Capitalism has outlived itself and has become a brake on historical progress (Trotsky). The bourgeoisie internationally are no longer able to rule in the old way, while the working class is still incapable of seizing power. However the balance of forces are moving in favour of the working class movement. The ruling classes internationally are on the defensive and bourgeois ideologists are talking of a third system of social relations that is neither capitalist nor socialist. The proletariat, convinced by the objective conditions of existence, are demanding fundamental change in the economic and social relations, but has yet to be convinced that these changes can only come about through fundamental political change i.e.: the political rule of the bourgeoisie through the bourgeois state must be terminated and that the only path to Socialism is through establishing a working class dictatorship, ie a dictatorship of the majority against the handful of capitalists, the 0.01%.
The democratic Bourgeois State has been unmasked as nothing but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and an instrument of control over the broad proletarian mass. Its task serves the protection and maintenance of the capitalist social relations. The crisis of capitalism in 2007-2008 which threatened the financial edifice of the system exposed the class nature of the so-called “Democratic State.” To save the system from collapsing, particularly in the imperialist centres, the capitalist states rescued the banks and financial institutions from collapse, while at the same time paying little attention to the plight of millions of workers and lower middle classes, who were thrown into the streets as a consequence of this crisis.
While the working masses were left homeless, the bourgeoisie and the ruling classes, with the help of the state, were re-organizing their affairs in order to maintain their privileges and profits. Millions of workers are finding it impossible to put food on the table or shelter over their heads. Hundreds of so-called “shelters” for the impoverished and destitute are sprouting up everywhere. In America the slogan “Bail out Wall Street, what about the Main Street?” was reverberating throughout the country. The significance of this slogan -that the American State served only one class which is the Capitalist class and not society as a whole as it likes to portray itself, is glaringly evident.
Class consciousness is beginning to take shape. The irreconcilability of class interests exposed through retrenchments, cuts in wages, cuts in social services, house evictions, small business foreclosures, teacher retrenchments – and the list goes on- is facilitating this process of building consciousness. As yet the irreconcilability of class interests and class antagonism has not sufficiently deep roots in the psyche of the mass, because if it did, the end of capitalists social relations would become an easy task to accomplish. Nevertheless class consciousness and the budding consciousness of class irreconcilability particularly in the USA, has profound implications for the world proletarian movement.
The successful general strike in Oakland against the social cuts imposed by the Republican administration, which shut down banks and businesses, demonstrates the rising antagonism against the bourgeois state. This is particularly significant in the context of American laws which forbids such strikes. This was apparently the first general strike after the 1946-1947 strikes in America. What has to be ascertained is the level of support this strike had among the working class in other states, and its impact on the consciousness of the broader proletarian mass. The significance of this lies in the breakdown of control by the ruling classes, and the loss of fear of bourgeois law. Politically the psychological chains, which shackled the working class for 65 years have been broken. Class independence and proletarian class interest is taking root.
The above lines were written before the May 1st general strike called by the organizations making up the Occupy Wall Street, where more than 30 000 of the exploited masses marched in New York alone and thousands demonstrated across the USA. On the surface the numbers may seem small, but the significance lies not in the numbers, but in the dramatic change in the political psychology of the mass movement which is irrevocably moving towards the demand for fundamental change in the social relations. The eradication of poverty and inequality does not and cannot come about through greater investments by the capitalist class. The proponents of this wants us to believe that investments creates jobs and jobs alleviate poverty and inequality; deliberately ignoring that the capitalist invests only if they can make profits, and profits come through exploitation which is the expropriation of surplus value, and hence perpetuates inequality. Only with the destruction of this relation of exploiter and exploited (ie capitalist-worker) can inequality be eradicated.
The wealth of the 1% did not fall from heaven but is the blood and sweat of the exploited mass. The American worker must take the next step in planning the removal of this exploitative relationship and this can only be achieved through where the political superstructure embodied in the state is thoroughly and completely overthrown, ie institutions like the army, police force and prison system) which sustains it.
Social ownership of the means of production is the only ‘salvation’ from the barbarous trajectory of capitalist relations.
American imperialism as a powerful anti-revolutionary force globally is in decline. To a degree a section of the American proletariat was an ally of American capital up to 2007. Hence the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the slaughter of thousands of American soldiers and the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi’s and Afghans was tolerated without any serious backlash by the American working class. This situation has changed radically since 2007. The American working class has become aware that the wars of occupation were not to promote democracy, nor to protect the American homeland and its people; but were prosecuted in the interest of the 1% which owned more than 40% of the accumulated wealth of America.
The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan signifies defeat of American imperialism, not only by the Iraqi’s and the Afghan’s but also by the refusal of the American proletariat to be the sacrificial lamb on the altar of imperialist profits and control. The American working class is no longer willing to be the counter-revolutionary force against the world proletarian movement which is beginning to struggle for emancipation from the capitalist yoke. What is needed is to turn the healthy disgust of the US working class for the capitalists, as expressed in the Occupy Wall Street movement, into independent political organization against the US state machinery, perhaps through an Occupy White House movement, hand in hand with the establishment of a revolutionary working class party that is part of a revolutionary international.
