Thu Jun 13, 2024
June 13, 2024

A brief outline of the history of the IWL-FI


We have been fighting, since the 1940s, a long and difficult battle to build revolutionary parties with mass influence in all the countries and to build an International. We understand our struggle as the continuation of the one initiated by Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht[1], Lenin[2] and Trotsky[3] to build the First, the Second, the Third, and the Fourth Internationals.

We recognize the First[4] and the Second[5] Internationals as part of our own history, but our model for the world Party is the Third International[6], conceived as the Communist International. It responds to the needs of the imperialist epoch that we are now living in, both in the programmatic propositions of its first four congresses and in its internal organization: democratic centralism.

The Third International was degenerated and dissolved by Stalinism. The Left Opposition and later the Fourth International[7] brought together the revolutionaries who most consistently confronted this degeneration. Today, most of the currents that claimed to be Quartists have been abandoning their program. But there are other currents that do claim to belong to the IV, claiming their program to be based on the Transitional Program, holding forums in its name, and who on occasion carry out joint actions in homage to Trotsky. Some of these currents even proclaim themselves as the IV International. But, the tragic reality is that more than eight decades after its foundation, the IV as a centralized organization, as a Party of the World Socialist Revolution, does not exist. The setbacks of the class struggle and the deviations of its leaders, beginning with the assassination of Trotsky, caused its dispersion. Its reconstruction is the strategic objective of the IWL-FI since its foundation.

Many ask us, “why reconstruct the Fourth International if it is barely a symbol of Trotskyism?” Today, to be fair, Trotskyism exists as a separate current because it has come to signify the constant struggle against the bureaucracy and for workers’ democracy. Trotsky was always against the use of the term “Trotskyist” because he did not regard himself as a sector differentiated from Marxism and Leninism. It was Stalinism that invented the term “Trotskyist” – and used it to say that they were not Leninists – for all those who supported Trotsky in his confrontation with Stalin. Trotsky’s trend called itself Leninist Bolsheviks. This was the trend that created the Left Opposition and later the Fourth International.

The Fourth was born to defend the principles of Marxism and Leninism under attack by Stalin: internationalism, workers’ democracy, and workers’ power, and to give an offensive policy in the confrontation with Nazism and the Second World War after Stalin’s capitulation. The Fourth International is the continuation of the Third under Lenin’s leadership and represents the conscious struggle that emerged against the Stalinist counterrevolution. It is necessary to rebuild the Fourth International, and not to build something altogether different, because the principles and the foundation of the theory and program expressed in the Transitional Program continue to be valid no matter what obvious updating needs to be done.

The Transitional Program systematized the resolutions of the first four congresses of the Third International: the fight against sectarianism and opportunism, the position regarding the Parliament, towards oppressed nationalities, workers’ control, the workers’ United Front, the militias, the Soviets, workers’ and peasants’ governments, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Apart from that, it posed the need to make a new revolution in the USSR, a political revolution against the bureaucracy. The Transitional Program, following the orientation of the Fourth Congress of the Third International, overcomes the division between the minimum program and the maximum program. It provides the method to elevate the masses to the program of socialist revolution through the elaboration of a system of transitional demands that stem out of the need and the current level of awareness of the masses that lead to the conquest of power by the proletariat.

The Theory of the Permanent Revolution affirms that on the imperialist stage the bourgeoisie does not have conditions to fulfill supposedly “progressive” platforms, and that is why the working class is the one who must take on the fight for democratic demands. In the process of the revolution, these democratic demands are combined with socialist tasks. This struggle highlights the need for the working class to lead the process and for it to develop at the world level. This theory, elaborated by Trotsky, was masterfully concretized as policy with the April Theses elaborated by Lenin when he arrived in Russia in 1917.

The validity of these premises makes it impossible for a revolutionary program to be built without stemming out of the Transitional Program and the Theory of Permanent Revolution. That is why any revolutionary, no matter their origins, who wishes to fight for the defeat of imperialism and of the bureaucracy and for the worldwide triumph of socialism, is fighting – even if unaware – for the central positions of the Fourth International.

Faced with revolutionary processes in Latin America of the twenty-first century (Ecuador in 2000, Argentina 2001, Venezuela 2002, Bolivia 2003 and 2005, Chile 2018); the upsurge of mobilizations of the European masses against the war in 2003; the heroic resistance of the Iraqi people; the permanent resistance of Palestineans; the huge mobilizations after the assassination of George Floyd; uprisings like those of Sri Lanka and Iran; the genocide provoked by the policy of the bourgeoisie and imperialism to confront the pandemic; after witnessing and participating in these struggles we feel the impotence of not having a world revolutionary party to lead the fight towards a unified confrontation against imperialism and towards the struggle for power in different countries. We could conclude something similar in relation to the revolutionary processes of 1989, 1990, 1991, which destroyed the single party regimes of the former USSR and Eastern Europe, but due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership did not succeed in reversing the process of capitalist restoration initiated several years earlier.

That is why the reconstruction of the Fourth International is a central task to advance in the struggle against imperialism.

This reconstruction is not a task for the so-called “Trotskyists” alone. It is a task for all those who agree on the foundation of the program. Trotsky tackled the task of building the Fourth International not only as a task for the Left Opposition (the “Trotskyists of those days”) but for all those who agreed to the Leninist principles and to the need to take up a mortal combat against imperialism, national bourgeoisies, and bureaucracies. In the thirties, the advance of Nazism and Stalinism led to the capitulation of organizations and leaders with whom Trotsky was working to build a new International. For this reason and because of the urgent need to materialize a centralized organization that preserved the revolutionary Marxist principles, the IV International was founded only by those who were part of the International Left Opposition, and not by all of them, since several of them abandoned the task. In spite of this, Trotsky did not abandon his objective of fighting for an international of the masses, where even the “Trotskyists” could be a minority.

We do not regard ourselves as the only revolutionaries on earth. Neither do we believe that the solution to the crisis of revolutionary leadership is to be found only in the growth of our tendency. Rather, we have always fought to create revolutionary agreements, both at the national and international levels. That is why our history is the history of attempted mergers and also of splits that the most important events of the class struggle have caused.

In this long and arduous battle to build the International, we have done some things well but also we have committed many mistakes. In January 1982, when the IWL-FI was being founded, Nahuel Moreno said: “the leaders of the Trotskyist movement thought they were giants who never made mistakes. Trotskyism under their leadership, however, was regrettable.” “This experience of constantly working with ‘geniuses’ led us, indirectly, to create propaganda for our base to convince them that we made a lot of mistakes and that they must learn how to think for themselves because our leadership is not a guarantee of perfection. As much as possible, we want to instill a self-critical, Marxist spirit, and not a religious faith in a limited leadership that is narrow in its formation and unrefined in its culture. That is why we believe in internal democracy and why we see it as an uncompromising necessity. We move ahead through errors and setbacks and we are not ashamed to say so.

The problem is how to commit fewer errors, both in their number and their significance. In my opinion, the tendency will commit fewer errors if we are in an international organization based on democratic centralism. This, for me, is a fact. I can say, without a doubt, that any national party that is not in a Bolshevik International, with international leadership, tends to commit more and more mistakes. Being national Trotskyists inevitably ends with disowning the Fourth International and adopting opportunist or sectarian positions, and finally just disappearing.

Our origins 

The tendency that today is known as IWL-FI has been around as an international tendency since 1953 and has been known under different names. On the national level, it emerged in 1944 in Argentina as a small group directed by Moreno: the GOM (Marxist Workers’ Group). Its central aim was to enter the working class to try to overcome the marginal, bohemian and intellectual origin of the Argentine Trotskyist movement.

Our movement in Argentina had different names. Marxist Workers’ Group between 1943 and 1948. Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Revolutionary Workers’ Party) between 1948 and 1956 (publicly: Federación Bonaerense del Partido Socialista – Revolución Nacional, between 1954 and 1955). Movimiento de Organizaciones Obreras (Movement of Workers’ Organizations) in 1956 and 1957. Between 1957 and 1965, we were known by the name of our newspaper, Palabra Obrera. Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (Revolutionary Workers’ Party) from 1965 and PRT (La Verdad) after the break with Santucho in 1968. Socialist Workers’ Party between 1971 and 1982. And Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement for Socialism) from 1982 until 1997, when what was left of that party broke with the IWL-FI. After that 1997 rupture, Lucha Socialista (Socialist Struggle) was formed, and later the FOS (Frente Obrero Socialista – Socialist Workers Front) with the militants of the old MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) who did not follow its leadership and remained in the IWL. In 2011, the FOS merged with another sector of militants coming from MAS ruptures, the COI, Dignity of Córdoba, and FUR of Comodoro Rivadavia, to give rise to the current PSTU-A (Partido Socialista de Trabajadores Unificados, Argentina).

