Showing posts with label workers councils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workers councils. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 22, 2025

The General Strike In Greece- Make The Bosses Pay-Victory To The Greek Workers!

Click on the headline to link to a BBC online report of the events surrounding the two-day General Strike in Greece.

Markin comment:

The international working class movement and its allies, including in the Occupy movement, needs to support the Greek workers in their General Strike. The line is drawn in the sand. Make the bosses (in Greece, and internationally) pay. The bosses created the mess, let them pay. If not, move aside and let the workers rule. As for the Greek workers, who today stand as the vanguard of the international working class offensive against the bosses austerity drive-Build workers councils in order to prepare to take power and create a workers government. The time is now. Labor must rule

Sunday, October 19, 2025

The General Strike In Greece- Make The Bosses Pay-Victory To The Greek Workers!

Click on the headline to link to a BBC online report of the events surrounding the two-day General Strike in Greece.

Markin comment:

The international working class movement and its allies, including in the Occupy movement, needs to support the Greek workers in their General Strike. The line is drawn in the sand. Make the bosses (in Greece, and internationally) pay. The bosses created the mess, let them pay. If not, move aside and let the workers rule. As for the Greek workers, who today stand as the vanguard of the international working class offensive against the bosses austerity drive-Build workers councils in order to prepare to take power and create a workers government. The time is now. Labor must rule

Friday, July 18, 2025

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"- Greece: Mass Anger Over Savage Austerity-Workers Must Rule!-For a Socialist United States of Europe!

Markin comment:

As always in such general strike and possiblly pre-revolutitonary situations a call by communist propagandists for independent working class organizations to take power is in order. For A Greek Communist Party-Greek Trade Union Federations (and whoever else of the up-against-the-wall middle class and student elements they can bring in) government!
Workers Vanguard No. 983
8 July 2011

European Crisis and the Bankruptcy of Capitalism

Greece: Mass Anger Over Savage Austerity-Workers Must Rule!-
For a Socialist United States of Europe!

On June 29, as a two-day general strike virtually shut down the country and tens of thousands protested outside, the Greek parliament approved a new round of brutal austerity measures demanded by the Greek bourgeoisie and its imperialist overlords. The demonstrators—who included, in addition to workers, a broad range of the population from students and other youth to professionals and retirees—were viciously attacked by club-wielding riot police. More than a year of unrelenting attacks on the living standards of the Greek population has resulted in seething unrest across broad layers of society. In the last year alone, there have been at least a dozen one-day general strikes and massive protests. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, homelessness has skyrocketed and many people, especially pensioners, are reliant on soup kitchens for their survival.

Video footage of the wanton violence meted out by the cops has provoked widespread indignation, as has another video documenting collusion between the police and hooded provocateurs who infiltrated the protesters. Police fired endless volleys of tear gas and stun grenades and pummeled protesters with chunks of masonry. At least 38 were reportedly arrested in what was blatantly a cop riot. We demand that all charges be dropped against the anarchists and other anti-austerity protesters, including those arrested during the earlier general strikes!

It is clear for all to see that working people are being fleeced to pay for a crisis they are not responsible for. The economic crisis gripping Greece—a particularly severe expression of the world capitalist crisis—was triggered in the spring of last year as global financial capitalists, fearing that the heavily indebted Greek government would default on its loan obligations, began spurning Greek government bonds. The plummeting price of those bonds threatened European banks, especially in France and Germany—foreign financial institutions are exposed to some 340 billion euros in Greek public and private debt.

To try to head off the crisis, at least temporarily, the European Union (EU) and the IMF agreed last year to a 110 billion euro “rescue package” on condition that Athens impose draconian austerity measures on Greece’s working people. The October 2009 elections replaced the right-wing New Democracy (ND) regime with the bourgeois-populist Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of George Papandreou, with the bourgeoisie calculating that the masses would more readily accept “sacrifice” if demanded by PASOK. The PASOK government answered the EU and IMF’s ultimatum with a year-long campaign of slashing public sector workers’ wages, gutting pensions and ramping up taxes. These attacks hit hardest at the poorest in society, including immigrant workers. In addition, Greek officials, in response to EU/IMF demands that they raise cash by privatizing a host of state-owned enterprises, have launched what the bourgeois press describes as a “fire sale,” auctioning off airports, ports and prime land.

European capitalists fear that a default by Greece could immediately pose a similar collapse by other heavily indebted countries such as Ireland and Portugal, which have already received bailouts from the EU and IMF, and Spain, whose economy is larger than that of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined. Fearing the potentially catastrophic effects of such contagion, the EU/IMF hastily agreed last month on a second “rescue package” for Greece, amounting to a further 120 billion euros. Yet hardly anyone believes that these bailouts will do more than delay the inevitable default.

Everyone can see that the fate of the Greek working class, and much of the petty bourgeoisie, will be ever more dire without a radical solution. The working masses have demonstrated their combativity time and again. But the workers’ leaders, whether the despised PASOK-loyal tops of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) or the far more militant-sounding Greek Communist Party (KKE) and its PAME labor front, have thus far succeeded in channeling workers’ anger into what amounts to militant parliamentary lobbying. In effect, they appeal to the Greek capitalists to stand up to their senior partners in Germany and France. This nationalist class collaboration is a recipe for demoralization and defeat.

The allies of the Greek proletariat are to be found not among its “own” exploiters but among the workers elsewhere in Europe and beyond. A proletarian upheaval in Greece could trigger a wave of class struggle throughout Europe against the ever more brutal and incessant attacks of the capitalists against the jobs, benefits and living standards of all workers on the continent. A workers government in Greece would immediately repudiate the imperialist debt. Such an act would require a direct appeal to the proletariat, from Germany and France to Spain and Portugal, to come to the defense of their Greek class brothers and sisters against the combined forces of the European bourgeoisies.

As long as Greek workers are mobilized primarily against the foreign diktats of the IMF and EU, they will be unable to see that opposing the imperialists is intertwined with overthrowing the Greek bourgeoisie. The Greek government is not simply a tool of the European and other imperialist powers, as some signs in the Athens demonstrations suggest, but of the Greek bourgeoisie that has always exploited, suppressed and bled the working class in the pursuit of profit.

The question that is objectively posed is the need for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist order and the establishment of working-class rule. Yet there is a huge disparity between the objective needs of the Greek working class and oppressed on one side and the political program of their leadership on the other. The repeated strikes and protests are designed to dissipate the anger of workers, whose militancy is clearly not the issue. The problem is that the working class is hamstrung by a leadership that accepts the need for the working class to bear some degree of austerity to “bail out” capitalism, while objecting that the terms and conditions dictated by the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are too severe.

The program of the labor bureaucracy—defined by what is “practical” under capitalism—has led to disaster for the working class. To overcome the gulf between the workers’ present consciousness and the necessity for a workers government based on organs of proletarian power, a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party would put forward a series of transitional demands, starting from the felt needs of the masses and pointing the way toward the seizure of state power by the working class and the expropriation of the rapacious capitalist class.

To combat mass unemployment, it is necessary to demand the sharing of available work, with no loss of pay, and a massive program of public works. To protect even their current living standards—already among the lowest in Europe—workers must demand that wages be indexed to inflation. To unmask the exploitation, robbery and fraud of the industrialists and bankers, workers should demand that the capitalists open their (real) books. With the imperialists demanding the dismantling of state enterprises, the proletariat must fight for the expropriation of the productive property of the capitalist class as a whole and the establishment of a planned economy under workers rule, where production would be based on social need, not profit.

Combat National Chauvinism!

Throughout Europe, the capitalist press and politicians have been whipping up a chauvinist frenzy against Greeks, who are portrayed as lazy, ungrateful scroungers. Last year the right-wing German Bild (27 October 2010) screamed: “Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks…and the Acropolis too!” A recent London Financial Times (9 May) editorial demanded: “Athens must be put under the gun.” For all the talk of bailing out Greece, the only “bailout” that is taking place is that of Europe’s banks. Columnist Martin Wolf noted in the Financial Times (21 June): “It is far less embarrassing to state that one is helping Greece when one is in fact helping one’s own banks.”

With chauvinist arrogance, the European imperialists, led by Germany, are seeking to impose on Greece, an EU member state, the kind of diktat they are accustomed to issuing to neocolonial countries in the Third World. The Financial Times (17 June) reports that officials of the “troika”—the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission—are demanding that “outsiders” be brought in “to make Greece’s privatization program happen,” adding that “because Greece seemed incapable of collecting taxes, international experts would come in to do that, too.” The article further reports that Finnish officials were insisting that “Athens assets should be securitised so they could be used as collateral. If Greece defaulted, lenders would gain an airport or some other utility.”

The imperialists’ dismissive attitude to Greece’s sovereignty has in turn fueled national chauvinism in Greece. Right-wing opponents of the EU/IMF’s bailout include New Democracy, Greece’s main opposition party. ND represents Greek business interests that have no intention of paying the imperialists’ extortion themselves and fear, as BBC economics editor Paul Mason put it, “a tax bill the like of which they have never dreamed, nor indeed paid.” However, ND and PASOK are united in the determination that Greek working people pay for the country’s economic crisis.

Recent months have seen the explosive growth of a new movement, the so-called “indignant citizens” movement. The “Indignados” placed themselves at the head of the mass mobilizations outside parliament, where Greek flags proliferated, the Greek national anthem was sung and anti-American and anti-German sentiment was rife. Protesters have waved EU flags with a swastika at the center—equating “German” with “Nazi” and invoking the spectre of World War II, when Greece was occupied by German imperialism (followed by rampaging British troops).

