This article was produced several months ago by our Italian comrades of Sinistra, Classe, Rivoluzione in response to a polemic by Francesco Ricci concerning the counter-revolutionary demonstration in Cuba last year, which he supported. Ricci’s organisation (the PDAC) inherits the tradition of Nahuel Moreno, a leader of the Argentine Trotskyist movement who historically swung back and forth between ultra leftism and opportunism.
A few weeks ago, PDAC, the Italian section of the International Workers League - Fourth International (IWL-FI), wrote a polemic against the position we took for the defence of the Cuban Revolution and in opposition to the reactionary and pro-imperialist 15N movement in Cuba (which favours capitalist restoration on the Caribbean island). This is not the first time that PDAC comrade, Francesco Ricci, has paid so much attention to us. He has now invited us to take part in a ‘debate of ideas’. We will take note of this. In the past, the same Ricci used to begin political debates by mocking the size of the groups against which he was “debating” (either their real size, or the one guessed by him). For example, there was an occasion when he called us a “tiny group” that publishes a “small magazine”.
For our part, we will not limit ourselves to replying to his analysis of the situation in Cuba and the tasks faced by Marxists there. We will also attempt to trace back the theoretical roots of the very serious opportunist deviation of PDAC and the IWL-FI – that is, the tendency of ‘Morenism’. It is this deviation that has led them into siding with the ‘Archipelago’ coalition – a group that is spearheading the pro-imperialist front fighting for a complete restoration of capitalism in Cuba.
In fact, only an in-depth analysis can possibly explain the theoretical zigzags and u-turns of a tendency that: liquidated itself in the ranks of Peronism in the 1950s; equated Fidel Castro with Lenin and Trotsky in the 1960s; proposed a “united anti-imperialist front” with the Argentine military junta during the Malvinas/Falklands war in 1982; criticised Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution in the 1960s, and again in the 1980s; considered the counter-revolutions that restored capitalism in the USSR and in the East European countries in 1989-1991 to be “democratic revolutions”; identified themselves as “close to the Free Syrian Army” – a pro-imperialist militia controlled by Erdōgan during the Syrian civil war; applauded the fascists gangs of the Maidan movement in Ukraine as the vanguard of the world revolution; and considered the Taliban in Afghanistan to be an anti-imperialist movement.
A problem of method and of the ABCs of Marxism
As is well known, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Despite his declared commitment to debate without distorting his opponents’ ideas, Ricci’s article is full of short, often extremely short, quotes taken out of context. In the last few years, this scrapbook of quotes has served him well. At almost regular intervals, he has reproduced the same collage of an article attacking our alleged vices (that we are “Castroist-Chavistas”, “strategic entryists”, etc.).
In the heat of the debate, the number of inaccuracies has grown. Before addressing the Cuban question, we will touch on one of his most significant inaccuracies. Let us give the floor to Ricci himself:
“SCR [Sinistra, Classes, Rivolutzione – Italian section of the IMT] and the IMT take up the old anti-Marxist theory of ‘governments that can be conditioned by the masses’. That is, while opposing ‘ordinary’ bourgeois governments, they support the possibility that, under the pressure of the masses, ‘left’ bourgeois governments (i.e., composed of reformist parties, or parties that they consider to be reformist in any case) can evolve toward a progressive direction. Only in the light of this theory can it be explained why the British section of the IMT fought until recently for a Labour Party government (at the time headed by Corbyn) on a socialist programme.”
What a lot of confusion! Here, Ricci is suggesting that Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione (SCR) thinks that the pressure of the masses on a reformist government can lead to socialism. The only argument brought to bear on his thesis is the slogan that our British comrades of Socialist Appeal used during the 2017 election campaign: “Labour to power on a socialist programme”. Given the objective fact that revolutionaries are a small minority in the workers’ movement, this slogan served to assist the still predominantly reformist mass of workers in acquiring political experience, by explaining what the Labour Party should do if elected to power to advance the interests of the working class. This has nothing to do with the actual behaviour of the reformist leaders – in this case, of Jeremy Corbyn. This slogan was part and parcel of the tactical heritage of the Trotskyist movement since the 1930s and the days of the Fourth International (FI), from its foundation in 1938 up until 1947. It was a tactic applied by most of the main sections of the FI in specific concrete situations, particularly where they found themselves working in the presence of mass social-democratic or Stalinist organisations (e.g. Great Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Greece, etc.)
In reality, Ricci is also arguing against Lenin, who, criticising the English Communist Sylvia Pankhurst in 1920, wrote:
“On the contrary, the fact that most British workers still follow the lead of the British Kerenskys or Scheidemanns and have not yet had experience of a government composed of these people – an experience which was necessary in Russia and Germany so as to secure the mass transition of the workers to communism – undoubtedly indicates that the British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers see the results of a Henderson and Snowden government in practice, and that they should help the Hendersons and Snowdens defeat the united forces of Lloyd George and Churchill. To act otherwise would mean hampering the cause of the revolution, since revolution is impossible without a change in the views of the majority of the working class, a change brought about by the political experience of the masses, never by propaganda alone.”
The correctness of the tactics followed by our International has also recently received striking confirmation from one bitter class enemy: the British Secret Service. Some recently declassified files of the MI5 attest to the fact that in the 1970s, the growth of the Militant (the forefather of Socialist Appeal) within the Labour Party alarmed Her Majesty’s secret services. They saw a real danger in the developing connections between the revolutionary ideas of Marxism and the mass of workers adhering to the Labour Party. The question of revolutionary tactics, however, would appear to be a sealed book for the leadership of PDAC. They should at least have the consistency of accusing Lenin and Trotsky of revisionism too. On the contrary, instead of analysing his position in depth and in the light of the classics of Marxism, Ricci proceeds with his usual indictment:
“This revisionist position on the state is combined in the IMT-SCR with a rejection of the vanguard party as understood by Marx and Lenin. We have already dealt with this issue in an article a few years ago, to which we refer: ‘Le nostre differenze con Scr (e le differenze di Scr col marxismo)’ [Our differences with SCR (and the differences between SCR and Marxism)]. It suffices to say here that the IMT and SCR see in the Trotskyists only a spur for the development of the allegedly progressive leaderships in the reformist parties. These, in turn, are seen as the ‘natural’ organisations of the class – and hence, their habit of building through permanent entryism in these organisations (even when they have already been transformed for decades into purely liberal parties, as it is the case with Labour Party in Britain – which is now expelling them). The only exception allowed to this rule, is when (as it is the case in Italy) there is no party in which to enter. Thus, they proceed with the external building of their organisation, while waiting for the emergence of a party in which to enter (until a few years ago SCR was waiting for the building of a ‘party of labour’ by … Landini [Maurizio Landini – General Secretary of the CGIL, the Italian General Confederation of Labour]).”
