On the Ninetieth Anniversary of Lenin’s death: new aspects of his Testament – Written by Francesco Ricci – PdAC

Originally published on http://www.litci.org/en

Lenin’s last struggle, the first battle against Stalinism

In the Central Committee of October 6, 1922 Lenin was absent. Stalin presents a text that strongly limits the state monopoly on foreign trade, which is approved. A few days later Lenin sends a letter to the CC with a hard criticism of its decision. On December 13, Lenin writes to Trotsky and, realizing that their positions on this issue converge, asks him to make a battle on their behalf at the next meeting of the governing body.

Giving a few steps back: Why Lenin does not participate in the meetings and merely writes letters? Because he is seriously ill and bedridden. He had suffered a first stroke. But since the last Party Congress he attended, the XI, in the spring of 1922 he starts a battle against the bureaucratization evils he perceives to be growing in the state of the Soviets. In this Congress, in a speech made ​​on 27 March, he states: “The machine refused to obey the hand that guided it.” (1) That is why, a few months later, in a private meeting he proposes to Trotsky to form a bloc “against bureaucracy in general and against the Organizational Bureau in particular.” (2) And Organizational Bureau meant the very heart of Stalin’s apparatus.

On the night between the 12th and 13th December another stroke paralyzes Lenin. He can’t attend the CC meeting, but, after getting better, he writes to the CC on 16 December informing its members he had reached a full agreement with Trotsky, who would defend their common view at the next meeting. In the CC of 18 December Lenin and Trotsky’s position is approved and the previous resolution is modified. Stalin notes with concern the movement of a Lenin whose disease couldn’t stop him completely. So, he passed a motion in this very CC by which the full responsibility for Lenin’s care would be trusted to him. His desire is to isolate him, so he asks the doctors to determine a limitation of the patient’s political activity to a few minutes a day in which Lenin could only dictate a few lines to the secretaries, but wouldn’t receive the answers to his letters, or talk of politics with the rare visitors allowed in his room.

The prohibition, as rightly note by the historian Jean Jacques Marie, is deprived of any medical basis: moreover, to prevent a revolutionary who spent his life immersed in politics from engaging in politics, actually meant to seek to destroy his strength, worsen his disease. In fact, the real Stalin’s concern is not Lenin’s illness but, as J. J. Marie writes: Stalin wants to have “his hands on the man who decided to start a struggle with Trotsky against him.”

Knowing the first victory won in the CC, on 21 December, Lenin dictates to Krupskaya a letter to Trotsky: “I suggest that we should not stop and should continue the offensive.” (4) The offensive which Lenin speaks of is the one against Stalin and the bureaucrats the secretary of the CC is organizing around himself.

But Stalin is quickly informed of the fact that Krupskaya left Lenin dictate a message to Trotsky. Then he phones her and insults her, threatening to send her to the disciplinary bodies by compromising Lenin’s treatment. Lenin will know this episode only three months later: this precision, as we shall see, is significant because, unlike several commentators’ opinions, the divergence between Stalin and his wife did not affect the Testament that Lenin began to dictate by those days.

The Testament

The story of the last Lenin’s struggle (to recover the expression with which Lewin titled his book on the subject) is generally neglected by Stalinist, social-democratic or bourgeois historians. Why? Because it is a stony ground for the theory of Lenin-Stalin continuity, essential to both yesterday bureaucrats, who claim Lenin for the justification of their crimes, and the bourgeoisie and their agents to liquidate the Communism and every project of destruction of social class societies.

What was later known as Testament are the notes that Lenin wanted to send to the XII Congress of the Bolshevik Party, scheduled for the following months (5). His last dictates to the secretaries, Maria Volodiceva and Lydia Fotieva start on December 23, 1922 and end on January 4, 1923, when he dictates a last important message. In the text, Lenin starts by giving reason to Trotsky against Stalin on the debate about the Gosplan (the State Commission for planning). Then he carries out an evaluation of the main leaders of the party.

Lenin highlights “the unlimited authority” that Stalinconcentrated in his hands. After saying that Stalin and Trotsky are “the two outstanding leaders of the present CC”, he adds that Trotsky is “personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C.” and indicates some limitations of the leader with whom he led a battle against bureaucracy (“excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work” and “excessive self-assurance”). But this is a trifle compared with the merciless judgment he makes of all other leading exponents of the ruling party.

He goes on. On January 4, an additional note on Stalin said: “Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc.”

It’s a blow aimed at proposing the removal of Stalin. Lenin does not seek compromising with Stalin, he indeed warns Trotsky against the maneuvers of the party secretary. And the battle continues. Now Lenin decides to take up the defense of the Georgian question against the chauvinistic policy supported by Stalin.

This is how Trotsky sums up the story in his autobiography: “Lenin names only six people there, and sums them up briefly, weighing each word. Unquestionably, his object in making the will was to facilitate the work of direction for me. He naturally wanted to do it with the least possible amount of friction. He talks about every one most guardedly, softening the most devastating judgments. At the same time he qualifies with reservations the too definite indication of the one whom he thinks entitled to first place. Only in his analysis of Stalin does one feel a different tone which in the later postscript to the will is nothing short of annihilating.” Then, Trotsky adds: “two more months passed during which the situation took definite shape. Lenin was now preparing not only to remove Stalin from his post of general secretary, but to disqualify him before the party as well.”

In order to “disqualify Stalin” and continue the battle Lenin then dictates two articles: “How we should reorganize the Workers and Peasants Inspection” and, in an even more explicit way, “Better fewer, but better.” Note that the Inspection that Lenin proposes to reorganize urgently was headed until a few days before by Stalin. This is also a shot against Stalin. The Politburo of the party discusses the opportunity to publish on Pravda the second of two articles. A leader close to Stalin had proposed to only print a copy and show it to Lenin … Finally the text is published on the 4th of March on Pravda.

Immediately after Lenin wrote to the Georgian leaders declaring solidarity with their position and against the Stalin’s position of “Great-Russia”, that is, against the denial of the right to self-determination of Georgia and the possibility to give life to a federated republic with Russia and not subordinate to it.

On this occasion Lenin turns to the leader he most estimates, the one he felt should replace him in case of his death: Trotsky. On March 5th, he dictates a letter to Trotsky asking him to do the same he did during the debate on the monopoly. “I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defense. [of the Georgian question, editor]” (6). He also informed Trotsky, always through one of the secretaries, that he wanted to attack frontally Stalin in the upcoming Congress.

Meanwhile, he was also informed by Krupskaya, his wife and member of the party leadership, of the offenses Stalin had inflicted on her in December last year. At that point, a letter addressed to Stalin was written asking if he was prepared to make apologies, because “what has been done against my wife I consider having been done against me as well.”

On March 9th, while the battle is just beginning, Lenin is hit by another stroke, which deprives him of speaking.

From March 1923 to January 1924, the month of his death, Lenin doesn’t see Stalin. The relations between them are broken.

The fate of the testament

What about the testament of Lenin?

The text is not read at the XII Congress (April 1923). After Lenin’s death (January 21, 1924) Krupskaya brings the document to the CC and asks that the text should be read at the XIII Congress, which would take place in May 1924. But the leaders, at the suggestion of Stalin, Kamenev and Zinovev (which have formed a secret fraction), propose that it is kept confidential. Trotsky is outvoted. At the insistence of Krupskaya, it is decided that it would be read only to the heads of delegations. The meeting takes place on May 22, 1924, with the commitment of those present to keep the secret and not even take notes: the text is not delivered or read to the general audience of delegates.

It would be published abroad, first some fragments, then full, by the American militant Max Eastman, close to Trotsky, a year later. In Russia the will was published only in 1956, by Khrushchev, as a tool in the fight that had opened between the various fractions in dispute after the death of Stalin (1954), during the so-called “de-Stalinization.”

Many books have been written, starting from the considerations of Deutscher, a leading biographer of Trotsky, for a phase a Trotskyist leader (hostile to the constitution of the Fourth International in 1938), about the alleged hesitation of Trotsky. Why didn’t he claim the publication of the text? Why didn’t he launch immediately the battle against Stalin?

In fact, as all the best biographers have documented and in the more recent studies, Trotsky simply didn’t think it was tactically appropriate, with Lenin seriously ill, and even soon after Lenin’s death, to launch a frontal attack for the removal of Stalin. He tries to fight a preparatory political battle; he tries to accumulate the necessary forces. Hence his acceptance of a series of compromises in that he understands to be a battle that can’t be won by him alone and in one shot. Above all, he hopes that the revolution in Europe, in Germany, can break the Russian isolation, the main cause for the advance of the bureaucracy.

