Analysis and Criticism

Analysis and Criticism

  • On Giraffes and Revolutions It is the fashion of some Marxists writers to denigrate intellectual and political opponents by accusing them of not recognising revolutions when they stare them in the face.  For example ...
    Posted 18 Jun 2010, 17:53 by Admin uk
  • Revolution and counter-revolution in Thailand ? Two excellent articles on Marxist.com gave an overview of the situation in Thailand; Thailand: how will it end and Lessons from Thailand. The latter had a rather peculiar last ...
    Posted 25 May 2010, 02:57 by Admin uk
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  • World Perspectives review The 2010 world perspectives document reviewed, amended, corrected. A work in progress.All changes in colours HK Colour Key Questionable statements Problems and disagreements Irrelevant information or quotes ...................1.    The ...
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  • Q&A on the strange events in the Greek section of the IMT show details 9/21/09From Doros to Comrade HeikoSent to the British CC. Here is a quick reply to your questions.  Do not hesitate to ask additional questions ...
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  • Report by the former press officer of the Militant The Press Officer of the Militant produced this report.
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On Giraffes and Revolutions

posted 13 Jun 2010, 23:02 by Admin uk   [ updated 18 Jun 2010, 17:53 ]

It is the fashion of some Marxists writers to denigrate intellectual and political opponents by accusing them of not recognising revolutions when they stare them in the face. 

For example Alan Woods writes.
 
“It is said that the first European explorer who saw a giraffe exclaimed: “I don’t believe it.” This was precisely the reaction of our “erudite Marxists” when they were confronted with the revolutionary upsurge in June 2009. They did not recognize the significance of what was taking place.”

  A loyal IMT member in Tasmania Damien Mc Arthur was inspired to produce a series of what can only be called Giraffitti images about this article
 "Towards a giraffe International"



Therefore if a revolution appears and some say it is not a revolution, all you have to do is mention the giraffe and the matter can be closed. Perhaps as an admonition a future great revolutionary Marxist will only need to say ‘Giraffe’ or to stretch his neck impersonating the manner of that animal, for the audience to laugh out loud at how foolish and misguided some people can be. There is a revolution and it is not being recognised by some idiotic so-called leftists, how stupid they are! Their laughter may also help to overcome the audiences’ own tendency to fail to recognise revolutions without the trained eye and guiding mind of a great genius.

I hope the reader can forgive me a short excursion into the history of the giraffe in Europe. The earliest record is of the one that appeared in Caesars’ Rome in 46 BC and was later fed to the lions, “The Romans did not know what to make of such an animal and named it the cameleopard, for it seemed to them to embody characteristics of both the camel and leopard.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medici_giraffe 12 june 2010)
Our mythical explorer and the audience were confronted not only with astonishment at the new, but with the problem of how to identify the unknown creature so it was given a name that corresponded to two creatures of similar appearance. In order to follow the methods used by the Romans and anoint a ‘revolution’ we need to identify its appearance, which according to Woods is relatively easy.

“The chief feature of a revolution is the direct intervention of the masses, which begin to take their lives and destinies into their own hands. That is precisely what happened twelve months ago in Iran.”

That seems easy enough. Turn on your television and masses are seen carrying out ‘direct intervention’ in several countries a year. For example in the last year Marxist.com declared that revolutions broke out in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Thailand.

In these countries the ‘masses’ were on the streets, although numbers varied considerably. In Iran hundreds of thousands organised against electoral fraud, in Kyrgyzstan some 5000 people stormed the palace of the president, and in Thailand a few hundred thousand took part in demonstrations in Bangkok. All of these were spotted by the editors of Marxist.com and characterised as revolutions due to ‘the direct intervention of the masses’.

Now the problem lies in identifying what specific creature we are speaking of. Surely not all direct interventions are revolutions?
Let as briefly look at the position on the Kyrgyzstan ‘revolution’ in April 2010. When you begin an analysis on the basis that there is a revolution, because the masses have intervened, you may not spend sufficient time to assess what constitutes the ‘masses’. Did 5000 people out of 900,000 in Bishkek really constitute the ‘direct intervention of the masses’?

Apparently yes, Vladimir Morozov on April 2010 went so far as to claim that the “kurultais” (conventions) called by opposition forces were revolutionary organs.
“The movement, which had a purely spontaneous mass character, threw up embryonic soviets (kurultai). Yesterday power was lying in the streets waiting to be picked up.”
(http://www.marxist.com/revolution-in-kyrgysztan.htm)

I read today (12 June 2010) that the second city of Kyrgyzstan, Osh, is engulfed in ethnic conflict, a pogroms against Uzbeks. There are images of soldiers and young men riding around on military vehicles together, indicating that the state has no viable authority. This does not indicate a revolutionary situation, the ‘direct intervention of the masses’, or ‘embryonic soviets’. It is neither a revolution nor a giraffe, but a battle for power between gangs, clans, and families, taking place in a political vacuum created by the collapse of the state and the disintegration of society. Gangs of discontented, marauding men, battle for the spoils amidst the collapse of civilised life. The masses are completely absent from this process and hope for some force that will re-establish some form of civilised life. In this context the appeal by the interim president Roza Otunbayeva first for the Russians to intervene and then for the army to use lethal force will probably have the passive support of the masses.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd2qcff9w1U
When you look at the video does this not also appear like a revolution? There is even a statue of Lenin! However, unless the news channels and news stories are a unified conspiracy of lies; what some might see as the appearance of a revolutionary rising with soldiers and workers on armoured vehicles, is in fact a bloody pogrom of Uzbeks in Osh. Surely these events at least merit an article titled, “The Kyrgyz Revolution in Danger!”?
…………

The Roman world, where the giraffe was categorized as a cameleopard due to its dual appearance, gave way to one in which religious dogma forbade the study of nuance and scientific detail.

In Middle Ages it is said exotic animals were considered to be signs from God, too much interest in the character of these creatures was considered to be sinful “prying into the forbidden secrets of God’s creation”.
(Ringmar: Audience for a Giraffe p 379) So if one follows such strictures perhaps we should not concern ourselves with the small details of ethnic slaughter appearing as “the direct intervention of the masses” in Kyrgyzstan. 

In the Renaissance the collection of exotic animals was a pastime, which enhanced the prestige of the rulers making them likewise exotic. A giraffe was brought to Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence in 1486, seeing such a strange creature in these times; where there was an increasing scientific investigative spirit, encouraged exploration and the spirit of adventure.

The giraffe spurred discovery, indeed Columbus may well have observed its arrival in Florence in advance of his voyage to the Americas. In some Marxist circles perhaps gathering a coterie of ‘revolutions’ that you were the first to identify, might serve as a modern substitute for the Florentine passion to possess exotic creatures.

When in 1827 a giraffe was brought to Paris to meet King Charles X it was walked there through crowds of thronging people. The zoologist and theoretical biologist, Étienne Geoffroy, described in text and speech the creature’s characteristics to the king and court. Then this giraffe was placed on public display. The giraffe’s arrival coincided with the birth of modern mass manufacture of trinkets, in this way ‘giraffe mania’ gripped France for a short time, then faded away, a passing fad. Soon nobody was interested in the giraffe anymore. But at least this single giraffe generated mass interest and fascination, something some of our recent ‘revolutions’ have failed to achieve. We know this is not because revolutions are not of interest to the public, after all Che films still sell well, and Venezuela still holds a considerable fascination even in rich countries. 

Identifying social and political revolutions requires considerable effort to investigate the characteristics, class relations, contradictions, patterns and laws of movement in a society. One must study the birth, life and death of movements, protests, strikes, rebellions, and the nature of official organs and institutions of political life. The formula ‘intervention of the masses’ is inadequate to determine if something is a revolution or not. Add to this the tendency to see the masses intervening directly where they do not, and you have the basis for disastrous mistakes of judgement.

The science and art of revolutionary theory is to investigate both passive and active states of the masses, in order to seek out the underlying living dynamics of class conflicts and struggles. Revolutionaries must elaborate ideas that enable socialist forces to intervene in these processes, accurately gauge the direction of events and, where possible, to help shape them.

To claim that all mass protests are the same as revolutions it to apply extremely formalistic rules to complex social processes. Mechanical Marxists tend to apply the method of the Middle Ages and ancient Rome, rather than the post-Renaissance model, when considering the nature and meaning of giraffes and revolutions.

Marxism is an exciting, powerful and living revolutionary theory, precisely because it provides the tools for the inquisitive revolutionary mind to investigate new phenomena. Historical materialism provides a tool that can assist the task of finding patterns and analogies and enable us to discover what is actually happening through an analysis of real living forces.

But the method of Marxist.com is similar to a universal revolutionary cookbook replete with recipes for making revolution. This reduces revolutionary Marxism to a concoction based on voluntarism and a distorted historical materialism in which the absence of sufficient quantities of certain ingredients defeats revolutions. This method is mechanical, repetitive and meaningless except to act as a cement to miss-educate the troops of a revolutionary organisation. It produces a dogmatic over-excitement at events that require detailed and serious analysis to be understood and contextualised. 

The mechanical Marxist cookbook looks something like this:

‘According to Lenin’ there are four condition for revolution.

1.    Splits in the ruling class
2.    Vacilation of the middle classes
3.    A working class prepared to fight to the end
4.    A revolutionary party prepared to lead the working class.

In Iran last year for example, the first two conditions existed, but as the Marxist leadership of the IMT wanted the troops to be over-excited about these events, so it was claimed (by exaggeration) that the workers were prepared to fight to the end, but were just waiting for a call from above, from Mousavi.  Some more sober analysts said that the workers were not prepared to fight to the end at this stage, precisely because they did not support Mousavi. Who was proven correct?

In addition
1.    If the masses intervene there is a revolution
2.    If the revolution has no Marxist leadership it will fail.
3.    If the revolution dies down it is a lull like Russia between 1905 and 1917
4.    If there are ‘ups and downs of protests’ in a country it is like the “Spanish revolution 1931-1937”.

But one must ask why is it if the Marxist theorists are so sophisticated that their entire frame of historical reference is based primarily on analogies with revolutions in only two countries, Russia and the Spain? It seems similar to the way Caesar’s giraffe was identified as a cameleopard.

Therefore:
1.    If you want a revolution you must build a revolutionary party
2.    If the revolutionary party is not strong enough the revolutions will fail.
3.    Building the revolutionary party is the most important thing for all mankind.
4.    Anyone disputing the capacities of the leadership of the revolutionary party is either an agent of the state somewhere or a conscious or unconscious counter-revolutionary.

The characteristic of counter-revolutionaries who do not agree with Marxist.com’s definition of revolutions is that they ‘drink Herbal Tea’, but let us put our giraffe to bed before we discuss the history of teas.

...................

Some contributions mainly from IMT members on the giraffitti. Above..
Terry McPartlan
What about the Okapis? Defend those shortnecked and forest dwelling girraffids!
Yesterday at 10:09am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Damien McArthur
Damien McArthur
Okapis are not giraffes?!? Does this mean you're forming a faction Terry?
Yesterday at 10:27am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
I assure you that they always have been girraffids... Are you a revisionist?
Yesterday at 10:35am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Damien McArthur
Damien McArthur
Oh Terry! That's just typical of the attitude of those that follow the 'official line' handed down from above by the leading clique. Give something a label and if you don't entirely agree with 'the line' then you're some sort of 'counter-revolutionary traitor' or 'revisionist'. I call it a 'giraffe with peculiar characteristics'. To say otherwise is mechanical and undialectical.
Yesterday at 10:42am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
I suppose you'll argue that its short neck is proof of it not being a giraffe! Counter revolutionary nonsense. It doesn't have any spots either for that matter. They quite like tea though.
Yesterday at 10:46am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Jorge Martin
Jorge Martin
from Wikipedia on Okapis: "Unknown to Europeans until 1901"
Yesterday at 10:48am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
Yeah just after 7pm
Yesterday at 11:08am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Damien McArthur
Damien McArthur
Oh! So now you resort to using the Wikipedia homepage to publicly insult us? This is just out-and-out bullying and bureaucratic maneuvering. This is not Marxism as Trotsky defended from the Stalinists. This quote explains it “Those comrades who assert most flatly, with the greatest insistence and sometimes most brutally, that every difference of opinion... is an expression... opposed to the proletariat... to apply this criterion to bureaucratism... within the Party” The New Course (1923)
Yesterday at 11:14am · LikeUnlike · Flag
Damien McArthur
Damien McArthur
@Terry: I don't believe it...
Yesterday at 11:18am · LikeUnlike · Flag
James Reeve
James Reeve
has just "friend ed" this chap who has sent me a charming document entitled "Double agents of KGB/CIA, assassins of Trotsky, Pabloite revisions, the counter revolutionary Grantite group " think Ill make him my go to guy for understanding whats happening in the Greek section
Yesterday at 12:38pm · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
Do they have Giraffes in Greece?
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
I think you have missed the key point here Damien, the epoch we live in is going to propel Giraffes (and their short necked Okapi cousins) into the front rank of herbiverous tea chomping mammals. They are bound to take power, perhaps in an ex colonial country ... with some giraffes in.
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Paul Van Britsom
Paul Van Britsom
I'm sorry but you can giraffe all you want, I'm joining the Maoist Elephant Liberation Front... I mean if we're going to be bureaucrats, let us be good ones!
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Terry McPartlan
Terry McPartlan
Pachydermist adaptation to the trade union bureaucracy... Its a sad story
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Hamish McLaren
Hamish McLaren
As a young na... See Moreïve inexperienced comrade being ‘played’ to the net gain of a Stalinist clique prevailing at the helm of Marxist.com, I don’t know what to make of this and will have to ask the bureaucracy what I think of it. There definitely isn’t a revolutionary process going on in Iran or anywhere for that matter and the Chinese ruling class, I mean bureaucracy, I mean ruling class, I mean bureaucracy, or a portion of, are definitely opposed to the process of entrenching their position in society into property relations. I don’t even know what a giraffe is, but I am a sheep.
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Hamish McLaren
Hamish McLaren
hey, its a good video, but no cookbook!!
7 hours ago · LikeUnlike · Flag
Heiko Khoo
Heiko Khoo
I am glad you all like this! I notice the speech by Fred on the misleading subject China communist or capitalist, abandons the position of the IMT and says China is once again, "moving towards capitalism" Fred is rather confused about the matter, as is Alan in all his speeches, perhaps Jordi can correct them?


Revolution and counter-revolution in Thailand ?

posted 24 May 2010, 11:36 by Admin uk   [ updated 25 May 2010, 02:57 ]

Two excellent articles on Marxist.com gave an overview of the situation in Thailand; Thailand: how will it end and Lessons from Thailand. The latter had a rather peculiar last paragraph.

"All this proves that if the Thai workers and peasants had a revolutionary leadership, a party of the working class based on the ideas of revolutionary Marxist,(sic) with a programme to solve the pressing needs of the working people, not only the present regime, but capitalism itself could be brought tumbling down in Thailand." This gem was added by the editor of Marxist.com in London, who likes to have the last say on every issue and article.

Alan Woods, not having anointed the 'revolution' in Kyrgyzstan, (for this was spotted by lesser mortals) was not to be outdone on Thailand. So he made his first foray into 'Marxist' analysis of Thailand, based on a continuation of the above paragraph. 

In truth, the movement of the Red Shirts was smashed precisely because it lacked the support of the masses and workers in Bangkok.  (They probably have a healthy mistrust of Thaksin who inspired the movement and largely organised it.)  Again, on Marxist.com we hear of a so-called revolution. However, the Red shirts never mobilised more than 150,000 people on demonstrations in Bangkok, a city with a  population of over 8 million. What sort of revolution can only mobilise 2% of the city to support it? How could such a movement "call a general strike and move to take power" as Alan proposes?

I shall not dwell on the details but simply reproduce Alan's entire article below and ask comrades to compare this with the two articles by Joe Gold. It seems that, for the IMT leadership, revolutions are popping up everywhere. 

Revolution and Counter revolution in Thailand.

Written by Alan Woods

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Counter-revolutionary offensive

This was a situation that could not be maintained. On the one hand the government had lost control of the streets and had lost its nerve. On the other hand, the leaders of the red-shirts could not summon up the courage to call a general strike and move to take power. The lack of decisive initiative on the part of the leaders of the protest enabled Abhisit to recover his nerve. In the end, the government, pressed by the reactionaries, decided to go onto the offensive.

Abhisit repeated his determination to end the protests and gave warning that losses “will have to be endured”. This meant that a green light was being given for a crackdown by the army – irrespective of the loss of life. The army encircled the site. Demonstrators were being urged to leave, with priority given to women, children and the elderly. Those that stayed faced an uncertain fate.

The situation of the protesters was very difficult. Supplies of food and water were running low, and red-shirt reinforcements were being prevented from joining the protests. The army had a clear advantage in terms of superior weaponry and discipline. But the masses had an even more serious weapon: their willingness to die. This steely determination unnerved the ordinary Thai soldiers and made them hesitant and reluctant fighters.

On 13 May the government launched an attack on the red-Shirt protesters. In the beginning they were cautious, nervous about the outcome and doubtful about the loyalty of the troops. Western journalists reported that the soldiers seemed nervous, even frightened. They fired into the air and threw tear gas bombs. The red-shirts were not intimidated, but replied by building barricades, throwing stones and lumps of concrete, firing slings and home-made rockets and Molotov cocktails.

The big question was: what would be the result of an open clash? From a military point of view, the question answered itself. There was no way that improvised barricades and homemade rockets could stand against the discipline and firepower of a modern army. But this is not a purely military question. In the first place, behind the tanks and guns stand men, who can be powerfully influences by the sight of a people that has risen. The cohesion of the army itself is not something that can be taken for granted.

One Internet report stated:

“Sporadic clashes are occurring in Bangkok and the provinces. The Government is desperately trying to cling to power by murdering pro-democracy demonstrators.Splits are appearing in the security forces with reports of some police or army units returning fire with the advancing troops. This is indeed a civil war situation and the Government cannot hope to control the situation.” (My emphasis, AW)

Is mediation possible?

Unfortunately, the leaders of the protests had no real perspective. They called for UN-brokered talks. This had no chance of success. In the war between rich and poor there can be no referees or arbiters. There are no rules in this game. The only rule is that, in the end, one class must win and the other class must lose.

The government has rejected all offers of negotiation, saying that talks would only begin when the protesters abandoned their barricaded camp in Bangkok. On Sunday, the Thai government rejected the call by the Red Shirts for a ceasefire and UN-moderated talks. For its part, the United Nations has not even responded to this request.

Speaking in a televised address that was shown on all Thai channels, Abhisit said:

"As long as the Red Shirt protest continues, armed terrorists will remain and hurt people and authorities. Risks and violence will escalate. I insist that ending the protest is the only way to prevent losses.

"We cannot allow unlawful elements to take Bangkok hostage. We will not allow an armed group unhappy with the government to attack and hurt authorities. There is no turning back in our efforts to maintain a legal state. Losses will have to be endured. It is the only way to righteousness."

The victims of the counter-revolutionary violence are unarmed protesters. Officials say soldiers have a right to fire in self-defence. But eyewitnesses speak of trigger-happy soldiers and snipers firing from rooftops. Abhisit defended the army's actions: ''The government must move forward,'' he said. ''We cannot retreat because we are doing things that will benefit the entire country. If we want to see an end to the loss of life, the only way is to have the protesters end their protest.”

The government was playing games with the protesters’ leaders, appearing to offer concessions while systematically preparing for a bloody showdown. In order to distract public and international attention from these plans, Abhisit offered new elections – but only in November, and on condition that the mass protest ended. Even if the November election was held, why should one expect that the royalists would not overturn an unwelcome result, either by more street politics or by corrupt judges?

Sensing a trap, the Red Shirt leaders prevaricated. The Prime Minister immediately declared that his offer had been rejected, withdrew the ''road map'' to elections, and called in the army, which he had been intending to do all along.

Heroism of the insurgents

The deadly street battles between security forces and red-shirt protesters showed no sign of abating yesterday. On the contrary, fighting had spread to other parts of the capital, and also to the provinces. Nor was the firing all one way. Reporters referred to black-clad young men armed with guns returning the fire of the army. Other reports (unconfirmed) say there is evidence of some military or police returning fire in the direction of the army. The Sydney Morning Heralddescribed the scene:

“But on the streets, there is fear. Fear is in the eyes of the Red Shirts' guards standing defiantly, but nervously, at the fortified entrance to the camp.

“Full of bravado, Annan demonstrates his slingshot, pulling the rubber back and forth, aimed at a sniper, real or imaginary, in a nearby building. At his feet is a pile of rocks and lumps of concrete to hurl at oncoming troops. In his back pocket is a homemade rocket launcher fashioned from bamboo and scrap metal, to shoot fireworks at soldiers and police helicopters. They are a feeble riposte to the rifles and M-16s of the soldiers crouched behind sandbags and razor wire a few hundred metres away.

“The barricade behind which Annan stands, built up over weeks of protest, is a enormous wall of tyres and sharpened bamboo staves, four metres high. It reeks of petrol. Expecting troops to march on them any day, the Red Shirts have filled their barricades with fuel, ready to burn their city down before they give it up.

''’We are getting killed. We are all scared to get killed, but we stay.’

“But fear is written, too, on the faces of the troops on Rama IV Road, at the southern end of the Red Shirts' zone. Over loudspeakers, they plead with protesters for peace. ‘We are the people's army. We are just doing our duty for the nation. Brothers and sisters, let's talk together.' There is little hope of that.”

Under these conditions it was astonishing to see the tremendous courage and resilience of ordinary men and women: farmer’s boys, shop assistants, builders’ labourer’s and market women – all standing shoulder to shoulder in the face of bullets and armoured vehicles. This is the final answer to all the sceptics, cowards and traitors who doubt the ability of the working class to change society.

Despite fearful odds, the red-shirts stood firm, looking death straight in the eyes without flinching. An internet report by a Thai dissident living in London states: "The deputy chairman of the Bangkok Metropolitan Electricity Workers Union has brought people to join the Red Shirt protest at Rajprasong" --- Red Shirt leader just said that "We are like Spartacus!!!"

Weakness of leadership

As the death toll from four days of bloody street battles rose to 67 and hundreds more injured, the army demanded that women and children leave the area. But yesterday, save for a small group of elderly women and some children, the offer was largely ignored. The protesters were prepared to stick it out till the end. At Rajprasong they are singing "This is a class war to sweep away the autocracy”.

Unfortunately, the same determination was not shown by the leadership. Some Red Shirt leaders indicated they would be prepared to return to the negotiating table, but only if troops were immediately withdrawn from the streets and the UN brought in to mediate: "We want the UN to moderate it because we do not trust anyone else. There is no group in Thailand that is neutral enough," said Nattawut Saikua, one of the main leaders of the protest. This was naïve in the extreme.

The situation has gone far beyond the limits of legal and parliamentary institutions, which can only succeed to the degree that the decisive majority of society recognizes them as valid. But in the last analysis, all the fundamental questions will be settled outside parliament: in the streets and factories and in the army barracks. Australian journalists Walker and Farrelly wrote:

''Thailand's fatal flaw is its loss of faith in the electoral process. This loss of faith has opened the way for hardliners to pursue violent alternatives. Violence on all sides is deplorable, but remember that those who condemn the Red Shirt provocations most vigorously are also those who have consistently denied the legitimacy of their peaceful statements at the ballot box.''

The government treated the demand for UN intervention with contempt: "If they really want to talk, they should not set conditions like asking us to withdraw troops," Korbsak Sabhavasu, the Prime Minister's secretary-general, said. There was no real prospect of mediation. Behind this test of strength and willpower there is a clash between mutually exclusive interests. The government was determined to remove the protesters, and the latter were equally determined to stay where they were.

Abhisit warned that his government would not “bow to demonstrators”, and the army would move to crush the protesters. Thailand’s foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, criticized foreign diplomats for even talking to the red shirts, who he called “terrorists”. This is the authentic voice of the Thai ruling class. It is the voice of a class that is prepared to go to the end in defence of its class privileges.

But what of the leaders of the protest? From the beginning the leaders of the Red Shirts made repeated offers to negotiate with the government, all of which were rejected. The government understands what the leaders of the protest do not understand: that this movement poses a fundamental threat to the ruling class, which can only be met by the use of force.

The rank and file was prepared to fight. But at the last minute the UDD leadership announced from the stage that they were giving themselves up to the police and ending the protest because they “cannot stand to see more deaths”. By showing weakness the leaders gave the green light to the army to attack, knowing that they would meet no resistance.

This will have had a profoundly depressing effect on the mass movement. The same leaders who have been encouraging them to resist now tells them to surrender. Reports from Bangkok say that the rank and file women and men in the protest site are very angry about this. That is not surprising. The history of class struggle shows that it is better to go down to defeat fighting than to surrender without a fight.

The fight for democracy

The achievement of true democracy is not possible without the overthrow of the oligarchy. But the overthrow of the oligarchy is not possible without the overthrow of the Thai monarchy. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 82 and in poor health. But he is a rallying-point for all the forces of reaction.

The International Marxist Tendency expresses its firm support for the revolutionary movement of the Thai masses. We stand for the immediate resignation of the Abhisit government and the holding of free and democratic elections. We defend all democratic rights, and above all the right of the people to organize, to protest and to strike. In order to guarantee these rights we demand the calling of a constituent assembly to elaborate a genuinely democratic constitution, the first point of which must be the abolition of the monarchy.

It is said that the Thai monarchy is a venerable institution, sanctified by religion and the power of an age-old tradition. But that could also have been said of the Romanov dynasty in tsarist Russia. But it only took one bloody clash on the ninth of January 1905 for all the old monarchist prejudices to be swept from the minds of the Russian people. Whatever the immediate result of the present bloody clashes on the streets of Bangkok, they will have the same effect.

The burning hatred of the government of the rich will inevitably be transferred to that bulwark of privilege, the monarchy. The demand for a Republic will grow, uniting broad layers of the masses. And with each step forward the masses take, it will become clear that the only way forward is through a government of workers and poor farmers.

As in all countries, so in Thailand, the institution of monarchy is not merely a meaningless survival of the past, a colourful but essentially meaningless anachronism, something for the tourists to admire. It is a bulwark of reaction, a symbol of property, power, wealth and privilege, a rallying point for all the forces of the counter-revolution. It must be swept aside if the revolution is to advance.

As we write these words, the fate of the mass protest movement in Bangkok is being settled. Given the capitulation of the leadership, it seems likely that the first round will end in a defeat. But this explosion of the class struggle will have profound consequences. Thailand will never be the same again. Whatever government emerges from a chaotic situation will be inherently unstable. No lasting settlement is possible on the present basis. New upheavals are inevitable.

The revolutionary democratic movement has been filled with class content. It will inevitably go beyond the bounds initially set by the leadership. It is in the interest of the Thai working class to fight for the most advanced democratic demands. Only by clearing away all the old feudal rubbish can the workers achieve the necessary conditions for developing the class struggle. But the workers will fight for democracy with their own class weapons: it is necessary to call a general strike to bring down the government!

A general strike, organized through action committees, is the only way to disorganize the counter-revolutionary forces and to give organizational form and cohesion to the revolutionary movement of the masses. The conquest of democracy would require the complete revolutionary reconstruction of Thai society from top to bottom. And this aim can only be achieved when the working class places itself at the head of society to overthrow the hated oligarchy, following the example of the Russian workers and peasants in 1917.

London, 19th May, 2010.

Critique of explanation on Marxist.com concerning the BNP

posted 13 May 2010, 16:33 by Admin uk   [ updated 21 May 2010, 03:03 ]

KarlMarx.net has received the following regarding a Socialist Appeal article by Rob Sewell and Fred Weston on In Defence of Marxism website  

http://www.marxist.com/britains-contradictory-election-results.htm 

The following is an excerpt from the article with critical comments in caps. 

<As we have seen, in the local elections, Labour did well. They managed to seize back Sheffield and Liverpool councils from the Lib Dems and wiped out the British National Party in Barking and Dagenham, which lost all its 12 councillors. The BNP were also hammered by Labour in Stoke, forcing it into third place, and in Burnley. Across the country they lost 24 seats and only managed to hold on to a mere 19. 

This shows the weakness of the BNP which can be swept aside when the class moves. CAN THIS ELECTION REALLY BE DESCRIBED AS “THE CLASS MOVES” ? I THOUGHT THE PREDOMINANT TREND WAS A SWING, ESEPCIALLY AMONG THAT SECTION OF THE WORKING CLASS THE RESEARCHERS CALL THE C2s, TO THE TORIES. Again, the analysis of the Marxists on the so-called “threat of fascism” was confirmed. NOT EVEN THE MOST ULTRA LEFT CLAIMED THERE WAS A THREAT OF FASCISM. BUT 12 BNP COUNCILLORS HAD BEEN ELECTED AND NOBODY COULD KNOW FOR SURE THAT THEY WOULD NOT MAKE FURTHER ADVANCES. We have explained that the historical basis for fascism has been whittled away during decades in which the overwhelming majority of the population has been proletarianised. THOUGH GENERALLY TRUE THIS COMPLETELY FAILS TO EXPLAIN HOW THE BNP GET 12 COUNCILLORS ELECTED. Not so long ago the media was full of reports about the “racism” of working class people in places like Dagenham. Now what will they have to say? With a greater turnout of working class voters, the BNP was smashed, and all its seats were lost to Labour. WHY WAS THERE A HIGHER TURNOUT – PERHAPS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THE BNP SUCCESS AND THE MASSIVE PUBLICITY AND CAMPAIGN ALERTED MANY VOTERS TO THE DANGER? 

Labour succeeded in gaining fourteen councils, including Enfield, Coventry, Doncaster, Hartlepool, Oxford and St Helens, and increasing its number of councillors nationally by nearly 400. The London borough of Newham is 100% Labour, with all the opposition cleared out. It also regained Barnet. In Tower Hamlets, we have more Labour councillors today than at any time since 1982. In London as elsewhere, the areas where most Blacks and Asians live came out solidly for Labour. 

Labour held on and advanced in most of its working class strongholds. In Barking, Nick Griffin of the BNP was standing, hoping to build on their earlier successes in the council elections. But Labour pushed Nick Griffin into third place, a humiliating experience which will no doubt provoke a crisis inside the BNP, and possibly even splits at a later stage. 

It is a fact that the workers rallied to Labour to defeat the racists. The UAF’s role was minimal, simply trying to frighten people by shouting about the “dangers of fascism”. Apart from a few leaflets, all their propaganda was concentrated upon calling for workers to vote anything, including the Tories or UKIP, but not the BNP. This reveals the total lack of understanding of the UAF as to what is really required. Right-wing Tories and UKIP are equally racist. Therefore to call for a vote for these parties as if they were somehow better is utter nonsense, and working class people cannot connect to such propaganda. (our emphasis) DESPITE THE POLITICAL WEAKNESSES OF UAF THIS IS A PETTY SECTARIAN ATTACK WHICH INSULTS HUNDREDS, INDEED THOUSANDS OF SINCERE ACTIVISTS OVER THE PAST YEAR, WHO HAVE WORKED IN THE LOCAL AREA FROM THE BEST OF MOTIVES. A QUICK INTERNET SEARCH WOULD HAVE REVEALED TO THE AUTHORS THAT THERE HAS BEEN A BIG AND SUSTAINED CAMPAIGN WHICH ALMOST CERTAINLY CONTRIBUTED TO PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE BNP DANGER. 

What the vote in Barking and Dagenham reveals is that after a period on the council the BNP has been exposed somewhat, and despite a poor official campaign by Labour, THE AUTHORS HAVE SPENT MUCH INK RIDICULING THE SO-CALLED ‘SECTS’ FOR THEIR ELECTORAL FAILURE AND LAUDING THEIR OWN UNDERSTANDING OF LABOUR’S ROLE FROM THE COMFORT OF THEIR OFFICES BUT THEY MADE NO CONTRIBUTION TO ANY REAL CAMAPIGN OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER  workers rallied to vote Labour into Parliament and the council, taking 51 seats out of 51.> 

THE PURPOSE OF THIS BIZARRE ATTACK IS UTTERLY SECTARIAN. Their much vaunted “analysis of fascism” is elevated to a timeless and totally unmarxist determinism that ignores the complex of factors at work in local situations. It's not true that there was some huge movement of the class. And local election results are often times for protest votes etc. Sewell and Weston are just smearing the other left groups (who do have a tendency to exaggerate the threat) in order to innoculate their own small group of supporters against them. These methods contribute nothing to the fight against the fascists, who do cause real and serious damage within many of our communities – and even less for the struggle to build support for the socialist alternative.

Note
although the following is not a Marxist analysis by any means it does demonstrate some familiarity with the realities of the campaign:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/14/general-election-2010-fall-bnp

The Communist Person - The ideal

posted 6 May 2010, 04:44 by Admin uk

Let’s Define the Communist Person 

David van Wyk 

To do so one will have to look at scattered references in the work of Karl Marx. Marxists like David Mclellan, Ernst Mandel and Bikhu Parekh have also made some comments on this topic. I will draw heavily on an article by Parekh published in 1975 in a collection of works edited by him, titled The Concept of Socialism (London: Helm Groom).

By way of introduction, let me dispel some commonly held myths, mainly the products of people who do not bother to read Marxist literature, but none the less claim expertise in the matter:
1. The Soviet Union – The Bolshevik revolution started out as a Marxist revolution, but because of international isolation, the invasion of the country by at least four western powers in 1918 and the destruction of the working class in the civil war that ensued, the experiment ended with a dictatorship controlled by a party, run by a bureaucracy which together formed a type of state capitalism in which the state owned the means of production, the bureaucracy managed production and the working class was left without any rights or power. A truly communist society is one in which workers control the means of production and determine the major questions of what is to be produced, how much is to be produced, the time frames within which such production takes place etc. Any hope of communism in the Soviet Union died with Lenin in 1924. His successor Stalin killed more communists than even Hitler, who killed 6 million Jews, many of whom were communists and three million communists in Germany alone.
2. The Peoples Republic of China – This is much more of a corporatist state, the ideal state for 21st Century capitalism. China has achieved double figure growth rates over the last 25 years exactly because it is such an attractive place for capitalists to invest in. Why? Because the Chinese labour force has been nationalized and is being rented out to capitalist as cheap labour. Workers in China have no rights to strike, to form unions or to freely associate. Capitalists can rake in huge profits given the fact that the labour force is policed by the state and the state takes care of all other costs associated with labour. There are no conditions that will hamper maximizing profit on investment. Big business no doubt would love to see the entire planet emulate this wonderful investment climate!
3. Communism is when the state owns and controls everything – Marx called for the withering away of the state altogether, and for the free association of workers and producers to replace it.
4. Communism means everyone must wear exactly the same clothes, earn exactly the same income, go to exactly the same schools etc. This is also pure nonsense, usually propagated by conservatives who would have use believe that communism is about crude egalitarianism, or turning the world into an ant heap.



A Communist Person is a

a) Natural being
b) Human being
c) Conscious being
d) Universal being
e) Species being

A Communist Person as a Natural Being

As human beings we are naturally endowed with certain faculties and powers and therefore with definite identifiable needs. These needs are satisfied by distinctive modes, ways, of appropriation and gratification. We all need food, water, shelter and clothing. Thanks to the activism of communist activists these needs are now recognized as universal human needs.

Despite this recognition in countries where the market economy dominates food, water, shelter and clothing are saleable commodities and only those with access to money are able to realize these rights. In South Africa there are large swathes of rural people in remote areas who exist in money less conditions and are therefore denied these rights, this is also the case in other market economies, including the USA.

Our needs drive us to strive towards gratification that is sating our hunger and thirst, seeking shelter, or putting on clothes to protect us from the weather. Our bodies drive us to this, an empty stomach equals hunger, the need to reproduce equals sexual intercourse, our bodies experiencing cold drives us to cover ourselves etc. Denying any person the satisfaction of these basic needs means denying them their very human nature. Insisting that these needs be dealt with as commodities implies that market economies are very inhumane.

How do we best satisfy these needs? We do so collectively. Thus the veggies on our table are the product of the collective labour of farm workers, transport workers, processing workers, wholesale and retail workers etc. etc. Huge numbers of people are mobilized daily so that we are able to realize our basic needs. In a market based economy there is massive alienation because the farm worker getting a minimum wage of R800 per month is often unable to put a decent plate of food on the table for his family even though he is a producer of food.

All these workers collectively ensure that there is food in our society, yet the profit of their labour accrues not to them who did the physical work but to them who own the productive property in society, the means of production: the farm owner, the owner of the transport company, the owner of the retail or wholesale outlet etc. This causes a second level of alienation. The product of a workers labour does not belong to him or her in a capitalist economy.

A Communist Person as a Human Being

We are not merely natural beings, we are also human beings. To understand the difference between a human being and other natural beings it is necessary to compare our total life activities with theirs. Our total live activities are those activities we must undertake to remain alive. As we express our lives, so we are. We are what we produce and how we produce it. Our productive activity is what distinguishes us from other animals. Our productive activities differs from those of other animals because we posses four capacities which they do not to the same degree,
- we are conscious
- we are free
- we are universal, and
- we are species beings.

The communist person as a conscious being:

Animals are also conscious and the do recognize other animals, distinguish between their own species and outsiders, recognize danger etc. Animal consciousness is so limited, however, that it can be referred to as instinct. The animal cannot be distinguished from its life activity. It sleeps, defecates, hunts, eats etc. in a manner that has been pre-determined genetically, instinctually. A weaverbird can make a perfect shaped nest, but it can only do so in exactly the same way as all other weaver birds before it.

Unlike other animals, human beings are able to distance themselves from their live activities, their environment and even from themselves. We are therefore able to transform our natural environment to suite our needs. We are able to express ourselves in art and poetry. We are able to abstract ourselves etc.

The communist person as a free being.

Unlike animals we are free in two senses. An animal engages in its life activity, its production, only when compelled to do so by immediate physical needs, while we humans can produce when we are free from physical need. In fact we produce so much better when we are free from physical need.

German, Swedish and Japanese workers are a good example of this. Because they are free from physical needs, given the high standards of living achieved in their countries, they are amongst the most creative and productive workers in the world. In Japan many of their basic needs are taken care of by the state. Thus since the end of World War 2 Japan has had virtually free education from cradle to university. Sweden and Germany are both renowned for their social welfarism, taking care of their worker’s basic needs.

Secondly, an animal’s product belongs to its immediate physical body. The animal hunts and immediately eats its prey. The animal does not first prepare the prey by cooking it, or improving it by all the means that human beings do so. We are able to see the products of our labour as being separate from ourselves. We can visualize a table, chairs, cupboards etc. from just looking at a piece of wood. We can transform that piece of wood into all kinds of products should we apply our labour to it. We are therefore freely creative.
The communist person as a universal being.

An animal’s productive activity is confined to limited parts of nature. Some animals can only exist in jungles, others only on grassland, others only in water etc. Human beings on the other hand are able to make the entire planet their field of action. We are currently experimenting with even making our solar system and beyond our field of action. Our human consciousness is therefore unlimited and we are able to make the entire universe the object of our will and awareness, study and manipulate it.

The communist person as species-being

We have many capacities which other animals do not have, such as the capacity to think, reason, judge, act, know, will, plan, anticipate, etc. This is what defines us as a species

A communist person strives to integrate all the above aspects of being human because it is these things after all which makes us human.

Our striving for freedom forces us to engage with nature, because our freedom is limited by natural impediments such as cold, heat, dark, inhospitable environments etc. Nature imposes external and internal limitations on us. The external limitations being those I mentioned above. The internal limitations refers to our biology: We are not particularly fast, we do not have huge teeth, our sense of small and sight are rather limited, we are not covered in fur. On the evolutionary scale we are rather puny. If we are to be fully free and fully human we must always strive to overcome these limitations on our freedom and the entire history of our technological development is evidence of this struggle to overcome natural limitations. We constantly humanize nature. Industry, our collective work and interdependence humanizes external nature and through that, our own internal nature.

We have done so by developing our culinary skills, art, music, architecture, games, literature etc. These are all ways of exercising our natural senses in sophisticated, skillful, and human and therefore free ways.

We become humanized through each other’s help. In expressing your powers, Ms Chasu, you benefit and enrich me. Thus, believe it or not I am enriched by the blogs you post, they are entertaining and informative. By posting them unselfishly you are behaving like a communist.

Enriched, I am better able to appreciate and criticize your products (blogs in this instance) and to set you higher standards at which to aim. In educating me through your blogs, you do not suffer any loss; on the contrary you benefit as much as me (perhaps I get you to think beyond the limits of your current vision). Thus we grow together, all of us who are sharing this blogsite. But this is true for every productive human interaction out there as well. In human life we constantly appropriate each other. We are all dependent on one another, this is the essence of communism.

By putting us in competition, by claiming that it is human nature to compete, that it is human nature to be aggressive and violent, that it is human nature to be selfish and greedy, conservative philosophers, especially those who espouse capitalism are denying us our real human nature.

