International Marxist Tendency

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The International Marxist Tendency (IMT) is an international socialist organisation based on the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky.[1] The late Ted Grant was its chief theoretician and one of the principle founders of the organisation since its beginning, alongside Alan Woods[2][3] and Lal Khan who are its best known current leaders and theoreticians. It was founded as the Committee for a Marxist International,[4] but has referred to itself as the International Marxist Tendency since 2006.[5] The Tendency is active in over 30 countries worldwide.[6]

Origin

The Militant logo. The origins of the International Marxist Tendency lie in the Militant Tendency, active in Britain from the 1960s.

The Militant tendency was an entrist group within the British Labour Party based around the Militant newspaper that was first published in 1964. Starting from humble beginnings, in grew rapidly in size in the late 1970s and early 1980s to become a sizeable force in British politics. This caused it to become a concern for the Labour Party leaders, and in 1983, the five members of the 'Editorial Board' of the Militant newspaper were expelled from the Party. In 1986, the journalist Michael Crick argued that the Militant was effectively Britain's fifth biggest party (after Labour, Conservative, Liberal and the SDP) in the early to mid 1980s.[7] In 1974, Militant and its co-thinkers from Sweden, Ireland and elsewhere around the world formed the Committee for a Workers' International.

Ted Grant was a long time leader of the Militant tendency in the British Labour Party until it split in early 1992 over a number of issues, primarily whether to try to continue working in the Labour Party. The majority formed Militant Labour outside the Labour Party, which subsequently became the Socialist Party. Grant argued that leaving Labour would amount to throwing away many decades of patient work and maintained that Marxists should remain within the party. However, he and his supporters were expelled from the tendency and together with Alan Woods they formed Socialist Appeal in Britain.[8] [9][10]

The faction fight within the Militant tendency that led to the expulsion of Grant and Woods also played itself out within the CWI with supporters of the Grant minority leaving to form the Committee for a Marxist International in other countries than Britain, which later became known as the "International Marxist Tendency". Since its World Congress in 2006, the organisation was renamed the "International Marxist Tendency" (IMT).[11] The IMT claims sections in many countries world wide with its biggest sections being The Struggle in Pakistan, Esquerda Marxista in Brazil, FalceMartello in Italy, and Socialist Appeal in Britain.

Woods became editor of the journal Socialist Appeal and of the IMT website, In Defence of Marxism (Marxist.com).[12]

Theory and Tactics

The International Marxist Tendency adheres to orthodox Trotskyism, emphasising the education of cadres of workers and youth.[13] One can recognize a strong emphasis on the following issues in their theory:

  • The constitutionally "Socialist" states born after the Second World War (for example, those in the Eastern Bloc) are categorised by Grant as "deformed workers' states", or "proletarian Bonapartist" regimes. Thus he denies a qualitative difference between Stalin's USSR and such countries. In particular, Ted Grant deepened Trotsky's theory on "proletarian Bonapartism": he foresaw the likelihood, in the 1945–1991 world situation, of the establishment of new bureaucratised "workers' states" in backward countries, also on the basis of left-wing military coups and peasant guerrilla wars. According to this premise, variants between such regimes have a minor importance and the clashes counterposing their leaderships are just instrumental in supporting the interests of conflicting bureaucracies.
  • Differently from most Trotskyist groups, The IMT believes that countries such as Burma and Syria, though their leaders were not delivering Marxist–Leninist speeches, were to be included in that same category when they had a planned economy. For all these countries, the IMT supports a classic Trotskyist demand: a workers' "political revolution" aimed at restoring or establishing "workers' democracy" while preserving economic planning. This demand was raised by the workers' wing of the Hungarian revolutionaries in 1956.
  • The Tendency developed an original concept of entrism which was described as being a different concept than the classic entryism and also an opposing vision to Michel Pablo's "deep entrism" or "entrism sui generis". Marxists should work "inside, outside and around the mass organisations" for "workers begin to move through their own traditional mass organisations" and therefore "outside the workers' movement, there's nothing". This stance resulted in the Grantist groups on a world scale leaving the Fourth International after 1965, since the IMT considered other Fourth Internationalists as having degenerated into sects under the influence of non-Marxist ideas such as guerrillaism, left-wing nationalism, studentism, or third-worldism.
  • The IMT manifesto makes demands such as "the end to privatisation and the abandonment of market economics", "the rationalisation for privatised companies without compensation" and "the reintroduction of the state monopoly of foreign trade".[14]

