The 2010 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency, which took place in Marina di Massa a seaside town in Tuscany, Italy, from 1 to 8 of August, represented a great step forward for the International.
There were 250 comrades present, from the USA, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Pakistan and New Zealand. There were apologies from Morocco, Nigeria and Russia because of visa and passport difficulties.
The discussions on World Perspectives are the foundations from which everything else flows in terms of the perspectives and work in each country, our priorities, tasks, etc. A very comprehensive lead-of was given by comrade Alan Woods, who emphasized that the main lines of the perspectives of the International are entirely confirmed by the march of events. The instability on a world scale has only deepened since the World Perspectives document was drafted, in the autumn of 2009.
The scale of the present crisis is immense, reflecting all the contradictions that have been piling up for the last 30 years. The period we are now entering will not be like the last period. Not only can the bourgeoisie not afford any new reforms. It cannot afford to maintain the reforms that were conquered in the past. There is plenty of money for the banks, but not for hospitals, schools or pensions. The perspective is one of years or decades of low living standards, unemployment, cuts and austerity.
But the bourgeoisie faces a serious problem. The working class has been enormously strengthened for the last 50 years. Its organizations are fundamentally intact. The workers of France, Italy and other countries are not going to accept the destruction of the elements of a civilized existence without a fight. The stage will be set for an explosion of the class struggle on a world scale.
“The question is therefore not whether the workers will fight,” Alan emphasized. “The question is whether this International will be in a position to intervene in a serious way in the movements that will inevitably occur.”
After Alan’s lead-off there was a full, frank and democratic debate, during which a large number of amendments were considered. Most amendments were accepted, though some were not. There was an interesting discussion on the Italian amendments on fascism and Bonapartism. While much of what the comrades said in their amendment was correct, the majority felt that some of the formulations weren't quite precise enough and that it was more of a possible perspective in the future, not the immediate future. The IS version was accepted instead.
Some of the amendments of the Brazilian comrades were remitted so that a full discussion can be organised throughout the International. The final version of the World Perspectives document, with amendments incorporated, was approved by a unanimous vote.
The mass organizations
The important discussion on the Work in the Mass Organizations was also excellent and showed a high level of political maturity. Comrade Fred Weston led off.
Fred pointed out that the IMT is obliged to wage a constant struggle against both opportunism and ultra-leftism. The differences in our ranks that led to the departure of the majority of the former Spanish section and small groups of individuals in some other countries in the last year really boil down to differences on this question.
Fred stressed the message of The Communist Manifesto and Lenin’s Left Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder, namely, that the approach of Marxists is to go to the working class wherever they may be.
In the course of a very lively discussion there were many interesting contributions, including comrade Lal Khan from Pakistan, who spoke about developments in the PPP. Despite the horrendous degeneration of the PPP leadership, he pointed out that in 2007, when Benazir Bhutto, came back from exile, there were two million people on the streets to welcome her. He said: “We have to be where the masses are”.
This discussion, reflecting the experience of the last 15 years was long overdue and a welcome and needed addition to the political education of the cadres of the IMT.
IMT Balance Sheet of the International
The experience the IMT has passed through in the last year and a half was concentrated in the World Congress. The mood was one of confident but sober enthusiasm for the future, as our political perspectives are being confirmed and our methods are slowly but surely giving us concrete results, both quantitatively and above all qualitatively.
The balance sheet of the last period was given by Fred Weston. It was generally considered to be a very good lead-off, which concentrated on the political basis for the recent disputes in the International.
Comrade Fred drew a balance sheet of the experience we have just been through, with a sober analysis of the fundamental roots and genesis of the crisis, mistakes made, and above all a look at the political differences that had accumulated over a period, which then erupted suddenly, precisely at the moment the world economic crisis hit.
There was no reason why these differences should have led to a split, but it is quite wrong to say that there were no political differences. There were actually quite serious differences, although they could, and should, have been debated within the International, and not used as a pretext for splitting the IMT.
The splits in the IMT were not the result of secondary issues or small differences of opinion, and still less of “tone”. These differences had been developing over a long time. The “final straw” appears to be the result of either something trivial. But necessity expresses itself through accident.
