The followers of Ted Grant between the hammer and the hard place

Yossi Schwartz ISL (RCIT section in Israel/ Occupied Palestine), 13.03.2024

While Socialist Struggle the Israeli group of the ISA has taken a bourgeois pacifist position that equates the side of the oppressed and the side of the oppressor in a war.  The IMT that is also a follower of Ted Grant has taken an ultra-far left position. What is common to both tendencies is that they cannot understand nor apply the Leninist united front tactics. 

Socialist Struggle writes on the Zionist war on Gaza:

“The war takes a huge toll on women – on both sides of the national divide. The feminist opposes wars, occupation, blockades, racism, national oppression – and the indiscriminate violence that accompanies them.

What does this position have to do with Marxism? Let us examine what Lenin had to say about wars:

“From the point of view of Marxism, that is, of modern scientific socialism, the main issue in any discussion by socialists on how to assess the war and what attitude to adopt towards it is this: what is the war being waged for, and what classes staged and directed it. We Marxists do not belong to that category of people who are unqualified opponents of all war. We say: our aim is to achieve a socialist   system of society, which, by eliminating the division of mankind into classes, by eliminating all exploitation of man by man and nation by nation, will inevitably eliminate the very possibility of war. But in the war to win that socialist system of society we are bound to encounter conditions under which the class struggle within each given nation may come up against a war between the different nations, a war conditioned by this very class struggle. Therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility of revolutionary wars, i.e., wars arising from the class struggle, wars waged by revolutionary classes, wars which are of direct and immediate revolutionary significance. Still less can we rule this out when we remember that though the history of European revolutions during the last century, in the course of 125–135 years, say, gave us wars which were mostly reactionary, it also gave us revolutionary wars, such as the war of the French revolutionary masses against a united monarchist, backward, feudal and semi-feudal Europe. No deception of the masses is more widespread today in Western Europe, and latterly here in Russia, too, than that which is practiced by citing the example of revolutionary wars. There are wars and wars. We must be clear as to what historical conditions have given rise to the war, what classes are waging it, and for what ends. Unless we grasp this, all our talk about the war will necessarily be utterly futile, engendering more heat than light. That is why I take the liberty, seeing that you have chosen war and revolution as the subject of today’s talk, to deal with this aspect of the matter at greater length” [i]

So, the question for Marxists is what is the class nature of this war from the Zionist imperialist state of settler’s colonialists and the oppressed nation -the Palestinians fighting for national liberation. But the leadership of the Palestinians are religious fanatics, how is it possible to support them in their war against Israel? 

Trotsky replied to these idiots many years ago

 Trotsky: In order to understand correctly the nature of the coming events we must first of all reject the false and thoroughly erroneous theory that the coming war will be a war between fascism and “democracy.” Nothing is falser and more foolish than this idea. Imperialist “democracies” are divided by the contradictions of their interests in all parts of the world. Fascist Italy can easily find herself in one camp with Great Britain and France if she should lose faith in the victory of Hitler. Semi fascist Poland may join one or the other of the camps depending upon the advantages offered. In the course of war, the French bourgeoisie may substitute fascism for its “democracy” in order to keep its workers in submission and force them to fight “to the end.” Fascist France, like “democratic” France, would equally defend its colonies with weapons in hand. The new war will have a much more openly rapacious imperialist character than the war of 1914-18. Imperialists do not fight for political principles but for markets, colonies, raw materials, for hegemony over the world and its wealth”.[ii]

“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. The victory of any one of the imperialist camps would mean the definite enslavement of all humanity, the clamping of double chains on present-day colonies, and all weak and backward peoples, among them the peoples of Latin America. The victory of any one of the imperialist camps would spell slavery, wretchedness, misery, the decline of human culture”[iii].

And if these lines of Trotsky are too difficult for the village idiots here is another article by Trotsky:

“Dear Comrade Diego Rivera:

During the past few days, I have been reading some of the lucubration of the Oehlerites and the Eiffelites (yes, there is a tendency of that sort!) on the civil war in Spain and on the Sino-Japanese War. Lenin called the ideas of these people “infantile disorders.” A sick child arouses sympathy. But twenty years have passed since then. The children have become bearded and even bald. But they have not ceased their childish babblings. On the contrary, they have increased all their faults and all their foolishness tenfold and have added ignominies to them. They follow us step by step. They borrow some of the elements of our analysis. They distort these elements without limit and counterpose them to the rest. They correct us. When we draw a human figure, they add a deformity. When it is a woman, they decorate her with a heavy mustache. When we draw a rooster, they put an egg under it. And they call all this burlesque Marxism and Leninism.

I want to stop to discuss in this letter only the Sino-Japanese War. In my declaration to the bourgeois press, I said that the duty of all the workers’ organizations of China was to participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan, without abandoning, for a single moment, their own program and independent activity. But that is “social patriotism!” the Eiffelites cry. It is a capitulation to Chiang Kai-shek! It is the abandonment of the principle of the class struggle! Bolshevism preached revolutionary defeatism in the imperialist war. Now, the war in Spain and the Sino-Japanese War are both imperialist wars. “Our position on the war in China is the same. The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army.” These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason[iv].

As to the turn of the IMT of Woods from opportunism to ultra left let us see what he wrote from the world perspective.

“But now there’s a vacuum. The old left is, of course, completely demoralized. 99 percent of them are finished. We should not waste time with these people. Don’t have any hopes in them: they’re hopeless, they’ve got no hopes in themselves. These sects, these miserable sects, never understood anything about communism, Marx, Engels, Trotsky, or anything else. Nothing. They’re useless. That’s why they’re all in crisis and splitting. And we wish them luck with their splits: get on with it!

We are not interested in any of that. By the way, they’ll be sending us letters soon. “Please can we have a united front? Will you join this? Will you join the other?” They must think we’re terrible sectarians. As far as they’re concerned, we are sectarians, we always were sectarians, and we always will be sectarian. In the 1960s, even then we’d get letters from them. Will you join this? Will you join that? I always remember what Ted used to say: “Don’t answer it. Put it straight in the waste paper basket”[v].

In simple words Woods has buried the united front tactics and has the illusion that his small apparatus already is leading the masses. What an old either real traitor or complete imbecile that can lead his followers to dangerous adventures.

In the fourth congress of the Communist International in 1922 the following position was adopted:

“1.The international workers’ movement is currently going through a particular transitional stage, which presents both the Communist International as a whole and its separate sections with new and important tactical problems.

Basically, this stage can be characterized as follows: the world economic crisis is worsening; unemployment is growing; in almost every country international capital has gone over to a systematic offensive against the workers, the main evidence of which is the capitalists’ cynical and open attempts to reduce wages and lower the workers’ general standard of living; and the bankruptcy of the Versailles peace is steadily becoming more apparent to the vast majority of workers. It is obvious that unless the international proletariat overthrows the bourgeois system a new imperialist war, or even several such wars, is inevitable. The Washington conference is eloquent confirmation of this.

2 A certain revival of reformist illusions which, due to a whole series of circumstances, had begun among fairly wide sections of workers is now, under the pressure of reality, beginning to give way to a different mood. The democratic and reformist illusions that re-emerged, after the imperialist carnage had ended, among some workers (on the one hand the more privileged workers and on the other the more backward, less politically experienced workers) are fading, having failed to flower. The future course and outcome of the ‘work’ of the Washington conference will upset these illusions even more. If six months ago it was possible to speak with some justification of a general move to the right among the working masses of Europe and America, then today it is possible to state with certainty that an opposite move to the left has begun.

3.On the other hand, under the influence of the mounting capitalist attack, there is a new mood among the workers – a spontaneous striving towards unity, which literally cannot be restrained, and which is a development paralleled by the gradual growth in the confidence felt by the broad mass of workers in the Communists.

