On 1 February Bolshevik-Leninist sent the following letter to its fraternal organisations, the Brazilian Revolutionary Regroupment (RR) and the Indonesian Angkatan Bolshevik Revolusioner Internasionalis (ABRI). This letter aimed to clarify key positions in the fight for revolutionary regroupment. In response RR broke relations, doub­ling down on their cur­rent trajectory. The letter is slightly edited for publication. The exchange can also be found in Portuguese on RR’s website, and our letter is published in the first edition of the SL/A’s paper Red Battler.


1 February – Bolshevik-Leninist

23 February – Revolutionary Regroupment


Dear Comrades,

This letter aims to outline what our key political differences are, and to pursue further discussion and struggle towards resolving them. BL [Bolshevik-Leninist]has undergone a lot of political development over the past few months, and it is clear there is also confusion amongst RR comrades on what exactly our positions currently are and why we have them. It is for this reason we think it is extremely important to have something detailed in writing for RR and ABRI comrades so that you can develop a deeper understanding of our reorientation.

Briefly on our account of the ICL [International Communist League]. RR has characterised the ICL as “highly degenerate political adversaries in terms of internal regime and program”. This is a charge that we completely disagree with. Since our invitation to their international conference, we have been given the opportunity to peer into their internal life both through documents and in person. We have found their internal life to be vibrant and healthy, not bureaucratic and certainly not the “depoliticized obedience cult” as described by I/BT. Far from having held onto wrong positions due to “prestige politics”, the ICL has investigated positions that they have held not just since the 90s but from the very start and even preceding the Spartacist tendency. Spartacist #68 is a testament to this. As for their program, BL stands with full agreement with the ICL’s reorientation, and regard their renewed program as our own.

On relations with the ICL, we want to be clear and upfront. During and after our recent united front actions with the SLA [Spartacist League of Australia] it has become clear that since SLA’s and BL’s reorientation we have been intervening on a common program, and as such are pursuing fusion with them. As said in RR’s programmatic manifesto “Organise an International Marxist Proletarian Nucleus!”, we believe that “if there is sufficient closeness between organizations in the context of a united front, Marxists would seek to direct the discussion towards a merger or regroupment, without this preventing the joint struggle in the front with other groups from continuing”. A BL-SLA fusion would be a gain for revolutionary regroupment in Australia and internationally. We understand that RR does not have this perspective of ICL fusion. That being said, we are still interested in pursuing discussions with RR and ABRI and seek to maintain fraternal relations with both groups after fusion. BL seeks to improve relations between all three groups, with this letter being a step towards that but further BL-RR-ABRI discussions being another—alongside our offer to fly to Brazil to discuss these burning political questions. To both improve relations with RR-ABRI as well as pursuing a fusion with SLA we are planning to have a joint BL-SLA fusion conference in Australia at the start of March and both ABRI and RR are invited to attend and participate. We sincerely hope you do so.

As for our political reorientation, it should be said that first and foremost the most significant and underlying change within BL politically is in our conception of the question of revolutionary leadership. To explain this, it is necessary to start with an overview analysis of our history and development. When BL was formed, we were not really a group in the proper sense of the word, explicitly dubbing ourselves a “collection of individuals” in reflection of this fact. That is, we recognised that we were not functioning as the Marxist nucleus we strove to create. This was for a myriad of reasons, us being scattered geographically for example, but ultimately it centred around the point that we were not intervening as an active revolutionary factor in Australia. That fact has been true for the bulk of our existence. While at the time we thought this was mostly an organisational question to be organically resolved, as we approached forming a more geographically cohered group it became more and more clear that BL’s transition from a “collection of individuals” to a Marxist nucleus had to be much more than drafting some organisational guidelines and setting up a dues system.

A Marxist nucleus cannot mean simply rocking up to events and rallies with abstractly correct Marxist doctrine, growing like an amoeba until we one day become big enough to become an actual revolutionary factor. No, that is not being revolutionary; that is being a glorified discussion circle. That is what BL has been damned to for most of our existence, a fact that was consciously acknowledged but which the steps to break from were unclear, confused and seen as largely organisational in nature. This style of existence was reflected in our propaganda, which while containing plenty of abstractly correct points consistently failed to be a tool for revolutionary action—the central point of Marxism.

A clear example of this was our “Safety or Profit?” article. Documenting the tragic death of a young worker, this document was the epitome of radlib journalism. It detailed the complete negligence of the bosses, while making the correct point that capitalism is the root cause for his death. But what did we put forward concretely? In response to union misleadership we “counterpose a program of breaking with the ALP and building direct worker power by expanding union/worker control and oversight over production and safety processes”. That is all fine and dandy, but beyond abstract phrases how did anything written actually build and motivate a program of breaking with the ALP and fighting for revolution? In truth, it did not. Well wishes for a break with Laborism (and calling for revolution) are not the same as struggling to actually break workers from Laborism in the fight for revolutionary leadership. What the article amounted to was whingeing that the bureaucracy isn’t doing enough to take care of the working class. The entire article is a complete capitulation to left laborism, with some words against Labor thrown in at the end as if we could say some magic words and a spell would be cast transforming it into an instrument for revolutionary intervention. When it came down to it, in the here and now, we posed no revolutionary road on how to best advance the interests of the working class.

While this particular article is an obvious example, it is by no means the only one. BL was consistently in the framework of trying to be “not opportunist” rather than trying to advance the struggle of the working class, a path which necessarily means struggling for revolutionary leadership and smashing the fundamental roadblocks of the working class, most acutely the social-chauvinists and their opportunist left cover. Even at the time there was something deemed wrong with this article, although our attempts to determine what was wrong wound up completely confused.

A future article was planned to actually be used for revolutionary intervention, which we did not produce and could not have without realising what was wrong with the earlier one and our framework more broadly. The problem wasn’t that it lacked another sentence or two denouncing the Laborite bureaucracy more vehemently, it also wasn’t that what was said was not formally correct. The problem with the article and our framework as a whole was that it was not driven by the question of struggling for revolutionary leadership, to break workers from Laborism. This was seen as something that could be addressed with some additional words tacked on rather than it needing to be the guiding framework behind Marxist work and campaigns.

A similar case was repeated with one of our comrades’ plans to intervene in a rally led by liberal activists in response to growing reaction against trans people. BL comrades recognised that there was a rotten polarisation, fostered by anti-trans rightists and the pro-trans liberals for their own interests. We recognised that we had to cut across such an axis and hoist a revolutionary pole, but we lacked the program for it. Our solutions for what to intervene with wavered from grand sounding declarations (calling for revolution/break with the liberal leadership); to accepting this leadership in the here and now with demands that were perfectly in line with what the liberals were calling for (free trans health care on demand, defeat the right wing reaction against trans people, etc); to sectarian denouncing of the protests as liberal while standing aside and refusing to intervene and actually break anyone from said liberalism. Our planned intervention could be little more than a “Marxist”/labour wing under liberal leadership of the protests. This was our political situation at the end of 2022 and start of 2023. A group entering the left with confusion compounding on confusion with unclear reasons for even existing let alone developing.

With us cohering as a group proper (establishing a small nucleus in Melbourne at the start of 2023) the question of our place in the left and the workers movement cropped up more and more. In the face of a weak, scattered and hostile left, we responded with sterile rigidity. The SLA rebounding and IG/LFI potentially popping up as a group in Australia meant our position on the left felt increasingly precarious and our potential to grow and develop in such an environment felt stunted. The political differences between BL and RR, already built on weak organisational bonds and a shallow and untested basis of programmatic agreement, accentuated and culminated in the first exchange of polemics. We say this here so we can be absolutely clear. We do not defend the original documents produced. They were confused, sterile, and above all not revolutionary. In our struggle to break from our non-revolutionary past, we must recognise its manifestations in all its forms. This also includes all of our previous articles which were all written in this framework, including the ones translated and approved by RR comrades. This is a serious break not just of the positions that you disapproved which had come to the fore at the start of this year, but of our shared positions in the years before that which were also written in such a framework. The political differences developed since then have centred around this question.

