Saturday, May 15, 2021


Only Permanent Revolution across the MENA can resolve endless slaughter.


For an international workers united front to defeat all imperialist 

incursions in MENA and the  Zionist colonial war. 

Netanyahu has staged a provocation in East Jerusalem because his plan to isolate Iran from the Arab states and drive home the Zionist dream of complete occupation of Palestine has been overtaken by two crises. The first is internal, that the Arab revolution is still alive and the Palesinian masses refuse to live that nightmare. He cannot guarantee to form a new government and remain in power without another war. Second, the terminal crisis of capital which sparked the Arab Spring forced the MENA regimes to repress successive waves of uprisings, but failed to restore stability to the region. From Morocco to Iran, the masses are restive and primed to explode. 

Palestine has always been the fuse that kept the cause of the Arab revolution smouldering and Israel, as the US gendarme in MENA, has always stamped down on that fuse. But the world has changed. New imperialist powers, Russia and China, and their regional allies, Turkey and Iran, have shifted the balance of power in MENA and reduced Israel’s significance as chief gendarme. It could be that Netanyahu will make the Zionist project the ditch that Israel will die in and release the power of the masses in MENA. 

Al Monitor reports a new generation of young fighters, millennials that grew up during the period of neo-liberal exhaustion of democracy and the rise of the capitalist dictatorship. This coincides with the rise in the Arab population inside the 1948 border of Israel and the militant confrontations between Zionist reactionaries and Arab militants now occurring..  

Netanyahu, facing possible jailing for corruption and a loss of political power, has clamped down on the political rights of Israeli Arabs. His main rivals are led by Benny Gantz, defence minister in the caretaker government overseeing the bombardment of Gaza. This has tied Gantz’ hands in a war cabinet and set back the formation of a new coalition government including Arab parties. Moreover, the spread of the current resistance inside Israel’s 1948 borders makes the two-state solution even more a reactionary dystopia. Even so, this development is isolated from the Palestinian struggle, which itself is subordinated to the national interests of the bourgeois factions of Hamas and Fatah. The sidelining of Fatah in the West Bank strengthens the Hamas leadership of the national struggle to the West Bank. The form of the political program of the Palestine struggle becomes more Islamic than secular, but in its essence it remains nationalist. 


Trump’s administration backed Netanyahu’s aggressive plan to expand the settlements, destroy Hamas and build support for a war with Iran. But the election of Biden had put a question mark over that plan. Netanyahu’s ability to hold onto power by building an alliance with Arab states against Iran has backfired as Biden opens negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons. The Gendarme no longer has a crime scene and needs to create one. Assaulting the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan provoked immediate mass resistance designed to force Hamas into another war; this put Biden’s support for a war to destroy Iran and its proxy Hamas, the main threats to Israel’s existence as the US gendarme in MENA, to the test. Given Biden’s form as a self-confessed Zionist, it was not long before Netanyahu got the backing he wanted. (Ha aretz, “Biden: I Don't Believe Israel Has Significantly Overreacted to Gaza Rocket Fire”)

The recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of the Zionist state and the opening of the US embassy there was a bipartisan move by the US imperialist state, not an isolated action of the Trump regime. This is a bloc of right wing Christian Zionists whose belief that the return of the messiah will only come when Israel controls Jerusalem. Then the rapture will come and elevate all the Christians and condemn the non-believers to damnation. But this reactionary theocratic bullshit is just a dog whistle to the evangelicals’ cover being used by the historically anti-semitic western imperialism and tolerated by AIPAC who know full well they are in bed with Jew hating anti-semitic zealots. 

The bipartisan approval of the capitol move was a green light to the Zionists that the US is supporting the displacement of Palestinians, the continued isolation of Palestinians and the starvation of Gaza. The US gives on average 3 billion dollars a year to the Zionist military project - this is a bipartisan agreement uniting everyone from Trump to Cheney to Biden and Harris. The US media alongside BBC echoes the Biden/Netanyahu talking point that the Zionists have the right to “Cast Lead”, “Mow the Lawn'' and kill civilians trapped in the largest open air prison in the world indiscriminately.


Yes, the workers and farmers are rising to fight a new war. The Israeli ruling class is divided, but it is not divided on the question of defence of Israel, so counter-revolution looms large. Racist anti-Arab mobs have mobilized in the streets inside the Green line attacking Palestinians indiscriminately -- the chant “kill the Arabs” is hauntingly reminiscent of the current Proud Boy’s meme 6MWE (six million wasn’t enough.) Netanyahu will go for the nuclear option rather than go to jail. How far he needs to go to stay in power and get backing for his war on Iran, depends not upon whether the UN or US broker a peace deal (of course they will try),  but whether he can force a ceasefire on Hamas on his terms.  That will depend on Hamas retaining control over the leadership of the resistance and keeping it chained to the “anti-imperialist” popular front two-state solution. 

It will take the emergence of a revolutionary Trotskyist internationalist party challenging the nationalist leadership and program with a transitional program for permanent revolution, to open up a pre-revolutionary situation. Therefore, rather than use the term ‘pre-revolutionary’ situation to describe any uprising that objectively challenges capitalist rule, we argue that this term can only have meaning if it includes the existence of the subjective factor in revolution - a  healthy internationalist Trotskyist party and program. We need that party to grasp the situation in Palestine and MENA, to expose the counter-revolutionary political programs put forward by most of the left to sellout the revolution, and to win support for that vanguard party and transitional program to lead the fight for the permanent revolution.  

