An Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organizations and Activists
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At the Outset of a New Political Phase: For the Unity of Revolutionaries in the Struggle against Advancing Counterrevolution!
Issued by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 29.12.2015, www.thecommunists.net
As the crisis of capitalism deepens and brings in its wake more wars and misery, the working class and the oppressed are politically disoriented by their reformist and populist leaderships. The resulting political paralysis constitutes a huge danger for the popular masses that face a new political phase of counterrevolutionary offensives by the bourgeoisie. In such a situation it is of utmost urgency for revolutionaries to advance the struggle for a new World Party of Socialist Revolution and hence, as a first step, to strive for unity based on agreement on the crucial programmatic and organizational tasks of the class struggle today.
The present world situation cannot be understood outside of the context of the global historic period which opened with the Great Recession in 2008. This long-term period is characterized by the fall of the rate of profit and capitalist decay. Against this backdrop, the bourgeoisie all over the world has less room to maneuver and make any concessions to the working class.
As a result the capitalists are forced to accelerate their attacks on the working class and the popular masses as exemplified by the numerous austerity and privatization programs in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, South Africa, etc., as well as in the attacks on workers’ rights as we are witnessing in China, South Korea, Cambodia or Vietnam.
For the very same reason the imperialist monopolies are increasing the super-exploitation of the semi-colonial countries (the so-called “Third World”) resulting in the barbaric IMF programs, programs of debt repayment, land grabbing and increasing poverty that we are witnessing throughout Africa and Latin American, as well as in many countries like India and Pakistan, to name only the largest and most prominent. Furthermore the Great Powers and their lackeys are increasingly deploying ground troops, warships and air forces to expand their influence in the South (e.g., NATO in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq; Russian intervention in Syria; French intervention in Mali and CAR; Chinese troops in South Sudan; the African Union Mission in Somalia; etc.).
Likewise, the decay of the capitalist system is intensifying the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers (the US, EU, Japan, China and Russia). Hence we see an increasing number of conflicts between the Great Powers over spheres of influence (e.g., in the Ukraine, in Syria or in East Asia). Other manifestations of this rivalry are various projects of US imperialism (e.g., the TTP and TTIP free trade agreements) as well as of the new Eastern imperialists (China and Russia) which increasingly are challenging the hegemony of the old Western imperialists (e.g., China’s Nicaragua Canal Development Project; the New Development Bank operated by the BRICS states as an alternative to the existing American and European-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund; the spread of trade conducted in Yuan and Ruble, etc.).
The result of these accelerating contradictions in the world capitalist system is a rising number of class struggles, popular uprisings, reactionary counteroffensives, coup d’états and wars. The Arab Revolution which started in December 2010 is a prime example of this: the working class and poor swept away brutal dictators like Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Mubarak and Saleh. But since the liberal and Islamist leaderships could not offer a vision leading forward, they also suffered terrible defeats like the crushing of the democratic protests in Bahrain, the coup d’état of General Sisi in Egypt, and the return of the old guard of Ben Ali in Tunisia. In Libya the Great Powers support the reactionary forces around General Haftar and try to force the bourgeois-Islamist government in Tripoli to capitulate. In Yemen, the Saudi forces with their puppet Hadi have invaded the country in order to destroy the Yemeni Revolution.
In Syria the revolutionary liberation struggle is continuing but is facing huge threats. The murderous dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad – with the wholesale support of Russian imperialism as well as that of Iran – is continuing its war of destruction against its own people. At the same time the Syrian Revolution is threatened by the rise of the counterrevolutionary Daesh (the so-called “Islamic State”). Last but not least, all the Great Powers are united in their determination to liquidate the Syrian Revolution since they fear both a destabilization of the imperialist order throughout the entire region as well as growing waves of refugees coming to Europe.
