Socialist Fight: Where We Stand
Part 1: Revolutionary socialism
1. We stand with Karl Marx: ‘The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. The struggle for the emancipation of the working class means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies but for equal rights and duties and the abolition of all class rule’ (The International Workingmen’s Association 1864, General Rules). The working class ‘cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other sphere of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society’ (Marx, A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843).
2. The revolutionary process of transition to communism is based on the struggle to form an international federation of workers’ states; such a federation is required in order to defeat global capital, end world hunger and oppression and release the full global potential of united world working class. A world economy and a worldwide division of labour make this our ultimate strategic goal.
3. In the class struggle we shall fight to develop every movement in the direction of democratic soviets/workers’ councils as the instruments of participatory democracy which must be the basis of the successful struggle for workers’ power. Although workers and other progressive layers retain overwhelming illusions in bourgeois parliaments and other elective capitalist assemblies, which in fact work counter to their interests, we will participate in this parliamentary fraud in order to expose these outmoded forms of so-called democracy and those MPs and Councillors who represent it by promoting the cause of social revolution through the workers and progressives’ soviets/workers’ councils. Thereby we will be counter-posing real workers’ democracy in struggle to finance-capital democracy. This is the only possible form of mass workers’ democracy which can overthrow capitalism and we must continually counterpose it to the fraud of bourgeois democracy.
4. The capitalist state consists, in the last analysis of ruling-class laws within a judicial system and detention centres overseen by the armed bodies of police/army who are under the direction and are controlled in acts of defence of capitalist property rights against the interests of the majority of civil society. The working class must overthrow the capitalist state and replace it with a workers’ state based on democratic soviets/workers’ councils to suppress the inevitable counter-revolution of private capitalist profit against planned production for the satisfaction of socialised human need.
5. We acknowledge the need for a leadership consisting of the most broadly-based Marxist Revolutionary Socialist Party to defeat this capitalist state and its political system. This party must be based on the principle of democratic centralism contained in Lenin’s 1906 article Freedom to Criticise and Unity of Action: autonomy for local Party organisations and of the universal and full rights to criticise by all members, so long as this does not disturb the unity to achieve defined and imperative actions once decided. We rule out all criticism which seeks to disrupt and make inoperable the unity implicit in these actions, decided on by the Party’s elected leadership. The process of revolution is based upon the broadest democratic participation of the masses directed by the dialectical inter-relationship between the revolutionary party and the working-class and its social allies. This interaction creates the political conditions for the self-emancipation of the working class and progressives, through their self-governance of the common ownership of all principal means of production, distribution and exchange – that is, socialist governance in all spheres of public life entailing public accord.
Part 2: Revolutionary strategy and tactics
6. To realise these aims we base our intervention in the class struggle on Trotsky’s Transitional Programme of 1938. We will work to employ and develop methods and practice embodied in that document because it addresses the Marxist method of mass party work through which the Bolsheviks successfully led the Russian Revolution in 1917 and as developed by Lenin in Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder in 1920. These documents superceded the programme of the 2nd International, mainly the German Social Democratic Party’s Erfurt Programme of 1891. That party’s right wing interpreted this programme as having an artificial separation between the Minimum programme of the reformist class struggle and the Maximum programme for the overthrow of capitalism, resulting in the destruction of that international in their vote for the Kaiser’s war credits on 4 August 1914 and other similar capitulation most other sections. Our Transitional Programme and method consists of the essence of the best of the original 3rd and 4th Internationals programmes.
7. We recognise the necessity for revolutionaries to carry out serious ideological and political struggle as direct participants in the trade unions (always) and in the mass reformist social democratic bourgeois workers’ parties despite their pro-capitalist leaderships when conditions are favourable. In fighting the attacks of this Coalition government it is now necessary to work within the Labour party and the Labour Representation Committee where appropriate, in particular strengthening the ties with the ranks of the trades unions and the Constituency Labour parities, getting delegated to CLP General Committees, etc. We are totally opposed to campaigns that call on the trade unions to ‘break the link with Labour’, stop the political levy to the Labour party or split the TUC to form a new centrist or reformist party. We reject all these attempts like the French New Anti-Capitalist Party, Respect, No to EU, The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to form other, more radical reformist or centrist parties to avoid the struggle to build a revolutionary party (whilst not rejecting tactical entry into such formations if they contain a large number of radicalised workers). Such attempts are almost always a cover for rightist capitulation to the trade union bureaucracy, as we have seen with the Socialist party in the PCS, Unite etc. and the SWP in the Unite and the CWU, notwithstanding the forced resignation of the leading SWP Executive member, Jane Loftus, and the failure of the SP and the AWL to support the rank-and-file candidate Jerry Hicks for General Secretary of Unite.
