Friday, October 26, 2018
Surrealist International in danger?
Grandizo Munis was a Spanish Trotskyist militant who broke with the Fourth International in 1948 and formed his own little group, known as FOR (Fomento Obrero Revolucionario). From what I heard, FOR was Left Communist, but with certain tendencies towards anarchism. There is very little material on Munis available in English, at least I haven´t seen much. “Socialism on Trial” includes a criticism by Munis of the SWP´s conduct during the Minneapolis trials, penned during his Trotskyist period. Then there is the material under review here, the pamphlet “The Fourth International in Danger” published by the otherwise unknown Greenleaf Press. It contains documents from 1944-48 written by Munis and his co-worker Benjamin Péret alias Peralta, apparently one of the founders of the Surrealist movement in France. What makes the documents sensational is that Trotsky´s widow, Natalia Sedova-Trotsky, decided to support the small dissident faction, at the time based in Mexico among Spanish exiles. Two of the documents reprinted in this pamphlet were written by Natalia Sedova, and one other is co-signed by her. The pamphlet does not include her letter of resignation from the Fourth International, since she apparently resigned later than the Munis-Peralta group. Nor is it stated when the pamphlet was published. A small group of FOR supporters apparently existed in the United States around 1980.
The Munis-Peralta group, at least in their 1944-48 incarnation, still claimed to be Trotskyist and Leninist. Their criticism of the Fourth International leadership is eclectic. It blends “sectarian”, anti-Stalinist and vaguely libertarian socialist positions. The FI leadership is sharply attacked for its alleged attempts to suppress dissent within the International, the Munis group instead calling for extensive rights to form tendencies and factions. The Soviet Union should not be defended, Stalinism and its Red Army being counter-revolutionary through and through, and no different from the Western alliance. Nationalizations have become anti-proletarian, in effect expropriating the working class, and cannot therefore be supported either (presumably this refer to nationalizations carried out by capitalist or Stalinist-dominated states). A united front with Stalinists and Social Democrats is out of the question, Munis and his collaborators rejecting the slogan of the French Trotskyists for a CP-SP government. All forms of entryism into reformist or Stalinist parties is also rejected, and the Munis group actually claims at one point that the European proletariat is highly conscious and revolutionary, simply looking for a chance to support an unsullied revolutionary leadership! Eh, come again? On the “opportunist” side of things, the Munisites actually call for an alliance of all left-socialist groups which are opposed to Stalinism and Social Democracy! The group´s position on Surrealist art is never stated, though…
I think Munis and Péret must have realized at some point that their criticism of the Fourth International made little sense from within a fundamentally Trotskyist worldview. Their anti-Stalinism was of a more “democratic” nature than that of the FI, while other positions sound more ultraleftist. Also, Munis clearly had no respect for the leaders and militants of the FI majority (including the SWP), his polemic frequently being sarcastic or over-the-top. At one point, he says that the SWP might just as well support the Western side in a coming conflict with the Soviet Union, such is their political confusion! I get the impression that Munis-Peralta were already on their way out when they wrote these documents. Nor is it surprising that they eventually ended up on the anarchist-Left Communist side of the political spectrum.