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The maneuvers of the so-called “extreme left”
in opposition to “liberal Europe”



Facing the question of the unification of Europe, the organizations qualified as extreme left adopt contrasting orientations. Here we present two samples: the strategy which consists in attacking “neoliberalism” pretending to reach capitalism through it; and the one which wants to take an express lane to end up with the “Socialist United States of Europe”, and “of the World”. These political positions are in no way revolutionary. And, while being strongly differentiated the ones with respect to the others, they enter into a mechanism where all these groups act jointly to paralyze the development of an authentically revolutionary workers movement. Within this frame, the function of the apparent distinctions, even contradictions, is to conceal the actual objective.







Written: September 2007

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Liberalism, dirigisme

Social Europe against liberal Europe

The French Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR)

The Parti communiste des ouvriers de France (PCOF)

Socialist United States of Europe against social Europe

Falce Martello, a current inside the Italian Partito della Rifondazione Comunista

European unification as “transitional claim”

The debates within the Third International

“National narrowness” according to Leon Trotsky

A common role: paralyze the revolutionary movement

Historical notes

Great Britain: International Marxist Tendency, International Socialist Tendency

The 4th International

USA: From the Third International to the Trotskyist International


Liberalism, dirigisme

Among the main stakes routinely being pointed up concerning present development of the domination of capitalism on the European level, there is the one represented by the implementation of the precepts characterizing “liberalism”. The term includes a certain number of determinate aspects. However, these are multiple and cover rather large and superposed domains. Moreover, frequently the usage that is made of them remains imprecise. The considerations that are going to follow will concern delimited issues. To handle them, it is necessary at first to identify the signification and the implications of the notion of “liberalism”.

Liberalism as a coherent doctrine emerged at the end of the 18th century. At that time, the distinction was not established between economic and social liberalism (the apparition of economy as a separate discipline only dates from the first half of the 19th century). The essential aspect of it, however, is economic: the “free market” is considered as the basis of the economic system to be promoted. This entails a certain number of implications, notably that self-sufficiency of a country is not an objective compatible with liberalism, and that there have to be no barriers between countries as to flows of merchandises, services and capital. In a general manner, interference by the state and by any other institution or force is to be proscribed, which applies notably to planning.

It is this last point which obviously leads to considerations pertaining to the political domain. However, when one employs the notion of liberalism in political terms, this can refer to diverse concepts. In the first place, in the context of English language, the term is associated to the idea of individual liberties. A manifestation of this signification is the defense, in the name of liberty of expression, of propagandists known as revisionists on the subject of the history of national-socialism, such as Robert Faurisson. Taken in the more general sense, this variant of liberalism has characteristics in common with anarchism.

As far as the notion of “neo-liberalism” is concerned, it often is employed to designate a series of characteristics that do not in themselves ensue from the application of liberalism.

Capitalist system comprises in an inherent manner the tendency to augment ever more the geographical extent integrated into its sphere, to subordinate an ever bigger volume of working force to its hold while increasing ever more, from the point of view of time, the ratio of utilization of the working people as a whole in the process of production of surplus value and, in parallel, intensifying ever more the degree of exploitation in the course of this process. The evolution of the worldwide situation since the 19th century up to today indeed shows characteristics oriented in this sense. Moreover, one can observe the elaboration, assisted among others by technical progresses, of mechanisms of functioning that favor a better adaptation to the factors of the overall economic situation and of economic crisis: subcontracting, financial mediation, etc.

Of course, these tendencies are hindered by the whole of contradictions inherent to capitalism. Whereas in theory from realization of maximum of profit on worldwide scale should come out the integration of the high majority of the worldwide population into the working force employed by capital, in actuality it absolutely is not like that.

The fact is, anyway, the mentioned phenomena may appear within the framework of capitalist economies of different types, not only those which follow policies known as “neo-liberal” but also those which put into practice a centralized, guided, regime, like the one of Germany under the national-socialism. Thus, among the aspects of the present functioning of capitalism, such as they are routinely enumerated by the propagandist presentations to denounce the evils engendered by “neo-liberalism”, the major part in fact has no intrinsic link with the postulate of “free market”.

The devices for reduction of work time as much as those for its increase aim at raising the global duration of work for the whole of the working people. In the case of reduction, actually it is indissolubly linked to flexibilization (by means of annualization, multiplication of shift work, etc.). And with respect to the geographical space, the history of exploitation of raw materials in the framework of capitalist system shows a whole series of successive displacements of the centers, according to their profitability. If today these mechanisms are ever more omnipresent, this is related to the fact that the development of the productive forces, from the technical point of view, progressively lifts the practical restrictions which imposed themselves on capital in the past. Past time for example investments abroad for a large part had the objective of supplying the local market and hence went together with the pursuit of production in the imperialist country from which they originated. Today takes place what is called “delocalizations”, because it has become technically possible to let the sites of production abroad fulfill the role of supplier at worldwide level, replacing thus other sites, wherever they may be located.

All this having been said, it's time to get at the fact that certain features of the policy that predominates among a large number of countries are notably different from what was customary previously. Essentially it is about two points which can be resumed like this: demolition of the “social security” systems and disengagement of the state from the functions of direct management of economic activities (including any form of “public service”). However, it would not be appropriate to analyze this reality in terms of abstract opposition between a “social” capitalism and an “anti-social” capitalism, nor to attribute to reformism a sort of merit to have instated the former.

The present situation is the result on the one hand, of a change in the correlation of forces between the bourgeoisie and the working class, and on the other hand, of the reinforcement of the imperialist monopolistic character of the economic system.

The establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia and the substantial advances achieved on this basis in the construction of socialism in the USSR, jointly with the development of the workers' and the anti-imperialist movement in the world, made the worldwide bourgeoisie feel that its power had got seriously rickety. To contain the menace, it then employed all means at its disposal, repressive violence being well-placed, and also manipulations and intrigues to divide the political and trade union organizations of the workers' movement. In the particular context that was the result of the Second World War, it resorted to a policy aiming at misleading the masses who turned more and more toward the revolutionary perspective for which the soviet proletariat showed the way. It accepted, in a certain number of countries, notably in France, the establishment of an assurance system for periods of illness, unemployment and retirement. In parallel, it maintained certain minimal conditions of subsistence required for the working people to continue to live staying subjected to the daily exploitation by capital.

Since then, the restoration of the power of the bourgeoisie in the USSR, then in Albania, and the consecutive dislocation of the workers' movement substantially changed the worldwide situation. The bourgeoisie eventually believes to be authorized to consider as null and void its past fears and to make disappear any favorable concession to the working people. This concerns the “social security” system, the labor law, the collective labor agreements, as well as the least advantage obtained under the pressure of the struggle for labor demands, and includes also the favorable effects of the “public services”.

Another series of modifications concerns economy. In comparison to the situation between the two world wars, the development of the productive forces organized under the control of the dominant transnational societies has crossed a new stage in the enlargement of its dimensions. It has brought over into the perimeter of the industrial sector countries the economy of which past times was agricultural. In the imperialist countries themselves the scales of reference have extended considerably. Previously, certain activities were organized as national sectors or at least in a centralized manner, on the level of each country, the bourgeoisie considering that a collective management in the service of capital as a whole was appropriate. That's the case of infrastructures (transports, energies, telecommunications) but also of certain industries like aeronautics, notably military. This vision still stays effective, but its application tends to jut out from the limits got narrow of the national states. Yet, the existence of the latter stays a fact, and in the political field the establishment, for instance in the European Union, of a unique “European telecommunications company” is far from being possibly concretized. That is why an indirect mechanism puts itself into practice, which requires privatization of the concerned national companies to leave the field free for supranational monopolistic concentrations, more or less narrowly supervised by the authorities. In the event, what in appearance constitutes a specific case of the application of the neoliberal doctrine and of the free and undistorted competition, in fact originates, at least partly, from the opposite tendency, that is, the fundamental characteristics of capitalism at its monopolistic stage.

Before getting at the issue of “anti-neoliberalism” such as it manifests itself on the subject of the situation in Europe, it is fitting to note that important aspects of the global control exercised by capital are linked to the modification of the place of the dominated countries in the worldwide capitalist system and of the manner how imperialism maintains its domination. In relation to the theme of liberalism, that concerns among others the role played by the international institutions (IMF, World Bank) and the different formal or informal organisms like the club of creditors, the international “summits”, etc. In consideration of the subject such as it is going to be dealt with in what follows, we will leave aside these points.

The issue of unification of Europe on the basis of capitalist economy has been posed since before the Second World War. It concretized progressively since the 1950s. From the moment on when the multi-lateral treaties between European countries went beyond the simple domain of commercial exchanges, has crystallized a debate between proponents and opponents, the latter denouncing the wrongdoings of liberal Europe while evoking, at least some of them, the objective of “Social Europe”, posed as desirable. It is true that in between Great Britain had been subjected to the indeed liberal policy of Margaret Thatcher. It suffices to cite the example of the privatization of the railways, which shows the catastrophic implications, in economic terms for the popular masses in general and in terms of the dislocation of the working class, wanted by capital, in particular.

In a first period of about ten years the movements summarily referred to as “anti-globalist” had oriented their actions principally against certain manifestations of the domination exercised by the great capitalist powers on worldwide level. More precisely were concerned the measures liberal in character imposed on the dominated countries, notably in Latin America. Then, “liberal Europe” has been amply pointed up as aim of critics.

Social Europe against liberal Europe

For historical reasons, it is mainly in France that the issue of “liberal Europe” has ended up gaining considerable importance. This was the case first with respect to the Maastricht Treaty, in terms of opposition to supra-nationality, then, with the project of a constitutional treaty, around the dispositions it contained and which aimed at rendering more explicit the rules imposing the “free market”.

The opposition to the “free market” and to the demolition of the “social security” system organized itself in a natural way in the framework of the trade union movement. Struggles were developed, against going back on the pension and health assurance regimes, and against the European directives concerning the abolition of the protectionist measures in the domain of circulation of manpower and services.

Then came the attempt to make adopt a constitutional treaty according to the orientations developed by the European governments through the European Commission. This is when the trade union protest transformed itself into a more directly political protest.

In France, this debate is strongly linked to the history of the Parti communiste français (French Communist Party, PCF) and the orientation it adopted in the framework of the resistance against the occupation by national-socialist Germany. Since the post-war years and the participation of the PCF in the government, this orientation is constantly cited as source of “achievements” of the workers' movement, and indirectly, it has largely contributed to the appearance of the concept of “French model” in the domain of social relations. One of the characteristics of the opposition to the project of constitutional treaty was the reference to that connection, such as it is for instance invoked in the following appeal, published in 2004 by a certain number of personalities having played a role in the fight against the occupation[1]:

At the time when we see the foundation of the social conquests of the Liberation being called into question, we, veterans of the Resistance movements and the fighting forces of France Libre (1940‑1945), call on the younger generations to animate and retransmit the heritage of the Resistance and its still current ideals of economic, social, and cultural democracy. [...]

[...] program of the National Council of the Resistance (C.N.R.) adopted in the underground on 15 March 1944: Social security and generalized pensions, control of "economic feudalisms," the right to culture and education for all, the press freed from money and corruption, labor and agricultural social laws, etc. How can it be that today money to maintain and extend these social conquests cannot be found, while the production of wealth has increased considerably since the Liberation, the period when Europe lay in ruin?

The political, economic, and intellectual leaders, and society as a whole, should neither resign themselves to nor allow themselves to be impressed by the current international dictatorship of financial markets which threatens peace and democracy.

In the present context, the “anti-liberal” point of view is exhibited in an explicit and insisting manner by certain political organizations, which moreover rely on associative structures ‑ of which they constitute in general the core ‑ so that it be taken over more largely. We will not go in for the whole of the range of these groups, and surely we will leave aside the PCF, which since a long time propagates the positions which constitute the skeleton of the movement such as it has crystallized under the banner of “anti-liberalism”. We simply will tackle two cases that seem significant to us for particular reasons.

