Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries
Document of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 18 December 2016, www.thecommunists.net
Note of the Editorial Board: The following document is an extensive study of the present state of the world situation and the global class struggle. It contains 9 figures and 4 tables. The figures can only be viewed in the PDF version of the document below for technical reasons.
I . A New Political Phase Has Opened: The Reactionary Offensive of the Ruling Class in the Era of Trumpism
Intensification of the Reactionary Offensive on All Continents
Workers and Oppressed Fight Back Despite the Chronic Crisis of Leadership
Notes on the State of the World Economy
II. Some Theoretical Question about the New Political Phase
III. The Great Power Rivalry and Its Consequences for World Politics
The Social-Imperialist Lackeys of the Western and Eastern Great Powers
Imperialist Wars against Oppressed Peoples
Reformist and Centrist Cowardice in Face of the Imperialist Aggression
IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution
Daesh, Imperialism and the Revolutionary Struggle
V. Class Struggle in the US after Trump’s Victory
VI . The Reactionary Offensive of the Ruling Class and the Resistance in Latin America
VII. Imperialist Interference and the Struggle for Democracy in Sub-Sahara Africa
VIII. Europe in the Era of Chauvinism, Militarization and Brexit
IX. Russia : Victorious Outcome of NATO’s Cold War
X. China: Strengthened as a Great Power but Before a Serious Recession
XI . The Class Struggle in Asia
XII . Perspectives for Building of the Revolutionary World Party Today
1. The victory of Donald Trump – the arch-reactionary candidate of the right wing of the conservative Republican Party – in the US presidential election has opened a new era both for the US as well as for the world. It qualitatively accelerates the dynamics of all contradictions between the classes as well as between the Great Power. We stand before an intensified reactionary offensive of the ruling class on all continents. The rivalry between the Great Powers – in particular the US, Russia and China – is reaching a new stage. In addition, Trump, Putin and the other rulers will wage new attacks against the oppressed people of the South. These dynamics will provoke new upsurges of mass resistance, both domestically and abroad. In short, the Trump Era will deepen the fundamental instability of the capitalist world order and hasten massive political and economic explosions. History’s pace is accelerating.
2. As this reality alters the world political situation, it will also have profound effects on the tasks of socialists in building a new Revolutionary World Party; just as it offers new opportunities, as well as dangers, for the revolutionary struggle. The acceleration of history’s pace also obliges us to accelerate the construction of a strong international revolutionary organization. Any routinism or even cynicism about “yet again” building a new International – so popular among the “radical left” – is nothing but an expression of demoralization and political bankruptcy against which the Bolshevik-Communists of the RCIT will fight with all our strength. Now is the time to energetically tackle the task of building the new Revolutionary World Party!
3. In presenting this analysis of the world situation, the RCIT is not only attempting to provide a political compass to all socialists in understanding the present dynamics of the global struggle between the classes and the Great Powers. We also see this document as an important contribution to the extremely urgent discussion among revolutionaries all over the world to formulate the perspectives and the foundation of a new Revolutionary World Party. In the end, our success or failure in building such a world party will determine the fate of humanity!
I. A New Political Phase Has Opened: The Reactionary Offensive of the Ruling Class in the Era of Trumpism
4. Trump’s victory opens a new political phase. To be more precise, it does not represent a qualitative turn in the preceding political dynamics but rather their acceleration. In past documents the RCIT has repeatedly drawn attention to the reactionary offensive of the ruling class in the face of decaying capitalism. In our last World Perspectives document, we pointed out the reactionary offensive which began to accelerate from 2013/14 and which has, in particular, been manifested in a series of defeats: the aborted Arab Revolution; the ascent of right-wing reactionary forces in Latin America (including the coup d’état in Brazil); and increasing of Islamophobic chauvinism and militarization in Europe.
5. However, with the outcome of the US presidential election, these trends are now being massively exacerbated. Or, to formulate it in the language of Hegelian dialectics, the plethora of quantitative changes has culminated in a new qualitative change. The election of the most reactionary government in the modern history of the United States – still the most important Great Power on the planet – by definition not only has dramatic consequences for North American but for the entire world.
6. In particular, Trump’s victory signifies both the official recognition of US imperialism of its loss of status as the hegemonic Great Power, as well as its determination to intensify its rivalry with the other Great Powers. This will have dramatic political and economic consequences. Trump’s announcement of his intention to terminate US involvement in the TPP negotiations – for a “free trade” agreement between the US and a number of Asian and Latin American countries, his determination to renegotiate the NAFTA accord, his threat to scrap the Kyoto Climate Protocol, are all revealing indications of things to come Together they herald the end of the “era of globalization” and the beginning of a period characterized by the formation of open rivalry between the regional imperialist blocs.
7. Furthermore, the rise of Trump and right-wing, anti-democratic reactionary forces in Latin America, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia and the Arab world reflects the terminal crisis of the capitalist regime of liberal democracy. Faced with accelerating political and social contradictions, capitalism can less and less afford to rely on a “democratic” political superstructure to suppress social unrest and political revolts. As a result, the bourgeoisie is and will continue to turn more and more toward Bonapartist and authoritarian forms of rule. The current period of decaying liberal democracy also results in the deep ideological crisis of present-day capitalism which, on the one hand, propagates reactionary – including fascist – forces but, on the other hand, also paves the road for the advance of revolutionary and anti-capitalist currents.
8. We can reasonably assume that the already accelerating economic, political and social contradictions of global capitalism will again be severely aggravated by the next Great Recession. While it is not possible to make exact predictions about the concrete forms of such explosions, revolutionaries should prepare for sharp reactions by the ruling classes in all countries in order to deflect the attention of the popular masses. Such reactions can include, but are not limited to, horrible chauvinistic excesses, counterrevolutionary coups, and the escalation of economic wars between the Great Powers. However, such developments also have the potential to provoke revolutionary crises and civil wars pitting the workers and oppressed against the ruling class. In all cases, the next Great Recession will accelerate the ongoing acceleration of capitalism’s contradictions.
Intensification of the Reactionary Offensive on All Continents
9. The accelerating reactionary offensives will bear tremendous dangers for the working class and oppressed. These face accelerated austerity offensives with the threat of further cuts in wages and labor rights, an increase of racism, a turn towards Bonapartist rule and dictatorships, as well as more imperialist aggression. In addition to attacks on wages and labor rights throughout the world, the reactionary offensives will in particular impact the workers and oppressed in the coming period in the following way:
i) The ongoing onslaught of reactionary dictatorships against the popular masses in the Middle East. This includes the reactionary advances of Assad and his foreign backers against the Syrian masses (for example the fall of Aleppo); joint efforts by Russian and US imperialism along with Iran, Turkey and others to liquidate the Syrian Revolution with the assistance of their local allies; continuing repression of the popular masses by the military dictatorship in Egypt; ongoing aggression of the reactionary Saudi coalition against the people of Yemen.
ii) The continuing rise of the right-wing forces in Latin America. This has already resulted in the successful coup d’état against Brazil’s popular-front government headed by Dilma Rousseff, while today even more extreme right-wing forces are attempting to undermine the unstable Temer government. Similarly, we are witness to the ongoing efforts of the right-wing opposition to overthrow the Bolivarian government of Maduro in Venezuela.
iii) Massive attacks against workers, migrants and Afro-Americans in the US. Trump’s victory will accelerate the already ongoing attacks of the bosses on wages and labor rights. His incoming administration will also increase the power of the police and other forces of repression towards the nationally oppressed masses – in particularly blacks as well as Latinos, many millions of whom will face the threat of deportation.
iv) The ongoing ascent of right-wing racist forces and state repression in Europe. The bourgeoisie is continuing its efforts to implement its austerity programs – via their lackey governments which include, among the more openly neo-liberals, the “socialist” Hollande government, supported by the so called French “Communist” Party and the FdG, as well as the supposedly “anti-capitalist” SYRIZA government in Greece. Similarly, state repression and militarization is continuing within the EU – mostly directed against migrants and, in particular, the Muslim minority. These reactionary attacks, combined with the betrayal of the official reformist leaderships of the workers’ movement, are resulting in the ascent of extreme right-wing populist and racist forces in nearly all European countries. The victory for Brexit in Britain was a result of this trend.
v) The continuing imperialist military offensive – by the US, Russia, the UK, France and Germany – in the Middle East and North Africa against Islamist-led popular rebellions. The nominees for the key military and security positions in the new Trump administration make clear that this will be an extremely aggressive imperialist regime determined to a “multi-generational world war against Islam.” Related to this, we can expect another wave of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries as well as to Western Europe.
vi) In Asia too, the ruling class is accelerating its anti-social and anti-democratic attacks. India’s right-wing BJP government of Narendra Modi is robbing the workers and poor with its “demonetization” reform and is encouraging the ongoing brutal discrimination of Dalits, women and Muslims. In Thailand, the military dictatorship is whipping up reactionary monarchism and consolidating its regime following the appointment of the new King Rama X. In the Philippines, President Duerte is consolidating his semi-Bonapartist regime by inciting an all-out war against real and alleged drug dealers and addicts. In South Korea, the extreme conservative President Park Geun-hye attempted to impose a pro-business agenda, but has now fallen after a series of corruption scandals and mass protests.
vii) In Africa, we are witnessing the continuing efforts of the imperialist powers to exploit the continent’s workers and natural resources with the assistance of the local governments. Faced with increasing mass protests, various regimes are desperately attempting to retain power. Thus, we see the Ethiopian regime violently suppressing mass demonstrations and declaring a state of emergency. In Gabon, President Ali Bongo could only stay in power by rigging the elections in late August, despite mass protests. Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Joseph Kabila hopes to retain power by postponing this year's scheduled elections to April 2018. In Zimbabwe, the Mugabe government is also trying to hold onto power by suppressing demonstrations. In South Africa too, the corrupt and discredited Zuma government is waging a massive battle to fight popular dissent both on the streets as well as inside the ruling ANC party.
viii) The aggravation of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Great Powers – in particular of the US against Russia and China. Trump’s victory may result in the short-term closer collaboration of the US with Russia, among other things, to further their joint effort to liquidate the Syrian Revolution. However, it is clear that Trump’s chauvinist and protectionist policies will provoke a further acceleration of the already intensifying rivalry between the Great Powers (the US, EU, Japan, Russia and China), as they will intensify economic and ultimately military warfare against one other. In addition, EU imperialism will be forced to either accelerate integration and become politically and military independent of Washington, or disintegrate.
