The following statement was first published by the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) in December 1982.
Most workers today don’t think they need their own political party. As the capitalist economy collapses they will see this need in the near future. And many will see the need for an international party.
Throughout history most people have lacked food, clothing and shelter while the few lived in luxury. Then capitalism and industry arose. In the last century its drive for profits led it to subordinate all of humanity to its economic system. By working people to death, capitalism developed a technology, which could create abundance for all. But capitalism could only stay alive at the expense of workers, forcing them to produce more by keeping them at the edge of survival. And capitalism, while always oppressive, became in this century a system ridden with depressions, fascism and world wars.
Karl Marx pointed out that only a socialist revolution could bring a society of abundance for all. Marx and his followers led in building the First International of workers, founded in 1864. But conditions hadn’t yet ripened for socialism and this international eventually folded. A Second International was formed in the 1880’s and it became very large and strong. Capitalism had built not only massive factories but also a worldwide and powerful working class, which hated the bosses and their political flunkies.
In order to divide the powerful working class, capitalism gave better pay and treatment to one section of the working class, the labor aristocracy. The labor aristocrats were brainwashed into the idea that their enemy was low paid workers, workers of other races and oppressed nations, rather than the bosses. Due to influence of the labor aristocracy, major sections of the Second International rallied to defend the different capitalist nations in the first imperialist world war. Workers of one nation were led to kill their brother and sister workers of other nations.
Revolutionaries in the International, notably the Russian Bolsheviks led by Lenin, revolted against this treachery. Lenin and Trotsky led the Russian workers’ revolution in 1917; in 1919 the Bolsheviks joined with revolutionary workers around the world to form a Third International, dedicated to spreading the socialist revolution to all countries.
They knew that socialism could only be built upon abundance – which could only be produced by pooling the combined industrial power of many economically advanced countries, not just one poor country alone. They knew that only international unity could stop capitalism’s attacks on oppressed workers. Revolt stirred in many countries, but there were enough "privileges" to keep important sections of the workers of Europe and the U.S. from joining in.
A faction arose inside Russia and the Third International, which rather than fight for international revolution, rejected proletarian internationalism. It was led by Stalin, who justified his actions with the theory that socialism could be built in one country alone. He succeeded in gaining the leadership in Russia and of the international. In the hands of Stalin and his followers, representing the rising Soviet bureaucracy, the Third International misled and betrayed revolutions in China and Spain, allowed Hitler to come to power in Germany, and Russia itself headed back towards restoring capitalism.
Those who continued the fight for revolutionary socialism grouped around Trotsky. Trotsky and his followers fought for what Marxists had always understood: that the development of socialism demanded the defeat of capitalism internationally; therefore the only policy to maintain proletarian power in Russia was a revolutionary internationalist one. The Trotskyists built a new International, the Fourth, in 1938. But now that the power of Stalin’s Russia was added to that of the other capitalist nations, this International remained small. The Third International under Stalin’s leadership called for war. Only the Fourth International retained a revolutionary policy and did not side with any imperialist power in World War II.
Tragically, Trotsky was assassinated at Stalin’s orders in 1940 and some of the Trotskyist leadership was killed during the war. Later, unable to carry on its revolutionary tradition, the Fourth International disintegrated into bands of revolutionary pretenders. Today we in the LRP fight for the basic political views of Trotsky’s International. This is why the chief slogan of the LRP is to re-create the Fourth International. We must attempt to strengthen the international revolutionary program, re-create the organization that is needed and win masses of workers to it.
Today capitalism is wiping out all the past gains workers have won. Masses of workers internationally are rebelling against this system. Even in the U.S., highly paid workers as well as the most exploited and racially oppressed are under the gun. This will inevitably push a greater number of workers in a revolutionary direction. Workers must fight all further attempts by capitalism to pit them against workers of other nations, ethnic groups and races. This means defending national liberation struggles against imperialism but always stressing the necessity of the socialist proletarian revolution.
It is but a step from the recognition of capitalism’s basic destructiveness to an active search for an alternative. We urge all workers seeking to fight the capitalist nightmare we are presently forced to live in to join with us to build the leadership that the working class and human race requires.