- What is the IWL-FI?
- Our Sister Organizations All Over the World
- How Does the IWL-FI Function?
- Our Approach to Organizational Regroupment
What is the IWL-FI?
The International Workers League is an international revolutionary socialist organization founded in 1982. It comes from the tradition of Trotskyism, and was primarily composed of the former Latin American sections of the Fourth International, which had significant working class bases, as well as splits of the former U.S. and European sections. Since then, the IWL-FI has grown considerably both in terms of its membership and its political power. We have learned from our past successes and failures. We don’t pretend to be an international party that “always got everything right”, and we hardly consider ourselves to be the only “true revolutionaries”. We openly and publicly recognize and assess our mistakes and draw lessons from them to further improve our political work.
Our international focus is on building parties in the working class, especially in its most exploited and oppressed sectors, in order to build class power from below. One of the central projects of the IWL-FI has been the development of an independent and democratic labor federation in Brazil, home to the IWL-FI’s largest section, with the hope it will help to build similar and coordinated class struggle formations worldwide. The CSP-Conlutas, which was created out of mass wildcat strikes in 2006 today has a federated membership of around 4 million workers. In our view it is one of the most advanced expressions of class struggle in existence, a new model of social justice and democratic, rank and file unionism. The CSP-Conlutas model is focused on mass struggle and most critically, it integrates the struggle against oppression with the labor struggle and has significant participation from social movements (homeless movements, landless peasant movements, student unions etc) alongside more traditional union organizations.
CSP-Conlutas together with French independent union SUD-Solidaires, which was similarly created in 1995 out of a massive wave of rail workers strikes, launched the International Network of Solidarity and Struggle (INSS) which connects local unions and independent labor federations from around the world to develop this alternative form of unionism on a global scale. The INSS has partners in many Latin American countries and Europe, has conducted many solidarity campaigns and participates regularly in the Labor Notes conference in the United States.
Our understanding of Marxism is that it is a living theory that needs to be continuously updated. Our theory and program need to be constantly examined critically and readjusted in the face of major changes unfolding in the world. Yet the elaboration of Marxist theory, even though it requires time and resources, cannot occur in a vacuum disconnected from struggles. Many academics and some propagandist tendencies focus on developing a thorough and detailed theory first in order to intervene in struggles later. In our view, the only way to test our program and to adjust our analysis is to do it within a party that is rooted in the actual struggles of our class, engaged in the incremental struggles to win better living conditions for us all. This relationship between theory and practice, an intentional dialectic between theory and collective action, is a core principle of the IWL-FI.
The new wave of mass working class women’s struggles which started in Argentina in 2016 with the Ni Una Menos mobilizations has changed the political landscape of our class. We see these mobilizations as an integral part of the class struggle, and as a possible catalyzer for a larger class fight back against capitalism and environmental destruction. The new wave of women’s movements has organized general strikes from below in many countries and has renewed the working class’s awareness of the general strike as a successful political tactic. As active participants of these struggles, we have further argued that the fight against women’s oppression is not only a top priority, but that it is necessary to mobilize the entire working class as a whole in this struggle. Working class organizations need to actively fight against sexism in their own ranks and in society at large. The fights for women’s liberation and socialism are intertwined, neither is possible without the other.
Another difference between the IWL-FI and the rest of the Trotskyist left in the United States has to do with the question of internationalism. While most Left/Trotskyist groups profess to be internationalists in abstract, many such groups argue that in the U.S. we need to build first a national party and then, in an indefinite future, an international party. We instead argue that it is necessary to build the international and national parties simultaneously. Particularly in imperialist countries, it is considerably harder to build a revolutionary socialist party without engaging in a constant dialogue with our international comrades. Such international connections provide a counterweight to the nationalist status quo in this country’s political discourse, and ensure that we don’t deviate toward endorsing imperialist positions in an attempt to opportunistically appeal to broader layers of workers without first winning them to our political program. Our international connections are also an asset when relating to the significant proportion of immigrants in the U.S. proletariat.
Building a truly international revolutionary organization is a daunting task, but we are building on more than a century of traditions of international organizing under far worse conditions than today, without nearly as many resources for international communication. Our international organization needs to walk the tightrope between becoming a space dedicated to “check-ins” and “report-backs” without true political deliberation and decision-making on one side, and becoming dominated by the largest national sections or “mother parties”.
For more on the history of the IWL-FI see here.
Our Sister Organizations All Over the World
Our international is today present in 23 countries. We have official national sections in 13 countries and sympathizing sections in 10 additional ones. The main difference between officials and sympathizers is the size and political development of our parties, for we have some basic criteria for our parties to become official sections. Our party in the U.S, Workers’ Voice, is currently working to become an official section. The IWL-FI is also developing political relations with revolutionaries in France, India and Pakistan.
