IV. The leadership we have and the leadership we need


The bourgeoisie, whose economic basis is shaken by the decline of capitalism, rolls over the working class and oppressed peoples with a wave of austerity packages, tax increases, interest squeezing and the plundering of raw materials. At the same time for the past decade it undertakes a wave of military adventures under the pretext of "war on terror", which in reality only serves the expansion of geopolitical influence and colonial plunder of the Great powers.

The masses have responded with fierce resistance. Millions took to the streets against the Iraq war as shown by the fact that alone on 15th February 2003 15-20 million people marched around the globe. No summit of the powerful could take place without massive counter-mobilisations. In the new historical period the world, class struggle took on new dimensions. The Arab Revolution swept away several dictators and shook an entire region. In Greece, the working class went on a general strike more than a dozen times in the years 2010/11 alone. In London and other cities in August 2011 more than 30,000 young people, blacks and immigrants fought for five days on the streets against the British police. Millions of workers took part in general strike in India, South Africa, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In countless cities around the world activists occupy public places to demand real democracy and social justice.

But governments still adopt draconian – i.e. massive – austerity packages one after the other. The capitalists still put millions of workers on the dole and cut wages. The banks still plunder the working masses and oppressed peoples. And the Great powers still wage wars.

So why has our resistance not met success? Obviously it does not fail because of a lack of militancy of the masses. The problem is rather that no revolutionary party stands at the forefront of the traditional organisations and the new movement. Instead, they are led by forces that are unable or unwilling to break with the bourgeois order.

The labour movement is controlled by reformist bureaucracies who sell and betray the struggle of the masses with their policies. The traditional parties of the "Socialist International" are usually completely bureaucratised, bourgeois workers' parties. (In this so-called "Socialist International" there are also many open bourgeois parties in semi-colonial countries which represent the interests of sectors of the capitalist class). These bourgeois workers' parties still rely on a sector of the working class as a social base and have - mostly through the trade unions - organised links to these. But the social democratic bureaucracy is connected through countless posts and privileges with the bourgeois state and constantly strives for capitalist government offices. If they are allowed by the bourgeoisie, they are only too willing to push through as a government party the most brutal austerity measures against the working class (e.g. PSOE in Spain, in Portugal, PS, PASOK in Greece). If they are in opposition, they seek to curb the resistance and steer them along safe paths. Social Democracy is a counter-revolutionary instrument, a henchman of the bourgeoisie within the ranks of the labour movement. Their existence is nourished by the lack of a revolutionary party that can offer an alternative to the masses.

Likewise, the trade union bureaucracy – regardless of whether they are officially affiliated with a party or if they are formally independent – is at best a reluctant and braking force on the resistance against the attacks of the ruling class because of its close connections with the state and capital. Of course the bureaucracy does not bite the hand that feeds them. Therefore, it has no own interest to initiate serious class struggle. Rather it seeks to exploit struggles of workers to improve their bargaining position with the state and capital and to control them for this purpose.

The Stalinist and ex-Stalinist parties may be different from their social-democratic twins in their rhetoric, but not in respect to the fundamental nature of their politics and nature as bourgeois workers' parties. They have proved in the past that they are ready to assume joint responsibility for the capitalist policies of attack against the toiling masses and imperialist wars and if necessary to enforce them with the help of the police. This has been proven by the decades-long ruling CPI (M) in West Bengal (India), the SACP in South Africa which is operating within the ANC, as we can see the same evidence in the case of the PCF’s involvement in the French Jospin government (1997-2002), the Rifondazione Comunista‘s in Italy's Prodi government, the Left Party/PDS’s in the Berlin state government or the KKE’s in the coalition government with ND and PASOK in 1990-91.

In many semi-colonial countries bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalist and populist forces have a leading influence in resistance movements. The oppression and exploitation of these countries by imperialism and its local stooges often generate a broad opposition among the masses and catapult such parties sometimes into positions where they are at the forefront of this resistance. Islamist movements such as the Afghan Taliban, Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Palestinian Hamas are examples of this, as are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Against the backdrop of fierce class struggles, it also happens that these parties – contrary to their original intentions – are forced to nationalise imperialist corporations and domestic private companies. (See for example the Bolivarian movements of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or the governments of Bolivia and Ecuador).

But once in power these petty-bourgeois movements degenerate into (state) capitalist parties of the ruling class, which suppresses and excludes the working class and peasantry from political decision making. The career of many former resistance movements demonstrates this irrefutably. (See e.g. the FLN in Algeria, ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, the FMLN and the Sandinistas in Central America, the Ba'ath party and numerous other military coup in the Arab world etc.) The reason for this is that petty bourgeois movement – when they come to power – by its very nature become and must become defenders of the bourgeois civil order.

