Showing posts with label Karl Kautsky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karl Kautsky. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How David North Embraces Karl Kautsky 3 (1999)

From Spartacist Pamphlet: Imperialism, the “Global Economy” and Labor Reformism (September 1999)

How David North Embraces Karl Kautsky


The “Global Economy” and Labor Reformism
(Part 3)

The IMF and World Bank - Brutal Imperialist Debt Collectors

The view that “transnational” corporations transcend the nation-state system leads to the notion that certain international economic agencies, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have now become a kind of world capitalist government. In a 1992 speech IC leader David North contends:
Not even at the height of its glory did the British Empire possess even a fraction of the power over its colonial subjects that the modern institutions of world imperialism such as the World Bank, the IMF, GATT and the EC-routinely exercise over the supposedly independent states of Latin America,Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”
– Capital, Labor and the Nation-State
(1992)
The idea that the World Bank and IMF exercise greater power over the workers and peasants of India and Pakistan than did the British colonial army and police is pacifistic nonsense.

No less absurd is the idea that these institutions are powers unto themselves, independent of the imperialist nation-states. The IMF and World Bank act in the Third World (and now in the former Soviet bloc) as brutal debt collection agencies, using blackmail to force through the imposition of draconian austerity policies on the working masses and peasants of the semicolonial countries. But these international agencies act at the behest and in the interests of the major capitalist powers, not autonomously of them and certainly not above them.

The policies and, indeed, very existence of the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, European Union (formerly the European Community) et al. are based on compromises among rival imperialist bourgeoisies represented by their national capitalist states. Both the IMF and World Bank were conceived at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference and, as an article in Monthly Review (September 1995) noted, “ultimately reflected the interests of the world’s overwhelmingly dominant power at that time the United States.” But that has changed with the waning of U.S. imperialism’s hegemonic position.

For example, last year the U.S. proposed that the IMF and World Bank write off a large part of the money owed them by especially poor countries like Uganda. Washington officials argue that this is necessary to free up government funds for spending on infrastructure, for tax breaks to encourage new private investment, etc. However, Germany and Japan for months blocked the U.S. plan and succeeded in watering down any substantial debt reduction by the IMF/World Bank. As the growing conflicts between the major imperialist powers reach a certain point, institutions like the IMF and World Bank will be reduced to empty shells, stripped of their present financial resources and political influence. A glimpse of this came in 1995, when Tokyo and Berlin openly challenged Washington’s demand that $30 billion in IMF funds be used to bail out (U.S. banks in) Mexico.

“Ultra-Imperialism,” from Kautsky to North

The current authority exercised by the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization et al. derives from the power of the imperialist states for which they function as agents. Let us imagine that a left-nationalist government comes to power in Mexico and repudiates that country’s foreign debt. Will the IMF’s army invade Mexico and install a puppet regime? Will the IMF’s navy blockade Mexico’s ports? Will IMF agents confiscate the assets of the Mexican government held in other countries? No, since the IMF has no army, no navy and no agents empowered to confiscate any property anywhere. A Mexican government which repudiated its foreign debt would face economic sanctions and potential military action by the U.S. and other imperialist states.

Basically, the Northites have reinvented the doctrine of “ultra-imperialism” expounded by Karl Kautsky before and during World War I. The core of Kautsky’s theory, quoted by Lenin in his 1916 pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, went as follows:
“Cannot the present imperialist policy be supplanted by a new, ultra-imperialist policy, which will introduce the common exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital in place of the mutual rivalries of national finance capital? Such a phase of capitalism is at any rate conceivable.”
For the International Committee, such a new phase of capitalism is not merely conceivable but is now here. To be sure, North & Co. do not deny a tendency toward imperialist war. But they do so by counterposing “transnational” corporations to reactionary nation-states. Corporations like IBM, Siemens and Toshiba are supposedly striving for a transnational capitalist order but are obstructed by the bad, old, obsolete nation-state system. On the contrary, the root cause of imperialist wars does not lie in the nation-state system as such, much less in nationalist and chauvinist ideology and demagogy. The imperialist nation-state is the fundamental political instrument by which transnational corporations, to use the Northites’ favored term, struggle to expand their markets and spheres of exploitation.

