An Invitation to Our Readers

Facts For Working People Blog and Think Tank. An Invitation.
Women's march 2017: 3.5 to 4.5 million march nationally according to estimates
5 Million people, in 670 locations internationally marched against Trump on January 21st. Now to Organize.  To do so contact us and join us at Facts For Working people.

Up to 5 million people in 670 locations round the world took to the streets in the Women’s Marches on January 21st to oppose the extreme right wing racist, sexist, anti working class and anti environment Trump becoming President of the USA. This was a great success. It was a day of mass mobilization like never before. And it was led by women. This also is wonderful. It shows the new and exciting possibilities of this period in which we now live.

But the millions demonstrating on the 21st must only be the beginning.  We must now organize so that the struggle goes on and the agenda of the degenerate Trump can be defeated. We must organize a US and International Alliance of all the forces that oppose the Trump agenda around a series of demands that oppose that agenda. This should be broad enough to take in the millions who marched on January 21st  and the hundreds of millions more who wished to but did not. The marches of the 21st are the basis for such an International Alliance and for such Alliances to be set up in every country and every part of the country. Perhaps to be called Alliance/Alliances to Stop Trump. Such an Alliance/Alliances should also commit themselves to mass direct action so that it is not just a protest movement but it is a movement that stops Trump.

To help work together to this end we invite all our readers to join our Facts For Working People Blog and Think Tank. Please read below and if you agree with our basic approach and if you do please join us. One days marching will not do the job.

We at Facts For Working People are a small group of working people and youth who are opposed to capitalism. We oppose capitalism because if it is allowed to continue it will destroy life on earth as we know it. It will do so through climate change, war, including nuclear war, drought, mass starvation and pollution. We believe there is an alternative to capitalism and that is an international democratic socialist world. We also believe that the only force that can end capitalism is the international working class.

The capitalist class also understands that the force that threatens it is the international working class. As a result it commits itself to seeking to dominate the consciousness of the working class, to convince the working class that it cannot change the world.

Facts For Working People therefore understands that the struggle to end capitalism is the struggle for the consciousness of the working class. To this end we have committed ourselves to a number of tasks. One is to struggle together with the working class, interact with the working class and in so doing, identify and explain the most important processes that are at work in society and the most important tasks that face the human species and the working class today.  

We explain that capitalism will destroy life on Earth as we know it unless capitalism is ended and that only the working class and it alone, has the power to accomplish this task, to build a new world.

We also draw the conclusion and explain that the working class must organize independently and internationally and draw the lessons from history. The main lesson we draw and seek to share with the working class is that capitalism will not give up its power without a fight. Therefore we commit ourselves to assist in building a new international revolutionary organization of the working class dedicated to fight with the utmost ruthlessness and determination to change the world. 

We fight for these ideas in a number of ways. One is through our daily struggle and interaction with the working class, listening to, learning from, being in dialogue with the working class. That is, we have an orientation towards the working class; an orientation of joint struggle and dialogue with the working class.

In this dialogue and joint struggle, we seek to share our conclusions and thoughts that we have learned from history. We also fight for these ideas through our Blog. This is now very successful with over 1 million page views so far. Any revolutionary organization that is not using the Internet to fight against capitalism and to fight for the consciousness of the working class is letting down the working class. Along with this we have established a Facts For Working People Think Tank. We refer to it as a Think Tank because we believe that with the enormous changes that have taken place in the world in the last decades and the many mistaken ideas that the anti capitalist forces have had, that a little humility is necessary, that we recognize we need to clarify our ideas, that we need to exchange ideas, to be much more conditional about ideas. In this way, we will be better equipped to take on capitalism.

We do not know everything. We do have the following important principles that unite us: we are for the overthrow of capitalism internationally and for the international working class to build a new democratic socialist and sustainable world.  But we do not see ourselves as all knowing and have a rigid “line” on every detail to which we must all adhere.   We are a Think Tank of and for the working class. In this way we hope to assist the working class in clarifying its ideas in order to win in its struggle against capitalism. In the future if we get more resources we hope to evolve into a Think Do Tank. 

Here are some of the ideas we have been discussing recently.

