Well, that was easy! Yes, writing that headline was quite straightforward; over the past few days, the political formulae fell into place as we watched the ominous events unfold on the Crimean peninsula.
So what does it all mean? “Defend Ukraine”? But the Ukrainian government is teeming with rabid Ukrainian nationalists and outright fascist scum! “Defeat Russian Imperialism”? Isn’t that the slogan of the US/EU/NATO/UN brigands who you want to keep their “hands off the Ukraine”? Is Russia an imperialist country? Aren’t there still many in the Russian government and military who honor the USSR? And aren’t the Russians moving into the Ukraine because they are upset at seeing Ukrainian fascists tearing down statues of Lenin and beating up Russian-speaking Ukrainians? Aren’t the Russians standing up against the fascists by defending the memories of the heroic Red Army soldiers who kicked Hitler’s Nazis out of the Ukraine and sent them back to a fiery and well-deserved death in Berlin?
The main crisis facing the revolutionary workers movement of today is the crisis of leadership!
We are not Marxist theoreticians of the calibre of Lenin and Trotsky – not by a long shot. But we should have learned enough Marxism to take a crack at parsing this not very complicated political question posed in Ukraine. (By comparison, the war in Syria is much more complicated). A socialist party should be composed of worker-militants every one of which can step forward at any time and lead the party in a revolutionary Marxist manner in a time of crisis. The idea that some “great leader” must arise before the working class can even begin to take a step forward is commonly-held… hogwash! The purpose of a revolutionary Trotskyist party is not to elevate a handful of “infallible leaders” to a ridiculously lofty position above the entire population of the world. We have seen far too much of that kind of political ladder-climbing in the past century and a half! Most of the once-revered “great leaders” turn out to have been not at all great – in fact they were downright repulsive when you look at them up close. There have been notable exceptions, all of whom have been slandered and whose names have been traduced – even by honest working men and women, in the most shameless fashion – Lenin and Trotsky to name two of the greatest; but for a successful workers revolution to take place it must have, not leaders who seek some day to have monumental sculptures erected in their honor in public squares everywhere, but humble fighters who dedicate their lives to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class worldwide and who seek no personal glory or fame whatever. Marx, Engels, Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky were men and women of this type. They all earned their honors through their lifelong, selfless work on behalf of the working class and peasantry all over the world; as great as they were even they made mistakes – some very serious. They were not afraid to make mistakes, and they never pretended that they were infallible; and when they made mistakes, they frankly admitted them, corrected themselves publicly and renewed their journey on the new path. We too will make mistakes and we are not afraid to admit that; we hope that we will be able to honor our illustrious predecesors, if not by achieving the level of their brilliant theoretical work, then at least in their fundamental honesty.. We do not have all the answers to all the world’s questions in a trophy case in our offices; nor will we find answers to all the world’s future problems in the century-plus-old writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. They proved their mettle and their intelligence and the overall correctness of their political leadership through battle after battle – and to victory over Tsarism. No socialist in the US has ever led such battles as they did. Revolutionary Trotskyists do not seek personal glory and immortality, we are seeking the emancipation of the world’s toilers from capitalist wage-slavery! And in the case of the crisis in the Ukraine, we must determine, not the path to the most widespread popularity through flattery and lies, but the most promising political road for the workers in the US, Ukraine and Russia and the rest of the world to follow in the long term – a path on which every single step taken by the working class of all these countries, working in closest revolutionary internationalist co-operation, will blaze a trail towards the victory of the workers and peasants of the world over capitalism! We must find that political road to follow along which the workers movement of the world will surge forward, smashing fascism, racism, imperialism along the way, blocking every attempt made by the capitalists to pit worker against worker in predatory wars and avoiding all the many other snares being constantly set before the revolutionary socialist workers movement. THAT is what we have tried to do with these slogans. As heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden told an interviewer last month when he was asked “Why did you do this?”: “It was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this.” That is why we formed this party: because the United States doesn’t have a revolutionary Trotskyist party worth a damn, sadly. There are parties out there, but they have proven to be absolutely incapable of inspiring the workers of the United States with the majesty of the original Marxist ideal: to create a world where the exploitation of man by man no longer exists. Where war, poverty, homelessness, and needless human suffering is relegated to “the dustbin of history”. So here we are, suddenly become “Marxist theoreticians”! Somebody’s got to do it; and anyone CAN do it who has studied and learned the lessons of the great workers revolutions of the 20th century and who believes, as we do, in spite of all the disasters that have befallen the Marxist movement in the past 100 years of its “success”. While it may be true that all the edifices that have been built so far by Marxist construction workers (utilizing tools and methods that had never been utilized in the real world before!) have proven for the most part to have been poorly built and faulty, we have examined the blueprints and find that it was not the original architects of Marxism/Leninism that failed, but its construction superintendents. We can and must do better – either that or we can just count the days until the capitalist greedheads launch WWIII. Sitting around wringing hands will accomplish nothing; begging the capitalists’ bought-and-paid-for politicians to “do the right thing” is a waste of time. The working class must produce Marxist leaders who, learning from all the errors and tragedies and betrayals committed by our predecessors, will do the job RIGHT this time! It CAN BE and it MUST BE done!
