National Sections of the L5I:


Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Fifth International is the Journal of the League for the Fifth International and its purpose is to argue for the politics of the League at a length and depth that is impossible in the newspaper publications of the League’s sections. Those politics are rooted in the theoretical and programmatic tradition of the first four Internationals as they have been developed by the precursors of the League.

While there has always been a need to develop Marxist theory in the light of political and economic development, there have been few times when that was more urgent than today. Urgency has been injected not only by the renewed aggressiveness of US imperialism as it consolidates its supremacy in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also by political developments within the anti-capitalist movement which has rejuvenated the global political scene since it first marched onto the stage in Seattle. In its early years, this movement grew and had a major impact even on the most powerful states despite its lack of a clear political strategy and goal. Crucially, its influence has begun to extend into the existing organisations, both trade union and political, of the working class movement around the world. Today, however, the very features that were its strength, its diversity, its generous, even naive, commitment to consensus and its democratically inspired hostility to hierarchy and leadership, have become a danger that could paralyse the movement’s further development.

In reality, the anti-capitalist movement is as dominated by political ideas and political organisations as any mass protest movement has ever been. The lack of any agreed procedure for decision-making has simply ensured that political leadership, by default, is exercised unseen by the groups and individuals who decide the agendas, fix the dates and, ultimately, control the outcomes before, during and after the movement’s public meetings. Even so, the need to establish a clear political strategy, the need to define what the movement is for, as well as what it is against, is generating a programmatic debate internationally. Inevitably, many of the ideas and policies generated in that debate echo those of earlier periods of developing class struggle. Imaginative utopians draw up their model societies, reformists explain how a more rational and humane approach to economic development could benefit everyone and anarchists propose that everyone opts out of the existing society and establish an alternative, parallel world.

Marxism has fought these ideas before, indeed, many of its most important advances have originated in its critique of their failings. Today, however, the best-known of those who identify themselves as Marxists, such as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International or the International Socialist Tendency, choose to minimise and obscure the essential differences between Marxism and its opponents.

The League for the Fifth International opposes both the unaccountability of the leadership within the anti-capitalist movement and this policy of unprincipled political compromise. The contents of this first issue of Fifth International illustrate our approach. While drawing on the rich history of programmatic and theoretical advance gained, often at terrible cost, by earlier generations of communists, we recognise that the simple repetition of past formulations would do them no honour and the working class movement no service. Our task is to develop and apply the theoretical advances and the political lessons of the past to the world as it now exists.

We begin, therefore, with a survey of key aspects of the international political landscape; the aftermath of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the burgeoning but, as yet, fragmented, working class movement in Europe and the prospects for the global economy.

No one can doubt that it was the collapse of the Soviet Union which allowed the massive expansion of US-based corporations which became known as, “globalisation” in the 1990’s. But what was it within the United States economy which drove that expansion and, simultaneously, fuelled one of the most frenzied bouts of stock market speculation of all time? The dynamics of the US imperialism’s domestic economy are examined in Keith Harvey’s, Globalisation: the contradictions of late imperialism.

One of the most significant side effects of George W Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, was the open rift it revealed between the imperialist powers. Most dramatic of all was Germany’s open declaration of opposition to US policy. Drawing on work undertaken by the German section of the League, Martin Suchanek, chronicles the re-emergence of German imperialism as an independent actor in world politics in his article, German Imperialism: Waking up to the US Threat.

Bush’s “war without end”, of course, met a very different response from the British under Tony Blair, willing as ever to play the role of the loyal retainer in order to maximise British imperialism’s share of the plunder. However, his relentless pursuit of the interests of British capital has seriously eroded his party’s support within the working class and its organisations and the consequences of this growing contradiction are brought out in Mark Hoskisson’s The Alternative to Blair: Old Labour or a New Workers’ Party?

A very different consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its grip on Central and Eastern Europe has been the revelation of the plight of the Roma. This “people without a land” has retained its identity despite some seven centuries of persecution across the face of Europe. Despite their supposed commitment to “human rights” and “civilised values”, the states of the European Union, East and West, old, new and applicant members, continue this persecution to the present day. Michael Pröbsting, of the Austrian section of the League traces the history and political objectives of the Roma in The Roma, Europe’s forgotten nationality .

As the experience of Gothenburg and Genoa made clear, sheer weight of numbers and breadth of popular support can force the institutions of global capitalism to reveal their real and brutal character - but they have no answer to a well-organised and well-armed police force. The summiteers may be obliged to meet in the mountains of Canada or the isolated splendour of Doha, but this does not prevent them pursuing their objectives for one moment. If the anti-capitalist movement is to go beyond protest, go beyond complaining at the depredations of capital, it has to have a conscious social goal, a conception of a society in which the productive resources mankind has created can be brought under the control of society, to the benefit of all rather than the profit of a few. More, it needs methods of organising and fighting for that goal which are not only rooted in the actually existing world but also create the very institutions and people upon which that future society will be built.

In their critique of the programmes offered by George Monbiot, Michael Albert and Alex Callinicos, Anti-capitalist Manifestos, Richard Brenner, Sean Murray and Jeremy Dewar identify the key errors, the theoretical confusions and, all too often, the conscious evasion of essential issues which characterise the politics of these influential figures within the movement.

As Marx observed at the very beginning of his political career, no matter how powerful ideas may be, they only become a material force when they are taken up by the masses. The fundamental purpose of the League is not simply to demonstrate the superiority of the Marxist method or the coherence of its programme but to build a global political force, a truly global political party, a Fifth International, which will lead and coordinate the myriad of struggles against capitalism.