Towards building an International Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency (Part 1)

The Necessity of Marxists’ Convergence

Towards building an International Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency (Part 1)

Motive, Objective and Method

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In the current situation the convergence of Marxists at the international level is on the agenda. The concept of convergence, from a Marxist perspective, is to break with the existing series of distorted views and traditions in the labour movement – and also deviations among those who claim to be “Marxists” but are either peripheral or even outside the labour movement – and, on that basis, to determine the components for Marxist convergence for the purpose of intervention in the labour movement and preparation for the socialist revolution.

In order to determine the components of convergence, Marxists must return to Karl Marx’s own theories, analytical approach and method. Then, once we have recovered these from the various deviations of the past century and half, chiefly the Stalinists distortions, to re-arm the proletariat with new theoretical gains that incorporate the revolutionary heritage since Marx, particularly of Lenin, the Bolsheviks and the Third International as well as Trotsky and the Fourth International.

?What is our motive

Our motive is in fact the same as that of Marx during his period. Having broken away from the elitist socialists, utopian socialists and the philosophers of his time, Marx was able to transform socialism into a science. We also agree with such a motive: i.e., to update or to clarify the science of the liberation of humanity in relation to the present situation of the living labour movement. In other words, our motive is to re-define Marxism for use in the twenty-first century. By breaking away from the distorted, non-socialist and non-scientific tendencies operating under the cover of “socialism” and “Marxism”, we, like Marx, can enable ourselves to achieve a true and scientific Marxism and realise the convergence of the Marxists quite successfully.

Obviously, in order to break away completely from these distorted views, we must have components with which we show our differences from these views.

Before explaining our components, it is necessary for us to use the Marxist method to review the task, method and significant points of the present situation of the international labour movement and to deduce from the current situation the necessity of the convergence of Marxists at the international level.

?What is our objective

Our final objective is the same as that which Marx himself sought: “formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.” [1]

One hundred and seventy-three years after the Communist Manifesto was first published this theory and perspective still holds true. Not only is there no doubt about its validity but in the present world situation, its necessity is felt even more than ever before. Other than a general outline, Karl Marx did not write much in relation to the specifics and the different aspects of socialist society, or the transition period from capitalism to socialism, which begins with the seizure of power by the proletariat, at the end of which the socialist classless society is born. Limiting himself to the outlines and future perspectives was not because of any theoretical weakness; conversely it was Marx’s materialist conception of history and his scientific method that clearly separated him from the petty-bourgeois utopian socialists who imagined the future with idealistically pre-determined plans and models.

Marx believed that the proletariat and all of its exploited allies, after overthrowing the supremacy of the bourgeoisie, will plan the new society on the basis of satisfying human needs. However, what Marx was quite sure about was that capitalism was no longer able to satisfy the needs of the majority in society, and therefore must be overthrown by the proletariat, which itself is the product of the birth and growth of capitalist relations and becomes the “grave digger” of those relations.

Like Marx, we also believe that in the 21st century our task cannot be anything other than preparing for the overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat and establishing the socialist order. This is because capitalism imposes wars and massive destruction: its massacring of millions of workers and destruction of massive capacity of the productive forces, have propelled humanity into regression. Thus, the working class and the oppressed masses of the world have constantly been the main victims of these conflicts, and capitalism’s huge profits generated from war. All this not only proves the state of degradation and decay of world capitalism, but also demonstrates the dilemma facing humanity: “socialism or barbarism”. The working class, in the final analysis, relying on its own power, as the main and genuine producer, by organising the social revolution, by enduring the defeats and the victories, will create a new order; a new order which will indeed serve the interests of humanity. This will be the communist system where eventually the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” will be put into effect.

