Report on the International Consultative Meeting on the PO crisis in Athens

 

Report on the International Consultative Meeting

on the PO crisis in Athens, on July 22-25, 2019

 

Summary of the report

 

The Athens meeting, called by the Greek and Turkish sections of our international current based on the 2004 program of the CRFI, had as its main purpose to arrest the rapid escalation of the conflict in the PO so as to prevent a split in the party. The initial stages of the meeting involved deliberations including the presentation of the views of the two sides, questions asked by the sister parties for clarification, and criticisms levelled at both sides by the sister parties. The sister parties of the PO present at the meeting, i.e. DIP, EEK and the Finnish MTL, directed a balanced amount of criticism to both the majority, the CC, of the party and the Public Faction. On the third day of the meeting, the sister parties presented a draft resolution, called the “Athens Armistice”, signed by all three, laying the basis for a first agreement between the two sides so as to stop the escalation and to de-escalate the conflict in certain respects, making it very clear that this whole agreement could not iron out all differences, which had to be the subject of deliberations between the two sides in the more comradely atmosphere created by this “armistice”.

 

The report of the meeting on Prense Obrera misrepresents some of the facts and creates the impression that the sister parties criticised only the minority and sided with the majority. This is not true. The criticism was at times to both sides and those that were levelled to one side were balanced.

The draft resolution was at first discussed carefully. Both sides did propose many amendments, which was very normal, but on the whole explicitly said that this draft could be the basis for an agreement. Thus we came very close to signing an agreement that would work for the reunification of the party. This is why a last recess was decided upon during which both sides could consult with Buenos Aires and propose their amendments formally. The majority came back with certain concretely formulated amendments and explicitly stated that they were willing to sign the draft. The minority, on the other hand, claimed on this last round that the “limitations” of the draft made it impossible for them to sign it and invited the sister parties to elaborate another text which overcomes the “limitations” of the “Athens Armistice”, a new text based on a real understanding of the nature of the crisis of the PO, which is that “La fracción es, en las actuales condiciones políticas, un gigantesco esfuerzo por salvar la unidad de acción partidaria, iniciar la recuperación política del Partido Obrero y rescatar también a miles de militantes del desasosiego y la desmoralización a la cual conducen el aparatismo, el electoralismo y el conservatismo derrotista.”

 

Thus, the Athens meeting did not achieve its immediate objective of stopping the escalation of the conflict within the PO and the menace of a full split in the party. This does not mean that the sister parties will not, in unity, pursue the aim of conserving the unity of the party through other methods. We value the PO too highly to quit our efforts towards preserving the unity of the party and creating an environment in which the existing differences can be discussed in more comradely manner.

 

Introduction

In Athens, Greece, starting on July 22 and ending at the early morning hours of July 25, 2019, took place the International Consultative Meeting of the Parties and organizations based on the Program of the CRFI 2004 Founding Congress to discuss the crisis in the PO with the presence of representatives of both tendencies in conflict, the National Committee newly elected in the 26th Congress of the PO and the minority tendency led by Comrades Jorge Altamira and Marcelo Ramal, now formed as an “International Public Faction of the PO”.

The call for that meeting was initially made on May 29, 2019 by the EEK(Greece) joined by the DIP (Turkey) and supported by all sections and sympathizers of our international revolutionary current all over the world. Both sides in the PO accepted it and took part in the meeting, the CN by the Comrades Rafael Santos, Guillermo Kane and Juan Garcia, and the Public Faction delegates Comrades Marcelo Ramal and Jacyn. Apart from the EEK and the DIP, it was present in the meeting also a delegation of the MTL, our section in Finland. The PT of Uruguay, although it fully agreed and supported the call by the EEK and DIP could not come because of the financial burdens of a trip to Europe in this particular period.

The Call in the Resolution of May 2019 clearly formulated the aims of this International Consultative Meeting: “This Emergency Meeting of the forces based on the CRFI’s program and fight would help, first of all by clarifying to all of us the political issues involved and possibly by tracing a way out in favor not of the one or the other tendency but for the benefit of the struggle of the Fourth International.

In this context we could also examine the serious accusations raised by Comrade Marcelo.

