Saturday, December 11, 2010

*From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future- The Spartacus Youth's Fight Now (2010) And Then (1971)-On Gay Oppression

Markin comment:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Workers Vanguard No. 969
19 November 2010

Gay Oppression and the Suicide of Tyler Clementi

(Young Spartacus pages)

NEW YORK CITY—On September 22, 18-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. Earlier that week, his college roommate had secretly streamed video over the Internet of him making out with another man. Following Clementi’s death, reports of suicides of gay youth around the country came trickling out in the press. The next month saw the kidnapping and torture of three young men in the Bronx because they were suspected of engaging in homosexual sex. These terrible events are not anomalies; they speak to the ongoing oppression of gays, and of all those who diverge from the deeply entrenched gender roles inherent to the institution of the family in capitalist society.

Homosexual youth are up to four times more likely than straight youth to attempt suicide. Almost two-thirds report feeling unsafe at school. The growth of religious backwardness and the reactionary “family values” campaigns pushed by both Democrats and Republicans have further intensified anti-gay bigotry and violence, at the same time that state-sponsored “abstinence only” campaigns and the rollback of abortion rights have aimed to repress every expression of young people’s sexuality.

Confronted by the events of the last several months, everyone from the New York Times, the bourgeoisie’s newspaper of record, to the reformist International Socialist Organization has responded with calls for anti-bullying measures. For public school and campus administrations, the capitalist rulers’ watchdogs, anti-bullying policies are a pretext for further snooping into the private affairs of youth, who are already subject to anti-drug witchhunts. Black and minority students, who especially are branded as criminals by cops and security guards and subject to discriminatory “zero tolerance” policies in their schools, would be among the first targets.

We oppose school administrators having stronger disciplinary powers, and we also oppose “hate crime” legislation. Hate crime legislation strengthens the capitalist state’s repressive powers while promoting the absurd idea that the state will defend the interests of those oppressed and exploited under capitalism. In practice, such laws have been used to persecute anarchist protesters and pro-Palestinian activists while gays, immigrants and black people continue to face cop and vigilante terror in the streets.

We seek to win youth to building a revolutionary workers party that will act as a champion of the oppressed against the barbarism of capitalist society. Only socialist revolution will open the way to an egalitarian, communist society where the institution of the family, the source of women’s and gay oppression, can be replaced because its economic and social functions will be fulfilled by society as a whole.

We print below a Spartacus Youth Club speaker’s remarks at the New York Spartacist League’s October 9 forum, slightly edited for publication.

* * *

What I wanted to talk about is what, probably, you have been reading in the papers, this recent wave of attacks against gays in New York and the surrounding areas. There is the case of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student, a tragic suicide. There are also the cases of the brutalized gays in the Bronx that were on the front page of the New York Times, and the attack on a gay man at the landmark of the gay rights movement, Stonewall, in the Village.

It is a vital task of the workers revolutionary vanguard to fight for full democratic rights for gays. In the United States, which is one of the most politically backward advanced capitalist countries on Earth, we see an infestation of Puritanism and religious fundamentalism.

The monogamous family remains the legally enforced social model for the organization of private life in its most intimate aspects, such as love, sex, bearing and raising children. It is the central institution oppressing women, and anti-gay bigotry flows from the need to punish any “deviations” from this patriarchal model.

So what is our program? You can, of course, read more in the Women and Revolution pages of our newspaper, or come to one of our youth classes at City College this semester. To give you a snapshot of our program for women’s liberation and for the complete end to this system of oppression, I would like to quote Leon Trotsky.

We had this in our article “For the Right of Gay Marriage...and Divorce” [WV No. 824, 16 April 2004]. Leon Trotsky wrote a response to the magazine Liberty in January 1933. They were asking him, “Is Bolshevism deliberately destroying the family?” This is Trotsky’s answer:

“If one understands by ‘family’ a compulsory union based on the marriage contract, the blessing of the church, property rights, and the single passport, then Bolshevism has destroyed this policed family from the roots up.

“If one understands by ‘family’ the unbounded domination of parents over children, and absence of legal rights for the wife, then Bolshevism has, unfortunately, not yet completely destroyed this carryover of society’s old barbarism.

“If one understands by ‘family’ ideal monogamy—not in the legal but in the actual sense—then the Bolsheviks could not destroy what never was nor is on earth, barring fortunate exceptions.”
From The Revolutionary Marxist Caucus Newsletter (forebear of the Spartacus Youth Clubs), Number 7, April 1971

Homosexuals have long been accustomed to the charge of "crimes against nature" by the spokesmen of official morality. Much of the radical movement, however, accuses them of crimes against the revolution be¬sides. If the cops don't get them, maybe the revolution will-if some "revolutionary" organizations are taken at their word.


Progressive Labor is one organization doing its best to convince sexually oppressed groups that if PL could make the American revolution, their social oppression could be even more systematic than what they endure now. PL has done it before— witness the WSA-SDS position at the time of the June '69 SDS split on the family as an instrument of revolutionary struggle, and their long opposition within SDS to raising the demand for free and legal abortion. A variation on the same pseudo-proletarian Victorianism is their line on homosexuality expressed in the February issue of PL, as a disease of capitalism like dope addiction which is damn well not going to exist under socialism. Here PL marshals its ignorance in the service of an opportunistic con¬ception of reaching workers with their politics (lots of workers don't like homosexuals).


PL is trying to "fight male chauvinism" in strange fashion. It should be obvious to anyone that homosexuality is encouraged by no dominant capitalist institution (except negatively by the horrors of bourgeois mar¬riage and family life). The most effective means for discouraging homosexuality (besides direct persecution) are the same means used to oppress women and youth. Central among these are the institutions of bourgeois marriage, the family, and religion. Here people receive the conditioning which includes a taboo against homosexual feelings and practices-a fear which for many people is probably stronger than positive response to either sex. That the conditioning process is not uniformly successful means only that no social order succeeds completely, always, in molding individuals exactly according to a certain pattern—if it did, there would be no homosexuals, no women's liberation movement, no communists, no nonconformists 'of any sort. Those who do opt for noncon¬formity, of course, pay a big price-ask any independent women or homosexuals.


It is one thing to recognize the Marxist truth that the struggle for social revolution cannot center around issues of special social oppression, sexual or otherwise (most sections of the women's, black and "gay" movements have yet to realize this). But another matter entirely is the utterly retrograde belief that the prejudices and chauvinist practices among workers under capitalism, such as those concerning women and homosexuals, represent a progressive aspect of their consciousness. Obviously a homosexual communist is duty-bound to take backwardness into account, and not invite isolation before obtaining a hearing for his (her) class program, just as no communist woman should seek to win the sympathy of socially conservative workingwomen on the basis of some libertarian personal life style. But these important tactical considerations do not mean that absolute sexual freedom is not part of a communist program. The Bolsheviks (before Stalin) struck all the oppressive laws off the books regarding women and homosexuals. They also rejected the back¬door oppression of "rehabilitation” of anybody's brand of consenting sexual behavior. (For documentation of the Bolshevik policy on various aspects of sexual oppression, and the policy reversals under Stalin, see the Socialist Workshop pamphlet available from the RMC for 50 cents)

But avoiding stupidities like the cliché "Do you want your daughter to marry a black and why not?" is very different from elevating backwardness into revolutionary virtue. For every worker alienated by "Gay Liberation" there are plenty who are driven to frenzy by Women's Liberation—because psychologically it seems to threaten most of them more directly. The hollow "satisfaction" of male supremacy in personal relations (provided one is confident of "masculinity" of course) is one of the few "satisfactions" which capitalism promises the male worker. We take this backwardness into account tactically in order better to defeat it in the long run, not because we endorse it.

What does PL propose? If they believe that "movements which unite with drug addicts and homosexuals a defamatory and baseless analogy close the door to workers" how do they propose to implement this insight? Consistency would demand that PL expose and root out such carriers of capitalist corruption within the workers’ and radical student movements. The right wing can root out the communists and PL can expose the sexual "deviants" of all political stripes. PL partly backs away from this logical implication of their medievalism by not proposing to catch and "cure" the "deviants" now under capitalism-that will be done humanely but oh so effectivey under socialism. Yet PL knows that other "evils of capitalism" must be fought here and now, every day. Is PL just afraid to talk now of purging society of homosexuality in the way they talk of smashing racism?

We think so. We suspect that PL does not undertake the line of action outlined above because they realize that every decent element would despise them for it. And they may know better than what they print in PL. Perhaps some "aversion therapy" from the radical sections of Women's Liberation will help the editors of PL be "rehabilitated into useful roles"(PL's "socialist" formula for the homosexual cure)-in the fight against sexual oppression.

Probably the Maoists will be undismayed to learn that homosexuals are indeed persecuted as undesirables in China; they are already acquainted with the concepts of the "socialist family" and bureaucratic vacillations on abortion. And in Cuba (SWP-YSA, recently enthusiastic about "Gay Liberation", take note). The allegedly capitalist Soviet Union still persecutes the "capitalist sickness" of homosexuality; according to PL's and Mao¬ist logic, some shred of revolutionary moral¬ity must therefore persist there.

