Italy: Second Internationalist Meeting

The sessions were held in Milan on February 17 and 18. The event brought together a variety of forces, expressing important differences and limitations that prevent it from evolving into anything more than a forum of debate. However, it is also a meeting place for organizations that, without having previous political relations, defended very similar positions, openning the door to new regroupments, which is very positive. The International Socialist League (ISL) has been participating in this space, which has its next meeting scheduled for the first months of 2025 at a date and place to be confirmed.

By Hugo Tortorissi

The initiative and organization of these meetings has been in the hands of a committee made up of various Italian organizations: Lotta Comunista, which was hosted this meeting at its Bicocca Workers Club, the Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori, the Associazione Marxista Rivoluzionaria Controvento, ControCorrente, Rivoluzione Comunista and Sinistra Anticapitalista. This year’s convening slogan was “The central points of the struggle between powers: from Ukraine to Taiwan, from Africa to the Greater Middle East. For a class based response”. In the days before the event, written contributions were published in an internal bulletin. Twenty-five organizations from 12 countries participated, most of them European, from “the families of proletarian internationalism, Leninism, Trotskyism, left communism, anarchism and libertarian communism”.

The main debates centered on the characterization of China and Russia, the policy that revolutionaries should have towards Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine, towards Palestine and, more generally, towards national liberation struggles.

Old and new imperialisms

Our opinion on the inter-imperialist dispute for hegemony that exists between the decadent US empire, which, despite its weakening, continues to be the main global gendarme, and the new imperialist powers, with China at the head of a bloc that includes Russia and other capitalist countries, is well known. To deny the imperialist role played by China and Russia inevitably leads to ceding to them and feeding campism, which defends them as progressive forces in their confrontation with the US. The Partido Obrero (PO) and the Fracción Trotskista (FT), led by the PTS of Argentina, for example, fall into this theoretical and political mistake. These were the only two organizations that maintained at the Milan meeting that China and Russia cannot be defined as imperialist.

The FT, through its small Italian group (FIR), explained in academic terms that China is not imperialist and its transition to becoming imperialist is not yet complete, which would imply that, in the event of an open military confrontation with the US, they would surely support China, something they have affirmed in other debates. The PO representative talked gibberish, explaining that the process of capitalist restoration in these countries is not complete, which would imply that they are not even capitalist yet, but then asserted that they are, and that they are on their way to becoming imperialist, but then clarified that this leap has not yet taken place (sic). Complete nonsense!

Support for the Ukrainian resistance or defeatism in favor of Russia?

The biggest differences were made explicit in relation to the war between Ukraine and Russia. Several of the participants in the meeting characterize the war as Inter-imperialist – even those who argue that Russia is not imperialist! In their view, the right to self-determination of Ukraine does not exist or is completely secondary. This leads them to not support the just struggle of the Ukrainian people and propose to them that they lay down their arms instead of defending themselves.

The ISL has maintained, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, that two processes are combined in the war: the inter-imperialist frictions on the one hand and the just struggle of the Ukrainian people in defense of their independence on the other; and that any policy that does not take into account both elements ends up being mistaken. We reject the imperialist interference of both Russia and NATO in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. We have raised a policy independent of the liberal and anti-working class Zelensky government. But we uphold the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against the Russian imperialist invasion with all the resources at their disposal. This principled position led us to coincide at the meeting with the Italian comrades of the Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori (PCL) and the German and English comrades of the League for the Fifth International, since they defend the same characterization and policy that we do. It also allowed us to continue to deepen our relationship with the leadership of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of France, with whom we have agreements and a relationship of several years.

Palestine from the river to the sea, two states, or binational state?

The other important debate at the meeting revolved around Palestine and Zionism. Although most, not all, emphasized the need to continue building mobilizations in support of the Palestinian people and condemning the genocide that Zionism is perpetrating in Gaza, the agreements went no further than that. The interventions showed differences and confusions on various issues, mainly on what an ultimate solution for Palestine should look like. The PO put forward an uncritical view of the policy and methods of Hamas, the anarchists that no State should be built, others defended the policy of two states, but socialist ones, several others proposed a bi-national state based on the fraternization of the Israeli and Palistinian working classes. We explained that any solution that does not begin by proposing to destroy the Zionist State and build a single, secular, democratic, non-racist and socialist Palestine over its ashes, will not be possible. A proposal that will only be viable in the context of the extension of socialist revolution to the entire Middle East.

The national question

In discussing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Palestine, fundamental differences emerged regarding how to deal with the unresolved national conflicts and the struggles in defense of the right to peoples’ self-determination. Lotta Comunista raised a position that polarized the debate and that we completely disagree with. They stated that “national problems no longer exist”, so it is a mistake to support Palestine or Israel, since we should not cave in to nationalism and should instead put forward a socialist and internationalist perspective. In relation to this issue, the SEP of Turkey stated that national causes could be defended when the USSR existed as a counterweight, but that today we cannot be associated with the nationalists who lead national demands in different parts of the world. There were also proposals to leave behind aggressor-victim and oppressor-oppressed dichotomies in favor of applying defeatism in all times and places.

Our intervention refuted these reactionary proposals, explaining that the demands for self-determination and sovereignty of attacked or oppressed peoples are not opposed to the struggle for socialism and must be part of our transitional program. Turning our backs on the struggles for unresolved national demands felt by the masses makes it impossible to fight the bourgeois nationalists for leadership of the working masses and build strong revolutionary parties.

Positive assessment
The delegation of the International Socialist League was formed by Vicente Gaynor, Rubén Tzanoff and Alejandro Bodart, Coordinator of the ISL, who presented our points of view on the issues under debate. Assessing the meeting in his closing statements, Bodart stated that “the differences are significant, but it is positive to exchange opinions, and this facilitates the coming together of those of us who have similar positions or seek the regroupment of revolutionaries”. In our case, this took place with the comrades of the Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori, the League for the Fifth International and the NPA. He also welcomed the announcement of the holding of the III Internationalist Meeting next year, suggesting that “it would be useful for the next meeting to address debates related to how to fight the far-right, how to raise the revolutionary left as an alternative, and to discuss concrete processes of organization and intervention, for example, the FITU in Argentina, the Psol in Brazil or the NPA in France”.