National Sections of the L5I:

May Day Greetings

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May Day Greetings to all our comrades and readers and to all those fighting exploitation and oppression around the world!

May Day 2018 dawns on a world increasingly dominated by the rivalry and conflicts of the major imperialist powers. In a bid to halt the relative decline of the United States, Donald Trump's "America First" strategy has already raised the prospect of a trade war with China and the EU while his provocative statements on the Middle East have encouraged his regional gendarmes, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to intensify their own barbaric attacks on the Palestinians and the people of Yemen.

At the same time, and in the same arena, Putin's Russia has re-asserted itself as a global power by mobilising its military might to suppress the Syrian Revolution and maintain Assad's dictatorship at whatever cost in terms of destruction of whole cities and the displacement of millions.

Meanwhile, the most dynamic challenger to US might, China, has not only launched an economic programme designed to give Beijing dominance over the Eurasian landmass but has unveiled the new military technology designed to maintain that dominance.

Despite German and French aspirations to unite it as a single imperialist power, the EU remains hobbled by its disunity and faces not only its global rivals but the internal demons of chauvinism and racism, driven on by increasing inequality not only between its component states but also within them.

The struggle for the redivision of the world does not only pit the imperialist powers against each other – it also encourages aggression and adventures by regional powers such as Turkey and Iran in Syria or in the divisions between India and Pakistan.

Militarisation and the struggle for the re-division of the world go hand in hand with the rise of more aggressive and nationalist forces and a strengthening of authoritarian, bonapartist or even dictatorial forms of rule. This is true not only in states where democratic rights have not yet been won, such as China and Saudi Arabia, but also those with at least a semblance of a democratic constitution such as Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Poland, Hungary and Brazil.

In Europe, the so-called "refugee crisis" has not only led to the rise of far-right and even fascist forces, but also to the imposition of harsher institutional measures such as camps to “concentrate” the refugees on the outer borders or in the border states. Nor is this increasingly virulent racism restricted to Europe, it is also to be seen in the Americas, in Russia and in South Asia where we have seen racist and even fascistic attacks on national and religious minorities by Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic chauvinists in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.

Such a wave of reaction inevitably strengthens the oldest and most entrenched of all social oppressions, that of women. Women are subject both to the increased burden of low paid, precarious work in the factories, offices and fields and to that of private domestic labour, caring for the young and the old. Women's oppression also takes the form of a massive increase of harassment, violence, including gang rape, femicide on a mass scale and attacks on achieved rights, like the right to abortion. Equally, lesbian, gay and trans people are subject to social oppression and, in many countries, legal discrimination and even open violence.

Young people, too, are particularly hard hit by the capitalist restructuring of the global economy, suffering low wages, discrimination and denial of educational and cultural advance. They are also the cannon fodder in reactionary wars and in future open military conflicts.

Even in the current period of moderate growth in the global economy, there has been little improvement in the conditions of the working class. True, in some, economically more competitive, countries, particular sections of workers, normally the more labour aristocratic sections, have been able to make gains, but these are far from compensating for past losses and, more importantly, they are the exceptions.

For the great majority of workers, capitalism offers little room for improvement in a period of over-accumulation of capital and declining rates of profit. Increased competition does not only go hand in hand with increased rivalry between the imperialist powers and super-exploitation of the semi-colonies, but also with increased competition on the labour market. Contract systems, precarious, uncertain and underwaged contracts are the norm for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of working class people.

From resistance to a political response

The global offensive against the masses and the working classes, however, has also led to mass movements of resistance. In Brazil, the bourgeoisie has failed till now to complete and stabilise its judicial coup. Millions on the streets have shown that they want to fight back. We have also seen the determination of the people to fight back elsewhere in Latin America, for example, against the labour reforms in Argentina. Despite the crisis of Bolivarianism, the US and its allies have failed till now to overthrow the Venezuelan regime.

In the US itself, we have seen a number of impressive struggles by workers, Blacks and women against Trump and also the rise of the Democratic Socialists, DSA, which demonstrates the real possibility of forming a new working class party independent of the Democrats, despite the reformist leadership of the DSA and its wavering.

In Europe, the French workers, after having suffered a defeat in the first round of attacks from the new government of Emmanual Macron, have shown their strength by mass strikes on the railways and at airports and this has encouraged the students to join in. In Spain, millions rose against Rajoy's attack on the rights of the Catalan people and more than 5 million, men and women, joined in the strike for women’s rights, showing the potential for a working class women’s movement, not only in Spain, but globally. This was also evidenced by other mass mobilisations on International Women’s Day and in defence of women’s rights in countries as diverse as the US and Poland.

In Germany, the mobilisation of 70,000 against the G20, despite a virtual state of emergency in Hamburg, showed that even in the heart of the European imperial beast, resistance is possible.