During the early years, we suffered from workerist, sectarian, and propagandist deviations. No work was done among students and the main thrust of Party activities was lecturing on the Communist Manifesto and other classical texts. Between 1944-1948, we also had a national-Trotskyist deviation, that is to say, we believed that there was a solution to all the problems of Trotskyism within the boundaries of our own country. Only in 1948 did we begin to participate in the life of the International, attending its Second Congress.

Through our intervention in workers’ struggles and in the International, it was possible for us to overcome these deviations and the group was strengthened. In 1945, we took part in the meat-packing workers’ strikes – at that time, the main sector of the working class in Argentina. They were very important and allowed us to recruit nearly all the comrades of the body of shop stewards. We got over our sectarianism and our propagandistic tendency, but we fell into a trade-unionist deviation that, in turn, was to be overcome thanks to our participation in the International. After the experience in the meat-packing strike, a group of GOM comrades, including Moreno, went to live in Villa Pobladora, a working-class neighborhood in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, at that time one of the largest workers’ concentrations in Latin America. There they began to work in the Corazones Unidos Social Club. Soon after, Moreno was elected president of the Club. From that Club they gave courses and lectures at the same time that they carried out social and cultural activities and were closely linked to the life of the workers in the area. From that work, the small group grew to a hundred.

Slowly but surely we began to grow in strength. We led factories producing cement tubes and leather goods. We led in the neighborhood club in the working-class Villa Pobladora. In spite of the fact that we were a small group of about 100 militants, we became deeply rooted in the working class and we built our principal proletarian cadres. The best example was Elías Rodriguez, who is today an exemplary cadre of our movement.

The Argentinian Party turned into the most proletarian Party within the Trotskyist movement together with the SWP[8], which was built with Trotsky’s personal guidance.

In this process, we overcame our sectarianism and propagandism, but we fell into a syndicalist deviation, which later began to be overcome thanks to our participation in the International.

Our participation in the Fourth International 

After World War II, the leadership of the Fourth International, consisting of the SWP (USA), Pablo (Greece), Mandel (Belgium) and Frank (France)[9] was very young and inexperienced and did not manage to get over the qualitative weakness caused by the murder of Trotsky in 1940. The essential feature of the Fourth International of those days was its sectarianism. Its Second Congress was an example of that. It was held in 1948 in the midst of great changes: in China, a revolution was underway and it achieved victory a year later; in Czechoslovakia, the bourgeois ministers were swept out of the government and the bourgeoisie was being expropriated, a process that had been happening in Yugoslavia since 1947. The Congress ignored these events, centering their discussion instead around the class character of the USSR and around whether the USSR should be defended from imperialist attacks. That discussion had already been solved in the American party in Trotsky’s lifetime in 1939-40.

In spite of the sectarian and propagandistic character of the Congress, the participation on the part of the GOM was momentous. From that moment on, we began to work within an international framework. We gave a lot of attention to crafting our political analysis of imperialism and its relations with national bourgeoisies. There was also a lot of discussion on our international positions, like the position that the GOM – as a part of the Fourth International – defended in favor of North Korea in its confrontation with South Korea. Moreno always highlighted the importance of having joined the Fourth International even if our group was never acknowledged as an official section. At that time, the official section was the group led by Posadas.[10]

The discussion on the new states in Eastern Europe 

In 1949, the discussion on the class character of states in Eastern Europe began. Moreno defended the manner in which this discussion was held as a great example of democratic centralism. There were two main positions. According to Mandel (Belgium) and Cannon (USA), these states were capitalist. The opinion pushed by Pablo (Greece) and supported with some objections by Hansen (USA) and Moreno was that new workers’ states had emerged. The discussion was settled relatively soon. Mandel and Cannon acknowledged the existence of a real revolutionary process in Eastern Europe and that new deformed workers’ states had emerged. This political success increased Pablo’s prestige among the international rank-and-file and that was how, in 1951, we reached the Third Congress.

The struggle against “Pabloism” 

In 1951, in the midst of the Cold War, all the international commentators were pronouncing the inevitability of armed conflict between the USA and the USSR. Pablo and Mandel, following the bourgeois press, arrived at a conclusion that proved fatal for the International: in their opinion, World War III was inevitable. Faced with this, the communist Parties, eager to defend the USSR, would adopt violent methods to confront imperialism and seize power. The same was supposed to happen with the bourgeois nationalist Parties in the dependent countries.

Based on this analysis, Pablo and Mandel, considering that there was no time to build Trotskyist parties before the outbreak of the third war, proposed “sui generis entryism” in the communist and bourgeois nationalist parties, which had to be accompanied uncritically, until after the seizure of power. The aim of this “sui generis entryism” was to orient their leaders (considered centrist) toward revolutionary positions. The majority of international Trotskyism, headed by the French section, refused to implement that policy. Our group, the Argentine POR (the new name acquired by the GOM) denounced that this position, which abandoned the definition of the Stalinist bureaucracy as counterrevolutionary and abandoned the struggle against it, was a complete revision of essential points of the Trotskyist program. We affirmed that these positions arose because of the petty bourgeois, impressionist and intellectual character of the European leaders.

The Bolivian revolution and division in the Fourth International 

The positions of the Fourth International’s leaders had important political consequences. Pablo refused to demand the withdrawal of the Russian tanks confronting the 1953 workers’ uprising in Berlin. What this really meant was support for the Soviet bureaucracy. But the most tragic consequence of this policy was the betrayal of the Bolivian revolution.

In 1952, a classic workers’ revolution took place in Bolivia. Workers, organized in militias, defeated militarily the police and the army. The COB (Bolivian Workers’ Central) emerged as a dual-power organization. In 1953, the peasant revolution began invading large estates and occupying land. One of the first gains was the nationalization of the mines. Until 1954, the main armed force in Bolivia was the workers’ militias under the leadership of the COB.

Since the 1940s, the Bolivian Trotskyist organization (POR) was gaining enormous influence in the worker’s movement. Its membership included important leaders of the miners, factory workers, and peasants. Its main leader, Guillermo Lora[11], wrote the Pulacayo theses, an adaptation of the Transitional Program to Bolivian reality, and got it adopted by the Miners’ Federation. In the 1946 elections, Lora was elected senator by a front headed by the Miners Federation. In the 1952 revolution, the POR was the co-leader of the militias and was the co-founder of the COB. The POR had great influence among the masses.

Unfortunately, the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, led by Pablo, did not call for the COB to seize power. Instead, they granted critical support to the bourgeois government of the MNR (a bourgeois nationalist movement). Without a revolutionary orientation, the masses were gradually disarmed and demobilized. A few years later, the revolution had been completely crushed. As a consequence of this betrayal, Bolivian Trotskyism became highly deteriorated and a process of successive divisions began.

Along with this policy, the international leadership, led by Pablo, employed a deadly strategy: they intervened in the French Party to destroy the leadership who disagreed with their policy and, in the United States, they tried to form a secret fraction inside the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Rejecting entryism, most of the French Trotskyists (led by Lambert)[12] and British Trotskyists (led by Healy)[13], the SWP (USA) and the South American Trotskyists split from the Pablo-led International Secretariat. In 1953, we created the International Committee (CI).

The Latin American Secretariat of Orthodox Trotskyism: the Peruvian revolution  

In Latin America, the Argentinean POR, together with Trotskyists from Chile and Peru, led a strong campaign against the policy for Bolivia. In April 1953, Nahuel Moreno wrote the text “Two Guidelines”, stating that the policy of critical support for the bourgeois MNR Party had been a betrayal and that they should have called for All Power to the COB.