As Lenin wrote in opposition to Kautsky’s theory of “ultraimperialism”:
“The only conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, interests, colonies, etc., is a calculation of the strength of those participating, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism....

“Therefore, in the realities of the capitalist system, and not in the banal philistine fantasies of English parsons, or of the German ‘Marxist’ Kautsky, ‘inter-imperialist’ or ‘ultra-imperialist’ alliances, no matter what form they may assume, whether of one imperialist coalition against another, or of a general alliance embracing all the imperialist powers, are inevitably nothing more than a ‘truce’ in periods between wars. Peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars.”
[emphasis in original]
Spelling out the reformist implications of Kautsky’s theory, Lenin added: “It is a most reactionary method of consoling the masses with hopes of permanent peace being possible under capitalism.” Not surprisingly, Kautsky was to be a vehement opponent of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat which was erected by it to replace the rule of capital.

No less inherently reformist and anti-revolutionary is the contemporary Northite version of “ultra-imperialism.” If, to believe North, the competition among different imperialist powers has been subsumed by supra-national agencies, then the traditional Marxist position in inter-imperialist conflicts – that the main enemy is at home – is clearly “outmoded.” When it comes to the national and colonial questions, as we will see, North & Co. rival the worst social-chauvinists of Lenin’s day.

The U.S. Imperialist State and the Exploitation of Mexico
The central role of the imperialist state in what is currently termed the “globalization” of world capitalism is especially clear in the case of Mexico, U.S. imperialism’s most important neocolony. One-fifth of all industrial plant and equipment owned by U.S. corporations in Third World countries is now located in Mexico. Over the past 15 years, the actions of the U.S. government have been crucial in promoting and protecting American investment in that country. Among other things; this has meant an increasingly open role by U.S. imperialism in aiding and arming the Mexican government’s bloody repression against combative worker and peasant struggles (see “U.S. Hands Off Mexico!” WV No. 658, 27 December 1996).

Following the frenzied over-borrowing during the oil-price boom of the 1970s, in 1982 the Mexican government announced that it could not meet the scheduled interest payment on its foreign debt. The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank immediately took over the “rescheduling” of Mexico's debts and those of other Latin American countries. This entailed the subsidization by the U.S government, via Mexico, of the major Wall Street banks. Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, an arch-“free marketeer,” wrote at the time:
In the past five years the commercial banks have received large net transfers from the debtor countries, while the official creditors, including the creditor governments and the multilateral institutions, have made large net transfers to the debtor. Operationally, it can be argued that the official creditors are indeed ‘bailing out the banks’.
– Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 4 (1986)
In the early and mid-1980s, American corporate investment in Mexico was effectively zero. In fact, the movement of capital across the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) was in the other direction. Wealthy Mexicans were smuggling out billions and parking their money in Wall Street banks, U.S. corporate stocks and bonds, and Texas and California real estate. The turnaround in the Mexican and, more generally, Latin,American debt crisis came with the 1989 Brady Plan, named after then U.S. treasury secretary Nicholas Brady. This plan transformed the short-term bank debt of Latin American countries into long-term bonds guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury. In return, Washington levered open the Latin American economies to unimpeded exploitation by U.S. finance and industrial capital.
__________________________________________________________________________
If, to believe North, the competition among different imperialist powers has been subsumed by supra-national agencies, then the traditional Marxist position in inter-imperialist conflicts – that the main enemy is at home – is clearly “outmoded.”
___________________________________________________________________________
The Brady Plan opened the way for a massive American investment boom in Mexico. U.S. banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and corporations which engaged in manufacturing and services assumed that any money they placed south of the border would be fully protected by the fiscal resources and, ultimately, the political/military might of the U.S. capitalist state. The increasing weight of American capital in Mexico laid the basis for and was, in turn, reinforced by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect on New Year’s Day 1994.

Among its other disastrous consequences, NAFTA meant the economic destruction of millions of Mexican peasant smallholders who could not compete with the much cheaper and better-quality produce, centrally corn, imported from the highly mechanized farms of the American Midwest. Thus, the day that NAFTA came into effect saw a major peasant uprising led by the nationalist-populist Zapatista Army of National Liberation in the impoverished southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The bloody suppression of this uprising by the Mexican army was actively aided by Washington. In the first months of 1994, the Pentagon provided the Mexican army with an additional 3,000 military vehicles, including armored personnel carriers with water cannon, jeeps, trucks and tanks. At the same time, hundreds of U.S. troops were sent to Guatemala in the region bordering Chiapas (see “Pentagon Beefs Up Mexican Repression,” WV No. 604, 5 August 1994).

The sudden and unexpected Zapatista uprising exposed the fragility of the bourgeois order in Mexico, not least to the ever-wary eyes of foreign investors. Furthermore, the Mexican investment boom had reached a point of speculative frenzy. Prices on the Bolsa (stock exchange) bore no relation to actual or prospective profits. The Mexican government could not service its massively expanded foreign debt without devaluing the peso, which it did in December 1994, thereby precipitating a full-fledged financial panic. By year’s end, foreign, mainly U.S., investors had liquidated and withdrawn $23 billion in Mexican assets, more than twice the total value of U.S. direct manufacturing investment in Mexico at the beginning of 1994.

The financial panic was halted only when the U.S. government came up with a $50 billion “rescue package” – $20 billion directly from the U.S. Treasury, the balance from the IMF and the Bank for International Settlements (known as the central bankers’ central bank). Mexican finance minister Guillermo Ortiz later told American journalist Thomas Friedman that if Washington had not acted when and on the scale it did, “We would have had to declare a moratorium on debt repayments.” German and Japanese capitalists were displeased, to say the least, that no small amount of their money was being used to bail out U.S. banks, mutual funds and insurance companies. The German (and also the British) representative in the IMF took the unprecedented step of abstaining on the vote for the Mexican loan package, while Japan only grudgingly voted in favor. And the next time around, the German and Japanese representatives might vote against.

The Mexican financial crisis totally disproves the Northite theory of a new era of globally integrated capitalist production transcending the nation-state system. At the first sign of political unrest and financial overextension, American “transnationals” dumped every Mexican asset they could and repatriated their money back to their own nation-state, the U.S. of A. The flood of pesos into dollars was stanched only when the U.S. government, acting both directly and indirectly, vastly augmented the short-term financial resources available to the Mexican government. And the Mexican financial crisis both exposed and intensified the conflicts of interest among the major imperialist powers: the U.S., Germany and Japan.

Against Capitalist Imperialism For Permanent Revolution!

From its inception, capitalism has been a global system marked by conflicts among competing nation-states. The rise of the bourgeoisies in West Europe to wealth and power was directly linked to the conquest and colonization of more backward regions of the worldthe Spaniards and Portuguese in Central and South America, the French in North America and the Caribbean, the British in North America, the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. A central characteristic of mercantile imperialism in the 16th-18th centuries was the attempt by the leading colonial powers to insulate their colonies and themselves from the world market by legal prohibitions and sanctions against trade other than between colony and “mother country.”

Economic development during the era of mercantile capitalism laid the basis for the industrial revolution pioneered by Britain in the early 19th century. Marx and Engels initially believed that industrial capitalism would be extended more or less uniformly on a worldwide basis. The founders of scientific socialism were by no means blind or indifferent to the monumental crimes committed by the Western powers against the indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa and the Americas. But they viewed such crimes as a historical overhead cost for the modernization of these backward regions. In an 1853 article, “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” Marx wrote:
“England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating-the annihilation of the old Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundations of Western society in Asia....
“Modern industry, resulting from the railway system, will dissolve the hereditary division of labor, upon which rest theIndian castes, those decisive impediments to Indian progress and Indian power.”
This projection was not borne out by the actual course of development. While the Western bourgeoisies introduced certain elements of modem industrial technology (e.g., railroads) into their colonies and semi-colonies, the overall effect of capitalist imperialism was to arrest the social and economic development of backward countries. Thus, British colonial rule deliberately perpetuated and utilized traditional reactionary institutions such as the caste system in India and tribalism in sub-Saharan Africa.

Moreover, the economic development which was introduced under European colonial rule had a deformed character. Thus, the British built the railways in India only from the hinterland to the ports to facilitate trade with the imperialist metropolis. The rail lines did not connect the different regions of the Indian subcontinent. By contrast, railway construction in the United States during the same period was a prime factor in the economic and social integration of the American nation-state.

By the late 19th century, Marx and Engels had become champions of colonial independence and recognized that the modernization of Asia, Africa and Latin America could take place only within the context of a world socialist order. Thus, Engels wrote to Karl Kautsky in 1882:
“India will perhaps, indeed very probably, make a revolution and as a proletariat in process of self-emancipation cannot conduct any colonial wars, it would have to be allowed to run its course; it would not pass off without all sorts of destruction, of course, but that sort of thing is inseparable from all revolutions. The same might also take place elsewhere, e.g., in Algeria and Egypt, and would certainly be the best thing for us. We shall have enough to do at home. Once Europe is reorganized, and North America, that will furnish such colossal power and such an example that the semi-civilized countries will of themselves follow in their wake; economic needs, if anything, will see to that. But as to what social and political phases these countries will then have to pass through before they likewise arrive at socialist organization, I think we today can advance only rather idle hypotheses.” [emphasis in original]
In the 1880s, at the beginning of the era of modern capitalist imperialism, it was understandable that Marx and Engels assumed that proletarian socialist revolution would first take place in the advanced capitalist countries and that the socialist transformation of the more backward regions would gradually follow in consequence. However, imperialist domination and exploitation strengthened the bourgeois order in West Europe and North America, not least by infecting the working class in these countries with the ideology of national chauvinism and racism. As Lenin pointed out in his 1916 pamphlet, imperialist super-profits derived from the colonial world made it “economically possible to bribe the upper strata of the proletariat” in the advanced countries, providing a material basis for opportunism and social-chauvinism.

At the same time, imperialism tended to destabilize the traditional social order in backward countries, generating contradictions which Trotsky termed “combined and uneven development.” A sizable industrial proletariat, working with modern technology, emerged alongside the mass of impoverished peasants still subject to feudal-derived forms of exploitation. The day-to-day struggle against capitalist any pre-capitalist forms of exploitation was organically intertwined with, and reinforced by, the struggle for national independence.

Recognizing the international contradictions brought about by the era of modem imperialism, Leon Trotsky challenged the hitherto accepted sequencing of the world socialist revolution from the advanced to the backward countries. It was now possible that the proletariat of a backward country, leading the peasant masses in the struggle against feudal-derived exploitation and foreign imperialist domination, could come to power in advance of the workers of West Europe and North America. Such revolutions would severely weaken the bourgeois order in the imperialist centers while giving a powerful impetus to the revolutionary consciousness of the workers in the advanced capitalist countries.

Trotsky first developed this concept of “permanent revolution” at the beginning of the century specifically with regard to tsarist Russia, and it was validated by life itself in the Bolshevik October Revolution of 1917. In the late 1920s, in light of the experience of the defeated Chinese Revolution of 1925-27, Trotsky generalized the theory and program of permanent revolution to what is now called the Third World. Thus the section on “Backward Countries and the Program of Transitional Demands” in the 1938 Transitional Program states:
“The central tasks of the colonial and semicolonial countries are the agrarian revolution, i.e., liquidation of feudal heritages, and national independence, i.e., the overthrow of the imperialist yoke. Both tasks are closely linked with each other....
“The general trend of revolutionary development in all backward countries can be determined by the formula of the permanent revolution in the sense definitely imparted to it by the three revolutions in Russia (1905, February 1917, October 1917).” [emphasis in original]
David North vs. Permanent Revolution

As clearly stated in the Transitional Program, Trotsky and the Fourth International he founded regarded the struggle for national independence in backward countries as an integral and important component of the world socialist revolution. The Northites now maintain that in the supposedly new era of “globalized” capitalist production, national independence has become impossible and, indeed, reactionary. In a 1992 lecture, “Permanent Revolution and the National Question Today,” North pontificated:
To the extent that Marxists attributed a progressive content to national liberation movements, it was because they were in some way identified with overcoming of imperialist domination and the legacy of backwardness, tribal and caste distinctions....
“That content is hardly to be found in any of the movements which presently claim to champion ‘national liberation.’ At any rate, whatever the subjective aims of different movements, the liberation of mankind cannot be advanced in this era of global economic integration by establishing new national states.
Fourth International (Winter-Spring 1994)
We have previously discussed at some length the Northites’ opposition to the democratic right of national self-determination (see “David North ‘Abolishes’ the Right to Self-DeterminationWV Nos. 626 and 627, 28 July and 25 August 1995). What we want to emphasize here is that their position amounts to passive acceptance of imperialist oppression and exploitation of backward countries.

