The following is a selection of postings from the IBT Facebook page published since the last edition of 1917.
The successful campaign to unionize some 8,000 workers at an Amazon distribution center in Staten Island, New York is a significant win for “our” side in the class struggle in the US. The victory for workers of the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU) will hopefully inspire tens of thousands more to follow their example and potentially ignite a mass labor upsurge in North America to organize the unorganized. While the “grassroots” approach of the ALU proved successful in Staten Island, ultimately the key to any broader nation-wide union drive will be the role of revolutionary leadership to successfully navigate the machinations of the existing trade-union bureaucracy, determined opposition from the ruling class and their mouthpieces in the corporate media, and repression by the capitalist state and, in periods of heightened class struggle, the armed thugs of the employers (e.g., scabs, fascists).
Leon Trotsky’s Transitional Program outlines the approach revolutionaries take toward organizing the unorganized and the struggle for workers’ power.
Smash the imperialist war machine through workers’ power!
The IBT extends solidarity to rail workers at the Greek port of Alexandroupoli refusing to load NATO arms shipments destined for the war in Ukraine. Despite pressure from TrainOSE (the rail company) management, the workers have held their ground, and workers from nearby Thessaloniki have refused to go to Alexandroupoli as replacements.
A congress of trade unions in Thessaloniki issued a resolution supporting the action: “No involvement of our country in the wars in Ukraine that are taking place for the profits of the few at the expense of the people.… We will not become complicit in the passage of the war machine through the territories of our country.” Unions in the Evros region around Alexandroupoli have also declared their support.
The Leninist position on inter-imperialist war is principled opposition to both sides. Revolutionaries must work for the defeat of all imperialist powers, particularly the ruling class of their own country. Greece is a NATO member, and by refusing to transport NATO arms to Ukraine, the TrainOSE workers are striking a blow at their own ruling class and the NATO war machine. We salute the Greek rail workers in their struggle and call on workers in other countries to follow their example.
See “Revolutionaries & Imperialist War” (1917 No.45) for analysis of the ongoing war in Ukraine in light of the historical lessons of the Trotskyist movement:
The UK Magistrates Court judge overseeing Julian Assange’s case formally approved his extradition to the US, where he faces up to 175 years in prison under the infamous Espionage Act of 1917. A final decision on his fate, a foregone conclusion, is to be made by Home Secretary Priti Patel. While Assange’s legal team will no doubt challenge Patel’s decision, there are no guarantees the British High Court will agree to hear the appeal.
Assange has now been held in Belmarsh Prison for over three years, after he was abducted by British authorities from his seven-year refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019. The decade-long vilification of Assange is motivated by ruling-class hatred for WikiLeaks exposing the crimes of American imperialism and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the publication of “Vault 7,” the trove of secret material exposing CIA spying activities. The entire case against Assange and WikiLeaks is based on ruling-class hypocrisy, imperialist machinations and outright lies. We oppose the imprisonment and extradition of Assange and demand his immediate release. Free Assange Now!
For background information on Assange’s case, see “WikiLeaks & Whistleblowers in the Age of Imperialism” (1917 No.42).
The war in Ukraine has prompted much debate on the question of whether Russia plays the role of an imperialist power on the world stage. Lenin, in his 1917 pamphlet “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” described imperialism as a world system in which the great powers exploit weaker countries through monopolies and the export of capital, but also noted that there were nevertheless differences between imperialists of varying sizes and levels of development (i.e., “tiers” of imperialist powers). Crucially, he also highlighted the competition (up to and including wars) between rival imperialists for super-profits and “spheres of influence”—this inter-imperialist rivalry is now at a level not seen since the Second World War and is key to understanding the world we live in today.
In our 2019 article “Imperialist Rivalries Escalate” (1917 No.41), we examined the route Russia took after the collapse of the Soviet Union to eventually re-establishing itself as an imperialist power, albeit economically weaker than its NATO rivals. In the current frenzy of Russophobia, the word “imperialist” is thrown around by some Western leftists to soft-pedal supporting our “own” supposedly less aggressive imperialists. A realistic assessment of global capitalism has nothing in common with this social chauvinism. As revolutionaries in the West, we focus our critique on the role the ruling class in our own countries plays in the inter-imperialist struggle—the main enemy is at home!
