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REVIVE THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM (english)
by Workers World
Email: boston (nospam) workers.org
04 Nov 2003
REVIVE THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM
By Larry Holmes
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 30, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
REVIVE THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM
By Larry Holmes
The following is excerpted from a talk given by Holmes, a member of
Workers World Party's Secretariat, to a Sept. 20 meeting in New York
What are our big problems as activists, militants, socialists and all
revolutionaries, both in the United States and around the world? Well,
there is U.S. imperialism, which is on the rampage, unchecked. There's
Bush. There is this deepening capitalist crisis, which is intensifying
exploitation and oppression. There are unprecedented dangers for a world at the mercy of a new violent and destructive phase of imperialism.
But that's just one side of the problem.
The other aspect of the problem is on our side of the class barrier.
Those of us in the socialist movement with an anti-imperialist,
revolutionary outlook--whatever the political differences among parties and organizations that have managed to hold onto a generally
revolutionary perspective and play a key role in organizing the
surprisingly strong mass resistance to U.S imperialism's endless war--
such organizations, and we count ourselves among them, are waging an
uphill battle to attain real political influence within the broad
working class, the unions, and the mass movement.
The seriousness of the world crises has made us sharply aware that we
must find the way to strengthen our position among the workers,
especially those who are becoming radicalized and who are in motion.
This is in order to wage a far more effective and bolder class struggle to answer the day-in, day-out class war waged against us by an unstable capitalist system ever more prone to resort to economic and military war against the people of the planet.
The reality is that our class worldwide, but especially here at the
center of U.S. imperialism, needs strong leadership and strong
organizations. If this problem is avoided or denied it will only leave
the working class more and more disoriented, disorganized, immobilized
and at the mercy of bourgeois ideology.
NEW ANGER RISING
Today in the United States, even after what has seemed like an endless
mood of defensiveness and passivity on the part of key sectors of the
working class, a new anger is rising from below. It is there, from the
tens of thousands of striking grocery workers to the legions of new
immigrant workers who have brought new militancy and a high level of
class consciousness to the many industries in which they have become the predominant force.
And it's scaring the hell out of a capitalist establishment that for
quite some time has been convinced that it has the workers under
The question must be asked: Can the vanguard organizations help this new tide of struggle, influence it, help sustain it and foster meaningful solidarity with it? The answer is clear. Only if we strengthen ourselves to the point where we can go on the offensive politically--or more to the point, advance the struggle for socialism.
Many of us who are serious about socialism have felt like we were on the defensive. But the event of course that accentuated this problem and pushed it to a higher level, made it an even deeper crisis, was the collapse of the Soviet Union. As we look back to 1991, we might say that this event signified the beginning of a new obstacle for the struggle for socialism. In many ways, we have been waiting for the opportunity to open up a new chapter in the struggle for worldwide socialism.
There is reason to believe that now is such a time.
There is a relatively large political movement that has been radicalized and mobilized by the war. There have been huge demonstrations like the ones last spring. This movement needs a worldwide revolutionary socialist perspective. Armed with such a perspective, the movement will be far better prepared to uphold real internationalism in the struggle.
What this means is the ability to see the struggle against the war as
not merely the desire for peace, or merely important because of the toll it has taken on the lives of U.S. soldiers or the enormous amount of money that has been wasted on it.
There is nothing wrong with those reasons for opposing war and
occupation. But the movement cannot sustain itself, comprehend events
and remain independent unless it clearly sees itself as part of a world movement to defeat imperialism and to support the liberation struggle of all who find themselves under the thumb of imperialism. It is ultimately impossible to uphold such a position unless you see the struggle as a means to replace imperialism with a fundamentally different social order that acts in the interests of humanity.
If there is not a broad socialist movement with strong organizations
that one way or another is influencing the struggle in that direction,
then it should come as no surprise that some opponents of the war
conclude: "Why not have the United Nations come in and take over Iraq?
True, the UN is dominated by imperialist powers, but what's the
alternative? At least the U.S. role would be diminished."