In Spain, the Indignados movement arose in response to the austerity measures that were being enforced by the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Party government before its huge defeat in the last elections. In Greece, the petty-bourgeois Indignados emerged in the context of the abject failure of the trade-union bureaucracy to present any way forward for the struggles of the working masses. The two main trade-union federations, the GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private and public sectors respectively, are controlled by PASOK, which is imposing the austerity measures. Despite the “socialist” reference in its name, and the credentials given to it by opportunist left groups, PASOK is a capitalist party.

Broad layers of the middle class that could be rallied behind an insurgent proletariat struggling for power are instead being drawn into virulently chauvinist, anti-immigrant and anti-working-class movements. Displaying overt hostility to the organizations of the working class and the left, the Indignados present themselves as a “pro-democracy” movement of all classes. As in Spain, all leftist political parties and trade unions, as well as red flags and banners, were banned from the Greek protests at first. Not surprisingly, given the nationalist fervor whipped up by the Indignados, Golden Dawn and other fascist outfits have been seen at the protests.

There has been an ominous rise in racist attacks, as desperately impoverished immigrants are used as scapegoats for the economic devastation. Earlier this year, fascist thugs rampaged through a heavily immigrant area of Athens, killing one person and wounding many more. Golden Dawn got over 5 percent of the vote in municipal elections in Athens late last year. According to the London-based Institute of Race Relations, Golden Dawn’s Nikos Michaloliakos, accompanied by eight apparently armed bodyguards, gave a Nazi salute at a council meeting in Athens in January.

The fascists are emboldened by the racist policies of the government. Greece’s border with Turkey is one of the front lines of “Fortress Europe,” with EU border patrols employed to keep immigrants out. The Greek government has announced plans to build a razor-wire fence, equipped with sonar systems and thermal sensors, along the border. The workers movement must fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and to unionize foreign workers. For union/minority mobilizations to stop fascist provocations! For integrated workers defense guards to protect immigrant neighborhoods!

Communist Party: Left Face of Greek Nationalism

The Stalinist KKE adopts a posture of militant opposition to the PASOK government and promotes PAME as a class-struggle alternative to what it calls the “government- and employer-led” trade unions. But the Greek Stalinists present no fundamental alternative to the betrayals of the GSEE/ADEDY union misleaders. Despite its occasional verbal radicalism, the KKE is hostile to the program of workers revolution to overthrow Greek capitalism.

The KKE’s political bankruptcy is evident in regard to the Indignados. In an article in Rizospastis (5 June), the KKE correctly noted that “the ‘anonymous’ leaders of the ‘movement of the squares,’ the ‘non-partisan,’ ‘spontaneous,’ ‘non-politicized’ citizens, appear to be politicized, declaring themselves ‘anti-left’.” The article adds that with their slogans “Out with the left,” “Parties out” and “Trade unions out,” the Indignados are “not that democratic, or, to be more accurate, they are undemocratic.” What the KKE cannot challenge, though, is the virulent nationalism of the Indignados, which the KKE itself shares.

Indeed, the KKE has made defense of “national sovereignty” its own calling card, and is particularly virulent in espousing Greek nationalism in relation to Turkey, the traditional enemy of its “own” bourgeoisie. For example, in a speech last year, KKE general secretary Aleka Papariga complained that the EU was not taking account of “our national sovereignty rights” when considering Turkey’s bid for membership. She went on to chastise Papandreou for “trying to cover up the issue by dividing the Aegean, something that will have an adverse effect on the islands’ defense.” Nationalism within the workers movement is the chief obstacle to constructing a genuine revolutionary workers party in Greece.

It is a travesty that the KKE retains a reputation as militant fighters against capitalism based on the Resistance against the Nazi occupation and the subsequent Greek Civil War of 1946-49. In pursuit of its program of class collaboration with the Greek bourgeoisie, the KKE handed power back to the bourgeoisie following World War II. The working class, backed by the peasantry, was the decisive force in the anti-Nazi Resistance, mounting massive strikes and demonstrations from late 1942 until the withdrawal of German troops in 1944. The working class, arms in hand, had state power in its grasp. But its leaders, the treacherous KKE, actually welcomed the arrival of British troops into Greece, enabling the imperialists to stabilize the situation, bring back the hated monarchy and massacre the workers.

The Greek Stalinists lived up to the terms of the secret Tehran agreement, whereby Stalin granted the imperialists the “right” to preserve capitalist rule in West Europe and Greece. Politically disarming the proletariat, the Stalinists went so far as to join a “national” government of the bourgeoisie. In February 1945, they signed the Varkiza agreement, which physically disarmed the KKE-led Resistance forces as British troops and the Greek National Guard were preparing to unleash a full-scale wave of terror against the masses. Only in February 1946 did the KKE finally abandon its suicidal policy and take up the “armed struggle” again. In October 1949, after ferocious repression, the Civil War was ended. The KKE ranks had fought heroically. But needless to say, the KKE learned nothing from the tragic consequences of its treachery and continues to pursue its bankrupt program of subordination to the Greek bourgeoisie.

What the Trotskyists wrote at the end of World War II holds true for the role of the Stalinists throughout the Civil War:

“The Greek masses were burning with revolutionary determination and wished to prepare the overthrow of all their oppressors—Nazi and Greek. Instead of providing the mass movement with a revolutionary program, similar to the Bolshevik program of 1917, and preparing the masses for the seizure of power, the Stalinists steered the movement into the blind alley of People’s Frontism. The Stalinists, who enjoyed virtual hegemony of the mass movement, joined with a lot of petty bourgeois politicians, lawyers, professors, who had neither mass following nor influence, and artificially worked to limit the struggle to the fight for capitalist democracy.”

—“Civil War in Greece,” Fourth International, February 1945

The social-democratic reformists in Greece—such as the Socialist Workers Party (SEK), which is affiliated to the British group of the same name, and Xekinima, the Greek affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI)—stand to the right of the KKE in their enthusiasm for the anti-Communist, anti-working-class Indignados. For example, Xekinima calls to “Extend the movement to all work places, workers’ neighbourhoods, and the youth” (, 27 June). The notion of classless “democracy” that these groups promote has long been an anti-Communist code word that actually means support to bourgeois class rule. Thus, both the SEK and Xekinima supported capitalist restoration in the former Soviet Union in 1991-92 and hailed counterrevolutionary forces such as Polish Solidarność and Boris Yeltsin’s Russian “democrats.”

For Workers Revolution!

The Trotskyist Group of Greece fights to forge a Leninist-Trotskyist party capable of leading the working class to power. Above all, this means breaking the workers from nationalism and winning them to a revolutionary internationalist perspective. During Round One of the present crisis, the TGG issued a 28 April 2010 leaflet that opposed the widespread Greek nationalism as “poisonous to class consciousness.” Any effective struggle against the bosses’ attacks must begin with the understanding that the workers have no country, until they seize the one they’re in. Our comrades insisted: “What is needed is international workers solidarity across the EU against capital” (see “Down With PASOK Government’s ‘Stability Program’!” WV No. 959, 21 May 2010).

The Greek financial crisis has increased the seething national antagonisms in Europe, as seen in the diplomatic spats between France and Germany. German chancellor Angela Merkel, unpopular at home and with a shrinking majority in the Bundestag (parliament), has clashed with French officials and with the ECB over whether the bankers have to accept some losses. Following pressure from the IMF, Merkel agreed to a new bailout package while the French banks have offered to roll over Greek debts for 30 years. Whatever divisions there may be within bourgeois circles over how to deal with the catastrophic financial situation, in Germany, France, Britain and Europe as a whole, each government is determined to make the working masses pay for a crisis that is caused by the capitalist system itself.

The EU is an imperialist trade bloc, centered on a pact between the French and German capitalist rulers to ratchet up the exploitation of the working classes at home while trying to gain advantage over their imperialist rivals as well as the smaller European states. At the same time, the EU is an unstable formation that intensifies national antagonisms and fuels chauvinism.

We Marxists oppose the EU from the perspective of proletarian internationalism. The comrades of our German section, the Spartakist Workers Party, last year published an article titled “Solidarity with the Greek Workers! For Class Struggle Against the German Capitalists!” (Spartakist No. 183, May 2010), which noted:

“The chauvinist campaign against Greece is being set in motion so as to prevent the German working class from hitting on the idea of placing blame for the crisis at the feet of the capitalist system and its own rulers. The workers movement in Germany must mobilize in solidarity with Greek workers and all the other victims of the EU imperialists—after all, they’ll be confronted with similar attacks in the immediate future. The witchhunt against Greece also serves to split and weaken the multiethnic working class in Germany.”

Today, despite the relentless bleeding of the Greek working people, the country remains mired in deep recession. The bankrupt capitalist class manifestly does not have any crumbs that it is willing to throw to dampen workers’ anger. Short of a struggle for working-class power, the workers’ struggles will continue to be frustrated. The perspective for Greek workers must be that of common class struggle with their class brothers and sisters—from Turkey to Germany and elsewhere around the world.

As the TGG wrote in its leaflet: “What’s needed is a socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist state and replace it with a workers state that will lay the basis for building a socialist society. For that, you need to build a revolutionary workers party—a party like Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks—which will fight for a workers government. The TGG, Greek sympathizing section of the ICL, seeks to build such a party” (our emphasis).

