League for the Fifth International

League for the Fifth International

The League for the Fifth International (LFI or L5I) is an international grouping of revolutionary Trotskyist organisations. The supreme decision making body of the League and all its members is its international conference, which elects an international leadership committee. Each section of the League is completely subordinate to the international decisions made by the League, even if they have voted nationally not to agree with that position they must enact the policy of the League while arguing their position internationally, and as such the League is democratic centralist.


Early Years

L5I was founded as the Movement for a Revolutionary Communist International. Its first member groups were Workers Power in Britain, the Irish Workers Group, Pouvoir Ouvrier in France, and Gruppe Arbeitermacht (GAM) in Germany. After a Congress in 1989 the organisation adopted a common programme, the "Trotskyist Manifesto", and a democratic centralist constitution, under which each national section agreed to be bound by the decisions of the international organisation as a whole.

Later renamed the League for a Revolutionary Communist International, it recruited the Poder Obrera groups of Peru and Bolivia and also added a group in New Zealand which renamed itself Workers Power. However renewed factional disputes broke out within the tendency and it lost many of its members in Austria and France. Then a full scale debate led to the Peruvian and Bolivian groups leaving along with a part of the New Zealand group, since renamed the Communist Workers Group, and some militants in Britain such as Jose Villa, who jointly formed the Liaison Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International. They argued that the League had developed a position of supporting imperialism in Bosnia, while the League contends that, as is shown in headlines like "Stop the air strikes, stop the artillery bombardments, UN/NATO out of the Balkans!" that they were against imperialism, and were not ipso facto siding with imperialism by not supporting the Bosnian Serbs who awere bombarding Sarajevo. The LRCI produced an internal document over these splits called Trotskyism vs. Centrism.

Anti-Capitalist Movement and Fighting for a Fifth International

In the late 1990s the League was quick to respond to the development of the anti-capitalist movement, launching the youth group Revolution as an independent organisation in 1998. They actively participated in each stage of the movement, from the summit sieges of the late 1990s and early 2000s and the social forum conferences, which began with the World Social Forum in 2001. Of particular note in the summit siege phase, was the leading role its relatively young Czech section and Revolution played in protests against the IMF in 2000 and its participation in the famous direct action protests against the G8 in Genoa in 2001. The development of the World and European Social Forums marked, according to the League, a development of the movement, whereby mass organisations of the working class, such as Rifondazione Comunista in Italy and the Workers Party in Brazil, entered the movement. In this time the League developed the slogan of a 'new, Fifth International', which called on mass organisations of the working class to form a new global party, while also maintaining that such a party should adopt a revolutionary programme. The call for a Fifth International expressed the League's view that the Fourth International, founded by Trotsky in 1938, had degenerated into non-revolutionary fragments since the end of the Second World War and now a new international must be built, with new forces, but one that expressed continuity with the Trotskyist tradition. This was originally expressed in the book published by the British and Irish sections called The Death Agony of the Fourth International and the Tasks of Trotskyists Today.

This orientation to larger forces, in a period quite different from when the Trotskyist Manifesto was published, necessitated, for the League, developing a new programme "From Protest to Power: A Manifesto for World Revolution", in which its fundamental ideas were re-elaborated. It also changed its name to the League for the Fifth International. It regards this programme as a new "transitional programme", based on the method of Trotsky's original from 1938, but applied to the current global political situation.

The League and Revolution have both argued that young people in the anticapitalist movement should form a new revolutionary youth international. Successes at the Paris ESF in 2003 led to youth groups in Greece, Turkey, and the mass Basque group SEGI signing the youth international statement. Although neither of these groups made any further contribution towards the League's goal of founding a Fifth International.

Through this work the group has steadily regenerated its ranks with younger members but has not made substantial steps forward towards its goal of a Fifth International. Although, there work has led to some on the right wing of the movement such as Bernard Cassen of ATTAC to warn of the dangers of the “nagging temptation of the fifth international" [http://workerspower.com/index.php?id=146,1314,0,0,1,0 Forward to the Fifth International, Dave Stocking, Workers Power May 2007] . In addition, more recently, the academic and activist Samir Amin, has joined their call for a Fifth International - but does not give it the same Trotskyist content as the League.