Most of us, but not all, who run this Blog and this Think Tank, come out of the old left and made the mistakes of thinking we knew everything and were always right.  Like all of the traditional left, we were too unconditional in our view of what was likely to happen in the world. So like all the left we were taken by surprise at the restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union and now by the movement in a similar direction in China. We are now seeking to be more conditional in how we think things are likely to develop.

We were unprepared for history taking a step back and restoring capitalism in the Soviet Union. We had considered it more likely history would take a step forward and overthrow Stalinism and move forward to international democratic socialism. With our blog and our think tank we are trying to break from the wrong methods that led us, and the left in general, to making such a huge mistake.

One of the ways we are doing this is insisting that we, and anyone we discuss with, publicly and openly accept that the self styled revolutionary left has made major mistakes in the past decades. This is proven by their inability to put down serious roots in the working class. This is our approach to our work, to our Blog and Think Tank and our exchange of views.

We are committed to looking at our own history and mistakes, and the history and mistakes of all the left and the self styled revolutionary movement and most importantly accept, no insist, that we share these mistakes we have all made openly with each other.

We are not interested in discussing with people who think they have never made any mistakes or seek to hide their mistakes. Unless we face up to our mistakes we will not learn and we will not be able to move forward.

We would be very interested in hearing from others who consider that this is an appropriate approach to the demands and possibilities of the present situation facing the working class. For the readers of our blog and all those that we are now inviting here to join us, these are a few examples of some of the issues we are discussing on the conference calls of our Facts For Working People Think Tank.

We are looking at the change in world relations and how this is affecting and will affect working class consciousness and especially US working class consciousness. For some decades we had a bi polar world with Stalinism and Imperialism. This was mainly Stalinism in the Soviet Union, but Chinese Stalinism was gaining in strength. When the Soviet Union collapsed and capitalism was restored in that vast area of the world, history took a step back.

US imperialism thought it could build a new world order with itself as the totally dominant force. In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, it’s major newspaper, it proclaimed “We Won”  and predicted a “New World Order” in which the USA would exercise “Full Spectrum Dominance.” This was the new world equilibrium they thought they could establish. They have failed dismally to achieve this.

This dream turned in to a nightmare in the rubble of Iraq and the Middle East and in the US centered 2008 world recession. It has been undermined by the massive indebtedness of the US economy. It will be further shattered as the US military machine cracks in its hands in the quagmire of the Middle East and Central Asia. Already soldiers are taking action. People like Chelsea Manning,  the drone operators who are demanding an end to their being used to kill civilians. Instead of a new US dominated world order there is a new world disorder. Instead of the USA being totally dominant it is losing its domination. Trying to see the main elements in this new world equilibrium and how it is likely to develop is the order of the day and is continuously on the agenda of our Facts For Working People Think Tank. 

As we seek to understand this new world equilibrium we look at the rise of Russian imperialism under Putin. We are seeking to study this further, especially how the new Russian bourgeois arose out of the old Stalinist bureaucracy. There are many lessons there. How the old bureaucracy printed money, handed it out, then the elites of the old regime got their hands on this, established themselves with massive hoards of capital, bought up the huge economic behemoths of the Soviet Union at knock down prices, rode them to world prices and, along with this and their huge raw materials economic resources and military power, were able to establish  themselves as a new, if crude but powerful Russian imperialism.

This new imperialism now stands as a force that is a challenge and a complication for US imperialism in its world role. There is also the rise of the new Chinese elite that seems to be clearly heading towards a new capitalist imperialist China. With its massive economy and military and a huge population, this also is a challenge to US imperialism. So how are things to develop?  This is one of the issues we are discussing in our Think Tank.  

In this context we are considering if Trump is as stupid as he appears. He obviously is in how he presents himself and acts in terms of his relations with the majority of the US population and other sections of the US bourgeois. But what about his relations with the other major world powers? In building his backward political base has he perhaps stumbled into a strategy that was not seen or not seen so quickly by the older more mature more conservative sector of the US bourgeois? And is it possible this strategy while it will lead to a catastrophe may for a time have some legs?

