TB #3: In Defence of the Trotskyist Program
Polemic with Workers Power
Table of Contents
For Trotskyism! – Bolshevik Tendency and the Left Trotskyist Tendency fusion document, November 1986
Workers Power critique, April 2nd 1987
Reply to WP by BT, 5 May 1988
This pamphlet contains three documents. The first is “For Trotskyism!,” the programmatic declaration of the Bolshevik Tendency (BT). This document (reprinted from 1917 No. 3, Spring 1987) restates the basic programmatic positions upon which the Fourth International was founded, while also addressing many of the questions which distinguish genuine Trotskyists from centrist pretenders in the international workers movement today.
“For Trotskyism!” was initially drafted in October 1986 by the leadership of the BT as the central document for a projected fusion with the Left Trotskyist Tendency (LTT), a left split from the late Nahuel Moreno’s American affiliate, the International Workers Party (IWP). Prior to its eventual decision to fuse with the BT, the LTT engaged in discussions with Workers Power, a British centrist organization which originated as a left-split from Tony Cliff’s state-capitalist Socialist Workers Party in the mid-1970’s.
After a series of intensive discussions, and considerable political struggle, particularly over the question of Solidarnosc, the LTT and BT fused in November 1986. An account of the fusion, as well as the main documents upon which it was based (“For Trotskyism!” and the “Theses on Solidarnosc”) were published in the Spring 1987 issue of 1917. After the fusion, Workers Power expressed continuing interest in pursuing a discussion with the BT (particularly the ex-LTT comrades) and invited us to participate in a meeting of their international tendency (the Movement for a Revolutionary Communist International–MRCI) in London in January 1987.
The second item in this pamphlet, a lengthy letter from Mark Hoskisson on behalf of the MRCI, is a follow-up to our intervention at this meeting. The MRCI letter constitutes a critique of the positions elaborated in “For Trotskyism!”–which Hoskisson refers to as the “fusion platform.” The final item in this exchange is an extensive reply by the BT to the political points made in Hoskisson’s letter.
In his letter, comrade Hoskisson expresses particular disappointment in the clear Soviet defensism of our theses on Solidarnosc. (This position is characterized, naturally, as “Stalinophilia” by the Workers Power centrists.) He remarks, “The discussions we held with comrades D. [of the ex-LTT] and U. removed any doubt we may have had on this question.” Unfortunately, over the course of the six months which followed the MRCI conference, several comrades of the former LTT began to retreat from the hard Trotskyist positions adopted at the time of the fusion–particularly on Solidarnosc. These comrades eventually arrived at a position on this question virtually indistinguishable from that of Workers Power. After conducting an unsuccessful struggle to reverse our position on Solidarnosc, four ex-LTT comrades split from the BT in October 1987. Only one ex-LTT comrade remained in political solidarity with the BT after the split.
We consider the position adopted by the ex-LTTers to be profoundly wrong, but we recognize that theirs was a principled split–for their developing differences on the Russian question put them outside the programmatic framework of the original fusion. Our comrades learned some valuable lessons from this fight–about the issues involved, and also about the proper conduct of political struggle in a democratic-centralist organization.
The questions taken up in our polemical exchange with Workers Power are of importance for militants not presently associated with either organization. In this period one of the essential responsibilities of Trotskyists is to struggle, in a principled fashion, to clarify major programmatic questions and clear the way for a political realignment of the international workers movement.