Fails test of Nicaraguan revolution
Sectarians split from Fourth International
By Barry Sheppard
December 28, 1979
The Fifth World Congress sincere unification of the Fourth International, World Party of the Socialist Revolution, was held in Belgium the week of November 17-25.
Delegates representing sections and sympathizing organizations in forty-eight countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania,the Caribbean, and North and South America were present.
A sizable leadership delegation from the American Socialist Workers Party(SWP) participated in the congress discussions and registered a consultative vote.
The SWP is barred from membership in the Fourth International by reactionary legislation in the U.S. Nevertheless, the SWP remains in political solidarity with the Fourth International and does what it can to help politically advance the development of the world Trotskyist movement.
The congress was held in the midst of the deepening crisis of imperialism and of the intensification of the international class struggle exemplified by the unfolding revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua.
Of special note was the presence of delegates from the Iranian SocialistWorkers Party. It was an expression of the geographical extension of the forces of the Fourth International since its last World Congress in 1974, as well as its deepening roots among the toilers
who are more and more prone to revolutionary action.
The congress hailed the overthrow of the imperialist-backed regime of the butcher Somoza by the Nicaraguan people led by the Sandinista NationalLiberation Front (FSLN). The Fourth International pledged to make its central international campaign helping to build the worldwide solidarity movement for aid to Nicaragua and for defense of the revolution against imperialist aggression.
In order to prepare for the major class battles to come, the congress voted to make a radical turn-to place in industrial jobs a large majority of the members of the sections of the international in every country.
It adopted resolutions on the world political situation, on the specific tasks in carrying out this turn and building the Fourth International in Europe and in Latin America, on Nicaragua,and on the struggle for women's liberation.
It discussed the situation in Indochina and decided on an international campaign to defend Hanoi and Pnompenh against the intensified attacks by imperialism. It discussed the relationship of workers democracy and socialist revolution.
An International Executive Committee was elected to lead the work of the Fourth International until the next World Congress.
The delegates who participated in the congress were elected from each national section after extensive democratic debate and discussion, including an international written discussion.They represented the various points of view in the international on the matters under consideration.
Despite the months of discussion and debate, on the very eve of the world gathering two minority factions that had been part of the Fourth International for some time decided to split from the international rather than participate in the congress and try to win a majority of delegates to their views. Together they led approximately 25 to 30 percent of the international.
The two groupings-known as the Bolshevik Faction (BF) and the Leninist Trotskyist Tendency (LTT)-formed an alliance with another group outside the international called the Organizing Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI).
On October 29 the three groups announced the formation of a "parity committee" to organize the fight against the Fourth International, which they claim has embarked on a liquidationist course, abandoned the "terrain of Trotskyism," and gone over to "revisionism."
The test of Nicaragua
The major political issue that provoked the split is the revolution in Nicaragua.
Revolutions not only mark abrupt breaks with the past, they are acid tests for revolutionists everywhere.
The Nicaraguan revolution rapidly divided forces throughout the world claiming to be Trotskyist and revolutionary Marxist into two irreconcilable camps: those who have embraced the Nicaraguan revolution as their own and recognize the revolutionary qualities and achievements of the Sandinistas, versus those who, in sectarian fashion, see the Sandinistas (and the Castroist current in general) as a counterrevolutionary obstacle barring the advance of the Nicaraguan workers and peasants.
The first public act of the "parity committee" definitively established what was driving them. Those who split from the Fourth International did so in order to free their hands to pursue a criminal course of giving aid and comfort to the international campaign of imperialism and capitalist reaction against the Nicaraguan revolution.
On November 13, the three organizations of the "parity committee" held a public meeting in Paris. The theme of this meeting was to denounce the Sandinista National Liberation Front for allegedly carrying out systematic repression of the workers and peasants in Nicaragua, and to attack the Fourth International and the American Socialist Workers Party as being complicit with the repressive acts supposedly organized by the FSLN.
