On the 100-years anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and the 77th anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s murder by a Stalinist agent, Trotsky’s legacy is more current than ever. The financial crisis of capitalism, similar or worst to that of 1929, and with the current social situation of the masses in the world, a political leadership as a real alternative for the workers to destroy this system and build a new society is more necessary than ever.
We reproduce the article written on the 76th anniversary, in 2016. To be Trotskyist today is, more than ever, to reconstruct the IV International, in combat not only with the bourgeoisie but also with the reformist, neo-reformist, and Stalinist currents, which are becoming more and more an obstacle for the workers’ organization and revolution across the world.
August 21, 1940, was murdered in Mexico Leon Trotsky, leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917 together with Lenin. The day before, Ramón Mercader, a Stalinist undercover agent pretending to be a Trotskyist sympathizer, executed his betrayal attacking Trotsky in the head with a mountaineers’ ice ax, in his house in Coyoacán.
By Alejandro Iturbe.
Trotsky obtained political asylum in Mexico, 1937, eight years after he was expelled from the URSS, and after the governments of several European countries refused him the right of residence.
At the moment of his murder, many of the main leaders of the Bolshevik party that, together with Lenin, led the October Revolution, had been exterminated by Stalin after the infamous “Moscow Trials”, in which they were sentenced (including Trotsky, who was not present) for fake crimes and betrayals, based on monstrous falsifications and forced “confessions”. This was the culmination of the process of bureaucratization of the first Workers’ State, strengthening after Lenin’s death, consolidating in power a counterrevolutionary bureaucratic caste, which would end up restoring capitalism five decades later based on the false theory of the “Socialism in one country”, in the first country that was ever expropriated.
Thousands of followers of the Left Opposition that Trotsky led in the URSS were persecuted, jailed and murdered. The Chinese, German and Spanish working class suffered cruel defeats by responsibility of the Communist Parties, oriented by the Comintern (III International, or Communist International), controlled by the Stalinism. Just as the death during the Civil War (following the 1917 revolution) of a great part of the revolutionary workers’ vanguard and the defeat of the German revolution allowed the emergence of the Stalinism in the URSS, the new defeats had opened the way for Hitler, in Germany in 1933, and the outbreak of the WWII (1939). Trotsky’s followers were just a few, but they were still Stalin’s worst enemy, and to end Trotsky’s life was his obsession.
The main reason was not personal rancor but cold counter-revolutionary logic. Trotsky was in himself the experience of the three Russian Revolutions (1905, February and October 1917), and the expression of the revolutionary tradition of the Bolshevik Party. While Trotsky was alive, a new mass ascent, caused by the hardship of the new war, could find in him and the recently founded IV International a new revolutionary leadership alternative.
His most important work
Trotsky, twice president of the Soviet of Petrograd (1905 and 1917), founder and organizer of the Red Army, the great theoretician and leader of the Bolshevik Party and the Third International, considered his most important work had been the foundation of the Fourth International. After the criminal policy of Stalinism allowed the triumph of Nazism in Germany, Trotsky concluded the Comintern was definitely on the side on the counterrevolution.
It was imperative to found a new International to continue the fight on the construction of a new revolutionary world leadership for the working class. The new International gathered just some few thousand of revolutionary cadres along the world, but it was strong because of its leadership, its morals, and revolutionary principles, and because of the theory and the program that gave base to it: the Theory of the Permanent Revolution, and the Transitional Program. Thus, despite the qualitative strike it meant the loss of its main leader, the Fourth survived its founder. Trotsky was right: he had saved the continuation of Revolutionary Marxism for the new generations.
A program for the current crisis
The Stalinist bureaucracy drove the restoration of capitalism in the former URSS and other bureaucratized Workers’ States. But by the end of the 1980’s and the beginning of 1990’s, the Soviet and Eastern Europe masses featured great revolutions, which eliminated the Stalinists regimes –administrating what already were capitalist States-. Those revolutions freed the workers of the world of the sinister counter-revolutionary apparatus the Stalinism was. It was a colossal victory that opened a new Stage of the world class struggle, in which, since 2007, the biggest crisis of capitalism since 1929 exploded.
The crisis deepened week after week, and inside the imperialist countries, the governments were organizing major financial rescues of billions of dollars to save the biggest banks and companies. Greece and Spain are already under bankruptcy; Italy and Portugal follow the same steps, and the European Union as a whole is shaking. The recipe of the governments to overcome the crisis is the same old bitter capitalist medicine: strong attacks to the jobs, salaries, pensions and work conditions, budgets for health and education, and a brutal increase of the exploitation rate. In Trotsky’s words: “…the bourgeoisie always takes away with the right hand twice what it grants with the left”.
This caused a response of the workers and popular sectors like it was not seen for decades. Millions of workers featured combative general strikes in Greece and the Spanish State. In the latest, hundreds of thousands went onto the streets against the adjustment and massively supported the strike of the coal miners. The Chinese economy, the “new capitalist jewel”, stalled and began to decline. And the dominated countries, those who years ago seemed immune to the crisis, like Brazil, fell into a quick slump.