At the same time, we demanded that the International Committee act as a centralized organization, the only way to defeat Pabloite revisionism. The refusal of the majority forces in the International Committee, especially the U.S. SWP, to act centrally and with an offensive policy provoked the advance of Pabloite positions despite the fact that the majority of Trotskyists were against them. When the attempts for the International Committee to act centrally and offensively failed, we began to act as a tendency at the Latin American level. In 1957, we formed, together with Peruvian and Chilean leaders, the SLATO (Latin American Secretariat of Orthodox Trotskyism). The SLATO was an attempt to group the Latin American Trotskyists who opposed the Pabloite capitulation to Stalinism. Luis Vitales, who had been sent by the Argentine party to support the Chilean group, was one of the founders. The document approved by the Conference that gave origin to the SLATO made it possible to specify the dominant character of U.S. imperialism in Latin America and to prepare the documents which Nahuel Moreno and Luis Vitales took to the Leeds Conference called by the International Committee.

In 1962, the existence of SLATO allowed us to have a centralized intervention in the process of the agrarian revolution in Peru. We sent Hugo Blanco[14], a Peruvian student militant in Argentina, to participate in the Cuzco process. Following the SLATO orientation, Hugo Blanco led the process of land expropriations and trade union organization unfolding in the countryside. The SLATO sent several cadres to give support to this work. That is how we built the FIR (Revolutionary Left Front). FIR was led by Trotskyists and it formed the origin of what is now our Peruvian section.

In 1963, Hugo Blanco was captured by the army. Between 1963 and 1967, he was kept in isolation. In 1967, he was tried by a military court. There was a possibility that he would be given the death penalty so we launched an international campaign that got enormous support from well-known people like Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Isaac Deustcher, French, British, and Indian trade unions, and members of parliament in France, Britain, and elsewhere. Thanks to this campaign, Blanco got a sentence of 25 years in jail instead of the death penalty. But the fight didn’t end there and another campaign got him released in 1970. During all these years, in all the Peruvian peasants’ congresses, Hugo Blanco continued to be elected as the principal leader of the peasants.

The Cuban revolution and the 1963 reunification  

Recognition of and support for the Cuban revolution formed the basis for reunification of the Fourth International in 1963. That is how the United Secretariat[15] was formed. It was led by Ernest Mandel and the Socialist Workers’ Party (Pablo left the Fourth International to become a consultant for the bourgeois Ben Bela[16] administration in Algeria). All of the Trotskyist forces who saw Cuba as a new workers’ state joined the United Secretariat. The British and the French didn’t join because they didn’t agree with this stance on the Cuban revolution.

We waited a year to join because we asked first to see their evaluation of the poorly thought-out strategy that led to the betrayal of the Bolivian revolution as a way of preventing similar deviations from taking place in the future. Even though they never made this self-critical balance sheet, in 1964, we decided to join. We were convinced that, in spite of our differences, a reunification based on a revolution was positive. We saw that this would put us in a better position to intervene with more strength in the future upsurges we anticipated.

The struggle against the guerrilla deviation, the development of the Argentinean party, and the Portuguese revolution  

The Cuban revolution had a strong impact on the international vanguard, especially in Latin America. In Argentina, during the 1960s, this was combined with a decline in workers’ struggle. The Castroite influence had serious consequences for our group.

From 1957 to 1964, our organization (known as Palabra Obrera, the name of the newspaper) applied the tactic of entryism in the 62 Peronist Organizations, as a means to build ourselves in contact with the best of the workers’ vanguard that was facing the military dictatorship. In that period our group built very close ties with the workers’ movement, as no other left-wing grouping in Argentina had ever achieved, and which marked a distinctive characteristic of our current. Our organization made great progress at the trade union level, but not at the political level due to our strong trade unionist deviation.

Contradictorily, even with the trade unionist deviation, “our party, in those crucial moments of the struggle in Argentina, did not neglect the theoretical and political problems posed by the world situation, not only to Trotskyists but to all those involved in the national and international class struggle.” As part of that task, we must also point out the edition of the journal Estrategia de la emancipación nacional, which arose from the need to have a Marxist theoretical publication. Milcíades Peña, “Hermes Radio”, was then considered a sympathizer of our party. With him and Luis Franco, an outstanding poet and Marxist intellectual, we were able to publish three issues between 1957 and 1958. The defeat of the workers’ movement, with the strike of January 1959, also hit us in this aspect and we had to suspend its publication.”[1]

That theoretical advance was intimately linked to the understanding of the need of the International. In that sense, Moreno’s frontal clash with the ‘federalist’ conceptions of the International Committee held by the North American SWP leaders, the demand for the IC to become a centralized revolutionary leadership, pointed to an aspect closely linked to the above: “to develop the world party to better promote the growth of the national sections, avoiding deviations and errors; and to make the most of the experience of the most dynamic sections to strengthen the world party (…) it was a necessary struggle, which on the other hand allowed to advance in the understanding of the relations between the world organization and its national parties”.[2]

But that necessary battle was defeated and the sections continued to be subjected to national pressures without having a strong international reference. In the Argentine party, a strong crisis opened up when in 1964, the Cuban leader Ángel Bengochea (el Vasco), who together with Moreno was the main leader of our organization, broke away. A few years later (in 1968), a rupture was provoked which led the main cadres of the party towards the guerilla positions. The main leader of the rupture was Roberto Santucho, with whom we had unified in 1965, and who later became the main leader of the ERP.

But the effects of the pressure of “foquismo” extended beyond just our Argentinean group; the leaders of the Fourth International were also impacted by it. We had not managed to defeat and go beyond Mandel’s poorly thought-out and impressionist methodology. In the late ’60s, the continued use of this methodology resulted in a new capitulation, this time to the Castroist guerrilla conception of “foquismo”. The Ninth Congress of the Fourth International (1969) voted to adopt the tactic of guerrilla warfare in Latin America. Consistent with this, Santucho´s party (PRT-El Combatiente) became recognized as the official section of the Fourth International. Our organization (PRT-La Verdad) remained a sympathizing section.

The US Socialist Workers’ Party, the Argentinean PST (the name our section adopted after merging with Juan Carlos Coral, a split from the Socialist Party)[21], and all of the South American groups formed a tendency that led an unrelenting battle against these positions. We said that the “foco” theory was an elitist policy, isolated from the mass movement. We said that it would prove disastrous. Unfortunately, facts proved us right. Trotskyism lost countless valuable militants, mainly in Argentina, but also in other countries, by following this flawed policy. From that moment on, the United Secretariat, which never became a democratically centralized organization, began functioning as a federation of tendencies, with each one applying its own policy.

The existence of a united world organization (the United Secretariat) made it possible to take advantage of the new opportunities that opened up with the upsurge of struggles in 1968. For example, in France, where Trotskyism had all but disappeared thanks to the policy of entryism sui generis, the LCR[22] was created and managed to organize 5,000 militants and to put out a daily newspaper. In Latin America, we saw the enormous growth of the Argentine PST. In the USA, the SWP became much stronger through its participation and intervention in the movement against the Vietnam War.

But because we were never able to defeat the guerrilla deviation, in the 1970s we were faced with a new capitulation of Mandel’s. This time it was to the massive vanguard that emerged from May ’68 in France and that were under the influence of Maoism. Our disagreement with Mandel on this issue is developed in a book by Moreno called “The Party and The Revolution.

In the course of this struggle against the guerrilla orientation and against vanguardism, our Argentinean party, the PST (which emerged from a merger with a sector that split away from social democracy) developed as a strong party. And it was able to build its strength by applying a completely different policy than the one of Mandel: a policy of taking part in the emerging struggles, which climaxed with the partial insurrection known as the “cordobazo”[23], and by participating in the electoral process. It was during this period that we organized our parties in Uruguay and Venezuela.

In 1974, when the Portuguese revolution broke out, the PST sent cadres to take part in this process. We pushed forward a policy to advance the struggle for power grounded in the development and centralization of the emerging dual-power organizations. Thus, we recruited a sector of high school students and organized the Portuguese party, which provided important cadres for the International.

The Portuguese revolution demonstrated another capitulation of Mandel’s. Following the position of the Maoists, he gave support to the MFA (Armed Forces Movement)[24] who were in fact co-governing the Portuguese empire. This process also caused the 1975 split in FLT (a fraction that we constituted with the SWP to confront Mandelism)[25] because we were unable to agree on a common policy for the revolution. They thought that the central task was to raise democratic demands and to publish Trotsky’s works.

