Turkey's invasion of northern Syria shows the complexity of inter-imperialist antagonisms in this region - and the willingness of all sides involved to use the local population as cannon-fodder.
Turkey's invasion of northern Syria shows the complexity of inter-imperialist antagonisms in this region - and the willingness of all sides involved to use the local population as cannon-fodder.
There is no question that the present system is dragging humanity towards an environmental catastrophe. The wave of protests organised by Youth for Climate, Extinction Rebellion, the Green parties and the parties of the left are presented as a way forward. But those who are currently following their lead should ask themselves: why are these protests being so widely supported by those who manage and defend the present system? Why is Greta invited to speak to parliaments, governments, the United Nations?
The formation of a new government in London under Boris Johnson does not resolve the political crisis and the power struggle within the British ruling class which became a dominant factor in the political life of that country since the Brexit Referendum of June 2016. On the contrary: with the appointment by the Conservatives of Johnson as their new leader and Prime Minister, this crisis has reached a new stage, the power struggle a new degree of intensity.
We live in a society which makes the very terms “democracy” and the “people” empty of meaning. We live in a capitalist society based on the exploitation of one class by another. The exploiting class holds the vast bulk of wealth in its hands, and the state, political power, is there to guarantee its privileges, as are the means of ideological domination such as the press, the TV, and the mainstream social media. The following article argues that In such a society, the “people” is a term used to hide these class divisions and “democracy” serves to mask the monopoly of power held by the ruling class.
Millions have taken to the street in protest against a law that could mean Hong Kong citizens being extradited to China. But while the threat of increasing repression is very real, a "citizens" movement based on democratic illusions cannot advance the cause of the working class.
Ninety years ago, the stock market crash of 1929, which announced the economic crisis of 1930, confirmed what the First World War had meant: that capitalism had definitively passed into its period of decadence. In a few months, tens upon tens of millions of people fell into total destitution. Of course, during this period, the bourgeoisie learnt to attenuate the violence of the crisis but, despite the lessons drawn from it, this crisis has never really been surmounted. This confirms that, in the period opened up by the First World War, the contradictions of capitalism could only lead to a degradation of the living conditions of the great majority of humanity.
All around the globe, capitalism's growing economic crisis is presenting the working class with a series of attacks on its living standards and posing some fundamental questions for the present and the future.
Fifty years after the workers' uprising in the city of Córdoba, it is still necessary to reflect on its meaning, because throughout those same fifty years the left apparatus of capital has been presenting distorted versions of its origins and the political responses it generated, preventing the working class from recovering the experiences left by those days of struggle.
150 years ago, in the early 1860s, the workers’ movement internationally was still in its infancy, and its different components had not yet acquired much experience in setting up and defending political organisations. At the same time the working class in Germany was going to be faced with one of the most difficult political challenges, that of confronting the activities of political adventurers, as the following article explains.
The destruction of the Amazon by flames is not an unfortunate natural disaster, nor is it the fruit of abnormally irresponsible local policies. It is symbolic of what capitalism has in store for all the planet, all species, and for humanity.
Today, if you walk the streets of the towns and cities of Britain it seems that a permanent feature of city centres are desperate people, young and old, squatting in shop doorways begging for change...
We are publishing a contribution from one of our sympathisers, Mark Hayes, which criticises a number of formulations contained in the resolutions from our recent 23rd international congress, together with an initial reply to the comrade’s critcisms. As we say at the end of the reply, “it is the duty of any revolutionary organisation worth its salt to shine the starkest possible light on the reality of the challenge facing the proletariat. We are convinced that the analysis we are developing is best equipped to do this, but this discussion will certainly continue. We are still at the beginnings of fully understanding all the implications of the unfolding period, and criticism and debate is the only way to develop the clearest way forward for our analyses of the world situation”
Over a hundred years ago Frederick Engels stated that, if left to its own devices, capitalism would lead society into barbarism and ruin. Today, we can say that this is already happening and that if unchecked it will continue to do so and drag us down with it. The following article examines two important examples.
As this article was being finalised, the US experienced two more mass shootings on the weekend of August 3rd. These events underscore the deepening crisis of bourgeois social life and demonstrate that the bourgeoisie is itself experiencing an increasing loss of control over society, more and more unable to construct a shared civic narrative that binds the population together in a common identity, however mythical.
