A period of great opportunities to build the forces of Marxism
The 19th, 20th and 21st of July we celebrated the I Congress of the International Revolutionary Left in Madrid. With an attendance of 160 comrades from the Spanish State, Portugal, Mexico, Venezuela and Germany, we had three intense and exciting days of debates about the perspectives for the class struggle and the exceptional period we are currently facing. In these three days of fraternizing our will and determination to continue the task of building the forces of revolutionary Marxism became clear.
The capitalist system in all its spheres is suffering an unprecedented crisis since the 30s of the last century, with a growing and increasingly acute political and social polarization on every continent, with movements towards revolution and counterrevolution, and highlighting, as noted in all discussions during Congress, the emergence of the masses on the political scene.
Leon Trotsky wrote in one of his most relevant works: "the most unquestionable characteristic feature of revolutions is the direct intervention of the masses in historical events."
The revolutionary crisis in Catalonia, the massive mobilizations and strikes in defense of the rights of working women, the upsrising of the yellow vests in France, the insurrections in Honduras, Algeria or Sudan, the recent general strikes in Argentina and Brazil against the reactionary governments of Macri and Bolsonaro, the mass demonstrations in Hong Kong in defense of democratic rights, the successful strikes of the maquila working class in Matamoros (Mexico), or the youth movement against climate change... are expressions of the class action of the oppressed, of the consciousness raising against the system, and a clear proof of a favorable correlation of forces to change society.
Capitalist crisis and the struggle for world hegemony fuel class struggle
The Congress began with a broad discussion of the World Perspectives, highlighting the growing imbalances and contradictions that the world capitalist order is experiencing and which we see reflected very clear in the struggle between the imperialist powers for the world hegemony, and essentially in the war between the ruling class of China and the US in order to control the markets and the main sources of wealth on the planet.
China appears increasingly as the imperialist power of the future, disputing the US the undisputed supremacy that it had maintained in the capitalist field throughout the twentieth century and which was strengthened after the collapse of the URRS and the restoration of the market economy in the Stalinist countries.
The origin of all these imbalances, of the brutal inter-imperialist dispute and also the origins of the growing commercial war that threatens with a new recession, is the inability of the capitalist system to overcome the limitations imposed by the overproduction crisis, and the boundaries that private ownership and the national state represent for the development of the productive forces.
The elements that led to the economic crisis in 2007/2008 are still present and have continued to develop and worsen, giving rise to a new speculative bubble of greater dimensions than the one that burst ten years ago. The public, private, financial and business debt exceeds 320 percent of world GDP, and there is a general stagnation of productive investment.
Throughout the discussion on Friday afternoon, 10 comrades took the floor, addressing the situation of deep social and political polarization in the US that has been reflected in important strikes, in the support for Bernie Sanders, and also, in the opposite direction, with the reactionary politics of Trump and his Government. We also discussed the very serious political crisis experienced by the British bourgeoisie, unprecedented since the nineteenth century, facing a dead end generated by Brexit, and the fear in that context of an electoral victory for Corbyn. The continuity of the mobilizations in France of the yellow vests and the increasingly repressive and authoritarian action of the State confronting this authentic popular rebellion, or the uprising of the Hong Kong masses against both the corrupt Government of the former colony and the powerful Chinese totalitarian state.
The comrade of the Offensiv group in Germany highlighted the situation of polarization which this key country is experiencing, which has been reflected in important strike movements in the metal and health sector, or in massive social movements such as the one in Berlin demanding the expropriation of housing own by large real estate companies. On the other hand, the rise of Alternative for Germany is also a reflection of this polarization, and a consequence of the austerity policies and cuts by the coalition government between the CDU and the SPD. In her speech, she pointed out the failure of Die Linke's leadership to offer a consistent socialist and anti-capitalist alternative to the parties of the establishment.
Another important aspect was the analysis of the recent Greek elections, where the right returned to power in the heat of the betrayal of Syriza to the mandate of the OXI and its austerity policies, demonstrating that there are no middle roads, or giving in to the capitalists and assuming its policies, or with the working class and youth struggling to break with the logic of the market, austerity and for socialism.
