world is possible – socialism
misguided people say that it is the very advances of science that are
the problem. They believe we would be happier squatting in mud huts
and working from dawn to dusk in backbreaking labour the fields. This
is foolishness. The way to attain true freedom to develop the
potential of men and women to the full lies precisely in the fullest
development of industry, agriculture, science and technology. The
problem is that these powerful weapons for human progress are in the
hands of individuals who subordinate them to the profit motive,
distorting their purpose, limiting their application and holding back
their development. It is clear that science would long ago have
discovered a cure for cancer or found cheap and clean alternatives to
fossil fuels if it had not been chained to the chariot of profit.
and technology can only realize their tremendous potential when they
are freed from the suffocating embrace of market economics and placed
at the service of humanity in a democratic and rational system of
production, based on need not profit. This would enable us to reduce
the hours of work to a minimum, thus freeing men and women from the
slavery of long hours of toil, and enabling them to develop whatever
physical, intellectual or spiritual potential they possess. This is
humanity’s leap “from the kingdom of necessity to the
kingdom of freedom.”
the fall of the Soviet Union, the defenders of the old order were
jubilant. They spoke of the end of socialism, and even the end of
history. They promised us a new era of peace, prosperity and
democracy, thanks to the miracles of the free market economy. Now,
only fifteen years later, these dreams are reduced to a heap of
smoking rubble. Not one stone upon another remains of these
illusions. Serious problems require serious
measures. It is not possible to cure cancer with an aspirin! What is
needed is a real change in society. The fundamental problem
is the system itself. The economic pundits who argued that Marx
was wrong and capitalist crises were things of the past (the “new
economic paradigm”) have themselves been proved wrong.
past boom had all the features of the economic cycle Marx described
long ago. The process of the concentration of capital has reached
staggering proportions. There was an orgy of takeovers and ever
increasing monopolization, which has reached unheard of proportions.
This did not lead to the development of the productive forces as in
the past. Factories were closed as if they were matchboxes and
thousands of people were thrown out of work. Now this process will be
speeded up, as the number of bankruptcies and closures increases by
is the meaning of all of this? We are witnessing the painful death
agonies of a social system that does not deserve to live, but which
refuses to die. That is not surprising. All history shows us that no
ruling class ever surrenders its power and privileges without a
fight. That is the real explanation of the wars, terrorism, violence
and death that are the main features of the epoch in which we live.
But we are also witnessing the birth pangs of a new society – a
new and just society, a world fit for men and women to live in. Out
of these bloody events, in one country after another, a new force is
being born – the revolutionary force of the workers, peasants,
Bush is drunk with power and imagines that this power is limitless.
Unfortunately, there are some on the Left who believe the same thing.
But they are wrong. A revolutionary wave is sweeping Latin America.
The Venezuelan Revolution was an earthquake that has caused
aftershocks throughout the continent: The movement of the masses in
Latin America is the final answer to all those who argued that
revolution was no longer possible. It is not only possible, it is
absolutely necessary, if the world is to be saved from impending
of people are beginning to react. The massive demonstrations against
the Iraq war brought millions onto the streets. That was an
indication of the beginnings of an awakening. But the movement lacked
a coherent programme to change society. The cynics and sceptics have
had their day. It is time to push them out of our way and carry the
fight forward. The new generation is willing to fight for its
emancipation. They are looking for a banner, an idea and a programme
that can inspire them and lead them to victory. That can only be the
struggle for socialism on a world scale. The choice before the
human race is socialism or barbarism.
the Socialist United States of Europe!
productive potential of Europe is tremendous. With a population of
497 millions and a per capita income of $32,300, it is a formidable
power, which potentially could challenge the might of the USA. But
this potential can never be realised under capitalism. All the
attempts to push forward with the unification of Europe have
foundered on the rock of conflicting national interests. The onset of
recession will serve to deepen these divisions and place a question
mark over the future of the EU itself.
formation of the European Union was a tacit admission of the fact
that it is impossible to solve the problems of the economy within the
narrow limits of the national market. But on a capitalist basis,
European unity can never be achieved. In a crisis, the contradictions
between the capitalists of the different national states come to the
fore. The present crisis has exposed the hidden fault lines and
revealed the hollowness of all the demagogy about European unity.
Despite M. Sarkozy’s assurances, relations between European
leaders are severely strained, not least between the leaders of
France and Germany, the two key countries of the EU.
German government’s unilateral declaration that the country’s
€1 trillion of private bank deposits would be “guaranteed”
caught other EU governments unawares and appeared to trample on the
pledge of European co-operation previously given at a Paris
mini-summit of the French, British, German and Italian leaders. The
German move threatened to draw savings from banks in other countries.
The other countries were furious. But what was the difference between
this and the declaration of the Irish government that it would
guarantee all the liabilities of its six main banks for two years, or
the British government’s frequent promise that it would take
“all possible measures” to protect savers or M. Sarkozy’s
pledge that French private savers would not lose “a single
move showed the hypocrisy of the European Commission, which is
challenging the Irish move, but said later that it saw nothing wrong
in Berlin’s “promise”. What is the difference
between Ireland and Germany? It is only that Ireland is small and
Germany is big, and moreover controls the purse strings of the EU.