With an excessive attachment to his own criticism of “permanent entryism”, Ricci dispenses with reality. Rather, he slanderously accuses us of having rejected the notion of the vanguard party. He then fabricates arguments in favour of his thesis, and claims that we are passively waiting for the building of a “party of labour by … Landini”. However, the facts speak for themselves. As Lenin used to say, “facts are stubborn things”. So, what are the facts?
In 2006, Ricci and his comrades split away from the Partito di Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) to found the PDAC. It is not clear on what “principle” it was acceptable to participate in a reformist party such as the PRC for approximately 15 years (even occupying leadership positions), while after that date, such participation constituted “rejection of the vanguard party”. In any case, that was the beginning of PDAC. But there is a great distance that needs to be covered between proclaiming oneself to be a “party” and actually being one.
In the 15 years since the split, the PDAC comrades have often argued against our organisation on this point. They accuse us of having given up on the task of building a revolutionary party. But the facts speak for themselves. The forces initially organised by the PDAC have only reduced in numbers, partly because of a series of internal splits and conflicts. To proclaim oneself a party or to call for the formation of “fronts of struggle” – which then completely slip past the attention of the working class – is a self-referential, self-consoling practice. It is not “Leninism”.
As for the work carried out in recent years by our organisation to spread Marxist ideas – building among young people, in the workplace, in the trade union movement, in the environmentalist movement, in the women’s movement, etc. – anyone who judges objectively cannot fail to see that this work ranks above that carried out by any other organisation in terms of both quantity and in quality. We have the impression that this is not the last of the reasons why comrade Ricci regularly feels the urge to attack us with articles akin to the one we are dealing with here.
Before dealing specifically with our position on Cuba, and the criticism of the IWL-FI, we must draw our readers’ attention to other inaccuracies in the ‘collage’ of quotations constructed by Ricci.
He writes that one of our articles (The 8th congress of the PCC and the challenges facing the Cuban revolution, 7 June 2021 by Jorge Martín) is “all a praise of Raul Castro… And, in an impulse of imagination, Raul Castro is compared to Lenin who during the debate on NEP defended the importance of the monopoly on foreign trade”.
Cunningly, Ricci extrapolates quotations taken from our article with the sole purpose of giving the impression that SCR and the IMT support the prospect of a reform of the Cuban bureaucracy. In reality, in Jorge Martín's article, there is a whole paragraph entitled “Differences with the NEP”. But there is no trace of this in Ricci’s “cut and paste” collection of quotations. Here is what we actually wrote:
“Clearly Raúl Castro's speech at the VIII Congress was directed against those who wanted rapid advances towards the restoration of capitalism, something that we cannot but applaud. However, the problem is that the economic reforms applied so far are going precisely in that direction, although perhaps not as quickly as some would like.
“As we have previously explained, the measures adopted under the name of the Ordering Task head in the direction of increasing market mechanisms within the Cuban economy, applying them to the evaluation of the efficiency of state sector companies, prioritising material incentives and competition between companies, the elimination of the principle of universality of social policies, etc. […]
“In reality, despite the words Raúl Castro used in his report, the course of economic policy in Cuba is clear. The measures approved ten years ago, and above all the turn of the Ordering Task, represent a set of reforms that have their own dynamic: the strengthening of the market to the detriment of planning, and the strengthening of private accumulation to the detriment of the state sector. This dynamic is independent of the subjective will of those who apply the reforms.”
We will leave it to our readers to judge for themselves the slander spread by PDAC.
Revolution and counter-revolution in Cuba
On 14 November 2021, The IWL-FI published a declaration titled, “Cuba. Full support and solidarity with the 15N mobilisations! No to imperialist interference!” In the article, we read the following:
“The protest, called by the Archipelago group and dozens of activists who took part in the July 11 protests, essentially calls for the release of political prisoners, and, in general terms, the guarantee of fundamental democratic rights in the country, such as freedom of expression, of assembly and of organisation. It is not a spontaneous political action like that of 11 July, but its axis of demands is progressive.”
In order to appear that they are not fully capitulating to pro-imperialist forces, the IWL-FI hastened to give the organisers of the protest scheduled for the following day their advice:
“On the one hand, Archipelago and the main organisers of tomorrow’s march must safeguard the strictest political independence from imperialism and its agents, and in this sense, must promote the self-organisation and free democratic participation of broad dissatisfied sections of the working class.”
So who are the organisers behind Archipelago, and what do they want? On this question, our comrade, Jorge Martín, has provided an excellent analysis:
“The main promoter of the Archipelago platform is the playwright Yunior García Aguilera. He was recently incorporated into the ‘deliberative council’ of Cuba Próxima, one of many organisations dedicated to promoting capitalist restoration (‘the rule of law’) in Cuba. To give you an idea of the character of this coterie, Esperanza Aguirre, reactionary Spanish politician of the PP, tainted by several corruption scandals, is part of its ‘international advisory committee’. But that is not the worst of it. Among other ‘gems’ in the ‘deliberative council’ of Cuba Próxima includes Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, leader of the so-called Cuban Democratic Directorate and the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance: both reactionary exile organisations in Miami that receive millions of dollars from different US government agencies (NED, USAID, IRI). On 12 July of this year, Gutiérrez-Boronat roared from Miami demanding a military intervention in Cuba, something that he had already called for in December 2020.”
For the benefit of those still in doubt about the character of Archipelago, in the above article Jorge Martín quotes some fundamental points from the group’s programme:
“For the avoidance of doubt, the programme of 50 measures announced by the Council is quite explicit: ‘The ultimate goal… must be to turn Cuba into a market economy in which the private sector, privately owned companies, are the axis of the economy’, which would be achieved through a ‘process of open and transparent privatisation of state companies, agencies and assets, including productive land’. To this package of restorationist and monetarist measures they add a ‘special plan to compensate for the expropriations of the revolutionary period’ that would allow ‘the improvement of relations with the United States’ (read: ‘servile subordination’).”
