Written by ISL – UK
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 15:36
Part of the turmoil in the revolutionary left has led to the International Socialist Network becoming involved in a regroupment process. The ISN was formed by comrades who had left the Socialist Workers Party last year because of the SWP’s refusal to properly investigate an allegation of rape against one of their leading members by a young SWP comrade (http://goo.gl/vOayU5).
The regroupment process involves three other groups at the moment — Socialist Resistance, Anti-Capitalist Initiative and Workers Power. Each group has a right of veto over whether or not to include other groups in the process. While the ISN is interested in widening out to involve other groups, Socialist Resistance is not.
The International Socialist League approached the ISN about participating in this process and at the ISN national meeting in March they voted by 24 to accept the ISL into the project with just one abstention.
The manner of discussion with the ISN is open, honest and serious. This does not mean that we are in agreement with everything with the ISN but we believe they are genuinely seeking a class struggle alternative.
It is essential that all the parties participating place the programmatic discussion at the centre. This discussion, however, should not be threatened by a veto from any of the “group of four” which began the merging process.
We think there is a basis on which we should join the “group of four”, since there is a genuine will to build a new organisation in which we could discuss and approve, in the near future, a revolutionary programme. Such a progamme would need to discuss the central problems facing the working class, how the masses can be united for action against austerity, and how this can be the basis for uniting the masses in a revolutionary struggle for socialism, in which the working class would have to take power in connection with an international revolutionary development of the class struggle.
Tim Nelson, ISN, in a meeting with representatives from the other groups on 18 January said, “The ISN should seek to build joint forums, meetings and action with others on the revolutionary left to build an organic foundation for revolutionary unity”. http:// internationalsocialistnetwork.org/.
Many have tried since the early 1990s but have failed to construct an alternative to Labour or a revolutionary alternative, as there has often been more attention paid to structures than the class struggle and programme. The ISL shares important perspectives with the ISN, such as in rank and file struggle in the unions and communities; women’s oppression and the need to combat male chauvinism in the revolutionary left and in the trade unions; standing class struggle candidates against Labour; and with Syria and Ukraine.
ISL letter to the ISN – 24 February 2014
The ISL is interested in beingpart of the re-groupment process that currently brings together four groups, recognising this as part of a world-wide process, where a number of revolutionary parties have not faced the real tasks of the working class in their country and internationally.
Interest in the regroupment project came from ISL experience in working with members of the ISN in Liverpool on common issues: the student movement, Higher Education strikes, the Syrian revolution, the importance of rank and file struggle against bureaucracy, and the importance of the women’s struggle. We also appreciate the discussion held with ISN members at recent meetings.
Capitalist crisis and programme
The world economic crisis continues to deepen as does the response to it, not only in the Middle East and Europe but also in Turkey, Brazil and other countries. In Europe the euro-zone economy contracted around 1.2% in 2012, and the growing public debt is the pretext used to attack over 50 years of workers’ achievements. Austerity in Britain places the greatest burden on the working class, especially the most vulnerable and minorities.
We are for a revolutionary party that is based in the struggles of the working class and in the struggle for the Fourth International, which is aim of the International Workers League-Fourth International (do not proclaim to be the Fourth International). The IWL seeks to build in the struggle whether in Brazil, Syria, the USA or Britain without self-proclamation and based on a programme that is developed out of the experiences of the working class and our groups.
The ISL perspective for Britain priorities the discussion on programme, which includes, “Rank and file organisations have to fight to control the unions by means of mass meetings and workers’ democracy and it has to build on the rich history of rank and file movements in the post-war period.
“At the same time, we recognize the right of the workers to build new rank and file organisations to replace the degenerated and corrupted traditional unions, when it’s the will of the rank and file to do so and is at the service of the struggles” ISL conference document October 2013. Only the working class can find a way out of the present situation, in alliance with students etc.
A programme has to express perspectives for supporting and linking with the class struggle in relation to Europe and internationally such as in Syria. We think we need to discuss what our programmatic agreements are, out of which can come a new programme and new experiences to test out our agreements in the class struggle.
The ISL thinks the split from the SWP as progressive and the question of fighting women’s and all oppressions is a central point for Marxists. We recognise that all working class organisations face this bourgeois pressure. The IWL and all its sections while oriented in this fight against this pressure recognises that it is not easy and so puts this fight centrally in the programme for revolution.
The ISL has a wide number of contacts in the unions and communities. We have just completed the process of legally registering Old Swan Against the Cuts (OSAC) as a political party to stand in the Liverpool local elections in May. OSAC unanimously rejected standing as TUSC.
OSAC are campaigning against council cuts and closures such as the libraries, for disabled people’s rights and is part of Liverpool Against the Cuts. Two ISL members are part of this group and one was unanimously elected represent the group in the elections. OSAC is 100 per cent working class and the group and the committee is 50 per cent women. Most are taking their first political steps but it is possible that if Left Unity develops more towards the working class they can be part of that.
Some regroupment experiences
The regroupment process is an important part of the IWL tradition and practice. Not all regroupments end successfully but each experience can be rewarding to help develop towards a revolutionary party. In June 1992 comrades in the CS (our current in Lula’s PT) in Brazil were expelled from the PT. In response the CS formed the Revolutionary Front which at a Congress in April 1993 became the PSTU with the fusion of CS into the new party alongside a number of smaller groups. Not all remained. It took another year to discuss which International to join. In that case the choice was the IWL or the CWI.
In Argentina in May 2011 after eleven months of debates, discussions, common activities and mutual agreements the merger took place between the FOS (Socialist Workers’ Front) and the COI (Internationalist Workers Trend). This party was formed amidst the Arab revolution where the youth and the workers played a key role, amidst the workers’ strikes against social adjustments in Europe, the mobilizations in Bolivia – against the populist governments’ policies – and Honduras and the riots in the United States against anti-immigrant laws.
In the first week of January 2007, the foundational Congress of Partito di Alternativa Comunista (PdAC) of Italy was held as a new stage of the organisation PC-ROL (Progretto Comunista – Rifondar Opposizione del Lavoratori). This party had had important experiences inside Rifondazione Comunista. Soon after it joined the IWL. There are also long experiences in Spain and Portugal.
Advances but of course also mistakes are part of our international experience, only those who don’t fight never make mistakes, the point of course is to learn from them.
The PSTU in Brazil is large and has strength in the working class, so they can attain important leadership positions. The special conditions in Brazil, the dictatorship, the lack of a social democratic party, the betrayals of the communist party meant the working class had to build a new party after 1979 and that was the Workers Party, which our comrades helped build. They also had an input into the founding programme, which included the position what is won is won on the streets and class fights, parliament can be used but not to replace the class struggle.
The PSTU are able to be an important part of the leadership in CSP-Conlutas federation. CSP-Conlutas includes 100s of trade unions, trade union tendencies, social movements (homeless, landless etc), Quilombo Race and Class and ANEL, (an alternative national student union to UNE).