Contribution to the international commitee of the Fourth international - February 2015

Pierre Rousset's contribution managed to launch the discussion. But its main problem is that beyond its fight against campism, it operates an important reorientation. We do not deny the difficulties of the period but we try to see, above everything else, what are the positive elements for the actualization of a revolutionary strategy.

In this situation, the main element is the capitalist system's instability. The bourgeoisie still doesn't manage to solve the crisis, and imperialist wars still lose. Of course, all this happens in an unfavorable relation of strength for our class. But we must be able to analyze and to take into account what is new, particularly in the existing struggles. It is obvious for all that the situation today is less unfavorable for the revolutionnary than in the late 80's or early 90's. 

François Sabado often writes that even though there are struggles, there isn't any growth of the workers' movement. And our priority task should be to analyze these struggles, their potential and their limits, and most importantly how we can have an intervention in them and manage to play a role. So the issue of our implementation within the working class is decisive. We must also be able to study the successes where they exist or even the growth phenomenons of the workers' movement or the revolutionnary left, because there are some too, we'll come back to it (struggles around wages in China or in the US, electoral results for the revolutionnaries in Seattle, or with the FIT in Argentina ...). Analysing all these positive elements is an essencial task for the revolutionnaries that we are, even if for the most part, our international doesn't directly participate in them. 

The World Congress must be useful in order to deepen our analysis of the situation and the tasks that follow. It's important for this IC meeting to launch the next World Congress' process, and to include within its agenda, and within the redaction of the texts, all the political issues expressed in the debate and in the various contributions of this international comity (IC) meeting.

1/ Our attitude towards Syriza's government, 
the issue of the « anti-austerity government »

Syriza's electoral victory rests on the struggles of the previous years. But noticing it doesn't constitute in itself a revolutionary policy towards the new situation in Greece. As a matter of fact, the greek government already faces a decisive problem : how to finance its first measures (positive but very limited), given that the State's coffers are empty.

From the start, Syriza's leadership followed a strategy of « negociation » about the debt, refusing any « unilateral decision » to refuse payment, even temporarily, which gives the key of the situation to the Troika. The Greek State's debt mostly belongs to european and international institutions, and not to banks. So any threat on the Greek debt would have an immediat impact on the finances of the main european States. That's why Angela Merkel and the European Commission are holding a position to refuse any negociation. On the other hand, Obama and some sectors of the european bourgeoisie are in favor of a renegociation. The scenario of a possible Greek exit from the Euro worries them : this hypothesis would open an unpredictable situation, that could slip from their hands. The other possibility, the only one that Tsipras seriously considers, is an agreement where Greece would obtain more flexible conditions to pay back the debt. Syriza tries explicitly to preserve the European Union and the Euro, in a perspective to humanize capitalism. The alliance with the Independent Greeks happens on a background of nationalist and pro-russian political positions, shared with Syriza's leadership, but more deeply, the choice of an alliance with this bourgeois current underlines the class collaboration charateristics of this government, and the political choice to respect the framework of capitalist instititions. Winning time and obtaining some slack from the dominant sectors of the european bourgeoisie, excluding any proper intervention by the Greek masses, here's Tsipras' policy.

Syriza's government : a first step towards the anticapitalist breakthrough ?

François Sabado presents Syriza's experience (as well as Podemos' experience) as a new configuration for the workers' movement, a new reformism different from the previous, that may embody a political outcome for the struggles at the governmental level. So much for novelty : it's the same logics that was developped about the Brazilian PT or the Italian PRC, or more recently when the same talked about the absence of a credible political outcome as the main obstacle for the working class' struggles.

Since 2012, the majority of the Fourth international (FI) advocates the hypothesis of « anti-austerity governments » as the mean to start the overcoming of capitalism. After Mitterand, Lula and so many other experiences of « left » governments that disapointed the hopes of our class, we must not repeat the same mistakes : clinging to « anti-austerity governments » is a shortcut that doesn't bring us closer to socialism. Chavism's trajectory reminds us that every process of popular mobilization that doesn't end up in confronting private property, ends up retreating and giving up space to the counter-revolution.

