Archive: Documents from the LRCI and LFI

LRCI: The Trotskyist Manifesto (1989)

League for a Revolutionary Communist International, Summer 1989

 


Below we reprint the founding document of the predecessor organization of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) - the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI). This program was adopted at its congress in summer 1989. Naturally, a number of aspects of this program are already outdated or have been enhanced. The actual program of the RCIT, adopted in spring 2012, can be read here.


* * * * *


1989 Preface to the English Language Edition

 

During 1989 the foundations of the world order were shaken. The magnitude of the upheavals in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union can scarcely be underestimated. They will profoundly affect the future of these states and Stalinism as a force within the world labour movement. Whilst the epicentre of this earthquake is found in Moscow its shock waves have hit Washington, Tokyo, Bonn and London. From Central America to Southern Africa the impact of Stalinism's crisis has been felt.

 

Beginning with the February electoral debacle of the Polish United Workers' Party and later the dissolution of the Hungarian Stalinist party, the concessions on civil liberties in these two states lit the fuse that was to explode the charges under the monolith of the Stalinist regimes in the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia.

 

In these countries beleaguered circles of dissident intellectuals gave way to mass movements of millions in a matter of weeks. Without the support and even with the security of the Kremlin, Honecker and Jakes came crashing down from their bureaucratic pedestals. Oppositionists who had been imprisoned were invited into dialogue and negotiations. An era of power sharing, pluralism and free elections was promised.

 

These events reverberated in the "west". German imperialism stepped forward to voice its own project of a reunited capitalist Germany. The US administration and its British adjunct were caught without a policy beyond a visceral desire to restore capitalism in Eastern Europe. They recognise in Gorbachev and the "reformers" people willing to assist them in the dismantling the planned property relations. But the imperialists are deeply uncertain as to how far to go with economic aid and the dissolving of alliances.

 

Even if the USA had the resources equivalent to the Marshal Aid Programme that saved Western Europe for capitalism in the 1940s, Pouring this volume of investment into states where the capitalist class has yet to be re-established would be a gamble of major proportions.

 

Likewise, to undertake a dismantling of NATO in conditions where a return to power of the hardliners is far from impossible is a risk they dare not take. Yet if they make no concessions of substance, what will happen to the reformers' uncompleted market "reforms"?

 

For these reasons the first flush of rejoicings amongst the imperialist leaders who launched the new Cold War has given way to dark mutterings about the dangers of instability. They preach the need for caution and the preservation of alliances-even or rather especially those of the "enemy". The governments of Bush and Thatcher, Kohl and Mitterrand clearly fear the spectre of revolution even when it appears to be bearing the gift of capitalist restoration. Why? Because they fear the unleashing of class struggle in these countries above everything-a struggle in which they may be obliged to take sides, a struggle which will open the rifts and conflicts of interest amongst themselves.

 

The USA, Britain and France clearly fear that Germany and Japan their defeated rivals of forty years along ago-may begin a whole new career of political and military independence and rivalry. For the Anglo-Saxon powers any fundamental change is likely to be for the worse.

 

Yet if the forces of world imperialism are obliged to temper their public rejoicings with private anxiety, the forces of world Stalinism are in open disarray. Those, like the Euro-communists who had during the mid1970s period of detente come close to Social Democracy, welcome not only the collapse of the unbridled dictatorship of the bureaucracy, but also shout for joy at the impending collapse of planned property. Like all converts they try to outdo the old believers in the fervour of their devotion to the "mixed economy", to market forces-in short, to capitalism. No abuse is too strong to hurl at the god who failed. Not only Stalinism but the October Revolution itself is vilified. The most important political event in twentieth century history is now an embarrassment to those who wish to fly headlong into the arms of the Social Democrats.

 

The erstwhile Stalinist parties of Eastern and Western Europe are forming an excited and disorderly queue at the portals of the Socialist International. The "party of Gramsci and Togliatti" can scarcely wait to transform itself into the Italian Labour Party and to bury the symbols of its past, the hammer and sickle.

 

Yet these unseemly celebrations cannot but alarm the vanguard workers who had falsely identified Stalinism with a more militant, class struggle policy and thought of it as some sort of builder of socialism. This anxiety will be shared by many on the left wing of Social Democracy and subjective revolutionaries who, whilst they never thought the USSR and its satellites were a socialist heaven on earth, at least saw them as bastions against the unbridled dominance of world capitalism. In the semi colonial world national liberation fighters also look with the gravest concern on the collapse of powers which, however capriciously and self-servingly, did occasionally supply them with arms, with training and with a place of exile.

 

Yet to all these vanguard fighters we have to say-it is not the god of socialism, communism or the planned economy that has failed, but the monstrous idol of Stalinism. For half of this century it stood apparently unshakable. Yet there was one voice that predicted its downfall-that of Leon Trotsky.

 

Trotsky analysed the fearful contradictions that lay beneath the monolithic facade. He predicted-albeit on too short a time-scale-its disintegration. But his error was of time-scale not one of substance. It was an error similar to those made in an earlier period by Marx, Engels Lenin and with all those for whom theory is a guide to revolutionary practice and not a form of intellectual consolation. It was Trotsky who realised that no bureaucratic tyranny erected on post-capitalist property relations could survive. The latter only made sense, could only develop and expand, could only conquer capitalism on a world scale if they were the tools of the conscious, revolutionary proletariat. He insisted against the combined forces of Stalinism and imperialism, against the Third and the Second Internationals that Stalin was not the continuer of Lenin's work, but its destroyer; not the great leader of world revolution, but its grave-digger.

 

As a result the Trotskyists had to be annihilated in the USSR, as indeed they were, by the tens of thousands, fifty years ago. Stalin's murderous hand was to reach out to the leaders of the young and weak Fourth International and finally to strike down Trotsky himself. Yet history, however painfully and slowly at times it seems to work, undermines and brings to destruction everything, no matter how powerful and imposing, that is based on force and fraud. Stalinism has proved itself an illegitimate, temporary setback in the proletariat's struggle for its own emancipation.

 

Amidst the thunder and crash of its disintegration we, the Trotskyists, have least of all cause for pessimism or mourning. Neither shall we indulge in the smug self-satisfaction of the venal leaders of Social Democracy. We turn-full of revolutionary optimism-to the workers of the

 

degenerate(d) workers' states. They are being roused to struggle for elementary civil liberties, for a decent standard of living, against the obscenity of bureaucratic privilege and are impelled to recreate a living workers' movement, factory councils and trade unions. We turn to these workers recognising that in the first instance the leaders they may find will be more or less hidden agents of the world bourgeoisie. But if this bourgeoisie successfully enters the workers' states, it will bear not only the offerings of consumer society, but also gross inequality, unemployment, and mass poverty. This ensures that if capitalism were to triumph then the class struggle will continue against the bourgeoisie and its agents.

 

Here and now we sound the alarm bells against the surrender of the nationalised economy, the monopoly of foreign trade and the centralised plan. With them goes the partial and inadequate commitment to full employment and the right to work. With them goes the equally inadequate social services and welfare system. These insufficient gains discredited even by the Stalinists identification of them with "actually existing socialism"-must be built on and not abandoned. They are the prerequisites for the transition to genuine socialism and can be used as such once they are £reed from the grip of the bureaucratic tyrants.

 

For actually existing capitalism is not the consumer dream-realised only to some extent in the lives of the west's bloated middle classes and labour aristocracy. It is the poverty, exploitation and starvation of three quarters of humanity. The fate of most of the workers' states, if the working class fails to defend its gains, will be similar-semi-colonial servitude and super-exploitation.

 

The working class can and will rise to this task and there is only one programme adequate to this task, that of the Trotskyists. Yet, this programme, as Trotsky wrote it, has long been abandoned by most of

 

those who now call themselves his followers. This programme-the Transitional Programme-has long gathered dust on their bookshelves whilst his successors have aped and parodied every passing fad and fashion in the world labour movement: Stalinism, Labourism, Maoism, Castroism, Sandinism, feminism and ecologism. Like chameleons they have appeared only in the colours of their surroundings. Consequently for forty years the programme of Leon Trotsky has made no solid conquests. This situation was historically explicable given the temporary strength of Stalinism and Social Democracy and the treason of the epigones such as Mandel, Lambert and Healey. But the historic changes now taking place open the road for the triumph of the Trotskyist programme. The pre-conditions for this are that this programme should be developed and elaborated to meet tasks not existing fifty years ago and that an internationally organised force of cadres exists to fight for new revolutionary parries and a new international. But the most essential pre-condition is that the defenders of this programme and the builders of this international party "disdain to conceal their views and aims", in Marx's words, and that "they openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions".

 

Today, these conditions include imperialist capitalism and moribund Stalinism. Our manifesto, our programme, is for the resolution of the long crisis of leadership that Stalinism and Social Democracy inflicted on the world labour movement. It is the programme for the revolutionary self-emancipation of the working class and for the liberation of the whole of exploited and oppressed humanity. Workers-in the semi-colonial, Stalinist and imperialist countries forward to the world socialist revolution!

 

London, December 1989

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The Marxist programme is based on the principles of scientific socialism. It analyses all social and political development from the standpoint of dialectical materialism. It asserts that the class struggle is the motor force of history and it recognises the working class as the only consistently revolutionary class. However, whilst the general Marxist programme embodies the theoretical method of dialectical materialism and the strategic goals of socialism, the great programmatic contributions in the history of the Marxist movement have been focused on the practical tasks flowing from these fundamental principles. They embody the strategy and tactics to achieve the general goals and do not separate these questions off from the programme. There is no brick wall between strategy, tactics and principles in the Marxist programme. This is clear from the Communist Manifesto through to the Transitional Programme of 1938. With this method we set out to develop the programme of the LRCI.

 

Social Democracy continues to peddle the minimum-maximum programme pioneered in the epoch of free competition capitalism. This programme was characterised by the rigid separation of the minimum demands (economic or political reforms achievable within the framework of capitalism) and the maximum goal of socialism. This separation of the two elements of the programme, enshrined in German Social Democracy's "Erfurt Programme", was the basis of its opportunist interpretation and application by the developing reformist wing of the Second International. Present day Social Democracy differs from its classical forebears only in the ever increasing feebleness of its pleadings for minimal reforms and in the ever decreasing use it has for holiday speechifying about socialism.

 

In the epoch of free competition capitalism the working class, especially in Europe, was obliged to fight for a series of economic and political rights in order to build an organised mass movement of trade unions and political parties. However, in this very process a reformist bureaucracy was crystallised out of the labour aristocracy. For this bureaucracy selected elements of the minimum programme, achieved by purely peaceful, legal and parliamentary methods, were ends in themselves. This stood in sharp contrast to the position of Engels and Lenin who argued that they were only means for developing an actual struggle for socialism. The onset of the imperialist epoch strengthened the reformist bureaucracy considerably. Exploiting the methodological weakness of the minimum-maximum programme, it enforced the rigid separation of the struggle for reforms from any revolutionary perspective for the overthrow of capitalism.

 

Reformism's strategic goal was to ensure a position of influence for itself within capitalism. To this end it attempted to subordinate working class struggles, transforming parliamentary electoral tactics into its central strategy for obtaining reforms under capitalism. World Stalinism, and even sections of petit bourgeois nationalism, misleads the masses with a variation of the minimum-maximum programme: the programme of stages based on the theory of socialism in one country. This programme and theory was fashioned by the conservative bureaucracy of the USSR in the 1920s during the period of its political counter-revolution against the working class. According to the programme of stages, the existence of the Soviet Union means that it is possible for revolutions to pass through a democratic stage prior to a peaceful evolution towards socialism. The theory argues that this democratic stage (variously called advanced democracy, people's democracy, anti -imperialist democracy) is rigidly separated from a socialist stage. Capitalism must be preserved during the democratic stage and socialism can then gradually and peacefully evolve according to the unique laws operating in each country.

 

This rehash of Menshevism is a cynical policy by the bureaucracy to limit the struggles against capitalism and be rewarded for its services with an endless period of peaceful co-existence with imperialism. This variation of the minimum-maximum programme, even in its most "left" form which argues that the implementation of the democratic stage cannot be left to the bourgeoisie but must be led by the proletariat, is a noose around the neck of the proletariat and the oppressed. Its consequence is always counter-revolution either by a capitalist class able to regroup during the "democratic" stage (Chile, Portugal, Iran) or by a Stalinist bureaucracy obliged to liquidate capitalism to defend itself, but only on the condition that it has already successfully politically expropriated the working class-as in Eastern Europe, China: Indo-China, and Cuba.

 

Whether in its Stalinist or Social Democratic garb the minimum maximum programme has outlived its progressive role and has been transformed into a means of obstructing not only the fight for socialism, but even an effective fight to win or defend reforms. Capitalism can provide neither permanent systematic social reforms nor lasting and fully-fledged bourgeois democracy. To solve its recurrent crises the bourgeoisie is obliged to attack every serious economic gain together with the political rights of the working class. The struggle to accommodate to such a system by the bureaucracy can only mean sacrificing even the minimum programme to the needs of the profit system. The defence of working class interests demands economic and political warfare against capitalism, even to achieve a decent wage or to secure a job.

 

The limits of the minimum-maximum programme are felt over the entire globe. Imperialism is incapable of overseeing radical and consistent agrarian reform or sustaining parliamentary democracy in much of the semi-colonial world. Despite periods of boom, and the attendant granting of reforms by capitalism to some sections of the world working class, this apparent justification for the minimum programme is only superficial. Even the proletariats of the most highly developed countries increasingly need a programme that links the most immediate defensive struggles with the main task of the epoch, the struggle for working class power. To advance the spontaneous class struggle towards socialist goals a bridge is needed. The programme of transitional demands is such a bridge.

 

Such demands were first systematically presented in Trotsky's Transitional Programme. Yet Marx and Engels formulated a set of transitional demands in the 1848 Communist Manifesto. Later, Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, followed by the Communist International (Comintern), at its first four congresses, formulated focused action programmes based on the transitional method. But Trotsky's 1938 work, the programmatic basis of the Fourth International, was the clearest and most complete expression of the programmatic development that had occurred in the preceding ninety years of Marxism. At every stage the programmatic declarations of Marxism were enriched as capitalist society developed. In each case the Marxists have found it necessary to refine and re-elaborate the programme in the light of experience, which, in Trotsky's words, is the supreme criterion of human re3son. In 1938 Trotsky produced a sharply focused action programme addressing the key questions of the day and answering them in the light of the experience of the previous two decades of struggle and crisis throughout the world. It embodied the lessons from the collapses of the first three Interntionals) as well as from the contributions that they made during their healthy years. It was a re-elaborated programme of revolutionary Marxism.

 

Fifty years on profound developments in world imperialism) world Stalinism) the semi-colonies) the struggles of the world working class and the oppressed all oblige us to re-elaborate the Transitional Programme. This we have done and our programme) like the 1938 programme) is a development of the previous programmes of revolutionary Marxism to date) not a break from them. It stands on the shoulders of the preceding gains of revolutionary Marxism. It bases itself on their method and incorporates all of their essential features as well as many of their demands. Like the preceding programmes it will have to be broken down into action programmes for particular countries) conjunctures or sections in struggle. Such action programmes will) like Trotsky’s own Action Programme for France) contain all of the key elements of the general programme itself but will sharply focus them to a particular situation or country.

 

Our programme is a world programme for the world party of socialist revolution) focused towards the burning problems characteristic of the crisis wracked closing years of the twentieth century. It is a programme of transition towards the socialist revolution and as such applies with full force to imperialist countries and semi-colonies alike. But it is equally a programme for the transition to socialism within the workers) states. It addresses the urgent tasks facing the workers in those states where capitalism has been abolished but where the Stalinist bureaucracy has politically expropriated the working class and the actual transition to socialism has) as a result) been blocked. It is a guide to action for the millions struggling to resolve the problems facing humanity. It is a programme that can pave the way to a society based on the satisfaction of human need) not one based on either the lust for profit or the satisfaction of the needs of a parasitic bureaucracy.