If our analysis is correct, then major opportunities for successful revolutionary movements to emerge and succeed all over the world are possible. But imperialism/ capitalism, cognisant of this fact, has other agencies in its armoury to protect itself and maintain its class rule.
In the last five years, forces in the service of imperialism/capitalism have not only been immensely successful in directing the revolutionary energies of the working class into reformism, but they have used the bureaucratic trade union leadership to deliberately sap the energy of the working class by engaging in futile one day strikes as we have seen in Greece. The objective is to tire the working class psychologically, economically and politically. The leadership hoped that the non-achievement of even the most achievable demand, such as no cuts in pensions, would lead to despair and ultimately apathy. The failure of counter-revolution and the tenacity of the working class in continuing to struggle, despite the misleadership, indicate a relentless determination by the working class and the loosening of control of the trade union bureaucracy.
The latest election results in Greece despite the gargantuan effort by imperialism through the bourgeois conservative New Democracy party and the counter revolutionary reformist Pasok party to frighten the mass with a doomsday scenario if they do not support them in the election, signifies a major shift in the political consciousness of the Greek proletarian mass. No longer can they be duped in believing that Capitalism is the only system which works and which is here to stay.
No longer are they afraid of the future because at present the situation is so grievously critical that physical existence has become not only a challenge but impossible under bourgeois rule. They are demanding a new system. What has to be forcefully brought to their attention is that only the social ownership of the means of production, ie the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under the control of the working class, can the social economic crisis be resolved. But this requires a change in the political superstructure i.e.; it requires the political liquidation of the bourgeois class, of private property relations. In short, power must be taken by the proletariat organized into soviets (councils of workers delegates) to fulfil the programme of social ownership of the means of production. A fully worked out programme to reorganize society to meet the needs of the working class and fellow poor must become the primary task of the leadership of the working class party.
The Greek working class can be absolutely sure that the entire European working class without exception and conditions will support their acceptance of this task. Boldness and speed must be the order of the day. The tide of history is on our side in fact the tide of revolution is on the side of the entire world Proletariat, including, crucially, the working class in all imperialist centres.
The Spanish revolution is now on the horizon. The masses are restive in Russia. Revolutionary strategy and tactics and revolutionary leadership and assistance from all the revolutionary forces who are genuinely for a revolutionary working class International, which for us would be the refounded 4th international, becomes paramount. Reaction is on the defensive. Counter revolution will try to regroup. The revolutionary forces must unite and mobilize the restless and angry courageous mass towards the path of revolution, i.e.; the liquidation of the Capitalist system and the Capitalist imperialist bourgeoisie. This can only pass through a working class dictatorship, a dictatorship of the majority over the 0.01%, the handful of capitalists and their allies, who will fight tooth and nail to preserve the current capitalist barbarism.
Similarly the heroic struggles of the mass in Syria under the most adverse conditions, without revolutionary leadership, without arms, and the brutal massacre of innocents by the Assad regime further illustrates, the deep-rooted change in the psychology of the mass. No longer are they prepared to live in the old way. Here we have the ‘Communist’ parties dividing the masses and tying the working class to the imperialist puppet Assad regime. The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) plays a counter-revolutionary role by supporting the Assad regime. On the other hand several of the world’s left, like the United Secretariat of the Fourth International and the FLTI, claim to be supporting the Syrian masses but capitulate to imperialism through a pacifist approach to the Free Syrian army, the main agency within the revolutionary masses that keeps the masses disarmed because it is headed by an ex-Assad general and thus by imperialism. The Free Syrian army centralizes the arms that the defecting soldiers bring with them, and keeps them under the command of a general that is tied hand and foot to the plans of imperialism. The Free Syrian army and the SNC (Syria National Council) are deliberate creations of imperialism to prevent the arming of the masses and to prepare the destruction of the revolution from within. Imperialism is fighting for its life and thus cannot allow an armed uprising of the masses to topple any capitalist regime as the consequences in the region and internationally would set a precedent for a world-wide conflagration, an explosion that would shatter the world capitalist system. Like in the US, the base of the reactionary Israeli regime is cracking- last year hundreds of thousands of youth filled the centres of the squares in Tel Aviv and other smaller cities and towns, demanding cheaper housing. There is a steady group of youth who are becoming resistors, refusing to serve in the army. One of the Israeli army radio stations likened the attacks on African Jews by the ulta rightwing Zionists, to the pogroms in Europe before the 2nd world war. This is evidence of a growing crack in the base of the reactionary Zionist regime.The Israeli regime supports the attacks on the African migrants- clearly they are not the fascist type that the regime requires to continue to brutalise the Palestinian masses. The FLTI and others ignore the Jewish worker in ‘Israel’ as if any revolution can succeed without a policy to break the rank and file of the army away from supporting the regime. The Muslim Brotherhood like the Hamas, Hezbollah and others help contain the masses from joining the world wide rise against the capitalist regimes. Despite all the obstacles, the Palestinian masses have not been defeated; the masses in Bahrain and Yemen are still resisting. All the brutal regimes of various forms in the Middle East are under threat from the masses.