As at the end of June 2019, the crisis was dramatically aggravated, an urgent appeal by the DIP and the EEK on June 30 asked both sides to avoid accomplished facts, administrative measures, expulsions and above all a split of the PO making a temporary “ceasefire”, at least until the July international meeting in Greece. It concluded by re-stating: “If the PO has to suffer a split let it be for reasons of political differences, not organizational bickering!

It is in the framework of these clearly formulated political aims based on Leninist principles that the outcome of the July 2019 International Consultative Meeting in Athens should be judged, first of all.

 

Reports - Questions and Answers-Discussion ( July 22-23, 2019)

The International Meeting started on July 22 with reports, first by Comrade Rafael Santos, on behalf of the NC of the PO presenting its views and then by Comrade Marcelo Ramal presenting the standpoint of the Public Faction of the PO.

Later, a file with various materials was provided by the NC delegation, and as the Meeting was evolving, written statements summarizing the views and proposals of both sides, the NC and the Public Faction, they were distributed by them to all participants.

Comrade Sungur, on behalf of the DIP posed three important questions for clarification related to our Turkish Sections sensitivity and warnings on problems of pressures by petty bourgeois identity politics. What are the specific positions of the PO as a whole and between the two opposed sides on

  1. Feminism

  2. the LGBTQI+ movement, and “queer culture”

  3. the legalization of drugs, including the Party policies in relation to the use of drags by members of the PO. The picture in Prensa Obrera of a PO banner in defense of the legalization of marijuana came as evidence in the questioning.

 

No clear or convincing answers were received.

On behalf of the EEK, Comrade Savas put two main questions to both tendencies:

a. Are there strategic divergences between the two tendencies or not?

A delegate of the NC (Juan Garcia) stated that there are important political differences with the Altamira/Ramal Faction but not strategic ones; Savas asked if the three following differences, already mentioned by Juan in his intervention, are or not differences on revolutionary strategy:

  • Regarding the debate on the article by Jorge Altamira on ‘Panorama Mundial published both in En Defensa del Marxismo and later republished in World Revolution/Revolucion Mundial, the question if “the bourgeoisie has or not the strategic initiative” , is it a strategic question or not?

  • What is a dialectical connection between the world capitalist crisis and the class struggle , if the connection made by the Public Faction is “mechanical”?

  • The assessment on the relation between the world crisis of declining capitalism and capitalist restoration in Russia and China is important for a revolutionary strategy or not?

 

No proper answer was given.

Fromtheotherside, ComradeRamalemphasizedthatbehindthepoliticaldifferencesontheappropriatesloganstoberaisedin 2018 and 2019, anelectoralyear, ( “FueraMacri, AsambleaConsituyentelibreysoberana, GobiernodelosTrabajadoresversusFueraelregimendelFMI, quelacrisislapaguenloscapitalistas, porunasalidaobreraydelizquierda”) expresseddivergentstrategicpositions. Against the standpoint of the majority tendency, the Public Faction insists, first, that the world economic crisis produced a regime crisis in Argentina under Macri with the collapse of the peso and the intervention of the IMF, and, second that there is needed a constant agitation on the struggle for workers power, even in periods when the working class is not yet mature to fight to seize it.

Then, Comrade Savas raised a criticism and a question as a consequence of the previous answer: if the divergences were so deep and they have a strategic nature, whyboth conflicting tendencies have voted unanimously the International Perspectives Resolution of the 26th Congress of the PO, drafted by Comrades Pablo Heller and Rafael Santos? Is it or not our international analysis and orientation the basis of a revolutionary strategy? Trotsky insisted that without an international revolutionary strategy there is not a revolutionary policy in a single country, as it is impossible to have Socialism in a single country.According to the representative of the EEK this document includes weaknesses and errors, in some occasion serious ones, in its analysis and method.

b. The second question directly posed to the delegates of both sides of the PO by the EEK and fully supported by the delegates of the DIP and of the MTL, was why this crisis within the PO was kept secret so long from the other sister parties of the CRFI, until the last moment of its explosion in April-May 2019?

