Chapter VI. The Theoretical Foundations of the Political Right-Wing Turn of L5I


Note of the Editorial Board: The following chapter contains several figures. They can be viewed in the pdf version of this document (see here).




Until now we have analyzed in detail and refuted the arguments of L5I leadership, and have pointed out the consequences of its turn to the right. In this last chapter we will address the theoretical foundations of their arguments.




  1. a) Opportunistic Belief in the Potential for Progress of Decaying Capitalism – a Break with Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism




We have seen that the L5I leadership advocates EU membership by arguing that this would be beneficial for the development of productive forces and “to increase the productivity of humanity.”


Elsewhere we have reported that, among the leadership of L5I, there have always been controversial discussions about Lenin’s understanding of the theory of imperialism. As such, when we still belonged to that organization, we were repeatedly forced to struggle against the position of various L5I comrades who expressed skepticism about the tendency of capitalist stagnation as being characteristic of the imperialist epoch; who doubted whether imperialism is really the last stage of capitalism; and who, in the first decade of the new millennium, rejected recognizing a stagnation of the productive forces and who refused – following the opening of the new historic period in 2008 – to affirm an objective decline of the productive forces. Our own orthodox stance was condemned by our inner-party opponents as “catastrophism” and “dogmatism,” and it this enmity obliged us to invest great effort (involving our reluctant agreement to make various deletions in draft documents) to win over majorities for our positions. [1]


Our ultimate expulsion from the L5I in 2011 marked the start of that organization’s descent from Marxism into centrism. This was also manifested in their “De-Leninization” of Lenin’s theory of imperialism, which is the “theoretical” base they devised which hides behind their latest justifications for their rightward turn in the question of the EU.


All of the above is clear from the arguments put forth by the L5I leadership in defense of their advocacy of EU membership in the interest of the development of productivity. The comrades have repeatedly pointed out that an inherent law of capitalism is that the productive forces outgrow the borders of the nation state and that, therefore, any attempt to return to the isolated nation state would be reactionary. Now, of course, it is a truism for Marxists that modern productive forces strive beyond the boundaries of the nation state and towards global exchange, and that any reverting back to the nation state is reactionary.


However, it is also a truism for Marxists that capitalism in its final stage – the era of imperialism – is no longer able to support an organic, comprehensive growth of the world’s productive forces, very much in contrast to what was the case during its epochs of ascent.


Or to formulate it more precisely: on the one hand, capitalism continues to advance technologically, and these advances manifest themselves in various material aspects of the forces of production; but at the same time it utilizes the benefits from this technological progress in order to:


* increase the exploitation and oppression of the working class and oppressed peoples;


* exacerbate the inter-imperialist rivalries and make such crises more destructive; and finally


* accelerate the transformation of the forces of production to destructive forces, thereby worsening the destruction of the environment, increasing the spread of wars, and augmenting those dynamics which could bring about a new world war.


That is why – in contrast to our opponents inside and outside of the LRCI/L5I – we have always defended Lenin’s thesis on the tendency towards stagnation which is inherent to imperialism.


This becomes clear when we remember the Marxist understanding of productive forces which includes not only the technique and the quantity of goods produced, but also and, in particular, the development of the working class and humanity. We addressed this issue more fully in an article published in the L5I’s German-language theoretical journal “Revolutionary Marxism” of 2007.


There we gave the following definition of the productive forces: “Let’s first recapitulate what Marx and Marxists actually understand by productive forces. Productive forces include both the material means and results of production — that is means of production (machines, etc) and goods — and the people who operate the means of production and, for this purpose enter into certain forms of the social division of labour.[2]


In that document, we also drew attention to the dramatic dangers to the livelihood of humanity which result from capitalism’s increasing transformation of the productive forces into destructive forces. Marx himself insightfully wrote:


Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the labourer.[3]


And we summarized our understanding in the following concluding paragraph:


In summary, by the tendency of the productive forces to stagnate Marxists mean the following developments:


* Capitalism’s increasing inability to transform technological innovation and economic growth into social progress for humanity. On the contrary, capitalism increasingly undermines the possibilities of human progress.


* The dynamic of decreasing growth both in the production of commodities as well as in the accumulation of capital.


* Increasing instability and the tendency of world capitalism to spawn crises, both economic and political.[4]


And later we wrote in another work, and at that time the current L5I leaders agreed with us that:


In particular, increasing socialization and internationalization demonstrate the historical obsolescence of capitalism and, due to the fetters of private property, its inherent hindering of rich and sustainable development of the forces of production. In the epoch of imperialism, the forces of production tend to stagnate – a law that was less valid in periods atypical for this epoch, like the long post-war boom. But in those periods which are typical for this epoch this law remains fully valid and manifests itself in those historical periods in which the contradictions of capitalism erupt in all their explosiveness, as in 1914-1948 or in the period which began in 2007 and which is characterized by a decline of the forces of production.[5]


We have shown both in the previous chapters of this essay, as well as in other documents, how the living conditions of the working class and humanity have deteriorated in recent years – in Europe and worldwide.


But even regarding the class interests of the bourgeoisie, i.e., levels of production, capital accumulation and productivity, we have also demonstrated numerous times in the past that, in recent decades, the development of capitalism is characterized by a definite tendency toward stagnation and decline. For an elaboration of this point, we refer the reader to different works which we have previously published – some during our tenure in the LRCI/L5I, and others, in more recent years, in the context of the RCIT. [6]


Here we shall limit ourselves to three tasks: citing statistics published by the United Nations regarding the development of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 1960 and 2010 (Table 11); giving figures for the development of global Gross Fixed Capital Formation and GDP in the period between 1970 and 2010 (Figure 4); and referencing data about the long-term development of labor productivity between 1950 and 2013 (Figure 5).




Table 11: The development of global Gross Domestic Product, 1960–2010 (in absolute numbers as well as average annual growth) [7]


Global GDP                                                        Average annual                                                  Average annual


in absolute numbers                                          growth rate (5 years)                                        growth rate (10 years)




1960: 7279


1965: 9420                                                           1960–1965: +5.88%


1970: 12153                                                         1965–1970: +5.80%                                           1960–1970: +5.84%


1975: 14598                                                         1970–1975: +4.02%


1980: 17652                                                         1975–1980: +4.18%                                           1970–1980: +4.09%


1985: 20275                                                         1980–1985: +2.97%


1990: 24284                                                         1985–1990: +3.95%                                           1980–1990: +3.46%


1995: 27247                                                         1990–1995: +2.44%


2000: 32213                                                         1995–2000: +3.64%                                           1990–2000: +3.04%


2005: 36926                                                         2000–2005: +2.93%


2010: 41365                                                         2005–2010: +2.40%                                           2005–2010: +2.66%




Legend: GDP figures are in billions of constant 2000 US dollars. The growth figures are the respective averages of the five ten years cycle (our calculations).