The mass uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have nothing to do with an ‘Arab Spring’, but reflect the myth of a post-World war 2 boom. It was a period when the masses within the imperialist centres were bought off at the expense of greater exploitation and suppression of the masses in Asia, Africa and central and South America. Military coups and military dictatorships abounded, even as imperialism was forced to concede nominal political independence. Then the strong world-wide Stalinist apparatus played a crucial role in disarming the working class in the imperialist centres and tying the masses to bourgeois nationalist movements that suppressed independent working class organization and diverted the working class from seizing power through promoting a period of capitalism under the leadership of the indigenous middle class, a stage that could not supposedly be skipped. Thus in Africa, the Stalinists peddled African Socialism, in the Middle East, they peddled Arab socialism. But the masses have made their experience of these imperialist puppets who have been maintaining a brutal rate of exploitation that world capitalism depended upon for its existence. Even in the period after the fall of the Berlin wall, the masses in Africa continue to suffer the most brutal brunt of inter-imperialist rivalry to plunder the continent- the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 the wars in the DRC resulting in the death of millions of the masses and the subsequent control by US imperialism of the region, are evidence of this. The crisis of 2007 up to now, with an even greater rate of exploitation being forced onto the masses by the imperialist puppet regimes, has been the last straw. In Libya independent militias developed before imperialism could set up a Free Libya army, and this was decisive in the first period to defeat Gaddafi’s forces but which has yet to deal with the Gaddafi regime (many elements of the old regime are now in the TNC which is actively trying to disarm the masses). In other places such as Ivory Coast, imperialism launched a pre-emptive military invasion to kick out one puppet and to install a new one in order to win time for a further period of exploitation. In Mali and Guinea Bissau, imperialism has launched military coups to pre-empt a mass uprising that would have seen the masses topple the regime through mass action methods. In these regions the workers’ movement was relatively weak and imperialism was forced to resort to these desperate measures to maintain control. In other areas such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, imperialism depends on the trade union leadership and the remnants of the Stalinist parties as well as social imperialist left parties such as the ISO, International Socialist Organization, to divert the masses into economic fights rather than a fight for power, or into bourgeois elections. But unlike the previous decades, there has been a much greater proletarianization of the Africa masses and the corresponding decline of the weight of the peasantry. The masses have also been through an extended period of the farce of limited ‘democracy’, exposure not only of the true class collaborationist nature of the national liberation movements, but also of the Stalinist parties.
In South and Central America, after decades of imperialist-backed military dictatorships which were supported by the ‘Communist’ parties, there was a growth of a nominally ‘Trotskyist’ left. As the military dictatorships were overthrown there followed a period of unstable bourgeois democratic regimes. For the past decade there has been a period of popular fronts, capitalist regimes held in place not only by the Communist parties but also by the nominal ‘Trotskyist’ left. The rest of the ‘Trotskyist’ left ascribe to either guerrilla-ism or capitulate to the Moreno conception of revolution, such as the FLTI, namely to fight for ‘workers and popular’ governments, where they express another variant of the Stalinist democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, namely giving the middle class and working class equal standing within the revolutionary workers movement, robbing it of its proletarian essence. Where workers have smashed the dictatorships through revolution, workers control was strangled through Communist party, as in Cuba. In 2001, Castro flew to Argentina to call on the masses not to take power, saying that there was no need for more Cuba’s in South America. Despite all these reformist and counter-revolutionary leaderships, the masses have still been rising against the regimes such as in Bolivia and Chile. In Chile, for several months there has been a pre-revolutionary situation which was sparked by mass youth unemployment and the privatization of education. In the rest of South and Central America the class struggle has been sharpening.
In China, there have been 160 000 strikes last year alone. The Chinese Communist Party is the subcontractor for US and Japanese imperialism, delivering the working class to exploitation in the sweat shops of the multinationals. In the entire region the increase in exploitation is bringing the class struggle to boiling point. A huge section of the world’s ‘left’ raise China as an ‘imperialist’ power- thereby wittingly – unwittingly promoting the imperialist myth of a growing Chinese competitor, putting the US worker against the Chinese worker and diverting attention from the real enemy, US and world imperialism and its puppets such as the Chinese maoist regimes.
There are massive revolutionary opportunities in this period. What is required is bold leadership and the development of a revolutionary programme to found a revolutionary International, with sections, revolutionary working class parties, in every corner of the globe, which for us means to refound the Fourth International, to advance the fight for the working class to seize political power, for the world Socialist revolution. Join with WIVP in advancing this historic task. Workers of the world unite- we have nothing to lose but our chains!
Workers International Vanguard Party