National Sections of the L5I:

New period, new challenges, new International!

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Russia's reactionary attack on Ukraine has opened a new stage in the struggle for the redivision of the world between the great powers. The war for control of Ukraine is the latest and sharpest expression of this conflict, which threatens the world with war between the imperialist states and their alliances.

With the attack stalled, Russian imperialism is resorting to ever more barbaric means, including the systematic bombing of civilian targets. The Western powers united in NATO, first and foremost the USA, have been arming the regime in Kiev for years, imposing economic sanctions on Russia that are themselves part of the warfare and, since Ramstein, openly moving to equip the Ukrainian nationalist vassal regime under Zelensky to the point where it can defeat Russian imperialism by "conventional" means.

The intra-imperialist antagonism characterises the war over Ukraine - and it is above all the Ukrainian people, the thousands of dead and millions of refugees, who are being sacrificed on this battlefield for the aims of Russian imperialism, but also for the NATO powers.

Failure of the workers' movement and the left

The war also reveals the political failure and weakness of the left and the organised workers' movement. The leaderships of the big, state-supporting trade union apparatuses, which have been closely linked to "their" states and in class collaboration with "their" bourgeoisies for years, are once again proving to be defenders of the fatherland. Whether in Russia or in the Western imperialist states, the trade union leaderships, with few exceptions, are proving to be social supporters of their ruling classes, whether as Russian patriots or as pretend defenders of the values of "Western democracy".

Like the social democratic parties or the long since bourgeois Greens, they are in the camp of Western imperialism - or, like large parts of the so-called left parties, they are in the process of switching to it.

They accept the lie that this war is one between despotism and authoritarianism on the one hand and democracy and self-determination on the other. In reality, in the struggle over Ukraine, both Russia and the West are mainly defending their economic and geostrategic imperialist interests. The real values that the West protects are the profits of the big capitals, the monopolies that dominate the world market.

A part of the "radical" left swung to the NATO course during the war, while others in fact defend the Putin regime and to this day persistently refuse to call Russian imperialism imperialist, or its war of aggression reactionary.

This confusion, these false positions, reveal that the war caught the "radical" left unprepared. It cannot answer the question of how it should behave in the face of the major inter-imperialist conflict that is currently being fought over Ukraine between Russia, with China in the background, on the one hand and the NATO powers on the other. As a rule, it does not even want to ask itself the question of the relationship between the imperialist conflict and Ukraine's national right to self-determination. The quite correct statement that the main enemy is at home thus unfortunately often degenerates into a cliché in order to be able to avoid the current global questions, the assessment of the situation in Russia and Ukraine.

However, it would fall short of attributing the difficulties for the emergence of a broad anti-war movement that is at the same time in solidarity with the working class in Russia and Ukraine and advocates an internationalist response solely to the failure of the workers' movement and the left.

The war is currently being successfully sold by the ruling class, the bourgeois media and institutions as one for democracy, human rights and freedom. It helps that the barbaric Russian warfare and the Russian massacres of the civilian population support this narrative, this ideology. Even if every reservation against Western and Kiev propaganda in this context is justified, there is no reason to doubt that the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and the burning of their own soldiers as cannon fodder are the logical, calculated result of Russian warfare. In this respect, Putin is no different from his opponents in the USA or the EU, as the numerous humanitarian interventions of the West from Afghanistan to Libya to Mali show.

However, this does not change the fact that at the moment the democratic-imperialist ideology of the ruling class is bearing fruit among the population - and that means also among the majority of the working class. It is a central basis for the current support for NATO policy in Ukraine, for sanctions and arms deliveries. As long as this "narrative" determines the consciousness of millions of workers and trade unionists, as long as millions consider the war aims of the West and the crushing of Russian competition as justified and necessary in the name of defending Ukraine, the politics of "national" unity will not really be cracked.

For this, it is absolutely necessary that revolutionaries also openly denounce Putin's reactionary policy, explain and vividly expose the real war aims of all governments and their allies, the imperialist character of NATO policy.

This theoretical, propagandist and agitational task is essential if we are to break the politics of national unity. However, accomplishing it alone is not enough. In order to break the subordination of the leaderships of the working class to the government and capital, we must also link up practically with the contradictions of the war policy of the government and NATO.

Contradictions

The war over Ukraine, the armament and the massive economic sanctions not only intensify the struggle for the redivision of the world, but all the contradictions that the crisis of capitalist globalisation has been expressing more and more openly since 2008.

Unlike the last major global crisis, China is failing as the engine of the world economy. The new Chinese imperialism is itself facing an extreme internal economic crisis, the result of falling profit rates and the over-accumulation of capital.

