Fourth International debates key issues

Alan Thornett reports from the annual meeting of the International Committee of the Fourth International (FI), which took place in Amsterdam from February 22-26, attended by around 80 delegates and visitors, from over 30 countries.

images (2)There were comrades present from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, the Spanish state, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Russia, Bosnia, Holland, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, the USA, Canada/Quebec, Lebanon and Algeria.

The meeting took introductions and debate on: The international situation, including a supplementary introduction on climate change and climate refugees; the revolutionary process and the rise of counter-revolution in the Arab region and the work of the section in the Philippines.

There was also a continuation of the debate on broad left parties which has been a feature of the last two IC’s, taking reports on specific national experiences. At this meeting the first was on the experience of building broad parties in Britain, over the past 15 years, and the second on the experience in Greece and the rise of Syriza – particularly in the recent period.
There were regional meetings for Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, and the Arab region and a meeting of the women’s commission. There were reports on the work of the International Institutes of Research and Education in Amsterdam, Manilla and Islamabad.

The report on the international situation found strong agreement with the debate focussing on the situation in Ukraine and Bosnia with very impressive contributions from the Russian comrades. There was a first hand account of events in Bosnia from a young comrade who had been involved in the protests from the outset.

The upshot of the discussion was a resolution on Ukraine which had overwhelming support:. It recognises the uprising as a legitimate popular revolt against a dictatorial regime, despite the right wing elements involved, and stood against imperialist intervention including that of Russia (The Russian annexation of Crimea took place after the meeting had finished: the following pieces which have been written since are also worth reading: and )

The supplementary introduction on climate change and climate refugees drew strong interventions from the Asian and Latin American comrades in particular. The comrade from Bangladesh talked about the climate caravan that they are organising towards the end of the year through India and into Nepal and the Philippines comrades talked about the impact of hurricane Haiyan and the relief and reconstruction work they are undertaking as a result.

The report on the current stage of the Arab revolt and the rise of counter-revolution also found wide agreement. It focussed at the end of the debate on Syria and a detailed resolution was adopted that stood in solidarity with the uprising against Assad despite the strengthening of fundamentalist forces within it and called for solidarity action particularly at the level of humanitarian relief.

The report on the work of the comrades in the Philippines was particularly impressive. It included not only some detail of the political education work the comrades are doing via the IIRE Manila that is increasingly having an impact in the region as a whole but also the work they have been doing around land redistribution.

There was a very good discussion on the experiences of building broad parties in Britain from the Socialist Alliance and Respect through to new experience of Left Unity today and the role of the organised far left organisations within them. There was discussion around the issues of democracy and accountability and the use of democratic centralism within such parties buy far left organisations. There was a lot of interest in the progress Left Unity is making today and its chances of building something significant to the left of the Labour Party.

The main debate, however, naturally and rightly was about Greece and the situation Syriza now finds itself in that is effectively as an alternative anti-austerity government in waiting.

It was a very sharp debate with the main protagonists being the comrades from the Greek section OKDE-Spartacus who reject joining Syriza and are a part of the Antarsya coalition that stands candidate against Syriza in elections and myself and the discussion paper I had submitted to the International Committee entitled The Significance of Syriza. Unfortunately neither of the other organisation associated with the FI in Greece KOKINO and the EDA – both of which are inside of Syriza – were able to be present.

My contention was that the key debate on the stage of the struggle in Greece today is the strategic issue of the need for a workers government and how the current support for Syriza, that is currently over 30% in the polls, can be transformed into such a government that could pose the issue of a fundamental break with the capitalist system. The comrades of OKDE, unsurprisingly, strongly disagreed with this and defended the role they are playing in Antarsya. (see here for an example of their arguments) Whilst my discussion paper remain exactly that, a discussion paper, there was strong support in the meeting for the current FI majority position on the situation in Greece which is support for Syriza and support for a perspective of working inside it.

This meeting gave me and other comrades the opportunity to discuss many of the key aspects of world politics together with comrades from across the globe, finding a great deal of agreement on many of those issues.

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