VII. The question of power, the party and the International
29. Taking the world situation as a whole, it is clear that the bourgeoisie cannot continue to govern as it has been doing, and that the general social conditions have become exceptionally hard to bear for the masses. The question of power arising due to these conditions will vary, even enormously, from one country to another, but a reciprocal relationship has been established between them. Imperialism's quagmire in Iraq has already created an important political crisis within the bourgeoisie of the US State and even within the Bush government. The same has occurred, even in a more accentuated form, in Spain, in combination with the biggest mass demonstrations against the imperialist war. The economic impasse in the European Union has resulted in a fracture of the Italian bourgeoisie and even a tendency towards the rupture of the pro-Berlusconi fraction with its own government, at the same time as the trade union mobilization is growing. The crises of the governments of France and Germany exist beyond all doubts, while important mass struggles are insinuated and at times sink roots. On another continent the imperialist pressure on Bolivia has given rise to, last October, a people's revolution. The disintegration of a brand-new government, that of Lula, is also made manifest. The collapse of Aristide has given rise to the military occupation of Haiti. The oligarchy favoring a coup against the Venezuelan Chávez continues to stir up the crisis and the mobilizations of the poorest masses in the country in defense of the nationalist government. Kirchner's grace period has virtually expired, after ten months characterized by a method of government of permanent crisis. The accumulation of financial tensions in the cauldron of the Far East has provoked the transitory destitution of the president of South Korea by the big national monopolies that feel their existence threatened by the penetration of US finance capital. The Middle East is a powder keg waiting to go off, especially Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. The IV International differentiates itself from other revolutionary and workers currents, first of all, in this characterization of the world situation. Taken as a whole, that is, in the perspective it offers and in the reciprocal relationships (among the nations and the classes), the world situation poses, with rhythms, historic characteristics and different peculiarities, as well as an uneven comprehension of the acting classes, the question of power.
30. On the basis of this characterization, the workers or workers and peasants government becomes fully valid as a transitional demand. This slogan signifies, first of all, a policy that consists in developing within the traditional organizations of the masses and in those created by them in the course of their struggles, the comprehension of the question of power being posed and of the fact that the real and integral satisfaction of the popular aspirations demand the taking of power by the workers. When in the course of the struggle itself and as a consequence of the experience of that struggle, those organizations conquer a position of overall political authority, the workers government is the demand we direct to those organizations to prepare the direct struggle for political power. The possibility, however, of the traditional leaderships taking up that struggle for power is remote or exceptional, even under the revolutionary pressure of the masses. The IV International warns against the danger of putting into the same bag what are the masses, their organizations and their leaderships, because as the general norm the relations between them are contradictory. The periods of political or revolutionary crisis accentuates those contradictions, because these periods are characterized, on the one hand, by a fundamental change in the consciousness of the masses and, on the other, by a sharpening of the sense of survival in the leaderships seated upon the old political relationships. In this sense, the demand for a workers government is the method the IV International utilizes, not in order to give a new opportunity for survival to the old leaderships, but rather to conquer the leadership of the masses and the organizations of its combat for the revolutionary vanguard.
Even though parliamentarism has been in historic decomposition for a long time and the real government of the State is to be found in the hands of a handful of bureaucrats firmly interconnected with the principal capitalist trusts, parliamentary participation (and, as a result, election campaigns) is fundamental, including even during periods of a crisis of power or having pre-revolutionary characteristics. That participation should serve not only to amplify everyday political agitation but also as propaganda, that is as political education for the most militant workers. The circumstance of the parliament having turned into a cover for the conspiracy of the State against the masses (not at all into its representation), reinforces the need to participate in it in order to proceed with a methodical job of unmasking it. Without revolutionary work in the bourgeois parliament it is impossible to carry out true mass work. In the conditions in which the revolutionary vanguard, where it exists and acts, is extremely minority and its radius of influence is limited to a trade union audience, it is necessary to exploit all the opportunities to intervene in the election campaigns and in parliament. Trade union activism, even the most consequent, may become a synonym for economicist methodology; participation in the elections and in the parliament may serve, on the other hand, in order to unfold a really socialist policy, that is, related to the problems of capitalism as a whole, of all its social classes and the State. The historic subordination of parliamentarism with respect to direct action of the masses should not be confused with the underestimation of parliamentary action; that subordination simply means that the parliament should be used as a revolutionary tribune of propaganda, agitation and also of organization. Experience shows that the presence of the revolutionaries provokes in the masses an interest for parliamentarism that did not exist theretofore. These expectations constitute a step towards the exhaustion of illusions in parliamentarism, that had been under the surface. The presence of revolutionary legislators incentivates the popular tendency towards putting parliament under "street pressure," contributing in this way to direct action occupying the foreground among the people's methods of struggle.