Comrade Dimitris Mizaras, the representative of the MTL of Finland – a founding Section of the CRFI from the 2004 Founding Congress- protested that even after the crisis in the PO was made public in May 2019, the only information about it came to them by the EEK, while the PO ignored them totally… In his protest he mentioned that the MTL was fighting in a country without Trotskyist tradition and always, after 2004, referred to the important role of the PO (This last point of protest by the MTL in the recent article by R.Santos, G. Kane , and J. Garcia, is misrepresented as if the Finnish Section was praising the PO today… But more on that article below)

Even now, after three days and half of intense and exhausting discussions, we do not have a clear idea when the crisis in the PO started: two years ago, as most of the time all PO delegates said, or from the defeat of the PO Presidential candidate in the PASO of 2015, as the NC delegates often were saying or even before that date? For instance once it was mentioned the year 2014….

Although some signs of crisis were vaguely perceptible to the delegates of the DIP and the EEK, when they participated in 2017, in the 24th and, especially in 2018, in the 25th PO Congress, we remained in ignorance from what happened behind the scene. In the International Conference of our current in Buenos Aires that followed the 25th National Congress of the PO in 2018, the PO representatives, who now are identified as representing the opposite sides in the Party, kept a monolithic united stand in front of their international comrades, hiding any existing or developing differences.

Even so late as in February 2019, just two months before the 26th PO Congress, everything was kept into the dark. In Istanbul, the DIP had organized a very successful, one day long, international conference for the Centenary of the Communist International, with a 400 strong attendance, including representatives of factories in struggle and speakers from eight countries, including speakers of the CRFI sections. The PO delegation, which, as we can only now recognize, was composed by representatives of the two opposite tendencies-Comrades Jorge Altamira and Pablo Heller- kept an absolute silence on the on-going crisis in the PO, reaching soon its climax. In the CRFI closed meeting, which followed the public meeting and after an open international meeting with the other foreign guests the PO leading comrades have not revealed or reported nothing to their international comrades, although reports from the sections were presented according to the agreed agenda. Only in two instances we were surprised by differences emerging between Jorge and Pablo: first, when every section proposed two members each for the Editorial Board of our international journal, and Comrade Pablo Heller proposed, on behalf of the PO, himself and Rafael Santos, excluding the obvious, for us, choice of Comrade Jorge Altamira; secondly, when we discussed how to sign our International Resolutions on the Working Woman Day and on Mayday, given the still open question of the name of our international current, to be named CRFI or not, the EEK had proposed a temporary conciliatory solution (Parties and organizations based on the program of the 2004 CRFI Founding Congress), which was accepted by all Parties delegates, including by Comrade Altamira but not by Comrade Heller, who asked to consult first his National Committee before agreeing...

These incidents that we can understand their meaning only in retrospect were superseded by another third and far more important: from the times of the Movement for the Refoundation of the Fourth International (MRFI) in1997 and of the Founding Congress of the CRFI in 2004, for the first time the Partido Obrero had not invited its sister parties in its National Congress to be held only two months later, in April 2019!We were asked only to send greetings for the occasion…

When the last important point was stressed in the Athens Meeting, both by the DIP and the EEK, after an attempt of denial, finally the only answer by the National Committee spokesman Comrade Rafael Santos was: “we had invited the... PT of Uruguay but they did not come!!” So? What that it does mean? Why they did not invite the DIP and/or the EEK in the 26th Congress, as they did in the past? Obviously because they were preparing to deal with the PO internal conflicts behind the back of the CRFI.

One of the main founding principles of our international revolutionary current struggling for the Re-foundation of the Fourth International from the 1990s- and one of its main feature of political attraction- was and is the rejection of the Stalinoid model of all other international sects claiming to be ‘Trotskyists” : a relatively bigger “Mother-Party” around of which are revolving as satellites or parasitical clones other minor national groups mimicking their “Mother-party”. The CRFI is not and it never wanted to become like the avatars of the fragmented Morenoism (LIT, UIT, FTCI etc). The CRFI cannot and should not be reduced into the PO plus some other smaller admiring groups of followers in other countries. Without disrespect to the historical legacy of the Partido Obrero, and with keeping intact our high admiration for its achievements, we consider the struggle for the revolutionary International as primary to any national consideration and more than the sum of its national parts.