Not all of us can be musicians, artists, actors, engineers, scientists etc. but we can all appreciate the social value that each of us brings to the smooth functioning of society. So Marxism does not say that every person should be equally rewarded for what they do, or that they should all do exactly the same things. Marxism calls for us all to recognize and appreciate that which others contribute, while expecting the same appreciation for what we do. In capitalist countries doctors are far more appreciated than street cleaners and most doctors study medicine not because they are concerned about health, they do so because they wish to live in mansions, drive porches and marry beauty queens. Yet, the work of street cleaners is as important to the health and well being of communities as that of doctors. The crudest, crassest forms of materialism is found in capitalist societies where the value of a person is judged by the size of his bank account, the car that he drives, the suite that he wears etc.

In appreciating your blog entries, I appropriate your writing sense and skills, which now become as much mine as yours. In giving me new senses, you have refined your on. If you had withheld your powers, the many other readers and I would have suffered a loss, but so would you. Properly defined individual and social interests always coincide. Thus communism is not the anti-individualist philosophy it is often painted to be, it is in fact the only philosophy that will allow for the essence of human individuality to be realized.

In helping me become a human being, you become one yourself; in destroying my humanity, you destroy yours as well. This is why Apartheid could never work; it attempted to build the humanity of a minority while destroying that of the majority. Marx summed it up, “mutual completion… leads to truly human life.”


The communist person is energetic and active, constantly striving to objectify his or her powers. The communist person is demanding, requiring opportunities to exercise his or her powers and to acquire those that the species is constantly developing. The communist person is able to make his or her own distinctive contribution to the enrichment of his fellow humans and mediating between them and the species. The communist person has humanized all his or her senses and relations to the world and is revolted and outraged by anything that reflects inhumanity, meanness, cruelty and suffering. The communist person is united with nature and finds delight in beauty and diversity, and is above all proud of being human, has a sense of self worth, self respect, a love for independence and a sense of dignity. A communist person refuses to subject others to his power or to be subject, devoted and obedient to them him or herself.

Forward to Democratic Centralism – A Reply to the IS

posted 3 May 2010, 11:16 by Admin uk   [ updated 3 May 2010, 12:17 ]

We are held together by a common understanding of the world, by the ideas of Marxism. This should be the basis of every debate and discussion in our organisationAs Scientific Socialists we strive for clarity in order that we can arm ourselves for the task of changing society. I’m afraid that the reply from the IS does not provide clarity, it muddies the waters. It is a constant refrain that we seek to raise the level of the comrades. I am hoping that we can take this debate up to a much higher level in order that the forces of Marxism can grow in Britain and on a world scale.  

 

Method 

 

This is a debate about method and I will start by setting out what I will not do. 

 

Unlike the IS reply I am going to focus on the ideas and the politics, not individuals. The IS reply ridicules individuals, it assigns ideas and intentions to these people which have no basis in evidence. The best example of this is that, “comrade JC is completely ignorant, not just about the history of Bolshevism, but about every other aspect of Marxist theory”. So why did the IS then nominate him to the IEC for 18 years?! It is also implied that this the ‘faction’ is the the work of two saboteurs, Pand HK,who are seeking another go at the arguments raised by the Democratic Platform, a faction formed following the 91/92 split, having been defeated some years ago. Comrades this is a rhetorical device to distract and confuse us.

 

Similarly the accusations of ‘capitulation to the Chinese bureaucracy. Quite apart from the fact that this is nonsense- the comrades are defending a position that the Tendency has argued for decades on the basis of a thoroughgoing study of the processes taking place in China and on a world scale- it is also an attempt to smear the opponent. I will also not be making judgements about people’s lifestyles, which I think detracts from the arguments.

 

I am not going to search for the most apt quote from Lenin or Trotsky etc. to lend weight to the arguments. Again our method must not be to try and ascribe authority just on the basis of something said or written by them in 1906 or 1912 etc. We must and do of course learn from them, but not simply transpose the ideas on today’s conditions. Marxism after all is a method. The recent documents on the Spanish split descended to the level of ‘quote wars’ which is unhelpful.

 

I am hoping that this debate does not become a question of loyalty to the leadership. ‘Trust us – we are the leadership’ as outlined by AW and EG in Against Bureaucratic Centralism all those years ago. We should be loyal to the ideas of revolutionary socialism, organisation flows from this. Instead we are seeing what looks to me like a siege mentality that is being built up in our organisation. Who are our enemies ? If we have the best ideas why do we care what the sects think !?

 

 

Leadership

 

The Comintern had colossal authority on the basis of having lead a revolution. It is said we must have a ‘sense of proportion’. Our connection to the real movement of the working class is very weak. The leadership of our Tendency has carried the torch – the IBF statement acknowledges the role that the leadership has played but we mustn’t fool ourselves that we have a mass influence.Yes, we’ve lead some struggles. We do not yet speak for the working class or sections of the working class.

 

So how do we build a mass tendency within the movement? I don’t believe we will do so if we employ methods which present a monotone face to workers and youth who are prepared to listen to us. Again, the arguments in the document are misrepresented. The basic rules that are described are not the rules of democratic centralism, that is the point ! We want to build a cadre organisation. What is a cadre ? It is someone who can think for themselves, who can apply the method of Marxism in the circumstances in which they find themselves.

 

An organisation of cadres- leaders amongst the working class would naturally be a highly centralised organisation. Centralisation cannot be imposed ! However, I am not arguing that the IS is a monstrous totalitarian dictatorship- which is gross misrepresentation of the arguments presented in the document. In fact, behind the document is the understanding that what is needed is a highly disciplined, highly centralised combat organisation to lead the working class to victory.

 

The supporters of the IBF document do not reject leadership. We reject bureaucratism which is a danger in any organisation. I am only too aware of this having been a full-time lay representative in my trade union for 3 years. I try to keep this in check, not least by studying the ideas of Marxism and discussing with comrades on a regular basis. We do not reject democratic centralism. What we reject is a set of rules based on ‘tradition’ or rather the interpretation of that tradition.

 

 

What Is Democratic Centralism ?

 

So what is democratic centralism ? It is full and free discussion and unity in action. But what does this mean ?

 

We must approach this is a dialectical way. There will be of course depending on the circumstances, be more discussion at times and then the focus will be on action.Agreement can only be reached through discussion. No one is suggesting that we never take decisions and then act on them in a disciplined manner. But what do we mean byaction? That is the point.

 

The correctness of a theoretical position cannot be settled by a Congress vote. Yes we can and we should take a decision what our political line is. But whether we are right or not will be settled by the movement of the classes. Our ideas have to be tested by events. Democracy is not always black and white. In a strike or an insurrection it is. We vote and the majority decides, then we enforce the discipline of the majority on the picket lines and the barricades. These are fundamental conditions of our class outlook.

 

On the strike, I must deal with the very strange assertion made in the IS reply as to those workers who argue against the strike. The attitude of workers towards a non-union member or even a union member who argues against a strike is very different that that of someone who argue for it and then goes to work. Yes, it is wrong to cross a picket line. But workers will argue against it, will vote against it but will still respect the majority decision in the main. And the discussion will continue on the picket line.

 

To suggest that minority positions are to be withheld from public view is absurd and indeed is impossible in the age of mass communication technology. I am not suggesting that comrades should be able to publish what they like with no regard for the political line of the organisation, the integrity of our publications and our position in the movement. However I ask how does publishing a minority view – a view which may be correct- harm our work ? How does it break our ‘unity in action’ ? A refusal to do so points more towards the importance of leadership prestige than developing the ideas of Marxism. Should we wait until the questions of theory are settled by events in order to correct a position that has been falsified by events ? How seriously will workers and youth take us if this is to be the case ? The integrity of our publications have been asserted and quite rightly. So how can we publish the views of Brian J Baker, who isn’t a comrade, who made some pretty bold assertions about climate change, but yet do not allow the views, which are consistent with a Marxist approach on China, however strongly comrades may disagree, to be publicly available ?

 

It is also false to assert that we are trying to impose a minority view on the ‘majority’ on any issue. The point is that being in the minority does not make you wrong. I’m not going to quote Lenin but it is suffice to say that he was in the minority some 10 times. In the most famous example was on his return in 1917 when he found himself in a minority of one. Russia was in the grip of a revolution ! The April Theses were published in a newspaper. This is how Lenin won the Party to his position which corrected their course towards the revolutionary seizure of power.

 

Turning towards the treatment of differences inside our organisation. In fact, the rank and file do not hear of disagreements within our own organisation until it becomes even too late or too envenomed to deal with without fear of splits or expulsions. The leading bodies have disputes and disagreements but a united front is presented to the body ‘below’ that and so on. So how comrades who find themselves in a minority defend their ideas ? A number of amendments and resolutions were put through branches to British Congress by comrades who supported the IBF and requested faction rights in the British Section. This was following a refusal to grant these rights on the basis that there was not a principled basis for a faction (And by the way British comrades were not responsible in anyway for the IBF Intranet). Every one of these, apart from one, was opposed by the British CC. Were these all opposed on a principled basis ? I believe that they weren’t, in fact, they were opposed in order to crush and demoralise the comrades who had submitted them.

 

No one took a light-minded step to seek faction rights. Quite the contraryAgain the document mischaracterises the position put forward. No one is saying that the ban on factions in 1921 was what lead to Stalinism ! Trotsky himself said that this was a mistake, that it ‘signalled the end of the heroic period of Bolshevism’. The history of Bolshevism is a history of factions, groups, sections and wings- whatever word you prefer. What lead to Stalinism was the objective conditions. The decision to ban factions was in response to the objective conditions. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake or that we are saying it lead to Stalinism !

 

Information And The Fear Of Paralysis

 

The leadership’s fear of paralysis appears to be due to an inability to respond to the theoretical arguments and a lack of confidence in their political authority. No one is saying there hasn’t been debates and discussion but the low level in the debates on China and Capitalist Crisis are a sign of this fear. Where are the docs that were promised ? The leadership hasn’t had the time ? Well, why not so why not get one or a group of the cadres to draft them under the IS’ supervison ?! AW has found time to produce a wealth of material on the Roman Empire, Art and other subjects. This is invaluable for the comrades and is essential in raising the level of comrades. But this I think reveals a lack of confidence in the rank and file membership to develop ideas..

 

The resolutions to ban facebook sites and intranet sites appear quite desparate. If the IS and IEC were confident of their political authority why are they worried about comrades using these new forms of technology to discuss across branches, section and borders ? If they are confident that they are developing cadres then why the ban ? Security, from the state, the labour bureaucracy or the sects (who we are told don’t matter !) is a red herring. If these people really want to know what we think, what we are doing they’ll find out. After all MI5 recorded all our CC meetings in the Militant didn’t they ?!

 

Mistakes have been made. But the leadership should have welcomed the intranet as an ongoing Internal Bulletin ! No one is suggesting that there should not be branches or leading bodies- another absurd assertion in the IS document. This would in fact supplement and indeed enhance democracy. Rank and file comrades would be better informed and discussions would be at a much higher level. We are not living in the 1930s ! Yes, most workers do not have time and inclination to read and to study. But we are after all, not most workers. We are supposed to be cadres, who make sacrifices of time and effort to develop ourselves theoretically. This is hard. But we have joined an organisation which seeks the overthrow of Capitalism and the construction of a new society.

 

This goes back to the siege mentality that has been built up. There is the implication that some comrades are infected with Anarchist ideas, petit-bourgeois dilettantism that is a result of the pressures of Capitalist ideology. The implication is that these comrades are weak and that those that support the IS are strong, true to Marxism. We are told to Rally to the Party ! Show some loyalty and trust in the leadership! The implication is only too apparent.Comrades, trust is a two-way street.

 

Splits And Crisis

 

The loss of the comrades in a number of sections through splits and individual resignations is of concern to us all. It is painful both on a personal and political basis. It requires analysis while the need to continue the work to build remains. In fact the two are connected. Building a cadreorganisation will not be possible if we do not approach this analysis in the right way. In relation to the British section three comrades have left in the last year who were of long standing and a high theoretical level. They were all active Trade Unionists and two of them held important positions in the movement. They had all been on the Central Committee and had helped hold our forces together in an extremely difficult period – a sort of prehistory for our organisation as Comrade RS puts it- where the objective conditions were against us. Are we going to adequately explore why they left and orientate accordingly or look for the easy option- to blame the actions of HK or other convenient hate figures ?

 

We have never said that there is a guarantee against splits. We are trying to understand WHY they happen. The leadership is only as strong as it’s membership and vice-versaWe are weak and it is this weakness that leads to splits and expulsions. Why are we weak ? Because we have failed thus far to build a cadre organisation. But I amnot a harbinger of doom. We have the ideas and the method of Marxism and this is what gives us the confidence and optimism to win workers and youth to our ranks. We must carry out an honest assessment of how we got to this point and how we are to move forward, because no one else is going to do it for us.

 

BACK TO BOLSHEVISM !

 

FORWARD TO DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM !

 

VICTORY TO THE INTERNATIONAL WORKINGCLASS !


MW

April 2010

 

 

p.s. I took no pleasure in hearing the reports from a number of comrades of the IEC, which run counter to the account of a calm atmosphere. Comrade MB confirmed at the British Congress that a comrade at IEC had referred to the IBF as a ‘whore house/knocking shop’ depending on the translation. This is a disgrace and what is even more worrying is that Comrade AW seemed to support this characterisation. Quite apart from this language that is unacceptable in a Marxist organisation the Comrade MB stated that there was a lynch atmosphere at this meeting. It was obvious to me that he felt intimidated in raising the issue during the IEC.

Marxist.com in turmoil over Pakistan!

posted 26 Apr 2010, 03:27 by Admin uk   [ updated 26 Apr 2010, 13:46 ]

Pakistan: The 18th constitutional amendment and power cuts

Written by Jorge Martin Friday, 23 April 2010

Comments from KarlMarx.net in red
Words in blue from orginal highlighted for emphasis


In 2008 the people of Pakistan voted into office the PPP, hoping that this would bring genuine change, i.e. a real improvement in their living conditions. Instead we have a worsening economic situation, real suffering of the millions of poor, and warfare killing many innocent civilians. Meanwhile the PPP leadership is busying itself applying the IMF-imposed policies of cuts and privatisations. In these conditions it is not surprising that many are asking themselves what democracy has meant for them.

As the Pakistani official political scene was dominated by the debate on the 18th Constitutional amendment, which basically does away with the undemocratic provisions introduced by different military governments in the past, the majority of ordinary Pakistanis were wondering what democracy has really meant for them.

Leaflet produced by the Pakistani Marxists condemning the recent killing of innocent people in Abbottabad who were protesting against change of name of their province.
The country’s population is facing severe economic problems, prolonged power cuts (or as they are officially called “load shedding”), high inflation, cuts in public spending, etc. To this we have to add all the side effects of the US “war on terror” in Afghanistan: the killing of innocent civilians in Pakistan’s tribal belt, both by the Pakistani army and the CIA drone bombers and increased terrorist attacks in the country’s main urban centres.

Ever since it came to power the PPP government of president Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani made it clear that they were committed to continue support for the US war against “insurgents” and that its economic policies would not substantially change. The PPP government first a coalition with the country’s main right wing party, Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League, and then just with the extreme right wing MQM went cap in hand to the IMF in November 2008 asking for assistance. The IMF has given Pakistan an $11.3billion emergency loan, which, as in the case of all IMF loans, comes with heavy impositions and conditionalities. These include very strict deficit to GDP ratios, the introduction of VAT taxation [tax on goods and services] and the phasing out of fuel, electricity and water price subsidies.

These measures have severely hit the population. With temperatures reaching levels of 45C, power cuts in Islamabad last at times 22 hours a day, in other places these are 10 to 12 hours, depriving people of the use of fans, air conditioning and even cold water. There have already been riots and demonstrations in several parts of the country in protest at these power cuts. We have already reported on the demonstrations in Islamabad (Islamabad protests show explosive situation) What were the so called "anti-government slogans" in the Rawalpindi riots that Alan Woods got so carried away about? Let me help you..."Down with Zardari! Long Live the ARMY!" i.e these are slogans demanding the fall of the PPP. The riots were organised by the right wing government of the Punjab, demanding a military dictatorship! and the ones in Rawalkot which were led by the Marxists of The Struggle (Masses erupt against power cuts in Rawlakot). In Lahore, protesters blocked roads by setting tyres on fire, and chanted anti-government slogans. In the last few days alone, demonstrations have also been held in Khairpur Mirus, Murree and Quetta, amongst other cities.

Pakistani Marxists leading protests against power cuts in Rawlakot.
Power cuts are also affecting basic economic activity as many industrial areas are also suffering 8-hour power cuts. Steel furnaces throughout the country were forced to close down for a few days this week, leaving 15,000 day workers without any income, as a result of Pakistan Electric Power Company’s decision to cut the power supply to them. There seems to be no solution in sight to this problem, as PEPCO Director General Muhammad Khalid reported that problems will easy in June-July, with the coming online of a number of power plants, which would reduce power cuts to only 6 to 8 hours, but that load shedding would continue for another three years! No one is likely to believe his promises, as last year he had already committed himself to putting an end to power cuts by December 2009.

Just to make sure everybody knows who is boss, the IMF has delayed the transfer of the fifth tranche of its emergency loan to Pakistan, as the country has not fulfilled all the agreed criteria. Zardari’s government begged for some leniency and a couple of amendments were agreed. The budget deficit will be allowed to reach 5.1% instead of the 4.9% initially insisted on, and the very important measure of lifting subsidies on the prices of electricity, water and fuel (originally scheduled for April 1) may be delayed until August. This measure on its own could cause a social explosion.

Protests in Karachi on Bolshevik Day 2008.
The commitments with the IMF will mean an acceleration of the privatization plans of the government. So far, the PPP-led coalition government has only carried out one privatization, not so much for lack of willingness to privatize, but because of the negative economic environment due to the international economic crisis. In the case of the proposed privatisation of Qadirpur gas field, the plans were temporarily abandoned because of strong opposition on the part of the workers in which the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign was heavily involved (Bolshevik Day in Pakistan 2008).

However, this was only a temporary retreat, as Prime Minister Gilani made clear when announcing the measure in November 2008: “The PPP will only take those steps, which are in the interest of the people and privatization of Qadirpur (gas fields) will be finalized only when there will be across the board consensus in the house”.

Advertisment for consultant to help with  privatisation of Pakistani postal service.
The government had in fact approved a list of companies for privatisation in the 2008-09 fiscal year including, "Hazara Phosphate Fertilizer Limited; Small Medium Enterprises Bank; Faisalabad Electrical Supply Company, Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press; Pakistan Machine Tool Factory; Larkana Coal Mining Project; Khewra Salt Mines; MORAFCO Industries Ltd; Sindh Engineering Co Ltd and Services International Hotel." In the end, only Hazara Phosphate could be privatised, but now the PPP-led government, having agreed with the IMF to cut the budget deficit, is speeding up privatisation plans again. 

At the beginning of April, Minister of Privatisation, Waqar Ahmed Khan, announced privatization plans for 58 state owned entities, 23 of them to be fast tracked. Amongst those, the first ones to be privatized will be Faisalabad Electric Supply Companies (FESC) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), but the list includes railways, postal services, oil and gas, mining, electricity and other utilities, banks, etc.

Furthermore, the government is "restructuring" all these companies in order to make them more attractive to foreign investors. In a press release on January 19, privatisation minister declared that, "prior to the privatisation of 80 State Owned Entities (SOEs) their financial remodeling would be conducted to double their assets and balance sheets and to improve their management structure for making them attractive for multinational companies for taking part in their privatisation process." All of a sudden we are told the govenment has "plans" and has "approved" privatisation, yet over the last months we were told the Government has carried out mass privatisation and that Manzoor helped them!

The Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS) through which shares in state owned and formerly state owned companies are given to workers is a preparation for this process. n.b. workers in companies that were ALREADY privatised under PREVIOUS governments get 12% of the shares (which by the way cannot be sold!). The calculation is that once the workers become share-holders they will feel that the interest of the company is their own interest and there will be less resistance to privatization. But you and your great leader, Dr. Lal Khan in Pakistan, told us that BESOS "is privatization" now you tell us it is "a sweetener" to make privatization attractive, don't think your trickery goes unnoticed!. When this scheme was first announced, the reaction of the Islamabad Stock Exchange was clearly favourable. According to a report in the Business Recorder:

"Brokers claimed that the presence of SOEs employee on the board would provide support to the privatisation programme of the government. When the representative of the employees would be present on the board, it might facilitate the interest of privatisation process. It would also prevent any kind of agitation or negative campaign against the privatisation of state owned entities."

So if some "Brokers claimed" that, Marxists determine their policy by what they say?

The handing out of shares to workers may be popular among those layers concerned. !!! U TURN!!! How come this is popular? It appears to be free money and a share in the dividends. Oh now it appears to be "free money", (the exact phrase came from our interview with Manzoor, before we were told it was outright privatisation! But we have seen these methods applied in the past. Thatcher boasted about having created a “share-owning democracy”. There was a “mad dash for shares” in British Telecom in 1984, when many of the company’s employees bought shares. Little did they know that soon their jobs would be on the line! Subsequently, as the company was privatised, many lost their jobs. Oh dear! Poverty striken workers in Pakistan need to be told that shares are bad! Even though it is "free money"... how absurd! it does not just "appear" to be "free money" it is free money. Not only that, but it is free money not only from state companies but also from the property of ALREADY PRIVATISED COMPANIES. i.e. it is as if Gordon Brown gave the workers of Virgin Railways, 12% of the shares of Virgin because it used to belong to the state! In such a scenario no doubt, the Right Honorable comrades from the International Secretariat, would dash down to Euston station with a leaflet screaming "Down with Gordon Brown!" "Say no to free money!" and use their transitional slogans from Pakistan... "Irreconcilable Struggle Until Socialist Revolution!" I am sure that would go down well with the railway workers!

In Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the process of privatising much of the state owned enterprises began. The workers in these companies were clearly concerned that this might put in danger their jobs. How did the government get round this? They were offered free shares and discounts, with the idea of making them feel owners of the companies. Later, those same workers paid dearly for such a policy, although at the time the idea was quite popular among some layers. Now the collapse of the USSR is be compared with BESOS! Now you are really scraping the barrel! Was Pakistan ever a Stalinist deformed workers state with a planned economy? This is ridiculous!

BESOS as you now admit is not privatisation "ITSELF" and it gives "free money to the workers". Period.

Manzoor explained right throughout the process that he opposes privatisation and that BESOS can be used as a trick to hook workers into accepting privatisation, that is the correct way to deal with the issue. But you claimed, to your members, to justify (after the event) your anti-constitutional expulsion of Manzoor and hundreds of Pakistani comrades, that BESOS is privatisation. Now you are trying to cover your tracks, like a thief returning to the scene of his crimes to wipe away his finger prints!

It is the duty of Marxists to warn the workers against such schemes and strengthen trade union organization to fight against the privatization plans of the government. Even if the distribution of free shares can be popular among some, especially those who receive them, it is the duty of Marxists to always tell the workers the truth: the distribution of free shares today is part of the plan to privatise the company at a later stage preparation, and if today you get shares, tomorrow you will be at risk of losing your job! Are you really so ignorant of how poor people are in Pakistan, to pose questions in such a patronising way? 


Illyas Khan explains BESOS and the comrades response


To underline its commitment to privatization policies, President Zardari has just appointed Hafeed Shaikh, the minister of privatization under the Musharraf dictatorship and former World Bank official, as the government’s chief economic advisor. His qualifications for such a position are excellent from the government’s point of view. During his previous period as minister he managed to sell off 34 state owned companies worth a total of over US$5bn.

There is one area which has not been touched by the government’s austerity measures and budget cuts, that of military expenditure. (So there have been no concessions to the workers? Like the right to legal activity by Trade Unions? Regularisation of employment? pension rights etc?) On the one hand the government, in order to maintain the loyalty of the powerful Pakistani army, needs to increase defence spending, and on the other hand the Army needs money to pursue its war against insurgents on behalf of US imperialism. Zardari has justified the austerity measures of the government by saying that the “war against militants had inflicted great loss to Pakistan’s frail economy” and that therefore “there was no option left for the government to take a number of unpopular decisions, even at the cost of its popularity, for the stability of economy”.

This is increasing even further the opposition of the Pakistani masses to imperialism. The war in Afghanistan has brought them not only increased terrorist attacks, but also austerity policies. But the war is being conducted not only in the neighbouring country but inside Pakistan itself, which by now has suffered more civilian deaths than Afghanistan itself. The killing of innocent civilians, both by US troops and the Pakistani army, runs into thousands, to which we must add 1.3 million internally displaced from the border areas. The latest offensive in Orakzai, which escalated a month ago, has pushed around 200,000 out of their houses (the total population of Orakzai is 450,000).

According to David Kilcullen, the Australian former adviser on counter-insurgency to General David Petraeus, the ratio of civilian deaths to “insurgents” killed is 98 to 2! This is creating a mood of widespread anger. In the latest incident of this kind at the beginning of April, 71 people, men, women and children, are said to have been killed by the Army in the Khyber tribal area. According to locals "there was no Taliban and no militants. All the people who were living there are government employees. One of them was an army man." The BBC reports that “the airstrike hit the house of a tribal elder, whose own sons fight against the Taliban, as part of the local paramilitary force.”

It is no surprise that the mood of the masses is becoming cynical about bourgeois democracy. They brought the PPP to power hoping to see policies which would improve their lot, inspired by the PPP’s traditional slogan of “Roti, Kapra aur Makan” (bread, clothing and shelter), but instead what they are getting are power cuts, bombings and privatization. Ah yes, but these are “democratic” power cuts, “democratic” bombing of innocent civilians and “democratic” privatization (in which workers get some shares). When I saw these words from Alan Woods I literally cringed. Do you not consider the right to organise, speak, vote, form unions, engage in legal class struggle, to be important rights? If the masses are cynical about bourgeois democracy, is not the main danger that the army will make a new bid for power, leaning on social discontent?

Or do you imagine we are on the brink of socialist revolution in Pakistan? Perhaps this explains your enthusiasm for the events in Kyrgyzstan, which you claim is a workers' revolution with soviets and all! See this article if you don't believe me!

Lal Khan even claimed such nonsense in his interview in Venezuela! implying that Pakistan may soon see an uprising like that in Kyrgyzstan. It might be in that case, but if it is, it will likewise be a coup d'etat, but one organised to put the military or the extreme right wing in command. 

Do Marxists not stand for the defence of democracy and the PPP against the threat of a new military police dictatorship? Yes, and we must simultaneously promote socialist ideas, and organise the working class in trade unions, so that they can struggle for their economic, social and political demands.

Marxists stand for the defence of democracy, (yes even "bourgeois democracy") for the defence of the PPP against the right wing and the military, and the advance towards socialism through the organisations of the workers' struggle, in their unions and through the PPP!

Zardari and Gilani have already made their choice: with the IMF against the people, with Clinton and Obama against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ruling class in Pakistan is quite happy with this state of affairs. The ruling class is "happy"? Then why was Bhutto assasinated?

Whatever happened to the theory of permanent revolution? Does this theory not state that there is an intimate connection between reactionary feudal forces, the army, the Mullahs, the capitalists and imperialists? And that this means that bourgeois democratic capitalism cannot be sustained for a prolonged period, democracy allows the workers to organise and this makes the "ruling class in Pakistan" far from "quite happy with this state of affairs". It is incredible to need to point out such ABC's of Marxism to the IMT leadership! The PPP was brought to power in the aftermath of the mass movement after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The masses yearned for fundamental change. From the point of view of the ruling class this was the best government to carry out austerity measures. Once its support amongst the masses has been spent, the PPP leaders will be unceremoniously ditched by the ruling class (bringing out corruption scandals, pending court cases, etc) and replaced by the Muslim League (which conveniently abandoned the coalition early). (Oh really and you are ambivalent to this? Why would the Muslim League be adopted by the ruling class, if they are "quite happy" as things are?) You predicted a rising tide of hostility inside Britain against the Labour leaders from 1997, it is 12 years hence and such a tide never actually developed. You now predicting a sea tide of left wing resistance against the PPP leaders only 2 years after they were elected after being in a Military Dictatorship?

Only by breaking with the logic of capitalism (starting by breaking the coalition government) could the PPP really implement a policy to the benefit of the masses of workers, peasants and the poor which voted it into power. Such a move would bring forth the wrath of Obama, the IMF, the army and the capitalists, but would enjoy mass support amongst the downtrodden masses which form the backbone of support for the PPP.

The Marxists in Pakistan are implacably opposed to the policies of the PPP leadership, which is firmly in the pockets of US imperialism, in its economic policies and regarding the imperialist war in Afghanistan and the tribal areas. In this way they are connecting with the growing mood of anger amongst ordinary working people and preparing to play a key role in the revolutionary upheavals that are being prepared. The tone of this article by Jorge Martin for the IS, indicates an utterly sectarian abandonment of entryism in the PPP in favour of a campaign of verbal posturing.

[Note: See this article on Geo Televsion Network Power crisis peaks; Balochistan plunges into darkness which gives a very vivid description of the situation regarding the power crisis in Pakistan.]

The Marxists and the workers’ parties - Thesis on work in the mass organisations

posted 21 Apr 2010, 11:47 by Admin uk   [ updated 26 Apr 2010, 08:57 by Unknown user ]

This is the latest thesis of the IS of the IMT for the world congress this summer, this document will be subject to appraisal in the same way as other documents.

 

The Marxists and the workers’ parties - Thesis on work in the mass organisations

IS draft document for 2010 World Congress

  1. At every stage Marxists must always go back to fundamentals. Recent events in our ranks underline the importance of re-examining the basic ideas, tactics and strategy of the International. In Spain we have seen a split-off which has committed mistakes that Lenin spoke of in Left-wing communism, an infantile disorder, and maybe a few more besides. (at the discussion on these issues at the January CC in Britain there were a number of different chronologies proposed as to when the degeneration in Spain is supposed to have occured. Alan said it happened recently, Jordi said he had no clue, Fred said in the early 1990s. (Fred seemed to be making a bid to promote Italy as the healthiest organisation of the IMT and Spain as degenerate for nearly two decades!) The fact is, that the regime in Spain no matter if you hate it or love it; was a replica of the regime promoted by the very core of the present leadership of the IMT until 2009. The mistakes of the former Spanish leadership have already been dealt with in the IS’s two documents on tactics and strategy in Spain and the strike in the Basque Country. (have they?)
  2. The conduct of their appendages in Mexico and Venezuela (how did it happen that Mexico and Venezuela became appendages of Spain? Did this not happen with the explicit approval of the leaders of the IMT? Does this not mean that there must have been  false methods that create organisational appendages rather than independent revolutionary organisations in different countries? Perhapes all countries?) reveal the same sectarian and ultra-left traits in an even cruder and more obvious form. They have chosen to abandon the political orientation of the International in an extremely superficial manner, turning their backs on the concepts, tactics and methods developed over decades, which link our tendency with the Left Opposition, going right back to Marx and the battle fought within the First International in defence of scientific socialism in polemic with the other tendencies of the workers’ movement.

3.       Basic principles

  1. Already in the Manifesto Marx and Engels pointed out:
  2. The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any separate principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement (…). The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on before our very eyes (…)” (The Communist Manifesto).
  3. Starting from here, our attitude towards the workers and their organisations is well summed up by a phrase of Trotsky, when he addressed the members of the Left Opposition in France:

7.        It is not enough for a revolutionary to have correct ideas. Correct ideas were already set out in the Manifesto and Capital, but this did not prevent the spreading of mistaken ideas. It is the task of the revolutionary party to weld the correct ideas with the mass of the workers’ movement; only this way can an idea become a driving force.” (“The league faced with a turn”, July 1934).

  1. Marxists are not separate from the workers’ movement but an integral part of it. The task of the Marxists is to penetrate the organisations of the working class, applying the most diverse tactics, according to the concrete circumstances of the moment, but maintaining unchanged the aim of winning over the majority of the proletariat to the programme of the socialist revolution. Marxists do not work in an imaginary movement, but in the real, historically evolved, movement of the working class.
  2. The masses cannot at a stroke arrive at a fully worked out revolutionary programme; it is a question of building the independent forces of Marxism welding them to the broader movement of the proletariat and its organisations.
  3. In the present document we do not propose to take up the entire historical experience of how Marxists have dealt with this question; we refer comrades to the fundamental texts (Left-wing Communism, Theses on the united frontof the 3rdand 4thcongresses of the Comintern, Trotsky’s writings on this question, the document, and Work in the mass organisationsproduced by our tendency in 1993). The present document should be read in conjunction with these, and therefore we will limit ourselves here to dealing with the tactical questions and the practical tasks of Marxists in the present phase.

11.   Counter-revolution in a democratic form”

  1. As we have always said, the working class learns on the basis of experience and in particular through big events which shake and transform consciousness. The process is not automatic or linear and different sectors of the class draw conclusions at different times. The experience of the last 20-30 years has been marked to a great extent by the defeats of the early 1980s, which have conditioned the psychology of an entire generation of activists.
  2. The CWI failed to understand (and it was not easy to understand at the time) that the defeat of the British miners in 1984-85 and other important defeats of the working class in a number of countries marked the end of the revolutionary wave of the 1970s (at least in the advanced capitalist countries) and the beginning of a new phase with different characteristics. One might describe this as “counter-revolution in a democratic form”, already discussed in international meetings back in January 2000. Are you sure you mean 'counter-revolution'? If so, when was the revolution that was 'countered'?
  3. The fundamental political of the Taaffite degeneration and subsequently that of the old Spanish group is to be found first of all in a failure to understand the connection between the shift to the right in the organisations of the class and the general state of the movement. In the 1993 document on Problems of work in the mass organisationsit was explained that: How is it that the Taaffites errors are supposedly the same errors as the Spanish group, given that this groups was nurtured and led by Alan Woods and JM? Were they not both on the IS and involved intimately with the Spanish section and all its works? Did the comrades currently leading the IMT take a different line? No they did not! ....to be continued...

15.    In general the history of the last ten years or so represents a sharp contrast with the previous decade (…). The last decade has undoubtedly given us opportunities in all countries (…), but in general the movement of the mass organisations, unlike the 1970s, has been to the right, even a long way to the right (…) The left reformist currents, which had been strong in the past period, have collapsed in all countries.

16.    When we observe a phenomenon of this kind, not just in one or two cases but in all countries to a greater or lesser degree, it cannot be by chance but corresponds with profound processes in society and in the working class itself. It cannot be denied that this phenomenon has a material basis and it is clearly linked to the boom of 1982-90 (…)”

  1. The processes described here have been prolonged well beyond our expectations. The 1993 document remains absolutely valid in general lines, but the perspectives for the mass organisations set forth in the last part have been delayed. Certain things flow from this. During the 1990s and the first decade of the new century we have not seen the development of left reformist and centrist currents with a mass basis in the social democratic organisations as happened in the 1930s and 1970s.
  2. We must seek the explanation for this in the objective situation. The prolongation of the boom of capitalism cut across this perspective for a long time, at least in the advanced capitalist countries. In the former colonial countries the situation was quite different, particularly in Latin America.
  3. The 1997 crash of the South East Asian stock exchanges led to the 1997-98 financial crisis that had a big impact on countries like Russia, Mexico and Argentina, but it did not materialise into a global crisis and downturn as we had expected. This determined the general objective situation in the advanced capitalist countries.
  4. However, the perspectives we had developed for capitalism in general materialised in Latin America and this explains the phenomenon of the Venezuelan revolution, but also the movements in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and so on.
  5. Even in Europe there were movements, with general strikes in countries like Greece and Italy, and major strikes in France. There were movements of the youth, starting with Seattle and later Genoa. But the general picture was one of declining levels of strike activity. On the political front there were also important developments, such as the emergence of Die Linke in Germany, shifts towards parties like the Left Party in Sweden, the rise of the Socialist Party in Holland. These were all indications that a process of radicalisation was affecting a layer of the youth and the working class.
  6. What it is it true to say is that this did not affect the working class as a whole. The mass of workers did not move actively into the mass organisations. Under such conditions of boom, the pressures of capitalism on the labour movement – in the the advanced capitalist countries – and especially its leading layer became intensified. The objective situation was the reason for the reformist and nationalist degeneration of the Second International before 1914. However, in the past three decades the degeneration of the workers’ parties – both the Social Democracy and the former Stalinist parties has reached unprecedented levels. This was further accentuated by the collapse of the USSR and the furious ideological counter-offensive of the bourgeoisie.
  7. As a result, the radicalisation and the anger against the austerity policies, which has developed at various times in distinct sectors of the class and the youth, has been expressed fundamentally outside the Social Democracy and only partially in the Stalinist and ex-Stalinist parties.
  8. Nevertheless, the reformist organisations have immense reserves of support among the masses. The workers have repeatedly turned to these parties on the electoral front, as we saw in Britain in 1997 and on various occasions in other countries; the PASOK, the PSOE, etc. Although the workers were not entering en masseinto these organisations, they still saw them as parties of the working class and turned to them on the electoral front. They did not turn to the various small formations that have appeared here and there over the past period.
  9. The perspectives of the sects have been completely discredited by events. These ladies and gentlemen irresponsibly wrote off the mass reformist parties as “bourgeois”. But all their attempts to create phantom “mass parties”, electoral fronts and so on have ended in failure. The masses cling to the existing mass organisations, not because they are attracted by their right-wing policies (on the contrary, they are repelled by them) but because they do not see any alternative.
  10. In the last period there have been movements of the class: strikes, general strikes, the anti-war movement etc.,. but in the prevailing conditions of boom, this could not yet cause a major upheaval in the traditional mass organisations. There have been some indications of what lies in the future, such as the split off of La Fontaine in Germany and the formation of Die Linke. But these were exceptions and an anticipation of future developments. Now, however, the situation is beginning to change.
  11. Splits in the Social Democracy
  12. A section of the class – the most advanced elements among the rank-and-file activists - has tried to oppose the rightward shift of their leaders, but the resistance of the apparatus has prevailed for the time being. The right wing has capitulated to the bourgeoisie, and the left reformists have capitulated to the right wing. Some truly bureaucratic monsters have emerged, like the Blairite tendency in Britain. Blair attempted to dissolve the Labour Party into the backward mass of Labour voters and break the link with the trade unions. But in the end he failed, and the Labour Party is destined to enter a period of turmoil in the coming period, especially if it loses the elections.
  13. Paradoxically, the former “communist” leaders in Italy succeeded where Blair failed. After decades of national-reformist degeneration, the leaders of the DS (Left Democrats, formerly the PCI, Italian Communist Party) have carried out the transformation of the party into a bourgeois party (the Democratic Party) through a fusion with a large part of the remains of the old Christian Democrats. However, even here the Marxists must be careful. A big part of the Italian workers still see the Democratic Party as “their party”, and we must approach them in a friendly way, while maintaining an implacable criticism of the leadership.
  14. The bourgeoisie always tries to use the Social Democrats to do the dirty work in periods of crisis. This tactic has many advantages. The reformists willingly take upon themselves all the responsibility for the crisis of capitalism, carrying out a policy of cuts and austerity. They prepare the way for the victory of the right-wing bourgeois parties, while discrediting the idea of “socialism” in the eyes of the masses.
  15. In Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Germany, the main attacks against the working class have been carried out precisely by social-democratic-led governments. This alienates the workers, especially the more advanced workers and youth. But it does not mean that the historic link between the masses and the traditional organisations has ceased to exist, as the sects imagine. When the workers move into action, they will inevitably move through the mass traditional organisations because they have no other alternative. We must not change our perspectives for ephemeral reasons.
  16. The policy of the Marxists is one of critical support. They must differentiate themselves sharply from the policies of the reformists (both the right and left variety) and put forward clear socialist policies and transitional demands. But we will not break from the mass organisations. Our tactic is that of Lenin: patiently explain.
  17. In 2002-2003 in Germany, as a result of growing opposition in the unions against the Schroeder government (SPD-Green coalition) there was a significant development: the unions in Bavaria launched a public appeal against the government’s policies declaring that if the SPD didn’t change course they would present an independent candidate at the elections.
  18. At the time these critical trade unionists had no interest in the PDS (the former Communist Party), which was a party rooted fundamentally in the east of the country. The reaction of the bureaucracy was violent: 8 union full-timers were expelled from the SPD. The expelled members set up a new political movement, the WASG, which was founded in 2005 (with about 12,000 members). Oskar La Fontaine, one of the top leaders of the SPD (candidate for Chancellor at the 1990 elections, national secretary of the party in 1995 and minister of Finance in the first six months of the Schroeder government) placed himself at the head of the new party, which in 2007 merged with the PDS to form Die Linke.
  19. A similar phenomenon took place in Italy in 2001-2002 when Cofferati, general secretary of the CGIL, after presiding over the worst compromise policies and the pension counter-reform, gave vent to the growing pressure from below and decided to lead a movement, which took on a mass character, against the abolition of article 18 (which prevents dismissal of workers without a just cause).
  20. The radicalization process then moved from the trade-union to the political front. Cofferati placed himself at the head of the left current in the DS, which obtained an extraordinary result, winning 34% at the Pesaro Congress in November 2001. The DS left wing at that time had the support of the majority of the leadership of the CGIL (a 5-million strong union confederation), but when Cofferati capitulated the current disintegrated, leaving only the small grouping around Mussi and Salvi, which split away a few years later, joining with Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in an electoral alliance (Rainbow left). Already Bertinotti in 1994, from being the main leader of the trade-union left in the CGIL, had followed a similar path, going over from the DS to become the secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, bringing with him a significant number of union activist and leaders.
  21. Smaller phenomena of left tendencies in the Social-Democracy ending up as splits have been seen in a number of countries. In Greece there was the small left tendency around Tsovolas, which disappeared. In France we have seen the split of Melenchon who has created the PG (Left Party).
  22. However, with the exception of Germany, these are small groups, and mainly of an ephemeral character. They do not represent a mass left wing. Everywhere the right wing predominates. Until recently, Zapatero in Spain tried to cultivate a left image in order to avoid a break with the unions. But the severity of the crisis means that he is under remorseless pressure from the bourgeoisie to carry out a programme of cuts.
  23. The trade unions
  24. There is a process of “integration with the state” which has reached unseen levels over the last 20 years. The increasingly flagrant pro-capitalist policies of the social-democratic leaders  the superimposition of bourgeois policies with those of the social-democratic (not clear)  and the crisis of capitalism have further accelerated this trend, which Trotsky dealt with in one of his last writings before his death:

41.    There is a common aspect in the development, or more exactly the degeneration, of the modern trade union organisations on a world level: their coming closer to and integration into the power of the state (…). This fact merely indicates that the tendency to integrate into the state does not arise simply from this or that doctrine, but results from social conditions common to all the unions (…). From this flows the need for the unions, to the degree that they have reformist positions – that is positions based on adaptation to private property – to adapt to the capitalist state and attempt to cooperate with it.