Workers and Oppressed Fight Back Despite the Chronic Crisis of Leadership
10. On all continents, workers and the oppressed are resolutely resisting this reactionary offensive of the ruling class. The heroic struggle of the workers and poor in Aleppo – Syria’s Stalingrad; the successful resistance of the Yemeni people against the Saudi aggressors; the mass mobilizations in Morocco after the death of Mouhcine Fikri; the general strikes against the Temer government in Brazil; the mass demonstrations in several Latin American countries to stop the repulsive violence against women; the spontaneous mass demonstrations of the youth and migrants against US president-elect Donald Trump; the struggle of the workers and youth against the reactionary labor laws in France, the massive protests of the Dalit in India; the mass demonstrations against South Korea’s corrupt President Park Geun-hye; the struggles of the workers, the poor and the youth in South Africa as well as in Zimbabwe – all these are ample proof of the unbroken determination of the popular masses to fight back.
11. However, all these mass struggles suffer from a chronic lack of a revolutionary leadership. Instead they are led either by corrupt trade union leaderships and career-obsessed bourgeois politicians or by petty-bourgeois populist, Islamist or nationalist forces that are sincere and dedicated in their convictions but lack a strategy to organize the workers and peasants and to lead them towards victory. This is why the popular masses have suffered so many terrible defeats in the past years.
12. Therefore, the RCIT once again emphasizes that the most important task in the coming period is the overcoming of the crisis of working class leadership by advancing the formation of a revolutionary world party with national sections in all countries. This can only be achieved on the basis of agreement in the analyses of the main features of the present period of capitalism and the programmatic tasks derived from them. Hence, the RCIT calls all revolutionaries who agree on the fundamental features of our analysis and program to join us in driving forward the formation of new World Party.
13. We have stated above that history’s pace has accelerated. However, it is crucial to correctly understand the tempo and the consequential tasks. We have emphasized the reactionary offensive of the ruling class. But this is an offensive resulting from the fundamental crisis and instability of capitalism, i.e., as a result of the weakness and not the strength of the bourgeoisie. It is a reactionary offensive which opens a new phase of class struggle and not one which follows a victorious – from the perspective of the bourgeoisie -- period of struggle. The new phase is – to use an historical analogy – in no way similar to Germany after Hitler’s taking of power in 1933, but rather to Western Europe in the mid-1920s. In short, the new phase is the end of the beginning of the historic period which opened in 2008, rather than being the beginning of the period’s end.
14. In summary: revolutionaries must be absolutely clear about the character of the present historic period, as well as about the nature of the phase within this period. Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008, we have been living in an historic revolutionary period. This is a period characterized by the acute decay of capitalism. In this period, the clashes and struggles being waged along the three fronts of imperialism’s contradictions are unavoidably exacerbated in all regions of the world: (a) the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the world proletariat; (b) the struggle of the Great Powers and monopoly capital against the oppressed people in the South; and (c) the conflicts between the imperialist rivals. These, in turn, will provoke revolutions, counterrevolutions and wars, and offer numerous opportunities (as well as dangers) for the working class to advance in its struggle for liberation. Currently we are living in a phase characterized by the reactionary offensive of the ruling class, one which has already resulted in a number of defeats for the workers and oppressed due to the chronic crisis of revolutionary leadership. However, this reactionary offensive unavoidably provokes new contradictions and new struggles. The new World Party will be forged under the blows of the reactionary offensive of the ruling class. It is towards the workers and oppressed engaged in these struggles that all revolutionary forces must orient all their efforts to build a new Revolutionary World Party.
Notes on the State of the World Economy
15. The acceleration of the reactionary offensive takes place on the backdrop of the stagnation of the capitalist world economy and the approach of the next Great Recession. Here we will not elaborate an extensive analysis of the world economy, but instead refer readers to our previous documents in which we undertook such a detailed examination.  Therefore, here we will limit ourselves to making a few comments. First among them is our observation that the beginning of the next Great Recession is longer in coming than we anticipated in our previous World Perspectives document published a year ago.
16. This is mainly the result of energetic state-capitalist efforts on the part of various imperialist governments. For example, the Chinese regime countered the downturn of its economy by a massive public investment program. According to Professor Zhu Tian from the China-Europe International Business School, state-owned fixed-asset investments annually grew from January to June 2016 by 23.5% over the same period a year earlier, but private fixed asset investment growth had dropped to 2.8% (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. China’s State and Private Investment, % Change Year by Year for 2011-2016 
17. As an aside we note that the Indian government also launched a significant state-capitalist public investment program which helped to induce short-term accelerated growth in this important semi-colonial country (see Figure 2). 
Figure 2. India’s Public and Private Investment, % Change Year by Year for 2010-2016 
18. Similarly, the European Central Bank (ECB) initiated a massive Quantitative Easing (QE) program hoping to energize the economy. From March 2015 to March 2016, the ECB printed over 700 billion Euros (which is about 5.5% percent of Eurozone’s GDP)! In December 2016, the ECB decided to continue the program until the end of 2017, which involves adding at least another 540 billion Euros as stimulus to the already existing 1.74 billion ($1.87 trillion) effort. 
19. However, while these state-capitalist interventions were able to delay the outbreak of the next Great Recession, naturally they cannot undo the decline of the world economy heading for another Great Recession (see Figure 3 and 4). Hence, the IMF concludes in its report for the latest G-20 meeting: “The global outlook remains subdued, with unfavorable longer-term growth dynamics and domestic income disparities adding to the challenges faced by policymakers. Recent developments—including very low inflation, along with slowing investment growth and trade—broadly confirm the modest pace of global activity. The decline in investment, exacerbated by private sector debt overhangs and financial sector balance sheet issues in many countries, low productivity growth trends, and demographic factors weigh on long-term growth prospects, further reducing incentives for investment despite record-low interest rates. A period of low growth that has bypassed many low-income earners has raised anxiety about globalization and worsened the political climate for reform. Downside risks still dominate.” 
Figure 3. Industrial Production Volume, Annual Growth Rate 2010-2016 
Figure 4. World Trade, Industrial Production, and Manufacturing PMI, 2010-2016 
20. As we have repeatedly pointed out, this decline reflects the failure of the monopoly bourgeoisie to overcome the fundamental inner contradictions of the capitalist world economy – its over-accumulation of capital and the fall of the rate of profit. The Marxist economist Michael Roberts, among others, has demonstrated this mechanism in his works. In Figure 5 we see the downward trend of the rate of profit in the U.S. economy.
Figure 5. US Corporate Profits (Adjusted for Depreciation), % Change Year by Year 
II. Some Theoretical Questions about the New Political Phase
21. In our analysis of the world situation, we have emphasized the resorting of many ruling classes around the world to more authoritarian forms of rule as well as the ascent of reactionary right-wing forces. These developments raise several important questions pertinent to the perspective and tactics of revolutionaries. First, are we witnessing the creation of fascist regimes and, if not, how can these regimes be characterized? Second, how shall we characterize various right-wing movements protesting against “the establishment” or “the system”? Third, what are the consequences for the class struggle of such regimes coming to power? Fourth, what are the consequences of these developments on the slogans and tactics of revolutionaries? And fifth, are we at the end of the “age of globalization” and, if so, what are the consequences of its demise? These are not simple theoretical or even academic questions, as they have huge consequences for the program to be advanced by revolutionaries – particularly in a period like the one we are entering. This is precisely why, as Lenin repeatedly emphasized, Marxist theory is a guide to action. Naturally, such a theoretical analysis is particularly important in a period like the present one which will be replete with convulsions, explosions and abrupt turns.
Trotsky once explained: “The vast practical importance of a correct theoretical orientation is most strikingly manifested in a period of acute social conflict of rapid political shifts, of abrupt changes in the situation. In such periods, political conceptions and generalizations are rapidly used up and require either a complete replacement (which is easier) or their concretization, precision or partial rectification (which is harder). It is in just such periods that all sorts of transitional, intermediate situations and combinations arise, as a matter of necessity, which upset the customary patterns and doubly require a sustained theoretical attention. In a word, if in the pacific and “organic” period (before the war) one could still live on the revenue from a few readymade abstractions, in our time each new event forcefully brings home the most important law of the dialectic: The truth is always concrete.” 
22. Are we witnessing the creation of fascist regimes and, if not, how can these regimes be characterized? As Marxists we have always opposed the infantile use of the term “fascism” by the various shades of Stalinism. In the early 1930s, these people called every party except themselves “fascist.” For several decades various Turkish Maoists and Hoxhaists denounced every single government in their country as “fascist.” Various Maoist parties in India call the Modi government “fascist.” And it has also become popular amongst leftists in the US to characterize the Trump movement as “fascist.” In fact, the Cliffite IST tradition has always called right-wing parties like the FPÖ in Austria, FN in France, etc. “fascists.” All of this is utter nonsense. Fascism is not synonymous with simple authoritarian rule and not even when a military dictatorship is involved. What the term “fascism” does imply is the mass mobilization of the petty-bourgeois in the form of organized contingents of storm troopers violently attacking working class organizations in the service of monopoly capital. Hence, when fascism comes to power, it represents not only the abolition of bourgeois democracy but the complete and sustained annihilation of all workers’ organizations.
