National Sections of the L5I:

Report on LCR May 30 meeting at the Mutualité before the European Anticapitalist Conference

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Around a thousand people listened to a very long list of speakers, including May '68 veterans Daniel Bensaid and Alain Krivine. A spokesperson for the LCR political bureau reported the state of the ongoing struggles against Sarkozy as well as a set of demands (a 300 euros wage increase, SMIC raised to 1500 euros, defence of the pension scheme etc) that are part of the so-called LCR emergency plan.

Clearly the LCR proposes a similar basis for the new anticapitalist party and also more generally for initiatives Europe wide. This was followed by a shameful speech by Flavia D'Angeli, leader of Sinistra Critica, who described the disaster of the Italian left in the recent elections. She correctly denounced the hypocrisy of Bertinotti who had claimed that Italian military intervention in Lebanon (supported by Rifondazione Comunista) was a success of the anti war movement.However she totally "forgot" to mention that Sinistra Critica was part and parcel of the Rifondazione Comunista leadership over the last years, that, whilst they verbally protested about some of the worst attacks on the working class, their MPs voted to support the bourgeois government of Romano Prodi during the votes of confidence.

The rally closed with the speech by Olivier Besancenot. His speech was, as usual, lively and effective in terms of its rhetoric. Indeed its content too was quite different from the standard LCR melange of left reformism and vague statements about reconstructing the workers movement and being "tous ensemble" (all together) in the next round of struggles. This time Besancenot hammered some basic tenets of Marxism, like the unavoidable conflict between capital and working class. Several times he repeated that the proletariat has never been so large in numerical terms. Whilst this is obviously true normally LCR prefers prefer to speak about a multifaceted society that should be reflected in the party (ecologists, feminists, youth, etc).Instead of vague formulations like revolutionising society and redistributing of wealth (partage des richesses), Besancenot spoke openly in favour of revolution and of expropriating the means of production. Similarly, in an interview just before the meeting, Besancenot boasted that:

"It is not any more revolutionaries against reformists but revolutionaries against the managers of the system. There is no more place for reformism."What is the reason of this sudden 'left' turn? On the French far left, it is a common critique against the LCR that they plan to liquidate themselves into a reformist party. This may have some echoes even inside the LCR's own ranks. Moreover, opening the European Anticapitalist Conference, the LCR clearly wanted to impress the delegations not only with their numerical successes (their high electoral score in the local as well as the presidential elections, signing up some 3000 people and forming 350 local committees) but also reassuring them about its continued "revolutionary" credentials.Of course all this does not mean that the LCR is indeed a revolutionary party. It merely shows the flexibility of their centrism and its continued capacity to zigzag left as well as right under the pressure of mass struggle by the working class and the youth. Nevertheless in the same speech Besancenot repeated the LCR's very right wing theme that the "epoch of 1917" is closed. Nor did he advance much in term of concrete political perspectives and the programmatic content of the new party. The only new proposal was to extend this tactic to the whole Europe towards a European anticapitalist party.

Despite its "internationalist" character, hardly any mention was given to the idea of an international organisation, not even its own tendency the Fourth International.

The conference of the European Anticapitalist Left

This conference, held on 31 May and 1 June, was announced several ago months on the websites of LCR sister organizations in Europe. However, despite its repeated claim that "a new dialogue is needed between all the forces of the revolutionary and anticapitalist left", that "each organisation cannot remain with in its national framework or in its international current"(Francois Sabado in Rouge 2252 p.11), or that "for the first time since May '68 almost all the anticapitalist left was present" (the LCR's report), this conference was open only to organisations invited by LCR. In particular, only LCR was present from the entire French left. Internationally the invitees were the section of the FI, its election allies and the supposedly big hitters like the SWP (UK). In short many organisations, including the League for the Fifth International, were not invited. Our request was not even replied to.

In fact it was clear that organisations to the left of the LCR and critical of its anticapitalist party's proposed political basis, were distinctly not welcome. This gives a bogus character to the LCR's claim to be unifying the revolutionaries and to be splitting from the reformists, if not reformism. The claim that reformism no longer has a basis or is impossible is in fact an excuse for limiting the struggle against reformism to the formal issue of not supporting the Socialist Party and its project of getting into government on a neoliberal basis. The reformist parties still exist and have, especially through the trade union bureaucracy deep and powerful roots in the working class which they use time and against to sabotage its struggles. If you do not recognise this you will not struggle against it

About 100 delegates from the 36 groups who were admitted discussed what they saw as supposedly similar developments to the LCR's project in various European countries, the character of continent-wide capitalist attacks, the evolution of the social democracy, and the dynamics of the class struggle. All the organisations agreed on the main anticapitalist demands against neoliberalism and the necessity of clear political independence with respect social democracy. Discussions on imperialist war, climate warming and racism followed. But the results of all this were meagre indeed. Among the decisions taken were:

• the organisation of a international demonstration in Strasbourg and Kiel on the 60 anniversary of NATO

• participation in the European Social Forum in Malmo

• some sort of common activities for the European elections in June 2009 (this was far from unanimous according to the official report)

• the next EAL conference to be held in 2009 on the theme of war and NATO

Apart from item one there is nothing new in all this; above all no rallying call for coordinating united actions on a European scale against the European Union's ongoing Lisbon Agenda, call fro such resistance to the resurgent right across Europe. Once again the fear of the LCR and the Fourth International of confronting the most powerful reformist forces in the workers movement, i.e. the trade union bureaucracies of the continent, forces which are crippling and betraying the fight back, means that they do not offer any clear strategic alternative to reformism nor any initiate for building an international organisation for this combat. That is a task for revolutionaries.