This is the reason why we insisted in many crucial moments of the International Meeting in Athens to the questions raised by the EEK representative to all sides of the PO: Do they recognize the authority of that consultative meeting of the International Steering Committee of our international current, the body responsible to open and guide the road towards the next International Congress/or Conference ? Or they consider it as only a discussion club for scoring factional points on an international level destined for national use? Is the Athens International Meeting more than the sum of its national parts or not?

These questions, which remained without answer, have nothing to do with any attempt by us to impose the views of an International Steering Committee on the PO, as at one point Comrade Santos claimed. It has a lot to do, on the contrary, with what the international comrades of the PO, unfortunately kept to the dark for years about the crisis in the strongest section of our international current, consider as the problem at the core of the crisis in the Argentine Section: national-Trotskyism.

 

Third and Final Day ( July 24- early hours of July 25, 2019)

On the third and final day, first the CC of the PO and later the Public Faction presented their characterisation of the conflict and their indispensable demands for a solution to the crisis. This led the sister parties to formulate a minimal basis achievable within the remaining limited time so as to open the door to deliberations between the two sides in a more comradely atmosphere that, it was hoped, would iron out the major problems. The document for this minimal agreement, signed by DIP, EEK and MTL, was called the “Armistice of Athens”. This title had the express purpose of making clear to all that this document only aimed at stopping the escalation and de-escalating the severity of the conflict. Full peace was only achievable as a result of extended comradely deliberations between the two sides. If the title is not enough to make this clear, then we refer all to Article 4 of the proposed resolution:

  1. Having abided by these commitments and implemented fully all the measures that correspond to them, the two sides agree that in the new atmosphere of cessation of hostilities and improved comradely cooperation, they will try to develop all the additional measures that will reduce the dissensions within the PO and make it a functioning united party once again.

Furthermore, the representative of DIP who made a presentation in putting the draft resolution on the agenda explicitly stated that although not barely a “cease-fire”, which usually stops the ongoing conflict for a limited amount of time, this was nonetheless not a full “peace”, but simply an “armistice”, i.e. a cease-fire that included certain conditions that lay the basis for further deliberations between the two sides to make a peace.

This was the nature of the agreement proposed.

 

The report of the meeting on Prensa Obrera

None of this sequence of events is clearly exposed in the report of the Athens meeting published by Prensa Obrera by the majority. The text immediately delves into the different stages of the discussion that was conducted on the draft resolution, without dwelling on the previous stages. Then it goes back to the reasons why the meeting was convoked. There are different passages where the Public Faction is criticised on the basis of arguments that are all too familiar because the majority has made them, as is natural, so many times. Unfortunately, this is interspersed with comments and criticisms made at the meeting by the sister parties, i.e. EEK, DIP and MTL, so that the reader has the impression that all participants of the meeting concurred on the mistakes of the Public Faction, but did not direct criticisms to the majority. If the report by the three comrades of the CC had made a summary of all criticisms, directed not only against the Public Faction, but as well against the majority, the picture that would emerge would be very different.

When on the second day, questions were posed and criticism was made by the sister parties, the challenge contained in the questions and the criticism directed were sometimes to both sides simultaneously. And of the criticism directed to one side alone, an approximately equal number was directed to the CC alongside those that aimed the Public Faction. To cite two examples with respect to the first kind of question posed, the sister parties severely questioned the motivation of both sides in not even intimating, until the conflict exploded, at the conflict that had been shaking the PO for at least the last two years if not longer. No satisfying answer was forthcoming from either side. The sister parties also questioned the line that the party seemed to be pursuing with respect to feminism, the LGBT question and the entire problematic of drugs and again no answers were provided entirely satisfactory .

There is no need to go into examples of the criticism levelled on one side alone. Suffice it to say that both the EEK and the DIP have been questioning the declaration of the CC of the PO titled “Altamira y su grupo rompen con el PO” since the very first moment and later the concomitant instantaneous exclusions that have been handed down to a very high number of members at all levels of the party. Let us state one thing clearly: there was nothing skewed in favour of the CC and to the disadvantage of the Public Faction regarding the criticisms voiced by the sister parties at the Athens meeting. The two sides were criticised, sometimes together, sometimes separately, almost on the same level.