The French Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR)

To begin with, as far as the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (Revolutionary communist League, LCR) in France, is concerned, we take as a reference the positions such as they expressed themselves in the debates on the occasion of the 16th congress held in 2006[2].

A particularly accentuated penchant for the anti-liberalism appears in the orientations of the current associated to the “platform 4”. It considers that the presently most important objective is "large political regrouping breaking with management of capitalism". This "construction of a new anti-capitalist party" would be based on the supposed fact that "tens of thousands of militants in the social movement, the traditional left and the extreme left wish for the existence of a political force capable of opposing itself to the right, of contesting the hegemony of social-liberalism and of giving shape to an emancipatory project".

Thus "the collectives potentially have to play a central role since for the moment they constitute the sole organizational expression, however partial it may be, of the political recomposition". "The collectives, the forces of the campaign of the left “no”, thus have the responsibility of continuing to bring together the militants ‑ socialist, ecologist, of the revolutionary left ‑, the trade unionists, alter-globalists, all those who, at the left, reject social-liberalism."

The opportunist character of this position clearly emerges as far as the issue of the program is concerned: "We cannot and should not elaborate a priori, in the abstract, the program of a new force. On the one hand, this would mean substituting oneself in place of the whole of the militants that will constitute this new force and who will decide democratically about it. On the other hand, such a program depends on the actual struggles. Its degree of break depends on the relation of force, on the dynamic of the struggles, on the concessions it is possible or not to extract from the ruling class at a given moment."

In consequence, the utilized formulas remain evasive: "an emancipatory project breaking with capitalism", "the emergence of a left breaking with the management of the system, a genuine consistent opposition to the right, to liberalism, an alternative to social-liberalism". The few anti-capitalist allusions are timid: "[...] a policy that will imply serious incursions into private property of the means of production".

Opportunism also governs the attitude with respect to the issue of government: "[...] only a workers government (or in service of the workers), supported and controlled by the self-organization of the wage earners and the residents will be able to put into practice such a policy in service of the largest number [...]. Such a government, we would support it and would make common cause with it." Concretely, that signifies that "the LCR is in favor of unitary candidacies to the presidential and the legislative elections on the basis of a resolutely anti-liberal platform, taking into its account the claims of the social struggles of the past few years, on the basis also of refusing any alliance with the social-liberals and any participation to a social-liberal government".

The (majority) current associated to the “platform 1” criticizes the “platform 4” "that proposes to abandon anti-capitalism for an “anti-liberal” force, formally at the right of the PCF", and affirms: "We defend the perspective of an anti-capitalist government the program of which be abrogating all the antisocial laws and engaging into a policy of breaking with liberal capitalism. [...] We reject any new experience [...] of a government not breaking with the institutions and the capitalist economy." But its own positions, though, are not more anti-capitalist than those of the “platform 4”.

According to the “platform 1”, what would the "breaking with the capitalist economy" consist of?

In actual effect, the stopping of the liberal policies of employment, of the lay-offs, the putting into practice of an authentic struggle against unemployment implies incursions into capitalist property to take away absolute control by the employers over the economy. The requirement of a new distribution of riches imposes to change logic, to substitute a logic of social needs for the logic of profit.

And what would the "breaking with the institutions" consist of?

This plan of social emergency also has a democratic dimension, in the requirement of a breaking with the institutions of the 5th Republic, in particular the concentration of powers at the top of the state. This breaking does not aim at reestablishing the 4th parliamentary republic, it should come out into a new democracy, a democracy throughout, that is to say, the direct intervention of the population to decide about the running of the society. This should not stop at the entrance of the enterprises and financial markets. This control requires that the mobilization of the popular classes come out into new forms of direct democracy by election of assemblies in the enterprises and the communities. It poses the question of who directs and who decides ‑ the multinational corporations and the financial powers or the working people ‑, that is to say the question of the political power. The competencies of an assembly elected by universal suffrage and for proportional representation should be extended to the whole of the political, economic and social field. All the representatives of the people should be controlled by those who elected them. This democratic transformation should lean on a process of social and democratic self-management of the society.

Shortly, neither establishment of a revolutionary power directed by the vanguard party of the proletariat, nor abolition of the private property of means of production, but only the nebulous formulations regularly employed by the reformists.

The “platform 1” in its turn is included in the aim of the critics formulated by the current associated to the “platform 5”. The latter considers that "besides the one of Hollande[3] and ours, there is a third left: that of the reformist leaderships of the left “no” who ‑ all of them ‑ defend rehashes of the old Keynesian programs". It deplores that "actively supported by the platforms 3 and 4, more timidly by the platform 1, the appeal “for unitary candidacies in 2007 and 2008” unfortunately is situated in the exclusive field of this third left". According to it, "this appeal does not say a word about the struggles in progress, does not pronounce itself about the claims raised by the mobilizations of the past few years", and "it does not indicate the social forces that will be necessary to face to genuinely change policy and it not even says that it is necessary to tackle profits". It is void of relevance for us to know if these judgments are justified. We retain however that after all one comes up with the same limitations in the perspectives of "breaking".

In actual fact, according to the “platform 5”, in the economic field:

 [...] the LCR will defend the necessity of tackling profits, private property, power of the employers, by all means that class struggle offers [...]

And in the political field:

 [...] the LCR will defend the necessity [...] of abolishing the 5th Republic and of opening a constituent process [...].

The Parti communiste des ouvriers de France (PCOF)

In France, like in most of the other European countries, the field of what is called the extreme left is essentially occupied by Trotskyist movements. We will mention here one more organization the historical connection of which is distinct, but which completely merges into the orientation illustrated above by the example of the LCR: the Parti communiste des ouvriers de France (Communist Party of the Workers of France, PCOF).

The PCOF constituted itself in 1979 following on a split of the “Parti communiste marxiste-léniniste de France” (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of France, PCMLF). The latter stemmed from the “Fédération des cercles marxistes-léninistes de France” (Federation of the Marxist-Leninist circles of France) founded in 1964 by militants excluded from the French Communist Party, which in 1966 had taken the name of “Mouvement communiste français (marxiste-léniniste)” (French communist movement - Marxist-Leninist), then in 1967 had transformed itself to PCMLF.

The PCOF places itself plainly within the framework of the anti-liberal positions[4]:

The unifying thread between the “no” to the referendum for the European constitution, the refusal of the CPE, the movements against criminalizing the youth, the mobilizations in solidarity with the undocumented, the solidarity with the homeless, is the massive rejection of the neoliberal policy conducted by the government and the employers. And when the workers fight against lay-offs for the stock-exchange's sake, when they fight for their wages, they directly attack this policy of maximum profit required by the merchant banks and other private funds that strangle society.

To sum up: "Everywhere in the world, neoliberal policy has been the response of the monopolistic bourgeoisie to the crisis[5]." Proceeding from here, the PCOF considers that "the gravity of the situation more than ever requires of all political, social, trade union forces that oppose to liberalism and its social-liberal version, to struggle together and to propose a policy breaking with neoliberalism"; it points out that "this is the task that the “collectives of 29 May” have set themselves" and concludes that "it is within them that can be forged the unity between the different strata of the people to struggle against neoliberalism [...]"[6]. Let's recall that an appeal had been publicized in 2004 with a view to the rejection of the “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe”, whilst a referendum should take place on this subject, on 29 May 2005. After this referendum, constituted themselves, in continuation of the appeal, the “committees of 29 May”, regrouped into a national committee. They have elaborated a document titled “charter for an alternative to liberalism”, adopted in August 2006.

The PCOF plainly endorses this program: "A policy alternative to neoliberalism exists, it is the one that is contained in the “charter for an alternative to liberalism”[7]." Yet, this text does no more than repeating over and over again, in more or less identical terms, the reformist long-standing positions propagated by the participating organizations, in the first place the PCF. This is a paragraph that suffices to present it in synthesis[8]:

Our objective, is the satisfaction of social needs, the development of the capacities of each person and hence more research, qualification, culture and democracy. This supposes to distribute and utilize otherwise the available riches, to establish an ambitious pedestal of collective and individual rights, to restore active public policies, to put into the heart of the political project the social appropriation and the public services, to establish another manner to decide about our common future, to conceive of an “alter-development”, to reorient the construction of Europe and of the world.

Nowhere in the text does appear the term “anti-capitalist”. In conformity with this approach the PCOF writes on the subject of the movement against the “contrat première embauche” (first engaging contract, CPE), in March 2006[9]:

Such a movement also is a formidable occasion for discussing in-depth issues, of society, for discussing politics; the one people reject and the one people would like to see applied. A policy of equality, of social justice, of solidarity to which we all aspire and which is poles apart from the neoliberal policy that we undergo and combat since years.

The stands taken by he PCOF in the course of the elaboration of the charter do not introduce any substantial differentiation with respect to the predominant reformist positions. The customary formulations are repeated. Of this gives evidence the manner how the PCOF, in presenting the charter, makes out with satisfaction certain points contained in the text[10]: "the creation of public posts to satisfy with priority the social needs"; "the calling for a decent income for all, with priority given to the lowest wages"; "the social emergency of a policy of defense and extension of public services, in service of the popular users"; "the emergency of a policy of employment, of formation, notably in direction of the young".

In its own contributions to the debates in the committees as well, the PCOF remains true to its reformist conception of the nationalization measures. On the subject of the "former public enterprises, in way of privatization or totally privatized", it writes: "The issue of their re- nationalization is forcibly posed. But such a measure supposes: [...] that the nationalized enterprises be managed differently[11]." The objective of the nationalization measures is to "give back to the governmental authority the instruments of another policy"[12], and "the calling for a profound democratization of these enterprises" aims to see to it that "the working people, their organizations and the users have the means to control them actually"[13].

Likewise, when it poses "the question of “who will and should pay” the economic, social, etc. measures of a policy of alternative to liberalism", the PCOF does no more than insist that be affirmed more explicitly the objective of the “sharing out of riches” figuring in good place in the register of the reformist programs[14]:

We think that it must be clearly affirmed: the big private enterprises that occupy monopolistic positions are those who should pay. The big fortunes are those who should be taxed. Each one can observe that the rapid rise of profits has not ceased, that it is all the stronger as the plans for restructuring are more drastic.

The taxation of the profits of the private enterprises in position of monopoly and of the enterprises formerly public or under privatization, seems to us a requirement to be put out straight off. The recent announcements of record profits of Total and of France Telecom, do nothing but underscore that the part of the riches going to those possessing capital grows all the time and that this wealth should be reallocated toward the satisfaction of the social needs. This taxation should notably touch the speculative funds, the financial companies, French and foreign, of which it is the very nature not to be interested in anything else than the fastest and the highest possible immediate profit, for their shareholders.

In the documents that address themselves to its own militants, the PCOF takes care to apply certain verbal packing to respect a specific terminology. But this in no way changes the fact that it declares being totally bound up with the charter[15]:

The charter reviews the essential issues of the struggle for a radical transformation of the society. [...] And above all, it presents itself as a global political alternative. [...] Our party drew on its own program, “program for a democratic and popular alternative, of unity against the monopolies, of solidarity with the people” to define its positions and the political compromises inherent to this type of unitary approach.

While substituting anti-liberalism to anti-capitalism, the necessity to maintain the appearance of a position of its own as an organization that wants to be of the working class, communist, leads to the utilization of some contortions in language[16]:

Struggling for the implementation of the requirements and the objectives of the charter, the working class defends its class interests and those of all the popular masses. It is the working class that can efficiently block the system by directly tackling capitalist profit.