RR’s failure to centre the question of revolutionary leadership manifested differently from BL’s, but it is a political fault that was shared between BL and RR until recently. The question must be: at every step of the way, what is needed to advance the workers movement and how do we demonstrate that fighting for the proletariat as an independent force under revolutionary leadership is needed to do so? To understand why we have undergone such rapid political changes in the past few months it must be recognised that they were precipitated above all by breaking with the centrist politics of BL’s history as a tendency—to transition from a discussion circle to a revolutionary organisation deserving of the name Bolshevik-Leninist. In this regard BL’s joint work with the SLA has helped immensely, and has marked a qualitative break with our old framework.

1) A defence of BL’s revolutionary interventions

In stark contrast to our old program, BL in the past months has fought to be a revolutionary factor in Australia. Our two statements published in the past few months have been modest steps forwards to actually struggling to advance the workers movement today.

Our call to chuck AUKUS hawks out of Labor puts front and centre the struggle to clear the obstacles of the working class and to create a revolutionary pole in opposition to the ruling class’ war drive. In Australia, the Labor Party has a stranglehold over the workers movement; every union, from the rightist SDA to the left-posing CFMEU are all programmatically Laborite to the core, and they can only betray. These are things that RR comrades are sure to recognise. Laborites have betrayed the working class again and again, and yet, the working class remains almost completely wedded to this machine. In fact, any dissent to them is consistently funnelled back to them via left talking bureaucrats and their cheerleaders on the left. It is clear as revolutionaries in Australia, our goal must be to smash Laborism as a political force, and to expose the left Laborites and their leftist hangers-on as the central obstacle for the working class to overcome.

This sounds simple enough, but how do we actually break workers from Laborism? Right now, backing AUKUS to Israel, the Australian ruling class and their ruling party in the ALP are marching us towards war and misery. This has created a wave of opposition and ruptures in the unions and the Labor Party. The Labor Party and the union leadership stand exposed, but all of this opposition to Labor’s belligerency is being funnelled into left Laborites and pacifists, who voice their opposition to certain machinations while never advancing more than token measures. We recognise that they do this because their program is subordinated to the interests of the ruling class, and that their allegiance is to their war hawk Laborite brothers far above any of their anti-AUKUS pretences. But it is one thing for us to recognise this and another to struggle to get the working class under their leadership to do the same.

Our call to chuck AUKUS hawks out of Labor struggles to do exactly that. Firstly, it is the most elementary step workers must do to advance the struggle against AUKUS —a bloc with war hawks of course stifles any struggle against a drive to war. It also puts the question point blank to the left Laborites and pacifists: “Do you actually oppose AUKUS or do you value much more your unity with the AUKUS hawks?”, exposing the left Laborites’ opposition to AUKUS as skin deep. Ultimately, even if political pressures forced such a split it would put such left Laborites in a position where their program could be put to the test and exposed as completely impotent. The only road against AUKUS is a revolutionary one, that much is clear. It is our duty to demonstrate it to the working class. This demand doesn’t give an ounce of credence to Laborites, left or right. In fact, it completely exposes them as obstacles for the working class and is above all a call to ferment rank and file rebellion within Labor and the unions against its leadership.

As for entering Labor to follow through with this demand, we see it as purely tactical. It certainly would be the best tactic if one could actually push this through in the belly of the beast, but it has just as much potency if not more when pushed in the unions against the bureaucrats who lead them. To reject this campaign out of some faux principled opposition to the tactics deriving from such a demand would be completely sterile, it would abdicate the struggle to actually fight for revolutionary leadership in the labour movement. We want to smash Laborism, especially when Labor is in power, and especially when they are championing the ugliest social-chauvinist program. We will not be waiting for their program to get more palatable before we struggle to break workers from their misleadership.

Ultimately, RR’s opposition to us entering the Labor Party, “especially when they are in government” is a rejection of the 2nd congress of the Comintern where Lenin argued in favour for communists to not just enter but to outright affiliate with the BLP [British Labour Party]. He did so not on some crude accounting the BLP’s program to be sufficiently left posing enough, or whether they are in government or not, but rather argued in favour of it based on how to best intervene in the working class who were tied to the BLP. To have a criteria to enter Labor whether they are in government or not has much more similarities to BL’s old framework of being “not opportunist” rather than anything to do with Lenin.

Our Anti-Albanese Yes Campaign is cut from the same cloth. The Labor government had created a reactionary polarisation which pitted two forces with common interests against one another. The ALP posed as defenders of Aboriginal people, pitting Aboriginal people and those who supported the Voice against those who were disgusted with the government and the increasing attacks they were waging against the working class. The importance of the call wasn’t to say we were voting yes for establishing an Aboriginal Voice in parliament. Rather it was that it recognised that struggling for the smallest gains for the working class and oppressed requires revolutionary leadership, which in this case entails building a revolutionary pole to smash this liberal axis. An effective struggle cannot be waged with Albanese and his rotten Labor government but only against them. The Voice referendum ultimately suffered a humiliating loss, in large part due to it being seen as little more than a vote of confidence for the Labor government. In the aftermath of such a loss, the country has experienced a right wing shift with rightists on the offensive at the expense of working and Aboriginal people. To overcome the reactionary polarisation that was created and to use that hatred of the government for the service of Australia’s oppressed would have thrown a wrench at both the ALP and the Coalition’s reactionary No campaign. That is why we struggled for an independent, anti-Labor, Yes campaign.

2) Lockdowns

RR comrades have voiced opposition to our support of the “Down with Lockdowns” call and our break from “Workers lockdowns”. Why was this call so important in the context of the pandemic? Why couldn’t we just call for lockdowns in the same vein as any other safety measure, say vaccinations? To put it simply, the fight for the working class to advance itself as an independent force during the pandemic necessarily required to break the bourgeois “national unity” campaign which was the ideological core of the lockdowns. Unlike vaccinations, lockdowns were a measure of the capitalists against the proletariat. Under lockdowns, the capitalists forced the working class to stay indoors through the means of the police and army, completely stifling class struggle. It was not some neutral means of safety but a weapon held by the class enemy to bludgeon their opponents.

The bourgeois (to varying degrees) were indeed suppressing COVID-19, but they were doing it through enforcing their interests at the expense of the working class. The response for revolutionaries thus is not to egg the capitalists on to perfect their means of stopping COVID-19, against the proletariat. No, the response had to be to struggle for the working class to stand on its two feet, and thus to fight against the ruling class, their rule and their methods of defending their rule. The proletariat has their own means of defending themselves, fighting for their safety by struggling for their own interests, at the expense of the capitalists’ rule and property; acting to take control of safety in workplaces, struggling for public works programs to alleviate conditions spreading the pandemic, seizing the spacious and unoccupied luxury buildings owned by real estate speculators and using that property for socially useful purposes such as COVID safe schools, etc.

To demonstrate this to the working class, our task as revolutionaries is to drive a wedge between this propaganda of “national unity,” abstract concepts of “public health” based on a “de-classed” science, and shared trans-class interests in “saving lives”. This cannot be achieved with the call for “workers lockdowns” or by treating lockdowns as another tool in the toolbox of defence against COVID-19. To take on the ruling class, their response and their propaganda head-on was the central task that had to be done to advance the struggle of the workers movement during the pandemic. Therein lies the complete vitality of the “Down with Lockdowns” call.

Not confronting this key question at the critical moment when it was strangling the workers movement avoided the necessary struggle for the working class to fight against the capitalists. And that is exactly what BL and RR did. The lockdowns did not exist as an abstract idea, they existed as a real measure by the ruling class (and in the deformed workers states, the ruling bureaucracy) against the workers. Anyone hearing BL’s former line for “workers lockdowns” would be unlikely to understand it as anything more than the working class enforcing the same reactionary measures, or as a call for them to be implemented more humanely with additional welfare schemes. Instead of smashing this reactionary “national unity”, we tried to patch it up with Marxist sounding flair.

As for RR, given the different manifestation of the pandemic in Brazil, with the lack of any serious attempt at a lockdown by Bolsonaro, the relevance of the call to smash lockdowns also manifested differently. Where it is relevant is in the positive program communists ought to have put forward in such a situation. What was needed was to pose the necessary independent tasks of the working class which go against the reactionary call for lockdowns. Instead, RR like BL treated the lockdowns like any other health measure joining in with the cry of liberals who were calling for the capitalists to dole out lockdowns against the working class.

This can also be seen in our defence of the CPC’s (and other ruling bureaucracies’) lockdowns against the working class, giving their reactionary and often brutal measures a complete whitewash as something to be replicated and spread. Instead of struggling to break the bureaucracy’s hold in China, Cuba or Vietnam we instead accepted their gag order as a necessary and progressive measure.