To offer “full support” to Archipelago’s platform, from any angle, ultimately means placing oneself in the camp of the counter-revolution, independently of one’s intentions. After his arrival in Spain, Yunior Garcìa – the leader of the Archipelago platform whom the IWL-FI describe as “progressive” and to whom they address themselves – met with the representatives of the right-wing PP, and with the Venezuelan coup leader, Leopoldo Lòpez.
In fact, the PDAC position represents a systematic tendency to support any movement that opposes what PDAC calls “Castroism-Chavism”. They cunningly guard their consciences in the case of a victory of the reactionary forces, by claiming that from the beginning they have stood for independence from bourgeois interference and against imperialism. We would stress, however, that irreconcilable struggle against openly pro-imperialist factions of Cuban émigrés is insufficient:
“Today, the revolution is not only threatened by the CIA and by the Cuban bourgeoisie in Miami, but also by a more insidious danger: the threat of capitalist restoration on the model of China, or Vietnam, as it is commonly referred to in Cuba.
“New rounds of liberalisation have been announced in recent months. Private employment is now permitted for over 2,000 jobs (up from 127), in companies employing up to 100 workers. Today, the private sector employs over 600,000 people, that is 13% of Cuban workers. 40% of those are employed in tourism and transport industries. This is the material basis for the increase in social inequality in Cuba, a cancer that will destroy the planned economy from within. This is the greatest threat to the future of the revolution.”
In our opinion, the key points in defending the achievements of the Cuban revolution are the struggle for workers’ democracy and proletarian internationalism. We are confident that, with such a line, we will have no problem entering into dialogue with those movements, such as the “pañuelos rojos” (Red Bandana) which, although heterogeneous and in a minority at the moment, express the revolutionary tendencies with the most vitality emerging from the communist youth of Cuba.
Furthermore, it is not merely a question of calling for “more socialism”, as Jorge Martín explained in a discussion with the young Cuban communist, Aybar:
“We would say that it is not about ‘adding control from below’, nor about giving ‘greater power’, but that genuine workers' democracy is based precisely on the principle of the democratic and binding participation of the working class in decision making, and in the management of all common affairs. All power must be in the hands of the working class.”
“These debates that are taking place among Cuban communists need to be deepened. The hour is grave. The Cuban Revolution is at a decisive crossroads. To defend it, it is necessary to open the discussion and ideologically rearm the vanguard, particularly the youth. We must demand that all revolutionary currents of opinion are given full access to the state media. To fight the counterrevolution, it is essential to fight the bureaucracy with ‘confrontational methods’ and ‘public agitation.’ It is time to pass from words to deeds. There is no time to lose.”
What remains of Ricci’s slander about us “praising Raul Castro”, or that we are for the “reform of the bureaucracy”? The position of PDAC and the IWL-FI is based on the incorrect assumption that capitalism has been restored in Cuba for some decades now. This leads them directly into the arms of pro-imperialist reaction (indeed, we note that Ricci largely overlooks the economic side of the question).
The origins of Morenoism (1944-1960): Perón or not Perón?
The political career of the founder of the IWL-FI [the international tendency to which PDAC is affiliated], Hugo Miguel Bressano (1924-1987), also known as Nahuel Moreno, began in the early 1940s. As a young student, he joined the Partido Obrero de la Revolución Socialista (PORS), which at the time was regarded by the leadership of the Fourth International as a tentative attempt at unifying the forces of Trotskyism in Argentina. Moreno was expelled from the PORS in 1942. Following his expulsion, he joined the Liga Obrera Revolucionaria (LOR) of Liborios Justo (alias Quebracho), from which he was also expelled after just a few weeks. When the PORS disintegrated into about ten competing groups, Moreno founded the Grupo Obrero Marxist (GOM) in 1944, which began publishing a periodical, Frente Proletario, in November 1946. At the time, the main debate on the left focused around the question of the nature of the nascent Peronist movement.
The Second World War was a turning point in the history of Argentina, and it laid the basis for Peronism. As a large part of European and North American industry had been converted for the purposes of war production, Argentina was given an opportunity to develop its exports. It thus accumulated large sums of money that could be put to use in financing development plans. From the mid-1930s to 1943, the number of workers employed in industry increased from 600,000 to one million. For the first time in the history of Argentina, industrial output overtook agricultural output.
These objective conditions gave a new lease of life to the idea that Argentina could proceed along a path of “independent” capitalist development. Yet, for various reasons, no traditional political force (neither the conservatives, nor the Unión Civica Radical) built a mass movement on the basis of such a strategy. The political vacuum was therefore filled by soldiers organised in the United Officers’ Group (GOU), who overthrew the government of General Castillo.
The coup of 4 June 1943 was therefore extremely peculiar. Its aim was to prevent political power remaining in the hands of the section of the Argentinian oligarchy which wanted to completely subordinate the country to imperialism. With this forceful move, the national bourgeoisie, of which Colonel Domingo Perón was a representative [Perón was charged with running the Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión until 1943, a sort of Ministry of Labour], took up opposition against those economic sectors prone to Yankee “colonisation”. Although in the course of the war, the GOU sympathised with the Axis powers, it kept Argentina neutral until 28 March 1945, when it joined the now-victorious Allied front.
The slogans, declarations and uniforms of a regime or a political movement are an insufficient basis upon which to characterise it. Perón’s policy was based on involving the working class in the management of capitalism, in a firmly subordinate role. On the basis of Argentina’s most important social reforms throughout the 20th century (such as wage increases, pension rights, paid holidays, the peasant statute, etc.), Perón’s popularity grew enormously among the workers – especially among the most recently proletarianised strata of the population. Along with his own popularity, that of ‘his’ ministry, the Secretaría de Trabajo y de Previsión, also grew, and it was involved in building the Confederación General del Trabajo (the CGT, a trade union that in 1945 had more than half a million members).
