The final in a three-part debate conducted within the pages of Marxist ultra-left journal Socialisme ou Barbarie on the nature of the trade unions. Translated by Corinne Chambers and published in English by Ninth Symphony Press (Collective Action) as 'Worker Autonomy: Debate on the Unions'.
The previous texts form our attempt to describe, as exhaustively as possible, the main workers’ struggles of 1955, in France, in England, and in the United States. It was not for their informative value that we gave them so much space, nor because of the number of people involved in these struggles, their physical combativeness, or the victories they snatched. Rather, it is because of the historical significance apparent to us in these struggles. For the reader of the previous pages, it is not a premature conclusion to say that in the summer of 1955 the proletariat manifested itself in a new way. It defined its own objectives and modes of action, raised the issue of autonomous organisation, and defined itself against bureaucracy, contrasting with it in a way that will have consequences in the future.
The harbinger of a new attitude from the proletariat towards bureaucracy was probably the proletarian revolt in East Berlin and East Germany in June 1953 against the ruling Stalinist bureaucracy. During the summer of 1955, the same division between the proletariat and the “workers’” bureaucracy clearly appeared in the main Western capitalist countries. The important thing is that it is, from now on, a conscious division. The proletariat goes beyond a refusal of bureaucracy by its inaction, beyond a passive understanding of the opposition between its interests and those of union and political leaders, and even beyond leading a struggle despite the bureaucratic line. It leads a struggle against bureaucracy itself (England, United States), or strikes as if the bureaucracy did not exist, crushing it to powerless insignificance by being massively and actively present (France).
A short flashback is necessary to put these events in perspective. A few years ago, ‘Marxists’ of all kinds were broadly in agreement actually to ignore the issue of the relationship between the proletariat and the “workers’” bureaucracy. Some considered that there is no proletariat outside of bureaucratised organisations, therefore outside of bureaucracy; others, that workers could only follow the bureaucracy slavishly, or else resign themselves to apathy, and that one should pick a side. Others still, being braver, pretended that workers had forgotten everything, that their class-consciousness should be re-educated. Different in its aim, though not in its practical consequences, was the paranoia of “orthodox” Trotskyists, for whom bureaucracy was only the product of a chance set of circumstances, assured to explode as soon as workers’ struggle began, which they could make happen simply by using good old Bolshevik slogans and offering workers an “honest” party and trade union.
We have always argued in this paper, against the conspiracy of mystifiers of all obediences, that the real problem we face nowadays is the problem of the relationship between workers and bureaucracy; that it is, for the proletariat, an unprecedented experience which will last a long time, given the fact that the “workers’” bureaucracy, strongly rooted in the economic, political and social development of capitalism, cannot collapse all of a sudden; that workers will necessarily go through a period of silent maturing, as it is impossible to use against bureaucracy exactly the same modes of action and organisational forms traditionally used against capitalism; but also, that this historically-necessary experience would lead the proletariat to definitively realize the forms of its organisation and of its power.
The development of contemporary society will be more and more dominated by the division and growing opposition between proletariat and bureaucracy, during which will emerge organisational forms allowing the workers both to abolish the power of different kinds of exploiters and to rebuild society on new principles. This process is still in its embryonic stage, but its first features are apparent nonetheless: the workers of East Berlin in June 1953, the steelworkers in Nantes, the dockers in London and Liverpool, and the car-factory workers in Detroit in 1955 clearly showed that they relied only on themselves to fight exploitation.
The significance of the strike in Nantes
In order to understand the workers’ struggles of the summer of 1955, especially the ones in Nantes, they must be put in the context of the development of the proletariat in France since 1945.
Contrary to the first period after the ‘Liberation’ of France, during which workers broadly follow the policy of bureaucratic organisations and especially of the Communist Party, we can see as soon as 1947-48 an ever-growing ‘unsticking’ between workers and organisations. From its experience of their manifest attitude, the proletariat gives a silent critique of the organisations, and translates this criticism in reality by refusing to follow their line unconditionally. This ‘unsticking’, this refusal, takes very distinct forms that follow one another in time:
1. From 1948 to 1952, the obstinate and total refusal of workers to follow the bureaucratic line is expressed through inaction and apathy. The strikes decided by Stalinists are generally not followed, not only when they are ‘political’ strikes, but even when they concern better conditions. It is not simple disheartenment; people are also conscious that workers’ struggles are used by the Communist Party and workers led away from their class interest in order to serve Russian policy. The proof of this is that, in the few cases in which a “unity of action” is made between the Stalinist, reformist and Christian unions, workers are quick to support it – not because they value this unity as such, but because they see it as evidence that a struggle will be ill-suited to bureaucratic ends and that workers won’t be divided between themselves.