3) Ukraine

On Ukraine, RR states that their “perspective is that of the proletarian revolution in Europe and Russia, the only one that can actually end the threats of war and begin to demolish the military alliance of the imperialist powers” (“O prolongado conflito na Ucrânia: guerra maquiada da OTAN contra a Rússia” via online translation). Those are fine words which we are the last to dispute in importance. But RR’s position calling for military victory [to Russia] completely flies in the face of such a perspective. The only way to unite the working class of both Russia and Ukraine—to struggle for revolution and smash imperialism in the region (and beyond)—is ultimately for both Russian and Ukrainian workers to turn the guns around and overthrow their respective regimes. Calling for Russian military victory does absolutely none of that.

To justify this position, RR argues that “We defend Russian military victory at this moment as a concrete way to avoid a greater evil, which is NATO’s victory” (“O prolongado conflito na Ucrânia: guerra maquiada da OTAN contra a Rússia” via online translation) and as a blow to US imperialism. This sounds logical enough; a proxy regime for imperialism against a non-imperialist power. A win for one would be a blow to the other, and blows against imperialism are a good thing. But every act which is a blow against imperialism does not necessarily advance the interests of the working class, and all Leninists understand that the only way to deliver imperialism a coup de grâce is ultimately through workers revolution. Any strategy to struggle against imperialism must centre this. We must ask ourselves, does this position strengthen the international working class, does it advance the class towards revolution? Asking these questions, the call for Russian military victory falls apart.

This war is currently being waged over who controls Ukraine, the Kremlin or the White House. Neither outcome is progressive in the least, and either side winning would not deal a progressive blow against imperialism. Of course in the case of a Ukrainian victory it would only strengthen the imperialist hold over the country. But in the case of a Russian victory, whatever short term blow to imperialism would be completely negated by the cost of Russia being the oppressor of Ukraine. Such a victory would only bolster Zelensky’s proxy regime, which would continue to pose itself as “defenders against Russian aggression”. It would push nations historically oppressed by Russia into the hands of the imperialists, strengthening their encirclement of the country. Ultimately, it would create a perennial thorn against Russia in the form of the nationally oppressed Ukrainians, which would help imperialists fuel conflict to strengthen their position. The only benefactors would be the imperialists.

Even if the conclusion of this war saw NATO broken up this would not necessarily be a gain for the working class. If it was smashed by proletarian revolution, then it would be absolutely a gain. But through Russian victory? Such a breakup would entail little more than a shake up of imperialist alliances. A breakup of NATO in this situation would likely happen in the form of Germany breaking from NATO and entering a bloc with Russia. This would not be in the interests of the working class, in fact it would likely be the start of a new world war. This is no “lesser evil”!

While RR says that they have a perspective of proletarian revolution, in practice their position is a barrier to joint revolutionary struggle between Ukrainian and Russian workers. To call for Russian victory here would be calling for Russian workers to struggle to nationally oppress Ukrainians. It is a call for Ukrainians to support an invading force which promises little more than national oppression. For both Russian and Ukrainian workers, the call for a Russian victory does not rally them for revolution but pushes them into the hands of the regimes for the benefit of imperialism. While RR has some words in favour of revolution, they have surrendered the struggle for revolution in Russia and Ukraine today.

4) Permanent Revolution

RR has voiced opposition to the ICL’s correction on national liberation. But the fact is, in the semi and neo-colonies, to advance the workers movement and to demonstrate the necessity of the working class as an independent fighting force it is imperative to break the proletariat from the hold of the bourgeois nationalists. Without recognising the burning nature of the question of national liberation and championing it like how the ICL (and BL) has now done, there is no breaking the working class from their bourgeois misleaders, there is no revolution. ICL’s old program on national liberation, which RR falls into the same pitfalls as, is an obstacle to any serious struggle in these countries and damns the toiling masses to remain fully wedded to the national bourgeois.

Today, the world is divided into the hands of a small number of imperialists, who dominate every aspect of the political and economic lives of the semi and neo-colonies. It is by subjugating these countries that the imperialists maintain their rule. As such, many of the most basic tasks within these countries (national independence, democracy and modernisation; cancelling of imperialist debts, rolling back of austerity, etc) go against the very core of the imperialist system. It is because of this that achieving these tasks requires a fronton confrontation with imperialism, which the national bourgeois of the oppressed nations are unable and unwilling to wage as doing so would require a revolutionary upheaval of the masses that would threaten their own class interests. This makes the national bourgeois a damned class. They can’t fully repress the working class as they lean on this force to resist foreign capital but they can’t break with imperialism as that would require to rally forces that would threaten their very ability to exploit altogether. The national bourgeois of the colonies are forced to straddle a middle position between the imperialist bourgeois and the proletariat, leaning on either at any moment to defend their own narrow interests—weak in character, they are unable to be the ruling class of even their own nation. This perennially frustrated position of the national bourgeois means that they can never genuinely confront imperialist subjugation, it is a class doomed to betray the struggle of national liberation.

At the same time, imperialist subjugation has plunged the toiling masses into the depths of oppression, leaving their most basic demands unresolved. Since the condition of, and every measure doled out against, the proletariat is moulded by the imperialists, the struggle against imperialist oppression is a revolutionary powder keg and remains the most burning question in the neo-colonies. As things stand the masses remain wedded to the national bourgeois who also suffer from imperialist oppression. The working class look to the national bourgeois in the struggle against imperialism, but in defence of their own interests they can only betray. There is no path forward for national liberation but a proletarian one, under the leadership of a revolutionary party willing and able to take on the rotten imperialist order. At the same time, there is no revolution without wresting the proletariat away from the leadership of the bourgeois nationalists who currently have a stranglehold over the working class in the semi and neo-colonies.

There are two trends in the left which attempt to resolve this dilemma, both of them offer no way forward. Firstly there are those who surrender the necessity of the proletariat as an independent fighting force leading the struggle for national liberation, thus liquidating Marxism to tail the national bourgeois. The Pabloites are the classical example, their program keeps the masses under the chains of the national bourgeois, and therefore betrays the struggle for not just communism but national liberation itself. On the other hand there are those who, responding to the former’s tailism, reject the struggle of national liberation, dismissing it as bourgeois and nationalist and a distraction from proletarian revolution. In this camp fell the historic Spartacist League, who lamented on many occasions that “many so-called Marxists believe that the struggle for the ‘national liberation’ of the Arab countries has merged with or even replaced the struggle for socialism in these countries” (“Turn the Guns the Other Way,” 1968).

The latter trend uses plenty of loud denunciations of the national bourgeois as cheap substitution for the actual struggle to intervene against them and fight for revolutionary leadership. By juxtaposing national liberation with socialism, they only keep leadership of the national liberation struggle firmly in the hands of the national bourgeoisie. Abstract denunciations under this framework become little more than cheap attempts to keep oneself “pure” from opportunism, while in practice they keep the masses with anti-imperialist impulses well away, closing off would-be revolutionaries from any serious penetration into the masses and into the oppressed countries as a whole. For all its revolutionary rhetoric, the latter trend betrays the struggle for socialism and national liberation as much as the former. Ultimately both of these trends are obstacles since they abdicate the struggle to intervene and fight for revolutionary leadership, the only possible path for national liberation and socialism.

So what way forward? In competition with the nationalists for leadership of the masses in the struggle for national liberation the only path forwards is to…compete! We must unmask the inability of the nationalists to realise their own most basic demands (let alone complete and genuine national liberation) and demonstrate that the only way forward in the struggle for national liberation today is to march under revolutionary leadership. Only by being the best and most genuine champions of national liberation can we seek to merge that struggle with the struggle for socialism, the only way of wresting leadership from the national bourgeois and breaking the masses from nationalism. This can’t be done with abstractly correct sounding words but only by getting our hands dirty and actually intervening, not as a glorified discussion group but as a revolutionary instrument. Only then can we utilise this powder keg and use the just national aspirations of the masses as the motor force for socialist revolution that it is.