It looks like he is seeking to create links with Putin's Russian imperialism as evidenced with former Exxon head Tillerson as his secretary of state. At the same time it looks as if he is trying to draw in the Chinese regime. His phone call with Taiwan was either a mistake or a crude negotiating tactic. We need to see it against his dismissal of the importance of the Chinese seizing the drone. We need to see it against the meeting between his son in law Jared Kushner and the head of the Chinese financial giant Anbang Insurance Group which is estimated to have a value of $285 billion. 

So are we witnessing a move to a new world equilibrium, a historical shift in global relations?  One in which US imperialism under Trump, Russian Imperialism under Putin, Chinese imperialism under Xi, would seek to divide up the world, lean upon each other, compete with each other, and seek to rule the world in a tri polar fashion?

The move to a tri-polar world would be enormously problematic with many conflicts and contradictions. What about Western Europe and German and British imperialism? ? What about the Middle East? What about nuclear armed Israel?  What about Japanese imperialism? What about politics and class relations at home in the USA? But perhaps this is the period in which we now live. A new world disorder, a new world tri-polar structure with great instability and within it great shocks with military, social and environmental crises, an acceleration of  climate change and the danger of nuclear war or a partial nuclear war or incident.  Maybe we have to get ready for such a ride. These are some of the questions and discussions we have in our weekly Think Tank conference calls. 

If this is what lies ahead what would this mean for the US working class and US working class consciousness? To answer this it is necessary to ask what it would mean for US imperialism? It would mean that US imperialism would no longer be the number one dominant power in the world. It would no longer be able to dominate the world, plunder and loot the world’s resources to the extent it has done in the last century, and and with this stolen wealth, it could buy off a section of its own working class.

The result of this would be that the US working class would be forced to rise to its feet and fight. Such a development would be a world-shattering event. It would be similar to the period when British imperialism lost its number one position in the world and was no longer able to placate its own working class or a significant section of it, to the degree it had previously. This led to the rise of the mass trade unions and the mass independent workers’ party, the Labor Party.

US imperialism's world role in this period of a new world disorder would be determined to a great extent by the US working class, the working class of the most powerful capitalist country in the world, getting off its knees and taking on its own ruling class. No country in the world would be left untouched by this event.

On the surface we see the threat of Trump coming to power. And this must not be shrugged off or ignored. But there is another side to this development. What Trump also represents apart from being a depraved renegade member of the US capitalist class, is the whip of the counter revolution, and he will seek to wield this whip and when he does, it will force the US working class in to struggle as other options will be few and far between. Trump will whip the US working class to its feet in the fight to defend its interests. This is inevitable and a crucial development as, despite the move of parts of US industry to Asia, capitalism will not be overthrown and a democratic socialist world will not be  built without the US working class settling accounts with its own bourgeois.

The US working class will not give up what it has gained without a struggle. It would also be a serious mistake for us not to take in to account that a new world recession, if not depression, lies ahead as the stock market bubbles burst, property values collapse and the US and world economies go into new crises. US and world imperialism have kept their show on the road by among other things printing vast amounts of money, by extending vast amounts of credit, by going into vast amounts of debt. This cannot go on. At some stage this will end. Credit and debt can allow capitalism to go beyond its own limits for a while, but at some stage it reaches its limits, it is snapped back behind its limits in the form of huge economic political and military shocks. A historic shift in class relations is on the horizon for the USA.

Workers and activists must not be discouraged at what is going on. Trump will lash the US working class to its feet and force it to fight back and draw revolutionary conclusions. We do not welcome the fact that the working class will suffer further as part of drawing these conclusions. But this is the way that things will inevitably happen because of the role of the leaders of the working class in the trade unions. They will not organize and lead the working class into struggle so inevitably the way in which the working class will move into struggle will be by being forced to do so by the attacks of capitalism. The present leadership of the working class will be to blame for the working class having to endure this experience.  

Hundreds of thousands strike in Bangladesh after factory collapses
Over the past decades the entire planet has seen the spread of industry to every continent and with this we have seen the working class become bigger than ever before. Yes there has been the shift of sections of US industry abroad but there has also been the shift of industry and the retail and service sector to the Southern United States and with this the increase in the spread and diversity of the working class. There has been the decline of the family farmer and the Mom and Pop businesses and the shrinking of the middle class and in the process, their replacement by the mega chains and huge industrial farming companies and within these mega chains and farming industries an increase in numbers and an increased objective unity of the working class. Objectively the US working class is stronger than ever before. Internationally the working class is stronger than ever before.