In numerous countries, the decomposition of parliamentarism, which is nothing more than that of the bourgeois state and capitalist society, is made manifest as "a crisis of political representation" or "a crisis of politics." This means that the exploited do not perceive the class character of parliamentarism, nor do they characterize the political crises in course as the result of the irreconcilable character of class antagonisms. This deforming becomes accentuated when the petite-bourgeoisie plays a political role disproportionate in relation to its weight in the social productive process. The crisis of power assumes in these cases a formal characteristic, that hides its fundamental social content. The experience of the recent crises and struggles have taught that, in such circumstances, the slogan of the sovereign Constituent Assembly could be capable of playing a great political role, understood, firstly, as the overthrow of parliament and the national and municipal executive institutions questioned by the "representative crisis" and, secondly, as a link to the workers government and the dictatorship of the proletariat, if it is driven by means of an overall program of transitional demands. The political weight of this slogan becomes accentuated in those countries in which parliamentarism and democracy have not grown roots, solid or otherwise, and where its long existence has combined with crises, coups and dictatorships, that is, where feelings in favor of universal suffrage are very much alive. The rapid decomposition of the State has determined that, in many countries, the need for a "political revolution" arises before the consciousness of the need for the social revolution. What is important is that, on the one hand, it serves to mobilize the masses and, on the other, it serves so as to be able to intervene in the crisis of power. What is important above all else is that it serve in order to bring the workers vanguard out of an exclusively propagandistic position when a political crisis is under development which is part of a historical crisis but which follows differentiated stages and rhythms, especially in connection with the comprehension the masses come to acquire from the events.
The dissociation between the political crisis of the State and its concrete historical content of the agony of capitalism has given way to a current which opposes to parliamentarism "direct democracy." This is another episode in the saga that denounces bourgeois democracy for its representative character, that is, that delegates popular sovereignty to independent representation. "Direct democracy" tends to occupy, in public opinion, the place of "participative democracy" or "social" democracy of a recent past. In a regime that is characterized by social despotism (the absolute dependence of labor power, as a commodity, from capital, and the absolute dictatorship of capital in the workplace), direct democracy reproduces the fiction of the autonomous character of the individual which characterizes constitutionalism. However, in the epoch in which specifically bourgeois individuality is in ruins, "direct democracy" has less space than ever and is transmuted into the pretension of skipping over parliamentarism by means of the plebiscite. "Direct democracy," which is in relative fashion these days, has points of contact with anarchism linked to the petite-bourgeoisie, not to anarchism that was linked to the working class, which subordinated direct democracy to the social revolution, establishing a point of contact with the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The workers government that has arrived into power in the struggle for the main demands of the workers and of the political crisis of the bourgeois State, is immediately confronted by the opposition of the whole of that State, which represents the dictatorship of the class of the bourgeoisie. The workers government can only be represented, then, as a brief interregnum towards the dictatorship of the proletariat. Its possibility of survival depends on disarming the bourgeoisie and on arming the working class, and on the expropriation of the principal capitalist cartels. Those, such as the Unified Secretariat, who have spoken of "workers power" but are opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat, simply do not know what they are talking about. Actually they are telling a conscious lie. A "workers power" that refuses to disarm the bourgeoisie and to the arming of the masses, would never last. Given the circumstances of the crisis that determined its arrival as government, it would not have the opportunity of even being a executive of the bourgeois State, that is, a workers government of the bourgeoisie. A workers government emerging from a mass struggle for transitional demands will be confronted also by the whole of the State apparatus –its administrative, judicial, and municipal bureaucracy, and the corresponding legal apparatus. It must break capitalist power in the workplace, which is the real power base of capital. Obliged to break the state apparatus integrally, it sees itself equally obliged to begin to transform the social relations of exploitation upon which it rests. It structures, in this way, a new state in the form of a collective workers administration, which comprises the leading of the government in the charge of workers councils to workers administration in enterprises, health, administration, culture, and which is made manifest in an overall social plan. The breakdown of the division of labor between governors and the governed means the beginning of the dissolution of the state as such. Of all the tendencies speaking in the name of the working class, the IV International is the only one that struggles for a workers or workers and peasants government in its complete historical sense of the destruction of the bourgeois State and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. For the IV International, the workers government is a synonym for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and uses it as such in the agitation it carries out in the heart of the people.
In the history of the IV International the demand for a workers government established in its founding program, became distorted early on. At least since the decade of the fifties it stopped being considered as a synonym for dictatorship of the proletariat and the demand for the government of traditional organizations was converted into the substitute strategy of the IV International. The next step was to raise the workers government on a parliamentary basis, as occurred with the Union of the Left, in France, since the end of the seventies (with the aggravating circumstance of it being a popular front with the radical party). With the euro-communist conversion of the Stalinist parties, the dictatorship of the proletariat was replaced on a theoretical plan by the theory of "socialist democracy," which reconciled the government of the workers with the parliamentarism and with the bourgeois State in general. "Socialist democracy" served to beautify the movement of the Moscovite bureaucracy towards the restoration of capitalism, which it did with the slogans of rule of law, constitutional regime, electoral freedom. In the rainbow of tendencies claiming to be Trotskyist there exist a wide range of positions on the State, but all have abandoned the demand for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The theoretical degradation has reached the extreme of some of those tendencies defending their national imperialist states, alleging that they represent conquest of civilization which must be protected against 'globalization,' on the one hand, and 'regionalization, on the other. The recent retirement, from the statutes of the Revolutionary Communist League of France, of the demand for the dictatorship of the proletariat, is the culmination of a long political evolution, involving not only the Unified Secretariat, but all the tendencies born of the split in the IV International starting in the fifties.