Trotsky had already given a scientific explanation of this process by 1938. He applied the theory of the permanent revolution in a non-schematic way to explain how certain representatives of the bourgeoisie came to oppose imperialism, as was the case with Lazaro Cárdenas in Mexico:
“In the industrially backward countries foreign capital plays a decisive role. Hence the relative weakness of the national bourgeoisie in relation to the national proletariat. This creates special conditions of state power. The government veers between foreign and domestic capital, between the weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively powerful proletariat. This gives the government a Bonapartist character of a distinctive character. It raises itself, so to speak, above classes. Actually, it can govern either by making itself the instrument of foreign capitalism and holding the proletariat in the chains of a police dictatorship, or by manoeuvring with the proletariat and even going so far as to make concessions to it, thus gaining the possibility of a certain freedom from the foreign capitalists. The present policy of Cárdenas is in the second stage; its greatest conquests are the expropriations of the railroads and the oil industries. These measures are entirely within the domain of state capitalism. However, in a semicolonial country, state capitalism finds itself under the heavy pressure of private foreign capital and of its governments, and cannot maintain itself without the active support of the workers. That is why it tries, without letting the real power escape from its hands, to place on the workers’ organisations a considerable part of the responsibility for the march of production in the nationalised branches of industry.”
These remarks could describe all the regimes, commonly referred to as ‘populist’, that we’ve seen across Latin America, and which share the same features as the Cárdenas regime: Vargas in Brazil, Árbenz in Guatemala, the APRA in Perú and Perón in Argentina. Although the national bourgeoisie cannot be consistently revolutionary in these countries, it can still enter into conflict with foreign capitalism and with imperialism.
This is the origin of the permanent contradictions in the regime that came into existence in 1943. The polarisation of society into two camps split both the ruling class and the organisations of the working class. The Socialist Party (PS) and the Argentinian Communist Party (PCA) became part of the conservative and liberal opposition, Unión Democrática, which in actual fact was led by the US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Braden.
Among the myriad of groups formed after the failure of the PORS, Moreno’s GOM was the one that kept itself at the greatest distance from the wave of workers’ struggles in 1945-1947, out of which Peronism emerged as a leading force in the working class. However, Moreno’s criticism of the movement followed the same lines as those of the ‘democratic’ bourgeois tendencies, which were subservient to imperialism. According to Moreno, this was a “fictitious movement encouraged and supported by state officials and by the police”. Moreno was quick to reduce the complex relationship between the Peronist government and the workers’ union to some high-sounding but completely impressionistic formula (“the officialist unions are fascists or semi-fascists”)
At the same time, the GOM offered its advice to the trade unions headed by the PS and the PCA. Its visceral sectarianism led the GOM along the path of deserting those workers’ mobilisations led by the Peronist movement altogether, and to downplaying the significance of US imperialism’s support for the Unión Democrática. While the situation was certainly complex, a Marxist organisation should have taken part in the Peronist workers’ mobilisations, while maintaining a completely independent class outlook, and clearly distancing itself from the Unión Democrática.
When imperialist pressure led to Perón’s arrest, it was the intervention of the working class – culminating in the general strike called by the CGT on 18 October 1945 – that freed him. Four months later, Perón went on to win the presidential election.
The GOM became the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR) in 1948, but its position did not change. In 1949, Moreno was still referring to the strike of 18 October 1945 as a “mobilisation fabricated by the police, the military and nothing else”. Between 1945 and 1953, the slogan of the Morenoist group was for “a united front against the CGT”! Their neutrality on the question of imperialist interference in the country’s political life led the POR to accuse the bourgeois parties of not fighting sufficiently against Peronism. In reality, they were fighting Peronism, but they had no need for Moreno’s advice.
The POR even remained passive during the attempted coup of 1951, when Frente Proletario published a headline worthy of Pontius Pilate himself: “Against Peronism, the coup and the bourgeois opposition”. In reality, the POR was leaning towards the liberal bourgeois opposition, as evidenced by their campaign in favour of returning the pro-imperialist periodical La Prensa back to its original owners (the newspaper had been closed by Perón after it called for the overthrow of the government in February 1951). The POR was mixing the democratic demand for defence of the workers’ press (Frente Proletario and Voz Proletaria had also been closed) with the struggle by that section of the bourgeoisie linked to North American imperialism for its own freedom of expression. In addition, the POR continued its electoral support for the Communist Party, which they defined (one would assume with a straight face) as a party whose programme included “main formulations [which] coincide with those of the POR.”
To protect himself from the left, Colonel Perón obtained support from a splinter group, which split off from the Socialist Party in 1953: the Partido Socialista de la Revolución Nacional (PSRN). In a U-turn typical of Moreno, the following year saw the POR merge into this left-wing Peronist group. Moreno justified his turn retrospectively, claiming that it was only by this point that the strength of the US plan to dominate Argentina had become clear to him. He even added that the PCA – which he himself electorally supported – had been “the transmission belt in the workers’ movement of these colonisation plans” over the course of years.
The goal now switched to building a “centrist party of the legal left”. During the 1955 coup, the Buenos federation of the PSRN – headed by what was the POR, and the paper of which was La Verdad – failed to raise the call for workers to mobilise independently against the coup. Instead, they limited themselves to supporting an institutional solution based on the election of a Peronist senator from the CGT as vice-president of the Senate, should Perón resign.
After the coup of 1955, Moreno formed the Movimiento de Agrupaciones Obreras (MAO), publishing Unidad Socialista. This was followed by Palabra Obrera (1957), which represented the turning point towards its political liquidation within Peronism (a move already theorised in the pages of Estrategia by Milciades Peña in 1956). Palabra Obrera was subtitled, “organo del Peronismo obrero revolucionario” [“Organ of revolutionary, working-class Peronism”], and later, “bajo la disciplina del Gral. Peron y del Consejo Superior Justicialista” [under the discipline of General Peron and the Higher Judicial Council]. To be sure, this was not just a question of outward appearance. The 27 March 1958 issue of Palabra Obrera invited readers to follow Perón’s instruction to vote for the bourgeois candidate, Arturo Frondizi, in the presidential election. It even argued against those groups on the Peronist left who were opposed to reconciliation with the regime, and which supported returning a spoilt ballot at the election. The leadership of Palabra Obrera began defining “Peronism, as a whole, as revolutionary. […] With this, Palabra Obrera was liquidated as a Trotskyist organisation. The publication of the periodical was stopped. […] For a few months, the militants of Palabra Obrera even went on to distribute the bourgeois newspaper Democracia.”