2. In August 1953, millions of workers spontaneously go on strike, without any union directives for or against it. However, once on strike, they let the unions effectively lead it and the strike itself is “passive”; the cases of building occupations are extremely rare, and in strike meetings the grass roots very rarely express themselves apart from through their votes.
3. In the summer of 1955, the workers once again spontaneously strike, but they don’t stop there any longer. In Nantes, Saint-Nazaire, and other localities, they not only strike, and they not only occupy buildings: they go on the offensive, supporting their demands with an extraordinary physical pressure, demonstrating in the streets, and fighting against the CRS1 . They don’t let the union bureaucrats lead the struggle either: in Nantes, at crucial points of the struggle, they exert a total control over union bureaucrats by their direct collective pressure, to the extent that, in negotiations, these are reduced to acting as relays, or even mouthpieces2 , for the workers’ demands. The only leaders are the workers themselves.
It is impossible to confuse the different significations of these successive attitudes. What is common to them is their detachment from traditional leadership, but consciousness of the opposition between workers’ interests and bureaucratic policy, as it develops, is also demonstrated by the concrete behaviour of increasingly active workers. First expressed as a simple refusal leading to inaction, it was realised in 1955 by a workers’ action trying to control all the aspects of the struggle unmediated. This can clearly be seen by thinking about the events of Nantes.
People wanted to see the Nantes and Saint-Nazaire strikes as essentially a manifestation of workers’ violence, to either support or decry. Certainly we can, and we even should, start with the observation that workers’ struggles that reach such a level of violence are rare in periods in which the regime is stable. However, much more than the level of violence, what is important is how this violence was carried out, its orientation, and the relationships that it has described between workers on one side, capitalist state apparatus and union bureaucracies on the other. More exactly, the element of violence changed its nature and has carried the whole workers’ action to another level. The workers of Nantes have not acted violently on the orders of a bureaucracy – as it had been in some respect the case in 1948, during the miners’ strike3 . They acted against the union line. This violence was the sign of the permanent and active presence of the workers in the strike and in the negotiations, and therefore allowed them not to exert some control over the unions, but rather to outflank them in a totally unexpected way. There is no shadow of a doubt about the will of the union leaderships, during the whole time the strike lasted, to limit the struggle in time and in space, in the scope of the demands and in the methods used, to obtain an agreement as soon as possible and put everything back in order. However, faced with 15,000 steelworkers continuously occupying the streets, these irreplaceable “leaders” cowered; their “action” during the struggle is invisible to the naked eye, and it is only through miserable behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that they were able to play their role of sabotage. During the negotiations themselves, they were nothing more than a phone line, delivering to a negotiation table demands that had been unanimously formulated by the workers themselves – until the moment when the workers decided this phone line was useless and barged in the room.
Sure, we can’t ignore the deficiencies and negative aspects of the movement in Nantes. By actually outflanking the unions, the movement has not eliminated them as they are. There is a radical rejection of unions in the attitude of the workers of Nantes, as they do not trust them to formulate, negotiate, or defend demands, now preferring to rely on themselves. This total distrust, expressed in action, is infinitely more important than what these same workers could ‘think’ or ‘say’ at the same time (including how they might have voted in the last legislative elections4 ). Nevertheless, there are still some contradictions in the attitude of the workers: first of all, between the “idea” which appears in discussions and in union and political votes before and after the strike, and the “action” that is the strike itself. In the first instance, the union is at least tolerated as a lesser evil, but during the strike it is ignored. Even during the action, contradictions persist; workers are arguably both “before” and “beyond” the issue of bureaucracy: “before”, insofar as they leave the bureaucracy in place, do not attack it directly, and do not substitute their own elected organisations to it; “beyond”, because on the workers’ chosen field, a total struggle born of their permanent presence, the role of bureaucracy becomes minor. To tell the truth, they are very little preoccupied by it; stealing the stage, they leave bureaucracy to bustle about as it can behind the scenes, in a space which does not matter during the first act. The unions cannot yet be harmful; the workers are too detached from them.