The wave of popular struggles in Latin America during the past decade formed the backdrop for the election of a number of bourgeois populist and popular front governments (e.g., Lula da Silva / Rousseff in Brazil, Chavez / Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, and Kirchner in Argentina). These governments – dominated by a sector of the bourgeoisie and ruling in their interests, but also based on the support of workers’ and popular organizations – could offer some concessions to the popular masses since these countries experienced a certain economic upswing based on their intensifying trade with China as well as massive foreign loans and investments made there by the new Eastern imperialist power. However, with the slowdown of China’s economy and the intensifying efforts of US imperialism to regain the hegemony in its “backyard,” the bourgeois-reformist model of Castro-Chavismo is exhausted and has disillusioned the masses.
Greece, a modern day semi-colony in the South of Europe, is the most prominent example of the brutal strangulation which the poorer European countries are suffering at the hands of the EU and the imperialist monopolies. However, Greece has also been in the forefront of the European class struggle during the past few years with up to 40 general strikes having taken place in that country. As a result, the left-reformist SYRIZA was elected into government in January 2015. However, true to its nature as a bourgeois workers’ party, it openly betrayed the working class by forming a popular front with the right-wing racist ANEL party and by capitulating to the austerity programs imposed by the EU despite the tremendous victory for OXI (“No”) in the referendum on 5 July.
The accelerating contradictions of capitalism are provoking the class struggle as well as the bourgeoisie’s attacks in all parts of the world. In China – a capitalist country which has become home to the greatest number of billionaires worldwide as well as of the second largest number of multi-national corporations – the workers and rural poor are gaining confidence in expressing their disgust with the capitalists, managers and bureaucrats. According to the Hong-Kong based China Labour Bulletin, the reported number of strikes and protests in the country has doubled every year since 2011. Similarly, on 2 September 2015 India witnessed one of the biggest general strikes in its history with 150 million people participating. In Pakistan, too, workers are continuing to resist the bosses and the governmental privatization plans as exemplified by the actions of the power workers. In Thailand, the workers and poor peasants are still suffering from the serious defeat in May 2014 when the military launched a reactionary coup d’état to overthrow the bourgeois-populists government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
In South Africa the working class and youth have continued to fight against the popular front ANC government of Jacob Zuma despite the outrageous massacre at Marikana in August 2012. The split in the trade union federation COSATU with the breaking away of its single biggest union, NUMSA, was a correct step forward, as were the attempts of the latter to form a new political movement. Despite its reformist deficiencies, this project will hopefully lead to the formation of a new workers’ party. Likewise, the mass protests of the workers and poor in Burundi against its long-term dictator Pierre Nkurunziza demonstrated that the African masses are not willing to succumb to their reactionary dictators, lackeys of imperialism.
However, despite their heroic struggles, the working class and the oppressed have not been able to stop the bourgeoisie’s austerity programs, anti-democratic offensive and imperialist war drive. Worse, in a number of countries the ruling class has launched counterrevolutionary offensives.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the Great Powers and their local flunkies continue to try and strangle the Arab Revolution by supporting old and new dictatorships as well as by means of foreign military interventions.
In Latin America, important sectors of the bourgeoisie have launched a counterrevolutionary offensive in order to depose the populist and popular-frontist governments. They have already pushed out the Kirchnerist government in Argentina, substantially weakened the Maduro government in Venezuela and are unrelenting in their attempts to impeach Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
In Europe, the ruling class is whipping up chauvinism against migrants – particularly of Muslim origin – and has begun a systematic process of militarization and domestic repression. French President Hollande declared a three months state of emergency (with the support of the ex-Stalinist PCF and the Front de Gauche!), vastly extending the legal power of the repressive state apparatus and accelerating the imperialist military intervention in Syria. Britain and Germany swiftly followed apace. The ruling classes of the imperialist EU fear the mass of refugees coming to Europe (around one million in 2015) and try to make people forget that they are only facing the consequences of the bourgeoisie’s barbaric world order!
All these developments mark the onset of a new political phase: an interim phase characterized by the global counterrevolutionary offensive of the ruling class which leads to more austerity programs, domestic repression and imperialist wars and which will provoke mass resistance of the working class and the oppressed.