 

While our programme contains, at its core, a focused action programme similar to that of the 1938 programme it is also obliged to address problems not dealt with in that document. As a re-elaborated programme, it has had to confront the fact that the continuity of the revolutionary Marxist movement was broken in 1951 with the degeneration of the Fourth International into centrism. A period of almost forty years has elapsed since this degeneration. Perspectives, tactics and strategy during those forty years have never been analysed in a revolutionary manner, nor embodied in a consistently revolutionary programme. The lessons of the major events during this period-the creation of degenerate workers' states, the long imperialist boom, the anti-imperialist struggles and lessons of the key class struggles and revolutionary situations-have not been incorporated into a series of programmes, theses and documents. Instead the record of the centrists emerging from the Fourth International is one of systematic errors, of various opportunist or sectarian distortions of the Marxist programme.

 

Our programme is, therefore, not based on an unbroken record of revolutionary positions and cannot base itself, as the 1938 programme could, on fifteen years of documents, positions, theses and programmes (from the Left Opposition through to the founding of the Fourth International). It is obliged to be more analytical, more expansive, than the 1938 programme needed to be. If Trotsky thought that in 1938 he was obliged to include more commentary than was proper in a programme we have had to do so to a far greater extent. In this sense it is an attempt not only to guide the struggles of millions, but also to clearly define the LRCI as against the many varieties of centrism that claim to represent Trotskyism. It also has to demonstrate to the militants of such tendencies, as well as to those of other organisations within the world workers' movement, the lessons we need to draw from the past period and the answers to the crises which will arise in the future.

 

Clearly our programme is far from being the last word on the international class struggle and the tactics and strategy for revolution. Since 1984 the Movement for a Revolutionary Communist International (now the League for a Revolutionary Communist International-LRCI) has formulated resolutions and theses on the important questions of the international class struggle. They form a supplement to this programme. In addition we recognise that discussion with militants from countries where the LRCI has, as yet, no presence will enable us to enrich and develop the world character of our programme further. But we are firmly convinced that we have produced a programme that serves as the bedrock for such development. This programme, which in its method, its analysis, its demands and its tactics and strategy, embodies the living spirit of revolutionary Marxism, lays the basis for the re-establishment of authentic Trotskyism on a world scale.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 - The crisis of proletarian leadership

 

Capitalism, even in its imperialist death agony, will not depart the scene automatically. It needs to be consciously overthrown by the working class. For this to happen, a new revolutionary vanguard must be forged. This vanguard requires a conscious strategic plan, a programme and a working class vanguard party.

 

Today the central problem facing humanity remains: who leads the working class? On the eve of the last inter-imperialist war capitalism was gripped by a general economic depression which was plunging the whole world irreversibly into a revolutionary crisis. Trotsky's Transitional Programme, written in these years, pronounced that the crisis of humanity was reduced to the crisis of leadership. However, today it would be wrong simply to repeat that all contemporary crises are "reduced to a crisis of leadership".

 

The proletariat worldwide does not yet face the stark alternative of either taking power or seeing the destruction of all its past gains. Nevertheless, in many countries and, indeed, whole continents, the crisis of leadership does reach such a level of acuteness. Even in countries where this is not so a chronic crisis afflicts the workers' organisations, bringing about defeat, stagnation and even decline as a result of the repeated betrayals of the reformist leaders. Capitalism's inability to meet the basic needs of millions makes it both possible and necessary to transform the defensive struggles of the workers and poor peasants into the struggle for power. Yet none of the existing leaderships of the working class are willing or able to carry through such a fight. They are tied to the interests of the bourgeoisie or the parasitic bureaucracy of the Stalinist states. The imperialist bourgeoisie has long used its resources to sow divisions in the proletariat and even to accept the existence of a privileged layer, a "labour aristocracy", whose living standards were substantially better than those of the mass of the working class. This section of the working class formed the principal basis for a "labour bureaucracy" whose role was to negotiate with capital and whose spontaneous political outlook, therefore, was one of class collaboration.

 

In Europe, by 1914, the mass workers' parties had become dominated by the politics of the collaborators. This was true both of parties like the British Labour Party, which had been a reformist party from its foundation, and of the Social Democratic parties which maintained a formal adherence to Marxism. It culminated in the betrayal of the working class by the leaders of the Second (Socialist) International. In 1914 they became recruiting sergeants for the imperialist war. Then, as a wave of revolutions swept Europe (1917-23) they openly sided with bourgeois counter-revolution against the working masses.

 

Social Democracy thus took on its fundamental shape. It became strategically wedded both to the capitalist economy and the capitalist state, albeit in the idealised forms of state capitalism and bourgeois democracy. This was true even where capitalism had not yet developed fully-fledged labour aristocracies and bureaucracies. In Russia, for example, the Mensheviks, arguing for a long period of bourgeois democracy as a necessary stage of development, opposed the workers' revolution and took up arms against it. For the reformists, direct action and military force were measures that could only be utilised against the opponents of their bourgeois democratic goals, never as means of defeating the opponents of the working class.

 

The degeneration of the Comintern

 

The Comintern was formed out of the consistent fighters against Social Democracy's betrayals during the post-1917 revolutionary period. In its first four congresses the Comintern began to re-elaborate the revolutionary programme for the imperialist epoch. But it degenerated into bureaucratic centrism after 1923 under the impact of the political counterrevolution in the Soviet Union. The goal of world revolution was replaced by the reactionary utopia of "socialism in one country". The centrist communist parties led the working class to bloody and unnecessary defeats in China (1927) and Germany (1933).

 

After the defeat of the German masses in 1933, Trotsky considered that the Comintern had become irreformable. Later that year he declared that the Comintern, having failed to recognise and to correct its mistakes, was, whilst still bureaucratic centrist, irreformable and, "dead for the purposes of revolution". He, therefore, demanded, in the first instance, the building of a new party in Germany and then a new International world-wide, although the Stalinists had not yet definitively passed over to the camp of counter-revolution.

 

In 1934-35 the Comintern completed its evolution into a counter-revolutionary International. It concluded a strategic alliance with the bourgeoisie of the so called "democratic" imperialisms in the name of a new "strategy", that of the popular front. This class collaborationist policy was imposed on the sections of the Comintern by the Kremlin bureaucracy, in order to satisfy its diplomatic needs. The Stalinist bureaucracy, trying to establish a utopian "peaceful coexistence" with "democratic" imperialism and its allies, transformed the Communist Parties of those states into reformist parties preaching collaboration and "peaceful co-existence" between classes. It commended to the masses the defence of their own imperialisms, thus following Social Democracy into the ranks of counter-revolution. The turn to social patriotism coincided with the liquidation of the old Bolshevik vanguard in the Moscow Show Trials. In the second phase of the Second World War, after the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the Stalinists in non-Axis countries became super-patriots and, in countries occupied by the Nazis or at war with Germany, gained a new mass following.

 

Today, these parties are hostile to the proletarian revolution, the self emancipation of the working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat based on soviets. Despite the stolen banner of communism they remain hostile to the goal of a communist, i.e. a classless and stateless, society. As such they are not the opposite of Social Democracy but its twin, sharing with it the ideology of social patriotism and reformism. The loyalty of the Stalinist parties to their own bourgeoisies cannot be as total as that of the Social Democrats because of the support they give to, and receive from, the bureaucracy of the degenerated workers' state. Despite the advanced tendencies to "social democratisation" exhibited by certain Parties they cannot simply evolve into Social Democracy without a rupture. Even where the Stalinist parties have virtually eclipsed their Social Democratic rivals to become the major working class parties with a political practice essentially the same as the Social Democrats of other countries, their differing origins, structures and traditions set them apart, both in the eyes of the working class and of the bourgeoisie. Nonetheless, the division between Social Democracy and Stalinism is a division within reformism. Neither can be thought to have evolved into purely bourgeois parties, without internal splits, simply because of their ideological abandonment of programmatic pledges to "social ownership" or the "proletarian dictatorship". For this, a rupture with their organic links to the proletariat would have to occur. Even fascism could not completely extinguish Social Democratic and Stalinist reformism. Their existence will only be ended when revolutionaries have won political dominance in the class.

 

Both the Stalinist and Social Democratic parties are servants of the bourgeois world order, yet both are rooted in organisations that the proletariat has created to fight for its class interests. Both are dominated by a privileged bureaucracy that selves the imperialist bourgeoisie. The fundamental roots of Social Democracy are within capitalist society. Stalinism's historic roots lie in the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union and, therefore, in post-capitalist property relations. But Stalinism is no less a servant of the bourgeoisie than Social Democracy. Through its political dictatorship of the Soviet Union, and the other degenerate workers' states, it blocks the advance to socialism and discredits the very goal of a classless, stateless society communism. It blocks the internationalisation of the revolution, spreading chauvinism and class collaboration. It objectively promotes the potential for capitalist restoration within the workers' states and, in a decisive crisis, will provide in its upper layers the cadres for social counter-revolution.

 

The contradictory character that Stalinism and Social Democracy share is best summed up in the characterisation that they are bourgeois workers' parties. Neither is qualitatively preferable to the other. Of course, the fact that a party possesses a Social Democratic or Stalinist ideology does not, of itself, prove that it is a bourgeois workers' party. Significant numbers of parties of the Socialist International are bourgeois nationalist parties without any decisive organic links to their own proletariat. On the other hand there are Stalinist parties whose social base is the peasantry or the urban or rural petit-bourgeoisie. Yet, as world tendencies, both retain the character of bourgeois workers' parties

 

In certain countries towards the end of the Second World War revolutionary struggles developed (e.g. in Italy, the Balkans and France). But the combined forces of Social Democracy and Stalinism resolutely dissipated the spontaneous will of the masses to settle accounts with their discredited bourgeoisies. The Social Democratic parties and the Communist Parties, having performed their role as agents of democratic counter-revolution, were thrust to one side by the capitalists who then installed, wherever possible, openly bourgeois parties at the helm of the booming economies of the 1950s and 1960s.

 

The late 1960s initiated a new period of intense class struggle in the imperialist heartlands, invariably started from below by a confident and well organised working class. Throughout Europe the Stalinist and Social Democratic leaders and their trade union allies successfully fought to contain these struggles, to keep them within the limits of legality and official organisation. In France, Portugal and Spain, Stalinism and Social Democracy were given the chance to demonstrate yet again their counter-revolutionary loyalty to capitalism. With serious defeats in many countries of Western Europe by the mid 1970s, the European workers' movement was again thrown back and pacified for the next period.

 

By the onset of the second major recession, that of 1979-82, the existing leaderships had successfully demobilised working class resistance, opening the proletariat of the imperialist countries to a decade of austerity, anti-union laws and attacks on democratic rights. In government the traitors were only too happy to preside over and to initiate these attacks. Thus in the 1980s the crisis of leadership in the imperialist heartlands takes the form of the inability of the working class to resist the attacks of the Thatcherite-Reaganite economic liberals with its own existing parties, unions and politics, With the discrediting of Keynesian, social-liberal welfarism, with its "mixed economy" and state intervention in the economy, the Social Democratic and Stalinist Parties are thrown into ideological and policy crisis. The bourgeoisie does not want their old programme and, at the same time, that programme is pitifully inadequate to the needs of a working class hit by austerity and unemployment. The trade union bureaucracy cannot mount effective resistance to the attacks. The centrist forces of the 1970s are shrunken and demoralised. Yet the working class has fought back against its enemies. Massive and bitter workers' struggles have marked the 1980s, but not one of them has been able to gain a decisive victory. Only a new leadership and a new programme can solve the chronic crisis in the workers' movement of the imperialist heartlands. . In the degenerate(d) workers' states, the Stalinist bureaucracy has f I managed to discredit the very idea of socialism and communism in the r I eyes of the working class. The ruling castes have failed to legitimise their role in these societies, have failed to overcome the fundamental objection to their very existence: they are unnecessary to-indeed are a drain upon- the system of planned property relations.

 

In the post-war decades this caste has tried to shore up its rule by lurching from market experiments (to overcome stagnation) to a tightening of bureaucratic command in the economy. This experience has created factional strife within the bureaucracies and even political openings for an opposition from below.

 

The working class of the degenerate(d) workers' states has repeatedly proved itself to be the most determined force in this opposition. More than once it has hurled itself against bureaucratic privilege and political oppression. In the post-war era this struggle has taken the workers to the brink of proletarian political revolution. This has been demonstrated by the creation of soviets (Hungary 1956) and proto-soviet bodies (the inter-factory committees in Poland 1980 and China 1989).

 

But the absence of a political revolutionary strategy means that it has been defeated in every major political revolutionary crisis. Its spontaneous struggles have generated ideas that have served both to leave the power of the bureaucracy intact and, in certain instances, to positively strengthen the forces for capitalist restoration.

 

In Hungary and Poland in 1956 misplaced hopes in a section of the bureaucracy led the working class to ultimate defeat. Syndicalism and trade unionism, as with Solidarnosc in Poland, led the struggle away from the goal of political power and diverted it into a utopian struggle for independent trade unions co-existing with bureaucratic rule. Even the left wing of Solidarnosc peddled the illusion that self-managed enterprises rather than workers' management of the centralised planning mechanisms could overcome the crisis of the command economy.

 

In the USSR, nationalism strengthens the hand of bourgeois and clerical restorationists. In Eastern Europe and China, the workers aspire to parliamentary democracy, a sentiment that springs from the experience of a stifling autocracy. The bloody slaughter of the courageous forces of China's "Democracy Movement" by the tyrants of the Chinese Communist Party, served only to strengthen the bourgeois democratic current within the opposition movement.

 

But these hopes in "democracy", emptied of a working class content, are a cruel deception, one fostered by imperialism to ease the passage of the masses of these countries into the camp of capitalist exploitation. Without revolutionary leadership, and a revolutionary programme, the break up of Stalinism in its heartlands will benefit only a ruling minority inside these states. By contrast a majority of the multi-national firms within the imperialist countries will prosper.

 

Without revolutionary leadership the potential for political revolution, embodied in the events of Hungary 1956 and China 1989, cannot be realised. Without such leadership the ruling Stalinist parties will continue to be either the handmaidens of capitalist restoration or the harbingers of military bureaucratic retribution.

 

Stalinism against permanent revolution

 

The counter-revolutionary character of Stalinism is also expressed in its violent opposition to the perspective and programme of permanent revolution in the semi-colonies and wherever bourgeois democratic questions assume a revolutionary importance. Social Democracy has been less enduring in the semi-colonies. In these countries the labour aristocracy and labour trade union bureaucracy has been less firmly established because of the under-developed nature of capitalism. Also the more craven legalism and parliamentarism of Social Democracy has ensured that it more completely disappears when democracy and parliaments themselves fall victim to Bonapartism or dictatorship. From Indonesia through Chile to South Africa today, Stalinism has clung to the perspective of a democratic stage, which excludes the fight for working class power, but embraces all kinds of bourgeois, petit bourgeois, clerical and military Bonapartist allies. This popular frontist strategy which ushered in democratic counter-revolution after 1945 has resulted since then in bloody and decisive defeats in key revolutionary situations.

 

In Indonesia the PKI, the largest Stalinist party in the capitalist world, entered the left nationalist government of Sukarno in 1965, claiming it to be at the head of a "people's state". Unarmed and unwarned by their leaders, the masses of the PKI were then slaughtered by the military. This disaster bears direct comparison with events in China in 1927 and Germany in 1933.

 

In Chile, Stalinism and the Social Democratic Socialist Party led the workers and poor peasants to disaster. Allende's government, installed in 1970, was a popular front whose programme was limited to reforms. Allende renounced from the outset the arming of the workers and guaranteed the reactionary high command a monopoly of armed force.

 

Nevertheless, spontaneous working class militancy led to the creation of cordones industrial, proto-soviets, and even badly armed militias. It led to demands for expropriations which Allende stood firmly against. Economic crisis and sabotage created the climate for a coup d'etat by Pinochet in September 1973, which left tens of thousands dead, tortured or imprisoned and hundreds of thousands forced to flee the country. In Iran, the Stalinist Tudeh Party participated in the mass overthrow of the Shah, only to support the imposition of Khomeini's Islamic Republic. In the name of revolutionary loyalty the Tudeh assisted Islamic reaction in the slaughter of masses of workers, leftists and Kurdish rebels. In return Khomeini unleashed his repressive apparatus against the Tudeh itself.