Official IWL-FI Sections:
Argentina: Partido Socialista Unificado de los Trabajadores
Brasil: Partido Socialista Unificado de los Trabalhadores
Chile: Movimiento Internacional de los Trabajadores
Colombia: Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores
Costa Rica: Partido de los Trabajadores
El Salvador: Unidad Socialista de los Trabajadores
Honduras: Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores
Italia: Partito di Alternativa Comunista
Paraguay: Partido de los Trabajadores
Perú: Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores
Portugal: Em Luta
Spanish State: Corriente Roja
Sympathizing IWL-FI Sections:
Belgium: Ligue Communiste des Travailleurs
Bolivia: Grupo de Lucha Socialista
Mexico: Corriente Socialista de los Trabajadores & Grupo Obrero Socialista
Ecuador: Movimiento al Socialismo
Panamá: Liga de Trabajadores Socialistas
Russia: Internationalist Workers Party (POI)
Senegal: Ligue Populaire Sénégalaise
Turkey: RED Movement
U.K.: International Socialist League
United States: Workers’ Voice & Corriente Obrera
Uruguay: Izquierda Socialista de los Trabajadores
Venezuela : Unión Socialista de los Trabajadores
How Does the IWL-FI Function?
The IWL-FI is an international party composed of national sections, and today it is present in 23 countries. It is more than simply a “network” of national parties, and functions as a democratic centralist organization across its sections. This model of organization follows in the footsteps of the first years of the Third International, as well as the original Fourth International founded by Trotsky.
This means that we have two layers of democratic discussion, deliberation and decision-making, a national and an international one. Like our national sections, our international has regular and frequent international congresses, preceded by internal debates in the pre-congress periods. All national sections, including our party in the US, send delegates to the world congresses and actively participate in democratic debate to determine the party’s policies and strategies. The world congresses vote on political resolutions, and also elect representatives to an executive committee to direct the party until the next congress. This committee is expected to include representation from each of the national parties, as well as having representatives of political tendencies within the organization.
about our overarching political program, our organizational model are decided at the international level, as are our responses to international crises. All other decisions about the day to day activities and positions of sections of the international are decided at the national or local levels. National sections have a significant amount of autonomy, but are nevertheless expected to actively engage in political dialogue with sections in other countries, even for decisions that will ultimately be made at a national level.
All our national sections have their regular press, their website, and some have theoretical journals. Our international also has its tools of communication and dissemination of political ideas: a biweekly video program (Marxism Alive), a regular political publication (International Courier), a shared theoretical journal in Spanish (Marxismo Vivo), and a digital archive of the Trotskyist movement in Latin America, the Leon Trotsky Archive.
Our Approach to Organizational Regroupment
At this time, Workers’ Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores is a small fraction of the size that we hope to one day become, and even the IWL-FI’s largest sections still have significant room to grow. While we are active in the process of recruiting new members to our party, we also recognize that our path to a socialist revolution will likely involve mergers with like-minded revolutionary organizations. We are open to regrouping together with organizations that agree with us on the following points:
- A revolutionary break with capitalism is necessary in order to establish socialism.
- A revolutionary working class party is necessary to prepare for and win a revolution. Such a party should practice democratic centralism internally, and should primarily be composed of cadre, socialist militants actively intervening in the working class.
- It is necessary to express international solidarity on a class basis, forming bonds of solidarity with the working class around the world to fight against imperialist aggression and exploitation in all its forms
- Socialism must be won through a permanent revolution; we do not insist on the stagist view that underdeveloped regions must first develop capitalism in order to pass on to socialism. Rather, we need to combine the struggle for the expansion of democratic freedoms together with the fight for socialism at once.
- We need to have a critical approach to bourgeois-republican elections. While we do not renounce the idea of engaging in bourgeois electoral democracy as a rule, we consider it to be of secondary importance compared to the consolidation of working class power outside of bourgeois institutions. Engaging in elections is a tactic that we use in order to further build independent working class power and reveal the contradictions of reformist politics, rather than an end in itself.
- We need to proactively fight against all forms of oppression, including but not limited to racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
- We need to differentiate ourselves from the vision of socialism advocated by left-populist/nationalist or popular front movements and governments such as those that either are currently or have recently been in power in Venezuela (Maduro/Chavismo), Argentina (Kirchner/Peronism), Brazil (Lula/PT), Greece (Tsipras/Syriza), Bolivia (Morales/MAS), Mexico (AMLO/Morena) or Syria (Assad/Ba’athism). We can never give political support to governments that continue to attack workers by implementing neoliberal reforms, repressing workers’ organizations, and maintaining the capitalist system of exploitation.
- We need to differentiate ourselves and our vision from the bureaucratic socialist regimes of China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba, as well as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. These countries today operate as capitalist dictatorships that lack internal democracy. The model of “socialism in one country” and the one-party state must be rejected.
We consider any individual or organization that operates on the above principles to be our comrade, and are actively interested in organizing more closely alongside any such groups.