Unfortunately, the working class and the oppressed suffer from a lack of revolutionary leadership. Instead, their resistance is impeded by the reformist, populist, and bureaucratic nature of their current leaders. The official heads of the trade unions and popular organizations, of the reformist and bourgeois and petty-bourgeois populist parties (e.g., the Castro-Chavistas, Kirchnerists and Rousseff’s and Lula’s PT in Latin America, SYRIZA in Greece and other social democrats in Europe, the Stalinists in India and the Maoists in Nepal) as well as of the various strands of Islamism (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood, various rebel groups in Syria or the Houthis in Yemen) – they have all failed to offer the workers and popular masses a road out of capitalist misery and humiliation. Their political nature – irrespective of their official “radical” proclamations – is to remain or to become part of the state apparatus of the ruling capitalist class. It is therefore hardly surprising that they often have been, or aspire to become, an ally of one or several imperialist Great Powers.
The centrists of various hues – “revolutionaries” in words, but opportunists in deeds – are part of the problem, not the solution. As a general rule they opportunistically adapt directly to the bureaucratic apparatus of the mass organizations and thus, indirectly, to this or that imperialist Great Power. We specifically name, among many others: the CWI led by Peter Taffee, Alan Woods’ IMT, the Lambertists as well as the Mandelist NPA in France who consistently fail to support the resistance against the imperialist occupation in those countries which are victim to the imperialist powers (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, etc.); the Morenoite LIT which hailed the reactionary Euro-Maidan movement in the Ukraine as well as the coup d’état in Egypt (as did as the IMT); French centrists like the LO who support the suppression of female Muslim’s right to wear the hijab in schools; British centrists who supported the chauvinist “British Jobs for British Workers” strike in 2009, denounced the August Uprising in 2011 and who oppose “Open Border for Migrants” (like the CWI and the IMT); various centrists who refuse to defend the Syrian Revolution but prefer to take a neutral stand (CWI, IMT, PTS/FT); the Cliffites (SWP in Britain) who opportunistically have found a place of peaceful coexistence in the parliamentary faction of the left-reformist and pro-Zionist LINKE in Germany, and who have managed the political absurdity of first supporting the candidacy of Morsi and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in 2012, only to then refuse to defend the Muslim Brotherhood from the massacres of General Sisi in the summer of 2013, and finally to opening collaborate with coup supporters in the so-called Road of the Revolution Front; or those centrists which have many times opportunistically adapted to the Castro-Chavistas (e.g., the Lambertists in Brazil) and/or who have more recently scandalously supported the right-wing, pro-US opposition against Chavez (e.g., Chirino/UIT in Venezuela in 2013) or against the Brazilian PT government (e.g., support of the Morenoite LIT and UIT for the pro-impeachment demonstrations).
We must choose a different path. As long as the working class and the oppressed do not possess a revolutionary combat party – nationally as well as world-wide – they cannot succeed in their liberation struggle. Therefore the most urgent task in the present period is the timely founding of revolutionary parties and a new World Party of Socialist Revolution. Such new revolutionary parties are forged in the class struggle as well as in that against the official leaderships – the treacherous labor bureaucrats, Social Democracy, Stalinists, petit-bourgeois Nationalists and Islamists – who consciously or unconsciously mislead the workers and oppressed.
To make significant progress in this task, the unity of revolutionaries all over the world is vital. Such a unity can succeed in building a strong international Bolshevik organization which shares a common program as well as common understanding of the methods of party building and thus serves as a pre-party formation for the new World Party of Socialist Revolution (which in our opinion will be the Fifth International).
Faced with advancing counterrevolution at the beginning of this new political phase, the RCIT calls upon all sincere revolutionary organizations and activists around the world to unite in the struggle for an authentically Marxist – meaning Bolshevik, applied to the conditions of the 21st century – international organization. Such an international organization needs theoretical and practical clarity. It must be based on a joint understanding of the application of the revolutionary program to the main question of today’s international class struggle. They must not only proclaim the road to liberation, but must also name and fight against all obstacles. In other words, it must take up the struggle against the numerous left-reformist and centrist forces which disorient and mislead the working class under the banner of “Marxism” – which is a “Marxism” devoid of its revolutionary spearhead, a “Marxism” conveniently and opportunistically adapted to all possible non-working class leaderships (reformists, populists, Islamists, etc.), or a “Marxism” which vegetates in sectarian retirement from the class struggle.
