Challenges of the new world situation

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Resolution of the XIV Congres of the Fourth International, 1995 (Excerpts)

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We have to begin the necessary work of programmatic redefinition. Thanks to our traditions and our heritage, the world that is taking shape remains largely intelligible for us. Nothing would be more sterile than forgetting our whole past in order to rave about empty novelties. On the other hand, an international movement that did not help analyze this major transformation and help respond to problems that are really new would quickly be seen as useless.

The problems are real and substantial: consequences of globalization, reorganization of the international division of labor, crisis of the nation-state, formation of regional economic and political entities, development of international institutions and development of new juridical relationships. While we should be cautious with analogies, the tasks that confront us are comparable to those the workers' movement faced at the turn of the 20th century, when its theoretical and political culture was forged: the analysis of imperialism, debates on the national question, and battles over forms of political, social and parliamentary organization.

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3. [...] The organized forces (social movements, parties, unions) that came out of the preceding cycle of struggles have been socially weakened. They have undergone significant defeats in the wealthy countries (British miners, sliding scale in Italy, steel industry in France) and in the poor countries (Bolivian miners, agrarian counter-reform in Mexico) without the new organizing poles of the next cycle of struggles having made their appearance yet. From this point of view, the Brazilian PT is more a heritage of the preceding period of growth (industrial miracle) than a general model for what is to come (even if the question of an independent class party retains its full propagandistic, and in some cases agitational value in a number of countries). The loosening grip of «national compromises» forged during the period of growth and the weakening of class movements facilitate the outbreak of panics over identity and quests for other kinds of communities (national, ethnic or religious). The social forces and forms of organization forged during past cycles of mobilization are virtually exhausted, while new activist generations have not yet clearly emerged. The role of youth (for traditional reasons) and women (for more specific reasons - see "Women and Economic Integration" in Women's lives in the New Global Economy, NSR 22, IIRE, 1995) will be decisive in the initiation of a new cycle of mobilization.

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11. Transitional demands are bridges from immediate demands that respond to urgent needs to the seizure of power. But these bridges and passageways are quite shaky today. Where is the power to be seized? It is still concentrated in the really existing state apparatus, but it is already being delegated to regional and international institutions. This [...] is a major strategic problem for the workers' movement, whose policies were shaped for decades within the framework of national states, with revolutionary variants (nationalizations, a single bank, monopoly on foreign trade, dual power) and reformist variants (democratization and Keynesian policies). Today the disjunction between economic and political power, the dispersal of decision-making centers (on the local, national, regional and worldwide levels) are such that the gateways established by immediate demands tend to go off in all directions. It is striking to note that the Brazilian PT's program was far more moderate than the radical reformist program of the Chilean Popular Unity in 1970, or that what would now be a radical program in certain European countries (reduction of the workweek, immigrant rights, debt moratorium, demilitarization) is often far weaker than the reformist programs of the seventies (nationalizations, elements of workers self-management and control). Faced with the impotence of reformless reformism, the majority currents in the workers' movement waver between adaptation to free-market logics (modernizing social democracy) and nationalist turns inward (various Communist and ex-Communist parties).

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12. [...] the changes under way are not conjunctural: we are witnessing a historic mutation of the mode of capitalist accumulation, whose full strategic consequences we cannot yet foresee. At least it is not too soon to take stock of the magnitude of the problem. The "crisis of revolutionary leadership", which has become a crisis of the workers' movement as such, acquires all the more importance in this historical perspective.

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In the dependent countries where progressive anti-imperialist currents were able to enter into conflicting alliances with the nationalist sectors of a potential (petty) bourgeoisie, the change in the international relationship of forces has led to a cascading "realistic" realignment (accommodations and compromises with the IMF and World Bank). [...] There is now an outright and not conjunctural crisis of the forms of the preceding phase of radical anti-imperialism (confusion in Panama, in Haiti) and a strong tendency to destructively adapt to a fall-back position in the name of an illusory "realism" (El Salvador, Nicaragua, South Africa).

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13. [...] Revolution is necessary. We are struggling in order to make it possible and make it victorious. But it is not certain, and above all we are forced, like generals who are always behind the times because they have forced to reason on the basis of the last war, to imagine a revolutionary project in the shape of past revolutions, whereas a renascent social movement will probably bring answers that no one could foresee.

14. [...] From now on a transitional approach must directly combine demands that defend gains in a national framework and that propose transformations in at least a continental framework. Otherwise we are leaving the initiative to the bourgeoisie. A comparable problem is posed for the dependent countries, who are trapped in the new international division of labor and whose tactical space has been considerably narrowed. We have already emphasized that the Brazilian PT's program (meaning the program that we adopted too, not Lula's campaign) was already far more moderate that the programme of the Chilean Popular Unity. And this was Brazil. What can we say about countries that do not have this level of industrialization and productive capacity? In what conditions can de-linking from the world market still constitute a way to launch development? What are the effects of what some economists call involuntary de-linking: the throwing of whole countries or regions onto the margins of the world market?