5th Panamerican Marxist School of the IMT: we reclaim the banner of revolutionary communism!

From 30 November to 3 December 2023, 110 comrades of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) met in Mexico City. The countries represented were Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, USA, Canada and Mexico (with comrades from Monterrey, Sonora, San Luis Potosi, Oaxaca, Queretaro, Yucatan, Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico State and Mexico City); as well as representatives of the international leadership of the IMT, and guests from Switzerland, Sweden and Italy. 

[Originally published in Spanish at marxismo.mx]

In an atmosphere of comradeship, very important subjects were discussed for theoretical education, and to continue advancing in the political growth of our International.

Lenin in the Leon Trotsky House Museum

On Thursday afternoon, our event began with a public talk at the Leon Trotsky House Museum, where the Russian revolutionary who founded the Red Army lived the last year of his life. The topic of the discussion was the life and ideas of Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik party and of the Russian revolution of 1917. The comrades were arriving early at the museum, because many of them had travelled from far afield. 

Our entire international organisation is preparing a campaign to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lenin's death. The best way to remember him is to take up his ideas and to highlight the aspects of his character that played a special role in carrying out his tasks. Comrade Jorge Martin, leading member of the IMT, introduced the talk by reviewing Lenin’s political participation in the formation of small circles of the Russian Social Democratic Party, all the way up to the seizure of power, and defending the revolution in the face of the process of degeneration that took place in the last years of his life.

Jorge also explained the context in which Lenin’s key books were written and the impact they had on different sections of the party. He highlighted books oriented towards party building, for example: What is to be done? Where to begin?, One step forward, two steps back, etc. He also spoke about fundamental books for revolutionary Marxism, such as: The State and Revolution, ‘Left-Wing’ communism: An infantile Disorder and Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, among others. 

In all cases, comrade Jorge invited everyone to read Lenin's work, which is full of invaluable organisational and political experience, encouraging the younger comrades to organise around his ideas in order to build a revolutionary alternative.

There were greetings from the comrades of the February 25 Front of Democratic Schools (FEDEF 25), who were present, and helped us with some aspects of the running of the event, and sent a young delegate to participate. The director of the Leon Trotsky Museum also took the floor to greet the Panamerican School of the IMT, pointing out that just as we must rescue the legacy of Trotsky, we must rescue that of his grandson Esteban Volkov. She explained that there is a project to make some documentaries on the life of Esteban, who passed away last June at the age of 97. She also said that she was very happy to find so many young people in the audience. The school also received fraternal greetings from the Communist Party of Mexico.

Palestine, imperialism and party building

The school continued in the State of Mexico, under the imposing visage of the volcano Iztaccihuatl (‘The Sleeping Woman’), which, when it wasn't covered by cold clouds, showed its beautiful silhouette covered with white snow.

It was Jorge’s turn again to give the next talk, which was on the current Israel-Palestine conflict, and which he said could not really be characterised as a war, as it is a unilateral massacre by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people. This conflict, he said, has had the effect of radicalising a section of the youth around the world who, on the one hand, are shown daily images of the massacre, the wounded, and the barbarism against the Palestinian people. On the other hand, it shows the hypocrisy of the imperialists. 

He gave a concise analysis, with historical elements and explaining the current conflict, but allowing the comrades to have a global perspective. He ended by saying that we could not simply talk about the ceasefire, as it would only be rolling back the clock to before 7 October, which was still a nightmare for the Palestinians. What we should demand is the end of capitalism and imperialism. It is about overthrowing the regimes of the USA, Great Britain, those who support the Zionist Israeli state. Our position is summed up in the slogans: “Intifada until victory”, “there’s only one solution: revolution”, and “the struggle for a socialist federation of the Middle East.”

The second session on Friday 1 December was introduced by John Peterson, leader of Socialist Revolution, the US section of the IMT. He spoke about Lenin and the theory of imperialism in America, 200 years after the Monroe Doctrine. He asked who had not read Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Most of the comrades had read this text but he said that those who had not had a very good text to discover. He began by explaining the characteristics Lenin gives to define imperialism. He said that there are an enormous number of companies in the USA but only 500 of them account for 66 percent of GDP. This is an incredible concentration of capital. 

On 2 December 1823, the US government articulated the so-called Monroe Doctrine, which stated that Americans rejected any attempt at colonisation by European powers. For the Americans in the North, the only Americans were themselves. The US did not have a serious military force at that time, but everything changed and the country became the greatest imperialist power in the world. It first promoted the independence of Texas from the  centralist government of Mexico, and then waged a war against Mexico in 1846-48, in which more than half of the national territory was lost. 

