By Johannes Wiener
A Popular Pamphlet issued by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), November 2013, www.thecommunists.net
I. Economic Foundations of the Society
II. Working Class and Socialism
III. Struggle against Imperialism
IV. Revolutionary Party
V. Enemies of the Working Class
VI. Enemies within the Ranks of our Class
VII. In the Trade Unions
VIII. Women's Liberation
IX. The Agrarian Question and Liberation of the Peasants in the Semi-Colonial World
X. For the Rights of Migrants!
XI. For the Rights of Young People and Homosexuals!
XII. Our History and Traditions
The following document is based on the translation of a pamphlet which was published by the Revolutionary Communist Organization for Liberation (RKOB, Austrian Section of the RCIT) in the spring of 2013. The author of the pamphlet is comrade Johannes Wiener, a leading member of the RKOB. We have modified and expanded the document to adapt it for an international audience.
The purpose of this document is to provide a first introduction to revolutionary activists who want to get a better understanding of Marxism. It is a popular introduction for activists who do not already possess knowledge of Marxism. Of course, such an introduction is not a full elaborated exposition of Marxism. This is why this introduction cannot replace the need to study the classic works of Marxism (written by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky). Nor does it replace the need to pore through the program of the RCIT and its books and theoretical journals.
Nevertheless, every great task needs a beginning and this is the purpose of the current introduction.
Michael Pröbsting (International Secretary of the RCIT)
* * * * *
I. Economic Foundations of Society
1. What is a society?
A society is a group of people who are related to each other through labor and exchange of labor products. In other words, it is a system like, for example, the US-American society, or the ancient Greeks, etc.
2. What is production?
Production is the transformation of raw materials into products through human labor, such as turning iron ore into iron, or the harvesting of apples, the cutting of hair, etc. Production may include several steps. For example, iron ore is converted into iron, the major component of steel that is eventually used in the production of steel bridges.
3. What are means of production?
These are tools that people use to produce – this can be a simple hammer or a computer-controlled robotic factory. (Some important means of production in today’s world include: factories, railways, ports, mines, media corporations, banks, etc.).
4. What are the productive forces of a society?
These are all the means of production of a society, including the entire working population and all the combined knowledge of these masses of workers. The state of a society’s productive forces is an indicator of how developed a society is. Hence the productive forces of a society form the economic basis of a society.
5. What is exploitation?
Exploitation is someone’s living off the labor of one or more other people. Exploitation takes place when someone works for another person and produces more than what he or she gets paid. Any value produced beyond what the worker receives as wages is called surplus value. Exploitation aims at acquiring as much surplus value as possible.
6. What is a class?
A class is a group of people that is related to the means of production by a given property relation. Classes can be one of the following types:
a) Exploiting class – People who own the means of production and live off the labor of other people.
b) Intermediate class – People who own the means of production, but perform the labor of production themselves and who do not exploit the labor of other people.
c) Exploited class – People who own no means of production and work for other people.
In addition, there are elements of society (bureaucracy, salaried middle class, etc.) that do not constitute a class in themselves, but are nevertheless a necessary part of a society in which exploitation is used to produce.
7. What is a state?
A state is a tool that enables one class to exploit another class. Initially, states basically consisted of armed people (army, police). Over time, states became more complex by the addition of a judicature: an administrative apparatus and different forms of political rule (e.g., by royalty, by landowners, by parliaments, etc.) which constituted the state’s government. Similarly, the educational system is part of the state apparatus, as it serves to educate people in the interests of the state.
8. What is class struggle?
Class struggle is the conflict between two classes that have opposing interests. Class struggle has existed in human societies since the emergence of classes with the development of early civilizations. Class struggle has determined the course of human history.
9. What are the different forms of class struggle?
a) Economic class struggle – A class, or a part of it, struggles to improve their economic situation. For example: working men and women employed by a company go on strike for higher wages; or entrepreneurs lower the wages to make more profit.
b) Political class struggle – A class, or a part of it, fights to get more political influence. For example: through elections or war. The highest form of political class struggle is the revolution.
c) Ideological class struggle – A class, or a part of it, fights to spread ideas that match their interests. This can take the form of a conversation, of writing articles or books, street agitation (rallies), public meetings, producing publications, or by the electronic media.
All forms of class struggle are interconnected and mixed. A strike to improve the economic situation of the working men and women can be supported by the ideological class struggle – public meetings, street rallies, and leaflets. A successful strike can lead to important changes in the consciousness of workers, e.g., the way they think about exploitation, or it strengthens their political and trade union combative power.
10. In which directions does the class struggle develop?
a) There is class struggle from above: This is the struggle of the exploiters against the exploited.
b) There is class struggle from below: This is the struggle of the exploited against their exploiters.
11. What are the social systems that have existed throughout history, and how do they differ?
a) Primitive Communism, as in African tribal society. In this system, there is no private property and no classes; there is great poverty and backwardness.
b) Slave Society, as in ancient Rome. In this system, the producers are slaves which are the property of slaveholders for whom they work.
c) Feudalism, like in Europe during the Middle Ages. In this system, many producing serfs have to work a small piece of land for the feudal aristocrats.
d) Asiatic Mode of Production: A centralized bureaucracy with a royal dynasty at its top owns the land, runs the country from central cities and exploits the peasants and craftsmen.
e) Capitalism, the system that exists today throughout most of the world. Working men and women have to work for the profit of capitalists. The means of production do not belong to the workers, except for their labor-power.
f) Rule of the working class, as existed in Russia in the first years after the October Revolution in 1917. The working men and women run the country together with the poor peasants. They work for their own interests.
g) Reign of the bureaucracy, as existed in the former Soviet Union after Stalin took power as well as in Eastern Europe and China after World War II. Worker work for the privileges of the bureaucracy, and have no political power. At the same time, capitalism has been abolished.
These systems are marked by several epochs. For example the epoch of the decline of capitalism is called imperialism.
