ALTAMIRA: "If you look carefully, capitalist bankruptcy didn’t enable ‘a rise of the left’, but a 'decline' of it" ("2013 elections, a strategic matter", November 1st 2011, Prensa Obrera No. 1246)
CRFI’s Latin American Conference: the "degree zero of strategy" in favour of PSOL and against catastrophism, the Anti-Imperialist United Front (FUA) and the Permanent Revolution
To defend the CRFI, the TPR requests its re-incorporation and calls the International Secretariat to take position
In September, Jorge Altamira participated in the Symposium of the Left in Latin America organized by the USP in Brazil. As a part of it, the PO called on a "Latin American Conference of the CRFI". As a result of it, there is a document entitled "The capitalist bankruptcy shakes Latin America: let’s go for a worker’s and socialist alternative. Let’s go for the fusion of the revolutionary left with the labour movement", signed by delegations of the Partido Obrero (PO) from Argentina, the Partido de los Trabajadores (PT) from Uruguay; Tribuna Classista from five Brazilian states, personalities and militants from Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.
“LATIN AMERICAN CONFERENCE OF THE CRFI”: NO PUBLIC CALL, NO DIFFUSION AND IN ORDER TO RESCUE PSOL
Facing this, it’s appropriate to make two remarks:
1. Regarding the call, it was a farce because of its null previous existence (no one knows about any public work, meetings and discussions with the Latin American left to join it) as of its reduced effective participation of sections that are members or sympathizers of the CRFI in Latin America (Venezuela wasn’t present nor Mexico or Bolivia, or Chile and participated only Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina). All this with the caveat that the conference was in Brazil and obviously there wasn’t even half a line dedicated to PCO (ex Brazilian section of the CRFI).
2. Regarding the content, it does nothing more than repeat some common places from PO's political tradition. That’s why in the exposition in which Altamira participated in Porto Alegre, he dedicates himself to explain that the real objective of the document is to propose “a Latin-American work, in order to prevent anyone from thinking that it’s a political manoeuvre in that country but a task with general, broad characteristics, etc”. That means, his pose of a “united front of the revolutionary left” is aimed “to join the left that was united in Brazil and broke up (as it was the case of Heloísa Helena)”, that is, a front populist parliamentary formation that doesn’t overcome programmatically Lula’s PT and, because of that, in Belém its part of the popular front with PCdoB (governmental), Edmilson Rodrígues (ex mayor of the PT) and, in the second round, it was supported by PT itself. Only when you can see this political struggle, you can really read the text. The document voted by the “CRFI's Latin American Conference” doesn’t seek to intervene to make workers draw conclusions and break up with PSOL but, on the contrary, it seeks to rescue PSOL by a frontist position that omits to take position about PSTU, LER-QI or any other Brazilian party. This is so clear, that the document doesn’t devote even a single line to study the problem of the left in order to have free hands for any agreement.
ANTI-CAPITALISM AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM: ONLY A METHOD ISSUE?
However, the document doesn’t have only a pragmatic aim. Being consulted during his speech about its connection with the tactic of Anti-imperialist United Front, Altamira pointed out what TPR is denouncing since our expulsion: his anti-capitalist turn and the substitution of POs’ programmatic tradition to the “zero degree of strategy” made by Daniel Bensaïd and the USFI. With the little difference that they’re importing the anti-capitalism from an imperialist country to an oppressed one, so it is worst.
The first definition Altamira takes is that “talking about struggle against imperialism in Latin America outside from capitalist world bankruptcy doesn’t exist”. This is relatively true as capitalist bankruptcy strengthens NATIONAL OPPRESSION and as it NEVER ATTENUATES IT. However, said by Altamira this is to justify exactly the opposite because: “each time the imperialism attacks we will make unity but the strategic perspective of world proletariat and Latin Americas one appearing as class to face the capital in this crisis depends on a strategic issue, not on punctual things. If it doesn’t present itself as class we will end up on fascism and, paradoxically, the weakness of the left doesn’t allow fascism to arise because today the left is not a danger. For the bourgeoisie it’s better to support democratic reactionary governments. We won’t slide away from the rule. We want to do the best contribution to the rule. So we clarify what is the central issue. In any case, it’s confirmed that left world crisis isn’t deal properly, which is a problem that is being put apart”.
The easy way to explain this “complexity” is overwhelming: “The strategy (anti-capitalist) doesn’t depend on punctual things (imperialist oppression and the punctual country where you pose revolutionary struggle). We won’t slide away from the rule (the FUA) but we want to do the best contribution to the rule (anti-capitalism). In any case, (if we’re wrong this shows the necessity of discussing against us)”.