This can be seen very clearly in the case of Mexico. NAFTA represents a qualitative extension and institutionalization of the exploitation of Mexico by Wall Street. When NAFTA was first proposed in 1991, the Mexican, U.S. and Canadian sections of the International Communist League issued a joint declaration headlined, “Stop U.S. 'Free Trade' Rape of Mexico!” The fight against NAFTA, we maintained, “is a battle against American imperialist domination of Mexico” (WV No. 530, 5 July 1991).

What of the Northites’ attitude toward NAFTA? From a superficial reading of their press, one might assume they are implacably hostile to it. In their International Workers Bulletin (11 April 1994), they stated, quite accurately, that NAFTA “effectively puts the entire Mexican economy at the service of the needs of US transnationals and the Wall Street financial institutions, providing low-wage labor, inexpensive natural resources and vast tracts of land for them to exploit and a huge market for American manufactured goods.” Some months later, they wrote that “NAFTA means nothing more than the economic recolonization of Mexico” (IWB, 16 January 1995). This is actually an overstatement, since Mexico had already been an economic neocolony of U.S. imperialism for decades before NAFTA.

Yet the Northites have never opposed what they themselves call the “economic recolonization” of Mexico, either before NAFTA was implemented or even when its bloody consequences could be seen in the corpses of hundreds of impoverished Indian peasants in Chiapas. A few months before NAFTA came into effect, a political line statement in IWB (20 September 1993) declared: “American workers must not line up behind either side in the capitalist debate over NAFTA,, but must adopt an independent class standpoint which is based on the genuine, i.e., international, interests of the working class.”

What the Northites meant by “an independent class standpoint” was “neutrality” toward the intensified exploitation and domination of Mexico by U.S. imperialism. In fact, there was no debate within the American capitalist class, aside from a few maverick bourgeois pseudo-populists like Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan who opposed NAFTA from a chauvinist standpoint, as did the AFL-CIO bureaucracy. The large majority of the American imperialist bourgeoisie supported and still supports NAFTA wholeheartedly. More fundamentally, the Northites treat imperialist subjugation of backward countries as simply a matter of “debate” within the capitalist class. By this logic they should in retrospect not have opposed the Vietnam War, since this generated a real debate – indeed, a sharp division – within the U.S. ruling class. In short, North & Co. did not and do not support the actual struggles of the Mexican working people against NAFTA and its effects.

One has only to look at the Northites’ attitude toward the Chiapas peasant uprising of early 1994. This unexpected leftist-led revolt gripped the world’s attention. But not the Northites’. The self-described “weekly socialist newsjournal” of the American Northites ran one article on the Chiapas uprising during the period when it was convulsing Mexico and causing no small concern to U.S. “transnational” corporations and banks. This article, “Mexican Government Massacres Hundreds” (IWB, 10 January 1994), was simply a piece of descriptive journalism which raised no programmatic demands whatsoever. The Northites did not call for the defense of the peasant uprising against the Mexican neocolonial bourgeois state. They did not call for the withdrawal of the Mexican army from Chiapas. They did not call for the release of Zapatista militants and peasant supporters imprisoned and often tortured by the Mexican army and police. They did not call for a halt to U.S. arms shipments and other aid to the Mexican military. And, of course, they did not call for the abrogation of NAFTA, one of the key demands of the uprising.

In sharpest contrast, our international tendency actively mobilized in defense of the Chiapas uprising from a proletarian socialist standpoint. In the U.S., the Spartacist League joined in solidarity rallies outside the Mexican consulates in New York City and San Francisco. Our comrades of the Grupo Espartaquista de Mexico (GEM) participated in a mammoth anti-government protest in Mexico City. A statement issued by the GEM, and published in the Mexico City daily El Dia, declared:
As a Marxist revolutionary organization, the GEM emphasizes to those who seek to fight against capitalism and imperialism, that it is the power of the working class, and not rural guerrilla warfare, which if organized behind the program of international socialist revolution can defeat NAFTA and mobilize the dispossessed peasants and all the oppressed against the misery andbarbarity of the capitalist system. In the face of repression in Chiapas, it is an urgent duty for the working class to defend thecourageous Indian insurgents and all the victims of bourgeois repression.
–translated in WV No. 592 (21 January 1994)
The very different responses of the ICL and North’s IC toward the Chiapas uprising reflected our adherence and their opposition to the perspective of permanent revolution. By the beginning of the 20th century, tsarist Russia had become the weak link in the European imperialist system. In a parallel way, Mexico has now become the weak link in the American imperialist order in its Western hemispheric base.