Not only does the Prensa Obrera report of the meeting give the wrong impression that the sister parties laid the whole blame on the Public Faction, but it also presents some of the concrete criticisms voiced in distorted manner. Let us cite one striking example. The report says at a certain point the following:

Entre los planteos de las organizaciones internacionales, el DIP destacó su rechazo al principio expresado por Jorge Altamira, contrario a basar la agitación política en una caracterización del estado de ánimo de las masas (“el oído pegado a las masas”), caracterizando esta posición como contraria al marxismo. Este debate ya viene desarrollándose al interior del PO mucho antes del Congreso y por supuesto, constituyó un eje también del mismo.”

This is a clear distortion. The representative of DIP said, almost word for word, the following:

Comrade Jacyn here cited many different struggles in order to show that there is a high level of activity and consciousness within the masses that would make an absence of a call for a constituent assembly and a workers’ government misguided and that would warrant the call for such demands. Why? Because the slogans and the demands of a revolutionary party cannot be decided independently of the consciousness and level of combativity of the masses. However, in the pre-congress debate, Comrade Altamira persistently asserted that holding the pulse of the masses is not necessary or even important for this purpose. This is against the method of Marxists from the methodological point of view. It turns its back to Lenin’s imperative for the concrete analysis of the concrete situation. Comrade Altamira is one of the most accomplished living Marxists internationally. That he should defend this kind of methodology in order to win an argument is not right. This is not the legacy he should be leaving to the younger generations.”

Why is the account of the Prensa Obrera report a terrible distortion? Because it makes the representative of the DIP say the exact opposite of what he said! The DIP representative said that Altamira was an “accomplished Marxist”. The report says his position is “against Marxism”! A report should be written in a an arm’s length distance style and worded more carefully. The report of Prensa Obrera is written to score points and to insinuate that DIP in this case and other sister parties in other cases side with the majority. This is not true.

It is not true not because DIP or EEK or MTL does not have a position on the debated questions. Each of them refrained during this meeting from putting forth their own assessment of the political debate that raged in the PO in order to concentrate their effort on creating a climate of confidence between the two sides and a commitment to rapprochement at a certain level.

Comrade Savas on behalf of the EEK said many times, that the EEK prepares a Resolution of its CC under the headline “The historical continuity of the struggle for the Re-foundation of the Fourth International”, dealing on the historical, theoretical and political roots and development of the current PO crisis in its international dimensions. This document after ratification by the CC of the EEK will be communicated to all sections and sympathizers of our international current for consideration. For the moment, the EEK found more urgent to support a common statement able to create the necessary pre-conditions for the continuation of the international discussion stopping the on-going destructive process leading to a premature split in the PO, with devastating impact on the CRFI, whose sections and militants, kept so long in the dark, were not at all ready at that moment for a real understanding of what was going on.

The DIP, on the other hand, has almost completed the work to form its position on the political questions that are the bone of contention in the PO conflict, as well as on more general matters of class struggle and the world revolution that are connected to those particular questions. However, it believes that the stopping of the escalation between the two sides is the absolute priority duty for the moment of the sister parties and will explain its political assessment when that situation changes.

The three sister parties, the DIP, the EEK , and the MTL did indeed try to remain in their attitude in an equally critical distance from the two sides in order to demonstrate that their first priority was to preserve the unity of the PO. There is no good to come from distorting this fact by making it seem that one or all of the sister parties sided entirely with the CC.

The criticism that we are making here is valid not only with regard to the general comments of the sister parties on the PO conflict but also with respect to the unfolding of the meeting. There are many instances with regard to the narration of the events in the Prensa Obrera report which are either factually wrong or misinterpreted. Let us cite several: first, the draft resolution does not advocate “the reintegration of all comrades to their corresponding organs” but only stipulates that those comrades who had earlier been appointed to “high-level commissions and committees” be so reinstated. Secondly, the report makes it seem as if it were the draft resolution that proposed the formula of “el nombramiento de apoderados comunes”. The problem is not whether this is a good formula. The problem is that the sister parties knew nothing of this new formula when the draft was formulated and would therefore be unable to propose it. The way the report says this in total carelessness may even suggest to the minority that the sister parties consulted with the CC before drafting the resolution. This would be a criminal idea given the extreme care the sister parties have shown in pursuing a very honest line of neutrality. Third the following remark is a clear example of trying to benefit from a criticism that EEK made of the attitude of the PO in its entirety in order to ridicule the minority:

Mientras en la reunión tuvimos la crítica al nacional – trotskismo, expresando la necesidad de que todas las organizaciones demos una prioridad al trabajo de construcción revolucionaria internacional, ¡Ramal propuso una doctrina para el “provincial trotskismo”!