Syrisa must not be presented as a model for party building, nor should the anti-austerity governments be presented as a goal to reach.
On the contrary, revolutionnaries must fight the illusions that may exist, by bringing up the necessary programatic measures that this government should take : cancellation of the debt, requisition of the banks...

And obviously by raising up the debate on the strategy to manage and implement such a program : direct intervention of the workers in struggle. Only through the independent mobilization of Greek and European workers can the situation be overturned. This confrontation with reformist politics is necessary at this step.

It's difficult to foresee the evolution of the situation in Greece. However, we must remain lucid on a few key points. To make a things even a little better for the working class in Greece, it's impossible to avoid the cancellation of the debt and the confrontation with the European Union and the Troika. In order to face the inevitable retaliations, how to avoid the requisition of the banks and the key sectors of the economy ? In these conditions, having an anticapitalist program is not a luxury, but a necessity to defend the most basic interests of our social camp.

We cannot dismiss a scenario where the great powers, the European union (EU), the Troika, the greek right wing or far right would try and attack the actual government in order to gag the workers. In this situation, revolutionnaries couldn't remain neutral, the workers would have to defend this government, with their own methods and in full independence. But it's not the most likely scenario right now. In a moment when the Left Current in Syriza participates in the government, a full independence towards the government is a necessity for the revolutionnaries.

Nurturing illusions about what the government would be capable of, is the shortest way to deceptions, that would open the way to the right and the far right.

2/ We can... build revolutionnary parties

Building political organizations capable of facing this kind of situations, of feeding the mobilizations of the workers and the oppressed in an independent manner, is simply decisive. The revolutionnary processes South of the Mediterrenean didn't end up in the overthrowing of capitalism, and one of the reasons is the absence of revolutionnary partie capable of influencing these processes. When the eplosion comes, it's too late : one has to start building a revolutionnary party before the situation becomes revolutionnary... In situations of inevitable social explosions or even revolutionnary processes like the ones that happened South of the Mediterrenean, it's possible for revolutionnary currents to strengthen, to win a significative audience and to become a factor that counts in the situation, on the condition of leading an offensive class independence politics. In some regions of the world, in different conditions each time and without idealizing these experiences, anticapitalist or revolutionnary activists lead politics that prove that anticapitalist and revolutionnary ideas can break through. In Argentina, the electoral success of the FIT and the influence of the far left goes in this direction. In South Africa, the rupture of the metal workers' union NUMSA's leadership, and its stance in favor of an anticapitalist workers party opposed to the ANC meets a significative response within the south African masses. Even in the US, the example of K. Sawant showed that revolutionnaries could lead a militant campaign.

Does that mean that revolutionnaries must systematically abstain from any participation in « broad parties » ? That is not the problem. Presenting broad parties as the goal to reach leads us unavoidably towards a policy of adaptation to these parties' leaderships, and makes us unable to play an independant role in decisive moments. The case of Podemos is telling : the formation of this new political force was the expression of a sector of the popular classes of the Spanish State breaking with the regime that comes from the Transition, and it represented a step forward. But Iglesias engaged very quickly in a process to take contol of the organization. In the absence of an independant politics by the revolutionnaries within Podemos, the way was clear for Iglesias and his gang to tranform Podemos in a bureaucratic electoralist machine. 

Comrades from the majority of IA intervene publicly about the necessary « democratic revolution »... making their political profile virtually impossible to differenciate fom that of Podemos' leadership. Leading organized battles on several programmatic key issues, within anticapitalist organizations and regroupments in which we may participate, is simply decisive if the goal we set is building revolutionnary parties. Keeping this strategic goal is a necessary compass. It's also necessary if we don't want to loose any landmark on issues of workers democracy. 

The expulsion of Anticapitalistas' minority, which represents 20% of the delegates at the last conference, without any respect for the internal statutes nor for the right of the minorities, shows how far this drift can go. And how credible can one be in advocating internal democracy within Podemos, when one is unable to apply it in our own organization ? 

Participation in a « broad party » can be a tactics in order to win sectors of our class to a revolutionnary program, but in certainly cannot be a strategic horizon.