This is the genuine meaning of permanent revolution. Trotsky’s program means the steadfast struggle by Marxists to push forward, in the imperialised periphery, tasks of independence, democracy and development through national liberation to their ultimate achievement in the proletarian conquest of power; “a revolution whose every successive stage is rooted in the preceding one” (Trotsky). Trotsky recognised that in the imperialist epoch the tasks of national liberation can only be won through revolution. Instead of writing either off he fought to combine the two—success in doing so being the only way to achieve either. This is a task as important today as 100 years ago. This is the perspective that the ICL affirmed in Spartacist #68, which BL stands in full agreement with, and which RR has so far rejected outright.

Like much of the bourgeois “pink tide” in Latin America, the PT [Partido dos Trabalhadores] subsumes anti-imperialist sentiment. Through their rhetoric and professed political goals they present to their base as them “standing up” to the US. In Lula’s first term in government he was part of blocking the offensive of the FTAA. Today Lula talks up a “multipolar” world, BRICS cooperation with Russia and China, calls for a new global currency and more. His betrayals hardly need mentioning, and certainly overshadow any gains won under his leadership. But his “anti-imperialist” postures signal to many that Lula/PT are something beyond comprador—not a pawn of but a fighter against the imperialists. The mobilisation of large swaths of people behind the “pink tide” of bourgeois misleaders like Lula, who can only capitulate, is a reaction to the real conditions of imperialist subjugation which workers rightly view as a genuine barrier to social progress, and source of inequality and backwardness.

Even if Lula genuinely fought for “multipolarity”, this would still be no path to the actual defeat of the imperialist world system. The “struggle” of the “pink tide” against imperialist subjugation is in fact an attempt by national bourgeoisies to avoid confrontation with imperialism. The whole history of Brazil under the PT shows the bankruptcy and limits to this strategy. But when the imperialists have not forced Lula to push through brutal austerity programs, working Brazilians have experienced poverty reduction programs, economic growth, and an international position nominally beyond a US puppet. All this, again, appears to many workers to contrast with imperialist dependency. However, the PT remains a barrier to the struggle against imperialism and to achieving basic gains for the Brazilian working class. Every minimal victory won under their leadership is predicated on avoiding struggle and is therefore ready to break at the slightest pressure. This is evidenced by the drop in the value of the [Brazilian] real following an unhappy response by international capital markets to Lula’s “re-industrialisation plan”.

RR recognises as much as BL the inevitability of the PT to betray, and that to break workers from them is one of the central tasks for revolutionaries in Brazil. But the question is, how do we do it? In this regard RR falls well within the trend of the historic Spartacists and poses no way forward. RR pens plenty of words against the treachery of PT and the need for revolution, correctly stating many times throughout their articles how “there is no room, both from the point of view of the social structure of a country on the periphery of the capitalist system, and from the point of view of the current global economic situation, for significant improvements in the living conditions of the Brazilian working class without break with capitalism” (“Un debate con el PSOL y otros simpatizantes de Lula” via online translation). But this treatment of imperialism is completely divorced from the day-to-day struggle of the working class in Brazil—as just a question to be settled after revolution. In the meantime, RR argues that to break workers from PT and to struggle for revolution “the only possible path is for us to act to convince the people of the need and viability of the socialist revolution, while we build instruments on the front line of struggle” (“Un debate con el PSOL y otros simpatizantes de Lula” via online translation).

But how do we convince people for the need for revolution? Abstract calls for one do absolutely nothing to break the illusions the Brazilian masses have in Lula. The truth is that RR has posed no path forwards to break the masses from the PT, and thus have no path to winning the working class to the revolutionary road. As a replacement, RR offers little more than formally correct but abstract statements, as if the masses will be convinced of revolution by reading a strong enough denouncement of PT. Revolutionists need to actually intercept their bourgeois program beyond sterile and abstract denunciations of the fact that it is, indeed, bourgeois. We need to champion the struggle of national liberation, to centre and push for the confrontation with imperialism that the bourgeois PT program will never permit. The basic defence, and extension, of existing gains too is continually shown to require such a confrontation. Our task as communists is to show in struggle against the impotence and treachery of the bourgeois nationalists in even this task. Only in doing this can we expose the PT as the barrier to the struggle for national liberation that they are. Only then can we “convince the people of the need and viability of the socialist revolution,” not in words, but in deeds. To do so, and only through doing so, can the construction of an independent proletarian anti-imperialist leadership take place.

RR is absolutely correct in their opposition to PT and its left orbit, and correctly recognise them as roadblocks to the working class. We see this as a positive and correct impulse against the national bourgeois and its left tail. But that does not constitute a revolutionary road in itself. In fact empty denunciations of the national bourgeois fall into the exact same traps as the opportunists who openly tail them. The imperialists maintain their stranglehold over all aspects of the political, economic and cultural life of oppressed countries such as Brazil. The anti-imperialist struggle is key to liberation. If you are not fighting for revolutionary leadership of it then how will you break the masses away from PT to the banner of revolution? If you say you are fighting for leadership of this struggle, then how are you doing it beyond publishing correct sounding but abstract words?

BL hopes that this letter has a clarifying effect. Our forces are small, and the coming period presents increasing crises. Today, regroupment based on a clear revolutionary program is imperative. This letter was written for this purpose. The task to reforge the Fourth International today is a vital one, we ask comrades to seriously think through the questions and criticisms that we have presented.

Comradely Regards,

Revolutionary Regroupment

RR letter to BL, in face of BL’s fusion conference with SL-Australia

23 February 2024

Dear comrades. We have carefully read your letter to us and to ABRI dated February 1st. Here we will try to summarise our views on the issues raised. As explained, we are unable to attend your conference in person for logistical and cost reasons. We have responded to BL’s letter and also wish to address the participants of your joint conference with SL-A at the beginning of March.
You begin the letter by describing the reorientation of the BL in the last period, the change in the positions we had in common and your rapprochement with SL-A, and by questioning our characterisation of the ICL. We have something to say about that.
Regarding the ICL, our characterisation that they were degenerated political opponents in terms of programme and regime has been criticised. Interestingly, the current ICL agrees with various elements of this characterisation of their own past, although they are carrying out a much broader review of the tradition from which they originated, which does not necessarily follow the same lines as our criticisms. They claim to be still investigating aspects of their own bureaucratic past, but have already renounced elements such as the cowardly expulsion and severing of relations with those who today are the IG and LQB leaderships. 
Let’s repeat a few points that we have noticed about this “new transformation”. The ICL has for the moment stopped treating other groups on the left that claim to be revolutionary as mortal enemies, “traitors”, finding ways to attack them in order to destroy them. We’re not talking here about the obvious right to criticise (even harshly), but about the slander and constant hostility that tries to destroy rather than attract the dynamic and revolutionary sections. This is something that the IG, for instance, maintains from the degenerated period of Spartacism, despite its more accurate programme on paper. The ICL has now significantly increased its intervention and public activity, including opening up to united fronts and debates, which is also a positive development. Not all the position revisions were wrong in Spartacist #68, as we’ve said on a few occasions. 
However, the current ICL believes that they are “discovering the wheel” by proposing a more active tactical intervention, by telling the workers and the vanguard “what needs to be done” instead of mere proclamations and sectarianism against other groups. If this is their intention, they would benefit greatly from studying the Spartacism of the 1960s and early 1970s, in which the SL intervened intelligently in trade union struggles, for civil rights, in defence of degenerated workers’ states and in favour of oppressed nations against imperialism, and with a much clearer and more consistent political position than the current ICL. Especially the analysis of their trade union interventions (which were drastically diminished in the mid-1980s by the closure of their trade union caucuses) drew great positive attention in winning us over to the tradition of Spartacism, as well as their opposition to the revisionist degeneration of the main branches of Trotskyism.
Even in its best period, Spartacism was never devoid of errors and problematic positions on secondary issues, usually deriving from excesses to demarcate itself against the “Trotskyist” opportunism it was confronted with. However, the current narrative peddled by the ICL about its own past exaggerates – and greatly – the significance of these deviations, as a way of presenting an “innovative” change and justifying each of its new positions around a necessary “break with the past”. The ICL went through a period of long degeneration in the form of bureaucratic and sectarian petrification, which had its greatest characteristic in the “bunker mentality” and the snide and slanderous attacks on groups on the left. This was combined with a constant emergence of opportunistic positions and impulses that the ossified regime did not allow to be corrected, which endowed it with a certain apparently “random” character, marked by inconsistency and strangeness.
The iSt/ICL has gone through various stages in its decades-long evolution, with nuances and contradictions. From a political point of view, in short, it has gone from (1) a group with revolutionary intentions and programme with a desire and some capacity to intervene in reality; (2) a sterile, isolated sect full of hostility to the opposing left that claims to be revolutionary; (3) the current version, which believes it has discovered a new “lost secret” of Marxism in having a more concrete practical intervention, and which draws political conclusions that openly depart from “historical Spartacism” (not just “type 2”, but also “type 1”). This transformation was not mechanical, but gradual and with zigzags, yet with significant turning points that marked the change. There isn’t space here to elaborate on this further, something we can do in a future public document.
We don’t refuse to debate with the new ICL and we would also participate in joint united fronts with them (as well as with other groups from the Spartacist tradition) on issues of common interest to the working class. However, the ICL is not a group that inspires us to approach them for a fusion or regroupment, something that we will develop further in the course of this document. We also think that changes like the one promised won’t happen in a short space of time, especially when cadres who have built the “type 2” group for decades continue not only to be part of the organisation, but in leadership positions. We will remain observant and, if the opportunity arises, we will intervene in this process of transformation of the ICL.

