at the REVOLUTION UK National Conference
Welcome to the conference! If you’re reading this, you might not even realize that you are an Independent. As part of REVOLUTION, you signed up for an “independent socialist youth organization” – so isn’t everyone here an Independent? Not quite.
About three fourths of the active membership of Revo, and the entire leadership, are part of another organization called Workers Power (WP) / the League for the Fifth International (LFI). This is rarely mentioned – just search for a link to the LFI at www.worldrevolution.org.uk! – but the LFI determines Revo’s politics and structures.
It works like this: The LFI leadership decides on a document for Revo, for example a group constitution, a perspectives document or a political statement. All the LFI members in Revo are then obliged to support this document. Given that the LFI faction has an absolute majority in Revo’s structures, these “suggestions” are always “accepted”.
Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? But does it really work like this?!?
Turkey’s national clown, Mullah Nasruddin, was asked by his neighbors why a pot he had borrowed was returned with a big dent in it. He answered: “Firstly, I didn’t borrow a pot. Secondly, I returned it undamaged. Thirdly, it was dented when I borrowed it.” The lesson of this story is that if you lie to your neighbors, you should come up with one consistent lie and stick to it.
When we criticized the LFI deciding everything for Revo, their members replied: “Firstly, we don’t decide anything beforehand because that would be youth oppression. Secondly, we’re proud to decide everything beforehand because that’s Bolshevism. Thirdly, we’re not going to say anything about this because it’s not a political question.”
Of course, we’re summarizing. At the beginning, the LFI members denied their practice categorically, and in doing so provided excellent arguments against their practice.
For example: “It would be quite wrong if the League decided a line on each and every political, tactical and organisational question within Revolution and its members turned up to Revolution meetings and block voted en masse to drive through a policy. This would de facto constitute tutelage and a youth oppressive approach to the party-youth organisation relation.” (An LFI member)
Or: “A basic principle of the LFI is to leave decisions to young people so they can take on the responsibility and learn from their mistakes.” (Another LFI member)
They agreed with Tim Wohlforth, an American Trotskyist youth leader from the 1950’s, who said: “No young person in his right mind (and these are the only young people we want) would join a youth group if its policies were determined by a caucus composed of members of an adult party.”
Then the LFI split. Their internal documents were made available, and these proved beyond all doubt that the LFI faction was working out all important decisions beforehand – at the exact same time they were writing their denials! So before the last international conference even opened, all the documents had been worked out by the LFI leadership – which made the whole conference rather pointless.
When confronted with the evidence they had been lying, the LFI’lers immediately switched from shameless denials (“nothing is decided beforehand”) to even more shameless grandstanding (“I’m proud to be in a Bolshevik organization that decides things beforehand”). To this day, they have not even attempted to explain how both statements could be true.
So who are we? We are “Stalinists”, “Anarchists”, “Dictators”, “Autonomists”, “Maximalists” and “Economists” who act “just like the Nazis”, to name just a few of the epithets LFI members have used to describe us. In short, we are iREVOLUTION.
At the REVOLUTION international conference last summer, all non-LFI delegates (a minority) protested against the LFI’s practice. After this we formed a tendency, including all Revo groups not directly under the LFI’s control, to fight to make Revo a truly independent youth organization, as our manifesto calls for. For this reason we were thrown out.
The LFI has desperately sought a “political” explanation for what happened, one that doesn’t involve their practice in Revo. A few examples:
- “iRevo is against campaigning” – oh wait, here’s an iRevo activist speaking in front of 10,000 striking school students …
- “Ok, well, iRevo opposes democratic centralism” – oh, no, here’s a text from iRevo titled “why we support democratic centralism” …
- “Hmmm, then, iRevo doesn’t accept majority decisions!” But it’s an established fact that majority decisions of a Revo conference (supposedly our highest body) can be and have been reversed by the LFI leadership. And we don’t accept LFI decisions – because we’re not members of the LFI, but members of an independent youth organization.
- One LFI member recently tried to explain it as follows: “The question was whether an international leadership was above the sections.” Here we get closer to the truth. We were very much in favor of an international conference as the highest body of our organization. For this reason, we were against the fact that the LFI’s “International Secretariat” worked out the decisions of the conference beforehand – and “corrected” any decisions it hadn’t anticipated.
