Reports and Comments on Hugo Chávez’s Call for a “Fifth International”

by George Saunders, co-managing editor, Labor Standard


A development with potentially far-reaching implications for revolutionary socialist internationalists took place in Caracas, Venezuela, during the week before “Thanksgiving” (better known to many American Indians as the National Day of Mourning). Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave two major speeches around November 19–21, at a conference of “left” parties being held in Caracas and at the opening session of the First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), also in Caracas, on Saturday, November 21.

As Barry Weisleder, federal secretary of Socialist Action/Canada wrote: “Whatever we may think of the specific content of Chávez’s statement(s), (their) accuracy on certain points, etc., the fact that this discussion is occurring, with the apparent endorsement of the Cuban revolutionary leadership, is highly significant, in my view.”

It is our hope that English translations of the full texts of Chávez’s two speeches and of the document entitled “The Commitment of Caracas” will become available soon. In my opinion, they should be studied carefully and commented on by all concerned for the cause of worldwide socialist revolution.

One of our favorite revolutionary Cuban writers was Celia Hart, who died (too soon) a little more than a year ago. She was the daughter of Cuban revolutionary leaders Haydée Santamaria and Armando Hart. As Celia Hart said so often during her short life, world socialism is the only alternative to the increasing destructiveness of world capitalism, especially in these days of expanding imperialist wars and speeded-up global warming, which threatens to destroy the very basis for the existence of life on our planet. Thus, a call for an international organization to advance the struggle for world socialism is clearly consistent with humanity’s most urgent needs today.

In the meantime, until the full texts mentioned above are available, we reproduce below four reports from various points of view providing more information about this significant development. The four reports are followed by an article by François Sabado, a leader of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, essentially endorsing Chávez’s call and proposing some planks for the future program of the proposed new international. All articles have been edited somewhat for consistency with Labor Standard style (removing Britishisms, etc.) An additional report, we note on November 29, may be seen at the web site of the magazine Monthly Review.


(1) Venezuela’s Chávez Calls for International Organization of Left Parties

by Kiraz Janicke

[The following report datelined “Caracas, November 23, 2009,” was posted on the web site www.venezuelanalysis.com]

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism.

The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than fifty left organizations from thirty-one countries held in Caracas over November 19–21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we make my proposal a reality,” Chávez said.

The head of state insisted that the conference of left parties should not be “just one more meeting,” and he invited participating organizations to create a truly new project. “This socialist encounter should be of the genuine left, willing to fight against imperialism and capitalism,” he said.

During his speech, Chávez briefly outlined the experiences of previous “internationals,” including the First International founded in 1864 by Karl Marx; the Second International founded in 1889, which collapsed in [August 1914, at the outbreak of the first world war, when] various left parties and trade unions sided with their respective capitalist classes in the inter-imperialist conflict; the Third International founded by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, which Chávez said “degenerated” under Stalinism and “betrayed” struggles for socialism around the world; and the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938, which suffered numerous splits and no longer exists [effectively], although some small groups claim to represent its political continuity.

Chávez said that a new international would have to function “without  impositions” and would have to respect diversity.

Representatives from a number of major parties in Latin America voiced their support for the proposal, including the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) of Bolivia, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of Nicaragua, and Alianza Pais of Ecuador.

Smaller parties from Latin America and around the world also indicated their support for Chávez’s proposal, including the Proposal for an Alternative Society (PAS) of Chile, New Nation Alternative (ANN) of Guatemala, and Australia’s Socialist Alliance, among others.

Sandinista leader Miguel D´Escoto said, “Capitalism has brought the human species to the precipice of extinction…we have to take control of our own destiny.”

“There is no time to lose,” D’Escoto added as he conveyed his support for the proposal of forming a fifth international. “We have to overcome the tendency of defeatism. Many times I have noted a tendency of defeatism among comrades of the left in relation to the tasks we face,” he continued.