?What is our method

Marxists’ convergence, according to Marx’s teachings, can only be realised through using the critical-revolutionary-practical method. Marx, in his critique of Feuerbach in Theses on Feuerbach, says that Feuerbach’s problem, like all the materialists prior to him, is the fact that he “does not grasp the significance of ‘revolutionary’, of ‘practical-critical’, activity” (first thesis).[2] Here the adjective “critical” is used to mean the need to find the roots of the current situation of workers’ struggles; “revolutionary” means that the objective is to change and to transform the present situation; and “practical” means purposeful action or conscious activity. We also shall use the same method for Marxists’ convergence, in order to re-define Marxism as a science – the science of the conditions of the liberation of the working class.

?What are the reasons for proposing Marxists’ Convergence today

What is the present world political situation? Today, in the current situation of the struggles of the working class, we are witnessing four phenomena side by side. To see and to understand these phenomena, one needs neither any special analysis nor exhausting discussions; anyone can see them.

The first phenomenon is the protests of the millions of people against the systematic threats and attacks of capitalism. Particularly in the years following the 2007-08 crisis, through their daily and consistent struggles, the masses have been able to develop a better understanding of the true nature of capitalism and the states protecting it. Following nearly forty years of Neoliberalism’s domination and the stagnation of class struggles throughout the world, in the past few years we have witnessed protests, risings and uprisings of millions around the world. The real nature of the banks, financial centres and the capitalist states as their protectors, has now unfolded in front of the eyes of the masses. The disclosure of countless documents and testaments has revealed the true of “state secrets and “intellectual property”.

Not long ago, if we, the Marxists, were to claim that the banks and the financial institutions had been defrauding and taking advantage of people, nobody would have paid us any attention. If we had claimed that the capitalist states were not “neutral” administrators of society, but in fact the backers and protectors of the banks, nobody would have paid any attention. But now, there is no need to bring these matters up. During the past decade millions around the world – from Greece to Spain and from Latin America to North Africa and the Middle East – who have taken to the streets and are protesting against the social programmes of austerity and restrictions, have reached this level of consciousness.

The disclosures made by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (and other whistle-blowers), have deepened this consciousness. At the international level the masses in huge numbers have reached anti-capitalist consciousness or are questioning the capitalist system. Holding a critical view, they demand a change in the present conditions.

The COVID pandemic, and the way that all along capitalists’ profits and “the economy” – rather than workers’ lives and welfare – have always been the priority of governments around the world, whether they are presided over by far right, right, centre, or seemingly left leaders and parties (even if they have working-class roots), has further undermined trust in the political leadership of the capitalist class. Everywhere social inequalities have grown: the rich have become wealthier and the poor – if they have survived – are poorer, in worse health and open to more naked exploitation. Even where governments were led by former trade union leaders like Stefan Löfven, Cyril Ramaphosa and Nicolas Maduro, there was no substantial difference to the logic of capitalism and the absolute needs of the profit motive!

The second phenomenon is that, despite the fact that these changes in the objective conditions and the consciousness of the masses in favour of revolution or at least some kind of fundamental change, we have not witnessed any socialist revolution. The Marxists, who for over four decades have prepared themselves in their own organisations for such a day, in order to lead the masses towards the socialist revolution, have either been completely absent or marginal in the class struggles. The Marxists are more than ever scattered and divided. The political and organisational crisis among a wide range of Marxists has actually become deeper than before. The theoretical crisis is palpable. Fundamental Marxist beliefs, and specifically of Karl Marx himself, have been thrown aside and even buried under a pile of theoretical deviations, dogmatism and ideological concepts. In the conflicts and wars between the imperialist states and the reactionary capitalist states in the Middle East, some of the “Trotskyist” organisations, implicitly or explicitly, sided with imperialism; while others, implicitly or explicitly, sided with the reactionary regimes of the region. Bureaucracy, splits and differences are rife in the various Trotskyist groups. The reality is that Marxism, as the science of the working-class liberation, has been distorted and forgotten. In addition, socialism’s crisis of credibility on a/the world scale, caused by the deviations of the “Socialist Camps” such as the USSR, China and their dependent states, still remains. Baseless expulsions and accusations continue. The deliberate and systematic distortions of the fundamental ideas of Marxism by the Moscow Academy of Sciences on the one hand, and the decades of practical co-operation of Moscow and Beijing with the bourgeoisie against the labour and communist movements around the world on the other hand, have inflicted massive and disastrous damage to the working class internationally. Consequentially, globally millions of the working-class people are doubting socialism. In the eyes of millions of workers and toilers around the world the credibility of socialism has been undermined.

