In the first week of August 2004 a meeting of almost 300 Marxists from 26 countries, including Venezuela and Cuba, met in Spain to discuss the world situation and the tasks of the international revolutionary Marxist tendency. This was for many reasons an historic turning point that registered a qualitative advance of the forces of Marxism on a world scale.
The first thing that struck one was the sheer extent of the operations of the Marxist tendency worldwide. The countries represented were as follows:
Canada, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Spain, Ireland and Britain. This makes a total of 26 countries. However, there were ten other countries that were unable to participate for valid reasons.
Apologies were received from the comrades in Turkey, Cyprus, Peru, Nigeria, Morocco, Lebanon, India, Australia and Slovenia. In most cases, they were unable to attend because of visa and other legal problems. Also prevented from attending by visa difficulties was the official representative of an important Communist organization from the Philippines. Esteban Volkov, Trotsky’s grandson, and Pierre Broué, the famous French Marxist historian, were unable to attend but they sent messages to the conference, which you will find at the end of this text.
A most important development for the international Marxist tendency was the presence of two comrades from Ireland and Cuba, Celia Hart from Cuba and Gerry Ruddy, the Political Secretary of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Both comrades were present as observers. Comrade Gerry was present in an official capacity, representing the IRSP. We reproduce his address to the meeting separately on today’s web page.
Comrade Celia Hart, on the other hand, was attending for the first time as an observer. Celia comes from a family of veteran Cuban revolutionaries who fought against the Batista dictatorship together with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. She has written a series of articles in defence of Trotsky that have been widely circulated in Cuba and internationally and have caused quite a stir. She was very enthusiastic about the meeting and had many discussions with comrades from different countries.
At a time when world imperialism is striving to isolate and destroy the Cuban revolution, it is obviously necessary for all revolutionaries to defend Cuba against imperialism and the forces of capitalist counterrevolution. The Trotskyists will be in the front line of this struggle. And it is essential that we should commence a fraternal dialogue with those forces in Cuba who are fighting to defend the gains of the Revolution against capitalism and imperialism and for the victory of the socialist revolution throughout Latin America. The presence of comrade Celia Hart at this meeting marked a significant step forward in this direction and was seen as such by the Conference.
Although they could not be present, the Moroccan and Peruvian Marxists formally expressed their wish to join the Marxist international tendency, as did the Iranian comrades – an extremely important development, especially in the light of the developing pre-revolutionary situation in Iran. The Iranian comrades actually sent a full transcription of the proceedings to the comrades in Iran, who were informed of it before anyone else in the world: a striking example of the law of combined and uneven development.
Particularly significant was the participation of the comrades from the Venezuelan Revolutionary Marxist Current (CRM). Initially we were expecting a large delegation of up to twenty comrades and visitors from Venezuela, but this was prevented by the fact that all our comrades were actively participating in the referendum campaign. In the event, three comrades were able to attend all or part of the proceedings, including comrade Ricardo Galindez, the veteran Venezuelan Marxist, worker activist and editor of the Marxist newspaper El Topo Obrero.
Another welcome “first” was the presence of four comrades from Israel, where the work of the Marxists is obviously extremely difficult. The Israeli delegation, which was headed by the veteran Israeli Marxist and regular contributor to Marxist.com Yossi Schwartz, was clearly encouraged and enthused by the week’s activities and returned fully determined to carry the work forward.
Most of the participants were young comrades, who displayed enormous and contagious enthusiasm for the ideas of Marxism and a tremendous determination to build the forces of revolutionary Marxism on a world scale. But there were also a significant number of experienced worker cadres and veterans of the Marxist movement from many countries.
Among these was a young shop steward, a member of the central committee of the FIOM, the Italian metalworkers’ union, and members of the national leadership of the Italian Communist Party (Rifondazione Comunista). The very large delegation from Spain included many leading worker, Communist and youth activists, including the general secretary of the Students Union.
The British delegation included trade union activists from Amicus (the metal workers union). Among the French comrades was a shop steward of Areo-Spaciale. From Pakistan there was the leading Marxist and editor of the Asian Marxist Review Lal Khan and the famous Marxist parliamentarian Manzoor Ahmed. Two other Pakistani Marxist MPs who had intended to come were prevented from attending by some serious last-minute difficulties. Many other outstanding comrades from Pakistan were unable to obtain visas as a result of the vicious racist immigration regulations of the “democratic” European Union. However, the comrades showed a marvellous video of their activities, including scenes taken inside the National Assembly, showing the agitational speeches of the Marxists in Pakistan’s reactionary parliament. These scenes, which were strikingly reminiscent of the Bolshevik faction in the tsarist Duma, provoked stormy applause from the delegates and visitors.
