Tag Archives: reformism

Trotskyism 101: Does a workers revolution just happen “spontaneously”? Why do we need a “vanguard party”?

Does a workers revolution happen “spontaneously”?

Many self-styled revolutionares seem to think that a workers revolution arises spontaneously out of a protest without any preparation or any kind of leadership at all. These leaders (often of of supposedly “leaderless” organizations) really don’t know anything at all about revolution; they haven’t studied the long history of the struggles of the workers and peasants to free themselves from subjugation to the propertied ruling classes. To these faux-revolutionary leaders (but please remember not to call them “leaders” because their organizations are “leaderless”!) a workers revolution is like a magic show; all of a sudden the revolution is here like a rabbit from a hat. If they just choose clever slogans and chant them at the right time and get enough people to join along the next thing you know – voila! – REVOLUTION!  “If only we could get a enough workers into the streets we’d have a revolution just like that: the police would run away and the workers would be in power!  And then everything would be wonderful! Everyone would have plenty of food, health care would be free for everyone, college tuition would be free, everyone would have a nice apartment or house to live in…” etc., etc.

Maybe it’s like that in Hollywood movies but not in real life. It takes a political party of socialist revolutionaries with a revolutionary socialist program to ORGANIZE a revolution; workers revolutions don’t just fall into your lap like a ripe apple from a tree.
Why do you say we need a “vanguard party”?

It’s quite simple: there has NEVER been a successful revolution in the history of the world that did not have a revolutionary vanguard party of some kind at its head.

There is no such thing as a “spontaneous revolution”.  The French and American revolutions – which were bourgeois revolutions that brought the then -just-emerging capitalist class into power – had vanguard parties of the bourgeoisie leading the way forward.  Similarly, EVERY successful workers revolution of the 20th century had a revolutionary socialist (Leninist) vanguard party leading the way.  Anyone who tells you that you can overthrow capitalism without first organizing a revolutionary vanguard party and arming that party with a revolutionary Trotskyist program first could be a liar or a charlatan or just clueless but they are definitely NOT a revolutionary socialist out to rid the world of capitalism. Occupy Wall St., Black Lives Matter, WE ARE CHANGE – there are dozens if not hundreds of these reformist organizations – all pretending that they do not need to organize a political party to change things.  They are particularly hostile – note this! – to the very idea of a Leninist vanguard party.  That is because they really only want to reform elements of the capitalist system; they would like to someday be billionaires (or at least millionaires) themselves and don’t want to miss out on their chances by deliberately (or more likely, accidentally) overthrowing capitalism. They just want a more egalitarian capitalist status quo – which is of course impossible because the capitalist system is incapable of maintaining its own equilibrium for more than 8-10 years or so between economic crises.  Forget about establishing an egalitarian, stable “status quo” under capitalism! The staus quo under capitalism is a raging sea of conflict that threatens at any moment to bring the entire capitalist system to its knees.

The unequal distribution of wealth under capitalism is not an aberration that can be corrected by reforms.

It is said that approximately 80 billionaires own half of the capitalist world’s wealth. That did not happen by accident: it is the result of more than 300 years of the evolution of the capitalist system. Capitalism is inherently unfair; the distribution of wealth under capitalism is inherently unequal. If the capitalist system was made to be actually egalitarian it could no longer be called capitalist at all.

As Trotskyists we do not, like the reformists, only wish to “reduce” poverty or “reduce” the number of wars – we want to completely eliminate poverty and war from human society forever.  We don’t want to promote an insulting “tolerance” between workers but to create a situation in which there exists a profound working-class solidarity between each and every worker on earth, so we can live as sisters and brothers and share the wealth of this great planet as equally as possible as one great (hopefully mostly non-dysfunctional!) human family. This is the way forward, not a “future” of being forced to merely “tolerate” each other’s right to exist between battles over the scraps that fall from our capitalist masters’ tables. All these good things will not just happen because we wish for them.   We must organize a party with the right kind of program in order to get the results we want.

