The French Revolution Didn’t Start on Bastille Day: Peter Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”

In the United States, workers have long been taught to believe that the greatest revolution of all times was of course the American Revolution of 1776 which overthrew monarchical rule in favor of the rule of the nascent bourgeoisie and landed slave-owning aristocracy of the thirteen English colonies in the New World.  But as world-historic and impressive as that revolution was, it was almost immediately surpassed by the much more thorough-going revolution it inspired in that King-ruled nation whose military aid to the American colonial rebels was the chief reason why the colonies won the war against Great Britain: France.

The military aid which the French King Louis XVI gave to the Americans essentially won the war for the revolutionaries when the French Navy – some 29 ships strong – appeared in Chesapeake Bay to slam the door shut on any hope Cornwallis had of escaping the trap that had been sprung upon him by George Washington and the numerically superior French troops and their officers at Yorktown in 1781.  There were more French soldiers with artillery present on the battlefield at this “Great American Victory” than there were Americans (up to 8800 French vs 8000 Americans – not counting the decisive 29 French ships of the line and their crews).  The French very magnanimously allowed Washington the honor of accepting Cornwallis’ surrender.

Yet the French aid to the American revolution came at a high cost for the French monarchy whose finances, in a precarious condition even before the American Revolution began, were driven to the breaking point by the war with England that was a result of the French aid to the rebellious colonists.  A series of bad harvests in France further reduced the taxes that could be levied on the people of France and created bread riots in their wake.  The ruthless French monarchy’s response to these uprisings of the starving French peasants for bread led to the collapse of support for the French monarchy which led inexorably to its complete collapse in 1789.

The story of how the economic and political crisis in France grew into one of the world’s greatest revolutions has received perhaps its greatest literary tribute by Russian anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in his book “The Great French Revolution”.  This book, which was recommended by none other than Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the even further-reaching Russian Bolshevik Revolution  whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year.  It was Lenin’s recommendation that put us on the trail of this book and we are pleased to present a chapter taken from the first volume of “The Great French Revolution” in which Kropotkin shows that the French revolution had roots that went far deeper into the French working class and peasantry than the American Revolution, whose leadership was from the beginning of hostilities dominated by the landed slaveowning aristocracy of the south and the wealthy merchants of the north.  Whenever the spirits of the revolutionary bourgeoisie sagged during the struggle against the counterrevolutionary forces of the deposed aristocracy of France, it was the poor workers – the sans-culottes – and the French peasantry who demanded that the most radical and intransigent revolutionaries be pushed forward into the key positions of leadership of the Revolution.  We hope you enjoy Chapter V – “The Spirit of Revolt: The Riots” from Volume One of Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”.  — IWPCHI

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Excerpt from “The Great French Revolution” by Prince Peter Kropotkin

Chapter V: The Spirit of Revolt – The Riots

As is usual in every new reign, that of Louis XVI. began with some reforms. Two months after his accession Louis XVI. summoned Turgot1 to the ministry, and a month later he appointed him Controller-General of Finance.  He even supported him at first against the violent opposition that Turgot, as an economist, a parsimonious middle-class man and an enemy of the effete aristocracy, was bound to meet with from the Court party.

  Free trade in corn was proclaimed in September 1774,2 and statute labor was abolished in 1776, as well as the old corporations and guilds in the towns, which were no longer of any use except to keep up a kind of industrial autocracy, and by these measures hopes of reform were awakened among the people.  The poor rejoiced to see the breaking down of the toll-gates, which had been put up all over France, and prevented the free circulation of corn, salt and other objects of prime necessity. For them it meant the first breach in the odious privileges of the landowners […]

Finally, in August of 1779, mortmain and personal servitude were suppressed upon the King’s private estates, and the following year it was decided to abolish torture, which was used in the most atrocious forms established by the Ordinance of 1670.4  “Representative Government,” such as was established by the English after their revolution,5 and was advocated in the writings of the contemporary philosophers, also began to be spoken of.  With this end in view, Turgot had even prepared a scheme of provincial assemblies, to be followed later on by representative government for all France in which the propertied classes would have been called upon to constitute a parliament. Louis XVI. shrank from this proposal, and dismissed Turgot; but from that moment all educated France began to talk of a Constitution and national representation.6  However, it was no longer possible to elude the question of national representation, and when Necker7 became minister in July 1777, it came up again for discussion.  Necker, who understood very well the wishes of his master, and tried to bring his autocratic ideas into some accord with the requirements of finance, attempted to manoeuvre by proposing the introduction of provincial assemblies only and relegating the possibility of a national representation to the distant future.  But he, too, was met by a formal refusal on the part of the King. “Would it not be a happy contingency,” wrote the crafty financier, “that your Majesty, having become an intermediary between your estates and your people, your authority should only appear to mark the limits between severity and justice?”  To which Louis replied: “It is of the essence of my authority not to be an intermediary, but to be at the head.” It is well to remember these words in view of the sentimentalities concerning Louis XVI. which have been propagated by historians belonging to the party of reaction. Far from being the careless, inoffensive, good-natured person, interested only in hunting, that they wished to represent him, Louis XVI., for fifteen years, until 1789, managed to resist the necessity, felt and declared, for new political reforms to take the place of royal despotism and the abominations of the old regime.

  The weapon used by Louis XVI., in preference to all others was deceit. Only fear made him yield, and, using always the same weapons, deceit and hypocrisy, he resisted not only up to 1789, but even up to the last moment, to the foot of the scaffold. At any rate, in 1778, at a time when it was already evident to all minds of more or less perspicacity, as it was to Turgot and Necker, that the absolute power of the King had had its day, and that the hour had come for replacing it by some kind of national representation, Louis XVI. could never be
brought to make any but the feeblest concessions. He convened the provincial assemblies of the provinces of Berri and Haute-Guienne (1778 and 1779). But in the face of the opposition shown by the privileged classes, the plan of extending these assemblies to the other provinces was abandoned, and Necker was dismissed in 1781.

  The revolution in America had, meanwhile, helped also to awaken minds,
and to inspire them with a breath of liberty and republican democracy. On July 4, 1776, the English colonies in North America had proclaimed their independence, and the new United States were recognized by France in 1778, which led to a war with England that lasted until 1783.  All historians mention the effect which this war had on men’s minds.  There is, in fact, no doubt that the revolt of the English colonies and the constitution of the United States
exercised a far-reaching influence in France, and helped powerfully in arousing the revolutionary spirit.  We know, too, that the Declaration of Rights, drawn up by the young American States influenced the French revolutionists profoundly, and was taken by them as a model for their declaration.  It might be said also that the war in America, during which France had to build an entire fleet to oppose England’s, completed the financial ruin of the old
regime and
hastened its downfall.  But it is nevertheless certain that this war was also the beginning of those terrible wars which England soon waged against France, and the coalitions which she organised against the Republic.  As soon as England recovered from her defeats and felt that France was weakened by internal struggles, she used every means, open and secret, to bring about the wars which we shall see waged relentlessly from 1793 till 1815.

  All these causes for the Great Revolution8 must be clearly indicated, for like every event of primordial importance, it was the result of many causes, converging at a given moment, and creating the men who in their turn contributed to strengthening the effect of those causes.  But it must be understood that in spite of the events which prepared the Revolution, and in
spite of all the intelligence and ambitions of the middle classes, those ever-prudent people who would have would have gone on a long time waiting for a change if the people had not hastened matters.  The popular revolts, growing and increasing in number and assuming proportions quite unforeseeen, were the new elements which gave the middle class the power of attack which they themselves did not possess.

  The people had patiently endured misery and oppression under Louis XV.,
but as soon as that King died, in 1774, they began to revolt, knowing well that, with a change of masters at the palace, there comes an inevitable slackening of authority.  A continuous series of riots broke out between 1775 and 1777.

  These were the riots of hunger that had been repressed until then only by force. The harvest of 1774 had been bad, and bread was scarce.  Accordingly rioting broke out in April 1775.  At Dijon the people took possession of the homes of the monopolists, destroyed their furniture and smashed up their flour-mills.  It was on this occasion that the governor of the town – one of the superfine gentlemen of whom Taine has written with so much complacence – said to the people those fatal words which were so often to be repeated during the Revolution: “The grass has sprouted, go to the fields and browse on it.”  Auxerre, Amiens, Lille, followed Dijon.  A few days later the “robbers,” for so the majority of historians designate the famished rioters, having assembled at Pontoise, Passy and Saint-Germain with the intention of pillaging the granaries, turned their steps toward Versailles. Louis XVI. wanted to go out on the balcony of the palace to speak to them, to tell them that he would reduce the price of bread; but Turgot, like a true economist, opposed this. The reduction in the price of bread was not made. The “robbers,” in the meantime, entered Paris
and plundered the bakeries, distributing whatever food they could seize among the crowd; but they were dispersed by the troops, and two of the rioters were hanged at the Place de la Greve, and as they were being hanged they cried out that they were dying for the people.  Since that time the legend began to circulate in France about “robbers” overrunning the country – a legend that had such an important effect in 1789, as it furnished the middle classes in the
towns with a pretext for arming themselves.  And from that time also began the placards insulting the King and his ministers which were pasted up at Versailles, containing threats to execute the King the day after his coronation, and even to exterminate the whole of the royal family if bread remained at the same price. Forged governmental edicts, too, began to be circulated throughout the country. One of them asserted that the State Council had reduced the price of wheat
to twelve livres (francs) the measure.

  These riots were of course suppressed, but they had far-reaching consequences. Strife was let loose among the various parties. It rained pamphlets. Some of these accused the minister, while others spoke of a plot of the princes against the King, or made fun of the royal authority.  In short, with men’s minds already in a state of ferment, the popular outbreaks were the sparks which ignited the powder.  Concessions to the people, never dreamed of before, were openly discussed; public works were set on foot; taxes on milling were abolished, and this measure led the people of Rouen to declare that all manorial dues had been abolished, so that they rose in July to protest against ever paying them again.  The malcontents evidently lost no time and profited by the occasion to extend the popular risings.

  We have not the necessary documents for giving a full account of the popular insurrections during the reign of Louis XVI. – the historians did not trouble about them; the archives have not been examined, and it is only by accident that we learn that in such-and-such a place there were “disorders”.  Thus, there were riots of a somewhat serious nature in Paris, after the abolition of the trade-guilds in 17769 – and all over France, in the course of the same year – as a result of the false reports respecting the abolition of all obligations in
the matter of statute labor10 and dues claimed by the landowners.  But, according to the printed documents, it would appear also that there was a decrease in rioting in the years 1777 to 1783, the American war having perhaps something to do with this.

  However, in 1782 and 1783, the riots recommenced and from that time went on increasing until the Revolution. Poitiers revolted in 1782; in 1786 it was Vizille’s turn; from 1783 to 1789 rioting broke out in the Cevennes, the Vivarais and the Gevaudan. The malcontents, who were nicknamed mascarats, wanting
to punish the “practitioners” who sowed dissension among the peasants to incite them to go to law, broke into the law courts and into the houses of the notaries and attorneys and burned all the deeds and contracts. Three of the leaders were hanged, others were sent to penal servitude, but the disorders broke out afresh, as soon as the closing of the
parlements (Courts of Justice) furnished them with a new precedent11.  In 1786 it was Lyons that revolted12.
The silk-weavers went on strike; they were promised an increase of wages, but troops were called out, whereupon there was a fight and three of the leaders were hanged.  From that moment, up to the Revolution, Lyons became a hotbed of revolt, and in 1789 it was the rioters of 1786 who were chosen as electors.

  Sometimes these risings had a religious character; sometimes they were to
resist military enlistment – every levy of soldiers led to a riot, says Turgot; or it might be the salt tax against which the people rebelled, or the exactions of the tithes.  But revolts went on without intermission, and it was in the east, south-east and north-east – future hotbeds of the Revolution – that these revolts broke out in the greatest number.  They went on steadily growing in importance, and at last, in 1788, after the dissolution of the Courts of Justice,
which were called
parlements and were replaced by “Plenary Courts,” insurrections broke out in every part of France.

  It is evident that for the mass of the people there was not much to choose between a parlement and a “Plenary Court.”  If the parlements had refused sometimes to register edicts made by the King and his minister, they had on the other hand displayed no solicitude for the people. But the parlements had
shown opposition to the Court, that was enough; and when emissaries of the middle classes sought popular support for rioting, they were given it willingly, because it was a way of demonstrating against the Court and the rich.

  In the June of 1787 the Paris parlement had made itself very popular by refusing a grant of money to the Court.  The law of the country was that the edicts of the King should be registered by the parlement, and the Paris parlement unhesitatingly registered certain edicts concerning the corn trade, the convocation of provincial assemblies and statute labor.  But it refused to
register the edict which was to establish fresh taxes – a new “territorial subvention,” and a new stamp duty. Upon this the King convoked what was called a “Bed of Justice,” and compelled his edicts to be registered.  The
parlement protested, and so won the sympathy of the middle classes and the people.  There were crowds round the Courts at every sitting; clerks, curious idlers and common men collected there to applaud the members.  To stop this,
the King banished the
parlement to Troyes, and then riotous demonstrations began in Paris.  The popular hatred was then being directed against the princes chiefly, especially against the Duke d’Artois and the Queen, who was nicknamed “Madame Deficit”.

  The Exchequer Court of Paris (Cour des Aides), supported by the popular outburst, as well as by the provincial parlements and the Court of Justice, protested against this act of royal power, and, as the agitation was growing, the King was compelled to recall the exiled parlement.  This was done on September 9, and evoked fresh demonstrations in Paris, during which the minister Calonne13 was burnt in effigy.

  These disturbances were chiefly confined to the lower middle classes.
But in other localities they assumed a more popular character.