  1. (…)In their speeches the labour bureaucrats do everything possible to try to prove to the (democratic) state how trustworthy and indispensable they are in time of peace and even more in time of war. Through the transformation of the unions into state organs, fascism invents nothing new, it simply carries all the tendencies inherent in capitalism to their extreme consequences (The trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decline - Leon Trotsky).
  2. The effects of the fall of the USSR
  3. The fall of the USSR had the effect of temporarily demoralising and disorienting a significant part of the working class on a world level, especially the most active layers. But at the same time it freed the working class from a brake which had derailed more than one movement in the past. The counter-revolutionary role played by the Stalinists in France in May 1968, in the Italian “hot autumn”, in the Spanish Transition, in the 1974 revolution in Portugal, not to mention the revolutions in the colonial countries (Iran, Pakistan, Latin America etc.) is more than evident and has been analysed many times by our International.
  4. The existence of mass communist parties with leaderships that had an enormous political authority over the working class was a limit to the building of the authentic forces of Marxism for a whole historical period. Now this block has been removed and new possibilities are opening up.
  5. It is necessary to remind ourselves that the Trotskyists are part of the international Communist Movement. When Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party of Russia he did not form an independent party or declare a new International, but organised the International Left Opposition – that is to say, the Left Opposition of the Communist Parties and the Communist International. This was absolutely correct, but at that time it could not have succeeded. The stranglehold of Stalin and the Moscow bureaucracy on the Comintern was too strong.
  6. Stalin launched a one-sided Civil War against the Bolshevik-Leninists. The Trotskyists were expelled and persecuted by the Stalinists and the road to the workers of the USSR and the Communist Parties was blocked for a whole historical period. Under these conditions, Trotsky was compelled to turn his atention from 1933 onwards to the left tendencies arising within the Social Democracy under conditions of deep capitalist crisis.
  7. The Socialist parties, precisely because they were not tied to the Stalinist bureaucracy, reflected the process of political radicalisation of the working class in a more immediate manner. In the period of storm and stress of the 1930s mass Centrist tendencies arose in a number of European countries (Britain, Spain, Holland etc.), which offered a fertile ground for the growth of a Marxist tendency.
  8. At one point (1933) Trotsky even suggested the setting up of an International including Centrist Parties (the German SAP, Centrist groups in Holland, and even the ILP) together with the International Left Opposition. This initiative did not succeed because the Centrist leaders, fearing the ideas of the ILO, rejected it. But it shows the extreme flexibility of Trotsky on tactical and organisational questions.
  9. The Pabloite attempt after the Second World War to build Marxist oppositions within the Communist Parties failed to a large degree for objective and subjective reasons; objective because there was a suffocating regime and an asphyxiating control by the apparatus; subjective because, as was explained correctly in the 1970 document The Programme of the International, , Mandel, Maitan and company had the illusion that Stalinism could “re-generate” and consequently adapted to the bureaucracy of the communist parties carrying out a “deep entry” tactic which our tendency sharply criticised at the time.
  10. However, over the last 20 years the fall of Stalinism has brought about a fundamental change in the situation. There is an acute crisis in these organisations, creating a completely different picture. Without the internal cohesion of the Stalinist apparatus, cracks have opened up. The bureaucracy can no longer prohibit discussion. With a few exceptions (like the Greek KKE), the old Stalinist model has melted away, and divisions at the top have multiplied with the formation of recognisable currents within these parties. The rank and file Communists are very open to our ideas.
  11. The Communist Parties
  12. Despite everything, the workers will turn time and time again to the mass workers’ parties, because they do not see an alternative. In some countries, such as Britain, there is only one mass tradition, that of the Social Democracy. However, in some countries an alternative exists in the form of the ex-communist parties, which are also a mass tradition in countries like Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, but also in countries like Sweden where the ex-Stalinists have a presence in the form of Left Parties. These still have a left image and can attract layers of the radicalised workers and youth. In some countries we have seen how this has led to the growth of parties to the left of the Social Democracy, although this is not yet a generalised trend.
  13. It is no accident that in these years the best results have been achieved in the communist parties where the conditions are generally much more favourable. It is therefore necessary to pay careful attention to these organisations. The only exceptions are those European countries, like Britain, where there are no  significant parties to the left of the Social Democracy.
  14. For decades the Communist Parties have been affected by a process of national-reformist degeneration that was already predicted by Trotsky in 1928. In some cases they have undergone very big shifts to the right, particularly when they have taken on government responsibilities. However, during the 1990s some of the CPs experienced a significant growth in support and membership due to the sharp right turn by the socialist parties.
  15. We should not forget that the leaders of these parties had long ago abandoned all idea of socialism. They have nothing in common with the revolutionary policies of Lenin. Instead they enthusiastically embraced t parliamentary politics and the market economy. They were anxious to enjoy what is known as the “fruits of office” and in some countries they entered coalition governments, and paid an enormous price for it.
  16. This was the case in Italy where the PRC joined the coalition government in 1996-98 and then even more in 2006-08. The same thing happened in France with the PCF in 1997-2002. The leadership learned nothing from the experience just over a decade earlier, when its participation in the governments of the Union de la Gauche (1981-1984) dealt a heavy blow to its base in the working class.
  17. There is a basic law: if there are two workers’ parties with a fundamentally similar programme, one bigger than the other, the workers will see no need to vote for the smaller party, which will tend to lose support. This tendency has been observed clearly in Spain and other countries. However, if the Communist Parties were to stand on a clear Communist programme – the programme of Lenin – they could attract the most militant layers of the workers and youth to their banner. They could then win over a layer of the Social Democratic parties through a skilful united front policy. That was Lenin’s policy, but this is a closed book for the present leaders of the CPs.
  18. In spite of this, where the Social Democracy has been in government carrying out anti-working policies, those mass traditional parties of the working class, the CPs, Left Parties, etc., that have remained in opposition have been able to make gains at the expense of the Social Democracy. This is clearly the case with Die Linke in Germany. Now, for the first time since the early 1930s a mass force stands to the left of the SPD, something which has changed the whole scenario in Germany.
  19. In Spain the United Left (Izquierda Unida) has never entered the government (basically because of its weakness in parliament), but has undergone a similar process, passing from a sectarian line towards the PSOE under Anguita to a line of effective adaptation to the Zapatero government under the leadership of Llamazares. The previous sectarian attitude to the PSOE led to a disaster, when Anguita argued for a policy which meant alliances with the right-wing PP in Andalucia, with the excuse of getting rid of the PSOE. This alienated many CP voters who correctly understood the need to block the right wing. When the IU leaders swung to the other extreme, tail-ending Zapatero and the PSOE, far from restoring the fortunes of the IU, it led to a further decline. What is the point in voting for the Left, if it has no real difference with the PSOE?
  20. The abandonment of communist policies has reduced these parties to a marginal role in managing the policies of the bourgeoisie. They have lost members and votes. This is the balance sheet of the so-called realistic policies of the leadership. Nevertheless, although they have been considerably reduced in size in comparison with the past, the Communist Parties will be able to gain some support among those layers who are critical of the reformists. Due to the fact that for most of the time they have been in opposition they can capitalise on the discontent that has been building up against the liberal policies carried out by socialist governments in the last 20 years.
  21. It is no accident that, while the PRC and the PCF have paid a heavy price for their time in government, Die Linke in Germany, the KKE and Synaspismos in Greece, the Portuguese Communist Party, the People’s Socialist Party in Denmark, the Dutch Socialist Party (the result of a “Maoist” split from the CP in the 1970s), which have been in opposition throughout these years, can grow and give expression to the process of radicalisation that has been maturing on a European scale. The PCP in Portugal has not grown in numbers, but still retains a mass base in the working class, and has a considerable power of mobilization, as we saw recently.
  22. Greece
  23. In Greece the main party of the working class remains the PASOK, which won the last general election by a landslide. However, the KKE has the largest left youth organisation in Greece and retains the allegiance of the most militant sections of the workers. On the electoral front it has only made marginal gains in spite of the shift to the right of the PASOK and the loss of absolute votes of this party. is due in part to its Stalinist policies and methods, but also to its extreme sectarianism combined with opportunism.
  24. The KKE has huge potential, but at the same time its leadership wastes this potential. As a result there is growing discontent in its ranks. In the recent period we have seen dissent expressed openly in the party journal and website – something unprecedented for the KKE – but also a wave of expulsions. The KKE’s youth wing, the KNE, also has huge potential as it is a large proletarian youth organisation, whose ranks believe that it is somehow a “communist” party and are attracted to it in opposition to the PASOK. The Stalinist internal regime must sooner or later come into conflict with the radicalised mood of the youth.
  25. In the case of the Synaspismos, the opinion polls show there has been huge potential for this party at particular moments in recent years. This was only very partially realised at the elections. In particular, the polls revealed a very large number of youth looking to the party. Its advantage is that it is to the Left of the PASOK while at the same time not having all the Stalinist connotations of the KKE.
  26. France, Portugal and Italy
  27. The Bloco de Esquerda has had some success in Portugal, but this has not been the general trend in Europe, and those who had built an entire political strategy on the perspective of forming “new workers’ parties” have been left empty-handed. This is no accident. Generally speaking, once the working class has established a party, it will not easily abandon it, but will test it again and again.
  28. In France the LCR’s perspective that the PCF would dissolve, based on a superficial analysis of some election results such as the 2002 presidential election (when CP leader Robert Hue got only 3.5%), was quickly discredited. The NPA [New Anti-Capitalist Party] vote at the last local elections was halved (2.5%) in comparison with the European elections, while the NPA leaders had announced in the papers that they were aiming for 10%. By contrast, the Front de Gauche (Left Front, which includes the PCF) has maintained its position around 7%.
  29. Even in Portugal the perspective is open and should be analysed concretely. Firstly the Bloco cannot be placed on the same level as the NPA or other sects as it is the result of a fusion of groups coming from Trotskyism and Maoism (traditionally strong in Portugal), but also of a left split-off from the PCP. Secondly because there is also a growth in support for the PCP (although less than the Bloco) and a process of “de-Stalinisation” taking place (with a strong ferment among the youth) which could, as in France, produce a new balance between the two parties standing to the left of the PSP.
  30. Although the PCP today has a slightly lower electoral support than the Bloco (at the November 2007 elections these two parties got respectively 8 and 10%), it has much deeper roots in the mass movement, an iron control over the CGTP union confederation (which has led the mobilisations of the last few years against the policies of the socialist government), a strong membership of about 60,000 and a weekly paper (Avante), organising festivals with a mass participation.
  31. All these elements give the PCP a political stability that the Bloco cannot even dream of and which in a crisis context can make a big difference to the equilibrium between the two parties.
  32. Since 1998 the right to form tendencies has been recognised in the PRC in Italy. The Italian and French experience of work in the Communist Parties is rich in lessons. Here we see how things can change. In Marchais’ time, the PCF was possibly one of the most ossified Stalinist parties in Europe. But now things are different. The rank and file is open to ideas and willing to discuss.
  33. In Rifondazione Comunista there is a growing audience for Marxist ideas, as we saw at the last Party Congress, where there was the possibility, as in France, to present alternative motions at congresses, collecting signatures among the membership. In the youth of Rifondazione Comunista the situation is even more open, where the Marxists gained 25% at the recent congress. In France the Marxist tendency won 15% of the vote although this was the first time they had presented a Congress document.
  34. Today Gerin’s national-reformist current represents (albeit in a caricatured form) a residue of what the PCF used to be and not by chance this current is irreconcilably opposed to the genuine Marxists and has not hesitated to use bureaucratic and disciplinary measures against them where it controls sectors of the party or the youth.
  35. A sense of proportion needed
  36. In all these considerations it is, however, it is necessary to maintain a sense of proportion. The forces of genuine Marxism have been thrown back by the tide of history and now represent a small number of cadres fighting against the stream. The traditional mass parties have memberships of hundreds of thousands. But the small lever of the forces of Marxism can have a large effect on the smaller parties of the Left, especially in a political and social context of great instability and volatility such as the one we are entering.
  37. In October 1933 Trotsky addressed the members of the Left Opposition in Britain as follows:
  38. In comparison with your small group, the ILP is a large organisation. Your small lever is inadequate to move the Labour Party but can have a big effect on the ILP.” (The lever of a small group, October 1933).
  39. Tactics are always concrete and one cannot “eat today the bread of tomorrow”. The most difficult task is to gather together the first 50 comrades. Rather than eternally awaiting possible developments in the social democracy, the Marxists should profit from the possibilities that are presented immediately.
  40. Denmark
  41. In Denmark the People’s Socialist Party (SF) came into being in 1959, after the Hungarian events, when the former secretary of the Danish Communist Party, Aksel Larsen, in opposition to Moscow, led a split. This new party has had various changes in fortune, but for fifty years it has represented the alternative to the left of the Social Democracy, with a presence in the unions.
  42. Over the last few years, reflecting the radicalisation taking part in Danish society, it has grown exponentially: from 6% in the 2005 general election it went to 13% in 2007 and got an even better result at the local elections last November. If we take a look at the membership, the growth is even more startling: in 2007 there were 9,647 members, while by March 2010 they were 17,883. The youth organisation, the SFU, is the biggest political youth organisation in Denmark (larger even than the Social Democratic youth), has 3,500 members and has doubled its membership since 2005.
  43. If on the one hand the increase in votes and membership expressed the desire for change among workers and youth, on the other hand the party leaders, as they saw the possibility of entering a new government coalition with the social democracy, carried out a sharp right turn. A part of this turn was the expulsion of the Marxists only a few months after they had joined the SF and SFU. But there is no way the bureaucracy can separate the Marxists from the rank and file by bureaucratic means.
  44. The paper is oriented to the party and announces itself on the front page as the organ of the Marxists in the SF. The trade union and student work is oriented towards the rank and file and the branches of the SF and SFU. This has achieved good results for the Marxists, with members coming closer to their positions, especially in the youth organisation. The ferment in the party is increasing, with activists and long-standing leaders disputing the leadership’s rightward shift well before this is put to the test in government.
  45. In the past, every time the SF has given external support to a Social-Democratic government, for example between the 1960s and ‘70s, this has caused an open crisis with the Left leaving the party and even forming sizeable groups, but destined to an inglorious end. Our task is to intervene in similar processes which will inevitably take shape in future, to provide the necessary leadership for the Left of the SF and the SFU, arming it with a Marxist programme and methods.
  46. The work in Spain
  47. For years the leadership of the tendency in Spain underestimated the possibilities opening up in Izquierda Unida (IU). It is true that, after our expulsion from the socialist organisations in 1977, independent work was inevitable for a period, as the Spanish CP at that time was difficult to penetrate because of the weight of the apparatus, which prevented any serious opposition work in the Party. But already in 1986, with the birth of Izquierda Unida, a concrete possibility opened up for entry by other left-wing forces and made work as an organised tendency possible within it. This opportunity was missed.
  48. The 20-year wait for a left current to form in the PSOE, linked to the unions and the mass movement, without ever seriously considering developments in the PCE and IU, was an error, which caused incalculable damage to our work in Spain. The fact that the Ma group, which broke away from the International in 1994, had an opportunist approach to the work in IU does not justify the refractory attitude maintained for years by the Spanish section towards such an orientation. Immediately after the break with Ma, IU reached its peak on the electoral front (2,500,000 votes – 13.44% – at the 1994 European elections and 2,640,000 votes – 10.54% – at the 1996 general election, with an excellent result also at the 1995 local elections).
  49. A national circular of 19/12/94 produced by the old Spanish leadership on the intervention in the 4th congress of IU reported the following: “138 papers and 33 books sold, 15,000 pesetas collected for the Student Organisation. There is a mood of euphoria in the congress about the election prospects”. What better opportunity to orient all our forces (about 200 comrades at that time) towards that party?
  50. It was precisely in 1996 that the PSOE lost the election for the first time after being in power since 1982. IU gathered up a large part of the dissent that had been building up on the Left against the anti-working-class policies carried out by the PSOE (there had been 4 general strikes under the Felipe Gonzalez governments). All this was not enough to change the orientation of the section, which limited itself to sending a few more comrades into IU.
  51. In the absence of systematic, nationally coordinated work by the comrades in IU, a left wing formed there in 2002, of a Stalinist, sectarian nature, the Corriente Roja (Red Current). They did not have a perspective and split away in 2004, giving birth to yet another sect. From 2004 the old Spanish group paid even less attention to the work in IU and a number of comrades were removed from this platform of work to look after other “priorities” in independent work.
  52. This watering down of forces in the IU work came precisely in the period when our leading comrade was being repeatedly invited to the national festival of the PCE and was getting a a considerable echo from the CP rank and file. Where work wasdone, results were achieved in the UJCE (Young communists), for example in Asturias, Valencia and Andalucia. In fact the bureaucracy in Asturias was so concerned about the successes of the Marxists that it launched a bureaucratic attack, expelling our comrades.
  53. But this was used by the leaders of the old Spanish group to justify diluting further their intervention in IU, while in reality it was an added argument for intensifying the work there. The bureaucracy was afraid of the Marxists because they had succeeded very rapidly in winning a decisive influence in the Young Communists. The same attempt to keep the Marxists out was encountered in Italy when they began work in the PRC, but they were able to appeal to the rank and file and the bureaucracy had to give way, demonstrating its weakness.
  54. In the polemic that began in an international meeting in January 2009, our former comrades clearly underestimated the left turn launched by the new national coordinator of IU, Cayo Lara, which represented an opportunity for the Marxists. The national PCE festival at Córdoba was a success and there are numerous signs showing a revitalization of IU, which has organised very well-attended demonstrations in Seville, Madrid and other places. The “discussion forums” of the Refundación de la Izquierda(Refoundation of the Left) are being organised throughout the country with growing participation.
  55. A tactical turn of the Spanish Marxists, that are taking their first steps, is necessary and all the comrades available should join IU, produce a paper linked to this intervention and concentrate their forces. If a “double orientation” position was mistaken for a group of 500 comrades, it would be even more so for a group of 50, which needs a very precise platform of work to unify the comrades’ intervention nationally.
  56. The political deviations of the old Spanish group
  57. In the organisational document of the last congress of the old Spanish group (the infamous document B), EG’s 1959 position had been abandoned to adopt a line giving a more limited character to the concept of working in the mass organisations, which the comrades claimed could develop only in pre-revolutionary conditions. The central argument of the document was that this work was to be developed in an uncertain future with no clarity as to the implications for the present time.
  58. Consistent with this starting point, in the Spanish Perspectives document (document A), the comrades did not have a chapter on perspectives for the Left parties. This was the clearest demonstration that what was happening in the mass political organisations of the class was of no interest to them. If in the past the old group had oriented all its forces to working in IU, it would on the one hand have enabled them to recruit perhaps a few hundred extra comrades, as well as establish firmer links with the labour movement by giving them a clearer public profile.
  59. All this would not have prevented them from maintaining the Student Organisation, the Publishing House and independent work in the unions. On the contrary, this platform would have benefited and there would have been a positive combination between independent work and work in the mass organisations. Failure to do so led the old Spanish organisation, regardless of what was formally declared and written in the documents, to behave for years as a small independent party, developing in the long term those sectarian conceptions which contributed to taking it along the road of degeneration.
  60. One objection addressed to us by the JIR group was that:
  61. “Marxists do not distinguish themselves from the sects by the fact that they work in mass organisations. There are sects who in some circumstances work in mass parties and this does not change their character. On the other hand a Marxist tendency, even if it maintains itself for 30 years in independent work, does not change its nature because the fundamental questions are the method of building and the training of cadres”.
  62. This consideration may be correct in abstract terms, but in reality it is one-sided, especially when dealing with small organisations. We stress once again, work in the mass organisations is an application of the united front tactic when the forces of Marxism are reduced to the size of a small group. Not by chance did the Comintern propose this tactic to the British communists in 1920 considering that the balance of forces between the Labour Party and the CPGB was too unfavourable for the CP and entry into the Labour Party became the only way to apply the united front in the given circumstances.
  63. Work in the mass organisations
  64. One of the fundamental mistakes of the old Spanish leadership was to think it was possible, through the Student Organisation, to apply a united front policy by directly addressing the PSOE, IU, UGT and CC.OO. To the degree that the Student Organisation did not have a mass basis and we were a small group, attention was concentrated on an exaggerated activism. The effects of this policy, just as had happened with Taaffeism, was to lower the political level of the cadres and create an over-sized apparatus which ended up substituting itself for the organisation.
  65. When Trotsky proposed that his supporters in France and other countries should join the Socialist Party, one of the basic reasons was to get the League out of a destructive trend that had developed in its ranks, made up of continuous intrigues and conflicts, typical of small groups isolated from the workers’ movement. For Trotsky this was a decisive argument for orienting the Left Opposition towards the mass organisations. This idea runs through all his writings in that period.
  66. Work in mass organisations obliges a Marxist group to compare itself regularly with other tendencies present in the movement. You have to build the forces of Marxism in a constant comparison and polemic with other political trends, measuring yourself against them also in practical work and party-building, at the same time as the independent forces of Marxism are built. There is no better work than this for political training and carrying out a positive selection of the leaderships.
  67. In this way we reduce the risks of a leadership introducing sectarian thinking and adopting self-important positions that have no relationship with reality. Obviously this work must necessarily be balanced by combination with independent work and a serious attitude to Marxist theory. As EG wrote in 1959:

109. The theoretical, ‘independent’ work of training our forces must proceed simultaneously with our work in the Labour Party. One is as important as the other. Either one alone is inadequate if we are to carry out the role imposed on us by history.”

  1. In the old Spanish leadership’s document on Tactics, one of the arguments raised was the alleged deviation of the International in wanting to work in “empty” organisations. We can reply to this beginning with the way comrade EG dealt with the question in general in 1959:
  2. It is true that the conditions for entry as outlined by Trotsky have not yet matured. But it would be enormous stupidity now to abandon the work in the Labour Party and launch into an “independent” adventure after more than a decade of work in that milieu. Whatever gains we might have been able to make by remaining independent in the past, nothing significant can be expected in the immediate future, because such gains would be disproportionate to the future possibilities in the Labour Party (…). We are now working in preparation for the coming period (…). From every point of view, the work in the LP must be protected by an understanding of the perspectives(…). Otherwise the work is carried out only empirically, as by the Healy group, in a series of convulsions and zigzags. The group would be at the mercy of every juncture and turn of events, tossed here and there by momentarily favourable or unfavourable winds. Instead, while these are to be taken into consideration, and while their meaning is to be explained, it is necessary to link them to the general perspectives for the movement”.
  3. The Militant
  4. The main concept is that work in the mass organisations is not carried out only for what is there today, but also as preparation for what will develop there in the future.
  5. On the basis of these considerations of method at the end of the 1960s, with 200 comrades in the entire country, the Marxists gained the majority of the Labour youth (LPYS) in Britain when it was an empty organisation and revitalised it to carry out their campaigns in the universities and among the young apprentices.
  6. Thus, the LPYS was transformed into a serious revolutionary organisation which held congresses with 2,000 young people and demonstrations of 10,000. We used it to address the labour movement and thanks to it we also built important support for Marxist ideas inside the Labour Party. We went to the factories under this banner. Thanks to this work and the contacts made at the meetings of IUSY (International Union of Socialist Youth) we were able in the 1970s in a general context of radicalization to extend our work internationally, with the birth of the CWI in 1974.
  7. The same applies to the PRC, which appears to be in decline today, but nevertheless is providing a fruitful field of work for the Marxists. Many activists may go home, but the potentially revolutionary core will search for an alternative, and in this search the only solid option they will find is the Marxist  tendency, which has been doing patient opposition work in the party for over 15 years. The same is true of the French Marxists, who have achieved significant results at the moment of greatest crisis of the PCF, when it seemed to have entered a serious decline.
  8. How could we explain this mystery on the basis of the old Spanish leadership’s portrayal? Let us see what Trotsky had to say:
  9. Some comrades point out that the ILP has considerably weakened, that behind the old façade is a ramshackle edifice. But this is not an argument against entry. In its present composition it is clear that the ILP is not viable; it is becoming weaker and losing members not only to the right but also to the left, because its leadership does not have a clear policy and is unable to instil the party with confidence in its own strength. It is possible to halt this disintegration of the ILP only by giving it a Marxist outlook on the problems of our time and particularly a Marxist analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Only the Bolshevik-Leninists can do this job. But in order to do so they must boldly break down the wall that today separates them from the revolutionary workers in the ILP (…). But even if the ILP is doomed to disintegration, the Bolshevik-Leninists can save an important nucleus of this party for the revolution” (“Considerations of principle on entrism”, 16 September 1933).
  10. JIR’s false arguments
  11. Having said this, it should also be added that when JIR claimed that IU was an empty, disintegrating party he gave a one-sided view of reality. However “empty” it may be (it formally has a membership of 52,000), IU, considering only the active members, is at least 20 or 30 times the size that the old Spanish group had and there are signs of recovery and regeneration of the party.
  12. But even accepting JIR’s arguments, precisely because of this weakness of the IU apparatus, with the forces we had in Spain we could have had even a bigger impact on the party with our ideas,  winning over some of its structures and carrying out the work in the workers’ districts, in the factories, universities and schools, not in the name of the group’s paper, which is not a well-known name for the broad masses, but as branches of IU, of the PCE or of the UJCE, structures recognizable to the movement, which may be “empty” in a given context but occupy a space in the collective consciousness of the masses.That of course, does not mean we would not have used the paper in all our interventions and identified with it at all times.
  13. What prevented the comrades from doing this? The answer we got from Jo.R. in the international meeting last summer was that these organisations “were empty of activists but full of bureaucrats!” Let us analyse the argument concretely: we are told that the authority of these leaders in the labour movement has collapsed, that they have lost practically all their base in the CC.OO, they cannot lean on the bourgeois state because they are detached from institutional and government positions except in a few areas (Catalonia), they no longer have the apparatus and financial resources they used to have, they cannot lean on the USSR because it no longer exists, and so on and so forth. 
  14. Our former comrades presented us with the picture of an invincible bureaucracy that was able to expel us at the drop of a hat! Where does this strength of the bureaucracy come from? If we accept all the aforementioned arguments that suggest that the authority of the CP leaders has collapsed, this is a mystery we can answer only by entering into the realm of metaphysics.
  15. In reality Cayo Lara is at the head of an organisation with a weak, shaky, internally divided bureaucracy, and it is no accident that he is striving to give himself a left-wing image, as a man near to the people (living in a working-class area with a worker’s wage, etc.). Is this a positive or negative development? We think it is positive and presents the Marxists with an opportunity. With a flexible and non-sectarian approach, the Marxists in Spain could easily have got round the bureaucratic obstacles and carried out fruitful work in the IU, with great benefits in political and growth terms.
  16. However, their line was to cry: “bureaucrats, bureaucrats, bureaucrats”, manifesting the childish idea of those who are afraid of being contaminated by reformism by the simple fact of being in contact with it. The reformists have to be fought, obviously, but the bureaucracy must not only be firmly criticised, in some cases it is also necessary to come to agreements and compromises, without which, as Trotsky said, the building of a revolutionary party becomes an impossible task.
  17. EG reminded us repeatedly that ultimately “an ultra-left is an opportunist who is afraid of his own opportunism”. That characterises perfectly the psychology of the former Spanish leadership.
  18. Questions of method and general considerations on orientation
  19. It is very easy to declare the official leadership degenerate. However, the task is to build up an alternative. The question is this: is it sufficient to simply declare “the revolutionary party” and wait for the masses to come to you? We think not. Marxists must go to the workers and patiently explain an alternative. We think Lenin’s advice to the British Communists back in 1920 is even more relevant today than it was then. The wiseacre sects will say: times have changed. We answer, yes, they have. What is the difference? Only that, eight decades later, we are much weaker, and the Labour leaders are much stronger. One of Trotsky’s considerations when addressing his comrades was the following:

129. Moreover, also in France far too much energy has been spent on a purely phraseological exposure of the leaders and too little on work going deeper into the rank and file, especially among the youth.” (Letter to Cannon in 1936).

  1. This is a question as important as whether or not Marxists should work in the mass organisations. Working in a mass organisation means building the forces of Marxism also through the building of the party in which we work. We cannot have a speculative approach and it is fundamental to invest time in this work. A classic example of a speculative approach and of how not to do things is the attitude adopted by the sects in Germany within the WASG.
  2. The Taaffeites, in coalition with other groups, were in control of the WASG in Berlin. This gave them a good position in terms of visibility, with all the relating privileges (money, full-timers etc.). When the process of fusion with the PDS began in 2007, rather than understand that they were facing a process of radicalization that opened up enormous opportunities, they thought only of safeguarding their power niche. So instead of proposing an advanced political platform on which to build unity they simply opposed the birth of Die Linke, using, amongst other excuses, that of “anti-Stalinism”.

132. Thus they opposed an epoch-making turn that from all points of view represented a decisive step forward for the German labour movement in the process of building a credible left alternative to the liberal policies of the SPD. The historic domination of the Social Democracy over the labour movement in Germany, which had lasted since the 1930s, was beginning to break down; instead of taking advantage of it, starting from a good position in the WASG, what did they do? They thought of the fact that they would lose the leadership in Berlin and their privileges. Tiny interests determine the line of tiny groups led by tiny minds.

  1. In the same way, in Greece the sects prefer to stay in the Syriza electoral front rather than join Synaspismos, for the advantage this gives them thanks to an agreement with the bureaucracy to share out public finance. They get money, but in this way they can only be seen with distrust by the rank-and-file activists who see them as parasites on the party. The Marxists have completely different aims, not to be seen as an outside body feeding off the party but to win the trust of the activists on the ground.
  2. When the comrades in Spain who split off said that they were “doing work in the mass organisations”, what they had in mind was standing outside the doors of the congresses, selling papers. Some comrades had a party card, but that was the end of it. In short, they showed a total incomprehension of what this work amounts to. For years they miseducated their ranks by introducing false conceptions and sectarian attitudes. It is impossible to conduct serious work merely by selling a few papers, getting contacts, recruiting a few people and leaving the field. With these methods Marxists will never be able to win the confidence of the best elements in the party.
  3. They must always declare themselves for what they are, not disguise their political programme and views. They produce their own newspaper or bulletin defending their point of view. We must have a friendly and comradely approach to the members of the mass parties we are a part of. We must be patient and win an audience through patient work. This involves doing a certain amount of routine work, but we should always be mindful of what we put in and what we get out of it in terms of building the revolutionary tendency. We must always guard against being sucked in into doing all sorts of routine work and taking positions which cannot be used effectively from a political point of view. Our experience also shows that artificially creating "broader fronts" consisting of ourselves and a layer of sympathisers is not a good idea, as it creates an additional barrier between members who are attracted to our ideas and our own tendency. If there are particular circumstances these should be taken into consideration, but always bearing in mind the main barometer of our work: the achievement of our targets for growth and the building of the tendency.
  4. How to gain the ear of the rank and file

137. The method by which polemics are conducted is very important: we should start from the correct things said by the reformists (particularly by the most left-wing) and then defend our positions. The comrades of the old Spanish group had completely overturned this method of debate with the IU leaders, as we have been able to observe. A brief look at their paper over the last 3 or 4 years will reveal plenty of ultimatum-style denunciations and few well-aimed arguments.

  1. The Marxist method on how to criticise the reformist leaders is qualitatively different from the sectarian method. The aim of the Marxists is not to hysterically denounce or "expose" the reformist leaders as traitors, or to underline the fact that in the end all (left and right) bureaucrats are the same. Our method should be one of putting positive demands on the reformist leaders that connect with the needs of the masses and the most advanced layers and critically supporting those reformist leaders who are more on the left and then challenge them to follow up on their words with deeds. It is in moments when the reformist bureaucracy that controls the apparatus of the workers' organisations is divided on which way to move forward that bigger opportunities arise for the intervention of revolutionaries. The more contradictions open up at the top, the more room and political hearing revolutionary positions can win in the rank and file. To achieve this we cannot maintain a “neutral” attitude between the left and right of the party but must critically support the left sector against the right. Our criticism must be firm but friendly.
  2. The best way to do this is to explain to the party members what the left-wing leaders lack in order to defeat the right reformists. If we say that “they’re all the same”, we may be saying something correct from a point of view of general principles of Marxism. However, revolutionary politics doess not only consist of general principles but also of a tactical approach and sensitivity that are of great importance for carrying out work in mass organisations.
  3. By our method, when a leader takes a step to the left, as Marxists we do not publicly denounce him as a traitor who is basically no different from the others, but we support him and explain that in order to defeat the right we need to take the next step. And, as Trotsky said, in our criticisms we must concentrate on the fundamental questions and leave secondary aspects aside.
  4. When political breaks have to be made, it is always important for this to be done on questions decisive for the life of the party, that can be understood by all the members, in order not to give our tendency a frivolous image. When we intervene in a party meeting it is fundamental to assess the forces available and allocate tasks: who will speak, who will sell the paper or look after the bookstand with our material. It is important to engage in discussion with those elements who seem most interesting and could become contacts. What should not be done is to sit around all together, making ironic comments about the interventions of others, limiting ourselves to speaking from the platform… and returning home empty-handed. Prior systematic preparation of these interventions in our branches is fundamental. In this the role of the branch is key. There is no substitute for a properly functioning branch, where the work of each comrade is discussed at regular intervals. It is in the branch that any problems that may arise with a comrade’s trade union or party work can be discussed.
  5. The dangers of adaptation
  6. Work inside reformist parties puts you in close contact with other tendencies and the bureaucracy. The positive side of this has already been indicated; the negative side is the risk of adaptation and absorbing alien methods and ideas. Today many of the parties to which the Marxists are oriented have had to abandon the old police methods typical of the most classical Stalinism and have adopted an internal regime that apes parliamentary democracy; this applies to the PRC in Italy and Synaspismos in Greece. This system is necessary to maintain the slightest cohesion in a weak bureaucracy divided into a number of tendencies and sub-tendencies which no longer have the internal solidarity of the past.
  7. An even worse variation of this is the “federative” systems of IU, Syriza or the failed attempt by the PRC to give life to the “Italian section of the European Left” and today to the Federation of the Left. These structures usually give exaggerated room to small bureaucratic groups or cliques who claim to represent “the movements” or “civil society”, so as to have a further tool for manoeuvre and create places of decision even further from the control of the rank and file. For this reason in Italy the Marxists opposed the formation of the Federation of the Left.
  8. This type of internal regime, while it does not mean that there will not be attempts at expulsion or bureaucratic attacks, nevertheless allows room for representation also to left oppositions, at least so long as the balance of forces in the bureaucracy is not put at risk.
  9. We must be able to make full use of these opportunities and where they do not exist or do not exist fully we must not hesitate to demand our right to be represented in the various leading bodies, depending on the support for Marxist ideas within the rank and file. However, we must also know how to take the necessary counter-measures against the risks of adaptation that this kind of internal regime entails, which in a number of cases the bureaucracy has known how to use in order to co-opt various “left-wing” currents.
  10. Our policy is not to take any position without a base of comrades and after deep consideration of how it would help to build the tendency. Furthermore, there should be a discussion in the branch and consultation with the leading bodies before the taking of positions is contemplated.
  11. The dangers of opportunism are ever present in the mass organisations, without the anchor of Marxist theory, perspectives and the correction of the tendency. Trotsky constantly referred to these dangers in the work of the Trotskyists during the 1930s, especially in the trade unions. The work of the American Trotskyists in the Teamsters’ union was not free from this adaptation. This is what Trotsky had to say about the question regarding the American Socialist Workers’ Party.

149. It would be asinine to think that the workers’ section of the party is perfect. The workers are only gradually reaching clear class consciousness. The trade unions always create a culture medium for opportunist deviations. Inevitably we will run up against this question in one of the next stages. More than once the party will have to remind its own trade unionists that a pedagogical adaption to the more backward layers of the proletariat must not become transformed into a political adaption to the conservative bureaucracy of the trade unions. Every new stage of development, every increase in the party ranks and the complication of the methods of its work open up not only new possibilities but also new dangers. Workers in the trade unions, even those trained in the most revolutionary school, often display a tendency to free themselves from party control.” (In Defence of Marxism).

  1. Later, after the split with the petty-bourgeois opposition in the SWP, Trotsky returns to the same question during an unsuccessful attempt to get the SWP to turn towards the Stalinist workers. In the discussions with the SWP leaders, Joseph Hansen asks Trotsky a question:

151. I am wondering if comrade Trotsky considers that our party is displaying a conservative tendency in the sense that we are adapting ourselves politically to the trade union bureaucracy.”

  1. Trotsky answers frankly:
  2. “To a certain degree I believe it is so...

154. It seems to me that a kind of passive adaption to our trade union work can be recognised. There is not an immediate danger, but a serious warning indicating a change in direction is necessary. Many comrades are more interested in trade union work than in party [SWP] work. More party cohesion is needed, more sharp manoeuvring, a more serious systematic theoretical training; otherwise the trade unions can absorb our comrades.

155. It is a historic law that the trade union functionaries form the right wing of the party”, explained Trotsky. “There is no exception to this. It was true of the social democracy; it was true of the Bolsheviks too. Tomsky was with the right wing, you know. This is absolutely natural. They deal with the class, the backward elements; they are the party vanguard in the working class. The necessary field of adaption is among the trade unions. The people who have this adaption as their job are those in the trade unions. That is why the pressure of the backward elements is always reflected through the trade union comrades. It is a healthy pressure; but it can also break them from the historic class interests – they can become opportunists.

156. The party has made serious gains. These gains were possible through a certain degree of adaption; but on the other hand we must take measures to circumvent dangers that are inevitable. I have noticed only some serious symptoms which indicate the need for more cohesion, more emphasis on the party. Our comrades must be in the first line party members, and only in the second line trade union members. This is especially true for trade union functionaries and editors...” (Discussions with Trotsky, Writings, vol. 1939-40, pp.280-81)

  1. This adaption was also carried over to the work of the American Trotskyists when they entered the Socialist Party. As James Cannon admitted later:

158. Our work in the Socialist Party... was by no means free from errors and neglected opportunities. There is no doubt at all that the leaders of our movement adapted themselves a little too much to the centrist officialdom of the Socialist Party... this adaption undoubtedly was carried too far in some cases and led to illusions and fostered deviations on the part of some members of our movement.” (History of American Trotskyism, p.238)

  1. These are the same dangers that can affect our work in the mass organisations today. Our key priority and task is the building of the forces of Marxism. This should be uppermost in our minds. Our actions should be judged by this criterion. However, some comrades lose sight of this aim and fall into the trap of seeing our main role as “building the left”, whether it is in the unions or the party. This conception is completely false and such a view has consistently been rejected by the tendency. Our main responsibility is building the tendency, as Trotsky explained above.
  2. Our day-to-day work in the movement can absorb some comrades. And we have seen this happen. Under the pressures, some comrades begin to see themselves not as Marxists first and foremost but as good left-wingers. Their priorities change over time. As a consequence of this outlook, their priority as good left-wingers is to “build the left”. This wrong approach was also adopted by the sects in their opportunist phase, especially the Healy group who saw their main role as “building the left” around “Socialist Outlook” and later “Tribune”. The Healy group attacked us for not supporting their initiative. “They [our tendency] opposed the central tactic of the movement around ‘Socialist Outlook’. At that time, in the Labour Party, the evident task for revolutionaries was to assist the organisation of a Left Wing”, stated the Healyites. As our tendency at the time explained in reply, “Quite apart from the incorrectness of the idea of ‘organising the Left’, the ‘tactic’ of the ‘Socialist Outlook’ entailed the complete subordination of Healy and Co. to those ‘Lefts’ like Bessie Braddock who was the ‘parliamentary correspondent’ of this journal as well as holding shares in it.”
  3. While we will participate in the Left, it has never been our task to “build the left”. The Left can only be built on the basis of events. Our forces are far too small, even if we wanted to. The Left Wing can only be built by the hammer blow of mighty events and not the efforts of a tiny group. Those who have attempted to do so, have  inevitably ended up in the camp of opportunism. Every attempt to cuddle up to the lefts has led to disaster. Even before Healy, Trotsky strongly criticised Pierre Frank and Raymond Moliner (among leaders of the French Trotskyists) who proposed a bloc not with reformists, but with a centrist current. Trotsky completely broke with them. “When Moliner tried to replace the party programme by ‘four slogans’ and create a paper on that basis, I was among those who proposed his expulsion.” (In Defence of Marxism).
  4. Comrade EG always fought against the idea of “building the left”. In Problem of Entrism he explained:

163. Our job in the preparatory period, which still exists, is patiently winning the ones and twos, perhaps of small groups, but certainly not the creation of a mass revolutionary current, which is not possible at the present time. To attempt to shout louder than one’s voice merely results in hoarseness and ultimately the loss of voice altogether.

