Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More on the Workers' Power split

The following statement has been issued by the group expelled from Workers' Power:

The Split in the LFI: expelled members respond

On 1 July the leadership of the League for the Fifth International (LFI) summarily expelled 33 members, mostly from the organisation’s British section, Workers Power but also comrades based in Australia and Ireland. Those expelled included the majority of Workers Power’s trade union activists, and a substantial proportion of its leading members and regular contributors to its paper.

The supposed pretext for the expulsions consisted of “leaked” emails that discussed the possibility of leaving the organisation either prior to or during the LFI’s congress later this month. The LFI leadership issued a very lengthy public statement branding the expelled members as “petit-bourgeois dilettantes”, who had succumbed to the “torpor of the labour aristocracy in Britain” and were seduced by “Chinamania”. Along with the ritualised abuse, the statement contains a number of inaccuracies and falsehoods that cannot be addressed here, but have already been answered in a statement from the expelled members (go to

The real reason for the expulsions stems from substantial political differences which had developed over two years and resulted in minority and majority factions being formed. The expulsions marked the culmination of a long-running battle within Workers Power and the LFI, which first saw the emergence of an organised tendency in Workers Power (Britain) early last year. In March 2006, came the formation of an international faction for the first time in the history of the LFI and its forerunners.

An increasingly bitter dispute had developed over perspectives since the LFI’s last congress in 2003. That congress adopted what those of us now expelled had characterised as a "catastrophist" outlook on the world economy. This view provided a justification of sorts for the notion of a global "pre-revolutionary period" characterized by capitalist stagnation and crisis. It was accompanied by a "new turn" towards mass agitation that seemed designed to feed younger members recruited through the youth group, Revolution, a diet of hyper-activism. Under pressure from the tendency/faction the leadership retreated from some of the language of 2003, but did not discard the substance.

Increasingly, schemas replaced concrete assessments of the balance of class forces in particular countries and regions. The need for a serious analysis of imperialist globalization, the impact on the world economy of the collapse of the Stalinist states and the opening up of these regions to capitalist exploitation, the rise of China as an economic and political power, was dismissed. In the mindset of the LFI leadership the World Social Forum/European Social Forum became the vehicle for the imminent creation of a 5th International to be formed “in months or years”. Every fightback, large or small, was evidence of the new pre revolutionary period internationally.

The call for a “new workers party” became a mantra in Britain and a slogan applicable throughout Europe. Using the critical support tactic towards the Labour Party in Britain was abandoned – electoral abstention became the order of the day, with the tactic of critical support categorically rejected, even in circumstances where the BNP posed a significant electoral threat.

Workers Power issued a blanket call on the unions to simply disaffiliate from Labour despite the absence of a credible alternative. The leadership directed the group to act as footsoldiers for the Socialist Party’s Campaign for a New Workers Party, a left reformist project that has had precious little resonance to date.

As in most every faction fight, comradely relations broke down and with them went the once healthy norms of the organisation’s internal democracy. The LFI leadership increasingly resorted to organisational measures to marginalise the influence of the tendency/faction. The British organisation on the eve of the expulsions was already effectively split into separate youth/adult branches – ones that represented different factions. This was done against our will and against the group’s constitution.

The majority refused representation on the Political Committee to faction supporters, reducing Workers Power’s executive body to a factional tool of the majority – disciplinary commissions were set up with ever wider remits to hunt faction members on trumped up charges of indiscipline.

The expulsions have only brought forward the inevitable. It had become clear to the minority that the LFI leadership had no intention of allowing the fight to go beyond this month’s planned congress, much less of attempting to reach a higher synthesis through collective working.

For us this is not a time for despair but for purposeful reflection and action. Our intention now is to launch a new organisation in the very near future – in Britain a new magazine Permanent Revolution will be on sale shortly – not least because we wish to defend and develop what was best in the tradition of Workers Power (Britain) and its international tendency. This includes a commitment to international regroupment of the revolutionary Marxist left through a process of dialogue, debate, splits and fusions.

Permanent Revolution steering group 2nd July 2006.

[Hat tip: Unknown Conscience]

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