Saturday, October 01, 2022

'Fantastic' Musings On The Financial Meltdown: Are We Miliant Leftists Today Prepared To Take Power In Order To Solve The Economic Crises?

Fantastic Musings Of An Old Militant: Are We Communists Prepared To Take Power Today In Order To Solve The Economic Crises Confronting Humankind?


Build A Workers Party To Fight For A Workers Government!!! Pronto!!!!

Those of us militant leftists old enough to have seen a few social battles like the struggle for black civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the 1960’s know that organizing such efforts don’t come fully formed out of thin air. They need to be organized. We have spend much of our time since that period fighting essentially rearguard actions in order to defend those democratic rights and those of other oppressed sections of society and attempting to slow down the American imperial military monster that is rightly seen to threaten the peoples of the world.

Thus, in one of those little ironies that history is filled with, we have been essentially condemned to a propaganda force trying patiently, if frustratingly at times, to bring the notions of socialism to the center of the political stage: centralized planning to even out the dislocations in the world economic order caused by the inherent irrationalities of the capitalist mode of production; fighting special oppressions like racism, sexism and for democratic rights, including the right to self-determination for national minorities; and, presenting a vision of what communistic solidarity would do for an advance in the culture of humankind

Frankly, we may have gotten too cozy with the concept of seemingly always having to have confront the great social issues of the day solely from a propagandistic perspective. In short, we may have developed a propaganda circle mentality. The recent virtual meltdown of important segments of the vanguard of the international capitalist system- finance capital- the operations that grease the wheels of international commerce has some implications for our work theses days. I therefore pose the question in the headline to this entry: Are we communists prepared today to lead the working class and its allies to state power in order to reconstruct human society on a new basis and solve some of the fundamental problems of human existence?

Naturally, this question takes the form of a fantastic musing – a Utopian idea if you will- on the part of this old militant, given the hard political realities we confront among them that nobody in national politics today is , in a lukewarm manner or otherwise, even projecting such a proposition-except presenting various schemes that amount to socialism for the rich. Some may, in fact, question whether Markin has had too much to drink or is sulking over his last weekend’s disastrous college football selections. No, not this time. That is the point here. We have to be able to move outside the envelope- a little audacity can go a long way.

With that in mind a little look at our international working class history may help us. It is always dangerous to draw too close an analogy with the Russian Revolution of 1917 when talking about prospects in America in 2008 but there is one idea we can take from that time. The Bolsheviks were an extremely small, virtually broken organization at the start of 1917. During the course of several months they increased their influence and directed their propaganda to the seizure of power. Why were they successful? They were able to articulate the demands of the populace that needed to be resolved- bread, land and peace. Moreover, with Lenin’s lead (and Trotsky’s support) they were audacious enough to think that they had the capacity to resolve those issues.

Of course there was more than that at play like the fact that the Bolsheviks had some authority in the Russian working class from years of legal and illegal work, their previous experiences in the Revolution of 1905 and the generally more pro-progressive and socialistic political orientation of the Russian plebeian masses. That said, we nevertheless need to have a fighting agitational perspective providing socialist solutions for the next period. Here is a start. No Foreclosures! No Government Bailouts For Finance Capitalism! For Workers Committees to Liquidate Bankrupt Operations! For Workers Control of Production! No To The Democrats, Republicans, Greens and Nader! For a Workers Party That Fight For Workers Government! Utopian? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely

Sunday, March 17, 2019

*Honor The Memory Of The Paris Communards!

Click on title to link to online "History Of The Paris Commune".

This is a repost of the commentary from the 136th Anniversary commentary on the Paris Commune in 2007


March 18th is the 137th Anniversary of the Paris Commune. All honor to the men and women who fought to the death to defend this first beacon of working class revolution.

I would like make a few comments in honor of the heroic Communards.

When one studies the history of the Paris Commune of 1871 one learns something new from it even though from the perspective of revolutionary strategy the Communards made virtually every mistake in the book. However, one can learn its lessons and measure it against the experience acquired by later revolutionary struggles and above all by later revolutions, not only the successful Russian Revolution of October 1917 but the failed German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Chinese and Spanish revolutions in the immediate aftermath of World War I. More contemporaneously we have the experiences of the partial victories of the later Chinese, Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions.

Notwithstanding the contradictory nature of these later experiences, as if to show that history is not always totally a history of horrors against the fate of the masses we honor the Paris Commune as a beacon of the coming world proletarian revolution. It is just for that reason that Karl Marx fought tooth and nail in the First International to defend it against the rage of capitalist Europe. It is one of our peaks. The Commune also presented in embryo the first post-1848 Revolution instance of what was later characterized by Lenin at the beginning of World War I as the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the international labor movement. So this question that after Lenin’s death preoccupied Trotsky for much of the later part of his life really has a much longer lineage that I had previously recognized. Unfortunately, as we are too painfully aware that question is still to be resolved. Therefore, even at this great remove, it is necessary to learn the lessons of that experience in facing today’s crisis of leadership in the international labor movement.



EACH TIME that we study the history of the Commune we see it from a new aspect, thanks to the experience acquired by the later revolutionary struggles and above all by the latest revolutions, not only the Russian but the German and Hungarian revolutions. The Franco-German war was a bloody explosion, harbinger of an immense world slaughter, the Commune of Paris a lightning harbinger of a world proletarian revolution.

The Commune shows us the heroism of the working masses, their capacity to unite into a single bloc, their talent to sacrifice themselves in the name of the future, but at the same time it shows us the incapacity of the masses to choose their path, their indecision in the leadership of the movement, their fatal penchant to come to a halt after the first successes, thus permitting the enemy to regain its breath, to reestablish its position.

The Commune came too late. It had all the possibilities of taking the power on September 4 and that would have permitted the proletariat of Paris to place itself at a single stroke at the head of the workers of the country in their struggle against all the forces of the past, against Bismarck as well as against Thiers. But the power fell into the hands of the democratic praters, the deputies of Paris. The Parisian proletariat had neither a party, nor leaders to whom it would have been closely bound by previous struggles. The petty bourgeois patriots who thought themselves socialists and sought the support of the workers did not really have any confidence in themselves. They shook the proletariat's faith in itself, they were continually in quest of celebrated lawyers, of journalists, of deputies, whose baggage consisted only of a dozen vaguely revolutionary phrases, in order to entrust them with the leadership of the movement.

The reason why Jules Favre, Picard, Gamier-Pages and Co. took power in Paris on September 4 is the same as that which permitted Pall-Boncour, A. Varenne, Renaudel and numerous others to be for a time the masters of the party of the proletariat. The Renaudels and the Boncours and even the Longuets and the Pressemanes are much closer, by virtue of their sympathies, their intellectual habits and their conduct, to the Jules Favres and the Jules Ferrys than to the revolutionary proletariat. Their socialist phraseology is nothing but an historic mask which permits them to impose themselves upon the masses. And it is just because Favre, Simon, Picard and the others used and abused a democratico-liberal phraseology that their sons and their grandsons are obliged to resort to a socialist phraseology. But the sons and the grandsons have remained worthy of their fathers and continue their work. And when it will be necessary to decide not the question of the composition of a ministerial clique but the much more important question of knowing what class in France must take power, Renaudel, Varenne, Longuet and their similars will be in the camp of Millerand-collaborator of Galliffet, the butcher of the Commune .... When the revolutionary babblers of the salons and of parliament find themselves face to face, in real life, with the revolution, they never recognize it.

The workers' party-the real one-is not a machine for parliamentary manoeuvres, it is the accumulated and organized experience of the proletariat. It is only with the aid of the party, which rests upon the whole history of its past, which foresees theoretically the paths of development, all its stages, and which extracts from it the necessary formula of action, that the proletariat frees itself from the need of always recommencing its history: its hesitations, its lack of decision, its mistakes.

The proletariat of Paris did not have such a party. The bourgeois socialists with whom the Commune swarmed, raised their eyes to heaven, waited for a miracle or else a prophetic word, hesitated, and during that time the masses groped about and lost their heads because of the indecision of some and the fantasy of others. The result was that the revolution broke out in their very midst, too late, and Paris was encircled. Six months elapsed before the proletariat had reestablished in its memory the lessons of past revolutions, of battles of yore, of the reiterated betrayals of democracy-and it seized power.

These six months proved to be an irreparable loss. If the centralized party of revolutionary action had been found at the head of the proletariat of France in September 1870, the whole history of France and with it the whole history of humanity would have taken another direction.If the power was found in the hands of the proletariat of Paris on March 18, it was not because it had been deliberately seized, but because its enemies had quitted Paris.

These latter were losing ground continuously, the workers despised and detested them, the petty bourgeoisie no longer had confidence in them and the big bourgeoisie feared that they were no longer capable of defending it. The soldiers were hostile to the officers. The government fled Paris in order to concentrate its forces elsewhere. And it was then that the proletariat became master of the situation.
But it understood this fact only on the morrow. The revolution fell upon it unexpectedly.

This first success was a new source of passivity. The enemy had fled to Versailles. Wasn't that a victory? At that moment the governmental band could have been crushed almost without the spilling of blood. In Paris, all the ministers, with Thiers at their head, could have been taken prisoner. Nobody would have raised a hand to defend them. It was not done. There was no organization of a centralized party, having a rounded view of things and special organs for realizing its decisions.