Worldwide the working class is objectively stronger than ever before.  A century ago most of the population in the majority of the countries in the capitalist world was rural. Today the majority is mainly urban with huge working classes. Approximately 200 million workers are organized in trade unions worldwide.  There are approximately 3 billion workers on the planet. Close to 180 million workers, mainly women, went on a mass one-day strike in India recently. 

Consider China, the former Soviet Union, Bangladesh, all of South East Asia as well as Latin America and South Africa. Today 50% of the world's factory workers are women. Into the new conflict between the classes will step the most powerful international working class in history. The old dead hand of the bureaucratic pro capitalist leadership of the working class will not be able to keep the working class in check much longer. Into this new equilibrium will rise the strengthened international working class, with everything to play for - a new democratic socialist world -but also with everything to lose - the destruction of life on earth as we know it if capitalism is allowed to continue. 

Overpaid union bureaucrats kissing up to the predator in chief
For this conflict to end with victory for the working class there is one essential element that must be changed. The heel of the existing pro capitalist mainly corrupt leadership of the working class must be removed from the neck of the working class. This leadership can see no alternative to capitalism. It does not believe that the working class can build a new world. It believes that if the working class moves into struggle this will only bring chaos. The result is that any movement of the working class to change things faces opposition not only from the capitalist class but from its own leadership.

This leadership plays the role it does because it does not believe the working class can build a new world. But it also plays the role it does because it fears that any movement of the working class against capitalism would also lead to the removal of them and their caste from their overpaid privileged positions.  So they hold down the working class. If the working class is to get this albatross off its back it must consciously build a new organized leadership of tens and tens of millions world wide which is dedicated to the most ruthless struggle against capitalism. This is the task of this period in history. 

Consider the role of this trade union and labor leadership in the women’s marches against Trump. Where were they? Where were the 14 million members of the unions in the US, the 200 million members of the unions internationally? The women’s marches against the degenerate Trump should have all had at their back millions of organized trade union members.

In the US, every march should have had millions of union members marching behind union banners as an organized force. While there were many union members on the marches, the unions as an organized force were not. Their leaders were cowering in the face of the bosses’ offensive and preparing themselves to lick the boots of the degenerate Trump in order to lessen but not stop the attacks or to sacrifice one section of organized labor’s rank and file against another; make small gains for the workers they represent to keep the dues money coming in and their jobs secure.

The Teamsters, the Construction workers unions, the public sector workers unions, the teachers unions, the health care workers unions, all the unions should have been marching behind their own banners as part of these great marches on women’s days. They were not because their leaderships held them down. These leaderships will have to be removed.

While the marches were outstanding in size and spirit and the international support they received, there is one other observation that should be made about them. Their leaders and the main speakers were mainly from the middle class and celebrities. This was a mistake. The leaders of the marches and the speakers should have been mainly from the working class, from working class women. From the struggles at Standing Rock, from the struggles in Flint, from the struggles against police violence, from the struggles for full women’s rights for all women free at the point of use, from the struggles for equal pay for women and a minimum wage that people can live on and that takes them out of poverty. This would have been the best way to prepare to put down roots in the working class communities in the weeks and months and years ahead as the movement takes on Trump

There is an alternative to capitalism. The dominant sectors of the world economy can be taken out of the hands of the privately owned profit addicted capitalist class. The capitalist class, its state and the system of production on which this rests can be overthrown. The economy and resources can be collectively owned. Through the election of democratic workers councils internationally and the integrating of these councils the brain and power of the working class can become the dominant force on the planet. Through such a democratic working class structure the collective brain of the world's working class, which today is the greatest wasted resource on the planet, would be brought into play as the dominant and guiding force on earth.

