Documents from the Split in the League for the Fifth International
01 July 2006
A split has occurred in the League for the Fifth International. A minority of members most of them members of the British Section - have been expelled for secretly drawing up detailed plans to split the League on the eve of its seventh congress, due before the end of July.
This split plan had not the slightest excuse. Until the discovery of these plans no disciplinary measures have been taken by the majority against the minority. No violation of restriction of their rights to argue their positions within our organisation has occurred. Nor have the splitters, up to the last minute, argued that their views and those of the majority were programmatically incompatible. Therefore to secretly plan to split the League and indeed, as we will show, to damage it in every way they could, was a totally unprincipled and disloyal act. No serious organisation could tolerate such a violation of its fundamental right to exist. To expel them is an elementary act of self-protection.
A grouping of members had been waging an internal struggle for two years, first as an informal grouping, then as a tendency, then finally as a minority national faction in the British Section and then as an international faction. No disciplinary measures whatsoever were taken against them. They were accorded all their rights, they presented alternative documents, were able to speak to them in all the sections of the League they chose to attend. Since the launching of our pre-congress period in January, 10 internal bulletins have carried this discussion over international perspectives and the tactics and tasks for building the organisation. Over the last month the sections have held national aggregates of members to decide on which basic documents, those of the Majority or the Minority should be the basis of debate at congress.
The only problem for the minority faction was that outside the British Section and the four members of the Australian section their support was negligible. They recognised they had no chance of winning a majority at the congress and were unwilling to continue within the League after it. They described the prospect of having to remain in the League as being trapped.
This is nonsense. The League is a voluntary organisation and no one is obliged to remain in a organisation whose programme and policies they reject. Had the comrades simply announced that they were leaving for fundamental political reasons we would have condemned these political positions and said farewell, with some regret since some of the comrades have been members for twenty years or more. But instead of an honourable exit, they broke obligations that should be elementary for working class militants as long as they remain members of an organisation.
Indeed the actions they were planning to carry out - in order to damage in every way the organisation they were members of - were truly shameful, a real stain on their political record. This method will disfigure the internal life of any new organisation they attempt to create and should make them objects of scorn and suspicion within the broader labour movement. If this is how they behave to an organisation that has treated them with respect as long time comrades, which has fully accorded them all their rights, what further degeneration can be expected?
The evidence for this appalling behaviour is undeniable: thanks to the fact that we have been sent all the factions electronic correspondence with one another. What does it reveal?
At a meeting of the Minority Faction at the Workers Power (Britain) pre-congress aggregate on the 10th June, they decided to split from the organisation, make preparations for a new organisation and campaign to inflict maximum damage on the League.
The main issue of debate had been whether to split at the Leagues Seventh Congress in July or to boycott the Congress, break discipline and intervene against the League into the International Conference of the REVOLUTION youth group, and hold a founding meeting in London while the League meets in the Czech Republic. All of them make it clear that the only question was which could cause most damage to the League.
It is clear from the emails that, in an online referendum, a clear majority favoured an early split before the congress, because they feared their own demoralisation as a result of having to argue with the majority at the congress. They feared that they would either get trapped by having no excusable pretext for leaving or would have to walk out after a heavy defeat. Instead they have decided to hold a founding conference in London with the British minority and the two Australian delegates. The latter were brazenly encouraged to get the money for their fares paid from the League for attending its congress and then attend the split meeting instead.
The International Faction talk spitefully about the need to maximise the chaos and disarray into the ranks of the organisation we leave behind, to disorientate and demoralise majority members and to be particularly aggressive to young supporters of the majority to make them ask themselves if politics is really for them (Mark H, Re: Congress and Tactics, June 23rd 2006) They then propose expropriating contact and membership lists, materials and equipment from the London office in the week before the split as part of a plan to materially cripple the League (Mark H, Re: Congress and Tactics, June 23rd 2006).
In addition Workers Power (Australia) voted unanimously at its aggregate to support one of its members ignoring Majority faction dictates at the Revo Conference 2006 i.e. to break from the League policy of continuing the work of strengthening international democratic centralism within REVOLUTION and instead fight for it to completely break its links with the League. (Lisa F, WPA Aggregate/Faction meeting),
The Faction planned to cease paying League subs from July and began transferring money to a new bank account, having discussed a subscription scale for their new organisation. Some of them it seems have already cancelled their subscriptions.
The Faction has entered into communications with organisations and individuals hostile to the League in Austria and has a project of regroupment discussion listing an assortment of centrist and sectarian organisations, including some who split from the League over issues on which the then faction leaders totally supported the majority.
Clearly as a result of this extended (but inadvertent) confession, the International Secretariat of the League had to take action to protect the League. It has expelled the faction, with of course the right to appeal to our Congress - though it is hard to see what such an appeal could consist of faced with such damning evidence. As one of the faction leaders remarked in one of his emails: if there are any more leaks we are dead ducks.
We will not suggest that the reason for this was that the comrades are all bad people, however reprehensible their actions. People do not split an organistion they have built for thirty years in a fit of moral collapse. The reason is a rapid process of political degeneration.
In essence, the Faction evolved from a rejection of national perspectives in Britain. In 2004 the relative downturn in the class struggle, in the antiwar movement in the anticapitalist or anti-globalization movement after the high point of 2001-2003 convinced the faction leaders, then only an informal grouping, that the key issues of WPBs perspectives - the fight around the slogan of a new workers party , the need for a rank and file movement, the fight for the Fifth International in the European Social Forum - all had to be dropped in favour of a tailist and routinist perspective in the trade unions.
Connected with this they wanted to stick with the tactic of critical electoral support for Labour, exaggerating the scale of Labours pro-working class reforms, the continued loyalty to Labour, the illusions in Gordon Brown etc. Thus they maintained that there was no resonance for a call for new workers parties or electoral alternatives to New Labour. They minimised the significance of the RMT and FBU breaks from Labour, they minimised the significance of the real decline of the Labour vote that year.
There was, they said, no resonance for the call for a new working class party. The majority correctly characterized this as tailism, basing their demands not on the needs of the working class but on the existing consciousness of the main body of the class. In this way they failed to give a clear political lead to the vanguard who showed a desire to break from Labour, though it has as yet arrived at no clear decision on what the political alternative should be. The Minority would have had us abandon the role of Marxists which is to show the right way, to trailblaze, to offer political leadership, not to follow where the working class as a whole was going, only raising slogans where they already have resonance. In two national conferences of Workers Power (Britain) the minority suffered first a narrow and then a more clear defeat.
In fact the Minority had no unified alternative to the Majoritys approach. Part of the Minority opposed the demand for a new workers party in principle, claiming that the tactic did not apply because there is already a workers party in Britain the Labour Party. The other wing of the Minority, less dogmatic but also less consistent - argued that the demand could apply, but used tailist logic, saying it should only be used where there is resonance for it, ie within the RMT or the FBU, but not across the working class movement as a whole.
Should they form a new organisation, one of their first challenges will be overcoming the fact that they are split down the middle on a central question for the class struggle in Britain today.