 A steadily growing number of workers are only now beginning to appreciate the courage shown by the Communist vanguard in throwing itself into the fight for the interests of the working class, even when the vast majority of workers were still indifferent or even hostile to Communism. A steadily growing number of workers are now becoming convinced that it was only the Communists who defended their economic and political interests, and that they did so in the most difficult circumstances, at times making the greatest sacrifices. This is why there is once more growing respect for and confidence in the uncompromising Communist vanguard of the working class, now that even the more backward layers of the workers have seen through the empty reformist hopes and have understood that without struggle there will be no escape from the onslaught of the capitalist gangsters.

4 The Communist Parties can and should now gather the fruits of the struggle they waged earlier on, in the wholly unfavorable circumstances of mass apathy. But as confidence steadily grows in those who are most uncompromising and militant, in the Communist elements of the working class, the working masses as a whole are experiencing an unprecedented longing for unity. The new layers of politically inexperienced workers just came into activity long to achieve the unification of all the workers’ parties and even of all the workers’ organizations in general, hoping in this way to strengthen opposition to the capitalist offensive. These new layers of workers, who have often not previously taken an active part in political struggle, are now finding a new way to test the practical plans of reformism in the light of their own experience. Like these new layers, considerable sections of workers belonging to the old social-democratic parties are even now unwilling to accept the attacks of the social democrats and the centrists on the Communist vanguard. They are even beginning to demand an agreement with the Communists, but at the same time they have not outgrown their belief in the reformists and large numbers of them still support the parties of the Second and the Amsterdam Internationals. They do not formulate their plans and aspirations all that clearly, but in general the new mood of these masses comes down to a wish to set up a united front and make the parties and unions of the Second and the Amsterdam Internationals fight alongside the Communists against the capitalist attack. To that extent, this mood is progressive. The most important point is that their faith in reformism has been broken. Given the general situation of the workers’ movement today, any serious mass action, even if it starts with only partial slogans, will inevitably bring to the forefront the more general and fundamental questions of revolution. The Communist vanguard can only gain if new layers of workers are convinced by their own experience that reformism is an illusion and that compromise is fatal.

6 The Communist Parties of the world, having secured complete organizational freedom to extend their ideological influence among the working masses, are now trying at every opportunity to achieve the broadest and fullest possible unity of these masses in practical activity. The heroes of the Second and the Amsterdam Internationals preach unity in words, but deny it in action. Now that the reformist compromisers of Amsterdam have failed in their organizational attempt to suppress the voice of protest, criticism, and revolutionary aspirations, they are looking for a way out of their own impasse and are bringing splits, confusion and organized sabotage to the struggle of the working masses. One of the most important tasks facing Communists is to expose publicly these new forms of the old treachery”[vi]

Does Woods remind us of someone else in history that called himself Communist and rejected the United front tactics? Yes of course, Stalin with his idiotic third period dogma. The Third Period was an ideological concept adopted by the Comintern at the Sixth World Congress in 1928. It set policy until reversed when the Nazis took over Germany in 1933, and pushed the Stalinists to the popular fronts

The Comintern’s dogma was based on the economic and political analysis of world capitalism, which posited the division of recent history into three periods. These included a “First Period” that followed World War I and saw the revolutionary upsurge and defeat of the working class, as well as a “Second Period” of capitalist consolidation in the 1920s. According to the Comintern’s dogma, the current phase of world economy from 1928 onward, the so-called “Third Period,” was to be a time of widespread economic collapse of the capitalist system and any party or a group  that  did not join the Stalinist parties are fascist. This radical stupidity helped Hitler to take power. Luckily for us Woods does not have the same power that Stalin had.

Down with the dangerous ultra left idiots!

For the Leninist united front in defense of democratic rights, social gain and the national liberation of the oppressed!


[i] V. I.   Lenin War and Revolution A LECTURE DELIVERED MAY 14 (27), 1917

[ii] Leon Trotsky Anti-Imperialist Struggle Is Key to Liberation An Interview with Fossa

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Leon Trotsky On the Sino-Japanese War (September 1937)

[vi]Fourth Congress of the Communist International Appendix to the Theses on Comintern Tactics Theses On The United Front Adopted by the EC, December 1922

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