP against Pabloite opportunism was
Wohlforth. The International Committee made it clear brought to a head. It was not an American question on
that its struggle with the SWP did not proceed from the which the foundation of the Workers League was set, but
standpoint of isolated political differences over Cuba, but rather on the question of the betrayal of Ceylon. When Tim
rather from the fundamental historical principles Wohlforth attempted to raise the question of the events in
elaborated by Trotsky in the course of the struggle to found Ceylon within the SWP, he was expelled along with eight
the Fourth International. The training of cadre could only other supporters of the International Committee. The man
proceed on the basis of the struggle to defend the historical who organized the expulsions was Joseph Hansen. The nine
continuity of world Trotskyism. This method clashed expelled members then formed the American Committee
sharply with the pragmatic and subjective method of for the Fourth International (ACFI) and immediately
James Robertson, the leader of another opposition group began publishing the mimeographed “Bulletin of Interna­
within the SWP, who claimed agreement with the positions tional Socialism.”
of the International Committee against the opportunism of Between 1964 and 1966, there was a struggle to assess the
the SWP, but insisted on placing factional considerations lessons of the fight against revisionism and to establish a
above the questions of internationalism. principled basis for the formation of the revolutionary
In the late spring of 1963, the SWP deserted the party in the United States. The International Committee
International Committee and carried out its unprincipled fought continuously to clarify the historical foundations of
reunification with the Pabloites to form the rump “Unified the Trotskyist movement. In doing so, it insisted again and
Secretariat.” Its claim to be defending the Cuban Revolu­ again that the degeneration of the SWP had to be seen as
tion by opportunistically glorifying Castro as a “natural an international issue, and not as a national problem that
33

could be solved by a group of American radicals claiming forced to withdraw them. Hansen’s libels about violence
agreement with the International Committee. and ultra-leftism were the modern day “big lie” equiva­
The refounding of the Trotskyist movement in the lents of Stalin’s slanders and falsification directed against
United States required far more than simply opposing the Trotsky, beginning with the so-called “underestimation of
immediate policies of the SWP and then claiming the peasantry.” Robertson’s function has been nothing
agreement with those of the International Committee. more than to lend out his services for whatever sinister uses
Confronting those who wished to build a movement in required by Hansen.
political solidarity with the International Committee was During the first eight years of its existence, the Workers
the task of basing the fight for the construction of the League was led by Tim Wohlforth. His defense of interna­
revolutionary party on an unflagging defense of the tionalism undertaken in numerous pamphlets and articles
historical continuity of the Fourth International. This proved valuable in assembling new cadres in the United
could only be done if those who undertook this States. Yet from 1971 on, Wohlforth came into ever-
responsibility subordinated themselves and all national deepening conflict with the International Committee.
considerations entirely to the historical requirements of the There were two major factors involved in his rapid
fight to build the International Committee as the World degeneration. The first was the enormous change in the
Party of Socialist Revolution. Here was the source of world situation following the collapse of the Bretton Woods
conflict between the International Committee and the system in August 1971. Despite his correct defense of Trot­
method of pragmatism so strongly ingrained in the United skyist principles against the opportunism of the SWP
States, particularly in the milieu of American radicalism. during the decade of the 1960s, Wohlforth’s practice was
Discussions were organized to prepare the founding of essentially propagandist. However, the crisis unleashed in
the Trotskyist movement in the United States on the August 1971 now required an entirely new turn to the
principles fought for by the International Committee. working class. But Wohlforth became increasingly hostile
Participating was not only the ACFI but also the to the requirements of serious changes in his own practice.
“Spartacist” tendency led by James Robertson. The He now turned back into the middle class. This was
question of the formal unification of these two groups expressed politically in an ever-more frequent tendency to
claiming adherence to the principles of the International drop the demand for a labor party while suggesting that the
Committee was to be considered at its international con­ development of Marxism would proceed entirely outside
ference in April 1966. But at the conference, the Robert- the struggles of the working class. For example, at one
sonites demonstrated that they would not subordinate point Wohlforth developed the position that radicalized
their faction and its clique interests to the discipline and prisoners in the American penal system would be the most
the historically established authority of the International advanced section in the development of Marxism.
Committee. Robertson exposed himself as an incorrigible The second factor in his deepening conflict with the
pragmatist and subjective idealist, a representative of a International Committee was Wohlforth’s inability to
petty bourgeois American radical sect whose fundamental break from the pragmatic methods from which he had
class position was one of total hostility to Marxist never really broken despite his principled stand against the
principles. When Robertson refused to attend sessions of opportunism of the SWP. This was repeatedly expressed in
the international conference at which criticisms of his own Wohlforth’s attempts to adapt to the forms of the political
report were to be heard, on grounds of “personal privilege,” work of the International Committee, especially to that of
and then refused to apologize to the assembled delegates of its leading section, the SLL (which became in 1973 the
the International Committee for his behavior, he was Workers Revolutionary Party), without ever assimilating
expelled. The ACFI repudiated the anti-internationalism the dialectical materialist method through which its inter­
and chauvinism of the Spartacist tendency. This princi­ ventions in the working class are continuously prepared.
pled stand taken by the ACFI was a fundamental gain for Wohlforth never came to grips with the fact that the
world Trotskyism and made possible the founding of the essence of the political work of the International Commit­
Workers League. tee was the unceasing struggle to train cadre on the basis of
The chauvinism and petty-bourgeois subjective idealism the historical continuity of its struggle for Trotskyism. In
of Robertson made him ideally suited to serve as a politi­ 1973, Wohlforth’s growing hostility to the perspectives and
cal hitman for Hansen. It soon became clear that Robert­ historical achievements of the International Committee
son had attended the Third Congress of the International crystallized when he invited the thoroughly reactionary
Committee as an agent for Hansen and that his job was to and middle-class “Spartacist” sect — with whom the
have been the disruption of the conference. In fact as far International Committee had totally settled political
back as 1962 the real function of Robertson’s “opposition” accounts in 1966 and whom it had exposed as hitmen for
sect had been to divert political discussion away from the Hansen — for joint debates on the history of the Trotskyist
principled questions of Trotskyism and also to sabotage the movement since 1953!
political struggle against Pabloism inside the SWP. The International Committee fought patiently to correct
After being expelled from the IC conference, Robertson Wohlforth, but the development of the crisis drove him
attempted to salvage his mission by handing over to further to the right. The last year of his leadership in the
Hansen documents from the International Committee. Workers League was one of unprecedented crisis for world
Hansen used these documents in order to launch a criminal imperialism and U.S. capitalism. The disintegration of the
political campaign aimed at framing Comrade G. Healy, a Nixon administration, the fall of the Tory government in
leader of the SLL (predecessor to the WRP). This was Great Britain, the Arab-Israeli War, the quadrupling of oil
followed by the orchestration of an incident involving a prices, the collapse of the fascist regime in Portugal and the
Pabloite provocateur, E. Tate, which was set up by Hansen breakdown of the military junta in Greece were the
to frame the International Committee and Comrade Healy manifestations of the qualitative transformation in the
as “violent.” This provocation was soon exposed when a world crisis as the outcome of the August 1971 measures
newspaper which had reprinted Tate’s allegations was which ended the Bretton Woods system. At this point,
34

Wohlforth collapsed politically beneath the pressures Hansen (while privately advancing the opinion that he was
exerted by imperialism upon the revolutionary movement. a police agent), Wohlforth turned almost overnight into a
The form which this collapse ultimately assumed was his supporter of Hansen and all the political lines he had
violation of the most fundamental security requirements of opposed in writing for years. Hansen readily took
the revolutionary party. He concealed from the leadership Wohlforth in, stating that “his sincerity is undeniable” and
of the Workers League and the International Committee wishing him better luck in his next venture — which
the fact that his personal companion, Nancy Fields, had proved to be Wohlforth’s election to the national commit­
close family connections with the Central Intelligence tee of the SWP.
Agency. While concealing the fact that Fields might be a But far from being a loss for the International Commit­
security risk, he brought her into the central leadership of tee, the lessons derived from the struggle against Wohlforth
the Workers League and delegated to her virtually provided invaluable historical and theoretical lessons for
unlimited authority to direct the work of the Party the building of the Trotskyist movement in the United
branches. In the course of one year, nearly one hundred States and throughout the world.
members of the Workers League had been driven out of the It was Hansen’s defense of Wohlforth’s violation of the
Party — including more than one half of its Central Workers League’s security that immediately raised the
Committee. The wrecking operation undertaken by Fields historical questions long unanswered in the Fourth
could not have been more destructive to the Party had it International arising from the assassination of Leon
been organized by the “Dirty Tricks” department of the Trotsky. Wohlforth’s desertion, quite to his own dismay
CIA! Fields’ activities were supported — indeed, they had and that of those who sanctioned his betrayal, led to the
been made possible — by Wohlforth. He went so far as to unmasking of the vast apparatus of agents assembled by
nominate her to attend an important international the Stalinists and imperialists within the Trotskyist
conference in the Spring of 1974. movement.
This smashing-up operation was stopped in August 1974 This was by no means accidental. Wohlforth’s betrayal
when the Central Committee of the Workers League cannot be understood as the product of his personal faults.
discovered Fields’ CIA associations for the first time. Just Working through Wohlforth were definite class interests to
two weeks before this discovery was made, Wohlforth was which the “personality” question was entirely subordinate.
specifically asked by comrades in the international The class pressures to which Wohlforth succumbed were
movement if he had any grounds to suspect that Fields produced by changes in the world crisis and the
might have connections with the CIA. Wohlforth development of the class struggle on an international scale.
emphatically said no. However, when confronted with The renegacy of Wohlforth in the United States was by no
definite proof that the uncle in whose home she had been means an isolated event. It was foreshadowed in the
raised and who had supported her financially through abandonment of Trotskyism by the French OCI in the
college, Albert Morris, was an important figure in the CIA period between 1967 and 1971, culminating in the split at
and a friend of Richard Helms, Wohlforth admitted that he Essen in July of the latter year. Almost at the same time as
had concealed this information from the Party. He stated Wohlforth was preparing to desert the Workers League,
that he had not thought the information to be important. Alan Thomett, a member of the Central Committee of the
However, he supported — along with Fields — a motion WRP in Great Britain, went over to revisionism and set out
introduced and unanimously carried on the Central to smash the Party. The political content of his right-wing
Committee for his removal as national secretary. Another turn was a capitulation to social democracy following the
unanimously accepted motion called for the suspension of election of the Labour Government in February 1974. But
Nancy Fields pending an investigation by an international the leadership of the Party defeated Thornett and he was
commission into this serious breach of security. expelled for violating the discipline of the WRP. One year
The leadership of the Workers League had acted in an later, Sklavos, the leader of the Greek section of the Inter­
absolutely principled way. It would under no conditions national Committee, had to be expelled after breaking the
place the individual prestige of any member above the discipline of his own movement. He soon became an
security of the international movement. accomplice of Hansen and is today a supporter of Euro-
But less than one month after supporting the motions on Stalinism.
the Central Committee, Wohlforth suddenly resigned from
the Workers League and sent a vitriolic letter denouncing
the International Committee and stating his refusal to The desertion of Wohlforth from the Workers League in
participate in the commission of inquiry that was due to September 1974 marked a decisive turning point in the
begin within a few days. Nancy Fields did not even bother development of Trotskyism in the United States. The
to inform the Party ofTier decision to desert the movement. struggle by the leadership of the Workers League, in colla­
boration with the International Committee, against the
Not a single member of the Workers League followed pragmatic methods which underlay Wohlforth’s renegacy
Wohlforth out of the Party. has established an indestructible basis for the building of
The pace of Wohlforth’s ensuing degeneration into a the revolutionary party. The essence of the struggle against
political prostitute for revisionism and the agencies of pragmatism has been contained in the fight to base the
counter-revolution can find no parallel in the history of the practice of the Workers League on the historical continuity
Trotskyist movement. He resigned from the Workers of the World Trotskyist Movement embodied in the 40 year
League on September 29, 1974. By January 1975 Wohlforth history of the Fourth International and the 25 year history
was already renouncing his entire history as a supporter of of the International Committee’s struggle to defend its
the International Committee dating back to 1960! After revolutionary principles against all forms of revisionism
having spent more than a decade publicly denouncing and pragmatism.
35