It is not only Fatah and Hamas that have used military adventures to negotiate a two state solution, most of the so-called revolutionary left is stuck in the same groove. Much of the so-called revolutionary left is busy sucking up to the two-stage, two state, (or bi-state) line in Palestine and the whole of MENA.  For example the League for the Fifth International (LFI) talks about the bi-national state in which Israelis and Palestinians peacefully coexist:

Red Flag calls for the establishment of a bi-national state based on full legal equality for all, the right of return for Palestinians expelled during Israel’s colonialist wars, and supports Palestinian struggles such as the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement.” (LFI, “Halt Israeli aggression in Gaza and  Jerusalem”)

We have criticised the LFI in the past for adapting to social imperialism. Specifically British imperialism. But its stand on Palestine adapts to US imperialism because it sows illusions in the self-determination of Palestine being resolved by the national democratic revolution without the defeat of the Zionist and Palestinian national bourgeoisies and their imperialist masters. 

An analogous pipedream is  proposed by the CWI, the Taafe-ist Committee for a Workers’ International: In fact it is neither a call for an international nor a call for international workers unity. It is the 2-state wine in a new bottle. Take a look!

With workers’ parties, Palestinian and Israeli, adopting a programme for a socialist Palestine alongside a socialist Israel – as part of a socialist confederation of the Middle East – it will be possible to lay the basis for bringing the capitalist nightmare of cycles of death and destruction to an end.


For an independent, democratic socialist Palestinian state, alongside a democratic socialist Israel, with two capitals in Jerusalem and guaranteed democratic rights for all minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East” (CWI, “Conflict in Jerusalem widens across Israeli cities and to war on Gaza”)

Similarly the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) claims that Jews have national rights in Palestine because they have ‘interpenetrated’ with Arabs. This confuses Jewish national (democratic) rights with Zionist ultra-nationalism. Jews and Palestinians do not have “competing territorial and national claims” in Palestine. The existence of Israel results from the rape of Palestine. Get a load of this pseudo-Trotskyism! The Zionist project was explicitly rejected by Trotsky!

The only historically progressive solution to this seemingly intractable problem lies through joint Arab/Jewish working-class struggle to smash Zionism from within while seeking to establish a bi-national workers’ state as part of a larger socialist federation of the Middle East. A voluntary socialist federation, led by a class-conscious proletariat rooted in the region’s diverse national, ethnic and religious communities, is the only political framework capable of equitably resolving the competing territorial and national claims. (our emphasis) “  (IBT, “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class”)

The RCIT does not call for a bi-state, but rather for armed struggle, the destruction of the Zionist state and a “democratic and red Palestine.” But it doesn’t make clear that the revolutionary party of the workers and farmers must lead the struggle. Is this an anti-imperialist workers’ front or an anti-imperialist popular front? Get this!:

We call for the formation of popular assemblies and militias so that the Palestinian people can organize and defend their struggle for liberation! The treacherous Palestinian Administration Mahmoud Abbas must immediately stop its collaboration with the Israeli state and distribute weapons to the people so that they can defend themselves against the Zionist killers.”

“We repeat: As long as the Zionist state exists, the Palestinians will continue suffering from state terrorism! This is why we stand for the socialist perspective of a democratic and red Palestine. We support the struggle for the destruction of the Zionist state and the right to return for all Palestinian refugees.” (RCIT, “The Fourth Gaza War Has Begun! Defend the Palestinian People – Defeat Israel!”)


What does a “democratic and red Palestine” mean? Is it shorthand for permanent revolution i.e. to be democratic is to be red? It seems not, as the RCIT does not define the “democratic and red Palestine” as a workers’ and farmers’ state based on the rise to power of the armed workers and peasants councils, does it? Missing are the demands for workers and peasants to arm themselves, to disarm the police and to arm  the workers councils, for Israeli conscripts to mutiny, and to not rely on Fatah, Hamas or the Arab ruling class for arms. 

No better is the proclamation of the Fraccion Leninista-Trotskista Internacionalista (FLTI), a tendency with many militants who are being miseducated in a non-Marxist, non-programmatic method that invites the national bourgeoisie to join the exploited classes in a Palestinian National Assembly! You’ll search their position in vain for the call for a socialist revolution putting the working people in power. And suppose you wish to see their Transitional Program with which to make this revolution. You won’t find theirs! Could it be that they think their call for a workers and peasants government without workers councils or their armed militias suffices for the logic that socialism will automatically be the outcome of this National Assembly? This is a plan for stagism, not the permanent revolution. This is not different from calls for a Constituent Assembly, complete with class enemy representatives.

For the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel! For a free, secular, democratic and non-racist Palestine, which can only be guaranteed by a workers’ and peasants’ government! A Palestinian national assembly of Gaza, the West Bank and all the Diaspora!” (FLTI, July, 2020,  “Stop the offensive of imperialism and its Zionist gendarme on the Palestinian people and the whole Middle East!”)


Stopping the revolution at the bourgeois democratic stage is counter-revolutionary because there is no ‘half-way’ house where the revolution can be put on pause. Either the democratic revolution is completed by the socialist revolution or the revolution retreats under the capitalist counter-revolution. We warn against the illusions of appealing to Fatah and other Arab leaders to arm the struggle. Both Hamas and Fatah are treacherous bourgeois factions that have done deals to keep alive the two-state  solution. This makes the IBT claim that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ doubly treacherous. It assumes first that Jews have the national right to a state in Palestine, and that a bi-national solution will enable both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace in a democratic transition to socialism. The ‘end of apartheid’ in South Africa was ‘paused’ on a bourgeois democratic  bi-racial semi-colony still under the heel of imperialism. 