This position of supporting the charter, the PCOF does assume it including up to its electioneering implications[17]:

We consider that, despite of its limits, its shortcomings, the pedestal that constitutes the anti-liberal charter, adopted by the conference of 13 May, should serve as basis for the definition of the political platforms for the different elections. The candidates that would commit themselves to defend them would altogether naturally be entitled to the support by the collectives and the forces that compose them.

It sees to it, besides, that it fulfill itself these conditions required from the unitary candidates, in posing purely and simply the identity between the content of the charter and its own program of united front[18]:

In face of this offensive and these acts of capitulation, the workers' and popular movement has no other choice but to oppose a united front, around some clear and immediate requirements, as: prohibition of lay-offs in the groups and the subcontractors; 300 euros for all, now; the SMIC[19] at 1500 euros at once; a decent lodging for all, at an affordable price; immediate and global regularization of the undocumented; no to participation of France in aggressions against the people, in Africa and elsewhere, retreat of the French troupes from Afghanistan, no to war against Iran; no to any European constitutional treaty.

These requirements are in the “charter for an alternative to liberalism”. They are our struggle program for the elections, and above all afterwards.

It must be noted nevertheless that by completing the cited enumeration of its claims, by the affirmation that "these requirements are in the charter", the PCOF takes some liberties of interpretation. Without doubt, once engaged in opportunism, there is no more reason to stay rigorous. As a matter of fact, this program is in essence a tracing from the one of the LCR, other pillar of the “united front” established around the “charter”.

Socialist United States of Europe against social Europe

Falce Martello, a current inside the Italian Partito della Rifondazione Comunista

Among the organizations of extreme left as they are called, in the different European countries, there are a large variety of orientations. In contrast to the cases mentioned in what precedes, we now are going to evoke a largely different interpretation, which applies itself to point up the objective to establish the “Socialist United States of Europe”. This slogan holds a central place in the founding orientation of the Trotskyist opposition to the CPR(b)/CP(b)SU and to the Third International. At present, most of the Trotskyist movements make use of it rather with discretion. By way of example, among its more active advocates, one may cite the regrouping “International Marxist Tendency”, animated by Ted Grant and Alan Woods. In Europe, outside of Great Britain, this movement is notably represented in Italy inside the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation Party), by a current named “Falce Martello” (Sickle Hammer).

In Italy, in 1991, was created the “Movimento per la Rifondazione Comunista (“Movement for the Communist Refoundation”, MRC) by part of the delegates to the 20th congress of the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano, PCI), the latter deciding for its part to transform itself to “Partito Democratico della Sinistra (“Democratic Party of the Left”, PDS). Finally, the same year, the MRC resolved itself into “Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (“Communist Refoundation Party”, PRC), together with “Democrazia Proletaria (“Proletarian Democracy”, DP), with the group coming from the “Partito di Unità Proletaria (“Proletarian Unity Party”, PdUP) which in 1984 had dissolved itself to enter into the PCI, and with the “Partito Comunista d'Italia (marxista-leninista) - Linea Rossa (“Communist Party of Italy (Marxist-Leninist) - Red Line”, PCd'I(m‑l)). The group Falce Martello had formed itself in 1983 inside the PCI, around a periodical of the same name. Soon expulsed from the PCI, its militants nevertheless continued to consider themselves as members, declaring themselves as "the Marxists of the PCI". Following on the dissolution of the PCI, the group joined the PRC.

Falce Martello formulates the analysis according to which the present situation of worldwide capitalism no more leaves to the bourgeoisie any latitude of maneuver for a reformist policy, and that the eventuality of a return to a Keynesian policy is "a dream". This is a passage of the motion presented by this current to the 6th congress of the PRC, held in March 2005[20]:

The dream of a return to Keynesian policies, to the “programming” and in substance to a re-run of the golden epoch of the reformism of the 1960s is still more senseless. The Keynesian policies were possible solely owing to the gigantic economic boom of the years of “miracle”, which in the European countries created these rooms of maneuver sufficient for the edification of the welfare state. To this political factors were added, such as the wave of workers' struggles of the 1960s and 70s, as well as the necessity to face the challenge represented by the Soviet bloc, which pushed the dominant class on the road of social compromise and of significant concessions. Today the economic context is radically different. [...] The building of the Party of the European Left precisely founded itself on the hypothesis that the process of unification of capitalist Europe could create margins for a policy of reforms. This is the content of the slogan of “social Europe” today adopted even by sectors of those known as alternative and radical left (for example the French LCR). Such a position is completely utopian, to the extent that it does not take into account the class content of Europeanism. The unique Europe possible on capitalist basis is a Europe imperialist in the exterior and anti-workers in the interior. Claiming to be the true Europeanists signifies contributing to embroider the anti-social and reactionary policies dictated from Brussels.

The observation seems sensible; however the global position inside which it is situated is less of that. First it must be noted that the arguments, examined closely, are defective. Let's take the following categorical judgment formulated by A. Woods[21]:

In the past period the capitalist system has gone beyond its limits. Now it is compelled to retreat, relinquishing the old Keynesian policies of state intervention and managed capitalism. [...] The old Keynesian model has collapsed everywhere and cannot be revived. Any attempt to carry out a half-and-half policy would cause an explosion of inflation, a collapse of investment and the currency and a worse situation than before.

To say that "the capitalist system has gone beyond its limits" seems to refer to the idea that there had been steps toward the realization of a planned capitalism comprising a tendency to inhibit the anarchy inherent to the system. This is an abusive interpretation, which decorates the "Keynesian policies" with dimensions they do not have. One may of course think that Keynes' precepts taken in the strict and precise sense are in actual fact out of fashion as such. But nothing permits to exclude that still in the future the bourgeoisie, in certain circumstances, may be induced to attempt saving the capitalist system in the economic field as well as its own power in the political field, by various proceedings similar to those utilized after the second world war. In particular it is erroneous to reduce the context of the epoch to the circumstances of strong and prolonged growth, while the latter only was one element among a whole of determining economic and politic factors such as we have evoked them above.

Lastly, the argument concerning the impossibility of reactivating the Keynesian model aims wrongly, since anyway, be it possible or not, the renewed recourse to a reformist management of capitalism cannot constitute a legitimate objective for a revolutionary organization. It is true that the practical approach proper to the IMT is profoundly bogged down in the practice of entryism that the Trotskyist movements are fond of. Thus, in Great Britain, it perseveres in making its militants join the Labour Party, in accordance to a quite strange reasoning[22]:

Reforms promised by Labour, which we support, could not be carried out on a capitalist basis. Capitalism must press for counter-reforms: wage cuts and slashed services, i.e. the Tory programme. At this moment big business do not want a Labour government.

Be that as it may, the exposed analyze induces its authors to the conclusion we deal with here[23]:

The alternative to the Europe of the banks and monopolies is the Socialist United States of Europe.

The IMT, in conformity with the basic scheme followed by the Trotskyist movements, poses as general claim that of nationalization measures under workers control[24]:

Only a Marxist policy based on workers' internationalism and the programme of the socialist transformation of society can arm the Labour Movement for a serious struggle against the Europe of the bosses. It is necessary to fight for the expropriation of the banks, finance houses and monopolies and a socialist planned economy under the democratic management and control of the working people.

As for the nub, the orientation of the IMT is above all characterized by the fact that it separates from the rest, and notably from politics, the economic argument concerning the development of the productive forces. To the situation of capitalist crisis in the framework of Europe as it is presently, is being opposed the perspective of a planned economy, unified at the scale of the continent[25]:

We must have an internationalist perspective, based on the need to combine the huge productive potential of the whole of Europe in a harmonious fashion, abolishing the frontiers [...].

The insistence on the opposition between decay under capitalism and soaring under socialism is a recurrent characteristic of the arguments exposed by T. Grant and A. Woods. This is true equally for the texts of the 4th (Trotskyist) International in general, be it at the outcome of the Second World War or before. For example[26]:

[...] in the case of Britain. With the loss of her imperialist overlordship of the world only decay and decline of her standards and rights open up before the working class on a capitalist and nationalist basis. Only a socialist United States of Europe and the world can guarantee culture, democracy, freedom and a rising standard of living, preparing the way for socialism.

European unification as “transitional claim”

From the origin, Leon Trotsky himself underscored this economic argument, though he did not yet envisage the United States of Europe as socialist. Thus in 1917 (in a text titled “The Programme of Peace” that we will cite several times over), on the subject of "democratic republican unification of Europe" of Europe, he wrote[27]:

Hence it is that the economic unification of Europe, which offers colossal advantages to producer and consumer alike, and in general to the whole cultural development, becomes the revolutionary task of the European proletariat in its struggle against imperialist protectionism and its instrument ‑ militarism.

As a matter of fact, L. Trotsky abandons reasoning in political terms: he establishes a mechanical equation between the observation that "the European continent in the present state [in 1923] of development of its productive forces is an economic unit ‑ not a shut-in unit, of course, but one possessing profound internal ties‑, [...][28]" and the affirmation that the delimitation of the states has to be brought to conformity with this structural characteristic.

Of course, the construction of socialist society will be based on the edification of a planned economy liberating the productive forces from the hindrances which capitalism imposes on them, and this progressively, by the integration into an ever larger framework. But to achieve it, a defined political line has to be put into practice, based in a materialistic manner on a series of facts. These are: the working class undergoes the capitalist exploitation, its class interest is to release itself from it, and to this end it must overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie, established in the framework of the national states comprising Europe. In a given country, it is only consecutively to the political revolution that the implementation of a planned economy will be possible as the concrete objective. This will be carried out by heading for an extension of the framework on the European scale, to the extent that the respective revolutionary movements will offer the possibility to do so.

The fundamental defect of the manner Trotskyists pose the problem is that it does not specify that the preliminary condition consists in overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie, that is to say concretely, in establishing a government directed by the vanguard party of the proletariat. The formulation does not simply sin by omission: in actual fact, the point of view of Trotskyism intentionally envisages another unfolding of the events. This is how the leadership of the 4th International posed the issue of the governments in the European countries at the outcome of the Second World War[29]:

In view of this general situation which at bottom reflects the social crisis of the capitalist regime, our European sections will advance the slogan of the Workers' Government or Workers' and Peasants' Government, (corresponding to the character of the country). But this slogan, perfectly correct at the present time, will find no echo whatever among the masses, if it is not adjusted to the conditions peculiar to each country. The Workers' Government does not immediately signify the dictatorship of the proletariat, which can be realized in each country only by the Bolshevik party basing itself on workers' and peasants' Soviets, but a government of parties which claim to be workers' parties, which for the moment have the confidence of the masses and which declare themselves prepared to realize a minimum program of anti-capitalist measures. Such are the Communist and Socialist parties today. Therefore the significance of the slogan of the Workers' Government issued by our sections is nothing else but the following: We say to the workers' parties, “Break the reactionary coalition with the bourgeois parties, take power and put your program into effect.”

T. Grant, at that time, expresses himself in the same sens[30]: "“A Government of Socialists and Communists!” This will be the rallying cry which will be utilised by the Fourth International to mobilise the social democratic and communist workers to wage a struggle against the capitalist class." And he specifies the electoralist character of this orientation: "Thus, the demand for a general election and the convening of a constituent assembly must play a great role in the agitation of our comrades in the first stages of the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses."

The democratic claims are of course an important element for the defense of the interests of the working class. But in the framework of the strategy applied by Trotskyists, they are no more than the expression of the opportunism that dissimulates itself with the help of pseudo-revolutionary speeches. In actual fact, still at the same time, in 1945[31]: "Europe as a whole has entered a revolutionary period"; "An unprecedented revolutionary situation is unfolding throughout Europe". Leaving aside the fact that the belief in the magic of verbal affirmations is not compatible with a materialistic analysis, there anyway is a problem: "With scarcely an exception, all the necessary historic conditions for the triumph of the socialist revolution in Europe are not only objectively mature but even in the process of rotting. Lacking only are genuine revolutionary parties in the principal countries of Europe." Conclusion: one does one's level best and one is content with a "government of Socialists and Communists" (cf. above), and one even eventuates in accepting the idea that, as for the latter, they are part of the "Stalinist bureaucracy".