Activity

Leading theoretician of the International Marxist Tendency Alan Woods, in a meeting with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.
The banner of the International Marxist Tendency

Just as the Committee for a Worker's International pursued a policy of working in the traditional mass organisations up until the early 1990s, IMT groups across the world pursue this method in their respective Labour Parties (where they exist), some Communist Parties such as those in France and Italy and, in some countries, mass parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party. This work, however, is typically combined with independent work outside these parties and with a strong observance of not liquidating the organisation inside these parties. The IMT's section in the United States does not pursue this policy, instead supporting a campaign for a trade union-backed Labour Party.

The IMT has spread to parts of Latin America, where it now has groups in Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil and El Salvador. At the end of 2002 it promoted the launching of the solidarity campaign at Hands Off Venezuela, which is now active in 30 countries and has had resolutions passed within the trade union movements in Britain, Canada, Italy and other countries. IMT activists also play an important role in FRETECO (Front of Factories Under Workers' Control) movement in Brazil and Venezuela.[15][16] They have been very active in Venezuela, where their section supports the popular revolution and spread the ideas of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky.[17] In 2010 Ramon Muchacho, leader of the main Venzualean opposition party Primero Justicia, claimed that Alan Woods of the IMT was the "principal ideological adviser and personal friend" of Hugo Chávez, a claim played down by Alan Woods.[12]

Every year all the sections of tendency take part in a large event that is either a World Congress or a World School of Marxism. The function of the congress is to discuss the progress of IMT in the world, present reports and plan the future activities, whilst the World School is aimed mainly to deepen the knowledge of Marxist theory, history of workers' movement and the actual situation of the struggle for world socialism.[18]

In the first days of March 2009 the International Marxist Tendency organised a Marxist School in Mexico, where revolutionaries from all over North, South and Central America gathered in order to discuss the work done in each country, as well as Marxist ideas and perspectives for the movement.[19] Notably present at one of the Meetings was Esteban Volkov, Grandson of Trotsky who described Alan Woods as one of Trotsky's best followers. Also in this event, a new theoretical magazine was launched, called America Socialista, which is now published in Spanish, but will eventually come out in Portuguese, English and French.[19]

2009–2010 Splits

In late 2009 a dispute developed between the IMT leadership and the leaderships of its sections in Spain, Venezuela and Mexico. In January 2010, these organisations, together with the group in Colombia and part of the section in Mexico, broke with the IMT and established a new international body, the Corriente Marxista Revolucionaria, the same name as the former IMT section in Venezuela.[4][20] Minorities in Venezuela and Spain choose to remain with the IMT and set up new sections.[21][22] The new IMT Venezuelan section launched their newspaper, Lucha de Clases, in April 2010.[23]


A few months later, the IMT suffered a new split. The majority of the Swedish section, factions in Poland and Britain and individuals from several other sections left the IMT to form a new group called Towards a New International Tendency (TANIT).[24] The Iranian section of the IMT also split away over the international's position on Venezuela's friendly relations with the Iranian regime and in 2011 launched Marxist Revival[25] with co-thinkers in Britain.

Website and Publications

Logo of the In Defence Of Marxism website.