For a Revolutionary Approach to the Burning Issues of World Class Struggle
Programmatic clarity and unity has to be examined on the basis of the most important issues of world class struggle such as the following.
* Defend the Arab Revolution against its foreign and domestic enemies! Down with the reactionary dictatorships in Syria, Egypt as well as the Gulf monarchies! No to the return of the Ben Ali clique in Tunisia! Against General Haftar’s gang in Libya! For workers and peasant republics!
* International solidarity with the ongoing Syrian Revolution! Continue the struggle until the whole Baathist state apparatus is smashed! Down with the military intervention of Russian as well as French, US, British and German imperialism! No to any negotiated settlement by the Great Powers! For the Kurdish people’s right to national self-determination! Down with the reactionary Daesh!
* Smash the imperialist Apartheid State of Israel! For a Democratic, Palestinian, Multinational and Socialist Workers and Fallahin Republic from the River to the Sea (“For a Free, Red Palestine!”)! No to any Two-State Solution! Victory to the Palestinian Resistance! For international workers and popular solidarity like the boycott campaign!
* Down with imperialist aggressions and wars! In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and North Korea: Defeat the imperialist NATO and Russian forces and their local allies! We are on the side of those resisting the imperialist invaders without giving any political support for nationalist, Islamist or Stalinist forces!
* Stop the counterrevolutionary offensive in Latin America! No to the impeachment of the Rousseff government in Brazil! No to the right-wing Macri government in Argentina! For a mass united front of workers and popular organizations which should include those under the influence of the reformists and populists (like the Kirchnerists, Castro-Chavistas, etc.)! But no political support for any bourgeois-populist or popular-front government! Expropriate the multinational corporations from US, EU and China! Defend Argentina against British imperialism and kick Britain out of the Malvinas!
* Defend democratic rights against dictatorships and semi-dictatorships! For mass united fronts of workers and popular organizations – including those led by reformist, populist and Islamist forces – against the reactionary Bonapartist regimes (e.g. Egypt, Thailand, Burundi, etc.)
* Support the struggle of all oppressed nations for self-determination! Freedom for Azawad (Mali), Chechnya, East-Turkmenistan (China), Balochistan, Kashmir, Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, Catalonia, and all other oppressed nations! Support the struggle of the Afro-American minority in the USA (like the Black Lives Matters movement) as well as of the native/indigenous people in Northern and Southern America for liberation!
* Equal rights for migrants! No immigration control in imperialist countries! Equal wages and full citizenship rights! Equality for migrants and national minorities’ languages in the education sector and the public administration! For a revolutionary migrants movement!
* Fight against Chauvinism and Militarization in Europe! Lift the state of emergency in France! No deployment of the army on European streets! All European troops out of Northern Africa and the Middle East! Defend Muslim migrants against Islamophobic racism! Equal rights for Muslims! No to mass arrests against Islamists! Open the borders to refugees!
* General strikes against the austerity offensive! Stop attacks on wages and workers’ rights! No more privatizations! Cancel public debt! Nationalize all enterprises which sack workers or declare bankruptcy and place them under workers’ control! Expropriate the banks and corporations!
* Support the struggle of the Greek workers and poor against the EU-Troika! For an indefinite general strike against the Third Memorandum! Exit the EU and fight for a workers’ government! Smash the imperialist EU with a Socialist Revolution! For the United Socialist States of Europe!
* Down with all imperialist Great Powers – US, EU, Japan, China and Russia! In any political, economic or military conflict between these Great Powers, the workers movement must not give any support to one of them but must follow the Leninist program of revolutionary defeatism and declare: The Main Enemy is at Home!
* For Women’s Liberation through socialist revolution! Support the struggle of Dalit and other women in India against systematic oppression! For self-defense units of the workers and poor to defend women against violence! Equal wages for women! For the socialization of housework! For a revolutionary working class women’s movement!
* For the liberation of the youth! Down with state repression against young people! Avenge the murder of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in Mexico! Solidarity with the migrant youth in France and Britain fighting against oppression! Support the protests of the South African students! For a revolutionary youth movement!