Trotsky stated clearly that while Jews are a people and have a right to national self-determination, this right cannot be won by occupying another nation. Therefore Jews have no right to a state in Palestine. Israel is the only settler colony that came into existence during the period of decolonisation of the former European colonies after WW2. The lessons of decolonisation are clear. Self-determination is not possible for a colony unless it breaks completely free from imperialism. The only way to liberate Palestine is through permanent revolution that breaks from the national bourgeoisie as well from its imperialist masters. Then Palestinians and Israelis would freely choose to live together or apart and to what degree. 

The ongoing Zionist war against Palestine must be recognised as leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Revolution and the revolution in the region as a whole. Not just the revolution  against Israel but the whole Arab ruling class and their imperialist backers, and the regional powers of Iran and Turkey. It is the weapon of permanent counter-revolution against the international permanent revolution! 

In defence of the Palestinian masses we support an anti-imperialist united front for the destruction of the Zionist state, the uniting and arming of the masses from Morocco to Iran, the defeat of the bourgeois lackey regimes, the expropriation of capitalist and imperialist monopolies and the defeat of imperialist invading armies.

We have to smash the popular front politics of the Menshevik left and build a new Trotskyist international party that solves the crisis of leadership by defeating the treacherous national leaderships, uniting the struggle across borders, for the victory of workers and farmers’ governments based on armed workers and farmers councils, united in a federation of MENA socialist republics. 


15 May 2021

International Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency

Thursday, April 29, 2021

May 1st! International Workers Day!

We say that for workers to live, capitalism must die!

To End Capital’s Terminal Crisis We Must Solve the Crisis of Revolutionary Leadership!

This international workers day, revolutionary workers have to confront the question: can we workers organise as a class conscious vanguard and make a revolution in time to end the terminal crisis of capital and prevent the destruction of humanity? We are talking about 10 years. If there is no global revolution in that time we are facing the extinction of humanity. That is what terminal crisis means. The self-destruction of capitalism would be a dystopia, but there is no coming back from extinction. Facing chronic falling profits,(1) climate collapse,(2) and out-of-control pandemics, (3) capitalism cannot save itself from its death drive and threatens to take down humanity with it. We have no choice but socialism or extinction. For workers, and humanity, to survive and live fully in harmony with nature, capitalism has to be overthrown by an international socialist revolution and replaced by a world socialist society.

For workers everywhere, facing intolerable economic suffering, a climate meltdown,  the pandemic raging from mutation to mutation, the disruption of the atmosphere which brings destruction of crops, loss of jobs and lives, we are already facing a mounting life or death crisis. In response many workers and farmers are resisting and fighting back for life and liberty. In every continent the masses are stirring and marching on the streets for democracy – in Syria after a genocidal war the masses still fill the streets marching against Assad. In Myanmar, youth and tribal militias unite to oppose the military regime. In China there are rebellions in Hong Kong and in Uyghur Xinjiang against the Maoist dictatorship. In India, three months of the farmers uprising against the Modi fascist regime now converges with the second wave of Covid mutations.  In Palestine, China, US, South Africa, India, Chile, to name just some, the state forces are stepping up their bloody repression.

These are class struggles for basic bourgeois democratic rights in response to the crackdown by the capitalist ruling classes against workers to squeeze the last ounce of surplus value out of them to restore stagnant profits. Workers who face poverty and death are risking their lives on the streets because they have nothing to lose. But these struggles are still isolated nationally and internationally. If we look at their demands, they are defensive in nature opposing capital stripping them of all their past gains. Their perspective is immediate survival, with no realisation that this is not possible short of revolution. They are held back by a reformist, treacherous left leadership that deflects their struggles away from uniting and mobilising the world working class to that of begging their bourgeois regimes to make reforms.  

Such defensive struggles are the necessary first spontaneous steps as the proletariat stands up to resist capital’s demands. Communists call for the building of united fronts of all oppressed people to strengthen and broaden the struggles nationally and internationally. Yet this international solidarity falls far short of real international class unity. It operates at the level of class-in-itself rather than class-for-itself. Class-in-itself means workers unite at the level of defending the share of wages against profits in the capitalist economy. Lenin called the conception of class struggle over the distribution of income “trade union” consciousness. It means that workers' struggles are limited to defending their income share without the knowledge that they create all the value and therefore all income! Yet they cannot challenge the underlying cause of a widening gap between wages and profits unless they become a “class-for-itself,” conscious of its role as the producers of value. That is, conscious as a class of the underlying exploitation of workers in the sphere of production under fire from capital to pump out every last ounce of surplus value. Short of being a “class-for-itself” the weight of bourgeois ideology hanging around workers’ necks is reinforced by the reformist leaderships in the unions and parliaments who engineer opportunist political betrayals. (4)  

So even while, objectively, inevitably, global capitalism is facing its terminal crisis, this recognition does not automatically awaken workers’ class consciousness to the need for socialist revolution. It follows that workers do not see the crisis of revolutionary leadership as a life and death question. But the facts dictate that we must throw out the rotten, reformist leaderships of our class and create a new leadership that unites the class conscious workers internationally as a class-for-itself.  Such is the precondition for socialist revolution. Therefore, revolutionaries must explain on every occasion why in this period of capital’s terminal crisis, the treacherous leaderships have retreated further from revolution to counter-revolution. Why have they redoubled their efforts to act as the allies and lackeys of the ruling class, trapping workers in a “class-in-itself” reformist consciousness?  

Who are the treacherous reformist currents

The main reformist currents heading workers movements today owe their origin to the early 20th century Social Democratic and Menshevik parties that played a reactionary role against the Bolshevik leadership of the Russian revolution. They opposed socialist revolution arguing it was premature as capitalism hadn’t created the conditions for socialism in Russia. They acted as part of the counter-revolutionary wave that drove the revolution backwards into the Stalinist bureaucracy and into international defeat by fascism in the 1920s and 1930s. Today they are born-again Mensheviks with a program of immediate demands that does not mention the need to overthrow capitalism because they propose to take it over and manage capitalism themselves in the name of ‘socialism’.   