The debris of the infantry did not want to fall back to Versailles. The thread which tied the officers and the soldiers was pretty tenuous. And had there been a directing party center at Paris, it would have incorporated into the retreating armies-since there was the possibility of retreating-a few hundred or even a few dozen devoted workers, and given them the following instructions: enhance the discontent of the soldiers against the officers, profit by the first favorable psychological moment to free the soldiers from their officers and bring them back to Paris to unite with the people. This could easily have been realized, according to the admissions of Thiers' supporters themselves. Nobody even thought of it. Nor was there anybody to think of it. In the midst of great events, moreover, such decisions can be adopted only by a revolutionary party which looks forward to a revolution, prepares for it, does not lose its head, by a party which is accustomed to having a rounded view and is not afraid to act.

And a party of action is just what the French proletariat did not have.

The Central Committee of the National Guard is in effect a Council of Deputies of the armed workers and the petty bourgeoisie. Such a Council, elected directly by the masses who have taken the revolutionary road, represents an excellent apparatus of action. But at the same time, and just because of its immediate and elementary connection with the masses who are in the state in which the revolutionary has found them, it reflects not only all the strong sides but also the weak sides of the masses, and it reflects at first the weak sides still more than it does the strong: it manifests the spirit of indecision, of waiting, the tendency to be inactive after the first successes.

The Central Committee of the National Guard needed to be led. It was indispensable to have an organization incarnating the political experience of the proletariat and always present-not only in the Central Committee, but in the legions, in the battalion, in the deepest sectors of the French proletariat. By means of the Councils of Deputies-in the given case they were organs of the National Guard-the party could have been in continual contact with the masses, known their state of mind; its leading center con! I each day put forward a slogan which, through the medium of the party's militants, would have penetrated into the masses, uniting their thought and their will.

Hardly had the government fallen back to Versailles than the National Guard hastened to unload its responsibility, at the very moment when this responsibility was enormous. The Central Committee imagined "legal" elections to the Commune. It entered into negotiations with the mayors of Paris in order to cover itself, from the Right, with "legality".

Had a violent attack been prepared against Versailles at the same time, the negotiations with the mayors would have been a ruse fully justified from the military standpoint and in conformity with the goal. But in reality, these negotiations were being conducted only in order to avert the struggle by some miracle or other. The petty bourgeois radicals and the socialistic idealists, respecting "legality" and the men who embodied a portion of the "legal" state-the deputies, the mayors, etc.-hoped at the bottom of their souls that Thiers would halt respectfully before revolutionary Paris the minute the latter covered itself with the "legal" Commune.

Passivity and indecision were supported in this case by the sacred principle of federation and autonomy. Paris, you see, is only one commune among many other communes. Paris wants to impose nothing upon anyone; it does not struggle for the dictatorship, unless it be for the 'dictatorship of example".

In sum, it was nothing but an attempt to replace the proletarian revolution, which was developing, by a petty bourgeois reform: communal autonomy. The real revolutionary task consisted of assuring the proletariat the power all over the country. Paris had to serve as its base, its support, its stronghold. And to attain this goal, it was necessary to vanquish Versailles without the loss of time and to send agitators, organizers, and armed forces throughout France. It was necessary to enter into contact with sympathizers, to strengthen the hesitators and to shatter the opposition of the adversary. Instead of this policy of offensive and aggression which was the only thing that could save the situation, the leaders of Paris attempted to seclude themselves in their communal autonomy: they will not attack the others if the others do not attack them; each town has its sacred right of self-government. This idealistic chatter-of the same gender as mundane anarchism covered up in reality a cowardice in face of revolutionary action which should have been conducted incessantly up to the very end, for otherwise it should not have been begun.

The hostility to capitalist organization-a heritage of petty bourgeois localism and autonomism-is without a doubt the weak side of a certain section of the French proletariat. Autonomy for the districts, for the wards, for the battalions, for the towns, is the supreme guarantee of real activity and individual independence for certain revolutionists. But that is a great mistake which cost the French proletariat dearly.

Under the form of the "struggle against despotic centralism" and against "stifling" discipline, a fight takes place for the self preservation of various groups and sub-groupings of the working class, for their petty interests, with their petty ward leaders and their local oracles. The entire working class, while preserving its cultural originality and its political nuances, can act methodically and firmly, without remaining in the tow of events, and directing each time its mortal blows against the weak sectors of its enemies, on the condition that at its head, above the wards, the districts, the groups, there is an apparatus which is centralized and bound together by an iron discipline. The tendency towards particularism, whatever the form it may assume, is a heritage of the dead past. The sooner French communist-socialist communism and syndicalist communism-emancipates itself from it, the better it will be for the proletarian revolution.

The party does not create the revolution at will, it does not choose the moment for seizing power as it likes, but it intervenes actively in the events, penetrates at every moment the state of mind of the revolutionary masses and evaluates the power of resistance of the enemy, and thus determines the most favorable moment for decisive action. This is the most difficult side of its task. The party has no decision that is valid for every case. Needed are a correct theory, an intimate contact with the masses, the comprehension of the situation, a revolutionary perception, a great resoluteness. The more profoundly a revolutionary party penetrates into all the domains of the proletarian struggle, the more unified it is by the unity of goal and discipline, the speedier and better will it arrive at resolving its task.

The difficulty consists in having this organization of a centralized party, internally welded by an iron discipline, linked intimately with the movement of the masses, with its ebbs and flows. The conquest of power cannot be achieved save on the condition of a powerful revolutionary pressure of the toiling masses. But in this act the element of preparation is entirely inevitable. The better the party will understand the conjuncture and the moment, the better the bases of resistance will be prepared, the better the force and the roles will be distributed, the surer will be the success and the less victims will it cost. The correlation of a carefully prepared action and a mass movement is the politico-strategical task of the taking of power.

The comparison of March 18, 1871 with November 7, 1917 is very instructive from this point of view. In Paris, there is an absolute lack of initiative for action on the part of the leading revolutionary circles. The proletariat, armed by the bourgeois government, is in reality master of the town, has all the material means of power-cannon and rifles-at its disposal, but it is not aware of it. The bourgeoisie makes an attempt to retake the weapon of the giant: it wants to steal the cannon of the proletariat. The attempt fails. The government flees in panic from Paris to Versailles. The field is clear. But it is only on the morrow that the proletariat understands that it is the master of Paris. The "leaders" are in the wake of events, they record them when the latter are already accomplished, and they do everything in their power to blunt the revolutionary edge.

In Petrograd, the events developed differently. The party moved firmly, resolutely, to the seizure of power, having its men everywhere, consolidating each position, extending every fissure between the workers and the garrison on the one side and the government on the other.

The armed demonstration of the July days is a vast reconnoitering conducted by the party to sound the degree of close contact between the masses and the power of resistance of the enemy. The reconnoitering is transformed into a struggle of outposts. We are thrown back, but at the same time the action establishes a connection between the party and the depths of the masses. The months of August, September and October see a powerful revolutionary flux. The party profits by it and augments considerably its points of support in the working class and the garrison. Later, the harmony between the conspirative preparations and the mass action takes place almost automatically. The Second Congress of the Soviets is fixed for November. All our preceding agitation was to lead to the seizure of power by the Congress. Thus, the overturn was adapted in advance to November 7. This fact was well known and understood by the enemy. Kerensky and his councillors could not fail to make efforts to consolidate themselves, to however small an extent, in Petrograd for the decisive moment. Also, they stood in need of shipping out of the capital the most revolutionary sections of the garrison. We on our part profited by this attempt by Kerensky in order to make it the source of a new conflict which had a decisive importance. We openly accused the Kerensky government-our accusation subsequently found a written confirmation in an official document-of having planned the removal of a third of the Petrograd garrison not out of military considerations but for the purpose of counter-revolutionary combinations. This conflict bound us still more closely to the garrison and put before the latter a well-defined task, to support the Soviet Congress fixed for November 7. And since the government insisted-even if in a feeble enough manner-that the garrison be sent off, we created in the Petrograd Soviet, already in our hands, a Revolutionary War Committee, on the pretext of verifying the military reasons for the governmental plan.

Thus we had a purely military organ, standing at the head of the Petrograd garrison, which was in reality a legal organ of armed insurrection. At the same time we designated (communist) commissars in all the military units, in the military stores, etc. The clandestine military organization accomplished specific technical tasks and furnished the Revolutionary War Committee with fully trustworthy militants for important military tasks. The essential work concerning the preparation, the realization and the armed insurrection took place openly, and so methodically and naturally that the bourgeoisie, led by Kerensky, did not clearly understand what was taking place under their very eyes. (In Paris, the proletariat understood only on the following day that it had been really victorious-a victory which it had not, moreover, deliberately sought-that it was master of the situation. In Petrograd, it was the contrary. Our party, basing itself on the workers and the garrison, had already seized the power, the bourgeoisie passed a fairly tranquil night and learned only on the following morning that the helm of the country was in the hands of its gravedigger.)

As to strategy, there were many differences of opinion in our party.

A part of the Central Committee declared itself, as is known, against the taking of power, believing that the moment had not yet arrived, that Petrograd was detached from the rest of the country, the proletariat from the peasantry, etc.