  In 1788 insurrections broke out in Brittany.  When the military commander
of Rennes and the Governor of the province went to the Breton
parlement to
announce the edict by which that body was abolished, the whole town turned out immediately.  The crowd insulted and hustled the two functionaries.  The people in their hearts hated the Governor, Bertrand de Moleville, and the middle classes profited by this to spread a rumor that the edict was all owing to the Governor.  “He is a monster that deserves to be strangled,” said one of the leaflets distributed among the crowd.  When he came out of the palace, therefore, they pelted him with stones, and after several attempts some one threw a cord with a slip-knot over him.  Fighting was about to begin – the young men in the crowd breaking through the ranks of soldiers – when an officer threw down his sword and fraternised with the people.

  By degrees troubles of the same kind broke out in several other towns in
Brittany, and the peasants rose in their turn when grain was being shipped at Quimper, Saint-Brieuc, Morlaix, Pont-l’Abbe, Lamballe and other places.  It is interesting to note the active part taken in these disorders by the students at Rennes, who from that time fraternised with the rioters14.  In Dauphine, especially at Grenoble, the insurrection assumed a still more serious character. As soon as the military commander, Clermont-Tonnerre, had promulgated the edict which dissolved the
parlement the people of Grenoble rose.  The tocsin was rung, and the alarm spreading quickly to the neighboring villages, the peasants hastened in crowds to the town.  There was a sanguinary affray and many were killed.  The commander’s guard was helpless and his palace was sacked.  Clermont-Tonnerre, with an axe held over his head, had to revoke the
royal edict.

  It was the people, and chiefly the women, who acted on this occasion.  As
to the members of the
parlement, the people had a good deal of trouble to find them.  They hid themselves, and wrote to Paris that the people had risen against their will, and when the people laid hands on them they were kept
prisoners – their presence giving an air of legality to the insurrection.  The women mounted guard over these arrested members, unwilling to trust them even to the men, lest they should be allowed to escape.

  The middle classes of Grenoble were in a state of terror.  During the night they organized a militia of citizens that took possession of the town gates as well as of some military posts, which they yielded to the troops soon after.  Cannon were trained on the rebels, while the parlement took advantage of the darkness to disappear.  From June 9 to 14 reaction triumphed, but on the 14th news came that there had been a rising at Besancon and that the Swiss soldiers had refused to fire on the people.  Upon this the people’s spirit revived, and it was proposed to convoke the Estates of the province.  But fresh reinforcements of troops having been sent from Paris the disturbance subsided by degrees.  The
agitation, however, kept up chiefly by the women, lasted some time longer15.

  Besides these two risings mentioned by the majority of the historians, many others broke out at the same time in Provence, Languedoc, Rousillon, Bearn, Flanders, Franche-Comte and Burgundy.  Even where no serious riots occurred advantage was taken of the prevailing excitement to keep up the discontent and to make demonstrations.

  At Paris, after the dismissal of the Archbishop of Sens, there were numerous demonstrations.  The Pont Neuf was guarded by troops, and several conflicts occurred between them and the people, of whom the leaders were, as Bertrand de Moleville remarks16, “those who later on took part in all the popular movements of the Revolution.”  Marie-Antoinette’s letter to the Count de Mercy should also be read in this connection.  It is dated August 24, 1788, and in it she tells him of her fears, and announces the retirement of the Archbishop of Sens and the steps she had taken to recall Necker; the effect produced on the Court by those riotous crowds can therefore be understood.  The Queen foresaw that this recall of Necker would lessen the King’s authority; she feared “that they may be compelled to nominate a prime minister,” but “the moment is pressing. It is very essential that Necker should accept.”171819

  Three weeks later, September 14, 1788, when the retirement of Lamoignon
became known, the riotings were renewed.  The mob rushed to set fire to the houses of the two ministers, Lamoignon and Brienne, as well as to that of Dubois.  The troops were called out, and in the Rue Melee and the Rue de Grenelle there was a horrible slaughter of people who could not defend themselves.  Dubois fled from Paris.  “The people themselves would execute justice,” said
Les deux amis de la liberte.  Later, still, in October 1788, when the parlement that had been banished to Troyes was recalled, “the clerks and the
populace” illuminated the Place Dauphine for several evenings in succession. They demanded money from the passers-by to expend on fireworks, and forced gentlemen to alight from their carriages to salute the statue of Henri Quatre20.
Figures representing Calonne, Breteuil21 and the Duchess de Polignac22
were burned.  It was also proposed to burn the Queen in effigy.  These riotous assemblies gradually spread to other quarters, and troops were sent to disperse them.  Blood was shed and many were killed in the Place de la Greve.  Those who were arrested, however, were tried by the
parlement judges, who let them off with light penalties.

  In this way the revolutionary spirit awoke and developed in the van of
the Great Revolution23.  The initiative came from the middle classes certainly – chiefly from the lower middle classes – but, generally speaking, the middle
classes took care not to compromise themselves, and the number of them who opposed the Court, more or less openly, before the convoking of the States-General was very limited.  If there had only been their few attempts at resistance France might have waited many years for the overthrow of royal despotism.  Fortunately a thousand circumstances impelled the masses to revolt.  And in spite of the fact that after every outbreak there were summary hangings, wholesale arrests and even torture for those arrested, the people did revolt, pressed on one side by their desperate misery, and spurred on by the
vague hopes of which the old woman spoke to Arthur Young24.  They rose in numbers against the Governors of provinces, tax-collectors, salt-tax agents and even against the troops, and by so doing completely disorganized the governmental machine.

  From 1788 the peasant risings became so general that it was impossible to provide for the expenses of the State, and Louis XVI., after having refused for fourteen years to convoke the representatives of the nation, lest his Kingly authority should suffer, at last found himself compelled to convoke, first the two Assemblies of Notables, and finally the States-General.

Source:
Prince Peter Kropotkin, “The Great French Revolution” Volume I,
Vanguard Press, May 1929 (2 volumes). Transcription by IWPCHI.

1Anne
Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) – Known colloquially as “Turgot”
– French “progressive” economist and statesman. Appointed
Controller-General of Finance by Louis XVI, he proposed reforms to
the French system of government that would have created a
parliamentary system under a constitutional monarchy – and was
dismissed by Louis XVI as a result. Though he generally supported
its political ideals he unsuccessfully opposed French financial
support for the American revolutionary war “on grounds of
economy”. He ruthlessly suppressed the ‘guerre des farines’
(literally, ‘war of flour’ translated into English as ‘bread
riots’) that took place throughout France in May of 1775 as a
direct result of Turgot’s laissez-faire economic reforms of the
grain markets which led (then and now) to commodities speculators
buying up and hoarding grain in order to drive up prices (Turgot was
thus forced to abandon his own economic principles and restore state
control of the grain market). As an economist he was (is?)
considered to be an adherent to the “physiocratic” school of
economic theory in which agrarian, rural modes of production were
extolled as being morally superior to the pre-capitalist
manufacturing that was beginning to take place in major cities and
towns. This philosophy was perfectly suited to its time and the
predominance of agricultural over pre-industrial production under
late feudal period of European history. The Physiocrats proposed an
early form of laissez-faire economics that was based on rural
agriculture and on the idea that what motivated economic actors to
produce goods was primarily their pursuit of their own personal
interests; they imagined that by simply allowing free trade to exist
a balance would be achieved between the producers and their
exploiters (owners of land and merchants) which would allow everyone
to prosper. This completely discredited idea that free trade leads
to a more perfect and fair balance of trade between workers and
their exploiters is still one of the fundamental – and weakest –
‘principles’ of economics extolled by capitalist economists in
the 21st century. Turgot was one of the co-discoverers of
a fundamental truth of economic theory – the “law of diminishing
returns” – in which “successive applications of the variable
input will cause the product to grow, first at an increasing rate,
later at a diminishing rate until it reaches a maximum.” By
appointing Turgot as Controller -General Louis XVI was signalling
his own openness to progressive reforms of the French monarchical
system. The representatives sent to France by the 13 British
colonies that were to become the United States were so completely
taken in by this apparent openness to modern political and economic
ideas expressed by Louis XVI that they were tricked into believing
that he was a supporter of the revolutionary political ideals
espoused by the American revolutionaries of the late 1700s (which he
most definitely was not, as he would prove by his dismissal of
Turgot for his promotion of political ideas that ran parallel to
those of the leading American revolutionary political theorists).
[Note by IWPCHI. Sources: Wikipedia articles on “Anne Robert
Jacques Turgot”, “Physiocrats”, “Jacques Necker” and
“Flour War”.]

2Before
that the farmer could not sell his corn for three months after the
harvest, the lord of the manor alone being entitled to do that. It
was one of the feudal privileges, which enabled the lord to sell it
at a high price.

3Mortmain
(literally meaning ‘dead hand’) was a means by which landowners
could avoid honoring any feudal duties he was obligated to pay to
the King, by donating land to the Church and then recovering use of
the land by becoming a tenant of the Church. The monarchy was
thereby denied any income or tribute they would have been entitled
to had the land remained in private hands. Also, once land was
“donated” to the Church, it would remain in Church hands
forever. This practise resulted in the loss of a tremendous amount
of income and personal service due to the monarchy. It also over
time threatened to tremendously increase the wealth in land and
therefore the balance of power between the “three estates” that
existed in medieval European feudal society: mortmain benefitted the
ecclesiastical order in relation to the nobility and the peasantry.
– IWPCHI]

4Statute
of August 24, 1780. Breaking on the wheel existed still in 1785. The
parliaments, in spite of the Voltaireianism, and the general
refinement in the conception of life, enthusiastically defended the
use of torture, which was abolished definitely only by the National
Assembly. It is interesting to find (E. Seligman, La
justice en France pendant la Revolution,
p.
97) that Brissot, Marat and Robespierre by their writings
contributed to the agitation for the reform of the penal code.

5Kropotkin
refers to England’s anti-Catholic “Glorious Revolution” of
1688. [Note by IWPCHI]

6The
arguments upon which Louis XVI. took his stand are of the highest
interest. I sum them up here according to E. Samichon’s Les
Reformes sous Louis XVI.: assemblees provinciales et parlements.
The
King found Turgot’s schemes
dangerous,
and wrote: “Though coming from a man who has good ideas, his
constitution would overthrow the existing state.” And again,
further on: “The system of a rent-paying electorate would tend to
make malcontents of the non-propertied classes, and if these were
allowed to assemble they would form a hot-bed of disorder. … The
transition from the abolished system to the system M. Turgot now
proposes ought to be considered: we see well enough what is, but
only in our thoughts do we see what does not yet exist,
and
we must not make dangerous experiments if we do not see where they
will end.” Vide
also,
in Samichon’s Appendix A, the very interesting list of the chief
laws under Louis XVI. between 1774 and 1789.

7Jacques
Necker (1732- 1804) Swiss banker who became a French statesman and
finance minister for Louis XVI.

8N.B.:
Kropotkin refers here, of course to the Great French Revolution of
1789 which is the subject of this book. – IWPCHI

9This
cursory mention by Kropotkin of an event that was a serious blow
against the feudal version of the trade union movement and which
must have given an enormous impetus to petit-bourgeois and
proletarian support for political ideas involving the curtailing of
the power of the absolute monarchy is itself worthy of a book. If
you know of any on the subject please send the information to us. –
IWPCHI

10Statute
labor was (and is) compulsory unpaid labor required by the state or
(in feudal Europe, as in this example) by the landlord from
lower-class citizens (particularly from peasants). It exists in the
US today in an only slightly attenuated form as “workfare” and
prison labor programs in which refusal to perform the work required
can result in total loss of social benefits and/or a prison term or
(for people already imprisoned) an extension of their prison
sentence. – IWPCHI

11C.
de Vic and J. de Vaisette, Histoire generale du Languedoc,
continued by du Mege, 10 vols., 1840-1846

12Chassin,
Genie de la Revolution.

13Charles
Alexandre, vicomte de Calonne (1734-1802) Born into an upper-class
family, he was a lawyer considered to be “a man with notable
business abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit, while generally
unscrupulous in his political actions.” Louis XVI appointed him to
be “Controller-General of Finances” in the autumn of 1783 in
order to deal with the deteriorating financial crisis his monarchy
was faced with as a result of Louis’ monumental waste of funds on
luxurious living as well as rapidly mounting costs relating to the
war with England and with the rapidly deteriorating internal
political situation sweeping France. Almost every policy instituted
or attempted to be instituted by Calonne exacerbated the tensions
between the citizens of France and the monarchy. He was dismissed by
Louis in 1787 and exiled to Lorraine – and later on he exiled
himself to France’s bitter enemy Great Britain. He tried to make a
political comeback with the convocation of the Estates-General in
1789 but was refused entry to France. After the Revolution Calonne
joined the monarchist counterrevolutionaries assembling at Coblenz;
when they were defeated by the revolutionary French army under
Napoleon he returned to Great Britain. In 1802 his petition for
permission to return to France was granted by Napoleon; he died in
France a month after his return. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Charles Alexandre de Calonne”

14Du
Chatelier, Histoire de la Revolution dans les departements de
l’ancienne Bretagne,
6
vols., 1836: vol. Ii pp. 60-70, 161, &c.

15Vic
and Vaissete, vol. x. p. 637.

16Vic
and Vaissete, p.136.

17J.
Feuillet de Conches, Lettres de Louis XVI., Marie-Antoinette
at Madame Elizabeth (Paris,
1864), vol. I. pp. 214-216:
The
Abbe has
written to you this evening, sir, and has notified my wish to you,”
wrote the Queen. “I think more than ever that the moment is
pressing, and that it is very essential that he (Necker) should
accept. The King fully agrees with me, and has just brought me a
paper with his own hand containing his ideas, of which I send you a
copy.” The next day she wrote again: “We must no longer
hesitate. If he can get to work tomorrow all the better. It is most
urgent. I fear that we may be compelled to nominate a prime
minister.”

