We can only overthrow capitalism - not reform it!


The Fifth International that we need should have a programme based on the historic and recent lessons of the struggles against capitalism and imperialism. It should state clearly that we defend each and every achievement against the capitalist bosses; against lowering of wages, lengthening of working hours, attacks on democratic rights or infringement of national sovereignty by imperialists. Moreover, we support all struggles to improve our living standards by reforms.

But we are not utopians. In the end the struggle for reforms is a labour of Sisyphus. Every gain we can force capitalists and their state to deliver with their left hands they will try to take back with their right. Capitalism cannot be reformed. It must be destroyed.

The capitalists and the oligarchs will never give up power peacefully. Where they feel endangered by popular movements, they will try to mobilise their state apparatus and/or foreign imperialist troops, as they did with coups, or coup attempts, in Chile 1973, in Venezuela 2002 or in Nepal and Honduras 2009. This is why the working class and the popular masses must organise themselves in councils of action and arm themselves in their own militia. Their aim must not be to take over the old state apparatus but to destroy it and replace it with a completely new state apparatus build from below on the basis of such councils of action.

Even when political forces that claim their goal is socialism, like Chávez's PSUV in Venezuela, the MAS of Evo Morales in Bolivia or the UCPN (Maoists) in Nepal, take governmental power, decisive obstacles to socialist transformation remain. As long as the capitalist class is not expropriated, that is, it continues to own and control the heart of the economy, and as long as the old state, that is, the whole strata of military and police officers, the judges, the state and municipal bureaucracy, continue to exist, so long the real power is not in the hands of the people but in the hands of the bourgeoisie. President Chávez himself said, in November 2009, that even 11 years after his election both the state apparatus and the economy have remained capitalist. So even a socialist-minded government remains limited in its power to abolish capitalism. If the working class and the popular masses do not take power themselves, such a socialist-minded government will either appease the capitalists or it will be overthrown as in Chile 1973 or in Honduras in 2009.

We therefore criticise the political strategy of leaderships like the PSUV, the MAS in Bolivia or the Nepalese Maoists, as utopian reformists. They might have honest intentions to build a socialist society but they believe that this is possible via gradual reforms. This is wrong! There are no rigidly separate stages in the revolution, each of which has to be completed before the next can begin; the revolution must be permanently, uninterruptedly driven forward until the complete political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class has been achieved. As long as this enemy is not expropriated, it will mobilise its military, political and economic means to destroy the people's power. Them or us, there are no other options!

Of course, under certain circumstances it is not excluded that such a socialist-minded government might be pushed by events to go further than they initially intended. When the Castro-leadership took power in Cuba in 1959 they had no strategy to introduce nationalise the whole economy and a planned economy. However given the aggression of US imperialism and the joining of the camp of the Stalinist Soviet Union the Castro-leadership created a "socialism" like in Eastern Europe. While the Cuban revolution certainly brought enormous gains for the workers and peasants and delivered a heavy blow to imperialism we don't think that such a strategy is a model for today's revolutions. Why? Because it created not a socialist society but a bureaucratic, one-party regime where power does not rest on councils of the workers and peasants but rather in the hands of a small strata of bureaucrats. Similarly the first attempts to spread the Revolution to other countries (by militants like Che Guevara) were aborted and under the pressure of Moscow a policy of peaceful co-existence with the capitalist regimes in Latin America was implemented. While the Fifth International certainly will defend Cuba against any form of imperialist aggression and pressure it must also open the road to socialism via a political revolution against the Castroite bureaucratic regime.

 

 

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