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International Workers League: 40 years building a world revolutionary leadership

By IWL-FI INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT

In 2022, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the International Workers League. Forty years ago, a few dozen delegates representing organizations from 16 different countries met in Bogota and decided to found an organization for the reconstruction of the Fourth International. Today, four decades later, we continue the daily struggle for the reconstruction of the Fourth International through global class struggle. The barbarism to which capitalism is leading us confirms not only that it is a possible task but also an urgent one.

Capitalism is leading humanity to decadence and destruction

Behind the mask of development and economic progress, imperialist capitalism hides a rotting system that is dragging humanity into an unprecedented abyss of barbarism. Today, 28 million children, men, and women are victims of slavery in forced labor [1]. Never in the history of humanity have so many people been enslaved.

Far from generating better living conditions for humanity, capitalism generates more and more poverty and inequality. The richest 10% concentrates 75.6% of the world’s wealth, while the bottom 50% owns only 2% of the world’s wealth [2]; by the end of 2020 it is estimated that 719 million people survive on less than $2.15 a day [3]. This leads to 828 million people suffering from hunger in the world [4] and it is estimated that probably 11 people die every minute as a result of famine [5]. Contradictorily, enough food is produced for the entire world population and 30% more.

As if that were not enough, violence against women is a real calamity. It is estimated that one in three women on the planet has experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in her life, with most of this violence being perpetrated by their partners or ex-partners [6].

Imperialist plunder and exploitation by the national bourgeoisie forces millions of people to migrate, leaving their homes, families, and roots. They expose themselves to the deadliest migration routes to the imperialist centers of Europe and the United States. This year we saw the heartbreaking scene in which 23 migrants died in a confrontation with the Moroccan police while trying to enter the Spanish state. From 2014 to June 2022, more than 48,000 migrant deaths [7] have been recorded, although it is estimated to be many more.

Capitalism also threatens the whole of humanity with its depredation of nature and its anarchic mode of production, the fundamental cause of global warming. The planet is facing an environmental catastrophe that threatens irreversible damage to the ice caps and the loss of coral reefs. This is leading to an accelerated increase in natural disasters, increasing heat waves, fires, droughts, and floods.

The recent Covid-19 pandemic exposed how capitalism is incapable of even guaranteeing survival. A pandemic that was provoked by the very depredation of nature, produced, so far, more than 6.6 million dead worldwide, a product of capitalism’s need to guarantee its profit over life. Physical isolation measures (closures or quarantines) were minimal, access to vaccines was very unequal, and the resources allocated to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and strengthen health systems were insufficient.

The need to put an end to capitalism is evident, but capitalism will not end by itself. To defeat it a world party is necessary. That is why the project of the International Workers League is today more valid than ever.

Despite capitalist restoration, the socialist revolution is still in force

The restoration of capitalism in the former USSR under the hands of the Stalinist bureaucracy, and the fact that the anti-dictatorial revolutions between 1989-1991 in the former USSR and Eastern Europe have not been able to reverse the bourgeois restoration, led most of the revolutionary vanguard to discard the idea of the struggle for workers’ power and the revolutionary road. Although the masses destroyed the Stalinist central apparatus, without a revolutionary party they were unable to reverse the process of capitalist restoration. The phenomenon of capitalist restoration had already begun in China in the ‘70s and that later took place in Cuba at the beginning of the ‘90s. Restoration demoralized a large part of the vanguard that erroneously saw in Stalinism an ally for the socialist revolution. In reality, they were and continue today to be the agents of the bourgeoisie in the mass movement.

This provoked what we call the opportunist flood, where revolutionary organizations became centrist, and the centrist ones became reformist. The IWL-FI was not immune to this pressure. It was on the verge of being dissolved in the mid 1990s. But a group of comrades continued trusting in the revolutionary solution, in the necessity and possibility of the socialist revolution. They decisively confronted this opportunist flood, which has been sweeping away almost all the left organizations, and which increasingly adapt more and more to bourgeois democracy.

The dark years of capitalist restoration did not last long, and the masses quickly demonstrated that they were willing and ready to make a revolution. The new century was inaugurated with a series of revolutionary processes: Ecuador in 2000, Argentina 2001, Venezuela 2002, Bolivia 2003 and 2005. The masses in the world have not stopped fighting, overthrowing governments and dictatorial regimes as in the Arab Spring in 2010-2011, and resisting coups d’état as in Honduras in 2009 or in Bolivia in 2019. Many more examples of revolutions and uprisings exist: Honduras in 2017, Nicaragua in 2018, Chile in 2019, USA 2020, Kazakhstan, Iran and Sri Lanka 2022, etc.

