Tag Archive: power


Ukraine Fraudsters Again – A Message from the LRP

League for the Revolutionary party
April 2014


Reports on the events in Ukraine in recent months have mentioned three activists whose names some readers may recall: Oleg (Oleh) Vernik and Zakhar Popovych in Ukraine and Ilya Budraitskis in Russia. In the early 2000s, while members of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), they conspired to assume multiple fake personal identities as representatives of several fictitious socialist groups in Ukraine. Under these disguises they posed as supporters of a number of far-left groups in North America and Europe, from whom they stole funds, time and other resources. Their crimes further corrupted the reputation of a socialist movement already burdened by mistaken association with the heinous crimes of Stalinism.

We reported on this political and financial scam in CWI Group Guilty of Ukraine Fraud (Proletarian Revolution No. 69, Winter 2004), and we posted personal identifying information at Photos of the Perpetrators on this website. A list of many other articles on the affair at the time is at Statements from various sources on the Ukrainian fraud (wwww.bolshevik.org). A summary of the fraud, the CWI’s response and the current activities of these perpetrators was recently posted on the website of the Greek organization Communist Revolutionary Action. See Maidan and Ukranian Story of a Lasting Fraud.

The perpetrators of the fraud have not to our knowledge ever issued any explanation of, or apology for, their political, personal and financial dishonesty. Today Vernyk is chairman of the All-Ukrainian independent trade union “Zakhyst Pratsi” (Labor Defence). See tradeunion.org.ua. Budraitskis belongs to the Socialist Movement of Russia, which is affiliated with the organization long known as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USec). See for example his article Ukrainians fighting for a better society.

Popovych belongs to “Left Opposition” in Ukraine whose views are also disseminated by the Usec’s magazine International Viewpoint. See A mass revolt for democracy. He also made a widely reported visit to London where he spoke about the Ukrainian events. See for example Russian and Ukrainian socialists speak out. A video of Popovych speaking at a public meeting at the House of Commons is at Crisis in the Ukraine (House of Commons Meeting) – Videos. By comparing this video with the photos of Popovych in the original articles about the fraud, one can see that today’s activist is the same person as yesterday’s fraudster.

We warn the left in Ukraine and around the world: these people are not to be trusted in their political, organizational and financial adventures.

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InjusticeThe VOAG has been concerned for a long time at the actions of PCS union members who work at Employment Centers. Many of the members of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists – a local, independent,  left unity project, which the VOAG supports – have been unfairly treated, bullied and victimized by the staff. They have had their only source of income taken away from them on the whim of apparent union members who later go on strike and demand “working class unity and support”

The VOAG was pleased to read the article below, dealing with this very question on the Socialist Unity blog, and re-publishes it here.

 The role of PCS members in the bullying of benefit claimants

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are engaged in the widespread bullying and intimidation of benefit claimants in Job Centres up and down the country. The evidence can no longer be denied and the union’s leadership must now take steps to educate its members that solidarity is more than just a word on a leaflet during a PCS pay dispute, or else face the accusation of collaborating with the government’s vicious assault on the most economically vulnerable in society under the rubric of austerity.

The upsurge in the number of claimants having their benefits sanctioned for increasingly minor infractions correlates to the upsurge in the demand for the services of the nation’s food banks. This shocking revelation was contained in a report by MPs in January, the result of an investigation by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which called for an independent review into the rules for sanctioning claimants to ensure that the rules are being applied “fairly and appropriately”.

Among its findings the report stated: “Evidence suggests that JCP staff have referred many claimants for a sanction inappropriately or in circumstances in which common sense would dictate that discretion should have been applied”.

The report continued: “Some witnesses were concerned that financial hardship caused by sanctioning was a significant factor in a recent rise in referrals to food aid. The report recommends that DWP take urgent steps to monitor the extent of financial hardship caused by sanctions”.

The majority of Jobcentre staff are members of the 270,000 strong PCS, the sixth largest trade union in the country, which represents thousands of Britain’s civil servants and public sector workers. The PCS has been a strong critic of the coalition’s austerity policies, making the case for an investment led recovery from recession and calling for mass opposition to spending cuts that have ravaged the public sector and been accompanied by a concerted campaign of demonization of the unemployed and economically vulnerable that is unparalleled in its viciousness. This only makes the role some of its members are playing in intensifying the hardship faced by the unemployed and people on out of work benefits even more deplorable.

It is unconscionable that any trade union would allow its members to engage in the wilful and systematic sanctioning of benefit claimants without offering any meaningful resistance. It flies in the face of the very principle of social solidarity that is the cornerstone of a movement founded on the understanding that the interests of working people – employed and unemployed – are intrinsically the same.

The human despair not to mention humiliation being inflicted on people in the nation’s Jobcentres is evidence that the Tory campaign of dividing working people section by section has borne fruit. It has reached the point where the oppressive atmosphere found in your average Jobcentre is on a par with the oppressive atmosphere associated with a district or sheriff court. Job seekers are not criminals and those sanctioning them so readily are not parole officers, yet you could be easily mistaken in thinking they are after spending just a few minutes in a Jobcentre anywhere in the country.

Enough is enough.
This culture of bullying, harassment, and intimidation against the unemployed must be confronted by the leadership of the leadership of the PCS as a matter of urgency. By no means are all PCS members working in Jobcentres guilty of this shameful practice – indeed many are low paid workers reliant on various benefits to survive themselves – but enough are involved in the practice to leave no doubt that we are talking about an institutional problem rather than the actions of a few rotten apples.

Many of those being sanctioned are being trapped due to mental health issues or language issues making them more vulnerable to violating the plethora of rules regarding the obligations they must fulfil when it comes to searching for work. Many are being sanctioned for turning up five minutes late to a scheduled appointment, regardless of the reason why. In some cases suicide has been the result.

You would hope that the leadership of the PCS would at least acknowledge the despair their members are inflicting on the most economically vulnerable people in society. You’d be wrong. In an article which appeared on the PCS website back in February, addressing the volume of criticism being levelled at the DWP over sanctioning, the union denied culpability in the process. On the contrary they assert in the article:

PCS believes our members do the best job they can in very difficult circumstances. Rather than face criticism, this work should be recognised and valued by management and they should start by ensuring a proper pay increase for DWP staff in 2014.

Any trade union member who allows him or herself to be used as an instrument to attack the poor and the unemployed is deserving of contempt. And any trade union leadership that fails to act to prevent it happening is reactionary.Voag-Logo-34

InjusticeThe Queen and Prince Charles are using their little-known power of veto over  new laws, according to Whitehall documents.

The Telegraph, January 2013.

At least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay and child maintenance.

Internal Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that on one occasion the Queen vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, which aimed to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament. She was also asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

In the Whitehall document, which was released following a court order, the Parliamentary Counsel warns that if consent is not given by the royals “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

Legal scholar John Kirkhope, who fought to access the papers following a freedom of information case, said the document revealed senior royals have “real influence and real power”. “There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, and totally unaccountable,” he said.

The document also contains a warning to civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation. Royal approval may even be needed for amendments to laws, it says. Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, said the findings showed the Royals “are playing an active role in the democratic process”. He called for greater transparency in order to evaluate whether the powers were “appropriate.” “This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a  ceremonial role,” he said.

“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process   and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised   of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”

The power of veto has been used by Prince Charles on more than 12 government bills since 2005 on issues covering gambling to the Olympics.Voag-Logo-34

SF Logo2The Marxist theory of the state:
Deformed and Degenerated Workers’ States and Capitalist States

From Socialist Fight (British Section, Liaison Committee for the Fourth International) 
The post WWII debate in the Fourth International of the late 1940s and early 1950s on the class character of the ‘Buffer States’ in Eastern Europe was resurrected in 1989-92 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR following the Yanayev coup and Yeltsin’s counter-coup of August 1991. We will see from the struggles we have outlined below that the Stalinist bureaucracies became divided into three camps following the defeat of the Brezhnevites by Gorbachev in 1989; those Gorbechevites on the left who wished to retain the degenerate and deformed workers’ states by opening up the economic plan by glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), those in the middle (Yanayev and Deng in China) who sought the restoration of capitalism by slow, planned measures, maintaining the Stalinist bureaucracy as the vehicle of restoration and those on the right like Yeltsin who sought a rapid capitulation to western Imperialism and their own enrichment by plundering the state assets in alliance with western transnational corporations. We can observe at least elements of these three tendencies in most of the counter-revolutionary overturns of 1989-92.

The first debate on the nature of the East European countries behind the ‘iron curtain’ in the FI in the late 1940s eventually resulted in the correct conclusion that they were deformed workers’ states, but much confusion remained. We will look at the position again as it emerged in the debate over the class character of Cuba in the early 1960s and the debate about the class character of Cambodia in the late 1970s following the invasion by Vietnam on 25 December 1978. And of course, as we have mentioned, the debate following the victory of the counter-revolutionary restoration of capitalism in Eastern European and Asian states in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Continue reading

Police set to get new dispersal powers

dispersal area crop

Netpol, 23rd July
New laws being considered by parliament would allow police to disperse people taking part in a lawful assembly and arrest those that did not comply. There is no need for the demonstration to have been disorderly or violent – the only requirement would be that the dispersal was ‘necessary to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behavior’.

The Crime and Anti-Social Behavior Bill proposes new powers of dispersal that allows any police officer of the rank of Inspector or above to order people to leave an area for up to 48 hours. It allows the police to specify the time at which a group must disperse, and the route by which they should do so.

The police would be able use this power whenever they consider that dispersal is ‘necessary to reduce the likelihood of’ anti-social behavior  crime or disorder. Failure to disperse would be an arrestable offence, with a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment. Those who the police believe are under sixteen could be removed to a ‘place of safety’. The police would also have powers to seize items that they believe could be used in anti-social behavior.

The term anti-social behaviour’ is interpreted widely by police, who have often applied it to any behavior they consider unwelcome and unwanted. This has often included protest, and they have an extensive track record of using existing anti-social behavior legislation against lawful protest. It is inevitable that any new powers to disperse on the basis of a likelihood of anti-social behavior will also be used against people taking part in political assemblies and demonstrations.