Through this collective brain of the working class organized through its democratically elected workers councils, and where the basis for such existed, councils of the rural poor and peasantry, the knowledge of the resources of the world would be available and the knowledge of the needs of the world would be available. On this basis a democratic socialist sustainable plan could be drawn up and the world could be transformed in a way that would benefit all. It could be transformed in a way that would preserve and sustain and nurture and develop life on earth as never before. In a way also that would reduce the amount of labor that would be necessary and so reduce also the length of the working week, the time that all workers would have to work.

But for this to happen, a new mass international movement of the working class of tens and tens of millions has to be built. The working class is the progressive force in this historic period, the class that can take society forward, can preserve life on earth. But it is prevented from playing its historic role by its own pro capitalist leadership. It can only play its historic role by building a new mass revolutionary international movement.

The crisis of society today is the crisis of the leadership of the working class. The challenge of today is to build a new mass international leadership of the working class. 

Here in the US, the building of a party of the working class is crucial if we are to move forward. We cannot rely on Democrats to defend us. Even in the face of Trump they support his Administration as opposing it would question the legitimacy of so called capitalist democracy as a system. The Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who is supposed to be the general leading the charge “the resistance” against Trump, has voted in favor of every Trump nominee.  Darling of the liberals Elizabeth Warren voted in favor of the imbecile Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary. As Marx pointed out: the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself. No individual or other social force can do it for us.

These are some of the ideas we discuss in our Facts For Working People Blog and Think Tank. We also discuss ideas such as those thrown up by people like Assange and his struggle against what he calls technological imperialism. The positives of his approach and the weakness of his approach, the latter being namely that he does not base himself on historical materialism and as a result his lack of any concept of the working class as the only  potential revolutionary force in this period of history.

The great scientist Stephen Hawking faces the sane obstacle that leads him to conclude that the future of the human species would only be possible through emigration to another planet. Both Hawking and Assange fail to base themselves on historical materialism and they therefore see no role for the working class, they do not see that the working class exists never mind that it is the only force that can can change the world. This is why they make the mistakes they do.

We very much ask anybody interested in these ideas and in open honest democratic discussion and organizing to please contact us to discuss participating in and becoming a member of our Facts For Working People Think Tank. All that is required of participants is to be anti capitalist, to be in favor of international socialism, to have a respectful non-sectarian approach, a determination to look at and understand world events as they occur around us, the new world in which we live, a determination to probe and examine the ideas with which we are confronted, a willingness to accept and point out that the leadership of the trade union and labor movement is the main obstacle to the working class moving into struggle against capitalism.

We must be willing to accept that even the best workers’ struggles have made mistakes in the past period, and that the revolutionary left, ourselves included, have made serious mistakes over the past period.

This point about the mistakes of the self styled revolutionary left is shown by the fact that there are many more people who consider themselves revolutionary socialist or anti capitalist outside these organizations than are inside them and that these organizations have utterly failed to put down roots in the working class. One estimate suggests that in the 1960’s there were between half a million and one million people in the US who considered themselves revolutionaries. Where did they go? What mistakes did the left make that resulted in these forces not being organized? We believe it was a combination of left sectarianism, ultra leftism and opportunism.

In our Think Tank we have free and open discussion. We are appealing to all who have read this brief summing up of our ideas and approach to join our FFWP Think Tank. Joining would mean at a minimum participating in our weekly Think Tank conference calls when you can, making an effort to attend the gatherings which we are now beginning to organize, making a small financial contribution on a regular basis and sharing and spreading the ideas from our discussions and Blog to those we know and also through the Internet. Financial contributions are on the basis of what each person can afford and are forwarded to FFWP by going to our FFWP Blog and using the Donate button. Financial resources are used to develop our Blog and spread our ideas.

To the end of breaking from the left sectarianism that has done so much damage to the left and workers’ movement, we accept that people can be in our FFWP Think Tank and also be in other groups. However there are a couple, of what we consider, are reasonable conditions. We do not accept people can be in our FFWP Think Tank and keep their membership of other groups secret. They must be open about any other group to which they belong. Nor do we accept that they can keep the internal discussions and debates, including disagreements, in their other groups secret from the FFWP Think Tank. After all, the discussions, including differences in the FFWP Think Tank, are open to them.