The imperialists act in their own interests. But if there is no
alternative world struggle for socialism that has growing influence in
the mass movement, why would someone not conclude that the best course
for the Liberian people is for the imperialists to come there, save
them, bring them food, stabilize the situation to reduce deaths and
And of course the same holds true for the electoral struggle. If there
is no alternative socialist struggle, then why should one not be for the Democratic party presidential candidates as the only pragmatic solution to Bush? Even the most militant activists and revolutionaries with good hearts, who love the struggle, are affected by this.
FROM ANTI-CAPITALIST TO SOCIALIST
I often pick up "High Tech, Low Pay," by Workers World Party founder Sam Marcy. He wrote that the new crisis in the labor unions, which comes as a result of an entirely new phase of the capitalist economy--
restructuring engineered by the intervention of technology--is pushing
down wages and permanently eliminating jobs on a worldwide basis.
And he pointed out how this development has the potential of
radicalizing the working-class movement. It brings to the fore a new
composition of labor.
In order to fight back against these changes in the economy, it is
necessary to move from the limitations of trade unionism to a more bold, revolutionary, political approach--both tactically and programmatically.
In other words, an approach more consistent with an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist perspective.
In so many ways, the critical question of how to advance the worldwide
socialist movement affects the tenor and tone of the struggle, of
politics, in the labor movement at every level. It affects the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement, the struggle of colonized countries and peoples--indeed the world class struggle between the mass of exploited and oppressed, and the infinitely smaller but all-too-powerful class of exploiters and oppressors.
What can we do to open up a new chapter in the struggle to revive the
world struggle for socialism?
This is a central responsibility for revolutionary organizations and for the broader movement in the United States. Because as the detachment of the movement located at the center of U.S. imperialism, we have an extra obligation to be strong, to be unflinching internationalists, to do all that we can in the class struggle at home, the anti-war struggle at home--but also to embrace and demonstrate concrete solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the globe who are fighting the imperialist empire.
Actually this is not a duty; it is a privilege that we embrace fully.
How do we go about taking this task to the next level? Strengthening our work in the anti-imperialist movement is certainly a big part of this. And so is finding new and bold ways to engage and help the process of radicalizing the broader workers' movement.
A big problem that the movement will be grappling with for the next 12
months is the pressure to close itself down, suspend demonstrations, and focus solely on defeating President Bush in the 2004 election. The broad problem with being drawn into the "lesser of evils" desperation is that the problem is not merely Bush or Rumsfeld or any of the other scary "neo-cons" running the war.
It's imperialism. And it's the deepening crises that drive this
malignant system toward catastrophic acts no matter who's in the White
The more practical problem is the danger that the movement will abandon its struggle against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the huge funding that Congress just approved for the war, and virtually put itself on ice until after the elections. It's a mistake that is far more likely to be made by those in the movement who have concluded that their only alternative is to choose between imperialist politicians, because they lack another direction--a world direction, a socialist direction.
Actually, both the UN Security Council that rubberstamped the U.S.
occupation of Iraq, and the U.S. Congress that rubberstamped Bush's
request for a fortune to pay for bombs, bullets and more death and
destruction, have shown once again that they are no brake on the war.
They are flunkies for it.
Is there another alternative we can rely on to stop endless wars and
We saw a glimpse of the working-class movement on a worldwide basis
asserting itself on the scene last spring. Remember those incredible
massive marches to stop the war?
New York Times writer Patrick Tyler wrote a front-page article about
these demonstrations in which he compared the literally tens of millions of people who took to the streets to a "second superpower." Tyler was earning his pay by warning the powers that be that the movement could become a force more powerful than the UN or any alliance of government leaders. And that force was the mass of the people worldwide rising up from below in a way that no one has seen in a long time, if ever.
Such a force could tear down the old order and build a new order,
a socialist one. This is the direction we must move in.
In December 2003, Workers World Party will be hosting a conference with the theme "How Can the Worldwide Struggle for Socialism Be Revived?"
This conference will be a small but timely step through which we hope to engage activists in a serious discussion, at a time when the mass
struggle is showing signs of new life, about how those who share the
dream of a new world can go on the offensive.
- END -
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