There are protections built-in to the statute, but these apply only to trade union pickets authorised under section 220 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 or political protest where written notice has been provided under section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986. Many lawful political gatherings do not meet these criteria. Yet, as the legislation stands, participants could be faced with the choice of ceasing their protest or facing arrest, merely on the say-so of a police Inspector.

The broad nature of these powers suggests that they could also be misused in situations unconnected with protest, where no human rights protections apply. Any gathering of people could be dispersed without the need for suspicion of criminal activity, merely on the assessment of a police officer that anti-social behavior is ‘likely’ to occur. The potential for this power to be misused is enormous, particularly in areas where there is little existing trust between local communities and the police.

The proposed new power combines and replaces two existing dispersal powers – s27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act and s30 of the Anti-social behaviour Act. But in doing so removes restrictions on the way these dispersal powers could be used. Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behavior Act, currently in force, allows the police to act in areas where there are on-going problems of anti-social behavior  The new power allows the police to disperse without prior notice, and on their discretion alone.

Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act, also currently in force, allows police to disperse where they perceive a likelihood of alcohol related disorder. This has been criticised by organisations such as the Football Supporters Federation, who say that the power has been used in a blanket fashion, meaning that law abiding football supporters have been turned back after hours of travelling and stopped from attending games for which they had bought tickets. Netpol have also recorded instances in which s27 has been used to force people to leave an area, including a group (and legal observer) at the ‘Thatcher Party’ in Trafalgar Square earlier this year.

The police already have extensive powers to disperse or contain where there is a real threat of violence or criminality, or where there is an on-going pattern of anti-social behavior in residential areas. There is no need for these extended powers, which can only result in further restriction of freedom of assembly, and will increase the potential for discriminatory behavior that will inflame community tensions.
Read more at http://netpol.org
Voag-Logo-9

The VOAG is Watching - The VOAG is Everywhere!For Adebolajo and Oluwatobi,

Against Imperialist wars in Muslim lands:

LCFI statement on the Woolwich killing: 31 May 2013[1]


Gerald Downing, Socialist Fight. May 2013 (Reposted without permission)
The LCFI is a proudly anti-Imperialist Trotskyist internationalist grouping which never equates the violence of the oppressor with that of the oppressed. We stand with Lenin unequivocally on these questions: Lenin: We are defending… not the national interests, for we assert that the interests of socialism, of world socialism are higher than national interests, higher than the interests of the state.[2]
The killing of the British soldier Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich, South London, on 22 May, who was identified as a British soldier by the Help for Heroes t-shirt he was wearing, was a political act. One of the assailants, Michael Adebolajo, immediately made this clear in a statement: We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think your politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we, so you can all live in peace.
We sympathise with the family of the dead British soldier, it is terrible to lose a son, husband and father in any circumstances but the full blame lies with British Imperialism’s wars of aggression and drone strikes – the kill ratio is thousands to one and they all have families too and the so called “Islamacist terrorists” combatants are “guilty” only of heroically defending their own lands; Lee Rigby was a professional mercenary soldier paid to implement David Cameron’s predatory Imperialist foreign policy and he paid the price of this dangerous assignment. The seeds of violence were sown by British Imperialism; together with other European Imperialist powers they shipped upwards of fourteen million black Africans across the oceans in cages as slaves. How many countries have they invaded and destroyed to exploit and rob their wealth and natural recourses? When was the last time a Muslim group invaded a country for its resources and killed a million people?
We will not condemn Michael Olumide Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale, 22.According to Paul Cahalan in an article in The Independent on Sunday on 26 May Michael Adebolajo was arrested with six others in Kenya under suspicion of being at the centre of an Al-Qaeda-inspired plot in 2010. He was tortured before being released without charge, it seems because MI5 agents thought they could recruit him as a spy. MI5 constantly harassed him and his family in an attempt to make him work for them after he returned home.[3] This was their answer.
However we do not agree with their methods of struggle. As with all so-called “acts of terror” or the shooting of British soldiers by Irish Republicans we say that for national liberations fighters the army of occupation is a legitimate target. But we do not endorse individual action like planting bombs against civilian populations (which this was not) or killing of individual soldiers in a public street not only because it cannot achieve its aim of defeating imperialism but because it has the exact opposite effect on the mass of their potential supporters, the organised working class. Our approach is the traditional Marxist one of “unconditional but critical support”. As Trotsky said (and we would not use the epithet “terrorism” today): In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.[4]
However we cannot make our support for anti-Imperialist fighters conditional on them agreeing to our methods of struggle. This was not a “terrorist” act but a response to massive Imperialist terrorism against the Muslim lands with which the pair clearly identified. Under the cloak of religion there are very powerful anti-Imperialist sentiments in that statement above with which we solidarise, without in any way conceding to the religious prejudices of Fundamentalism. We must learn how to support the one and oppose the other without ever taking our eye off the main enemy, World Imperialism.
As Trotsky says: The struggle against war, properly understood and executed, presupposes the uncompromising hostility of the proletariat and its organizations, always and everywhere, toward its own and every other imperialist bourgeoisie…[5]
The war dead of Imperialism
Estimates of the war dead following the 2003 invasion of Iraq are as high as one million. Taken with the death toll from the previous sanctions campaign and the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm, 1990-91) combined with the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya and the sanctions campaign against Iran etc this pushes that figure to close to two million dead. Almost all these occupied lands[6] have seen the life expectancy of the general population decline dramatically, infant mortality rise sharply, previously free education and hospital services devastated by privatisation and delivery into the hands of US and other multi-nationals, now affordable only by the rich. Their infrastructure and services like transport, electricity, water sanitation and sewerage have been enormously degraded and their whole economies reduced to worse conditions than they endured half a century and more ago under colonialism. Radioactive fragments from depleted uranium shells in war zones from ex-Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali have caused and will cause countless deaths and birth deformities in these regions.  All to serve the global war aims of US-dominated Western Imperialism, to enhance the profits of the great banks and finance houses and their allied multi-national companies. A new fascism is looming, a Fourth Global Reich with the same social values as the Third. As State, Power & Bureaucracy put it: Over everything (in Nazi Germany) loomed the banks: as the banker Schroder put it at his Nuremburg trial: “They had a powerful influence on the party and on the government.” We cite a German couplet from the period: Who marches in with the first German tank? / Herr Director Rasche from the Dresden Bank.[7]
Before the Second Gulf War of 2003 Iraq suffered enormously from the sanctions against it imposed by the US. On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) appeared on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright replied “we think the price is worth it.”
This is all caused by Imperialism’s drive for profits, to capture markets for their products, to eliminate rival semi-colonial regimes by installing their own puppets in these countries. Even pliant national rulers can become a barrier to the finance capital masters of Wall Street, the City of London and the Paris Bourse; Saddam Hussein was installed as Iraq’s ruler by the CIA, Assad was a steadfast ally of Imperialism until they found better ones and Gaddafi had made his peace with Imperialism but nonetheless it was not enough to established today’s needs of unrivalled global domination by the US and its allies.
It is the masses of the US, British, French etc. working class who have the power to end Imperialist oppression. To those the oppressed and relatives of the slaughtered in the semi-colonial world must appeal for justice. And revolutionaries in the metropolitan countries have a duty to respond to these appeals and to encourage them and to fight for the rights of the workers in Iraq, Libya, Syria etc always against Imperialist aggression whether by direct invasion of via their proxy armies from Benghazi or from the Free Syria Army.
How have the far left in Britain responded?
The SWP have taken quite a good position on the Woolwich killings: Guerrilla fighting in the Global South, and attacks in the West, won’t end as long as the West continues to wreak havoc across the world. We should respond to the anger that imperialism fuels by pointing to the role of imperialism and demanding solidarity with those who are oppressed.[8]
The Socialist Party have taken a dreadful Islamophobic pro-Imperialist position: The unprovoked, barbaric and vicious murder of an unarmed soldier in Woolwich yesterday is a horrific event which must have been profoundly traumatic for the people who witnessed it, and, of course, an appalling tragedy for the victim, and the victim’s family and friends. Local residents showed incredible bravery in intervening to try and assist the victim. The Socialist Party completely condemns this attack just as we condemned 7/7, 9/11, and all similar attacks aimed at indiscriminate slaughter.[9]
Workers Power’s statement is weak at the beginning; it should not begin with the immediate horror and its effects on the family of the victim and onlookers (Iraq’s slaughtered have families too and their citizens have seen far worse) but with its cause, which it does tackle well later in the article. In that respect the SWP article is better that theirs: This is a horrific act, committed in front of ordinary civilians, women and children. We sympathise with the family of the victim and those traumatised by witnessing such appalling scenes. But London Mayor Boris Johnson’s claim that it has nothing to do with British foreign policy and the claim that British soldiers are bravely defending us in Britain and fighting for freedom in Afghanistan is a brazen lie.[10]
As might be expected the Alliance for Workers Liberty take a clear pro-Imperialist stance. Sacha Ismail tells us that “The young men” were “supporters of violently reactionary theocratic politics”. With their single victim there are not in the same “violently reactionary” league as those who are responsible for two million war dead, he might have mentioned. And what about: For the most part, the threat posed by Islamists – whether ultras like these ones, or softer varieties – is not directed against off-duty soldiers. It is directed against women, LGBT people, atheists and secularists, dissidents and critical-minded people in Muslim-majority countries and in some Muslim communities in countries like Britain. [11]
This is just a straightforward lie. The “threat posed” to whom? To the interests of British Imperialism or to British citizens or British soldiers or are all these things the same? The entire concern of British Imperialism is the opposition to their invasions and seizures of lands and they could not give a hoot what happens to women and LGBT people and others in “Muslim-majority countries”. To bring in that in this context is to give direct propagandistic support to the war cries of the Sun and Daily Mail. And finally the direct equation of “radical Islamism and nationalist racism” as twin evils. Note that “radical Islamism” comes first in the list of dangers to us all and fascism has been prettified as “nationalist racism” because, of course it is in fact better than “Islamo-fascism”, the favourite AWL term for Fundamentalism: This is, or should be, a wakeup call for the labour movement and socialists. If we cannot build a political force in working-class communities capable of appealing to the angry and dispossessed, then reactionary ideas like radical Islamism and nationalist racism will continue to spread.[12]  Naturally there is no mention of Imperialism and its wars on North Africa and the Middle East as a possible motivation for the attack, as we would expect from such an Islamophobic pro-Imperialist group.
CND General Secretary, Kate Hudson, leading light in Stop the War and in Ken Loach’s new Left Unity project has an unequivocal national chauvinist (the safety of our troops) position: “We deplore the brutal murder of an unarmed British soldier in Woolwich yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Acts of violent retribution against individuals can never be justified as a response to the crimes of states and governments. As we have repeatedly stated since 9/11 and the engagement of our troops in the wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the best way to ensure the safety of our troops…”[13]
Lastly we will look at Lindsey German, ex-SWP leader, Stop the War and Counterfire. Her statement is all couched in what is best for British Imperialism. And she cannot even openly acknowledge that it is a normal and understandable response to the mass murders by US and British troops – just look at the italicised words below, say motivated, claimed and supposedly similarly motivated. Even US filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “I am outraged that we can’t kill people in other countries without them trying to kill us!”[14] Who could believe a “terrorists” when they say they are opposed to Imperialism slaughtering their co-religionists in Muslim lands – they are just “nutters”?
The attack in Woolwich yesterday was horrific. There can be no justification for a murderous attack on an individual soldier in the streets of London. It must have been awful too for the local people who witnessed it… So we know what these men say motivated them. They claimed that the killing of the soldier was in response to the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in other countries. One said that the government did not care for people and should get the troops out.
The Boston bombers last month were supposedly similarly motivated. The Woolwich attack, carried out by two men now shot and wounded and under arrest in hospital, appears to represent a phenomenon that was pointed out nearly a decade ago by the security services in Britain: that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would lead to a growing threat of terrorism in Britain. Those of us in Stop the War have long predicted that these sorts of attacks would happen because of the war on terror.[15]
The rise of fascism – EDL/BN
T
he English Defence League are taking full advantage of the situation; 2,000 marched in Newcastle on 25 May, Mosques have been attacked and people racially abused. We must mobilise all our forces in opposition to this. It is telling that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage has only met serious opposition from the left in Scotland because of the serious failure of the left to combat anti-immigrant hysteria from bourgeois politicians and the mass media.
The main anti-fascist organisation in Britain is the Unite Against Fascism, a front for the Socialist Workers Party. It is a purely Popular Front-type organisation, spreading illusions in the ‘neutrality’ of the capitalist state by having the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron as one of its supporters. It is funded by the TU bureaucracy and has developed a very cosy relation with the police on anti-fascists demonstrations. In Newcastle on Saturday 25 May the Revolutionary Communist Group reported the following:
On 25 May, as the racist English Defence League (EDL) marched through Newcastle, police arrested 14 anti-fascists, detained them for up to 10 hours, and raided their homes, seizing computers and mobile phones. Seven FRFI supporters were among the detainees. They were seized half-an-hour before the counter-demonstration organised by Newcastle Unites was due to assemble. In the weeks before the EDL march, Newcastle Unites, a coalition of Labour councillors, local trade union officials and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), was determined to exclude FRFI and other militant anti-fascists from its march. Its planning meetings were held in secret and its members physically assaulted FRFI supporters to exclude them. On the day of the march, Newcastle Unites stewards colluded openly with Northumbria police to identify our comrades for arrest.[16]
These methods are in many ways the opposite side of the coin methodically to individual acts of violence against the state forces, though we will not equate misguided but heroic anti-Imperialists with police collaboration. This Popular Frontism also displays its contempt for the organised working class and its potential to overthrow capitalism by denying that fascism is a class question.
We put forward the following points for anti-fascist work as against the SWP and others internationally:
1.            We stand by Trotsky’s classical definition of Fascism; “The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery”.
2.            Fascism has no fixed ideology of its own; it can be characterised globally as consistent reaction against the organised working class and those aspects of a state’s constitution which are publically perceived as assisting the progressive advancement of socialism or which they perceive as posing the threat of revolution including bourgeois democracy which allegedly allows socialist ideas to flourish.
3.            We defend unequivocally the traditional Marxist position of No Platform for Fascists. As Trotsky observed in Whither France, “The despairing petty bourgeois sees in fascism, above all, a fighting force against big capital, and believes that, unlike the working-class parties which deal only in words, fascism will use force to establish more ‘justice’. The peasant and the artisan are in their manner realists. They understand that one cannot forego the use of force”.
4.            Fascism depends vitally on mobilising the middles classes to crush the organised strength of the working class, Whither France again, “The petty bourgeoisie is economically dependent and politically atomized. That is why it cannot conduct an independent policy. It needs a ‘leader’ who inspires it with confidence. This individual or collective leadership, i.e., a personage or party, can be given to it by one or the other of the fundamental classes – either the big bourgeoisie or the proletariat”.
5.            The emergence of the BNP/EDL signifies that a section of the British middle class and some declassed workers have lost hope in the organised working to solve their problems and, via the medium of the fascists, are coming under the sway of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the fascists’ ultimate masters. Whither France again, “But the petty bourgeoisie can also find a leader in the proletariat. This was demonstrated in Russia and partially in Spain. In Italy, in Germany, and in Austria, the petty bourgeoisie gravitated in this direction. But the parties of the proletariat did not rise to their historic task. To bring the petty bourgeoisie to its side, the proletariat must win its confidence. And for that it must have confidence in its own strength”.
6.            The responsibility for the rise of fascism lies with the TU and Labour party leaders who have failed to fight the austerity policies of the ConDem government. By criticising “cuts too far, too fast!” they signal that they intend to make the working class bear the burden of the capitalist crisis if Labour wins office and make only a few cosmetic changes to the programme of the ConDems. They do this to defend their own privileged positions as administrators and defenders of that corrupt system.
7.            It is therefore vital to use the tactic of the United Front of the organised working class against the fascists and the reject the Popular Front as advocated by Searchlight (Use your vote, Hope not Hate) and the Socialist Workers Party (‘‘The strategy for anti-fascists is to unite the broadest possible forces against the Nazis”) which ties the working class to parliamentary democracy and even allows voting Tory, “as a last resort”, to keep the fascist out.
8.            Similarly we reject the political position of those like the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Communist Student who oppose No Platform and advocate ‘free speech for Nazis’ as a libertarian excuse to avoid the class struggle necessary to defeat fascism and the capitalist system which breeds it in its decline.
Notes
[1] In line with Trotsky’s article; For Grynszpan, Against Fascist Pogrom Gangs and Stalinist Scoundrels, (1939) http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/xx/grnszpan.htm
[2] Lenin was speaking of the first workers state then! Report on Foreign Policy, Joint Meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet May 14, 1918 Collected Works, Vol. 27.
[4] Leon Trotsky, Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism, (November 1911),http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1911/11/tia09.htm
[5] Trotsky, Leon. Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau, (July 1936).
[6] Apart from Afghanistan, already devastated by the USSR war of 1979-89 against the Mujahideen who were supported by China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US via the CIA. Estimates of the dead here vary from 850,000 to 1, 500,000.
[7] Dragstedt, A and Slaughter C, State Power & Bureaucracy, New Park 1981 p. 95
[8] Socialist Worker, The wars that fuel the rage behind Woolwich attack,http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/33448/The+wars+that+fuel+the+rage+behind+Woolwich+attack
[9] Socialist Party, No to terrorism! No to racism! No to war! Statement from Greenwich Socialist Party on the Woolwich killing, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16739/23-05-2013/no-to-terrorism-no-to-racism-no-to-war
[10] Workers Power, Woolwich: the War on Terror on our doorstephttp://www.workerspower.co.uk/2013/05/british-soldier-killed-woolwich-london/
[11] Ismail, Sacha. Woolwich, Islamism and the racist, authoritarian backlash,http://www.workersliberty.org/woolwich
[12] Ibid.
[13] Hudson, Kate, the Woolwich attack, http://leftunity.org/the-woolwich-attack/

