by Michael Pröbsting
Through the European revolution…
A decisive, Europe-wide struggle by the working class, the youth and the migrants will, sooner or later, raise the question of power: who rules in Europe, the capitalists or the oppressed? In order to rid ourselves of social cuts, racism and war for good we must overthrow the power of the ruling class. For that, we need a Europe-wide socialist revolution. Such a revolution will not be brought about by proposals in Parliament or buy peaceful pressure on the streets but only by the struggle and armed uprising of the mass of the working class. Only through such a revolution can we really build our Europe, a socialist Europe.
Already, 160 years ago, in the year 1848, working class and oppressed layers first rose up against their rulers. Such a revolution, but this time with a clear socialist perspective, is more necessary than ever today in Europe.
The European revolution will not be a spontaneous process that grows organically out of a steady broadening and expansion in class struggle beyond the limits of the national states to a European level. Equally, it will not be a matter of conspiratorial and simultaneous coups in all the main EU countries. A precise description of how European working class revolution would develop is, of course, impossible. We can, however, make the following observations: the economic unification of Europe by capitalism will inevitably develop an Europeanization of the class struggle, even if it is delayed and distorted. The only progressive aspect of the development of the EU, an unintended side effect of the bourgeoisie’s policy, so to say, is an inevitable international linkage of struggles by workers, youth and migrants. We have already seen the first signs of this in Europe-wide strikes or the echoes in other countries of the rising by immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs in 2005.
Against a background of a Europe-wide wave of class struggle, there will develop in this or that country, perhaps even across the continent, pre-revolutionary and revolutionary situations. Against this background, in one or more countries, a revolutionary party based in the working class will lead the overthrow of the ruling class. If the revolution is victorious in one or more countries this will quickly have widespread effects across the rest of the European Union. It will have a dynamising and inspiring effect on other class brothers and sisters as well as alarming the capitalist classes. It is therefore likely that a successful socialist workers’ republic in one or more countries could not survive for very long, either it will extend itself across the whole continent to form the United Socialist States of Europe or it will be quickly destroyed by an armed counterrevolution.
It is obvious that a successful European revolution would have an enormous impact on the imperialist states, above all the USA, and in the rest of the world. In 1923, Trotsky made the following observations that, of course, cannot be applied directly today because of the changed historical situation. Nonetheless his observations summarise clearly and sharply the possible worldwide effects.
“It must not be overlooked that the very danger arising from the United States of America (which is spurring the destruction of Europe, and is ready to step in subsequently as Europe’s master) furnishes a very substantial bond for uniting the peoples of Europe who are ruining one another into a “European United States of Workers and Peasants”. This opposition between Europe and the United States stems organically from the differences in the objective situations of the European countries and of the mighty transatlantic republic, and is not in any way directed against the international solidarity of the proletariat, or against the interests of the revolution in America. One of the reasons for the retarded development of the revolution throughout the world is the degrading European dependence on the rich American uncle (Wilsonism, the charitable feeding of the worst famine districts of Europe, American “loans”, etc., etc.). The sooner the popular masses of Europe regain the confidence in their own strength which was sapped by the war, and the more closely they rally around the slogan of “United Workers’, and Peasants’, Republics of Europe”, the more rapidly will the revolution develop on both sides of the Atlantic. For just as the triumph of the proletariat in Russia gave a mighty impetus to the development of the Communist parties of Europe so, and even to an incomparably greater degree, will the triumph of the revolution in Europe give an impetus to the revolution in America and in all parts of the world. Although, when we abstract ourselves from Europe, we are obliged to peer into the mists of decades to perceive the American revolution, yet we may safely assert that by the natural sequence of historical events the triumphant revolution in Europe will serve in a very few years to shatter the power of the American bourgeoisie.” (30)
…to the United Socialist States of Europe
The alternative of the League for the Socialist Revolution and the League for the Fifth International to the EU reform treaty of an imperialist Europe is therefore neither a reactionary return to “independent” national states and the reintroduction of schillings, Deutschmarks, French francs and other national currencies, nor a “social” but, in reality, social chauvinist, Europe.
The capitalist unification of Europe, the development of European monopolies and corporate alliances cannot be fought via reactionary and utopian attempts to turn back the wheel of history.
On the contrary, the fight against the formation of a European imperialism and European monopolies needs the working class itself at all levels to give a political answer to the problem of European unification. That means fighting the attacks of the ruling class and fighting for the United Socialist States of Europe as a step toward world revolution.
This would create a basis for a complete reorganisation of the European and global economy on the basis of democratic planning. Central problems such as mass unemployment can only really be solved on this basis. Only on this basis can long lasting national and racist oppression really be overcome. A socialist Europe would, for example, implement the right of self-determination for the Basques and it would allow the possibility of overcoming the national divisions on the Balkans. Both these tasks would be possible if we recognised the rights of the various nations to self-determination, while at the same time creating the possibility of voluntary alliance without allowing the profit interests of the imperialist capitals and the national bourgeoisies to intervene. The following declaration of the Marxist revolutionary and leader of the October revolution of 1917, Leon Trotsky, summarises our goals in the revolution for the United Socialist States of Europe:
“In the person of the Opposition the vanguard of the European proletariat tells its present rulers: In order to unify Europe it is first of all necessary to wrest power out of your hands. We will do it. We will unite Europe. We will unite it against the hostile capitalist world. We will turn it into a mighty drill-ground of militant socialism. We will make it the cornerstone of the world socialist federation.” (31)
For new revolutionary parties, for the Fifth International
A revolutionary perspective remains an illusion if no fighting parties exist nationally or internationally. The League for the Socialist Revolution is under no illusions that the exploiting class will ever voluntarily and peacefully give up their rule. Only a socialist revolution in Austria and worldwide, only the armed insurrection of the working class, can open the door to the future of freedom and justice. Such an uprising will not come about spontaneously but demands systematic preparation and organisation of the revolution. For that it needs a party, an organisation in which the most conscious sections of the working class and the youth are organised under the banner of revolution. The creation of such a party of socialist revolution in Austria and worldwide, the Fifth International, is therefore the most urgent task of all workers and youth who wish to struggle for a socialist future with us. The building of such a party and international can accept no delay. We cannot wait until revolution is at the door. Then, as history shows us, it is already too late to begin serious political and organisational preparations.
Let us unite into an international party of the working class, in a Fifth International! Forward in struggle for socialist Europe! Forward in struggle for a socialist world!
(1) EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Telegraph, 18.07.2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/11weu111.xml
(5) Reform treaty: cosmetic changes to avoid referendums, says Giscard d'Estaing, 17.7.2007, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/003-9201-197-07-29-901-20070716IPR09200-16-07-2007-2007-false/default_de.htm
(6) References to the Treaties signed in December 2007 are according to the version published on December 17, 2007 and published on http://eurolex.europa.eu/
(7) TEU Article 119
(8) TEU Article 21e
(9) See: Final Act Declaration: Nr.30. Clarification of Article 104 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU
(10) Lisbon Treaty Article 86
(11) Pierre Khalfa: EU Reform Treaty: Both Method and Content are Unacceptable (August 2007)
(12) Protocol regarding permanently structured cooperation, according to Article 28a TEU, Article 13 “Article 28 1. The tasks referred to in Article 27(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories.
2. The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.” (Lisbon Treaty on Changing…)
(13) We have explained the our anti-imperialist position against the EU intervention in Chad in the declaration: Austria and EU: Get Out of Chad! Stop the imperialist military intervention! Solidarity with the resistance of the rebel movements in Chad against the Austrian and EU troops! 6.12.2007, http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/austria-and-eu-get-out-chad. A longer elaboration of this subject including a polemic against the reformist and centrist left can be read in German language in the article by Michael Pröbsting: Der Tschad-Einsatz und die Linke. Über jene Linke, die ihren Schein-Antiimperialismus mit marxistischen Phrasen tarnen; in: Unter der Fahne der Revolution, No. 2-3 (2008) (Theoretical Journal of the Liga der Sozialistischen Revolution).
(14) Lisbon Treaty on Changing…
(15) Lisbon Treaty on Changing…
(16) Lisbon Treaty on Changing… Article 188r
(17) Translated for this article from Michael Pröbsting: ‚Amerikanisierung oder Niedergang’. Widersprüche und Hausforderungen für das imperialistische Projekt der Europäischen Vereinigung. In Revolutionärer Marxismus Nr.35, Berlin, 2005 p.39
(18) Article 28a of the Lisbon Treaty refers to those powers which “have met the demanding criteria in respect of military abilities” forming this “Structured Cooperation” within the framework of the Union.
(19) This is to be found in the Final Act, Declaration on Priority
(20) Treaty of Lisbon
(21) Article 8b, para 4: Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties. The procedures and conditions required for such a citizens’ initiative shall be determined in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
(23) By “productive forces” Marxists understand both the material means and the results of production, thus the term includes means of production (machinery etc) and produced goods and also the people who serve the means of production and, for this purpose, enter into particular forms of social division of labour. Obviously, means of production and people stand in a relationship to one another and, from the point of view of capital, the purpose of setting the worker to work on the means of production is to produce goods and, thereby, surplus value. Productive forces, therefore, are not simply a collection of things but include people and their living conditions. The point is discussed further in Michael Pröbsting: Die widersprüchliche Entwicklung der Produktivkräfte in Kapitalismus, in Revolutionärer Marxismus 37, Berlin, 2007
(24) Martin Suchanek/Michael Pröbsting: EU in der Krise. Soziales oder sozialistisches Europa?; in: Revolutionärer Marxismus Nr.35, Berlin, 2005, p. 6
(25) ibid, p7
(26) See: “Attacs 10 Prinzipien für einen demokratischen EU-Vertrag”, http://www.attac.at/uploads/media/10_Prinzipien_fuer_einen_demokratische...
(27) Christian Felber: Mein europäischer Traum; in: DER STANDARD, 5.12.2007 p28
(28) ELP: In the name of a democratic and social Europe: “THE GOVERNMENT’S TREATY MUST BE PUT TO REFERENDUM IN THE EU”, 19. October 2007, http://www.europeanleft.org/nc/english/news/news_archive/news_archive/br...
(29) V.I. Lenin: The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution; in: Collected Works, Vol. 23, Moscow, p.86
(30) Leo Trotzki: Über die Aktualität der Parole „Vereinigte Staaten von Europa“ (1923); in: Leo Trotzki, Wohin treibt England/Europa und Amerika, Verlag Neuer Kurs, Berlin 1972, S. 95f.; in English: Is the slogan of “The United States of Europe” a timely one?; in: Leon Trotsky: The First Five Years of the Communist International, Vo. 2, London 1975, p. 344, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1923/06/europe.htm
(31) Leon Trotsky: Disarmament and the United States of Europe in Writings, 1929, New York,.1975, p 357