The situation experienced in the Spanish State was also analyzed, with the possible and increasingly likely formation of a coalition Government between the PSOE and Podemos, which will open a new and unprecedented situation in the class struggle.
A Government that will have to manage the sentence of the Procés trial (the political trial against the pro-independence leaders in Catalonia), and decide on the cuts of 15,000 million euros already requested by Brussels. We discussed the national question, which is decisive in the Spanish State, as it was demonstrated during the revolutionary crisis in Catalonia two years ago, and we also discussed about the character and historical roots of Spanish nationalism as the banner of the reactionary right wing political forces.
Another important part of the debate was devoted to the rise of the extreme right as another inevitable expression of the social polarization and the Bonapartist tendencies that are strengthened in numerous capitalist governments in order to confront the working class and its struggles. Also, we underlined our firm position against racism and xenophobia, a poison that the bourgeoisie introduces among the working class to divide their ranks. An organization that declares itself a Marxist must fight these prejudices by fire and sword not yielding an inch in this aspect.
The Portuguese comrades explained the role of the PS Government in Portugal, which has maintained austerity policies and repressed major strikes by resorting to laws which allow the prohibition of strikes and even using the army to replace workers in the important strike of the drivers of hazardous materials, with the collaboration of the leaderships of the Left Bloc and the Communist Party. A situation which will open great opportunities for the forces of revolutionary Marxism in the next period.
The Permanent Revolution theory today
On Saturday morning we held a political education session focused on the validity of the theory of Permanent Revolution.
As it was explained during the lead off, both in the revolutionary processes experienced in Latin America and in the so-called Arab Spring, has been confirmed the full validity of the permanent revolution. In all these countries the essential tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution, the agrarian reform, the consolidation of democratic rights (freedom of expression, of demonstration, etc), the liberation of the imperialist yoke, labor and trade union rights, the secularity of the State, etc., can only be achieved by the working class fighting for the socialist revolution and grouping under their banner all oppressed sectors.
This is what we see again in the case of the revolutionary uprisings of Algeria and Sudan, which were analyzed in depth, highlighting the need to extract the lessons of the Arab Spring, especially about the impossibility of establishing bourgeois democratic regimes in these countries, as its was try to sell out. One crucial aspect in the Middle East is the oppressive and brutal role that imperialism plays in the area, condemning the masses to barbarism and despair, as we have seen in Syria or Iraq, or as we see in the brutal oppression of Zionism against the Palestinian people.
On the other hand, we addressed the processes experienced during the last years in Latin America, where we see the failure of the leftist reformist policies, unable to solve the essential problems of the masses as a result of refusing to break with the logic of the capitalist system. All this led to the return to power of the right in the two key countries of the continent, Argentina and Brazil, and a process of counterrevolution in Venezuela that has plunged the country into an economic catastrophe.
However, these processes cannot be explained as a result of a generalized turn to the right of the masses, as it is now confirmed by the massive general strikes against the reactionary and austerity policies of Macri and Bolsonaro, or in the difficulties that oligarchy and imperialism are facing when they try to impose its coup strategy in Venezuela.
We see another significant example in Mexico, where the historic victory of the left with the election of López Obrador has encouraged a triumphant strike movement in the industrial states of the North. On the other hand, the catastrophic social situation in Central America has produced important mobilizations in Panama, Guatemala or Costa Rica, and especially the revolutionary insurrection lived in Honduras, which has put the right-wing JOH (Juan Orlando Hernández) Government and the State apparatus itself on the brink.
Building the forces of the International Revolutionary Left
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning we continued the debate on building the forces of the International Revolutionary Left, highlighting the full validity of Trotsky's statement when he pointed out that the crisis of humanity is the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.