8. We strongly support campaigns to democratise the trade unions’ traditional link to the Labour party. We are for funding only those MPs who agree to and have a record of fighting for union policies. We demand an end the farcical Warwick Agreements which sees top TU leaders, acting bureaucratically as plenipotentiaries and defenders of capitalism, asking for miserable reform, accepting far less and ending up with practically nothing in practice from Labour Governments. National funding of labour must also be on the basis of fighting for union policies and must be withheld until the Labour leaders agree to represent the interests of trade union members, the working class and oppressed against the bankers and the capitalist system in general.
9. Because we see the trade union bureaucracy and their allies in the Labour party leadership as the most fundamental obstacle to the struggle for power of the working class, outside of the state forces and their direct agencies, we must fight and defeat and replace them with a revolutionary leadership by mobilising the base against the pro-capitalist bureaucratic misleaders to open the way forward for the struggle for workers’ power. The appropriate transitional demand here is for the formation of rank-and-file workplace-based groups, nationally co-ordinated, where the revolutionary party fights to win the leadership by raising the class consciousness of the working class in struggle.
10. Our fundamental criticisms of all other far left groups are on how they relate to this trade union and labour bureaucracy and therefore to their own ruling class; their capitulations to this bureaucracy and lack of or one-sided application of the vital rank-and-file tactic. That is they do not take seriously the opening line of the Trotsky’s Transitional Programme of 1938: “The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat.” In this period, we repeat, it is the struggle against the Trade Union and Labour bureaucracy that defines the fight for leadership. In its turn how declared revolutionaries perform this task defines them as reformist, centrist, or genuine revolutionary. It is our task as revolutionaries to fight in this way and that how we understand the last sentence of the opening section of the Transitional Programme, The Objective Prerequisites for a Socialist Revolution; “The turn is now to the proletariat, i.e., chiefly to its revolutionary vanguard. (Therefore) The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”
11. For socialists there are ultimately absolutely no progressive ‘national borders’ within the global monopoly capitalist system. Defence of a nation state as such would only be legitimate in the case of a semi-colony under attack by imperialist forces (see point 17) or after the socialist revolution under conditions of isolation after having once established internal socialised property relations amidst capitalist encirclement. Consequently we oppose all opportunist leanings by left-wing movements together with their amalgamations with trade unions campaigns to make a national alignment for jobs or industries as in the call for ‘British jobs for British workers’ that means capitulation to national chauvinism and so to the political and economic interests of the ruling class itself. Similarly in 2009, the No2EU campaign based its elective view on an opportunist British particularity in separation from the Europe-wide proletariat with reformist pleas under capitalism. There is nothing progressive in this and we must at all times patiently explain this fact to workers irrespective of national origin. We are therefore unreservedly for a Socialist United States of Europe.
12. We are totally opposed to popular fronts with the political representatives of any capitalist class to ‘save the planet’, ‘defeat fascism’, ‘stop the war’, ‘fight the cuts’ or for any other reason; as Trotsky said ‘no mixing of the Red and the Blue’(or Green – SF). The fact that David Cameron is a member of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Greens are participating as equals in the Labour movement in the anti-cuts campaigns tends to restrict the working class to the politics and programme of its class enemies, in however ‘democratic’ or ‘green’ a form they come. This by definition rules out ever fighting for the socialist revolution, the only ultimate solution to all capitalist crises
13. We are full in support of all mass mobilisations against the onslaught of this reactionary Con-Lib Dem coalition. However, whilst participating in this struggle we will oppose all policies which subordinate the working class to the political agenda of the petty-bourgeois reformist leaders of the Labour party and trade unions. For instance here we must priorities the fight for working class leadership against the bureaucracy and, where possible base the struggle on Trade Union Councils involving all the local unions and spreading to user groups of vital services, the unemployed etc. so that the basis of workers councils begins to develop. Fighting for rank-and file organisations in the unions and moving the struggle in the direction of Soviets/workers councils as opposed to subordinating it to the activities of Labour lefts in parliament will be our goal. For example the current Communication Workers Union campaign to target marginal Lib-Dem constituencies in response to the privatisation of the Royal Mail is clearly an alternative to mobilising the membership for strike action. This is made difficult because the membership have bitter memories of the last struggle in the Summer and Autumn of 2009, which was betrayed by the entire Executive of the union when there was strong support for strike action.
14. We reject sectarian abstention from the class struggle in the pursuit of defending ‘the revolutionary programme’ as a propaganda group outside of the class struggle itself. This approach reveals contempt for the working class and a profound scepticism of the relevance of the Trotskyist Transitional Programme. Revolutionary theory that cannot be defended and elaborated in the course of the class struggle itself is not worth the paper it is written on.