12. Will there always be class struggle in a class-based society?
Yes. Often there is class struggle under the surface that one cannot see on first sight. However, there are times when the interests of the classes clash openly, with more or less intensity. Class struggle can be divided into different periods just as economic development knows different stages.
13. How does Capitalism work?
Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalists. The expropriation of substantial surplus value is the basis for the economic and political domination of the working class. The most powerful groups within the capitalist class are big business and the financial corporations. Through their economic influence, they control the top layers of the political parties, the police, the courts, the media, and the educational system. Capitalism can exist under take various forms of political control, whether parliamentary republics, military dictatorships, or fascist regimes.
14. What are the principal classes under capitalism?
a) The capitalist class owns the major means of production (corporations, banks, media, etc.), and exploits the surplus value produced by their workers to accumulate huge profits. Through its economic strength and influence, this class controls the state, via the parliament, the military, and the media.
b) The petty bourgeoisie and the middle class partly own the means of production and, therefore, are not themselves exploited. In the rich imperialist countries, they usually form an important pillar of society, supporting the capitalist class. The members of these classes or strata live by their own work and include, for example, richer peasants, middle managers, private lawyers, and police officers. In poorer, usually semi-colonial countries, the poorer peasants and the semi-proletarian layers (urban poor) live in terrible conditions. Consequently, these latter groups are an important ally for the working class in the struggle for liberation.
c) The working class owns no means of production and thus works for the profit of the capitalists. Temporarily unemployed are also part of the working class.
d) The lumpenproletariat is a very small layer which does not participate in the production (e.g., criminals, long-time homeless people).
II. The Working Class and Socialism
15. Why is the working class a special and revolutionary class?
As just mentioned, the working class is one of the principal classes under capitalism. As the wage-earning workers who perform actual production, the working class creates the basis for the capitalist world economy. This is a uniform and global class that exists across national borders, and which shares a common interest: the building of a new system that will exist for the benefit of the workers themselves and not the capitalists. To achieve this, the working class must overthrow the ruling capitalist class as such. Furthermore, the working class is the first class in the history of humanity that has an interest in abolishing any form of class rule. In other words, it is the task of the working class to end the domination of one class over another class.
16. What is Socialism?
Socialism is a system under which classes no longer exist. However, to achieve the actual withering away and disappearance of classes, a long transitional phase will be needed. Under socialism, the economy serves all humankind equally and the oppression of one person by another in the form of the state is abolished. Socialism will be accompanied by a rapid development of the economy and culture because, for the first time in the history of humanity, the majority of the people will really work for themselves. Socialism will implement the principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
17. How can we get to Socialism?
Socialism is a classless society which can only be introduced by the working class. The bitterest enemies of socialism are the big property owners, i.e., the capitalist class. As a transitional step towards socialism, the working class must foment a revolution that will bring this class to power. The old capitalist state apparatus must be smashed. The working class needs its own state to prevent the capitalist class from returning to power. Under working class rule, the major means of production must pass to the collective ownership of the working people who will plan the economic activity of society according to their needs.
18. What happens to the state on the road to Socialism?
When the revolution has spread from one country to a large part of the world, the resistance of the exploiters will gradually decline. In this reality, the state will be less and less necessary as a source of oppression, and it will increasingly become only a tool for administration. In this way, the state will become less of a state in the classical sense (i.e., a tool for the oppression of one class by another). So the state will gradually wither away, because working people have no interest in its maintenance.
19. Why was socialism not achieved in the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and China?
Socialism is a system that can only be implemented at a global level. In the Stalinist state oppression and surveillance of the people increased. Instead of withering away, the state became stronger and more entrenched. It was characterized by rule of the bureaucracy of the state apparatus, and the party which controlled that bureaucracy, instead of rule by the working class in alliance with the poor peasants.
20. Was this development unavoidable?
No, not at all! The working class took power in Russia with the October Revolution in 1917. But since the revolution did not spread rapidly enough, the bureaucracy led by Stalin gained power after Lenin's death in 1924 and abolished the workers' democracy. But this was by no means inevitable. If revolution would have triumphed in several countries or even all of Western Europe, Stalinism would never have developed.
21. What can the working class do so that such a development does not recur?
The RCIT considers it as an important lesson that the institutions of the rule of the masses – the councils – must be the basis of the new society. Councils work like this: the workers in a factory (or in a neighborhood, a village, or a school) discuss the important issues of social life and elect representatives at public meetings. These representatives are the delegates of the council. They must have no privileges and must be recallable at all times. It is also important to spread the revolution to other countries and continents as soon as possible. But the most important lesson is that the working class must create an international revolutionary party that, in time, can lead the workers and the oppressed in the struggle and organize the revolution.
22. Is it possible to introduce socialism via elections or parliament?
No. Even if we would play by the rules of bourgeois democracy, i.e., of the parliament, the exploiters and bosses, who control the bourgeois democracy, don’t actually do this themselves. When we, working men and women, become too dangerous for them, they are only too happy to unleash the military or the fascists to take action against us (e.g., by replacing the parliament with a military dictatorship). There are many examples in which the exploiters have overturned bourgeois democratic elections because the oppressed were too strong (e.g., Austria and Germany in 1933, Spain in 1936, Greece in 1967, Chile in 1973, Turkey in 1980, Venezuela in 2002, Honduras in 2009, Mali in 2012).
23. Why can a revolution not be peaceful?
In history the exploiting class has always used the armed forces of its state apparatus to fight radical social changes because such a change would mean that they lose their privileges. They do everything possible to continue living from exploitation. For them, we are working men and women whom they need just to work for their profits. They have no problem to let us be shot en masse if we threaten their rule. To take a recent example, look to the Arab Revolution since 2011: peaceful protests led to the deaths of many unarmed protesters, and to the imprisonment and torture of others. It follows that the masses of workers and oppressed will have a real chance to fight for their freedom and their lives only by staging an armed uprising.