“The workers of the world have no country” so long as they live under the wage-slavery system of capitalism. This law of Marxism – which was written before the great proletarian victories in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam – is the formula that the revolutionary socialist workers movement raises upon its banners in order to destroy nationalism and petty national chauvinism, and to unite all the workers of the planet as the sisters and brothers that we truly are. Revolutionary socialists, if they are truly Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist – do not rally to the national flag of any capitalist state. Marxists seek to overthrow “their” bourgeoisie, who are the true “owners” of every capitalist country. In the US, this means that we do not support the US military, no matter where they go and no matter what they do, because we realize that the US troops – though they include our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters – do not answer OUR orders, but instead answer the orders given by our mortal enemies: the US capitalist class, the US billionaires, in whose service our children and grandchildren have been either economically drafted into the military or forced to enlist. The American capitalists and their counterparts in every other capitalist nation-state use THEIR military forces, not to benefit the workers here or anywhere else, but to DEFEND THEIR INVESTMENTS, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC! The US imperialist capitalist class doesn’t give a shit about “the rights of the Ukrainian people” any more than they care about the rights of any other group of workers anywhere, including the United States! All the US capitalists see in the Ukraine are raw materials, land and an exploitable workforce, which, if it was in the hands of the US capitalist class, would be filling the US billionaires’ vaults with even more money instead of all that wealth going to their economic and political counterparts in Putin’s Russia.
So, it is the duty of revolutionary Marxists in the US and Russia to say: “down with our ‘own’ bourgeoisie and its government and military!” That means we as revolutionary workers in the US give not one iota of support to the US capitalist military killing machine that is using OUR CHILDREN to murder our SISTERS’ AND BROTHERS’ CHILDREN all over the world! We want to rip the military forces of the world out of the hands of the capitalist classes of the world and place them “under new management”: the revolutionary working class! And so, in the Ukraine we say: DEFEAT RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM! and we call on revolutionary Marxists in Russia and the Ukraine to say the same thing! We say to “our” bourgeoisie: “US/EU/NATO/UN HANDS OFF THE UKRAINE!” because we KNOW that the US and European capitalists are all too willing to engage in the bloody slaughter of our Russian and Ukrainian brothers and sisters in order to seize the raw materials in those countries and to enslave the survivors of the war, placing the workers of Russia and the Ukraine into vassalage under the greedy capitalists of the US and western Europe! This longstanding Marxist/Leninist policy is called “revolutionary defeatism”: it is very unpopular while the workers of the world are still under the spell of nationalism and while they still reflexively salute the flag of their capitalist masters and slavishly “rush to the colors” whenever the capitalists see an opportunity to seize some new territory, and enroll the workers of their respective nations to slaughter their brother and sister workers in every other nation!
To our Ukrainian brothers and sisters we offer the hand of friendship by opposing the Russian imperialists’ intervention into the Ukraine in search of raw materials, profits, and to secure the markets for Russian goods that exist in the Ukraine. But we do not hold out the hand of fraternal friendship to the Ukrainian fascists, whose racism and vicious nationalism, whose anti-Semitism and love for Nazi war criminals like Bandera places them outside of human civilization! So we say to the Ukrainian workers: yes! we will fight side by side with you against the Russian imperialists: but we will not have fascists in the ranks of the revolutionary socialist workers! Drive the Nazis out of your organizations! “SMASH FASCISM! FOR WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IN THE UKRAINE!”
“For workers socialist revolution in the Ukraine”? YES! This is the only real solution to the economic and social crisis in the Ukraine; capitalism not only has no solution to the problems of unemployment, poverty and war, it is the chief cause of all these things. Only when the greed-based system of capitalism is overthrown and replaced with an egalitarian, democratically-run socialist workers republic can workers finally be freed from the endless struggle for survival that characterizes life under capitalism. Ukrainian nationalism has no solutions for the economic crises facing Ukraine: on the contrary: their “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” nonsense and their “Ukraine uber alles” philosophy would serve to cut Ukraine off from the rest of the world economically and politically and would exacerbate the economic hardships facing Ukrainians. The Bandera-worshipping Ukrainian fascists would turn the Ukraine into an ethnic cleansing zone, pitting workers of different nationalities against each other in a fratricidal bloodbath. Marxism, which recognizes the scientific fact that every human being on this planet is actually a “long=lost-relative” of every other human being on the planet, and which seeks to unify the working class population worldwide is the ONLY political philosophy that makes sense in a globally interconnected world. SMASH FASCISM! WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!