In the economic domain, this orientation poses the claim of nationalization measures and of workers control. However, to be approached correctly, this objective should be conceived as integral part of the program that the revolutionary party of the proletariat engages itself to carry out in conjunction with the overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie. Yet, with Trotskyists, it is formulated as a transitional claim, in conformity with the principles fixed by the "transitional program" (that's how generally is called the text titled The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth Internationalwritten by L. Trotsky in view of the foundation conference, in September 1938, of the 4th International, and adopted at that occasion). For example, a text from February 1944 poses that the political and organizational tasks consist notably in "bending all efforts toward the unification and the organization of the mass struggles under the banner of the seizure of power and the dictatorship of the proletariat", then, in a section titled "The Struggle for Transitional Demands" explains[32]:

The reconstruction of industry and agriculture, the organization of food distribution, all this is linked to the establishment of a general plan of economic reconstruction.

The Fourth International puts forward the slogan of a great plan of public works and of peace-time reequipment of industry. It fights for nationalization, without compensation or indemnities, of all war plants and their reconversion; for nationalization of all monopolies; for reopening of all shut-down plants under the management of workers' delegates. It fights for the displacement of management committees of the trusts by committees of workers', technicians' and small owners' delegates. It fights for the nationalization of banks and credit institutions, for the abolition of the state debt owed the banks and trust.

In the struggle over wages and against the high cost of living, in the struggle for the improvement of food distribution and the reorganization of the economy, as well as in the struggle against all the maneuvers and counter-offensives of the bosses (lock-outs, discharges, etc.), the central slogan of the period remains: workers' control.

In the same way, T. Grant[33]:

[...] the transitional slogans in various industries at varying stages of the struggle: Nationalise the banks without compensation! Take over the mines, railways and big combines and industry, and operate them under workers' control! Expropriate the trusts which yesterday collaborated with Hitler and today collaborate with the Allied imperialists! A plan of public works! A sliding scale of hours and wages! The arming of the workers and the organising of workers' militias!

Taking the power on the one hand, workers control on the other, two objectives that are envisaged in parallel, in a manner that makes that the second continues to be pursued even when the perspectives of the first turn more and more hypothetical. As a matter of fact, this boils down to the reformist measures, called for and put into practice for example in France in accordance to the program of the Conseil national de la résistance (National Resistance Council, CNR), of 1944.

The passages of texts cited up to here do not include the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe. Here, as for other issues, the Trotskyist scheme follows a specious logic. Limited claims have to be posed which are not revolutionary in themselves; they allegedly would become such to the extent that their implementation, being incompatible with the domination of the bourgeoisie, solely could be attained by the proletarian power. This type of reasoning is displayed with respect to the subject of the economic reconstruction of the European countries: to put it into practice the European economy has to be unified, something that the bourgeoisie is incapable to do, thus this claim will bring about the socialist revolution that will implement the intended unification. Case made. In practice, this signifies that the Trotskyist orientation constitutes not a revolutionary policy, but opportunistic maneuvers.

Thus, as far as Europe is concerned, the starting point is the objective to bring plainly into play the economic potential bred by an economy integrated at the continental scale, through the establishment of the United States of Europe  ‑ though the concept is not pressed straight off with the qualifier “socialist”.

L. Trotsky, in 1917, writes[34]:

The democratic republican unification of Europe, a union really capable of guaranteeing the freedom of national development, is possible only on the road of a revolutionary struggle against militarist, imperialist, dynastic centralism, by means of uprisings in individual countries, with the subsequent merger of these upheavals into a general European revolution. The victorious European revolution, however, no matter how its course in isolated countries may be fashioned, can, in consequence of the absence of other revolutionary classes, transfer the power only to the proletariat.

It's only later on that the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe would be pointed up more directly. One may note that the “transitional” vision leads the Trotskyists up to considering that anyway, already in the text cited above, it was as a matter of fact about the “Socialist United States of Europe” (and not simply republican). In actual fact, in the publication from September 1944 by The Fourth International, of "The Programme of Peace”, the title carries the extension: "The Socialist United States of Europe"[35].

Trotskyists repeat up to satiation that the transitory claims must be linked to the objective of socialist revolution, but this is a rhetoric that aims at justifying the opportunistic positions adopted in situations where the revolutionary perspective is faraway. Moreover, let's notice (without expatiating on the issue that goes beyond the setting of our subject) that, exposed under the reversed angle, the argumentation founds the theory of the "permanent revolution". This is what T. Grant explains, still in 1945[36]:

But transitional demands, if allowed to become ends in themselves and separated from the strategic policy to be pursued by the Marxists, must inevitably become a trap for the proletariat. Thus, under the Nazis, the struggle for national liberation had to be linked to the struggle for the Socialist United States of Europe.

The debates within the Third International

In 1914, Vladimir I. Lenin included among the slogans that the social-democrats had to adopt, the following[37]:

[...] propaganda in favor of a German republic, a Polish republic, a Russian republic and still others, and of the transformation of all the European states into republican United States of Europe; such should be one  of the most immediate slogans; [...]

It has to be underscored that the objective of the overthrow of the reigning monarchies was an essential element of this slogan[38]:

[...] the formation of a republican United States of Europe. But [...] the Social-Democrats will show to what extent this slogan is deceitful and absurd if the German, the Austrian and the Russian monarchies are not overthrown par the revolution.

The conference of the SDLPR(b) groups abroad, held in Bern from 27 February to 4 March 1915 on the initiative of V. I. Lenin, discussed this issue. In the minutes of the conference, Lenin signals that "on the question of the slogan of the “United States of Europe”, the debates have taken a strictly political character, and [that] it has been decided to postpone this problem until the examination in the press of its economic aspect"[39]. Later on he developed the analysis on this subject and concluded that the slogan was erroneous. In August 1915, he writes[40]:

From the point of view of the economic conditions of imperialism, that is to say, of the exportation of capital and of the division of the world by the “civilized” colonial powers, the United States of Europe are, in a capitalist regime, either impossible, or reactionary.

Capital has become international and monopolistic. The world finds itself divided between a handful of great powers, that is to say, of powers that enrich themselves by pillaging and by oppressing the nations without restraint. [...]

Thus is organized, in the epoch of ultimate development of capitalism, the spoliation by a handful of great powers, of nearly one milliard of habitants of the globe. And in capitalist regime, any other organization is impossible. Renounce colonies, “spheres of influence”, the exportation of capital? Contemplate this would be lowering oneself to the level of the countryside priest who, each Sunday, preaches to the rich the majesty of Christianity and asks them to give to the poor... if not some milliards, at least some hundreds of rubles a year. The United States of Europe, in capitalist regime, would amount to an understanding for the dividing of the colonies. Yet, in capitalist regime, the division cannot have any other basis, any other principal, than force. [...] To measure the actual force of a capitalist state, there is not and there cannot be any other means than the war. [...]

[...] On today's economical basis, that is to say in capitalist regime, the United States of Europe would signify the organization of the reactionary in view of delaying the more rapid evolution of America.

As V. I. Lenin reports it in the same text[41]: "It is for these reasons and subsequently to numerous discussions on this issue, during and after the conference of the SDLPR(b) groups abroad, that the editorial staff of the central organ has come to consider as erroneous the slogan of the United States of Europe."

While V. I. Lenin thus drew the consequences of the analysis he was elaborating on the subject of the development of the worldwide capitalist economy (he would write “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” between January and June 1916), L. Trotsky stubbornly insisted in pointing up the slogan of the United States of Europe. In 1917, he writes[42]: "The United States of Europe ‑ without monarchies, standing armies and secret diplomacy ‑ is therefore the most important integral part of the proletarian peace programme." Above all, whereas V. I. Lenin revises for economic considerations the slogan initially posed under the political angle, L. Trotsky puts the economic aspects in the foreground to, in the contrary, reaffirm his position[43]:

From the standpoint of historical development as well as from the point of view of the tasks of the Social Democracy, the tendency of modern economy is fundamental, and it must be guaranteed the fullest opportunity of executing its truly liberationist historical mission: to construct the united world economy, independent of national frames, state and tariff barriers, subject only to the peculiarities of the soil and natural resources, to climate and the requirements of division of labour.

As L. Trotsky himself says, gets the spokesman of his propaganda in overt contradiction to the positions of the SDLPR(b). He writes in 1918[44]:

Into the peace programme we include also the “United States of Europe”. This slogan does not belong to the official programme of the Government of Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets, nor has it yet received recognition from our party. Nevertheless, we believe that the programme of democratic peace leads to a republican World Federation beyond a European one [...].

In June 1923, the organ of the CPR(b) (denomination of the SDLPR(b) from March 1918 on), the Pravda, publishes a text de L. Trotsky in which he writes[45]: "In connection with the slogan of “a workers' and peasants' government”, the time is appropriate, in my opinion, for issuing the slogan of “The United States of Europe”." In this respect, in a text dating from 1928[46], he affirms that "in 1923 the Communist International adopted the controversial slogan" without specifying more in detail what this “adoption” consisted in. Besides, in the same text, he cannot elude the necessity to note that "following the period of the Ruhr crisis, which provided the latest impulse for the adoption of that slogan, the latter has not played a major role in the agitation for the communist parties of Europe and has, so to speak, not taken root", and that "it was not included in the program of the Comintern".

We will bring up again later the signification of the slogan such as L. Trotsky formulates it. The critics that have been opposed to the latter inside the CPR(b) (CPSU from December 1925 on) and the Communist International, notably by Joseph V. Stalin, and that have ended in his exclusion, successively referred to different aspects. At no moment the issue of the United States of Europe was as such in the center of the debates; it was present indirectly, in the discussions concerning the relations between the construction of socialism in USSR and the perspectives of revolution in the European countries.

The 23‑30 April 1925, was held the 14th conference of the CPR(b). A resolution titled “The Tasks of the Comintern and the R.C.P.(B.) in Connection with the Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I.” was adopted, that affirmed that the edification of socialism by the efforts of the USSR was possible and necessary. This resolution was based on the analysis formulated by J. V. Stalin in the text “The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists” (published initially in December 1924 as preface to the book “On the Road to October”). This is how J. V. Stalin exposes the appropriate point of view, opposed to the one of L. Trotsky[47]:

It goes without saying that for the complete victory of socialism, for a complete guarantee against the restoration of the old order, the united efforts of the proletarians of several countries are necessary. It goes without saying that, without the support given to our revolution by the proletariat of Europe, the proletariat of Russia could not have held out against the general onslaught, just as without the support given by the revolution in Russia to the revolutionary movement in the West the latter could not have developed at the pace at which it has begun to develop since the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship in Russia. It goes without saying that we need support. But what does support of our revolution by the West-European proletariat imply? Is not the sympathy of the European workers for our revolution, their readiness to thwart the imperialists' plans of intervention ‑ is not all this support, real assistance? Unquestionably it is. Without such support, without such assistance, not only from the European workers but also from the colonial and dependent countries, the proletarian dictatorship in Russia would have been hard pressed. Up to now, has this sympathy and this assistance, coupled with the might of our Red Army and the readiness of the workers and peasants of Russia to defend their socialist fatherland to the last ‑ has all this been sufficient to beat off the attacks of the imperialists and to win us the necessary conditions for the serious work of construction? Yes, it has been sufficient. Is this sympathy growing stronger, or is it waning? Unquestionably, it is growing stronger. Hence, have we favorable conditions, not only for pushing on with the organizing of socialist economy, but also, in our turn, for giving support to the West-European workers and to the oppressed peoples of the East? Yes, we have. This is eloquently proved by the seven years history of the proletarian dictatorship in Russia. Can it be denied that a mighty wave of labor enthusiasm has already risen in our country? No, it cannot be denied.