Faction fight over world perspectives and the resultant split

In July 2006 the League expelled its Australian section, its sympathising group in Ireland and a large minority of its British section. The International Faction was planning to split the organisation on the eve of its Seventh Congress in Prague.In the previous two years, the International Faction (first as a tendency), had struggled against the perspectives and orientation of the League. In particular, they rejected the view that since the turn of the century there had been an intensification in class struggle, that the world economy was either "stagnant" or demonstrated a "tendency towards stagnation" in the imperialist heartlands, which the League had summarised as marking a "pre-revolutionary period". Instead, they argued that capitalism had entered on a "long upward wave" following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeats of the working class movement in the 1970s/80s and that the League had exaggerated the extents to which breaks had occurred in social democracy [http://www.permanentrevolution.net/files/pr2/36-45%20Economy.pdf] . The League asserted that their viewpoint was because of a British centric viewpoint of class struggle which ignores events such as the Oaxaca Uprising. Although this occurred after the separation of the two organisations, so could be regarded as a post factum post datum rationalisation.

The International Faction subsequently launched a new group Permanent Revolution. This followed the expulsion of half of the Leagues Austrian section had occurred several weeks earlier, [http://www.workerspower.com/index.php?id=47,1098,0,0,1,0 A split in the League for the Fifth International, Workers Power Website] and has reduced the Leagues strength by a third to half (around 24 of its British members, all 4 of its Australian group, a similar number of Irish comrades - plus those expelled in Austria earlier).

Shortly afterwards, there was an international conference of the LFI youth organization REVOLUTION where all documents had been decided on beforehand by the LFI leadership. The Australian section of REVOLUTION was expelled following a resolution supported only by the LFI delegates. In response to this, all independent members of Revolution, including the German, Czech and Swiss groups formed a tendency called "Independent Revolution" or iRevo. This tendency was expelled by the LFI but continues to be active as the independent youth organization REVOLUTION in four countries.

Post Split Growth

In May 2007 the League announced the formation of fraternal relations with an organisation in Sri Lanka called the Socialist Party of Sri Lanka. This group was formed by a split from the United Socialist Party. A few weeks later they announced the formation of new group in Pakistan called the Revolutionary Socialist Movement, created by activists who had been involved in the lawyers and democracy protests around the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.


The Degenerated Revolution in Russia, and the Degenerate Workers States

What happened in Soviet Russia

The League views the Russian revolution to have degenerated because of the takeover of the party by the non-revolutionary Stalinist leadership. The League, and Lenin, saw the Soviet state as having become "bureaucratically deformed" before it degenerated under the Stalinist leadership. The League disagrees with the Cliffites who see the revolution as doomed without world revolution happening in the period after the First World War, and who also see it as degenerating into state capitalism, while the League viewed it as still having post-capitalist property relations and therefore a degenerated workers state (degenerated because it was once a healthy workers state, then deformed, before the Stalinist caste takeover). Before the state degenerated in the thirties, Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition had the programmatic demand to "reform" the "bureaucratically deformed" state by revitalising the Soviets and bringing more democracy to the party. In the thirties Trotsky viewed the USSR as being unable to be reformed, and therefore needing a political revolution, hence was degenerated. The League largely agrees with Trotsky's analysis although disagrees about the exact time of degeneration.

Eastern Europe and states "degenerate from birth"

The League differs from other groups in that it calls Eastern European states "degenerate from birth" rather than deformed. It also viewed Tito in Yugoslavia as a "disobedient Stalinist" whose actions moved Yugoslavia in a direction towards, not against, imperialism. This is against groups such as the US SWP and eventually after the Third World Congress, the Fourth International, who viewed Tito as an unconscious Trotskyist and sent greetings to the Yugoslav Communist Party asking to attend their conference in order to help them in a revolutionary path. This analysis by the Fourth International which originally came from Michel Pablo was the reason they saw the Eastern European states as having only quantitative deformations, not being qualitatively degenerate. The FI thought there was a possibility that the communist parties in Eastern Europe would break with Stalin as the YCP and Tito had done, and through this become revolutionary. The League disagrees, and sees while breaks like Tito were possible, these parties would remain bureaucratic, and while they could, in order to defeat both a revolutionary workers movement and imperialism trying to remove them, proform a social revolution and create post-capitalist property relations, there would need to be a political revolution against them as they were a bureaucratic caste, like Stalin's in the USSR. Because of this (ie: these states never having a period of revolutionary workers control, unlike the USSR which had revolutionary workers power from 1917 when the Soviets and revolutionary Bolshevik party had power) these states were classed as "degenerate from birth" instead of "degenerated", although the tasks for revolutionaries in them - political revolution - remained the same. This is just a "linguistic" difference in order to show the historical circumstances these states came into existence by.