 

As the leading force within the ANC, the South African Communist Party squandered a revolutionary opportunity with its policy of using the township revolts to seek negotiations with the "enlightened" wing of South African imperialism. Now, it is beating a retreat from all forms of revolutionary activity in the interests of the "global stability" sought by the Kremlin. The bankruptcy of Stalinism and Social Democracy has prolonged the life of bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalism among wide sections of the semi-colonial working class. Despite their occasional ability to speak and act more radically than the workers' parties, the mass nationalist movements and parties remain incapable of solving the plight of the workers and peasants. Garcia's APRA, the Mexican PRI, the FSLN, the PLO, and Sinn Fein all remain strategically tied to capitalism. Their acts of defiance against imperialism are carried out only so long as the working class is absent, as an independent force, from the struggle. Once challenged by the distinct demands of the exploited, these "anti-imperialists" become the abject defenders of imperialism.

 

Unless a revolutionary party can dislodge all these forces from the leadership of the working class they threaten to repeat their mistakes in the mighty class battles ahead. To prevent this it is essential, in what remains of the twentieth century that the class conscious vanguard of workers and poor peasants throughout the world is regrouped around an international transitional programme.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 - A programme of transitional demands

 

The present period is punctuated by defensive mass economic struggles in the imperialist countries, by actual or latent political revolutionary crises in the degenerate(d) workers' states, and by pre-revolutionary and revolutionary crises in the semi-colonial countries. This continuing unevenness makes it impossible to speak, as Trotsky did in 1938, of a general world pre-revolutionary situation. But this in no way detracts from the urgency of arming the working class movement with a transitional programme.

 

Only such a programme can ensure that the gains made by the masses in this or that partial struggle, are built upon and consolidated and not stolen from them by the forces of reaction at the earliest opportunity. Only such a programme can resolve the fundamental contradiction that afflicts the international workers' movement: on the one hand the readiness of the masses to defend their gains, and even take the revolutionary offensive; whilst on the other, established leaderships are still capable of demobilising and betraying these same struggles.

 

A transitional programme strives to address this subjective weakness by building a bridge for the masses between their immediate defensive struggles and the struggle for socialist revolution. This bridge takes the form of an interlinked series of demands which, in their entirety, constitute an overt and direct challenge to capitalist rule. But revolutionaries are not sectarians. They fight for minimum demands, and in every partial struggle revolutionaries are the most thorough and most meticulous tacticians and organisers. We stand in the front line trenches of every struggle of the working class, no matter how partial. For this reason it would be false to counter pose the transitional programme to the existing struggles of the masses as an ultimatum.

 

But it is a centrist distortion of the transitional programme to dislocate individual demands entirely from the interlinked system and present them as thinly disguised isolated trade union demands. Similarly any attempt to present transitional demands as structural reforms of capitalism is grossly opportunist. The very purpose of transitional demands is to mobilise the masses against capitalism. The task of the revolutionary vanguard, therefore, is to use particular demands in the immediate struggles of the masses within the context of a fight for the programme as a whole.

 

In practice this will mean agitation within a particular struggle for focused, relevant transitional demands whilst making propaganda for the programme as a whole through the explanation of what the realisation of this or that demand will pose in the next phase of struggle. How is this gain to be consolidated, how can we prevent a counter-attack by the bosses? The relationship 'between such agitation and propaganda, the point at which propaganda is superseded by mass agitation, will have to be determined in response to the scope, tempo and intensity of the struggle, the transitional character of the system of demands is expressed by several features. In the first place such demands address the fundamental economic and political needs of the masses as determined by the objective situation. The demands do not depend for their correctness on their acceptability to the reformist consciousness of the masses; nor are they invalidated if the capitalists or the Stalinist bureaucrats are forced to grant such demands. Secondly, transitional demands seek to organise the masses independently of the open political representatives of the bourgeoisie and their reformist agents within the labour bureaucracy. This we strive to do through unions, factory committees, workers' councils and the revolutionary party.

 

Mobilised around these demands in such organisations the working class challenges the rule of the capitalists. It encroaches on this rule in the factory, office and school, on the picket line and on the streets, at the level of government itself. To this end each transitional demand embodies a fight for some element of direct workers' control over the capitalists. In establishing even elementary workers' control over production in the battle to protect jobs, the struggle will be forced onto a higher level. The question is posed: who is the power in the factory, the workers or the boss? In turn a successful struggle at plant level puts new challenges before the workers in relation to other branches of industry and to society as a whole.

 

In addition, the system of workers' control, by training the masses in running the factories, prepares them for the tasks ahead under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus transitional demands are both the means of transition from today's immediate struggles to a revolutionary assault on the whole capitalist regime and they are a school, a means of educating workers, in the tasks of the transition to socialism itself.

 

Against the capitalist offensive

 

The concerted offensive of the capitalists to resolve their crises and establish economic recovery has taken a heavy toll on the living conditions of the world working class and the oppressed peasantry. High prices, reaching the level of hyper-inflation in some semi-colonies, and mass unemployment are the cost of temporary stabilisation. To preserve its fighting strength, the working class is obliged to defend its right to work and earn a living wage. It is forced to defend and extend the welfare systems conceded by the bourgeoisie-the so called social wage. It is essential to advance demands that seek to put an end to the struggle for survival. In each country we fight for a legally guaranteed minimum wage at a rate decided by the labour movement not the bosses. This in no way implies that collective agreements limit themselves to such a minimum. The working class must constantly strive to advance beyond the minimum wage, which is merely a safety net to combat low pay and poverty for 'the most oppressed section of workers.

 

Inflation

 

Under conditions where the bosses use rising prices to pauperise the workers we fight to protect collective agreements against every price rise imposed by the bosses. To this end we fight for a sliding scale of wages which guarantees a rise to match any rise in the cost of living. Of course the bosses will try to dupe the masses with phoney indices to prove that the cost of living is not rising. Against this trickery we fight for a workers' I Cost of living index, assessed and decided upon by price watch committees delegates elected from the workplaces and the working class communities: the housing estates, the workers' districts, the barrios and shanty towns, the organisations of working class women and of proletarian consumers. In conditions of hyper-inflation further measures will be needed to protect the exploited and oppressed from starvation, the destruction of their security and meagre savings. They must fight for control over the necessities of life. This means workers' control over the food industry, the large farms, processing plants, transport and supermarket chains. It means establishing direct commercial links between the workers and peasants over the exchange of goods. It entails the building of workers' and peasants' committees to control food pricing and distribution.

 

But to bring a halt to hyper-inflation the workers must seize control of the banks; force their complete nationalisation including the confiscation of the assets of the bourgeoisie and the foreign multinationals. We demand action to prevent the transfer of capital abroad, the immediate repudiation of the foreign debt and the cessation of all interest payments on it. The savings of the workers, peasants and petit bourgeoisie should be guaranteed at pre-hyperinflationary values, all these measures point to the necessity for a state monopoly of foreign trade and the introduction of democratic planning by the producers. To carry through a workers' and peasants' programme against inflation a government of these classes is the indispensable instrument. Without this the bourgeoisie will use hyper-inflation to demoralise the workers and turn the peasantry and petit bourgeoisie against them (Bolivia 1985-86). It will try to solve the inflationary crisis through crushing the workers and imposing savage deflationary measures-slashing of the state budgets for health, education, cuts in wages and closures of factories and mines. Inflation and deflation are both weapons of the bourgeoisie to break the revolutionary momentum of the working class. Against both we rally the masses to a programme which insists "Make the rich pay"!

 

The scourge of unemployment

 

Mass unemployment is today a permanent feature of every capitalist country. In the semi-colonies the collapse of raw material prices on the world market leads to the devastation of entire industries, while agribusiness has driven millions of landless peasants into the cities where, unable to find work, they are forced down into the ranks of the lumpen proletariat. In the imperialist heartlands capitalist restructuring has left millions on the scrap heap of unemployment. Against this scourge our programme advances the demand for work for all regardless of sex, race, age, creed or sexual orientation. This demand is only realisable on the road of militant direct action: strikes against redundancies, occupations against closures, militant protests by the organisations of the unemployed. Such struggles must set as their goal the achievement of a sliding scale of hours. Under the regime of workers' control work should be shared amongst all the workers in an enterprise, and the working week reduced to facilitate this work-sharing. Under no circumstances should wages be reduced if hours are reduced. This is a conscious generalisation and revolutionary extension of the demands spontaneously being raised by workers for the 35 hour week with no loss of pay (Britain, Germany) or "30 for 40" (USA).

 

For those whom the capitalists leave on the dole queue we fight for work or full pay. If the bosses will not provide work we demand unemployment benefit, paid by the state at the level decided by the labour movement. When capitalism fails to provide socialised care and women are prevented from taking up full time work we demand full benefits. But this demand must be combined with the struggle for social provision for children, the sick and the disabled so that women are able to work. Full benefits should be demanded for all those whom capitalism casts aside from social production as a result of age, disability or sickness. For the elderly we demand the right to retire at an age agreed by the labour movement within each country. Pensions, indexed against inflation must be paid by the state and set at a level, decided by the labour movement that will maintain the living standards of the elderly. For those above the retirement age who wish to continue to work, jobs must be made available at full union rates.

 

The unemployed themselves must not be left as bystanders in the fight against unemployment. Communists strive to build fighting unity between the unemployed and the employed. We are for the right of the unemployed to be in the unions with full rights but reduced dues. We are also for the building of democratic mass unemployed workers' movements, with substantial financial support from the labour movement, with no strings attached to such funding and with full rights of representation within the labour movement. Such organisations will play a role in preventing the unemployed falling prey to the ideology of fascism (or other reactionary ideologies and movements), criminalisation and lumpenisation. They are a vital means of pressuring employed workers to take up an active struggle in defence of their unemployed brothers and sisters. In order to integrate all the jobless into the production process and to allow them to do socially useful work, we struggle relentlessly for a programme of public works under workers' control, paid for by the capitalist state. Everywhere the need for such a programme is evident in the imperialist heartlands all manner of public amenities are in need of improvement or renovation. In the semi-colonies the masses live in squalor, deprived of the most basic of amenities, (housing, water sanitation and fuel, education and health care). The programme of public works seeks to satisfy these burning needs-building houses, hospitals schools and amenities-as well as provide jobs for millions. More, it trains the working class to run the economy in a manner that meets their needs It is a school for the planned economy itself.

 

Allied to the fight for a programme of public works is the fight for or to defend and extend, the welfare provision that goes some way to protect the working class from the worst effects of capitalist exploitation Capitalism is not only willing to sacrifice our standard of living to satiate its lust for profits, it is prepared to sacrifice our right to be educated, t( enjoy what leisure time it leaves us and to be cared for when we are sick What more eloquent testimony to the rotten bankruptcy of capitalism could be required than the fact that the USA, the richest and most' powerful country in the world, has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all the industrialised countries. To combat such iniquities we fight for free education, free public amenities and leisure facilities and a free health service for all. These rights must be guaranteed by state funding at levels determined by the masses themselves. Such provision must be directed, not by capitalist appointed managers, but though workers control of the public services.

 

The rapacious search for profit degrades and destroys individuals well beyond the factory or office. Under capitalism the use of drugs drive hundreds of thousands beyond the limits of enjoyment and stimulation to the wastelands of dependency and enslavement: alcoholism and narcotic addiction wrecks the lives of many potential class fighters against the system which breeds such dependencies. We demand the decriminalisation of drug use and the confiscation of the massive profits that the narcotic barons make from illegal import and export of drugs. We are for a state monopoly, overseen by the workers' and peasants' price commit tees, of the sale of drugs for pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical use

 

We demand scientifically based education and information on the dangers of the use of particular narcotics for non-medical purposes.

 

There will be no shortage of bosses, bourgeois politicians, economic "experts" and reformist apologists for capitalism, who will "prove" that our demands on wages, jobs and services are unrealisable and cannot be afforded. To this we answer, we cannot afford to live without the achievement of our demands. We do not start from what the capitalist system claims it can afford. Throughout history our every demand has been met with the cry that our rulers cannot afford them. Yet we have won them because what can be afforded is decided by struggle: in sum reforms are the by-product of the revolutionary struggle against capitalism. If the bourgeois state rejects the demands of the masses for wages, work or social services with the argument that the budget would go into deficit, then we propose a revolutionary programme of taxation.

 

The workers in the factories and in the banks should calculate the fixed and liquid assets of the employers. On the basis of this capital and other possessions a strongly progressive wealth tax should be levied against them. With this revenue it will be possible to begin financing the needs of the masses. On the other hand, indirect taxation on the items of mass consumption and income tax for the property less masses should be scrapped. The progressive income and wealth tax on the capitalists must be controlled by the workers in order to uncover evasion and corruption by financial experts. Also, any attempt to unload the extra taxation of the capitalists onto the prices of mass consumption goods must be prevented by workers' control. If the capitalists refuse to pay their taxes, seek to evade them or claim inability to pay, then their assets must be confiscated.

 

The trade unions

 

In much of the world trade unions are durable, mass organisations of the working class. Revolutionaries must therefore have a central orientation to the unions, despite their reactionary leaderships. A correct revolutionary intervention into the unions requires a clear understanding of their nature, their limitations under capitalism, and a coherent strategy for their transformation into instruments of revolutionary struggle. 'Trade unionism on its own represents the class struggle carried on within the boundaries of capitalism. The trade unions have, generally, constituted themselves as elementary organisations for the defence of the working class against the excesses of capitalist exploitation, and of achieving the means of subsistence and improving the living standard of workers and their families. As such, pure trade unionism accepts the wages system, the system of wage slavery. As a form of consciousness remains on the terrain of bourgeois society, pure trade union consciousness is, therefore, a form of reformist, bourgeois consciousness inside the working class. However, the system of capitalist exploitation generates the class struggle, even if initially on a purely economic and fragmented basis. It does so because the bourgeoisie is driven by competition to lower it labour costs and to increase the intensity or length of the working day: This class struggle creates the objective basis for a challenge to the reformist limits of pure trade unionism. The working class resorts to class struggle methods that threaten to go beyond the bounds of reformist trade union solutions. This objective gives trade union organisation a contradictory character. On the one hand they reflect the self-limiting reformism of pure trade union consciousness. On the other they represent, intermittently, the revolutionary potential of a working cla1 compelled to use strikes, occupations and picket lines. They can the serve as "schools of war" for the working class.

 

The contradictory nature of trade union organisation reveals itself in many ways. Even with the expansion of the proletariat in the semi-colonies; world the trade unions still only organise a minority of the international working class. The established bureaucracies are characterised by conservative sluggishness in their attempts to bring in new layers of worker fearful that an influx of such workers will challenge their privileges and their quiet lives. The unions tend to organise the labour aristocracy, the skilled and more privileged sections of the class. They reflect the sectionalism and narrow craft consciousness of such layers. They demonstrate a self-defeating tendency to spurn politics, in the name of neutrality though at the same time the leaders often deliver union members' vote to reformist or liberal bourgeois parties.

 

Most importantly unions are generally dominated by a reformi1 bureaucracy. In the imperialist countries this bureaucracy arose out of the labour aristocracy during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was centred on the organised skilled workers. In many semi colonies a bureaucracy has also arisen, again out of a labour aristocracy albeit one smaller and with fewer material privileges than that of the imperialist countries. This has been patronised by bourgeois nationalist or reformist forces interested in securing a base in society for themselves (as in Mexico, Argentina). In other cases, where an aristocracy of labour has either not yet developed or is not sizeable enough to influence the unions or reformist/nationalist parties, a reformist bureaucracy has constituted itself often through links with the international trade union movement and with the material aid of the bureaucracy of the imperialist countries.

 

The trade union bureaucracy is a distinct caste that owes its position and economic privileges (no matter how marginal they may be) to its role as a negotiator in the class struggle between workers and their employers. Its privileged position is often enhanced through its incorporation into the lower echelons of the capitalist state. To maintain its position the bureaucracy has an objective interest in maintaining the system of class exploitation and consequently strives to limit struggles and betray them. It acts as the labour lieutenant of capital inside the working class. It is the sworn enemy of militant class struggle and genuine working class democracy.

