National Sections of the L5I:

Politics of the ITO: No answer to USFI’s crisis

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

The existence of an International Trotskyist Opposition (ITO) within the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI) must appear encouraging to those members of the USFI who have watched for years as their leaders steadily abandoned more and more Trotskyist and Leninist positions.

The disorientation and disintegration of the USFI reveal the need for a struggle to win the best elements to Trotskyism and away from the adaptation to, or dissolution into, various left Stalinist, reformist and Maoist organisations or petit bourgeois movements.

What does the ITO offer to militants within the USFI who want to reverse this abandonment of Trotskyism? In 1992 the grouping was launched following the coming together of a number of oppositional tendencies. Some of these, like the comrades of the Faction for a Trotskyist International, have been distinct, organised oppositions for many years. Others, such as the French comrades, had recently moved to the left.

Already the ITO has attracted interest around the world, as the collapse of Stalinism reveals the depth of the bankruptcy of the USFI leadership. At one level, the launch of the ITO clearly corresponded a felt need amongst the best militants of the USFI.

But the answer provided by the ITO to the crisis of the USFI is insufficient, both polemically and programatically. At its founding conference it adopted a “Declaration of Principles” which it will use in its tendency struggle within the USFI. Although the document ranges from the historic necessity of socialism to the need for a world party of the proletariat it is not, as claimed in the “Draft declaration of tasks of the ITO” adopted at the same meeting, “a programme . . . for the political regeneration and organisational reconstruction of the Fourth International”.

From principles to adaptation
The ITO’s founding document is precisely a “Declaration of Principles”. The differences with the programmatic documents of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky are striking. The ITO deliberately advances positions that are vague and empty of programmatic content. Most of them are deliberately so anodyne and abstract that virtually any self-respecting “Trotskyist” could agree with them. After all, who could oppose “the aim of the Trotskyist party is to win hegemony over the masses in action”, a criticism of “socialism in one country” or the call for “unification on the programmatic bases of Bolshevism of the forces of the vanguard of the proletariat”? But despite this carefully crafted catalogue of truisms there are a number of positions which reveal a systematic streak of opportunism.

The Declaration argues for the building of non-proletarian mass movements of the oppressed and exploited, “mobilising not only the proletariat but also the non-proletarian oppressed and middle layers”. It argues that revolutionaries “must fight against the petty-bourgeois (or sometimes bourgeois) leaderships of these movements, struggling for proletarian leadership of the non-proletarian mass movements.”

Whilst this is better than the equivalent section in previous versions of the document (partly as a result of our polemics) it is still flawed and mistaken.

We agree that oppression of women, lesbians and gay men, youth etc exists in all classes, and that petit bourgeois and even bourgeois elements will be drawn into struggle around their oppression, but we do not draw the same conclusions as the Declaration. The ITO documents says that “They (non-proletarian mass movements - WP) are therefore continually brought into conflict with the capitalist class and its state.”

This is an adaptation to petit bourgeois “movementism”, to the idea that such movements - be they the peace movements of the early 1980s or the women’s movement of the 1970s - are “objectively anti-capitalist” or have an “anti-capitalist dynamic”.

Bourgeois and petit bourgeois women, or other oppressed sectors, while facing real oppression under capitalism, do not have the same interests as proletarian and poor peasant women in emancipation through working class revolution. Their interests are not solely, nor primarily, determined by their oppression, but rather by their relationship to production, by their class position.

Of course the best oppressed individuals within the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie may be ideologically convinced of the need to struggle for socialism to overcome oppression. But this is not the same as arguing that their struggle against oppression will automatically bring them into conflict with capitalism in the state.

That this is not an isolated “poor formulation” but part of a wrong method is shown by the section on the “anti-imperialist united front”. The comrades reject the “revisionist” idea that “it is possible to establish anti-imperialist untied fronts with the national bourgeoisie of an oppressed country”, arguing that only petit-bourgeois nationalist parties or organizations can be partners in such a front. The only kinds of agreement which are permitted with the national bourgeoisie are “limited practical agreements”. But surely, comrades, that is a united front!

The ITO clearly suggest that something other than “limited practical agreements” are possible with “petit-bourgeois national parties”, in the name of the “anti-imperialist united front”. This is opportunism masquerading as orthodoxy. Call them what you will: the only kinds of agreements which are possible with forces of other classes are precisely “limited practical agreements”. Anything else - such as an electoral bloc or a common organisation - will inevitably lead to a confusion of banners, to an opportunist adaptation of the revolutionary programme to that of the alien class forces.