Similar guarantees were issued by a succession of other EU
governments – including Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Portugal –
to prevent savers from fleeing to German (or Irish) banks.
reality, each national government is trying to put its interests
first. The mutual suspicions of EU governments come to the surface as
soon as they are confronted with a crisis. Each government must
struggle to deal with the panic spreading across the Atlantic through
European financial institutions. Washington, with one government and
one political system, found it difficult enough to cope with the
global credit crisis. The EU has a single currency and single market
but 27 governments and no overall system of banking supervision or
is impossible to unite economies that are pulling in different
directions and European governments are paying the price for creating
a single currency without the institutions or regulatory system to
manage a single economy. In the coming period protectionist
tendencies will inevitably come to the fore. The attempts of
individual governments to attract billions of euros in savings away
from other countries are an anticipation of the “beggar-my-neighbour”
policies that we can expect as the crisis deepens.
Eijffinger, of Tilburg University, a monetary adviser to the European
Parliament, said: “This is a wake-up call. First we had
economic integration, then we had monetary integration. But we never
developed the parallel political and regulatory integration that
would allow us to face a crisis like the one we are facing today.”
Such are the strains between the nation states that the very
existence of the euro might be called into question in the coming
period. It is not inconceivable that the EU may break up, or at least
emerge with its structures radically altered and the EU reduced to
little more than a loose customs union.
EU is really a capitalist club dominated by the banks and big
monopolies of the member states. The new member states of Eastern
Europe are used as a pool of cheap labour, with “European”
prices and “Eastern” wages. On the other hand, the EU is
an imperialist bloc that exploits the former colonies of European
countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean. There
is nothing progressive about it. The only way to achieve the true
potential of Europe is by establishing a Socialist Federation, which
would integrate the productive forces of Europe in a common plan.
This would be combined with the maximum autonomy for all the peoples
of Europe, including the Basques, the Catalans, the Scots, the Welsh
and all other nationalities and national and linguistic minorities.
It would lay the basis for a
peaceful and democratic settlement of the national problem in
countries such as Ireland and Cyprus. A socialist federation
would be formed on a strictly voluntary basis with complete equality
for all citizens.
- No to the Europe of the bureaucrats, banks and monopolies!
- For the expropriation of the banks and monopolies and the creation of
an integrated and democratic socialist plan of production.
- End all discrimination against immigrants, women and youth. Equal pay
for work of equal value!
- For the development of links between trade union activists on a
European and global scale. For a militant workers’ united front
against the big transnationals!
- For the Socialist United States of Europe!
Eastern Europe, Russia and China
The onset of recession in Western Europe is exacerbating
the problems of the so-called emerging economies of Eastern Europe,
where investors are dumping riskier assets in a flight to safer
destinations. The relatively weak economies of Eastern Europe will
pay a heavy price for their entanglement in the world capitalist
economy. Sharp declines in growth and increases in poverty are
anticipated in Russia, the Ukraine and Romania. Despite growth in
some areas of Eastern Europe, the growth in per capita GDP for the
region as a whole is expected to be zero.
Hungary is preparing for a “recession reality”
and expects gross domestic product will shrink next year, according
to Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. The government was expecting GDP
growth of 3 percent in 2009 when it first drew up next year’s
budget. Now it faces deep cuts and rising unemployment. The financial
crisis comes only two years after Gyurcsany pushed through tax
increases and cuts in public sector jobs and household energy price
subsidies to narrow the widest budget deficit in the European Union.
The Hungarian government was compelled to seek an
emergency loan facility of 5 billion euros from the European Central
Bank. Squeezed by the embrace of the international bankers, Hungary
will be forced to cut public spending in order to cut the budget
deficit. As always, it will be the workers and farmers who pay the
price. The government is proposing freezing salaries and canceling
bonuses for public workers and reducing pensions to cut the budget
deficit to 2.6 percent of gross domestic product And Poland and the
other countries of Eastern Europe are only one step behind Hungary.
peoples of Eastern Europe joined the EU with the idea that they would
enjoy the kind of living standards they saw in Germany and France.
But these illusions were soon exposed as false. A small minority of
people got rich by plundering the people’s property through
crooked privatisation deals. But the majority of Poles, Czechs,
Slovaks and Hungarians derived no benefit from the return to
capitalism. During the boom they were exploited as cheap labour in
richer countries. Now Eastern Europe is staring bankruptcy in the
face. And economic collapse in Eastern Europe will drag down the
economies of Austria and other exposed EU states.
in Europe have the consequences of capitalist restoration been so
serious as in the Balkans. The break-up of Yugoslavia was a criminal
act, which has led to a series of fratricidal wars, terrorism, mass
murder and genocide. This monstrous situation has had catastrophic
consequences for millions of people who previously enjoyed a good
standard of life, peace and full employment. Now many people look
back to the old Yugoslavia with longing. Capitalism has brought them
nothing but war, misery and suffering.
situation facing Russia is not much better. The contradiction here is
even more glaring than in Eastern Europe. The restoration of
capitalism has not benefited the overwhelming majority of citizens of
the former Soviet Union. It has created an obscenely rich oligarchy,
which is closely linked to criminal elements. But this is a tiny
minority. For millions of Russians, the past two decades have meant
only misery, hunger, suffering and humiliation. It has meant the
collapse of the health and education services, which were free for
all citizens in Soviet times, as well as a collapse of culture,
general impoverishment and inequality.