Trotsky once defined fascism as the following: „Fascism may assume different aspects in different countries; it can be diversified in point of social composition, but in its essence fascism is that combat grouping of forces which is moved to the fore by threatened bourgeois society in order to repel the proletariat in a civil war. When the democratic-parliamentarian state apparatus becomes entangled in its own internal contradictions, when bourgeois legality hampers the bourgeoisie itself, the latter sets in motion the most combative elements at its disposal, freeing them from the fetters of legality, and obliging them to employ all the methods of force and terror. This is fascism. Therefore fascism is a condition of civil war on the part of the bourgeoisie, just as we have the grouping of forces and the organization for an armed uprising in the epoch of civil war on the part of the proletariat. We thereby say that fascism cannot represent a protracted and, so to speak, “normal” condition of bourgeois society, just as a condition of an armed uprising cannot be a constant, normal condition of the proletariat.“ 
23. For these reasons, fascism’s coming to power represents a historic defeat and the liquidation of the working class struggle for a sustained period. This must not be confused with forms of authoritarian regime or even a right-wing government within the limits of parliamentary democracy. As reactionary as such forms of regimes might be, they do not represent the same devastating annihilation of all working class and even bourgeois democratic organizations as fascism does.
24. Bonapartism, on the other hand, is a broad concept and basically defines a regime based on the military and the bureaucratic state apparatus – and less, or not at all, on the bourgeois parliament – and maintaining a (more or less) unstable equilibrium between the antagonistic classes. In the words of Trotsky: „The concept of Bonapartism, being too broad, demands concretization. During the last few years we have applied this term to those capitalist governments that, by exploiting the antagonisms between the proletarian and fascist camps and by leaning directly upon the military-police apparatus, raise themselves above parliament and democracy, as the saviors of ‘national unity.’“  In another document, Trotsky elaborated the following characterization of Bonapartism: “It is true that the Doumergue government, like the Brüning-Schleicher governments in their day, appears at first glance to govern with the assent of parliament. But it is a parliament which has abdicated, a parliament which knows that in case of resistance the government would dispense with it. Thanks to the relative equilibrium between the camp of counterrevolution which attacks and the camp of the revolution which defends itself, thanks to their temporary mutual neutralization, the axis of power has been raised above the classes and above their parliamentary representation. It was necessary to seek the head of the government outside of parliament and “outside the parties.” (…) The government does not appear as an executive organ of the parliamentary majority, but as a judge-arbiter between two camps in struggle. A government which raises itself above the nation is not, however, suspended in air. The true axis of the present government passes through the police, the bureaucracy, the military clique. It is a military-police dictatorship with which we are confronted, barely concealed with the decorations of parliamentarism. But a government of the saber as the judge arbiter of the nation – that’s just what Bonapartism is. The saber by itself has no independent program. It is the instrument of “order.” It is summoned to safeguard what exists. Raising itself politically above the classes, Bonapartism, like its predecessor Caesarism, for that matter, represents in the social sense, always and at all epochs, the government of the strongest and firmest part of the exploiters; consequently, present-day Bonapartism can be nothing else than the government of finance capital which directs, inspires, and corrupts the summits of the bureaucracy, the police, the officers’ caste, and the press.” 
25. Hence, revisionists of all sorts only create confusion among the workers’ vanguard when they randomly characterize all right-wing forces as “fascist.” It is only natural that the Cliffites were unable to explain how it was possible that “fascism” (in the person of the FPÖ) was part of the Austrian government from 2000 to 2006, without a single left-wing group and without a single demonstration or strike being prohibited. How can the Turkish Maoists and Hoxhaists state that “fascism” is in power when anti-government demonstrations can take place and Marxist-Leninist organizations are able to meet in public and to publish their newspaper?! How can the Indian Maoists claim that “fascism” has been in power since May 2014 (or even longer), when general strikes and mass demonstrations can take place and most of their parties are allowed?!
26. If so, what in fact is the character of these regimes and governments? Naturally, all this requires a concrete analysis of each national situation. However, such a concrete analysis must be based on the following theoretical consideration: Bourgeois democracy does not and cannot exist – particularly in the epoch of imperialism – in a “pure” form. Hence, all bourgeois democratic regimes contain greater or fewer elements of Bonapartism as a kind of safety belt for monopoly capital. Often this is the person of the president who plays a more (e.g., in the US, France, Mexico or Argentina) or less central role in a given political system. Or, it can be the constitutional court or a “National Security Council” (e.g., in Turkey in recent decades). Trotsky once remarked: „Every bourgeois democracy bears the features of Bonapartism.“ 
27. Nevertheless it is possible to differentiate between:
i) Right-wing governments within parliamentarian democracies (which was the case, for example, in Austria in the years 2000-2006 and which is currently the case in India under Modri);
ii) Pre-Bonapartist regimes with a strong executive and a stable and loyal following in the parliament (this could be the case with Donald Trump’s administration in the US);
iii) Semi-Bonapartist regimes which are relatively independent of the parliament (Turkey under Erdogan);
iv) Bonapartist regimes which exist with only a formally acting parliament or even without one, i.e., as an openly Bonapartist dictatorship (i.e., all sorts of military dictatorships like in Egypt, Syria, Thailand, etc.).
28. Naturally, the character of such a regime depends a great deal on the equilibrium between the classes and the level of the class struggle. Only under exceptional circumstances of an acute revolutionary crisis is the bourgeoisie forced to rely on the help of a fascist mass movement and is prepared to cede political power to it. Naturally, this is only a theoretical schema, and the reality of an antagonistic class society and the struggle between the classes produce various concrete regimes which can contain shades or combinations of this or that form.
29. From the perspective of the working class struggle, it is important to differentiate between Bonapartist regimes coming to power as a result of a decisive defeat of the popular masses and unstable pre-Bonapartist or semi-Bonapartist regimes which attain power in situations where such defeats have not taken place but are rather another manifestation of an intense ongoing class struggle. In the first case, revolutionaries must advise the workers’ vanguard to conduct a tactical retreat so as to evaluate what occurred and learn the appropriate lessons, regroup forces, and prepare themselves for the future struggle. In the second case, revolutionaries should rather attempt to organize the workers’ vanguard for mass struggles in the near future, with a program of tactics and slogans for mass mobilizations. The first case represents a successful counter-revolution which closes a period of struggle. The second case represents the beginning of a new period of struggle, albeit under conditions of a strengthened reactionary regime. The first case represents – to use a literary phrase – the beginning of the end, while the second case marks the end of the beginning.
30. What is the nature of the various right-wing populist and racist movements which are currently on the rise in Europe, the US and in other countries? By and large, they are reactionary movements the main focus of which is not so much mass mobilizations on the streets, but rather supporting the electoral victory of a right-wing party. (The PEGIDA movement in Germany is a certain exception.) However, the agendas of such movements do involve at least the strengthening of the executive state apparatus and restrictions on bourgeois democracy. In general, we do not consider such forces as fascist, because their main raison d'être is not the violent smashing of the working class organizations and bourgeois democracy by mass mobilizations. However, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the danger of these right-wing racist movements. First of all, while they may not be fascist in their entirety, they often contain a fascist wing within their ranks. Second, they do provide the ideological cover for increasing state repression of migrants and against the left. And third, while they may not be fascist today, in a period of acute crisis, they – or a sector of them – may give rise to an authentically fascist movement.
31. The danger or even the very existence of such right-wing movements or Bonapartist regimes gives real importance to the democratic slogans of the Transitional Program. However, such a democratic program must not be put forward in a reformist manner – i.e., as impotent appeals for governmental reforms – but rather as militant slogans for mass mobilizations. This includes, among other things, militant mobilizations against racist and fascist forces and the formation of self-defense groups which, at some later point, can be transformed into workers’ and popular militias.  Trotsky pointed out the importance of democratic slogans in a document on the programmatic foundation of his movement: “Recognition of the necessity to mobilize the masses under transitional slogans corresponding to the concrete situation in each country, and particularly under democratic slogans insofar as it is a question of struggle against feudal relations, national oppression, or different varieties of openly imperialist dictatorship (fascism, Bonapartism, etc.).” 
32. Naturally, a prerequisite for launching such a program of democratic slogans is the ability to identify such a reactionary or Bonapartist enemy. Thus, the hailing by various centrists like the Morenoite LIT, Alan Woods’ IMT or the Cliffite IST, of the military coup in Egypt on 3 July 2013 as a “Second Revolution” is a disgrace they will never be able to wash away. Similarly, the numerous Stalinists who praise Assad’s counterrevolutionary advances in Syria as “progressive” are guilty of the same blindness. And as we pointed out in our document on Trump’s victory, various pro-Russian leftists and some “left-wing” intellectuals like the notorious Zizek even called for voters to cast their ballot for America’s synthesis of Dagobert and Donald Duck. By definition, suchs forces are incapable of presenting a program for the struggle, for in their own inept confusion, they misidentify the main enemy of the working class as its friend!