The question, again, is not whether the criticism made by the CC against Comrade Ramal is valid or not. The question is the attempt to associate the sister parties to the criticism of the CC towards the minority, thus implying that the CRFI in general and the CC were at the same wavelength against the Public Faction. This is the major distorting leitmotif of the Prensa Obrera report.

Score your points elsewhere comrades, not when you are discussing a meeting that aimed at stopping the escalation of the crisis of the PO.

After the last break of the meeting to allow each delegation from the PO to discuss the proposed draft and to consult Buenos Aires, the delegates from the NC returned first proposing a number of amendments. For some of the other sister partties, particularly the EEK, these amendments had the same ultimatistic character as the first written statement. They amounted to the self-dissolution of the Public Faction putting itself unconditionally under the discipline of the National Committee.

 

The attitude of the Public Faction

Having said this, we believe that the attitude of the Public Faction towards the draft resolution at the end of the meeting obstructed too the possibility of the sealing of a preliminary agreement that would have created the basis for further deliberations between the two sides so as to strengthen the prospect of protecting party unity. We need to be clear on the following points.

1) It is an undeniable fact that Comrades Ramal and Jacyn agreed before the last round of consultation of each side with their comrades in Buenos Aires that the draft resolution could form the basis for an agreement. At the end of a very long recess that lasted more than an hour, probably an hour and a half, they came back with an attitude that excluded any further negotiations.

2) It is again an incontrovertible fact that in their intervention in this last round, Comrades Ramal and Jacyn did not propose any alternatives at any level, that is to say neither amendments to the single articles and paragraphs of the draft nor at the general level. They simply stated that there were “limitations” to the draft resolution that made it impossible for them to sign it. Theirs was not a constructive but an obstructive attitude to the sealing of a preliminary agreement.

3) Most of their objections do not stand critical evaluation and prove to be dubious excuses. Let us cite several examples. First, there are many factual mistakes in the criticism of the draft. Sometimes, this takes the form of putting into quotation marks words, thus making it seem that the draft resolution used words or phrases that it never did (“prohíbe una campaña electoral independiente y paralela que ataque las políticas del PO”, the word “prohibir” not existing anywhere in the text). Often it takes the form of asserting that in its wording the draft resolution accepts or assumes that what the majority says is true, whereas the draft text only makes binding statements about the future, never about the past. Many of the objections of the Public Faction of this sort are factually untrue. But there is an instructive case that proves that the draft resolution was written in good faith, not to accuse the minority but to establish a modus vivendi for the future. This is the point about “parallel organisations” (#3d). The wording was originally the following: “That the faction dissolve the parallel organisations in different fields of activity such as the workers’ movement, women, youth, etc.” The Public Faction objected saying that there existed no such parallel organisations. Despite the claims of the majority that evidence existed of such parallel organisations, during the last recess the drafting committee changed the wording as follows: “That the faction dissolve any existing parallel organisations in different fields of activity such as the workers’ movement, women, youth, etc.” This, in plain English, means that parallel organisations will be dissolved if they exist, a clear attempt not to bias one of the contrasting claims of the two sides.

Secondly, there are situations where the critique of the Public Faction makes the draft resolution say things it simply does not say. Take the following case: “El retorno a los ‘organismos donde militaban previamente’ no puede ser decretado.” But there is no such “ordering”. The draft resolution limits this explicitly to “high-level commissions and committees” and makes it

incumbent on the CC to reinstate leading comrades to those positions and says nothing about the responsibility of the comrades of the minority to return to those positions.