164. Opportunism is only the other side of adventurism. Both rise out of a false assessment of objective circumstances, or of a surrender to the immediate environment. That is why, without a firm theoretical basis and collective control of the movement, it is easy to succumb to one mistake or the other.”

  1. EG also warned about reading too much into the situation when the objective conditions had not arisen for the formation of a Left Wing. The Healyites were always seeing the emerging Left Wing in all kinds of episodic things. “This arises from their previously incorrect perspectives, when they saw a mass Left Wing in every incident which developed in the LP in the last decade.”
  2. He explained that
  3. “under conditions of crisis and struggle, there will be a renewal of the entire Labour Movement... In any event the perspective is of a heightened class struggle finding its reflection within the ranks of the Labour Movement... The Party requires the renovating breezes of the class struggle, which will put all shades and gradings in the party to the test.”
  4. As EG explained,
  5. “It is necessary to understand that our own forces are too weak to create a Left Wing of mass proportions.” In the meantime, our over-riding task is the building of the tendency in anticipation of the events that will unfold. There are no short cuts to this.
  6. The same approach must be adopted in regard to the left in the trade unions. Again, we must have a sense of proportion. It is not our task to organise or build the left. We are far too weak and in any case it will be massive events that will build the left, not the heroic efforts of a tiny handful of comrades. Of course, we will participate and intervene in the left to get contacts and win people to the ideas of Marxism. That is the MAIN reason why we are participating in the union general secretary campaigns. However, it would be folly to run ahead of ourselves and see our work as “building the left” in the unions or anywhere else. This is a wrong conception which if adopted will inevitably lead us to the swamp of opportunism or adventurism.
  7. It is also fundamentally wrong to see our task as “building influence” for the future. Such “influence” will mean nothing when the new forces transform the Labour Movement. The only real way we can achieve any kind of influence is by building the Marxists tendency, by recruiting the best and most advanced elements and training them in the fundamental ideas and methods of Marxism. Any idea that we could influence the left-reformists is wrong and could lead to opportunist adaptation to this milieu.
  8. As we build up the forces of Marxism we will be able to take positions, even leading positions within the party. The general rule, however is always that we take such positions where we have built a base for the tendency. We should also be aware of the fact that when big events shake up the mass organisations and large numbers of workers and youth start to come in, these will be very quickly radicalised, and it is within this layer that the Marxists will be able to make the biggest gains. This layer will be interested in people with ideas that correspond to the moment and show a determination and enthusiasm for building a serious Marxist tendency.
  9. Unless we build NOW, the sects can stumble into the party and complicate our work at a later stage. From ultra-leftism the sects can very easily swing towards opportunism. After denying the possibility of any leftward movement within the ranks of the mass organisations, once such a movement does materialise, the sects can jump in and adapt to the left reformist milieu that will emerge. We have seen this in the past, and it can happen again. The sects are incapable of working in a correct manner within the mass organisations and, if they have a sizeable force, can create problems for the Marxists.
  10. That is why the task of the hour is to build, to recruit and strengthen our position within the labour movement.. We must not waste our time. Our real success can only be measured by this criterion. As Trotsky warned the British Trotskyists, “We do not have eternity before us. We are too generous with our time, which is very precious; and we are not rich enough to spend it at such a rate.”
  11. We base ourselves on the tried and tested methods of the tendency. We need to inoculate our new comrades, and the older comrades for that matter, against wrong methods. Above all, we need to steel all our comrades in the ideas of Marxism and raise the theoretical level (which is too low). This is no secondary matter. As the movement grows so also will the pressures of capitalism. There is only one way in which to safeguard the comrades from these pressures and that is by steeling every single comrade in the fundamental ideas.

176. It is precisely the party’s penetration into the trade unions, and into the workers’ milieu in general that demands heightening the theoretical qualification of our cadres”, explained Trotsky. “I do not mean by cadres the ‘apparatus’ but the party as a whole. Every party member should and must consider himself an officer in the proletarian army.” (In Defence of Marxism)

  1. We must remember that if there is one thing where the bureaucrats continue to excel, it is in identifying those comrades who can be most susceptible to being drawn in, not only materially but also by flattery clothed in fine political prospects (“you’re gifted, if you take this post you can prove your skills”, etc. etc.). First of all, therefore, the decision to fight for a position in a leading body must be carefully discussed and put in relation to our real forces, to the equilibrium of our organisation, to the presence of cadres really able to withstand the pressures arising from these posts.
  2. All the fundamental ideas and decisions, especially those concerning the taking of positions within the mass organisations, must be discussed at all levels of the tendency, in order not to isolate those comrades who are in leading positions within the party and the comrades as a whole. This is particularly important as it is the comrades in party positions who must then be responsible for defending and carrying forward the ideas and decisions adopted and must therefore be fully aware and involved in the process of discussion. This is all the more true for positions within the apparatus, as shown by negative experiences in the past. We must warn against taking up positions that objectively do not correspond to our strength.
  3. Accepting the position of candidates in elections, all the more when these may lead to the election of our comrades, should be carefully assessed; it is not only a question of image but of the overall balance of our work. Accepting parliamentary positions which they were not then able to support was not the least of the reasons that brought the various opposition currents within the PRC (linked respectively to the PO and the Unified Secretariat) to split away from the party in a position of weakness and no longer masters of their own choices. It was the imbalance between the visibility conquered with their parliamentary positions and their real strength, combined with their chronic lack of perspectives, that conditioned them decisively.
  4. Our guideline must always be the total involvement of the tendency in every important step; where there is a doubt, the golden rule will be to give priority to our debate over the times and procedures the bureaucracy tries to impose on us. Missing an opportunity may be serious, but creating a fracture in the organisation is a much bigger danger; a choice that is not fully understood, especially in the leadership, will inevitably lead to serious political problems in moments of greater pressure.
  5. After each stage we must draw up a thorough balance-sheet and allow all comrades to express themselves; full internal democracy and a debate that does not fear even internal criticism are the indispensable conditions for reducing the risks of adaptation that those comrades holding positions in structures controlled by the bureaucracy inevitably run, especially if they are in a very isolated situation.
  6. Tactical flexibility
  7. EG always had a flexible approach to tactics and never fell victim to fetishism towards the organisations where he worked, a phenomenon which did develop among some comrades in the recent past. After the Second World War we were confined to Britain. We developed work in the Labour Party, but in 1956 the Hungarian events caused a crisis in the Communist Party. In that situation EG’s group came out with an open letter to the activists of the CPGB in the name of the organisation.
  8. There were concrete reasons for this. We were doing work in the Labour Party but it was not appropriate at that moment to approach communist party members as a Labour Party tendency. Also later our tendency, while working in the Labour Party, always kept an eye on possible developments in the CPGB and a number of comrades were recruited from this work.
  9. When the Marxist tendency started work in Italy, after considering the possibility of working in Proletarian Democracy, a small party with 10,000 members, the choice then fell on the Socialist Party, which in the late 1970s had a Left current that considered itself Marxist (around Lombardi). This work died out rapidly because a sharp turn to the right was taking shape in the PSI with the domination of Craxi. However, our ideas started to get an echo among the Young Communists where there was a group of youth in Ferrara that we had contacted through our work in the Young Socialists. But the most favourable conditions developed only with the birth of Rifondazione Comunista which, being a new party, did not have consolidated bureaucratic structures and offered a lot of opportunities for the work of the Marxists.
  10. Work in Rifondazione Comunista was delayed for a series of circumstances that would be too long to deal with in this text and some opportunities were lost. At first a certain reluctance prevailed about working in the “smaller” party of the working class. This was also because it was thought that the Ingrao faction (the “communist” left) in the DS (Left Democrats) had the potential to develop and may have presented opportunities. There was also a significant layer of militant shop stewards and trade union leaders, including the then leader of the trade union left, Fausto Bertinotti, that had remained within the PDS [as the DS were known then].
  11. Subsequent developments, however, contradicted our initial perspective. The Left around Ingrao rapidly broke up and de facto collapsed. The best elements within the PDS between 1994 and 1995 passed over to Rifondazione Comunista (including Bertinotti himself who became the party’s general secretary). At that point there could no longer be any doubt about the orientation that should be adopted.
  12. For a period lasting about two years (between 1992 and 1994) the Italian Marxists maintained a dual orientation with comrades in the PDS and others in Rifondazione Comunista. This tactic did not produce results because it aroused mistrust among members of both parties and it was an obstacle to any attempt to organise work that was not purely superficial. So the Marxists decided to concentrate their forces in Rifondazione Comunista and give a clear link to the paper and in this sense, becoming to all effects the Marxist tendency of the PRC.
  13. This delay of about two years allowed the sects to win a position of advantage and it took the Marxists a number of years to achieve a dominant position in the PRC Left, which was in fact conquered only 10 years later. For about 5 years the Marxists had to work in a left current dominated by a sect (linked to the Argentinian Partido Obrero – PO). In spite of its sectarian nature it was nevertheless correct to be part of that current. The alternative would have been to maintain a position of isolation in the Party, with the risk of not being understood by the most combative elements and of being considered a marginal group relegated to Milan and the region of Emilia Romagna. The Marxists could not choose the Left they preferred and simply had to work in the one that existed, even though this might produce risks of them being identified with ultra-left positions.
  14. France and Greece
  15. In France the results of our work were much more rapid. The Marxists presented a document in a congress, winning 15% of the vote. The dissent that had been building up over the years against the liquidationist policies of the right wing of the party found expression in that document. The French Marxists have drawn the conclusion with hindsight that this work should have begun as long ago as 1998 when critical attitudes were starting to grow because of the policies that the leadership were carrying out in the Jospin government.
  16. In Greece, before being able to begin working within the communist movement it proved necessary to break with the majority of the old Greek leadership. Their obsession about working in the PASOK was so strong that in demonstrations and strikes the comrades had got to the point of only selling the paper in the PASOK sections, while mainly ignoring the communist activists, who, particularly among the youth, tended to be the larger and more militant sections.
  17. Important developments within the KKE and KNE (Communist Youth) were largely ignored. After the general election in 1989, when the KKE formed a government alliance with New Democracy, the main bourgeois party, there was a bitter internal struggle which led to a split by the majority of the leadership of the KNE, the youth organisation, who formed a new organisation (NAR).
  18. Initially the NAR had around 5000 members, but as it drifted more and more towards a sectarian position it dwindled and became just one more sect on the scene. Had the Marxists worked systematically towards the KNE previously and paid sufficient attention to the NAR subsequently, significant gains could have been made. EG and AW insisted repeatedly that they should pay attention to the Communists, but the old Greek leaders ignored this advice. Instead the old organisation paid no attention to these important developments and continued with its PASOK fetishism.
  19. Subsequently another split from the KKE led to the formation of Synaspismos. The Marxists should have intervened in these processes which shook the communist movement to its foundations. But the leaders of the former group refused even to discuss intervening in the KKE and its split-offs.
  20. This contempt for the “Stalinists” was one of the most pernicious aspects of this approach, putting the bureaucrats and the rank and file on the same level. In reality this childish attitude masked a steady adaptation to the bureaucracy and policies of PASOK. There has been similar resistance also in Sweden towards systematic work in the Left Party and in Scotland in the past where some real opportunities opened up to begin work in the Scottish Socialist Party. Here again, a rigid approach meant that for the sake of possible work in the Labour Party in some distant future, the real concrete immediate possibilities were lost in Scotland.
  21. In Greece the Marxist tendency has at last begun profitable work in Synaspismos and this is giving its first results. At the congress of the youth they presented an alternative text. Around Synaspismos a political-electoral front has been created (Syriza), swarming with sects. This is why the Greek Marxists preferred to join Synaspismos directly rather than simply being a part of the front. They dissolved their open front and indicated to their members that they should all join the Synaspismos.
  22. It should also be noted that the KKE leadership, although maintaining a tight Stalinist control over the party, will not be able to stop the process of radicalisation and dissent within its ranks forever. The KKE’s youth wing, the KNE, is not only the main youth force on the left, but also the one with deepest roots in the proletarian areas of the country.
  23. The monolithism of the leadership of the KKE has begun to crumble and there have been expressions of dissent. These are the first signs of a process of an unstoppable nature, of which the Greek comrades are fully aware. In the meantime their task is to build support for Marxist ideas and win positions in Synaspismos and through these appeal to the ranks of the communist youth. In general the only way to apply the united front tactic is to sink roots and grow as a Tendency in one organisation of the class, conquer positions and through these appeal to the ranks of other organisations. It certainly is not to scatter ourselves over a number of parties giving an unclear profile to our paper and to our overall intervention.
  24. Work in the European Socialist parties
  25. In Austria the Marxists have carried out some good work over the last few years in the socialist youth, which has allowed them to develop a national tendency. Apart from a brief stage of bureaucratic repression, they have been able to consolidate the support for Marxist ideas in the ranks of the YS and in the last two or three years they have succeeded in getting an influence also in the SPÖ and the trade union youth.
  26. They were a decisive force in the left turn of the YS. Their role was decisive in discussion of the programme “of principle” of the YS, which is “Marxist” in a lot of aspects, and a number of times they have influenced the line of the YS (movement against globalization, struggle against the coalition government, etc.). This work has been combined with open work in schools and universities. Their successes at a certain point brought about an attack by the bureaucracy; a series of branches where the Marxists were in a majority were dissolved.
  27. As a result of the policies of the government coalition which involves the SPÖ, a new crisis has opened up in the party and conditions have been created for the formation of a left-reformist current, called SPÖ-Linke, led by Rudolf Fussi, a radical element whose phraseology recalls the reformism of the 1970s. The Marxists are participating in this movement from the beginning and in fact have played a key role in it, while at the same time clearly differentiating themselves by defending a Marxist programme.
  28. The development of Die Linke in Germany has aroused a lot of discussion in the Left in Austria; in the short term, given the particular traditions of the Austrian labour movement, the birth of a formation to the Left of the SPÖ seems unlikely, but the comrades must keep their eyes open for a possible future development.
  29. Switzerland
  30. Thanks to the work in Austria a Marxist tendency has developed in Switzerland; the comrades at present are working in the socialist youth, a formation with about 3,000 members nationally, which has been growing recently. The Swiss Socialist Party has been in coalition governments in the last 60 years, but the Socialist Youth has a “movementist” tradition and is much farther to the left. On three occasions in its history it has split away from the Socialist Party because of political disagreements within a process of political radicalization.
  31. In the area of the country where the comrades are working (German-speaking Switzerland) the Workers’ Party does not have great traditions, while it is significantly stronger in Geneva and in Canton Ticino (Italian-speaking Switzerland). In 2007, in a process of radicalization, the Workers’ Party in Italian-speaking Switzerland adopted the name of the Ticino Communist Party. At recent demonstrations and in the struggle at the Bellinzona Workshops we have seen a significant strengthening of the Ticino Young Communists, who have very left-wing ideas.
  32. In the next few years the aim is to build the tendency also in the French and Italian parts of the country, where conditions are much more favourable in the Workers’ Party/Ticino Communist Party. The work can be reviewed subsequently on the basis of developments and to the degree that the comrades are able to give a truly national character to their work. It should be noted that the Ticino Young Communists, confident in their own forces, are launching a national campaign to build their organisation also in the rest of the country. This process must be kept under observation and, from the socialist youth where the comrades are working at present, they must pay attention to the Ticino Young Communists.
  33. Belgium

210. In Belgium the SP.a (the Flemish social democratic party) is a party in permanent crisis which has been losing a lot of support (at present it gets between 12 and 15% of the vote). Its extreme instability and that fact that it has been staggering from crisis to crisis has opened up considerable possibilities for the Marxists. In 2005 they participated in the launching of SP.a Rood [Red Social Democratic Party]as the left wing of the party, which is a coalition between the Marxists, various sectors of the left and trade unionists.

  1. The comrades achieved good results with their candidate winning around 34% in the internal party elections and 8,000 votes in the elections; a number of factory committees supported his candidacy and the recognition acquired has enabled us to gain credit also outside the party. The candidacy of the comrade involved about 200 activists in Antwerp alone and obtained the support of the engineering union.
  2. In line with the general trend there is a lot of pressure by trade union activists to split the party to the left and follow the pattern of the Dutch Socialist Party. It is possible that under mass pressure a split could take place, although we do not know with what timing the process will evolve.
  3. The PvdA/PTB (Party of )which is a Maoist grouping with about 3,000 members, has a number of times proposed that the Marxists run campaigns together; as the Left of the Social Democracy our comrades are correctly applying a united front tactic aimed at this and other minor formations with an eye to future developments.
  4. Britain
  5. As far as Britain is concerned our work is concentrated particularly on the trade union and youth level, also through a skilful use of the Venezuela campaign. In the main the Labour Party (which has been in power for more than a decade and is controlled by the extreme right-wing Blairite wing) has been at a very low ebb. But the whole situation in Britain is now beginning to change.
  6. For a time the Blairites were able to give certain concessions (the minimum wage, tax credits for poor families etc.). The fact that the party kept winning elections also strengthened the right-wing leadership for a whole period. But this is no longer possible. The deep economic crisis and the huge deficit means that reforms are not on the order of the day. Whatever party wins the elections will have to carry out deep cuts. The scene is set for a revival of struggles on the industrial front, which will push the unions into semi-opposition or even outright opposition.
  7. All Blair’s attempts to break the organic link between the unions and the Labour Party have failed. The bourgeois who were prepared to back “New Labour” have now moved back to the Tories, the natural party of big business. Therefore, the financial dependence of Labour on the unions has grown, and pressure is building up from the unions for Labour to drop its attacks on the workers and the public sector.
  8. Whoever wins the general election, the stage will be set for a confrontation between the classes as in the 1970s. If Labour loses, the Party could start a process of moving to the Left in opposition. A defeat would provoke a ferment of discussion and the local branches, at a certain stage, would begin to come to life. The Blairite careerists would leave in droves (this has already begun) and, in opposition to a Tory government, fresh layers of workers and youth would begin to enter the Party. Under such conditions the ideas of Marxism would begin to get an echo.
  9. If Labour is returned with a small majority, it will be subjected to enormous pressure from the bosses to make deep cuts and from the workers and the unions to resist cuts. The strikes that have already begun in the public sector are a warning of things to come. The union leaders will not be able to have the cosy relationship they had in the past with the right wing Labour leaders. Also in such a scenario, the Labour Party will enter into a crisis. At a certain stage a Left will begin to crystallize.
  10. All the attempts of the sects in Britain to create a Left alternative to the Labour Party have ended in ignominious failure: the Socialist Alliance, Respect, and the Scottish Socialist Party have collapsed one after the other. The only perspective for the Left and the Marxists is to wage a serious struggle against the Blairite right wing that has hijacked the Labour Party. The unions will play a key role in this struggle in the next period.
  11. We must pay careful attention to developments in the unions and the Labour Party. Our first priority is to win and train cadres from the youth (both young workers and students) and conduct systematic work in the unions, which are the key to the whole situation. The campaign for the election of JH in Unite is the first priority at this stage. Radicalisation will start first in the trade unions and would then start to filter into the party. That is why it will be necessary to reactivate the work in the Labour Party in the next period, where big gains can be made if we work correctly, avoiding the pitfalls of ultra-leftism and opportunist adaptation.
  12. Work in the former colonial countries
  13. The situation in the former colonial and semi-colonial countries has important differences with the situation in the advanced capitalist countries in Europe. Just as they do not mechanically repeat the same historical stages that were experienced in Europe over centuries, so the political evolution of the mass organisations do not follow the same pattern as the Social Democracy and Communist Parties in Europe.
  14. The law of uneven and combined development is applicable not only to economics but to political development. Thus, the “backward” Russians were able to import not just the most modern American machinery but also the most advanced ideas of scientific socialism, which found in semi-feudal tsarist Russia a far more fertile ground to develop than in “advanced” Britain, where the slow, organic evolution of capitalism over 200 years produced powerful workers’ organisations but with a reformist leadership.
  15. The class relations of society in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia are far more complex than in Europe and this complexity is reflected in equally complex political formations. A relatively stable social and economic history gives rise to relatively stable political formations. But the economic and social history of the ex-colonial and semi-colonial nations is anything but stable. Here we see the constant rise and fall of parties and leaders. The situation is unstable and in constant flux, and can produce many strange variations and contradictory phenomena.
  16. In the older capitalist countries, where mass reformist organisations have existed for decades, it is difficult for the masses to break from them. Instead, they will test them time and time again. Only in an extreme case will they decide to break with the old leaders and mass organisations, as in the period 1917-23 in Europe, when the mass Communist Parties were formed. Even then, the new parties of the Communist International emerged in most cases from splits in the old reformist parties of the Second International. But in the former colonial and semi-colonial countries the case is somewhat different.
  17. Any attempt to approach such a complex and changing scenario with fixed schema derived from a political reality from an entirely different context and historical traditions is bound to fail. Here more than anywhere else what is required is the dialectical method of analysis, which takes things in their concrete life and development, with all their complex interrelations and contradictory aspects.
  18. In a discussion about Latin America, Trotsky explained the nature of these parties or movements:

229. The 4th International recognizes all the democratic tasks of the State in the struggle for national independence, but the Mexican section of the Fourth is in competition with the national bourgeoisie, as the only leadership able to ensure the victory of the masses in the struggle against imperialism. In the agrarian question we support the expropriations. This does not mean, let it be understood, that we support the national bourgeoisie. In all cases where it clashes directly with imperialism and its reactionary fascist agents, we give it full revolutionary support, maintaining the full independence of our organisation, programme and party and our full freedom of criticism. The Kuomintang in China, the PRM in Mexico, the APRA in Peru are entirely analogous organisations. They are the popular front in the form of a party (…), a popular front in a single party, as in all combinations of this kind. The leadership is in the hands of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie fears its workers. This is why the party, although strong enough to take power, is afraid to commit itself in this direction. It has neither the courage nor the class interest to mobilize the peasantry and the workers and will replace them with military manoeuvres or a direct intervention by the United States. Obviously we cannot enter such a party, but we can build a nucleus there to win over workers and separate them from the bourgeoisie. But in no way must we repeat the idiocies of Stalin with the Kuomintang in China (…).”

  1. Trotsky’s definition of “popular fronts in a single party” may not be strictly applicable in every case. The Uruguayan Frente Amplio, for instance, is in fact not a party at all but a coalition of different formations, while the Mexican PRD, the PPP in Pakistan, more than true parties, are movements with a bourgeois leadership but which at the same time enjoy the support of decisive sectors of the workers and peasants. In the case of the Peruvian APRA, Trotsky suggested building a nucleus of workers, keeping themselves distinct politically and organisationally. This shows Trotsky’s great flexibility when approaching tactical questions.
  2. It is often objected that Trotsky opposed the dissolution of the Chinese Communist Party into the bourgeois Kuomintang in the 1920s. But this is a false analogy. The CPC at that time was a mass workers’ organisation with a following of millions. The Stalinists dissolved the Party into the Kuomintang and completely subordinated the Chinese Communists to Chiang Kai-shek. That was a crime. But the forces of Marxism in Latin America are not mass parties. On the contrary, our task is precisely to win the masses for Marxism.
  3. In cases like this, the Marxists must intervene to help the proletarian revolutionary element break from the policies of popular frontism, demanding a break with the bourgeoisie and the implementation of policies in the interests of the workers and peasants.
  4. Pakistan
  5. For some years the Pakistani Marxists have been working in the PPP, a party that has a mass following among the workers and peasants, although its leading layer is composed mainly of bourgeois and feudal elements. It goes without saying that in Pakistan, as in all other countries, the aim of the Marxist tendency is to win over the workers and peasants. This requires an implacable and unceasing struggle against the corrupt bourgeois and feudal elements in the leadership.
  6. As a result of the serious work of the Pakistani Marxists over many years, the Marxist Tendency is in a very strong position. This is known to the PPP leaders, who now head the government. The position in the country is disastrous: price hikes, unemployment, poverty, electricity, water and gas shortages, redundancies, privatizations and other factors have created a situation for the working masses that is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.
  7. We do not think that the present furious attacks against the tendency are an accident at this particular time. Nor do we think it an accident that our enemies have singled out the Pakistan Marxists for their particular attention. It is an extraordinary achievement that in a poor, backward Islamic state, the forces of Marxism have made such striking gains. This is known all over the world – both to our friends and our enemies.
  8. The PPP leaders, by basing themselves on bankrupt Pakistan capitalism, were compelled to start a series of attacks on the working class. To make matters worse, Zardari promised the Americans total submission that even Musharraf was incapable of providing. This regime has given all-out and blind support to the imperialist aggression that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Zardari government carried out a right-wing, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist policy from the very beginning.
  9. The PPP leaders entered a coalition government with the right-wing Muslim League, which we had also predicted in advance. We said that the PPP leaders would need such a coalition as a cover for carrying out unpopular policies. The policy of the Marxists  was quite clear: “Break the coalition! Carry out the founding programme of the PPP!” This has got an echo in the PPP rank and file.
  10. Therefore our comrades are also under attack from the state forces, who understand that they are the only serious revolutionary force in Pakistan. The right-wing PPP leaders are working closely with these same state forces and the US imperialists who see Pakistan as a necessary tool for waging their dirty war in Afghanistan. Zardari is only a tool of Washington. At least for the time being, the imperialists need Zardari, who is their puppet. Therefore, they are interested in the elimination of the PPP Left in general, and the Marxists in particular.
  11. The Pakistan Marxists are fighting against these right-wing policies and the theory of reconciliation. They stand for a socialist programme both outside and inside the PPP. The rank and file inside the PPP is also reacting against these policies. The workers abhor people who try to defend the President, Prime Minister and their stooges. This situation entirely confirms our perspectives for the PPP. The workers and peasants of Pakistan turned massively to the PPP after the return of BB. They voted for the PPP in the hope of a change. But their hopes have been dashed. They had to pass through the school of Zardari in order to learn the real nature of the PPP leaders. And they are learning fast.
  12. Cracks are opening up inside the PPP that will widen with time and experience. We have no intention of abandoning the PPP, but it would be fatal for us to be seen as defending the anti-working class policies of Zardari, which are alienating the masses and preparing the way for the return of reaction. Our position is that of Lenin: “patiently explain”. This will attract an ever increasing number of people towards our revolutionary ideology.
  13. There have been many splits in the PPP in the past – both right-wing splits and left-wing splits, but they could not capture the tradition. For example, Murtaza Bhutto was killed because he was moving to the left and was to some extent under the influence of our ideas. In the next period there will be many crises and splits. There will be a tremendous ferment in the PPP, in which the Marxist wing can gain influence and strength. A policy of capitulation to Zardari would cut them off completely from the workers and the PPP rank and file. What is required is to build the forces of Marxism quantitatively and qualitatively.
  14. There is no short cut to revolution. Before the Marxists can conquer power, they must first conquer the masses. In Pakistan they have made spectacular progress in this respect, as everyone is well aware. The comrades are working in the PPP but always maintaining the position of revolutionary socialism.
  15. Our role, however, is not limited to Pakistan. Our successes have had a big impact in neighbouring countries. The immediate priority of the Pakistan comrades is to develop work in India, where they have a large number of sympathisers and where it is quite evident that the work will have to be developed in the communist movement, which has a mass basis in India, in spite of the betrayal by its leaders who have been in government in Bengal, carrying out privatization policies and vicious attacks on the living conditions of the masses.
  16. In these conditions Marxist ideas are also getting an echo among Maoists. Many of our books have been published in India and are being widely read by the most critical elements within the Indian communist movement.
  17. Venezuela and Bolivia
  18. In Latin America, in a revolutionary process that has swept across the continent and that we have carefully analysed in these years, we have seen the creation of new mass organisations. This is the case with the Venezuelan PSUV and the Bolivian MAS.
  19. A revolution signifies the eruption of the masses onto the stage of history. In such cases, the old parties, leaders and programmes are put severely to the test. They can be transformed, or discarded, in which case the masses will seek out a new banner and a new leadership.
  20. What, however, must always be remembered by the Marxists is that such new formations do not emerge from small sectarian groups on the fringes of the labour movement. They emerge as mass phenomena, either from movements such as that of the Brazilian metalworkers that led to the formation of the PT, or from processes such as the Venezuelan Revolution that has thrown up the PSUV around the figure of Chavez. Once these new parties are formed they assume the position of the traditional mass organisation of the working class.
  21. In Venezuela and Bolivia, the old traditional formations were discredited. The revolutionary wave found its political expression in new mass formations: the Bolivarian Movement and the MAS. In Europe we saw something similar in the 1970s, in a period of deep crisis, when, after the fall of the military Junta in Greece, Andreas Papandreu formed the Pasok, an entirely new party with a radical socialist programme. A similar process took place in Brazil with the birth of the PT, starting from the movement of industrial workers of the ABC belt of São Paulo, in the struggle against the dictatorship.
  22. The PSUV in Venezuela is a mass party (with a paper membership of 7 million, but with 2.5 million taking part in the voting for delegates to the Second Extraordinary Congress). In a mass party of this character, the contradictory tendencies in society will be manifested in an open clash between the reformist and the revolutionary sector. It is quite evident that this represents an extraordinary opportunity for the Marxist tendency.
  23. Unfortunately the leaders of the former section, who had been miseducated in a sectarian spirit in Spain, only paid lip service to work in the PSUV, and in the last few months they sabotaged the work in preparation for the extraordinary congress. The new Venezuelan group has put work in the PSUV at the top of its list of priorities, and in a very short time has obtained excellent results. In the last analysis, the fate of the Venezuelan Revolution will be decided by the internal struggle between the right and left wings of the PSUV. Because of sectarian stupidity we have wasted a lot of time. The Venezuelan Marxists must now work hard to catch up.
  24. The Bolivian MAS was not born basing itself on the traditional force of the Bolivian labour movement, the COB. It is a front of social and trade union organisations, particularly peasant and intellectual (the Comités por la dignidad – Committees for dignity). The sectarian mistakes of the COB enabled this party to take on a leading role in the revolutionary process which unfolded between 2003 and 2005.
  25. The MAS was really a by-product of a revolutionary process, although it included former Stalinist, Guevarist and Maoist tendencies. Its references to socialism, although confused ideologically (primitive-indigenous) mark a difference between this party and APRA, which had a decidedly bourgeois leadership and was totally dominated by American imperialism.
  26. An independent workers’ party in Bolivia today can only arise from the MAS. It is therefore fundamental to work in the MAS (as well as in the COB on a trade union level) with this perspective.
  27. Argentina
  28. The peculiarities of political life in the colonial countries were explained in a masterly way in Trotsky’s writings on Latin America:

258. In industrially backward countries foreign capital has a decisive function. Hence the relative weakness of the national bourgeoisie in comparison with the national proletariat. This leads to a particular kind of state power. The government steers a course between foreign capital and native capital, between the weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively strong proletariat. This gives the government a bonapartist character of a particular kind. It stands, as it were, above the classes. In reality it can govern either by becoming an instrument of foreign capital and keeping the proletariat chained by a police dictatorship or by manoeuvring with the proletariat and even giving it some concessions, thus guaranteeing itself the possibility of a certain freedom in the face of foreign capitalists. The present policy (of Cárdenas) falls into the second category: his biggest achievements are the expropriation of the railways and the oil industry. These measures come directly in the context of state capitalism. However, in a semicolonial country, state capitalism comes under heavy pressure from foreign private capital and its governments and cannot stand without the active support of the workers. For this reason, without letting slip the real power, it tries to place on the workers’ organisations a considerable part of the responsibility for the performance of production in the nationalized sectors of industry”. (Leon Trotsky, Nationalized industry and workers’ management, 1938).

  1. For this reason historically in many colonial countries the organisational boundaries between workers’ and bourgeois parties are much less sharp than in the advanced capitalist countries. This has been particularly true in Latin America because of the pernicious role played by the Stalinists, with their suicidal popular front policies, which have contributed to destroying the Communist parties, reducing them to a minimum (with the exception of Chile and to some extent Colombia).
  2. In Argentina this process had gone further than in any other country with the phenomenon of Peronism, which has been able to dominate the labour movement for over 60 years. The Argentinian “Trotskyists” for a time worked in the Peronist movement. This was a good example of the kind of peculiar hybrid and contradictory animals that can arise in former colonial or ex-colonial countries. In the Peronist Movement there was every conceivable tendency, ranging from para-fascist tendencies and workers’ tendencies and even ultra-left tendencies such as the Montoneros.
  3. Only in the mid 1980s a real opportunity opened in Argentina to build a small party independent from Peronism, the MAS. At the time we had a small nucleus of comrades who had the chance to enter that formation in leading positions, but the opportunity was not grasped, and the group, which maintained an orientation towards the Peronist movement, fell apart. At the same time the MAS broke up, torn apart by the internal divisions of Morenism. The result has been the fracturing of the Left in Argentina into several fairly large sects, which partly succeeded in influencing the youth and a layer of advanced workers, but are organically incapable of penetrating the mass of the working class.
  4. The trade union movement is still today controlled substantially by the Peronist CGT, although the CTA, a left split-off from the CGT, could give rise in the future to a movement for the formation of an independent party of the Argentinian working class. To the left of Peronism there have for years been a number of groups with a few thousand members between them (PO, PTS, MST) whose organic sectarianism makes them incapable of having a significant effect on the general movement of the class or of opening a process of unification on the left which might contribute to the formation of this party, as was shown for the umpteenth time in the Argentinazo in 2001.
  5. The main task of the Argentinian Marxists is therefore to create a nucleus of cadres with clear ideas and connect up with the political formations gravitating around the CTA, which could give shape to this perspective. Among these is Pino Solanas’ Proyecto Sur.
  6. Mexico
  7. In general, wherever there is a real (and not imaginary) possibility of forming significant workers’ parties starting from splits within such formations, the Marxists must be in the front line in this process. In the next few years this could be the case in Mexico, where there is an interesting development: a sharp struggle has opened up between the right wing of the PRD and the movement organised around López Obrador, a current called Izquierda Social (Social Left).
  8. A significant episode occurred in the Iztapalapa by-election in 2009, where the right of the party imposed a candidate hated by the majority of the members. In this context López Obrador and the PRD Left called for a vote for the candidate of the PT (Workers’ Party), a smaller formation of Maoist origin. The former leaders of the Mexican section managed to make a mess of things, advocating a vote for the PRD right wing candidate, in a rare exercise of combining the crudest opportunism with the most extreme sectarianism.
  9. The PT is a party of dubious origin (apparently there was the hand of the state apparatus in its formation), but in Mexico City at the moment it has very left-wing positions and is asking the Marxists to collaborate.
  10. Our present orientation is towards López Obrador’s Izquierda Social. In the presidential elections of 2012 the right wing of the party will try not to have López Obrador stand again. If this should happen, it is possible that he will split away and, together with the PT and other movements, could form a new party of the Left. This would be a decisive step forward for the labour movement and would provide extremely fertile ground for the work of our Mexican comrades.
  11. Brazil
  12. The working-class nature of the Brazilian PT is unquestionable, even though the political leadership in recent years has been totally subordinate to the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Brazilian Marxists have a long experience of work and enjoy a great authority in the ranks of the party, despite Lula’s move to the right. At the primaries for the presidential candidate their comrade, in spite of ballot-rigging, won 3,500 preference votes. With only 1% of the delegates to the last congress (10 delegates in all), the authority of the leading comrades enabled them to have an important impact and even influence the position of the party, for example on the question of racial quotas.

271. The base of the section in some of the most important industrial areas of the country is well known thanks to the role we played in the occupied factories movement (Cipla, Flasko etc.) in Brazil and on a continental scale. Our main demand in Brazil is that the PT must break with the bourgeoisie. The left split-offs from the PT in recent years (PSOL) have not been able to offer an alternative and do not enjoy a good state of health. It is in the PT that we must maintain our intervention.

  1. However, it is interesting to note that in one of the two Brazilian communist parties (the one outside the government) there is a “re-thinking” process taking place. This party, which in the past had judged the PT to be a “conspiracy of the regime”, is today addressing our tendency with the intent of opening up a political dialogue. This is a new element considering that the two CPs in Brazil (pro-Russian and pro-Albanian) have always been very opportunist, quite impervious to Trotskyist ideas.
  2. Chile
  3. In Latin America there were some of the most Stalinist communist parties in the world. But even here the nature of some Stalinist formations is changing to some degree. They have stopped considering Trotskyists as enemies of the working class and are looking for a “new identity”. Not only must we not avoid engaging with this development, but on the contrary we ourselves must promote it. Mistakes have been made in the past in relation to Stalinist formations, which we must not repeat.
  4. For example in Chile in the 1980s a group of Young Communists asked one of our leading comrades to join the Communist Youth to win it over to a revolutionary policy. The then (Taaffeite) leaders in the CWI in Chile considered it inappropriate to dedicate even a part of their forces to work among the Communist Party activists. They saw this as abandoning their orientation towards the PSC (Chilean Socialist Party). It was clear that many of the more proletarian and combative elements of the workers and youth were in and around the Communist Party (in the difficult conditions under the dictatorship), so the opportunity was lost.
  5. El Salvador
  6. The question of El Salvador needs a historical note. The FMLN was born as the military leadership of the Salvadorian revolution as an alliance of different groups and mass organisations, with the Communist Party playing a key role.
  7. After the end of the civil war, with the peace agreements, a movement arose in the ranks against those currents of bourgeois and petty bourgeois “renovadores” (“renewers”) who wanted to steer the party towards socialdemocracy.
  8. In the Convention of December 2000, which was to define the line and strategy of the party in a direct, secret vote among all the members, the right-wing currents were not recognized and the party statute confirmed the “revolutionary socialist” character of the party. In November 2001, when the leading bodies were elected (again by direct secret vote among the membership), the revolutionary sector crushed the renovadores. On the basis of a left turn the FMLN won the 2003 municipal elections and then the general election in 2004. The internal struggle continued, however, until the election victory of 2009, when Funes (representative of the right) became president.
  9. The FMLN is thus a movement where there has been a victory in open struggle by the working-class, socialist sector against the liquidationist, bourgeois factions. The party should obviously not be confused with the government. Funes has created a popular front government, but the party has its own internal dynamics, as shown by the case of the 5th International, rejected by Funes and enthusiastically supported by the party.
  10. The BPJ, which has a long history of struggle, is highly considered by the rank and file of the FMLN. It is therefore important that we play a role in this struggle. The BPJ is not at present affiliated to the FMLN, nor does it represent a rank-and-file youth organisation. We must discuss whether an outside intervention or a united front line towards the FMLN can be maintained as such or whether we should consider the possibility of calling for the affiliation of the BPJ to the FMLN.
  11. The USA and Canada
  12. The question of a workers’ party in the USA has been on the table for some time but it still remains unresolved. There is no party of the working class, and for this reason the Marxists present themselves to the movement as an independent force, the aim of which is to recruit and train the cadres of Marxism in the most powerful country on earth. This work is difficult and will be slow at first. But in a situation of deep crisis the conditions in the USA can change with lightening speed.
  13. It is interesting to note that in the American unions there is growing pressure from below and a widespread demand for an alternative policy to the Democratic Party. The Obamamania has rapidly died down. A series of movements, still confused and amorphous, are arising which present independent “socialist” candidates, of ecologists and pacifist and libertarian movements. These are the first signs of a process that will mature in the coming years.
  14. In the meantime it is important to build the tendency, which already has established the first nuclei in a number of key areas. We must train our comrades to be ready to take bold initiatives and to prepare an intervention in the mass organisations when the opportunity arises.
  15. In Canada the Marxists are working in the NDP, but they have also skilfully combined this with open work, for example in the use of the Venezuela solidarity campaign and work in the trade unions. In particular in Ontario they have achieved some results among the youth. However, in the French-speaking area, the wave of the anti-global movement has given rise to a formation where the Marxists have faction rights, Quebec Solidaire, where the Canadian CP and other left-wing formations, all very small, have entered. The Canadian comrades are campaigning for QS to develop in the direction of a genuine workers’ Party. 