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A Marxist Critique of
“A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

A Marxist Critique of “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”
Reply by Gerry Downing to Steve Ballard’s “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

Gerald Downing, Editor Socialist Fight.  2012
This short document is a synopsis of a much longer one by Steve. However in neither document does he use actual quotations from Marx and Engels. He makes assertions that they ‘recognised’ this, they ‘hypothesised’ they ‘elaborated’, etc. but makes no attempt to prove these assertions. Supplying an academic apparatus would make his “scientific critique” far more scientific. His original text is in bold in quotation marks and this is followed by my reply.

Steve Ballard writes: “Marx and Engels were the first to recognise how:- The essence of capitalism is a system oflaws, created by dynastic owners of surplus property, which ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other socialobligations, including the obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise.”

The essence of capitalism is not a “system of laws” but, in common with all forms of class society, the private ownership of the means of production. Wealth is privately owned under capitalism but socially produced. The conflict this creates between capital and labour, the means of production and the social relations of production is the class struggle and according to the first sentence of the Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing (class) society is the history of class struggles”

Already we are on the wrong idealist track, Capitalism rests not on a “system of laws” but on this objective relationship, independent of will and consciousness. We might  therefore acknowledge that whilst Marx and Engels regarded “historical processes as law-governed processes” these laws are derived from a study of the evolution of capitalism and are the laws of Historical Materialism.

It is the task of the revolutionary party to make this historical processes a conscious process, we must become the “conscious expression of the unconscious historical process” (Trotsky, My Life). “Marx determined that the concealed essence of capitalism could be found in its history, and that this essence and history were then preserved in disguise within its existing institutions and beliefs. History thus was the entry point for the study of capitalism. This is the materialist interpretation of history, based on the view that what gives history its meaning is material life, meaning economic forces. From this standpoint, Marx was studying classical political economy, but the method he selected is what married this study to Hegelian philosophy. The dialectical element, derived from Hegel, emerged from the realization that there is extreme tension caused by the unequal relations between the superior and inferior classes within society. The main driving force of historical change is thus seen to be the class struggle, and this is associated with a dialectical view because it reveals a contradiction located within all modes of production, a contradiction between the forces of production and the relations of production.”(Marx on Historical Change & Capitalism) http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1702624.html)

We really do not know what “surplus property”, might be, the expression is found nowhere in Marx or Marxism and can only refer to a reformist notion that the rich have too much property and we should take some of it off them because they do not need it all. This is in line with the current thinking that if only we could retrieve the bankers’ bonuses and invest that all would be well with the capitalist economy. Such notions are pushed by the SWP and the World to Win in their LEAP stuff for John McDonald and the Labour Representation Committee. Feldman performed a like service for Ken Livingstone in his WRP days. There is, of course, “surplus value”, an entirely different concept which forms the bedrock of Marx’s study of Capital.

