Tag Archives: Why Socialism?

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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Why Socialism? Part One

Q: Why does the Trotskyist Independent Workers Party of Chicago call for a workers socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist class and its capitalist system and to replace it with an egalitarian workers socialist republic?

A: At the root of all social ills and evils is the capitalist class and its anarchic economic system, which is designed to exploit the many (theworking class) for the benefit of the few (the capitalist class).

Poverty; war; homelessness; police brutality; racial and sexual discrimination; all of these are caused by the normal workings of the capitalist system, an economic and political system designed to facilitate the systematic exploitation of the world’s natural resources and the labor power of its’ human population.

Capitalist economies are designed to funnel the profits created by the exploitation of human beings and natural resources into the hands of a tiny minority of people who run the world’s economic and political systems for their own selfish ends.  Only about 170,000 people on planet Earth are the richest people, capable of spending $150 million on a single painting and still having more than enough money left over to live like kings and queens.  ALL of their wealth is derived from the exploitation and superexploitation of workers, who make up the vast majority of the world’s population.

The capitalist system is based firmly on the “nuclear family”: one male and one female (or, now, two female or two male) wage- and debt-slaves raise the next generation of wage- and debt-slaves for future exploitation by future generations of capitalists.  The wage-slave parents carry out their responsibilities of inculcating in the heads of their children respect for the capitalist system and its police and military forces, and a robust belief that “our country” is better than all the other countries and must be defended at all costs.  Hatred of various despised races and religions is handed down, generation after generation, all to the benefit of the capitalist class, which can thereby organize the workers into military units to go anywhere in the world to defend the domestic and foreign investments of the capitalist masters.  The work of feeding, clothing, sheltering and health care of the young wage-slaves is financed using the wages and debt incurred by the parents, which is another huge gift to the capitalist class, as it means that the wages paid out by capitalists on the one hand are almost entirely returned to the capitalists through the economic activity of the wage- and debt-slave parents.  In the modern era, the capitalists have found that it is a far more effective method of social control to “pay” workers by extending them credit, rather than by actually paying wages.  This keeps the wage slaves drowning in debt, which forces them to work harder and longer every year to keep their heads from going deeper under water than they already are.  The proof that this system works effectively at brainwashing the wage- and debt- slaves into defending their own exploitation can perhaps best be seen here in the United States, where the vast majority of the heavily indebted wage- and debt-slaves are convinced that they are enjoying a “freedom” not to be surpassed anywhere in the world.

To call countries like the United States “democracies” is the capitalist class’ idea of a good joke.  They have successfully conned millions of wage- and debt-slaves (collectively known as “the working class”) into believing that they actually have a role to play in deciding which gang of politicians hired by the capitalists will get to “run the country” over a set period of time.  In fact, in “bourgeois democracies” like the USA and Great Britain, the working class plays almost no role at all in making such decisions.  It is the tiny minority of the capitalist class who finance every major political campaign and who decide well in advance of any election which party politician will be hired to do the bidding of the capitalist class.  Any politician deemed to be insufficiently loyal to the capitalist class, insufficiently dedicated to the continued existence of the capitalist system, will find him or herself unable to raise the funds necessary to get their name on the ballot.

The current US presidential campaign is a perfect case in point:  Hillary Clinton has raised over $1,000,000,000.00 for her Presidential run already.  She did not get the vast majority of that money from the working class: she was given it by the richest 1% of US citizens – the capitalist class.  And that money comes with a lot of strings attached: Ms. Clinton has made binding promises to each and every major donor to her campaign that whatever it is that they want done under  Clinton presidency will get done whether it is politically popular among the workers or not.

In every capitalist country in the world the capitalist class wields its massive wealth to sabotage any attempt made by the workers to fight for their rights, even to the extent of creating phony “political activism” NGOs and other organizations that pretend to defend worker rights but which invariably actually are financed by and therefore beholden to the capitalist class.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, 360.org and the Tor Project – to name but a few – are all firmly in the pockets of the big capitalists.  They will never, ever do either of two things: 1) oppose the “right” of capitalists to exploit workers and to amass tremendous private fortunes and 2) during times of “class peace” they will NEVER form any political party in opposition to the political parties of the capitalist class or to oppose the fundamental class interests of the capitalists.