287.       The 5th International

  1. Our attitude to the proposal by President Chávez to set up a 5th International represents a natural development of our work in the workers’ parties. As an organisation the Fourth International died a long time ago and it cannot be revived. It exists only in the ideas of its founder, Leon Trotsky, which are represented today by the  Marxist tendency. We therefore consider that the proposal to work for a new International represents a step forward in the process of aggregation of revolutionary forces internationally.
  2. The proposal has been addressed to the communist, socialist and anti-capitalist parties and currents around the world. The analogy that suggests itself is that of the First International.
  3. Within the framework of the Fifth International the Marxists will campaign for the ideas of genuine socialism, just as they do in each country in the parties where they work. The Marxists will form part of it as a definite tendency and identity, with their own programme and ideas, maintaining complete political and full organisational independence.
  4. But the new International is as yet in an embryonic phase. It can develop in a number of different directions. It may not get past the initial stage. There is obviously a danger that this project may fail, degenerate or be transformed into a tool of the Venezuelan bureaucracy, but this will be determined by a clash between living forces in which we must play our part, right from the beginning. The launching of the International has already produced a line of demarcation in Latin America between the forces that consider themselves revolutionary and the right reformists (led by Lula) who oppose it, together with the reformists of the São Paulo Forum.
  5. In the parties where we work we must agitate in the coming months in favour of affiliation to the 5th International. This is particularly important in the European Communist Parties, some of which are resisting the idea of the International. The Stalinist tendency is generally hostile because of their organic chauvinism, and this is a concrete way of exposing them as a national-reformist tendency and winning over the better elements in their ranks who will be naturally sympathetic to proletarian internationalism.
  6. In the cases of parties that form part of the Socialist International this will not be possible, but we can still use the issue for propaganda and educational work, explaining the need for a genuine socialist International, explaining the history of the Internationals, etc. It can have an enormous appeal for radicalised layers of the youth and advanced workers. Where possible, we should set up committees in support of the 5th International, which will enable us to gather forces and get contacts. This can be linked to the work of the Venezuelan solidarity campaign, and is a way of politicizing the campaign and carrying it to a higher level.
  7. Conclusions
  8. What sets us apart from all the other tendencies that claim to be Trotskyists is, on the one hand, our painstaking attitude to theory, on the other, our approach towards the mass organisations. As opposed to all the other groups we take as our starting point the well-established fact that when the workers move into action, they will not go towards some small grouping on the fringes of the Labour movement. They will inevitably express themselves through their traditional mass organisations.
  9. The whole history of the international labour movement confirms this. The Third Communist International - as we have seen - was not born out of small sects, nor did it descend ready-formed from the clouds, but developed from the left wing of the Second Socialist International. The Bolsheviks were a faction of the same party as the Mensheviks for many years before emerging as an independent force. The French and Italian Communist Parties developed from within the Socialist Parties. The German Communist Party likewise gained its mass force from a split to the left of the SPD.
  10. The entire history of the international workers’ movement in the twentieth century has furnished us with a wealth of material to show the way in which the working class and its organisations develop. From the study of the workers’ movement over several decades, comrade EG drew the following inescapable conclusion: that when the mass of the workers enter the arena of struggle to change society, they inevitably gravitate, in the first instance, to the traditional mass organisations. The reason for this phenomenon is not difficult to see.
  11. The mass of the workers—and even the greater part of the advanced elements of the class—do not learn from books, but only from experience, and particularly the experience of great events. Consequently, every generation of workers must re-learn through painful experience the lessons of the past. Where a strong and educated Marxist tendency is present, the process by which the class reaches the correct conclusions can be considerably shortened. This was the case with the Bolshevik Party in 1917. The success of the Bolshevik Party was, however, by no means guaranteed in advance.
  12. The polarisation of society to the right and the left will be replicated at a certain point within the labour and trade union organisations. At the moment there seems little evidence of this. The workers' organisations are largely empty, and the leadership has swung far to the right - so far that some people have even written them off altogether. This is foolish in the extreme. The reason that the leadership has gone far to the right is that the class has not yet begun to move in a decisive way.
  13. The crisis of capitalism is opening new contradictions and will do so even more in the future. Today’s small achievements can be transformed tomorrow into big conquests and a significant advance of the forces of Marxism. We must learn from these historical examples, and develop a perspective for the future. The workers will be forced by the crisis of capitalism to go once more onto the offensive. Where will they go? Again, they can only go to the traditional mass organisations, and we have to prepare to intervene in that process.
  14. In the meantime does that mean that we sit in party branches waiting for the masses to arrive? That would be ridiculous. In the conditions of today we must find channels to the most advanced workers and youth. We must intervene in working class and student struggles and offer an alternative. On this basis we can build up the forces of a Marxist tendency to prepare to intervene in the mass organisations in the future. That is why we have to develop flexible tactics, but without abandoning the fundamental perspective on the traditional mass organisations of the working class.
  15. Today, at least in most of the advanced capitalist countries, the conditions for a rapid development of a mass Marxist party do not exist. There are still big illusions in reformism. These will not go away simply by declaring the revolutionary party. The illusions of the masses will be torn down by events themselves. Capitalism is entering a period of great convulsions. Big movements will take place. The workers will put their traditional mass organisations to the test. Over a period of years they will come to the conclusion that the leaders of these organisations offer no real alternative.
  16. The workers will put pressure on these organisations and a process of radicalisation will take place similar to what happened after the First World War, in the 1930s, after the Second World War and in the 1970s. On that basis with a correct orientation a small Marxist force can begin to grow rapidly. But to achieve that, the nucleus of that Marxist force must be built now. That is why now we must know how to win the best workers and youth now, while at the same time maintaining a perspective for the future developments inside the mass organisations.


The Absurdity of the IMT position on Intranets and facebook!

posted 11 Mar 2010, 03:54 by Admin uk   [ updated 11 Mar 2010, 08:19 ]

All comments in Red from Heiko Khoo

4) Resolution on Intranet Forums 
1.This IEC pledges to uphold the democracy and security of the International. All differences and discussions should be channelled through the existing structures of the organisation. 
2.This IEC for reasons of internal democracy and security rejects the setting up of online discussion forums (intranet). Such mechanisms are wide open to security breaches where our internal material would be easily made available to our enemies. This has already occurred. They are in flagrant contradiction with our existing policy making structures. They would be dominated by those with plenty of time and immediate access to the Internet and would tend to exclude those comrades with restricted time and access. This is a recipe for substituting control by elected leading bodies by the rule of unelected and self-appointed cliques. 
3.The "assurances" that it will be "strictly controlled" and "for members only" are worth nothing. In the period that opens up, and especially with our growing success, witch-hunts and attacks on the organisation will become more frequent. As this intranet will make available all our internal material in electronic form, such sites would be a magnet for provocateurs and infiltrators, eager to get their hands on compromising internal material. It greatly increases the risk of expulsions, proscriptions and witch-hunts in a number of countries and also of state repression in others. This is completely unacceptable. 
4.For these reasons, this IEC places a ban on intranet sites and calls on sections to keep all discussions and disagreements within our internal channels. 
[Passed unanimously, Friday March 6]


Remarks on the stupidity of this position. Heiko Khoo

4) Resolution on Intranet Forums 
1.This IEC pledges to uphold the democracy and security of the International. All differences and discussions should be channelled through the existing structures of the organisation.
According to the constitution of the IMT (see official documents) branches and CC members can demand the dissemination of any document within 28 days. (this was designed to allow printing and postage in the pre-internet era.)
The idea that all differences and discussions should be channelled through the existing structures means by definition, that the differences and discussions have to be severely restricted. There are only a few leaders and the meetings of the 'existing structures' meet only occasionally, (British CC 10 times a year, the IEC, 2 times a year, the world congress once every 2 years.) Thus, either all differences must be eliminated before they are discussed,  or the meetings would have to be held so often that they could cope with the quantity of differences and discussions.

Clearly the fact that there have been several splits, walkouts, explusions, and conflicting views, (over China, work in the mass parties, entryism, the transitional society, technology, economics, methods of recruitment and the political development of members,) indicates that the leadership will inevitably consider ALL DIFFERENCES AND DISCUSSIONS channelled through them to be an annoyance and hindrance to their work. Annoyance and antagonism increases on all sides, and splits, clashes and explusions follow inevitably.



2.This IEC for reasons of internal democracy and security rejects the setting up of online discussion forums (intranet). (Sadly the IEC do not even know what an Intranet is, it is not an online discussion forum, it is a place to securely share internal information on the internet.)
Such mechanisms are wide open to security breaches where our internal material would be easily made available to our enemies. (by definition an intranet is a secure space not open to the public, therefore if you have concerns about security they must relate to the specific form of security on an intranet not to the principle of insecurity of intranets' themselves. Which members of the IEC know the slightest thing about intranet security issues?) (Which enemies does this refer to? In the book "In Defence of the Realm the Authorised history of MI5" it is 100% clear that the security services have always had access to our documents and correspondence, futhermore having worked with the leading comrades on sensitive issues, I know from first hand experience that the International leaders have zero knowledge or awareness of security and protection from the secret services) This has already occurred. They are in flagrant contradiction with our existing policy making structures. (your policy making structures came into existence before the new means of communications became ubiquitous) They would be dominated by those with plenty of time and immediate access to the Internet and would tend to exclude those comrades with restricted time and access. (This is a law concerning any political activity, however this is falsely presented, for if someone has little time, they are more likely to have time to turn on their computer at home than attend a meeting in Spain every two years, or even a weekly branch meeting) In fact, in the USA for example, the average adult spends 3 hrs on the Internet every day, therefore participation via the internet or an Intranet, opens up far greater avenues for participation than a branch meeting could ever do and if it supplements and cross ferilizes a branch, that is excellent.
This is a recipe for substituting control by elected leading bodies by the rule of unelected and self-appointed cliques. (This is utter stupidity! In fact it is a means of enhancing the intellectual abilities of the organization and organizational power by bringing otherwise isolated and separated individual comrades who normally only meet once a week or less into daily participation in the tendency on a world scale.)
3.The "assurances" that it will be "strictly controlled" and "for members only" are worth nothing. (what does are worth noting mean? Are they worth impementing?) In the period that opens up, and especially with our growing success, witch-hunts and attacks on the organisation will become more frequent.

(
The IS keep harping on about the security of the comrades in Denmark! I was expelled for endangering the work of the Danish comrades, who claim they are under mortal threat! (I am being sarcastic here) As far as I know Denmark is one of the most free bourgeois democratic states in the world. All the leading comrades are on facebook, their web sites link to Marxist.com, they publish documents in their own names for our web site and then pretend that they face state and bureaucratic repression, comrades please wake up! The same stupid argument was used about work in the Greek left wing coalition! Perhaps these comrades should try to work for a few days in real underground conditions, then they will see exactly why underground conditions ABOVE ALL OTHERS requires intranets to collaborate and function effectively under dictatorships.

As this intranet will make available all our internal material in electronic form, such sites would be a magnet for provocateurs and infiltrators, eager to get their hands on compromising internal material. (which people are they and what is the character this "compromising internal material"?) It greatly increases the risk of expulsions, proscriptions and witch-hunts in a number of countries and also of state repression in others. This is completely unacceptable.
This is a further absurdity! One suspects that the real motivation behind this luddite and ignorant outlook is that the leadership fear a loss of authority through open and ongoing internal discussions. Discussions where their ideas can be subject to systematic cross-examination by many comrades at once, rather than at rally or at show trial type "discussions of differences". Therefore the leadership want to generate a blind faith in themselves based on the idea that they are facing state repression, witchunts and so on. Therefore to them discussions are an irritant. After all is Alan Woods not Karl Marx, Lenin and Trotsky in one person?

4.For these reasons, this IEC places a ban on intranet sites and calls on sections to keep all discussions and disagreements within our internal channels. 
[Passed unanimously, Friday March 6]


World Perspectives review

posted 10 Mar 2010, 23:25 by Admin uk   [ updated 18 Apr 2010, 06:04 ]

The 2010 world perspectives document reviewed, amended, corrected. A work in progress.
All changes in colours

HK

Colour Key
Questionable statements

Problems and disagreements
Irrelevant information or quotes




...................

1.    The Crisis of Capitalism and the tasks of the Marxists

2.    Draft document for IMT World Congress, 2010

3.    Introduction

4.    Two decades have passed since the fall of Stalinism. In this period we have experienced an unprecedented ideological offensive of the bourgeoisie. The pressure of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology on the workers’ movement has increased a thousand fold. Alien ideas have had an effect inside the international labour movement. Many people deserted the movement altogether. Others remained but were infected by moods of scepticism and cynicism about the perspective of socialism.

5.    In this period of confusion, ideological backsliding and apostasy, revisionist ideas flourished, (Was there a less revisionsism before the Berlin Wall fell?) reflecting the pressures of capitalism. Such periods are not exceptional. (What aspect of this period is commonplace?) We have seen all this before and we have heard all the same arguments. In general, the revisionists have never improved on the arguments that Bernstein put far better one hundred years ago: that capitalism has solved its problems, that economic crises are a thing of the past, that class struggle and revolution is no longer on the agenda, that we need “new ideas” to replace the “old” ideas of Marx and Engels, and so on and so forth. (with whom is this a dialogue? Who are the people or groups that the paragraph refers to?)

6.    Our International stood firmly against these tendencies. We stand for Marxism, and for a revolutionary class policy. (is Marxism not automatically a revolutionary class policy? ) Events have proved that we were right to do so. Our 2006 World Perspectives document stated that we have entered a period of extreme turbulence on a world scale, a period of crisis, wars, revolution and counter-revolution: a period in which the economic, social, and political crises all condition one another. (was the claim not that we live in the MOST TURBULENT period in history? ) We believe that this general characterisation of the period was correct, and the present situation closely reflects this.
7.    We live in a period of turmoil and crises, a period in which the whole situation can be transformed in a matter of weeks or even days. The general instability was manifested in a particularly dramatic way by the financial collapse that was quickly followed by a world economic slump on a scale not seen since the Second World War. On the political plane, the revolutionary events in Honduras and, above all, Iran, which to many seemed to drop like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky, showed the inevitability of sharp and sudden turns in the situation. (Is there something new about this phrase being used?)Now Greece stands on the brink of financial collapse and social upheaval.
8.    This very turbulence makes the task of perspectives more difficult. (Why in the human world?) It is well known that whereas classical physics could easily explain and predict the laminar flow of liquids, it could not explain or predict turbulence, which has a complex and chaotic character. (is this well known?) In a situation like the present, which has a clearly transitional character marking the difference between one historical period and another, a correct theoretical analysis is more necessary than ever – but also more complicated than ever.
9.    “It is in just such periods that all sorts of transitional, intermediate situations and combinations arise, as a matter of necessity, which upset the customary patterns and doubly require a sustained theoretical attention. In a word, if in the pacific and “organic” period (before the war) one could still live on the revenue from a few ready made abstractions, in our time each new event forcefully brings home the most important law of the dialectic: The truth is always concrete.” (Leon Trotsky, Bonapartism and Fascism, July 1934) (Is this inserted to imply we are in a similar period to 1934?)
10.    This is a period of (“small”) wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions, which can last years or decades (is this not too broad a period "years or decades" to generalize about) before a final denouement (the idea of a "final denoument" is an empty rhetorical and/or Stalinist final crisis theory) is placed on the agenda. This general analysis, however, by no means exhausts the question. (you have not actually said anything here that can be called a general analysis) There is a danger of a one-sided and mechanical interpretation of perspectives, which, if it is not corrected, can lead to serious mistakes. The general characterization cannot explain all the numerous changes, the vicissitudes of the economic cycle, the ebbs and flows of the class struggle, the various crises and splits in the mass organizations. (Your so called general characterization is actually wrong so no wonder if one follows it one acts mechanically, the concept is mechanical. You are referring to the views of the former Spanish leadership of the IMT here, so say this don't talk in shadows.)

11.    However, we must maintain a sense of proportion. Because of the absence of the subjective factor despite the overall favourable balance of class forces, a rapid movement in the direction of revolution or reaction is ruled out in the advanced capitalist countries. (The absence of the subjective factor cannot decide the pace of both revolution and reaction, is it not more logical to state what exists rather than say something that does not exist governs the processes that exist?) The period of revolution, wars and counterrevolutions will last, with ebbs and flows, not months but decades. (What do you mean the period of revolution? Are we in the period of revolution? or are you simply repeating Lenin's thesis, in which case why the emphasis as if it is a theory you have worked out relating to the present day?) It does not mean that the revolution will take place at nine o’clock next Monday morning, or that the workers’ movement is in a permanent state of uninterrupted ascent, with no defeats and reverses. Such a conception bears not the slightest resemblance to Marxist perspectives. (Is this again a mechanical misrepresentation as criticism of a the former Spanish section?)
12.    This is not a simple question, but a complex, dialectical process. The transition from one period to another, very different one will produce convulsive changes in the relationships between classes and between states. These pressures inevitably come to bear on our own organization and members. (But surely we need to know the consequences of this transition of society before we work out its affect on our organisation, but no doubt this is to come later?) Trotsky wrote in On the Policy of the KAPD, November 24, 1920:
13.    “A whole series of offensives followed by retreats, of uprisings followed by defeats; transitions from attack to defence, and throughout: critical self-analysis, self-purification, splits, re-evaluations of leaders and of methods, new splits and new unifications. In this crucible of struggle, and on the anvil of revolutionary experiences never before equalled, a genuine Communist Party is being forged. A contemptuous attitude toward this process as if it were a tussle among “leaders” or a family squabble among opportunists, etc – such an attitude is proof of extreme nearsightedness, not to say blindness.” (Is this quote needed?)
14.    Contradictory process
15.    Marx explained that the key to all social development is the development of the productive forces. The present crisis shows that the development of the productive forces on a world scale has gone beyond the narrow limits of private property and the nation state. That is the most fundamental reason for the present crisis. (How is the specific to the present crisis?) But the slump was delayed for a long time, (the slump was delayed? Or there was another process happening i.e. the profit rates and capitalist cycle was conducive to economic growth not slump) and there was a period of economic growth, although this was at the expense of the working class and the masses, particularly in the ex-colonial countries. (Which growth is not at the expense of the working class?)

16.    In a broad historical sense, this was true long ago. Already in 1938 Trotsky wrote. “Objectively speaking, the conditions for world Socialist revolution are not only ripe and mature, but they are rotten ripe!” The situation has revealed its bankruptcy from a historical point of view. Yet we are left with a paradox. If this is true, why is it that the forces of Marxism still remain a tiny minority? The mere repetition of general propositions and abstract formulae is wholly insufficient to explain the concrete reality of the stage through which we are passing. Yes because you always state that the slump is the primary tendency, there is no means of explaining periods of growth within your scenario, or better said no means predicting which phase we are entering and which we are passing through. This leads to errors in political intervention based on voluntarism as the method of development.

17.    Most people want to get back to the “good old days”. The leaders of the working class, the trade union leaders, the Social Democratic leaders, the former Communists, the Bolivarian leaders, etc., all encourage the idea that this crisis is something temporary. (of course the crisis is something temporary) They imagine it can be solved by making some adjustments to the existing system. And when we talk of the subjective factor, of the leadership, we must also understand that for us the leadership of these organizations is not a subjective factor.
How can the
leadership of the workers movement their outlook and orientation not be a subjective factor????? It If the theory that the crisis of mankind is the crisis of leadership of the working class then this must mean this is the subjective factor. The task of revolutionaries is to win the leadership of the working class and replace the subjective factors hindering revolution with forces leading revolutionary struggle.
It has become an important part of the objective situation, which for a time can hold the process back. (if you say they are simply an objective factor then they are passive objects to be broken down and defeated.)

18.    At this moment in time, the bourgeois economists and politicians, and above all, all the reformists, (the reformists naturally seek to retain stability as this is the only viable scenario to maintain their programme, positions, prestige and power) are desperately seeking some sort of revival to get out of this crisis. They look to the recovery of the business cycle as salvation. (what other revival might there be?)  They are constantly talking about the “green shoots” of recovery. The reformists imagine that all that is needed is more control and regulation, and that we can return to the previous conditions. This is false. This crisis is not a normal crisis, it is not temporary. Of course it IS temporary, as any crisis is, even though it may mark an important transformation to say it is not temporary implies capitalism has entered an era of permanent crisis. It marks a fundamental turning point in the process. However, that does not mean that there cannot be a recovery of the business cycle. Indeed, all the latest data indicate that some sort of recovery has begun.

19.    The most fundamental answer to that question (what question?) must be found in the dialectical contradiction between the objective situation and the way in which this is perceived by the masses. Human consciousness is innately conservative. The masses stubbornly cling to the existing forms and ideas of society until they are compelled to abandon these ideas on the basis of the massive hammer-blows of events. But sooner or later, consciousness catches up with reality in a series of explosions. This is the basic mechanism of revolution. (would it not be better to use human or even flora and fauna analogies rather than mechanical or chemical ones?)

20.    In the advanced capitalist countries the workers’ consciousness has been shaped by the experience of the past half century, during which they learned to consider full employment, rising living standards and reforms as the normal conditions. (the era from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s was not an era of an era of slow organic progressive reforms as you imply, there were major counter-reforms, big defeats for the workers movement and victories for big business interests for most of the advanced capitalist countries.) It is therefore natural that they believe that the present crisis will be only a temporary aberration, after which “normal” conditions will be resumed. But in fact, the last fifty years was not a normal period but an historical exception. It will take time for the workers to understand this, but eventually they will learn a harsh lesson in the school of life.

21.    The economy

22.    The last two years have seen the deepest crisis since the Second World War. Now the bourgeoisie is desperately trying to recover the economic equilibrium, which has been shattered by the collapse of the boom. The problem that they face is that all the measures that they have taken to restore the economic equilibrium will completely destroy the social and political equilibrium. They are hoping that the economic crisis is already surmounted.

23.    The recent contraction in production was the sharpest in a hundred years. The US economy was the motor force for the boom. Now that motor has stalled. (Again a purely mechanical analogy and a poor one. If a "motor has stalled" then you just need to restart the motor.) In May, 2009, the rate of capacity utilization for industry in the USA declined to 68.3 percent, 12.6% below the average for 1972-2008. The national debt has piled up, the currency is being debased. As a result, the foundations of the economy are being further undermined. There will be new shocks, which can put an end to the recovery before it has been consolidated. So is the firm consolidation of a recovery a possible scenario at present? Or are you saying you simply have no idea, but when something goes wrong you can point and say, there told you there would be new shocks?

24.    It is clear that some kind of recovery in the business cycle has already begun. But the recovery is uneven and feeble and full of contradictions. It is impossible to predict the timing of the process. The timing of what process, business cycles, contractions, stagnation and recessions, or all of the above? Many people have analysed these questions and have drawn conclusions what are yours? For that, we would require not scientific perspectives but a crystal ball. Economics never was an exact science and never will be. The fact that somethig is not an exact science does not mean you have no predictive ability, health care is not an exact science but the life expectancy of a patient with lung cancer can be predicted relatively accurately by analysing the data on other cases. You can predict economic events by analysis, not only can you predict slumps but booms as well by assessing the data and drawing historical parallels. Or are you saying the collapse of the credit bubble and housing bubble were impossible to predict? Thats does not mean you have a crystal ball, but surely Marxists are supposed to be advoctes of the idea that economic activity is plannable? Therefore to some extent you must be able to predict economic activity. This does not mean there are no limits to predictive economic futurology, but it does mean you can make progressively more precise predictions. It may be that data collection and assessment provide tools to facilitate predictability. China managed to increase its economic growth at almost precisely the predicted rate, was this accidental?

But it is possible to understand the fundamental processes and the general direction we are moving. But there is no methology explains as to what is it is possible to forecast and what is out of the scope of Marxist method. And it is equally clear that a weak and jobless recovery based on increased borrowing and more savage cuts will not solve any of the problems facing capitalism. On the contrary, it will prepare a new and deeper economic crisis, and above all a deeper social and political crisis. This may or may not be true but you provide only assertion.
25.    US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues have cited “tentative signs” of the recession easing in some consumer spending, home building and other reports. After four consecutive quarters of contraction, US GDP grew by 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009, and an estimated 5.7% in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the economic picture remains grim and concerns that there could be a “double dip” recession remain. Overall, the US economy declined 2.4 percent in 2009, the largest drop since 1946. A slowdown in growth is projected for the first quarter of 2010, as 60% of the late-year growth was the result of companies rebuilding stockpiles depleted by the recession, which has a positive knock-on effect throughout the economy. However, this kind of growth has its limits. With consumer spending projected to remain muted, eventually the stockpiling will come to an end. This is simply repeating the views of various 'bourgeois journalists' where are your views?
26.    More important from the perspective of the Marxists, is the effect this constant instability is having on workers' consciousness. The American economy lost jobs every month for 23 months in a row, a steeper fall than during the Great Depression. (source please?) In October, 2009, the average work week remained at just 33 hours, the lowest on record, giving employers plenty of room to extend existing employees’ hours, not to mention to expand usage of existing industrial capacity before adding new workers or building new factories. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics 11,000 jobs were lost in November 2009, after months of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time. This was the smallest monthly total since the recession began in late 2007, and the overall unemployment rate fell slightly from 10.2% to 10.0%. The fact that such results were hailed as a success is itself a sombre comment on the seriousness of the situation. The paragraph began as if it was going to describe the effects of instability on workers' consciousness and continued by simply describing the macro level instability and ignoring workers' consciousness. No doubt this comes later.
27.    The US government has pumped in vast sums of money (how much is a vast sum of money?) and this is reflected in a growth of employment in education, health services, and government. However, savage cuts in state and local budgets are now beginning to drag on the economy. Even the services sector, which accounts for some 2/3 of the economy, has been shrinking, as fewer people have money to spend on non-essential expenses. (Are services necessarily non-essential? And given that you state services are 66% of the economy why is "Even" used when it is obvious that in an sharp recession the service sector is bound to shrink.)

The subsidies to the big automobile companies have led to a modest expansion in manufacturing activity. But the statistics suggests that increasing activity in manufacturing has largely been because of the replenishment of depleted inventories, and does not represent a long term solution. Other than social revolution what does represent a 'long term' solution, or is there none?

28.    The US unemployment rate has now surpassed 10 percent for the first time since 1983, and will probably hover around that level for some time. Sounds likely but where does this projection come from and what is it based upon? In some states in the so-called rust belt, for example, Ohio and Michigan, it is substantially higher. If those working part time or no longer looking for work were included, the real rate would be closer to 17.5%. One in five American men of working age are unemployed. For immigrants and blacks it is even worse. 34.5 percent of young African American men are unemployed. The youth are also severely affected. For example, in Maryland, the unemployment rate for workers under twenty was approximately 50 percent in August 2009, while the picture was even worse in Washington, DC with 55 percent of those under twenty terminally unemployed.
Would a simple statement that unemployment is high with one or two facts not be enough here?
This disastrous situation has important implications for the future. Why does it have 'important implications for the future' why not now? If in the future what are these implications, are they even accross the USA, are there racial, political, cultural changes that will occur because of this, if so what are they likely to be?

29.    2009 ended with total job losses of 4.2 million and an average unemployment rate of 9.3%. That’s compared to an average of 4.6 percent in 2007. Over 7.2 million jobs have evaporated since the recession began in December 2007, three times the number lost during the 1980-82 recession. The official unemployment rate for January, 2010 remained at 10 percent, with 85,000 more jobs being lost in December, far more than the 8,000 many analysts expected. When the “underemployment rate” is figured in, taking into account those workers hired part-time but wanting full-time work as well as those who are too discouraged to actively seek work, the rate goes as high as 17.3 percent. More of the same this has nothing to do with perspectives unless you link the data to some Marxist method of analysis of undemployment, investment, profits, growth rate or soci-political transformations that may follow from the data.

30.    At the end of 2009, those unable to find work for six months or longer rose to 5.6 million, or 35.6%, a new record. For workers, the so-called jobless recovery is no recovery at all. There are six workers looking for every job available. Since the American economy needs to add around 125,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth, this optimism of the bourgeois represents the triumph of hope over experience. More of the same.

31.    The Federal Reserve believes unemployment will stay high well into 2011, and most economists do not think it will return to “normal” levels (around 5 percent) until 2013. Over 5.2% of all jobs have been cut since the recession began. Heidi Shierholz, an economist at Economic Policy Institute in Washington, has said that the US suffers from a “jobs gap” of nearly 10 million. To close that gap and get back to pre-recession levels in two years would require more than 500,000 new jobs per month, a pace of job creation that has not been seen since 1950-51. More of the same.

32.    It is the effect of this situation on workers' consciousness that most interests us. repetition of paragraph 26 likewise no answer to the rhetorical statement is given! What kind of recovery is it when nearly 16 million people can’t find work? How can the GDP rebound when there are millions fewer jobs than there were two years ago? The answer is simple: the capitalists are making fewer workers do more work for less pay. According to the Department of Labour, productivity – the amount produced per worker per hour – rose by 9.5% in the 3rd quarter, after rising 6.9% in the 2nd. Wages and benefits were up just 1.5 percent in 2009, the weakest showing on records that go back to 1982. Less purchasing power means fewer goods can be bought; in an economy 70% reliant on consumer spending, this means that an eventual slowdown is inevitable. more of the same

33.    Public borrowing is spiralling out of control. Sooner or later this will feed through to higher interest rates and inflation. These are mortal dangers to a sustained recovery. Under these conditions, even when the recession ends, the economies of the USA and other key capitalist countries will remain feeble and unemployment will remain at high levels. No evidence is provided for these assertions it simply tailends the analysis of sceptical analysts of the financial press therefore it should state who said such things rather than imply these are your own conclusions on the basis of your own analysis. The crisis is being used by the capitalists to force the workers in the advanced capitalist countries to accept a new, lower standard of living. This is a finished recipe for explosions of the class struggle in the years ahead. These last two sentences are the only perpectives component of the above long section on US unemployment and economy. "a finished recipe for explosions of class struggle" is however an completely empty phrase with no value either to Marxists or anyone else.

34.    For almost 200 years capitalism has moved through a periodic cycle of booms and slumps. However, the present situation is not a “normal” manifestation of the boom-slump cycle, but a transition between entire periods of capitalist development. We have entered a period in which the overall curve of capitalist development is downward. This, of course, does not mean that there can be no development of the productive forces. This statement is thrown in without being backed by any previous evidence. It is a truly sweeping prognosis claiming validity on the basis (apparently of a study of 200 years of capitalist economic cycles.)
According to this assessment capitalism has entered an epoch in which "overall curve of capitalist development is downward" what exactly does this mean? It sounds profound and deep, but it is utterly and completely hollow. And it's empty rhetorical trickery has a get out clause, "of course" there can still be "development of the productive forces". Phewww for a moment I thought the final crisis of capitalism had come! But given that our great Marxists have discovered an overall downward curve, is one allowed to ask what is meant by this? Is "capitalist China" in the down curve too? 

35.    Lenin explained that there is no such thing as an impossible situation for capitalism. There is no such thing as a “final” crisis of the system. The bourgeois will always find a way out of even the deepest crisis unless and until the system is overthrown by the conscious action of the working class. They will undoubtedly get out of the present crisis. The question, however, is this: how they do this and at whose cost? Even in periods of downswing, there can be temporary revivals, just as a dying man can rally, and even create the impression that he has completely recovered. Such rallies are followed by even more serious relapses. Lenin keeps us on track thank heavens, because otherwise paragraph 34 implied everything was headed to that "final denouement"mentioned in paragraph 10. The if they will undoubtedly get out of this crisis why is this crisis neccessarily the start of an overall downward curve? Where is the evidence? Downward in relation to what? Growth? Living standards? Certain countries? A slide towards war? What exactly is the meaning of this "downward curve" you prognosticize about?

36.    This is a moment to reflect on fundamentals and work out the most likely line of development. It is necessary to understand the fundamental processes at all levels, not merely incidentals and episodic trends. Just when one expects such reflection and working out of the line of development and fundamental processes we are given ...a Trotsky quote! This is a complex, dialectical process, which we must follow carefully through all its stages. As Trotsky explained in The Curve of Capitalist Development (1923): “Still more, a transition from one epoch of this kind to a different one must naturally produce the greatest convulsions in the relationships between classes and between states.” That is the kind of period into which we have entered. The quote is rapidly followed by a hollow assertion.

37.    Ted Grant predicted that in the event of a deep slump, the bourgeoisie would use the colossal resources that it has accumulated over the last fifty years to avoid total collapse. This is exactly what they are doing. The present crisis, which caught the bourgeois completely by surprise, has provoked a wave of panic in governments all over the world.(Is this true? If the bourgeoisie are using their collosal reserves, why do they need to borrow money and make cuts? In fact the only major country using their "collosal reserves" is the Peoples' Republic of China. The USA, most if not all European countries, and Japan have borrowed money from the taxpayer in order to "avoid total collapse" so why has Ted been dragged in by the hair to make a false assertion from 50 years ago apply today, how barren must then author's stock of knowledge be to use such methods?)
In order to prevent the worst effects of the crisis, they have resorted to unprecedented measures. The bourgeoisie fears the social and political effects of a deep slump and has been forced to use up a big part of its reserves to prevent it. It was able to do this because it had accumulated a layer of fat over decades of economic growth. But this is now reaching its limits. More empty assertions!

38.    For decades the bourgeois economists argued that the state must not interfere with the market, which was considered to be a self-regulating mechanism. But when the crisis hit, the only thing keeping the system afloat was state intervention. Aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus in the US and China, and, to a lesser extent, in the Euro zone and Japan, has so far prevented a complete collapse on the lines of 1929. But such measures cannot produce a sustained economic recovery and the measures they are taking will create new contradictions that will be even more difficult to surmount.

39.    A “crisis of credit”?

40.    The bourgeois economists cannot explain the recession. They say it was caused by the credit crunch and the resulting squeeze on demand. All bourgeois economists argue this? However, Marx pointed out that it is not the lack of money (“liquidity”) that causes a crisis, but the crisis itself that causes a lack of money. (is there a "lack of money?" Does this have some connection with the crisis? Surely it is not about a lack of money but a lack of sufficiently profitable fields of investment?) The same is true of credit. Marx explained that credit enables the capitalists temporarily to go beyond the limits of the system. But an increase in credit does not signify a sustainable increase in production. Of course credit can lead to sustainable increases in production it depends under capitalism on the rate of profit which determines if the capitalists use that credit to produce a 'sustainable increase in production". It can temporarily increase demand and consumption, but only at the cost of aggravating the slump when it finally comes. What causes the increasing production to be reduced, what causes the capitalists to stop investing in a "sustainable increase in proiduction?" We see this precisely in the present crisis, in which the crisis of overproduction has been enormously exacerbated by the sharp drop in demand in the USA, as a result of the sharp contraction of credit. You fail to explain why there is a crisis of overproduction and its connection to the profit rate.

41.    The bourgeois have resorted to borrowing on an unprecedented scale, building up huge deficits. (I thought in paragraph 37 you were claiming they are using their collossal reserves? Surely you can recall what you wrote 4 paragraphs earlier?) Now they are going still further and increasing the money supply through what they call “quantitative easing”. This is theoretically unsound and disastrous in practice. It assumes that the problems of the economy are of insolvency and lack of credit. If this were true then it should be possible to get out of the crisis by providing cheap credit and by printing and spending more money. But it is not true. Great! Now explain why and we the we can convince people of the superiority of Marxist ideas.

42.    There is always a grain of truth in the arguments of the bourgeois economists, although they are one-sided and undialectical. They are not capable of seeing all sides of the process. Milton Freidman was correct when he argued that Keynesian deficit financing would cause an explosion of inflation. But the Keynesians were also correct when they pointed out that cutting state expenditure and lowering wages will have the opposite effect: reducing demand and aggravating and prolonging the slump. However, their solutions are no solutions: one cannot solve the crisis by increasing state expenditure through borrowing and creating huge debts to be paid with interest in the future. Nor is it possible to conjure money out of mid-air without eventually driving up inflation. This was tried in the 1970s, when it led to an explosion of inflation and a huge upsurge of the class struggle in one country after another. Thus, the bourgeois are trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. The entire paragraph is simply assertion again.

43.    There is nothing fundamentally new in the present crisis, (I thought this was the transformation from one epoch to another and a start of a permanent downward curve and the path to the final denouement?) except for its extraordinary extent and depth. This in turn is only a reflection of the contradictions accumulated in the previous boom. In any period of upswing, speculation and swindling flourishes. But when the bubble bursts, the swindles are exposed and confidence collapses. The bourgeois who participated so eagerly in the merry carnival of money-making, dress themselves in rags, pour ashes on their heads, and beat their breasts, proclaiming that they have learned their lesson and will never sin again – until the next frenzy of money-making. Just a year after the most acute phase of the crisis, the top officers of the most heavily bailed out corporations are already lavishing themselves with extravagant bonuses and perks, sparking public rage and outcry. (So that is all the boom was speculation and swindling?)

44.    The bourgeoisie was obliged to carry through a large-scale financial policy designed to prevent the economic crisis from descending into a deep slump. As a result, the deficits in the state budget have reached monstrous proportions and private enterprises and banks have been artificially kept in operation; in order to avert an even broader collapse. All this is for the political purpose of reflating the fictitious commercial-industrial prosperity of the boom years. But this leaves out of account the small detail that it was this that caused the financial collapse in the first place.

45.    The boom was accompanied by an orgy of speculation that was without parallel in its scope and size. The “respectable” bankers participated enthusiastically in this. Enormous quantities of fictitious capital were injected into the system in the so-called housing bubble. That was only one example of massive speculative activity based on non-existing values (fictitious capital). The housing bubble was based on houses, i.e. on real though overvalued assets. It was the boom of other non-material assets that constituted the ficticious capital not housing itself. The stock exchanges of the world soared to unheard-of heights. The worldwide market in derivatives was valued at almost $700 trillion just before the collapse, as these figures show:

46.    Global OTC derivatives market, end of June 2009

47.    (In billions of US dollars)
48.    June 2007: 516,407
49.    Dec 2007: 595,738
50.    June 2008: 683,814
51.    Dec 2008: 547,371
52.    June 2009: 604,622

53.    These figures are from the Bank for International Settlements Quarterly Review (December 2009). But, incredibly, now they have rebounded to levels similar to those of the boom years.

54.    This shows the other side of the “recovery”, which is based almost entirely massive amounts of state financing, based on borrowing. It is a desperate attempt on the part of the bourgeois to get out of the crisis by reflating the “bubble”. This is completely irresponsible from the standpoint of orthodox economics. It prepares the way for inflation and rising interest rates, which will lead to a new and even steeper collapse in the future. This is causing alarm among that section of the bourgeois economists who have not entirely lost their heads. (It seems the author thinks that 'orthodox economics' is superior to Keynsian economics but no reason is given for this assertion.) Sooner or later the system will face a painful period of “adjustment” as this fictitious capital is squeezed out of it.

55.    During a boom everyone is willing to lend and borrow as if there were no tomorrow. Credit is easy to come by. You mean during a credit boom where profits are high? But as soon as the economic cycle reaches its end, credit always dries up; everybody becomes parsimonious and wants ready cash, not promises to pay. In place of reckless abandon and irresponsible squandering, a miserly spirit rules. Instead of lending more money, the bankers demand prompt payment of debts. This pushes small and not-so-small firms into bankruptcy and contributes to the downward spiral. Thus, credit and all the other factors that pushed the economy upwards, combine to push it downwards. Dialectically, everything turns into its opposite. What took years to build up can take days to unravel. Banks and others lend to capitalists if the return on investment generates sufficient profits.

56.    To cushion the impact of the financial meltdown, the Federal Reserve slashed lending rates even further to near zero percent and poured money into the banks to spur lending. The US government launched a $787 billion stimulus plan of tax cuts and increased government spending on big public works projects to help boost economic activity. But so far the effect on job creation has been negligible. Just 650,000 jobs have been created or saved, less than were lost in the single month of January, 2009.

57.    Following Britain and the US, the EU also launched stabilization plans. Even the Swiss bourgeois injected massive amounts of capital into their banks, and took emergency measures to prevent a collapse in confidence in the country’s banking system. The bourgeois appear to have succeeded in postponing a deep slump for a certain period, but only at the cost of further disorganizing the financial and “quantitative easing”, which must lead to inflation at a certain stage, with dire consequences for the economy and a new and even more uncontrollable fall at a later date. What is this prediction based upon?

58.    Central bankers have injected huge amounts of liquidity into the money markets in an effort to keep the world’s banks lending to one another. The banking system is now almost totally reliant on public funding, yet despite all these measures, the banks so far remain unwilling to offer credit to any but the most secure of businesses and home buyers. The reason is that they know that the crisis may not yet be over and they are not sure that they will ever get their money back. While nominal interest rates are close to zero, firms and households have reacted slowly because for a time, prices have been falling, and therefore real interest rates remain higher.

59.    The US government has already committed the staggering amount of $11 trillion on subsidies: guarantees, investments, recapitalization and liquidity provision. But all the government efforts to fight the downturn have had only a mild effect, without solving anything fundamental. This is because they do not deal with the fundamental cause of the crisis, which is not the lack of credit but overproduction. All the government programmes to stimulate demand will be insufficient to balance supply with demand, which is a central problem of the unplanned and anarchic capitalist mode of production.