Worldwide, we are facing a new global economic crisis. Entire countries, especially in the global South, are on the brink of insolvency. Prices are rising at a horrendous pace, hyperinflation and stagnation are looming. Millions, if not billions, of people are threatened with extreme poverty, destitution, hunger or even death.

But the Western imperialist centres are also facing deep economic crises and upheavals, a period that will be marked by stagnation and inflation.

The war over Ukraine not only intensifies the conflict with Russia, but also the competition with China. The world market context itself is becoming the venue for the struggle to redivide the world. The death knells of the globalisation period are beginning to ring. Block formation and "safe" currency areas are the result.

The confrontation with Russia is sold as an "exit" from oil and gas. In reality, the so-called ecological turnaround, the Green New Deals, are part of the collateral damage of the war - with devastating consequences for climate change and, above all, for the people in the semi-colonial countries, the working class and the peasants/ farmers worldwide.

After millions of deaths, the Corona pandemic appears to be "over" - in reality, we are probably facing the next wave. If the world's rulers have their way, we will meet it unprepared - and have to pay for it with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more dead.

Instead of investing billions in economic renewal, the fight against poverty or the pandemic, they are being squandered to save the big capitals and "invested" in a new arms race.

All these crisis phenomena clearly show: the bourgeoisie has long since become a reactionary class. It is proving itself incapable of solving even one of the major problems of humanity - be it poverty, hunger, climate catastrophe or the pandemic.

In this period of crisis, it increasingly has to resort to authoritarian forms of rule up to Bonapartism and dictatorship. Democratic rights are restricted, surveillance and repression apparatuses are expanded. At the same time, internal contradictions within the ruling class and the middle classes and strata supporting the bourgeois system are increasing, which is expressed in the emergence of right-wing populist, conservative or even fascist forces in almost all countries. Nationalism, chauvinism and racism, as Putin's Great Russian chauvinism, the election results of Le Pen, Bolsonaro or Modi show, are not an "exceptional phenomenon", but a necessary expression of the economic and political crisis.

With them, all forms of reaction increase: sexism, oppression of women up to femicide; trans- and homophobia; oppression and over-exploitation of the young, impoverishment of the old; racism and national oppression.

We live in a world where the alternative of socialism or barbarism does not herald a gloomy vision of a distant future but is reality.

Leadership crisis of the working class

Political and economic crisis will never automatically lead to the replacement of the rule of capital. This requires a conscious, revolutionary force, a working class that is organised and conscious, a class whose leadership is aware of the situation and tasks of world history, and which can lead to revolution by the masses of wage earners, poor peasants and the oppressed.

However, today's reality is that the working class has no such organisation. The subjectively revolutionary left itself is politically confused and exists only at the stage of propaganda societies.

There is no lack of will to resist, to fight, as impressive movements and struggles show. The big strikes and mobilisations in India and Sri Lanka in the last weeks and months or the increasing discontent of the Chinese population make this clear. Despite the class collaborationist policies of the bureaucratised trade unions, grassroots initiatives in workplace and trade union disputes have been able to achieve important successes in many countries. They can provide a powerful impulse for a class-struggle renewal of the workers' movement and the trade unions.

On 1 May, millions will take to the streets - in some countries under dictatorial conditions. In many, strong movements against racism, inspired by Black Lives Matter among others, and women's oppression, have also emerged in recent years.

To renew the bureaucratised organisations of the working class and to create new organisations of struggle, to fight against backward ideologies such as sexism, chauvinism and racism even in the workers' movement, to overcome the power of the bureaucrats and the treacherous politics of reformism, however, individual initiatives or even mass mobilisations are not enough. The war question in particular shows how important it is to have a correct understanding of the international situation, of the nature and character of imperialism in all its forms, of the national question and also of bourgeois democracy.

These connections make clear why a "pure" anti-war movement, "pure" peace politics, detached from the struggle against capitalism, against economic and social attacks, is ultimately a bourgeois fiction. The reverse is also true for trade union and economic struggles. The attacks on wages and living conditions, on democratic and social achievements, will be difficult to repel if they are not understood in the context of the global goals of capital and the imperialist world order.

If we want to face the big challenges of the coming period - the increasing imperialist competition and threat of war, the global economic, ecological and health crisis, we need one thing above all: class-struggle and revolutionary internationalism!

We need an internationalism that is more than the sum of national, political and social struggles. An internationalism that assumes that none of the great problems of humanity can be solved within a national framework. An internationalism that assumes that the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, the expropriation of the expropriators, is the indispensable prerequisite for the solution of these problems, because only in this way can the economy be reorganised according to the needs of humanity and nature. We need an internationalism that starts from the recognition that its realisation requires a programme and an instrument of struggle: a global revolutionary party of the working class, a new Fifth International.

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