4) At least on two occasions the Public Faction shoots itself in the foot. The first instance is the question of the procedure to be adopted with respect to the so-called “spying” affair. Here is what the original draft says:

  1. That the demand of Marcelo to the Control Commission be admitted that the said body inquire into the so-called “spying” affair in an integral manner and that both sides agree that at the end of the intra-party legal proceedings, the steering bodies of the CRFI be notified of the outcome and decide whether they will intervene in this procedure as an instance of appeal.

First, it was Comrade Marcelo who informed the sister parties on the first day that he had personally made a submission to the Control Commission that as a prerequisite to his being investigated this body look into the affair of “spying”. So the first part is a repetition of Comrade Marcelo’s demand! Secondly, an “instance of appeal” means bluntly a “court of appeal”. “Instance” is a legal term, where courts of first instance are appealed to through courts of higer instance. So that language problems did not get in the way, a representative of DIP explained this clearly to all present. The distinction between a “court” and a “tribunal” is, at least in English, irrelevant for this purpose. So this is, in fact, the acceptance by the CRFI of the first demand made on it by the minority, when Comrade Marcelo Ramal wrote to the parties of the international current to demand a “Tribunal with international participation.” The only difference is the proposal that the draft resolution stipulates, prior to the international tribunal, the deliberation of the PO Control Commission on the issue. But is it that difficult to see through the intent of this provision? The draft resolution seeks to test the correctness of the attitude of the PO Control Commission when it is looking into this affair. So there is an additional advantage in the formulation of the draft resolution. And here is the version with certain amendments added during the last recess:

  1. That the demand of Marcelo to the Control Commission be admitted that the said body inquire into the so-called “spying” affair in an integral manner with the participation of two observers to be nominated by the faction with full rights of examination of all evidence, of participation in the deliberations of the Control Commission and the publication of its report at the end of the work of said commission and that both sides agree that at the end of the intra-party legal proceedings, the steering bodies of the CRFI be notified of the outcome and decide whether they will intervene in this procedure as an instance of appeal, with the right to present the results of its findings to the 27th Congress through the intervention of its representatives.

One would have to be blind not to see how seriously the sister parties have taken up the question of the “spying” affair.

The second example of the Public Faction shooting itself on the foot is the question of the 27th Congress (Article 6 of the draft). The Public Faction retorts that they need to prepare the entire schedule together with the majority. This is not in the least excluded by the draft resolution and is only a matter that is to be decided through the deliberations between the two sides after some confidence is re-established thanks to the resolution, now rejected by the minority. The import of this Article 6 is the following: (1) It defends the idea of a congress convened as early as possible. (2) It stipulates a kind of supervision on the congress by the CRFI. Both are guarantees that are offered to the benefit of the minority! So the objections to this article are simply incomprehensible. It must be added that this kind of early and supervised congress was never among the demands of the Public Faction, but was inserted in the text with the deliberate purpose of protecting the minority since it is a minority. This shows that the draft resolution is very serious in trying to defend the rights of the minority!

5) The criticism levelled at the article establishing an International Internal Bulletin is totally misguided. The minority expresses the demand that this be combined with their recognition as an international tendency, with full participation rights to participate in the life of the CRFI. This is a misplaced demand, as that debate has to be carried out in a much broader framework. The sister parties posed the question on the first day how it is that an international faction or tendency is formed without the simultaneous production of a document that justifies and explains such a formation, which is an absolute rule in the revolutionary Marxist tradition and understanding. No answer was provided to this simple but decisive question. So a demand that the two questions of an International Internal Bulletin, needed immediately as every participant agrees, and a much more complex question of an international tendency be combined is simply to create an artificial barrier.

6) However, all this is secondary. The real problem lies elsewhere. The document presented by the Public Faction starts out with the following assertion: “… considerado en su conjunto, [el borrador] presenta limitaciones insalvables para la superación de la presente crisis.” It explains what this means only at the end of the document. Here is what it says:

“… las limitaciones que hemos señalado no obedecen solamente a desinformaciones o errores formales. Estamos ante un abordaje formalista de la crisis del PO, donde, con disposiciones administrativas, se pretende llenar la ausencia de una comprensión real respecto de las cuestiones políticas y estratégicas que envuelven a este debate... La fracción es, en las actuales condiciones políticas, un gigantesco esfuerzo por salvar la unidad de acción partidaria, iniciar la recuperación política del Partido Obrero y rescatar también a miles de militantes del desasosiego y la desmoralización a la cual conducen el aparatismo, el electoralismo y el conservatismo derrotista. Los convocamos, en suma, a rever esta propuesta, y a elaborar un texto que supere las limitaciones del que han presentado en base a una real comprensión de la naturaleza de nuestra crisis.”