A dangerous development in the recent past is the open or semi-open support for the imperialist power China by (petty-) bourgeois forces who describe themselves as socialist. (E.g. a number of the Stalinist parties, Chavez and the Bolivarian movement) The working class has not the slightest interest to support a fraction of monopoly capital (e.g. China and its allies) against another (e.g. USA). The support of sections of reformism to the emerging Great power China is nothing more than "social imperialism" – that is an imperialistic policy disguised with social or even "socialist" phrases.

In the democratic protest movements in the Western World petty-bourgeois forces exercise with reformist, pacifist and populist ideas a central influence too. It is the nature of the petty bourgeoisie to prefer the taming of capitalism instead to its destruction. Their ideas on the regulation of all-powerful banks and corporations by capitalist laws and parliaments, the naive doctrine of pacifism and the principle of consensus in decision making, etc. are expressions of the leading influence of representatives of the liberal middle class and intelligentsia (the layer of the so-called "intellectuals") and the political inexperience of the movements.

With that come the illusions, nourished by many left-reformists and centrists, about the possibility of profound social change through a Constituent Assembly, or the illusions of the introduction of a "participatory democracy" under capitalism, by which supposedly the people could have a say (PT in Brazil, the WSF / ESF), or the idea of reform and control of the bourgeois state apparatus through council-democratic institutions. History has exposed these petty-bourgeois theories of an "institutionalised dual power" and of "radical democratisation" without a dictatorship of the proletariat as dangerous daydreaming. They have only misled the proletariat and thus merely hindered and weakened it in its liberation struggle.

The various versions of centrism are usually radical in words, but in practice they are incapable and unwilling to build a real alternative to the petty-bourgeois leadership. Its programmes and its practices reflect, in one form or another, bourgeois prejudices and adaptation to the labour bureaucracy (trade union leaders, reformists, etc.). Centrism ultimately represents a bourgeois influence in the labour movement which through its fluctuations and shrinking back in front of a consistent path of class struggle ultimately betrays the proletariat. Examples of this include:

* The utopian, reality ignoring, theory of peaceful transition to socialism.

* The lie that the democratic revolution can be completed without a socialist revolution, and that these two revolutions can be divided into separate stages.

* The ridiculous hope of the possibility of reforming the petty bourgeois and bourgeois forces such as the trade union bureaucracy, social democratic or bourgeois-populist parties into consistent socialist forces. This means the hope of being able to make them consistent fighters for the liberation - which is as "realistic" as transforming a tiger into a vegetarian.

* The opportunistic (adapting to non-revolutionary forces) tailist theory that the "objective process" would free revolutionaries from the responsibility of leadership. In particular the responsibility to outline the necessary steps of struggle in agitation and propaganda and to advocate openly the need for replacement of the existing leaderships by a revolutionary alternative. For example, for the replacement of the social democratic traitor parties by Bolshevik mass parties.

Therefore, centrism fails in crucial situations where the pressure of the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy is strongest and the necessity of open revolutionary struggle against them is most urgent. To mention only a few recent examples: The failure of the French NPA in the fall of 2010 during the mass protests against the pension reform to openly agitate for the indefinite general strike and for the replacement of the existing trade union bureaucracy by rank and file organs; the cowardly desertion of virtually the entire left during the uprising of the poor in Britain; the adaption of many centrists to petty bourgeois pacifism and democracy in the Arab revolution and the Occupation Movement, or the ingratiation of many organisations to the Bolivarism of Chavez. Centrism is therefore not a form of Marxism, and it is no part of its tradition, but revises and distorts it. It is a vacillating movement that adapts to other class forces (the petty-bourgeois) that has to be countered politically with all its consequences by the Bolshevik-Communists. Centrism is not closer to the Bolshevik-Communists than any other class foreign (non-proletarian) forces. Who uses strong words, but never implements the appropriate action when it matters, is as useless as those who cannot bring themselves to use such stark terms. And it is our responsibility to ensure that our class must not pay for what such centrist loudmouths say so that we don’t follow them into disaster.

Given the weakness of the revolutionary forces, it is no surprise that a part of the militant youth and even some workers turn to anarchism. This development is a punishment for the bureaucratisation of the labour movement and the treachery of their leaderships in the past. Nevertheless, this involvement of young activists in the ranks of anarchism is misguided. For without a revolutionary (not bureaucratised!) party a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism is not possible. Without turning to the working class in the enterprises, without tactics towards the organisations of the labour movement, the working class cannot be won to the revolution. Without a disciplined approach at demonstrations and street fighting agent provocateurs can easily slip into the ranks of demonstrators and enact counter-productive actions. Without the dictatorship of the proletariat the counter-revolution cannot be smashed. Not the individual action, but the collective, organised uprising under the clear leadership of the most experienced and most consistent fighters from their own ranks will lead our class to their liberation.

