National Sections of the L5I:

Draft Manifesto of the League 2010

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This draft manifesto is part of the ongoing discussion in the League as part of our plan to update our programme. Our last programme From Protest to Power was adopted in 2003 and needs to be renewed to reflect the current events taking place in the world today.

We also intend to propose this manifesto as the political basis for any Fifth International that is founded.

We welcome comments, criticisms and ideas from socialists and revolutionaries across the world - please email

From Resistance to Revolution

A Programmatic Manifesto for a Fifth International

The Great Capitalist Crisis is a time of intense class warfare. Everywhere the exploiters are trying to make the workers, the poor peasants, the excluded, the suffering masses pay the price of the crisis. Everywhere the masses say: “We won’t pay!” But our leaders - social democrats, Labourites, official Communists, nationalists, populists, say: “You must!” Therefore: it is time for the Fifth International!

1. Two decades of US-dominated globalisation have brought the world not only the deepest but the most synchronised and integrated crisis since the Second World War. Every nation has been hit as world trade slumped by 20% and production collapsed - by as much as 30% in Japan. Panicked by the prospect of complete financial breakdown, the leaders of the most powerful nations agreed to combat the crisis by huge state bailouts of bankrupt banks that were "too big to fail". But there were to be no bailouts for the workers: nobody decided we were too poor to be allowed to fail.

2. The vast sums necessary to recapitalise the banks were raised on the international money markets, that is, from wealthy individuals, corporations and sovereign funds, on a historically unprecedented scale. In the Eurozone, whose members are supposed to keep budget deficits below 3 per cent of GDP, these borrowings have doubled or tripled that figure. Even that is dwarfed in the US and the UK, where the financial meltdown originated. Their deficits have reached 13.9 and 11.6 per cent of GDP respectively.

3. The crisis of 2008-10 has opened a new period of historic crisis for the capitalist system as a whole. It is more than just a typical recessionary phase of the business cycle. It is a period in which the major powers and their corporations will struggle to enforce a fundamental re-division of the world’s markets, raw materials and sources of exploitable labour. Its roots lie in the failure of the neoliberal measures and institutions (IMF, WTO, World Bank, G8) of the globalisation period to solve the problem of an enormous over-accumulation of capital, relative to a declining rate of profit and a ballooning of fictitious capital as against real values. To this must be added a deepening ecological crisis.

4. Yet, since the most powerful states effected their rescue, the banks have returned to business as usual, charging the governments for negotiating their own loans and the surviving corporations for negotiating takeovers of their collapsed rivals. More recently, surging bank profits have been boosted by fees for arranging for governments to buy back their own debt through "Quantitative Easing" - the modern form of printing money. Although these measures have provided increases in GDP, much of this “growth” is the result of new bubbles rather than increased production. Therefore, despite any recovery, bankruptcies, factory closures and mass unemployment will continue and, in the years and decades ahead, major economic shocks are a certainty and a long period of prosperity is ruled out.

5. The prospect for the world's workers and peasants would be bleak indeed if there were not another side to the coin. Around the world, the workers and the oppressed have fought back against the crisis; there were factory occupations in the US, Britain and China, mass demonstrations and general strikes in France, Venezuela and Guadeloupe, popular uprisings in Bolivia. The armed resistance of the people in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq and recently the heroic popular resistance to the coup d’état in Honduras represent a challenge to US imperialism, its Nato allies and its regional agents, like Israel.

6. As the economy slowly staggers out of recession, bankers and world leaders continue their conferencing. They are terrified that their emergency packages have made matters worse by saddling them with historically unprecedented debts or that the new speculative and stock market bubbles will burst and throw them into a “double-dip” recession. They take the advice of their economists, who only yesterday said there could be no crisis. They all agree that the first priority has to be repaying their rich creditors, with interest. If they failed in this, where would the next loans come from?

7. They all agree, too, on who must make these repayments to the richest people and corporations on the planet: the workers and peasants of the world. After all they are the real source of all new wealth. They must boost profits by taking pay or pension cuts or by losing their jobs altogether. Through the inflation caused by international speculation they must pay more and more for the necessities of life. Their social services, their education, their health and housing budgets, all must be slashed so the loans can be repaid, with interest. Around the world, workers are already alerted to the threats as political parties vie with one another as to who can best "restore the economy", that is, repay the debts, with interest.

8. But the heroic struggles to resist paying the price of the crisis the working class and popular movements have been frustrated, have seen victories snatched from their grasp, not so much by the strength of our enemies as by the weakness or treachery of our own leaders. Nor did we have an international organization to bring together our struggles, decide on our strategy and lead our fight back. The bosses and their governments have their G8 and their G20, their IMF and their World Bank, their UN and their World Economic Forum. What do we have? Certainly we have the remnants of the organizations our ancestors built - trades unions and workers' parties. But many are now shadows of what they once were and, worse still, their leaders can see no alternative to the economic system that created the crisis. Indeed, many positively support it; the United Auto Workers, the US car workers' union, is now a major shareholder in General Motors, negotiating pay cuts to "save" the company.

9. More recently there has been a worldwide movement of resistance to globalization. After the mass demonstrations in Seattle and Genoa, huge numbers identified themselves as "anti-capitalist" once more. This movement stressed its international character - the World Social Forum gave some expression to this, the global demonstrations against the US war on Iraq in February 2003 proved its huge potential. Yet this youthful movement showed not only a correct impatience and distrust of the established political and trade union leaderships but also, wrongly, a rejection of all political leadership, all overtly political organisation and the very notion of struggling for power. Now, however, the ongoing economic crisis, ongoing wars and accelerating environmental catastrophe, make it clear that political leadership, democratic and centralized leadership, a struggle for power is unavoidable.

10. Faced with this prospect, anti-capitalists worldwide must learn the lessons not just from our recent history but from two centuries of class struggle against capitalism. The highest achievements of those struggles were the four Internationals which fought to organise the class struggle of the world's workers and their allies against capitalism as a world system. The task today is to build the Fifth International.