The majority of the organizations and militants of Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Peru left the FLT and, together with the Argentine PST, built a tendency that soon turned into a fraction of the United Secretariat, the FB (Bolshevik Faction)[26], which would, later on, give birth to the IWL-FI.

Our participation in the Portuguese revolution and our polemics with Mandelism and the SWP helped us to develop our theoretical understanding of Party construction during revolutionary processes that was later explained in “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Portugal.”

The party in Brazil 

A group of young Brazilians exiled in Chile contacted our current. After the Pinochet coup, they left for Argentina and began organizing in the PST. In 1974, they returned to Brazil to build the Party. Thus, the Workers League[27] and, later on, Socialist Convergence[28] were created. The group began to develop itself and, in contact with the leaders of the FB, they elaborated a program calling for the creation of a Workers’ Party (PT).

The young Brazilian organization developed entryism over the next 12 years, without dissolving itself into or capitulating to the bureaucratic leadership of the PT. That was only possible because they belonged to an international current that helped to orient and direct the entryism in the PT, to center the work in the opposition caucuses in the unions of the CUT[29], and provided clarity as to the bureaucratic character of the Lula leadership.

In this way, Socialist Convergence (CS) was able to break with the PT 12 years later[30] stronger than it was when it joined and with a policy of building a revolutionary united front aimed at the sectors of the vanguard that were drifting away from Lula’s party.

The Colombian party 

The 1976 military coup in Argentina produced the semi-fascist Videla dictatorship. The PST had to evacuate important cadres from the country, a situation that we took advantage of to reinforce our international work. It was during this period that we built our organizations in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama and that we reinforced our work in Portugal and Spain. But the most important process took place in Colombia, where we contacted the Socialist Block, an organization drifting towards revolutionary positions with cadres coming from Castroism and the church. That is how the Colombian PST was formed.[31] It was rapidly consolidated and became one of the two pillars on which our international work rested.

The struggle against the Argentine dictatorship 

At the same time, the Argentine PST was playing a heroic role in the resistance against the genocidal dictatorship in Argentina. Around 250 PST militants were imprisoned and more than 100 were killed or disappeared. Acting under absolutely clandestine conditions, the Party kept on producing its newspaper and developing its work among the workers, the youth and the intellectuals.

At the beginning of the Falkland War, we developed a principled policy of identifying and attacking the imperialist invasion as the main enemy, despite the enormous hatred for the dictatorship. From the very first moment, without at any point dulling our denunciation of the dictatorship, the PST stood with the Argentine military organizing for the defeat of imperialism. Coming out of the dictatorship, the PST won enormous prestige among the vanguard and consolidated 800 solid cadres. These 800 militants began the work of building the MAS and recruited a group of cadres coming out of another socialist tendency to help with this project.

The Nicaraguan revolution: the Simón Bolívar brigade 

In 1979, when the Nicaraguan revolution began, our tendency, in spite of our differences with Sandinismo, decided to take part physically in the struggle against Somoza. Through the Colombian PST, a massive campaign was launched to build the Simón Bolívar Brigade. It was made up of our militants and independent revolutionaries from Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, the USA, and Argentina. While maintaining total political independence, the Brigade joined the Sandinistas and played a heroic role in the liberation of the southern region of Nicaragua at the cost of many lives and injuries. When the revolution triumphed, the Brigade was received as heroes in Managua. We had been demanding that the Sandinistas split with the bourgeoisie and seize power together with workers’ trade unions. But the Sandinistas, following Castro’s policy, formed a coalition government with Violeta Chamorro. The Brigade began the work of trade union organization and managed in one week to organize over 70 unions. This upset the Sandinista leadership and they decided to expel the Brigade from Nicaragua. Several of the members of the Brigade were imprisoned and tortured by the Panamanian police allied to the Sandinistas.

The United Secretariat sent a delegation to Managua to tell us that we were an ultra-left group that they wanted nothing to do with and they proceeded to push through a resolution prohibiting the construction of parties independent of the Sandinistas. Their refusal to defend revolutionary militants tortured by the bourgeoisie was the consequence of having voted through an internal resolution that, in practice, was a decree of expulsion for our tendency, forcing us to split away from the USec definitively.

These events revealed our real differences with the USec. We defended the need to build revolutionary parties in Nicaragua, but they disagreed. This discussion was the same as the one about Cuba, as far as the construction of the Party was concerned and the need for a political revolution. Everything pointed to the increasing capitulation of the USec to Castroism and the Sandinistas.

Our relationship with Lambertism 

The Trotskyist trend led by Pierre Lambert did stand in solidarity with the Simón Bolívar Brigade. And that was how our relationship with Lambertism, a trend we had not been in contact with since 1963, began. We began a process of discussion, with principled agreements and accords regarding the program expressed in the Tésis de Actualización del Programa de Transición (Theses on the Transitional Program For Today), by Nahuel Moreno. In this piece, Moreno develops a political definition of Stalinism and Castroism as counterrevolutionary, discusses the world socialist revolution, and the processes of the post-war period. Eastern Europe, China, and Cuba were recognized as revolutionary processes in spite of the fact that they were not led by the working class or a revolutionary Party.

At the same time, the piece argues for the necessity of pushing forward a political revolution in the degenerated workers’ states that emerged from these processes. It presents an analysis of the guerrilla struggles and the opportunistic policies of their leaderships. The text gives special importance to the defense of the right to self-determination for oppressed nationalities and democratic tasks. It identifies the beginning of the process of crises in the counterrevolutionary apparatuses, especially of Stalinism, that produced the possibility of fighting for Trotskyist parties and a Fourth International with mass influence.

They founded the Parity Committee that, in 1980, resulted in the formation of a joint organization: The Fourth International, International Committee (CI-CI). As such, we carried out a campaign in support of “Solidarity” in Poland. Everything indicated that we would be able now to make a huge step forward towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International.

But this project stalled because our weak presence in Europe led us to commit a serious mistake. We had not realized that Lambertism had strong links with the trade union bureaucracy, which ultimately led Lambert to capitulate to the Popular Front administration when Mitterrand won the elections in France. Lambert refused to discuss the policy in France and began expelling militants who were opposed to that policy. This produced a split in the CI-CI.

This disagreement with the Lambertists forced us to make headway in our theoretical elaboration on Popular Fronts, resulting in the publication of “La Traición de la OCI” (The Betrayal of the OCI) by Nahuel Moreno.

The foundation of the IWL-FI  

In January 1982, an international meeting was held of the parties of the FB and two important Lambertist leaders: Ricardo Napuri of Peru and Alberto Franceschi of Venezuela. One of the central points of the meeting was to organize a defense campaign upholding Napuri’s revolutionary morality, who Lambert attacked for expressing political differences with him. Another important point was how to advance in the construction of the International.

The reunion, in addition to deciding to launch the campaign, voted unanimously to become the founding conference of a new International organization. They voted on and approved the founding theses and the statutes of the IWL-FI, which put forward a strategy for the construction of a Fourth International with mass influence. This was not simply the FB with another name, now that it included Franceschi and his Party, the workers MIR that had split with Lambertism. Sometime later, Napuri joined together with half the Peruvian party that had also split with Lambert.

In 1985, the Dominican party joined the IWL-FI. This group did not come from Trotskyism but from a split with the church. In 1987, a group surrounding Bill Hunter from Britain[32], also not originally from the Morenist tradition, joined and a group of independent young Trotskyist from Paraguay founded the Paraguayan PT, the biggest left-wing party in that country.

In 1985, the First Congress of the IWL-FI voted for a manifesto developing a political analysis of the current world situation as revolutionary. Further, the manifesto called for the construction of a Revolutionary United Front based on a minimum revolutionary program to confront the imperialist counter-revolutionary front, the national bourgeoisies, the Church, Stalinism, Castroism, the Sandinistas and the trade union bureaucracies. The program would be to push forward the construction of national revolutionary Parties and of an International with mass influence.

The main political campaigns of the IWL-FI 

Our first campaign was for the victory of Argentina in the Malvinas (Falklands) war[33]. Through this campaign, we developed an intervention in the anti-imperialist process in Latin America. The campaign to stop the payment of the foreign debt gave us an opportunity to unite with the mass mobilizations in Bolivia that would force Siles Suazo’s[34] Popular Front government to suspend the payments of the debt. There was an important campaign against the Esquipulas and Contadora agreements[35], which were the initiative of imperialism and were supported by the Castroists and the Sandinistas to constrain the revolutionary process in Central America. And in 1991, we carried out a campaign for the defeat of imperialism in the Gulf War.