The currents that originated in Menshevism-Stalinism and which continue to play a counter-revolutionary role today are the Castroists, (5) Maoists, (6) anarchists, (7) and Bolivarians. (8) Castroists and Maoists derive directly from Stalinism. Anarchists are hostile to the communist tradition and talk about smashing the state but then act up to join it.  The Bolivarians integrate the Castroists and Maoists, along with a new batch of Mensheviks – the ex-Trotskyists who have broken from Trotsky’s permanent revolution. (9)  So despite their differences in branding they are a tag team representing petty bourgeois and bureaucratic layers in the working class and peasantry who serve as the agents of capital. Their minimum program consists of bourgeois reforms that benefit their class interests, mobilising workers to march on the streets into the dead end of parliament, and treat the working class as no more than film extras in their social media scenarios.

Of all these currents, the Bolivarians are the major barrier to the development of working class consciousness today because they provide a home for all the class traitors. Chavez even gave it a name “The Fifth International''. They pay lip service to a Marxism that Marx would not recognise. Their ‘imperialism of fools’ keeps alive the cold-war cheerleading for Russia and ‘communist’ China against ‘imperialism’. China and Russia are painted as the leaders of the “anti-imperialist united front” because they are characterised as ‘market-socialist’, semi-colonial, sub-imperialist even, but never imperialist states. This allows them to apply the Menshevik-Stalinist method of the popular front that strangles the rise of independent workers struggles on a global scale, preparing the ground for capital’s final solution – fascism.  

Facing the terminal crisis, the China-Russia led global popular front traps workers in the reformist, opportunist, politics of class-in-itself in the name of national roads to socialism. To imagine that China or Russia has any claim to be a ‘socialist’ or  ‘workers’ state’, or even a semi-colony, thereby qualifying as ‘anti-imperialist’ is deluded. Clearly none of these can account for, in China’s case, GDP growth at an average of 10% for twenty years. Lenin’s theory of imperialism allows us to show that both Russia and China  are today restored capitalist states, driven by the law of value, and producing over-accumulated capital that must be exported across the world to extract super-profits from their newly recruited semi-colonies – that is, as new imperialist states!

Such a transition to imperialism by former degenerated or deformed workers’ states in a time of capital’s decline and decay has to be explained by applying Leninist-Trotskyist theory.  We argue, following Trotsky, that the restoration of capitalism was managed by the former bureaucratic caste in control of the state which converted the centralised economy into state capitalism. This allowed the bureaucracy to act as a new capitalist ruling class managing the transition by retaining accumulated profits and using the Maoist brand to claim the export of capital was not plunder but aid. This ‘win-win’ scenario is used by the Bolivarians to subordinate the national struggles of the oppressed to the two rising imperialist powers that are now competing with the US and EU states to re-divide the world.  Inevitably as this renewed inter-imperialist rivalry between the two blocs leads to more proxy wars that can spill over into world war, the Bolivarians ‘will rally to the flag of the “5th International” alongside their ‘socialist-imperialist” exploiters to defeat their rivals. (10)

Marx, Lenin and Trotsky against the class traitors

We say this is why the terminal crisis of capitalism can only be overcome by resolving the crisis of revolutionary leadership. The treacherous leaderships must be denounced and replaced by a new revolutionary international leadership capable of overthrowing capitalism and building socialism. That leadership must be based on the method and theory of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky to guide the proletariat and its allies to the victory of socialism. The proletariat as a class-in-itself can become a class-for-itself, grasping the continuity of the theory and practice  of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, to understand the objective reality of crisis-ridden capitalism, and the need to act subjectively to overthrow capitalism and build socialism.

For Marx, Lenin and Trotsky the proletarian party is the revolutionary ‘subject’ (active agent) – the class conscious revolutionary vanguard that tests the program in practice as the ‘proletarian scientist’ to see if it works to further the revolution. This requires ‘democracy’, for open and free debate of all party members to enable a majority vote to decide how to put the program to the test. But democracy would be just talk without the necessary ‘centralism’, the unity in action necessary to test the program so that the lessons learned can be clearly evaluated and the program advanced.  Compare the Leninist-Bolshevik  democratic-centralist party with the bureaucratic-centralist party of the Stalinist-Menshevik currents. The reformist program is handed down by petty bourgeois bureaucrats and intellectuals to workers as ‘objects’ (powerless dupes) of history. Of course, the arguments against the Leninist party come from those who fear the rise of the proletariat as the powerful, independent ‘class-for-itself’ class, realising its historic mission in putting an end to capitalism.

The standard Stalinist-Menshevik objection to the Leninist vanguard party dates back to the early 20th century. It is that the party substitutes itself for the proletariat. But compare the proletariat armed as a revolutionary vanguard that wins the support of the majority of workers, with the reformist party led by bureaucrats that substitutes itself for the proletariat in order to serve the enemy classes. In every historic test, victory to the proletariat is the result of whether or not a vanguard party exists. In the one single historic case – Russia – where the vanguard party existed and was battle hardened – it was able to make a victorious revolution and withstand the international invasion and internal counter-revolution for seven years before degenerating under the Stalinist bureaucracy. In that great revolution democratic centralism resolved the crisis of leadership. Everywhere else, workers deluded by Social Democracy, Kautskyism or anarchism,  did not see the need to build the party, or built it too late (as in Weimar Germany) and fell to the counter-revolution. Bureaucratic centralism prevailed. Is it any wonder that the vanguard party is feared and every effort has been made since to defame and sabotage it?