Salvador Sánchez, from the FMLN, said: “We are going to be important actors in the Fifth International. We cannot continue waiting—all the forces of the left. The aspiration of the peoples is to walk down a different path. We must not hesitate in forming the Fifth International. The people have pronounced themselves in favor of change and the parties of the left must be there with them.”

Other organizations, including Portugal’s Left Bloc, Germany’s Die Linke, and France’s Parti de Gauche expressed interest in the proposal but said they would consult with their various parties. A representative of the Cuban Communist Party described the proposal as “excellent,” but as yet the party has made no formal statement.

Many Communist parties, including those from Greece and Brazil, expressed strong opposition to the proposal. The Venezuelan Communist Party said it was willing to discuss the proposal but expressed strong reservations.

The Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) from Colombia expressed its willingness to work with other left parties, but said it would “reserve” its decision to participate in an international organization of left parties.

Valter Pomar, a representative from the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), said its priority is the São Paulo Forum—a forum of various Latin American left, socialist, communist, center-left, labor, social democratic, and nationalist parties launched by the PT in 1990.

A resolution was passed at the conference to form a preparatory committee to convoke a global conference of left parties in Caracas in April 2010, to discuss the formation of a new international. The resolution also allowed for other parties that remain undecided to discuss the proposal and incorporate themselves at a later date.

Chávez emphasized the importance of being inclusive and said the April conference had to go far beyond the parties and organizations that participated in last week’s conference. In particular, he said it was an error that there were no revolutionary organizations from the United States present.

The conference of left parties also passed a resolution titled the Caracas Commitment, “to reaffirm our conviction to definitively build and win Socialism of the 21st Century,” in the face of “the generalized crisis of the global capitalist system.”

“One of the epicenters of the global capitalist crisis is the economic sphere. This highlights the limitations of unbridled free markets dominated by monopolies of private property,” the resolution stated.

Also incorporated was a proposed amendment by the Australian delegation which read, “In synthesis, the crisis of capitalism cannot be reduced to a simple financial crisis, it is a structural crisis of capital that combines the economic crisis with an ecological crisis, a food crisis, and an energy crisis, which together represent a mortal threat to humanity and nature. In the face of this crisis, the movements and parties of the left see the defense of nature and the construction of an ecologically sustainable society as a fundamental axis of our struggle for a better world.”

The Caracas Commitment expressed “solidarity with the peoples of the world who have suffered and are suffering from imperialist aggression, especially the more than 50 years of the genocidal blockade against Cuba…the massacre of the Palestinian people, the illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Western Sahara, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, which today is expanding into Pakistan.”

The conference of left parties also denounced the decision of the Mexican government to shut down the state-owned electricity company and fire 45,000 workers, as an attempt to “intimidate” the workers and as an “offensive of imperialism,” to advance neoliberal privatization in Central America.

In the framework of the Caracas Commitment, the left parties present agreed, among other things, to:

·    Organize a global week of mobilization December 12–17 in repudiation of the installation of U.S. military bases in Colombia, Panama, and around the world.

·    Campaign for an “international trial against George Bush for crimes against humanity, as the person principally responsible for the genocide against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

·    “Commemorate 100 years since the proposal by Clara Zetkin to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, through forums, mobilizations, and other activities in their respective countries.”

·    Organize global solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in the face of constant imperialist attacks.

·    Organize global solidarity with the people of Honduras, who are resisting a U.S.-backed military coup, to campaign for the restoration of the democratically elected president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya, and to organize a global vigil on the day of the elections in Honduras, “with which they aim to legitimize the coup d’état.”

·    Demand an “immediate and unconditional end to the criminal Yankee blockade” of Cuba and for the “immediate liberation” of the Cuban Five, referring to the five anti-terrorist activists imprisoned in the United States.

·    Accompany the Haitian people in their struggle for the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide “who was kidnapped and removed from his post as president of Haiti by North American imperialism.”


