Documents : Fifteenth World Congress - 2003
A new world situation
1 The rise of contradictions among imperialist powers
1 The new structure of globalized capitalism contains the seeds of a substantial worsening of inter-imperialist rivalries among the three regional economic blocs, each structured around one of the three big economic powers. The US, the only "global" power, ensures the stability and persistence of the system of exploitation, while abusing its position of strength to impose its will on its rivals. The political result of the new war could substantially change the political and economic relationship of forces between the USA on one side and the imperialist powers (EU and Japan) and great powers (Russia, China) that are becoming integrated into the world market. The recession will sharpen them.
3 The European bourgeoisies have achieved an indisputable success with the adoption of the single currency. At the current stage the members of the Union are trying to take better advantage of the common economic space and to become more competitive on the world market. A succession of major merger and concentration operations has taken place among the most powerful industrial, commercial, financial and banking groups. The Single Market is moving forward in particular in the harmonization of financial markets. Since the Kosovo war the EU has set itself the goal of forming an armed force autonomous from the US. This is directly linked to the EU's eastwards enlargement, which is running into many obstacles, as the accession countries are obliged to introduce the required deregulation, privatizations and structural changes. By transforming the EU into a fortress (by means of the Schengen accords) the EU is trying to halt the flow of populations from south of the Mediterranean, Black Africa, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.
The dominant classes' will to advance towards a 'European great power' implies a reform of the EU institutions, which today are very hybrid, in order to arrive at a genuine supranational political leadership. The EU has managed to acquire the first core of a truly supranational state apparatus, surrounded by a series of steadily more coherent interstate coordinating bodies. But its construction is still transitional and fragile. It is cut across by major contradictions among the (larger) member states. It represents a retreat from parliamentary democracy. Its popular legitimacy remains very limited, thanks to its virulently anti-social policies. At the same time its dynamic remains at work, propelled by the general capitalist globalization and the needs of big European Capital. It is obliged to confront the obstacles and move forward, because retreating would lead to a serious crisis that would endanger everything that has been gained (particularly the monetary union).
Rivalry with the US is a major stimulus for the construction of a European state. US capitalism has a powerful state apparatus at its disposal, present on every continent. It constitutes an indispensable support structure for all the imperialist bourgeoisies. But at the same time the US uses it to favour its own multinationals in fierce battles on the level of economic competition and for spheres of political influence.
European big capital cannot pull back from its attempt to create its own European imperialist state. This state's emergence inevitably implies a new balancing act relative to the current US supremacy. This cannot happen without frictions and conflicts.
THE FALL OF THE STALINIST BUREAUCRACY, RESTORATION OF CAPITALISM AND INTEGRATION INTO THE WORLD ECONOMY
1 Crisis and capitalist restoration in the USSR and Eastern Europe
5 In all the EU accession countries, pressures to open up the economies and particularly banking to foreign capital intensified in the second half of the 1990s. More than 70 per cent of the banks are foreign-controlled in several Central European countries, including Poland, where unemployment is over 17 per cent.
The race to join the European Union, which is still the alibi for the unpopular policies imposed by Central European leaders, has accelerated the break-off of the richest regions, which have been casting off the ''budgetary burden''' of other regions in their haste to push themselves into the EU.
The accession countries have radically reoriented their trade towards the EU, and are now subject to the fluctuations of the EU's growth rates and contending with more or less structural trade deficits. By deepening poverty and unemployment, the criteria imposed by the EU on the accession countries are in fact making EU membership more and more costly - while the lid remains clamped down tight on the European budget. The EU will no doubt cut the aid given to Southern European countries rather than extend Common Agricultural Policy subsidies to Eastern European farmers.
The EU's failures in terms of the crisis in ex-Yugoslavia and the wars there have encouraged NATO's redefinition and eastward expansion. NATO's eastwards expansion enables the United States to have an influence on the future member states of the EU and on those of its periphery, in particular in the Balkans, offering the latter a substitute for EU membership.
6 Alternation in office without any real political alternative has become the norm behind the new political pluralism. Abstention rates continue to rise, it is hard to put together parliamentary majorities for governments, and financial scandals are spreading to taint all the parties in power, whatever their labels. The rapid and general return to office of ex-Communists through the ballot box has shown people's deep disillusionment with neo-liberal prescriptions and their hope for more social policies. But their hopes have been quickly dashed by the ex-Communist parties' social-liberal transformation.
Documents : Fifteenth World Congress - 2003
Role and tasks of the Fourth International
8 Within the European Union, brutal neo-liberal policies derive from a supranational, proto-state apparatus that directly affects every aspect of everyday life and therefore the lives of wage earners. Up against this, the official European trade-union movement has a disastrous record. Existing structures must be activated; direct initiatives must be taken. This includes: solidarity with specific struggles waged in one country but meaningful for all of Europe; co-ordination of sectoral strikes; development of campaigns and mobilizations around partial demands; and establishment of a comprehensive social programme. But above all, these trade-union problems immediately raise the necessity of a political strategy for the workers' and social movement, and an alternative to the existing society and state institutions (see the resolutions of the last World Congress).