a while, people thought that the worst was over and that the economy
was recovering from the deep slump that followed the collapse of the
USSR. But now Russia faces the worst financial crisis since the
collapse of 1998. The falling price of oil, reflecting the worldwide
slump in demand, has pushed the economy into crisis. The previous
mood of optimism in Moscow has evaporated after steep falls on the
stock exchange, which had to be closed because of the extreme
turbulence. Like the fairy tale about the witch Baba Yaga, Russian
capitalism is a hut built upon chicken’s legs. The crisis
reveals itself in reduced construction volume, redundancies and
restrictions on opening new credit lines for private companies.
crisis has forced the government to follow the same path as
Washington and London, spending billions of dollars of public money
to bail out private companies. More than $200 billion have been
allocated in loans, tax cuts and other measures. But ordinary Russian
citizens will be asking why public money should be used to bail out
the oligarchs who have got rich by looting the state in the past
period. If private enterprise and the market was supposed to be
superior to the nationalized planned economy, why does the private
sector now need to be propped up by the state?
situation is even worse in other former Soviet Republics, such as the
Ukraine, where poverty is accompanied by political instability,
corruption and chaos. For the peoples of the Caucasus and Central
Asia it has been an unmitigated calamity. Georgia, Armenia and
Azerbaijan are in a state of constant war, and the masses have to
support the heavy burden of military spending. Terrorism is spreading
from occupied Chechnya to other Republics. The war in Afghanistan
threatens to destabilise not just Pakistan but all Central Asia.
is an old proverb: “Life teaches”. Many people in Russia,
the Ukraine and Eastern Europe are saying: we had problems before,
but at least we had full employment, a home and free health and
education. Now these countries are facing ruin and mass unemployment.
The peoples of the Caucasus long for the return of peace and
stability. Nobody wants a return to bureaucracy and totalitarian
dictatorship. But a genuinely socialist regime, like the regime of
workers’ democracy established by Lenin and Trotsky after the
October Revolution, has nothing in common with the grotesque
Stalinist caricature that emerged after Lenin’s death.
was the result of the isolation of the Revolution in conditions of
extreme backwardness. But now, on the basis of the advanced industry,
science and technology built up over the last 90 years, the objective
conditions have been created for a rapid advance towards socialism.
What is required is the establishment of a voluntary Socialist
Federation in which the economy would be in the hands of the state,
and the state would be under the democratic control of the workers
and peasants. But the prior condition for this is the expropriation
of the oligarchs, bankers and capitalists.
world slowdown is having a major impact on the Chinese economy.
Chinese economic growth is heavily dependent on exports and at the
height of the recent boom the annual rate of growth of exports
reached the figure of 38 percent (in the third quarter of 2003). Now
the latest quarterly figure has dropped to around 2 percent and with
it we have seen also a sharp slowdown in manufacturing orders in the
last few months. Serious bourgeois commentators are now discussing
whether there will be a “gradual slowdown” or an “abrupt
drop” in Chinese production.
Green, an expert on the Chinese economy at Standard Chartered, has
forecast that exports could even fall to “zero or even negative
growth” by next year. How tightly linked to the world economy
China has become is shown by a recent estimate of JP Morgan Chase
that sees Chinese exports falling by 5.7 percent for every one
percent fall in global economic growth. This is leading to massive
factory closures across China with millions of workers facing
2007 growth stood at 12 percent and in 2008 it has already slowed to
9 percent and could fall further. In the area around Hong Kong more
than two million workers could lose their jobs in the next few
months. With this comes a bursting of the housing bubble as house
prices have come down sharply, leaving many Chinese families with
negative equity, i.e. a mortgage that is worth more than the homes
they have bought. This is having an impact on the domestic market.
The response of the Chinese government has been to come up with an
economic package to stimulate growth.
need to keep growth above eight percent to maintain some degree of
social stability. It is true that China has accumulated huge
reserves. But these will not compensate for the loss of foreign
markets as the world economy slides further into recession.
As a result labour unrest is spreading and there has already
been a wave of protests demanding unpaid wages, with roadblocks and
pickets of factories. As in Russia and Eastern Europe, so in China,
there will be a violent backlash against capitalism. The ideas of
Marxism will gain ground, preparing the way for a new and
irresistible movement towards socialism.
- An end to privatisation and the abandonment of market economics
- Down with the oligarchs and the new rich! For the renationalization
of privatised companies without compensation.
- For a workers’ democracy!
- Down with bureaucracy and corruption! The trade unions must defend
- The Communist Parties must stand for Communist policies! For a return
to the programme of Marx and Lenin!