As with the section on oppression, the comrades around the FTI have changed their formulations over the years in reaction to our criticisms. But the fundamental methodological error resists all re-drafting, for the simple reason that this is what the comrades believe. Their cross-class “movementism” in the imperialist countries goes hand in hand with leaving the door open to an unprincipled “united front” in anti-imperialist struggles.

Denunciation is not enough
Oppositionists within the USFI will agree with the ITO on the need to resolve the political crisis in the Fourth International, which according to them includes two elements: “political revisionism and organisational dispersion”. To rally people within and outside of the USFI (the ITO directs its appeal to the whole “world Trotskyist movement”) it is necessary to explain exactly what the errors of the existing USFI leadership are and have been, how these can be understood in relationship to the degeneration of the revolutionary tradition of the FI, and what would have been the correct positions to have fought for in key events of the class struggle.

This approach is important not for reasons of “revolutionary purity” or in order to insult the USFI leadership, but because without a clear diagnosis of the errors, the necessary prescription for regenerating Trotskyism cannot be determined.

Many oppositionists within the FI, and certainly many opposing groups who claim adherence to Trotskyism, will agree that the USFI is indeed marked by political revisionism and organisational dispersion. Many will also agree with the ITO when it states, “The problem is that for decades the leadership of the FI, in part for subjective, in part for objective reasons, has not been able to build the International and strengthen it politically and organisationally enough so that it could become a mass Fourth International”, and that there is a need to launch “a struggle against the deepening revisionism of the majority leadership of the USFI”.

But will all the oppositionists - or even all the members of the ITO - agree on which particular positions, interventions or perspectives and on which bit of the leadership over the years were revisionist? Was it the belief that the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution installed some kind of “workers’ government”? Was it the entry into the British Labour Party and the attempted creation of a class struggle left wing with left reformist forces? Was it the support for and attempted fusion with ex-Communist Party members around Pierre Juquin in France? Was it the description of Cuba as a workers’ state, not degenerate but merely needing some reforms? Or was it the USFI position on the USSR in the Gorbachev years which called for a “deeper glasnost”? Or the total adaptation to Solidarnosc, including its pro-imperialist leadership? Or all of the above?

And if the USFI leadership(s) were wrong over, for example Nicaragua, what was the revolutionary position? Could revolutionaries have given any support to, or even entered the Sandinista government? Or in Poland how should revolutionaries have intervened around the mass movement led by Solidarnosc, and where would we have stood when Jaruzelski sent the troops in? Where would revolutionary Trotskyists have placed their forces during the August Coup in the Soviet Union?

Our purpose in raising these questions is not to go through the last 30 years of international class struggle and present the line of the LRCI alongside a critique of the USFI, but to point out that there are many different issues on which the USFI leadership has taken wrong positions, and also many interpretations of the “revolutionary” position. In the process of defeating the ideas and actions of the revisionist leadership of the USFI it is necessary to be precise in identifying errors and in providing alternative positions.

If all that was needed was a denunciation of the revisionism of the USFI leadership, then almost the whole of the left that has any adherence to Trotskyism, including a majority of the USFI, would join the ITO. Rectifying the errors and building “a mass Fourth International” on a revolutionary basis requires a serious accounting with the errors of the past, an understanding of the process of degeneration of the FI.

No criticism from the ITO
The “principles” put forward by the ITO contain neither a rounded critique of the USFI’s leadership or practice, nor any positions on the key issues that have divided those who regard themselves as Trotskyists over the past three decades. Without such clarity the “Declaration of Principles” remains an ineffectual statement of broad principles which fails to arm revolutionaries. The ITO’s only criticisms of the USFI leadership are the following:

“The International majority has for some time been progressively abandoning the perspective of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Now, in face of the fall of the Stalinist regimes and under pressure from the reformist leaderships - for example, the Lula leadership in the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) - it is abandoning the concept of the Leninist party as the essential political instrument of the proletariat in the struggle for socialism. This political break with Leninism, is reflected organisationally both in the dissolution of sections and, in those sections that remain, in an organisational regime in which the leaders do as they please and the members do as they please”.

“For a long time, there has been a tendency in the USFI to lose sight of the general value of the method (of the Transitional Programme - WP) as a system of intervention in the class struggle. There is a tendency to consider transitional demands simply as the ‘most radical’ demands that can be used when it is necessary to have a higher political profile. There is also a tendency to forget the general methodological importance of using transitional demands as a form of agitation, where the objective situation and our forces allow it. . . We also have to reject a method that has marked the policy of the USFI in the past, that is, the pretension that we can seize on one ‘anti-capitalist demand’ that has a unique and central value for our action in the class struggle.”

“For fifty years the Trotskyist movement has been under massive pressure from the Stalinists and reformists, and sections of it have adapted to the Stalinist conception of the united front as a policy of mixing banners, and even to the transformation of the united front into a popular front with directly bourgeois forces. In many cases, the small size of the Trotskyist organisations has intensified that pressure, as the organisation’s independent agitation has seemed so weak as to be ineffective. Often the adaptation has taken the form of turning the united front into an abstract general principle to which the organisation’s independent propaganda is sacrificed. A Trotskyist rejection of mixing banners is then characterised as ‘sectarian’. The Fourth International must make a decisive break from this adaptation and return to the Leninist policy of the united front as an agreement on concrete practical action, within which the participants put out their own propaganda and agitation.”

These timid criticisms of the leadership of the FI are broadly correct, so far as they go, but they hardly form a convincing or rounded analysis of decades of vacillation and misleadership. Nor are any examples of these crimes presented, as if making specific rather than general criticisms would cause offence - or reveal differences.

Even more striking is the fact that the “declaration” contains whole sections on the working class and permanent revolution, the need for independent revolutionary parties in all countries, the need for a democratic centralist international, the revolutionary struggle in the trade unions, centrism, the anti-imperialist united front, the workers’ government, oppression, the national question, the deformed workers’ states and war, and in each of these contains no critique of the disastrous centrist policies of the USFI!

Take the section on oppression, for example. The ITO makes a general statement about the necessity for the proletariat and its party to be a “tribune of the people” and champion the struggle of all the oppressed and exploited. Who could disagree? It goes on to argue for mass movements of the oppressed, including the statement “(Trotskyists) must fight against the petty-bourgeois (or sometimes bourgeois) leaderships of these movements, struggling for proletarian leadership of the non-proletarian mass movements”. It also calls for the creation of revolutionary caucuses where movements of the oppressed are under opportunist leaderships. There is not a word of criticism of the USFI’s practice on oppression!

There is no recognition that the USFI has taken key positions within the leadership of cross-class movements and used their positions to hound Trotskyists not only for organising “caucuses” but for daring to argue revolutionary class politics within these movements. The USFI leadership in Britain, for example, adapted to the petit bourgeois feminists all along on theory, organisation and politics. They became the hatchet women of the feminists, denouncing revolutionaries for the crime of fighting against the petit bourgeois leaderships and struggling for proletarian leadership.

How to fight against “Trotskyist” centrism
Perhaps the ITO consider that the positive principles they advocate are sufficient, or that they form a clever “hidden polemic” by arguing abstract positions that the USFI has clearly rejected in practice. If this is the idea behind the document’s method it is an inadequate, even dishonest, way of building an opposition. To rectify mistakes requires that they are identified, understood and the correct alternative debated out and agreed upon.

The USFI is a centrist organisation and has been since its inception in 1963. Composed of a reunification of most of the elements of the 1953 split in the Fourth International, the USFI has never broken with the centrism which marked the FI from 1951 onwards. It shares this characteristic with virtually all the various “Trotskyist” organisations which, through the many subsequent splits and fusions, have retained the fundamental centrist errors of this initial degeneration. We have written on this elsewhere, particularly in our book The Death Agony of the Fourth International and the Tasks of Trotskyists Today (Workers Power & Irish Workers Group, 1983). Before the errors of the present and recent FI leadership can be corrected, an understanding and agreement on the origins of this centrism within the FI is necessary.

To group together a new leadership capable of defeating the revisionists requires clarity of understanding of the degeneration of the FI, a sharp critique of the present leadership and a programme which deals with the necessary strategy and tactics in the class struggle at the moment. But the Declaration fails on all three counts. It neither provides a coherent critique of the USFI leadership, nor an evaluation of the degeneration of the FI nor, whilst purporting to be a programme, does it provide a guide to action in the current class struggle. It does state a number of “principles” of Trotskyism, but does not give them the level of detailed content necessary for the discussion of concrete situations.

A bit of history
The driving force behind the ITO is what used to be the Faction for a Trotskyist International, led by Franco Grisolia of the Italian section of the USFI. The method used by the ITO in its founding documents is that used by the comrades of the FTI to build their organisation over nearly 15 years. Indeed, not only the method is the same: the very document adopted by the ITO is an amended version of one first put forward in 1980!

At the end of 1979 the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC) was formed. It included within it the British Workers Socialist League (WSL), led by Alan Thornett (now in the USFI), the Bolshevik Leninist Group (GBL, later the LOR) of Italy, plus the RWL of the USA and the TAF of Denmark. As well as adopting the original version of the ITO “Declaration of Principles”, the TILC adopted a document called “The Transitional Programme in today’s class struggle”. It explicitly confined itself to revolutionary principles without any discussion of their tactical application. We were observers at the founding conference of the TILC, and we explained that this was a method of building an international tendency which would inevitably cover over real political differences, and would sooner or later lead to a split.

Three years later, we were proved right. The TILC’s founding documents, like those of the ITO, contained a formally correct position on any war between a semi-colony and imperialism, namely defeatism for the imperialist country and defencism with regard to the semi-colony. But at the first concrete test, the member organisations took different positions on the outbreak of war between Argentina and Britain over the Malvinas.

The abstract principles failed to help when it was revealed that the British section, having a different understanding not of general principles but of the specifics of, in this case, the “right to self determination” of colonial settlers, decided that this was the decisive feature. The British section took a defeatist position on both sides, whilst their comrades in the other sections correctly stood on the other side in the conflict and defended Argentina against imperialist aggression. The TILC split.

The non-Thornett TILC groupings subsequently set up the International Trotskyist Committee (ITC) with sections inside and outside of the USFI which in turn split; those inside the USFI (principally in Italy and Denmark) created the Faction for a Trotskyist International (FTI) which gained some more support (e.g. France). The FTI then helped to set up the ITO.

The ins and outs of all these splits are largely of interest only to archivists, but what is of fundamental importance is to understand why this method of regroupment is so wrong. For those who look to the ITO as a step forward in the USFI it is important to recognise how unstable and ultimately impotent tendencies built on such a basis are.

The problem with the ITO
The ITO is being built on the basis of broad agreement on principles which serve to cover up real differences of analysis, perspective and programme amongst its members. In addition, it is not clear in its critique of the USFI leadership.

The section of the document on the crisis of leadership defines as centrist organisations whose positions vacillate between reformism and Trotskyism, have not in general developed overt consistent counter-revolutionary activity, and with their opportunist policies constitute “a supplementary obstacle to the proletarian revolution”.

That definition fits the USFI very well, even according to the relatively mild critique in the Declaration. Yet the comrades stop short of applying the label to the organisation that they are seeking to reform. Why? This has long been the method of those within the USFI who seek to reform it from within. They regard it as having a leadership making serious errors, but not requiring the name centrist as this would perhaps frighten off USFI members from supporting the opposition and may even get them expelled from the USFI.

But regrouping a revolutionary vanguard to rescue revolutionary politics from the revisionism of the USFI and the other large FI fragments is a serious and urgent task. The Declaration itself suggests that the crisis of humanity is “in elemental form the crisis of the Fourth International”. Diplomacy, leading to a refusal to label the leadership centrist will only serve to confuse, not clarify. The “crisis of humanity” will continue.

Mandel is not about to read the ITO Declaration, recognise his errors and turn the USFI into a healthy International. He needs to be exposed as a misleader, as do all the other USFI leaders, majority and minority, for their role in miseducating thousands of young militants, and squandering opportunities for the working class and oppressed.

The reluctance to call the USFI centrist is not just a diplomatic nicety. It is based on a wrong understanding of revolutionary regroupment as outlined above, but also on a false idea about the fate of the FI and of Trotskyism.

The Declaration explicitly argues that the USFI is only a fragment of the FI, and argues “the need to develop the struggle for the political regeneration and organisational reconstruction of the Fourth International in all the trends of the world Trotskyist movement”.

This “FI” is clearly not the USFI, or it could not exist “in all trends of the world Trotskyist movement”. What is it then? Is it a programme which all the different fragments agree upon? Clearly not, since they all argue vociferously about what is wrong with the others. Is it the tradition of the revolutionary struggle against Stalinism in the 1930s? Partly, but to be of any practical use in today’s class struggle, the political lessons of 60 years ago need to be applied clearly and concretely. And that leads us back to the political differences which separate the myriad tendencies which claim to be Trotskyist.