60.    Overproduction

61.    “The fundamental cause of crisis in capitalist society, a phenomenon peculiar to capitalist society alone, lies in the inevitable over-production of both consumer and capital goods for the purpose of capitalist production. There can be all sorts of secondary causes of crisis, particularly in a period of capitalist development – partial over-production in only some industries; financial juggling on the stock exchange; inflationary swindles; disproportions in production; and a whole host of others – but the fundamental cause of crisis lies in over-production. This in turn, is caused by the market economy, and the division of society into mutually conflicting classes.”

62.    This is what Ted Grant wrote decades ago in Will There be a Slump? It has been shown to be correct. The real cause of the crisis is overproduction: there is a global glut of capacity (housing, automobiles and consumer durables). It will take years to work out this glut. It is this, not the lack of credit that is obstructing the expansion of industry. When the politicians complain that, after all the money they have received, the bankers are not lending, the latter reply that when they offer to lend money, there are no takers. Naturally! A fictitious boom based on state expenditure will very quickly run up against the limits of demand. Now that workers can no longer borrow against high house prices, there is even less room to artificially expand demand.

63.    The motor force of any real recovery is manufacturing and construction. But this is prevented by overproduction in these sectors as well (also referred to as “oversupply” or “overcapacity” by modern bourgeois economists). Everywhere, office blocks stand empty and construction is at a virtual standstill. With falling demand on a world scale, the capitalists are compelled to resort to mass layoffs, part-time work and factory closures. This is graphic proof of the inability of capitalism to absorb the colossal productive potential that it has created. For example, there is world overproduction in steel. There is “too much steel” (for the limits of the capitalist system, that is). This is, to a large extent, related to the sharp fall in the production in cars.

64.    Businessweek asks an interesting question: how can overproduction exist?

65.    “For economists, overcapacity is a tricky concept. Human wants are unlimited, so how could the world ever produce too much of a good thing? The key is what people can pay. In many goods sectors, prices still aren’t low enough to bring forth enough. There will have to be some combination of falling prices and destruction of productive capacity before supply and demand come into balance. […] The question is how that balance will be achieved.” (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_07/b4119000357826.htm)

66.    This question goes to the heart of the matter. Capitalism is unplanned production for profit, not rationally planned production for the satisfaction of human needs. There is no reason why the supply of cars, steel, food or anything else should coincide with what the economists call “effective demand”. The whole history of capitalism is the history of crises caused by the contradiction between the enormous capacity of capitalism to produce for the sake of profit, and the necessarily limited purchasing power of the masses (“demand”), which gives rise to periodic crises of overproduction.

67.    In the modern epoch, overproduction manifests itself as overcapacity. During the crisis the levels of capacity utilization fell sharply in all the developed capitalist countries, for example: Overcapacity is a permanent feature of capitalism in the modern epoch, so are you are saying there is always a crisis of overproduction " in the modern epoch, overproduction manifests itself as overcapacity" There are simply degrees of severity of the crisis of overcapacity, capitalism is in permanent crisis!

68.    USA

69.    The Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization Data from the Federal Reserve give the following figures:

70.    2009 April (low point): 68.28%
71.    2009 December: 72%
72.    1982 December: 70.8%

73.    Japan

74.    Index, 2000=100
75.    Feb-08: 110
76.    Feb-09: 62.61
77.    Aug-09: 81.75
78.    i.e. capacity utilization almost halved between February 2008 and February 2009.
(Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific, IMF, October 2009)

79.    A study from "NLI research" estimated Q1 2009 capacity utilization to be 50.4%.

80.    Euro-zone

81.    The capacity utilization rate in the euro area at the end of July 2009 stood at 69.5%, well below its long-term average of 81.6%. Especially hard hit were the producers of capital goods (67.6%). In the automotive industry, capacity utilization even went to below 60%.

82.    These figures are from the European Central Bank.
83.    (http://www.dowjones.de/site/2009/09/ezb-niedrige-kapazit%C3%A4tsauslastung-beeinflusst-inflation-kaum.html)

84.    Turkey
85.    Jun-08: 82.3%
86.    Jan-09: 63.8%
87.    Jul-09: 72.3%
88.    Dec-09: 69.7%
89.    These are the official statistics of the Turkish Statistical Institute press release (12 January)

90.    Canada
91.    Q3 2008: 78.9%
92.    Q3 2009: 67.5%
93.    These are official figures according to Statistics Canada

94.    Thailand
95.    Q4 2007: 73.12%
96.    Q1 2009: 58.09%
97.    Q4 2009: 67.20%
98.    (Bank of Thailand)

99.    These are record post-War lows. In some of the poorer countries, however, the situation is even worse, with capacity utilization of 50% or less.

100.    The automobile industry is a clear example. In 2008 global capacity utilization in industry fell to 70.9% – a rate 10% below its average from 1979 to 2008. This is a historic low, and equal to the level reached in December 1982. The magazine Autos (31/12/08) carried an article with the title, “Automakers’ Overcapacity Problem,” and the subtitle, “Automakers have to cut factory overhang without losing their ability to ramp back up when people start buying cars again.” This expresses the capitalists’ dilemma very clearly. The world automobile industry has the capacity to produce 94 million vehicles every year. On the basis of present sales, this is about 34 million too many, equivalent to the output of 100 plants.

101.    Global overcapacity in the auto sector of approximately 30% means that the big car makers could close one third of their factories and would still find it difficult to sell everything they produce. Automakers expect sales to revive, starting in 2011. But no one realistically thinks they can take out 34 million vehicles’ worth of production by then. Above all, automakers are relying on population growth and an increase in sales in 2013 as people start replacing old vehicles. Even then there will be “too many” factories.

102.    For this reason, General Motors has elaborated a massive restructuring plan that includes cutting more than 21,000 US factory jobs. Timken Co., the bearings and specialty steel maker, has indicated it will cut about 4,000 more jobs. The same phenomenon is being repeated in one form or another as hundreds of thousands of “excess capacity” workers are being thrown out of their jobs. These are among the best-paid jobs, often with union representation, while the few jobs that are being created are usually non-union and offer cut-rate wages and few, if any, benefits.

103.    The fact this is a crisis of overproduction has now penetrated the heads of even the most obtuse bourgeois who for years have denied the possibility of such a thing. An article in the right wing Conservative paper, The Telegraph (15 August, 2009), states this very clearly:

104.    “Too many steel mills have been built, too many plants making cars, computer chips or solar panels, too many ships, too many houses. They have outstripped the spending power of those supposed to buy the products. This is more or less what happened in the 1920s when electrification and Ford’s assembly line methods lifted output faster than wages. It is a key reason why the Slump proved so intractable, though debt then was far lower than today.”

Does this mean you think the bourgeois now understand their crisis?

105.    Toyota, Honda and Nissan have cut back on their profit margins. They are slowing production, cutting contract workers, and postponing plans to open more factories. At the same time, they aim to re-establish their market share once US demand revives. The problem is that they will face stiff competition from the US car industry, which is in a deep crisis. In North America the car industry has the capacity to build some seven million more vehicles than the market can absorb. That is why the bourgeois are so gloomy. They know that unless and until overproduction is eliminated, no serious and sustained economic recovery is possible. What exactly do you mean? Until capacity is fully utilised? Or until the US industry defeats the Japanese? Is there no question of profit rates determining investment?

106.    Global overcapacity leads to falling prices for consumers, but increased competition and falling profits for the capitalists. Here we are talking not of a falling rate of profit, why not? but a fall in the mass of profit, why? which must lead to a cutback in production, why? increasing unemployment, bankruptcies and factory closures. In a shrinking global market, domestic producers must compete with imports. (Only in a shrinking market? Or do you mean the competition is fiercer?) Carmakers and steel producers face a "vicious circle" – a downward spiral of declining output, prices, and profits. Do capitalists invest for profit or for output and prices? It seems you are extending your confusion in Marxist economics into the analysis off the modern world in a way that negates the essence of the Marxist theory of the nature of capitalism. Capitalists don't invest to make more goods, or to get good prices, they invest for profits!  Falling car production means a fall in demand for steel, electricity, oil, and many other components involved in car production.

107.    According to Michelle Hill of the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, in order to recover profitability, (in the last paragraph you said "we are not talking of a falling rate of profit" to discuss this exlusively from the concept of the need to "recover the mass of profits" implies that the car makers adhere to a unified national plan to increase the mass of profit by increasing capacity utilisation which is contradicted by the next part of this sentence) the US automakers will have to close at least a dozen of their 53 North American factories in the next few years. (i.e. they will be happy to recover the rate of profit with less goods made) The only way to eliminate overcapacity is by the systematic destruction of the productive forces: factories are closed as if they were matchboxes, workers are thrown out of work, and machines are left to rust until, eventually, new markets and fields of investment emerge. (Where do these new markets come from and why would there be new fields of investment except for a high enough rate of profit to make investment "viable"?)

108.    This is what the bourgeois economists call “creative destruction”. It resembles the Greek mythological figure Procrustes, who cut off the limbs of his guests to make them fit in his bed. The central contradiction is between the confines of the nation state and the world market, which has long ago outgrown the narrow limits of national markets.

109.    Expansion of world trade

110.    The main factor that enabled capitalism to avoid a deep slump for so long was the huge upswing of world trade (“globalization”). What was that? Let me reword it to make it clearer. The huge upswing was what enabled capitalism not to be in a huge downswing! The period between the World Wars was characterised by a wave of protectionism and competitive devaluations that depressed world trade and intensified the slump for a decade. For reasons we have explained elsewhere (See Ted Grant: Will there be a Slump?), the period that followed 1945 was completely different. At that time, the USA possessed two thirds of the available gold in the world and its industries were intact, whereas Europe and Japan were still struggling to emerge after the War.

111.    The dollar was “as good as gold” and became the world currency (with the pound sterling in second place). The Marshall Plan and the post-War reconstruction boom in Europe led to a new economic upswing that lasted for more than two decades. The unparalleled expansion of world trade enabled the bourgeois, partially and temporarily, to resolve one of the most fundamental contradictions: the limitations of the nation state. As a result, science and technology grew faster than at any time in history. Capitalism showed, probably for the last time, what this system of exploitation was capable of achieving. On the basis of huge investments, the bourgeois achieved results that would have astonished Marx and Engels. When did this period of huge investments and staggering progress in science and technology end, for the last time?

112.    This process has been deepened and intensified in the last two decades. The collapse of the USSR and the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe, and the entry of China and India into the world market signified the participation of about two billion more people in the capitalist world economy as never before. This fact, in itself, represented an enormous stimulus to world trade and a further intensification of the world division of labour. Every country is now dependent on the world market and that is the meaning of “globalization”. (are you saying that the last period 1989 till today was also a period able to "partiallly and temporarily" develop "for the last time". So was that two last times? 1945-1973 and 1989-2007 Or just one last time? 1945-1973

113.    But that is now reaching its limits. For the first time since 1982, world trade has fallen steeply – 14.4% in 2009. Although it is expected to grow again in 2010, this was a very serious collapse, which reveals the other side of globalization. Integration in the world market means that all the so-called emerging economies are now subject to the fluctuations of the latter. They have all been affected by the recession and falling demand in the USA, where consumption has fallen and protectionism is increasing. Globalization manifests itself as a global crisis of capitalism. This fact is now realised by the more serious strategists of capital: Who are the serious and who are the unserious strategists?

114.    “The scale and speed of synchronized global economic contraction is really unprecedented (at least since the Great Depression), with a free fall of GDP, income, consumption, industrial production, employment, exports, imports, residential investment and, more ominously, capital expenditures around the world. And now many emerging markets are on the verge of a fully fledged financial crisis, starting with emerging Europe.” (Financial Times, 3/05/09)

115.    These lines express a fundamental contradiction. In a slump, prices, profits and wages fall in a vicious downward spiral. In the last three months of 2008, consumer prices in the US fell at a staggering annual rate of nearly 13%. Prices fell for all sorts of goods, ranging from clothing to TVs to furniture, as retailers advertised sale after sale. Given the collapse of aggregate demand (consumption, residential investment, capital expenditure in the corporate sector, business inventories and exports), the stimulus from government spending is totally insufficient to revive the economy in a sustainable manner. Even with the over $11 trillion in government bailouts and guarantees (most, if not all of it, borrowed), the US financial system is effectively insolvent.

116.    The capitalists are compelled to unload their commodities on a saturated market by savage discounting, even selling at a loss. They are trying to do the same in world markets. Protectionism is an attempt to export unemployment. In a period of boom, the bourgeois can reach an amicable agreement to share the loot. But in a slump, the slogan of the hour is: “every man for himself!” They do not care what happens to the others. This is dangerous for capitalism because it was precisely protectionism and competitive devaluations that turned the 1929 Crash into the Great Depression.

117.    Protectionist tendencies are already emerging. Western European governments are giving their carmakers money only if they agree not to close plants at home. Companies like Volkswagen and Renault are planning to cut back production in Spain, Portugal and Italy in order to keep plants open in Germany and France. The US automakers are cutting back on their European operations for the same reason.

118.    The most serious conflict is between China, the USA and Europe. China has an interest in keeping the yuan pegged to the dollar in order to boost its exports. It allowed the yuan to rise by 21% against the dollar in the three years to July 2008, but since then it has more or less kept the rate fixed. As a result, the yuan’s trade-weighted value has been pulled down by the dollar, while many other currencies have soared. In the first half of 2009, the Brazilian real and the South Korean won gained 42% and 36% respectively against the yuan, seriously eroding those countries’ competitiveness.

119.    Over the ten years to 2008 China’s exports grew by an annual average of 23% in dollar terms, more than twice as fast as world trade. If it continued to expand at this pace, China could account for around one-quarter of world exports within ten years. That would be more than the 18% share of world exports that the USA achieved in the early 1950s (it has since dropped to 8%). An IMF working paper published in 2009 calculated that if China remained as dependent on exports as in recent years, then to sustain annual GDP growth of 8% its share of world exports would have to rise to about 17% by 2020.

120.    However, such predictions are to be regarded with caution. Similar predictions were made in the past about Japan, which at its peak in 1986 achieved 10% – a figure similar to that reached by China this year. Subsequently, however, Japan’s share fell back to less than 5%. Its exports were undermined by the sharp rise in the yen, which appreciated by more than 100% against the dollar between 1985 and 1988. The combined export-market share of the four Asian tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) also peaked at 10% before falling back.

121.    It is likely that China’s exports will grow more slowly over the next decade, as demand in rich economies remains subdued. However, its market share will probably continue to increase. Projections in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook imply that China’s exports will account for 12% of world trade by 2014. But at a certain point it will come up against the barrier of protectionism.

122.    The authors of the above-mentioned IMF paper analysed the global absorption capacity of three export industries – steel, shipbuilding and machinery and concluded that to achieve the required export growth, China would have to reduce prices, which would be increasingly hard to achieve, either from increased productivity or a squeeze in profits. In many export industries, particularly steel, margins are already very small.

123.    China’s exports fell by around 17% in 2009 as a whole, but other countries’ exports fell by even more. As a result China overtook Germany to become the world’s largest exporter and its share of world exports jumped to almost 10%, up from 3% in 1999. In the first ten months of 2009 America imported 15% less from China than in the same period of 2008, but its imports from the rest of the world fell by 33%, lifting China’s market share to a record 19%. So although America’s trade deficit with China narrowed, China now accounts for almost half of America’s total deficit, up from less than one-third in 2008. This has given a fresh impetus to protectionist tendencies:

124.    “Trade frictions with the rest of the world are hotting up. On December 30th America’s International Trade Commission approved new tariffs on imports of Chinese steel pipes, which it ruled were being unfairly subsidized. This is the largest case of its kind so far involving China. On December 22nd European Union governments voted to extend anti-dumping duties on shoes imported from China for another 15 months.” (The Economist Jan 7th 2010)

125.    “Foreign hostility to China’s export dominance is growing. Paul Krugman, the winner of the 2008 Nobel economics prize, wrote recently in the New York Times that by holding down its currency to support exports, China ‘drains much-needed demand away from a depressed world economy’. He argued that countries that are victims of Chinese mercantilism may be right to take protectionist action.” (ibid.)

126.    The Chinese point out that their imports have been stronger than their exports, increasing by 27% in the year to November, when its exports were still falling. America’s exports to China (its third-largest export market) rose by 13% in the year to October, at the same time as its exports to Canada and Mexico (the two countries above China) fell by 14%. On the other hand, China’s merchandise exports have collapsed from 36% of GDP in 2007 to around 24% in 2009 and China’s current-account surplus has fallen from 11% to an estimated 6% of GDP. This means that China helped pull the world economy along during the course of last year. But these arguments will not silence the protectionist chorus.

127.    The conflict between China and the US is becoming more intense. Foreign demands to revalue the yuan are becoming louder and more insistent. But Chinese officials have become bolder in standing up to Washington. On his first visit to China Barack Obama, urged the government to allow its currency to rise. President Hu Jintao politely ignored him. Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, have also called for a stronger yuan. But China is resisting the pressure and has even imposed duties of its own, for example on US and Russian steel.

128.    While singing the praises of free trade, all the bourgeois in the world are preparing for protectionism. The US bourgeois have allowed the dollar to fall, in an attempt to obtain an unfair advantage in world markets and reduce the gaping trade deficit. The “Buy American” policy is a protectionist measure, as are the huge subsidies to US car manufacturers and agriculture. These tendencies will increase in the next period, as every capitalist nation tries to export unemployment and unload its problems onto its rivals. This opens up a scenario more similar to that of the 1930s than the period after 1945.

129.    China

130.    Marxists welcomed the development of the productive forces in China and SE Asia because it strengthens and develops the working class. The development of productive forces is not only progressive because it develops the working class, in fact the development of the working class develops the productive forces, but it is important because it provides the material basis for the improvement inthe living standards and material well being of the masses the peasantry and the proletariat. The illusion was created that the economic growth of China had no limits. (What are th factors that govern it's limits?) But by participating in the capitalist world market, China is now subject to all the contradictions of world capitalism. This is completely and absolutely contradicted by the events of the last two years as JC and HK explained it would. China participating in the world market means it is affected by trade fluctuations but can intervene when there is a downturn in world demand and increase investment as part of the state plan. Unlike the capitalist economies, since the world crisis broke out China has seen a massive rise in investment. The Chinese economy is heavily dependent on trade. China has a trade surplus of 12% of GDP, and according to official statistics it exports close to 40% of GDP, although according to some calculations, once you remove the imports of parts which are then assembled in China and re-exported the real figure is closer to around 10% of GDP. So now you recognise that China is not just an export economy but is driven by internal investment according to plan?

131.    Overproduction on a world scale affects Chinese exports. Millions of Chinese workers have been laid off and factories have been closed. The world economic recession has had the effect of destroying large parts of China's export industry, particularly in light industry, assembly plants, etc. These were overwhelmingly in the private sector. In a number of sectors of heavy industry, like steel, coal and others, the government has introduced plans for “rationalising” production, forcing the “consolidation” of hundreds of small companies into a few (mostly state-owned) giants. You cannot bring yourself to use the N word? China has been busy Nationalizing significant sections of the economy and squeezing the private sector out by a systematic support for the state vis-a-vis the private sector.

132.    Like other countries, China has resorted to a stimulus programme, together with a massive expansion in credit by state banks. (except unlike other countries this led to a rapid economic growth rate. China carried out  the biggest ever investment programme in Chinese history. This has meant an enormous injection of money into the economy. It has been largely directed towards investment, which accounted for 90% of growth during the first half of 2009. Most investment (almost 50% of GDP) is dedicated to the production of more capacity and machinery to produce more goods for export. Another large part of investment goes on residential construction and infrastructure investment. How can a capitalist country keep investing when the profit rate is low? Chinese investment iis overwhelmingly state investment where profit rates are not the determining factor.

133.    The main reason why the Chinese leadership has adopted this course is fear of social unrest which would threaten its own position, power and privileges. There are splits within the CCP and in the state, but these are not between those who want to go back to a planned economy (go back? When exactly was there a planned economy, and when roughly did it cease to be a planned economy 1990, 1999, 2004?) If it closely resembles the period just prior to the date of your theory of transition to capitalism can it not in anyway be said to have gone backl to a planned economy? If not why not? and those who want to continue the consolidation of capitalist property relations, (Look if capitalism was restored then it does not constantly need consolidation) but rather between those who think that a social welfare network and state investment are needed in order to maintain social stability, (who does not say this?) and those who think that the economy should be further “liberalised” in order to maintain economic growth and therefore social stability. Rather than analyse what actually is, the author seeks to fit the facts into their erroneous theories of a year ago, the predictions which flowed from their analysis have all been proven wrong. China will suffer a humdinger of a crisis of overproduction, China may suffer a fall on GDP, China can't possibly reach 5% growth. He who cannot admit errors, is doomed to intellectual immorality.

134.    This does not mean a rolling back of capitalism, but rather the attempt to create strong Chinese-owned companies able to compete in the world market, as well as to somehow attempt to control overcapacity. Why do the strong Chinese companies have to be state owned? Why does the 'capitalist state' not finance and encourage private Chinese companies?  The destruction of small companies and the concentration of capital is part of the normal process of capitalist development. The concentration is not one by big private of small private but of big state consuming small and medium private companies.

135.    This has led to a continued burst of growth, (State takeovers of private sector companies generated growth, or state investment into state companies?) but under conditions of a market economy, will only serve to aggravate the problem of overproduction (overcapacity). The mass of commodities produced must be sold, and China’s internal market is too narrow to absorb them. Most bourgeois economists consider this economic policy to be unsound and unsustainable in the medium and long term. Does this mean that most bourgeois economists are correct in this? What do most Marxist economists think? If this massive investment and increased capacity is then not matched by an increase in exports or domestic consumption, it will lead to companies not being able to repay their loans and a wave of non performing loans, bankruptcies and factory closures. The loans are from state banks to state owned companies. Why should there not be an increase in domestic consumption? Investment is primarily in the Internal market, in the development of infrastructure, or railways, or airports, of ports, expanding intermediate sized cities etc. Why would such activity not generate growth? Where is the Marxist analysis explaining this?

136.    The fate of the Chinese economy (and Asia in general, depends on the perspectives for the capitalist world economy as a whole. The Financial Times writes:

137.    “With massive excess capacity in the industrial manufacturing sector and thousands of firms shutting down, why would private and state-owned firms invest more, even if interest rates are lower and credit is cheaper? Forcing state-owned banks and firms to, respectively, lend and spend/invest more will only increase the size of nonperforming loans and the amount of excess capacity. And with most economic activity and fiscal stimulus being capital – rather than labour-intensive, the drag on job creation will continue.

"Why would state-owned firms invest", because central government orders them to!

138.    “So without a recovery in the US and global economy, there cannot be a sustainable recovery of Chinese growth. And with the US recovery requiring lower consumption, higher private savings and lower trade deficits, a US recovery requires China’s and other surplus countries’ (Japan, Germany, etc.) growth to depend more on domestic demand and less on net exports. But domestic-demand growth is anaemic in surplus countries for cyclical and structural reasons. So a recovery of the global economy cannot occur without a rapid and orderly adjustment of global current account imbalances.” (FT, 3/05/09)

The job creation method is internal investment based expansion of elementary insfrastructure which itself spurs on further internal growth.

139.    This analysis was confirmed by remarks made in January 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by Zhu Min, Executive Vice-President of the Bank of China Group, who told a panel discussion that even rapid growth in Chinese consumption cannot make up for weaker spending in the US. (BusinessWeek). In terms of the world market, China is far less important as a consumer than as a producer. Toy manufacturing in China is faced with a disaster because export orders are drying up and the home market cannot absorb what the factories are producing. Therefore, the USA and Europe is putting pressure on China to reduce its overcapacity by switching from investment to domestic consumption.

140.    The huge expansion of credit has allowed firms to borrow cheaply in order to invest in deposits with a higher rate of return. The massive liquidity boost which the government implemented last year has resulted not only in GDP growth but also to a surge of speculative investments

141.    Average housing prices recently hit $2,200 per square metre in Beijing, one-third the average annual income in the capital. In Shanghai, prices are even higher, having shot up 60 per cent in 2009. Many State Owned Companies, awash with liquidity, diverted funds to speculation in raw materials, the stock exchange and complicated derivatives operations. The Shanghai stock exchange as a result grew by more than 60% in 2009.

142.    Thus we have speculative spending and a continued increase in the phenomenon of overcapacity, which has led to falling prices in some sectors. Steel prices in China are falling, reflecting a global fall in demand. Trade fell in Asia, with a fall in exports of about 40-50% in Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

143.    Here's a very interesting comment about overcapacity in China, written by an Australian economics journalist referring to comments made to him by Yu Yongdin [a former member of the monetary policy committee of the Peoples' Bank of China, a former Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of World Economics and Politics, and President of China Society of World Economics:

144.    "He believes China is trapped in a cycle where constantly rising growth in investment is constantly increasing China’s supply, but consumption has conspicuously failed to grow fast enough to absorb it. And so China is forced to increase investment in order to provide enough demand to absorb the previous round of increased supply, thus creating ever-widening cycles of oversupply.

145.    “In this manner, the investment share of gross domestic product has increased from a quarter of GDP in 2001 to at least half. ‘There is sort of a chase – demand chasing supply and then more demand is needed to chase more supply,’ he says. ‘This is of course an unsustainable process.’

146.    “From 2005 China’s overcapacity problem had been ‘concealed’ by ever-increasing net exports – but that strategy was interrupted by the financial crisis. Then came last year’s globally unprecedented stimulus-investment binge, which might not have been so worrying if it were delivering things that people needed. But the Government’s hand in resource allocation has grown heavier since the crisis without reforms to make officials more responsible for what they spend.

147.    “As a result of the institutional arrangements in China, local governments have an insatiable appetite for grandiose investment projects and sub-optimal allocation of resources,” as Yu previously said, in his Richard Snape lecture for the Productivity Commission in November.

148.    “So there are now airports without towns, highways and high-speed railways running parallel, and towns where peasants are building houses for no reason other than to tear them down again because they know that will earn them more compensation when the local government inevitably appropriates their land. (/http://www.smh.com.au/business/chinas-runaway-growth-train-on-a-dangerous-course-20100124-msll.html)

There are indeed, but is that all there are? Is there no real growth just bungling orgies of speculative investments? Clearly China's capitalists are either smarter than those in the west and the rest of the world, and thereby found some new means of development under capitalism or they are not functioning according to the dominant laws of capitalism. Or as the IMT leadership hope, based on a few bourgeois economists remarks, that one day soon China will collapse economically. Then they can say "see, we told you China would suffer from a crisis of overproduction".

149.    China’s employment has hardly grown, because investment in export-led growth is highly capital-intensive: in 2005, the excess capacity in China’s steel industry was 120 million tons – more than the annual production of Japan, the world’s second-largest producer. That was the position already during the boom. During the slump, China’s unemployment rose rapidly. The official unemployment, which only counts registered urban workers, was estimated in November 2008 at 8.8 million, or 4.3%. But the real figure is much higher. A survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences put the figure for urban unemployment at 9.4%.

150.    Though growth in the cities has been rapid in recent years, the countryside has lagged behind. Peasants were forced to emigrate to seek urban factory jobs. According to a recent government survey, more than 15 per cent of China’s 130 million migrant workers have returned to their hometowns recently, where they are now unemployed. Another 5 million to 6 million new migrants enter the workforce each year. About 26 million Chinese were sacked from their jobs in the manufacturing sector due to the global economic crisis and forced to return to their villages.

151.    This means there are roughly 25 to 26 million rural migrant workers who are now looking for employment. In the countryside, many poor families rely on remittances sent home by migrants working in factories or on urban construction sites. The situation is increasingly explosive. Many factory workers have already taken to the streets. The protests in July and August of 2009 against privatisation and lay offs were particularly significant.

152.    The workers were fighting against the impact of capitalist restructuring of State Owned companies and in one case went as far as lynching the manager sent to take over the factory by the new private owner. This shows the mood of anger that is developing beneath the surface and can lead to an explosion when least expected. The discussion of the class nature of China is important. But we must follow carefully the movements of the Chinese workers and peasants. The Chinese proletariat has been enormously strengthened in the past period, and the workers of China have not yet said their last word. The implication is that the class struggles of the peasantry and the proletariat are not governed by the class nature of the state! i.e the issue of concern is struggle itself not the nature of the struggle or against whom one struggles. ("The movement is everything the final goal nothing." Bernstein) 

153.    World relations

154.    The centre of gravity of world history is moving from West to East: to Asia and the Pacific, and above all to China, which is not only an economic power but also a military power. Sooner or later, this power will come into conflict with the USA for control of Asia and the Pacific. Already China’s huge trade surplus with the USA has provoked protectionist tendencies in the USA. These tendencies will intensify in the next period, as the major capitalist powers seek to unload unemployment onto their rivals.

But if China is about to experience a major crisis of overproduction and economic contraction the surely its perspective for becoming a dominant power will also be affected? If this is so how does this compare with your thesis on the shift to China?

155.    The collapse of the USSR created a situation unique in world history. The USA was the only super-power, and ruled the world through a kind of Pax Americana. In 1999, when Clinton decided to kick Slobodan Milosevic out of Kosovo, he achieved his objective by American air power alone. No country had ever possessed such ability to project power so fast and so massively, to any corner of the globe. The feeling of superiority went to the heads of the men in Washington, leading to a series of foreign military adventures, especially after 9/11.

156.    In the 1930s, Hitler resorted to a massive programme of arms expenditure. In the USA, Roosevelt resorted to the New Deal. This did not solve the crisis in America. What solved the problem of unemployment in America was not the New Deal but the Second World War. The same is true for Germany. Hitler had to go to war in 1938; otherwise the German economy would have collapsed. German capitalism was obliged to try to solve its problems at the expense of Europe.

157.    Hitler invaded Europe and seized all the wealth of France and its other imperialist rivals. However, the perspective of world war now is ruled out. Nowadays, the European capitalists are in competition with the United States. But who is going to fight against the United States? There cannot be a world war under these circumstances. But there will be small wars all the time. Iraq is a small war. Afghanistan is a small war. There is a small war in Somalia. But a direct confrontation between the major powers is ruled out.

158.    The US remains in a class of its own in terms of military – power. Its defence budget exceeds those of its nearest competitors – China, Japan, Western Europe and Russia – combined. Its global military presence is unmatched. But the limits of the power of US imperialism are being reached. In the 19th century, when Britain occupied the same role, capitalism was in a phase of ascent. But now US imperialism has inherited the role of world policeman in the period of the senile decay of capitalism. Instead of benefiting from its role, it suffers a colossal drain.

159.    Russia is only the shadow of the old Soviet Union, burdened by a declining population, mismanagement and corruption. But it is still a major military power, and it is reasserting itself and opposing the advance of US power. Bush thought that Russia would not be able to resist NATO expansion, which was threatening to surround it with hostile bases. He was mistaken.

160.    In September of last year, US President Barack Obama announced that he was shelving plans for missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in a major overhaul of missile defence in Europe. The earlier plan of President George W. Bush would have put a radar installation in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. Obama then reconsidered the proposal to use smaller interceptors in the face of Moscow’s threat that it would station Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington went ahead with its original anti-missile plan. The latest revised plan to install Patriot missiles has resurrected Russia’s suspicions about the motive for the strengthened NATO presence near its borders and has therefore decided to strengthen its Baltic fleet as a counterweight to US plans. This again shows the limits of the power of US imperialism.

161.    Obama has a different approach to foreign policy than his predecessor, at least in form, although not in content. He defends the same imperialist interests, but with a bit more subtlety (that was really not so difficult). He has expanded the overall military budget to an incredible $680 billion – an amount only dreamed of by Reagan and Bush. So-called defence spending now consumes 35-42% of the estimated tax revenues of the USA. Add to that the billions handed out without any accountability whatsoever to the already super rich, and it’s no surprise there is “not enough” money for job creation, schools or health care. It is a new version of “guns before butter”. And for this he gets the Nobel Peace Prize!

162.    Of course, the foreign policy of the USA is dictated by naked interest, not idealism. The economic cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now $1 trillion or more and rising. The cost in lives is also rising and these wars are causing increasing opposition in the USA. Not even the world’s biggest superpower can continue to tolerate such a persistent haemorrhage of blood and gold for long.

163.    The projected deficit for the coming year is nearly 11 percent of the entire economic output of the USA. That is unprecedented in peacetime. During the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the United States ran soaring deficits, but once peace was restored, equilibrium was usually restored. But now things are different. Even on Obama’s own (optimistic) projections, American deficits will not return to what are considered to be sustainable levels for at least 10 years. In fact, in 2019 and 2020 they are expected to start rising again sharply, to more than 5 percent of gross domestic product.

164.    The deficit U.S. federal budget is staggering and can undermine the basis of American power. Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, used to ask the question: “How long can the world’s biggest borrower remain the world’s biggest power?” Obama reminded the country that “the previous administration and previous Congresses created an expensive new drug program, passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and funded two wars without paying for any of it.” Now US capitalism is trapped between a rock and a hard place: in order to keep the system afloat, it is compelled to resort to intense deficit spending.

165.    This means that the deficits must soar to new heights before they can come down. It represents a profound crisis that is reflected in a deep split in the US ruling class. The Republicans, who maintained a discreet silence about the debt during the Bush years, now refuse to talk about tax increases. The Democrats refuse to talk about cutting entitlement programmes.

166.    The US Treasury has borrowed money to finance the government’s deficits at remarkably low rates. This indicates that the markets believe they will be paid back on time and in full. But how long will this confidence last? The USA owes China a lot of money and the Chinese are not sure they will get all of it back. When members of the Chinese leadership visited Washington last year, they asked awkward questions about Mr. Obama’s budget. The Europeans are also worried about the US deficit.

167.    Obama is beginning to draw the necessary conclusions. In early December he announced his plan to send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, but he also made it clear that the United States could not afford to stay there for long. “Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power,” he told cadets at West Point. “It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry […] “That’s why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended,” he said then, “because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.”
168.    For these reasons, Obama has been forced to recognize the limits of US power. He is trying to get out of Iraq. Instead, Obama is to sending 30,000 more troops to join the 68,000 Americans and 39,000 other NATO forces already in Afghanistan. This is about 10,000 less than requested by his commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. It is hoped that the difference will be made up by greater contributions from NATO allies. This is preparing the way for new political crises in the USA and Europe. But it will not make any real difference to the outcome of the war in Afghanistan.
169.    Obama is attempting a tricky balancing act, simultaneously promising to defeat the Taliban while telling Americans that Afghanistan is not an open ended commitment. His declared aim is to bolster the Afghan government, and train and equip the local army and police. But the Karzai regime is utterly corrupt and the Afghan army would not survive one week without the presence of NATO forces. The numerous civilian deaths caused by US air strikes have caused a backlash against the foreign invaders. The Taliban have almost limitless supplies of volunteers and plenty of arms and money from the drug trade that supplies 92 percent of the world’s opium. It has powerful backers in the upper reaches of the Pakistan state and Intelligence.

170.    Karzai has warned that the Afghan army will not be able to fight on its own for “fifteen, maybe twenty years”. Even that estimate is optimistic. Obama’s generals are pressing him to send more troops to Afghanistan, but no matter how many they send, they will have no more success there than the British imperialists in the past. The latter were compelled to purchase peace by bribing the tribal chiefs. The Americans in the end will have no alternative but to do the same. In the long run it will be a lot cheaper.

171.    The US imperialists cannot win the war in Afghanistan, but they have destabilised the whole region. Washington is compelled to work with the Pakistani government in an unsuccessful attempt to crush the Taliban in Pakistan. Obama has promised that “America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent.” But by entering Pakistan like an elephant in a ceramics shop, the USA has completely destabilized that country.

172.    By invading Iraq, all the US imperialists succeeded in doing was to destabilize the whole of the region. All the pro-western regimes there are hanging by a thread: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and also Morocco. These ruling elites were terrified by the demonstrations that took place during the Gaza war.

173.    Obama would like to make a deal with the Palestinians, it would help his friends in the Middle East, and it would be very useful to him. But the Israeli ruling class has its own interests, which do not necessarily coincide with those of Washington, and they are not prepared to reach a meaningful deal. While talking about a deal, Israel’s prime minister leaked news of a new plan to build 900 homes in the occupied Jerusalem suburb of Gilo. All attempts to find ways to freeze or stop this settlement building have proved fruitless.

174.    In reality, the negotiations are a farce. Netanyahu says: “yes we will accept a deal” but he has put conditions which the Palestinians could never accept. They must be disarmed, in effect, they must accept Israeli control. What sort of state is that? What sort of independence is that? As we have said many times, there can be no solution to the Palestinian problem on the basis of capitalism and within the narrow limits of Israel / Palestine.

175.    The impotence of imperialism is also evident in Somalia. They have been dragged into a conflict there that will get them into even greater difficulties. Now Yemen is going the same way. Developments in Pakistan and Somalia potentially present an even greater threat to the imperialists than Iraq or Afghanistan. But they are unwilling to put in more troops because they are still haunted by the memory of Vietnam. Already commentators are drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam. The Vietnam War alerted them to the effect that the colonial revolution can have on the masses at home. The adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan could have a similar effect, not just in the USA but in other countries of the imperialist Coalition.

176.    The colonial revolution

177.    The former colonial countries have partially succeeded in getting rid of direct military-bureaucratic rule by foreign powers. But these countries are exploited by the imperialist countries, which have an even greater control through the mechanism of world trade. They bleed them even more than before. In most of these countries living standards were falling even before the crisis. Now a frightful perspective opens up of hunger, mass unemployment and suffering on an epic scale.

178.    The western liberals talk a lot of sentimental nonsense about the “poor countries”, while continuing to exploit them. These countries have paid back billions in debt repayments, but now owe more than before. The value of the exports of these countries (raw materials and agricultural produce) constantly falls behind that of the manufactured goods they import from the advanced countries. There is no solution to this on the basis of capitalism. This means big explosions in the next period in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

179.    In Africa, the constant threat of a relapse into barbarism is an expression, on the one hand, of the impossibility of solving Africa’s problems on the basis of capitalism, on the other, of the interference of foreign imperialist powers, greedy to get their hands on the huge resources of the continent. Even during the boom there was an absolute nightmare situation Sub-Saharan Africa. What happened in Rwanda was a terrible warning. Similar events can be repeated elsewhere, as we saw in the horrific civil war in the Congo in which at least five or six million people were slaughtered.

180.    Similar atrocities have occurred in Sierra Leone and Uganda. Not long ago Kenya, a relatively stable African country, was on the verge of Civil War. Now a bloody war is taking place in Somalia and the war in Sudan is on the point of breaking out again. There are religious pogroms involving Moslems and Christians in Nigeria. However, in Africa there are key countries where there is a powerful working class: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, where there have been big strikes in the last period.

181.    The huge strikes of the textile workers in 2007 are an indication of what is to come in Egypt in the future. What was most significant in those strikes is that it was the women, dressed in traditional Islamic clothing, women with the chador, who started the strikes and in many factories went over to the men to ask them why they were not striking. These women participated in the factory occupations, sleeping in the factories overnight with their babies. There have also been other important strikes such as those of the teachers. There is a ferment in Egyptian society, which reflects the growing confidence of the working class, in one of the largest and most developed countries in Africa.

182.    In Nigeria in the past decade we have witnessed eight general strikes, and several other important strikes of doctors, university staff, government workers and so on. The NLC (Nigerian Labour Congress) is by far the most popular organisation among the masses. The leaders of the NLC play a significant political role, but they are conscious of the potential power of the Nigerian working class and that is why they have so far not put their full backing behind the newly formed Nigerian Labour Party. If the NLC were to put its official backing behind this party it would undoubtedly become a major force in Nigerian politics. Instead because of this lack of a working class political alternative, the masses can only choose between different gangster bourgeois politicians. The present regime is in fact extremely weak, and remains in power through inertia, and because there is no credible alternative. But the masses are seething, and it is only a question of time before they move again.

183.    The key country in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, is South Africa. The ANC came to power on the basis of a rotten compromise with the white ruling class. The mass of black workers got hardly anything out of the deal. All that happened was that a black bourgeoisie and a black middle class have fused with the white exploiters and the interests of this bourgeoisie was represented by the section of the ANC led by Thabo Mbeki. He was a Stalinist and he became a complete bourgeois and as a result there was an open split in the ANC.

184.    In South Africa a nightmare scenario opens up on the basis of capitalism. The SACP is pursuing reformist policies. The ANC has gone to the right and is doing the dirty work of the bourgeoisie. There are millions of unemployed and only a small number of blacks have become rich and joined the elite. The only thing in the ANC's favour is the mineral wealth, which is exploited for the benefit of the imperialists. This is very unpopular. The black masses were embittered against Mbeki. Zuma has now replaced him, but now South Africa is severely affected by the economic crisis. The masses still have big illusions in the ANC. But their patience has a limit.

185.    The official unemployment is 23.5%; the real rate is much higher. The mass of black workers thought Zuma was going to be on the left, and that he was going to defend their interests. But these illusions did not last long. There have been big strikes in all the major cities of South Africa, not just the buses but the clinics, the traffic officers, the libraries, the parks and the public sector in general. There have been clashes with the police, barricades have been set up and the police have fired rubber bullets against the workers. This is the beginning of a revolutionary movement in the key country in Africa. We must keep an eye on developments in South Africa.