In Defence of Marxism is the website of the International Marxist Tendency, marxist.com. The site is multilingual, and publishes international current affairs articles written from a Marxist perspective, as well as a large number of historical and theoretical articles. In addition to the IMT website, each national section has its own website in that country's respective language(s). There is also a quantity of audio and video material on the site. In Defence of Marxism has an online socialist book store at wellred.marxist.com. Additionally, Wellred publishes a number of books by Leon Trotsky, Alan Woods and other authors. The IMT regularly publish international theoretical periodicals, such as Marxist International Review and Asian Marxist Review. The site's name, In Defence of Marxism, is derived from the title given to a collection of letters and articles by Leon Trotsky. However, the tendency has been criticised by some left groups for placing too much emphasis on 'abstract' theoretical topics such as Marxism and art, or the Class struggles in the Roman Republic.[26]

Affiliates and Supporters

Europe

Austria

Der Funke is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Austria who are members of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ). In 2009, an IMT supporter, Lukas Riepler, ran in the Vorarlberg provincial elections as an SPÖ candidate on a socialist platform.[27] Der Funke is the German term for "the spark", in reference to Iskra, the Russian socialist newspaper founded by Vladimir Lenin.

Belgium

Vonk is the organisation of IMT supporters in the Flemish Community. It was established in 1974.[28] Vonk publishes a monthly paper carrying the same name, which is the Dutch translation of Iskra ("spark"). Its militants are active in the students' movement and as members of the Socialist Party – Differently (SP.a) and of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (ABVV/FGTB). The student organisation of Vonk is called VMS (Vonk Marxistische Studenten).[29] A well-known member of Vonk in Belgium is Erik De Bruyn who is the spokesman of SP.a Rood (SP.a Red), the left wing of the SP.a.[30] Unité socialiste ("Socialist Unity") is the organisation of IMT supporters in the French Community.

Denmark

Socialistisk Standpunkt ("Socialist Standpoint") is the Danish section of the IMT. It was a fraction in the Socialist Youth Front (SUF) until most of its members were expelled in 2007.[31] It supports the Socialist People's Party (SF) and its youth organisation SFU, even though members of SFU are expelled if they are a part of Socialistisk Standpunkt.[32]

France

The banner of La Riposte.

La Riposte ("The Fightback") is the newspaper of IMT supporters in France who are members of the French Communist Party (PCF).[33] In discussions prior to the 34th congress of the PCF in 2008, La Riposte supported an alternative document titled "Renforcer le PCF, renouer avec le marxisme" which received the support of 5428 or 15% of voters.[34]

Germany

Der Funke ("The Spark") is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Germany who are members of the Left Party. Although most sections of the International Marxist Tendency are active in the 'traditional organisations' of the working class, such as the Labour and Communist Parties, the Left Party is in fact an extremely new organisation. Its formation was welcomed by the IMT as they argue it increased the unity of socialist forces as it fused together two existing mass parties. The IMT argues, therefore, that The Left is "the most serious political formation to the left of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for generations."[35]

Greece

Marxistiki Foni ("Marxist Voice") is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Greece who are members of Synaspismós.

Ireland

Fightback is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Ireland, Supporters of Fightback are active in the Irish Labour Party and also in the North.

Italy

The banner of FalceMartello.

FalceMartello ("HammerSickle") is the Italian section of the IMT. It is a recognised faction within the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). Their long-standing leader is Claudio Bellotti. In the 2008 congress, the faction obtained 7.7% of the delegates and played a role in the defeat of the majority, which saw the left wing (led by Paolo Ferrero) take the leadership of the party. Until 2009 therefore, it was part of a coalition majority. It has since moved back to an opposition stand within the party.

Netherlands

Vonk ("Spark") is the Dutch section of the IMT.

Poland

Socjalizm is the Polish section of the IMT. Their website has been offline since the passage of a law banning the promotion of Communism in June 2010.

Russia

Vrag Kapitala is the Russian section of the IMT.

Serbia

Crvena Kritika is the Serbian section of the IMT.

Spain

Lucha de Clases is the Spanish section of the IMT. The Spanish section was the largest in Europe prior to the split, where it lost the bulk of its members.