For those who think that the revolutionary struggle is over, that the class struggle is over, and all forms of “resistance” must be done within the framework of bourgeois democracy, the masses themselves took charge of showing how wrong they are. They show with tremendous force what true Leninism and Trotskyism have been putting forward for more than 100 years. The conditions for the triumph of the world socialist revolution are given; the world needs the triumph of the socialist revolution. But, for this to happen, the existence of a world party of the revolution, a revolutionary leadership, is indispensible. In 2022 we commemorate 40 years of the IWL-FI, which is part of a current with almost 80 years of struggle for the construction of the international revolutionary leadership. We fight for the world to put an end to the scourge of capitalism.

Ukraine and the world need a world revolutionary party

The heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to the Russian invasion is at the same time proof of the necessity of the world revolution, as well as of the possibility of it. In 2014, the revolutionary mobilization of the Ukrainian people overthrew the murderous, surrenderist and oligarchic government of Yanukovych; however, the absence of a revolutionary leadership made it impossible for this mobilization to advance national independence and led the Ukrainian people to a crossroads: either the Russian invasion or imperialist colonization by the European Union and the United States.

The only way out of this dilemma is the construction of a revolutionary party in Ukraine linked to a world revolutionary party. In the resistance to the Russian invasion, the masses and the working class are playing a formidable role, with the organization of the resistance and the military combat against the invader. The eventual defeat of Russia at the hands of the armed Ukrainian masses will be a blow to the imperialist control in the region. This will make imperialism’s plans of attacks on the Ukrainian working class more difficult. The eventual defeat of Russia, the aggressor, will also catalyze the class struggle in Eurasia.

This is why, from the IWL-FI, we have placed ourselves from day one on the side of the Ukrainian people. We demand the delivery, without any conditions, of heavy weapons and military technology so the Ukrainian resistance can confront the invasion and win the war. We have promoted solidarity from the workers’ organizations to strengthen this resistance without placing an iota of confidence in the bourgeois government of Zelensky. Instead, we denounce the Ukrainian government for its conciliatory tendencies and for the attacks it propitiates against the working class. However, it is not enough to defeat Russia. It is necessary to build a revolutionary party that puts itself at the service of defeating imperialism and the annexationist pretensions of Russia, carrying this struggle to the last consequences. This means that the power of the Ukrainian state must be taken by the working class. At the service of the construction of that revolutionary leadership are the efforts of the IWL-FI.

The situation in Ukraine is only the epicenter of a general crisis. Today the world is living an increasingly acute polarization. The economic crisis and the imperialist order are leading to an increase in the plunder and plundering of the peoples around the world. This discontent produces on the one hand strong mass mobilizations against the different plans to unload the crisis on the working class and its consequences. We see this today in Europe.

As part of this polarization, we see the growth of far-right movements and political parties that have gained ground at the electoral and social level. Examples of this were the elections of Trump in 2016, Bolsonaro in Brazil (2018) and his close election in 2022, Kast in 2021 (Chile), and Meloni in Italy this year. It is clear that the strengthening of the far right is no longer just a European phenomenon.

This strengthening is linked to the disillusionment of the masses with the so-called “progressive” governments of the last period, all governments with and for the bourgeoisie. The masses have been fighting constantly, but these struggles have been controlled and diverted by the different “progressive” apparatuses to the electoral route, where already in power they have implemented the same austerity plans and attacks on the working class that the previous governments had been implementing. This disillusionment leads the masses to look for other ways out, outside the “conventional,” and it is here where the extreme right’s projects are strengthened.

This is why the need to build revolutionary and socialist parties is the only way to defeat the extreme right. Even the electoral defeats suffered by the extreme right, as with Bolsonaro in Brazil, will end up strengthening the extreme right because the “progressive” governments like that of Lula are governments of the bourgeoisie. They will apply their typical agendas and will end up contributing to the disillusionment of the masses. It is becoming more and more urgent to have strong parties that fight for the consciousness of the masses. In so doing, the betrayal of the reformists is unmasked. The masses can then draw the conclusion that the only way out is the struggle against the bourgeoisie, against the reformists, against the right wing and for socialism.

A party founded on the principles of Marxism

To rebuild the Fourth International, the International Workers League is convinced that we can only do it firmly attached to Marxism—that is to say, to its principles and to the conclusions that it has drawn from the class struggle itself. This is why we fight for the reconstruction of the Fourth International under the principles of the Third International from the early years before it was usurped by Stalinism.

The IWL-FI parties are international ones. For us, the construction of our national parties is at the service and subordinated to the construction of an international, democratically centralized party. The struggle for the liberation of humanity from capitalism is impossible within the framework of national borders. Capitalism is an international economic and social system. Therefore, the struggle for socialism cannot be built on national bases. It can only be victorious by destroying capitalism throughout the world. That is why our program is international, the leadership is international, and however weak this leadership may be, it will always be superior to any national leadership.