- For the reintroduction of the state monopoly of foreign trade!
crisis of the “Third World”
present crisis will undoubtedly hit the poor countries of Africa, the
Middle East, Asia and Latin America hardest. Even in the boom the
overwhelming majority derived little or no benefit. There has been an
extreme polarization between rich and poor in all countries. Two
percent of the population of the globe now has more than half the
world’s wealth. 1.2 billion men, women and children live in
conditions of absolute poverty. Eight million die of poverty every
year. This was the best that capitalism had to offer. What will
addition to the collapse of exports, which will hit all commodities
(except gold and silver), including oil, they face the rising cost of
food, which is largely a result of speculation. A recent report of
the Banco Interamericano warned that the rising cost of food will
push 26 million people in Latin America into absolute poverty. The
President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick has warned that the
world’s poorest face the “triple jeopardy” of food,
fuel and finance: “The poorest cannot be asked to pay the
highest price. We estimate that 44 million additional people will
suffer from malnutrition this year as a result of high food prices.
We cannot let a financial crisis become a human crisis.” These
are fine words, but as the old English proverb goes, fine words
butter no parsnips.
poverty and hunger will increase as a result of the global financial
crisis and the free market “structural adjustment”
measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund. This is the
inescapable conclusion of the latest report on global poverty issued
by the World Bank. The Bank found that the
number of people forced to live on less than $1 a day was increasing
and could reach 1.5 billion by the end of this year. About 200
million people have fallen into abject poverty since the last
estimate in 1993. In the Middle East and North Africa, per capita GDP
growth was expected to be negative. Summing up the situation, World
Bank Director of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, Michael
Walton said: “The global picture that emerges at the end of the
1990s is one of stalled progress as a result of the East Asian
crisis, rising numbers of poor people in India, continued rises in
Sub-Saharan Africa, and a sharp worsening in Europe and Central
Indonesia alone, the proportion of people forced to live on less than
$1 per day increased from 11 percent in 1997 to 19.9 percent in 1998,
implying an increase of 20 million in the ranks of the “newly
poor” – equivalent to a medium-sized nation such as
Australia. In South Korea, the incidence of urban poverty went from
8.6 percent in 1997 to 19.2 percent in 2007. The number of people
below the $1 per day level in India had increased to 340 million,
from an estimated 300 million in the late 1980s. Recent data on the
stagnation in rural wages suggested a further increase in poverty
rates in that country. And this was with a booming economy with rates
of growth near 10 percent on a yearly basis. Official figures
estimate that the economic growth is already coming to a halt. In
August 2008 industrial growth was 1.3 percent on a yearly basis, a
miserable output compared to the previous year’s growth of over
IMF demands that poor countries open their markets for the
penetration of international capital. It demands cuts in government
spending, the elimination of subsidies on food and other items of
popular consumption and the privatisation of government-owned
enterprises. The stated objective is fostering “sustainable
economic growth.” In reality it means the destruction of their
national industries and agriculture and a sharp increase in
unemployment and poverty.
recent study found there was a net transfer of payments of more than
$1 billion from African governments to the IMF in 1997 and 1998.
However, despite these increased repayments, total African debt
continued to increase, rising by 3 per cent. While African countries
urgently need to increase spending on health care, education, and
sanitation, IMF structural adjustment measures have forced them to
cut such spending with per capita spending on education actually
declining between 1986 and 1996.
catastrophe of the “Third World” is man-made. There is
nothing automatic about it. In fact, there is no need for anybody to
starve in the first decade of the 21st century. The money
that has been given to the banks could have solved the problem of
world hunger, saving millions of lives. In June 2008 the World Food
Organization asked for $30 billion to stimulate agriculture and
prevent future food shortages. It only received seven and a half
billion, payable in four years, which works out at about $1.8 billion
a year. This is the equivalent of two dollars a day for every
is customary in the West to pose the “solution” of the
problems of these countries in terms of aid. The “rich”
countries are urged to give more money to the “poor”
countries. But in the first place, the niggardly amounts of so-called
aid represent only a miniscule part of the wealth that is being
plundered from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Secondly, this aid is frequently linked to the trading, military or
diplomatic interests of the donor countries, and therefore represents
a means of increasing the subordination of the former colonial
nations to their former masters.
any case, it is unacceptable that countries with vast resources are
reduced to seeking charity like beggars scrambling for crumbs from
the rich man’s table. The prior condition is to break the
domination of imperialism and overthrow the rule of the corrupt local
rulers who are no more than the local office boys of imperialism and
the big transnational companies. Neither aid nor charity but only a
fundamental change in society is the answer to global poverty.
In many countries the working class, after years of
despondency and exhaustion, is taking the road of struggle. The
struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli oppression
continues. But it is the powerful working class in countries like
South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt that holds the key to the future. In
Egypt we have witnessed a wave of strikes and factory occupations
against privatisation and in defence of jobs, including the
victorious strike with factory occupation of more than 20,000 workers
at the Mahalla textile complex. The Iranian workers are also on the
move. There has been a major strike wave, involving many sections of
the working class: bus workers, shipyards, textiles railways, the
Haft-Tapeh sugar works, oil and other sections. These strikes may
begin with economic demands, but given the nature of the regime they
will inevitably take on an increasingly political and revolutionary
In Nigeria, the workers have staged a series of general
strikes (8 in the last 8 years!), paralysing the country and posing
the question of power, only to be let down by the trade union leaders
once and again. In South Africa too, the powerful workers’
movement has organised general strike after general strike, more
recently in June 2007 and August 2008. We have seen impressive
movements of the workers in Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon and also in
Israel, that bastion of reaction in the Middle East. There have also
been mass movements of the workers and peasants in Pakistan, India,
Bangladesh and Nepal, where they led to the overthrow of the
Latin America is in the throes of a revolutionary
movement from Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande with Venezuela in
the vanguard. The appeals of Hugo Chávez for socialism have
not fallen on deaf ears. The idea of socialism is back on the agenda.