The minority, perhaps because they included so many old leaders of WPB - Mark H, Keith H, Stuart K - became embittered by these defeats. Some minority members had had longer or shorter periods outside the group in the late nineties or early 2000s, missed its reviving and reorienting struggles and indeed felt somewhat hostile to them because they were different to the type of struggles they had experienced when they entered politics in the mid-eighties. Others had voluntarily left the leading bodies of the section and international tendency for apparently personal reasons. This whole stratum, many of them long time white collar trade union militants of some standing and a good record of struggle, nevertheless proved year in year out totally incapable of recruiting to the organisation. They became embittered and jealous of those who were recruiting and building.
Meanwhile our work in the anticapitalist movement and amongst youth prospered and whilst there was steady loss from the older comrades, to private life, careers, health and family problems, the younger comrades kept the British Section growing. The attempt to get the older comrades to collectively discuss changes to their routine or to learn anything at all from the youth work was greeted with cries of indignation, accusations of disrespect and even persecution. The comrades effectively boycotted the areas of work that they did not approve of, like campaigning for a new workers party. Again and again the comrades sought an alibi in the supposedly adverse objective conditions.
They developed perspectives that denied any overall upward swing in the international class struggle, observing only that it is uneven. In fact they turned a blind eye to clear evidence that the intensity of class conflict is rising sharply in most countries in the world: in Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, the USA and the Far East. They have yielded to the fashionable glut of Chinamania - emphasising a long term, largely contradiction-free rise of China to the status of imperialist power and main rival of the USA.
They have openly toyed with revising Lenins theory of imperialism to remove the issue of decay and stagnation. They have suggested that the world is in a Kondratiev-style long wave that will ensure expansion till at least 2015 and which will act to dampen down class struggle. Again this represents a yielding to current neoliberal bourgeois ideology. Because the League rejected this and defended our analysis of globalization as a period where the tendencies to stagnation in the world economy were still present, despite powerful countervailing tendencies represented by the massive export of capital to China and India, the Minority faction cried that we were catastrophists, misrepresenting our views as if we believed that capitalism is on the verge of collapse.
The faction also systematically ignored or grossly underestimated the strength and scale of the movements resisting neo-liberalism and imperialist war, regarding them as dead or as good as dead. Unfortunately the wish is father to the thought. Seeking a return to more propaganda and regarding the Leagues turn to combining propaganda with agitation focused on the youth and the vanguard fighters against neoliberalism as voluntarism, they adopted a more and more passive propagandist approach. With this was combined a tailist and routinist approach to trade union work. If there was resonance, i.e. if workers were already raising certain demands then good, so could we. If not we couldnt and shouldnt.
They advocated too the abandonment the Leagues struggle to fight for a Fifth International in the global movements of resistance in the European and World Social Forums. Instead they talked of a regroupment perspective with (unspecified) Trotskyist left centrists.
In short, in the name of resisting voluntarism they attempt to move the League firmly in the direction of passive propagandism and a discussion circle existence.
They then went on to attack the youth work that had been so successful in Britain and Austria, and the abandon the democratic centralism which has been established in REVOLUTION.
They also proposed to retreat from the Leagues own international democratic centralism to a semi-federal system - an International Executive Committee elected by the sections not the congress, and therefore not accountable to the League as a whole. This strategy would liquidate not only our programme but, in undermining democratic centralism, would weaken the unity and effectiveness of our whole organization. of the masses in struggle, through agitation as well as propaganda.
To undermine democratic centralism, to minimise a militant orientation towards the new struggles and movements of workers and youth, to try to break up a small but real international organisation, in effect means to give up the struggle for a revolutionary fighting organisation.
The international leadership and the great majority of the membership of the League rejected this whole approach. For us it represents a shying away from the tasks of a new period of growing struggles where big questions are posed, not least a major crisis of leadership of the working class. This period requires revolutionaries to address our criticisms and fight for our alternatives not just among small circles of left centrists predominantly drawn from the intelligentsia. We have to bring these ideas to the vanguard It represents a petty bourgeois capitulation in face of the enormous tasks of the class struggle and the corresponding responsibilities for revolutionaries.
The League at its Fifth and Sixth congresses (in 2000 and 2003) analysed the new period which opened with the turn of the century, developed tactics for it and indeed adopted a new programme in 2003 From Protest to Power. In rejecting all the major elements of the Leagues perspective and tasks, the Minority covertly rejected key elements of From Protest to Power. While they were in the League they denied this, but we can safely predict that they will dump it unceremoniously now that are free. What they replace it with will indeed be interesting.
The Minority wanted to undo all this work and naturally found themselves in conflict with the majority of the League who have led this work and been recruited through it. Faced with new tasks, with a mounting level of struggle, with the need to turn the good old truths into good new truths, to sharpen our weapons and use them, the Minority drew back.
The Faction assembled many of those comrades who were skeptical and unenthusiastic about our strategic and tactical developments even in the earlier part of this new period. They eventually (2004-06) came to oppose them more totally and to seek to reverse them. That was their right. No one ever denied them it, despite the frankly hysterical accusations of intolerance, bureaucratism and even Stalinism emanating from the ranks of the Faction in the last few months.
To yield in an impressionistic way to bourgeois economic propaganda about the strength and expansive power of capitalism, to retreat from the Leagues programme, to retreat from its democratic centralism, to retreat from the tasks of today and run hell for leather in the direction of fruitless discussions with Trotskyist fragments, gives the opposition the same character as the these fragments themselves: a petit bourgeois one, i.e. a collapse into centrism.
As Trotsky said centrism hates to hear itself named. Mark H in particular took it as a personal insult. The Majority have declared class war on us he blustered. As though what was at stake was a struggle against the bourgeoisie. No, the struggle against the pressure of petty bourgeois influences, whether these emanate from the disillusioned and tired intelligentsia or the privileged upper strata of the trade union movement is a constant one within revolutionary organisations. It does not mean driving them out or purging them and nothing like this has ever occurred in Workers Power in Britain. Yet on the second day of the conference Mark H declared, Workers Power is on the verge of a split. And indeed, we now know he was right, because the night before he had agitated for just such a split.
The majority, at this time unaware of this, indeed unaware of the minoritys determination to be free of the discipline and the seriousness of a democratic centralist organisation, did all it could to prevent a split. It replied with a statement To Split would be a Crime in which we said:
Alas, our optimism was proved wrong. Secretly and dishonestly the faction had already decided to split the organisation. It planned to harm it in every way it could. We have prevented it choosing their moment to cause maximum surprise and disruption.
The Minority believe their departure will demoralise us. They think their past prominence and services to the organisation real indeed - reflect their current importance. They delude themselves. They believe that new younger comrades cannot match, cannot repeat their achievements. They are wrong.
They should remember the achievements of their own youth in the 1980s. True, to lose senior members who for that very reason make an important financial contribution, to lose trained journalists and theoreticians, to lose significant trade unionists will be a setback. We will not try to deny it. But for two to three years these comrades have shown more and more their negative sides. They also obliged us to engage in a scarcely interrupted internal struggle, one that has occupied many hours. Not a waste of time since internal struggle is a school not the exhaustion of nerves that petit bourgeois dilettantes imagine. If the issues are important so is the struggle to adopt or preserve a correct line.