Other comrades believed that we were not attributing sufficient importance to the elements of military complot. One of the members of the Central Committee demanded in October the surrounding of the Alexandrine Theater where the Democratic Conference was in session, and the proclamation of the dictatorship of the Central Committee of the party. He said: in concentrating our agitation as well as our preparatory military work for the moment of the Second Congress, we are showing our plan to the adversary, we are giving him the possibility of preparing himself and even of dealing us a preventive blow. But there is no doubt that the attempt at a military complot and the surrounding of the Alexandrine Theater would have been a fact too alien to the development of the events, that it would have been an event disconcerting to the masses. Even in the Petrograd Soviet, where our faction dominated, such an enterprise, anticipating the logical development of the struggle, would have provoked great disorder at that moment, above all among the garrison where there were hesitant and not very trustful regiments, primarily the cavalry regiments. It would have been much easier for Kerensky to crush a complot unexpected by the masses than to attack the garrison consolidating itself more and more on its positions: the defense of its inviolability in the name of the future Congress of the Soviets. Therefore the majority of the Central Committee rejected the plan to surround the Democratic Conference and it was right. The conjuncture was very well judged: the armed insurrection, almost without bloodshed, triumphed exactly on the date, fixed in advance and openly, for the convening of the Second Soviet Congress.

This strategy cannot, however, become a general rule, it requires specific conditions. Nobody believed any longer in the war with the Germans, and the less revolutionary soldiers did not want to quit Petrograd for the front. And even if the garrison as a whole was on the side of the workers for this single reason, it became stronger in its point of view to the extent that Kerensky's machinations were revealed. But this mood of the Petrograd garrison had a still deeper cause in the situation of the peasant class and in the development of the imperialist war. Had there been a split in the garrison and had Kerensky obtained the possibility of support from a few regiments, our plan would have failed. The elements of purely military complot (conspiracy and great speed of action) would have prevailed. It would have been necessary, of course, to choose another moment for the insurrection.

The Commune also had the complete possibility of winning even the peasant regiments, for the latter had lost all confidence and all respect for the power and the command. Yet it undertook nothing towards this end. The fault here is not in the relationships of the peasant and the working classes, but in the revolutionary strategy.

What will be the situation in this regard in the European countries in the present epoch? It is not easy to foretell anything on this score. Yet, with the events developing slowly and the bourgeois governments exerting all their efforts to utilize past experiences, it may be foreseen that the proletariat, in order to attract the sympathies of the soldiers, will have to overcome a great and well organized resistance at a given moment. A skillful and well~ timed attack on the part of the revolution will then be necessary. The duty of the party is to prepare itself for it. That is just why it must maintain and develop its character of a centralized organization, which openly guides the revolutionary movement of the masses and is at the same time a clandestine apparatus of the armed insurrection.

The question of the electibility of the command was one of the reasons of the conflict between the National Guard and Thiers. Paris refused to accept the command designated by Thiers. Varlin subsequently formulated the demand that the command of the National Guard, from top to bottom, ought to be elected by the National Guardsmen themselves. That is where the Central Committee of the National Guard found its support.

This question must he envisaged from two sides: from the political and the military sides, which are interlinked but which should be distinguished. The political task consisted in purging the National Guard of the counter¬revolutionary command. Complete electibility was the only means for it, the majority of the National Guard being composed of workers and revolutionary petty bourgeois. And in addition, the motto "electibility of the command", being extended also to the infantry, Thiers would have been deprived at a single stroke of his essential weapon, the counterrevolutionary officers. In order to realize this plan, a party organization, having its men in all the military units, was required. In a word, electibility in this ease had as its immediate task not to give good commanders to the batallions, but to liberate them from commanders devoted to the bourgeoisie. Electibility served as a wedge for splitting the army into two parts, along class lines. Thus did matters occur with its in the period of Kerensky, above all on the eve of October.

But the liberation of the army from the old commanding apparatus inevitably involves the weakening of organizational cohesion and the diminution of combative power. As a rule, the elected command is pretty weak from the technico-military standpoint and with regard to the maintenance of order and of discipline. Thus, at the moment when the army frees itself from the old counterrevolutionary command which oppressed it, the question arises of giving it a revolutionary command capable of fulfilling its mission. And this question can by no means be resolved by simple elections. Before wide masses of soldiers acquire the experience of well choosing and selecting commanders, the revolution will be beaten by the enemy which is guided in the choice of its command by the experience of centuries. The methods of shapeless democracy (simple electibility) must be supplemented and to a certain extent replaced by measures of selection from above. The revolution must create an organ composed of experienced, reliable organizers, in which one can have absolute confidence, give it full powers to choose, designate and educate the command. If particularism and democratic autonomism are extremely dangerous to the proletarian revolution in general, they are ten times more dangerous to the army. We saw that in the tragic example of the Commune.

The Central Committee of the National Guard drew its authority from democratic electibility. At the moment when the Central Committee needed to develop to the maximum its initiative in the offensive, deprived of the leadership of a proletarian party, it lost its head, hastened to transmit its powers to the representatives of the Commune which required a broader democratic basis. And it was a great mistake in that period to play with elections. But once the elections had been held and the Commune brought together, ft was necessary to concentrate everything in the Commune at a single blow and to have it create an organ possessing real power to reorganize the National Guard. This was not the case. By the side of the elected Commune there remained the Central Committee; the elected character of the latter gave it a political authority thanks to which it was able to compete with the Commune. But at the same time that deprived it of the energy and the firmness necessary in the purely military questions which, after the organization of the Commune, justified its existence. Electibility, democratic methods, are but one of the instruments in the hands of the proletariat and its party. Electibility can in no wise be a fetish, a remedy for all evils. The methods of electibility must be combined with those of appointments. The power of the Commune came from the elected National Guard. But once created, the Commune should have reorganized with a strong hand the National Guard, from top to bottom, given it reliable leaders and established a regime of very strict discipline. The Commune did not do this, being itself deprived of a powerful revolutionary directing center. It too was crushed.

We can thus thumb the whole history of the Commune, page by page, and we will find in it one single lesson: a strong party leadership is needed. More than any other proletariat has the French made sacrifices for the revolution. But also more than any other has it been duped. Many times has the bourgeoisie dazzled it with all the colors of republicanism, of radicalism, of socialism, so as always to fasten upon it the fetters of capitalism. By means of its agents, its lawyers and its journalists, the bourgeoisie has put forward a whole mass of democratic, parliamentary, autonomist formulae which are nothing but impediments on the feet of the proletariat, hampering its forward movement.

The temperament of the French proletariat is a revolutionary lava. But this lava is now covered with the ashes of skepticism result of numerous deceptions and disenchantments. Also, the revolutionary proletarians of France must be severer towards their party and unmask more pitilessly any non-conformity between word and action. The French workers have need of an organization, strong as steel, with leaders controlled by the masses at every new stage of the revolutionary movement.

How much time will history afford us to prepare ourselves? We do not know. For fifty years the French bourgeoisie has retained the power in its hands after having elected the Third Republic on the bones of the Communards. Those fighters of '71 were not lacking in heroism. What they lacked was clarity in method and a centralized leading organization. That is why they were vanquished. Half a century elapsed before the proletariat of France could pose the question of avenging the death of the Communards. But this time, the action will be firmer, more concentrated. The heirs of Thiers will have to pay the historic debt in full.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

*Honor The Memory of Bolshevik Leader Leon Trotsky- In Defense Of The Russian Revolution-"The Revolution Betrayed"

Click on title to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's copy of Leon Trotsky's analysis of the degeneration of the Russian Revolution,"The Revolution Betrayed", Chapter Five-"The Soviet Thermidor".



The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky, translated by Max Eastman, Doubleday, New York, 1937

The great Russian Bolshevik Leon Trotsky wore many hats in his revolutionary career. Organizer of revolutionary upheavals in 1905 and 1917 and military defender of the Soviet state in the early days. Withering political journalist and literary critic from the beginning of his career as a professional revolutionary. Soviet official in various capacities, depending on which way the political winds were blowing. Polemicist against Social Democratic revisionism and later the Stalinist degeneration of Leninism, the Bolshevik party and the Soviet state. Still later, in exile, he was the seemingly last independent defender of that Soviet state and the traditions of the Bolshevik party as Stalin turned the political landscape into a bloody battlefield in the late 1930’s. Of all of these hats probably Trotsky's last struggles; to create a new international revolutionary party (the Fourth International)and trying to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia while at the same time defending the Soviet state, were the most important political battles of his life. That, in essence, is the purpose of his book The Revolution Betrayed under review here.

The question of the fate of the Soviet state at various points in the 20th century may seem a rather academic question at this time, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. At a practical level it is hard to fault that argument. But let me make a little point here. Until the Gorbachev-directed political thaw in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980’s the possibilities of discussing Trotsky’s book about what when wrong "back in the days" was either done clandestinely or not at all. I, however, remember being at a meeting during that period where a Russian émigré spoke about the then current situation in Russia. He mentioned, in passing, that he had recently read Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed and found that the arguments made by him in the mid-1930’s about the nature of Soviet society, the state governmental apparatus and the Communist Party sounded like they could have been made in the mid-1980’s. This, my friends, is why we still read this little work.

Obviously some of Trotsky’s argument is historically obsolete, even assuming conditions of a future socialist revival. The specific problem of Russia as the first workers state having been created in a predominantly agrarian society, then isolated by world imperialism and not augmented by revolutions in the capitalist West that would have given Soviet officials the life line they needed to turn that society around will not be replicated in the 21st century. What is not obsolete in Trotsky's argument, and is germane today in the struggle to turn China around, are the questions of the purposes that a workers state are created for, the nature of economic policy and who will guide it, the role of pro-socialist political parties and how to allocate cultural resources so that the goal- and this is important- of a stateless society gets a fair chance at implementation. Thus Trotsky here, donning the enlightened Soviet official hat that he never really took off even in exile, provides textbook examples of what to do and not to do to push socialism forward even under conditions of isolation.

