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Newsletter (in English)

LFI keeps expelling…

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| Categories: Struggle for independence

The League for the Fifth International (LFI) keeps expelling activists from its youth group REVOLUTION

The independent youth organization REVOLUTION was formed when the LFI expelled a large part of its youth group, which had also been called REVOLUTION. Here we reproduce a statement protesting against further expulsions from the LFI’s youth group. We apologize that the identical names are confusing, but as the statement shows, the LFI’s youth group is in the process of disappearing.

The League for the Fifth International (LFI) continues to expel members from its youth group REVOLUTION. In October 2006, the Revo groups in Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Australia were expelled by the LFI. Now, in February 2008, a young activist has been expelled from the British Revo group.

You might know this activist as the young woman with the megaphone and the hammer and sickle t-shirt who can be seen on numerous advertisements from Revo. Well, she’s out.

The official reason…

… is hard to believe. The young woman is running for a position in the National Union of Students (NUS) as part of the platform “Education Not for Sale”, which is supported by the  group “Alliance for Workers’ Liberty” amongst others. The official reason for the expulsion is that she is not running on “Revo’s agreed platform in the student movement”.

But this is a strange accusation. The LFI/Revo doesn’t work in the NUS – in fact the last article on their web site about their work in the NUS is three years old! More importantly, they make no attempt to explain how the young woman’s platform is opposed to Revo’s politics. In fact, in the last issue of their youth paper, they write: “fighting within the NUS [can] be a stepping stone to building a movement and, for that matter, a real, fighting students organisation. We need to get as many people opposed to the governance review delegated to the NUS conference.”

So they are calling on the activist in question to represent some “Revo platform” which doesn’t exist. They add that “she never once brought a proposal on NUS work to the Revo NC”. But they never made a proposal to her about how she was supposed to work in the NUS. The entire “discussion” with her consisted in the expulsion – without informing her beforehand that an expulsion was to be discussed or giving her any opportunity to defend herself!

Do LFI members in Revo (and, of course, LFI members well over 40 can still be official members of Revo) discuss their trade union work with the Revo NC? Have they ever been expelled for trade union work that wasn’t explicitly approved to by the Revo leadership?

This decision implies that it is impossible to work together with the AWL at all. We have serious disagreements with the AWL about Iraq, Palestine, and anti-imperialist resistance in general. But the activist in question has in no way committed herself to any positions of the AWL – she is well known as a vocal supporter of Palestine solidarity. We believe that revolutionaries can work together with ENS and even the AWL on the basis of an oppositional platform in a trade union. If the LFI disagrees, why did they run a joint campaign, “No Sweat”, for several years with the AWL?

To add insult to injury, the LFI claims that the comrade in question has never raised political disagreements with the LFI leadership of Revo. That’s a particularly lazy slander, since more than a year ago she and other independent Revo members presented documents questioning the expulsion of four of Revo’s national sections and the bureaucratic rule of the LFI over Revo. (Parts of these documents can be read in our pamphlet “Declarations of Independence”.) They demanded a discussion on this question within Revo, but this was rejected by the LFI majority faction without any explanation.

A thinking person might ask: They’re expelling her? For that? But of course that’s not the real reason for the expulsion.

The real reason…

… is revealed by a glance at the internal documents of the LFI. The expulsion had been planned for more than half a year, i.e. since before anyone was running in the NUS election.

A number of independent Revo members in the British group (in fact, all of the indys that participated in the group’s structures) were bothered by the LFI’s bureaucratic control over their formally independent youth organization. They came into contact with the “Independent Revo” tendency, which all non-LFI members active in Revo had organized to fight for a genuinely independent youth organization. This tendency was expelled by the LFI shortly after its formation, but continued to be active as REVOLUTION. The independent Revo members in Britain made no secret of their sympathy for the expelled tendency, for example attending the international REVOCAMP in the Czech Republic.

For this political opposition, a young activist has been subjected to continuous psychological and even physical abuse. In the past, independent Revo members have been subject to threats of physical violence and even legal suits by LFI members. But this young woman was physically attacked by an LFI member at their summer camp, shoved to the ground for disagreeing with the LFI’s stalinoid concept of democratic centralism.

LFI members recruit to their so-called “cadre organisation” with lots of peer pressure, including offers at social events like: “I’ll give you beer all weekend if you join Workers Power”. Since this a “revolutionary group” is built up as a clique of friends, of course the opposite has to be true as well. This young woman was threatened: “If you leave the group, you won’t have any friends, and no one will talk to you.” All we can answer is that we, perhaps in contrast to the LFI members, didn’t get into revolutionary politics to make friends or get free beer.