1994, a first falsification of the testament is discovered

Until the opening of archives in Moscow, following the collapse of the Stalinism at the end of the eighties, this is all that we knew of Lenin’s testament.

The same Trotsky explained how that single sentence in the text in which Lenin refers to him in relatively negative terms had to be considered in the context of the reasoning of Lenin, who designated him, nevertheless, as his successor at the head of the revolution.

In particular, in the article “On the suppressed testament of Lenin” (see bibliography at the end) Trotsky insisted on the distorted interpretation of that sentence made by the Stalinists who tried to turn it into a “synthesis” of the testament but not based on the original version.

Which sentence is this? One in which Lenin, having already spoken positively of Trotsky, comes to talk of two other leading members, Kamenev and Zinoviev. He emphasizes their “not accidental” behavior when they committed a serious political mistake in the course of 1917. However, Lenin adds that in any case these errors “ought as little to be used against them personally as the non-Bolshevism of Trotsky.”

This is the “original” version – or at least it was considered original even by Trotsky. Stalin instead circulated readings in which that sentence was reversed: both the mistakes of Kamenev and Zinoviev and Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past could neither be underestimated nor forgotten because they would have consequences in the present time.

The fact is that Trotsky never publicly questioned the phrase (at least in the version that was believed to be original), although indubitably those words are inconsistent with the rest of the text, and especially with the context of the last Lenin’s battle. Why would Lenin return to the non-Bolshevik past of whom was considered by him, after 1917, “the best of the Bolsheviks,” the main leader with Lenin of the revolution? Why would he deliver a weapon into the hands of Stalin just as Trotsky was his main ally in the battle against Stalin and the bureaucracy?

For years it remained an unclear point. Until, with the opening of archives in Moscow, new documents have been found. Let’s see.

In 1994, the historian Yuri Buranov writes a book called Lenin’s will. Falsified and forbidden. From the Secret Archives of the former Soviet Union (see bibliography). In the book he takes up a theme that had already been dealt on Russian magazines in 1991 and which was also given space in the Italian newspaper La Stampa in articles by Giulietto Chiesa (correspondent of L’Unitá in Moscow for years).

In the articles of 1991 as well as in the book of 1994 Buranov explains that he found in the Soviet archives a manuscript page of December 23, 1922: the one that opens the text of Lenin then known as the testament, copied (as confirmed by the handwriting expert) by Nadiezhda Alliluyeva, one of the secretaries of Lenin and also Stalin’s wife.

The thing is interesting for several reasons: Alliluyeva was not on duty that day at Lenin’s room (as evidenced by the diaries of the secretaries: see bibliography). Volodiceva was on duty that day. The latter – as had already emerged from the interviews remained unpublished until 1989, made ​​in 1967 by the historian Aleksandr Bek – had admitted that, while Lenin dictated his testament, the secretaries immediately brought the text to Stalin.

When Volodiceva, by order of the manager of the secretaries, Fotieva, brings the first dictation of Lenin in the study of Stalin, she finds Alliluyeva, Bukharin and a couple of other leaders. Stalin reads the text and, visibly frightened, gives the order to burn it. However, he urges his wife to make a copy and keep it, while Volodiceva is ordered to write on the copy to be kept in the archives a couple of phrases that Lenin had not dictated. Is from this modified version that five copies which are usually known as the testament of Lenin​​ are made.

So the text found in the archives by Buranov, handwritten by Stalin’s wife, is a copy of the original text actually dictated by Lenin. This page differs by a sentence from the one published in the Works of Lenin, and widely regarded for decades as the original: whereas Lenin is said to agree with Trotsky on the question of the State Planning Commission [Gosplan, led by Stalin] (I agree, in this regard, with Comrade Trotsky), by Stalin’s order it was added: “Up to a certain point and under certain conditions.”

These few words, as can be understood, spill the meaning of the sentence: they not only relativize the agreement between Lenin and Trotsky on that important point (it was the beginning of the battle against Stalin) but they almost reveal a contrast between the two men that Lenin would solve with a partial compromise.

Buranov has thus demonstrated unequivocally that Stalin did falsify the testament, at least with regard to the page where it was found the copy of the original. But can one believe that the rest of the text, which was delivered on time by the secretaries to Stalin, dictated gradually by Lenin, has no other forgeries?

Canfora’s hypothesis

Several years later, Luciano Canfora, a historian with Stalinist training, and certainly not suspected of sympathy for Trotsky, raises a new question. The general aim of his research is to prove an alleged and non-existent difference between Stalin and Togliatti, to beatify the latter with the so-called “Italian road to socialism,” i.e. Stalinist reformism led by one of the worst Stalinists in history, Togliatti.

In fact, he published a book dedicated to the falsification of various historical texts. The book also deals with Lenin’s testament.

Summarizing the discoveries made by Buranov proving irrefutably that at least the wording of December 23 has been tampered with by Stalin, Canfora asks: and if the same thing, using the same method, i.e. adding a sentence to change the understanding, had been made ​​in other parts of the text?

Re-reading the testament, it is clear that the its most contradictory phrase is the one we mentioned above, about Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past. That phrase has been (in the “original” or in its deformed version) now and for decades the workhorse of the Stalinists: the phrase by which they tried to obscure the true meaning of the testament.

Some linguists, experts in Russian, confirm to Canfora that just that phrase, in Russian, is ungrammatical, it disagrees from a syntactic point of view with the main clause.

Canfora’s reasoning is at this point very simple: we know that Stalin did falsify a phrase at the beginning of the text; we know that he had the opportunity, through the secretaries, to make other “fixes” to the text by Lenin (who was unaware that his pages would end directly on the desk of Stalin); we know that phrase, fundamental, is out of tune with the intentions of Lenin; we know that phrase, even from a linguistic point of view, does not agree with the text.

Canfora has no evidence, because it could not find copies of the other original pages of the testament. It’s possible that, despite falsifying it, Stalin has not made ​​a copy as he did previously. Or it is possible, if not probable, that the copies made ​​were lost in the archives or have been destroyed. The conclusion of the historian, I repeat, who has no sympathy for Trotskyism, is nevertheless: the near certainty, based on all the evidence, that Lenin had never dictated in his testament a sentence about Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past.

Knowing what has Stalin made later: the systematic falsification of the whole revolutionary history to credit himself a primary role in the crucial moments that he has never had; the extermination of all the Bolshevik leaders; perhaps even, as some historians suspect, even without having the evidence, the poisoning of Lenin; knowing all this, it wouldn’t certainly be a surprise if Canfora’s hypothesis coincide with the true facts.

It is significant that neither the discovery of Buranov nor the hypothesis advanced by Canfora have found space in historical studies after their publications. To our knowledge, this issue has caused only a few journalistic interest, and mostly in Italy, even after the amplification given by Canfora after Buranov.

Of course, if even Canfora’s hypothesis was based on a confirming document, the find would neither change the course of history nor would add much to the crimes of Stalinism. But it would be further evidence, added to infinite others, that between Lenin and Stalin there was an unbridgeable abyss. On the one hand the revolution and the Bolshevik Party which was its architect; on the other the counter-revolution and the Stalinist bureaucracy responsible for it.

A curiosity: Canfora’s mistake

In closing, it’s worth reporting the fact, which apparently escaped to all those who reviewed the book by Canfora, that False history in turn contains an involuntary mistake, or at least a blunder, which is unforgivable in a book that exposes the historical falsifications.

In rebuilding the moment when the party leaders were brought to the attention of Lenin’s testament, Canfora relies on the reconstruction made by ​​the writer Emil Ludwig. He, citing Radek (at that time a close leader to Stalin), wrote of a “leap from his seat” allegedly given by Trotsky during a CC session when Stalin would be reading the testament and in particular at the time of the reading of the sentence about his non-Bolshevism. According to Ludwig, repeated by Canfora, Trotsky would have asked Stalin to reread that passage.

After correctly pointing out that actually the first reading of the testament was given in a closed session of the XIII Congress, in May 1924, Canfora takes the rest of Ludwig and Radek’s story for granted, and ventures in assumptions that perhaps Trotsky found that sentence suspect, but was not able to prove it. Probably, Canfora adds, Trotsky already knew the original text (without the offending sentence), as one of the secretaries of Lenin, Marija Gljasser, was politically close to him and could have given him the information.