Building our International and the revolutionary party becomes a decisive task because, despite there are the mature objective conditions for the socialist transformation of society, it is the absence of a revolutionary Marxist force with mass influence the key factor that has prevented those revolutionary crises and processes from ending in a victory, either in Venezuela and Latin America, in the Arab world, or in Greece. As Trotsky already pointed out, "victory is a strategic task."
At this point there were numerous interventions that put on the table the work developed during the last months. A work based on defending a unified Marxist principled program in all the sections of our International, and linking ourselves through action with the most dynamic and conscious sectors of the youth and the working class.
A fundamental aspect of our strategy has been the systematic intervention in the labor movement and its unions defending a class, combative and revolutionary trade unionism, and developing solid roots among the vanguard of the working class and the working youth to take forward their struggles, their organization and their consciousness and to conquer victories against the bosses. In this sense we highlighted the battle of the Revolutionary Left comrades in the shipyards of Ferrol, where after a strong campaign of the company and CCOO in order to try to prevent us from being on the company workers committee, we achieved an historic result with 3 worker delegates in the last union elections, only one vote away from obtaining the fourth delegate. We also explained the campaign organized in the factory of Ford in Valencia against the sack of an IR comrade and the sympathy and solidarity awakened as a result of it. A fundamental point to highlight in this sense is the need to carry out a principled trade union work, earning our positions from below, among the working class, with patient work, and avoiding diplomatic relations with the trade union bureaucracy, right or left, which in general participates, actively or passively, in the attacks against the working class and against those struggling trade unionists who do not fold into the trade union policy of the “lesser evil”.
On the feminist front, we have been fighting a decisive battle against the attempt of the social democracy and the petit bourgeois feminism to dilute the class and fighting content of this wonderful movement trying to make it harmless. The role of feminist organization Libres y Combativas and Sindicato de Estudiantes (Student’s Union) in the Spanish State was highlighted both in the victory obtained with the recent sentence against The Wolf pack, and in the successful feminist general strike of March 8, with more than 400,000 young people throughout the State demonstrating behind the banners of the Student’s Union and Libres y Combativas, so, under the program of a revolutionary and anti-capitalist class feminism.
The work done in the youth movement was also highlighted, in defense of public education and against climate change, highlighting the student strike on March 15 and the work of Portuguese comrades in this movement defending a revolutionary and anti-capitalist ecologism. The next climate strike on September 20 and 27 was discussed, pointing out the need to denounce the hypocritical discourse of green capitalism and of those guilty of the catastrophe that threatens us, the capitalists and the governments at their service.
Detailed reports were given of our activity in the Spanish State, Portugal, Mexico, Venezuela and Germany, highlighting the need to build solid leadership bodies and revolutionary cadres capable of withstanding the pressures of the class struggle.
An example of the kind of organization we want to build was reflected in the reports of our worker’s press, highlighting the achievement of having conquered a regular quality press in all our sections, with the two monthly newspapers in Spanish and Catalan in the Spanish State, a bimonthly newspaper in Basque and another quarterly dedicated to the feminist movement, a newspaper every month and a half in Mexico and bimonthly newspaper in Portugal, and even, despite serious difficulties, a bulletin every three months in the case of Venezuela. On the other hand, the German comrades will start from September to publish a bimonthly newspaper in their new journey with Revolutionary Left.
Another fundamental aspect was the discussion about revolutionary finances, which must be independent of the state apparatus and the capitalists. The best proof of it was the record collection obtained at the Congress which reflects the mood and confidence of all the members of Revolutionary Left. It was elected too the new leadership bodies of our International, ending the Congress singing the International and Grândola Vila Morena.
Undoubtedly it has been an historic Congress, and a new and very necessary grouping of the forces of Marxism on an international scale, in order to prepare ourselves for the enormous challenges of the class struggle in the next few years.
The labor leaders and the reformist leaders of social democracy and the new formations of the left try to impose an amnesia on the working class, talking about the absence of consciousness or the lack strength to change society. But Marxists are inspired by the countless events of the class struggle that we have experienced in recent years. Undoubtedly, the impetus and decision of the working class and youth to change the world are our source of inspiration.