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Newsletter (in English)


Open Letter to the League for the FIfth International

Dear comrades,

for many years, the Czech members of the League for the Fifth International (LFI) and the Czech members of the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO) have worked side by side in different campaigns (such as the No Bases Initiative and Students Against Racism). In addition to our friendly personal relations, we have always had similar political positions, since we are the only two left Trotskyist groups in the Czech Republic.

In the fall of 2009, our co-operation advanced with the founding of the New Anticapitalist Left, in which members of the LFI and RIO worked alongside other activists. We hoped that this step would represent a quantitative and qualitative step forward for revolutionaries in the Czech Republic. The initial months of the NAL were relatively successful and filled us with optimism. Unfortunately, depression set in less than half a year later. Since last summer we have witnessed a continuous decline of the NAL.

Now, in the winter, the whole project has practically collapsed. Currently, the NAL includes (besides the founding members from the LFI and RIO) only a handful of individuals who were drawn into revolutionary politics with the founding of the NAL. All other members have left or fallen into passivity. So paradoxically, the current strength of the revolutionary left in the Czech Republic is less than a year ago.

However, what bothers us even more than this quantitative decline is the ongoing political degeneration of the NAL. As the project has become smaller and smaller, more and more voices are calling for the complete abandonment of revolutionary Marxism and the construction of a ”broad” (and politically diffuse) protest party. The goal of revolution is falling into the background under the guise of “understandability for workers.” We see this as dangerous political opportunism.

This is easiest to see in the public face of the project. The original name of the NAL magazine, “Antikapitalista”, was changed to the boring “New Left”. NAL stickers don’t even include the full name of the organization, “New Anticapitalist Left”, but instead only “New Left”. We protested (unsuccessfully) against this opportunism. But this is just an expression of a rightward drift in the NAL’s politics. The right wing in the NAL has increasingly fought against anti-capitalist and Marxist positions.

The last example of this unfortunate development was the NAL’s intervention in the trade union demonstration during the public sector strike on December 12, 2010. The text of the NAL leaflet merely stated that if the government does not withdraw its reforms, then it is necessary to fight against them. This text, in our opinion, was not worthy of a revolutionary or even a “broad” anti-capitalist organization. That is why RIO intervened in the strike with our own materials, which explained the treacherous role of the trade union bureaucracy and the need for workers‘ self-organization as a step towards organs of workers control and power.

Our experience has shown that the most advanced parts of the working class in the Czech Republic are capable of understanding and agreeing with such a program. This does not mean that we expect the formation of soviets or an insurrectionary general strike in the immediate future – but we are convinced that revolutionaries need to present the vanguard of the working class with a clear program. Unfortunately, these and other proposals were rejected within the NAL.

In a full year of existence, the NAL made no connection to the working class or even contacts to workers in trade unions or workplaces. Our experiences in the demonstrations and strikes in recent weeks showed us why: the moderate and diffuse politics of this “New Left” are too similar to the rhetoric of other (and much larger) groups. The NAL does not address the most advanced workers – and the less advanced workers prefer to cooperate with other (politically similar, but larger) organizations.

In the Czech Republic, as well as elsewhere in Europe, a deep economic crisis is underway, opposition to the neoliberal government is growing and working class activism is making small but important steps forward. This creates whole new possibilities for revolutionary Marxists – but only if we manage to explain what is to be done. So our task is to present an alternative to reformist and centrist politics. But in retrospect we can see that the formation of the NAL as a unification of revolutionary forces did not help the radical left in the Czech Republic. We believe that the NAL’s inconsistent and ambiguous politics are the key reason for that.

Therefore, we turn to you with this letter and would like to know the answer to a simple question: What is the perspective of the League for the Fifth International for the further development of the New Anticapitalist Left in the Czech Republic? You say you advocate a revolutionary program for the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France. So why are you supporting a centrist program, similar to that of the NPA leadership, in the Czech Republic?

The Czech members of the League for the Fifth International are not central in moving the NAL to the right. But they also are not fighting against these tendencies – in many cases they have supported them. If we want the NAL to be more than a slightly more radical alternative to the social democracy and the communist party, it is necessary to lead an active struggle for revolutionary Marxist politics.

RIO sees this struggle as its central task. Are the members of the League for the Fifth International our allies in this struggle? Do you want to build NAL as a revolutionary Marxist party, or just a ”broad” protest group? These are important questions and we would like to know answers. We call on the LFI to struggle together with us for a revolutionary Marxist program for the NAL.

With communist regards
RIO Prague, January 14, 2010

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