US imperialism thus inaugurated a litany of crimes in Latin America and the world, on which it was built. But at the end of his talk John Peterson also pointed out that nothing exists forever and neither does US imperialism. And if we do things right we will see in our lifetimes the destruction of imperialism and the construction of a socialist federation of our America. We will be able to build a world without imperialism, without classes, without money, without the state. He concluded by saying: "Long live the IMT and long live the socialist and communist revolution".

The last session of the day was given by Alessandro Giardiello, leader of Sinistra, Classe Rivoluzione, the Italian section of the IMT. The theme was Lenin and party building. The Italian Marxist began by criticising this idyllic view of Lenin. For example, when his brother Alexander was hanged for trying to assassinate the Tsar, the Stalinists say that Lenin said "we will not go down that road". They show a Lenin who has a clear and ready-made perspective beforehand, but the reality is different.

Alessandro gave a vision of Lenin starting from the small circles, the polemics of 1903, the revolution of 1905. Lenin was able to build strong apparatuses but when necessary he destroyed them and built something new. Lenin was skilful in debating amongst the workers. Sometimes one sentence was enough for him to understand a political position. We must learn from his method, and struggle against any kind of individualism. Lenin never wondered how he would be remembered in the future. 

With a firm voice Alessandro emphasised that Lenin was simply "Doing what he had to do!" In this spirit, we must collectively contribute to building the party.

The construction of the international, the conquest of America and the slogan of the constituent assembly

The second day of discussion in the State of Mexico started with the topic "Lenin and the construction of the international in America". It was introduced by Carlos Marquez, leading comrade of the Izquierda Socialista [Socialist Left] in Mexico. He gave a historical balance sheet, which went through the First World War and the Russian revolution of 1917. The idea of a new international, after the collapse of the Second International, was born in Lenin's mind and then became a palpable reality. 

In America, there was also a split in the labour movement, between the socialists and anarchists. This led to the creation of the first communist parties, such as those in Argentina, Mexico, the USA and Chile. At the beginning, there were neither the cadres nor the necessary political training, communism in America was just beginning to mature when the Communist International was bureaucratised by Stalinism. 

Despite this, we saw American cadres born of the Leninist Communist International such as Julio Antonio Mella and José Carlos Mariátegui, who clashed with the Stalinists of the Comintern. It is necessary to recover the experience of the International and its first four congresses, in which are concentrated lessons of the workers' movement for the construction of the forces of Marxism in the Americas today.

Jorge introduced the talk on the conquest of America by explaining the economic development prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in both the Inca and Mexica empires, as well as in the case of the nascent Spain, which, although it maintained a fundamentally feudal economy, had nascent mercantile capitalism pushing behind it. He explained the case of the conquest of Tenochtitlán, which was multifactorial, combining the conquistadors' manipulation of the divisions of the indigenous peoples, Spanish weaponry, the diseases that came from outside and struck the indigenous peoples, etc.

Lautaro García, comrade of the Corriente Socialista el Militante from Argentina, introduced a talk on the slogan of the Constituent Assembly. He gave a historical overview, explaining that the constituent assembly is a bourgeois democratic slogan, which can be used in specific conditions, such as those that existed in Tsarist Russia before the government of the soviets. But once the latter was established, applying it was a step backwards, because a regime of a superior form of democracy, of proletarian democracy, had been established. He gave an overview of how the different sectarian groups in Argentina use this slogan, explaining that, if you have the strength to carry forward the workers' programme, the constituent assembly is not necessary, because it is better to take power into your own hands.

Decoloniality and the experience of reformist governments in Latin America

In the discussion on Marxism and decoloniality, held on Sunday 3 December, was introduced by Ubaldo Oropeza, leading comrade of the Mexican section, where he went through all the prejudices that swarm in academia, not only about Marxism, but also about so-called modernity. It was explained that, despite claiming to defend an "autochthonous" and "innovative" thought, its ideas are a rehash of subjective idealist philosophies, which end up being reactionary in their application in the political struggle, such as French structuralism, post-colonialism and the philosophy of liberation. All this idealism constitutes the main ingredients of an unoriginal Latin American post-modernism. It was also demonstrated how, however radical their discourse may be, their political alternatives go no further than that of an autochthonous reformist capitalism.

They call for appeals to support reformist governments, to organise small nuclei of resistance without transforming their reality, to appeal to a "non-capitalist economy based on the postulates of the Sao Paulo Forum", etc. All this within the limits of the market economy. The different prejudices they have about Marxism were also explained, as well as how Marxism can provide a scientific analysis of Latin American, and offer a real revolutionary solution to the problems faced by the great majority of the population.