186.    India and Pakistan

187.    The collapse of Stalinism means that the leaders of the CPs have become even more rotten. In the past they looked to Moscow, now they look to the bourgeoisie. They have abandoned any pretence of standing for socialism. In India the CPI was always a tool of the Congress Party. This led to the split of the CPI (M). But now the CPI and the CPI (M) have the same reformist line. The outbreak of guerrilla war led by the Naxalites in several states of India is a desperate reaction against the class collaboration policies of the leaders of the Communist Parties.

188.    The Indian proletariat is a mighty force. In the last period there have been strikes and general strikes. Within the Communist Parties there is a ferment of discontent. The working class rank and file believes in socialism and communism and is unhappy with the policies of the leaders. A Marxist tendency would rapidly win support among the workers and youth of the Communist Parties. This is on the agenda in the near future.

189.    In Pakistan, the election of a PPP government under conditions of crisis represents a new stage. The position in the country is disastrous: price hikes, unemployment, poverty, electricity, water and gas shortages, redundancies, privatizations and other factors have created a situation for the working masses that is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.

190.    The PPP leaders, by basing themselves on bankrupt Pakistan capitalism, were compelled to start a series of attacks on the working class. To make matters worse, Zardari promised the Americans total submission that even Musharraf was incapable of providing. This regime has given all-out and blind support to the imperialist aggression that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

191.    The role of our comrades in Pakistan is of extraordinary importance. The Pakistan Marxists have succeeded in building a modest but important force under the most difficult conditions. It is an extraordinary achievement that in a poor, backward Islamic state, the forces of Marxism have made such striking gains. Our comrades are working in very hard and dangerous conditions. They face attacks from all sides and are swimming strongly against the tide. But the tide is beginning to turn.

192.    The workers and peasants of Pakistan turned massively to the PPP after the return of BB. They voted for the PPP in the hope of a change. But their hopes have been dashed. The workers and the rank and file of the PPP are also reacting against the right wing policies of Zardari and the PPP leadership policies. This situation entirely confirms our perspectives for the PPP. The workers had to pass through the school of Zardari in order to learn the real nature of the PPP leaders. And they are learning fast.

193.    Cracks are opening up inside the PPP that will widen with time and experience. We have no intention of abandoning the PPP, but it would be fatal for us to be seen as defending the anti working class policies of Zardari, which are alienating the masses and preparing the way for the return of reaction. Our position is that of Lenin: “patiently explain. This will attract an ever increasing number of people towards our revolutionary ideology.

194.    The Pakistan comrades have remained firm in the face of cruel pressures. This is proof that we have built a viable revolutionary force, capable of fighting and defeating opportunist and ultra left elements and conducting serious work among the masses. In the coming period they will have the possibility of becoming a decisive force, not only in Pakistan but in the whole Subcontinent. A revolution in Pakistan would immediately spread to India, overcoming the artificial frontiers that separate people who speak the same languages and have a common history and culture going back thousands of years.

195.    Iran

196.    In Iran, the entry of the masses onto the scene signifies that the revolution has begun. This fact is clear to millions of people who have come onto the streets to fight the hated Basij repeatedly over many months. Despite the terrible repression there were one million or maybe two million people on the streets of Tehran in the aftermath of the June elections. It was an astounding revolutionary movement. This is the final answer to all the cowards and sceptics, the cynics, the ex-Marxists, the ex-communists, and all the others who doubted the possibility of revolutionary movements in the present epoch.

197.    Lenin explained the four conditions for a revolution:
198.    The regime is split; there is a crisis in the regime.
199.    The middle class is wavering between the revolutionary forces and the ruling class.
200.    The working class is ready to fight and make the greatest sacrifices.
201.    The existence of a revolutionary party and leadership.

202.    The regime in Iran is split from top to bottom. As for the second point, the middle class was not wavering, but actually took the side of the revolution. There was some participation of the workers, like the Teheran bus drivers. There was even talk of a general strike, but this failed to materialize, precisely because of the absence of the last factor: a revolutionary party and leadership.

203.    There were two fatal weaknesses in this spontaneous movement. In the first place, it was precisely the weakness of spontaneity. There was no leadership, no plan, no strategy. It is impossible to keep masses of people on the streets without a clearly worked out plan.
204.    Above all, there was no concerted participation by the organized workers. That was the second and decisive weakness. This again shows the limitations of the workers’ leaders in Iran. There have been many strikes in Iran in the last period, but in the decisive moment, where was the leadership? Unfortunately, the so-called workers’ vanguard failed to support the movement and did not call on the workers to join it.

205.    In 1930, when there were big student demonstrations, Trotsky insisted that the Spanish workers and the Spanish Communists must support these demonstrations and put forth revolutionary democratic demands. Unfortunately, in Iran the workers’ leaders boycotted the election and boycotted this movement. An indefinite general strike would have finished this regime, especially if it was accompanied by the setting up of shoras (workers’ councils). But this demand was never concretised, and the opportunity was lost.

206.    On the surface it seemed that the regime had regained control after the June demonstrations, but that was not the case. Nothing has been solved and the splits in the regime deepened. The public criticisms of Rafsanjani were one instance; the splits among ayatollahs were another. The demonstrations continued with renewed force in September (Quds Day) and in November and December, when they culminated with the mass upheavals during Ashura.

207.    The masses showed great courage, clashing with the police, army and the hated Basij on the streets. They went onto the offensive, attacking the buildings of the Basij. There were cases when the soldiers disobeyed the orders of their officers to fire on the demonstrators.

208.    Of course, it would be a mistake to confuse the first month of pregnancy with the ninth, but it is an even bigger mistake to deny that the act of conception has taken place. Despite everything, some “Marxists” continue to deny that there is a revolution in Iran. Some, like James Petras, make the small mistake of confusing revolution with counterrevolution. With such people it is impossible to argue. Others are not so crude, but still deny that there is any revolution in Iran because the working class and the Marxists are not leading the movement. They quibble and split hairs about words and phrases in a doctrinaire fashion. But for the masses there is no doubt whatsoever that what is taking place in Iran is a revolution.

209.    In order to lead the masses, it is necessary to show that we understand the real nature of the movement, which in its early stages is bound to be heterogeneous, confused and politically naive. In Iran, the revolution is still in the early phase of democratic illusions. How could it be otherwise after three decades of the most monstrous dictatorship? Unless the Iranian Marxists are able to connect with the real movement, making skilful use of revolutionary democratic slogans, they will be condemned to the role an irrelevant sect that comments on the movement from the outside.

210.    When we say that the revolution has begun, that does not mean that the workers will take power next Monday at nine o’clock in the morning. On the contrary, because of the absence of the subjective factor, it can be protracted in time, with many ups and downs, advances and retreats. As in Spain in the 1930s, when the revolution lasted for almost seven years, periods of intense activity will be followed by periods of tiredness, disappointment, even reaction. But these periods will be only the prelude to new and ever more explosive movements of the masses.
211.    As Iran approached revolution in the late 1970s, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi vacillated between conciliation and brutal repression, but nothing could save his regime. Now Khamenei the Supreme Leader is in a similar position.
212.    Mir Hosein Mousavi constantly strives for a deal, but all his offers of conciliation go unheard. The Supreme Leader has let it be known that his critics’ only hope of leniency is to repent and throw themselves on his mercy. Some of them might be prepared to do this, but they feel the hot breath of the Revolution on their necks.
213.    More intelligent leaders are infuriated by the supreme leader’s inflexibility. They advocate concessions in the name of national unity. Several times since June, conservative politicians and clerics have proposed measures such as freeing political prisoners, setting up an impartial election commission and pressing the state broadcasting monopoly to reduce its bias in favour of the government. But it is all to no avail. Khamenei has dismissed them all.
214.    Now five prominent intellectual exiles (Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar, Ataollah Mohajerani, Akbar Ganji and Abdolali Bazargan) have issued a manifesto calling for the lifting of restrictions on political, academic and media activity; and the return to barracks of the Revolutionary Guard. It also proposes that the Supreme Leader should be elected for a fixed term and lose his ability to block parliamentary legislation through the Guardian Council, and to appoint the country’s chief justice. In short, they politely ask the devil to cut off his claws!
215.    This will have no effect on a regime that still has at its disposal a powerful apparatus of repression. The recent funeral of Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri showed that the revolutionary mass movement is still very much alive and not at all inclined to compromise. The slogans were more radical than before, denoting an increase in consciousness. The Economist (Jan 7th 2010) reported:
216.    “On December 21st, the day of the funeral, thousands of middle-class Tehranis converged on the holy city of Qom, a bastion of clerical conservatism. In the streets outside Qom’s great shrine they joined forces with thousands of traditional, provincial Iranians, devout followers of Montazeri’s teachings and rulings, and shouted abuse at some of the Islamic Republic’s leading figures. ‘It was a big day for the city,’ commented one eyewitness. ‘People couldn’t believe they were hearing such slogans being shouted – in Qom, of all places’.”
217.    The demonstrators suffered heavy losses – at least eight dead and many more injured and arrested – but all this repression has not broken the spirit of the masses. On the contrary, there were many reports of demonstrators responding violently to the assaults of the Basij, and shouting slogans against Khamenei. Gone is the talk of non-violence. The movement is becoming more and more radicalised. As the masses lose their fear, there are also signs of cracks in the state’s repressive apparatus. There have been reports of soldiers refusing the order to fire on the crowds.
218.    Mousavi is trying to reach a deal with the regime to halt the movement. He has gone back on his earlier insistence that Mr Ahmadinejad’s government was illegal, and by saying that “not all the opposition’s demands need to be met at once”. But that does not impress the Supreme Leader at all. On December 30th the government organised a counter-rally in central Tehran, in which the crowd demanded that Mr Mousavi and his supporters should be executed for “waging war on God”. Reactionary clerics and conservative newspaper demanded, that Mousavi and Karroubi be executed. The only reason Khamenei has not agreed to their arrest is his fear of turning them into martyrs and provoking new and more violent disturbances.
219.    In reality, the bourgeois leaders of the opposition are the regime’s best hope of survival. In the first week of January Ezzatollah Sahabi, a critic of the regime, issued an open letter in which he warned the movement not to slide towards “radicalism and violence”. “A revolution in today’s Iran”, he wrote, “is neither possible nor desirable.” If moderate and conservatives clerics were forced to choose between a revolution and the status quo, he predicted, they would choose stability. There is no doubt that he was telling the truth. But the fact that “moderates” and “conservatives” all fear the revolutionary movement like the plague is not new and it will not halt the movement.
220.    On February 11th, the official celebrations of the anniversary of the 1979 revolution will see a new outbreak of the movement, when hundreds of thousands will take to the streets yet again. Khamenei will not budge. As The Economist correctly says:
221.    “To make concessions under pressure, the ayatollah apparently believes, is a sign less of wisdom than of weakness. So he has contented himself with vague calls for national unity, even as the Basij bash opposition heads and the nation’s prison officers gain notoriety as rapists and torturers.” But the same article adds:
222.    “Having survived more than two decades at the top of Iran’s power structure, Mr Khamenei is now looking acutely uncomfortable. By refusing to countenance a fresh election in the aftermath of the June poll, he turned much of the ire that was being directed against his president against himself. As recently as a few months ago, few Tehranis would have dared whisper “Death to Khamenei”. Now that slogan has become a commonplace.” (The Economist Jan 7th 2010)
223.    The overthrow of the regime may be postponed for six months, twelve months or even a longer period. But it is inevitable. And it will open up a very stormy period in Iran. The overthrow of the regime of the mullahs would have a profound effect on all the countries in the region and beyond. Under these circumstances it is necessary to fight for the most advanced democratic demands. But they must be summed up in the slogan of a nationwide general strike and soviets (shoras). On this basis this regime would be finished, and the ground would be prepared for the transfer of power to the working class.

224.    We cannot be precise about the nature of the regime that will have. It is probable that in the first stages it will be of a bourgeois-democratic type – as in Russia after the February Revolution in 1917 or in Spain after the fall of the Monarchy in 1931. But we can be sure what it will not be: there will not be another fundamentalist Islamic regime in Iran. The Iranian revolution will cut across all the madness of fundamentalism that exists in the Middle East. It will transform the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan and have a major impact in India, Pakistan and throughout Asia. Regimes like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia would fall, one after the other.

225.    The ideas of the IMT have already had an echo inside Iran. Our articles were immediately translated into Farsi, were rapidly distributed in Iran, and, according to our reports, they had an excellent response. We must discuss the problems and perspectives of the Iranian revolution as a matter of urgency in order to work out the correct slogans, programme and tactics, in order to prepare for a decisive intervention in the stormy events that impend.

226.    The Latin American revolution

227.    We have discussed Latin America extensively in previous documents. It remains an absolutely key sector of the world revolution. Despite what bourgeois and reformist politicians said, far from being immune to the world recession, Latin America has been hit by it in a particularly severe way. On the one hand, the collapse of the prices of raw materials and oil has affected the countries of the region, many of which depend heavily on those. Mining and oil exports in the entire region fell by 50.7% in the first semester of 2009.

228.    The recession in the US and Europe also affected remittances by migrant Latin American workers which in some countries (Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, etc), make up a significant part of their GDP. In the first ten months of 2009, the value of remittances to Mexico fell by 16.5% and in the case of Colombia by 17.5%, with El Salvador and Guatemala registering a 10% fall. Finally, the credit crunch world wide, has led to a collapse in Foreign Direct Investment into the region, which regional economic body CEPAL calculates could be as high as 45% in relation to 2008.

229.    Mexico and Central America have also paid a heavy price for the integration of their economies into the US economy, suffering more than other countries which have more trade links with the EU and China. The economy of the continent as a whole fell by 2.1% in 2009, with countries like Mexico (-7%), Venezuela (-2.9%) amongst the worst affected. But even after these countries recover from the recession in 2010, the number of poor will continue to grow by a total of 39 million. This is the explosive background to the developing revolution in Latin America.

230.    Venezuela

231.    Over the past decade on more than one occasion the workers could have taken power in Venezuela. The problem is a problem of leadership. Chavez is a very courageous and honest man, but he is proceeding empirically, improvising, making up a programme as he goes along. He is trying to balance between the working class and the bourgeoisie. And that cannot be maintained.

232.    Lenin explained that politics is concentrated economics. Chavez was able to make concessions, reforms, the social missions, etc., for quite along time because of the economic situation. The high price of oil allowed him to do this. But that is finished. The price of oil has fallen dramatically, although it has now recovered a little. Inflation is at about 30%. Therefore there has been a fall in real wages. Many of the welfare schemes are being scaled back and unemployment is increasing.

233.    There is no doubt that the Venezuelan workers still remain loyal to Chavez, but there is also no doubt whatsoever that many workers, even dedicated Chavistas, are getting impatient. They are asking: what sort of a Revolution is this? What sort of Socialism is this? Are we going to solve these problems or not? The threat of counterrevolution has not disappeared. The counterrevolutionary opposition is preparing a new offensive to win a majority in the National Assembly in 2010. If they succeed, or if they win a sufficiently large number of seats, the way will be open for a new counterrevolutionary offensive.

234.    The most striking fact about the Venezuelan revolution is the inability of the imperialists to intervene directly. In the past, they would have sent in the Marines to overthrow Chavez. But they have been unable to intervene directly, although they have waged a constant campaign to undermine, isolate and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution. The defeat of the coup in 2002 was brought about by the intervention of the masses.

235.    Washington is manoeuvring with Uribe to threaten Venezuela. The agreement under which Colombia granted the United States access to up to seven military bases was an act of aggression directed against the Venezuelan Revolution. The external threat from Colombia is very real. But far more serious is the threat from within. The bourgeoisie still holds in its hands key points in the economy. Ten banks still control 70% of the country’s financial activity. Most of the land remains in the hands of the big landowners, while 70% of the food is imported (along with inflation). Above all, the state remains in the hands of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy. After more than a decade, there are signs of tiredness and disappointment in the masses. This is the most dangerous element in the equation.

236.    At the First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV Chavez admitted these things and stated that “socialism had not yet been achieved.” He called for the total elimination of capitalism, for the arming of the people and a workers’ militia. All this is necessary, but if this remains on the level of speeches, it will lead nowhere. The fact is that the bureaucracy is systematically undermining the Revolution from within. The movement towards workers’ control is being systematically sabotaged, and workers who attempt to fight the bureaucracy are coming under attack, as we saw in the case of Mitsubishi. This situation is producing a ferment of discontent and disillusionment that is the biggest danger of all. If this mood is expressed in apathy and abstention in the legislative elections, the scene will be set for a counteroffensive of the right.

237.    There is a sharp polarization between the left and the right within Venezuela and this polarization is reflected within the Bolivarian movement itself, above all in the PSUV. The mood of discontent will find its reflection within the Socialist Party, the PSUV. The penetration of the Party by alien elements: careerists, bureaucrats and counterrevolutionaries has alienated many workers. The Party has been heavily bureaucratized and the leadership is dominated by reformists, but the pressure from below will be there. And that should be a very favourable condition for the Marxist tendency.

238.    We must pay much more attention to our work in this Party, which is at the centre of the problem of the Revolution. We must admit frankly that the leadership of the Venezuelan section has not paid sufficient attention to this work, and as a result we have missed many opportunities. This is a very serious error, which must be rectified immediately. Trade union work is very important, but it must be given a political expression. Our work with the occupied factories remains a key question, but it will be completely sterile if it is not linked to the fight to transform the PSUV.

239.    The Venezuela Marxists must combine theoretical firmness with the necessary tactical flexibility, always stressing the role of the Bolivarian movement and the PSUV. If we work correctly in the next couple of years, the foundation will be laid for a mass left wing opposition within the PSUV, in which we will participate, fertilizing it with the ideas of Marxism. This is the only way in which we can build a mass Marxist current in Venezuela, as the first step towards a future mass revolutionary Marxist Party.

240.    Mexico, Cuba and Central America

241.    There is a very serious economic crisis in Mexico. Whole areas of Mexico depend on the immigrants working in the United States, whose remittances have collapsed due to the crisis. The bourgeoisie cannot tolerate the continued existence of the reforms and concessions it made in the past. But there is no alternative for the masses except to take the road of struggle.

242.    The attack on the electricians’ union is an indication of how the Mexican ruling class is thinking. They are compelled to attack living standards, and in order to accomplish this aim, they have to smash the powerful Mexican trade unions. This was shown by the closure of Luz y Fuerza and the attempt to crush the powerful Mexican Electricians Union, which led to a mass movement and the National Stoppage (Paro Nacional) in October 2009.

243.    The attacks of the PAN government will provoke a reaction that can lead to a social explosion on the lines of 2006, or on an even higher level. We must be prepared! The PRD will recover on the basis of the unpopularity of the Calderon government. The Party is in the hands of the right wing, and will be shaken by internal crises and splits. It is possible that Lopez Obrador may decide to spit away and join forces with the PT (Workers’ Party). We must be flexible in our tactics and follow events closely in order to reach the most advanced workers with our ideas.

244.    The fate of the Cuban Revolution is directly linked to the perspectives for socialist revolution in Latin America. After the fall of the USSR, Cuba was isolated and under pressure, which has now been intensified. As long as Castro was in charge, they could keep the pro-capitalist elements under control and maintain the situation. But now Cuba is also in serious difficulties. The global crisis of capitalism has hit the Cuban economy, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union is heavily dependant on the world market.

245.    There is a clear danger of taking economic measures which, in the name of "efficiency" would open the road to capitalist restoration. At this juncture, the revolution must be strengthened by unleashing the creative power of the Cuban working people through their full involvement in the running of society and the economy. Instead, the long awaited Congress of the Communist Party has been postponed sine die.

246.    This shows the limitations of “socialism in one country” The isolation of the revolution is the source of bureaucratism as well as the pro-capitalist tendencies. The Revolution is faced with a stark choice: either capitalism is overthrown in Latin America, or the tendency towards capitalist restoration in Cuba will acquire an irresistible character.

247.    If the Venezuelan Revolution were to be successfully completed, the situation would be transformed. The objective conditions for revolution are rapidly maturing everywhere in Latin America. What is true of Mexico is even truer of Central America, as we have seen in Honduras. What is required is a revolutionary leadership that knows what it wants and how to achieve it.

248.    The Stalinist two-stage theory has failed everywhere. In order to succeed, the revolution cannot halt at the limits of private property. Beginning with the national-democratic tasks (the struggle against imperialism and the oligarchy, the agrarian revolution), the revolution must carry out the expropriation of the banks and bog industries, which are only the local agencies of imperialism and the centre of the counter-revolution. Last but not least, the revolution cannot halt at the frontiers, which are in any case of a completely artificial character, above all in Central America.

249.    In El Salvador, where the socialist revolution could have been carried out on healthy lines in the past, but was derailed by the false policies of the leadership, the revolutionary movement is entering a new stage. The vote for the FLMN was an expression of this discontent. The election of the first FMLN government in the history of El Salvador showed a deep desire on the part of the masses for a radical change. But the reformist leaders have no solution for the crisis, which can only be solved by revolutionary means, through the expropriation of the land, the banks and the key points of the economy.

250.    In Nicaragua, Guatemala or El Salvador, the crisis of capitalism is a catastrophe. When the immigrant workers in the USA are laid off, they cannot send money back to their families. This is a social catastrophe for the whole region. That explains the convulsions in Honduras where the question of power is posed. There will be similar convulsions in all the countries of Central America. These countries are too small and weak to compete with the more powerful capitalist economies, particularly the North American giant that holds them in a suffocating embrace.

251.    The crisis in the USA has led to a collapse of demand for the products of these countries, and the migrant workers from Central America who provided a reserve of cheap labour for the US economy during the boom are the first to be sacked in the recession. The collapse of the remittances of these migrant workers spells disaster for Central America.

252.    The marvellous movement of the masses in Honduras, which lasted for nearly five months, could not be stopped by repression, curfews, selective assassinations. It shows the enormous revolutionary potential which exists in all countries in Latin America. In the days that preceded and followed Zelaya's secret arrival back into the country in September, the masses could have taken power and overthrown the dictatorship by revolutionary means. However, the vacillations of the leadership of the Resistance Front and of Zelaya himself at the crucial moment, meant that the opportunity was lost. Once again, the question of leadership was the key.

253.    All sections of the ruling class – including Obama – were united in their fear of a revolutionary overthrow of the coup. In the end, through trickery, diplomacy and deceit, they all got what they wanted: the oligarchy and their friends in Washington managed to establish “legitimacy” for the coup through fraudulent elections. Typically, Obama retreated under pressure from the right wing, dropping his objections to the coup and arguing that the election represented the “restoration of democracy”. This little detail clearly reveals the real character of Obama and his “progressive” policies, both at home and abroad.

254.    What happened in Honduras can happen in any other country in Central America. The events in Honduras show that the Central American Revolution is a single, inseparable process. Even on a healthy basis, however, the countries of Central America could not solve their problems in isolation. If it is to succeed, the Central American Revolution must be linked at the very least to the perspective of the Latin American Revolution. A successful socialist revolution in any of these countries would give a powerful stimulus to the socialist revolution, not only in Central and South America and the Caribbean, but in the USA and the other advanced capitalist countries. In the final analysis, this is the only guarantee of its success.

255.    Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia

256.    The re-election of Evo Morales with an increased vote shows the enormous reservoir of support for the revolutionary movement amongst the masses. The new government will be put under enormous pressure to deliver on all the crucial issues: jobs, land, health care, and education, none of which can be seriously be solved within the limits of capitalism.

257.    This has opened up a period of sharp class struggle in Bolivia, which is not yet resolved. The final outcome partly depends on the speed with which the advanced workers draw the necessary conclusions, which in turn is related to the capacity of the Bolivian Marxists to build strong links with the vanguard and convince them of the need for a revolutionary alternative.

258.    Above all, it depends on the future of the Venezuelan Revolution. If the Venezuelan workers take power, it would mean the overthrow of capitalism in Bolivia and Ecuador in a matter of days. Faced with a revolutionary movement of the masses in several countries, the imperialists would not be able to intervene. On the contrary, they would be faced with mass opposition movements at home, which would make the protests over the Vietnam War seem tame by comparison. However, if the decisive step is not taken, and the masses begin to tire of years of struggle with no clear outcome, the balance of forces can change.

259.    The Venezuelan Revolution has had a powerful impact on neighbouring countries like Bolivia and Ecuador. Ecuador has closed the US imperialists’ base and now the imperialists are building up their forces in Colombia, which has put seven bases at their disposal. This represents a mortal threat to the Venezuelan Revolution. At some point in the future, Washington may try to engineer a war between Colombia and Venezuela. However, that would be a risky strategy.

260.    The Venezuelans would fight like tigers to defend the Revolution, and the Colombian regime would find itself fighting on two fronts with a renewal of hostilities on the part of the guerrillas, not to mention the opposition of the Colombian workers. It is not at all clear that the agents of imperialism could win such a war, and a military defeat could signify the end of capitalism, not only in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, but in Colombia also.

261.    Brazil

262.    Brazil is the largest country in South America, with a population of around 190 million. It has undergone significant economic growth since the Second World War, and especially in the past 30 years. With this has come also a huge growth in the Brazilian proletariat, which led to the creation of powerful labour movement organisations; in particular the 7 million strong CUT trade union confederation and the PT, the Workers' Party with its one million plus members.

263.    Brazil's $1.3 trillion economy is bigger than those of India and Russia, and its per-capita income is nearly twice that of China. New discoveries of oil reserves are also expected to make the country one of the world's biggest crude producers. Foreign investment ($45 billion in 2008) is three times what it was a decade ago. 

264.    Last year Brazil was affected by the worldwide recession suffering a brief downturn in the second quarter, but is now expected to grow by more than 5 percent this year, according to a survey of leading financial institutions published in February.

265.    Lula achieved a massive victory in the 2002 presidential elections , and was re-elected again in 2006 extending his term as President until 1 January 2011. At the end of this year the country returns to the polls. Lula has been the most popular president in Brazil's recent history, but cannot stand again as Brazilian law bars him from running for a third consecutive term.

266.    Lula has governed during a long period of economic upswing (the greatest burst of economic growth in Brazil in three decades). Since 2003 8.5 million jobs have been created and programmes such as food assistance for poor families (the Bolsa Familia) have been implemented. This has benefited a large number of families and also explains why his approval rating has reached an amazing 82 percent.

267.    At the same time as these and other reforms have been instituted Lula has not cancelled the previous governments' privatisations and other attacks on previous reforms. There is still a wide gap between rich and poor. In fact Brazil is a country of huge contradictions. It has large modern cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which are comparable to cities in the more advanced capitalist countries, but where a third of the population lives in favelas, or slums. This contradiction is even bigger when we look at disparities between the different regions, the North-East being more akin to “third world” poverty conditions. Much of the land is controlled by a handful of wealthy families. This has led to the emergence of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) which organises five million landless peasants seeking land redistribution.

268.    As could be expected, the election of Lula in 2002, and the subsequent economic upswing and reforms, have had the temporary effect of achieving an unstable equilibrium, a kind of “social peace”. Although there have been important strikes, the general level of conflict has been reduced. The workers see the present government as their government. This is something the sectarians do not understand. It is true that the active membership of the PT has gone down in this period, but the PT has enormous reserves of social support. The PT was created by the Brazilian working class in the struggles of the metalworkers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has deep roots within the Brazilian working class.

269.    The Brazilian Marxists base themselves on this fundamental fact. The mass of workers still see the PT as their party. The huge popularity ratings of Lula confirm this. The fact that the Brazilian Marxists won more than 3500 votes in the recent internal elections and won a position on the national council of the PT confirms the fact that within the party there is an advanced layer seeking a revolutionary alternative. On the basis of events, of the experience of the PT government and a movement of the working class, at some stage the left within the party will be strengthened and the Marxists are positioned to make big gains from this process. Already they have important positions in the railway unions, the chemical and glass workers amongst others. They also have PT councillors in Sao Paulo and Santa Caterina which give them a wider echo within the labour movement. They are also recognised widely within the Brazilian labour movement as the leaders of the Occupied Factories Movement, which gives them authority within a wide layer of the working class. All this positions them well as a respected tendency by many workers and opens up big possibilities for them in the future.

270.    Argentina

271.    Despite significant economic growth of 2003-2008, with annual rates of 8%, the living conditions of the masses did not substantially improve, and although the working class instinctively rejects the right wing politicians, the government of Cristina Fernández arouses no enthusiasm.

272.    The most significant aspect of the situation is the frontal clash between the government of Cristina Kirchner and the bourgeoisie. “Kirchnerism” is a political variant of Peronism (bourgeois populism) comparable to the European Social Democracy, but lacking a mass movement – a fact that differentiates it from apparently similar governments and political movements in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. However, the bourgeoisie cannot tolerate the government's attempt to maintain a certain degree of independence. “Kirchnerism” attempts to limit the more predatory tendencies of big national and imperialist capital, and grant some concessions to the working masses, in order to uphold the overall interests of Argentine capitalism. In the end, it satisfies neither one side nor the other.

273.    The only alternative is to form a Workers Party, to carry the political struggle to the broader layers of the working class, within which a Marxist tendency can group together the most conscious and advanced sectors. Proyecto Sur, which began as a movement of left Peronists, trade unionists and left activists does not yet represent this alternative because it lacks a consistent class programme and a mass base. However, it got nearly 25% in the local elections in the capital, Buenos Aires, and it appears as an alternative to the left of Kirchnerism.

274.    Meanwhile, it is the duty of Marxists to participate in any mass front which tries to channel the political activities of the working masses, and there to explain patiently the socialist programme, to provide a class perspective, whatever the vacillations, inconsistencies, and confusion of the accidental leaderships of these movements.

275.    Crisis and class struggle in Europe
276.    It is an elementary proposition that the advent of mass unemployment is not conducive to strike activity. The financial crisis did not immediately impact on workers in the workplaces, but as months went by unemployment started to increase dramatically. In the autumn of 2008 there were significant student mobilizations in Italy, Greece and other countries, where there were also general strikes. However at the beginning of 2009 the situation started to change with the steep rise in unemployment.
277.    In most European countries a steep fall in level of strikes. This we have seen in a very marked way in Italy, but a similar trend can be observed in countries like Denmark, Britain, etc. According to the BBC News the level of strikes in Britain was one third what it was in the 1991-92 recession. The depth of the present crisis is one of the factors in this situation. However, the situation is contradictory, with outbreaks of very bitter and militant struggles of some sections, including factory occupations in Britain, Italy and even the United States.
278.    In Italy in the very recent period, there have been a number of disputes, all involving larger factories where big numbers of workers are losing their jobs. This is provoking a reaction, with strikes, pickets and partial occupations. But in general the overall picture is still one of low level of strikes.

279.    In the previous period Spain enjoyed rapid growth. Now it has experienced a spectacular fall. Spain is one of the few European countries to continue in recession as of January 2010, after a fall in GDP of 3.7% in 2009 (and a collapse of industrial production by 15.8%), and is forecast to continue in recession throughout 2010 with a fall of 0.5% of GDP. Unemployment has increased sharply, reaching an all time high of 4.3 million unemployed (18.8% which is double the EU average), having increased by 1.1 million in 2009, and another 1.2 million in 2008.

280.    Official unemployment figures are expected to reach 20% in 2010, another year where there will be net destruction of jobs. Youth unemployment has now reached 39% according to the official statistics. Together with a rapid growth of unemployment, the general trend has been a falling off of strike activity. However, there have been some important struggles, such as the dispute of the Vigo metalworkers in Galicia and the strike in the Basque Country, which was a partial success (although it was only general in Guipuzcoa). There is the beginning of ferment in the unions (CCOO) and the United Left, where Cayo Lara is calling for a general strike. We must pay careful attention to this and intensify our work in the mass organizations of the working class.

281.    The inevitability of sharp and sudden changes in the situation is shown by events in Iceland, a country that had enjoyed high living standards and political stability. In January 2009 protests in the capital Reykjavik brought thousands of people on to the streets in the biggest demonstrations the country has ever seen. As a result, the coalition government between the Samfylkingin (Social Democrats) and the Conservative Independence Party broke up. In what was formerly one of the most stable and prosperous country in Europe we see the beginnings of social ferment and political radicalization.

282.    The class struggle is growing in Ireland, where, as in Iceland, a period of rapid economic growth and feverish speculation has ended in complete collapse. Between 2002 and 2007 Irish GDP grew at an average of 5.6 percent. In 2008 the economy contracted by over 2%. In February 2009 some 200,000 workers and their families took to the streets in Dublin, to demonstrate their opposition to the government's decision to impose a pension levy on 300,000 public sector workers.

283.    There was a factory occupation of workers by Waterford Crystal. Tens of thousands of people: public sector and private sector workers and their families, unemployed workers, pensioners and students thronged the streets of eight cities in the south; while a further ten demonstrations took place in the north also. 70,000 marched into Merrion Square in Dublin, 20,000 in Cork, 10,000 in Waterford, 6,000 in Galway, 5,000 in Sligo, 5,000 in Limerick, 4,000 in Tullamore and 1,500 in Dundalk. (6 November, 2009). Over 250,000 Irish workers in the public sector were on strike on the 24th November 2009.

284.    Greece

285.    The achievement of monetary unity has only exacerbated the problems of European capitalists. We pointed out at the time that it is impossible to unify economies that are pulling in different direction. We also explained that these contradictions would come to the surface during a recession, which is exactly what has happened.

286.    Greece is one of the weak links of European capitalism. The world crisis is bringing enormous pressure to bear on Greek society. Here we see the outlines of what will happen at some stage in all European countries. The public debt has reached such proportions – a result of past policies and the recent urgent need to back up the banking system – that now the Greek workers are being asked to pay.

287.    In the past, countries like Italy were able to avoid a crisis by devaluing the currency and increasing the state deficit. Now this door is closed. They cannot devalue because they have the euro instead of the lira. The case of Greece is even more serious. Greek capitalism is, along with Italy, Portugal and Ireland, the weakest link in the chain of the European Union. Its economy is in a deep crisis, with the collapse of shipping (due to worldwide overproduction) and tourism. Some economists are predicting that Greece will have to default on its foreign debts.

288.    The Greek bourgeoisie will be obliged to inflict savage cuts on the living standards of the workers and the middle class. But the right wing government of New Democracy was not strong enough to implement such cuts. Therefore the bourgeoisie has handed the poisoned chalice to PASOK. This new correlation of forces favours the working class, giving workers and youth power and confidence. It is the first huge victory after years of ND government and of course after years of defeats.

289.    However, the leadership of PASOK has proven that it does not want to come into conflict with the ruling class. On the contrary, it has already given its promise to the ruling class on major issues, such as the privatization of social security. The ruling class and the EU are exerting heavy pressure on the leadership of the PASOK, which, using the excuse of the huge public deficit, is attempting to impose a harsh programme of cuts.

290.    The Greek workers did not vote PASOK in order to have severe austerity measures imposed on them. Now we see their reaction. There have already been strikes by some sections of the working class and the union leaders have been compelled to call a general strike for February 24. The working class is being forced to enter into struggle to defend their living conditions. This will also have an impact on the political situation. As the PASOK is in government it will take all the blame for the present policies. This explains why to its left the Communist Party (KKE) is able to attract a significant layer of youth. The youth of the KKE, the KNE is in fact the largest left youth organisation in Greece.

291.    The Party leadership has managed to maintain the tight Stalinist apparatus of the past. In its recent congress the party actually reaffirmed its adherence to Stalin’s policies. This is combined with a kind of “third period” ultra-leftism, whereby the party promotes strikes and rallies separate from the bulk of the workers in the trade unions who still support the PASOK. This in fact is an attempt by the KKE leadership to build a wall around its rank and file in an attempt to isolate them from the pressures of the general situation.

292.    However, even in this apparently monolithic party cracks are appearing. At this stage this is reflected in expulsions of anyone who dares oppose the leadership, but opposition points of view have been aired in the KKE publications, something that would have been impossible in the past.

293.    The objective situation is also having an impact on the Synaspismos, a party that has its roots in a split from the KKE in the past. This has significant support among the youth and is going through a left-right conflict inside the party. The fact that the leader of this party has openly invited left groups to join its ranks with the right to form tendencies is indicative of the process taking place within this party. In the next period the impact of the crisis will have an important effect inside both the KKE and the Synaspismos, which at present stand to the left of the PASOK and therefore stand to gain from the present situation.

294.    However, the PASOK remains the main party of the Greek working class and at some stage the pressures the capitalists on the one hand and the pressures of the working class on the other will be reflected in an increasing differentiation in the party, with an openly right-wing, pro-bourgeois section pushing for full compliance with the demands of the bourgeois and another section coming under pressure from the workers. This will prepare the ground for the development of a mass left wing at a later stage.

295.    What has held back this process so far has been the upturn in the economy and the apparent feeling of well-being that this created among a significant layer of the working class. That has now gone but Greece also was affected by the effect of the deep recession that emerged on a world level, with many jobs being destroyed. This has a temporary paralysing effect on the workers, who first turned to the PASOK on the electoral front, hoping that “their” party in government would save them from the worst effects of the crisis. They are now about to go through the bitter school of Papandreu’s programme of deep cuts and counter-reforms.

296.    Political radicalization

297.    Radicalization is not only expressed in strike statistics. It can be expressed in political terms. This is seen in electoral shifts in some countries, in particular the vote for Die Linke in Germany and the two left blocs in Portugal. The violent swings of public opinion were demonstrated in the September 2009 general election in Germany, when the SPD lost 11.2 per cent and was thrown back to the level it had in 1893.

298.    German capitalism has been especially hard hit by the economic crisis. Its heavy dependence on exports makes the German economy vulnerable to a fall in demand. The elections of September 2009 reveal an enormous shift in the political life of Germany. On the one hand, we saw the massive decline of the SPD vote and the victory of the right-wing parties.

299.    This means the German capitalists are preparing for an offensive against the biggest and most powerful working class in Europe. In the past the Conservatives would be in government during a boom, and they would hand power to the Social Democrats in a slump to do all the dirty work. Now the process is reversed. The bourgeois parties have come to power in the most serious slump since the War. They will have to cut social spending and take on the unions. This is a recipe for class war in Germany.

300.    The most striking feature was the fact that the Left Party won 5,153,884 votes (11.9%) an increase of 3.2 percent. In the East, the former DDR [German Democratic Republic], the Left Party has decisively eclipsed the SPD which was down from 30.4% to 17.9% of the votes cast. In the East there is in fact no majority for the bourgeois parties. In the West, Die Linke has increased its share from 4.9% to 8.3%.

301.    This result is of historical significance for Germany, as there has not been any serious workers´ party to the left of the SPD since the 1930s. This is an anticipation of processes that will take place in one country after another in the next period. We should remember that the Left Party was formed out of the split of Oskar Lefontaine and the Left Reformists from the SPD. Lefontaine joined with the former Stalinists to form die Linke. In the next period we will see all kinds of similar developments, with crises and splits in the mass reformist organizations and the creation of big left reformist and centrist currents. We must be prepared for this and adopt flexible tactics so as not to be taken by surprise by events.

302.    In Austria too, the situation is changing. The economy is vulnerable to external factors, especially the crisis in Eastern Europe. About 270,000 people, or around 7.5 %, were unemployed in March 2009. In a year-on-year comparison, that is an increase of 28.8%. Among the youth (15-24 year-olds) the figure rose by 39.3% to 44.085. About 40,000 workers are on short time work. Industrial output has fallen by 10%. The car sector has been massively affected due to the international crisis of overproduction in this industry.

303.    The early sign of radicalization is the movement of the youth. In April 2009, there was the biggest school student movement in the history of Austria. All over Austria more than 60,000 school students protested against the cancelling of five holidays and demanded an increase in spending on the public education system. There have also been protests and occupations in the universities. In October 2009, there was a student demonstration of tens of thousands in Vienna, when the students were joined by many workers and trade unionists.

304.    Portugal is one of the sickest of the sick men of Europe. It was in economic crisis even before the outbreak of the latest global economic downturn that has further aggravated the already precarious conditions of the Portuguese economy. Unemployment is at the highest rate in Europe. The Socialist Party, like all the socialist parties in Europe who have been in government in recent years, pursued a policy of counter reforms, with attacks on the welfare state and workers' rights.

305.    In the legislative elections of 27 September 2009, the Socialist Party lost the absolute majority which it had over the past four years. In an election marked by a significant increase of abstentions – which rose from 35% to 40% – the Socialist Party lost half a million votes and 24 deputies, falling from 2,588,312 votes and 121 deputies in 2005 to 2,077,695 votes and 97 Members of 2009.

306.    The right wing Social Democratic Party and the Popular Party, a classic conservative, liberal and right wing party, both increased their votes. But the left parties also grew: the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). The Bloco de Esquerda went from 364,971 votes and 8 members in 2005 to 558,062 votes and 16 deputies in 2009. The growth of the Left parties reflects clearly the fact that the BE and PCP occupy room to the left of the Socialist Party.