(2) First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV — Chávez calls for the Fifth International

Written by Alan Woods, from the Congress of the PSUV Monday, 23 November 2009

At the opening session of the PSUV congress Chávez made a very radical left-wing speech, calling for the setting up of a new international, explaining that it was necessary to destroy the bourgeois state and replace it with a revolutionary state, but also referring to the bureaucracy within the Bolivarian movement itself. It was clearly a speech that reflects the enormous pressure from the masses below who are getting tired of talk about socialism, while real progress toward genuine change appears to be frustratingly slow.

First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV

(photo caption: The front of the hall at the PSUV Congress)

On Saturday November 21, the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) commenced its sessions with the attendance of 772 red-shirted delegates. The majority were workers, peasants, and students, elected by around 2.5 million voters (the total membership on paper is seven million!). The atmosphere was one of enthusiasm and expectation.

After a warming up session of revolutionary songs and a couple of opening speeches from visiting dignitaries from Nicaragua and El Salvador, Hugo Chávez opened the proceedings with a five-hour speech that finished shortly after midnight.

The main emphasis of the first part of his speech was the need to set up a new revolutionary international, which he referred to as the Fifth International. Chávez pointed out that Marx had set up the First International, Engels participated in the founding of the Second International, Lenin founded the Third International, and Leon Trotsky the Fourth, but that for different reasons, none of these Internationals existed today.

Chávez pointed out that all these Internationals were originally based in Europe, reflecting the class battles in Europe at that time, but that today the epicenter of world revolution was in Latin America, and especially in Venezuela. He pointed to the presence at the Congress of 55 left parties from 39 countries, which had signed a document called the Caracas Agreement, or Caracas Commitment (El Compromiso de Caracas), based on the idea of a worldwide fight against imperialism and capitalism, for socialism.

He stressed this idea repeatedly in the course of his speech, which also contained many radical ideas, attacks against capitalism, which he said was a threat to the future of the human race. Referring to the world capitalist crisis, he condemned the attempts of Western governments to save the system with lavish state bailouts. Our task, he said, was not to save capitalism but to destroy it.

Referring to the situation in Venezuela, he stated that they had not yet succeeded in eliminating capitalism but were moving in that direction. His announcement that they were going to take over seven banks was greeted with enthusiastic applause. He denounced the Venezuelan oligarchy as a Fifth Column, which had sold out to imperialism.

Chávez pointed out that the state in Venezuela remained a capitalist state and this was a central problem for the revolution. Waving a copy of Lenin’s State and Revolution (which he recommended that all the delegates read), he said that he accepted Lenin's view that it was necessary to destroy the bourgeois state and replace it with a revolutionary state, and this task remained to be carried out.

Turning to the problem of bureaucracy, he warned that he was aware that some of the delegates present had been elected by irregular means and that some people were only interested in getting elected to parliament or as mayors and governors, which he described as unacceptable.

psuv_1st_ext_congress_1.jpg

(photo caption: Delegates at the PSUV convention)

On the recent conflict with Colombia, he repeated his demand for the establishment of a people's militia, and that every worker, peasant, student, man and woman, should receive military training, and that this must not remain on paper but be put into practice.

“I attach great importance to this congress,” Chávez said, “and intend to take an active part in its proceedings.” He insisted that the congress should not end tomorrow (Sunday) but should continue to meet periodically for the next few months, so as to debate all these questions thoroughly. He insisted that the debates must be democratic, taking different opinions into consideration and that delegates must report back to the rank and file and discuss with them all the different proposals and documents.

The President emphasized that the next year would be difficult. The opposition would do everything possible to win the elections to the National Assembly in September 2010. “After that they will go for me,” he said. At this point one delegate shouted out: “They will go for all of us!”

All this highlights the central problem. After 11 years there are signs that the masses are becoming impatient and frustrated with the slow pace of the revolution. The crisis of capitalism is having an effect, and many are disgusted with the bureaucracy and corruption they see everywhere, including within the Bolivarian Movement itself.