But this is also the moment in which the program of the IV International shows its full currency and historical validity like the only real way out of this brutal crisis, in favor of the workers. Measures like the sliding scale of wages corresponding the inflation rate; the distribution of work hours maintaining the salary to guarantee employment; the nationalization with no compensation of the bank and the main companies under workers’ control; all included in the Transitional Program, become essential to provide the workers and popular movement with a workers’ alternative plan. And these are, as Trotsky posed, the bridge through which the workers’ movement can move forward, through mobilization, towards a government of its own, and open the way for a Socialist outcome.
On the reconstruction of the IV International
The International Workers’ League (Fourth International), an international organization founded by Nahuel Moreno, just made 34 years. It is the inheritor of the tendency led by Moreno, which fought for decades to the inside of the post-Trotsky Fourth International against the abandonment of the revolutionary principles that led to the crisis and dispersion of the Trotskyist movement. After overcoming a strong crisis due to the death of our main leader, and the opportunist gale that swept the left wing during the 90’s, the IWL-FI has strongly retaken the battle on the reconstruction of the IV and the reunification of the revolutionaries.
As a product of the intervention in the class struggle, and the theoretical, programmatic and political rearmament of the last years, we got to move forward regarding our implantation in the world. The PSTU of Brazil is present in the main demonstrations and makes part of the leadership of CSP-Conlutas, the main alternative federation in the country. Corriente Roja [Red Tendency], in the Spanish State, is playing an essential role in the confrontation to Rajoy’s government, by supporting the miners’ struggle, and by reunifying the alternative unionism. The MAS [Socialist Alternative Movement] plays an important role in the struggles in Portugal. The PdAC [Communist Alternative Party] is at the head of the No Austerity struggles coordinator, in Italy. In Argentina, a reunification of revolutionary organizations allowed the foundation of the PSTU-A. In Paraguay, the comrades of the PT [Workers’ Party] participate actively of the CCT [Working Class’ Confederation]. In Colombia, the PST [Socialist Workers’ Party] heads the coordination of struggles in Cartagena and Bogotá. The IWL-FI has also grown in new countries in Latin America, like Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
More recently, we have incorporated to our ranks our first section in Africa (the LPS of Senegal), our first work in Asia (through the formation of the Committee for the Socialist Republics of Asia), in India and Pakistan.
The current battles
When Trotsky founded the IV International, he did it, as we mentioned, to defend the revolutionary theory and program in front of the deformation and destruction suffered because of a part of the Stalinism ranks.
One of the main political battles the IV faced was a strong combat against reformism and class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, which the Stalinism and the old Social Democracy were encouraging all over the world. Although both tendencies played different roles and held different locations, both organizations combined to save capitalism and avoid the triumph of the national and international Socialist Revolution.
Currently, most of the Social Democrat organizations (paying the cost of its unconditional support to imperialism) are in deep decadence. The Stalinism entered a deep crisis after the fall of the URSS, and a part of its organizations directly turned into bourgeois parties, while the other part recycled into the Castro-Chavist tendency (the one we fought all over these years), also very hit by the deep crisis in Venezuela and the capitalist restoration in Cuba.
The reality of the each time more regressive dynamics of imperialist capitalism (extremely intensified by the crisis opened in 2007) leaves no space for any concession or small reform to mitigate the exploitation levels. Like this, as soon as they get to the power or a few years after, these tendencies will be forced to implement harsh adjustment plans, which will expose their true face of agents of capitalism and the imperialism.
Chavismo in Venezuela and the PT in Brazil had a space of a few years, which is now exhausted. But Alexis Tspiras and Syriza in Greece had none, and from the beginning, it had to strongly attack the workers and the masses. These are reasons that increase the necessity of the revolutionaries to oppose to these bourgeois governments from the left, with a clear localization next to the workers and the masses.
A specific aspect of the current struggle against neo-reformism is the hard debate with those tendencies that, coming from the revolutionary and Trotskyist movement, abandon the central battle of Trotsky, and support these governments, openly or quietly, with argumentations such as “they reflect the current relationship of forces and the level of mass consciousness”.
This is a fake argumentation that goes against reality, as Greece and Brazil show, for example. But even if this had real basis, the necessity to struggle against reformism, class collaboration and these type of governments is a matter of principles for the Trotskyism. In other words, this struggle cannot be subjected to circumstantial considerations. Who abandoned these principles also abandoned Trotsky’s lessons (although, to undercover their capitulation, they still claim to follow the great revolutionary).
These are the battles the IWL-FI currently faces, and the concrete way of taking Trotsky’s lessons ahead. We proudly vindicate its legacy, and once again, we make ours his battle cry: Workers of the world: let us unify under the flag of the Fourth International, for it is the flag of our next victory!
 The minimum program and the transitional program – Transitional Program, Leon Trotsky, 1938.
Translation: Sofía Ballack.