Fourth International declares itself ecosocialist

Alan Thornett reports from the sixteenth world congress of the Fourth International (FI) which was held near Ostend, Belgium, in late February. There were over 200 delegates, observers and invited guests from around 40 countries. The International brings together revolutionary socialists from around the world and Socialist Resistance is its section in the British state.

It was the International’s most successful congress for some years, marking important steps forward at both the political and the organisational levels. A new Russian section was recognised and an expansion or consolidation of the forces of the FI was recorded in a number of countries from Japan to the Spanish state. The Labour Party Pakistan, an organisation with over 7,000 members, has declared itself in solidarity with the FI and played an important role.

There was a very positive mood at the congress. This was due, not least, to the fact that there were more young people than in previous years and more women. Both of these factors were reflected in the new International Committee which was elected at the end of the Congress with 40% women’s representation.

The Congress discussed a range of resolutions from the world political situation, the economic crisis, climate change, women and the crisis of humanity, LGBT rights, and the role and tasks of the FI itself. It also adopted resolutions on, Palestine, Human rights in Mexico, Peru, Sri Lanka, Haiti and on the importance upcoming conference on climate change in Cochabamba called by Evo Morales.

The single most significant decision was the adoption of the resolution on climate change. This is a comprehensive and detailed resolution which includes the decision to define the FI as an ecosocialist international. It is one of the most important programmatic resolutions adopted by the FI for many years and makes the FI the first of the Trotskyist international organisations to define itself as ecosocialist.

High level of agreement

The driving force in the discussion on climate change was the delegates from the global south including the Latin American delegations — some of which had already defined their own sections as ecosocialist. The only sceptical voice in the discussion was a visitor from the French Organisation Lutte Ouvrière who argued that the climate change issue was a middle class fad.

Most impressive from a practical point of view was the Philippines section — the Revolutionary Workers Party-Mindanao. They not only talked about the impact of extreme weather events on the region caused by climate change but how they are seeking to create sustainable agriculture in the Chiapas-type zone they control. They are, for example, replacing Monsanto modified rice, which has had it power to germinate as seed destroyed, with traditional rice strains which the farmers can use as seed.

There was a high level of agreement on the world political situation and the economic crisis — in particular on the structural and dual economic and ecological nature of the crisis. There was also wide agreement on the war drive and the role of Obama’s USA which is increasingly displaying a continuity with George Bush’s project. The delegate from China explained in graphic detail how China was emerging as a new imperialist power with a gigantic labour force at its disposal — possibly representing a quarter of the world’s working class.

A text was agreed on the role and tasks of the Fourth International around the need to build anti-capitalist parties to provide a political voice for all those abandoned by social democracy which has now embraced neo-liberalism. Socialist Resistance was sceptical about the call for a future broader anti-capitalist international although the text nevertheless called for the building and strengthening of the FI in its present form as a revolutionary socialist international. Importantly this includes putting a new impetus behind the FI’s Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) in Amsterdam — which is planning future seminars on broad parties, ecosocialism and on job conversion in the car industry. There were also reports on the launching of two ‘regional’ extensions of the IIRE, one in Manila, which is already functioning and another which is being planned in Islamabad.

4 Comments

  1. The title of this article is a complete fraud.

    The ‘Fourth International’ hasn’t declared itself ‘ecosocialist’. The Fourth International would no more do this than declare itself ‘ChristianSocialist’ (or any other mystical belief) or, in another era, say, ‘FreudianSocilaist’.

    The Fourth International would never do this because it would never see anything that is other than the central dynamic of ‘capital versus Labour’ as the thing that defines it. It will have views on ecology as it will on say race, transport and women but these are all part of its communist heart.

    The Fourth International, which no longer exists, was the best ever political developed formation of the international workers movement (if always poor in both reach and organisation). It was in a line of direct progression from the French Revolution, the German Peasants War, the English Civil War, who knows what end of African, Asian etc uprisings etc that my European centric education has ignored and then the First, Second and Third International.

    What has happened that is that you Lefts, from the Fourth International tradition (and that is a very loose term) have called yourselves ‘ecosocialists’. Others have likewise left revolutionary socialism to call themselves supporters of Castro, Chavez, various Labour parties, genocide against Tamils or calling Elizabeth Windsor the world prime drug King pin – but at least they all had the decency to stop calling themselves the ‘Fourth International’.

    You have no right to drag our flag – the red flag of Trotskyism, i.e. Marxism or the route to human liberation – through the gutter and this article should be renamed.

    Rebuild the Fourth International.

  2. I am also pleased to hear the that the youth of the world are seeing the destructive nature of capitalism in its Neo Liberal form. The likes of Monsanto and GM products are another form of control and needs to be eliminated. The crisis in capital will hasten the education of a new generation of radical thinkers and revolutionary activists…

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