This frustration sometimes expresses itself in strikes. The President expressed his frustration at some strikes, although he appealed for a dialogue with the workers. But behind this is a general feeling that those in the leadership of the revolution are out of touch and do not listen to the masses or understand their problems.

During his speech, Chávez also stressed the need to recover the traditions of revolutionary trade unionism, since the working class has to play a leading role in the revolution. "The consciousness of the working class is key to the building of socialism,” he said, adding that there must be a close alliance between the party and the workers.

It is clear that Chávez is attempting to use the congress to breathe new life into the revolution. Let us hope that this will be the starting point for a new advance of the Bolivarian Revolution, which can only succeed by going onto the offensive, breaking radically with capitalism, striking blows against the reactionary oligarchy, and establishing a genuine workers' state as the necessary condition for advancing to socialism and launching a revolutionary wave throughout the Americas and on a world scale.

Caracas, November 21, 2009


(3) Two signs pointing to more victories—Managua and Caracas

by Felipe Stuart

[The following article was posted on the Marxmail discussion group www.marxmail.org by Fred Feldman, who noted: Felipe Stuart is a writer with decades of experience in Central America.” Felipe Stuart was writing from Managua, Nicaragua, apparently on November 22 and as a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Spanish initials, FSLN).]

Yesterday was a turning point for Sandinistas in Nicaragua and our supporters abroad. Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the government and its ALBA-backed economic and social programs rallied at the Plaza de las Victorias to celebrated the first anniversary of the massive municipal election victories last November. The huge size and festive pride of this demonstration completely overshadowed and dwarfed a much smaller opposition demonstration held earlier in the day. The official banner of the rally was Nicaragua: Christian, Socialist, and Sandinista.

Despite backing from the two main dailies, and the TV and radio media of the oligarchy, with financing from U.S.-controlled “civil society” (NGO) fronts, and all-out support from the three factions of Liberal Somocismo in the country, the opposition managed to pull together at most 20,000 people.

Employers in the private sector helped to finance the turnout by giving workers the day off, and a whiff of encouragement to return the favor in the street. Some found it hard to miss a rally that had official blessing from the Bishops. Their demonstration was completely swamped with the red flags and banners of Aleman's Liberal Party (PLC), and was notoriously speckled with elite white faces and well shod middle-class elements. The mestizo component was largely delivered to the rally point in buses and trucks rented or owned by the PLC and business supporters. They were neither so “civil” nor so “society” as the leaders from the NGOs and opposition parties, who are not used to being in the company of los chapiollos—the shirtless, flip-flop shod rabble they usually only meet in the person of servants and gardeners, and their security guards.

This day of celebration and defiance against the hysterical destabilization campaign of the right wing and the U.S. Embassy, backed by the Vatican-instructed Church, will infuse greater self-confidence, pride, and determination among Sandinistas—from our mass base, through to those carrying out government responsibilities at the municipal and national levels. It will lend greater vitality to the ALBA initiatives and projects, and inspire participants to even greater efforts to extend their reach and impact. (For more background on the class nature of the Nicaraguan opposition front and the misnamed “civil society” organizations, see “Anti-FSLN Opposition Seeks Unity to Topple Ortega Government,” by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer.

There is another reason why we feel that a turning point, a bifurcation, has been reached. Yesterday, the First Extraordinary Congress of the Bolivarian PSUV got under way. President Hugo Chávez gave what can only be described as a benchmark and historic inaugural speech. He took up a range of questions, including the question of the class character of the Venezuelan state and Bolivarian government. Chávez, with a copy of Lenin's State and Revolution in hand, used the text to explain how Bolivarians must analyze the state and the government. His analysis was pure Marx and Lenin. He explained how and why the national bourgeoisie continue to have a strong hold on various components of the state. He argued that the next phase of the revolution had to tackle this problem head on.