In Bolivia and Ecuador the movement of the masses against capitalism
and imperialism is advancing despite the ferocious resistance of the
oligarchies backed by Washington. It is necessary to place on the
agenda the fight for working class policies, for proletarian
international solidarity and the struggle for socialism as the only
lasting solution for the problems of the masses
- An immediate cancellation of all Third World debts.
- Down with landlordism and capitalism!
- For the expropriation of the property of the big landowners and an
agrarian reform. Wherever possible, large estates should be run on
collective lines, using modern methods of agriculture to boost
- Freedom from imperialist domination! Nationalise the property of the
- For a crash programme to abolish illiteracy and create a skilled and
- For a free and comprehensive health service for all.
- Down with the oppression of women! Full legal, social and economic
equality for women!
- Down with corruption and oppression! For full democratic rights and
the overthrow of the local office boys of imperialism.
most striking aspect of the present situation is the chaos and
turbulence that has gripped the entire planet. There is instability
at all levels: economic, social, political, diplomatic and military.
Everywhere there is war or the threat of war: the invasion of
Afghanistan was followed by the even bloodier and more criminal
occupation of Iraq. There have been wars everywhere: in the Balkans,
in Lebanon and Gaza, the war in Darfur, in Somalia, in Uganda. In the
Congo some 5,000,000 have been slaughtered in the past few years and
the UN and the so-called international community did not lift a
Conscious of its enormous power, Washington replaces
“normal” diplomacy with the most shameless bullying. Its
message is brutally clear: “do as we say or we will bomb you
and invade you”. The former President of Pakistan, General
Pervez Musharraf, revealed that soon after the terror attacks of 11
September 2001 the United States threatened to bomb his country “back
into the Stone Age” if he did not offer its co-operation in
fighting terrorism and the Taliban. Now Musharraf has gone and the US
air force is actually bombing Pakistan territory.
US imperialism invaded Iraq under the false pretext that
it possessed weapons of mass destruction. They argued that Saddam
Hussein was a brutal dictator who murdered and tortured his own
people. Now the UN is forced to admit that in occupied Iraq mass
murder and torture are endemic. According to a recent opinion poll,
70 percent of Iraqis think life is worse than under Saddam.
The “war on terrorism” has led to more
terrorism on a world scale than ever before. Everywhere they set
foot, the US imperialists cause the most terrible destruction and
suffering. The appalling scenes of death and destruction in Iraq and
Afghanistan recall the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: “And
when they have created a wilderness they call it Peace”. But
compared to the might of US imperialism, the power of the Roman
Empire was child’s play. Not content with the rape of Iraq,
Washington threatens Syria and Iran. It has brought about the
destabilization of Central Asia. It constantly attempts to overthrow
the democratically elected government of Venezuela and assassinate
President Chavez. It is plotting to reduce Cuba once more to the
status of a semi-colony and organizes terrorist acts against it.
people turn away from these barbarities in disgust. It seems that the
world has suddenly gone mad. However, such a response is useless and
counterproductive. The present situation that confronts the human
race cannot be explained as an expression of madness or the inherent
wickedness of men and women. The great philosopher Spinoza once said:
“neither weep nor laugh, but understand!” That is very
sound advice, for if we are not able to understand the world we live
in, we will never be able to change it. History is not meaningless.
It can be explained and Marxism provides a scientific explanation.
is pointless to approach war from a sentimental point of view.
Clausewitz pointed out long ago that war is the
continuation of politics by other means. This bloody mess
reflects something. It is a reflection of
the insoluble contradictions that face imperialism on a world scale.
They are the convulsions of a socio-economic system that finds itself
in an impasse. We have seen similar situations before in world
history, as in the long decline of the Roman Empire or the period of
the waning of feudalism. The present global instability is only a
reflection of the fact that the capitalist system has exhausted its
historical potential and is no longer able to develop the productive
forces as it did in the past.
capitalism, besieged with insoluble contradictions on all sides,
finds its counterpart in the most brutal imperialism the world has
ever seen. The galloping arms race is consuming an ever-growing
portion of the wealth created by the working class. The USA, which is
now the world’s only superpower, every year spends
approximately 600 billion dollars on arms. It accounts for almost 40
percent of total world military expenditure. By contrast, Britain,
France and Germany represent about five percent each, while Russia,
incredibly, only accounts for about six percent. This situation
represents a threat to the future of humanity.
enormous sums spent on arms would, on their own, be enough to solve
the problem of world poverty. According to one estimate the total
cost of the war in Iraq alone will have cost the USA $3 trillion.
Everyone knows that this is madness. But disarmament can only be
achieved through a fundamental change in society. The liquidation of
imperialism can only be achieved by liquidating capitalism and the
rule of the banks and monopolies, establishing a rational world
order, based on the requirements of people, not the voracious
struggle for markets, raw materials and spheres of influence, which
is the real cause of war.