18Many
of Marie-Antoinette’s letters sent during the revolutionary

period
were sent with enciphered text written in white ink; it is not known
if this technique was used in this particular letter, but at least
one of her letters to de Mercy were enciphered and written in this
type of invisible ink (Source:

cryptiana.web.fc2.com/code/fersen.htm.
Note by IWPCHI.)

19Necker
was recalled to the post of Controller-General of Finance on 25
August 1788. He was not appointed as Prime Minister until 16 July
1789 – two days after the storming of the Bastille. (Note by
IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Jacques Necker”.)

20Henri
Quatre – King Henry IV of France (1553-1610; ruled from 1589-1610;
assassinated by fanatic Catholic Francois Ravaillac . Known as
“Henry of Navarre” and “Good King Henry” he was fondly
remembered by the workers and peasants of France for his relatively
friendly attitude towards the poor. He is credited with the
statement “If God keeps me, I will make sure that no peasant in my
realm will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot on Sunday!”
The statue in Kropotkin’s reference to Henri Quatre was erected by
Henry IV and placed on the Pont-Neuf, which he also built, and which
stands in Paris to this day. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Henry IV of France”.

21Louis
Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil (1730-1807) Baron de Breteuil – a
French aristocrat, diplomat, statesman and politician. At the time
this incident occurred Breteuil was the Secretary of State of the
Maison du Roi. He was serving the King and Queen Marie-Antoinette in
this role when the sordid tale known as “The Affair of the
Necklace” came to light. Popular support for the monarchy in
general and for Marie-Antoinette in particular was severely damaged
by the “Affair”; Breteuil’s defense of Marie-Antoinette in the
affair made him very unpopular. He was appointed to succeed Jacques
Necker as Prime Minister on 12 July 1789 – which was one of the
events that led to the storming of the Bastille prison just two days
later. After the Revolution, many aristocrats fled France one step
ahead of the executioner; Breteuil was appointed by King Louis XVI
(at the request of Marie) to be their Prime Minister-in-exile while
they were being held prisoners in France by the revolutionaries.
Breteuil was responsible for the plan for the failed escape of the
King and Queen from France in 1791. After the executions of Louis
and Marie and the death of the last heir to the Bourbon throne
Breteuil retired to a location near Hamburg. He was allowed by
Napoleon I to return to France in 1802; he died in France in 1807.
Note by IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Louis Auguste Le
Tonnelier de Breteuil”.

22Yolande
Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess of Polignac (1749-1783)
Wikipedia describes her as being of the “ultra-monarchist”
faction of the French nobility. Stunningly beautiful in her
portraits, she was hated by the poor of France for her extravagant
lifestyle and for her alleged lesbian relationship with
Marie-Antoinette (which was reportedly not true). She was hated by
many in the aristocracy for the favoritism shown to her and her
family by the King and Queen which was seen as breaching social
etiquette of the time; it was widely resented that she obtained an
appointment as “Governess of the Children of France” which gave
her the important responsibility to oversee the education and
general upbringing of the children of the King and Queen. She and
her family went into exile in Switzerland shortly after the storming
of the Bastille prison. She died in Austria shortly after the
execution of Marie Antoinette in December of 1793.

23For
fuller information, see Felix Roquain, L’esprit revolutionnaire
avant la Revolution.

24The
reference is to a story Kropotkin relates in Chapter III of Vol. I
of this book (p.11). It comes from Arthur Young’s Travels in
France
which
relate anecdotes from a trip through France which Young undertook
shortly before the French Revolution got underway. “’Something
has to be done by some great folk for such poor ones’” Young
quotes the old woman as saying in reference to the ruling
aristocracy and monarchy of France. “She did not know who or how;
‘but God send us better’”.

 

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! Congratulations to North Korea On Its First Successful Launch of an ICBM

We extend our sincere congratulations to North Korea for its first successful launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.  This is an important step forward in defending the North Korean workers state from constant threats against the existence of North Korea issued incessantly by the world’s #1 terrorist state: the United States of America.  We also condemn China’s slavish acquiescence to the anti-North Korea campaign being conducted by the United States – a nation that slaughtered as many as 3 million Koreans during the Korean War.  Maoist China owes its existence in large measure to the selfless work done by Korean communist exiles who helped lead the Chinese workers revolution.  For China to betray North Korea now when the United States is threatening to launch a massive military assault on North Korea is an act of treason to the workers of China, North Korea and the entire world. China: DEFEND NORTH KOREA!

The global propaganda barrage launched by the world’s #1 terrorist state – the United States – in the wake of the successful ICBM launch of North Korea reeks of hypocrisy and much worse.  The United States has never been threatened by North Korea; in fact it has always been North Korea that has been threatened by the imperialist murderers of the United States since North Korea was first created.  North Korea never had, and it does not now possess any military forces that even approximate the massive military strength possessed by the USA.  The claim that the tiny North Korean nuclear arsenal and military – which can only be described as “defensive” – threaten the massively armed US military Goliath is absurd on its face!  Anyone who believes that tiny North Korea (which possesses no military force capable of undertaking offensive operations on any large scale regionally or internationally) is capable of launching a serious attack on the continental United States – is an imbecile who knows absolutely nothing about military science.

The handful of nukes possessed by North Korea comprise a very rationally designed nuclear strike force that is capable only of effectively defending North Korea from an attack launched from South Korea or Japan.  The overwhelming imbalance of military forces on the Korean peninsula is tilted entirely on the side of the United States.

We are witnessing the degree to which the entire capitalist news media is nothing but the propaganda arm of the US capitalist class and their war machine.  Every bourgeois newspaper on Earth has retailed the “big lie” that the existence of North Korea’s tiny ICBM force – dwarfed by the US’ enormous nuclear arsenal – poses an existential threat to the US!  Lies do not come any bigger than this!  This lie is designed to bludgeon the workers of the world into acquiescence if the Goliath of the United States launches a savage attack on the “David” North Korea.  The US’ propaganda machine’s big lie is an attempt to make “David” appear to be “Goliath”.  Only those people who refuse to open their eyes and to examine the evidence before them could swallow such a whale of a lie!

One of the purposes of this “big lie” campaign being launched by the US right now is to cover up a major international diplomatic incident that was perpetrated by the US against North Korea back in June of this year.

” On 16th of June over 20 agents of the Department of Homeland Security (according to their introduction) and policemen committed a criminal act of moving in on the diplomats of the DPRK who were en route home after attending the tenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and took away the diplomatic package from them.

“The extortion of the diplomatic package made by the U.S. is an unpardonable act of infringement on the sovereignty of DPRK as a member state of the United Nations and a criminal offence of grave violation of the international law.

“Inviolability and protection of the diplomatic bag is clearly stipulated in the Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“Department of State of the U.S. made official apology for the incident but still delays the return of the diplomatic package.

“All these actions show the extreme insolence and impudence of the U.S. which acts rudely in total disregard to the international law, out of inveterate refusal of the DPRK.

“The extortion of the diplomatic package of a sovereign state in the heart of New York where the UN Headquarters is located and international conferences including the UN General Assembly are held clearly proves that the U.S. is an unlawful and lawless rogue state.”

[Source: Korean Central News Agency, “DPRK Permanent Representative’s Letter to UN Secretary General” 4 July, 2017]

This incident was hardly even acknowledged by the US capitalist press.  They truly are the bought-and-paid-for propagandists of US imperialism!

This provocation – along with the endless numbers of military “war games” being launched in cooperation with South Korean, Australian and other US allies from South Korea – and the fact that the Korean War has actually never ended – are the real reasons why North Korea is compelled to pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons – to defend itself from another savage unprovoked military invasion like what took place during the initial years of the Korean War.

Though we do not politically defend the Stalinist regime in North Korea that has usurped political power from the North Korean working class in order to create a bizarre hereditary socialist monarchy in North Korea, we do recognize that the heroic Korean workers revolution that opposed and ousted the Japanese imperialists and then successfully fought off the unprovoked invasion of Korea by the US after WWII and which overthrew capitalism and established the North Korean workers state was an enormous victory for the workers of Korea and of the entire world.  As revolutionary Trotskyists we understand that it is the duty of every revolutionary worker to defend every gain made by the working class internationally, because, as Trotsky said, those who cannot defend old conquests will never achieve new ones.

The Chinese Maoists of the “Communist Party of China” – renegades from Marxism hell-bent on gradually restoring capitalism in China – are more interested in lining their pockets with dollars and Euros than in defending socialism in China, North Korea or anywhere else.  They are more than willing to throw North Korea “under the bus” in order to suck up to their rich “friends” in Washington, Berlin, Brussels and London.  They must be kicked out of power by the Chinese working class in a political revolution to defend socialism and to bring about a true revolutionary socialist workers democracy in China.  Every attack against North Korea is a thinly veiled attack on China as well.  China is, after all, the ultimate target of the US war machine’s operations in Asia.

By their victory against US imperialism in the Korean War, the North Korean workers earned the undying hatred of the US capitalist class, which has tried every dirty trick in the book to restore capitalism to North Korea – to no avail.  The North Korean workers state has heroically held out against every form of blackmail, extortion and military threat and actual slaughter launched by US imperialism – and North Korea stands today proudly defiant in defense of socialism against US and world imperialism.  North Korea is one of the very few places on Earth where the US capitalist class can not exploit workers for profit-making – and this drives the US capitalist class batshit crazy! And there is no small amount of “good old American racism” behind the US capitalist class’ hatred for the North Koreans.  It is the duty of every class-conscious worker on the planet to defend the right of the existence of the North Korean workers state against every attempt by “our own” ruling classes to overthrow that workers state!

US Workers: don’t believe the lies of the US capitalist class and their press! DEFEND NORTH KOREA!  US/UN/NATO Hands off North Korea!  China, Vietnam, Cuba: DEFEND NORTH KOREA!

 

IWPCHI

Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ Consistently Revolutionary Marxist Programme on the Question of War

In our last article we excoriated the New York Times’ publication of an “opinion piece” in which a hack writer regurgitated the tired old lie that the great Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was “a German agent”.  In this next series of articles we will demonstrate the tremendous theoretical consitency of the Bolsheviks’ interventions in the major international conferences of the Second International regarding the questions of militarism and war.  These articles will demonstrate that in 1917 the Bolsheviks’ determination to oppose Russia’s participation in the horrendous imperialist bloodbath of WWI was first declared to the world ten years earlier – in 1907’s Stuttgart Congress of the Second International.  The absurdity of the claim that Lenin was carrying out the orders given to him by the Kaiser in November of 1917 in exchange for “safe passage” on a “sealed train” through “wartime Europe” is fully and completely exposed as an attempt to falsify the historical record and to slander the greatest revolutionary socialist workers leader and workers party the world has ever known: Lenin and his Bolshevik Party.

— IWPCHI

*********************

V. I. Lenin
The International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart[1] (Proletary)

Written: Written at the end of August and beginning of September 1907
Published: Published in Proletary, No. 17, October 20, 1907. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 75-81.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. • README

[Large portion of article has been edited out so we can focus attention on the Bolshevik intervention at the Congress on the question of war and militarism and what should be the response of the various sections of the Second International to an outbreak of war between any number of countries – IWPCHI]

We pass now to the last, and perhaps the most important, resolution of the Congress—that on anti-militarism. The notorious Hervé, who has made such a noise in France and Europe, advocated a semi-anarchist view by naively suggesting that every war be “answered” by a strike and an uprising. He did not understand, on the one hand, that war is a necessary product of capitalism, and that the proletariat cannot renounce participation in revolutionary wars, for such wars are possible, and have indeed occurred in capitalist societies. He did not understand, on the other hand, that the possibility of “answering” a war depends on the nature of the crisis created by that war. The choice of the means of struggle depends on these conditions; moreover, the struggle must consist (and here we have the third misconception, or shallow thinking of Hervéism) not simply in replacing war by peace, but in replacing capitalism by socialism. The essential thing is not merely to prevent war, but to utilise the crisis created by war in order to has ten the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. However, underlying all these semi-anarchist absurdities of Hervéism there was one sound and practical purpose: to spur the socialist movement so that it will not be restricted to parliamentary methods of struggle alone, so that the masses will realise the need for revolutionary action in connection with the crises which war inevitably involves, so that, lastly, a more lively understanding of international labour solidarity and of the falsity of bourgeois patriotism will be spread among the masses.

Bebel’s resolution (move.d by the Germans and coinciding in all essentials with Guesde’s resolution) had one shortcoming—it failed to indicate the active tasks of the proletariat. This made it possible to read Bebel’s orthodox propositions through opportunist spectacles, and Vollmar was quick to turn this possibility into a reality.

That is why Rosa Luxemburg and the Russian Social-Democratic delegates moved their amendments to Bebel’s resolution. These amendments (1) stated that militarism is the chief weapon of class oppression; (2) pointed out the need for propaganda among the youth; (3) stressed that Social-Democrats should not only try to prevent war from breaking out or to secure the speediest termination of wars that have already begun, but should utilise the crisis created by the war to hasten the overthrow of the bourgeoisie.

The subcommission (elected by the Anti-Militarism Commission) incorporated all these amendments in Bebel’s resolution. In addition, Jaurès made this happy suggestion: instead of enumerating the methods of struggle (strikes, uprisings) the resolution should cite historical examples of proletarian action against war, from the demonstrations in Europe to the revolution in Russia. The result of all this redrafting was a resolution which, it is true, is unduly long, but is rich in thought and precisely formulates the tasks of the proletariat. It combines the stringency of orthodox—i. e., the only scientific Marxist analysis with recommendations for the most resolute and revolutionary action by the workers’ parties. This resolution cannot be interpreted à la Vollmar, nor can it be fitted into the narrow framework of naïve Hervéism.

On the whole, the Stuttgart Congress brought into sharp contrast the opportunist and revolutionary wings of the international Social-Democratic movement on a number of cardinal issues and decided these issues in the spirit of revolutionary Marxism. Its resolutions and the report of the debates should become a handbook for every propagandist. The work done at Stuttgart will greatly promote the unity of tactics and unity of revolutionary struggle of the proletarians of all countries.
Notes

[1] The International Socialist Congress In Stuttgart (the Seventh Congress of the Second International) was held from August 18 to 24 (new style), 1907. The R.S.D.L.P. was represented at it by 37 delegates. Among the Bolshevik delegates attending the Congress were Lenin, Lunacharsky, and Litvinov. The Congress considered the following questions: 1) Militarism and international conflicts; 2) Relations between the political parties and the trade unions; 3) The colonial question; 4) Immigration and emigration of workers, and 5) Women’s suffrage.

The main work of the Congress was in the committees, where resolutions were drafted for the plenary sessions. Lenin was on the “Militarism and International Conflicts” Committee.

[2] The issue of Proletary (No. 17) which published this article also contained the resolution of the International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart.

[3] See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Moscow, p. 595.

[4] Voinov—A. V. Lunacharsky.

[5] Die Gleichheit (Equality)—a Social-Democratic fortnightly journal, organ of the German women’s movement (later it became the organ of international women’s movement), published in Stuttgart from 1890 to 1925 and edited by Clara Zetkin from 1892 to 1917.

NY Times Slanders Bolsheviks as “German Agents”: Bolshevik Party Was Funded By Russian Workers

The New York Times – the “newspaper of record” for the US’ east coast capitalist class – has always hated the workers movement.  As part of the US capitalist class’ bought-and-paid-for press, the editors of the Times have consistently excoriated the US workers movement from the time of its inception in the early 19th century to the present day.  They hate the working class and all it stands for and they go so far as to never credit the communist workers movement with any of its many achievements in the USA, from its creation of the modern civil rights movement to its leadership of the CIO during the major class battles of the 1930s that made the trade union movement a force that the US capitalist class had to reckon with.  The New York Times never mentions “communism” or “communists” in anything other than a bad light; even their obituaries of people whose fame was largely due to their prominent role as communsit writers, actors or artists is completely obscured by the editors of the Times.  As a “newspaper of record” it is actually busily falsifying the historical record to expunge any positive contributions attributable to communist activists.  Hey, we don’t call it “the bourgeois press” for nothing.

The New York Times even pretends that he working class – the largest class of human beings in any capitalist society – does not even exist in the USA!  And whenever a major news story occurs in which union workers are involved, the Times never interviews any trade union leader to get her or his version of what happened – even though the union’s perspective on the event is critically important insider information necessary to have in order to understand what exactly happened.

The US’ “newspaper of record” – the New York Times – hates the workers movement so much that they assert that in the USA, the working class doesn’t even exist. Source: NY Times

2017 being the 100th anniversary of the heroic Russian Revolution led by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, the capitalist press is attempting to once again slander the revolution in order to (hopefully) dissuade the 2017 US working class from taking the time to go back and revisit the background of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.  In the US especially, the working class have been taught from the cradle that “communism is bad” and “capitalism is good”.  The fact is that the Russian Revolution of 1917 for the very first time ever created a workers state where the working class was the ruling class, and the capitalist exploiting class was abolished.  It is for this reason only that the bourgeois press of 2017 seeks to bury the memory of the great 1917 Bolshevik workers socialist revolution under a mountain of lies and slander.

This is why the New York Times has decided – as part of a new feature they dub “The Red Century” – to drag the old rotten chestnut of the myth of the passage of Lenin and a party of Bolshevik leaders across wartime Europe from Switzerland to Russia in a “sealed train” to carry out order paid for with “German gold” – out of the dustbin of history and regurgitated it in order to slander the Bolsheviks once again.

The ancient lie that Lenin’s Bolsheviks were “German agents” was never believed by anyone – including the agents of the bourgeois press – back at the time of the revolution.  The political exile Lenin accepted the Germans’  offer of safe passage of himself and his comrades from Switzerland to Russia in the midst of the carnage of WWI so that he and his comrades could take their rightful places as leaders of their parties’ factions in the new government that emerged upon the collapse of the hideous Tsarist regime had nothing at all to do with accepting a role as an agent of the Kaiser’s Germany: the Kaiser, desperate to extricate his regime from a war in which, with the impending entry of the USA into the conflict, could only end in his regime’s defeat, was grasping at straws by the spring of 1917.  Lenin’s Bolsheviks had righteously opposed WWI from its very beginning, and had called for the defeat of the Tsarist war machine and for workers revolution throughout Europe to end the war and overthrow capitalism which had created the conditions that led to the war.  The Kaiser in his vast ignorance and desperation only comprehended that the Bolsheviks had pledged that if they became the ruling power in Russia that they would immediately take steps to pull Russia out of the war; that was all that he cared about.  He saw the possibility of a Russian pullout from participation in WWI as an opportunity for his regime to reallocate his  military forces from the Eastern Front to the Western.  He eagerly lunged for what he believed was a slim chance of victory offered to him by the stupid Bolshevik party and their utopian dream of a socialist revolution in Tsarist Russia.  Never in his wildest dreams did the Kaiser believe that the Bolsheviks would actually follow through on the political program of socialist revolution which the Bolsheviks had expounded since the collapse of the Second International in August, 1914.  Wilhelm granted the Bolsheviks safe passage to Russia in the desperate hope that the Bolsheviks would take Russia out of the war; he calculated that if that happened, he could reallocate his military forces to the west where once he crushed the French and English he would have ample time to crush the Bolsheviks as well.  Lenin knew this from day one and he did not hesitate to take up the Germans’ offer.  “The capitalists will sell the rope that will be used to hang them” was one of Lenin’s basic beliefs; and the Germans’ shortsighted  offer to send Marxist revolutionaries to Russia to overthrow the Tsar in order to obtain a military benefit from a Russian socialist revolution was and is one of the most asinine moves ever made by a ruling monarch.  When Lenin arrived in Russia in April of 1917 he immediately organized his party to not only overthrow the Tsarist regime, but to take power in the name of the Russian working class and peasantry.  This was far more than the Kaiser had bargained for; and the victorious Russian Revolution of 1917 not only knocked the crowns off the heads of the Russian autocrats: it very quickly led to the collapse of the German monarchy as well.  No serious historian would state in 2017 that the Bolsheviks were nothing but “agents of the Kaiser”.  If that was true, what did the Bolsheviks do to defend their “benefactor” when he was facing his own deposition?  In fact, the Bolsheviks did all they could to hasten the collapse of Kaiserdom, organizing a revolutionary Bolshevik party in Germany with express orders to overthrow the capitalist system in Germany as soon as possible.  The Kaiser’s fate was sealed the moment he gave Lenin and his Bolshevik comrades safe passage to Russia in the vain hope that the collapse of Tsarism would lead to the building of a bulwark of support for Kaiserdom!  What a stupid ass he was!  Within a year after October 1917 the Kaiser was forced to abdicate his throne by the revolutionary workers of Germany. inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution!

The whole idea that the Bolshevik Party was funded by “German Gold” is refuted in the following article of 1914, in which Lenin lays out precisely where the financial support of the Bolshevik Party was coming from at that time.  The Bolshevik Party – like all Marxist parties around the world in 1917 – received the vast majority of its’ funding from party membership dues and from sales of the party newspaper.  In this article, Lenin breaks down the revenue his party was receiving in 1914 from the sales of the Bolshevik press and also breaks down what sections of Russian society were actively supporting the Bolshevik Party.  “German gold” was NEVER an important source of Bolshevik finances, ever in the history of the Bolsheviks.  Their money came primarily from the industrial workers of the major industrial centers of Tsarist Russia: from the trade unionists working in the big factories in Russia’s major cities.  The following article was filched from marxists.org.

We must alert our working class readers to the fact that we have been studying the works of Lenin for 30 years and that we have NEVER found even a trace of duplicity or shady deaking in the writings of this heroic leader of the workers of the world.  Lenin’s writings can be taken at face value: he dedicated his entire life to fighting for the emancipation of the workers of the world from the misery of wage-slavery.  You will search in vain for another person who dedicated his or her life more selflessly to the service of he workers of the world.  In Lenin, the workers of he world of the 21st century will find an honest and stalwart advocate.

— IWPCHI

V.I. Lenin –  “The Working Class and Its Press”


Published: Trudovaya Pravda Nos. 14 and 15, June 13 and 14, 1914.
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works.


There is nothing more important to class-conscious workers than to have an understanding of the significance of their movement and a thorough knowledge of it. The only source of strength of the working-class movement—and an invincible one at that—is the class-consciousness of the workers and the broad scope of their struggle, that is, the participation in it of the masses of the wage-workers.

The St. Petersburg Marxist press, which has been in existence for years, publishes exclusive, excellent, indispensable and easily verifiable material on the scope of the working-class movement and the various trends predominating in it. Only those who wish to conceal the truth can ignore this material, as the liberals and liquidators do.

Complete figures concerning the collections made for the Pravdist (Marxist) and liquidationist newspapers in St. Petersburg for the period between January 1 and May 13, 1914, have been compiled by Comrade V.A.T.[3] We publish his table below in full, and shall quote round figures in the body of this article as occasion arises, so as not to burden the reader with statistics.

The following is Comrade V.A.T.’s table. (See pp. 364–65.) First of all we shall deal with the figures showing the number of workers’ groups. These figures cover the whole period of existence of the Pravdist and liquidationist newspapers. Number of workers’ groups:

 
Supporting
the Pravdist
newspapers
Supporting
the liquida-
tionist
newspapers
For 1912 . . . . . . . . . . 620 89
For 1913 . . . . . . . . . . 2,181 661
1914, from Jan. 1 to May 13 . 2,873 671
  Total 5,674 1,421

 

Collections for Marxist (Pravdist) and liquidationist newspapers in St. Petersburg from January 1 to May 13, 1914
Collections
made by
St. Petersburg Moscow Provinces Total
Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist Pravdist Liquidationist
No.[1] rubles[2] No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles No. Rubles
Workers’
groups . .
2,024 13,943.24 308 2,231.98 130 865.00 25 263.52 719 4,125.86 338 2,800.62 2,873 18,934.10 671 5,296.12
Total from
non-workersincluding:
325 1,256.92 165 1,799.40 46 260.51 24 1,137.30 332 1,082.79 230 2,113.90 713 2,650.01 453 6,759.77
Student and
youth groups
26 369.49 19 292.13 8 119.30 3 21.00 20 162.13 23 317.09 54 650.92 45 630.22
Groups of
“adherents”,
“friends”,
etc.
8 164.00 14 429.25 6 42.10 5 892.00 28 252.72 35 1,129.35 42 458.82 54 2,450.60
Other groups 2 8.00 6 72.60 1 2.00 30 115.29 24 113.52 33 125.29 30 186.12
Individuals 281 650.96 120 966.72 29 63.61 14 197.30 221 332.05 132 443.80 531 1,046.62 266 1,608.32
Unspecified 8 64.47 6 38.70 2 33.50 2 26.50 33 220.60 16 110.14 43 318.57 24 175.34
From abroad 10 49.79 34 1,709.17
Total . . 2,349 15,200.16 473 4,103.38 176 1,125.51 49 1,400.82 1,051 5,208.65 568 4,914.52 3,586 21,584.11 1,124 12,055.89
1 /

 

The total number of groups is 7,095. Of course, there are groups which made several collections, but separate data for these are not available.

We see that only one-fifth of the total number of workers’ groups are in sympathy with the liquidators. In two-and-a-half years, Pravdism, Pravdist decisions and Pravdist tactics have united four-fifths of Russia’s class-conscious workers. This fact of workers’ unity can well bear comparison with the phrases about “unity” uttered by the various grouplets of intellectuals, the Vperyodists, Plekhanovites, Trotskyists, etc., etc.

Let us compare the figures for 1913 and 1914 (those for 1912 are not comparable, because Pravda appeared in April, and Luch five months later). We shall find that the number of Pravdist groups has grown by 692, i. e., 31.7 per cent, whereas the liquidationist groups have gone up by 10, i. e., 1.5 per cent. Hence, the workers’ readiness to support the Pravdist newspapers has grown 20 times as last as their readiness to support the liquidationist newspapers.

Let us see how the workers in various parts of Russia are divided according to trend:

 
per cent of total workers’ groups
{
Pravdist Liquidationist
St. Petersburg . . . . . 86 14
Moscow . . . . . . . . 83 17
Provinces . . . . . . . 68 32

The inference is clear: the more politically developed the masses of the workers are, and the higher their level of class-consciousness and political activity, the higher is the number of Pravdists among them. In St. Petersburg the liquidators have been almost completely dislodged (fourteen out of a hundred); they still have a precarious hold in the provinces (32 out of 100), where the masses are politically less educated.

It is highly instructive to note that figures from an entirely different source, namely, those giving the number of workers’ delegates elected during the Insurance Board elections, tally to a remarkable degree with those of the workers’ groups. During the election of the Metropolitan Insurance Board, 37 Pravdist and 7 liquidationist delegates were   elected, i. e., 84 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Of the total number of delegates elected, the Pravdists constituted 70 per cent (37 out of 53), and at the election of the All-Russia Insurance Board they obtained 47 out of 57, i. e., 82 per cent. The liquidators, non-party people and Narodniks form a small minority of workers, who still remain under bourgeois influence.