 

By contrast the rank and file of the unions have no objective interest in maintaining the system of capitalist exploitation. At moments of heightened or generalised class struggle the fundamental tendencies of rank and file workers stand revealed as the exact opposite of those of the bureaucracy. In the face of attacks from the bosses the rank and file repeatedly resort to direct action to defend their own interests. In the face of sectional divisions they strive to organise the unorganised and unite with rank and file workers from other industries and unions. And against the "non-political" stance of the bureaucracy there are countless examples of rank and file workers seeking to use their organisation for explicitly political objectives. The rank and file's fundamental interests are thus not merely distinct from those of the bureaucracy but in direct contradiction to them.

 

To develop the elementary class consciousness of the rank and file into revolutionary consciousness, it is necessary to fight for the revolutionary transformation of the unions. Either they will be turned into organisations for the subordination of the working class to the interests of capital; they will become instruments of revolutionary struggle against capital. There can be no such thing as trade union neutrality in the class struggle. The outcome of the struggle to transform the unions depends, in the first instance, on the organised strength of revolutionary communism within them. We strive to build communist fractions in the unions, founded by members of the revolutionary party and its sympathisers, openly challenging for leadership on the basis of the revolutionary programme.

 

To achieve our goal of ousting the bureaucracy we advocate rank and file opposition movements committed to rank and file democracy, the election and accountability of all officials and a programme of class struggle. We fight all restrictions on rank and file democracy, all bureaucratically imposed divisions, and all attempts to keep the unions "above politics" or rather, free from revolutionary influence. We oppose all witch hunts of revolutionaries and militants. We resist all efforts to sell out or sell short the struggles of the working class. We defend the right of the oppressed (women, youth, sexual and racial minorities) to their own caucuses. We are for trade union unity on a class struggle, democratic basis and for industrial unions.

 

The tactic of the rank and file opposition movement (modelled on the Minority Movement experience in Britain in the early 1920s) is not counter posed to the building of communist fractions in the union. It is a movement within which the communists constitute a fraction but seek to become a mass force, and through which they seek to gain leadership on the basis of an action programme of transitional demands. It is the form of the united front suitable to the unions where the communists constitute a minority but have the possibility of mobilising non-communist workers.

 

A history of reformist betrayal and the close integration of some unions into the state have led many sectarians to abandon the mass organisations and build purified trade unions, or "red unions", which do not comprise the masses or even significant sections of the working class. This policy of dual unionism is, in fact, a form of cowardly abstentionism. It abandons the masses to the bureaucracy. It leaves them under their influence and destined to defeat. Our policy is that we do not split from the reformist mass unions as a substitute for winning revolutionary leadership within them. We fight within them for full class independence from both the state and the bosses, organisationally and politically. Working class militants should even work within company or state controlled unions, if they group together large masses of workers, but only in order to encourage these masses to break to form a real class union. We do not fetishise trade union unity and are prepared to split with unions or confederations which become real scab organisations. It is especially the case that we should cut all links with gangster syndicates and with politicians of the openly bourgeois parties who pretend to be "friends of labour".

 

Nor are we trade union fetishists. Trade union organisations, by their very nature, must seek to unite the broadest layers. They are heterogeneous, including backward as well as advanced workers. They cannot therefore replace the politically selected vanguard-the revolutionary party. Unlike syndicalists or industrial unionists we do not see the unions as ends in themselves or as substitutes for the party and for workers' councils. Only the party can represent the strategic interests of the entire proletariat. Only the party can channel the many rivers through which the class struggle flows towards the defeat of the capitalist system itself. Trade unions, even ones led by revolutionaries, are but one of the many instruments for achieving our end-the socialist revolution. Only the triumph of the party and its programme in the unions, as in all other mass organisations of struggle, can guarantee a lasting victory for the proletariat against the profit system.

 

Workers' control and factory committees

 

The system of capitalist exploitation requires that the bosses control every aspect of the production process. The search for higher productivity and profits endangers safety, erodes health and intensifies exploitation. Increasingly, therefore, the working class is obliged to counter capitalist control with workers' control so that even basic and partial demands are met. For this reason the revolutionary vanguard places the struggle for workers' control at the centre of its propaganda and agitation. Against capitalist exploitation we fight for workers' control of production. In essence this means that we exercise the right of veto over the plans and actions of the bosses in every aspect of production, from the most basic level (speed of work, rights to breaks) to the higher level of factory administration itself (numbers employed, wages paid, production engaged in). We reject, categorically, the thousand and one schemes for worker participation that are advanced to try and incorporate the working ?ass into the machinations of capitalism. These aim to seduce the workers into taking responsibility for the failings of capitalist production. They are designed to secure agreement for attacks on jobs, wages and conditions. Workers' control at the factory level is incomplete if it is not extended to capitalist production as a whole. The capitalists keep their books and accounts a closely guarded secret from the workers (though not from each other). By these means they cheat and manipulate the working class. Against the mud of business secrecy, therefore, we fight for the opening of all the books and ledgers of the capitalist class-its firms and companies, its banks, its state-to the inspection of the workers themselves. The purpose of such control is not to concede defeat if this or that company reveals itself to be genuinely bankrupt. The pain of individual capitalists is not our fault. Nor is it our concern. No, the abolition of business secrecy is designed to expose the bankruptcy of the capitalist system as a whole, its dishonesty and mismanagement of the economy, its parasitism, its tendency to squander the wealth that workers create, and its grossly inequitable methods of distributing that wealth.

 

However, the greatly increased application of science and technology to production since 1945, demands still further-reaching forms of workers' control. Because science and technology are organised by capital the purpose and the consequences of the 'introduction of new technologies become ever more hidden from the workforce. They get to know about them only through rationalisation, work hazards, intensification of work or through their disastrous effects on the environment. The question of workers' control over technical and scientific planning of the state and business can even become a question of immediate survival, not only for the workforce but also for the surrounding community. This has been demonstrated time and again from Bhopal to Chernobyl. Workers' control over the technical and scientific apparatus, however, means the workers overcoming the division between manual and mental work. Success along this road will enable technical and scientific workers to be won to workers' control committees operating in co-operation with the factory floor workers.

 

The tendencies towards increased state regulation of industry in the epoch of imperialism have led various reformists and centrists to advance schemes for alternative production within capitalism. Workers have even been called upon to "manage" certain enterprises under the auspices of reformist or nationalist governments. Alternative planning under capitalism is a utopia. Of course in deep economic and social crises we advance a plan of action for a revolutionary workers' government as a solution to the crisis. But even the most elementary plan, if it is to make headway against capitalist chaos and sabotage, must be grounded in workers' control of production on a nationwide scale. To dislocate such a plan from a revolutionary struggle for workers' control, to advocate workers' management on the terrain of capitalist society, is to play the role of meek advisers to the bankrupt capitalist system. Workers' control is not a means to achieve the socialist planned economy by stealth. It must rather fuel the revolutionary struggle for power in society as a whole and so serve as a pre-requisite for workers' management once the revolution has triumphed.

 

Reformist led trade unions are at best only partially suited to exercising workers' control of production. Craft divisions within the factories, often reflected in, and reinforced by, craft based union organisations, limit the ability of those unions to exercise control of production. Apart from special ad hoc control commissions established for specific purposes, the best form of organisation for conducting the struggle for workers' control is the factory committee. By organising all the workers in a factory regardless of trade, shop, union affiliation or membership, the factory committee is able to unite the whole workforce, direct it towards a daily struggle for control and challenge the power of the boardroom. Moreover, it can playa role in the struggle to transform the unions themselves into class struggle industrial unions. The factory committee must be based on direct democracy, with delegates who are recallable and in daily contact with the workers elected by shop and mass meetings.

 

As "unofficial" bodies the factory committees will be attacked and sabotaged by the bosses and bureaucrats alike. The real reason for this hostility is their potential as fighting organs of the proletariat. They represent-as the factory occupation does-a challenge to management's right to manage, to the sacrosanct nature of private property and to the power of the union "officials" over the workers. They establish a regime of dual power in the factory and their presence demands an answer to the question-who rules the factory, the workers or the bosses? As such they are characteristic of intense periods of class warfare. And, just as dual Power in society cannot last for a protracted period, nor can it in the factory. The factory committee is compelled to advance, ever more consciously, in the fight for workers' control. If it does not it risks either disintegration or incorporation. In Germany and Austria after the First World War factory committees arose as organs of struggle. However, the defeat of the revolutions in those countries led to the transformation of these committees into organs collaboration with the bosses. These committees are used by the union bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie as pillars of social peace. This experience demonstrates precisely the danger of incorporation if the factory committee fails to develop in a revolutionary direction. Where they do not exist the factory committees must be built from the outset as organs of workers' control. Where they exist as organs of bureaucratic control they must be totally transformed so that they can perform this function.

 

Defend the environment through workers' control!

 

All modes of production have resulted in disturbance of the environment but the imperialist epoch of capitalism has made possible damage on a qualitatively new scale. The capitalist mode of production has created an environmental problem which embraces both physical damage (to living organisms, ecosystems, and the ozone layer) and its consequent social and psychological effects on human beings (disease, starvation, mental stress). The combination of scientific and technological advance has created the potential of abundance for all of humanity. However, continued private ownership of the means of production in the context of a world dominated by the imperialist powers has created a fourfold threat to humanity. Nuclear war threatens the complete destruction of humanity; the regenerative capacity of the natural environment is jeopardised by the reckless destruction of vital components of the ecological system; the population itself is threatened by the inadequately controlled application of dangerous substances and processes; the social consequences of imperialism's world wide division of labour starves millions and turns urbanisation into an environmental hazard in its own right.

 

In the degenerate(d) workers' states similar consequences have been created by the rule of a bureaucratic caste. This caste resorts to methods of production which are geared to maximising output in the short term. The long term impact on the environment is discounted. Like the bourgeoisie the bureaucracy has developed science but is indifferent to its consequences for the living conditions of the masses and therefore of the effects of the application of that science to production. Here too fundamental progress requires the overthrow of the ruling power.

 

Although it has been the proletariat and the peasantry that have suffered most from capitalism's destructive capacities, the present threat was recognised on a large scale first by sections of the petit bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia of the imperialist countries. Since the second half of the 1970s, for example, in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Austria, but later also in France and Italy, single issue campaigns have multiplied and finally come together into a broad ecology movement. These movements were primarily of the petit bourgeoisie. For the first time their neighbourhoods, their children, their health were put at risk and, given their social and cultural advantages, they were able to make the environment a political issue; some even highlighted the effects on the semi colonial countries. The politics of this petit bourgeois layer were limited but progressive in that they posed the problem of environmental destruction in a systematic form. They undertook mass mobilisations and as a result the ecology question had an a impact on popular consciousness for the first time. Moreover they were successful in involving significant numbers of qualified and well paid workers. The mainly utopian, even explicitly reactionary, answers that they gave do not alter the progressive role that they played, given that the reformist dominated workers' organisations stood complacently on the side of their bourgeoisies on this question.

 

At the same time the solutions proposed by the environmentalists, reflecting the social positions of the petit bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, did not challenge the rule of private property in the means of production or the bourgeois state. The strategies and tactics proposed, apart from often being ineffectual, were also diversions from the necessary task of mobilising the social and economic power of the working class. However, where these movements initiate mobilisations for objectives which defend or advance working class interests then common actions between the working class and its organisations and these petit bourgeois movements are possible. Our aim in this is to win the most advanced elements to a proletarian orientation and, thus, to split the petit bourgeois movement.

 

The working class has a vital interest in combating imperialism's endangering of the environment. Throughout its history it has fought to stop dangerous production methods and impose safety standards on the capitalists as a whole. Through forcing legislation on the ruling class it has made gains in these areas, helping to create a habitable environment in which to live. This struggle, while it continues and must intensify, cannot be irreversibly successful without the overthrow of capitalism. The most successful methods of struggle, even for immediate improvements, are the methods of the class struggle-local, national and international.

 

Despite the frequent complacency of the existing leadership of the trade unions, it is vital that the fight to impose working class solutions to the environmental question be taken into the mass organisations of the working class. This is an integral part of the struggle to wrench leadership of the trade unions away from the reformists. To ensure that workers ha' access to independent expert advice, we demand the formation of advise commissions on environmental and safety matters within the union!

 

Against dangerous processes and practices within plants we fight £ factory committees and trade unions to impose a veto and to oversee t] introduction, at the expense of profits, of safer technology or working, conditions. Where the danger extends beyond the plant we are for dire action involving the workers in the plant and the local community, with the aim of forcing the government to impose the use of safer method and materials. Wherever the bosses or their state deny danger or the economic viability in defence of dangerous plants we call for the open of all relevant accounts and records to workers' inspection. We reject the demand for the immediate closure of all nuclear power stations. That do not mean that we ignore the dangers created by nuclear power station Against the demand for immediate closure we counter pose the demand for inspection by the workers or their chosen representatives. The revolutionary party does not prejudge the decision of such a scientific enquiry. Where either a workers' enquiry or a labour movement commission recommends closure, or in the face of acute or immediate danger. We rely on the mobilisation of the working class to demand and enforce closure. In such cases we demand the defence of the living standards the workforce by the state.

 

We fight for workers' control over research and planning within the technical scientific institutions of companies and the state. This" involve revealing the full nature of research and development propos: and formulating health and safety demands in relation to them. It also mean devising other research objectives in the context of a programme of useful public works.

 

The environmental question for the working class is not only preventative struggle. Much damage has already been done and must repaired. We demand that within programmes of public works restoration of the environment be given a high priority. The provision of adequate sanitation and reliable drinking water in shanty towns is a burning need for millions. Integrated regional rehabilitation programmes in areas desertification are essential now in large areas of Africa. Resources need to be directed at the construction of river and sea defences in the monsoon regions. For all these programmes the bourgeoisie should be made to undertake the necessary repairs.

 

Many dangers cannot be counteracted at the level of plan t modification or closure. Atmospheric and marine pollution, the destruction of entire eco-systems by deforestation or by mono-culture, or the complete exhaustion of natural resources, are often international phenomena even if their effects are more noticeable in some countries before others. At the national and international level we are in favour of establishing legal safeguards for the environment-but we fight for them by the methods of proletarian class struggle and we place no trust in the imperialists' international agencies to police such standards even when established. None of these demands may be made permanent without the seizure of political and economic control by the working class from the capitalists and the establishment of democratically managed international planning. Only along this road will it be possible to move towards the eradication of the conflict between town and country and harmonise human production with nature.

 

Expropriation and nationalisation

 

The socialist programme is for the complete expropriation of the capitalist class, the destruction of their state and the establishment of workers' power. In the imperialist epoch a whole series of state capitalist nationalisations have been carried through either by "consensus" conservative and reformist governments in the imperialist nations or, in the semi colonies, by nationalist governments.

 

In the former, state capitalist nationalisations are generally favours to the capitalist class as whole. They ensure the survival of essential that are too unprofitable for individual capitalists to maintain. They usually provide products and services for other branches of the economy at cheap rates. They are also the means of bailing out bankrupt mismanagers who receive lavish compensation for their incompetence.

 

In the semi-colonies nationalisation has been a method whereby a weak or embryonic bourgeois class has gathered together the resources for capital accumulation formerly in the hands of imperialism. It has been essential for the growth of a national bourgeoisie. However, while this or that nationalisation may strike a blow against imperialism (Nasser in Egypt, the nationalisation of copper mining by Allende in Chile) and may represent concessions to the masses, it does not result in the expropriation of capitalism. Rather the rule of the capitalist class as a whole in a given sector, or sectors, of the economy is exercised by the capitalist state. Nationalisation dupes the masses into thinking that this or that part of the economy is "theirs", whereas in fact it is a deceitful method of managing capitalism, not a method of overthrowing it. At the same time the workers in the state capitalist enterprises are prevented from exercising any control over production.