This furious revision of historical program of Partido Obrero has no improvisation on it, knowing that in his book “No es un martes negro más” (cited by Altamira in his exposition) it’s published and vindicated a foundational text of our historical organization named “Las ‘tesis del Comité Internacional’” written by Jorge Altamira and Julio Magri in August, 1981 (Internacionalismo N°3) as members of the Tendencia Cuarta Internacionalista (TCI). So, the publication of that text isn’t casual but it has the objective to point out that the tactic to separate working class from nationalists’ directions is the Anti-imperialist United Front. The fact of being “under capitalist bankrupt” (and not national oppression) is what is really anecdotic, because if the FUA is only useful for moments of capitalist stability and not for crisis, it would be totally impotent and it must be denied categorically. A tactic (FUA) and a strategy (Permanent Revolution) useless for intervening in the capitalist bankruptcy aren’t useful at all. Now Altamira seems, by citing his own book which vindicates openly the FUA and Permanent Revolution, pretends to make us arrive to the contrary conclusion, but without having the courage to say it.
In his exposition Altamira entirely erases the distinction between oppressor countries and oppressed by imperialism ones by posing: “The principal issue in Latin America is the same that in the whole world naturally with program particularities, with demands (…) It is a problem of methods. So you have a method. Others have other methods. That’s absolutely normal. I think it is a comrades’ discussion. Naturally after the first discussion it may seem confusing but then it clarifies and ways of acting are found, etc…”
ARGENTINA, CATASTROPHISM AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM
Be careful, because what seems to be a kind of “aggiornamiento” or “revolutionary pragmatism” by Altamira, really covers his eclecticism and a lot of theories that no revolutionary can allow. According to the “new Altamira”: “Anti-imperialism in Latin America has changed its shape. Because 100 years ago in Latin America there were no workers. Argentine was an industrialized country (suddenly, contributions of Milcíades Peña and Liborio Justo are thrown away to be substituted by poses like Mariátegui’s or apologists of bourgeois nationalism) but in the other countries working class was a minority. Brazil was a coffee dealer oligarchy. Today Brazilian working class is much bigger and the relevance of its struggle against bourgeoisie makes itself felt. So the issue of imperialist domination appears mediated by a big internal working struggle. We would never sacrifice, in any anti-imperialist struggle, working class’ fight against national bourgeoisie of its own country. This has to do with world capitalist crisis. For someone this may sound complex”. As can be seen, Altamira insinuates that FUA is “sacrificing worker class interests” but he seems to ignore the ABC of Permanent Revolution: working class can’t face its social emancipation without solving at the same time national oppression. If not, socialism is drawn back to narrow corporatism or to pure socialism as a caricature of “class against class” denying that working class must be an authentic national caudillo in democratic-bourgeois revolution (permanent revolution thesis).
Moreover, in the ending-speech Altamira gave to the XXI Congress of Partido Obrero, it can be seen with clarity that the thesis “Argentina is an industrialized country” (and so, there’s only place for a pure socialist revolution) was already outlined in these affirmations: “World crisis’ history had showed, at least since 1828s’ crisis which paved the way to Rosas, that Argentina’s been developed by shocks of world crisis. The fall of Rosas’ régime is a late result of world crisis of 1848. This country was being industrialized after ‘30s’ crisis, the first signs of industrialization happened with the big crisis of 1890 (only overcame by 2001s’ collapse) and in any text book you can read that the First and the Second World War, as there was nothing to export, helped industrialization. This is a dialectic view of the crisis, which requires one development more. The crisis, while it breaks established relations, offers an opportunity to nations submitted by those relations to begin a relatively autonomous development. This is not only Argentine history but Turkey and Brazil too, or even German itself or Italy which are bourgeois nations which arrived late to world market. However, to conquer the opportunity of a relatively autonomous development as a consequence of the crisis, firstly the crisis must burst; it must do its labor of partial destroyer of precedent relations. Because ‘30s’ industrialization didn’t obey a plan of Argentinean oligarchy with the dictator Uriburu and with the shameless of Justo later, as it is proved by the treaty of Roca Runciman, which defended to death farmers’ quota in Smithfield market, in benefit of imports and profit remittances from Britain companies. Only when all these fell down and Argentine economy fell a 20%, the oligarchy itself started opening some factories and starting a partial industrialization process”.
This way, at bottom of the abandonment of Anti-imperialist United Front tactic is the denial of catastrophism and the conclusion that the development of capitalism was possible because imperialism crisis enabled a way of autonomous capitalist development in parallel (and even helping partially) to imperialist system.