To proceed. The following are interesting figures on the average amounts collected by workers groups:

 
Average amounts collected by work
ers’ groups
Pravdist (rubles) Liquidationist
(rubles)
St. Petersburg . . . . . 6.88 7.24
Moscow . . . . . . . . 6.65 10.54
Provinces . . . . . . . 5.74 8.28
Whole of Russia . . . . 6.58 7.89

The Pravdist groups show a natural, understandable and, so to speak, normal tendency: the average contribution from the average workers’ group rises with the increase in the average earnings of the working masses.

In the case of the liquidators, we see, apart from the spurt in the Moscow groups (of which there are only 25 in all!), that the average contributions from the provincial groups are higher than those from the St. Petersburg groups! How are we to explain this odd phenomenon?

Only a more detailed analysis of the figures could provide a satisfactory reply to this question, but that would be a laborious task. Our conjecture is that the liquidators unite the minority of the higher-paid workers in certain sections of industry. It has been observed all over the world that such workers cling to liberal and opportunist ideas. In St. Petersburg, the longest to put up with the liquidators were the printing workers, and it was only during the last elections in their Union, on April 27, 1914, that the Pravdists won half the seats on the Executive and a majority of the seats for alternate members. In all countries the printers are most inclined towards opportunism, and some grades among them are highly paid workers.

If our conclusion about the minority of the workers, the labour aristocracy, being in sympathy with the liquidators   is merely conjectural, there can be no doubt whatever where individuals are concerned. Of the contributions made by non-workers, more than half came from individuals (531 out of 713 in our case, 266 out of 453 in the case of the liquidators). The average contribution from this source in our case is R.1.97 whereas among the liquidators it is R.6.05!

In the first case, the contributions obviously came from lower-paid office workers, civil servants, etc., and from the petty-bourgeois elements of a semi-proletarian character. In the case of the liquidators, however, we see that they have rich friends among the bourgeoisie.

These rich friends from among the bourgeoisie take still more definite shape as “groups of adherents, friends, etc.” These groups collected R.458.82 for us, i. e., two per cent of the total sum collected, the average donation per group being R.10.92, which is only half as much again as the average donation of workers’ groups. For the liquidators, however, these groups collected R.2,450.60, i. e., over 20 per cent of the total sum collected, the average donation per group being R.45.39, i. e., six times the average collected by workers’ groups!

To this we add the collections made abroad, where bourgeois students are the main contributors. We received R.49.79 from this source, i. e., less than one-fourth of one per cent; the liquidators received R.1,709.17, i. e., 14 per cent.

If we add up individuals, “adherents and friends”, and collections made abroad, the total amount collected from these sources will be as follows:

Pravdists—R.1,555.23, i. e., 7 per cent of the total collections.

Liquidators—R.5,768.09, i. e., 48 per cent of the total collections.

From this source we received less than one-tenth of what we received from the workers’ groups (R.18,934). This source gave the liquidators more than they received from the workers’ groups (R.5,296)!

The inference is clear: the liquidationist newspaper is not a workers’ but a bourgeois newspaper. It is run mainly on funds contributed by rich friends from among the bourgeoisie.

As a matter of fact, the liquidators are far more dependent upon the bourgeoisie than our figures show. The Pravdist newspapers have frequently published their financial re ports for public information. These reports have shown that our newspaper, by adding collections to its income, is paying its way. With a circulation of 40,000 (the average for May 1914), this is understandable, in spite of confiscations and a dearth of advertisements. The liquidators, however, published their report only once (Luch No. 101), showing a deficit of 4,000 rubles. After this, they adopted the usual bourgeois custom of not publishing reports. With a circulation of 15,000, their newspaper cannot avoid a deficit, and evidently this is covered again and again by their rich friends from among the bourgeoisie.

Liberal-labour politicians like to drop hints about an “open workers’ party”, but they do not like to reveal to genuine workers their actual dependence upon the bourgeoisie! It is left for us, “underground” workers, to teach the liquidator-liberals the benefit of open reports…

The overall ratio of worker and non-worker collections is as follows:

 
Collected by Out of every ruble collected for
Pravdist
newspapers
Liquidationist
newspapers
Workers . . . . . 87 kopeks 44 kopeks
Non-workers . . . 13 ” 56 ”
  Total 1.00 ruble 1.00 ruble

The Pravdists get one-seventh of their aid collections from the bourgeoisie and, as we have seen, from its most democratic and least wealthy sections. The liquidationist undertaking is largely a bourgeois undertaking, which is supported only by a minority of the workers.

The figures concerning the sources of funds also reveal to us the class status of the readers and buyers of the newspapers.

Voluntary contributions are made only by regular readers, who most intelligently sympathise with the trend of the given newspaper. In its turn, the trend of the given news paper willy-nilly “adapts itself” to the more “influential” section of its reading public.

The deductions that follow from our figures are, first, theoretical, i. e., such as will help the working class to understand the conditions of its movement, and secondly, practical deductions, which will give us direct guidance in our activities.

It is sometimes said that there is not one working-class press in Russia, but two. Even Plekhanov repeated this statement not long ago. But that is not true. Those who say this betray sheer ignorance, if not a secret desire to help the liquidators spread bourgeois influence among the workers. Long ago and repeatedly (for example, in 1908 and 1910), the Party decisions clearly, definitely, and directly pointed to the bourgeois nature of liquidationism. Articles in the Marxist press have explained this truth hundreds of times.

The experience of a daily newspaper, which openly appeals to the masses, was bound to disclose the real class character of the liquidationist trend. And that is what it did. The liquidationist newspaper has indeed proved to be a bourgeois undertaking, which is supported by a minority of the workers.

Moreover, let us not forget that almost up to the spring of 1914 the liquidationist newspaper was the mouthpiece of the August bloc. It was only lately that the Letts with drew from it, and Trotsky, Em-El, An, Buryanov and Yegorov have left, or are leaving, the liquidators. The break-up of the bloc is continuing. The near future is bound to reveal still more clearly the bourgeois character of the liquidationist trend and the sterility of the intellectualist grouplets, such as the Vperyodists, Plekhanovites, Trotskyists, etc.

The practical deductions may be summed up in the following points:

1) 5,674 workers’ groups united by the Pravdists in less than two-and-a-half years is a fairly large number, considering the harsh conditions obtaining in Russia. But this is only a beginning. We need, not thousands, but tens of thousands of workers’ groups. We must intensify our activities tenfold. Ten rubles collected in kopeks from hundreds of workers are more important and valuable, both from the ideological and organisational point of view, than a hundred rubles from rich friends among the bourgeoisie.   Even from the financial aspect, experience goes to prove that it is possible to run a well-established workers’ newspaper with the aid of workers’ kopeks, but impossible to do so with the aid of bourgeois rubles. The liquidationist under taking is a bubble, which is bound to burst.

2) We lag behind in the provinces, where 32 per cent of the workers’ groups support the liquidators! Every class-conscious worker must exert every effort to put an end to this lamentable and disgraceful state of affairs. We must bring all our weight to bear in the provinces.

3) The rural workers are apparently still almost untouched by the movement. Difficult as work in this field may be, we must press forward with it in the most vigorous manner.

4) Like a mother who carefully tends a sick child and gives it better nourishment,, the class-conscious workers must take more care of the districts and factories where the workers are sick with liquidationism. This malady, which emanates from the bourgeoisie, is inevitable in a young working-class movement, but with proper care and persistent treatment, it will pass without any serious after effects. To provide the sick workers with more plentiful nourishment in the shape of Marxist literature, to explain more carefully and in more popular form the history and tactics of the Party and the meaning of the Party decisions on the bourgeois nature of liquidationism, to explain at greater length the urgent necessity of proletarian unity, i. e., the submission of the minority of the workers to the majority, the submission of the one-fifth to the four-fifths of the class-conscious workers of Russia—such are some of the most important tasks confronting us.

Notes:

[1] Number of collections. —Lenin

[2] Sums collected (rubles) —Lenin

[3] V. A. T.—initials of V. A. Tikhomirnov, a member of the Pravda staff.

 Source: Marxists Internet Archive at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/jun/14.htm

A Revolutionary Trotskyist Memorial Day – Honoring the Heroes and Martyrs of the Revolutionary Workers Movement

May 30th, 1937:  Memorial Day Massacre during “Little Steel” strike: Chicago Police open fire on striking steelworkers trying to unionize steel plants on Chicago’s south side. 10 workers were murdered (many shot in the back) and 30 seriously injured. Source: Wikipedia, US National Archives

In the United States, Memorial Day is a time for remembering our family members and friends who have passed away;  and for honoring them and sharing  our memories of them with everyone who still remembers them – and for passing on the stories of their lives to our children who either never got to know them or whose memories of them are only faint memories from their earliest years.

It is also a celebration of the lives of the millions of worker-soldiers who died fighting the endless wars fought by US armies, all of which – since the U.S. Civil War – have been imperialist wars fought not in defense of the United States but in pursuit of the profit-mad dreams of the U.S. capitalist class.

The U.S. capitalist class and its owned-and-operated propaganda outlets known to Marxists as “the bourgeois press” cynically “salute” the worker-soldiers who have given their lives in imperialist wars – wars which did not make the workers’ lives one bit easier but only heaped even more wealth into the bank accounts of the top 5% of the population: the U.S. capitalist class. The blood of millions of worker-soldiers around the world has been harvested by the capitalists for the capitalists’ own benefit – they whose own sons and daughters more often than not have found ready-made legal “loopholes” allowing them to escape endangering their own lives on the front lines of the U.S.’ bloody imperialist wars. The capitalist class always makes certain that its bought-and-paid-for politicians provide the sons and daughters of the rich with ways to avoid military service in wartime. Yet they all have the nerve to trumpet their phony patriotism on days like this by wrapping themselves in the flag and disgustingly pretending to “honor” the memories of those they have sent to early graves in pursuit of profits for the wealthiest 5% of US citizens.

Meanwhile, the victims of their bloodthirstiness – the worker-soldiers who have had their bodies and minds battered and broken during their descent into the horrors of modern warfare – are thrown away as so much trash; and tens of thousands are left to suffer from the physical and psychological damage that is the “reward” every soldier receives for military service in shooting wars.

Thousands of homeless veterans are forced to roam the streets of U.S. cities, abused every day by the racist, vicious police thugs of the U.S. capitalist class. The families of worker-soldiers who are on active duty – and even elderly retired vets – are forced to beg for assistance to keep a roof over their heads while dad or mom are off brutalizing U.S. imperialism’s “enemies du jour”. It is disgusting that so many families of active U.S. soldiers must rely on charity for their basic needs, like food and clothing – while mom or dad risk their lives so that the numerically tiny billionaire class of the US can amass even greater wealth.  Why do we allow this to go on?

U.S. parents eagerly encourage their children to accept the Pentagon’s blood money so they can attend college.  “All they ask” is that your kids help murder other workers’ kids overseas for a few years.   Source: US Army

For revolutionary Trotskyists, we respect ALL of the victims of U.S. imperialism and its endless wars, not just the worker-soldiers who are driven into the bloody arms of the U.S. war machine in order to find a job or pay for college. We honor the so-called “enemy” workers who are always the victims of imperialist war, slaughtered in the millions by our own sons and daughters.  Yes it is our own sons and daughters who serve the aims of US bankers and war profiteers by serving in the military of the mortal enemies of all the world’s workers – the U.S. capitalist class.

Arkansas chapter of American Bar Association alludes to massive abuses of legal rights of active-duty, retired and disabled veterans. Source: American Bar Association “Arkansas Access to Justice Commission 2007 Annual Report”

We do not honor or support the cynical memorials for US soldiers that are organized by the professional killers of workers in the Pentagon, or by their capitalist masters. They spend millions of dollars every Memorial Day to fly U.S. flags from every flagpole and to place them on the graves of every soldier they sent to their deaths in pursuit of war profits. But when it comes time to pay for rent for the families of soldiers on active duty or for clothes for their kids or for housing for homeless vets, or for drug treatment centers or medical care for vets who have returned home suffering from effects of the wars they fought in, these phony capitalist “patriots”, wrapped in the flag every Memorial Day, are nowhere to be found!   We do not support the imperialist armed forces of the US capitalist state, whose role is to crush every workers’ rebellion that occurs anywhere in the world so as to “keep the world safe for the U.S. capitalist class and their corporations”.  The soldiers in the armed forces of the US capitalist class, though they are our own sons and daughters – are not “our troops”: they are THEIR troops; the troops of the US capitalist class and their imperialist war machine.  They answer to orders given by the US capitalist class, not to orders given by us.  It is a sad fact that many US workers encourage their own children to join the military forces of the very capitalist class that exploits workers at home and murders them overseas!  Our sons and daughters are being sent all over the world to murder their working class sisters and brothers – and we allow the US capitalist class to do this, while at the same time we shed tears over the thousands of dead US worker-soldiers who have given their lives so a handful of filthy rich US capitalists can continue to live like kings!  This is what happens when workers are so politically ignorant that they can not tell their friends from their mortal enemies.

Memorial Day is a time for those of us in the revolutionary Trotskyist workers movement to remember and honor the lives of the tens of millions of worker-socialists and communists who have died fighting for a world in which no one’s sons or daughters will ever have to fight in an imperialist war again. We honor the memories of these millions of worker-communists who sacrificed their own personal comfort by dedicating their lives not to a cozy but vacuous debt-ridden “middle class” dream but to the emancipation of all of the world’s workers from exploitation at the hands of the capitalists, and who gave their lives fighting not for the 1% but for the benefit of the workers of the entire world. These heroic worker-communists led every successful workers revolution in history – and died fighting in the many unsuccessful revolutions as well. They have been slandered and abused by the capitalists of the world who first sought to drown their struggles for the emancipation of the working class in blood and then falsified the history of what they fought and died for so that workers today don’t even know that these worker-heroes ever lived or what they fought and died for. From the coal mines of Kentucky to the copper mines of Arizona; from the cotton fields of the South to the oil fields of Alaska, courageous workers who fought against slavery and then fought to organize unions to defend the rights of workers were brutally attacked and many killed at the hands of the cops and company gun thugs and hired strikebreakers unleashed against them by the ancestors of today’s U.S. capitalist class.  On every Memorial Day the Trotskyists remember them all!

