National Sections of the L5I:

Preface

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Over the last five years, around the world, a mass movement has emerged which once again names capitalism as the principal obstacle to human freedom and prosperity. This movement, variously described as ’anti-corporate’, ’anti-globalisation’ and ’anti-capitalist’, has, to some extent, agreed what it is against. What the movement does not agree on, as supporters of the current order never fail to point out, is what it is for.

At the same time, in a number of countries, sections of the working class movement have begun to question the right wing reformist leaders who have dominated the “socialist", “communist” and “labour” parties for so long. Many of these parties moved far to the right in the 1990s, renouncing any identification with the working class or any aspiration to transcend capitalism. They pushed privatisation and supported globalisation. Today they either support George Bush’s War on Terrorism or criticise it only in the mildest way.

The time is ripe for the militant mass organisations of the working class and the radicalised youth to unite in action and to determine - in open and democratic debate - a new strategy for this movement.

And that is why this document was written.

While no programme is ever final, complete, finished or settled, we believe that the measures it sets out, if adopted, would abolish capitalism altogether.

It is fashionable today to describe claims like these as arrogant or doctrinaire. The idea is that anyone bold enough to write a guide to action to an entire international movement is either self-deluded or cynically manipulative.

But these arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. In every other sphere of activity, it is perfectly normal to write down the lessons learnt so far and to codify the best way to proceed. So why should the greatest endeavour of all - the struggle for socialism - be treated any differently? Behind the notion that revolutionary change is too complex to be codified lies a deep-seated prejudice which is systematically encouraged by the exploiters - that the project of global change is too demanding for the subordinate classes to carry it out. Best not to try.

At the same time, of course, reformists, parliamentarians, gradualists, anarchists and liberals have had no qualms in pressing forward with their own programmes for the new movement. Though they vary widely, all are agreed on one thing: the working class must not organise itself with the aim of taking power.

This programme takes the opposite view - that the conquest of power by the working class is desirable, possible and the precondition for the elimination of capitalism. We have prepared it and published it with the express aim of convincing as many people as possible to support and promote it, as an alternative both to the movement’s current inchoate melange of aims and to the reformist programmes which, if adopted, would mean nothing less than prostration before the bourgeois order.

We appeal to activists and organisations within the working class, anti-capitalist, youth and peasant movements to consider this programme and, where necessary, to propose changes and amendments to it. The organisation that is publishing the programme, the League for the Fifth International, adopted it at its Congress in 2003. Doubtless there are many areas that need expansion. As a tendency based mainly in Europe, we recognise that we may have failed to reflect or address experiences elsewhere. If there are errors within it, we pledge ourselves to correct them. We believe that if agreement can be reached between groupings on the basis of a common programme, they should fuse their forces and strengthen revolutionary organisation globally, through the foundation of a new global party of social revolution.

Richard Brenner, Dave Stockton
October 2003