You can’t build a 100-story skyscraper with a set of blueprints for a summer cottage. Even the best construction workers in the world can’t build a functional skyscraper without a well-engineered plan and a complete and accurate set of blueprints, the tools necessary to do the work and a general contractor to coordinate the work of all the different trades.  We can not create a successful revolution without a proper plan and a party with a leadership that knows what it wants to do and how to do it.  If we want to overthrow the capitalist system and to build socialism to replace it then we need a a damned skillful and intelligent Trotskyist vanguard party for our “contractor” and a set of “revolutionary blueprints” – a revolutionary Trotskyist program – to work from. If we use reformist blueprints we’ll get the same old capitalist pig with a different color of lip gloss – that’s about all.

IWPCHI

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GREECE – SYRIZA to Greek Workers: “Referendum Just a Ploy for Better Bargaining Position with Our EU ‘Partners'”

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we take an oath to never lie to the workers of the US or the world, no matter how unpleasant the truth.  While many self-styled “revolutionary” socialist parties have praised SYRIZA  as being an authentic revolutionary socialist party, seeing all kinds of revolutionary potential in this thoroughly reformist and pro-capitalist political party, we have steadfastly exposed SYRIZA for what it is.  SYRIZA is leading the Greek working class into a political dead end, determined at all costs to stay in the European Union even if it means administering a brutal austerity programme against the Greek working class at the behest of the EU banksters.  SYRIZA’s pro-capitalist programme is the last, best hope of the disgusting, decrepit Greek capitalist class whose only loyalty is to their own bank accounts.

We don’t posses a crystal ball that enables us to see through the doubletalk of capitalist politicians of SYRIZA and other political formations like them; what we have is the Marxist dialectical method which enables us to analyze the class relationships that exist in every society which enables us to analyze what class is being served by the political party in question.  In the case of SYRIZA, a Marxist analysis of the public pronouncements of SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras suffices for us to see clearly that this party is absolutely NOT a revolutionary working class party but a pro-capitalist reformist political party.

Here again in two separate statements issued in the past few days Tsipras openly proclaims his allegiance to the capitalist class and its economic system and declares that no matter the outcome of the bogus referendum, he and the leaders of his party have no intention of leading Greece out of the Eurozone.  In fact he declares that the only reason SYRIZA has staged this referendum was to improve their bargaining position and to wrest some concessions from the EU bankers who want the Greeks to hand over their country and rob their citizens as collateral for more EU loans.

The only way out of the crisis that the capitalist class of Greece has brought upon themselves is workers socialist revolution.  A revolutionary socialist workers party would not endeavor, as SYRIZA has, to resuscitate Greek capitalism but would put it out of its misery, helping to give it a long-awaited funeral by repudiating the debt completely and organizing the seizure of power by the Greek working class.  SYRIZA will never do any such thing; and those fake-leftists who continue to sell SYRIZA to the working class as a bona-fide revolutionary party are liars who are betraying the workers and leading them into the abbatoir of austerity being prepared for the working class by the Greek and European capitalists.

Vote ‘No’ in the referendum – and dump SYRIZA, who are more interested in sucking up to their “partners” in the Troika than in making a partnership with the Greek working class!  There is no future for the working class under capitalism!

– IWPCHI

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SYRIZA: Two statements from Alexis Tsipras

1) Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ message

July 1, 2015

Greek citizens,

We are at a critical juncture regarding the future of this country.

Sunday’s referendum is not about whether our country will stay in the Eurozone.

This is a given and no one should question this.

On Sunday we will choose whether to accept the institutions’ agreement or whether, with the strength of the people’s verdict, we will seek a viable solution.

In any case, I want to reassure the Greek people of government’s firm intention to reach an agreement with its partners, with conditions that are sustainable and will provide for the long-term.

Since we announced our decision to hold a referendum, better proposals have been offered concerning the debt and its necessary restructuring than those that were on the table on Friday.

We did not ignore them. We immediately submitted our counterproposals asking for a viable solution, and for this reason an extraordinary Eurogroup meeting was convened yesterday, which will continue this afternoon.