Still Workers Power has continued to grow, to intervene in the class struggle, to train and develop new cadres. Now we will certainly have to prioritise even more ruthlessly the use of our resources and make bigger sacrifices. But the ending of this struggle will increase the human resources, the time and energy, that we will be able to devote to intervening in and recruiting in the class struggle. We will go forward to new successes; we have no doubt about that.
2nd July 2006
On 1 July the leadership of the League for the Fifth International (LFI) summarily expelled 33 members, mostly from the organisation¹s British section, Workers Power but also comrades based in Australia and Ireland. Those expelled included the majority of Workers Power¹s trade union activists, and a substantial proportion of its leading members and regular contributors to its paper.
The supposed pretext for the expulsions consisted of "leaked" emails that discussed the possibility of leaving the organisation either prior to or during the LFI¹s congress later this month. The LFI leadership issued a very lengthy public statement branding the expelled members as "petit-bourgeois dilettantes", who had succumbed to the "torpor of the labour aristocracy in Britain" and were seduced by "Chinamania". Along with the ritualised abuse, the statement contains a number of inaccuracies and falsehoods that cannot be addressed here, but have already been answered in a statement from the expelled members (and will shortly be available on www.permanentrevolution.net).
The real reason for the expulsions stems from substantial political differences which had developed over two years and resulted in minority and majority factions being formed. The expulsions marked the culmination of a long-running battle within Workers Power and the LFI, which first saw the emergence of an organised tendency in Workers Power (Britain) early last year. In March 2006, came the formation of an international faction for the first time in the history of the LFI and its forerunners.
An increasingly bitter dispute had developed over perspectives since the LFI¹s last congress in 2003. That congress adopted what those of us now expelled had characterised as a "catastrophist" outlook on the world economy. This view provided a justification of sorts for the notion of a global "pre-revolutionary period" characterized by capitalist stagnation and crisis. It was accompanied by a "new turn" towards mass agitation that seemed designed to feed younger members recruited through the youth group,Revolution, a diet of hyper-activism. Under pressure from the tendency/faction the leadership retreated from some of the language of 2003, but did not discard the substance.
Increasingly, schemas replaced concrete assessments of the balance of class forces in particular countries and regions. The need for a serious analysis of imperialist globalization, the impact on the world economy of the collapse of the Stalinist states and the opening up of these regions to capitalist exploitation, the rise of China as an economic and political power, was dismissed. In the mindset of the LFI leadership the World Social Forum/European Social Forum became the vehicle for the imminent creation of a 5th International to be formed "in months or years". Every fightback, large or small, was evidence of the new pre revolutionary period internationally.
The call for a "new workers party" became a mantra in Britain and a slogan applicable throughout Europe. Using the critical support tactic towards the Labour Party in Britain was abandoned electoral abstention became the order of the day, with the tactic of critical support categorically rejected, even in circumstances where the BNP posed a significant electoral threat.
Workers Power issued a blanket call on the unions to simply disaffiliate from Labour despite the absence of a credible alternative. The leadership directed the group to act as footsoldiers for the Socialist Party¹s Campaign for a New Workers Party, a left reformist project that has had precious little resonance to date.
As in most every faction fight, comradely relations broke down and with them went the once healthy norms of the organisation¹s internal democracy. The LFI leadership increasingly resorted to organisational measures to marginalise the influence of the tendency/faction. The British organisation on the eve of the expulsions was already effectively split into separate youth/adult branches ones that represented different factions. This was done against our will and against the group¹s constitution.
The majority refused representation on the Political Committee to faction supporters, reducing Workers Power¹s executive body to a factional tool of the majority disciplinary commissions were set up with ever wider remits to hunt faction members on trumped up charges of indiscipline.
The expulsions have only brought forward the inevitable. It had become clear to the minority that the LFI leadership had no intention of allowing the fight to go beyond this month¹s planned congress, much less of attempting to reach a higher synthesis through collective working.
For us this is not a time for despair but for purposeful reflection and action. Our intention now is to launch a new organisation in the very near future in Britain a new magazine Permanent Revolution will be on sale shortly not least because we wish to defend and develop what was best in the tradition of Workers Power (Britain) and its international tendency. This includes a commitment to international regroupment of the revolutionary Marxist left through a process of dialogue, debate, splits and fusions.
Permanent Revolution steering group .
3rd July 2006
On Saturday 1 July 33 members of the LFI in Britain, Australia, Ireland and Sweden (30% of the LFI membership) were expelled by the International Secretariat (IS) of the League. They were all members of an International Faction (IF) that had been formed in the run up to the League's 7th Congress in July.
The formation of the IF was a culmination of a two year long struggle beginning in Workers Power Britain (WPB) and extending into the League. That struggle was around perspectives and tactics. The majority perspectives adopted at the 2003 congress, and many of the tactics deployed by the organisation on the basis of these perspectives, were wrong, especially around the use of the slogan of a Fifth International within the anti-capitalist movement.
The errors in those perspectives became glaringly apparent in the years following the Congress. Yet the majority clung to them as though they were articles of faith. Perspectives were being transformed into doctrine and real developments in the class struggle and the economy were ignored wherever and whenever they contradicted the majority's "perspective". The political struggle to correct these errors became increasingly bitter, especially in WPB. That struggle has resulted in the current split.
Differences over period
The 2003 Congress of the LFI decided that globalisation had exhausted all of its economic potential, that world capitalism had entered a phase of stagnation and that the political situation could be characterised as a worldwide "pre revolutionary period". The IF challenged this view, arguing that world capitalism was benefiting from the collapse of the Stalinist states and the consequent opening up whole new markets and cheap labour for imperialist exploitation in China, Central Europe and Russia.
This had allowed imperialism, in the age of globalisation, to offset the structural crises of capitalism. We pointed out that global GDP had doubled in the last ten years and that the upward swings of the business cycles since 1993 had been strong, while the down phases had been relatively shallow and unsynchronised - hardly symptoms of crisis and stagnation.
For our part, we do not believe that capitalism has overcome its tendency to structural crisis. We continue to assert that imperialism is the epoch of wars and revolutions. We do not, and none of our members has ever advocated Kondratiev's long waves, as the LFI statement of 1st July asserts. But following Trotsky we do recognise there are longer periods in the world economy, which decisively shape the duration, length and depth of the business cycle.
We recognised the need to open and develop a discussion about world capitalism today since it so clearly bore little resemblance to the picture painted in the majority's political perspectives. Unfortunately this attempt at a scientific debate was greeted with insults - we were "pessimists" who "welcomed good news for capitalism".
We also argued that the working class, internationally, had moved from a period of international defeats (1980-95) to a period of recovery. But we did not mistake a period of recovery for a period of rude health. We recognised that in major sections of the international workers' movement militant organisations had not yet been rebuilt. Traditions of struggle and solidarity had not yet been become widespread. The legacy of the former defeats was still a weapon used by the reformist bureaucracies to hinder or hamper the struggles of today.
In short we believe that we are in a period of transition in world politics. We think the recovery has been uneven. In parts of the world, Japan, Britain, USA, Scandinavia, Russia, the trade unions and workers have remained on the defensive. In other areas - Latin America, France, Greece, the Middle East the struggle against neoliberalism, war and oppression has taken on major proportions. Unevenness and recovery have marked the world class struggle and these differing class struggle situations could not be swept away by simply declaring "a world pre-revolutionary situation".