This is simply asking us, the sister parties of the PO, to accept immediately and unquestionably the views of the Public Faction! Nothing less!

The overcoming of the limitations of the draft resolution is here tied to a debate on the political foundations of the conflict that is shaking the party to its very roots and that was, at the meeting, freely characterised by all, including the faction, as “the crisis of the PO”. The intent of the draft document presented was to arrest the damage brought about by this crisis and internecine war, not to decide on who is right politically and organisationally. At this stage and in three short days, this was the only thing achievable. We therefore attempted, with the best of intentions and with no bias in favour of either side, to establish a halt to this destructive process. The delegates of the Public Faction opposed our approach. You cannot take such a negative stand after having said, as Comrade Marcelo did in very clear terms during the first discussion of the draft resolution, while he was proposing specific amendments to many of the paragraphs, that Article 4 is fine. No objection! This article defines the gist of the procedure of the Armistice that is being discussed. We quoted it above, but due to its importance we will quote it again:

  1. Having abided by these commitments and implemented fully all the measures that correspond to them, the two sides agree that in the new atmosphere of cessation of hostilities and improved comradely cooperation, they will try to develop all the additional measures that will reduce the dissensions within the PO and make it a functioning united party once again.

In nearly two hours’ time, after a long recess, Comrade Marcelo said that this whole approach wasvitiated.

To be clear, let us formulate the contrast between the two approaches in another way: the “limitations” that are claimed by the Public Faction cannot be overcome remaining on the terrain of a first international approach that establishes the basis for further rapprochement between the two sides under the aegis of the CRFI. The other organisations of our international current (the CRFI) refuse at the present moment, just at the first steps before a real political clarification within our international movement, to participate blindly in the on-going factional war, within the PO, or, in other words, by throwing the CRFI itself into the abyss of confusion and self-destruction.

So, the three organizations of the CRFI insist on their approach to the conflict: expressed in the document ( in its amended form by the DIP, EEK, and MTL after the first round of discussion) : First stopping the escalation of the crisis, then de-escalating it, then sitting down to find a less destructive method of debate so as to avoid a threatening split, at the same time as addressing the most burning questions such as “spying” in the most equitable manner.

 

Conclusion

The Athens meeting in July 2019 did not achieve laying the basis for the unity of the Partido Obrero and of creating an environment that could make a more comradely discussion between the two sides. However, even the unfolding of the meeting itself is testimony to the importance of such an internationalist approach to the question. During the meeting the two sides became much more attentive to each other’s arguments and a much more comradely atmosphere was born. Moreover, the meeting made the effort to take a preliminary step towards establishing an international framework both for the two sides as well as for the sister parties to deal in a constructive manner with the crisis in the PO. In this sense, it was the best thing possible to do for the PO and the CRFI since the conflict has erupted.

It is not true, according to our assessment, that the International Consultative Meeting in Athens was a “futile effort” or “just a failure” blaiming the one or the other side for this. It was not the end of the road but its necessary beginning.

We had reached a certain point where we could not go further- at this phase. So, it was accepted by all participants the proposal to have an International Internal Bulletin No 1, which will include all the written materials of the meeting: the two initial statements by the NC and the Public Faction, the two versions of the draft for an “Athens Armistice”( the initial one, and the one amended by the three organizations after the first round of discussion), the amendments to this last draft proposed by the NC delegation, and in the written form, the last oral intervention made by the delegation of the Public Faction and submitted as a text the next morning.

It is an important documentation for further political work.

The sister parties will not through the towel and, in unity, work towards re-establishing the unity of our strongest party, the Partido Obrero, and developing the struggle for the revolutionary International urgently needed by the world working class..

 

EEK (Greece), DIP (Turkey), MTL (Finland)

 

5th August 2019