National Sections of the L5I:

Third congress: Building the LRCI

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Fifty delegates from eight countries, spanning three continents, met near Prague last month at the
Third Congress of the League for a Revolutionary Communist International. Dave Stockton reports
on the Congress and below we print a summary of the International Political and Economic
Perspectives passed by the Congress.

Fifty delegates from the eight national sections of the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) met near Prague in early August. The LRCI’s Third Congress, which took place over eight days, marked an important development for the LRCI. It showed that on the major political issues which have dominated the last period, and in particular those related to the historic collapse of Stalinism, the LRCI is unified around a common method of analysis. We are united on the practical conclusions of this analysis for our perspectives and the practical work of the sections.

This was a major advance. The Second Congress, held in December 1991, had not shown such a degree of unity. Important differences were revealed on the tactics adopted by the League during the Yanaev coup in August 1991. A “fraternal” group of the League (the RTT of the United States) had launched a factional attack on the leadership of the League in the months before the Congress and had worked for a split.

Furthermore, important differences had been revealed both within and between the sections over exactly how democratic centralism should function at an international level, and what it meant in practice to have an international leadership. The Second Congress was only able to adopt two documents (a balance sheet of our work and perspectives for the next period) and to elect an international leadership.

Nevertheless, the Second Congress did set the goal of further uniting and politically homogenising the League. We had to analyse and develop a programmatic response to the restoration process and the ascendancy of neo-liberalism, develop a common understanding of party building under very different national conditions, and reach a common approach to the tactic of the united front. We were determined to do so by the Third Congress. The results of the Third Congress have amply justified our commitment to these tasks.

All the documents and issues on the agenda of the Third Congress were completed.

On the previously contentious issue of the democratic centralist structures of the LRCI, enormous progress was registered. A new constitution was adopted with near unanimity. The new International Executive Committee and International Secretariat of the League can now turn to the new tasks that face us, tasks accurately pinpointed by the Congress itself.

This does not mean that there are no differences within our tendency—this could and should not be the case in a genuinely democratic and developing organisation. A series of debates at the Congress revealed minorities of varying sizes on a number of questions.

The Congress passed a new Chapter 5 of the Trotskyist Manifesto, the LRCI’s international programme, replacing the previous section, which dealt with the struggle against Stalinism, with a new section outlining the LRCI’s action programme and tactics for the degenerated workers’ states in the process of capitalist restoration. A small minority of delegates registered differences on the changes and developments to our programme on the national question, the use of democratic demands and tactical attitudes to restorationist forces.

A larger minority registered their opposition to the LRCI’s analysis of the character of the bureaucratic-military state machine in the degenerate workers’ states, whether the state form in the workers’ states could be called bourgeois and needs to be smashed by the proletariat in the political revolution. This was the culmination of an extensive debate in the ten or so internal bulletins produced throughout the pre-congress discussion period. It produced a clear majority reaffirming the existing position embodied in the Degenerated Revolution (published by Workers Power and the Irish Workers Group in 1982).

The new Chapter 5 of the Trotskyist Manifesto will appear shortly in the seven languages in which the Manifesto has already been published.

Another debate took place around the exact formulation of the LRCI’s slogan calling for a new International. A small minority were of the view that this meant the refoundation of the Fourth International, and a larger minority considered this meant fighting for the foundation of a fifth International. A substantial majority however voted to maintain our existing call for a new Leninist-Trotskyist International, in which the final “number” will be decided in struggle.

The Congress passed an extensive International Perspectives document, a summary of whose conclusions is printed here.

The Third Congress also adopted a resolution on The growth of fascism and the far right in Europe. Differences had been revealed on the exact nature of certain far-right parties in Europe that are not overtly fascist or which lack some of the classic features of fascism. The debate over these differences led to the adoption of the term “fascist front parties” for those organisations like the German DVU and the French FN with an inner core of fascist cadres and leaders but which for the time being concentrate heavily on electoralism based on racist and anti-immigration themes.

In the aftermath of the Congress, a small minority of members of the Austrian section have resigned from the LRCI. Their differences lie with the international political perspectives of the League and the tasks it has set itself. These comrades combined pessimism about the perspectives for the class struggle with a passive propagandist approach to party building.

Their resignation is in addition a retreat into national isolation. It is a pity to lose these comrades, who had shown considerable talent in the youth work of the League. But the Austrian section, the Gruppe ArbeiterInnenstandpunkt (Workers’ Standpoint), is determined to maintain this work and to show that theoretical and propaganda tasks can only be properly carried out in an organisation that takes advantage of every avenue to put its theory into practice.

Finally Congress passed both a self critical Balance Sheet of the LRCI’s work over the last three years and a plan of work for the coming period. This document, Perspectives for Building the League, outlines an ambitious but realistic set of tasks.

The Congress set the goal of significant growth over the next few years by means of an orientation to new layers of youth being drawn into struggle. These are being mobilised by the growing discrediting and bankruptcy of neo-liberalism, against the rise of racist and reactionary forces. Meanwhile the leaderships of the official labour movement fail to launch a fightback to recover ground lost in the late eighties and early nineties. The LRCI must also take advantage of the crisis of the larger of the centrist organisations with claims to Trotskyism, winning serious cadres who are beginning to question the political and organisational degeneration of their tendencies.

The League has set itself major theoretical tasks over the next period, particularly in the field of political economy. We will continue and intensify major work on the nature of the latest phase of imperialist development. We will have to develop an in-depth theory of capitalist crisis, examining the nature of the major imperialist blocks and their rivalry. We will attempt to analyse more thoroughly the economic crisis of the degenerate workers’ states which led to their downfall, the nature of bureaucratic planning and the implications of the whole Stalinist experience for the democratic planning of a healthy workers’ state.

The Congress elected a new International Executive Committee and appointed international commissions to co-ordinate the LRCI’s interventions into Latin America and Eastern Europe, work amongst women and youth, and work in the trade unions.

The conduct and outcome of the Third Congress proved that our quest for fundamental homogeneity as an international organisation, overcoming the different national traditions inherited from the various centrist organisations from which our sections originated, has been successful.

This has been achieved without creating political monolithism or weakening democratic debate.

The Congress itself was testimony to the vitality of our international tendency. Delegates from three continents, working on documents and amendments in four languages and drawing on widely differing experiences in the class struggle, managed to complete their work, enriching their own political culture and that of the entire organisation.

The LRCI is determined to go forward, despite the defeats and retreats suffered by the workers’ movements in many of the countries where our comrades are active. The Congress leaves us better equipped, programmatically and organisationally, to fulfil our goal of building a new Revolutionary Communist International.