And this is how the resolution adopted by the 14th conference of the CPR(b) correctly sums up the two complementary aspects of the issue[48]:

In connection with the existing situation in the international arena, two dangers may threaten our Party in the present period: 1) a deviation towards passivity, arising from too broad an interpretation of the stabilisation of capitalism to be observed here and there, and from the slowing down of the tempo of the international revolution -- the absence of a sufficient impulse to energetic and systematic work in building a socialist society in the U.S.S.R. despite the slowing down of the tempo of the international revolution, and 2) a deviation towards national narrow-mindedness, forgetfulness of the duties of international proletarian revolutionaries, an unconscious disregard for the intimate dependence of the fate of the U.S.S.R. on the international proletarian revolution, which is developing, although slowly, a failure to understand that not only does the international movement need the existence, consolidation and strengthening of the first proletarian state in the world, but also that the dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R. needs the aid of the international proletariat.

Even though the slogan of the United States of Europe remains secondary in these debates, L. Trotsky himself however rightly points out that there is a relation[49]:

The trouble, however, is that the economic ground for the slogan of the United States of Europe overthrows one of the basic ideas of the present Comintern program, namely: the idea of building socialism in one country.

In actual fact, the positions defended by J. V. Stalin are unacceptable to L. Trotsky, since the latter adopts an anti-Marxist interpretation. To sum up, one may underscore two fundamental aspects.

First point: the specific character of the socialist society, as well as of the capitalist one, is determined by the class relations, and not by a certain degree in the development of the productive forces. The construction of the socialist society essentially signifies the elimination of the capitalist relations of production which, on the basis of private property of the means of production, subject one class ‑ the working class ‑ to the exploitation by another ‑ the bourgeoisie. So, at the same time, the socialist society puts an end to any relation of exploitation of one class by another. Freeing the development of the productive forces from the hindrances that the capitalist relations of production impose to it, the socialist society will implement a degree unknown up to then in the economic development to the benefit of the population. But the state of the productive forces, at a given moment, is not in itself the decisive characteristic to judge if the society is socialist. Yet it is this way that L. Trotsky reasons, formulating the following affirmation[50]:

Socialist society, however, can be built only on the most advanced productive forces, on the application of electricity and chemistry to the processes of production including agriculture; on combining, generalizing, and bringing to maximum development the highest elements of modern technology.

Second point: the outbreak of revolutions in such or such country does not depend on the subjective will of individuals, but on objective conditions. The existence and the action of the revolutionary party, vanguard of the workers class, are no more than one element of the process. Sure, they are indispensable, and naturally the responsibility falls on the Party of accelerating at best the ripening of these conditions as a whole. But Trotsky's positions are contrary to materialism, by the fact that he stipulates a logic that is stated as follows. Firstly the construction of socialism in USSR requires revolutions in Europe; secondly one has to initiate the instigation of these revolutions; and thirdly, hence they will so to say compulsory break out in due course.

L. Trotsky was moved out of the political bureau of the CPSU in October 1926, then in October 1927 of the Central Committee and expulsed from the Party in 1928. In 1930 he would found the organization “International Left Opposition” that would become “International Communist League” in 1933, and finally transformed to “Fourth International” in 1938.

The “narrow national vision” according to Leon Trotsky

To justify the slogan of the United States of Europe, L. Trotsky rejects the “defense of the fatherland” in an absolute manner, and not to the extent that it signifies defending the interests of the bourgeoisie. In 1914, he writes[51]:

In these historical circumstances the working class, the proletariat, can have no interest in defending the outlived and antiquated national “fatherland”, which has become the main obstacle to economic development. The task of the proletariat is to create a far more powerful fatherland, with far greater power of resistance ‑ the republican United States of Europe as the foundation of the United States of the World.

The only way in which the proletariat can meet the imperialistic perplexity of capitalism is by opposing to it as a practical program of the day the Socialist organization of world economy.

It must be noted that here the formulation is still that of the “Republican United States”. It is all the more inappropriate to invoke a transition towards the United States of the World, since as far as Europe is concerned, the sense of the slogan was indissolubly linked to the perspective of a revolutionary overthrow of the monarchic regimes (cf. above).

V. I. Lenin, in the text that concludes that the slogan of the United States of Europe is erroneous, cited above, approaches this issue related to the United States of the World, too[52]:

The United States of the world (and not of Europe) are the political form of union and of liberty of the nations that we link up to socialism while waiting for the total victory of communism to bring about the definitive disappearance of any state, including the democratic state. However, as an independent slogan, the one of the United States of the world would hardly be accurate, first because it is identical with socialism; in the second place, because it could lead to erroneous conclusions about the impossibility of the victory of socialism in a single country and about the attitude of the country in question toward the others.

In a repeated manner, L. Trotsky affirms that the existence of the national states is incompatible with the productive forces developed by capitalism. For example, in 1917, in “The Programme of Peace[53]: "[...] the proletariat cannot allow the “national principle” to get in the way of the irresistible and deeply progressive tendency of modern economic life towards a planned organization throughout our continent, and further, all over the globe"; "[...] the fact that the national state has outlived itself ‑ as a framework for the development of the productive forces [...]". In 1931[54]: "One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state."

Of course, already at that time the always more advanced development of the productive forces unfolded not in the limited framework of the national states taken separately, but at the international scale. However, it is erroneous to reverse the interdependence, concluding that hence the national states had to be abolished immediately. Different in signification, one of the fundamental facts brought to light by Marxist analysis is that the capitalist relations of production, after having engendered immense productive forces, henceforth are themselves too narrow to contain these very productive forces and, consequently, to continue favoring their subsequent development.

L. Trotsky does not limit himself to this erroneous manner to conceive the relation between the economic factor that are the productive forces and the political factor that are the national states. He extends his affirmation on to the class struggle. For example, the sentence cited above goes ahead in this way[55]:

 [...] the fact that the national state has outlived itself ‑ as a framework for the development of the productive forces, as a basis for the class struggle, and thereby also as a state form of proletarian dictatorship.

Still in “The Programme of Peace”, of 1917, he amply insists on the idea in accordance to which the revolution could not be conceived of inside a national state[56]:

To view the perspectives of the social revolution within a national framework is to succumb to the same national narrowness that forms the content of “social patriotism”. [...] the United States of Europe represents the form ‑ the only conceivable form ‑ of the dictatorship of the European proletariat.

Developing his argumentation, he reaches a conclusion that cuts short in an absolute manner. For example in 1934[57]: "The task of the proletariat is not the defence of the national state but its complete and final liquidation." And in “The Programme of Peace”, of 1917, one encounters the same reasoning applied under the reverse angle[58]: "If the problem of socialism were compatible with the framework of the national state, then it would thereby become compatible with national defence." Logically, the latter formulation implies that, under the envisaged hypothesis, it would suffice to invoke socialist revolution to come in a given country, to justify national defense. But considering the hypothesis in question as excluded, L. Trotsky does not hesitate to engage himself into explications that lead to aberrant positions.

The critics launched by J. V. Stalin against L. Trotsky as well as those aiming finally also Grigori Zinoviev, are centered on the issue of construction of socialism in USSR, mainly under the political angle, but also touching the economic domain. Rightly J. V. Stalin observes, rejecting the G. Zinoviev's arguments[59]:

Capitulation to the capitalist elements in our economy ‑ that is what the inherent logic of Zinoviev's line of argument leads us to.  [...] The root of this mistake, in my opinion, lies in Zinoviev's conviction that the technical backwardness of our country is an insuperable obstacle to the building of a complete socialist society; that the proletariat cannot completely build socialism owing to the technical backwardness of our country.

Above we have underscored the fact that one of the main arguments with respect to the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe is the perspective to thus assure the economic progress, whilst the European bourgeoisie would only bring about slump for the laboring masses. In this respect, it is fitting to note a particular aspect, namely that this analysis points up the affirmation in accordance to which the situation of Europe is fundamentally determined by the growing domination that there exerts the American imperialism.

In July 1924, L. Trotsky writes[60]:

American capitalism is seeking the position of world domination; it wants to establish an American imperialist autocracy over our planet. This is what it wants. What will it do with Europe? It must, they say, pacify Europe. How? Under its hegemony. And what does this mean? This means that Europe will be permitted to rise again, but within limits set in advance, with certain restricted sections of the world market allotted to it.

This analysis leads him to refer to the contradiction between the European workers movement and the American capitalism as one of the major contradictions determining the future development of the situation in Europe[61]:

The further this development unfolds along this road, [...]. All the more centralized will become the resistance of European labor against the master of masters, against American capitalism. All the more urgent, all the more practical and warlike will the slogan of the All-European revolution and its state form ‑ the Soviet United States of Europe ‑ become for the European workers.

L. Trotsky sets this up as one of the main divergences facing the Communist International, as for example in his critic of the draft program submitted to its 6th congress in July-August 1928[62]:

The draft does not explain that the internal chaos of the state antagonisms in Europe renders hopeless any sort of serious and successful resistance to the constantly more centralized North American republic; and that the resolution of the European chaos through the Soviet United States of Europe is one of the first tasks of the proletarian revolution.

He concludes[63]:

If in the past decade the main source of revolutionary situations lay in the direct consequences of the imperialist war, in the second post-war decade the most important source of revolutionary upheavals will be the interrelations of Europe and America. A major crisis in the United States will strike the tocsin for new wars and revolutions.

The upsetting that, in the course of the 1930s, has marked the situation in Europe and has led to the outbreak of the Second World War, is by no means consistent to this scheme. In the situation of crisis and sharpening of the contradictions on the worldwide scale, the USA of course occupied a primordial position. But in Europe the working class was in the first place confronted to the repressive and martial scheming of the bourgeoisie of the different countries, which sought to reinforce and enlarge its own spheres of imperialist domination in competition with the others. Neither in Italy after the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in 1926, nor in Germany after the take of power by the national-socialists in 1933, nor in Spain with the outbreak of civil war in 1936 ‑ nowhere, on behalf of the working class, it was about fights against the perspective of American domination.

After the end of the Second World War, the 4th International maintained the same approach. It is true that the situation of Germany and of its allies as countries under military occupation, the USA being the principal one among the victorious powers, contained strong similarities with the situation consecutive to the First World War, in 1917 and the following years. Yet, the scheme of revolutionary resistance against subservience to the USA was inappropriate, fact that did not fail to be proven rapidly. Besides it its significant that, when the analysis in terms of opposition to American domination was renewed in the 1970s by the Chinese Communist Party, it was presented under a different form, that of the alliance between the “Third World” and the “Second World”. This interpretation in no way envisaged a revolutionary upsetting in the European countries, but only an opposition to the “vexations” sustained by the peoples of these countries ‑ meant in a sense that included the bourgeoisie‑ on behalf of the superpowers, USA and USSR, constituting the “First World”. For the CCP, finally, only the USA remained as designed enemy, a tenacious vision, which is entertained more recently by others, who see in “the Empire” (American, it is understood) the devil.

A common role: paralyze the revolutionary movement

In what precedes, we have approached two examples of positions assumed by Trotskyist organizations, respectively the French LCR and the current Falce Martello inside the Italian PRC. Globally, the activity of the Trotskyist organizations is situated within a labyrinth of mutual relations of interdependence, defined by a varying mixture of cooperation and competition. Fundamentally, is thus perpetuating itself, on the international level, a comprehensive fabric the role of which, through all the successive internal evolutions, is to paralyze the workers and communist movement by attempting to make a shield with respect to the development of an authentic Marxist-Leninist communist movement. We are going to give here, though it passes beyond the posed subject ‑ “anti-liberalism” and “social Europe” ‑, some indications relating to this organizational structuring. In the present section, we confine ourselves to a description of the present situation. In the final section, figures complementary historical information.