24. What is expropriation?
Expropriation is the taking away of the means of production and the wealth of the capitalists following the revolution. These resources will be transferred to the hands of the working people and their state, and used according to the needs of the entire society. It may also happen that some of the capitalist class will be expropriated before the revolution or to the revolution on the road there. (From this, we maintain our slogan "Expropriation of the Super-Rich!") There is no compensation for expropriation. Total expropriation is only possible after the revolution.
25. What is Marxism?
Marxism is the science that explains the material basis of human society and provides the perspective through which we can achieve socialism. Marxism was founded by Karl Marx (hence the name) and is actively in the service of the oppressed by giving them the tools to build a new world.
III. The Struggle against Imperialism
26. What are the different types of countries?
a) Imperialist Countries: these are the countries in North America, Western Europe, China, Russia, Japan, and Australia. They are capitalist countries. They oppress other countries and exploit them economically.
b) Semi-Colonial Countries: these are the countries of South and Central America, Africa, Eastern Europe, South, South-East, West, and Central Asia. They are also capitalist countries. While they have formal political independence, they are economically exploited by the ruling class of the imperialist countries (we call this “super-exploitation”), and are thus dominated politically by the latter.
c) Colonial Countries: only a few of which still exist like French Guiana, the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, Puerto Rico, as well as countries directly occupied by imperialism such as Afghanistan. They are themselves also capitalist countries. They are directly occupied and administered by imperialist powers and are thus economically super-exploited as well.
d) Degenerated Workers' State: Today this is e.g. North Korea. These are countries in which a bureaucratically-planned economy exists alongside a one-party dictatorship; these countries can easily come into conflict with imperialism.
e) Revolutionary Workers’ State: The revolutionary Soviet Union 1917-23 was such a country. Such countries are characterized by a economy planned to meet the interests of the working class. The workers' state is a starting point for the world revolution and for this reason it is a bitter enemy of imperialism.
27. What is Imperialism?
Imperialism is capitalism during the epoch of its decay. Under imperialism, two types of major conflicts come to a head: the conflict between the working class and the capitalist class and the conflict between oppressed and oppressor nations. The epoch of imperialism is, therefore, characterized by both revolutions and wars, in the course of which the Great Powers and their big corporations continually struggle among themselves for economic and political domination of non-imperialist countries and entire regions. With imperialism there are two possibilities: either the working class will take power or humanity will sink into barbarism.
28. What is the national question?
Modern nation states emerged during the age of capitalism. In most imperialist countries, the national question was solved by the capitalist class (exceptions include e.g. Northern Ireland or the Basque Country). In the oppressed nations, the national question still plays an important role because these countries are still exploited and oppressed by imperialism. National oppression can be by imperialist countries or rather by the capitalist ruling classes of semi-colonial countries. By the right of national self-determination, the RCIT understands that a nation is no longer oppressed and exploited by another nation; that it has the right to form its own state; that its people have the right to speak their native language and live by their culture. There are also elements of the national question involved in the oppression of migrants.
29. What is war?
War is the continuation of politics by other means. During wars, one class tries to achieve its political objectives by violence. For example in the Vietnam War, in the 1960s and early 1970s, the US capitalists tried to secure their dominance in East Asia by breaking the resistance of the workers and peasants in Vietnam. Similarly, today US imperialism occupies Afghanistan while EU imperialism sends forces to Mali. Imperialist wars and occupations strive to secure both their geopolitical interests and their grip on oil and other resources. To achieve this, they attempt to smash anti-imperialist resistance.
30. What are the different types of wars?
a) Imperialist Wars involve the struggle of two or more oppressive (imperialist) countries against one another. The goal of each side is to gain control of as much of the world as possible as they divide it among themselves (e.g., WWI and WWII, except in the case of the Soviet Union).
b) National Liberation Wars involve the struggle of an oppressed country against an oppressor country. Even if the oppressed country is lead in such a war by bourgeois forces, it remains a just war because the goal is to eliminate national oppression.
c) Revolutionary Wars involve the struggle of a state, in which the working class has already taken power, against a capitalist country. The purpose of such a war is to liberate the working class and the oppressed and to spread the world revolution.
d) Civil Wars involve the struggle between different classes, layers, or sections of classes within a single country. In civil wars, communists side with the masses of the working class and the oppressed against the exploiters and their lackeys.
31. What position should Communists take in different types of wars?
a) Communists from imperialist countries always oppose the wars waged by their own country – no matter against whom. In the event of war, communists call for the defeat of ”their” country, as well as for fraternization between the soldiers of the warring sides.
b) Communists from colonial or semi-colonial countries defend their country against imperialism. But they advocate that such just wars be transformed into revolutionary wars led by the working class. In reactionary wars between two capitalist, semi-colonial countries, communists on both sides stand for defeat of ”their” respective country. In a reactionary civil war of “their” ruling class against an oppressed national minority, they call for the victory of the oppressed nation and the defeat of the ruling class.
c) Communists defend those countries in which capitalism has already been abolished (workers’ states) against their capitalist enemies. They explain to the soldiers of the capitalist army that their true enemy is not the workers' state, but their own ruling class at home.
32. Should communists join bourgeois armies?
Yes and no. If there is legal compulsion to join the army (conscription) then, in general, the RCIT callsfor communists to enter the bourgeois army. There we learn military skills because, sooner or later, we will turn against the exploiters. While serving in a bourgeois army, we fight underground for the rights of ordinary soldiers, against the imperialist war, against the officer caste, and for soldiers’ councils. Where conscription exists, we refuse to do alternative civil service or to attempt to avoid military service. If compulsory military service does not exist, we say that joining the army is not compulsory for communists.
33. Which kind of army do we want?
We advocate a Red Army that exclusively serves our class and fights against imperialism and the capitalist exploiters. In such an army, there will be maximum democratic participation (as long as the military situation allows this). In such an army, there will be no privileges for communists or officers!
34. What is our position on the struggle of nations for independence?
If the majority of a people of a region want to create a separate state, we support their struggle. But the RCIT does not advocate that such a state be capitalist, but rather that it be founded on a socialist basis, i.e., under the rule of the working class and the peasantry. Examples of legitimate struggles for independence today are the struggle of the Kurdish, Palestinian, Chechen, Tamil, Kashmiri, Baloch, and Tibetan peoples.
