Leon Trotsky, the great Russian Revolutionary, wrote these words during the capitalist crisis of the Great Depression and on the eve of World War Two. Eighty years later the bourgeoisie, again in a state of crisis, is plunging the world towards disaster.
The threat of a nuclear World War is growing as the United States and its allies move against Russia and China. Governments continue to make the working class pay for the Global Financial Crisis with relentless policies of austerity. The profit system is undermining the natural systems that supports life one earth. Capitalist governments seek solutions behind economic protectionism and bayonets on their borders.
To stave off growing working class resistance to these conditions, capitalist governments are building up surveillance and police state measures and are fascists are marching in the streets and inhabiting the halls of power.
There is a progressive path forward for humanity. The international working-class now numbers in the billions and is linked by modern communication technology, most notably the internet. It has the collective power to avoid disaster through consciously intervene to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a global socialist system.
We have revolutionary confidence that the growing signs of class struggle seen around the world are the start of this process. The working class however must assimilate the experiences of the 20th century and be armed with a revolutionary perspective based on the scientific socialism developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky in order to be victorious. Class Conscious wishes to play our small part in the development of this process.
Socialism or barbarism!
Workers of the World Unite!
Statement of Principles of Class-Conscious
Class-Conscious exists to promote the unity of the international working class in the struggle for socialist revolution.
1. The common interests of the international working class:
The international working class shares the common social interests of healthcare, education, infrastructure, housing, democratic rights, freedom of movement and a healthy environment. All forms of the poison of nationalism which divide the international working class must be absolutely rejected. There are no national programs or solutions that can progressively resolve any of the problems facing humanity.
2. The need to overturn the profit system
Although the wealth of the world is produced by the working class, under the profit system the benefits flow to a tiny minority, the capitalist class. In 2018, Oxfam found that just 26 individuals possess as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity.
This contradiction can only be overcome by the putting the the economy under the democratic control of the working class, so the wealth it produces can be used to meet the needs of all.
3. The need to abolish nation states
Production under capitalism is organised on a global scale but a contradiction exists as politically the world is divided into nation states. This leads to unending competition and warfare between the imperialist capitalist powers for resources and spheres of control. The first two world wars were efforts by the imperialist powers to carve up the globe and to achieve dominance. A third world war if it is allowed to happen will inevitably be nuclear and threatens the very survival of humanity.
The only way to overcome this contradiction is to abolish the nation state system and establish a cooperative global system socialist economic system. Trotsky explained in his Theory of Permanent Revolution:
The completion of the socialist revolution within national limits is unthinkable. One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state. From this follows, on the one hand, imperialist wars, on the other, the utopia of a bourgeois United States of Europe. The socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a newer and broader sense of the word: it attains completion only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet.”
4. The necessity of socialist international anti-war movement
It follows therefore that a real anti-war movement must seek to overturn the cause of war and militarism, the capitalist system itself. It must be independent and hostile to all political parties and organisations of the capitalist class and it must seek to unite workers internationally.
5. No Borders – workers have the right to move and live where they choose.
Under capitalism, the rich and their capital can move around the world where they choose. The working class deserves the same rights. We reject the entire framework of “border control” that is leading to deaths of thousands in the seas and deserts around the world amidst the greatest refugee crisis since World War 2. The attempt to blame migrants and asylum seekers for a lack of jobs, services and infrastructure is a crude attempt by the ruling class to divert attention from the fact that wealth is being hoarded by corporations and the rich. There are more than enough resources for all and people have the right to live and work where they choice free from government interference. During recent protests at the U.S. / Mexico border, migrants chanted “We are international workers!” as they came under tear gas fire. We call on all workers to understand that migrants are their allies in the class struggle.
6. Why are we Trotskyist – the rejection of Stalinism
We are proud to call ourselves Trotskyist because of the crucial role that Leon Trotsky played not just in the Russian Revolution but in fighting in opposition to the development of Stalinism within the former Soviet Union. This was a battle that cost Trotsky and hundreds of thousands of others their lives. Trotsky’s insights into why the Soviet Union degenerated and his role in founding the Fourth International in 1938 protected the intellectual capital of socialism and allowed it to continue despite the efforts of both the Stalinists and the capitalists to destroy the movement.
