c/o PECI • 27 RUE TAINE • 75012 • FRANCE
Tel: (33/1) 49 28 54 88 • E-mail: Bureau@fourth.international
19 September 2022
We are writing in reply to your letter of 30 August.
On the status of Socialist Democracy: it was recognised as a sympathizing group at the World Congress of 2003. The statutes define this status as follows:
To recognise that in varying conditions there will be organisations which support the FI and are not yet able or ready to assume the responsibilities of sections, the World Congress, or its elected IC, can grant the formal status of sympathising organisation to such groups. Sympathising organisations publicise the positions and promote the press of the FI, support and participate in internal and external FI activities and make a regularised contribution to the FI.
Representatives of sympathising organisations will be invited to meetings of the IC and to the World Congress where they will be granted voice, and are entitled to cast consultative votes in cases where the criterion of formal financial contribution has been met. The goal of the formal status of sympathising organisation is to provide a bridge to the development of national sections in the countries concerned.
In line with this you receive all internal mailings, including convocations to the IC meetings (and World Congress) where you are given voice, and a consultative vote despite the lack of a regularized financial contribution.
The discussions with the international current MORE: these have been conducted by a delegation of the Bureau with a delegation from their current, exchanging opinions on general questions of analysis and strategy. The positions presented by our delegation have been those of the Fourth International as adopted by its different leading bodies. The goal has not been to arrive at political agreement on any particular question, there has been nothing to disclose.
In our opinion the best way to show before the whole International what is the level of general political agreement between our two currents and the common willingness to engage in political exchange is within the IC, inviting representatives of this current to attend and have the right to speak.
You mention other events that are not part of our programme of discussions with MORE.
The Kazakh solidarity statement and meeting were initiatives proposed by MORE. You responded the invitation to sign the statement and also to the invitation to co-sponsor - as explained at the time these were two different things and it was not assumed all signatories wished to be co-sponsors
The CADTM is an independent broad-based campaign, with ongoing relations with Paul Murphy and PbP.
Michael Löwy as well as being a member of the Fourth International is a well-known ecosocialist writer and activist, and as such is widely invited especially by those he collaborates with in that context, including John Molyneux. We are not kept aware of his agenda.
Concerning the international press you state: “The international press has carried a series of articles supporting a left government in Ireland from PbP sources.” In looking at the articles in International Viewpoint we note one interview with Paul Murphy in 2020. The majority of articles on Ireland are signed either by John McAnulty or Socialist Democracy.
Referring to the article by Thierry Labica (member of the NPA) the IVP editors indicated where they disagreed with your interpretation of it and proposed the publication of an article by you that did not return to an episode in the past but was more up to date. The article you then proposed was published and there was an agreement for a future article once the new British government has clarified its intentions in relation to the Brexit protocol.
The idea that “a series of links have grown up between the bureau and the parliamentary left in Ireland” and that “the consensus appears to favour a Sinn Féin ‘left’ coalition and to be shifting towards simply supporting any Sinn Féin government,” has no basis in reality.
The Bureau has taken no position on Ireland, it is not the practice of the International to take systematically a position on national politics in different countries. Any signed articles in the press are not the position of the International.
However, as apparently Socialist Democracy as a whole identifies with the position of the international minority it would not be surprising if there are differences with your positions on strategy for building the radical, anti-capitalist, revolutionary left in Ireland. Nevertheless we of course publish your positions, but we remind you that, in line with the statutes, sympathizing groups “publicise the positions” of the FI.
The Fourth International has made many balance sheets of different political experiences of its sections - summed up in the resolution adopted at the last World Congress. We have not however seen a balance sheet from Socialist Democracy or its fellow-thinkers in the International on the tactic of building “pure” revolutionary organisations.
Concerning the response of RISE to your request to open discussions with them, that is a matter for RISE itself.
Socialist Democracy’s public position on trans women is in contradiction with the position of the International. Already our practice for many years has been for the full acceptance of trans women in the women’s movement and women-only spaces, for example in practice at our youth camp. The resolution “The New Rise of the Women’s Movement” discussed between 2019 and 2021 and adopted at the 2021 IC meeting codifies this position.
The women’s seminar in 2021 had a session devoted to the development of our position on this question. Our position is based firmly on the Marxist understanding that biological sex and gender identity are two different things, and that biological sex does not determine characteristics (to consider that it does is a position usually described as “essentialist” and defended by radical, ie non-Marxist, feminists).
On the question of Ukraine the Fourth International has developed its position in public statements. These have stated clearly our opposition to Nato and call for it to be dissolved. However, the immediate question is that of the war against the Ukrainian people in which we take the position of support and solidarity for their resistance, armed or unarmed, in the forms they consider effective, while building our relations with the democratic socialist left that combines this with resistance to the Zelenskiy government and denunciation of its anti-worker legislation.
In its statement SD takes no position either opposing the Russian invasion or supporting the resistance of the Ukrainian people. However, the statement of the international minority of March 2022 stated:
“It is undeniable that today, a popular resistance is developing in Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Even in the predominantly Russian-speaking city of Berdiansk, demonstrators shout at Russian soldiers to ‘go home’. As Marxist-revolutionaries, we must express our full solidarity with this popular resistance.”
and among its slogans:
• No to the imperialist war
in Ukraine: immediate withdrawal of Russian troops!
• Solidarity with the anti-war demonstrations in Russia! Against their repression, let us demand the release of all imprisoned demonstrators!
Does Socialist Democracy agree with these positions?
The possibilities for discussion in our International have been restricted during the years of the pandemic by the impossibility of physical meetings. We hope this situation will now change although limits of cost and possible/necessary covid restrictions will continue. The IC decided in February to open the process of preparing the next world congress. This is the context in which discussion can develop.