HISTORYCALLY PROGRESSIVE BOURGEOIS NATIONALISM OR “BONAPARTISM WITH ANTI-IMPERIALIST PHRASEOLOGY”?
This way, with a logic absolutely alienated under morenoism ideological pressure, the conclusion drawn is that “the main problem in Latin America is to unmask bonapartism that behind anti-imperialist phraseology is submitting the working class”. The reasoning is crystalline: as there’s a mature capitalism, the bourgeois nationalism is deprived of any historically progressive character and only remains its reactionary and bonapartist character. This is why it’s no longer mentioned “sui generis bonapartism” but bonapartism “with anti-imperialist phraseology”. This is, the famous “double speech” denounced by anti-capitalist sects. This leaves totally orphan of a coherent tactic and a strategy and gives place to one and a thousand empiricist manoeuvres.
On one hand, it’s suggested that “revolutionaries’ task is make the working class lead the anti-imperialist struggle”, which is correct as it has to be the national caudillo but it is unilateral because it’s suggested in confrontation to the working class competing with nationalism under a united front to dispute worker and peasants masses. Moreover, it has an essential inconsistency which is that the “anti-imperialist struggle” isn’t accessory to the “anti-capitalist struggle” but it sums to programmatic and scientific characterization of which is the presupposed character of the revolution proposed. If the problem was to “lead anti-imperialist struggle”, so the tactic of the anti-capitalist regrouping reveals as a sectarian and self-marginalization politics which boycotts the struggle for permanent revolution.
On the other hand, FUA wants to be replaced with “unity in anti-imperialist action”, this is, the old morenoism misrepresentation that says that “in streets we did a united front with governments’ youth against the coup d'état in Paraguay”, as if that was the same to an Anti-imperialist United Front. On the contrary, as Altamira himself points out in his speech, “punctual actions never brought unity but they have always been a field of maneuvers to steal militants” and, on the other side, the tactic of FUA isn’t about to simulate anti-imperialism to win a couple of nationalists militants but to oppose or overcome bourgeois nationalism limits in its own field to delimit masses from native bourgeoisie. As it can be seen, to be real, a tactic must pave the way to the strategy.
CRFI MUST PRONUNCE ON DEFENCE OF ANTI-IMPERIALIST UNITED FRONT AGAINST MORENOISM REVISIONISM
The tactic of Anti-imperialist United Front is a part of the program of Partido Obrero since the 3rd-4th number of Política Obrera in 1964 and it’s a part of a principled delimitation inside Trotskyst organizations worldwide. In fact, in his ending speech of XXI Congress, Altamira posed: “One of the most complex struggles that a socialist party as ours have, is against dirigiste attempts by nationalist bourgeois parties. Now I believe that the Partido Obrero will publish a very important book, which will reproduce workers’ programs since the Manifesto of 1848 up to thesis of the Fourth International of 2004, passing through the foundation of Partido Bolchevique, the foundation text of German social democracy, the foundation text of Rosa Luxemburgos’ party, Bolivian thesis of Pulacayo of 1946, the thesis of the COB of 1970 which inspired the Asamblea Popular”.
LET US AGREE: IS THERE A RISE OR A DECLINE OF THE LEFT?
As it can be appreciated, the inconsistence is not only related to theoretic and programmatic discussion about the FUA but to the appreciation of immediate conjuncture in Europe itself. After writing his book “The rise of the Left under capitalist bankruptcy”, now, Altamira seems to discover that it really wasn’t quite like that. Precisely as we pointed out in our letter “The bankruptcy of the anti-capitalist left under the rise of the popular front".
“If you look carefully, capitalist bankruptcy didn’t allow a ‘left rise’, but a ‘decline’ of it. Its place, where there’s a turn of the masses, has been occupied by the wing of reformism that has captured popular desperation and gave it a whole expression, even though not a strategic one at all. That’s the case of the slogan ‘Left Governemnt’ in Greece, or the call to dissolve the Court and the monarchy in Spain, and convene a constituent assembly. Reformism, by definition, can’t pose a strategy; it clings to reconcile historical irreconcilable contradictions. The strategy lies, nowadays, on the objective of historical change, and consists on mobilizing the driving forces of that change” (“2013 elections, a strategic matter”, November 1st, Prensa Obrera Nº1246).
So, the task is to deepen the political struggle in order to make the CRFI take position about the letter and our re-incorporation as TPR so that we can fight on defense of the CRFI against its dissolution under Syriza and the popular front.
NOVEMBER 23RD, 2012