Because we were prepared to say this, the Majority yell in their 1st July statement: "they systematically ignored or grossly underestimated the strengths and scale of the movements resisting neo-liberalism and imperialist war, regarding them as dead or as good as dead". This gives a flavour of the caricatures and histrionics that marked the leadership's polemics against us in the latter period of the political struggle in the LFI.
The anti-capitalist movement and the fight for the new international
Central to the 2003 Congress perspective was the idea that the "flowering of the anti-capitalist movement", marking the new pre-revolutionary period, made the founding of a new Fifth International an immediate prospect. It meant "forming the new International as soon as possible - not in the distant future but in months or years". The vehicle for this became the World Social Forum and its regional bodies, like the ESF, and a local social forum movement modelled on Italy. This was where "important elements of the new International were taking shape".
In the years that followed 2003 this proved to be a completely wrong perspective. The anti-summit protests went into crisis after the repression of Gothenburg and Genoa (2002), the Italian social forum movement collapsed. In the two years following the Florence ESF in 2002, the WSF and the ESF turned further right under the leadership of the Brazilian PT, Italian RC, the PDS of Germany, (parties that joined or ran neo-liberal national or local governments).
These parties blocked all attempts to turn the ESF/Assembly of Social Movements into a co-ordinating body of struggle, let alone into a new revolutionary international. The Majority refused to recognise that the ESF/WSF has become an obstacle, not a vehicle, for the construction of a revolutionary International. Indeed it declared that, "We will not demand that the mass organisations within the ESF and allied international forums must first ditch their reformist and post Stalinist leaders before they can form a new international." A new revolutionary international led by the likes of the Rifondazione's Bertinotti!
In truth the task of the day was to rally the best revolutionary elements, especially from amongst the radicalised youth and militant union organisations in this important movement, against the leadership and against very purpose that the reformists had now established for the WSF/ESF - an international talking shop which they could use to refurbish their left credentials. The Majority could not say this because they thought it was an embryonic international, they could not fulfil the Marxist duty to say "what is" - that this movement had to be split into competing trends if a revolutionary international was to come about.
Instead the LFI leadership declared that "we were nearer the tasks Marx faced at the beginning of the First (international) than Trotsky in 1938." That is, nearer to refounding the International as a united front with reformist leaders, but in this case where the revolutionary Marxists were an insignificant minority with little influence. The analogy with the First International was laughable. What was being proposed was an echo of the call made in the 1980s for a new international in which Trotskyists would be in the minority, a call popularised by the Argentinean centrist leader at that time, Nahuel Moreno.
This new strategy for the LFI was accompanied by a turn away from argument and discussion with leftward moving groups, often from the Fourth International tradition, and from the fight for revolutionary regroupment. The LFI was no longer interested in the "tiddlers" and "sectarians" who did not recognise the potential of the WSF/ESF. It was now able to address the masses gathering in an embryonic international.
But the LFI was a tiny organisation with little implantation in the global workers' movement. The masses at the WSF/ESF had not responded to its shrill calls to form the Fifth International in the months or years following the 2003 call. Indeed no allies amongst other organisations had been found to unite with to fight for the Fifth International - or even take the next step in that direction. The leadership ignored these stubborn facts. It was now substituting delusion and schema for accurate perspectives and revolutionary tactics.
The perspective of a pre-revolutionary period and the assembling of forces for a new international in the ESF movement in the short term, led the Majority declaring that the London ESF in 2004 would present "unparalleled opportunities to transform, radicalise and re-organise class politics in Britain". We said it wouldn't, especially given the weakness of the anti-capitalist movement in Britain and the low level of trade union and class struggle. We were proved right but the Majority pressed on.
Building "local social forums in every town and city" (social forums were seen as part of the fight for proto soviet organisations in the pre revolutionary period worldwide) became a "key slogan". The social forum "movement" - which didn't actually exist - nevertheless became a key area of work.
Even after the dramatic decline of the mass anti-war movement in Britain the majority retained the slogan of building social forums. It had no resonance and was a complete failure wherever we tried to implement it. This slogan, along with the call for a National Social Forum, was only dropped after the small turnout at the Gleneagles G8 summit siege showed how weak the movement was in Britain. But even at the point the LFI majority leaders insisted we had been wrong to oppose the slogan. The majority could not accept that the minority were right on anything. They were becoming impervious to all criticism.
The Workers' Party and tactics towards reformism
Another area of difference, one that primarily affected the British section, concerned tactics towards reformism.
WPB had historically taken a critical electoral support position towards the Labour Party. We regarded Lenin's description of the Labour Party as a "bourgeois workers party" - a party with a bourgeois reformist programme and leadership but with a working class base mainly through the affiliated trade unions - as correct and still accurate.
The united front - placing demands on Labour, trying to win its working class supporters to struggle and revolutionary politics, and mobilising reformist workers in a fight with their leaders, inside and outside the Labour Party - is still a crucial tactic in our view. Critical electoral support was part of this tactic - gaining a hearing with reformist workers, putting their party to the test of office, winning these workers to a revolutionary alternative.
This was a tactic not a strategy - if we had been larger we would have stood revolutionary candidates against Labour. We supported "class struggle candidates" where workers in struggle represented a real break from Labour and stood against the party. We actively supported and helped build the Socialist Alliance (SA). One of our faction's members was a parliamentary candidate for it in Greenwich while another was on the SA's executive.
Part of this struggle against Labour reformism was a fight to democratise the political fund. This was designed to break Labour's monopoly hold on TU political funds and allow unions nationally and locally to fund and support other working class political parties as well as Labour - like the SSP in Scotland. This was the position WP argued for in the SA and was a tactic the Alliance used with some success with many faction members playing a leading role in mobilising a thousand strong trade union conference on the issue.
In the last two years, against our opposition, WP has abandoned all of these positions. It now calls on trade unionists to disaffiliate from Labour even though there is no "workers' party" to affiliate to. This is a recipe for encouraging the growth of apolitical trade unionism - a danger that now faces the FBU since its disaffiliation from Labour. The WPB leadership calls for a general abstentionist position in elections - calling on workers not to vote is somehow "relating to the vanguard". Worse, in one document they went so far as to say WPB was not "putting demands on Labour in this conjuncture." So, no demands on them to repeal anti-unions laws, anti-asylum seeker laws and so on? This was getting ludicrous.
Rejecting critical electoral support was even the case where there was a real threat of fascist gains. While the UAF called on people to vote anyone but the BNP, WPB tells workers threatened with a fascist council election victory not to bother to vote at all!
Of course, we don't think voting Labour will defeat fascism. We need to defeat them on the streets and through a fight for a real revolutionary alternative to capitalism. But we do think it is necessary - indeed it is an elementary united front tactic - to block them building an electoral base for fascism wherever we can. If a revolutionary candidate or a serious candidate of struggle is not standing we should critically support Labour under such circumstances.
The Majority's statement on the split tries to make out that because we take this position we are "soft on Labour". Far from it. The argument over the workers' party was about how to relate to both the vanguard who are deeply disillusioned with Labour and, at the same time, to the mass of organised workers and trade unionists who still vote Labour against the Tories. Many of these workers have illusions in Gordon Brown or other left figures and campaigns in the Labour Party. The RMT, for example, which has been kicked out of the Labour Party nevertheless continues to support politically and financially left wing Labour MPs.