11. Its immediate objective must be to promote the development of fighting forces that can make mass resistance more and more effective and transform it into the international revolution that alone can lay the foundation of the “other world” that billions dream of. The programme of the Fifth International thus aims at the transformation and coordination of our existing organisations – trade unions, peasant and landless workers leagues, popular movements of the shantytowns, women’s and youth organisations - into weapons of this revolution. It aims to unite political forces – from existing parties and from new layers - in every country into a section of the new International.

12. The task is urgent but the building must have firm foundations. Its strength will be a common understanding of the capitalist world, of the historic goals of the working masses, of the tactics and strategy needed in the fight to overthrow capitalism and the states that defend it all embodied in its programme. The historic crisis of capitalism, which threatens humanity with both economic and environmental catastrophe, poses once again the question ‘socialism or barbarism?’ It challenges revolutionary Marxists to respond to the task of realising socialism in the 21 century and to become once more the leading force in the world movement of the working class and all the oppressed.

Socialist and Communist Parties block the road to working class power

13. The existing leaders of the workers and the oppressed and exploited showed just how weak they are by their actions in the crisis of 2008-2010. Despite a spontaneous popular rejection of the bail-out of the bankers at our expense, the leaders of unions and socialist parties alike meekly accepted it. They felt they had no alternative. Yet there was an alternative, one they had all abandoned decades ago; socialisation of the banks, with no compensation to the billionaires, whilst guaranteeing the savings, pensions and jobs of the workers.

14. They remain stubbornly opposed to any attempt to take state power out of the hands of our class enemies, to replace their power with one rooted in the mass organisations of the working millions. They simply have no programme to dismantle and replace a bankrupt system, which exploits and degrades the productive force of human labour and the resources of nature.

15. Thus the crisis of capitalism creates an ever-deeper crisis of leadership in the movements of the exploited and oppressed. If it is to overcome this crisis and lead on to a victorious, 21st century world revolution, the Fifth International must be founded and its sections built in every country. It must transform the national labour movements, becoming a World Party of Socialist Revolution.

16. In the rich imperialist countries of Europe and certain privileged countries of the Global South, Social Democratic and Labour parties have served the capitalists as parties of government for nearly a century. More recently, the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) has followed the same path. A privileged layer of bureaucrats and parliamentarians, who regard capitalism as an eternal system and serve the bosses whether in government or opposition, frustrate the workers’ attempts to use these parties as weapons of struggle. Although they once traded their services for limited reforms which benefited their memberships, over the last twenty years they have adopted the neoliberal, pro-market, privatisation policies dictated by the capitalist class. Their “reforms” today are cuts in welfare, privatisation, attacks on wages.

17. Since the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, in Eastern Europe and in China, the Stalinist Communist parties of the world have also moved far to the right. In West and Central Europe they have occupied part of the political space vacated by neoliberal social democracy. In words they have criticised neoliberalism but in practice, as soon as they got even a share of government, parties like Rifondazione Comunista in Italy,, the Parti Communiste Française and Die Linke in Germany supported social cuts and privatisation.

18. In India, too, the two main Communist Parties (CPI and CPI-M) have followed a similar path. Ruling for capitalism has led the CPI and CPI-M government in West Bengal to act as enforcer for foreign and domestic capital against the villagers and tribal peoples whose land they wish to expropriate. The repression wreaked on the villagers of Nandigram in West Bengal became infamous worldwide.

19. In apparent contrast to these Communist Parties, some Maoist parties, specifically those in Nepal and India, have played a more revolutionary role. In Nepal, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) played a leading part in the mass movement that overthrew the monarchy. Having won the elections to a Constituent Assembly, the CPN (M) entered into government. It did so in a reformist, parliamentary manner, with its leader Prachanda becoming prime minister in 2008. Less than a year later, he resigned because he was unable to sack the chief of the army. Meanwhile, the Maoist guerrilla forces were disbanded or integrated into the army.

20. This has highlighted, once again, the fundamental error in the Stalinist-Maoist strategy of “revolution by stages”. This is based on the belief that in economically undeveloped countries the working class should not fight for socialism until there has been an entire historic period, or “stage”, of capitalist development. Because of this, the Stalinists oppose the working class taking power and implementing a socialist programme of development. Instead, they insist the working class should form an alliance with the national bourgeoisie and not demand more than a democratic government.

21. However, in such countries, the bourgeoisie is too weak to force through the democratisation of society against domestic and foreign reactionary opposition. Even to achieve the fundamental democratic reforms such as land redistribution, sovereign control over territory and resources, equality of civil rights irrespective of gender, ethnicity or creed, the working class and its allies must take power for themselves. This means breaking up the existing state and replacing it with their own organisations, workers’ and peasants’ councils, supported by a workers’ militia. As Prachanda discovered, anything less than this leaves real power in the hands of the existing regime. When they judge the time is right, they will use it to repress the workers and peasants, if necessary with foreign assistance.

22. Nonetheless, in Nepal, all is not lost. The ensuing governmental crisis has meant that debates over the Trotskyist theory of permanent revolution have taken place in the Maoist party. This could be of critical importance for the class struggle in Asia, if substantial numbers of its cadres from the working class, the intelligentsia and the peasantry can transcend the limits of Maoism and be won to the strategy of permanent revolution. In this process, potentially a key to the victory of the 21st century revolution, the Fifth International can play the decisive role.

23. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has grown as a guerilla force and political movement strongly based among the landless and poor peasantry and Adivasis (tribal peoples) fighting to prevent their lands being taken over by multinationals like Rio Tinto or Indian billionaires like the Mittals and Tata. They pursue the Maoist strategy of surrounding the cities but, in a country with a huge and growing working class, the limitations of the stages theory and the guerilla strategy are evident – they can not provide a strategy for socialist revolution in India.

24. After 1989, those former bureaucrats who had ruled “Communist” states went on to expropriate large parts of the socially owned productive forces as their private property. In the former USSR, the fragments of the old ruling party, the CPSU, have become ferociously chauvinist and racist. In China, the ruling party that restored capitalism still calls itself the Chinese Communist Party and presides over a burgeoning capitalist state of superexploitation and oppression.

