Socialist Equality Party (United States)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (United States)

Pabloism, the New Left and Guerrillaism

Even as Robertson made these comments, the Pabloites were setting in place props and buffers upon which both the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists would rely in the social upheavals that were approaching. In the United States, the SWP was playing a critical role in the subordination of the growing anti-Vietnam War movement to the capitalist Democratic Party. Throughout Europe, the Pabloite organizations were adapting themselves to both the Stalinists and the petty-bourgeois “New Left” tendencies that were soon to contribute significantly to diverting and disorienting the mass movements of social protest that erupted in 1968. In France, the Pabloites facilitated the Stalinist betrayal of the revolutionary eruption of the working class in May-June of that year. And further, as the Czechoslovak “Prague Spring” of 1968 and the wave of strikes in Poland clearly demonstrated, the Stalinist regimes were already entering into terminal crisis. The Pabloite organizations, with their theories of self-reforming bureaucracies, diverted the Fourth International from concentrating its forces in an implacable struggle against the Stalinist regimes and preparing for their overthrow. It was not pre-determined, in the mid-1960s, that the eventual collapse of Stalinism would lead inexorably to the formation of right-wing and pro-capitalist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Indeed, in the 1960s, the struggles against Stalinist tyranny in Eastern Europe were left-wing and socialist. The later reactionary outcome in Eastern Europe, the USSR and, for that matter, China, was the product of political conditions that were shaped, to a significant extent, by the Pabloites’ false and reactionary policies.

Among the betrayals of Pabloism was its glorification of Castroism and guerrillaism, which had a devastating impact on an entire generation of left-wing workers and youth in Latin America. The political disasters of the 1970s—in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay—were the consequence of theories and policies promoted by the Pabloite United Secretariat. The signal for the repudiation of Trotskyism was given by the United Secretariat’s celebration of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine radical who, like many Latin American intellectuals of his generation, explicitly rejected the Marxist conception of the revolutionary role of the working class. The Pabloites looked the other way when Guevara welcomed Ramon Mercader, the assassin of Trotsky, to Cuba after the latter’s release from a Mexican prison in 1960. They called on socialist youth in Latin America to find an alternative to a strategy based on the working class. As the Bolivian Pabloite Moscoso wrote:

The guerrilla method advocated by the Cubans is applicable to all underdeveloped countries, although its form must vary in accord with the peculiarities of each country. In those countries where there exists a great peasant mass with an unresolved land problem, the guerrillas will draw their strength from the peasantry; the guerrilla struggle will bring this mass into action, solving their agrarian problem arms in hand, as occurred in Cuba, starting from the Sierra Maestra. But in other countries the proletariat and the radicalized petty bourgeoisie of the cities will provide the guerrilla forces.[1]


Hugo González Moscoso, “The Cuban Revolution and Its Lessons,” in: Fifty Years of World Revolution, ed. Ernest Mandel [New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970], pp. 194-95.