To allow secret discussions and a secretive approach would be to continue with the mistaken left sectarian secretive ways of the past. Mistaken then and a million more times mistaken in these days given the role the Internet now plays in society.  We are not a small secretive group. To function in this way, as is the case with most of the left, would be to cut ourselves off from the working class, would be to prevent ourselves from getting the opinion of and help from the working class and its experiences. Such an approach would harm us and harm the working class, it would mean that the capitalist class could if they wished listen to the internal discussions of so-called revolutionary organizations but the the working class could not. Such a secretive approach would be and was madness.

We appeal to those to whom these ideas and this approach seem reasonable to contact us and join our FFWP Think Tank.  


Unknown said...

You sound serious and thoughtful enough. Might I point out that the working class in the US has never in any mass sense constituted itself as a class for itself and this was true even in the times when socialist and communist internationals wielded considerable influence. It would seem to me that the reasons for this predate the rise of the US as the global superpower and will likely continue as we enter its decline. The historic question of why no socialism in the the US then leads to the history of the working class here in the americas and north america in particular.

The most useful work I am aware of that has been done here with clear strategic and tactical implications for the present is contained in Theodore W Allen's The Invention of the White Race Volumes I and II (Verso).

If there is any interest in Allen's life and work your readers may find many of his writings online for free at Cultural Logic. For those new to his work I recommend first reading his thesis article "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery:The Invention of the White Race" published in 1975 and republished in pamphlet form by Center for Study of Working Class Life Department of Economics - SUNY Stony Brook. This is also available online for free.

After the pamphlet I recommend reading the introduction to Volume I, followed by "Summation of the Argument" online also at Cultural Logic.

Jeffrey B Perry is Allen's literary executor and the biographer of Hubert Harrison. His article "Developing Conjuncture..." introduces readers to the tactical and strategic implications that Allen and Harrison's life and work offer to those of us working for the 'class for itself.'

One final point to your class conscious readers. Allen and Harrison are working class auto-didacts a fact that may strike a chord in our hearts to know that in fact these are two giants that emerged from our class and never sought to distance themselves from it.

Richard Mellor said...

Thank you Sean, I would tend to agree with your views on mass consciousness with regards to the US working class. However, the blame for this must surely rest on the leadership of the traditional organizations and the left currents that had influence.

But surely there have been times when significant section of the class began to develop a consciousness of itself as a class like the rise of the CIO and the mass occupations and strikes of the 1930's. How else could GM, that boasted it would never have a union, that terrorized workers and spied on them, that used thugs and Pinketons against workers have been unionized.

Also,we have publicized Allen's two volume set (it's in our book section also and been on trhe blog's FB page) and Jeffrey Perry's website and video on the Invention of the White Race.

Unknown said...

Sean, i've sent my e mail via google+. here it is again:

i've tried to be as comradely and serious as possible in my comments on your blog & facebook page. i commend you for the serious attention you give your project.

don't think i have to be in total, complete agreement with activists to support them in their efforts. having had experiences that i briefly touch on in my comments, i have no interest in command party structures.

though you profess belief in worker's democracy and oppose that concept to "democratic centralism", you call for a "mass revolutionary party of tens of millions" that w'd somehow act in unison. sounds marvelous though even in this age of instant communication it also sounds like a fantasy. fantasies obscure reality. we have a deeply divided working class that moves in uneven ways both in the us and throughout the world. i advocate for unity with advance elements of that class...that means not holding them back with cries of "unity" with the rear guard elements of our class.

i emphasize worker's control as opposed to party control. is that possible? perhaps that will be a minority view in an upsurge. and/or as in the Paris Commune & 1917 Russian Revolution, the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 be short lived. hopefully, we can find enough common ground to at least attempt a transformation of this society.

i am just beginning to study other tendencies in the left besides Leninism, Trotskyism & Stalinism, especially anarcho-communism. i know just enough to realize like the party types, there's a zillion of them and most only have part of the puzzle.

i will be in Chicago for most of the summer. hope to attend the ISO's "socialist conference". keep in touch.

Sean said...