An article written by a close sympathiser which uses the marxist method to try to get to the roots of the American Civil War, a momentous event which still has an impact on contemporary capitalism, and the class struggle, in the USA.
In the first part of this article, we recalled the circumstances in which the Third International (Communist International) was founded. The existence of the world party depended above all on the extension of the revolution on a global scale, and its capacity to assume its responsibilities in the class depended on the way in which the regroupment of revolutionaries from which it arose was carried out. But, as we showed, the method adopted in the foundation of the Communist International (CI), favouring the largest number rather than the clarification of positions and political principles, had not armed the new world party. Worse, it made it vulnerable to rampant opportunism within the revolutionary movement. This second part aims to highlight the content of the fight waged by the left fractions against the political line of the CI to retain old tactics made obsolete by the opening of capitalism’s decadent phase.
Acknowledging the bankruptcy of the Second International and basing itself on all the work of the reconstruction of international unity started at Zimmerwald in September 1915, then Kienthal in 1916, the Communist International was founded on March 4 1919 in Moscow.
The ICC lays claim to the contributions of the Communist International (CI). Consequently this centenary is an occasion both to salute and underline the inestimable work of the CI in the history of the revolutionary movement, but equally to draw the lessons of this experience and draw out its weaknesses in order to arm the proletariat of today for its future battles.
Introduction and update to the resolution on the British situation
This resolution, adopted by a conference in January 2019, seeks to draw out the main perspectives for the British situation in the coming period. This takes on even more importance when the whole social situation is dominated by the ruling class’s unprecedented political crisis around Brexit - a crisis that is going to continue to worsen in the coming period.
The series we are publishing on the radical differences (class differences) between on one hand the left and extreme left of capital and, on the other, the small organisations which claim the heritage of the Communist Left, has so far had three parts: an erroneous vision of the working class; a method and mode of thought at the service of capitalism and a way of functioning that is against communist principles. This fourth part is given over to the moral question in order to demonstrate the abyss that separates the morality of the parties which pretend to defend the exploited and the proletarian morality that any real communist organisation has to practice.
This series has denounced the least visible part (the hidden face) of the organisations of the left and extreme-left of capital (Socialists, Stalinists, Trotskyists, Maoists, official anarchism, the 'new' left of Syriza, France Insoumise, and Podemos). In the first article of the series we saw how these organisations negate a working class that they pretend to defend, in the second we unravelled their method and way of thinking. In this third article we want to analyse their functioning, the internal regimes of these parties and how their functioning is the very negation of all communist principles and constitutes an obstacle to any movement towards these principles.
Stalinism turned Lenin into a "harmless icon"
In the first part of this series we saw that the programme of the parties of the left and far left of capital for transforming capitalism into a "new society" leads to nothing more than an idealised reproduction of capitalism itself. Worse still, the view of the working class they present is a total denial of its revolutionary nature. In this second article, we will look into the thinking of these parties and their method of analysis, especially by those that consider themselves the "most radical".
Thirty years ago, a terrible, particularly bloody repression took place on Tianenmen Square and in the main Chinese metropoles. The recently-released Tiananmen Papers fully confirm the facts as we published them at the time, detailing a savage repression involving machine-gun fire, round-ups, massive arrests and executions. Today as yesterday we insist that "the police-military terror and the democratic lie are complementary and both strengthen each other".
At the end of May, a report into austerity in the UK by the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty was issued - to the accompaniment of protests by the British government.
Those born in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks will be 18 in 2019. What have they grown up with? What have they been exposed to on the news? What sort of world have they been living in?
Following 9/11 there was Bush’s “global war on terrorism”. In reality, it was just “war” where, in invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (and in other campaigns as well) US imperialism attempted (and failed) to assert its position as the only surviving super power.
Brazil is wracked by increased repression, growing poverty and greater insecurity, further attacks on workers, threats of war and risks of chaos, all linked to the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on 1 January, 2019. Bolsonaro symbolises the epoch in which we are living which produces the most sinister and repugnant elements. It is a law that we can be sure will be verified, whatever the political moves of the new president: the exploited will pay more than their predecessors and the crisis of capitalism will only get worse...