The construction of the MAS in Argentina  

After the fall of the dictatorship in 1982, the IWL-FI leadership resolved to give priority to the work in Argentina, where an objective and subjective possibility existed for the MAS to become a Party with mass influence. In the struggles of the mass movement and through participation in the electoral process, the MAS became the strongest party within the Argentinean Left. The Party built deep roots in the main factories and in working-class districts, headed opposition slates in trade unions, and held rallies with 20,000 to 30,000 attendees. Due to this work, the first Trotskyist candidate won a seat in the Argentinean Parliament and the party was able to organize and direct a rally of 100,000 in opposition to the government.

In 1987, in the midst of this process, the IWL-FI received a terrible blow: the death of its founder and main leader, Nahuel Moreno. His absence caused a qualitative weakening of our international leadership and played a huge role in the development and outcome of the crisis that led to the destruction of our International.

The crisis of the 1990s  

In the first years of the 1990s, there was an enormous crisis in our international current. Huge changes were happening in the world with the fall of the Berlin Wall which had repercussions across the globe. Significant revolutionary processes destroyed the central apparatus of Stalinism, liberating in the process the international workers’ movement from the restrictive yoke that had been holding it back for decades. But the lack of an international revolutionary leadership prevented this process from being able to reverse the Capitalist Restoration the bureaucracy had been orchestrating. This created an opening for an imperialist political, military, and ideological offensive. It was in this period that the crisis of the IWL-FI emerged, a crisis that would bring it practically to the point of destruction.

In April 1992, the rupture of the Argentine MAS took place with methods at odds with revolutionary morality: the occupation of premises, physical attacks by the minority, the Tendencia Morenista Internacional (TMI), and slander campaigns by the majority leadership. Shortly thereafter, the TMI organized the rupture of the Brazilian party by means of a secret faction. Thus began the worst crisis in our history. In this process, 40% of the Argentine party, the PST of Panama, half of the Peruvian PST, a sector of the Mexican POS, half of the Ecuadorian section, a sector of the Brazilian party, and sectors of Colombia, Chile, Germany, Portugal left the IWL.

The V Congress, held in 1994, voted for the reconstruction of the IWL-FI. Formally, the IWL-FI existed, international meetings were held, leadership existed, and the international magazine was edited. But this was more and more an appearance, a formality. The best proof was the leadership behind the V Congress: an international secretariat integrated by four people answering to four tendencies (FI, TBI, New Course, TR)3, most of which did not defend the continuity of the IWL-FI. In fact, the IWL had ceased to have a unique program and had lost the democratic centralist regime. In content, the IWL-FI was destroyed. That is why the resolution of the V Congress was totally necessary. From that moment, a new leadership team began to be built, headed by the leaders of the former TR, into which the leadership of the Peruvian party and the English group were integrated, taking into their hands the tasks of the reconstruction. This task took a lot of effort and many years due to the devastating destruction of previous years. The reconstruction of the IWL-FI was done not as an objective in itself, but to be the engine of the reconstruction of the IV International. Consequently, at the same time that the reconstruction tasks were faced, new relations with different organizations in different countries (England, France, Iran, Japan, Germany, Turkey, the ex USSR…) had to be built with the aim of advancing that strategic objective.

Days before the Congress, the IF had withdrawn, which meant the departure of the majority of the Spanish party. As soon as the V Congress was over, the TBI broke up, which implied the loss of the Colombian PST, the PRT of Costa Rica, the sections of Honduras and Nicaragua, and more than 100 Argentine militants. Nuevo Curso, led by what was left of the Argentine MAS, remained in the International (and participated in the leadership) but without claiming its foundational bases. Soon after, they began to defend the call for the IWL-FI to abandon democratic centralism and leave aside the strategy of reconstructing the IV International. Their positions were defeated (by one vote) in the VI Congress (1997). Nuevo Curso refused to abide by the resolutions and left the International, taking with it what was left of the Argentine MAS, Convergencia Socialista of Uruguay, the LST of France, the PST of Venezuela and a sector of the Brazilian party.

As stated in the Balance of Activities approved by the VIII Congress: “When counting the losses, we can state that in all this process the IWL not only lost its program, its regime, its finances, and its publications but also lost the bulk of its human patrimony. In total, the IWL lost between four and five thousand militants, among them possibly 80% of the most experienced cadre.”

The new IWL-FI leadership committed many mistakes by responding incorrectly to the 1989-90 events. They were right to understand it as a revolutionary process, but they failed to identify many of the principal contradictions and so they made many unilateral characterizations. That is why the understanding they developed for Eastern Europe and all the former workers’ states was self-proclaiming. They developed a policy with opportunistic features of capitulation to the Democratic Reaction[36].

At the same time, in Argentina we fell into a national-Trotskyist deviation: the international leadership was monopolized by the leadership of the strongest party, the Argentineans, who started acting as a mother party and did not respond correctly to the great challenges posed in the country.

All this caused the greatest crisis in our history. Soon, this led to splits in the Argentine Party and a loss of membership, a split in the Spanish Party and the Colombian Party leaving the International. There was a split within the Brazilian Party as well. In this process, 40% of the Argentinean Party, the Panamanian PST, half of the Peruvian PST, the POS section in Mexico, half of the Ecuadorian section, and portions of the Chilean, German, and Portuguese Parties left the IWL-FI.

The causes of the crisis  

A combination of objective and subjective factors help to explain this crisis. However, the objective factors had a more important impact, an impact that extended beyond just our International. In fact, this process affected all of the organizations of the Left, reformist and revolutionary alike. This is evidence of the significance of these objective factors.

After the military defeat in Vietnam, in the mid-70s, US Imperialism shifted its strategy for confronting the revolutionary processes, focusing now on coopting them through the institutions and mechanisms of bourgeois democracy. Moreno characterized this process as the “Democratic Reaction.” This policy achieved major successes in containing important revolutionary processes. At the same time, it affected the majority of the Left at the international level: the PLO abandoned the fight for the destruction of Israel; the Sandinistas and the FMLN both integrated themselves into bourgeois regimes; in Brazil the social-democratization of the Communist Parties and the integration into the government of the majority of the Brazilian Left through the Workers’ Party (PT), etc. But this process of capitulation of the old anti-imperialist Left experienced a surge after the Capitalist Restoration in the Workers’ States. And this time, the Trotskyist organizations were affected as well.

The central problem was that the restoration did not proceed along the lines predicted by Trotsky, that is via a counter-revolutionary coup, but rather in the name of democratic rights and through bourgeois institutions. The lack of a revolutionary leadership resulted in a part of the population developing illusions about the institutions of the restoration.

Because of this, and because of the imperialist campaign of “the superiority of capitalism”, the vast majority of the Left abandoned a socialist perspective and the struggle to take power. Many Parties dissolved, thousands and thousands stopped organizing and those that remained active began searching for a new direction. As they were “unable” or unwilling to take power, they began to look for a way to gain “spaces of power”. Many new ideas emerged: that the working class is disappearing, that we should look for new social subjects, that Stalinism is the continuity of Leninism, that democratic centralism leads to bureaucratization, that everything should be done horizontally, that all power corrupts, that workers can resolve their problems without seizing power…In this way, they began developing a new type of reformism, a reformism without any reforms.  

This “opportunist tidal wave” that hit the entire Left, including the Trotskyist organizations, also hit the IWL-FI. This is reflected, principally, in the flawed policies that the Argentinean leadership used to respond to the huge challenges reality presented them with.

Following Trotsky, Moreno always said that to confront huge changes and the crises that they produce, we must go back to the working class, to Marxist theory, and to the International.

The Argentinean leadership did the opposite; it fell into an electoralist deviation in which it gave second priority to the construction within the working class. Instead of grounding their policy in Marxist theory, they developed new theories to justify their policies. Because of circumstantial victories and much growth, they considered this work sufficient and fell into a national Trotskyist deviation.