Rising inflation is threatening to impoverish tens of millions worldwide. The United States (8.5%), Britain (7%) and Canada (6.7%) all had record-breaking inflationary rates in March, as the cost of basic necessities (food, energy, housing) reached thirty and forty-year highs.
The immediate triggers for the inflationary crisis are no secret: the war in Ukraine, economic sanctions against Russia and over two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, ultimately the roots of the crisis are the built-in contradictions of a global capitalist economy whose fundamental metric (the average profit rate) has a tendency to fall.
Bourgeois economists and the corporate media have responded with calls to tinker with interest rates and for “quantitative easing,” while prescribing more belt-tightening for consumers to brazen it out. Their “solutions” offer nothing for working people and the most vulnerable of society.
Instead, Marxists advocate a working-class program to fight capitalist inflation: workers’ control of production to implement a sliding scale of wages to ensure an automatic rise in pay in relation to an increase in the price of consumer goods, along with a sliding scale of hours to guarantee the equitable distribution of work hours to the available workforce.
Revolutionaries seek to mobilize working people around these demands as part of a full transitional program that not only addresses their immediate needs such as rising inflation and living costs, but points toward a workers’ (i.e., soviet) government based on collectivized property and central planning to truly meet human need.
See our talk (text and video) “Introduction to Marxist Economics” (1917 No.44).
Today is “Nakba Day” (Palestinian Catastrophe), which marks the violent dispossession of some 750,000 Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel, and the confiscation of over 90 percent of their land, which was instead made specifically available to Jews anywhere in the world. Today, Israel is an apartheid regime that enforces Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
The brutality of the racist Zionist state is typified with the IDF killing of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this week, a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic news channel who was in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank reporting on Israeli army raids. On Friday, Israeli forces had the audacity to attack Abu Akleh’s funeral procession as it marched in East Jerusalem. Israel is currently facing accusations of war crimes before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for systematically targeting journalists in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip and refusing to properly investigate the killings.
Although the UN Security Council has condemned the killing and called for an immediate probe into her death, the killing by the Israeli military is likely to go with impunity. Israel is not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC in 2002, refuses to cooperate with the court, and essentially does not recognize its authority. In addition, the US routinely runs diplomatic interference to shield Tel Aviv from international criticism, often vetoing UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel.
Read our analysis of the situation in “Israel-Palestine: Apartheid, Imperialism & Class” (1917 No.44).
The shooting last Saturday at Tops Friendly Market, in a Black-majority neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, is a dire warning to the oppressed and the working class, especially in Europe and North America. The Buffalo gunman, nourished by the horrifying ideology of the “great replacement” and all the filth of the online far-right, presents racist mass murder as the “solution” to the woes of capitalist society. He cites as “inspiration” the massacres in El Paso, Texas and Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019. His actions, in turn, will inspire others.
While liberals may rail against the “hate” and “evil” motivating such atrocities, they are both incapable and unwilling to address its material roots in capitalism. Their record on immigration, police violence, imperialist war, corporate bailouts, etc., is a sound testament to this.
Without the active intervention of the working class to deal a decisive blow to the fascists while they are still weak, social discontent will inevitably be channeled into the putrescent ideology of racism and white supremacy. Workers and the oppressed can and must come together to smash fascism. As we noted shortly after the fascist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017:
“History shows that the only way to effectively deal with this threat is by inflicting a series of humiliating and decisive defeats on the fascists before they are able to grow. Fascist movements recruit on the basis of displaying ‘strength’ and being tough. They are indifferent to denunciations from the media, the clergy or bourgeois politicians. Candlelight vigils, teach-ins and prayer services cannot be effective—what is necessary is militant united-front action by the labor movement, the organizations of the oppressed and all other potential victims of the fascists.”