25. The two exceptions are the Communist Parties in Cuba and North Korea. The latter is an extreme and bizarre example of Stalinist autarchy and personality cult. Although it must be defended against imperialist attack, it offers no model to the world’s workers and peasants.

26. Cuba, by contrast, has enormous influence. One of its key founders was Che Guevara, an iconic figure and martyr of anti-imperialism, and it is the only state in the Americas where capitalism has been overthrown. Its status rests on its being living “proof” that an alternative to capitalism can exist and survive a near half-century of economic blockade and even the collapse of its Russian Stalinist backers. Its health and education systems, in startling contrast to those of its Caribbean and Latin American neighbours, show something of what a planned economy and the exclusion of imperialist and native capitalist exploiters can do.

27. Since the days of Che and the Tricontinental, however, Cuba’s CP has done little to spread revolution, beyond backing regimes that defy the US. Indeed, at key points, like the Chilean and Nicaraguan revolutionary situations, it has urged caution and strict adherence to the Stalinist stages theory and thereby contributed to the victory of counter-revolution. Within Cuba itself, the one party state offers little room for democratic debate or independent workers’ and peasants’ organisations, instead, the economy is entirely controlled by the party.

28. In the west, the Communist parties are hopelessly reformist, operating as smaller versions of the mass social democratic parties. In the global south the lack of working class democracy, coupled with arguing for a revolution by stages and a commitment to populist policies, renders these parties unable to lead genuine workers’ revolutions. Thus the Stalinist parties and their offshoots in Maoism and Guevarism-Castroism cannot provide a programme for the 21-century socialist revolution.

Political Islamism cannot lead resistance to ultimate victory

29. In some countries political Islamist forces (like Hamas, Hezbollah or even sections of the so-called Taliban and the Yemeni and Somali militias) use radical anti-imperialist rhetoric and head liberation struggles against occupations. They attract youth to their banner by justified demands that the West withdraws its troops from Muslim countries and stops supporting both Israel and the corrupt presidents and kings of the region. While socialists must support every struggle against occupiers and exploiters and, in this sense, defend the Islamist resistance against them, they must also oppose indiscriminate terror aimed at the popular masses or other sects or religions and the socially reactionary character of their policies.

30, Hostility to women’s rights and to democratic and secular freedoms makes political Islamists, for all their promises, an enemy of the emancipation of the poor, the exploited and the oppressed. Socialists must therefore oppose, and organise against, their seizure of power and their imposition of any state based on religious law, observance of which must be solely a matter of choice by believers themselves. In Western states, on the other hand, in accordance with the same principle, we oppose all bans on religious dress or on the building of mosques or minarets. Further, we demand that the state stops subsidies to ALL religious bodies and their schools.

31. The Fifth International must fight for the political independence of the working class and popular masses from Islamism and all other religion-based parties.

Are the Bolivarian parties really different?

32. The answer would seem tat first sight to be yes. In Latin America, the mass movements of resistance by workers and the popular masses of the cities and the countryside have brought to power governments that are more radical than the European Social Democrats, Lula’s PT or the Asian Communist Parties. The governments of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales have carried out genuine reforms for the working class and the urban poor. This alone marks them out from these other parties. Moreover, at a time when capitalist globalisation was still trumpeting itself as “the only way”, they proclaimed themselves socialists, engaged in transferring wealth and power to the working people. As a result, they have earned the hatred of the US imperialists and their own oligarchies. Repeated attempts have been made to overthrow and undermine them.

33. In Venezuela, since the masses defeated a US-backed coup in 2002, the revenues of the nationalised oil industry have been used to finance important social programmes for the poor. Nevertheless, despite being in power since 1998, Hugo Chavez has not expropriated the decisive sectors of the big bourgeoisie or foreign corporations in Venezuela. At best, he has given half-hearted support to various workers’ strikes and occupations; at the same time, his ministers and governors have often repressed such struggles using the police and courts and arrested their leaders.

34. In Venezuela, what Chavez and the PSUV leadership have preserved, up till now, is a modified capitalist system with a strengthened state capitalist sector. As Chavez himself said in mid-2009 “we don’t deny the market, but the free market.” Such a compromise between socialism and capitalism is not sustainable. They are irreconcilable opposites and one must triumph over the other. Social reforms and nationalisations only become socialist when the workers take control of them and their state coordinates and defends them. With workers’ control in the workplace, and workers’ power in the state, it becomes possible to eliminate the waste and chaos of the market and replace it with democratic planning.

35. Similarly, in Venezuelan foreign policy, we can see zigzags between anti-imperialist gestures and support for dictatorial capitalist regimes that repress their own workers, youth and peasants. While Chavez rightly denounces the state terrorism of US imperialism and opposed Israel’s war against Lebanon and the Palestinians, he was wrong to praise the reactionary regimes in Iran, Zimbabwe and China.

36. If the Fifth International is really to be working class, socialist and revolutionary, it must honestly and openly denounce such dictatorships and must support the right of workers to form independent unions there (and in Cuba too!). It must materially and morally support and encourage the democratic rights of women, and the self-determination for national minorities like the Kurds, the Uighurs, and the Tamils. In short, the Fifth International must be totally independent of the foreign policy and alliances of any capitalist state and even any socialist state.

37. Of course, under certain circumstances, it is not excluded that a socialist-minded government, such as those in Venezuela or Bolivia, might be pushed by events to go further than they initially intended. When the Castro-leadership took power in Cuba in 1959 they had no strategy to introduce nationalisation and a planned economy. However, given the aggression of US imperialism and the joining of the camp of the Stalinist Soviet Union, the Castro-leadership created a “socialism” like that in Eastern Europe. While the Cuban revolution certainly brought enormous gains for the workers and peasants and delivered a heavy blow to imperialism, such a strategy is not a model for today’s revolutions.

38. Why? Because it did not create a socialist society but a bureaucratic, one-party regime. Power does not rest on councils of the workers and peasants but rather in the hands of a small stratum of bureaucrats. Similarly, the first attempts to spread the Revolution to other countries (by militants like Che Guevara) were aborted and under the pressure of Moscow a policy of peaceful co-existence with the capitalist regimes in Latin America was implemented. While the Fifth International certainly will defend Cuba against any form of imperialist aggression and pressure it must also open the road to socialism via a political revolution against the Castroite bureaucratic regime.