Even this near-total control of the political and economic systems is not enough for the top capitalists, whose massive wealth alienates them more and more from the working classes of the world: they are not surprisingly terrified of the workers someday organizing themselves to topple the capitalist class from its increasingly precarious position atop the social pyramid.  This is why the capitalist class of the US, for example – in spite of decades of statistics showing a long-term decrease in violent crimes – has demanded that its hired politicians allocate more and more money to the military and police forces whose real role is not “to protect and serve” ALL classes of people, but, in the final analysis, to protect and serve the 1% of the wealthiest from the justified rage of the oppressed workers.

This is why, as more and more wealth has been squeezed out of the blood, bone and sinew of the working class and transferred to a smaller and smaller percentage of the capitalist class we have seen a concomitant increase in police and military brutality across the capitalist world.  The United States Government – wholly owned and under the direction of the US capitalist class – has even re-legalized torture and the right of the principal political representative of the capitalist class – the President of the United States – to order the extralegal assassination of US citizens who dare to oppose the class interests of the leaders of the US capitalist class.  Police brutality is not an aberration under the capitalist system, as the reformists dutifully and continually teach the workers; it is the norm and the necessary corollary of an economic and political system which ruthlessly exploits the many for the benefit of fewer and fewer.

Also in contradiction to what the reformists preach, environmental degradation and war are also symptoms of “normal” conditions of life under the throughly irrational capitalist system.  In their mad, global quest for more and more wealth, the capitalists must search in nation-states not their own for opportunities to enrich themselves, which brings them face-to-face with three sources of opposition: the raw materials they seek are in the possession and under the control of another nation’s capitalist class, and those raw materials are being worked by that nation’s workers.  The capitalist class of major imperialist countries first attempts to arrange a business deal with their competitor capitalists in that foreign nation-state under which the imperialist power gets the majority of the profits.  If the capitalist class of that minor nation-state proves to be unwilling to allow this to happen, then the imperialist power unleashes its secret police forces as well as its banking power to try to engineer a political change inside the target country that benefits the US capitalist class.  They will attempt to purchase politicians and capitalists; if that fails to work, the CIA will assassinate the obstreperous opponent of the US capitalist class.  If that fails, then they send in the Marines and overthrow the government under some phony pretext.

The military forces of a capitalist state do not defend the “national interests”, as the bourgeois press owned by the capitalist class would have us believe: they defend the foreign investments of the US capitalist class, making it “safe” for US capitalists to risk their stolen wealth by opening mines, oil fields and agricultural lands to their untrammelled exploitation.  If workers in these targeted countries rise up in revolt against the oppressive governments forced upon them and supported by US political and military intervention, the US capitalist class, through its secret police agencies and its military discover who the uppity slaves are among the workers and order their hirelings in that targeted country to arrest, torture and imprison those rebels – or they just have them murdered, or have the CIA/Navy Seals/Special Forces do it for them.

Lastly, the capitalist system is an ad-hoc system, under which, since every billionaire is free to invest his or her stolen wealth as he or she sees fit, no one is in control of the economy.  It lurches forward, propelled only by the blind lust for personal wealth of the capitalists.  Occasionally, opportunities arise to obtain superprofits in one or another economic sphere: it might be the spice trade in one era, oil production and distribution in another or even real estate.  Once it becomes clear to the smaller capitalists that the big capitalists have created a “bull market” in a certain economic area (let’s say real estate), hundreds of billions of dollars are rerouted from other spheres of exploitation and into the “booming” real estate sphere – and an economic crisis is precipitated.  As more and more investors seek to enrich themselves in this one area of the economic “boom”, prices begin to rise far beyond the intrinsic value of the property in demand, until the economic bubble bursts, causing extensive damage to the national or even the global economy.  Since no government in any capitalist state actually has anything like real “control” of the economy, the politicians and bankers find themselves unable to repair the damage they themselves created due to their unquenchable greed.  In the end it is the working class that is made to pay for the damage: social spending is cut and taxes are raised to plug up the financial holes created by the blowout of the speculative bubble.  And then the cycle begins anew.

To Be Continued – IWPCHI