But Canfora makes a mistake that could have been avoided if he had bothered to read Trotsky’s article, written in 1932 (see bibliography), dedicated to the story of the testament. Trotsky explains that Ludwig-Radek are lying to exaggerate the legend propagated by the Stalinists about the fact that the testament contains harsh accusations of Lenin to Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past, whereas in the original text (well, we can say today, the text Trotsky supposed to be original) Lenin says that it should not be imputed to Trotsky his non-Bolshevik past. Trotsky adds that he has not “leapt from his seat” and that the entire reconstruction of Ludwig is false not only because (as also noted by Canfora) the testament was read at another time to the leaders, but because furthermore it was Kamenev who read it not Stalin. Trotsky said he actually gave a “leap from the seat,” but on another occasion. It was at a plenum of the Central Committee, in 1926, when various unpublished texts by Lenin so far were read (this time by Stalin). It was on this occasion that Trotsky interrupted Stalin while he was reading the letter of March 5, 1923 (which we mentioned above). In this letter Lenin invites Trotsky to defend the Georgian question in the next CC meeting. The letter ended with very affectionate words, which were rare in Lenin: “With the very best comradely greetings.” In reading, Stalin changed some words and read a drier and more official “communist greetings.” At this moment Trotsky (who remembered by memory this significant detail on Lenin’s letter to him) interrupted Stalin and asked him to read the exact words. Which Stalin was obliged to do, embarrassed, because those “With the very best comradely greetings” were addressed to the leader with whom Lenin decided to start his last struddle, the first made ​​by the Bolsheviks against the Stalinist degeneration.

Note

(1) VI Lenin, in Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 253.

(2) L. Trotsky, My Life, p. 441.

(3) J. J. Marie, Lénine, p. 271 (in French).

(4) VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 45.

(5) See VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 36.

(6) See. VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 45.

———————————————-

Bibliography

The book I have based on Moshe Lewin’s Lenin’s last struggle, 1968. This is the first text that sheds light on the matter, also based on the Diary of the Secretaries of Lenin (see below). Lewin’s book is more interesting for the accurate reconstruction of the facts than for author’s conclusions, not without a certain psychology.

The Diary of Secretaries of Lenin, are notes of service taken by Lenin’s collaborators, recorded between November 1922 and March 1923. It was published for the first time in 1963 in Russia by a history magazine, and then translated and published on Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, of April-June 1967, edited by Lewin and Jean Jacques Marie. The text is also available on the Internet, http://www.persee.fr/web/revues.

Indispensable is also the article by Trotsky “On the suppressed Testament of Lenin”, 1932, published in July 1934 on the Trotskyist magazine New International then repeatedly reprinted by Pathfinder Press, New York. Italian edition is edited by Paul Casciola in a brochure for the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso: Lenin-Trotsky. In lotta contro lo stalinismo. La vera storia del Testamento di Lenin (1988). (Lenin-Trotsky. In the struggle against Stalinism. The true story of Lenin’s testament)

These books devote a few pages to the story: E.H. Carr, The death of Lenin. The interregnum, 1923-1924, Cambridge University Press, 1965; P. Broué, The Lost Revolution. Life of Trotsky,1879-1940, in particular in chapter 20, “The bloc with Lenin”, in chapter 22, “Lost opportunities” and in chapter 23, “Debate without Lenin”; Louis Fischer, The Life of Lenin, Harper & Row, 1964, in particular in the chapter L “Lenin’s last will and testament.”

The most recent discoveries about Stalin’s manipulation of the Testament are analyzed in Jurij Buranov, Lenin’s will. Falsified and forbidden; from the Secret Archives of the former Soviet Union, Prometheus Books, 1994. Buranov’s find was echoed by the Italian press in the article by Giulietto Church, published on La Stampa, July 12, 1991: “E’ un falso di Stalin il Testamento di Lenin” (Lenin’s testament is falsified by Stalin). (available on the newspaper’s website). Luciano Canfora resumes the information by Buranov and advances his hypothesis of further possible falsification in the book La storia falsa (The false story), Rizzoli, 2008.

Advertisements

Polemic on Syria; Alan Woods : Defend the revolution or contribute to its defeat

The following is a polemical article written by comrades J.M Pau and Juan P of the International Worker’s League – Fourth International. The original text may be found here :

http://litci.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2342:alan-woods-defend-the-revolution-till-the-end-or-contribute-to-its-defeat&catid=41:world&Itemid=113

The following article is important not only because it exposes the reactionary politics of the IMT over Syria but also because it deals with the vital question of revolutionary leadership. We repost this article on our blog expressing full agreement with the positions expressed herein :

The positionof Alan Woods and his international political organization on the Syrian Revolution.

Alan Woods wrote last June an extensive article on Syria, to which we will respond with this text.

Many articles have been written on Syria on these years of revolution and civil war. Most of the left, starting with the Castro brothers and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, openly stood beside the dictator Bashar al Assad and his regime. Alan Woods (who supports Chavez and Chavists governments, and appeared as Chavez’ left adviser) – who runs the IMT on an international level -, changed hispositions, on the assumption that previously he had placed himself in favor of the Syrian Revolution. [1]

Below, we summarize the arguments used by Alan Woods to justify his position with quotationsfrom his own article:

1. The movement in Syria began as a popular revolution with mass support. If that movement had been armed with a genuinely revolutionary programme, it could have succeeded in winning over those sections of society that backed Assad for fear of the alternative. However, in the absence of clear leadership, the movement was hijacked by reactionary elements and pushed in a sectarian direction.

2. America’s regional allies, those bulwarks of reaction, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have been pouring in money, weapons and mercenaries into Syria from day one. Their objective was not at all to help the rebels who were fighting for change in Syria, but on the contrary, to crush the revolutionary elements and transform what began as a popular uprising into a civil war with sectarian connotations.

3. To the degree that the whole thing became militarised, the struggle was deprived of any revolutionary content. Those who controlled the money and arms were able to dictate terms. The counterrevolutionary Salafists and Jihadis, lavishly backed with money and arms from their billionaire paymasters in Riyadh and Doha, seized control. That determined the nature of the so-called opposition.

Based on these arguments, the conclusion drawn is: “The truth is that the Syrian Revolution has suffered defeat,”and everything now would sum up to an imperialist intervention against the country through its allies. In other words, according to Alan Woods, it does not matter which side wins the war: the immediate task of the revolutionaries in Syria would be only to wait for better days.

The truth is that after reading these paragraphs there is no more doubts that Alan Woods or his political current have never supported the Syrian Revolution. But for us, who know his trajectory, it is not surprising that they have gotten to this point, although on this occasion they have been forced to beat around the bush and to tailor some of their positions over time, hiding and changing others to finally have arguments to continue supportingthe ones they regard as their guides for the international revolution: Chavismo without Chavez.

Let us see, at first, Alan Woods’ arguments on the Syria situation.

The article begins by stating that the Western press (let’s say pro-imperialist) only mentions the government’s actions, concealing the Jihadists and Salafists’ brutality. This is not true, because we have all seen the pictures of a Salafist militiaman plucking and eating the heart of a dead soldier of the regime.

Alan Woods, however, does not say a single word about what the Western press did not publish on this macabre fact. On the internet it can be found statements of Abu Sakkar (the militiaman who ate the soldier’s heart) saying that he did it because when they (the rebels) captured that soldiers they watched the videos that were recorded on their cell phones where they (the regime soldiers) showed how they raped rebel women or murdered children.

According toWoods, the Western media only covers the government atrocities, when in fact, what happens is that the media works to amplify the Salafists and Jihadists’ actions, causing civil war looks like a sectarian war, in which the medicine can be worse than the disease itself. And every day, further and further pieces of news appear in this regard: on the financing of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, on the front Al Nusra which states to be linked to Al Qaeda. In other words, Western media does the same advertising job as Alan Woods.

The process of the Syrian Revolution and the Salafists

In March 2011, large demonstrations were held calling for the fall of al Assad’s regime. After eight months of brutal repression, the Revolution began to arm itself and ended up provoking a civil war that still lingers in the country which is now divided into zones controlled by the regime and liberated zones. Alan Woods says that because of its militarization, the revolution has suffered a defeat, after being dominated by the Salafists. This assessment, in our opinion, is flatly wrong.

Firstly, it is necessary to analyze who is actually fighting on the ground. The largest rebel military force in Syria is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group of militiamen and battalions relatively heterogeneous, but who keep a common standard. The estimated current soldiers of FSA areof 80,000 men. The largest Salafist group is JabhatAl Nusra, which has about 7,500 troops. As we can see, despite the Salafists progress in recent months (thanks to the international support they have, against the isolation of the FSA), the non-sectarian forces are largely dominant in the military rebel field.