In 1958, Palabra Obrera published Los vendepatria di Perón, which grotesquely attributed Perón’s fall in 1955 to a plot carried out by “international communism”. Curiously, in that same year, Palabra Obrera welcomed “the defeat of the guerrilla Fidel Castro in the general strike in Cuba”. The following year, it even went so far as to claim that Castro was supported by US companies that were in friction with Batista. The latter, with a not insubstantial leap of the imagination, was even portrayed as a kind of Cuban Perón.
It is little wonder that, from the end of the 1950s onward, the number of trade unionist cadres involved in Palabra Obrera was severely depleted as they drifted towards the official Peronist organisations. This pro-Peronist “intoxication” may well have led to new twists after Peròn returned to Argentina in the early 1970s, when the bourgeoisie relied upon him to channel and repress the revolutionary rising of the working class, triggered by the struggles of 1969. However, from 1960 onwards, the impact of events in Cuba introduced a new deviation to Moreno’s political trajectory – this time in a completely uncritical pro-Castroist direction.
Cuba and the ‘focoist’ deviation: Moreno against Trotsky
A lack of attention to Marxist theory led to Palabra Obrera falling fully into line behind Castro and the leadership of the Cuban Revolution of 1959-1962. This also meant conceding to Castro’s theory of guerrilla warfare being the fundamentally correct strategy for achieving the socialist revolution. At the time, this was a very fashionable idea in Latin America and beyond. In 1962, Moreno’s revisionism was completely unbridled: “Life has highlighted the gaps, omissions and errors of the programme of the Permanent Revolution,” he said. He criticised the latter particularly because “it does not mention guerrilla warfare and only in passing talks about slogans for the agricultural world”. With the most flagrant eclecticism on display, Moreno's concrete points of reference became Fidel Castro and Mao Tse-tung:
“The Cuban and Chinese revolutions began in circumstances that classical Marxists define as objectively unfavourable. Although there were no great social struggles, a handful of men began the armed struggle. This group, however, transformed conditions by making them favourable. The classic concept of an objectively revolutionary situation must be broadened: it is sufficient that there be a series of unbearable social conditions and social groups willing to fight them by relying on the suffering masses.”
In such a way, political thought was dragged back almost to the time of Mazzini and the Risorgimento in the 19th century, when the idea of a coup de main carried out by a handful of rebels was in vogue. With these formulations, Moreno triggered another haemorrhage of members, this time in the direction of guerrilla ‘focoism’ (implying that guerilla warfare can become a ‘focal point’ for the discontented masses and lead to revolution). Ángel Bengochea, a prominent leader of Palabra Obrera, returned from Cuba convinced of the need to turn to guerrilla warfare. Other Argentinian militants, led by Daniel Pereyra, supported the attempt of Hugo Blanco to launch a guerrilla struggle in Perù.
Uncritical support for Castro turned into fully-fledged flattery:
“Our admiration, respect, recognition of them as leaders of the Latin American revolutionary process has no limits. In the case of Fidel Castro, we have no doubts in considering him, together with Lenin and Trotsky, one of the greatest revolutionary geniuses of this century.”
The following year, in agreement over their focoist line, Moreno’s group began merging with the Indo-American Popular Revolutionary Front (FRIP) – a group operating from Tucumán province in Argentina, led by Mario Roberto Santucho. The merger between the two politically irreconcilable groups resulted in the Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores (PRT). Instead of clarifying their differences, Moreno and Santucho both tried to exploit the merger for prestige – the opposite of a party modelled on the Bolsheviks! After a decade-long interlude, in 1963, Moreno’s group re-entered the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI), which was led by Ernest Mandel, Pierre Frank and Livio Maitan. They too were completely uncritical of Castroism, which was then in an ascent, and of the armed struggles inspired by it in Latin America.
The move of large parts of the PRT towards the disastrous shortcut of guerrilla struggle began in 1966-1967. Only by the beginning of 1968 did Moreno pull back from this line, opening up a rift with Santucho. But in Bolivia, he continued to advance the slogan, “all power to the ELN!” (Ejército de Liberación Nacional). The ninth congress of USFI supported Santucho’s group, declaring Moreno’s faction (PRT-La Verdad) a sympathiser group. It would be another three years before the Morenoists and the US SWP built an internal tendency within the USFI based on opposition to the focoist line – that is, of course, whilst at all times hiding the very fact that they had shared this line since 1963!
The united front… with the military dictatorship!
The belated criticism of focoism by the Morenoists was coupled with their turn to the electoral front in Argentina. As part of this turn, the PRT-La Verdad merged with a section of the social democracy: the PSA of Juan Carlos Coral. In the 1973 presidential elections, the candidates for the PSA’s ticket (later the Partido Socialista de Trabajadores, PST) were not workers’ leaders who had emerged from the struggles beginning with the Cordobazo in 1969. Rather, they were grey exponents of social democracy like Coral himself.
This merger led Morenism to position itself in the left wing of the Peronist camp. The latter in turn was fully swinging to the right under the pressure of the bourgeoisie. In 1974, Coral even participated with seven other parties in a meeting with Perón, which drafted a document centred around the defence of the state institutions.
Unable to see that a coup was being prepared, the PST newspaper, Avanzada Socialista, wrote: “Now the battle against the government… and against the various bosses’ alternatives, is moving to the electoral ground. We must actively prepare for the battle on this ground.” Persisting with this erroneous perspective, the PST tried to put into circulation a legal magazine just over a month after the coup of March 1976. This magazine stated: “in general, workers' delegates have been respected. Some arrests, some layoffs, certain threats and the presence of ultra-right terrorism - whose activity exists but is not stabilising - leave open, however, the possibility for a generalised persecution against workers’ activism.” In reality, repression by the military dictatorship hit the workers' movement with extreme ferocity. The PST too suffered a terrible repression, with hundreds of martyrs – to whom we pay our respects. The PST was officially dissolved by the dictatorship, but its theoretical output surprisingly continued in adapting to the new situation:
“Still today, and with good reason, the military say they did not want a coup. They were forced to do so. (…) The bosses and the armed forces opposed López Rega. They did not trust him and did not think that his methods were the best for dealing with the labour movement. However, it was the working class - including the trade union bureaucracy - together with the popular layers that obtained the semi-defeat of Lopezreguism.”