Not only did the financial crisis of 2007-08 not bring a sense of urgency to the Trotskyists – that they need to take serious steps towards rebuilding the movement and the heritage they claim to uphold (theoretically, politically, organisationally and in terms of orientation and roots in the workers’ vanguard) – but they carried on in the old way, with disastrous consequences. Since 2007-08 there have been two major splits in the IMT (plus others in its national sections); two in the CWI (International Socialist Alternative and International Revolutionary Left); one in the Union Communiste Internationaliste [i.e., the groups around Lutte Ouvrier], a few splits in the IST [which includes the British SWP] and finally, in the short life of the ISA, one split and a number of disaffiliations. There are doubtless more.

What is even more tragic is that these small groups – for we are all small when measured up against the tasks facing us – spend a lot of their very limited resources in denouncing their rivals, including many of their former comrades in arms.

The third phenomenon is the growth of new reformist parties, fronts and coalitions. With the traditional reformist parties, be they social democratic, labourite or Stalinist, because of the decades of collaboration with the capitalist class, including taking seats in cabinets or even forming governments, many of these have become discredited among workers and other exploited and oppressed masses. This has become even more marked in countries where the traditional reformist parties have either supported or themselves implemented neoliberal cuts and are seen as essentially the same as the right-wing parties – despite the working-class origins of many members and even leaders, or the heroic historical roots of the organisations (like fighting Fascists, Nazi occupation and so on).

When given the only legal choice available in bourgeois society – a ballot paper – they no longer automatically vote SPD, Socialist, Communist or Labour. So, while disgust with the status quo in capitalist society has grown, and the masses are thinking about alternatives, the old parties have seen their memberships decline and the level of participation by the remaining members drop.

With the old class-collaborationist parties discredited, new combinations and coalitions of forces, like Syriza in Greece, have stepped in to save the capitalist system. They have slashed wages, pensions, benefits, rights and whatever the capitalist class has demanded of them.

The fourth phenomenon is the growth of extreme right-wing or racist tendencies, even fascistic ones, in many advanced capitalist and imperialist countries. And as the crisis of the capitalist system continues, new hybrids are being tried as temporary solutions: e. g., right-wing parties and politicians that combine or include elements of traditional social-democratic welfare (or higher state spending) within their overall right-wing agenda (as with Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.

Even though their class character may be obvious to workers and the poor, many are willing “to give them a try” and have voted for Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson and so on.

While the revolutionary left is very weak and traditional reformism has become bankrupt, the bourgeoisie has presented two alternatives: a new and fresh reformism (to carry on the attacks) and also right-wing movements that seem to be “rebelling” against “the Establishment”. Both pose false ways out of the crisis, with the first particularly dangerous to the independent outlook of the working-class movement and the second with the potential to become physically dangerous to working class organisations as the crisis continues and deepens.

Putting these four contradictory phenomena side by side helps us reach one conclusion: the masses are ready for the fundamental socialist change but the Marxists are in crisis and are not able to intervene and lead the masses in order to reach their objective, which is the total smashing of the capitalist states and establishment of socialism.

To surmount this appalling situation today, the Marxists need to seek a solution. The solution is the same as the one that worked during Marx’s time: to update and to evolve the science of the proletariat’s liberation (scientific socialism, which is the same as Marxism) and to break away from all the elitist and utopian tendencies hindering Marxism, using the critical-revolutionary-practical method.

September 2021



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