Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s many publications appeared which claimed to be revolutionary, communist or to defend the interests of the working class. Even at the time it was clear that most of them would not survive for long. World Revolution was first produced in May 1974 and has been published continuously ever since, for the last 25 years as a monthly newspaper.
There is no mystery behind WR’s success in reaching its 300th issue where others have long vanished. Right from the start we tried to put the publication on a historical basis, drawing on the contributions of the Italian, German and Dutch Left. We were also part of an international tendency that formed the ICC in 1975. We warned of the danger of expecting immediate results from intervention and falling into activism. The disappearance internationally of so many papers and journals shows how far our warnings were ignored.
Early on we established what the function of the regular revolutionary press was. As the backbone of the organisation it tries to answer the questions being posed in the working class and by those who want to take part in the struggle against capitalism. As we said in a 3-part series on ‘The Present Tasks of Revolutionaries’ that appeared in 1978 (WR 17-19): “Intervention is first and foremost a question of elaborating and disseminating ideas”. In practice this means, “the stimulation of reflection in the class, especially amongst those elements who are moving towards communist ideas, is the central aim of the organisation’s publications. These publications must be composed both of basic programmatic texts and of analyses which apply these basic class positions to the various issues which arise out of the general situation, so that the organisation can assist these elements to understand what’s happening on the world. As an instrument for understanding social reality, the publications must bring theoretical clarification to the general problems confronting the class; as an instrument of combat, they must also contain polemical texts directed against confused or counter-revolutionary positions and the groups which defend them”.
In different periods WR has had different emphases, although always within the same overall framework. In the 1970s, for example, it was necessary to explain many basic positions, and show how the historic workers’ movement had confronted questions in the past. We also drew on this heritage when dealing with the various groups and publications that flourished briefly, as well as the influential leftist groups that were very radical in their language at the time.
During the 1980s, when there were extensive struggles across the world, we had to show what workers were doing, what lessons they had already drawn and also how much further the class struggle had to be taken. In many struggles there were signs of the working class beginning to take charge of its fight. However, there was little awareness of the political implications of the struggle, of the perspective it opened up. We showed the massive extent of the struggles in Poland in 1980-81, but also pointed to its limitations, how it was defeated by democratic, trade unionist and religious ideology before the imposition of martial rule in December 1981. With the struggle in Britain, WR showed how the miners’ strike of 1984-85 had the capacity to extend with the struggles of dockworkers and car workers, but also how this was undermined by the unions and, as with the News International print workers at Wapping, this was turned into a long drawn out action that was ultimately discouraging rather than inspiring workers.
Following the break up of the Russian and US blocs, in the 1990s all the publications of the ICC had a responsibility to explain what had happened, particularly with the subsequent proliferation of military conflicts and against the whole myth of the ‘end of the communism’. While traditional Trotskyist and Stalinist leftism was weakened by the collapse of the USSR, new currents emerged that claimed a different approach to ‘what is society and how it can be changed’. Whether they used familiar labels, such as ‘anarchist’ or ‘anti-capitalist’, or saw themselves as part of the movement ‘against globalisation’, the ICC’s publications tried to identify what these tendencies represented and how they related to the struggle of the working class. We have also had to put forward our understanding of the whole period of decomposition, and show how it impacts on every aspect of social reality.
ICC as a reference point
The current period is marked by a revival in workers’ struggles internationally. This revival has been accompanied by the emergence of groups and individuals who are discussing the questions facing the working class and the struggle for communism. Our remarks in 1978 about bringing “theoretical clarification to the general problems facing class” remain entirely valid. When new groups appear we try to relate to them, not through producing a static balance sheet but by identifying their basic dynamic. When individuals write to us we try to see what precisely is being said so that we can reply in a way that is productive. If we have public meetings that discuss things which are of general interest we publish reports in our press. From our intervention on internet discussion forums we get an idea of what concerns there are in different parts of cyberspace.
In all this we want to show the debates taking place in the internationalist milieu. We want to make a contribution as a living organisation to a process of clarification that is already underway. Sometimes this will mean producing articles on general questions such as the perspective of communism, the nature of the working class, what imperialism is or how to understand the decadence and decomposition of capitalism. We want to show how capitalism’s economic crisis is unfolding, what’s going on in imperialist conflicts, how the bourgeoisie arranges its forces, and how the class struggle is developing. Where there are illusions in the anti-globalisation movement, anarchist or Trotskyist groups, we will subject them to a marxist critique. We are also committed to defending the basic principles of behaviour within the working class movement against all their detractors. Fundamentally we want WR, as one of the publications of the ICC, to act as a reference point for all those who are challenging the ideas of the ruling class, or want to participate in the struggle of the working class, or see communism as a necessity for humanity, or are searching for a coherent understanding of what’s going on in the world.
One significant difference from the period when the first WR was published has been the development of the internet. Our website, www.internationalism.org, and our printed press are complementary parts of our intervention. So, if you’re reading this article in the pages of WR, we hope you will be encouraged to go to our website and see the growing number of articles from past issues of our territorial and international press, texts that have only appeared online, texts that are on line before they’re printed, or articles that have appeared in languages other than English. Or, if you’re reading this online, have a look at where future ICC public meetings or street sales are being held, and come and discuss with our militants. Wherever you’re reading this, consider taking extra copies of the paper to sell, making financial donations to support our press, and writing to us on any of the questions raised in our publications. These are among the ways to contribute to the development of WR as part of the whole process of clarification within the working class. Car 30/12/6