39. The Fifth International should reject any participation by its sections in any capitalist government. Any government which is not based on councils of the working class and the popular classes and which is not engaged in dismantling capitalist power, both economic and political, is, and remains, a bourgeois government. However, when regimes which have defied the US and the other imperialist powers come under attack, the Fifth International must do all in its power to come to their aid. Within the imperialist countries its sections must fight to undermine the war effort by all the means of the class struggle.

40. The Fifth International must demand from the leaders of the reformist and populist parties, movements and governments that they break with capitalism, stop collaborating with the capitalists and imperialism. It will demand that they set out to expropriate the key sectors of the capitalist class: support the formation of workers’ and popular councils and militias: create workers’ and poop people's governments resting on such councils and militias.

41. At the same time, we call on the rank and file supporters of these parties not to wait for their leaders’ initiative. They should take up the fight for their own vital needs, build their own organs of struggle that are totally independent of the bosses and the state. For this reason, we call on militant unions, radical social movements and all organisations of the workers and oppressed, to build new workers’ parties; parties that use militant tactics and direct action in unceasing daily combat in the workplaces and on the streets. The Fifth International must embody a revolutionary vanguard pointing the road forward to the socialist revolution.

The struggle for power – the strategy of permanent revolution

42. In the imperialist epoch, all fundamental social conflicts, anywhere in the world, pose the need to overthrow capitalism. While this might appear most obvious in the imperialist heartlands themselves, where the fight for jobs, pay, social services and against the social oppression of women, youth and migrants directly confronts the most powerful banks and corporations and the states that defend them, it is no less true in the semi-colonial world.

43. Here, where the great majority of humanity live, all social and economic development is warped by the power of international finance capital and its local agents. To maintain the flow of profits to the imperialists requires more or less openly repressive regimes. Here, social progress demands the achievement of what can broadly be called “democratic demands” – national independence, redistribution of land to those who work it, equal civil rights including universal suffrage, free speech, freedom of assembly and organisation, for all citizens, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or creed.

44. Nonetheless, while these demands can and have driven forward revolutions and inspired the masses to overthrow dictators or imperialist rule, even this does not alter the material conditions that confront society; the modern sectors of the economy are still owned by capitalists, whether foreign or domestic, the banking system is still tied into international finance, trade is dominated by multinational corporations, the imperialist powers who backed the previous regime have not gone away.

45. Time and again in the twentieth century such revolutions failed to realise the hopes of the self-sacrificing masses because they left the capitalist system intact. Capitalism requires the exploitation of the majority, capitalist development demands the concentration of wealth in a few hands. Sooner, rather than later, concentration of wealth is reflected in a new concentration of power and a new subordination to imperialism. That is why, in the semi-colonial world, the Fifth International will fight to link the struggle for democratic demands to the fight to overthrow capitalism itself. Its programme is the programme of Permanent Revolution.

46.The starting point on the road to socialist revolution in all countries is the real ongoing class struggle of the proletariat and the other oppressed classes, nations, races and women. Its first steps are taken in the building, where they do not exist, of independent class organisations (militant unions, movements of socialist women, youth etc, revolutionary parties). To be strong enough to mount a challenge to the political power of the ruling class, the working class and the oppressed must create their own organs, councils of elected and recallable delegates, and build popular militias. Based on such fighting organs, the working class can take power via an armed insurrection against the capitalist state.

47. We reject the notion, held by various social democrats, Stalinists and populists, that socialism can be introduced by parliamentary means. Even a Constituent Assembly, theoretically the most sovereign form of parliament, cannot do this if the capitalist state remains intact and under the control of the capitalists and their military and bureaucratic servants. Who holds the power - the power to coerce? That is the decisive question. A Constituent Assembly can only play an active role in revolutionary change if it is backed up by a mobilised mass movement able to take on and crush the elite and their forces of repression.

48. The struggle for a Constituent Assembly, however, can be of great importance in rallying the working class, the peasants and all the oppressed masses in order to establish democratic rights and to address fundamental questions such as ownership of land and natural resources, democratic and social rights for women, oppressed peoples, etc. Through this it can expose the denial of democratic rights, even by the “progressive” sections of the bourgeoisie, and thus shatter any remaining illusions that the masses have in them. As with all parliaments, the capitalists and landowners will use their control over the media, bribery and corruption, religious authorities, and bureaucratic obstruction to prevent the Assembly truly reflecting the popular will.

49. Therefore, we fight for control over the convening and the elections to a Constituent Assembly by organs of the working class and the popular masses. Where such an Assembly has a majority still wedded to private property, socialists must use participation in its debates, and the publication of full accounts of them, to prove to the working class and the masses that they must go beyond any Constituent Assembly – to the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of organs of working class power. In this way, the struggle for a democratic revolution can, in Lenin’s phrase, “grow over” into the socialist revolution.

50. Whether in a semi-colonial country or an imperialist country, the strategy of permanent revolution includes the internationalisation of the revolution. This is necessary both to defend what has been gained and to achieve the full potential of socialist society. Wherever the workers seize power, they will be attacked by foreign capitalist powers, especially the imperialist powers. The most effective form of defence is the spreading of the revolution to those countries through the mobilisation of their own working classes both to oppose intervention and to pursue their own class interests.

51. Moreover, it is impossible to build a complete socialism on a national level. As the degeneration of the Soviet Union proved, there can be no “Socialism in One Country”. The productive forces developed by capitalism over centuries demand an international order. Since the turn of the twentieth century, the national state itself has become a fetter on the further development of human society. Therefore, the necessity for the strategy of permanent revolution flows not only from the need to combat continued resistance from the old ruling classes but from the fact that a rational and sustainable development of humanity’s productive forces can only be finally achieved on a global level.

An Action Program to save mankind from capitalist misery

52. The task of a socialist programme is to meet the burning needs of humanity, wracked by economic hardship, war and a ravaged environment. By coordinating resistance against those who cause this crisis, welding together ever greater numbers to change the world, the Fifth International will once again make millions aware of the both the necessity and the possibility of socialism.