BL made a similar transformation within the course of one year

Just over a year ago, the BL seemed to share with us the perspective of consolidating a small group with the intention of intervening with a revolutionary programme in the class struggles and building an international proletarian revolutionary nucleus. Still within this perspective, you evolved from a scattered “collection of individuals” to having a small nucleus in Melbourne. We were even helping you to educate a contact in this perspective, trying to help you produce documents, etc. We collaborated a lot on the production of a common international programme, a document we’re proud of, and we were looking to deepen our collaboration, just like with our ABRI comrades.
We have always had the difficulties due to being very small and geographically distant organisations, which has made such a perspective full of obstacles. We’ve had moments, both for us and for you, of greater difficulty and less internal cohesion in order to successfully intervene in class struggles with an intelligent and powerful (“sharp”) tactic against the current leaders of the working class. When this was the case, it was never an “accepted” situation, but something we always tried to overcome. It was also felt in our mutual ability to collaborate internationally.
BL seems to incorrectly understand that the difficulties of a small group (which inevitably can’t put into practice most of the positions it defends) with a lack of interest in producing an efficient tactic or in fighting to defeat the current (pro-bourgeois) leaderships of the working class, a point that you repeat ad infinitum in your document in the form of the accusation that we only produce “mere abstract, albeit correct, words”, “empty denunciations”, etc? attributing this to RR, the “old BL” and “historical Spartacism”. We realise that BL seems to have always been less capable of more concrete and “daring” tactics and interventions, something that you now project onto us, claiming that RR “doesn’t present any path for the masses to break with the PT” (in Brazil), apart from “abstract statements”.
That’s not how we see it. Throughout our history, we have repeatedly demanded the building of united fronts from sections of the left, we have participated in some of them to build actions and events that promoted the class struggle (while at the same time pointing out our criticisms and clearly defending our positions); we have intervened in bourgeois elections by participating in campaigns that maintained a minimum of class independence (such as the PSTU or PCB on different occasions); we called at various times for self-proclaimed Trotskyist and revolutionary groups to break away from PSOL as this party turned right and allied itself with the bourgeoisie, as a way of putting pressure on its ranks against the leadership; we built events in which we were recognised as a serious group by others on the left; we intervened in working class strikes when we had the chance, pushing for a break with the PT’s bureaucratic union leaderships, especially among education workers, where we are most concentrated; we also sought regroupment and rapprochement with groups nationally and internationally when we saw the opportunity.
All this can be seen in our documents on our website, and you can find out from our conversations over the years of our fraternal relations. We have also always tried to suggest tactics to you and to our ABRI comrades, despite our lesser knowledge of the concrete situation. Every small group has its ups and downs, of course, and this is reflected in the difficulty of presenting a concrete perspective to the working class at times. 
Before your own current incarnation, in which it seems that the BL has “discovered the wheel”, however, your group also went through a time as a “type 2” sectarian group (according to our analysis of the ICL’s evolution). Let’s remember that a few months ago, you attacked us as entrenched opportunists, connected errors in our trajectory without the slightest criterion, and said that we “betrayed the working class”, “crossed the class line”, “capitulated to imperialism”, etc. because we critically voted for the PSTU (a Morenoite, centrist “Trotskyist” group from Brazil) in the 2022 elections, due to certain positions of theirs. (Our own critical assessment of this issue involves a much more tactical perception of the usefulness and limitations of such a “critical vote” when we don’t have as many opportunities to talk to the ranks of the party voted for, as well as the insufficiency of our electoral statement of that year). 
The sectarian criticisms which you produced, you ended up completely renouncing. Let’s remember that following our stressful and ridiculous meeting with Negrete from the IG, in which we thought we could have a dialogue of rapprochement and he said that we from RR were “a waste of time” and that he “had proof of our betrayals” which consisted of a series of senseless slanders and vitriolic attacks against us, to try to win you over on that basis, you soon after adopted a similar line to theirs on this question of bourgeois elections in Brazil, something that made us imagine that you were getting closer to IG. Sometime later, you one-sidedly broke relations with us because of these criticisms (which have now been dismissed), and after a few days you went back on your word.
We remember commenting internally at a meeting, when you announced that you were going to build a united front with SL-Australia on the anti-AUKUS issue, that this was a positive development, because it meant that you would be doing something in the real world instead of devoting yourselves to writing endless pages and pages against us, in a disproportionate and vitriolic manner, full of grandiloquent accusations about every little mistake we had made in our history. Very quickly, however, we realised that you were being uncritical of the SL-A, when we asked you if you were going to raise the criticism of ICL’s Ukraine position at the “Chuck AUKUS Hawks” forum in Melbourne, and you said that you were “no longer sure of the position” and therefore would not make that criticism, neither on the issue of the pandemic, nor any other. This was later evident in your uncritical “Greetings” to the ICL congress, which we criticised as complete impressionism.
In your letter, you boast of your intervention in the “Yes” campaign on the question of Australia’s “The Voice” referendum, the “anti-Albanian Yes campaign”. But we ourselves suggested to you that voting “Yes” and criticising the Labour Party’s intentions was the best idea, or else an abstention in which you explained your position to the vanguard and the working class. More than one document was written by the BL criticising this perspective as a capitulation to liberal sentiment, and arguing that the correct position was to vote “No”, to demarcate yourselves from the Labour Party and the “progressives”. Even abstaining was unacceptable, as it would be a capitulation to such “bourgeois pressure”. What was our surprise when, sometime later, we spoke to you again, and you told us about your new position, which was a complete 180-degree turn from your previous position, in the space of a few weeks, just after you had harshly criticised us about it.
This period you describe in your recent letter as “sterile rigidity” and say that you no longer claim these written documents. At the same time, however, you also renounce ALL documents produced by the BL, including those with our collaboration, and including, it seems, BL’s founding document, “For a Marxist nucleus in Australia” (https://bolshevik-leninist.org/for-a-marxist-nucleus-in-australia/). In other words, like the ICL, you don’t just want to correct sectarian deviations, to overcome the occasional lack of a “sharper” tactic, but to “break with the centrist politics of BL’s history as a tendency”, including all our shared positions over the years, which for you reflect the “failure of RR” and of the “old BL” on the question of revolutionary leadership.
In the middle of your letter in which all these questions are developed, you speak of your intention to “maintain fraternal relations” even after the fusion you intend to carry out with SL-A. We ask: how, comrades? You will now be in a common organisation with SL-Australia and share their positions. We don’t have fraternal relations with SL-A or the ICL. We are following their evolution, but much of what we are seeing, we have no agreement with and do not wish to approach them for the purposes of fusion or regroupment.
In view of this, and we did not take this decision lightly, it is clear that faced with this fusion, fraternal relations with the BL must be officially terminated. We will not come to regard you as “mortal enemies” or “traitors to the working class” as “type 2” Spartacism certainly would. We don’t want to repeat the degeneration of Spartacism. We are open to different political collaborations and united fronts, etc. But it is simply no longer possible for us to maintain fraternal relations when you have openly abandoned the entire common path that we had built. We have no interest in following the “new course” to which you invite us. Now, finally, we believe that the main discussion documents produced over this last period should be made public, so that the vanguard of the international working class understands our positions (removing, of course, the parts that involve names or private or sensitive issues).