Sean O'Torain writes: Part 1. Comrade, thank you for your post and your comradely words and tone. This is the big question----the nature of the party. I was for 25 years in the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), 20 of those as a full time organizer and on the leading bodies for most of those years. We had some successes, led the anti poll tax movement of 18 million in Britain which brought down Thatcher. Led the Liverpool city council for a time which built more houses and child care facilities than all the rest of the city councils in England and Wales combined, set up and led the Scottish Socialist party which for a time brought most of the left tendencies together. In Scotland and England we had I think it was 10 people elected to national parliaments on a workers’ wage and on socialist ideas. We had nuclei in over 35 countries.

When I joined the CWI in 1971 there were a few hundred members in Britain and Ireland, I am originally from Ireland, by the time it splintered and shattered in the late 1980's 1990's it had 14,000 members and 500 full timers internationally. Then the it split into two, into the CWI and the International Marxist Tendency. (IMT). The CWI and the IMT between them ended up with a few hundred members. The background to this development were the wrong perspectives of the CWI. It did not anticipate the restoration of capitalism to the former Soviet Union. It did not anticipate capitalism's resilience on the economic front. It did not see until it was no longer possible to ignore the effect of new technology. These developments would have caused problems for the CWI no matter what. However what led to the splitting and wrecking of the CWI was that these developments took place in an organization with an undemocratic internal life. The result was the wrecking of the CWI. Those of us who came out of the CWI background who now run this Blog have learnt a lot of lessons from this. Today Richard and I and three or four other comrades run our Blog and through our weekly conference calls try to develop a collective nucleus dedicated to revolutionary socialism internationally. While not getting carried a way with the Internet we recognize the possibilities it gives us. Thank you for your comments on the nature of the system and the party that the working class needs. They are very helpful.

I assume that we agree that for the working class to take power internationally would need an organization of tens of millions. I raise this number frequently to try and pose to the self styled revolutionary left groups that there is no way such an organization of this size could develop on the basis of the internal lives of these left groups and of the sectarian attitude of these groups to the working class. A completely different culture is needed. A completely different attitude to the working class is needed. A genuine orientation to the working class is needed, a genuine dialogue with the working class is needed. A continual assessment of the consciousness of the different layers of the working class is needed.A genuinely democratic internal life is needed.

A recognition of what Trotsky said is needed: that revolution is the ability to combine objective analysis with subjective action. And part of this is for those of us who see ourselves as revolutionaries to recognize, and this is true even in the age of the Internet, that the consciousness as far as the revolutionary forces are concerned is an objective factor.

Richard Mellor said...

Sean O'Torain writes Part 2: In relation to what you say about the advanced workers and holding them back. We recognize that there are different layers in the working class. The more advanced layers etc. And we do not believe in holding back the advanced layers. We believe in building within the advanced layers and in doing so orientating these advanced layers to the broader masses to draw the broader masses to a revolutionary perspective along with the more advanced workers. At times this would involve "holding back". But it would be like taking a step back from a stream in order to get a run at the stream so we could jump across it as the Bolsheviks had to do in the July days. Holding the most combative sections of the working class back in order to bring the broader layers with the more advanced layers and not themselves rushing ahead and being destroyed by reaction as they were isolated from the broader layers.

I think Lenin addressed this when he wrote:
To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least of sympathetic neutrality towards it and of precluded support for the enemy, would be, not merely foolish but criminal.

In relation to what you say about unity. When I was in the old CWI I thought that a successful organization was one in which everyone agreed on everything. This was totally wrong. I now realize that there is no way a revolutionary organization of tens of millions, even of hundreds of thousands, could be built on the basis of complete unity. The bigger a revolutionary organization is the greater the internal discussion and debate will be. The challenge is to recognize this and to build in a way that recognizes this inevitability, this reality. I no longer think that a successful revolutionary organization is one whose members agree on everything. This is idealistic and so not possible. In fact, it is destructive and counter revolutionary as it seeks to do the impossible, in doing so it makes impossible a living breathing organic mass revolutionary organization. A healthy revolutionary organization is one which has roots in the working class and one in which the different ideas of the working class can be expressed.