 

Where the workers are called upon to co-manage, it is generally to save the skin of the enterprise or of the bourgeois regime that has carried through the nationalisation and finds itself, temporarily at least, in conflict with imperialism (Mexico in the 1930s, Bolivia in the 1950s). The same is true for worker-management "buy-outs" of ailing industries or plants. Here the workers, often in the guise of "co-operatives", engage in self exploitation; to maintain employment they are forced to ruthlessly hold back or cut wages. When these nationalised sectors are profitable again the capitalist state will have no compunction in handing back to the private capitalist the once nationalised enterprises at bargain prices (Egypt under Sadat, Britain under Thatcher) and the reformists and nationalists will not do anything serious to obstruct such handovers.

 

When the bosses engage in privatisation projects we recognise, despite our criticism of bourgeois nationalisations, that privatisation is a regressive step carried through at the expense of the working class. The working class is forced to pay for privatisations directly, through loss of jobs and often through wage cuts. General social benefits, union organisation and negotiating rights are the victims of privatisation. The working class paid for these measures indirectly too, since the taxes it has surrendered to the state paid for the nationalisations in the first place. When these firms are sold off the working class, unlike the old bosses, receives no compensation from the new private owners. And, at a more general level, the tasks of the transition to socialism are rendered more difficult by the existence of privatised companies.

 

While we do not regard nationalised industries as socialist we do recognise that their centralisation, in the hands of the state, will be a marked advantage for the workers' state during the period of transition.

 

We demand of the reformists and nationalists who claim to oppose capitalism and imperialism that, in government, they re-nationalise all privatised industries with no compensation and under workers' control.

 

Against reformist and nationalist claptrap we advance the slogan of expropriation. To destroy the economic domination of the capitalist class the working class needs political power. Nevertheless where the bosses try to close down a plant or even an industry we argue for expropriation under workers' control and with no compensation to the bosses. A nationalisation carried out on such a basis forces the bosses as a whole to pay, through the state, for the crisis of their system. Nor do we shrink from the call to expropriate whole sectors of industry and of the key utilities (transport, fuel and water production) as a means of combating the anarchy of capitalist production. Every gain made by the workers in forcing through such expropriation poses to them the need for the expropriation of further sectors of the economy, to prevent those industries seized by the workers from being sabotaged by the capitalists. To break the monopoly the big capitalists exercise over information and propaganda through their so-called free press, we advance the slogan of the nationalisation of the newspapers, the television companies and the other media, under workers' control and with no compensation to the media magnates. Far from preventing a free press, such a measure would enable the workers to end the capitalists' ability to spread lies, attack workers in struggle and make filthy propaganda perpetrating sexism, racism and heterosexism. At the same time we defend the right of the workers' organisations and their political parties to organise their own press independent of state control.

 

Although the strategic aim of the working class is the expropriation of all capital, the working class must take account of the tactical importance of neutralising certain small capitalists and petit bourgeois proprietors. For this reason this layer, often numerically very important in the semi-colonies, should be relieved of their onerous debts towards finance capital. The expropriation of capital, whether small or large, in a young workers' state is decided upon by the rhythm of the class struggle within the country and internationally, and by the degree of expropriation required at any given moment to break capitalist resistance and ensure the development of the economy. Similarly, compensation can be paid to expropriated small capitalists and petit bourgeois investors where possible, if this helps neutralise these social layers.

 

Expropriation of a branch of industry places the workers in conflict with those who control the flow of money and credit-the banks and finance houses. Against the sabotage of these parasites, whose economic regime ruins not only the workers but also section of the petit bourgeoisie and the peasantry, we advance the slogan for the expropriation of the banks and finance houses. Only thus can credit for the peasants be made cheap. Only thus can the account ledgers of society be opened to the watchful eyes of the workers. Only thus can the debts piled up in numerous oppressed countries be repudiated without the risk of immediate internal economic dislocation. And only thus can steps to end the scourge of hyper-inflation be taken by the masses. Workers' control of the banks and finance houses will ensure that the small savers, the working class home owners, the small farmers, and the peasants are not squeezed dry by rapacious financiers.

 

Expropriations of branches of industry and of the banks and finance houses is transitional to the complete economic liquidation of the capitalist class. Only then will real planning be possible, that is, production geared to the fulfilment of human need, not profit. Disproportions between branches of industry, endemic to the system of private ownership of the means of production, will be ended in progressive fashion. So too will the society in which constant over-production stands alongside unfulfilled need because useful goods must remain unsold if they cannot realise a profit. However, the expropriation of the capitalist class will provide the basis for socialist planning only if state power passes completely from the hands of the capitalists and the Stalinist bureaucrats into the hands of the workers.

 

From picket line defence to the workers' militia

 

All decisive conflicts in history have ultimately been settled by force of arms. The reformists who bleat about a peaceful road to socialism are either naive fools, unaware of how history is made, or cynical servants of the bourgeoisie. No ruling class has ever departed from the scene of history without a fight. The proletariat is the only class in history whose interests lie in the abolition of all classes. To achieve this it must establish its dictatorship over the exploiters through an armed insurrection. The preparation of the working class for that insurrection passes through a series of demands and actions, all focused on the defence of workers in struggle and the destabilisation and destruction of the forces of the capitalist state.

 

From the earliest days of capitalist society the working class has been met with violence at work when it has attempted to fight for its rights. In the face of such attacks it has developed its own means of defence the picket line. For this reason the bourgeois state tries to restrict it to an ineffective protest on the other hand workers who are serious about winning have tried to build the picket into a mass force capable of routing strike breakers, company thugs and state police alike. But no matter how large it is, the picket line is insufficient to ensure either its own total effectiveness or the proper defence of workers in struggle. The workers must organise their own defence in every struggle and, in so doing, lay the basis for the workers' militia.

 

The first step is the defence of the strike picket line, and of the factory or land occupation. Every time the workers and poor peasantry try to enforce their will they are met with repression. The agents of such repression vary according to place and circumstance. But whether the strike-breakers and their protectors are the police (Western Europe), the army (many of the semi-colonies), or paid gun-thugs and "national guardsmen" (the USA), their function is to physically smash the workers' picket line. In conditions of extreme crisis the bourgeoisie will resort to fascist gangs on the model of Mussolini’s black shirts or Hitler's brown shirts or to shadowy "death squads" linked to the armed forces in order to break the fighting strength of the working class.

 

The strike-breakers join the fray with confidence because they feel they have the full weight of the bourgeois state behind them. But their successes are in direct proportion to the lack of organisation inside the working class and poor peasantry. Special units of strikers, supported by the mass but specially drilled for the purpose of armed combat, can destroy this confidence and put the scab rabble to flight. Thus the picket line can be transformed from either a purely token gesture or a disorganised demonstration, into a disciplined and effective squadron of the working class army. Thus, too, can the first elements of a workers' militia be assembled. In all phases of this struggle we are for the mobilisation and training of proletarian women so that they can play a full part in the military organisations of the working class.

 

Of course building such organisation must be carried through with due care for the existing consciousness of the masses and their existing levels of organisation. In a strike or occupation, defence squads are required. Even in "peaceful" periods of the class struggle, using whatever means and organisations we can, we recognise the need to train young working class fighters for the battles ahead. But under no circumstances must the task be postponed. Delay will lead to defeat and defeat to the prolongation of class society.

 

For the break up of the armed might of the state

 

Alone, the workers' militia will not be able to smash the power of the bourgeois state. The armed forces of the ruling class will have to be broken from within as well as from without. As every revolutionary situation has shown, in a decisive showdown with the working class, sections of the armed forces (police, army, navy, air force) have wavered and broken with their capitalist masters.

 

The nature of the armed forces and police organisations differ in many pans of the globe. In general the police forces constitute the day to day repressive apparatus of the capitalist state. In emergencies, martial law situations and under military regimes the army will also play this direct repressive role. Everywhere, therefore, we oppose the utopian idea that these bodies of armed men/women can be democratised or transformed into a neutral force or ally of the working class. They must be smashed and replaced by a mass popular militia based on the workers and poor peasants.

 

However, the variation in composition and organisation of the armed forces (professional or conscript armies, poor peasant or proletarian recruits) requires different tactics to break them up. But all the tactics aim at destabilising and breaking the chain of command and discipline within them. To this end we prosecute the class struggle within the military. The officer corps constitutes the most irreformable and dedicated anti-working class vanguard of the ruling class. The workers must fight to organise the rank and file soldiers and the non-commissioned officers against the authority, the privileges and corruption of this caste. To guide this work we endeavour to build clandestine communist cells in the armed forces producing bulletins aimed at the rank and file.

 

As well as undermining discipline it is essential that communists support the legitimate grievances of the rank and file soldier. Only on such a basis can we hope to undermine the repressive role of the armed forces and win the rank and file to solidarise with the working class by, for example, refusing to attack demonstrations and pickets and refusing to torture prisoners. Therefore, we demand the right of rank and file soldiers and police to organise unions and political organisations, to circulate political literature and to strike.

 

Whilst it is not our duty to advocate better wages or conditions for the army or police of the capitalist state, we do support the struggles of the rank and file where these bring them into progressive conflict with the capitalist state. To this end we fight for an end to the barracks system and for the election of all officers by the rank and file. We fight for tribunals of the rank and file to try officers accused of brutality, corruption, plotting and reactionary coups. In pre-revolutionary situations we agitate for the soldiers to form councils and to send delegates to the local, regional and national workers' councils of the workers and peasants.

 

However, so long as the police, prison guards and army remain under the unbroken command of the bourgeois state there can be no question of admitting their unions or organisations into the ranks of the labour movement, including its national or local union federations.

 

In fighting for the destruction of the bourgeoisie's armed power we start from the maxim not a penny, not a person for this system. We condemn all workers' representatives who vote for military budgets or war credits under the pretext of the defence of the nation. From this it follows that we oppose the bourgeoisie's conscription of young workers into their armies. We oppose its introduction and its existence. But we do this not at all from the standpoint of pacifism. We are in favour of the right and opportunity of all to learn military skills and to bear arms. This includes the right of women to military training in bourgeois armies. Down with the capitalists' monopoly of the means of coercion! Military training should be organised in the workplace and in the working class communities, under trade union control and in conjunction with soldiers' committees.

 

We support the right of individuals to refuse to be conscripted into the armed forces, but to advocate such a step is an act of petit bourgeois pacifism. Revolutionary communists go into the armies where the workers are to be found and work for the revolution from within. Where mass movements exist against a reactionary imperialist war, but are under pacifist or reformist leadership, we give them critical support insofar as they obstruct or sabotage the war effort. But we insist that refusal to be enlisted will never deprive the bourgeoisie of its armed might.

 

Against bourgeois militarism, against imperialist war!

 

The proletariat is an international class which has no interest in defending the bourgeois nation state. In the imperialist countries workers must therefore be unswerving in their defeatism. The Leninist position developed during 1914-18 retains all its validity. Revolutionary defeatism is based on the principle that the main enemy of the working class is the bourgeoisie in it own country. The defeat of its "own" imperialist bourgeoisie, as a result of the revolutionary struggle of the working class for power, is a lesser evil than the victory of the ruling class as a result of class collaboration and the sacrificing of proletarian independence during the war. The social chauvinists, espousing social peace, will argue that during a war labour should bow to the needs of the "nation" by speeding up production and accepting legal restraints on the right to strike.

 

By contrast, we must fight for no working class participation in the war effort. The workers' organisations must turn the imperialist war into a civil war. Faced with a war against a semi-colony or a workers' state, workers must give solidarity and aid to the enemy of the imperialists. In a conflict with a workers' state, no matter how degenerated and whatever the military means involved in the conflict (nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional weapons), workers must defend them against imperialist attack.

 

Outside the imperialist countries generalised defeatism is not the correct method with regard to all conflicts. Concrete conditions will vary and the revolutionary vanguard will have to fight for defeatism or defencism depending primarily on the nature of the states conducting the war. Within a semi-colony or degenerate workers' state in conflict with imperialism the proletariat must have a defencist position. With regard to wars between semi-colonies (India-Pakistan) or between degenerate(d) workers' states (China-Vietnam), workers' should generally adopt a defeatist position on both sides unless it is the case that one combatant is a cat's-paw for imperialism and that the international proletariat will be strengthened by the victory of one side.

 

The proletariat does not defend the semi-colonies and workers' states by the same methods as the bourgeoisie or bureaucracy. The independent mobilisation of the working class is necessary to ensure international solidarity and the defeat of the imperialists. Even where an imperialist power is in a military alliance with a workers' state, the proletariat in that imperialist country retains a defeatist position and under no conditions should suspend the class struggle. Only where the continuation of a particular action in the class struggle directly hinders the war effort of the workers' state would the proletariat suspend its action. In no way, however, would such an exceptional case signal a suspension of the policy of defeatism in relation to the imperialist war and the capitalist class.

 

The existence of vast arsenals of nuclear warheads, of biological and of chemical weapons capable of destroying humanity several times over, rightly strikes fear into the hearts of millions. Posed with this threat, the reformists of Social Democracy and Stalinism preach to the working class about world disarmament and the banishing of war from the planet. The question is not an abstract one of disarmament, but who is to be disarmed and by what means? The bourgeoisie will never give up its arms, without a fight. It must be forcibly disarmed by the revolutionary proletariat. To attempt to unite the workers and sections of this same bourgeoisie in a disarmament campaign is to create illusions that the bosses can be persuaded to give up the weapons they have to defend their monopoly of the means of production. In fact the negotiated agreements between the imperialists and the degenerate(d) workers' states to reduce certain types of weapons go hand in hand with a new round of re-armament. As before the two world wars international peace conferences can be a prelude to war as each side engages in elaborate propaganda ploys to present the other as the enemy of peace.

 

However, wherever the pacifists lead sections of workers and the petit bourgeoisie into direct conflict which undermines the military programme of the ruling class revolutionaries participate in such actions, whilst making clear their complete opposition to the utopian politics of the pacifists and advancing our transitional programme of demands on war and militarism.

 

The bourgeoisie will never give up its arms, unless it is forcibly disarmed by the revolutionary proletariat. To attempt to unite the workers and sections of this same bourgeoisie in a disarmament campaign is to create illusions that the bosses can be persuaded to give up the weapons they have to defend their monopoly of the means of production.

 

In fact the negotiated agreements between the imperialists and the degenerate(d) workers' states to reduce certain types of weapons go hand in hand with a new round of re-armament. As before the two world wars international peace conferences can be a prelude to war as each side engages in elaborate propaganda ploys to present the other as the enemy of peace.

 

However, wherever the pacifists lead sections of workers and the petit bourgeoisie into direct conflict which undermines the military programme of the ruling class revolutionaries participate in such actions, whilst making clear their complete opposition to the utopian politics of the pacifists and advancing our transitional programme of demands on war and militarism.

 

The war industries are immensely profitable for the ruling class. We fight to expose their business secrets, to confiscate their military profits and to expropriate them under workers' control. As the bourgeoisie prepares for war money and people will be pumped into the armed forces. In opposition to their obscene armaments programme we demand a programme of useful public works.

 

Even in times where there is no global conflict, the imperialists construct pacts and treaties in defence of their own interests, backed by the threat of military intervention. We demand the end to imperialist pacts and treaties and an end to secret diplomacy. All treaties and agreements should be exposed and published.

 

We place demands on the reformist bourgeois workers' parties that when in government they carry through the following demands in the interests of the class they claim to represent. We demand that they withdraw from NATO, ANZUS, SEATO, oppose military budgets and refuse to use armed force against the workers or oppressed peoples.

 

They must support and encourage full democratic rights for soldiers, recognise the right to set up soldiers' committees and unions, support workers' inspection and control of barracks, abolish military conscription and recognise the right of workers to set up self-defence organisations.

 

We must use the progressive desire of the workers for peace to fight for such demands within the workers' movement, whilst constantly warning against the bankrupt strategy of pacifism. The only way of preventing the horrifying barbarism of a nuclear war is the international socialist revolution.

 

Bourgeois democracy and democratic demands

 

In the imperialist countries, as long as they can maintain social and economic stability, the favoured form of rule is bourgeois democracy. It is the specific form of rule that the bourgeoisie, in its revolutionary epoch, developed as a means of enlisting the support of the masses in the struggle against feudalism, and of consolidating itself politically against the feudal estates.