At this meeting, OCRFI representative Stephane Just, who is emerging as the major spokesperson for the "parity committee," said:
It is clear that supporting the Government of National Reconstruction (in Nicaragua), approving of the repression of the Simon Bolivar Brigade, demanding that everyone in the workers movement subordinate themselves to the Sandinist leadership, is revisionism. It leads to supporting the repression of Trotskyism. It leads the leadership of the SWP to approve the policies of Castro, who preaches peaceful coexistence.... which is synonymous with the Holy Counterrevolutionary Alliance. . . .
This leads to measures whose goal is the liquidation of those tendencies and factions inside the United Secretariat [of the Fourth International] that do not accept this policy.
[Informations Ouurieres, November 17-24. Ellipses in original.)
The picture of Nicaragua as a country ruled through repression of the toiling masses and brutal victimization, even torture, of revolutionary fighters, is a complete and utter falsification.
To claim to launch a "solidarity" campaign with the Nicaraguan revolution on this theme only reveals the sectarian and factional blindness, with deadly right-wing consequences, that motivates the "parity committee."
This is made even clearer by the refusal of the groups supporting the "parity committee" to join the international solidarity campaign with Nicaragua.
Their spurious contention is that giving aid to the Nicaraguan government is only aiding a "bourgeois" government, and that the imperialist countries will use any aid they give to attempt to block the progress of the revolution.
By this twisted logic, they come out against demanding that aid be sent to Nicaragua!
While a sectarian reaction to the forward march of the Nicaraguan revolution brought together the forces now calling themselves the "parity committee," that was not their only mutual attraction. They share a common aversion for the decision of the World Congress to continue and deepen the proletarian orientation of the Fourth International to radically reorienting the membership of the international and transforming its composition through sending the overwhelming majority of its members into basic industry.
In addition, both the Bolshevik Factionand the OCRFI have long histories of organizational practices diametrically opposed to the norms of democratic centralism-nationally and internationally.
In practice they reject the fight to simultaneously build proletarian parties firmly rooted in the living class struggle of their own countries and a mass revolutionary international based on a Marxist program and Leninist organizational norms.
To understand the issues involved in the split more clearly, it is necessary to briefly review the history of the Bolshevik Faction and the Leninist Trotskyist Tendency, as well as the Organizing Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International.
The Bolshevik Faction
The Bolshevik Faction is an international grouping whose main strength is in Latin America. Its central leader is Nahuel Moreno of the Argentine Socialist Workers Party (PST).
The Argentine party has for many years been the strongest Trotskyist organization in Latin America, with a continuity that goes back to the late1940s. Its recent evolution can only be understood in light of the deepgoing political differences in the Fourth International during the last decade.
At the 1969 World Congress of the Fourth International, a majority voted for a line projecting rural guerrilla warfare on a continental scale as a strategy in Latin America for an extended period. A minority, supported by the American SWP, strongly opposed this line.
The Argentine section had already been split by this political difference, with the two groups known by the names of their newspapers Combatiente (Fighter) and Verdad (Truth).
The Verdad group, led by Moreno, supported the minority position at the1969 congress. The Combatiente group supported the majority position, and went on to organize the Argentine Revolutionary Army of the People(ERP), led by Roberto Santucho, which became famous for its spectacular actions by small armed groups in the cities.
The Combatiente group left the Fourth International in 1973. In spite of the courage of its leaders and members, its guerrilla strategy led it to increased isolation from the Argentine masses.
The military relentlessly hunted down and brutally murdered the ERP cadres, including Santucho himself in1976.
The Verdad group took the opposite road of working to build a party, along the lines of the Leninist strategy. In the early 1970s, massive struggles against the dictatorship erupted in Argentina, including semi-insurrectionary struggles in Cordoba and other cities. As a result, the military decided to allow the return of bourgeois populist figure Juan Peron, and to hold elections.
The Verdad group was able to intervene effectively in this new situation.Through taking advantage of the openings created by the elections and the combativity of the working class, they built the PST and gained an important hearing and new members from among the workers.
Debate in international
The debate in the international begun in 1969 proved to be long and deep.
The majority and minority currents crystallized into two factions by 1973, called the International Majority Tendency (IMT) and the Leninist Trotskyist Faction (LTF) respectively.