This detachment arguably did not result in a particular form of organisation, independent of the unions; there is not even an elected strike committee to represent the strikers, be answerable to them, etc.
We can acknowledge several deficiencies; the point of doing so is limited. We can say that the movement has not reached a form of autonomous organisation, but that is because we have a certain idea of an autonomous organisation in mind. There is no organisation more autonomous than 15,000 workers acting unanimously in the streets. Some will say that by not electing a strike committee, directly answerable to them and revocable, the workers have left the unions bureaucrats free to manoeuvre. This is true, but ignores the fact that even with an elected strike committee, the workers would not have exerted more power than they exerted on August 17th5 , and that such a committee would then have been unable to do more independently than the unions did under pressure from workers.
The importance of such a committee would lie elsewhere: it could on the one hand try to extend the struggle outside of Nantes, and on the other, during the period of decline of the movement, allow the workers to better defend themselves against the manoeuvring of unions and bosses. We should not have illusions about the actual role it could have played; the extension of the movement depended a lot less on the call-outs that a Nantes committee could have launched and a lot more on many other conditions which were not met. The leading of negotiations during the declining period of the movement had a relatively secondary importance; it was the power struggle in the city which remained decisive even as it became less and less favourable.
It is far from us, obviously, to criticise the general principle of an elected strike committee, or even argue against it in the case of Nantes. We are simply saying that, in this last case, and given the level reached by the workers’ struggle, the importance of its action would have been secondary. If the workers’ action in Nantes was not crowned with a complete and utter victory, it is because it was placed in front of objective contradictions, which the election of a strike committee would not have removed.
The dynamics of the development of the struggle in Nantes had come to a contradiction which we define thus: revolutionary methods had been used in a situation and for aims which were not revolutionary. The strike was followed by the occupation of factories; bosses reacted by calling in regiments of CRS; the workers reacted by attacking them. Could this struggle go further? But what lay further? To seize power in Nantes? This contradiction would actually be made paroxysmal by the constitution of organisms which would inherently, in this situation, have some revolutionary content. A committee who seriously considered the situation would have resigned, or methodically started evicting the CRS from the city – with which perspective? We do not attribute this wisdom, which we gain by hindsight, to the contemporaneous workers of Nantes; we say that the objective logic of the situation did not give much rationale for an attempt at a permanent workers’ organisation.
This perspective existed, people will say: it was the extension of the movement. This is once again surreptitiously introducing one’s own ideas into an actual situation which does not conform to them. For the workers of Nantes, it was a local strike with a clear objective: the 40 franc6 pay-rise. It was not to them the first act of a Revolution, they were not in it for the long run. They have nurtured revolutionary means to obtain their demand – this is the very essence of our time; but this does not mean that the revolution is possible at any time.
People have still pretended that this extension was ‘objectively possible’. Certainly, if the bourgeoisie needed 8,000 CRS in order to resist, with great effort, 15,000 steelworkers of Nantes, we cannot see where it would have found the necessary strength to resist five million workers in the country. Yet, the fact is that the French working-class was not ready to enter a decisive action, and it did not enter it. The features that we have analysed previously are only clearly noticeable in the movement in Nantes. They only appear, in an embryonic stage, in a couple of other places and form a stark contrast with the absence of any movement in the region around Paris. When the workers in Nantes were on strike, Renault in Paris was a picture of dispersion and the insurmountability of the union leadership’s quiet sabotage.
To say, in these conditions, that the lack of extension of the movement is imputable to the attitude of trade unions means nothing. It is only to say that unions have done their job. Let Trotskyists act surprised and damn them. Let others understand that unions can only play their part, as long as the workers have not reached the necessary degree of clarity and decision to act themselves. If the Parisian workers had wanted to go on strike, would unions have been able to prevent them? Probably not. Some proof of that? Nantes.
There are, in the end, two ways to see the relationship between the action of the workers of Nantes and the inaction of the majority of the French proletariat. One is to insist on the isolation of the movement in Nantes, and from there to try and limit its wider relevance. This view is correct if it is based on an appreciation of the conjuncture: we must warn against adventurist interpretations and remind ourselves that the French proletariat is not on the verge of undertaking a total struggle. However, it is wrong if it revolves around the significance of the means of action used in Nantes, the attitude of workers towards bureaucracy, or the significance of what is being matured in the working-class. From this point of view, a revolutionary will always say: if the workers of Nantes, isolated in their province, have shown such a maturity in their strike, then the majority of French workers, and in particular the workers of Paris, will create even more developed, more efficient and more radical forms of organisation and action when they strike.