The Bolshevik-Communists say bureaucracy and petty-bourgeois democrats cannot lead the working class and the oppressed to victory. They are pursuing a policy in the name of the masses where a separated detachment (guerrilla fighter, enlightened officials, etc.) acts for the masses and the later supports this detachment, rather than to organize the masses and make themselves the bearer of the fight.

Their policy is limited to the expulsion of this or that foreign occupying power, the establishment of real democracy without a revolution in property relations, the expropriation of this or that capital group. But this is all an illusion. If one does not overthrow the bourgeoisie as a whole and smash their state apparatus, if one does not break completely with imperialism, if one does not link the democratic revolution with the expropriation of the capitalists - then the revolution remains incomplete and will degenerate in the end. If the revolution does not progress until the actual seizure of power by the working class, then it inevitably ends in the re-establishment of the rule of bourgeois forces, then it ends with not only the failure of the socialist, but also of the democratic revolution.

In short, the current dominant forces in the resistance movements do not have a realistic program to break the power of the capitalist class and the imperialist powers and bring the proletariat to power. As long as these forces are at the forefront of the fight, we will lose.

We appeal to the activists in the reformist and centrist parties, in the democratic protest movements and in the anarchist camp: the fight for the abolition of all forms of exploitation and oppression necessitates abolition of the classes and the state. This is only possible on the basis of the communist programme and inside the ranks of an actual revolutionary combat party of the working class. Join us!

The revolutionary combat party is based on a scientific analysis of the conditions of class struggle and a revolutionary programme. It organises the politically conscious, militant vanguard of the proletariat and all oppressed and declares open war against the still dominating bureaucracies in the labour movement. It is based on the principle of Democratic Centralism – this means democratic decision-making within the party, collective implementing of these decisions and defending of it outside of the party.

The revolutionary party can only really play the role of an instrument to combat the exploitation and oppression if it is firmly rooted in the working class, if they organise its vanguard (the most militant and progressive parts) and if it also includes the oppressed layers. Therefore, the organising of women, minorities, youth, etc. plays a central role.

Such a party does not exist today. Strictly speaking, our class has not possessed a vanguard party since the mid of the 20th century. In this deep crisis of leadership - combined with the possibilities of the imperialist bourgeoisie for the systematic bribery of the labour bureaucracy and aristocracy - the ultimate cause can be found in the extraordinary bourgeoisification of the labour movement and the De-revolutionisation of Marxism, as is has been distorted by left reformism, centrism and the left-wing academics in recent decades.

The immediate and most urgent task is therefore to create Bolshevik pre-party organisation nationally and internationally, from which such a party can then grow. These pre-party organisations have the task of bringing together many activists on the basis of the revolutionary program through participation in the class struggle and the persistent spread of revolutionary ideas. For this purpose they base themselves on the model of Bolshevik organisation – Democratic Centralism. Thus they come out of the ranks of the class fighters, gain experience and enhance the fighting strength of the working class with the utmost devotion to the revolution. The revolutionary pre-party organisation creates from the beginning class fighters who oppose tough, fierce and implacable the non-proletarian forces, as "left" as they may present themselves. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Bolshevik pre-party organisation to recruit primarily from the most advanced and most militant sections of the working class. Like a runner who is preparing his training long before the actual competition by all means, our organisation strives to prepare the revolution with just as many hardships and sacrifices to perform, as the revolution itself will require from us.

An important tool for overcoming the crisis of leadership of the working class is the Marxist united front tactic. Revolutionaries stand for the greatest possible unity of the proletariat in the struggle for their rights. They also take into account that today there are still many workers who in one way or another have hopes in their traditional leaderships. They also recognise that the rotten nature of these forces can be exposed to the masses not only by revolutionary propaganda, but by their experience in practice. They, therefore, propose to the other organisations of the labour movement the common struggle for concrete demands. The central aim is to fight shoulder to shoulder with the workers who for now still follow the non-revolutionary leaderships. Of particular importance is the formation of common united front organs at the rank and file (action committees in the enterprises, neighbourhoods and schools, common workers' militias, etc.). To this end, they direct the proposal to form a united front especially to the rank and file of the non-revolutionary parties and organisations, but also to their official leadership. These tactics may also include a critical electoral support for non-revolutionary forces. The common struggle must never lead revolutionaries to give up the necessary criticism of the insufficient policy of the petty bourgeois leaderships and in particular to criticise them sharply when they betray a struggle. Rather, the united front tactic for Bolshevik-Communists is legitimate only under the condition that it is coupled with the readiness to immediately expose the betrayal of false leadership without any fear. Only through the application of such a united front tactic can the Bolshevik-Communists ultimately break away large sectors of the worker class who are today still under reformist leadership of the bureaucracy and win them a revolutionary perspective successfully.