Th e You ng Socialists

There can be no revolutionary party without a International Committee. Without the struggle against the
revolutionary youth movement. The key to the OCI, the IC would not have been able to develop a single
transformation of the Workers League is the training of a youth as a revolutionary. When the OCI rejected the need
cadre among the youth on the principles of Trotskyism, the for Marxism as the basis for the building of a revolutionary
Marxism of today. youth movement, they were bowing to the spontaneous
It is from among the youth that the party will get the consciousness of the working class.
forces that can fight for the building of a labor party The experience of the Euro Marches has shown that
against the entire labor bureaucracy, the Stalinists and youth will be trained only out of the most advanced theory
revisionists. and practices. The youth on the march were not trained by
The revolutions in Iran, Vietnam and Angola and the narrow discussion on the conditions in this or that city or
struggles of the PLO, SWAPO and the Patriotic Front town which the march was passing through, but only by the
(ZANU and ZAPU) have shown the endless capacity of the political struggle over the basic questions facing our
youth to sacrifice for the revolution. But they require movement — the role of Stalinism and revisionism; the
leadership. historic role of the working class in the social revolution
While the youth spontaneously move towards revolution and the relationship of the youth; what the nature of
in their practice, they remain dom inated by the capitalism is and the development of the economic crisis.
consciousness of the bourgeoisie. Without the NLF in This political fight could only be taken up at the same
Vietnam, the MPLA in Angola, the Khomeini movement time as an organized practice was set up to turn the
in Iran and the many years of struggle by the leadership of marchers to the labor movement to fight for socialist
the PLO, SWAPO and the Patriotic Front, the youth could policies, recruit members and build new sections of the
not have been trained and prepared for the revolution. International Committee.
But in the advanced capitalist countries, in the United In establishing the building of a labor party as the
States which is the center of imperialist reaction, the cornerstone of the party’s strategy for power in the United
struggle for the most advanced level of theory becomes States, the Workers League is setting out the perspective
absolutely decisive to combat bourgeois ideology. for the building of the revolutionary youth movement.
While youth in the United States are being forced more The fight to bring Marxism into the working class must
and more to revolution by the development of the crisis, above all be carried out by the youth in struggle against the
their consciousness remains under the influence of the trade union bureaucracy, Stalinism and revisionism. The
ruling class. Party does not direct the youth to the unions so that they
It is only through the practice and struggle of the Young can become trade unionists but precisely so that they can
Socialists set up by the Workers League that youth can be divert the spontaneous consciousness of the working class
broken from the thinking of the bourgeoisie and to independent class politics.
scientifically conduct the struggle for power. It is in the fight to turn youth to the unions for the
The party does not have two perspectives: one for youth building of a labor party that we will be able to fight out all
and one for workers. It is one perspective: outlining the the backwardness among the youth of individualism,
strategy for power which must especially be fought for racism and nationalism.
among the youth. A so-called turn to the trade unions without fighting to
The assassination of Tom Henehan was above all organize the youth on the party’s perspectives can only
directed against the building and training of a leadership mean the most opportunist relationships with the working
among the youth armed with a perspective for the social class, in which the party will only be able to attract the
revolution. It showed the enormous fear of the ruling class most conservative layers in the trade unions.
to facing the power of a conscious leadership among the The organization of the YS cannot be separated from its
youth. politics. The fight for the setting up of branches, branch
Tom represented the forces which are coming forward committees, federations and regions is not a haphazard
out of the working class and the youth to fight capitalism in practice. It was scientifically developed by the ICFI,
the United States. His training as a revolutionary could particularly through the experiences of the British YS in its
only have come from the struggle conducted by the struggle against the bankrupt policies of the British Labour
Workers League. Tom became a leader of the party because Party.
he fought to organize and train other youth and workers on The Young Socialists is the only mass organization of the
the necessity for the building of a labor party as a necessary party through which thousands of youth must pass. It will
step in the struggle for socialism. be in the fight to hold the organization and to place youth
It is this which terrified the ruling class so much. Tom in responsibilities of leadership, even if it isjust organizing
was singled out for assassination for his role in the party as a dance or sports activity, and continuously fighting for the
a leader of the Young Socialists. party’s perspectives that we will be able to train and select
In building and training a leadership among the youth, the most advanced youth who will become future leaders of
the Workers League has the vast experiences of the the party.
36

The Historical C o n tin u ity o f Tro tskyis m as th e Basis


o f Cadre Training and th e Struggle A g a in st Pragm atism
The orientation of the Workers League to the working second, idealist standpoint, but in its most reactionary
class and its struggle to prepare the class for its historic role form. It not only rejects the primacy of matter, but it
has not been a matter of a so-called “proletarian orienta­ denies that consciousness itself has any objective content.
tion” as conceived by Cannon. There can be no real turn to Thus, as explained by the pragmatist writer William
the working class outside of the conscious struggle to pre­ James, the world consists neither of m atter nor
serve the lines of historical continuity between the present consciousness. Of what, then, does it consist?
struggles of the working class and the revolutionary party James explained: “My thesis is that if we start with the
as a unity of opposites and the whole content of the supposition that there is only one primal stuff or material
objective historical experiences of the class and the in the world, a stuff of which everything is composed, and if
development of Bolshevism. It is only from the standpoint we call that stuff ‘pure experience,’ then knowing can easily
of the struggle to base the whole work of the Party on the be explained as a particular sort of relation toward one
historical gains of the struggle against revisionism and the another into which portions of pure experience may enter.”
immense political and theoretical capital that is the heri­ Thus, for James, the only reality he was prepared to
tage left behind by Trotsky to the Fourth International recognize was that which presented itself as his own sub­
that the fight against pragmatism within the ranks of the jective experience. He called this form of solipsism “radical
Party and, therefore, in the working class itself can be empiricism.” He wrote:
seriously mounted. As soon as the struggle against “To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into
pragmatism is detached from the fight to maintain the its constructions any element that is not directly exper­
direct historical connections between the daily practice of ienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly
the cadres and the whole body of historical experiences experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that
through which the Trotskyist movement has passed, it connect experiences must themselves be experienced
degenerates into the most impotent forms of verbal relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be
jousting. Or, to put it even more accurately, it becomes accounted as ‘real’ as anything else in the system.”
simply another variety of pragmatism itself. Now we can see the significance of James’ frequently
What is essential to an understanding of pragmatism is noted conception of truth as “what works.” Quite often, an
that it belongs to the most reactionary school of subjective attempt is made to give James a materialist veneer by
idealism. It manifestly rejects the scientific standpoint of suggesting that this somehow parallels the Marxist concep­
Marxism which holds that governing the development of tion of practice as the criterion of truth. This is an
nature, society and consciousness are the general abominable distortion of Marxism. The truth of which
dialectical laws of the universal movement of matter. This pragmatists speak is the entirely subjective, unscientific
scientific world outlook was explained by Engels when he and ultimately illusory “truth” of the individual uncon­
wrote in “Dialectics of Nature”: scious of the objective social laws governing his own
activity (including thinking) and of the objective inter­
“The fact that our subjective thought and the objective connections between himself, nature and the totality of
world are subject to the same laws, and hence, too, that in historically developed society. Marxism, on the other hand,
the final analysis they cannot contradict each other in grasps truth as the objective scientific reflection of the
their results, but must coincide, governs absolutely our movement of universal material nature in the historically
whole theoretical thought ... developed social consciousness of man. The development of
“In the present work dialectics is conceived as the science knowledge is not the product of individual insights by
of the most general laws of all motion. This implies that isolated but clever human beings; rather, it is the objective
the laws must be valid just as much for motion in nature historical product of man’s collective social practice. Man’s
and human history as for the motion of thought. Such a thinking does not develop in a random and casual way. His
law can be recognized in two of these three spheres, development from the unconscious to the conscious,
indeed even in all three, without the metaphysical philis­ proceeds in accordance with the objective dialectical laws
tine being clearly aware that it is one and the same law of matter in motion.
that he has come to know.” (Progress Publishers, 1974, This is what Trotsky meant when he wrote: “Human
pp. 266-7) consciousness nevertheless tends toward a certain homo­
geneity. Philosophy and logic are compelled to rely upon
The pragmatist denies the existence of any objective this homogeneity of human consciousness and not upon
laws governing the movement of nature, society or what this homogeneity lacks, that is, inconsistency.” (“In
consciousness. In fact, the pragmatist considers it entirely Defense of Marxism,” New Park, p. 62.)
irrelevant to even inquire into the existence of such Pragmatism, however, bases itself on nothing else but
objective laws. The two basic schools of philosophy which the “inconsistency” of human thinking in so far as its
have developed historically are those of materialism and development is viewed solely as the isolated thought opera­
idealism. The former takes as its starting point the primacy tions of different people. In short, the pragmatist takes his
of matter over consciousness while the latter insists on the own experience as the only source of truth. Of the historical
primacy of thought over matter. Pragmatism adopts the forces determining his practice and always building up
37

behind him, he knows absolutely nothing — and doesn’t immense reservoir of natural resources of America did pro­
care! vide — within the bounds of definite historical limitations
Pragmatism guides a practice which is invariably hostile — certain room for the exercise of “individualism,”
to considerations of political principle. Such practice is pragmatism enjoyed almost universal (though usually
organically incapable of basing itself on the requirements unconscious) support as the philosophy of individualism.
of the working class in the struggle for power because In a land where “common sense” could resolve the main
pragmatism takes the subjective “needs” of the individual problems of the day because, as Trotsky said, the law of
as its starting point while the class struggle is an objective value did everyone’s thinking for them, William James’
process determined in its development by historical suggestion that ideas be judged by their “cash value”
materialist laws. Inevitably, the pragmatist who guides his seemed like good sound advice.
practice on the basis of the inner “truth” revealed to him in What finally delivered a shattering blow to the
his experience becomes the servant of objective social philosophy of individualism was the outbreak of the
forces — regardless of whether he wishes to recognize their catastrophic social crisis of the Great Depression. The
authority. As Trotsky wrote in relation to the leaders of the American worker learned social thinking under conditions
petty-bourgeois minority in the SWP during the 1939-40 of mass unemployment, mass hunger and mass suffering.
faction fight: “Burnham does not recognize the dialectic, Individualism could not even help the small farmers who
but the dialectic recognizes Burnham, that is, extends its now were being driven off the land and into the big cities.
sway over him. Schachtman thinks that the dialectic has Millions of workers were thrust into the historic social
no importance in political conclusions, but in the political practice of the CIO movement.
conclusions of Shachtman himself we see the deplorable While individualism reasserted itself in the period of
fruits of his disdainful attitude toward the dialectic. We post-war boom, through the impact of the high standard of
should include this example in the textbooks on dialectical living, this was far less important than the fact that
materialism.” (“In Defense of Marxism,” p. 62.) workers were now organized in the largest trade union
A more recent case for the “textbooks” is that of movement in the world, and that they defend these gains
Wohlforth. Nothing illustrates more clearly the utter not as individuals but through their mass organizations.
bankruptcy of the pragmatic method than his evolution. Now, objective conditions make possible a final reckoning
When Wohlforth threw overboard more than a decade of with the pragmatic mode of thinking whose bankruptcy
political history without so much as an explanation, he was becomes more self-evident every day. The transforma­
simply acting upon the outlook of that famous pragmatist tion of the “land of unlimited opportunity” into the “land
Henry Ford who once explained the essence of his world of unlimited suffering” will produce immense possibilities
outlook with the words: “History is bunk!” for the development of Marxism. We may paraphrase Trot­
The reasons for the predominance of pragmatism as the sky afresh: The acceptance of social contradictions as the
national ideology are to be found in the particular charac­ moving force of development will lead to the acceptance of
teristics of the historical development of the United States. the dialectic as the logic of contradictions in the domain of
As Trotsky explained, “In no other country has there been theoretical thought.
such rejection of the class struggle as in the land of But the struggle against pragmatism must be waged
‘unlimited opportunity.’ The denial of social contradic­ consciously within the Party each day. The essence of this
tions as the moving force of development led to the denial struggle is the training of cadre on the basis of the historical
of the dialectic as the logic of contradictions in the domain continuity of Trotskyism.
of theoretical thought.” To understand this more clearly, let us consider the two
Trotsky continued: “ Pragmatism, a mixture of objective elements which serve as the starting point of
revolutionary practice.
rationalism and empiricism, became the national
philosophy of the United States. The theoretical method­ The first is the highest point achieved in the spontaneous
ology of Max Eastman is not fundamentally different from development of the world economic and political crisis of
the methodology of Henry Ford — both regard living capitalism. We are speaking here of all the manifestations
society from the point of view of an ‘engineer’ (East­ of the world crisis: the fall of the dollar, trade figures, a rise
man— platonically). Historically the present disdainful in interest rates, a strike, a raid conducted by freedom
attitude toward the dialectic is explained simply by the fighters in Zimbabwe, an economic summit of imperialist
fact that the grandfathers and great-grandmothers of Max leaders, a mass demonstration, etc. All these developments
Eastman and others did not need the dialectic in order to are the outcome of the historical development of the crisis
conquer territory and enrich themselves. But times have of world capitalism.
changed and the philosophy of pragmatism has entered a The second element is the highest point achieved in the
period of bankruptcy just as has American capitalism.” conscious struggle of the revolutionary party on a world
(“In Defense of Marxism,” p. 57) scale for the development of Marxism. This high point,
Combined with the rejection of the class struggle, in no naturally, is the outcome of the vast historical legacy of
other country did the outlook of “rugged individualism” Trotsky’s struggle: begun in 1923, carried through into the
take hold as powerfully as in the United States. The whole founding of the Fourth International in 1938 and developed
manner in which the United States was settled powerfully into the present day on the basis of the struggle of the
reinforced in the minds of millions the idea that each International Committee against Pabloism since 1953.
individual fashioned his life according to his individual
plans and individual capacities. No matter that the This second element — the high point of conscious
migration from the Old World to the New World was the practice by the International Committee of the Fourth
product of objective historical forces, or that the masses, International — arises on the basis of the objective
upon arriving in the New World, were automatically development of the world crisis. But the cadre of the
subjected to the laws of developing capitalism and the revolutionary party must be trained to sensuously perceive
world market. Precisely because the vast wealth and the world crisis from the highest development of the
38

historically elaborated practice of the world Trotskyist some sort of activity whose “success” is then to be tested in
movement, the International Committee. In other words, the immediate results that are produced.
the development of the crisis and the class struggle can The real heart of cadre training and the struggle against
only be understood through the objective, collective, pragmatism is to defeat the theory and practice of
historically-verified and scientific practice of the Party. subjective idealism, to create the conditions of political
It is something else entirely, in fact, totally pragmatic, to work in which cadres are developed through the
“follow” the crisis through the newspapers or purely subordination of all individualist practice to the discipline,
individual experiences and, on this paltry basis, improvise principles and history of Trotskyism.