With the collapse of the Socialist Alliance, the diversion of many of its militants into a populist, non-socialist alternative, Respect, and a continuing low level of trade union struggle in Britain, we did not think the workers' party tactic was a central one to use in the current situation. In the absence of substantial organised trade union forces driving for a new party we thought it would have little resonance as an operative tactic - no more resonance in fact than the clear and straightforward idea that the party that workers needed was a revolutionary party. There was no short cut to this goal, no quick fix via a "new mass workers' party", and it remained vital to engage with vanguard militants on the need to join with us in the fight to build a revolutionary party.
We think the severely muted response, around the country, to the launch of the Socialist Party's Campaign for a New Workers Party (barely a regional or town meeting over 60 people and often a lot less) confirms that this tactic is not useful for revolutionaries at the moment. Yet this has now become the central, "over-arching" campaigning work of WPB, the key, unifying element of the group's agitation.
The IS asserts that because we opposed the new workers' party tactic politically, the IF in WPB "boycotted the areas of work that they did not approve of, like campaigning for a new workers' party." In fact at union national conferences (Unison, NUT, Natfhe, for example) it was IF members who loyally pressed the case, and faction members initiated or were involved in campaign launches in Sheffield, South Wales and south London.
Finally and ironically, abandoning critical support was never applied to LFI sections in Sweden or the Czech Republic where the League continued to advocate a vote for neo-liberal social democratic parties that have been in power for many years.
The new turn to agitation
The Majority paints a picture of the IF resisting a new turn to agitation, that we "attempt to move the League firmly in the direction of passive propagandism and a discussion circle existence." Moreover, we are an "embittered" group of trade unionists who are unable to recruit to WPB.
Of course any revolutionary trade unionist will tell you that after the defeats of Thatcherism, the shrinking of the unions and the strengthening of the reformist union bureaucracy via the anti union laws, it is not easy to win recruits to revolutionary politics. This is even more the case in a period like today of very low levels of trade union struggle. If it was as easy to recruit in the unions as the leaders of the LFI think the far left would not be so much smaller, and, frankly more marginal, now than it was even 10 years ago.
We recognised many years ago that there was a radicalisation amongst youth and it is through Revolution youth work that WPB has recruited. And all the faction supported this work. Indeed we helped build it. However, as the political struggle deepened the majority began to exclude faction supporters from youth work. They created or maintained separate youth branches and cells, even where those branches were patently failing to build independent Revo groups, as in London, for example. The youth branches and cells were used as exclusion zones by the majority - a purely factional decision by them to reduce our influence amongst a layer of their supporters who by this time were being systematically miseducated.
Yet we never learned from the majority what their new turn to agitation consisted of. For WPB it seemed to come down to "a few more stalls, more leafleting, more nights of activity" and some talk about using the methods of Revo to attract workers - campaigns, street theatre etc. The only political campaign mentioned was the Campaign for a New Workers' Party - hardly a roaring success in getting workers along to meetings, let alone recruiting them to revolutionary politics.
The IS says the IF "favour of a tailist and routinist perspective in the trade unions." The irony is that it is the trade union members of the faction, the bulk of the trade union base of WPB just expelled, were the ones who undertook some of the most political actions in the last period anddemonstrated what real revolutionary agitation was. Our teachers, for example, were instrumental in bringing out their schools on strike in London, bringing pupils and parents onto the streets, the day Blair invaded Iraq. These were some of the only trade union actions against the war in the country.
What the Majority leadership objected to, in their impatience and voluntarism, was that to rebuild confidence and organisation amongst workers and to begin to build a militant leadership in a workplace takes a lot of ordinary, everyday, union work, alongside communist work. Unfortunately the Majority duped a lot of young members with little experience of workplace and union work into going along with them on this, dubbing such work "routinism" reflecting a "conservative outlook".
International youth work and democratic centralism
We are accused of attacking "the youth work that was so successful in Britain and Austria" in the LFI statement.
WPB had moderate success for a small group in this area of work. Revolution has been very good at drawing young people into WPB, less successful in establishing a genuine independent youth movement. Its annual national conferences have hovered around 40-50 people. But only in one town, Leeds had we managed to established a self-sustaining active Revo group.
In Austria results are disputed, as half the organisation, mostly young members, left shortly after the Athens ESF leaving only five members in the section. The comrades who left claim the success of the Revo work in Austria is much exaggerated by the full-timer and International Secretariat member there.
The IF certainly thought that the rush to push the international Revo groups, which were often struggling to establish themselves nationally, into a fully blown international democratic centralist structure - while not wrong in principle - was premature. It flowed from the IS's desire to prove that not only a new Fifth international was on the cards but that we were on the way to building a youth international as well. In fact despite the occasional successful youth meeting at ESFs we had discovered few co-thinkers willing to join us in this task.
A Revolution International Committee (RIC) was set up, and a Bureau to meet in between. Neither functioned very well and at the first sign of differences a tendency, described by the IS as "libertarian", in the German and Swiss Revo groups, were suddenly being denounced as people who "flouted" democratic centralism. We said that this problem demonstrated that the drive towards democratic centralism should be reconsidered. We were duly denounced as "effectively surrendering to the libertarian and anarchising trends that are trying to split Revo in Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland away from its association with the League."
We replied: "Whatever happened to the idea that we were trying to build broad, fairly loose Revo organisations that might contain members of other tendencies, including libertarians? Genuinely independent organisations, in their majority under our political leadership, a leadership not imposed but won through argument and activity?"
No, for the super centralists of the LFI majority all Revo groups must immediately follow to the letter the directions and campaigns decided by the RIC and a new two person bureau (of LFI members) in Leeds. This is a recipe for driving young people into the arms of libertarians, and for splits. It is completely inappropriate for the current stage and state of Revolution internationally. It is destroying it as an organisation.
The internal struggle and the expulsions
The LFI, WPB and most other sections, have a strong tradition of democratic debate, of political tendencies forming and dissolving and of a collective leadership representing various strands of opinion. This has been increasingly undermined over the last two years.
In WPB we were forced to turn from a tendency to a faction in order to guarantee our proportional representation on the National Committee at our national conference last March. As a result of us taking this justified action the NC majority immediately barred us from representation on the Political Committee (PC), the weekly meeting executive. This was despite the fact that two minority Tendency members had worked loyally on the PC for the entire preceding year without incident. From that moment the PC became a weapon in the hands of the majority faction to be used, systematically, against the minority Faction.
Soon disciplinary commissions were hunting down those suspected of talking to outsiders about the political divisions in the group (invariably faction members). Despite the Majority's efforts no evidence was ever found - because there wasn't any. The Manchester branch was unconstitutionally split with a "youth cell" being formed reporting directly to the PC - a measure about to be challenged at our National Committee before our expulsion.
