In The Death Agony of the Fourth International, Workers Power snootily remarks, “The fighting propaganda group is not, for the Spartacists, a vehicle for programmatic re-elaboration (they do not do any)....”192 Workers Power’s own “creative re-elaboration” of Trotskyism leads them quite far afield. Having pronounced the death of the Fourth International due to terminal political degeneration and calling for a new, undefined “revolutionary communist international,” Workers Power has also rejected the program of Trotsky’s FI. In a 1988 article WP honcho Mark Hoskisson called for “re-elaborating the Transitional Programme” on the grounds that since it was written “much has occurred that Trotsky’s programme neither foresaw nor prepared for.”193
But this is no mere “updating.” Hoskisson’s article rejects the key premise of Trotsky’s strategy of world socialist revolution, which was also that of the Communist International in the days of Lenin, to wit:
The economic prerequisite for the proletarian revolution has already in general achieved the highest point of fruition that can be reached under capitalism. Mankind’s productive forces stagnate.194
Yet, claims Hoskisson, “in the metropolitan countries the second imperialist war was followed by an unprecedented economic boom for almost twenty years.” Judging that Trotsky “and the FI as a whole” had “an inadequate understanding” of political economy, this arrogant twit proclaims: “Now, with the reality of the post-war boom behind us, only an idiot, or perhaps a charlatan like Gerry Healy, would describe Trotsky’s categorical declaration as correct.”195
We demonstrated two decades ago that the “long postwar boom,” with its periodic crises, is a revisionist myth.196 But the statement that the productive forces had ceased to grow was not a conjunctural prognosis, it was a characterization of the entire imperialist epoch and the basis for the Fourth International’s program for world socialist revolution. Trade unions “can no longer be reformist,” wrote Trotsky, “because the objective conditions leave no room for any serious and lasting reforms.”197 WP, in contrast, claims that the alleged “boom created the conditions for the resurgence of social-democratic reformism.”198 Trotsky argued that “the independence of the trade unions in the class sense, in their relations to the bourgeois state, can, in the present conditions, be assured only by a completely revolutionary leadership, that is, the leadership of the Fourth International.”199 Workers Power calls instead for “developing the tactic of the rank and file movement” as “the united front in the unions.”200
The Hoskisson article solidarizes with Felix Morrow, who led a rightist social-democratic opposition in the SWP after World War II. While Morrow’s immediate economic prognosis turned out to be more accurate than Cannon’s prediction of imminent economic crisis, he derived from this a program of democratic demands. Similarly Hoskisson calls for a “strategic retreat” in the postwar period:
The failure to carry out a “strategic retreat” for the imperialist countries by formulating a policy for the unions was mirrored by the failure to re-elaborate the programme to deal with the resurgence of reformism....In place of the Transitional Programme’s general denunciation of reformism a programme of action utilising the tactics of the united front was required.201
Hoskissen then claims that the absence of such a program for a “united front with reformism” was the problem in the Belgian general strike of 1961 and in France 1968. But contrary to the WP myth of a “long boom” filling the sails of reformism and requiring a “strategic retreat” into united-front tactics, what was lacking in Brussels in 1961 and in Paris in 1968 was precisely a revolutionary program for the struggle for power!
Rejecting the Transitional Program’s central premise and its central conclusion, Workers Power launches a frontal assault on the founding document of the Fourth International as a program preparing the revolutionary struggle for power. In its stead WP elaborates a “method of transitional demands” leading to a “system of workers control”—that is, dual power in the factories—while relegating socialist revolution to the sweet by-and-by. “Transitional demands... could introduce a reformist led proletariat to the very need for revolution,” writes Hoskisson, and at some later date, when “the working class, or its vanguard, are fighting in this manner, the transitional programme will be transformed into the programme of soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat.”202 Wrong. The Transitional Program was written as the program for achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat. As Trotsky wrote, transitional demands are to organize the struggle of the proletariat leading it to the conquest of power: “It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demands and the socialist program of the revolution.”203 While the demise of the Soviet Union and the tendency toward the de-industrialization beginning in the older imperialist powers necessitate certain revisions today, the Transitional Program’s central premises and conclusions remain sound.