The IV International rejects the identification of the dictatorship of the proletariat with the dictatorship of the bureaucracy. It is not only about a difference of methods between the two, but rather of social content, because the bureaucracy defends the dictatorship of the proletariat within the limits of its own privileges, which is to say, in defense of its privileges it combats the social and political supremacy of the working class. In defense of its privileges, it prepares the restoration of capitalism and is converted, as it has done, into the principal agent of that restoration. We also reject the identification, of the apprentices of human rights, of red or revolutionary terror and State terrorism, which is nothing more than the old vulgarity of putting on the same place revolutionary violence and violence of the reaction and of the capitalist State. Also where the proletariat has triumphed, the state exercising hegemony continues to be the capitalist state, made manifest by the international system of states and commits aggression against the proletarian state employing the organized force of the system of states established long ago. Every civil war obliges the revolution to militarize its institutions and, within these conditions, limits workers democracy, in the same way as in the course of any warlike action authority is concentrated in a single chain of command. The dictatorship of the proletariat suffers, then, the influence of the medium in which it is obliged to act. The dictatorship of the proletariat, as a workers democracy, flourishes when international development of the revolution is most open, the greater the economic and cultural resources inherited by the triumphant proletariat, the greater the political preparation and the school of class struggle wielded in the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. Every besieged city can become Masada. As Lenin said, the proletariat of the most advanced nations will get things done better.
31. Political struggle is a struggle between parties, the struggle for power even more so. Social revolution in general, and even more so the proletarian, is a historical phenomenon, that is which summarizes and concludes a phase of human civilization. It cannot be started without a consciousness of that character, that which becomes program. There may be mutinies and rebellions, and there are with extraordinary frequency when a given social organization enters its phase of decadence. But a revolution capable of putting an end to social domination and exploitation, is impossible without a program and without an organization. Capitalism does not allow the generalized development of general education or the political preparation of the proletariat; on the contrary it stimulates competition and rivalry among the exploited. Only on the basis of a workers vanguard can the task of forming a revolutionary proletariat be undertaken. Due to the unrivalled strategic role of the revolutionary party in the proletarian revolution, the struggle against the idea of constructing a party and against the party itself, is the ultimate resource of capital, which in this struggle manifests itself principally through the democratizing, or at most socializing, petite-bourgeoisie. Just as in the case of class collaboration, in general, and in the popular front, in particular, movementism is a last recourse of capital against the revolutionary proletariat.
It is parties which must be built, not sects; revolutionary organizations, not parliamentary federations; organizations of combat, not simply of propaganda; with deep roots in the working class and in its history, as well as in the history of the masses of the country and of that country itself. National particularities play an exceptional role in the strategy of revolutionary parties. Taking into account these demands, the form of development of the revolutionary party recognizes all kinds of variations. In the current stage, one of enormous dispersion of the revolutionary vanguard, the IV International emphasizes the new revolutionary stage that has opened the present world crisis; underlines the fact that the capitalist restoration accentuates, in the last instance, this world crisis and develops revolutionary confrontations on a greater scale than those known beforehand, even in the developed countries; it underlines the validity of the historic programs of communism, from the Manifesto of 1848, the first four congresses of the Third International and the transitional program of the IV International; and calls on revolutionaries and their organizations to elaborate an international program that realizes the fundamental changes of the last decades.
The reconstruction of the workers and revolutionary International is born of a clear historical affiliation, but it cannot defend organizational continuity. The Unified Secretariat of the IV International has become, at least as a whole, an appendix of the democratizing petite-bourgeoisie, even in the imperialist countries. The next workers International will be designed by historic events of extraordinary magnitude. It is idle to speculate upon its characteristics. However, it is not possible to struggle for that future International without a program and a party. Our call to re-found immediately the IV International signifies that we reject the policy of passive expectations in the great events to come. Hence our proposal to regroup the workers vanguard in an international party that struggles for the next great Revolutionary Workers International. In opposition to the method of the sects, which consists in conditioning the immediate re-founding of the IV International to a prior solution, purely literary at that, of the political differences that may exist, we raise the organization of an international revolutionary party, the IV, on the basis of an exact political delimitation regarding all divergences. To build the international party is the programmatic point that separates revolutionary Marxists from the sect.