Se cu rity and th e Fo u rth In te rn a tio n a l


The struggle to train revolutionary cadre on the basis of Trotskyist movement by these agents was the most terrible
the historical continuity of Trotskyism has attained unpre­ price paid by the international working class for the defeats
cedented power and scope through the investigation of the 1920s and 1930s. These agents were the spearhead of
mounted by the International Committee — beginning in the counter-revolution. They were the embodiment of the
the spring of 1975 at the Sixth World Congress — into the consequences of the defeats of the working class.
circumstances surrounding the assassination of Trotsky in It has been irrefutably established that among the agents
1940. working for the destruction of Trotskyism and the personal
Security and the Fourth International represents nothing destruction of Trotsky has been, dating back to the 1930s
less than the reclamation of the whole historical continuity and until his death on January 18, 1979, the long-time
of Bolshevism through the Fourth International and the leader of the Socialist Workers Party, Joseph Hansen.
International Committee from the evil grip of Stalinist Since the International Committee first discovered in 1975
counter-revolution and falsification. All the lies and dis­ what Hansen had deliberately concealed from the
tortions and crimes committed by Stalinism against Trot­ Trotskyist movement since 1940 — that he held private
skyism, the political embodiment of the struggle for the meetings with the FBI immediately after the assassination
world October; all the monstrous acts committed to of Trotsky — Hansen’s role as a double agent within the
confuse and disorient generations of workers about the real Trotskyist movement has been documented so fully that no
history of the October Revolution and the role of Trotsky — one, least of all Hansen and the SWP, has dared to
these have been dealt a blow from which Stalinism and all challenge it. And he went to his grave a proven informer of
the agencies of imperialist counter-revolution will never the FBI.
recover. The ability of agents like Hansen to flourish and disrupt
Through its investigation, relentlessly unmasking the the work of the Fourth International reflected the
murders, provocations and disruptions carried out by a domination of the counter-revolution and the long period of
vast apparatus of Stalinist and imperialist agents working the post-war boom. But now the tables have been turned,
within the Trotskyist movement, the International both as a result of the change in the objective situation and
Committee has floodlit the whole history of the Fourth the intransigent struggle waged by the International
International. Committee for principles. The high point of this struggle
From 1923 on, when the first slanders were raised about was the fight against Wohlforth by the International
Trotsky’s so-called “under-estimation of the peasantry” Committee and the Workers League. This struggle not only
and stories were concocted about his alleged disagree­ revealed the reactionary idealist basis of Wohlforth’s
ments with Lenin, reaction wielded the weapon of the “Big politics, but succeeded in flushing Hansen out into the
Lie” to distort and discredit the principled political line open.
defended by Leon Trotsky, the co-leader of the October As its prosecution of the investigation into Security and
Revolution. The lies of the Thermidorians in the mid-1920s the Fourth International has been the expression of the
paved the way for the bestial amalgams and fabrications of International Committee’s devotion to the principles of
the Stalinist bureaucracy. The Moscow Trials, which Trotskyism, the response of the SWP and revisionist
resulted in the liquidation of the whole surviving cadre of organizations all over the world has been the most
the Bolshevik Party, was the most naked historical expres­ unmistakable demonstration of their utter political
sion of the counter-revolutionary function of the political depravity. As for the SWP itself, it can be said without any
lie. The political liar is the handy-man of the counter­ exaggeration whatsoever that it is the first party ever
revolution. claiming to be Trotskyist that has been completely taken
As the investigation into Security and the Fourth over by the combined agencies of imperialism and
International has shown, the Stalinist bureaucracy sought Stalinism. The SWP could be called far more appro­
to flood the Trotskyist movement with agents. Their priately — the “Socialist Agents Party.” Its silence in the
ultimate goal was the murder of Trotsky, his son Sedov, face of the overwhelming evidence presented by the
their most trusted co-workers, and, through these crimes, International Committee of Hansen’s role as a double agent
destroy the Fourth International. The infiltration of the of the GPU-KGB and of the FBI is proof of this.
39

The SWP’s silence on Hansen only serves to bring out the Not one of these charges has ever been answered. The
squalid degradation of revisionism. Everyone in the SWP case against Hansen is beyond refutation. He was the key
knows that Hansen was an agent, but they live with this figure in the conspiracy by imperialism to destroy the
day after day. Irresistibly, the SWP is being forced down a Fourth International. His activities within the Fourth
one-way street toward political disaster and oblivion. As International — the destruction of sections, the gross
Trotsky once said: “The great events which rush upon political disorientation of its members, the organization of
mankind will not leave of these outlived organizations one provocations like the notorious Tate affair in 1966 — have
stone upon another.” Through its toleration of agents and simply been an extension of the role he played as an accom­
the accomplices of Trotsky’s killer, the SWP has forfeited plice in Trotsky’s assassination. We raise the issue of
irrevocably any claim to political connection with Hansen not because he was an individual criminal —
Trotskyism. which, of course, he was — but because he personified the
principal strategy of the counter-revolution: TO
What has already been exposed by the International PREVENT AT ALL COSTS THE BUILDING OF
Committee is devastating. The following has been proven IN D E P E N D E N T R E V O L U T IO N A R Y , i .e .,
about Hansen’s activities during the course of the TROTSKYIST LEADERSHIP IN THE WORKING
Investigation: CLASS.
* He established contact with the FBI immediately after The importance to imperialism of the gang of agents led
Trotsky’s assassination, held unauthorized discussions by Hansen within the SWP was clearly demonstrated when
with its representatives, turned over party manuscripts, Attorney General Griffin Bell was called by President
documents and correspondence, and then offered to supply Carter to a secret conference in Camp David, where he re­
confidential information to top FBI officers on the condi­ ceived instructions that he was to risk conviction for
tion that his impunity was guaranteed. contempt of court and a possible jail sentence rather than
* Hansen was suspected by the FBI of being associated hand over to SWP lawyers the names of 18 out of 66 FBI
with the GPU, and Hoover wanted him questioned for his informers now operating within the SWP.
possible involvement in the alleged murder of George During the appeal of the contempt citation in November,
Mink, a notorious GPU killer. 1978, U.S. attorney Robert Fiske, Jr. stated that the
* Hansen met with the director of the FBI in New York government was prepared to forfeit $40 million rather than
City, Mr. B.E. Sackett, after “respectfully” thanking a release the contested files. He claimed that to name the 18
Government official for arranging the interview. agents would cause “incalculable harm to the nation’s
* The material Hansen handed over the Government, ability to protect itself.”
containing names of possible GPU agents, was virtually This meant that Hansen was operating with the direct
identical to that made available secretly by the notorious protection of American imperialism. No other agent in
stoolpigeon, Whittaker Chambers, approximately one year history has had such sustained high-level backing.
earlier. The proof that the SWP is stage managed by the FBI
* The real identity of the GPU agent “John,” whom itself is that SWP leaders have told the government that
Hansen met — according to his own account to the FBI — they will drop legal efforts to obtain the identities of the
for a period of several months in 1939, was none other than FBI agents inside the organization in exchange for a $5
the assassin of Trotsky, the GPU killer Ramon Mercader. million cash settlement.
When Mercader passed through the gates of Trotsky’s villa This poses grave dangers to the Workers League and the
in order to murder the great Bolshevik leader, he was International Committee. Hansen could not answer these
known as a GPU agent to Hansen — who was on guard duty charges with words and neither will his agents. Their only
the afternoon of the assassination and admitted Mercader recourse is to prepare fresh attacks, new frame-ups,
into the compound. provocations, slanders, and, through all these insidious
* Hansen had systematically sought to protect the methods, lay the groundwork for new assassinations.
exposure of his GPU associates who worked with him in the Hansen and the nest of FBI-KGB agents within the SWP
plot against Trotsky and the Fourth International. He are the tools of the counter-revolution. As the history of
defended as an “exemplary comrade” the proven GPU GPU violence against the Trotskyist movement has amply
agent Sylvia Franklin — who worked as Cannon’s personal demonstrated, and as the more recent revelations concern­
secretary in the national headquarters of the SWP between ing the murderous activities of FBI informers have shown,
1938 and 1947. the central task of agents is to prepare and then carry out
assassinations. Nothing could be more grotesque than the
* Hansen left behind him an organization of carefully
SWP’s justification for allowing agents to roam at will
trained agents placed strategically inside the leadership of
the revisionist groups throughout the world. The head­ through their party — “Agents do good work.” This
quarters of Hansen’s operation was and remains the weekly statement, heard so often from SWP “leaders” and
members, is a confession of the most servile cowardice,
magazine Intercontinental Press set up in 1963 and
spinelessness and political impotence. They are admitting
published in the New York City national offices of the SWP
that political control of the SWP rests in the hands of
and with a special bureau in Paris. Included in Hansen’s
agents and informers whose combined role is the
world network are Fausto Amador, the United Secre­
organization of assassinations and other forms of violence
tariat’s representative in Central America, and Allen
against the Trotskyist movement.
Myers, leader of the Australian Socialist Workers Party,
and his companion Helen Jarvis. All of these figures have All these forces and agencies of the Kremlin bureau­
proven CIA and State Department connections. cracy and the imperialist state recognize that Trotskyism
40

— the International Committee of the Fourth Interna­ Trotskyism it has established itself indisputably as the
tional — represents the greatest danger to their continued Fourth International.
existence. This is not only because of the “revelations” of
Security and the Fourth International. This investigation
is the most advanced material expression of the struggle by In turn, as a result of its 12 years of principled struggle
the International Committee for the political indepen­ against revisionism, its fight to assimilate and base its
dence of the working class under the leadership of the practice on the lessons of the struggle against
revolutionary party. Security and the Fourth W ohlforth’s opportunism , and its un h esitatin g
International is the outcome of the struggle for principles. collaboration with the International Committee in the
That it has carried through this struggle to expose the historic battle of Security and the Fourth International, the
agents of Stalinism and imperialism flowed from the entire Workers League has unquestionably established that the
political history of the International Committee. Through struggle for Trotskyism in the United States has proceeded
this long historical struggle to defend the continuity of through the struggle to build the Workers League.

Th e Assa ssin a tio n o f To m H enehan


The International Committee and the Workers League be reported, this line not only repeats the position of the
have paid a heavy historical price for their fight to liberate police, who have carried out no investigation, but is also in
the world Trotskyist movement from the grip of the agents all essentials identical to the line used by the Stalinists
in the service of Stalinism and imperialism. The assas­ after the assassination of Trotsky: that he was killed by a
sination of Comrade Tom Henehan, a member of the “disgruntled Trotskyist” and it was thus not a political
Political Committee of the Workers League, and the murder. The assassination of Trotsky on August 20, 1940
wounding of another member, Comrade Jacques Vielot, on marked the highpoint in the spread of counter-revolution
October 16, 1977 was the savage response of the forces of based on the defeats of the working class in Europe. The
world imperialism to our struggle for Trotskyist principles. murder of Tom Henehan, however, came at the very point
Neither the silence of the capitalist press nor the obscene of the qualitative advance of the world revolution to new
claims by the revisionists that Henehan’s death was “non­ heights. Nothing could be more dangerous than to
political” can disguise the fact that his assassination was underestimate the historical significance of the struggles of
the most important political killing ever to take place in the International Committee. The defeats it has inflicted
the United States. upon revisionism represent devastating blows to world
imperialism. One can say with irreproachable accuracy
It came only two months after the International Commit­ that there are three events which occurred in the mid-1970s
tee had exposed the FBI connections of Joseph Hansen. from wich American imperialism will never recover. The
Earlier, in May 1977 after the International Committee
first was the defeat in Vietnam. The second was the
had blown the cover of Hansen’s defense of Sylvia Franklin
political defeat of Wohlforth in the Central Committee of
by locating and interviewing Cannon’s GPU secretary in
the Workers League. And the third was the launching and
the Midwest we warned that provocations would be pre­
pared against sections and supporters of the International prosecution of the investigation into Security and the
Fourth International.
Committee all over the world. Within weeks of this warning
Of these three, it can be said without the slightest
the SWP under the direction of Joseph Hansen began a
immodesty that the last two shall prove to have been the
campaign to label the Workers League as a violent most historically decisive in sealing the fate of imperialism
organization. Incidents were fabricated and published in — understanding, of course, that the impetus to the
The Militant to create an atmosphere of hysteria in order to
political conquests of the International Committee has
facilitate the use of violence against our party. Hansen
been precisely the heroic upsurge of the world revolution as
himself stated that as a result of the investigation into
expressed in the indomitable national liberation struggles.
Seturity and the Fourth International the International
In the struggle against Wohlforth, powerful foundations
Committee faced “deadly consequences.” Finally, at a
were laid down by the Intemationl Committee for the
political function of the Young Socialists being supervised
building of the revolutionary party in the heart of world
by members of the Workers League, a gang of professional
imperialism.
assassins murdered Henehan and wounded Vielot. The
capitalist press printed nothing about this political In the launching of the investigation into Security and
murder. This silence was maintained as well by the the Fourth International, the conditions were created to
Stalinists in their organ, The Daily World, and by the drive the agencies of imperialism and Stalinism out of the
revisionists in their newspaper, The Militant. For the Trotskyist movement, and create unprecedented
Communist Party its silence is entirely in keeping with its opportunities for the forging of the world party of socialist
longstanding policy of supporting the murder of Trot­ revolution. There is no prospect which frightens American
skyists. As for the claim of the revisionists that Henehan’s imperialism and the Kremlin bureaucracy more.
death was non-political and therefore does not deserve to It was none other than Carter’s national security adviser,
41

