The International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) held its Eighth International Conference in 2017, with delegates and non-delegate members attending from Europe, Oceania, Asia and North America. It provided an opportunity to reflect on work since our previous conference in 2014 as well as discuss present and future tasks and perspectives, participate in educationals and elect a new international leadership. The backdrop to our discussions and debates was increasing global turmoil: the war in Syria, NATO encirclement of Russia, U.S. threats against China, Erdogan’s authoritarian regime in Turkey, Brexit, the rise of European far-right parties and the election of Donald Trump.
The IBT has continued to produce Marxist analysis of major world issues, including imperialism, Syria’s civil war, Europe’s refugee crisis, racist cop murders in the U.S., Greece's Syriza government, the conflict in Ukraine, independence referenda in Scotland and Catalonia, the Brexit vote, Labour’s left turn under Jeremy Corbyn, the Bernie Sanders campaign, the election of Donald Trump and elections in Germany, Britain and New Zealand. We published a major survey of the legacy of Leon Trotsky three quarters of a century after his assassination and another commemorating the centenary of Red October.
During this period, IBT supporters have taken part in actions such as anti-fascist mobilizations in Britain and North America, struggles to uphold the rights of education workers and migrants and to commemorate homosexual law reform in New Zealand and the international campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
We have held and/or spoken at public meetings on important subjects, including the rise of Trump and the type of political party needed to advance the interests of the oppressed, and participating on a panel at a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco anti-apartheid longshore boycott, in which IBT supporter Howard Keylor played a leading role. One of the educationals at the conference centered on the history of class-struggle trade unionism among West Coast dockers in which IBT supporters have participated for many decades.
We remain a very small organization and since our last conference have lost and gained members in roughly equal numbers around the world. We have increased our social media presence through Facebook and Twitter, and our website has attracted increased traffic, particularly from individuals and organizations outside of Europe and North America. We have continued to actively pursue any possible opportunities for regroupment on the basis of sound programmatic agreement, including, for a time, some useful exchanges with the Corriente Obrera Revolucionaria, a South American split from the Trotskyist Fraction, although ultimately nothing came of this initiative. We sent an open letter to leftwing dissidents with-in the “Fourth International.” We have continued to polemicize with various ostensibly Trotskyist formations, including the International Communist League/Spartacists and their recent descent into neo-Pabloism on the national question, the Internationalist Group, the Committee for a Workers’ International and the International Marxist Tendency.
Despite the difficulties we face, we will continue to fight to uphold the banner of genuine Marxism and win new adherents to the struggle for socialist revolution. Our political heritage represents a vital and unique element in the revival of a mass international communist movement. Holding a conference in the centenary year of the October Revolution, we were acutely aware that the massive contradictions of global capitalism generating reaction and chaos are also the source of potentially enormous revolutionary opportunities. New generations of activists are emerging, unschooled in Marxism but also unburdened by the knee-jerk Cold War anti-communism of their elders. In a world where catastrophe often seems imminent, and the capacity of the current ruling elites to offer a brighter future is widely discredited, there are literally billions of people who could eagerly embrace revolutionary ideas. Vast numbers of alienated and disenchanted youth are more or less consciously looking for solutions to the multiple crises of capitalism and it is both necessary and entirely possible to help them discover the road of Lenin and Trotsky. It is this task to which we are dedicated.