53. The wars initiated by the US and the EU, from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq and Afghanistan today, the ignominious failure of the Copenhagen summit, and the long period of economic crises and stagnation lying ahead, all testify to the fact that the capitalist class has become an obstacle to solving any of the urgent and fundamental problems facing humanity. The only “solutions” it can offer involve forcing society backwards, into protectionism, the destruction of whole industries and the breaking of the international chains of production and exchange.

54. Only a global social revolution can prevent the imperialist bourgeoisies forcing humanity backwards. Only the working class can reorganise society so that humanity can overcome misery, unemployment, poverty, hunger, war, oppression, racism and climate disaster. Only the working class can reorganise production and distribution in a way that brings development for the two thirds of humanity whose most basic needs are not met and can move forward to the abolition of all classes, of all forms of oppression and exploitation, to a world of freedom – to communism.

55. The Fifth International does not reject fighting for social, economic and political demands which (in principle) can be granted without overthrowing capitalist ownership, that is, reforms, such as a minimum wage, equal pay for men and women, heavy taxation of the rich and the big corporations. But we must warn that capitalism in crisis will reject such demands, with the excuse that they undermine profitability. The capitalists will be forced to grant them only as a by-product of revolutionary struggle and will claw them back as soon as the danger is past or the pressure relaxed. A revolutionary programme must challenge the basic rights of the capitalists; the right to exploit, the right to put profit before people, the right to grow rich at the expense of the poor.

56. Moreover, today’s battles must be fought with an eye to future goals. If the working class is to control society and plan production in the future, it must gain the experience and the organisations for this in the present. The Fifth International, therefore, will raise demands and propose forms of organisation that not only answer today’s vital needs but re-organise the working class for power. Our demands are transitional demands in that they open the way to the future society. Above all, our programme demands the imposition of workers’ control in more and more spheres. This includes the abolition of business secrecy, a workers’ veto over the bosses’ right to fire workers, workers’ inspection and control over production, an automatic rise in wages for every rise in prices to combat inflation as well as demands for the nationalisation without compensation (expropriation) of individual capitalists or whole industries whose sabotage would otherwise cause untold misery. Important as each demand is, their purpose will only be achieved when they are won in full, the full transitional programme is the strategy for working class power.

57. For this reason, our demands are not passive appeals to governments but rallying slogans for the working class to fight and organise to overthrow them. The working class, the peasants and their allies need tactics based on the simple proposition, we are many: they are few. Starting from a wave of mass demonstrations and strikes or factory occupations, we fight to transform the struggle into an all out general strike. Our goal is power - power to change the world forever so that inequality, crises and war, exploitation and classes are a distant memory. The transfer of power from one class to another can only be accomplished by the armed insurrection of the masses led by a revolutionary party of the vanguard. The central task is to use every struggle to raise the consciousness of the working class to these historic tasks. That is the central goal of the Fifth International.

We must not pay for their crisis - end mass unemployment, insecurity and poverty

58. Today, three billion people, almost half the world’s population, live on less than two and a half dollars a day. Well over a billion people are living in absolute poverty. 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation and 1.6 billion live without electricity. Every day, 25,000 children die due to poverty. Almost one billion people cannot read or write.

59. In the post 2008 crisis alone, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Even in the richest country in the world, the United States, 50 million people had difficulty feeding themselves and their children in 2008. To throw millions out of work when so much needs to be done to give the majority of humanity the most basic conditions for a decent life; this alone should condemn capitalism to the rubbish bin of history. At the same time, the capitalists use inflation and deflation, the inevitable products of their blind system of profit, to slash the real wages, or wipe out the jobs, of workers.

60. We have to fight

* Against all workplace closures and sackings and all wage cuts

* For the nationalisation of every enterprise declaring redundancies or refusing to pay minimum wages, observe protective labour legislation or pay taxes! Continuation of production under workers control!

* For a programme of public works to improve social and health services, housing, public transport and environmental conditions under the control of the workers and the popular movement!

* Share the available work between all who are able to work. For a sliding scale of working hours to reduce the hours of labour and allow for free creative activity, education and leisure

* For rises in wages and minimum wage to ensure a decent living for all!

* Against all forms of insecure, informal working! For all wages and conditions to be governed by collective agreements controlled by the unions and work place representatives!

* For a sliding scale of wages to guarantee a wage rise to match any rise in the cost of living of workers and their families!

* To make this effective we need organisations to monitor prices. Delegates should be elected in the workplaces, in the barrios, from organisations of working class women and consumers who together can create a working class and poor people’s cost of living index. Similarly, pensions must be indexed against inflation and be guaranteed by the state, not left to the mercy of the stock markets!

Workers’ control and the fight against business secrecy


* Down with the bosses’ search for higher productivity and profits that endangers safety, erodes health and intensifies exploitation! For the right of workers to veto the plans and actions of the bosses!

* For the opening of all enterprise bank accounts, account books and computers, to the inspection of the workers themselves!

Tax the rich! Expropriate the super-rich!

62. In nearly every country, a tiny clique of the super rich own or control vast parts of the economy, they should be subjected to punitive levels of taxation! The top bankers and financiers, whose incompetence magnified the destructive effects of the crisis and who were bailed out with trillions of taxpayers’ money, are now rewarding themselves with multi-million dollar bonuses. They must be stopped. These parasites should have their booty seized from them and put to work to undo the havoc they have caused.

• Nationalise all the private banks and financial institutions and abolish the stock markets!

• Abolish all indirect taxes; Cancel all personal and state debts!

Defend Social Services

63. Against a background of unemployment and falling wages, the systems of education, healthcare and welfare, wrung from our rulers by decades of struggle, are under increasing attack. At the same time, the democratic rights that allow the working class, the peasants, the urban and rural poor to organise and mobilise a fight back are themselves under attack. The poison of racism and pogroms of minority and immigrant communities are used to divide and undermine resistance.

* Defend the best existing social and health care systems and extend them to the billions not covered by any system. No lowering of pensions: rather their increase and extension to all those not yet covered!

* No privatisation in the public sector! Re-nationalisation of all basic services like water, energy supply, etc.!