And really the notion that the owners of this supposed “surplus property” are very nasty  and irresponsible beasts which, “ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other social obligations” and could not give a hoot for their “obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise” is simply another reformist moralist gripe about the nastiness of the ruling class. And anyway some of them do give a stuff; that nice Mr Gates gives away untold millions to help the poor, surely  he takes his “social obligations” seriously? Even if that is true that he does he is, of course, amongst the foremost defender of the system that starves a great proportion of humanity materially and whilst the world obviously has the capacity to feed, cloth, give proper healthcare, education, etc. to every individual on the planet. But that capitalism can never do, with the best will in the world.

But here we really need to go into some detail about the effects this private ownership of the means of production has on humanity in general; the details of how these social relations distorts and deforms the human psyche of the whole of humanity (including the capitalists) via the four forms of alienation analysed by Karl Marx’s in his Theory of Alienation:

(1)There is the alienation of the worker from the work s/he produces, from the product of his/her labour. The product’s design and the manner in which it is produced are determined not by its actual producers, nor even by those who consume the products, but rather by the capitalist class, which appropriates labour – including that of designers and engineers – and seeks to shape consumers’ taste in order to maximize profit.

(2) This is coupled with the alienation of the worker from working, from the act of producing itself. This kind of alienation refers to the patterning of work in the capitalist means of production into an endless sequence of discrete, repetitive, trivial, and meaningless motions, offering little, if any, intrinsic satisfaction.

(3) There is the alienation of the worker from himself as a producer, from his or her “species being” or “essence as a species”. To Marx, this human essence is not separate from activity or work, nor static, but includes the innate potential to develop as a human organism.

(4) Alienation of the worker from other workers or producers. Capitalism reduces labour to a commercial commodity to be traded on the market, rather than a social relationship between people involved in a common effort for survival or betterment. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Marxism.htm)

“Alienation (which) describes the separation of things that naturally belong together; and the placement of antagonism between things that are properly in harmony…Alienation (Entfremdung) is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society, because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his and her humanity… Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realised human being, as an economic entity, he or she is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to extract from the worker the maximal amount of surplus value, in the course of business competition among industrialists.”(Marx’s theory of alienation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienation, Wiki – our numbering)

“The capitalist system of secular laws must eventually overwhelm all pre-capitalist systems of religious laws, because of capitalism’s façade of freedom, its semblance of scientific neutrality and objectivity. Capitalism’s self-perpetuating, self-serving, quasi-scientific ideology of ‘survival of the fittest’ obscures the underlying oppression of whole populations, by owners of the greatest amount of surplus property, with complete disregard for the needs of any life that does not serve their self aggrandisement, human and otherwise”.

“Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably; capitalism’s state-enforced repudiation of the socially-necessary obligation to nurture all life (a consequence of science’s repudiation of religion), must eventually cause the disintegration of all societies, pending the development of scientific socialism.”

Here again the problem is posed as if it was ideological and even on this level it is wrong. Only in a very few historical instances were whole societies governed totally by religious laws; Israel and Judea in Roman times, the reign of Mohamed, etc. Even the old Islamic Empire of the Ottoman Turks and modern Islamic Republics like Iran are mixtures of secular and Sharia laws. Already by the early Middle Ages conflict between church and state saw increasing secularisation of the state. And this was a progressive thing, an inevitable step in the preparation of society for the socialist revolution and the taking of power by the working class and so to the abolition of all classes. “Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably;” seems to suggest that the development of
capitalism was reactionary and not progressive, this is surely a reference to noblesse oblige, a mere hypocritical principle to justify the jus primae noctis etc. And again we really do not know what “pending the development of scientific socialism” means if it does not signify some vague ‘raising of consciousness’ project and not the socialist revolution.

Look at how Christopher Hill describes this transformation in his great analysis of the intellectual and ideological conflicts that took place in the approach, during and after the English Civil War, The World Turned Upside Down (p242-3)

“One of the fascinating problems in the intellectual history of seventeenth-century England is the collapse of Calvinism. It was as though it had performed its historic task with the establishment of a society in which the protestant ethic prevailed. Before 1640 Calvinism had been attacked from the right by sacramentalist Laudians;[1] during the Revolution it was attacked by rationalist Arminians[2] of the left – John Goodwin, Milton, Quakers. Presbyterian discipline was unpopular both with the ungodly lower classes and with upper class anti-clericals. More serious, Calvinism had proved unable to sustain its defences against Antinomianism.[3] So long as the elect were respectable bourgeois Puritans, their sense of freedom through cooperation with God brought no fundamental danger to the social order. But it was impossible, once discipline brisk down, to decide who the elect were. The radicals rejected as hypocrites those Puritans whose faith did not result in works of love. Artisan Fifth Monarchists[4] proclaimed that they were the saints who should rule. Mechanick preachers and lower-class Quakers[5] were convinced that the Holy Spirit was within them. Some Ranters preached a dionysiac Antinomianism that would have subverted all the moral standards of a propertied society”.

Failure to agree who the elect were drove the men of property back to works — by their fruits ye shall know them. Standards and norms of conduct could be established and enforced by lay J.P.s with no danger of a clerical Presbyterian discipline. This was a very different theology of works from that of Catholics or Laudians; it was non-sacramental, in no “dependent on a mediating priesthood. It avoided both types of clericalism. And the sects themselves, once they had accepted the world and the sinfulness of man, cooperated in enforcing a morality of works on their members. We are all so Arminians now that it requires a great imaginative effort think oneself back into the pre-revolutionary society which Calvinism dominated.

The Catholic counter-reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563) decreed that an excerpt from the Gospel according to St John which begins; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” be read out in the vernacular (the only part that the mass of ‘the  common people’ could understand, the rest was unintelligible Latin and Greek until the 1960s) in all churches. It was very important for organised reaction to counter the rising materialist ideology which put men above God and welfare above that of the church.

In the Enlightenment it fell to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to demolish this idealistic reaction in the words of Faust: “This is how ’tis written: “In the beginning was the Word! Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord? It is impossible, the Word so high to prize, I must translate it otherwise If I am rightly by the Spirit taught. ’Tis written: In the beginning was the Thought! Consider well that line, the first you see, That your pen may not write too hastily! Is it then Thought that works, creative, hour by hour? Thus should it stand: In the beginning was the Power! Yet even while I write this word, I falter, for something warns me, this too I shall alter. The Spirit’s helping me! I see now what I need and write assured: In the beginning was the Deed!”  Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

All serious Marxists side unequivocally with Goethe, it is not “thought works, creative, hour by hour” but thought-driven practice, it was not the “battle of ideas” that determined the outcome of the great British miners’ strike of 1984-5 but the Battle of Orgrieve, which they lost. “Marx and Engels hypothesised that the only means to overcome the quasi-scientific ideology of capitalism would be science ­— the deeper and wider understanding of the unity and interdependence of all life, human and otherwise. They characterised their approach as scientific socialism to distinguish it from democratic or ‘utopian’ socialism, which disregards the particular significance of science’s discipline and methodology in the development of society.”

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Marx’s theory of alienation would refute this sentence. Marx never saw the objective as simply the raising of consciousness and enlightenment. We are revolutionaries because bourgeois ideology is constantly re-imposed on the consciousness of the working class by the social relations of production all workers are forced to enter into in order to make their living. They must sell their labour power to the capitalist; they must subordinate their will to the capitalist in a humiliating relationship as explained by Marx:

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.

2011 August Uprising One Year On –
The VOAG reviews the RKOB’s analysis

Marking the anniversary of the 2011 August uprising, The VOAG has received with interest a series of documents from the RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation).  The Austrian RKOB originated as a left wing split from the LFI (League for the Fifth International), and has since founded the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency of which it is the Austrian section.

The VOAG would like to thank the RKOB for coming over to Britain in solidarity with the workers and youth who bravely fought Street battles against the police in defiance of austerity, unemployment, police harassment and oppression.

The VOAG would like to applaud the RKOB for its internationalism and sincerity. Whilst the RKOB sent a delegation from Austria, many Trotskyist groups based in London were no where to be seen on the streets of London. Left wing groups in Britain, as the RKOB have pointed out, limited themselves to standing on the sidelines, issuing impotent statements of half hearted sympathy and understanding toward the workers and youth. Many within the Labour movement even condemned the communities that participated in the resistance, labeling them rioters.

The VOAG also congratulates the RKOB on its forthright analysis of those August Days and the attitudes of the British labour movement toward them. (4) The uprising was a test which the labour movement universally failed. The RKOB asked the question “What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done” (3) The RKOB says a revolutionary party would:  “have criticised all those reformist and centrist forces which restrict themselves to merely explain[ing] why the poor and oppressed take to the streets,(…) or who only call for abstract solidarity without raising a finger for practical participation and support for the uprising.”

A revolutionary organisation would have visited the communities, distributed propaganda, and directed those involved in the uprising, as much as was possible, away from targeting small shops and personal property and towards multinational chain stores, police stations and barricades. How embarrassing, how utterly shameful that this work had to be done by a group based in Austria, whilst so called revolutionaries in London stayed at home, ignoring historical opportunities to make connections with working class youth and their  communities.

As a member of the LFI –known in Britain as Workers Power, (since expelled for being working class and left-wing) I was amazed at the attitude of my own organization toward the protests. The RKOB correctly criticises Workers Power for not participating in the uprising, even though its annual international youth camp was taking place only two miles away from some of the protests.

The VOAG agrees with the RKOB’s characterisation of the uprising and its conclusion that the lower working classes are central to the struggles to come. The VOAG echoes the RKOB’s criticisms of groups like Workers Power  for being petty-bourgeois and for turning their back on the poorer, oppressed layers of the working class, in favour of the labour aristocracy and organised workers.