Acting as they did, as a coherent mass, as a democratic collective in movement, the workers of Nantes have for a long time realised a form of autonomous organisation which contains in embryo the answer to the question: what is the form of proletarian organisation able to overcome bureaucracy and the capitalist state? The answer is that, at an elementary level, this form is nothing else than the total mass of the workers themselves. This mass is not only, as people have tried to believe and make others believe for a long time, the shock force, the ‘infantry’ of class struggle. It develops, when conditions allow, some astonishing capacities of self-organisation and self-leadership: it establishes within itself the necessary differentiations of functions without crystallizing them into differentiations of structure – a division of tasks that is not a division of work. In Nantes, there were indeed some workers who were making ‘bombs’ while others were being liaisons, but there were no official or occult leaders. This ‘elementary nucleus’ of the workers’ mass proved it was up to the problems which it had to face, capable of mastering almost all resistances it met.
We do say ‘the answer in embryo’, not only because Nantes was a reality, not a model, therefore beside those features are others, translating the difficulties and failures of the workers’ mass – this is secondary for us, for whom what is most important in the current reality is what prefigures the future; but also because the limitations of this form of organisation through time and space and compared to universal and permanent goals are clear. Today, however, our object is not there: before we carry on, we have to assimilate the significance of what happened.
What conditions allowed the Nantes movement to reach this level? The fundamental condition was the almost complete unanimity of participants. This unanimity, the real workers’ unity, must obviously not be confused with the unity of action of Stalinists and Trotskyists. The latter, even when it pretends care for the grass-roots, is still just the union of bureaucracies; it existed in Nantes, but it was the result of workers’ unity and was imposed on bureaucracy by workers. Not that the workers ever spent a second caring about it, or ‘asked’ their executives to unite: they actually ignored them and acted unanimously. The bureaucrats then understood that their only chance to keep a minimum contact with the movement was to present themselves as ‘united’.
The workers’ unanimity was first manifested on the level of the demand they formulated. To this day, unless we are mistaken, no-one knows who came up with the slogan of a 40F pay rise for everyone. Not the unions, for sure; we would never find such a demand in their programmes. More than that, in its non-hierarchical character, the demand of the workers of Nantes goes directly against all the union programmes. The unanimity which was realised among workers with largely differentiated wages for the demand of a uniform pay-rise for all is the more remarkable for it.
Unanimity was also achieved on the means of action, and this throughout the strike: with each transformation of the ‘tactical’ situation, workers have spontaneously and collectively found the right answer, going from the indefinite strike and the occupation of factories to action against the CRS.
Unanimity, finally, was total on the particular role of workers: there is nothing to expect from anyone, except for what we can win for ourselves. ‘Anyone’ includes the unions and “workers’” parties: these were condemned as a whole by the workers of Nantes in their action.
This attitude towards bureaucracy is obviously the result of a deep objective experience of it. We cannot insist here on this point, which deserves by itself a long study. Let us just say that the conditions of this experience in France are described by one elementary fact: after 10 years of trade union ‘action’ and demagogy, the workers can see that they have only been able to limit the deterioration of their condition insofar as they went on strike. Let us add that the – admittedly partial – success of the movements of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire will cause a leap forward in this experience, because it gives another counter-example: these movements made the workers win, in a few weeks, more than 10 years of union ‘negotiations’.
The analysis of these conditions show that the form taken by the movement in Nantes is not aberrant, even less an echo of some ‘primitive’ features, but the product of factors which are to be found everywhere and show contemporary society the face of the future. The democracy of the masses in Nantes came from the workers’ unanimity; this in turn was the result of a consciousness of elementary interests and of a common experience of capitalism and bureaucracy, the premises of which are amplified every day by the action of the capitalists and bureaucrats themselves.
The common features of the strikes in France, England and the United States
A similar analysis to the one we attempted here would be necessary in the cases of the strikes of the English dockers and the American car-factory workers. It would allow us to find other characteristics of these movements which would also be rich and pregnant with consequence; to cite just one, concomitant to the development of capitalism and the proletariat is the growing importance of demands which are not about wages, primarily those relative to work conditions which raise the issue of workplace organisation and management. We cannot undertake this analysis here, but the reader will be able to refer to the articles about these struggles in previous pages.
We must, however, define the common features of all these movements. The main one is obvious: it is the open and militant opposition of workers to bureaucracy, it is their refusal to “let themselves be represented”. It took the most explicit form possible in England: the English dockers were on strike for seven weeks against union bureaucracy and no-one else. Just like the workers of East Germany in 1953, the English dockers attacked the – here, ‘Socialist’, there, ‘Communist’ – bureaucracy as a direct enemy. The attack was hardly less explicit in the United States: the car-factory workers’ strikes, following the agreements CIO-Ford-General Motors made on guaranteed annual pay, were certainly directed against the bosses as far as the content of demands expressed, but at the same time formed a resounding repudiation of union policy by the workers. They were equivalent to telling the unions: ‘You do not represent us, what preoccupies you does not interest us and what interests us, you ignore.’ We have seen, at last, that in France the workers of Nantes have ‘put aside’ the bureaucracy during their struggle or have ‘used’ it for some minor purpose.
Secondly, there is no sign of the bureaucracy being ‘outflanked’ by the workers in any of these movements. These struggles do not begin contained, as we say, in a bureaucratic structure from which they would develop and that they would end up ‘outflanking’. The bureaucracy is out of its depth – the movement is from the start on a different ground. This does not mean that the bureaucracy is abolished, that the proletariat evolves in a world where it cannot be found; it is still there, and its relationships with the proletariat are not only complex but confused. It is at the same time a proxy representative, an enemy, an object of immediate pressure, and a negligible entity. Yet there is one thing it is not any more: the accepted and followed leadership during strikes, even when they start. The Trotskyist concept of outflanking (theorisation of Lenin’s practice against social-democracy and in particular of the experience of 1917) presupposed that the masses start on the same ground as the ‘traitor’ leaderships and stay under their control until the experience obtained – thanks to the revolutionary party – during mass movements frees them. However, contemporary experience – of 1955, first of all – shows that the masses go into action from an experience of bureaucracy pre-dating the action itself, and independently from bureaucratic direction – if not even against it. Bureaucracy has now obtained an objective existence as an integral part of the exploitation system. Menshevism in 1917 was only a discourse; Stalinism, the Labour movement, and the CIO are, to some varying extent, powers.
Consideration should therefore be given to a third fact. From 1923 to 1953, revolutionaries were reduced to powerlessly watching a vicious circle. The working class could only definitively get the experience of the bureaucratic leaderships during movements, but the very existence and the power of these bureaucracies meant that movements did not start, that they were defeated, or that they remained under bureaucratic control throughout. This is not a theory, but the condensed and accurate description of the last thirty years of the history of the workers’ movement. The very existence of Stalinism and its influence, for example, prevented the experience of the proletariat during a crisis from getting any revolutionary direction. That people say it was due to the absence of a revolutionary party does not change anything: Stalinist power meant the suppression of the possibility of a revolutionary party, first of all by the physical suppression of its prospective membership7 .
The struggles of the summer of 1955, however, are a first sign that this vicious circle has been broken. It was broken by the action of workers from an accumulated experience, not so much of the role of bureaucracy as the ‘traitor’ leadership of revolutionary struggles, but of its everyday activity as the warden of capitalist exploitation. For this experience to develop, it is not necessary for the bureaucracy to gain power; the economic process on the one hand, and the elementary daily class struggle in the factory on the other, pushes it inexorably to integrate itself with the system of exploitation and reveals its nature to workers. As much as it is impossible to found a revolutionary organisation by explaining the Stalinist betrayal in China of 1927 to French workers, it is possible to do it by helping them organise their daily struggle against exploitation and its instruments – trade unions and ‘workers’’ parties.
What conclusions can be drawn from this analysis, concerning the problem of the organisation of the proletariat and the vanguard?
The strike in Nantes, just as the English dockers’ strike, shows the adequate form of organisation of workers during the action. We will not repeat what we said about the contents of this form, or about its eventual limits. Nevertheless, by the very nature of things and until further notice, such forms are not and cannot be permanent under the capitalist regime. The problem of the organisation of workers’ minorities during times of inaction remains. It presents itself, however, in a very different way.
We must first acknowledge that the degree of maturation which has been revealed by the struggles of 1955 prevents us from raising the problems of ‘demands’ and the ‘political’ problems separately from one another. It has been a long time since we learnt they are objectively indissociable. They will grow more and more so in the workers’ consciousness. An organised minority in a workplace, be it in the form of a protest committee, a group organised around a workers’ newspaper, or an autonomous union, will have to clearly point out this unity from the start. We do not mean by this that it will have to carry out the Trotskyist conjurations, in which the general strike and the revolution appear from the demand of a five-pence pay rise like a rabbit from a hat. On the contrary, it will have to avoid them meticulously and condemn, if they appear, the clowns who play these tricks. 999 times in 1000, a strike for five pence is a strike for five pence and nothing more. More precisely, its potential does not come from the fact that it would lead to a struggle for power, but from the fact that it clashes, in a way or another, with the apparatus of capitalist exploitation specific to the factory and embodied by the ‘workers’’ bureaucracy. Organisation to fight against it is impossible if we do not highlight its nature as a holistic phenomenon, at the same time economic, political, and ideological. Simultaneously, the workers cannot traverse the multiple contradictions that the fight for even the simplest of demands within decadent capitalism presents – contradictions which we have pointed out earlier in the example of Nantes – if they do not place their struggles in a more general perspective. To bring this perspective is the essential function of organised minorities.
We must also understand that, even in elementary struggles, organised minorities should help the birth of collective and democratic forms of organisation of the mass of workers, such as that seen in Nantes: forms of organisation which have already proven themselves to be the only ones that work, and that will increasingly be the only ones possible.
- 1CRS Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité. Riot police. [Translator's Note]
- 2We refer here to the ascending phase of the movement: its decline meant a certain “taking control back” from the bureaucrats – very relative still.
- 3There was then, in some places, real civil war operations between the miners and the police [Author’s Note] From E. Shorter and Ch. Tilly, “Strikes in France 1830-1968” p.138 : “In September 1948 the government issued decrees affecting in various ways the job status of miners. Thereupon the CGT’s Federation of Miners polled the members about calling an ‘unlimited strike’ in response. The nationwide mining strike commenced 4 October and dragged on until the miners straggled back to work late in November, involving the occupation of the northern coalfields by the army, stretches of violent disturbances and a bitterness on both sides remembered vividly even at this writing. Nine-million man-days of work were lost in the strike, three-fourths of the national total in1948. At least 50 sympathy strikes took place in other sectors alongside the mining general strike; though contributions to the strike fund came in from all over France and Europe, the dispute failed completely […].” [TN]
- 4In the legislative elections of January 2nd, 1956, the last of the 4th Republic, the French Communist Party is once again the most important political party, with 25.4% of votes and 150 seats. The Poujadists, a Nationalist protest party gets 12.6% of votes (52 seats). [TN]
- 5Yves Rochcongar, in his article “The Steelworkers’ Strike in Nantes in the Summer of 1955” (in Agone, n°33, pp. 83-91, 2005) gives this account of the events of August 17: “The negotiators have joined, in the presence of the Departmental Work Chief Officer, at the headquarters of the employers’ association [...], a few metres away from the trade union headquarters. Hundreds of striking workers have gathered and are getting impatient. In the early afternoon, demonstrators occupy the employers’ headquarters, ransack the offices, force the negotiators to take refuge on the first, then on the second floor. ‘In this climate of violence and constraint’ (as they will phrase it on the same evening in a communiqué), the bosses accept [...] to grant the 40 fr. pay rise. A CFTC [Christian union] delegate, Gilbert Declercq, takes the precaution to ask whether this agreement made in such conditions will be valid : he is told it will be. The workers’ joy is short-lived. At 10 pm, in the police headquarters, the employers’ delegates ‘solemnly declare that the document bearing their signature is made void under articles 12 111 and following of the Civil Code’. On top of this, a lock-out of factories is pronounced.” [TN]
- 6Around 67 pence in 2012, considering changes in the cost of living. [TN]
- 7On top of this, the Trotskyist defenders of this position could well ask themselves – for once – why such a party was not able to constitute itself for 30 years. They would then be brought back to the previous question.