CWI the senility of right-wing centrism

Yossi Schwartz ISl (RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 24.01.2024

The committee for workers International has been a right-wing centrist for many years but it shows its senility in the war of Israel on Gaza when it openly rejected the anti-imperialist united front. The Russian revolution caused an upheaval of support in the backward colonial countries. Lenin took initiative to discuss the colonial theses at the 2nd Congress of the Third International (The Communist International).

“What is the most important, the fundamental idea of our theses? It is the difference between the oppressed and the oppressor nations … Imperialism is characterized by the fact that the whole world is now divided into a large number of oppressed nations and a very small number of oppressor nations that are enormously rich and strong in the military sense.

The enormous mass, more than 1,000 million, most probably 1,250 million, and thus if we estimate the population of the world at 1,750 million some 70 percent of the world population belong to the oppressed nations, which are either in direct colonial dependence, or appear as semi-colonial states like, for example, Persia, Turkey and China, or which, defeated by a great imperialist army, have fallen into marked dependency after the peace treaties.This idea of the difference between nations, their division into the oppressed and the oppressors runs through all the theses.” [1]

At that time the anti-colonial freedom movements were on the rise in India, China, Iran and Turkey among others. The question was whether the Communists should participate in them along with other parties and classes, particularly the bourgeoisie. This led to the famous Lenin-Roy controversy.

Lenin emphasized the need to participate in every democratic and national movement ‘wherever’ they occur, while at the same time maintaining the Communists’ independent role. But ‘independence’ did not mean rejecting the united front. It meant a more active role by the Communists for the broadest unity of the democratic forces against the common imperialist enemy.

The root of this tactic was the Russian revolution in the military United Front with Kerensky against the white general Kornilov without giving Kerensky political support.

Lenin developed the concept of an anti-imperialist united front as democratic national fronts for some basic tasks. He developed it further in his speech at the Congress of the Peoples of the East. He blasted the Communists of the colonies for trying to restrict the common front. At the 4th Comintern Congress (1922) the thesis on the Anti-Imperialist United front was adopted: “The workers’ united front is the slogan advanced in the West during the transition period, characterized by the organized gathering of forces. Similarly in the colonial East at the present time the key slogan to advance is the anti-imperialist united front. Its expediency follows from the perspective of a long-drawn-out struggle with world imperialism that will demand the mobilization of all revolutionary elements. This mobilization is made all the more necessary by the tendency of the indigenous ruling classes to make compromises with foreign capital directed against the fundamental interests of the mass of the people. Just as in the West the slogan of the workers’ united front has helped and is still helping to expose the social democrats’ sell-out of proletarian interests, so the slogan of an anti-imperialist united front will help to expose the vacillations of the various bourgeois-nationalist groups. This slogan will also help the working masses to develop their revolutionary will and to increase their class consciousness; it will place them in the front ranks of those fighting not only imperialism, but the remnants of feudalism” [2]

“The refusal of Communists in the colonies to take part in the fight against imperialist tyranny, on the pretext of their supposed ‘defense’ of independent class interests, is the worst kind of opportunism and can only discredit the proletarian revolution in the East. No less harmful, it must also be recognized, is the attempt to remain aloof from the struggle for the immediate everyday demands of the working class in the interests of ‘national unity’ or ‘civil peace’ with the bourgeois democrats. A dual task faces the Communist and workers’ parties of the colonial and semi-colonial countries: on the one hand, they are fighting for a more radical answer to the demands of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, directed towards the winning of national political independence; on the other hand, they are organizing the masses of workers and peasants to fight for their own class interests, making good use of all the contradictions in the nationalist bourgeois-democratic camp. By putting forward social demands, Communists will stimulate and release revolutionary energy which can find no outlet in liberal bourgeois demands” [3]

The CWI is one of the three currents of right-wing centrism that was established by Ted Grant (1913 – 2006)) the others are the IMT led by Woods and the ISA. Their opportunism was manifested during Trotsky’s life when the WIL led by Grant refused to enter the Fourth International over their strategy of working in the British Labor Party. During WWII Grant became the chief theoretician of the Workers’ International League, and later the Revolutionary Communist Party. The historic events of the period are fully covered, including the author’s personal recollections, and his role in the events in Grant ‘s book: History of British Trotskyism. He said in his book that he called the British imperialist eighth army, a workers’ army.