In that context, and in the wake of the just-concluded international conference of left parties, Chávez called for the launching of the Fifth International. He had taken some time to explain the history of the First, Second, and Third Internationals. His call was not abrupt. It was a serious proposal, and he ended the speech with a series of chants, including “Long Live the Fifth International!” This address was long, and went into detailed explication of what a vanguard party, and the vanguard of the vanguard must be, how it must act, and how its moral values and utter dedication to the Bolivarian and international revolution must underpin and inform all its work. In that framework, Chávez posed the question of the relationship between the 7 million-member base of the party and the 2 million active in its base “patrol” units, and their relationship to the elected congress delegates.

Chávez insisted and demanded, over and over again throughout his keynote address, that the Congress delegates must study, must remain in constant contact with the base membership and their communities, and must discuss in depth all proposals and questions on the agenda; they must, he argued, be critical, analytical, and knowledgeable about government programs, laws, the work of its ministries, and about economic realities, problems, and data. They must be an informed vanguard, a vanguard that fights with ideas, defends the revolution with ideas, and convinces an ever expanding range of the population to participate in the revolution and its programs.

I doubt if one could ever hear such quality argumentation about the character and tasks of the vanguard in any of the self-appointed vanguards and telephone-booth internationals laying claim to unique knowledge of how to make the revolution.

The Congress will remain in session until April, and various sessions will be held in other regions of the country. It will also be regrouped in working commissions by province, and also by thematic issues.

The inaugural session of the Congress was televised live on Venezuelan TV, and carried live here in Nicaragua by cable services. It will no doubt be televised on Sandinista-oriented channels throughout this week, along with repeats of Ortega’s speech yesterday.

Hugo Chávez gave honorable mention to the Honduran resistance and the presence of Patricia Rojas, the foreign minister of the Honduran Constitutional government. He made specific mention of, and lauded, the Sandinista rally in Managua, and welcomed the presence of the two FSLN fraternal delegates—Padre Miguel d’Escoto Brockman (who just finished his term as President of the UN General Assembly) and Aldo Diaz Lacayo, one of the leading members of the FSLN and adviser to the Presidency. Lacayo is a widely respected historian and was Ambassador to Mexico during the revolution. His well-frequented bookstore [in Managua] is the main distributor of Ocean Press books in our country.

I think socialist and anti-imperialist fighters in all countries must respond in creative and united ways to the Bolivarian call for a new international. Like the Foro de São Paulo (FSP) over the last decade, what is proposed is an international of socialist organizations and (possibly) allied class-struggle and anti-imperialist struggle organizations. The FSP, however, is really just a space for exchange of views, and elaborating common positions where possible. But the new international will be a qualitative advance over the FSP, and draw in participants from other continents. It will be different from the ALBA alliance, which is essentially an alliance of anti-imperialist governments, although it has initiatives to support activities and coordination among social and class movements in Indo-Latin America and the Caribbean.

I should add that Chávez is not trying to impose any preconceived plan or design for the new international. That requires input and discussion from around the globe, and especially in Indo-Latin America, which has now become, Chávez argues, the new epicenter of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle.

When the text of the speech becomes available, we need to help to circulate it broadly, and to discuss it in all its dimensions and elements.


(4) Caracas leftist conference takes on the world

by Will Loew

[A version of the following article appears on the web site Marxism-Leninism Today, which is oriented mainly toward Communist parties stemming from the pro-Moscow CP tradition.]

Delegates to the “First International Meeting of Parties of the Left” in Caracas last week had a tough job. Not only were they dealing with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s proposal for a fifth socialist international, but they also tried to respond to immediate dangers posed by U.S. imperialism.

The process will continue next April, also in Caracas (around the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s revolt against Spanish colonial rule), when socialists and anti-imperialists gather to convene the fifth Socialist International. A working group was established to devise an agenda. According to Ricardo Patiño, Ecuadorian Minister of Political Coordination, its task would be to shape “ideological discussion.”

Hosted by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the gathering attracted 120 representatives of 55 political parties and groups from 39 countries. The three-day meeting took place at the state-owned Hotel Alba, the former Hilton Caracas, converted earlier into a prototype “socialist” hotel.

