2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency

The World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency met in Barcelona at the end of July. The 350 delegates and visitors could feel that after decades of preparation, of defending the ideas of Marxism against the attacks of the bourgeois, the reformists and revisionists, these are now being vindicated by events. The affiliation of four new sections from Brazil, Iran, El Salvador and Switzerland added to this feeling.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist TendencyThe World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency met in Barcelona at the end of July. It is difficult to convey the sense of momentum present in every session of the congress. This was not just another meeting of left activists searching for answers. All of the 350 delegates and visitors could feel that after years of preparation, after decades of defending the ideas of Marxism against the attacks of the bourgeois, the reformists, revisionists and sectarians, these are now being vindicated by events. All other previous gatherings of the IMT felt like preparations for this World Congress, a congress that lays the groundwork for the advance of Marxism internationally.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Liliana Bautista of Militante in Mexico

Revolutionaries from 27 different countries attended. And as we can see, the biggest advance came from the Americas. Back in 1992, during the re-founding of the International, Mexico was the only group present from North or South America. Now, in addition to the strong Mexican section which played an important role in the fight against the 2006 electoral fraud, delegates, representatives and observers were present from Canada, USA, Cuba, El Salvador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil, nine countries in all from North and South America. Representatives from Honduras, Guatemala, and Peru could not attend, but sent greetings.

Once again due to visa problems, comrades from Morocco and Nigeria were unable to be present, but they sent messages of solidarity to the congress. There were also important delegations from Iran and Pakistan. Attempts were made to have an official observer from the Indonesian PRP delegation attending the congress, but as in the cases of Morocco and Nigeria they could not get visas and sent their greetings to the congress.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Lal Khan of The Struggle
in Pakistan

Most European countries were represented, with Eastern Europe an area of significant growth. Young activists from Poland, Russia, Slovakia and the former Yugoslavia (Serbia) resolved to link up and re-forge the tradition of genuine Marxism in Eastern Europe. This comes at a time when the working class in these countries is beginning to lift its head after the defeats of the past. There is a new young East European working class that has moved beyond the degeneration of Stalinism and is looking for a way out.

Other countries represented were Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, as well as an official representative of the left-wing Irish Republican movement éirígí who are keen to build international links. This year the IRSP was unable to send a delegation.

This made a total of 16 European countries represented at the congress, and an overall total of 27 countries from various parts of the world. Apart from the countries already listed, comrades from Australia, New Zealand, India, and the Ukraine were also unable to attend.

Pakistan, the largest section of the IMT, was woefully under-represented, again due to severe visa problems. Despite this, the leading Pakistani Marxist Lal Khan was able to report on the crisis in the Pakistani State and the role the Marxist Tendency is having in the class struggle of that country. The 2008 World Congress was the largest and most representative meeting of the International Marxist Tendency since its founding.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Alan Woods on World Perspectives

The opening session of the congress was on World Perspectives with Alan Woods leading off. We will publish a separate report on that discussion later, but what emerged clearly from the discussion is that from Venezuela to Pakistan, from Mexico and Brazil to Italy and Spain, Marxists are beginning to play a role in the politics of their countries. The congress discussed the situation in these and other countries in detail; but the discussions were sharpened by the fact that those present were not sitting on the sidelines as commentators, but actual participants in the frontline of the class struggle. What emerged from the discussion is that in every country we now are facing a similar situation, the same attacks on the working class but also a growing radicalisation within the workers' and youth movement. It is no longer a question of this or that movement in one or two countries, but a world movement that we see unfolding before us.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Banner with Bolivian miner

The ideas and decisions of the congress were empowered by the understanding that they would be put to the test in the mass workers' movement and that, in the last analysis, these ideas would make the difference between defeat and victory.