The difference with what happened in the IWL-FI and in other organizations was that there were sectors of resistance to this process within the IWL-FI. For this reason, unlike the United Secretariat, the IWL-FI never reached the point of capitulating entirely to the new conditions. Rather, in the IWL-FI, the “opportunist tidal wave” provoked a crisis and splits, until finally we reversed the process and found our way.

The death of Nahuel Moreno and the destruction of the IWL-FI

If Moreno had been alive, we likely would have entered the crisis, since the objective causes were very strong. Lenin, Trotsky, and Rosa Luxemburg, faced the chauvinist pressures during the First World War, but they did not manage to avoid the bankruptcy of the Second International. Moreno did not manage to defeat the guerrilla pressures which caused the rupture in Argentina with Bengochea and later with Santucho.

But undoubtedly, if Moreno had been alive, the development of the crisis would have been different and the casualties much less. Taking into account Moreno’s trajectory and his prestige, the majority of the IWL would have still fallen into such disarray. With Moreno’s leadership, the crisis would have happened and there would have been ruptures and losses, but almost certainly we would not have reached the level of destruction that we did.

There are movements like the Partido Obrero of Argentina which think that the crisis and destruction of the MAS and the IWL was the product of Moreno’s policy and that the present opportunist evolution of the Argentine MST was the continuity of Morenoism. This position has little consistency. The MST was built by breaking with Morenoism. Nahuel Moreno built our current confronting opportunism, the popular fronts, the democratic reaction, fighting tirelessly for the construction of revolutionary parties in the working class, and for the construction of the International. That struggle of decades created roots, left reserves and that is why from within the IWL-FI and the old MAS itself, a resistance arose which took on the task of reconstruction and managed to put our International back on its feet.

The Fifth World Congress of the IWL-FI 

The first steps to reverse this process were taken at the Fifth Congress of the IWL-FI (July 1994). A favorable objective situation (Chiapas, the resistance of the Bosnian people, an uprising in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, a surge in the struggles of the working class in Europe, the process of reorganization in Brazil out of which the PSTU emerged) combined with the subjective predisposition of the leaders to make every effort to bring the organization out of its paralysis.

This Congress produced a resolution to resume the campaign of Workers’ Aid to Bosnia[37], to regularize the International Courier, and to build an International Secretariat with leaders from different countries, with the top priority being the work in Brazil and Europe. Further, they decided to encourage a process of work on theory and policies and to rearm ourselves with a program. All these steps pushed forward the reconstruction of the IWL-FI which, in turn, was to lead the task of the reconstruction of the Fourth International.

Related to this strategic task, the Congress took the initial step of voting for the formation of a liaison committee with the Workers’ International (an organization with sections in England, South Africa, Namibia, and some Eastern European countries) [38]. The victorious campaign of Workers Aid to Bosnia, our participation in the revolutionary process in Mexico, the construction of a workers internationalist revolutionary Party in Ukraine, the merger of our Party in Spain, the regularity of our international magazine in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, the headway in the construction of the PSTU, the strengthening of our work in Europe, the fact that we worked out a proposal for a program for the Liaison committee with WI, that we were moving forward with our work on Cuba, Bosnia, South Africa, and the discussion of new forms of labor, on the states of Eastern Europe…, all this proves that we were able to carry out the resolutions of the World Congress. And that the IWL-FI was advancing in its battle against paralysis and was making the first steps to overcome the crisis that started in 1990.  

The new reality of the IWL-FI 

Coming out of the Fifth Congress, we began a slow and traumatic process of reconstruction. This process was extremely difficult because of the context. It isn’t the first time, in the history of the Internationals, that it was necessary to confront a revisionist offensive. This also happened in the Second International, but there the fight was headed up by part of the main leaders: Kautsky, Rosa Luxembourg, Liebknecht at first, and after 1914 by Luxembourg, Lenin, Trotsky, and Liebknecht. In the Third International, this struggle was led by Trotsky. In the SWP-US, Trotsky and Cannon together led the struggle against those were against defending the socialist foundations of the USSR, despite its bureaucratic leadership.

In the IWL-FI of the ’90s, it was very different. The key leaders, those who had worked most closely with Moreno, the ones with the most prestige and experience, fell one by one in the face of the “opportunist tidal wave”. They began adopting, one after the other, revisionist positions or they just left and abandoned the struggle. This fight, therefore, had to be taken up by leaders of the second or third ranks, who had no experience in the International’s leadership nor in the theoretical and programmatic struggle. For this reason, with many difficulties, they began reconstructing the organizations and through this began advancing in their common understanding of the world.

Like this, little by little, they were able to recover the theoretical, political, and methodological tradition. They began developing political responses to new situations: the war in Bosnia, capitalist “globalization”, and the restructuring of production. We have been able to develop a theoretical interpretation of the capitalist restoration in the degenerated ex-Workers’ States. The parties of the IWL-FI intervened in the revolutionary processes in Latin America and we have developed a principled program of confrontation with the new popular front and populist governments that originated in these processes.

Through our participation in these processes, the IWL-FI began reconstructing itself, not just in theoretical, programmatic, methodological, and moral terms but also in terms of organization. The biggest organizational advance happened in Brazil, with the construction of the PSTU, which has made itself into an undisputable reference for the struggles and activism in Brazil.

But it wasn’t the only advance. The IWL-FI sections continued deepening their insertion into the mass movements. The Argentinean section began reconstituting itself. We built new sections in Ecuador and Costa Rica, and the POI in Russia joined the IWL-FI. We have been publishing the International Courier and Marxism Alive reviews regularly, and through them have demonstrated our political understandings of the main facts of the class struggle. We have advanced our theoretical-programmatic elaborations through these publications. Since then, new events have confirmed our continued progress: the unification with the CITO[39], which meant the reincorporation of the Colombian PST and of the organizations and cadre in Peru, Costa Rica, and Argentina. The continued development of the PSTU and its correct stance in full opposition to Lula’s Popular Front government, and the success of building CONLUTAS as a militant workers’ and popular center and as an alternative[40]; the entrance into the IWL-FI of the Italian Party; the founding of the Venezuelan section; the development of work in Central America; the founding of the Belgian section; the merger that gave birth to the PSTU of Argentina; the opening of our work in Pakistan and in Senegal; and the reopening of the work in Turkey. There were also some events that indicated the opposite: the withdrawal of the Mexican POS, of the Bolivian MST, and of the Dominican PST[41]. These events continue to mark the pressure of the “opportunistic whirlwind”. But these negative developments don’t change the positive moment the IWL-FI is experiencing now. Rather, they are remnants of the old crisis and the reactions to the process of reincorporation and Bolshevization that we are pushing forward.

Our strategic project: the reconstruction of the Fourth International 

In 2008, we stated: The new reality of the IWL-FI intersects with a new reality in the class struggle in both Latin America and the World. The global and Latin American revolutionary situation that began to show itself with force at the beginning of the twenty-first century is now passing through a new period.

The Iraqi resistance is showing the possibility of a new military defeat for US imperialism. The United States’ stabilization plans for the Middle East failed. In the imperialist countries, the responses to the economic crisis have provoked the reaction of the workers, in addition to the fierce struggles of the immigrant workers. In the case of the United States, this means that they are constructing a bridge with the struggles in Latin America.

But the imperialist attack continues. In Latin America, the colonizing and imperialist offensive, the plundering of natural resources, and the insistence on adjustment policies in order to pay back the foreign debt, all of these are increasing and are exacerbated as a result of the world economic crisis. The response of the masses to this permanent plundering also continues. The difference is that today the workers and popular upsurge are beginning to be directed against the ones who are imposing the plans, that is, against the new governments that emerged in order to contain or prevent the upsurge: Lula, Chavez, Evo, Kirchner, Tabare, Maduro, Boric, Castillo, Petro, and the list goes on and on…

Undoubtedly, this reality demonstrates the urgent need to progress in solving the crisis of revolutionary leadership by constructing an international revolutionary leadership. At the same time, this new period of the world situation is producing important changes in the consciousness of the mass movement that are themselves facilitating this task. With the emergence of these governments, we can see the maximum expression of the effects of this “opportunist tidal wave.” The majority of the currents on the Left, including the majority of those that consider themselves Trotskyist, have capitulated to them. But this new reality is producing splits of sectors to the left within these organizations that are looking for new national and international references.