Ernest Mandel thinks that the FI exists. He also thinks he leads it. Gerry Healy thought the same thing. Pierre Lambert and Nahuel Moreno did too. So too did Anibal Ramos and Michel Varga. There has hardly been a shortage over the years of groups claiming to be “the” FI. But no matter how crazy some of their ideas may have been, at least their versions of “the FI” were rooted in concrete reality: their own groups.

The FTI/ITO idea that the FI exists as a set of ideas, somewhere in the heads of scattered groups of Trotskyists across the six continents is a nonsensical myth, a metaphysical comforter for all those looking for an excuse not to break politically with one of its fragments.

The world Trotskyist movement, referred to at other times as “the world family of Trotskyism”, is a similar vague claim that there is something common to those whose centrism originates in the degeneration of the FI that distinguishes them from centrists from reformist or Stalinist traditions. Again this creates illusions in some kind of “special” form of centrism, and leads to the conclusion that revolutionary regeneration will necessarily occur through some regroupment of these dissident Trotskyist siblings. Indeed, the ITC/FTI used to peddle this kind of argument to explain that the USFI itself was a particularly healthy form of “centrism sui generis” as they called it.

We reject this argument. The centrism of groups that have their origins in the FI can be as right wing and disastrous for the working class as centrists of any origin. Revolutionaries need to make this clear, not promote the illusion that the USFI, or the LIT or any other “Fourth International” are a more progressive kind of centrism. A decisive break needs to made from both their organisations and politics to win militants to revolutionary Trotskyism. Where there are numbers of disaffected members a faction fight within the USFI is absolutely correct and necessary. But such a struggle must lead to a break with the existing USFI, recognising this will not be a process of steady reform but rather one of forcing a split with the inveterate centrist leaders.

In or out of the USFI?
What are the ITO’s perspectives? The Opposition’s documents are deliberately vague. The “organizational resolution” argues that their intervention in the USFI “will culminate in the struggle around the Fourteenth World Congress”. This clearly suggests that their work within the USFI could be over in 2 to 3 years.

But if this is the case - and this accusation has been used in factional attacks against ITO members, notably those around the JCR-Egalité in France by the majority of the USFI - why does the ITO refuse to clearly characterise itself as a faction?

In the history of Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism the terms faction and tendency have quite distinct meanings. A faction is a group of oppositionists who have a distinct platform from the leadership and are trying to replace the existing leadership. Trotsky’s struggle inside the CPSU and the Comintern in the late twenties and early thirties was a factional one. A tendency on the other hand is organised to change particular policies of the organisation, not overthrow a bankrupt leadership. Which is it to be?

The draft organisational resolution of the ITO explicitly states that it is a tendency. Its aims are “to conduct a tendency struggle in the USFI against the revisionist and liquidationist line of the International majority”. Does this mean that the comrades are agreed that the line can be changed without changing the leadership? If this is the case, it seems strange that one of the founding organisations of the ITO, indeed the originator of the call for the ITO, was the Faction for a Trotskyist International. As an open faction it was fighting to change the leadership.

It appears as if the members of the FTI have changed their position and agreed that a factional struggle is not necessary and a tendency will do. Or perhaps they just dropped the term factional in order to win broader support. This is no way to defeat revisionism inside the USFI or any other organisation. It is a refusal to take seriously and fight for the positions you believe in, and instead replace them with a diplomatic compromise to win wider influence but at the expense of fighting for your programme against the established leadership.

A consciously opportunist method
This is the fundamental method that the ex-TILC, ex-ITC and now ex-FTI members have been using for nearly 15 years. In addition to compromising over whether they need a factional or a tendency struggle, they are always keen to compromise on political positions rather than risk losing partners in their tendency. The vague statement of principles will appeal to many people but glosses over many real differences that exist among those that sign up to join the tendency.

A new revolutionary leadership, true to the positions of Lenin, Trotsky, the first four congresses of the Comintern and the founding documents of the FI, needs to be forged through common agreement on the principles, strategy and tactics of the class struggle. With agreement on programme, including key tactics, a new leadership can be built within the working class through practical intervention and defeating the centrist, reformist and nationalist alternative leaderships.

The TILC-ITC-FTI tradition has always rejected the idea that revolutionary regroupment needs to be on the basis of agreement on tactics as well as strategy and principles, arguing that tactics are somehow less fundamental. This is a serious error leading to the kind of compromise positions we see in the declaration.