- Opposition to the reactionary wars waged by imperialism.
- Immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
- A drastic cut in wasteful arms expenditure and a massive increase in
- Full civil rights for soldiers, including the right to join trade
unions and the right to strike.
- Defend Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia against the aggressive plans of
- Against racism! Defend the rights of all oppressed and exploited
people! For the unity of all workers, irrespective of colour, race,
nationality or religion.
- For proletarian internationalism! Workers of the world unite!
a socialist world!
market cannot be planned or regulated. It does not respond to the
measures taken by national governments. The President of the World
Bank came close to admitting this when he said: “The G7 is not
working. We need a better group for a better time”. But better
times are not in sight. The IMF cannot possibly underwrite the whole
world. And the crisis, which is now staring us in the face, is
worldwide. No country can escape. The crisis is global and it demands
a global solution. This can only be supplied by socialism.
the Middle Ages production was limited to the local market. Even to
move goods from one town to another involved paying tolls, taxes and
other duties. Overthrowing these feudal restrictions and establishing
the national market and the nation state was the prior condition for
the development of modern capitalism. In the 21st century,
however, the nation states and the national market are too narrow to
contain the fabulous development of industry, agriculture, science
and technology. Out of a collection of national economies sprang the
world market. Karl Marx already foresaw this in a brilliant
prediction in The Communist Manifesto over 150 years ago. The
crushing domination of the world market is now the most important
feature of the modern epoch.
its early days capitalism played a progressive role in sweeping away
the old feudal barriers and restrictions and creating the national
market. Later, the expansion of capitalism created a world market,
and the domination of the world market is the most important feature
of the modern epoch. The advent of globalisation is an expression of
the fact that the growth of the productive forces has outstripped the
narrow limits of the nation state. However, globalisation does
not abolish the contradictions of capitalism. It only reproduces them
on a far vaster scale. For a time, capitalism succeeded in overcoming
its contradictions by increasing world trade (globalisation). For the
first time in history, the entire world has been drawn into the world
market. The capitalists found new markets and avenues of investment
in China and other countries. But this has now reached its limits.
present crisis is, in the last analysis, an expression of the revolt
of the productive forces against the straitjackets of private
property and the nation state. The present crisis is global in
character. Globalisation reveals itself as a global crisis of
capitalism. It is impossible to solve it on a national
basis. All the experts agree that the problems facing the planet
cannot be solved on a national basis. The problem of world hunger has
been greatly exacerbated by the production of eco-fuels in the USA.
This is in the interests of the big agro-businesses, but no one else.
Only a global planned economy can put a stop to this madness.
its insatiable greed for profit, the capitalist system placed the
whole planet in danger. An economic system that ravages the planet in
search of loot, that destroys the environment, tears down the rain
forests, poisons the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food
we eat is not fit to survive. The roads in our great cities are
clogged with private vehicles. Traffic congestion
that meant people spent 7 billion hours and wasted 5 billion gallons
of fuel in traffic jams in 2003 alone. The lack of planning is
leading to the collapse of the transportation infrastructure and the
deterioration of the environment caused by the emission of greenhouse
gases and air pollution, 60-70 percent of which is caused by
leave aside the tremendous human cost of this lunacy: the accidents,
the people killed and maimed on the roads, the unbearable stress, the
inhuman conditions, the noise and the chaos. The loss of productivity
is colossal. Yet all this could be solved easily by an
integrated system of good quality free or nearly free public
transport. Air, road, rail and river transport should be publicly
owned and rationally integrated to serve human needs.
continuation of capitalism is not only a threat to jobs and living
standards. It is a threat to the future of the planet and life on
Is it utopian?
increased participation in world markets, the bankers and capitalists
achieved fabulous super-profits in the last period. But now this
process has reached its limits. All the factors that served to push
the world economy upwards in the last period are now combining to
push it downwards. Demand, which was artificially expanded by low
rates of interest in the last period, has now sharply contracted. The
severity of the “correction” reflects the exaggerated
confidence and “irrational exuberance” of the previous
as in the period of feudal decline the old barriers, toll roads,
local taxes and currencies became intolerable obstacles for the
development of the productive forces, so the present nation states
with their national frontiers, passports, import controls,
immigration restrictions and protective tariffs have become barriers
that impede the free movement of goods and people. The free
development of the productive forces – the only real guarantee
for the development of human civilization and culture – demands
the abolition of all frontiers and the establishment of a worldwide
a development will only be possible under socialism. The prior
condition is the abolition of private property of the key points of
the economy: the common ownership of the land, banks and major
industries. A common plan of production is the only way to mobilize
the colossal potential of industry, agriculture, science and
technique. This would mean an economic system based on production for
the needs of the many, not the profits of the few.
socialist Europe, a socialist federation of Latin America, or of the
Middle East, would open up tremendous new vistas for human
development. The ultimate goal is Socialist World Federation, in
which the resources of the entire planet would be harnessed for the
benefit of all humankind. Wars, unemployment, hunger and privation
would become only bad memories of the past, like some half-forgotten
will say this is utopian, which is to say, something that cannot be
realised. But if we had explained to a medieval peasant the
perspective of a world economy with computers and space travel, he
would have reacted in exactly the same way. And when one thinks of
it, is it really so difficult? The potential of the productive forces
is such that all the problems that torment the human race –
poverty, homelessness, hunger, disease and illiteracy – could
easily be solved. The resources are present. What is needed is a
rational economic system that can put them to work.