—“No Platform for Fascists! Lessons from the Past—Strategy for Victory” (1917 No.40)
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”), a bloc of three key Pacific imperialists (Australia, Japan and the US) plus India, met in Tokyo yesterday. Ostensibly about free trade and maritime security, the Quad is primarily a pact aimed at containing China in the Indo-Pacific region—a proto-“Asian NATO”—and its meeting comes at a time when imperialist aggression against China is running hot.
While war rhetoric against Russia took up much of the summit, Biden used the opportunity to openly pledge military support to Taiwan, a clear provocation to China—similar to the US’ promise earlier in May to back up Japan in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute. Each of the Quad countries brings its own military issues to Tokyo, from the Himalayas to Solomon Islands, but the conference is equally driven by fear of Chinese economic expansion in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. To this end, Biden unveiled at the summit the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity,” a new economic alliance spanning over a dozen countries—and pointedly excluding China—in an attempt to curtail Beijing’s regional influence.
The tangle of military and economic interests in Tokyo is the latest phase in a campaign to surround, isolate, and ultimately overthrow the Chinese deformed workers’ state, along with the remaining gains of the 1949 Revolution. For all its condemnation of Chinese “provocations,” it is pro-imperialist blocs like the Quad that represent the greatest danger of world war. Marxists must unconditionally defend China against imperialist aggression and work towards revolution in the imperialist citadels as the means of halting the drive toward war.
For more on recent imperialist aggression against China, see our articles:
“Provoking China: Imperialists out of the South China Sea!” (1917 No.43)
“Imperialist Hypocrisy in the Pacific: Hands off Solomon Islands! Defend China!” (1917 No.46)
Faced with insultingly low pay offers amid rapid inflation and threatened cuts to services, railway workers in the RMT trade union are walking out for three days this week in the biggest rail strike in Britain in decades. At the national trade-union demonstration in London last weekend, the RMT contingent received an enthusiastic welcome from thousands of other workers who understand that standing up and fighting is the only way to address attacks on our living standards.
When workers are angry and mobilising, the trade-union leaders will throw around radical words from the podium, even mentioning a “general strike”, but will do little to facilitate militant struggle. Most unions remain tied to the Labour Party, led by a man who is actively opposing the rail strikes.
The bosses’ media is full of claims that wage increases will be bad for the economy. A revolutionary perspective turns that around and says that the capitalist economy is bad for workers—if it cannot even maintain wages to match inflation, we will never fully secure our living standards until we get rid of it for good!
See Trotsky’s Transitional Programme, our introduction and supporting documents on how the fight for what we need today logically extends to the need to get rid of capitalism forever.
On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the federally guaranteed right to an abortion. Over the coming months, tens of millions of Americans will lose access to safe reproductive healthcare, and thus control over their own bodies. Many will die from complications of pregnancy or botched attempts to induce abortion at home. Miscarriages will be criminalized, doctors jailed. The repeal of Roe v. Wade is a crushing defeat for the bourgeois-liberal fantasy of orderly, measured social progress, but it will be felt hardest by the working class.
No help will come from above. With Biden appealing for calm and pledging not to scrap the filibuster or appoint new judges, the toughest action the Democrats have taken has been to restrict protest outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, as they choose “civility politics” (policing their own base and blaming the left) over fighting the Republicans. Given a green light, the Court is lining up further rights to demolish—contraception, equal marriage rights and gay sex are already on the chopping block. Decades of civil rights gains for women and queer people may soon be erased.
What is to be done? It is clear that Americans want to fight. The protests erupting across the United States are commendable, as are the mutual aid networks set up to provide abortion access under illegal conditions. But these efforts can make little impact on the reactionary colossus without breaking with the dead-end Democrats and mobilizing the power of organized labor. We call for free abortion on demand, backed up by strike action and union defense guards for abortion facilities (legal or illegal). This requires a fight for a new class-struggle leadership in the unions, laying the groundwork for a revolutionary workers’ party that can overthrow the reactionary capitalist American state.
The reversal of Roe v. Wade has put abortion rights in the spotlight, but the US is far from the only country where reproductive rights are severely curtailed or under threat. In Poland, a 2020 court ruling declared abortion of malformed fetuses unconstitutional and the country now allows abortion only in the case of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s health.
Under pressure from mass mobilization, Mexico and the Republic of Ireland recently partially decriminalized abortion, but provision is still far from universal. Many Mexican states have yet to remove their abortion bans despite the national decriminalization.
In Ireland, long waiting times pose a formidable barrier to access, especially for the working class or in rural areas, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade has inspired reactionary counter-mobilizations that may in time threaten even the modest gains achieved so far. Meanwhile, the North of Ireland restricts abortion at a far greater level than the rest of the “United” Kingdom; not only is abortion prohibited after 12 weeks (the rest of the UK allows 24), but no abortion clinics actually operate in the North. This amounts to a ban for anyone who does not have the time and money to travel for an abortion. See “The Struggle for Abortion Rights in Ireland” (1917 No.36).
Abortion is a class issue. For as long as laws against abortion have existed, upper-class women have been able to obtain abortions—it is the working class and oppressed around the world who bear the brunt of any restrictions. The fight for women’s emancipation and reproductive rights cannot be separated from the struggle for a new social order governed not by private profit, but by human need—that is, the struggle for socialism.
On 4 August 1914, the parliamentary fraction of the German section of the Second International voted for war credits, thereby endorsing the imperialist aims of the ruling class in the First World War. This historic betrayal was echoed by social-democratic parties in France, Britain and across Europe.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks, however, stood for principled opposition to the imperialist war, called for the “defeat” of one’s own ruling class as the lesser evil, and sought to transform the imperialist war into a civil war (i.e., social revolution). Throughout the war the Bolsheviks fought to reorganize the European workers’ movement along these anti-imperialist lines and build a world party of socialist revolution based on an internationalist communist program. This, rather than the pro-imperialist chauvinism of Social Democracy, would be key to leading the Russian working class to power in October 1917.
Today, much of the official workers’ movement in countries aligned with the US-EU bloc join with their own bourgeoisie in denouncing the “evils” of Russian imperialism and the Chinese deformed workers’ state. While modern-day social patriotism supports proxies that Western imperialism itself pushes into conflict (such as Ukraine, Taiwan), revolutionaries instead insist: “The main enemy is at home.”
See “Revolutionaries & Imperialist War” (1917 No.45).
Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985-91, is no more. While celebrated by Western heads of state and pro-imperialist ideologues as a “giant” steering the former Soviet Union toward “democracy” and ending the Cold War, for revolutionary Marxists, Gorbachev will forever be reviled as the leading Stalinist bureaucrat during the last days of the USSR.
His market reforms (“perestroika”) and opening (“glasnost”) of Soviet society in the mid-1980s represented an impossibly desperate attempt to retain the basic structure of the Soviet state, grounded in a collectivized and planned economy, while making it acceptable to global capitalism. He attempted to zigzag between two wings of the Stalinist bureaucracy that crystallized as the USSR began to disintegrate in the late 1980s. As Leon Trotsky anticipated, pro-imperialist capitalist restorationists, spearheaded by Boris Yeltsin, were pitted against hardline conservatives (traditional Stalinists) who had the most to lose from a return to capitalism.
The August 1991 coup by the Emergency Committee, in which Gorbachev was arrested, was a half-hearted last-ditch effort by leading Stalinist apparatchiks to defend the status quo. The defeat of the coup was the definitive moment marking the end of the degenerated workers’ state, in which it was the duty of revolutionaries to bloc militarily with the coupists in their confrontation with the Yeltsinites.
For more on Gorbachev’s role in the August 1991 coup and an analysis of the counterrevolution in the former Soviet Union, see The Revolution Overthrown: How the Soviet Union was destroyed
As the late Elizabeth Windsor’s eldest son slides seamlessly into his new role as head of state, the sham of bourgeois democracy in the 15 countries in which he automatically becomes the sovereign stands exposed. King Charles III has spent his entire life not attempting to win the support of the population of those countries but biding his time to accept his birthright—a relic of feudalism in an era of necrotic capitalism.
In this period of “mourning”, revolutionaries remember all the victims of British imperialism during Elizabeth’s reign who did not live to see 96—from the massacres of the Mau Mau Rebellion to Chris Kaba, shot down by cops in London on Monday at the age of 23.