Part 3: Oppression of women and discrimination against minorities
15. We recognise that class society, and capitalism as the last form of class society, is by its nature patriarchal. In that sense the oppression of women is different from all other forms of oppression and discrimination. The oppression of women is inextricable tied to the ownership and the inheritance of private property. To achieve sexual and individual freedom women need to fight in the class struggle in general to overthrow class society itself. Therefore we cannot leave the struggle against women’s oppression until the revolution but must recognise it as one of the most fundamental aspects of the revolutionary struggle itself or we will never make that revolution.
16. We support the fight of all the specially oppressed; Black and Asians, women, lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people against discrimination in all its forms and their right to organise separately in that fight in society as a whole. In particular we defend their right to caucus inside trade unions and in working class political parties.
17. We support the rights of sex workers and oppose all laws which criminalises them or tend to endanger their lives and health. Whilst recognising prostitution as a product of the oppression of women under capitalism and knowing that this will disappear with the ending of the patriarchal-dominated private property structure of class society we raise the demands that protect their rights now such as free and regular health checks under the NHS and a safe working environment for sex workers.
18. Until capitalism is overthrown and the wage system abolished we demand carer’s/mother’s wage for first two years of the child’s life because there are some important psychological attachment needs that are not met by placing babies in day care so young especially where there is a high adult to baby ratio. To enable women to have equal opportunities and achieve equal pay at work we demand state subsidised socialisation of housework: free 24-hour childcare in well equipped nurseries and kindergartens, breast feeding breaks at work, flexible work hours to suit the worker not the employer, etc. We fight for free abortion and contraception on demand. Crèches in all working class meetings and conferences where needed are mandatory goals for all serious revolutionaries.
19. We fight racism and fascism. We support the right of people to fight back against racist and fascist attacks by any means necessary. Self-defence is no offence! We support ‘No Platform’ for all fascists but never call on the capitalist state to ban fascist marches or parties; these laws would inevitably primarily be used against workers’ organisations, as history has shown.
20. We oppose all immigration controls. International finance capital roams the planet in search of profit and imperialist governments disrupts the lives of workers and cause the collapse of whole nations with their direct intervention in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and their proxy wars in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc. Workers have the right to sell their labour internationally wherever they get the best price.
Part 4: Revolutionary internationalism
21. We defend the heritage of the Russian Revolution and the struggle for the world revolution and critically support the revolutionary thrust of the first four Congresses of the Third Communist International before the victory of counter-revolutionary Stalinism when the theory of socialism in a single country was imposed in 1924. In particular we defend the revolutionary integrity of its two great central leaders, Lenin and Trotsky, in making and defending that revolution and fighting for the world revolution at all times.
22. As revolutionary international socialists we support Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution and its applicability in the present era of globalisation to all non-imperialist countries, even, or indeed especially, those relatively well developed ones, e.g. Israel/Palestine, Ireland, Argentina, Iraq and Iran etc. This is because the struggles of these peoples pose the biggest threats to imperialist hegemony. As Trotsky observed; “…the difference between England and India, Japan and China, the United States and Mexico is so big that we strictly differentiate between oppressor and oppressed bourgeois countries and we consider it our duty to support the latter against the former. The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.” Leon Trotsky Not a Workers’ and Not a Bourgeois State? (November 1937).
23. We are for the immediate withdrawal and/or defeat of imperialist armies in wars like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and any future wars. Whilst giving no political support to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Sunni and Shia militias in Iraq, Hamas or Fatah in Palestine, Gaddafi in Libya or the theocratic regime in Iran we recognise world imperialism as the main enemy of humanity and so advocate critical support and tactical military assistance to all those fighting for the defeat imperialism. We are for the overthrow of the Zionist state of Israel and for a Multi-Ethnic workers’ state of Israel/Palestine as part of the Socialist Federation of the Middle East.
24. As socialist living in Britain we take our responsibilities to support the struggle against British imperialism’s occupation of the six north-eastern counties of Ireland very seriously. For this reason we have assisted in founding the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group and we will campaign for political status these Irish prisoners of war and for a 32-county united Socialist Ireland. We reject all ‘two nations in Ireland’ theories.
25. We continue to defend the remaining Deformed Workers States of Cuba and North Korea against capitalist restoration and fight for a political revolution to defend national property relations, restore workers democracy and replace the Stalinist leaderships with genuine internationalist revolutionary socialist ones.
26. We are for the refoundation and reconstruction of the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution and will fight for the fusions and splits necessary for this in our international work. It is by orientating to the ranks of workers in struggle that we will win the forces from reformist, centrists and self-proclaimed Trotskyist groups, and of course by working closely to regroup with those forces nationally and internationally who have made significant advances in breaking from centrism.