It is clear what we must do. The class conscious proletariat must take the stage to realise its historic mission to end the destruction of nature and allow the embryonic socialism to prevent the history of humanity ending in extinction. The objective reality of the collapse of the ecology we need to survive is imminent. We have little time to do it.  All our energy must be devoted to building a class conscious vanguard as the new world party of socialist revolution grounded in the method and program of Trotsky’s Fourth International, to overthrow the international bourgeoisie,  install Workers’ and Farmers’ Governments in every country and build the United Socialist Republics of the World.

International Leninist Trotskyist Tendency

(1)The most important law of motion of capitalism for Marx was the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall. For capitalists to compete they had to develop technology to increase the productivity of their workers’ labour power, i.e. the rate of surplus value (s). This created a tendency for rising constant capital (c) – plant, machinery etc., that did not produce value, relative to falling variable capital (the value of labour power that did produce more value than its own value - (s) so that the rate of profit (p) was expressed as  s/c+v. It is the only scientific explanation for the long term “secular fall” in the rate of profit since the 1870s.


(2)Marx’s ‘metabolic rift’ explains that capitalism must destroy itself by destroying nature. Or, It’s the Capitocene not Anthropocene stupid. 

Why only 10 years to reverse climate catastrophe?

(3)The Sars Covid-2 virus infecting humans is caused by capitalist- driven ecological collapse and will likely prove one of many future pandemics unless workers intervene to restore ecological systems and the unity of society and nature. We have to seize every opportunity to wrest power from the bourgeoisie to take control of pandemics through strikes, occupations and the political general strike for a Workers and Farmers Government.


(4)Marxism is a science that reveals the inner workings of capitalism. For Marx, class-in-itself is part of the objective reality of the contradictory social relations of production, wage-labour/capital. These exploitative social relations are misrepresented in bourgeois ideology as equal relations of exchange which then becomes the ideological  basis for opportunist reforms. Therefore understanding Marxism is necessary to enable workers to escape the reification of objectification of bourgeois ideology (class in itself) and become a consciously subjective class-for-itself organised in the democratic centralist vanguard party which tests and develops the revolutionary program in practice.


(5)The Castroites and their cheerleaders originated in the Cuban Revolution. The petty bourgeois national revolution led by Fidal Castro was not intended to be a socialist revolution as he tried to negotiate with US imperialism to form an independent republic. When the US rebuffed Castro, and attempted to overthrow his regime in 1961, he turned to the USSR and declared Cuba a socialist republic.  What emerged in Cuba was a deformed workers’ state, deformed at birth, subordinated to the USSR, which from that point acted to undermine the revolution in Latin America and Africa in line with the Stalinist national roads to socialism to win bourgeois allies for building socialism in the USSR. Castro backed populist regimes in Chile where he supported Allende to stop the workers arming. As if to prove that he was a Castroite, Che Guevara snubbed the striking miners in Bolivia to attempt to organise a peasants’ uprising under the noses of the Media Luna landowners in Bolivia where he was captured and executed by the US-backed Barrientos regime. Today Cuba under Raul Castro has overseen the restoration of capitalism in a ‘strategic’ relationship with the People’ s Republic of China, and acted as mentor to the Bolivarian ALBA states in their alliance backed by the PCC.

(6)The Maoists, unlike the Castroists who accidentally ended up in the Stalinist camp in 1961, were born Stalinists. Mao became a leader of the CCP after its anti-Stalinist leadership in Shanghai was eliminated in 1927 by Chiang Kai Shek on Stalin’s orders. Chiang’s national bourgeois party, the Kuomintang (KMT) was recognised by Stalin as a popular front partner of the CCP  according to his theory of the “Bloc of Four Classes” –  the peasants, workers, intellectuals and national bourgeoisie.  The military bloc formed between the KMT and CCP in 1937 to defeat the  Japanese occupiers succeeded in 1945 and the resulting ‘civil war’ between them was won by the Red Army in 1949.  When the KMT decamped to Taiwan the CCP declared the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Since the liberation war was won by the CCP with the defeat of the national bourgeoisie, Trotskyists regard the PRC as a ‘deformed workers’ state’ (DWS) from its inception, virtually the same in its form as the then degenerated workers’ state in the USSR. Despite their differences, both followed the policy of ‘socialism in one country’ which called for popular fronts between workers, peasants and the ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie to form ‘peoples’ governments. The PRC produced a number of satellite regimes – DPRK, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Nepal, Balkans etc., where bureaucratic/military regimes based on the petty bourgeois peasants took state power following armed struggles.


(7)Anarchists are the weakest most amorphous section of the petty bourgeois left because they avow to smash every state which includes a workers’ state. Their petty bourgeois individualism means that whenever a political crisis put their ideology to the test as in Russia in the 1920s and Spain in the 1930s, they sided with the bourgeoisie.


(8)The Bolivarian movement arose in Latin America in the period since 1992 when both the USSR and China restored capitalism. It draws not only on the Stalinist/Menshevik method of the Castroists and Maoists, but on a new batch of Mensheviks who have betrayed Leninism and Trotskyism - the renegade Trotskyists.  These counter-revolutionary tendencies adapt class struggle to bourgeois democracy to advance their petty bourgeois bureaucratic interests as servants of the bourgeoisie.  They revise Marxism to trap the class struggle at the level of distribution, that is, the economism of class-in-itself. Named after Simon Bolivar, who led the first wave of national independence from Spain, France and Portugal in the 18th century, the Bolivarians adopt the method of popular front Governments in which proletarian, petty bourgeois and bourgeois parties participate to break with imperialism and form bourgeois socialist republics. Hence,  Venezuela under Chavez, Ecuador under Correa, Bolivia under Morales, Brazil under Lula and Argentina under the Peronists, were part of the sphere of influence of imperialist Russia and China.


(9)We define Renegade Trotskyists as those who abandoned materialist dialectics and the 4th International; did not unconditionally defend the Soviet Union; adapted to Menshevism/Stalinism; sold out national revolutions in Bolivia, Vietnam, Chile, etc; sold out to social imperialism, and today sell out to Chinese ‘socialist-imperialism’ by calling for its defence against the imperialists of the US/EU bloc. In other words instead of calling for Chinese and Russian workers to turn their guns on their own ruling class, they call for workers to go to war in the name of defending a bogus  ‘anti-imperialist united front’.


(10) The geopolitics of the global popular front led by Russia and China are evident in Cuba’s restoration as a semi-colony of ‘market-socialist’ China. The BRICS, especially South Africa and Brazil are now semi-colonies of China,  though India is signaling its shift towards the US as a member of the QUAD. Bolivarian Venezuela is the model member of the 5th (Chinese) International. They are cheerleaders for Russia smashing the Syrian revolution and Russia’s annexation in Crimea and intervention in Ukraine. The inter-imperialist rivalry between the two main blocs led by the US and China has been building for a decade or more and today is reaching a flash point inevitably drawing the world’s workers into more wars that can easily spill over into world war. The Permanent Revolution remains the global call sign for revolutionary internationalists to solve the crisis of revolutionary leadership in a world socialist revolution!


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Keynes vs Marx on Idealism and Materialism


The NZ Labour Party hanging onto the coat-tails of dying capitalism will end up in the same graveyard of “progressive hopes”. Fortunately, before that happens workers will reach peak idealism and awaken to dialectical materialism. But such is its hold on our minds, idealism is not spontaneously replaced by the materialist world view we need to make the transition from capitalism to socialism. 

Without a class conscious revolutionary leadership to warn them and point the way, workers will fall for anti-scientific conspiracy theories of power elites manipulating their lives. Without the antidote to idealism, workers fall prey to demagogues of left and right instead of uniting and organizing to fight for survival socialism.

Idealism is the doctrine that thought creates being, rather than as Marx put it, that being determines consciousness. Being is our material, biological and productive life. Life begins with material needs not the ideas we use to measure it. 

So if our basic needs (jobs, health, housing, education etc) are not met and we face poverty, racism, sexism etc., the bourgeoisie blames this on ‘human nature’ the source of all ideas next to God. 

Keynes, master of distributional economics based on the ‘animal spirits’ of capitalists, was an arch idealist. On the face of it he was a practical economist. But for him capitalism was motivated by ideas. When capitalists failed to invest because they calculated they would not get a sufficient profit, Keynes had a bright idea; use the state to boost wages and demand (the multiplier) and stimulate  capitalists to invest in supplying that demand.

Yet this idea fell flat because despite increased demand, the capitalists hoarded their money rather than invest in production, or gambled on existing values, and the result was inflation as the increased money supply chased too few goods and services. Marxists at the time explained why this happened. Capitalism was subject to the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (LTRPF) and that required the supply side (inputs of labour and raw materials) to be cut in price to restore an average rate of profit.

In other words all attempts to tweek the markets will fail if the conditions necessary to restore profits are not satisfied. All neo-Keynesian ideas like Modern Monetary Theory and Donut Economics suffer from the same defect as Keynes basic idea. If the costs of inputs are not cut sufficiently to return a profit, capitalism will stagnate and enter a slump.

So, state ‘interference’ in the market is idealist because the material conditions required for the production of profits demand greater state attacks on workers living standards, and on nature to drive down costs the of production.

In Aotearoa today, peak idealism will be reached when workers no longer believe that the Labour government (or any capitalist government) can rescue society and humanity from the destruction of nature. The last hopes of a system reboot to avoid its self-destruction will be overtaken by the looming apocalypse of climate change, pandemics, economic crash and political tyranny.

Yet what is the response to the failure of such defunct ideas? Mostly a shift to supposedly 'new' or 'better' ideas that still remain trapped in idealism. The failure of the system is still seen as the failure of ideas, usually the ideas of influential individuals who create social movements dedicated to the delusion that a radical rebooting of capitalism will save us all.

That is why we are served up a mad menu of vulgar theories and conspiracies, invoking the ideas of self promoting gurus and their corporate backers who resist peak idealism with even more extreme post-modern forms that deny the biological and sociological reality of the material world. Scientific truth as a collective struggle for knowledge becomes a relativism where the free individual can escape external forces and realise his or her or their personal truth.

Bourgeois fetishism now escapes the normal institutions of academia, journalism, history and law, and become hypomanic denials of reality such as QAnon where elites rape children, antivaxxers in denial of coronovirus, or trans ideology that reduces biological sex to idealist feelings about being ‘born in the wrong body’.   

Once ideas become detached from material reality, notions of growth and personality become detached from biology, science and nature. Debates exist in an otherworldly vacuum of religious belief without roots to the earth. It’s one thing to reject these as false, it’s another to know what causes them. The critique of such forms of idealism today has to start at the beginning by grasping Marx’s critique of idealism.

Even before class society emerged (before there was sufficient surplus to enable it) social production was the result of material need not ideas. Ideas served only to organise the collective struggle for biological and social reproduction. The kinship group had a classless relation to production developing the tools to harness nature's human and non-human energy.

Once that development produced a surplus, ideas then turned to conserving the labour time of the few at the expense of the many. The ruling class had the ruling ideas about labour time. Work and die. The shaman and warlord was born to impose those ruling ideas within the class system.