Figure 4: The development of the world economy 1970­–2010, Gross capital formation and annual percentage growth of world GDP [8]



Legend: Gross capital formation (as a percentage of world GDP, thick gray line, left scale) and annual percentage growth of world GDP (dotted thin black line, right scale).




Figure 5: Labor productivity performance in a long term comparative perspective, 1950­–2013 [9]


GDP per hour worked; annual average growth







Both Table 11 and Figures 4 and 5 reveal unequivocally the clear downward trend of world capitalist production and accumulation in the past decades. In Table 11, we can demonstrate, using official figures from the World Bank, that the growth of global production gradually declined over the past five decades, from + 5.88% in the 1960s to + 2.66% in the first decade of the new millennium, and that the growth figures for the current decade will inevitably be even lower.


As we have repeatedly elaborated in other works on the world economy, the driving factor behind this decline of capitalist economic growth is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, just as Marx pointed out in Capital. (See Figure 6)




Figure 6: World rate of profit and average rate in imperialist and semi-colonial countries (1869–2010). [10]





As we have demonstrated above, the L5I leadership maintains that the augmentation of imperialist confederations like the EU is vital to boosting the development capitalism’s forces of production. Indeed, it is true that, in the period of globalization during recent decades, world trade and foreign investment have witnessed a tremendous expansion, just as we have shown in our study on globalization. [11] But, contrary to the (opportunistic) optimism of the L5I regarding capitalism’s potential for progress, this huge expansion of trade and foreign investment during the period of globalization did not result in the accelerated growth of capitalist value production – to say nothing of an improvement in the living conditions of workers and the inhabitants of the oppressed world. On the contrary, all the figures for the world economy in recent decades show that the rise of globalization has been accompanied by a decline in economic growth.


How is this possible? Simply, the explanation is that the internationalization of production has not contributed or, if so, only marginally, to the increase of the world’s forces of production. Instead, the calculus of imperialism dictates that, for their own economic well-being, the respective monopoly bourgeoisies of the imperialist states both individually and collectively, promote and utilize globalization in order to intensify exploitation of their local working class as well as the semi-colonial world, in doing so increase their competitiveness vis. à vis. one another, and ultimately advance the destruction of productive forces (in bankruptcies, economic crises, wars and other military operations, including the huge stockpiling and sale of non-productive sophisticated weaponry). The inevitable result is increasing impoverishment for the mass of humanity, and the existential imperative of imperialism to more intensively oppress the masses.


It is, therefore, no coincidence that Lenin spoke of the imperialist epoch as the era of “moribund capitalism” and pointed to the tendency to stagnation (which of course in no way excludes temporary upswings):


The fact that imperialism is parasitic or decaying capitalism is manifested first of all in the tendency to decay, which is characteristic of every monopoly under the system of private ownership of the means of production. The difference between the democratic-republican and the reactionary-monarchist imperialist bourgeoisie is obliterated precisely because they are both rotting alive (which by no means precludes an extraordinarily rapid development of capitalism in individual branches of industry, in individual countries, and in individual periods).[12]


And it is, therefore, hardly surprising that in the EU – regardless of the massive expansion of the continental trade and cross-border investments – there has been neither an acceleration of growth in production nor in productivity. On the contrary, both have declined!


What the L5I leadership obviously forgets, or perhaps unconsciously desires to block out, is the classic thesis of Lenin and Trotsky, that the productive forces in the epoch of imperialism (i.e., of decaying capitalism) tend to stagnation, while in the pre-imperialist epoch they were still growing. If this were not the case, and the thesis of the L5I leadership could somehow be linked to the economic and political reality of this current epoch, then the huge internationalization of trade that we have witnessed during the last three decades of globalization should have resulted in the acceleration of the productive forces and the fastest economic growth in history. But, as we have shown, precisely the opposite is true! We live in one of the most pronounced stagnation periods of capitalism!


Moreover, it has been in the EU during the last 30 years that the internationalization of trade and production has increased the most dramatically. But it is precisely in this period that growth has declined most precipitously! Around the world, many countries which weren’t subject to such a massive degree of internationalization as was the case for the EU states, experienced stronger growth. If so, clearly, the advancement of EU integration has had no particular positive effect on the development of productive forces!


What explanation does the L5I leadership have for this contradiction? How, given the data, can it theoretically justify its desire to convince the working class to give “critical” support the central project of the European monopoly bourgeoisie in the name of the “development of productive forces“?


So who, then, actually does benefit from the integration of the EU and increased globalization? As we implied just above, the answer is: the imperialist monopolies. It is they who are responsible for the acceleration of the integration of the EU and the globalization of the world economy, including all its free trade agreements. That is the reason that, in the past, we have produced the following equation to encapsulate the essence of globalization: Globalization = Internationalization + monopolization.


Again, we can only surmise that the L5I leadership has obviously either forgotten or is defensively blocking out that, in the age of imperialism – and especially in the recent decades characterized by global crisis-ridden development – an organic development of the productive forces is no longer possible. This stagnation can also not be ameliorated by the creation of larger markets like that of the EU. No, internationalization of the productive forces in the epoch of imperialism does not mean expansion and growth of the productive forces. Rather, first and foremost its significance is the monopolization of the forces of production, and the concomitant expansion of the power and dominance of monopolies on the world’s political economy and thus on the individual nation states.


This is why Lenin, in his theory of imperialism, was absolutely correct when he identified the dominance of monopolies as the central characteristic of the present epoch: “The supplanting of free competition by monopoly is the fundamental economic feature, the quintessence of imperialism. [13]




Excurse: The Marxist Classics on the Internationalization of the Productive Forces in the Imperialist Epoch




Only unabashed social-democratic charlatans think in terms of winning over the working class so that they can be exploited by the corporations for their drive to expand monopolistically controlled markets. By contrast, Marxists, vehemently reject any such support, without at the same time giving any support whatsoever to that faction of the imperialist bourgeoisie which is strongly-oriented towards the nation state and the domestic market.