However The VOAG considers the RKOB has strayed too far in the opposite direction. It puts too much emphasis on the youth and the poorer, more oppressed sections of the working class. It is true that: “ after the mass protests of the youth in the education sector and the strikes of the trade unions, the lower strata of the working class and migrants have now entered the battlefield of class struggle with their uprising”. (1)

And further: “It is precisely the poorer, the lower, the oppressed layers of the working class – including the young, the racially and nationally oppressed layers – that are often ready to resist against the massive oppression and exploitation. And this part of the working class constitutes the largest mass, the heart of our class. How absurd is – given the present development – the theory of the League for the Fifth International that the labour aristocracy constitutes the core layer of the working class (at least in imperialist countries like the UK). In fact, this part of our class is – as Lenin put it – “the craft-union, narrow-minded, selfish, case-hardened, covetous, and petty-bourgeois “labour aristocracy”, imperialist-minded, and imperialist-corrupted, (…). That is incontestable. In contrast to the false assumption of LFI, the oppressed, the lower layers of the working class can play a central role in taking the class struggle against capitalist oppression on to the streets. This is what we see today in Great Britain.”(1)

However, the corollary of the petty-bourgeois tendencies of the labour aristocracy and trades unions is the alienation and lack of leadership of the unorganised precariate, youth and unemployed. Like it or not only the organised labour movement – however aristocratic- as expressed through the unions, has the ability, organisation and wherewithal to mount effective strike action and economic resistance to capitalism.  It still comes down to who has the economic power in society. And it is they, the organised labour movement, in their aristocratic unions – with their ability to withdraw their labour in a general strike – that hold the power in society.

Whilst the poorer and oppressed layers of the working class can provide a vital push from below, the organised labour movement can give their resistance organisation and economic clout.  Both these categories of the working class have positive and progressive features as well as negative and reactionary features.

The RKOB writes: “it confirmed to us how serious the political mistakes of the unions are not to organize lower layers of the workers en mass”: These aren’t mistakes. The Trades Union bureaucracy wants nothing to do with the lower working class. The bureaucracy is implacably opposed to the radicalisation that would surely follow a serious recruitment drive among the precariate, unemployed and poor.

For this reason the VOAG agrees with the RKOB when it: “advocates that the labour movement organises the most oppressed layers.“  (2) That we need a: “revolutionary Workers International with nationally rooted combat parties…based on the working class and in particular the lower and middle strata.” (5) And that our goal must be: “an indefinite general strike in connection with the organising of youth uprisings”.(2)

 Workers Power, who along with other pretendy trot groups, have clearly chosen petty-bourgeois and labour aristocratic forces over the precariate, youth and unemployed. We as Marxists choose scientific socialism. We make objective assessments of how the class struggle is playing itself out, based on an analysis of the constantly shifting interplay of class forces. We don’t seek to subjectively counter pose one force against another; we seek a revolutionary alliance of these forces.

Note:  The VOAG broadly agrees with the RKOB’s analysis. However – No.4: Five Days That Shook Britain is an excellent document that summarises the attitudes and positions of a number of left groups toward the uprising. If you decide to read any of the original documents linked below, The VOAG recommends you definitely read this one.

  1. These Are Not Riots – RCIT 10-08-2011
  2. The August Uprising Report Of The RKOB Delegation – RCIT 13-08-11
  3. What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done – RCIT 18-08-11
  4. Five Days That Shook Britain – RCIT 01-09-11
  5. On The Anniversary Of The August Uprising – RCIT 07-08-12
    Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB)

Where is the LFI drifting?

In April 2011, a left-wing faction in the LFI, the  Bolshevik Opposition, was bureaucraticaly expelled from the League for the Fifth International.  The majority of the faction were members of the Austrian Section, who went on to form the RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organisation) – and recently founded a new international, the RCIT (Revolutionary Communist International Tendency).

The VOAG recieved a copy of  an open letter to all present and former comrades of  the LFI (published below). Whilst the VOAG doesn’t agree with everything in the letter, we support its general line and are in total accord with the specific criticisms levelled at Workers Power.

The VOAG is preparing a reply to the letter, which will appear on the blog shortly, but in the meantime, we have taken the step to publish this letter in full because it echoes so closely our own criticisms.

A Letter from the RCIT (Revolutionary Communist International Tendency) to the LFI comrades, 11.5.2012

Dear comrades of the LFI,
We address you in this letter because several of our cadre were member
of the LFI until recently. In the last 12 months we have seen divisions,
expulsion and splits in the League for the Fifth International. In April
2011 five cadres from the Austrian section, who have formed the
“Bolshevik Opposition” faction, were bureaucratically expelled by the
LFI’s IEC majority. Amongst them were two members of the International
Executive Committee (IEC) and three members of the leadership of the
youth organisation REVOLUTION in Austria. Around this time a Tamil
comrade from the central leadership of the Sri Lanka section,
responsible for the union work amongst the plantation workers, resigned
too. And several months later a number of members from the Pakistani
section (including a Central Committee member), who had formed the
“Left Opposition” faction, left the LFI. Together with other comrades
we have joined forces and formed — also with former LFI members in the
USA — an international organisation, the Revolutionary Communist
International Tendency (RCIT).

Politically our origin is in the struggle against the LFI’s majority
opportunist adaption towards the union bureaucracy, the reformist and
centrist left and its lack of orientation towards workers and nationally
oppressed.

However shortly after these expulsion and splits the LFI majority split
itself. Recently a number of members resigned from the LFI, amongst them
4 IEC members, central leaders from the British section and the central
leader of the Austrian respectively the Czech section. They are a
right-wing centrist, liquidationist split reflecting the pressure of the
progressive petty-bourgeois strata at the universities and in the
occupation movement.

So as a result, all in all in the last 12 month the LFI has lost half of
its IEC members and — since the congress in summer 2010 — up to 1/3 of
its total membership.

What are the main issues of this letter?
In this letter we point out that:
1. It is the duty of Marxists to make clear which class character
political forces have. The leadership of the LFI has /NOT/ made clear
which class character the liquidationist, petty bourgeois split has.

2. This happens because of the adaption from the leadership of the LFI
towards the petty-bourgeois milieu! In the united front Anticapitalist
initiatives projects which WPB joined they don’t have a sharp
revolutionary profile and are very soft in criticizing centrist forces
or don’t criticise them at all in public. They are even talking about
the “revolutionary left” when they mean the centrist left.

3. The LFI itself is in its composition dominated by activists coming
from petty bourgeois/intellectual layers or the upper strata of the
working class since many years. It has a massive lack of workers from
the broad mass of the proletariat and from the oppressed.

4. Therefore its political degeneration into centrism is related to the
reluctance over years to correct the bad class composition of the LFI.
The organisation has developed an opportunist approach towards the
politics of libertarian and other petty-bourgeois forces!

5. We characterise the reluctance to win workers and oppressed in deeds
(not only as promises and intentions) as part of the problem of
“aristocratism” that goes hand in hand with the opportunism. It means
the orientation to aristocratic layers and the accommodation to various
positions and prejudices of the labour aristocracy.

6. One expression of this was the rejection of the slogan “/For a
Socialist Tamil Eelam/” in Sri Lanka. It was a consequence of
accommodation towards prejudices amongst the petty-bourgeois
intellectuals and the aristocratic layers in the working class. We as
RCIT are demanding not only a Socialist Tamil Eelam but also an “Azad,
Socialist Kashmir” and an “Azad, Socialist Baluchistan” in Pakistan.

7. We sharply critisise the LFI leadership for pushing the organisation
to refuse participate in the August Uprising of tens of thousands of
working class youth in Britain in summer 2011. This was criminal
especially because it happened in London at the same time as the REVO
summer camp, where many comrades from the LFI and REVOLUTION came
together. Active participation was rejected by the leaders of the LFI
and they didn’t even sent a delegation of members to be in the
proletarian districts where the uprisings happened during the nights.
They rather preferred to have a summer camp with the slogan “summer,
sun, socialism” (this was the headline of their report) where the
focus was on discussions and drinking instead of being part of the class
struggle on the burning streets of London. It is a joke to agitate once
or twice in the proletarian districts during the day and to hide in the
camp by night when the uprising takes place. Such a leadership is not
capable to lead sections in semi colonial countries with sharp state
oppression. It demonstrated a lack of revolutionary audacity. This was
centrism in deeds and a betrayal of revolutionary principles.

8. Comrades, mistakes can happen, even grave mistakes can happen. But
the worst thing is not to make mistakes, but to fail in recognising
them, not to learn from them and not to make the necessary sharp
corrections.

9. The LFI has undertaken a sharp centrist degeneration. It is no wonder
that the LFI has shrunken massively.

10. We call all members of the LFI to break with the policy of centrist
degeneration which is dominating now the LFI. Comrades, correct these
fatal mistakes! Reorient the LFI towards the workers and oppressed!

Why did this happen?
Let us see how the LFI leadership characterises the split of the
right-wing liquidationists around Luke Cooper, Simon Hardy (both from
Britain), Roman Riedl (Austria) and Martin Mikula (Czech Republic). In
its Statement on Resignations from the British Section of the League
from 28.4.2012, the International Secretariat (IS) of the LFI correctly
criticises the right-wing splitters for their rejection of democratic
centralism and the need for a programmatically homogenous organisation.
The IS states: “Their argument was simply copied wholesale from the
quasi-libertarian critiques of Leninism and Trotskyism presently
fashionable on the English-speaking left.”  The IS also describes their
views: “The majority correctly characterised these proposals as
liquidationist, both in the political sense, in terms of dissolving our
programme and principles, and the organisational sense, in terms of
dissolving our tendency.”

It is however characteristic that the IS, while describing correctly
several features of this right-wing split fails to go beyond such a
description and to give it a clear political class characterisation.
As a result it fails to analyse, characterise and understand the context
of this split.

We characterise the group around Cooper, Hardy, Riedl and Mikula as a
right-wing, liquidationist split. As all political tendencies and
phenomena in a class society it has a class character. As Marxists we
have to point out what sort of class character the liquidationist split
has. It is a petty-bourgeois, extreme right-centrist current. It
reflects their capitulation towards the pressure of the progressive
petty-bourgeois layers (dominated by university students and (pseudo-)
intellectuals) who have an important influence in the occupation
movement and amongst the left-wing university milieu.