The international Trotskyist regroupings are numerous and fluctuating. As far as the organizations cited in this text are concerned, it is fitting to mention three.

To the 4th International (historically titled, more precisely, 4th International ‑ Unified Secretariat) belong among others, the “Ligue communiste révolutionnaire” (“Revolutionary Communist League”, France); the “International Socialist Group” (Great Britain); and the “Associazione Bandiera Rossa” (“Association Red Banner”, Italy). To the regrouping “International Marxist Tendency” (IMT) belong among others, the group around the periodical Socialist Appeal (Great Britain); the group around the periodical Falce Martelli (Sickle Hammer, Italy); and the group “La Riposte” (“Counterstroke”, France). To the regrouping “International Socialists” (IS) belong among others, the “Socialist Workers Party” (SWP, Great Britain); the group “Socialisme par en bas” (“Socialism from below”, SPEB, France); the group “Comunismo dal basso” (“Socialism from below”, Italy); and the group “Linksruck” (“Left Turn”, Germany).

These international regroupings do not limit themselves to a separate existence, side by side. The French LCR, section of the 4th International, is comprised of currents, and through this structure the IS is present there, owing to the fact that the French group Socialisme par en bas transformed itself (in 2004) from an autonomous organization to a current inside the LCR. The French group Socialisme International had done the same in 2002. The two of them had as an antecedent a group equally named Socialisme International, dissolved in 1997. At the 16th congress of the LCR in 2006, the current SPEB submitted a platform supported moreover by the current Socialisme International (the “platform 4”, cited above, in the section dealing with the LCR). The case of the Italian PCR is similar. The 4th International is present there, with the current “Sinistra critica” (“Critical Left”). After the Second World War, the 4th International had formed the “Gruppi comunisti rivoluzionari” (“Revolutionary Communist Groups”, GCR), first inside the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI), then as an autonomous organization. In 1980 the GCR became “Lega comunista rivoluzionaria” (“Revolutionary Communist League”, LCR) which, taking the name of “Associazione Quarta Internazionale” (“Association Fourth International”) became integrated into “Democrazia proletaria” (“Proletarian Democracy”, DP) on the occasion of the constitution of this organization in 1989, then in following DP finally found itself inside the PRC founded in 1991. There the group established the current “Bandiera rossa” linked to the “Associazione Bandiera Rossa” (in 2002 the current took the present name, Sinistra critica).

The least one can say is that Trotskyists thus are consequent in their practice of entryism, in applying it to themselves. Historically, the entryism was practiced in the first place toward parties outside the Trotskyist movement, as in the 1930s for the French SFIO, and since the end of the Second World War for the British Labour Party. The group Socialist Appeal notably still maintains this perspective. In France, Socialisme par en bas, before joining the LCR had attempted entryism into the Parti socialiste.

A recent typical example is the one of Linksruck, in Germany. In July 2004 was established an association “Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit” (“Electoral Alternative Work and Social Justice”), mainly by members of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social-Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) as well as of the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (German Trade Union Confederation, DGB), critical in face of the orientation of their respective leaderships. In January 2005, the association converted itself to a political party, “WASG”. Its program articulated itself around the theme of economical democracy. At that time already, the militants of Linksruck contributed to this initiative. Contacts were established between, on the one hand the WASG, and on the other the Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (Party of the Democratic Socialism, PDS) which was the successor to the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Unified Socialist Party, SED, established in April 1946 in East Germany). The PDS first changed its name to “Linkspartei” (“Left Party”) then, in June 2007, the two parties merged under the name of  “Die Linke” (“The Left”).

These are some excerpts of the analysis formulated by Linksruck[64]:

For the first time since the end of the Second World War exists a chance to establish a significant force on the left of the social-democracy. We have the possibility to organize the numerous deceived and to make effective a political alternative, if the new left takes position on the central questions posed in the social controversies. For this, we need patience. [...]

The new left should found itself on the political basis of rejection of the neoliberal politics. [...]

The elaboration of a political basis should be carried out in conscience of the fact that we live the most cutting attack against the welfare state since the foundation of the Federal Republic. We need a pluralist left on the federal scale, which determinates itself on central claims and leaves room for differences and discussions.

The new left should give itself a profile of defender of the social interests, distinguishing it from the SPD. This also signifies that it should not exclude forces that do not conceive of themselves as socialist, in order that it can edify a genuinely large force.

In this manner the left can formulate political alternatives that help develop resistance and edify a political pole that confers a parliamentary expression to this resistance. That's the preliminary condition to break the paralyzing influence of the SPD inside the biggest of the social movements, the trade union movement. Only thus we can create a social base for a change in society.

In September 2007, Linksruck has dissolved itself to continue its action in the framework of a current called “Sozialistische Linke” (“Socialist Left”) inside the party Die Linke. This is an excerpt of the press release published on that occasion[65]:

From the beginning Linksruck has supported the formation of a new, unified left, as a movement of political gathering against neoliberalism. With the succeeded foundation of the party The Left we do not see any more sense in maintaining Linksruck as a separate member organization. [...]

Linksruck calls on all its members and sympathizer to favor the edification of the party Die Linke with their Marxist positions and to support the current Sozialistische Linke (Socialist Left), which occupies itself to promote a class orientation and the tightening of the party's links with the trade union movement.

In France, following on the vicissitudes having arisen in relation with the anti-liberal committees and the candidacy to the presidential elections of April 2007, the LCR lets make out the hypothesis of a new application of entryism in reverse consisting in that one organization wraps itself up by another, larger, to subsist there as a current. Olivier Besancenot, spokesman of the LCR [66]:

We want to bring together into a new formation all the anti-capitalists and all the proponents of a change of society. [...]

If it [this formation] originates, the LCR no more has the vocation to exist as such. It is a matter of forming a militant party that resembles to society, a party that will not be a party of passive members nor an elitist revolutionary vanguard. A militant generation, stemming for example from the suburbs and virgin of the political experiences of the past, emerges. The new leadership will have to be in the image and in the colors of the country. In plain language, a copy-and-paste with the present leaders is out of question.

This perspective, besides, had already been announced by some people on the occasion of the 16th congress of the LCR (platform 4) [67]:

But all this, we should do it in the perspective of participating in the construction of spaces, of fronts, of political alliances with others, out of which comes the creation of a new party with democratic functioning, inside which we would be a political current that would intervene there loyally while conserving its independence (press, meetings, etc.), notably in order to continue defending revolutionary perspectives.

The method, besides, snowballs. An example is provided in France, by Olivier Dartigolles, who at the time of the elections of spring of 2007 was spokesman of the general secretary of the Parti communiste français, Marie-Georges Buffet, but who in view of the results of the votes engages himself in an orientation different from the one defended by M.‑G. Buffet[68]: there is need of "a new political organization" inside which would exist "an organized communist sensibility".

Historical notes

Great Britain: International Marxist Tendency, International Socialist Tendency

Ted Grant: from the Workers International League to In Defence of Marxism

Workers International League (1937), Revolutionary Socialist League (1938)

After his arrival in Great Britain in 1934, Ted Grant (Isaac Blank, born in South Africa) joined the “Militant Group” inside the Labour Party. In 1937, he and others left the Militant Group and formed a new group called “Workers International League” (WIL). In 1941, the WIL changed the name of its publication to Socialist Appeal, with T. Grant as chief editor.

In 1938 was created the “Revolutionary Socialist League” (RSL) by the merger of two existent groups, the “Marxist League” and the “Marxist Group”. Then, the same year, the RSL absorbed the Militant Group as well as another organization, the  “Revolutionary Socialist Party” (RSP). At that time, the RSL constituted the British section of the 4th (Trotskyist) International. Those of its members implicated in the activity of “entryism” inside the Labour Party were regrouped in the “Militant Labour League” that published The Militant. Not long after, the militants having come from the RSP over again separated from the RSL, to join either the “Independent Labour Party” (ILP), or the WIL. In 1939, took place a split of the RSL leading to the ephemeral existence of the “Revolutionary Workers League” (RWL) (with, notably, Isaac Deutscher). However, in 1940, the majority of the members of the RWL entered into the WIL, then in 1941, the rest returned to the RSL.

Another split inside the RSL produced the “Socialist Workers Group” that joined the ILP, with the exception of some members that entered to the “Trotskyist Opposition”, a group expelled from the RSL in 1942. In 1943, the Trotskyist Opposition expelled in its turn a fraction opposed to the position of the leadership.

Revolutionary Communist Party (1944)

In 1944, the 4th International organized a conference that put into practice first the reintegration of the Trotskyist Opposition, including the expelled fraction, into the RSL, then the merger of the RSL with the WIL to form the “Revolutionary Communist Party” (RCP), as the British section of the 4th International. T. Grant (having come with the WIL) later on was member of the executive committee of the 4th International.

The RCP was divided into two fractions, the one (to which belonged notably Gerry Healy) in favor of entryism towards the Labour Party, the other opposed to it. In 1950, the RCP was dissolved and joined the Labour Party. The instructions of the 4th International at that moment were to militate with the entryist group of G. Healy (known as “The Club”), but the latter expelled a certain number, of whom T. Grant.

Revolutionary Socialist League (1953)

Some ex-members of the RCP around T. Grant formed in 1953 the “Revolutionary Socialist League” (RSL), as an entryist group inside the Labour Party. In 1958, the RSL was recognized as the British section of the 4th International ‑ International Secretariat, and after the reunification in 1963 of the latter with the dissident branch called “4th International ‑ International Committee” (which had been constituted in 1953), it kept at first this attribution within the “4th International ‑ Unified Secretariat” thus constituted. Yet, in between, had been created in 1962 the “Internationalist Group” (IG) by militants having left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1956 as well as others coming from the “Socialist Labour League” (stemming from “The Club”); then the IG had merged with the RSL, but had reconstituted itself in 1965 under its original name. The 4th International at that time considered both the IG and the RSL as sympathizing groups in Great Britain. A unity conference took place between the two, but the merger failed and the IG continued as separated organization under the name of “International Group”. In 1968, it took the name of “International Marxist Group” (IMG).

Militant Tendency

In 1965, as result of these vicissitudes, the RSL left the 4th International. Next this group was known under the name of “Militant Tendency” (MT), after the periodical The Militant it had founded in 1964. Around 1967, after the departure of the groups of G. Healy and of Tony Cliff (cf. below) from the Labour Party, the MT was the only group of a certain importance to continue the entryism inside the Labour Party. But T. Grant and the other members of the editorial staff of The Militant where expelled from the Labour Party in 1983. On the international level, MT constituted in 1974 the “Committee for a Workers International”.

Socialist Appeal

In 1991, T. Grant, with a group of militants, was expelled from the MT. They constituted in 1992 the magazine Socialist Appeal, which is in the center of an international regrouping usually referred to as “In Defence of Marxism”.

Tony Cliff: from the Revolutionary Communist Party to the Socialist Workers Party

Socialist Workers Party

After his arrival in Great Britain in 1947, Tony Cliff (Yigael Gluckstein, born in Palestine) entered into the “Revolutionary Communist Party” (RCP) (cf. above). T. Cliff, as well as T. Grant, subsequently to the dissolution of the RCP, passed on to the group “The Club”, then was expelled from it.