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who once wrote that the capitalist defeated. The practice of security is the conscious struggle
state’s “use of force must be designed not only to eliminate each day for the maximum political awareness and the
the revolutionary challenge, but to make certain that the most refined sensitivity toward changes in the world crisis.
revolutionary forces cannot later rally again under the It requires a daily fight against all forms of impressionism
same leadership. If that leadership cannot be physically and routinism which render comrades disarmed and
liquidated, it can at least be expelled from the country (or incapable of sensuously perceiving the transitions and
area) in which the revolution is taking place.” interconnections between phenomena in the class struggle,
Comrade Henehan made the supreme sacrifice of a without which it is impossible to orient the movement
revolutionary. His life represents a conquest of the under conditions of rapid change.
International Com m ittee’s struggle for Trotskyist If the method is the man, then security is the party. It is
principles in the United States. That struggle was the not what men say, but what they do, that counts. A revolu­
driving force of Tom Henehan’s political development. He tionary perspective without the practice of security is as
represented not only the best element of the American incompatible as Marxism and pacifism. The working class
working class, but also foreshadowed the type of heroic will respect and adhere only to a movement which shows
revolutionary fighters who will emerge by the thousands that it is capable of defending itself against the attacks of
out of the American working class and drive forward like a imperialism. In this, too, we base ourselves on the
tidal wave into the Trotskyist movement. traditions of Leninism which, as Trotsky said, is “warlike
Thousands of workers have signed petitions and officials from head to foot.”
representing millions of workers in the trade union The murder of Tom Henehan has proven with brutal
movement, as well as student and professional leaders have clarity that the struggle for power in the United States will
already sent letters to Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene be no less bitter and protracted than in any other country
Gold demanding that a full investigation into the murder in the world. In fact, in no other country will the
get underway. This reflects the widespread and growing bourgeoisie resist the social revolution with greater ferocity
outrage over the buildup of state violence and provocations than in the land of “free enterprise.”
against the working class. It would be a serious mistake to conceive of the American
The Workers League will continue to campaign tirelessly revolution solely from the standpoint of the great strike
for the exposure of those who plotted and executed the strugggles of the 1930s. The historical task at hand is not
political murder of Tom Henehan. It will continue to bring the organization of trade unions in basic industry, but
to the attention of millions of workers, students and rather the establishment of the dictatorship of the prole­
professionals the facts of Tom Henehan’s murder, and it tariat in the most advanced capitalist country. Under
will mobilize the broadest support for action to uncover the certain conditions, the ruling class can be compelled to
guilty. confer recognition on the claims of a trade union as a result
But, at the same time, it views the assassination of of a sit-down strike. Under no conditions can the ruling
Henehan as a serious political warning. The political class recognize the claims of the revolutionary party — its
training of every cadre must include as a central element overthrow.
the conscious embedding of a deep appreciation of the need All the general features of the development of the world
for security. It is not enough to warn that the assassin is revolution will inevitably find their most concentrated
preparing to strike. The plans of the enemy must be expression in the American social revolution.
42

PART III
TASKS OF THE WORKERS LEAGUE
The preparation of the struggle for power in the workers Workers and Farmers government to carry out a program of
movement must be centered on the fight for the building of socialist policies:
a mass labor party to establish the political independence
of the working class. This is the indispensable political Program
foundation for the organization of the masses for the over­ STOP UNEMPLOYMENT AND INFLATION.
throw of capitalism in the United States. The emergence of The whole policy of the ruling class is to make the
the mass movement for a labor party — consciously fought working class pay the savage price for this crisis through
for by the Workers League — will signify the real begin­ the destruction of living standards and jobs and the
ning of the struggle for power in the United States. systematic impoverishment of millions. The working class
The labor party will not be — whatever its initial ex­ must have its own policy to meet this crisis, to stop
ternal form — a reformist appeal for improved representa­ unemployment and inflation, to defend the rights workers
tion in Congress. It will be an explosive and violent have won in struggle, to expropriate the bankrupt ruling
outburst from the depths of the American working class class and to establish a planned economy, organized to
against the whole political and social order of capitalism. It meet the needs of millions of workers and middle class
will draw millions into a political struggle that will inexor­ people rather than the profits of the tiny handful of mono­
ably grow into a vast revolutionary upheaval unequalled in polists.
world history. Strikes and industrial conflicts will be just
the first and by no means exclusive forms this struggle will * Nationalize basic industry and the banks, insurance
assume. The American working class will drive relent­ companies and mutual funds, under workers’ control
lessly ahead, testing every form of struggle, until it has without any compensation to the owners. Open the books of
found the means to break the back of the employers by big business to establish the case for nationalization.
smashing their state. *Take the profit out of food by nationalizing the food
The call for a Congress of Labor to establish a labor party monopolies and retail chains. End all speculation in food,
and the inseparable complementary demand for a land, and raw materials by abolishing the commodities
Workers and Farmers Government have the essential markets, the Stock Exchange, the currency and gold ex­
significance of directing the working class toward this changes.
historically-imperative revolutionary goal. But neither the *End unemployment. The right of every worker to a job
labor party nor a Workers and Farmers Government can at union-scale wages. Create millions of new jobs by
achieve that goal. The overthrow of capitalism and the establishing a 30 hour week at 40 hours pay. Reopen all
establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the closed plants and facilities and bring up production to full
exclusive historical responsibility of the Trotskyist-led capacity at partially utilized plants. Establish a centrally
revolutionary party. planned economy to meet needs, not profit!
The immediate task ahead, the preparation of the *Abolish all forms of wage controls. Full cost-of-living
masses for the struggle for power, consists in providing the escalator clauses in every contract and big wage increases
mass movement with the necessary political orientation. to compensate for the recent loss in real purchasing power.
This orientation is provided through the fight for a Labor Guaranteed minimum wage set at average annual cost of
Party. living. End all forms of government conciliation, media­
The Workers League fights for the Labor Party and for a tion and arbitration.
43

STOP THE BUDGET CUTS! EXPAND SOCIAL provide ready access to cheap credit. Massive publicly
SERVICES! financed flood-control and irrigation programs must be set
At the heart of the government’s attacks on the working up in rural areas.
class are the massive cuts in public spending and the The agricultural monopolies and giant ranches must be
gutting of essential social services. Millions of workers and nationalized without compensation under workers’ control.
their families are being condemned to live in the worst pos­ Full union-scale wages and working conditions for all
sible conditions, as whole cities are turned into slums, agricultural workers, including all migrant laborers.
roads decay, hospitals and schools are closed down,
garbage lies uncollected and fires burn out of control. D E F E N D THE RI G HT S OF I M MI G R A N T
Meanwhile, public service workers are being thrown on the WORKERS!
unemployment lines or are having their wages and contract Millions of workers, especially from Latin America, are
rights ripped apart. Social services are not a privilege but a subjected to the most ruthless exploitation, working for
right won by the working class. starvation wages and constantly subject to arrest and
deportation by Immigration and Naturalization Service
*Publicly financed construction to provide high quality
housing for working class families, with rent to be set at no agents. At the same time these workers are used as a
whipping post by the government and the ruling class to
more than 10 percent of monthly income! justify unemployment. The methods used against immi­
*Free medical care for all, including hospitalization, grant workers, especially proposals for a national ID card
surgery, dental and optical care! system, are the preparation for attacks on the entire
*Billions more for education. Free university education working class.
for all. Every youth has the right to adequate job training. * Stop all deportations! Disband the INS! Full rights for
*Abolish Proposition 13 and all similar measures aimed all workers from all countries to work in the U.S. and to join
at slashing social services and attacking the jobs of public trade unions!
service workers. The “tax revolt” campaign is a cynical
fraud pushed by the government to hide its ruthless FULL RIGHTS FOR NATIVE AMERICANS!
budget cutting while big business gets a massive tax break. The American Indians were the first victims of the
Instead, there must be 100 percent taxation on all annual ruthless drive for profit by U.S. capitalism. The latter
incomes over $50,000 to pay for the expansion of social ser­ prepared for its role as an imperialist power through the
vices while all taxes on annual incomes below $25,000 systematic genocide of the native population. Ever since
should be abolished. then, the treaty rights of the Indian population have been
continuously abrogated and organizations, especially the
FOR D E C E N T AND S AFE WORKI N G American Indian Movement, have been subject to ruthless
CONDITIONS! attacks by the FBI.
*Stop brown lung, black lung and all other occupa­ * Stop the attacks on native Americans! Full compliance
tional diseases and hazards. Guaranteed standards to elim­ with all treaty rights! Drop all charges against Dennis
inate all risks to workers’ health, to be enforced by union Banks and other members of AIM!
committees. Full compensation to the millions of workers
and their families who have been exposed to the hundreds
of carcinogens and toxic substances because of big DEFEND WORKERS’ DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS!
business’ ruthless profit drive. DEFEND THE TRADE UNIONS!
The democratic rights of the working class were not
DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF SENIOR CITIZENS! granted by the ruling class and its bourgeois democratic
Capitalism squeezes evory ounce of profit out of workers state but were won in struggle against them.
during their productive lives, then throws them on the In its earliest days, the bourgeoisie was forced to grant
scrap heap. It offers nothing to the elderly except miser­ certain universal rights in order in order to unify the nation
ably inadequate pensions and an early grave. A Workers behind it in its struggle against the colonial power. These
and Farmers government must provide a guaranteed included the right to assembly, free speech, the press, etc.,
annual income for all senior citizens which adequately which are contained in the Constitution. Then, as always,
meets the cost of living and is adjusted for any rise in infla­ the cardinal right recognized by the bourgeoisie was the
tion. The right to full pensions at age 55! right to own private property and to make profit.
The bourgeois democratic state fought tooth-and-nail
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN WORKERS! against every attempt of the working class to establish its
* Free day care facilities for all working mothers! The own democratic rights — the right to organize trade unions,
right to free and medically safe abortions for all women! to bargain collectively, to picket and to strike. Each one of
Equal pay for equal work! these rights was won in battle and consolidated in blood.
Now, in the period of capitalism’s death agony, bourgeois
DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF SMALL FARMERS! democracy not only tries to dispense with those original
The small family farmer is being driven into bankruptcy rights it granted in the Constitution, but launches the most
at a record pace, as the banks cut off credit and foreclose on ruthless assault on the democratic rights of the working
mortgages and the government works hand in glove with class. The bourgeois democratic state is today the ante­
the giant agribusinesses to economically strangle the small chamber for police-military dictatorship. The rights of the
farmer. The recent farmers’ strike showed that the small working class can only be defended through the struggle for
farmer will be a powerful ally of the working class in its power.
struggle against the Carter government and the ruling A Workers and Farmers government must:
class. *Abolish all anti-union laws such as Taft-Hartley, Lan­
A Workers and Farmers government must guarantee drum-Griffin, the Taylor Law and the Ferguson Act.
parity to small farmers. State banks must be established to Outlaw all ‘Open Shop’ statutes. No restrictions on the
44

right of all workers to organize unions, bargain collec­ UNITE ALL WORKERS AGAINST THE POISON OF
tively, the right to strike, and the right to picket. RACISM!
* Free all political prisoners including Gary Tyler, * End all racial discrimination in employment, housing,
“Hurricane” Carter, John Artis and the Wilmington Ten. and education. Equal rights for all. Abolish all forms of
Abolish the death penalty. racial quotas. The answer to racism is not quotas but jobs
for all.
* Abolish the Supreme Court, which in countless rulings * Disband and outlaw all racist and fascist organiza­
has revealed itself as a reactionary club of the ruling class tions. Establish workers’ defense guards to defend the
against the democratic rights of the working class. working class against strikebreakers and racists.
* Abolish the Presidency. The White House was exposed
by the Watergate scandal as the center of Bonapartist FOR A SOCIALIST FOREIGN POLICY!
conspiracies by the ruling class against the working class. * Disband NATO and all imperialist alliances. Eva­
* Abolish Congress, the rubber stamp of the monopolies cuate all foreign bases. Dismantle the giant multinational
and the military. Replace it with workers’ councils elected corporations. All U.S.-owned plants and industries
from the factories and working class districts. overseas to be handed over to the control of the people of
each country.
* Dismantle the CIA, FBI and all military intelligence *Support all national liberation movements. Victory to
agencies. Dismantle all state and local police forces and all the PLO, SWAPO and the Patriotic Front!
National Guard. Replace them with workers’ defense * End all relations with racist and fascist regimes such as
guards. Disarm the capitalist class and its state. No to gun Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Israel.
control! Full right of all workers to bear arms! * Establish friendly relations with all workers’ states and
radical nationalist regimes such as Angola, Libya and Iraq.
The bourgeois democratic state is the greatest threat to * For an independent and socialist Puerto Rico.
the democratic rights of the working class. These rights can * Panama for the Panamanians! Immediate U.S.
be defended only through the seizure of state power by the withdrawal from the Canal Zone!
working class and the systematic dismantling of the * Evacuate Guantanamo! Lift the blockade of Cuba!
capitalist state machine. * Full restitution to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to
assist in their postwar reconstruction.
STOP THE DRIVE TO WAR! The fight for a Labor Party, for a Workers and Farmers
* Abolish the Pentagon. Dismantle the standing army, government and for this socialist program cannot be taken
navy, and air force. Replace them with a workers’ militia. piecemeal, as a grab-bag of demands to be used whenever it
No reintroduction of the draft. Military training of all is convenient. Capitalism in its death agony cannot fulfill
workers under union control. any of these demands. The mobilization of the working
* Nationalize and dismantle the arms industry. Destroy class around these policies poses directly to the masses the
all nuclear weapons, warheads, and missiles. Halt all absolute necessity for the overthrow of capitalism.
nuclear power plant construction. Convert all present Certain tasks of the Workers League must be further
nuclear facilities to peace-time use. elaborated.