As the strongest organization in Latin America that refused to go along with the guerrilla line, the PST was the main target of the majority faction. Despite the fact that the Combatiente group had broken with Trotskyism, at the 1974 World Congress the majority refused to recognize the PST as the Argentine section. Nor did it reverse the 1969 line on guerrilla warfare, despite the growing doubts of many IMT supporters. As a result, the faction struggle within the international deepened.
Following the 1974 World Congress, Moreno decided that the course charted by the LTF of fighting within the international to reverse and rescind the guerrilla line was insufficient. But the majority of the LTF, including most of its Latin American supporters, rejected his proposal to form a "public faction" which would have been a separate international organization, in reality, with its own structuring, finances and discipline, contrary to all the norms of democratic centralism and the program of the Fourth International.
Break from LTF
In 1975 Moreno decided to break with the LTF and implement his own preferred course.
The first step in this process was a drive to take over the Mexican Socialist League (LS), a sympathizing organization of the Fourth International.
In order to accomplish this, he had to get rid of a majority of the leaders of the LS, who supported the LTF and rejected Moreno's line.
Through a campaign of personal vilification, he tried to isolate, demoralize, and destroy a whole group of cadres, and purge the membership of the LS.
This campaign was organized by leaders of the Argentine PST, whom Moreno had sent to Mexico to "aid" the LS. The result was a split, with Moreno "capturing" a section of the organization. As a result of this operation, the LTF expelled from its ranks the PST leaders responsible for such gross violations of the organizational principles of Trotskyism.
Within a few months, a similar operation was carried out in Portugal. In the unfolding revolution there, Argentine comrades were sent to help the Portuguese Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT).
But when some of the original leaders of the PRT disagreed with Moreno's views and organizational methods, Moreno again organized a violent campaign of personal charges against those involved, and had them expelled.
Two aspects of the Portuguese operation were to more and more mark Moreno's subsequent course.The Portuguese PRT was a relatively small group, largely composed of high-school-age youth inspired by the revolution.
Moreno played on their spirit of self-sacrifice and enthusiasm, demanding not only unquestioning agreement with every twist and turn, but also a level of hyperactivity, including a frantic search for funds, that finally demoralized many of them.
The rationale for this was Moreno's conception that if only the PRT could
find enough money, sell enough papers, etc., it could grow to "10,000 members" within a year. No attempt was made to build stable party units among the industrial workers.
Tactics dictated from afar
Second, Moreno himself, from afar or during short visits to Portugal, laid down the tactics for building the PRT, even to the smallest details.
Members of the PRT who resisted such methods were told that while in general it was wrong for leaders of one section to try to run another section, Moreno was the "Lenin of our time," and was qualified to decide tactics for all countries, above all, in revolutions. During the four years between his break with the LTF and his split from the international, the same kind of destructive splitting operation was carried out in several other countries,including Colombia, Peru and Panama.
The Bolshevik Faction became more and more openly contemptuous of the Fourth International and its democratic norms. The "Lenin of our time" became more and more the object of a cult.
According to Bolshevik Faction documents, some get-rich-quick scheme was always on the verge of success, in Spain or elsewhere. The Bolshevik Faction was going to achieve some spectacular breakthrough somewhere, which would then "prove" to the rest of the international the superiority of Moreno's methods and the necessity of him becoming the central leader of the Fourth International.
As the Bolshevik Faction degenerated into such a personal cult, Moreno was compelled to launch increasingly violent public attacks on other leaders of the international. Ernest Mandel was singled out, as was the leadership of the French LCR.
Another special target became the leaders of the American Socialist Workers Party, especially since Moreno had previously claimed to stand in the tradition of James P. Cannon and other pioneer leaders of the SWP.
At the end of 1976 the majority faction reassessed its line on guerrilla warfare in Latin America and adopted a self-critical balance sheet.
Among other points, the IMT stated it had been wrong to refuse to recognize the PST as the Argentine section in 1974, and indicated that this should be corrected at the coming World Congress.
The Leninist Trotskyist Faction and the International Majority Tendency were dissolved and the leadership of the international worked together to prepare major political resolutions for the 1979 World Congress.
