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Karen Timofeev
Karen Timofeev

You Can't Lie To Me: The Revolutionary Program ...

We are not dealing here with a hypothetical Labor Party, arising from a young rebellious and still partially democratic trade-union upsurge, similar to the one Trotsky projected in the late Thirties for the USA in relation to the rise of the CIO. We are talking about a social-democratic party, with a programme well to the right of even British social-democracy, not to speak of the French and Italian socialist parties. We are talking about politicians who abhor revolution, extra-parliamentary struggles for overthrowing capitalism, and whose horizon is totally limited to that of winning reforms within the framework of capitalist economy and the bourgeois state.

You can't lie to me: The revolutionary program ...

If we reject any theory of stages even ini backward colonial and semi-colonial countries, we have to reject them all the more in advanced imperialist countries, in which unsolved problems of national oppression survive or newly arise. As Trotsky pointed out in The Transitional Programme, even in fascist countries, a revolutionary programme should base itself on the dialectics of the class struggle, and not on episodic aspects of the political superstructure:

The fact that this is the only conference that has been called to mobilize the working class in defense of its jobs, living standards and basic rights proves two things: first, the defense of the labor movement today requires nothing less than a political insurrection of the working class against the entire rotten structure of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy; and second, in the course of the struggle to drive the bureaucrats out of the trade unions, it is necessary to rejuvenate the labor movement with revolutionary socialist policies. Indeed, the program of socialist revolution is the only alternative which provides the working class with the means to defend its interests against the catastrophe which capitalism is now preparing for the overwhelming mass of mankind.

The first lie that has to be answered is the claim that the collapse of the Stalinist regimes represents the death of socialism. The regimes which have collapsed or are in the process of collapsing never were socialist. The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China have been ruled by bureaucracies whose programs and practices have been diametrically opposed to the fundamental teachings of Marxism and the essential principles of socialism. The great Marxists who led the Russian Revolution of October 1917 insisted that the victory of socialism was only possible through the unified international struggle of the world proletariat against capitalism. At the time of the revolution, Russia was an extremely backward country. The vast majority of its population consisted of peasants. But the development of socialism is only possible on the basis of the most advanced industry and scientific technology. While the revolution could create the initial conditions for the industrial transformation of Soviet Russia and the social and cultural elevation of its impoverished and illiterate masses, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and Trotsky insisted that the development of the Soviet Union into a socialist society was inextricably linked to the successes of the international working class, especially in the advanced countries, and the eventual overthrow of capitalism on a world scale.

This revolutionary internationalist program came under attack within the Soviet Union by a growing bureaucratic caste led by Stalin, who in 1924 advanced the reactionary anti-Marxist perspective of building socialism in a single country. That is, he advanced a program which claimed that socialism could be achieved in economically backward Soviet Russia regardless of the fate of the international class struggle.

As the historic contradiction between the world economy and nation-state system is undermining the stability of world capitalism, this same contradiction is having the most devastating impact on the working class movement in every country. The days in which the labor movements of different countries could win certain improvements in the conditions of workers on the basis of national reform programs are over. Not only is it impossible to build socialism in an isolated country; it is impossible to defend the reforms won in the past by workers in the capitalist countries on the basis of a national program. Under conditions of intense economic competition, the bourgeoisie of every country strives to strengthen its position against its rivals. Multinational corporations scour the globe to pay the lowest wages possible; and, in turn, use their ability to produce cheaply overseas to drive down the wages and living standards of the workers in their own country.

Thus, it is impossible for the workers of any one country to effectively fight internationally-organized capital on the basis of a purely national program. Precisely because workers in every country confront multinational organizations engaged in transnational production, the struggles of the working class cannot be effective, let alone successful, without the international unity of the working class in a common fight against internationally organized capital.

And this brings us to the essential message of this conference: the crisis confronting the working class, in the United States and internationally, is a crisis of perspective and it is a crisis of program. If the labor movement here and internationally is being thrown backwards, if the gains of past decades are being wiped out, if the specter of mass impoverishment haunts workers even in countries where a relatively high standard of living was the norm, it is because the old national programs upon which the labor movements have been traditionally based are exhausted and bankrupt. There does not exist a single country where the labor movement can insulate itself from the pressure of the world market and its impact on the national economy.

There is only one answer for the working class: it must adopt a new international program aimed at unifying the workers of the world on the basis of a revolutionary socialist program. There is no solution to the crisis confronting the working class except one based on a program which proceeds from the scientific recognition of both the primacy of the world economy and the international character of the working class. Thus, the real lines of battle within the labor movement of every country is between those who advance the program of socialist internationalism, and the reactionary bureaucrats who peddle the bankrupt slogan of nationalism and chauvinism. There is no middle road. Either the working class unifies its forces on an international scale and puts an end to the anarchy of capitalism; or capitalism will put an end to the working class and to civilization itself.

As a Marxist party, we advance a scientific program. We are not political charlatans and political witch doctors. We tell the working class the truth and we base ourselves not on moods, but on the most objective processes in the world economy. We recognized in calling and preparing this conference that the crisis of leadership today is greater than ever. We cannot begin with the illusions, the confusion, the discouragement or the frustration of the masses, but with a scientific analysis and a program that expresses the objective interests of the working class. We understand that we confront a very difficult struggle. But we have a historical perspective. Mankind is marching forward, not backward. History develops through contradictions and man can only move forward by smashing through tremendous obstacles. It is the job of the most class-conscious elements within the working class, that is, the Trotskyists, to do what they have done for decades: to indicate the correct line of struggle for the working class. The explosive contradictions of world capitalism are maturing. And the surprises which overtook the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe will soon overtake imperialism in the advanced countries and in the backward countries, where the conditions of capitalism are already intolerable for the overwhelming majority of the population.

We are confident in the victory of our program because it alone shows the way forward for the working class. It is at this time that the struggle for this program assumes the greatest historical significance. It would be very easy if a scientific program always corresponded to the moods of the masses, but in that case, there would be no need for a party. If it was possible for masses of workers to instinctively understand the source of their oppression, if the inner contradictions of capitalism and their implications could be grasped spontaneously in the consciousness of workers, there would be no need for a party fighting on the basis of a scientific program. There is a contradiction between scientific thought and the spontaneous thought of masses of people. But in order to prepare for the future, it is necessary today to fight for a correct political line. It is our job to explain the nature of the crisis confronting the working class movement and restore the confidence of the working class in the viability of the socialist program. The objective contradictions of capitalism will drive the working class into revolutionary struggles; and we must prepare the vanguard forces, deeply rooted in the masses, who will provide the necessary leadership.

What we are outlining today is a scientific program, a program which must be fought for with confidence and conviction in the working class movement, and what we decide today and how we carry forward the perspectives of this conference into the working class will prepare the next stage of the revolutionary offensive of the working class.

Enlightenment philosophy accelerated the descent towards the concrete insofar as the concrete was in some ways brought to power with the revolutionary bourgeoisie. From the ruin of Heaven, man fell into the ruins of his own world. What happened? Something like this: ten thousand people are convinced that they have seen a fakir's rope rise into the air, while as many cameras prove that it hasn't moved an inch. Scientific objectivity exposes mystification. Very good, but what does it show us? A coiled rope, of absolutely no interest. I have little to choose between the doubtful pleasure of being mystified and the tedium of contemplating a reality which does not concern me. A reality which I have no grasp on, isn't this the old lie re-conditioned, the ultimate stage of mystification? 041b061a72


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