BL’s new positions in line with ICL’s

We have previously written about most of the specific positions developed in your February 1st letter, in our document to you dated 20 September 2023. We believe it is an important document to revisit in order to understand our positions. Let’s elaborate a little more on the arguments you raise in your letter of 1 February.

a) The question of the Labour Party in Australia (and also in Great Britain)

You describe your current policy around the “Chuck AUKUS Hawks out of Labour” campaign. As we explained earlier, we have nothing in principle against this demand, which calls for rank and file or left-wing sections of the ALP to carry out an “experiment” of trying to expel openly pro-imperialist politicians from their party, which would include most of its MPs and even the current Prime Minister of Australia (i.e. something that is clearly not going to happen). 
That’s why we warn that it’s a tactic that makes no sense to be long-lasting, because at some point it’s necessary to say to any left-wing rank of ALP: “You see? The ALP is hopeless, it’s going to continue with AUKUS. You’re the ones who need to break with the party, it’s going to continue to be a pro-imperialist tool”. So far, we haven’t heard anything from the BL about this. On the contrary, as you’re preparing to fuse with SL-A, it looks like you’re going to join the ALP, since you defend their stance on this issue. You certainly should be active in the unions and at political events, close to any radicalised ranks on the left of the ALP, but calling them to break away, instead of you joining this pro-imperialist party.
In your document, you defend entry into the ALP as a tactic that deepens the demand to “Chuck them out”, and you say that the fact that we are against entry into the Labour Party at this time is “a rejection of the 2nd Congress of the Comintern, when Lenin argued in favour of communists not only joining, but affiliating to the BLP”. We recognise entryism as a tactic. We had agreement with the work of ABRI comrades in a centrist socialist youth organisation in Indonesia, for example. We ourselves have always said that the Trotskyists should have done entryism in the PT in Brazil in the years right after it was founded in the 1980s. We claim the Trotskyist movement’s historic tactic of entryism into some social democratic parties in the 1930s, at a time when these parties took a clear turn to the left after they recruited a large layer of young people and workers dissatisfied with Stalinism. We are not sectarian on this issue. There have been other discussions about the situation in Brazil, for example, in which we talked about situations in which this tactic would be applicable hypothetically.
But applying it to the Labour Party in Australia at the moment doesn’t make sense to us (at least not in a revolutionary sense). You make a big fuss about the fact that we said that the ALP is in government at the moment, and that this couldn’t be the communists’ criterion. You agree that this is one of the most right-wing and pro-imperialist Labor governments in history, but you say that “We’re not going to wait for their programme to become more palatable before we fight to break the workers from their misleadership”, including when it is showing “the ugliest social-chauvinist program”. On the basis of this argument, one could argue for joining virtually any party, not just social democratic, but capitalist in general, that has the support of broad sectors of the working class through bureaucratic means.
What we mean is that the ALP, by being in government and leading AUKUS and other clearly right-wing positions, is certainly not attracting any layer of radicalised youth and workers to its ranks (a situation in which the tactic of entryism would be admissible). The British Labour Party in 1920 had in its election campaign demands for socialism, nationalisation of industry and workers’ control and set itself up as the opposition. Of course, it would betray these demands, as it did in the post-war period. But it was completely understandable that workers with revolutionary impulses would join this party, justifying the tactics proposed by Lenin to the British Communists. It’s not a question of wanting a “more palatable programme” before joining, but of going where the most dynamic sections of the working class are actually heading. The ALP is neither opposed to neoliberal austerity, nor to imperialist militarism, nor to the ruling class. On the contrary, it openly serves them.
In this sense, as our strategic objective is to BREAK the Labour Party’s support and working-class base, and not to “fight to transform it” or push it to the left, or improve it by removing the most right-wing politicians (which is the revisionist / Pabloite perspective of “sui generis entryism”), it makes no sense to enter the Australian Labour Party at this time under some tactical justification. You need to convert the “Chuck them out” position into one of “Break with the Labour Party of imperialism”, very soon, something you don’t seem to be preparing to do. You should connect any possible ranks’ impulse to “test” their party (such as an internal referendum to stand against AUKUS) into a campaign for these elements to leave the party in the face of its inevitable failure to reform it.
The same can be said of the BLP, which has recently taken a significant turn to the right. In a recent leaflet, the ICL defended the line “Don’t quit, fight!” in the face of more left-wing politicians and their supporters breaking with the BLP’s right-wing turn and pro-Zionist politics. The revolutionaries should be doing just the opposite. It seems to make much more sense to run a pressure campaign on the more left-wing sections of the BLP, including those who claim to be revolutionaries, to break away and engage in workers’ united fronts and the building of a revolutionary party, as a tactic to move the ranks away from the leadership of these “left-wing” sections, which are umbilically tied to British Labourism. This tactic employed by the ICL in Britain and Australia seems to have been mechanically copied from its original application proposed in Germany in relation to Die Linke, where it perhaps makes more sense to call for the more openly pro-imperialist elements to be kicked out of the party.

b) The pandemic and the “down with lockdowns” and “lockdowns are reactionary” line

As we explained before, “lockdowns”, in the sense of closures of non-essential establishments, schools, etc. are a sanitary measure against a pandemic and could be used in a reactionary or progressive way depending on who controlled it. We have always been against the use of lockdowns to repress or curb protests and the organisation of the working class, as stated above, a line also defended by the BL itself at an earlier time.
BL “misses the mark” when it tries to use this kind of argument and accusation of “liberalism” against us. For us, this is not “a call for them [the lockdowns] to be implemented more humanely, with additional welfare schemes”. It is a proletarian counterpoint to the policy of the bourgeois state, but it does not reject that places could be temporarily closed and social isolation advocated to combat the pandemic. Simply as that.
We have no liberal bias, nor did we join a “national unity against the pandemic” that accepted capitalist power. Not only did we remain totally critical of the bourgeois handling of the pandemic around the world, but we also took action during the pandemic (during which the ICL collapsed) in workers’ struggles as often as we could. When protests against racism took place in Brazil in the middle of the pandemic, we cited it as an example that the struggles should not stop because of health measures, because it was a matter of workers defending their lives. We tried to take part in workers’ struggles against layoffs and attacks as well. Some of our intervention materials from that time: 

So far, you haven’t answered us: would workers, in charge or in power through a workers’ state, defend the possibility of closing down places, and defend temporary isolation measures? If so, then the line of “Down with lockdowns” and “Lockdowns are reactionary” only creates confusion. It would be better to say that the bourgeoisie’s lockdowns prioritised profits and tried to make workers swallow their situation of poverty and precariousness. And it was necessary to fight against this. Class struggle is above the sanitary measures that represent the “bourgeois solution” to the pandemic crisis. Workers should act in defence of their lives and needs. This does not mean that isolation sanitary measures should all fall. 
Despite the absence of lockdowns in Brazil and Latin America, we believe that properly implemented lockdown measures could have significantly reduced COVID deaths, which have disproportionately affected the working class and the poor. ICL’s position (which BL now defends) is confusing. “Lockdowns” can be understood in different ways in different contexts, as you yourselves have recognised. Lockdowns and security measures under workers’ control, if well managed, could have been effective against COVID and favoured our class. In this sense, they would have been an additional tool, just like vaccines, the distribution of masks, the transformation of equipment into hospital machinery, the expropriation of profits to combat COVID, etc.
As we have already said, in order to confront the bourgeoisie’s response to the pandemic crisis, it was necessary to challenge their overall management of it, not specific health measures such as vaccines or closures of establishments. Under the control of the working class, closure and isolation measures would have been different, but they would still have been used. The ICL’s call for unions, not the state, to determine safe working conditions aligns with the idea of workers’ control over health measures. This approach is clearer than blanket statements like “Down with lockdowns”, which can only create confusion.