In this article, we aim to show how the ANC’s project of rescuing and defending capitalist social relations in South Africa was implemented methodically by its successive leaders, in the first place by Nelson Mandela.
In the previous part of this series, we re-published the article ‘Welcome to Socialisme ou Barbarie’ written by the Gauche Communiste de France in 1948. The article took up a clear position on the nature of the Trotskyist movement, which had abandoned its proletarian credentials by participating in the second imperialist world war. In this new article, we will seek to show how right the GCF were to be cautious in their welcome to SouB, and how difficult it is for those who have grown up in the corrupt milieu of Trotskyism to make a really profound break with its fundamental ideas and attitudes.
We are publishing a contribution from a sympathizer in the US which aims at exposing the empty but dangerous ideology about ‘the elite’ which is being used more and more by different factions of the capitalist class today.
From November 2018 to June 2019, the media was filled with news about the social movement of the "gilets jaunes". It was "unprecedented dissent" according to the experts, an expression of a new social model of struggle. For some it was supposed to be better adapted to the evolution of society. In reality the "gilets jaunes" are in no way the expression of a workers' struggle. It is an inter-classist movement, an obstacle to the class struggle. The workers are drowned when they are mixed up with the population in general; outside all considerations of social class, they are diluted into the so-called "people".
This article is part of the series The hidden legacy of the left of capital in which we are proposing how to come to grips with something that is difficult for numerous groups and militants of the Communist Left: it's not only a question of breaking with all the political positions of the parties of capital (populist, fascist, right, left, extreme-left) but it is also necessary to break with their organisational methods, their morality and their way of thinking.
Anyone who claims to belong to the communist left has the responsibility to know and to make known the history of this component of the workers’ movement, its origins in reaction to the degeneration of the parties of the Communist International, and the different branches which compose it (the Italian left, the German-Dutch left etc). It is above all important to draw out very precisely the historic contours of the communist left and the differences which separate it from other left currents of the past, notably the Trotskyist current. This is the object of the present article.
In November 2018 the two main groups of the communist left in Britain, the ICC and the Communist Workers Organisation, held meetings in London on the centenary of the German revolution. From both meetings it was evident that there is fundamental agreement on a number of key points arising from this experience. And yet there were also definite disagreements between our two organisations, which emerged at the CWO meeting and were further debated at the ICC meeting the following week, which was attended by a member of the CWO. This article looks at the principal differences that emerged.
Situated and divided between India, Pakistan and China, all three of them nuclear powers, and claimed by both India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a region of instability since the British left in 1947. Recently however, tensions in the area have increased and the stakes are high...
Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen… the infernal spiral of imperialist conflict continues to plunge the Middle East into the depths of barbarism. This region is a concentration of everything that is most disgusting about decadent capitalism. After decades of instability, invasions, “civil” wars and all kinds of murderous conflicts, Iran is now in the eye of the storm.
This article, written by a close sympathiser, examines a contribution by the group Internationalist Voice on the strengths and weaknesses of recent workers’ struggles in Iran.
We publishing these extracts from a recent exchange of correspondence with a young reader in Arizona, focussing on the question of elections. In the original message sent by this comrade, he said he was in general agreement with our platform, which he considered to be “thorough and detailed”. However, he expressed one major disagreement: against our “rigid anti-parliamentarianism” he argued that communists can use elections “strictly as a platform to gain public attention”.
Spanish Civil War refugees 'welcomed' by democratic France
Eighty years ago, one of the most important events of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War, came to an end. This major conflict was at the heart of the world situation in the 1930s. It had been at the centre of international political attention for several years. It would provide a decisive test for all political tendencies claiming to be proletarian and revolutionary. For example, it was in Spain that Stalinism would play a part, for the first time outside the USSR, as the executioner of the proletariat. Likewise, it would be around the Spanish question that a decantation would take place within the currents that had fought against the degeneration and betrayal of the communist parties in the 1920s, a decantation dividing them into those who would maintain an internationalist position during the Second World War and those who ended up participating in it, such as the Trotskyist movement.
We are publishing a number of documents emanating from the 23rd ICC Congress: reports that were discussed and ratified (or extracts from them) and resolutions that were adopted. We add to this collection a report aimed at updating our analysis of decomposition which was ratified by the 22nd ICC Congress and which provides a framework for some of the reports to the 23rd Congress.
