Finally the essay also shows the difference between the LFI two years ago, when at least in words such documents had to be approved, and their centrist degeneration since then. Today the Neo-LFI
follows an opportunist policy of uncritically “uniting the left” and creating illusions into left-reformist top trade union bureaucrats.
In this document from early 2010 which expressed the position of the – at time still revolutionary – LFI we outlined our approach of intransigent opposition against reformist forces unambiguously: “We are fighting for a revolutionary working class Fifth International from the beginning. We therefore argue for a revolutionary programme from the outset. (…) At the same time, it is clear that the Chavista Fifth International will be dominated by left-populist and reformist forces. (…) Because of the contradictory class character of a Chávista Fifth International, we will act as a revolutionary opposition faction from the beginning. We must have no illusions and, equally importantly, must not create any illusions; this would be an International whose leaders would be on the other side of the barricades against the workers on various occasions (strikes in Venezuela and Bolivia, support for Ahmedinejad against the youth of Iran, for Mugabe and Zanu-PF against the workers of Zimbabwe, etc.). We have to wage a revolutionary class struggle inside the Fifth International against any Chavista/Castroite/ELP leadership.”
The Neo-LFI leadership today does the opposite. They claim the main problem of the centrist and left-reformist left is not their rotten program and politics but the fact that they are not united. For the LFI leadership the solution is “unity of the left”: “The left is too divided – now more than ever we need unity.” (WP November 2011, Editorial: Anticapitalism hits the streets, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/11/editorial-anticapitalism-hits-the-streets)
“There are a growing number of us who think that we need a realignment on the left, we need a new perspective and a new organisation. We believe that an organisation like the NPA in France, the NAL in the Czech Republic or Antarsya in Greece is needed, one that unites people from different traditions and backgrounds in a common struggle against the government.” (WPB: Building a new Anticapitalist organisation, 23.11.2011, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/a-new-anticapitalist-organisation)
This liquidationist policy of the LFI is combined with an increasing self-criticism of their past Bolshevik tradition. The comrades believe that they followed until recently a too centralist, hard-core Bolshevik policy: “…we need to look to revive the democratic spirit of the Bolshevik tradition.” (WPB Anticapitalism 2011 discusses future of the left, 28.10.2011, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/10/anticapitalism-discusses-future-of-the-left)
“Importantly, we need to have some humility about our own tradition, modest about the forces that we can bring and determined that a new political project is genuinely the property of a new generation of activists. It has to be thoroughly democratic and avoid the bureaucratism that has undermined previous left initiatives. (…) We are not therefore saying, like many on the left still are, simply ‘join us’. (…) We can learn lessons from the international left too. In recent years the foundation of organisations like P-Sol in Brazil, the NPA in France or Antarsya in Greece show that it can be done. But in this day and age, with everything that is at stake, we have to work towards unity that can deliver victory. That means left groups should put aside narrow, organisational interests and look to the growth of the wider movement.” (WPB: We need an anticapitalist alternative, 08.11.2011, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/11/we-need-an-anticapitalist-alternative)
The complete failure of the NPA caused by the centrist character of its leading forces is totally ignored by the LFI leaders. Exactly because the centrist leaders from the Fourth International and their policy could not be removed from the NPA leadership the NPA could not realize their progressive potential which it initially had and consequently failed. To call now – after all this experiences! – for a repetition of a failure, to call for new political formations looking to the NPA as a model, without explaining that a political formation like the NAP must overcome its centrist character, must change its program, strategy and tactics to avoid bankruptcy – all this reflects that the LFI leaders are infected by the syndrome which was said about the French royal house of the Bourbons: they have nothing learned and nothing forgotten. In other words they have drawn the wrong conclusions from the experiences of the last years.