objective conditions for socialism are already in existence. Is this
really utopian? Only the most narrow-minded sceptics, without
knowledge of history or vision of the future, would say so. The
question that must be asked is this: in the first decade of the 21st
century, is it acceptable that the lives, jobs and homes of everyone
in the world should be determined in the same manner as a gambler’s
throw in a casino? Do we really believe that humanity can devise no
better system than the blind play of market forces?
defenders of the so-called free market can produce no rational
argument that could justify such a preposterous supposition. Instead
of logical argument they merely assert that this is a natural and
inevitable state of affairs, and anyway there is no alternative. This
is not a coherent argument but only a blind prejudice. They hope that
by constantly repeating the same mantra, eventually people will
believe it. But life itself has exposed the lie that “the free
market economy works.” Our own experience and the evidence of
our eyes tell us that it does not work, that it is a wasteful,
chaotic, barbarous and irrational system that blasts the lives of
millions for the profit of a few.
capitalist system stands condemned because it is not even capable of
feeding the population of the world. Its further continuation
threatens the future of civilization and culture, and even threatens
the continuation of life itself. The capitalist system must die in
order that the human race may live. In the future socialist society,
free men and women will look back on our present world with the same
sense of disbelief as we do when we contemplate the world of the
cannibals. And to the cannibals a world in which men and women did
not eat each other also seemed utopian.
crisis of leadership
1938 Leon Trotsky wrote: “All talk to the effect that
historical conditions have not yet ripened for socialism is the
product of ignorance or conscious deception. The objective
prerequisites for the proletarian revolution have not only ‘ripened’;
they have begun to get somewhat rotten. Without a socialist
revolution, in the next historical period at that, a catastrophe
threatens the whole culture of mankind. The turn is now to the
proletariat, i.e., chiefly to its revolutionary vanguard. The
historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the
working class long ago established parties to defend its interests
and change society. Some are called Socialist, others Labour,
Communist or Left. But none of them defend a communist or socialist
policy. The long period of capitalist upswing after the Second World
War set the final stamp on the bureaucratic and reformist
degeneration of the mass organizations of the proletariat. The
leaders of the trade unions as well as the socialist and communist
parties have come under the pressure of the bourgeoisie and most
of them have long ago abandoned all pretence of standing for a
change in society.
leaders of the traditional workers parties, the Social Democrats and
the Labour Party are completely enmeshed with the capitalists and
their state. Against their wishes, they were compelled to nationalize
the banks, but they have done so in a way that amounts to a huge
subsidy to the bankers and does not benefit the population at all. We
demand the nationalization of the entire banking and financial
sector, with minimum compensation on the basis of proven need only.
leaders of the former Communist Parties in Russia, Eastern Europe and
many other countries have completely abandoned the revolutionary
programme of Marx and Lenin. We are faced with the
glaring contradiction that precisely at a moment when capitalism is
in crisis everywhere, and when millions of men and women are looking
for a fundamental change in society, the leaders of the mass
organizations cling every more tenaciously to the existing order.
As Trotsky pointed out long ago: the world
political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a
historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat.
is impermissible for leaders who speak in the name of socialism and
the working class, or even “democracy”, to preside over
huge bailouts to private banks, which signifies a big increase in the
public debt that will be paid for by years of cuts and austerity.
This is done in the name of “the general interest”, but
is in reality a measure in the interest of the rich and against the
interest of the majority. But this situation cannot last.
There is no alternative for the working class outside the Labour and
trade union movement. Under conditions of capitalist crisis the mass
organizations will be shaken from top to bottom. Beginning with the
trade unions, the right wing leaders will come under pressure from
the rank and file. They will either bend to the pressure and begin to
reflect the pressure from below, or else they will be pushed out and
replaced with people who are more in touch with the views and
aspirations of the workers. Our task is to carry the ideas of Marxism
into the Labour Movement and win the working class to the ideas of
scientific socialism. Over 150 years ago, Marx and Engels proclaimed
in the Communist Manifesto:
“In what relation do the Communists stand to the
proletarians as a whole?
“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 sectarian principles of
their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.
“The Communists are distinguished from the other
working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of
the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring
to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat,
independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of
development which the struggle of the working class against the
bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent
the interests of the movement as a whole.
“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand,
practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the
working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes
forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over
the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly
understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate
general results of the proletarian movement.”
Marxists understand the role of the mass organizations. We do not
confuse the leadership with the mass of workers who stand behind
them. An abysm separates the opportunists and careerists in the
leadership from the class that votes for them. The developing crisis
will expose this abysm and widen it to breaking point. However, the
working class clings to the mass organizations, despite the policies
of the leaders, because there is no alternative. The working class
does not understand small organizations. All the attempts of the
sects to create “mass revolutionary parties” outside the
mass organizations have failed miserably and are destined to fail in
will fight against the bankrupt policies and confront the old
leadership. We demand that they break with the bankers and
capitalists and carry out policies in the interest of the workers and
the middle class. In 1917 Lenin and the Bolsheviks told the Menshevik
and SR leaders: “Break with the bourgeoisie, take the power!”