But the most organic form of adaptation to the military dictatorship had yet to manifest itself. For this, we would have had to wait until April 1982, when the shaky military junta ruling Argentina militarily occupied the Malvinas/Falklands islands, thus beginning a military conflict with Great Britain. As our comrades Michel Goulart Da Silva and Serge Goulart recall, in that context Moreno: “thought that the time had come for a 'United Anti-Imperialist Front' (FUA) with the Galtieri dictatorship against the imperialist government of Her Majesty. Developing his schematic thinking, which was full of slippery formulas, Moreno was so satisfied with the making of the FUA (which was supposed to conclude, of course, with a revolution led by himself), that he did not realise that it had been the military dictatorship, with its hands stained with the blood of 30,000 murdered dead, that attacked the British Empire. Moreno did not understand that Galtieri was relying on Argentine nationalism to try to save the dictatorship that had destroyed trade unions, parties and democratic freedoms.”
The PST issued a manifesto stating: “As socialists, as anti-imperialists and as Argentines we reiterate our decision to take part with all our strengths and with the utmost energy in the struggle that the Argentine people must support to repel imperialist aggression, whatever the government and without considering the risks that such a struggle entails. This position is maintained and will remain despite the irreconcilable differences that our tendency has with the Military Government” (Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores, “El Mandate de la hora: derrotar al invader”, 1982).”
The initiative of the PST was fully supported by the IWL-FI, founded in 1981. Ricardo Napurí, at the time a Peruvian senator for the POMR and member of Moreno’s faction at the international level, recently recalled his commitment to gaining Peru's support for the war by the Galtieri dictatorship. Napurí even promoted the trip of an international delegation to Argentina, where he was received by members of the government. The planned aerial excursion of the Malvinas/Falklands with the Argentine Air Force did not take place, only because of the military defeat of the dictatorship.
The “Escuela de cuadros” : a new revisionism of Trotskyism
After the fall of the military dictatorship, with yet another sudden veer, Moreno and the PST (now operating legally again), heralded the transition to the civilian government as a “triumphant democratic revolution”. They explicitly opened up to a theory of revolution divided in two separate and distinct stages, typical of Menshevism. Their political line sank into electoralism. This provided the basis for a crisis that shattered the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS, the new name of the Moranist tendency) into dozens of rival organisations. This revisionist approach was theoretically justified in a lengthy speech by Moreno delivered at a PST cadre school held in 1984.
“We have to theorise that it is not necessary that the working class and a revolutionary Marxist party with mass influence will be the ones who direct the process of the democratic revolution towards the socialist revolution. It is not necessary that that would be the case. On the contrary: democratic revolutions have taken place, and it is not excluded that they will continue to take place, which in the economic field are transformed into socialist ones. In other words, revolutions that expropriate the bourgeoisie without relying on the working class as an essential component, or keeping it as an important participant, and not led by revolutionary Marxist parties but by petty-bourgeois parties.”
Moreno had, at least according to himself, put the democratic revolution back on the agenda both in the advanced capitalist countries and in the colonial or semi-colonial countries dominated by imperialism. Moreno unleashed accusations of “maximalism” against anyone who did not agree with this theory that turned the clock back to the 19th century. This strategic change predisposed (as it still predisposes today) Morenism to enter into agreements with bourgeois tendencies opposed to dictatorial regimes. Any semblance of class differentiation has been abandoned. Moreover, Moreno explained that: “As a step towards the socialist revolution, we are in favour of a bourgeois regime completely distinct from the counter-revolutionary regime”. With this strategy, a Marxist group ends up joining the liberal bourgeoisie and the reformists in any post-dictatorial transition, where the ruling class tries to return to ruling through bourgeois-democratic forms.
This point of view was further expanded in 1986 in an open polemic against Trotsky:
“What Trotsky failed to put forward, even though he made the parallel between Stalinism and fascism, was that even in the capitalist countries a political revolution was necessary: to destroy fascism and in order to conquer the freedoms typical of bourgeois democracy, even if it were on grounds of bourgeois political and bourgeois state regimes.
“In concrete terms, he did not understand the need for a democratic revolution that would liquidate the fascist totalitarian regime as part or first step towards the socialist revolution. He left this serious theoretical problem unresolved.”
In reality, whatever Moreno's personal appraisal, Trotsky did not leave anything unresolved. Indeed, he provided an answer diametrically opposed to that of the Argentine leader. This can be seen in the correspondence that Trotsky had in 1930 with Pietro Tresso, Alfonso Leonetti and Paolo Ravazzoli (members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Italy, at the time just expelled from the party for ‘Trotskyism’, who would later become leaders of the New Italian Opposition). There, after having premised that the nature of the coming revolution would be working-class and socialist, not “popular” and democratic, the founder of the Red Army also said the following, given the political perspective that would open up in Italy at the fall of the fascist regime:
“Does this mean that Italy might not again turn for a certain time into a parliamentary state or become a ‘democratic republic’? I consider – apparently in complete agreement with you – that such a perspective is not excluded. But it can manifest itself, not as the product of a bourgeois revolution, but as the abortion of the proletarian revolution, which had not fully matured and which had not been brought to its conclusion. In the event of a profound revolutionary crisis and mass battles, in the course of which, however, the proletarian vanguard proves as yet incapable of coming to power, the bourgeoisie might restore its rule on ‘democratic’ foundations.
“Is it permissible to say, for instance, that the existing German Republic is the conquest of a bourgeois revolution? Such a characterisation would be absurd. What took place in Germany in 1918-19 was a proletarian revolution which for lack of leadership was deceived, betrayed and crushed. The bourgeois counter-revolution, however, was forced to adapt itself to the situation created by the crushing of the proletarian revolution and to assume the forms of a parliamentary ‘democratic’ republic.
