1-1. The Socialist Equality Party is the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938. The ICFI represents the continuation of the political and theoretical struggles waged by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky for the political independence of the working class. It is the only political party seeking to mobilise, educate and unite workers internationally for the overthrow of the outmoded capitalist system and the reconstruction of society on a socialist basis.
1-2. The onset of the greatest economic breakdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s, which began with the global financial crash in 2008, signifies that capitalism has entered into a new period of systemic crisis. In every country, the ruling class seeks to shore up its position by undermining its international rivals, on the one hand, and by imposing new burdens on the working class, on the other. The former is greatly exacerbating global tensions, conflicts and the drive to war, while the latter is fuelling the class struggle and opening up a new period of revolutionary upheavals.
1-3. The global crisis is centred in the heart of world capitalism—the United States. The advanced decay of American capitalism and the rise of new powers in Asia—especially China—have dramatically sharpened inter-imperialist rivalries. The reckless attempts by the US to offset its economic decline through the use of military force have already produced a series of wars, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, aimed at establishing an American stranglehold over the energy-rich regions of Central Asia and the Middle East. These conflicts arise out of the fundamental contradictions of the profit system—between the world economy and the outmoded nation-state system and between socialised production and private ownership of the means of production. The globalisation of production has raised these contradictions to a new pitch of intensity.
1-4. The rise of China, and to a lesser extent India, over the past two decades has dramatically shifted the centre of gravity of world politics towards Asia. China has risen from the world’s 10th largest economy in 1990 to overtake Japan in 2010 and become the second largest after the US. China’s burgeoning industries compel it to import vast quantities of raw materials, including oil and gas from the Middle East and Africa. China is building a blue-water navy to secure its shipping lanes, bringing it into competition in the Indian Ocean with Japan, India and above all, the US. Every corner of Asia, including Sri Lanka, is caught up in this rivalry that is leading inexorably to a catastrophic conflict. Unlike the first two world wars that focussed on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, a new conflagration is likely to be centred in the Indian Ocean.
1-5. Asia is destined to become a vast arena not only of inter-imperialist rivalries but also of the social revolution. Economic expansion has created huge new battalions of the working class. China alone has an urban workforce of 400 million. Moreover, the social gulf between rich and poor has widened in every country. China, which has the second largest number of billionaires in the world, also has at least 250 million people living below the poverty line. In India, obscene wealth exists alongside the world’s greatest concentration of poverty. None of these immense social contradictions can be resolved on the basis of capitalism. The sharp deterioration of living standards since 2008, as governments imposed the costs of the crisis on working people, has already propelled millions into struggle in Europe and in Tunisia, Egypt and the Middle East. It will drive workers throughout Asia and internationally to fight for decent living standards and democratic rights and against militarism and war. These struggles must be integrated into a global counteroffensive by the working class to abolish the bankrupt profit system and its outmoded nation- state system and replace it with a world-planned socialist economy.
1-6. The bitter lesson of the twentieth century, however, is that the working class cannot spontaneously take power. That requires the building of revolutionary leaderships based on an assimilation of all of the critical historical experiences of the working class. The International Committee of the Fourth International is the embodiment of the lessons derived from the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism and all forms of opportunism. That rich legacy is summed up in The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party adopted by the SEP (United States), which also constitutes the basis of the political work of the SEP in Sri Lanka.