 

Through parliament a democratic façade is erected to disguise the actual dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. By means of parliamentary democracy the bourgeoisie throws sops to the working class, grants it the right to vote every so often and incorporates its leadership into the administration of the bourgeois state. Through the media and the press the capitalists have a powerful propaganda machine at their disposal capable, for whole periods, of deceiving the masses and tying them to the illusion that under this system the people rule.

 

But behind the facade lies the reality of capitalist state power--the executive, the unelected (or where it is elected the unaccountable) judiciary and bureaucracy, the police and the armed forces. When the capitalists feel that their property or their rule are challenged by the working class, the full force of the repressive apparatus is brought into play.

 

The reformists in the parliamentary talking shop look on powerlessly as the police and army smash through picket lines and as the judges imprison trade-unionists. Even when a reformist majority in parliament attempts to enact the most feeble reforms in the interests of the workers the state bureaucracy sabotages them, the economic magnates use their financial control to blackmail the reformists into meek obedience and, always, the armed and security services wait in the wings, ever prepared to act should things get out of the control of the bosses. And in every bourgeois democracy the potential instruments of Bonapartist rule are maintained in the shape of monarchies or presidents.

 

In imperialist South Africa the parliamentary form of rule exists only for the white minority. The mass of the population, the blacks, are denied the most elementary democratic rights and are ruled by a ruthless dictatorship. In circumstances such as these the struggle of the working class for democratic rights, even those associated with bourgeois democracy, can serve as the detonator for revolutionary struggle. But while such a revolution can begin as a democratic one its victory will require its transformation into a socialist revolution.

 

The strategic task of the revolutionary vanguard lies in the destruction of all forms of bourgeois rule, including the democratic form. To this end we strive to expose the parliamentary sham to the working class and build organisations of proletarian democracy. However, the legal rights extracted by the working class under bourgeois democracy have been won in struggle from the bosses and represent gains to be defended against attack from the capitalists.

 

The recurrent crises of the present period do indeed oblige the capitalists to attack the democratic rights won by the workers. In the imperialist epoch there is always a tendency towards the negation of bourgeois democracy and its replacement with Bonapartist, openly dictatorial forms of rule.

 

This tendency is becoming more acute, throughout the imperialist heartlands. Anti-union laws, the curtailment of freedom of speech, the ability to enact laws by circumventing parliament altogether, the strengthening of the repressive apparatus, all represent embryonic forms of Bonapartism. In all such cases revolutionaries fight to defend the basic rights won by the workers' movement under bourgeois democracy: the right to strike, to free speech, access to the media, the right to free assembly and to form unions.

 

Moreover, we defend parliamentary democracy when it is threatened by Bonapartism and where we are not yet capable of replacing it with proletarian democracy. We do so, not as an end in itself, but as a means of preserving the legal right of the working class to organise and prosecute its struggle against the exploiters.

 

We fight the "mini-apartheid" style restrictions on democratic rights that are placed on immigrant workers all over the world. These restrictions are a means of facilitating the super-exploitation of immigrant workers and dividing the working class of a particular country along racial or national lines.

 

Basing ourselves on the principles of revolutionary internationalism we fight for the right to the free movement of labour--against all immigration and emigration controls imposed by the imperialist states, for the right of all workers to full democratic rights, including the vote, in the country in which they live and work.

 

In the semi-colonies we oppose all immigration controls and fight for those democratic rights except in the case of colonial settlement. We are against all nationality legislation which serves as a means to persecute and oppress immigrant workers.

 

In the struggle to win or defend democratic rights the proletariat uses the methods of class struggle. The right to strike, for example, will be won or defended to the extent that the working class is prepared to use the strike action in the struggle.

 

Defiance of restrictions on our rights, a refusal to bow before capitalist class based laws, a preparedness to use all the working class' fighting organisations and methods of struggle on the political terrain, including in the struggle for suffrage--these are the methods necessary to ensure that the working class gain from struggles over democracy. As in all struggles the sacrificing of the independent interests of the working class in the interests of unity with "progressive" or "democratic" bourgeois forces will be fatal for the proletariat and its struggle for socialist revolution.

 

Under conditions of deep social crisis the bourgeoisie can use a fascist movement in order to maintain their rule against the working class. Fascism, a reactionary mass movement mainly recruited from the ranks of a petit bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat made desperate by the crisis of capitalism, has as its goal the destruction of the independent workers' movement and the establishment of the rule of finance capital unfettered by any elements of bourgeois democracy whatsoever.

 

It is a last resort for the bourgeoisie since it involves the suppression of its own parliamentary representatives. As Nazi Germany and Musolini's Italy show, it is a measure that will be taken if the situation demands it.

 

In the semi-colonial countries fascism can develop as a movement arising out of communalist conflicts or out of reactionary clerical movements. The phraseology of such movements can sometimes be anti-imperialist. But this should not blind us to the anti-communist, anti-working class nature of such movements.

 

This rhetoric is in the same mould as the demagogic "anti-capitalism" of the Nazis. With the triumph of communalism or clerical fascism in the semi-colonies the rule of imperialism wil remain intact or even strengthened.

 

From the moment that fascism emerges the working class must wage a merciless struggle to smash it. Even when it conceals its more general aims and concentrates on spreading the poisonous fumes of race hatred, the workers' united front must be organised to fight it. No democratic rights at all can be accorded to the fascists.

 

However, we do not raise the demand for them to be banned by the bourgeois state. The bourgeoisie cannot be entrusted with this task since they are the ultimate backers of the fascists. The state will in fact use bans to disarm and hamper resistance to fascism. The revolutionary vanguard mobilises the working class around the slogans: no platform for fascists, drive the fascists out of the workers' organisations.

 

We strive to physically confront their every mobilisation and organise workers' defence units to combat fascist attacks on the racially oppressed and the workers' movement.

 

The struggle to defend the democratic rights of the workers and to combat fascism does not in any way form a separate and distinct series of tasks from the transitional programme as whole. The struggle against Bonapartism and fascism will only be finally won through the realisation of the programme of transitional demands in its entirety.

 

Electoral tactics

 

Parliaments and elections cannot transfer power to the working class. It is the duty of revolutionaries to expose mercilessly all parliamentary cretinism while not yielding to the anti-electoral cretinism of the anarchists. Revolutionaries use parliaments as a tribune for addressing the masses. They give an opportunity to present the essentials of the communist action programme in a popular propaganda form.

 

The best method of doing so is to stand candidates of the revolutionary party on its programme. But if a revolutionary candidacy is impossible then it is possible to advance critical support to a reformist or centrist party that has the allegiance of a sizeable sector of the proletarian vanguard or the popular masses in general.

 

The purpose of the vote is to say to these layers--we will vote for your party, despite our total lack of confidence in its leaders and its programme, in order to help you put it to the test of action, in and out of government office. We call on you to fight to force your leaders to carry out measures clearly in the interests of the workers, to break with the bourgeoisie. This tactic requires revolutionaries to present their full criticism of reformism and centrism, of parliamentarism as well as of the record of betrayal of the given party.

 

Where only alien class parties or hopelessly insignificant reformist or centrist sects appear at the polls, we are obliged to call for a blank vote by the class conscious workers. This should not be confused with a boycott of the elections which is permissible as a tactic only when the workers' mass revolutionary struggle poses, as an immediate perspective, the overthrow of parliament.

 

The workers' and peasants' government and proletarian dictatorship

 

The strategic goal of the proletariat's struggle is the transition to communism. To effect that transition the proletariat must establish its own dictatorship. Having conquered state power the proletariat cannot immediately abandon it as the anarchists believe. On a national and international level the bourgeoisie will plot its counter-revolution.

 

To crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, to protect the revolution, the working class is obliged to enforce its will over the whole of society. It openly exercises its class dictatorship on the basis of its own, distinctively proletarian, democracy (workers' councils, factory committees, the workers' militia). It centralises this democracy in a national government, a revolutionary workers' or workers' and peasants' government. The only consistently revolutionary workers' or workers' and peasants' government is that which exercises the dictatorship of the proletariat.

 

However, in the transitional epoch crises arise that pose the question of power to the proletariat before it has been won in its majority to the revolutionary party. In these situations the working class has naturally looked to its existing leaderships to enact a programme in its interests while in government.

 

It was under such circumstances that the Bolsheviks utilised, and the Commintern developed, the slogan of the workers' and the workers' and peasants' government. The essence of the Bolshevik tactic in relation to the Provisional Government was to demand of the petit bourgeois leaders of the workers (Mensheviks) and the peasants (Social Revolutionaries) that they break with the bourgeoisie and enter on the road of struggle for a real workers' and peasants' government.

 

Revolutionaries demand, not only a formal break with the bourgeois parties in government, but that the workers' leaders take immediate measures to solve the crisis at the expense of the bourgeoisie. This must involve the immediate expropriation of imperialist holdings and the big capitalists under workers' control, the seizure of the big estates, the immediate arming of the workers' organisations and the disarming of the bourgeois counter-revolution.

 

It must dismantle all of the repressive state forces used against the workers' and peasants' organisations and recognise the authority of all the organisations of workers' and peasants' democracy. On the road to such a government the working class offers its revolutionary aid against the attacks of the imperialists and the bourgeoisie, while maintaining its independence and taking no political responsibility for it as long as its majority consists of non-revolutionaries.

 

The experience of 1917 has shown that the refusal of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries to follow such a course was not an aberration. All subsequent experience confirms this. Either through the popular front or through bourgeois workers' governments, the existing leaders of the workers and peasants will do their utmost to salvage capitalism from the ruins. Events in Spain and France during the 1930s, in Bolivia in the 1950s and 1980s, and in Nicaragua today testify to this fact.

 

Modern day centrists have followed the Stalinists in opportunistically distorting the slogan of a workers' and peasants' government. While the Stalinists revived Lenin's abandoned formula of the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry" in the 1920s, declaring it to be a necessary bourgeois stage in the revolution, the latter day United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI) does the same to Trotsky's formula of the "workers' and peasants' government".

 

In Algeria and Nicaragua petit bourgeois nationalist governments which had made no moves to break with the bourgeoisie were declared "revolutionary workers' and peasants' governments" worthy of political support.

 

The designation of governments of the workers' parties (Social Democrats and Stalinists) as "workers' governments" by various strands of centrist "Trotskyism" (the Lambertists in France and Portugal in the 1970s and 1980s) is a further deceitful and opportunist use of the slogan. Only when a government of the workers' parties is forced into a real struggle against the bourgeois order by the masses and obliged to base itself upon the mass organisations up to and including arming them, can it be regarded as a revolutionary workers' government.

 

Despite the chronic opportunist distortion of this slogan it remains a vital weapon for educating and preparing the masses for power. We use it to place demands on the workers' leaders, to expose to the rank and file their leaders' refusal to break with the bourgeoisie. It provides the possibility of splitting the reformist and petit bourgeois nationalist parties, winning the rank and file and the best leaders to a real fight against capitalism and imperialism.

 

Because each crisis situation differs and throws different leaderships to the fore, the slogan is necessarily algebraic. That is, the actual composition of such a government cannot be declared as fixed in advance of an actual struggle. If a workers' government that was other than the direct dictatorship of the proletariat came into existence, it would merely be a government of civil war against the bourgeoisie.

 

It would either have to retreat in the face of the bourgeoisie or prove itself a temporary bridge to that dictatorship. In no sense is the workers' government, in a united front form, a necessary historical stage that has to be gone through prior to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

 

Trotsky in his Transitional Programme posited the theoretical possibility that in an exceptional revolutionary crisis the traditional leaderships might be pushed into going further than they wished, breaking with the bourgeoisie and establishing a workers' government. History has indeed proved this possibility in practice several times, but always with a counter-revolutionary outcome. In exceptional circumstances in Eastern Europe, China, Indo-China and Cuba, the Stalinists did overthrow capitalism. The agencies of these social overturns were bureaucratic workers' governments They had nothing in common with a revolutionary workers' government which opens the road to the struggle for socialism.

 

While the bureaucratic workers' government liquidated capitalism it did so in a counter-revolutionary fashion, by at the same time strangling all independent organs of workers' democracy and establishing its caste rule.

 

The task of the proletariat in such circumstances is not to call a halt to the expropriation of the capitalists but to fight against the bureaucratic fashion in which it is being carried out. By placing to the fore the struggle for proletarian democracy, by demanding of the Stalinists that they recognise the regime of workers' control in the factories, by demanding the arming of the masses and the dissolution of the Stalinist controlled security forces, the masses can be organised to continue the process of expropriation but defeat the planned counter-revolutionary outcome: the creation of a degenerate workers' state which blocks the road to socialism.

 

Workers' councils and the struggle for working class power

 

The crowning slogan of the Transitional Programme is the slogan of soviets, or workers' councils. If the factory committee is the organ of dual power in the factory, then the workers' council, coordinated on a national basis, is the organ of dual power in society as a whole. As such real workers' councils on a local and national basis arise when society enters a revolutionary crisis, when the masses outgrow the confines of their traditional organisations and turn to revolutionary forms of struggle and organisation.

 

A revolutionary crisis exists when society reaches an impasse: the bourgeoisie is divided and stricken by governmental crises, the masses refuse to tolerate the old regime and repeatedly demonstrate their will to sacrifice all to defeat it.

 

Throughout the history of capitalism there have been a series of revolutionary periods, consisting of an extended series of economic and political crises which were resolved only when a fundamental defeat had been inflicted on one of the contending classes. Thereafter a radically new economic and political relationship of forces allowed for the stabilisation and further development of capitalism. Periods of revolutionary crisis embrace one country, a continent or the whole globe. They vary in longevity and depth, with the most severe being related to wars, successful revolutions or counter-revolutions.

 

A revolutionary period can consist of several shorter phases, or situations. A pre-revolutionary situation exists when a profound economic crisis induces massive inflation (or deflation), unemployment and bankruptcies. Through these catastrophes the moribund nature of the capitalist system is exposed to millions. A pre-revolutionary situation may also arise from military defeat, as in Russia during 1905.

 

Such situations of crisis tend to produce a political crisis, forcing the bourgeoisie to resort either to more authoritarian methods of rule, or to co-opt the workers' leaders into solving the crisis at the expense of the working class. Divisions within the ruling class over which course to take give an added impulse to the proletariat to embark on more and more militant, generalised and political forms of struggle. A revolutionary situation emerges.

 

In a pre-revolutionary situation the tasks of the revolutionary party centre on posing the most generalised slogans of political class struggle (general strike, workers' self-defence, the building of embryonic workers' councils such as councils of action, strike committees, united front committees). In a revolutionary situation it is essential to transform them into fully-formed workers' councils: the direct struggle for power can be postponed no longer.

 

Should the working class fail to make a victorious revolution then the counter-revolution will triumph either in the form of a dictatorship (fascist or bonapartist) over the working class and its allies or in the more limited form of the 'democratic counter-revolution. The latter leaves a bourgeois democratic constitution more or less in operation but subjects the revolutionary vanguard to military, police and judicial terror.

 

These counter-revolutions clearly terminate the revolutionary period. What ensues may prove to be a long counter-revolutionary period such as followed the defeat of the German workers in 1933 or the Chilean workers in 1973. On the other hand if a fundamental relaxation of the economic and political crisis occurs then a non-revolutionary period, a period of social stabilisation may occur.

 

However, where the fundamental contradictions giving rise to revolution persist and where the working class has not suffered a historic defeat then an inter-revolutionary period may open before battle is joined again between the working class and the bourgeoisie. The recognition of these changes of period can be critical to the growth or even the survival of a revolutionary party. It is essential to adopt the appropriate defensive or offensive, legal or illegal tactics and methods of organization.

 

Russia February 1917, Germany 1918, Spain in the 1930s and many other examples demonstrate that if the proletariat succeeds in establishing its own armed power but without simultaneously totally smashing the armed power of the bourgeoisie, then a situation of dual power comes into existence in which two regimes of different classes confront each other. This dual power situation is inherently unstable.

 

It can only exist for any length of time if the armed power of the workers is strong and the bourgeoisie has lost control over substantial sectors of its own armed forces and fears the final confrontation. Alternately, dual power can endure for some time if the proletariat's reformist or centrist leadership dithers and vacillates when confronted with the task of leading the struggle towards a final showdown.

 

Such forces inside the workers' movement either seek to dissolve dual power in favour of the "legitimate" (bourgeois) state or to create a permanent dual power state. This schema which seeks to create a hybrid state of parliament alongside workers' councils always ends in failure (Germany 1918-1923) since it tries to reconcile the unreconcilable. The attempts by left reformists or centrists to "combine" workers' councils with parliamentary democracy are simply ways of demobilising the revolutionary struggle of the masses.

 

A dual power situation, whilst it is a mighty step forward compared to the uncontested rule of the bourgeoisie, is not an inevitable stage nor a strategic objective in and of itself. Our objective is the total destruction of the bourgeois state, and we strive to replace dual power with the proletarian dictatorship established through the armed insurrection.

 

This goal can only be achieved if the revolutionary party wins leadership of the workers' councils. Only then can counter-revolution be defeated and the slogan of "all power to the workers' councils" actually be realised.

 

Embryonic workers' councils can emerge in many different forms--from revolutionised trade unions, from factory committees, or from action councils built around particular struggles. However, while we do not fetishise the question of form, we do insist that there is no substitute for organs of struggle that express the essence of the workers' council.

 

We seek to develop and direct the differing forms of embryonic workers' council to become actual workers' councils. Factory committees and unions, no matter how radical, cannot in themselves serve as workers' councils. The reasons for this are embedded in the very nature of workers' councils themselves.

 

Workers' councils are not factory or industry specific. Indeed they are vital means of organising and winning to the side of the proletariat sections of society such as the poor peasantry and the rank and file soldiers. All of those engaged in struggle are represented in such councils. They are made up of delegates from the factories, the unions, all the workplaces, the working class districts, the peasant committees, the workers' parties.

 

They break down sectional barriers and put fighting class-wide unity in their place. They have a territorial character drawing in all of the exploited and oppressed within a town or region. Through regular elections and recallability the most democratic form of representative organisation of the toilers in history is created. Free from pre-existing bureaucratic apparatuses they are immediately sensitive to the changes in mood, political outlook and militancy of the masses. Workers' councils are the surest means for deciding the actual will of the struggling proletariat.

 

Because of these features workers' councils are uniquely suited to revolutionary struggle. In periods of social peace the workers' council cannot be a durable organisation. It lives and breathes through daily combat with the bourgeoisie, checking its every move, organising resistance to its every attack, struggling for the interests of the masses it represents and raising the fighting confidence of the masses with every success achieved. No other form of organisation is as flexible as the workers' council in carrying through the tactical manoeuvres required in the revolutionary struggle with the bourgeoisie.

 

Last but by no means least, workers' councils are the administrative base of the future workers' state. They are organs of working class power. Likewise the workers' militia will be transformed from the tool of insurrection to a bastion for the defence of the workers' state against counter-revolution. Every revolutionary situation has proved that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the existing state machinery and use it to build socialism.

 

New proletarian organisations must take the place of the capitalist state. The workers' councils, which in a dual power situation are obliged to exercise control over production, public life and distribution, are ideally suited to the task of running the workers' state. They are both revolutionary instruments in the struggle for power and revolutionary organs of power. No one yet has invented a form of organisation superior to them for these purposes. Attempts to find substitutes for workers' councils invariably lead to opportunist errors.

 

The insurrection

 

The task of the revolutionary party in the workers' councils is to channel all struggles towards the goal of smashing the capitalist state. To realise this goal the general strike and the armed insurrection are key weapons. Insurrections have proven successful without a general strike (as in Petrograd, October 1917), but the general strike is under many circumstances a key revolutionary method of struggle since it paralyses the entire functioning of the capitalist enemy and its state.

 

It poses the question: who rules society, the bosses who own it, or the workers who run it? It places the struggle for power at the top of the agenda. But in itself a mass withdrawal of labour cannot answer the question, who rules? Therefore a general strike must prepare the way for the armed insurrection.

 

History shows that the proletariat can only deprive the bourgeoisie of state power by violent means. Of course, the amount of force needed will vary according to the balance of forces on the eve of the insurrection. It will particularly depend on the extent to which the armed forces have been won to the side of the proletariat. The working class must, however, count on meeting the maximum resistance from the bosses and must therefore maximise its own forces to counter and destroy this resistance.

 

Clearly, without a revolutionary situation in which the masses stand fully behind the revolutionary party, an insurrection led by a revolutionary minority will be an adventurist putsch and will lead to setbacks for the revolutionary struggle. The party must have won over the majority of the organised workers of the major cities and towns if the new regime established by the insurrection is to be stable and permanent.

 

Insurrections have, historically, occurred in two forms. First the "February revolution" (France 1848, Russia 1917): spontaneous mass insurrections against dictatorial regimes where no dominant conscious revolutionary party leads the masses. Here the outcome can be a democratic bourgeois regime, a dual power situation or, in rare and exceptional circumstances, a Paris Commune type triumph of the workers under a leadership that either does not wish to hold power or does not know how to consolidate or extend it.

 

The attitude of the revolutionary minority to such a spontaneous uprising is to participate fully in it, seeking to give it conscious leadership, especially through the fight for workers' councils and a revolutionary workers' and peasants' government based on them.

 

The other type of insurrection is the conscious, planned forcible transfer of state power to the proletariat on the model of the October Revolution in Russia. The carrying through of the insurrection is a technical task which demands conspiratorial planning. The workers' councils have to be won to the goal of insurrection and the workers' militia and the pro-working class regiments are the means of carrying through the rising. But the revolutionary party alone can provide the general staff to direct that rising.

 

While the party can utilise the aid of the non-commissioned officers the command of such officers must always be restricted to military actions, monitored by elected company and regimental committees. The seizure of the key installations, the organisation of the new regime's defence, the distribution of arms and the allocation of proletarian insurgents cannot be left to the spontaneity of the masses or "enlightened officers".

 

The party is decisive in coordinating this action. But on the morrow of a successful insurrection the rewards of such preparation will be clear: the smashing of the capitalist state and the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship on the basis of workers' council power.

 

 

 

Chapter 4 - Strategy and tactics in the semi-colonies

 

Since 1945 capitalism has completed its task of destroying or totally subordinating the remnants of previous modes of production. But despite this penetration of every corner of the former colonial world we have not witnessed the widespread development of strong national bourgeoisies. While imperialism has nurtured, even created, a semi-colonial bourgeoisie within formally independent states, it has not let slip its domination of the economic or political life of these states.

 

In the early part of the imperialist epoch the young and embryonic national bourgeoisies in the colonial countries experienced national oppression. Colonial, and later imperialist, powers pressed their large scale capital onto the oppressed nations and thereby destroyed many small local independent enterprises. In turn this deprived the local bourgeoisie of any serious political influence in the colonial administration.

 

Under these circumstances the colonial bourgeoisie was driven to play an important role in fighting imperialist rule. Using deceitful phrases and false promises, movements such as the Indian National Congress and the Kuomintang could mobilise a mass following of all plebeian classes in their service.

 

Yet these "national revolutionary movements", as the Comintern described them, were under the leadership of a class (the bourgeoisie) which was to show itself again and again unwilling to pursue a consistent struggle against imperialism. The bourgeoisie's fear of the revolutionary potential of the working class and of a land hungry peasantry made it a vacillating and treacherous leadership of anti-imperialist struggles. It showed itself willing at the first opportunity to compromise with, and sell out to, the imperialists, often drowning its "own" revolutionary movement in blood (Shanghai 1927).

 

After the Second World War, under the supervision of US imperialism, the old colonial empires were dismantled and gradually replaced by the semi-colonial system that prevails today. Throughout their empires the old weakened imperialist powers--Britain, France, Holland and Portugal--were forced to grant political independence to their colonies. The national bourgeoisie was unable, except episodically, to go beyond the strategy of peaceful pressure on the imperialists to withdraw.

 

In colony after colony, the petit bourgeois nationalists, often in alliance with the Stalinists, led the struggle for independence. Wherever the imperialists held on until the last moment (Algeria, Malaya, Vietnam, Aden, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe) the petit bourgeois nationalists resorted to revolutionary nationalist methods of struggle.

 

Despite promises to the masses to alleviate the crushing burden of imperialist rule, once having achieved state power these same "revolutionaries" used it to repress the proletariat and the poor peasants, to shore up and develop capitalism and protect the imperialists' interests. Both bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists showed themselves incapable of fulfilling even the most basic bourgeois democratic tasks of the revolution against the imperialists. National independence remained a fiction as long as the countries' economies were dominated by imperialism.

 

Some of the new ruling classes--in Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Iran, Kenya--relied on open collaboration with the imperialist powers to develop their industries and agriculture. These states developed economies tied totally to the world imperialist division of labour. They offered police state controlled labour movements and furnished a labour force that could be super-exploited as an encouragement to imperialist investment.

 

At the other extreme some semi-colonies experimented with nationally isolated attempts at development, minimising or severely reducing their links with imperialism, often through relying on economic links with the Soviet bloc. These regimes often took on a left Bonapartist character, balancing between imperialism on the one hand, and tightly controlled mobilisations of the masses on the other.

 

Consciously modelling their economic development on the experience of Stalin's industrialisation policy, they pursued major "state capitalist" projects and established large state bureaucracies as an important social prop. Through these methods such regimes sought a road to "independent capitalist development", in fact a road to join the select club of imperialist nations.

 

This strategy proved an economic disaster in country after country. Stagnation and imperialist pressure forced a collapse back into the arms of imperialism. Peron's Argentina, Nasser's Egypt, Bandaranaike's Sri Lanka, Nyerere's Tanzania are just a few examples of where this strategy failed. The crises in Burma, Algeria and Angola in the late 1980s show that other state capitalist regimes are following suit. Autarchy is a utopia and it is always the masses who are obliged to foot the bill for its failure.

 

Whichever strategy the semi-colonial bourgeoisies pursued, and some, like India tried a combination of both, the result was the same--chronically dependent economies, enormous poverty for the masses, stagnation and growing indebtedness to imperialism. Only in the exceptional circumstances of South Africa did it prove possible for a semi-colonial power to break out of this cycle and join the imperialists as a junior partner.

 

The bourgeois nationalists were incapable of achieving real independence and they were equally incapable of maintaining political democracy. While the imperialists hypocritically sang the virtues of "parliamentary democracy", even bequeathing constitutions modelled on their Westminster or Washington versions, they happily connived at its overthrow immediately democratically elected governments threatened their economic interests.

 

Only a minority of the most developed semi-colonies have been able to sustain parliamentary regimes for any significant period of time. And even here, as with the case of Chile in 1973, imperialism has directly intervened to overthrow democratic regimes that it felt threatened its interests.

 

Confronted with the demands of the peasantry for a comprehensive solution to land hunger, bourgeois nationalists have been unwilling to take any radical measures which could threaten their alliance with the semi-feudal landlords or big capitalist farmers.

 

Where they have been forced to introduce major land reforms--Bolivia, Peru, the Punjab in India--it has always been to avoid a revolutionary solution to the land question. A reformist solution imposed from above, while temporarily assuaging the land hunger of the peasants, merely delivered a new class of small peasants, starved of credit and machinery, into the hands of the usurers, banks and rich farmers.

 

In order to carry out and maintain its exploitation, part of the strategy of imperialism has always been to divide and rule. In many cases such divisions were introduced by imperialist powers who deliberately favoured a particular minority of the population in its colonial apparatus, as in Sri Lanka or Cyprus.

 

In other cases, where remnants of pre-capitalist and religious divisions were still in existence, these were seized upon, cultivated and preserved in imperialism's interests. For example, the hereditary division of labour upon which the Indian caste system rests was institutionalised by British colonialism and it helped to preserve a measure of rural docility.

 

Indigenous landlordism and capitalism were able to exploit this system to their advantage. Today, the systematic discrimination and institutionalised inequalities of the caste system remain strong despite the development of modern capitalism in India. Here too the "independent" bourgeoisie has been unable to unify its nation on the basis of equality of rights.

 

Despite the claims of the "third worldists" and dependency theorists that extensive capitalist development in the imperialised world was not possible, imperialist capital has achieved just this and in the process has created millions of new wage labourers.

 

In the last two decades this semi-colonial working class has entered the road of independent class action only to run up against the limits of its own syndicalist, Stalinist and nationalist leaderships. There is a crisis of leadership within the semi-colonial working class. In most countries even the nucleus of a revolutionary communist party is absent. This has allowed petit bourgeois political formations of all kinds to come to the head of anti-imperialist mass action and inevitably betray it.

 

In the struggle against exploitation--in the factories, mines and plantations of native as well as imperialist capital--the world working class must use the full range of transitional demands and tactics. In addition it falls to the working class to lead a revolutionary struggle for the completion of the remaining bourgeois democratic tasks.

 

National unity and independence, agrarian revolution and political democracy are the burning demands of millions of workers, peasants and semi-proletarians. The working class must approach the struggle for their complete fulfilment from the standpoint of permanent revolution.

 

The national, agrarian and democratic questions are themselves historically bourgeois questions. But in the imperialist epoch it is no longer possible to fully resolve these questions under capitalism. The military, political and economic dependence of the semi-colonies, their backwardness and economic unevenness are fundamental to the imperialist world order.

 

There can be no separate stage of the revolution in which capitalist property relations are maintained while the bourgeois democratic tasks are fully achieved. The whole history of the anti-imperialist struggle after 1945 confirms this basic tenet of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. The "victories" of anti-imperialist mass movements confirm it even more graphically than the numerous defeats.

 

By refusing to expropriate the companies and banks of the national as well as the imperialist bourgeoisie, by refusing to satisfy the demands of the poor and landless peasantry, the leaders of the revolutions in Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Iran set the seal on their continued subservience to imperialism.

 

Even where, as in Burma, Egypt and Libya, military Bonapartist regimes were forced to nationalise the economy and create a state owned infrastructure, they have failed to break the economic chains binding the country to imperialism. Stagnation born of autarchy, debt, the re-emergence of a national bourgeoisie outside the state sector: this has been the pattern for the countries where Bonapartism entrenched itself.

 

Only where capitalism has been completely uprooted (China, Cuba, Vietnam, Kampuchea) have semi-colonial revolutions had the possibility to break the grip of the imperialist world economy over their countries. But even here the Stalinists have aborted the permanent revolution and have not successfully overcome the legacy of imperialist domination. In many of these states the oppression of national minorities has intensified, e.g. the Chinese in Vietnam or the Tibetans in China.

 

The combination of bureaucratic planning and Stalinism's "national road to socialism" has strangled the potential of the post-capitalist property relations, leaving the former semi-colonies as the weakest link in the chain of degenerate(d) workers' states. They remain heavily dependent on the willingness of the Soviet bureaucracy to underwrite their economies.

 

The growing reluctance of the Moscow bureaucracy to do this will increase internal restorationist pressures, strengthening the hand of those sections of the Stalinists who wish to open up the economies to imperialist penetration under the guise of "market socialism". In these countries only a political revolution which destroys the Stalinist bureaucracy and establishes genuine soviet democracy can offer a way forward for the workers and poor peasants and enable them to finally settle accounts with imperialism.

 

The expropriation of the major industries, banks and finance houses, the imposition of a state monopoly of foreign trade and the internationalisation of the revolution must be the first steps of every victorious semi-colonial revolution.

 

But only the proletariat, mobilised in workers' councils and a workers' militia can carry out these tasks in a wholly progressive manner. In the process the working class must draw to itself the massive peasant and semi-proletarian strata around the complete fulfilment of the national, agrarian and democratic questions.

 

Agrarian revolution in the semi-colonies

 

Today in the semi-colonies, taken as a whole, and despite the growth of the industrial proletariat, the peasantry remains an absolute majority of the population. The proletariat must harness the grievances and aspirations of the poor and landless peasants if its revolution is to be a truely global one.

 

Throughout the imperialist epoch the agrarian question has proved to be one of the major, and most explosive, uncompleted tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. The fight of the peasantry for land has been the locomotive of the fight for national independence against imperialism. So it was in China in the 1930s and 1940s and in Indo-China in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition the agrarian revolution provided a mighty social force for political democracy against autocracy in Russia in 1917.