“Is something similar (within certain limits, of course) excluded for Italy? No, it is not. [...] The fascists can be overthrown only by a new proletarian revolution. Should this again not be carried to its conclusion (owing to the weakness of the Communist Party, the manoeuvres and betrayals of the Social-Democrats, the FreeMasons, the Catholics), then the ‘transitional’ state which the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie would be compelled to create after the foundering of the fascist form of its rule could not be anything else but a parliamentary and democratic state.”
The key to understanding, even today, how the different social classes and their parties struggle during the many so-called “democratic transitions” can be found in these powerful lines written by Trotsky. Moreno turns upside down the method of analysis used by Trotsky. A “proletarian revolution which had not fully matured” magically becomes a “triumphant democratic revolution”. A lack of understanding of how the bourgeoisie uses “democratic” means of domination can only generate political disasters.
After Moreno: the myth of the democratic revolution and the permanent confusion (Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Afghanistan, etc.)
Inevitably, wrong theories lead to wrong political actions. This law applied to Morenism also after Moreno's death, which occurred in January 1987.
Faced with the counter-revolutions of 1989-1991 that paved the way for the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, the IWL-FI celebrated “democratic revolutions", in an analysis devoid of any class content. Shamelessly, Mazowiecki's pro-capitalist government in Poland was defined as “a workers' government within the framework of a non-bureaucratic dictatorship of the proletariat”. It is such obvious nonsense that it becomes even difficult to comment on it. Even today, however, the IWL-FI defends that analysis, and characterises the breakup of the Soviet Union as “a triumph of Trotskyism” and a worldwide victory for the workers.
Even if we look at more recent international political events closer, the song is still the same. As we see in the case of the pro-imperialist Cuba mobilisations, the IWL-FI has a tendency to confuse revolution and counter-revolution.
In Syria, for example, after the mass popular movement against the Assad regime was crushed by civil war and the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism, the IWL-FI continued to relentlessly talk about an ongoing revolution. It took an openly opportunistic position towards that section of the Syrian opposition led by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a reactionary force that has for some years now been under Turkish influence.
Scandalously embellishing these so-called Syrian rebels, Daniel Sugasti, a leader of the IWL-FI, acknowledged that those militias, considered as progressive by his tendency “basically are composed of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Islamic Front – the main rebel force on the ground with about 45,000 soldiers – and an extensive network of local committees which, in some cases, administrate cities that were taken from the dictatorship”. At most, the leadership of the FSA is criticised for its “inability” to carry the fight against Assad to the end. For the Islamic Front in Aleppo, the IWL-FI had the audacity to write that “despite its Islamic programme [it] is fighting the dictatorship alongside the rebels”. It is worth remembering that the Islamic Front is a Salafist organisation, financed by Saudi Arabia, that explicitly rejects any form of “representative democracy", and whose final goal is to establish a caliphate. Interesting allies to support from the point of view of the “democratic revolution."
Concretely, the IWL-FI proposed nothing less than a “campaign of unconditional solidarity, full support for the military victory of the Syrian people, which is expressed in the FSA, rebel militias, the Islamic Front, local committees, local councils, and a wide range of sectors, secular or not”, comparing Syria in the mid 2010s with revolutionary Spain...
Moving on to the European region, with a surprising blindness to the analysis of mass dynamics, in 2014 the IWL-FI described the Ukrainian movement of Maidan Square as “revolutionary” – though in reality it was pro-EU and marked by a significant neo-Nazi component. They even came to praise a situation that, according to them, would be characterised “by a 'dual power' between… the self-proclaimed 'new government' and the power of Maidan Square, with its commissions and militias, despite the fact that in these [militia] operate far-right layers, which may even have played a “vanguard” role in clashes with the police, but continue to be only part of a much larger popular movement”.
Recently, the Russian section of the IWL-FI analytically mixed movements of a very different nature when writing that: “The Ukrainian revolution was the culmination of the great rise of social polarisation in the Old Continent, which began with the Portuguese 'Lost Generation', the Spanish 'Indignados' and which continues, at the time of writing this article, with the struggle of the 'yellow vests' in France”.
Given all of this, IWL-FI's repeated calls to take part (needless to say, with its own programme!) in the mobilisations called by the right against the Maduro’s regime in Venezuela are hardly surprising. This happened both in 2017, with the protest called by the Mesa por la Unión Democratica (MUS) and in 2019 at the beginning of Juan Guaidó’s attempted pro-imperialist coup.
Let us now make a final remark. The unbounded impressionism of the IWL-FI “struck” us particularly on the occasion of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. We stress that the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) has opposed the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan since day one. This, however, has never led us to attribute anti-imperialist credentials to the Taliban - one of the most reactionary movements in the world, founded and nurtured in the 1990s under the protection and financing of the powerful Pakistani army secret services, the ISI. This is not the case for the IWL-FI, which credits the Taliban with at least a partially progressive function.
The history of Morenism is a history of zigzags and u-turns. Moreno had a certain eloquence and charisma, but his main limitation was a remarkable impressionism and a tendency towards improvisation. Political errors are an inevitable result of this method. It is not a question of simple tactical errors, which are possible in any revolutionary organisation, but a fundamental problem of principle. In 1970 the British Marxist Ted Grant, founder of our international, criticising the opportunism of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (US-FI) towards the Chinese and Yugoslavian Stalinist regimes, characterised the leaders of this tendency in the following way:
“Thus they reinforced the errors of their previous position by violating some of the fundamental ideas of Marxism, but now at the opposite pole. They repeated this process like the Stalinists before them: at every great turn of events, zig-zagging from one position to another, and never using the Marxist method of analysing events from their original standpoint, correcting the errors and preparing the way for a higher level of thought on this basis. Each change in line, each change in tactic, abruptly brought forward like tablets from on high, to be given in resounding speeches and documents to the faithful. It is this, among other factors, which was one of the main causes of the complete incapacity to orient correctly to the development of events. Such an honesty of purpose can be obtained only by those confident of themselves, of their ideas, and of their political authority. Only by such means can cadres of the revolutionary movement be educated, built and steeled for the great task which impends before mankind.”
These lines well describe the trajectory of the groups led by Moreno: a perpetual journey from opportunism to ultra leftism, and from ultra leftism back to opportunism. Morenist organisations have thus been condemned to repeatedly pass from the camp of revolution to that of counter-revolution. As the recent positions taken by the IWL-FI in Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Cuba show. This is, in the final analysis, Moreno's school. Those who have passed through that school today pretend to give us lessons in revolutionary Marxism. They are free to do so, of course. The comrades of the PDAC are certainly not the only ones trying to do this.