As early as 1888 – i.e., before the beginning of the imperialist epoch – Engels noted that the benefits of free trade, critically supported by both he and Marx in the mid-19th century during the epoch of rising capitalism, were increasingly dwindling:


The question of Free Trade or Protection moves entirely within the bounds of the present system of capitalist production, and has, therefore, no direct interest for us socialists who want to do away with that system. (…) If a country nowadays accepts Free Trade, it will certainly not do so to please the socialists. It will do so because Free trade has become a necessity for the industrial capitalists. But if it should reject Free Trade and stick to Protection, in order to cheat the socialists out of the expected social catastrophe, that will not hurt the prospects of socialism in the least. (…) In the meantime, there is no help for it: you must go on developing the capitalist system, you must accelerate the production, accumulation, and centralization of capitalist wealth, and, along with it, the production of a revolutionary class of laborers. Whether you try the Protectionist or the Free Trade will make no difference in the end, and hardly any in the length of the respite left to you until the day when that end will come.[14]


  • With the beginning of the era of imperialism, things changed fundamentally. In their brochure Socialism and War written by the Bolsheviks in 1915, they emphasize that the development of productive forces was no longer the justification for the internationalization of production and trade, but “the pursuit of monopolies for conquest of territories”:


Imperialism is the highest stage in the development of capitalism, reached only in the twentieth century. Capitalism now finds that the old national states, without whose formation it could not have overthrown feudalism, are too cramped for it. Capitalism has developed concentration to such a degree that entire branches of industry are controlled by syndicates, trusts and associations of capitalist multimillionaires and almost the entire globe has been divided up among the ’lords of capital‘ either in the form of colonies, or by entangling other countries in thousands of threads of financial exploitation. Free trade and competition have been superseded by a striving towards monopolies, the seizure of territory for the investment of capital and as sources of raw materials, and so on. From the liberator of nations, which it was in the struggle against feudalism, capitalism in its imperialist stage has turned into the greatest oppressor of nations. Formerly progressive, capitalism has become reactionary; it has developed the forces of production to such a degree that mankind is faced with the alternative of adopting socialism or of experiencing years and even decades of armed struggle between the ’Great‘ Powers for the artificial preservation of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges and national oppression of every kind.[15]


Hence, as Lenin wrote in his study of imperialism, the difference between smaller and bigger markets, between Free Trade or Protection, “only give rise to insignificant variations in the form of monopolies”.


Official science tried by a conspiracy of silence, to kill the works of Marx, who by a theoretical and historical analysis of capitalism had proved that free competition gives rise to the concentration of production, which, in turn, at a certain stage of development leads to monopoly. Today, monopoly has become a fact. Economists are writing mountains of books in which they describe the diverse manifestations of monopoly, and continue to declare in chorus that ’Marxism is refuted‘. But facts are stubborn things, as the English proverb says, and they have to be reckoned with, whether we like it or not. The facts show that differences between capitalist countries, e.g., in the matter of protection or free trade, only give rise to insignificant variations in the form of monopolies or in the moment of their appearance; and that the rise of monopolies, as the result of the concentration of production, is a general and fundamental law of the present stage of development of capitalism.[16]


In his preface to Nikolai Bukharin’s book “Imperialism and World Economy,” Lenin expressed a similar idea:


In all this it is extremely important to bear in mind that this change has been brought about in no other way but the immediate development, expansion and continuation of the most profound and basic trends in capitalism and in commodity production in general. These main trends, which have been in evidence all over the world for centuries, are the growth of exchange and the growth of large-scale production. At a definite stage in the development of exchange, at a definite stage in the growth of large-scale production, namely, at the stage which was attained towards the turn of the century, exchange so internationalised economic relations and capital, and large-scale production assumed such proportions that monopoly began to replace free competition. Monopoly associations of entrepreneurs, trusts, instead of enterprises, ’freely’ competing with each other—at home and in relations between the countries—became typical. Finance capital took over as the typical ’lord‘ of the world; it is particularly mobile and flexible, particularly interknit at home and internationally, and particularly impersonal and divorced from production proper; it lends itself to concentration with particular ease, and has been concentrated to an unusual degree already, so that literally a few hundred multimillionaires and millionaires control the destiny of the world.[17]


Bukharin’s book, in which, again, the above appeared in the preface, drew attention to the characteristic tendency of the great imperialist powers to expand beyond their borders and to incorporate smaller countries – a development which has taken place in the European Union.


The war, which was bound to break out because it had been prepared by the entire course of events, could not fail to exercise a colossal influence on world economic life. It has caused a complete change in every country and in the relations between countries, in the ’national economies’ and in world economy. Together with a truly barbarous squandering of production forces, with the destruction of the material means of production and of the living labour power, together with the devitalisation of economy through monstrous socially harmful expenditures, the war, like a gigantic crisis, has intensified the fundamental tendencies of capitalist development; it has hastened to an extraordinary degree the growth of finance capitalist relations and the centralisation of capital on a world scale. The centralising character of the present war (imperialist centralisation) is beyond doubt. First of all, there is a collapse of independent small states whether of high industrial development (horizontal concentration and centralisation) or of an agrarian type (vertical centralisation); the latter have also absorbed some of the weaker (and similarly backward) formations — which, however, is comparatively unimportant. The independent existence of Belgium, a highly developed country with a colonial policy of its own, is becoming doubtful; the process of a centralising redivision of territory in the Balkans is perfectly obvious; it is to be expected that the tangle of colonial possessions in Africa will be straightened out. On the other hand, we witness a very strong rapprochement (in the form of a lasting agreement between syndicates) of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Whatever the actual outcome of the war, it is already clear (and could have been assumed a priori) that the political map will be changed in the direction of greater state homogeneity—this being exactly the way in which the imperialistic “nationality states” (Nationalitätenstaaten) grow.[18]


Naturally, Bukharin did not conclude from this that class conscious workers should lend any support to such tendencies. According to him, socialists should instead of “defending or extending the boundaries of the bourgeois state” – i.e., to translate this into modern language – neither support the EU nor the nation state, but exclusively fight for the “slogan of abolishing state boundaries and merging all the peoples into one Socialist family.


The war severs the last chain that binds the workers to the masters, their slavish submission to the imperialist state. The last limitation of the proletariat’s philosophy is being overcome: its clinging to the narrowness of the national state, its patriotism. The interests of the moment, the temporary advantage accruing to it from the imperialist robberies and from its connections with the imperialist state, become of secondary importance compared with the lasting and general interests of the class as a whole, with the idea of a social revolution of the international proletariat which overthrows the dictatorship of finance capital with an armed hand, destroys its state apparatus and builds up a new power, a power of the workers against the bourgeoisie. In place of the idea of defending or extending the boundaries of the bourgeois state that bind the productive forces of world economy hand and foot, this power advances the slogan of abolishing state boundaries and merging all the peoples into one Socialist family. In this way the proletariat, after painful searching, succeeds in grasping its true interests that lead it through revolution to Socialism.[19]


In the same spirit, Lenin warned revolutionaries to avoid the typically centrist mistake committed by the German social democrat Karl Kautsky and his supporters, who raised the possibility that progressive developments in the interest of the working class are possible within the capitalist system:


There is evidence that even today the indisputable fact that capitalism is progressive, when compared with the semi-philistine ’paradise’ of free competition, and that imperialism and its final victory over ’peaceful‘ capitalism in the leading countries of the world are inevitable — that this fact is still capable of producing an equally great and varied number of political and apolitical mistakes and misadventures.[20]


Marxists concluded at that time that every serious workers’ party must not give any “critical” support to imperialist monopolization.


All this, of course not surprisingly for Marxists, is because all these tendencies spring from capitalism’s inherent logic driven by the profit motive towards maximizing capital accumulation. The working class cannot fight against this development by reversing this trend and returning to economic models focusing on the nation state boundaries and domestic markets (as promoted by various petty-bourgeois anti-globalization activists). On the contrary, the working class must take action against the international monopolies by means of the international class struggle and advocate an international revolution and the establishment of a world socialist republic based on the internationalization of the forces of production.