The application of a principled but flexible united front tactic is also important because the intensification of class antagonisms progresses at a faster rate than the revolutionary organising of the proletariat. Therefore it is quite possible that the upswings of the class struggle finds mass consciousness firstly expressed in the medium of new reformist or centrist formations. The foundation of the NPA in France or socialist initiatives in Egypt are examples of this. Bolshevik-Communists advocate an active participation in such initiatives insofar as they express a political process of radicalisation of a sector of the working class. At the same time such non-revolutionary organisations must not be presented as a political solution. Rather, it is necessary to openly advocate a revolutionary orientation and warn that such initiatives must inevitably end in an impasse if they do not exist on a revolutionary basis. (See e.g. the sad fate of the NPA) This will inevitably have to lead to a break with parts of such a project. The Bolshevik-Communists do not shy away from such breaks, because they see the strengthening of the fighting power of the proletariat as the ultimate goal and know that this will also be associated with splits with former co-fighters.

In countries where no working class party – i.e. not even a reformist one – exist (like e.g. in many semi-colonial countries or the USA), Bolshevik-Communists advocate the formation of an independent workers' party. A similar tactic might be legitimate in situations where progressive sections of the working class turn away from the established bourgeois workers' parties and look for a political alternative. We turn to militant trade unions, movements for democracy and social justice, political organisations, and all workers and oppressed people who are looking for an alternative to reformism and call upon them to establish new working class parties. We also call on them to join us in building a Fifth Workers' International.

We are fighting for a Fifth International, which has a revolutionary and proletarian character. We, therefore, argue from the outset for a revolutionary programme. Unlike the IMT, the CWI and the Fourth International, we reject the stages model for a new International, which in their opinion should be formed first on a left-reformist, then a centrist and then at some point on a revolutionary basis.

We are of course aware that such a new national party or a Fifth International, under present conditions would have a contradictory class character, since it would involve not only revolutionary, but reformist and centrist forces. This would be an International, whose leaders would fail in a series of class struggles, or even stand on the other side of the barricades against the workers.

Bolshevik-Communists would in such a case assume the role of a revolutionary opposition faction from the beginning, and therefore would have to wage a sharp struggle within such parties or in the Fifth International against a reformist, centrist or populist leadership. Their goal would be to win these parties for a revolutionary program. Of course, this must be done in a pedagogical way, which takes into account the illusions of many workers to avoid unnecessary isolation from day one. The goal is to rally left-wing forces, newly radicalised workers and youth and lead them to the left and towards a revolutionary path. While the Bolshevik-Communists maintain an independent profile as an organisation with their full programme, they must also try to include broader forces in opposition to a possible reformist leadership. Ultimately, the goal is to build a Fifth International, which actually serves the interests of the working class and where therefore no room exists for forces who serve the class enemy in the liberation struggle.

Currently, we are in an upswing phase of the revolutionary period. How long this will continue depends on several factors that must be decided in the battle itself. In any case, it must be assumed that exactly because of the absence of a revolutionary vanguard party the working class will almost inevitably experience several setbacks and we must prepare ourselves in this historic period for a longer struggle with revolutionary upturns, downturns, and counter-revolutionary tides.

However, because of historical experiences, what we say now is the following: the timely formation of a revolutionary combat party decides the fate of the revolution and the emancipation of the working class and the oppressed. Only when the working class has at its head a vanguard party, that consciously learns the lessons of past revolutions and defeats and applies the strategy of permanent revolution in practice, only then it can seize power and defend it against the bourgeois counter-revolution and imperialist threats.

In the history of the modern class struggle the class-conscious workers have created an International – a revolutionary world party four times: The First International of Marx and Engels in 1864-1876; the Second International, founded in 1889, which in 1914 became an openly pro-capitalist force by their support for the imperialist powers in World War I; the Third International founded in 1919 under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, which became a victim of the Stalinist bureaucracy and degenerated from 1924 onwards; and finally the Fourth International which emerged out of the struggle of the Left Opposition of Trotsky against centrism and reformism, which - weakened by the persecutions of fascism and Stalinism - failed at the challenges of the post-war period and ceased to exist as a revolutionary International in 1948-51.

Today we are faced with the task of to building a world party of socialist revolution for the fifth time to end capitalism once and for all. This is why the RCIT stands for the formation of the revolutionary workers' Fifth International.



Chapter 3: The world we are fighting for

Next: The struggle for the unions