But the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries obstinately refused to
take power. They clung to the bourgeoisie and thus prepared the
victory of the Bolsheviks. In the same way, we
call upon those parties and organizations that base themselves
on the workers and speak in their name, to break politically from the
bourgeoisie and fight for a socialist government with a socialist
will give critical support to the mass worker’s parties against
the parties of the bankers and capitalists. But we demand that they
carry out policies in the interests of the working class. There is no
way that the fall will be detained by palliative measures taken by
governments and central bankers. Partial measures will not provide a
way out. The problem is that the leaderships of the mass workers’
organizations in all countries have no perspective of a fundamental
change in society. But that is precisely what is necessary.
being determines consciousness. The working class in general learns
from experience, and the experience of capitalist crisis means that
it is learning fast. We will help the workers to draw the necessary
conclusions, not by shrill denunciations but by patient explanation
and systematic work in the mass organizations. People are asking
questions and looking for answers. The task of the Marxists is only
to make conscious the unconscious or semi-conscious desire of the
working class to change society.
to the mass organizations of the working class
for the transformation of the unions!
for a Marxist programme!
us build the IMT!
is not enough to lament the situation the world finds itself in. It
is necessary to act! Those who say: “I am not interested in
politics” should have been born at another time. Today, it is
not possible to escape from politics. Just try it! You may run to
your home, lock the door, and hide under the bed. But politics will
come to your house and knock on the door. Politics affects every
aspect of our lives. The problem is that many people identify
politics with the existing political parties and their leaders. They
take one look at the scenes in the parliament, the careerism, the
empty speeches, the broken promises and are alienated.
anarchists draw the conclusion that we do not need a party. This is a
mistake. If my house is falling down, I do not conclude that I must
sleep in the street but that I must begin urgently to repair the
house. If I am dissatisfied with the present leadership of the trade
unions and the worker’s parties, I must fight for an
alternative leadership, with a programme and a policy that is
adequate to my needs.
International Marxist Tendency is fighting for socialism in forty
countries in five continents. We stand firmly on the foundations of
Marxism. We defend the basic ideas, principles, policies and
traditions worked out by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. At present
our voice is still weak. For a long time the Marxists were compelled
to swim against the stream. The International Marxist Tendency has
proved its ability to stand firm in adverse conditions. But now we
are swimming with the tide of history. All our perspectives have been
confirmed by the march of events. This gives us an unshakable
confidence in the ideas and methods of Marxism, the working class and
the socialist future of humankind.
with the most advanced workers and youth, our voice will reach the
mass of the workers in every factory, trade union branch, shop
stewards committee, every school and college, every worker’s
district. To carry out this work we need your help. We need people to
write articles, sell papers, raise money, and carry on work in the
trade union and Labour movement. In the struggle for socialism, no
contribution is too small and everybody can play a part. We want you
to play your part too. Do not think: “I can make no
difference”. Together, once we are organized, we can make a
working class holds in its hands a colossal power. Without the
permission of the workers, not a light bulb shines, not a wheel
turns, not a telephone rings. The problem is that the workers do not
realise they have this power. Our task is to make them aware of it.
We will fight for every reform, every advance no matter how small,
because only through the struggle for advance under capitalism will
the workers acquire the necessary confidence in their strength to
the mood of the masses is changing. In Latin America there is a
revolutionary ferment, which will intensify and spread to other
continents. In Britain, the USA and other industrialized nations many
people who previously did not question the existing social order are
now asking questions. Ideas that previously were listened to by small
numbers will find an echo among a far broader public. The ground is
being prepared for an unprecedented upsurge of the class struggle on
a world scale.
the USSR collapsed, we were told that history had ended. On the
contrary, history has not yet begun. In the space of just 20 years
capitalism has shown itself to be utterly bankrupt. It is necessary
to fight for a socialist alternative! Our aim is to bring about a
fundamental change in society and fight for socialism nationally and
internationally. We are fighting for the most important cause: the
emancipation of the working class and the establishment of a new and
higher form of human society. That is the only really worthwhile
cause in the first decade of the 21st century.
30th October 2008.
|<< Part 2||Contents|
- No to the European Constitution! Yes to a Socialist Europe! by Jérôme Métellus (January 20, 2005)
- Hungary: the darker side of capitalist restoration by Julianna Grant (June 13, 2000)
- The death of Yeltsin: the end of an epoch and the birth of a new one by Misha Steklov (April 24, 2007)
- "China’s long march to Capitalism" part one, two and three (October 2, 2006)
- Venezuela: New clashes between revolution and counter-revolution are being prepared by Patrick Larsen (October 30, 2008)
- US elections: Welcome to the “School of the Democrats” by John Peterson (5 November, 2008)
- Iraq: Five years after by Alan Woods (March 20, 2008)
- Marxism and the Struggle Against Imperialism by Ted Grant and Alan Woods (June 25,1998)
- "Seven years after 9/11: The invasion of Georgia – A turning point in world relations" part one and two by Alan Woods (September 11-12, 2008)
- Lenin and Trotsky – What they really stood for by Alan Woods and Ted Grant.