In the service of socialist revolution, this international party can only be built on the basis of complete class independence. We understand that capitalism is the system of domination and exploitation of the working class by the bourgeoisie. The main task of the IWL is to win the working class to assume its leading role in the struggle for socialist revolution. This can only be done by educating the masses in class independence, understanding that the bourgeoisie is the enemy to be defeated and that to do so it is necessary to destroy its state and its governments. For this reason, we build our parties with complete class independence. This means complete independence from all governments.

As Engels said, paraphrasing the Indigenous Dionisio Yupanqui, “A people that oppresses another people cannot be free.” Likewise, the working class must fight against all forms of oppression, be that the oppression of women, indigenous people, LGBTQIA+s, Blacks, immigrants, etc. For the socialist revolution to triumph, the broadest unity of the class is necessary. Secondly, we must divide the middle classes and the petty bourgeoisie, winning to the revolution its most radical and impoverished sectors. This is why for the IWL-FI, the struggle against oppressions within the workers’ movement and its organizations (including within the party itself) and the struggle for the demands of the oppressed sectors are a question of principles. Only with the daily combating of oppressions and fighting for the demands of the oppressed is it possible to unify the class itself. It is the only way to win those who fight against oppressions to a socialist and revolutionary program, and to be able to divorce these activists of the bourgeois leadership who fight against oppressions in the framework of the capitalist system.

The party the IWL built is an organization for the revolutionary seizure of power. We have no illusions about bourgeois democracy. Although we participate in the elections and we can even elect deputies like comrade María Rivera in the Chilean constituent assembly, we do it not because we harbor illusions in the institutions of the bourgeoisie, but to use those posts as a revolutionary tribune to denounce how these institutions will never submit to all the demands of the working class.

But that revolutionary seizure of power requires the construction of an international party with special characteristics. In the first place, it is a party for action and a party of combat that serves for the mobilization of the masses and the confrontation with the forces of the bourgeois order. We do not build electoralist and parliamentary parties, but parties to take power and change the world. This type of party requires the most iron discipline, and joint and coordinated action, where outside the party all the militants act as one. However, to achieve this degree of centralization the broadest democracy is necessary within the organization, where the base has access to discuss and define through its bodies the fundamental policy of the party as a whole. Where the militants and leaders are subordinated to the organizations and where the party’s base democratically elects these leaders.

The road is long and difficult, but we are confident of victory

In 40 years, thousands of revolutionaries have dedicated their efforts and many have even given their lives for the IWL. We have had advances like the recent fusion in the USA, which means the incorporation of the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] tradition into the IWL ranks. But we have also had setbacks in the construction of the party. We know that the construction of the party for the world revolution is a very difficult task that will take us our whole life.

To celebrate the four decades of the IWL-FI means to vindicate its program and action. It means to commemorate the tradition of a current that passed the test of capitalist restoration and the opportunist windstorm that accompanied it, and that has militated fiercely to support the uprisings and struggles of the proletariat of the world. We know that we are still decades away from building the party that humanity needs for the triumph of the socialist revolution.

However, we are convinced that there is no other way and that there are no shortcuts. Only with daily, arduous, determined, and audacious militancy is it possible to build the party. That is why we invite all the activists who fight every day in the different areas of the social struggle to join our ranks. To combine the struggle that we already do every day in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, and in our schools with the struggle for world socialist revolution.

Capitalism is leading us to barbarism. That is why on the 40th anniversary of the IWL’s founding we say that it is necessary to destroy capitalism before it destroys us. We must replace it with a new society, a socialist world, where production is done in a planned and ordered way that guarantees the flourishing of our environment, where the wealth produced by the working class is destined to satisfy the needs of humanity as a whole and not to swell the bank accounts and satisfy the whims of a handful of billionaires, where the foundations are finally laid for a world free of exploitation and oppression, and where we are “socially equal, humanly different and totally free.”

Notes:

[1] https://news.un.org/es/story/2022/09/1514261

[2] World Inequality Report 2022, World Inequality Lab. https://wir2022.wid.world/www-site/uploads/2021/12/WorldInequalityReport2022_Full_Report.pdf

[3] https://www.bancomundial.org/es/news/press-release/2022/10/05/global-progress-in-reducing-extreme-poverty-grinds-to-a-halt

[4] https://www.unicef.es/noticia/las-cifras-del-hambre-en-el-mundo

[5] https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/six-fold-increase-people-suffering-famine-conditions-pandemic-began

[6] https://www.unwomen.org/es/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures

[7] https://www.migrationdataportal.org/es/themes/muertes-y-desapariciones-de-migrantes#:~:text=Desde%202014%2C%20se%20han%20registrado,el%20mundo%20no%20se%20registran.

 

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