The United Secretariat repeatedly urged the leaders of the Bolshevik Faction to participate in the work of the bureau and the international center. But they neither participated in this process nor did they prepare their own resolutions on the political points to be decided on by the congress.
Simon Bolivar Brigade
Then, in the summer of 1979, Moreno launched another "spectacular" get-rich-quick campaign. The Simon Bolivar Brigade was formed in Colombia, ostensibly to go to Nicaragua and fight with the Sandinista National Liberation Front against Somoza. But the entire operation was simply a cynical attempt to exploit the Nicaraguan revolution.
In their own internal bulletins, the ranks of the Bolshevik Faction were told that the formation of the Simon Bolivar Brigade would be "a big political success for the leadership of the BF, legitimatizing it as a real leadership alternative for the Fl."
From the beginning, Moreno organized the Simon Bolivar Brigade to advance his factional interests vis-a-vis the Fourth International, and not to aid the Nicaraguan workers and peasants. The object was to enhance Moreno's prestige. It represented a qualitative newstage in the degeneration of the Bolshevik Faction.
The Simon Bolivar Brigade covered itself with the flag of the FSLN event though it was not organized in collaboration with the FSLN. It raised money in the name of the FSLN, which the FSLN never saw. As a unit, it entered Nicaragua from Costa Rica only after the fall of Somoza.
Once in Nicaragua, the brigade, still fraudulently claiming the authority of the FSLN, tried to set up unions under its control, and even tried to take over the town of Bluefields on the Atlantic Coast.
In spite of the fact that the brigade presented itself as a military unit of the FSLN, and remained armed, it refused to place itself under FSLN military command.
After attempting, unsuccessfully, to negotiate with the leaders of the Simon Bolivar Brigade, who were almost all non-Nicaraguans, in August 1979, only a few weeks after the fall of Somoza, the FSLN command decided to deport them from the country.
The criminal, sectarian adventure of the Simon Bolivar Brigade disgraced Trotskyism in Nicaragua and internationally, although it was done behind the backs and against the policy of the Fourth International.
In September the United Secretariat of the Fourth International publicly called the Bolshevik Faction to order for this flagrant and damaging violation of its discipline, and recommended that further disciplinary action be taken against the leadership of the Bolshevik Faction by the World Congress unless they agreed to change their course.
Moreno's latest scheme of coming to the World Congress with the prestige of the Nicaraguan revolution and the FSLN behind him was in shambles. In order to explain what had happened, Moreno abruptly reversed his political line 180 degrees.
From opportunistically pretending to be the FSLN, he switched to charging that the FSLN had deported the leaders of the Simon Bolivar Brigade as part of its counterrevolutionary drive to consolidate a bourgeois government and rebuild capitalism in Nicaragua. This set the stage politically for the bloc between the Bolshevik Faction, the LTT, and OCRFI.
The Leninist Trotskyist Tendency
The Leninist Trotskyist Tendency had its main forces in the French section of the Fourth International, the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), where it had some 350 to 400 supporters.
The central leaders of the LTT had joined the LTF in 1976.
When the leadership of the International Majority Tendency reversed their former line on Latin America, and both factions voted to dissolve, there was resistance to this within both formations.
In the LTF, a group of comrades opposed the dissolution outright. This group included the leaders of what would become the LTT. The LTT viewed the dissolution of the factions as a political capitulation by the majority of the LTF, especially the leaders of the American SWP, to the former IMT.
They wanted to cling to the factions even though the political basis on which they had been formed no longer existed. This sectarian stance towards the former IMT prefigured the subsequent evolution of the LTT.
The dissolution of the factions had important positive results in reknitting the international after the long faction struggle. Not the least of these results was the preparation by the majority of the United Secretariat of the four main resolutions adopted by the World Congress. These resolutions reflected important areas of agreement. Not all differences were overcome. Some new differences emerged, cutting across previous factionclines. Some subjects remain open for further discussion. But the major achievement represented by these documents is undeniable. (The documents of the 1979 World Congress will be available shortly in a special supplement to Intercontinental Press/ lnprecor.) The leaders of the LTT, however, maintained their stance, charging that these resolutions covered up what they considered to be the key "differences."