What has happened since the split? The LFI told us we would fall apart within months without their guidance. They were mistaken.
In Germany, we have set up our fourth branch, in Plauen. Our Wolfsburg branch has made inroads into the VW automobile factory – the first Revo group we have ever heard of to recruit young workers in factories. At the Luxemburg-Liebknecht-Lenin-Demo, we had a contingent with 40 Revos from across Germany.
In Switzerland, we have set up our second branch, in Bern. At a demonstration against the WEF in St. Gallen, there were 20 Revos and we held one of the keynote speeches in front of over 300 demonstrators.
In the Czech Republic, we have been active in the movement against US military bases in Eastern Europe and have been winning new members and sympathizers for the independent Revo group.
In Australia, the Revo group intervened in the protests against the G20 and fights in the campaign for women’s reproductive rights. – not bad for a group that, according to the LFI, doesn’t even exist!
Make no mistake – it is not easy. We have no money, no full-timers, no infrastructure, not even many comrades with more than five years of political experience. But we have the enthusiasm, the courage, the inventiveness of youth.
The young activists of the iREVOLUTION tendency are doing what the LFI has always told us is essentially impossible: building up their own revolutionary communist youth groups without paternalistic guidance from outside. We have been surprised ourselves at the successes we’ve had since abandoning the bureaucratic “support” of the LFI. When young activists are responsible for their own organization – and realize that no one else will run it for them – an incredible dynamic emerges.
So, back to the Mullah. A neighbor came by and asked if he could borrow Nasruddin’s donkey. He answered, “I’m sorry, I’ve already lent it to someone else.” At that moment, the donkey began braying loudly from the courtyard. The neighbor exclaimed, “You lied to me, Mullah!” But Nasruddin held his ground: “Who are you going to believe: me, or a donkey?”
The LFI’lers will likely present a few of their many contradictory explanations for what happened, and surely be indignant that we expose their contradictions. Please don’t believe us. Read the LFI’s documents yourselves and try to piece that together with their claims that “nothing is decided beforehand” and “there are no LFI instructions.” They can stand there, full of self-righteousness, and ask: “Who are you going to believe? Us, or our own documents?”
We could go on and on (and on and on and on) about lies, theft, physical threats, and more by the LFI. But we’re willing to put that all behind us, because we’re still in favour of the unity of revolutionary youth around the world. We only ever raised one demand, and we will repeat it here:
The LFI must stop working as a faction in Revo. Alternatively, they could accept our old proposal for a compromise: If they limit themselves to a minority in all leading bodies of Revo and have a minority faction, we can work together in a single international leadership body. But the majority faction they currently maintain, which leads to tutelage of the youth, is unacceptable. We are for unity, but it must be on the basis of Revo’s manifesto, which says: “an international revolutionary youth movement … must have complete organisational and political independence, deciding on its own activity and policies.” But how can we speak of an independent organization when not just a majority but 100% of the members of the international leadership of Revo are in the LFI?
If the LFI never decides anything beforehand, as they used to claim, then the struggle of the past year has all been a big misunderstanding and we can reunite immediately. If the LFI does decide everything beforehand, as their documents show, then we would at least like an explanation.
So, Indpendents in Revo, what can you do? Just ask questions:
- Who wrote Revo’s international constitution? Who wrote the perspectives document?
- Why can’t there be a clear majority of Independents on all leading bodies of REVOLUTION?
- What did the Workers Power members decide on before this conference? Due to their absolute majority, their decisions are automatically binding for you. It is the most elementary form of democracy for you to know how these decisions are made.
So ask questions. The bad news is that people who ask questions in Revo end up outside the organization surprisingly quickly. The good news is that the international, independent, revolutionary communist youth organization REVOLUTION is growing outside of the LFI-controlled structures.
We wish you success at your conference in building up an independent communist youth organization and send warm revolutionary greetings,
Jalava, for the iREVOLUTION Coordination
You can read lots of documents (including the LFI’s secret documents) at our website: www.revolution.int.tf