If I was asked today what part of this document still has relevance I would pick out that chapter that deals with the question of Soviet Thermidor. All great revolutions, and the Russian Revolution was a great revolution, have had ebbs and flows during the revolutionary period and then after the consolidation of power by the new regime have fallen back, not to the ways of the old regime but back nevertheless. One would have thought in 1921, let’s say, that once the question of the existence of the Soviet state was essentially settled then the push to socialism, even in isolation and given the vast economic dislocations of World War I and the Civil War, would be headed forward. That was not the case and Trotsky does a great service by putting the reasons for that, political as well as personal, in perspective particularly the responses of the Soviet working class to the revolutionary defeats in Europe and Asia in the 1920’s. That said, where does this book fit into your list of Trotsky readings. Not first, that place is taken by his three-volume History of the Russian Revolution- the high point. But sometime shortly after that you need to address the issues presented in this book to see what went wrong and why.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Click on the headline to link to the "Leon Trotsky Internet Archive" for an online copy of the "Transitional Program" which deals, in part,with the question of who shall control the governmental apparatus in the transitional period from the workers state to socialism.




At one time the currently beleaguered head of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz was seen as one of the ‘best and brightest’ of his generation of neo-cons who had come to dominate the inner team of the Bush Administration. While one should not expect that Mr. Wolfowitz will wind up sleeping on a bench in Central Park his star has certainly lost its luster. First the quagmire in Iraq of which he was a central architect and now creating a 'safe haven' for his girl friend. Oh well. I personally will cry no tears over his fate. Will you? This case is, however, prima facie evidence for why, when the working class takes state power through workers councils, we will invoke the long time socialist tradition of immediate recall of governmental officials for cause. One should not have to go through a 'cold' international civil war at the World Bank, or anywhere else for that matter, just to get rid of a guy who is out to impress his girl friend.

Just one other little point on Mr. Wolfowitz’s personal history. Much has been made in the more political publications about the so-called Trotskyist past of a number of neo-cons, including Mr. Wolfowitz. One would get the impression that these were 'red' revolutionaries who saw the error of their youthful ways and on seeing their errors immediately offered their services as direct agents of American imperialism. Not so. They essentially spent five minutes going to some State Department socialist meetings of the American Socialist Party in the late 1950's or early 1960's.

What passes for the Trotskyism the publications are talking about is the Trostkyist past of one by then burned-out Max Shachtman of the Socialist Party, he of the support to the Bay of Pigs invasion and of the Vietnam War, or Irving Howe, social democratic editor of Dissent. By comparison with their progeny both Mr. Howe and Mr. Shachtman were serious about Trotsky's ideas and in the case of Shachtman had actually rendered valuable service to the Trotskyist movement at one time. But that was in their pasts. When the neo-cons arrived neither Howe nor Shachtman were Trotskyists. Christ, from their political positions I do not believe that by that time they knew how to spell the word. If one was looking for the semblance of Trotskyist ideas in America at that time the place to look was the Socialist Workers Party led by James P. Cannon. I do not see that political address on any neo-con resume. Enough said.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Sober Voice From The Occupy Movement-The Way Forward for Occupy Portland by Shamus Cooke, Workers Action

Markin comment:

I am posting this entry here because it expresses some of the same things that I find disconcerting about the direction of the Occupy movement. Although I have some differences with the author's direction as well and am not familiar with the program of this particular group, Workers Action, I find his points well worth pondering. I will add my own in the future as we settle in to learn the lessons of the Oakland General Strike of 2011 for our future struggles.

A Sober Voice From The Occupy Movement:

The Way Forward for Occupy Portland by Shamus Cooke, Workers ActionVia Boston IndyMedia

Email: portland (nospam) (unverified!) 01 Nov 2011

In Portland, Oregon, all the promise and pitfalls of the Occupy Movement are on public display. Portland is second only to New York when it comes to sustained Occupy power, but in a newly born social movement strength is not something to take for granted. The vast amounts of public support in Portland, earned through large demonstrations and strategic outreach, can be frittered away by the internal contradictions of the movement.

Portland began its occupation with a 10,000-person rally that shook the city's foundation and disorientated the Mayor, who had no choice but to "allow" the occupation to stay at the park they had taken without asking. There have since been several large Portland rallies and marches that have proven the wider population's support: On October 26 a labor union-led Occupy march turned out thousands of union members with ecstatic morale; the same week showcased a "This Land is Our Land" Occupy rally by Portland band Pink Martini, which attracted nearly 10,000 people.

But the speeches of the Pink Martini rally were hardly Occupy worthy, since they showcased two members of Oregon's Congressional House of Representatives, politicians of the political establishment that the Occupy movement rose up against. As Representative Earl Blumenauer spoke, a group of activists chanted "This is what hypocrisy looks like,” in response to his voting in favor for the recently passed pro-corporate free trade agreements.

If Portland's Occupy movement had a strong list of demands — or even a firm statement of principles — the Democrats in Oregon would be unable to associate with Occupy, since the Democrats’ objectives would so obviously clash with those of the anti-corporate movement. But for now "99%" is vague enough for political impostors to enter the fray and inject ideas from the wealthiest 1%.

Portland's 1% has been chipping away at the Occupy movement through their control of the local media; a steady stream of negative editorials and slanted reporting has focused on the minority of internal problems of the Occupation spot, blasting headlines of drug abuse and assaults while ignoring the larger aspirations of the protesters.

Thus far, Portland's 1% has been unable to establish the "rule of law" and evict the protesters because of the wider backlash that would ensue; the media have been pushing the Mayor to create a "timeline" for the protesters to leave. Thus far the Mayor remains too jarred to act, leaving the initiative to the protesters.

But initiative is something easily lost. There are sections of Occupiers who are impatient and want more "direct action,” including an expansion of the occupation to other parks. This would not be such a bad thing if masses of people were aggressively behind the action. Instead, on October 30th in the wee hours of the morning, the "new" occupation spot had only a couple dozen protesters who were promptly arrested, giving the police and Mayor an easy victory and the Occupy movement a small but bitter defeat. The illusion of the Mayor having "control" was upheld while the message of the protesters was muzzled.

Some protesters will argue that the arrests were a victory, but civil disobedience must be looked at from a strategic lens that is most effective with masses of people involved and specific goals in mind. The era of tiny protests and limited results belongs to the past. This movement has large scale potential, and the larger 99% will feel impelled to join if they see a strong, mass movement capable of winning demands.

Another way that Occupy Portland could lose mass support is through political disunity. There are different committees and working groups within Occupy Portland trying to build some political cohesiveness to broadcast to the wider community. The movement's long-term objectives and immediate demands remain unclear; indeed the two are being confused. There is an urge for many people to demand the end to "corporate personhood,” an increasingly popular demand on the political left that remains mostly unknown to the larger 99%.

This is precisely the problem. The Occupy movement claims to speak for the 99%, but the main leaders/organizers are students, recent graduates, or long-time members of the activist left. These groups have come into the movement with ready-made ideas in mind, many of them good. But the left has been plagued by issue-based divisiveness for years, where the many different groups are pushing their individual issues into a movement that began by appealing to the 99% at large. It is healthy for left groups to advocate the end of animal cruelty, corporate personhood, and police brutality, but these are not the immediate demands that will spur the 99% to actively join the movement.

What will get people in the streets? The 99% supports the Occupy Movement because of the economic crisis that has directly affected them, not because they have ideological problems with capitalism at the moment, or want to take legal rights from corporations. The most progressive 5% cannot impose their demands on the larger 99%, since the majority of the 99% already have demands of their own.

What are these demands? The Washington Post explains: "How many times does this message have to be delivered? In poll after poll, Americans have said their top concern is the jobs crisis." (August 11, 2011).

Poll after poll has also declared mass opposition to cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and other social programs, while declaring support for taxing the rich to solve these national problems.

And these issues have even greater potential to galvanize the 99% because of their centrality to organized labor. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently declared the cuts to Social Security, Medicare or to Medicaid, which have been proposed by the bipartisan “Super Committee,” are unacceptable. The proposed cuts, Trumka says, prove why people around the country “are raising their voices in protest because they’re fed up with a system that is stacked in favor of the richest one percent of Americans – at the expense of the other 99 percent of us.”

The Occupy Movement will grow or die based on its ability to relate to these demands of the larger 99%. It is these issues that reflect the most urgent needs, where the demands are held in common by the vast majority and that affect working people on a city, state, and national level. No long-term demands — like ending corporate personhood — can be won outside of a mass movement, and no mass movement can grow without the focus on immediate, basic demands; these demands must come before the former.
There is plenty of time for the Occupy Movement to work out the details of its long-term mission, but there is no time to waste to fight for the most popular demands of working people. The Occupy Movement is still struggling for existence, and its life cannot be maintained in a political environment unattractive to the broader 99%. If the Occupy Movement demanded that the wealthy and corporations be taxed to create jobs and prevent cuts to social programs, the 99% would see a movement built in its own image, and working people would fight for themselves while learning to fight alongside each other for the good of all working people.