Adaption towards the petty-bourgeois milieu
However the LFI leadership does not give a clear class character of the
split and indeed is even incapable to understand the need of it. Why?
Firstly because it would force them to rethink their own orientation
since it orientates itself to the same petty-bourgeois milieu since
years as the right-wing liquidationists are doing. Secondly because it
would force them to ask themselves how it could happen that a
significant sector of its leadership and membership openly repudiates
Leninism and Trotskyism. And thirdly they would have to ask themselves
why the same leaders with whom together they enthusiastically expelled
future RCIT cadre in April 2011, why these same people desert the
organisation and Trotskyism only 12 month later (after they had started
in Britain an internal campaign for their liquidationist views for at
least half a year)!

For us in the RCIT this development is not surprising and only the
logical consequence of the process of centrist degeneration which the
LFI unfortunately has undergone in the recent past. Already in late 2009
today RCIT cadres who at that time had the majority in the Austrian
LFI section fought against the liquidationist tendencies which
comrade Riedl and others showed during the intervention in a mass
university strike in Austria. They rejected our proposals to intervene
openly as members of the LFI and they refused to publicly criticise the
wrong policy of the centrists and the left-reformist and libertarian
forces which provided the leadership of the movement. Similarly we
fought against the “new discoveries” of Riedl and others in 2010 that
the IMT (Grant, Woods, Lal Khan) and centrism as such “are a current of
Marxism”, albeit not a revolutionary one. And we emphasised against
Riedl and others that the reformist bureaucracy does not betray the
workers because of their “wrong ideologies and lack of understanding”.
This is a false, idealistic explain. As Marxists we say it happens
because as bureaucrats they have a material interest in controlling and
pacifying the working class, they are corrupted and they are therefore
also linked with the capitalist state and class.

These internal struggles dealt with questions touching the principles of
Marxism, in particular the relationship between the revolutionary
vanguard, its petty-bourgeois and labour reformist opponents and sectors
of the masses. These were debates which anticipated a number of issues
around which the splits/expulsion of the Bolsheviks by the LFI majority
occurred in 2011 and around which the split of the right-wing
liquidationists in spring 2012 took place.

The left-wing inside the LFI and later cadres of the RCIT defended the
traditional Marxist position which the LFI, when it was still a
revolutionary organisation, had defended too. But the majority of the
LFI leadership wavered. Several of them sympathised more with Riedls
positions rather than ours but they hesitated to openly wage a
political-ideological struggle against us. So they all agreed that the
LFI leadership should not take a position on these debates. In short
they proved incapable to understand the task of revolutionary cadres to
defend Marxist principles always and from the beginning. They only
started to formally defend some of these principles when the right-wing
proposed to dissolve the organisation and hence a split was already
around the corner.

It is indicative that the LFI majority planned and executed very quickly
the expulsion of the “Bolshevik Opposition” comrades only a few weeks
after they formed a faction in Austria. On the other hand they didn’t
see any reason to expel the right-wing liquidationists despite their
open renunciation of Bolshevism. Would the Cooper Hardy Riedl Mikula
group have been less determined to build their “undogmatic
anticapitalist networks” and would they have not resigned in mid-April
2012, they would still have a place in the LFI. In fact the LFI
leadership actively hopes to win them back as they wrote in their
“Statement on Resignations”.  “We can only hope that our former
comrades draw this lesson from their own experience quickly, and return
to our ranks to build a disciplined international organisation with a
clear programme”. In another statement of the LFI leadership this still
existing closeness to the right-wing liquidationist was made even clearer:

“We regret their decision, as they are all talented people, many of
whom played an important role in the student movement in 2010-11. While
we recognise that there has been a significant divergence in our views
over the last seven months, we had hoped that the debate we conducted at
our national conference last month and our International Council meeting
at Easter could have continued within our ranks. We were disappointed
that the comrades chose to leave after such a short discussion. We have
made it clear to Simon and the others that we will continue to work with
them wherever that is practical and principled. Given the continued
similarity of our political views we expect those occasions to be many
and frequent.” (Reply from Richard Brenner (LFI) to split statement of
right-wing, 14.4.2012,
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/a-simple-proposal-for-a-new-anticapitalist-left)

The practice of the past 12 month has shown that while the LFI
leadership is totally hostile to the Bolsheviks it is soft and
well-coming to the right-wing liquidationists. They see themselves much
closer to the later.

This is in itself an expression of the centrist character of the
present-day leadership of the LFI. In Trotsky’s days the centrist Stalin
leadership exclaimed that it is “fighting resolutely both against the
left-wing and the right.-wing danger” inside the Communist Party.
Trotsky explained that this equation of the currents to the right and to
the left of the Marxist line demonstrates itself a petty-bourgeois,
centrist position:

“The central idea of the present campaign, that Marxist politics in
general consists in a struggle against the right and against the left
with the same irreconcilable spirit, is thoroughly absurd. To the right
of Marxist politics stands the mighty world of imperialism with its
still enormous agency of collaborationists. There is the enemy. To the
left of the Marxist line there can be only wrong tendencies within the
proletariat itself, infantile disorder in the party, and so forth. The
most extreme expression of this false ‘leftism’ is anarchism. But
anarchism’s strength and influence are all the smaller and less
significant the more resolutely, the more determinedly, the more
consistently the revolutionary party fights against opportunism. That is
precisely the special historical merit of Bolshevism. In its annals, the
struggle against the left always bore an episodic and subordinated
character. The Stalinist formula of the struggle ‘with the same
intransigence’ against the right and the left is not a Bolshevik formula
but the traditional formula of petty-bourgeois radicalism, whose entire
history has been nothing but struggle against ‘reaction’ on one hand and
against the proletarian revolution on the other hand.” (Leon Trotsky:
Crisis in the Right-Center Bloc (1928); in: Leon Trotsky: The Challenge
of the Left Opposition (1928-29), p.  302f.)

In fact the present-day leadership of the LFI fought with a much more
“irreconcilable spirit” against the left-wing and expelled them when
their leaders posed a potential danger inside the IEC. On the other hand
they tried every possible compromise and still sending olive branches
and appeals to the right-wing liquidationists to come back.

The chimera and the truth about the Bolshevik united front tactic
What is the reason for this? It is because the LFI’s leadership itself
is politically confused and has become left-centrist in 2011. (Although
we would not say that all members have left the former Bolshevik
tradition of the LFI and thus it is possible that there might be future
internal struggles around key issues in the context of the degeneration
process of the LFI as a whole.) It is no accident that they and the
right-wingers together attacked and expelled us because of our as
they called it  “sectarianism”. They accused the Bolsheviks who later
formed the RCIT that they have an “ultra-left understanding of the
united front tactic.”

What the LFI and WPB leadership is hiding behind this chimera is its
own growing opportunism. As we have shown with a number of quotes (see
for this the preface to our essay on the Fifth International in our
English-language journal Revolutionary Communism No. 2, p. 26-28;
http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/what-sort-of-fifth-international-do-we-need)
the comrades see the reasons for the left-reformist trade union
bureaucrats failure in the recent mass struggles against the Tory LibDem
government in their  “refusal to think outside the box” and their
“fear of the anti-union laws” not their inability to struggle in
the interest of the workers because of their material interests as
bureaucrats. They also identify as the main problem of the left not
their petty-bourgeois, centrist or left-reformist policy and
subordination to the labour bureaucracy but their “divisions and
fragmentations”. In its latest proposal for a political platform of the
Anticapitalist Initiative WPB repeats this position:

“The leaders of the major unions have postponed and fragmented the
fight back called for by their members. The pensions struggle which
had the potential to unify the movement has been cynically sabotaged
by right wing union leaders, and discoordinated by ‘left wing’ union
leaders afraid of the anti-union laws. (…) The failure of the official
leaderships has been compounded by two key factors:                                                                                                                   withered and weakened state of workplace organisation, and                                                                                                             the inability of the revolutionary left organisations to transcend
their fragmentation.

Instead they project their division into the
anti-cuts struggle, building rival anti-cuts campaigns where a powerful
united front is needed. ” (Workers Power: Draft Proposal for Political
Basis for the Anti-capitalist Initiative, 21.4.2012,
http://southlondonanticapitalists.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/building-a-new-left-a-great-start/;
our emphasis)

In effect the remaining left-centrist WPB leadership spreads the same
nonsensical idea that there exists not a centrist left but a
“revolutionary left” and the problem is that it remains fragmented. In
the past we in the revolutionary LFI laughed about such nonsense. Today,
the Neo-LFI leadership repeats this stupidity itself! If the various
centrist groups would be united in one big centrist organisation … it
would be a unified obstacle, and not an instrument to overcome the
crisis of leadership. Why? Because the centrist left is not
revolutionary, it is centrist. This means they possess a wrong, centrist
method, strategy and tactic. It means that they are politically adapting
and dependent of the labour bureaucracy. THIS is the main reason why
“the left” cannot challenge the official labour movement leadership!

In addition to this the LFI/WPB leadership also adapts to the
libertarian sentiments which are strong amongst the petty-bourgeois
sectors of the university student and in the occupation movement. In
contrast to the past when we intervened in non-revolutionary
organisations, the WPB proposal does not deal with the question of power
and therefore lacks the slogan for a workers government.

The LFI WPB’s leadership whole orientation towards the “Anti-capitalist
Initiative” (ACI) is in itself opportunistically flawed. According to
all reports which have been published this initiative attracted less
people to its foundation conference on 28th April than the number of
people who attended the WPB Anti-capitalism event last autumn. About half
of the 70-80 people present were members of Workers Power and its two
right-wing splits (the Permanent Revolution group and the Cooper/Hardy
group). The rest of the participants were in their majority divided
between various organised and unorganised leftists and some libertarian
university students.

This ACI is neither a reflection of the radicalisation of sectors of the
working class or proletarian youth. Nor does it reflect sectors of
centrism which are moving to the left. It is rather a combination of
centrists moving to the right (who are questioning the “shibboleths” of
the revolutionary pre-party organisations, of Bolshevism, who are
wondering if Leninism might have been responsible for Stalinism etc.)
and some libertarian university students. In short according to all
accounts it is a small petty-bourgeois combination of right-wing
centrists and libertarian forces. While the LFI/WPB’s leadership
correctly criticised the right-wing splitters for their capitulation
towards libertarian views, they themselves orientate to the same milieu
and opportunistically adapt their propaganda to it.