Secondly, in the liberated areas with a major presence of Salafist forces there have been frequent confrontations of the population against them. Lately, even armed clashes have occurred in the city of al Dana or in the Kurdish areas. The Salafists murdered a FSA’s battalion chief and the Local Coordination Committees have spoken against them. In Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib (the most important liberated zones), there have been streets demonstrations for the same reasons. The Syrian people are far from joyfully accepting the Salafist guardianship, and there is a vivid struggle in the rebel field against the enforcement of the fanatic precepts of these currents.

Third, every Friday demonstrations keep happening throughout Syria. Although they do not count on as many participants as at the beginning, due to the forcible exile, people continue to occupy the streets every week. For instance, on July 19, the Independent Syrian Center for Statistics recorded 73 Syrian demonstrations.

Finally, we want to highlight that organizations which were created by the Syrian masses as from their mobilization, still exist, just as at the beginning. For instance, the extensive network of the Local Committees – the organizations that began coordinating the demonstrations – also took the tasks of supplying the people’s needs (and even being the government in the liberated areas). There is also the Union of Free Students of Syria, dozens of newspapers, many initiatives of the press giving to the world insights of what goes on inside Syria, humanitarian assistance through professional doctors, nurses, psychologists and volunteers, cultural initiatives, etc…

Among the arguments used by Allan Woods, one is worth mentioning:

“To the degree that the whole thing became militarised, the struggle was deprived of any revolutionary content. Those who controlled the money and arms were able to dictate terms. The counterrevolutionary Salafists and Jihadis, lavishly backed with money and arms from their billionaire paymasters in Riyadh and Doha, seized control. That determined the nature of the so-called opposition.”

It is the first time that we read that when a revolution is militarized, it loses its revolutionary content. We revolutionaries believe that it is precisely the opposite: to destroy a regime it is necessary to destroy the key support of the Bourgeois State, which are itsArmed Forces. To achieve this feat, the masses arm themselves or manage to get the Army troops to come over to the revolution side and thus fight the regime with their arms. Therefore, a revolution that manages to destroy the regime’s Army challenges the very Capitalist State. On the other hand, a revolution which leaves intact the Army cannot be more than a “democratic revolution” which, if stalled at this point, will not be able to move to a social revolution.

With all of this, we want to conclude that the Syrian revolution is alive, and that the Salafists are a minority faction from all points of view. To say, as Alan Woods does, that the money and the weapons are in the hands of the Salafists and therefore the efforts of the revolutionaries have been in vain is the greatest contempt of someone who claim to be a Marxist could send to the poor masses and exploited people of the whole world. It is clear that without money and weapons it is more difficult, but if it was the decisive factor there would never have been any revolution in the world, for money and weapons have always been in the hands of the minority, the bourgeois.

Would Assad be”secular” or “progressive”?

AlanWoods acknowledges in his text that the Syrian government commits atrocities. In previous articles of his own organization, Assad was denounced as a capitalist government that implements neoliberal plans. However, in the latter article, when criticizing the Muslim rebels, Woods slips and unveils the characterization that the Syrian regime is “progressive”, and that “the victory of the Jihadis would represent reaction in its blackest and most vicious form. It would signify the liquidation of all the gains of the last 50 years, pushing what was a civilized and decent country back into barbarism. It would mean a savage bloodbath of ethnic cleansing of Alawites, Christians and secular people. The slogan “Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut!” gives us fair warning as to the character and intentions of the jihadis. Their aim is to provoke a Sunni/Shia war of extermination.”

We have already responded to one of the main arguments which is the base for those who argue that the Syrian revolution would be a reactionary process for being “under the control” of Salafists. Now we want to give the question back: What about the government side? Would it be “secular” or “progressive”?

Although apart of the left spread this regime’s image, the answer is categorically No. Assad and his regime are not progressive nor in the content, and they do not even worry about hiding it in the form. And the proof of that was the fatwa read by the Mufti [2] of the Republic on television, calling a jihad to defend the regime. Further proof can be seen in the way the Army generals call upon the Syrian youth to enlist to fight “on behalf of Hussein” (son of Ali, the central figure of Shiite Islam). We can also mention the fact that after the conquest of Qusayr, the first thing that the regime troops did was to unfurl an offensive flag on a Sunni mosque. And finally: the government’s bombardments had already destroyed at least 800 mosques in April, to sow fear, but above all sectarian hatred.

Someone could say that this occurs because of the war and as a reaction to the Salafists’ actions, but the Syrian regime could not be characterized as “secular” even before the war.

The Syrian regime is not a secular state where wouldn’tmatter the religion a particular person professes. Religious leaders play a major role in the Syrian regime. The regime has fostered the splitting and has leaned on one of the Muslim factions, the Alawites (10% of the population) in order to control the Army and State institutions. Civil marriage is prohibited and those who want to get married can do it only if they profess the same religion. Syrian Kurds were massacred and discriminated for decades, and only with the beginning of the revolution the citizenship was provided to them, in order to neutralize them.

If any doubt remained about al Assad’s regime, simply look at their allies to dismiss it completely. On the battlefield, the Hezbollah troops serve as the regime ground troops. And the word Hezbollah, literally translated, means “Party of God”.

On the international stage, al Assad’s main support is the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Ayatollah (which translated means “sign of God”) as “the supreme leader”.

It is ridiculous to try to justify the support to Bashar’s dictatorship for being a “secular” regime fighting against “reactionary Islamists”. In fact, it is the regime that makes more efforts to convert the Revolution in a sectarian fighting, in order to weaken it.

Nor does Bashar hesitate to promote massacres against the Palestinians in Syria (which stem from the 1948 refugees. All his speeches in support of Palestine were definitely thrown into the dustbin of history when it started the bombing on the Yarmuk neighborhood (originated from a refugee camp), where more than 150,000 people live, including Palestinians and Syrians. Palestinians in Syria are part of the revolution, because they suffer the same misery and lack of freedoms that affect the entire population.

50 years of accomplishments?

This is the second statement that stands out most in the arguments of Alan Woods: why is it that the Syrian people rose up massively against the regime, if the country had, according to Alan Woods, 50 years of accomplishments, being a ‘civilized’ country in which there were acceptable living conditions?

A few months earlier, on March 1st, 2013, Fred Weston, also of Alan Woods’ current, explained in an article the nature of Al Assad’sregime, showing the unemployment growth, especially among youth, the dominant role ofthe private industry and the fall in the purchasing power of the population, in other words, a situation similar to the rest of the countries in the region.

“The truth, however, is very concrete: there is not a single gram of anti-imperialism in al Assad regime. There is nothing of progressive in which he could somehow justify a possible support from the socialists, including the most critical of the ‘critical support’ “. [3]

If Alan Woods had a minimum of seriousness he would have, before beautifying the regime which his Bolivarian friends support, to say that his own comrade was mistaken, and demonstrate, if possible, where are the “50 years of accomplishments.” Let us remember that they are 50 years of military dictatorship, during which Bashar al Assad’s father held massacres in which thousands of people died. The current dictator “inherited” from his father the country presidency.

The lack of a revolutionary leadership in accordance with the standards required by Alan Woods

It is typical of the propagandists to criticize the masses for not doing whattheir schemes determine, beforehand. That’s exactly what Alan Woods does in his article, even though we have already seen this phenomenon in other texts by his current about the Syrian Revolution.

The above mentioned article starts as it follows:

“The movement in Syria began as a popular revolution with mass support. If that movement had been armed with a genuinely revolutionary programme, it could have succeeded in winning over those sections of society that backed Assad for fear of the alternative. However, in the absence of clear leadership, the movement was hijacked by reactionary elements and pushed in a sectarian direction.”

In at least one point we agree: there is not a revolutionary leadership in Syria whose program aims at the socialist revolution. However, for sure the Syrian masses have a revolutionary program: to overthrow the bloody regime of Bashar al Assad. It is lacking the program of the social revolution and it is lacking the building up a revolutionary party to defend this program, but this can only be built in the trenches of the revolution, as it happens in reality.