This is clearest when we look at the key question of the last few years: the collapse of Stalinism. Not surprisingly, the Declaration says very little about the programme of revolutionaries in this situation. There are of course broad statements on the transitional nature of the economies and states, the need to defend social property and the call for a political revolution “of a special type”.

But the international workers’ movement has been thrown into disarray by the wave of political revolutionary crises which have swept Eastern Europe since 1989. The growth of democratic struggles in these states, the mass revolutionary uprisings against Stalinist repression in some of the states, and the ability of pro-imperialist and nationalist leaderships to come to the head of these movements, leading them to counter-revolution - all these developments have been testing the principles, strategies and tactics of all sectors of the labour movement, including self proclaimed Trotskyists. This has been the most important development of recent years, and if revolutionaries fail to analyse it correctly and develop the correct strategies they will be unable to build the mass international that the ITO claim to want.

The August coup in the USSR in 1991 was a key event. One wing of the bureaucracy staged a coup, and was resisted by another wing of the bureaucracy. Events like this in the midst of political and economic turmoil can be the spark for revolutions, counter-revolutions and the rapid development of political forces through struggle. Revolutionary internationalists must put forward a position on such events, we cannot throw up our hands and say - it’s a long way away and we are not sure what to say.

But the “declaration” says nothing. Perhaps they forgot? No, they did not forget since it was a point for discussion amongst those coming together to form the tendency. The reason it is missing is because the people within the ITO disagree. On the one hand the Grisolia supporters have a position of “we would have supported the coup if only the masses had supported it”, believing that it represented some kind of defence of the USSR against restorationists. Others argued for opposition to the coup and defence of the democratic gains made in the previous six years.

Staying silent on such an issue does not resolve the problem. It guarantees that the farce of the TILC’s collapse in the face of the war will be repeated. Were the August coup to happen tomorrow, the ITO would be completely split. It would either be reduced to silence or would see its different components putting forward positions which would, literally, put them on opposite sides of the barricades! And they deliberately chose not to confront this difference! This is hardly the mark of a serious revolutionary opposition. The ITO consciously sacrificed political clarity in the name of short-term organisational expediency.

Confronting such differences in an attempt to reach common agreement on programme can lead to the development of positions, to the welding together of a leadership around a common programme based on living struggles, to establishing a solid basis for revolutionary regroupment.

Why do we think that key tactics are so important? Having correct tactics for a strike, a campaign, a demonstration, a war, or a revolution will determine not only who will win, assuming your tactics are adopted, but will also demonstrate the correctness of revolutionary principles and strategy to workers in struggle. Tactics are not divorced or secondary issues, they are the focusing of and implementation of programme, and they are fundamental to winning leadership within the working class.

The wrong positions of centrist leaderships are often on tactical questions, but frequently signify an underlying methodological difference on points of strategy. Glossing over tactical differences will, in reality, also cover up differences over strategy. This is clearly the case with regard to the August coup and the ITO.

The development of an international opposition which claims to advance a revolutionary critique of the USFI is of great importance. The USFI continues to organise thousands of militants around the world, many of them subjective revolutionaries, increasingly revolted by the opportunism of their leaderships. The USFI majority leadership is aware of this, and at the moment the ITO is the subject of their factional attentions.

Yet the ITO does not represent a revolutionary alternative for critical members of the USFI. Over 15 years, the method employed by its founders has proved their inability to forge a new programme and a new organisation. The potential represented by those who have recently been attracted to the banner of the ITO will be wasted if the old method, which led to the shipwreck of the TILC and the wasted years of the ITC, is repeated.

Building a group around positions which are designed to cover up real political differences can hardly lead to a thoroughgoing fight for political clarification against the USFI leadership. If we can detect the political differences between the various components of the ITO from outside the USFI, you can be sure that the USFI majority will be able to do at least as much. The political differences concealed by the ITO will explode to the surface at the first real test of the international class struggle. Rather than being part of the answer to the “crisis of the Fourth International”, the leaders of the ITO are confirming their status as part of the problem.

We do not simply address a call to the comrades of the ITO to join the LRCI. Those of you who consider that we are right on any or all of these points but who think that your leaderships can be won over should raise your criticisms within your national sections and win your comrades away from their current method. The key task is to apply the method of Trotsky’s Transitional Programme to today’s class struggle and to fight for international revolutionary regroupment on a clear programmatic basis, devoid of diplomatic “no-go” areas and evasive centrist abstractions. That was Trotsky’s method in the 1930s; it should be our method today.