In India, we have seen the biggest one day general strikes in history in 2016 and 2017 with between 150 and 200 million participants. In China, the largest working class on the planet is engaged in the most labour disputes, despite the dictatorial conditions in which it is forced to work. We have seen the rise of an impressive movement in Iran as well as the recent awakening of the Pashtun defence movement in Pakistan and the continued resistance of the Kurdish masses against Erdogan, both in Turkey and against his invasion in Syria.

To this we have to add the struggles of peasants and rural workers as well as the struggles over environmental issues. They all testify to the need to challenge capitalism, whose destructive nature will always threaten to undermine and destroy the fundamental sources of society's wealth; the natural environment and human labour.

So, there is resistance around the globe, but the struggles of recent years have also raised the question time and time again; why did such impressive uprisings as the Arab Spring or the general strikes in Greece fail to achieve their goals, why did they give way to the rise of different forms of counterrevolution?

This can only be answered by examining the organisations, programmes and politics of our own class. Despite millions and millions of workers being engaged in the struggle, the working class was not able to give leadership and to link all those struggles to the overthrow of capitalism, the creation of workers' or workers' and peasants' governments which would open the way to a socialist transformation of society and actively spread the revolution globally.

The working class organisations have proved themselves unfit for the task of giving such a leadership, because the mass working class parties are reformist parties, led and controlled by a bureaucracy which has tied them to the capitalist system, even if it needs to portray itself as working class, popular, left and progressive. Not only the bourgeois workers' parties, such as Social Democracy or the PT have proved this, but even more so the left-populist parties like the Venezuelan PSUV, which set itself the utopian project of establishing a “socialism” which would satisfy both the masses and “patriotic” capital. Even the more left wing reformist parties like Syriza or the European Left parties have failed.

As we can observe in the Labour Party in Britain or in the DSA in the US, the masses may still push such parties to the left and try to make them tools for their own liberation. In such cases, revolutionaries have to work in those parties in order to help the workers to fight the right wing and to win them to revolutionary politics. Whilst they need to defend leaders like Corbyn against the right wing (and against the slanders from the bourgeoisie), they also need to warn against their inevitable wavering.

The same applies to more left wing projects such as the Awami Workers' Party, AWP, in Pakistan or the New Anticapitalist Party, NPA, in France. Such organisations could serve as a means to rally working class people to a new mass party or to bring forward revolutionary unification but only if revolutionaries fight for them to be built on a revolutionary programme, based on an active, fighting and politically conscious membership. Otherwise, they threaten to end up in reformism as has AWP or as a centrist organisation like the NPA.

Whatever the tactics of small revolutionary nuclei – the ultimate goal must be the creation of a revolutionary party and international, a new Fifth International.

We, the League for the Fifth International, have set out to fight for such a party. We do not claim that we are already the “new international”, and we certainly do not counterpose building our own sections to working and participating in mass organisation. Quite the opposite. Revolutionaries need to engage in ongoing struggles. In the workplaces, we need to fight for unionisation and rank and file control of the trade union structures.

In most sectors and countries, the workers are not unionised at all. Where only small unions exist, we need to fight for their unification on a democratic and class struggle basis on the principle one branch of the economy, one union. Where mass trade unions are already established, we need to work in them, fight to break the rule of the bureaucracy and replace it with a leadership accountable to the members. The creation of a rank and file movement is an indispensable instrument for this.

We need to engage in the movements against women's oppression, fighting for a working class women’s movement and in the struggle against racism and fascism, against attacks on social and democratic rights, against militarism and war, against austerity, against unemployed and labour rights. We advocate the broadest unity of the working class and oppressed, we call on all working class organisations, including the reformist ones, to break with the bourgeoisie and their policy of class collaboration and to unite against the common enemy.

Youth are not only hit particularly hard by the current attacks, they are often also the most dynamic and courageous fighters. At the same time, they are subject to oppression not only at school or at work, but also in the family. We therefore call for the creation of an independent revolutionary youth movement and work closely with the youth organisation REVOLUTION to achieve that aim.

Revolutionary intervention does not only mean to engage in struggles. It also means to link them to the strategic goal of overthrowing capitalism. Struggles like the mobilisations in Brazil against the coup, whilst they might start as a united front for democratic rights, will raise the need to mobilise for a general strike, the need for self-defence, the need to overthrow the capitalist class, break up the bourgeois state and replace it by a workers' government based on councils and armed militia. They will raise the need for a decisive struggle to be conducted to the end, or the momentum, and eventually the struggle, will be lost to the forces of counterrevolution.

In short, we live in period where, in historic terms, the alternative is posed once again: Socialism or barbarism; a world of war, exploitation, racism and oppression or a world, free of exploitation and oppression.