Summary of the ISL-LRP split

We live in a revolutionary period brought about by the worst historical and economical crisis of the world capitalist system since 1929. The capitalist system is a fetter on the forces of production, already demanding a world planned socialist economy. The capitalists, as usual, are trying to force the working class, the peasants, the lower middle class and the poor to pay for their system’s failure.

We have entered a period of imperialist wars, fascism and revolution. The working class and the masses in Greece, Britain, Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries are fighting back heroically. However, the lack of working class revolutionary leadership has prevented the struggle so far from overthrowing the bourgeoisie. However, the action committees that have appeared in various countries, these embryonic Soviets, already suggest to the working class the need to take power. The lack of revolutionary leadership means that we can expect setbacks as well as the renewal of the same struggles on higher level. In these struggles, learning from experience, the working class vanguard will learn the need to form a revolutionary leadership.

We, as revolutionary Marxists, are dedicated to building such a revolutionary fighting Communist International by participating in these struggles using the Leninist tactic of the united front. This means that we join every struggle of the workers and oppressed which can further the cause of revolution, even on minimum (reformist) demands, while combining the demands for reforms with the transitional demands which bridge between the demands of the masses and the proletarian revolution.

In 2007 we were expelled from the centrist IMT led by Alan Woods because we demanded to defend the Hamas government, without giving Hamas any political support, against the Palestinian PA backed by imperialist Israel. The IMT, with its strategy of deep entry into reformist parties and pandering to, among others, the left bureaucracy of the Trade Union Congress in Britain, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the Cuban counter-revolutionary Stalinists, and the PPP in Pakistan, was forced to expel us, especially given then PPP leader Bhutto’s overtures to US imperialism and rivalry with the Muslim League.

After we were expelled from the IMT, we were looking for similar organizations to us in the world. We understood that it is impossible to build a revolutionary party in this or any country in isolation. It seemed to us that the US League for Revolutionary Party was the closest group to us.

When we first contacted the LRP, we were struck by three rare qualities that it seemed to us the LRP possessed: a firm grasp of Marxist theory, integrity, and an ability to combine these two qualities with work in mass movements and organizations. We read and studied their literature and it seems very good. What we failed to understand already then is why, while the LRP was able to write sophisticated articles on political theory, as well as an impressive book, “The Life and Death of Stalinism”, up to the late 80s, it has not been able to develop the Marxist theory since. As Comrade Eli Marcus wrote,

“The LRP had some very thought-out and sophisticated articles on political theory: “No Draft is No Answer”, “Was Trotsky A Pabloite?”, “Death Agony of a Deformed Theory”, “Propaganda and Agitation”, and “Myth and Reality of the Transitional Program” are probably the most significant ones. The problem? The most recent of these articles (Prop. and Agit.) is from 1998, and most date back to the early 80s and late 70s. The only book you have ever published is from 1989. Is this not unbelievable? Can an organization which claims to be Marxist afford to not develop its political theory for 15 years (and that’s if we’re being gracious – otherwise, it would be closer to 30)? We urged you, pleaded you, over the last few weeks, to join us in studying once more dialectical materialism and the Marxist method. Have you listened? Have you even addressed this concern? No. Apparently, today’s LRP neither needs nor desires political theory. Centrism never does. Political theory interferes with one’s attempts not to offend people who hold reactionary positions like refusing to defend the Islamist rebels in Mali and supporting the NPA position on this question.

The LRP used to do a lot of union work, anti-war work, etc. We have heard and read about some incredibly bold and commendable actions that you took
in the past, most recently during the strike of 2005, when you called for a strike despite intense pressure from the union bureaucracy and threats from the state. But today you seem to be involved in nothing. You join protests, but you never take part in organizing them. You limit yourself to criticism.”

In other words, we were blinded by the past of the LRP and mistook the degenerated organization that existed already when we first began our contacts for it. This mistake was the result of the tendency for consciousness to drag behind reality. The motion back in the class struggle in the US, among other places, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and East Europe, dragged the left-centrist LRP backwards, causing it to desert the Leninist tactic of the united front, without which it is impossible for Marxists to penetrate forms and understand reality through revolutionary action. It was not by chance that the dispute between the ISL and the LRP took place in a time of a reawakening of mass struggles.

We were aware of certain problems with the LRP, especially organizational ones, but we hoped that with the rise of the class struggle in the US the LRP will be forced to change and become a revolutionary working class organization. However, our hopes were really illusions. In this revolutionary period the LRP is politically paralyzed. In spite of the fact that for six years we worked closely with the LRP, issued joint statements and published articles on their website, we did not form a common tendency based on democratic centralism – the revolutionary working class form of organization. Still, we believed that we would be able to form a common tendency. In reality, while our common work pushed the LRP to the left, the LRP influence pushed us to become an abstract propaganda group – a move to the right.