Returning to what was laid out in the Introduction, facing this situation, the IWL-FI reaffirms its strategic project – the reconstruction of the Fourth International – and calls for unity around a revolutionary program that contemplates not just the political answers to the principle facts of the class struggle, to bring the workers closer to the struggle for power, but also aspects of the conception of a Party and of revolutionary method and morality.

For the reconstruction of the 4th International, we propose applying the same method that Trotsky used in its construction. In the first place, this means putting forth a call not only to those who come from a Trotskyist tradition, but to all revolutionaries with whom we have a programmatic agreement, regardless of their origin.

In the second place, it means not directing this call to all of those who consider themselves Trotskyist. On the one hand, this is because there are organizations that call themselves Trotskyist, yet have abandoned a revolutionary program and support or participate in bourgeois governments. On the other hand, it is because there are self-proclaimed sects that, though they recite the program, use factionalist and disloyal methods that play an extremely destructive role.

Thirdly, it means proposing unification not through open conferences and big events, but rather through patient programmatic discussion and common intervention in the class struggle. This will permit this advance to happen on the basis of solid agreements and relationships of revolutionary loyalty.

Given the deterioration that the “opportunist tidal wave” produced, it’s critical that we emphasize and clarify some of the most important points:

  1. The defense of class independence against all bourgeois governments, including the Popular Front and populist governments. No support for their policies either. Full opposition to all of them.
  2. Support for the struggle of the working class and its allies.
  3. The struggle against the bureaucracy and for workers’ democracy in all organizations of the working class.
  4. To have as a central task the struggle against imperialism in all of its manifestations.
  5. Our objective is the destruction of the bourgeois state and its armed forces, and the construction of a new workers’ state, based in democratic working-class bodies that will push forward the international socialist revolution.
  6. The defense of revolutionary morality and the rejection of the methods of “the end justifies the means”, of physical attacks, slander, disloyal work, and unfulfilled agreements.
  7. The reaffirmation of the role of the working class as the social subject of the revolution.
  8. The defense of the need to construct democratically-centralized revolutionary proletarian Parties.
  9. The defense of the imperative necessity to construct a democratically-centralized revolutionary International.

This brief overview of our history aimed to demonstrate the central aspects of the long history of our construction showing our achievements, our strengths, and our weaknesses, our deviations, and our crises. As Moreno said, “we move forward through errors and setbacks, and we are not ashamed to say so.” Our close link with the working class and our permanent relationship with the International is what has always allowed us to overcome the errors committed throughout our history. Apart from that, a feature has always been extreme flexibility as far as tactics are concerned and extreme rigidity on issues of principles.

We continue searching for the best way to establish relations with the mass movement, working out our demands and taking into consideration the existing degree of consciousness in order to push forward the mobilization. But at the same time, we never water down our program in the slightest nor do we fear confronting the existing level of consciousness when it is a question of defending a principled policy.

That is why, in spite of all the errors committed, we are proud of our history. Obviously, we do not pretend that all of the IWL-FI militants agree with everything we did over the last fifty years. We come from different backgrounds and, more likely than not, we have different interpretations of many events. Certainly, there will also be differences in some theoretic definitions because events have happened that changed the face of the earth and that are producing great debates within international Marxism. Apart from that, we do not want an International where there is unanimity on everything. We want a centralized organization as far as the central issues of the program are concerned, but it must be a living thing with an open discussion on aspects of theory and policies in order to allow for constant improvement.

Today, after many years of crisis and upheavals, we are living a new reality. We are experiencing a process of strengthening that is placing us in better conditions to push forward this strategic project. We have a history, accumulated experience, a program that we are continuing to construct, a structure for our sections, publications, and a strong base of cadre, who we place at the disposal of the toiling masses to advance towards the reconstruction of the Fourth International.

Today, 40 years after the foundation of the IWL-FI

The pandemic; the world economic crisis; hunger; the refugee crisis; the national liberation war in Ukraine; the workers’ and popular uprisings such as those in Sri Lanka and Iran, those in the US against the assassination of George Floyd; the struggles of women and other oppressed sectors; the return of the so-called “progressive governments” in Latin America; the struggles of women and other oppressed sectors; the growth of the extreme right at world level. Our current context requires that we conclude this brief historical outline reaffirming the definition of the Foundational Theses of the IWL-FI: The fundamental need to solve the problems of humanity is the world socialist revolution and for this the central thing is to overcome the crisis of revolutionary leadership, advancing in the reconstruction of the Fourth International, as political, programmatic, methodological and moral continuity of the Third International led by Lenin and Trotsky.


[1] Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were leaders of the leftwing of the German Social Democracy, which later became known as the Spartacist League. They took a revolutionary position in opposition to WWI on the grounds of it being an imperialist war. Both were killed by the Social Democracy in 1918.

[2] Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov – Lenin – was the main leader of the Bolshevik Party and the Russian Revolution. He was the founder of the 3rd International.

[3] Together with Lenin, Leon Trotsky was a leader of the Russian Revolution. He was the leader of the Russian Red Army and he led the struggle against the bureaucratization of the CP, the 3rd International and the Soviet Union. He was the founder of the 4th International

[4] 1st International – The International Workingmen’s Association, founded by Karl Marx in 1864, uniting workers groups, unions and parties from many countries particularly Europeans.

[5] 2nd International – The Social Democratic World Party founded by Friedrich Engels in 1889. It lost completely its revolutionary character during WWI after supporting the war efforts of each national bourgeoisie.

[6] 3rd International – The World Revolutionary Party was founded by Lenin and Trotsky in 1919. It promoted struggles and Revolutions worldwide but it lost its revolutionary character after its 4th Congress due to Stalinist rule.

[7] 4th International – The World Revolutionary Party founded by Trotsky in 1938. It reclaims the continuity of the 1st, 2nd and the four first congresses of the 3rd International. The Transitional Program was adopted as its program at its founding Congress.

[8] SWP – The Socialist Workers Party. The American section of the Left Opposition and then of the 4th International. Led by James Cannon it was the most consolidated section of the 4th International in its founding. It broke with Trotskyism and the 4th International in the 80s under the leadership of Jack Barnes.

[9] Michel Pablo, Ernest Mandel and Pierre Frank were the main European leaders of the 4th International after WWII.

[10] Juan Posadas was the main ally of Michel Pablo in Latin America. He broke with the 4th International in 1962, founding his own International. Politically, he capitulated to nationalist and reformist groups and leaders.

[11] Guillermo Lora was the main leader of the Bolivian Partido Obrero Revolucionario and one of the leader of the Bolivian Revolution of 1952 when he capitulated, giving critical support to the nationalist bourgeois government.

[12] Pierre Lambert was the leader of the Parti Communiste Internationaliste, the French Section of the Fourth International. In 1953, the PCI joined the International Committee of the 4th International. Critical of the Cuban Revolution, the PCI (renamed Organisation Communiste Internationaliste in 1966) stood together with the Gerry Healy-led Socialist Labour League from 1963 until 1971. His OCI had a brief unification with Nahuel Moreno’s tendency from 1979 until 1981 when his critical support for the Mitterrand government in France led to a split.

[13] Gerry Healy was the leader of the British SLL, renamed Workers Revolutionary Party. In the 80s, the WRP exploded after financial and political links to the Libyan and Iraq governments were revealed, together with denunciations of sexual abuse.

[14] Hugo Blanco later broke politically with the Moreno-led tendency and joined the positions of the American SWP.

[15] The United Secretariat of the 4th International was founded in 1963, after the Mandel-led International Secretariat and the SWP merged. The Moreno-led group joined in 1964 and broke in 1979, after the United Secretariat supported the Sandinistas repression against the membership of the Simon Bolivar Brigade (formed by the FB to fight in Nicaragua). The SWP also broke in the 80s, after formally abandoning Trotskyism.

[16] Ben Bela was the leader of the nationalist FNL that led the Algerian Revolution. After the victorious revolution, he became the prime minister of a bourgeoise government.

[17] The 62 Organizations were 62 trade-unions that fought back the 1955 coup d’etat against the nationalist bourgeois president Juan Perón. They carried out marches, strikes and occupations. Later, they went through a process of bureaucratization under the leadership of Augusto Vandor, the president of the largest union, the metalworkers UOM.

[18] Vasco Bengochea and Roberto Santucho were leading members of the Argentinean Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores – PRT. They broke with Leninism to join guerrilla warfare-efforts inspired by the Cuban Revolution.