Among the many very good interventions in the world perspectives discussion was that of Pepe from Bolivia. Commenting on how close the Bolivian workers have been to taking power, "The Bolivian proletariat is sending the world a message: if you have an opportunity and don't take advantage of it, you can regret it for the rest of your life." The congress was very enthused to hear of the developments in Bolivia and the activities of El Militante in the country. Pepe concluded by pointing to the banner behind the stage which featured a picture of an indigenous Bolivian miner, "Soon we will have miners like this, who face death every day, at our congresses. They will shout "JALLALLA! [ha-ya-ya, long live], JALLALLA a socialist America! JALLALLA revolution! JALLALLA the IMT!" which was met with a thunderous applause.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Comrade Geovanni Peña, Member of the National Assembly for Barinas, Venezuela

At one point during the discussion, Alan Woods interrupted the proceedings to announce the arrival of a special guest. During the Reformism or Revolution Venezuelan speaking tour, some of the most enthusiastic meetings were held in Chavez's home state of Barinas. One of the people who helped organise these meetings was the Member of the National Assembly for the area, although he prefers to just be known as comrade Geovanni Peña. Comrade Peña greeted the congress and made a brief intervention in which he explained that "we need to deepen our use of Marxism", adding that the people in Venezuela voted for socialism in the last election. The presence of comrade Peña, together with the biggest ever delegation of comrades from Venezuela (including workers from the occupied factories, young comrades involved in the setting up of the PSUV youth, members of the PSUV regional leadership, etc) confirmed the growing influence of the Revolutionary Marxist Current in this key country for the world revolution.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency

The following days of the congress were spent on more in-depth discussions on specific countries: Pakistan, Venezuela, Italy, Spain and Brazil. The prominent Pakistani Marxist Lal Khan led off on recent events in that country. This was followed by a discussion on the work of the Venezuelan section and the passing of a resolution in support of the nationalization of the Banco de Venezuela. There were commissions on Italy, Spain and Brazil. The Italian Marxists arrived at the congress after a strenuous two-month period in which they covered around 1500 local branch congresses of the PRC. Although still a small tendency numerically they played a key role in defeating the right wing faction of Bertinotti/Vendola. They also gained support in many new areas, and significantly among workers in the party.

In the course of the congress several more resolutions were passed. One called for the support of the Cuban Five heroes and another called for the defeat of the oligarchy in the Bolivian recall referendum. An evening commission on Iran was also organized for the delegates.

There was also a general organizational report on the development of the IMT around the world, and an important session on finance. We will provide a summary of the report later, but the picture that was outlined was one of the International Marxist Tendency making big steps forward in the recent period, both in terms of the numerical growth of the individual sections, their growing influence within the labour movement in several key countries, and the coming towards the tendency of new groups.

The affiliation of the Brazilian Esquerda Marxista group

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Serge Goulart of Esquerda Marxista
in Brasil

The intervention of Serge Goulart of the Brazilian Esquerda Marxista group was one of the high points in the discussion. The Brazilian comrades play a leading role in the occupied factories movement and it is indicative of the mood that many other workers said they would adopt the same tactics if their factory was closed by the boss. He went on to explain that Lula is attempting to strangle the Latin American revolution. Lula's position that the world crisis will not reach Brazil is akin to saying he can build capitalism in one country! Serge concluded by saying that in this period of world financial crisis, and after the collapse of Stalinism, that he looks to the advances of the IMT in Pakistan and internationally. "We know we have found our people here in the IMT!"

The feeling was clearly mutual among the comrades present. Later in the week the Esquerda Marxista group was ratified as the section of the IMT in Brazil and it is clear that the comrades will not be on the sidelines in the International. The Brazilian section brings with it a significant number of experienced cadres with activity in the occupied factories movement, the Black Socialist movement and the youth movement. In some ways it was reminiscent of Trotsky's return to the Bolsheviks in 1917. Raskolnikov recalled that "From his first public speech all of us old Leninists felt that [Trotsky] was ours." During this congress, many experienced activists in the IMT felt the same way about Esquerda Marxista.

The vote on the affiliation of Esquerda Marxista was unanimous and once the result was officially announced that "we now have a Brazilian section", the Brazilian delegation was called to the platform as all the delegates and visitors rose to their feet in rapturous applause and cheering. It is difficult to render the mood of the congress in that moment, but emotions overflowed as the comrades on the platform embraced the Brazilian comrades and raise their fists high. Serge Goulart and the other comrades from Brazil shouted, "Long live socialism and revolution! Long live the international proletariat! Venceremos!"

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Affiliation of the Brazilian group Esquerda Marxista

The Brazilian comrades had made a very big financial effort to get eight comrades to the congress. As they explained, the fusion of the Esquerda Marxista group with the IMT was of extreme importance to them, and all their comrades back home were eagerly awaiting the report on the official fusion of the two organizations.