We Bolshevik-Communists say: While supporting and joining initiatives like the NAP is be absolutely justified if it corresponds to a real development in the class struggle amongst the working class vanguard, it has to be combined with a principled open stand for a revolutionary program and criticism of the centrist and reformist left. The LFI leaders today draw the opposite conclusion: Reduce the criticism, avoid class characterization of the political opponents and “unite the left”. This is called by us Marxists the program of opportunist centrism. Trotsky mocked about such centrists that they are „… creating the genial theory of unprincipled combinations and propaganda through silence.“ (Leon Trotsky: Tasks of the ICL (1934); in: Leon Trotsky, Writings Supplement 1934-40, p. 508)
This LFI’s opportunism towards centrism is related to their ignorance of the (petty-)bourgeois character of the established leadership of the labour movement. They ignore their class character and therefore believe that their wrong policy flows from the bureaucrats wrong political understanding. So when faced with the recent huge betrayal of the left trade union bureaucrats in Britain in the struggle against the pension reform the LFI leadership unbelievable explained this betrayal with their wrong policy and lack of activists support instead of pointing out the material interests as bureaucrats which hinder them to follow a consistent militant policy:
So the LFI says about the bureaucrats’ betrayal of the recent struggle against the pension reform in Britain: “This is hopelessly inadequate and flows from these left bureaucrats’ refusal to think outside the box: i.e. their refusal to break with their more conservative counterparts in Unison, the ATL, etc. Serwotka and Courtney are reformists; they argue that unity with the centre-right unions is necessary because they have no concept of mobilising the rank and file of these unions against their misleaders around a strategy that could win.” (WPB: What’s wrong with the union lefts today? http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/12/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-with-the-union-lefts-today)
“The problem is that these leaders do not have an active base of rank and file militants, who can educate, agitate and organise the members to up the ante and take the fight to the government. Therefore they are reliant on the centre-right not breaking ranks. So, despite the PCS and NUT executives both agreeing, apparently unanimously, for further strike action in January, now their leaders are talking of the same industrial strategy as Prentis and Cartmail. Both unions “have not ruled out” so-called “smart” strikes as a supplement to all-out national action, but they have not even named a date yet.” (WPB, Now we can stop the pensions robbery, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/12/now-we-can-stop-the-pensions-robbery)
Hence the LFI leadership hopes with some propaganda and pressure from below – may be with a “united reformist, centrist, ‘revolutionary’ left” which creates an “active base of rank and file militants” for these leaders – they can be won to a consistent militant class policy. And indeed this is what the LFI leadership today is hoping and preparing for today. A sad, idealist, illusion which will soon cause them a lot of problems and can only confuse revolutionary militants.
The LFI leaders make the grave mistake that they wish to overcome the crisis of leadership by opportunistically adapting towards left-reformist union bureaucrats and striving for unprincipled unity with small centrist groups in the name of “unity of the left”. They don’t care if their chosen partners – like the Permanent Revolution (PR) group – supported the chauvinistic “'British jobs for British workers'” strike at Lindsey in 2009 or that half of it which recently renounced Bolshevism under Lenin and claims that the early Soviet Union became a bureaucratic workers state not only under Stalin but already under Lenin. (The PR group seem to be a model for the LFI/WPB leadership for a “humble” approach to the tradition of Bolshevism!) Or if another hopeful partner – like the “Committee for Marxist Revival” (CMR) – openly refuses to defend Iran against a threatening imperialist attack by US/UK/Israel. Opportunist “Unity of the Left” unfortunately stand higher for the LFI leaders than the fundamental principles of authentic Marxism!
Such a unity with small centrists groups will not be a step forward because if they face any serious challenge from the class struggle they must show their true colour. If British imperialism makes sanctions against Iran or even participate in a military attack, will the new “left unity” take the only principled Marxist position and stand for the military defeat of Britain respective the military victory of Iran or will it take an ambiguous, i.e. opportunist position? If there is another uprising of the black, migrants and poor will they collectively decide not to support and join the uprising as they did in August 2011?! We have reason to fear that it is not the PR or the CMR groups which are moving to the left but rather the WPB/LFI leadership which is moving to the right.
It is about such opportunist degeneration on which the comrades should be “humble”, not the revolutionary past of the LFI! In fact the recent collapse of the LFI into opportunism makes one remind to the characterisation which Leo Jogiches, the leader of the revolutionary Social Democracy before the WWI, said about the Mensheviks – that they don’t stand, but rather lie on the view point of Marxism.
For revolutionary policy – particularly in historic periods like the present one where all class contradictions sharpen enormously – the principle of Bolshevism „state what is“ is more important than ever. We call on all revolutionary comrades in the LFI to break with their organisations political degeneration and join us to build a new, authentic revolutionary international tendency!