Their sterile sectarianism began to be reflected more and more in their overall political positions, especially in their assessment of the Cuban revolution and the role of the Castro leadership. Since the American SWP recently conducted a lengthy internal discussion on Cuba and rejected any concept that the Castro leadership is Stalinist or a political revolution is necessary in Cuba, thus reaffirming what has been the long-standing Trotskyist position on Cuba, the LTT began to center more of its fire on the SWP.
This chronic sectarianism on the part of the LTT leaders broke out into a virulent disease with the Sandinista triumph in Nicaragua. They knew the Sandinistas would have to betray the revolution, because they were strongly influenced by the Castro leadership.When the majority in the Fourth International took a different course, hailed the revolution, greeted the Sandinistasa s fellow revolutionists, sought to reach out to them, and joined the international solidarity effort with the revolution, the LTT went into paroxysm of factional fever. They charged the majority in general and the SWP in particular with having betrayed Trotskyism.
Another major rallying point for the LTT was opposition to the central organizational conclusion flowing from the facts and analysis explained in the world political resolution.This projected the necessity for our movement on a world scale to immediately send the cadres recruited in the previous period into basic industry, as a precondition for our movement to survive as a politically viable force in the workers movement during the period ahead.
It is the only way to take advantage of the new openings that are now before us to overcome the historically imposed isolation of Trotskyism from the mainstream of our class.The LTT rejected the necessity of making this kind of wrenching turn, a forced march to change the composition of our forces in order to be able to lead the working class in the battles that are on the agenda.
The LTT reflected a tendency in our ranks which became comfortable with the isolation of revolutionary Marxism after the triumph of Stalinism in the1930s and during the long years following World War II.
Far from viewing our isolation as an evil we had to endure-but one we were always seeking to break out of-this tendency attracted people who prefer to comment from the sidelines rather than immerse themselves in the class struggle itself. This is one of the roots of their pious sectarianism, as they are content to sit above the fray, "criticizing" all.
The Bolshevik Faction, too, opposed the projected turn to send the majority of our leaders and members into the factories, but for different reasons.The Argentine PST has always hada n important base in the workers movement. For many years it was the most proletarian section of the international, in terms of composition, and regularly sent cadres recruited from the student movement into the factories and mills to take advantage of political openings. This was always one of its strengths.
But supporting the turn in the international would have run counter to the factional interests of the BF, as one of its claims has been that it alone represents the proletarian current in the internaional.
Moreover, in recent years, in organizations dominated by the Bolshevik Faction, it has become increasingly common to send members into industry as a form of punishment for disagreeing with Moreno's line - not as a party-building activity.
Moreno's concept of "bolshevizing"or "proletarianizing" those guilty of petty-bourgeois origins is the opposite of the political turn decided on by the majority of the delegates at the 1979 World Congress.
In 1963, a ten-year split in the world Trotskyist movement was healed. Certain sections of the movement rejected the reunification, however, including the current led by Juan Posadas in Latin America; Michel Pablo and his followers internationally; a grouping in Britain around Gerry Healy; and the French organization whose principal spokesman was Pierre Lambert. One of the factors which brought the two sides together in the reunification was a common political attitude towards the Cuban revolution.
Healy and Lambert, however, denied that a socialist revolution had occurred in Cuba at all. They charged that the majority of world Trotskyism had abandoned its principles by supporting the revolutionary anti-imperialist actions of the Castro leadership team.They refused to chart a course of trying to link up with this revolutionary current that was bypassing Stalinism to the left. But that was part and parcel of our defense of the first successful socialist revolution in the Americas. It was the only possible road to building a mass revolutionary international.
For the remainder of the 1960s, Healy's "International Committee," supported by the French Internationalist Communist Organization (OCI), headed by Lambert, attempted to build a counter organization to the Fourth International.
In the early 1970s, as Healy's course in Britain became more and more sectarian and opportunist, Lambert's organization broke with Healy. The Lambert group, following the split with Healy, formed the Organizing Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International, with affiliates in a number of countries. The most important group in the OCRFI is the French OCI. They began to take a less sectarian stance toward the Fourth International.