Should there be a positive outcome, we will respond immediately. In any case, the Greek government remains willing to negotiate and will do so until an agreement is reached. The government will be at the negotiating table on Monday as well, immediately after the referendum, seeking better terms for the Greek people.

A popular verdict is always so much stronger than the will of a government alone. And I would like to reiterate that democratic choice is a core European tradition. During very important moments in European history, the people have made important decisions through referenda.

This happened in France, and in many other countries, concerning the referendum on the European constitution. This happened in Ireland, where the referendum temporarily voided the Treaty of Lisbon and led to a renegotiation, that resulted in better terms for Ireland. Unfortunately, in Greece’s case, we’ve been subjected to different standards.

Personally, I would have never expected that democratic Europe would not understand the need to give some space and time to a people to sovereignly make a choice about their future.

The prevalence of extreme conservative forces led to the decision to asphyxiate our country’s banks–with the obvious aim of blackmailing not just the government, but each each citizen individually.

It is unacceptable in a Europe of solidarity and mutual respect to have these disgraceful images:

For the banks to be closed, exactly because the government decided to give the people the opportunity to express their will;

And for thousands of elderly people to be deeply inconvenienced. However, the Greek government, despite the financial asphyxiation, took the appropriate measures and made sure that pensions were paid and deposited into the accounts.

We owe an explanation to these people who have been so inconvenienced:

We have been fighting all these months in order to protect your pensions.

To protect your right to a decent pension and not a miserly “tip”.

The proposals that they tried to blackmail us in order to accept demanded huge pension reductions.

And we refused to go along with this.

And this is why they are retaliating today.

The Greek government was given an ultimatum to implement exactly the same austerity measures, and all the outstanding aspects of the memorandum that had not been implemented.

And, in fact, without any provisions on the debt and financing.

This ultimatum was not accepted.

The self-evident alternative was to reach out to the people.

And this is what we have done.

I am well aware that during this period the sirens of destruction have been blaring.

They are trying to blackmail you as well, and ask that you vote YES on all the measures requested by the institutions, without any prospect of exiting the crisis.

They want you to side with those in Parliament who have repeatedly said YES to all the measures that have burdened the country.

To become one with them.

Complicit in perpetuating the memoranda.

It is important to understand, NO is not just a slogan.

NO is a decisive step towards a better deal that we aim to be signed immediately after Sunday’s result.

It constitutes the clear choice of the people concerning how their lives will be going forward.

NO does not mean breaking with Europe, but rather, returning to a Europe of values.

NO means: strong pressure for an economically viable agreement that will solve the debt issue, that will not increase the debt so that it continuously undermines our efforts to rebuild the Greek economy and society.

A socially just agreement that will allocate the burdens to those that can shoulder them, and not the workers and the pensioners.

An agreement that will allow the country, in a short period of time, to access the international financial markets, and thus end the supervision and guardianship.

An agreement containing reforms that will punish, once and for all, those who enable corruption and that have been fueling the political system all these years.

And at the same time, it will address the humanitarian crisis, create a comprehensive safety net for those who are marginalized–precisely because of the policies that have been implemented in our country for so many years.

Greek citizens,

I am fully aware of the difficulties.

I personally pledge that I will do everything possible so that these difficulties are temporary.

Some insist on linking the referendum’s result to the country staying in the euro.

They claim that I have a hidden agenda, if the NO vote prevails, to remove the country from the EU.

They are knowingly lying.

These are same people who used to say the very same thing in the past.

And they do a great disservice to the people and to Europe.

As you are aware, a year ago during the European elections, I was a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission.

I stood before the Europeans then, just as now, and I argued that austerity policies must stop, that the memoranda will not lead to an end to the crisis.

That the program implemented in Greece failed.

That Europe must stop behaving in an undemocratic manner.

A few months later, in January 2015, the Greek people confirmed these sentiments.

Unfortunately, certain people in Europe refuse to understand this, refuse to admit this.

Those who want a Europe of authoritarianism that fails to respect democracy, those who wish for Europe to be a superficial union with the IMF being the “glue” that binds, are not visionaries for Europe.

