A short report from discussions and decisions at and after the first international conference of the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization
In the last six months, the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization has carried out a number of strategic discussions that led us to reconsider some of our positions. We would like to report from these discussions and briefly explain our new positions.
On December 4-5, 2010, RIO held its first international conference in Munich. In the context of a historic crisis of capitalism – immediately after the massive strike movement against the pension reform in France – the conference had the task of analyzing the international situation and developing perspectives for revolutionary Marxists.
The conference began with a balance sheet of the work of RIO in 2010. RIO was founded only a year ago by the independent youth organization REVOLUTION with an ambitious turn towards the goal of building up a revolutionary workers’ organization. 2010 was full of hard work, both theoretical (appropriating and developing the Marxist program) and practical (developing interventions in the workers’ movement). To name just a few examples, RIO has built up new groups, intervened in workers’ protests in the Czech Republic, published workplace and school bulletins in Germany, organized solidarity for the UPS workers’ strike in Turkey, and produced numerous pamphlets.
The RIO delegates were joined by guests from the Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International (FT-CI) and also from the Left Block of Rostock (LiBRo). For the past several months, RIO has been discussing with the FT and the conference allowed both organizations to deepen their understanding of agreements and differences. To this end, there were discussions about anti-imperialist struggles, work in trade unions, the history of the Fourth International and the world situation after the beginning of the capitalist crisis. The FT, which organizes vanguard sectors of the working class in parts of Latin America and is also building up a presence in several European countries, has helped RIO to assimilate class struggle experiences as well as theoretical gains.
While the conference represented a synthesis of the last year’s work, it was also a starting point for more difficult tasks in the coming period. Our goals in the coming period include developing a more profound analysis of the world situation and in particular of the countries where RIO is active. RIO is also working to develop our contacts in Turkey and our understanding of the history of class struggles in Anatolia. But our central priority is the deepening of our discussions with the FT to seek possibilities to unite our forces. In this sense, we discussed their thesis that the era of the offensive by the bourgeoisie, which began after the upswing in the international class struggle from 1968-1980 was defeated – referred to in the form of an analogy as the “bourgeois restoration” – is reaching its limits and opening a new period. Precisely the uprisings in the Arab world confirm the thesis of a new period, or to use the same analogy: a new “springtime of the peoples.”
The most important discussion, however, could not be decided at the conference and had to continue in the entire organization until April 2011. RIO needed to decide on our strategic orientation for building up a revolutionary workers’ international, on the basis of an analysis of the history of the Fourth International. In the past, we called for the creation of a “new revolutionary international” without specifying a name or a number. While we were absolutely clear that the programmatic basis of such an international must be revolutionary Marxism, including the theoretical and political gains of the Fourth International, and decisively rejected the project of a “broad” anticapitalist international without a program or class delimitation, we did not define with enough precision how this “new” international will be constructed.
After a discussion lasting for half a year, our entire organization decided, with political input by comrades from the FT-CI, that the goal of the reconstruction of the Fourth International is the only solid basis for our strategic project. The fundamental reason for this change of position was the recognition of the necessity of a workers’ international with a revolutionary program in the face of the on-going capitalist crisis. The lessons to be drawn from the first responses by the working class and the oppressed to this crisis, especially the uprisings in the Arab world, make the historic program of the Fourth International more important than ever.
In this international context, we asked ourselves: “If we are open to a ‘new’ or a ‘Fifth’ international, as long as it is based on a revolutionary Marxist program, what would differentiate this international from the Fourth programmatically? What about it would be, in terms of program, ‘new’? We had to reject a call for a “new international” that is easy to confuse with strategic dead-ends such as a “broad” anticapitalist international. In this sense, the adoption of the call for the reconstruction of the Fourth International is our answer to the ever-more pressing question of how the working class, the youth, and the poor masses in the world can combat the effects of the world-wide crisis of capitalism.
“Therefore, the task of the hour is to lay the political groundwork for the reconstruction of the Fourth International. This fundamentally means regrouping the workers’ vanguard around a revolutionary program. The reconstruction of the Fourth International as a world party of socialist revolution will require a major shift in the class struggle and a much greater role of revolutionary organizations. This process will require a constant reinterpretation and updating of the Transitional Program of 1938. It also implies a permanent struggle against centrist currents, through both collaboration and criticism.” (“Theses on the Rise, Crisis and Fall of the Fourth International”, adopted by the First International Conference of RIO, Dec 2010, and amended by the International Leadership of RIO, April 2011)
Fundamentally, the conference decided that RIO will continue on our current path, working to transform our limited experiences in the workers’ movement into a genuine implantation in the most advanced sectors of the proletariat, while developing our program and international links. Immediately after the conference, the Czech delegates had to hurry home to prepare their paper and intervention in the public sector strike held on December 8. Our central perspective for building up RIO is uniting our humble resources with the most advanced expressions of the international Trotskyist movement, fundamentally the Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International.
Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO), May 27, 2011
As a result of the discussions at and after the conference, we have a new set of basic documents that are programmatic foundations of our organization. These can be accessed here our by clicking on the link “Basic Documents” in the left column of this web page.