However, this struggle requires not only a rejection of narrow-minded national anti-globalization activists, but also a complete rejection of all forms of support for the projects of the imperialist monopolies and great powers who aim to expand their power over the entire world market and entirely dominate world politics!


But the support of the L5I leadership for advancing EU integration, their evaluation of this project viewed through rose-colored glasses, and their superficial understanding of the consequences on the productive forces is diametrically opposed to what the struggle requires. Naturally, it involves very “critical” support for the prevailing policies of the monopolies and their imperialist governments. But how could it have possible escaped the attention of the L5I comrades that, by spreading propaganda for Britain to remain inside the EU, they stood shoulder to shoulder on the same side of the barricades together with virtually the entire big bourgeoisie of London and across the continent.


In the past, we unreservedly agreed with the LRCI/L5I’s then-orthodox Marxist position on this issue. In 1992, both we and they knew that the internationalization of the productive forces under the control of the capitalist monopolies – just as a return to the nation state – is by no means in the interests of the working class. Thus, revolutionaries cannot give either of these options any “critical” support. This was stated very clearly in a resolution on the enlargement of the European Union:


The international working class has nothing in principle to fear from the centralization and organization of production on a continental scale; such a mode of organization is intrinsically superior to isolated national production, which is one of the elements of restraining the unfettered development of the forces of production. However, a precondition for such continental organisation being progressive is that it should take place under the rule of the international working class. It is not excluded that capitalism can unite Europe, but it will only lead to increasing exploitation, oppression, competition and, ultimately, war.[21]


Finally, let us deal with one additional argument of the L5I leadership. As noted, above the comrades justify their “critical” support for the EU by stating that the productive forces have become too large to be restrained by the border of the national state. As we have said several times, this is absolutely true. But, in their eagerness to “critically” support the EU, the comrades have overlooked the following important point: The productive forces with their global production chains, their global trade, etc., have become today – far more than in the time of Lenin and Trotsky – not only too big for the boundaries of the nation state, but also for the borders of the European Union! So from this point of view, too, there is no justification for Marxists to support the EU.




  1. b) Economist Reinterpretation of Questions of the Political Class Struggle: the Question of the Nature of the EU




The central failure of the L5I leadership is that it economistically distorts a highly political question. They artificially transform a political issue through and through – should the working class live in a nation state (like Britain) which is dominated by the imperialist bourgeoisie or should it live in an imperialist confederation (like the EU) which is also dominated by the imperialist bourgeoisie? This political issue is transformed by the L5I leadership into a mere question of voting for the one of two options which would (ostensibly) be “objectively” better for the development of productive forces, i.e., whether larger or smaller states would (ostensibly) create “objectively” better conditions for the development of an internationalist consciousness of the working class. This “de-politicization” of the EU question is nothing but an expression of objectivist and economistic thinking – the transformation of a fundamental political question to one of primarily economic-technical tactics.


In this way, the L5I leadership is guilty of the very same error which both they and we have previously jointly criticized in Trotsky’s method before 1917: his objectivism and processism.


What exactly is the objectivist error of the L5I? It is that the comrades focus their analysis and the tactics derived from it on the “objective development of productive forces” instead of the eminently political character of the EU question. In doing so, they entirely place the “objective development of productive forces” in the forefront, and view this issue as the leitmotif for their political tactics, rather than the political struggle against both the imperialist nation state and the EU.


This objectivism is expressed in their hope that an internationalist consciousness of the working class could develop out of the existence of and membership in a larger EU (instead of the narrow limits of the nation state). It never occurs to them that the development of such political consciousness among the working class is totally unrelated to the size of a state or confederation. It is well known that the working class in imperialist Belgium has more class consciousness than those in the US, Japan or Russia. And the workers and peasants of Bolivia, Venezuela or South Africa – countries with comparatively fewer developed productive forces – have much more political consciousness (and more internationalism, as is demonstrated by the broad solidarity in South Africa for the Palestinian people) than the workers of Europe.


The L5I’s objectivism is also manifested in its attributing proletarian class consciousness with the existence of a pan-European imperialist super-state, believing that the class struggle necessarily and inevitably experiences a setback when a country leaves the EU. Thus, the comrades “forget” that the highlights of the European class struggle during the last 100 years took place in periods where no integrated and “internationalized” EU existed at all (1917–23, 1934–37, 1943–47, 1968–76). Associating an internationalist class consciousness with the imperialist United States of Europe is simply a myth invented by the L5I leadership in order to justify its opportunist turn to the right.


In short, contrary to the illusion of the L5I leadership, class consciousness of the proletariat arises not from state borders and not from the development of productive forces, but is a consequence of the intervention of the revolutionary subject, of the living struggle of political forces of the various classes, of the organizations in the labor movement and their policies. In other words, class consciousness of the proletariat does not depend on the borders of the imperialist state, but on the struggle of the classes and their leaderships. If there have been problems and failures for the class struggle of the European proletariat in recent decades, it is not because of the borders between states, but because of the dramatic crisis of revolutionary leadership and the dominance of the treacherous reformist bureaucracy!


Moreover, the development of class consciousness is critically dependent on how large and how determined is the subjective factor fighting for the political independence of the working class from each, nationally-based fraction of the imperialist bourgeoisie and their social-imperialist lackeys – whether pro-EU or anti-EU – in the workers’ movement.


In other words, the crucial factor is the existence of a revolutionary party which leads the working class in the inevitable class battles and which provides a consistent program of class independence from all national and supranational great powers and from each fraction of the imperialist bourgeoisie.


Without being aware of it, via their position on the EU, the L5I leadership has delegated tasks of the revolutionary party – namely the enhancement of class consciousness – to the objective process. For Marxists, this is an entirely illegitimate posture!


A century has passed since the days when Trotsky did not understand the weaknesses of his pre-1917 position. To repeat the same methodological error today is far more unforgivable than the mistake of Trotsky then. Yet we know that Lenin was particularly mild in his judgment of Trotsky’s mistakes. How then shall we judge today the failure of L5I leadership?!


The result of the opportunist tactics of the L5I leadership is a tendency to downplay the reactionary and imperialist character EU. Let’s give an example: Their British comrades recently wrote: “The EU has many genuine defects – its imposition of austerity on Greece, its [the EU, Ed.] undemocratic institutions should not be ignored. Corbyn was right to stand 100 per cent for Remain whilst at the same time criticising the EU. [22]


The choice of words here is revealing! Let’s imagine for a moment that British Marxists would say that the imperialist nation state of Britain has “genuine defects.” Imagine that they would advocate “to criticize” this state but to remain in it (rather than smash it). It would become immediately clear that these are not Marxists, but social democratic opportunists who trivialize the deeply reactionary character of “their” imperialist state apparatus and merely speak of “defects.” Unfortunately, the British L5I comrades do not only praise the leader of the Labour Party (they often call him simply by his first name “Jeremy,” as if he is “one of us”), but also adopt more and more the social democratic language!


It is, therefore, no coincidence that one hardly finds in L5I articles and statements the idea that Marxists stand for the “smashing” of the European Union through the European proletarian revolution. The European Union is nothing more than an enlarged, supra-national imperialist state apparatus – or, better formulated, a proto-state, a confederation in the process of formation. Underlying this is the, conscious or unconscious, idea that the EU can be reformed in the direction of socialism. But, in reality, not a single one of the EU institutions – not the EU Commission and the EU Council, not the European Central Bank, not the powerless EU Parliament, not the European Court, not the capitalist economic treaties, etc. – will be taken over by the working class They must be all broken up and replaced by new institutions of the European federation of workers’ republics.




  1. c) Economist Reinterpretation of Questions of the Political Class Struggle: the Question of the Tactics of Revolutionary Defeatism




The L5I leaderships’ lack of understanding of the inextricably political and economic nature of the question of EU membership is inevitably reflected in their political tactics – that is their call to remain within the imperialist EU.


In this context it is useful to remember the polemics of Lenin against Kautsky where he repeatedly points out that the latter ” divorces imperialist politics from imperialist economics, he divorces monopoly in politics from monopoly in economics.[23]


The L5I leadership, albeit differently than Kautsky, is also guilty of such a separation of monopolism in the economy and monopolism in politics. For them, the expansion of the EU as a capitalist economy and the expansion of the undemocratic EU institutions are two different things which can, therefore, be treated differently in tactics. As a result, the L5I leadership separates the alleged blessings of economic internationalization of the productive forces of European imperialism from the political institutions of European imperialism (the EU’s proto-state apparatus).


In reality, such a separation is not possible. The enlargement of the EU economic area served primarily not the development of productive forces (as we have shown above) but the extension of the power of the monopolies. Hand in hand with this process, the power of the monopolies in politics has increased, which is reflected in the various undemocratic EU institutions and the powerful lobby organizations in Brussels.


However, in its own way, even the L5I leadership cannot escape the inseparable unity of economics and politics. In their desire to promote the economic expansion of the productive forces in the EU, the comrades choose political tactics to call for voting in favor of membership in the EU in the respective referenda. And, in turn, they strengthen not so much the productive forces but rather the imperialist EU state apparatus. Once again, we see that the unity of politics and economics exists not only in revolutionary politics, but equally so in social-imperialist opportunism.




* * * * *




Associated with all this, the L5I leadership is victim of a fundamental misunderstanding. They confuse internationalism with imperialist supra-nationalism – when in fact internationalism is the opposite of the latter. The comrades will object to this criticism, saying that they indeed reject the EU and its imperialism. On this, we have not the slightest doubt. But by characterizing the imperialist EU as something qualitatively better and indeed so much better that they call the workers to vote for membership in the EU; in doing so, they declare the imperialist EU as “the lesser evil,” as an evil worthy of “critical” support against the imperialist nation state. And that is, objectively, in practice and via its consequences, nothing but a pro-EU social-imperialist tactic and therefore diametrically opposed to the policy of proletarian independence, which is expressed, among other things, by calling to vote neither for nor against EU membership in referenda in imperialist countries.




* * * * *




The tactics based on the principle of proletarian independence go back to the standpoint of the Marxist classicists. For them it was a fundamental axiom that the working class cannot support any of the two factions of the monopoly bourgeoisie in the epoch of imperialism – neither those who favor free trade and the internationalization of production nor those who advocate protective tariffs and the promotion of the nation state market.


Rudolf Hilferding, an Austrian Marxist, who in 1910 published a groundbreaking book on the emergence of finance capital (later he became an ideologist of reformism), wrote:


While capital can pursue no other policy than that of imperialism, the proletariat cannot oppose to it a policy derived from the period when industrial capital was sovereign; it is no use for the proletariat to oppose the policy of advanced capitalism with an antiquated policy from the era of free trade and of hostility to the state. The response of the proletariat to the economic policy of finance capital – imperialism – cannot be free trade, but only socialism. The objective of proletarian policy cannot possibly be the now reactionary ideal of reinstating free competition by the overthrow of capitalism. The proletariat avoids the bourgeois dilemma – protectionism or free trade – with a solution of its own; neither protectionism nor free trade, but socialism, the organization of production, the conscious control of the economy not by and for the benefit of capitalist magnates but by and for society as a whole, which will then at last subordinate the economy to itself as it has been able to subordinate nature ever since it discovered the laws of motion of the natural world. (…) It is precisely in those countries where the policy of the bourgeoisie has been put into effect most fully, and where the most important social aspects of the democratic political demands of the working class have been realized, that socialism must be given the most prominent place in propaganda, as the only alternative to imperialism, in order to ensure the independence of working class politics and to demonstrate its superiority in the defence of proletarian interests.” [24]


In his book on imperialism, Lenin approvingly cited this quotation from Hilferding, and added:


Kautsky broke with Marxism by advocating in the epoch of finance capital a ’reactionary ideal‘, ’peaceful democracy‘, ’the mere operation of economic factors‘, for objectively this ideal drags us back from monopoly to non-monopoly capitalism, and is a reformist swindle. Trade with Egypt (or with any other colony or semi-colony) ’would have grown more‘ without military occupation, without imperialism, and without finance capital. What does this mean? That capitalism would have developed more rapidly if free competition had not been restricted by monopolies in general, or by the ’corrections‘, yoke (i.e., also the monopoly) of finance capital, or by the monopolist possession of colonies by certain countries? Kautsky’s argument can have no other meaning; and this ’meaning‘ is meaningless. Let us assume that free competition, without any sort of monopoly, would have developed capitalism and trade more rapidly. But the more rapidly trade and capitalism develop, the greater is the concentration of production and capital which gives rise to monopoly. And monopolies have already arisen—precisely out of free competition! Even if monopolies have now begun to retard progress, it is not an argument in favour of free competition, which has become impossible after it has given rise to monopoly. Whichever way one turns Kautsky’s argument, one will find nothing in it except reaction and bourgeois reformism.[25]


As is known, the L5I leadership insists that Marxists supposedly should promote the economic development of the productive forces (which supposedly has nothing to do with the political development of the EU). But even here Lenin clearly states explicitly that Marxists, while not rejecting such objective developments or even dragging them back, can equally support them. Thus he wrote in 1916 in his article “The Military Program of the Proletarian Revolution“:


The bourgeoisie makes it its business to promote trusts, drive women and children into the factories, subject them to corruption and suffering, condemn them to extreme poverty. We do not ’demand‘ such development, we do not ’support‘ it. We fight it. But how do we fight? We explain that trusts and the employment of women in industry are progressive. We do not want a return to the handicraft system, pre-monopoly capitalism, domestic drudgery for women. Forward through the trusts, etc., and beyond them to socialism![26]


This was the approach of the Marxist classics and this has always been the attitude of our movement. In the German-language L5I journal “Revolutionary Marxism” comrade Martin Suchanek expressed succinctly our former, defeatist attitude in 1994:


The ‘progress’ of the European free trade is nothing more than one side of the coin, the other is the call for the formation of an imperialist bloc. Of course, this does not make the demand for a little imperialist foreclosure of ‘independent’ Austrian capitalism one iota more progressive. Faced with the choice between two thoroughly reactionary factions of the imperialist capital, the working class does not take any side. Its victory will not depend on the victory of this or that capital fraction, neither these nor those fractions can save capitalism by their victory.” [27]


How well comrade Suchanek wrote then, when he did not take a leading role in pushing the L5I towards a centrist right-wing turn as a central cadre of this organization!


Today the L5I leadership denies its past, propagates membership in the imperialist EU, and makes fun of our defeatist tactics. As quoted above, the German LFI section ironically spoke about the RCIT’s “theoretical feat” in relating the issue of EU membership with the Leninist program of “revolutionary defeatism.” No, if the author of the German LFI section would not only have cited Trotsky, but also read the article from which this quotation is taken, he would have understood precisely that the entire background to Trotsky’s argument was the First World War. It is, therefore, inherent in the nature of things to link the tactics of proletarian independence to both the imperialist war and the European Union.


In reality, the “little joke” that the German LFI section found so amusing on “the theoretical feat” of the RCIT reveals an astonishing unfamiliarity of that author with the Marxist program. Obviously the comrades are completely unaware that the Leninist program of revolutionary defeatism is valid not only in the event of war, but is more generally applicable to all forms of conflict between imperialist camps (e.g., economic conflicts, sanctions, etc.). It would have been better if the comrades would first have studied the documents of Lenin and Trotsky (or even Kautsky). Then they would have realized that the whole issue of the “United States of Europe” – and the question of revolutionary tactics as well – indeed emerged on the backdrop of political tensions leading up to and ultimately the breaking out of war between the great powers of Europe! If they find this “theoretical feat” so amusing and so theoretically problematic, the L5I comrades should first direct their criticism to the Marxist classics, and only then to the RCIT!




* * * * *




It seems that the L5I comrades, in their eagerness to justify their recent political belly-flop in front of the Labour Party, forget the programmatic root of the method of revolutionary defeatism: namely, the struggle for the political independence of the working class from the fractions of the bourgeoisie and the imperialist powers.


For this reason, Marxists apply the very same method of “revolutionary defeatism” not just to cases of conflicts between imperialist countries or to issues of the membership of imperialist states in inter-state alliances, but also in cases of elections in which only open-bourgeois candidates are competing (e.g., in the presidential election in Austria between the Green candidate Van der Bellen and the FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer). In such situations, revolutionaries cannot support any of these candidates and therefore call for abstention.


Trotsky insisted in his theses on War and the Fourth International on the close and inseparable relationship between the internal and external policies of both the ruling class and the proletariat. The vanguard of the proletariat advocates a policy of class independence from any imperialist bourgeoisie and from each of their fractions – both of those at home and of those abroad:


The foreign policy of each class is the continuation and development of its internal policy.[28]


Unlike the L5I, the Marxist classicists knew that “war is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means.” This applies both to the policy of the bourgeoisie as well as for the policy of the proletariat. Hence, Lenin wrote:


War is a continuation of policy by other means. All wars are inseparable from the political systems that engender them. The policy which a given state, a given class within that state, pursued for a long time before the war is inevitably continued by that same class during the war, the form of action alone being changed.[29]


And Trotsky pointed to the fundamentally same principles of the class struggle in times of peace as well as during wars:


Imperialist war is the continuation and sharpening of the predatory politics of the bourgeoisie. The struggle of the proletariat against war is the continuation and sharpening of its class struggle. The beginning of war alters the situation and partially the means of struggle between the classes, but not the aim and basic course.[30]


In other words, the entire method of revolutionary defeatism has no “special tactics” for war, but rather dictates the continuation of tactics directed to promote the independence of the working class of every imperialist bourgeoisie (and each fraction of this), which are valid for all phases of the class struggle – whether in war or peace.


Unfortunately the L5I leadership has abandoned this basic Marxist tenet of political independence of the working class from each fraction of the imperialist bourgeoisie without offering any explanation. Obviously, it’s following the principle: “Who cares about my past gossip!


But today it is particularly important that revolutionaries wage a determined battle against any form of pro-EU or anti-EU social imperialism and connect it with a concrete program of social and democratic demands. Such a program must culminate in the slogans of the conquest of power, that is, of breaking up the EU institutions (as well as those of the nation state) by European revolution and the establishment of the United Socialist States of Europe – as a step towards a Socialist World Federation.


Such a perspective was already formulated by Trotsky when he called to resist the pursuit of the bourgeoisie to unite Europe under its dictates:


But the Communist parties have their hands tied. The living slogan, with a profound historical content, has been expunged from the program of the Comintern solely in the interests of the struggle against the Opposition. All the more decisively must the Opposition raise this slogan. In the person of the Opposition the vanguard of the European proletariat tells its present rulers: In order to unify Europe it is first of all necessary to wrest power out of your hands. We will do it. We will unite Europe. We will unite it against the hostile capitalist world. We will turn it into a mighty drill-ground of militant socialism. We will make it the cornerstone of the World Socialist Federation.[31]




  1. d) Europe-Centeredness with Social-Imperialist Consequences




Finally, we turn to examining the underlying cause for the political turn to the right of the L5I leadership. Of course, it is no coincidence that the British supporters of the L5I announced their support for Britain’s membership in the EU during the same month in which they also decided to join the Labour Party. As we have shown above, the L5I shares the same position – “critical” support for the imperialist EU – with the left reformist party leader Jeremy Corbyn.


But it is not sufficient to explain the L5I leadership’s right turn to short-term, tactical considerations any more than their long-term work inside the British Labour Party.


The L5I’s renunciation of its decades-long defeatist position also reflects other and more profound opportunist and social-imperialist adaptations.


First, it reflects an historical pessimism, which, inter alia, has been expressed in their vehement rejection of our characterization of the current historical period as a revolutionary, as well as their rejection of our thesis of the decline of the productive forces, and ultimately a lack of confidence in the possibility of fomenting world proletarian revolution and overthrowing capitalism. This pessimism leads to above-mentioned objectivism and processism which conflate the tasks of developing internationalist class consciousness with the successes of the imperialist EU.


At first glance, it seems entirely paradoxical that the L5I leadership has abandoned its decades-long defeatist position on the question of EU membership and has adopted a pro-EU stance precisely when capitalism is in the midst of its most serious crisis, with all the obvious difficulties of the EU ruling class to advance their project. But this paradox is only apparent. In reality, the revolutionary period, which started in 2008, frightened and demoralized the L5I comrades. Instead of taking the necessary step forward – towards work among the proletariat and the oppressed layers of society, with an emphasis on the semi-colonial world – the leadership of the L5I retreated to their roots as middle-class leftists in imperialist countries, pinning all of their hopes on the privileged labor aristocracy, and increasing focused on centrist regroupings (which of course all invariably failed) or entrism into the Labour Party. [32]


The new tactic they adopted in the question of the EU and their sudden faith in the beneficial effects of the EU on the class consciousness of the European proletariat, are also related to the L5I’s traditional Europe-centeredness. They are not only focusing their political work, propaganda and the vast majority of their international leadership on this continent, but they also consider – whether consciously or unconsciously – the Western European proletariat to be the world’s most developed and politically advanced.


The comrades cannot or don’t want to admit the fact that Western Europe has not seen a revolutionary development since Portugal in 1976, while the working class on other continents has made enormous advances and experienced countless revolutionary situations (e.g., in Venezuela, Bolivia, a number of Arab countries since 2011 , Thailand, Nepal, South Africa). The country in Europe which experienced the most developed class struggle in the recent past is Greece.


But the L5I comrades desperately need to justify their orientation toward the upper, aristocratic layers of the Western European proletariat – the world’s most privileged working class sector and those who still engage in serious illusions about the ostensible beneficial effects of imperialist EU integration; hence the opportunist tactics of the L5I leadership and the social-imperialist consequences of their turn to the right.


This adaption to the pro-EU illusions of petty-bourgeois intellectuals, the liberal middle classes and the labor aristocracy is not an isolated incident, but has also manifested itself in various other areas. We need only cite the attitude of the relevant sector of the L5I cadres who are actively promoting the assimilation of migrants into imperialist national majorities, and who make no pretense of supporting the migrants’ right for true equality on their own terms (e.g., the use of their native language); or the shameful refusal of the L5I to participate in the August 2011 Uprising in Britain; or the fact that, in the programs and propaganda of the British supporters of L5I, they no longer publicize the slogan calling for military victory of the resistance in Afghanistan against the imperialist occupiers, while – at the same time – they publicly expressed their condolences to the family of a killed British soldier (2013); the fact that the German REVO group publicly urged to throw bombs both at Netanyahu as well as Fatah and Hamas, and doing so put the Israeli and the Palestinian camps on the same level, etc. [33] All these positions or actions are many facets of a comprehensive adaption to the social-imperialist prejudices of the Western European labor aristocracy.


Similarly, the Europe centeredness of the L5I leadership manifests itself in another way: The comrades think that a larger and more integrated EU would be beneficial for the development of productive forces and the class consciousness of the European proletariat. Even if we don’t agree with this thesis, let’s assume for a moment that the argument is true. In that case, don’t the L5I comrades consider what would be consequences of a stronger imperialist EU on the world proletariat!


Why do the comrades seem not be able to understand that a stronger, larger imperialist EU represents a greater threat to oppressed peoples in the semi-colonial world, since such a EU would be in a stronger position to enforce more exploitative “free trade” agreements with the countries of the South; would be in a stronger position to intervene militarily in Africa; would be freer to wage wars and occupations outside of Europe (which in turn, of course, would negatively affect the development of productive forces)?! Why can’t or won’t they understand that a strengthened European great power only fuels global rivalry and militarization (and thus also negatively effects the development of productive forces)?!


No, authentic Marxists must not derive their tactics on questions of EU membership not primarily from a national or regional point of view, but only from an international point of view – that of the world proletariat.


Lenin already warned those with such social-imperialist deviations.


Hobson, the social-liberal, fails to see that this ’counteraction‘ can be offered only by the revolutionary proletariat and only in the form of a social revolution. But then he is a social-liberal! Nevertheless, as early as 1902 he had an excellent insight into the meaning and significance of a ’United States of Europe‘ (be it said for the benefit of Trotsky the Kautskyite!) and of all that is now being glossed over by the hypocritical Kautskyites of various countries, namely, that the opportunists (socialchauvinists) are working hand in glove with the imperialist bourgeoisie precisely towards creating an imperialist Europe on the backs of Asia and Africa, and that objectively the opportunists are a section of the petty bourgeoisie and of certain strata of the working class who have been bribed out of imperialist superprofits and converted into watchdogs of capitalism and corrupters of the labour movement.[34]


Finally, the Western Europe-centeredness of the L5I leadership is also expressed by the fact that it hides and ignores the existing imperialist oppression within the EU – i.e., the super-exploitation and national oppression of the semi-colonial countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, and the Eastern European countries.




* * * * *




In closing, we cannot refrain from pointing out the following paradox. At its Congress in 2013, the L5I added a new paragraph to their statutes in which they state that they are still in the very first stage of party building – a stage which they call “ideological current.” By this they mean a small group of intellectuals who is especially devoted to the development of theory and propaganda.


Distinct stages or phases can be seen historically in the development of this fusion; from very small numbers of revolutionary intellectuals committed to the working class cause who form an ideological current and first begin the task of promoting the revolutionary programme within the working class, …[35]


All the more strange, therefore, that for many years the L5I hardly published a book (and if it did so, this was a new edition of older documents); the English-language international journal appears rarely and at irregular intervals; and for years they have hardly dealt with any new theoretical questions. Now the L5I suddenly decides on an important change of tactics concerning the EU question, entirely abandoning its traditional position. But even a year later they have not managed to present this fundamental change on a theoretical level. Only a few sentences of assertions, without even an inch of serious argument!




* * * * *




Of course, we cannot fail to recall the arrogance with which the leading L5I cadres viewed the RCIT some years ago, and how proud they were of having not only a larger organization but of also having more students and intellectuals among their ranks. They did not mind that, from the very beginning of its existence until now, they have entirely failed to integrate into their international leadership structures members from semi-colonial countries and comrades from the lower layers of the working class and women and migrants. Instead white, intellectual, West European comrades philosophize on the purported lack of understanding of these members of Marxist theory. Well, the experience of the past five years has shown that an organization like the RCIT, with a proletarian composition focused in large part in semi-colonial countries, is clearly also far more productive theoretically than an organization like the L5I which is so oriented to the student-intellectual milieu in Europe. While the RCIT has published numerous books and pamphlets, a monthly English-language international journal and deals with a variety of theoretical questions, the L5I doesn’t even manage to publish one theoretical piece on the central question of the Brexit referendum. Regardless of whether one agrees with our analysis and conclusions or not, the difference between us in the RCIT and the L5I is obvious, because the latter organization does not even have a single theoretical work from which one could form an opinion! Such a superficial treatment of the EU question is only the latest manifestation of its theoretical poverty which, as we have shown here, is at the heart of their extreme turn to the right.