The last year has been a serious test for our International. But we will have emerged strengthened if we are able to use the experience to raise the political level of all comrades. One of the positives of this situation is the discussion we have opened up in relation to the work in the mass organizations. This is also part of the balance sheet of the whole period.
The leaders of the former Spanish section preferred to split the International rather than accept the offer of a political debate. But they took hardly anybody else with them. Only in two sections (Mexico and Venezuela) did they have any support. Even so, the big majority of the section in Mexico, and a clear majority of the active membership in Venezuela remained firmly with the International. We are reorganizing our forces in Spain after the split-off of the former Spanish majority. We have comrades in Alava, Asturias, Galicia, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Mallorca and Madrid. In the Autumn the comrades will hold a congress and publish a paper.
We have had to fight a battle on two fronts. In Spain we were clearly dealing with an ultra left and sectarian deviation. In Sweden the problem was precisely the opposite: a revisionist and organically opportunist tendency. However, the latter represented a handful of people internationally and had little or no effect on the work of the International. The very firm opinion of the comrades in Sweden is that this split was a positive and inevitable development. The same view is held by the comrades in Venezuela, Mexico and Iran.
Many comrades intervened in the discussion of this point. While it was felt that we needed to analyse our mistakes honestly and draw the necessary conclusions, the view of most comrades was that as far as the IMT is concerned, the issue was now closed. Comrade Greg Oxley from France expressed the views of many delegates when he said: “Let’s turn the page and move on.”
The organizational report
The organizational report was delivered by comrade Ana Munoz, who gave a very comprehensive overview of the International.
Comrade Ana reported that there is so much going on internationally, and new possibilities arising and groups developing, it is difficult to cover it all. We have 24 full sections in 5 continents. Embryonic sections exist in Iran, Serbia, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Australia. In India, there are comrades in 4 different states, who produce a paper, and are preparing to launch a website soon, and hundreds of contacts.
In Italy, the situation in Pomigliano Fiat is a real turning point for the section and the Italian working class. (See website for the very exciting and inspiring reports). The Italian comrades are right in the eye of the hurricane on this. The work in Rifundazione Comunista is still important. The Marxist tendency won the support of 40 branches in the last Congress of the RC and it holds a majority in many locals, youth branches, etc.
The Congress heard from a new section in New Zealand, who made a big sacrifice to travel to Europe to be able to attend the IEC and the World Congress. For the last 3 or 4 years comrades have been patiently developing the work, and step by step they have become a viable section. They now have a regular paper and are conducting work in the Labour Party and the unions.
Morocco is our first section in Arab world. Unfortunately, the comrades were unable to attend because of visa difficulties. They have contacts throughout Arab world, mainly through the Arab-language website of the IMT (Marxy.com). They also publish a paper and conduct work among the students. They are working in various areas of the country and have begun to do work in the unions as well.
Work in Iran
The work in Iran deserves a special mention. After the desertion of a handful of people, the Iranian group is developing far faster and better than before. It is the unanimous view of the Iranian comrades that these people was holding the work back and discrediting the IMT in the eyes of politically active Iranians, and that it would have been impossible to advance as long as we were associated with them.
The Iranian comrade who spoke at the Congress caused a very good impression. He informed the Congress of the publication of the new group’s website Mobareze.org. They distributed 1,000 copies of our first leaflet in at least four different cities on June 12, the anniversary of last year’s rigged election. One week later they published a paper called Mobarezeye Tabagathi, which was distributed in two cities and has been very well received. The comrades are translating Trotsky’s book on Fascism and the Bolshevism – the Road to Revolution into Farsi.
There are contacts and individual comrades or small groups in a dozen other countries such as Cuba, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Hungary, Niger, Iraq, Palestine (Gaza), We have contacts in Slovakia, Honduras, and other countries. The work in Ireland has taken an important step forward with the launching of a paper. We are preparing to hold a founding congress in India.
The overall picture of the work of the sections was very positive, with not a trace of any pessimism, but on the contrary a sense of quiet and confident optimism.