We have reserved our sharpest criticism for Progressive Labor, because as self-proclaimed vanguard party, they deserve it most. (Less significant "Marxist" organizations have outdone PL; when PL has been opportunist, ignorant, and wrong, they have been obscenely wrong. The National Caucus of Labor Committees in a recent leaflet against the SWP-YSA compared homosexuals, and by implication all specially oppressed groups, to dogs.) But while criticizing "vanguard" groups which mouth idiocies in the name of revolutionary leadership, we must not spare the various movements against special oppression, whose leaderships reinforce PL's prejudices. It is more than a mood of pseudo-revolutionary Puritanism which makes PL vilify homosexuals. In part PL is reacting impressionistically to the fact that the exist¬ing movement against homosexual oppression (like most of Women's and Black Liberation) lacks anything resembling a program for socialist revolution, the only permanent solution to their oppression.

The best of "Gay Liberation" is the Red Butterfly group. A main arena of their work seems to be winning recognition for their struggle through work in the SWP-YSA-dominated SMC. Participation in the SMC, notorious for its class-collaboration (denounced regularly and essentially correctly by PL and its sections of SDS), is an excellent way for homosexuals to win tem¬porary acceptance from liberals and their confused student following. It is also an excellent way to reinforce the prejudices of groups like PL, which, although dead wrong on many vital issues, nonetheless do seriously desire to reach the working class to make a revolution. The SMC also alienates all sections of the work¬ing class, which correctly hate their liberal enemies repeatedly featured at SMC rallies, and which will hate them more, not less, as they lose widespread illusions about the capitalist system in struggle. The Red Butterflies, despite their evident desire to bring a radical perspective to homosexuals, remain a centrist group according to the classic short definition: revolutionary in words, opportunist in deeds. Their desire to be part of the "mainstream" (read SMC) of the "movement" is not in itself unhealthy. But the mainstream of the "movement" happens to be led by class-collaborationist garbage—and only a bitter struggle can change that.
From opposite poles, PL and the various "liberation" movements make symmetrical errors. PL, in backward sectarian fashion, refuses to intervene actively in important movements once it has recognized the rottenness of their leaderships. Perhaps PL feels that its own politics and cadre are not tough or sophisticated enough to win people away from their misleaders when more than the simplest issues are involved. (Through the low-level politics of the CWSA strategy in SDS, concentrating mostly on unorganized workers, PL overcame its past opportunism in union work of "left-center coalitions" with "progressive bureaucrats, etc., by simply avoiding unions.).


The existing "liberation" movements universally share a lack of working-class revolutionary perspective. What PL fails to recognize is that nowhere has any movement, including movements of the working class itself, been anything but bourgeois in leadership and pro¬gram in the absence of Marxist leadership. No spontaneous movement against any form of oppression, even against the economic exploitation upon which capitalism is based, can main¬tain a revolutionary program unless it is linked through its most conscious cadres with a Bolshevik communist party. The various movements do not recognize this either, the more left among them seeing their particular struggles as somehow "inherently revolutionary" without a revolutionary program. For homosexuals, and for all the specially oppressed, liberation can be wan only by struggle alongside the working class armed with Marxist program for the destruction of class society, the basis for all oppression.

*Films to While Away The Class Struggle by-“Old Man River Keeps Rolling Along”-The Work Of Paul Robeson

Click on the title to link to an American Left History blog entry of a book reviewing the life of Paul Robeson as background for this film review>

Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some films that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. In the future I expect to do the same for books under a similar heading.-Markin

DVD Review

Portrait Of An Artist, Paul Robeson, The Criterion Collection, 2007

Paul Robeson’s name can be found in many places in this space for his extraordinary (untutored) vocal talents singing songs of freedom, of the struggle for human dignity and for artistic effect (Emperor Jones, etc.). The most famous, or from a leftist perspective, infamous use of that instrument was the Peekskill (New York) concert of 1949 where he, his fellow progressives, including Communist Party members and sympathizers, literally had to fight off the fascistic locals in the throes of the post-World War II Cold War “red scare” that dominated my childhood and many others from my generation of ’68.

But that skill hardly ends the list of talents that Paul Robeson used in his life: scholar, All-American football player (at one point denied that honor because of his politics0, folklorist, actor, and, most importantly, political activist round out the main features. This Criterion Collection series of four discs concentrates on his film career (and other short biographic and memory pieces) especially the early work where he had to play groveling, simple-minded blacks and did so against type (his ever present black and proud type). I will give a short summary below to show the range of his work, although his real role as Shakespeare’s Othello, done on the stage, is by all accounts, his definitive work, as is, to my mind Emperor Jones for his film work.

That said, Paul Robeson, and I were political opponents on the left. Whether he was a member or just a sympathizer of the Stalinized Communist Party (or to use a quaint work form the old Cold War days, fellow-traveler) he nevertheless, if one looks closely at his speeches and comments stayed very close to the American Communist Party "party line" of the times (whatever that was, or rather whatever Moscow called for), including the ritualistic denunciation of Trotskyites as counter-revolutionaries, etc. He, however, was an eloquent spokesman for blacks here in America and internationally, a speaker against the Cold War madness, and a fighter for national liberation and anti-colonial struggles a kindred spirit. Moreover, unlike others, including poet Langston Hughes and novelist Richard Wright no “turncoat” and held his ground despite its effect on his career, his ability to earn a living, and his ability to leave America. Thus, he, along with the anarchist Emma Goldman, is one of those contradictory political characters from the past that I have a “soft” spot for. Paul Robeson’s voice and presence, in any case, with this comprehensive retrospective (and others) will always be there. I wish, wish like hell, he could have been with us when the deal went down and communists had to choose between Stalinism and Trotskyism.
Emperor Jones, a classic Robeson performance is the main feature of the first disc. It is almost painful to watch this brilliant Eugene O’Neill play brought to the screen in 1933 for its language (the ‘n’ word), it depiction of blacks, in the cities and the jungle as servile or loony, and merely the white man’s fodder and for its primitive cinematic effects. But Paul Robeson IS Emperor Jones. No amount of fool talk, bad dialogue, didactic scripting can take away the power of his performance, foolishly tempting the fates, and the white man, or not. This is a powerful black man, period. His singing, especially of Water Boy, of course, needs no comment from me.

The other part of this disc is a sequence short piece on his life and times, as well as the effect hat he had on then up-and-coming young black actors and singers like James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee. This is a good short biographic sketch, although I find it hard to believe that throughout the various comments the fact of his association with the American Communist Party is no mentioned by anyone or I did not hear it mentioned by the narrator once. Robeson is characterized as merely a black social activist. This is a disservice to his memory, and a form of historical distortion that I have found elsewhere (notably in a Howard Zinn tribute documentary done by Matt Damon).The American Communist Party, our left-wing political enemy or not, was part of the working class movement in this country, at some points an important part, and to deny that is to deny our left-wing history. No, this falsification by omission will not do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

**From The Partisan Defense Committee- 25th Annual Holiday Appeal- Honor Class-War Prisoner Lynne Stewart

Click on title to link to the Partisan Defense Committee Web site.

The following is passed on from the PDC concerning the 24th Annual Holiday Appeal and applies this year as well

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Free All Class-War Prisoners!

Build PDC Holiday Appeal

“The path to freedom leads through a prison. The door swings in and out and through that door passes a steady procession of ‘those fools too stubborn-willed to bend,’ who will not turn aside from the path because prisons obstruct it here and there.”

—James P. Cannon, “The Cause that Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926

Twenty-four years ago, the Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—revived a key tradition of the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary: sending monthly stipends to those “stubborn-willed” class-war prisoners condemned to capitalism’s dungeons for standing up against racist capitalist repression. We are again holding Holiday Appeal benefits to raise funds for this unique program, calling particular attention to the fight to free America’s foremost class-war prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who remains on death row in Pennsylvania.

Our forebear, Cannon, also affirmed a basic principle that should be no less applicable today: “The class-conscious worker accords to the class-war prisoners a place of singular honor and esteem…. The victory of the class-war prisoners is possible only when they are inseparably united with the living labor movement and when that movement claims them for its own, takes up their battle cry and carries on their work.”

The PDC calls on labor activists, fighters for black and immigrant rights and defenders of civil liberties to join us in donating to and building the annual Holiday Appeal. An injury to one is an injury to all! We print below brief descriptions of the 16 class-war prisoners who receive monthly stipends from the PDC, many of whom were denied parole over the last year for refusing to express “remorse” for acts they did not commit!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” This past April, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily threw out Mumia’s efforts to overturn his frame-up conviction based on the racist exclusion of black jurors from his 1982 trial. Ominously, this same court has yet to rule on the prosecution’s petition to reinstate the death penalty. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office states that, whatever the Supreme Court decides, it will continue to push for Mumia’s execution.

December 9 is the 28th anniversary of Mumia’s arrest for a killing that the cops know he did not commit. Mumia was framed up for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Mountains of evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner, have been submitted to the courts. But to the racists in black robes, a court of law is no place for evidence of the innocence of this fighter for the oppressed.