This work is in the public domain

Thursday, November 11, 2010

* A Report And Photos Of The Boston Veterans For Peace Rally On Veterans Day 2010

Click on the headline to link to a United For Peace with Justice (UJP) entry for the Veterans For Peace contingent at the Boston Veterans Day parade.

Markin comment: This entry goes along with my remarks in my separate entry on this event today. Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops From Iraq and Afghanistan!

Friday, July 09, 2010

*If Drafted I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve- Revolutionaries and Running For Executive Offices Of The Capitalist State- An Encore

Click on title to link to important theoretical article on the question of revolutionaries running for the executive offices of the capitalist state in "Spartacist- English Language Edition, Number 62, Spring 2009. (Yes, isn't it nice to transcend and go forward in time by the 'magic' of technology in the blogosphere.)

Markin comment:

On a day when I am posting (or rather re-posting) a propaganda entry arguing for running independent working class candidates under a workers program for legislative offices of the bourgeois state I believe that a reposting of why leftist militants should not, actually, cannot run for the executive offices of the bourgeois state. (In this cycle that would mean governors, mayors, county boards, sheriffs, and so on. Those who directly administer the state.)


If Drafted I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve- Revolutionaries and Running For Executive Offices Of The Capitalist State, June 15, 2008


If drafted, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve- words attributed to William Tecumseh Sherman at the prospect of being nominated for American president in the late 19th century.

Well, the old soldier Billy Sherman has it right, if for different reasons from those of today 's revolutionaries. We want no part in administering the bourgeois state today and therefore, disrespectfully decline to run for its executive offices. However, to show that we are not anti-parliamentary abstentionists like many of our anarchist brethren we, in our role as 'tribunes of the people', will graciously accept any elected legislative posts that come our way-of course running on our program of a workers party fighting for a workers government.

Wait a minute, Markin, haven’t you gone out of your way in previous commentaries to argue that revolutionaries should run for executive office, while also taking the historic revolutionary socialist position of refusing to actually accept the office if elected? Umm......, well yes, and here the writer will have to eat humble pie and accept that the old historic position is indeed wrong and not just wrong on a tactical basis but on principal.

Let’s go into a little background here. As I have developed a socialist worldview I have attempted to ground that position with a sense of history. Part of that history included studying the lives of various revolutionary socialists here and elsewhere. One of the first that I came across was Eugene V. Debs, one of the key early leaders in the American socialist movement. Debs not only ran for president as a socialist in the historic four-way presidential fight of 1912 (you know, the one where Teddy Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose) but also in 1920 from the Atlanta Penitentiary where he was spending a little time, at government expense, for opposition to American entry into the slaughter of World War I. That fighting stance exemplified for me an ideal way for socialists to get their propaganda out to a hostile world that might be a little less so when confronted during traditional election periods.

That position was fortified further for me by a look at the latter campaigns of the American Communist Party from the time that they placed William Z. Foster and Ben Gitlow on their presidential ticket in the 1920's. To speak nothing of later campaigns by Earl Browder in 1940 and Gus Hall more recently for that same party, as well. Moreover, when I first began sniffing around the Trotskyist movement in the early 1970’s I distinctly remember, as an act of defiance in breaking with the Democratic Party (I had after all, when all the dust was settled, supported Hubert Humphrey in 1968), voting for the Socialist Workers Party candidate in 1972 (and here memory fails for I am not sure whether it was Doug or Linda Jenness who was running for president that year but I believe that it was Linda- someone can correct me on that, please) Moreover, in the harsh reality of American politics since then and the harsher realities of socialist propaganda politics the question of the pitfalls of running for executive office seemed a little exotic, to say the least. In short, nothing really seemed to require that I seriously work through the issue.

Then, a few years ago, entered the International Communist League (ICL) and presumably others to upset the historic applecart. Apparently within that organization some qualms developed over the historic position mentioned above(a position that they themselves utilized back in the 1980’s running a candidate for Mayor of New York City). Researches by the ICL back to the early days of the Communist International concerning various nebulous formulations of the workers government slogan and some unfinished business concerning electoral platforms opened up this can of worms. When I first read of this dispute I dismissed it out of hand as a 'tempest in a teapot' rather than as a serious issue that needed a full airing today among small left-wing propaganda groups and labor militants trying to avoid the pitfalls of opportunism.

Now there are many ways to obtain political enlightenment in the world. One of the most important for me about the nature of the state came from being part one of that state’s armed bodies of men- a member of the American armed forces during the Vietnam War. On the present question my awakening was not nearly so dramatic but as I mentioned in a recent blog entitled "The ‘Woes’ of The British Labor Party" (see May 2008 archives) the defeat of “Red” Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London brought the issues home. The idea that a soft pink leftist, much less a hard Bolshevik would want to administer the bourgeois state for Her Majesty showed me graphically the absurdity of the old historic position. And Livingstone did not even bother with the formality of refusal but accepted that political responsibility, gladly, to boot. Reinforced by a little quick research on my part into the German Social Democratic and French and Italian Communist executive running of municipalities and states and things began to fall into place.

Sometimes old habits die hard though. I still have to think through how critical support to other leftist formations who do run for executive office with some supportable positions would work in connection with this new standard. My question: Are we just maintaining theoretical ‘purity’ by not personally sullying our hands administering the bourgeois state but are more than happy to let others, whom we give critical support to, do that dirty work? In any case I am ‘born again’ on the principal of executive office refusal now and have swore off that childhood dream of becoming president of the American imperial juggernaut- but, hey, how about being a commissar?

* A Modest Proposal -Recruit , Run Independent Labor Candidates For Congressional Office In 2010

Click on the headline to link to a Leon Trotsky Internet Archive online copy of his 1921 Report on “The Balance Sheet” of the Third Congress of the Communist International.

Markin commemt 2010;

It is election time in the U.S., a time when my many times posted modest proposal is appropriate propaganda in the fight for our for our communist future.




Repost Spring 2007 comment

I originally planned to repost the commentary below in the summer of 2007. However, two trends have forced me to republish earlier than I planned. The first is the fact that the whole 2008 bourgeois electoral process has gone into warp speed. Yes, yes I know that thinking about electoral politics, or any politics, in the spring of 2007 is only for political junkies and other misbegotten types. I confess to that sin and some day I will turn myself into the appropriate 12-step program. Nevertheless the campaign season goes full throttle. Thus if we are to have any effect on the 2008 campaign on behalf of our fight for socialism we better get in harness now.

The second trend revolves around the periodic publication of, and commentary on, the not so startling, by now, fact that the wealth distribution gap between the very, very rich and the merely rich here in America and the rest of us has over the last few years once again become wider, the widest since the 1920’s. In response a number of political commentators, especially liberal commentators, have bemoaned this condition noting that part of the problem is the very real ‘class struggle’ by the rich and their minions to beat down wages and benefits. One of the better commentators on this subject the Boston Globe Op/Ed writer Robert Kuttner, who is almost always worth reading to gauge the pulse of the Eastern liberal part of the Democratic Party, recently placed the blame on the fight against unionization by the corporations and their political hangers-on. So far, no argument there.

Where we part company is over his exclusive and eternal strategy of relying on the political ‘goodwill’ of the ‘friends of labor’ in the Democratic Party to make capitalism fairer. He further argues that this is where labor has found its earlier successes. No, one thousand times no. Despite Kuttner’s obviously truncated reading (if at all) of labor history the way unions were organized, particularly in the 1930’s the heyday of militant action, usually meant hard-fought factory and street actions over and against those so-called ‘friends of labor’. This is the simply truth that we must get out and have independent militant labor candidates shout to the rooftops. LET OUR CAMPAIGN BEGIN.


All “anti-parliamentarian”, “anti-state”, “non-political” anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist brothers and sisters need read no further. This writer does not want to sully the purity of your politics with the taint of parliamentary electoral politics. Although I might remind you, as we remember the period of the anniversary of the Spanish Civil War 1936-39, that your political forbears in Spain were more than willing to support the state and enter the government when they got the chance- the bourgeois state and the bourgeois government. But, we can fight that issue out later. We will, hopefully, see you latter on the barricades.

As for other militants- here is my modest proposal. Either recruit fellow labor militants or present yourselves as candidates to run for public office, especially for Congress, during the 2008 election cycle. Why? Even a quick glance at the news of the day is calculated to send the most hardened politico screaming into the night. The quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, immigration walls, flag-burning amendments, anti same-sex marriage amendments, the threat to separation of church state raised by those who would impose a fundamentalist Christian theocracy on the rest of us, and the attacks on the hard fought gains of the Enlightenment posed by bogus theories such as ‘intelligent design’. And that is just an average day. Therefore, this election cycle provides militants, at a time when the electorate is focused on politics, a forum to raise our program and our ideas. We use this as a tool, like leaflets, petitions, meetings, demonstrations, etc. to get our message across. Why should the Donkeys, Elephants, and Greens have a monopoly on the public square?

I mentioned in the last paragraph the idea of program. Let us face it if we do not have a program to run on then it makes no sense for militants to run for public office. Given the political climate our task at this time is to fight an exemplary propaganda campaign. Our program is our banner in that fight. The Democrats and Republicans DO NOT RUN on a program. The sum of their campaigns is to promise not to steal from the public treasury (or at least not too much), beat their husbands or wives or grossly compromise themselves in any manner. On second thought, given today’s political climate, they may not promise not to beat their husbands or wives. You, however, get the point. Damn, even the weakest neophyte labor militant can make a better presentation before working people that that. In any case, this writer presents a five-point program that labor militants can run on (you knew this was coming, right?). As point five makes clear this is not a ‘minimum’ program but a program based on our need to fight for power.

