Discussions of the International Committee of the Fourth International
The meeting of the International Committee of the Fourth International was held from 21 to 25 October. It brought together more than 80 comrades from over 30 countries on different continents. It was the first meeting in physical presence since the Covid epidemic. In the previous two years, the meetings had been held by videoconference, which had enabled many comrades to come together, since there were no obstacles in the way of visas and transport costs, but it has to be said that physical meetings are of a much higher human and political quality. We were able to welcome new observer organizations from Brazil, Ireland and the United States. Some twenty organizations were unable to attend, a number because of the restrictive visa policies in place.
The meeting was held against the backdrop of a particularly complex international situation, that of a multidimensional crisis, the scale of whose violence is illustrated by the wars in Ukraine and Palestine, but also by the situation in the Philippines, Indonesia and India, which are less well known in Europe.
But the meeting of activists from so many countries who are fighting for a different world, discussing ways of changing the balance of power, produces human and activist dynamics that make it possible to envisage a counter-offensive.
The discussion was structured around four main themes, with a view to the World Congress to be held in 2025. The first on the ecosocialist manifesto, which proposes a revolutionary programme adapted to the current period, the second on the analysis of the world situation, the third on the building of mass movements, and the fourth on the tasks of building the International.
Towards an updated programme for overthrowing capitalism
The meeting opened with a discussion on the draft of an ecosocialist Manifesto of the Fourth International for adoption at the Congress. Based on an analysis of the world situation, the aim is to formulate revolutionary perspectives appropriate to the period. The text is a tool for discussion within the International, between its sections, but also within each section, and then for looking outwards, to give new strength to an alternative project to capitalism. Despite the deep and multi-dimensional crisis of the system, despite the great mobilizations that exist throughout the world, there is no positive alternative today, no project that brings the proletariat together. We want to contribute to rebuilding such a perspective, by giving elements of the society we want to build.
The manifesto recalls the transitional approach which has prevailed in our tradition, linking on the one hand the immediate demands, the concerns of the masses, and on the other the questioning of capitalism, of private ownership of the means of production and the State, through a series of slogans and concrete projects which trace the path towards another society. For each element, we need to think about an approach that will enable the proletariat to mobilize, to become self-active, to emancipate itself, a process of political and cultural as well as material reappropriation.
This is the case for social slogans, from wages to social protection, and in all areas.
The draft text sets out in detail the slogans concerning the need for a global programme of just, ecosocialist degrowth, the reorganization of work and production, and equality; a programme of anti-imperialist development in the dominated countries; as well as an update of the strategy for seizing power, making the link between social resistance, alternative experiences in Mindanao, Rojava and Chiapas, and the need for a strategy to overthrow the established order, a seizure of power by the proletariat, based on self-organization, self-emancipation as a goal but also as a strategy.
After a half a day of regional meetings: Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the regular women's meeting, the plenary session restarted with an exchange linking the various elements of the situation: the pandemic and ecological crisis, the economic crisis and its consequences for social struggles, the rise of the far right and neo-fascist or ultra-authoritarian currents in various countries, and of course the war. The rise of authoritarianism is analysed in this context: “fractions of the bourgeoisie throughout the world have emerged and developed to support neo-fascism as a politico-ideological solution capable of hardening regimes, controlling mass movements with an iron fist, and imposing brutal adjustments and dispossessions in order to recover profit rates”. While the economic crisis is potentially the beginning of new debt payment crises at regional and even global level, with the consequences that this would have on the working classes.
The current wars are a sign of the ongoing “reconfiguration of the world geopolitical order”. It is tending to be structured around the confrontation between the bloc led by the United States and the bloc being built around China. Other imperialist powers are playing an important role, in particular Russia with the war in Ukraine. But the key element is China's ability to challenge the domination of Western imperialists in their historic spheres of influence. The IC rejects the campist tendencies that may exist in certain currents, which claim that Russia or China play an objectively progressive role vis-à-vis the Western bloc. In reality, confrontations between imperialists only bring misfortune to peoples and, while we oppose NATO and all imperialist agreements, we support the struggles of oppressed peoples in Ukraine, Sudan, Palestine, etc.
Meeting a few weeks after the 7 October offensive, the IC adopted a statement making the link between Ukraine and Palestine, because we denounce both Russia's and Israel's military offensives, we defend the right of peoples to liberate themselves, arms in hand, even though we share neither the political orientation of the Ukrainian government nor that of Hamas.
Rebuilding social movements against oppression and exploitation
The next discussion concerned intervention in social movements. Basically, it was a question of discussing the need, in the current period of crisis for the workers' movement on an international scale, for revolutionaries to contribute to the reconstruction of class consciousness and its organizations. This means building organizations for themselves, for what they contribute to the balance of power and the structuring of the proletariat, in particular by contributing to each other, by being the crucible of transitional anti-capitalist demands and self-organization.
The introduction and discussion also warned against the dangers of institutionalization - i.e. integration into the state apparatus or compromises with the bourgeoisie - and bureaucratization.
It was also a question of defining the principles for our intervention in these social movements. As well as helping to build them sincerely, and helping them to coordinate, we intervene to defend democratic principles, to combat fragmentation and leftism, and to put forward political slogans that challenge the system, while respecting the pace of the debates within them. The unions are the main tool for organizing the proletariat, but we also discussed intervention in the feminist movement - which has been particularly dynamic in recent years - the peasant movement, the indigenous movement, the environmental movement, the anti-racist movement, the LGBTQI movement, the disabled movement, and we need to continue the discussion between now and the congress, particularly on the youth movement, the movement for public services, the anti-debt movement and the anti-war movement.
Strengthening the International and its sections
The final discussion dealt with the tasks of building the International. Taking the global political context as a starting point, the need and the possibility to develop an alternative project on an international scale, and to strengthen the visibility of the International and its positions. We have taken a number of steps forward with the launch of the fourth.international website, mainly in English, French and Spanish, but also updated regularly in Arabic. Our news websites Punto de vista internacional, International Viewpoint, Inprecor and Al-Mounadil, our participation in various other online journals, and our book publishing activities enable us to promote positions and analyses on a range of subjects. We have decided to strengthen our presence by setting up more regular work teams.
Finally, the document and the debate highlighted the work being done to strengthen bodies such as the Executive Bureau, the secretariat - now largely international thanks to videoconferencing - the regional coordinations and the thematic commissions. It also underlines the efforts needed in educational work, with the schools built around the Amsterdam, Manila and Islamabad institutes, in youth work and in rebuilding international action campaigns, which have been in retreat since the retreat of the alterglobalization movement.
Lastly, we resumed discussions on the need for positive action among women - and other people suffering from patriarchal oppression - with single-sex meetings, the fight against sexist and sexual violence, and the concern to strengthen the presence of women in decision-making bodies. These discussions are not just theoretical; they link issues of principle with concrete discussions about the problems we face and how to solve them. The aim is also to extend these concerns to all spheres of oppression.
It can be said that, after the pandemic which put a brake on a number of the International's activities, this International Committee was an opportunity to resume the process of adapting the International to developments in the crisis of capitalism, to the achievements of the social struggles and to the updating of its political and militant project. It is now our collective responsibility, as leadership bodies and as grassroots activists, to bring these debates to fruition, to nourish them and to add our own experiences to them, in order to strengthen the role of our organization in the fight for human emancipation.