In Britain, the bourgeois press (“left” and “right”) is of course dishing out a steady diet of obsequiousness and flattery. Parliament has been suspended, football matches postponed and the trade-union bureaucrats have delayed the TUC congress and even called off planned strikes—all while working people continue to struggle in the face of a doubling of household energy bills and other rising costs.
Charles is not as popular as his mother, and it is possible that his ascension to the throne will undermine support for the institution in Britain and parts of the former empire. There is no better time than now: abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords! Ultimately, the oppressed will never be free so long as capitalism exists—but a struggle against the monarchy could be a step toward destroying the state that oversees and defends the bourgeois order.
Young people demonstrated across the globe on Friday to protest the inaction of governments in the face of the climate crisis. Generally associated with School Strike 4 Climate and Fridays for Future, these protests are an expression of profound mass discontent with the ongoing inability of the capitalist system to protect human life from the increasing devastations associated with climate change. But in most cases, the leadership of these movements do not identify the root of the problem: capitalism.
IBT supporter Elle Brocherie spoke at the Wellington School Strike for Climate demonstration on Friday 23 September:
“All these government parties—the Green Party, Labour, National, Te Pati Maori and those around the world—they are all forced to continue trying to find answers to this question: under production for profit, how can emissions be reduced far enough to prevent the most terrible loss of life in human history? All evidence so far from the last 60 years indicates production for profit is an absolute barrier to this task. But they keep trying. They tweak at the edges of the system. They have to.…
“But we don’t. Our brave school strikers, our proud trade unionists … we have other options. We do not require production for profit. In fact, we have to end production for profit. What does that mean? It means the expropriation of industry under workers’ democratic management. Of course, the Green Party is opposed to that irreconcilably. So we must build our movement, not behind the Green Party, but for workers’ independent organisation on a class programme.…”
See Class & Climate for a revolutionary approach to the ecological and climate crisis.
All the hue and cry in the Western corporate media about North Korea’s recent flurry of missile launches is designed to disguise the fact that the tests are a defensive posture in response to heightened imperialist provocations against the DPRK by the US and its East Asian allies, recklessly escalating military tensions on the peninsula.
American and South Korean forces carried out Ulchi Freedom Shield in August and September, their largest joint exercises in five years targeting the North. In late September, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two countries, where she denounced the North for “threaten[ing] peace and stability.” At the same time the US, Japan and South Korea staged joint naval exercises off the Korean peninsula involving several warships and a flotilla of combat aircraft. This in addition to the roughly 28,500 US troops permanently stationed on the peninsula, where Washington retains operational control over Seoul’s military in the event of war.
As we wrote the last time Washington threatened to use its massive arsenal against North Korea:
“As Marxists, we recognize the right of North Korea and China to defend themselves against imperialist aggression, including through the possession of nuclear weapons. At the same time, we have no confidence in the bureaucratic dictatorships that govern these deformed workers’ states—our perspective is one of proletarian political revolution to sweep away the Kim regime and its patron in Beijing and open the road to socialist transformation in East Asia. Only workers’ revolution on a global scale can bury the threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of imperialist predators.”
—“Hands Off North Korea!” (1917 No.40)
The victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (50.9%) over right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro (49.1%) in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election is no victory for the country’s working poor. While working-class militants will no doubt be happy to see the reactionary Bolsonaro ousted (and will rightly take to the streets in response to any attempt to retain power by force), they cannot give any political support to Lula and the PT’s aspirations to better administer Brazilian capitalism. Lula ran an openly class-collaborationist electoral campaign that sought to unite “democrats of all political positions, classes, races and religious beliefs.” His running mate, Geraldo Alckmin, who was specifically chosen to appeal to political moderates and appease international financial markets, has boasted that the incoming government’s commitment to “fiscal responsibility” is “non-negotiable.” Once in power, Lula and the PT will unambiguously govern on behalf of the interests of the Brazilian ruling class, and must be opposed by a movement based on the political independence of the Brazilian working class. A revolutionary party in Brazil would fight for the immediate interests of workers and all the oppressed and ultimately for socialist revolution and the creation of a Socialist Federation of Latin America in which the continent’s laboring masses can finally break the chains of imperialist domination.
