Popular Fronts vs Proletarian Revolution: Russia-Spain-Sri Lanka
(Two presentations given at the Permanent Revolution Group Winter School, Wellington, New Zealand, 19-20 August 1989)
Permanent Revolution Group (New Zealand), May 1993
The question of the popular front continues to pose decisive tests for all political tendencies claiming to be revolutionary. In New Zealand in 1993 this question has immediate practical significance with the existence of the "Alliance". This coalition of the New Labour Party with the minor-league parties of New Zealand capitalism today presents itself as a mild-left alternative to the rampant Thatcherism of the current National Government; but in reality the Alliance can only be a roadblock to the development of militant working-class struggle in this country, for the political action of those workers who follow it is, from the very start, strictly limited by the presence of the likes of the procapitalist Democrats and its demands for bourgeois "respectability".
Sections of the presentations which follow consist of polemics against an Auckland-based organisation, the Communist Left (CL). In early 1991 the CL abandoned its informal affiliation to the openly anti-Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (RCP) and fused with the centrist "League for a Revolutionary Communist International" (LRCI); the CL is now known as "Workers Power (New Zealand/Aotearoa)". Recently Workers Power (NZ/A) declared itself willing to call on workers to vote for the Alliance in the 1993 elections: it has said it will call for a vote for those NLP and Mana Motuhake candidates standing under the Alliance banner, if those two parties become sufficiently popular.1
With this important betrayal of Bolshevism, Workers Power shows that it remains, as was its Communist Left forerunner, firmly within the tradition of Andrés Nin's POUM, which in the 1930s, despite its intentions, facilitated the defeat of the Spanish workers and peasants against Franco's fascists through its inability to break decisively with the Spanish Popular Front. The path towards workers' revolution has frequently been obstructed by centrist tendencies who offer rhetorical opposition to class-collaborationism in the abstract, but who in the concrete give political support to particular popular-front coalitions. The Permanent Revolution Group - since 1990 the New Zealand section of the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) - believes that the struggle for the exposure of such opportunism remains a critical component of the fight for communist leadership.
For the present edition of this pamphlet we have made a number of minor alterations to spelling, punctuation and subheadings, and made several typographical corrections. We have also made minor changes to footnotes, usually for the purpose of providing fuller references.
Posted: 24 June 2005