The U.S. Civil War was the last time the U.S. armed forces were employed in a revolutionary cause that advanced the rights of the working class.

We remember the worker-revolutionaries of the Civil War era who came out of the struggle against slavery and became beacons of freedom to workers and peasants and slaves all over the world: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and John Brown and his brave wife and family. We honor the memory of the ex-slaves, free blacks and abolitionist workers who volunteered to fight in the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War and who did so specifically to overthrow the slave power of the Confederacy, arms in hand!  The U.S. Civil War was the LAST time that the US military fought on the progressive side of a war.  Ever since then every US war has been an imperialist war fought primarily to increase the personal wealth and political and economic power of the U.S. capitalist class!

In Chicago we honor the memories of those brave worker-communists and trades unionists who were shot down in cold blood by the Chicago Police under the orders of the steel bosses at what has become known as “The Memorial Day Massacre” of 1937.  This was the blood-price demanded by the “Little Steel” bosses for the workers daring to organize steel unions here in the “Land of the Free”(TM).

We honor the memories of the Haymarket Martyrs, anarchist and socialist workers executed by the capitalists of Chicago for daring to fight for the rights of workers and an 8-hour day. We honor the memory of Lucy Parsons, who kept the spirit of the Haymarket Martyrs alive to the last day of her life. We honor the memories of the civil rights workers who gave their lives fighting for rights for black workers and who died so often at the hands of the hired killers of the US capitalist class – the cops, the FBI and their Klan and Nazi henchmen.  We remember and honor the memory of Medgar Evers, Robert F. Williams, Viola Liuzzo – and so many others whose names the world will never know.

We honor the great worker-revolutionaries who rose from the ranks to become leaders of the workers of the US, and who paid for their honesty, self-sacrifice and dedication to the cause of the working class with long prison terms: Socialist Party leader, opponent of the military draft in WWI and defender of the Russian Revolution Eugene Debs; Trotskyist leader James Cannon;  Marine Corps veteran and Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt; black Communist Party member, movie star, athlete and legendary opera singer Paul Robeson; heroic US Communists Ethel and Julius Rosenberg – to name but a few. How many U.S. workers even know these names? The US capitalist class has made sure that their names are never mentioned in the bourgeois press or memorialized by Hollywood. It is up to the revolutionary socialists to keep their memories alive!

We remember and honor the heroic workers and peasants who fought to overthrow Tsarism and then had the courage to forge ahead and overthrow capitalism as well in the great Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 and the Civil War that followed! Thousands of these brave workers and peasants were butchered at the hands of the counterrevolutionary White Guard armies, sponsored by the United States, Great Britain and other imperialist powers of the “free world”. Many lived through the horrors of the Civil War in Bolshevik Russia only to be later brutalized at the hands of Stalin and, later, Hitler and their executioners. And yet they continued to fight to put the Stalinized Soviet Union back on the road of Lenin and Trotsky to the end of their lives!

Of course we honor the great syndicalist and communist leaders from all over the world who gave their lives fighting for the emancipation of the working class internationally: “Big Bill” HaywoodJohn Reed, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Vladimir Lenin, Abram Leon – and the millions of communist women and men whose names will forever be unknown to the world – who fought for the working class forces in every workers revolution, from the Paris Commune to the failed revolutionary movements in China in 1927, Indonesia in the 1960s, the Philippines, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Iran, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, South Africa – to name but a few; we honor the millions of worker-communists and their friends butchered by the US capitalist class in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Korea and the victims of US imperialism being murdered by our deluded sons and daughters every day in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and so many other countries. We honor the men and women of the Trotskyist Left Opposition imprisoned and executed in the Stalinist USSR, who carried the banner of Lenin and Trotsky in the face of brutal persecution until death closed their eyes forever! Their names will never be known to history but their heroic struggles will never be forgotten so long as there is a revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist workers party in existence!

Capitalism must die so that the working class may live! Workers of the World, Unite!

— IWPCHI

Chicago’s Democratic Party-Controlled Union “Leadership”: No-shows at Huge #FightFor15 Union Rally in Chicago

Huge Midwest Rally for the #FightFor15 Kicks Off – 23 May 2017. Of course no one gave a moment’s thought to picketing the huge building in the background that houses the racist, capitalist Democratic Party criminals who run Chicago like a slave plantation.  (Photo by IWPCHI)

(23 May 2017) –  There was a large and very spirited rally of thousands of union workers from across the Midwest held in Chicago today in support of the #FightFor15 movement.  Unions from Kansas City, Cleveland, and Detroit all showed up in large numbers; but there was one group conspicuously missing: the unions from Chicago itself!  They were M.I.A.  And not one Chicago politician or Chicago AFL-CIO union piecard dared to mount the speakers’ platform at the end of the rally, either.  Frankly, we don’t think anyone missed them; but their absence was an insult to the thousands of mostly black (and Hispanic) workers from throughout the Midwest who spent hours on buses traveling to Chicago to attend the rally, who probably expected to be welcomed by their union sisters and brothers here in Chicago.  Sadly, almost certainly due to Chicago Democratic Party machinations, it was not going to happen.  The so-called “friends of labor” Democrats are scared to death of any manifestation of class solidarity among workers from across the region; and they’ll do anything to prevent “their” Chicago unions from meeting union militants from other Democratic Party-controlled cities in the Midwest.  To the Democrats, union solidarity spells “big trouble down the line.”

Kansas City, Presente! (Photo by IWPCHI)

Detroit union workers brought a large contingent of the pride of black Detroit and their fine banner. (Photo by IWPCHI)

This is a small part of the large group of trade unionists from Cleveland. (Photo by IWPCHI)

The rally was directed by the Democrats leading the AFL-CIO unions that participated (particularly the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU); the main targets of their anger were (of course) Donald Trump and the McDonald’s Corporation, which has been fighting against #FightFor15 ever since the campaign was launched.  But for whatever reason the Democratic Party-controlled Chicago unions were complete no-shows at the march and on the podium at the end of the rally.  We attended the march and rally and did not see a single Chicago union banner!  What a disgrace!

Hispanic workers from Chicago and throughout the Midwest were well represented – as usual! (Photo by IWPCHI)

The rally assembles at Daley Plaza, 23 May 2017. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Our very modest abilities to intervene politically in the rally were limited by our organization’s small size;  our slogans were: “Dump the Democrats and Build A Workers Party” and “$15 an HR?  NOT ENOUGH!  We Need a $25 an HR Min. Wage in Chicago!”

Why “dump the Democrats”?  Because the Democrats are one of the two political parties owned and operated by the US big business interests – the capitalist class – who create their wealth by robbing workers of the product of workers’ labor.  In the capitalist system, all profits are squeezed from the labor of the workers; the capitalists are always trying to devise new ways to increase their profits by cutting wages and benefits  and by eliminating as many workers as possible and making the remaining workers do their own  jobs as well as the jobs of those who were fired.

“Get up! Get Down! Chicago Is a Union Town!” Yes it is but thanks to the Democrat-controlled union “leadership” you’ll rarely see Chicago union workers hitting the streets – especially when union sisters and brothers from throughout the Midwest are in town. (Photo by IWPCHI)

March assembly point: ready to hit the streets of Chicago. (Photo by IWPCHI)

The Democratic Party politicians are essentially hired directly by the capitalists through campaign contributions to those politicians.  All Democratic Party politicians get the majority of their campaign funding from the capitalist bosses.  This means that the loyalty of the Democratic party politicians – just like the Republican politicians – it to the capitalist class, not the working class.  The Democrats are the bought-and-paid-for representatives of the capitalist class just as the Republican Party politicians are.

As workers, members of the working class, we can not expect to have our  interests represented by politicians who are in the pay of the capitalists who exploit us!  That is why we place so much importance on the slogan “build a workers party”.  In order for the workers to have honest political representation at city hall, the state house, and in Congress, we have to create workers parties of, by and for the working class that are completely independent of the capitalist class in every way.  If we want to have control of the direction taken by local, state and national government, we must build workers parties based on the trade union membership and fully funded by the workers through donations and party dues payments (just like union dues).  The US working class is 175 million strong; if each worker gave just one dollar a month to an independent workers party, we’d have enough money to run candidates for every local, state and national representative body and soon WE would be deciding what legislation gets passed and what legislation gets dumped in the trash where it belongs!  Until the working class builds its own fully independent workers parties, working people will continue to have to beg the bought-and-paid-for politicians owned by our class enemies – the capitalists – to toss us a few crumbs every once in a while!

Communities United contingent gets ready to march. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Ready to roll! “Whose streets? OUR STREETS!” (Photo by IWPCHI)

“There is power in a union”. Yes but not when the union is on a leash held by the capitalist class through the agency of the Democratic Party. Dump the Democrats and Build a Workers Party! (Photo by IWPCHI)

That is why we have created the Independent Workers Party; we want to be YOUR party.  It is 100% independent of the capitalist class and is fully funded by workers.  As it grows, it will train its members in working-class history and prepare rank-and-file workers to become the honest political leaders the working class desperately needs in order to fight for workers’ rights until we become the majority party in the US and then we can give the entire capitalist system the funeral it has deserved for more than a century and create a revolutionary socialist workers government!  A workers government would pass a modern workers Constitution and Bill of Rights that would “outlaw” racism, sexism, homelessness, poverty and war.  Food, clothing, housing, education and medical care would become permanent “inalienable rights”.  No one could ever be evicted from their home for inability to pay the rent; no one could be denied medical treatment or food because they couldn’t afford it.  College education would be free.  Workers who lost their jobs would get 100% of their pay as unemployment benefits until they got back to work.  Daycare services would be free and available 24/7/365.  This is what 21st century socialism looks like!

Heading north on Michigan Avenue towards the Chicago River – and Trump Tower. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Trump Tower. Chicago home of the new Killer Clown in the White House. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Why do we say “$15 an HR? NOT ENOUGH”?  Because $15/hr is not enough money to live on in any major US city!  Economists say that in order for anyone to be making enough money to live comfortably, their rent should not be more than roughly 1/3 of their monthly take-home pay.  In Chicago, a decent 3-bedroom apartment (for a family with 2 kids) in one of the better neighborhoods costs $1500/mo or more (not including utilities!).  This means that a worker needs to make approximately $4500/mo or $1125/wk., which amounts to approximately $28.25 an hour!  So how can anyone pretend that a $15 minimum wage is going to be anywhere near enough to provide a decent standard of living for a person supporting a spouse and 2 kids?

A few years ago, a group of researchers calculated the minimum wages necessary for workers to live decently in every state in the US.  Here are their results:

Wages necessary to afford just a 2-bedroom apartment in the USA; these figures are several years old. The figures are statewide averages and do not show the much higher “housing wages” necessary to live decently in big cities like Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles.

With the rate of inflation running at around 2% a year, real wages are steadily declining unless workers receive at least the same percentage in a pay raise.  We say that not only is $15/hr not enough for Chicago; but unless the minimum wage is backed up by a full cost-of-living increase indexed to inflation annually, any increase in the minimum wage will quickly be eroded as inflation eats away at the new wage.

The goal of the Democrats and Republicans, working together to represent the best interests of the capitalists who paid them to run for office, is to take their sweeeet time before they raise the minimum wage.  By the time they finally pass the $15 minwage for the country (if they ever do that) it have depreciated so much that it will not be enough to sustain a small family at all.  When the greedheads like McDonald’s Corporation claim that workers are being “too greedy” asking for $15/hr, they are consciously lying.  They know that in fact $15/hr is easily doable – which is why the Democratic Party-affiliated #FightFor15 organization is supporting the inadequate demand of a mere $15/hr.  But they intend to draw out the implementation of this badly needed minimum wage increase for as long as they can, so their wealthy benefactors can rake in their megaprofits for as long as possible before the minwage increase hits them in their pockets!

Heading up N. LaSalle Dr. towards the Rock and Roll McDonald’s for the rally. Taken from the back end of the march, showing the huge numbers of workers who participated.  The cross-street closest to us in this photo is Kinzie; obviously the march stretches down four to six city blocks.  (Photo by IWPCHI)

Arriving at the “Rock and Roll McDonald’s” in Chicago. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Workers were only allowed to stand on two sides of the McDonald’s building, and were not allowed to block the entrances or exits.  The McDonald’s was closed during the rally. Oh, yeah: did we mention that it rained like hell for most of the march?  No? Well it rained like hell for most of the march – but like good union workers everywhere, these Midwestern trade unionists were prepared for any eventuality.  (Photo by IWPCHI)

Chicago Police blocked the exits… (Photo by IWPCHI)

…and entrances to the McDonald’s building – this car appeared to be an employee leaving the site. (Photo by IWPCHI)

Speakers addressed the rally from the back of a flatbed truck. (Photo by IWPCHI)

It appeared that this speaker read a statement from “Patriotic Millionaires” in “support” of the #FightFor15 campaign! Workers, who make up around 75% of the US population, do not need the “help” of millionaires – “patriotic” or otherwise – who represent less than 7% of the population.  (All we must ask of the millionaires is that they please don’t try to stand in the road in front of the workers movement lol)  (Photo by IWPCHI)

Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry was the only top trade union official who addressed the crowd. All of the Chicago union “leaders” seemed to have boycotted the event. A disgrace for them and “their” unions! (Photo by IWPCHI)

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry gave a rousing speech in which she denounced McDonalds’ corporate greed and pledged that her union, at least, would stand up to defend US workers and also staunchly defend immigrant and refugee rights.  Immigrant and refugee rights are indeed under severe attack from the Trump administration – just as they were under the Obama administration.  This too proves that the differences between the Democrats and Republicans are far outweighed by the similarities.  In the final analysis, the Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same capitalist coin.  Workers must never allow our enemies in the capitalist class (and their government stooges) to divide the working class aginst itself.  We say: “Full citizenship rights for all immigrants and refugees – NOW!”  Immigrants and refugees are the allies of the US working class, not our enemies.  Our enemies are the in the US capitalist class which exploits all workers and attempts to create divisions amongst workers in every way they can: along religious, ethnic, sexual and every other line.  Unions are our first line of defense against this crap.  “An injury to one is an injury to all!  Workers of the World, Unite!”