Save the Planet from capitalist climate catastrophe!

64. The absolute failure of the Copenhagen Summit revealed that no consensus could be reached between competing capitalist powers. Neither the “developed” major polluters like the US, Japan and the European Union, nor the “developing” giants like China and India were willing to imperil their own capitalist profits by making the radical cuts in emissions necessary to slow and halt climate change. If they continue with development on a capitalist basis this will make worsening floods, drought, famines and pandemics inevitable. Economic and military rivalry prevent the great capitalist powers from combining their forces to solve these crises. Worse, they relentlessly drive them to make things worse, frustrating all the plans and proposals made by scientists and preventing them from being implemented.

* Nationalisation under workers’ control of all energy corporations, enterprises which monopolise basic goods like water, agribusiness and all air lines, shipping and rail enterprises!

* For an emergency plan for a systematic and global transformation of the energy and transport system to reduce dependency on fossil fuels!

* Make the imperialist corporations and states pay for the environmental destruction they have caused in the semi-colonial world!

* For a plan to phase out energy production based on fossil fuels and nuclear power and for massive investments in alternative energy forms such as wind, wave and solar power. For a huge global programme of reforestation! For a massive expansion of public transport to combat pollution caused by the growth in use of the private car!

Replace the world’s shanty towns with communities worthy of human beings

65. Over half of humanity now live in cities but the majority of these are shanty towns and slums without proper roads, lighting, clean drinking water or sewage and waste disposal. Precarious and flimsy structures are easily swept away by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis as we have seen in Indonesia, Bangladesh, New Orleans and Haiti. Hundreds of thousands die not simply from these natural events but from the poverty-stricken human environment.

66. Few of the shanty town dwellers have permanent or secure jobs. Their children often have no nurseries, clinics or schools. Criminal gangs, and the police supposed to provide protection against them, subject the people to harassment and extortion. Women and the young are driven to prostitution and coerced into sweatshop exploitation. Slavery and trade in human beings has reappeared.

67. This enormous accumulation of human misery must be ended. This cannot be done from the pittance of aid from the imperialist countries, by NGOs or by charities run by churches, mosques and temples. Nor can self-help, micro credit schemes solve these huge problems. The population of the barrios, favellas and townships can, as they have shown, take their destiny into their own hands. By mass mobilisation in Venezuela and Bolivia they have extracted important reforms. By a social revolution they can make the state the instrument of the complete transformation of their living conditions.

68. The action programme of the Fifth International calls for housing, light and power, local health clinics and schools, roads and public transport for the urban poor!

* For a programme of public works under the control of the workers’ movement and the poor communities

* Massive investment in social and health services, housing, public transport and environmental conditions!

For an Agrarian Revolution - abolish the social inequalities between town and country!

69. Almost half of humanity live in villages, on plantations and in the rural communities of indigenous peoples. The gap between their incomes, their access to healthcare, education, communications, and that available in the cities is often enormous. At the same time, capitalism relentlessly concentrates landownership in the hands of a wealthy elite or international agribusinesses. The peasants and indigenous communities find themselves driven off the best land, forced to migrate to the slums of the cities.

70. Life on the plantations that produce sugar, coffee, tea, cotton, sisal, rubber, tobacco, and bananas reproduces many of the features of glaring super-exploitation associated with slavery and indentured labour. Plantation workers are often thrown into debt bondage.

* Expropriate the land of the oligarchs and the multinational agribusinesses and place them under workers’ and poor peasants’ control!

* Land to those who work it! For voluntary co-operatives!

* Abolition of rent and renunciation of all debts of the poor peasants!

* Free credit to purchase machinery and fertiliser; incentives to encourage subsistence farmers to voluntarily join production and marketing co-operatives!

Support the struggles for national liberation and those of indigenous peoples!

71. Whole nations; the Palestinians, the Kurds, the Chechens, the Sri Lankan Tamils, the Tibetans, are denied their unhindered right to self-determination. They, and many indigenous peoples, are subjected to ethnic cleansing and cultural, if not physical, genocide. The working classes, especially those whose national ruling classes are responsible for such oppression, must support, actively and practically, the struggle of the oppressed for liberation.

* Equal rights in education and at work, equal rights of citizenship for members of national minorities!

* Against official state languages! Equal rights to all languages spoken by national groups in a given state! For the representation of national minorities’ and migrants’ mother languages in public institutions (education system, public administration, TV and radio etc.)!

* Right of self-determination for all oppressed nations including the right to form a separate state! Unconditional support for their struggle!

•The right of indigenous peoples to their lands, free of settlement aimed at making them a minority.

The struggle against racism and fascism!

72. Capitalist crisis ruins and increases the desperation of the middle classes and the long term unemployed making them vulnerable to reactionary forces, chauvinists and fascists. In the imperialist countries this often takes the form of classical fascism aimed at racial and national minorities, migrants, Roma. Nor is anti-Semitism dead. In the semi-colonial world, fascistic forces often emerge out of communalism and religious bigotry. Fascism is the force of civil war against the working class and all progressive forces. Its growth as a mass force is testimony to the betrayals and failures of the leadership of the working class. It can only be defeated by, firstly, the unleashing of the revolutionary movement of the working class and its allies and, secondly, by powerful self-defence organs to defeat all its attacks on the labour movement and the targeted minorities. As Trotsky said, fascism is the expression of counterrevolutionary despair: it can only be finally defeated by the forces of revolutionary hope.

* Against all forms of discrimination of migrants! Equal pay and equal democratic rights independent of their citizenship!

* Remove all specific laws and restrictions concerning people with foreign citizenship! Open the borders!

* For the right of Muslim women to wear religious dress (veil, burka) if they wish, in all areas of public life!

* Full asylum right for all those who flee the misery at home!

* Smash fascism and racism! No platform for fascist and militant racist groups! No reliance on the capitalist state, for organised self-defence of workers, national minorities and youth!