33. Related to the centrality of the democratic program against the reactionary offensive of the ruling class is the crucial importance of the united front tactic. As we have elaborated in various previous documents, this involves the appealing by revolutionaries to non-revolutionary (usually reformist or populist) mass organizations to undertake joint practical actions. Naturally, such joint mobilizations must not be allowed to limit the political criticism of revolutionaries for the reformist leaders whenever the latter restrict or betray the struggle.  Consequently, we utterly reject the contentions of various economists and sectarians who denounce democratic slogans or the united front tactic as “reformist.” It follows that, contrary to organizations like the Fracción Trotskista-Cuarta Internacional, the RCIT insists that such united front tactics must not be limited to trade unions and other economic mass organizations – as the ultra-left Bordigaists have incorrectly advocated – but must also include reformist and populist parties. This, indeed, was the understanding of Trotsky: “We Bolsheviks consider that the real salvation from fascism and war lies in the revolutionary conquest of power and the establishing of the proletarian dictatorship. You socialist workers do not agree to this road. You hope not only to save what has been gained but also to move forward along the road of democracy. Good! As long as we have not convinced you and attracted you to our side, we are ready to follow this road with you to the end. But we demand that you carry on the struggle for democracy not in words but in deeds. Everybody admits – each in his own way – that in the present conditions a "strong government is necessary. Well, then, make your party open up a real struggle for a strong democratic government For this it is necessary, first of all, to sweep away all the remnants of the feudal state. It is necessary to give suffrage to all men and women who have reached the eighteenth birthday, also to the soldiers in the army. Full concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of one chamber! Let your party open up a serious campaign under these slogans; let it arouse millions of workers; let it conquer power through the drive of the masses. This, at any rate, would be a serious attempt of struggle against fascism and war. We Bolsheviks would retain the right to explain to the workers the inefficiency of democratic slogans; we could not take upon ourselves the political responsibility for the Social Democratic government; but we would honestly help you in the struggle for such a government together with you we would repel all attacks of bourgeois reaction. More than that, we would bind ourselves before you not to undertake any revolutionary action that go beyond the limits of democracy (real democracy) so long as the majority of the workers has not consciously placed itself on the side of revolutionary dictatorship.” 
34. Let us also briefly deal with the issue of globalization: As we have outlined in our book The Great Robbery of the South, the process of globalization can be summarized by the formula “Globalization = Internationalization + Monopolization.” The massive amount of accumulated capital, the development of the productive forces, etc. clearly demands a world market. A retreat to autarky is impossible today. However, we have also outlined that “the same process of globalization which creates improved conditions for profits and extra-profits, also creates enormous contradictions and crisis at the same time. Furthermore, capitalism rests – and will rest as long as it exists – on national states. Without them the capitalist ruling classes can neither organize their domestic basis for exploitation nor posses a strong arm for support on the world market. However, the increasing rivalry between the Great Powers is undermining this globalization. The monopolies need a market as big as possible. But at the same time they need absolute dominance, unrestricted access for themselves but maximum possible restriction for their competitors. As a result there will be a tendency towards forms of protectionism and regionalization. Each Great Power will try to form a regional bloc around it and restrict access for the other Powers. By definition, this must result in numerous conflicts and eventual wars.” 
35. As we have pointed out in past World Perspectives documents, this is precisely what we have witnessed in recent years since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008. A number of bourgeois economists are also increasingly drawing attention to the decline of both output as well as global trade. Below, we reprint some figures actually published by the IMF in its recent World Economic Outlook as well as by The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. It depicts the qualitative reduced growth of output and even more so of world imports since 2008 in comparison with earlier decades (see Figure 6, 7 and 8). Likewise, we are witnessing a relative reduction of capital exports when we compare the relation of Foreign Direct Investment with global GDP in recent years (see Figure 9). These developments must certainly accelerate in the era of Trump. The president-elect’s announcement of the US’s withdrawal from the TPP negotiations reflects the already pronounced tendency to end the regime of global free trade and replace it with an array of regional blocs each of which is dominated by a single imperialist power or a camp of imperialist powers. In this case, the era of globalization is about to come to an end.
Figure 6. Growth Rate of Real Capita Gross Global Product, 1961-2015 
Figure 7. World Real Trade and GDP Growth in Historical Perspective 1960-2015 
Figure 8. Share of Global Exports in Global Output, 1961-2015 
Figure 9. World FDI as Share of GDP 1987-2015 
III. The Great Power Rivalry and Its Consequences for World Politics
36. Trump’s victory also represents a watershed in the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers. As we have stated in our pamphlet on the outcome of the US presidential election, the rise of this politician with a protectionist and unilateralist platform calling for an end of “unlimited humanitarian interventions around the globe” – in contrast to Hilary Clinton who stood for a continuation of Obama’s foreign policy – was an implicit recognition of the US’s inability to continue its role as the “world’s policeman.” At the same time, Trumpism expresses the will of the ruling class to reverse this trend. Both of these factors are expressed in Trump’s key campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again” (instead of “Keep America Great”).
37. Trump’s victory is not a development that comes out of the blue, but is only the logical result of global developments of recent years. Contrary to nearly all self-proclaimed “Marxists,” the RCIT has emphasized for a number of years that one of the most important changes in world politics in recent history has been the emergence of new imperialist powers – China and Russia – in parallel to the decline of the US as the absolute hegemonic power.  Even the bourgeois-liberal ideologists who used to praise globalization as the way to integrate the world (as if it were a benefit for everyone) are increasingly forced to admit that the world is moving towards Great Power rivalry reminiscent to the period before World War I.  In our opinion, it is impossible to build the new Revolutionary World Party without a clear understanding of the imperialist nature of all Great Powers, and the importance of the rivalry between them as a driving force of the world political situation.
38. Let us briefly note a few key statistics which demonstrate the change in the relation of forces on the economic level. America’s share of global industrial production declined rapidly in a relatively short period – from close to 30% in the early years of the 21st century to less than 20% by 2015. During the same period, China’s share increased from about 10% to 28%.  Similarly, the US’s share in Global Fixed Capital Investment declined from 20% (2003) to 13% (2013), while China’s share grew from 16% to 31%. 
39. Another reflection of the change in the relation of forces is the ranking of the largest capitalist monopolies. A comparison of the Forbes Global 2000 list shows that, in 2003, the US was home to 776 (38.8%). But, by 2016, this share had declined by nearly one third to 540 (27%). On the other hand, China was hardly represented at all in the list for 2003. However, by 2016 China had 249 corporations on this list – more than any other imperialist power with the exception of the US.  The same dynamic appears in another list of the largest capitalist monopolies – the so-called Fortune Global 500. In 2001, 197 corporations among the Fortune Global 500 had their headquarters in the US, while there were only 12 in China. However, by 2016 this had dramatically changed: While the US was still leading the list with 134 corporations, China was already closely behind, ranking second with 103 corporations. In other words, while the US share among the world’s largest monopolies had declined from 39.4% (2001) to 26.8% (2016), China’s share grew during the same period from 2.4% to 20.6%! (See Table 1)
Table 1. US and China: Their Share among the World’s 500 Largest Corporations, 2001 and 2016 (Fortune Global 500 List)
Number Share Number Share
2001 197 39.4% 12 2.4%
2016 134 26.8% 103 20.6%
40. Another manifestation of China’s rise is that last year it overtook the US as the home of the largest number of billionaires. According to the latest issue of the Hurun Global Rich List, out of 2,188 billionaires 568 are living in China (without Hong Kong and Macao) and “only” 535 in the US. The Hurun Report also announced sensationally that “Beijing Replaces New York To Become The Billionaire Capital Of The World For First Time”.  The Forbes Billionaire List gives slightly different numbers but here, too, China ranks as a leading country, second only to the US. According to Forbes “the US has 540 billionaires, more than any other country in the world. It's followed by mainland China with 251 (Hong Kong has another 69) and Germany with 120. Russia has 77.“ 
41. Finally, we can also confirm China’s rise as an imperialist power relative to its rivals when we examine its massive increase in capital export. As Table 2 shows, China’s capital export (without the figures for Hong Kong) grew dramatically by 3,800% during the past 15 years, and has come close to reaching the volume of capital export of Japan!
Table 2. Foreign Direct Investment Stock of Great Imperialist Powers, 1990, 2000, 2015 (Millions of $US) 
Country FDI inward stock FDI outward stock
1990 2000 2015 1990 2000 2015
USA 539,601 2,783,235 5,587,969 731,762 2,694,014 5,982,787
Japan 9,850 50,322 170,698 201,441 278,442 1,226,554
Britain 203,905 63,134 1,457,408 229,307 923,367 1,538,133
Germany 111,231 271,613 1,121,288 151,581 541,866 1,812,469
France 97,814 390,953 772,030 112,441 925,925 1,314,158
China 20,691 193,348 1,220,903 4,455 27,768 1,010,202
Russia - 32,204 258,402 - 20,141 251,979
42. Naturally, as we have noted many times, none of this changes the fact that China is still a new, emerging and hence backward imperialist power. And Russia, while being a strong military power, is economically much weaker than China. This is reflected, among others ways, by the substantially lower labor productivity of these two countries compared with the old imperialist powers like the US, Western Europe or Japan. However, the sheer size of the Chinese economy and Russia’s political and military power enable both these states to join the club of the world’s leading imperialist Great Powers. Those who refuse to characterize China and Russia as imperialistic due to their economic backwardness, ignore the concrete history of imperialism and the conclusions which Marxists drew from it. As we have elaborated in detail in other studies, it has been a constant feature in the epoch of imperialism, which started at the turn of the 20th century, that there are imperialist Great Powers of different types – from the strongest, most modern and dynamic ones (like Britain, the US or Germany) to weaker and more backward ones (like Russia, Japan, Italy or Austria-Hungary).  The dialectical thinking of Marxists enabled them to understand that such unevenness is a natural characteristic of the imperialist epoch and, hence, it is only logical that different types of Great Powers are fighting for their share of the loot. Thus, Lenin and Trotsky not only characterized states like Britain, the US or Germany as imperialistic, but also Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria-Hungary.