[19] Foquismo is a vanguardist strategy inspired by Che Guevara’s experience. It consists in starting a guerrilla warfare foco as a way to spark a revolution.

[20] ERP are the initials of Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo, one of the most important guerrilla groups in Argentina in the 70s, after the Montoneros (a leftwing Peronist guerrilla)

[21] PST – Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores is the organization led by Moreno that emerged in 1973 after the fusion between the PRT – La Verdad and the Juan Coral-led split from the Socialist Party. It’s known to have resisted under harsh military dictatorship (1976-1983), when it had 100 members killed. Afterwards, it became the Movimiento al Socialismo MAS, the Argentinean section of the IWL-FI.

[22] The French LCR is Ligue Communiste Revolutionaire, the largest section of the USec.

[23] The Cordobazo was a mass workers’ and people’s uprising in the city of Cordoba in Argentina in May, 1969 against the dictatorship. It was very influential, leading to the formation of a strong national class struggle-oriented union tendency (tendencia clasista) and increased workers and students alliance-oriented groups on the campuses.

[24] MFA is the Movimento das Forças Armadas, the leading force in the beginning of the Portuguese Revolution. It opposed the independence of the colonies and opposed a socialist perspective.

[25] TLT (Tendencia Leninista Trotskista), which became later a faction inside the USec (FLT), was led by the US SWP and the Argentinean PST to oppose the guerrillaist and vanguardist deviation of the majority of the USec led by Mandel.

[26] The TB (Tendencia Bolchevique), later a faction inside the USec (FB), was led by the Argentinean PST gathering the majority of Latin American Trotskyism.

[27] The Workers League was formed from the “Ponto de Partida” (Starting Point) group by 5 Brazilian activists in exile in Chile in 1972 with a critical evaluation of the “foquismo” tactic of guerrilla warfare in Brazil. Standing for the building of Leninist-type parties, they linked themselves to the 4th International since its formation.

[28] The Socialist Convergence was one of the few Trotskyist groups that survived the entryism in the Brazilian PT. The DS (Socialist Democracy, the USec section) fully capitulated, joining Lula’s bourgeois administration with a minister appointed, and later breaking with the 4th International. The OT (The Labor, Lambertist organization in Brazil) after an initial sectarian approach towards the PT, joined it and capitulated to Lula leadership. In 1986, they lost the majority of their leadership, who broke with the 4th International to join Lula’s group. Currently they have 10% of the strength they used to have in the end of the 70s, when they led a militant and strong student tendency. Their current understanding is that the PT is a “strategic” Party in which they form a fraternal internal tendency. They are supportive of the bourgeois administration of Lula.

[29] The CUT is the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores, the main Labor Federation in Brazil, founded in 1983. Socialist Convergence developed as part of a strong leftwing based mainly in the opposition caucuses, some of which managed to overthrow bureaucratic leaders in important unions like the metalworkers of Belo Horizonte and Sao Jose dos Campos, and the bank workers of Rio de Janeiro.

[30] The Socialist Convergence was expelled from the PT in May 1992 after standing publicly for the immediate overthrow of President Collor de Mello, who was ousted a few months later. In June 1994, together with around 40 regional organizations mainly from the PT, the CS members founded the PSTU (Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado), a 2,000 strong Leninist-type party. A year later, the PSTU became the Brazilian section of the IWL-FI, allowing members of other International organizations to remain in the Party. Even so, 1% of the membership left the Party to form the section of the CWI.

[31] Founded in September of 1977, the Colombian PST became the center of the Moreno’s International tendency inside the USec (Tendencia Bolchevique and then Fracción Bolchevique – Bolshevik Tendency turned into Faction). They played a critical role in diverse areas, among them the critique of guerrillaism, work among industrial workers, the formation of the Internationalist Simon Bolivar Brigade to fight in the Nicaraguan Revolution and the founding of Editorial Pluma – that published the only version in Spanish of Trotsky writings.

[32] The British group led by Bill Hunter, whose militancy in the Trotskyist movement dates back to WWII, comes from the Healyite tradition. His adherence to the IWL-FI was critical as to bringing the strong tradition of the British workers movement to the recently-founded International.

[33] The Malvinas war (also called the Falklands war by the British) happened in 1982 in the southern Atlantic Ocean. A remnant from colonial times, British imperialism wanted to keep this outpost for geopolitical and economic reasons, as prospects showed the presence of oil under their sea bed. The Argentinian dictatorship tried a diversionist maneuver in order to redirect the workers attention from their struggles to war efforts. Ultimately, the British Navy with the support of US imperialism, defeated the much weaker Argentinian forces, whose strength were limited by the military Junta. The PST pushed for a strong campaign demanding the military to provide arms and military training in the workplaces during working hours under workers control, the nationalization of all British and US assets and the call for the TIAR (defense agreement of countries of all Americas to provide support for any member under military attack), among others. As the military did not meet any of these demands, the PST traded its “no confidence in the Dictatorship” gradually to “Down with the Dictatorship”. A year after the defeat, the Dictatorship was overthrown.

[34] Siles Suazo was the bourgeois president of Bolivia from 1982-1985. Facing huge inflation, a lack of reserves and a strong wave of strikes, he suspended the payment of the foreign debt.

[35] The Esquipulas and Contadora agreements were decided in the respective cities in Guatemala and Panama by bourgeois governments with the support of the guerrilla leaders and Fidel Castro in order to disarm the armed resistance and to provide a solution for the revolutionary process in the area through bourgeois democratic institutions.

[36] Democratic Reaction is the name employed in IWL-FI analyses to describe the new preferential policy of US imperialism after their defeat in Vietnam in 1974. Instead of the big stick (military intervention and dictatorships enforcement), the Carter administration talked about Human Rights and preferably used institutions of bourgeois democracy, like electoral processes and agreements/talks, to attract Leftwing leaders to capitulate and to prevent revolutionary processes. Later on, Ronald Reagan resorted to the same instrument, despite more aggressive speeches and threats.

[37] Workers Aid to Bosnia was a campaign led by the Liaison Committee between the Workers International and the IWL-FI. Strongly based on the efforts of the British WRP (WP) and the Spanish PST (IWL-FI section), they organized solidarity to Bosnian workers, under attack by both Serbian and Croatian nationalist armies. On top of building political solidarity, they organized ten convoys carrying primarily food, which were delivered inside Bosnia to the Miners Union of Tuzla during the 3 year war (1993-1996).

[38] Workers International was an International formed in 1990, centered around the British Workers Revolutionary Party (Workers Press,) led by Cliff Slaughter. The WRP, former SLL, came from the Healyite tradition. In 1985, Healy was expelled and the WRP suffered a process of fragmentation. A faction led by Bill Hunter split in 1987 and joined the IWL-FI.

[39] The CITO – Centro Internacional do Trotskysmo Ortodoxo – was formed in 1994, in the midst of the crisis of the IWL-FI. It was a split led by the Colombian PST (historically one of the main sections of IWL-FI) and an important sector of the MAS (the Argentinean section). It gathered support among cadres in many other sections, particularly in Peru and Central America. In 2005, a Liaison Committee was formed between the IWL-FI and the CITO and, in 2008, the CITO was formally reintegrated into the International.

[40] Conlutas is a new militant Labor and People’s Federation formed after the main Brazilian Labor Federation, the CUT, sided with Lula’s administration against the public workers that went on strike for 40 days against the Pension Reform. Its last Congress gathered nearly 2,000 delegates, representing nearly two million workers.

[41] The Mexican POS, the Bolivian MST and the Dominican LST were the official sections of IWL-FI in those countries. Currently, the reorganization of IWL-FI sections in Bolivia and Mexico are under way.

[1]3  FI (International Faction): integrated by the majority of the Spanish PST and by SR from Italy which was part of the IWL; TBI (Tendência Bolchevique Internacional), integrated by the majority of the Colombian PST, the Costa Rican, Honduran and Nicaraguan parties and a sector of the Argentine MAS; New Course, integrated by the leadership of the Argentine MAS, a sector of the Brazilian party, the Venezuelan party, the Uruguayan party, the French LST; TR (Tendência por la Reconstrucción) integrated by the majority of the Brazilian party, the Bolivian party and the Chilean party, and a sector of the Spanish party.