After this gigantic leap, class societies went from exploiting the labour of slaves, to that of peasants and then wage workers, articulating all three! The ruling minority imposed its ideas on the working majority. Those who became the rulers justified their wealth in the name of gods, projecting their class power onto the gods in interest of the community.

The capitalist system is not an aberration, it follows this historic law - the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. The capitalist ruling class has the advantage over previous ones in that it doesn't need gods. Capitalism itself produces its own ideology in the very process of production where the act of exploitation of labour-power to produce surplus-labour and profit appears to be ‘natural’ and ‘just’. If we are all individuals buying and selling commodities, including labour-power, at their value then the worker who sells his/her labour power at its value is no different to the capitalist who buys it.

For Marx the ideology of capital is the idealist fetish of value created by market exchange rather than production. As a result we are alienated from production and trapped in the fetishism of exchange.

The production of labour value is separated from the ‘being’ of wage-labour and magically becomes the 'ideal' effect of supply and demand. Therefore, the failure of the market to create equal and free individuals appears to be caused by unequal exchange of commodities rather than the exploitative relations of production.

Unequal exchange results from monopoly power forcing down the price of the commodity below its value. Naturally capitalists always blame workers for this disruption. Marx demolished this illusion,  proving that labour-power was the only commodity that produced more value than its own value - hence the secret of profit extracted at the point of production, not its fetish in the market.

If the ruling idea of capitalism is the ideology that the system is natural and perfect, and this breaks down when the market malfunctions, it still leads to  attempts to reform the market from Proudhon to Piketty, and every shade of Labourism and Democratic Socialism.

So, Marx's discovery of the commodity labour-power (a child's discovery said Marx) proves that capitalism as a system never was intended to benefit all, but to justify in the name of all, poverty for the producers and wealth for the ruling class.

Once he made that discovery Marx had the key to unravel the apparent complexity of capitalism as a living reality determined by laws of motion that would lead necessarily to its eventual demise as it destroyed its material base in nature. 

But there is no need to surrender to fatalism. Knowledge provides an escape route from the alienated fetishism of life under capitalism which sucks us into futile identity politics. No longer are we isolated individuals but part of a social class where our collective knowledge becomes that basis of our capacity to act and change society.

The understanding of Marx’s scientific method creates the opportunity for workers to become class conscious and organise the power of the producers to end the long history of class society and embark on building the classless society - communism.



Wednesday, March 10, 2021

India in Revolt: For Permanent Revolution!


Farmers occupy the Red Fort in New Delhi

We are living in the global terminal crisis* of capitalism. The epoch of imperialism is one of wars revolutions and counter revolutions. India’s colonial history shapes the present crisis. It cannot escape the terminal crisis of global capitalism which punishes the working masses, peasant farmers and workers alike driving them into misery and death. India’s ‘backwardness’ in relation to its imperialist oppressors has created deep contradictions within society, solidifying caste and suppressing class relations by creating national divisions as imperialism pumps out its super profits.

Today these contradictions explode. The demands of imperialism to extract more surplus to overcome its terminal crisis make the lives of the working masses intolerable. Add the devastation of climate change and the pandemic, themselves symptoms of capitalism’s destruction of nature, and millions are being driven into revolt. The comprador BJP regime of Modi has exhausted the utility of bourgeois democracy and its Stalinist lackeys, diverting the masses and resorting to extreme chauvinism to divide the masses and suppress their resistance.

The farmers revolt brings the contradiction to a head. Either fascism will violently destroy resistance and reduce workers and farmers to slaves, or revolt widens to unite workers and farmers in the whole of South Asia, and deepens into a revolutionary movement that brings down the regime, smashes the state apparatus and imposes a Workers’ and Peasants’ government and a socialist plan. 

Farmers’ revolt opens road for revolution

The terminal crisis is that of falling profits that can no longer be restored because capitalism has reached its final limit. It cannot develop the forces of production without destroying nature. Yet capitalists cannot face this prospect and continue to demand the total destruction of nature. In India, centuries of colonial rule made use of peasant agriculture to feed the masses while plundering its natural wealth.

India’s national revolution to break free from imperialism was aborted. The national democratic revolution of 1948 was defeated by sectarian divisions stoked by British imperialism to maintain divisions in the working classes, preventing permanent revolution. India was broken up into rival semi-colonies. National independence was sold out by its comprador ruling classes, Hindu and Muslim, who took a share of the labour value pumped out of the economy.

This system of extraction entrenched caste and repressed class struggle to contain the masses’ resistance. Classes that emerged with capitalism were grafted onto the caste system of the pre-capitalist tributary mode of production. In particular, peasant farmers contributed to the plunder of India by feeding the workers who produced the surplus value for the imperialist exploiters.

The laws of uneven and combined development** that Trotsky elaborated for backward Russia, applies to all semi-colonies including India. Since the stunted national bourgeoisie is tied to imperialism, the democratic revolution cannot be completed except as part of a permanent revolution for socialism in which the revolutionary workers lead the other oppressed masses to insurrection.

To survive in a semi-colony in the epoch of 20th century imperialism, farmers have been forced to adopt the Green Revolution and employ new techniques that destroy the land, are toxic to handle, contaminate drinking water and put the farmer further into peonage debt to finance capital and Big Agra over the long run. But 21stst century capitalism in terminal crisis demands more.

Farmers face an end to state regulation of their production which provides some protection from global competition. Global finance capital demands ownership of the land to exhaust the last remaining fertility from the soil. This puts not only the future of the peasantry in question, but also that of all labouring masses, the working class itself, small traders and unemployed.

That is why the farmers’ revolt against this ‘existential crisis’ poses the question: can this revolt develop into the socialist revolution that alone can solve the crisis for the working masses and open the road to a new post-capitalist society that can restore the balance with nature, and avoid the catastrophic collapse of human civilisation?