43. The economic changes of the past decade or two have naturally also had consequences in the political and military spheres. For example, among other things, this is reflected in China and Russia’s position as leading exporters of weapons as well as nuclear powers. Here, too, the US remains No. 1, but Russia and China are ranked right behind it and in front of all other imperialist powers (with the exception of France with regard to nuclear weapons; see Tables 3 and 4)
Table 3. The World’s 10 Top Exporters of Weapons, 2011–15 
Exporter Global Share (%)
1. USA 33%
2. Russia 25%
3. China 5.9%
4. France 5.6%
5. Germany 4.7%
6. UK 4.5%
7. Spain 3.5%
8. Italy 2.7%
9. Ukraine 2.6%
10. Netherlands 2.0%
Table 4. World Nuclear Forces, 2015 
Country Deployed Warheads Other Warheads Total Inventory
USA 1,930 2,500 7,000
Russia 1,790 2,800 7,290
France 280 10 300
China – – 260
UK 120 – 215
44. While the US is still the strongest power, its political and military hegemony are declining and are being challenged more and more by China and Russia. This becomes clear with China’s persistent implementation of its OBOR strategy (One Belt, One Road) which deepens the country’ economic ties with the rest of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The turning away of the Philippines from the US – a long-time ally of American imperialism in Asia – under its new President Rodrigo Duterte, and his increasing orientation towards Beijing is only the latest setback for Washington. Thus, it is only logical that tensions between China and other Great Powers like the US and Japan are increasing in East Asia as the latter try to retain their traditional hegemonic position.
45. Similarly, since 2014, we have witnessed an escalation of the conflict between the US and the EU on the one hand and Russia on the other over the Ukraine. Russia’s increasing strength as an imperialist power has been clearly demonstrated in this conflict as the Western powers have failed to drive Russia out of the Crimea or out of the Donbass region, despite economic sanctions and massive diplomatic pressure by the West. Quite the opposite, a growing number of politicians both in the US as well as in the EU have called for an end to the sanctions.
46. As stated above, Trump’s victory marks a certain retreat from a “globalist” agenda, as is demonstrated by his intention to withdraw from the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) – Obama’s main project to defend US hegemony in Asia against China.  However, at the same time, the new US administration will try to selectively retain and advance the influence of the American Empire. Trump’s confrontational attitude towards China – even before his inauguration – is a clear indication of things to come. It’s not difficult to imagine the consequences of such a policy: the provoking of a chain reaction encouraging other Great Powers to speed up the creation of trade blocks, which they themselves dominate, as a means of protection against their rivals. The result of all this will be a significant disruption of world trade and the entire global economy, and may escalate into major trade wars between the US and China.
47. While it is possible that, in the near future, Trump will advocate selective collaboration with Putin so that US and Russian imperialism can join forces in liquidating the Syrian Revolution, the naïve hopes of the pro-Putinist left that Trump may prove to be a “dove” – as opposed to the “warmonger” Hillary Clinton – are completely misplaced. Sooner or later, major confrontations between the US and its rivals will become inevitable, because the decline of the capitalist world economy and the accelerating global order will lead to clashes between the Great Powers as they all struggle to increase their share of the world’s wealth at the expense of their rivals.
48. Finally, we want to draw attention to another major ideological consequence of Trump’s victory and the US recognition of its failure to maintain its hegemonic position: the end of the ideological superiority of the US as the champion of “democracy” and “human rights.” As we have pointed out elsewhere, until now the US – as a result of its being the strongest economic, political and military power – could play the role of global ideological leadership as a “defender of human rights” and the advocate of “democracy.” With the Trump administration, such pretenses will come to an end. Nobody will see this gang of “the Bad, the Mad and the Sad” who will call the shots in Washington as the polar star of “enlightenment”! In other words, we think that the US’s decline as the leading imperialist power is also reflected in its loss of ideological hegemony – something which it had a virtual monopoly on for many decades.
49. In summary, the past few years have fully confirmed the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia’s status as emerging imperialist powers and, hence, of the accelerating rivalry between Great Powers as a key factor in the understanding the dynamics of the present world situation. From this follows the only possible conclusion: that the workers’ movement must fight against all Great Powers – both the old as well as the new, emerging ones. The workers of the world must lend no support, whether direct or indirect, to any imperialist state – neither in times of peace nor in times of war. Therefore, the following statement of the Fourth International formulated 80 years ago remains fully valid today: “The struggle against war, properly understood and executed, presupposes the uncompromising hostility of the proletariat and its organizations, always and everywhere, toward its own and every other imperialist bourgeoisie.” 
The Social-Imperialist Lackeys of the Western and Eastern Great Powers
50. It is all the more astonishing, as well as very characteristic, that most so-called “Marxist” organizations fail to understand this fundamental issue. Naturally, in many cases, this is not a “theoretical mistake” but rather the unavoidable consequence of the bourgeois character of the bureaucracy dominating these parties. In the case of various reformist mass parties, this has clearly material reasons, seeing how the bureaucracy is linked directly or indirectly with the state machinery of one or several imperialist powers. In Europe, numerous left social democrats and ex-Stalinists (united in the Party of the European Left) are fully integrated in the imperialist state apparatus. In France, the PCF has a strategic alliance with the governing “Socialist” Party of Hollande; in Germany the Linkspartei is part of several regional governments, and hopes to join the next coalition government; and in Greece, SYRIZA, in power since January 2015, is loyally implementing the austerity dictates of the EU. As we have seen in the past two decades, these Western “Socialist” and “Communist” parties are perfectly capable of combining devout praises of “peace” and “socialism” with practical support for the current EU sanctions against Russia (on the backdrop of the crisis in the Ukraine), as well as backing NATO’s imperialist wars against Serbia and Afghanistan (PCF in 1999 and 2001) and the West’s military aggression since 2013 in Syria, Iraq and Mali.
51. On the other hand, there are those Stalinist parties which effectively operate as pro-Eastern social-imperialists. These parties regularly come together– the last time was the recently held “18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties” held on 28-30 October 2016 in Hanoi. A brief overview of the participants which, at the end of the meeting, agreed on a number of resolutions in which, among other things, they expressed their solidarity for the “socialist” regimes of Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and their opposition to NATO.  At this conference, China’s ruling Communist Party met with other Stalinist parties which have similarly demonstrated their loyalty to the further implementation of capitalism for years. From India, two “Communist” parties were present (the CPI and the CPI[M]), which have participated in state or the federal of governments for decades. The same is true for the Brazilian PCdoB. In a number of other cases, the conference hosted Stalinist parties which have for decades held power at the head of dictatorships from whence they administered the restoration of capitalism (China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba). The South African CP also participated in recent conference in Saigon, a party which has been part of the popular-front government successfully defending the power of (mostly white) monopoly capitalists for more than two decades. From Russia, attending the conference was a “Communist” Party like the KPRF, which, while formally in the opposition, in fact has numerous ties with Putin’s state apparatus and effectively supports his policies.
52. In short, what we see then are a vast array of social democratic or Stalinist parties which either overtly or covertly support one or several imperialist Great Powers. In the 1930, Trotsky characterized the Stalinist degenerated “Communist International“, as well as the social democratic parties as a social-patriotic parties which have become instruments of imperialism. “The ex-communist International, following in the footsteps of the Social Democracy, has transformed itself from an instrument of the emancipation of the workers and the exploited into an instrument of ‘democratic’ imperialism.”  This is even truer today. In fact, all these reformist parties are either pro-Western or pro-Eastern social-imperialist parties and, in some cases, such parties even try to serve both masters. We hardly need explain that any struggle against the imperialist powers is impossible without an intransigent struggle against all such social-imperialist lackeys of the Great Powers, wherever they may be around the world.
53. The situation is not much better with the “professional confusionists of centrism” (Trotsky). While they are usually not integrated into the bourgeois state apparatus, they adapt to the bureaucracy of reformist mass parties in the hope of gathering any of the remaining crumbs of bread. In general, one can say that – after years and years of open rivalry between the Great Powers – most self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations (e.g., the comrades of the PTS/FT) have proven to be utterly incapable of achieving a clear, class-based characterization of Russia and China, and have thus studiously avoided declaring either of these powers as “imperialist.” Some fools, like the sects of the Spartacist tradition, still spread the myth that China and Vietnam are “deformed workers states,” while in fact by doing so they have only demonstrated their own adherence to a deformed caricature of Marxism. Others explicitly reject the characterization of Russia and/or China, as “imperialist” (like the Morenoite UIT and Alan Woods IMT).
54. The result of such confusion is the failure of all these organizations to take a clear stand on the issue of Great Power rivalry or – if they have taken a clear stand – they have chose to support one of the imperialist camps. If China and Russia are not imperialist powers – as most self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations believe – they can only be semi-colonial countries or “deformed workers states.” The result of such a conclusion can only be their giving support to these powers in any confrontation with the US, the EU or Japan. Or, in other words, they are forced to become social-imperialists. Some may sincerely believe that they are acting as “anti-imperialists” if they lend support not to “their” imperialist bourgeoisie, but to that which is in conflict with their own ruling class. Nothing could possibly be a worse tragic-comic mockery of Marxism! From such a grotesque point of view, the German social democrats and Stalinists supporting the US, Britain and France against Hitler should be seen as having acted as “anti-imperialists.” Similarly, such praise should also be given the Stalinists in Britain and France who attacked their governments for not accepting Hitler’s “peace offers” in 1939-41 during the period of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. As a matter of fact, history knows many cases of reformist and even outright bourgeois forces (e.g., the Vichy collaborationists in France in 1940-45) aligning themselves with a foreign power which is in conflict with their “own” imperialist bourgeoisie. No, as we have explained in past documents, these Stalinists, social democrats and centrists are nothing but “inverted social-imperialists”!