How we did it in the past
This is a break from our revolutionary tradition in the past. While the
LFI majority (at that time the left-centrists and the right-wing
liquidationist were united against us, the Bolshevik wing in the LFI)
accused us of a “sectarian” approach to reformism and centrism, the
opposite was and is true. In the 2000s we had proven in practice by our
work in the Austrian section that we are capable much better than the
rest of the LFI in Europe to intersect with militant sectors of the
masses, putting demands on the bureaucracy and repeatedly force the
reformists and centrists into united front initiatives with us and
combine this with an intransigent revolutionary profile. We initiated or
co-initiated a number of demonstrations and school student strikes with
thousands of participants. As a result our leading comrades could
several times address in speeches thousands of workers and youth at
demonstrations. (Some of them you can see at our youtube channel
http://www.youtube.com revolutioncommunism
http://www.youtube.com/revolutioncommunism

We also played an
initiating and leading role in an electoral left alliance in summer 2008
(called “THE LEFT”). But in opposite to the LFI/WPB’s leadership policy
today we did this with a revolutionary programme and with a sharp
profile from the beginning. Our slogan “Expropriate the super-rich!”
enraged the bourgeois media and annoyed the left-reformists and
centrists inside the alliance. But we also won sympathises and through
our focus on on-the-ground agitation in a working class district in
Vienna we recruited a number of workers and youth. The reports about all
this can still be found in the section “Austria” on the LFI’s website.
And on the RCIT website you will find a report, photos and videos of the
internationalist MayDay 2012 demonstration in Vienna with 1.500
participants organised by a united front in which the Austrian RCIT
comrades played a leading role. In all these years we had not only a
sharp, revolutionary, public profile but also a sharp critic against the
centrist forces.

In contrast when WPB won a leading position in a mass movement as it
did in the university student movement in 2010 — it unfortunately
collapsed into opportunist adaption towards the petty-bourgeois milieu.
When the mass movement hit the streets against the austerity plans of
the Cameron government in autumn 2010 and the general strike slogan
became an important tactic, the WPB leadership rejected agitation for a
general strike and even criticised the SWP for raising this slogan as
“too advanced”! Instead of engaging in a sharp political struggle
against the various centrist and libertarian forces, the WPB leadership
looked for a peaceful co-existence with them in various left-wing
university student alliances. In the end LFI/WPB became centrist itself
and instead of growing it lost 1/3 of its members in Britain.

Similarly the LFI section in Austria nearly all of them university
students declined politically and organisationally after our
expulsion. They announced in public a self-criticism that they want to
correct the “one-sided”, “superficial” positions on Palestine and many
other issues which the Austrian section published under our leadership
in the past decade. Since then not a single document has appeared which
proved the so-called “one-sidedness” of our past positions or which
contained better, “more differentiated” positions. The ideological class
struggle against left-reformism and centrism has de facto disappeared
from the LFI Austria propaganda. No theoretical document has been
published. They also ceased the publication of their e-mail newsletter,
suspended the publication of its paper for half a year and hardly had
any public meetings in the past 12 months. At the same time the Austrian
RCIT section has not only published a monthly paper, two issues of its
theoretical journal, run a regularly updated website and newsletter but
also worked hard and successfully to recruit a number of workers and
working class youth (including migrants from the lower strata of the
working class). And at the same time it participated actively in the
formation process of the RCIT. In fact Austria is a model for the
charlatanry of the LFI majority’s critique against us. They argued for
our expulsion as a need “to prevent a damage of the section in Austria”.
Well, since they “saved” the Austrian section from the Bolsheviks, it
hasn’t produced any theory, hardly any kind of propaganda and hardly any
public meetings took place — this is the new work mode of the sections
since then. In addition to it, Riedl who was encouraged from the LFI to
lead the section played a central role in the liquidationist split, and
the one or other will follow him soon. If this is a successful way to
prevent damage, than we hope that we had not learn anything of it.

What is the cause of the centrist degeneration?
All these failures and adaption’s towards centrism are not accidently.
The right-wing split is just the most consistent form of the political
degeneration which the LFI has undergone in the recent past. These
fundamental problems are related to a wrong understanding of the tasks
of a revolutionary communist organisation in the present period.

A central task of a communist pre-party organisation is to speak out the
truth as it sees it. Unfortunately in the last years a number of LFI
cadres have shared the post-modernist, neo-Gramscian method of Luke
Cooper which is alien to the materialist dialectic. As a result the LFI
majority overthrew at its Congress in 2010 our traditional method of
characterising historical periods. Hence they rejected our analyses of
the period after 2001 as “pre-revolutionary” and of the present period
as “revolutionary”. The same petty-bourgeois method led them to reject
the Leninist position that the labour aristocracy is a small top layer
in the working class which is politically backward and bribed by the
bourgeoisie. They rather believe that the labour aristocracy is the best
organised and most militant sector of the class who gets privileges
because of its class struggle. While the LFI leadership
opportunistically overstate the progressive character of the labour
aristocracy, it underestimates the importance of the middle and lower
strata of the working class and of the national oppressed layers. This
is why they reject our analyses of migrants in imperialist countries as
“in their huge majority nationally oppressed and super-exploited layers
of the working class.” At the same time they tend to welcome
assimilation of migrants into the majority nation as progressive. This
is why we advocate the complete equality of languages of minorities and
the abolition of the state language as the Bolsheviks did (again against
the opposition of a substantial minority at the LFI congress in 2010).
This is why we advocate support for an independent state of oppressed
nations if they have demonstrated in past struggles that they wish for
this. We combine it with the perspective of working class power. This is
why the RCIT advocates a “Socialist Tamil Eelam” in Sri Lanka and an
“Azad, Socialist Kashmir” and an “Azad, Socialist Baluchistan” in
Pakistan.

This includes the propaganda and agitation of the necessary strategies
and tactics for the working class struggle. It also includes the warning
of the vanguard from its wrong friends — the right-wing and left-wing
labour bureaucrats and the centrists of various colours. It means
calling things by their name. That’s why the unambiguous advocacy of
revolutionary tactics, the sharp criticism of the reformist and centrist
forces, the class characterisation of movements and political formations
etc. are indispensable for a communist pre-party organisation.

Why did the LFI degenerate so quickly in the last years? Why did a whole
sector of its leadership cadre renounce Leninism and Trotskyism and
denounce the task of building revolutionary organisations? Of course
there are several reasons but the most important factor is that the LFI
in most sections has a bad class composition, a dominance of university
students, intellectuals and labour aristocrats since many years. It is a
joke to have such a composition over years in imperialist countries
where the working class (especially the lower and middle strata)
represents the absolute majority of the population. This is a serious
problem particularly in the new historic period where the class struggle
from above and from below is sharpening enormously. In such a period the
pressures not only from the bourgeoisie but also from the various
sectors of the progressive petty bourgeoisie and the labour bureaucracy
are increasing enormously. The worse the class composition of a
revolutionary organisation is, the more difficult it is to stand against
these political and ideological pressures.

Trotsky once remarked that  “..the more the party is petty-bourgeois in
its composition, the more it is dependent upon the changes in the
official public opinion.” (Leon Trotsky: From a Scratch To the
Danger of Gangrene (1940); in Leon Trotsky: In Defense of Marxism, New
York 1990, p. 113;
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/idom/dm/21-scratch1.htm)

Indeed the recent degeneration of the LFI is a living proof for Trotsky
observation. The right-wing liquidationist split and the shift of the
LFI to the right is a reflection of the public opinion in the labour
movement and the petty-bourgeois intelligenzija (via the occupation
movement etc.).

A bad class composition is not a disaster in itself … under the
pre-condition that the organisation recognises this situation as a
serious weakness which leads to degeneration if it is not overcome after
a certain, rather shorter than longer, period and therefore undertakes
bold and decisive measures to improve the class composition. This is why
in the years before our expulsion from the LFI — we proposed and
fought for a number of measures for the proletarisation of the LFI and
the Austrian section. As well as we not only argued but also tried to
initiate projects to win more young proletarian people, migrants and
women to the LFI. One of these projects was the building of womens
collectives, followed by a womens organisation in Austria which focused
on building roots of the organisation in a proletarian district. While
several LFI leaders expressed agreement in general for some of the
positions and projects no serious steps were undertaken and in the end
we were denounced as “workerists”. The LFI leaders even made sure to
dissolve the women organisation in Austria.

The leadership explicitly rejected the idea that a bad class composition
is a problem for the LFI. It claimed that in small organisation the
class composition is necessary and unavoidable like this. In a letter to
the LSR conference in February 2011 the leadership of the German section
wrote that the social composition of the fighting propaganda group like
the LFI sections “will have a disproportional high share of university
students or better educated, political interested workers (skilled
workers)”. The reason they gave is: “because of the dominant role of
propaganda”. The Austrian supporters of the LFI majority argued
similarly in a statement: “It is perfectly natural that fighting
propaganda groups tend because of its very high requirements for a
membership tendentially not to be dominated by the lowest layers.”

In other words fighting for the working class interest with a communist
programme requires … “education”, i.e. bourgeois education. Therefore,
according to the LFI leadership, the mass of the global working class —
particularly in the semi-colonial world — which posses a relatively
lower level of education it is rather difficult to meet the requirements
of the type of communist organisation the LFI wants to build. For the
LFI leaders, the well-educated intellectuals and labour aristocrats (of
whom disproportionally many live in the imperialist countries) are more
fit. For us this is no Marxism. Is it really “perfectly natural” to
build an organisation which should make the future revolutionary party
possible, that has the goal to free the working class and all oppressed,
that such an organisation is not lead, not even dominated in its
composition by workers, women, migrants, oppressed nations although they
are the absolute majority in the world? It is only “perfectly natural”
in the halls of the universities in the imperialist countries, but in
the rest of the world it is just “perfectly pervert”.

As a side note it is not without irony that exactly those people who
lectured us about the difficulty for workers from the lower strata to
meet the “very high requirements for a membership”, that exactly the
same people who authored these lines deserted the LFI only one year
later. The truth is the opposite: it is much more difficult for the
petty-bourgeois intellectuals to meet the “very high requirements for a
membership/” than for the workers! The truth is that for workers
(excluding the small layer of bribed aristocrats) it is easier to
understand the Marxist Weltanschauung of their class and to fight for
it than for the non-proletarian layers. We have to ask ourselves: Is it
healthier to have an organisation of mainly workers and working class
youth, even if some of them leave the organisation due to their hard
living conditions and therefore the lack of energy and time? Or should
Marxist prefer an organisation of petty-bourgeois intellectuals and
labour aristocrats who do not carry Marxist positions into the working
class but push the organisation to break with Bolshevism and try to
reconcile the political activity with their lifestyle? Ours is the first
option. And the LFI? Did we not see in the last years a huge increase of
mainly university students who instead of dedicating their life to the
cause of working class liberation struggle preferred to reconcile the
political activity with their lifestyle?!