Contrary to the reformists bureaucrats like the Castro-Chavistas, the Party of the European Left or the Indian CP’s, revolutionaries reject the illusion that such immediate demands, to say nothing of the entire program, can be realized within the capitalist system. Even the temporary implementation of such demands cannot be achieved via the reformist methods with a focus on elections, parliamentary work and reforms. Capitalism in decay is incapable of offering any meaningful enduring reforms.
Instead, revolutionaries insist that the liberation struggle has to be conducted by the means of uncompromising class struggle and by advancing the self-organization of the workers and oppressed. This is why revolutionaries support all forms of mass struggle dictated by concrete circumstances – beginning with mass demonstrations, strikes and general strikes, occupations up to armed insurrections and civil wars. Likewise, revolutionaries call in all struggles for the formation of action committees of the workers, youth and popular masses in the workplaces, neighborhoods, villages, schools and universities. Furthermore, revolutionaries call for the formation of self-defense units in order to defend strikes and demonstrations as well as migrants or refugees against the police and fascists. In situations of acute class struggles, such bodies can be expanded so that action committees can become councils (like the soviets in Russia in 1917) backing armed workers’ and popular militias.
We reject any form of sectarianism towards the mass organizations of the working class. The application of the united front tactic towards trade unions and other workers’ and popular mass organizations is a fundamental element in achieving the strategic goal of breaking the working class away from the treacherous labor bureaucracy. Such tactics must be focused on practical activities and have to include mobilizing and organizing ordinary members, placing demands on leaders, warning the workers against having any illusions in the bureaucratic leadership as well as independent agitation and propaganda. Hence, the united front tactic must go hand in hand with sharp denunciations of the bureaucracy and the refusal of any strategic bloc with any “left” faction of the bureaucracy.
Working within the unions and other mass organizations in order to revolutionize them remains crucial. Communists should organize in factions and help build a broad rank-and-file movement to fight against the privileged bureaucracy and to ultimately oust it. However, revolutionaries are also aware that the unions usually organize only a small minority of the working class. Likewise, the unions are often dominated by the labor aristocracy or by the better-off sectors of the proletariat. Hence, it is crucial to use all opportunities to build factory committees and similar bodies in struggles in order to broaden the base of organized workers. Furthermore, revolutionaries must strive to organize the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed layers in the unions and to bring representatives of these layers into leadership positions so that the dominance of the aristocratic layer can be eliminated.
Revolutionaries must combine their participation in the class struggle with a program for working class power. This means the total renunciation of the European left parties, Stalinists and various centrists (e.g., CWI, IMT) pipedream of a peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism. It means fighting for the building of action councils of the workers, peasant and poor, of armed popular militias, for the expropriation of the capitalist class and for a workers’ government allied with the peasants and urban poor and based on local councils and militias. It means preparing the working class for the armed insurrection, the civil war and the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only means by which the proletariat can advance in the struggle for liberation.
An International Revolutionary Organization as the Essential Tool to Fight for the Program
These are some of the most important questions of the world class struggle today. Programmatic clarity on what to do and what not to do, are basic for a sustainable revolutionary unity. However, it is not sufficient to agree on a program. One must know how to fight for the program. In short, what is necessary is congruence on the kind of combat organization which is the tool to implement the program in reality via the class struggle.
Revolutionaries reject all concepts which praise so-called “broad, pluralist, left parties” as the way forward. Surely, we are for greatest organizational and tactical flexibility towards political formations which represent layers of radicalizing workers and oppressed (including tactics like entering such parties as a revolutionary faction or calling for new Workers’ Parties). But we categorically reject the concept of “pluralist, left parties” as a way forward because it usually means unity of bureaucrats and workers, of supporters and opponents of imperialist wars, of supporters of the peaceful, parliamentarian road as well as of the revolutionary road. In short, such “Left Unity” is one that will only paralyze revolutionary activity, hence it is a useless unity. What the working class needs is a revolutionary combat party and this has to be openly proclaimed.
The struggle for an authentic revolutionary world party in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky is the most important challenge