International Committee of the Fourth International
The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the ICFI

A Historical Balance Sheet of the Struggle against Opportunism

When the International Committee was founded in 1953 to combat the growth of opportunism inside the Fourth International, Cannon’s “Open Letter to the World Trotskyist Movement” called for an international struggle against the revisionist attack on the program of “orthodox Trotskyism,” and insisted that the lines of cleavage between Marxism and Pabloism were so deep that no compromise was possible. If the opportunist theories and politics of the Pabloites were to triumph inside the Fourth International, Cannon warned, it would mean the liquidation of Trotskyism as an organized revolutionary force in the international workers’ movement.

But within just a few years, the SWP leadership abandoned the struggle against Pabloism and began to insist on a reunification with the Pabloite International Secretariat, without any discussion of the programmatic issues which had led to the 1953 split. This proposal for an unprincipled reunification—unprincipled because it was based on a suppression of discussion of the issues raised in 1953—was resisted by the British and French sections of the International Committee and by a minority within the Socialist Workers Party. Against their opposition, the reunification was carried through in June 1963.

Thirty-five years after the founding of the International Committee and a quarter-century after the SWP-Pabloite reunification, it is possible to draw a comprehensive balance sheet assessing the role of opportunism in undermining the programmatic foundations and practical revolutionary work of the Fourth International. Of course, as is characteristic of opportunism, Pabloism never attempted a systematic exposition of its differences with Trotskyism. But the sum total of its revisions represents a repudiation of every basic principle of

Trotskyism in particular and revolutionary Marxism in general. The Pabloites renounced all the political foundations upon which the founding of the Fourth International had been based; that is, Trotsky’s analysis of the historical and social function of the Stalinist bureaucracy and his theory of permanent revolution. It is now possible to evaluate the Pabloite theories in the light of decisive historical experiences.