Discussion with OCRFI
In 1973, the OCRFI approached the Fourth International for discussions, stating that the debate inside the Fourth International involved the questions they felt were not clarified in the 1963 reunification.
Unfortunately, the factional situationin the Fourth International at the time blocked a positive response to this initiative and valuable time was lost. By 1976, however, this began to be turned around. There were more contacts and exchanges between the Fourth International and the OCRFI. Then in 1978, at a public meeting in Paris celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Fourth International, spokespeople for both sides stated that the goal of discussions between them should be a fusion (which the OCRFI said it would consider a "reconstruction" of the Fourth International).
Both sides agreed to hold a series of informal leadership discussions based on the documents prepared for the upcoming World Congress. These discussions proceeded to the point where on many of the major questions of world politics, there were broad areas of agreement.
An important exception remained Cuba. Stephane Just, one of the leaders of the OCI, had written an article that at least belatedly recognized capitalism had been overthrown in Cuba and a workers state established. But at the same time he equated Castroism with Stalinism and called for a "political revolution" to overthrow the Castro leadership. This position is diametrically opposed to that of the Fourth International.
When the mass upsurge in Nicaragua toppled Somoza, the OCI's reaction was an unfortunate repetition of their response twenty years ago to the Cuban revolution.
Turned fire on FSLN
Instead of recognizing the achievement of the Sandinistas in leading the masses in the insurrection that overthrew Somoza, and correctly assessing the steps they have taken since to advance the interests of the Nicaraguan workers and peasants, the OCI leaders have turned their fire against the FSLN, charging it with being the main counterrevolutionary force in the country.
The sectarian position taken by the main forces in the OCRFI towards the Castro leadership and the Nicaraguan revolution prepared the way for their political bloc with the Bolshevik Faction and the LTT.
Leaders of the OCRFI, including Just, had also expressed opposition to the proposed turn to industry projected by the Fourth International majority. The party-building activity up to now has generally included work to build union fractions, but not mainly industrial union fractions, and not through orienting party members and leaders themselves to become part of the industrial working class.
Their concentration in nonindustrial jobs and unions such as teachers, is another variant of trying to build proletarian parties from outside the major sections of the workingclass.
Under the impact of Nicaragua and the increasingly weighty role of the Castro leadership in anti-imperialist struggles around the world, the OCRFI abruptly reversed its course toward fusion. While there were signs of some internal resistance to the new course in the OCRFI, a majority opted to work toward splitting the Fourth International instead of fusing with it.
On the basis of the charge that the Fourth International had abandoned the "terrain of Trotskyism" in responding to the Nicaraguan revolution and charting a course toward influencing and winning its leadership to revolutionary Marxism, the OCRFI formed the "parity committee" with the BF and LTT, and helped organize the split of the latter two groups from the international.
They have now called for an open conference of the world Trotskyist movement to discuss Nicaragua. They have coyly announced that they hold open the door for participation by the Fourth International-from which they have just split in order to avoid taking part in a world congress that would discuss Nicaragua!
Some undemocratic practices
The abrupt turn away from a fusion perspective with the Fourth International will mean cutting short another process that had begun in the OCI, that of beginning to correct undemocratic aspects of their own internal functioning. An element of this came to light, earlier this year when the OCI expelled one of its central leaders, Charles Berg.
Berg was in charge of liason with OCI units outside of Paris ("the provinces," as they say in Paris). The OCI has the undemocratic practice of appointing local leaderships from Paris, not allowing each unit to elect its own leadership.
Berg headed the commission that made the appointments. He was charged with falsifying the membership figures of these "provincial" units in order to enhance his own prestige and influence at an OCI congress, and with having diverted rather large sums of party funds for his own use and to further the work of his commission.The Berg affair initiated a discussion in the OCI concerning democratic norms.
Obviously, something was wrong if an individual like Berg could have gotten away with such corrupt measures for any considerable time. Wasn't the absence of rank-and-file control the source of the problem? The leaders of the OCI knew that a fusion with the Fourth International would necessarily entail a modification of their organizational practices to ensure party democracy.
Unfortunately, the turn away from the Fourth International will probably mean a hardening up of these practices by the OCI, which will be encouraged by their renewed sectarianism.