3/ Linking the refusal of imperialist intervention 
and the unconditionnal support to peoples

The situation in Kurdistan is a good example : we are in full solidarity with the Kurdish people, for its right to life and self-determination. It is unconditionnal : for this, we don't need to idealize their organizations or what is done in Rojava in any way in order to differenciate it with ISIS. But on the other hand, it doesn't allow us to minimize in anyway imperialism's responsability, nor the extent of it's immediate implication and its harmful role.

The reponsability of imperialism

The difficulties of US imperialism are obvious : the failure of its former attempt to reorganize the Middle-East ; the chaos situation made worse by all the maneuvers aimed at limiting the consequences of the Arab revolutions ; the very relative control over their allies in the area, who play their own part more and more, with their own rivalries, to the point of playing with fire and leading to inextricable situations. And there's also probably the lesser concern of the US for that region, as huge potentialities of fracking are getting confirmed, which could modify substancially the energy issues between the great powers in the years to come. And the rivalries between imperialisms shouldn't be underestimated.

But the necessity to condemn imperialism's intervention first of all, wherever, and whatever the conjonctural conditions, comes fondamentally from two aspects :
  • the capitalist world is still structured and organised by imperialism, whose interests are never bound by any commitment to any people, even if it can choose to support such or such struggle, ponctually, with its own methods and its own goals.
  • This war will last years. It's a quagmire, and there's a reason why the US in particular engaged unwillingly. Right now and in a very limited way, imperialism chose to limit the power of ISIS, without any long term alternative, by supporting some kurdish factions and not others. It is important on the ground, especially for the Kurds. But which nail should we hit first, in order to have landmarks on a longer term ? The human catastrophy that Kobane's Kurds experienced mustn't lead us to lose any lucidity about the situation in its globality.
Solidarity and defense of the Kurdish people

Criticizing imperialism and saying nothing more would undoubtedly be a mistake. Let's also add that our solidarity is not only abstract or propagandistic : in particular, we demand the lifting of the border limitations in order to welcome the refugees. This is a lot more within our reach than telling imperialism what it should do : sending weapons but not bombs.

This the second aspect : to make believe that the only real solidarity with the Kurdish people at this stage would be for us to demand from our imperialism weapons that it only wants to give to some Kurdish organizations so far, and not to others (more precisely to the PKK, because it has been giving weapons to Barzani and others for a long time). That the PKK and its allies would ask for such weapons is their right, and we will definitly not criticize it in the current situation, whatever we think of the PKK's politics, whose strategic goal and probable result are not necessarily different from that of Barzani. But in France, facing our own imperialism, it's not up to us to spread illusions on the idea of weapons not bombs. And that's exactly what happened to the Red Green Alliance Mps, including FI members, who voted in favor of war credits in Parliament under the assumption that it would allow to send weapons, but who very quickly found themselves facing the second stage, and the only really important one for the Danish government, or the others : sending danish F-16 to bomb Irak alongside US and France.

Being in solidarity with the Kurdish people doesn't mean forgetting about the central responsability of imperialism in the development of reactionnay currents like ISIS, and in the situation lived by the peoples of the region. Without denying that these reactionnary currents also have their own logics and autonomy. So we had to and have to participate in the demonstrations in defense of the Kurdish people, linking this unconditionnal defense with our unambiguous refusal of the imperialist intervention. That's why we do not sign demonstration appeals that ask our government to give weapons to the Kurds. Let's not spread the illusion that our bourgeoisie could defend the people of the region.

4/ Our proposals for the Fourth international
Regrouping revolutionnaries at the international level should be part of the goals we discuss within the FI. Building a revolutionnary international capable of having a significative influence will not be achieved only through the strengthening of our organization : the FI could propose to the other national or international revolutionnary groups to launch discussions concerning our answers to the capitalist crisis, common campaigns, or the kind of organizations we want to build.

Right away, the FI must strengthen its own intervention capacity within the working class and the youth. Having a framework for analysis and general discussions is one thing, managing to have an internationnaly coordinated capacity of political intervention is something else. We propose an international conference on labour intervention, in order to start to coordinate our interventions in this decisive field, and to exchange good practices.

Mathilde Stein and Gaël Quirante 
(members of the Fourth international, 
members of the executive commitee of the NPA)

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