This year is the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Fourth International, a world revolutionary organization that as Trotsky said, represented “the most important work of my life; even more so than 1917, the civil war, or any other”.
By Daniel Sugasti
Why did Trotsky think that the building of the Fourth International, a small organization with around 6,000 members, was the main task of his life?
Because the Stalinist counterrevolution was destroying the heritage of the Russian Revolution and the Third International. It was necessary to build at least the embryo of a world party that would preserve this revolutionary tradition and adopt the new task: a political revolution to overthrow Stalin’s bureaucratic clique and recover the soviet worker state as the vanguard of the world revolution. Although the task was defensive (to sustain the Marxist legacy), at the same time it should serve to educate and prepare new generations of revolutionaries for future confrontations.
Trotsky said, “If our international be still weak in numbers, it is strong in doctrine, program, tradition, in the incomparable tempering of its cadres. Who does not perceive this today, let him in the meantime stand aside. Tomorrow it will become more evident.”
The Fourth was founded in terrible conditions. Besides counterrevolution, there was the Nazi-Fascism ascent in Europe. In this context, Trotsky –who was not even able to participate personally in the foundation Conference – and his followers were brutally slandered and persecuted. Many of them, including Trotsky himself, ended murdered by Stalinism and/or Fascism.
From Trotsky’s Death to the IWL-FI
With Trotsky’s death, the Fourth International received a brutal blow and a long crisis began. The leadership of Pablo and Mandel, pressured by the great prestige of Stalinism after the Nazi-Fascism defeat, capitulated. They oriented the dissolution of the Trotskyist parties within the Stalinist apparatus. They also betrayed the worker revolution in 1952 in Bolivia when they refused to demand the COB to seize power and they granted critical support to the bourgeois MNR government.
In 1953, most Trotskyist, among them Nahuel Moreno, broke with Pablism-Mandelism. From this moment began a process of splits and mergers that did not achieve to stop the disintegration of the Fourth International.
Nahuel Moreno pushed a great battle for the rebuilding of the Fourth International. With this objective, he entered in 1964 to the United Secretariat (USec) led by Mandel.
However, Mandel’s leadership had inherited the Pabloist impressionist analysis, as well as the policy of capitulation to the different “fashions” among the vanguard. Moreno organized first the Tendency and then the Bolshevik Fraction (BF) to fight the subsequent capitulations of the Mandelist majority. First, to the student vanguard that emerged in May 1968, then, to Guevarist Guerrilla, and finally, to bourgeois democracy through concessions to Euro Communism.
The BF split with the USec in 1979, after the USec leadership prohibited building Trotskyist parties in Cuba and Nicaragua, and refused to defend the Simon Bolivar Brigade, which was expelled by Sandinism after fighting the war against Somoza, and part of its members were imprisoned and tortured in Panama.
Therefore, after a failed attempt of international merger with Pierre Lambert’s current, the IWL-FI was founded in 1982, with the forces of the BF and the Latin American sectors that split with Lambertism.
From its founding, the IWL-FI adopted the strategy of rebuilding the Fourth International.
How and with whom to rebuild the Fourth?
The rebuilding of the party of the world socialist revolution is necessary. Without it, there is no possibility of seizing power and beginning the building of world socialism.
We must rebuild the Fourth with the same method it was founded. From deep programmatic, methodological and moral agreements. These must be expressed in practical agreements on how to answer to the main facts of world class struggle.
In this framework, we cannot face this task with those who claim Trotskyism, but have abandoned the program, method and moral of the Fourth and the Third led by Lenin.
We continue to believe, as Trotsky said, that our program could be summarized in four words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Therefore, we cannot face the task of rebuilding it with the current USec, since it became a reformist organization that withdrew the dictatorship of the proletariat from its program, it participated in bourgeois administrations like Lula’s, it pushed the so-called “broad parties”, and it supports all types of reformist expressions, like PODEMOS or Syriza.
Neither is it possible to rebuild it with organizations like the PTS-FT. A few years ago, this organization stood as “extreme left”, but it is now under a clear opportunist and pro-parliament shift. The first signs of this change were expressed in their refusal to support the revolutions in the Arab world against pro-imperialist dictatorships like Gadhafi or Assad. Afterwards, with the electoral success of the FIT (Workers’ Left Front) in Argentina, the PTS went on to prioritize elections and the bourgeois parliamentarian game more and more. In Brazil, its satellite MRT lives demanding to enter the PSOL (a reformist party), besides having joined the campaign in defense of Dilma and Lula, and the PT, with the argument to “fight the coup”. One could say something similar about the PO-FIT in Argentina.
Furthermore, we propose to face this rebuilding task with the new generations of worker and social fighters that are emerging from the struggles. We will seek to reach programmatic, methodological and moral agreements with them independent of their political origin.
Therefore, we say, the rebuilding of the Fourth is not a task limited to Trotskyists.
At the same time, we do not agree with those who make callings of “conferences to rebuild the Fourth”, which end up being party propaganda events more than an actual space for programmatic discussion.
No. The rebuilding of the Fourth will not come from flashing events on weekends. It will come from a merger process based on a rigorous and solid programmatic and theoretical discussion, tested in the specific ground of class struggle.
The IWL-FI, 80 years from the foundation of the Fourth, reaffirms its willingness to contribute with this great task, the most important of all: the rebuilding of the Fourth International as a world, revolutionary, worker, internationalist and democratically centralized party.
 TROTSKY, León. The Transitional Program.