In 1951 some ex-members of the RCP around T. Cliff founded the “Socialist Review Group” (SRG), with the magazine of the same name. In the 1950s the SRG kept up relations with the American “Independent Socialist League” (cf. below). From 1962 on the SRG published a new periodical titled International Socialism, and became “International Socialism Group” (ISG). In the course of the 1960s the ISG established links in a certain number of countries where local groups constituted themselves. In 1977, the ISG adopted the name of “Socialist Workers Party” (SWP). In the USA, the SWP entered into contact with a group titled at first “Independent Socialists”, then “International Socialists” (IS) (cf. below). A split of the American IS in 1978 gave rise to the formation of the group “International Socialist Organisation” (ISO), with which the SWP pursued to have links. While not having a formal structure, in the course of the 1990s this international regrouping started to be commonly referred to as “International Socialist Tendency” (IST).

In 2001, the ISO was expelled from the IST. A fraction of the ISO constituted itself under the name of “Left Turn” to rest member of the IST, but finally separated itself from it in 2003. Among the participants to the IST, let's mention “Linksruck” (“Left Turn”) in Germany and “Communismo dal basso” (“Communism from below”) in Italy.

In France, a group called “Socialisme international” (International Socialism, SI) was founded in 1984 by militants having left Lutte ouvrière (Workers' Struggle, LO) in 1974 and who, after having gotten in touch with the British IS, entered into the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR) to prepare the creation of a IS group in France. In the course of the 1990s, the British SWP incited the French SI to join the Socialist Party. This issue induced, in 1997, the splitting up of the SI: a certain number of members departed, others founded the group “Socialisme” (which keeps up links with the American ISO), and those who actually entered into the PS titled themselves “Socialisme par en bas” (“Socialism from below”, SPEB) (but abandoned the PS not long after). In 2002, the group Socialisme became integrated into the LCR, retaking, as a current, the name “Socialisme international”. In 2002, too, SPEB came into contact with the LCR in view of its entrance as a current, what was implemented in 2004.

The 4th International

Great Britain: International Socialist Group

When the majority of the “Revolutionary Communist Party” (RCP, cf. above) rejected the policy of dissolution within the Labour Party, the group of Gerry Healy separated itself from the RCP and constituted a group inside the Labour Party, known as “The Club”, which the other part of the RCP finally joined the following year. In 1959, The Club was transformed into an autonomous organization named “Socialist Labour League”, which in 1973 took the name of “Workers Revolutionary Party” (WRP). Then, a group having come out of the WRP formed the “Workers Socialist League”, and a split from the latter ended up in 1983 in the creation of the “Socialist Group”.

On the other hand, in 1982, the “International Marxist Group” (IMG) (cf. above), which had become integrated into the Labour Party, changed its name to “Socialist League” (SL). In 1985, subsequently to a split of the SL, was created the “International Group” (IG).

Initially, the 4th International recognized the SL as its British section, and the IG as an individual member. In 1988 the two groups, SL and IG, merged under the name of “International Socialist Group”, which in 1995 was recognized as the British section of the 4th International.

France: Ligue communiste révolutionnaire

In 1944 was constituted the “Parti communiste internationaliste” (“Internationalist Communist Party”, PCI) as the French section of the 4th International, by the merger of the “Parti ouvrier internationaliste” (“Internationalist Workers' Party”, POI, ex‑“Committees for the Fourth International”), the “Comité communiste internationaliste” (“Internationalist communist committee”, CCI) and the group “Octobre”.

In 1952, subsequently to a split, constituted itself a separate organization equally keeping the name of PCI. This rival PCI founded the “Comité international pour la Quatrième Internationale” (“International Committee for the Fourth International”), with the American “Socialist Workers Party” (SWP) (cf. below) and the British “Socialist Labour League” (SLL) (cf. above). In 1965, this PCI would transform itself to “Organisation communiste internationaliste” (“Internationalist Communist Organization”, OCI), which in 1991 would take the initiative of the foundation of the “Parti des travailleurs” (“Party of the Workers”, PT), to which becomes integrated the OCI as “Courant communiste internationaliste” (“Internationalist Communist Current”, CCI).

For its part, the PCI having remained with the 4th International merged in 1969 with the “Jeunesse communiste révolutionnaire” (Revolutionary Communist Youth, JCR) to constitute the “Ligue communiste” (Communist League, LC). The JCR had been created in 1966 by militants expelled from the “Union des étudiants communistes” (Union of communist students) linked to the French Communist Party. In 1974, the LC at first became the “Front communiste révolutionnaire” (Revolutionary Communist Front), and finally the “Ligue communiste révolutionnaire” (LCR).

USA: From the Third International to the Trotskyist International

From the Socialist Party of America to the Communist Party, United States of America

In November 1914, Leon Trotsky settled in France. In January 1915, he started publishing a periodical Nashe Slovo (Our Word), at first with Julius Martov, but the latter soon left the editorial staff. In September 1916, L. Trotsky was deported from France toward Spain and from there to the USA, where he arrived in December. In New York, he wrote articles for the periodical in Russian language, Novy Mir (The New World). He would leave the USA for Russia in March 1917.

On 5 March 1917, L. Trotsky participated in a meeting of the Socialist Party of America (SPA), side by side with Louis C. Fraina, representative of the left wing of the party. Together they submitted to vote a resolution on the subject of the war, which was rejected. This left wing of the SPA was sustained notably by the Socialist Propaganda League of America (SPLA), an organization established in 1915.

In May 1919, the left wing of the SPA published a document about the issue of the program, written among others by L. C. Fraina and Bertram Wolfe. This group at that time aimed at overtaking the control of the party. Elections to the national executive committee gave it a majority with 12 members among 15, but the minority wing reacted by expelling a certain number of organizations comprising about two thirds of the party.

Two initiatives resulted from these events. Part of the left wing, lead notably by John Reed, aimed at participating to the national emergency convention convoked by the minority having cornered the control of the SPA, and at wrecking the maneuver of the latter, but they were expelled from the premises by the police. They then formed, on 1 September, the “Communist Labor Party” (CLP). Among the leaders of the latter, one may mention, apart from J. Reed, Max Bedacht, Ludwig E. Katterfeld. The other part of the left wing created, by a congress held on 1‑7 September, the “Communist Party of America” (CPA). Among the leaders of the latter, one may mention Charles E. Ruthenberg, Jay Lovestone, L. C. Fraina, Nicholas I. Hourwich (Gurvich), Oscar Tyverovsky.

On 2‑6 March 1919 was held in Moscow the foundation congress of the Communist International. The cited organizations separately postulated for the membership to the CI: the CLP on 21 September 1919, the CPA on 24 November 1919, and the SPA on 12 March 1920. In January 1920, the CI transmitted to the CLP and the CPA the instruction they should merge. In April of the same year, while a majority of the CPA, comprising N. I. Hourwich, had declared itself opposed to unification with the CLP, took place a split by the departure notably of C. E. Ruthenberg and J. Lovestone and a group around them. By a congress held on 26‑31 May, actually was constituted the “United Communist Party of America” (UCP), bringing together the CLP and the part of the CPA in favor of this step. Among the leaders of the UCP, one may mention C. E. Ruthenberg, M. Bedacht, James P. Cannon, L. E. Katterfeld. M. Bedacht, besides, assumed the function of representative to the Executive Committee of the CI.

At the 2nd congress of the CI, from 19 July to 7 August 1920 in Moscow and Petrograd, confusion reigned as far as the American delegations were concerned. The CPA had designated two delegates, L. C. Fraina and Alexander Stoklitsky, before the constitution of the UCP had taken place; they from then on where members of the CPA maintained as a separate organization. As representatives of the UCP were present: J. Reed, Alexander Bilan, Eadmon MacAlpine, as well as Edward I. Lindgren. In the absence of sufficient information about the events in USA, the authorities of the congress decided to grant 6 voices to the delegates of the UCP and 4 voices to the delegates of the CPA. The congress, for the first time, elected an Executive Committee. For the USA, were integrated into it, J. Reed of the UCP and N. I. Hourwich of the CPA.

Finally, on the occasion of a congress held in May 1921, the old CPA joined the UCP and thus was constituted the “Communist Party of America ‑ Section of the Communist International”. Among those who have been part of the leadership of the unified CPA, between its creation and its dissolution in 1923, one may mention C. E. Ruthenberg, J. Lovestone, J. Pepper, J. P. Cannon, L. E. Katterfeld, M. Bedacht, Israel Amter, William Z. Foster, Earl R. Browder.

Just as the two constitutive organizations, the unified CPA was an underground organization. In actual fact, already at their beginnings, the communist organizations in the USA underwent the repression of the state machine. In 1918 had been adopted the “Sedition Act”, as an amendment to the “Espionage Act” of 1917; it severely limited liberty of expression. From the end of 1919 on, thousands of members of the communist organizations were arrested and, as for the immigrants, deported.

The 3rd congress of the CI was held in Moscow from 22 June to 12 August 1921. This time it did not directly elect an Executive Committee but decided that the represented parties and countries should designate their representatives to this organ in accordance with determined proportions. For the USA, O. Tyverovsky was sent to Moscow.

After the 3rd congress of the CI, the Executive Committee of the latter was finally enlarged. At the 1st Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI held in Moscow from 21 February to 4 March 1922, was elected a Presidium of which was part L. E. Katterfeld from the unified CPA, and M. Bedacht was present as delegate of the American communists. At the 2nd Enlarged Plenum held on 7‑11 June 1922, L. E. Katterfield was not reelected, and J. P. Cannon was elected as candidate member.

In August 1922 was held a congress of the unified CPA to which were sent by Moscow: J. Pepper, Genrik Valetski, and Boris Reinstein[69].

Besides, on the occasion of a congress held in December 1921 had been created the “Workers Party of America” to serve as a legal cover for the CPA. It was constituted of the major part of the CPA as well as individuals and groups coming from the SPA. As national president was designed J. P. Cannon, then in May 1922, C. E. Ruthenberg who just came out from prison was named Executive Secretary.

The 4th congress of the CI was held from 5 November to 5 December 1922, in Moscow and Petrograd. The USA disposed of two representatives, L. E. Katterfeld (“Carr”) who replaced O. Tyverovsky, and J. P. Cannon (“Cook”). The WPA sent three delegates, M. Bedacht, Alexander Trachtenberg, Alfred S. Edwards (“Sullivan”).

In April 1923 was held the last congress of the CPA. The dissolution of the CPA as an underground party, leaving the place to the WPA, was decided, accompanied by the establishment of a restricted body inside the latter, in charge of the secrete operations.

The 3rd enlarged Plenum of the ECCI was held on 12‑23 June 1923 in Moscow. I. Amter assisted to it as delegate of the WPA.

A congress of the WPA was held in December 1923 ‑ January 1924. As Executive Secretary, was designed C. E. Ruthenberg and as President, at first J. P. Cannon, replaced in February by W. Z. Foster. The Central Executive Committee set up according to two fractions, the one represented notably by E. R. Browder, J. P. Cannon, W. Z. Foster, the other notably by J. Lovestone, J. Pepper, C. E. Ruthenberg. I. Amter continued as representative of the party to the ECCI.

The 5th Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI was held from 21 March to 6 April in Moscow. The delegation of the WPA comprised W. Z. Foster (“Dorsey”), J. P. Cannon, and John Williamson for the majority; C. E. Ruthenberg (“Sanborn”), J. Lovestone (“Powers”), and J. Pepper for the minority. J. P. Cannon and J. Pepper were named to the Political Commission of the ECCI.

In August 1925 was held a congress of the WPA, which took the new name of “Workers (Communist) Party of America”. The responsibilities of leadership were assigned taking into account to which fraction belonged the persons, a representative of the CI, Sergei Gusev, being charged with settling disputes. Among the designed leaders one may mention the following. National Executive Secretary: C. E. Ruthenberg; “independent president”: S. Gusev; to the Central Executive Committee: for the majority group, E. R. Browder, J. P. Cannon, W. Z. Foster, for the minority group M. Bedacht, J. Lovestone, C. E. Ruthenberg. After the decease of the latter in 1927, J. Lovestone overtook the post of General Secretary.