35. Why are we enemies of Imperialism?
Because imperialism is the main enemy of the working class in today’s world. It suppresses not only the working class but also the absolute majority of the working people on Earth.
36. What is Internationalism?
Internationalism means that we, as working men and women, understand ourselves to be part of a global class with a common goal. It means that, for us, it does not matter what skin color or ethic origin our brothers and sisters have. Our global class is our common “fatherland.” We help all workers and the oppressed in their struggle for liberation – depending on the situation – with solidarity actions, resolutions, donations, actions, strikes, or even weapons. Internationalism also means that we express our solidarity with the struggle of oppressed peoples.
37. What is the democratic revolution?
In most parts of the world (in South America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe) many basic democratic and national rights have still not been won. The tasks of the democratic revolution are:
* Implementation of full democratic rights (e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of movement, equal rights for women and national or religious minorities)
* Enforcement of a comprehensive land reform (redistribution of the land of big landowners to poor and landless peasants)
* National liberation from oppression and exploitation by oppressor nations and by imperialism
The Arab Revolution, in which the masses having been fighting since 2011 against dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc., is an actual example of such a democratic revolution.
38. What is the Permanent Revolution?
Permanent revolution means achieving the aims of the democratic revolution under the leadership and rule of the working class. This, in fact, is the only way that the democratic revolution can be carried out successfully, because the capitalists of the oppressed nations are too weak and would rather join forces with imperialism than meet their historical responsibilities. It is, therefore, the task of the working class of oppressed nations to advance the democratic revolution by making a socialist revolution – that is, to combine the objectives of the national democratic revolution and the social objectives of the working class.
39. Who are the allies of the working class in the colonies and semi-colonies?
The closest allies of the working class are the poor or landless peasants and the urban poor (impoverished dealers, slum dwellers, etc.). These layers must be won for the revolution in order for it to succeed.
In a broad, popular movement, it may also be possible to temporarily win the middle-level peasants and the urban middle classes to the side of the revolution. But the primary goal is to neutralize these layers so that they do not side with the capitalists.
If the capitalist class of a colonial or semi-colonial country comes into conflict with imperialist forces, it is conceivable that the working class will be able to undertake military or practical actions together with them. However, such an alliance, if it ever comes about, will be highly fragile and short-lived.
40. How do we fight against the destruction of our environment?
Capitalism and its economy are not working for the benefit of the people, but for the profit of the capitalists. The environment is deteriorating rapidly, so it is we – the working class – who must prevent the destruction of our planet. The RCIT calls for the abolition of nuclear power and the development of renewable energy under the control of working men and women assisted by experts whom our class can trust. Public transport needs to be expanded; workers who are employed in polluting industries need to be retrained, and not be laid off.
IV. The Revolutionary Party
41. Why does the working class need a Revolutionary Party?
The working class is the only revolutionary class in society today. As such, it fights against a very strong enemy who has tremendous practical experience as well as military and organizational superiority. In order to defeat such a powerful enemy, the capitalist class, the most advanced sections of the working class must organize and unite politically as a revolutionary party to lead the working class in the revolution.
42. What is the relationship of communists to the working class?
Our program is an expression of the interests of the working class. It is a compass for our class to achieve victory. We, as communists, are fighting to forge a revolutionary leadership from among the working class, and attempting to convince as many working men and women of our idea as possible. We reject violence, compulsion, and oppression within our own class. We want to start the revolution only when the majority of our class brothers and sisters support this. As communists, we are always on the side of the most oppressed strata of society, and continually fight for working class solidarity.
43. Why do we need an international party?
Capitalism is a world system and the capitalist class coordinates their political and economic activity internationally. The working class is an international class which must not be split along national lines. Our fatherland is the entire world. We need a global strategy, a global battle plan to bring about a world revolution. This demands an international, world-wide party!
44. Have there ever been any international working class parties?
Yes, there have been, until now, four internationals (world parties of the working class). They achieved much and gained vast experience for our revolutionary struggle. But in the end they all failed, were betrayed, or disintegrated.
The First International was founded by Marx and Engels in 1864, and was dissolved in 1876.
The Second International (also known as the Socialist International) was founded in 1889; it was active as a revolutionary International until the start of World War I in 1914. Then it fell apart and was re-founded as the Socialist International, which formally exists until today.
The Third International (also known as the Communist International) was founded in 1919 by Lenin. It was based on the experience of the October Revolution that created the Soviet Union. This International was betrayed by Stalin who expelled and murdered many of its revolutionary members. It was dissolved by Stalin in 1943.
The Fourth International (also known as the Trotskyist International) was founded in 1938 by Leon Trotsky. This party was viciously attacked and persecuted by fascists, Stalinists, and bourgeois ”democrats.” From the late 1940s, the Fourth International adapted to Stalinism, social democracy, and petty-bourgeois nationalism. It fell apart in 1953.
45. Why are we for the foundation of the Fifth International?
Until now, all other Internationals have failed and have not fulfilled their historic mission. But the working class urgently needs a revolutionary international leadership!
46. What is democratic centralism?
Democratic centralism is a key principle for revolutionary organizations and parties. It involves maximum participation of members within the organization/party in determining party policy. Once policy is established democratically, all members must assist in the implementation of the decisions, by carrying out appropriate political work. The membership elects a responsive leadership which has the authority to make decisions until the next conference. The purpose of participation is not a goal in itself, but is a means to lead the organization along the correct path! Depending on situation of the class struggle, democratic centralism takes different forms.
V. Enemies of the Working Class
47. What do we mean by ”reactionary”?
The word ”reactionary” comes from the Latin meaning backward. The term reactionary is given to anything that represents a regression for society or our class.