Sweden

Avanti! ("Forward!") is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Sweden who are members of the Left Party.[36]

Switzerland

Der Funke, l'Étincelle, and la Scintilla are the newspapers of IMT supporters in Switzerland in German, French, and Italian respectively.[37] All three names mean Iskra ("the spark").

United Kingdom

The banner of Socialist Appeal.

Socialist Appeal is the newspaper of the British section of the IMT which is active within the Labour Party. The section is popularly known as the Socialist Appeal group. It was founded in 1992 by Ted Grant and his supporters who opposed the Militant tendency's decision to abandon work in the Labour Party.[4] In the 1980s, Militant was the most successful European Trotskyist organisation, with three Members of Parliament and effective control over Liverpool City Council. Grant and his supporters believed that the decision to leave the Labour Party was "a threat to forty years work".[8] Peter Taaffe on the other hand, alongside the majority of Militant's leaders believed that the Labour party was preventing them from moving forward. Socialist Appeal was formed soon after by the expelled minority group, in the early 1990s.

Americas

Argentina

El Militante is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Argentina.

Bolivia

El Militante is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Bolivia who are members of the Movement for Socialism (MAS). The IMT characterises the political situation in Bolivia as being similar to Venezuela, in that both countries are ruled by popular left-wing leaders; the tendency argues that these leaders must carry out socialist policies including nationalisations in order to safeguard the reforms that have been achieved.[38] A 2011 speaking tour by Alan Woods, organised by El Militante, attracted around 800 visitors.[39]

Brazil

The banner of Esquerda Marxista.

Esquerda Marxista do Partido dos Trabalhadores ("Marxist Left of the Workers' Party") is the Brazilian section of the IMT active within the ruling Workers' Party. Its official publication is Luta de Classes ("Class Struggle"). Esquerda Marxista was formerly a section of the Lambertist Fourth International, but split with them over the issue of factory occupations. In 2008, their annual congress voted unanimously in favour of affiliating to the IMT.[40] In the 2009 internal election of the Workers' Party (PT), the Esquerda Marxista slate received 3407 votes and won a position on the national leadership.[41]

Canada

Fightback is the newspaper of IMT supporters in English Canada who are members of the New Democratic Party. In 2003, supporters of Fightback were elected to the National Executive of the New Democratic Youth. Additionally, the leadership of the British Columbian and Albertan provincial NDP Youth have been held by Fightback supporters.

The Tendance Marxiste Internationale is the organisation of IMT members in Quebec. It is a recognised collective within Québec solidaire. Its official publication is La Riposte ("The Fightback").

El Salvador

Bloque Popular Juvenil ("Popular Youth Bloc") is the Salvadoran section of the IMT. Its official publication is BJP Militante. The BPJ was founded as the youth wing of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). It voted to affiliate to the IMT in 2008.

Mexico

Militante is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Mexico who are members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Peru

Fuerza de Izquierda Socialista ("Socialist Left Force") is the Peruvian section of the IMT. Its official publication is El Militante.

United States

The Workers' International League (WIL) is the US sympathizing section of the IMT. Its official publication is Socialist Appeal. Unlike IMT supporters in most countries, the Workers' International League does not support any existing political party, but rather calls on the trade unions to break with the Democratic Party and has organizing strategies under the name of the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor (CPML).[42][43][44]

Venezuela

Lucha de Clases is the Venezuelan section of the IMT. It is a recognised faction within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Its official publication is Lucha de Clases ("Class Struggle"). It was founded in 2010 after the Revolutionary Marxist Current left the IMT over disputes about how to approach the PSUV and expelled its members who opposed this move, including most involved in the PSUV youth.[45]

Asia

Indonesia

Militan is the Indonesian section of the IMT.

Iran

Mobareze Tabaqati ("Class Struggle") is the journal of IMT supporters in Iran.[46]

Pakistan

The 2011 congress of The Struggle being addressed by a representative of the IMT.