7. Current and former Stalinist regimes
The countries that claim or claimed to be socialist including Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam were in fact Stalinist states whose parasitic bureaucracies repressed their own working classes in the futile endeavor to establish “socialism in one country”. Socialism as Trotsky asserted can only ever be achieved on an international scale. These states have already restored or are in the process of restoring capitalist property relations.
The working classes of the states must fight to overturn their own ruling classes as part of the struggle for international socialism. However we reject the targeting of these states by U.S. imperialism and its allies.
China is being targeted by the U.S. as its capitalist development in the last 30 years now threatens the declining economic power of U.S. Imperialism. The U.S. wants to subjugate China so its corporations are the ones that benefit from the extraction of surplus value from the Chinese working class. North Korea is being targeted by the U.S. as part of its efforts to subjugate and encircle China.
Russia is being targeted by the U.S. as although it has not claimed to be socialist since 1991, it is intolerable to the U.S., that remnants of the former Stalinist bureaucracy such as Putin stand in the way of full U.S. domination of the resources of Eurasia.
8. The incompatibility of capitalism and the environment.
In addition to the threat of war, humanity also faces a dire threat from rapid Climate Change and other disruptions to the world’s ecosystems that will undermine food supplies and diminish people’s quality of life. The world is facing mass extinctions and ecological collapse. Reforms of capitalism cannot avert this future. Only through the overturning of the profit system itself can the technologies and production processes be achieved that can improve the quality of human life and protect the earth’s resources.
9. An independent movement of the working class – and all capitalist parties.
The working class must break free from all the bankrupt social democratic parties such as the Democrat Party in the U.S., the Labor Party in Australia, the SPD in Germany and equivalent parties internationally. These parties which have claimed to represent the working class are now hollowed parties of war and big business. Supporting one or another of these parties under the banner of “less of two evils” is a disastrous dead end for the working class.
10. The need for workers to form independant rank and file committees
The role of trade unions under capitalism, is not the revolutionary overthrow of the wage system itself but to collectively bargain to improve wages and conditions. Within this reformist framework unions in an earlier historical period were able to play an important role. However since the globalisation of trade which has accelerated since the 1970’s, Trade Unions have been transformed from workers organisations into increasingly open industrial police on behalf of management.
This is not driven by the poor leadership of one or another union bureaucrat but by the fact that transnational corporations can now move their production with ease between countries. This allows them to pit workers globally against each other in a “race to the bottom”. In this context, unions have cooperated with companies and governments to ensure “international competitiveness”, that is they have worked to suppress industrial struggles to keep wages and conditions down in order to maximise profits. There is now no national path forward for workers to defend their conditions, their struggle must be truly international.
Workers must explicitly break free from the control of their unions, forming independant rank and file committees in their workplaces. This process will take different forms in different workplaces and under different conditions. Workers may form committees completely outside of the trade union structure consisting of all workers unionised and non-unionised alike. However in some circumstances rank and file committees within unions may be more appropriate. Such rank and file committees are not aimed at “reforming” the trade unions but fighting within them to advance an internationalist socialist perspective, to expose the perfidious role of the Union leadership and to try and make links with workers outside the union and in other workplaces.
Such independent workers committees will no inevitably attract persecution not just from the bosses but also from union bureaucracies themselves. Workers must stick together across workplaces and industries to protect workers who do form independent committees from reprisals.
These committees must make links with other sections of the working class and internationally to broaden and join their struggles, leading to the strategy of a general strike of all workers.
Although industrial struggle was successfully suppressed by the unions for the last forty years, workers are beginning to break free from this straight jacket with wildcat strikes and organising developing in the U.S. and Mexico, facilitated by social media. This trend must be built upon.
11. The rejection of the Pseudo-left
Many organisations that call themselves “socialist” are in fact “pseudo-left” parties that exist only to disorientate and derail an independent movement of the working class. This includes the various pseudo-left tendencies that exist globally such as the International Socialist Organisation, Socialist Alliance, Syrizia, Podemos and the Socialist Party.