Fo r th e U n ite d Socialist S ta te s o f N o r th ,
C e n tra l and South A m e ric a !
The building of the revolutionary party in the United committed by the U.S. ruling class in Cuba, Puerto Rico,
States must be based upon a perspective which embraces Mexico and, ultimately, against all the countries of Latin
the problems of the development of the Trotskyist America.
movement'in all the countries which constitute the Ameri­ Thus, as the revolutionary party in the United States,
cas. The history of the United States comprises only a part the Workers League recognizes that the defeat of American
of the historical development of the New World. This part imperialism is only possible through the mobilization of the
can only be understood in relationship to a whole out of masses throughout the Americas. The development of the
which its own particular identity emerged through a world crisis will now make possible through the building of
dialectical process of historical interaction. The conditions sections of the International Committee the conscious
for the emergence of the United States as a “world power” unification of the struggles of the North American prole­
— an economic tyrant among nations — were immediately tariat and those of the proletariat and peasantry of Latin
derived from its subjugation of the lands to its south. What America and the Caribbean.
is. in fact, known as the “continental United States”
includes vast tracts of land violently extorted and The Workers League must pay the greatest attention to
expropriated from other countries. The “Manifest Destiny” the fight for the building of Trotskyist parties throughout
of the United States was the “manifest misfortune” of the this portion of the Western Hemisphere. Its slogan must
people of South America and the Caribbean. American be: For the United Socialist States of North, Central and
imperialism began, first of all, with the abominable crimes South America!
45

of struggle by the International Committee against


La tin Am erica Stalinism and revisionism, which have been the props for
the counter-revolution in Latin America.
Trotsky’s warning that the epoch of capitalism’s death The defeat inflicted on the Chilean working class in
agony poses before the masses the alternatives of socialism September 1973 provides for the proletariat of Latin
or barbarism is finding its most brutal confirmation in America a grim example of the inevitable outcome of the
Latin America. policies of Stalinism. There was nothing accidental about
The fate of every country in Latin America — be it the the defeat of the Chilean working class. It was carefully
Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru or Chile — prepared by the policies of the Chilean Communist Party
demonstrates that the imperialists and their lackeys in the which deliberately disarmed the workers in the face of the
native bourgeosie see no way out of the crisis except to impending threat of military dictatorship.
organize the systematic starvation of vast sections of the Nor has the Chilean catastrophe led the Stalinists to
population. alter their course. To this day, Corvalan speaks of the
Again and again the heroic workers and peasants of Latin “unarmed road of the revolution” and prepares to resurrect
America have shown their unflinching courage and the Popular Front policy through a rotten alliance with the
unbreakable determination to overthrow capitalism. The discredited Christian Democratic Party of Eduardo Frei —
existence of the military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, who is deeply implicated in Allende’s overthrow.
Uruguay and Peru reveal not the inability of the working The struggle against Stalinism is historically bound up
class of Latin America to conquer power, but rather the with the preparation of the armed insurrection, the
bankruptcy and treachery of its past and present lea­ smashing of the capitalist state and the establishment of
derships. the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is within the framework of the world crisis and the Turning away from this struggle signifies in practice a
world revolution that the struggles of the working class and rejection of the armed insurrection as the only path to
oppressed peasantry in Latin America are now unfolding. socialism. This itself is related to a nationalist conception,
The struggles of the Latin American working class will which, in abandoning international principles as the basis
drastically undermine the whole world position of U.S. for the construction of the revolutionary party, leads
imperialism, which, historically, is principally based on the inevitably to a capitulation to the native bourgeoisie.
oppression of the countries to its south. The bankrupt “national” bourgeoisies of Latin America
But it must be remembered at all times that the essen­ were given a temporary lease on life, an illusory rebirth, by
tial consent of the revolutionary struggles in Latin America the years of the Second World War and the post-war infla­
is not “national” but social. The national bourgeoisie in tionary boom. But their desperate weakness, which has
Latin America is the direct tool of U.S. imperialism. The characterized the whole history of their existence, becomes
liberation of the masses from the yoke of imperialism can ever more transparent as the crisis worsens. Even their
only come through the overthrow of the national most grandiose dreams of economic development are
bourgeoisie and the establishment of a proletarian dicta­ inevitably and rudely shattered by the reality of a world
torship. The demands of the oppressed peasantry can be market dominated by a handful of imperialist powers,
realized only if it is mobilized behind the working class led above all, the United States.
by the revolutionary party. No matter how boastful the “anti-imperialist” rhetoric
We have already discussed in this document the of the various bourgeois regimes may become, they are, in
enormous economic crisis gripping Latin America and the the final analysis, clients of the rapacious imperialist
role of the IMF which, as the economic arm of the U.S. “neighbor” of the north. As instruments of American
counter-revolution, works with the CIA to impose the imperialism, all those national bourgeois regimes — no
brutal military dictatorships to guarantee the investments matter how "left” they claim to be, regardless of whether
of U.S. capital. But a new stage of struggle has now broken they are garbed in military uniform like the late Torres of
out against these regimes. Bolivia or decorated with the Presidential sash like Allende
In the front line of this struggle is the renewed outbreak of Chile — are incapable of answering the social needs of
of civil war against the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. the people.
Led by the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional This applies not only to the revolutionary, socialist
(FSLN), and backed by a general strike in the capital city demands of the proletariat but also to the demands of the
of Managua, the Nicaraguan masses are in a powerful peasantry. Throughout Latin America the bourgeoisie has
position to defeat the blood-stained Somoza dictatorship. been completely unable to meet the demand of the
The impending collapse of the Somoza regime — even if peasants for land freed from the oppression of the Latifun­
it is able to stagger on a bit longer — reflects not only the dists. Thus the liberation of the peasantry, in accordance
bankruptcy of this dictatorship but the crisis of U.S. with the formula of the Permanent Revolution, can be
imperialism throughout Latin America. carried out only in alliance with the proletariat. The
In neighboring El Salvador, a popular revolt against the interests of the peasantry can in no wise be protected
Romero dictatorship grows despite a state of siege imposed within the framework of the bourgeois state. Historically, it
by the government. These developments mean that is too late in the day for this. The alliance of workers and
revolutionary conflict throughout Latin America is well peasants can only be forged and maintained through the
underway. overthrow of the capitalist state and the establishment of
This makes the fight for revolutionary leadership, the the dictatorship of the proletariat.
construction of sections of the International Committee This perspective, however, has been continuously
throughout Latin America, of vital importance. This can opposed by the Stalinists. They are presently enthusiastic
only be carried out through assimilating the entire history supporters of the transition to so-called “civilian”rule which
46

the bourgeoisie is proposing in a number of countries — abandoned in favor of a shamelessly opportunist adapta­
Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil — as it searches tion to the national bourgeoisie and its petty-bourgeois
representatives.
desperately for an alternative to the crumbling and
discredited military dictatorships. Hansen’s theory of the “blunted instrument” was
applied with unparalleled cynicism to the events
The Stalinists endorse the proposal for “civilian” rule as surrounding the overthrow of Batista and the coming to
a means of establishing “popular front” regimes that could power of Castro in Cuba. The victory in Cuba was seized
more effectively strangle the revolutionary movement of upon by Hansen to prove that the revolutionary leadership
the working class. In any case, these “civilian” govern­ could emerge spontaneously under the direction of “uncon­
ments — were they to actually materialize — would be scious Marxists” who had absolutely no connection to the
grotesque frauds. Behind the scenes, the preparations for Fourth International.
Pinochet-style coups would proceed more frantically than The devastating political implications of Hansen’s
ever. position for the development of Trotskyism in Latin
It should be pointed out, however, that the Stalinists are
America were immediately exposed by the International
by no means necessarily opposed to the rule of military
Committee. If someone could be an “unconscious” Marxist
juntas. As infamous as their slavish support to Peruvian and, furthermore, establish a workers’ state without even
General Velasco was, that crime has been surpassed by the building a revolutionary proletarian party, then Trot­
Stalinists’ growing fondness for General Videla in
skyism could not have any role to play. This emerged as the
Argentina. line of the SWP whose leaders began suggesting that a new,
Standing within the workers movement as the chief fifth International should perhaps be formed under the
obstacle to the defeat of Stalinism, the establishment of leadership of Fidel Castro!
the independence of the working class from the national The opportunist policies of Hansen, united with the old
bourgeoisie and the training of a revolutionary vanguard on Pabloite Ernest Mandel in the rump “United Secretariat,”
the basis of Trotskyist principles is Pabloite revisionism. led to the disorientation of the existing Trotskyist cadres in
When the SWP carried out its unprincipled reunifica­ Latin America and the eventual decimation of their forces.
tion with the Pabloites in 1963, representatives of the SWP The “guerrilla” strategy embarked upon by the United
travelled throughout Latin America to deliberately Secretariat resulted in the wholesale destruction of their
disorient adherents of the Fourth International, turn them movement, particularly in Argentina.
against the International Committee and break them from Once the “catastrophe” (Hansen’s own words) had
Trotskyism. They were not loath to employ the most happened, Hansen adopted a fake orthodoxy of “proletarian
sinister slanders and to cynically play upon the orientation” which was, in fact, nothing more than an
inexperience and theoretical confusion of the forces in acceptance of Moreno’s prostration before Peron. Moreno
Latin America. This policy — directed by the leader of the went so far as to declare that his movement functioned
SWP, Joseph Hansen — was carried out consciously in the under the discipline of the decrepit dictator. “Left
interests of American imperialism. Its consequences in Peronism’’was nothing more than the 60-year-old tendency
Latin America have been disastrous. For the crimes of in Latin America to tie the working class to the “anti­
Hansen and Pabloite revisionism, thousands have paid imperialist” bourgeoisie.
with their lives. In Bolivia, the opportunist policy of Lora — supported
The particular expression of Pabloism within Latin by the French revisionists OCI group — was essentially the
America has been the subordination of the proletariat and same as that of Moreno in Argentina. Lora also abandoned
its vanguard to the “left wing” of the national bourgeoisie. the principle of the revolutionary independence of the
The various forms of this adaptation have included the working class and of the Trotskyist party in favor of wor­
grovelling before Castroism, the support of Peronism, the shipping the Popular Assembly. At the same time, Lora
adulation of Guevarism; in every case the content of these relied on Torres and the “left” colonels to save the working
policies has been the rejection of the political indepen­ class from the counter-revolution.
dence and leading role of the proletariat which can only be In 1962, Hansen warned the International Committee
correctly expressed through the construction of indepen­ that failure to uncritically support Castro would make it
dent revolutionary parties — sections of the International impossible to build revolutionary parties in Latin America.
Committee. Now the balance sheet can be drawn. The Pabloite parties
But the real foundations of liquidationism in Latin are deeply implicated in the defeats suffered by the
America were laid down by Joseph Hansen. It was he who working class in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. At this very
deliberately set out to smash any attempt to construct moment, Hansen’s man in Peru, Hugo Blanco, is being
revolutionary Trotskyist leadership by arguing that the groomed by the ruling class to divert the threatening social
working class did not need the leadership of a Marxist revolution.
party to come to power. Hansen attacked the essence of the However, new and more vicious betrayals are being
world historic perspective of Leon Trotsky — that “the prepared. Hansen’s recruit, Fausto Amador, has been
historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the installed as the United Secretariat’s representative in
revolutionary leadership” — by cynically proposing that Latin America. Amador deserted the Sandinista Front, fled
the working class could come to power with a “blunted the country and then utilized his father’s personal friend­
instrument,” i.e., with a non-Marxist, non-Trotskyist, non­ ship with Somoza to re-enter Nicaragua and gain
proletarian leadership. immunity. Once back in Nicaragua, Amador spied and
In actual practice, what this meant was that the informed on the Sandinista Front, and called a press
conscious struggle for the development of Marxist revolu­ conference in which he called on its fighters to give
tionary leadership in the working class was to be totally themselves up to Somoza. He betrayed countless former
47

comrades among the guerrillas in the Sandinista Front, Rican people, but from the interests of U.S. imperialism.
including his own brother, Carlos Fonseca Amador, a They can play no independent role and are totally inca­
founder of the Sandinistas in 1962, who was murdered by pable of resolving even the question of self-determination.
the brutal Nicaraguan dictatorship in 1976. Amador then The new stage of struggle by the Puerto Rican working
went on to take a diplomatic post at the Nicaraguan class shows that it is the only class capable of leading the
embassy in Brussels. fight for independence. But this question is entirely bound
The leaders of the Pabloite parties in Latin America, up with the fight for socialism.
true to their opportunist history, accept Amador as a The Workers League has a dual responsibility towards
“Trotskyist leader” although they know all of his history. Puerto Rico: first, mobilizing support in the American
All the lessons of these betrayals must be drawn by working class for the unconditional support of indepen­
Trotskyists in Latin America. But in doing this, it is dence for Puerto Rico against U.S. imperialism; second,
absolutely essential that the role of Hansen as a double the construction of a Trotskyist party in Puerto Rico basing
agent be examined by Latin American Trotskyists within itself on the perspective of the Permanent Revolution.
the light of the investigation conducted by the We reject entirely the positions of the petty-bourgeois
International Committee into the history of Stalinist and nationalists of the PSP, and their Stalinist and revisionist
imperialist police penetration of the Fourth International. allies who advocate the “two-stage” theory — first
Only on this basis will it be possible to take forward the independence, later socialism — which, in practice,
struggles for the construction of sections of the Interna­ amounts to channeling off the mass movement of the
tional Committee of the Fourth International throughout Puerto Rican working class into the deadend of protest and
Latin America. pressure on the comprador bourgeois regimes.
At the same time, we recognize that the struggles of the
Puerto Rican working class are intimately bound up with
P u e rto Rico the struggles of the American working class and that the
fight for independence and socialism in Puerto Rico will
The Workers League has a direct responsibility for the undermine U.S. imperialism and greatly strengthen the
construction of a Trotskyist party in Puerto Rico, in American working class.
political solidarity with the International Committee. The Workers League fights for an independent, socialist
1978 marks 80 years of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico as part of the United Socialist States of North,
Since 1898, the island has been held in bondage by the U.S. Central and South America.
bourgeoisie through its government in Washington for the
purpose of the ruthless exploitation of the Puerto Rican
people.
In these 80 years, U.S. colonialism has taken various Canada
forms — from outright military rule to an appointed
civilian government to the “autonomous” elected govern­ The Workers League’s responsibility for the develop­
ment under the present “free associated state” or ment of a section in Canada is not just a matter of the
geographical proximity of Canada and the United States.
“commonwealth.” But whatever the form, the essence of
the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico has been Despite major historical differences, the development of
one of an oppressor nation to an oppressed nation. U.S. and Canadian capitalism has been profoundly inter­
All land and resources in Puerto Rico and in the sur­ linked. Now, under conditions of the death agony of U.S.
rounding coastal waters are ihe property of the U.S.; there imperialism, the unity of the Canadian and American
is no Puerto Rican citizenship, customs or money. The working class is one of the most powerful factors in the
island’s government is entirely subordinate to the govern­ emergence of the social revolution on the North American
ment in Washington. continent.
While bearing U.S. citizenship, the Puerto Rican people The crushing defeat of the Liberal government of Pierre
have no representation in the Congress and cannot vote for Trudeau in the May 22 elections marks an enormous shift
the President, although these are the bodies which make to the left by the Canadian working class. The record two
the real decisions about Puerto Rico. million votes polled by the New Democratic Party
Yet, despite its colonial status, the last 30 years have wit­ represents a historic step towards independent working
nessed the enormous development of industrialization class political action for the first time on the North
under the auspices of U.S. capital, and its supplanting of American continent.
the remnants of the once-dominant sugar economy. This Millions of Canadian workers are now headed into mass
was largely due to U.S. investors who took advantage of the struggles against the right-wing government of the new
high level of unemployment and the pool of cheap labor to Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark, under
amass great profits. conditions of the greatest economic crisis in Canadian
This has created a modern industrial working class, history.
highly unionized and extremely militant, which, through It is not possible here within the limits of this document
its struggles to raise its standard of living, has come into to trace the development of Canadian capitalism except to
head-on collision with the comprador bourgeoisie and its say that, though the Canadian ruling class had sufficiently
masters on Wall Street. This is shown by the strikes of the independent class interests to resist absorption into the
longshoremen, utility workers and San Juan bus drivers. United States, it was too weak to develop capitalist indus­
The policies of the comprador bourgeoisie — both try on its own. For the exploitation of its vast natural
“statehood” and “commonwealth” — are completely resources and the establishment of modern manu­
reactionary and flow, not from the needs of the Puerto facturing, it was dependent, first on British, m -.Hi then on
48