While others plead with the current U.S. president and his attorney general to “investigate” violations of Mumia’s “civil rights,” the PDC says that Mumia’s fate cannot be left in the hands of the government of the capitalists. The racist rulers hate Mumia because they see in him the spectre of black revolt. The stakes are high and the situation is grim, but any real fight for Mumia’s freedom must be based on a class-struggle opposition to the capitalist rulers, who have entombed this innocent black man for more than half his life.

Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression of its native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression. Peltier’s frame-up trial, for the 1975 deaths of two marauding FBI agents in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation, shows what capitalist “justice” is all about. Although the lead government attorney has admitted “We can’t prove who shot those agents” and the courts have acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 65-year-old Peltier is still locked away. Outrageously, in August, the U.S. Parole Commission again turned down Peltier’s parole request and coldbloodedly declared they would not reconsider his case for another 15 years.

Eight MOVE members—Chuck Africa, Michael Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine Africa, Delbert Africa, Eddie Africa and Phil Africa—are in their 32nd year of prison. They were sentenced to 30-100 years after the 8 August 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, having been falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire. In 1985, eleven of their MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops. This year, again, after more than three decades of unjust incarceration, nearly all of these innocent prisoners had parole hearings, but none were released.

Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning are the two remaining anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison. They were convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s. Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. Their children were kidnapped at gunpoint by the Feds.

The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of radicals during the Vietnam antiwar movement and by New Leftists who wrote off the possibility of winning the working class to a revolutionary program and saw themselves as an auxiliary of Third World liberation movements. But, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the “respectable” left. From a proletarian standpoint, the actions of these leftist activists against imperialism and racist injustice are not a crime. They should not have served a day in prison.

Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa are former Black Panther supporters and leaders of the Omaha, Nebraska, National Committee to Combat Fascism. They were victims of the FBI’s deadly COINTELPRO operation under which 38 Black Panther Party members were killed and hundreds more imprisoned on frame-up charges. Poindexter and Mondo were railroaded to prison and sentenced to life for a 1970 explosion that killed a cop, and they have now served more than 37 years in jail. This year, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied Poindexter a new trial despite the fact that a crucial piece of evidence excluded from the original trial, a long-suppressed 911 audio tape, proved that testimony of the state’s key witness was perjured.

Hugo Pinell is the last of the San Quentin 6 still in prison. He was a militant anti-racist leader of prison rights organizing along with George Jackson, his comrade and mentor, who was gunned down by prison guards in 1971. Despite numerous letters of support and no disciplinary write-ups for over 28 years, Pinell was again denied parole this year. Now in his 60s, Pinell continues to serve a life sentence at the notorious Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit in California.

Jamal Hart, Mumia’s son, was sentenced in 1998 to 15 1/2 years without parole on bogus firearms possession charges. Hart was targeted for his prominent activism in the campaign to free his father. Although Hart was initially charged under Pennsylvania law, which would have meant a probationary sentence, Clinton’s Justice Department intervened to have Hart thrown into prison under federal law. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down Hart’s habeas corpus petition, and he has faced myriad bureaucratic obstacles and racist targeting throughout his incarceration.

Contribute now! All proceeds from the Holiday Appeal will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252.

From The Archives Of The Spartacist League (U.S.)- The Socialist Workers Party's Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) (1940)

Markin comment:

In October 2010 I started what I anticipate will be an on-going series, From The Archives Of The Socialist Workers Party (America), starting date October 2, 2010, where I will place documents from, and make comments on, various aspects of the early days of the James P. Cannon-led Socialist Worker Party in America. As I noted in the introduction to that series Marxism, no less than other political traditions, and perhaps more than most, places great emphasis on roots, the building blocks of current society and its political organizations. Nowhere is the notion of roots more prevalent in the Marxist movement that in the tracing of organizational and political links back to the founders, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto, and the Communist League.

After mentioning the thread of international linkage through various organizations from the First to the Fourth International I also noted that on the national terrain in the Trotskyist movement, and here I was speaking of America where the Marxist roots are much more attenuated than elsewhere, we look to Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor League, Eugene V. Deb’s Socialist Party( mainly its left-wing, not its socialism for dentists wing), the Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers Of The World), the early Bolshevik-influenced Communist Party and the various formations that led up to the Socialist Workers Party, the section that Leon Trotsky’s relied on most while he was alive. Further, I noted that beyond the SWP that there were several directions to go in but that those earlier lines were the bedrock of revolutionary Marxist continuity, at least through the 1960s.

I am continuing today  what I also anticipate will be an on-going series about one of those strands past the 1960s when the SWP lost it revolutionary appetite, what was then the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) and what is now the Spartacist League (SL/U.S.), the U.S. section of the International Communist League (ICL). I intend to post materials from other strands but there are several reasons for starting with the SL/U.S. A main one, as the document below will make clear, is that the origin core of that organization fought, unsuccessfully in the end, to struggle from the inside (an important point) to turn the SWP back on a revolutionary course, as they saw it. Moreover, a number of the other organizations that I will cover later trace their origins to the SL, including the very helpful source for posting this material, the International Bolshevik Tendency.

However as I noted in posting a document from Spartacist, the theoretical journal of ICL posted via the International Bolshevik Tendency website that is not the main reason I am starting with the SL/U.S. Although I am not a political supporter of either organization in the accepted Leninist sense of that term, more often than not, and at times and on certain questions very much more often than not, my own political views and those of the International Communist League coincide. I am also, and I make no bones about it, a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, a social and legal defense organization linked to the ICL and committed, in the traditions of the IWW, the early International Labor Defense-legal defense arm of the Communist International, and the early defense work of the American Socialist Workers Party, to the struggles for freedom of all class-war prisoners and defense of other related social struggles.
Markin comment on this series of Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) articles:

Coming out of the radical wing of the Vietnam War anti-war movement in the early 1970s, and having done military service as well, I was intrigued when I first read about the Socialist Workers Party’s (SWP-U.S.) Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) as propounded by that party just before and during World War II. The intriguing part, initially at least, was the notion that radicals could have a democratic propaganda platform to work off of in bringing their fellow soldiers around to an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist by proposing to control the then much less powerful American military through democratic methods like election of officers, etc..

And then life intruded. Or rather I reflected on my own somewhat eclectic anti-war military work and, as well, of various schemes by reformists to “control” various aspects of bourgeois society without having to take power and replace those institutions. In short, take political responsibility for the current regime. In the year 2010 we, after years of defeat and decline, are quite used to reformists and others putting forth all kinds of nice schemes for turning swords into plowshares by asking the bourgeois state to take the war budget and create jobs, better educational opportunities, provide better health care, you name it all without, seemingly, positing the need to change the state.

A classic and fairly recent example of that, in the aftermath of the Professor Henry Louis Gates arrest in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the renewed call for “community control of the police.” And of course, come election time, the willingness, sometimes without even the caveat of refusal to take office if elected, of all and sundry leftists to run from the executive offices of the bourgeois state. Thus, by standing for those offices, exhibiting a touching “innocence” on the question of responsibility for the administration of the capitalist state. To my mind, the PMP is on that order. The idea, the utopian idea, when you talk about the central organs of bourgeois state power, the armed forces, the police, the courts and the prisons that something short of the struggle for power will do the trick. The hard, hard reality is otherwise, as we are also too well aware of every time we get a little uppity.

Reflecting on my own military experience about what can and cannot be done in order to influence soldiers and sailors and fight for an anti-war perspective military does not mean that nothing can be done short of taking take power to do so. The real problem with the PMP, and it may have reflected a lack of knowledge of wartime military possibilities, cadre familiar with the then peacetime volunteer military, and the “weak” military presence in pre-World War II America was that it was trying to project a positive program where what was called for, and is usually called for in war time conditions, were defensive measures such as creation of rank and file servicemen’s unions that fight for democratic right for soldiers, essentially the right to organize, and against victimizations of both radicals and others that get into the military’s cross hairs. The other key policy was to link up the civilian political anti-war opposition with the soldiers through the vehicle of coffeehouses or other off base places and soldiers and sailors solidarity committees. Late in the Vietnam War period those effects were beginning to have effect as rank and file disaffection with that war almost split the soldiery. Certainly it was a factor in Vietnamization of the war as the American army became more unreliable as a tool to carry out imperial policy.

As the material presented notes, especially in the introduction, the SWP never, as far as I know, repudiated the PMP (it kind of drifted away as World War II entered its final phases.) This, perhaps, reflected a certain “softness” as also noted on the question of running for executive offices of the bourgeois state which that party did after the war and revolutionaries’ relationship to that state in the struggle for power. As well it is not clear how much Leon Trotsky’s posthumous residual authority, who pushed the PMP as much as anybody else, played in this whole mess. Read this material as a modern Marxist primer on the bourgeois state.

Proletarian Military Policy

Written: 1972
Source: Prometheus Research Library, New York. Published in Prometheus Research Series 2, 1989.
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: David Walters, John Heckman Prometheus Research Library.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2006/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


This article was first published in Revolutionary Communist Youth Newsletter, number 13, August-September 1972.

The sharpening interimperialist antagonisms, upsurge in imperialist rivalry and “surprising” new alignments pose for the third time in this century the spectre of a world war, this time with thermonuclear weaponry. Imperialist war has always been a decisive test for the communist movement. Such wars are the consummate expression of the inability of capitalism to transcend the contradiction between the productive forces, which have outgrown both national boundaries and private property relations, and the relations of production which define the two great classes of modern society, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Imperialist war brings only increased misery, enslavement and suffering to the working class, exacerbating the tensions of class society to a fever pitch. Marxists seek to use these periodic violent disruptions of decaying capitalism to bring about the liberation of the proletariat. This is due not to a “the worse the better” outlook, but rather is the necessary recognition of the objective conditions of crisis weakening bourgeois society which Marxists must seek to utilize in order to drive forward to the socialist revolution.

As the outlines and alignments of yet a third global inter-imperialist war begin to take shape, it is essential to examine the policy of the Trotskyist movement in World War II and to understand the role and nature of the modern bourgeois state and its army, in order to prepare ourselves for the coming period of increasing international conflicts and war. Failure to take the basic Leninist conception of the state as a starting point for any strategy towards the bourgeois army leads almost inevitably to major theoretical errors, as was the case with the Socialist Workers Party’s adoption of the “Proletarian Military Policy” (P.M.P.) in 1940. A study of the P.M.P. and of Trotsky’s writings on the coming war, fascism and military policy in 1940 reveal a sliding off from basic Leninist concepts of the bourgeois state and army.

The P.M.P. was a misdirected attempt to turn the American working class’s desire to fight fascism into a revolutionary perspective of overthrowing its “own” imperialist state. The core of the P.M.P. was a call for trade-union control of the compulsory military training being instituted by the state. The SWP resolution on “Proletarian Military Policy” adopted at the SWP’s Plenum-Conference in Chicago in September 1940 states:

We fight against sending the worker-soldiers into battle without proper training and equipment. We oppose the military direction of worker-soldiers by bourgeois officers who have no regard for their treatment, their protection and their lives. We demand federal funds for the military training of workers and worker-officers under the control of the trade unions. Military appropriations? Yes—but only for the establishment and equipment of worker training camps! Compulsory military training of workers? Yes—but only under the control of the trade unions!

James P. Cannon, leader of the SWP, defended the policy, primarily against the criticisms of Max Shachtman who had recently broken from the SWP and founded the Workers Party. Essentially, the P.M.P. contained a reformist thrust; it implied that it was possible for the working class to control the bourgeois army. The logic of the P.M.P. leads to reformist concepts of workers control of the state—which stand in opposition to the Marxist understanding that the proletariat must smash the organs of bourgeois state power in order to carry through a socialist revolution.

Cannon “Telescopes” the Tasks
It is necessary to see the background against which the P.M.P. was developed, and what the expectations of the SWP and Trotsky were in World War II, as these expectations were the assumptions which led them to the P.M.P. Cannon said at the 1940 SWP Conference:

We didn’t visualize, nobody visualized, a world situation in which whole countries would be conquered by fascist armies. The workers don’t want to be conquered by foreign invaders, above all by fascists. They require a program of military struggle against foreign invaders which assures their class independence. That is the gist of the problem.

Many times in the past we were put at a certain disadvantage: the demagogy of the Social Democrats against us was effective to a certain extent. They said, “You have no answer to the question of how to fight against Hitler....” Well, we answered in a general way, the workers will first overthrow the bourgeoisie at home and then they will take care of invaders. That was a good program, but the workers did not make the revolution in time. Now the two tasks must be telescoped and carried out simultaneously.

(“Summary Speech on Military Policy”)

We are willing to fight Hitler. No worker wants to see that gang of fascist barbarians overrun this country or any country. But we want to fight fascism under a leadership we can trust.

(“Military Policy of the Proletariat”)

Cannon strongly emphasized that capitalism has plunged the world into an epoch of universal militarism, and that from now on, “great questions can be decided only by military means.” For Cannon, “antimilitarism was all right when we were fighting against war in times of peace. But here you have a new situation of universal militarism.”

Trotsky and the SWP were attempting to take advantage of the intersection of the “universal militarism” of the bourgeois states’ preparation for imperialist war with the genuine anti-fascist sentiment of the masses. Trotsky’s writings of 1939-40 reveal an apocalyptic vision of the coming war which led him to see the need to develop some strategy to fairly immediately win over the army. Trotsky and the SWP vastly overestimated the extent to which the processes of the war itself would rip the facade off the (Anglo-American) bourgeoisie’s ideology of “democracy” fighting “dictatorship.” Trotsky, in conversations with SWP leaders in Mexico in 1940, said, “If the bourgeoisie could preserve democracy, good, but within a year they will impose a dictatorship....Naturally in principle we would overthrow so-called bourgeois democracy given the opportunity, but the bourgeoisie won’t give us time” (“Discussion with Trotsky,” 12 June 1940).

“Reformism Cannot Live Today”
As part of his projection, Trotsky also believed that reformism had exhausted all its possibilities: “At one time America was rich in reformist tendencies, but the New Deal was the last flareup. Now with the war it is clear that the New Deal exhausted all the reformist and democratic possibilities and created incomparably more favorable possibilities for revolution.” The SWP developed the viewpoint that as a result of the crises resulting from the war, reformism could not survive. A section of the SWP Resolution titled “Reformism Cannot Live Today” stated, “In the first place the victories of the fascist war machine of Hitler have destroyed every plausible basis for the illusion that a serious struggle against fascism can be conducted under the leadership of a bourgeois democratic regime.” But following World War II, because of the hatred of the working class for fascism and the broad strike wave, the bourgeoisie was forced to reinstate liberal reformist ideology and parliamentary politics, in an effort to mollify the workers.

The Trotskyists took as the basis and starting point of their new policy, the deeply popular working-class sentiment against fascism. The working class was being conscripted, and part of their acceptance of this conscription was based on their desire to fight fascism, the SWP reasoned, so therefore their acceptance of conscription has a “progressive” character. The P.M.P. was based on the belief that the bourgeoisie would be forced to institute military dictatorships and thus would be forced to expose its reactionary character in the midst of war, in a situation when the working class was armed (by the state itself) and motivated by deeply anti-dictatorship and anti-fascist feelings. This would lead inevitably to a revolutionary situation, and very quickly at that. These were the primary assumptions of Trotsky and the SWP. They do not serve to justify the adoption of the P.M.P., however, but rather only illuminate the background against which it was developed.

The slogan “For trade-union control of military training,” implies trade-union control of the bourgeois army. The P.M.P. slid over the particular nature and role of the imperialist army as the bulwark of capitalism. Shachtman caught the core of the P.M.P.’s reformist thrust and this sliding over when he wrote:

...I characterized his [Cannon’s] formula as essentially social-patriotic....Cannon used to say: We will be defensists when we have a country to defend, that is, when the workers have taken power in the land, for then it will not be an imperialist war we are waging but rather a revolutionary war against imperialist assailants....Now he says something different, because the revolution did not come in time. Now the two tasks—the task of bringing about the socialist revolution and defending the fatherland—“must be telescoped and carried out simultaneously.”

(“Working-Class Policy in War and Peace”)

In 1941 Shachtman had not yet been a year on his uneven eighteen-year-long centrist course from revolutionary Marxism to social democracy. In the first years Shachtman’s Workers Party claimed to be a section of the Fourth International and argued for the “conditional defense” of the Soviet Union whose “bureaucratic collectivism”—as he designated the degenerated workers state—was still progressive relative to capitalism. And as late as 1947 the issue of unification between the SWP and the Workers Party was sharply posed. His revisionist break with Marxism was nonetheless profound from the outset: a complete repudiation of its philosophic methodology coupled with the concrete betrayal of the Soviet Union in the real wars that took place, first with Finland in 1939 and then the German invasion in 1941. Thus the SWP’s departure from the clear principled thrust of Leninism in advancing the ambiguous P.M.P. was for the early revisionist Shachtman a gift which he was able to exploit because it did not center on his own areas of decisive departure from Marxism.

Ten years later, however, under the pressures of the Korean War, Shachtman’s revisionism had become all-encompassing and he advanced a grotesquely reactionary version of the P.M.P. of his own. Writing of the anticipated Third World War he asserted that “the only greater disaster than the war itself...would be the victory of Stalinism as the outcome of the war.” From this he concluded that “socialist policy must be based upon the idea of transforming the imperialist war into a democratic war [against Stalinism].” And to achieve this transformation he looked to “a workers’ government, no matter how modest its aims would be at the beginning, no matter how far removed from a consistently socialist objective” (“Socialist Policy in the War,” New International, 1951). Shachtman’s “workers’ government” is clearly no dictatorship of the proletariat—without socialist aims!—but rather the blood relative of Major Attlee’s British Labour government, fantasized into an American labor government headed by Walter Reuther. Here the class character of the state has been disappeared with a vengeance. (Shachtman’s group, by 1949 the Independent Socialist League, entered the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation in 1958. In the early 1960s nostalgic ISL types, most notably Hal Draper, gradually separated from the SP—especially after Shachtman himself defended the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion. Draper et al. went on to found what has now become the present-day International Socialists.)

Trotsky on the THE P.M.P.
The fragmentary material that Trotsky wrote on the subject in his last few months makes it clear that he bears responsibility for initiating the P.M.P.; however, he was murdered prior to its full-blown public inauguration and development by the SWP. Trotsky’s prediction that the bourgeoisie would not give the workers time to overthrow the bourgeois state before they had to fight against fascism feeds directly into Cannon’s ambiguity over revolutionary defeatism and the “telescoping” process of combining national defense with the workers’ fight against fascism.

Trotsky writes in “American Problems”: “The American workers do not want to be conquered by Hitler, and to those who say, ‘Let us have a peace program’....we say: We will defend the United States with a workers’ army, with workers’ officers, with a workers’ government, etc. If we are not pacifists, who wait for a better future, and if we are active revolutionists, our job is to penetrate into the whole military machine.” What is left out of this agitational approach is significant. Marxists do not defend the U.S.! At least not until the U.S. is a socialist U.S., only after the bourgeoisie and all its institutions, including the army, have been crushed. Marxists must oppose imperialist war; World War II was being fought not for “democracy” against “fascism” but purely for redivision of the world for imperialist ends. The workers army Trotsky writes of cannot develop organically out of the bourgeois army, but must be built up under conditions of class tension and revolutionary crisis through independent workers militias and by polarization of the bourgeois armed forces—that is, as the counterposed military arm of the working class organizing itself as the state power dual to the capitalists’ government.

The P.M.P.’s thrust was that of supporting a war against fascism without making clear whose class state was waging the war. Because of the popularity of a “democratic war against fascism,” the actual effect of the P.M.P. would have been merely to make the bourgeois state’s war more efficient and more democratically conducted.

Workers Control of the Army?
The logic of the P.M.P. impelled the SWP to see the bourgeois army as only one more arena of working-class struggle, like a factory, rather than as the main coercive force of the bourgeois state. If Marxists can favor trade-union control of industry, why not trade-union control of military training? We agree that Marxists seek to fight oppression wherever it arises, including fighting for soldiers’ rights—but from this it does not follow that we should call for “workers control of the army” as a parallel slogan to “workers control of the factories.” There will always be a need for development of the forces of production; the proletarian revolution does not need to smash them for its own purposes. The army’s sole function is to maintain the dominant class in power through coercion and repression; during the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the revolutionary state will have its own army, organized to serve its own class purposes; a developed socialist society will have no need for this special repressive apparatus, which will gradually dissolve into the whole self-armed population, and then, like the state, it too will wither away. The army is not a class-neutral institution. As part of the “special bodies of armed men” which constitute the basis of the state, it cannot be a workers army unless it is the army of a workers state.

Similarly we do not delude the workers with slogans of “workers control” of the police or of the prisons either, since both are at the essence of the bourgeois state. If we called for “workers control of the prisons,” the blood of Attica would be on our hands as well as Rockefeller’s. The storming of the Bastille represents the only possible form of “workers control” of the repressive apparatus of the state—i.e., smashing it utterly.

The P.M.P. was a proposal for the unions to make the bourgeois army more democratic and efficient to prosecute the war “against fascism.” But the bourgeoisie cannot fight fascism! The U.S. bourgeoisie wanted to fight the Germans and Japanese to further its own imperialist goals, not to “fight fascism.”

The P.M.P. error can be most clearly seen in the case of an unpopular war: should we demand trade-union control of military training in order to better fight in Vietnam? Obviously not. But the point is the same. Only those social-chauvinists who support “their” government’s war aims can reasonably raise the P.M.P.

As an SWP programmatic demand, the P.M.P. never took life and shortly was shelved, because the SWP did oppose the second imperialist war and therefore the autonomous social-patriotic implications of the P.M.P. did not take hold. But neither was the error corrected in those years, and it has been a source of disorientation ever since for those young militants who seek to counterpose en bloc the revolutionary SWP of the 1940s to the wretched reformist vehicle which today still bears the initials SWP.

The whole authority of the state is based ultimately on its ability to successfully employ its coercive power, which rests on its standing army, police and prisons; the coercive power of the state is the very essence of its structure. This development of state power is linked directly to the development of class antagonisms, so that while the state appears to stand above and outside of class conflict, as a “neutral” third force, in reality it is nothing more than an agent of the dominant, more powerful class in society. These considerations give rise to two major premises of revolutionary strategy: (1) that the existing bourgeois state machinery, including its army, must be crushed, and (2) in order to successfully accomplish this, the bourgeois state must be unable to rely upon its own coercive power; it must be unable to use it successfully against the revolutionary forces who seek to fundamentally change the class structure upon which the state rests. It is impossible to use the bourgeois army for proletarian ends; it must be smashed. The destabilizing of the bourgeois army, turning a section of it to the side of the proletariat, is inseparably linked with, but not the same as, the process of arming the proletariat.

For the Independent Arming of the Working Class!
The SWP was trying to use the bourgeoisie’s militarism for its own ends, and so it dropped entirely any fight against bourgeois militarism and patriotism as the main danger to the working class, and instead of exposing the nature of the imperialist armies, concentrated on attacking pacifism. Had the working class had such pacifist illusions of peaceful resistance to war, one could find more justification for this emphasis—however, as Trotsky recognized, the workers were “95 to 98 percent patriotic” in 1940, and thus accepted conscription into the army, because they were willing to fight fascism. Since the workers were for conscription, the pressure on the SWP to blunt a defeatist policy was strong. The SWP should have counterposed at every step the independent arming of the proletariat; but instead it undercut opposition to bourgeois conscription. Cannon attacks the fight of the social-pacifists against conscription because it “overlooked realities and sowed illusions. The workers were for conscription....A certain amount of compulsion has always been invoked by the labor movement against the backward, the slackers....Compulsion in the class war is a class necessity” (Cannon’s speech at 1940 SWP Conference). Yes, of course compulsion is a class necessity—but conscription into the bourgeois army is a class necessity for the bourgeois class. The fact that the workers may have supported it does not alter the class nature of the coercion being applied. It is not the job of the proletarian vanguard to help the bourgeoisie wage its imperialist wars, to provide it with cannon fodder. Communists must call for revolutionary defeatism and the overthrow of the bourgeoisie in wars between imperialist powers—not for the working class in each country to “control” the fighting arm of its “own” bourgeoisie. The call must be to “turn the guns the other way,” not to control the military apparatus.

As Trotsky wrote in 1934 in his comprehensive systematization of the revolutionary Marxist experience in World War I in application to the approaching Second World War, “War and the Fourth International”:

79. If the proletariat should find it beyond its power to prevent war by means of revolution—and this is the only means of preventing war—the workers, together with the whole people, will be forced to participate in the army and in war. Individualistic and anarchistic slogans of refusal to undergo military service, passive resistance, desertion, sabotage are in basic contradiction to the methods of the proletarian revolution. But just as in the factory the advanced worker feels himself a slave of capital, preparing for his liberation, so in the capitalist army too he feels himself a slave of imperialism. Compelled today to give his muscles and even his life, he does not surrender his revolutionary consciousness. He remains a fighter, learns how to use arms, explains even in the trenches the class meaning of war, groups around himself the discontented, connects them into cells, transmits the ideas and slogans of the party, watches closely the changes in the mood of the masses, the subsiding of the patriotic wave, the growth of indignation, and summons the soldiers to the aid of the workers at the critical moment.

The bourgeois state will only arm the workers for its own purposes—while this contradiction can and must be exploited by Marxists, it is utopian to expect that the trade unions could be able to use the bourgeois army for their own purposes. The modern imperialist armies created by the state have a largely working-class composition, but their function is directly counterposed to the interests of the world proletariat. The crucial task of Marxists is to always and everywhere smash bourgeois ideology in the ranks of the working class, to call for the independent arming and struggle of the organizations of the working class.


Trotskyists in World War Two
by Pierre Vert

Source: Prometheus Research Library, New York. Published originally in Spartacist (English edition) No. 38-39, Summer 1986.
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: David Walters, John Heckman, Prometheus Research Library.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2006/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.

This article was prepared for publication from remarks made at the meeting of the International Executive Committee of the iSt, held in Paris 30 November-1 December 1985.

An extremely rich, though somber, discussion on the activity of the international Trotskyist movement during World War II was provoked by an article by Pierre Broué, “Trotsky et les trotskystes face à la deuxième guerre mondiale” (“Trotsky and the Trotskyists Confront World War II”) in issue No. 23 (September 1985) of Cahiers Léon Trotsky. Comrades noted that this review, published by intellectuals associated with Pierre Lambert’s deeply reformist PCI (Parti Communiste Internationaliste, formerly Organisation Communiste Internationaliste [OCI]), is probably the most provocative publication in the world today for archival and historical research on the Trotskyist movement.

Broué presents a critical analysis of the Proletarian Military Policy, advocated by Trotsky just before he was murdered, along with a discussion of the national question in the occupied countries and of the participation of Trotskyists in the Stalinist-dominated Resistance. Broué argues against the view that Trotsky was sliding toward social defensism of the “allies” against the hideous barbarism of the Nazis. Rather, his argument implies that Trotsky was the first Pabloite. To Broué, Trotsky’s 1940 call for “militarization” of the anti-fascist, proletarian masses amounts to the liquidation of the revolutionary vanguard party into the “mass movement,” a policy actually developed and carried out by Michel Pablo. Moreover, Broué complains that the Fourth International did not take to heart Trotsky’s “militarization” policy. Broué summarizes:

“The question that we wanted to raise here is not an academic question. During World War Two, were the Trotskyist organizations, members as well as leaders, victims of an objective situation, which in any case was beyond them, and could they have done no better than they did, that is: to survive, round out the human material they had already recruited and save their honor as internationalists by maintaining through thick and thin the political work of ‘fraternizing’ with German workers in uniform? If that is so, it would then be well to admit that with his 1940 analysis of the necessity for militarization and his perspective for building the revolutionary party in the short term and beginning the struggle for power, Trotsky was totally cut off, not only from world political reality, but from the reality of his own organization. In that case, Trotsky was deluding himself about the possibility of a breakthrough when the Fourth International was in fact doomed to a long period of impotently ‘swimming against the stream,’ in the face of the ‘Stalinist hold on the masses.’ But one could assume the opposite: that the Trotskyist organizations, both the ranks and the leadership, were part and parcel of this and were at least partly responsible for their own failures. In this case one might think, reasoning from the premises of Trotsky’s 1940 analysis, that World War Two developed a mass movement based on national and social resistance which the Stalinists took pains to derail and caused to be crushed, as in the Greek example—and that the Trotskyists, having proved incapable of integrating themselves, were unable to either aid or to exploit it, and even perhaps to simply understand the concrete nature of the period they were living through.”

Broué, while addressing very real questions, is nonetheless mainly waging a veiled polemic against what he calls party-building by “incantation”—a retrospective justification of the Lambert group’s recent dissolution into the “Mouvement pour un parti des travailleurs” (“Movement for a Workers Party”), which explicitly harks back to the pre- Leninist conceptions of the “party of the whole class” of the Second International. The MPPT is a collection of anti-communist social democrats backed by sectors of the Force Ouvrière trade-union federation, a union created with CIA funds in 1947 and still on Reagan’s payroll.

Trotsky on Militarization

In the U.S., the Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) was a misdirected attempt to turn the appetite of the American working class to fight fascism into a revolutionary perspective of overthrowing its “own” imperialist state. The central proposition of the PMP was a call for trade-union control of the compulsory military training being instituted by the state. But “workers control of the bourgeois state,” if other than a routine social-democratic government, has only been an episode in an immediately revolutionary, dual power struggle. The workers army Trotsky wrote of must be forged under conditions of class battles and revolutionary crisis—dual power—through independent workers militias and the splitting of the bourgeois armed forces.

The call for the PMP was in fact soon shelved, but not until after Max Shachtman subjected it to a devastating polemic, “Working-Class Policy in War and Peace,” in the January 1941 issue of New International. On this point the left-centrist Shachtman, at the beginning of his 18-year slide toward State Department socialism, was correct against the SWP.

But if Trotsky’s 1939-40 writings do reveal an apocalyptic vision of the war which led him to see the need to develop some strategy to fairly immediately win over the army, it is necessary to emphasize that the PMP was nonetheless directed toward the mass organizations of the U.S. working class.

For Broué, “proletarian mobilization” quickly becomes “militarization” pure and simple. For example, he lauds the decision of Ch’en Tu-hsiu, the historic leader of Chinese Trotskyism, to become the political advisor of a division of the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang’s army. It’s not an accident that after this adventure in 1937, Ch’en Tu-hsiu advocated the building of a “Third Force” between the CP and the Kuomintang on a purely bourgeois-democratic program, turned to defensism on the Allied side in the war and abandoned defense of the USSR, which he no longer considered a workers state. Before his death in 1942 Ch’en Tu-hsiu broke all ties with the Fourth International.

Broué never once distinguishes between workers militias, petty-bourgeois guerrilla formations (such as that of Tito whose seizure of power created a deformed workers state) and guerrilla formations under the discipline of a bourgeois general staff, as in the case of the French Resistance. This permits him to generalize from the Greek example, which followed a completely different trajectory from that of France or Italy. Despite popular-frontist capitulation, the Stalinist-controlled guerrilla army was headed toward an inevitable confrontation with the British-backed monarchy after the withdrawal of the Nazi occupation forces. This would have posed, as in Yugoslavia, the possibility of a deformed workers state if the Stalinists had won. Of course, Broué is not interested in this aspect of the question (the Lambertist tendency, to which he belongs, took 20 years to discover that Cuba was, in fact, not capitalist).

Broué cites a 1943 document from the fragmented Greek Trotskyist movement which warns, “The Anglo-Americans will come to hand state power back to the bourgeoisie. The exploited will only have traded one yoke for another.” Hundreds of Greek Trotskyists were murdered by the Stalinists for telling the truth about the designs of the imperialist Allies. Yet for Broué:

“If this was indeed as it was, it is clear that the Greek Trotskyists, by contenting themselves with negative prophecies and not enrolling in the mass movement, would have condemned themselves to death.”

This shows clearly enough where Broué wants to go, which is not at all where Trotsky, whatever the faults of his PMP, wanted to go.

Consideration of these questions among the comrades of the IEC provoked a discussion of the national question and in what sense it was posed in fully formed, bourgeois industrial nations overrun by a particularly savage imperialist conqueror like the Nazis. The question that interested our cadres very specifically was “what is to be done” by a Marxist propaganda group, an organic part of the proletariat, in the face of cataclysms like WWII when, at least initially, the winds of chauvinism blow strongly against us. As one comrade noted:

“There’s a very big difference between being a propaganda group and a mass party. Very big indeed. If you are a mass party you not only must fight but you can fight and you can win. In major agitational struggles. If you’re a few dozen or a few hundred people, you’d better hold your cadres....

“The Bolsheviks were not, after 1905, a little propaganda group. They were a contending party for power. And because you can read their manifestos it does not make you the equal of them. They had the bulk of the industrial proletariat of their country.”

The sobriety of the discussion derived from the fact that the tactics and strategy being debated were factors of life and death to our comrades 45 years ago. A French comrade said:

“The party was destroyed. There were a few people who remained during that long period—because it was very long, you know, five years in those kinds of circumstances is very long. A lot of people were killed, destroyed. A lot of people were not prepared at all for these kinds of issues. A lot of people wavered.”

Trotskyist Heritage
It is very difficult to draw a balance sheet, but some acts we embrace as part of our heritage. One of the most well-known and heroic attempts at revolutionary defeatist fraternization was the distribution by a French Trotskyist cell in Brest of the paper Arbeiter und Soldat. This operation was aimed at German naval personnel, the children of communist and socialist workers. The American SWP lost merchant marine comrades who had been on the dangerous supply run to Murmansk. And on the West Coast of the United States, American dockers and seamen tossed cigarette packs containing Trotsky’s “Letter to Russian Workers” in Russian onto Soviet freighters that came in from Vladivostok. Before Togliatti retook control of the Italian CP in 1943, American Trotskyist seamen were acclaimed by CP crowds in Naples, then in the throes of a mass uprising against the Nazis. At the IEC meeting, a comrade from Italy explained:

“So you have this completely paradoxical situation where the most important resistance group in the left in the city of Rome was a semi-Trotskyist grouping.... Mussolini had come too early [for the CP base to have been thoroughly Stalinized]—in Rome you would have CP members going around and writing on the walls “Long Live Lenin! Long Live Trotsky! Long Live Stalin!” There was no sense that there had been a split.... [The group] Red Flag had the majority of the working-class elements in the resistance and they were an eclectic group, but they didn’t have cadre, they didn’t have a clear program, so that could be taken over by the CP at one point.”

And we stand on the work of the Vietnamese Trotskyists. As one comrade put it:

“They [the Vietnamese Trotskyists] knew what to do. They waited until 1945 in Saigon and Hanoi. That was the time to move...when the British and then later also the French army came in. And we were killed for that. But not to be killed stupidly by Stalinist assassins in Greece [1943-1944] and in Spain in 1937 and ’38. And I think that Trotsky became overwhelmed by the horrors of Nazi totalitarianism and, without a qualitative capitulation to victory or defense between the interimperialist powers, he wanted an overly forward policy which would have and in fact did destroy our cadres in the hands of Michel Pablo.”

The IEC meeting voted to re-endorse the 1934 document “War and the Fourth International.”

We are a tendency which is very much preoccupied by the question of continuity with our revolutionary forebears. And we do understand that if the successive American sections—Cannon’s revolutionary SWP and now the Spartacist League/U.S.—have had to make an enormous contribution to the reconstruction of the continuity of the international communist movement, one of the reasons is that more than a hundred senior European and Asian cadres were killed in the period from 1937-1946 at the hands of the fascists and the Stalinists

Thursday, December 09, 2010

*A December 16th Veterans-Led March In Washington To Stop The Wars In Afghanistan And Iraq -From The "Stop These Wars" Website-All Out In Support Of The Vets

Click on the headline to link to the End These Wars Website.

Markin comment:

On November 11, 2010, Veterans Day, I marched with a contingent of Veterans For Peace in the Boston Veterans Day parade and posted an entry in this space about my take on the event. (See, A Stroll In The Park On Veterans Day- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Iraq and Afghanistan!, dated November 11, 2010). As part of that commentary I noted the following:

“Listen, I have been to many marches and demonstrations for democratic, progressive, socialist and communist causes in my long political life. However, of all those events none, by far, has been more satisfying that to march alongside my fellow ex-soldiers who have “switched” over to the other side and are now part of the struggle against war, the hard, hard struggle against the permanent war machine that this imperial system has embarked upon. From as far back as in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) days I have always felt that ex-soldiers (hell, active soldiers too, if you can get them) have had just a little bit more “street cred” on the war issue than the professors, pacifists and little old ladies in tennis sneakers who have traditionally led the anti-war movements. Maybe those brothers (and in my generation it was mainly only brothers) and now sisters may not quite pose the questions of war and peace the way I do, or the way that I would like them to do, but they are kindred spirits.”

Now comes word (see announcement below) that veterans are leading an action in Washington, D.C. on December 16, 2010 in front of the White House under the rubric of Peace On Earth. There is no question that I, the anti-imperialist committee that I am a member of in Boston, any self-respecting radical or, hell, any self-respecting little old lady in tennis sneakers for that matter, could endorse this thing. If for no other reason that it begs, literally begs, Warmonger-In-Chief Obama (of the double troop escalations in Afghanistan with nobody holding a gun to his head remember) to “do the right thing.”

That said, the sentiment expressed above in that Veterans Day commentary still holds true. So, I , and all I can gather to go with me, will be in Washington on December 16th. too. I will hold my nose in doing so although not my tongue trying to get my fellow vets to change course. In my hand I will hold this slogan-Obama-Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Iraq and Afghanistan! And I won’t be begging him about it, no way.

WELCOME TO STOP THESE WARS Join Us For Peace on Earth!

Posted on November 19, 2010 by admin

During the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King called our government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” True then—and even more so today.

A few years before that, in 1964 Mario Savio made his great speech at Berkeley; at the end he says, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

There are children being orphaned, maimed or killed every day, in our name, with our tax dollars; there are soldiers and civilians dying or being maimed for life, in order to generate profits for the most odious imperialistic corporate war machine ever, again in our name. How long are we going to let this go on? Until it is too late, until this destructive machine destroys all of us and the planet to boot?

Wikileaks has revealed the documented horror of U.S. war-making, beyond what any of us imagined. It’s time veterans and others express our resistance directly and powerfully by putting ourselves on the line, once again—honestly, courageously and without one drop of apology for doing so. It is not we who are the murderers, torturers or pillagers of the earth.

Profit and power-hungry warmongers are destroying everything we hold dear and sacred.

In the early thirties, WW1 vets descended on Washington, D.C., to demand their promised bonuses, it being the depths of the Depression. General Douglas MacArthur and his sidekick Dwight Eisenhower disregarded President Herbert Hoover’s order and burned their encampment down and drove the vets out of town at bayonet point.

We are today’s bonus marchers, and we’re coming to claim our bonus–PEACE.

Join activist veterans marching in solidarity to the White House, refusing to move, demanding the end of U.S. wars, which includes U.S. support—financial and tactical—for the Israeli war machine as well.

If we can gather enough courageous souls, nonviolently refusing to leave the White House, willing to be dragged away and arrested if necessary, we will send a message that will be seen worldwide. “End these wars – now!” We will carry forward a flame of resistance to the war machine that will not diminish as we effectively begin to place ourselves, as Mario Savio said, “upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus.” and we will make it stop.

We believe that the power of courageous, committed people is greater than that of corporate warmongers. But we will only see our power when we use it collectively, when we stand together.

With courage, persistence, boldness and numbers, we can eventually make this monstrous war machine grind to a halt, so that our children and all children everywhere can grow up in a peaceful world.

Join us at the White House on December 16th!

For a world in peace,

Nic Abramson, Veterans For Peace; Elliott Adams, Past President, Veterans For Peace; Laurie Arbeiter, Activist Response Team; Ken Ashe, Veterans For Peace; Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace; Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition; Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder, CODEPINK for Peace; Frida Berrigan, War Resisters League; Bruce Berry, Veterans For Peace; Leah Bolger, Veterans For Peace; Elaine Brower, Anti-war Military Mom and World Can’t Wait; Scott Camil, Veterans For Peace; Ross Caputi, Justice For Fallujah Project; Kim Carlyle, Veterans For Peace; Armen Chakerian, Coalition to Stop the $30 Billion to Israel; Matthis Chiroux, Iraq War Resister Veteran; Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace; Will Covert, Veterans For Peace; Dave Culver, Veterans For Peace; Matt Daloisio, Witness Against Torture; Ellen Davidson, War Resisters League; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans For Peace; Nate Goldshlag, Veterans For Peace; Clare Hanrahan, War Crimes Times; Mike Hearington, Veterans For Peace; Mark Johnson, Executive Director. Fellowship of Reconciliation; Tarak Kauff begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, Veterans For Peace; Kathy Kelly, Voices For Creative Nonviolence; Sandy Kelson, Veterans For Peace; Joel Kovel, Veterans For Peace; Erik Lobo, Veterans For Peace; Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Committee; Ken Mayers, Veterans For Peace; Nancy Munger, Co-President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Fred Nagel, Veterans For Peace; Pat O’Brien, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Bill Perry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Vito Piccininno, Veterans For Peace; Mike Prysner, Co-Founder, March Forward; Ward Reilly, Veterans For Peace; Laura Roskos, Co-President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Cindy Sheehan, Founder, Peace of the Action; David Swanson, author; Debra Sweet, National Director, World Can’t Wait; Mike Tork, Veterans For Peace; Hart Viges, Iraq Veterans Against the War; Father Louie Vitale, SOA Watch; Jay Wenk, Veterans For Peace; Linda Wiener, Veterans For Peace; Diane Wilson, Veterans For Peace; Col. Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace; Doug Zachary, Veterans For Peace

Posted in Uncategorized
Leave a comment

Endorsers of the December 16 Veteran-Led Civil Resistance against War

Posted on November 19, 2010 by admin

■Veterans For Peace



■Fellowship of Reconciliation

■March Forward

■Peace of the Action

■Peace Action Montgomery

■United National Anti-War Committee

■Voices for Creative Non-Violence

■Voters for Peace

■War Resisters League

■Washington Peace Center

■Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

■World Can’t Wait

Posted in Endorsers
Leave a comment

Veterans Speak Out on December 16 Action

Posted on November 13, 2010 by admin

Fred Nagel

“Those who know the full extent of America’s imperial reach have a unique obligation to let their fellow citizens know what is being done in all of our names. But it is more than an obligation for veterans, since many of us have served in America’s invasions and occupations abroad. Perhaps it is also a privilege, another chance to express our love for this country, this time putting their bodies on the line to demand that America once again join the peace loving nations of this world.”—Fred Nagel, radio host and member, Veterans For Peace

Jay Wenk

“I listened today to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech given at New York’s Riverside Church in 1967, “Why I Oppose the Vietnam War.” If any of us don’t know it, make it a point to hear it. His truth is timeless. When I hear it, I feel as deeply as possible, the necessity and the responsibility to be a Veteran For Peace. My conscience, my refusal to let the world change me are in the forefront of my existence. I will be with my brothers and sisters on Dec. 16.”—Jay Wenk, member, Veterans For Peace

Leah Bolger

“I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name.”—Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), 1980-2000; National Vice-President, Veterans For Peace

“‘….to protect and defend the Constitution…’ I took that oath as a sailor, and later as a police officer. I don’t consider that oath to have an expiration date because I believe in accountability, justice and peace. Where I come from, we say: ‘You don’t have to stand tall, but you’ve GOT to stand up.’ Stand up December 16, 2010, at the White House.”—Erik Lobo, member, Veterans For Peace

“War for empire, endless and cruel war, resulting in untold suffering, destruction and death for millions, a war economy here at home that steals from ordinary citizens and makes the few enormously wealthy, these are powerful reasons for us to put our bodies on the wheels, the levers, the apparatus of this vile war-making machine and demand that it stop. Enough is enough. There is no glory, no heroism, no good wars, no justification whatsoever, it is all, all of it, based on lies. I’ll be in Washington on December 16 with other veterans, resisting this war mentality, demanding its end.—Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace

*From The Pen Of Vladimir Lenin- On The Struggle Against Imperialist War-"The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War" (1914)

Markin comment:

In the strategic fight against imperialist war Lenin is always a place to look for support. In this case support for my anti-Afghan War entry posted earlier today.

V. I. Lenin
The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War[1]

Written: Written not later than August 24 (September 6), 1914
Published: The introduction The Russian Social-Democrats on the European War is published for the first time. The theses (resolution) were first published in full in 1929 in the second and third editions of the works of V. I. Lenin, Volume 18. The introduction is published according to the manuscript; the theses (resolution) according to a copy made by N. K. Krupskaya.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 15-19.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Other Formats: Text • README

Reports have reached us from most reliable sources, regarding a conference recently held by leaders of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, on the question of the European war. The conference was not of a wholly official nature, since the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. has as yet been unable to gather, as a result of the numerous arrests and unprecedented persecution by the tsarist government. We do, however, have precise information that the conference gave expression to views held by the most influential circles of the R.S.D.L.P.

The conference adopted the following resolution, whose full text we are quoting below as a document:

Resolution Of A Group Of Social-Democrats
1.The European and world war has the clearly defined character of a bourgeois, imperialist and dynastic war. A struggle for markets and for freedom to loot foreign countries, a striving to suppress the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and democracy in the individual countries, a desire to deceive, disunite, and slaughter the proletarians of all countries by setting the wage slaves of one nation against those of another so as to benefit the bourgeoisie—these are the only real content and significance of the war.

2.The conduct of the leaders of the German Social-Democratic Party, the strongest and the most influential in the Second International (1889-1914), a party which has voted for war credits and repeated the bourgeois-chauvinist phrases of the Prussian Junkers and the bourgeoisie, is sheer betrayal of socialism. Under no circumstances can the conduct of the leaders of the German Social-Democratic Party be condoned, even if we assume that the party was absolutely weak and had temporarily to bow to the will of the bourgeois majority of the nation. This party has in fact adopted a national-liberal policy.

3.The conduct of the Belgian and French Social-Democratic party leaders, who have betrayed socialism by entering bourgeois governments,[2] is just as reprehensible.

4.The betrayal of socialism by most leaders of the Second International (1889-1914) signifies the ideological and political bankruptcy of the International. This collapse has been mainly caused by the actual prevalence in it of petty-bourgeois opportunism, the bourgeois nature and the danger of which have long been indicated by the finest representatives of the revolutionary proletariat of all countries. The opportunists had long been preparing to wreck the Second International by denying the socialist revolution and substituting bourgeois reformism in its stead, by rejecting the class struggle with its inevitable conversion at certain moments into civil war, and by preaching class collaboration; by preaching bourgeois chauvinism under the guise of patriotism and the defence of the fatherland, and ignoring or rejecting the fundamental truth of socialism, long ago set forth in the Communist Manifesto, that the workingmen have no country; by confining themselves, in the struggle against militarism, to a sentimental philistine point of view, instead of recognising the need for a revolutionary war by the proletarians of all countries, against the bourgeoisie of all countries; by making a fetish of the necessary utilisation of bourgeois parliamentarianism and bourgeois legality, and forgetting that illegal forms of organisation and agitation are imperative at times of crises. One of the organs of international opportunism, Sozialistische Monatshefte,[3] which has long taken a national liberal stand, is very properly celebrating its victory over European socialism. The so-called Centre of the German and other Social-Democratic parties has in actual fact faint heartedly capitulated to the opportunists. It must be the task of the future International resolutely and irrevocably to rid itself of this bourgeois trend in socialism.

5.With reference to the bourgeois and chauvinist sophisms being used by the bourgeois parties and the governments of the two chief rival nations of the Continent—the German and the French—to fool the masses most effectively, and being copied by both the overt and covert socialist opportunists, who are slavishly following in the wake of the bourgeoisie, one must particularly note and brand the following:

When the German bourgeois refer to the defence of the fatherland and to the struggle against tsarism, and insist on the freedom of cultural and national development, they are lying, because it has always been the policy of Prussian Junkerdom, headed by Wilhelm II, and the big bourgeoisie of Germany, to defend the tsarist monarchy; whatever the outcome of the war, they are sure to try to bolster it. They are lying because, in actual fact, the Austrian bourgeoisie have launched a robber campaign against Serbia, and the German bourgeoisie are oppressing Danes, Poles, and Frenchmen (in Alsace-Lorraine); they are waging a war of aggression against Belgium and France so as to loot the richer and freer countries; they have organised an offensive at a moment which seemed best for the use of the latest improvements in military matériel, and on the eve of the introduction of the so-called big military programme in Russia.

Similarly, when the French bourgeois refer to the defence of the fatherland, etc., they are lying, because in actual fact they are defending countries that are backward in capitalist technology and are developing more slowly, and because they spend thousands of millions to hire Russian tsarism’s Black-Hundred[4] gangs for a war of aggression, i.e., the looting of Austrian and German lands.

Neither of the two belligerent groups of nations is second to the other in cruelty and atrocities in warfare.

6.It is the first and foremost task of Russian Social-Democrats to wage a ruthless and all-out struggle against Great-Russian and tsarist-monarchist chauvinism, and against the sophisms used by the Russian liberals, Cadets,[5] a section of the Narodniks, and other bourgeois parties, in defence of that chauvinism. From the viewpoint of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia, the defeat of the tsarist monarchy and its army, which oppress Poland, the Ukraine, and many other peoples of Russia, and foment hatred among the peoples so as to increase Great-Russian oppression of the other nationalities, and consolidate the reactionary and barbarous government of the tsar’s monarchy, would be the lesser evil by far.

7.The following must now be the slogans of Social-Democracy:

First, all-embracing propaganda, involving the army and the theatre of hostilities as well, for the socialist revolution and the need to use weapons, not against their brothers, the wage slaves in other countries, but against the reactionary and bourgeois governments and parties of all countries; the urgent necessity of organising illegal nuclei and groups in the armies of all nations, to conduct such propaganda. in all languages; a merciless struggle against the chauvinism and “patriotism” of the philistines and bourgeoisie of all countries without exception. In the struggle against the leaders of the present International, who have betrayed socialism, it is imperative to appeal to the revolutionary consciousness of the working masses, who bear the entire burden of the war and are in most cases hostile to opportunism and chauvinism.

Secondly, as an immediate slogan, propaganda for republics in (Germany, Poland, Russia, and other countries, and for the transforming of all the separate states of Europe into a republican United States of Europe.[6]

Thirdly and particularly, a struggle against the tsarist monarchy and Great-Russian, Pan-Slavist chauvinism, and advocacy of a revolution in Russia, as well as of the liberation of and self-determination for nationalities oppressed by Russia, coupled with the immediate slogans of a democratic republic, the confiscation of the landed estates, and an eight-hour working day.

A group of Social-Democrats, members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party

[1] These theses on the war were drawn up by Lenin not later than August 24 (September 6), 1914 after he had come to Berne from Poronin (Galicia). They were discussed at a meeting of the Bolshevik group in Berne on August 24-26 (September 6-8). Approved by the group, the theses were circulated among Bolshevik groups abroad. To throw the police off the scent, the copy of the theses made out by N. K. Krupskaya, carried the inscription: “Copy of the manifesto issued in Denmark. ”

The theses were smuggled into Russia for discussion by the Russian section of the Central Committee, Party organisations and the Bolshevik Duma group.

Through Swiss Social-Democrats the theses were submitted to the conference of the Swiss and Italian Socialists held in Lugano on September 27, 1914. Many of the ideas contained in the theses were incorporated in the conference’s resolution.

On learning of the approval of the theses in Russia, Lenin used them as a basis for writing the manifesto of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee “The War and Russian Social-Democracy ”(see this volume, pp. 25-34).

The introduction to the theses (“The Russian Social-Democrats on the European War”, which was written on a separate sheet) was discovered only later, and was first published in the 4th Russian edition of Lenin’s Collected Works.

[2] Among those who joined the bourgeois government of Belgium was Vandervelde, and in France Jules Guesde, Marcel Sembat and Albert Thomas.

[3] Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly )—the principal organ of the German opportunists, and one of the organs of international opportunism. It was published in Berlin from 1897 to 1933. During the First World War it took a social-chauvinist stand.

[4] The Black Hundreds—monarchist gangs formed by the tsarist police to fight the revolutionary movement. They murdered revolutionaries, assaulted progressive intellectuals and organised pogroms.

[5] Cadets—members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the leading party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie in Russia. Founded in 1905, the party represented the bourgeoisie, Zemstvo landowner leaders and bourgeois intellectuals. Prominent among its members were Milyukov, Muromtsev, Maklakov, Shingaryov, Struve, and Rodichev.

The Cadets were active in Russia’s war preparations. They stood solidly behind the tsarist government’s predatory designs, hoping to batten on war contracts, strengthen the bourgeoisie’s positions, and suppress the revolutionary movement in the country.

With the outbreak of the war the Cadets advanced the slogan of “War to the victorious end! ”When, in 1915, the tsarist forces suffered a defeat at the front, which led to the aggravation of the revolutionary crisis, the Cadet members of the State Duma, headed by Milyukov, and the other representatives of the bourgeoisie and the landowners formed a “Progressist ”bloc aimed at checking the revolution, preserving the monarchy and bringing the war to a “victorious end”. The Cadets actively helped to set up war-industries committees.

[6] See Lenin’s articles “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” and “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe. Editorial Comment by Sotsial-Demokrat on the Manifesto on War Issued by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.” (see this volume, pp. 339-43, 344).