The Struggle is the Pakistan section of the IMT which is active within the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Its leader and best known theoretician is Lal Khan. The Struggle is the largest section of the IMT. As of March 2010 its membership is in thousands.[47] It has been active in the worker's movement through the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC),[48] while also being involved in the student movement.[49]

In 2012 the IMT published an article denouncing the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai, describing her as an IMT sympathizer and showing a picture of her speaking at an IMT school in Swat.[50] Woods's statement has been used to clarify Yousafzai's politics[51][52] and to speculate on whether she has a communist or anti-religious agenda[53] [54].

Africa

Morocco

The Communist League of Action is the Moroccan section of the IMT. Its official publication is The Communist; IMT supporters in Morocco also publish an Arabic-language website.[55]

Nigeria

The Campaign for a Workers' Alternative is the Nigerian section of the IMT which is active within the Nigerian Labour Party. Its official publication is Workers' Alternative.

Oceania

Australia

Socialist Objective is the newspaper of IMT supporters in Australia who are members of the Australian Labor Party.

New Zealand

Socialist Appeal is the newspaper of IMT supporters in New Zealand who are members of the New Zealand Labour Party.

See also

References

  1. What the International Marxist Tendency really stands for - Reply to the Lambertists. In Defence of Marxism. URL accessed on 15 July 2012.
  2. McSmith, Andy. "Ted Grant: Founder of the Trotskyite group Militant Tendency who never abandoned his revolutionary ideals", 9 August 2006. Retrieved on 13 July 2012. 
  3. Ellner, Steve (2010). "The Perennial Debate over Socialist Goals Played Out in Venezuela". Science & Society 74 (1): 63-84. http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5290. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Oil-slick divisions", Weekly Worker, CPGB PCC, Issue 804, 11 February 2010. Retrieved on 14 April 2011. 
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  11. "Report on the 2006 World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency", 14 September 2006. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Turner, Robin. "The strange tale of Hugo Chavez and the Swansea Marxist", 7 December 2010. Retrieved on 13 July 2012. 
  13. "A Brief History of the International Marxist Tendency", 12 August 2006. 
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  19. 19.0 19.1 "First Pan-American Marxist School of the IMT", 4 March 2009. “From February 27 to March 2, more than 100 revolutionaries from the American continent gathered in Mexico City to take part in the first Pan-American Marxist School of the International Marxist Tendency...to launch the first of issue of America Socialista, the magazine of the IMT on the American continent.” 
  20. [1][dead link]
  21. Corriente Marxista Internacional - Venezuela. Lucha de Clases. URL accessed on 2012-06-05.
  22. Lucha de Clases. Corrientemarxista.org. URL accessed on 2012-06-05.
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  24. Towards A New International Tendency. Tanit.co. URL accessed on 2012-06-05.
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  34. Résultats du vote des 29 et 30 octobre. Lille.pcf.fr. URL accessed on 2009-06-08.
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  38. Martin, Jorge. "Bolivia: massive victory for Evo, a vote for socialism", 16 December 2009. 
  39. "Bolivia: 800 attend Alan Woods meetings at universities in Sucre and Santa Cruz", 29 March 2011. 
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  43. http://www.marxist.com/usa-join-campaign-for-mass-party-of-labor.htm
  44. http://www.revleft.com/vb/u-s-campaign-t141151/index.html
  45. Lucha de Clases Editorial Board. Venezuela: Lucha de Clases is born!. In Defence of Marxism. URL accessed on 2010-05-29.
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  51. O'Keefe, Derrick Sickening attack on 14-year-old Malala used to justify more war and western intervention. Stop the War Coalition. URL accessed on 11/7/2012.
  52. Naqvi, Jawed A flag and a battle plan. Dawn.
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  55. First issue of ‘The Communist’, the new Moroccan Marxist paper. In Defence of Marxism. URL accessed on 2010-05-29.

External links

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