“From the reports of our soldier comrades, the Eighth Army soldiers were saying that after the war they would refuse to disarm, and return to Britain with their guns to ensure that things would change. This was the mutinous mood that was developing amongst these troops. At the 1943 conference of our tendency, I made the point, to illustrate the thing graphically, that the military establishment thought it was their army, but in fact, the soldiers of the Eighth Army were in rebellion. This reflected the revolutionary developments in the army. It was our Eighth Army in that it was being transformed. It was becoming revolutionary and in the process of moving over to the side of the working class” [4]

Thus, it is not a great surprise to learn that the CWI has not sided in the war of Israel on Gaza with Hamas, that it rejects the anti-imperialist United front and defends the perspective of two states. They write:

“At the time of writing 22,000 Palestinians are dead, even more are wounded and over 80% of the Gazan population displaced. What is the significance of any of this in the broader struggle for Palestinian national liberation and self-determination? Advancing towards this goal is the criteria against which all organizations and their methods, ideologies, programs, strategies and tactics must be judged. This article will explain why the 7 October attack was not a step forward” [5]

“The Palestinian working class must place itself in the leadership of the liberation struggle as the only way to advance the Palestinian people toward the goal of national liberation and self-determination. The Hamas-led 7 October attack, despite initial support for it, did nothing to raise the working class’s understanding of its central role in the struggle for national liberation and self-determination, nor point towards the urgent and fundamental task of building independent class organizations. In its brutal methods the attack has reinforced national and religious divisions between the Palestinian and Israeli working classes. The 7 October attack has therefore failed to advance the Palestinian liberation struggle in any way. Rather, it confirms the deep impasse the struggle is mired in” [6]

The Israeli ruling-class will again discover that it is impossible to militarily destroy the Palestinian’s national aspirations. A new generation of Palestinians will emerge to pick-up the baton of struggle, wherever it falls. There will be a search, across the region, to understand how the threshold of disaster was crossed yet again. The brutalizing new experiences will force a questioning of old assumptions and certainties. The history of the liberation struggles up to this point will be re-examined. They must discover the ideas of Marxism and be won to a class solution to national oppression which means the struggle for a socialist Palestine and Israel, in a socialist Middle East and a socialist world.” [7]

To make sure that the imperialists will understand how useful for them is the CWI they also published an old article on the 1973 war where they wrote: “As in 1967, the war in the Middle East has shown all the sects to be incapable of taking a firm class position. Without exception, some more openly than others, they have come down on the side of the ‘the Arabs against the Zionists’. Those who accuse us of ‘abstractions’ themselves sin the most on this score” [8]

The article attacks the IS and all those who stood with the Arab non imperialist states against Israel the apartheid imperialist state: “But even a ten-year-old child can see that the greater the external threat to Israel the more the Israeli working class is driven into the arms of its own capitalist class. At the same time the IS, in common with all the sects, fail to demonstrate precisely why and how ‘victory’ for the Arab regimes will further the socialist revolution in the Middle East” [9]

The CWI had the same position in the Malvinas war when they refused to side in the war with Argentina a non-imperialist state against imperialist Britain on the ground that the regime in Argentina is reactionary.

Trotsky replied to this reactionary position long ago:

I am not sufficiently acquainted with the life of the individual Latin American countries to permit myself a concrete answer on the questions you pose. It is clear to me at any rate that the internal tasks of these countries cannot be solved without a simultaneous revolutionary struggle against imperialism. The agents of the United States, England, France (Lewis, Jouhaux, Toledano, the Stalinists) try to substitute the struggle against fascism for the struggle against imperialism. We have observed their criminal efforts at the recent congress against war and fascism. In the countries of Latin America, the agents of “democratic” imperialism are especially dangerous, since they are more capable of fooling the masses than the open agents of fascist bandits.

I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semi fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to the national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers” [10]

Down with the Zionist apartheid imperialist state!

For Palestine red and free from the river to the sea!


[1] Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International, Fourth Session, 25 July 1920

[2] Fourth Congress of the Communist International Theses on the Eastern Question

5 December 1922

[3] Ibid

[4] Grant, Ted (9 July 2002). “[Book] History of British Trotskyism”. In Defense of Marxism. Retrieved 2023-02-01


[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid


[9] Ibid

[10] Leon Trotsky Anti-Imperialist Struggle Is Key to Liberation

An Interview with Mateo Fossa (September 1938)

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