As we noted in “Capitalist Necrosis & Right-Wing Populism”:
“Marxists are irreconcilably opposed to Lula’s popular-frontist aspirations and would never give him any political support. Calls for class collaboration between the workers’ movement and the ‘progressive’ bourgeoisie are a common response to right-wing populism, but this is a dangerous strategy that presents populism as an aberration rather than an option often selected by the ruling class and their political mouthpieces. The PT has a history of working with capitalist parties to appear more moderate and responsible to the Brazilian bourgeoisie.”
Fifty-five thousand educational assistants, custodians, early childhood educators, school library workers and administrative assistants (organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE]) began an indefinite province-wide strike across Ontario, Canada today affecting the public and Catholic school systems (both English and French-language). Among the key demands are an 11.7 percent annual salary raise, increases in overtime pay, remunerated prep time and better benefits and professional development. The strike is taking place amidst an inflationary crisis (currently 7 percent in Canada) and a decade of stagnating wages. From 2012 to 2021, the income of CUPE’s education workers, who on average earn a paltry $39,000 per year, grew by about only 8.5 percent, while inflation in Ontario was 17.8 percent, meaning essentially a massive pay cut over that period. Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government is offering an austerity contract: a meager 2.5 percent pay raise to those making less than $43,000, and 1.5 percent for all others.
In an outrageous attack on the right to strike, the government has responded to the labour action by passing the perversely named “Keeping Students in Class Act” (Bill 28), which outlaws the CUPE strike and uses the “notwithstanding” clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent any inconvenient constitutional legal challenges. The anti-strike legislation includes fines of up to $4,000 for individual workers and $500,000 for the union for every day they strike in defiance of the law.
The CUPE leadership has adopted a somewhat militant posture by defying the law, but they have been careful to avoid designating the action a “strike,” instead opting to describe it as a “withdrawal of labour” and “political protest.” Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions and one of the union’s lead negotiators, confirmed the union submitted a “counter offer” to the government midweek that contained many concessions. This is presumably designed to show Ford et al that the union leaders are prepared to negotiate a sellout contract and call the strike off, though the Tories have so far refused to budge.
Intrinsically adverse to class-struggle, the CUPE bureaucrats have been forced into action by a rank-and-file fed up with living on poverty wages. More far-sighted elements among the bureaucracy likely recognize the existential threat that passing “no strike” legislation poses to their social function as “safety valves” for the crumbling capitalist system, i.e., effectively containing social struggle.
A swift and decisive victory in this action has the potential to beat back the government offensive against workers in education and reinvigorate the labour movement province-wide. It is encouraging that 8,000 education workers in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union have announced a solidarity strike. So far, the leaders of the other four unions representing some 200,000 education workers in Ontario have refused to turn their rhetorical “solidarity” with CUPE into a call for their own members to walk out, despite the fact that they too are in faltering contract negotiations with the government. A concerted strike of all education workers in the province, in defiance of the anti-strike legislation, would be a powerful blow to the government’s attacks on education and other austerity measures.
A genuine class-struggle perspective can only be carried out by fighting and replacing the cowering, reformist-legalist careerists who currently lead Ontario’s unions. We desperately need a wider defensive action of the working class—a general strike—not only to win this particular struggle and assert our rights but to breathe new life into the labour movement.
Victory to CUPE!
Down with Ford’s anti-strike legislation!
For a defensive general strike against government attacks!
Today is the 105th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the greatest event in modern history. Key to the Bolsheviks’ victory was their ability to build a revolutionary anti-war movement that opposed all sides in the bloodbath of the First World War. That perspective is no less important today with the ongoing war in Ukraine, an escalation of great power rivalry for spheres of influence, and a heightened prospect of yet another global inter-imperialist military conflict (i.e.,world war). The task of revolutionaries in the current war in Ukraine, much as in 1917, is to advocate revolutionary defeatism on both sides, first and foremost of one’s own imperialist ruling class—“The main enemy is at home.”