Indeed, a good part of the Syrian revolutionaries can be considered politically as “moderate Islamists”. How could we ask the masses to be on the “leftist” side if most of the worldwide “left” has been supporting the capitalist dictatorship which is promoting massacres against the masses? Much of the blame of the Salafists’ progress or the advance of political Islamism is of that very “left” who condemns the revolution just for this reason. How can Woods be so hypocritical to the point of accusing the Syrians of not following the direction he proposes, when his own current collaborated with the late President Chavez, the known friend and collaborator of the Syrian dictatorship?

Revolutions are as they are: they do not follow a predetermined pattern. It is necessary to look at them objectively, to see how they develop in practice in the real world. The Syrian masses rose up peacefully first, however, seeing themselves repressed and murdered, they took up arms to defend themselves and wipe out the regime. The Syrian people could not build a revolutionary leadership to the taste of some and others. This leadership has to be built in the midst of the government bombings and in a scenario in which there are many interests at stake. And amid all of this the Syrian people have been building their own bodies of power, with all its strengths and weaknesses: local committees, the Free Syrian Army, their Free Students organizations…. It is therefore a living process which should be known and supported by all the workers and peoples of the world.

The anti-imperialism of Alan Woods

We leave for the end what isthe justification of the text we criticize: Obama’s statements saying that U.S.would directly subsidize the Syrian opposition with weapons and resources. There are several statements that have not been fulfilled. However, for Alan Woods this is a scandal, because it would mean an imperialist intervention.

We denounce precisely the opposite. The imperialism has long been intervening in Syrian conflict and has done it mostly in favor of the regime. The arms embargo has benefited so far only the Syrian dictatorship, which continues to be armed by countries such as Russia and Iran, through subsidized fuel from Venezuela and the economic support from China, as well as a true foreign intervention, that of the Hezbollah. This is because the imperialism’s policy, which has not yet been changed, is of forcing a deal between the opposition and the regime, to make a transition that would leave intact the current regime foundations, but without the presence of Bashar al Assad. What worries the imperialism the most is the instability of the region. This stability, which Assad had been ensured for the past 40 years, along with the Egyptian regime, has been one of the mainstays of the State of Israel survival.

On the other hand, the imperialism most direct “allies” (as they are defined by Alan Woods) in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been financing the Islamist factions with the clear objective of perverting the revolution and weakening the Syrian masses. Incidentally, neither Qatar nor Saudi Arabia have never sent heavy weapons to the militias they support, which demonstrates that their real intention is far from the prompt and effective overthrow of the regime.

And why wouldn’t the Syrian rebels have the right to receive weapons from the U.S. or Europe? The Syrian masses have the right to arm themselves, no matter where the weapons come from. Let us remember that during the Civil War or the Spanish Revolution, all the left demanded an end to the arms embargo that had been decreed by the “democracies” of Europe. The government of the Spanish Republic requested arms fromFrance and fromEngland. The Syrian people have the same right, otherwise the ones who will be armed to the teeth will be only the military dictatorship and, to a lesser extent, the Salafist militias – and that is what is actually happening.

That “left”ends up by playing the same role as the imperialism in order to isolate the revolution, echoing the U.S. propaganda when they (the U.S.) declare that they will arm the rebels, but disregarding the fact that these statements are never carried out.

A curious omission in all texts of Alan Woods and his current

In March, Fred Weston denounced the Communist parties for giving support to Bashar al Assad’s regime, when he quoted a statement by the Israeli Communist Party who said that Assad was preferable to a rebels’ triumph. As said above, Alan Woods’ collaborator explained that the regime of Bashar al Assad was at all, nor anti-imperialist nor progressive. Eventually he denounced the Communist parties, but never mentioned either the Castro brothers, of the Cuban regime, or the Venezuelan Chavez or his heir, Mr. Maduro.

However, supposing that Alan Woods is right and that the revolution is defeated, we should ask him what were the role of the left in this process, and especially the role of the government he so much defends. Why does Alan Woods say nothing about the role of Chavez and of the Castro regime in the Syrian Revolution?

Both governments have declared themselves friends of Bashar al Assad and Venezuela sends directly the fuel that moves the Syrian tanks and its air force. Both governments are the ones who led the toxic ideological campaign on the Syrian Revolution. These two governments have supported the thesis that the demonstrations and the revolution were an imperialism conspiracy. This is the “left” which declares Bashar as anti-imperialist, as a defender of the Palestinian people and as an enemy of Israel and even as “socialist” and “humanistic”. These are the figures of whom Alan Woods and his friends have forgotten, who helped the isolation of the Syrian revolution on an international basis, isolation that led to the lack of support by the workers and peoples of the world, as happened with Tunisia or Egypt. These two governments are also responsible for the fact that the Syrian people look suspiciously the left because they have seen the way large part of the “left” has supported and continues to support the dictatorship.

We do not condemn Allan Woods and his current for changing their position. Everyone has the right to do so, if convinced by the arguments, and especially if the reality proves that the point of view they previously advocated is wrong. What is not correct is to try to show up as a revolution supporter and then do everything possible to demoralize it, using precisely the arguments of the imperialism, and demoralize the revolutionary summoning them implicitly to accept the “defeat”.

Alan Woods has once again demonstrated that he has abandoned Marxism, which he claims to defend. We, who are Marxists, on the contrary, as it should be, we support the revolution, we are unconditionally with the Syrian people, for the defeat of the dictatorship and we will do whatever is possible, no matter how humble our own possibilities are, to surround them in internationalist solidarity.

__________________________________________

[1] For those who have not read Alan Woods’ article, the full text can be found at the link:

http://www.marxist.com/no-to-imperialist-intervention-in-syria.htm

[2] Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, referred to as”The Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic.” “Mufti” is a state-religious or academic authority, responsible for interpreting the Islamic law (Sharia) and to issue official statements (fatwas) on controversial issues.

[3] Available at: http://www.luchadeclases.org/internacional/oriente-medio/1181-regimen-de-al-assad-que-se-ha-convertido.html

PSTU statement on the revolt in Brazil

[Here we are reposting the statement from the PSTU, the Brazilian section of the International Worker’s League – Fourth International. The revolt in Brazil is one of the most significant events to occur in Latin America in recent times and represents a re-emergence of radicalization in Brazilian society after a prolonged period of consolidation of bourgeois power. The revolts also present an interesting continuum of popular national upheavals. In this it stands together with the uprising in India against corruption and rape, the uprising in Turkey against the Erdogan government and to an extent bears resemblence to the Egyptian uprising in terms of the class composition of the protests. The role and importance of a direct intervention in the movement under a revolutionary leadership has been recognized by the PSTU and is reflected in this statement, which gives it a special importance. We welcome the encouraging developments in Brazil and give our fullest support to the struggle of the Brazilian people against their capitalist enemies.]

State and municipal governments recoil on the increase of fares

The demonstrations against the increase of fares on public transport (trains, underground and buses) that broke out several days ago and spread all across the country (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, many state capitals and important inland cities have just obtained the first important triumph: state and municipal governments have reversed and annulled the recent increase. Having participated actively in this process, in which hundreds of thousands of people walked out into the streets, the PSTU and the IWL greeted this first triumph joyfully.

Neither is this the only triumph. In an event unprecedented in these last years, Brazilian Congress will hold special sessions during this winter recess to deal with an agenda proposed in an impassioned speech delivered by Chairman Renan Calheiros (of the PMDB, a right party, allied with the PT in the government. To begin with, an overwhelming majority rejected the PEC 37[1] proposed by the government, one of the strongest demands of the demonstrators; a sample of the power of demonstrations and the policy of granting concessions to try and hush them up.

Demonstration began and swelled in a seemingly unforeseeable manner in a country seemed so “calm” and, to judge by appearances, out of the world process of mobilization and struggle. What we have witnessed was a great process of mobilisation, so far essentially of youth and popular sectors. This is a new generation that joins the struggle and begins writing their part of history. Polls show that for over 75% of the demonstrators this was their first experience; 94% of them did not belong to any political party. At present the demonstrations seem to be spreading to the poorer and more peripheral neighbourhoods of the great cities.

Evidently, something has changed in Brazil, after nearly two decades of “peace and quiet”. This is not only due to the massive character of de demonstrations, but also because they defeated the “sacred entente” between the governments, parties and the bourgeois and forced them to recoil. It will not be until within the forthcoming months that we shall be able to assess just how deep this change is and what its impact will be in the future. Especially there is the question regarding whether the organised working class will join the process fully or not. The greatest depletion and political cost had to be so far borne by the governors (such as the Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB (nation-wide right opposition) and the mayors such as Fernando Haddad of the PT (Workers’ Party) in the Sao Paulo city who applied the increase and ordered the repression. But the Dilma Rousseff of the PT administration was booed at the opening night of the Confederation (football) Cup. So far she seemed to be just as “armoured” as her predecessor Lula was against the effects of economic crisis, inflation or constant corruption scandals. Today, the first “holes” appear in this “armour”. Also the first clear symptoms of splits in the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois milieu regarding the manner to cope with this ascent even if all the bourgeois sectors – as we have seen – consider granting concessions as a starting point.

