Introductory Note:This article by Dave Winter of HWRS responds to a letter from Carlos Munzer of the FLTI (reprinted below, underneath Winter’s response). Neither the article nor Munzer’s letter, which was translated from Spanish by the FLTI, has been edited for grammar and style.

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The Labor Party in the US and the Subjective Sectarian

A few weeks before the HWRS and the CWG (New Zealand) broke from the FLTI we received a letter from Munzer, the leader of the FLTI, in which he criticizes HWRS for calling for a fighting workers/labor party in the US. As typical from Munzer, he completely falsifies our position on the labor party. He wrote that in “Where We Stand” we call for a labor party based only on the unions. This is a typical Munzer’s method of falsification. In “Where We Stand” we states clearly that

The building of a fighting workers’ party is an urgent task for the American workers’ movement. Such a party must grow out of the struggles of US workers, and base itself firmly on a revitalized and democratized trade union movement and on other organizations of the working class and its oppressed sections.”

Munzer is a typical petty bourgeois subjectivist. He makes up positions that we never had and then he builds on his first lie a mountain of lies that is based on his first lie or delusion. So since HWRS supposedly calls only for a labor party based only on the unions, HWRS according to Munzer, is calling for a reformist labor party based on the labor aristocracy. We are also, according to Munzer, transforming a tactic to a strategy, we are now Pabloists no better than the LIT and Healy, etc., etc.

The reader should be familiar by now with Munzer’s school of falsification. As the reader can see we are calling for a workers/labor party based on the struggles of the workers and “a revitalized and democratized trade union movement”. This can only take place if the bureaucracy in the unions is overthrown or considerably weakened. We, of course, call for a labor party based on the entire working class (other organizations of the working class and its oppressed sections). We are exposing the lies of Munzer becuase we state categorically in our program that “Within the trade unions, we fight for the rank and file to oust the reformist and pro-Democratic Party bureaucrats, and to democratize the unions and win them to a revolutionary action program based on a system of transitional demands which serve as a bridge between today’s struggles and the socialist revolution.”

But even more importantly our program states that “In helping to build such a [labor] party, revolutionaries must argue for it to adopt a transitional program based on Trotsky’s 1938 programmatic contribution and, even more importantly, on his dialectical method in approaching changing situations in the class struggle”. (my bold) One of the things that ultra leftists and dogmatic sectarians like Munzer and Shaheed (WIVL) cannot grasp is that in each country the situation is not the same. For those people who rejects Marxism and its dialectical method the class struggle and its parties evolve the same way all over the world as if we live in a society of clones. But the labor/workers’ party in the US is not likely to develop the same as Workers’ Party in Brazil or the Labor Party in England evolved. In Brazil the ruling class needed a reformist Workers’ Party. So they found Lula and the unions’ bureaucracy to establish such a party.

In the United State the ruling class has been counting on the unions’ bureaucracy to quell the class struggle through the unions’ support for the Democratic Party. The evidence for the last 80 years is overwhelming that the only time the US ruling class may change its mind is when we’ll see massive struggles that we have not seen since the 1930’s. There is overwhelming evidence that the Labor/Workers’ party in the US could emerge only when there will be massive upheavals by the working class. It takes a very long time for American workers to move, but when the workers move, they move fast. That will be the time when class independence will stop being an abstraction. It will becomes real for the workers and so is the labor party. It is a tradition in this country that when conservative workers who normally vote for the Republican Party are in bitter confrontation with the state they become open to the idea of the labor party (for example, that what happened during a bitter strike in the Las Vegas hotels in the 1980s). It is different than Brazil because it is not possible here to build a reformist labor party through the services of the unions’ bureaucracy and the left, that is, without massive class struggles. History illustrated it without a doubt. The experiment of the left wing of the unions bureaucracy and the left in the 1990’s to build a labor party via the project of the Labor Party Advocate (LPA) failed miserably. This left wing of the union bureaucracy that built (with the help of reformist left) the LPA refused even to run labor candidates in the name of LPA because it would have annoyed the rest of the union bureaucracy and their friend: the Democratic Party.