Peasant-worker alliance

The first step along that road is the broadening and deepening of the peasant revolt into one that draws in the working class. Against the Stalinist slander that Trotsky “underestimated” the peasantry, he, like Lenin, saw its limited horizon of land ownership as a reactionary influence on the proletariat. The revolutionary proletariat must lead the peasants beyond the land question and subordinate it to the wider socialist plan. In the revolutionary struggle workers backed the landless peasants. They formed workers and peasants (and soldiers) soviets. The Bolshevik program adopted the left Social Revolutionaries demand for ‘land for the tillers’ against the landlords of the Tsarist Despotism.

Today in India this program can apply to the current situation as the demand to nationalise the land worked by the tillers (workers’ control). As part of the wider socialist program, land use would be socialised by the soviets uniting workers of both town and country.

To advance the farmers’ revolt land nationalisation is key. Their initial demands were to revoke the new legislation to end state regulation of agriculture which stabilised prices, and return to the status quo. Modi’s refusal to comply has radicalised the farmers and their determination to resist.

The response to this intransigence must be to demand the removal of the BJP and for a government that would nationalise the land. But no such government exists or could exist under Indian semi-colonial capitalism. The Congress Party and the various Stalinist parties in opposition have no stomach to go beyond their bourgeois reforms or their reactionary national roads to socialism. When it comes to the crunch, they are the left-wing boosters of the comprador bourgeoisie bought and paid, ultimately by imperialism. ***

Therefore, to succeed the farmers need to enlist the support of the working class to bring down Modi by means of strikes and occupations. These would culminate as an indefinite general strike that raises the question of which class shall rule. To build the indefinite general strike, workers organisations must prepare their independent dual power organs capable of opposing the state and quasi-state forces at Modi’s disposal. As a rule, imperialism in terminal crisis must abandon all democratic subterfuges, and resort to open reaction at home and internationally.

Fascism is at the top of Modi’s agenda as we have seen recently in his rallying of Hindu nationalism against Muslims. The imperialist powers that have a big stake in India, like the US and China, would intervene to smash any political general strike capable of bringing down Modi. There is also the danger that the US would use the defence of Modi to start a proxy war against China. Against these reactionary threats farmers and workers need their own self-defence militias based on workers’ and farmers’ soviets which debate, decide and organise the methods necessary to advance the struggle.

For International Permanent Revolution

Trotskyists participating in these soviets would follow the lead of the Bolsheviks in Russia. They would build a Bolshevik-type party based on Leninist democratic-centralism. They would fight for a Trotskyist Transitional Program that takes the immediate economic and democratic demands of today, such as the end to castes, equality for women,**** down with national chauvinism, jobs for all and a living wage, as necessary to deepen the class consciousness of both workers and peasants of the need for a political solution to the terminal crisis - a Workers and Peasants’ Government based on soviet rule backed by a popular militia.

Such a revolutionary government would apply the lessons of history and recognise that socialism cannot be built in one country. Against imperialist intervention it would appeal to the workers and peasants of the other South Asian semi-colonies to rise up against their comprador regimes, and the workers of the imperialist powers to defeat their own ruling classes. Against a US proxy war with China, socialists would fight a revolutionary war against the US without defending Chinese imperialism. As an isolated socialist regime emerging from a semi-colony, India today cannot realise socialism unless as part of an international union of socialist republics of South Asia, and ultimately a world union of socialist republics.

For a New World Party of Socialist Revolution!

* We understand Terminal Crisis to be the compounding of economic crash, climate change and pandemic. There are feedback loops among them, as the drive for profits to avoid or mitigate crashes exacerbates climate change which creates the conditions for pandemics. The pandemics then in turn compound the severity of the crash and accelerate the terminal crisis. It puts capitalism into the ICU without any PPE. Therefore, the program we need has to address all aspects of the crisis, their interactions, and their effects on the class struggle. In particular the impact they have upon the working class in its widest sense as the only class that can resolve the terminal crisis of rotten capitalism in the interests of workers and humanity as a whole. We cannot develop a scientific program for international revolution without such a theoretical starting point. 

** “The laws of history have nothing in common with a pedantic schematism. Unevenness, the most general law of the historic process, reveals itself most sharply and complexly in the destiny of the backward countries. Under the whip of external necessity their backward culture is compelled to make leaps. From the universal law of unevenness thus derives another law which, for the lack of a better name, we may call the law of combined development – by which we mean a drawing together of the different stages of the journey, a combining of the separate steps, an amalgam of archaic with more contemporary forms. Without this law, to be taken of course, in its whole material content, it is impossible to understand the history of Russia, and indeed of any country of the second, third or tenth cultural class.” Trotsky History of the Russian Revolution.

***The various Stalinist parties in India (Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), Liberation (CPI [ML]), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), or the Socialist Unity Center of India (Communist) are acting together to limit the workers-farmers alliance to putting pressure on Modi to withdraw the attacks on workers and farmers. This perspective is reactionary – to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution but block permanent revolution. One method of containing the masses is holding regular 1 or 2 day ‘general strikes’ to pressure the government. What is needed is for the rank-and-file activist workers and farmers to demand an indefinite political general strike to break from the union bureaucracy and the pro-bourgeois Stalinists. 

****  Witness the campaign to free Nodeep Kaur, a 24 year old Dalit woman who was arrested, assaulted, raped and jailed for over a month on a charge of attempted murder for supporting the farmers' revolt and recruiting for the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathana (MAS) union. She is currently on bail awaiting facing new charges, but determined to return to supporting the farmers and the union. Her commitment is an inspiration for other women in India to take their place in the vanguard of the socialist revolution that will liberate women from their historical oppression.