U.S. capital. the eleven years of Trudeau’s administration that


Furthermore, the bourgeoisie never united Canada on eventually smashed the government. The last three years
the basis of a revolutionary upheaval or a civil war. In fact, have seen one battle after another between the labor
the Confederation of 1867 was the reaction of the Cana­ movement and the Liberal government, especially the
dian Tories to the American Civil War and their fear that General Strike of October 1976 and the nationwide postal
once the armies of the Union had finished off the slavocracy strike last October.
of the South, they would be turned around and moved
north. The election results are a powerful mandate to the NDP
Canada represents the halfway point between the to lead the struggle against the Clark government. But the
development of British and American capitalism. But the right-wing Broadbent leadership is completely opposed to
vast extent to which U.S. capital has penetrated the any struggle against Clark. From its inception in 1961, the
country has united the development of the Canadian and NDP leaders have never fought for the working class to take
American working class. When the sit-down strikes to power.
found the CIO swept through Detroit and Flint, they
spread to Oshawa, Windsor and across Canada. Today, a Formed by disgruntled trade union bureaucrats and the
majority of industrial workers in both countries are mem­ remnants of the reformist CCF to exert pressure on the
bers of the same international unions. Liberals and Tories, the NDP has never had the
The Canadian economy, rooted in foreign capital and perspective of a workers’ government and socialist policies.
vastly dependent on the export of raw materials, is acutely Parliamentary maneuvers and deals with Clark or Tru­
sensitive to the transformations of the world capitalist deau will not save jobs, halt skyrocketing prices, defend
economy. Its “special relationship” with U.S. capital, long workers against union busting, or stop the conspiracies of
the source of economic stability, now becomes the source of the RCMP and the military brass against democratic
the greatest crisis within Canada. Of all the world’s major rights.
currencies, only the Canadian dollar has dropped more
rapidly in value than the U.S. dollar. It now stands at U.S. The struggle for a workers’ government in Canada
$0.85. presupposes the fight for the unity of the entire working
Unemployment has skyrocketed as manufacturing class, French and English speaking, against the hopelessly
industry faces wholesale collapse. In a country of 22 mil­ bankrupt Canadian bourgeoisie. The working class has no
lion people, nearly 1.5 million are unemployed. In some interest in the regionalist schemes of the reactionary Parti
areas, like the Maritime provinces, the jobless rate has Quebecois.
reached the depression levels of nearly 40 percent. While the economic crisis exacerbates day by day the
The world economic crisis is devastating Canadian regional disparities within Canadian capitalism, it at the
capitalism. Canada is the most bankrupt of the advanced same time leaves no room for the development of a belated
capitalist countries, with $60 billion in net foreign debt. independent Quebec based on capitalist property relations.
Federal budget deficits alone have mushroomed from $676 The Parti Quebecois advocates separation for the French-
million in 1974 to over $12 billion in 1978. Last year’s trade speaking province in order to establish an even more direct
deficit was $5.3 billion and this year’s is expected to top $6 linkup with Wall Street.
billion. The NDP leaders, working as a left prop of Canadian
To stave off financial disaster, the Canadian bourgeoisie capitalism, bear direct responsibility for the confusion in
has borrowed massively on the foreign markets. In 1977, it the working class on this issue. They have given the back of
borrowed more than twice as much as any other country in the hand to the Quebec working class, leaving French
the world and accounted for nearly 12 percent of all lending workers to the reactionary influence of the bourgeois and
that year. petty bourgeois separatists or the deadend of syndicalism.
Despite the borrowing of $6 billion U.S. over the last 15 After two decades, the NDP has failed to win working class
months to prop up its currency, the Canadian dollar support in Quebec.
remains at its lowest point in the post-war period. The autonomy of Quebec with language rights
Bank of Canada and government officials admit to guaranteed to the French majority and the English
having drawn on reserves to the danger point where at the minority there, is only conceivable within the framework of
next crisis of confidence in the Canadian dollar they will be a socialist Canada, part of the United Socialist States of
forced to go hat in hand to the International Monetary North, Central and South America.
Fund. IMF loans will be conditional on the most savage
austerity policies — the wiping out of social services, wage What is required is the mobilization of the strength of the
cuts and mass layoffs. entire working class, French and English speaking, against
“The government’s foreign borrowing to prop up our the right-wing Clark government and the fight for an NDP
falling dollar cannot be continued without exhausting our government based on socialist policies. This is the policy
credit and putting us into the hands of the International fought for by the Trotskyists in the Workers League of
Monetary Fund, which would impose real restraints on Canada.
Canada.” — The Globe and Mail, May 3, 1979. The defeat of the bureaucracy in the Canadian Labour
The program of the IMF is the program of class war. In Congress and the reformist leadership of the NDP requires
every country where the IMF has intervened, from Peru to the building of independent revolutionary leadership. The
Egypt, to England and Italy, its policies have brought the Workers League is completely hostile to the Stalinists of
working class onto the streets. the Communist Party and the revisionist R.W.L. (Revolu­
It was the powerful resistance of the working class during tionary Workers League).
49

Stalinism has played the most pernicious, counter­ They are the most slavish supporters of bourgeois
revolutionary role in the Canadian labor movement. nationalism in Quebec. They opposed the fight to bring
Opposed from the beginning to the formation of any down the Trudeau government, and are the perennial
independent labor party, the Stalinists have been the most backers of the “left wing” in the NDP, a formation whose
consistent advocates of “Canadian nationalism” — the sole purpose it is to render harmless any movement in
formation of an alliance between the working class and opposition to the reformist bureaucracy.
sections of the “anti-imperialist” bourgeoisie against US A section of the International Commmittee must be built
imperialism. In this way, they hope to chain the working in Canada, basing itself on the most uncompromising
class to the capitalist state. struggle against reformism, Stalinism and revisionism.
The revisionist “Revolutionary Workers League,” the This can only be carried out by those forces who con­
result of a reunion of the supporters of Hansen and Mandel sciously base their practice on the entire history of the
in Canada, buttresses the role of Stalinism and reformism. International Committee’s struggle against revisionism.

Full Su p port to N a tio n a l Lib e ra tio n S tru g g le s!


The Workers League defends the just national liberation cover of this “peace treaty,” the Zionists have launched
struggles being waged by the masses of the colonial and new raids and bombing missions in South Lebanon aimed
semi-colonial countries against imperialist domination. at destroying the Palestinian liberation movement.
The national liberation struggles are an essential The attempt to isolate the PLO has been a failure as
component of the world socialist revolution. Throughout every section of the Arab world has united, as never before,
the postwar boom, imperialism attempted to hold back the against Sadat’s betrayal. It is Sadat who now stands along,
mass upsurge of struggle through investment, foreign aid, a political leper throughout the Middle East.
higher prices for raw materials and the handing of political The only road to peace in the Middle East is through the
power to the native bourgeoisie in countries like India. But destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a
the world crisis now means economic devastation and democratic, secular state of Palestine. Zionism is a
outright starvation for the masses in Asia, Africa and the thoroughly racist ideology which, as Trotsky made clear, is
Middle East. a trap for Jewish workers themselves. Their real enemy is
This is the driving force behind the struggles of the not the Palestinian people but the Zionists and their
colonial masses. Inspired by the victories in Indochina, imperialist masters in Washington. The eruption of the
millions of workers, peasants, and youth have taken up the industrial struggles against the regime of the terrorist
armed struggle and dealt hammer blows to imperialism, Begin makes clear that Zionism is resting on a political
undermining drastically its position internationally and volcano.
creating the conditions for the onset of revolutionary In southern Africa, the masses have come into head-on
struggles by the working class of the major metropolitan collision with the hated apartheid regimes. Every attempt
countries. by British and American imperialism to forestall the
Moreover, the fight to tear free from the yoke of national outbreak of full-scale armed struggle, especially in
oppression becomes fused with the struggle for social Zimbabwe, has met with dismal failure. The fraudulent
liberation. elections orchestrated by Smith to give a black face to
The front line of this struggle is the fight of the Pales­ imperialist rule have been a disaster. No African state
tinian people, under their sole legitimate representative, recognizes them and even Smith’s stooge Reverend Sithole
the Palestine Liberation Organization, for the liberation of has denounced them.
their homeland against Zionist and U.S. imperialism. U.S. imperialism has sought to use its bloodhounds —
The bastard state of Israel was created in 1948 for the the Zionists and the Phalangists in the Middle East and
sole purpose of establishing a bastion under the direct the white settler regimes in southern Africa — against the
control of imperialism to protect its vital oil supplies in the liberation fighters, rather than intervene directly. This was
Middle East. It was aimed, not just against the Pales­ shown most tellingly during the recent U.S. visit by Smith
tinian people who were driven from their homeland en and his accomplice Sithole, when Rhodesian troops carried
masses, but against the entire Arab people to block their out their bloody massacre in Zambia.
fight to unify against imperialism. But this only underscores the desperation of imper­
The Zionists have pursued a policy of genocide against ialism. Even in Namibia, the Anglo-U.S. imperialist
the Palestinian people. They are backed by the fascist inspired peace accord has collapsed. Now the masses of
scum of the Lebanese Phalange. But the crisis of U.S. South Africa (Azania) are moving to the armed struggle
imperialism and its Zionist puppets and the heroic against Botha’s regime and are striking one of the most
determination of the Palestinian liberation fighters has sensitive spots for world imperialism, its supply depot for
now forced Carter, Vance and Brzezinski to call upon the gold.
support of the traitor Sadat and the Egyptian bourgeoisie. The Workers League is the only movement in the United
This is the reactionary base for the sinister conspiracies States which defends the national liberation struggles in
plotted at Camp David. The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, southern Africa and the Middle East against imperialism.
orchestrated by Carter, is a complete fraud and only We stand with the PLO, the Patriotic Front in Zimbabwe,
exposes the enormous weakness of imperialism. Behind the SWAPO in Namibia, and the liberation fighters in South
50

Africa. Our position, entirely in line with that If Lenin, campaign of the imperialist press against the heroic March
Trotsky and the principles hammered out at the first four 11 raid by PLO commandos inside occupied Palestine.
Congresses of the Communist International, is based on the
scientific perspective of the world revolution, and the This is the same reactionary motive that lies behind the
crucial role played by the revolutionary national liberation Stalinists’ desperate attack on the Arab Ba’ath Socialist
movements. Party, which holds power in Iraq. The Stalinists are
This is in the sharpest contrast to the despicable role of infuriated by the principled stand taken by the Ba’athists
Stalinism. For the Kremlin bureaucracy, the national against imperialism and their refusal to participate in the
liberation struggles are pawns in their diplomatic maneu­ diplomatic charade at Geneva.
vers to maintain “peaceful coexistence” with imper­ The revisionists’ open defense of the CIA and the State
ialism. When the liberation forces come into conflict with Department was already prefigured by their refusal to call
the bureaucracy’s interests, they cut these movements off for “Victory to the NLF” during the Vietnamese War. Only
from vitally needed arms and supplies. the Workers League stood for that position, fighting to
For this reason, the Stalinists seek to sow the maximum unite the struggle of the Vietnamese liberation forces
political disorientation and confusion within the liberation against U.S. imperialism with the fight of the American
forces. The most blatant sign of the bureaucracy’s treach­ working class against the U.S. government.
erous role was its support for the Ethiopian Dergue against
the clearly justified national liberation struggle of both the Without an uncompromising struggle at every point
Somalian people in the Ogaden and the Eritrean people. against imperialist oppression, defending unconditionally
Revisionism functions as a reactionary apologist for the struggles for national liberation, it is impossible to
imperialism and Stalinism against the national liberation carry out a successful struggle for power within the
struggles. This was exemplified by the SWP’s position on imperialist countries, above all the United States. This
Angola, which amounted to open support for the CIA’s struggle can only be carried forward through the methods
stooges, UNITA and FNLA, against the genuine national of of the socialist revolution, which has nothing in common
liberation struggle being led the MPLA. with sectarian abstentionism or with the fraudulent “anti­
Since then, the SWP has publicly condemned the PLO imperialism” which subordinates the fight against
for “terrorism,” joining in the hysterical and pernicious imperialism to the native bourgeoisie.