When a crisis broke out in the Austrian section - leading to the resignations of half of the organisation - the IF was immediately accused by the IS of meddling in it and using it for factional advantage. There was no evidence for this, but just as truth was no longer getting in the way of the majority's political perspectives it was now also no barrier to their organisational offensive against the faction. Indeed such was the scale of the witch-hunt against us that all personal e-mails between comrades in the League which even mentioned the Austrian crisis were demanded to be handed over to the International Secretariat on pain of discipline. The aim was a trawling expedition to "pin something" on the IF. These outrageous demands imposed on the Austrian opposition undoubtedly helped to drive the young comrades away from the League.
All factional struggles can lead to a breakdown in comradely relations. These measures contributed to a breakdown of trust of comrades in the LFI leadership.
By the time WPB assembled for its pre-congress aggregate in June the IF had been denounced as "passive propagandists", "a petit bourgeois formation", "a clique" and "liquidationists". The leadership clearly thought it was re fighting the 1940 Cannon-Shachtman struggle in the US SWP with quotes flying around from "From a scratch to the danger gangrene" - second time round this really was farce.
The Majority had made clear that whatever the support the IF had at Congress they would keep control of all of the executive committees - the International Secretariat and the WPB PC were by now virtually one and the same thing with overlapping membership. Given the IF's experience of what this factional control meant it was no surprise that discussions started on whether we would be better taking our differences and our politics into the class struggle outside of the framework of the League.
Recently we started polling members of the IF on the question of whether we should resign as a block before or after the congress. The vote was never completed before the IS gained access to (or hacked into) the Faction e-list and proceeded to expel everyone in the faction whatever their opinion on this matter. On the very day of the expulsions members of the IF were working loyally on the July issue of WPB's newspaper, carrying out the discipline of the group as they had done for the whole two years they were in opposition.
The Majority are publishing their side of the story - which the outside observer will note involves an awful lot of insults against this or that faction member but not very much about the politics of the dispute. We on the other hand have chosen to highlight the political character of our struggle inside the LFI. The reason for this is that, above all, we are political activists, now, in the past, and for many years to come. We don't feel personally injured, embittered or demoralised by the political fight we waged in the LFI.
It is time to move on and we will leave the screaming and shouting to those who have expelled us. We will move on to the formation of a new organisation to continue our struggle and to the production of a new magazine in Britain - Permanent Revolution. We will be bringing into it the core of the established leadership of WPB and almost half the membership of WPB, including most of its trade unionists. We bring into it the Australian section of the League, WPA, plus comrades from Ireland and Sweden.
We are confident that our new organisation will press forward and win more adherents. We are ready to face our new challenge.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following members of the LFI have been expelled.
Adrian S (WPB) - member since 1984
An outline of the evidence that reveals how the International Minority Faction planned to split the League
In the last few days the International Secretariat received leaked documents from the International Faction E-group.
They revealed leaving no room for doubt - that the International Faction were carrying out a systematic campaign to split the League and inflict maximum damage in their departure.
The International Secretariat acted swiftly passing an emergency resolution expelling the splitters.
The leaked documents will be published in their entirety but with email addresses and surnames removed.
Here we give a summation and commentary of the key breaches of discipline, party loyalty and working class morality the documents reveal.
The agreement they made to split
It is clear from the evidence that the Minority Faction in Workers Power Britain agreed at their meeting on the 10th June that they would split from the League. This is clear from the following emails.
In an email from Bill he makes reference to implementing the agreement [made] at the faction meeting and essentially says the Faction list itself exists to implement this plan:
the only point of having a separate list is so that we can sort anything we may need to in confidence, as and when we come to the point that we need to implement our agreement at the faction meeting.
Michelle from Workers Power Australia then posts six days later indicating that she is at the very least partially aware of the decision made at the Minority Faction meeting at the Aggregate when she says:
I guess thats one of the reasons Im posting this - in order to flesh out some of the decisions that have been made, and to be able to guage exactly where were at as a faction. I guess the other real reasons are to throw some ideas out, and see what comes back, and to create discussion that will involve/illuminate international faction comrades - we would like to participate and help shape the discussions and decisions that come out of this critical time in the LFI.
She continues by making it explicitly clear where she, and she argues, the other three comrades from the Australian section, stand when she says:
I think we are currently faced with a decision - not of do we split, but when do we split - thats certainly the feeling on this side of the world, anyhow... and if this is the case internationally, then I guess its time that we start to discuss this more seriously - particularly the options we are faced with, and how tactically
This is the first explicit reference to the plans to split the League. It is clear from the posts that follow from each International Minority Faction member that this was clearly the agreement Bill had referred to in his post on the 13th June (ibid).
When to split? The argument over whether to go to Congress
Michelles email quoted above not only was the first in the leaked emails to explicitly raise the question of the split but it also argued very strongly that the split should occur prior to the Congress.
Instead of attending the congress, she argued, the Faction should hold an international founding conference for their new organization:
I guess the real question at the end of the day is do we wait and attend congress, or do we split earlier and use the time, and the resources otherwise spent in Prague to meet in London and establish a new group? There are obviously benefits to both tactics, but I tend to think that a split sooner, rather than later will serve us better in the foundation of a new Revolutionary organization We need to use the congress period to have an international meeting of faction supporters - of splitters - to found the new organisation...
This sparks a debate within the International Faction. Jason and James immediately come back and stress their agreement with Michelle in emails on the 19th June, but the following day on the 20th June Stuart K argues against the proposals. He demonstrates that he still knows what principle is in so far as he is able to accurately predict the principled response the League would take to such action:
I think comrades are being too impatient in wanting an immediate break and not wanting to go to Congress. If we just left before congress we would be rightly branded as failing to take our arguments to the international, the highest body in the group. The IS would brand us as cowards who had so little support that we did not dare to show up and argue our case. And our first period of existence would be having to counter this argument and explain why we left.
Stuart then proposes a series of changes to the international perspectives that would have the effect of moving them closer to the majority perspectives and, on the question of the Leagues structure, he proposes getting rid of their centrist proposal for a federalist structure for the Leagues International Executive Committee.
However, it is clear that for Stuart this is not perceived as a principled move by the Faction but rather as merely one that would make them appear more reasonable, the Majority more intransigent, and give them the veneer of a moral high ground which would:
hold a gun to their heads based on the fact that status quo will worsen the crisis and lead to splits - ie we will be the ones looking for unity and demanding compromises from the IS majority. They will be intransigent and hopefully drive those seeking a compromise to our side.
We will weigh up the results of all this at congress even to the point of putting a slate to the IEC. But if we judge that the perspectives continue to be wrong, the tasks not based on reality and the internal regime guaranteed to exacerbate the factionalism and crisis leading to demoralisation and splits then we will say this openly - call a meeting and explain why we can no longer stay in the League. This seems to me a perfectly principled and non antagonistic way to separate and found a new organisation. We will say the international class struggle will prove who is right and who is wrong.
Following this email several comrades reply, registering agreement with Stuarts proposals, however, Keith H in particular argues that Stuart does not explicitly rule out staying beyond the Congress and he should:
Suggesting a minority of faction IS members on an IS (and IEC) presupposes that we agree to work on after Congress as a loyal minority based on the majority documents being adopted. This is not realistic. We will not keep the faction together after Congress in this scenario; comrades will walk. We need to be clear: if the Congress adopts the IS/IEC documents then we will not be part of any leadership; we will be out. The higher good is to put our ideas out into the public domain and let history decide. To suggest parity on leading bodies even on the basis of winning a majority for the faction documents is possible but unrealistic; they will insist on us taking over (assuming they do not walk out in such a scenario). In short Stuarts scenario assumes another three years as a minority.