The history of the self styled revolutionary groups so far is one in which total unity is demanded and if this not possible, which it is not, then the first tendency is to split. I believe that we have to try and build on a few simple but basic principles. The need to overthrow capitalism internationally. The need for the working class internationally to take power through establishing workers councils and working with peasants councils where these would exist. The need to see that in this period a central tactic for the revolutionary work is building united fronts on policies which take on the offensive of capitalism and do this through mass direct action. The need to confront and take on and build an alternative to the pro capitalist trade union and labor bureaucracy. And within these united fronts build in a non-sectarian manner the nucleus for revolutionary socialism and for the revolution. I believe we have to break from the experience of the past which was to look at every difference and see this as a reason for a split.

Rather than looking at differences in that way, that is as an excuse to split, looking at differences in order to determine what differences can be lived with and what cannot, what can be discussed and debated and set aside for future debate and discussion and move on to work together in a revolutionary manner. The split that wrecked the CWI could have been avoided if there had been this approach. But sectarian methods, egos which were not harnessed to the needs of the revolution, triumphed and the CWI was wrecked.

Sean said...

Sean O'Torain writes Part 3:
I believe that the term Democratic Centralism is no longer of any use. It is inevitably associated with either the reactionary murderous legacy of Stalinism or the sectarian wrecking methods of the self styled non-Stalinist revolutionary left. If I am correct, Lenin only used this term perhaps on one or two occasions. I could be wrong. But what the revolutionary left see as Democratic Centralism is not anything like the internal life of the Bolsheviks in their healthy period. Trotsky said that the healthy period of Bolshevism was the time of factions and even factions within factions.

In backward Russia, the revolution, with a very small working class, immediately engulfed in a civil war, isolated internationally, Stalinism took over, the political power was taken out of the hands of the working class. The October Revolution was a step forward for the working class internationally but then a half step back as the working class lost political power, then in the recent decades a full step back as capitalism was restored in the former Soviet Union, and now seems well on the way to being restored in China. We are in a difficult period. But by no means impossible. We think we are in a period of revolution and counter revolution. The decades ahead will decide the future of the human species.

FFWP is made up of a handful of people. Some of us on our last legs. Health, age etc. What we are trying to do is create a revolutionary nucleus with a healthy internal culture. Which in the future could play a role in helping to build a healthy revolutionary non-sectarian nucleus within a revolutionary international of tens of millions. The internal lives of the self styled revolutionary left is a product of, amongst other things, basing themselves on the period when Stalinism was destroying the Bolshevik party. And their sectarianism which has resulted in them being isolated from the working class.

These groups completely alienate the working class. Of course the post war economic upswing in the advanced capitalist countries made the working class less open to revolutionary ideas but there were opportunities. 1968 in France, the mass movements of the black revolt, the women's movement, the anti war movements, the big strikes here in the US such as P9 and Pittston etc. The sectarian left wrecked the National Rank and File against Concessions which came out of the P9 strike. The self styled revolutionary groups totally failed to put down roots in the working class in these past decades. Why? This is something we insist on discussing amongst ourselves and with whomever we are discussing. .

We want to try and work with people who consider themselves revolutionary socialists as I understand you do. However we have a criteria for this. That there is a recognition and open recognition of the mistakes we have all made. I understand from what you write you have this approach also. An analysis of why the self styled revolutionary left failed to put down roots in the working class. We recognize, I recognize my own mistakes. We insist that those with whom we are trying to work and build do the same. If we do not recognize our own mistakes and the mistakes of the tradition out of which we come then we cannot make progress. We cannot lay the basis for a healthy revolutionary international.


Anonymous said...

What happens to the workers who do not like Marxism? The labor movement is made of may political views but I feel one thing hold true among all, we need to advance the cause of working people before all is lost.

Being politically divisive does not help, organizing marches instead of organizing a common movement does not help, organizing a stratified leadership of intellectuals does not help.

Workers need help. We are getting crushed by the system. It does not matter, left, right, or center. All workers can easily see that the money power and privilege has shifted to a minority.

No system in the last two centuries has sustained any change. Marxism, capitalism and socialism all produce a small powerful rich ruling class. Western European socialism is no different in that it depends on capitalism and the new form of western colonialism practiced by the globalist world bodies to keep then floated.

All this psychobabble coming out of some old dead white guys from the 18th century all amounts to nothing. Organize a true egalitarian workers party or be crushed by the system. The only other choice one has is to serve their masters in a highly skilled position.