48. What is Fascism?
Fascism is a right-wing movement which violently attacks migrants, minorities (e.g., Jews, Roma) and members of the workers’ movement. Fascism aims to replace the bourgeois-democratic republic with an open reign of terror and to crush all working class organizations. Fascists can only seize power if the capitalists want to use them against our class. Fascism is the capitalists’ ”emergency brake” to prevent revolution. Fascism can only become a mass movement, if it is supported and funded by the capitalists. Examples for fascist parties are the Nazis in Germany and Austria, Jobbik in Hungary, MHP/Bozkurt in Turkey, the English Defense League in Britain, the fascists in Italy, Chetniks in Serbia, Ustaša in Croatia, etc.
49. Which classes form the basis for Fascism?
The fascists base themselves on support from the petty bourgeoisie or former owners of small means of production that were destroyed by crisis-ridden capitalism. The lumpenproletariat is also an important base for fascism, which in particular provides its fighting forces. If fascism becomes a mass movement, it can also receive support from the highest and lowest, i.e., most precarious, sections of the working class.
50. What is nationalism?
Nationalism is a political tendency which claims that a given nation is superior to others and that all people who are part of this nation, have a common interest to support it.
51. Should working men and women be patriotic or nationalistic?
No! Our motherland is the world and our pride is our class! US workers have many more common interests with workers in India or Zimbabwe than with the US bosses! But we must recognize that the nationalism of oppressed peoples is primarily a response to their oppression; one cannot, therefore, equate it with the nationalism of oppressor nations. We are for the equality of all people and for a joint future of peace and socialism!
52. What is individualism?
Individualism is an ideology which advocates that individuals have special rights. This ideology is used by the bosses to undermine our class unity. Individualism as an ideology works in the interests of the petty bourgeoisie and the middle class, whose economic base is strongly individualistic (some own small means of production, others are employed, individually, in better positions). We fight against individualism, because it serves only those who have more rights. Liberation can only exist for all or for no one! In fact, the individual personality can only develop freely if the society as a whole can develop freely and in a diversified manner.
53. What does ‘bourgeois’ mean?
Another word for the capitalist class is the French word "bourgeoisie". Bourgeois politics is, therefore, a policy that serves the interests of the bourgeoisie. In any state there can be several bourgeois parties since the ruling class is divided into different groups, and it also needs parties to rally the support of other classes in the society.
VI. Enemies within the Ranks of the Working Class Movement
54. What is reformism?
Reformism is a political current within the workers’ movement which maintains that capitalism can be made more humane, and can even be made to gradually lead to socialism via peaceful means, or simply to achieve a more just world. In reality, reformism defends bourgeois society based on exploitation, and has been and is used to prevent revolutions that strive to smash exploitation. Reformism entirely neutralizes sincere fighters for a better world, and sells them to the liar politicians in Parliament. In Germany, Austria, and Spain reformism (social democracy) paved the way for fascism in the 1930s when it betrayed the resistance of working men and women.
55. Which Reformist Forces exist?
These are mainly:
1. Social Democrats (e.g., PSF [France], PSOE [Spain], SPD [Germany])
2. Stalinist or former Stalinist parties (e.g., CPI and CPI[M] in India, CPSA [South Africa], the CP’s in Egypt, Israel and Iraq, KKE [Greece], the European Left Party (which composes e.g., SYRIZA [Greece], the German Left Party, IU [Spain], PCF and Front de Gauche [France])
In addition there are also other reformist parties like the AWP (Pakistan), the Hoxahist PCOT/PT [Tunisia], the Mana Party (New Zealand), or the Red-Green Alliance (Denmark).
56. What exactly is Social Democracy?
Social Democracy is a political force which often controls the labor movement in imperialist countries. It has demonstrated throughout its history that it is against socialism and, if necessary, prefers to fight side by side with the capitalists against us workers. The RCIT sees the social democratic bureaucracy as an assistant and agent of the capitalists within our class (e.g., German Social Democracy, Blair’s Labour Party in Britain, PSF in France.)
57. What is Stalinism?
Stalinism emerged in the Soviet Union several years after the successful October Revolution. It is a political force directed against the world revolution and a consistent revolutionary policy. It emerged as a political expression of the growing bureaucracy whose interests were directed against the working class. After the downfall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the restoration of capitalism in China, Stalinism has lost much influence. It follows in most cases a reformist politics but appears as more left-wing than social democracy. Even if the Stalinists usually call themselves ”Communists,” their policy has little to do with it. Where they are in power (alone or as part of a government coalition) they serve to run the business of the ruling capitalist class (e.g., SACP in South Africa, both CP’s in Syria, AKEL in Cyprus, CPM in West Bengal/India, PCF in France).
Historically, the Stalinist bureaucracy has killed hundreds of thousands of real communists.
58. Is it possible to win over reformist parties to the side of the Revolution?
No. Reformist parties are led and controlled by very powerful and experienced bureaucracies. The masses of the working class have very little influence in these parties. It is often difficult to build even a revolutionary faction inside them.
59. Why is it that reformism has managed to prevail in the workers movement?
Because the capitalists succeeded in creating a privileged labor bureaucracy at the head of workers' organizations (parties, unions, etc.). This bureaucracy has an interest to get along with the capitalists and retain capitalism, since this system provides them with posts and privileges.
60. On which forces does the bureaucracy base itself inside the workers' organizations?
Its direct base is a small but highly privileged layer at the top of the working class – the labor aristocracy. This layer is corrupted by the bosses with a relatively high wages and lifestyle in order to spread their ideas into a sector of the working class.
61. What is meant by ”petty (or petit) bourgeois”?
The petty bourgeoisie is an intermediate class in capitalism. It is increasingly torn between the working class and capitalists. The existence of the petty bourgeoisie is based either on individual ownership of small means of production (a small piece of farm land, small shop, little restaurant, doctor's office, etc.) or on self-employment (small trader, engineer, etc.). This layer has a short-term interest in the maintenance of private ownership of the means of production, but a long- term interest in socialism. This makes it a highly contradictory class. Petty-bourgeois means that something which is inherent to the interests of the petty bourgeoisie (reformist policies, for example, are petty-bourgeois). Policy responses aimed at the individual or creating gradual improvement in society mostly correspond to the day-dream thinking of the petty bourgeoisie.
