The International Trotskyist Opposition (ITO) was an international organisation founded in 1992 dedicated to reconstructing Trotsky's Fourth International. It was an oppositional tendency within the fragmented international Trotskyist movement that emerged from the crisis of Trotsky's Fourth International. It saw its role within the Trotskyist movement as comparable with that of Trotsky's International Left Opposition (ILO) within the Third or Communist International. That is, it tried to politically clarify the mistaken policies of the existing leadership of the international Trotskyist movement while also trying to reconstruct the Fourth International out of the fragments.
The ITO itself was established via a series of splits, fusions and regroupments which involved many name changes within a period of two decades. This was a reflection of repeated attempts to break out of the margins of the international Trotskyist movement while preserving the integrity of Trotskyist principles. Those principles of working class internationalism are under constant attack from national chauvinistic pressures and the history of the ITO is that of an attempt to preserve them while striving to strengthen its forces on the ground.
The roots of the ITO can be found in a current within the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC) which was established as an international tendency in 1979 on the initiative of the British Workers Socialist League (WSL). The TILC split in 1984 after a disastrous attempt at fusion between the WSL and the British International Communist League (ICL). The Falklands War blew apart this British fusion as one wing defended "self determination for the Falkland Islanders" while another defended Argentine sovereignty over the Islands. A third grouping, led by Alan Thornett, described Argentina's invasion of the Falklands as a "reactionary invasion".
The Internationalist Tendency/Faction (IT/IF) was formed in the WSL by the pro-"Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas" wing in 1983, to change the line of the WSL on the Falklands War issue. This tendency was expelled from the WSL in 1983.
A key issue within the expelled group was: what to do next in terms of regroupment? That is to say, whether to orient to the much larger United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI), the smaller Latin American-based Tendencia Cuarta Internacional/Fourth Internationalist Tendency (TCI/FIT)) or the tiny Workers Power/MRCI. The TCI/FIT, which had been expelled from the Lambertist OCRFI in 1979, was notorious for characterisng the USFI as "counterrevolutionary" and for denouncing any attempts to intervene into it. Workers Power's attitude to the USFI was also sectarian and negative. Faced with these irreconcilably counterposed orientations, the discussions quickly became sterile. Essentially, the expelled group split after several months after failing to agree on a common regroupment orientation. Some members of the expelled British group established the International Trotskyist Committee (ITC) in 1984 together with co-thinkers in the US, Italy and Denmark. A few joined Workers Power.
The ITC still contained within it a wing that favoured an orientation to the USFI and another wing which opposed it. These two wings co-existed for 7 years on the basis of assessing the results after a period of time. The balance sheet of the 1991 World Congress of the USFI was perceived as negative by the anti-USFI wing of the ITC. An argument developed within the leadership about whether to continue to prioritise an orientation to the USFI or not. A grouping in the ITC's US section, the Revolutionary Workers League, which was pro-USFI, established a tendency, the International New Course Faction (INCF), in the summer of 1991. A split took place within the ITC in August 1991 and the INCF, together with co-thinkers in Italy, Denmark and Britain, established a separate international tendency, the Faction for the Trotskyist International (FTI), in Copenhagen in December 1991 based firmly on an orientation to the USFI. The FTI operated under the name of International Left Tendency (ILT) in the USFI—a name that the ITC comrades in the USFI had used since 1984.
The ILT gained, in 1991, a representative on the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the USFI. The FTI had a short existence: it became part of the broader International Trotskyist Opposition (ITO) six months later. The ITO was established at an International meeting in Florence, Italy in July 1992. This regroupment also involved a fusion with other oppositional USFI groupings in France (significantly the JCR-Egalite—one of the two French USFI youth sections), Britain and the US.
The ITO suffered subsequent splits and losses over the next few years as some of the newly won forces became disillusioned with prospects in the USFI in the aftermath of the 1995 USFI World Congress, but the original FTI core continued to intervene into the USFI under the name of International Left Tendency. The ITO's largest organisation, The AMR - Proposta in Italy, was expelled from the USFI section in 1994 over policy differences within Rifondazione Cominista and over the ITO's successes in winning the JCR-Egalite. The ITO subsequently met with increasingly bureaucratic obstruction from the USFI leadership leading up to the 1995 Congress. Because one of the ITO Italian comrades was a member of the USFI IEC, the ITO/ILT documents were circulated in some of the pre-congress discussion bulletins. Because the two ITO members (from Italy and Britain) at the Congress had not been elected as delegates from their sections they were only allowed observer status, which does not include no speaking rights.
This experience led the Italian members, now regrouped in Rifondazione Comunista as the Revolutionary Marxist Association (AMR/Proposta) to seek a new orientation towards the Argentine Partido Obrero (PO) and its other Latin American co-thinkers.
The 1998 ITO international conference in Rimini, Italy revised the FTI constitution adopted in 1992.
In early 2004, the ITO conference in Rimini voted overwhelmingly to dissolve itself into the Co-ordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International (CRFI) with PO and various other national organisations.
An example of this is was the crisis in the Brazilian Lula government. Miguel Rossetto, a Trotskyist and a member of one of the larger Trotskyist organisations, the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI), is the Minister for Agrarian Reform. In March 2006 he attacked direct action by the rural landless movement, the MST, implying his opinion.
The ITO opposed the entry of the USFI section into the Lula government at the USFI 2003 World Congress.
There exists an "International Left Tendency" which claims some continuity with ITO, orienting to the USFI from outside it, but it is unclear whether this tendency consists of more than one person.
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