Trotsky on the question of the class composition of communist pre-party
organisations
In contrast to the views of the LFI leadership Trotskyadvised the
Bolshevik-Leninists in all phases in the 1920s and 1930s to orientate
themselves mainly to the workers and here in particular the mass of the
workers and not to the privileged layers or even the university
students. For example in 1929 — immediately after the foundation of the
Communist League of America — he wrote about the need to find a way to
the oppressed layers of the proletariat:

“The trade union bureaucrats, like the bureaucrats of false Communism,
live in the atmosphere of aristocratic prejudices of the upper strata of
the workers. It will be tragedy it the Oppositionists are infected even
in the slightest degree with these qualities. We must not only reject
and condemn these prejudices; we must burn them out of our consciousness
to the last trace; we must find the road to the most deprived, to the
darkest strata of the proletariat, beginning with the Negro, whom
capitalist society has converted into Pariah and who must learn to see
in us his revolutionary brothers. And this depends wholly upon our
energy and devotion to the work.” (Leon Trotsky: A Letter to the
American Trotskyists (1929), in Trotsky Writings 1929, p. 133f.)

In another document in 1932 he argued in favour of a different approach
towards intellectuals than towards workers, in particular from the lower
strata. What he said would be most likely denounced as “workerism” by
the present-day LFI leaders if it would come from our pen and not
from Trotsky’s:

“When ten intellectuals, whether in Paris, Berlin, or New York, who
have already been members of various organizations, address themselves
to us with a request to be taken into our midst, I would offer the
following advice: Put them through a series of tests on all the
programmatic questions; wet them in the rain, dry them in the sun, and
then after a new and careful examination accept maybe one or two.

The case is radically altered when ten workers connected with the
masses turn to us. The difference in our attitude to a petty-bourgeois
group and to the proletarian group does not require any explanation. But
if a proletarian group functions in an area where there are workers of
different races, and in spite of this remains composed solely of workers
of a privileged nationality, then I am inclined to view them with
suspicion. Are we not dealing perhaps with the labor aristocracy? Isn’t
the group infected with slave-holding prejudices, active or passive?

It is an entirely different matter when we are approached by a group of
Negro workers. Here I am prepared to take it for granted in advance that
we shall achieve agreement with them, even if such an agreement is not
actual as yet. Because the Negro workers, by virtue of their whole
position, do not and cannot strive to degrade anybody, oppress anybody,
or deprive anybody of his rights. They do not seek privileges and cannot
rise to the top except on the road of the international revolution.

We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro
workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers, and all the oppressed
in the human ocean of the colored races to whom belongs the decisive
word in the development of mankind. (Leon Trotsky: Closer to the
Proletarians of the Colored Races (1932), in: Trotsky Writings 1932, p. 112)

In a discussion Trotsky had during his visit in Kopenhagen 1932 he
advised comrades about their attitude towards a student or an academic,
that “the workers movement for its part must regard him with the
greatest scepticism. (…) When he has worked with the workers movement
this way (for three, four or five years), then the fact that he was an
academican is forgotten, the social difference disappear. (Leon
Trotsky: On Students and Intellectuals (1932), in: Trotsky Writings
1932, p. 333)

We in the RCIT have the view that a communist pre-party organisation
should orientate itself to the working class and not the petty-bourgeois
intellectuals and labour aristocrats. Unfortunately the LFI rejects this
and has become a victim of what wecall “aristocratism” the
orientation to aristocratic layers and the accommodation to various
positions and prejudices of the labour aristocracy.

This is related to the distortion of the concept of the “fighting
propaganda group” by the present-day leadership of the LFI. In their
recent “/Statement on Resignations…” they described their view of the
“fighting propaganda group” as follows: “We stand by our
self-understanding as a group whose principal task is to defend and
develop the revolutionary programme and to address the major questions
of strategy and tactics facing the working class in its living struggles./”

This reflects a completely one-sided, un-dialectical understanding of
the tasks of a Bolshevik pre-party organisation. Yes, of course its task
is to “defend and develop the revolutionary programme and to address
the major questions of strategy and tactics”. But this alone is not
sufficient and even a passive propaganda circle could do this. What is
the value of a programme and of strategies and tactics IF they are not
transmitted into the class and its vanguard, IF they are not translated
into recruiting workers and proletarian youth members who are fighting
for this programme and who have roots in the class, IF they therefore do
not lead to a communist pre-party organisation with a mainly working
class composition?!

If a communist organisation does not achieve this, it is not a “fighting
propaganda group” but rather a “commenting propaganda group” which is
isolated from the working class and the oppressed layers.

*Ignoring the August Uprising in Britain as the synthesis of theory
and practice of Aristocratism*

The wrong analysis of the class positions of the labour aristocracy and
the lower and middle strata of the working class as well as the nature
of national oppression of migrants on one hand and the wrong
understanding of the tasks of a communist pre-party organisation on the
other hand found their culmination, its test in practice, in the
position of the LFI/WPB/REVOLUTION leadership during the August
Uprising in Britain in summer 2011. This was an Uprising of the working
class youth, black and migrants after the police killed a black father
of four children, Mark Duggan. According to figures of Scotland Yard,
more than 30.000 youth participated in this uprising which lasted for 5
days. As a completely spontaneous uprising it included a number of
lootings. But in the first line it was an uprising against police
repression. (Our analysis, perspectives and tactics can be read on our
website: Nina Gunic’ and Michael Pröbsting: The strategic task: From
the uprising to the revolution! These are not “riots” this is an
uprising of the poor in the cities of Britain!,
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-uprising-of-the-poor;
The August Uprising in Britain – A Report of the RKOB delegation on its
visit in London in August 2011.
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-report-from-uprising;//Michael
Pröbsting: What would a revolutionary organisation have done? August
uprising of the poor, the nationally and racially oppressed in Britain.
http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-august-uprising/;
Michael Pröbsting: Five days that shook Britain but didn’t wake up the
left. The bankruptcy of the left during the August uprising of the
oppressed in Britain: Its features, its roots and the way forward,
http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/britain-left-and-the-uprising/)This character was, despite some wavering, occasionally acknowledged
even by the LFI/WPB leadership itself. After the Uprising the British
comrades wrote in a statement “The August 2011 riots will be remembered
as a working class youth uprising against repression, racism and the
recession. Workers Power stands solidly with the youth and against the
police.” (Workers Power: The political situation in Britain after the
August uprising; Resolution on the political situation after the riots,
19.8.2011,
http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/08/political-situation-after-the-august-uprising)

However despite this literary recognition of the character of this mass
uprising (which was contradicted in other statement), the
LFI/WPB/REVOLUTION leadership strongly opposed any participation and a
call for this in this Uprising. During the same time as the Uprising
took place REVOLUTION had its international summer camp close to London.
Given the progressive and mass character of the uprising a number of
young members of REVOLUTION wanted to join and support the uprising. But
the leadership — including Hardy, Cooper, Riedl and the present-day LFI
leaders — all categorically opposed any practical support and
participation in the uprising. Despite the words quoted above, in fact
the leadership saw the uprising as a predominately backward,
un-political, and criminal or even reactionary event. This abstention
from an important class struggle event was even legitimised by the
argument that one does not know the conditions in the area. Leaving
aside that not knowing the concrete circumstances in a city did not stop
us in the revolutionary past of the LFI to intervene in mass struggles
(for example in Genoa/Italy in 2001, in Gleneagles/Britain in 2005 or in
Heiligendamm/Germany 2007), it is a damaging acknowledgment if the
comrades do not know and don’t have any connection to the area in an
important working class district in London (Tottenham) where the LFI has
its strongest branch since more than 35 years!

In fact this event demonstrated the practical consequences of
aristocratism and a petty-bourgeois decadence of middle class people. In
a report called “Summer, sun, socialism – that was our international
summer camp this year'”  the comrades told the public about
“interesting workshops” and the “opportunity of sports and leisure
facilities of the camping grounds”. “Every day we watched the events
of the ‘riots’ in London and discussed about it at the Camp plenary. So
we adopted for example a resolution and an international united front
call against police violence and about the conditions for the British
youth. Since as a youth organization we also like to fete, we had in the
evening parties at a big camp fire or in the community tent.” (see
http://www.onesolutionrevolution.de/?p=1645) How can an organization
call itself “revolutionary” if it prefers to have parties and drink a
lot every evening, while at the same time thousands of youth fight
against the police on the streets only a few kilometers away!?

Conclusion
Comrades, mistakes can happen, even grave mistakes can happen. But the
worst thing is not to make mistakes, but to fail in recognising them,
not to learn from them and not to make the necessary sharp corrections.
If this happens a constant repetition and deepening of the mistakes are
unavoidable. And indeed as we have shown in this letter and in other
documents this is what happened with the LFI in the last year. This is a
shame given the enormous possibilities of class struggle in the present
period to build a strong international revolutionary organisation. But
one cannot achieve this without an unambiguous Bolshevik method and a
revolutionary programme which is applied to the concrete practical and
theoretical questions of the class struggle. We have summarised our
analysis, our lessens and our programme in “The Revolutionary Communist
Manifesto” (which can be read online at the moment only in English
and German language on the RCIT website http://www.thecommunists.net
http://www.thecommunists.net). We would welcome to debate this
programme with you.

Comrades, we have drawn our conclusions from the past experience. After
the bureaucratic expulsion of the “Bolshevik Opposition” in April 2011
and the left-wing splits in other countries comrades in Pakistan, Sri
Lanka, USA and Austria have joined forces with other militants and
founded the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT). We
stand for the continuity of the revolutionary tradition which the LFI
represented in the past. We call all members of the LFI to break with
the policy of centrist degeneration which is dominating the LFI.

Bolshevik Greetings,
Michael Pröbsting and Shujat Liaqat (for the RCIT)

Further Reading:  Workers Power Conference 2012: Divisions, Expulsions, Appeals And Split – The VOAG Investigates.