We will continue our strategic task of contributing to an active trade-union movement in Europe, through activity in the major trade-union federations in the European Trade Union Confederation, in the radical unions and all movements and networks linked to the proletariat (for example the Euromarches movement). Practical links must also be made between union activists (shop stewards, etc.) to build genuine international solidarity within giant corporations and their subsidiaries.
1 Our goal is to form proletarian parties that:
• are anti-capitalist, internationalist, ecologist and feminist;
• are broad, pluralistic and representative;
• are deeply attached to the social question and steadfastly put forth the immediate demands and social aspirations of the world of labour;
• express workers' militancy, women's desire for emancipation, the youth revolt and international solidarity, and take up the fight against all forms of injustice;
• base their strategy on the extra-parliamentary struggle and the self-activity and self-organization of the proletariat and the oppressed; and
• take a clear stand for expropriation of capital and (democratic, self-managed) socialism.
2 The struggle for such parties will go through a series of stages, tactics and organizational forms, specific to each country. Such an anti-capitalist recomposition must pursue a key objective from the outset: creating an effective, visible polarization between it and all the forces loyal to social neo-liberalism (social democracy, post- Stalinism, ecologists, populists) in order to accelerate their crisis and give it a positive outcome.
• the presence of significant political forces, in which revolutionary marxist currents collaborate with important or emblematic currents or representatives who are breaking with reformist parties without necessarily arriving at revolutionary marxist positions;
• a respectful but close relationship with the social movement, where the recomposed organisation puts forward the movement's demands and actions;
• a formation recognized as representing something real in society, breaking the monopoly of parties loyal to social-neo-liberalism, thanks to the presence of elected representatives in assemblies on the local, regional national and (possibly) international (European) level elected by universal suffrage;
• a pluralist functioning that goes beyond simple internal democracy in a way that fosters both convergence and discussion, allowing for the functioning of a revolutionary Marxist current as an accepted part of a broader whole.
3 The experience of the last ten years shows that the non-sectarian, revolutionary left can play a key role in holding the line and keeping to a simultaneously radical and unitary orientation of this kind, combining extra-parliamentary action and electoral representation. In order to attain this goal, it has to follow a complex course made up of various stages and detours that enable it to accumulate forces, clarify the stakes step by step, re-activate militant milieus and patiently build links with the social movement.
Three major lessons of the past decade must be incorporated into our tactics from the beginning of this new political cycle:
• no broad left current in the established parties has organized itself and put itself forward as a vehicle for anti-capitalist recomposition:
• left-wing tendencies in social democracy are timid, not very reliable, and not very coherent;
• the large 'surviving' Communist parties are approaching their end, their stands against neo-liberalism have not led to an anti-capitalist political project and a democratic, pluralist mode of functioning (with the exception of Rifondazione), and no left-wing, non-Stalinist, nationally structured tendency has emerged;
• the major Green parties have not succeeded in playing the part of a real political and social alternative. Some of them (such as the German Greens) have definitively gone over to the side of the bourgeois state, and internal oppositions in these parties are not leading to the organization of a true, left-wing, social-ecologist opposition.
4 This does not mean that there is no interest or potential for anti-capitalist recomposition inthese parties and thesocial movement. The recomposition takes diverse forms. Our conclusion should not be to turn away from these parties and their activists. On the contrary, a broader recomposition in their directionthrough a systematic policy of common work and convergence is indispensable to creating a very broad pole of attraction to defeat social-neo-liberalism. But the crucial conclusion that flows from our experience is that, more than ever before, recomposition will depend on the growth of a strong, independent pole of attraction and an external relationship of forces that can attract and organize such sympathies.
Only the revolutionary left is currently in a position to take the initiative for anti-capitalist recomposition and keep it on course with a radical, pluralist, socially rooted project with a mass character. But this implies a deep, well-thought-out rejection of sectarianism in practice. It also means that rapprochements inside the revolutionary left can only be envisaged in the framework and through the common experience of this anti-capitalist recomposition.
5 Nevertheless, the issue of the regroupment of the revolutionary forces is put firmly on the agenda by these processes, since the revolutionary left cannot be a catalyst for broad regroupments unless it addresses its own divisions.
6 As the FI contributes to a vast reorganization of the workers, social and popular movements on a world scale, with the perspective of forming a new internationalist, pluralist, revolutionary, activist force with a mass impact, we must simultaneously strengthen our organization. This is not in order to compete with and defeat other international revolutionary currents, but in order to contribute as much as possible to building a new force while clarifying the essential theoretical lessons to be drawn from the experience of 20th century revolutions.