1. FIGHT FOR THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. TROOPS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST NOW! U.S. HANDS OFF THE WORLD! VOTE NO ON THE WAR BUDGET! The quagmire in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East (Palestine, Iran) is the fault line of American politics today. Every bourgeois politician has to have his or her feet put to the fire on this one. Not on some flimsy ‘sense of the Congress’ softball motion for withdrawal next, year, in two years, or (my favorite) when the situation is stable. Moreover, on the parliamentary level the only real vote that matters is the vote on the war budget. All the rest is fluff. Militants should make a point of trying to enter Congressional contests where there are so-called anti-war Democrats or Republicans (an oxymoron, I believe) running, who nevertheless have voted with both feet for the war budgets, to make that programmatic contrast vivid.

But, one might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the ‘popular front’ days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fight for this position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (ya, those progressive Democrats) who, in the end, voted for the last war budget get a free ride on the cheap. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.

2. FIGHT FOR A LIVING WAGE AND WORKING CONDITIONS-UNIVERSAL FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL. It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less families, can live on the minimum wage of $5/hr. (or proposed $7/hr). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. We need universal free health care for all. End of story. The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s, go a long way to turning the conditions of labor around.

3. FIGHT THE ATTACKS ON THE ENLIGHTENMENT. Down with the Death Penalty! Full Citizenship Rights for all immigrants who make it here! Stop the Deportations! For the Separation of Church and State! Defend Abortion Rights! Down with ant-same sex marriage legislation! Full public funding of education! Stop the ‘war on drugs’, basically a war on blacks and minority youth-decriminalize drugs! Defend political prisoners! This list of demands hardly exhausts the “culture war” issues we defend. It is hard to believe that in the year 2008, over 200 years after the American and French Revolutions we are fighting desperately to preserve many of the same principles that militants fought for in those revolutions. But, so be it.

4. FIGHT FOR A WORKERS PARTY. The Donkeys, Elephants and Greens have had their chance. Now is the time to fight for our own party and for the interests of our own class, the working class. Any campaigns by independent labor militants must highlight this point. And any campaigns can also become the nucleus of a workers party network until we get strong enough to form at least a small party. None of these other parties, and I mean none, are working in the interests of working people and their allies. The following slogan, which codifies that great lesson of politics today, must be hammered home. Break with the Democrats, Republicans and Greens!

5. FIGHT FOR A WORKERS AND XYZ GOVERNMENT. THIS IS THE DEMAND THAT SEPARATES THE MILITANTS FROM THE FAINT-HEARTED REFORMISTS. We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are still reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.

Why the XYZ part? What does that mean? No, it is not part of an algebra lesson. What it reflects is that while society is made up mainly of workers (of one sort or another) there are other classes (and parts of classes) in society that we seek as allies and could benefit from a workers government. Examples- small independent contractors, intellectuals, the dwindling number of small farmers, and some professionals like dentists. Ya, I like the idea of a workers and dentists government. Given my dental history I would fight on the last barricade for that government. The point is you have got to fight for it.

Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good now. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies at this late date write-in campaigns are possible. ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES! GET THOSE PETITIONS SIGNED! PRINT OUT THE LEAFLETS! PAINT THOSE BANNERS! GET READY TO SHAKE HANDS AND KISS BABIES.

Monday, May 17, 2010

From "Revolutionary History", Vol.3 No.3, Spring 1991-Open Letter to the KKE (Communist Party Of Greece), 1927-A Guest Commentary

Click on the headline to link to "Revolutionary History, Vol.3 No.3, Spring 1991-Open Letter to the KKE (1927).

Markin comment:

Part of knowing what to do to forward the struggle in Greece today is to know some historical background of the struggle in the past. Here is a contribution. Victory to the Greek workers! Workers to Power!

*From "Revolutionary History", Vol.3 No.3, Spring 1991-The Left Opposition in Greece (1930)- A Guest Commentary

Click on the headline to link to "Revolutionary History, Vol.3 No.3, Spring 1991-The Left Opposition in Greece (1930).

Markin comment:

Part of knowing what to do to forward the struggle in Greece today is to know some historical background of the struggle in the past. Here is a contribution. Victory to the Greek workers! Workers to Power!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

*From The Leon Trotsky Archives- With Greece In Mind Today- A Program Of Action In France (1934)

Click on the headline to link to an "Leon Trotsky Internet Archive" online copy of his "Program of Action for France" in 1934.

Markin comment:

Yes, I know France in 1934 was a long time ago. Yes, I know the conditions then with the very ominous rise of fascism in Europe were somewhat different that today's "democratic" international capitalist globalization. And yes, I know the Soviet Union is gone as a factor in world politics. To our disadvantage. But read some of these points and see if you don't agree that they apply in Greece today. Leon Trotsky is speaking our revolutionary language, wherever he is.

*From The Leon Trotsky Internet Archives- With Greece In Mind- The Lessons of History- "The French Revolution Has Begun " (1936)

Click on the headline to link to a "Leon Trotsky Internet archive" online copy of "The French Revolution Has Begun" from his 1936 pamphlet, "Whither France?".

Markin comment:

Every Greek militant, and every supporter of the working class struggles in Greece today, can benefit, and benefit greatly, from reading Leon Trotsky's works, especially those from the mid-1930s when another period of class struggle was heating up and the struggle for power- working class power- was posed. This time we had better learn our lessons early- and win

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

*May Day Message From The Greek Communist Party- Support The General Strike In Greece May 5th- Victory To The Greek Workers And Their Allies

Click on the headline to link to a "Socialist Unity" Website post of a May Day message from the Greek Communist Party.

Markin comment:

Enough of EU/IMF/U.S.-imposed austerity measures against working people everywhere, but most of all today in Greece. The Greek working class speaks for all of us. Make the capitalists pay for their own mistakes. Greece is at the moment the "epicenter" of the world revolution as it takes its first tentative steps into the 21st century after some serious defeats in the late 20th century. We need a victory in Greece, and we need it now. Of course, as Marx, Lenin and Trotsky pointed out long ago the General Strike at some point poses the question of power. Build workers councils that fight for a workers government. More, later.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On Workers Asset Liquidation Committees Today


On October 1, 2008 I commented in an entry entitled Fantastic Musings On The Financial Meltdown- Are We Prepared To Lead The Struggle For State Power that one of our demand today, a transitional demand if you will, should be to call for the establishment of workers committees to liquidate the assets of bankrupt companies and distribute them to the workers. I have taken a little heat from a couple of comrades over my formulation. I purposefully placed this demand in the context of the need for us to take a more aggressively agitational approach during this period, an exceptional time of capitalist economic chaos when we can get a hearing from working people looking for SOME way out of this nightmare.

The gist of the criticism of my position was that I was “defeatist” in that what is called for today is workers control of the companies. Under a workers government, which by the way is not going to spring forth today, that is the correct demand. Under capitalist conditions with no realistic prospect of a workers government on the horizon- and here I intend to be humorous- workers, take the money and run. Fast.

Look, our whole reason for existence as socialists is that we believe that this capitalist/imperialist system is fundamentally flawed and that it needs to be replaced by a more equitable society based, at the start, on socialist economic planning in the spirit of social solidarity rather than greed. No serious reader of this space should disagree with that general premise. The point is how to get that message out in a way that people can relate to. We, rightly, had (and have) not interest in bailouts, rescues or other remedies that would put a bandage on this broken down financial system. We call for a big NO vote on that issue. Again there should be no dispute on this. But hear me out.

Whether we socialists have developed a propaganda circle mentality or not, as I noted in the above-mentioned previous entry, we still need to deal with today’s social reality as we shift gears and become more agitational in our work as OUR political prospects brighten. The demand for workers committees to take control of liquidation of assets is directly counterposed to what is happening today as larger financial institutions are gobbling up smaller companies at fire sale prices. That is leaving untold workers without jobs, pensions, personal assets, etc. So companies fail- those things happen by hook or by crook under capitalism- we are in no position today to affect that. We ARE in a position to speak on behalf of those who suffer the consequences of this crisis in order to see that they get some minimal relief. Moreover this demand, and here is the real historic point, lets working people get to take things, even if in a negative way, into their own hands. That is worth raising the slogan for by itself.

Lastly, we have no interest in the imperialists’ capitalist nationalization schemes. This, essentially, is what the Freddie Mae and Fannie Mae deals were about. We socialists have all sorts of positions on nationalizations, when we support or call for them as well as, and under what conditions we defend them, depending of who is doing the nationalization and for what purposes. A quick review of recent history, as always, tells the tale. The Cuban Revolution’s nationalizations (and expropriations) of, mainly, American properties, we supported with both hands. Right? The same is true with any such efforts with the oil under Chavez in Venezuela. And we, moreover, defend those actions against attempts by the imperialists to take them back. No question. We neither supported nor called for the nationalizations of the (bankrupt) coal industrial under capitalist control state in Great Britain after World War II. We did, however, defend against Prime Minister Thatcher’s bloody attempts to de-nationalize these mines in the 1980’s. That will give a flavor of what a correct policy should be. Once again this position calls forth not the need for capitalist nationalizations but, in effect, the need to create workers committees to liquidate assets rather than to solidify the capitalists in their current strategies to save THEIR system.