Workers Vanguard No. 1064
20 March 2015
Reforge the Fourth International
(Quote of the Week)
Under the leadership of Leon Trotsky, the Fourth International was founded in 1938 as a proletarian vanguard in opposition to the social-democratic Second and Stalinized Third Internationals. With much of its best cadre wiped out during the World War II period, the Fourth International was destroyed in the early 1950s under its then-leader, Michel Pablo, who had impressionistically responded to the postwar social overturns and expansion of Stalinism. The Pabloites liquidated, wherever they could, into the Stalinist Communist Parties (and elsewhere into social-democratic or petty-bourgeois nationalist organizations), renouncing the need to build Trotskyist parties. Albeit belatedly and partially, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the U.S. joined the fight against this revisionist current.
Our forebears, the Revolutionary Tendency, waged a struggle within the SWP as it was succumbing to Pabloite revisionism in the early 1960s. Today, the International Communist League remains dedicated to the fight to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution. We reprint below excerpts from an article anticipating the Fourth International’s founding, which appeared as the lead in the first issue of the New International, theoretical organ of the American Trotskyists in the 1930s.
The whole history of the modern proletarian movement has only served to underscore the all-importance and indispensability of that most highly perfected of all its instruments: the political party. Especially in our time has it become the master key to all problems. The class war is fought by class armies. The working class as a whole—to say nothing of its necessary allies in other sections of the population—is not characterized by firm homogeneity, it is stratified at different levels of consciousness, it is divided by conflicting ideologies, by separatist interests of caste, religion, nationality, sex, age. Emerging from its ranks—but transcending these differences and consequently able to overcome them—is its vanguard, the revolutionary political party. The party embodies the accumulated experiences of the proletariat distilled into its revolutionary theory. It is the repository of the consciousness of the class. It embraces the most advanced, the most militant, the most devoted, unites them firmly on the basis of tested principles and welds them together in rigorous discipline....
The day of national revolutionary parties ended long ago, as did the day of national party programs. In the period when world politics and world economy exist as distinct entities, there can be only one revolutionary party—the International, with sections in every country....
The Fourth International? This is no meaningless phrase. It is a fighting program! It means a fight to the death against Fascism, imperialism, war. It means an intransigeant struggle against treacherous social reformism, bureaucratic Stalinism, cowardly compromising centrism of all species. It means the unconditional struggle to defend the Soviet Union which social democrats and Stalinists left in the lurch in Germany when they permitted the arch-anti-Sovietist Hitler to come to power without a battle. It means the militant struggle for revolutionary Marxism, for the final victory of the working class.
For the Fourth International! For revolutionary Marxism!
That is the unsullied banner our periodical will defend. In periods such as the one we are passing through now, it becomes fashionable in certain quarters to seek the reasons for defeat and reaction in all corners except where they are to be found, to trace the causes everywhere except to their roots. Not the traducers of internationalism are at fault; perhaps it is internationalism itself. Not the traducers of Marxism; perhaps it is Marxism itself which requires revision or “re-interpretation.” As yesterday, so today, we shall continue to work with all our strength for all the fundamental theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, which have been tested through and through and confirmed a thousand times over and from every angle.
—“For the Fourth International!” New International (July 1934)