The era of the Fourth International implies the resurgence of revolutionary internationalism within the vanguard of the world proletariat. The crisis of Stalinism and the reformist bureaucracies testifies to the bankruptcy of programs based on political and economic nationalism, which subordinate the working class to the interests of the capitalists of each country and to world imperialism as a whole. Since the eruption of World War I in 1914, the struggle of Marxists—first against the social democrats and then against the Stalinists—has proceeded under the banner of internationalism. Exactly 60 years ago, in his critique of the draft program of the Comintern, which had by then fallen under the domination of the Stalinist bureaucracy, Trotsky wrote:
“In our epoch, which is the epoch of imperialism, i.e., of world economy and world politics under the hegemony of finance capital, not a single communist party can establish its program by proceeding solely or mainly from conditions and tendencies of developments in its own country... On August 4, 1914, the death knell sounded for national programs for all time. The revolutionary party of the proletariat can base itself only upon an international program corresponding to the character of the present epoch, the epoch of the highest development and collapse of capitalism. An international communist program is in no case the sum total of national programs or an amalgam of their common features. The international program must proceed directly from an analysis of the conditions and tendencies of world economy and of the world political system taken as a whole in all its connections and contradictions, that is, with the mutually antagonistic interdependence of its separate parts. In the present epoch, to a much larger extent than in the past, the national orientation of the proletariat must and can flow from a world orientation and not vice versa. Herein lies the basic and primary difference between communist internationalism and all varieties of national socialism.”
The strategical axis of the struggle to put an end to the capitalist profit system is the building of the International Committee of the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution. The programmatic foundation of this struggle is derived from Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution—the sole comprehensive theory of world socialist revolution, embracing the activity of the proletariat in the advanced and backward countries, as well as in the USSR and the deformed workers’ states (i.e., China, Vietnam, Eastern Europe). The revolutionary internationalism that constitutes the foundation of the International Committee’s perspective proceeds from a scientific appreciation of the international nature of the capitalist mode of production, the world dimensions of the capitalist crisis, and, above all, the nature of the proletariat itself as an international class.
The objective unity of the international working class is being strengthened by profound economic processes. The massive development of transnational corporations and the resulting global integration of capitalist production have produced an unprecedented uniformity in the conditions confronting the workers of the world. The ferocious competition between national groups of capitalists for domination of the world market finds its brutal expression in a universal campaign by the ruling classes to intensify in their “own” countries the exploitation of the working class. The offensive of capital against labor is realized in country after country through mass unemployment, wage-cutting, speed-ups, unionbusting, slashing of social benefits, and intensified attacks on democratic rights.
It has long been an elementary proposition of Marxism that the class struggle is national only as to form, but that it is, in essence, an international struggle. However, given the new features of capitalist development, even the form of the class struggle must assume an international character. Even the most elemental struggles of the working class pose the necessity of coordinating its actions on an international scale. It is a basic fact of economic life that transnational corporations exploit the labor power of workers in several countries to produce a finished commodity, and that they distribute and shift production between their plants in different countries and on different continents in search of the highest rate of profit. For example, the component network utilized in the production of the European model of the Ford Escort includes carburetors, oil pumps, and cylinder bolts produced in Britain, seat pads produced in Belgium, hose clamps produced in Sweden, fan belts produced in Denmark, defroster grills manufactured in Italy, alternators produced in Japan, and EGR valves and wheel nuts produced in the United States. Thus, the unprecedented international mobility of capital has rendered all nationalist programs for the labor movement of different countries obsolete and reactionary. Such national programs are invariably based on the voluntary collaboration of the labor bureaucracies with “their” ruling classes in the systematic lowering of workers’ living standards to strengthen the position of “their” capitalist country in the world market.
Furthermore, the global character of capitalist production has tremendously sharpened the economic and political antagonisms between the principal imperialist powers, and has once again brought to the forefront the irreconcilable contradiction between the objective development of the world economy and the nation-state form in which the whole system of capitalist property is historically rooted. Precisely the international character of the proletariat, a class which owes no allegiance to any capitalist “fatherland,” makes it the sole social force that can liberate civilization from the strangulating fetters of the nation-state system.
For these fundamental reasons, no struggle against the ruling class in any country can produce enduring advances for the working class, let alone prepare its final emancipation, unless it is based on an international strategy aimed at the worldwide mobilization of the proletariat against the capitalist system. This necessary unification of the working class can only be achieved through the construction of a genuine international proletarian, i.e., revolutionary, party. Only one such party, the product of decades of unrelenting ideological and political struggle, exists. It is the Fourth International, founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938, and led today by the International Committee.