We will also publish in due course a statement by the ICC on the work of the Congress.
The working class has no stake in the Brexit imbroglio, no camp to choose among the many factions or the umpteen ‘solutions’. All the arguments in the Brexit debate are ultimately to do with the best conditions in which to manage the capitalist economic crisis, the best way to compete with other capitalist swindlers on the world market.
To stimulate discussion around the formation of the future world party of the revolution, we are publishing two chapters of an article from Internationalisme no. 7 from January 1946, entitled “On the First Congress of the Internationalist Communist Party of Italy”
In the first part of this article we looked at some of the most important developments in the international proletarian milieu after the events of May 68 in France. We noted that, while the resurgence of the class struggle gave a significant impetus to the revival of the proletarian political movement, and thus to the regroupment of its forces, this dynamic had begun to run into difficulties by the beginning of the 80s. Here, we take up the story from this point.
It is not enough to examine the mounting threat to life on this planet through the lens of ecology, or the natural sciences, alone. To understand the underlying causes of ecological devastation, and the possibility of reversing it, we have to understand their connection to the existing social relations, to the economic system that governs the earth: capitalism. And for us that means using the only really scientific approach to understanding the structure and dynamics of human society – the method of marxism. One excellent point of departure here is Engels’ 1876 essay ‘The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man’, an unfinished movement that has been included within a broader unfinished symphony, The Dialectics of Nature".
The confrontation between the bourgeois factions in Venezuela - between Chavismo and the opposition parties - has undergone a qualitative leap since the beginning of 2019. It takes place in a context of an unprecedented worsening of the economic and social crisis, the most evident sign of which is the increase in poverty experienced by a large part of the population. But it is part of a scenario marked by worsening rivalries between the great powers - some giving their open support to the regime of Nicolás Maduro, others to the proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó. The US threat, as voiced by senior officials and Donald Trump himself, does not exclude a US military intervention, using "humanitarian aid" as a justification. Support for Nicolás Maduro has come mainly from countries such as Russia and China, the main allies of Chavismo. However, rather than a direct military confrontation between the great powers, the potential danger lies in the use of the population and workers as cannon fodder in a war between bandits.
In the two previous articles in this series, we have looked at the historic significance of the reawakening of the class struggle after decades of counter-revolution. In this article we want to look specifically at the evolution of the proletarian political milieu since 1968.
Anti-Bolshevik propaganda poster 1919
In the first part of this article we highlighted the response of all the great imperialist powers to stem the revolutionary wave and prevent it from spreading in the major industrialised countries of Western Europe. In this article we look at the decisive contribution of social democracy to this reactionary project, and of Stalinism as one of the worst products of the isolation and defeat of the world revolution.
The real, organised, systematic violence on the streets of France in recent weeks was that unleashed by the state which had encountered the anger of "the people" folowing years of austerity. But this "popular revolt" of all the "poor" of "working France" who can't "make ends meet" is not as such a proletarian movement, despite its sociological composition, as the following article explains.
A hundred years ago we were at height of the world revolutionary wave – more precisely, the outbreak of the revolution in Germany, a year after the proletariat took power in Russia, in October 1917.
An article from a close sympathiser showing that despite and even because of the omnipresence of war in the Middle East, the class struggle can still raise its head.
At the end of May this year a wave of strikes and protests by workers and unemployed in Jordan against tax increases, price rises and state corruption was widely reported in the media. In fact the movement by lower-paid workers against gas and electricity price increases began several months earlier in the provinces, building up to mass protests in the capital Amman...
In a region scarred by imperialist war and sectarian divisions, the recent social protests in Iran, Jordan and Iraq offer hope that there is another possibility: the united struggle of the exploited against capital and its brutal violence. This article, written by a close sympathiser, looks at the massive demonstrations that have swept through central and southern Iraq.
Starting on July 8, 2018, a number of spontaneous protests broke out in central and southern Iraq involving thousands of demonstrators. It spread through eight southern provinces very quickly and, about a fortnight later, onto the streets of Baghdad. These followed significant protests in Jordan and Iran on exactly the same issues. The movement in Iraq would have been aware of these protests and inspired by them given the basic similarities.