— Independent Workers Party – Chicago

 

Malcolm X Birthday Tribute: “The Democrats are Dixiecrats” and “The Ballot or the Bullet” Speech

Malcolm X after 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca.  Source: Wikipedia, “Malcolm X”

On this celebration of what would have been the great US civil rights leader Malcolm X’s  92nd birthday we honor his memory by publishing a transcription of a speech he gave around 1964 which contains his brilliant deconstruction of the Democratic Party’s phony “friends of black workers” charade as well as his famous “the ballot or the bullet” warning to the racist capitalist US government.

Though the majority of the Democratic Party’s top leaders have long since dispensed with the outright white supremacist ideology they espoused at the time Malcolm X gave this speech, they still run most of the US’ major cities: every one of which is a racist hellhole for black and Hispanic workers, prominently featuring a brutally racist police department and judicial system run and defended by the Democrats.  In 2017, many major US cities – where unemployment for black workers runs as high as 60% or more and where the racist cops routinely gun down black workers as if they were dogs – are run by black Democrats.  The end result of the racist US criminal justice system remains largely the same as it was back when all these cities were run by white segregationists.  Black workers are still the last hired and first fired; the jails and prisons are packed with mostly black and brown bodies.  Today, instead of Northern Democrats running the country (as Malcolm X says) “in cahoots with Southern Dixiecrats” they are running the country as a giant “con game” in cahoots with their fellow hatchet-men (and women) of the US capitalist class in the Republican Party.

Malcolm X – brilliant as he was when he was at his best (and in this speech he is at his best) was never won over to revolutionary – that is, revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist – politics.  He was at first a Muslim fundamentalist, and later a black nationalist.  Neither of these ideologies are revolutionary in the 21st century, especially in a modern capitalist society whose working class is composed of workers of all ethnic backgrounds.  Only Marxist revolutionary integrationism can organize the multi-ethnic working class of the United States into an unconquerable, unified revolutionary force necessary to emancipate the working class from the capitalist system which is fundamentally based on the exploitation of the working class.

Malcolm X presented a militant counterpoint to the non-violent method of “struggle” favored by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the pacifist, pro-capitalist wing of the Civil Rights Movement that wound up its career in the lucrative (for them) but politically dead-end of Democratic Party politics.  Today the utter bankruptcy of the idea that by placing “black faces in high places” (in the Mayors’ and Congressional offices and offices of the municipal police forces)  racism would gradually “wither away” under the capitalist system – is fully exposed as the fraud the revolutionary Marxists always said it was.  Millions of black workers have long ago stopped even bothering to look for jobs that no longer exist as the capitalist greedheads have turned formerly thriving industrial cities into jobless ghost towns.

Malcolm X points out how the division of labor between the Northern Democrats and the Southern Dixiecrats prevented the successful promulgation of Civil Rights legislation from being passed until the rise of the Civil Rights movement and the threat that it could turn into an integrated revolutionary movement of the working class forced the bourgeoisie to make concessions to head off the birth of that potential revolutionary movement.  Bourgeois historians tell the lie that the Democrats – as they had done in the 1930s and 40s with Roosevelt’s New Deal – proved they had the interests of the working class and black workers at heart.  In fact the Democrats were merely doing their best to save the capitalist system from itself in both cases, by heading off the development of a revolutionary socialist workers movement by making timely concessions to the workers, thus temporarily defusing the powder keg of working class anger that threatened to bring down the entire US capitalist system.

This is why we say that the Democrats are not the “friends of labor” but the mortal enemies of the working class and the most formidable obstacle to the development of revolutionary consciousness among workers – and particularly black workers – in the USA.   The willingness of the bourgeoisie to absorb and neuter nascent revolutionary movements via last-minute concession-making is one of the keys to the resilience of a capitalist system that should have been overthrown decades ago.  We say :”Dump the Democrats (and of course the Republicans too) and build a workers party to fight for a workers government!  If we want there to be a future for our children and grandchildren free of poverty, racism, sexism, unemployment and war we absolutely MUST overthrow the capitalist system before it staggers into World War Three – a prospect which seems more likely with each passing day.  Quite simply put: “Capitalism must die so that the working class may live”.  And this is why we seek to create the vitally necessary revolutionary Trotskyist vanguard party composed of workers from every ethnic background to fight side-by-side as sisters and brothers against the common enemy: the US capitalist class and its bought-and-paid for Democratic and Republican political water-carriers.  Only a workers party based upon the only model that has successfully overthrown the capitalist system – a Leninist vanguard party – has the capability to overthrow the racist exploitative capitalist system of the US and create an egalitarian socialist workers republic where racism, sexism, poverty, homelessness, unemployment and war will become permanently relegated to the history books.

Workers of the World, Unite!

— IWPCHI

********************************

Note: The audio file that this transcript is made from can be downloaded (or listened to) here:  https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/malcolm-x/the-dixicrats.mp3

Malcolm X speech: “The Democrats are Dixiecrats – it’s the Ballot or the Bullet” (1964/5?)

“22 million black victims of Americanism are waking up; and they’re gaining a new political consciousness… becoming politically mature. And as they become… develop this political maturity they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again… which means that any bloc… any minority that has a bloc of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. [Applause] You’re in a position to determine who’ll go to the White House and who’ll stay in the dog house. [Laughter, applause]. You’re the one who has that power. You can keep [President Lyndon Baines] Johnson in Washington, D.C. or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. [Shouts, applause]

“You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington; you’re the one who put the present Democratic administration in Washington, D.C.. The whites were evenly divided; it was the fact that you threw 80 per cent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House.

“When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington, D.C. only because of the Negro vote: they’ve been down there four years; and their… all other legislation they wanted to bring up they’ve brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you! And now they bring up you! [Scattered laughter] You put them first and they put you last! [Laughter, “That’s right!”] ‘Cause you’re a chump! [Laughter, applause] “A political chump! [Voices: “That’s right Malcolm!” “That’s right.”]

“In Washington D.C., in the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republicans. In the Senate there are 67… Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The party that you’ve backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate… and still they can’t keep their promise to you! ‘Cause you’re a chump. [Voices: That’s right! Applause]

“Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two thirds of the government and that party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election-time and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party you’re not only a chump but you’re a traitor to your race! [Shouts, applause]

“And what kind of alibi do they come up with? They try and “pass the buck” to the Dixiecrats.

“Now, back during the days when you were blind, deaf and dumb – ignorant, politically immature – naturally, you went along with that. But today, as your eyes come open and you develop political maturity, you’re able to see and think for yourself; and you can see that a Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat… [Shouts: “Yeah! Light applause] … in disguise. {Applause]

“You look at the structure of the government that controls this country: it’s controlled by sixteen Senatorial committees and twenty Congressional committees. Of the sixteen Senatorial committees that run the government, ten of them are in the hands of southern segregationists. [Voices: “That’s right!”] Of the twenty Congressional committees that run the government, twelve of them are in the hands of southern segregationists! And they gonna tell you and me that the South lost the war! [Laughter, applause]

“You, today, are in the hands of a government of segregationists: racists; white supremacists who belong to the Democratic Party but disguise themselves as Dixiecrats! A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat. Whoever runs the Democrats is also the father of the Dixiecrats! And the father of all of them is sitting in the White House! [Voices: “Right!” Applause]

“I say and I say it again: you got a President who is nothing but a southern segregationist. [Voice: “That’s right!” Applause] From the state of Texas. They’ll lynch you in Texas as quick as they’ll lynch you in Mississippi… [Applause] … only, in Texas, they lynch you with a Texas accent; in Mississippi they lynch you with a Mississippi accent! [Laughter, applause]

“And the first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee! [Laughter, applause] To show that he’s all right! [Laughter] And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee! [Laughter… a pause… then applause]

“They come away from the coffee table… telling you and me that ‘this man is all right’. [Laughter] ‘Cause he’s from the South! [Laughter] And ‘since he’s from the South, he can deal with the South’!

“And look at the logic that they’re using: what about [racist Mississippi Senator James] Eastland? He’s from the South! Make him the President! He can… if Johnson is a ‘good man’ ’cause he’s from Texas and being from Texas will enable him to ‘deal with the South’, Eastland can ‘deal with the South’ better than Johnson! [Laughter, applause]

“No-oo, I say you’ve been misled. You been had! You been took! [Laughter, applause]

“I was in Washington a couple weeks ago… while the Senators were filibustering. And I noticed in the back of the Senate a huge map; and on this map it showed the distribution of Negroes in America. And, surprisingly, the same Senators that were involved in the filibuster were from the state where there were the most Negroes. Why were they filibustering the Civil Rights legislation? Because the Civil Rights legislation is supposed to guarantee voting rights to Negroes in those states; and those Senators from those states know that if the Negroes in those states can vote, those Senators are down the drain! [Voices: “Yeah!” Applause] The Representatives of those states go down the drain!

“And in the Constitution of this country it has a stipulation wherein whenever the rights, the voting rights of people in a certain district are violated then the Representative who’s from that particular district – according to the Constitution – is supposed to be expelled from the Congress. [Voice: “That’s right!] Now, if this particular aspect of the Constitution was enforced, why, you wouldn’t have a cracker in Washington, D.C.! [Shouts, applause]

“But what would happen? When you expel the Dixiecrat, you’re expelling the Democrat! When you destroy the power of the Dixiecrat you’re destroying the power of the Democratic Party! [Voice: “Amen!”] So how in the world can the Democratic Party in the South [he probably meant to say “North” – IWPCHI] actually side with you, in sincerity, when all of its power is based in the… in the South? These Northern Democrats are in cahoots with the Southern Democrats! [Applause]

“They’re playing a giant con game: a political con game! You know how it goes: one of ’em comes to you and makes believe he’s for you; and he’s in cahoots with the other one that’s not for you. Why? Because neither one of ’em is for you! But they got to make you to go with one of ’em or the other. So this is a con game! And this is what they’ve been doing with you and me all these years.

“First thing – Johnson got off the plane, when he become President… he asked: ‘Where’s Dickie?’ [Voice: Yeahhh!] You know who ‘Dickie’ is? Dickie… woah! Southern cracker Richard… [Georgia Senator] Richard Russell! [Laughter] Look here! Yeeesssss! Lyndon B. Johnson’s best friend is the one who’s heading the forces that are filibustering Civil Rights legislation! You tell me how in the hell [slaps hand on podium] is he gonna be Johnson’s best friend? [Applause]

“How can Johnson be his friend, and your friend, too? [Voices: “Right!”] Naw, that man is too tricky – especially if his friend is still old Dickie! [Laughter and applause]

“Whenever the Negroes keep the Democrats in power, they’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. This is true! [Voices: “That’s right!”] A vote for a Democrat is nothing but a vote for a Dixiecrat!

“I know you don’t like me saying that! But I… [Shouts, applause] … I’m not the kind of person who’d come here to say what you like. I’m gonna tell you the truth whether you like it or not! [Shouts, applause]

“Up here in the North you have the same thing. The Democratic Party don’t… don’t do it, doesn’t… they don’t do it that way; they got a thing that they call ‘gerrymandering’. [Laughter, shouts] They… they maneuver you out of power! [Laughter] Even though you can vote they fix it so you voting for nobody. [Laughter] They got you going and coming. In the South they’re outright political wolves; in the North they’re political foxes. [Laughter] A fox and a wolf are both canine; both belong to the dog family. [Laughter, applause] Now… you take your choice: you gonna choose a Northern dog or a Southern dog? [Laughter, applause] Because either dog you choose, I’ll guarantee you, you’ll still be in the dog house! [Laughter, applause]

“This is why I say: “it’s the ballot or the bullet”; it’s liberty or it’s death; it’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. [Applause, shouts]

“America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody: oh, yes they are. They haven’t ever had a blood-less revolution. [Shouts] Or a “non-violent” revolution. [Voice: “Right!”] That don’t happen even in Hollywood. [Laughter, applause] You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy. And you don’t have a revolution in which you’re begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems; [Applause] revolutions destroy systems. [Applause] A revolution is bloody…. [long pause, audience is silent] … but America is in a unique position: she’s the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a blood-less revolution. The Russian Revolution was bloody; Chinese Revolution was bloody; French Revolution was bloody; Cuban Revolution was bloody – and there was nothing more bloody than the American Revolution. [Voices: “That’s right.”] But today, this country can become involved in a revolution that won’t take bloodshed. All she’s got to do is give the black man in this country everything that’s due him. [Voices: “That’s right! Applause] Everything! [Applause]

—- Original transcription by IWPCHI

No support to James Comey or the FBI – Mortal Enemies of the US Working Class!

This week’s firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey by President Donald Trump has aroused the indignation of conservatives and liberals alike, who decry the Trump Administration’s alleged attempt at “politicization” of the FBI by interfering with the “work” of the agency as it investigated alleged collusion between members of the Trump for President campaign and the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin in order to “rig” the US Presidential election of 2016 in favor of Trump.