Evandro Colzani from our Brazilian section, Organização Comunista Internacionalista, spoke on the theme: "Balance sheet of the reformist governments in Latin America". In the ‘80s and ‘90s there was a strong offensive against the working class in all countries, with privatisations of public enterprises. This generated a subsequent reaction expressed in class struggles such as the Argentinean "argentinazo" of 2001, the Oaxaca commune of 2006 and many others. These explosions, having failed to achieve the seizure of power by the workers, manifested themselves in the entry of various reformist governments. These were favoured by a commodity boom. Reformist tendencies try to give this theoretical content, such as the ‘socialism of the 21st century’, which are opposed to the revolutionary theories of Marxism.

Evandro gave an overview of the process, where limited reforms in a boom period turned into counter-reforms. Supposedly progressive governments ended up attacking the working class. He commented on the so-called progressive second wave in Latin America (the first being the so-called Pink Tide), and its limits in not breaking with the system. He concluded by saying that we have confidence in the working class and its ability to take power into its own hands, but for this we need to build a revolutionary leadership. 

The Cuban Revolution

There was also a panel, with the participation of Cuban comrades, to discuss the Cuban Revolution. The different periods it has lived through were analysed, with its first years marked by a quest to extend the revolution (albeit with guerrilla methods) and a huge participation of the workers in the construction of the new society. 

The grey period (adaptation to the USSR with an uncritical position), the special period and the current situation in Cuba with its free market reforms and the danger of capitalist restoration were also explained. The role of today's youth, of movements that are emerging (even outside the official structures) in the debate on the revolution and its defence, was dealt with too. 

In this panel, Jorge explained the position of the IMT clearly: "Our position is the unconditional defence of the Cuban Revolution", which was received by the audience with enthusiastic applause. The constant threat of the imperialist blockade, the dangers of the reforms, and the need for the defence of the planned economy, the establishment of a real workers' democracy, and the need to break the isolation by extending the revolution internationally, were explained.

Comradely atmosphere

Organising the event was not an easy task, but it was possible because of the level of experience and development of the Mexican section, as well as everybody’s confidence in the ideas and the International. We didn’t receive subsidies of any kind, the school was fully financed by contributions from comrades in Mexico and all across the Americas. We had all kinds of difficulties, including the arbitrary deportation of a Colombian comrade who was detained for more than 12 hours and held incommunicado. This is the daily reality for migrants, who are treated in humiliating ways by a government that declares itself as an ally, only on speech.

We saw many contributions in all the debates, and in some cases there was not enough time to cover all the comrades who wanted to participate. All the talks were excellent, and they were complemented by many contributions for the discussion also of a high political level that left attendees with a good overview of the subject. Those comrades who do not have Spanish as their first language made an effort to intervene in that language.

It was evident that many comrades had previously read the texts for the debates and did not come to improvise but had prepared themselves to raise the political level of the school.

The atmosphere was very comradely. We had a bonfire and the comrades danced on the grass; then they sang Silvio Rodríguez, songs from the Spanish civil war and Latin American revolutionary songs. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie, enthusiasm and high morale. We ate various Mexican foods such as pozole, enchiladas, chilaquiles, pambazos and so on. There was a very early morning hike to climb a small volcano: and those comrades who took part were able to appreciate a beautiful view of the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl.

On the last night, we danced with some tequila, beer and the Mexican drink called pulque brought from a Tinacal near us, which raised contradictory opinions about the taste of this pre-Hispanic drink among the comrades. Revolutionary songs from the different countries were sung, perhaps not all of us are very good singers, but the revolutionary energy was felt, for example, when the Chilean song "Venceremos" was sung in unison; but it was even more clearly demonstrated in the international collection, where we collected around 161,000 Mexican pesos (9,300 dollars).

Building the IMT

The last item was a report of the work of the IMT, showing the significant growth of the International in countries such as Britain, Italy, North America, and developments in Latin America. There followed a series of participations, comrade Benoit from Canada gave an inspiring report, which can be summed up in one sentence: "Today we are the biggest Trotskyist party that has ever existed in the history of Canada". 

Comrade Laura Brown also explained the enormous development in the USA, where they have exceeded 600 comrades. She said: there are millions of communists without a party, when we come in contact with them we tell them that they must organise, that we are a big but dispersed force and that we need comrades to integrate into the organisation, to create the communist party we need. Advances in countries like Colombia and Peru were explained. There were also interventions of young comrades; like comrade Victoria from Yucatan; comrade Rafael from Bolivia and comrade Dario from Switzerland, who showed the advances in their regions and countries. There were also very illustrative examples of building in some North American cities.

Jorge closed the event. He recalled how in the past the Trotskyists, who called themselves the Leninist Bolsheviks, had been blocked from reaching the rank-and-file of the communist parties. Today, the IMT is winning over hundreds of communists in the world, and that reflects one thing: we are reclaiming our true communist heritage. He ended by reading a long sentence from Trotsky, culminating in the statement: 

"We will never forget that our party is now the greatest lever of history. Away from this lever, each of us is nothing. With this lever in our hands, we are everything."

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