Fo r th e Unconditional D e fen se o f th e Soviet U nion! Fo r th e


Political R e vo lu tio n A g a in s t th e Stalinist Bureaucracy!
The defense of the Soviet Union and the deformed conquests of the international working class were
workers’ states of eastern Europe, southeast Asia and inevitably finished as revolutionaries. The defense of the
China against imperialist attack is a task of the Fourth USSR and all the other workers’ states is an unconditional
International arising from its strategy of the world revolu­ requirement for membership in the Workers League.
tion. Despite the counter-revolutionary policies of the However, defense of the Soviet Union does not imply the
Stalinist bureaucracies that have usurped political power slightest concession to Stalinism. In fact, the defense of the
from the working class, the overthrow of capitalism in these USSR is conceivable only from the standpoint of the
countries represents enormous blows to world imperi­ struggle for the political revolution against the bureau­
alism. The new property relations established in the USSR cracy. In every way, politically, militarily and
as a result of the October Revolution remain intact, and economically, the bureaucracy sabotages the development
provide a powerful foundation for the extension of the and defense of the Soviet Union. The policies of the
world revolution. bureaucracy, both domestic and international, are directed
The deepening crisis of world capitalism raises the toward securing its own privileges — not toward the de­
specter of a new World War. Should such a war break out, fense of the planned economy and the extension of the
it would be principally directed, whatever its initial forms, revolution. The recent rash of defectors from the Soviet
against the Soviet Union. The political responsibility of the Union to the United States — most recently, the top Soviet
Workers League would be to defend the Soviet Union diplomat to the United Nations — demonstrates that
against attack and to fight for the defeat of the imperialist within the highest circles of the bureaucracy there exist not
aggressor. a few potential Quislings. The whole foreign policy of the
In the history of the Fourth International, there are Soviet Union actually weakens its world position since it is
sufficient examples of what it means to abandon the directed against the development of revolution. The
defense of the workers’ states. Burnham — who refused to “national defense” policy of the bureaucracy is totally
defend the Soviet Union in 1939 — quickly became a raving inimical to the interests of the USSR, because the defense
anti-communist and writes today for the ultra-right of the workers’ state against imperialism is possible only on
National Review. Shachtman, who shared Burnham’s line the basis of an international revolutionary strategy. No
in the 1939-40 faction fight, ended up as an accomplice of series of diplomatic “coups” for the Soviet Union can
the U.S. State Department and a supporter of the bombing fundamentally strengthen the position of the USSR vis-
of North Vietnam. Those who would not defend the a-vis world imperialism. The survival of the Soviet
51

Union, as well as China and all the workers* states, direct agents of imperialism, such as those who engage in
depends upon the victory of the world revolution. The espionage on behalf of a capitalist power, the recent trials
defeat of the working class in Western Europe and the against various groups of dissidents were undertaken in the
United States would spell doom for the Soviet Union. interests of the bureaucracy. The espionage charges
New dangers to the Soviet Union are contained in the produced against Shcharansky were trumped up by the
collaboration of Stalinism and imperialism in the signing of bureaucracy. While the Workers League grants these
the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II). The dissidents no political confidence whatsoever and issues a
major concessions, in terms of nuclear delivery rockets are clear warning about their reactionary political outlook, the
coming from the Soviet Union. The SALT treaty is the repression organized by the bureaucracy is directed against
cover behind which Carter is carrying out the biggest the Soviet workers. Furthermore, under conditions of the
military buildup of forces. Before the ink was dry on the upsurge of the world revolution, it is not the isolated and
treaty, Washington was mapping out plans for the individualistic Shcharansky who poses a grave threat to the
deployment of the MX missile system and shipping off Soviet Union, but the politics of the bureaucracy. We
1,000 nuclear missiles to the NATO forces in Europe. oppose the trials from the standpoint of the struggle for the
The SALT treaty and the policy of detente will no more regeneration of Soviet democracy through the struggle
defend the Soviet Union than did the Stalin-Hitler pact against the bureaucracy.
signed on the eve of World War II. Quite the contrary, it Moreover, the central issue cannot be posed as “For or
was nothing but window-dressing for the Nazi war against the dissidents?” The emergence of these dissidents
machine’s preparations for an invasion which brought is only a very distorted reflection of the emerging conflict
untold devastation to the Soviet Union. within the Soviet Union between the working class and the
The relationship between the defense of the Soviet Union bureaucracy. With the first great movements of the Soviet
and the struggle against Stalinism was explained by working class against the bureaucracy — as a result of the
advance of the social revolution into Europe — the
Trotsky in his article “After Munich”:
“dissident” of today will for the most part fade into the
“Only the overthrow of the Bonapartist Kremlin clique
distant background or take sides alongside the
can make possible the regeneration of the military strength
bureaucracy. Then, the real “dissident” movement will
of the U.S.S.R. Only the liquidation of the ex-Comintern emerge in the mold of the first great “dissidents” —
will clear the way for revolutionary internationalism. The
Trotsky and the Left Opposition.
struggle against war, imperialism, and fascism demands a
“If we are to examine ‘Trotskyism’ as a finished program,
ruthless struggle against Stalinism splotched with crimes.
and, even more to the point, as an organization, then
Whoever defends Stalinism directly or indirectly, whoever
unquestionably ‘Trotskyism’ is extremely weak in the
keeps silent about its betrayals or exaggerates its military USSR. However, its indestructible force stems from the
strength is the worst enemy of the revolution, of socialism, fact that it expresses not only revolutionary tradition but
and of the oppressed peoples. The sooner the Kremlin gang also today’s actual opposition of the Russian working class.
is overthrown by the armed offensive of the workers, the The social hatred stored up by the workers against the
greater will be the chances for a socialist regeneration of the bureaucracy — this is precisely what from the viewpoint of
U.S.S.R., the closer and broader will be the perspectives of the Kremlin clique constitutes ‘Trotskyism.’ It fears with a
the international revolution.”
deathly and thoroughly well-grounded fear the bond
The conditions for the defeat of the bureaucracy emerge between the deep but inarticulate indignation of the
out of the advance of the world revolution, for the growth of workers and the organization of the Fourth International.”
bureaucracy was the outcome of the isolation of the first (The Transitional Program: The USSR and the problems
workers’ state and the defeats of the international working of the transitional epoch.)
class. The world revolution has dealt Stalinism hammer The political revolution will be prepared and led by a
blows. The inevitability of the political revolution against Soviet section of the International Committee of the
the Stalinist bureaucracies throughout Eastern Europe, Fourth International.
Of the policies of the Chinese Stalinists, it can only be
Asia and in the Soviet Union has been foreshadowed in the
great Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the rebellions of said that in the conduct of their unspeakably reactionary
the Polish workers in 1970 and 1976. diplomacy — their support of the Chilean junta, their
In recent years, there has been a growing “dissident” meetings with every leading European reactionary, their
movement within the USSR which has received consi­ call for greater military vigilance on the part of imperialism
derable publicity in the capitalist press. against the Soviet Union — they are proving themselves to
Among these dissidents is to be found a wide range of be the most avid pupil of Joseph Stalin himself.
views. Not a few of the best known have emerged as out-
and-out right-wingers who stand openly for the reesta­ The emergence of Euro-Communism does not signify any
blishment of capitalism in the Soviet Union — like sort of progressive or anti-Stalinist current within the
Solzhenitsyn, Amalrik, Bukovsky. Others, like Sakharov, traditional Communist Parties, but represents the outcome
adopt the standpoint of petty-bourgeois democracy and of the counter-revolutionary policies of the Soviet bureau­
thus irresistibly gravitate towards the imperialist powers. cracy. The “Euro-Communist” (better known as the
Many of these right-wingers reflect a section of interests “Euro-Stalinist”) opponents of the Soviet bureaucracy
within the bureaucracy itself. What they and virtually all share the latter’s main political outlook, but in the
of the best known “dissidents” have in common is interests of the national bourgeoisie and the local appara­
contempt and hostility toward the Soviet working class. tus have translated the theory and practice of Stalinism
While the Soviet Union must defend itself against the into the native tongue.
52

Berlinguer, Marchais and Carrillo all desperately seek to masters as the last line of defense of the capitalist state.
convince the bourgeoisie that they can be entrusted with The bourgeoisie, while they have not yet reconciled
ministerial portfolios in a Popular Front coalition. They are themselves to officially giving the Stalinists ministerial
trying to break whatever tenuous historical connection still posts, consciously seek to use the Stalinists to contain the
remains between these parties and the traditions of the working class.
October Revolution Thus, the French CP dropped any If a coalition government does not exist de jure in Italy,
mention of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” from its it exists de facto in the form of the “Historic Compro­
program. The Spanish CP, at its last conference, dropped mise.” But the Euro-Stalinists, in carrying out this right-
its designation as “Marxist-Leninist.” The Italian CP is wing turn, are inescapably caught in the vise of profound
planning to do likewise at its next congress. contradictions. Their mass base in the industrial prole­
tariat has been built up on the basis of the historic identi­
These parties are consciously adapting themselves to the fication millions of workers made between these parties
anti-communist prejudices generated in the middle class and the traditions of Leninism and the October Revolu­
by bourgeois democracy. tion. This most advanced section of the working class, now
This lineup in defense of the bourgeois state points to the impelled into direct conflict with the state, is moving into
nearness of the social revolution in Europe. The Euro- head-on collision with the leaders and policies of Euro-
Stalinists sense this and come forward on behalf of their Stalinism.
53

For th e Rehabilitation o f T ro ts k y and


A ll V ic tim s o f th e M oscow Tria ls!
The Moscow Trials were the greatest frameups in represents a desperate attempt to justify their own right-
history, drowning in blood the entire generation of Bolshe­ wing turn.
viks that had led the October Revolution. They were the While the Workers League continues its principled fight
most despicable crime committed by the Stalinist bureauc­ for the rehabilitation of all the victims of the Moscow
racy against the international working class. Trials, including Bukharin, we insist that there can be no
To this day, the Kremlin bureaucracy and their hacks accounting of this hideous crime without the full rehabili­
around the world, including the CPUSA, completely tation of Trotsky. It was Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov
defend the trials and every crime of Stalinism. who were the principal defendants-in-absentia at the trials.
The death sentences passed against both of them were
Recently, leaders of the Italian Communist Party have carried out by Stalin’s gang of assassins in the GPU.
joined the calls for the rehabilitation of Bukharin, the The bureaucracy is absolutely terrified of the demand for
Bolshevik and leader of the Right Opposition murdered in the rehabilitation of Trotsky because they know that to
the Moscow Trials. One Italian CP leader has raised the even raise this issue would not only expose the crimes of
question of Trotsky’s rehabilitation. This does not repre­ Stalin but also those of his heirs in the Kremlin today.
sent a favor by the Euro-Stalinists to the Trotskyist The Workers League demands a full review of the
movement. The former remain more committed than ever Moscow Trials, the exposure of every one of the crimes and
to the counter-revolutionary policies of Stalinism. frameups of Stalinism, and the full rehabilitation of all the
Their emphasis on rehabilitating Bukharin, in fact, victims of the trials, above all Trotsky and Sedov.

