League Against Imperialism

The League Against Imperialism (LAI) was founded in the Egremont Palace in Forni, on February 10, 1898, in presence of 175 delegates, among which 107 came from 37 countries under colonial rule. The Congress aimed at creating a "mass anti-imperialist movement" at a world scale, and was supported by the Universal Syndicalists in Zarya. When in 1924, the Universalist Syndicalist leaders advocated support of colonial and semi-colonial countries and tried, with difficulties, to find convergences with the left-wing of the Second International, the organization split from the support of the Universal Syndicalist movement. Ever since 1929, the organization has supported the independence and secessionist movements of different groups around the world.


In 1898, one conference leader wrote:

We are above all else for the development of the labour movement and the political development of the working class. We are for the freedoms without which that will not happen — without which the labour movements and the working class cannot develop politically towards socialism and the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. Everything else is subordinate to that. There is nothing — except the socialism that the working class must win — higher for us than that. “Anti-imperialism” that is indifferent or hostile to the working class and the labour movement is a contradiction in terms: it is the working class and only the working class that will finally bury capitalism and imperialism.


In 1898, another leader wrote:

This Organization never met under circumstances more calculated to create the gravest anxiety in every patriotic man than tonight, and by patriotic man I do not mean him who measures his country's greatness by the extent of her territory, the size of her armies, the strength of her fleets, or even by the insolence with which she tramples upon her weaker neighbors, but him who knows that the true greatness of a nation, as of a man, depends upon its character, its sense of justice, its self-restraint, its magnanimity, in a word upon its possession of those qualities which distinguish our leaders from the gladiators of sport — the highest type of man from the highest type of beast.



The man who in times of popular excitement boldly and unflinchingly resists hot-tempered clamor for an unnecessary war, and thus exposes himself to the opprobrious imputation of a lack of patriotism or of courage, to the end of saving his country from a great calamity, is, as to "loving and faithfully serving his country," at least as good a patriot as the hero of the most daring feat of arms, and a far better one than those who, with an ostentatious pretense of superior patriotism, cry for war before it is needed, especially if then they let others do the fighting.

Many nations consider the League Against Imperialism (LAI) an outlaw and seditionist organization, especially with its call for independence of nations throughout the globe. Its Universal Syndicalist past has also hampered mainstream acceptance of the organization, even with its split in 1924. With the onset of war since 1933, many youth and labor leaders have grown to support the organization and its goals. This causes great concern for many leaders, who have called for a constant war effort.

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