From the criminalisation of the protest to withdrawal and cries for “peace”

Initially, the different governments and the bourgeois press chose the policy of attacking the movement in order to justify the very tough police repression. They called the demonstrators “vandals” and demanded “severe treatment” for them. This was what the powerful Globo TV Network did or the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo who editorialised, “It is time we said enough” to demonstrators.

However, as crowds kept moving and spreading, it became evident that they had the support of most of the population, so authorities had to change their position. The live broadcasting of the demonstrations and the evidence that it was the military police (depending on the state administrations) that were causing violence (including mugging journalists) turned against the authorities and increased popular support for the protesters.

There even have been some journalists, such as Jose Luis Datena, right-wing host of a popular TV programme who switched from launching quizzes against demonstrators to openly giving them his support when the ample margin of popular support for their demands could no longer be concealed.

In the same way, the governments coming from different political parties switched from the repressive course of action to bewilderment and to summons for “dialogue” and finally to recoiling from the increase of fares. Even the very Dilma administration, who swung away from a statement issued by her Minister of Justice to the effect that Federal Government would make all efforts to make sure that state administrations could control the situation (i.e.: send repressive forces the way she did in Mina Gerais) and concluded by saying that she was “all for democratic demonstrations and would hear their demands”. (Sic)

Travelling is expensive and rough

It was the increase of fares for public transport what triggered off the whole process in the entire country. The increase was very small really (20 cents of real or 9 cents of a dollar). But this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Public transport in Brazil is among the most expensive ones in the world. Even before the latest increase the price of a trip in Sao Paulo by bus or by underground is $1.40 (a combined trip costs 2.11). This represents a total monthly expenditure of about $100 dollars (more than 40% of a minimum wage and between 15 and 20% of the income of those who collect twice or three times as much, which is the case of most of the population of the country. Of course if there is nobody else to spend the same amount. On the other hand, the price of ticket has been increasing far above the rate of inflation. That is why, according to Institute of Research of Applied Economy, there are 37 million people who cannot afford to pay for a trip in public transport and are forced to cover long distance on foot or to ride their bicycles.

But the quality of travelling is getting worse and worse because urbanisation and the growth of the great cities have not been paralleled by equal investment in transport that would satisfy the demand. Public transport comes hand-in-hand with precariousness and rising prices of all the remaining public services. Trains and buses are overcrowded, and accidents are frequent and are part of a tough routine that is repeated twice a day. The extreme slowness of traffic in towns and cities more and more full of cars as an outcome of the impulse given to car production in detriment of development of the much cheaper and much more efficient railways and subways.

“Zero fare” is possible

The metro and the commuter trains in Sao Paulo belong to the State- Buses are under concession to private companies and represent a huge source of income highly coveted by sectors in alliance with the public power.

This profitable business produces an important daily income of ready cash. Buses transport an average of 42 million passengers and collect $180 a month (data from April 2013) for tickets. Apart from that, in 2913 the municipality will pay grants for nearly $600 million a year. Apart from these direct subsidies, the companies also enjoy benefits recently announced by the Federal Government such as tax and social contribution exemptions.

Mayor Haddad estimated that free public transport in the city (“Zero fare”) would cost require just over $2 700 million a year in financing. This figure, according to the spokespeople of Free Pass Movement (MPL) coincides with the increase of the takings estimated by the municipality for this year.

In 1990, a project presented by the very same PT presented by Luiza Erundina who was mayor at that time established “zero fare”. This proposal simply represented to cover the costs of transport by progressive increase of taxes: the richest should pay for this service. The project was filed in the Municipal Chamber and the PT never spoke about that again.

Far from being Utopian, “Fare zero” is totally possible if transport is treated as what it really is: a right of the people and an obligation of the State that cannot be left in the hands of a few entrepreneurs. That is why the PSTU defends the stratification of public transport and free tickets; if this proposal were carried out it would spell great improvement in the level of life of millions of people.

“It is not for the 20 cents alone”

The main demand referred to the annulment of the increase of fares but the demonstrations reflected a much deeper process: “It is not for the 20 cents alone” many posters claimed. A great boiler of popular dissatisfaction exploded against the dismal situation of public health service and education as well as repudiation of the deep corruption of the political system and its representatives.

The great amount of money spent on football stadiums and the organisation of the football (soccer) World Cup in 2014 that the PT administration and the other political parties intended to capitalize politically by showing off a “First World Brazil” in the midst of an orgy of corruption and profit for entrepreneurs friends of the government (like Eike Batista) and even the “privatisation” of the administration of these stadiums built with public money. This lavishness collided against a reality of everyday life of most Brazilians. In a country that loves football, the World Cup was repudiated in and out of the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, a rehearsal of the forthcoming World Cup that popular humour has already re-baptised as the “Cup of the Demonstrations”.

Questioning the banners and raid of right bands

During the demonstrations there was a strong questioning by a sector of the participants against the participation of left parties and other organisation, such as trade unions and the presence of their flags.

Because of the importance of the issue, it is necessary to stop and talk it over. The “apartidism” of many of the participants expresses a very positive aspect: the split with the old parties of the system (the bourgeois and the reformists) responsible for the current situation. Together with this split there is an element of confusion when PT, currently the ruling party, is identified with the “red flags” and the left as a whole failing to tell the difference between those who are fighting against the government and those who are part of it.

Riding on the crest of this feeling, during the demonstrations on Thursday 20th of June, organised groups of neo-Nazis attacked columns of the left, especially those of PSTU in several cities causing clashes that caused several people to be wounded. There was nothing spontaneous about these aggressions: they were boosted by such characters as the retired military man and member of Parliament of the extreme right, Jair Bolsonaro and divers media and sites that called to “defend the non-partisan character” of the demonstrations (and to evict the left organisations) and that the Brazilian flag was to be “the only one present”.

The neo-Nazis and the bourgeois sectors that boost them tried to gain support from this “non-partisan” feeling to carry out aggressions clearly organised and intended to divide the struggle and try and prevent the PSTU (the party left to PT and with the best location for this purpose) from disputing the leadership of this movement and of the ascent that was just budding and in this way give an answer “on the positive” to the crisis of the great parties of the system. This is so, because many of the demands posed by the protesters are part of the programme that this party has been posing for years e.g.: 10% of the GDP is to go for education or free transport. We ought to mention that a few days before a free TV programme of the party exposed that “There is money for the Cup but none for health and education” and this has been one of the central demands of the entire movement.

Coming back to this attempt by the extreme right, if we are to defeat the neo-Nazis we must respond with the strongest unity in the media and in the streets and not only of the left organisations but also of all the honest fighters of the process even if they are “apartisan”. That is why the statements issued by several spokespeople of the MPL (Free Pass Movement) vindicating the participation of left organisations and especially of the PSTU as very positive.

The right and the bounden duty to be there

But apart from that it is necessary to make headway in the dialogue with those who do not agree with the aggressions but who still do believe that left-wingers’ flags (and the left organisations in general) harm or are detrimental for the type of process that they regard as ideal. We understand and we share their repudiation of the parties of the system. We also understand their repudiation of PT and their role as the main party of the system in this last decade. But it is necessary to differentiate the fake red flags from the real ones, those who are fighting arm-in-arm with the demonstrators.

In the first place, the presence of the PSTU flags can mean anything but opportunism. These flags have been with every progressive struggle in the entire country in these last decades, whether against the dictatorship or elected administrations. The PSTU has never been part of a government that implemented bourgeois plans; we have always been clear and steady opposition to them, even if they claimed to be “left”. Furthermore the general demands of these demonstrations coincide with proposed items of our programme launched long before the demonstrations began, and are i.e.: cut down the price of bus, trains and metro fares, 10% of GDP for education or when we expose the character of the World Cup. From this point of view, the banners have a right and an obligation of being there. And that is where we have been right from the very beginning of the demonstrations, even before they became massive.

Secondly, saying “no to parties” everything gets mixed up: the parties against whom we are fighting (like PT or PSDB) and those are support or boost these struggles. The demonstrators as well as people in general must know which parties are on this side in the struggle and which are on the opposite side.