62. What is Centrism?
Centrism is a political tendency that vacillates between reform and revolution. It adapts to various non-revolutionary forces with the illusionary hope of winning them over to socialism (in imperialist countries: the reformist bureaucracy; in the semi-colonies: petty-bourgeois nationalist or anti-imperialist but non-revolutionary forces). Centrism takes the communist program and trims off its revolutionary edge both in theory and practice (to make communism ”more acceptable” for its allies). Examples of centrist organizations are the CWI (Peter Taffee), IMT (Alan Woods), SWP(UK) and the ISO (USA), in the tradition of Tony Cliff, or the “Fourth International” in the tradition of Ernest Mandel.
63. What is Maoism?
The term Maoism is derived from Mao Zedong, the leader of the Stalinist party and later of the regime in China. In its program Maoism is a version of Stalinism. It hails the Stalinist regime in the USSR and claims that its successors betrayed Stalin’s “socialism.” It has, however, characteristics which are specific to conditions in the poorer, semi-colonial countries. Maoism emerged as a specific political current in China after the power struggle sharpened between the Russian and the Chinese national bureaucracies and led to a break in the 1960s. Like Stalinism, Maoism desires to build a bureaucratic dictatorship against the working class based on post-capitalist property relations. Its strategy is to fight alongside bourgeois forces in a first stage to achieve a bourgeois-democratic state (“New Democracy”) and only in a second stage for socialism. As a result it often forms political alliances with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces. China under Mao Zedong, for example, collaborated with US imperialism against the USSR. It also supported ultra-reactionary forces against progressive petty-bourgeois forces: e.g., China’s support for the pro-imperialist UNITA against the MPLA government in Angola, for the reactionary Mujahedin in Afghanistan against the PDPA and the Soviet troops after 1979, for right-wing, pro-US dictatorships (like the Shah in Iran or Pinochet in Chile), or for Bandaranaike’s government in Sri Lanka which slaughtered thousands of youths in the rebellion of 1971. At the same time, in some countries Maoists happen to be at the front of radical struggles of poor peasants and oppressed (e.g., CPI [Maoists] in India, CPP in the Philippines). Many Maoist activists are dedicated revolutionaries whom we want to break away from their leaders’ bankrupt Maoist program. While the RCIT rejects the Maoist program, we seek practical cooperation with Maoist forces in the class struggle and defend them against state repression.
64. What is Hoxahism?
The term Hoxahism is derived from Envar Hoxha, the leader of the Stalinist party and later of the regime in Albania. It is basically a version of Maoism/Stalinism. Albania under Enver Hoxha worked closely together with Stalin and later Mao Zedong but turned away from China soon after Mao’s death in 1976. While Hoxahism later denounced some aspects of Maoist ideology (e.g., the Three Worlds Theory) it essentially kept the same program. Hoxahist parties usually follow a deeply reformist policy of forming political alliances with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces (e.g., PCOT/PT in Tunisia).
65. What is Bolivarianism?
The term Bolivarianismis derivedfrom Simon Bolivar, a famous bourgeois national liberation fighter in Latin America who fought against Spanish colonialism in the early 19th century. Bolivarianism is the name of the political movement associated with the governments of the late Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, and their international supporters. The Bolivarian regimes collaborate with imperialist China. While they talk about “Socialism in the 21st century,” they pursue a policy of state-capitalism and subordination of the working class to the national bourgeoisie. While the RCIT rejects the Bolivarian program, we seek practical cooperation with them in the class struggle and defend them against imperialist aggression.
66. What is petty-bourgeois left-wing Populism?
We characterize as “petty-bourgeois left-wing populist” those political forces which raise progressive social and democratic demands against the ruling class but which don’t fight for them with the methods of class struggle and don’t combine this with the program of socialist revolution. They focus rather on gaining influence via parliamentarian elections and use popular mobilizations as vehicles for this. Examples for this are the RESPECT party of George Galloway in Britain or Julius Malema’s EFF in South Africa. While the RCIT rejects the petty-bourgeois populist program, we seek practical cooperation with them in the class struggle against reactionary forces.
67. What is petty-bourgeois left-wing nationalism?
We characterize as “petty-bourgeois left-wing nationalist” those political forces which fight for the rights of oppressed nationalities but don’t rely on the methods of class struggle and don’t combine this with the program of socialist revolution. They focus rather on gaining influence via parliamentarian elections, armed guerilla struggle, or popular mobilizations, or a combination of these. Examples for this are the FARC in Columbia, the PFLP in Palestine, or HB/ETA in Basque Country. While the RCIT rejects the petty-bourgeois nationalist program, we seek practical cooperation with them in the class struggle and defend them against state repression.
68. What is Islamism?
Islamism tries to transform the Islamic religion into a political ideology. There are many different Islamist movements. These movements usually have a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois political character. There are also left-wing Islamists who try to fuse the goals of Islam with socialism. On the other hand, there are also very regressive Islamists (Salafists, Wahabis, Taliban, etc.). We defend the Islamists against imperialism and its state as well as against fascism. But political Islamism has ultimately no answer for the liberation of the oppressed classes.
69. What do we mean by ”ultra-left”?
Political organizations that are ultra-left usually follow a policy which puts a minus sign everywhere reformists put a plus sign. The result is that, although they are very radical in words, they usually follow an impotent policy in practice. They are sectarian, which means that they oppose joint actions with the organizations of the workers movement (the trade unions, labor parties, etc.). They also often criticize reformism and centrism in a wrong way (i.e., they insult them instead of criticizing them). The best way to fight against ultra-leftism is to consistently fight against reformism.
70. What is anarchism?
Anarchism is a political tendency which fights, like us, for a classless society. But it rejects that the working class is the only revolutionary class; it refuses to fight for a workers' state as a necessity to prevent the capitalists from re-conquering power; and it also refuses to build a revolutionary party. It is does not consistently fight against imperialism, and does not defend the oppressed peoples. It believes that hierarchies are the “root of all evil” in class society.
