Workers Vanguard No. 1091

3 June 2016


On Brazil Impeachment

ICL Intervention at LO Fête

We publish below an intervention on Brazil by a comrade of the Ligue Trotskyste de France at the annual Fête organized by the French pseudo-Trotskyist Lutte Ouvrière (LO) in May. With impeachment proceedings under way against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), much of the opportunist left internationally has rallied in support of the PT-led government under the cry “No to impeachment!”

The PT, a reformist workers party, has governed Brazil in a series of coalitions with capitalist parties since 2002, dishing out vicious austerity to the working masses and slashing public spending. The working class has no side in this conflict: we neither favor impeachment, which would mean support to the right-wing forces mobilized against Rousseff, nor oppose impeachment, which would amount to political support to the PT-led capitalist government. Above all, we are for political independence of the working class from capitalist forces.

As our comrade notes in his remarks, the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) lined up behind Rousseff, as did the U.S.-based Internationalist Group (IG), which puts these groups to the right of the arch-reformist LO on this question. Notably the IG, including its leader Jan Norden who was present at the Fête, passed on the chance to present its support to Rousseff in the Brazil forum. Its intervention at the Fête consisted mainly of distributing a special supplement (in English) of some 34 pages announcing two “regroupments”—one with a micro-split of two frustrated Mensheviks from the ICL in the U.S., and another with two former members in Italy who quit 15 years ago and have since been politically dormant in an Italian village. The IG, which only held its first national conference 19 years after it was founded, purports to be building an international, but it is a house of cards. (Let’s not forget the IG’s one-time Ukrainian section, which turned out to also be the Ukrainian section of as many as ten other opportunist “internationals.”)

Their supplement reaffirms the IG’s abject capitulation to the European Union (EU). The EU is the enemy of the working class and immigrants in all of Europe. Along with its euro, the EU is the vehicle for German imperialist domination of Europe, attacking the German working class and inflicting on the Greek population the most severe economic hardship in living memory. The IG denounces “The ICL’s de facto call for Grexit (Greek exit from the euro and the European Union) under bourgeois rule,” and even warns that Grexit “could undercut the fight to unite European workers against capitalist austerity” (Back to Trotskyism, May 2016).

The implication that the EU promotes working-class unity echoes the right-wing European social democrats and places the IG to the right of the formal position of the Cliffite Socialist Workers Party in Britain as well as Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International. As we noted after the IG called for abstention in the July 2015 Greek referendum on EU austerity: “The truth is that a self-proclaimed revolutionary Trotskyist organization that can’t even call for a vote against the diktats of the EU is on a bridge to the Fourth Reich of German imperialism” (WV No. 1075, 2 October 2015).

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I am speaking for the Ligue Trotskyste, which publishes Le Bolchévik in France, for the International Communist League. For once we have an opportunity to give a good grade to LO, even if it is a little one, so we are not going to forego it: LO is indeed correct to have refused to oppose the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.

The PT government is a capitalist popular-front government—i.e., a class-collaborationist alliance between a reformist workers party and bourgeois organizations. It’s a bourgeois alliance that we oppose on principle, which is not the case for LO. LO thus called to vote for Mitterrand in 1981 and for Ségolène Royal in 2007 and participated for six years, between 2008 and 2014, in the administration of capitalist municipalities on popular-front tickets, like Jean-Pierre Mercier did in Bagnolet.

Now there are a whole bunch of groups which are, despite all of this, to the right of LO, and, more to the point, of the revolutionary Trotskyists of the ICL, on the question of Rousseff. Most of the Brazilian left, with the NPA of course in their tow, the Internationalist Group and many other groups, called to oppose Rousseff’s impeachment. This is an outright capitulation to the bourgeois popular front and a class betrayal, concealed under more or less delirious rhetoric about a “parliamentary coup” or a “strong state,” etc. Well, I want to point out that the absurdity of this position of a “parliamentary coup” is particularly clear in France, which has a really bonapartist constitution where the parliament cannot impeach the president.

To get back to the fundamental question here, i.e., the question of the popular front, there is only one organization that is true to the principled opposition to the popular front that Trotsky formulated, for example, in 1936 regarding France—the Blum-Cachin Popular Front—or the Spanish Popular Front: it is the International Communist League and its French section, the Ligue Trotskyste de France. Thank you.