Thirdly, the proposal of “no to the parties” is anti-democratic: everybody ought to have the right how they will participate in the demonstrations: individually, as part of a non-partisan collective or integrated to a party, etc. Nobody can make anybody else to join a party or be part his or her column. But at the same time nobody can refuse anyone else the right to be organised or make him or her abstain from doing so.

And last, let us say that it is divisionism and goes against the very process of mobilisation. This became very clear when the neo-Nazis, concealed behind their costume of “nationalists” and camouflaged with Brazilian flag, attacked PSTU yelling precisely, “no to parties”. This evidenced that, when all is said and done, this a-partisan ideology serves the interests of the bourgeoisie and the establishment.

It is clear that this debate will not be solved soon: the diverse positions respond to deep and varied experiences. What we do propose to all those honest a-partisan activists is to open a dialogue and a debate on the best ways of organising the struggles knowing for sure that we are together fighting in the same trench against the injustice of capitalism and against the governments that maintain these injustices.

How to keep on fighting

As we have already mentioned above, the programme that began to take shape during this process is much more ample than the mere annulment of the 20-cent increase of fares. How to find a solution to the precarious situation of public health service and education? How to cope with the problem of inflation and food shortage? How can we fight against privatisation of e.g.: airports or football stadiums that will only aggravate the situation in benefit of the same ever-privileged entrepreneurs and bankers? How do we contend with criminalisation of struggles and social movements or against the aggressions of the extreme right?

To begin with, for this purpose we need to formulate a common programme of demands and boost the massive entrance of the working class with its methods of struggle and organisation. Consequently, among these demands we must incorporate those that are most felt by workers and by the impoverished toiling masses so that the movement can broaden its bases and increase its fighting capacity. Ze Maria de Almeida, Chairman of the PSTU, expressed it in a recent article,

To begin with, it is necessary for all the organisations of the working class to undertake this challenge and this task. The CSP-Conlutas is participating in this process and is trying to mobilise its grassroots in this direction- The great trade union centrals should really summon for a general strike right now. At this moment what we all need is that everybody should join the struggle. No working class organisation can propose anything less than that.

With this in mind, CSP-Conlutas has launched a proposal of holding a nation-wide day of united struggle for next Thursday, 27th June. The agreement of CSP-Conlutas with Forca Sindical and other centrals to call for a day of paralysation for next 11th July is also very important.

While we are boosting the concrete struggle and participating in it and knowing that triumphs can be achieved we must say that all these unjustness and curses that affect Brazilian toiling masses are the outcome of a country plundered by imperialism associated with great national tycoons in a semi-colonial manner and to the administrations of the establishment whether right wingers or the fake left. That is why any radical solution of our problems needs a socialist revolution precisely to change this semi-colonial structure. In this process, it is essential to build tools of organisation for proletarian struggle and of the toiling masses in general. We also need a revolutionary party determined to be consistent and conscious leader of the process. The PSTU is the most advanced project of that leadership. As we have already said, things have changed in Brazil. Now the central task is to prepare proletarian and responses, mass organisations and the party to fight for this revolution and so make the PSTU chant come true: “neither right nor PT, I want to see workers in power”.

On the other hand, IWL-FI has made a commitment to boost international solidarity and that is why, our organisations in other countries are actively participating in all the demonstrations in solidarity that have already taken place and those that are now taking place or about to take place.

Long live the struggle of Brazilian people!

IS of the IWL

Sao Paulo, 25th June, 2013

[1]PEC 37 (proposal of Constitutional amendment) disallowed the so-called Public Ministry (a kind of official independent prosecution) from investigating cases of corruption and passed this capacity to military and civilian police. This was regarded as an attempt to cushion these investigations.

Analysis of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

We are posting this article on the Occupy Wall Street Movement from the American section of the International Worker’s League- Fourth International. This article is unique in that it analyses the internal dynamics of the occupation assemblies which very few others have done as precisely.

 

 

From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy USA: Tasks and Perspectives

 

 

From a few dozen youth in New York City’s Manhattan Park, Occupy Wall Street has now seen thousands (20,000 at it’s peak in NY) take action not only in N.Y., but also in the first days of sister occupations across the U.S – Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, among many others. This growing movement (there are now over 200 occupations) is captivating the hearts and minds of the majority of the peoples across theU.S.and the world.

These protests show that there is a potential for the American people to develop anti-austerity (i.e. against cuts to public services) mobilizations like their comrades inSpain,Greece, andChile; that’s if it manages to clearly express its political goals. This is why we must learn from the current strengths and limitations of the Occupy Wall Street protests so that the 1% is not able to make the 99% pay for the economic crisis caused by Wall Street and its partners-in-crime – Obama and the oligarchy he represents.

In this movement, marches and actions have grown to more than five-thousand strong. In fact, labor unions have joined the marches and actions, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been very happy to welcome them. The repression against Occupy Wall Street and its sister occupations has been severe: with a total of more than two hundred arrests during its few first weeks and an arrest of over 700 protesters who took to the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1st.

The consistent message in the mainstream media, which is now being forced to cover this growing mass action, is that the movement lacks a clear message. Of course, the corporate press (i.e. New York Times, Fox News, etc.) is seeking to portray it as a confused and misdirected movement in order to diffuse and contain it as much as possible.

However, it is our responsibility in the movement to set clear political goals or a strategy toward accomplishing them exist yet. But some of the occupations that have started since Occupy Wall Street – like Los Angeles, Berkeley, and others – have faced the following obstacles: a) the bureaucratic facilitation of general assemblies [1], b) lack of involvement people of color, women, & rank-and-file workers, c) an unhealthy alliance with the police[2], Democratic Party, elected leaders, and non-profit forces, among other obstacles toward evolving the occupations.

 

Tasks and Perspectives

 

As a result, the most immediate challenges and tasks that the Occupy movements face are, in our opinion, 1) the independence of our movement from the Democratic and the Republican Parties, the police, and from elected officials, 2) the democratic organization of the movement.

The lack of a democratic process for the General Assemblies – the main space for decision-making being used for the occupations- hinders the ability of people to participate. Combined with this, for the movement to be truly democratic and successful, it must be independent from the big business & Wall Street parties- particularly Obama and his Democratic Party that bailed-out Wall Street and is cutting public services.

We need to develop a movement that is politically independent of the ones that are allied with the 1% in enacting the austerity policies that are hurting the 99%. Without this being remedied, the movement is likely to be co-opted and eliminate the possibility of a real change and reversal of this crisis.

There are six general tasks for the movement that must be won over in order to have a sustainable, democratic, class independent and mass-based movement:

1) We need to ensure class independence: Keep the movement independent from elected political officials, particularly from the big business parties (i.e. Democratic, Republican and the tea Parties) and from the police, that is not a “neutral” force.

2) Securing democracy of the movement and challenging the present leadership’s conception of it and practice of bureaucratic methods.

3) Develop the political program of the movement: what the movement should fight for and against, its principles (goals and values), and above all its demands.

4) Develop strategy and tactics of political struggle for the movement: how are we going to achieve our goals? Which other sectors we want to involve?

5) Strongly link the movement to the working-class and oppressed (i.e. people of color, LGBT, women) peoples and their current struggles to build solidarity and unity in action.

6) Link and build the base of the movement to other in other sites: schools, neighborhoods, & workplaces, so we keep spreading and involve more sectors of society.

 

For now, “OccupyUSA” is the most important social movement of the day in theU.S.A.It is happening in the midst of a strong general offensive against the working-class. At the same time, there are important reconfiguration and mobilization processes happening within the organized labor movement:  for example, the 60,000 health care workers acrossKaiserHospitalinCaliforniawere on strike September 21-23.

As the occupation movement grows and spreads to Labor unions, the non-profits and other sectors, the movement must be cautious of the ability of bureaucrats from these sectors to strangle the functioning of the occupations.

In addition, as the 2012 presidential elections are around the corner, Democratic Party and their allies – union bureaucrats, non-profits, and the like – will try to channel the occupation movement into electoral solutions and away from strikes and occupations. This was the fate of theWisconsinmobilizations of early 2011 whose leadership (composed of the aforementioned sectors) removed the possibility of a real reverse of the cuts and the legislation by not organizing a General Strike and instead doing the recall process.