Women’s liberation

73. Capitalism promised women equality, yet even in its oldest heartlands it has failed to keep its promises. Wages are on average only 70 per cent of men’s and often much less. The double burden of childcare and care of the elderly disadvantages women at work and in social and political life. In the global south, all these inequalities are magnified. Patriarchal relations in the countryside and out of date religious prejudices make life a misery. However, millions of women have been drawn into social production, especially in manufacturing export in the cities of South and East Asia and Latin America. During the crisis in the textile, electronic and service industries, where women make up some 80 per cent of the workforce, they have often been the first to be laid off, with employers leaving wages unpaid, breaking legal obligations to give notice and with governments and courts turning a blind eye. Most cruelly exploited are the huge numbers of migrant women workers whose families back home will starve without their remittances.

74. We can never achieve a society where all human beings are equal if we do not show our determination to overcome inequality in our own movements. We support all means that can help to achieve this, such as the right of women, youth, migrants or lesbians and gays to meet independently to discuss their specific problems and the right of representation in leadership structures according to their share amongst the rank and file.

* Against all forms of legal discrimination against women! Equal rights for women – rights to vote, rights to work, rights to education, unrestricted rights to participate in all public and social activity!

* Help women to get out of the informal and family business orientated jobs! Public works programmes to provide full-time job opportunities with decent wages for women!

* Equal pay for equal work!

* All women need access to free contraception and abortion on demand, regardless of age!

* Fight sexual violence in all forms! Expansion of public and comfortable women's shelters! Self-defence of organs of the workers’ and women’s movements against sexist violence!

* No to social pressure and laws which oblige woman either to wear or not wear religious clothing!

* Socialisation of housework and childcare! Provision of 24-hour childcare! Massive expansion of cheap but high-quality public restaurants and laundries!

75. In the end, this need for new or renewed mass organisations is related to the necessity to win them to the programme of socialist revolution. The task of the Fifth International is therefore to win these mass organisations to its revolutionary programme.

• For a self-governing Women’s International politically linked to the Fifth International with sections in every country

Free sexuality from the interference of the state and religious institutions!

76. Gay men and Lesbians have formal equality only in a minority of countries. In many they are threatened with punishment by the state, with physical harassment and even death.

* Full rights for lesbian, gay and transsexual people! Stop interference by the State, the churches, temples and mosques: sexual orientation and all consensual sexual activity must be a matter of personal choice!

* There should be no laws against consenting sex and no criminalisation of “underage” lovers. There should, however, be laws against rape and domestic violence to protect children from abuse wherever it comes from – from priests, from teachers, from parents.

Liberation for the youth

77. The crisis hits youth hard both because they are the most casualised and insecure section of the workforce and therefore easiest to dismiss and in terms of the cuts in state budgets for education and the increased misery and brutality visited on the children of the slums. In the unions and the reformist parties, youth are restricted and repressed. No wonder: youth are a powerful revolutionary force in all countries, filled with fighting spirit, free of many of the prejudices and conservative habits inculcated by bourgeois and reformist parties and unions. They are a vital element of the revolutionary vanguard. The Fifth International must allow them to make their own experience and lead their own struggles by encouraging the creation of a Revolutionary Youth International.

We fight for-

* Jobs for all young people on wages and conditions equal to older workers’! Scrap cheap labour training schemes, replace them with apprenticeships on full pay with guaranteed employment afterwards!

* End child labour!

* Free education for all from infancy to the age of 16 and higher education and training to all who want it, at 16, on a guaranteed living grant!

* For the right to vote at 16 or earlier for those in employment!

* For youth centres and decent housing, funded by the state but under the democratic control of the youth who use them!

* Stop cuts in education! For massive investment in the public education system! Employ more teachers and pay them higher wages! Construction of more public school buildings!

* Against all restrictions to free access and fees for schools and universities!

* No to all religious or private control of schooling and for secular, state-funded education!

* Drive business out of the education system! No to the control of the education system by the state bureaucracy and their agents! Curricula should be established and schools managed democratically by the students, teachers and parents themselves!

Against militarism and imperialist war

78. The tremendous amounts of money spent by the imperialists on their war machines are testimony to their aggressive nature. Now they claim to act in humanitarian interests, but this is camouflage for their real goal, to continue their military domination. In poorer nations, disproportionate amounts of money are spent on the army, in countries like Pakistan and Turkey it is used because the military seeks to play a political role itself, backed up by the use of arms.

* No to imperialist wars and aggression! Fight the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya and other countries! Support the resistance! Hands off Iran and North Korea!

* For the closure of all US military bases around the world! No to EU and other imperialist military interventions!

* Dissolution of all imperialist-dominated military alliances like NATO!

* No to any capitalists’ army, be it a professional or a compulsory conscription based army! Military training in the use of arms for all under the control of the workers’ and people’s movement!

* For full civil rights for soldiers, the setting up of soldiers’ committees and unions and the election of officers!

Democratic rights


* Defend the right to strike, freedom of speech, of assembly, of political and trade union organisation, the freedom to publish and broadcast!

* Removal of all undemocratic elements in capitalist constitutions; monarchies, second chambers, executive presidents, unelected judiciaries and emergency powers!

* For election of judges by the people!

* Fight against the increasing surveillance of our society and the increasing power of the police and security services! Down with the repressive apparatus and their replacement with militias elected and controlled by the workers and popular masses!

* Where fundamental questions concerning the political order are posed and the working class is not in a position to take power, we call for a constituent assembly! The workers’ and popular movements should ensure that the deputies to it are not only elected in the most democratic manner but are also kept under the control of their electors and that they are recallable by them!

Take political and economic power from the capitalist class! For a workers’ and poor people’s government!


* Expropriate the capitalist class! Nationalisation of all banks, corporations, wholesale trade, transport, social, health, education and communication industries and services without compensation and under workers’ control!

* Creation of a central state bank!

* Abolish the stock market!

• Introduce a monopoly of foreign trade!

* For a workers’ and poor people's government, i.e. a government based on councils and armed militias of the workers, peasants and the urban poor!

Bring down the institutions like IMF and World Bank!

81. * Unconditional and total cancellation of the debt of all the countries of Latin America, Africa, South and East Asia and Eastern Europe!

* The imperialist states must compensate the semi-colonial world for the plunder of its natural and human resources!