The Death Agony of the Fourth International & The Need for a Fifth International

The League views the Fourth International as degenerating when at its Third World Congress when it adopted the position that the Stalinist parties in Eastern European countries like Yugoslavia could regenerate and were roughly 'blunt instruments' for carrying out the proletarian revolution. As a result, the League has started deep entryism in social democratic and Stalinist parties.

As they regard both sides of the 1953 split in the Fourth International to have affirmed this stance, which they regard as a fundamental breach with Leninism and Trotskyism, and as they believe all the major forces having emerged from the Fourth International to be implementing this false 'processist' methodology today, they call for a new Fifth International to be built by the working class forces fighting neoliberalism worldwide, including from the workers' trade unions, parties and other forces participating in the World Social Forum and analogous continental formations like the Asian and European Social Forums.

Workers Power (UK) published a book in 1983, called "Death Agony of the Fourth International [http://www.fifthinternational.org/index.php?id=77,418,0,0,1,0] " which remains the group's major work on analysing the post war Trotskyist movement.

Other theory

The League empathises the transitional programme and having articles with transitional demands in them in their publications. They also believe in permanent revolution (ie. not stageist, and in the impossibility of the bourgious in semi-colonial countries leading revolutions). They believe imperialism is world capitalism, like Lenin, rather than just militarism and war. They see the current stage of their life as being a 'fighting propaganda group', and thus intervene intro struggles such as the June 2007 CWU strike where they call for rank and file committees, organised balloting with other public sector unions and an all out strike.


The League publishes a quarterly English language journal entitled Fifth International. The majority of writers for this appear to be from the British group, although other sections publish journals in their own languages. Revolutionärer Marxismus is the German language journal. The League has previously published first the journal Permanent Revolution which was more theoretical looking at tactics that communist organisations use, theories of imperialism, and similar questions. This was followed by Trotskyist International, which although still theoretical, looked also more at current affairs.

The League also has published many pamphlets on a variety of issues. In 2007 in republished The Road to Red October, a short history of the Russian Revolution. Among these publications is its transitional programme, From Protest to Power.

Member organisations

Full Members

* ArbeiterInnen StandpunktAustria
* Workers Power — Britain
* Socialistická organizace pracujícíchCzech Republic
* Cinquième InternationaleFrance
* Gruppe ArbeitermachtGermany
* ArbetarmaktSweden

Groups in Political Solidarity

* Socialist Party of Sri LankaSri Lanka
* Revolutionary Socialist MovementPakistan
* League members from Ireland

Expelled groups

* Permanent Revolution Tendency
* Pouvoir Ouvrier
* Der Neue Kurs

ee also

* List of Trotskyist internationals
* Revolution (political group)


# [http://workerspower.com/index.php?id=146,1314,0,0,1,0 Forward to the Fifth International, Dave Stocking, Workers Power May 2007]
# [http://workerspower.com/index.php?id=127,1115,0,0,1,0 A split in the League for the Fifth International, Workers Power July/August 2006]
# [http://www.workerspower.com/index.php?id=47,1098,0,0,1,0 A split in the League for the Fifth International, Workers Power Website]
# [http://www.fifthinternational.org/index.php?id=77,418,0,0,1,0 Death Agony of the Fourth International, 1983]

External links

* [http://www.fifthinternational.org Official website]
* [http://www.fifthinternational.org/index.php?programme L5I transitional programme]
* [http://www.worldrevolution.info REVOLUTION]

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