In light of all of the above, it is vital that comrades of the L5I open a serious debate on their organization’s approach to the EU. Because the rightward turn of the leadership represents a dangerous gateway towards a complete capitulation to social-imperialism; and this will inevitably happen, if the comrades of the L5I do not enforce a reversal of their ideologically bankrupt policy. The RCIT appeals to the members of L5I to initiate such a political reversal.


We therefore propose to the comrades of the L5I to contact us and to open a discussion on the Marxist analysis of and revolutionary tactics towards the European Union. We would be happy to publish a response to our criticism in our own publications, because this is a key issue for the class struggle in Europe in the coming period. A clarification and deepening of Marxist understanding are therefore priorities for all revolutionaries.


[1] See on this Michael Pröbsting: Building the Revolutionary Party in Theory and Practice, Chapter III,

[2] Michael Pröbsting: Die widersprüchliche Entwicklung der Produktivkräfte im Kapitalismus; in: Revolutionärer Marxismus Nr. 37 (2007), (our translation)

[3] Karl Marx: CAPITAL. A Critique of Political Economy Vol. I; in: MECW Vol. 35, pp. 507-508

[4] Michael Pröbsting: Die widersprüchliche Entwicklung der Produktivkräfte im Kapitalismus (our translation)

[5] Michael Pröbsting: Vor einem neuen Wirtschaftsaufschwung? Thesen zum marxistischen Konzept des Zyklus, dem Verhältnis des gegenwärtigen Zyklus zur Periode der Globalisierung sowie den Aussichten und Widersprüchen der künftigen Entwicklung der Weltwirtschaft, in: Revolutionärer Marxismus 41, Februar 2010, und (our translation)

[6] Siehe z.B. Michael Pröbsting: Imperialismus, Globalisierung und die Ausbeutung der Halbkolonien (2007), in: BEFREIUNG Nr. 154;; Michael Pröbsting: Imperialism and the Decline of Capitalism (2008), in: Richard Brenner, Michael Pröbsting, Keith Spencer: The Credit Crunch – A Marxist Analysis (2008), respectively; Michael Pröbsting: World economy – heading to a new upswing? (2009), in: Fifth International, Volume 3, No. 3, Autumn 2009,; RCIT: The World Situation and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists, March 2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 8,; RCIT: Aggravation of Contradictions, Deepening of Crisis of Leadership. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation, 9.9.2013, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 15,; RCIT: Escalation of Inner-Imperialist Rivalry Marks the Opening of a New Phase of World Politics. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation (April 2014), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22,; RCIT: Perspectives for the Class Struggle in Light of the Deepening Crisis in the Imperialist World Economy and Politics. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation and Perspectives Ahead (January 2015), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 32,; RCIT: World Perspectives 2016: Advancing Counterrevolution and Acceleration of Class Contradictions Mark the Opening of a New Political Phase (January 2016), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 46 and 47,

[7] Deepak Nayyar: The South in the World Economy: Past, Present and Future, UNDP Human Development Report Office, Occasional Paper 2013/01, p. 6

[8] José A. Tapia: From the Oil Crisis to the Great Recession: Five crises of the world economy, November 2013, p. 44

[9] OECD: The Future of Productivity, 2015, S. 16

[10] Esteban Ezequiel Maito: The historical transience of capital The downward trend in the rate of profit since XIX century, 2014, p. 13

[11] See Michael Pröbsting: Imperialism and the Decline of Capitalism (2008), in: Richard Brenner, Michael Pröbsting, Keith Spencer: The Credit Crunch – A Marxist Analysis (2008),

[12] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism; in: LCW Vol. 23, p.106 (Emphasis in the original)

[13] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism; in: LCW Vol. 23, p.105 (Emphasis in the original)

[14] Friedrich Engels: Protection and Free Trade. Preface to the Pamphlet: Karl Marx, Speech on the Question of Free Trade (1888), in: MECW 26, pp. 535-536

[15] G. Zinoviev / V. I. Lenin: Socialism and War (1915) ; in: LCW Vol. 21, pp. 301-302

[16] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) ; in: LCW Vol. 22, p. 200

[17] W.I. Lenin: Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet ‘Imperialism and the World Economy’, in: LCW 22, pp. 104-105

[18] Nikolai Bukharin: Imperialism and World Economy (1915); Martin Lawrence Limited, London, pp. 144-145 (our emphasis)

[19] Nikolai Bukharin: Imperialism and World Economy (1915); Martin Lawrence Limited, London, p. 167 (our emphasis)

[20] W.I. Lenin: Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet ‘Imperialism and the World Economy’, in: LCW 22, p. 105

[21] LRCI: Resolution on Maastricht (1992), in: Trotskyist Bulletin No. 2, p. 37

[22] Red Flag: To #KeepCorbyn our response must be swift and ruthless, 27/06/2016, (Unsere Übersetzung)

[23] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism; in: LCW Vol. 23, p.107 (Emphasis in the original) As a side note we remark that the German translation of Lenin’s writings, which is nearer to his original works than the official English translation, does not use the words “monopoly in economy” or “politics” respectively, but the word “monopolism” which better expresses the political substance of this mode of thinking.

[24] Rudolf Hilferding: Finance Capital. A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development (1910), Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1981, pp.366-367 (our emphasis)

[25] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) ; in: LCW Vol. 22, pp. 289-290 (our emphasis)

[26] V. I. Lenin: The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution (1916), in: LCW 23, p. 81

[27] Martin Suchanek: Freihandel und Protektionismus, in: Revolutionärer Marxismus No.22, p. 32 (our translation)

[28] Leon Trotsky: War and the Fourth International (1934), in: Trotsky Writings 1933-34, p. 313

[29] V. I. Lenin: War and Revolution (1917), in: LCW 24, p. 400

[30] Leon Trotsky: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International. The Transitional Program (1938); in: Documents of the Fourth International, New York 1973, p. 199

[31] Leon Trotsky: Disarmament and the United States of Europe (1929), in: Trotsky Writings 1929, p. 357

[32] See on this Michael Pröbsting: Building the Revolutionary Party in Theory and Practice, Chapter III,; RCIT: Where is the LFI drifting? A Letter from the RCIT to the LFI comrades, 11.5.2012,

[33] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Marxismus, Migration und revolutionäre Integration (2010); in: Revolutionärer Kommunismus, Nr. 7,; Michael Pröbsting: Five days that shook Britain but didn’t wake up the left. The bankruptcy of the left during the August uprising of the oppressed in Britain: Its features, its roots and the way forward, 1.9.2011,; Workers Power: Statement on the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, 23.5.2013,; see also RCIT: After the Woolwich attack in Britain: Stop imperialist war-drive and racism! Socialists must not solidarize with Britain’s professional army but with the anti-imperialist resistance! 24.5.2013,; REVO Germany: 3. Intifada? 21. November 2014,

[34] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism; in: LCW Vol. 23, pp. 109-110

[35] L5I: Trotskyism in the Twenty-First Century (Theses 57),


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About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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