We don't usually respond to these kinds of public polemics. In this case, we have decided to make an exception. The reason is simple. We have come to the conclusion that the recent polemics that the PDAC comrades have addressed to us is the result of a frustration and disorientation dictated by the crisis of their International (with the serious and heavy split of the Brazilian section) and by a climate of self-criticism that was generated in the 2018 IWL-FI World Congress.
In their internal bulletins, the IWL comrades speak about the low political level of their cadres, the lack of unity in the national and international leadership and the obvious opportunism of some of their leaders on the electoral and trade union fields. It seems to us that this examination aims at looking for a possible way out. We are following their debates with respect. But for this very reason we have decided to intervene and express our point of view, which might be heeded or not, but is inspired by sincere motivations.
Our point of view is that, while the Morenist movement came from a Trotskyist tradition, it was unable to resist the pressures to which revolutionaries were subjected after the Second World War. It offered neither a barrier nor an alternative to the degeneration of the Fourth International. To prove this, it suffices to examine the world congresses of the Fourth International and the wavering role played by Moreno in them. If there is a main feature in Morenism, it is precisely that of navigating by instinct.
In conclusion, it is difficult to imagine how from this political legacy can be expected to lay down the theoretical, programmatic, strategic and tactical foundations for the building a Marxist and revolutionary international, which is a more urgent task now than ever, in order to save humanity from the crisis of capitalism. In reality, Morenism itself does not have a stable theoretical basis. It is the result of a series of adaptations and concessions to current political frameworks, amplified by theoretical ‘justifications’ of Moreno's political manoeuvres. We invite the honest activists of the PDAC to engage in a serious re-examination of the theoretical bases and traditions of their organisation. This is the only possible remedy for the impasse in which their movement has now been trapped for more than half a century.
 “The revolutionary process in Ukraine is one of the most advanced in the world” in R. Leon, “Ucraina: un'analisi di classe e internazionalista dei fatti contro le false letture della stampa borghese e di gran parte della sinistra”, 5-3-2014 – our translation.
 The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – USA section of the Fourth International – did not implement this slogan, but neither provided any theoretical criticism of it. The French section, the Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCI), was the first group to break from the entryist tactic. This happened during its fourth congress in November 1947, when the left faction led by Pierre Frank won the majority of the organisation by a small margin. The PCI was at the time convinced that the strike of that autumn signalled that the workers were breaking away from Stalinism, and began to use the slogan of a “workers’ and peasants’ government” as a synonym for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The British Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) of Ted Grant and Jock Haston already at the time warned them about the risks of underestimating the influence of reformism, especially of the Stalinist variant, among the workers. See RCP, “Sur la construction du parti et nos tâches", in R. Prager (ed.), Les congrès de la Quatrième Internationale, vol. II, La Brèche, Paris 1981, pp. 452-453.
 Frente Proletario, number 7, August 1947 – our translation.
 N. Moreno, “Movilización antimperialista o movilización clasista”, Revolución Permanente, number 1, 21 July 1949 – our translation.
 Frente Proletario, number 66, 8-10-1951 – our translation.
 Frente Proletario, number 67, 15-10-1951 – our translation.
 On this occasion, the general secretary of the CGT offered the military support of their members to Perón. A workers' militia could have been formed, but Perón refused to arm the working class. The September 1955 coup was then carried out by the reaction without encountering any resistance. Perón preferred to voluntarily resign and retire to a comfortable exile.
 E. Gonzaléz, “El trotskismo obrero e internacionalista en la Argentina”, Antídoto, Buenos Aires 1996, tomo 2, p. 279 – our translation.
 Palabra Obrera, 17-4-1958 – our translation.
 Not too keen on aligning his actions with his words, a month after his militants were arrested, Moreno stated to the Lima La Prensa newspaper: “Pereyra is crazy and an adventurist [...] It was Pereyra who coordinated the attack and the revolutionary plans” (La Prensa, 29-5-1962).
 Estrategia, number 7, September 1968.
 Avanzada Socialista, number 245, 5-12-1975.
 Cambio, number 1, 1/15-5-1976.
 Boletín mensuel, PST, January 1977, page 1, reprinted in France.
 The Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas) are an archipelago in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, composed of 778 islands. The archipelago has been variously dominated by British, Spanish and French forces. In 1832, it fell stably under British domination. It was integrated in the United Kingdom and colonised by a mostly Welsh and Scottish population. Argentine governments, since Juan Manuel de Rosas, have argued for the return of the archipelago to Argentina. For more than a century, the Falkland Islands Company (FIC) has dominated the economic life of the islands, developing in particular sheep farming and wool production for the British market.
 Napurí remembers the events as follows: “I was received by the Argentine vice-chancellor, since Costa Méndez was not there at that time. As I was a former aviator and journalist, they proposed that I travel to the Malvinas, but as the war took a negative turn, I could not make it happen.”
 L. Trotsky, “Chers camarades”, 14-5-1930, in L. Trotsky, Scritti sull'Italia, controcorrente, II edizione rivista e ampliata, Roma 1990, pages 187 and 188.
  Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1927-2013) was a Christian-democratic politician, prime minister of Poland between August 1989 and January 1991, who led the first phase of the restoration of capitalism together with Lech Wałęsa, president of Poland between 1990 and 1995.
 Correo Internacional, number 44, January 1990.
 Martín Hernández, Correo Internacional, number 17, May 2017, pages 44-47.
 See for example the Declaration of the IWL-FI Out with Imperialism from Venezuela! Out with Maduro! Neither Maduro nor Guaidó!: “In this context, we stand in favour of participating in demonstrations against Maduro, for Out with Maduro and against imperialist intervention!’ e contro l’intervento imperialista”.
 “This organisation became the political-military leadership of the national resistance against imperialism, and thus is the architect of the imperialist defeat. This was a progressive struggle of the Afghan masses against imperialism and we supported this fight. However, we must not forget… that the Taliban’s bourgeois character means that they will not complete the struggle against imperialism.” From Afghanistan: The final chapter of an imperialist failure, International Secretariat of the IWL-FI.