c) NATO’s war against Russia

In the section on the Ukraine war, you unfortunately produce some of the most absurd and contradictory arguments. We had pointed out the contradictions in the ICL’s analyses, saying that Russia’s victory would be a “humiliating blow to the US” and would “call into question NATO’s existence”, while at the same time the ICL refused to defend Russia’s military victory, which is Russia’s defence mechanism against NATO’s long-standing onslaught to the East, and which has China as its ultimate target.
The ICL covers up the absurdity of this position with empty phrases that are completely false even to a careful observer, by saying that the war is a “regional conflict for control of Ukraine” – a “regional conflict” that has all the world’s major imperialist powers sending hundreds of billions of dollars in funding and arms! And that “Ukraine is of little strategic value to the US” (well, they don’t seem to agree!). In the end, the ICL is able to say that a Russian victory, despite the effects described, “would be no significant blow to imperialism”. Comrades, this is an inconsequential position that (yes!) capitulates to liberal pressure. Leninists defend nations surrounded by imperialism and attacked by it, even “strong” subjugated nations like Russia, without any support for their bourgeois rulers (and in fact by digging for their future downfall through political intervention).
In our document of 20 September, we tried to give answers to your questions about tactics, which we also did in our document on the war, in which we tried (within the limits of distance and inferior practical knowledge) to show the Russian and Ukrainian workers a perspective that would combine confrontation with imperialism with proletarian opposition to the bourgeois rulers on both sides. [https://rr4i.noblogs.org/2022/12/23/o-prolongado-conflito-na-ucrania-guerra-maquiada-da-otan-contra-a-russia-2/] In the part of your document on Permanent Revolution, you claim that the new BL and the new ICL want to combine the struggle “for national liberation” (which must be the anti-imperialist struggle) with the struggle for socialism. But you fail miserably in the most obvious case posed by reality and the “decline of US imperialist hegemony” at this decisive historical moment.
In your letter of February 1st, you say that “the victory of one would be a blow to the other, and blows to imperialism are a good thing. But every act that is a blow against imperialism does not necessarily advance the interests of the working class, and all Leninists understand that the only way to deal a final blow to imperialism is ultimately through proletarian revolution.” (BL letter of 1 February). These are abstract words. If NATO’s defeat in this conflict would be a blow against imperialism and that’s “a good thing”, how is that not even remotely progressive? The role of the Russian state makes a victory against NATO contradictory, of course, and not consistently anti-imperialist, which points to the limits of Russian nationalism, the predatory interests of the Kremlin, and the need for an internationalist proletarian perspective instead.
But you tell us that “Neither outcome [neither the Kremlin’s nor the White House’s victory] is remotely progressive, and whichever side wins would not strike a progressive blow against imperialism”. A Russian victory would supposedly strengthen NATO’s other allies in Europe and “the only beneficiaries would be the imperialists”. This is a politically defeatist and cowardly position. It means that in the face of imperialist domination, a nation that resists “has nothing to gain”, as this would strengthen imperialism in other territories in response (as long as there is no final revolutionary victory). Apparently, both the military defeat of imperialism and its military victory would be equally beneficial to imperialist interests. This is very reminiscent of the arguments of the (supposedly outdated) “old ICL” on Afghanistan in 2001, when they didn’t call for the defeat of the US invasion, considering it impossible, and delegated the solution of the problem to a future revolution in the imperialist centres, especially in the US. BL goes so far as to say that:

“Even if the conclusion of that war saw NATO broken up, that would not necessarily be a gain for the working class. If it were crushed by the proletarian revolution, then it would absolutely be a gain. But by Russian victory? (…) A break-up of NATO in this situation would probably take the form of Germany breaking away from NATO and entering into a bloc with Russia. This would not be in the interests of the working class, in fact it would be the start of a new world war. This is no ‘lesser evil’!” (BL document of 1 February).

Comrades, is the ICL section in Germany fighting for the country’s withdrawal from NATO? Should revolutionaries defend the withdrawal of their countries from NATO and the end of this reactionary imperialist alliance that is an enemy of the oppressed peoples of the world? If the answer to these questions is yes, then there is no question of the break-up and end of NATO only being something progressive if it is “smashed by the revolution”. That’s the ideal end, but it’s entirely possible that this could happen prior to revolutionary victories, as a result of pressure from the working-class movement or military defeats suffered by it in its military adventures. BL would be against this break-up of NATO because these means could lead to a Third World War via new imperialist alignments? So, does this mean that the BL only defends the end of NATO if this is done by the revolution and does not defend its end by any other means (pressure from the workers’ movement, military defeats of NATO)?
Such a position would be totally inconsistent with Leninism. The defeat of imperialist interests on the battlefields is as much a part of the anti-imperialist perspective of Marxism as workers’ pressure and, ultimately, their open revolutionary struggle. Revolutionaries cannot refuse to defend the end of NATO, the withdrawal of the allied countries wherever they are and the defence of their defeat in their reactionary military onslaughts. Workers are not to blame for a hypothetical imperialist realignment or World War III that could result from the deserved defeats of the US-dominated imperialist coalition. NATO must be defeated. Only the workers can make this defeat consequential and definitive.

d) Permanent Revolution, Spartacism and concrete perspectives

In the long section of your letter that is dedicated to the question of Permanent Revolution, you give what is, in general, a formally correct description of the theory of Permanent Revolution, of the “national bourgeoisies” as an intermediary agency of imperialism in the control of the state of the peripheral nations, which is intrinsically incapable of confronting imperialism and breaking the bonds that tie the oppressed nation to the forms of international domination of capital; the need for revolutionaries to promote a break by the working class with such deceitful politicians of the national bourgeoisies, including those who proclaim themselves anti-imperialist (although you include Lula in this category, something that would only have been appropriate in the 1980s-90s, not today). At the same time, you consider the “old programme of the ICL”, historic Spartacism, as well as the RR, “an obstacle to any serious struggle in these countries and condemns the masses to remain entirely wedded to the national bourgeoisie”. Let’s say what we think about that.
Firstly, “historical Spartacism”, at least in its best period, recognised the need for a programme that combined the struggle against imperialism with the most heartfelt demands of the working class in a transitional programme in the peripheral (semi-colonial) countries of the capitalist system, including partial and democratic demands. You have only to read the Spartacist League’s 1966 Declaration of Principles, its other founding documents and many of the articles we translated from the first issues of Spartacist and Workers’ Vanguard to realise this. In fact, the consistent defence of oppressed nations against imperialist interference (which the “current ICL” fails to do in the case of Russia), constitutes one of the essential elements that won several of the founding members of the RR away from the Morenoite tradition, which capitulates to forces subordinate to imperialism on several occasions. Spartacism was also much more consistent than its Mandelist, Lambertist and general Pabloist opponents of the time.
It is a fact that “historical Spartacism” has fallen into deviations and errors on specific positions, some of which we were never sure about and have already debated internally in a critical way, including informally sharing these issues with the BL, as you may remember. This includes the Falklands War, already in a period when the ICL’s sectarian bureaucratic degeneration was advanced (1982). The arguments put forward by the ICL at the time to defend its position of “double defeatism” are inadmissible. They used texts by Shachtman (and of his centrist period) to try to question Argentina’s character as an oppressed country (in Workers Vanguard issues from 1982).
Even in the 1970s, SL documents on the “national question” and interpenetrated peoples were over-zealous in their concern for the national rights of oppressor peoples in situations of geographical territorial intertwining (as in the case of Israel/Palestine and the “Protestant” unionists in Northern Ireland). These are secondary problems that should be corrected and which we do not seek to repeat or emphasise in the tradition of Spartacism that we claim. Despite this, these documents have a correct Marxist analysis on several points, and an important differentiation of class independence in opposition to much of the left of the period, which dissolved into the camp of the oppressed nation without questioning the bourgeois leaderships.
We find it curious that the current ICL has revised (in a way that seems progressive to us) its position on the Falklands war, but has not dedicated a single line to the question of its liberal pro-imperialist reaction (of the then iSt) to the destruction of the US military base in Lebanon in 1983, in which they focussed on condemning the attack as an “atrocity” and calling for the lives of the American marines to be saved, accusing those who called for a firmer position denouncing imperialist militarism of being “defenders of carnage”. (This position has already been raised and discussed ad infinitum by the BT/IBT, as you well know). What does the current ICL have to say about this?
We hope that this stance of “opening the archives” will have a positive effect on those who claim the tradition of Spartacism in order to revise past positions that are effectively problematic or insufficient, without the constant “fear” that doing so will lead to accusations and grotesque attacks from other groups in this tradition, something that has always caught our attention in the sectarian dynamics involving the SL-IG-IBT. It is necessary to save the best of Spartacism as a tradition of Trotskyism that resisted the revisionist destruction of the Fourth International at a certain time, not to repeat its mistakes or its degeneration.
Another question: You devote a considerable part of this section to criticising the trajectory of “historical Spartacism” itself as useless for breaking the working masses with the bourgeois leaders who project themselves as anti-imperialists (and you take the opportunity to attribute this to RR). What would you change or criticise about the positions and intervention of Spartacism on the question of the Allende government and the Pinochet coup in Chile between 1970-1973? This is a sincere question, because the iSt materials from that period are, in our opinion, among the best contributions of Trotskyism on the question of popular fronts and the urgent need for class independence to really achieve the break with imperialism and fight for socialism (something Allende supporters disagreed with or chose to avoid). As a result of their intervention, the Spartacists gained militants and built a section in Chile, which however seems to have been short-lived. This issue also marks a firm stance of opposition to the popular fronts, something that most of the revisionist-Trotskyist movement simply abandoned or relativised.
Yet another question: what does the ICL have to say about one of their latest writings on Brazil, in which you defend a position that “Workers have no side in the impeachment of Brazil” (2016) [https://icl-fi.org/portugues/oldsite/impeachment.html]. Do you continue to defend this shameful abstentionist position? The ICL’s current discourse on Brazil would indicate no, but not a word has been said about it, even though the ICL has approached us for discussions. BL accuses us of being sectarian and presenting no path for the workers to break from the PT, only abstract words, just like “old ICL”.
RR has taken a stand against this judicial-police coup that removed the elected president of the PT, proceed to the arrest of Lula to remove him from the 2018 elections, and the persecution of PT leaders with allegations of corruption. But we did this without capitulating to the pressures by the PT to defend its political project and their former governments. On the contrary, we argued that a break with institutionalism (hopes in bourgeois justice system) and electoralism (hopes that the PT could win the following elections) were essential for defeating the coup. This at least presented a path to defeat the coup by a deepening of the class struggle and the eventual break-up of the masses who believed in the PT. It called for a confrontation with the ruling class and imperialism (which at that point were fully in favour of the coup). This can be seen in the materials, pamphlets and our presence at anti-coup demonstrations and struggles, as well as our campaign to pressure the trade unions led by the PT and its satellites to launch mass strikes (something that didn’t happen).
Meanwhile, the ICL argued that “the workers have no side” and that even to stand against the judicial-police coup was automatically to capitulate to the PT (something you develop in a very wrong criticism of the IG). Answer the question, comrades: who was useless in trying to break the illusions of the masses with the PT? Can the “old ICL” (2016) and RR positions be considered similar (in terms of programme)? Could anyone seriously put RR and the “old ICL” in the same pot on this burning issue in recent Brazilian politics? “Historical Spartacism” of the revolutionary phase stood against coups d’état and judicial-police persecutions, even of front-populist leaders when they faced repression coming from reactionaries, without politically supporting them. There are many examples of this. What does the “current ICL” have to say? Only a sectarian or a blind person could equate the position of the “old ICL” and RR on this issue.
You accuse us of counterposing “national liberation” to socialism, saying that RR “outright rejected” this task. If national liberation is understood as the struggle against imperialism, then this is simply not true. Let’s quote from a recent document available on our website:

“Based on the contributions on the imperialist phase of capital written by comrade Lenin and the concept of Permanent Revolution elaborated by comrade Trotsky, we don’t deny that dependent countries like Brazil and Latin America as a whole have elementary democratic tasks to fulfil [We were precisely debating such a view, defended by the group “Transição Socialista”]. After all, unlike other countries, the bourgeoisie managed to consolidate itself in this region without having to carry out a profound destruction of the pre-capitalist relations of slavery, indigenous servitude and the elimination of the old landowning class. On the periphery of the system, capitalism took on much stronger contradictory aspects. Elements such as the distribution of land and the end of imperialist spoliation remain absolutely current, and can only be resolved through the expropriation of capitalists (both national and foreign).” (December 2021)

Something very similar is described in our political programme, which BL comrades know very well because they helped writing it, in the section entitled “Permanent Revolution”. This accusation is typical of the sectarianism of the “old ICL” and has nothing concrete about it.
It is in this part of the document that the BL accuses us the most of making “empty denunciations of the national bourgeoisie”, which would make us as worthless as “the opportunists who follow it”. You seem very uncomfortable with such denunciations. You also repeatedly say that they are “words that sound correct but are abstract”. However, there are no concrete tactical propositions in your document beyond that. All the BL tells us is that we must be “the champions of the struggle for national liberation” to prove the consistency of the Marxists in opposition to the incapacity of the national bourgeoisie.
Allow us to say that’s correct, but quite abstract, comrades. We must also be the champions of the struggle for land, housing and workers’ living conditions, the struggle against the imperialists’ pressures and mediations, as well as the struggles against layoffs (umbilically linked to the austerity imposed by imperialism), the struggle against oppressions (especially in the case of Brazil’s police and systematic racism, which needs a revolutionary solution), the struggle against the withdrawal and for the expansion of democratic rights and against “alt right” movements (such as Bolsonarism) and fascism. In all these arenas, the national bourgeoisie, the conciliator and opportunist parties are useless in offering a way out to the workers other than deepening exploitation and barbarism (presenting at most the “appearance of change”). In fact, one of the things that makes a revolutionary party stand out is its ability to show our class the connection between these issues and the need to break with the conciliator leaderships and the bourgeois state in order to resolve them.
The limits imposed on us are those of a small revolutionary organisation in a huge country with an enormous proletariat. Of course, we are less active and capable than we would like to be, we have fewer forces and resources than are necessary for this historic task. But you will find in our trajectory a series of tactics and interventions that consistently seek to demonstrate the incapacity of the current leaderships, and advocate policies for deepening struggles, demanding the formation of united fronts, pressuring centrist groups to break with class-collaboration parties when they turn clearly to the right, etc. In one of our recent writings on Brazil, we defended the formation of united fronts to defend living conditions (we even got involved in building one of these initiatives in São Paulo, with other organisations, but it was short-lived). We also made this challenge to the ranks that support the PT:

Many supporters of the PT and the government say that Lula’s hands are tied because of the conservative nature of Congress. But first of all, we have to be clear that the PT itself is at the forefront of carrying out and maintaining some of these measures that attack the interests of the working class. Furthermore, at no point does the PT launch a confrontation against these reactionary sectors of Congress, the Churches, the Armed Forces, etc. Instead, it has great faith in a long-term collaboration with them.
If the PT had really been committed to the working class, Lula would have been able to issue decrees and start passing measures of clear popular interest: distribution of land and housing, increases in the minimum wage, nationalisation of factories (many foreign) that are closing down, etc. and call on the people to pick a fight with Congress and the Supreme Court when they go against him. This is exactly what Bolsonaro did at times in order to pass reactionary measures and also get favours for his parasitic allies, testing how far he could “stretch the rope”. However, Lula and the PT follow the path of conciliation with the financial elite and imperialism, not confrontation. This is a demand that we make of this government, but without the slightest illusion that they can follow this path, and precisely so that this be clear to their supporters. (October 2023).

We’ve posed this question to “left-wing” supporters of the PT government on a few occasions, getting the most confused and legalistic answers. How is this “abstract” compared to what BL defends, about “being the champions of the struggle for national liberation”? BL’s attempt to frame us in a kind of sectarianism that doesn’t understand the theory of Permanent Revolution, rejects anti-imperialist tasks on the periphery of the system, and doesn’t fight to confront the current bourgeois or collaborationist leaderships (beyond “correct sounding but abstract words”) is absurd. What should we be doing differently so as not to reproduce this supposedly “abstract” position? Do you believe that revolutionaries in Brazil should affiliate to the PT, as you are arguing is the correct tactic in similar (albeit even more to the right) formations, such as in Britain and Australia?
We end this letter to you hoping that it has helped clarify our positions. We are obviously open to suggestions for tactics (not abstract and not opportunistic), to the formation of united fronts in the interests of the working class and we will follow the development of the BL as long as you proceed your fusion intentions with the SL-A. For our part, we remain convinced that, despite its limits, deviations and occasional errors, we still have much more to learn about revolutionary politics and coherent tactics from “historical Spartacism” of the 1960s-1970s, in comparison to the “type 2” sectarian degeneration that it ended up producing (and which still has proud imitators among us), and to the “new ICL” and “new BL”.

Revolutionary greetings,
Icaro Kaleb
On behalf of Revolutionary Regroupment