They are timid politicians, unable to think as Europeans.

They stand side by side with those in our domestic political system, who are responsible for leading our country to bankruptcy, and that now have the gall to attempt to dump the burden on us–even as we’ve been trying to put an end to the country’s course of destruction.

They dream, indeed, of being restored to power.

This is what they’ve been hoping for—and still hope for, irrespective of whether we accepted the ultimatum–as they have blatantly sought an unelected Prime Minister who would implement it– or whether we gave our people the opportunity to express their will.

They talk of a coup. But democracy is not a coup. Unelected governments intent on manipulating circumstances—that is a coup.

Greek citizens,

I want to wholeheartedly thank you for the calmness and composure you’ve shown during every hour of this difficult week.

I want to assure you that this situation will not drag on.

It will be temporary.

Salaries and pensions will not be lost.

The deposits of citizens who did not withdraw their money or place it abroad will not be sacrificed on the altar of expediency and extortion.

I personally assume responsibility for reaching a solution immediately after the democratic process.

I urge you to strengthen this negotiating effort with your support, I invite you to say NO to the memorandum measures that are destroying Europe.

I invite you to respond positively to the prospect of a viable solution.

To turn a page, that calls for upholding democracy.

With the certain hope that we will reach a better deal.

We owe this to our parents, our children, ourselves.

It is our duty. We owe this to history.

Thank you.

[Source: http://www.primeminister.gov.gr/english/2015/07/01/prime-minister-alexis-tsipras-message/ Retrieved 4 July 2015]

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2) Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ message

July 3, 2015

My fellow citizens,

The time for responsibility and democracy has arrived. The fear-mongering and threats of disaster must stop.

When a nation takes a stand on its future, it has nothing to fear.

Let us all go to the polls calmly, and let us make our choice based on the arguments–and not the slogans.

Yesterday an event of major political importance occurred. The International Monetary Fund released a report concerning the Greek economy.

The report is a great vindication for the Greek government; it confirms the obvious–that the Greek debt is unsustainable.

Per the IMF, the only way that the economy can recover and the debt be made sustainable is through a 30% haircut and a 20-year grace period.

The institutions never presented this report to the Greek government during the five months of the negotiation, during the five months that we have been negotiating.

It is also missing from the institutions’ final proposal that the Greek people will be approving or rejecting on Sunday.

The IMF’s report vindicates our choice to not accept a deal that ignores this integral issue, making the debt sustainable.

In short, the main driving force behind the memorandum has confirmed our assessment, the fact that the proposal we were given will not lead to a sustainable exit from the crisis.

We should all recognize this crucial fact.

On Sunday, what will be determined is not whether Greece remains in Europe.

What will be determined is whether, under duress and blackmail, we will accept the continuation of a policy that even its creators are now admitting has failed.

On Sunday, what will be determined is whether we will consent to the slow death of our economy and the impoverishment of our society.

If we will accept to further reduce pensions, so that an unsustainable debt will be repaid with the savings of the pensioners.

Or, if with determination, we will strengthen our negotiating resolve to achieve an agreement that will finally put an end to the destruction of the last five years.

My fellow citizens,

With the polls opening shortly, I urge you to act with civility and to respect opposing views, so that we may present a united front in the negotiation. For our common tomorrow, our common future.

No matter what we vote on Sunday, there will be nothing to divide us on Monday.

Nobody is disputing the country’s membership in Europe. Voting “NO” to an unsustainable agreement does not mean a break with Europe.

It means continuing the negotiation with better conditions for the Greek people. Therefore, I urge you to say “NO” to ultimatums, to blackmail, to fear.

But I urge you to say “NO” to being divided, as well.

NO to those who are trying to incite panic and prevent you from deciding with composure and responsibly for your own future.

I urge you to decide in favor of democracy and dignity.

For a proud Greece that will remain standing in a Europe of democracy and solidarity.

[Source: http://www.primeminister.gov.gr/english/2015/07/03/prime-minister-alexis-tsipras-message-2/  Retrieved 4 July 2015]