55. Lenin and the Communist International unambiguously condemned all forms of social-imperialism – irrespective of whether they support their “own” or another bourgeoisie: „Social-chauvinism is advocacy of the idea of “defence of the fatherland” in the present war. This idea logically leads to the abandonment of the class struggle during the war, to voting for war credits, etc. In fact, the social-chauvinists are pursuing an anti-proletarian bourgeois policy, for they are actually championing, not “defence of the fatherland” in the sense of combating foreign oppression, but the “right” of one or other of the “Great” Powers to plunder colonies and to oppress other nations. The social-chauvinists reiterate the bourgeois deception of the people that the war is being waged to protect the freedom and existence of nations, thereby taking sides with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Among the social-chauvinists are those who justify and varnish the governments and bourgeoisie of one of the belligerent groups of powers, as well as those who, like Kautsky, argue that the socialists of all the belligerent powers are equally entitled to “defend the fatherland”. Social- chauvinism, which is, in effect, defence of the privileges, the advantages, the right to pillage and plunder, of one’s “own” (or any) imperialist bourgeoisie, is the utter betrayal of all socialist convictions and of the decision of the Basle International Socialist Congress.“ 
56. Similarly, Trotsky denounced these inverted social-imperialists just as mercilessly as he condemned the “normal” social-imperialists: “The Italian, German, Austrian, and now the Spanish socialist parties too are not directly bound by the discipline of national imperialism which rejected their services with a kick. They were cast into an illegality counter to their traditions and their best intentions. Because of this, naturally, they have not in the slightest degree become revolutionary. They do not of course so much as think of preparing the socialist revolution. But their patriotism is temporarily turned inside out. They stubbornly dream that the armed force of the “democracies” will overthrow their national fascist regime and enable them to reestablish themselves in their former posts, editorial offices, parliaments, leading bodies of the trade unions and to reopen their bank accounts.” 
57. It is true that some organizations honestly do want to avoid such social-imperialist conclusions. But as, until now, they have been unable to arrive at a clear class characterization of China and Russia, their only way out of this dilemma is simply to avoid the issue and to remain silent on the question of whether revolutionaries should take a revolutionary defeatist or defensist position in the case of conflicts between the US, EU, Japan, Russia and China. But this is hardly a revolutionary attitude – neither in the field of theory or of practice! Trotsky emphasized that military conflicts and wars are among the most important questions for any revolutionary organization. Ambiguity and confusion on this issue can only have devastating consequences and must be combated by all revolutionaries: “The problem of war, next to the problem of revolution, is the touchstone of a revolutionary party. Here no kind of equivocation is permissible. The principled decision is clear beforehand: defensism and defeatism are as incompatible as fire and, water. It is necessary to say this first of all. This truth must be taught the members of the party.” 
58. We emphasize that the new Revolutionary World Party can only be built on the basis of a political struggle against all those forces which side with one or another camp of the imperialist Great Powers. In the times of Lenin and Trotsky, socialist internationalism was irreconcilable with direct or indirect support for imperialist powers. This must be also be a fundamental programmatic principle for the future revolutionary International!
Imperialist Wars against Oppressed Peoples
59. The new historical phase will see an acceleration of imperialist wars in the South. True, Trump has promised to avoid costly wars of occupation like the one in Iraq from 2003. But only fools can conclude from this that the Trump era might have any shade of “pacifism”! In fact, he has already announced his intention to increase the budget for the Pentagon. He has also appointed several retired generals for top positions in the military and security administration who are all known as extremely aggressive militarists. In our pamphlet on Trump’s victory, we have described these figures more in detail. The past period was already characterized by a number of wars waged by US imperialism in the Middle East. The Obama administration has pursued a systematic campaign of assassination against various Islamist organizations in Syria that played a key role in the struggle against the Assad regime.  The entire outlook of Trump himself, as well as his militarist clique of Islamophobic warriors, can only mean that US imperialism will accelerate its aggression in the region. We need only recall the words of General Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, who fantasizes about a “multi-generational world war against Islam.”
60. This acceleration of US military aggression is in addition to the devastating war already which is waged by Russian imperialism in support of Assad’s annihilation war against the Syrian people. As the Great Powers conspire together it is difficult to assess the detailed consequences of their so-called “War against ISIS” which in fact is an imperialist war against the Syrian and Iraqi people. However there are a few indications which demonstrate the devastating dimensions of their imperialist aggression. Recently the Pentagon announced “that some 50,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed since the United States started battling the group more than two years ago”. A senior US military official called this a "conservative estimate." The official, who spoke to Pentagon reporters on condition of anonymity, said “the figure showed how the United States was effectively combating the group with US-led coalition airpower and limited US troop deployments in support of local forces.”  In this context it is interesting to remember that in September, 2014 the CIA corrected its estimation of the numbers of Daesh fighters in Iraq and Syria from about 20,000 to 31,500 fighters on the ground, much higher than a previous estimate of 10,000.  Given the fact that Daesh obviously still has many thousands – more likely, tens of thousands – fighters which are still retaining substantial territory under their control, this can only mean two things: either that Daesh is much more popular and, hence, has many more fighters than the CIA believed or – more likely – that the American imperialists and their local lackeys have indiscriminately slaughtered tens of thousands of people – among them many fighters from other Islamist organizations as well as civilians. As the Russian imperialists – together with their Iranian and Hezbollah mercenaries – are doing the same, we see an indication of the monstrous and barbaric dimensions of the Great Powers’ wars in the Middle East.
61. In addition to their reactionary war against the Syrian people, we can assume that the Great Powers will also wage wars to intensify their intervention in other countries. Naturally, the slogan of the “The War on Terror” or – in the words of General Flynn “The War against Islam” – creates a justification for military operations throughout wide areas of the globe, from Western and Central Africa to Somalia, the entire Middle East and up to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Another target which Trump has already publicly attacked is Iran, and has announced his plans to rescind the nuclear deal with that country. This reflects the desire of one wing of US imperialism, which advocates the closest possible alliance with Israel in waging a purely military confrontation in the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu and the Zionist Right have been rejoicing over Trump’s victory – irrespective of anti-Semitic tendencies among sections of Trump’s supporters.  While it is conceivable that Trump will not openly wage war against Iran – not least because the latter it has the backing of Russia and China – it may encourage, or not actively discourage, Israel from attacking against Teheran. Obviously, such aggression would provoke major tensions and unrest in the Middle East and beyond.
62. For the same reason there is a real danger that Trump’s victory – as well as Israel’s improved relations with the Putin regime – will encourage the Zionist state to attempt once again to defeat Hamas in Gaza, something which it has failed to do three times in the past decade. In other words, the Netanyahu government may try to use the changed world political situation in order to initiate wars – be they against the Palestinian people in Gaza, against Hezbollah in Lebanon or, as already said, Iran. Any of these might provoke major political explosions around the globe, but in any case will ensure that Israel becomes more isolated and hated than ever before.
Reformist and Centrist Cowardice in Face of the Imperialist Aggression
63. While the Islamophobic petty-bourgeois left turns a blind eye to this imperialist aggression, revolutionaries insist that these wars waged by Washington and Moscow are wars intended to liquidate legitimate resistance movements – usually under the leadership of various Islamist forces – fighting against dictatorships and imperialist occupation. We have already seen this in the shameful support which numerous Stalinists and centrists (e.g., Alan Woods’ IMT) lends to Assad and his Russian backers in the Syrian civil war. 
64. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that authentic revolutionaries take clear and unambiguous stands in these conflicts. Lenin’s Third and Trotsky’s Fourth International had clear principles on this issue. The Communist International in 1920 called the active support of the national liberation struggle as the duty of every revolutionary in the imperialist states: “A particularly explicit and clear attitude on the question of the colonies and the oppressed peoples is necessary for the parties in those countries where the bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations. Every party which wishes to join the Communist International is obliged to expose the tricks and dodges of ‘its’ imperialists in the colonies, to support every colonial liberation movement not merely in words but in deeds, to demand the expulsion of their own imperialists from these colonies, to inculcate among the workers of their country a genuinely fraternal attitude to the working people of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and to carry on systematic agitation among the troops of their country against any oppression of the colonial peoples.”  In a speech at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern in 1922, Trotsky stated: “Every colonial movement, which weakens the capitalist rule in the metropolises, is progressive, because it makes the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat easier to achieve.“  Later, the Fourth International repeated this principle in a resolution: “The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A ‘neutral’ position is tantamount to support of imperialism.” 
65. However, as a matter of fact, numerous reformists and centrists have accumulated a shameful record of failing to support oppressed peoples against the Great Powers. As already noted above, the French PCF was even part of a government which waged wars in the Middle East. The pro-Russian supporters of Putin’s war crimes in Syria are hardly better. So are the centrists. As we have demonstrated in various documents, these social-imperialist positions are not sudden turns, but rather a continuation of a long tradition.  Groups like the British-dominated CWI/IMT tendency (they were united in a single organization until their spilt in 1992) lent indirect support to British imperialism when it waged war against Argentina in 1982. Since 2001, the CWI has explicitly refused to give any support to Islamist-led resistance movements against the US/NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither do CWI or IMT support Hamas in its military confrontation against Israel.
66. The new Revolutionary World Party can only be built on the basis of an intransigent struggle against any vacillations of reformism and centrism on the issue of imperialist wars against oppressed peoples. How shall the new International win the trust of the popular masses who are suffering under the yoke of imperialism if it does not wage a political war against such forces which combine “socialist” phrases with direct or indirect support for the Great Powers’ military aggression?!
IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution
67. In the following sections we will give a brief overview of the key political issues in the different regions of the world and the main tasks for the international class struggle in each region. The new Revolutionary World Party can only be successfully built if it is not content to merely combine purely descriptive surveys of political developments while paying lip service to some abstract phrases about socialism – this being precisely the behavior typical of weak-minded centrism. No, in order to build a serious organization – let alone a party – it is indispensable for revolutionaries to find a correct orientation towards the key events in the world class struggle and draw the necessary conclusions from them when formulating their tactics.
68. The Arab Revolution, the most important revolutionary process to have developed since the start of the new historic period in 2008, and still remains in a process in a state of retreat which the RCIT has already analyzed in past documents.  Naturally, this retreat is not taking place along a straight line, but is a process replete with contradictory aspects. Nor, however, is this process irreversible. But in the current phase, there are clearly more defeats than advances.
69. The reasons for this development are clear. First, the uprising of the workers and peasants has met a determined campaign of annihilation being waged by much stronger enemies: the traditional ruling classes in the region which possess an oversized repressive apparatus, trained for decades, which was not successfully smashed in the first attempt. In addition, the Arab Revolution faces the opposition of literally all imperialist Great Powers – in particular the US, Russia, the EU and China. They all support the reactionary dictatorships like that of General al-Sisi in Egypt and the Gulf monarchies. And, in the case of Assad, Washington has already reconciled itself with his staying in power as the only realistic option to “restore law and order” in Syria. Second, the workers and oppressed started a revolutionary process but lacked a leadership which could drive the struggle forward to victory. The petty-bourgeois liberal forces remained isolated from the downtrodden masses and soon sought to become servants of the imperialist powers and assume the guise of slightly “reformed” versions of the old ruling class (like the old Ben Ali clique in Tunisia led by the current President Beji Caid el-Sebsi). Bourgeois Islamists, like Ennahda in Tunisia or Morsi’s al-Ikhwan in Egypt, also saved the rule of the capitalist class in the midst of the Arab Revolution by demobilizing the popular masses. And the petty-bourgeois populist Islamists usually led the popular struggles into a sectarian and guerrilla-elitist dead-end (e.g., Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham in Syria). And, third, the international workers’ movement has completely failed to deliver any meaningful support to the revolutionary masses in Syria. Most social democratic, Stalinist or centrist organizations either openly or covertly sympathize with the counterrevolution, or they take a neutral position towards this ongoing revolution.
70. Syria remains the key area of the Arab Revolution.  This is because (a) it is an ongoing revolutionary process, despite all the defeats and setbacks; and (b) it is in the focus of imperialist Great Powers US, EU and Russia as well as numerous regional powers (Turkey, Iran, Saudi-Arabia, etc.). Unfortunately the revolutionary masses have recently experienced a number of defeats. In particular, they lost Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, and most recently Aleppo – the Syrian people’s Stalingrad – where Assad’s forces and the Russia air force have slaughtered them merciless. Assad conquest of Aleppo might possibly lead to another massacre like that in Srebrenica in Bosnia in 1995. The loss of Aleppo represents a significant defeat for the Syrian people. It will probably strongly encourage the efforts of the Great Powers to finally liquidate the revolutionary process.  Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assume that the revolution is over. The fact remains that, while the rebels continue to enjoy popular support, the Assad regime can only continue the war because of massive military and financial assistance by Russian imperialism, the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. Iran officially announced in late November, 2016 that more than 1,000 of its soldiers have already died in Syria.  From this one can conclude that there must be tens of thousands of soldiers fighting in Iranian militias in Syria. Iranian sources themselves have admitted that 20,000 Shia fighters alone from Afghanistan are engaged in Syria on behalf of Assad.  The fact is that regular Syrian soldiers constitute only a minority of Assad’s forces, and they are highly demoralized. According to Mikhail Khodarenok, a retired Russian general, it is the foreign troops and private militias who are doing most of the fighting, while Assad’s official army mans checkpoints to extort bribes from the population. The general comments on Gazeta.ru: "It would be easier to disband the Syrian army and recruit a new one." 
71. The RCIT affirms its support for the ongoing Syrian Revolution, despite the terrible defeat in Aleppo, along with our hostility towards all Great Powers and lesser, regional powers who all share the desire to liquidate the Syrian Revolution. However, to persevere and to revitalize the revolution, the workers and peasants must draw the lessons of past defeats. Amongst the most important lessons are:
* No trust in and no collaboration with any Great Power!
* No to sectarianism! For multi-religious and multi-national unity in the struggle against the Assad dictatorship! For full national self-determination for all national and ethnic minorities!
* No trust in the official rebel leaderships!
* For the formation of popular councils and popular militias!
* The international workers movement must rally to support the Syrian Revolution! For a workers aid campaign for the Syrian people – as it was done in solidarity with the Bosnian people in 1992-95!
* The international workers movement must organize a campaign to boycott the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his capitalist business friends! For workers actions against the imperialist forces attacking the Syrian people!
* Open the Boarders for the Syrian Refugees!
* Most of all: For the building of a revolutionary party in Syria as part of a new revolutionary International!
72. General al-Sisi’s dictatorship in Egypt continues to brutally suppress the Islamist-led opposition. However, the regime is constantly losing support even among the layers which initially lent support to the coup – the liberal urban middle class. Cairo’s decision to sell two islands in the Red Sea to its main backer – Saudi Arabia – has resulted in widespread protest among all layers of the society. However, fundamental problems in the struggle against the regime remain, as the leadership of the trade unions has been corrupted by the regime, the bourgeois leadership of al-Ikhwan – that is, that which has not been killed or imprisoned – continues to preach passive resistance, and its youthful supporters increasingly turns towards desperate street demonstrations or armed resistance.
73. However, it is important to bear in mind the unevenness of the revolutionary process in the Arab world. The Yemeni people are successfully continuing their just resistance against the massive invasion by foreign forces led by Saudi Arabia, despite cruel massacres by the latter like the bombing of a hall in which a funeral service was taking place, killing at least 140 and wounding 525.  Given the geostrategic importance of Yemen for world trade – the Yemeni war could easily escalate and draw in the imperialist Great Powers. In fact, there has already been a limited military confrontation between the Houthi rebels and the US Navy. 
74. Similarly, there has been an upswing of mass protests in Morocco since the death of Mouhcine Fikri. These mass demonstrations are an important development, as this kingdom has been one of the stable bourgeois regimes in the region until now after a relatively short period of protests in the spring of 2011. 
75. In Turkey, Erdoğan is increasing his repression of the Kurdish people as well as that of the opposition in general. In this way he has transformed a successful mass mobilization against the attempted reactionary coup d’état on 15 July into a counterrevolutionary attempt to create a Bonapartist regime. At the same time, the regime is trying to expand its influence in the region by military intrusions, both in Syria and in Turkey. In this, Erdoğan is helped by the accelerating rivalry between the imperialist powers which allows the regime to make itself less dependent on the US by moving closer to Russia. Revolutionaries continue to oppose all attempts of the Erdoğan regime to build a Bonapartist regime, but without lending any support to pro-coup elements like FETÖ, etc. Revolutionaries also continue to support the Kurdish people’s struggle for national self-determination and the demand to liberate imprisoned HDP politicians and all other Kurdish activists. 
76. Let’s finally deal with some arguments which some centrists have put forward in order to justify their neutral position in Syria or in other flash points of the Arab Revolution. Some adopt a defeatist position, proclaiming that the Arab Revolution is already finished. To centrists of this ilk, we reply: There can be no doubt that the revolutionary masses suffered a series of defeats. But the revolution is not over as is demonstrated by the ongoing civil wars – albeit under worse conditions – in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as by the upswing of mass protests in Morocco in October and November of 2016 and in Tunisia in January of this year.  Revolutionaries don’t leave the battlefield before the masses do, but only after the latter have been defeated! Furthermore, it is worth reminding these defeatists that, historically, various revolutionary processes have faced ups and downs. The Spanish Revolution, which began in 1931 with the overthrow of the monarchy, suffered a terrible defeat in October 1934 with the crushing of the insurrection by Asturian miners. However, the revolution experienced another surge forward after General Franco’s coup d'état in July 1936, but again suffered a bloody defeat with the May 1937 Stalinist counterrevolution in Barcelona. And even then, the revolutionary process continued until 1939, when Franco won the civil war and conquered all of Spain. Revolutionaries continued to support the Spanish Revolution from its beginning to its end despite all the setbacks and despite the counterrevolutionary efforts of Stalinism and social democracy. Similarly, the RCIT – in contrast to fickle centrists – will not abandon the workers and oppressed struggling against reactionary dictatorships and Great Power aggression!
77. Stalinists and some centrists proclaim that the Syrian rebels have, for years, been agents of US imperialism.  Of course, they could never show any serious evidence for this. As a matter of fact, the Americans indeed tried to recruit some rebels and build forces under their control. But these groups remained very small and were quickly disarmed and dissolved by the Islamist rebels.  One only needs to examine some basic facts: if the Syrian rebels were agents of the US, why has the US put the most important organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra on its list of “terrorist organizations”?! Why do they kill their leaders?! Why not send them modern MANPAD weapons to bring down the Syrian and Russian aircraft bombing them every day?! Why do they stand aside when Assad and Putin slaughter the people of Aleppo day after day, week after week?! The logic of these Stalinists and centrists resembles that of their intellectual mentor who organized the Moscow trials in 1936-38 and who accused the Trotskyists and all other opponents of being “agents of Hitler”!
78. Furthermore one cannot fail to take note of the following absurdity: the Stalinists and centrist left repeatedly denounce the Arab Revolution as puppets of US imperialism, while at the same time uncritically praiseing the Kurdish Pershmerga. However, if there is a force in Syria and Iraq which could be described as “US agents,” it is precisely the fighters of Mustafa Barzani and the PKK militias who operate alongside hundreds of US “military advisers” and in close collaboration with the US air force! This only demonstrates that the Stalinists and centrists themselves don’t even take seriously their own allegations that the Syrian rebels are “US agents.”