But then came the French imperialist war on Mali, one of the poorest counties in the world, with gross super exploitation of the working class and natural resources (Gold, Uranium), that enables the imperialists to make huge profits while the Malian masses suffer from extreme poverty and are oppressed by the local bourgeois agents of imperialism. This war, part of the decay of capitalism, led to a political and theoretical struggle between the ISL and the LRP. Prior to Mali, we criticized the LRP for not developing their members and for not coming with a statement on Syria for two years. Nor was the LRP able to produce a world revolutionary perspective as was promised for long time. The lack of a working class revolutionary outlook forced them to see the world as if made up of disconnected fragments, and thus made them unable to produce a revolutionary world perspective.

The sharp political struggle began soon after the French invasion. The LRP was clearly unable to come out with a statement in defense of the Islamists without giving them political support. The leaders of the LRP kept promising to do so, but did not come through. Finally, we lost our patience and posted our short statement on the war. This forced the LRP leaders to post their own statement in defense of the Islamists to cover up for weeks of paralysis. In their posted statement they gave a degree of political support to the MNLA, which we opposed. In their statement they also failed, as did we, to support the Tuareg right of self-determination. However, we corrected this mistake subsequently; they did not change their position in their next statement on Mali.

This struggle with the LRP pushed us to finally understand that the LRP’s method is rooted in pragmatism rather than dialectical materialism. It pushed us to study once again various aspects of Marxism, for example, dialectical materialism and the method of the united front, which contrary to the LRP, was designed to be applied by all communist groups, not only mass parties.

During this debate, comrade Yossi Schwartz developed a critique the LRP’s book. As Marx explained, the class nature of a state is determined by the mode of production, including the relationships of production. The state apparatus (army, police, courts, jails) is part of the superstructure – the surface expression of the mode of production. Different types of states can be based on the same mode of production. A clear example is Nazi Germany, where the bourgeois-democratic Weimar Republic, established by the Social Democrats, was replaced with the Nazi State, which in turn was also replaced with a bourgeois-democratic state, with the base remaining all the while capitalist and imperialist. In his book, Walter claims that the Soviet Stalinists were, until 1936-9, centrists which lead the way to socialism. In reality, the Stalinist party was already by 1928 a bureaucratic centrist party and a block on the road to socialism that had to be removed by political revolution, becoming a counterrevolutionary party by 1934. Had the LRP existed in the 1920s and the 1930’s, they would defend Stalinism until 1936 against the revolutionary communist opposition led by Trotsky. Comrade Yossi concluded that the former Soviet Union was a counterrevolutionary workers state, a position that eventually came to be shared by the rest of the ISL.

For the LRP, this is a terrible violation of their lofty abstract principles. During the struggle, while we in the ISL demanded that the LRP adopt the Marxist method of historical and dialectical materialism as part of our attempt to win back at least part of the LRP, the organization refused to change their pragmatist method and simply ignored our demands. Failing to understand the Leninist tactic of the united front, which aims to mobilize the working class and the masses in concrete struggles while enabling revolutionaries to expose the betrayals of the leaders of the centrist and reformist groups and parties, the LRP tried to split us on the Russian question, on which we still did not come to an agreement at the time.

The LRP promised that we will produce a common internal bulletin by March 1st. In reality, the bulletin was produced them alone. According to their leaders, they sent it by air mail rather than by e-mail, in spite of our protests – nearly a month later, it has yet to reach us. This was another manifestation of their bureaucratic centralist form of organization. This was the final straw that broke the Camel’s back – our once close relationship. Thus on March 2nd we stated that the LRP and the ISL are no longer moving towards establishing a common tendency.

Our perspective is to struggle for a new Bolshevik International. The First International was destroyed but did not betray the working class. For this reason we are Marxists. The Second International betrayed the working class in 1914. For this reason we do not call ourselves Social Democrats. The Third was destroyed by the Stalinists even though Lenin and Trotsky never betrayed the working class and for this reason we are Bolsheviks of the Leninist type. Trotsky, after Lenin’s death, defended Lenin’s revolutionary method. Because of this reason we are Trotskyists. However, Trotsky’s epigones liquidated the Fourth International and betrayed the working class already in 1952, supporting the Popular Front in Bolivia (they would later repeat this betrayal in Sri Lanka). Today, those who call themselves Trotskyists are centrists of various forms, an obstacle in forming a new Communist-Bolshevik International. For this reason we no longer call for the resurrection of the Fourth International, but fight for a new Communist International.

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