The Struggle A g a in s t Im perialist W ar


The insoluble crisis of world capitalism now compels the war, the form of action alone being changed.”
ruling class in the United States to prepare the launching The greatest obstacle to imperialism’s war drive is the
of a third imperialist war. undefeated strength of the working class. The road to
The Carter administration has drawn up a record imperialist war, therefore, is inseparable from imposing a
military budget of over $126 billion. It has given the green decisive setback or smashing outright the strength of the
light for the development of the ultimate capitalist working class through police-military dictatorship and
weapon, the neutron bomb, which subjects humans to fascism.
lethal levels of radiation while leaving property intact. This
is part of an arsenal of new strategic and tactical nuclear What this means of course is that the struggle against
weapons — the Trident submarine, MXmissile and cruise war is inseparable from the mobilization of the working
missile. class for the overthrow of capitalism. This is precisely the
War is the inevitable and objective outcome of the essence of the struggle to build the revolutionary party. But
contradictions within the world capitalist economy. It it is necessary to clearly define the position of the Workers
cannot be prevented through diplomacy or peace confer­ League in relation to any outbreak of imperialist war. This
ences. Not even the ‘fear’ of nuclear annihilation will is particularly vital in light of the advanced preparations of
prevent the bourgeoisie from launching a world war. They the Carter administration for military intervention in the
themselves are imprisoned by the historical laws of the Middle East and the definite turn it has taken in the most
crisis. As Trotsky said, they toboggan toward disaster. recent period toward holding back at all costs the further
Nevertheless, the launching of war is a conscious policy. In advance of liberation struggles in Africa.
each country the ruling class seeks to obtain, principally
through the defeat of ‘their’ working class, the most favor­ The policy of the Workers League in any war entered
able position for conducting the war. by U.S. imperialism must be to fight unconditionally for
Lenin wrote: “War is a continuation of policy by other the defeat of this government and its armies. We base
means. All wars are inseparable from the political systems our position on the objective historical interests of the
that engender them. The policy which a given state, a given working class from the standpoint of the world revolu­
class within that state, pursued for a long time before the tion and not on the temporary confusion that may exist
war is inevitably continued by that same class during the within the class in the opening period of the new war.
54

We totally reject the policy pursued by the Socialist History has demonstrated that the “anti-war” movement
Workers Party at the Minneapolis frameup trial in 1941 led by the revisionists and Stalinists in the period of the
and their subsequent line during World War II. The SWP Vietnam War aided imperialism by channelling mass
refused to campaign politically for the defeat of U.S. opposition to the war among workers and youth away from
imperialism, implicitly accepting U.S. imperialism as the a political struggle against the ruling class. The only force
lesser evil to German imperialism. It assumed a semi- that can prevent imperialist war or stop it once it has begun
defensist position which amounted to protesting the way in is the working class.
which the war was being conducted and that the sacrifice
was not being shared equally. The claim of SWP leaders The Workers League fights for the dismantling of the
that the American working class was not prepared to toler­ U.S. imperialist war machine — the Pentagon, the massive
ate the position of defeatism, expressed in Lenin’s slogan arms industry, the standing army, navy, air force and
“Turn the imperialist war into a civil war,” is essentially no marines, the vast intelligence apparatus.
different from the reactionary justification given by Social We demand the expropriation of the war industries
Democracy in 1914 for its endorsement of the First World under workers’ control. We call for the complete abolition
War. of all secret diplomacy and demand that all treaties and
We are the foremost fighters against the thoroughly reac­ pacts be made public. We demand the substitution of the
tionary policy of the pro-CIA labor bureaucracy which standing armed forces with a workers’ militia indissolubly
seeks to dragoon millions of workers into the imperialist linked to the mass organizations of the working class.
slaughterhouse by lining them up to defend imperialism, as We reject pacifism and middle class protest against war.
they did most recently in the Vietnam War. In the event of war and the forced conscription of millions
At the same time the Workers League rejects with of workers and youth into the armed forces, the task of
contempt “anti-war” campaigns which confine themselves revolutionaries is to remain with their class, fighting to
to bankrupt protest, appeals for peace and base them­ rally the rank-and-file soldiers around the revolutionary
selves on alliances with bourgeois politicians and all sorts program. At the same time, we advocate military training
of representatives of the class responsible for the war. of workers and youth under the control of the trade unions.

A g a in s t Individual Terrorism
The Workers League completely opposes the method of indissoluble ties between socialist work and the mass of the
individual terrorism. Though there has not been much revolutionary class. No verbal assurances and vows can
activity by groups advocating individual terrorism within disprove the unquestionable fact that present-day terror­
the U.S. in the recent period, groups in Europe such as ism, as practiced and advocated by the Socialist-Revolu-
Baader-Meinhof and the Red Brigades have received wide­ tionaries, is not connected in any way with work among
spread notoriety. In the late 1960s, the same tendency the masses, for the masses, or together with the masses;
manifested itself with the Weathermen in the U.S. that the organization of terroristic acts by the Party
What these groups share in common is the fact that their distracts our very scanty organizational forces from their
use of individual terrorism is totally separated from the difficult and by no means completed task of organizing a
revolutionary struggle of the working class for the over­ revolutionary workers’ party; that in practice the
throw of capitalism. terrorism of the Socialist-Revolutionaries is nothing else
than single combat, a method that has been wholly
The opposition of Marxists to individual terrorism has condemned by the experience of history.”
nothing to do with that of revisionists, moralists and paci­ Terrorism is, in fact, based on an entirely reactionary
fists who declaim loudly against individual terror only to idealist conception which rejects the only doctrine that can
bow and scrape all the more slavishly before the organized liberate the working class, the scientific world outlook of
violence of the capitalist state. Marxism. Trotsky, in “In Defense of Marxism,” discussed,
Marxists have historically opposed individual terrorism this in relation to the struggle of Bolshevism against the
because it is completely counterproductive. It counter­ Socialist Revolutionaries:
poses the heroics of a single individual to the movement of
the masses. In so doing, it not only spreads confusion in the “The main argument of the Social Revolutionists was as
working class but provides the authorities with a follows: ‘Iskra’ wants to found a school of dialectic mater­
convenient excuse for carrying out repressive measures. ialism while we want to overthrow Czarist autocracy. It
These groups display an entirely middle class pessimism must be said that the Narodnik terrorists took their own
about and hostility to the independent movement of the words very seriously: bomb in hand they sacrificed their
masses. In that sense, individual terrorism is the flip-side lives... It is historical experience that the greatest
of reformism — protest, only with a gun in hand. revolution in all history was not led by the party which
started out with bombs but by the party which started out
Lenin, during the early struggles against the Socialist with dialectic materialism.”
Revolutionaries in Russia, wrote about their advocacy of
terrorism: No matter how commendable the courage shown by
“...The Socialist-Revolutionaries, by including ter­ members of these groups, the methods of individual
rorism in their program and advocating it in its present- terrorism are completely contrary to the struggle to build
day form as a means of political struggle, are thereby doing mass revolutionary parties to lead the working class to
the most serious harm to the movement, destroying the power.
55

Fo r th e U n ite d Socialist S ta te s o f Europe!


Fo rw ard w ith th e Eu ro -M a rc h e s 8
The struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe European proletariat under the banner of the United
assumes enormous importance in the face of the staggering Socialist States of Europe.
crisis ripping apart western European capitalism. This is why it has launched the historic Euro-Marches,
bringing together youth from throughout Europe in a fight
The bourgeoisies of Europe have been incapable of for jobs, for socialist policies, to mobilize the working class
uniting Europe within the Common Market. The latter is in the struggle for power against the capitalist state and the
seen by millions of workers as a conspiracy of the Common Market.
monopolists and bankers to impose mass unemployment, The tremendous support received by the Euromarchers
spiralling inflation, the jacking up of food prices, and the from every section of the working class and youth through­
center of preparations for police-military dictatorships. out Europe is testimony to the enormous power of the prin­
ciples of Trotskyism fought for by the International Com­
Only the International Committee of the Fourth Interna­ mittee. The Euro-marches have been carried forward
tional, and its youth section, the International Youth Com­ successfully despite the all-out opposition of the Social
mittee of the Fourth International, fights to unite the Democratic and Euro-Stalinist bureaucracies.

S tu d y th e W orks o f M a r x , En g e ls,
Lenin and T ro ts k y !
The works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky tuously dismissing dialectical materialism as “gobbledy-
constitute the invaluable theoretical capital of our gook.” In the struggle against every one of these revisionist
movement. In turning out to the mass movement of the tendencies, the International Committee has made
working class, it is absolutely vital to continuously study absolutely decisive contributions to the development of
these works, not from the standpoint of knowledge for Marxism. The decisive role of dialectical materialism in
knowledge’s sake, but as a guide to action to build the the training of revolutionary cadre was made clear by a
party and prepare the struggle for power. resolution presented by the International Committee at the
These works constitute the foundations of the party’s Essen youth rally in the summer of 1971 and rejected by the
body of knowledge through which we determinate the OCI:
semblances obtained from living perception. Only through
the continuous study of the major works of Marxism, “There can be no revolutionary party without revolu­
including “Dialectics of Nature,” “Anti-Duhring,” tionary theory. Behind every opportunist development in
“ Materialism and Em pirio-Criticism,” and the the history of the workers’ movement, and especially of
“Philosophical Notebooks” as well as the priceless Stalinism, has been the revision of Marxist theory. The
contributions of Trotsky on Stalinism, is it possible to continuity of the struggle for revolutionary Marxist theory
orient the movement correctly and train the forces brought in the past, the struggle of the Fourth International and the
forward by the crisis. International Committee, was the only basis for the initia­
The mastery of this theoretical capital is inseparable tives which led to this rally and for the struggle to build the
from a continuous study of the world scientific outlook of international revolutionary youth movement. Revolu­
Marxism, whose method is dialectical materialism. tionary youth everywhere must devote themselves above all
Every party member must be encouraged to concern to the task of developing Marxist theory through the
himself and herself with the world scientific outlook and struggle against bourgeois ideology in all the forms it takes
consciously attempt to develop the dialectical materialist in the workers’ movement. This is the only basis for
method. combating the dangers of adventurism, activism and ‘pure’
The fight for the development of dialectical materialism militancy with which revisionists and Maoists mislead the
as the theory of knowledge of Marxism has been the corner­ youth, and which can only lead to historic defeats for the
stone of the International Committee’s struggle against working class.”
revisionism. At the heart of the SWP’s degeneration and its The discoveries and advances by the sciences provide the
final abandonment of Trotskyism in 1963 was Hansen’s most powerful impetus for the development of dialectical
position that Marxism was nothing more than “consistent materialism.
empiricism.” The basis of the OCI’s break with Trotskyism
in 1971 was its rejection of dialectical materialism as the Among the chief tasks of the party will be the founding of
theory of knowledge of Marxism and its assertion that all a theoretical journal to wage a sustained struggle for
that was required was the defense of the Transitional Marxism against pragmatism and all forms of idealism.
Program. This must be combined with continuous classes on the
Finally, the group of renegades led by Alan Thornett in world scientific outlook of Marxism and the history of the
Britain summed up their hostility to Marxism by contemp­ Fourth International.
56

Fo rw ard to th e D a ily R e vo lu tio n a ry N e w sp a p e r!


The preparation of the working class for the struggle for This requires a constant struggle against individualism
power does not proceed apart from the preparation of the and idealism, in all its manifestations among the youth.
party itself. A qualitative development in the revolu­ The heart of the fight of the YS is to turn youth to the
tionary practice of the Workers League is required by the strength of the working class, to lead the fight for the
qualitative transformation of the objective crisis. building of a Labor Party and to train youth on the basis of
Since the founding of the Workers League in 1966, it has revolutionary internationalism.
continuously insisted that the demand for a labor party The party’s work in the trade unions requires the greatest
was the basis for a correct political orientation to the attention. The trade unions are now a cockpit of enormous
working class. struggles, as the ranks come into head-on collision with the
The essence of the fight for the Labor Party is the bureaucracy. This is the center of the fight for the Labor
building of the revolutionary party. Without that content, Party. Here the Trade Union Alliance for a Labor Party
the fight for a Labor Party becomes either a hollow formula must be developed as the party’s arm in the unions. The
or a potential trap for the working class. We do not have a central task before the party must be the recruiting and
strategy for a Labor Party. On the contrary, the Labor training of a whole new layer of industrial workers in the
Party is a basic component of the revolutionary party’s major trade unions.
strategy for power. This task requires the sharpest battle each day
As the Labor Party is no longer a propaganda demand against idealist practices in every form — lack of attention
but an actual task posed before the party, it cannot be to details, lack of consistency, no systematic recruitment or
fought for by improving our propaganda or advancing the training of workers — which are the hallmarks of reac­
slogan more often. It requires a fundamental change in the tionary middle class radicalism. The party is fighting for
practice of the party in correspondence with the change in the leadership of the trade unions. The battering ram of its
the world crisis. This requires the intervention of the party fight is the campaign for the Labor Party, carried out in a
in the mass movement of the working class t®^ actually ruthless struggle against bureaucracy and all its Stalinist
organize the cadres within the trade unions who will lead and revisionist hangers-on. This fight for the training of a
the fight for the building of the Labor Party. Bolshevik cadre in the trade unions is the key to the
The struggle within the party for a qualitative develop­ transformation of the party’s practice.
ment in its practice produces dialectically a change in the The Workers League now enters the most decisive period
practice of the masses. The conscious orientation by the in its history. This is our period—the period of the world
leadership toward preparing the struggle for power will revolution. Now Trotskyism on a world scale and in the
produce qualitative changes in the cadres of the party very center of world imperialism can assume the great his­
which, in turn, will produce powerful changes in the toric role for which the Fourth International was founded
practice of the working class itself. 40 years ago—resolving the crisis of leadership in the
The basis for this change is the campaign within the working class through building the mass revolutionary
mass movement of the working class for the Labor Party. party which will lead the working class in the fight for
The new practice which must be established is the workers’ power and the establishment of socialism.
construction and sustaining of a daily revolutionary The Workers League enters this period with immense
newspaper, dedicated to leading the fight for the Labor stature. Because we have stood with the International
Party. Committee (though we are barred from membership) our
This paper will be the organizer of the party’s fight in the party is the only movement in the United States which
working class. It will give a powerful lead to whole new represents the continuity of Trotskyism. We are the only
sections of workers and youth coming into struggle for the party that can open the pages of our history. We have
first time in their lives. It will be the indispensable weapon nothing to hide from the working class.
for the training of Bolshevik cadres within the trade unions This principled history is our most powerful weapon to
and throughout the working class. build the party today. The coming year, 1979, will be the
The practice of constructing and maintaining the daily centennial of Trotsky’s birth. It must be celebrated by our
paper is the foundation for transforming the Workers party recruiting and training cadres on a scale as never
League into the Revolutionary Party. before.
The fight for the daily revolutionary newspaper is inse­
parable from the struggle to build the Young Socialists. It •Build the Workers League!
is the youth who will lead the fight for the daily and carry •Long live the International Committee of the Fourth
this fight into the entire working class movement. The International!
training of a youth cadre in the leadership of the YS is the •Long live the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and
cornerstone of the fight to transform the League into the Trotsky!
Party. •Long live the example of Tom Henehan, martyr of the
This requires the broadest work among all sections of Fourth International!
working class youth and students. It requires a persistent •Down with Stalinism! For the political revolution
struggle to expand the circulation of the “Young Socialist” against the bureaucracy!
newspaper and to set up new branches of the YS with func­ •Down with revisionism! Expel Hansen and all the
tioning committees as a vital part of the training of youth agents and accomplices of imperialism and Stalinism!
as party cadres. •Forward to the world socialist revolution!