These forces which base themselves on the material interests of the petty bourgeois upper middle classes disorient the working class through the use of left wing phraseology and work unceasingly to keep workers contained within bourgeois parliamentary democracy. They insist workers must subordinate their struggles to the anti-worker Trade Unions.
Internationally these organisations have betrayed the working class. Some examples include, the backing of U.S. Imperialist intervention in Syria, the backing of Syrizia who went on to ruthlessly implement austerity in Greece and their promotion of illusions in Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Obama in the U.S.
12. The threat of the far right and fascism
Fascism arises during periods of capitalist crisis. The economic chaos following World War 1 that led to the Great Depression, birthed European fascism. It took power first in Italy before spreading to other countries – including most disastrously for the world, Germany.
Now, after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 and the worsening capitalist crisis of this century, fascism is again rearing its ugly head. Fascistic parties are in power in Ukraine, the Philippines, Hungary, Poland, Austria and Italy. They are on the rise in France, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, the Baltic nations, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and last-but-not-least, in the dominant imperialist power, the United States, led by the fascist Donald Trump.
Under conditions of ever-increasing inequality, and the threat of world war, the ‘normal’ mechanisms can no longer be relied upon to keep the working-class from entering revolutionary struggle. Once again, the ruling-class (in crisis) needs a movement to prevent socialist revolution. Fascism is an ideology with the specific class purpose of developing a mass movement that can install a dictatorial government to smash the working-class and pave the way for total war.
This movement does not arise spontaneously. It must be cultivated through spreading the filth of racism, extreme nationalism, xenophobia and militarism to the petty bourgeois (middle-classes) and elements of the disoriented working-class. Trotsky states: “In this way, big capital ruins the middle-classes and then, with the help of hired fascist demagogues, incites the despairing petty bourgeoisie against the worker.”
Fascism can only find an audience due to the crisis of leadership on the Left. The working-class has been betrayed by the Social Democratic parties around the world such as the Democrats in the U.S. along with their partners in the Trade Unions since the 1970’s. There is a paucity of revolutionary left-wing leadership around the world. This is why the fascist demagogues are finding such a receptive audience.
13. For freedom of the press and the internet.
Freedom of press and speech are fundamental to the development of the consciousness of working class as access to truthful information is a a pre-condition for the working class acting its own interests. Social media has allowed workers and youth to organise directly with each other, going around the ruling class information “gatekeepers” in a way that has never been previously possible. Workers can now share and communicate with each other on a truly international scale. The use of social media has been crucial everywhere from the Arab Spring, the Yellow Vests, teacher strikes in North America and the recent strikes in Matamoros in Mexico.
This is seen as a deeply troubling development by all sections of the ruling class. We learnt from the leaks of Edward Snowden that the NSA is working with its imperialist partners in the “Five Eyes” network to try and surveil the entire world. As the class struggle escalates the ruling class is moving from surveillance to outright censorship. Using the confected “Russian influence’ and “fake news” hysteria as a justification social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter are working hand in glove with governments to censor dissent. Google has also altered its search algorithms and is employing human censors to wipe left wing, anti-war and dissenting websites from searches. Whilst the U.S. Empire is leading these censorship, many capitalist governments are desperately attempting to control dissent through internet censorship such as China.
Although the ultimate aim of internet censorship is to prevent the development of a left-wing, socialist movement, in the short term some far right internet sites and figures have been censored. This has a twofold reactionary affect. Firstly, the targeting of obviously odious far right racist figures, the capitalist state is giving itself a progressive cover to the escalating censorship. Secondly, it allows these far-right figures to posture as defenders of free speech and bolsters their “victim/anti-establishment” narrative. In reality these figures are backed up powerful sections of the ruling class and if and when the social forces they represent gain power, they will ruthlessly suppress the free speech of others.