In presenting this proposal it was clear that Stuart was coming close to violating an agreement that already been made at the WPB Minority Faction meeting on the 10th June.
In response to a posting from Lisa (WPA) on requesting that what agreed was explicitly spelt out Bill replies:
at the meeting held at the aggregate the faction reached a consensus that a split was inevitable. There was no discussion around the timing of that split, essentially the debate was around whether or not we stayed until Congress, but no resolution was reached on this, the general view was it depended on events and our assessment of the value of attending Congress, in terms of who we could win out of it, consolidating ourselves and so on. I agree with Keith there is no value in entertaining the idea that we will remain after Congress. For me Congress is the latest date for a split, whether we go or not before then is a tactical question.
At this stage in the discussion, on the 22nd June, the majority of the International Faction appeared set on going to the congress. Even Mark, who later rallies the Faction into breaking before the Congress, gave instructions to Workers Power Australia for them to put forward all the amendments from Faction members to the congress whether they agree with them or not in an email sent on the 22nd June (Mark H, australian aggregate, June 22nd 2006).
On the 22nd June Stuart also clarified his original post by making it clear that he had no intention of staying loyal to the League after the Congress and his proposals for appearing reasonable were merely opportunistic attempts to appeal to what he calls the middle ground and the softs (Stuart K, Congress Tactics, 22nd June).
What was clear from all of this discussion was that it really was a question of when and not if for the International Faction. Furthermore, Kirsty goes as far as saying that breaking with the League was the logical conclusion of their struggle (Kirsty P, Re: Congress Tactics, June 22nd 2006) perhaps indicating that at least some of the International Faction had a split as a goal from the moment they commenced the tendency struggle in Workers Power.
Making preparations for a new organisation
In a post from Dan on the 13th June it was clear that they had begun preparing contact lists for their new organization when he boasted he had spent the last two hours taking down all the email contacts from the Revo UK and World Revo egroups. (Dan J, Re: Manchester Contact, 13th June 2006).
In the minutes of the Faction leadership they confirmed that they planned to raid League and Revo contact lists for future use in their new organization:
All comrades must make sure they can collect as many contact lists that they have access to as soon as possible. Some comrades have already done this.
The same minutes also showed that the Faction had made preparations for a new website: Helen and Keith H to organise team to start web site. Michelle has necessary skills for this as well. Dave E is also able to be part of a web site team. (ibid) Furthermore, they had plans for a new journal and had begun collating their documents of struggle for publication (ibid). Their new journal would be produced in September (Keith H, Re: congress and tactics, 23rd June 2006 and Stuart K, Congress Tactics, 23rd June 2006).
The Faction had also begun transferring money into the Manchester branchs bank account in preparation for their new organization (John C, Finances, 21st June 2006).
Most scandalously, Stuart argues that no matter when they decide to split they should claim all the money for their airfares to Prague including the airfares for the Australian Faction members, effectively a proposal to steal money from the League (Stuart K, Congress Tactics, 23rd June 2006). He also proposes canceling their July subs, a clear intention that he is only in favour of delaying rather than avoiding a split with the League (Stuart K, ibid).
They also planned to send a 4,000 word statement to the Weekly Worker when they split from the organization (Stuart K, ibid, 23rd June).
All of this showed not only their complete contempt for the Leagues democratic highest organ the congress, which they sought to use merely as a platform with which to maximize the numbers for the split campaign, but also the bankruptcy of their political arguments and their own confidence in their ability to win those arguments. Indeed, they question of politics or principles guiding their actions appear nowhere in the leaked emails.
Mark Hs disgraceful email on the 23rd June
Up until the 23rd June the postings on the International Faction e-group showed that they were clearly divided as to when to split with Stuart and Keith pushing for them to attend the Congress and Michelle arguing that they use the time to hold a founding meeting.
It was the intervention of Mark H, who, like Stuart K and Keith H, has been a leading cadre of the organization over its life, which changed the course of the debate. His email revealed that, despite once being a respected and honourable revolutionary, the factional struggle had led not only to his political degeneration but his moral degeneration too.
He showed his complete disregard for the Leagues democracy by claiming that Congress would be meaningless. By my reckoning we will have 11 definite delegates. The majority will have at the very least 20 hard core immovable supporters. There may be in the region of three or four waverers (at most). That means we have lost, in advance. The maths are that simple.
In a stroke the congress is declared meaningless because the Faction have lost the political argument within the League. What a disdainful approach to working class democracy.
He continues by putting forward practical arguments for them having meeting to form their new organization during Congress and stresses the need to hit the ground running (Mark H, ibid). Curiously, he claims that one of the central tasks of their opening conference would be to agree a unified approach to the new workers party tactic to cement the unity of our new organisation (Mark H, ibid). How this is possible when they have been consistently divided on the question we wonder, but this not our problem anymore.
Mark then, in response to Stuart argues incredibly, that the vast majority of the left wont give a monkeys uncle about the formalities of exactly when we split and whether we observed the niceties of procedure. They will want to know why we split (Mark H, ibid). This is an incredible statement, to claim that the working class and the left have complete disregard to how political arguments are conducted, whether they are done so in comradely and fair fashion, with respect to the norms of working class democracy and morality. All these questions seem reduced by the Faction to tactics.
Mark H then claims the Majority will be reduced to a desperate rump when they leave! Incredibly, he says the opportunities for growth lie outside the League when the great majority of the International Faction have not recruited anyone for years.
However, it is his concluding statements, on the tasks for July where he makes his most contemptible proposals. He argues the Faction face two tasks:
1) the formation of a viable new organisation 2) the maximisation of chaos and disarray in the ranks of the organisation we leave behind.
He concedes the second objective requires a strong stomach before proceeding to make list of morally reprehensible tasks. All class conscious militants and anticapitalist activists will be rightly repulsed by what he proposes driving comrades out of politics:
conducting as ruthless a war on every majority individual between now and the date we set to split in order to disorient and demoralise them. We should be particularly aggressive towards the majoritys extremely flaky base of support. We should make them ask themselves whether or not politics is really for them;
He expresses the hope that their departure will financially cripple the League, wishing homelessness and the doll-que on our full timers:
depriving them at a single stroke of the bulk of their income and pushing them towards financial ruin, forcing them to sack their full timers, cease their publications, give up their office etc.
It is incredible that a comrade who served as a Workers Power full timer for twenty-two years could look forward to the sacking of full timers with such glee.
He then proposes using the investigation being carried out by the Workers Power leadership into accusations of bullying and oppressive behaviour by the Manchester branch towards two supporters of the Workers Power and League leadership as a pre-text to launch a split (Mark H, ibid).
Marks call to be particularly aggressive to the Majoritys members to drive them out puts these accusations of bullying and oppressive behaviour in a new and deeply incriminating context. As if he could not go any lower, he continues:
Comrades in London should, if at all possible, get everything of any use to use from both the office and from any stores, branch organisers etc (materials, contact lists, equipment etc) in the week between the NC and the faction meeting and all comrades should cancel their subs to WP and to the paper account in that same week.