Split or expulsion?
Following their exit from the Fourth International, the LTT and BF have charged that they were in fact expelled by decisions taken by the United Secretariat. The decisions referred to were motions by the United Secretariat at a meeting in early October. They concerned the functioning of supporters of the Fourth International in Nicaragua. A small grouping in Nicaragua called the Revolutionary Marxist League (LMR) generally supports the views of the Bolshevik Faction. Another tiny group in Nicaragua was organized by the Socialist Workers Organization (OST) of Costa Rica, whose leaders support the LTT. Neither of these two groups had ever been recognized by the Fourth International, which has no section in Nicaragua. However, they each projected the line of the BF and LTT respectively, and falsely used the name of the Fourth International.
The United Secretariat decided that the Bolshevik Faction had to withdraw its Simon Bolivar Brigade and cease and desist from all other undisciplined operations in Nicaragua.
In view of the need for the real views of the Fourth International to be made known in Nicaragua, the United Secretariat also decided that all supporters of the Fourth International in Nicaragua should function in collaboration with the United Secretariat on the basis of its line.
These decisions in no way amounted to expulsions. The LTT and BF - with the advice of the OCRFI - decided to seize upon these decisions as a justification for their split.
They turned their backs on the Fourth International and walked away. They did not even come to the World Congress to challenge the United Secretariat decisions they opposed, let alone to present their own political positions.
Both the LTT and the BF had full rights to present their views on all questions, in the long discussion within the international that preceeded the World Congress and at the World Congress itself.
Contempt for membership
Their split right on the eve of the congress indicated their contempt for the membership of the sections of the international and for their democratic decisions. In practice they abandoned one of the most basic elements of Trotskyism, the need to build a revolutionary Marxist international.
The charge that they were "expelled" does not square with the facts or with their refusal to attend the World Congress. It is also contradicted by their own explanation for the split-the need for a "parity committee" to organize to combat the political positions of the Fourth International.
They can't have it both ways - either they left the Fourth International in order to fight against it, or they were unjustly driven out and really want to remain part of the international.
Turn to industry & Nicaragua
Responding to the unfolding revolution in Nicaragua and sending the majority of the leaders and members of the Fourth International into industry are not unrelated questions. Both have to do with how to build proletarian parties and a mass revolutionary international in the concrete situation before us.
The turn is a necessary tactical step which the Fourth International can now take--and therefore must take. Once it is done, our organization will be rooted in the decisive sectors of the working class, which is the "normal" place for us to be to build Leninist parties.
It will not in and of itself solve any. political problems, but will correct an abnormal situation.
It is one thing to be forced into isolation by circumstances beyond our control. It is another to choose isolation when these circumstances no longer exist. That is a surefire formula for a sectarian and petty-bourgeois existence that will mean the death of any revolutionary organization. In the past decade, Trotskyist forces on a world scale broke out of their political isolation to a certain extent through their leadership role in the youth radicalization. This also brought them valuable cadres. Now the opportunity and task is to build on those gains to physically place our organizations in the industrial working class where we belong.
For years, the forces of the Fourth International defended the program of Lenin against the Stalinist degeneration. With the victory of the Cuban revolution, a leadership emerged that could best be described as revolutionists of action. In spite of their theoretical and programmatic weakness, they bypassed Stalinism and Social Democracy in struggle.
There is a chance that the Sandinistas are going to successfully follow the same road as the Cubans. Their actions so far are all to their credit. We will see other such forces emerge, including some who will not measureup to the historic tasks of the proletariat, like the left wing of the Algerian fighters who overthrew French rule in the early 1960s.
But if the Fourth International is not to be a sect, and if a mass revolutionary international is ever to be rebuilt, we must constantly strive to find our way to such revolutionists of action in the advanced capitalist countries as well as the semicolonial world.
Driven by frenzied opposition to the course taken by the majority of the International, unable to come up with cogent alternatives, the LTT and BF left the Fourth International. In doing so, they have begun to move away from the living forces of proletarian revolution and to abandon the construction of parties capable of leading the struggle of the toiling masses against the exploiters on a world scale to victory.
THE MILITANT DECEMBER 28, 1979