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we take as the fundamental basis of any analysis of any capitalist government and its agencies that the working class and its organizations must oppose all of the police agencies of the capitalist state and recognize that they are NOT designed “to protect and serve the people” nor are they “neutral arbiters” of the law – as the liberals and the fake-socialists would have you believe – but are in fact highly politicized and partisan in favor of the capitalist class and against the working class, its organizations and their supporters.  As revolutionary Trotskyists, though we do defend the very real gains of the bourgeois revolutions of 1776 and 1865 and though we defend and seek to extend the limited rights enjoyed by the workers which are enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, we do not defend or support the capitalist state, its police agencies, its military or its courts, as they are all weapons in the hands of the capitalist class which are used to suppress and destroy the workers movement as the working class struggles to emancipate itself from the capitalist system of wage slavery, racism, unemployment, poverty and war.

The FBI is nothing less than a US version of the same secret police agencies in every nation-state in the capitalist era that have terrorized and sought to “disrupt, discredit and destroy” every organization the working class has created to fight to defend workers rights against the depredations of the capitalist class and its greed-based economic system of capitalism. The FBI was designed, from its very inception, to be the federal police agency that would be responsible for crushing the militant and revolutionary socialist workers movement of the United States. Shamelessly propagandistic US television shows and movies portray the FBI as some kind of squeaky-clean utterly non-political honest and trustworthy police agency – nothing could be further from the truth! If “the truth is out there” – you can be sure that the FBI and its hordes of agents, informers, provocateurs and apologists are doing their best to find it, kill it and bury it where it will never be found! To hell with the FBI!

The FBI traces its origins to the Red Scare run by US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who organized the notorious “Palmer Raids” to round up suspected US radicals and labor militants who sympathised with or openly supported the Bolshevik Revolution of October, 1917, which was the very first successful revolution in world history that made the workers and peasants the ruling class of what was formerly Tsarist Russia. The militant labor movement in the US at the time was led largely by the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs, which had, along with the Bolsheviks and a handful of other revolutionary socialist parties, steadfastly refused to support the United States Government’s intervention in WWI; they were joined by the powerful anarcho-syndicalist trade union movement organized by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); both organizations had opposed the war and many members of both came out in favor of the Bolshevik Revolution.  Debs was thrown into prison for giving anti-war speeches against the recruitment of US workers into the US military in WWI.

Fearing that the Russian Revolution was the beginning of a world-wide movement to overthrow the capitalist system, which had been massively discredited by the horrific mass slaughter of WWI caused by the inter-imperialist rivalries of the leading capitalist nation-states of the time, the US capitalist class , like its fellow capitalist ruling classes worldwide, was thrown into a state of panic at the prospect that here in the USA there would be a similar uprising of the working class to overthrow the capitalist class that had been responsible for the slaughter of millions of workers in WWI. To prevent this from happening, the US Attorney General Palmer unleashed the US Justice Department’s “Bureau of Investigation” to hunt down, brutalize and imprison – and even deport – “radicals” who sympathised with the Russian Revolution. Casting the widest net possible, the cops arrested, brutalized and murdered workers in every part of the US labor movement, from the AFL-CIO to the IWW. Union halls were destroyed; pro-union newspapers had their presses smashed. One of the things the US capitalist class hated the most about the socialists was that they welcomed into their organizations workers of every nationality and race, including immigrant workers. The socialists and IWWs (or Wobblies”) fought against racism and sought to organize all workers together in the same unions – black and white, native-born and immigrant. For all these reasons the infant Communist Party of the US as well as the pro-Soviet Socialist Party and the IWW were the main targets of the Palmer Raids and suffered the most from the attacks. It was an onslaught was so brutally “successful” (in the eyes of the US capitalist class) that it wasn’t until the 1930s that the trade union movement was able to get back on its feet once again with a militant communist and communist-sympathising leadership that built the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) and led the greatest rise in trade union membership and increase in the standard of living for workers that the US has ever seen (~1935-1948).

The forerunner organization that would later become the FBI was created by Palmer in August of 1919; it was organized as the Bureau of Investigation’s “General Intelligence Division”: its first leader was the notorious J. Edgar Hoover.

Palmer charged Hoover “with the responsibility of gathering and coordinating all information concerning domestic radical activities… through the unstinting zeal of Hoover, this unit rapidly became the nerve center of the entire Justice Department… by 1920 [it had] made its war on radicalism the department’s primary occupation.” (Source: “Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920” by Robert K. Murray; McGraw-Hill, 1964).

Hoover, who had learned about organizing huge collections of files from his work at the Library of Congress, organized a file system in which he placed the names of over 200,000 US citizens and immigrant workers who were classified as “radicals”. This was the rotten foundation upon which the FBI was built.

From 1919 to the present day, every US citizen or resident who ever supported the Civil Rights Movement, the socialist movement or the Communist Party or any event organized by the various US revolutionary socialist parties thereby came under the scrutiny of the FBI.  From E.B. White to John Lennon every singer, artist, writer or political activist that ever opposed the US Government in any way or who criticised the FBI was added to the FBI’s voluminous files of “subversives”.  (See, for example “Dangerous Dossiers” by Herbert Mitgang, Ballantine, 1988)

Since its inception the FBI has been at the forefront of every attempt by the US capitalist class to infiltrate, disrupt and destroy the workers movement of the USA. The FBI attacked unions; it attacked socialist and communist parties; it attacked the Civil Rights Movement; it set up the infamous COINTELPRO conspiracy against those elements of the US working class it fears most: the communists and the black working class.

The FBI has sent its agents and placed informers in fascist and Ku Klux Klan organizations and then stood by and watched as those Klan and Nazi scum beat and murdered workers, including men, women and children. It has conspired to assassinate young leaders of the workers movement, like Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party.  In the 1960’s the NAACP’s Robert F. Williams was set up for summary execution by local, state and federal police agencies by the FBI’s lying slander that he was an “armed and dangerous” “kidnapper”.

The FBI was also instrumental in the frame-up and 20-year-plus imprisonments of class-war prisoners Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier – as well as the still-running persecution of such heroic US political activists as  Assata Shakur – and many others.

In 1993, the FBI, through its paid informer Emad Salem, organized and carried out the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, in which 6 people were killed and a thousand injured.

It has organized mass murder of dissident workers like the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas; it has most recently been involved in the planning of attacks against antigovernment protestors, one of which resulted in the murder of LaVoy Finicum during the 2015-16 protest at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The FBI’s infamous “crime lab” was caught red-handed grossly exaggerating and falsifying evidence, tailoring it to suit state and federal prosecutors’ cases! FBI crime lab technicians and FBI agents have a long, long history of consciously committing perjury in US courtrooms. The FBI has framed up environmentalists and sent them to prison for decades; it has framed up anarchists and antifascistss and sent them to prison. The FBI has taken organized crime hitmen, put them on its payroll and helped them take over leadership of organized crime networks… and then looked the other way while they committed murders! The FBI has proven again and again to be the mortal enemy of the US working class and of anyone who dares to stand up to the continuous attacks on workers rights and the environment launched endlessly by the money-worshipping US capitalist class and its corporations. There is literally no crime which the FBI and its agents have not committed during its far-too-long malignant existence! Only a child, fool or a congenital liar can look you in the eye and call the FBI a pillar of impartial justice.

In short: we don’t give a rat’s ass what happens to the FBI – so long as it weakens that cesspool of reactionary intrigue and conspiracy against the working class! When the workers of the USA finally overthrow the capitalist class and take power, the FBI will be immediately dismantled, root and branch and its leaders – past and present – will be brought before the courts of the new workers republic to answer for their many, many crimes.

Two of the most disgusting developments of this Trump vs. FBI dog-and-pony show have been the statements made in support of the FBI by courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks!

Snowden – who still imagines that he will one day be welcomed back to the NSA and CIA as a hero for exposing the “excesses” of the US domestic and international spying operations he revealed to the world – took the bizarre step of writing a series of Tweets in support of now-deposed former FBI head James Comey!

Snowden’s most recent “expose” is of his vast ignorance of how the political system of the United States works – and how the US capitalist class and its government views “traitors” like himself. It is likely that the only way Edward Snowden will ever be able to return to the US as a free man is in the wake of a workers socialist revolution in the USA. But if he keeps expressing his love for the FBI and keeps pining to get his old security clearance and desk back at Langley, he’ll still be “persona non grata” then as well!

Julian Assange went a step further, offering Comey a job working for WikiLeaks’ non-existent bureau in Washington D.C.!

He’d better be kidding.

Assange – whose politics are a somewhat milder version of repulsive pro-capitalist and reactionary libertarianism – also would do well to take a few months of his sequestration in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London to study the basics of Marxism. If nothing else, it would help to clarify what side of the class line he wishes to take his stand upon: that of the working class or of the capitalist class. We created the “Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago” organization to defend WikiLeaks from attacks launched against it by the US Government. In the event that Julkian Assange and WikiLeaks begin to hire “former” FBI agents to work for WikiLeaks, the days of our support for them will be over. Once they start hiring agents of US imperialism to work for them, WikiLeaks will quickly be transformed into another pro-US NGO like Human Rights Watch, that will be just another brick in the wall of US imperialism.

The Democrats are now posing as the great defenders of the FBI’s “independence” as a law enforcement agency against the alleged attacks being made against the FBI by the Trump administration. First of all, anyone who thinks that US billionaire real-estate swindler has ever given a moment’s thought to dismantling the FBI can just do everyone a favor and give up political analysis now and forever and get back to doing word-search puzzles or something. James Comey’s half-witted interference in the 2016 US Presidential election was enough to get him fired right then and there. He did more damage to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton than all the hackers and Russian agents combined. If anything needs to be investigated it is the interference of the CIA and the rest of the US “deep state” into the US presidential elections, both before and after the election proper. The machinations of Comey and of the Pentagon and its agents who are the focus of the alleged connections between the Russian Government and the Trump campaign need investigation; as well as the CIA-Pentagon takeover of “Trump’s” National Security Council!

Unfortunately, since the US working class has not one elected official in the Congress to call for such an investigation, it will not happen. The Democrats – supposedly the “friends of the working class” – have proven time and time again their incapacity to carry out their oversight responsibilities over the US “Deep State”, as the various satraps of the NSA, CIA and Pentagon routinely “testify” falsely to Congress, get caught doing it and… nothing is done to them!

The US “Deep State” proved it actually runs the USA when the CIA was caught red-handed spying on US Senate staffers as they attempted to investigate the CIA’s secret torture camps set up to brutalize suspected “terrorists” into “confessing” their “sins” past and present.  (See: NY Times, “Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel”, 31 July 2014)  That was a clear-cut case of the CIA placing itself illegally and monstrously above and outside the purview of the highest legislative body in the land. What did the Democrats do about it? Absolutely nothing! The CIA’s director at the time as well as everyone involved in the spying operation against the Congressional investigators should be cooling their heels in prison cells these days – but they weren’t even disciplined! Having abdicated their responsibility to the public to bring the CIA leadership up on charges of illegally spying on Congress, the Democrats surrendered the last line of defense the nation had against the “Deep State” this side of workers revolution. Now the Democrats can be seen running around frantically trying to pass the hat to anyone who is willing to commit political suicide by launching an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the allegations of Russian meddling in the US Presidential election and the Trump campaign’s alleged involvement in that scheme. When Comey made his damning presentation to Congress regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails, stopping just short of issuing indictments for her criminal acts just weeks before the election, the Democrats were furious and many were screaming for Comey’s head to be placed on a platter and sent to the House of Repesentatives: now, when Comey is fired by Trump for his inability to testify before Congress without, essentially, committing perjury, the Democrats are ready to begin the process for impeaching Trump! The US Congress has become such a banal comedy act that it has become a national embarrassment – to the US’ allies. Here in the USA, the bourgeois press has become so insipid and the working class (for the most part) has become so sick of the political games being played there, that the prospects for anything other than a continuation of the long-term dysfunction of the federal government look bleak to say the least.

It is absolutely imperative that the US working class organize its own revolutionary Trotskyist workers party immediately, to begin the work necessary to eventually kick this sad capitalist political fraud to the curb and in its place to build a workers government that will take the responsibility to guarantee all the necessities of human life in the 21st century for every woman, man and child in this country and around the world. This phony “democracy” is a conspiracy against the working class designed to squeeze every penny of profit possible from each and every one of us, leaving us without the money to provide ourselves with decent housing, clothing, food and everything else we need. These capitalist cretins and their politicians promise us a “future” of endless wars against endless enemies who they will constantly be creating via their endless wars – until they finally set off the chain of events that leads to the next world war – a nuclear world war – in which, this time, many if not all of the US’ major cities will be totally destroyed! If this is your idea of the kind of future you want for you, your kids, and your grandkids then just keep on doing what you’re doing now – supporting the capitalist class and capitalism by voting for its bought-and-paid-for political parties – and your “American Dream(TM)” will undoubtedly come true (in a brief blaze of fascist “glory”)… and then it’ll be Berlin, 1945 for the fascist USA!  (Trust us: you don’t want to go there).

Unter den Linden, Berlin, 1945.  If the USA keeps heading in the direction of fascism, it will end up like Nazi Germany…. except with far more people dead and far fewer buildings left standing after a nuclear WWIII.

If you want to create a long-term future of peace and prosperity for future generations, then you must realize that capitalism is barring the door to that future, and until we overthrow it, the human race can not go one step further! To overthrow capitalism we must create a revolutionary Trotskyist workers party that will lead that revolution to success and to the establishment of an egalitarian socialist workers republic where we won’t just have the right merely “to PURSUE happiness” but for everyone to actually achieve it. Join us!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago