International Socialist Alternative (formerly the Committee for a Workers’ International) is a global fighting organization of workers, young people and all those oppressed by capitalism and imperialism. With a presence in over 30 countries on all continents, we fight to advance a working-class alternative across national borders, for a socialist world. Join us!
A Failed System
Neo-liberal capitalism’s mouthpieces promised it would lead to a new era of prosperity, democracy and peace. These fairy tales of the 1990s were intended to justify a historical brutal offensive against the working class and the poor across the world. The grim reality of the 21st century has smashed those false prophecies, as the world is dragged down the opposite path.
Never before in history has such wealth and advanced technology — the result of massive collective work across the globe — been possessed by humanity. It is clearer than ever before that the potential exists, to overcome humanity’s burning social problems.
But the fundamentally outdated and failed capitalist system is a huge brake on scientific, economic and social progress. On the contrary, it makes social problems worse and unleashes innumerable crises which cast a serious shadow over the future of humanity, especially the younger generation.
Who would dare to deny this today, with growing inequality, exploitation, oppression, wars, social alienation and environmental destruction? This century has already witnessed an unprecedented increase in inequality, rising international tensions, barbaric imperialist wars and the worst refugee crisis since World War Two. Every year brings new “worst ever” records of an acute ecological crisis, a historical byproduct of capitalism itself.
A few individual tycoons now hold as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population combined. Only a few dozen corporations, owned by capitalist super-rich families and by capitalist governments, are responsible for most industrial global carbon emissions and continue to block any serious global action against climate change.
Trump, Bolsonaro and other dangerous right-wing and far-right populists are the byproduct of a society in a deep crisis, which unleashes new atrocities every day. Those problems have only grown since 2008, and the world now is on the brink of a new world economic crisis, which threatens further crises and disasters.
Against all of this, ISA fights for a system change, for socialism.
A Socialist Alternative
ISA stands for all possible democratic, social and economic reforms that can be achieved within the capitalist system. But, we believe that the struggle for any such reforms must be linked up to the struggle for a genuine system change. There can be no ‘humane’ and truly democratic capitalism. The failure to understand this fact is the greatest weakness of most political forces on the left today.
Socialists fight for the expropriation of the billionaires, and public ownership of the banks, key industries and services and major corporations. In place of the blind market system, which is in reality an economic dictatorship by a parasitic oligarchy, socialists fight for a system based on democratic control and planning of the economy by working people for the benefit of all.
Against growing opposition, the capitalist propaganda works overtime to nurture the idea that “there is no alternative”, and to falsify the ideas of genuine socialism and link them with bureaucratic inefficiency and totalitarianism. But the Stalinist dictatorships were a tragic caricature of socialism. Genuine socialists fought — sometimes paying with their freedom and even their lives — for political revolutions against these regimes, to win democratic working-class control, which is vital for a socialist change.
ISA is proud to come from this revolutionary legacy, which goes all the way back to the ‘left opposition’ which arose in the former Soviet Union, led by Leon Trotsky, against the Stalinist counter-revolution.
That opposition defended, as we do, the historical achievements of the 1917 workers’ revolution in Russia which shook the world. It toppled capitalism and imperialism, and established the world’s first workers’ democracy. Its planned economy, despite the suffocating bureaucratic rule, allowed for a vast increase in living conditions, and showed great potential to continue along the original path of the social revolution.
On the basis of today’s material conditions and advanced means of mass communication internationally, a successful revolution, which would see a fundamental change in the actual running of society, would inevitably spread with an even greater momentum, and would be much harder to put in reverse .
Nevertheless, the only way to ensure a successful struggle for a socialist alternative requires the working class and the oppressed to be well-organized and armed with a suitable political programme.
ISA struggles to build this necessary factor.
Fight-back and Revolution
This is not only the era of Trump. It is also an era of resistance and revolution. Trump’s rise to the US presidency triggered there the largest protests in decades. From the ‘Arab Spring’ to Sudan and Algeria, mass movements of workers and youth have toppled dictators. In country after country, masses have fought against the agenda of the capitalist governments and ruling classes, against savage austerity measures, wars, environmental catastrophe, and the oppression faced by women, LGBTQ+ people, oppressed nationalities and ethnic minorities.
Despite important achievements, the absence of political leaderships worthy of those movements has meant that the results have ultimately, so far, been very limited. However, many millions internationally have been searching for an alternative to the traditional pro-capitalist political parties and their failing policies. In several countries, including the most powerful capitalist power, the US, the idea of ‘socialism’ has seen a sharp leap in popularity.
ISA and its national sections are part of the broad movement of the working class and the oppressed internationally. In particular, we stand for the building of internationalist working-class solidarity and struggle in each country and internationally.
The working class in capitalist society remains, due to its position in the capitalist economy, the only decisive potential force which could bring down the rule of capital, and lead the way to reorganize society along modern and genuinely democratic and socialist lines.
ISA takes part and intervenes in the struggles and movements of the working class, the youth and the oppressed, and puts forward its case for building solidarity, for class action and for a socialist alternative to capitalism. ISA, while maintaining its independent voice and programme, also strives for useful and effective collaboration, wherever possible, with others on the left, to advance the working class and socialist cause.
We stand for the building of fighting, democratic and strong trade-unions, and for the building of mass working-class political parties, to help unite the struggles of the working-class and the oppressed. We support, and in some countries take part in, the building of broad, fighting left formations with a clear orientation to help put forward an independent working-class political voice.
ISA is involved in the broader movement as an independent international political force, with its national sections and supporters, committed to the interests of the working class and to socialist change. It is an organization of struggle, built around the living ideas of Marxism and a revolutionary socialist programme.
ISA, formerly the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), was established in 1974. It is currently organized in over 30 countries in all continents in a common struggle for working-class solidarity and socialism.
From the US to Brazil, from South Africa to Tunisia and Sudan, from China and Hong Kong to Australia, from Turkey to Israel-Palestine… The ISA’s national sections and supporters are involved in the struggles of working people, youth and the oppressed in workplaces, communities and campuses. We get involved, discuss and put forward initiatives and ideas to help win victories, build up movements and fight for a socialist alternative.
ISA supporters in the US, in Socialist Alternative, played a prominent role in the fight for a $15/hr minimum wage, the fight against Trump, and one of its members, Kshama Sawant, became the first socialist councilor in a major city in the US for decades.
In Ireland, the Socialist Party, with two TDs (MPs) in parliament, is active both in the south and in Northern Ireland, fighting against sectarian division and for class unity. The party, and the socialist feminist campaigning organization ROSA, played a key role in the successful fight to legalize abortion.
In China and Hong Kong, ISA supporters are actively involved in the democracy struggle and in various workers’ struggles, linking those up to the struggle against the dictatorship and for a real socialist alternative. In Tunisia and Sudan, ISA supporters have been at the heart of revolutionary upheavals, sometimes facing severe repression. In Israel-Palestine, the ISA’s section is fighting against the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, for working-class unity against the horrors of capitalism and imperialism, and for a socialist Middle East.
In South Africa, where the ISA section was historically involved in the struggle against Apartheid, our comrades of the Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP) have been to the forefront of workers’ and trade-union struggles in recent years, playing a leading role in the miners’ revolt following the Marikana massacre in 2012.
Working as part of the broad Left party, P-SoL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) in Brazil, the ISA’s militants of Liberdade, Socialismo e Revolução (LSR) have been heavily involved in the fight against Bolsonaro and the far-right, underlining the potential to build a strong socialist left.
ISA has a proud record of working-class struggles and victories. Not least, in the 1980’s in Britain, the then Militant tendency, as part of the CWI (ISA’s predecessor), played an important role in the fight against Thatcher, most decisively in its leading role in the socialist Labour council in Liverpool in 1983—1985, and in the mass anti-Poll Tax struggle, which was key in bringing down Thatcher. Our section in Britain today, which publishes ‘Socialist Alternative’, continues this legacy.
If you are interested in learning more about our ideas, activities and the history of our movement, take a look at the articles available on this website, and contact us with any question you might have. We call those who agree with and support our ideas and struggle, to help strengthen our ability to organize, by joining us, and by making a solidarity donation. Get involved and become part of the struggle for a socialist world.