71. What is the united front?
The united front is a tactic used by communists to fight together with non-revolutionary forces. A united front is formed to a specific practical purpose because one is too weak to achieve a given goal (e.g., organization of demonstrations or strikes to oppose an attack of the ruling class). We do not form a united front for the sake of unity but for the purpose to achieve a practical goal. We call the leaderships of non-revolutionary organizations to take joint actions with us. At the same time we approach the membership of these organizations to advance joint actions ”from below.” The principle the RCIT follows is: march separately, strike together.
72. Are there different types of united fronts?
In the first place, the united front is directed towards organizations of the workers’ movement. However, it often happens that workers follow organizations which are not part of the workers’ movement, but which nevertheless participate in just struggles. In addition, revolutionaries also struggle to advance the liberation of the oppressed (women, youth, migrants, etc.) and other oppressed classes and layers (poor peasantry, urban poor). For this purpose we aim for united front actions with organizations which represent these layers. We also advocate the anti-imperialist united front with forces which resist imperialist attacks. United front actions can range from joint demonstrations and joint strikes to joint military actions.
VII. The Trade Unions
73. What is our attitude towards trade unions?
Trade unions are essentially organs of the working class to struggle for a better life. If unions organize masses of the working class but are under a reformist leadership, we work inside them and try to get rid of the reformist bureaucracy and to turn these mass organizations into revolutionary unions. We try to strengthen the unions wherever it is possible. In branches where no unions exist, we try to build revolutionary unions. The RCIT aims to build a revolutionary leadership for the trade unions.
74. Are we in favor of splitting the trade unions?
In principle, we are against the splitting of unions. We believe that the working class needs a single union to fight as effectively as possible. Nevertheless, we must not allow the bureaucracy to bind the hands of the workers in the struggle, and propose independent actions when the bureaucrats refuse to fight (e.g., call for strikes, demonstrations, factory occupations, etc.). History has shown that it is reformists who break the unity of the union, especially when communists become too influential in the union. This is certainly negative, but mostly unavoidable.
75. What kind of trade union work do we undertake?
While performing trade union work, we try to win colleagues both for joining the union as well as for communism, which means recruiting members in the unions and building union cells. If there are no shop stewards in an enterprise, we propose nominating one. When there is a strike, we put ourselves at the forefront in the struggle against the bosses and for more rights. We connect the struggle for improvements in everyday life with the struggle for the rule of the working class.
76. What is a strike?
A strike means that we working men and women decide together to refuse to work until the boss or the state accepts our demands. A strike can exert massive pressure because it prevents the bosses from making profits during this time. This can take the form of a strike inside the enterprise or a street demonstration during working hours. A scab is someone who refuses to participate in a strike but wants to continue to work for the boss. Scabs are therefore betraying their colleagues and harming them.
77. How can we force the union bureaucracy to fight?
On its own, the trade union bureaucracy will not fight for our rights. It will do so only under pressure from below. As long as we are not strong enough to organize militant actions by ourselves, we must put the union leadership under pressure until it yields. Therefore, we propose to hold assemblies of the workers to discuss and make decisions to start a strike or to build action committees to organize practical resistance. Therefore, we advocate the building of a militant grassroots movement within unions. This grassroots movement should aim to organize class struggle actions, if necessary, against the will of the bureaucracy.
VIII. Women’s Liberation
78. What are the different Forms of Women's Oppression?
a) Women receive lower wages than their male colleagues for the same work.
b) Women take most of the burden of (unpaid) housework.
c) Women are discriminated against legally
d) Women suffer sexual oppression in the forms of abuse and rape as well as prostitution.
e) Women are the targets of ideological oppression, misogynistic ideas, humiliation, and education towards traditional gender roles.
79. How do we fight against women’s oppression?
The RCIT advocates a revolutionary working class women’s movement. We stand for the closest possible union of all workers and oppressed. We combine the struggle for socialism with the struggle for women's liberation, since these issues cannot be separated. Women's oppression will continue to exist as long as classes exist. We fight to advance women’s rights – especially those of female workers and poor – as much as possible under the capitalist system (for equal wages, equal rights, the right to abortion, for the socialization of housework, etc.). Capitalists and their agents of both sexes are equally our enemies, because they are all exploiters.
80. Did women's oppression exist before Capitalism?
Yes. The oppression of women is as old as class society itself. The Roman Empire or the empires of the Middle Age were built on the labor of women and slaves or serfs (semi-slaves). That is why, in our struggle against class domination we, must also fight against the oppression of women as one of its oldest manifestations.
81. What is Feminism?
Feminism is a current that assumes, in one way or another, that women have a common interest. In reality, we know that the women – as men – are divided into different classes, which are in conflict with each other. There are many different varieties of feminism – ranging from a radical, autonomous feminism who considers all men “culprits,” a bourgeois moderate version which focuses on bringing more women to top positions of management, media, and state, to forms of feminism which mix in all sorts of socialist phrases.
82. Is it possible to combine feminism with socialism?
No. Socialism, by its very nature, stands for women's liberation (as well as for the liberation of other oppressed layers). It does not need to be combined with other, non-revolutionary ideologies in order to emphasize one or another issue.
83. What we mean by the socialization of housework?
The burden of domestic work (childcare, cooking, cleaning, etc.) rests, in most part, on the shoulders of the woman. We are for the full employment of women, because only then they can achieve economic independence from men. The RCIT advocates that the burden of homework be transferred from the shoulders of the individual to society. This means that after the revolution, a network of high-quality childcare facilities, public laundry rooms, and free canteens/restaurants will be available, paid for by the expropriated wealth of the rich.
IX. The Agrarian Question and the Liberation of Peasants in the Semi-Colonial World
84. Are the peasants in the semi-colonial world oppressed?
The huge majority of the peasants in semi-colonial countries possess either only a very small piece of land or none at all. There exists only a small minority of middle-class and wealthy peasants. The small and landless peasants are exploited by big agro-corporations (e.g., Monsanto), the banks (via high interest rates for loans) or by large landowners. The RCIT considers the small and landless peasantry as an important ally of the working class in the struggle for revolution.