Speaking at a concluding press conference, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro remarked that 200 years after the defeat of the Spanish Empire, it was now the socialists’ turn to organize: “We will raise multiple banners of hope for a different, solidarity-based society.”

Colombian Liberal Party Senator Piedad Cordoba reminded delegates of pressing challenges. At the concluding session she called for worldwide mobilizations December 12–17 “Against the North American Bases Established in Colombia.” Condemnation of those bases became the first of six major points contained in the conference’s final document, the “Commitment of Caracas.” PSUV Vice President Celia Flores explained other points to reporters, including the fifth, “mobilizing all popular organizations in full support of the Honduran people and restitution of the constitutional president.” The four remaining points were: development of a “platform of conjoined action”; organization of a “world movement of militants for a culture of peace”; “launching a barrage of international communication for the emancipation of revolutionary consciousness”; and “solidarity with peoples of the world who struggle for liberty.”

Flores reviewed three “Special Declarations.” One condemned the “criminal blockade the United States maintains against Cuba” and demanded freedom for the Cuban Five. The second established November 29 as a day of “world vigil” in response to elections imposed that day under the “Honduran dictatorship.” The last declaration expressed support for a fifth Socialist International.

Piedad Córdoba insisted upon “absolute backing for the revolution led by Chávez.” “We are not going to let President Hugo Chávez be cornered or isolated,” she declared, adding: “It’s difficult to conceive of the transition to socialism of the 21st Century without the presence of Hugo Chávez.”

“I assume the responsibility before the world,” Chávez told the gathering. “The time has come to create the Fifth International.” The project “must be of the true left, disposed to confront imperialism and capitalism.” Chávez wrote elsewhere the same week that “debate over ideas is essential so as to not repeat the errors that distorted and weakened the socialist cause in the 20th century.” He envisions “socialism of the 21st century converted, as Mariátegui advised, into a heroic and sovereign creation of each people…not an imitation or copy.”

Thanking the PSUV for inviting his party’s participation and for organizing the gathering, Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) spokesperson Yul Jabour noted PCV agreement that “coordinated struggle determined by popular and revolutionary forces” is indeed required for confronting “terror and the looming military threat.” He called for a “broad, continental anti-imperialist front,” but not necessarily a socialist one.

On its web site (tribuna-popular.org), the PCV noted as problematic “the ideological heterogeneity of the few left parties that were invited [and] the presence of parties of the right.” “These profound political and ideological differences make convocation of a ‘Fifth Socialist International’ non-viable.”

The PCV web site provides a full listing of parties and organizations in attendance, along with the complete “Commitment of Caracas.” Parties on hand included the governing parties of Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, plus Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party. Communist parties included those of Cuba, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, China, and Vietnam.

The Commitment of Caracas outlined ambitious goals, in particular: “Our struggle for a better world [means] construction of an ecologically sustainable society.” “The combined economic, ecological, food, and energy crises [it characterized as] a mortal threat to humanity and mother earth.” Raúl Bracho was optimistic: “This Fifth International [will be] a vanguard firing up people’s knowledge and consciousness with new visions and hope”—and more, it is “the foam on the crest of the wave announcing we’re near the end of the nightmare.”


Chávez calls for Fifth International

Decisive lessons from Stalinism and Social Democracy

by François Sabado

During an international meeting of left parties held in Caracas from 19–21 November, 2009, Hugo Chávez launched a call for a Fifth Socialist International which, according to him, should bring together left parties and social movements. According to the president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the Fifth International must be “an instrument for the unification and articulation of the struggle of the peoples to save this planet.” In a world political situation marked by a total crisis of the capitalist system, this is a fact important enough to be underlined.

Indeed, leaders or parties who pose the question of an International do not grow on trees. That is the first merit of Chávez’s call.

All the more so as this call is accompanied by a declaration which denounces the systemic character of the capitalist crisis, beyond its financial and banking dimensions, and reaffirms the perspective of a socialism of the 21st century. It calls for an urgent mobilization against the new imperialist offensive in Latin America, being carried out by the U.S. administration and the Latin American Right.