Trotsky proposed a labor party in the US because a great number of workers were ready for class independence, but they were not ready to join the SWP. This has not change in regard to HWRS (which is the continuation for Trotsky’s method and the pre-Second-World-War’s SWP) today. The consciousness of the working class remained roughly the same. A lot of them vote for the Democrats because they do not see the rise of class independence, and the rest of them stay home during elections for the same reasons. But only few of them are ready today to join a revolutionary organization. So the necessity to raise the tactic of the labor party has not changed since Trotsky’s death. Whether it is correct or not will have to be tested when the sleeping giant, the American working class, will wake up and rise up in massive struggles against capitalism. We tried to explain to Munzer and Shaheed that it remained a tactic that needed to be tested (see our critique of the FLTI ), but to no avail as the reader can see from Munzer letter. There are many possibilities and we cannot predict what will happen when the sleeping giant will be fully awake. The stage of the labor party could be bypassed completely. If the working class will rise up by building new organs of struggles such as factories committees, inter-unions committees that run democratically by the rank-and-file and not the bureaucracy, neighborhood committees of the oppressed etc., we may drop the tactic of the labor party and call for Soviets based on these committees. If the workers will want to supplement their massive struggles with the establishment of a political party that expresses their class independence, that will not mean that the majority of the workers are ready to join a revolutionary party. In this case we’ll fight for a Workers’/Labor party that is based on the workers organs of struggles, that is, the fighting rank-and-file of the unions and the oppressed. In such a case such a labor party will have different wings. The revolutionary wing could win the support of the working class and lead the workers to power through the method of class war and ultimately the final revolution. If the counterrevolution will win and will not need immediately the service of fascism, the bourgeoisie may decide to pacify the workers through the establishment of a reformist labor party, and they will use the service of the reformists.

We are not prophets and we cannot tell in advance exactly who the American revolution will develop. What we know for sure is that since Trotsky proposed the Labor Party in the US as a tactic for the SWP the consciousness of the American workers have not change that much. The basic question of class independence has not been resolved and the tactic of posing it to fighting workers has not been tested seriously. Trotsky expected the American workers to surge with massive struggles. But the victory of American imperialism in second-world-war and the betrayal of the international revolution by Social Democracy, Stalinism and the new Mensheviks, that is, the majority of the fake Trotskyists, kept the American working class relatively asleep.

But we are expecting big changes. American imperialism is in decline and it is battling to keep its world domination against the rising Chinese imperialism that is based on a much cheaper labor than the US capitalists’ labor. Thus now we are witnessing brutal attacks on American workers, that were not carried out for many decades. American workers will have to fight back or be reduced to dust. We have confidence that the workers will fight back. When this happens we will test the tactic of the labor party. For now we should keep on raising it as a necessity for class independence, that is, for a genuine break from the Democrats. For if the workers will not fight for a class independence, they will be crushed.

Dave Winter

Letter from Carlos Munzer to HWRS, February 20, 2010

We have seen you have uploaded in you web site an article included in the first issue of HWRS paper, International Trotskyist that we salute again. In this article called “where we stand”, you define that you fight for a labour party based on the unions of USA.

You have already posed that slogan in other statement, a slogan we do not agree with, but we consider it a tactic. But the fact of stating it like a strategic program for a period has opened a huge difference. This program has not been approved by the foundational congress of FLTI and its resolution on USA.

To tell you the truth, we do not see a CIO getting filled of millions of workers like in the ‘37s Trotsky said. We neither see that the outcome of the class struggle in USA has been defined due to it is not possible to build a revolutionary party before a “labour party based on the trade unions”. What is worst, today that slogan means a united party with trade unions that do not represent more than a 5 o 7 % of the US working class. This would leave out million of unemployed workers and those who live of food coupons of 3 dollars per day to survive and would expel immigrant workers from its ranks, that is, those immigrant workers expelled from the country by the republicrat regime whose frontier with Mexico is guarded by the fascist gangs.

You would call to build a party with the AFL-CIO bureaucracy with the entire treacherous left, servant of Obama that militate in the unions with the Trotskyists’ program.

Trotskyists stated in ’37 and not before in USA (a question to which Trotsky denied determinedly) the motion of LP (PT) for workers organizations with statutes and transitional program to support working class to break with rooseveltianos and conquer class independence from bourgeois parties. But we stated this as a tactic, as a concrete motion not as a strategy since WE FIGHT FOR SETTING UP AN INTERNATIONALIST FIGHTING LENINIST PARTY IN THE US WORKING CLASS.

In that way was SWP of Trotsky and Canon who fight for the Fourth International, the party for Insurrection and soviets.

You are transforming a circumstantial tactic and motion into a strategy and program.

We are attaching what we have of your web site for you to confirm us if it is or not your position.

In case this is a resolution voted by you, we propose to publish in your web site this letter of SCI of FLTI together with your statement.

FLTI fight for setting up and refound the world party of socialist revolution, in USA such a fight is to refound SWP of Trotsky and young Canon, their theoretical and programmatic legacy based on the foundation congress of the Fourth International. We fight for this by being in the opposite side of the renegades of Trotskyism-servants of Osama-, the castrist bureaucracy, the left of AFL-CIO bureaucracy and sellers out of the million workers march and struggle against the war of the US working class.

The FLTI fights in USA to set up an internationalist revolutionary party of the US working class, which fights constantly for the revolution in USA at worldwide level.

We fight for an internationalist revolutionary party in USA, which first “national” task in USA is to declare that the enemy is at home, and to make as own each combat of the oppressed people against its own imperialism.

We think that it is sad that our comrades of the HWRS transform a simple circumstantial tactic into a strategy. To transform a tactic like the entrism in something that last decades, as the Pabloism did. Or like the Labour Party (LP) tactic, which put Healy and The Militant current for 40 years inside the Labor Party in England, the LIT inside the LP of Lula as a bootlicker of the church for 20 years. In the same way, we see today the entire left of the World Social Forum, like the PTS, MAS and even the left wing of the anti-capitalist parties as Tendencia Claire in France, or the Lambertism before, to call for a Labour Party to hide that what they really want to do is the party of Kautzky, Jean Jaures, of the reform and the betrayal to the proletariat.

With the slogan “Labour Party”, that is a Labour Party based on the unions, the COB bureaucracy of Bolivia supported by the renegades of Trotskyism dissolved the factory committees, the popular assembly, and the picket lines, embryo of the militia of the revolutionary process of 2003-2005. As well as in Brazil in the 80’s, they opposed the LP to the soviets or to the embryos of the organism.

In Brazil’s case, you should know that the rising of the Labour Party was the abortion that imposed the church and the Stalinism to the coordination of more than 5000 factory committees that in the late 70’s and beginning of the 80’s they made the bourgeoisie and the military dictatorship in this country to go crazy.

For that reason it is a crime to transform the slogan or tactic of the Labour Party, as well as the tactic of the intervention in the bourgeois parliament, or the entrism, i.e. an episodic tactic into strategic for the whole period.

In these conditions, your tactic slogan of LP, stated as a strategic, does not educate the US working class or the world working class to break with the reformism, it does not educate in the class independence either. It is a limit to the revolutionary and internationalist grouping of the best of the US working class.

We call you to reflect on this point. We call you to not transform circumstantial tactics into a strategy, so your first action paper can be a decisive step forward in the constitution of the revolutionary nucleus in USA

We do this with the spirit to help, from our humble point of view, to clarify a great confusion that you have made up. It is in your hands to solve it.

We hope you receive this amendment as a contribution of your SCI comrades.

Carlos Munzer

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