 

Since the Second World War it has been a key detonator of uprisings against hated ruling oligarchies in the semi-colonies (e.g. Nicaragua 1979, Philippines 1985). Wherever the struggle of the peasantry for land has been deliberately separated from the fight for national independence (Ireland 1880-1921) or political democracy (Spain 1931-39) none of the bourgeois democratic tasks at hand were completed.

 

In the imperialist epoch the bourgeoisie, both imperialist and semi-colonial, abandoned any pretence of revolutionary struggle against pre-capitalist landlordism.

 

The imperialists attempted to curb the proletariat and the peasantry by alliances with the feudal landowners. In this way imperialism preserved the backwardness of the semi-colonies and subjected agriculture to its rule through trade or colonial plantation.

 

With the dissolution of the colonial empires and the establishment of US world hegemony the fight against the vestiges of semi-feudalism has been joined in the colonies and semi-colonies by the struggle against the effects of finance capital's deeper penetration of agriculture. Taking as its starting point the creation of a profitable world market for agricultural goods, finance capital spurred on the concentration and centralisation of land in the semi-colonies.

 

It placed huge territories under cultivation for cash crops aimed at the export market. On the one hand, finance capital helped buy out out the semi-feudal landlords or transformed them into agrarian capitalists, while on the other, they bullied, defrauded and expelled millions of peasants from their land.

 

As a result countries which were self-sufficient in food for the internal market have been transformed into importers of the basic necessities of life while huge profits accrue to the landed oligarchies and the multinational corporations. The main dynamic of the agrarian revolution today lies in the contradiction between the mass of peasants squeezed into smaller and smaller plots of infertile land on the one side and huge capitalist plantation owners producing for export on the other.

 

In the post-war decades agrarian reform from above has attempted to avert a revolutionary solution to the land question from below by creating a stable strata of conservative middle peasants.

 

While meeting with partial success in certain countries for limited periods of time, these programmes did not, and cannot, solve the fundamental dilemma facing the semi-colonial bourgeoisie; namely, that their enslavement to imperialism ensures that they are unable either to turn the surplus, land hungry peasantry into industrial or service workers in the urban centres, or to provide sufficient aid to the smallholders to prevent their descent into poverty.

 

The surviving semi-feudal landlords collude with finance capital to subordinate the peasant economy to the needs of large scale agrarian capitalism. This dictates that the peasantry's solution to land hunger, high rents, rural debt and primitive technique can only be reached through an alliance with the working class in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and imperialism--permanent revolution.

 

Naturally, not all the rural classes will be firm allies along this road. The peasantry is not a modern class with a homogeneous relationship to the means of production. The further it has evolved from communal land ownership and working, the more it separates into rich capitalist farmers at one pole and rural proletarians at the other.

 

Where the peasantry has been able to establish a stable hold on small scale private property in the countryside it has always been capable of being mobilised as the mass base of support for reactionary Bonapartist regimes. When faced with a challenge from the proletariat these regimes demagogically portray the working class as the enemy of the small peasant.

 

Along the path of revolution the urban working class will look first to the growing agricultural proletariat who labour on the plantations, farms, ranches and the processing mills full time. Small in number but with great social power, these workers have shown themselves time and again to be the first to put down solid organisations (unions, committees) to fight for higher pay and better conditions. From the sugar workers in Cuba to the coffee workers in Nicaragua, it is this class that has often, by its action, decisively tipped the balance against hated dictators.

 

They must fight for immediate economic and transitional demands and establish a regime of workers' control and union organisation in plant and plantation alike. The history of this epoch also proves that it is vital for this layer to take the lead in defending their gains from the death squads of the landlord and planter by forming a workers' militia.

 

Next to this layer in importance comes the semi-proletariat: the seasonal farm labourer who has to scrape a living on his or her own tiny plot for the rest of the time; or the small peasant whose family cannot survive on the land and takes on work in the towns and cities. This class is large in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia, often outnumbering the rural wage workers by ten to one.

 

Their contact with the plantations has raised them above a purely peasant outlook and they have embraced much of the fighting spirit and organisation of the proletariat. Their seasonal, migratory character has meant they have become, too, the key base of the guerrilla armies of Central America. For them it is essential to fight for equality of pay and conditions on the plantations; for permanent contracts for those who want them; for land to those who are forced to migrate because of land hunger.

 

The most desperate class in the countryside is the landless peasant, robbed of his or her inheritance by the oligarchy, colonial planter and "green revolution" alike. Today there are over 600 million landless peasants in the semi-colonies. In Pakistan, India and Bangladesh between a quarter and a half of the peasants are without land. In Central America over half of the rural population is landless. Most face starvation, a prospect relieved occasionally by day or seasonal labour. Many migrate to the towns in the hopeless search for work.

 

This class is a necessary ally of the proletariat and is the largest class. The continued support of this class must be won, even at the cost of the parcellisation of the larger estates. Before them the revolutionary working class must pledge itself to fight to realise the demands: land to those who work it; occupy the idle and under-used land; defend the land invasions of the plantations in the fight for subsistence; for committees and militias of landless peasants.

 

Trotskyists must stand at the head of the fight of the land hungry for land seizures, whether directed against semi-feudal or capitalist plantations. But it is essential to fight for the earliest possible formation of co-operatives as a transitional measure. To those already driven to the barrios and shanties of the big cities we must fight for a programme of public works to find them useful work and a living wage. This must go hand in hand with the organisation of the unemployed.

 

Struggling to prevent their own descent into the army of the landless are the poor peasants. Their smallholdings are either weighed down with onerous rent obligations or burdened with debt as a result of harsh purchase terms. Borrowing to buy equipment and fertilisers has added to this debt, a step forced on them because the size of the plot cannot guarantee subsistence for the poor peasant family.

 

The poor peasant may be oppressed by the big estates or by the richer peasant. Here the key immediate demands must be: abolition of rent and renunciation of all debts to the rural usurer and urban merchant; for state credits to purchase machinery and fertiliser; for incentives to encourage the subsistence farmers to voluntarily join production and marketing co-operatives.

 

Many peasants find that the only way to make a living is to cultivate crops related to the narcotics industry. They are ruthlessly exploited by the narcotic barons and persecuted by the imperialist "anti-narcotic" agencies. We demand the right of the peasants to cultivate narcotic related crops on a free and legal basis. We demand the purchase of such crops by the state at prices fixed by workers' and peasants' price committees.

 

The middle peasantry, usually a small layer that is suspicious that the proletariat plans to abolish its private property, generally has enough surplus to sell at a profit in the towns. Nevertheless, they too are often exploited by the middleman. In any clash over wages and conditions between the middle peasant and any labourers they employ the proletariat must support the latter.

 

Against the demands of the middle and small peasants for better prices for their products (a demand that arises especially in situations where the workers have forced governments to control the prices of basic goods) we put forward a different solution: make the bosses and landowners pay, not the workers! We demand the abolition of debt, extension of credit, the promotion of co-operatives and the building of joint price committees of workers and peasants, to plan and exchange the respective fruits of their labours.

 

The rich exploitative peasants will in general find themselves on the side of the bourgeoisie wherever semi-feudalism has been eradicated and imperialism, in alliance with the imperialised state, has integrated the rich peasant into the world market. Here revolutionaries will side with the poor peasants to expropriate the land of the rich peasant. But wherever semi-feudal bonds remain that also oppress the rich and the poor peasant a common struggle is possible to end that oppression.

 

The imperialist agribusiness, capitalist farmer and the absentee landlord will on the other hand find in the working class an implacable enemy. Their property stands before the workers and poor peasants as the mechanism of impoverishment.

 

We must impose upon the national bourgeoisie or petit bourgeoisie struggling against landed oligarchies the demand: nationalise their land without compensation; nationalise the imperialist plantations and place them under workers' and poor peasants' control; for a massive programme of public works to improve conditions for the masses of the countryside--electrification, irrigation of the land, provision of clean water and adequate sanitary facilities, the provision of cultural facilities.

 

Only such a programme can prevent the mass exodus of peasants, driven by sheer hunger to the cities. The transformation and planning of agricultural production will decrease the dependence on cash crops for export, improve the productivity of the land and increase the amount of food for home consumption.

 

Such measures in themselves will help ease the pressure on the rural environment. In transforming the countryside capitalism has extended the ecological crisis into ever new regions of the globe. Deforestation, destruction of traditional water systems for irrigation, pollution of rivers by industrial waste and chemical fertilisers continue to create real ecological disasters in many parts of the "third world". The proletariat and poor peasants' fight must include a programme of immediate measures to prevent ecological catastrophe--the ending of massive deforestation and the undertaking of replanting and irrigation schemes.

 

The years since 1945 have shown that the only real solution to the servitude of the poor peasantry and land hunger is the abolition of capitalism itself. The revolutionary party must lead the class struggle in the countryside to its culmination.

 

We put forward a programme for the revolutionary expropriation of all capitalist plantations and rich peasant farms without compensation by councils of workers and poor peasants. We fight for a policy of state farms together with voluntary collectivisation for the small and middle peasant as a programme of socialist transition in agriculture.

 

The national question in the semi-colonies

 

Although national unity and independence were political goals for the bourgeoisie, they had a social and economic purpose: the creation of a unified national market, protected against foreign competition, within which domestic capital could expand.

 

Today, despite formal national independence, imperialism's former colonies and mandates are in reality no nearer to this economic independence than they were at the dawn of the imperialist epoch. They remain oppressed nations. Backwardness and, at best one-sided, dependent industrialisation remain the norm in the semi-colonies. No amount of formal political independence can compensate for this.

 

The chains of economic dependence are forged from capitalist social relations and can only be smashed by the expropriation of capitalism itself. For this reason only the working class has the interest and ability to fully abolish the national oppression of the semi-colonies. It must fight for:

 

• The expulsion of all of imperialism's armed forces, the forces of its gendarmes, including the UN, and its security installations and advisers.

 

• The abolition of the standing armed forces--trained by and loyal to imperialism--and their replacement by an armed workers' and poor peasants' militia.

 

• The cancellation of all debts and interest payments to the imperialist finance houses. The imperialists do not want the debt to be paid off because this will mean an end to the super-profits it generates and the loss of one of its weapons for exercising economic, political and military control of the semi-colonies. The debt has been contracted under terms set by imperialism. But the limitations of the semi-colonial bourgeoisie's challenge to imperialist domination is evidenced by their acceptance of these terms. The practical effect of this cowardice is austerity for the masses, unemployment, restrictions on political and trade union activities, export oriented production and, as a result, starvation.

 

• Against the strategy of limiting repayments to a percentage of exports or GNP. Against the moratorium on the external debt which only means paying imperialism more later. This debt has been paid off several times already through extortionate interest rates and the looting of the semi-colonies' natural resources.

 

• The repatriation of all payments and the restoration of natural resources. For the repatriation of the priceless archaeological heritage stolen over the years by the imperialist plunderers.

 

• The nationalisation without compensation of the banks, finance houses and major industries and the cancellation of all special arrangements and joint ventures between state owned industries and finance capital.

 

As well as breaking imperialism's stranglehold on the semi-colonial economy the proletariat must fight for both national unity and the right of self-determination for the nationalities oppressed within the semi-colonies.

 

The arbitrary borders carved out by imperialism in its collective division and re-division of the world in the 1880s, 1919 and 1945 divided many nationalities and peoples, creating national minorities within the colonial and semi-colonial states. Whereas the nationalism of the developing bourgeoisie of the colonies had a relatively progressive content insofar as it was aimed against remnants of feudalism or against imperialism, on achieving political power this nationalism was often transformed into a weapon of oppression against national minorities, as in Turkey and Burma.

 

Far from solving the many national problems caused or exacerbated by imperialism's division of the world, the inability of the semi-colonial bourgeoisie to unify or economically develop the nation results in the deepening of regional economic differences, the re-emergence of old national antagonisms and the creation of new ones (e.g. in India).

 

Wherever a real national movement based in consciousness, language, culture and territory exists, the proletariat must support its right, as an oppressed nation, to self-determination. This support is unconditional: that is, we do not demand that the nationalists adopt communist methods of struggle before we give our support. However, just as we are critical of the goal of the nationalists, so we criticise their methods which frequently reduce the national struggle to the armed actions of a select few. However, no right to separate statehood exists where the exercise of self-determination is based on the national oppression of another people e.g. Israel, Northern Ireland.

 

The proletariat is an internationalist class seeking to unify, on a socialist basis, peoples and nations, through voluntary union or federation. Our general programme is not for the creation of ever more separate nation states or the breaking up of large "multi-national" states into a number of constituent parts as a means of liberating such countries from either imperialist or capitalist enslavement.

 

While arguing against these false solutions, communists recognise that once such a demand is embraced by the mass of workers and peasants, expressed for example in referenda or by mass armed struggle and civil war (Bangladesh), revolutionaries must move into the forefront of such a struggle to achieve a separate state. Both within the oppressor nation and in the secessionist area, communists raise this demand, while continuing to warn that only socialist revolution, not secession, will offer a lasting solution to the masses.

 

While the working class must champion the legitimate national rights of oppressed peoples, its internationalist strategy means that it fights all nationalist ideologies, even of those held to by the oppressed. Such nationalism will inevitably clash with the development of the working class into a conscious force, defending its own class interests, and will thus become reactionary. While we support the struggles for self-determination, up to and including secession, for example in Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, Kashmir, Euskadi etc, we point out the utopianism of the nationalist project of developing these areas as truly independent bourgeois states.

 

The proletariat must fight for the expropriation of capitalism and the extension of democratic planning on the largest possible scale. There can be no solution to the basic economic demands of the oppressed nations through a retreat behind even more limited economic boundaries.

 

Against the imperialists' deliberate policies of "Balkanisation" aimed at dividing and ruling weak and unstable nation states, communists put forward the demand for a genuine federation of socialist states for those countries that are linked by historical ties of language, culture, trade etc. Such transitional slogans can have a powerful mobilising effect for the masses, for example in the Middle East, in Latin America and on the Indian sub-continent, cutting across both imperialist engineered divisions and bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalist prejudices.

 

The struggle against military dictatorship and Bonapartism in the semi-colonies

 

Retarded in their economic and social development by imperialism, most semi-colonial regimes have been unable to sustain a stable bourgeois democracy. Elections and parliaments have been episodic, temporary or generally attenuated by various restrictions on the right to vote, the introduction of literacy and language qualifications, and a myriad of obstacles to voter registration.

 

Consequently various forms of Bonapartism have been the norm. Such regimes, while being resolute defenders of capitalism, have achieved a degree of independence from the ruling class, normally through their control of the army and state machine. They have deprived the capitalist class of its own direct political rule, as well as containing or repressing the exploited classes.

 

Bonapartist rule in the semi-colonies has varied between "anti-imperialist" and pro-imperialist forms. The "left" variant of Bonapartism has often taken the form of nationalist officers' movements drawn from the petit bourgeois middle strata and reflecting the outlook of this class.

 

This layer, seeing its future blighted by economic stagnation, corruption and the subservience of its own bourgeoisie to imperialism, has seized power in numerous countries since the Second World War--as in Argentina, Peru, Libya, Egypt, Burma for example. Their ideologies have borrowed elements from Stalinism, occasionally from fascism, and typically have proclaimed a "third way" between capitalism and communism.

 

These regimes have attempted to overcome the failure of economic development in their countries by restricting imperialist penetration. They have staked all on promoting "independent capitalist development"--utilising trade barriers, state capitalist industrialisation and land reform. They have often combined a vicious anti-communism with attempts to develop and co-opt the trade union movement and peasant organisations as a prop of support for their regimes against imperialist pressure from without and within.

 

But nowhere have such regimes opened the road to socialism, nor could they by their very nature. In fact they have re-fortified the capitalist state and economy through attacks on the workers, not stopping at full-scale repression and even massacres.

 

In the event of a serious clash between these regimes and imperialism and its most reactionary agents the proletariat may be obliged to struggle alongside the nationalist and democratic military sectors. But throughout the workers must maintain the firmest class independence and opposition to these temporary allies. The proletariat needs no military saviours or leaders. It can seize power only through its own insurrection, not by army coups.

 

It i