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September 7, 2000: An Important Process of Clarification in Preparing the Founding of an International League of Struggle for Liberation

For some time, various democratic, anti-imperialist and also revolutionary organizations and movements from all over the world have seized the initiative to prepare the founding of an international League of Struggle. From the start, the MLPD has actively and constructively participated in this process.

Its basic thought is the broad union of the militant forces of the trade union movement, the women's, youth and environmental movements, of revolutionary organizations, peasants' organizations, movements against fascism and militarism as well as all organizations of the class struggle for national and social liberation.

The Basic Thought of an International League of Struggle

In recent years, such a union has proved to be increasingly necessary and to promise success. Many movements, initiatives and parties have grown and gained strength, manifested by working-class strikes in several European countries or mass demonstrations and uprisings in Latin America where a revolutionary ferment beyond borders has developed. Fierce struggles of the peoples led to the overthrow of dictatorships as in Indonesia or the Congo. National liberation movements like that in the Philippines or in Colombia could persist against any attempt to defeat or corrode them. A new upsurge of the militant women's movement, the landless peasants, the unemployed, the environmentalists or of the international protests of young people becomes apparent on a worldwide scale.

United, the movements encompassing masses of people in their millions could effectively deploy their strength in a coordinated way. This is the more important because many national struggles and movements are missing international support as provided in the past especially by the former socialist Soviet Union or Mao Zedong's China. The international League of Struggle for liberation must be the internationalist response to all attempts of the imperialist powers to take action against the liberation struggle by way of economic harassment, political persecution or even military deployment of international crisis reaction forces.

Of course, the creation of such an international union of various movements and organizations is not an uncomplicated process. In particular the revisionist degeneration of a major part of the old communist movement and the restoration of capitalism in the former socialist countries led to a large fragmentation of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement. This was combined with negative experiences, and reservations have been roused. Attention must also be paid to the very different conditions in the individual countries, the different political objectives, world outlooks and composition of the participating forces.

If they are to cooperate for mutual benefit, learn from each other and jointly increase their fighting strength against any form of imperialist exploitation and oppression, democratic organizational principles are necessary and, above all, mutual trust is needed. Precisely the latter cannot be engendered by resolutions but is the sensitive result of years of positive practical experience which the different participating organizations will gather with each other and with the new union.

Any attempt at violating the equality of the participating organizations in disregard of these problems, at establishing a leading center or at declaring one current to be the dominating one to which others have to subordinate themselves, would be extremely harmful and would make fruitful cooperation impossible from the start.

How far have the current preparations for founding an international League of Struggle progressed on this background? The International Initiative Committee (IIC), in existence since the beginning of this year, has called for a Founding Assembly on December 16 to 17, 2000. The invitations sent out already met with promising international response; unfortunately, though, they do not yet comprise the entire relevant spectrum of possible participants.

At the same time, some justified worries have emerged meanwhile as to whether sufficient significance is being attached to the maintenance of the principles of democracy, equality, of mutual respect, of coordinating and of measures designed to build up trust.

After a proposal for statutes had been worked out in the beginning of this year giving all organizations in support of the objectives of the international League of Struggle the right to join the League as a member, the proposed statutes were subsequently amended by the International Initiative Committee; the amendment reads:

"The League shall have a broad mass character and shall be independent of any political party, government or religion." (Preamble) From this formulation, the IIC, by majority vote on August 19, 2000, drew the conclusion to exclude political parties from the Founding Assembly (see the announcement in the Internet on August 24, 2000).

Why shall parties, but also governments or religious communities suddenly be barred from the League if they are willing to support the struggle for liberation in general or in a particular field? Why is it not left to the movements themselves whether they get organized as a mass organization, as an initiative or as a party? Marxist-Leninist parties, for example, implement the principles of proletarian internationalism under the guideline of "Workers of all countries, unite!" Why should they in particular stay outside such an international union?

We know the alleged "independence of parties" mainly from non-governmental organizations (NGO's) in which often an indirect imperialist influence is exerted. In contrast, in the real social conflict, political parties ­ if they have a progressive character ­ are linked up with the liberation struggle via numerous positive relations.

Therefore, an ueberparteilich status would be the adequate principle for an international League of Struggle. It implies equal membership of parties as well as of other organizations; the parties do not have any special rights and are not allowed to dominate other organizations.

Democratic and Coordinating Structures

An international League of Struggle must not have any centralist structures nor factually introduce democratic centralism as an organizational principle. This is particularly valid in the preparatory stage when, naturally, differing positions are coming up and proposals are being made; they must be discussed objectively and unconditionally. This discussion must not be replaced with crucial votes. In such a broad organization there will always be different positions. Therefore, each participating organization itself must be able to decide which conclusions for its country it will draw from the conjoint decisions of the general assemblies of the League of Struggle. The individual participating organizations must be capable of maintaining their independence. But tendencies to centralist stipulations in the submitted proposed statutes run counter to this; for instance, the proposed statutes read:

"The International Coordinating Committee shall be the highest decision-making organ of the League between international assemblies." (Article IV, Section 1)

In our opinion, however, decisions of an International Coordinating Committee, deliberately given that name, can refer only to the implementation of decisions of the international assemblies and mainly to coordinating and organizing tasks. Only a world party with democratic centralism and a unified ideological-political line could have a highest decision-making organ. But that, no doubt, cannot be the purpose of founding a joint League of Struggle of very different organizations and movements.

Accordingly, democratic and coordinating organizational structures necessarily include democratic and representative elections in which the entire range of member organizations is brought fully to bear.

It is normal that there must be thorough preparatory discussions on such issues like the organizational character and the democratic structure of the League. In this process, all participating organizations or delegations must have the possibility of getting to know the different proposals as well as the differences of opinion and of making statements so that they can have an all-round discussion on the emerging questions.

In this context, the main concern and criticism of the MLPD applies to the method of trying to reply to differences of opinion with administrative measures. This includes the announcement, surprisingly spread in mid-August via the Internet, to shift the venue of the Founding Assembly from the originally planned venue in Germany (Duisburg) to another country, due to differences of opinion on substantial issues among single members in the International Initiative Committee. With this, the existing agreement on cooperating with the Women's Political Counsel in the FRG has been unilaterally terminated as well.

There is still a greet need for discussion and clarification. Therefore, the MLPD proposes to postpone the date of the founding for some time. In founding an international League of Struggle, it will definitely be a great advantage if this League is backed by a lively and open international discussion, a broad consensus and by the persuasion of all those who take part in it. And this requires a sufficient amount of time.

The MLPD does not only want to stimulate this process of discussion but also to actively promote it. Therefore it asks the readers of Rote Fahne or the MLPD Internet forum to reply.

Peter Borgwardt,

Central Committee of the MLPD

1 Literally: "above-party"; nonaffiliated; working together without regard for party affiliations

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