What is clear is that the American youth and workers have once again entered into the scene of class-struggle. Although the occupation movement’s political consciousness is uneven and unclear, it may evolve into the strikes and actions that the rest of the world has been experiencing since the 2008 Great Recession. Likewise, though the U.S.is late to the game, we have the advantage of learning from the battles that our brothers and sisters faced recently, like the March 15th Movement of Spain, the Arab Spring and the Chilean student protests.

OccupyLA, OccupyOakland, OccupyBoston, and others have just begun. And time is running against the occupations movement and the sectors it seeks to represent: the youth, workers and unemployed (i.e. the 99%). During the start of OccupyWallSt there was the possibility that the movement would not gain the momentum needed and would immediately collapse. Thankfully the protesters that were led by the youth in N.Y. stayed the course for the first lackluster days and showed the people the way. We must look forward to this patience and commitment spreading across the nation.

However, the present leadership that continues to dominate this movement must be challenged, both in the realm of democratic organization and independence from elected officials (i.e. class independence); this will create the foundation needed to develop the independent and militant character of OccupyUSA. Otherwise, the movement risks being politically short-sighted, co-opted, and eventually buried.

 

We Need an Alternative to Wall Street and Capitalism

The “OccupyUSA” movement is an expression of an anti-capitalist sentiment of the people but it lacks firm political direction. Thus the movement must be cautious of co-optation from Obama and other Democrats as they are taking advantage of the void; they are now saying they understand the sentiment of the occupations movement and some are saying they support and are fighting for the 99%. [3] This hypocritical stance ignores the fact that Obama and his Democrats are tied to Wall Street and its big banks & corporations; they are funded and enact the policies of these sectors.

They got us in this economic mess and the only way out will be possible if all youth, workers, and oppressed peoples unite and exercise their power to withdraw their labor, stop “business as usual”, and hit the banks, corporations and ruling elite where it counts. Furthermore, the movement must spread to labor unions, non-unionized workers, youth, unemployed, and oppressed peoples everywhere.

Occupy Wall Street is sowing the seeds that will allow Americans to mobilize a mass fight-back. In order for OccupyUSA to make a big step, it must mobilize around demands that unite the 99% and clearly express their interest:

– Jobs, Free Public Education, & Universal Healthcare for all,

– Tax the Wealthy! End Foreclosures, Take Back the Bailout Funds & Nationalize the Banks!

– No to Wars and Imperialist Occupations of other Countries!

– End the Prison Industrial Complex! End Police Brutality!

– Legalization for all Immigrants!

The OccupyUSA movement must lay the foundation for a mass movement that demands an alternative to a system based on profit, one that can meet everyone’s basic human needs. In order to be rid of the exploitation and oppression they face, the working class and oppressed people will have to take power into their own hands – and away from big business and the financial elite. Only with worldwide socialism and with workers democracy will we be able to have a world that is democratically run by and for the vast majority of people.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

[1] In general, one of the factors that have led to the bureaucratic facilitation of general assemblies has been the use of consensus (i.e. 100% of people have to vote yes on decisions.) and its use to silence minority views. Consensus makes it easier for a person to paralyze a meeting and makes it difficult for the majority of peoples’ opinion to be realized. What preserves the democratic character of a meeting is the right of any participant to speak, express their opinions and/or make proposals. The participant should be not be coerced verbally, through gestures or the use of podium; they should have the same amount of time to talk as everyone else. Each individual can have whichever opinion they have but it will be the self-governing assembly who then votes and decides. Therein lays the true democratic nature of a meeting.

[2] Some occupation’s (for example, OccupyLA) organizers have built a harmful relationship with the police. They are spreading the idea that the police are our friends and will protect the occupations if we follow their rules and directions. These organizers also check the “legality” of their occupation’s activities with the police. This relationship ignores the fact that the police are the arm of the state and only listen to their bosses. Furthermore, as some Occupations show (i.e. WallSt,Boston, andSeattle), the police has been deceiving, beating, & arresting occupiers. Thankfully some occupiers are trying to change this relationship to the police and educate others on police brutality.

[3] Lucy Madison, “Obama: ‘Occupy Wall Street’ reflects ‘broad-based frustration'”, http://www.cbsnews.com 10/6/11

On the 71st anniversary of Comrade Leon Trotsky’s martyrdom

– Aayan Golzar

There is an oft quoted phrase that, “You can jail the revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution. You can kill the freedom fighter but you can’t kill the fight for freedom”. On the 71st anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination, these words ring more true than ever. All over the world today, there are revolutionary mobilizations breaking out, fromIndia in the east, through the Arab world tillEurope in the west. Not even the great citadel of world imperialism that is theUSA is spared the growing wrath of its working class who has now emerged after decades of hibernation. The Wisconsin struggle is indicative of just that! Though the great revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky was martyred on this day in 1940, his ideas remain an inspiration and the revolutionary spirit which he and the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin, had ignited in 1917, remain strong and immortal. Though Comrade Trotsky is no longer with us in body, he is with us in spirit, and his spirit lives in the multitudes that have come out in struggle all over the world.

71 years ago on this day in the year 1940, an agent of the NKVD assassinated Leon Trotsky, who was then the leader of the 4th international which he had founded merely a year before. The attack was made under Stalin’s orders and was part of his plan to destroy the last remaining great Bolshevik leader of the Russian revolution. This move was aimed at simultaneously destroying the 4th international internationally and paving the way for the continuance of the Stalinist counter revolution in the USSR. Even though the Stalinist bureaucracy succeeded in its immediate aims, they could not hold back the rising tide of world revolution world over. The Soviet Union would have long been destroyed by the policies of the Stalinists who were in bed with the likes of Hitler before the 2nd world war.  Throughout the decade of the 1930s the bureaucracy carried out a systematic purge of the best officers of the Red Army and subjected it to the most insidious kind of corruption. The trend of undermining the Soviet Union reached a high point with Stalin signing the Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler. This led to the Soviet Union lowering its guard against the Nazis and letting the German war machinery literally roll over Eastern Europe up to Russia’s border. But despite all of this the workers state withstood the force of reaction. The Red Army which Comrade Trotsky had created for the defense of the Russian revolution and to fight through the civil war ultimately prevailed. With the victory of the Soviet Union and the expansion of the Russian revolution throughout Eastern Europe, the peoples of Asia rose up in struggle and overthrew the rule of the bourgeois in China, Vietnam and Korea within the same decade of the 40s. In India the workers and peasants were able to throw out the British colonialists, due in no small part to the efforts of the BLPI *(The Indian section of the 4th international) who led the naval mutiny. All of these victories were achieved despite of the hardcore counter-revolutionary leaderships the working class and its allies got throughout Asia and Europe. Even though the organization of revolution and that of the 4th international was undermined by severe repression from the forces of counter revolution, be it from imperialism, Stalinism or Fascism, the forces of Bolshevism under the 4th international fought for the world revolution and held high the banner of a Socialist revolution.

Many would be quick to point out the collapse of the 4th international in the decades to follow the 2nd world war and the continued existence of Bolshevism as a ‘fringe’ in the spectrum of the left, to mock and undermine the great sacrifice of Trotsky, and Bolsheviks world over. For them the notion of victory itself is so narrow that they could never comprehend of the high principled beliefs of Bolshevik revolutionaries’ world over. Our victory is not the victory of the party alone, nor of the 4th international or one of its sections winning an election. Bolshevism triumphs when the working class triumphs. The triumph of Bolshevism is the triumph of revolution. The True victory of Bolshevism is the victory of the revolutionary proletariat and its allies in achieving Socialism. Where ever there is a struggle for Socialism, there will be the forces of Bolshevism actively working towards aiding that struggle. Where ever there is the revolutionary proletariat, there will stand the 4th international and the force of Bolshevism fighting to lead it towards revolution. We are led in spirit by the principles of Bolshevism which were expressed through the work of Leon Trotsky and the sacrifices he and the Bolsheviks made for the World Socialist revolution. The principles of revolutionary internationalism, of worker’s democracy, and the permanent revolution!

The greatest obstacle as comrade Trotsky had pointed out in the transitional programme was that of absence of revolutionary leadership. This is truer than ever in this century. Our supreme task today presents itself in rebuilding the shattered organization of the world party of revolution that is the 4th international. On this 71st anniversary of Comrade Leon Trotsky’s martyrdom, let us all make a pledge to hold high the banner of revolutionary struggle and join in whole heartedly to the task facing us, that of rebuilding the 4th international !

Long live Leon Trotsky!

Long live Bolshevism!

Onwards to the Permanent Revolution!

Rebuild the 4th international!