For World Socialist Revolution - Reforge Trotsky’s Fourth International!


The massive inroads of American capital – at all levels – have fatally undermined the nationalist-corporatist economic structure upon which the political hegemony of the long-ruling Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has rested. A popular upheaval in Mexico, toppling the neocolonial PRI regime, would have a powerful radicalizing effect on the millions of Hispanic workers in the U.S., many of whom retain strong family ties to Mexico or Central America. As we stated in “Mexico and Permanent Revolution,” published in the first issue of Espartaco (Winter 1990-91), journal of the GEM:
The Mexican workers revolution will succeed where the bourgeois revolutions failed, because it will and must be internationalist from the beginning. It must come to the aid of theheroically struggling working people of Central America andextend to the north, in common struggle with the workers andoppressed in the very entrails of the imperialist monster.... This is the goal toward which the Grupo Espartaquista de Mexico is working as part of the International Communist League in the fight to reforge the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution.
– WV No. 518 (18 January 1991)
Whereas we recognize that the Mexican proletariat, leading the rural toilers and urban poor, could strike the first decisive blow against American capitalist imperialism, the Northites maintain that Mexican workers are powerless to move forward unless and until a socialist revolution is on the order of the day in the United States. In a sense, North & Co. have recreated and adopted the Stalinist caricature of Trotskyism, that international socialist revolution means simultaneous revolutions in all major capitalist countries, both advanced and backward. At the time of the Mexican financial crisis in early 1995, the IWB (16 January 1995) wrote: “The events in Mexico demonstrate once again that the only way forward for the working class in the oppressed countries is to unite with their class brothers and sisters in the imperialist centers in a common struggle for the overthrow of capitalist exploitation and the establishment of socialism.” But what do the Northites tell the Mexican workers to do until the mass of workers in the U.S. move to overthrow the capitalist system? The answer is effectively nothing.

By counterposing an abstract conception of socialist internationalism to the actual struggles of the workers, rural toilers and oppressed peoples, the Northite tendency inexorably puts forward a defeatist line toward those struggles. In practice, the Northites oppose socialist revolution both in the U.S. and Mexico, as elsewhere.

Five years ago, as he announced the death of the Soviet Union and of the trade unions in the West, David North effectively proclaimed himself and his IC to be the leadership of the international proletariat. Yet while declaring themselves to be "clearly recognized as the only Trotskyist tendency," the Northites have transformed themselves into "Socialist Equality" parties whose program even at face value is profoundly reformist. Thus, a central aspect of the U.S. SEP’s election platform last November was the stale, old reformist proposal to promote greater equality by “revising” the bourgeoisie’s tax codes. At the same time, the SEP demonstrated its sneering approach to any struggle for social equality by highlighting its opposition to affirmative action programs for minorities and women.

Indeed, while the Northites’ open rejection of the right to self-determination may be a new innovation, getting there was not a very big step. They have long dismissed racial and other forms of oppression born of capitalism as somehow irrelevant to the “class struggle” – by which they meant the pursuit of a crude workerist adaptation to the Cold War labor bureaucrats. Their call on the AFL-CIO tops to form a "labor party" in the early 1970s – raised at the height of the Vietnam antiwar protests and militant struggles for black freedom – took up neither opposition to the imperialist war nor the fight for black liberation.


As we concluded in our article on the IC’s denial of the right of national self-determination (WV No, 627, 25 August 1995):
The ICFI’s ‘theories’ are nothing but cowardly rationalizations for sneering at the struggle against chauvinist oppression, and for writing off the economic defense organizations of the working class, in order to boost their own petty advantage. The Northites’ policies are those of poseurs seeking a niche as spoilers. Otherwise, they are utterly devoid of, and antithetical to, a program which can lead the international working class and oppressed to a socialist victory over their exploiters.”