Mark also, following on from others argues that they should take thier factional warfare to Revolution, the Independent Socialist Youth Organisation that works in political solidarity with the League.
Fighting for Revo to break completely from the L5I
Prior to the Leagues forthcoming Seventh Congress Revolution will be holding an International Delegate Conference.
In the leaked e-mails the International Faction show their disdain and disregard for Revo and the work the League has done to build it. Dave E disdainfully refers to it as their (i.e. L5I Majority) big project (Dave E, Congress and Tactics, 23rd June 2006) and sees this as the reason to attack it.
In the secret minutes of Workers Power Australias aggregate it is revealed they agreed, in complete contradiction to the Leagues agreed policy of fighting to build and support Revo groups, to:
pull back from Revo for the moment, except where needed internationally. We only have one non-WP member of Revo and hope to recruit them in coming months.
It is clear from this that Revolution does not exist in Australia (one other member in addition to the two WPA members?!) and moreover that these splitters do not endeavour to build it at all but rather pull back from it.
It is clear from the rest of the emails what they mean by where needed internationally and that it to use it to build their new organization. Their intent to split underpins their whole approach to the Revolution International Conference.
In her opening leaked email Michelle argues that she could do a lot more good there as a Revo member not under the discipline of the LFI (Michelle R, Faction Planning, 19th June 2006).
The intervention into the Revolution International Conference is then presented by a series of comrades as a major factor in the timing of their split from the group. They join Michelle in arguing that the split should come prior to the Revolution International Conference so that they can take advantage of the varying degrees of opposition that exists within the Czech and German sections of Revolution to the development of its international democratic centralism.
Over the last eighteen months the League has argued within Revolution for it to undertake to set up a democratic centralist political leadership, something the Opposition have presented as voluntarist. They have argued for a retreat from this course, while at the same time proposing federal structures for the Leagues own leadership.
What is startling about the posts on the e-group is this political criticism barely figures in their plans, it is presented purely as a question of maximizing influence for their new organization and destroying the L5I. Mark argues with this clearly when he says:
allowing Michelle, to stand up - hopefully alongside Nikola and others - at the Revo conference and push for it to break completely from the L5I, undermine its attempt to impose democratic centralism (which would in effect mean its governance by an unelected, inactive, ageing lawyer - Richard) and call on its sections to collaborate with us in the future without any preconditions about having to agree with us or act under our discipline.
Mark shows how deluded he is by presenting Revolution, a self governing organization with a young international leadership, as being merely the plaything of a member of the Leagues International Secretariat.
Anyone with any knowledge of Revolution and the League youths work will know this is absurd, indeed, many people on the international left have been impressed with the evidently self organized and youth led interventions Revo has made into the social forums over the years. All Mark is revealing in this post is his complete detachment from the successful work of the League over the past five years.
The Faction are also deluded about the support they could gain at the Revolution International Conference, Bill in particular argues that they could use the conference to found groups in German and the Czech Republic:
I think there is a contradiction between attending congress and maximising our impact on Revo. Revo have a meeting just before congress, there are already sympathisers for a similar line to us there, quite independently of us, in the form of Susi (Nikolas partner) as a representative of the Czechs and the Germans and Swiss and no doubt others who we dont know about. I think maximising our support amongst them could be an important impetus for us in founding new groups there as well as consolidating support among younger critical L5i members. Therefore I think everything should be subordinated to our need to advance at this conference. Therefore I am in favour of Michelle announcing the split there (if shes willing obviously) and inviting an rebel Revo elements to the founding conference the following weekend
We will see how Nicola, a member of the League who is not a member of the International Tendency nor Faction but sympathetic to their politics, feels about be used at the Revolution International Conference to provide the springboard for a split from the League. We will also see what the Revolution sections feel about their organization being used as a playground for these splitters who do not even intend to build Revolution in Australia.
Far from the Revolution International Conference having been stitched up and its outcome decided a priori, the question of Revolutions international tasks, structures and perspective will be openly and clearly debated by the delegates elected from Revolutions national sections. The splitters, will, if they are delegated, be able to argue whatever they want, and we will oppose their arguments. We will wait and see whether the will be able to rally the levels of opposition they hope too particularly after this disgusting and unprincipled split campaign has been exposed to Revolution and the International left.
In her posts Michelle makes several factual errors regarding Revolution internal life over the last year including arguments with John a leader of German Revo and the Leagues approach to Revo sections where it is in a minority. We do not have time here to answer all of these points but we must clearly refute the notion that: The Majority look set to try and split the non-LFI German & Czechs out of Revolution at this conference, or in the near future (Michelle R, Faction Planning 19th June 2006). On the contrary, we are arguing for Revolution to be more united, with a stronger leadership and clear goals. We have no intention of splitting or purging anyone.
Interestingly, on the question of Revolution both Keith H and Stuart K both again demonstrate their cautious, if still not principled, approach to the split. Keith H warns that if Michelle breaks discipline at the Revo Conference this is likely to receive short shrift from Luke et al (Keith H, Re: Congress and Tactics, June 23rd 2006) and Stuart also argues that Michelle should be more subtle in her approach to Susi and Nicola (Stuart K, Congress and Tactics, 23rd June 2006).
The worst methods win the day in the Faction
Marks awful email of the 23rd June changed the course of the debate. Despite Stuart and Keiths initial caution in the timing of the split and the intervention into the Revolution International Conference they were both clearly defeated in the E-group discussion that followed Marks email. Indeed, Stuart himself said that he had come round to Marks way of thinking on going to Congress (Stuart K, IBs and Stuff, 26th June 2006).
Following a meeting of the Faction Steering Group in London (Helen W, Minutes of London Meeting, 26th June 2006) an electronic vote was initiated by Helen W that gave two options. Option 1 was to go to Congress and Option 2 was:
Decide now not to attend Congress, but still attend the revo conference. In the case of option 2 we would have to keep up the pretence of going to congress until after the Revo conference (ie tell the office that we have tickets etc) If we do not go to congress we should hold a meeting in London on 22-23 July of as many international faction members as possible to launch a new organisation.
Here it is completely evident that Helen and the rest of the Faction Steering Group advocated lying to the organisation concerning Congress tickets.
In the votes that followed the great majority of the Faction favoured the Option 2. This was a clear victory for Mark and his post of the 23rd June that changed the course of the discussion.
In no email that followed did any member of the Faction disagree with the deeply immoral tasks he proposed and in particular a) driving young comrades out of politics, b) stealing from the organization in the week before they split, c) using the investigation into Manchester to create the illusion of a which hunt and a pre-text for a split.
Silence on this issue was clearly consent and the votes for option 2 were clearly a support for this course.
We had charted the political degeneration of this opposition in the course of the two year long struggle within the League but even when we received these leaked emails many of us were shocked by what was clear moral degeneration too.
We feel it necessary to publish this article to expose this to the workers and social movements and the left and put forward the evidence that led to us taking the action we did.
We believe that the emails the originals of which we are making available to all members are incontrovertible evidence that this Minority were planning a unprincipled attampt to destroy the League. The IS therefore had no alternative but to expel the Faction immediately.