Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

The emergence of Pabloism

87. The theoretical revisions of Grant and Cliff would prove to be only a foretaste of those associated with Pabloism, the most pernicious and politically dangerous tendency to emerge from the Fourth International as a result of the political pressures bearing down upon it in the post-war years.

88. The SWP and the International Executive Committee, based in Europe under the leadership of Michel Pablo and Ernest Mandel, had taken a united stance against the Morrow/Goldman tendency and its supporters in Britain. But from 1949, in response to the consolidation of US hegemony in the west and the formation of Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and China, Pablo began to shift his position―writing of the transition from capitalism to socialism taking place through “centuries” of “deformed workers’ states”. He asserted that the conflict between the US and the USSR would herald a global civil war, in which the Soviet bureaucracy would be forced to carry through the socialist revolution. “For our movement”, Pablo declared, “objective social reality consists essentially of the capitalist regime and the Stalinist world.”

89. Behind his apocalyptic vision of “war-revolution”, Pablo consolidated the impressionistic positions that had emerged within the world movement into a liquidationist tendency, which wrote off the working class as a revolutionary force and reduced the Fourth International to the role of a pressure group on the Stalinists, social democratic and bourgeois nationalist movements. At the Third World Congress of the Fourth International in 1951, Pablo explained:

“What distinguishes us still more from the past, what makes for the quality of our movement today and constitutes the surest gauge of our future victories, is our growing capacities to understand, to appreciate the mass movement as it exists―often confused, often under treacherous, opportunist, centrist, bureaucratic and even bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leaderships―and our endeavours to find our place in this movement with the aim of raising it from its present to higher levels… to reject these movements out of hand, to label them as reactionary, fascist or no concern to us, would be proof of the old type of ‘Trotskyist’ immaturity and of a dogmatic, abstract, intellectualistic judgment of the mass movement.”[1]

90. On this basis, Pablo formulated what came to be defined as entrism sui generis (of a special type). Whereas previously the entrist tactics pursued by the Trotskyists had been subordinate to the building of independent organizations, this conception was now ruled out in favour of pushing these parties to the left:

“There is not now a single Trotskyist organization, which, either as a whole or in part, does not seriously, profoundly, concretely understand the necessity of subordinating all organizational characterizations, of formal independence or otherwise, to real integration into the mass movement where it expresses itself in each country, or to integration in an important current of this movement which can be influenced.”[2]


Cited in The Heritage We DefendA Contribution to the History of the Fourth International, David North, Labor Publications, 1988] p.194.


ibid, p. 193.