A Marxist conference is not like a conference of reformist or Stalinist bureaucrats. It is a political event that concentrates on ideas. It attempts to work out the general perspectives of the world revolution, as a guide to the action of the Marxists in different countries. Without understanding the general tendencies it is impossible to develop the revolutionary struggle effectively in any country. That is the essence of proletarian internationalism.
The conference therefore opened with a two-day debate on world perspectives, which was opened and closed by comrade Alan Woods, the well known British Marxist and editor of Marxist.com. The discussion was extremely rich and wide-ranging. There was complete agreement on the fundamental lines of the document, which was unanimously approved at the end of the debate. The new world perspectives document is now being edited for publication and will appear shortly on Marxist.com in several instalments. Alan’s speech is also being prepared for publication in the immediate future.
In the course of this debate, comrade Gerry Ruddy, the Political Secretary of the IRSP, delivered a speech that was warmly welcomed by the delegates and visitors. The text of his speech we are publishing separately, Gerry Ruddy, General Secretary of the Irish Republican Socialist Party addresses the international Marxist Conference
The next major debate was on Venezuela. This was awaited with eager anticipation by the delegates and visitors. The debate was jointly opened by comrades Ricardo Galindez and Jorge Martin. Readers of Marxist.com will remember that comrade Galindez was shot in the chest last year by the hired agents of the bosses, and we launched a campaign of solidarity at that time. He still bears the scars of that attempt on his life but is more determined than ever to fight for the socialist transformation of society in Venezuela and internationally.
Comrade Jorge Martin is another regular contributor to Marxist.com who recently returned after a lengthy trip to Venezuela. The meeting listened attentively as both speakers outlined the process of the revolution. It was clear to all that at this point in time Venezuela stands at the very front line of the world revolution. Upon the fate of the Venezuelan revolution lies the destiny of the revolution in Latin America and the future of Cuba. The organic connection between the events in Venezuela and the revolutionary ferment in the whole of Latin America was stressed by one speaker after another.
In one of the intervals the Spanish comrades showed a video about Venezuela made by a Spanish comrade who attended the International Solidarity Conference in Caracas in April. Among other things it contains the speech made by Alan Woods in the Miraflores Palace, which we hope to make available on Maxist.com soon.
The last days of the meeting were taken up by organizational questions. The international report, which was delivered by comrade Fred Weston, showed very clearly the spectacular advances made by the international Marxist tendency in the past two years. Our website has carved out a very large audience and is followed by many thousands of activists in practically every country and continent in the world.
But the website is only a small part of our general activities. We are successfully carrying the ideas and programme of revolutionary Marxism into the mass movements everywhere. Our tendency is increasingly well known and respected. The scope of our work is constantly increasing and tends to outstrip our organizational and financial capabilities. To cite just one example, our material is now circulating in Afghanistan: in Kabul and other cities.
The successes of the Marxist tendency impose new responsibilities and places ever-greater burdens and duties on our shoulders. We do not shirk these responsibilities: we welcome them. While others experience the problems of crisis and decline and look to the future with pessimism and scepticism, our problems are the problems that derive from growth. We look to the future with supreme confidence, and we will find solutions to every problem.
The question of financial resources comes to the first rank. Our expenses constantly increase as our work expands. We do not have any wealthy backers and must raise our finances exclusively through the dedication and sacrifices of our comrades and sympathisers, from the workers and youth.
The collection raised an impressive 31,000 Euros (approximately £20,000)
At the end of the meeting, a resolution was passed entitled Fight imperialism! Defend the Venezuelan and Cuban Revolutions!
The meeting ended with the singing of the Internationale.
Pierre Broué and Esteban Volkov send messages to conference
Message from Pierre Broué:
The following messages were received from Pierre Broué, the outstanding historian of the world Trotskyist movement, and Esteban Volkov, the grandson of Leon Trotsky:
“To you, my friends and comrades, meeting in the second greatest city of the European working class after Petrograd in order to prepare a shining future, I send my affection and admiration for your work in the last century and the beginning of the new one.
“You are one of the best instruments of humanity, and possibly the best.
"Thank you for existing, for fighting, and for providing help for all the class fighters in the world."
Message from Esteban Volkov
“From Mexico, 64 years after Leon Trotsky was struck down in the front line of the revolutionary struggle, I wish to convey to you the joy that I feel when I see that his ideas and principles are being taken up again with vigour and enthusiasm by the new generation.
“Comrade militants! There is a road – the road of struggle - the road that was opened up by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky and an innumerable multitude of revolutionary heroes who carried, and still carry, the banner of the fight for socialism. The vigorous, energetic and indomitable personality of the great revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his absolute confidence in the socialist future of humanity, which he retained until the last moments of his life, are an imperishable inspiration and example for those who are fighting for a world without violence, oppression and exploitation: a world governed by justice and well-being for all.”