On the basis of this call, a broad world anti-imperialist front can be established, to mark its solidarity with the struggle of the peoples for their social and political rights, to oppose the new U.S. bases in Colombia, to support, in particular, the mobilization of the people of Honduras against the new dictatorial regime.

In the trial of strength in which the imperialists are confronted with the struggles of the peoples, such a world front would constitute an important instrument to fight the power of the ruling classes, not only in Latin America but in the whole world.

We are ready, as we have been since the beginning, in solidarity with the Cuban revolution, the Bolivarian revolution, with the experiences in Bolivia and Ecuador, to fully commit ourselves to the common fight against the imperialist attacks and to take our full place in this world anti-imperialist front.

It is also within this framework that the process of construction of a new International would be posed. Chávez calls for the establishment of a Socialist Fifth International. That puts back on the agenda the discussion about a new International. Chávez situates the building of the Fifth International in continuity with the Fourth. We have already declared on many occasions: what do labels matter, if there is convergence over the content? But the constitution of a new International implies a whole process around a program, policies, and an organization, which must be carried out on the basis of a broad discussion with all the protagonists.

There is, indeed, a new historical period, where divergences between various revolutionary currents can be surmounted on the basis of “a common understanding of events and tasks.” From this point of view, it is not a question of discussing the historical balance sheets of different currents, but it is decisive to learn together the lessons of Stalinism and Social Democracy, so that the tragedies and the errors of the past are not repeated.

Each party, each organization, each current, and each militant must contribute to this debate. As for the Fourth International, it has already formulated, on many occasions, its proposals:

·    An anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist program of emergency demands, which starts from the demands and social needs of the popular classes, proposes a new distribution of wealth, public and social appropriation of the key sectors of the economy, and leads on to the revolutionary transformation of society.

·    Unity of action of all the organizations, currents, and militants against the attacks of the governments and the capitalist classes.

·    Independence of the social movements, associations, and trade-union organizations with respect to parties and states.

·    Solidarity with all struggles of peoples against all the imperialist powers.

·    The fight against oppression of, and defense of the rights of, women, homosexuals, young people, and immigrants.

·    The fight for governments of the workers and popular classes which [would take action to] satisfy the principal social and ecological demands [of those classes] and base themselves on the mobilization of the population and its control over the principal sectors of the economy. This perspective implies not participating in governments which manage the state and the capitalist economy along with the parties of the center-left or social democracy.

·    The central character of the self-emancipation and self-organization of peoples, in the perspective of overthrowing capitalism.

·    An ecosocialist project which combines both the satisfaction of social needs and the respect and balance of our ecosystem. In this sense, we have much to learn from the indigenous peoples of South America and their relationship to the land.

·    Socialist democracy as a project of society: self-management of the economy, democracy and pluralism of parties and social movements.

These are some themes for discussion in order to advance along the road of bringing together all anti-capitalists on an international level. They are the first ideas that we will defend in the process of constitution of a new International.

Lastly, Chávez’s call for a Fifth International also constitutes a point of support when it poses the question of a new International independent of the Second (Socialist) International, of which organizations like the social democratic parties, the Mexican PRI, and the Brazilian PT are members. But it is also necessary to clarify a question in the construction of a new International, that of the difference between state policies and the development of a political project. One thing is to conclude economic and commercial agreements with states which have anti-imperialist governments, to conclude such agreements with other states, including some which have reactionary regimes, or to oppose attacks of imperialism against certain countries. It is quite another thing to give political support to regimes like those of the Chinese Communist Party or the Islamic Republic of Iran…The project of the Fifth International cannot in any way at all be associated with these regimes.

Once again, this call creates the conditions for a new international discussion, inseparable from solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution. It is in this spirit that the Fourth International, its organizations and its militants, will answer “Present”!

-François Sabado is a member of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International and an activist in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France. He was a long-time member of the National Leadership of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR).