Build the Subjective Forces of the International Socialist Revolution!
Onwards to Socialism!
The dawn of revolutionary Marxist thought has permanently changed the course of world history and civilization’s trajectory. Marx’s critique of the capitalist mode of production has been the most extensive exposition of its internal contradictions which holds true even in today’s society. In fact, the Nostradamusian way that Marx has predicted the effects of capitalism in the world today only lends more credence to the science of the dialectical materialist process that he used in critiquing capitalism’s political economy. The booms and busts of the market, its frequent recessions, reliance on the war economy and the general tendency of the rate of profit to fall has been seen and evident throughout the twentieth century. Market crashes has been a global habit on a per decade basis, the latest of which is the 2008 real estate economic recession triggered by the Americans. The Americans are also responsible for the permanent state of proxy wars in recent decades – to feed the insatiable appetite for profit of the global military-industrial apparatus. There is little doubt as to the permanent persistence of the fabric of the objective conditions in the global scale – only tempered by the ebbs and flows of the revolutionary situation.
The twentieth century has also been witness to the rise and fall of the eastern bloc and the unabashed dominance of capitalist political economy and hegemonic imperialism by the west. Communist states have fallen one by one, the most notable (and heartbreaking) of which is the collapse of the USSR, which has been at the center of the global communist struggle against capitalism since the 1917 Bolshevik October Revolution. This unfortunate event culminated on December 1991, but were actually gradual and carefully planned attacks with the use of market pressures, economic and trade wars, western interventionism and propaganda and cultural attrition spearheaded by capitalist decadence – the most fatal of them all. With USSR in shambles, smaller communist states have never become more vulnerable to western imperialism – and true enough, those communist states who have kept ideological purity were forced to isolationism or have succumbed to market forces and counterrevolution. At any perspective you look at it, it seems that capitalism has won over communism.
But of course, all hope is not lost. The correctness of the science of Marxism and its dialectical materialist process holds true even (and most especially) during the time of revolutionary ebb. The Leninist science of the tactics and strategy of the revolution has never been more important in times of capitalist exploitative domination over the overwhelming majority of the oppressed classes. Our class – the working class of the world – has never been more susceptible to communist ideas and education – to propaganda and agitation. The dawn of the twenty first century will see the birth of a global communist movement of the new millennia, suitable to the material conditions of the increasingly interconnected world of today. The global character of capital also
calls for a global communist movement. Internationalism is an imperative, not a choice. There is much more work to be done. The flickering fire of communism must be reignited and burst into flames – and from the ashes of the old must arise the new phoenix of world communist revolution.
II. The Ashes of the Old: Past Communist Internationals
The world has seen the rise of Communist Internationals in the starting in the nineteenth and twentieth century. This, of course, was not unopposed by the western bloc of capitalist countries led by the United States of America, the Great Britain and other western European countries. A global ideological battle ensued, claiming under its belt two world wars, a cold war and other significantly smaller war of aggressions and attritions.
1. The First International1: The International Workingmen’s Association (1864 – 1876)
The very first leftist international organization on record. The most prominent and notable members of the First International are Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Mikhail Bakunin and other followers of the French Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Mostly consisting of European Communists and Anarchists, the First International met its demise during the Marx-Bakunin schism (collectivism vs communism) of 1876, called by many as the “Black (anarchists) and Red (communists) divide”. Otto von Bismarck remarked, upon hearing of the split at the First International:
“Crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the Black and Red unite!”
The IWA2 still exist as of today, re-established by Anarcho-Syndicalists on 1922.
2. The Second International3: The Original Socialist International (1889 – 1916)
The Second International was organized by the communist faction of the First International. Many of its notable members and contributors include Vladimir Lenin, Grigory Zinoviev, Leon Trotsky and other Russian Bolsheviks, Georgi Pekhanov and Pavel Axelrod of the Mensheviks, German communists Eduard Bernstein, August Bebel and Karl Kautsky, Spartacists Franz Mehring,
Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin, and French Paul Lafargue and his wife Laura Marx. It is credited for the declaration of “May Day” as the international worker’s day and the establishment of the global worker’s union Industrial Workers of the World4 (IWW) founded by Americans
Eugene Debbs and Daniel De Leon in Chicago, Illinois in 1905, which is still existing as of today. The Second International broke up after the Zimmerwald (Switzerland) Conference, due to its inability to form a unified opposition to World War I. Lenin led the Zimmerwald Left faction (anti-war) in the 1915 Congress of the Second International, which was also the foundation for the creation of the Third International.
Meanwhile, the powerful Italian Communist Party (PCI) formed the International Communist Party (ICP, and later called the Sinistra), but which later joined the Second Congress of the Third International. Notable members of the ICP are the “Left-Communists” famously dissed by Lenin, Amadeo Bordiga and Onorato Damen, as well as L’Ordaine Nuovo’s Antonio Gramsci.
3. The Two and a Half International: The International Working Union of Socialist Parties and the Labor and Socialist International5. (1923 – 1940)
Supporters of World War I among the Second International initially tried to revive it on 1920, but was later merged with the International Working Union of Socialist Parties to form the Labor and Socialist International – the father of Social Democratic Parties. Notable members were those alienated by Lenin’s Zimmerwald Left, including Karl Kautsky, Eduard Bernstein, Friedrich Adler, Pavel Axelrod and Rudolf Hilderfing. Arthur Henderson of the British Labour Party was its first chairman of the Executive Committee.
The LSI dissolved in 1940 after rejecting the united front offer of the Comintern against Nazi Germany.
4. The Third International: The Communist International6 (COMINTERN). (1919-1943)
The 1917 Russian Revolution and Lenin’s Bolshevik Party founded the COMINTERN in Moscow in 1919, following the ideological split from the Second International. The violent uprising in Russia shook the world and presented a viable alternative to power other than the parliamentary road. The experience of the Paris Commune has led the Bolshevik Russian Government to conclude that an International Revolutionary Group is imperative to prevent military imperialist forces from crushing it. Lenin also wrote twenty-one conditions7 for membership in the COMINTERN, which was adopted by the Second World Congress in 1920. During Lenin’s leadership, the COMINTERN adopted the principle of world revolution encapsulated in the maxim “struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state”. However, after Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin’s leadership shifted the COMINTERN to prioritize “socialism in one country”, and changed Lenin’s formulation to “An internationalist is one who is ready to defend the USSR without reservation, without wavering, unconditionally; for the USSR it is the base of the world revolutionary movement, and this revolutionary movement cannot be defended and promoted without defending the USSR”.
After Lenin’s demise, the COMINTERN became the center of the Stalin-Trotsky rivalry, which later resulted in Trotsky’s expulsion from all of the COMINTERN’s organs.
The COMINTERN innovated the use of “communist fronts”, “popular fronts” and “united fronts” during the chairmanship of Zinoviev – although the effective leadership after 1924 is Stalin. Stalin instituted radical reforms, including the Great Purge carried out by the secretive NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), where 133 out of 492 COMINTERN staff members became victims, including Stalin’s arch-enemy Leon Trotsky in 1940. After World War II in 1943, Stalin dissolved the COMINTERN to appease his allies Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
III. The Negation of Communist Internationalism: Socialism in One Country
The era of world reconstruction of post-World War II era has witnessed a massive decline in communist international activity. As the United Nations exerted its dominance in the international sphere, post-World War II communist states like the USSR, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos and Cuba were forced into isolation. Although Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Bukharin theorized “Socialism in one country” in 1924 after the defeat of several proletarian revolutions in countries like Germany and Hungary, it was not until 1943 that Stalin would formally dissolve the COMINTERN. This, together with the Fourth International’s collapse in 1953, led to a negation of the international communist movement and the rise of isolationism.
Between 1944 and 1948, there were working class or anti-imperialist uprisings in Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Burma, China, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Korea, Malaya, Palestine, Poland, Rumania, Syria, Thailand, Vietnam and Yugoslavia. The Chinese Revolution (1949), Korean Revolution (1949), Cuban Revolution (1959), Laotian Revolution (1975), Vietnamese Revolution (1976) and Nicaragua (1979) produced “island” communist states, with little direct and constant contact with each other. The Sino-Soviet split11 of 1954 – 1966 also aggravated the worsening communist international situation.
This slump in communist internationalism signaled the unhampered domination of capitalism and imperialism. By the turn of the century, capitalism had already outgrown the confines of nation states. Large corporations spanning across many industries, integrated and controlled by finance capital, spanned across the entire world. These corporations carved up markets, sources of raw material and cheap labor. The redivision of the world market, based upon the supremacy of the United States opened the way for a more extensive penetration of imperialism into new markets away from the declining colonial powers. This extension was facilitated by world-wide financial and political instruments of unprecedented magnitude. The post-war boom stimulated under these arrangements temporarily laid aside the paralysis into which capitalism had fallen in the 1930s. The Bretton Woods arrangements12, the booming US economy, the Marshall Plan13, the Nixon Shock14 the post-war reconstruction and the splurge of public sector investment made to pacify the working class all contributed to a development of the productive forces in a world market and a world-wide division of labor that far transcended anything that was previously conceivable under capitalism. The policies of unlimited expansion of credit which was used to finance the post-war reconstruction had lit a time bomb for capitalism however. The whole basis of the international monetary system was undermined. The US also sowed the seeds for the loss of its hegemony, and the growth of powerful competitors in Europe and Asia. The price for postponing a confrontation with the working class would be paid twenty years later, when the link between the dollar and gold burst under the pressure of the unlimited expansion of credit allowed over the preceding two decades. Nevertheless, the post-war monetary policies were absolutely necessary for capitalism to survive this most dangerous period15. Economic recessions and the booms and busts of the capitalist market were seen on 1974–75, 1980–83, 1990–93, 1998, 2001–02, and the most recent 2008–09 also known as the Great Recession16.
IV. The Flickering Fire: The Rebirth of Left Internationalism
As the global trauma of the World War II subsided and the normalization of human activity plateaued, a fairly “silent” period of restructuring and rebuilding of communist and left internationals was reignited. Unlike its predecessors, the new batch of left internationals have splintered into numerous factions and schisms, and are very difficult to follow and trace.
1. Centrist Democratic International17
The CDI is the global international political group dedicated to the promotion of Christian democracy, which was founded in Chile on 1961. The Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) are members of this International, and Edcel Lagman of Lakas-CMD is one of the many Vice Presidents thereof.
2. Socialist International18 and Progressive Alliance19
The Two and a Half International’s collapse in 1940 due to Nazism was rebuilt in 1951 in Frankfurt Germany and was called Socialist International. The SI was active in the Cold War, by talking to both American and Soviet leaders Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev. On 2013, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) broke up with SI and created the Progressive Alliance, out of criticism of the perceived corrupt, undemocratic and outmoded nature of the SI. Akbayan Citizens Action Party is a member of the Socialist International, and later of the Progressive Alliance.
4. International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties21
After the fall of the USSR in 1991, the remaining Marxist-Leninist Parties formed the IMCWP in 1998, which was initiated by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) to share their experiences and issue a joint declaration. It is a yearly event, the most recent of which is the November 2017 Moscow Summit commemorating 100 years of the October Bolshevik Revolution.
In December 2009, the communist and workers parties agreed to the creation of the International Communist Review22, the official publication of the IMCWP. The Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas – 1930 (PKP1930) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) attended intermittently, sometimes only giving messages of solidarity.
5. Remnants of the Fourth International
The Trotskyist International has produced the most number of currently active international formations in the world today and was produced by successive schisms from four major Trotskyist Internationals after its failed reunification in 1963. Of the organizations listed, three claims to be the original Fourth International founded in 1938: the reunified Fourth International, the Fourth International (ICR), and the ICFI.
a) Committee for a Workers’ International24 (CWI)
Formed in 1974, the CWI was attended by supporters of the Militant Tendency. It first advocated Trotsky’s entryism tactics but was later renounced in 1990 – much to the demise of a considerable number of its members and eventually led to a major split.
Most of the CWI’s international sections are called Socialist Alternative.
b) United Secretariat of the Fourth International25 (USFI) Originally formed as a group within the Fourth International against the views of Michel Pablo, who successfully argued for the FI to adapt to the growth of the social democratic and communist parties.
This eventually led to a split in the FI in 1953 – USFI and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). The USFI and ICFI tried to reunify on 1963 but was unsuccessful. Ernest Mandel was elected in the leadership of the USFI, who drafted the resolution called “Dynamics of the World Revolution Today”, which argued that “three main forces of world revolution—the colonial revolution, the political revolution in the degenerated and deformed workers’ states, and the proletarian revolution in the imperialist countries—form a dialectical unity. Each force influences the others and receives in return powerful impulses or brakes on its own development. Gerry Healy’s British section of the SWP, Pierre Lambert’s Internationalist Communist Party (PCI) in France and the Socialist Labour League (SLL) in Britain split from Mandel’s USFI, and officialized the ICFI in 1963. J. Posadas and M. Pablo and their group also did not attend the 1963 reunification and instead built their own internationals, though Pabloists eventually rejoined in 1995. In the 1979 Congress, it was agreed that the sections should execute a “turn to industry”.
In 1990 and 1986, respectively, the Socialist Workers Party (US) and SWP (Aus) split with the USFI and rejected Trotskyism and his theory of Permanent Revolution. Thereafter, the 1991 USFI World Congress approved the programmatic manifesto “Socialism or barbarism on the eve of the 21st century”. During the 2003 World Congress, the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa – Mindanao26 joined the USFI. The latest 2010 World Congress focused on climate change and “ecosocialism”, which are ideas closely attributed to anarchists Murray Bookchin and Peter Kropotkin. Interestingly, “Juan Manggagawa” has an article27 in its website, known to be the pen name of Partido Manggagawa’s Benjamin Velasco.
c) International Committee of the Fourth International28 (ICFI)
During the 1953 reunification efforts, the ISFI and the leadership of SWP (eventually known as USFI) revised the basic Trotskyist principle that on ly a conscious Marxist leadership can ensure a successful socialist revolution. Instead they argued that “unconscious Trotskyists” would come to power in colonized countries as well as within the Stalinist bureaucracies. It was no longer necessary to build a mass Trotskyist party. Anyone who opposed these conceptions was silenced or expelled, breaking with the basic Leninist principle of inner-party democracy. This prompted Gerry Healy’s British section of the SWP, Pierre Lambert’s Internationalist Communist Party (PCI) in France and the Socialist Labour League (SLL) in Britain to form the ICFI in 1963. On 1966, the ICFI would expel all of those who support the James Robertsons’ Spartacist Tendency29, which would later form the International Spartacist Tendency30, later called the International Communist League.
The PCI was later renamed to Organisation Communiste Internationaliste (OCI), which broke off the ICFI in 1971 to form the Organising Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI). As of 2006, only two active ICFIs survives, one led by David North of what was then known as the Workers’ League in the United States and the Revolutionary Workers Party (RWP) of Britain. New organizations joining the ICFI are named “Socialist Equality Party” and publishes the website called World Socialist Web Site31.
d) Fourth International (ICR)
In 1971, Pierre Lambert’s OCI briefly coalesced with Nahuel Moreno’s (Argentina) tendency to form the Organising Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI), but later split up on 1980. Thereafter, Lambert’s faction organized the Fourth International – International Centre of Reconstruction (ICR). Moreno, on the other hand, created the International Workers League (IWL)32. The ICR convened on 1993 with 44 Sections around the world and readopted the Transitional Programme of Trotsky. Today, members of the ICR simply refer to themselves as the (Lambertist) Fourth International.
e) International Marxist Tendency33 (IMT)
Ted Grant, a pioneer of the Militant Tendency and its publication of the same name, split with the CWI in 1990 and founded the International Marxist Tendency with Allan Woods. Grant and Woods consider themselves as Orthodox Trotskyists, emphasizing the education of cadres of workers and youth. The IMT manifesto makes demands such as “the end to privatisation and the abandonment of market economics”, “the nationalisation of privatised companies without compensation” and “the reintroduction of the state monopoly of foreign trade”. Some claimed that Alan Woods of the IMT was the “principal ideological adviser and personal friend” of Chávez, a claim played down by Woods.
f) International Socialist Tendency34 (IST)
The IST is an organizationally-loose international founded by Tony Cliff, founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of Britain. The organizations affiliated to the IST refer to themselves as Unorthodox Trotskyists and differs from other formations on the question of the Soviet Union, where the IST adopts the position that it was a “state capitalist” economy, rather than a “degenerated workers’ state”, along with their theories of the “permanent arms economy” and “deflected permanent revolution”. The IST sees the often referred to “socialist” countries, such as the former Eastern Bloc states, China, Vietnam,
North Korea and Cuba as an inverse of classical Marxism, arguing they are “Stalinist” in nature.
g) League for the Fifth International35
L5I was founded as the Movement for a Revolutionary Communist International. Its first member groups were Workers’ Power in Britain, the Irish Workers Group, Pouvoir Ouvrier in France, and Gruppe Arbeitermacht (GAM) in Germany. After a congress in 1989 the organisation adopted a common programme, the Trotskyist Manifesto, and a democratic centralist constitution, under which each national section agreed to be bound by the decisions of the international organisation as a whole.
h) Pathfinder Tendency36
Also calls themselves the Communist League, the Pathfinder Tendency is a group of historically Trotskyist organizations which cooperate politically and organizationally with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States and support its solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban Communist Party. Its members operate Pathfinder Bookstores37 which sell the products of the SWP’s publishing arm, Pathfinder Press. The current is also known as the International Communist League, although this term is not widely used, and can cause confusion with other organizations of the same name.
The Communist Leagues, even those in non-English speaking countries, sell the publication of the SWP, The Militant38. The Youth sections of the Pathfinder Tendency are increasingly active in the World Federation of Democratic Youth, which the CPP’s Anakbayan is affiliated.
i) Other lesser-known Trotskyist Internationals:
Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International (CRFI)
International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT)
Internationalist Communist Union (ICU)
International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International (IWU-FI)
League for the Fourth International (LFI)
Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)
Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International (TF-FI)
Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International (WIRFI)
6. International League of People’s Struggle39
The ILPS is the International of those subscribing to the Maoist tradition. It is created by its current chairman Jose Maria Sison in 2001 in his exile haven, the Netherlands. and boasts 218 mass organizations under its belt.
Although Filipino in origin and with a Filipino Chairman, it is noteworthy that the website of the ILPS does not have a Filipino translation40.
7. E2D International (E2D)
Electronic Direct Democracy (E2D) International’s program is described as Direct Democracy – a form of democracy in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. The mission for E2D International is: “to help establish, to support and promote, and to maintain communication and co-operation between politically-neutral electronic direct democracy parties around the world” and has 11 international sections worldwide. It consists of left-wing parties organized online and has no physical headquarters. Ironically, it has no centralized website, but instead its members have individual websites that it maintains.
8. International Communist Current41 (ICC)
The ICC was founded by Marc Chirik, one of the founders of the Palestinian Communist Party at the age of 13 and an expelled member of the powerful French Communist Party (PCF). It is considered as the heir to the Left-communist tradition. In its founding Congress in 1975, Chirik was successful to invite Onorato Damen into the ICC – a leading figure in left communism.
The “Basic Positions” published on the back of every ICC publication define the organisation’s activity as follows: (1) Political and theoretical clarification of the goals and methods of the proletarian struggle, of its historic and its immediate conditions; (2) Organised intervention, united and centralised on an international scale, in order to contribute to the process which leads to the revolutionary action of the proletariat; and (3) The regroupment of revolutionaries with the aim of constituting a real world communist party, which is indispensable to the working class for the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of a communist society.” Its website contains a Tagalog translation and articles by Filipino left-communists.
9. International Communist Tendency42 (ICT)
Affiliates of the ICT are mostly of the Italian Left Tradition tracing its roots to Amadeo Bordiga, and was founded in 1983 as a result of a joint initiative by the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista) in Italy and the Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) in Britain. Its political concepts include: Acceptance of the October Revolution as proletarian; Recognition of the break with Social Democracy brought about by the first two Congresses of the Third International; Rejection without reservation of
state capitalism and self-management; Rejection of the so-called Socialist and so-called Communist Parties as bourgeois; Rejection of all policies which subjects the proletariat to the national bourgeoisie; An orientation towards the organisation of revolutionaries recognising Marxist doctrine and methodology as proletarian science; Recognition of international meetings as part of the work of debate among revolutionary groups for coordination of their active political intervention towards the class in its struggle, with the aim of contributing to the process leading to the International Party of the Proletariat, the indispensable political organ for the political guidance of the revolutionary class movement and the proletarian power itself.
10. International Communist Party43 (ICP)
The International Communist Party (ICP) is a left communist international political party which is often described by outside observers as Bordigist, due to the contributions by longtime member Amadeo Bordiga. The strongest base of the ICP remains Italy, where it was founded, but the Party also has sections in other countries. Antonio Gramsci was also a member of the ICP and took its leadership from the Sinistra (left-communists), allegedly with the help and manipulation of Stalin. Bordiga and his Sinistra were then expelled on the charge of Trotskyism – by defending Trotsky and criticizing Stalin’s USSR. There has been many tendencies inside the ICP, one of which is called “n+1”44.
11. International of Anarchist Federations (IFA)
Founded on 1968 in Carrara, Italy. The principles of work within IFA are that of federalism, free arrangement and Mutual Aid, and as states in their preamble of their principles, the IAF fights for (1) the abolition of all forms of authority whether economic, political, social, religious, cultural or sexual; and (2) the construction of a free society, without classes or States or frontiers, founded on anarchist federalism and mutual aid. The IAF is committed to Direct Action, struggle from below, anti-parliamentarism, and opposition to reformism, on both a theoretical and a practical level.
12. International Workers Association46 (IWA)
Or the Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores (AIT) is the ideological continuation of the First International’s Anarchist faction. It is an international federation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions and initiatives.
The IWA programme promotes a form of non-hierarchical unionism which seeks to unite workers to fight for economic and political advances towards the final aim of libertarian communism and its goals have been described as “to carry on the day-to-day revolutionary struggle for the economic, social and intellectual advancement of the working class within the limits of present-day society, and to educate the masses so that they will be ready to independently manage the processes of production and distribution when the time comes to take possession of all the elements of social life.
The IWA explicitly rejects centralism, political parties, parliamentarism and statism, including the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as offering the means to carry out such change, drawing heavily on anarchist critiques written both before and after the Russian revolution, most famously Mikhail Bakunin’s suggestion that: “If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.”
13. International Union of Anarchists47 (IUA)
IUA was founded at a conference on 21 November 2011, attended by representatives from Ukraine, Israel, Germany, Latvia, and Russia. They agreed on a memorandum of association and cooperation, which was the basis upon which later programming, structure, and basic rules of activity were established.
V. The Dawn of a New Century: The Present International Situation
a) Opening up of economies to the world market
The turn of the new century has also witnessed the “opening up” of the former isolationist states. China’s Deng Xiaoping architected “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which led to the “opening up” of China to the global market in 1979. Deng also brokered the return of Hongkong by the British in 1997, and of Macau by Portugal in 1999, promising both countries that China will respect the economic systems and civil liberties of the islands for fifty (50) years.
The return of these two territories was based on political principle formulated by Deng himself called “one country, two systems”, which refers to the co-existence under one political authority areas with different economic systems of communism and capitalism.
The states with ruling communist parties which took China’s side in the Sino-Soviet split also opened up gradually, with most communist parties maintaining government control throughout the process. Corollary, USSR-backed states with ruling communist parties were also “forced” to open up due to 1991 collapse of the Soviet superpower. The last bastions of isolationism – Cuba and North Korea – can also be seen in recent years to be in the process of opening up their respective economies, with Cuba set to amend its Constitution to allow private property ownership48, and North Korea also giving the same impression of economic opening49 with its improved relations50 with its Southern brothers.
b) The Colour Revolutions
Revolutionary Marxism has seen a sharp decline over the past decades. The world has seen its last successful communist revolution in the Sandinista Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979 and the Burkina Faso 1984 coup de etat. This paved the way for US interventionist revolutions, interestingly called the Colour Revolutions, and largely seen as pro-democracy but anti-communist revolutions. The Colour Revolutions are notable for the important role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and student activist groups.
c) Occupy Movement: We are the 99%
The Great Recession of 2008 and the Arab Spring of 2011 has inspired a series of seemingly spontaneous demonstrations around the world, which started with Occupy Wall Street in New York City. Unlike the Colour Revolutions’ focus on standing governments, the Occupy Movement’s primary target is how large corporations (and the global financial system) control the world in a way that disproportionately benefited an elite minority. Its battlecry is “we are the 99%”, reflecting the movement’s roots in the general frustration with society’s inequalities.
Mostly described as an anti-capitalist movement, the demands of Occupy protesters, though largely unorganized, include passing of Robin Hood51 tax measures, better jobs, more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and a reduction of the influence of corporations on politics. The decentralized anarchist hacking group Anonymous52 also joined the calls for Occupy protest actions.
Almost all of the Occupy demonstrations were organized and coordinated on online sites such as Facebook, IRC, Twitter, Meetup and Reddit, and done with a commitment to non-violent methods such as camping and picketing, or just simply occupying public and private spaces. Many credit the Occupy Movement for the catapulting of the politics of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, and 31 countries has seen demonstrations attributable to it.
However, following lawsuits and government crackdown with violence and arrests, the Occupy Movement vanished around 2015.
d) Proxy Wars: The Syrian War
The strategic geographical and geopolitical location of Syria has thrown it at the center of the lion’s den of a global proxy war by the United States, Russia and other European and Middle Eastern countries. International organizations have accused the Syrian government, ISIL, opposition rebel groups, and the U.S.-led coalition of severe human rights violations and of massacres. The conflict has also caused a major refugee crisis in the Eurozone. Interests and supports have been thrown at all directions and efforts to pinpoint binary relations as to who is good and evil in the political mudpuddle that is the Syrian Proxy War remains futile. But what should be the correct Marxist approach to analyzing the Syrian War?
For a Marxist analysis, facts must be parsed from the opinionated bias of both mainstream and internet media sources, due to the scarcity of first hand accounts. From what can be gathered, the Syrian War started as part of the 2011 Arab Spring53 and a continuation of the formerly-mentioned Colour Revolutions. The difference and peculiarity of the Syrian War is that it is in the middle of a major geopolitical crossroad, intersecting both the national interests between the United States/Saudi Arabia and Russian/Iranian giants.
To understand the nuances of the region, we must trace back its history, dating back to the Ottoman and Persian Empires. When the Sunni Islamic Caliphate of the Ottoman collapsed during World War I, it reorganized into smaller kingdoms, the largest of which includes its former capital Istanbul (Constantinople) in Turkey, the al-Saud’s Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, former French colonies Syria and Lebanon and former British protectorates of Palestine, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Iran, on the other hand, traces its lineage to the powerful Shia Muslim Persian55 Empire. The First Persian Empire was the only civilization in all of history to connect over 40% of the global population, accounting for approximately 49.4 million of the world’s 112.4 million people in around 480 BC56. Modern-day Eastern Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia were former territories of Iran, but lost them in the Russo-Persian War in the 19th century.
While Saudi Arabia remained a Muslim monarchy, the Iranians overthrew the 2,500-year monarchy, the last of which was headed by US-installed Shah Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, in the populist-nationalist 1979 Islamic revolution led by Imam Ayatollah Khomeini. Soon thereafter, Ayatollah commenced massive exportation of the revolution57 in the Middle East, which pitted it against the al-Sauds58. Ayatollah’s words reverberated throughout the Muslim world when he said:
“I hope that Iran will become a model for all the meek and Muslim nations in the world and that this century will become the century for smashing great idols. . . O meek of the world, rise and rescue yourselves from the talons of nefarious oppressors; O zealous Muslims in various countries of the world, wake from your sleep of neglect and liberate Islam and the Islamic countries from the clutches of the colonialist and those subservient to them.”
Before the turn of the 21st century, Tehran has sparked revolutions in neighboring Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, and in Iraq. In response, Riyadh forged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with the help of Washington as a counter-revolutionary force. Baghdad’s defeat in the Iraqi-Iranian war of the 90’s invited stronger US Military intervention, which culminated in the United States invading Iraq in the mid 2000’s. In Yemen, Iran supported the Houthi rebels against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, and also supports the Lebanon-based Hezbollah – considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
The tables are reversed in Syria, where Iran is in support of al-Assad’s regime, and Saudi and the United States are supporting the opposition Free Syrian Army. When demonstrations erupted in Syria due to the Arab Spring, the United States saw this as an opportunity to establish dominance over the region and strategically position its military arsenal in close proximity to Russia and at the heart of the Middle East and Europe. Russia, on the other hand, has existing military installations and bases in Syria, such as the Russian naval facility in Tartus60, Khmeimim Air Base61 and the joint Russia-Syria intelligence spy post called Center S62.
Assad’s (Alawite, but supported by Syrian Shias) violent dispersals63 of the peaceful protests prompted the defection of some in the Syrian military, which formed the Free Syrian Army. Meanwhile, the Kurds inhabiting northern Syria saw the turmoil as an opportunity to finally secede and declare autonomy from Syria.
Saudi Arabia funneled the much-needed funds for the Opposition through its allies Erdogan of Turkey (Sunni) and King Abdullah II of Jordan (Sunni), while Iran continuously sends provisions and military, including Hezbollah, to support the Assad regime. In 2014, a splinter group of Al Qaeda named itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
joined the Syrian war, wanting to establish a caliphate in Northern Syria and Iraq – which pitted it directly against the Kurdish secessionists and diverted Barack Obama’s United States attention from Assad to them. Turkey in turn saw an opportunity and occupied the Kurdish territory – which is its neighboring border.
After Donald Trump’s election, the United States withdrew from Syria, which prompted Russian-backed Assad to attack the Opposition’s stronghold in northern Aleppo and again allegedly use chemical weapons against his own citizens. This brutal sarin attack64 gave reason for Donald Trump to bomb Assad’s regime with tomahawk missiles in 2017 which targeted Syria’s airbases.
Russia and Syria, however, denied using chemical weapons and blamed the White Hats for simulated attacks to manufacture contempt against the Assad regime65. Russia declared ISIL eradicated from Syria by the end of 201766, a report which the United States disputed.
Meanwhile, the Kurds67 declared successive independence from Syria’s Rojava68 in 2014 and Iraq’s Kurdistan69 in 2017. Turkey continued its offensives against the Kurds’ independence and occupied the Kurdish-majority Afrin territory in early 2018, fearing the independence Aleppo, Syria YPJ Kurdish fighters movement will move into Turkish-Kurd territories. Iran’s silence in the Kurdish independence movement could also be traced from its fear of Kurdish apprising in its own territory. Israel also joined the fray, occupying the Syrian Golan Heights, allegedly to prevent ISIL occupation70.
The intricate web of attrition and aggression, and the conflicting perspectives of media reports blur class lines. Foreign governments playing the imperialist game have ganged together against the Syrian working class. The correct Marxist line would therefore be that the war on Syria is a war against working class interests. The governments of the United States, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and allothers are committing crimes against the helpless Syrian working class and should be condemned for their atrocities. The industrial-military apparatus of the imperialist powers and large government contractors are the only ones who will profit from all this destruction, to the detriment of the working class people.
If any, the Kurdish independence movement is the only real “side” that Marxists should take in all of these. For centuries, the Kurdish people have been denied statehood, and were actually broken up among four states – Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran – even though their land mass is contiguous to one another. The Kurdish people’s right to self-determination should be respected by all stakeholders – and Marxists and communists all over the world should echo their solidarity with the Kurds and working class people all over the Middle East.
e) Proxy wars: The South China Sea conflict
The other geopolitical arena in the world today is right outside our borders – the South China Sea conflict. If the Syrian war is a proxy war between the United States and Russia, the South China sea conflict is a brewing showdown between the United States and China – and the Philippines is at the heart of it all.
Again, for us to appreciate the nuances of the conflict, we must go back to the history of the South China Sea and the events that transpired, parse facts from opinions, and formulate a Marxist analysis in the conflict. The South China sea is the body of water bordering Vietnam, China, The Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. It is one of the busiest areas of international sea navigation and trade, with three times the volume of trade than that on the Suez Canal and five times as that of the Panama Canal. It also holds 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Reed Bank71.
For centuries starting 1000 B.C., the South China sea was known as the Champa Sea72, named after the Kingdom of Champa of Vietnam. China’s claim73 on the Spratly Islands however emerged only around 200 B.C. Chinese fisherfolk of the Wu, Shu and Wei Kingdoms74, the Jin Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Sui Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and up to the Manchu Dynasty calls it the Osean Sea. However, in 1596, the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines declared the Spratly islands as included in its territorial colony, and in 1870 by the British Naval Captain James George Meads and named it the Kingdom of Humanity7576. During the American-Spanish war, the Spratly Islands was not included in the 1898 Treaty of Paris77. The French also laid claims in South China Sea during its occupation of Vietnam in World War I, before being returned to China by General Charles de Gaulle in 1946.
During World War II, Japan occupied the Philippines, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, but were also subsequently surrendered to China78 after its defeat. It was in 1947 that China drew its South China Sea map and outlined its territory with eleven (11) lines79, which was subsequently redeclared by the Mao Tse Tung’s communist government as the now infamous nine-dash line in 1958. The Americans reminded the Philippines at its independence in 1946 that the Spratlys was not Philippine territory, both to not anger Chiang Kai-shek in China and because the Spratlys were not part of the Philippines per the 1898 treaty Spain signed with America80. This claim was also declared by the communist government of North Vietnam as valid in 1954.
The Philippines first laid its claim in the disputed islands around 1956, when Filipino Tomas Cloma declared the Spratlys as “Kalayaan Group of Islands” – a declaration reiterated by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 and covered by Presidential Decree No. 1596 in 1978. It was only in 1984 that the Philippines ratified the 1982 the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)81. China, on the other hand ratified the UNCLOS in 1996, with an express provision that does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a) (b) and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention. The United States is not a signatory to the UNCLOS.
As a former American commonwealth, the world’s governments know that the United States did not loosen its grip over the Philippines, even after World War II. The United States has been exercising a cultural hegemony over the Filipinos for decades – a more sinister form of imperialism – reflected by our heavy inclination over western culture, traditions and products. Political and economic decisions are often heavily influenced, most of the times directly, by the United States government. All of those who sat in the Malacanang either have the blessing of the United States government or co-opted after winning the popular elections. Our top military officials have also been lured and traditionally carry the US line. Every year, the top 20 cadets of the Philippine Military Academy are invited and lured by scholarships from West Point – the United States’ leading military academy. Treaties like the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) continue to tighten the United States’ noose around the Philippine military’s neck. For all intents and purposes, the Philippines remains to be under the United States’ disposal – only broken by Rodrigo Duterte’s blitzkrieg foreign relations policy, but was quickly returned to a “normalcy” in relations.
The United States’ noose around the whole Philippines government’s neck bared its spikes during the Ramos’ administration’s challenge to China’s sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal in 199782, by the Estrada administration’s brazen move to run aground BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal near Palawan83, and recently when it commandeered Nonoy Aquino’s administration to file a case against its rival China in the Arbitral Tribunal on the Law of the Sea under Annex VII of the UNCLOS which the Philippines won in 201684, and the Duterte administration’s re-enactment of running aground BRP Gregorio Del Pilar in Hasa Hasa Shoal in 201885. The GMA and Duterte administrations both chose bilateral negotiations with China regarding the disputed islands86.
The South China Sea conflict, therefore, is a conflict betweenbourgeois states battling for two reasons: international supremacy87 and natural resources88 – the crisscrossing of political economy over geopolitical supremacy. As the vying states are capitalist, including the Philippines, what should be the correct Marxist line? Obviously, the correct Marxist line should be working-class inclusive, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the United States’ penultimate goal is to push its imperialist agenda and to prevent China’s emergence as its hegemonic rival. The United States is pulling all its strings to block precious natural resources – including petroleum – from falling into Chinese hands. With Duterte’s and Trump’s rise to power, the United States’ governments agenda has been significantly pushed back, a situation which China quickly grabbed. In a span of two (2) years, China has built massive military and civil infrastructure, and conducted numerous explorations over the South China Sea. It is almost impossible to imagine a situation where Chinese dominance over the region will be uprooted without a military solution – a solution which puts the interests of the Filipino working class in certain jeopardy. As such, all Marxists should voice out their opposition to any military aggression in the region by the United States, which could push the tensions into a full-blown war like the one in Syria. A peaceful and lasting solution should also be supported for the Muslim secessionist issue in Mindanao, to prevent the radicalization of Muslim fanatics and be used as imperialist pawns like the ISIS/ISIL situation in the Middle East. A nationalist position on the SCS issue, as the one espoused by some self-proclaimed Marxists, would be costly for the Filipino working class. Such nationalist stance reeks out of a myopic analysis of the international situation.
f) The fall of liberalism and the rise of populism
Since the end of the last world war and the fall of the USSR, capitalism has dominated the world. The long period of liberalism has conceded reforms for the working class in the form of labor unions, increased wages and Scandinavian Keynesian states. As the world elite was also forced to concede feudal autocracy due to the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th and 20th century, they have manufactured liberal democracy’s promise of inclusive governance through the voting process to quell the rage of the masses against the old world order. As Lenin correctly formulated in 1917:
“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them in parliament.”
This century-old adage still strikingly holds true to present-day world politics. The working class, the backbone of capitalism and all modern states, is perpetually exploited over and over again, grinded between the mills of inflation and taxation, which culminated before the turn of the 21st century in a backward manner. Concessions to the working class were taken back. Unionism sharply fell to the attacks of global capitalism. The weekend and the 8-hour workday has been reappropriated by the ruling elite. The voting process, and liberal democracy itself, has been stripped bare of its capitalist corruption and control.
Therefore, the recent rise in the allure of “populism” is merely the symptom of a much deeper and sinister diagnosis – the farcical logic and moral poverty of the capitalist system. This is important to point out, especially when talking about populism. Populism has been defined as the quality of appealing to the woes of the “ordinary people”.
We see populism as the fraudulent use of vote-seeking candidates of populist rhetoric which are deemed impossible to implement. Such top-down perspective is predicated upon the impossibility of populist stances, of the interests of the ordinary people and the working class, in implementing reforms considered as radical in today’s society. Radicalism, then, is equated to impossibilism. This definition is devoid of any sense to the working class. The considered “populist” and “radical” reforms by most of the elite are common sense to the working class. It is common sense to eradicate contractualization to the workers because they do not need third-party agencies to be exploited of work. It is common sense to raise minimum wages into a uniform living wage to the workers because a decent life is imperative for everyone. It is common sense to demand lower prices of commodities because the working class needs to feed his family out from the measly wages he receives. It is common sense to demand free education because ignorance is detrimental to civilization. It is common sense to demand universal health care because everyone has the right to live. It is common sense to demand a more equal distribution of wealth in the face of global inequality. These are not impossible demands – these are the demands of the people, the working class of the world. Such demands are only made impossible because of capitalism.
All hitherto politicians have promised the voters populist platforms – the point however, is to make good of these promises. The rise of global populist leaders is the cry of disappointment and desperation of the working class against the capitalist system. Indeed, for the working class, the term “populism” is empty and hollow.
From Donald Trump in the United States, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Alexis Tsipras of Greece, Marine Le Pen and Francois Hollande of France, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and our local Rodrigo Duterte, liberal apologists, the modern demagogues, have been scrambling to condemn the recent tide of populism, the erosion of liberal values, and attack on liberal institutions.
They are suffering from a seemingly collective myopia, blaming populism’s rise to the voters89 instead to the contradictions of the capitalist system. They characterize the recent phenomenon only as a setback and preach about the need to return to the old ways of liberalism – a return to “normalcy”.
Contrary to the Marcosian “revolution from the center”, the world is witnessing a collapse of the same center – a center where liberalism has nowhere to return to. This political center, represented by the United States’ Democrats and Republicans, the United Kingdom’s Tories and Labour, by the Philippines’ Liberal Party and Nacionalistas, and the overall gamut of worldwide Liberals and Conservatives both stood for the maintenance, proliferation and survival of capitalism and its overlords. The self-proclaimed “socialist” reformers – Duterte, Hollande, Tsipras, Maduro – have shed all pretensions and promises of reformism and made a total u-turn by enacting policies90 favoring the capitalist market. They harp at the bark of neo-liberalism, failing to realize that it is merely a tree in the forest of capitalism – trying to uproot the corrupted tree to prevent it from spreading throughout the forest which they view as inviolable. The tree must be cut; the forest must be burned down. The ashes of the forest will be used as fertilizer for the rise a new ecosystem – the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism!
VI. The Final Negation: Red Phoenix Rising
“Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.”
-Rosa Luxemburg, Junius Pamphlet91, 1916
Modern psychology has proven that human consciousness is resistant to change – an evolutionary psyche developed for survivability of the human species. From our daily experiences, we develop habits, routines, traditions, and ultimately culture. The idea of change is frightening because it is an unknown development. This fear helps maintain the current status quo. However, the precarious global situation of today permits us neither the luxury of complacency, nor liberal complicity.
Every Marxist will tell us that the only constant thing in the world is change. True enough, extraneous circumstances have gradually forced the consciousness of the working class to change. Today’s generation is a generation drowning in student debts, higher taxes, mismatched growth of inflation and wages, precarious working conditions, massive unemployment and overall degradation of quality of life. The recent 2008 global recession has irreversibly worsened the situation by its massive bailouts to the richest of the rich. Despite the populace subsidizing the rich, the internet age has given us a peek at the perverse decadence of the global elite, and a bird’s eye view of the massive wealth inequality of today’s society, with the top 42 richest people holding more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population92, even with liberal media bias. The world cannot survive another financial crisis93 – and we all know the imperialists’ solution to maintain its grip to power and maintaining the status quo: war.
The advent of nuclear weapons makes World War III all the more terrifying. The principle of mutually-assured destruction (MAD) has so far prevented this from happening for seven decades, but for how long can logic and rationality hold the thin thread of certain extinction? Today, it is not socialism or barbarism; but socialism or extinction!
Therefore, the imperative of our international situation calls for the prevention of war at all costs. But how? What are the prospects of the working class? What is to be done?
“The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business – kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime.”
-Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution94, 1930.
As Trotsky correctly observed, all revolutions start with the direct participation of the masses into politics – by taking into their own hands their own destinies. These are the objective conditions of the revolution and the revolutionary flow. The question hounds: is the current situation a signal for a revolutionary flow? The quick answer is a resounding YES.
This phenomenon can be seen directly in the Arab Spring and Colour Revolutions which sparked protests around the world against governments, as well as in the Occupy Movement against finance capitalists and oligarchies. Indirectly, through the rise of rightist and leftist populism. The recalcitrant living conditions has polarized the rich against the poor, which also catapulted the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn in the immediate periphery of power in the heart of capitalist imperialism. The future holds the answer whether they make good of their rhetoric and usher in systemic change to the world if elected. In the Philippine context, more work is to be done in arousing class-conscious forces and capturing and propagating the correct communist-populist line by the mainstream forces. One thing is sure though, systemic change requires radical changes in the state machinery. As Marx put it:
But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.
-Karl Marx, The Civil War in France95, 1871
To be truly representative of working class interests, the capitalist state, its institutions and machineries must be smashed, and a worker’s state must be established as the dictatorship of the proletariat – such is the lesson of the Paris Commune. Only then can the workers state begin its withering away in the transition to socialism.
But what about the subjective conditions? In order to capture and act upon the flow of the revolutionary situation, there must exist a form of organization of the most revolutionary class – the proletarian class – to lead all the oppressed classes and its allies to that decisive battle and victory. The proletarian vanguard must be ready and able to seize political power at the opportune time, and actually take crucial steps in ushering and hastening the eventual forthcoming of this decisive battle – through the continuous, heightened and arduous exercise of the oppressed classes of their political rights, akin to the Bolsheviks instigating general strikes among the Soviets. Such is no easy task and easier said than done. The effectiveness of the political actions requires strength – and the oppressed classes’ only innate strength is in our superior numbers. It is therefore imperative for the proletarian vanguard to focus on preparing and amassing this strength by educating, organizing and mobilizing the bulk of the oppressed classes. Lenin and the Bolshevik’s experience has led them to conclude:
History as a whole, and the history of revolutions in particular, is always richer in content, more varied, more multiform, more lively and ingenious than is imagined by even the best parties, the most class-conscious vanguards of the most advanced classes. This can readily be understood, because even the finest of vanguards express the class-consciousness, will, passion and imagination of tens of thousands, whereas at moments of great upsurge and the exertion of all human capacities, revolutions are made by the class-consciousness, will, passion and imagination of tens of millions, spurred on by a most acute struggle of classes. Two very important practical conclusions follow from this: first, that in order to accomplish its task the revolutionary class must be able to master all forms or aspects of social activity without exception (completing after the capture of political power—sometimes at great risk and with very great danger—what it did not complete before the capture of power); second, that the revolutionary class must be prepared for the most rapid and brusque replacement of one form by another.
– Vladimir Lenin, Left-wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder96, 1920
The Bolsheviks have not always numbered in the tens of thousands. In December 1903 there were only 360 members of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in St. Petersburg (supporters of both Bolshevism and Menshevism), and by the beginning of 1905 it was less than 300. However, the outbreak of the 1905 Revolution gave an impetus to party growth. Thus, in its Report to the Third Congress of 1905, the St. Petersburg Committee claimed a total Bolshevik membership of 737. By January 1907, the Bolsheviks had 2,105 members, and the Mensheviks 2,156 – a total of 4,261. In Moscow, the numbers attached to the Social Democratic Party rose from 300 in November 1904, to 8,000 in September 1905 – a 25-fold increase in less than a year97. By January 1917, the Bolsheviks numbered in the 24,000, and 240,000 by August of the same year – a ten-fold increase98 – which they owed to Lenin’s correct communist line formulation of “Peace, Bread, Land”. The slogan succinctly articulated the grievances of the Russian peasantry, armed forces and proletariat. The Decree of Peace is not exactly because of the class-war formulation of the CPP, but to pander to the Russian military’s exhaustion from the on-going World War I. The Decree of Bread is the representation of the proletariat’s exploitation leading to the absurdity of food scarcity amidst the growing wealth of the Russian bourgeoisie. The Decree of Land is an affirmation of the feudal remnants of Russian Tsarism present in the Russian countryside. But make no mistake, the Bolsheviks have realized that 1917 Russia is dominated by the capitalist mode of production, even though the proletariat consists of a numerical minority during that time. The Bolsheviks’ precision in determining the dominant mode of production in the uneven and combined development of Russian society, and its recognition of its feudal remnants, is a dialectical-materialist feat reflective of their deep grasp of Marxist philosophy.
“If socialism is not victorious, peace between the capitalist States will be only a truce, an interlude, a time of preparation for a fresh slaughter of the peoples. Peace and bread are the basic demands of the workers and the exploited. The war has made these demands extremely urgent. The war has brought hunger to the most civilised countries, to those most culturally developed. On the other hand, the war, as a tremendous historical process, has accelerated social development to an unheard-of degree. Capitalism had developed into imperialism, i.e., into monopoly capitalism, and under the influence of the war it has become state monopoly capitalism. We have now reached the stage of world economy that is the immediate stepping stone to socialism.”
– Vladimir Lenin, For Bread and Peace99, 1917
It is therefore evident that party building and building the subjective forces of the revolution can quickly accelerate in a matter of months or even days when there is a revolutionary situation. Our tactics, must therefore also evolve and adapt to be able to ride this revolutionary wave. The seasoned “surfer” learns how to surf from his revolutionary praxis, and his surf board is the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism.
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
-Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte100, 1852
Of course, Marxists should throw away any delusions of socialism in one country – the tragedy of Stalinism. To repeat this dreadful past is to not learn from it. If any, Marxists should, first and foremost, be students of history. It is therefore obligatory for any Marxist to count on a world revolution when the revolutionary situation exist101. Even more so when the character of capitalism itself has reached the pinnacle of global exploitation.
Take for instance the common smart phone. That tiny device no more than 6 inches at the palm of your hands contains 75 out of 118 known elements to man102 which is mined globally. Almost all the world’s leading manufacturers also have global supply and value chains, such as Nike, Apple, Uniqlo, Samsung, IBM, Toyota etc. Finance capital is no different. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank facilitates the global movement of finance capital, being able to virtually invest and pull resources in any country at will.
Socialism, therefore, should also have a global character. The flickering lights of existing communist internationals discussed in this paper are nothing but lesser shadows of the once vibrant internationals. It is also the responsibility of Marxists to rebuild communist internationalism and win the world socialist revolution – the alternative is unfathomably unacceptable. We do not have the luxury of choice but to fight for our species!
100 years after Lenin and Trotsky, the world is again entering a phase where qualitative societal change is imperative to adapt to the changing needs of humanity. History will again flap its flaming wings to devour and incinerate the obsolete. Those who fail to heed the call will be burnt in the ashes of obscurantism. And from these ashes shall rise the Red Phoenix of the Socialist Revolution!
BUILD THE SUBJECTIVE FORCES OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!
ONWARDS TO SOCIALISM!
September 24, 2018
For RPMP 5th Congress