307.    In France there have been big movements of the working class and violent swings of the pendulum to the left and right on the electoral plane. The election of the Sarkozy government, followed by the deepest crisis since the War prepares the way for a further intensification of the class struggle.

308.    On January 29 and again on March 19, 2009 more than 2.5 million people took to the streets in mass demonstrations against the constant attacks of the Sarkozy government. The trade union leaders have attempted to hold the movement back, preferring a series of government “consultations”, but the pressure from below is becoming unstoppable.. Against a background of economic recession and sharply rising unemployment, the organizations of the working class are once again on the move on a massive scale.

309.    Italy has seen a whole series of strikes, general strikes and mass demonstrations in the last period. The movement of workers and students in Autumn 2008 culminated in the December 12, 2008, general strike. Up to 200,000 people marched in Bologna and other large demonstrations with tens of thousands of workers and students took place in Milan, Turin, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples Cagliari and another 100 cities. Metalworkers went on strike with participation rates over 50% in all important workplaces, and over 90% in most key factories. 45% of school workers also came out on strike.

310.    However, this was cut across by the economic crisis, which has had severe effects in Italy. According to a CGIL survey, at least 10,000 Italian companies entered into crisis as a consequence of the world recession. FIAT closed all its plants for one month, leaving its workforce on lay-off pay. (December 2008) Between December 12 and January 12 industrial production came to a virtual standstill. This was an unprecedented situation in recent times, with 900,000 jobs being lost (especially among casual labour) and millions of workers laid off for ten to fifteen weeks on wages of less than 600-700 euros per month.

311.    A whole period of austerity

312.    The post-War upswing lasted for about thirty years (until 1974). But such a perspective is no longer on the agenda. It was the product of a special concatenation of circumstances which in all probability will never be repeated. And because they cannot go to war, all of the contradictions must eventually be reflected internally in a ferocious class struggle. That is the real perspective for the next period. Over a period of fifty years, thanks to the economic upswing, in the advanced capitalist countries (Europe, the United States, Japan, Australia, etc.), the working class and its organizations were able to conquer at least semi-civilized conditions of existence. They considered these conditions to be normal because they have never known anything else. But the last fifty years were not normal at all. This was an historical exception, not the normal state of affairs under capitalism.

313.    According to the IMF, in 2010, the gross public debt of the ten richest nations will be 106% of the gross domestic product. In 2007 it was 78%. That means an increase of extra debt, in three years, of more than nine trillion dollars. This is an incredible state of affairs. By pumping such vast sums of money into the economy, the bourgeois are creating levels of indebtedness without precedent in the whole of history. And it cannot be sustained. As everyone knows, sooner or later debts must be repaid – with interest. That in itself is a recipe for another gigantic crisis in the next period.

314.    In the past the US was the world's largest creditor. Now it has been transformed into the world's largest debtor. The hallmarks of the age have been debt-fuelled consumption and an increasingly bloated financial sector. Today, this model stands discredited. The US has been able to run huge deficits largely because of the privilege accorded by the reserve role of the dollar, meaning it can pay foreign countries with its own currency. But the patience of its creditors, most notably China, is starting to wear thin.

315.    These debt figures are unprecedented in peace time. War is a different matter. After the Second World War, the public debt of Britain was 250% of gross domestic product. And America had a debt of over 100% of GDP. That was a result of war spending. But they managed to pay off these debts due to the enormous economic upswing after 1945, the reasons for which have been explained in previous documents (See Ted Grant: Will there be a Slump?).

316.    The collapse of Dubai World in November 2009 exposed the extremely fragile state of the world financial system. It immediately caused fears of a renewed bout of financial turbulence. It has raised the spectre of defaults of governments that have emerged from the crisis burdened by debt. Both Greece and Ireland are carrying heavy public liabilities denominated in a currency (the Euro) that they cannot print. It is very likely that the world financial system will be hit by further panics, which can prepare the way for an even steeper economic collapse, which no amount of state subsidies can prevent.
317.    The bourgeois economists are all agreed that it will be a long and painful process to struggle out of the mess which they are in. The enormous accumulation of debt means years and decades of deep cuts and a regime of permanent austerity. We can express this as a kind of equation: the ruling class of all countries cannot afford to maintain the concessions that have been given for the last fifty years but the working class cannot afford any further cuts in their living standards. That is a recipe for class conflict everywhere. In the advanced Capitalist countries (including “nice”, civilized countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland and Austria) ferocious class struggles are on the agenda. This perspective is the best perspective from our point of view, opening up big opportunities to connect our ideas, program and methods with the masses.

318.    The smiling, reasonable mask of capitalism, represented by President Obama is going to come off very quickly, and behind the smiling mask the people will see the real, brutal, savage, ugly face. From a capitalist standpoint, they have no choice except to do attack living standards. Pensions will be under attack, beginning in the United States. Already the bourgeois are saying this publicly that they cannot afford to maintain so many old and unproductive people. In an editorial of the 27/6/2009, The Economist writes: “Whether we like it or not, we are going back to the pre-Bismarckian world where work had no formal stopping point.” In other words, you work until you drop dead.

319.    The bourgeois and its strategists are gripped by a mood of despair. The Financial Times has run a series of articles about the future of capitalism. Martin Wolf writes: “The legacy of the crisis will also limit fiscal largesse. The effort to consolidate public finances will dominate politics for years, perhaps decades.” In other words, the capitalists must cut, and cut, and cut again, even when there is a boom. British Airways recently demanded that workers work for nothing, “we can’t afford to pay your wages,” they say. Thousands of state and city workers across the USA are being made to work a certain number of days for free (“unpaid furloughs”) or face layoffs. With no fighting alternative presented by the labour leadership, workers are being forced to bite this bitter bullet. But this will not last forever.

320.    What conclusions do we draw from this? Do we say that there is a low level of consciousness, that the workers are not revolutionary? No! We do not draw such a conclusion! Situations such as these are an inevitable consequence of the present phase through which we are passing – the transition from one period to another.

321.    The lag in consciousness

322.    Trotsky explained many times that the relationship between the economic cycle and consciousness is not an automatic relationship. It is conditioned by many factors, which must be analyzed concretely. He also pointed out that one of the most difficult and complicated tasks that faces Marxist analysis is to answer the question: through what phase are we passing?

323.    At present consciousness is lagging far behind the objective situation in the advanced capitalist countries. The mass organizations of the working class are lagging far behind the real situation. Above all, the leadership of the proletariat is lagging far behind the objective situation. These factors did not drop from the clouds; they have been conditioned by decades and generations of capitalist economic upswing, of full employment and relative improvements of living standards.

324.    This has been the position, particularly in the advanced capitalist nations, not for a short time, but for a period of half a century. It is true that even in the last period, there was an enormous intensification of exploitation, based on an increase in relative and absolute surplus value. The hours of work were increased and merciless pressure was applied to increase productivity. However, on the basis of overtime, whole families working, young people working on part-time contracts, credit and debt, many workers were able to increase their living standards in absolute terms, even as the rate of exploitation rose sharply and the bosses increased their share of the surplus value at the expense of the workers.

325.    In the last period, the intensification of the international division of labour led to a cheapening of the price of commodities, which meant that workers were able to buy things that previously were considered luxury items: mobile phones, big-screen televisions, computers, laptops etc. Marx explained long ago the difference between real wages, money wages and nominal wages (See Wage Labour and Capital). In a boom, it is quite possible for wages to decline vis a vis capital, while nominal wages increase, and the worker can purchase a larger amount of commodities than before. This is particularly true in periods when inflation is low, as was the case, for special reasons, in the last boom, where both prices and interest rates were kept down.

326.    In the USA, Britain, Ireland and Spain, rising house prices added to the sensation of a significant layer that “we are better off”. The workers in the advanced countries understood that they were being exploited, but in the absence of any alternative from the trade union and labour leaders, were compelled to seek individual solutions through long hours of overtime, overwork and debt.

327.    That is what conditioned the consciousness of the working class in the advanced capitalist countries, although the conditions in the so-called third world were, and are, completely different. Now, however, everything has changed into its opposite. All the factors that combined to push the world economy up are now propelling the world into a vicious downward spiral. This will have the most profound effects on consciousness. But this process is not linear and automatic, but highly complex and contradictory.

328.    Why the delay?

329.    There is no such thing as a “final crisis” of capitalism. The boom-slump cycle has been a constant feature of capitalism for over two hundred years. The capitalist system will always eventually get out of even the deepest economic crisis until the system is consciously overthrown by the working class. But the concrete question is this: how do the capitalists get out of the crisis and at what cost to the masses? And the second question is: what is the relationship between the economic cycle and the consciousness of the working class?
330.    The IMF is projecting a recovery for 2010 and there are indications that this is the case. However, the real question is, what kind of recovery? Who benefits and who pays? Even the best case scenario is an extremely feeble recovery, which will be accompanied, not by an improvement in living standards, but by ferocious attacks on living standards, cuts in public spending, and increased taxation which will fall on the working class and the middle class.
331.    When Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his final budget as governor of California, including vicious spending cuts to try to close a $20 billion deficit, he said there was “simply no conceivable way to avoid more cuts and more pain”. This would be an appropriate slogan for the ruling class, not only of the USA, but of the whole world. This is not a scenario for social peace and stability.
332.    A recovery with those characteristics will serve to infuriate the working class at a certain stage and that will be accompanied by waves of strikes and a general revival of the class struggle. Already there are the beginnings of struggles against the crisis and rising costs of living. We have already seen protests in Hungary against the financial crisis, and in Turkey, where 60,000 workers protested against price increases and unemployment, following the call of the unions, and the students joined in. Similar protests and mobilizations have taken place across Europe and even on Wall Street itself.
333.    Although we are passing through the biggest crisis since the 1930s – possibly in the history of capitalism – the crisis has not yet expressed itself in a tidal wave of strikes and general strikes. There is no question that the crisis is producing significant changes on a world scale. But they are not yet being clearly expressed in the labour movement. In Iran there is the beginning of a revolution, and a similar situation is developing in Honduras. But in the key industrial countries, the movement is developing slowly.

334.    Some comrades do not understand why the crisis has not immediately expressed itself in mass mobilizations, strikes and occupations. The delay in the movement can cause perplexity and frustration in the ranks of the revolutionary movement if it is not explained. It is worse than useless to make general statements about the “revolutionary nature of the Epoch” in order to explain to a worker why his workmates in the factory are not willing to strike. Trotsky made this very clear when he wrote the following:

335.    “If one proceeds only on the basis of the overall characterization of the epoch, and nothing more, ignoring its concrete stages, one can easily lapse into schematism, sectarianism, or quixotic fantasy. With every serious turn of events we adjust our basic tasks to the changed concrete conditions of the given stage. Herein lies the art of tactics.” (Trotsky, Writings, 1939-40, p.103)

336.    What is the reason for this delay? The onset of the crisis has caught the workers by surprise, and the initial reaction is one of shock and disorientation. This is hardly surprising. It is a very concrete question. Workers see the factories are being closed, their jobs are at risk, their families are at risk, the trade union leaders do not offer any alternative, but rather, use this situation to discourage strikes. For a time they can succeed in keeping a lid on the movement. But this has a limit.

337.    Temporarily, the onset of mass unemployment has had a restraining effect on strikes. But when there is even a small upturn, and they see that the bosses are no longer sacking people but taking a few people on and the order books are beginning to fill up, this can act as a powerful stimulus to the economic struggle. The car manufacturers are selling off their surplus stocks, closing factories and sacking workers. But once they finish running down the stocks, there will be a certain small improvement, which will serve to embolden the car workers, and in particular those who are not currently unionized, to take action.

338.    Workers are willing to take this for the time being. They want to believe that the worst is indeed over, that they have made it through the storm to relative shelter. They are willing to “wait and see,” and hope for real change from Obama. But this has its limits; the worst is far from over. The immediate shock of last year’s crisis may have subsided, but now the reality is gradually creeping in: Americans are going to be forced to accept a new, lower standard of living, and there will be no rapid bounce back of jobs. Millions of the jobs lost are gone forever, to be replaced by fewer jobs offering lower wages, no benefits, and no union protections.

339.    In the short run, the workers see no alternative but to accept closures and sackings. Because the union leaders offer no alternative, there is a resigned, fatalistic attitude. Their attitude was expressed by one US auto worker who makes Chrysler sedans outside Detroit: “Someone has to go." However, there is a limit to all things. At a certain stage the mood of the workers will change to anger.

340.    In a crisis the workers feel the need for trade union organization even more than in other periods. On the other hand, the seriousness of the crisis is forcing the bourgeois to take up an intransigent attitude in relation to the trade unions. The bosses have a strategy of taking on some key militant sections and defeating them in order to send out a message to the rest of the class. They are also taking advantage of the recession to go onto the offensive.

341.    The old, cosy relationship with the union leaders is no longer possible. The crisis means that the workers must fight for every demand. In Britain there has been a whole series of deals, involving cuts in hours but also cuts in wages. On the other hand, where the workers have faced closure and the loss of everything we have seen factory occupations like Visteon. In our previous perspective documents we underlined the contradictory nature of the situation we were entering, in which a general decline in strike levels is combined with some very militant struggles in some sectors.
342.    .The refuse collectors’ strike in Denmark was very militant, although it took place in the midst of a general collapse of strike activity in the country. The intention was to take them on, use any means possible to smash them and then move on. This is similar to struggle of Mexican electricians. The struggle attracted the attention of the whole labour movement. The postal workers’ strikes in Britain had a similar aspect. The management seemed prepared to take on the workers, taking advantage of the more general mood and make an example of them. On that occasion, the union leaders found an excuse and backed off, but the problem remains.
343.    The situation in the Netherlands has dramatically changed from what it was 10 years ago. From the period of “consensus” politics we now have a very polarized situation, with an aggressive ruling class facing an increasingly militant working class. During the post-war boom they could afford to grant concessions to the working class, and at the same time try to control the workers through their links with the Christian trade union federation (CNV). Now even the traditionally relatively right-wing CNV have gone into opposition against the CDA’s plans. In these conditions the Socialist Party has emerged as a sizeable force to the left of the Labour Party.

344.    Consciousness of the working class

345.    It is a very serious mistake for revolutionaries to confuse what we understand with how the masses see things. Most workers do not have the same consciousness as the Marxists. As we have already explained, the first effect of a deep crisis, a deep slump is shock. The workers do not understand what is happening. However, this is not a simple or uniform process. There are some quite bitter strikes taking place, even now. But at this stage one would not expect a generalized increase of strike activity. In a deep crisis: this would be completely unreal. There is a very low level of strikes as a matter of fact: in the USA, Britain, in Italy, Spain, France etc.

346.    One cannot draw an automatic parallel between radicalization and strikes. Radicalization can express itself in many ways. Although the overall figures for strikes is low, there is already a growing ferment in society, a widespread questioning of the capitalist system which was not there before. This is a terrain in which our ideas can make a big impact. This is a change, and it is an important change. It provides favourable conditions for the development of the Marxist tendency. But we must be patient and follow the process of radicalization step by step, advancing concrete transitional slogans that can find an echo in the minds of the masses at each stage. Above all, we must patiently build our own forces, recruiting the ones and twos and training them in the ideas and methods of Marxism.

347.    The reformist leaders tell the workers that if they are patient and make the necessary concessions and sacrifices, all will be well and the old conditions will be restored. This is a deception and a lie. The bourgeoisie cannot restore the old conditions. They do not know how to get out of the deep hole they have dug. The only thing that occurs to them is to place the full burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the workers and the middle class. A nightmare scenario therefore opens up before the masses everywhere. They all talk about balanced budgets, but this is impossible without deep cuts in living standards. This will still be the case in the event of an economic recovery.

348.    The first signs of a recovery will lead to a wave of economic strikes, which will have a profound effect on all the labour organizations, impelling them to struggle in spite of the current leadership. Even the right wing trade union and the Social Democratic leaders will be affected and forced to the left by the stubborn pressure from below. The mass organizations will be shaken from top to bottom by a tide of radicalization. There will be a wave of defensive strikes and sit-ins to combat sackings and factory closures.

349.    Threat of fascism?

350.    In this transitional situation we will find all kinds of contradictions, not just in South America but in Europe, the USA, and around the world. What we are witnessing are the early stages of political polarization. The situation is characterized by enormous volatility. There will be violent swings of public opinion to the left and the right, reflecting a volatile mood especially in the middle layers of society, which are trying to find a way out of the crisis.

351.    In the absence of a mass workers' alternative, the frustration of the workers in the USA can be expressed in contradictory ways. It is possible that after the failure of Obama to deliver on his promise of "hope" and "change", disillusionment with the Democrats may lead to the return of the Republicans on the basis of large-scale abstentions and protest votes against the incumbents. In a system dominated by two capitalist parties, "the other guy" stands to benefit from the failure of those in power. Already, the Republicans, who were heavily defeated one year ago, have managed to make some gains in the off-year elections. Such violent swings are inherent in the present situation.

352.    No doubt the sectarians, behind whose strident ultraleftism lies a profound scepticism towards the working class, will say that this is proof of a turn to the right in society. In reality, however, it is an inevitable stage in the political education of the masses, who were obliged to pass through the school of Obama and the Democrats in order finally to lose all hope in salvation at the hands of the Democratic Party. It will be a difficult and protracted process. But sooner or later, American workers will come to see that the only way forward is to break with the Democrats and build a mass party of labour based on the unions. The will transform the entire equation of American politics, opening further opportunities for the Marxists.

353.    We see similar sharp swings in public opinion in Europe. In the 2009 European elections, the Social Democrats in particular suffered a heavy defeat and in some countries the ultra right gained some support. What these results indicate is an angry mood, frustration and discontent with the existing “mainstream” centre of European politics. Naturally, the ultra left sects immediately started shouting: “Fascism!” This is irresponsible nonsense. The correlation of class forces in all countries rules out the possibility of fascism at this stage.

354.    Before the Second World War, in countries like Italy and Spain, the working class was a minority. Even in Germany there was a huge peasantry which could be easily recruited by the demagogic arguments of extreme right wing and fascist parties. In France also, that was the case before the war. Now the peasantry has almost disappeared in most European countries and the working class is a decisive majority in society. In the 1930s, the students in all countries were the sons and daughters of the rich. Most were conservative right wingers and a large number were fascists and Nazis. In Britain in 1926, students were the strike-breakers. In Germany, Italy and Austria, most of the students were fascists. Today, in almost all countries the students are left-wing or even revolutionary.

355.    The ferment in the middle class finds all kinds of expressions, reflecting the heterogeneous nature of that class. The votes for the Greens and similar parties is an indication that the petty bourgeois layers are seeking a way out of the impasse of capitalism. The “anti-capitalist” movements in different countries show the same thing. The anti-war movement that erupted even before against the invasion of Iraq showed the revolutionary potential in society. Similar movements are inevitable as a result of imperialist adventures in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

356.    Insofar as they exist, the fascists are small organizations, in the main. They can be particularly vicious, violent and engage in provocations, but there is no question of them taking power. In the USA, the ultra right has been stirred up with the so-called tea parties in preparation for the battles of the future. However, the ruling class would only resort to open reaction after the working class has suffered a series of very heavy defeats. That was the case in Germany and it was also the case in Italy and Spain in the period 1919-39.

357.    There is no question of fascist or Bonapartist reaction in any advanced capitalist country at this stage. But in the long run, if the workers do not take power in France, Italy, Greece and Spain, the situation can change. Bourgeois democracy is a very fragile plant that can grow only on the fertile soil of economic prosperity. Under conditions of crisis the bourgeois will eventually draw the conclusion: there is too much disorder, too much chaos, too many strikes and demonstrations. They will attempt to move in the direction of reaction. But that is not an immediate perspective. Long before the question of fascist or Bonapartist reaction is posed, the workers would have tried time and time again to take power.

358.    The mass organizations

359.    In this period the question of the mass organizations will occupy a central position for the Marxists. The crisis of capitalism is also the crisis of reformism. The reformists have the illusion that it is possible to go back to the situation that existed before. But this is ruled out. The class struggle under capitalism is the struggle for the division of the surplus value created by the labour of the working class. As long as the capitalists are extracting surplus value in sufficient quantities, they can buy social peace. But that is not the case now.

360.    In the 1970s the left reformist tendency was dominant and even began to take on a centrist colouring in some cases. But in the 1980s this trend was reversed. There has been a general swing to the right of all the Social Democratic parties, and also the CPs. The left reformist tendency everywhere is very weak or has collapsed altogether. This is the result of almost three decades of boom, which has set the seal on the degeneration of all these parties, which has gone much further than even the Marxists could have foreseen.

361.    Far from reacting with a fighting programme to mobilize the rank and file, the crisis has pushed the reformist leaders in the opposite direction. They cling to the bourgeois and support the lavish state handouts to the bankers and capitalists. They will support cuts and austerity, allegedly to “solve unemployment”.

362.    The right reformist leaders imagine that it was their “clever” and “realistic” policies that enabled them to win elections. In reality, wherever they have won elections it has been in spite of their policies, not because of them. They were helped by the boom of capitalism and the lack of an alternative to their left. But now here is a deep crisis, their policies stand exposed as bankrupt. These right wing leaders will in time be vomited out and replaced by others, standing further to the left, who reflect the discontent of the masses, in however a confused, partial or inconsistent way. This is an inevitable stage.

363.    The crisis will find its first expression in the trade unions. In his article Perspectives for the Economic Upturn (August 18 1932) Trotsky writes that a revolutionary must be patient. He also writes that every Party member must be obliged to join the trade unions. He stresses the need for the revolutionaries to establish closer links to the mass organizations, above all the unions. That is no accident. In a crisis, the workers feel the need for the mass organizations to defend their interests, and these organizations will be affected by the crisis.

364.    In some cases, with a bold approach, it will be possible to put ourselves at the head of mass movements. But it is ruled out that small revolutionary organizations can substitute themselves for the traditional mass organizations. The masses do not understand things in the same way as the Marxists. It would be a fatal mistake to confuse the two things.

365.    We have returned to the situation that Trotsky described in 1938 in the Transitional Programme: an organic crisis of capitalism with no way out except further cuts and falling living standards. However, when Trotsky wrote of an organic crisis, he did not mean that there could not be a temporary recovery of the economy. The boom-slump cycle will not disappear until capitalism has been overthrown. But the character of the cycle is not the same in the period of capitalist decay as it was in the period of its youthful expansion.

366.    The collapse of Stalinism has reinforced the complete reformist and nationalist degeneration of the former Stalinists, just as Trotsky predicted in 1928. In the case of Italy, the former “Communist” party, after the split of the RC, changed itself into the Democratic Party – something that Blair attempted to do with the Labour Party in Britain, and failed. However, the argument of the sects that the Communist Parties are finished is not new and is contradicted by historical experience.

367.    In 1931 the French CP was reduced to only 5,000 members as a result of the ultra left policies of the Third Period. But it soon recovered and became a mass force. In 1968 the French SP got only about 4% of votes in elections and was written off by the sects, but became the main mass party of the working class. In Britain the Labour Party in the 1980s got only 28% of the vote and it was widely assumed that “Labour could never win another election”. Yet in 1998 Labour won a landslide victory. There have been many other examples.

368.    The explanation is simple. The workers have no alternative to the mass organizations. Although the votes may rise and fall, both the reformist and ex-Stalinist parties have huge reserves of support in the masses. The workers do not understand small organizations. When they move into action they inevitably express themselves through the traditional mass organizations. This law was worked out by Ted Grant and is confirmed by historical experience. All the attempts of the sects to build revolutionary parties outside the mass organizations have ended in farce. They have not understood how the class moves.

369.    It is said that consciousness has been thrown back. But historical materialism teaches us that conditions determine consciousness. The problem is that consciousness is lagging behind the objective situation, the mass organizations are lagging behind that, and above all, the leadership of the working class is lagging even further behind. This is the main contradiction of the present period. It must be resolved, and it will be resolved. Dialectically, consciousness will be brought into line with reality in an explosive manner.

370.    The new layers who will enter into struggle will be far more militant than the older generation, whose psychology has been shaped in the boom years, but they have no direct experience of the past and they do not read the party programmes or the speeches of the leaders. They are guided by a vague idea that it is necessary to change society. In the next period the mass parties will be filled by thousands of workers and young people who want to change society.

371.    This will have an effect on the leadership, which will also be changed many times. The process will begin in the unions, where the old leaders formed in the period of boom will come under intense pressure: either they will respond to the pressure and begin to give a lead, or they will be pushed to one side and replaced by newer and fresher elements more in touch with the mood of the rank and file. Crises and splits are inevitable, with the emergence at a certain stage of left reformist and centrist tendencies.

372.    Danger of ultraleftism

373.    The long delay in the realization of our perspectives for the mass organizations has produced a certain perplexity and confusion even in the ranks of the Marxists, reflected in opportunist and ultra left moods. Impatience is the mother of opportunism as well as ultraleftism. They are head and tail of the same coin. Both trends attempt to find a short cut to success. They seek to reap where they have not sown. That is not possible. The IMT cannot make any concessions to these tendencies. The Marxist tendency was created in an implacable struggle to free itself of ultraleftism and opportunism.

374.    The Marxist tendency is not immune to the pressures of capitalism. The sudden change in the situation, and its contradictory character, necessarily reflects itself in differences, and even sharp internal conflicts. This is not an accident. Differences that seemed minor during the previous period, are now coming to the fore as the situation changes. Small mistakes in method in some sections, which, under “normal” circumstances may have been corrected over time on the basis of events and discussion, can develop into more serious problems.

375.    Impatience with the pace of development of events is affecting an entire layer of activists who do not have the benefit of a scientific Marxist perspective. Many activists on our periphery are demoralized and dejected and these moods can rub off onto some of our own comrades as well. Past defeats have left a pile of political corpses, some of which are not yet prepared to lie down but wander around like the zombies in a cheap horror movie, preying on the living, who they wish to convert into zombies like themselves.

376.    Some comrades, under the influence of a layer of activists who have become burnt out and demoralized, blame the masses, and fall into the trap of what Trotsky called gangrenous scepticism. Others, without necessarily admitting it, begin to question our perspectives for the traditional workers' organizations, the mass workers' parties and trade unions. They regard them as unsalvageable, and embark on adventurous and doomed efforts to found new “mass workers’ parties”.

377.    The main problem is the crisis in the leadership of the working class, the role played by the leaders of the mass workers' parties and unions, compounded by the complex and contradictory nature of the stage we are passing through. We are a small organization of a few thousand cadres on a world scale. Our forces are too small to have a major effect on the movement of the masses. We are still at the stage of recruiting the ones and twos, although, as the experience of Brazil shows, we can win whole groups of workers if we work correctly.

378.    We must have a sense of proportion. We must not commit the cardinal error of exaggerating our own forces. But the current situation is more favourable than it has been since we founded the IMT. We have made some mistakes; but the balance of the work of the International over the past decade is extremely favourable. The political authority of the IMT has never been higher.

379.    There are no panaceas or shortcuts. Impatience is our worst enemy. We must have patience and confidence in the working class. We must not get too far ahead of the class, but rather, accompany them through their experiences. Lenin was fond of the Russian proverb: “life teaches.” The workers are learning, drawing conclusions from their experiences. We must participate in the struggles of the workers and youth, and at each stage patiently explain to our periphery and to our own comrades the meaning of events as they unfold.

380.    Above all, we are building a cadre organization. This is the prior condition for our future success. Engels pointed out (and Lenin emphasized this) that in addition to the economic struggle (strikes) and the political struggle, we must also pay great attention to the ideological struggle. This is particularly important at the present historical juncture. The IMT is unique among all other trends claiming to represent Marxism and Trotskyism, in that we have consistently defended and developed Marxist theory. Our theoretical production is what sets us apart, at a time when every other tendency has abandoned the struggle for theory. Contempt for theory is always a guarantee of political and organizational bankruptcy, as the fate of the old International proves.

381.    The future of the IMT depends on our ability to train cadres. We must resist pressures and conduct a struggle against both opportunist and ultra left tendencies in our ranks. We will inevitably have some losses. Not everybody is able to swim against the stream. Many others are unable to adapt to the new conditions when the current begins to change. It is no accident that precisely at this time the Left is in crisis. The pressures of the objective situation will be expressed in our own ranks, and they will harshly reveal weaknesses that were previously hidden. This is inevitable. The revolutionary tendency is not immune to the pressures in society and within the workers’ movement.

382.    For the ultralefts the situation is always revolutionary, and the proletariat is always ready to stage general strikes and build barricades. These people live in a world that is far removed from the real life of the workers. For them, it is as if the Transitional Programme never existed. They are doomed to impotence.

383.    You cannot reap where you have not sown. That is what all the ultra lefts try to do. Work in the mass organizations is patient, long-term work, conquering one position after another, winning and training cadres in ones and twos. There is no substitute for this. The working class does not understand small “revolutionary” organizations but must always express themselves through the traditional organizations of the class. In the words of Ted Grant: “Outside the labour movement there is nothing.”

384.    Perspectives and tasks
385.    Perspectives are a science, but it is not a precise science. Certain branches of physics can make predictions of astonishing accuracy, but there are other sciences, such as geology, which do not have this privileged position. To this day, despite all the advances of seismology, it is impossible to predict the timing of an earthquake. All that can be said is that such-and-such a place lies on a geological fault line and that sooner or later an earthquake will occur.
386.    The situation is even more complicated in the so-called social sciences. It is sufficient to note the despairing comments of the bourgeois economists in recent months. The same ladies and gentlemen who imagined that their elaborate models could predict the behaviour of the capitalist world economy, and who confidently predicted the impossibility of a slump, are now beating their breasts in public. Barry Eichengreen, a prominent economic historian, writes: “The crisis has cast into doubt much of what we thought about economics.” Paul Krugman, who was given the Nobel Prize for economics in 2008, has said: “For the last thirty years macroeconomic theory has been spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst.” (Our emphasis)
387.    The bourgeois understand nothing. They do not know what is happening and are in a state of panic. That is why they are taking measures that are completely irresponsible from the standpoint of orthodox economics. This is a sign of desperation. The complete inability of the bourgeois economists to explain anything is clear. Marxists were able to predict the inevitability of a slump, and in that sense were vastly superior to the bourgeois economists. But we were no more able to predict its timing than the seismologists were able to predict the gigantic earthquake that has devastated Haiti.

388.    It is wrong to demand more of a perspectives document than what it can give. It is not a finished plan for what will happen (that is called a crystal ball), but a working hypothesis. And like all hypotheses, it must be constantly checked against the real march of events, filled out with new data, modified, or even rejected. In other words, it is a process of successive approximations.

389.    Let us express the same idea differently. Before a general goes into battle, he must first work out a plan of battle, which attempts to envisage how it will unfold. He will take into consideration all the available information, such as the number of his troops and that of the enemy, the state of their training and morale, the relative firepower of both sides, the geography of the terrain, the weather and so on. He will also try to anticipate the likely movements of the enemy, tactics and so on.

390.    This, as Napoleon said, is a very complex equation with an almost infinite number of variables. Nevertheless, it would be a very poor general who sent his troops into battle without a battle plan. On the other hand, it would be an even worse general who insisted on adhering rigidly to his initial battle plan, ignoring all the changes that take place in the course of the struggle that he did not originally anticipate.

391.    By constantly revising and adjusting our perspectives on the basis of changing circumstances, we help to raise our level of understanding. Our purpose is to determine as best we can the political, economic, and social stage we are passing through, in order to intervene in the movement, establish roots in the working class, and build our organization more effectively.

392.    A deep slump is not the best perspective for our work. The most favourable perspective is the one that is most likely: a long period of feeble growth accompanied by constant attacks on living standards. Such a perspective is a finished recipe for class struggle. One thing is certain: they cannot go back to the days of the post-1945 boom. Even a return to the kind of artificial consumer boom of the 1990s is beyond their present capabilities. 

393.    Lenin once wrote an article with the title Combustible Material in World Politics. There is combustible material now everywhere, and the conditions for revolution are maturing.

394.    We are entering into a most convulsive period which will last for some years, similar to the period in Spain from 1930 to 1937. There will be defeats and setbacks, but under these conditions the masses will learn very fast. Only a year or so ago we were living in the most turbulent period in human history a position propagated by Alan Woods since 2002 at least. see this article now we are entering a most convulsive period, so have things become less turbulent since the global economic crisis broke? Or was the original characterisation incorrect? The entire planetary situation of in situation similar to Spain immediately prior to the outbreak of a fascist uprising civil war and world war? The basis for such an analogy is completely lacking!
The same article in 2002 claimed "The only thing that has saved capitalism, and which continues to save it, is the extreme weakness of the subjective factor." i.e. if the IMT had more members the world revolution would be on the order of the day. This is not the method of Marxism, instead it is a voluntarist utopia. The followers of the IMT are supposed to work like mad, as each miniute they slack delays the world revolution.

395.    Of course, we must not exaggerate: we are still in the early days. It is not a simple process. We need to be patient. But two things are clear here: we can see at least the beginning of a change of consciousness of the masses. Millions of people are open to the ideas of Marxism in a way that was not the case before.

396.    In this situation, pure agitation is of limited value. The serious workers want explanations, not slogans. But through both victories and defeats the working class will learn, and our ideas will begin to get an echo. We will have time to build the forces of Marxism. We have some time, but the time we will be allowed is not unlimited. We must have a sense of urgency in building the tendency.

397.    This International is destined to play an important role, provided we keep our heads and do not make too many mistakes. Our forces are still very small, we are struggling to build the first nuclei of the IMT in many countries, but we are beginning to develop. We are no longer just observers, but an active part of the movement in some very important countries. We have the correct ideas, the marvellously profound ideas of Marxism. We have the correct tactics and methods, and above all we are determined to link these ideas to the mass organizations of the working class. Therefore, we can be supremely confident of the future.

398.    Our International has its finger on the pulse of history. We must follow events closely, especially the internal life of the workers’ organizations. In The First Five Years of the Comintern Trotsky speaks of “that tendency which is growing up together with the revolution, which is able to foresee its own tomorrow and its day after tomorrow, which is setting itself clear goals and knows how to achieve them.” (Vol. 1, p.72)

399.    That is what we need if we are to succeed in creating the instrument that the proletariat requires to carry through the socialist transformation of society. We can go forward with absolute confidence in the ideas of Marxism, absolute confidence in the revolutionary role of the working class, absolute confidence in ourselves and in the future of the International Marxist Tendency.

400.    London, 5th February 2010

Q&A on the strange events in the Greek section of the IMT

posted 24 Feb 2010, 10:18 by heiko khoo   [ updated 29 Jan 2011, 11:00 by Admin uk ]


show details 9/21/09



From Doros 
to Comrade Heiko
Sent to the British CC. 
Here is a quick reply to your questions.  Do not hesitate to ask additional questions or raise any issues.

Where did we traditionally work as a Marxist tendency in Greece?

Since the mid 70s when we first had a section in Greece we were working within PASOK, (orientated towards PASOK when we were expelled from it at different periods). We were then called XEKINIMA.
PASOK started out as a centrist party in September 1974. In 1981 they were first elected into the government on a social democratic program. They introduced many important reforms but towards the end of the 80s corruption set in and after a short period out of office they come back with counter reforms. Simitis, the PM, can be compared to Blair and New Labour. In 2004 they lost the elections and changed leader. The present leader, George Papandreou, is the son of the founder of PASOK Andreas Papandreou. Their program is now a mild turn to the left which compares very favourably with Simitis who is not even a candidate (not out of his own choice). PASOK has the largest faction within the Greek TUC which, for good or bad, it controls. It is the mass workers party.

What happened at the time of the split in 1991-2 in our tendency in Greece?

XEKINIMA split 1991-2. The majority stayed with the old International and kept the paper ‘XEKINIMA’. The minority started a new paper called SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI.
I do not remember the exact figures but the minority was sizeable, I would say almost 50% of the cadres and a majority of the worker comrades. The majority had most of the youth but a minority of workers. (To this day XEKINIMA is mainly youth, they do not grow up-they have found the magic portion but they keep the secret for themselves).

When was the new group formed and what happened to the older comrades
who were expelled? How did this split occur?

SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI was expelled from the International in December 2003. The International insisted on a number of policy turns (turn to the youth and the workers should listen to the students/youth!, turn towards KKE (the Greek CP)etc). They rested on the leader of the youth in the section, Stamatis, who took with him most of the youth and 7-8 worker comrades (who, with no exception, left the section 9 months later, September 2004,)and formed the new section called MARXISTIKI FONI with about 30 members.

There were other smaller differences (too much to go into it now) but expulsion was not justified. The comrades of SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI were developing the youth with Stamatis as the person responsible and too much (as far as I was concerned) in control of it. The work in the KKE was going well but it had reached its limits. It was a period during which the most “profitable” work was what the comrades were doing i.e. youth work,20independent work as well as trade union work. It was a similar situation to Britain at the time. New Labour in power, an empty Labour party etc. The section was growing very slowly.  Stamatis was promising “hundreds” of new members and declaring a pre-pre-revolutionary (new term to me) situation.(He was correct in the sense that before the pre-revolutionary situation we have the “normal” capitalist situation, but when he was saying it, it sounded urgent and imposing different tactics on us.)
SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI kept about 35 members mostly workers/trade union activists but only a small number of youths without any committed youth cadres. (This had the effect that in the recent period during the youth uprising they had very few gains). They have now almost doubled their membership with an increased presence in the trade union movement.





What is the nature of the KKE?

The KKE, Greek CP, is the most Stalinist of them all. North Korea. In their last congress,Feb.2009, they reaffirmed their Stalinism in their analysis of the collapsed USSR.(Everything went wrong after Stalin’s death). They expel members for the slightest of disagreements. There is no democracy in the democratic centralism they profess. They are in a “third period” frame of mind. They see no difference between PASOK and New Democracy (the conservatives). During the past 5 years we had a number of genera

l strikes and a lot of other strikes, rallies, demonstrations and marches organised by the Unions and/or the TUC. On the same day and time the KKE organises its own separate events on the other side of town. It has about 8% of the vote but a sectarian attitude. It is strong amongst the building workers union and overall it has about 20% of the trade union voting members.
SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI intervenes in their events but very carefully, on the “outskirts”. It had some success, 3-4 comrades before the expulsion came from KKE. If you are at all “provocative” the builders will send you to the hospital. A tactic they employed against MARXISTIKI FONI, apparently, was to surround them, turn their backs to them and close the circle so that they could not leave until the rally was over!!



Did we do entryist work inside it?

Impossible and it has always been like that. Of course I do not exclude any future changes in the situation and would welcome them, but, as things stand it is not possible.



What is Synaspsismos and what is SYRIZA?

Synaspismos is a “Coalition (the word means coalition) of the Left, the (social) Movements and Ecology”. Its full name. It is a split from a short lived coalition with KKE (late 80s) of Euro-communists and other petit bourgeois elements of the left. It is made up of a number, 3-4, of factions. It operates as a unifi
ed party with publicly recognised differences between the factions. Very little influence amongst the working class.

SYRIZA, its full name is “Coalition of the Radical Left”. It was formed about 2 or 3 general elections ago. It is again a coalition of about 10 groups/parties who work independently but together on a minimum program which is approved unanimously. They participate in elections and are expected to get, in the general elections of the 4th of October, just over 3%. The biggest by far party in SYRIZA is Synaspismos. The others are small sects, like XEKINIMA (see above), KOKINO (4th International), a maoist group, a nationalist left split from PASOK etc.
3% of the vote is the threshold for electing MPs and receiving state funding. If they do not get 3% and loose the state funding, which is shared amongst the participating groups/parties, SYRIZA will dissolve and Synaspismos will split with at least one faction joining PASOK.
Even with a good result, between 3+5%, Syriza will be under a lot of pressure from some of the factions of Synaspismos, to dissolve. Syriza, as an electoral coalition, has a secure future only if it gets over 5%.




Is there any bureaucratic reason why the Greek comrades should pretend
to dissolve in order to conduct entryist work in Synaspsismos or the
electoral coalition of the Left?

No. As explained above, both Synaspismos and Syriza are coalitions. Synaspismos is
a coalition of the left, the movements and ecology with at least 3 publicly recognised factions (you hear on the radio for example that this faction had a meeting and supported the leader’s proposal for an emergency congress).
Syriza is a coalition of groups/parties.

Is there anything about Synaspsismos that compels comrades to cease
publishing their journal and web site and become periodic?

No


Has the Synaspsismos leadership engaged in witchhunts of Trotskyists?

Not that I know of-highly unlikely.

Is our tendency known inside Synaspismos such that it is important

to maintain secrecy on entry into the party?

Our small group is fairly new on the political scene in Greece. I doubt very much that anyone of the Synaspismos leaders know any of our members with the possible exception of Stamatis who has been active as a member of SOSIALISTIKI EKFRASI for many years. But Synaspismos would welcome them with open arms anyway, especially just before the elections.



Did we conduct such deep entryism inside the KKE and if not why not?

No we did not. The International has never been in favour of deep entryism.
Deep entryism is nonsense. Deep entryism is for spies. We practice entryism to educate the workers in the mass workers parties expressing our opinions at every chance we get and clashing with the bureaucracy when the need arises. Deep entryism requires you to be quiet and pass unno
ticed. What for?


Doros

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