With respect to the conflicts internal to the CP(b)SU, the Foster fraction placed itself to the side of J. V. Staline, whereas the Lovestone fraction showed an inclination toward the positions of Nicolai I. Bukharin. However, as for J. P. Cannon, the latter, subsequently to his participation to the 6th congress of the CI in 1928, performed an about-turn and decided to organize his own fraction in support of the opposition of Trotsky; he was expelled from the CPA the same year.

J. Lovestone, as for him, was expelled from the CPA in 1929 for his support of N. I. Bukharin and his theory alleging an “American exception” that would imply that in the USA a “moderate” strategy had to be followed toward the bourgeoisie. He then constituted a party named “Communist Party (Opposition)” (CP(O)) that placed itself in the framework of the “International Communist Opposition” (ICO). The ICO existed from 1930 to 1939. It was mainly represented by: the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands ‑ Opposition (Communist Party of Germany ‑ Opposition, KPD‑O/KPDO/KPO) formed in 1928‑1929 by expelled members of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), notably Heinrich Brandler and August Thalheimer; and in Spain by the Bloque Obrero y Campesino (Workers and Peasants Block), lead by Joaquín Maurín et Julián Gorkin (ancestor of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (Workers Party of Marxist Unification), POUM).

Among the participants of the CP(O) one may note Bertram Wolfe. The CP(O) later on became “Independent Communist Labor League”, then, in 1938, “Independent Labor League of America”, before dissolving itself in 1941.

In 1929, the CPA changed its name to “Communist Party, United States of America” (CPUSA). W. Z. Foster succeeded to J. Lovestone as General Secretary.

The 11th Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI was held from 25 March to 13 April 1931 in Moscow; the American delegate was E. R. Browder.

In 1932 W. Z. Foster, subsequently to a heart attack, was induced to demise in favor of E. R. Browder.

The 13th Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI was held from 28 November to 12 December 1933 in Moscow. The American delegate once again was E. R. Browder.

W. Z. Foster, after having followed a medical treatment in the USSR, came back in 1935. Then, in 1945, E. R. Browder was removed for having attempted to dissolve the CPUSA as party; he was expelled from it in 1946. W. Z. Foster from than on participated to the leadership as President.

The Socialist Workers Party and the 4th International

In 1928, subsequently to their expulsion from the WPA, J. P. Cannon and his followers created the “Communist League of America” (CLA), which constituted itself as section of the “International Left Opposition” founded in 1930 by L. Trotsky. In 1934, the CLA merged with the “American Workers Party” (organization created in 1933) to form the “Workers Party of United States” (WPUS, also called “US Workers Party”). In 1936, a large part of the members of the WPUS entered into the Socialist Party of America (SPA) to constitute there a current, but not long after where expelled from it. They then founded the “Socialist Workers Party” (SWP), which participated in the foundation of the 4th International, from which however it distanced itself during the 1980s.

One of the main leaders of the SWP at the time of its creation, beside J. P. Cannon, was Max Shachtman. The latter had joined in 1922 the “Workers' Council”, organization that later on had become integrated to the Communist Party of America (CPA). In 1940 a fraction lead by M. Shachtman left the SWP and constituted the “Workers Party”. The latter, in 1949, changed its name to “Independent Socialist League” (ISL). In 1957, the ISL entered into the SPA as a fraction and decided its dissolution as an organization in 1958. However, part of the members did not follow this way and created an “Independent Socialist Club”, then through the constitution of other clubs, formed the “Independent Socialist Committee” that, in 1969, took the name of “International Socialists” (IS). The members of the IS developed informal links with the British IS, the influence of which ended up in a split inside the American IS and the constitution of the “International Socialist Organization” (ISO).







[1]. "Appeal to celebration of the 60th anniversary of the program of the National Council of the Resistance, of 15th March 1944".

[2]LCR, 16e Congrès ‑ Projets de thèses et motions, Rouge, supplement n° 2 to n° 2136, December 2005.,

[3]. François Hollande, then First Secretary of the Parti socialiste (Socialist Party, PS).

[4]PCOF, "Un vrai changement, une vraie rupture avec le néolibéralisme", leaflet, January 2007.

[5]PCOF, "Le sixième congrès ordinaire du Parti communiste des ouvriers de France vient de se tenir avec succès", release, 20 December 2006.

[6]PCOF, "Le CPE, c'est un condensé de néolibéralisme! Ensemble pour le retrait du CPE et contre le néolibéralisme", release, 7 March 2006.

[7]PCOF, "Le sixième congrès...", op. cit.

[8]Collectifs du 29 mai, "Charte pour une alternative au libéralisme", 21 August 2006.

[9]PCOF: "Retrait du CPE et combat contre le néo-libéralisme ‑ Construire un pôle anti-libéral", release, 16 March 2006.

[10]PCOF, "Notre présentation de la charte - les raisons de notre soutien", 27 September 2006.

[11]PCOF, Contribution au débat sur la charte contre le libéralisme, 20 February 2006.

[12]PCOF, Contribution aux Assises nationales des collectifs du 29 mai, 13 May 2006.


[14]PCOF, Contribution..., 20 February 2006, op. cit.

[15]PCOF, "Notre présentation...", op. cit.


[17]PCOF, "À propos de l'appel du 11 mai 2006", release, June 2006.,

[18]PCOF, "Nos exigences-programmes", leaflet, 14 March 2007.

[19]. Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance (Interprofessional minimum wage according to economic growth).

[20]. Falce Martello, "Rompere con Prodi, preparare l'alternativa operaia", 5 November 2004.,

[21]. Alan Woods, "A Socialist alternative to the European Union", In Defense of Marxism, 4 June 1997.

[22]. Ted Grant, "Militant's Programme: For a Socialist Plan of Production ‑ Capitalist crisis deepens", In Defense of Marxism, 28 January 2005.

[23]. Alan Woods, "Europe, America and imperialism", In Defense of Marxism, 11 January 2003.

[24]. Alan Woods, "A Socialist alternative...", op. cit.


[26]. Ted Grant, "Marxism Versus New Fabianism ‑ Part Two", May 1953. In: The Unbroken Thread, London, Fortress Books, 1989.,

[27]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", May 1917. In: Allen Clinton (ed.), Trotsky's Writings On Britain, London, New Park Publications, 1975.

[28]. Leon Trotsky, "Is the Slogan “The United States Of Europe” a Timely One? (A Discussion Article)", Pravda, 30 June 1923.

[29]"The Maturing Revolutionary Situation in Europe and The Immediate Tasks of the IVth International", Political Resolution Adopted by the European Executive Committee, Fourth International, January 1945. Fourth International, New York, June 1945, vol. 6, n° 6, pp. 170‑74.

[30]. Ted Grant, "The Changed Relationship of Forces in Europe and the Role of the Fourth International", March 1945. In: The Unbroken Thread, London, Fortress Books, 1989.

[31]. "The Maturing Revolutionary Situation...", op. cit.

[32]. "Theses on the Liquidation of World War II and the Revolutionary Upsurge", by the European Conference of the Fourth International, February 1944. Fourth International, New York, March 1945, vol. 6, n° 3, pp. 78‑86, and May 1945, vol. 6, n° 5, pp. 150‑52.

[33]. Ted Grant, "The Changed Relationship...", op. cit.

[34]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", op. cit.

[35]. Jack Bernard, "Introduction to Trotsky’s Programme of Peace".

[36]. Ted Grant, "The Character of the European Revolution ‑ A Reply to Some Comrades of the IKD", October 1945. Workers International News, vol. 6, n° 1, October 1945; equally Fourth International, New York, vol. 7, n° 3, March 1946, pp.72‑76.

[37]. Vladimir I. Lenin, "The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War". Written at latest on 24 August (6 September) 1914. Oeuvres, tome 21, Éditions Sociales, Paris, Éditions du Progrès, Moscou, 1973, p. 12. Translated by us from French.

[38]. Vladimir I. Lenin, "The War and Russian Social-Democracy". Written before 28 September (11 October) 1914. Oeuvres, tome 21, Éditions Sociales, Paris, Éditions du Progrès, Moscou, 1973, p. 27. Translated by us from French.

[39]. Vladimir I. Lenin, "The Conference of the SDLPR(b) Groups Abroad". Oeuvres, tome 21, Éditions Sociales, Paris, Éditions du Progrès, Moscou, 1973, p. 157. Translated by us from French.

[40]. Vladimir I. Lenin, "On the Slogan for a United States of Europe". Oeuvres, tome 21, Éditions Sociales, Paris, Éditions du Progrès, Moscou, 1973, p. 353. Translated by us from French.,

[41]Idem, p. 355. Translated by us from French.

[42]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", op. cit.


[44]. Leon Trotsky, "Peace Negotiations and the Revolution", circa February 1918.

[45]. Leon Trotsky, "Is the Slogan...", op. cit.

[46]. Leon Trotsky, "The Draft Program of the Communist International: A Criticism of Fundamentals", The Militant, 1929.

[47]. J. V. Stalin, "The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists", 17 December 1924. In: Les Questions du Léninisme, Tirana, Éditions “Naim Frashëri”, 1970, pp. 128‑129. Translated by us from French.,

[48]. Resolution: "The Tasks of the Comintern and the R.C.P.(B.) in Connection with the Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I.", adopted by the 14th conference of the PCR(b), 23‑30 April 1925.

Cf. J. V. Stalin, "À propos de la déviation social-démocrate dans notre parti", report presented at the 15th conference of the PC(b) of the USSR, 1 November 1926, Pravda, n° 256 and 257, 5 and 6 November 1926. Moscou, Éditions en langues étrangères, 1953. Translated by us from French.

[49]. Leon Trotsky, "Disarmament and the United States of Europe". Written on 4 October 1929. In: Fourth International, New York, vol. 6, n° 5, May 1945, pp. 154‑158.

[50]. Leon Trotsky, "The Draft Program...", op. cit.

[51]. Leon Trotsky, "The War and the International", November 1914 (in Russian). Paris, Golos (La Voix, newspaper published by Julius Martov). English translation: "The Bolsheviks and World Peace", New York,  Boni & Liveright, 1918.

[52]. Vladimir I. Lenin, "On the Slogan...", op. cit., p. 354. Translated by us from French.

[53]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", op. cit.

[54]. Leon Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, Berlin, Left Opposition (ed. in Russian), 1930. English/American Edition: Progress Publishers/Militant Publishing Association, 1931.

[55]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", op. cit.


[57]. Leon Trotsky, "War and the Fourth International", signed “International Secretariat, International Communist League”, 10 June 1934. New York, Pioneer Publishers, July 1934.

[58]. Leon Trotsky, "The Programme of Peace", op. cit.

[59]. J. V. Stalin, "Problems of Leninism", 25 January 1926. In: Les Questions du Léninisme, Tirana, Éditions “Naim Frashëri”, 1970, p. 202 and p. 206. Translated by us from French.

[60]. Leon Trotsky, "Perspectives of World Development", 28 July 1924. Izvestia, 5 August 1924, n° 177, under the title "The Premises for the Proletarian Revolution". Fourth International, New York, vol. 6, n° 6, 7 & 8, June, July and August 1945.


[62]. Leon Trotsky, "The Draft Program...", op. cit.


[64]Christine Buchholz, "Gemeinsam und anti-neoliberal", Argumente, n° 9, April 2006.

[65]Pressemitteilung zur Auflösung von Linksruck, August 2006.

[66]"La LCR n'a plus vocation à exister", Interview of Olivier Besancenot in Le Parisien / Aujourd’hui en France, 24 August 2007.

[67]LCR, 16e Congrès ‑ Projets de thèses et motions, op. cit.

[68]Le Monde, 14 September 2007.,1-0@2-3224,36-954486@51-949944,0.html.