277. In 1998, the ICFI established the World Socialist Web Site, an initiative that marked another key turning point in the history of the Trotskyist movement and the working class. The development of a politically-unified world party in the aftermath of the 1985–86 split with the Workers Revolutionary Party created the conditions for the development of an integrated daily practice for the world movement as a whole, at the highest political and theoretical level. For the first time, the IC was able to develop its own specific world presence. It embraced the development of the new technologies embodied in the Internet as the means to effect the transformation in its daily practice anticipated and necessitated by the transformation of leagues to parties. Within the space of a few months, the WSWS had established itself as an international political and intellectual force, and the authoritative voice of international socialism for a growing world audience.
278. Well in advance of any other organisation within the labour movement, and in the face of accusations by the petty-bourgeois tendencies that it had “abandoned the working class” and “liquidated into cyber space” the IC’s prescience in its assessment of the potential of the WSWS was grounded on definite political conceptions. These were elaborated by David North in a report to the 18th Plenum of the ICFI in July 1998: “(1) The insistence of the ICFI on the primacy of internationalism as the basis of the political strategy and tactical organization of the working class. (2) The uncompromising character of the struggle waged by the ICFI against the domination of the working class by the reactionary labor bureaucracies. (3) The emphasis placed upon the revival of a genuine socialist political culture within the working class as an essential intellectual and, one might add, ‘spiritual’ premise of a new international revolutionary movement. This is the essential intellectual substance and precondition of socialist revolution. (4) The struggle against spontaneism and political fatalism in relation to the development of the crisis of capitalism, the class struggle, and the socialist revolution.”
279. In launching the WSWS the editorial board declared: “The World Socialist Web Site, published by the coordinated efforts of ICFI members in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, takes as its starting point the international character of the class struggle. It assesses political developments in every country from the standpoint of the world crisis of capitalism and the political tasks confronting the international working class. Flowing from this perspective, it resolutely opposes all forms of chauvinism and national parochialism. We are confident that the WSWS will become an unprecedented tool for the political education and unification of the working class on an international scale. It will help working people of different countries coordinate their struggles against capital, just as the transnational corporations organize their war against labour across national boundaries. It will facilitate discussions between workers of all nations, allowing them to compare their experiences and elaborate a common strategy. The ICFI expects the world audience for the World Socialist Web Site to grow as the Internet expands. As a rapid and global form of communication, the Internet has extraordinary democratic and revolutionary implications. It can enable a mass audience to gain access to the intellectual resources of the world, from libraries and archives to museums. In the fifteenth century Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press played a critical role in breaking the control of the Church over intellectual life, undermining feudal institutions, and fostering the great cultural revival that began with the Renaissance and ultimately found expression in the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. So today the Internet can facilitate a renewal of revolutionary thought. The International Committee of the Fourth International intends to use this technology as a tool for the liberation of the oppressed and working people all over the world.”
The Historical & International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Mehring Books, Oak Park, 2008, pp. 154–155.