85. Are the peasants a revolutionary class?
They are a revolutionary class insofar as they are ready to fight against the agro-corporations and big landowners, as well as the banks and the capitalist state. However, they cannot fight independently but only under the leadership of the working class. They also tend to have conservative and individualist tendencies and focus on gaining a piece of land for themselves.
86. What will the socialist revolution offer the peasants?
When the working class takes power, it will immediately liberate the peasants from the yoke of the banks, the agro-corporations, and the large landowners. It will abolish all peasants’ debts, expropriate the large landowners, and nationalize the land in order to distribute it to the small and landless peasants so that they can use it for productive purposes.
86. Do communists prefer individual or collective ownership of the land?
The RCIT considers the collective ownership of the land and the formation of big state farms as the most efficient form of production. However we strongly oppose taking the land of the small peasants away against their wishes (as it was the case in the USSR under Stalin). We want to convince the peasants of the superiority of collective ownership of land. Collectivization, therefore, must be voluntarily. In order to convince peasants, we promote the voluntary association of peasants to cooperatives and the formation of model state farms.
X. For the Rights of Migrants!
87. What are the different forms of migrant oppression?
a) Migrants receive lower wages than their native colleagues for the same work. The education and skills they received in their countries of origin is not recognized, in part or full, in their new countries. b) Migrants are disproportionally over-represented in the lower layers of the working class. They receive lower pensions.
c) The national culture and language of migrants are suppressed.
d) Migrants suffer legal discrimination (only limited residence permission or none at all; only limited labor permission or none at all; deportations; no voting rights; etc.).
e) Migrants are persecution by fascists and racists.
f) Migrants are the victims of ideological oppression by means of xenophobic ideas and humiliation.
88. How do we fight against the oppression of migrants?
We advocate a revolutionary movement of migrants. We stand for the closest possible union of all workers and oppressed. We combine the struggle for socialism with the struggle for national and social liberation of the migrants, as these issues can not be separated. While oppression of migrants will exist as long as capitalism is not overthrown, we fight for the rights of migrants today, especially those of working men and women. There is only a very small layer of migrant capitalists and a slightly larger layer of small business owners. This minority of migrant capitalists are also our enemies because they are exploiters. However, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois migrants often have great influence in the migrants clubs and associations. This influence must be broken to win the migrant workers for a socialist perspective.
There are differences between migrants from imperialist and from semi-colonial countries. Migrants from imperialist countries usually experience a much less oppression if they live in imperialist countries. If they live in the semi-colonies, they are even partially privileged. Migrants from semi-colonies are a nationally oppressed and super-exploited minority in imperialist countries. The majority of them provide a source of cheap labor. Even in the semi-colonies, they are often in a similar situation.
89. What is the principle of ”Equal pay for equal work”?
We fight for the application of this principle to all working men and women, especially for particularly oppressed layers (migrants, women, national minorities, and young people). It means that every worker must not be discriminated against in employment due to his or her origin, age, or sex. Women, migrant, national minority, and youth workers should receive the same wage as their male, native, national majority, adult colleagues.
90. What is the demand for the "right to one’s mother tongue?
The “right to one’s mother tongue” recognizes the right of all persons who live in a country to speak in their native language in public institutions. There must be the opportunity to be educated at schools and universities in their own language. We advocate the possibility of learning other languages for free (also during working hours).
91. What do we say if someone is wearing a headscarf or a turban or wants to live according to his or her native culture?
We say that this is the right of each and every person. This reflects the national identity of migrants, which is oppressed by the imperialist state. We say that everyone must have the right to live by his or her culture (food regulations, customs, holidays, clothes, music, etc.), as long as he or she does not thereby impinge the right of someone else. We support the right to wear the headscarf or turban at school or at the workplace. At the same time we reject any coercion to do so.
XI. For the Rights of Young People and Homosexuals!
92. How are young people oppressed?
a) Young people receive lower wages than their adult colleagues for the same work.
b) Young people are dependent on their parents.
c) Young people are discriminated against legally (particularly if they are under the age of 18).
d) Young people are more vulnerable targets of sexual oppression by means of abuse and rape.
93. How are homosexuals and transsexuals oppressed?
a) Homosexuals and transsexuals are discriminated against legally.
b) Homosexuals and transsexualsare persecuted by fascists and reactionary forces.
c) Homosexuals and transsexualsare the victims of abuse, sexual violence, and prostitution.
d) Homosexuals and transsexualsare the victims of ideological oppression by means of anti-gay or lesbian hate propaganda, humiliation and, education.
94. Why do we fight for equal rights for homosexuals, transsexuals, and young people?
In the world, for which we are fighting, there can be no room for discrimination of any human being because of their age or sexual orientation. Young people and homosexuals are particularly discriminated against groups in our class. They need not only our solidarity, but they are also an active part in our joint struggle for socialism.
95. Can you fight for communism and, at the same time, believe in God?
Yes. Although many fighters for communism not believe in God, there is no contradiction between participation in the communist struggle and religious belief. We respect the religious feelings of people as long as they do not oppress other people because of their religion (or ”non- religion,” i.e., atheism). Throughout history, both the rich and the poor have used religion for their goals. Christianity was used by both the slave owners and the slaves in the southern United States. There are religious Muslims who fight both against US imperialism and Israel, as well as those who support them (e.g., the governments of the Gulf monarchies, Turkey). For communists, generally, it is more important what you think about this world than about the hereafter.
XII. Our History and Traditions
96. Are traditions bourgeois?
Each class has their own traditions, values, and history. Bourgeois history, for example, praises generals, kings, and exploiters. Our history praises slave revolts, peasant wars, and workers revolutions. Therefore, we also have very different traditions: the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie remember coronations, the founding of empires by exploiters, or religious holidays. We remember heroic uprising of the oppressed or important steps in the liberation of mankind.
97. What are the holidays for the working class?