But it seems that this model of a “revolutionary circle of friends” isn’t working so well. The LFI’s official documents admit that their British group, since the founding of Workers Power in 1975, has never had a lower number of members.

The way Revo works…

…is where we can find an explanation for this disturbing, cult-like behavior. REVOLUTION is officially an independent youth organization, but in reality it is nothing more than a bureaucratic youth front for the LFI. That sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But all decisions of Revo – without exception – are made by the LFI leadership.

The typical counter-argument by LFI members is that their youth group has its own conferences and structures. But these conferences are packed with 50% or more LFI members, and the LFI members get a document pack the week before containing all the decisions they have to vote for. If there were any doubts about this practice (and the LFI did used to deny it!), we have published a number of the LFI’s secret internal documents and can gladly provide anyone interested with hundreds of pages more.

The most extreme examples of this bureaucratism are the international congresses of Revo, of which there have been two so far. Both these congresses were made up of of 75% LFI members, and both times the LFI members received all the documents they would be required to vote for from the LFI’s “International Secretariat” (IS). The 25% of independent members could agree, or disagree, but naturally it didn’t matter much.

After two conferences, there has not been one document passed which wasn’t written and decided on beforehand by the LFI leadership. Accordingly, there has not been even one minute of discussion about these documents amongst the basis of the organization. To this day, the LFI has provided no real explanation to the independent members of their youth group for the expulsion of four whole Revo groups – some LFI members have gone so far as to claim there was no expulsion at all, and that all these groups left voluntarily because they were all anarchists!

The young woman just expelled had participated in Revo’s structures – or rather, she had tried to. There’s not much to do in structures that can only rubber stamp decisions made by the LFI’s leadership behind the scenes.

For example, for the “joint summer camp of Workers Power and REVOLUTION”, a planning committee of two LFI members and one independent was set up. But in the end, the LFI leadership decided on the camp program itself, and the one independent Revo member who was nominally responsible arrived at the camp to find the timetable had been changed completely without even informing her. At the G8 protests, a “Revo leadership” made up of four LFI members actually prohibited the Revo members from voting to make a decision! The fact that this leadership made terrible decisions – for example boycotting the successful blockades with more than ten thousand activists in order to go to a failed “blockade” with less than one hundred – is a direct result of the complete lack of democracy.

The young woman just expelled had also been one of the 25% of independents at one of Revo’s international congresses. In fact, she was the last independent Revo member who had been to one of Revo’s international conferences and hadn’t yet been expelled! The LFI’s leadership works so hard to stage a show that looks like democratic conference, writing the script, preparing the actors, applauding afterwards etc. But it’s clear that the “audience” – i.e. the independent members of Revo who don’t get to read the script – aren’t buying it.

This latest expulsion has been no exception to the bureaucratic practices. The motion for expulsion was written by the LFI leadership, and the 8 LFI members in Revo’s National Council (NC) were required to vote for it whether they supported it or not. Whether the 1-2 independent members on that body supported it as well (the LFI says they did, but they deny it, and we have a policy of not believing the LFI) didn’t matter one way or the other. As has been the case for some time, only LFI members – and no independents – are involved in the structures of this “independent youth organization”.

Where to now?

As we wrote last year, the real independent youth organization REVOLUTION, in contrast to the LFI’s youth front of the same name, has shown that an independent, revolutionary youth organization can be successful without bureaucratic control by self-proclaimed “cadre” and well-meaning 50-year-old “leaders”.

The LFI’s bureaucratic methods, designed to “save time” and “avoid mistakes”, have virtually destroyed their youth organization. This is most clear in terms of the numbers of participants at the annual Revo conferences in Britain, which have gone down from over 50 (2005) to 45 (2006) to 30 (2007) to a grand total of 16 at the conference in 2008! This development is understandable – who wants to go to a “conference” that can’t decide anything?

The LFI has imposed terribly undemocratic structures on its youth organization. When young activists demand the democratic part of democratic centralism, they are expelled or driven out of the group. Rather than trying to integrate critics via democratic discussion and decision-making, the LFI simply expels them and tries to recruit new youngsters who don’t know about Revo’s structures. But the numbers speak for themselves: this method does not work.

Young activists dealing with the bullying, abuse and bureaucratism described above could easily be turned off from communist politics forever. But we are committed to helping them establish an independent, revolutionary youth group in Britain in the coming period. In this sense, we invite all serious young revolutionaries from the UK who are interested in building up an independent revolutionary youth organisation to join us at REVOCAMP 2008 in Liberec, Czech Republic, from July 28 to August 2.

REVOLUTION International Coordination, March 10, 2008

Check out our new international web site at REVOLUTION activists in the UK who have been expelled or driven out of the LFI structures can be reached at:

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