79. Another favorite arguments of numerous centrists against support for the Syrian Revolution – and the Arab Revolution as a whole – goes as follows: how can this be a democratic revolution if its leadership is dominated by Islamists who advocate an anti-democratic program? To this we reply the following: Marxists – in contrast to petty-bourgeois centrists – characterize a revolutionary process as “democratic” not based on the specific ideology of its leadership. Not the ideology of the leadership, but objective causes and the social forces driving a given process of political struggle are the decisive factors when determining the character of a mass struggle. The Berbers in Northern Africa, who fought under the leadership of Mohammed Abd al-Karim against Spanish and French imperialism in 1921-26, did so in the name of Islam, and were fighting against “the infidels.” During those years, Al-Karim built a state based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The rebels also committed not a few massacres against their opponents. This, however, did not stop the Communist International from characterizing this struggle as “democratic,” as objectively it was a national liberation struggle against imperialism. The Comintern waged a mass international solidarity campaign for the Berbers liberation struggle, including a one-day general strike in France in October 1925. They did the same in solidarity with the Syrian insurrection directed against the French occupation at that time. Yet another example is the brutal Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya against the British occupation forces and their local supporters in the 1950s. On the other hand, we do not consider the wars of US and European as “democratic,” but as unjust and imperialist despite the fact that they are waged in the name of “democracy,” and that there is indeed a bourgeois democracy in these countries. Neither do we consider China’s plundering of Africa as “communist,” but as imperialist despite the fact that the Communist Party’s leadership in Beijing camouflages its policy with “Marxist-Leninist” phrases.
80. We note in passing what has repeatedly happened in history when uprisings for goals which are part of the program of a democratic revolution took place under the cover of religious slogans. One need not go back as far as the Zanj Slaves Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate or Thomas Münzers’ movement during the Great Peasant Uprising of 1525 in Germany. Likewise, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in China or various Islamic anti-colonial rebellions in the 20th century took place under religious slogans. However, this religious garb did not prevent the classic Marxist leaders from considering these movements as historically progressive and democratic in their social content.
81. No, Marxists do not consider a struggle as just and democratic (or unjust and anti-democratic) because of the specific ideology under which it is waged. Instead, the RCIT characterizes such struggles on the basis of the class forces involved and their objective goals. Whenever there is a popular uprising against the ruling capitalist class, the struggle has a progressive and democratic character irrespective of the specific ideology of its leadership. When a Great Power wages a war against an oppressed people, it is reactionary and imperialistic, irrespective of the specific ideology by which these powers try to justify it.
82. We conclude this chapter by re-emphasising that the entire process of the Arab Revolution, with all its failures and defeats, cannot be understood other than as a resounding crying out for a workers’ party completely independent of all ruling classes and Great Powers or, in other words, a revolutionary party. Such a party can only be forged by means of undertaking a combined struggle which participates both in the ongoing popular rebellions against dictatorships and imperialist aggression on the one hand, while simultaneously waging political and ideological battles against the various petty-bourgeois leaderships on the other. Naturally, the conditions for building a revolutionary party vary greatly in different countries. In some countries, revolutionaries can operate under conditions of relative legality (e.g., Tunisia, Morocco or Lebanon), while in other countries they face severe repression (e.g., Egypt or the Gulf monarchies) or even face the extreme conditions of civil war (Syria, Yemen, Libya). Under all conditions, revolutionaries should focus on advancing the independent organizations of the working class and oppressed (e.g., trade unions, factory committees, councils of action, workers’ and popular militias, workers’ parties). However, such a struggle for working class independence cannot and must not take place outside of the existing mass organizations but rather inside them in order to break a sector of the workers and oppressed away from the corrupted leaderships.
Daesh, Imperialism and the Revolutionary Struggle
83. A correct Marxist understanding of Daesh is of crucial importance in the present period, as it is a central issue both in the Arab world as well as in imperialist countries where the ruling class uses it as a means to justify increasing state repression at home and military aggressions abroad. Contrary to the “professional confusionists of centrism” who operate with superficial petty-bourgeois idealist methods, Marxists have to approach such issues in a dialectical and materialistic way, focusing on the inner contradictions of the classes involved in the political process.
84. The emergence of such reactionary forces like the Salafi-Takfiri Daesh has been the product of demoralization among sectors of the youth and the rural poor resulting from the defeats of the Arab Revolution. In addition, the intensifying Islamophobic racism and the dire outlook for Muslim migrant youth in the imperialist metropolises are pushing a sector of them into the arms of Daesh. Furthermore, the imperialist war-drive in Syria and Iraq under the banner of “War against IS” and the massive state repression (Muslim youth in Europe are thrown into prison for only sharing a video of Daesh on Facebook!) increase the credibility of Daesh in the eyes of some Muslims as a “revolutionary” and “anti-imperialist” force. These factors – defeats and demoralization, the intensifying Islamophobia, and the imperialist war and repression – are the main sources of strength of Daesh, and not the supposedly secret support of US imperialism or Assad, as many silly leftists claim who replace Marxist political class analysis with obscure conspiracy theories.
85. Daesh’s social composition is dominated by a coalition of sectors of the impoverished petty-bourgeois intelligentsia and the urban and rural poor. Its policy represents a strange combination of shades of ideological adherence to the struggle against the “infidel” dictators – the driving force of the Arab Revolution – with unlimited counter-revolutionary (one could even say “fascistic”) hatred and repression against each and every form of democratic rights and popular self-governance, in fact against all non-Muslims and even all other strands of Muslims outside of their own sect. Where they establish power, it takes the form of an outright theocratic sectarian dictatorship – in fact its basis is a “deal” with the local bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie: While Daesh usurps complete political and ideological power and imposes its rules with terrorist might it ensures security for the owners of private property. Reports from Daesh-controlled territory show that the highly centralized character of Daesh’s “Caliphate” and the qualitatively less corrupt nature of the Daesh fighters (given their religious commitment) have created more security in public life for many people (provided they submit to Daesh’s strict cultural rules) than this has been the case in areas controlled by Assad or the Bagdad government with all their highly corrupt and rivalling militias. The main desire of Daesh’s leadership is to establish their small “Caliphate” (one could characterize this as an Islamist version of the Stalinist utopia of “socialism in one country”). Such a “Caliphate” represents a theocratic and terroristic dictatorship of a petty-bourgeois, Salafi-Takfiri elite on the basis of a capitalist economy (dominated by small property owners). Hence, Daesh’s vision of a caliphate is nothing else than a dictatorship on the basis of keeping the capitalist property relations – in other words, precisely the opposite of the political freedom for which the workers and poor in Syria and Iraq are fighting.
86. Despite its (counter)-“revolutionary” rhetoric, this is basically a conservative project and from this flows the principal desire for accommodation with the ruling class by Daesh’s leadership. This is, however, completely utopian, as the whole dynamic of the Arab Revolution, as well as the advancing counterrevolution, leaves no place for such a petty-bourgeois reactionary utopia.
87. Daesh is an outright and direct enemy of the working class, and must to be defeated by the workers and peasants of the region. Daesh needs to be driven out of every movement which resists imperialism. Its attacks on forces which are fighting against US-imperialism in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, demonstrate how urgent this task is.
88. However, it is important to understand the contradictory nature of Daesh in a dialectical way. It would be wrong to equate Daesh with such counterrevolutionary reactionary forces like the Basij militia in Iran, which is simply a tool of the ruling class which has held power for decades. Nor would it be correct to equate it with fascist forces like the UDF loyalists in Northern Ireland, which have their origins in the struggle to keep the British imperialist occupation and the sectarian privileges in place. Daesh neither represents an established ruling class or an imperialist power, but has emerged as a reactionary product of a revolutionary process.
89. In any conflict between the imperialist forces and Daesh, we say that the main enemies are the Great Powers (like the US, Russia and France). In such cases, we lend support to the military struggle of Daesh against the imperialist forces. However, at the same time it is crucial to denounce Daesh as counter-revolutionaries and to unmask their true nature. While in certain situations they might be forced to oppose the forces of imperialism, their program and their strategy can in no way be characterized as anti-imperialist. Furthermore, one cannot exclude the possibility that they seek negotiations with the Great Powers. The workers, peasants and poor of Syria and Iraq are the only force which can really defeat imperialism. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen all those rebel forces closely connected with the popular masses. Clearly, with the exception of situations involving direct confrontation between the imperialist forces and Daesh, the struggle against Daesh remains of primary importance.
90. In summary, Daesh represents an arch-reactionary, petty-bourgeois force based on the extremely sectarian Salafi-Takfiri ideology. It is an outright and direct enemy of the working class. However, we emphasize that the biggest murderer of the Syrian people is not Daesh but the Assad regime and their imperialist backers! We, therefore, strongly reject the imperialist, Stalinist and centrist myth that the main character of the Syrian civil war is the war against Daesh. In fact, this is a subordinate element! Revolutionaries support the struggle of the Syrian rebels against Daesh (but certainly not the military campaign of Assad’s mercenaries or of the Bagdad government). Likewise, we support the struggle of Kurdish rebels where they defend Kurdish territory, but not where they advance as lackeys of US and Russian imperialism (e.g., in their attempts to attack Raqqa). Hence, we reject the widespread uncritical praise for the petty-bourgeois nationalist YPG/PKK by most of the Stalinist and pseudo-“Trotskyist” left, as this organization is closely aligned with US and Russian forces, which have hundreds of their “military advisers” among its ranks. In fact, the Stalinist and centrist hype for the YPG/PKK leadership is nothing but a camouflaged adaption to imperialism.
91. Daesh’s origins in the struggles against dictatorships, state repression in Europe, and the ongoing imperialist war-drive against, all help Daesh to gain some credibility and popularity among sectors of the impoverished layers. Revolutionaries in Europe should oppose the state repression being directed against the migrant youth. Likewise, revolutionaries should stand for the defeat of the Great Powers in any confrontation with Daesh. A defeat for the Great Powers at the hands even of such a reactionary force like Daesh would be a step forward for the global struggle against imperialism, and not a step backward. In contrast to the revisionists, we base our politics on Trotsky’s position that Marxists even defend “fascists” against the “democratic” imperialists, As he wrote at the end of the 1930s: “I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semi-fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!”