* No to protectionism by the developed countries against the products of the global south! Abolish NAFTA, the Common Agricultural Policy and other protectionist weapons of imperialist states. However, we support the right of Third World countries to defend their markets from cheap imports from imperialist countries.

* Abolish IMF, World Bank and WTO!

* Nationalise the big banks and corporations under workers’ control!

The Fifth International – a world party fighting for socialist revolution

82. The Fifth International certainly needs to be “a space for socialist-oriented parties, movements and currents in which we can harmonise a common strategy for the struggle against imperialism, the overthrow of capitalism by socialism”, as the Caracas Commitment from 21.11.2009 declared. Indeed, it must become an instrument for replacing the present sell-out leaderships of the working class organisations.

83, To do so, it needs to practice the broadest possible democracy, to discuss freely and without bureaucratic restrictions. At the same time, it needs disciplined unity in action to implement its agreed course of action. This means that the national parties should be subordinate to the International.

84. The Fifth International shall be the world party that inspires and promotes the growth of all forms of working class organisation; parties, unions, cooperatives, women’s associations, youth clubs etc. and the party of all those who support the struggle for socialism. We call on the rank and file and also the leaders of all those organisations to join the Fifth International.

Building mass fighting trade unions

85. The struggle to overcome the crisis of leadership centres around building the Fifth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution. But we need more than this. The Fifth International must commit itself to renew the existing unions or to build new unions and mass organisations of the peasants, the poor, the youth, women etc.

86. We need unions and mass organisations which do not accommodate to the dictates of the bosses but which defend the interests of the working and popular classes with militant methods of struggle such as mass strikes, occupations, up to the general strike.

87. We need unions and mass organisations which are not bureaucratically controlled from the top down but which are democratic, where differences can freely be debated, where leaders can be controlled and, if necessary, recalled.

88. We certainly should not wait passively until the unions and mass organisations are transformed and taken out of the hands of their present leaders. Quite the opposite! We demand from the existing leaders that they fight for the urgent needs of the masses. But we alert the rank and file not to trust them. We fight for the formation of rank and file movements in existing unions and mass organisations to fight against control by a bureaucratic caste.

89. We need unions and mass organisations that are not dominated by white, male, and better-off layers but that can really unite the whole working class and the oppressed. We therefore need unions and mass organisations that give full rights and full representation in their leadership structures to the lower strata of the working class and the poor, to women, youth and migrants.

90. Therefore we fight for

• unity of all trade unions on a democratic and militant basis, totally independent of the bosses, their parties and their states.

• the organisation of the unorganised workers, including women, migrants and casual labour forces.

Democratically planned economy

91. The Socialism of the 21st century for which we are fighting needs an economy that is in the hands of the working class and is democratically planned. After the revolution, the working class will socialise the banks, the key financial institutions, the transport and utility companies and all the major industries. Artisans, shop keepers and small scale peasant farmers will be able to retain their family enterprises as private property if they wish, but they will be encouraged to free themselves from the insecurity of the market and cutthroat competition by gearing their production to a plan for economic development.

92. The idea of socialism being based on tiny cooperatives is a backward-looking utopia that would, over time, recreate the conditions of a market economy and encourage the accumulation of capital once again. Nonetheless, the socialisation of small peasant property, small shops, etc. must happen gradually and voluntarily and not by force as the Stalinist bureaucracy did before and after the Second World War.

93. Under a revolutionary workers’ state, there will be no monstrous, bureaucratic plan, such as existed under Stalinism, where a caste of privileged bureaucrats tried to decide everything centrally. Under real socialism, there will be a series of interlocking plans, ascending from the local to the regional, to the national and the international level, each decided after debate by a workers’ and consumers’ democracy.

94. This is not a dream as the bourgeois propagandists claim. Modern technologies make it possible to discover and communicate needs and necessities and to coordinate production and transport to meet them. It can do so around the globe in seconds. Indeed, every modern multinational corporation already works in this way. But, in contrast to the capitalist corporations, we will utilise the achievements of modern technologies not for the profit of a few but for the benefit of all humanity.

Our Goal - Global Revolution

95. The Fifth International’s programme is based on both the historic and recent lessons of resistance to capitalism and imperialism. We will defend each and every gain that has been made against the bosses; wages, working hours, democratic rights. We will fight against racism and national oppression, against invasions and occupations by the imperialists.

96. In the end, however, every gain that we can force capitalists and their state to deliver with their left hand, they will try to take back with their right. The capitalists and landed oligarchs never give up power peacefully. Capitalism cannot be reformed. It must be overthrown by revolutionary means. This is why the working class and the popular masses must organise themselves in councils of action and arm themselves in their own militia.

97. We cannot take over the old state apparatus; we must destroy it and replace it with a completely new state, a state in which the working class, the peasants, the urban poor administer society through councils of delegates elected in the enterprises, the barrios, the villages, the schools and universities. Every delegate must be recallable if the rank and file feel they have been misrepresented.

98. Our socialism will not be one where a caste of bureaucrats exercises a dictatorship over the workers or one where only one party is allowed to exist. The working masses must be able to express their different views in different parties, ones that have to compete democratically to win and retain a majority in the councils. Nor must our socialism be one where a president, a caudillo or a lider maximo, concentrates all initiative in their hands and surrounds himself with a cult of the personality like a Stalin, a Mao or a Castro.

99. As long as there remains an old ruling class capable of taking back power, the working class must do everything necessary to prevent this. Whilst its rule will be the fullest and freest democracy for the formerly exploited classes, it will, at the same time, be a dictatorship against those who seek to restore capitalism. This – no more and no less - is what the dictatorship of the proletariat really means. It cannot be dispensed with until the most powerful ruling classes of our planet have been disarmed and dispossessed.

100. Then, on the basis of a globally planned economy and a world federation of socialist republics, we will be moving towards a common level of wealth and complete equality of rights for the whole of humanity. As a result of this process, social classes and the repressive features of the state will gradually die out. But first we must hurl capitalism into the abyss. World Revolution, that, and nothing less, is the task of the Fifth International

Workers of the world and oppressed peoples, unite!

Forward to international socialist revolution!