The Pakistan section of the IMT has to work in the most difficult and dangerous conditions in the world. There is a daily horror show of bad news: power cuts, plane crashes, suicide bombings, etc. More people are killed in violence from bombings and assassinations in Pakistan than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Now, on top of all this, we have the worst flooding in decades. One of the responsibilities of one of the full timers is to call every region daily to make sure all the comrades are still alive.
Comrade Lal Khan from Pakistan spoke of the terrible devastation caused by the floods: thousands of people in Pakistan have lost their lives in the flood and 20 million have been affected. The floods were directed away from the fields where it would have destroyed the crops, into the villages where it was only people who would be destroyed! The destruction is unprecedented.
The Panamerican Bureau, formed to help the IS develop the work in the Americas, also met during the Congress. The work in Latin America is developing very well, with new successes in Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil. The new edition of America Socialista has just come out, and plans are being made for the next Pan-American School of the IMT, which will be held in Brazil at the end of March, 2011 (details to follow soon).
In the international workers' movement (as opposed to the rarified sub-world of the sectarian email lists and Facebook) the political authority of the IMT has never been higher. Our ideas are reaching a wider audience than ever and are getting an echo. The success of our website Marxist.com has been phenomenal and continues to grow. In the past twelve months there have been 1.15 million visitors to In Defense of Marxism – an increase of 17% since last year.
We need to understand how we are perceived outside the International. People from every single country have visited IDOM. There has been a 23% increase in visits from U.S. The largest number of hits was to the Tet Offensive article (40,000 visits). A large number of people are watching this International very carefully. More than we think. Our strength is our ideas.
The final session was introduced by comrade Niklas Albin Svensson, who stressed the willingness of many comrades to sacrifice a lot for the International, especially in the recent period. There is a remarkable willingness to support the work, as shown by the very successful campaigns to pay for the Bolivian printer and also the Indonesia book appeal.
Many sections have decided to raise their International dues by 10%. And many sections have stepped up to take on expenses related to work of International. We raised the biggest collection in Winter Collection. Even without the large donation we received from the Spanish section in the past the total amount was double last year’s: 12,000 euro. Last, but not least, the World Congress collection raised a record amount: over 40,000 Euros. This was another concrete reflection of the general mood of political enthusiasm for the work of the IMT that permeated the Congress.
The Congress showed clearly that the IMT has emerged strengthened, not weakened by the disputes of the last year. It was clear from the excellent quality of the speeches from the delegates that an important layer of younger comrades has emerged in the course of this experience which is willing to learn, work and build the IMT.
The mood both in and out of the sessions was one of quiet optimism. There were a lot of conversations in the evenings between comrades from different sections. As a result of an initiative taken by some young comrades, a commission on Marxism and art was held, which attracted a lot of interest, with the attendance of about 30 comrades from 10 different sections. It was agreed to produce a Manifesto on Art, on the lines of the Manifesto for a Revolutionary and Independent Art that Trotsky wrote together with Andre Breton in the 1930s.
This 2010 World Congress marked a closure to the period of the split-away of the former Spanish leaders, and it is time to turn our energies outward and build the organization, to take advantage of the many opportunities opening up for us. The enthusiasm and optimism of the delegates and visitors at the Congress was expressed in the record collection, which was a concrete reflection of the mood throughout the International, a sober and realistic enthusiasm, based on a clearer understanding of our methods and perspectives.
In his closing remarks, Comrade Alan Woods answered those who have lately been pronouncing the IMT dead. Quoting the words of the famous American writer Mark Twain, he said, to general laughter: “rumors of my death have been exaggerated”.
Calling the delegates’ attention to the fact that this was the seventieth anniversary of the assassination of Trotsky, Alan stressed the need to remind ourselves who we are and where we come from. In moving terms he underlined the terrible problems facing Trotsky in the last period of his life, the persecutions and personal torment suffered by Lev Davidovich and Natalia Sedova, and their absolute dedication to the cause: “the only cause worth fighting for: the cause of the emancipation of the working class.”
At the end, all the delegates and visitors came to their feet and sang the International with an unmistakable fighting spirit. The 2010 World Congress had ended. But the work had only just begun.
(We hope to publish fuller versions of the lead-offs and documents in the near future).