See “Revolutionaries & Imperialist War” (1917 No.45).
As the United States goes to the polls in the midterm elections, neither Republicans nor Democrats (no matter how “progressive”) offer anything close to the needs of American workers. As we wrote last year in “Democrats in Power” (1917 No.44):
“Democrats, like Republicans, have faithfully administered American capitalism for generations, including over the last 40 years of stagnating working-class living standards and the funneling of wealth to the top 0.1 percent of the population. Although there are minor differences between the two parties (in recent years largely centering on social issues), the Republicans and the Democrats articulate and pursue the needs of big capital with equal zeal….
“The alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, however, cannot be some sort of progressive “populist” organization. It must be built, through everyday struggles, on the firm foundation of working-class independence from all wings of the capitalists. At a basic level, this means the struggle for a new party must take place within the working class. This includes its main existing institutions, the trade unions, which are controlled by a labor bureaucracy that is tied by a thousand threads to the Democratic party and must be fought from within organized labor.
“Beyond organizational independence from the capitalists, a workers’ party worthy of the name must be built around a political program that is at once hostile to capitalism and imperialism and committed to advancing the struggle for working-class power and a workers’ government. A revolutionary workers’ party would advocate labor strikes to stop imperialist aggression abroad and make material gains for ordinary people. It would champion the rights of the oppressed everywhere and declare its intention to link arms with workers around the world to rid the planet of a system that has brought humanity to the brink of destruction.”
The UN-sponsored Conference of Parties (COP27) concluded over the weekend. While COP27 attendees, diplomats and the corporate media are hailing the supposed “historic moment” of a new funding agreement for countries most affected by climate change, those seeking to sincerely address the ecological devastation of earth must look elsewhere.
This year’s conference was dominated by the presence of the fossil fuel industry, giving the annual event a trade fair atmosphere—over six hundred attendees connected to the oil and gas industry were on site as part of country delegations and trade teams. Unsurprisingly, the conference’s final statement reflected this influence: it failed to clearly commit to a common goal to contain overall global temperature increases, cut carbon emissions, or even promise to phaseout fossil fuels. Of course, forums where capitalist politicians and bourgeois governments gather to ostensibly tackle climate change, like the COP confabs, can only ever result in token measures under which the fundamentals of the destructive profit-driven capitalist system remain firmly intact. Ultimately, a world socialist government, led by the international working class, is the only framework under which we can begin to seriously confront the existential threat of climate change.
See Class & Climate for a revolutionary approach to the ecological and climate catastrophe.
Biden’s legislation outlawing the impending nation-wide railroad strike is an outrageous attack aimed at the entire US labor movement. A particularly pernicious role was played by key members of the so-called “Squad” of left liberals in the Democratic Party affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Pseudo-socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush voted for the anti-strike bill in the House of Representatives that imposed the tentative agreement on the unions, thereby breaking the strike. In an attempt to alibi their betrayal and provide left cover for the Democratic Party in squashing strike action, the DSA members, backed by Bernie Sanders, introduced a separate bill—ultimately defeated—granting seven days sick leave, not even half the number rail workers had originally demanded and much less important than the fundamental right to strike.
“Progressives” in the Democrats are now scrambling to defend their role in imposing the rail contract and crushing the strike. The DSA has issued a statement distancing itself from AOC et al, stating that they “disagree and are disappointed with the decision … to needlessly vote to enforce the TA [tentative agreement].” Sanders even bizarrely described the defeat of the bill that included the seven days paid sick leave as “both a victory and a loss.”
Victory for railroad workers, and in any other labor dispute, will necessarily require defying the laws, from Taft-Hartley to this week’s use of the Railway Labor Act, that are designed to prevent strikes. It is necessary for American workers to break with the Democrats and expose those, like the “Squad” and Sanders, who serve as the left wing of US imperialism.
DSA/“Squad” sell out rail workers
Defy anti-union laws! Defend the right to strike!
For further analysis see “Democrats in Power: ‘Woke’ Liberalism in the Service of Imperialism” (1917 No.44).