The affiliation of Esquerda Marxista enormously strengthens the IMT in Latin America. Not only do these comrades lead the Occupied Factories Movement in Brazil, they are also the promoters of the Black Socialist Movement, they have a significant number of important trade union leaders, a revolutionary youth group, and an important presence in the PT. In fact among their members are some of the founders of the PT. They go back many years and have important links with revolutionary activists in many other Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and others. They also had a group of supporters in Venezuela who has already fused with the CMR, the Venezuelan section of the IMT. Through their work in the Black Socialist Movement they have also made important contact with activists from several African countries as well. Esquerda Marxista is destined to play an important role in the building and development of the IMT in Latin America and beyond.

Growth of the IMT

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Affiliation of the Swiss group Der Funke

The highlight of the second half of the congress was in fact the discussion on the growth of the sections of the IMT around the world and the application of four new sections to the International, Brazil being the first. The next new section to be voted on was from Switzerland. The delegates were told to watch out for the young workers and students of the new Swiss section as they may surprise us all with their growth, their activity and their militancy.

Another very important group applied for full section status in the IMT. The Iranian Revolutionary Socialist League, which has comrades both in exile and within the Islamic Republic, was approved with much enthusiasm and with an understanding that the comrades are facing huge tasks with the cracks appearing in the regime. The International resolved to give the comrades every aid possible to defend the Iranian working class against repression and spread the ideas of Marxism in Iran.

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Affiliation of the Iranian Revolutionary Socialist League

The final group applying for affiliation was the BPJ (Peoples' Youth Block) of El Salvador. These comrades are members of the FMLN and have been facing a concerted attack by the forces of the State, including arrests and even disappearances. It is a testament to the power of Marxist ideas that the forces of reaction recognize that the sections of the IMT represent a true threat to their rule and they act accordingly. Similarly, the best sections of the workers' movement are attracted to the IMT as the international that unites genuine revolutionaries who are moving forward in struggle.

The delegates were warned that this was not the end of the swelling of the ranks of the IMT. In the coming months and years we expect a number of different groups to apply to join the International. At the top of the list are Poland, Morocco and Bolivia who already exist as groups, but not as official sections. They are all preparing congresses in the coming period where they will formalize their position and request affiliation. But there are many other groups in a variety of countries looking to join the IMT.

Record Collection

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Fred Weston

An appeal for finances and human resources was made during the congress in order to conduct the visits necessary to build the International in every country which has revolutionaries looking for the ideas of the IMT. Many comrades commented that they actually look forward to the collection. Fred Weston made the appeal and ran the collection adding points of humour to what is also a very serious part of the congress. In line with the general development of the IMT this year's congress collection raised a record sum of just over €38,400. The Brazilian comrades commented that this hugely successful collection reflected the real, genuine enthusiasm of all the comrades towards the International.

After six long days of discussion the congress drew to a close. Alan Woods again addressed the delegates to conclude the proceedings. "This was an extraordinary congress," Alan began, "This gives us confidence, confidence in the power of ideas. We say to the youth - you must study the ideas of Marxism. There was something different about this congress, a feeling that the International is moving forward. All other tendencies are in depression - the bourgeois and the imperialists, the reformists and Stalinists, every last sect. Comrades, the road is open to us. Four new sections were received into the International - these are great victories. The Swiss comrades will surprise all of us, they are enthusiastic young workers. We also have the marvellous Polish group. Patient work of years and decades is paying off. We stand on the shoulders of giants, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly, and comrade Ted Grant who is no longer with us. But it is his ideas and methods that are present in everything we do."

2008 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency
Singing of The Internationale

Alan concluded with the final dying words of Leon Trotsky, "I am convinced of the victory of the 4th International. Go forward!" The whole congress then rose to give a thunderous rendition of the Internationale in many different languages, followed by spontaneous singing of the Italian Bandiera Rossa. All the comrades who attended the congress returned to their countries with one idea, to build the Marxist Tendency and provide the labour movement with the ideas, methods and tactics necessary to build mass revolutionary parties in all countries and prepare the ground for bringing this rotten capitalist system to an end once and for all and usher in a new epoch for humanity.

[Note: We will provide more detailed reports on particular aspects of the congress in the coming period]

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