14. In defence of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning
The fight for Julian’s freedom is the crucible of the struggle to defend democratic rights and the fight against censorship and against imperialist war. His courageous journalism with Wikileaks has exposed U.S. war crimes, surveillance, corporate malfeasance, electoral corruption and diplomatic machinations. Likewise Chelsea Manning is being persecuted for her principled whistleblowing of these matters and her refusal to participate in the legal frame up of Assange.
In retaliation the U.S. has organised a conspiracy involving the British, Ecuadorian and Australian Governments – to illegally revoke Assange’s asylum resulting in Julian snatching by British police on April 11th. Assange now faces an effective “extraordinary rendition” to the U.S. which is being given a legal figleaf in the servile British courts. He has already been vindictively sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail to seek asylum in 2012 and is serving time in solitary confinement in Belmarsh Prison. The bail breach related to the attempt to extradite Assange to Sweden under the cover of a politicized investigation into allegations of rape. Assange stated that if he went to Sweden, he would face extradition to the U.S. under what were at the time secret charges. Assange has been proved 100% right by recent events. Despite Julian being questioned twice over these allegations and the investigation being closed twice already, without the laying of a single charge in nine years, a “preliminary investigation” has once again been opened in Sweden as part of the legal machinations against him.
The imprisonment of Julian’s asylum and Chelsea Manning are a watershed in the descent of the international order into criminality and impunity. Classconsious.org has organised several rounds of international protests against these developments. An international movement of the youth and working class must be built to demand freedom for Julian and Chelsea as part of a broader campaign against war, censorship and to defend democratic rights! Classconscious.org has also argued that this movement must be orientated to the working class and far right infiltration of the movement must be fought and exposed.
15. The role of classconscious.org in creating healthy debate within the Marxist movement
We see classconscious.org as a tendency or publication that is orientated to the international working class, and as such attempting to forge links with the best layers of workers and youth by fostering debate and discussion over key questions of theory and history. We hope to play our part in helping to build a revolutionary culture in the spirit of socialist internationalism.
The current period of capitalist crisis requires workers to form new organisations and to develop a new leadership. This process must be based on a careful analysis of past workers struggles; in the early part of 20th century as part of the revolutionary upheavals that culminated in 1917 Russian Revolution, Marxist argued through yje daily questions constantly through many different publications and even within the pages of Pravda itself debates occurred.
To take this quote from the respected historian of the Bolshevik revolution, Alexander Rabinowitch in The Bolsheviks come to power:
The phenomenal Bolshevik success can be attributed in no small measure to the nature of the party in 1917. Here I have in mind neither Lenin’s bold and determined leadership, the immense historical significance of which cannot be denied, nor the Bolshevik’s proverbial, though vastly exaggerated, organisational unity and discipline. Rather I would emphasise the party’s internally relatively democratic, tolerant, an decentralised structure and character-in striking contrast to the traditional Leninist model.
As we have seen, within the Bolshevik Petrograd organisation at all levels in 1917 there was a continuing, free and lively discussion and debate over the most basic theoretical and tactical issues. Leaders who differed with the majority were at liberty to fight for their views and not infrequently Lenin was the loser in these struggles. To gauge the importance of this tolerance of differences of opinion and ongoing give-and-take, it is enough to recall that throughout 1917 many of the Bolshevik’s most important resolutions and public statements were influenced as much by the outlook of the right Bolsheviks as by that of Lenin. In addition, moderate Bolsheviks like Kamenev, Zinoviev, Lunacharsky, and Riazanov were among the party’s most articulate and respected spokesmen in key public institutions such as the soviets and trade unions.” (pp 311-312).
Or to quote Lenin: “without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”
It is only through and open and robust discussion that we may be see the expression of scientific socialism, ie Marxism. Classconscious.org would like to play its role in developing such a culture again.
16. Submissions welcome to classconscious.org
In this spirit classconscious.org wishes to reach out to the best layers of revolutionaries who are orientated to the working class and invite them to submit articles to us on important questions for the working class. Whilst we will not promote articles that seek to obscure the truth from the working class through falsification and appeals to reformism we would be happy to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective. Submissions as we said are welcome from those who are orientated to the working class which may include people who call themselves socialist or anarchist.